The Truth About Blogging: The Best Way to Start a Blog

The Truth About Blogging: Things I wish I had done differently.

The Best Way to Start a Blog

how to start a blog

So, when I started this blog 2 years ago I was pretty much flying blind and doing everything on a whim…..BIG mistake.  I could have saved myself a LOT of frustration, do-overs, and headaches if I had just done some more research and set things up the right way the first time!

I have put together this post outlining the best way to start a blog to give you the most success….now, I’m not an expert and I don’t guarantee that you will be successful if you follow these steps– you determine your success….but by following these best practices you’ll be set up the best possible way…..I wish you all the best in your blogging journey.

1. Invest a little money into your blog…use…it will pay off in the long run!

There are free platforms out there for setting up a blog– I started out on Blogger…and it’s a great platform BUT if I knew then what I know now I would have started on a self-hosted WordPress site.  Here’s the deal….I didn’t want to invest any money in my blog in case I failed BUT I didn’t fail…in fact, I really enjoyed blogging and once I decided that I wanted to make some real money blogging it cost me a heck of a lot more to fix my mistake and it was a nightmare!  When you use a free platform, like Blogger, you don’t own your content– Blogger does– which means they can shut you down for no reason.  Imagine putting in 3-4 months of hard work, lots of posts, building a following, and then you wake up one morning with all of your hard work GONE!  It happens all the time!

Plus, if you plan on making money with your blog you will make more money on a self-hosted site than you will on Blogger– oh, and don’t use the free because you’re not allowed to make money with that site!  Brands prefer to work with bloggers who are self-hosted…they pay more and you’ll get more jobs by being self hosted….not to mention higher ad revenues too.  When I switched from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site I TRIPLED my income!

I highly recommend using Bluehost for your hosting.  Bluehost has some great pricing for self hosting and is very dependable.


If you decide to go with a free platform then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE at least get your own domain name….if you start out with their domain name (it will look like: you will loose ALL of your Google juice when you do decide to switch (to something like this….I had a Google PR score of 5 when I decided I needed my own domain and it dropped down to 3 after the switch.  I know this doesn’t mean much to you right now but trust me…..dropping from a 5 to a 3 on Google WILL affect the amount of money you make blogging!  To keep it short…your Google PR score basically decides where your site falls in a Google search….so would you rather be on page 1 or page 15 after you’ve done all of the hard work and have grown your blog.  Again, you can get a domain name really cheap through Bluehost.

3. Make sure ALL of your social media names match!

You’ll notice that all of my social media names are a slight variation of Serendipity and Spice….this is because either names were taken or I had too many characters in the name…. it’s much easier if all of your social media names are consistent…it makes it easier for Brands and readers to find you across all platforms.  As you can see…. my Facebook Fanpage and Instagram are both SerendipityandSpice.  But Twitter is SerendipitynSp because of character limits.  Pinterest is SerendipitySpic is because of character limits. Google Plus is +MelissaLlado because of rules regarding names.  Everything is different which makes it difficult now because if someone tags me in one place it doesn’t show up in other places…..for example, when I pin something on Pinterest I like to tag the person and tweet it too….but if your Pinterest name and Twitter names don’t match then you don’t get tagged in both places (which helps with your Klout score)…make sense?  So try to get all of your social media names to match.

4. Have your profile picture match across all social platforms.

People want to see YOU…so please pic a picture you love of yourself and use that one picture for all of your social media.  You want people to recognize you and having different pictures can cause confusion if they have the right person.  Plus, you’ll be building your brand with that image…the brand of YOU. 🙂

5. Don’t overdo it…use your scheduler!

If you start off trying to post 5-7 times a week you WILL burn out!  I try to post at least 1 recipe, 1 craft, 1 linky party, 1 sponsored post, and 1 misc post a week….but I schedule them out.  I may write like 6 recipes in one sitting but I don’t schedule them all to post right away or in the same week.  I schedule one a week for 6 weeks….now I know that I have at least one post publishing a week for 6 weeks.  I know you’re eager to pin them and get traffic on your posts but trust me….you’ll be happy you have posts prescheduled when life hits….and consistency is key to growing your readers and Google score.

6. Host a linky party.

Yep, I said it, many bloggers believe that there are more than enough linky parties and we don’t need anymore but I call bull&*^%.  People LOVE linking up to linky parties….and many people like linking up to the smaller linky parties because there’s a better chance of getting your stuff seen.  I would go to a smaller blog much faster than a bigger blog…I mean I don’t even bother linking up once there’s more than 150 links at a party because it’s a waste of my time.  The parties that only have 50 or so links actually send me the most traffic because people actually see my link and the hosts are more likely to feature me.

Now, if you host a linky party you need to do it correctly.  My Manic Monday Linky Party is the main way that I built Serendipity and Spice in the beginning….it’s still my highest traffic day!  Linky parties do bring traffic but in order to build your community and keep people coming back you need to do it correctly….keep an eye out for How to Host a Linky Party coming soon.  Basically, you want to get signed up for Inlinkz– use the thumbnail version…people like to see pictures….and it’s only like $2 a month.  There are other link up programs but I’ve used Inlinkz since the beginning and it’s been perfect.  Once you get your party set up make sure you give shout outs and visit everyone who joins.  Now, it’s ok to invite people BUT DO NOT do a blanket statement like “Hi. I love your project, come by and link up to my party……”.  It’s considered rude.  Visit other linky parties and leave a THOUGHTFUL comment and let them know you’ll be starting a party on Tuesdays if they’d like to stop by….DO NOT leave a link….they will be able to click on your name and get to your blog.  I’ll go into more detail about how to properly throw a linky party to grow your blog soon.

7. Write good content!

Content is key.  You’re not going to make it very far in the blogging world if you don’t have good content that adds value to a reader.  If your goal is to make money with your blog then you want to write useful content that random people want to know.  Unfortunately no one cares that Aunt Jenny has a cold this week and the dog ran away.  But random people would be interested in How to Fight a Cold Naturally or How to Explain to Children that the Dog Ran Away.

8. BIG Pictures are worth 1000 words!

DON’T use small pictures!  People respond to BIG beautiful pictures….try to make sure they are the width of your blog posts….the standard is between 600px and 650px wide.  You can check out 3 steps for how to improve your blog photos  and if there’s no photo for what you’re writing then at least make a text picture….a quote from your post or the title.

9. Ask yourself…. “Would I Read This Blog?”

Well, would you?  If you were reading blogs or scrolling through Pinterest would you stop and check out your blog?  Does it stand out among the ocean of blogs out there?  Make sure that you’re producing content that you would read if you didn’t know you….know what I mean?

10.  Stay diligent.

Blogging is a marathon not a race!  If you stay diligent and consistent in your writing then you will grow and you will begin making money if that is your goal.  My first year of blogging I think I made $500.  The second year I more than tripled that number.  This year my goal is to make a decent part time income….it’s taken a LOT of work and diligence to make it to this point.  There have been times where I just wanted to quit, there have been many times that I’ve gotten burnt out, but I just keep pushing forward.  Over the last 2 years I have honed my blogging skills by reading, researching, and learning more and more…you can definitely tell the difference between one of my first posts and one of my current posts.

Veteran Bloggers: Do you have any best practices for the best way to start a blog?  

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  1. Steph says

    Thanks so much and I’m glad I found this info! I have a blog on blogger that I don’t use much but I’m really considering getting “down and dirty” with a committed blog. These tips are very helpful. Thank you!

  2. Fawn says

    I am very interested in starting a blog and am so glad I found this post early on in my research. Your post has given me a guide to what I still need to learn before actually starting my blog!

  3. says

    Thank you for all the great tips! I’m still relatively new so I can use all the help I can get. I started out with Blogger in February, and made the switch to WordPress in June. What a major pain! Glad I did it when I did though!

  4. says

    Great post, with lots of relevant tips.

    I’m glad I started a small craft blog on blogger early on as it helped me get into blogging and decide that’s what I wanted to do before I discovered wordpress for my own ongoing blog. I started on .com and that was fine, but if people know what they want to do and continue from the outset then definitely .org is the way to go.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment! I never thought about going with a .org. What are the reasons you suggest .org? I always thought that was more for forums and groups.

  5. says

    I’m really excited that I found your blog tonight. I’m new when it comes to blogging and reading your words of wisdom is a big help. Thank you for taking the time to write them!

  6. says

    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for this post!! I am a very newbie blogger, and I’m a little lost when it comes to all of this. It’s so nice to hear your experience and lessons learned. I can only hope that in two years I can write a similar ‘words of wisdom’ post that might just help a new blogger! Thanks again!

  7. says

    I have been blogging for a few years and had a different content when I started, basically it was about cakes and aprons because that is what I was doing, now it is quilts with a few aprons and quilts and vintage machines and a few recipes thrown in. I changed the name of my blog about a year later to Missy’s Homemaking Adventures, but my website is is there a way to change it without losing my followers?

    • says

      Hey Missy–I know there’s a way to forward your old domain so that you’ll maintain your current readers….but I can’t begin to tell you how to do it right. I would talk to a web designer and ask for their assistance in setting that up. If you’re planning on making the switch to WP and are planning on hiring someone (which I highly recommend…I broke my site 3 times over the course of a weekend and shed way too many tears!) they can probably set it up easily for you.

  8. says

    This was a very informative post! Thanks for sharing what you learned over the last 2 years. I am in the phase of trying to understand what it takes to monetize my blog. There are so many choices and options out there. I do pretty much everything you said except the linky parties. That is something to think about!

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