How I began my blogging empire: Cost Free, Stress Free.

Blogging 101  -

Happy Bloggerversary

In 2010 I began my blogging journey. I had dabbled a little bit in 2009, but only as an experiment, those early blogs have been relegated to the deepest depths of Google’s archives (I hope). My 2010 blog is still live and the beginning of my blogging empire. It was an online diary for family and friends to update them about an extremely eventful period in my family’s life. When House Met Van.

All went quiet for a few years as the rise of social media grew through Twitter and Facebook; enabling me to contact my family and friends more easily and more importantly as I struggled to cope with parenting my Autistic youngest son. One day I had a random conversation with him, which in his world was anything but random and as any autism parent will know, random conversations are as usual as what cereal would you like darling?

This particular conversation was about a dream he had where there was a Panda living in his bellybutton and I casually commented to him as I poured his cereal “That would make a great title for a book darling. Here eat your breakfast.” Which of course he couldn’t do because not only had I used the wrong type of bowl, but also not his usual spoon. Which as you can probably guess I couldn’t find anywhere. Resulting in a standoff of refusing to eat said cereal.

How to start a Blog.

I cannot exactly remember which particular morning of which particular day this dream conversation had taken place, but it had planted a seed which took a little time to germinate and become an idea, to eventually a relatively easy reality. BellybuttonPanda is three years old today. I never dreamed when we started our story that it would result in over 15,000 views. I can only hope that Parenting, Pastimes and Prosecco will become as successful.

I personally recommend if you are completely new to blogging to start off on a free platform. There are loads to choose from, when I began there weren’t and I opted for the market leader (at the time) Google Blogger aka Blogspot, but you can now choose from WordPress the current leader I believe. Wix, Weebly, Medium, Sqaurespace and you can even blog directly onto Bloglovin.

WordPress is the free version I do not know how similar the functionality is to Blogger I have never tried it. is the self-hosted paid version. Go for this one if you have lots of time to learn all about the plugins, widgets, HTML coding and CSS. The vast majority of bloggers will tell you to go this paid route straight away. If you are confident do, but there are other ways so don’t get sucked in like I did. I will talk about that venture in a separate post.

Blogger Blogspot

Google Blogger Blogspot Profile Google+

You need a google account obviously, but you do not have to link Blogger to your google+ account you can create a Blogger profile instead, although Blogger does encourage you to use a G+ account. I chose the G+ route so that I can easily share my work and connect with other bloggers, family and friends on G+. I like the simplicity of the blogger dashboard with the menu options listed down the left-hand side and easy drag and drop widgets. You can have a free domain name which will be or you can purchase a custom domain name either from Goggle to get rid of the Blogspot bit to or you can purchase a domain name from another party such as or GoDaddy and have it redirected to your blogger account. I have my domains with 123-reg and just link the DNS code to your blogger account. This is way easier than it sounds, trust me, if I can do it, you can to and if you want any help with that or to know more, just get in contact with me.

Google Blogger Blogspot Admin Dashboard


I am seriously tempted by Wix, it is relatively new to the blogging world created in 2006, but offers so much more creatively. It is a free website builder and cloud-based development platform. It is a really easy 'drag and drop' builder to create your online presence. Similar to Blogger you can have a free domain name or purchase a custom one. Wix is built on a freemium business model, earning its revenues through premium upgrades. Users must purchase premium packages in order to connect their sites to their own domains, remove Wix ads, add eCommerce capabilities, or buy extra data storage and bandwidth. I am going to look using WIX for a business venture a friend and I are looking at in September.


Blogging is as visual as it is readable. Photos are a must. If you are a keen photographer (like Ryan), great, snap away and create beautiful pictures for your blog posts. If you are not (like me) and want a cost-free, stress-free route, then make use of the royalty free public domain pictures called Stock Photos from sites such as and If you are feeling a little more adventurous and creative and still completely free, go for it is a must have in your blogging toolbox. You can create a myriad of post graphics, Pinterest infographics, Blog post headers, social media designs. The list is almost endless. Sign up (it’s free) and have a play.

Parenting Pastimes Prosecco Lifestyle Blog
Created using Canva

Cost Free, Stress Free Summary

  • Free platform
    • Blogger
    • Wix
    • Weebly
  • Free pictures
    • Pexels
    • Shutterstock
    • Canva
  • Social Media
    • Facebook Groups
    • Pinterest Group Boards
    • Google+ Groups
    • Instagram Pods
    • Twitter Chats

There is loads of great advice on the web that will help you to start a new blog. For me the three influencers that hat helped me the most so far are:

Ana - The She Approach. I loved her post How to Start A Blog In 2017 and eBook.
Chelsea Hodges does a great 5 day Email Challenge and eBook.
Melyssa Griffin has a wealth of advice, freebies and webinars. 

I have loads more tips and advice and am in the process of creating some free resources to help kick start your blogging empire. In the meantime join the discussion and let me know what platform you use to blog from and any favourite tips you have for new bloggers on the block, or any questions you may have, if you are thinking of starting out. Connect on social media #MamiSkiltsBlogs


  1. You have made phenomenal progress on your blog my friend! Very proud that I could be of help towards your blogging journey! Keep at it! Much love x

    1. Thank you Chelsea. I really have appreciated all the help I have received from fellow bloggers. I loved you ebook and email challenge. I wish you every success in your ventures too. MS x


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