getting started

5 Proactive Ways to start your WordPress Blog

5 proactive ways to start your wordpress blog

If you’re planning on launching a freelance career, side hustle, product, or you already own a kickass business then starting your very own blog is the way forward. Seriously, blogging is a force on its own, and whether you’re planning on creating a blog for hobby or profit, it can be a pretty straightforward task when you know the proactive steps to take you in the right direction.

I’ve set up a few blogs over the years and one of my favourite platforms is WordPress. Why go with WordPress? I’ve used Blogger, Squarespace and WordPress, and for me, WordPress is the most professional, flexible and search engine friendly of the lot. The first time I set up this blog on WordPress, it was overwhelming, but as a freelancer, I needed to figure it out for uploading work for clients. I gotta say, knowing what I know now, I would happily take this platform over Blogger (though Squarespace is pretty awesome too – have a read of my pros and cons of Squarespace for bloggers here.

Starting up a WordPress blog comprises of five elements. I’m not down with this whole start your blog in five minutes bullshit, but, it is pretty straightforward and if you follow the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to successfully establishing an epic blog.

Choose a name

Deciding on a name for your blog can be the most time consuming step, especially if you have yet to find a vision for your brand or a niche. When it came to naming my first ever blog, several years ago, I spent ages trying to pick the perfect name. For Diary of a Freelancer, it was a pretty quick decision. If you already have a business or a product then you’re pretty much good to go as I’d highly reccomend sticking with the same name. For those of you struggling to choose a blog name, take a few things into consideration;

  • If you’re starting a blog to boost your freelance career or for a side hustle then consider using your own name. Sure, its not the most original idea, but it looks professional and anyone searching for your work will easily be able to find your blog.
  • If you’re starting a blog as a hobby or are hoping to monetise it further down the line then consider your niche. If you’re starting a fashion blog then you might want to add ‘fashion’, ‘style’ or ‘chic’ to your name. Similarly, if you’re planning on writing a food blog then add a food related word. Yes, its simple, but its direct – anyone finding your blog will know straight away what your blog is about.
  • Alternatively, you may want something completely unique. If that’s the case then be adventurous. Gain inspiration from family, friends, social media, books, television shows…anything that can help you to brain storm an idea.
  • Make sure you search your chosen name in google and in domain name providers as you’ll need to ensure that there is no other blog or company with the same name.

Decide between free and paid hosting

WordPress offer a free option, which is ideal for those wanting to create a blog, without having to spend any initial investment. However, you’re limited as you cant use your own domain name or personalised blog design.

If you want the free option

Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a new account. Type in your blog name to get your free WordPress domain (you would need to pay extra to use your own personal domain). Free domains end in wordpress.com

You’ll then need to choose a username and password. Enter your email and check your emails to activate your WordPress account. Log in to your new account and you’ll find the dashboard on your left hand side. Head to personalize and themes, where you’ll be able to find a free design theme. Select live preview to view how your blog will look and when you’ve found the one for you, click save and activate.

Click on configure and settings to establish your security settings and comment settings. To add plugins, go to configure and plugins or visit https://en.support.wordpress.com/plugins/ to learn more about what you can add to your free WordPress blog.

You can then add content by clicking on blog posts under publish on the left hand dashboard.

If you want the paid option

For paid WordPress, head to wordpress.org This is what I use for Diary of a Freelancer. From here, you’ll be able to create a badass blog within a few minutes. At this point, you should have your blog name and have checked that your preferred name is free with a domain name provider.

Find a host

As wordpress.org requires self hosting, you’ll need to find a provider to host your blog. This is essentially where your blog will ‘live’. There are several providers – I personally recommend 1and1

Advantages of using 1and1

  • completely hassle free and easy setup
  • Affordable payment plan
  • They take care of any updates regarding the WordPress platform
  • You can test how optimised your website is
  • Takes care of your online marketing needs
  • Expert support

I use the WordPress Unlimited package which literally gives you everything you need, including unlimited webspace, a free domain, unlimited email accounts and complete enhanced security and webspace recovery.

Regardless of the host or package you choose, once you’ve chosen the ideal plan for you and your needs and entered your payment details, its time to set up your blog.

1.First, you’ll need to download WordPress org. Go to the website and save it to your computer. If you’ve opted with 1and1, go to your dashboard and click on MYSQLAdministration under the database section.

2. Next, click New Database and enter a description and password (note, you’ll probably want to ensure you’ve got a complicated password for security reasons!). Once you’ve done this, click set up. You’ll then be given details about your database setup, which you should make a note of.

3. Next, you’re going to upload WordPress by clicking on webspace explorer under access in the hosting section of your dashboard. Click upload at the top of the window in the webspace explorer window. Now select the wordpress file that you downloaded to your computer and click ok.

4. Once you’ve uploaded it, click unzip (at the top of the webspace explorer window), click on the drive icon in the following pop up window (the top icon) and click ok.

5. In your 1and1 dashboard, click on manage domains in the domain section. Check the box on the left hand side next to your target domain and click ‘destination’ and then ‘edit destination’ from the drop down box.

6. Click edit and then search, in the pop up window, find your wordpress folder and click save. Then click ok to save.

7. It may take some time for your site to be set up, however, once everything has been updated, you should see a WordPress notice that you dont have a wp-config.php file. On this notice, click on create a configuration file, you’ll then need to enter the information you saved in step 2.

8. Once you’ve entered all the required information, click submit. You should then be asked to run install. Click this button and enter your site title, username, password and email and click install. You should then be set up and you can enter the username and password you just created. You should now have access to your WordPress dashboard.

Find a blog design

You’ll now be interested in customising your blog to make it look epic. You may already have a designer on board, but, if not, I highly suggest taking a look at etsy. You’ll find a range of wordpress templates for around £20 and they’re very handy if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey.

Start writing your content

Now the good stuff! Its time to get writing and getting your content out there. Planning your content can be a challenge, which is why you can download my Get Started! Blog Planner completely free to help you on your way. This five page planner includes an editorial calendar, mood board for inspiration, post planner, blog stats tracker and email contact list.

To receive this epic blog freebie, just fill in the form below and check your email inbox for your completely free blog planner.

5 Things Learnt From My First Year of Freelancing

5 things learnt from my first year as a freelance writer

This past year, I’ve learned a crazy amount of information on freelancing. I’ve written a few points on how you can make the step into freelance work over on my other blog – you can find that post here. With that in mind, here’s a few things that I’ve realised in my first year of self employment.

1. Going freelance isn’t that difficult

Now, this may be due to the fact that I jumped in head first and didn’t really consider it not working out. Usually, I’m not that spontaneous but my train of thought at the time was to just go for it and see what happened. Luckily, I have managed to earn enough to pay my bills. Like everything in life, freelancing seems harder at first than it really is but once you get a few jobs under your belt, your confidence rises and you start to see a steady stream of work flow in.

2. Believe in yourself

I’m not the most confident person in the world but you probably wouldn’t know that if you read my blogs or CV. When it comes to self employment, you really need to show belief in your abilities. In order to obtain freelance work, you have to show what you can do and pitch to clients. That requires sounding professional and basically, bigging yourself up. Even if you’re not a confident person, pretend you are when it comes to work. I always mention my key skills in any pitch and the areas that I have experience in.

3. Set reasonable rates

The hardest part for me when going freelance was to set my rates. Every freelancer has different ideas about what their personal rates are. I’ve seen many people state a range of figures but I generally set my rates in terms of an hourly figure. Some people might think that’s too low but it works for me and its what I’m happy with at this moment in time. If you’re starting out, you might want to think about how much freelance work you can do in one hour and how much you would charge for that. Personally, nobody should be charging less than minimum wage.

4. Look at various freelancing job sites

I always look at various job sites – you can see a few of those here. I’ve actually found most work via freelance sites. These tend to have a stigma of only advertising low paid jobs and there are employers who only want to pay very little. However, there are also many clients that are willing to pay good rates for quality work so dont dismiss these sites when you’re starting out.

5. Learn new skills

Learning new skills is always going to help in gaining employment. One of the main reasons that I use WordPress for this site is down to the fact that I see many clients that require experience of using the platform. I’ve also recently moved my lifestyle blog over to Squarespace as its a platform that seems to be gaining popularity with many businesses. I’ve also undertaken a few courses to help me improve my knowledge of marketing and social media. Free courses can really help in this area!

 

How to Sell Yourself as a Freelancer

How to sell yourself as a freelancer

When you’re a freelancer, you really need to sell yourself in order reap the rewards. Having a great portfolio helps too but knowing how to really sell yourself to potential clients can make the difference between getting that great job opportunity or going back to searching for projects. If you’re pitching a proposal or putting your CV forward, ask yourself these questions;

1. What are your strengths?

Think about the service that you’re selling. What is it you do well? What are your key areas of knowledge? For example, if you’re a freelance writer, what niches can you write for? do you have seo experience? can you write for varying audiences?

2. Show what you’re worth

There will be many people offering their services for less but what do you have that they don’t. It may be that you have a great standard of English, lots of experience, you’re good at researching, have qualifications in a particular field. Don’t be afraid to pitch for a higher rate than other clients if you can show what you can do!

3. Don’t mention what you can’t do

Forget mentioning what you can’t do to clients – concentrate on what you can do. If you need to mention to a client that you don’t have experience in a certain area, turn it into a positive, such as ‘my area of expertise is academic writing only’.

4. Offer a sample of your work

Always offer a sample of your work in a job proposal or pitch. It’s a good idea to create a portfolio of your work (I’ll have some steps to show you how you can easily achieve this next week). If you don’t have a portfolio, do you have links to work published online? Alternatively, can you upload a sample to include with your pitch?

5. Tailor yourself to the job

How can you tackle the job that’s on offer? Look at the job description and tailor your pitch to the specification. Mention why you can meet the skills required. For instance, if the job is writing a blog post then mention other blogs you’ve written for, the types of genres you’ve written for and any other details that makes you the right candidate for the job. This may include your experience of platforms, such as WordPress, the use social media or search engine optimisation.