Have you been thinking about starting your own blog for ages but been deterred by the fact that you just don’t know where to start? If you’ve found yourself in a mundane day job where flicking erasers into cups across the room seems more entertaining (like myself two years ago) and wanting a “creative outlet” for your thoughts, ideas or just pent up rage to express yourself then here’s your guide on how to start your own blog.
Truth is, setting it up is quite easy and straightforward but maintaining it is what is time consuming and requires dedication. Most people don’t realise just how much time it takes to collate content for a single quality post. When I say quality I mean a thought through piece on the topic that is both SEO maximized and has the quality imagery to support it – not a piece of verbal diarrhoea that no one can make sense of.
Of course if you do a quick Google on how to start your own blog; you’ll get millions upon millions of results – 76,500,000 to be exact. Most of the time each of these different posts will offer differing opinions on how to set up a successful blog. I’m here to give you a simple way to get started but the method to success is always individual for a number of reasons:
– You blog on different niches and some are more popular than others.
– You have different strengths – some people are better writers than they are photographers so the type of content will be different.
– You have different budgets to work with when starting the project.
– You may have different reasons for starting the blog and what your end goal is.
Here are the simple steps on how you can join the blogging community and start your own blog minus the technical mumbo jumbo.
How to Start Your Own Blog
Decide on your Blog Name
This one may sound pretty easy but is actually probably one of the most agonizing steps of the process because the name of your blog is essentially going to be your brand. You ideally don’t want to be stressing over a potential name change later down the track.
When you pick your name you need to consider the following things:
- What topics you’ll write about – travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, relationships, pets etc.
- Who are you targeting in terms of your audience – teenagers, moms, single parents or fashion lovers – it’ll help you find words relevant to your demographic.
- How memorable it’s going to be and how easy is it to spell/pronounce. Chances are if you can’t pronounce it yourself then others aren’t going to remember it either, nor will they know how to spell it.
- Check if anyone else is using a name similar to it or if it exists already through Google. Try and pick something that hasn’t already been used because if it is, then the .com will be taken and you’ll be left with your other options like .net, .org etc.
My Story – I started my blog as CH1K and though it seemed pretty obvious to me that it clearly was my surname Chik. You wouldn’t believe how many times I heard people from PR agencies actually spelling out my website, letter for letter when introducing my blog to others and I would cringe every time I heard them doing so. I made the decision to transition the name and just used my entire name to avoid confusion.
Purchase Your Domain Name
This is something that is optional but having it will enhance your brand and they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase and maintain. Try and nab the .com version of your domain name because it’s cleaner and you can consider purchasing variations of it later down the track to keep others from using it.
You can purchase a domain from a number of sites these days and this comes down to budget and whether or not you choose to host your site separately from a blogging platform. Most sites will offer bundled deals if you purchase your domain and hosting plan together so do your research on what works for you.
My Story – I started with GoDaddy.com at the start but eventually got sick of the long wait times and unhelpful customer service – so do your research!
You can check out these Domain Registrars:
Decide on Using Free Blogging Platform vs Self-Hosted Site
This will be dependent on what budget you have and what you want to commit in terms of ongoing maintenance. There are a number of free blogging platforms that are incredibly easy to use. When I first started my blog straight out of high school (many many many…many years ago) this was the option that I went with because I didn’t have the disposable income to have a self-hosted site.
The main platform that I am guessing you will have heard of in passing is WordPress. Even major fashion publications use WordPress (self-hosted) because of the plugins and flexible designs it caters for. Other options include Blogger and Tumblr.
*NOTE* WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- WordPress.com is your free blogging platform where you can literally get a blog going within minutes if you’ve got a name ready. Your URL will essentially be yourblogname.wordpress.com that you can later upgrade if you choose to use your purchased domain in the step above.
- WordPress.org is the free version of the WordPress platform but you will need to purchase a domain and host service. So whilst the setup fee isn’t with WordPress itself, you will need to outlay some moolah to get it going.
So it’s important to consider which option is best for you because as with anything that’s free these days, there will always be limitations on what you can do with free hosting services. But what’s also important to note is that you don’t technically own your blog on free sites and you have limited control of your own data. A positive from using free platforms is that you don’t have any commitment to it and in the event that you realise that blogging just isn’t your jam then you won’t have wasted any cold hard cash on it.
If you’ve decided on the free option then head to step 5 because the next step won’t be relevant.
Find a Host
A web host is essentially where your blog is going to live and you want to give your blog the best home possible. There will always be mixed reviews on what sites are good for hosting based on each individual’s experience. Some may prefer one and others will have had horrendous experiences with them.
My story – I made the switch to 123host.com.au when I redesigned my site layout at the recommendation of my web designer and I can honestly say it’s been a great decision to do so. Steve gives amazing and unparalleled customer service and will respond to almost every query himself except for when he’s on holidays. You don’t have to worry about getting a generic and robotic response because he will give you personalised service and best part is, he does it with humour.
Choose Your Theme
There are so many themes available out there and what’s great is that a lot of them are free. The more premium looking themes will cost you depending on the type but that is completely up to you! Once you have chosen a theme then you’ll be able to go through and customise elements like the banner image, profile image, your blurb/mission statement and many other things.
You can also choose to add in plugins to enhance your website such as social sharing buttons or subscription buttons to grow your mailing list. It’ll feel like you’re in a candy shop because there are literally as many plugins as there are themes for you to choose from. The thing to note here is that you don’t want to overdo the plugins because that slows down your site speed so just pick the ones that are essentials first. Also keep in mind that plugins can be a security risk, so only use popular plugins from developers who offer support and appear responsive to questions.
Some Recommended Plugins Include:
- Wordfence – this one has come highly recommended by my web designer and will keep your website secure from all the bad sh*t that happens on the Internet. Best part is that it’s FREE.
- MailChimp – to build your fan base by collecting emails for subscribers so that Newsletters and EDMs can be sent out easily.
- Social Warfare – this allows you to include social sharing buttons on your blog (if your theme doesn’t allow for it already) but this one isn’t free but in my opinion, totally worth it.
- Yoast – this one is for SEO and if you’re as clueless about SEO as I am then you will need this one FOR SURE. It’ll essentially spell it out for you step by step on what you can do to your posts to make them optimized for search engines.
- WP Smush – will reduce the file size of your images so they don’t take up so much of the precious virtual real estate on your site.
Think of it this way – the theme of your blog is like your outfit and the plugins are your accessories.
Start Posting Content
Yay! The fun part! Now that you’ve done the hard yards of setting up your blog you can finally start thinking about content and actually getting it up onto your site! I’ll do a post on a guide to posting content in a separate piece because this one is getting quite lengthy and I may have lost a few of you already on the way – haha!
If you found this helpful then please share this and I’d love to hear about your blogging journey. Any questions then feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an email guys. I’ve also got posts on photography tips for bloggers here and many others that you may find helpful too.