So, you want to start a blog, huh? You’ve got a burning story that the world needs to hear, a desire to teach other people the life lessons you’ve learned on the flip-side, or maybe, you just want to express yourself, but you just don’t know where to start. I totally get it. Getting to the point where you can actually blog on a blog is overwhelming. Every blogger was once in your shoes … including me.
I can’t possibly tell you everything there is to know about blogging in one post, but I can tell you how to start one, and this is the first step to putting that dream you have “down on paper.” By the time you get to the end of this post, you’ll know how to come up with a blog name, what a domain is, where to park your car (web hosting), and how to get your site up and going. So, grab some tea, coffee, or whatever organic “energy drink” you’re into and let’s flush this out in four easy steps:
Step 1: Choose a Name (and Domain) for Your Blog
This is a super important step – maybe the most important. This is where you brand your blog – taking everything in your head that you think you want to write about, and funneling it into a name. From a blog’s name, a reader should have a pretty good idea about the content they’re going to find on your site and what it’s about.
You’ll want to use your blog’s name (or something similar) as your domain name (the URL/web address typed into the search bar), so it should be catchy, simple, relevant, and easy to remember. For example, my blog’s name is “Living Whole” and the web address is “www.LivingWhole.org.”
(You can have a different blog name than what’s typed into a web search bar, but for branding purposes, it’s not smart.)
Step 2: Choose a Host and Register Your Domain
This is where things can get a little tricky if you know nothing about blogging, but don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through it. The next step is to register your domain and choose a web host for that domain and your blog.
Did I just lose you? Let me break this down for you in #Blogging101 fashion: A domain name is like a car and a web host is like a parking spot for your car. It’s also a parking spot for the awesome website you’re going to create. In other words, you need to get a domain and park it somewhere on the net. Once it’s parked, you can create your blog.
There are ton of different hosting services out there to choose from, and all claim to be the best. You could get a massive migraine trying to figure out who to work with and whether or not their services are all they’re cracked up to be. You could also spend a ton of money you don’t have and don’t need to spend, on a hosting package that is way beyond the needs of your website.
Save yourself a huge headache and a lot of money and get a hosting account at Bluehost. Bluehost will register your car, park your car, and give you the tools to easily design the parking garage for your ride. With Bluehost, you can get a free domain, unlimited space, can self-host your blog (which is essential if you want to monetize), 24/7 technical support for those, “I have no idea what I’m doing” moments, and hosting packages that start at $3.45 a month. Seriously, affordability is important because you’re not making money (yet).
I told you I would hold your hand, so let me walk you through it:
Next, choose your plan. They have plans starting at $3.45 per month (which is kind of crazy). That’s like…the price of a latte. You can do this!
After you’ve chosen your plan, Bluehost will help you register your domain. On this screen, you’ll type in the URL you want for your website in the “new domain” box. Make sure “.com” is selected, and click “next.” If the URL you’ve chosen is already taken, it will give you some similar suggestions. Try to keep your domain name as close to your blog’s name as possible.
Next, you’ll enter your account information, including the email address you want the details sent to, and you’ll select the specifics you want with your hosting package. This includes whether you want a 1, 2, or 3-year hosting package, domain privacy protection (highly recommend), site backup, and more. When you’re finished, click “Submit.”
Within minutes, you’ll have a legit domain and a hosting account, which means you’re officially ready to create your blog.
Step 3: Start Your WordPress Blog
Once you’ve purchased your car and its parking spot, it’s time to create that pretty schnazzy parking garage. There are a lot of services you could use to create a blog, from Squarespace and Ghost to Joomla and Wix. But let’s not mess around here, WordPress is the best. It has the best themes, the coolest features and plugins, and all of the big bloggers you love and follow, use it.
Starting a WordPress blog is easy (and it’s FREE). Simply log in to your CPanel on Bluehost (with the login credentials they emailed you), select “One-Click installs” and follow the simple steps.Now that you’ve got a catchy domain and WordPress downloaded, you’re almost there!
Step 4: Pick a Theme
It’s time to get to the fun stuff and pick out your theme. Some people hire a designer for this part, but I totally don’t recommend it if you’re a newb: It’s expensive, unnecessary, and if you don’t have a following of people who are subscribed to your work – a potential waste of money.
The purpose of a blog when you’re just starting out is to really find your niche, develop your voice, start getting your content out there, grow a social following, and to form a tribe of people who support you and want to hear what you have to say.
At the same time, you want to look professional, get noticed, and have a theme that you can customize and call your own. Enter StudioPress. Everything good on WordPress runs on the Genesis Framework, and StudioPress can give you this framework, access to premium themes and plugins, and a step-by-step guide to customize them.
Though you can use a free WordPress theme, I don’t recommend it because it will limit what you can do with your blog. Having a StudioPress theme was key in generating viral posts and growing my social following on Living Whole. A few years later when I was ready to work with a designer, the Genesis Framework was required (as it is by many designers) and I already had it downloaded and knew how to use it.
Here is the actual Lifestyle Pro Theme that I customized when I started Living Whole:
All of this may seem overwhelming, but for an hour of your time, you could save thousands of dollars, have a premium design, and a blog that will attract the readers you need to take things to the next level. It’s totally worth it.
That’s it! You’re ready to create!
Now that you have a domain, a web host, a website, and an amazing theme, you are officially the proud owner of a self-hosted blog. It’s time to make it official and create your first post! Check out the “Blogging Tools” in my Shop for the deets on the other tools I use to power my sites.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock