How To Start A Blog
While almost everyone reading this has heard of the term “blog” somewhere or the other before, a good many of you might actually have little or no idea about how to start a blog. Whatever your goals are, be it professional or personal, rest assured that after reading and following everything over here, you will have a well-rounded idea about how to start a blog. It is recommended that unless you are absolutely sure about what you are doing, you should follow these steps in the given order.
- Decide on the purpose of your blog – Though it may sound rudimentary, but people often make the common mistake of not figuring out what they exactly want their blog to do! Therefore it is important to be clear in your head about questions such as what you want the blog to be about, if you are good enough to blog about it, what the followers of the blog can learn from it, etc. This part is important enough that we have written a special article about it.
- Find a good domain name – Now that you have a basic idea about what you want to do, it is time to register a domain name. While you are searching for a domain name, make sure that it contains at least some of the words related to the topic of your choice; for example, a blog about Harley Davidson motorcycles should contain words like harley, davidson or motorcycle in the domain name to look relevant and end up in the search results. Now the hard part is to find a domain name of your liking that has not yet been taken by someone else. This would require a good deal of searching on your part because most good domain names are already taken.
Try to be innovative and if it simply does not work for you, then you just might have to settle with a .org or a .net extension instead of a .com extension. If you can, then it might be a good decision to ensure that the domain name of your choice is impossible for anyone else to use, by securing all the three possible web address extensions (.com, .org and .net)
- Choose your hosting provider – A proper hosting provider is very important as all the data in relation to your blog site (software, content, images etc) is going to be stored here. On the basis of our vast experience, we can recommend you to buy an account from any of the following hosting providers: GoDaddy, HostGator and BlueHost. Don’t want to install and manage the blog yourself? Check out WPEngine.
Most of the hosting providers will allow you to get started by spending as less as ten dollars, but it may be a bit higher, depending upon what kind of a hosting plan you choose. We recommend paying a little more and buying a yearly plan because it will turn out to be extremely cost-effective in the long run and that is mainly due to the fabulous discounts that most hosting providers offer on their long term plans. Once you are done with the purchasing, an email will be sent to your registered email account with all the necessary information in relation to your recent purchase.
- Check the purchased domain name – To check whether your domain name was registered or not, simply type it in the browser address bar and hit enter. If you get a message similar to “This webpage cannot be found”, then you must wait a bit longer as it takes a fair deal of time (a few hours) before the ISP is notified of the update that was just made. If however, you get to a minimalistic webpage or to the default “Get Started” page of your hosting provider, then you are ready for step 5.
- Install the blog software – Type in http://yourdomain.com/cpanel (“yourdomain” should be replaced with the name of your domain) on your browser and you will be asked for your username and password. Enter the details as were provided to you via the email in step 3, from the hosting provider. Once you are logged in, use the tool “Fantastico” to install “WordPress” from the list of available software (there are quite a few). Remember that while installing WordPress, you will be required to fill in an installation form (it’s quite easy and any mistakes made can be easily corrected later on).
Once you are done with this step, type in the entire domain name to see whether everything is running as desired and make changes when and where you want. Actually, this is all that you need to do in order to “literally” launch a blog, but there are certain additional steps as well. These steps are more advanced and though not necessary (unlike steps 1 to 5), should be performed as well to “practically” complete the launching of a blog.
The next order of business is to find and apply a theme that appropriately fits the topic that you are going to blog about. To find such a theme, you will need to go to http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/. Although you will find lots of good themes that are free, if you are really serious about profiting and popularizing your blog, you will probably be better off with more advanced themes that you must buy in order to have access. When compared to the number of people that use free themes, the number of people who use paid themes with advanced options are very few. This would of course mean that your blog will have a very likely chance of being different from that of the others who are blogging about the same topic.
The theme you choose is actually more important than one would at first imagine, because it is both like your blog’s skin and clothes. When a visitor visits your website, even before he/she reads the content, that person is going to have an impression about your blog, only on the basis of how it looks. Therefore, you would need to make sure that you choose a theme that is not only attractive, but also visually complementing the subject of the blog. It is only logical to conceive that the same blog with the same content will attract more visitors if it had an attractive and appropriate theme applied to it rather than a plain and dull look.
In case of most of the themes, there is a very easy way to install and/or apply them which allows you to change the theme of your blog, right from your WordPress control panel. It is as simple as going to the WordPress Control Panel and clicking on the “Change Theme” option from the dashboard. Under the “Change Theme” tab, you will find the “Install Theme” tab, which you must now select. Next choose the theme you want (you can even search for it) and select “install”; wait till the installation finishes. Once the installation is done, you will now have to go to the “Manage Themes” tab towards the top of the window and “Activate” the theme you just installed (or any other theme that you have the option to activate).
If you cannot apply the theme you bought with the help of this easy method because it won’t work for externally bought themes, here’s a second set of directions that will work for those external themes as well. Go to the WordPress Administrator Control Panel and follow the previously mentioned steps to go up to the “Install Themes” tab. From there, you will find a tab named “Upload”, which you would be required to use in order to upload the .zip theme file. Once it’s uploaded, simply go to the “Manage Themes” tab and “Activate” the theme you just uploaded.
Now that your blog is registered and ready to do all that it can do, it is time to actually start with the blogging. If you have read and followed all the steps mentioned till now, then you are probably done with all the technical details associated with starting a blog and even if you need to make more changes later on, you should know how to do that too by now.
The first step which we recommend for you to do in regards to actually starting with the blogging process is to create a section which explains why you have started this blog and what it is about, commonly known as an “about us” page. In order to do this, prepare the content first and then login to your WordPress account as the Administrator. Follow this sequence of tabs next: “Administrator > Pages > Add New”. You will now be in the page creation center where you will get all the options of adding content to the page you just created (writing, images, videos etc). This part is actually very easy and self-explanatory, because you can start writing right on the space provided or you can just copy paste your prepared content there. Near the top of the writing space, you will find “Add image”, “Add Video”, “Link” and other necessary tools for you to create the page with. After you are done, just click “Publish” and your page is published as a part of your blog.
If you check and find out that you have made a mistake or two, then Login to your WordPress once again and go to “Pages”. Click the “Edit” tab alongside the page you just created and make the necessary changes. Once you are satisfied with the changes, just click “Publish” once again. Adding and editing posts are almost the same as well, when it comes to WordPress, but just look for the tabs with the word “post” or “posts” rather than “page” or “pages”.
Once you are done with creating the “about us” page, you would now want to know more complicated stuff like increasing web traffic to your site, profiting from it, gaining the attention of sponsors etc, but as far as starting a blog is concerned, you should now be up and running!