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So, you want to start a blog. Great! You’ve come to the right page!
Becoming a blogger is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Remember my post about embracing change? Totally relevant here. Blogging has brought me new opportunities and made me realize that I actually enjoy writing (that wasn’t the case in college) and the ups and downs that come with blogging (there are downs, believe me!).
I only started blogging earlier this year. I was running a home bakery beforehand, but a promotion at work tied up my time. Not one to sit still, I decided to start a blog in the little free time I do have as it allows me to talk about food along with other passions and interests in my life.
I was once exactly where you are and know that starting a blog can seem like a daunting task. By no means do I consider myself an expert in blogging; in fact, I’m still new at it and learning as I go along! However, my easy, step-by-step, comprehensive guide will help you get started!
Before You Register Your Site…
Have a Niche
Your niche is the topic or focus point of your blog. There are several niches to choose from. Some common niches are Travel, Parenting, Money, Food, and more! Even blogging about blogging is popular!
My advice when it comes to choosing a niche is choose something you’re passionate about. It was the advice that I came across on several other blogs when I first started, and it’s some of the best advice given. Blogging about your passion means you’re less likely to abandon your blog and more likely to actually put in the effort and display some good work.
Some ways to help you narrow your niche are to identify hobbies, interests, or any areas of expertise you have. I’m passionate about food and have always had a desire to become an entrepreneur and help other women do the same. So, my niche is Lifestyle and “Fempreneurism”, or lady bosses.
Choose a Domain Name
This was actually one of the harder parts for me. I swear it took me way too long to come up with a domain name because I wanted it to be perfect. If only I knew that it doesn’t have to be! Gladly, my mistake is time saved for you.
Your domain name is the name of your website:
Choose a name that’s memorable and not too long as you want readers to be able to remember it. You definitely want to have a few domain names picked out just in case the one you want is already in use.
I highly recommend getting a .com over anything else. People tend to remember the names of websites, not the URLS. The other day, I was looking for a certain blog and couldn’t find the page because it ended with .me, something I never would’ve guessed. The .com ending is the most common and the one people will always try first. Getting a .com is a no-brainer really!
Your blog needs a place to reside in internet land, so you need to use a host. There are two kinds of hosting options: free-hosted and self-hosted.
Free-hosted means you create a blog on a website like WordPress.com, Blogger, Weebly, etc. While you get to start a blog for free, the downfalls are way too numerous and severe to even consider using them in my opinion, especially if you plan on monetizing your blog. The content you publish on free blogging platforms are not entirely your own, working with brands will be literally impossible, and I’ve heard of people losing their blogs without warning. Not worth the risk or stress!
Self-hosted requires you to make a small investment on a hosting plan, but grants you freedom to do with your blog as you wish. Besides, many of us start blogs with the intention of making money from it down the line, so consider this spending money to make money. Having a self-hosted blog is essential for monetizing your blog. Readers and brands alike take self-hosted blogs more seriously as they’re credible.
I hadn’t really created a website before I started my blog. Not seriously anyway, so I didn’t have any clue about hosting. There were so many hosts to choose from. I read someone’s “start a blog” post that recommended HostGator for $2.95/mo and impulsively pounced on it. Wrong move.
Once I realized that Google was shifting towards favoring secured sites, I realized I needed to get an SSL certificate for my website, or secure my site basically. HostGator didn’t offer free certificates like other hosts, and getting it done for free with Let’s Encrypt wasn’t an option with them for whatever reason. I was still within the refund period, so I got my money back and switched to SiteGround. Great move!
The biggest factor in my switching to SiteGround was the free SSL certification. Websites with SSL certifications rank higher in Google searches, so it’s vital to have, especially if you plan on monetizing your blog.
Okay! So you’ve picked the focus of your blog, wrote down some possible domain names, and clicked on my SiteGround link (60% off!) to take you to their website. Time to register!
How to Start a Blog
1. Choose Your Plan
SiteGround has three different plans available: Startup, GrowBig, and GoGeek. Check the features of each of the plans to see which one best suits your needs.
The Startup plan is perfect if you’re starting a website from scratch like I did!
It has enough features for me to start a blog at an affordable price and can handle up to 10,000 unique visitors per month, so I figure once my audience grows, I can upgrade to the GrowBig plan.
2. Register Your Domain Name
Now is the time to choose the name of your website! Type in the name you picked and check to see if it’s available. Remember to stick to a .com extension if you can. You can also signup with an existing domain if you’ve purchased one from elsewhere already.
3. Review and Complete Signup
Enter your account, client, and payment information.
Under Purchase Information, make sure you select at least 12 months to get the 60% off discount for the entire year.
There are some extra services available at the bottom that are totally optional. If you feel you need domain privacy and whatnot, go for it. If not, consider it a few dollars saved. I didn’t opt in for any of them as I know I can add them in the future if I need them later on.
The total is for a year’s worth of hosting. Not too bad, right?
Be sure to click on the box saying that you’ve read and agree to SiteGround’s Terms of Service, then click “PAY NOW”.
Congratulations! Just like that, you have hosting for your website! Just a couple more steps and you’re good to go!
4. Install WordPress
So, now that you’re registered with SiteGround, it’s time to sign in to your account. I’ve included three different ways to have WordPress installed. Choose whichever method is easiest for you:
Use “Live Chat”
Like I said before, one of the best features SiteGround has to offer is their customer service, so never be afraid to use it! If you don’t feel comfortable installing WordPress yourself, a SiteGround representative can help you out!
After registering for WordPress hosting, you can click on “Live Chat” on the home page and ask the representative to setup WordPress for you. They’ll require your login info, but other than that, you’re good to go!
With setup wizard:
When you’re logging in for the first time, SiteGround has an easy setup wizard to get your website started. Simply click on “Get WordPress preinstalled on this account”, then click PROCEED.
Enter your login information for your new WordPress account.
Next, it’ll ask you to pick a theme for your account. Don’t drive yourself too crazy when looking through the options. You can always change it later.
And that’s it! You’ll see a quick summary of your installation. Now, you can go to the front page of your blog and check out your site!
Once logged in, click on the “My Accounts” tab, then click the red “Go to cPanel” button.
Under AutoInstallers, you will see a big “W” for WordPress. Click on WordPress, and then click on Install.
Fill in the following information on the next screen:
- Choose Protocol: if your site has SSL, then choose the HTTPS protocol. Otherwise, choose HTTP.
- Choose Domain: enter your domain name.
- In Directory: leave it blank.
- Site Name: the name of your site (your URL without the .com or ending you chose).
- Site Description: a brief description of what your site is about, or you can leave it blank and get to it later.
- Admin username: the name you’ll use to login to your WordPress blog. Your email address can also be used (I X’d mine out for anonymity purposes).
- Admin password: create a strong password you can remember.
- Admin email: enter your email address.
Next is choosing your theme. Click on None.
I recommend not doing serious about your theme until you start planning your blog. I’ll discuss themes further in a minute.
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention any other blogging platforms. I know there are other blogging platforms such as Blogger, and they have their fair share of users, but WordPress is the most frequently used by bloggers.
WordPress is the only thing I’ve ever used and I’ve been using it from the very beginning, so it’s what I recommend. I have had absolutely no issues and it’s actually quite easy to use!
Now, while there were some opportunities to pick out your theme earlier during the install, I recommend not fussing about your blog’s theme until your blog has some sense of direction.
When I first started blogging, all I wanted to do was shop for themes. I bought the first cute theme I saw. It was in the beginning of my blogging journey when I was impulsive and doey-eyed about the prospect of blogging, but had no real plan as to what the focus of my blog would be.
As I wrote content, I realized the theme I purchased didn’t work for the kind of blog I was building. Plus, their customer service was lackluster. I am HUGE on customer service, and for good reason. This blogging journey has taught me that I’m not as tech-savvy as I thought I am, so I need all the help and customer support I can get!
Anyway, the point of the story was that buying my theme early in the process was a mistake, but I made it. You don’t have to!
Of course, recommendations are just that. Recommendations.
While we’re on the subject, I definitely recommend Bluchic if you’re looking for responsive themes that are perfect for the feminine entrepreneur and blogger. Again, great customer service, plus I do enjoy their customer spotlight emails as I get to check out new bloggers!
I use their Isabelle theme and love everything about it. Using their easy-to-follow tutorial and customizing the theme to my liking was such a breeze!
You Have a Blog!
Just like that, you have a website to your name! Time to write content, take pictures, and start sharing your blog posts on social media!
This is where the “fun” begins! I use quotes because, like I said before, there are ups to blogging just as there are downs. There are times where I feel like my blog is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then, there are days where I get overwhelmed and want absolutely nothing to do with it. Believe it or not, that’s the beauty of it all!
I think we all have goals we want to achieve when deciding to start a blog. Achieving those goals wouldn’t be fulfilling if there weren’t obstacles and challenges along the way!
The great thing about blogging is that the blogging community is a supportive one! There’s no question too dumb to ask because all of us have been there at one time or another!
So, if you’re feeling stuck, be it with getting your blog setup, or any other blogging issues you may be having, feel free to comment on my posts, send an email, or find me on Facebook and I’ll be happy to help!
Be patient, enjoy the process, and most importantly, don’t give up!