Starting a blog is more accessible in 2021 than it’s ever been before. Starting a blog on green energy is even better, and I’m gonna show you how you can do it 46 cents cheaper than Bluehost and still have a better quality host.
Before I do that, I want to explain why Bluehost is the top recommended by bloggers, even though several bloggers will advise against Bluehost.
Hint: It’s not the hosting they’re selling. They may have started there, but they moved because it wasn’t great long-term. Or they just be telling you about it because it’s “the cheapest” — it’s not: my host is cheaper (and better).
Bluehost is a top recommendation because of their high-paying affiliate program. Write a post about starting a blog inexpensively, and you’re going to land a lot of traffic (after promoting it, of course). Encourage people to sign up with a company whose affiliate payout is competitive, and you are going to make bank.
I’m explaining this to you because I value transparency. This post contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you purchase through links — but you won’t be charged more for it. It’s like being compensated because you referred a friend to your favorite subscription box.
And while we’re discussing this, I’m gonna throw it out there: GreenGeeks’ affiliate program works in tiers. There is opportunity to earn up to $100/sale, but the levels are determined by how many sales you make per month, so one sale per month = $50. One referral each day of the month could amount to $3,000.
It’d be great — it’d mean I could worry less about paying my bills and focus more on trying to turn my second floor apartment living room into my personal dance studio, but I don’t hold out for it.
My goal with this post is more to provide you with the tools to finally start that blog you’ve been thinking about without being tricked to spend your money on low-quality products.
Another point I want to address? Bluehost’s promotion to start a blog for $2.95/mo. is based on a 36-month, or 3-year, payment plan.
GreenGeeks is cheaper, priced at $2.49/mo. triennially.
GreenGeeks offers major discounts available that make me want to share it with the whole freaking world, because green hosting is amazing and should be the future. There is no reason to not opt for eco-friendly hosting when it’s priced so low and you don’t even miss out on quality.
The question comes down to what are you building here?
And if you are building a blog (or already a blog) about the importance of caring for our planet, but you don’t use a host powered by green energy…what is even the point?
So I want to normalize that, too. That’s why I updated this ancient post. 😏
✨ Contents ✨
- Why start a blog?
- Benefits of blogging
- Choosing a focus for your blog
- Naming your blog
- Choose & pay for hosting
- Install WordPress
- Essential pages
- Setting up social media accounts
- Google Analytics & Search Console
- Submitting your blog to search engines
- Start blogging!
I surmise you’re here because you’ve already decided, but if you’re on the edge — I got you.
Your blog is the virtual space you have total control over. Social media is not forever, and it’s run by other people. Your social media accounts are simply leased, like an apartment. You don’t fully own your account, but you’re allowed the virtual space to do with it what you want, so long as you follow the lease.
Buy property, and it’s yours to do with what you want. I used to believe you could buy a house and used that for this metaphor, but then I learned about homeowner associations (HOAs) when I moved to Princeton, TX.
Your blog = your property.
Squarespace is often looked at as a web host instead of a site builder, but it is not your property. You own the content, but you are leasing the space. Their terms make it clear that they will use your content as seen fit to “provide, improve, promote and protect” their services.
They reserve the right to (and do) update their services at any time, with or without notice, even if it risks messing up your site (like those cookie banner updates).
Social media is optional. If you want to create a stable presence on the internet, for whatever reason, you need a website. If you want to be able to update people about whatever you want, however you want, you need a blog and/or newsletter.
I recommend having both a blog and newsletter, but that’s just me. I only recently started building a mailing list after 10 years of blogging (oops), but I’ve followed bloggers who shut their blogs down to only send out newsletters and I hate it because sometimes you want something to link to when you tell people about it!
So maybe you’re still not swayed, but that’s okay. I have a list.
- easy to share recipes, crafts, etc. with family, friends & the whole world
- connect with people anywhere, everywhere
- educate people about you (e.g. autism, dissociative identity disorder) or something you know how to do (e.g. blogging)
- share research & knowledge
- show skills, e.g. live portfolio/résumé
- build credibility & establish a platform
If starting a blog feels “meh” or forced to you, consider starting a podcast or making a comic instead — there are plenty other things to do instead of starting a blog, and blogs don’t even have to include writing if you hate it.
Everyone will tell you you need a niche, except a lovely handful who will tell you your blog needs a focus.
A blog niche is a specific topic you would blog about all the time. If you decide to add another niche or rebrand, retaining your current audience and adding another may not work in your favor. An example of a niche blog is Reusable Menstrual Products (shameless plug!).
A blog focus is a specific focus or theme around which all your posts relate to. While it is still specific, I consider it a vague theme or umbrella term my posts will remind people of.
My neurodivergent brain functions in a way that it believes all things are connected, so a focus allows me to keep things vague, but I adhere to a particular theme so as to avoid going too off topic.
A guideline I have for myself when determining if a new blog or category is worth it is to see if I can think of 52 posts about it. If so, I challenge myself to think up 20 more. From here, I determine whether I could commit to a full blog and whether it would be better than just another category on my primary blog (this blog).
In the case of Reusable Menstrual Products, I did not have 52 ideas, but I decided the exact match domain would weigh out in search engine optimization (SEO), which would help current and prospective reusable menstrual product users find the information they’re looking for — the most important thing about the project at all (when it opens, at least).
I mean, it was ✨available✨, so how could not??
Of course, this isn’t a great mindset, so don’t just do something on a whim because it’s available if you don’t have the means for it. I’d been wanting a site like this for a while, because the one that helped me in the early days turned into spam.
Remember that thing about how you can create things that aren’t blogs? Having a list of posts you could publish for a year doesn’t mean you have to create a blog.
I created a giant list of posts I could write featuring adulting lessons and tips. I even registered a domain for it. But I realized I didn’t want to start a new blog; I wanted that to be my primary blog.
Your blog’s focus is important, but so is your focus to your blog.
A blog is a commitment. You can start a blog for as low as you want, but your time and energy are also investments.
So! You’ve got a focus, and now you need a name!
I have a whole post dedicated to naming your blog, but the most important factors are:
- keep it simple, memorable & easy to say and spell
- make it unique enough that it’s not trademarked and/or used by another brand
- allow for growth
- if you choose a less common TLD (dot-gay is uncommon), consider registering the dot-com version
Register domain name
If you choose to register your domain with someone who isn’t your host, then you need a registrar. I typically do this, because I prefer to manage domains and hosting separately.
However, you can also go the route of registering with your host — and I have done this, too, recently; the experience is not bad if you love and trust the host.
Registrars I recommend and use myself:
Although there are alternatives, I recommend WordPress.org for blog management — this isn’t a host, but determining which content management system (CMS) you’ll be blogging with is key to figure out your host.
This post is also about how to start a WordPress blog, so.
Powering the internet requires a lot of energy, with data centers accounting for two percent of the world’s carbon emissions — matching the airline industry. Data center pollution is expected to grow higher, hitting 14 percent, matching the USA, by 2040.
Back in the day, you had to install WordPress manually. It’s 2021. You don’t have to do that anymore!
Depending on your host’s client control panel, your one-click WordPress installation will either be on the first page or in Softaculous.
On their client dashboard, GreenGeeks has a Quick Launch tool, which allows you to start a new website with a fresh WordPress install, migrate an existing site (this is what I did!), create a starter site, or skip the setup.~
Since you’re starting a new website, you’d click “Start New Website”, which would open app selections — WordPress, WordPress + WooCommerce, Weebly.
From there, you can choose the theme to start with. Since I use custom themes, I go with the latest WordPress default theme.
The control panel search box will also take you to WordPress, if you choose to skip the setup and do everything manually.
- About pages help your visitors know what your blog is about — and allow them to get to know the person behind it, as well.
- Contact pages provide a direct method of contacting you, for whatever reason your visitors may need to do so.
I’ve recently adopted the belief that it doesn’t matter if your social matches. Is it easier to remember? YES. But your brand/blog name/business name/etc. should not depend on whether it is available across all the social media platforms you seek to join.
That said, here are some tips to land a variation of the handle you want:
- acronym + “blog” at the end, e.g.
- name + “blog” at the end, e.g.
- “the” + name of your blog/brand/etc., e.g.
- “official” + name of blog/brand/etc., e.g.
Deeply consider how you spread your time and energy across the social channels, after you determine which platforms best suit your focus.
- Facebook is a social platform where shitposting wins among every generation — it just depends on what you’re posting.
- Instagram is a visual social platform where celebrities and influencers thrive. Insta-worthiness saturates this platform.
- Pinterest is visual, best for recipes, DIY, interior design, and fashion — not so much for podcasts, music, etc.
- TikTok is visual and meme-worthy. Highly-edited content does well, but people also love the rawness of spur-the-moment content. Being yourself and putting your own spin on trends is key. New content creators have a better chance to shine here than Instagram, methinks.
- Twitter is more social, less visual. Lately, it’s been dominated by politics and fandoms.
I like to look at my Analytics and Search Console ish inside my WordPress. Site Kit by Google will automatically set up and verify site ownership, which means you don’t add the code yourself or upload the verification file.
You can also manage other Google site products, like Google Tag Manager, from this plugin.
So you have Google Analytics set up, but the internet contains more search engines than just Google. Telling search engines about your site allows them the opportunity to start crawling it immediately, instead of having to wait for it to be picked up.
JetPack has website verification services available, so you don’t have to manually update your theme header.
Places to submit your site:
- Submit to Bing, even if you don’t use it
- Verify site ownership with Google Site Console (automatically done via Site Kit by Google)
- Submit site to Google My Business, if you’re a business
- Submit to Yandex (word of caution: I had to contact them because I couldn’t verify
There’s no magic spell to just make a blog happen. If I was starting this blog over in 2021, I would obviously do many things differently because I’d be starting it a decade later.
If you spend time focusing on having the right theme, you’re going to wind up wasting a lot of money and time on something that’s not necessarily happening — the definition of holding yourself back.
I have a blog prompt randomizer, if you need post blog post ideas.
Whatever you do, don’t be a useless blogger.