A Step by Step guide on How to Start a Blog for Beginners
This guide will show you how to start a blog using your own domain name on your own hosting platform. If you intend to be a serious blogger, you should start off with a self hosted blog. It is not complicated to move from a free platform like Blogger or WordPress.com but if done incorrectly, it can result in loss of traffic and loss of older content.
The Technical Stuff
1. Get a domain name
Depending on the purpose of your blog, choose a name that represents what you are planning to blog about. If it’s a business and you already have a business domain name, you can add a WordPress Blog to that with minimal effort, regardless of how that site was built. If you are starting a brand new niche or hobby blog like a food or travel blog, choose a memorable or descriptive name. Check that there aren’t any other blogs with similar names out there and make sure that the twitter handle and your name on other social media platforms is available.
I would highly recommend that you buy your domain name from a reputable registrar and don’t go for the cheapest option. If they disappear, so does your domain and all your hard work goes down the drain. I like to use Namecheap as they offer a great service and every new domain purchase comes with free Whois privacy registration for the first year too.
2. Get Hosting – somewhere to host your files
Next step is to find a home for your blog. A web host is the place that will store your blog and email accounts. There are many companies that offer this service and prices vary. To start with you will only need a basic shared hosting account until your blog grows and the traffic explodes. When you start getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, you will need to upgrade to a better hosting alternative.
Some things to consider when buying hosting, the reliability of the company, the reported amount of uptime, the support and site speeds. There are 2 companies that I have tested and use and these are Hostgator and Krystal Hosting.
I like Hostgator as they have 24/7 online chat support, reliable and they offer a simple one click installation for new WordPress blogs.
If you go with Hostgator, use this coupon code : HOSTINGDISC for the first month and pay just US$1.
3. Set Up WordPress
I would highly recommend that you use self hosted WordPress as a platform as it is the most widely used Content Management System used on the net. About 25% of internet sites are powered by WordPress including big sites like the New York Times. It is free to use and has thousands of people who can provide solutions in case anything goes wrong. Being an open source software, there is constant development for this platform and along with that, lots of very helpful youtube videos for any possible question you might have.
Free blog setup
If you don’t want to go through these technical steps of setting up your own blog, just buy your domain and sign up for hosting through this link. Then send us an email with the receipt and we will set this up for you.
If you signed up with Hostgator in Step 2, you can see how to set up WordPress to your domain in the video below.
4. Pick a Design or Theme
It is very easy to change the look and feel of your new blog. Within the dashboard of your wordpress site, you have access to thousands of free themes that you can instal with one click. Feel free to play around with as many of these as you like. I like to work with two tabs open, one on the backend and the other on the front end, to see how every selection looks as I go along. One thing to note is that some of these themes have security vulnerabilities. If you get them from the WordPress depository, they are usually vetted. Free themes from random blogs might have malware or spyware coded in them. So beware.
Alternatively, you can buy a premium theme which is usually better coded and has better functionality. My personal favourite is the Genesis theme by Studiopress. This is a very well coded “framwork” which means that it will load fast and does not have any security issues. They constantly update the code in line with WordPress updates.
There are lots to choose from. You can see examples of sites built of these themes in their Showcase.
This site is built on a Genesis theme and currently, it is using the Interior Pro theme.
5. Add plugins
Plugins are apps that you can add to your blog to add functions like a contact form, social media share buttons and anything else that you can possibly want or need. You can add plugins from the dashboard by searching in the library. Alternatively, there are some premium plugins that offer more functionality which will be extremely helpful if you are building an affiliate site or an ecommerce site.
You can find all the plugins in the WordPress plugins depository.
6. Add the basic required pages
- About page
- Terms and conditions
7. Start adding content
Prepare by making a list of 20 topics that you want to blog about.
To help you plan your content, you can use an editorial plugin. This will help you plan out your content and assign writing to your team if you have one.
8 Maintaining your blog
Make sure that you keep up with the WordPress, theme and plugin updates on your blog. Most of these updates are to enhance security and sometimes to add functionality. The dashboard will prompt you about any updates that are available. One tip, make sure that you back up your blog before you do any updates as sometimes, different versions are incompatible and can cause your blog to break. If you have a backup, you can just revert to the last version or if you have a great hosting company, they will have a backup that they can apply. It would be better if you didn’t have any downtime by not breaking it in the first place.