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Blog like it’s your business – best blogging tools

Blogging – How do I start? what should write? These are questions I had to answer many times in the past few weeks. I am a part of a few small businesses/female entrepreneurs networking groups, both real-life ones, and virtual ones. Many of the talented ladies (and gentlemen) I come across, want, or need to start a blog. Most of them are lost as to how what and where. When I started working online I had to learn a whole world of new terms and words. I learned much of the business side of having an online business, but when it came to actual blogging, I had to discover a lot on my own. With this post, I want to answer some of these questions and tell you about the steps and tools I used to help me in my blogging journey.
*This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.Blog like a pro with these blogging tools, blogging tips and blogging resources, to help you start blog like it's your business

WHERE to Blog – self-hosting, what is it all about?

When I started blogging, longggg before this blog, I had my first one on Blogger, it feels like the stone age when I look at it now:). I did some blogging for organizations I worked for, and experimented with different platforms both free and paid ones (Blogger, wix, 123site and more). I can honestly say that WordPress is by far the best one I used. It takes some getting used to, and there is a learning curve to using it, but once you get it, it makes everything flow easily. BUT there is the whole self-hosting issue. That was a new thing for me when I started my own blog this time around.

In short, self-hosting means owning your own domain(blog name) you chose and bought. You still use the WordPress platform but your blog “lives” on an outside host server. You own your content and your name, and you can move it whenever you want to a different host. It also means you can monetize your blog, which you can’t really do with the free wordpress.com. What you need to self-host is a domain name which you can purchase for a couple of dollars from services like “go daddy” or directly from the host you choose. Each host usually has a few different plans(typically designed to fit the volume of traffic you think your blog will have). Choose the right one for you and make sure it includes  SSL.

WHO – should you host your blog with.

I moved my blog to a new host at the beginning of this year because my previous one, upped the fee to about 3 higher than it was. Here is a tip for you – ASK your intended host about renewal fees before choosing one.
I ended up with a relatively new player in the hosting market. but I decided to take a chance on it, mainly because I communicated with them a lot before making the decision, and always got speedy and kind answers, and also they commit to not raising the fees upon renewal. So far so good. They migrated my site to their servers without a glitch. I like the fact that I have a specific person I communicate with, and their replies are always prompt. I had a problem during the weekend but I still got a reply in about 30 minutes.
Their fees are VERY economic, you can check them out – Setrahost.

I only have been with them for a short time so far, and this is simply upon my experience with them up till now. There are many many options for hosts, do your research. A few of the popular once areSiteground, Bluehost (though both I believe have the renewal fee issue). Some choose to go with WordPress business plan, which is a bit pricy – but does come with a lot of hands-on support. I use it for one of my business blogs, and I had a video chat with one of their experts who taught me how to get what I needed out of the platform. It was a tutoring call basically, and it was a great service they provided.

HOW- to create and design your blog (part 1)

We already covered the where, and we established that self-hosting is the way to go. Now comes the question of how to physically create your blog.
That brings me back to the beauty of WordPress. You need to choose a theme for your blog – which is basically a template that you pour your own content into. WordPress templates are very adaptable, and you don’t need to be a master of coding to play around with it. WordPress offers a lot of free templates that you can tweak so it looks like the vision you had in your mind. The biggest advantage is that all you have to do is pick a template, click and it’s installed on your blog as is.

The actual work begins when you want to make changes and so it suits your needs. If you go with the free option, I suggest you look at all the templates and find the one that is closest to the type of blog you envisioned so it will need minimal changes. It takes some time (and lots of youtube watching) to figure out how everything works. However, if designing is not your jam and/or you have a very specific look you want for your blog, and/or you don’t have the time or the patience to teach yourself all the secrets and tricks of WordPress (and trust me it takes time) you can choose to go for a styled template that you can buy from designers who create and sell them online.

One of my absolute favorites sources for my online needs is
Creative Market

I love using Creative Market because  I can choose from an endless selection of theme designs made for WordPress. You can get them at varying budget-friendly prices. Once you find a theme you like, you can see a demo version of it, to understand how it works. the download comes with installation instructions and it’s pretty easy to do. Some designers offer to install it for a fee if you are nervous about it. What I love about it is that you can contact the designers directly and they are very helpful. I had a pretty good experience doing that. Here are a couple of my favorite theme designers, I am a fan of very feminine light designs and of affordable prices which is why I like these 2:
Tinselpop web & Brand Design
Bella Creative Studio – super clean light and feminine designs for a great price. There are many more, take a look, see what you like.

HOW- design your blog (part 2) – Images

When you buy/download a theme, they come with generic images. You should personalize the design so it doesn’t look like a dozen others. If you are a gifted photographer (lucky you!) create images for the header of your blog, and for your posts. Try to keep them cohesive so your blog has a polished look. I am not gifted, unfortunately, so  I use stock images I either buy or download for free. If I use the free resources then I play around with the images until they get the look I like. When I buy photos I use a few of the same designers to keep the same style. Creative Market is again my source for the paid ones. I like buying a bundle of the same style images rather than searching for them separately.

My favorite FREE stock photos source is Pexels followed by Pixaby The biggest issue I have with those is that you can search for a long time until you find the style you want and usually I have to edit it so it fits the look of my blog. Also, you will usually see the same images as yours on Pinterest over and over again (and apparently it confuses the Pinterest algorithm). These are examples of what you can find on Creative Market:
Feminine stock photos bundle
Feminine stock photos bundle 2
There are literally endless options there, check it out.

WHAT-  to write about

Content is such an important subject to discuss in regards to blogging. I have a lot to share about my approach to content creating and the tools I use for creating it. Most of the tools are free and accessible to everyone. As there is much to write about it, I will continue this part in my next post. Stay tuned!

If you already have your blog set up and you want to start monetizing it try this post
If you are looking for some free resources to help you in the business part of your blog you may like this post

I hope you got some value and a starting point/answers to your blogging questions. If there is something more you want to ask, I am always here or you can contact me by email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Blog like it’s your business – best blogging tools

  1. Thank you for sharing this post and I actually just went over to SetraHost for my first ever self hosted blog! Unfortunately I haven’t had a spare moment to get things up and running yet but I’m really excited to!

  2. These are some really great tips! I def believe if you can afford to, self hosting is the way to go. You have more control and can do with your site as you wish. I like the sound of creative marketing, I’ve never heard of them so I’ll check them out later. Another great site for images is Unsplash 💕💕

    xx Lena | https://lenadeexo.com

    1. I love Unsplash, the problem is many other bloggers love these free websites too. I do use it a lot for pinning, and I try to play around with it and make it a little different. What’s great about the creative market is that you can get great bargains there. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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