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Nowadays, blogging has become one of the most popular ways of communicating and sharing information, news, and well… whatever you want! Anyone can start a blog. That doesn’t mean that everyone should start one, but that’s a different story. I assume that you have a good reason for wanting to start a blog. For example, you want to:
- share your knowledge with others
- become a better writer (or even person)
- let the world know about you as a person or your business
- express yourself and get into contact with people around the world
I can say that it doesn’t matter what your reason for starting a blog is, but that isn’t true. There are millions of blogs already and if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want and how you want it, it will be hard to get noticed. And even though you might only want to have this as an outlet for yourself, I know from experience that it is also nice to have some interaction. To feel like it matters what you write. So before you actually do anything: make sure that you really want to blog.
And if that’s the case, I’d love to give you some helpful suggestions.
Disclosure: This Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your Own Blog may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a service or product through one of these links, I may earn a small commission, but this will be at no extra cost to you.
How To Start A Blog in 6 Simple Steps
Setting up a blog isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. It is possible to explain all of this in just three steps, but I wanted to offer you a guide that was a bit more complete. But don’t worry, I’ll talk you through all the steps!
Step 1: Choose your blogging platform
If you want to start blogging, the first thing you should do is select a platform. One of the easiest and most user-friendly blogging platforms is Blogger, which is created by Google. I started by Dutch blog on Blogger. You can choose from different templates and you’ll have your blog set up within just minutes.
HOWEVER: I would not recommend using Blogger if you have any aspirations when it comes to professional blogging. In that case, WordPress is a much better option. WordPress is a free, open source blogging platform that can be installed with just a few clicks. WordPress is by far the most popular platform for blogging. It offers a lot more possibilities when it comes to customizing (you don’t need any real technical knowledge for this), layout and eventually monetizing your blog.
And if you get stuck with anything; there’s a huge support forum with helpful people that will get you on the right track. I think it is safe to say that WordPress is (or should be) the standard for blogging.
Step 2: Choose web hosting
In general, there are two types of hosting: self-hosting or a free alternative. To start with the latter; if you blog with Blogger or WordPress.com (which is different from WordPress.org), all your materials will be hosted on the servers of the provider. The major and only advantage of this is that it is free.
Free non-self hosting does have a few negatives:
- You cannot get your own domain name. Mine would have been something like average-to-awesome.wordpress.com or average-to-awesome.blogspot.com. That looks like sh*t on a business card!
- You are limited, for example in how many pictures or videos you upload or what kind of themes you use.
- Your blog is not yours. If the party that hosts it decides to delete it, it’s gone.
If you have a self-hosted blog, your blog is YOURS. You can get the great domain name you want and you have every opportunity to make it completely YOU. And it doesn’t have to be that expensive, especially not if you think about the countless opportunities you’ll have of monetizing it.
For the next step, I’ll assume that you go with self-hosted blogging.
Step 3: Get a domain and hosting
If you want to set up a website, whether it’s for blogging or not, there are two things you need:
Domain: your domain is like your address: it’s a street (URL) and a number, but it doesn’t have to have a house on it.
Hosting: your hosting is like your house. It’s connected to your address and you can fill it with anything you like.
You can get both at one party, which is most convenient. Personally, I’m a fan of Bluehost, which is also officially recommended by WordPress itself. They include the price of the domain in your hosting, which means that you can get started for as little as $3.95 a month (this offer is only available through my special link). There are also some other options, which include a little bit more. You can also get a special discount for that, if you use this link.
The basic Bluehost-package offers 50 GB in website space, 5 e-mail accounts of 100 MB each, 1 domain, 5 parked domains and 25 sub domains, and unmetered bandwidth. In most cases, this is more than enough. If you find this package to be insufficient for you, you can always upgrade. However, to start, I’d just recommend the basic package.
Of course, there are also a lot of other hosting providers you can use. You just have to be sure that your package includes a database for the WordPress installation and it is nice to have a type of one-click installation possibility.
If you go with Bluehost, all you have to do is register (which can even be done with your Google-account), log into your Bluehost account and go to Hosting. You’ll then see the option Install WordPress. Click on Install, fill in your domain name (and choose if you want it to include ‘www’ or not) and you’re done!
Bluehost is one of the hosting partners recommended by WordPress and offers one-click installation. You’ll only pay $3.95/month if you use this link.
Yes! The technical part is pretty much done and you can get to the nice part: designing your blog. You don’t have to be a professional designer to create an awesome-looking blog. There are free themes everywhere! Just Google ‘free template WordPress’. The easiest way to find those is by just going to Appearance > Themes and check out the options. If you see one you like, just click on Install and it will be installed automatically.
I tried a few free themes, but eventually ended up buying one from ThemeForest.net. Most templates there are around $40-$50 and offer six months of free support. That proved to be very useful, since there are always some things that you won’t be able to figure out yourself if you’re not very technical (like me).
You can even ask them to install the theme for you for $50, but that’s really something you can easily do yourself. It’s just downloading the .zip and adding it to WordPress via Appearance > Themes.
A few tricks for selecting the right theme:
- Make it personal, but professional, especially if you want to monetize your blog at some point
- Keep it clean (but not too clean, I heard that the real white/clean/extreme minimalism is on its way out…)
- Make a list of what you want to do with your website/blog and check in advance if those things are actually possible
- Before you customize it: check the navigation. If it’s not easy to navigate, people won’t stick around
Once you selected a theme, you can customize it just the way you want. Take some time for this and make sure you change all the footers, headers, images to something that is really you.
If you are going to use photos on your blog, make sure that you are allowed to use them. Experts recommend that you use your own photos, since that would make it more personal. If you don’t have those yet, I found Unsplash.com to be a great source. Their pictures are royalty free and an attribution is appreciated, but not required.
Step 5: Start monetizing your blog
I’ll write in more detail about this later on, but the easiest thing to start with if you want to monetize your blog is Google Ads. In short; you dedicate some parts of your blog to advertisements and these will be randomly inserted by Google Ads. On this website, for instance, you can find them in the footer, but also within articles and in the sidebar. If someone clicks on one of those ads, you’ll earn money.
The policy says that you cannot say how much, so I won’t go into detail right now, but I can tell you that it doesn’t take very long to earn at least your hosting back. And then some 🙂
How you implement Google Ads depends on your theme. But first, you’ll need a Google account. If you don’t have one, make it and then sign up for Google AdSense.
My theme required an additional plugin to display ads. I use WP Simple Adsense Insertion for that. I copy-paste my AdSense code into that plug-in and can add an advertisment by simply entering [wp_ad_camp_[a-number]] into a post or part of the layout.
Later on, you can also monetize your blog by:
- accepting advertorials
- applying for affiliate programs
- offering products and services, for example eBooks and online courses
Since there’s also a lot to say about those topics, I’ll write more about that later on!
Step 6: Introduce people to your blog
OK, you may be blogging for yourself, but it is really fun if someone else reads it or even comments. So if you want people to do that, you have to let them know that your blog is out there. A few things I like to do:
- Tell friends and family (wait… that’s usually my last step)
- Create social media profiles, for instance on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram
- Join groups on Facebook; pick groups related to your niche
- Find other similar blogs to read and leave comments there. Don’t spam them, but say something if you liked the content or have an addition to it. If you do this with your WordPress-account, it’ll automatically add a link to your blog.
If you’re still hesitant: don’t be! It really is just a matter of minutes before you can get started with your own blog. I hope this guide has helped you on your way, if you have any questions, just let me know!