Blogging Essentials

Bloggingessentials

Getting Started:

You may have found your way through my How to Start a Blog in 5 Simple Steps post, and have gotten yourself going with starting your own blog! CONGRATS! I wanted to take today to walk you through in a little more detail of some of my blogging essentials. This first section talks similarly to things I mentioned in that first post, but then we’ll get into photography, relationships, and more!


 

  • Domain: What will you call your blog?

 

  • Hosting: The hosting is how your website runs. Here is a good starting option!

 

  • WordPress.org account: Read this post on why I recommend WordPress.org over WordPress.com!

 

  • Theme: You can find these through wordpress. There are free themes and premium themes.

 

  • Logo/Color Scheme/Fonts: Stick with a few colors and a few fonts so people remember your style!

 

  • Aweber or MailChimp for email subscribe list: I use Aweber.

 

  • Media kit- these are amazing!

 

  • Quality, original content. Plus, show your personality! Quality over quantity, always.

 

  • Don’t forget… Beautiful photos! 

 

The Blogger Project



 

Social Media/Traffic Driving Sites:

Driving traffic to your website is ultimately your goal, right? Here is a list of the sites that I primarily focus on right now. There are a ton to explore, but the ones listed here are the sites I focus on most. 

  • Pinterest account 

  • Facebook page

  • Twitter account 

  • Instagram account 

  • FoodGawker

  • Yummly

Make it easy for your visitors to follow your blog! Display clear images/icons for your RSS feed and social channels on each page.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 10.35.43 AM


 

My Essential Plug-ins:

  • Akismet: Blocks spam (you’ll NEED this).

  • Recipe Card: There are many recipe plugins you can use, whichever you go with, just make sure they are optimized for Google. I use Recipe Card and have been happy with the customization and results.

  •  

    Shareaholic: This is a great way to allow readers to share your content! 

  •  

    Pin it for images: This puts a handy “pin it” button on every image so people can easily pin to your site- P.S. Pinterest is a huge traffic driver!! A few Pinterest tips: join group boards, recirculate old content, create long images, spread out your pinning (so you aren’t pinning the same recipe to 7 boards all at once)!

  •  

  • Google AnalyticsSet up analytics so you can track traffic coming to and from your site. Google analytics is a great way to see the times of day people come your way, along with your popular content, unique visitors, page views, etc.

 


 

Food Photography Essentials:

  • CameraI am currently shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III after using a Canon Rebel with a 60mm Macro Lens  for the past 2 years. All of the pictures on my site previously are shot with the Rebel base + the Macro. I’m super excited about my upgrade to a full-frame base that has WiFi capabilities, HD video, and more. It is definitely an expensive camera and a big investment, so if you’re just getting started look first at purchasing something like the Canon Rebel to start out!

 

  • Macro lens(es)I highly recommend macro lenses for food photography. 

  • TripodYou can find cheaper tripods, but you’ll notice the difference with a good one.

 

  • Memory CardsInvest in a nice memory card that can hold some serious content! 

 

  • Extra camera battery: A very good thing to have on hand.

 

  • Photoshop or LightroomI use Photoshop to edit my photos!

 

  • Light reflectors: You can use white foam board as a cheap option.

 

  • Photo boards:  My favorites: Erickson Wood Worksreclaimed wood, chalkboard, marble slab (see below, this one is good too)

 

  • Food propsHome Goods, Anthropologie, Antique Stores, and Crate and Barrel are a few places I find props often. I have a HUGE cabinet filled. To start, try some basics: (white dishes are always a good one), some fun cloth napkins, and some silverware.

What I’m using:


 

Make Relationships With:

  • Brands

  • Bloggers

  • Authors

  • Writers

  • Local businesses

It is so important to have a community to help you! Fellow bloggers will become your best (virtual, or if your lucky you’ll meet in person) friends. You can help and support each other, learn from one another, and so much more. Don’t bury yourself in your little corner of the internet! 

 


 Tips:

  • 1. Learn about SEO: here’s one article!

  • 2. It will come to a point where you are ready to monetize your blog, but remember who your audience is. Only work with brands that you truly stand behind. Your readers are trusting YOU and your word. Post quality content, and opportunities will come your way.

  • 3. Work hard.

  • 4. Post consistently.  That way your visitors know to come back on a certain day(s) for new content.

  • 5. Be responsive! Comment back. Engage your audience!

 

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!

What blogging tips would you like to learn more about? What questions do you have? Leave them below!

How To Start A Blog in 5 Simple Steps

I get a few emails a week about the growth and success of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, how exactly I went about it, and if I have any tips or advice for new bloggers. Even though it’s sort of unrelated to my food blog, I’ve been thinking about bringing a blogging resource series here; and after high demand through a recent poll on my Facebook page, I decided to go for it. I will be sharing all types of advice- from mistakes I’ve made, my favorite plugins and things that I use daily, to things they don’t tell you when starting a blog, and so on.

To get there though, we need to go back to the basics today. If you follow this post. In five steps you’ll be ready to publish your first post on your brand new blog!

Maybe you want to blog to stay connected with family around the world, or maybe you have a passion that you want to document to potentially inspire and help others. Whatever the reason, it’s no secret that blogs are where it’s at! So let’s get going…
How To Start A Blog in 5 Simple Steps

step1Figure out your blog name and buy the domain

For many this might be the most difficult part- picking a name that you will ultimately stick with- it’s tough, but have fun with it. Think of something that defines you or the message you are trying to convey and then give it a quick search in the Bluehost search bar, to make sure it doesn’t already exist.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-27-at-8.58.51-PM Buying a domain is generally pretty cheap, which is great.

step2

So… you bought your domain. What now? The next thing you’ll need to do is get your hosting.

Hosting is just how your website is accessible to people on the internet. It sounds complex, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s a number of different companies you can host your website with, and many of which make it pretty simple where you don’t have to think about details too much. I recommend starting out with a trusted company like Bluehost. They are extremely reasonably priced and super helpful. You can find all you need for hosting with them by clicking here.

I currently host LCK on private servers and host privately due to high volume of traffic- but I started out in a similar package as the ones below, and they are perfect.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-27-at-8.58.22-PMThese are the available self-host options with Bluehost.

step3

So, you have your domain, you have your hosting, and now you’re ready to build your website and have some fun customizing it with a theme.

My tip: When I first started LCK, I went with the free WordPress version, WordPress.com. Months later I realized that I was extremely limited in what I could do with the free one, and had to switch over to the paid version. This was beyond a huge pain. Like huge, seriously. I lost content, had to start a new design, etc. Go for the self-hosted WordPress.org over WordPress.com. Trust me.

So, once you’ve signed up with the hosting, Bluehost makes it super simple. You can literally scroll down and with a click of the button install WordPress right there. Easy breezy.

6

You’ll get an email confirmation with your login, create a password (write it down), and just like that… ready to go!

Note: Your login URL (how to get to the backend of your site) is generally your domain/wp-admin (for example: lexiscleankitchen.com/wp-admin). Make sure during the installation process you have the correct login and password written down.

GO AHEAD! Log in to your spankin’ new website. It’s yours, you are officially a blogger!

Next you’ll get pick a pretty theme. You can find a list of them here, and by list I mean thousands upon thousands- so you’ll probably spend some good quality couch time checking out all the awesome layouts and deciding on a few of them before making an actual decision. There are free themes and premium themes.

Premium themes, such as those on Elegant themes, are ones you pay for. They offer more customization options and more unique designs!

step4You are so close to writing your first post, can you feel it? One last step, and a few tips away!

Plugins and content layout are next. This will take you as little or as much time as you choose to put in it initially. Maybe you already have a logo and a color scheme ready to go, and all you’ll need to do is some formatting and writing, or maybe you are starting from scratch! Be prepared to possibly spend a good amount of time getting this step ready for the world to see!

You’ll want some plugins and things set up right off the bat. A few of my must-haves are…

Akismet: Blocks spam (you’ll NEED this).

Simple Recipe Pro: There are many recipe plugins you can use, whichever you go with, just make sure they are optimized for Google. SRP is the plugin I developed and it is fabulous! My favorite feature is the global affiliate linker!

TIP: It was hard for me to initially find this (not so code-savvy), but I use it all the time! You use this code when you want to link to a product in RecipeCard

<a href=”insertyourlinkhere” target=”_blank”>This is the text for your link</a>

Shareaholic: This is a great way to allow readers to share your content!

Pin it for images: This puts a handy “pin it” button on every image so people can easily pin to your site- P.S. Pinterest is a huge traffic driver (I’ll get into this in a future post).

Google Analytics: Set up analytics so you can track traffic coming to and from your site. Google analytics is a great way to see the times of day people come your way, along with your popular content, unique visitors, page views, etc.

Lastly, when I say content layout I just mean that you’ll want to organize your pages. You can do that under Appearance —> Menus.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-9.47.22-AM

For example: add an about me page, a contact page, etc. These are important so your readers can put a name/story/face behind your blog, and for them and potential clients to have a way to reach you to ask you questions/inquire about a media kit (more on this in a future post)!

step5

Now the fun really begins! You are ready to write your first post, whatever that may be. Along with writing your first post, you’ll want to get on that social media grind.

By this I mean… you probably don’t already have a social media following (I’ll talk more in the future about how I started blogging from my Instagram account). Utilize what you already have aka PROMOTE IT TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. It’s okay to be a little annoying, your friends will jump on board and support you. 

Social media channels to utilize:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Google+

So, was this helpful? Do you have any blogging questions you want answered? I have some posts lined up I think will be helpful, but am looking to hear more of what YOU want to see!

Stay tuned for the upcoming weeks where I’ll talk about how I started and grew a blog through social media, blogging resources, food photography, things they don’t tell you when starting a blog, and so much more.

If you’re interested in these types of posts, subscribe via email below. You can choose to subscribe for recipes, for blogging resources posts, or BOTH!




This post contains affiliate links. You can read more about what that means on my Privacy Policy & Disclosures page here. Thank you for your continuous support in helping LCK grow!