So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start a blog… great idea!
But… where do you start? how do you start? what steps do you take first? who the heck should you listen to? There’s a sea of information on the internet about how to start a blog.
Unfortunately, as a newbie all that information can be so confusing that you begin to think that starting a blog may not be such a good idea after all… Well, hold up there for just a minute!
We All Started As Beginners
I was a total newbie too! and had absolutely no idea where to begin. In fact, I didn’t even know what a domain name was!… but, I pushed on and in 2010 I started my blog (linkandbuild.com) that blog is long gone now, but that was my beginning.
Now, I don’t claim to be a blogging guru, but I certainly understand the basics and when you’re new to all this stuff, keeping it simple is what you’re really looking for. I know! because all I wanted when I started out was for someone to explain everything in plain old English. So… I’ll give it my best shot!
What You Need To Do First
I’ll outline what you need to do to get started and I’ll try my best to keep things simple and relatively easy to understand. Before we move on though, I want to talk about WHY you should start a blog.
Before you do anything else, it’s important that you have a clear picture of why you want to start a blog. This may seem irrelevant to you now, but later on you’ll understand why the WHY is important. Below are three reasons why you should start a blog.
- You’re passionate about something
- You have a skill you want to share
- Make Money
Let’s Break Each Reason Down
Passion – Choose something you’re passionate about. For example, your favorite hobby might be photography and because you love everything there is to do with photography it’ll be much easier for you to write about it.
It will show through in your posts and your reader’s will connect, because you’re passionate about your topic.
Skill – Do you have a certain set of skills? you may think you don’t, but I bet you do. Let’s assume you work at a florist shop. There’s your set of skills right there. You know how to do floral arrangements, you know about different types of flowers and how to care for them, you could start a blog totally devoted to flowers.
Make Money – Aha! that’s more like it, show me the money I hear you say. Well, If you’re going to start a blog with the sole purpose of making money… Good luck!
I’m not saying that you can’t make money through blogging, because you can and plenty of bloggers do. Ideally you should posses a mix of reasons one and two (above). Have some knowledge, have at least a little passion and believe in what you’re promoting. If you don’t, neither will your readers. How to select a profitable niche
Clear as mud! Good, once you’ve decided your WHY we can move on to the first step.
Disclosure: This article on start a blog in 5 easy steps contains some affiliate links, where if you purchase a product or service through those links, I may earn a small commission. At no cost to you.
Step 1: Choosing A Domain Name
The complete URL is your websites address. It’s the link people click on to take them to your website. Take a little bit of time to choose your domain name, because once you have it you can’t change it.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Domain Name:
- Is it relevant to your blogs theme
- It’s easy to remember and not too long
Below are examples of a bad domain name and a good domain name. Let’s assume your blogs theme is photography.
Bad Example: www.charliebrownsamazingshootingsecrets.com
It’s way too long, difficult to remember and although “shooting” is a term used in photography it’s also used when you fire a gun.
Good Example: www.cameratricks.com
It’s catchy, easy to remember and relevant to your blogs theme (photography)
Exception: You may be really good at photography, in which case you may want to brand yourself. So, choosing your own name might be a better fit e.g www.charliebrown.com
There are plenty of dedicated websites where you can register a domain name. Below are two popular websites. Most hosting providers also include domain name registration… I’ll explain a bit more about that in the next step.
Note: Your first attempt at registering a domain name may not be successful, why? because most of those generic one-word catchy domain names have already been taken. Don’t despair though! play around with different combinations and you will eventually find one that is available.
A domain name can typically cost anywhere between $9 – $15 a year depending on who you register with… still “Cheap as Chips”
Got all that! Okay, next step.
Step 2: Choosing A Hosting Platform
What is hosting? Hosting is where a company/business keeps your website so it can be viewed on the internet. All your website data is stored there.
Special Promo – Click the promo link below to sign up with HostGator for just $3/month
There Are Two Types Of Hosting
- Self-Hosting (Paid)
A good example of a popular free hosting platform is Blogger.com but… although it is free it has limits. Below are points you should consider if you decide to go with the free option.
- You don’t own your blog. The hosting company (blogger.com for example) can delete it if they wish (And they have). Which means all the hours of work you put into your blog, can disappear with one click.
- The ability to upload all those images and videos you want to share with everyone is very limited.
- It’s not really your own domain name. For example www.cameratricks.com will look like this > www.cameratricks.blogspot.com (not pretty)
I use HostGator.com (As of writing this article) the “Baby Plan” will cost you $5.95/mo, considering all the features that come with it, that’s pretty good bang for your buck. HostGator also allows you to register a domain name with them as well, which is great if you want everything all in one place.
Here Are My Reasons Paid Hosting Is A Better Option:
- You really do own your domain name. Example www.cameratricks.com
- You will have the ability to upload a lot more images and videos than the free option (And I mean a lot more)
- Most self-hosting platforms have one click WordPress install. WordPress is basically a website creation tool for non geeks and without sounding like a snake-oil salesman, I highly recommend you start out using WordPress.
- You get plenty of useful tools and features like, customized email e.g firstname.lastname@example.org automated backup of your website and a whole lot more.
Still with me… great.
Step 3: Writing Your First Post
Whoa! hold up there cowboy, aren’t we jumping the gun, I don’t even have my website up yet! which is exactly why you should have some content prepared.
Once your site goes live you will have your first article ready to post. You want to hit the ground running and give your blog a kick start. Whatever you decide to write about, make it compelling to your readers and aim for at least 300 words, 500 if you can manage it. Save it in notepad or something similar.
Step 4: Useful WP Plugins To Install When You Start A Blog
What Is A WordPress Plugin?
Think of it like an app. A plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a WordPress website. It can extend functionality or add new features to your site.
Why Do I Need Plugins?
Plugins allow you to add specific features to your WordPress website. For example: a contact form, social sharing buttons, anti spam filter etc. There are literally thousands of plugins available (free and paid) for almost any function you can think of.
Below is a list of plugins I recommend you start with (They’re free) So, write down the names of the plugins below or copy and paste them to notepad and put them aside for now. Don’t worry about how they work and what they do at this stage. Once you have your website up you’ll be able to go ahead and install them.
- Yoast SEO
- Antispam Bee
- Google Analyticator
- WP Fastest Cache
- Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
- WP Social Sharing
- Very Simple Contact Form
Sweet! Almost done
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Once you’ve completed the first four steps you should now have a list of what you will need to set up your blog. Our example will assume you’re going to start a blog about photography and you’re going to pick the “Baby Plan” register a domain name and host your WordPress website with HostGator.com
Go to HostGator.com and select the “Baby Plan” option. Enter your chosen domain name to see if it is available. If it is, carry on and fill out the required information in the following steps.
Once your registration is confirmed you can now install WordPress by clicking on Website Essentials > One Click Installs, then follow the instructions. After completing everything, you will be given the URL address to your website, using our example it will look like this http://www.cameratricks.com
Installing A WordPress Theme
Let’s set your blog up with a new WordPress theme. To choose a new theme go to your WordPress dashboard, head to Appearance > Themes and install a free WordPress theme.
Choose something that looks professional and is easy to customize. Remember your blog’s design should reflect what the blog is about. There’s no point having a cooking-orientated theme if your blog is about photography.
We’re getting there! So, lets install those plugins I recommended. Head back to your dashboard, click Appearance > Add New, then enter the exact name (caps included) of the first plugin in the keyword search box. Look for the one that has that exact name, click install then activate… voila! who said this stuff is hard.
Carry out the same process with the others, remember if it says this plugin is not compatible with your WordPress site, don’t install it. All it means is the plugin hasn’t been updated to work properly on your version of WordPress.
Now! the final task you’re going to do is post that compelling article you prepared earlier. So, head back to your dashboard, click on Posts > Add New, give your post a title then copy your article from notepad and paste it into the blank word editor.
Remember to check for any grammar mistakes, if it all looks good, click the “Publish” button.
Congratulations! on starting your own blog.
Other Stuff You Might Be Interested In
This is a relatively new self-hosting platform. It’s not free but you don’t pay an ongoing subscription, you only pay a one-time fee. It sits in between the free and self-hosting plans. If you’re not super serious about blogging, this option may be a good fit for you. Definitely worth checking out >>> Click here to see what it’s all about
Creator 7: A software tool for creating website headers, banners, logos, images and a whole lot more other uses >>> Check it out here