So, you want to start a blog? Great idea!
Not only is blogging a great pastime, but with a blog, you can uniquely express yourself, help others with problems you’ve overcome, establish yourself as an expert, and even make money.
Many successful bloggers gain knowledge, friendships, support, and confidence by hosting a blog. And few of them can turn blogging into a lucrative business.
How the heck do you get started? There’s a lot of info out there on the web, and everybody says differently. Whom do you listen? Where’s the starting point?
Damn, maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing for me!
Well, hold up. I used to be a newbie in blogging too. I had the same problems. I started my blog (TechCrax.com) way back in 20015, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. It was only the week before I’d learned what a blog was.
It used to be required lots of coding skills like HTML, CSS, and PHP, but today is starting a blog can be as simple as creating a document in Word or Notepad.
Complete on How to Create and Start a Blog in 2017
Starting a blog is not as difficult as people think. By following the step-by-step instructions in my Beginner’s Guide to Successful Blogging, you will be able to create and grow your blog, avoiding pitfalls and missteps that hinder some novices.
Why start a blog?
When you know your destination, finding your direction becomes easier, right? People start blogs for different reasons. Today, blogging is a great way to:
- Become a better person. Blogging helps you think clearer, communicate with intentionality and build your creative flair.
- Improve your writing. Writing proficiency comes with regular practice and starting a blog helps you write regularly
- Make your voice heard. Gone are the days when only powerful politicians and wealthy people in business could air their views. Now, you, too, can!
- Make a difference. Do you want to help people take control of their personal finance? Start your own blog. You wish people would exercise more, make healthier meals and rest better? Start a blog.
- Get published. The world is changing, and traditional publishers are falling into irrelevance.
- Smart authors now make a blog, build a loyal audience and publish their works. This approach works always.
- Make money. It takes time and commitment, but people make real money from blogs.
Starting a Blog in Three Easy Steps:
Here is the Complete Step by Step Guide on How to start with blogging and create your first blog on WordPress Self Platform. Let’s start it from scratch.
- Choosing a Niche
- Choosing a domain name, blogging platform and hosting option
- Installing WordPress on Hosting
1. Find a right niche for your blog
There are many different reasons people start blogs.
Some people blog as a hobby. Some blog to expand their business reach online. Some wish to make more money and see blogging as the platform to do that.
Most individual bloggers started a blog because they have a passion for the topic and they have something to say. They also believe they can make money from this topic, either through selling memberships, selling products or through advertising.
What is your reason?
No matter the purpose of the blog, figuring out the niche market is vital.
A blog simply can’t be everything to everyone. Instead, you need to figure out who you are writing to and what topics you’re writing about.
Some people have a clear vision of what they want to blog about. In my experience, though, most people don’t know what to pick!
Whatever your reason for investigating how to set up a blog, I can tell you all you need to know. When it comes to choosing a blog topic, just pick something that you’re interested in!
You may not be an authority on the topic (yet), but select something that you won’t get bored learning about.
Here’s a list of broad topics to get you thinking:
- Global warming
- Beginner’s guides to anything!
- Overcoming adversity or illness
- Life Experiences
- Products or service reviews
- Travel Experiences
- Personal Stories
- Jokes and Humor
- Maybe you want to pick something else entirely.
It really doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy the topic, and are interested in learning more.
Here are some of the most popular blog categories.
With any blog topic, your choice may easily spread into other areas of interest. Don’t feel that the initial topic of the blog will pigeonhole you for life.
Feel free to experiment with a few topics, and see what matches best matches your interests and passions.
2. Choose Blogging Platform
Learning how to start a blog in this day and age is very simple and doesn’t require any technical or web development experience (like it used to years ago). To get started with blogging, you need to choose a platform for your blog.
A blogging platform is what your blog is built on, often referred to as a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily create your blog & write content (blog posts).
It’s top priority to select the correct platform from the beginning.
When it comes to starting your blog you have the following options: free, freemium and self-hosted (recommended) platforms.
For many new bloggers, the availability of free blogging platforms such as Blogger or Tumblr is tempting. Of course, there is one big benefit, it’s free. But you need to understand that having a blog name in this form—yourname.blogspot.com or yourname.tumblr.com, is the sign of an inexperienced beginner who likely won’t be taken seriously.
By keeping your blog on a free platform, you let the platform own your name. You’ll be subject to their rules and restrictions, they may limit or prohibit ads on your blog, or they may even place their own ads on your blog. If you’re serious about blogging, you’ll want to move away from this option.
Freemium means you’ll have a trial period before you have to start paying (costs vary from $5 to $30 per month). Several platforms are available. One of the most popular is TypePad. This platform focuses on ease of use for writing, but customization options are limited and it lacks certain features of value to bloggers.
By default, your TypePad blog name will look like this: yourname.typepad.com. It’s not always the best option if you’re trying to build the name and brand for your blog. However, you could point your own domain (purchased through any domain registrar) to a TypePad blog.
Self-hosted platforms allow you to run a blog on your own domain. Aside from following your domain registrar and web hosting company’s rules, you’re fully in charge of your blog and its contents.
You have the number of choices when it comes to a self-hosted blog system (also called Content Management System or CMS). The most popular is WordPress.org.
This blog option is called self-hosted because you will use your own web hosting space and name for your blog. It normally costs $1 to $8 per month for the web space (hosting account), depending on the company you choose, and $12 to $15 per year for the name (domain). The actual CMS is usually open-source and free.
Here is the difference between WorddPress.com and WordPress.org(Self-hosted) Platform.
WordPress.com – Where they host your blog on the subdomain like foodie.wordpress.com, You can also park Your domain at normal price and can be registered via same.
WordPress.org – Self-hosted platform, where you have complete control and host the blog on your own server, Your domain and have full control over how it looks, operates and how you can monetize it. It is entirely free to use, but you need to arrange your hosting, domain, etc.
You can also understand it from this infographic designed by blogtyrant.com
Here is the difference between WorddPress.com and WordPress.org(Self-hosted) Platform.
The graph below illustrates the usage of blogging platforms from 2017. As you can see, more than half of all bloggers choose to go with WordPress, something I highly recommend you doing as well.
In fact, this blogging platform is so popular that it’s raked in more than 72 million downloads and comprises over 48% of the top 100 websites on the internet.
Considering there are now over 1 billion websites on the internet. That’s huge! Moreover upward of 52% of new domains in the U.S are being run on WordPress.
WordPress is open source software, which means it’s free and open for developers to contribute to. This is also great for you because it gives you tons of options for plugins (add-ons), themes, and a way to completely customize your blog.
This is the reason most of our sites are on WordPress.org Self-hosted server.
Choosing a domain name for your blog
Buying a domain name for a blog is a fun thing to do. Some people like to ask friends and family for some direction. Others have a clear view of the domain name they are looking to purchase.
Often, the most competitive domain names with the .com extension will already be taken. But don’t give up! There are over 486 different domain extensions to choose from. (An extension is the ending of the domain, such as .com or.co.uk.)
You’ll find the perfect domain name for your blog in no time.
Some tips when choosing a domain name for your blog
- Should you use your personal name or pick a more general topic? Answering this should be simple. Is the blog about you, or are you trying to build a brand apart from yourself?
- Make it easy to type. You don’t want other people getting your traffic if someone types in another website by mistake!
- Make it pronounceable. There’s no need to confuse people with complicated spellings, or creative misspellings.
- Keep it short. Fewer characters mean less hassle for the user and less risk of mistyping.
- Don’t use other company’s brand names or trademarked slogans. They will come after you and shut you down!
- Try to use broad keywords. Top-level topics like Cooking are great, but you need to connect these big ideas to narrower topics.
- Make sure that the blog’s name makes sense. It needs to be intuitive to the user and Google!
- Avoid number and hyphens. These confuse people, and it makes it hard to explain the domain to others.
How much will a domain cost for my blog?
A domain costs around $10-$12/year. Many hosting companies add extra charges for additional features. Here is the list of best domain registrars in 2017 to buy your new domain.
Hosting your Blog
Web hosting is an Internet service provider that will store your blog content and make it available on the Internet for visitors to access. There are thousands of web hosting providers, most disappear after days of being in business due to the low cost of entry and that is why being smart about your web hosting decision will save you from major headaches down the road.
Without a domain and web hosting, your blog won’t be seen online or get any traffic. The two are inseparable! There are plenty of web hosting companies to choose from. Prices generally start from minimum $1 month.
When you look at hosting services, you’ll find that there are a lot of options. Generally, pricing depends on the type of hosting and hosting providers. For your first website, I recommend starting with a shared hosting plan. To help you understand your options, though, here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of hosting:
- Shared Hosting – This type of plan involves placing your website on the same server as other websites. Everyone shares the space and resources, but they are all separate from one another. You’ll have the power and speed to manage your first website just fine.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) – The next step up is a virtual private server. This type of plan still places you on the same server as other websites, but there’s a virtual wall separating you from the others. You’ll have access to guaranteed resources and power as if you were on a separate server.
- Dedicated Hosting – The highest level of hosting simply offers you an entire server to use for your websites. This is usually the option chosen by major bloggers or businesses and comes with a hefty price tag.
- Cloud Hosting – This has become more popular in recent years. It’s a flexible form of hosting that stores your website across multiple servers. As needs come and go, it can scale with your website dynamically and provide additional resources only when you need them.
Best WordPress hosting for new blog
Best WordPress hosting in 2017
Ordering a web host: A walk-through guide
The following links will walk you through the ordering process at Selected web hosting.
- Ordering Hosting from Bluehost Guide
- Ordering Hosting from Siteground Guide
- Ordering Hosting from Dreamhost Guide
3. Installing WordPress on Hosting
Now that you’ve got your web hosting account, let’s work on actually setting up your new blog.
There are two ways to install WordPress – the platform where you are going to setup your blog.
One, you can do it manually by downloading the files from WordPress.org and uploading them to your web host; or, use the auto-installation app provided by above hosts. Both methods are fairly simple but for newbies – I don’t see why you should do this manually.
WordPress Manual Installation
The official step-by-step guide can be found here. In a quick glance, here are the steps you need to do:
- Download and unzip the WordPress package to your local PC.
- Create a database for WordPress on your web server, as well as a MySQL user who has all privileges for accessing and modifying it.
- Rename the wp-config-sample.php file to wp-config.php.
- Open wp-config.php in text editor (notepad) and fill in your database details.
- Place the WordPress files in the desired location on your web server.
- Run the WordPress installation script by accessing wp-admin/install.php in your web browser. If you installed WordPress in the root directory, you should visit: http://example.com/wp-admin/install.php; if you installed WordPress in its own subdirectory called blog, for example, you should visit: http://example.com/blog/wp-admin/install.php
- And you are done.
Auto WordPress Installation
Okay, I suppose you just skipped the manual installation guide and come to this part. Wise choice 😉
The easiest way to setup WordPress in your Any web hosting account is to “auto” install it using the built-in App Installer or from other auto installers from Softaculous and Installatron. With the support of auto installation service, the process is pretty much idiot-proof and can be done in just a few mouse clicks. You can refer to the following links for additional details.
- Install WordPress Manually from cPanel.
- Install WordPress from Softaculous Auto Installer
- Install WordPress from Installatron
The things might look different if you are doing this (auto-installation) on other web host but the process is generally the same.
As long as you are sticking with an auto-installation app like Installatron or Softaculous or Simple Scripts, the process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
Writing your first blog post
Once you have got your WordPress system installed, you will be given an URL to login to your WordPress administrator page.
In most cases, the URL will be something like this (depends on the folder you installed the WordPress):
Tip: It’s a good idea to bookmark this wp-admin login URL since you will be coming in here very often.
More tip: It would be even better if you change this login URL to something else (ie. exampleblog.com/login-page) for security purposes.
Now, go to this admin URL and login with your preset username and password (the one that you key in when you installed your WordPress earlier); and there, you are now in the WordPress administrator area. This will be the part of the blog where only you as the administrator can access.
Here’s a quick view on how WordPress dashboard looks like. Pretty cool, isn’t it? And we are ready to publish our very first post.
To write and publish a new post, simply navigate to the left sidebar, click ‘Posts’ > ‘Add New’ and you’ll be directed to the writing screen. Click ‘Preview’ to preview how things look like on the front-end (what your readers will see), click ‘Publish’ once the post is complete.
Hola! You now have your first blog post published.
WordPress Blog Designs
Now that we are done with the basics in blogging, it’s time to take a deeper dive.
Generally speaking, a WordPress blog is supported by 3 main elements:
- CMS Core – the system that we installed earlier using auto installer.
- Plugins – add-on functions that give you additional controls and features on your blog
- Themes – the design of your blog
In other words, to design your WordPress blog, all we need to do is customize the design of your blog theme.
The beauty of WordPress is that your blog’s design, also known as the theme, is separated from the backend system.
You can change your theme as often as you’d like, customize a packaged theme, or even create a new theme from scratch if you have the design skills.
However, to have a nice design for your blog, you don’t have to create a theme from scratch.
Other people have already done this for you, after all.
Yep – that’s right.
Truth is, most individual WordPress bloggers do not create their own blog themes. Rather, what most of us do is to pick a ready-made theme (or a raw theme) and customize it according to our needs. There are endless numbers of beautiful (and useful) WordPress themes around the Internet – a simple search on Google will lead you to millions. If this is your first time establishing a WordPress blog, my suggestion to you is to start with a ready-made theme and tweak it along the way.
Where to find well-designed blog themes?
Official WordPress Theme Directory
This is where you can get all the free WordPress themes. Themes listed in this directory follow very tight standards provided by the WordPress developers, hence, in my opinion, this is the best place to get free, bug-less theme designs.
Check out Official WordPress Theme
Paid Theme Directory
Another way to get high quality paid themes is to subscribe to blog theme clubs. Theme clubs offer a wide variety of designs for one low price.
The overall look and feel of your WordPress blog is controlled by your theme. Choose a theme that you are comfortable with, one that gives you the look and feel that you want for your blog. There are two basic parts to the theme used for Blog Basics: the framework (structure) and child theme (look & feel).
- Framework – There are several WordPress frameworks to choose from, however, we use the Genesis Framework on nearly every blog we build. The reason we use Genesis is because it’s fast, optimized for search engines, and StudioPress provides fantastic support.
- Child Theme – Now that you have the Genesis Framework, the time has come to choose your blog design or child theme. There are loads of different options. Practice patience looking through them and make sure you pick the design that suits your blogging purpose best!
This all sounds nice, but how does it equivalate to your brand new blog? Right now you’re looking at a blank canvas and you’re eager to get painting. I understand completely, so we’re going to boil it down.
Here’s my personal checklist for choosing the perfect WordPress theme:
- Does it have all of the features you need? On a separate page, create a list of the things you want the theme to do so you know what you’re looking for.
- Does the theme have support for third-party plugins? You shouldn’t run into any themes that aren’t compatible with plugins, but you should look to see if they compliment the ones you’re going to use. Say you want to install Woo Commerce. You may want to choose a theme that is specially designed to work well with that plugin.
- Free or Premium? WordPress offers both free and paid theme options. You can start with a free one and switch without much hassle, but you should know that themes aren’t very expensive if you want to go premium. It’s important to check that the theme is updated regardless of it being free or premium.
- Pricing Model? Premium themes come in a few different flavors. Some of them have a single payment that includes support and updates, while others will have recurring payments. In some cases, you can pay for access to a membership that gives you multiple themes to choose from.
- Customization Options? Themes are usually designed with some level of customization in mind. You should consider how much control you want. For some, a few big options are best because they don’t have design experience, while others prefer to tweak everything they can.
- How’s the SEO and Speed? The user experience people receive when interacting with the theme is very important. You should look for a theme that boasts clean coding and high SEO standards. It should load fast and look great for the best results.
I am a premium subscriber to MyThemeshop from many years. I have used Genesis Framework themes from StudioPress.
For your reference, here are some of the WordPress themes available on Mythemeshop. You can go check out all their theme and Plugin designs.
Perks of using a paid themes
Free is (always) good. But do keep in mind that you might not get the kind of professional designs and comprehensive functions you wish with those free themes.
Generally speaking, paid themes are better supported and frequently updated.
Plus, there will be far fewer bloggers using a paid theme at any given time (if branding is important).
Tweak Your Blog and Adjust Settings
Now you have everything you need to get started; hosting, domain name, WordPress, and theme, now you get to have some fun tweaking your blog to give it the personalization you want to deliver an awesome experience to your readers!
For example, you can customize your navigation menu, logo, footer, sidebar and much more be depending on the theme that you selected. We also recommend that you start capturing email addresses and begin communicating with your audience by email.
To help you tweak your settings and make sure everything is ready for you to start writing, here’s my post-WordPress installation checklist:
- Delete the “Hello world” post by going to posts > All posts > Place your mouse on the post > Trash.
- Do the same with your sample page by going to Pages > All pages > Hover over it > Trash.
- Install the theme of your choice by going to Appearances > Themes > Install Themes > Add New. When you find one, be sure to install it and click activate.
- Go to Plugins > Add New to start searching for plugins to download and activate like the theme.
- Go to Settings > Discussion to enable or disable comments as you see fit. Click save changes when you’re finished.
- Set up your permalinks by clicking on Settings > Permalinks > choose permalink structure/create your own. I personally create my own.
Essential WordPress Plugins
One of the big reasons why WordPress is so widely accepted is the ease of use of plugins.
Plugins are additional functions that you can add to your blog, such as site backup or social media share buttons. Plugins not only make your life easier, they can enhance your blog and protect your work. Contrary to popular belief, a well-designed plugin does not slow down your blog. There are some plugins that you must at least know about and have.
- Akismet (PreInstalled) or Zero Spam
- SEO Redirection
- Pretty Link Lite or Thirstyaffiliates
- Sassy Social Share
- Shortcodes Ultimate <3
- Yoast SEO <3
- W3 Total Cache or WPRocket
It’s important to keep certain things in mind as you install plugins. For starters, you should look for ones that have a good amount of reviews and a reputable developer.
[su_warning]Downloading plugins from unknown sources can lead to bulky and slow programs that do more harm than good to your site. You should also check and see when the plugin was last updated so you know it’s supported.[/su_warning]
As you update your WordPress installation, you’ll find that certain plugins won’t be compatible with newer versions, so consider this when downloading them.
Congratulations! Now you have your own domain name, hosting space and your blog is set up. Next, you will need to get familiar with the WordPress dashboard, learn how to make desired changes to your blog, start your content creation and promotion in order to become a successful blogger.
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