When you’re looking to start a blog then the first and most important thing that you decide upon before anything else, is what your blog is going to be about.
I’m going to start off by assuming you already know what you want your blog to be about.
Now we’ve got that sorted out, lets get down to the technical stuff!
So lets take a look at the steps that you need to take to start a blog.
Step 1 – Choose a Blogging Platform
So what’s a blogging platform?
Just like a computer needs an operating system to run it’s software a blog needs a blogging platform that it can be built on.
And just like there are different computer operating systems like Windows, Apple and Linux, there are also lots of blogging platforms like Wordpress.com, WordPress.org, Ghost, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, Weebly, Blogger, Tumblr and Live Journal and that’s not all of them on offer. I think sometimes there can be too much choice!
These blogging platforms tend to fall into two categories, Hosted and Self-Hosted platforms.
A Hosted platform is like it suggests, a platform where the blog is hosted for you, so you never have to worry about hosting, updates or security. They’re also really easy to set up, but do only give you limited options for customising your site (and domain name).
Also another thing to keep in mind when lookig at Hosted platforms is that you do not have full control over your site, you have to keep to their rules and ultimately they can pull your site whenever they want for whatever reason. Examples of Hosted Platforms are Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, Weebly, and Live Journal.
On the other hand you have Self-Hosted platforms, and again as the name suggests you need to sort out the hosting for your site and update it and sort out security for it.
In return you can pretty much customise your site in any way you can think of! You have full control of your site for better or worse… Examples of Self–Hosted platforms are WordPress.org, Drupal, and Joomla.
I will go a bit deeper into explaining the differences between each one in another post. But what I will say is that I personally would choose WordPress.org and a domain to give you the greatest flexibility and control. In fact that’s what I do use for all my blogs.
Step 2 – Choose a Host
Here’s a quick explanation of what a host is:
‘hosting or web hosting is what a website/blog needs so people can view it. It gives you space on the internet for your website/blog to ‘live’. A hosting provider is a company that provides this for you, they ‘host’ your website on their servers (large computers) and you pay a fee to them to ‘rent’ that space.’
There are different types of hosting you can buy like shared, VPS or dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is the most common hosting for a blog. So if you’re looking around at hosting companies for prices then look for their shared option. They can be charged monthly or annually depending on the plan you choose.
Again lots of choice here for example Dreamhost, Bluehost, Hostgater and Godaddy are all well known hosting companies.
Read the small print carefully before signing up for a plan to make sure it is what you want. The way some companies ‘sell’ their pricing plans can be a little confusing as the price may look to be what you want to pay, but on closer inspection that’s the 3 year price and the 12 month price is more expensive?
So just be careful I will be diving deeper on this very shortly.
The hosting that I use and have used since I started blogging in 2007 is Bluehost.
Step 3 – Choose a Domain Name
What’s a Domain Name?
So if you think of your hosting as your little corner of the internet – or your house, then your domain is your address. And just like with a normal house if you don’t have the address you can’t find the house.
To get your ‘address’ you can use a Domain Registration service like Namechaep, 123reg or Godaddy. You pay a yearly fee to register the name and then to keep it you have to re-register every year. The yearly fee can be around $10 – $20 depending on the name that you choose.
Obviously with so many websites and blogs out there these days it can not be easy to find the domain name that you want, Although there are a lot more extensions available now than there were (extensions are .com .org .info etc) competition is tough to get a domain that will stand out and be memorable.
You can use a domain registering service and keep all your domains in one place, and also to research which domains are free to use. But then you can use different hosting for the domains (or each one of them!) if you want. Price wise that may work out better or you may just prefer to keep your domains and hosting separate.
Most hosting companies offer both hosting and domain registration, some plans will have a free domain with it as well which can be handy. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to having all your domains and hosting in the one place.
I register my domains with Bluehost so all my hosting and domains are in the same place, which makes it easier when they are due to renew for me.
But I also think it’s a really good idea to shop around and do some research, to work out the best way of doing it for you and your budget. I will be reviewing my hosting and domains before they renew next year, and I’ll detail the options for you here on Build a Blog.
Step 4 – Install WordPress
You’re nearly there!
So you have chosen your blogging platform, and your hosting and picked a domain name, everything is ready to go. The next step is to install your blogging platform software onto your hosting account. Remember the comparison I made to computers? This is like installing the operating system onto your computer.
If you’ve chosen WordPress.org as your blogging platform, then this is a one click install with Bluehost (and a lot of other hosting companies) through your control panel, which is the main dashboard for your hosting account.
Just look for the WordPress logo, click it, and it will walk you through the process of setting it up.
This is the point where most companies will try and up sell you for addons and themes. Read through them carefully before clicking through, as you may end up with more than you bargained for if you press the wrong button!
Once you’ve installed it you will have access to the WordPress installation for your blog. Take careful note of the domain of your installation and the username and password as you’ll need all of these to be able to log into your blog in the future.
Basically you’ve just set up your blog! And you can log into your blog and start creating content.
Congratulations – now the fun starts!
Step 5 – Choose a Theme
When you first look at your blog it will look very plain and very empty!
WordPress comes with a default theme that automatically loads and gives you a starting point for your blogs design.
If you think of your Hosting as your house, and your Domain as your address, then themes are the interior design of your house!
And you know how much fun interior design is…
Themes can give you limitless possibilities for your blogs design and you can choose from literally millions of themes whether that’s a free theme, premium theme or theme framework you will be able to make your blog as unique as you want.
Personally, I feel if you’ve chosen WordPress.org and you are a beginner, then there is a learning curve involved when using it. And if you’ve never used anything like that before it can be steep.
Then on top of that you need to learn how to customise your chosen theme.
So my advice for a beginner with WordPress is to start off with a free theme, and get used to using WordPress and all it’s functionality like plugins and widgets for instance.
When you’ve got a good grasp of WordPress and are happy with it, then if you want you can look around for a premium theme that does everything that you want it to, as they themselves tend to have their own learning curve.
It just lets you chunk your learning down into more manageable pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed.
That hardest part is deciding which theme to choose…