While choosing a category for your blog may seem straightforward, there are research tactics involved in making the best choice. You need to consider not only what you are interested in, but also what trending topics your potential followers want to read about. All in all, it is crucial that you put a lot of thought into your blog’s topic.
First and foremost, choose a topic that you are passionate about. As the old saying goes, “if you do what you love then you will never work a day in your life.” The easiest way to see your blog fail before you even begin is to decide on a topic that you’re wishy-washy on. As stated earlier, it is also important to consider what other people are interested in. Finding a happy medium between the two is ideal.
Check out trending searches on Google and try searching for your own topic idea. How popular is your chosen topic? Another way to gauge popularity of a topic is just to search for that topic in the regular search google.com. After each search, there is a number of results shown at the top. It usually says something like this:
About 2,760,000 results (0.64 seconds)
Popular topics will have a better chance of recruiting followers. Be sure to explore different sub-categories for the topic. For example, let’s say that you want to blog about film in general. That subject alone is extremely broad, and Google has over 2 million results archived. If you narrow the result by making it about a specific genre of film, there seems to be a lot more people interested in particular film types rather than just the idea that they exist in general. Let’s say that you change your topic to film noir; Google has nearly 50 million results, which makes it a very popular topic choice!
Of course, there are an endless number of topics you can go with, from making good coffee to gardening to movie reviews. Another sign that your chosen subject has a significant following is when you see Google Ads positioned at the very top of your results page.
Deciding your blog’s theme by researching Google results is not only indicative of how many people follow a particular topic, but it is also a good sign of what other caliber of bloggers you may be competing with for those followers. A Google query that comes up with that many results also means that you have to approach your blog topic in a way that makes it stand out from the rest. This means that you’re going to have to research the competition. Find an angle that they don’t take, but that readers would still benefit from getting. Being unique and creative is the lifeblood of your blog.
For more on choosing a topic, check out 101 Blog Topic Ideas: How to Pick the Right Niche.
When it comes to starting a blog, after deciding what you want to blog about, your next decision will be to decide whether you want to have your own domain name (which means you will have to pay a monthly fee), or whether you want to use one of the free blogging platforms. (There are several options (both free and paid), but this tutorial will deal primarily with WordPress.)
Many of you have probably already made your decisions about this, so you’re welcome to skim down to the next section.
If you haven’t made a decision yet, I typically recommend that if at all possible, you want to have your own domain name. Especially if you are starting a site for a business. It’s a more professional option. Even if it’s not for business, you may just want your own domain name (MySite.com).
If you’re worried that installing a blog yourself might be a complicated process, don’t worry. The setup process is extremely simple. Most hosting companies have what is commonly called “one-click” or “easy” WordPress install options that really simplify the process. Most good hosts also don’t mind helping you if you do get stuck.
Apart from getting your own domain name, the primary reason I recommend using the self hosted version of WordPress (your domain and Web host) is because of all the great free features (not available with free blogs)
Learn more about how to make sure you are re ready for search engines here.
This would be the part in most blogging tutorials where they tell you that free blogging services are the worst thing in the world, and you should never use them.
I would prefer that you use your own domain name, but the truth is, there are lots of good reasons you might want or need to use a free service.
The main thing to keep in mind is that with a free blog, you won’t be able to have your own domain name. BUT! … It is possible to eventually move to your own domain. Not super easy, but possible. (I’m planning to publish a detailed guide explaining how to do this, but for now, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it)
Reasons You Might Use A Free Blogging Service
Any of these are great reasons to use a free blog, and the only reason I didn’t mention above is money. I can certainly understand if money is an issue, and if that’s the case, by all means, use a free blogging service.
If money is really an issue, but you really need to have your own domain name, don’t be discouraged, because there are some extremely inexpensive hosting options out there — There are at least 2 options to get started for as little as $12 for 1 year (more on this in step 4).
If you decide to host your own site, you need to choose a domain name.
Years back, it was popular to get domain names that contained your target keyword (for example: How to Start a Blog ), but the best advice I can give right now is to try to come up with a unique and compelling domain name that is easily communicated verbally.
You want to be able to tell someone the name of your website without having to spell it out. For example, explaining that it’s a number “2” and not “to” or “too” — or having to explain that there is a hyphen in the middle.
A lot of the good domain names have been taken already, but there are definitely still some good ones available. If you’re ready to look now, take a look at the domain search here.
The next section is on choosing a web host, but if you have any experience with hosting (or have even seen ads), you might know that it is pretty standard for web hosts to give away a free domain name with the purchase of hosting. This actually is a pretty good deal, which makes the advice I'm about to share seem a little bit odd, but I feel like it's a really valuable tip that's helpd me out of many tough spots.
The advice is, keep your domain names and hosting separate. In other words, don't purchase domains from your web hosting company.
I don't know how or why I started doing it, but at some point, I started buying all my domains with NameCheap.com (A company who at the time dealt only with domain names). Maybe it was just convenient, at the time, but I soon learned that one major benefit was that if anything ever happened with the web host, having that domain name in a separate / neutral location makes it extremely easy to switch from one host to another.
The most common problem I've had with web hosts is having my website go down. A lot of times, it has been my fault (too much traffic on a budget host), and when you're dealing with a webiste where extended downtime just isn't an option, and technical support who just isn't capable (or willing) to help you quickly get your site back up, it's important to have options. Being able to easily switch to a new host can be a life (and money) saver
By far, the easiest way to get a fully functioning, user-friendly blog is to go with a hosting company that offers one-click WordPress installs This means that the site has instant installations available for blogging and forum software. These make it possible for someone with little to no blogging experience to create quality content quickly.
See a full list of recommended blog hosting providers that offer one click (easy) installation here.
If you have experience with web sites and hosting, and feel comfortable installing WordPress manually, continue reading. For beginners, I highly recommend using a hosting service with a 1-click / easy WordPress install (see the link above).
If you’ve decided not to go with one of the easier One-Click Install options and manually install WordPress, then continue on.
A. In order to run WordPress, your domain host must have:
B. You must also create a database, which is something you can revise in the hosting control panel. After you have set it up, you should have four pieces of information about the database, all of which you will need for the installation. If you are having difficulty with this, contact your domain host for support. When you create a database, you will attain the following information:
C. Download the WordPress zip file and unzip it.
To do this, go to wordpress.org/download/ and download the current version. You have a choice between a zip file and a TAR.GZ file, but it doesn’t matter which you choose. You can unzip this as soon as it finishes downloading.
D. In the WordPress folder you just opened, locate “wp-config-sample.php,” then make a copy and rename it “wp-config.php”.
E. When prompted, fill in the details on your database and save the new file.
Define ('DB_NAME', 'yourDatabaseName'); // the name of the database
define('DB_USER', 'your-username'); // Your MySQL username
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'your-password'); // ... and password
define('DB_HOST', 'your-hostname'); //
F. Upload all the files to your web host directory.
A. Choose the install directory and upload everything
B. Finish and install by going to the domain and directory where you uploaded all the WP files. Follow the simple directions there, and you should be prompted to create a username and password.
Video demonstration of setting up a Blog
Picking a WordPress theme can be pretty fun. There are many places to find themes, but it is safest to use the official WP Theme Directory. It is available from your new blog’s Dashboard. If you haven’t set up a blog yet, you can go directly to the directory here: https://wordpress.org/themes/.
It is easiest to install a theme from within your blog’s dashboard. From the menu on the left, look for: “Appearance” > “Themes”. Then click the “Add New” button.
This takes you to a place where you can browse, preview, and install any of the themes you find for free.