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MaryEllen, Author at Imperfect Homemaker

All Posts by MaryEllen

How to Get the Best Deal on a Butcherbox Subscription

Last year I tried out Butcherbox, and while I was extremely happy with the quality of the meat (it's all grass fed and pasture raised meat) I wasn't sure if our budget could afford to continue the subscription.

However, since I was personally trying to stick to a Trim Healthy Mama plan and needed lean meat, I decided that I would keep my subscription just so I could get high quality chicken tenders for myself. Call me a snob, but I just can't bring myself to eat conventionally raised chicken on a regular basis. I do the majority of my shopping at Aldi, and the only decent meat they have available is their grass fed beef. I needed the chicken for THM so I decided to keep my Butcherbox subscription just for that even though it was an extra cost.

Fast forward about 6 months and what I've discovered is that it's much cheaper to buy from Butcherbox than I originally expected; it just takes a little bit of planning and strategy!

So without further adieu, here is the strategy I use to purchase all our Butcherbox meat for around $5/lb.  (Just for reference, the grass fed beef at my Aldi is $5.29  per pound, and I don't even have anywhere to purchase any other good meat, so it's been super nice to get all manner of meats for less than what I would pay for boring old ground beef.)

Here is my step by step strategy to get the best deal on a Butcherbox subscription.

1. I purchase the custom box for $149/month. This gets you the most meat for the money because you can choose which cuts
of meat you want in your box. (You get to choose 6 selections to go in your box.) Naturally, since we're trying to cut our costs down as low as possible, I choose the cuts which give me the most meat, which would be chicken tenders or breasts, or boneless pork butt.
This gets you between 18 and 21 pounds of meat – 18 if you buy all chicken, 21 if you buy all pork.
(Tip: if you buy the pork butt you'll want to slow cook it. The ones I have purchased have been a little bit tough, but slow cooking helps a lot. The chicken, however, has been amazing!)

You may be tempted to go with the offer of a bigger box which includes 18-26 pounds for $270, making the price per pound a little bit cheaper; however if you follow my strategy I can get you a better deal, so keep reading!

So far your total cost is somewhere between 7 and 8 dollars a pound, which is not horrible if you're a chicken snob like me, but we can do better!

2. If this is your first time subscribing, you can sign up through my referral link, which will either give you money off your first box or some free product, which will bring the price per pound down even more.

(Tip: if you're using the Chrome browser on a desktop, watch for a popup if it thinks you're going to leave the page. They may offer you an additional free product to keep you on the page.)

3. You'll be prompted to select add-on products, which may or may not be a good deal. You'll just have to look. I've been able to get sausage and chicken breasts for $6/lb. when I purchase them as an add-on which is pretty good.

4. For your first box, you'll have to be satisfied with the deal you just got. Between the free products or referral credit you get when you go through my link, and any good prices you found in the add-ons section, you should have gotten a decent deal.

Now, once you've got your account set up and you've paid for your first box, we're going to get you some even better deals for your next box. Ready? Keep reading!

5. Set your subscription time to the max allowed between boxes which is 8 weeks.

6. Now, this is where the real magic happens! While you're waiting for your next box to arrive, you'll want to keep logging in to your account to check for sales. I set reminders in my calendar to check once a week or so.

butcherbox deals
They might have a featured deal like the one pictured, but you should also click on the “deals” page to check for more. This is what it looks like at the time of writing this blog post.

7. When you see a deal that you like, go ahead and add it to your cart. You can add multiples of the same deal to your cart. It's kind of like going to the grocery store and finding something on clearance. I don't know about you, but I buy as many as I can as long as I have space in my freezer. Spending extra now will save me a heap of money later.

8. After you add your deals to your cart, they will stay in your cart until your next box is billed, even if the deals are no longer showing as available when your box bills. That is why it is so advantageous to check in often and add things to your cart right away.

 

9. When you add specials to your cart, it is helpful to write down exactly what the special was for and the price per pound. (I just write this right onto my calendar where I have the next billing date recorded.) You won't be able to see the exact prices of any special deals once they're in your cart, so when you're looking for new deals in the future, you won't know if what you already have in your cart is cheaper or if another deal is cheaper.

Do not delete any of the specials from your cart unless you are 100% certain you do not want them. If you delete them and they are not available on the deals page anymore, there will be no way to put them back into your cart.

10. Keeping your subscription set to 8 weeks between billing periods gives you a good amount of time to watch for deals. However, my experience has been that I find enough hot deals during that time to last our family even more than 8 weeks. If you don't yet need another box and your billing date is approaching, you can go in and delay your shipment until whatever date you choose. Click on “Update” where it shows your next billing date and then choose your new date.

 

11. This will give you even more time to check for sales before your next box bills too.  I just continue to delay my box indefinitely until my freezer tells me it's time to restock. Then I look at my list of deals and double check that I've got all the best prices in my cart and select a billing/shipping date that works for me.

Some weeks the deals will be better than others, for instance if there are holidays they might have some really good specials. Just keep checking and adding anything you think you might want each week. You can always delete the higher priced things later if you find something even cheaper.

12. In the mean time, while I'm waiting for weeks, usually 3-4 months, I set aside extra cash from my grocery budget each month so that when I purchase a big bulk order I will have something to pay for it with.

My most recent order was $380. By the time I juggled the sales around in my cart, I ended up paying a little less than $5 per pound for all of this meat.

Now, I must say that I go for cheaper cuts of meat in order to be as economical as possible. If I were adding filet mignon to  my cart every time I obviously wouldn't be able to get my order that low of a price per pound. However, I'm very satisfied with the variety of meats that I'm able to keep in my freezer for my family. We eat ground beef, boneless chicken, bone-in chicken (which gives me broth as well,) pork roasts, bacon, sausage, and turkey.

Between our Butcherbox subscription and my Misfits Market subscription, I always have high-quality meat and produce in the house, which makes up the bulk of my grocery list each week. We're eating lots of protein and vegetables rather than empty carbs, and we all feel more clear headed and energetic when that's the biggest part of our diet. In spite of being a “food snob”, and only purchasing organic produce and high-quality, pasture raised meat, we are able to keep our food costs to $700 per month or less, including toiletries and household items.

I love keeping my freezer full, which saves me trips to the store, and makes it easy for me to always be able to find something to prepare a meal for my family.


If you'd like to try a Butcherbox subscription, you can use this link to get the referral credit and current sign-up offer, then follow the steps I've outlined above to continue getting the best possible price on high quality meat!

10 Boundaries You Can Set to Stop Wasting Time on Social Media

By far, one of the biggest time wasters for me can be my phone, most specifically social media. Once you get on it, you can keep scrolling until the end of time and never run out of interesting things to look at.

Sometimes you can hop on with the best intentions (“I just need to look something up”; “Just a quick scroll to see how my friends are doing”; etc.) and find yourself still scrolling an hour later.

Usually the result is that you feel guilty for wasting time, and frustrated because you were so determined not to fall down the black hole again, yet you did anyway.

How does this happen?

While I won't go into all the technical details, it is proven science that social media apps take advantage of the same process in your brain that creates any other addiction. This is done intentionally because these platforms rely on advertising; therefore it is part of their business strategy to keep you on their platform as often and as long as possible. Negative feelings on social media actually contribute to the addiction as your brain builds up anticipation for the next positive feeling that will hit.

It's not that you have no self-discipline when you open up social media; it's that your brain is doing exactly what it is wired to do, and that is to stay mesmerized, continuously scrolling in anticipation of the next dopamine hit.

Depending on your genetics, your nutrition, and several other factors, this process will take place in some people's brains more quickly than in others.
So what can you do when you want to use your smartphone for good things but you keep getting sucked into wasting a bunch of time?

You can set boundaries for yourself that allow you to stay connected to your friends and family without enabling you to become entranced in an endless scroll.

Here are a 10 ideas for boundaries that you can set for yourself on social media:

1. Practice mindfulness
Fully engage your brain. Don't use your phone as a way to mindlessly escape from the pressures of the day. I get it. When you feel tired or stressed, you just want to check out for a few minutes watching some cute cat videos. But using these apps mindlessly is the quickest way to get sucked in and lose track of time.

2. Follow with intention
When your feed is cluttered with all manner of shiny things, it only contributes to the tendency your brain has to be anticipating that next dopamine hit. But when the people and pages you're following are on your feed for a specific reason, it's easier to keep your brain engaged.
Ask yourself:
-Am I learning anything or being encouraged to grow as a person by what this person shares?
-Are the updates I receive from this person truly helping me keep up with how they're doing or do they only share dorky memes?
-Am I angered or irritated by the things this person shares?

Unfollow anything that is not helping you grow as a person or keep in touch with the people you care about. Unfollow things that make you feel irritated and angry. Unfollow things that are simply shiny “fluff”.

3. Move apps from your phone's home page
Sometimes it just becomes a habit to open up your apps, even when you have no particular reason to. Moving them to a more obscure location on your phone will cause you to put in a little more effort to open them and hopefully think a little harder about why you're opening them.

4. Turn off social media notifications
Seeing those little numbers beside your icons or feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket is a trigger for you to immediately open up your app. There is no mindfulness involved which is a dangerous place for your brain when you're on an app specifically designed to suck you into its content.

5. Leave your phone off your body
Having your phone in your pocket can get you into the habit of mindlessly pulling it out all the time.

6. Replace checking your phone with a different action
Every time you pull out your phone and start to mindlessly open an app, start replacing it with a different action. Do a few squats, write a few lines in your journal, or read a chapter of a book.

7. Go on a social media fast
Choose a day, weekend, or week and go completely screen free except for necessary phone calls or texts. This will give your brain a chance to reset from mindless habits.

8. Use an app to restrict your social media usage to certain times of day
I use the AntiSocial app  on my Android. I'm sure there are similar apps for iPhone. It gives me a lot of options for choosing which apps to restrict and when to restrict them. I asked my husband to set the password for the restrictions so that I can't cheat and log myself back in.

9. Give yourself permission to use social media at the right times
Don't view social media as the forbidden fruit, which only draws you to it more strongly. View it as the valuable tool that it is, and use it with intention. Using an app to restrict my usage has helped me be much more mindful and intentional when I do get on. I know that I only have a certain amount of time, so I'm careful to prioritize looking at and commenting on the content that is truly important for me to see.

10. Remove apps from your phone
If necessary, remove the temptation completely by getting rid of your apps altogether. If you do this, you might want to ask someone else to set a password on your phone for adding and deleting apps so that you won't be able to download them again.

There is no reason to feel guilty about using social media. It can be a very valuable, worthwhile thing when used with intention. I hope these boundaries will help you use your time wisely!

Social media isn't the only aspect of online life that can eat our time away. The good news is that with intention, there is a whole lot we can do to ensure we are accomplishing more with our time.

If you're tired of ending each day frustrated because you just can't seem to “get it all done”, then use the box below to sign up for a free 5 day email course, Time Management for the Busy Homemaker.

My Word for 2020

I've known for a couple months now what my focus word for 2020 would be, and I've already been putting it into practice.

 

The word the Lord has laid on my heart is: FINISH

 

Here are just a few of the reasons behind that choice:

1. I need to finish what I've started, even when I have setbacks that discourage me.

Living with chronic illness means that I never know what kind of day I'll have. I can have the most amazing day, and then out of the blue I will completely crash.
Every time I crash, I completely lose any momentum on whatever projects I've been doing. All I can do is sleep and wait. I wait because I know that more good days are always right around the corner. But when I am ready to get back out of bed and get back to work I have to start all over. It can be discouraging to try to accomplish something only to be completely derailed before I can complete it. I start things with a lot of excitement, but then lose my passion when I am interrupted by bad days. Not only do I lose the time I spend in bed, but I lose additional time catching up on backed up laundry, dishes, etc. and it might be a couple more days before I have regained the ground I lost. Doing this over and over for years on end can be discouraging, but I have allowed that to make me give up too easily. When I'm feeling well and I get the itch for another project, I start something fresh instead of finishing what I've already started. The thought of finding my place and getting in that groove all over again feels daunting, so I ignore it and start something new instead.
The result is that I have thousands of words written that have never been formatted and published. I have products that are nearly finished but are not serving anyone because they are languishing in files on my computer. I have all manner of things that could bless others that are not doing so because I have not found the gumption to dig back into them, figure out where I am, and finish them!

It's pretty obvious that the word “FINISH” in this instance means for me to literally finish the projects I have started before I begin new ones!

 

 

2. I need to be consistent in my everyday tasks instead of giving up when I run into obstacles.

 

Another related thing I have struggled with is consistency in many areas of my life. Again, gaining momentum on new habits only to be derailed over and over again can be very discouraging. It feels easier to give up altogether than to start over time after time.

But I finally realized that it's not starting over. It is being consistent to jump right back in and continue when I'm able to. It is good to make a habit of going right back to my baseline any day that I can.

So the word “FINISH” is basically a reminder that says, “Don't give up!”

 

3. I need to move my body in healthy ways.

Another area that I want to be better at is exercising, getting outside every day, and just giving my body some gentle movement every day. Without going into too much detail or making excuses, I do have a condition that will make me completely crash if I exercise too much. But I do need to give my body gentle movement, and get fresh air and sunshine.

In this case, the word “FINISH” reminds me of the finish line of a race. I will definitely not make it to the finish line if I do not get up and move!

 

4.  I want to be faithful to the Lord, no matter my circumstances.

Paul said in II Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

So the word “FINISH” is just a daily reminder to keep walking with the Lord day after day. In the big things, in the little things, when it's difficult, and when it's easy, I just want to keep being faithful to the Lord.

 

I'm thankful for the Lord's strength on the hard days. I'm thankful he has directed me to resources that have improved my health greatly over the past couple years. I'm thankful that one day we will all receive new bodies. I'm thankful that in general I have more energy that I had 10 years ago. I'm thankful that when I get hit with bad days they have been passing more quickly than they used to. But that means I need to learn new life strategies. I'm hoping the survival years are behind me (only the Lord knows for sure what is in store for me.) But for now it is time to put my survival strategies behind me and learn new strategies that will help me to FINISH what the Lord wants me to accomplish with my life.

 

One project I did finish within the past couple months is a brand new workbook where I'm sharing simple strategies to help you overcome the frustrations in your day. It's called 7 Days to Calm.

Inside you'll learn how to create routines that work for you, and you'll also learn how to stick with your routines.

This workbook launches in February, so be sure to use the box below to subscribe to updates so I can notify you!

 

Misfits Market Review: My Honest, Unsponsored Opinion

For a while now, I’ve seen various bloggers mentioning produce box delivery services, and I was quite intrigued about the idea of ordering organic vegetables online.  The only problem was that these imperfect produce boxes were never available in my area. One day I ran across some information about Misfits Market, and on a whim I decided to check the availability. Lo and behold, they were available in a quite a large market, including my state.
Of course the next thing I looked at was the pricing, and I was honestly a little shocked at how affordable it was to buy organic vegetables online from Misfits Market! We are not a family who can afford luxuries, so when I realized that a Misfits Market subscription was something that could fit into our tight budget, I was quite excited!

What is Misfits Market?

Misfits Market is a produce box delivery service. They rescue imperfect produce from small farms that would otherwise go to waste since grocery stores only want “perfect” food. They sell these ugly fruits and vegetables to people like you and me who don’t mind an onion that’s too big or a potato that’s too small. I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen too many truly ugly fruits or vegetables come in my boxes. The produce I receive in my box is always fresh and looks pretty normal to me. However, if it has marks from sitting on the ground or some such imperfection, it is considered imperfect produce and can’t be sold in the grocery store. Personally, I prefer the real stuff that doesn’t look like it was engineered in a lab!

How Much Does a Subscription Cost?

Misfits Market has two sizes of boxes available. This Mischief box costs $22 for 10-13 pounds of organic produce. The Madness box is $35 and contains 18-22 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables.

You can set your account up to have produce boxes delivered either once a week or once every two weeks.

We have 2 adults and five children in our family, and we get the larger sized box every week. Our produce delivery is a large part of our weekly groceries, and it’s just about the perfect amount for our size family for a week.

My mom, on the other hand, gets a small box delivered once every two weeks for her and my dad.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for a discount on your first box.)

A typical lunch made with my Misfits Market produce.

What Comes in a Box?

Throughout this review of Misfits Market, I’m including photos of our past produce delivery boxes so you can see what they typically include. We have been subscribed for 10 or 11 weeks now and have been super happy with every single box.

Is a Subscription Worth the Cost?

I suppose the only way to know if a Misfits Market subscription is worth the cost is to look at some real numbers. Let’s take a random box of mine and break down the numbers. I'll just post the next picture in my file so I'm not intentionally the best value; it's just totally random.

How much would I pay for these items at the store? I'm having to sort of eyeball some of this, but I'll give it my best shot.

Pears: I would pay approximately $3 for a bag of pears this size at Aldi. This would be for non-organic pears, while the Misfits Market pears are organic.

Salad Greens: Since I typically purchase organic greens, I pay about $4 for a week's worth.

Chili Peppers: I would expect to pay around $2/lb. for non-organic chili peppers at the store, so roughly $1 for these two peppers.

Eggplant: approximately $1.49/lb. for non-organic at the store, so roughly $3.50 for these two.

Broccoli:  It would cost me around $3 for a package of organic broccoli at the store.

Bok Choy: Approximately $1.69/lb. for non-organic at the store, so roughly $2 for these two.

Pomegranates: These have been $1.50 each at Aldi, which is about the cheapest I can find them. So $6 for these 4.

Apples: I would pay around $3.50 for this many organic apples at the store.

Turnips: This is roughly a pound of turnips which would cost around $1.69 at the store for non-organic.

Celery: I pay about $1.25 for a pack of non-organic celery at the store, so $2.50 for these 2 bunches.

Onions: This is around a pound of white onions, so about $1.69 for non-organic at the store.

Lemons: Four lemons is approximately one pound, so somewhere around $1 for the lemons.

Red potatoes: Organic red potatoes are pretty pricey; a bag this size would cost me around $3 at Aldi.

Green Onions: I would pay about $1.50 for non-organic green onions at the store.

Grocery store total: Roughly $37.38
Misfits markets total: $35 (plus $4.50 shipping, so $39.50 total)

As you can see, I paid a very similar amount to what I would pay for this food at the grocery store. However, most of what I purchase at the grocery store is not organic, and all of the produce from Misfits Market is organic.

Additionally, the produce I receive from Misfits Market has almost always been more flavorful and deeper colored (more nutrition!) than what I can find in the grocery.

There may not be any significant cost savings over buying my produce from the grocery store, but I am paying roughly the same amount and getting what I feel is better quality food.

One week I just cut up all the produce into a huge bowl, divided it into freezer bags, and froze it. When I need a quick dinner, I dump a bag of veggies and a carton of broth into my Instant Pot for a healthy, easy dinner!

How Hard is it to Cancel a Subscription?

Any time I sign up for something new, it’s comforting to know that I can back out easily if I change my mind. I’ve been incredibly happy with my subscription, but I like knowing that if I ever need to cancel for any reason, it’s a simple process. Some companies try to make cancelling their services impossible, but Misfits Market makes it so easy!

There is literally one button on your account that you click to cancel your subscription. Or if you do not want to cancel entirely but just need to take a break, you can pause your subscription with one click.

If you’re going out of town for the week, simply click “Skip delivery” for the week you want to skip. We have a trip planned out a number of weeks away, and I was already able to select to have that week skipped.

Their account management is one of the easiest I’ve used among all the various online accounts I have.

 

Big buttons that you can't miss!

Is the Food Organic?

Yes, all of the fruit and vegetables in a Misfits Market imperfect produce delivery box are organic and non-GMO.

Where Does Misfits Market Deliver?

Currently their delivery area includes all zip codes in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Ohio, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Tennessee orders are opening now, and they are regularly adding new states! Sign up for their wait list if they do not yet deliver to your state.

Does the Food Stay Fresh During Delivery?

The produce is delivered in insulated boxes with ice packs, and I have not personally had any problems with the food going bad during delivery. I live several states away from their shipping location, so I think that most people should have no problem. I haven’t had to deal with their customer service but have spoken with friends who had a very easy time getting some items replaced that had gone bad.

Additional thoughts:

Along with being an affordable way for me to keep organic produce in the house for my family, I'm also really enjoying being surprised each week! I have a personality that gets bored easily, so I love not knowing what produce we're going to have each week until we get our box. (I realize that depending on your personality, that could actually be a downside, but I personally love it.) When we get something we don't particularly care for (like eggplant) I enjoy the challenge of finding a recipe that will knock my family out of the park and surprise their taste buds. But when all else fails, I just chop up weird vegetables and throw them into a pot of soup. When it's mixed with all the other soup ingredients, no one can ever tell it's in there.

Also, we have been eating more fruits and vegetables now that they show up on our doorstep every week. It's something I know I ought to do, but then I chicken out at the grocery store because I don't want to buy too much and waste it. But when it shows up at my door, then we have to eat it, and it's been a great thing for our nutrition.

Also, I have found that even though we now have the privilege of eating nearly 100% organic produce, we are actually spending less on groceries each week. Because our Misfits Market produce and the meat I purchase online from ButcherBox comprise the bulk of our groceries, I don't have to go the grocery store very often. The less I go, the less I spend! For a family of 7, we spend less than $700 each month on all our groceries, toiletries, and household items, while using nearly all organic and all-natural products.

Misfits Market Coupon Code

Use the following coupon code at checkout for a discount on your first Misfits Market produce box: COOKWME-GR9QPE

Remember, it's very easy to cancel, so if you want to just try out a box to see how you like it, you can totally do that.

Visit Misfits Market here, select which box you'd like, and paste the coupon code in when you check out.

COOKWME-GR9QPE

The Morning Routine for Kids that Changed Our Days

One of the things I love about homeschooling is that our mornings feel so free and relaxed. We don't have to race to get everyone packed up and out the door for school. We can wake up slowly and enjoy our mornings together. But before I had a good morning routine for the kids, our slow and relaxed mornings could easily turn into “Not getting our homeschool day started till noon.” I don't want that! That gives everyone less time to play in the afternoon, pushes back dinner time, pushes back bed time, which means it's easier to sleep later in the morning and start the same cycle all over again.

 

 

When we all get up and going earlier, we have time to accomplish more, and spend more quality time together!

 

But just waking everyone up early is not enough. Before I implemented a morning routine for them, my kids would get up, wander around in their pajamas, eat something, make a mess that they didn't clean up, lay in their bed reading a book, and then when I was ready to start school for the day, I'd look around and realize that we had an hour's worth of cleaning to do because they had things strewn everywhere from their “relaxed and slow morning!”

It was stressing me out big time, and keeping us behind on everything all the time.

The thing is…kids are kids. They have to be taught. It's not enough to wake them up and tell them to get ready for the day. They need clear direction.

So I set out to make a morning routine for them that was so simple, they couldn't possibly neglect it without being outright purposely disobedient.

It was three things:

 

  1. Get Dressed.
  2. Read your Bible.
  3. Tidy your room.

 

Three things. Anyone can remember that, and it's not overwhelming at all. In fact, I adopted the exact same morning routine for myself because who doesn't want life to be simple?

I created a little chart and hung it in each of the kids' rooms so that they would have no excuse in the mornings to be wandering around, taking forever to get ready for the school day.

I also created a room cleaning checklist so they would know my definition of the phrase “tidy your room.”

I have them independently do those three things, then I prepare breakfast for everyone, and after breakfast we complete the rest of our “morning things” together as a family (cleaning up our breakfast dishes, brushing our teeth, fixing our hair, etc.)

This way, the kids are learning some independence and becoming more skilled at preparing themselves for the day without my help, but it's not so much that's it's overwhelming to them where they shut down and do nothing.

 

I can't begin to tell you what a difference this simple change has made for our mornings! The kids know exactly what they need to do without feeling overwhelmed. When our morning gets off to a smooth start, our whole day goes better!

 

Would you like to use our morning routine and room cleaning charts for your own family? (There is a whole set that matches the one shown above.) Imperfect Homemaker email subscribers have access to these charts (and many other homemaking printables!) for free!

When you subscribe, your first email will contain the password to the library of free printables.

 

 

How to Start a Blog

If you want to make money blogging, you will need to have a blog!

I know how overwhelming it feels when you are first starting out, so I’ve created this step-by-step guide to setting up your own blog.

Just follow each step exactly as it’s written, and you will be blogging on your very own website in no time!  (Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links)

1. Choose your blog topic.

Some questions you will want to ask yourself as you choose your topic:

  • Do I know a lot about this topic?
  • Do I enjoy this topic — enough that I could write about it on a regular basis?

 

2. Choose your blog’s name.

Make sure that the name you choose for your blog is something people can easily remember.  If you blog about home decor, you don’t want to name your blog Musings of a Mom.  Make your blog’s name reflect something about home decor.

You’ll also need to check to see whether the domain name you want is available.  Your domain name is sort of like your blog’s address.  It’s where people will find you on the web.

Some other things to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • Use a .com address instead of .org .me , etc.  Using other variations besides .com will make it difficult for people to remember your address and find you online.
  • Make sure your address is easy to spell.  You don’t want people not to be able to find you online because they can’t spell your web address properly.  Typing it out before you settle on something will help you see what it look like to people.
  • Don’t use hyphens in your domain name.  Try telling someone you blog at “My hypen cool hyphen blog” and you’ll see why.
  • Consider life changes.  I know some bloggers who blog about toddler activities, but what about when their kids are older?  What will they blog about then?  Make your blog’s theme and name something that can easily grow and morph over the years.

Sometimes someone is already using the domain name you want, so you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.  You can use the domain name checker below to find out if the domain name you want is available.

You’ll also want to check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. to make sure the social media profiles matching your blog’s name are available.

 

3. Set up your blog.

If you want to make money blogging, I highly recommend starting a self-hosted WordPress blog.  You will pay a small monthly fee for someone to host your blog (this is sort of like renting your space on the internet.)  You could start a blog on a free platform, but all of the free platforms have severe limitations when it comes to earning money.  You may not be allowed to place ads or use affiliate links or set up a shop with your own products.  If you are serious about making money blogging, your best bet is to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.

There are lots of hosting companies online, all with different pros and cons.  For someone just starting out, Bluehost is your cheapest bet and should work just fine for what you need.  I started with a budget hosting company and moved to Black Chicken host once my blog grew larger and I needed something more robust.

If technical terms feel scary to you, Bluehost will walk you through the entire process.

  • Choose your plan.  Plus or Prime are the best (Prime has domain privacy, which is important if you don’t want people to be able to find your private information via your blog.)
  • Enter your domain name.  You can enter this now or later.  If you purchased a domain somewhere else, you’ll enter it on the right side.
  • On the next page you will enter your account information.
  • Next you’ll choose the plan you want.  You can skip pretty much all of the add-ons they will try to sell you.
  • Enter your billing info
  • Choose a password

After you’ve purchased your hosting plan, you can log in and get started right away with WordPress!

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see your domain name showing up right away.  It takes anywhere from 2 to 24 hours for your domain to populate on the internet.

But you can go ahead and play around and explore some of the features of your WordPress blog before you go to the next step.  (I do not recommend choosing one of the free themes that Bluehost shows you.  More on that in the next step.)

Click the “Start building” button to go to your WordPress blog.  I recommend clicking “I don’t need help.”  This way you are not given a bunch of options that you don’t need or want and then have to go back and undo.

 

4. Choose your WordPress theme.

You can start by using the free theme that is automatically installed.  However, you will no doubt want to change it to something more eye-appealing.

I do not recommend using free themes, either those recommended by Bluehost or others from around the web.  The reason for that is they are not updated frequently and therefor not secure from hackers.  You don’t want a blog that is vulnerable to hackers or that will stop working because the features have not been updated.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend Thrive Themes.  I use them for all of my blogs, including this one.

Some reasons I love Thrive Themes so much are:

  1. Easy to customize – just drag and drop.  No technical skills required!
  2. Optimized for search engines
  3. Lightweight.  Thrive themes comes with a lot of features that you would have to piece together with other themes.  Because just about everything you need is already included, you won’t need to bog down your site speed by adding sharing plugins, etc.
  4. Thrive Themes offers an entire suite of products that you can use for various aspects of your blogging, such as building your email list and selling products.  When you are ready to add on more advanced features to your blog, the other Thrive products will integrate perfectly with your theme.

Go here to see all Thrive Themes.

 

5. Change your blog permalinks

In the “settings” column, select “permalinks.”  You’ll want to set your permalinks to this structure: https://amylynnandrews.com/%postname%/.  This way the links to your blog posts will be very clean and won’t contain dates which could make your older content seem outdated.  You want your content to be well-loved whether it’s 2 days or 2 years after you wrote it.  (If you have already been blogging and did not set your permalinks this way, do not change them now.  It will break all the links to any posts you have written thus far!)

 

6. Set up https on your domain.

You should receive an email with instructions for activating your domain.  Once your domain is activated, you can switch from http to https.  A domain starting with https means it is secure for people who will be making purchases.  Also, Google is ranking sites lower in the search engines that do not have a security certificate, so it’s important for you to have one if you want to be found in searches.

  • Log into your Bluehost account, then click on “My sites” in the left column.  Click “Manage site”, then click on “security”.  Find the switch that says “Free SSL certificate” and turn it to On.

 

7. Begin to blog!

You are now ready to begin publishing blog posts.  Any time you want to log in to your WordPress dashboard just type in “yoursitename.com/wp-admin” and it will pull up the link for you to log in.  If you don’t remember your login, look for the welcome emails sent to you by Bluehost.  One will have login info for Bluehost and one will have login info for WordPress.

 

Want ideas for making money with your blog? Download my free Quick Start Guide here (no email address required!)

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