Start a Blog in 6 Easy Steps
There are many reasons you might consider it. Here are a few popular ones:
- Make money while working from home. I make a full-time income blogging and many others do the same. Making money with a blog is hard work, but the barrier to entry is low, making it very low risk.
- Become a published author. It’s no secret. These days, publishers rarely work with authors who don’t have an online presence. The reason is simple: it’s a lot easier to sell books to people who already know you. A blog is one of the easiest places to start.
- Get more exposure for your existing business. A blog gives anyone–from individuals to large companies–the ability to reach a large number of people at very little cost.
- Just write. If you want to write, share your story, encourage others and build a community, a blog is a great place to do that.
Do you see yourself in any of those? Can you see how you would benefit from a blog? Let’s get you up and running!
Step 1: Decide what to blog about
If you’re part of a business, company or organization, this step will be easy to determine. Your blog should be related to the product(s) or service(s) you provide, or the cause you promote.
If you’re an individual, you have more flexibility with topic choice. Here are a few things to remember are:
- Blog about something with plenty of room for discussion. A blog requires a lot of content to get going and to remain interesting. You’ll be at this a while so make sure you have plenty to talk about.
- Blog about something you enjoy. If you don’t care about your topic, writing about it will be drudgery. Also, why would readers be interested if you aren’t?
- Choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority. You will probably not be the first person to blog about the topic you choose. It’s almost guaranteed someone else has thought of it before you. Don’t fret about this, but ask yourself if you have a reasonable chance at making your blog better than all the others in your niche.
Step 2: Choose a blogging platform
There are many services you can use to start a blog or website. You may be tempted to use a free service, but know you’ll be limited, and in some cases, quite severely. You get what you pay for, as they say. Using a paid-for service isn’t expensive. It’s a no-brainer in my opinion.
What is the best blogging platform?
Of the many blogging platforms out there, WordPress is, by far, the most popular. This is for good reason.
I use WordPress myself and appreciate its flexibility, functionality, ease of use and large community of people who share tools and ideas. It’s an excellent choice. And don’t worry, if you want a website without a blog, WordPress makes it easy.
Within WordPress, you have two options. People are often confused by the two so I’ll mention them here:
- Hosted WordPress blogs are often referred to as “WordPress.com blogs.”
- Self-hosted WordPress blogs are often referred to as “WordPress.org blogs.”
A self-hosted WordPress costs a little bit of money, but will give you much more control and flexibility. It’s absolutely what I recommend.
Step 3: Find a host
A host provides server space for your site. Put simply, when your site lives on a server (instead of on your personal computer on your desk), others can find your site on the internet. There are a wide variety of hosts for you to choose from. Again, my favorite is wordpress but there are many to choose from.
Select your plan
Choose the plan you’d like to start with based on the features that interest you most.
Note that all plans come with one free domain (for one year). Your domain is your web address. I’ll talk about choosing a domain in a minute.
If your budget is super tight, choose the Basic plan. You can upgrade at any time.
Step 4: Pick a domain name
Like I said, a domain is a web address. For example, ShawnaJohnsonspeaks.com is my domain. You may or may not already have a domain. To have an existing domain, you would have registered it with a domain registrar, like GoDaddy or NameCheap
On this screen you’ll either choose a brand new domain (left side) or enter a domain you registered previously (right side).
If you don’t have a domain, enter a new domain name on the left. (See tips for choosing a domain below). Make sure .com or the correct extension of your choice is selected from the drop down menu beside it.
If you’ve already registered a domain name, enter it on the right (don’t worry, it won’t mess things up if you’re using the domain elsewhere, this only identifies your account for now).
Tips for choosing a domain name:
- The goal is to make it easy to remember and easy to share!
- Go with a .com whenever possible. People always assume .com before other extensions like .net, .org, .co or others.
- Make it easy to say and spell.
- Don’t include hyphens, numbers, obscure terms or confusing strings of words.
- If you’re not sure what to use, your name is a safe bet to start.
- Be creative or try a phrase if you’re having trouble finding an available names
Step 5: Install WordPress
Start the WordPress install
Next you’ll get a window that looks something like this. Click the Continue Installation button (it may say “Start”) to begin the WordPress installation process.
Choose where to install WordPress
On the next screen, choose the domain you want to install WordPress on. If the domain you chose during signup doesn’t automatically appear, simply click “Domain” and you can select it from the list.
Leave the directory field blank unless you have a good reason to create a subfolder, which is unlikely if you are just starting. Click Next.
Step 6: Design & use your blog!
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site. If this article was helpful, consider sharing it with others who might appreciate it as well. For additional blogging tips visit me online at shawnajohnsonspeaks.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.