This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using one of these links.
So, you want to start a blog?
I'm so excited for you! Starting a blog can be a little daunting if you haven't done it before, but I'm here to help you start a blog with as little pain as possible.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the technical side of setting up a blog let's go back over a few basics.
Why start a blog in the first place?
There are many reasons you might consider starting a blog. Here are a few popular ones:
- Make money while working from home. This is why I started. I wanted to find a way to make an income from home and still be able to take care of the kids at the same time. Making money with a blog is hard work, but the barrier to entry and start up cost is low, making it very low risk (which was perfect for me because I was broke, lol).
- You want to write a book. It’s no secret. These days, publishers rarely work with authors who don’t have an online presence established. 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 solopreneurs to large companies, the ability to reach a large number of people at very little cost.
- You just want to 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? Then let’s get you up and running!
6 Steps to Getting Your blog up and running
- Decide what to blog about
- Choose a blogging platform
- Pick a domain name
- Find a host
- Install WordPress
- Design & use your blog!
Sounds easy enough, right?
Step 1 – Decide what you are going to blog about
If you’re part of a business, company or organization, this step will be easy. 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 your topic choice. I'll go more into how to choose your topic in another post but in a nutshell:
- Blog about something you enjoy (a lot, because you could be writing about it for years to come!)
- Blog about something with plenty of room for discussion.
- Most importantly, choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority.
The goal for any blog is for you to become the go-to resource for the topic or niche you cover.
Step 2 – Choose which platform you are going to use
There are a ton of services you can use to start a blog or website. Just starting out you may be tempted to use a free service. You need to know you’ll be limited, and in some cases, quite severely. You get what you pay for, as they say. It's especially important to choose a paid platform if you intend on monetizing your site, most free platforms will not allow you do so. In addition, you need to read the fine print on free platforms because you will find that you do not own your content – they do and if they feel you are in breach of their terms and conditions or community standards they can delete your blog at their discretion. Using a paid-for service isn’t expensive and it’s a no-brainer in my opinion.
Of the many blogging platforms out there, WordPress is, by far, the most popular (source). However, they aren't the only platform. WordPress is simple to use and provides incredible flexibility but it isn't the only fish in the ocean.
I use WordPress myself and appreciate its flexibility, functionality, ease of use and the 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.
Caution! 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.” (recommended)
This guide outlines the steps to start a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Step 3 – Pick a Domain Name
This step is important and might take you a while to implement, that's why I'm adding it in before you find your host. Choosing a name is a really important process. I've written a whole post on how to pick your domain name – How To Choose A Killer Blog Name
Quick 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 name.
Step 4 – Find a Host
Disclosure: Some of the links below are referral links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Your host will provide you space on their servers to home your website on. This allows your site to be live and for people to find you.
I'm going to share two options with you – the first is a new option that has just become available via StudioPress. StudioPress have put together complete blogging packages – you get your hosting, plus access to 20 premium themes, and so much more. While at first glance it may seem a bit pricier than the straight hosting option I'll share with you next – the beauty is all the hidden extras you'll find that come up with blogging are covered. Themes can range from free up to $150, having an SSL Certificate is an extra cost with some hosts, plugins, commerce ability can all be extra charges. All of those are covered in the StudioPress subscriptions.
StudioPress is a great option for those new to blogging or for those who want a hassle free set-up.
Your next option is to go for a fully self-hosted site with a hosting provider. I personally recommend and use SiteGround. I've used a few other hosting companies in the past some I had issues with, others were fine but when I switched to SiteGround I knew I found ‘the one'. Their customer service is extraordinary and they truly look after their customers with outstanding features.
Sign-up is extremely simple and if you already have an existing site they will transfer over your content to their hosting free of charge.
Ready? Start by Visiting SiteGround (this link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work).
SiteGround has three plans to choose from – you can start small and upgrade at any time should you need to.
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves a WordPress and Joomla website speed (I currently use this one).
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration
Click the ‘Get Started' button under your preferred plan and go to the next step where you choose your domain name.
Go back to step 3 where you chose your domain name and enter it in the box. Or if you have an existing domain and want to set up transfer tick the boxes as above.
Last step: Choose your period and any extras. I recommend Domain Privacy Registration (otherwise you'll have lots of phone calls from people wanting to sell you their web services).
Hit ‘Pay Now' and like magic, you'll have your new website.
Check your email for login info
After completing your purchase, check your email. You’ll find a welcome email from SiteGround with your control panel (cpanel) login info. Keep this information for future reference.
Log in to your Site Ground cpanel
You can do this via your SiteGround User's Area under the My Accounts tab. Once you are in click on the Go to cPanel button.
(Alternatively, you can use the link to your cPanel contained in the welcome email you received above.)
One you click cPanel you'll be taken to the dashboard where you can choose the WordPress install – you can click either to install WordPress.
Then simply follow the guided set-up to create your WordPress login and site information.
Note your WordPress login information
After WordPress has been installed, you should see the “Status: success” indication. Take note of the information to access your new WordPress site. This information will also be sent to you via email.
At this point, you will have received two welcome emails. The first is the login info for your SiteGround hosting account. The second is the login info for your WordPress account. Keep both, although, from this point forward, you’ll be using your WordPress login information much more frequently.
Step 6: Design & use your blog!
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site. There are many things you can do at this point. Blogging is about learning as you go and tackling things as you can. One of the first things you will want to do is choose a theme and customize your site. There are thousands of themes available for WordPress – you can check out my Resources page for some examples.
If you aren't familiar with WordPress you can do a quick Google search of ‘learn WordPress' and find a ton of free resources or I highly suggest you check out WordPress 101's WordPress Course – everything you need to know to get started.
I wish you all the best with starting your blog!
A few more options:
If you are a solopreneur or direct seller who wants your hand held through learning all about the basics of blogging from setting up your blog to customizing your theme, how to create content and more – check out my post on Blogging Bootcamp – the next one starts in May.