How to start a blog

How to start a blog

Step One:  Decide What You’ll Blog About

How to start a blog. I can only imagine how many times that phrase has been entered in Google’s search bar but starting a blog is truly easier than most think! One of the first things you must do is simply decide what you’ll be blogging about. I remember watching a Steve Jobs interview on YouTube and I will always remember what he said about having passion. He said:

“People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing and it’s totally true. And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up. It’s really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up. And that’s what happens to most people, actually. If you really look at the ones that ended up, you know, being “successful” in the eyes of society and the ones that didn’t, oftentimes, it’s the ones [who] were successful loved what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough. And the ones that didn’t love it quit because they’re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don’t love it?

So it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of worrying constantly and if you don’t love it, you’re going to fail. So you’ve got to love it and you’ve got to have passion and I think that’s the high-order bit.”

So before you build your blog, you should probably decide what you’ll blog about. Ideally, it should be something that you are truly passionate about. For Startuup, we truly are passionate about helping others create a better lifestyle with the help of personal experiences and great content found online. Your blog should have some sort of central, uniting theme as this will give the audience a feel for what your site is all about and will help you establish your expertise in some particular area.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you get started blogging:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you know a lot about?
  • What do you want to know a lot about that you could write about as you learn?

Blogging should be enjoyable for you. Don’t choose a subject that bores you, just because you think it will be popular. Pick something that you can go a few hours writing a blog about and time just flies by. The words and topics should come easy for you.

Step Two:  Choose Your Blogging Platform

The next step is to choose your blogging platform. To write and publish a post on the Internet, you need a blogging platform. To be honest, there truly isn’t any choice as I only recommend the King of the mountain, WordPress.org. To be clear, there are two versions of WordPress out there: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I don’t recommend WordPress.com, as it will seriously limit what you can and can’t do with your blog. It will also mean your blog address will, by default, be something like www.yoursitename.wordpress.com (hint: you don’t want this!).

WordPress.org, on the other hand, will let you set up a fully-customizable blog that you can use for many years – and just like WordPress.com, the software is completely free to use.

Why WordPress?

  • It’s really easy to use. Even if you’re not very tech savvy, WordPress makes it simple to write new blog posts and create new pages. You can literally add something in a matter of seconds.
  • It’s completely free, making it the most cost effective platform. Wait, am I contradicting myself? Didn’t I say you should stay away from free platforms? Here’s what I mean. WordPress is a free platform, but you’ll need to pay a small amount of money to host your blog somewhere. Don’t worry, I’ll explain that it in a bit. But WordPress itself is free.
  • WordPress is enormously popular, making up almost 25% of the entire Internet. Seriously, that’s how many people use it. And, WordPress is also one of, if not the most popular blogging platform out there. Everyone uses it, meaning you’ll always be able to find the resources you’re looking for.
  • It’s open source. This simply means that anyone who knows what they’re doing can create their own WordPress theme or plugin. Because of this, there is an enormous library of around 40,000 free plugins, all of which add different functions to your site. There are also thousands of free themes which you can use to change the look and feel of your website.
  • It’s responsive, meaning that your blog will look great on mobile devices. Honestly, most of your readers will probably be on their smartphones or tablets. Do you really want a blog that doesn’t work well on a mobile device? That would be crazy.

WordPress is, hands down, the best blogging platform out there in terms of cost, power, ease of use, flexibility, and number of resources. Almost ALL big name bloggers use WordPress, and there’s really no reason you should choose something else.

Step Three:  Choose Your Host

While WordPress.org is free to use, you will need a company to host your blog. The host will essentially give your blog a “home” online and this is where your blog will “live”.

Choosing your web host is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You want to choose one that’s reliable, offers great customer support, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For Startuup.co I’m using BlueHost and couldn’t be any happier.

BlueHost

There are a hundreds of hosting services available—perhaps thousands. However, based on my experience and research, I recommend Bluehost. I believe it is the best option for most people for the following seven reasons:

  • Reason #1: Support. Bluehost has great 24–7 support via phone, e-mail, or chat. I have personally used it several times and found the support staff to be quick, courteous, and knowledgeable. All of the company’s support staff are located in the U.S.
  • Reason #2: Reliability. Bluehost is super reliable. It boasts an uptime average of 99.9%. That’s about as good as it gets.
  • Reason #3: Ease of Use. Bluehost is super easy-to-use (as you can witness in the above video). In fact, shockingly so. You’ll wonder why you haven’t set up a hosting service before now.
  • Reason #4: WordPress. Interestingly, WordPress itself only officially recommends three hosting services. Bluehost is number one. It hosts over 850,000 WordPress blogs.
  • Reason #5: No Limits. Bluehost offers unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains (i.e., you can host multiple blogs or sites on one account), and unlimited e-mail accounts.
  • Reason #6: Affordability. Bluehost is inexpensive—about $3.95 to $5.95 a month, depending on which plan you select. The longer you are willing to commit, the cheaper it is.
  • Reason #7: Values. In its Terms of Service (see Section 10.03, Bluehost prohibits pornography, nudity, and other adult content. It strictly enforces this standard and deletes sites that violate it. Personally, I don’t want my blog sitting on the same server as some pornographer. If you feel the same way, you may be surprised to know that almost all of the most popular hosting services allow pornography on their servers.

Note: I’ll be very open and honest in that I am a Bluehost affiliate, which means the company pays me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But this didn’t influence my recommendation, because all hosting services have similar programs. I recommend Bluehost because I honestly believe they offer the best hosting and product available.

Step Four:  Select Your Hosting Package

Once you’ve decided which host you’ll use, you need to pick a specific hosting “package”. This simply means selecting all the features you want. If you’re just getting started blogging, keep it simple by just selecting the basic package. For example, on BlueHost, you probably don’t need the pro version of “Site Backup”, the “Search Engine Jumpstart”, and the “Comodo Positive SSL Bundle”. The standard package will be fine.

Basic set up package on BlueHost

Step Five:  Pick Your Domain Name

Now for the fun part! You get to select your domain name. A domain name is simply what people type into their web browser to get to your blog. For example, www.huffingtonpost.com and www.CNN.com  are domain names. It’s like a house address for the Internet.

There are some things you need to keep in mind when selecting your domain name.

  • Keep it (relatively) short and simple.
    A web address that’s overly long and complicated is difficult to remember and a pain to type in the browser. Don’t choose a name like www.learnfrommylifeexperiencesandmistakes.com
  • It should be easy to remember.
    Ideally, people should be able to remember the address of your blog without needing to Google it. If people can’t remember it, they’ll be less likely to visit it.
  • Don’t choose a name that’s too close to an existing site or blog.
    You don’t want people confusing your blog with another site that’s out there. Don’t pick www.techkrunch.com  or www.mashible.com.

What should you do if your domain name isn’t available? Obviously, you can choose a different name. Fortunately, most domain registrars will also suggest alternatives that are similar to the name you wanted. For example, if you try to purchase the name www.blogging.com on GoDaddy, you’ll see that it’s taken. However, GoDaddy will suggest alternatives.

GoDaddy suggests other options

You can also get unconventional web extensions like .pizza or .ninja, but I don’t recommend these unless you ARE blogging about pizza or ninjas. The extension .blog can be acceptable since you’re writing a blog.

Generally, it’s best to be more conventional in your name, with extensions like .com and .org. These look professional and are typically easier to remember.

Step Six:  Install WordPress

After selecting your domain name, it’s time to install WordPress. Assuming that you’ve selected a web host that offers 1-click installation, this will be really simple. Again, if your host doesn’t have 1-click hosting, you may want to consider selecting a different host. After all, you want things to be as simple and painless as possible. No sense making extra work for yourself.

IMPORTANT: I’m going to show you how to do a WordPress install by yourself but you can always ask BlueHost to do it for you. This is a message you’ll see when you first get cPanel access but skip it because it truly is super simple to install WordPress.

  • Log in to your hosting account. So, if you signed up with BlueHost, go to their site and login.
  • Go to your “Control Panel”.
  • Look for the WordPress or “Website” icon.
  • Choose the domain where you want to install your blog. For example, if you purchased the domain “ www.todayisgreat.com”, select that domain. If you purchased two domains, select the one that you want to install your blog on.

1-click WordPress Install on BlueHost

Install the files and you are DONE! Did you think it could be that easy? This is why you should select a web host that offers 1-click installation.

Step Seven:  Design Your Blog

This is where things start to get really fun. This is where your personality comes out and your creativity kicks in. One thing that I do want to mention in this section is the ALWAYS and I repeat ALWAYS put out a QUALITY product. The web is a brutally competitive market and if a user doesn’t like the look of your site, no matter how great your content is, he or she will probably never return to your site.

Thankfully, there are quality themes that fit just about every personality or concept. Are you going to be blogging about food? There are tons of food themes. Will you blog about pets? No problem. You can find a theme that will fit that category. Are you into healthy living? There’s probably a theme for that as well.

Changing Your Theme

WordPress is always installed with a default theme. This theme is okay, but your blog is going to more than okay. It’s going to be incredible. So you need to select and install an incredible theme. A theme that reflects your reputation and trust in that there is no second chance to make a first impression on the web.

The default WordPress theme

You’ve got several options when it comes to selecting a WordPress theme. First, you can install a theme directly within the WordPress platform.

Go to “Appearance > Themes” in the side menu, and then click “add new” at the top.

Find your theme

You can filter the theme by color, popularity, and a host of other options to find the theme you like best. If you click on theme thumbnail, you can see a preview of what it will look like.

If you dig the preview, click “Install” to install the theme.

Install your theme

Once you’ve installed your theme, it’s time to activate it. Activating a theme makes it live, so that other people see it when they visit your blog. Go ahead and visit your blog once you activate the theme to make sure that you like it. Sometimes a theme can look slightly different than it did when you previewed it.

If you can’t find a free theme you like, there is also the option of purchasing a WordPress theme. There are thousands of gorgeous themes that can be purchased from between $30-$60. Some places you can purchase great themes are:

  • Themeforest
  • Wydethemes
  • Template Monster
  • Woo Themes

We personally purchased our theme at Wydethemes.com and some customized features, we couldn’t be happier with how Startuup has turned out. There are two primary advantages to purchasing a theme. First, you can usually find exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the exact feel you want in a free theme, but you can almost always purchase one. Second, when you purchase a theme, you usually get direct support from the creator, which is really  helpful if something goes wrong. We’ve personally used their Support community for a few different questions we had and they are usually very prompt with their reply.

To install a theme you’ve purchased, download the files and leave them in .zip format. Then go to the main themes page again and select “Upload”.

Upload your theme

After uploading your theme, activate it like you did the free ones.

Changing The Title Of Your Blog

After installing your theme of choice, you’ll want to change the default title of your blog. Presumably, the title of your blog will somehow be connected to your web address.

To change the title, click “Settings — > General”.

Changing your site’s title

On the General Settings page you can also change how the date displays, the time zone you’re in, as well as a few other miscellaneous items.

Adding New Pages

You’ll also need to add some pages to your blog. You’ll want to add a About Us page, a Contact page, and any additional pages that you think would be helpful for your readers. As you can see with Startuup, we’ve added and deleted a few pages and made it our site.

It’s really simple to add a page. In the sidebar in the WordPress Dashboard, click “Pages” -> “Add New”.

Adding a new page

Once you’ve created a new page, you can add text, images, videos, and anything else to create the page you want. When you’re finished, be sure to “Publish” it, so that it goes live on the Internet.

When you publish, what you’ve created becomes available to people who come to visit your blog.

A new page

Creating Blog Posts

The main thing you’ll be doing is creating blog posts. Thankfully, it’s really easy to add new ones.

Create a blog post by going to “Posts -> Add New”.

Once you’ve finished writing the post and adding images, create or add the correct category. You can create a new category by clicking on “Add New Category”. If you don’t add a category, it will automatically added to the category “Uncategorized”, which may be fine for you.

Adding a new post

Adding Plugins To Your Blog

Plugins are a great way to give your blog additional functions, and because so many people use WordPress, there are literally thousands of free plugins. Some of the features you can add are:

  • Social media sharing buttons
  • The ability to get email subscribers
  • Cool galleries to display photos
  • Utilities to speed up the load time of your site
  • And a whole lot more

To add a plugin to your site, click Plugins on the left toolbar and then “Add New” up top.

Plugins locations

Then search for the type of plugin you want. For example, if you want to add a floating social media share bar…

Search for plugins

Once you’ve found your plugin, click “Install Now”. Finally, click “Activate Plugin”.

Installing plugins

Some plugins I’d recommend are:

  • Jetpack (for simple dashboard stats)
  • ShareThis (for sharing pages and posts)
  • Yoast (for optimizing your site for search engines)
  • Contact Form 7 (so visitors can email you)
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (for showing visitors related blog posts)
  • Gallery (for photo galleries)

There are thousands of great plugins, but don’t go crazy. Activating too many plugins can slow down your blog and put off visitors.

Step Eight:  Start Blogging

It’s finally time for you to get down to the business of blogging! One of the main things I see with new bloggers is that they begin with a burst, but gradually lose steam. Let me encourage you to keep at it.

There are some very important reasons to stay consistent.

  • Remember your reasons on why you chose this journey. Remember that you chose this journey.
  • Your quality increases. When you first start blogging, your quality may not be the best. After all, you’re still learning how to do it! But the more you blog, the better you’ll get. You’ll be amazed at the quality of what you can create! So for the sake of quality, stick with it.
  • You’ll rank higher in Google searches. Google rewards websites that consistently update. After all, Google knows that people are usually looking for the best, most recent content on any given subject. If you update your blog on a regular basis, you’ll rank much higher in Google searches.
  • You’ll get more traffic. People won’t come back to your blog again and again to look at the same blog posts. They’ll come back when you post something new. If you want to keep increasing the traffic on your blog, you need to stay consistent.

One of the most important things a new blogger can do is set a schedule. Maybe you publish once a week, or maybe every other week day is more your speed. Create a schedule that works for your blog, and STICK TO IT!!!

Step Nine:  Get People Reading Your Posts

After you’ve created blog posts, you want people to read them! What’s the point of making something amazing if no one sees it? One thing that I would also add though is to be patient!!! First fill your site with content, with useful content, and then share it. No one wants to come to a site with just 2 blogs. But when you do have a decent amount of content on your site, it’s time to get some eyeballs on those amazing blog posts! How can you do that? There are numerous ways.

Promote On Social Media

How many friends/followers do you have between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and all your other social networks? You can and should share your blog posts with them. It’s one of the easiest, cheapest ways to get people seeing your blog.

The good news is that there are a number of tools available to help you save time and schedule social media posts.

There are a number of these tools, including:

  • Buffer
  • Sprout Social
  • Hootsuite
  • CoSchedule
  • And many more…

Create An Email List

Email is still one of the most effective ways to get your content in front of people. People are constantly bombarded by and ignoring notifications, but many people still pay attention to their inboxes. Building an email list can be a great way of promoting your blog and getting attention.

Comment In Online Forums

Online forums like Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo Answers are a good way to communicate with others who care about what you’ve created on your blog. For Startuup we are constantly on TechCrunch, Mashable, MindBodyGreen, KeepInspiring.me, etc. Just be sure not to spam people with links. Add valuable information to the conversation, only inserting a link when it is natural and appropriate.

If people feel like you’re being self-promotional, they’ll tune you out and may even give you the boot.

Guest Post On Other Blogs

Guest posting allows you to speak to someone else’s audience. It gives you exposure outside of your circle of friends and readers. Consider reaching out to other blogs for guest post opportunities.

However, keep a few things in mind when emailing the owners of these sites.

  • They’ll want something that is relevant to their blog. Don’t offer to write about something that they would never talk about. You may want to suggest a few relevant topics in the emails you send.
  • Show them links to your best posts. They need to know that you’re a trustworthy voice who will speak to their audience.

Take the time to learn the name of the site owner. Don’t send blast emails that start with, “Dear blog owner.” That will turn them off quickly.

Step Ten:  Keep At It

I feel like a broken record, but I’ll say this again: Keep at it! Nothing great comes easy nor does it come fast. Be patient yet keep at it as the more content you create, the better off your site will be in the long run.

Consistency is the key to winning the blogging game. As I mentioned earlier, so many start strong and then flame out after a bit. Those who keep at it week after week, month after month are the ones who have legitimate long term success. People will come back if you keep giving them great material. Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

As you keep going, here’s a few more things you may want to consider doing.

Get An Awesome Logo

Now that you’ve got an amazing blog, it’s time for you to get a great logo. A logo allows you to add your distinctive look, feel, and brand to your blog.

And guess what? You don’t need to be an awesome graphic designer to get a great logo. There are a number of inexpensive services you can use.

Upwork.com

I personally used Upwork to have someone create our logo. I first browsed the internet looking for design ideas and finally asked someone on Upwork.com to create it. It’s such an easy platform to use and people do such quality work for very very reasonable prices. Remember you are in the drivers seat and there are many people out there wanting work so price a project low but fair, yet always keep in mind that saving money is always a great thing.

99Designs

You’ll pay more money here, but the quality of your logo will be significantly better. Plus, you can get multiple designers to submit logos, then select your favorite.

Canva

Canva is an incredibly simple graphic design website that allows you to add text to graphics with just a few clicks. Even if you don’t use it for your logo, it’s a useful tool for adding images to your website.

Install Google Analytics

If you’re going to be a serious blogger, you need to use Google Analytics. It allows you to track and measure all the details about your blog including:

• How many people visit
• How long they stay
• What pages they visit most
• What country they’re from
• Which pages are performing best
• And much more

Analytics really is an essential tool for every serious blogger. It allows you to determine what’s working and what needs to improve.

Conclusion

 

First off, I just want to be the first to congratulate you on taking this leap and journey. You know, many people say starting a business or a project like a blog “is like jumping off a cliff and building your parachute along the way down”. Let it be known that we are in this together! The Startuup team and I are here to help in anyway that we can. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions and remember that this is a marathon. For the first few months, don’t focus on how many people are visiting your site or why can’t you find yourself on Google. Rather focus on creating great content, providing value, and filling your site with information that readers will enjoy. It will take a lot of discipline to keep at it even when you don’t see any return. Blogging for me personally is also my avenue to express myself and to share experiences in writing. It has helped with my marriage and has allowed me to interact with so many great people. I encourage you to start and to continue your journey and never ever give up. You can do this and we are right here with you!

Blayne & The Startuup Team

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