Having an online presence is becoming increasingly important for everyone, and creating a blog is an excellent way to gain a following. From commercial businesses to professional individuals looking to generate a network of friends, family, and followers, blogs are a fun way to showcase one’s knowledge and capabilities. These days, social media and online blogging have become so important to the way in which we communicate and interact with our peers that even universities are now offering rigorous courses on the subject.
When friends and family members ask me how to start a blog, I always enjoy explaining the advantages of a blog over a traditional website. For the nitty-gritty on how to effectively start a blog, I send them to this page. Ready to get your blog going? Let’s begin:
1. Decide What You Want To Blog About
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 theme.
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 many results does your chosen topic have? If it is several million, then your chosen theme is popular and will have a better chance of recruiting followers. Be sure to explore different specifications for the topic. For example, let’s say that you want to blog about film in general. That query 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 also myriad themes 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.
If you are more of a visual/aural learner, I also recently created a video that documents some of what is discussed in this article. Click here to watch it.
2. To Host or Not To Host?
Another factor you should consider as you conceptualize your blog’s implementation is whether you will host the blog on your own domain or on a blog-hosting site. While blog hosting sites are typically free and user-friendly for beginners, they can have their disadvantages.
Without your own domain name, your blog’s address could get lost in a sea of other blogs hosted on the same site. For example, let’s say that you use blogspot.com. Your domain name would be something like, “mygreatblog.blogspot.com”, where there is an endless amount of other blogs that also end in .blogspot.com. Another issue with this is that you don’t actually own the blog. If you ever do decide to move your blog to your own domain, you have no way to take your readers with you because you have no control over the site.
There are blog-hosting sites that allow you to host your own blog with an independent domain name. I suggest using WordPress, an excellent free blog software that allows you the flexibility and room to grow. You can choose to use WordPress’ free blog software, or you can pay a small annual fee to use their independent domain name feature. This method provides beginning bloggers with the ability to experiment with their site without sacrificing their domain name.
3. Find a Domain Name
If you decide to host your own site, you need to pick an easily recognizable, creative, unique, and compelling domain name. Now that you’ve found a topic for your blog and have decided to host your own site, there are lots of places to buy domains, but it’s best to go with a reputable company. I ultimately suggest Godaddy.com; they have a good domain search, and are currently offering a deal on domains, offering them for just $0.99 per month. If you don’t want to feel limited in your options, you can also check out the deals on BlueHost.com. BlueHost.com offers domain names starting at $3.49 per month, and their package includes various other services I will describe below.
4. Find a Web Host for Your Blog
By far, the easiest way to get a fully functioning, user-friendly website is to go with a hosting company that offers one click 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.
Here are some hosts with one click (easy) installation you may want to go with:
- 1&1 Hosting
Godaddy.com has a ‘One-Click Install’ Economy WordPress hosting plan that is a great deal for $1.00 / month – $12 / year. GoDaddy.com also offers security, site maintenance, and promises thousands of monthly visits with its startup blogger package. If you want to get a website up and running quickly and have no technical skills or help, you can also check out their Website Builder. With this tool, you can choose from a wide array of customizable professional themes, meaning you can have a fully functioning website up in no time! Another benefit of this service is that it comes with a free mobile version of your site, which is a great feature for maintaining followers.
BlueHost.com also offers a “One-Click” WordPress installation with all of their web hosting packages. These plans start at $3.49/month, which includes a free domain name, social media, and Google advertising credits, as well as 24/7 tech support if your site goes down.
I recently came across a great deal from JustHost.com. They’re offering hosting for $2.95 per month, and this includes a “One-Click” WordPress installation along with 100 open-source apps available as plug-ins.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend using 1&1 for your blog hosting. Although they are much less expensive, their tech support leaves something to be desired. Compared to a lot of other hosts, however, they have an extremely user-friendly control panel and reliable servers. Prices start at $0.99/month for the first year and then jump to $14.99/month in the second year.
5. Set Up & Install WordPress
A. In order to run WordPress, your domain host must have:
- PHP version 4.3 or greater
- MySQL version 4.1.2 or greater
- It must have a username & password setup
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 in order to install WordPress. If you are having difficulty with this, contact your domain host for support. When you create a database, you will attain the following information:
- Database name
- Host name, which might be something like “mysql.mydomain.com” or just “localhost”
C. Download the WordPress zip file and open 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.
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.
To install WordPress:
A. Run the installation file, “install-folder/wp-admin/install.php”
B. Choose the install directory and upload everything
- If you want your WordPress blog in a separate directory of your website, like “yourdomain.com/blog”, you will need to rename the “WordPress” folder to “Blog.” Then, you need to upload it to the root directory, along with a FTP program.
- If you want your blog to be in the root directory of your site, then the blog will be located at “yourdomain.com”. If you do this, you have to make sure that any file named index.html or index.php is renamed or deleted from the WordPress folder. After this, you can upload all of the WordPress files and folders into the web root.
C. Finish and install by going to the domain where you uploaded WordPress, and add this to the end of the link, /wp-admin/install.php. Follow the simple directions there, and you should be given a username and password.
6. Add Your Theme
Find a WordPress theme online and download the zip file. After you unzip the file, look for the themes folder in the WordPress.
– WordPress => WP-content => themes.
Congrats! You now have a new blog with your domain, a unique topic, and an aesthetically pleasing theme. Learning how to start a blog wasn’t so hard, right? Now, get writing!