Are you looking to start a blog soon? Here’s how we started a blog on a budget and how you can too!
We Started a Blog on a Budget
I’ve had over five blogs in the past 10 or so years that I have been blogging. While my last blog was the first one I truly went public with and was serious about, I have technically been blogging for over 10 years. In fact, my previous blog was probably the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent blogging on one blog.
In recent years, I have received questions asking how we started our blog, what host we use, and what plugins we utilize. Some of them have come from other people on Instagram hoping to create blogs for their accounts and others are from people curious about the process that goes into it. While I am always happy to answer those questions, I figured it would be much more helpful to create a blog post as a virtual resource that hopefully addresses some of the questions.
I am not an expert, but I hope in sharing with you some of the resources and tools we’ve utilize to create blogs, that this may be helpful to you.
1. DECIDE ON A MISSION AND VISION FOR YOUR SITE
Before you do anything else, I’d recommend coming up with not only your name, but I’d recommend deciding essentially the purpose of your blog. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to encourage and inspire? Is it to inform and provide a resource? Is it for a business you’re hoping to start or a creative outlet? Identifying what you hope to accomplish with your blog is key because it will also help inform other decisions you’ll need to make, such as our next suggestion.
AVERAGE COST: FREE!
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
After coming up with a mission, I’d recommend deciding on your name and doing your research in that particular niche. For example, before we agreed on a name, I did queries for “A Cup of Kims” and other variations of it to see if it already existed. If someone had the name “A Cup of Kims” we’d be back to the drawing board and would have to come up with something else. In my research, I noticed that there was not “A Cup of Kims” and there was not a blog with that name that covered the same topics we covered. Therefore, I knew I was in the clear to use the name we decided on using.
I also spent time researching certain niches that we planned to discuss on our blog in combination with locations we knew we’d feature. We knew we wanted to feature places in the United States and we knew that we wanted to focus on living and experience travel on a budget. While budget travel is a topic that you can find on a ton of awesome blogs that cover it as well, I knew that there was still something unique we could add to the pool of tips and advice. Plus it made the most sense for us.
I would recommend that before even deciding on a host to research the niche you’re hoping to go into. Deciding on a blog name is a big decision and while you can always change your blog’s domain name later, it’s a pain and requires a lot of rebranding that will take some time and money to clean up. Trust me – even just switching over from my old blog to this one that we share together took a lot of rebranding. It’s better to decide ahead of time before you take the next financial step.
AVERAGE COST: FREE!
3. DECIDE ON A WEBSITE HOST & PURCHASE A DOMAIN
When you are in the process of creating a blog for the first time, I’d recommend doing your research on a host. For those who do not know, your website host is the company that will be hosting your website. You pay a fee, oftentimes per year, to have your website safely and securely managed on the back-end by that host. They provide support if your website is down or if you have a question about the backend.
While it’s up to you to select a host and there’s a ton of amazing hosts out there, I personally recommend SiteGround because that’s what I’ve used and what we continue to use today. They have amazing site support and are easy to count on 24-7. There have been so many times that I’ve submitted a support ticket or entered a chat with an agent and they’ve responded almost immediately. They have dashboards that are compatible with WordPress.org, which is what we currently use for our interface. It’s also pretty reasonable in terms of price, depending on when you sign up and what size you’re looking for.
BONUS SUGGESTION – IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD A HOST, PURCHASE YOUR DOMAIN OR TEMPORARILY BLOG ON A FREE HOST
Although you can easily create a website on a free platform such as WordPress.com, any content you share, they own and they have the ability at any moment to delete your blog. Many free versions of site hosts can do this, because you do not own your domain. This is why I’d recommend if you can afford it to purchase your domain to not only secure your blog’s name but secure your content.
If you’re not quite at that step, you can absolutely start a free blog using Blogspot, Wix, Weebly, or WordPress! I used WordPress and Blogpost for quite a few years before purchasing my domain and have used both Wix and Weebly for work-related sites.
AVERAGE COST: $9+ a month depending on the host and the plan.
4. DOWNLOAD A THEME
While there are a ton of really nice themes out there, you do not necessarily have to invest in the most expensive theme to get a responsive layout for your blog. When I first started blogging, I actually used the generic one that comes with the website for free. WordPress.org even provides some theme options, if you’re looking for something a little more minimal that you can build upon using plugins. However, if you want something a little more designed on a budget, Etsy has a ton of great options for theme layouts. Quite a few of my previous blog layouts have come from Etsy.
It’s important to note that unless you have the Genesis Child Theme installed, you will need to either purchase that separately for most themes or find ones that have the Genesis Child theme integrated in it.
AVERAGE COST: Depends on the theme, but I’d recommend if you’re just starting to start with something basic and then build upon it through your customizations.
5. DECIDE ON YOUR PLUGINS
Plug-ins are, in my opinion, some of the best things you can add to your blog to make it fully customizable, user-friendly and functional. Whether you’re looking to add an Instagram feed to the bottom of your blog (we currently use Instagram Feed) or a plugin to help you shrink the space your photographs take up (SMUSH), there’s a plug-in for everything. In addition to the Instagram one, we currently use love Better Click to Tweet for providing an option for people to share on social media.
AVERAGE COST: FREE, but depends on the plugin as some of them are paid!
6. ADD WIDGETS TO YOUR THEME
One of the great things about sites like WordPress is the interface is really easy to use. If you want to add certain plugins or widgets to your site, you can easily do so to give your space a unique, customized look. For example, on the primary sidebar of our blog, we used Canva to create the circular About Me image, Simple Social Icons to highlight our social media accounts for the blog, Reward Style for our shop widgets and the official Pinterest widget to showcase one of my favorite boards. All of those widgets and plugins are free to use and immediately add a bit of customization to our theme. I’d encourage you to research whatever widgets you hope to find on your blog and you’d be surprised how many of them provide free versions.
I’d recommend checking to make sure its been tested with your version of WordPress, however, to ensure that it won’t crash your site.
AVERAGE COST: FREE!
7. CREATE CONTENT
Lastly, I’d suggest creating content for your blog. Maybe your first post is a welcome post explaining what your blog hopes to accomplish and introducing yourself. Perhaps you’ve acquired a following on social media and would like your first post to be about the content you’re hoping to share. Whatever it is, I’d recommend getting started on sharing your content. Even if you do not intend to publicly share your content right away, it’s great to have a few posts already on the blog. It not only helps to increase your SEO rank, but if gives you an opportunity to get used to posting content that reflects your voice and creating a schedule that feels comfortable for you without worrying about promoting it.
For example, when we officially made the switch to start blogging together, there were posts and ideas we had scheduled already, so that the moment the official switch was made, it’d be ready to go live after some rebranding edits. Since you’re starting fresh, it would be a matter to building your content archive, getting acquainted with writing online, and developing your blogger’s voice.
We hope this post was helpful to you! Blogging can be an investment, but if you’re interested in starting a blog, there are ways to cut costs to either do it for free or on a significant budget.
There are other things that go into blogging, but for the sake of time, I will end this post here. If you have any questions, however, feel free to email or DM us and we’ll gladly answer it in the DM or in a future post, if that may be helpful.