These days, blogging seems to be the thing to do. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs online today, all with something unique to offer. Why is blogging so popular? Well, for one, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great way to meet new people, to learn to things, and to share your own thoughts and experiences.
If you’ve ever been intimidated by the idea of starting your own blog, don’t be. It’s just not necessary! Starting a blog is probably a lot easier than you think. Now, depending on what you’re wanting to accomplish with your blog, it will definitely take work and commitment to maintain it. But believe me when I say, it is totally doable – and the benefits are worth the effort!
I’m here to give you a series of 5 steps to help you get your blog started. If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to leave a comment!
Day #1 – Decide What To Blog About
An important first question to ask yourself is: Do I want to blog for profit or for fun? How you answer that question will determine how you will answer many of the questions to follow. For this post, I’ll be assuming that you are wanting to blog for profit.
Another important thing to consider when planning for your blog is what you will be writing about. What will your blog’s topic be? Who will be your target reader?
To be successful, your blog will need to have focus for its content. This is where finding your blog’s niche comes in. To define a niche for your blog, you need to consider what your blog’s topic will be and who will be your target audience.
Here are some things to consider when deciding on your blog’s topic:
- What are you passionate about? This is the most important question to ask when deciding what your blog niche will be. If you’re not excited about your topic, inspiration will be a hard thing to come by when it comes time to write – and having to write often – for your blog.
- What is something that you know quite a bit about?
- What is something that you are willing to do a lot of research on in order to be able to write about it?
- Is there an interest in this topic? Here you’ll need to be a little careful. If one of your goals for blogging involves earning an income, it will be tempting to try to focus your blog niche on something that is popular with others. Certainly you will need to take the potential popularity of your blog topic into consideration. But, you need to remember that you are going to be the one coming up with your blog’s content each day. So, you need to have the expertise and the passion to be able to do that!
Now that you have an idea of what topic you will write about, let’s define your target audience:
- What need will your blog meet?
- Who is likely to have the need you are meeting?
- How will you reach your potential reader?
- How will you keep them interested and coming back to your blog?
Still need some help coming up with a topic for your blog? I put together this checklist for evaluating a potential niche to help!
Also, as with any of the steps to follow…
“Do NOT Let The Need To Find the PERFECT Niche Hold You Back From Starting!”
It’s better to start at all (you can always adjust as you go!) than it is to never start at all.
Day #2 – Name Your Blog
This might be an easy step for you – perhaps you’ve already decided on a great name for your blog. Perhaps you’ve at least narrowed your list down to a couple of possibilities. Maybe you haven’t even thought of a name at all. Whatever the case, these tips will help you make sure your blog title is of top quality.
8 Steps to Finding a Blog Title
1. Brainstorm. Write down every word that comes to mind when thinking about what you want your blog to be.
2. Use Namemesh.com. Punch in all those words and phrases you brainstormed and take note of what combinations and suggestions come up. Are any of the phrases that are displayed even better for a blog title?
3. Take a break. Find something else to think about. Seriously, you’ll be amazed how much more creativity and focus you’ll have if you just walk away from this whole thing for a bit.
4. Look through your updated brainstorm list again. Does anything jump out at you? Any words seem to go together? If necessary, repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’ve narrowed your list down to just a few possibilities.
5. Get feedback. Share your favorites with a friend. Find out which titles seem to hit home with people. Tell them to be honest.
6. Plug in your titles. You’re going to want your domain (www.yourdomain.com) to as closely represent your blog title as possible. Take your list of possible titles to GoDaddy.com and see if they are available.
7. Compare your blog title choices with the list of 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Names. How do they line up?
8. If you’re still needing a bit more help… Here’s a huge list of domain name ideas to help give you inspiration!
Day #3 – Get Hosting: The “Housing” For Your Blog
There is a lot of talk about whether or not bloggers should host their own blogs or have their blogs hosted. It’s helpful to define these terms and then look at each of their pros and cons:
- Self-Hosted Blog: With a self-hosted blog, you pay to have your blog hosted through someone like Siteground (I highly recommend them), GoDaddy, or WpEngine.
- Hosted Blog: A hosted blog is hosted for free by someone like Blogger or WordPress.com.
Pros and Cons to Paid Hosting
- Ownership:You own everything about your blog – from the content to the design.
- Control: You can customize any part of your blog. You are in control of every aspect of your design and have the freedom to make your blog exactly the way you want it.
- Branding: With a self-hosted blog, you’ll have your own domain. Readers will likely remember your URL of www.YOURDOMAIN.com better than trying to remember if they needed to add the Blogspot, WordPress, etc. extension to that.
- Credibility: Think about it – would you be likely to take www.newyorktimes.blogspot.com as seriously as you would take www.newyorktimes.com.
- More affiliate approval: If you’re looking to make money with your blog, know that there are some affiliate programs that won’t work with your blog unless it has its own domain.
- Control:While control can be a good thing because you can fully customize your blog the way you want it, it will take some time to study and learn the software to do this. It’s not that this is a difficult task, just know it’ll take time and effort (which is why, again, I recommend the Profitable Blogging For Beginners class – so you can get your questions answered!).
- Cost: You will have to pay to host your own blog. There are several web hosting companies out there to choose from – many with great customer support. Depending on the service you select and the company, hosting your blog will cost you anywhere from just under $40 a year and up.
Pros and Cons to Free Hosting
- Cost:It’s free! If you’re looking to just blog as a hobby and you don’t mind having that .wordpress. or .blogspot. in your URL (www.yourdomain.wordpress.com), having your blog hosted might be for you.
- Ease of use: Since you don’t have as many options for customizing your blog, set-up and maintenance is simpler.
- Control: You won’t be able to customize your blog as much as with self-hosting. You will be restricted to a fairly generic template. Also, you will only own the content that you write, none of your design.
- Limited monetization: Some free blog hosts will limit approval of affiliates on your blog.
- Generic URL: You’ll have that added .wordpress. or .blogspot. in your blog URL.
Which should you choose – paid or free hosting?
This really depends on what you’re wanting to do with your blog. If you’re just wanting to blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends or as a hobby for yourself and you don’t want to invest any money, then having your blog hosted for free might be the option for you.
However, if you’re wanting to use your blog to make some income and your goals are more business-oriented, hosting and owning your blog is probably the better option.
If your plan is to blog long-term and you’re wanting to put the hard work into monetizing and promoting your blog, you’ll want to think long and hard about who you want to own all your hard work – the site hosting your blog for free or you (when you’re paying to host it yourself)?
Where to pay for hosting
- Siteground – I am a big fan of Siteground as a blog hosting company. They host a lot of my blogs and I have been very impressed with their service and product. They are very quick in their responses to questions (their online chat help option has been very useful on those days when I’ve been working on my blog late at night and had a question). To date, I honestly do not have any complaints about this company and would highly recommend them.
- GoDaddy – If you’re looking for a company that’s a super affordable options for a brand new blog, Godaddy is a good place to check out. Their support team is amazing to work with – especially for newbie bloggers – and for a small blog just getting started, their hosting is reliable and a great service. Eventually, as your blog grows, you will more than likely need to move to another hosting company.
Day #4 – Install WordPress
There are several reasons that I choose to work with WordPress over any of the other blogging platforms (such as Blogger or Typepad).
For one, WordPress is really easy to use and it gives you a lot of control over your blog design. The options for customizing your blog to look the way you want it to are far greater with WordPress than other platforms.
Secondly, if you are looking to blog for profit, WordPress also has features already built in that help with your search engine ranking (SEO – very important for getting traffic to your site) and also give you more options for easily monetizing your blog.
If you’re new to blogging, you’re going to need support. WordPress offers that with hundreds of tutorials just a google search away. If you have a question about how to do something on your WordPress blog, just punch that question into the Google search bar and, more than likely, you’ll get your answer.
How I Installed WordPress.org with Siteground
If you have chosen to pay for hosting for your blog, chances are that your domain host will have clear instructions on how to install WordPress. I know that Siteground (who I use and love!) makes the process very easy:
- Log in to your account (if you don’t yet have an account, click here for more info).
- Click the WordPress/Joomla link under your domain.
- Search for the WordPress icon and click on it.
- Click the Install button.
- Decide where you would like WordPress to be installed (leave the Directory line blank).
- Fill in the required fields.
- Viola! WordPress is now installed and ready to be accessed!
You can also find a step-by-step guide here: How to Start A Blog – The Easiest Way!
Day #5 – Design Your Blog
Now that you have WordPress installed on your blog, it’s time for the fun to begin! I’ve learned from working on my own, that the designing of a blog is a process. It’s a constant tweaking of font sizes and types, moving widgets around, changing images, etc.. So, don’t despair if your blog doesn’t look just the way you want it to from the beginning!
4 Resources to Get You on Your Way to Designing Your Perfect Blog
- WordPress Themes – On your dashboard, under the heading Appearances on the left side of the screen, you will see a link to Themes. WordPress has an extensive list of themes that they offer for free. Take a look through the list and play around with different ones to see if you find one you like.
- Studiopress Themes – If you’re looking for something that you can completely customize, with minimal coding, the Studiopress Themes might be for you. There are extensive tutorials available online that will help you make your Studiopress theme look and function just about any way you want it to. With lots of options and some of the easiest themes to use, Studiopress is what I use here at Blogelina and on all our clients sites. (Restored316.com offers some beautiful, feminine Studiopress themes, too)
- Elegant Themes – For just under $89, you’ll gain access to ALL of the beautiful themes and Elegant Themes, ready for installation on your blog. You’ll need to customize a few of the graphics, namely the header image, but this is pretty easy to do or cheap to hire someone else to do (see the Hire Someone note below).
- Hire Someone – There are a lot of blog designers offering their services on the web. Your costs to hire a designer can vary, depending on what exactly you’re looking for. Some of the fees may seem high, but, trust me when I say, it will probably be worth the investment in the time you will save. If you decide to design on your own, there is also the high chance that you could end up investing the same amount of money in your blog just with a lot of time, too. That is, unless you have a background in design, of course. Here at Blogelina, we offer a very affordable blog design option with our easy Build Your Own Blog Design service.
Woohoo! You made it to the end!
I hope I’ve given you some of the basic tools to get your own successful blog started. Blogging is a lot of fun and has definitely been a growing experience for me!
I hope you’ll find it just as enjoyable and fulfilling.
Still Have Questions?
I’d love to hear them – and do what I can to help!
Please leave a comment below or consider joining us for the next session of our online blogging class to get LIVE answers!