How To Start a Personal Blog (That Doesn’t Suck…)

Let’s just get this out of the way now. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but as a believer of “tough-love”, I have to say it:

Your first blog will probably suck. Actually, it could be down right terrible and boring.

But, that’s the beauty of blogging, because the more you write the better you’ll get! (At least that’s what they say about practice…). Before The Quirky Pineapple Studio was created, there were over 5 blogs I had before that. If you count my Xanga accounts, MySpace, Tumblr, Blogspot to Blogger, WordPress, and written journals – I had it all. And then, I deleted almost all of them. I’m sure there are a few other blogs floating around the internet with my name on it (please, don’t go looking for them!). I’ve been blogging since I was 13 years old with the goal to become a full-time blogger by the time I was 20-something. I’m almost there y’all! With over a decade of experience in the blogging sphere, I’m sharing my golden nuggets with you today on how to start a personal blog (that doesn’t suck…).

Steps to start a blog:

  1. Decide what you want to blog about
  2. Pick your blog’s name (aka domain name)
  3. Decide on a host site (so you can make money with your blog)
  4. Install WordPress (because WordPress is my favorite platform I’ve used thus far)
  5. Pick a theme
  6. Get brainstorming & writing!
  7. Create connections with other bloggers

Step 01: Decide what you want to blog about

This step is CRUCIAL. I know when I started a blog, I wanted to blog about everything. Fashion, families (I wasn’t even a mom), travel, DIY crafts, home life, gardening… you name it, I probably wrote about it. It wasn’t until I niched down and decided on a subject (or three subjects), that I saw my blog pick up and become more popular. When I finally created The Quirky Pineapple and stick to it, I decided that I specifically wanted to blog about travel.

One of the biggest struggles I see new bloggers make, is blogging about one too many things. Yes, if you have commitment issues like I do, it’s hard to pick just ONE thing to write about. But, let me share a few questions with you that might help you figure out what your sweet spot is for your blog:

  • What are a few things that you are passionate about? (These things need to be next level hobbying)
  • What do your friends, family, random strangers ask you about?
  • Do you have a strong opinion on a subject?
  • Does your background or experience in something give you a unique perspective on a topic?

When working with my Blog Strategy clients, I like to hand out a questionnaire that has these four questions and more, to dig deep and find a blogger’s sweet spot for content. I know you’ve got something to share, you just have to pick a niche to write about! (And *high-five* to you, if that topic is something you’re already interested in and have a lot of great information/resources on!)

Step 02: Pick your blog’s name (aka domain name)

If picking a topic to write about is already hard, I’m sure deciding on a blog name is next level agony. I try not to stress too much when it comes to naming things, because they can always be changed, right? When thinking about your blog name, it’s always tricky because some people build personal brands and others build a completely separate brand. For example, The Quirky Pineapple Studio is a brand in itself and can stand alone. I have created this name to embody inspiration, hospitality, and fun in all the work that I produce!

Here are some tips to creating your blog’s name, and how you can decide what works best for you. Really, don’t stress too much, because a blog name can always be changed in the future!

  • What is your blog about?
  • Make a list of adjectives that you’d want to describe your blog and the message you want to share.
  • Do you want to build a personal brand or a stand alone brand?
  • Are there any keywords about your specific blog niche that could be incorporated into your blog name? (ie: “travel” for a travel blogger?)

A domain name is your blog’s name, essentially, but as a standalone. For example, if I had not paid for my domain name, mine would be: thequirkypineapple.wordpress.com. Since I paid for my domain name through a host server, my website won’t show up with “wordpress.com,” but instead just be: thequirkypineapple.com. If you want to take your blog seriously in the future, I definitely suggest buying a domain name to have a more professional appearance online!

*PRO TIP: Before picking your blog name and confirming/purchasing it, make sure that you can also create social media channels with the same name! It’s much easier and consistent to keep cohesive social media handles then be sporadic.

*PRO TIP #2: Don’t jump the gun and buy a domain name just yet, because some hosting sites will give you the option of a FREE domain name or the option to purchase one, for cheaper!

Read about how I picked the name, The Quirky Pineapple!

Step 03: Decide on a host site (so you can make money with your blog)

This is definitely the less glamorous side of blogging, but one that is SO important if you want to start making money with your blog! Having a self-hosted website means you’re now in control of what you do; it’s where your blog “lives” on the Internet! It also effects a users experience in regards to site speed and accessibility. When most bloggers start, they create their blog on different platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Squarespace, etc.). While this is great for newer bloggers to get started, in order to grow, a blog needs to be self-hosted to be able to include ads and more. Here are a few hosting sites to look into:

  • Go Daddy!
  • Hostgator
  • Siteground (my hosting site!)

All of these sites allow you to remove yourself from the free platforms (ie: WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Weebly, etc) and create, in essence, your own website that you can manipulate how you please. When I started The Quirky Pineapple, I was using the free version of WordPress, but paying for a domain name. In order to really start my own business and build my blog, I decided to switch to a self-hosting platform and found that Siteground was a great fit!

Step 04: Install WordPress (because WordPress is my favorite platform I’ve used thus far!)

Now that you’ve signed up for hosting, you’ll be asked to create a WordPress account. I’ve had blogs on all different platforms, but WordPress is the best one I’ve used. They do require that you are a bit more coding savvy, but if you’re not, knowing basic coding is easy enough to pick up through Google.

Wordpress set up

Wordpress set up

Then, your host will prompt you to pick a theme. I know that picking a theme can suck the life out of you (speaking from experience here, I used to scroll through free themes for hours…), but don’t think too much on this because you can always change your theme later. This is just a placeholder for now, so that you can start building your site!

Wordpress set up

Seriously, now you start building your site!

The next screen will ask you to pick what kind of site you have. If you’re not sure, don’t worry about it and skip this step for now. What is really important now, is the black column on the left of your screen. This is where you’ll be “living” and learning about your new website! On the left, you can find: your host, Jetpack, Dashboard, Posts, etc. The Dashboard is the main screen you’ll see every time you log in. Here you can find stats about your pages, what drafts you’ve got, and any news from your host or WordPress.

Step 05: Pick a theme (again)

You’ve explored a bit around your new Dashboard, maybe even got started drafting a couple blog posts, and now it’s time to make your site look nice! In the beginning, we picked a theme as a placeholder, but now let’s pick a theme that could actually work with what you’re trying to blog about. In Step 1, we decided what our blog is going to be about (ie: crafts, DIY, traveling, fashion, tech, etc). The type of theme you have for your blog is going to be important depending on the type of content that you’ll be creating.

For example, if you wanted to blog about photography or travel, maybe you’d want a theme that was more visual and allowed more options for readers to see your travel photos? Or, if you’re blogging about tech, maybe you want a theme that was sleek, modern, and clean, so that readers focus on your content. Again, don’t put too much stress on this, because picking a theme can be daunting, and the most important part is the content you create, anyways.

Head to the left column and go down to “Appearance.” Hover over that link to find “Themes”. From there, you can scroll through more free themes or paid themes and select the one that you like the most and would be the best fit for your blog. After picking a theme, go back to “Appearance” and hover over the link to find “Customize”. Here, you can edit your theme to your liking with specific colors, fonts, etc!

The Quirky Pineapple Studio dashboard

*PRO TIP: Depending on the theme that you choose, your customize menu may look a bit different than mine! This was what my menu looked like on my most recent theme.

Step 06: Get brainstorming and writing!

HOORAY! You’re almost a blogger! But before you can call yourself an official blogger, you’re going to need some blog posts on your website. This is one of my FAVORITE parts on how to start a personal blog; creating content! In Step 1, we decided what we’d blog about – that’s a great place to start for picking posts. If your blog is about cooking, are you sure you want to be blogging about a DIY activity that you did over the weekend? Picking topics that are aligned with your niche will help your blog grow steadily from the beginning.

Here are some tips to help you get brainstorming:

  • Have a notes section on your phone where you can jot down ideas/inspiration when they come to you
  • If you receive a lot of questions from family, friends, or random strangers – that could be a blog post!
  • Do you have a strong opinion on something that would fit in with your niche?
  • Teach people how to do something
  • Explain about a topic that is easy to you but could be difficult to others
  • Share inspiration to motivate your readers to take action

If writing isn’t your biggest strong suit, but you still want to have a blog, I can help:

  • Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to write (or type) out ideas
  • Start by creating small blurbs (or social media posts) on your notes to share (or not share)
  • Read books from authors that inspire you
  • Browse other blogs that are either in your niche or not (but don’t copy them – and try not to compare yourself)
  • Do your own research about topics you’re interested in and see how you can dissect the information into easy to read chunks
  • Work with a blogging coach (like me!)

The biggest take away is to just start writing and don’t think too much about it. I’ll share some tough-love with you: most people probably won’t read your blog posts in the beginning and your first post might actually suck. But, the great thing about that is the more you write, the better you’ll get! And it’s better to get started than to wait until everything is “perfect“.

Group of people networking
Always Creating Brunch at Burtons Bar & Grill, Photography by Calm, Pretty, Ingsightful

Step 07: Create connections with other bloggers

The last step with how to start a personal blog is to make connections.

You’ve picked what you want to blog about.

You’ve got a name for your blog.

You’re self-hosted, with a domain name, set-up with WordPress, picked a theme, and started writing posts!

The fun has just begun, blogging friends! (:

Of course blogging is a solo activity, where your most trust-worthy companions are your laptop and WiFi. While most of the time we’re alone behind our screens typing content and creating it, the network of bloggers spans across the entire world! There are groups for travel bloggers, fashion bloggers, mommy bloggers, and more. And if you want to take it up a notch, meeting other bloggers in REAL LIFE is just as good as finding someone you connect with online.

Who else is going to understand the fact that you’ll need to blog about everything, take pictures of what you ate, and document the entire thing?! My blogging friends I’ve met have been some of the most supportive people in my blogging/business life. They’re there to hand me tough-love, applaud me for my blogging wins, help me figure out the technical side of blogging, and are great to bounce around ideas with.

And the best part, you can meet real life bloggers at different conferences throughout the year! If you’re scared of going because you think you’re not a “real blogger” or aren’t established enough, kick your ego to the curb and invest in your blog if you love it. The workshops I’ve attended have been so inspiring and informational, and the networking I’ve done with other hard-working bloggers is motivating.

Looking for a network of people to connect with in your blogging/creative endeavors? These are some of my favorite communities and programs that I’ve invested in to help me take my blog to the next level:

Another great tool I love to use to connect with entrepreneurs and bloggers is Instagram! Finding some inspiring people who share amazing content and connecting with them through their accounts is always so much fun, and then being able to have “coffee chats” with people to learn more about them is even better. Y’all – get out there and meet people!

On my blog, The Quirky Pineapple, I’ve blogged about thoughtful travel, women empowerment, and international love. I’ve also dabbled in fashion and style, inspiration/motivation, and cooking. Now that I’ve made a shift in my business and my blog, I’m focusing more on copywriting, content creation, branding, and business tips! It’s all about trial and error, Pineapplers. I’ve tried and failed with A LOT of different blogs to be able to develop what is now The Quirky Pineapple Studio.

Oh and just for shits and giggles, I’ve found two old blogs to share with you all:

Thank goodness I can’t find my Xanga and Myspace accounts… that would be embarrassing…

If you’re still struggling to make your blog work and need some tough-loving and a push to get going, I’d love to help you! Send me a message and let’s get chatting about how we can work together! 

What other questions do you have about starting a personal blog? Let’s hear them in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you! Thank you for keeping my blogging dreams alive!

Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too:
So, You Want to be a Blogger?
Blog Networking Online & IRL
Why I Took a Blogging Break
Why Blogging is NOT Dead!

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How to start a blog that doesn't suck - I'm walking you through all the steps I wish someone else told me,before I wasted hours Googling everything! -- The Quirky Pineapple
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