Starting your own blog ain’t easy, but it’s a lot easier if you know what you’re doing! I’ve put together a list of resources for anyone interested in starting their own blog. They’re all the tools I relied heavily on while creating Adventures of a Twenty-Something.
I can say with 100% confidence that I would’ve stood no chance of creating Adventures of a Twenty-Something on my own — without hiring help at any stage — if it wasn’t for Food Blogger Pro.
Created by Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, the brilliant duo behind Pinch of Yum, Food Blogger Pro is an invaluable tool that walks you through exactly what you need to do to start your own blog. And when I say “exactly,” I mean there are over 300 videos that walk you through the process, step by step. And you don’t have to be a food blog to benefit from the videos — it can really help bloggers of all genres.
When I started, I had a general idea of what I needed to do. Buy a domain … and build the blog? I’ve had more simplistic blogs in the past — I kept one while studying abroad in college, for instance — but I’ve never attempted to build my own site.
It wasn’t until I actually started creating Adventures of a Twenty-Something that I realized how many steps go into it. I used WordPress daily for work for years, and I still had a hard time.
Food Blogger Pro costs $1 for the first month and $25 each month after that (you are free to cancel whenever), and is a tool I cannot recommend highly enough.
One of the biggest decisions in creating your own blog is deciding where to host your website, assuming you’re using WordPress.org (little graphic on the difference between .org and .com here — basically, you can earn a lot more revenue with .org).
I went with Bluehost since that’s the site Food Blogger Pro uses to walk you through your blog set-up. It’s extremely affordable — perfect for new bloggers who don’t want to make a huge commitment — so you can jump right in. Once you start getting monster traffic you’ll have to upgrade, but I don’t see any reason to pay huge hosting fees until I have huge traffic.
If you go to Bluehost.com, it’ll take you to a page where you click “get started now” (by where I put the squiggly arrow):
It will then take you to a login screen, and you’ll put in your desired domain name (for instance, adventures-of-a-twenty-something.com):
Bluehost has free domain registration if you host with them, which is another huge plus!
Domain names, hosting, themes… Implementing it all can get a little confusing. Why do you need it all anyway?
Think of your blog as beautiful paintings on display.
You need to rent out studio space to show the paintings (hosting), install WordPress so you have a place to create your painting (canvas), and purchase paint and paintbrushes to create the final product (Genesis framework+theme).
Technically the last step isn’t necessary — your parents may have some old paintbrushes in the attic, and WordPress gives you old themes you can use. But if you really want that painting to shine, it’s probably best to invest in some better tools.
With StudioPress, you install what’s called a “Genesis framework,” which provides the basic design, security, and SEO foundation of your website. A “child theme” then sits on top of that framework, handling all the aesthetic design and layout aspects of your website.
In the case of Adventures of a Twenty-Something, I opted for the “Foodie” child theme.
Note that with StudioPress, you can buy the theme and the framework at the same time. Basically, just select the theme, and the framework comes with it!
Also from the Pinch of Yum team is a book called Tasty Food Photography. I don’t have much background experience with photography — and it’s still not something I’d ever say I’m “good” at — but reading this book made me at least feel comfortable with the basics.
One of the things I appreciate most about Pinch of Yum/Food Blogger Pro is that they share all the tricks it has taken them years to pick up. In the book, you’ll see examples of of how Lindsay photographed food a number of years ago, and how she would do it now. Very cool.
Many bloggers use technical, expensive photo editing tools like Photoshop. I’ve found a better, cheaper alternative: PicMonkey.
PicMonkey is extremely intuitive, and you can use it to edit “artsy” photos, or pictures of your family and friends. I used it to edit my family’s Christmas card last year. In addition to all the basic tools, it has a million really fun features, as well. You can whiten people’s teeth, make them skinnier (I kid you not), give them an extra swipe of mascara (seriously), and so much more.
Photoshop usually costs somewhere around $20 a month, but can be as expensive as $50 a month depending on your plan. The all-inclusive PicMonkey plan, PicMonkey Royale, costs between $2.75 and $4.99 a month depending on whether you purchase a month-to-month or annually.
Sounds like a great deal to me!
** PicMonkey has been giving me some problems in Safari lately, but they seem to clear up if you switch to Chrome.
I had so much fun creating Adventures of a Twenty-Something, and it has become a creative outlet that gives me so much joy. It takes a lot of dedication for the first few days, though, while you’re getting it all set up! I was under the mistaken impression that once I downloaded the Foodie theme, I would basically be able to start writing. Not so! You still have set everything up the way you want it (tutorials here), and if you haven’t done it before, it can be time-consuming.
Still, if you’ve always wanted to start a blog, there’s no reason not to! Hopefully this helps you avoid some of the mistakes I made!
Author’s note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, but I suggest the products because I use and trust them, not because of any commission I may earn.