How To Start a Blog, Change Your Life, and Find Your Tribes

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I am well into my third year of blogging and I am absolutely amazed at how much things have changed. Now, let’s be clear: I still have debt and things aren’t perfect. But, to say that the act of blogging hasn’t made a profound, sustainable, and long-last change to my life would be disingenuous.

Blogging Changed My Life

It is my belief that blogging could potentially change your life too. Let’s be clear. Blogging is HARD,it’s work, it’s doing something for free for a very long period of time, it’s writing only for your friends and family, and did I mention that it’s HARD?

Then, one day, someone tells you that your story affected them, that you suggestion helped them, that your recipe fed them, or that they support you as you struggle to figure things out. Blogging is wondering why on earth am I doing this? What’s the purpose? And realizing that only you can decide that.

So, if after all of that you still are interested in blogging here are the details on how to start blogging and change your life.

Blogging Has Four Major Components

  • You start with an idea.
  • You put the blog together which will be talked about in a moment.
  • Blog consistently and change during the process.
  • Connect with people (build your tribes)

How to Start A Blog 

I have to admit that I have no earthly idea why I decided to start blogging. I just had a lot going on and had heard of this blogging thing and decided to start a blog on Blogger. Blogger was a free blogging platform offered by Google and at the time I wasn’t sure how long I would be blogging. I actually ended up starting a blog 3 times and the first two times was on Blogger.

What the heck is a blogging platform? Basically-it is the place that your blog will “live”

There are a number of different blogging platforms out there. And people have very strong opinions on which platforms you should use.

Examples of Blogging platforms include:

  • Blogger
    • Pros: it’s free, blogs are easy to set up and get started. Great if you’re not sure about this blogging thing. It’s not a deep commitment.  Because it’s FREE!
    • Cons: the url associated with your blog is long. Ex:shopmyclosetproject.blogspot.com If you grow your blog overtime then this could be a problem for your new readers.
  • WordPress.com
    • Pros: It’s free, it’s a step up from Blogger in that there are more features you can use and the potential to have a much crisper “look” to your site is higher because of the features within WordPress.com. You can let WordPress do all of the heavy lifting for you such as: hosting, backend blog related maintenance and updates.
    • Cons:  You ultimately aren’t in control of your website. So, if you end up growing a huge site you won’t be able to control certain parts of your site or monetize it the way that you would like.
  • WordPress.org 
    • Pros: You are entirely in control of your website. You can monetize it to your heart’s content.
    • Cons: You are entirely in control of your website! You will have to learn things (like what are plugins/how to maintain the site/etc.) to actually maintain your site. You will also need to host your site on a server. WordPress.org is basically a little more complicated-but you’re smart and can handle it IF YOU’RE READY. 

Again, I started The Shop My Closet project on Blogger, I eventually ended up have my blog transferred to WordPress.org on Christmas Eve 2012. It is possible to transfer your blog…but, I would caution you that you will need to work hard to grow your site again at the new url…even though your old blog will be directing your readers to the new page.

How To Set Up A WordPress.org Site 

Make sure you give yourself enough time to work on this and have your debit/credit card ready.

  • First: What’s your blog about? Are you writing a cooking a site, a general musings site, a personal finance, or lifestyle site? How broad or narrow do you want your focus to be? This will affect several things: your interest in the subject that you’re blogging about, your ability to do different types of posts as you blog longer, possible monetizations options.
  • Second: Decide Your Blog’s Name-This might take you some time. But, you will have to figure out a name that resonates with what you’re writing about, isn’t taken already by someone else, AND is easy for your readers to remember. This name becomes the url (thing you type into the search bar for the non-techy types) so spend some time on this step. The name of your blog is called the domain and is the information that you will put into the sign up form on Blue Host on the front page of Blue Host when you begin to set up your blog.
  • Third: Decide on a blog hostA blog host is basically the service that hosts/keeps the digital data related to your site. There are a number of different blog hosts that you can choose from. The company that I use is called Blue Host. I use Blue Host for WordPress Hosting (affiliate link) and actually happily use Blue Host for both of my websites (www.ColoradoLuvHub.info) is my other site. Please note: you may have the following pricing bundles to chose from: month-to-month, 6 months, or a year. If you opt for month to month typically the price goes up. In the beginning ignore all of the additional charges. You can upgrade later.
  • Fourth: Go To WordPress.org *Note*-You can go through Blue Host and set up your WordPress.org blog. This may be easier for you. There is a button in Blue Host that says “Website.” Then, you will see a WordPress install button that you can click on* OR, You can opt to got to the WordPress.org’s initial set up page. If you do that, your first step will be to  go to the WordPress.org page and find the download button in the middle of the page on the right hand side.  FOLLOW the step by step instructions!
  •  Finally-Choose your blog theme (the look of your site)Themes range in price from and up!  This part can be a little confusing by the way.

There is always a lot of talk about which web host to host your blog on and I have to say that I have had an extremely good experience with Blue Host and continue to use them at this point in time. Check out WordPress Hosting hopefully it will treat you as well as it did me.

Start Blogging

Now that you’ve set up your blog here are some things to think about.

  • How to Log On-I’m not being funny. I actually couldn’t figure it out when I initially started on WordPress!  If your blog’s name is: www.iloveapples.com then you would type the following to login to your site: www.iloveapples.com/wp-admin  The /wp-admin will direct you to your login area.
  • Commit-Initially you’re committing to yourself. Not even to your readers. I had to commit to myself and show up every week with content for my blog. I really didn’t have goals at the beginning other than to write..about something that I was thinking about or wanted to share.
  • Be responsive-Over time people will begin posting comments and observations. These are opportunities to grow on a personal level-even if the comments are negative. Respond to people’s comments with candor and thoughtfulness. If it’s a troll (a mean, person who enjoys dumping on people) don’t bother responding. And just move on.
  • Grow Your Online Tribe-As you write, reflect and share, you will begin growing your virtual tribe. I love my virtual tribe because over time I’ve met a number of people offline. I can’t say enough about them-THEY ROCK!!
  • Grow Your Offline Tribe-Overtime I slowly, slowly, began working hard to grow my offline tribe. I joined kickball, I volunteered (not often enough) and I tried speed dating. Initially some of these things didn’t bear fruit. BUT, I am trying all of these things again and am happy to say things are coming together nicely.

How My Life Has Changed:

  • Quit my job of ten years-This was an incredibly difficult process for me. I was very connected with the organization that I worked with and had worked with the majority of my colleagues (who are also friends) for that time. But, by the end of those 10 years I was miserable.
  • Lost weight-I think I was around 175 pounds at my biggest-REALLY! I am 5’4′ and really felt awful. My knees hurt, my back hurt, I had a hard time moving around and I felt bad about myself. Once I made the decision (after many, many blog posts and years of thinking) I stopped emotionally eating. I am happy to say that I am slowly but surely losing weight as we speak.
  • Joined a Mastermind group-I really didn’t know what a Mastermind group was until I joined one. Basically, it’s a group of people who you meet with in person or virtually every week or every other week. You have a list of tasks that you’ve agreed upon that will help you work towards your professional goals. This has been a huge help as I work on my business. 
  • Paid off a lot of debt...and gained more debt…and am paying it off again! Fortunately, and unfortunately, I am still working on my debt repayment process. A huge difference is that I actually have a process that works.
  • Working for myself-I really hated working for other people in the WAY that I was working for other people. It isn’t perfect, but I am pleased to say that I am working for myself. It is a learning experience but I am glad that I took this leap. 
  • Reconnected with old  friends-Towards the end of working my job I was incredibly tired. I became that girl. You know, the one who always calls off when invited to something fun with friends. I am pleased to say that I am reconnecting with my friends and it’s great!
  • Connected with new friends-I am actively reaching out and putting myself in the position to meet new people. Initially I was a bit reticent about this. However, I am happy to say that I am enjoy this process more and more!

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