Hey fellow DIY'ers! I hope you are having a great summer and that you are crossing a lot of projects off the list. Lately, I've been getting a number of emails from readers asking me how I created the blog to share my projects with the world. So, I am going to share with you what I did and would recommend if you want to get started and DO IT YOURSELF!
Why I started the DIY Blog
I've always loved to build things and tinker around out in the garage. If I don't know how to do something, I figure it out. When asked how I learned how to weld, plasma cut, or chainsaw carve my typical answer is watching Youtube videos and reading books. The hardest part is often just getting started. Once you get going you'll realize you really can figure out how to do just about anything. Small steps at a time will get you where you want to be.
I decided to use the blog as a platform because it is an established place friends, family, and fans can come in order to learn more about how to do new projects. I was getting so many comments from friends on Facebook and social media, but explaining the process was hard to do without a blog. Thus, PeteSveen.com was born!
A Quick Note about Learning New Skills – Ex: How I started Chainsaw Carving
I was at an Arts in the Park type show where a chainsaw carver was making and selling bears. I thought it looked neat so I went to Home Depot and bought my first chainsaw. It was an electric chainsaw that ran about $39.00. Since I didn't have easy access to logs at the time in Lincoln, Nebraska, I picked up a 2×12 at the store. The 2×12 was cut down into about 5 pieces and then I laminated it together so there was something to carve. After watching a few Youtube videos I carved the first bear with a welcome sign. It actually turned out looking like a bear and my mom and dad still use it to welcome people to their home. I kept practicing and eventually got a few Stihl chainsaws which work great. I learned everything on the fly and will be sharing a more detailed post about carving in the future. Here is my favorite quote —
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso
How to Start a Blog
The first step is to get set up with hosting and a domain. I found a really good company named Bluehost that provides all these services for me and it is right around $7 per month if you sign up for a year. If you sign up for 1 or 2 years the price drops to as low as $3.99. When you come up with your domain name idea ( mine is PeteSveen.com ) simply go to Bluehost to get started. Type in the domain you want, enter your contact info, and then move onto setting up your blog.
Now you'll want to integrate your blog or website with a blogging / website platform. Bluehost makes this a very easy process to tackle. Go into their C-panel and click on the add Wordpress or Weebly icons. I will explain the difference between Wordpress and Weebly shortly. A detailed video to walk you through the process of setting up hosting with Wordpress is posted below. You can set up Weebly using Bluehost as well, however; they do offer their own hosting service found by clicking here.
Wordpress –This platform is 100% free and is what I use for this site as well as www.thinkentrepreneurship.com. I think it is the most powerful platform out there and best for interacting with others. I linked Wordpress with hosting using the process I explain in the video below. Once you have wordpress setup you can search for free themes to make your site look great!
Weebly – Weebly is one of the simplest platforms to start a website and blog that I've found. My friend Jackie of the Budget Minded Traveler used Weebly for her site. While it doesn't have as many plugins and free addons as Wordpress, it does make creating a professional website right out of the box super easy. I also like how simple it is to make nice photo galleries which is why I've recommended building Weebly sites to quite a few artists and photographers. The Weebly platform does cost $8.99 / month (for the professional version – which I'd recommend at least eventually). Bluehost is compatible with Weebly, but Weebly does have their own hosting found by going to their site.
If you are looking more at selling some of your furniture, art, or products I'd highly recommend using a DIY shopping cart platform like Shopify or Big Commerce. I use the Big Commerce platform for my www.SignsOfTheMountains.com website and it has worked great. Both of the platforms I mentioned make it easy to get a store online in a matter of hours to a few days. No matter what cart you choose, there will be a few advantages and disadvantages for each. I'll explain what I've learned over the years from these two carts.
Big Commerce – This is a powerful platform and what I currently use. It has a lot of features, great customer service, and continuous upgrades. The pitfalls are they don't have a built in blog platform and it is harder to customize individual characteristics of the site (like colors and fonts). I pay $25.00 per month for Big Commerce.
Shopify – Shopify is a very solid and easy to use platform. I've tinkered around in the backend quite a bit and love how easy it is to use for a DIY'er. Customizing colors and the look of the site is very doable. They too have great service. Another advantage is Shopify has a built in Blog feature. This is very important to me and one reason I am considering making the switch. The downside of Shopify is that they charge a 1 to 2% transaction fee. This isn't huge, but it is a factor to look at. Shopify starts at about $29.00 per month and they have a free 14 day trial which you can use by clicking here.
Anyone can start a blog or website these days easily and affordably. If you are looking at creating a blog with limitless possibilities I'd recommend the free Wordpress platform that I use. It does have a higher learning curve then Weebly, but is the best blogging platform in my opinion. Use a hosting service like Bluehost to get the domain and hosting for a Wordpress site. For the other platforms you can use their integrated hosting services. Artists and photographers wanting the simplest way to create a professional site out of the box will like Weebly. Their built in blogging feature works well and they are a solid company. If you want to sell your DIY projects, look at going with a full fledged store platform. I'd recommend Shopify over Big Commerce because of it's ease of use, simple customizations for a DIY'er, and the integrated blog platform.
If you have any questions on what to do or how to get started let me know. By clicking on any of these affiliate links to get started you are helping support my blog and allowing me to focus more and more time on it. So thank you! – Cheers – Pete