Want to start a blog?
There is so much information on the web that it can be confusing to a complete beginner. Then, there is all that new terminology that just muddles things up even more.
Well, in this article, I will give you the short concise version to start a blog.
So, let’s get right into it. There are five steps to starting a blog.
1. Choose a Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is the back-end that runs your blog. There are dozens of blogging platforms. Some are free while others charge an access fee. One of these is WordPress which is free.
I recommend WordPress because in addition to being free, it is easy to use, has a large developer community and it has also been around for over a decade. With over 80 million active users, it is currently the most popular blogging platform. Other free alternatives include Google’s Blogger and Tumblr.
You may want to read: Moving from Blogger to WordPress: Importing and Fixing Your Blogger Posts.
2. Decide if You Will Self-Host or Use the Free Hosting Option
WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and other blogging platforms have free hosting options where a blog is hosted on a sub-domain; the blog address is in the format yourblog.wordpress.com. While this is a cheap way to run your blog, there are a few downsides. These include:
- It’s ugly. Yep. YourBlog.WordPress.com is quite a mouthful when compared to a simple YourBlog.com.
- Your hands are tied. There are many things you won’t be able to do on a sub-domain. For example, WordPress.com won’t allow you to make any money by running ads in addition to a host of other restrictions. There’s no fun in that.
- You don’t really own your blog. The owners of WordPress can wake up one morning and ban your site or shut you down without giving it a second thought and there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it.
So, to avoid all this, take the self-hosted option explained in step three below.
3. Register a Domain Name and Get a Hosting Account
So, let’s proceed on the premise that you have decided to go with self-hosted WordPress. Think about a good name for your website. A domain is your unique URL, for example, Amazon.com is a domain name.
Perform an online search using the term “domain registration” to find a domain registrar (a domain registration company). Registrations are for a minimum of one year and are renewable. Most domain registrars also offer web hosting services so you can do this all at once. A hosting account is the server that “hosts” your blog files so that the rest of the world can view your blog.
Make sure the service you decide to use offers a one-click install option to install WordPress. If unsure, start a support chat and seek clarification. A domain name will usually cost between $10 and $20 a year while a good starter hosting package shouldn’t cost you more than five bucks a month.
Use the one-click install solution to install WordPress in your hosting account.
I use HostGator. I’ve a dedicated server and the loading speed of my sites is fantastic!
4. Design Your Blog
You are almost done. Log into the admin section using the credentials you created while installing WordPress. You will see an intuitive dashboard. Acquaint yourself with the features.
Next, choose a design and layout. WordPress comes with thousands of free designs known as themes. They are available at WordPress.org.
Browse the themes section and find something you like. Download the design and upload it to your blog by navigating to Appearance > Themes > Install.
Activate your theme and that’s it! Your blog is ready for the first article. Create a new post and publish.
You may want to read: Genesis: A Fast and Responsive Framework With Inbuilt SEO
5. Optimize Your Blog
Finally, I can’t let you go before discussing blog optimization. Optimization is the process of making your blog more friendly to search engines.
As a beginner, you are probably wondering why the blog needs to be “friendly to search engines”…and what that even means. Search engines like Google and Bing use a complex algorithm to decide what results to show users when they type in search terms.
The algorithm decides which sites rank better than others. Obviously, the higher you rank in the search results the better for your blog because the bottom line is that people can find and read your blog. One of the ranking factors is page speed, the speed at which your site loads. Your blog needs to be optimized to load fast in order to get a boost in the search rankings.
There are several important areas you must careful with when managing your blog:
- Images – make sure your images are optimized for the web. You can do this using a free image editing tool like Gimp. WordPress also has plugins that can do this for you.
- Ads – if you are running ads on your site, make sure they aren’t image heavy to the point where they slow down your site. If you are using a blog monetization service such as Adsense, use the asynchronous version of the Adsense script.
That’s it. These instructions are adequate to help you start, but if you want to really scrutinize and make sure you’re a 100% doing it the right way, read this guide on making a blog.
I’m sure you found that quite easy. Once you are comfortable with the basics, read your blog platform’s CMS and find out how else you can improve your blog.