This day and age, we all have our two or three favorite blogs that we like to check out every now and again… or every day. For me, that’s my wedding photographer’s blog because she provides me with inspiration and encouragement every morning when I first wake up! For others, they may follow movie reviews, interior design, or local lifestyle blogs. The point is, blogging is a REAL and very relevant part of the modern world! If you’re a creative and you’re not blogging, you should be!!

This post was actually inspired by a talk I gave at a photography retreat last Fall at the Delight House in Lake Chelan, Washington. I realized that starting a blog may seem super technical but it’s actually quite simple. There are five steps you can follow to get your blog set up in just a matter of a day or two! And then you’re up and running and blogging away!! Now, coming up with blog post ideas, tracking your analytics, and managing client exceptions through your blog is an entirely different story… but all in all, I think blogging is more FUN than it is anything else. Blogging is one of my favorite parts of my job and I don’t care how self-absorbed I may come across as. My blog is not only a way to market my business, it’s a means of keeping a journal of my life to look back on years from now. Blogging isn’t just for entrepreneurs, it’s for anyone who has a story to tell and wants to share that story with the world.

So without further delay, here are 5 simple steps to starting your very own blog! Have fun!!

Step 1: Register your domain name with GoDaddy. I’m sure there are plenty of other places to purchase your domain (Google, Wild West Domains, etc.) but I’m most familiar with GoDaddy! It’s surprisingly affordable to purchase a domain… I’m talking $20-$30 a year with privacy protection. Now, the more well-known your name or brand becomes, the higher that price rises. I know that from experience because when I first changed my business name to Megan Kelsey Photography, www.megankelsey.com was NOT available, but a year later it magically was… for just $2,000! Crazy, right?! My best advice is to purchase as many domains as you think you might want for your business/blog, including all of the country codes and .org, .biz, etc.!

 Step 2: Get a host. Sign up for one (or more) year(s) of hosting via BlueHost or HostGator if your blog platform is not going to provide hosting in its cost (more about that in the next step!). This price varies, but for the longest time I paid about $120/year for BlueHost to host my blog. Hosting essentially means the place or server that all your data is being stored! You “point” your domain name to your host’s servers and that’s what connects the two! And that’s about as technical as I get with this stuff… haha!

Step 3: Choose your blog platform! There are three popular options that I am familiar with that are all extremely affordable: ProPhoto (one-time fee install plus cost of theme), WordPress (free or cost of theme), or Squarespace ($8-$26/month). From what I understand, Squarespace provides hosting in its cost, so you don’t have to worry about that if you choose Squarespace! For WordPress, you can either get a FREE WordPress.com site that allows you to pick from WordPress themes within the system. You do not need hosting for a WordPress.com site. If you’d like to purchase a theme elsewhere then install (this is how ProPhoto works, as it’s a platform that is installed within WordPress), then you’ll need to set up a WordPress.org blog! I hope that makes sense! I was definitely confused when I purchased a theme then couldn’t find where in the world to install it on my WordPress.com site. Things might have changed, but this is how it worked a few years ago when I was setting all of this up for the first time! In my opinion, I would suggest setting up a WordPress.org blog that needs its own hosting but will allow many more options for themes and customization! :)

Step 4: Find your unique blog design. This is when it REALLY gets fun!! You can browse WordPress themes on Etsy, CreativeMarket, FloThemes, and just Google in general! ProPhoto has tons of themes listed on their site designed by awesome places like Red Met Yellow, Tonic Site Shop, Ribbon & Ink, GoLiveHQ, etc.! Choose what feels most like “home” to you as this will be your very own ONLINE home that you will welcome people into! It’s fun browsing all the different designs but it can quickly become overwhelming if you lose sight of your focus. Remember functionality should always be a priority, and your blog should be clean, simple, and as easy to navigate as possible!

Step 5: Write your first blog post & LAUNCH your blog!! You can compose your first post directly in WordPress or Squarespace, and you’ll be surprised how addicting it is! A little tip for some exposure… host a giveaway for something as simple as a $25 Amazon gift card and let people spread the news of your new blog for you! My rebrand launch giveaway post is STILL my number 1 viewed post on my blog… and it will probably be that way until I do another one! Haha! Don’t underestimate the power of “free” stuff!! ;)

There are so many more aspects of blogging that I could talk all day about it! This was just the TIP of the iceberg!! I’ve learned so much these past few years and my blog has become one of my most powerful ways to market my services and strengthen my brand. It’s crazy how far a little vulnerability and willingness to share can go. We ALL have a story to tell and I promise you that there is someone out there whose life would be better because they came across your presence on the web. Blogging is a tool we can use to impact the lives of the people around us as well as strangers we’ve never even met before but may end up changing their LIFE. I speak from experience!! I’ve been floored by what God has done with this platform He’s given me and I know this is what I’m meant to do with it. I hope this post encourages you that blogging isn’t just for the “successful” … it’s for anyone who wants their voice to be heard. And trust me, someone wants to hear yours.

I hope to someday soon share more from my “Business Basics” presentation… this post only included 3 slides’ worth of information out of 65 total!!! I have so much information I want to share and I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to share it! But that’s for a later day!! For now, I hope this post was helpful and that someone somewhere launches their very own blog because of it because their voice needs to be heard. How awesome would that be?! :) xoxo!

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