So you’ve been to several knitting blogs and maybe thought to yourself “I want to do that.” With some very basic know-how and a little time and effort – you can!
I started my blog in July 2012 when I first started designing patterns for magazines. I just wanted a place where I could showcase my work and talk to other people who loved fiber arts. I imagined that eventually it could be a place for people who not only wanted to knit, but also wanted to design their own knitted items. I never dreamed it would blossom into what it has become! Thousands of people visit my site every month looking for free patterns and advice. I love working on my blog and hope you enjoy reading it.
Before we jump into how to start a knitting blog, take a minute to check out why you should start a knitting blog. I mean, many people wonder why designers are giving away their patterns, but with ad revenue, sponsorships, and pattern sales (most bloggers offer a downloadable option for a couple of bucks) – but when you know how much some people are making with their blogs, you will wonder why you haven’t started one! You don’t even have to be a designer – many people just blog about projects they are making from someone else’s pattern (sharing their WIP or finished projects) or share other’s free patterns by linking to their site.
So now that we’ve thought about the why‘s, let’s look at the how.
First Step: Choose a Blogging Platform
When I started out I had no idea how to create a blog. Sure, I had read blogs and enjoyed them, but I knew nothing about how they were run. I decided to go with blogger.com because it was easy, free, and super beginner-friendly. I was with blogger up until May 2016 when I decided to get serious about my blog and switched to a self-hosted WordPress site. There are a few options when deciding where to host your blog, so let’s look at each one in detail.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t actually own your blog on the free platforms Blogger or WordPress.com. I know of a couple of people who had their blogs deleted for no reason! This can’t happen with a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. While this can happen on the free platforms, it is unlikely and I had a Blogger blog for about 3 1/2 years with no problems. I chose to move my blog because I really wanted to do more with it than Blogger would allow.
Like I mentioned, I started out with a Blogger blog and so did a lot of my designer friends. In fact, some of them are still with Blogger and happy! There is no reason to shell out a bunch of money when you are starting a blog. You can do Blogger completely free. The biggest drawback to that is the .blogspot.com at the end if you don’t buy a domain name. (For example, mine would have been amandasaladin.blogspot.com if I wouldn’t have purchased amandasaladin.com).
Starting a blog on Blogger is easy:
Step One: Log into or create a google account.
Step Two: Go to Blogger.com and confirm your profile.
Step Three: At the top left, click “New Blog”.
Step Four: In the dialog box that appears, enter what you want your blog’s URL to be. (Like mine is designingcrochet.com)
Step Five: Choose a template and create blog.
If you would like more detailed information about setting up a blogger blog, check out the Blogger Getting Started Guide. It’s really easy to use Blogger. When you want to create a post there is a clearly labeled “New Post” button and the menu on the dashboard is easy to figure out, too. It clearly labels how to create pages, check your site stats (such as how many visitors you are receiving, where your traffic is coming from, etc). I would definitely recommend paying the $12-15 a year to own your own domain and skip the .blogspot.com at the end of your blog. It’s a small investment that makes your site look more professional, but it is definitely not a requirement! If you want to buy your domain through Google there is an option for that when you are setting up your blogger blog.
This is one that I don’t know much about but I have visited several wordpress.com blogs and generally like the way they look better than Blogger blogs. This also seems super easy to set up and is free. It has the same drawbacks as blogger, though, but it looks like a really great free platform. If you like the looks of wordpress blogs but aren’t ready to spend money on a site, I would probably go with this option. That way later on if you decide to switch to a self-hosted blog (more on that in a minute) it will be easier. Moving my Blogger blog wasn’t terribly hard, but it still took quite a while to learn what was going on and once I totally messed it up and had to start all over!
Here are some resources to set up a WordPress.com blog:
The main site has a link to “Get Started” and is easy to walk through.
WordPress.com also has a great resource to Set Up Your Blog in Five Steps.
A lot of blogging sites recommend jumping right in to a self-hosted wordpress.org site and you certainly can if you are serious about starting a blog and want to make money with it more easily. You are certainly limited on Blogger and WordPress.com when it comes to making money with your blog. I have been really glad that I made the switch to a self-hosted blog but I am really not sure if I would have wanted to invest when I was first starting out. You do get a free domain name, though, with the providers I’m recommending, which is great!
The reason this is called self-hosted is that you choose where you want to host your blog. I personally use Siteground and love it. Their customer service is excellent and there really isn’t any down time where your blog is offline. Other bloggers I know love and use Bluehost, which is also an excellent option. The two hosting companies are similar in price and options and both offer a FREE URL, which you would have to pay $12-15 a year for if you decide to do the free platform and add on a custom URL to avoid the .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. You can check out more about the two services by clicking on either of these links:
Either of these is a great option and you can see from the banners above that the price is really reasonable. I don’t have personal experience with Bluehost, but since so many other bloggers I know love and use them I thought it was only fair to mention them as an option for hosting.
Once you have set up hosting, you will be able to access the Control Panel (cPanel) and can download WordPress from there, choose a theme for your blog, and get going! It was a little bit of a learning curve for me, but there were great tutorials that helped me along the way. If you click one of the banners above it will take your to their site where it is easy to get started and check out the information before you commit. I researched a LOT before I made my decision, and I expect you will, too!
Advice for Choosing a Domain Name
Think about what you would like to call your blog, then see if that domain is available. My original blog was named “Designing Crochet” and was surprised to see it available – I thought for sure someone else would have already taken the name but they didn’t! I also started a knitting site (very slowly!) and decided to call it “Amanda Saladin Knits” and just merged the two in November 2016. I couldn’t think of a great blog name that combined knitting and crocheting. When I was at a workshop this summer a well-known designer was giving advice about what to call your blog/company. She asked “Do you want to be known for your name or your blog name?” I thought about that for a long time and decided to just use my own name since I already owned the domain.
Keep the domain name simple, don’t use any special characters (-!@), and if possible make it something easy to remember. (I’m sure knittingalongwithmarysue.com may sound great, but what about marysueknits.com?) Just keep playing around with it when you are deciding, and don’t worry – the hosting service will tell you if it is not available.
Wow, I know that is a lot of information to take in. Take some time to do research, check out other blogs and see which look you prefer, and just generally take the time to think about what you want to accomplish. Blogger and WordPress.com are great if you are going to do a hobby blog or are not willing to spend money until you see visitors to your site. When you get serious about blogging, most experts recommend going with the self-hosted blog, and I completely agree.
If you are interested in designing for magazines, check out this post I wrote about How I Became a Designer! 🙂