Blogging has been an internet staple since it became popular in the late 1990s. In recent years we have also seen the proliferation of offshoots of the medium, including multi-author blogs and microblogging. These days it seems like everyone has something to say and they want others to hear it. Since you are here, it is safe to assume that you do too.
There are many great reasons to start your own blog. Here are some of the reasons that resonate the most with our writers:
- It is a great way to express yourself about a topic that you are passionate about.
- It connects you to people who are also passionate about a topic.
- It improves your writing skills and helps you to find your author’s voice. If the last time you wrote anything of substance was in college, a blog is a great way to get back into it.
- It can help you get informed and remain informed about a topic. Experts only become experts by staying apprised.
- It gets your name out there, increasing your online presence and opening doors like writing jobs and even book deals.
- It gets your company name out there by creating a valuable reference resource on your business website.
- It can make you money through ad revenue, sponsorships, and affiliate links.
- It creates an everlasting impression not only on the internet but on human history as a whole.
One thing that prevents many users from starting their own blog, however, is the lack of technical and computer knowledge that they believe is necessary to create one. Thankfully, we have categorized the process of setting up a blog into five easy steps that you can reference any time you desire. We hope that you find this guide useful and we encourage you to contact us or leave a comment for any further pointers.
- Choose a Topic to Blog About
- Pick Your Blogging Platform
- Find a Host and Choose a Domain
- Set Up Your Blog
- Design Your Blog
- Write, Write, Write!
1. Choose a Topic to Blog About
The first step to starting your blog is choosing a subject to write about. If you are blogging on behalf of a business, company, or a product, this should not be too difficult as you are already bound by specific parameters. If this is a personal project, the topic you blog about can be a more personal choice.
Because the medium is so flexible, you can choose to be as broad or as specific as possible. That means you can run a general news blog, a celebrity gossip blog, or even a blog about a specific celebrity. You could even blog about a single aspect of a specific celebrity. On the internet, nothing is too niche.
Of course, the best way to get a good readership is to choose a subject that will appeal to many people. We like to abide by three rules:
- Blog about something you enjoy reading and learning more about. If you don’t like your subject enough, you won’t want to keep writing about it.
- Blog about a subject where you can be or become an authority. It is unlikely that you will be the first to write about any given subject, but if you’re the most informed writer, you can have the best blog on the matter.
- Blog about something that people like to talk about. It’s okay to go with something that only appeals to a niche audience, but make sure that it is something that others want to read about and interact with. Finding something that is niche, yet has a passionate base is the holy grail of blogging.
Once you begin making great content you will quickly find yourself with a go-to resource for people just like you.
2. Pick Your Blogging Platform
There are many platforms that can host your blog for you. So much so, that the competition produces great services that make creating a blog and posting on that blog extremely simple.
Many users prefer to use website builders. Services like Wix make it extremely simple to create a website and begin using it right away to start blogging. While these providers are great for beginners, many find that they outgrow them quickly, especially as their skills improve over time.
That is why we prefer using Content Management Systems (CMSs) for our blogs. A CMS is an application that specializes in the creation and modification of digital content. This means that they are made for blogging and can easily be customized and expanded to add features that might become more appealing to you and your readers over time. There are many different CMS platforms available, including Joomla! and Drupal, but we recommend using WordPress.
WordPress is the most popular website platform on the internet. Not only is it easy to use, it is also exceptionally good for blogging. This is because it has powerful word processing capabilities and a library of post enhancing plugins that are unmatched. That makes it the go-to software for some impressive sites.
While we encourage you to find a platform that will best serve your needs, we are also confident that you will be hard pressed to find one that will serve your needs as well as WordPress.
3. Find a Host and Choose a Domain Name
Once you decide what blogging platform you want to use, you must find a host on which to install the software. A host allows you to store your website data remotely on servers which enable users from all around the world to access it easily.
We recommend finding a host that offers a one-click WordPress install. This kind of integration generally implies that the host not only fully supports WordPress but will also help you set up the software and tackle problems if need be. Bluehost is one example of a host that is built for WordPress.
You will begin the signup process by selecting a plan. A basic plan can be well suited to new sites, but premium plans allow for greater growth at a reasonable price. You can always start on a basic plan and upgrade in the future.
Once you choose a plan you will be asked to input your preferred domain name. A domain name is a string of characters or words that users will input to find your site (ie example.com). There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing your web address.
- Always select something that will be easy to remember. Of course, many of your users will find your site through search engines, but if your domain name is too complicated, you won’t be able to tell people about it in person. And, trust us, you will want everyone to know about your new blog!
- Make sure that your domain name is easy to spell and that it conforms to English norms. We are aware of the vowel-removing Flickr, Tumblr, and Scribds of the world, but as a general rule, that kind of liberty-taking should be avoided.
- Only use the most common extensions (ie ‘.com’, ‘.net’, and ‘.org’). There are many other extensions available, but they are not yet prevalent enough to recommend for the average user.
- If you are setting up a blog for your business, use your business name in your domain. If the name is taken you can take some liberties, but try not to deviate too much from what your customers already know.
- Your actual name can be a good choice for a domain name unless you want to remain anonymous or provide users with a better indication of what you are writing about.
Upon selecting a domain name you will be able to complete the process by inputting your billing information. You can sign up for monthly or yearly plans, but we recommend paying for a year upfront as the costs are greatly discounted.
4. Set Up Your Blog
Once your hosting account is ready you can install WordPress. This can be done manually or automatically through one-click installations on services like Bluehost. You can access the setup through your control panel, or cPanel.
Bluehost will take you through a step-by-step process, asking for you to input data about your website when necessary. One feature of the automatic setup that we really like is that it also offers users the chance to install helpful plugins immediately. You can choose anything that sounds appealing or just skip the step and install them later.
Your next step will be to enter your site’s title and choose a username and password. It is important to choose a username that you will remember and a password will provide you with a high level of security. We recommend using a password generator to ensure that it meets the criteria advised by security experts.
5. Design Your Blog
Once you complete this process, WordPress is installed and you can begin designing your blog! You can access your WordPress control panel by using the subdomain ‘/wp-admin’ (the full address will look like this: ‘example.com/wp-admin’).
When you first access your blog it will use the default WordPress theme. The default theme is changed every year, and this year’s theme, Twenty Seventeen, is actually not bad looking. You, however, may opt for something more functional, and that’s where the fun begins.
WordPress has literally thousands of different themes you can use. Keep in mind that while many are free, there are also many that cost money. While it is likely that you will find a free theme to your liking, most paid themes come at minimal cost.
Once you select a theme for your blog we encourage you to get familiar with the WordPress sidebar. The sidebar provides you with quick access to all of the tools you will need to run your site. The default WordPress sidebar has the following sections:
- Dashboard – The dashboard provides much of the information about your site that you will need to know on a daily basis in a simple, yet informative layout. We use the link to our dashboard to access our site.
- Posts – Every time you want to add or edit posts, simply click on this menu for all of the features you may need.
- Media – You can access all of your site’s non-text content through the media section. From there, photos and videos can be edited quickly.
- Pages – Adding a page to your site can be done easily through the pages menu. We recommend adding a Contact page as well as any legal disclosures that might be relevant.
- Comments – One of the best parts about running a blog is the interaction you will have with your fans. The comments section allows you to manage new comments, enabling you to post the good ones and delete the spam.
- Appearance – You can change the look of your site any time you want by changing themes, customizing your current theme, and adding widgets.
- Plugins – From the plugins menu you can add or remove plugins, in addition to updating the ones you currently have.
- Users – As mentioned briefly in the opening of this article, multi-author blogs allow many users to edit a single blog. When adding new users you can change the permissions they have, disabling them from accessing anything you wish.
- Tools – The tools menu allows you to use the “Press This” feature. Press This pulls content from other websites which you can reference in your blog posts and expand upon.
- Settings – Finally, you can change many of your site’s most important settings that affect everything from how your write and how your users read.
WordPress can be learned in no time, but mastering it may take a while. You can write your first blog before learning everything there is to know about the platform, but we encourage you to remember that WordPress has a vast amount of potential just waiting to be discovered.
6. Write, Write, Write
Once your blog is set up it’s time to begin writing! It’s always nice to have an introductory article, describing what you hope to accomplish in your blog. From there you can use your new site to talk about anything you wish. It’s your own corner on the internet and it reflects exactly what you desire it to.
Posting frequently is the best way to get people to read your work. If your last post was one month ago and the posts before it are equally sporadic, people will assume you are not serious about your site. If you can dedicate the time, we recommend posting as least once a week. Blogging is a case of the more the merrier and the bigger the better. The most information your site contains, the more likely it is to be recognized as both a valuable and invaluable resource.
Most important of all is that you have fun and learn along the way. We hope that you enjoy the journey!