“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth
Over the course of my life, I’ve embraced a number of different hobbies: baseball cards, video games, tennis, art, just to name a few. But none of them have changed my life or brought me as much satisfaction as blogging. In almost too many ways to count, it has changed me and the way I live my life.
In fact, so much so, it has become a hobby I regularly recommend to others. I started blogging as a personal tool to journal the changes we were making as we started becoming minimalists. But somewhere along the line, it became less about me writing the story and more about the story changing me.
And while there are many articles written about why you should blog to grow your business or become an expert or make a whole bunch of money—the best recommendations are still found in the personal realization that blogging changes you, the writer.
15 Thoughts on How Blogging Impacts Life
1. You’ll become a better writer. At its core, writing is communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and compelling others to agree with them. To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer, it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, or an anniversary card for your spouse.
2. You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them. Unfortunately, at this point, many will choose not to blog (or write at all) based on the faulty reasoning that they “have nothing to say.” But to that line of thinking I always respond the same way, maybe you just haven’t discovered yet what you have to say.
3. You’ll live a more intentional life. Once you start writing about your life and the thoughts that shape it, you’ll begin thinking more intentionally about who you are, who you are becoming, and whether you like what you see or not. And that just may be reason enough to get started.
4. You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things. By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most important thoughts. This process of choice helps you develop an eye for meaningful things. And remember that sometimes the most meaningful things appear in the most mundane—but you’ll see what I mean once you get started.
5. It’ll lead to healthier life habits. Blogging requires time, devotion, commitment, and discipline. And just to be clear, those are all good things to embrace – they will help you get the most out of your days and life. Since beginning to blog, I have become an early riser, a runner, and can now properly identify my favorite drink at Starbuck’s (Caramel Macchiato). And even if those three habits don’t personally appeal to you, blogging will provide opportunity for new life habits to emerge in yours.
6. You’ll meet new people. Whether it be through comments, e-mails, or social media, you may be surprised at how quickly you meet people on-line. And by meet people, I mean legitimately form relationships that seek to serve one another. The blogging community is friendly, encouraging, and genuinely cheering for you to succeed—the only thing missing is you.
7. You’ll make some money. You don’t need to make money to enjoy blogging. In fact, sometimes making money from your blog can actually start to distract you from the joy that you found in the first place. That being said, whether you make $20/year or $20,000/year, it’s still pretty nice to have a hobby that actually pays you back.
8. You’ll inspire others. Blogging not only changes your life, it also changes the life of the reader. And because blogs are free for the audience and open to the public, on many levels, it is an act of giving. It is a selfless act of service to invest your time, energy, and worldview into a piece of writing and then offer it free to anybody who wants to read it. Others will find inspiration in your writing… and that’s a wonderful feeling.
9. You’ll become more well-rounded in your mindset. After all, blogging is an exercise in give-and-take. One of the greatest differences between blogging and traditional publishing is the opportunity for readers to offer input. As the blog’s writer, you introduce a topic that you feel is significant and meaningful. You take time to lay out a subject in the minds of your readers and offer your thoughts on the topic. Then, the readers get to respond. And often times, their responses in the comment section challenge us to take a new, fresh look at the very topic we thought was so important in the first place.
10. It’s free. Your blog can begin today without spending a single penny now (or ever). I use WordPress and highly recommend it. With an initial investment of $0, why not give it a shot? Or for just a few dollars/month, you can use your very own domain name. I use and recommend Bluehost*. Scroll down a bit further for step-by-step instruction how to to start a blog.
11. You’ll become more comfortable being known. Blogging introduces yourself to the world. It causes you to articulate the life you live and the worldview behind the decisions that you make. Whether you have 1 reader or 10,000, the blogging process opens up your life to those on the outside. It is a good exercise in human-existence to be known by others. Over time, you’ll reveal more and more of yourself to the outside world… and you’ll be excited to find a world that relates to you and enjoys hearing your story.
12. It’ll serve as a personal journal. Blogging serves many of the same roles as keeping a journal. It trains us to be observant and gives weight to the personal growth that we are experiencing. It trains our minds to track life and articulate the changes we are experiencing. Your blog becomes a digital record of your life that is saved “in the cloud.” As a result, it can never be lost, stolen, or destroyed in a fire.
13. You’ll become more confident. Blogging will help you discover more confidence in your life. You will quickly realize that you do live an important life with a unique view and have something to offer others.
14. You’ll find a platform to recommend. We all love to recommend something we have found enjoyable or beneficial—whether it be a nice restaurant, a good book, or a new outlook on life. The fullness of joy is not experienced until we have shared that joy with others. A blog provides an opportunity to do that very thing. It provides a platform to share the joy we have experienced and recommend good things we have discovered to others.
15. It’s quite a rush with every positive comment. There’s a certain little rush that accompanies the immediate positive feedback that you receive every time a reader posts a comment, shares your writing on Facebook, or tweets it out to their Twitter followers. While walking the fine line between finding encouragement in that feedback and obsessing over it may take some time to get used to, it’s far better to find that line than to never seek it out in the first place.
Now that you understand the many benefits of starting a blog, it’s time to get into the specifics of how to do it.
Learning to blog well is a lifelong endeavor. But getting started is quite simple. It requires only a few minutes and a few dollars and I have broken the process into 7 simple, easy-to-understand parts.
How to Start a Blog in 2019 in 7 Simple Steps
You can learn how to create a blog just by following these steps:
- Choose a blog name and home. Keep it simple but descriptive.
- Customize your design. Choose a theme and customize your blog’s look.
- Gather necessary tools. Install a few necessary plugins.
- Define your success. Choose your definition of success and what your blog should accomplish.
- Be consistent. Sit down and write on a consistent schedule (doesn’t have to be every day).
- Connect with others. Set up social media profiles to reach your fans.
- Grow with your blog. As your blog grows, so should you.
Let’s dig into the details on how to start your own blog.
1. Choose a blog name and home.
A blog’s home consists of two parts: 1) a domain address and 2) a server.
A domain is your web address (www._______.com). And a server is the computer space you will buy to host your website and all its information.
Don’t worry about this. It’s easier than it sounds—and we’ll walk you through it. Bluehost, the server I use and recommend, has made this step affordable and user-friendly.
Your domain address is an important decision, but don’t get stuck overthinking it. It can be changed in the future if you’d like. But more importantly, whatever name you come up with first is usually the best place to start. Most websites will help you find alternatives if your first choice is already taken.
Using Bluehost for both domain registration and server hosting is the easiest option (the domain registration is free on Bluehost) and it is the server recommended by WordPress, the platform most used for blogging. Bluehost prices are reasonable. Their customer service is always available to help (email, chat, and telephone—I’ve used them all). And their 30-day money
The first step to starting your own blog is to visit Bluehost and register your own domain. Click the “Get Started Now” button and choose a plan. You can select the cheapest plan for $2.95/month (yup, your own website for less than $40/year). But I use the “Plus” package at $5.95/month. It costs a bit more—but it allows unlimited websites, unlimited email addresses, and unlimited website space. I’ve never regretted the few extra dollars.
There are other upgrades available and offered throughout the process, but I don’t think any of them are necessary.
After selecting and registering a domain, install WordPress on your new domain (WordPress is an easy-to-use platform for writing and publishing content).
Installing WordPress on your new domain is as easy as clicking the “Install WordPress” button from your Bluehost Control Panel. It really is as simple as this 3-minute video explains below.
Keep in mind that Bluehost is available 24 hours/day to help you with any questions if you have any problems. If you’ve always wanted a blog or website but were too intimidated to get started, please don’t be. It’s never been easier to get started.
2. Customize your design.
After registering a domain and installing WordPress, you can log into WordPress and begin blogging—literally, within minutes of reading this post.
Your blog will be loaded with a default theme. A “theme” is the design of your website—and WordPress offers hundreds of them for free. If you don’t love the preloaded theme, more free WordPress themes can be found through the “Appearance” link inside the WordPress Dashboard.
If you want even more customization, you can purchase a premium theme for WordPress. The price of these themes
As you do craft the look of your blog, keep the reader’s experience first and foremost in your mind. Make your text large enough to be read easily. Avoid white text on black backgrounds. Keep your content front and center. Limit distractions (ads, links, tabs, sidebars). Display your blog’s name and goals clearly. Write helpful words with your reader in mind. And include an “About Me” page with your picture—readers want to associate a face with the words.
You will probably want to include some images in your post. Flickr offers millions of searchable images under a Creative Commons license— free to use if you include proper attribution. You can also find free stock photos at Unsplash (this is where I found the image at the top of this article), Pexels, or even design your own using Canva.
3. Gather necessary tools.
One of the best features of WordPress is the variety of plugins created for the platform. Think of plugins as unique tools built to solve problems or offer opportunities.
Adding plugins to your WordPress site is, again, as easy as clicking an Install button. From inside the WordPress dashboard, the Plugins feature can be easily accessed from the menu on the left. Once inside the plugins area, click “add new” and search for the plugin you would like to install. Once you find it, click the “Install Now” button.
There are literally thousands of plugins to choose from. But for getting started, here are the only 4 you need:
- Akismet. Protects your blog from comment spam.
- Share Buttons by GetSocial. Adds Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest buttons.
- Google XML Sitemaps. Enables search engines to find your content (important for driving traffic).
- WP Super Cache. A plugin to help your content load faster.
You may also want to install Google Analytics on your webpage to better track statistics. You can blog without it, but it’ll be nice to see how many visitors are on your site in real-time and be able to look back to see what pages people are visiting (and how many visitors there are in general). Here is a brief video tutorial on how to setup Google Analytics:
4. Define your success.
People start blogs for any number of different reasons. Some people hope to make extra money, craft a new career, or create passive income. Others blog to distinguish themselves in their career field.
But not everybody has professional reasons. Some writers are simply looking for a creative outlet. Others are looking for an online journal, a place to express their thoughts, or just want to share baby pictures with their grandparents on the other side of world. Each of these are worthy goals.
Every blogger gets to choose their definition of success—and each blogger gets to act accordingly.
Your definition of success can always change. Becoming Minimalist was initially created as an online record of our journey into owning less. As a community began to be established, it became a place where I found encouragement and inspiration to keep going. Eventually, it became a website dedicated to the intentional promotion of minimalism. With each passing definition of success, my specific approach to blogging changed.
As you begin blogging, articulate your intended purpose in your own mind—because your definition of success should be based upon it.
5. Be consistent.
I have found many benefits to blogging. It has made me a better writer, a better thinker, and has motivated me to live a more intentional life. I would recommend it to anyone.
However, blogging can be difficult at times. At the very least, it requires the discipline to sit down and write on a consistent basis. I realize not everybody enjoys writing. And if you hate it, blogging is probably not the best creative outlet for you.
But even for those who do enjoy writing, blogging requires consistency. Growing a community requires you to remain present and engaged. Showing up on a regular basis does not mean you need to blog every day. But it does require you to show up consistently.
It is this consistency that forces many of the benefits listed above. You can only become a better writer if you sit down to write. And the best way to add intentionality in your life is to sit down and record the things you are observing.
Consistency benefits the community. But equally important, it benefits the writer. I stand as proof.
6. Connect with others.
Your writing has value and carries potential to influence and change lives.
It is important, therefore, to connect your writing with potential readers. If you are not on social media, I would encourage you to do so. Share your posts with your friends on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and elsewhere.
Each of the social media sites offers a unique approach to connecting with readers and utilizes a slightly different language. Become active on 1-2 of them and learn best how to use them. Here is how I use each.
Take time to find other bloggers who are producing similar content. Connect with them via Twitter or email introducing yourself and your goals. Include links on your site that help readers discover more people writing on similar topics. Links make the Internet work—and they are the best way to get noticed in a busy, noisy world.
If you want people to subscribe to your blog and receive posts via email, you will need to set that up. Most bloggers consider an email list the most important thing you can do online. Again,
7. Grow with your blog.
Your website will change. I know mine has. You will discover other writers and find new blogging strategies. You will find new tools and new opportunities to share your content. As your site begins to grow, you may choose to invest more time and money into it.
If your experience is anything like mine, these opportunities will come from any number of sources. Each stage of growth will arrive when you most need it.
But in the end, your blog will grow… and so will you. Get started right here.
*Note: I am an affiliate, which means they offer me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But this does not influence my recommendation. I have used Bluehost from the very beginning and continue to do so today.