So, you want to start a blog huh? Great idea!
But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the web, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. Who do you listen to? Where’s the starting point?
Damnit, maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing!
Well, hold up. I used to be a blogging newbie too. I had the same problems. I started my blog (BloggingBasics101.com) way back in 2006, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. In fact, it was only the week before I’d learned what a blog was.
Now I know a ton about them, and my blog’s doing pretty well – I receive more than 300,000 unique visitors per month which makes me consider myself someone you could listen to and learn from when it comes to building your own blog. I’m not some sort of Guru, but I certainly do know the basics.
I promise it’ll be simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid jargon). Sound good?
Awesome, let’s move on.
Why you should create a blog and join the blogging community
So below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before we dive in though, I really want to talk about WHY you should build a blog.
Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.
Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
You become a better person and a better writer.
The best reason? You can make money doing it!
I bet you already knew all of that, but it’s nice to be reminded.
One very last thing before we get started:
The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide
It’s nowhere near as difficult as setting up a website from scratch (there’s very little technical ability needed here). In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Good news, huh?
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps:
There are five main steps you need to do in order to start a blog. If you follow this guide exactly, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less.
Choose a great blog platformChoose a web host for your blogHow to Set up a blog on your own domainDesign your new blogUseful resources for blogging
So, we made it. Phew. Better late than never! So, without further ado, let’s jump into step 1.
Step 1 – Choose your preferred blogging platform
Choosing where you want to build blog is pretty much the first thing you have to do. I’m going to take a leap and assume you’ve heard of WordPress, and this is the platform I advocate. It’s massive.
It’s by far one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world, with countless plugins and add-ons and almost infinite ways to design and layout your blog.
There are more than 82 million active users of WordPress = a lot, basically.
There are other alternatives, however, and they are listed below:
Blogger – Definitely the next best thing to WordPress.
Tumblr – Half social network, half blog. Interesting, and very simple to use.
Even though WordPress is bigger (and probably better) than those two, here are my reasons why you should still go with WordPress:
Super easy set-up and is free to useTons of free themes and layouts (I’m not kidding, there are gazillions).
There’s a massive support forum in case you get stuck (you won’t, but it’s nice to have it there if you need it).
Your blog will be insanely fast and it’ll also look Functionality and form – perfect!
People can interact with you easily. Your content can be shared, commented on, and so on.
Now, Step 2 (see, we’re moving fast now!)
Step 2 – Self-hosting or a free alternative?
Whoa, slow down there! This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make before we go any further. You need to decide whether to pay for your blog or grab a free one.
WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger all offer free blogs for anyone. Awesome, right? It’s perfect for those of us who aren’t super serious about blogging. But it does have downsides:
1) You won’t be able to get your OWN domain name
On a free blog, your blog’s web address (your URL) will be butt-ugly. Like, really ugly. In short, create a free blog with any other the above free blog services and it’ll look like this:
I know, ugly right?
2) Limits and more limits
There are some limits to free blogs. You can’t fully monetize it, and you don’t have the possibility to upload all those videos and images you want to show everyone – it’s all limited. Worse still, you won’t even have access to the free themes offered by WordPress.
3) You DON’T OWN your blog
It might sound silly at first, but you don’t actually own your blog. It’s hosted on someone else’s web property and they can delete it if they want to. They have done so in the past, and keep doing it in the future. Which means all your hard work on your blog, all those countless hours of writing blog posts might have vanished within seconds. Sad…
On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog on your own domain name – you are the REAL owner of your blog. You’ll be able to name your blog whatever you want, for example, “YourName.com” or “YourAwesomeBlog.com. You can end it with .com, .co.uk, .net, .org, or virtually any other web suffix. Add to that unlimited bandwidth for videos, images, and content plus the free themes and you have a winning combo.
So how much is hosting and a domain name? Not as much as you’re thinking, fortunately. It usually works out to about $5 to $10 per month, depending on your hosting provider which is less than a couple of coffees.
Step 3 – Start a blog on your own domain (if you chose self-hosting and a custom domain)
I’m going to push ahead based on the premise you’ve chosen WordPress, and if you haven’t, you should. Seriously, it’s the best.
If you’re still a little confused by what a self-hosted blog is, allow me to explain and how you can go about setting one up for yourself.
You’ll need to come up with a domain name you like and also choose a hosting company that can host your blog.
Domain: The domain is basically the URL of your website. Examples: google.com (Google.com is the domain), Facebook.com (Facebook.com is the domain). See? Simple!
Hosting: Hosting is basically the company that puts your website up on the internet so everyone else can see it. Everything will be saved on there. Think of it as a computer hard-drive on the internet where your blog will be saved.
Step 4 – Designing your WordPress blog
Now, the fun bit.
Let’s make your blog look exactly how you want it to. To choose a new theme, you can either head to Appearance > Themes and install a free WordPress theme.
I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customize. WordPress also has this awesome feature that allows you to change themes with just a few clicks. So if you start getting tired of your current blog template, you can just switch to another one without losing any precious content or images.
Remember, your blog’s design should reflect both you and your personality, but also what the blog is about. There’s no point having a football-orientated theme if your blog is about tennis, understand?
On top of that, it should be easy to navigate if you want people to stick around. If it’s tricky and difficult to move around it, people won’t stay. After all design is a subjective art; meaning everyone likes different things.
But no one likes ugly websites, and they especially hate websites that need a university degree to navigate. Make it easy for them.
Last step! Woo!
Step 5 – Useful Resources For Beginner Bloggers
Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.
WordPress.com – a free hosted blogging platform
Blogger – another free hosted option – owned by Google
Tools for Graphic Design
Canva – an online graphic design tool that even someone like I can create decent visuals for my blog with! Great for creating graphics for social media.
PicMonkey – another useful tool for creating visual content for your blog
99designs – need some graphics, a logo or some other design element created by a pro? Check out the services offered by the thousands of designers at 99designs.
24slides – are a team of professional presentation designers who specialise in building awesome PowerPoints, Keynotes and more. An efficient service to make you look good.
Tools and Services for Email Marketing
Drip – the email service provider ProBlogger uses and that we highly recommend for advanced bloggers who are monetizing their blogs and want to supercharge their email marketing
ConvertKit – built for bloggers, we recommend this email service for beginner to intermediate bloggers
Feedblitz – a great tool for managing your RSS feeds and email
SumoMe – a tool to help you collect email addresses through a variety of popups, hello bars, welcome mats and other innovative tools.
OptinMonster – a similar tool to SumoMe
LeadPages – a powerful tool to create landing pages for your blog.
Tools for Social Media Management
AgoraPulse – a powerful tool we use for scheduling social media updates and monitoring our social media accounts.
CoSchedule – an essential blogging tool that can manage your social media messaging, blog post publication and editorial calendar – all from within WordPress. We love using CoSchedule for ProBlogger.
Edgar – a social media tool that has revolutionised the way that I approach my social media strategy. It’s very powerful and allows you to make the work you put into creating your tweets and social updates to keep working for you indefinitely.
Sprout Social – a tool similar to AgoraPulse (above) that we’ve previously used.
Tools for Productivity and Team Management
Evernote – where I manage a lot of my brainstorming, note taking, capturing of ideas, writing of blog posts and much much more!
Slack – the tool we use for our team’s internal communications.
Trello – another tool that we use internally for communications and project management
Fantastical – a great calendar app for Macs and iOS.
Wunderlist – my todo list application
Other Blogging Resources and Tools
Ecamm Live – an amazing tool for Mac users to create Facebook LIVE videos
BuzzSumo – a fantstic tool for analysing how well content is being shared on your site (or anyone else’s)
MarsEdit – a little Mac blog editor that allows me to write content and upload it to my blog without actually logging into WordPress
Easy Digital Downloads – a fantastic solution for you to use from within WordPress if you’re selling products from your blog. It’s what we use to sell our eBooks here on ProBlogger.
E-Junkie – another solution for a shopping cart if you’re selling products from your blog. It’s not as powerful as Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) but is very simple to set up and use. We have used it on both of my blogs over the years but are now shifting to EDD.
Auphonic – a great little online tool that we use in our production of podcasts to level out different tracks and levels.
Zoom – a tool that we use for webinars but also to broadcast to Facebook Live video that allows bringing on guests and screen sharing.
ScreenFlow – a tool for recording Screencasting
Grammarly – a very cool Chrome extension that checks your spelling and grammar for you!
Google Analytics – a great free metrics/statistics program. It’s an industry standard, you need to have it installed!
us Links – a great tool/resource for managing your affiliate links – particularly useful if you have a global audience and monetize with Amazon’s affiliate program.
And that’s it!