This post was bound to come sooner or later. Today I am going to write all the details about how I started my blog. I am going to focus more on how to actually create a blog first. I am no expert, but I figured I would shed some light! I will try and cover as much as possible in one post but a second or even third one might be necessary. Sit back and relax, this is gonna be a long one!
First: Why did I start blogging?
It really all started on Instagram for me. I loved posting photos and meeting other like-minded people through the Instagram community. Through Instagram I discovered many Vegan and Raw Vegan advocates such as Freelee the Banana girl and since then there has been no going back! I was always aware of veganism especially as I was a vegetarian at the time, but it wasn’t until I joined Instagram that I realized how amazing and rewarding of a lifestyle it truly was. I fully dedicated myself to the lifestyle. In late summer of 2014 I created The Fancy Fruitarian and wrote blog posts every so often. I wanted to preach the vegan message and all of my recipes that I concocted in my kitchen on a more broad spectrum. Eventually school got too hectic and I lost connection with my blog and and my Instagram. That was the point when I decided to start fresh and commit myself to The Potassium Princess! From there I really grew a passion for blogging and just overall educating myself on a natural, holistic lifestyle as much as possible. It thought long and hard before starting a blog and then one day I just got on my computer and did it.
So now you want to start a blog and you’re asking: how?
Well let me tell you, don’t think it’s going to be as simple as making a username and password because it’s not. I completely underestimated the work that goes into the aesthetics and content of a blog! It takes patience, unless you’re some sort of computer wizard. At the beginning I wasn’t aware of the difference between categories and pages, hosting, and my knowledge of code
was is very limited. Code is scary, I advise avoiding it as much as possible to remain mentally stable. Thank god for the forums! And now, thank god for me, because I am going to help make this as simple as possible for you! 😉
1. Registering your Domain
In my opinion, WordPress is the most practical place to start blogging. You can get websites like Go Daddy to host your blog and register your domain, but I did this at first and found it very confusing. You can choose to host your blog through Blogger or even Tumblr, but I find WordPress to be the most established in terms of practicality, legibility and overall aesthetics.
The sign-up process is very simple. From the get-go WordPress will give the option to have access to Premium features for $99/year. This includes custom fonts, colours, CSS, 13GB of space and the removal of the WordPress watermark at the end of your domain. I suggest waiting it out just to make sure you are positive that WordPress will suit your needs. I should also add that if you just want a domain it is only $13/year!
In terms of the actual name, go with something playful and relevant to your content. I came up with The Potassium Princess while I was laying in bed one night! There are lots of blog name generators like this one: http://www.namemesh.com
2. WP Admin
Once you have your username and password all set up, you will use WordPress Admin to log in. I should state that WordPress.com and WordPress Admin are two completely different things. That really confused me at first because I was struggling to log in. Some computer genius I was! To access WP Admin you will need to add /wp-login or /wp-login.php or /login to the end of your site’s URL.
Your homepage will look something like this.
WP Admin is where you will be able to customize the appearance of your blog, set up widgets, upload media and of course write posts.
You might be overwhelmed and have no clue where to begin. In this case I will always recommend starting with your theme. We all have an idea of what we want our blog/website to look like so it’s best to start there and then everything will just flow. You can access ‘Themes’ through ‘Appearance’ on the lefthand sidebar.
The theme I first started with was called ‘Ever After’. It’s fairly standard. I now use ‘Spun’, both of which are free themes. There are a plethora of themes to choose from so pick whatever fits the feel of your blog accurately. You can even be super fancy and buy a premium theme.
In the editor you can pick your fonts, background, colours etc. and edit your blog without it going live. No theme is alike, and I don’t mean this in a sense of how your blog looks. Each theme has their own significant features and when troubleshooting each problem will require a different solution as each theme is coded differently. So it’s important that you understand the way your theme works, it’s name (obviously) and it’s features.
Another thing I should mention is banners. Some themes support them, some don’t. Some are larger some are smaller.
For instance this is my banner. It’s smaller because my theme supports more of a ‘logo’ if you will. To create this I used: http://banner.fotor.com. The banana font I used is custom and easily downloadable off of different font manufacturing websites. Banners just add that artistic spunk to your blog but are definitely not a necessity. I’m a visual person so I love seeing lots of vibrant photos but if you are creating a blog to write and compose you might want photos just as a supplement.
Once you are finished all you have to do is click save!
4. Menus, Pages, Categories
This is where I really screwed up when I first started. We all know what a typical menu looks like. For instance here is mine:
So you have your basics that you would probably expect on a foodie’s blog. When you first edit your blog’s appearance you will need to choose either a static front page or a display of all of your latest posts. My front page is not static, but if you wish for a static front page you will need to create a separate page with content of some sort to linked to it, so it’s not blank.
Was that confusing? Probably. So newbies, I advise you to not use a static front page because they are just annoying. Plus, you are likely to get more traffic with a non-static front page. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.
To access ‘Menus’ simply go back to our trusty appearance button. My menu is composed of categories, pages and links. My “Home” button is just a link to my homepage, easy. My Recipes and Lifestyle tab are both categories. At first I made the mistake of creating multiple pages for my menu. If you want your menu to be like a traditional menu where you click on a topic for instance ‘Recipes’ and then have a drop down where you have ‘Banana ice Cream’, then you click on ‘Banana ice Cream’ and it shows you all the posts under that tab, don’t use pages! I had to re-do my whole menu and it took me forever. Categories have hierarchies, pages do not.
That does not mean that you cannot mix it up! My ‘About’ and ‘Why Veganism’ tabs are both pages because they are static and not consistently changing. Creating a page is exactly like writing a blog post except it’s always accessible through your menu…if that makes sense.
By using categories for my recipe and lifestyle posts my newest additions are automatically added hassle-free. You can sort all of this out in ‘Posts’ where you will find the ‘Categories’ section where you can create your Parent categories and then your daughter, son, children whatever you want to call it categories. As you can see above I have my Parent: Recipes and then all of it’s children! 🙂 But categories don’t always have to have children, for instance ‘My Life’ is all by it’s lonesome.
5. Your first blog post
So you have your blog laid out the way you always dreamed. You have the domain, colour scheme, fonts, menus, categories and you are ready to write your first post! My first post was fairly cliché. Sometimes that’s the best way to go! I introduced myself and wrote what I hoped to achieve with my blog etc. Either that, or just get straight into it. From my perspective you have food bloggers who tell their story with their recipes or without. I would consider myself to fall into the ‘without’ range. I have a tab ‘My Life’ (pictured above) where I literally talk about my life and all of my hobbies, what I ate posts etc. I don’t really mesh the two together because sometime you just want the recipe and not a novel.
When writing a blog you always want to try your hardest to resonate with your reader and be as humble as possible. It is easy to set a façade on the internet. Many bloggers, YouTubers and ‘Instagram celebrities’ are not who they seem to be. I aim to be as real as possible and I believe that is a quality that in due time will make any blog successful. But we all define success differently. In my case, what you see is what you get! I am who I am and I don’t try to create a different persona on the internet just because I can. I would rather stay true to myself and preach my message to a smaller audience then be another blogger who is constantly sponsored by companies to promote gimmicks they don’t believe in! We don’t need more of those do we?
At first it will seem like you are talking to yourself, I feel like that all the time! But I blog because I love writing, sharing my recipes, taking photos and ultimately because it makes me happy. Those are reasons enough! If you want to start a website to gain publicity and make money, it’s just not the right mindset to start out with.
If you do however want to gain an audience, it’s all about how you market yourself and your message. Instagram I find is the easiest way to do this, especially in the foodie community. Tell your friends and family about it on Facebook or start a YouTube channel and incorporate media into your blogs so your readers can really get to know you! Widgets are important for this.
If you scroll down to the bottom of my page you can see my beta where all of my social media is. The con with my theme is that it is very easy to miss this. With some other themes it is directly in your face so it’s more accessible. So if you’re really active on social media you will want a theme that supports that. Again, you can access Widgets through Appearance and go to town! You can add everything. But try to keep a minimalistic approach especially because you don’t want your readers to get lost in the depths of your webpage!
Bloglovin’ is another great way to get your blog more traffic. I don’t particularly use it, but I should. Just like any social media page, if you want to get noticed you need to interact. Follow other blogs, leave comments, like their posts. When you write a new blog post, post a picture on Instagram to let your followers know! Being interactive is your ultimate key, use it.
This was a very lengthy post! There is no ‘right way’ to blog. I learned through trial and error and lots of patience. Once you learn how WordPress works and how to navigate it, you should be just fine!
Everyone defines success differently. For me, if I inspire others to adapt a plant-based lifestyle and change their perspectives I deem myself successful. Some define success as turning their blog into a full time job! Whatever your goal may be, just produce real content. Be unique, witty, intelligent. Put in time and effort and everything will fall into place.
P.S. I think I am going to write a separate post talking all about food photography and my tips! So stay tuned!