As exciting and exhilarating as starting a new online enterprise is, it can also be overwhelming and a little daunting. There is just so much to learn and do that it can seem like an insurmountable mountain.
To help you on your journey, I created this post, which outlines the steps involved in taking a blog from inception to launch.
Now, before you start-out for the summit, I want to make expectations clear. Starting a blog requires a lot of preparation (be wary of those who say otherwise), it can take weeks even months of work before you will be ready to go live. However, if you are patient and put the groundwork in, you will be giving your new online enterprise every chance of success.
Let’s get climbing
Step 1 – Choose a Domain Name:
Your blog needs a name.
If you are creating a personal brand, where you build authority and recognition around your name, e.g., johndoe.com then choosing a domain name is straightforward.
If you are not using your name, then you will have to brainstorm potential ideas. Be forewarned, patience is required – it can take a while to find a name that you like – that is also available to purchase. Many of the names you will think of will probably be in use.
When choosing a domain name, there are some general guidelines that you should follow.
1. Choose a .com
2. Avoid using alternative spellings
3. Don’t use hyphens
4. Keep it short and snappy
5. Don’t use numbers
6. Make it easy to spell
Use a domain registrar such as godaddy.com or namecheap.com to check the availability of potential names. It’s a good idea to come up with a short list – try for at least five and then mull-them-over for a week or so before you make a final decision.
Choosing a domain name is not something that you should rush, it requires careful consideration, so take your time and ensure you pick a name that you will still be happy with five years from now.
Check out my post, “Choosing a Domain Name – Some Do’s, Don’ts and Considerations” for further insights.
Step 7 – Choose a Hosting Provider:
To publish your blog live on the World Wide Web (WWW) you need a web host provider. A hosting provider rents you space on a server to store and publish all the files that make up your website – HTML documents, images, videos, etc.
When choosing a web host, there are few key things you should consider.
Uptime: Uptime is the amount of time that a server stays online. When a server goes offline or slows down, this can have an impact on your blog causing it also to go offline or slow down.
Some web hosts provide more consistent server performance than others. Most offer a guarantee of 99.9% uptime, but ideally, you need one that offers consistent uptimes as close as possible to 100%.
Page Load Speed: Page load speed is a measure of how fast a web page loads. Like uptime, page load speed is different from provider to provider.
Speed is a key metric both from a user and SEO perspective – visitors will not wait too long for your site to load, and Google considers load speed when judging where to rank a site/page in search results.
Customer Service: It’s important that you choose a provider with a reputation for excellent customer support, one that will take you by the hand and help you get set-up.
There are 100’s of different web hosting providers to choose from, but I highly recommend A2 Hosting I use them for this blog.
To find out more about hosting read my post “Shared Hosting is used by (most) Budding Bloggers. Is it Right for You?”
Step 8 – Choose a CMS (WordPress)
To build and manage a blog and organize its content you need a blogging platform, also known as a CMS (Content Management System). Although, there are many different CMS solutions the most popular CMS on the web is WordPress – over 75 million websites use the platform. This blog included.
For this post, I will discuss WordPress, but you can learn about others options here.
There are two WordPress platforms –
WordPress.com is a free online platform but it’s more suited to hobby bloggers.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted blogging platform, and it’s the platform of choice for most professional and aspiring pro bloggers because it offers full control over your blog without limitations.
With the self-hosted version, you will need to host the platform on a server, which means paying a for a hosting service (as discussed in the previous step).
Once you have a hosting provider, you can install WordPress with a simple click of a button from your hosting account.
After installing WordPress, you can choose a theme template and begin setting-up your blog.
Step 9 – Choose a Blog Theme:
Once you have installed WordPress, you can select a theme – the design template that determines the style, look and feel of your blog.
There are thousands of WordPress themes to choose from – both paid and free options.
In the beginning, while you learn the ins and outs of WordPress play around with free versions but eventually (once you know what you are looking for) you will want to move to a premium theme as they are usually better coded, better supported and have more functionality and features.
When choosing a theme one of the most important things to get right is the layout. Although, there are thousands of WordPress themes there are only three main layout formats.
Magazine – A magazine style layout is like a newspaper with posts (stories) displayed under different category sections on the homepage. The magazine format is perfect for news or gaming type blogs.
Blog Roll – The blog roll layout is probably one of the most popular formats used on blogs, where posts display in chronological order on the home page. This blog uses a blog roll format.
Grid / Tiles – This layout is when posts appear in grid or tiles on the home page – probably best suited to image-focused sites such as photography or travel blogs.
You will also want to consider the sidebar and header options – side bars and headers is prime real estate used for advertising and highlighting important sections of your blog.
The theme layout that is right for you will largely depend on the type of blog you want to create be it image focused like travel and photography blogs or text focused like educational and news blogs.
Step 10 – Craft a Content Mission Statement:
A blog mission statement is a written declaration of intent that strikes straight to the heart of a blog and the reason for its being. No blog should be born without one!
Having a documented mission statement will keep your blog moving forward with purpose, and help you consistently create content aligned to the informational needs and expectations of your audience.
To craft a mission statement, you need to define the audience that your blog will serve, the type of content you will deliver to that audience, and what the audience will gain by reading that content.
The blog mission statement for BlozFu is.
“BlozFu provides step-by-step tutorials, insightful articles, and educational resources to teach budding blogging professionals (who have no marketing or blogging knowledge) how to build, grow and develop a successful blog.”
Let’s break that statement down.
The Target Audience – “Budding blog professionals, who have no blogging or marketing knowledge.”
The Type of Content Delivered to the Audience – “Step-by-step tutorials, insightful articles, and educational resources.”
What is the Outcome for the Audience – “Helps them build, grow and develop a successful blog.”
Another example of a content mission statement is that of the Moz Blog.
“The industry’s top wizards, doctors, and other experts offer their best advice, research, how-to’s, and insights—all in the name of helping you level-up your SEO and online marketing skills.”
Let’s break that down
The audience – People who are interested in learning about SEO and online marketing
The Type of Content the Audience Receives – best advice, research, how-tos, and insights
What is the Outcome for the Audience – Helps them level-up (improve) their SEO and online marketing skills.
After creating a blog mission statement, you can publish it directly on your homepage or the about page.
Whenever you create a piece of content, ask yourself if it delivers on the objectives, expectations, and promise (outcome for the audience) outlined in your blog mission statement. If it does, you have a green light to publish, if not then its time re-write or re-think the post.
Step 11 – Create an Initial Content Plan:
The last thing you want is to stare at a blank page not knowing what to write when your blog is ready for launch. To avoid this situation and to help you hit the ground running from day one you need a content plan.
A content plan is a road map of the posts you will create and a scheduled timeline for when you will publish those posts. Most pro bloggers work to a quarterly schedule, planning their content three months ahead.
If you have conducted audience and competitor analysis, you should have a list of potential post topics to form an initial plan. You can map these to your schedule. The goal for the first three months should be to create a base of content – aligned with your audience needs and the objectives of your blog – that you can build on.
Core to a content plan is a content calendar, which you can create using Google docs or Excel. There are more advanced planning applications like CoSchdule, but at the start, Google docs or Excel will be more than enough.
Your calendar should include not just post publishing dates but also the timeline for each stage of the post creation process. You can also add notes such as.
– What are you trying to achieve with the post?
– Why will the post help your audience?
– What is the outcome for your audience when they read it?
– Keywords to target (if you are targeting keywords)
The more information you add to your calendar the better, so when it comes time to create a post you will have everything mapped out in advance.
Having a documented content plan and schedule does not mean you can’t publish content off the cuff – musings or news items that relate to your audience. It just ensures that you stay on track, working towards an overarching content strategy and objective.
At the end of each quarter (3-month period) sit-down and devise a content plan for the next quarter.
Ready to Launch:
Once you have a content plan outlined, the next step is to write and publish your first post and officially join the ranks of the blogging community.
Of course, this is only the first step in what is a long journey, but you will be in the game, and if you stay true to your commitment, you can realize your blogging dream and enjoy the life-changing reality that a blog can bring.
I hope you enjoyed this post and got some guidance that will help you move forward and create an awesome blog.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by email or chime in, in the comment section below.