Do you want to learn how to start a blog?
Starting a blog is not complicated at all, and we’re here to assure you that creating a successful blog is not as daunting as many people think.
In fact, by following the step-by-step instructions in this guide you will be able to set up your own blog, avoiding pitfalls and missteps that hinder some novices (no technical skills needed).
Ready? Let’s get to it!
What you need to know before you start a blog
This section provides background information to help you understand the basics of blogging. We also describe a number of different benefits of blogging, how to choose your niche and blogging topic.
What is a blog?
A blog (shortened from the phrase “weblog”) is known as many things—a digital magazine, diary, newscast, collector’s meeting place, a showcase for your art, information sharing, teaching hub, place to learn and…well, almost anything you want it to be. A typical blog combines text, images, videos and links to relevant pages and media on the Web. Blog readers can leave comments and communicate with the author. In fact, dialogue and interaction are a popular part of a blog’s success.
The benefits of blogging
Become a better writer and thinker
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Once you start blogging, you’ll find yourself becoming a better writer and thinker. Mastering content takes creative thought. When you become immersed in creating great pieces of content for your blog, your writing, thinking and research skills improve in the process.
Establish yourself as an expert
Blogs are wonderful tools to help people establish themselves as experts in a field or niche. We all have some kind of interest and expertise to share with others. If you’re able to produce great content on your blog and/or have a unique point of view on the topic, then be assured that your future audience will recognize it and reward you for it. With a bit of effort, you too can become an authority in your area of interest.
Increase your self-confidence
The more involved you become with blogging, the more your creative juices will flow. That’s one reason why blogging is so popular. As you gain knowledge about your topic, the confidence you build in your followers and most importantly, in yourself, will soar. All of this leads to increased creativity. Keep an open mind and enjoy your new-found confidence in your own abilities!
Make friends and have fun
With practice and a little effort, you can easily build your base of blog fans and followers. As you become known as an expert in your niche, you can inspire, encourage and help your followers make a difference in their own lives. Along your blogging journey, you will make new friends and connections throughout the world. If you like to travel, that means a lot of couches are available for you to snooze on while winging your way around the globe!
Make money from your blog
Blogging may well become your passion but you can also make money with your blog. In fact, many authority bloggers are able to make a living from blogging. There are many ways to monetize your blog. You can place ads and receive compensation from companies by promoting their products and services. Or you can sell your own digital products and merchandise.
FirstSiteGuide has negotiated a special hosting deal with Bluehost for our visitors.
For only $2.95 per month, you can have your blog setup in less than an hour. You will also receive a free domain name as a bonus.
How to choose a perfect niche
Before you create your own blog and move forward to become a successful blogger try to attain the highest form of knowledge in the niche/topic of your choice. So pick the one that appeals to you—the one you are passionate about and most interested in. Aspire for success, happiness, security and recognition. By choosing your niche of interest and having your own point of view you’ll be able to position and differentiate your blog from the competition.
Brainstorm to find your topic
Following is a process that can help you determine which niche is best for you:
Make a list of your interests or hobbies. Which topics fascinate you? List them all, for instance: golf, fishing, yoga, playing games or cooking.
Next, list accomplishments you are proud of, such as musical talent, artistic talent or sports achievements.
Now, list difficulties you have overcome or defeated, such as: losing a significant amount of weight, recovering from a financial setback or managing a disease.
During the course of this exercise, you will get a better feeling for the topics that resonate with you. The ones you are most passionate about are the best candidates for your niche. Read this article on How to choose a niche for more information.
Five easy steps to starting a blog:
- Choose a blogging platform
- Pick a domain name
- Get a web hosting account
- Install blogging software and set up a blog
- Select a blog design and layout
Choose a blogging platform
At this stage, you’ll need to determine the type of blog management platform/tool you want to use. We recommend that you set up your blog on one of the self-hosted platforms. But before you make the decision, let us describe each option.
When it comes to starting your blog you have the following options: free, freemium and self-hosted (recommended) platforms.
Top in Blog usage in the United States
For many new bloggers, the availability of free blogging platforms such as Blogger or Tumblr is tempting. Of course, there is one big benefit, it’s free. But you need to understand that having a blog name in this form—yourname.blogspot.com or yourname.tumblr.com, is the sign of an inexperienced beginner who likely won’t be taken seriously.
By keeping your blog on a free platform, you let the platform own your name. You’ll be subject to their rules and restrictions, they may limit or prohibit ads on your blog, or they may even place their own ads on your blog. If you’re serious about blogging, you’ll want to move away from this option.
Freemium means you’ll have a trial period before you have to start paying (costs vary from $5 to $30 per month). Several platforms are available. One of the most popular is TypePad. This platform focuses on ease of use for writing, but customization options are limited and it lacks certain features of value to bloggers.
By default, your TypePad blog name will look like this: yourname.typepad.com. It’s not always the best option if you’re trying to build the name and brand for your blog. However you could point your own domain (purchased through any domain registrar) to a TypePad blog.
Self-hosted platforms allow you to run a blog on your own domain. Aside from following your domain registrar and web hosting company’s rules, you’re fully in charge of your blog and its contents.
You have number of choices when it comes to a self-hosted blog system (also called Content Management System or CMS). The most popular is WordPress.org.
This blog option is called self-hosted because you will use your own web hosting space and name for your blog. It normally costs $4 to $8 per month for the web space (hosting account), depending on the company you choose, and $12 to $15 per year for the name (domain). The actual CMS is usually open-source and free.
Although we mentioned some free blog-hosting options, the best course of action is to own your blog, especially if you will be using your own copyrighted material (articles, drawings, photos, etc.). Pay a small amount of money every month, about the same as a Starbucks coffee, and you will build your own equity. If you plan to sell products, services, music or anything else via your blog, then paid hosting is the best way to go. Many hosting providers can help you maintain an ecommerce blog.
blogging experts we’ve surveyed
To get your new self-hosted blog started, you need to decide on two important things: a domain name and a web hosting provider. We highly recommend Bluehost that powers over 2 million websites worldwide and only for our visitors, they offer a special deal that includes a FREE domain name.
Pick a domain name
Your domain name will be the name by which you will be known online, no matter what niche you choose. It’s the unique address of your blog on the Internet. Your domain will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee ($10 to $15 for a .com domain).
Users who know your domain/URL (uniform resource locator) can simply type it into their browser’s address bar. Others will be able to discover your blog through search engines such as Google and Bing, so you definitely need to find a unique moniker.
Your domain name may be the highly popular “dot com” or it may be country or niche specific. From .us (United Sates) to .co.uk (United Kingdom) and from .guru (yes, for life coaches) to .sport (for sports related domains), these top level domains (TLDs) are added to any domain name in order to point to their location. The general rule is to go for a “dot com” domain, but some of the other extensions can work. For example “dot net” or “dot me.”
In the end, it’s about being memorable, so if a different extension or country code helps you be memorable, then break the rules!
Get a web hosting account
After choosing a domain name, selecting reliable hosting services will be one of the most important decisions you make. To a great extent, the functionality and performance of your blog will depend on your hosting provider. The host makes sure your blog is available 24/7 to potential readers and it’s where your files are stored online.
Most hosting companies also offer domain registration services. Some people keep their domain name with the registrar company, separate from the hosting account. We recommend keeping it all under your hosting account for hassle-free management and maintenance.
The wrong web host can cause many problems with your blog. Just imagine choosing a mobile company that has no reception. Your web host is a major piece of the puzzle to maintaining a successful blog, therefore, it’s crucial that you choose a reliable provider.
Install blogging software and set up a blog
Now it’s time to get your domain name and web hosting account, and create your new blog. Bellow you will find our recommended hosting provider—Bluehost. We were able to negotiate a special price only for FirstSiteGuide visitors, so feel free to use it. Also, if you get stuck, we included step by step instructions to help you with the process.
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Step by step blog set up instructions
This section provides detailed information to help you signup for web hosting account and set up a WordPress blog. We also included screenshots of the pages that you need to go through.
Use this link to get the special deal from Bluehost. Then click the “Get Started Now” button.
You should start by selecting your plan. If this is your very first one, you should go with the basic one – at least until you explore your options. The one called plus should be able to cover all your needs once you get your blog going, and you should consider the pro version once your popularity skyrockets.
Your domain name has an important say when it comes to the future success of your blog, so you should take your time to come up with something new. Just type in a desired domain in this “new domain” box and BlueHost will show you whether it’s available or not. If not, it will provide you with a list of similar names for you to choose from.
After you pick out your domain name, BlueHost will take you to the registration page where it will be required from you to fill in your personal info including the billing data. A couple of minutes is all you need.
Pay additional attention to your hosting options. Obviously, the 12 month package has the lowest price, but the other two are great when you want to make a long term investment. You can feel free to uncheck the rest of the boxes – you can always get them later when you find them necessary.
After you enter your payment information, you’re ready to set your password which will be used for account verification purposes.
After successfully creating your new password you will be able to login to your account.
Once you login to your account, you are now able to choose one of the default WordPress themes for your new blog, provided by Bluehost. Keep in mind that you can always pick another theme from a WordPress.org repository.
After picking a theme of your choice you are now ready to create your new blog by logging in into the WordPress dashboard.
Once you login into your WordPress dashboard you will be prompted with the “Welcome” message and you can choose to accept the help provided by BlueHost for selecting the type of website you are about to create. Or, you can always do it on your own.
If you click on the Bluehost button in the left hand corner, you will see the page with various tools which are designed to help you create your new site. You can easily launch your site by clicking the “Launch” button and be seen online within minutes.
After clicking the “Launch” button, you will just need to fill the two most important fields for your site. The title and description, which will tell your future visitors what is your site all about.
Now your new site is ready for launch!
If something is still unclear, perhaps our step-by-step video will be helpful when making your own WordPress blog, so check it out.
Should you need any help with the setup process, we will be happy to assist you, free of charge. Just contact us.
Select a blog design and layout
The first thing your blog’s front end needs is a face (design and layout). You want to create an environment that is both eye-catching and practical. In the long run, you want your visitors to easily find information on your blog. You don’t want visitors to be discouraged by the colors you choose or the non-intuitive and unpractical way in which information is displayed. Your design can cause instant distrust of your blog or instant acceptance.
Start your search for a theme as soon as your WordPress platform is installed. The look and feel of your blog relies on the theme you choose. Your readers will first notice the overall appearance of the blog, before even taking a look at the content. Choose a theme that looks great, but also works for your unique content needs. The default theme that comes with your
WordPress blog installed is Twenty Seventeen—while it’s a good starter theme, you’ll want to choose a theme that is more unique to your blog and compatible with your niche.
Here’s a quick checklist for choosing your theme by searching within blog dashboard:
- 1. Read the description
Most themes come with a short description of features and functionality. By reading it, you should have a rough idea if the theme matches your needs and how customizable it is.
- 3. Preview the theme
Preview the theme to get an idea of the overall look and layout.
- 2. Check the ratings
Popular themes will have star ratings that are visible in the preview and under theme details. They should give you a clear idea how good the theme is.
- 4. Check for responsiveness
Aim for a responsive design that will work on desktop browsers and mobile devices. This is recommended by Google.
If you find a theme that takes your breath away, cool down. Once you install a theme you like, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t look quite right. Your theme is just a skeleton of your blog.To make it appealing, you’ll have to fill in content (text, photos, videos, etc.). Earlier, we showed you how to add content to your blog.
Free, premium, and custom themes
For many visionary novice bloggers, the world is not enough. The stash of free themes (more than two thousand themes are available on wordpress.org) does not satisfy their particular desire for look and feel. There are two other options you can take a look at, premium and custom themes. But they incur a cost, sometimes a tiny one, at other times a huge amount.
For the most part, it’s hard to choose the right theme from such a wide variety. At FirstSiteGuide, we’re doing our best to make that process easier for you.
Premium themes are created by both single developers and dedicated showcase websites. Top sources for premium themes that are worth checking include StudioPress, Elegant Themes, Themefuse, Thesis, WooThemes, Cssigniter Themes and ThemeForest. The price range for a single-use licenses ranges from $30 to $500, depending on which premium theme you choose.
Prospective revenue from usage of a WordPress theme from ThemeForest
Breakdown by amount earned
Custom themes are created by an individual developer (coder and designer, or agency) who will either customize an existing theme or create a brand new theme for you. While coming with clear-cut advantages, they are not the ideal choice for beginner bloggers due to their high cost. Prices to customize a theme range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the features you want.
Examples of good free and premium themes
Based on our experience, we recommend the following free and premium themes for new bloggers.
You can find different premium themes online from the resources mentioned earlier. We recommend you to check the themes series from StudioPress. Their services and support are top notch and all of their themes are highly customizable. Here are three themes that are suited for the blog:
Installing and setting up your new theme are steps that will give you the thrill of empowerment at the same time confirming what a good choice it was to go for WordPress as your blog management system.
Congratulations! Now you have your own domain name, hosting space and your blog is set up. Next, you will need to get familiar with the WordPress dashboard, learn how to make desired changes to your blog, start your content creation and promotion in order to become a successful blogger.