I get asked OFTEN how I got started blogging. Back in 2005 my husband and I moved to Northern Ohio… 12 hours from my family and his… to serve at a church in a small town called Bellevue. Now while I wish I could say that adventure was filled with nothing but great memories, I will be honest in saying it was very hard for me… and not a time I look back on with the best of memories… although the memories we had with our students are bittersweet to think back on. I miss many of them still dearly… so thankful for facebook to keep up with them and watch them grow and begin to start families of their own.
While in Ohio though I was a NEW Mom. NEW Pastor’s Wife. NEW homemaker… and still very much a baby myself. I was only 21 years old when we moved there… and so starting a blog for me was my way of being able to stay in touch with my family and friends back home. It was an outlet for me to express my thoughts and share my woes… although at the time I thought I knew it all …. and regret A LOT of what I say. I was like pretty much any 21 year old and thought I had it all together and could do it all alone. So wrong haha… I have grown and learned a lot since then (now 10 years later).
While in Ohio my blog was through a company called Blogger. It is kind of the go-to I think for most new bloggers and for that time being it worked. So, if you plan to dabble in the world of “blogs” – try out blogger first. Its free… easy to use… and has some fun and easy options to make it your own. I know a few big name bloggers to this day who use blogger… so this post def. is not to bash blogger at all. :) The cool thing with blogger is that you can TRANSFER your entire blog to another provider when you feel it is time to take things to the next level.
For me, that came when I had my 2nd born son Taite (also in Ohio)… and once we moved back to NC, I decided to start my photography business. With that business came the adventure of learning how to market myself… build a website… build a brand… etc..etc… It was A LOT to learn but I am thankful for the ability to learn quick and some how manage to figure it out over time. It took a while though :) and I was thankful for tech savvy friendships along the way that helped me when I got stumped. Some of those tech savvy friends btw were bloggers as well. ;-)
When it came time to choose my business name… it was a toss up. I had debated using DREA WOOD, as my business name… it was catchy and to me easier for people to remember than Andrea Wood… however, I dreaded having to deal with checks written out to Drea Wood and my bank declining them because my name is really Andrea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I just needed to name my business after my real name and go with that. Still, when I started this journey I purchased the domain www.dreawood.com as well as www.andrea-wood.com, just incase I changed my mind. I wanted to guarantee both names stayed available for me. Once I figured out what business name I wanted to use for my photography, I then began setting up www.andrea-wood.com with all my photo jazz…. and eventually even made www.andrea-wood.com/blog, so that clients could view blog post for photography through my business site.
Because I had also purchased www.dreawood.com and ended up not needing it for my photography business, I figured, may as well transfer my “mommy blog” over to that domain, so that the $10 cost for the domain didn’t go to waste. So that is when my blog you are reading today became what it is now. It went from blogger to a self hosted wordpress site.
In other words. I paid for my hosting for my business… and business blog. I then used that same hosting to host my personal blog. Make sense? Hopefully it will begin to as you read below :)
To start a website OR a self hosted blog… the first step is to buy your web space… through a host. When I began my business I looked and looked for the cheapest possible deal I could find. I stumbled across a site that was called “SUPER GREEN HOSTING” at the time and was able to get my hosting so cheap! The way I got it really cheap though was a bit sneaky and totally by accident.
What I did was I went to their website (now called JUST HOST) – and began the sign up process for my website.
Here is what you will see when you go to their website:
Now when there I would click to sign up and it would then take me to this page:
Once on that page I then chose the domain I wanted. In my case it was www.dreawood.com. You may or may not be able to get the domain of your choice. It just depends on what the name is and how common that name is. Apparently there were no other dreawood’s in the world though and so my domain was available (yay!). So I typed in my domain and then went onto this page:
Once to this page you can select what payment plan you want. They will give you many options and you just choose what works best for you. I think when I started I selected the 2 year plan. OH and DO SELECT DOMAIN PRIVACY as an add on. (The Domain Privacy shields your personal address and phone number from being displayed to the public.)
Here is the secret to saving more though….
Go ahead and begin the check out process. Enter in your name… your address, your email, etc.etc… you may even can begin to add in your credit card info. However, DO NOT CHECK OUT just yet. Once you fill in your info in click next. Before you confirm ANY ORDER, go ahead and back out of the site by trying to leave… I know that sounds super weird, but do it. You will then be prompted with JUST HOST agent asking if you would like to save an additional percentage off your domain/hosting. Decline it and leave the website all together. Wait about 24 hours and they will then email you with a special coupon discount to apply to your order. Now I will say, it has been YEARS since I signed up to do this, so this may not be the case any more… but back when I signed up, this is exactly what happened for me and I ended up saving an additional 50% off my order!! I got my hosting so dirt cheap I couldn’t believe it.
Because I don’t know for sure if that will happen now or not, just try it and if it does, great, if it doesnt, their pricing is still among the cheapest I have found, ever. So its a good deal either way. Also they do have great customer service. I have been with them for many years now and have never had a problem.
Here are a few things you get with Just Host:
I know… lots of techie talk. Some of that may make sense, some may not.
So how do I use my professional photography site to host my personal blog?
I pay for my hosting. Every 2 years. It is a set rate and fee… Varies depending on the sale you get in on, so I cant quote a price, but lets just say its $100.00 a year for your hosting (that is on the high end btw). You then have your domain. So my domain is www.dreawood.com – IF I want to use my hosting account that I am paying for to host ANOTHER domain (aka website/blog), you can then add on additional domains. Some times they just give them to you free with your hosting, sometimes it cost an extra fee. The fee is minimal though, like $3.99-10.00 a year per domain.
So I pay my set hosting rate.
I got my domain with that.
I then added on an additional domain for my personal blog.
For my photo blog I was able to install wordpress to that at no extra cost and just direct it to the domain www.andrea-wood.com/blog.
I know… I know, ITS LIKE CHINESE YALL! Its so confusing for me to even type this out for you… I feel like I am making no sense… and truly you may not be able to make sense of any of this, until you actually try to start the process for yourself.
Once you set up your hosting account from the c-panel Just Host gives you, you can then turn your domain link into a SELF HOSTED wordpress blog. Here is what the screen would look like from the c-panel….
The host will take care of installing wordpress for you once you follow the steps it gives you on that page. It is very easy to do once in there… even though it looks a bit overwhelming on screen. Its not.
Once you install wordpress, it will then give you a log in screen to go to. From that screen you would then access your wordpress blog. So for me, my log in screen is www.dreawood.com/wp-admin – if your blog was www.mykidseatalotofcheese.com, your log in page for wordpress would be www.mykidseatalotofcheese.com/wp-admin. It will look like this once there:
Once in your wordpress account you can then post blogs… upload images… set up the “look” of the blog and so forth. That in and of itself does take time to get use too… but dont give up right away, it gets easier the longer you blog. Trust me…. there came a time when I hated wordpress and missed blogger. Blogger is WAY EASIER imo for newbies… so even for someone like me who catches on fast, there was a transitional time period where I had to get use to wordpress and learn my way around.
To those wanting to make your blog pretty… there are lots of FREE templates you can use on wordpress. You can even go to google and type in “Free Pretty WordPress Templates” – and tons will come up. For me, I wanted the ability to customize my layout easier than free templates offered… so I purchased my template through a company called HEADWAY. There is a link to their site on my side bar… or you can CLICK HERE to check them out. I love their templates and they are very easy to use and make your own.
Another great source btw to learn more about setting up a first time blog is this FREE EBOOK. I loved it and learned a lot from it.
Also for personal photo’s on my blog. I do use FLICKR instead of my webspace. The reason being is I like ordering snapfish photobooks yearly for my family. I try to print at least 1 a year from either a family vacation or the year kinda combined into one book. Flickr sync’s with snapfish’s website and their organizational options are amazing on flickr. I LOVE IT to much not to use it. I have been a FLICKR user since 2005! Great website and well worth the $25 a year I pay for unlimited storage space and uploads.
I hope some of this made sense…
Blogging is something I love to do… and while I do make some money with it now (many years later after starting), it for me, is more than just some income. I have met amazing people through my blog!
I have made friendships on it that as silly as this may sound, got me through some dark times. Some people I had never even met were able to encourage me in ways no one had ever done. I love the relationships its brought into my life and for that reason, I think it gave me the extra push to press on, even during harder times where the public criticized me and my family. While I know I made mistakes in areas of my blog over the years, some of the emails and remarks I got from people who read and disagree’d with my choices, broke me at times. I often didn’t feel it was worth the fuss… and there have been times I had to step away and take a break. To me that is okay and at times needed.
I get asked how I got a lot of readers.
Honestly. I have no idea.
I just wrote… used social media to promote here and there… and just stayed true to who I was.
If you do start a blog let me know in the comments!! I would love to follow you. I btw use FEEDLY to keep up with all my blogs I read. Love it!