So you’ve decided to enter the wide world of blogging. Congratulations! But if you’re like a lot of folks, just deciding that you want to blog is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how to get up and running with your blog. But have no fear, I’m here to show you the way with these steps to take your new blog from a simple idea to reality.
Note: While there are a few different blog platforms on the market, WordPress is the golden standard. It’s easy to use, has a plethora of free designs and add-on features to choose from and has a large online support community should you run into problems. For these reasons and many others, I’ll be focusing on WordPress for this article.
#1: Figure out your blog topic
Before you do anything else, you must decide what you want to blog about. This crucial decision will inform everything you do from here on forward. When you’re picking your topic, think about why you want to start blogging. Are you trying to attract clients? Expand your business in a certain niche market? Develop your SEO in a particular market? Or are you simply trying to showcase your expertise? Decide on your goals first and use those to guide your topic selection.
Just make sure whatever you decide on is something you will want to write about. Blogging takes time and dedication to produce results, and writing about something you care about will make it easier for you to stick with it for the long haul.
#2: Come up with a name
Now that you have a topic, it’s time to name your blog. Your name should provide a clue to what you’ll be writing about. It should also be catchy enough that people will remember it and want to learn more if all they saw were the title.
#3: Decide on a URL
Ideally, your domain, or for our purposes your URL, should tie in with the name of the blog. Doing this will make it easier for people to remember and keeps your blog branding consistent. You’ll also want to make sure the URL you’d like to use is available for purchase. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use GoDaddy.com’s domain name search. They’ll tell you if it’s available and how much it’ll cost.
#4: Purchase a hosting service and URL
Your blog has to live somewhere, and that’s what your hosting service is for. If all you want to do with your new domain is use it for your blog, you should consider using a WordPress hosting solution such as WordPress.com (starting at $118/year with your custom domain) or GoDaddy’s WordPress hosting solution (starting at $12/year with your custom domain). These hosting solutions are optimized for blogging and take care of the WordPress installation process, security and backups for you. You do give up the ability to use some of the more advanced customization features of the WordPress platform, but for most people having the technical setup taken care of is worth this small sacrifice. I would recommend this type of solution for most new bloggers, especially those with no coding experience.
For anyone who would like a little more control over their blog environment and isn’t afraid of getting their hands dirty, you might consider a self-hosted solution. For this approach, you will install WordPress on a basic web hosting package from GoDaddy (starting at $41.88/year with your custom domain), Fatcow (starting at $49/year with your custom domain) or any other web hosting provider. This takes a little more work to setup and maintain, but it gives you total freedom to customize your blog setup and design. This is also the solution you will want if you plan to do anything more with your domain beyond your blog, such as custom email addresses and other websites.
#5: Complete the WordPress setup process
If you chose a WordPress hosted solution, this is pretty simple. Both of the WordPress hosting solutions above do a great job of walking you through the setup process step-by-step. Just read the screen and follow the prompts. Plus, most of the settings you’ll be asked to set can be modified later in your WordPress Dashboard Settings, just in case you change your mind.
If you opted for a self-hosted solution, getting setup is a little more involved but still pretty quick. Now that you have purchased your hosting package, you need to get WordPress up and running. Most hosting services give you a WordPress install option on your Control Panel. This install process doesn’t take long and is easy to follow, but if you aren’t sure what to do or need a little extra help, consult your hosting provider’s support site for tips or call your hosting provider’s customer support line.
#6: Pick a design template
One of the best things about WordPress is that it comes with hundreds of pre-built designs, called templates, to pick from. Just head to your WordPress Dashboard; under Appearance, you’ll go to Themes. Here you can browse through the available free and premium themes. Find one you like? Use the ‘Activate’ button on that theme to make it live on your site. If you decide you don’t like that one, you can change it by simply activating a different theme.
These steps will get you well on your way, but you’re not done just yet. Visit Starting a Blog, Part 2 to finish your setup and get started blogging.