It’s not an exaggeration to say that starting a blog changed the entire trajectory of my life. And many of you have expressed interest in exploring this as a hobby or maybe even as a side hustle. So with that in mind if you’re looking to start a blog, here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to get started today. You can have a blog up and running in just a few hours, even if your tech skills are limited.
Why Start a Blog
Before you get started creating your blog, you'll want to take some time and figure out why you’re looking to start a blog in the first place Having a ‘why’ behind your blog can help when it comes to choosing a name, theme, topic, and the positioning of potential affiliates. Also, the ‘why’ behind your blog will help you determine who your ideal reader is.
Here are some of the primary reasons people start blogs.
Some blogs exist purely to act as a form of journaling. Some individuals find it cathartic to put their thoughts into words and share them. And, in some cases, the blogger behind the blog remains anonymous to create even more comfort when sharing their personal thoughts and feelings.
Blogs are amazing for educating a specific audience on a given topic. Blogs posts vary in style, but those that are informational or ‘how-to’ in nature, help their audiences learn more about a given topic, or specifically show them how to do something.
Some people are blown away when they learn that blogs are great for earning money. For some, blogs are much more than a hobby, in some cases, blogs are full-blown businesses. Not only do big blogs earn plenty of money, but they can also be sold for big sums of money too. While your goal doesn’t need to be to make loads of money, it can be fun to aim for some level of monetization.
Related: 4 Ways To Monetize A Blog
For those with another primary business, a blog is a great secondary method of building credibility within an industry. While you might have a business presence through LinkedIn or other social channels, a blog is a space to share what you know about your field of expertise–whether it’s cooking, decorating, personal finance, investing, cars, etc.
Getting Started–The Nuts And Bolts To Your New Blog
Once you know what your goals are for the blog you can begin creating it. To do so you will need three basic things:
- Domain: This is your “.com” and how people find you, for example ChooseFI.com
- Host: This is where your files are stored, for example Siteground.
- Blogging Platform: This is the framework of your blog. It provides the content management system and design, for example WordPress.
It's important to know that some services offer the blogging platform and host in one. These are sites like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. Even WordPress has it own in-house hosting service. While these services make it easy to get started we don't recommend them. They have limited flexibility which means you will quickly outgrow them. And your content is often trapped on that service. If you decide to leave you likely will not be able to take your content with you.
Choose Your Topic/Niche
Your blog topic should be something specific. Get started by starting with a broad topic and narrowing down as you go. For example, those in the personal finance space could blog about all personal finance topics–like debt, savings, investing, real estate; while other blogs choose to be more specific. For example, someone might focusing exclusively on paying off debt.
Your blog will require plenty of your attention so it’s best to choose a topic you feel passionate about. Your chosen topic should be one where you could already imagine endless article topics.
Choose Your Domain
The domain, if you’re unfamiliar, is the web-address or URL for a website. A domain is usually www.example.com. Domain names can include .ca, .net., .org but we recommend getting a *.com address if at all possible
While it’s easy to get hung up on choosing a name for your blog, it’s not worth delaying the launch over the perfect name. Recall companies like Uber, Skype and Google. You wouldn’t have known the purpose of their businesses just by their name–and yet, they are massive success stories. When brainstorming a name, work to keep the name relatively short, simple to spell, and something unique. Start with five potential names.
It’s not worth getting too hung up on any one name, as you’ll need to see which of the names you’ve brainstormed are available through your host.
Keep in mind, if you buy your domain at the same place you are going to host your site, you save yourself the trouble of moving it to your new host. However, moving it is possible, so if you already own a domain at one site you are not forced to host it there.
Choose a Web Host
The hosting service is where you site lives. If you are starting out I would recommend taking a look at Siteground. Siteground is an easy-to-use web host, with plans starting from as little as $3.95 per month. It is by far the best value for a new blogger. They also have great customer service and plenty of opportunities to scale as your brand grows.
The host ensures that your website is accessible 24/7, that it can handle multiple visitors, that it can’t be hacked and so on.
While free hosts are available, paid hosts offer premium features which are highly recommended such as enhanced security, email addresses, and back-up services. A paid host will allow and support high volume traffic.
Choose Your Blogging Platform
As far as we are concerned there is only one choice here–Wordpress. You will get WordPress through your host. Set up your domain and host first, then add WordPress to your site via the host.
WordPress may appear complicated but it has endless templates and plug-ins, including the best potential for selling online. Also, with an almost cult-like following, the WordPress community has endless discussion forums where nearly any question has an answer. Think about this, 25% of the internet is built using WordPress. There is plenty of help out there if you have questions.
We use WordPress and would recommend it for you as well.
Choose a Template
Templates often offer a stylish color palette, and, in some cases, are geared towards the intention of the website. WordPress has a near unlimited number of paid and free themes; and even, themes intended for bloggers, restaurateurs, creative services, etc. Choosing a more specific theme, like those for bloggers can enhance the user experience saving you time in the form of optimization and formatting. You don’t need to find the perfect template on day one, in fact, experimenting with different free options could be a good strategy.
The Bottom Line
Too many would-be bloggers fail to start blogs because of paralysis by analysis or perfectionism. Don’t get hung up on the perfect theme, template, font, or color. The most successful bloggers just get started and adjust as they go. Successful blogging requires constant iteration and adjustment, but it doesn’t have to happen before you get started or overnight. The biggest regret of most bloggers is that they didn’t get started sooner. So, carve out some time, be willing to make mistakes, and take action.