Galentine’s Gift Guide

Galentine’s Gift Guide

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Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

February is a wonderful month to celebrate the special loved one in your life, but let’s not miss a great opportunity to shower your girlfriends with gifts too. It’s not every day that you lady loves are lifted up & told how awesome they are or how acknowledge how hard they work.

This Galentine’s Gift Guide is for the women in your life who are hustlers, friends and all around bad a** females.

Girlfriend Gift Ideas for Entrepreneurship

Inspirational Framed Image

Desenio

Just like a daily mantra, the images we have on our walls speak volumes for personal growth. Desenio has TONS of unique posters with frames to help your female entrepreneurs decorate their home office.

Entreprenuerial Coffee Mug

Amazon Seller, DigiBuddha

Whether they sip caffeinated coffee or soothing tea, a fun mug makes the start to a day enjoyable for anyone. The best thing about this mug is its light feminine design matched with an inspirational phrase.

Professional Development Book

You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

If ever your galentine is in need of some personal development support these two books by Jen Sincero are a sure fire way to help.

Online Course

Udemy

What better way to show your friend that you love & support her than by gifting her a course she’s been eyeing lately. She’ll be able to grow her professional skill set, and you’ll be saving her some cost or hesitation from doing so on her own.

Coffee Shop Gift Card

Local Coffee Shops

Give your galentine the joyous gift of delicious lattes, matcha or teas by giving her a gift card to her favorite local cafe. She can treat herself to a yummy drink & get out of the house to work too.

Girlfriend Gift Ideas for Self-Care

Candles

SoCal Candle Co.

Ladies, let’s be honest, we all love a good mood setting candle. These handmade candles are from a business local to San Diego & they smell SO good (I speak from experience, as I’ve been burning their candles for over two years). My favorite scent is Solana Beach, but honestly any scent will pair well with your fempreneurs office or meditating space.

Five Minute Journal

Self Development Journal

Every successful entrepreneur or business owner believes that taking time EVERY day to focus one’s thoughts & ground their mindset is vital to their success. This Five Minute Journal is the perfect remedy for those who may need guidance for setting their daily intentions.

Diffuser & Essential Oils

Young Living

Just like a great candle, a stellar diffuser can set the mood for your galentine. With the right combination of essential oils a diffuser can not only set a mood, but impact your overall work & health.

*I suggest a cool mist diffuser after reading a book on Essential Oils called The Essential Oils Hormone Solution by Mariza Snyder.

Don’t forget to supply them with the best quality essential oils available. I love Young Living’s essential oils for many reasons, most importantly their value for sustainably sourced ingredients.

Natural Skincare

Credo Beauty

Being a lady boss is stressful and unfortunately for us it can easily show on skin. So, it’s important to have high quality, all natural skincare products. Why not treat your Galentine with some stellar items to treat her skin. It’s like a spa without the crazy spa price tag.

Organic Cotton Blanket

Whisper Organics

Organic cotton is not only a sustainable material but a super cozy material for any lady looking to lounge after a hard day’s work. Who knows maybe she’ll slip under it while burning her new gifted candle or diffuser too!

Cozy Joggers

Alo Yoga Moto Style

If your Galentine works from home she’ll love a new pair of sustainably made & cozy jogger pants from Alo Yoga. These are so comfortable and have fun detailing that can be worn for midday errands too.

Massage

Groupon

For any hardworking gal, a gift card for a massage is a favorite item to receive. What’s so great about Groupon is that it’s local businesses who are actively seeking new clients, so you’re supporting local while supporting your friend too!

Girlfriend Gift Ideas for Self-Care

Compression Packing Cubes

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek’s packing cubes are a lifesaver for any female traveler. They are great for gifting, especially if you want to go the extra mile & fill them with other small goodies for your friend(s).

Cute Travel Bag or Purse

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat make some of the most beautiful vegan leather bags. Treat your galentine to a quality made backpack that she can take on her next trip or adventure.

Read More: Sustainable Travel Backpacks any Millennial would be proud to wear

Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon.com

If your girlfriend is a frequent traveler, she may enjoy spending her evenings relaxing with her favorite binge-worthy show(s). Cue in the Amazon Fire Stick. This small device is great for any female traveler as she can plug it into any USB device and be connected to her Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO or other streaming service.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins

These noise cancelling headphones are great for female travelers. They can tune out the noise of a plane or a potentially noisy seat neighbor. Plus they are comfortable to wear for hours.

I hope this list helps you find the perfect gift your favorite galentine in your life!

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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12 Things I Learned Selling Beer

12 Things I Learned Selling Beer

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Many experiences in our lives turn into life lessons, if we allow them to. And who would’ve thought selling beer in San Diego would have so many lessons to impart.

After three years, I quit my corporate job in beverage sales. There were many reasons behind this decision of mine, of which I won’t bore you with, except that I chose to pursue what made me happy. And looking back on those years out at bars and sampling beers, I realized that it wasn’t all about the alcohol. Selling beer taught me some important lessons on self growth and professional development.

I can’t say the decision to quit was an easy one, nor was it the most responsible thing I’ve done, but looking back I’ve allowed those life lessons from my time in beverage sales to resonate into so many other aspects of my life. Lessons that I wouldn’t have learned had I stayed comfortably back at home in Pennsylvania or hadn’t challenged myself outside of my comfort zone.

So, with an elated heart here are

12 things I learned while selling beer:

1.) Question your daily basic principles frequently– don’t stick yourself in a rut

Consider what you will stand for & don’t allow others to convince you that you should act below a respectable level to hit a mark or sale. You will be left with an ‘icky’ feeling of having done something dishonorable, and it will come back to bite you in the toosh one day.

2.) You won’t get along with everyone, but you need to pretend to… and it’ll lead to you learning how to understand others

You won’t get along or even like every person that you come into contact with, but that doesn’t mean every person you interact with doesn’t deserve your utmost respect & manners. No matter age, race, religion or political beliefs, every individual has something to offer to the world, and being open to everyone will help you understand the motives of those around you.

3.) Goals are great, but don’t set huge ones you can never achieve.  Aspire, but realistically.

While this isn’t the most inspirational thing I learned, it was important for me. Don’t compare your own success to others. Just because someone was able to accomplish X in a short period of time, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do the same. There are variables in every situation, and you may have little to no understanding of the work it took for them him/her to get to where they are. You can use others success to motivate yourself, but focus on your own growth & goals.

4.) Hateful words said to you are often not said towards you, they are said due to someone else’s anger, distrust or lack of people skills.  Don’t worry what they think & don’t internalize criticism

This was a big one for me to accept. I’ve lost count of the times a bar manager yelled at me or call me something inappropriate to my face when all I did was greeted them with a ‘Good afternoon!’. At first I was heartbroken. I wasn’t used to someone not liking me or being such rudeness. But after taking the time to consider how to handle these situations I learned that when someone gives you sass or lashes out at you, it is not a direct correlation of you OR your work. It’s more often a reflection of a personal issue of their own showcasing itself outwardly to others.

I’m a sensitive person by nature. I’ve found myself crying after someone has yelled at me & I’ll brew over a single comment made by a friend or colleague for days until I resolve it with them. And I’ve learned that internalizing that criticism will only brew up anxious & negative feelings that won’t serve any purpose in your personal or work life.

Take those hurtful words or actions & let them runoff of you. Be your own water resistant self that deflects negativity.

5.) When you’re focused on delivering great value, rather than hitting a personal number you will be successful.  Change your perception from high numbers to high value & people will perceive you more positively.

Numbers are great ways to evaluate your progress, but they aren’t everything. People are fairly easy to read and when you are focused on numbers & not people or feelings it shows, and they’ll most likely show it right back to you. Focus on the quality of work you deliver and the numbers will follow.

6.) Keep going in the face of adversity.

Not everyone will like you. No matter how sweet or outgoing or polite you may be. Like the saying “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” (from Dita Von Teese). If someone doesn’t like you it doesn’t mean you should (a) avoid them or (b) not do your job. Power through the uncomfortable feelings of dislike and you’ll find even greater value in the feeling of surpassing adversity

7.) Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, it’s good for your growth.

Comfort zones are boundaries that are meant to be pushed, adjusted & expanded on. Talking to strangers, discussing things you know next to nothing about, or having to re-negotiate terms are uncomfortable things to do, but once you do it & find that the worse thing that can happen is not that bad, you’ll see how much more of the world is available to you.

8.) Don’t procrastinate.

If you think avoiding something will make it go away, it won’t. Bite the bullet & take care of the task(s) you’re avoiding. You’ll end up feeling much better getting it over with, and find time for more exciting and fun things to do.

9.) Embrace your failures & learn from them.

We aren’t perfect beings. We make mistakes. But it’s important to accept the mistake, take the blame if necessary and adapt. This will make you a better person, a better employee and be someone that others respect.

10.) Sales experience comes in many different forms.

Everyone is a salesperson. Just because you don’t have a direct job in sales, doesn’t mean you aren’t selling something. You may have to pitch ideas for date nights to your significant other, sell the idea of why you need that new gadget or next trip, justify to the clerk why the coupon should be accepted, and even see through the sales funnel of lack luster deals or products.

11.) Learn to define your priorities.

There are only 24 hours in the day. While eight of them should be slated for rest, three for eating, maybe one for working out and meditation/self development, that leaves about 12 hours left in your day. Now, I hope you aren’t working your job for 12 hours a day, so prioritize your time and tasks.

Learning to prioritize will help you get more done with less work, complete work that will move the needle for your work or business, and give you time to focus on what makes you happy.

12.) Focus on the big picture.

Ask yourself, what purpose does this serve? Is it worth my time? Will it move the needle?

These questions will help you prioritize and avoid procrastination (as I listed above), and will also help you understand what is worth your time. As I mentioned before, there are only 24 hours in a day. If what you’re doing right now isn’t part of your big picture of success, then re-evaluate where it should be (or shouldn’t be) in your life.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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Best Camera Gear for Travel Photography

Best Camera Gear for Travel Photography

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This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Choosing the perfect camera and lens for yourself can be challenging. There is so much information online on professional photography gear, and so many opinions from varying sources, it all becomes contradicting and confusing quickly.

But once you have your perfect photography gear kit you will be able to capture moments of your travels that you can look back on forever.

My love for photography started when I captured one window image on my first trip to Europe, in Rome, Italy. I ended up printing the alleyway image in black and white and still have it sitting prettily on my nightstand next to where I sleep. It’s a momento of the instant that I fell in love with exploring the world and with photography.

My journey to find my best camera gear had a bit of trial and error, and yours will too. Great quality gear is an investment, and like any investment it should be made with careful thought, research and practice.

Here are my tips for how to choose the right gear for your travel photos, and what to keep in mind when looking to purchase camera gear for travel photography.

Included in this post:

  • The basics to look for in professional camera gear for travel photography
  • My tried & true camera gear for my own travels
  • Importance & distinction between the camera body and camera lenses
  • Discussion of New vs Used camera gear

What to look for in a professional camera for travel photography

        When you begin your search for camera equipment for your travels you need to consider what you want to use it for and the types of photos you’ll be taking.

        For example, do you want to shoot large, lush landscapes or up close portrait shots, or a simple point & shoot image for your own scrapbooks?

For this post, I’ll be covering DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. These are high quality, expensive pieces of equipment rather than a more popular point & shoot camera you may have used in the past.

New to travel photography?

Check out this Superstar Photography course that I studied when I wanted to take photography more seriously.

       Just purchasing any camera based on an expensive price does not mean you’ll be getting the best camera. You need to understand what quality is in a camera body and a camera lens.

        These are two separate pieces for your camera gear. And any knowledgeable photographer will tell you that the lens is a much more important piece and much bigger investment.

You need to consider three main components of your camera body and lens pairing:

Lens quality

Shutter capability

Sensor quality

Camera & Lens Terms you’ll want to know when reading this:

LENS: your lenses are detachable from the camera body on any DSLR or mirrorless camera. A lens catches the light and feeds it through the shutter to the sensor.

SHUTTER: a shutter is an object that opens and closes on your camera, it’s the barrier between the lens and the sensor. On a DSLR or mirrorless camera, a shutter is one of two ways to control how much light is let into the camera lens through to the sensor.

SENSOR: a camera sensor is inside of the camera body, and impacts your camera’s image quality. The larger the sensor, the more sensitive to light it is, which typically means you’ll end up with better quality images. It also provides better depth of field and color quality.

Aperture: also called an F stop; seen in a lens description as f/#. The LOWER the number, the wider the lens opening can go, which means MORE light can be let it. Aperture is the second of two ways to control how much light is let into the camera sensor.

Focal Length: focal length is the zooms on the lens. Lenses are either fixed or can zoom, and will be seen in a lens description in mm

What to look for in a professional camera for travel photography

Here are all of the items that I bring with me on EVERY trip that I take:

Camera Body:

Sony aR 7 – the Sony Alpha series is a wonderful travel photography camera. It’s a mirrorless camera meaning that is uses only a sensor when shooting versus a DSLR’s mirror to sensor technique. This makes the Sony Alpha series so much lighter than a DSLR camera (however, you must be extremely careful changing lenses, and do NOT clean the mirror or sensor of a mirrorless camera on your own).

I’m in love with the way this camera shoots, the quality of the images it produces, the full-frame sensor and that it connects to wifi so you can easily transfer files. Plus it’s come in handy with video, which we’ve been testing the waters with.

Lenses:

Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 – a favorite among many professionals, this zoom lens is a great go-to travel lens due to its wide range of focal length and lower aperture capabilities.

Sony 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 FE OSS Interchangeable Standard Zoom Lens  – This kit zoom lens has been great for travel photos. It’s focal length has proven great for cityscape photos, and has an average aperture that is flexible with daylight images

Sony 16-35mm F/2.8 – another zoom lens, the 16-35mm lens is great for wide angle shots

*this lens is similar to the Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 lens, in both quality and price. I would suggest only purchasing one of these if you are budgeting- purchase based on the zoom depth; if you want to shoot images of further away objects, then you may want the 28-70mm lens.

Sony 85mm F1.8 Telephoto Fixed Prime Lens – By far one of my favorite camera toys to use, I love this telephoto lens. With a wonderfully low aperture of f/1.8, this lens shoots incredible portrait shots. It’s ability to focus and showcase soft bokeh in an image makes it a must use lens for my travels.

Go Pro Hero Action Camera – GoPro has become a household name and for good reason. Their compact action cameras are great for adventure travelers. We love using ours for underwater and hiking adventures.

Find all the best sustainable carry on essentials including the ones you find in this post HERE

Camera Accessories

Tripod this tripod is sturdy yet still lightweight, so it’s been easy to carry around during a day of walking

 Sony Remote – if you’re using a tripod and don’t want to have to run back and forth on a 10 second timer, then this remote will be your lifesaver.

 Portable Hard Drive – I always back up my images onto a hard drive after a day of traveling. That way I don’t have to worry about running out of space on my HD card for the following day.

 

Mophie Charger – some carry extra batteries, I carry an extra charger. When I see my battery is half used and I’ll be walking for a bit, I’ll plug in an extra charger to boost my battery up while I’m not shooting. Plus I can also use it for my cell phone- one item for two things!

 

Cushioned Camera Case – Unless you’re traveling with multiple lenses and cameras you won’t need to dedicate an entire bag to your gear. I use a cushioned case in my carry on backpack for my camera body and three lenses. This case is the best. It protects my camera gear and can easily be pulled out of your bag if you need to do so through airport security.

Go Pro Accessories – there is no shortage of the type of accessories a GoPro owner can utilize. We purchased an accessory pack, like the one linked here and have used almost all of the items during our travels.

 

All Day Camera Purse – this Lo & Sons bag, Siena, is one of the most used items I have. It easily fits my camera, two lenses and any other item I may need during a day of walking around.

Biggest pieces of advice when purchasing camera gear for travel photography:

  • Lenses are more important than the camera body
  • High-quality lenses will long outlive a camera body
  • Make sure the lens you purchase matches the mount style of the camera body
  • Focus on both your budget and your long term goals; cheaper isn’t better, and neither is spending a ton of money just for the sake of your Instagram account.
  • New vs Used Camera Gear: purchasing new vs used camera gear is a personal preference. I prefer new because I like to be the first person to capture something on a camera. But if you’re budget is lower than go used. Just be sure to check for a warranty, and if buying used on Amazon check who the seller is and look for ‘Certified Refurbished’
  • Unsure which lens to get? Try renting a few and practicing on them!
  • Do NOT attempt to clean your mirrorless camera’s sensor on your own. You can permanently damage your camera. In fact, you should be cautious when changing lenses that no sand, dust or anything else falls into the sensor area.
  • Camera brands will provide a ton of information about the equipment. Don’t equate more bullet points of ‘perks’ as a better camera. You can ignore the built-in flash capabilities and focal range of a camera body.

Do you have a camera questions or need someone to bounce ideas off of? Post your comments below and I’ll get back to you!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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How to Start a Successful Blog

How to Start a Successful Blog

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This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

You may have wanted to start a blog for some time now, but have felt unsure how to do so. If you’re at all like me, you may have ZERO technology know-how, so even the mention of ‘setting up your hosting service’ sounds confusing & overwhelming.

Luckily, I had a computer & data science guru at my side (thank you Marcus!) to help me out at the beginning of Blue Eyed Compass. And I’ll be honest, I was still super frustrated most days. It took a while for me to feel comfortable using the platforms, and building out Blue Eyed Compass. Which is why you’re able to read this post about setting up your blog and the basic fundamentals needed.

The blogging industry has grown significantly over the past few years and has become a 7 figure business for many. So release your hesitation & let’s get started!

This is a guide to get the basics set up for a successful blog, and includes some discounts for you as well!

Included in this post:

  • Process of setting up a blog
  • How to write content that people actually want to read
  • My best tools for blogging success (and ones you definitely don’t need)
  • Discounts!

Who is this girl & why should I trust her opinion?

This is something I almost always ask myself when I read someone’s posts about starting a blog. Why should I trust this person’s opinion? What authority do they have to suggest how to successfully create a blog?

SO many of those posts were confusing as heck to me way back when I started as a beginner. With that in mind, this post was created to be easy to understand and actionable for Y-O-U, no matter your skill level with technology.

Blue Eyed Compass officially went live in January 2018, but the idea for this travel blog started months before that. I was inspired by seeing other people be paid to travel the world and write about it, and I thought how hard could that be (actually lol’ing because it’s been much harder than I naively imagined).

Since those first thoughts of wanting to share about traveling, Blue Eyed Compass transformed from discussing how you can travel while working full time to a sustainable travel blog.

I’ve also helped create sites from scratch, have helped countless people with their SEO strategies and am a life-long learner, so I’m always trying to improve my skill set. I’ve also been sold sh*tty blogging courses, have been scammed, sold to and more. Follow the advice of someone who has tried it all and seen what works, what doesn’t and what you can wait to invest in.

Does this help answer that silly question from above?

Steps to setting up a successful blog:

1) Come up with a unique blog name

I suggest coming up with your blog name FIRST because you will need to make sure your domain name is available before continuing past this step.

Definitions

  • DOMAIN NAME: domain names are what’s used in the URL to identify and find a website. Example: my domain name is: BlueEyedCompass.com

 

  • URL: a URL is the online address of a website.

Example: https://blueeyedcompass.com is my URL. They come in many forms with http, https, www before the domain name and .com, .net, .co and many other possible “Top-Level Domains” (TLD) which you don’t need to worry about other than .com has the most authority on the web, so you’ll want to try to get that. If you really want to use a different top-level domain because your domain name is chosen in under .com, then .net is typically the next best.

While you are contemplating a blog name, you’ll want to keep this thought in mind:

How will you want to brand your site? Will it be your site or an informative news-like site (for example, Blue Eyed Compass is my personal brand, whereas Lonely Planet would be considered an informative site who shares travel information) Typically your blog will be your own personal site, but that will depend on if you want to eventually sell your blog.

How to come up with a creative blog name:

Write out words and/or phrases that you feel associate well with you and what you want your blog to be about. Eventually, a phrase will appear to you on your list. This is actually how I came up with the name Blue Eyed Compass

 

Make sure your blog name is easy to remember, easy to pronounce & not overdone by hundreds of others

Avoid words such as ‘backpacker’, ‘solo female’, vagabonder’, etc

While creating an easy to remember the name, be sure to toe the line with embracing your uniqueness. I’ve met many bloggers who have created unique spins on travel. Such as caretaker travel, hostel travel, bartender travel and of course my own, sustainable travel.

 

BLOGGING TIP- I would not choose your name as your blog name. If your blog becomes profitable (which is the hope!) and you want to sell it OR you want to change the topic of your blog, but you’re known in your industry for something else then you don’t want your name attached to it.

 

Check that your potential blog name is available. Meaning make sure no one else has paid for that domain name and it is available.

Type your potential blog name into a Google search and social media platforms

2) Register your domain name

www.YOURBLOGNAME.com

Now that you have your blog name picked out & checked that it’s available, you can register it so that you have ownership of the name.

There are a few options for where to purchase your domain name. I recommend using Name Cheap or BlueHost. Name Cheap doesn’t up-charge you for registration like other sites (such as GoDaddy). Name Cheap ACTUALLY is the cheapest. They’re also very easy to use, with no hidden fees, unlike many others.

BlueHost, on the other hand, is my recommendation for a hosting service that also can register your domain name *see the next step if you prefer to use BlueHost for both registering your domain name & as your hosting service

Domain name registrations need to be renewed annually, so mark it in your calendar when you need to renew your registration.

 

Fun fact- I heard that someone once saw that Google’s domain name was available and they purchased it before Google could renew their registration. Imagine Google not owning Google.com… don’t let that be you.

3) Choosing a Hosting Service

Definition

  • HOSTING SERVICE: a hosting service is an internet server hosting service that allows individuals and/or organizations build a website that will be made available to the public with a public IP address.

There are quite a few options when it comes to selecting a hosting service. As a beginner, I would recommend BlueHost. They are especially great if you don’t have a big budget for your blog starting out.

NOTE: it won’t matter to me which hosting company you choose. I’ve used Bluehost for awhile & recommend them highly, but if you’ve already purchased something else, that’s perfectly fine.

Click here for your hosting service discount. It’s ONLY $3.95/month. Instead of $7.99

You can always upgrade to a hosting company that supports a site with LOTS of content, like Digital Ocean, but I always recommend BlueHost and their basic plan to start (you can upgrade your BlueHost plan at any point as well).

 

Setting up your BlueHost service:

  • Click ‘Get Started’ button, and choose the plan you want

*You can purchase your domain name through BlueHost when you choose your plan, but you don’t have to. We’ve created websites doing both ways, so it’s totally up to you what you prefer to do. If you choose to go with Bluehost it may be easier for you to register your domain name (step 2) & set up your hosting services (step 3) all in one place.

 

  • BlueHost will ask you for some information to set up your account, as well as your domain name. If you already have a purchased domain name, just enter it in the ‘I already have a domain name’ section. If not, not a problem because your hosting plan comes with a FREE domain name for the first year. You’ll type your desired domain name in the ‘new domain’ box.
  • Fill out the profile information, finalize your plan selection and input your credit card information. Voila! You have the basics of your blog initiated!

TIP: You don’t need the additional services they automatically check for you. Go through and uncheck them all and save yourself some money. While they may seem desirable, it’s possible to have your blog rank high without paying for these extras.

 

TIP: there is one additional service that I’ve had recommended to me, which is domain privacy. This prevents you from receiving a ton of spam emails. Bluehost will keep your information private with this service.

What I like about BlueHost:

  • They have a reputation of a go-to hosting provider for starting a website & small businesses
  • The onboarding process is seamless. The tech jargon is simplified for you
  • BlueHost has a one-click install to WordPress (*I discuss the WordPress platform in the following step). This easy install is reason enough to use BlueHost.
  • On many hosts, installing WordPress involves difficult downloading, uploading, databases, blah, blah, blah nonsensical items for any tech newbie. Bottom line, having a one-click installation is a blessing.
  • BlueHost loads fast, which is very important, especially to Google and any visitor that comes to your site. No one wants to wait for a page to load.
  • They have excellent customer support. You can chat with knowledgeable & helpful people from BlueHost. Chat or phone, 24/7! If you’re new to blogging, you’ll most likely spend countless hours trying to fix technical issues. With BlueHost, they have your back.
  • There are NO hidden fees. I hate when I sign up for a service only to be surprised with additional fees. BlueHost never does this. You know exactly what you’re paying for.
  • You’ll have security & hack protection. Any site with BlueHost receives a FREE SSL & they utilize SiteLock, which automatically scans your website for malware.

Definition

  • SSL: SSL stands for secure sockets layer, and is a standard trusted security technology certificate. Essentially it shows your site visitors that their data is protected. This certificate is recognized by Google and Bing who considers it a BIG factor to rank higher on their search engines. It’s the ‘s’ in https.

First, click here to get this stellar deal on BlueHosts hosting services (before the discount goes away!)

4) Get your site set up on WordPress

I’ve tested out many platforms for creating a website – SquareSpace, Wix, WordPress – and I only recommend WordPress, especially for bloggers. It’s by far the easiest platform to create beautiful designs and has so many functionalities & plenty of support options.

You can start a blog for free on sites like Tumbler & Blogger, HOWEVER, like a social media profile, you will not truly own your own content. The free platforms will technically own it and are capable of shutting down at any moment. Then all of your hard work will be gone.

There are TWO options with WordPress :

Option 1: a self-hosted site (for example: BlueHost)

Option 2: WordPress managed to host (the URL will be YOURDOMAINNAME.wordpress.com).

Do NOT host through WordPress. Doing so means you are severely limiting what you can do on your site.

*You can either install WordPress on your own or use BlueHosts one-click install option

 

Setting up WordPress through BlueHost:

Since I’ve recommended using BlueHost as your hosting service I wanted to provide the directions for the one-click install here.

 

Once WordPress is installed you can select a theme. I suggest uploading a theme later, and I’ll explain why in the next steps. Once installed you’ll receive a confirmation email that your WordPress site is installed & ready to roll.

Definition

  • THEME: Theme is the term used on WordPress to describe the front-end style and layout of your blog site. Its purpose is to help you create the visual look and navigation of your site without you having to code anything on the backend.

*Create a STRONG password for your WordPress account & save it somewhere

STEP 4a) Install your SSL certificate through BlueHost:

Go to your cPanel & click on Security, then SSL and follow the prompts to have it set up via BlueHost. Remember, an SSL is what gives your URL the ‘s’ in ‘https’, and essentially shows Google that your site is secure. Without this, Google will penalize your site rankings.

5) Design your site on paper

Remember I said not to choose your WordPress theme right away? Just like it took time to come up with your perfect domain name, you should take the time to choose the best theme for your blog.

Come up with the page topics you want to be featured on your site, how you want it structured, what features you’d like it to have.

 

*Fact- 99 out of 100 new travel bloggers want an interactive map on their blog site right away… okay, so this stat is totally made up by me. And I’ll allow the fun to be poked at because I was one of those 99 people who wanted this. If you want a super cool, interactive feature right away, STOP trying to do it. Google does NOT care about your filtering features or your fun maps. Your goal should be to create solid content and start ranking on Google searches. As hard as it might be for you, let go of the floofy additives you want on your site for the time being.

Drawing out the look of your site ideas & then actually creating it is much easier than designing it online right away, especially if you are new to WordPress & web design.

TIP: aren’t sure what you want?

Look at other bloggers sites & screenshot things you like, such as: Fonts, categories, color schemes, site functionality

6) Research WordPress themes & install your choice

Accessing your WordPress Dashboard:

Go to http://www.YOURDOMAINNAME.com/wp-admin

(remember ‘yourdomainname’ is, of course, the domain name you purchased)

Enter your login details

 

If you completed step 5, then you’ll know what features to look for when selecting your theme, making the process that much easier for you. There are thousands of theme’s available, so knowing what you want will help you narrow down your search.

For my own site and for any web design client that I have, I use the Divi Theme. I’ve used other themes in the past (free and purchased) and I LOVE how Divi allows you to have complete control over your blog design.

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Install your theme in WordPress by:

  • Go to your Dashboard page
  • Select ‘Appearance’ on the left side column; ‘Themes’ will be the first option selected
  • Click ‘Add New’ at the top left of the page. Here you can search themes or upload a theme, such as the Divi theme

7) Install these top plugins

A plugin is an added resource for your site that easily adds support or substance to your site without having to code anything on the back end of your WordPress site.

Here are the top plugins I recommend installing to your site:

  • Akismet anti-spam
  • Child theme configurator; see step 7a for more details on this
  • Google Analytics for MonsterInsights
  • Relevanssi
  • Smush
  • Social Pug
  • Updraft Plus
  • WP Super Cache
  • WpDiscuz
  • Yoast SEO

7a) Child theme configurator 

You will want to use this plugin before you begin changing anything on your theme. A child theme is used to create a duplicate, “child”of your main theme, which will allow you to make changes to the child theme but still be able to make updates to the “parent” theme (the main theme you installed) without overwriting your changes to your child theme. Imagine the child theme is the top layer of a cake. You can decorate it however you want, and the lower layer of your cake stays the same, secure structure. 

A child theme is necessary for the purpose of updating your theme on a regular basis for security patches and other upgrades.

8) Build your site!

Now that your WordPress site is set up with your domain name and hosting service, you can design and publish on your blog! Design and build out your main pages, such as your home page and topic pages. Then start creating your blog posts!

But keep in mind, your site doesn’t need to be perfect before you publish your blog posts. I personally spent hours & hours trying to perfect the tiny details of my pages, when I should have been focusing on my blog post content.

9) Create your blog posts

Creating a high performing blog post is not as simple as writing down your musings and uploading them to your site. If you want to have a successful and profitable blog your posts need to be researched, well put together pieces of content that are educational and visually appealing.

Here is what I do for every blog post that I write:

  • Map out the ideas you have; I use Trello to put all of my ideas and organize. They have an app so you can always have a place to write down your ideas, even when on the go
  • Schedule when you want to write them; having a content schedule is key to your blog’s growth. Think about when you should be posting for something, how long it will take to reach your readers, how long it will take to create the content, etc.
  • Compare to competitors; research your competitors content. If someone has written a post on the same topic you want to write about, read through & see what they may be missing. Could you add more content, create an infographic for it, or a video?
  • Outline; just like you were taught in school, create an outline for your post. This helps to make sure your content flows well
  • Edit & optimize for SEO; SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s a beast of a tactic for blog growth. Essentially utilizing SEO tactics will help your content to be pushed to the top of the search engines pages. There are hundreds of ways that you can use SEO to help your content rank high, and it can be quite time-consuming. I’ve put together an SEO checklist for beginners that anyone can start using today.

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  • Upload your content & promote it online; once you upload your content you want to make sure that it looks good on mobile devices and then promote it on your social media channels. The best ones to utilize for bloggers are Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

10) Set up Google Analytics & Google Search Console

I put this as the last step because there isn’t much point to you setting these up until you have content for readers. No content, means there isn’t much for Google to rank you for. Focus on that content & then worry about the analytics.

Both Google Analytics & Google Search Console allow you to track your monthly analytics.

It’s good to see what content is driving visitor volume and/or what your viewers like to see/read.

To me, this process of installing both felt complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. Just follow these steps:

Google Analytics

Site visitor based data

  • Fill in your sites Name, scroll to the bottom and click ‘Next’
  • Fill in your website’s details
  • Once you’re done that, you’ll be given a tracking ID. This ID will need to be added to your WordPress site to link Google Analytics. You can add the tracking ID manually or use a WordPress plugin. I use MonsterInsights for Google Analytics. Simply copy & paste your Google Analytics tracking ID into the plugin and it will take you through the steps to verify the ID

Google Search Console

Content based data

  • Go to Google Search Console
  • Click ‘Start now’
  • Since you should already have a login with Google Analytics, use that same login for Google Search Console
  • Once signed in click ‘Add A Property’ button at the top
  • Enter the URL of your website, click continue
  • Copy the TXT record shown on the page & add it to your DNS (where you registered your domain name). You can follow this guide to help show you how to do this with BlueHost.

Definition

  • CRAWL: crawling a page means Google’s little bots scan & index your pages.

If you’re itching to see this data ASAP than you can submit an XML sitemap using the Yoast SEO plugin, which will automatically generate an XML sitemap for your content.

Definition

  • XML SITEMAP: essentially an XML sitemap is a directory of pages that you wish for search engine crawl bots to find & be aware of. When search engines are able to crawl your pages, then they can rank your site.

TIP– Don’t stress over the data too much, especially when you’re just starting out. Content is king when you first start out.

 

TIP– why do I mention Google so much? What about the other search engines? Google is responsible for the majority of all online searches. So they will have the most accurate data available for you.

To Recap:

1) Come up with a unique blog name

2) Register your domain

3) Choose a hosting service

4) Get your site set up on WordPress

4a) Install your SSL certificate

5) Design your site on paper

6) Research WordPress themes & install one

7) Install the top plugins

7a) Purpose of a child theme

8) Build your website

9) Create high-quality content

10) Set up Google Analytics & Google Search Console

Now you have all the basic steps to setting up your successful blog! If there are points that I missed or questions you have send them to me in the comments below. I’m always happy to help fellow bloggers.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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