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How to Start a Blog for Beginners
So you’re thinking of starting a blog! That’s great!
But where do you begin? There are a million tips online and every blogger tells you to do something different. What’s right and what’s wrong?
I know, I’ve been there. You’re head is spinning and you wish someone would just sit you down and tell you step-by-step what you need to do.
And after two years of blogging and many mistakes and successes later, I am here to do the hand-holding you’ve been looking for!
But, before we get to how to start a blog, let’s get why you should start a blog!
Unless you already know all the great reasons why you should start. In that case, if you’re just interested in what it takes to start a blog, feel free to just skip this part!
WHY SHOULD YOU START A BLOG
There are so many reasons why you should start a blog!
-Make money working from home. Either as a side job or a full-time gig!
-Start as a hobby
-To share your story
-Because you love writing or teaching people
If you’re thinking about it, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, check out this blog post here to convince yourself to start! Then you can jump back here and learn how to set it up!
One more thing before we start, this is going to be a long in-depth post so get comfy, grab your favorite drink and get ready to take some notes!
WHAT WE’RE GOING TO COVER:
1. Choosing a platform for your blog
2. Choosing a web host for your blog
3. Choosing a domain name
4. Installing WordPress
5. Choosing a theme
6. Writing your first post
This blog post is going to cover the more technical side of blogging. If you’d like to go more in-depth with everything that it takes to get started, I’ll be linking helpful posts throughout!
I also have this free email course that goes over everything you need to do from finding your why, choosing your niche and writing your first blog posts! You can sign up right here:
Now, finally, let’s get into starting a blog!
1. CHOOSING A PLATFORM FOR YOUR BLOG
Before you choose what platform you are going to use, you have to decide if you are going to be self-hosted or if you’re going to use a free blogging platform.
-WHAT DOES SELF-HOSTED MEAN?
Self-hosting is when you pay a third-party server to host your blog.
I know, super unhelpful, right?
Basically, that means that you pay a hosting company (I use Namecheap) to host your blog on the internet, and then you download WordPress onto your hosting company to start your blog.
It’s pretty confusing, I know.
So, if you were to use WordPress.com, (a Freemuim site) you don’t have to do this. You can easily set up a blog through this service, but there are downfalls to doing this as well.
This guide here probably can explain it better to you than I can!
-CAN’T I JUST BLOG FOR FREE?
Yes, technically you can. However, I don’t recommend this way of blogging. If you’d like to read more in-depth reasons feel free to check out this post on frequently asked blogger questions to learn more!
Briefly, though, the reasons you don’t want to use a free blogging platform are:
-Lack of features
-Switching can be a hassle
-You don’t own your blog
-Limited money-making options
–WHERE CAN I START A BLOG?
There are a ton of blogging platforms out there like Wix, Blogger, and WordPress. The platform you will see recommended the most is WordPress (It’s the one I recommend as well!)
In fact, WordPress powers 35% of the internet in 2020, and over 400 million people visit WordPress sites each month! (Source)
So a good place to start would be WordPress!
There are two versions of WordPress, and this is where it can get confusing.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
–WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
In short, WordPress .com is the “free” version with some paid upgrades available. And in my opinion, it’s just not worth it.
Trust me, I’ve had both the totally free version and upgraded to a business plan as well! It’s a waste of money if you’re looking to start your own blogging business!
This is the version I currently have and I LOVE IT! I didn’t realize how much I was missing and why my blog didn’t look like everyone else’s blog until I made the switch. It’s worth it just to start with this option.
2. WHERE TO HOST YOUR BLOG
To make it less confusing, I’m going to continue on this blog post like you’ve chosen WordPress.org (which you should!).
Next what you need to do is decide where to host your blog.
There are a lot of hosting companies out there, but the one that I most recommend is Namecheap. I’ve used them since the beginning and have had no complaints!
This is generally what you want to look for in a hosting company (and what I got with Namecheap!)
-Inexpensive hosting (depends on your budget of course!)
-Fast website load time
-Great customer service
With Namecheap, it costs $3.88 a month for hosting, (Which works out to be $46.56 a year) and you can get your first month for $1 using my link!
Personally, I went with $22.88 a year (Which saves you $23.68 a year!) to save some money. You can’t beat their prices!
3. CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME
Okay, so you bought your hosting now you need to figure out what to call your blog? This is something that I cover in my email course, but you can also check out this blog post here where I talk about how to pick out the perfect blog name!
I’ll give you the overview here though!
1. Take your time
You don’t want to rush and choose and name that you’ll later hate! Rebranding and changing your domain name will be a hassle!
2. Make it easy to remember!
You want people to remember your blog name. Make it catchy, not too long and not too hard to spell. You don’t want people struggling to type in your website link!
3. Avoid special characters and try to avoid numbers
This just makes your name hard to remember and numbers look unprofessional!
4. Use your name
If you have a lifestyle blog, you might consider using your own name or a nickname! Many people have done this and it’s worked out well!
5. Make sure your blog name is available!
This is the last step. When you register with Namecheap, you can actually check to see if your domain name will be available for free before you buy!
If your name is taken, Namecheap will give you suggestions to use instead!
4. INSTALLING WORDPRESS
Most, if not all, hosting companies have one-click install for WordPress. (I know for sure Namecheap has this option!)
If you have any trouble figuring this out, the support staff at your hosting company should be able to answer any questions you have!
Once WordPress is installed, you should be able to go to https://www.YOURDOMAINNAMEHERE.com/wp-admin/ to access the admin side of your site.
IMPORTANT: make sure to bookmark this page for easy access! You’ll be coming back to it often!
This is where you can write your first posts, approve comments, install plugins, change your theme and more!
5. CHOOSING A THEME
-WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU CHOOSE A THEME
It’s a good idea to have your niche and brand figured out before you decide on a theme.
Again, these are covered in my How to Start a Blog email course, but you can also check out these blog posts for more information as well!
Once that’s all done you have the choice between a free and paid theme. And of course, there are pros and cons to each.
Personally, I’ve tried both paid and free and I have to say paid is the way to go. But, we’ll look at the pros and cons and you can decide what’s best for you!
-It’s free. You don’t have to worry about wasting your money
-Easy to install. One-click and you’re done!
-There is a lot to choose from
-You’ll likely end up changing a lot because it doesn’t fit your brand (I know I did!)
-They just don’t look as good. You’ll find yourself wanting to look like to other professional bloggers and you just can’t do that with a free theme!
-Find one that perfectly represents your brand
-Won’t change the theme as often
I find you look harder and think more about themes when you pay for them. Once there is something to lose you pay more attention to what you’re looking for!
-More professional look and feel
-More customization options
-The creator might be able to install it for you! I did that with my current theme. I had to pay for it, but it saved me a huge headache and I know it’s installed right!
-You have to pay for it. If you don’t like it, you have to buy it again!
-Harder to install. You have to follow the directions to creator gave you- no one-click install!
-WHERE TO BUY BLOG THEMES
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want to buy a theme or not. If you do decide to buy a theme though, my favorite places to go are Etsy and Creative market!
When I bought my theme, the creator had an option to install it for me, which is a good thing to look for or ask about! I had to pay for it but it saved me so much time in the end!
6. BEGIN WRITING YOUR FIRST POSTS
And that’s it! Your blog is up and running!
This is just a brief overview of just strictly the technical side of starting your blog, but after this, you can begin writing!
I have a lot of resources here on the blog and sent out in my email list weekly if you’re looking for any more help in your blogging journey!
Looking to write your first post? READ NEXT
And that’s it! We’ve made it to the end of the post! I’ve been putting off this post for so long because I knew it was going to be super in-depth but I’m glad I wrote it finally!
I hope this blog post has been somewhat helpful to you!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them down below or email me at [email protected]! I’d be happy to help you if I can!