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How to Start Your Blog
If you opened this article, you are at least thinking about starting a blog. That’s great! Blogging is a great hobby and a great way to express yourself. There are many things you can accomplish with your blog whether it is helping others, sharing stories, or establishing yourself as an expert. You can even make money! In this article, I will show you how to start your blog.
As a new blogger, things might seem overwhelming and that is why I have written this post. I learned a lot on my own road to building a blog and I want to help you get started and launch your blog with ease! Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Choose a Domain Name
The very first step in creating your blog is choosing a domain name. There are a few things you need to consider before locking in that perfect domain! Let’s list those out…
- What is you niche? A “niche” is how you will define yourself as a blogger. Consider what you want to blog about and how you will set yourself apart. Maybe your “niche” is gluten free cooking or maybe it is female (or male!) solo travel. Whatever it is, your name/domain should reflect what you plan on bringing to the table.
- Make it timeless. Unless you are only planning to blog short-term, you may not want to choose a name like “College Adventures” or “My Summer in Europe.” Your’e in this for the long haul, so you want a name that can adapt to change.
- Make it memorable. Your blog name will become your brand so be sure to choose a name that is easy to remember.
- Is the dot com available? Having a dot com, I feel, is most important to your blog. When choosing a domain name, check first if it is available as a dot com. If it’s not, maybe a variation is available. You definitely want your website dot-commed! You can test whether or not the name you want is available here.
Congratulations on choosing a rockin’ domain name! Now, it is time to choose a hosting service and register your domain. I used to use Bluehost but later switched to Siteground. In the beginning, before I knew what I was doing, I built a blog on wordpress dot com. It was free and I was unclear on the direction I would go. When I realized I wanted to take my blog seriously and turn it into a money making website, I almost upgraded through wordpress. Thank goodness I scrolled through some other blogs first and realized I needed to self host! If you want to monetize your blog, the only way to go is through self-hosting.
A free wordpress account is great for anyone wanting to blog for leisure or anyone not interested in monetization, but there are two huge disadvantages to those of us who do want our blog to produce an income. Here they are…
- You do NOT own your website. WordPress holds the right to shut down your site at any time for any reason.
- You can NOT truly monetize your site. You can do a few things, but not much AND, we come back to the main point, you don’t own your website. Unless you are self-hosted, you risk losing all of your content if wordpress or whomever wants to shut down your site for any reason.
Don’t let these things drive you away from wordpress entirely though! I 100% encourage you to use wordpress as your platform. It is highly customizable and easy to use.
So, what should you do?
Without a doubt, the best way to start your blog is to self-host, using wordpress as your platform. Here is where you get the best of both worlds. The first reason you should self-host a blog is simple: you own your domain. This means you are free to do what you would like with your blog. Like make money!
If you want to turn your blog into income, this is definitely the way to go. Having used both Bluehost and Siteground, Siteground is definitely the choice I recommend. There are a few reasons why I recommend Siteground over Bluehost but the main two are that a) customer service is way more helpful and much quicker to respond and b) my site speed has improved since my switch. If you want to switch but are nervous of a big change, the transition is seamless and with my link, you can start you blog now for only $3.95/month!
Once I chose my domain name, I hopped on Bluehost where I signed up for hosting and they registered my domain name. Signing up for Siteground works the exact same way. From there, you can download wordpress and transfer over all of your content or begin creating new content. Siteground will even walk you through transferring all of your existing site data over from WordPress or complete one full website transfer for free if you are switching from another host. Now you have the benefit of owning your website paired with the convenience of powering it through wordpress. Win!
Once you get started, here are the steps you will follow:
- Register domain
- Download wordpress.org.
- 1-click WordPress.org installation!
Now that you have your domain secured, it is time to secure those same social media handles. Do your best to have everything match so that it is easier for your followers to find you. I recommend setting up the four main social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. While I use all four, my favorites are pinterest and instagram. You can find me on all 4 as @travelsofjenna or by accessing my social pages through the sidebar.
If four outlets is too overwhelming, choose two that you can really commit to building and using to drive traffic and build your brand. Pinterest is a search engine on its own and tends to become a major traffic driver for bloggers. Instagram works well for me because I take a lot of photos so it is a natural way to extend my blog. Regardless of how many social media accounts you can commit to now, go ahead and secure handles in all accounts that you could see yourself using in the future.
Once you are all set up, follow me on any of your social platforms and shoot me a message that you found me through my blog. I would love to be your first follower! You can also find me in the Facebook group Women Who Blog where we support each other through Q&A and daily engagement boosting threads. Join our blogging community by clicking here.
Design Your Blog
Now for the fun stuff! It is time to design your blog! You have a couple of options here. You can pay for a theme or you can download a free one. WordPress has a TON of free themes to choose from if you’re not looking to spend any money yet. You can always change or upgrade your theme if you’re not feeling’ it. It took me about three themes before I found one that I was really loved. There is no rhyme or reason to this step; it is all about personal style and preference. Pick a theme that you love and is easy for you to work with.
Posts and Pages
Everybody has their own idea of what they want their website to be at the time of launch. I only started with one post. Some people prefer to have several posted prior to launch. This is entirely up to you. What you do want to have completed, is the overall layout of your site. Here is the bare minimum I would recommend:
- Home – Build your home page. This can include pictures, recent posts, social media feeds or a little about you and your website.
- Blog – This is the page where your posts will go. Some people also choose to use this as a home page.
- About – Introduce yourself! Tell the world a little about you and your blog. Create a positive first impression.
- Disclosure – Particularly if you choose to monetize, you might as well get this out of the way now. You may still need to disclose within individual posts, but a disclosure page is helpful especially if you are using affiliates such as amazon and google. Feel free to refer to my disclosure page as a reference.
- Contact – A simple contact page for people to contact you with any questions they have about your website.
- Subscription Pop-up – Sign up for Mailerlite to help you gain subscribers. Building your email address is important to your long term marketing goals and it is EXTREMELY important you set this up from the start.
Getting started is the hardest step, but you got through it! Now that you have the basics done, it is time to start growing your blog. A money-making blog doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen over time if you put in the time and effort!