How To Start A Blog

start a blog

There are many ways to start a blog and the process can be frustrating and tedious, but I am here to break down a few ways that you can easily start your first blog.

STEP 1: DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE A FREELANCER

If you are slightly tech savvy, you can start a blog yourself or request the services of a freelancer. If you don’t know anyone personally or through your social networks, try Fiverr or Upwork. 

STEP 2: CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME

You will need a domain name for your website or blog. Choose something which is easy to spell and remember. It’s a bonus if your domain is catchy or clever in your niche. Don’t stress too much though, you can change your domain name in future by pointing your old URL to a new domain name. So when people search the name you initially started out with, they will be transferred to your new site.

Find out if your preferred domain name is available or try this domain name generator. 

STEP 3: DOMAIN REGISTRATION AND WEB HOSTING

For this step, we recommend using Bluehost. You can read a full review of this company here.

Domain Registration

Domain registration is billed on an annual basis and is relatively inexpensive. Costs will vary depending on whether you are purchasing a .com, .net, .org and so on. It is advisable to use .com as it is considered a top-level domain name in the Domain Name System (DNS) of the internet. The company who will manage domain registration for you is called a domain registrar. According to our research, it may/may not be advisable that you register your domains independently from your web-hosting, which I will cover in a moment. It is important to note that if you do not auto-renew your domain registration (allow your registrar to renew your domain name automatically) your name can expire. Some registrars will sell expired domains at exorbitant prices, so make sure you stay up to date!

Web-Hosting

When your domain name is registered, you can go on to purchase a hosting package. You will make use of a web hosting service/company which allows you to make your website accessible via the world wide web. Your web host may also be your domain registrar. Your website will be hosted on their server. A lot of the blogging experts recommend Bluehost because their customer service and technical support is available 24 hours a day.  You can purchase this service using PayPal or a credit card. It is important to note that Blue Host fees are payable annually and not on a monthly basis.

Other recommended hosts are Hostgator, Dream Host and In Motion Hosting. Your hosting package will also determine the amount of space, email accounts and add-on features you have access to so choose wisely!

If you would like to qualify for a special offer on your web hosting, click below to receive discounts from your preferred host:

 

If you will be signing up with Bluehost, here are a few quick instructions to set up your account within minutes.

 

 Visit Bluehost and click “get started now”.

 

 Select your plan, the “basic” plan is okay if you are just starting out.

 

If you sign up with Bluehost, your domain registration will be free for the first year. Enter your desired domain name and click “next”. 

 

Fill in your personal information and checkout using your credit card or PayPal account. Remember to make sure that you uncheck any boxes for services you do not need.  At the end of this process, you will be prompted to create a password for your new Bluehost account.

 

STEP 4: CHOOSING A BLOG PLATFORM

There are many blogging platforms to choose from, but I recommend WordPress because it is super user-friendly and easy to optimise for search engines! Whether you use Blogger or Wix or WordPress, almost everyone starts out with a free account. This usually comes without the custom domain name and any fancy features. When it comes to WordPress however, there are two options to choose from.

A) WordPress.com

WordPress.com has free and paid options. Both sets come with limitations, so be careful to read what is included with the account you are interested in.  For example, free WordPress.com accounts will allow you to use affiliate links,  but do not allow banner image ads or third-party advertising like Google Adsense. Some paid plans do not allow you to install plugins, which is often critical to customising your site to your preference. If you decide on a WordPress.com site and select the free option, your domain name will end with wordpress.com and you will not need to purchase hosting. You can also opt to register your domain name with WordPress.com and select one of their paid plans for hosting.

B) WordPress.org

The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.Org is that WordPress.Org is self-hosted. You purchase your domain and hosting package outside of WordPress, and only use WordPress as a blogging platform. Check out this great infographic that gives a detailed explanation of the differences between the two sites. If you desire to grow your website at all, and on your own terms, choose WordPress.org, quite a number of options you will need to pay for on WordPress.com, come free with standard hosting from most web hosts. Here is a great video that uses screenshots to explain the entire process of starting a blog on WordPress.

C) Blogger & Other Blogging Platforms

I started out with Blogger years ago, and I really enjoyed it for the following reasons:

  • It is very easy to set up a blog and start posting
  • It is free unless you want to remove blogspot.com at the end of your web address (for example, when I first started my blog the web address was thenaturalfashionista.blogspot.com but I wanted a more professional web address, so I purchased the domain name thenaturalfashionista.com)
  • Very simple design templates that you can automatically install on your website
  • You can use banner image ads and third-party advertising networks like Google Adsense

Here is a video tutorial on how to start a blog with Blogger.  You may also find this screenshot tutorial useful. The reasons that I decided to leave Blogger and go to WordPress.org is because I wanted more flexibility with my site design, the option to use great plugins, and I wanted ownership of my site.  Blogger is an amazing platform if you are just starting out and want to start blogging immediately.  Ultimately you are going to have to decide which blogging platform will work for you based on the goals that you have set for your blog. You may also research platforms such as Wix and Squarespace.  I’ve linked to articles which compare both platforms to WordPress so that you have a well-rounded idea of how they perform.

STEP FIVE: INSTALLATION

Free versions of most blogging platforms do not require any installation. You simply create an account, pick your name and start designing your website or blog. A self-hosted WordPress site will require a WordPress installation. This is what a freelancer can help you with, or what you will do yourself after you have registered your domain and purchased your hosting plan. In your Bluehost profile or any other hosting account,  you will have an option to install WordPress. You will enter your domain name, and a few other particulars about your site, such as the site description. You should also receive an option to send your installation details to an email account which you own. This will include the username and password you use to log in to your website or blog as well as the login URL.

If you are using Bluehost, follow this guide on how to install WordPress.

 

STEP FIVE: DESIGN

Login to your website or blog using the credentials you used when installing WordPress.  When you are in, you can navigate to your dashboard and select Appearance > Themes and install a theme of your liking. A theme is a visual layout which will apply to your entire site once installed. You have the option to choose from free themes (the WordPress theme directory offers a variety of free themes that you can use for your blog) or premium themes which can range from $39 and up. If you prefer something smart from the get-go, visit Creative Market or Etsy. Your next point of call is to populate the following:

  • Pages
  • Posts
  • Side Bars
  • Widgets
  • Plugins

Overwhelmed? Keep things simple and create an “about” page, and start working on your blog posts, you can design your dream site as you go along! You can also customize your theme to include your preferred color palette and your own logo, header and so on. Be very mindful that each theme is made different, so you may or may not be able to customize the bits and pieces that you really want to. You can also make changes to the appearance of your blog or website by using code or CSS. This is advanced and not recommended if you do not know what you are doing. By changing the code or CSS of your website, you will alter the appearance and functionality of your site, so it is always good to consult a pro or learn the basics before you experiment on an active blog. To guide you along this journey, have a visual reference of what you want your site to look like, namely, your favourite blog or someone else’s website, and implement all the elements above to achieve the style you are going for.

I hope you find this post helpful in starting your first blog.  You are welcome to join the Blog With Kim Mastermind group for additional tips on how to start and design your first blog!