One of the biggest concerns for me, when I launched my blog, was what platform to use. I knew I had to purchase a domain name and hosting, but how to bring them together and make them work as one was a mystery to me. Because I was a new to tech world, I knew I wanted something easy, yet something that looked professional. However, the easy solutions that were already put together looked amateurish and unprofessional.
Because of this, I decided to hire a graphic designer to help me with the logistics of uploading WordPress to my host and to create a custom theme for me.
I had never worked with a graphic designer and knew nothing about how the design process was supposed to work. I ended up paying for all of her services upfront and sadly for me it was a costly mistake ($600 which did not include hosting costs or a domain purchase).
After months of waiting for her to complete the work, she stopped communicating with me completely. Left with an incomplete blog, I had to hire a web programmer to fix what she had left undone (another $150).
From start to finish it took four months to set up my blog. A process that I was initially told would take 6-8 weeks. Starting a blog doesn't have to be slow, expensive, or a hassle. In fact, if I had to do it again this is exactly how I’d go about it.
Here's How to Start a Blog in Nine Easy Steps:
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
Before you start choosing a domain name and theme, you need to figure out what topics your blog is going to cover. What are you going to write about on a regular basis? You may already have an idea in mind, but if not, I suggest doing some intense brainstorming. Write a list of your passions, hobbies, and dreams, and another with your skills, experiences, and areas of expertise. Then start thinking about possible blog post ideas for each topic. If you're coming up short on article ideas, it's probably not the best topic for a niche.
You'll want to take a good amount of time with this step, as your niche is the basis for everything else you'll do with your blog. If you need more help picking a niche, check out this post for some helpful tips.
Step 2: Setup Your Hosting Account
When I set up my hosting account, there were so many steps involved. I had to decide between a Linux or Windows account, then there was the whole separate c-panel, and FTP, that I was totally lost. Save yourself a headache and use Bluehost. They have made the process so simple, anyone can do it, no tech experience needed. Besides being simple Bluehost offers 24-7 support via phone, email, and chat — which you’ll want should you ever encounter a problem. They’re also affordable ($2.95 to $5.45 a month, plus a free domain), which is a huge plus if you’re launching your blog on a shoestring budget.
For step 1 all you have to do is go to Bluehost.com and click on the green “get started now” button – easy peasy.
Step 3: Select Which Hosting Plan You Want
With Bluehost, there are three hosting options to choose from, Basic for $2.95/month, or Plus or Prime for $5.45/month — these prices are only available through my link, normally it's $3.95 and $5.95 a month) If you have the funds, I’d suggest going with the Plus Plan, because you get more unlimited features; and as your website grows you can switch to a more robust plan.
Step 4: Choose Your Domain Name
When you choose a domain name you’ll want to follow three simple rules:
1. Keep it simple. Refrain from words that are hard to spell or remember.
2. Use a dot.com – .com is what most people remember when typing in a web address.
3. Beware of words with multiple spellings: example: to, two, or too.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name type it into the search box and click next to see if it is available. You may need to brainstorm a few ideas to get the keywords and .com that you want, but don’t worry you’ll find one that works.
When you find your domain name, you’ll need to create your Bluehost account which includes name, address, phone number, and email address.
After you have your account created, you’ll be directed to a page where you need to select your hosting package. You can choose to pay for your hosting in a 12 month period, 24 month period, or a 36 month period — the longer the plan, the cheaper your price. Next, add your payment info and wait for an email confirmation of registration – this only takes a minute or two.
Step 6: Install WordPress
The awesome thing about Bluehost is they make installing WordPress a snap! No tech background needed. Once you’re registered with Bluehost, you’ll receive an email with your c-panel login credentials (Don’t worry, c-panel is short for your control panel and once you log in it’s a couple of clicks to install WordPress).
Once you’re logged in you’ll get a popup screen that says, install WordPress or concrete5, just click on the green “Install WordPress” button. Next, it will ask you which domain you’d like to install WordPress on — choose your domain from the drop-down box and click on the green button, “Check Domain.” When the install starts, you’ll get a screen that says, “Ok, we’re setting up WORDPRESS for you!”
When the install is finished, you’ll get a status update: Installation Complete. On this page, you’ll also get your WordPress login credentials – use these to log in to your new blog, congrats! From beginning to end it takes about 15 – 20 minutes to register, pay, and install.
Now, you may be wondering if it’s difficult to navigate WordPress and I can tell you from experience it’s not. If you can navigate around a Word Document — you’ll be just fine.
When you log in to WordPress, there are some free design templates/themes (on the left-hand side under, appearance) that you can use to customize your site. However, if you’re willing to spend $35 – $199 you can get stylish, professional looking theme that will make you stand out from the crowd. You can either purchase a theme from the Marketplace (located on the left-hand sidebar in WordPress), or you can purchase a theme through Thesis or StudioPress (they have a much larger design selection than the Marketplace).
The process of customizing your blog will take some time (probably a few days), but it’s super easy and fun, and no professional designer is needed. In fact, when I did my site redesign this year, I purchased a theme from StudioPress. I can't tell you how much I love it, it's so easy to modify, and it only took a few days to get everything into place.
Step 8: Marketing Your Blog
Before you can start making money from your blog, you need to market it — basically, let people know about it. Here are some of the most popular methods for getting traffic and marketing your new blog.
Email Marketing – From the day you launch your blog, you need to be collecting email addresses from your readers so that you can remain in contact with them. To do this, you'll need to sign up with an email marketing provider. Don't worry, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get started, in fact, you can get a free account with Constant Contact or Sendinblue.
Once you're signed up — you'll install forms and sign-up boxes on your blog so you can collect reader's email addresses, and send them regular correspondence. This post explains email marketing in more detail so you can get the hang of it quickly.
SEO – SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, you want search engines, like Google, to index and rank your content high in their algorithm, so that when people do an internet search — your content is easily found (preferably on page one). So when you research and write your content you'll want to consider your niche, keywords, questions, and phrases that individuals are searching for and intertwine these into your blog posts. This is an oversimplified definition, but it gives you the gist of what SEO can do your blog. This article talks more about SEO so you can start learning the ropes.
Social Media – To help spread the word about new posts on your blog, you'll want to create social media profiles with some of the various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Each platform has its own pros and cons and which ones you choose to use will depend on your bandwidth and niche. I suggest starting with two – three and investing time in nurturing and growing them before adding more to the mix.
Step 9: Making Money From Your Blog
There are so many ways to earn money from your blog, from direct ad sales and ad networks to affiliate marketing and digital earning – so make sure to check out these must-read articles.
- How to Get Companies to Purchase Advertising Space on Your Blog
- Increase Your Blog’s Money Making Potential with Affiliate Marketing
- How to Get Your First Blog Advertiser
And make sure to grab my FREE blogging e-book, where you'll learn tips for creating awesome content, getting traffic, and monetizing your blog.
I'm obviously a huge fan of starting a blog, but there are many reasons why you should consider blogging too. You get to work in a niche that you love, it's easy and affordable to get started, and it offers freedom, flexibility, and financial stability.
Do you want to start a blog? What's holding you back? What questions do you have about the setup process? Drop me a note below and I'll respond to your question personally.
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