So let us say, you have defined your focus and you are ready to roll. Where do we start? How do I start a blog?
You need the following essentials when you start a blog.
- Domain name – this is the name of your site or blog. i.e. yoursite.com.
- Web Hosting – this is what makes your site online. more technical, where you will buy a part of the server where your site will live
- Blogging platform – service or software that enables users or authors to publish content onto the internet through blogging
Those are the 3 essentials you need to have. There are other resources you will be needing along the way but that is something you can decide on later. In this post, I will cover two other steps to start a blog.
Step 1: Register your Domain
Choose your site name
Before you start a blog, you should have a name you would like to call your site. That will be your domain name or what people use to search or type to any browser to access your site. This site’s domain is forthrd.com.
Choose a name that is unique and indicative of your niche. List down words to describe your niche or focus. Then try to add action words or adjectives.
Here is a great article I read about how to choose your domain or even business name.
Firstly, to warm up the engine, here is a brief example on how you can generate your domain. For instance, if you will blog about food, is there a specific ingredient or material that you will be working with mostly? Any favorite food? How do you describe that?
Then, mix and match with other words still related to your niche or the industry where your niche belongs. It can also be an activity. For instance, if you like baking and creating artistic toppers or sugar arts, it can be styled + baking. A great example is my go-to baking site Sally’s Baking Addiction. Another example is my Korean food reference My Korean Kitchen.
I suggest sit or sleep on it and not buy it right away. But don’t sit on it too long that you miss the chance to buy it because somebody has bought it. Try to ask your family and friends what they think of when they hear your site name. Don’t mention what your focus is yet. See if their feedback matches with your niche and focus.
Choose your Domain Registrant
If you read my Online Resource Hub, Namecheap is the domain registrant for forthrd.com. I like Namecheap because the interface when signing up is not bombarded with a lot of offers for add ons. It is easy to point to my hosting service, as well.
Here is the procedure on how to register with Namecheap.com.
- Search domain availability. You will be shown with a different extension for the chosen domain. i.e..COM, SPECIAL, ME used mostly for personal blogs.
- If you are fine with .COM extension, just click the shopping cart icon next to it.
- Click View Cart (shopping icon). You will be directed to your cart listing your domai
- After confirming the order, sign up for an account with Namecheap then choose your payment method.
- Once you have initiated your payment process, details of your billing, payment details, and order will be shown for the final review.
- One important setting you have to check is the Renewal Settings. Choose whatever is your preference.
- A success message will pop up once done with the purchase.
Step 2. Sign up with a hosting account
Hosting is where your site will be housed. Data files will be stored virtually through the hosting account’s data center. Basically, you are renting a portion of the server.
So now that you have registered your domain, the next step is to sign up with a hosting account for your blog.
Criteria in Choosing a Hosting Service
Speed and Security Features
Your hosting service plays a role in the success of your site or blog. Hosting service should be able to provide fast loading speed because search engines penalize sites that are slow.
We are talking about your site or blog here. Hosting service should have incredible, unbreakable security. When your site is breached, your hard work will just go to waste. Another thing to note here is the backup system and frequency. This will make sure you get the most updated version as much as possible.
Another critical criterion for me is customer support. The level, efficiency, and effectiveness of customer support are more important when choosing a hosting service more than when you choose a domain registrant. If your site is down, you need 24/7 support to troubleshoot and bring your site working again.
My site is hosted in Siteground. Somehow I have tested their customer support and so far, I am happy with them. I have encountered that white-screen-of-death otherwise known as coding-error. Siteground’s customer support helped me sort it out.
Pricing is a great deal too when choosing your hosting service. Compare the total package, year-on-year and not just the first year package. Among the features that you have to watch out for are the number of domains and sub-domains allowed, the number of emails, and security features.
Additional note: If you want to start a blog but not a self-hosted one, you can sign up with WordPress.org or Blogger or Tumbler. These blogging platforms offer free hosting but with the .wordpress or .blogger extension.
See Online Resource Hub.
Step 3. Choose a blogging platform
My blogging platform is WordPress though I have tried Blogger years back when I set up my personal blog. There are now other website platforms to choose from like Squarespace which allows drag-and-drop. This makes customizing your site easier.
Which is the best blogging platform?
How do you choose a blogging platform to start a blog? Don’t get too technical on this one and decide which you think can provide you better flexibility and functionality, and availability of support.
I chose WordPress when I was starting out because of its functionality and ease of use. That is why it is popular among bloggers and site owners.
WordPress has a massive volume of resources, tips, and tools from setting up to designing your blog. Just search for Google. I am more of a DIY person so I always refer to online resources when tweaking my site’s design.
After choosing your platform, request for installation support from your hosting service if it is included in their support services. For Siteground, so far, they have helped me 3x with my installations.
If you want to install by yourself, Siteground has detailed instructions on how to install WordPress here.
Step 4: Designing your Site or Blog
Install a Theme
A theme is the clothing of a site. It is the look and feel of your site. It is the overall look of your site which matches your branding. Look for themes which are highly customizable and optimized for search engine. For instance, you can change the color, font, images, and if you are into coding, you can tweak anything you want.
Though there are a number of free themes, having a premium theme gives a site a more professional and polish look. It makes launching your site much easier too since you can just focus on creating content and social media.
Choose from these collections of Best Feminine Themes for Every Ladypreneur here.
When deciding for your theme, consider the following features:
- Layout flexibility
- Frontpage or homepage flexibility (Does it use the widget? Can you add call-to-action buttons?)
- Customizable options (font, colors)
- Pages included (Blog, Category Index, Recipe Index, Landing Page, etc.)
- Navigation flexibility (sticky, number of navigation menus allowed – primary, secondary, footer, left and right of the header)
- Optional features but additional checks for aesthetic (hover effects, retina optimized logo, image background, styled pages, portfolio, etc)
- Customer support
So ok. That’s quite a lot but it doesn’t mean you should have all of those. Just choose which features you like most. You cannot have everything you want in one single theme. That’s where the tweaking of codes come in.
However, while you are starting out, you don’t have to have a perfect site. Improve it as you progress. You can even start with a free theme because there are great free themes out there. Concentrate on putting content and promoting your site through social media.
Learn how much does it cost you to launch a site or blog on this post.
Step 5: Start a Blog… Start Creating Content
Download my blog launch workflow here. I also have a blogging workflow that can help you structure your blogging journey here. When creating content, always optimize it for search engines. You can install WordPress SEO by Yoast to guide you as you write.
What topic can I write about?
Solve problems related to your niche. What solutions can you provide to your audience? Do you have expertise in that topic? Benchmark on that.
Firstly, consider the current news in your industry. How will it affect your audience? If you are a food blogger, definitely you have the foundation already. Further, your recipes and experience on baking or cooking. You can start with the basics of cooking or baking like 10 Essential Baking Ingredients for Your Pantry, Ultimate Guide to Making Cookie from Scratch, and How to Add Different Flavors. Something like that. <smile>
Basic things when creating content:
- Always create original content
- Make your headline catchy and if applicable, indicative of a problem and a solution (How to Bake Cheesecake without Cracks)
- Provide solutions to a problem
- Present information or solution with What and How (how can they apply? step by step procedure)
- Make it engaging and inspiring to gain repeat-audience
- Break the monotony by adding images and videos but don’t clutter with too many images or videos
- Use headings properly and sparingly. Use negative space (meaning white space or gaps or spacing between paragraphs)
- Straightforward content. Do not go around the bush just to meet the minimum number of words.
- Update content if there are changes or new better solutions
You will find incredible resources online. Learn when to stop and proceed with whatever is available. Lastly, don’t aim for perfection! Flaws humanize your brand. That is something your audience would like to see from time-to-time.
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