How To Start A Blog: A Beginner’s Guide
So, you want to start a blog, huh?
If you’ve never owned a blog before, starting one may seem complicated or scary but it’s actually not. I’ve listed down 13 steps that I always take before starting a new blog.
This guide is a part of my ‘Create A Blog with Dreamhost‘ series I’m working on.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. When you purchase/register using my affiliate link, I will earn a small referral commission at no additional cost to you. I will only recommend products I use, love and trust. I will NEVER recommend or promote anything that I have no faith in.
1 – Choose A Topic/Niche
Before creating your blog, you need to have an idea what your blog is going to be about. This is what we call ‘niche’. You need to decide what niche to be in. For example, let’s say you want to write about ‘food.’.
Food is a popular topic to write about. So popular that there are millions of blogs out there about food. How are you going to stand out being a new blogger? Food is such a broad topic. What you need to do now is to narrow it down and decide on a unique but specific niche.
Maybe you could write about ‘Healthy Desserts for Vegans‘. Or maybe ‘Healthy Fusion Foods For Kids‘. If you don’t want to do food and recipes, maybe you want to do reviews. Maybe you could be the ‘American Food Truck Hunter‘ who hunts and reviews food trucks all across America.
Be unique and interesting that people will remember. You’ll get noticed easily. Don’t copy what other people is doing. Write about something you’re passionate in and don’t force yourself. You want the blogging time to be fun not a chore.
2 – Pick A Blog Name
This is the hardest part. Picking a name. To be honest, this is the part that I hate the most. It’s hard to pick a name that’s not already taken or too generic that it just sounds too boring.
Again, be unique and pick something close to your niche. Pick something that you want to have for a long time because it could turn into your brand later on. Pat Flynn picked Smart Passive Income as his blog name and it has become his own brand.
Abby Lawson from Just A Girl And Her Blog said this:
This is mostly just semantics and is not the end of the world, but if I were to go back to the beginning and do it again, I would have chosen a different blog name. Not only is there an absolutely incredible home decor blog out there with a very similar name that I wasn’t aware of at the time (sorry Chris!), but now that Donnie and I really blog as a team, the name “Just a Girl and Her Blog” doesn’t really fit. – Abby Lawson
That is why it’s important to pick a name that you love, that you can hold on to for a long time, close to your niche, and has the potential to become a brand later on.
3 – Consider Your Budget
Do you have the budget to invest in your blog? Some might not want to spend a dime. You need to decide whether you want to use a free service (if you don’t mind limitations!) or invest some money into creating your blog (total freedom!).
How much you need to invest depends on how you want to grow your blog. While creating a blog using WordPress is free, you still need to pay for your web hosting and domain name registration. You can find free themes and plugins but some require a one-time purchase or monthly/yearly commitments to use their full features.
Professional themes are usually quite expensive so you need to take this into consideration. Some theme developers allow a one-time purchase but some require you to become their member with a monthly payment commitment to use their theme. You could always find free ones but you might find an absolutely perfect theme for your blog that comes with a price. Also, paid themes always come with awesome features and support.
This happened to me when I was setting up my online store. I’ve browsed hundreds of free themes but none fit my needs. I found one perfect theme for it but it cost $48 at Theme Forest. It was exactly what I need so I had to get it no matter what.
4 – Choose A Blogging Platform
Some beginners might find having their own blog in their own domain to be too technical or pricey. It could get overwhelming. No worries. You could always start with free blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr. They’re basic with limitations. You won’t have a nice domain name (but you could always buy one if you want).
Your URL would look something like http://yourname.blogger.com.
Good for a personal blog, but if you want to look professional, you need a domain name.
If you’ve never blogged before, it’s best to start the basic and try to get the hang of it. When you’re ready, you could always add a domain name later and redirect to your free blog, or purchase a web hosting.
If you want to use WordPress, there are two types. .COM and .ORG
.COM is a free version similar to Blogger or Tumblr. Once registered, you could start using it instantly without the need to install it anywhere.
.ORG is the version you need to download and install to your website (web hosting plan required).
5 – Domain Name
Pick a domain name that’s easy to remember, sounds professional, unique, and closely related to your niche. Remember point #2, pick a name that you want to have for a long time and has the potential to become your brand.
NEVER pick something like www.johndoe11121948.com.
DO NOT make it too long like www.iwanttomakemoneyusingmyblogandbecomeamillionaire.com. Nobody will ever remember that. Heck, nobody would ever click that.
DO NOT make it sound spammy like www.BuySamsung40InchTv.cc. This used to be common practice years ago where people would buy domain names using keywords they want to rank in search engine. It’s frowned upon Your site will be penalized by Google and deemed spammy.
Also, stick with the most common top-level domain extension e.g. *.com
6 – Decide On A Web Hosting Company
It’s best to compare a few web hosting and their plans/features before deciding. That way you would know which hosting company has the features that you really need for your blog.
7 – Register Your Blog/Domain Name
But you could also use separate services such as GoDaddy to register your domain name. You will need to edit the DNS settings later once you’ve registered for web hosting.
8 – Install WordPress
If you use the free version hosted at wordpress.com, then you don’t have to worry about installing it to your server.
If you have registered your domain name and chosen your web hosting company, you need to install WordPress yourself. I’m sure most hosting services offer easy installation method. I haven’t used anything else so I can’t really compare.
If you register with Dreamhost, there’s an option to install WordPress automatically.
Dreamhost also offers 1-click install. You can easily install your WordPress in just a few minutes. They also have Dreampress.
Dreampress is a managed WordPress hosting that Dreamhost offers. You don’t have to do anything. They will take care of your WordPress for you. This is highly recommended for those who don’t know or don’t have the time to handle WordPress. It’s slightly different than normal shared web hosting plan because it focuses on hosting WordPress only.
9 – Customize Theme, Settings & Add Plugins
After you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to customize it. There are a lot of free and paid WordPress themes to choose from.
One of my favorite websites to purchase high-quality WordPress themes is ThemeForest. I mentioned above that I’m using one of their themes for my online store (running Opencart).
10 – Write Your Post
After your blog is all set up, it’s time to write your article. The longer your article is, the better. Make it around 1000-3000 words.
Be consistent. If you plan to publish one blog post a week, then stick to it. You also want quality over quantity. But if you could post one quality article per day, why not? It’s possible. I’ve seen some people do it.
11 – Create Visuals
A post with just plain text is boring, doesn’t it? You need some graphics!
You can find royalty free stock photos (requires a license so you need to purchase) or free stock photos (no copyright restrictions) then edit them yourself by using programs like Adobe Photoshop (advanced) or use free tools online such as Canva or PicMonkey (beginner-friendly).
12 – Proofread, Edit & Publish Your Post
A few typos or grammar mistakes are fine. But if your entire article is laden with mistakes, it’ll hurt your credibility and professionalism. Be sure to read your article a few times, even better if you could read it out loud, and publish only when you’re satisfied with it. Know how to differentiate common mistakes such as there/their/they’re or you/your/you’re and when to use them.
Or you could use Grammarly, an automated proofreader/grammar checker.
It’s available as a browser extension, for MS Office, and for Mac OS. It’s one of my favorite tools to use and it has been a huge help. It’s also free to use.
13 – Start Sharing To Social Media
When you’ve published your article, promote it like crazy to your social media sites and start getting visitors.
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