I have had a ton of people ask me how to start a blog. Now, I don’t want you not to think I am smart, but starting a blog isn’t really that hard. I thought I would give you a step by step guide in case you want to join the blogging community.
There are basically 6 steps to start a blog:
- Figure out what you want to blog about
- Choose your blog platform
- Pick a web host
- Set up your blog
- Design your blog
- Figure out what resources you want to use
Figure out what you want to blog about
This might be the most important step, and it is definitely the item that will predict whether or not you will be doing this in a year. Ideally, it should be something that you know and are somewhat passionate about.You can pick anything. The sky is the limit.
Definitely pick a topic that you think you can write about for a long time. It’s your blog, but you may want to pick a more specific topic than anything and everything as that can be confusing to your readers. Picking a niche may also make it easier to grow your subscriber list and/or make a little money with your blog.
I can tell you from experience that you should pick something that you enjoy writing about rather than what you think will appeal to your readers. You want to enjoy writing – if it’s a chore you likely won’t do it for long. So if you are passionate about quilting, you can start a blog about that. Ditto for shoes, cooking or painting. You may want to avoid making your niche too specific, like heart quilting patterns, because if you are doing this for a while, you may want to blog about star patterns. However, it is your blog, so if you want to blog about heart quilting patterns, go for it!
Choose your blogging Platform
I Use WordPress, along with about 90% of other bloggers. What this means is that there are a ton of free resources around for WordPress sites. Free templates, free how to’s, free plugins, the list is basically endless.
WordPress is easy to set up and use. This was the biggest thing for me. As a newbie blogger, I needed something that was easy and that I could find a lot of information on.
Self-hosted or free?
There are some free platforms (blogger and Tumblr), but you should go with self-hosted (in my opinion). You can get it for as little as under $5 a month (billed annually). It gives you way more options over a free site. It’s kind of like renting a home vs buying one. It’s totally up to you whether you want to buy or rent.
Here is why I think it’s a good idea to go self-hosted:
- I own my own domain name, iheartreginask.com. The free blog has a web address of yourblog.blogspot.com or something similar.
- You can’t add as many photos and videos.
- You have way less theme options.
- You don’t own the site and someone can shut it down if they want to. This sucks if you have content and traffic that you lose in the case of an eviction.
- I use Bluehost and I think the customer service has been amazing.
Pick a domain name
Bluehost has a free domain name picker so you can try a few to see what is available. I went with Iheartreginask.com because iheartregina.com was gone. The cost of the domain is a separate charge from the hosting fees, but right now Bluehost has a special where you get your domain name free for the first year if you sign up with them.
Start your Blog
Once you sign up, there is a one click button for installing WordPress (at least on Bluehost). I recommend installing that as soon as you can. It comes with a few basic free themes, and you can google other free themes. You can also purchase a theme (I bought mine from here for $49US).
Whatever theme you choose, make sure it is mobile friendly as everyone seems to be on their phones all the time. It is super annoying to people when the font is super small, a really strange color or you can’t see the whole screen, so save yourself and your readers some grief by choosing a mobile friendly site.
WordPress comes with a bunch of free plugins and widgets. I recommend figuring out the site first before you download too many. You likely have no idea what you features you want and there is no sense in downloading a bunch of stuff that overwhelms you.
Mojo is the WordPress marketplace and once you are comfortable, you can figure out what you want.
Once WordPress is installed, you can start creating your magic! This is the fun stuff.
Once you are set up on WordPress, you should get an email with your admin page. It looks like this: www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin. I put that in a folder in my email account and I use that to go to my blog.
You might want to write down your passwords because there seems like a lot of information to keep straight.
Keep in mind that you will have some hiccups. I remember going onto my blog and seeing some weird page not found link to one of my pages. The best advice that I can give you for if (when) that happens, is to remember what it was that you last did on the page and see if that caused a problem. For example, I changed one thing in settings and all of a sudden everything got lost in cyber space.
If you are really confused, you can always either find a code savvy developer to help you, or you can hire it out. I use Fiverr for some simple tweaks I need done.
A Few Tips
Before you create your first post, change your Permalinks from default to post name, which is www.yourblog/postname. The default is www.yourblog/p=123, which is no help for search engines to locate you. I didn’t do that and I had to pay someone on Fiverr to fix it for me. It only cost five bucks, but it caused me a lot of stress when I tried to change it myself and got a 404 error.
Don’t buy a theme right away. Play around with your blog and then decide how you want it to look. I bought my first theme and never really loved it, but I lived with it for a while because I didn’t want to waste the money.
Write down all of your passwords because there are a ton of them.
Bluehost comes with email, so set up your professional email address. Mine is email@example.com (feel free to email me whenever you want!)
There are a ton of resources that I used to set up my blog
Here is my hosting company:
Bluehost – Bluehost is very reasonably priced so you can set up your blog without breaking the bank.
Plugins I love:
Jetpack by WordPress.com – tracks stats
Yoast SEO – makes sure your posts are search engine optimized
Compress Jpeg and PNG images – makes your images the same size
Akismet – spam blocker
Google Analytics – it shows your daily audience overview, bounce rate and what people are looking at. It even tells you where your audience is from (“Hey” to my visitors from Australia)
Widgets I love:
Gravatar – this is a widget that is the about me part of your site. It also follows you to social media sites that you might use. For me, it has been clicked on quite a few times, so make it look good. I don’t have a professional head shot, but I do have a picture that I like that doesn’t have someone cropped out of it.
Social Media Icons – so that you can post to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest with one click
Blog Subscriptions – for people to follow you
I don’t have links to absolutely everything because when you are a blogger, Google is your best friend!
Is anyone planning on starting a blog? Let me know in the comments!