Last updated: 10th Jun, 2021
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At the end of March 2020, I started creating my own blog. In this post, read about:
- what goes on in the first 4 months of blogging
- what challenges you may face
- how and where to write your blog
- how I create my posts
- how much money I’ve spent so far
- how much time I spend for my blog
- things I would do differently if I were at the beginning again, and more.
CHOOSING THE PLATFORM FOR YOUR BLOG
I first started my blog on the Wix.com platform. After about three weeks, I already had a pretty nice website.
Wix.com is a platform on which you can quickly create a beautiful website. It’s easy to use and gives fast results. I can’t judge the pros and cons because I’ve only been on wix.com for a month.
WordPress runs about 36% of all existing websites. Most bloggers swear by WordPress.org.
After about a month later, I found that most blogs are set up on WordPress.org. Besides, WordPress runs about 36% of all websites.
I decided to create my blog on WordPress as well.
There are two different WordPress platforms. One is wordpress.com, the other is wordpress.org. Bloggers usually choose wordpress.org.
I also chose wordpress.org. Why?
- More creative freedom (more themes and possibilities of theme personalization).
- A possibility to use plugins. Plugins are add-ons for the website for different purposes – from security, contact forms, analytics, e-newsletter subscription forms, and much more.
- Greater freedom in advertising on the website.
- Your own domain. At wordpress.com, the domain is https://yourname.wordpress.com (you can change this if you pay extra).
- There are WordPress ads on wordpress.com (which you can’t remove unless you pay extra) and from which you earn nothing.
Read more about the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
CHOOSING A DOMAIN NAME AND HOSTING FOR YOUR BLOG
I immediately bought the domain and hosting. At wordpress.org you don’t have another choice anyway.
Choosing a domain name
The following tips helped me when i was choosing a domain name:
- Do not use numbers in the domain. This eliminates the need to explain if there is a number or a word in the domain name.
- Do not use hyphens in the domain. It’s a matter of personal taste, but as a general rule, they should be avoided.
- Use a local domain extension (for Slovenia, it’s .si) if your site will only be intended for readers from your country.
On the other hand, .com is an international extension. I didn’t know where my blog was going to take me. I didn’t want to have two domains. So I chose .com.
If you are only planning to write for your local audience, it is better to have a local extension (for Slovenia, it would be .si)
- For me, it was important to choose a domain name that is understood and can be written by locals and foreigners [Edited in November 2020: my first domain name was planettina.com]
- As a general rule, duplicate letters should be avoided if this requires clarifications about the spelling.
- If you plan to sell your blog in the future or would like to keep it as an option, don’t use your name in the domain. It is better to use something more generic and from your niche.
An example would be healthydeliciousmeals.com, if you’ll have an international blog with recipes.
CHOOSING A THEME FOR YOUR BLOG
The next day after paying for the domain and hosting, my domain was registered. I started choosing the theme for my blog (the look of the website).
I spent a day or two picking a theme. I chose the Bard Pro theme from WP Royal themes.
My theme has a one-time payment system. Payment includes the theme, updates, and support. Some themes require license renewal if you want to keep the support and the updates.
A good support system is extremely important because you will have a lot of questions about setting up your blog. The support of Bard Pro is fast, kind, and efficient – I’m very happy with it.
Important: choose a theme from trusted providers. Otherwise, you may have problems with updates, plugins, and security.
LEARNING ABOUT WORDPRESS
After choosing the theme for my blog, I began learning about WordPress.
- For almost every plugin, there is a YouTube guide on how to set it up. A great channel for WordPress help is Ferdy Korpershoek’s channel.
- If I were at the beginning again, I would buy an online course and learn about blogging and WordPress. WordPress can be confusing if you learn everything from scratch on your own.
Which plug-ins did I install in the first four months?
- A plugin for the security of the website: Wordfence security
- A plugin for the contact form: Contact form 7
- A plugin against spam in the comments: Antispam Bee
- A plugin to display the Instagram feed: Feed Them Social – for Twitter feed, Youtube, Pinterest and more
- A plugin for saving messages from the contact form: Flamingo
- A plugin for the cookie consent: GDPR Cookie Consent
- A plugin for sending out e-mail campaigns and setting up the sign-up form: Mailchimp
- A plugin for Google Analytics: Site Kit by Google
- A plugin for backing up the website: UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
- A plugin for speeding up the website: W3 Total Cache
- A plugin for SEO optimization: Yoast SEO (Ferdy Korpershoek’s YouTube guide helped me set it up correctly).
- A plugin for a child theme: Child Theme Configurator (Ferdy Korpershoek’s YouTube guide helped me set it up correctly).
CREATING POSTS FOR YOUR BLOG
Before you start creating posts, start learning about writing for the web and SEO optimization. Install a plugin for SEO optimization and readability analysis (for example, Yoast SEO).
New knowledge about writing blog posts in the first four months
- Install Yoast SEO or another plugin for SEO optimization. This plugin helps us create more search engine-friendly and reader-friendly posts.
- Posts should be readable and reader-friendly. Divide them into paragraphs, add pictures and quotes. Break the text with images, quotes, headings, sign-up forms, ads, etc.
- Compress the images. If they are too large, they slow down page loading. Lern about the correct image sizes here: Best Image Sizes and How to Save Images For the Web.
- [Update, December 2020]: I make sure that the images in the posts are less than 200 kB and that they have around 1100 px width where possible (this works for my blog).
It takes some testing in terms of width (px) and image size (kB) to find the right ratio for your blog.
- Install a plug-in for analytics (I have SiteKit for Google Analytics). This helps understand which of the posts are the most popular and what keywords people search. This helps you choose the topic for your next blog posts.
- Have in mind that you’re helping your readers solve their problems. Find the balance between being personal and usable for your readers.
EXPENSES FOR A BLOG IN THE FIRST 4 MONTHS
- 9 EUR: The domain name. I’ll pay for it every year.
- 20 EUR: Hosting package on Neoserv. I’ll pay for it every year.
- 20 EUR: SSL certificate (for a secure connection – https). I’ll pay for it every year.
- 30 dollars: My theme. The support and updates are included in the price. My theme has a one-time payment policy.
Costs for my blog in the first four months: 75 EUR.
Which things are free?
- All my plugins. I haven’t upgraded any of them to premium yet.
- Downloading and setting up wordpress.org.
- Free tool for image compression (kB): https://tinyjpg.com/
- Free tool for image resizing (px): https://resizeimage.net/
REVENUE FROM MY BLOG IN THE FIRST 4 MONTHS
I haven’t had any revenue in the first four months. There are no ads on the blog yet and I am not cooperating with anyone yet.
Longer-term plans include translating all the posts into English and installing ads.
Before we start advertising a blog and before we request access to AdSense (Google’s system for placing ads on websites), it’s good to have at least 5 posts.
For the first four months, the focus was on the content, design, and technical background of the blog. I had no income yet.
HOW MUCH TIME DO I SPEND FOR MY BLOG
How long does it take to create one post
I spend approximately 7 to 15 hours on one blog post. The posts with my own photos take the most time.
This time does not include subsequent post updates, which can take several hours in the beginning (because we fix things when we learn something new).
Steps for creating a blog post
- Researching the topic
- Draft text
- Writing text + checking grammar questions
- Ongoing learning about text optimization, taking care of text readability
- Image processing, resizing, compression, and optimization (this takes the most time)
- Inserting links
- Reading and correcting the post several times
- Post is published to your website
- Updating and improving articles after they are already published
Time for the technical side and the design of your blog
Technical and design work in the first 4 months included:
- Installing the plugins
- Adding the page Privacy and cookies
- Setting up the contact form
- Sign-up form for my newsletter (Mailchimp)
- Putting the Instagram feed on my blog
- Creating a child theme
- Work on the appearance of the blog, such as making a favicon, a logo, choosing the images for the cover page, etc.
In the first 4 months, I spent 2/3 the time on the technical work and the appearance of the blog, and 1/3 for creating posts. The structure of the blog is mostly set up after the first four months.
Spending time for your blog in general
Bloggin takes a lot of time, especially if you decide to do everything on your own. I edit my blog on the weekends and during the week after work.
I spent about 200 hours on my blog in the first 4 months (an approximate calculation).
In the beginning, the learning curve goes up quite slowly. But, things are already accelerating. So don’t give up too quickly if you find it overwhelming at first.
IF I WERE AT THE BEGINNING AGAIN …
If I were to start working for my blog again, I would choose one of these options:
1. The more expensive option:
I would outsource the technical set-up of my blog. I would immediately start working on the content and the appearance of the blog.
If you are not very tech-savvy, some of the technical challenges can take a lot of your time and energy.
2. The middle option:
I would find a WordPress tutor and have meetings with him when I would get stuck.
3. The cheaper option:
I would enroll in an online course about blogging. I didn’t do that until December, half a year later. Courses save a lot of time and energy. More about that in the second part of the post.
SUPPORT MY BLOG
If you like my blog and want to support my work, you can buy me a beer 🍺