Starting a Blog?
Have you ever thought about starting a blog? It really is a lot of fun to share what you are passionate about. Rose and I are both teachers and we love to educate people about things that we love. So, for us, a blog was a natural extension of our personalities. You also should think about whether or not this is just a hobby blog or whether you want to eventually earn money to support the amount of time you spend on the blog. If you aren't sure, I would recommend setting up the foundation of your blog as a business whether you use it or not. It is much easier to do that as you set it up.
Where Do You Begin?
You should start with a business name and come up with a domain name. You can check a site like Domain Name Search to see if your domain name is available. Try to focus on something that tells the readers about the blog or about you. For example, our blog name is a little of both. Crocheters and knitters will recognize "stitch" and the "in progress" as part of work in progress. We had talked about other names, but felt they didn't really apply to our focus area and just using our names tells our readers nothing about what we offer. If you do choose a name that is not as clear, just make sure that you have a great tagline to explain what your blog is about.
Are you blogging with a partner? If so, one of you will need to take the lead on the business side of the house. Most companies just want one name to deal with. If you are joining forces with someone as a partner, then I recommend starting an official LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) Partnership. Rose and I did that and we also created a partnership agreement that we both signed. Again, it it better to iron out those things first. Law Depot has a great partnership agreement and that is the one we used.
If you are doing this on your own, you can just set up a Sole Proprietorship for your state. Check with your state business agency to see what you have to do in your state to register your business or your business name. Most Sole Proprietorship just use the name of the person running the business, but you can create a business name and use that. Most states have you then fill out a DBA (Doing Business As) form to register your business name.
Are you planning to send out newsletters or information to your readers via email? If so, you are legally required to have a physical address on the email to show you aren't a spammer. We did not want to use our personal addresses, so we got a Post Office Box. You can sign up for a PO Box and then use the physical address of the post office instead of just PO Box 1234. The only place where you need a true address is on your taxes and your bank account.
Keep track of everything! We have a spreadsheet where we track our expenses and any money we have spent on anything blog related. We keep a folder in our email for any receipts and we take pictures of email receipts to save. When it is time to do our taxes, we don't want to forget anything!
Now that you have all that set up, it is time to get technical. Head over to Bluehost and sign up for your account! Start with the basic site. The only add-on I recommend at this time is the privacy add-on to limit the amount of spam and companies calling you. Once you are in, you can set up your business email address and begin using that for all your other logins. I wouldn't mix your personal email information in with your blog...it gets too confusing.
Once you have your Bluehost account set up, then install WordPress. This is easy to do and you can see the steps in Bluehost. WordPress is the actual site you will go to blog, Bluehost is the hosting service.
Use the Bluehost support tools if you need them...don't be afraid to call or ask questions to learn. They are there for you! Also, go to YouTube and search for any questions you have. So many people have posted about how to do things. Take advantage of those videos to learn!
Once you have your WordPress site installed, then start thinking about themes for your site to make it look good. You can use the free ones WordPress offers, or you can purchase a theme. We purchased the Inspired Theme from Beautiful Dawn Designs. I highly recommend her work if you are looking for a feminine theme.
Now that you have the basics, start thinking about what you want to say! I will be writing more about the other technical tools we use to blog and what we recommend. Have fun and let us know if you have any questions!