What You'll Learn in This Post
Laying a Strong Foundation
Are you wondering how to start a blog? Or maybe you just have a few questions. I’ll show you exactly how to create your own blog, quickly and easily… even if you do not have a technical background.
Below is a step-by-step tutorial, as well as, frequently asked questions on how to set up your own blog or website. I will go over how to register your domain name, choose the right platform, set up web hosting, and choose a blog theme.
Everything you need to know to get started and up and running within minutes.
I began designing websites in 1997 when I was unable to find a designer who understood the unique challenges we faced within our industry. It was before social media, high speed internet, or all of the wonderful online marketing opportunities we have today.
I tell you this because without all of these wonderful marketing tools, our web design firm had to become experts in helping our clients attract organic traffic if they were going to survive online.
And why I have spent years learning exactly how search engines work.
You might be asking why I am talking SEO now, before you have even registered your domain name. It’s true, most folks don’t begin to consider optimizing their websites until after they exist.
It is so much easier to implement a great SEO strategy when you are first starting your blog.
So while there are plenty of other sites out there teaching you to “start a blog,” I am going to assume that you want to maximize organic traffic from the start.
Before we get started, let’s take a 10,000 foot view of the journey you are about to begin.
Why do I want to start a blog?
As simple as it sounds, ask yourself… Why? Why am I doing this? Why do I want to start a blog?
Is it to promote an existing business? To grow your income? Replace your job? There are so many great reasons to start blogging.
If you currently own a business, your blog can help you:
- Educate existing customers about your business
- Set yourself apart as an expert in your field
- Add value to the lives of others, including your clients
- Support your marketing efforts by targeting highly relevant keywords
Even if you are just getting started and looking for a way to make money online. Creating a blog as a business offers so many advantages. You can:
- Make more money than your current job
- Stop exchanging hours for dollars
- Create your own schedule
- Work from home or anywhere, for that matter
- Become a best selling author (It’s true! Many authors start by creating a blog audience online first!)
- Write for the love of writing
- Impact others by adding value to their lives
Think about it. What would it mean to you to finally have FREEDOM?
Maybe it is freedom from your boss. Freedom to work from anywhere and on your schedule. Or financial freedom and being able to earn great money without trading hours for dollars!
Becoming a successful bloggers is not easy, but it is simple. Knowing why you are doing this will help push you through those moments of self doubt and feelings that it just isn’t working.
Be patient. Stay the course. And remember why you wanted to start a blog in the first place.
What I am going to blog about?
The next question to ask yourself is… What? What am I going to write about? What can I sell or promote within that space?
Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to know exactly how you are going to monetize your site. Visitor feedback will help you solidify the exact what as you. But you should have an idea.
What is your blog going to be about?
If your blog is part of a business website, then you are most likely going to blog about things related to your product or service. It might be to educate potential customers or better engage with existing ones.
However, if your an individual looking to start a blog, you have quite a bit of flexibility. Literally, you could choose anything!
1. Blog about something you enjoy. You will be creating a lot of content around your subject so be sure you choose something that you won’t later hate doing.
2. Establish yourself as an authority within a niche. Choosing a niche is very important. First, you increases user engagement, as people learn what to expect. Second, you attract the right audience. If you talk about everything, someone looking specific details about a topic will find your content too thin. Third, as create more and more high quality content on a specific topic, you will boost your search engine rankings.
3. Blog about something with room for plenty of discussion. Over time you will be publishing dozens, if not hundreds, of blog post. Although you want to narrow your focus enough that people know what topics to expect, you still need enough room to continue to find interesting things to write about.
Now… Let’s get your blog setup in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Register Your Domain Name
I know this is going to be contrary to what others often suggest, but I highly recommend that you register your domain name with someone other than your hosting company.
In the past 20 years I have only had to change hosting companies once. Which may be an anomaly, but it sure was nice not to have to worry about my domain name being registered through the hosting company I was leaving.
If down the road, you change hosting companies, you will not have to worry about transferring your domain to a new registrar.
Instead, it takes seconds to enter your new DNS Name Servers.
Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name
1. Make it easy to remember. Odd spellings or quirky names might be cute, but they can hurt your traffic in the long run. Choose a name that is easy to remember, as well as, easy to pronounce.
2. Shorter is better. When brainstorming names, be sure to try to keep domain names as short as possible.
3. Search social media before registering your domain. If possible, try to get your domain name and usernames on social media to match.
4. Consider adding your main keyword to your domain name, if you are going to tailor your blog to a very specific niche. For example, if you are going to blog about recipes adding ‘recipes’ to your domain name will give Google a clear indication to what your site is about.
Use caution here. I chose not to add SEO to my domain name because I wanted the latitude to write about other topics. If your blog is specific, I recommend getting the extra mileage out of a keyword in the domain. However, if you are unsure, or feel more comfortable leaving yourself a little room to pivot, leave it out.
5. Consider registering domains that are similar to yours. If your domain name is a noun, register both the singular and plural versions. As your traffic grows, you may find others trying to capitalize on your domain name. To prevent this register similar domain names now. (Don’t go crazy here, just register obvious names that are very similar.)
6. Don’t use trademarked or copyrighted brand names in your domain. Although it is unlikely that you will find popular brand names, if you do, don’t be tempted. The last thing you want is to put in lots of effort to end up loosing your domain or run into legal trouble.
7. Don’t sweat it! I know people who have agonized over picking the perfect domain name. Here are two things you need to know. One, most obvious domain names are taken. It can be challenging to find a domain name, especially with matching usernames on social platforms. Second, it just doesn’t matter that much. The content is what will attract, engage, and keep visitors coming back. And the content is what will elevate your search engine rankings. So, pick one and move on.
Using GoDaddy as a Domain Registrar
I have always used GoDaddy to purchase my domain names. Mainly because it was one of the first internet domain registrars that didn’t require hosting.
There are definitely cheaper places to register the first year, but I have found that savings typically level off in subsequent years.
GoDaddy advantages include being super easy to use, seting up your domain and putting it on auto pilot (using auto-renew), and their excellent customer service.
In addition, they offer free email and URL forwarding, free domain parking, and dynamic DNS services. The last, you will use to direct your domain name to your hosting account.
I recommend either paying the additional $7.99/year or opting for another domain registrar such as NameCheap which includes free domain privacy with all domain name registrations.
Taking Extra Security Measures
When I started my first website I obtained a PO Box. Instead of using my home address, I use the address of the local Post Office. For example, 123 West Main Street, #456, Hometown, ST (where #456 is the PO Box number).
I also use this address at the bottom of all emails. Most email marketing platforms require a business address to be included on emails.
And I use this address on my website.
And believe it or not, having a physical address on your website even impacts search engine rankings. Keep in mind that Google prioritizes trustworthy websites. You will want a business address listed on your website to insure you are not hiding something or a scam.
If you work from home like I do, this is the perfect solution.
Using NameCheap as a Domain Registrar
NameCheap is one of the few domain registrars that offers domain privacy for free.
Similar to GoDaddy, you get fantastic customer service, free email and URL forwarding, free domain parking, free domain transfers, and dynamic DNS services.
Step 2: Choose the Right Platform
I can’t overstate how important it is to choose the right platform from the very beginning. There is no worse feeling than realizing that the blogging platform you’ve chosen will not meet your growing needs.
And there is nothing more stressful than trying to move over blog posts from one platform to another. Short of starting over, it is a virtual nightmare! This is one decision you need to get right from the very beginning.
WordPress vs Other Blogging Platforms
Don’t get me wrong, both Squarespace and Wix are great platforms and offer many nice features.
But when it comes to monetizing and customizing your blog, nothing compares to WordPress.
According to W3Techs, a company which monitors and surveys web technology usage, WordPress now powers 30 percent of the top 10 million sites.
And when you consider that there are an estimate 2 billion websites, this is a REALLY big deal.
Why So Many People Love WordPress
Here is where it outshines other blogging platforms…
1. It is customizable. WordPress was originally designed to be a content management system (CMS). This means WordPress was designed from the beginning to be highly customizable, allowing you to provide a unique experience for your visitors.
2. There are tons of 3rd party plugins and themes available. Partly because of age and partly because of popularity, there exists tens of thousands of themes and plugins to fit your specific needs and make your life even easier.
3. It is scalable. Unlike other platforms, WordPress allows you to scale. You can have hundreds of thousands of pages or blog posts on your site and the performance of the site will not be compromised.
4. WordPress is super easy to use. It is exceptionally easy to use and is perfect for beginners. Adding new pages, blog posts, and images does not require HTML editing and can be done quickly. No more need to pay web designers to manage your site.
5. It is SEO friendly. Search Engines love WordPress sites. Each page, post, and image can be optimized with keyword rich meta tag keywords, descriptions, and title.
Did I mention, WordPress is also free!?!
You simply can’t go wrong choosing WordPress for your blogging platform.
Step 3: Choose a Great Hosting Provider
As I mentioned earlier, I was with my previous hosting company for over twenty years before choosing to find a cheaper alternative.
Likewise, your goal should be to find a hosting provider you can build a long term relationship. Consider them your “tech guys” that help you with behind the scenes stuff that keeps you blog running smoothly.
Unlike blogging platforms, it is considerable easier to change hosting companies. Even so, I don’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary.
Even with backups and the ability to restore, changing hosting companies is a time sink. You will waste a considerable amount of time fixing little things that didn’t transition smoothly.
And if you are like me… you’d rather be blogging than cleaning up your blog.
Why host with SiteGround?
First off, they are very inexpensive. You can start a blog with SiteGround for as little as $3.95/month.
SiteGround is easy to navigate for beginners and has a top rated customer service.
They offer free emails, free daily backups, free cloud flare CDN, unmetered traffic, and offer some of the industries best security and speed technologies.
And just in case, they offer a 30 day money back guarantee. So there is absolutely no risk.
Learn more about why I choose SiteGround after being with the same host provider for over 20 years.
What about free blog hosting?
As tempting as it might sound, this is not the direction you want to go.
Free blog hosting plans such as Blogger, Tumblr, or even WordPress.com are very limited.
There are numerous reasons why you will want to avoid free blogging platforms if you are looking to make money blogging.
Free blogging platforms often…
- lack professionalism as compared to self-hosted sites.
- offer very limited customizations.
- don’t allow plugins.
- are slow to load due to shared resources and metered traffic.
- don’t allow ads, limiting how you monetize your blog
What Not to Do
I had a client who started with WordPress.com and even after upgrading and spending a considerable amount of money on domain name upgrades, premium themes, and annual hosting she was unable to get the functionality she was wanted because of limited customization and the inability to install plugins. Between the add-ons and the cost she incurred to move her site, she would have been better off starting with a self-hosted site.
Click here to start a blog with SiteGround, then use the tutorial below for easy step-by-step instructions.
Getting Set Up with SiteGround
If you haven’t already, start by going to SiteGround.com. Be sure to open the site in a separate browser so you can follow along with the tutorial below.
Because the introductory rate of $3.95 will go up to $11.95 upon renewal, I recommend paying for a full 36 months. This will keep your hosting to a minimum and save you $192 in the long run!
Now let’s looking at getting your domain name tied to your server address…
Pointing Your Blog Domain Name Servers to SiteGround
Once you have your domain name registered and you have selected your package with SiteGround, you will need to point your domain at the correct name servers.
First, log into SiteGround.
Under My Accounts, click Go To cPanel.
Under My Products you will find your domain name. Click on the DNS button.
Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Domain Through Your Hosting Provider
Name servers for a domain name can only be changed with the domain registrar.
If you decide to move your site to another host, you will need to transfer your domain name as well.
This can be a real pain if you decide to move your site to another hosting company.
If you just registered your domain, some hosting providers will make you wait 60 days before transferring.
Most likely you will have to pay a transfer fee.
And, some hosting providers simply don’t support domain registration transfers.
I highly recommend that you register your domain name with someone other than your hosting company to insure both control and fewer headaches in the long run.
Step 5: Setup Up Word Press and Choose a Theme
When you first login to your Customer Area, you will see a pop-up asking if you want to Start a new website.
Select and click on WordPress.
Next, confirm that you have read and agreed with SiteGround’s Terms of Service, and click on the Complete Setup button.
How to Log Into WordPress
Once logged into SiteGround, go to the My Accounts tab, find your domain listed below, and click on the green Go to Admin Panel button.
This will bring up a login box where you can enter your Username/Email Address and Password.
Choosing Your Theme
Once you enter the WordPress dashboard you will see several options to your left.
Mouseover Appearance and click on Themes.
You will be able to change your theme at anytime.
Whenever learning a new software, it can be rather daunting at first. Take a few breaths, you can do this!
Give yourself permission to get a bit frustrated, just don’t give up.
It is going to take you a few weeks of playing around and trying different things to really become familiar with WordPress.
If you stick with it, I promise, you will learn the system.
Just remember, WordPress is a wonderful thing! WordPress gives people with no coding experience the ability to create stunning websites easily and quickly.
Why Use a Paid Theme vs a Free Theme
Free themes are a great place to start, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Just know they will lack some of the nicer features and limit you in customizing your blog.
Paid themes are usually more powerful, have more features, and are more customizable than free themes.
If you have the extra $50-100 to spend, I recommend going with a paid theme.
I will be the first to tell you that there are hundreds of gorgeous themes out there. So many in fact, it can be hard to choose. Believe me, I have tried my fair share.
The #1 Theme on the Market for Bloggers
About a year ago, I was researching themes, when I came across the Divi Theme by Elegant Design. I was so impressed, that now all of my sites (although drastically different in look) use the Divi theme.
Divi is a premier (or purchased) theme, that is:
* exceptionally user friendly
* highly customizable
* has a great resource community
* offers top notch tech support
* supported by a fantastic knowledge base
* supported by a blog with daily design tips
* SEO friendly
* and they also offer a no-questions-asked 30-day money back guarantee
Divi’s drag and drop interface comes with 46 content elements that you can mix, march, and build just about anything you can imagine.
I can’t over state how user friendly and incredibly customizable this theme is.
When you purchase Divi, you get over 140 amazing Divi pre-designed layouts. And if those don’t excite you, you also get access to the entire Elegant Themes market, which includes over 86 other themes to choose from.
What has impressed me the most is Elegant Themes’ dedication to making Divi the most user friendly and powerful theme available.
This theme is quickly becoming the #1 theme on the market for bloggers!
Finding that right theme is important, but don’t let it drag you down.
No theme is going to give you everything. Don’t over think it. Just find one that checks most of the boxes and get started.
Things You Should Know Before You Hit Publish
Now that you have your domain name registered, WordPress installed, and you have selected your theme, there are a few more things to consider before publishing your first blog.
Before you begin writing blog posts, let’s give some thought to SEO.
Why? Because you are going to want to understand how to attract organic traffic.
And what better way to start, then designing a blog that is search engine friendly.
- Why SEO is Important
- How to Identify Keywords to Target
- How to Generate a Never Ending List of Blog Post Topics
- The Basics of On-Page Optimization
- How You Can Structure of Your Site to Increase Rankings
- Why Content is Your Best Strategy
- How a Content Roadmap Will Get You Ranked in Google
- And so much more!
I hope you enjoyed this post on How to Start a Blog in 5 Incredibly Easy Steps. I am happy to answer any of your questions in the comments section below.
Janet M Childs