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How to start a blog

Interested in starting a blog? Here is a list of blogging resources: 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase.

If you want to jump to a specific category, click on any of the following to skip to a specific section:

Domain

If you are thinking of starting a blog, you probably are thinking of what to call your website. That’s exactly what “domain” means, because it is what people will search and find online. Finding a perfect name that matches your website’s purpose is important, but you also need to keep these considerations in mind:

How do I know where to buy a domain?

They are lots of options on the market for domain names. Most of the time they are linked to hosting services, and it’s generally a good idea to buy them together if you need a hosting service (if this is your case, feel free to use my affiliate link for siteground). In some cases, you may just need a domain name. This may be because you have a hosting provider from another company, because it’s cheaper to buy it separately (this would be unusual), or because you first got one and then decide to get the other.

What do I need  to check first before buying a domain name from any provider?
  • Do they allow me to transfer my domain to another?
  • Do they allow me to edit, add and delete DNS?
  • How much is it?
Who offers domain names?

Here is a list of the most “popular” hosting providers:

Sometimes they offer specials deal if you use the service two or three years in row, so you want to make sure to check it.

Hosting

It’s very important to have a good hosting provider because you want your website online most of the time. There are many options on the market. When selecting, you need to keep in mind:

  • How much traffic do I expect on my website?
  • Is my website an E-commerce, blogger, business, or basic (usually 4 tabs) site?
  • Will my website accept payments online?

It’s important to consider all these questions because you will choose your hosting provider according to your website’s purpose. You also need to think about these others features from the provider:

  • Do they offer technical support in my language? If not, do they offer technical support in another language that I know well?
  • Do they provide support 24/7?
  • What percentage of “Uptime” do they offer (optimal  99% or more)?
  • How much space will I receive?
  • Do they use an SSD drive?
  • Can I have my own email? Example: [email protected]
  • Do they offer a SSL certificate?
  • How much bandwidth do they offer?

Of note, some of them are cheaper than others, but remember: “cheap is expensive.” 

The “cheap” options lead you to pay a lot more that you were expecting because they may have hidden fees. For example, if you want to install a SSL certificate and don’t know how to do it, there will be an extra fee. There are many more examples like this that I can mention. 

I highly recommend siteground because they offer:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Service excellent for any type of website
  • 99.99% Uptime
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Easy SSL certificate installation
  • SSD disk
  • Support 24/7
  • Free domain
  • Free WordPress Migrator
  • Automatic WP updates
  • Daily backups
  • Free CDN
  • Free email
  • Managed WordPress hosting
  • Unlimited MySQL databases
  • Balance with renewable energy
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Advanced backup (only available on plans GrowBig and GoGeek)
  • Cache that increases speed on your website (only available on plans GrowBig and GoGeek)
  • Staging (only available on plans GrowBig and GoGeek)
  • Add collaborators (only available on plans GrowBig and GoGeek)
  • Staging + Git repo creation (only available on plan GoGeek)
  • The highest level of resources (only available on plan GoGeek)
  • Priority Advanced Support (only available on plan GoGeek)

All these features show why I love siteground as a hosting provider and highly recommend it. 

You may purchase a hosting plan through siteground using my affiliate link.

WordPress theme

Selecting a theme is important, but what’s really important is what you want to have on your website or what sort of features you need.

Knowing this will allow you to select an appropriate theme for your website. Here are some items for you to consider to select the perfect theme:

  • Do they offer updates?

This is very important mostly if you are not a developer. If you choose a nice theme but they do not offer new updates, it means that eventually there will be security issues. If you do not have any idea how to fix this, you will need to hire someone else to do it or buy a new theme.

  • Does this theme fulfill all the Google SEO standards?

Honestly, almost all the current themes fulfill all the SEO standards, but it’s good to check the last update of the theme. If it’s too old, it’s probably better not to buy it.

  • Does the theme fulfill all your requirements and is it free of errors?

This point is hard because there is no such thing that matches all your requirements for features. However, you don’t want to fix or add extra features especially if you are not tech-savvy, so it’s important to choose wisely!

  • I highly recommend the theme “Astra” because It is one of the most lightweight themes available in the market, offering a great performance. Astra’s codebase architecture follows best SEO practices according to their website. You may purchase Astra Theme using my affiliate link here.
  • If you have no idea how to choose one, it’s probably better to hire a professional.

Convertkit for email

I use ConvertKit to build my subscribers list  and send my list attractive emails. The company offers a free 14-day trial. If you are interested in using this service, you are welcome to use my affiliate link to sign up. Growing an email list is a great way to connect with your audience and keep them up-to-date on your latest blogs posts and offerings. I offer a free tips sheet to improve the diet to those who sign up for my email list.

Social media

I use the Blog2social plug-in because it offers social media integration with Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, Twitter, LinkedIn, VKontakte, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Google and some others. All this is available with their free version! 

There are some other interesting Pro features such as: scheduled post, re-share old post, add more than 1 user, unlimited social media profile and some others.

Tips for Pinterest

Julia Vasquez, Dietetics student at Texas Woman’s University, contributed these Pinterest tips based on her experience with this tool

Business Account

Switching your personal Pinterest account to a business account will allow you to access more features such as analytics and story pins. The analytics will help provide additional insight into your viewership and how your pins are performing. In addition, you can apply for Story Pins with a business account. These story pins on Pinterest can help increase your engagement and grow your audience. You will have to apply for Story Pins before you can access this feature. 

You may set up your free business Pinterest account here

Design

Pinterest is a visual-based social media account. This means your content has to be appealing to the eye. To ensure your Pinterest pins are visually appealing and easy to read consider the following:

  • Is the font readable?
  • Does the color palette reflect your branding?
  • Are the images high quality?
  • Is it mobile friendly?

It’s important to consider the dimensions of your pins. Pinterest users tend to gravitate more towards vertical “long pins”, because they take up more screen space compared to small horizontal pins. Long pins generally follow the 2:3 aspect ratio and are at least 1000 px x 1500 px. I recommend using Canva to create high quality Pinterest pins. It is easy to use and allows you to create multiple pins efficiently. Even if you are not tech-savvy, you can easily use a template to change the images and text to reflect your branding. 

You may set up your free Canva account here

Content

Unlike other social media accounts including Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube where you post about your blog post once, Pinterest allows you to share multiple variations of your blog post, product, or service. Whether you change the images or titles of your Pinterest pins, make sure to make each pin different rather than sharing one pin twenty times. One pin may perform better than others depending on its title, appearance, or content, so having multiple versions of pins for a single blog post is beneficial. 

Pin titles

It is very important to have a good pin title, because you want it to attract people to your pin. Adding keywords to the pin title will help people find your content easier. You can add up to 100 characters in the title. Pinterest can be referred to as an inspirational search engine, so imagine you are creating the title as if you were going to search for it. 

SEO-Friendly Bio and Name

When you set up your account bio and name, make sure to include keywords to help your audience discover you. When writing your bio, you need to keep in mind:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What products/services do I provide?
  • Can I offer a freebie incentive?

For example, if you are a registered dietitian, consider adding this to your account name. When creating your Pinterest bio, you have 160 characters to sell yourself, so make sure to captivate your audience effectively. 

Here is an example:

Keywords: Busy people, health, healthy goals, healthy weight, digestion, energized, nutrition, group nutrition coaching

Formula: I help (target audience) who want to (ultimate goal) and (outcome). Join my (service) to learn how!

Pinterest bio example: I help busy people meet their health goals, maintain a healthy weight, improve digestion, and feel energized. Join my group nutrition coaching to learn how!

Rich Pins

Rich Pins are pins that directly link to your website, and you can select between product, recipe, or article Rich Pins. These pins enable you to sync your recipe, digital ebook, or blog post to the pin. In order to use this feature, you will have to apply for Rich Pins. For example, if you have a recipe on banana bread, the Rich Pin will automatically incorporate the ingredients and steps into the pin itself. 

You may apply for Rich Pins here.

Scheduling

Pinterest Pins can be scheduled in advance to give you the freedom to plan your content. By scheduling your pins you can select the day, time, and designated board to which they will be saved. Through the Pinterest website, you can directly publish pins for a later date. This feature allows you to schedule up to two weeks ahead of time. In addition, Tailwind is another popular pin scheduling tool. However, it does have a monthly fee. Regardless of which tool you use to schedule your pins, it is sure to save you time and ensure you are an active Pinterest user. 

You may sign up for Tailwind here

SEO tools

Hashtag Jeff course. I took this course and learned a lot about keyword searches and organizing my site so that it can be found in search engines. HashtagJeff is a subscription program with access to a course, webinars, and a private Facebook group with direct access to Jeff as an SEO expert. Here is the link: https://hashtagjeff.com/seo-mastermind-course/. Once there, click “join now” in the green box. From there, you will hit “apply coupon” in the box and put one of my two codes below. There are two options: 

Annual Membership: This is by far the best value for someone looking for the community and ongoing education. It will get you membership to HashtagJeff’s course, webinars, and community for $129 a year with my coupon code (JINANYEAR), which is a $20 discount. The discount will be valid for as long as you are a member!

Monthly Membership: This is a good option for someone just wanting to test the waters and see what they hype is about. The monthly subscription is $29. My code (JINAN50OFF) will get you 50% off of 1 month.

A HashtagJeff membership has a ton of benefits. It’s built for busy creators and publishers….The modules are easy to follow and actionable – and most can be done in 10-15 minutes! You can pick an area where you need the most help and focus there first. There are course roadmaps for your niche specifically – Food, Home & Craft/DIY, Lifestyle. It is a vibrant community with active questions and discussions about SEO in general, and specifically for creators in your niche. Creators have come together and work together in very fun ways. Jeff adds webinars that are exclusive to members, posts updates when Google updates come around, and is available for discussion and questions. 

Yoast. Yoast SEO is one of the most widely popular WordPress plugins around and it’s easy to understand. Yoast is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible. There is also a premium option which adds some extra features.

Yoast offers graduated discounts. There are discounts of 5% from 2 sites, up to 50% for 150 units. You’ll find the discounts automatically when you add plugins to your shopping cart.

Keysearch. I use Keysearch to do keyword research. This allows me to see how many people are searching for particular keywords and how much competition there is for particular terms. You may use my affiliate link and the coupon code KSDISC to save 20% off your subscription!

Tools for organization

I use the free version of Asana to communicate with others working with me and organize my tasks. 

Resources for images

I use Unsplash for free images. This site has photos that can be downloaded and used for free. No permission is needed (though attribution is appreciated).

Affiliate programs

I am part of the Amazon Associates program, which provides a small commission for items purchased via the links I provide to various food items. Through this, I promote products that I myself have purchased and enjoy. 

WordPress plugins

Here you can find a list of some plugins that all websites need, in my personal opinion:

  • JetPack
  • WPForms 
  • MailChimp Forms by MailMunch
  • Elementor (it has some good features to create pages)
  • CAOS (Complete Analytics Optimization Suite to track your traffic on Google)
  • GDPR Cookie Consent (a simple way to show your website complies with the EU Cookie Law / GDPR)
  • Yoast SEO
  • Blog2social
  • SG Optimizer (available only on siteground)
  • Login Security reCAPTCHA

Guidelines for Student/Other Guest Bloggers

This is a product intended for dietitians who run a blog and accept guest bloggers. It is a 1.5-page list of guidelines I designed for my volunteer student bloggers, but the guidelines are also relevant for other guest bloggers besides students. The guidelines help them compose the post for search engine optimization and outline everything they need to include in the post. When working with others who will post on your blog, it’s important to give guidelines so that the post will include the right elements to be found in search engines and will be friendly for the audience. Without these guidelines, posts may not contain the elements needed to perform well in search engines. The product includes guidelines regarding: 

  • Minimum length of post
  • Writing style
  • Creating original content
  • General organization of the post
  • References for post
  • Creating other links within the post
  • Creating a caption for the post
  • Getting the post ready for social media
Blogging Guidelines for students and guest bloggers

I hope all this information will be useful for your next website or blog! Please let me know what you think in the comments!

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