Yay, let’s get you started with your very own blog! This is a quick start guide to show you how you can quickly create your blog, free or paid, and write your first blog post.
I also have a much more detailed guide and roadmap for creating a successful blog coming soon! You’ll want to check it out if you’re serious about creating the best blog that you can. Sign up for the newsletter to find out when it will be released.
Choose a Niche
A blogging “niche” is simply the main subject or topic of your blog. As the word implies, the best niches are very specific.
You could have a budgeting blog, or you could have a budgeting blog for single moms, for example. You’re able to connect to a specific group of people rather than trying to appease the needs and desires of a broader group. It’s much easier and profitable if you’re looking to eventually make money from your blog.
I have a guide on how to choose a niche if you need some further help.
Choose a Name
Choose a name that’s fitting for your niche or the goal you’d like to accomplish with your blog. Take my blog name, Blogging Butterfly, for example. My goal is to help people transform their blogging experience, going from a beginner blogger (like a caterpillar) to a more seasoned blogger (a beautiful butterfly).
Make sure your name is easy to remember, and check Google to make sure no one else is using your name. Be prepared to come up with several ideas just in case.
Choose a Host
A web “host” is basically where your website or blog will live. Just like a rental house or apartment, you rent the server space for your blog to reside. If you’re using WordPress.com, Squarespace, or Blogger, you don’t need to worry about this step. Hosting is included your membership. With WordPress.com or Blogger, you may eventually decide you’re ready for the benefits of self-hosting.
Free Blog Hosting
If you’ve chosen WordPress.com or Blogger, you don’t really need to worry about this as your actual hosting is provided by WordPress and Blogger. Other popular free blog hosts include Tumblr and Medium.
However, even with free hosting you should at the very least purchase your own domain. Depending on your goals for your blog, a domain name will make your site seem more credible and trustworthy. If you’re willing to invest in yourself, others will feel more comfortable about investing in you as well.
All the free blog websites mentioned above allow you to add your own domains, so you can still have a more credible look.
You can get started with your first year of domain hosting at Name.com for only $0.99. After your first year, the cost for a domain is around $12-$15, depending on where you purchase. Some domain hosts charge extra for services such as custom email and WHOIS privacy (which I recommend if you don’t want your email spammed).
If you’re going to go for a full hosting option, most hosting companies offer your first domain for free. However, a lot of people suggest purchasing a domain separate from your hosting. I recommend it as well! It’s just a lot easier if you ever need to switch hosting companies to not have to switch your domains, too.
Paid Blog Hosting
Let me stress that you don’t HAVE to pick one of these. You’re welcome to do your own research and find the right solution for you, but these are what I use or recommend.
If you want to have a blog that you have complete control over, WordPress is the most popular choice. To have this type of blog, you need to have a web host, which essentially rents you server space and allows you to install WordPress on it (which at most places can be done with a click of a button).
For shared hosting, I suggest iPage, SiteGround, or Dreamhost. SiteGround comes highly recommended by other serious bloggers. If you’re serious about growing your blog and want something that’s easily scalable as you grow, try Cloudways.
Hosting at Cloudways is a bit more involved, but the support there will help you get set up for free. If you already have a website, they will also migrate your site free, too. Cloudways has a free 14-day trial, so you can try it out and see if you like it.
Shared Hosting vs Cloud Hosting
While it’s my personal belief that you should choose cloud hosting and plan for the future, this may not be the best choice for everyone. Especially if you’re on a tight budget. Which really I am but I’ve decided to go all in, anyway. Here’s the different between the two.
Shared hosting is cheapest hosting that you can find. It’s great if you’re just getting started and are on a budget. A lot of shared hosting plans will offer a deep discount for your first year. It’s also the easiest and fastest way to get started. Starting out with a shared hosting package is also a good idea if you’d like to take advantage of membership bonuses.
You’ll eventually want to move a dedicated server or cloud hosting if your blog starts to gain traction. With shared hosting, you share server resources with other websites. If your site or someone else’s site on the same server starts using enough resources to slow the server, every website on that server will be affected. Some blogs have even had their blogs shut down because of an influx of traffic that their hosting plan couldn’t handle.
Cloud hosting pulls resources from multiple servers, so your sites run faster and there’s less chance of your site ever going down for any reason. It also allows you to scale your website as needed, and only pay for the resources you actually used. So if you’re experiencing a huge boost in traffic, you can up your resources. If that traffic boost was just temporary, you can downscale your server as well.
Cloud hosting IS a bit more expensive than most shared hosting plans, but the flexibility and reliability make the cost worth it.
Install WordPress (Self-Hosted Only)
Most hosts have one click, easy to install packages of WordPress ready for you to use. Nearly a quarter of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress, so it makes sense that they would make it easy! If you’ve chosen one of the hosting companies above, you’ll find WordPress in the following places:
- iPage: InstallCentral
- Dreamhost: Goodies > One-Click Installs
- SiteGround: cPanel > Softaculous or SiteGround Wizard (WordPress hosting only)
- Cloudways: Add Application
Choose a Theme
Your theme is the design for your blog. WordPress is a huge platform, so there are thousands and thousands of themes available. When searching for a theme, you want to make sure that it’s responsive. This means that it’s designed to work with desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.
Mobile devices are going to make up for most of your blog’s traffic, so you want to make sure your website is usable and readable to mobile users. Google has also taken measures to push mobile optimized pages. You definitely want to be on Google’s good side!
Free and Paid Themes
You can choose a free theme or a paid theme. I suggest going for a paid theme, especially if you’d like to get up and running quickly or you’d like more customization options. You can find some great themes at Creative Market, Theme Forest, Kotryna Bass Design, and Beautiful Dawn Designs.
A paid theme doesn’t have to be expensive. Most themes are available for around $30-60. If you’re on a budget, you can find cheap WordPress themes on Creative Market for around $5-15, and for as low as $13 on Theme Forest.
Free themes are customizable as well, but you’ll find that for most, your options are very limited. You may opt for using a free theme until you’ve settled into your blog a bit first.
Your chosen theme might require some extra software to work, called a framework. Many paid blog themes out there are using the Genesis Framework, so keep this in mind when you’re looking to purchase a theme. Make sure you pay attention to theme descriptions to see if anything extra is required before you make a purchase.
Write Your First Post
Writing your first post is really easy. Simply navigate to the “Posts” menu, and click on Add New.
Enter the title of your post in the Title section, and write your content in the large text box. Be sure to make use of proper paragraph structure. Use heading tags to break your posts up into sections. Never use the Heading 1 tag, but use Headings 2, 3, etc. as you would nest items in an outline.
To the right, you’ll find the Publish, Category, and Tags panels. Set a category for your post, add applicable tags, and then you can schedule or Publish your post.
WordPress automatically saves text as you type, but if you make any changes to categories, tags, or anything else outside the main text area, you’ll want to hit “Save Draft” from the Publish panel. This is a good practice to do periodically through your writing process. Previewing your post will also save it.
You’re on your way!
Now you’ve got the basics for a blog all set up. But if you want a successful blog, it’s gonna take a little bit more than this. You can write posts all day long, but if you don’t promote them correctly, you’re not going to get the traffic you want. It’s also going to be much slower to build.
So what’s next?
- Sign up for the Blogging Butterfly email list. This is a direct line to me and all the tips I have for you! You can grow your blog, I know it! Let me help you.
- Start your email list immediately. You want to start building it right away so you can build a list of recurring visitors.
- Learn about search engine optimization and optimizing your posts with images made specifically for Pinterest. Both are huge sources of traffic for your blog.
- Create social media profiles for your blog. You can convert your personal accounts, but I suggest you create dedicated accounts and pages specifically for blogging stuff. Beginning on the type of blog you’re running, too many personal updates may distract from your blog’s actual goal.
I encourage you to take a look into my e-course thatwill help you create a plan for creating a successful blog. Even if you feel comfortable on your own, you should check it out to make sure you don’t forget something. You never know what you’ll learn!
I’ll be releasing it very soon (just waiting for an issue at Teachable to be resolved so I can finish it), so sign up for my newsletter so you’ll know when it’s released if you’re interested.