So, you want to learn how to start a blog. Great! I am super excited for you. There is nothing quite like the feeling of starting a new online enterprise. A world of possibilities lies ahead. And I am glad that I can help you through these first steps.
Below is what we will cover in this post:
- Picking a Blog Topic (Niche)
- Choosing a Domain Name
- Choosing a Blogging Platform (WordPress)
- Signing-up to a Webhost
- Next Steps
If you have questions at any stage of the process, please feel free to contact me, and I will get back to you as fast as possible.
Why Start a Blog?
There are lots of reasons that you might want to start a blog:
To Break Free of the 9 to 5: Many people start a blog to break free of the drudgery of working a 9 to 5. Through blogging, you can work from home while earning a full-time living to support you and your family.
Build an Online Business from Your Profession: If you are a professional for example, a fitness instructor or an accountant you can create a blog and earn money by sharing (and monetising) your knowledge.
Live Anywhere in the World: I love the idea of being able to work from anywhere in the world. This is what first attracted me (over six years ago) to blogging and online marketing.
Grow an Existing Business: If you already have a business (online or offline), a blog can help you get more exposure and expand your reach on a global scale.
Establish Your Authority: A blog can help you gain notoriety and establish yourself as an authority in within your field of expertize. This opens up doors and presents you with opportunities such as speaking and consultancy gigs.
As you can see, there are lots of great reasons to start a blog and if any of them appeal to you keep reading to begin your journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we start, you might have some questions. The three that I usually get asked are:
How much time does it take to set-up a blog? If you already know what you want to blog about and have a domain name the whole process is about twenty minutes.
If not, it will take longer but don't worry I will guide you the whole way.
How much does it cost? The primary costs associated with blogging are the domain name fee which works out at about $15 per year and hosting costs which can be anywhere between $5.99 to $12.99 per month depending on the package you choose.
How much money can I make? The simple answer is you can make a lot of money, at the higher end of the scale some bloggers make over 100k per month, but the average for most professional bloggers is anywhere between 5 to 20k per month.
Now, I want to be clear, making money from a blog takes time and dedication, it won't happen overnight but it's not a pipe dream, and it all starts with the first step which is choosing your blog topic.
Step 1. Decide What You Want to Blog About
The first and one of the most critical steps in starting a blog is deciding on your niche. Your niche is the topic of your blog.
If you already know what you want to blog about, then you can skip to the next step. However, if your not sure, below are some pointers to help guide you.
- The niche you choose should be a something that you are passionate about, or at least have a keen interest.
- It should be subject that other people are interested in, and are looking for information on.
- There should be products or services (physical or digital) being sold that are related to the niche.
- There should be a lot to write about on the subject.
Regarding #1 on the above list, you might have many different interests and passions, but only pick one as the focus of your blog. It’s harder to get traction and build an audience when you write about lots of different, unrelated subjects.
If you are still not sure of what niche to choose, read my tutorial on ‘How to Choose a Winning Niche,’ it's a comprehensive guide that covers all the steps involved.
Step 2. Choose a Domain Name
Once you know what you want to blog about the next step is to choose a name for your blog.
There are two ways to approach this. You can:
Use Your Own Name: Lots of bloggers use their names, for example, johndoe.com. It's a good option when you want to create a personal brand where you build recognition and authority around your name within a niche.
This approach works well:
- If you share professional knowledge and expertise on a subject.
- If you offer freelancing, consultancy or coaching services.
Make-up a Name: This takes a little longer than if using your own name because you will have to brainstorm ideas and find a name that is not already in use.
If you do go with this approach follow the below guidelines:
- Choose a .com (this applies if you use your own name too)
- Avoid using alternative spellings of words
- Don't use hyphens (john-doe.com)
- Keep it short and snappy
- Don't use numbers
- Choose a name that is easy to spell
- Choose a brandable name, not a generic one. For example, BlozFu.com is a brand sounding name as opposed to 'iteachblogging.com.
To check if a domain is available, head over to 'A2 Hosting Domain Checker' but don’t purchase a name just yet. We will do this during the web hosting steps later in the tutorial.
For more insights into choosing a name for your blog check-out my ‘How to Choose a Domain – 8 Tips,' it expands on the above pointers.
Step 3. Choosing a Blogging Platform (WordPress.org)
To build and manage a blog and organize its content you need a blogging platform. There are many different platforms: WordPress, Blogger.com, Wix, Drupal and Square Space. And there are many others.
But, of all the platforms WordPress is the most popular.
There are two WordPress platforms –
WordPress.com – This is a free online platform, but it's more suited to hobby bloggers because it has limitations and restrictions and doesn't give you full control of your blog.
And, then there is the software-based WordPress.org, which is the platform of choice for most professional bloggers. And it's the platform that I recommend you use too. I use it for this blog.
WordPress.org powers over 35 million websites including major publications like TechCrunch, The New York Times, Variety, MTV News, and Sony Music to name but a few.
It's so popular because:
- It's free to use – You just have to install the Software
- It gives you full control of your blog environment
- It comes with 1000's of free and premium theme templates
- You can fully customize the design and look of your blog
- There are 1000's of plugins to enhance the capabilities of your blog
- It's perfect for blogs, websites, e-commerce stores and membership sites
Once you have web hosting (which we will cover in the next step) it's easy to install WordPress, you can do it with the simple click of a button from your hosting account.
Step 4. Signing-up to a Webhost
(Includes Installing WordPress)
Ok, this is where the rubber meets the road. Where it all becomes real, and you go from wanna-be blogger to getting in the game.
After this step, your blog will be online. I hope you're excited!
But, before we move forward, let’s talk a little about Web hosting.
What is Web Hosting?
Publishing your blog live on the internet requires a web host provider. A web host rents you space on a server to store and organize all the files that make up your website – HTML documents, images, videos, etc.
There are hundreds of different web hosting companies, but not all of them are equal in the performance they provide.
A good hosting provider should have:
Consistent Uptime: Uptime is the amount of time that a server stays online. Unfortunately, servers go offline, and when this happens if your blog is hosted on that server, it too can go offline.
It's hard to get 100% uptime (over an extended period of time). However, you can get close to it, if you have a good web host.
Fast Page Load Speeds: Page load speed is a measure of how fast a web page loads. And fast load times are super important. Visitors to your blog won’t wait around for slow pages to load.
Slow page loads speeds are also bad for SEO. Search engines like web pages that load fast.
Robust Security: Unfortunately, we live in a world of hackers, and websites get hacked all the time. Your hosting service should provide robust security features that prevent attacks.
Excellent Customer Service: It’s vital 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, and be there when you need them.
I Recommend A2 Hosting…
The Web hosting service I use for this blog is A2 Hosting, and I highly recommend them.
They are the fastest web host company online, they are reliable with consistent uptimes, they are super, super secure and have fantastic customer service.
A2 Hosting also offers very competitive pricing, you can get started for as little $9.99 per month, or less if you choose a yearly plan.
And the best thing about A2's price plans is that you can get a refund at any time, which means you can avail of the cheap price of a yearly plan, and if you are not happy (which won’t happen), you can cancel your subscription and get a refund for the unused months of service.
Apart from the hosting fee, the only additional cost is your domain name, which comes in at $14.95 per year.
So, if you’re ready, in the next few steps (takes about 5 minutes) we will register with A2 Hosting, have WordPress installed and get your blog live on the internet.
Here is how the process will work:
- Select Your Hosting Package
- Choose Your Domain
- Configure Your Order
- Checkout and Purchase
- Your blog is ready
1 – Select Your Hosting Package
Go to www.A2Hosting.com this will bring you the ‘Shared Hosting’ price plan pages.
There are different types of hosting solutions, Shared, VPS, Dedicated and Cloud are the most common. As a beginner, you should opt for a shared hosting solution.
Shared hosting is a fraction of the price of other solutions and will provide you with all the hosting power you need for the foreseeable future. You will probably upgrade when your blog is receiving tens of thousands of monthly visitors. But, until then shared hosting is perfect.
Of the shared price plans offered by A2 Hosting I recommend you go with ‘Swift,’ it's an excellent jump-off plan. Not too big, and not too small.
Just press the ‘Get Swift’ button.
Some of the features you get with Swift are:
- Unlimited domains – You can set-up multiple blogs at no extra cost
- Increased performance – You get extra hosting power
- Unlimited space – For uploading posts, videos, images, etc
- Free SSL – Adds an extra layer of security and trust to your blog
- Free SSD drives – For better performance and speed
2 – Choose Your Domain
After you select a hosting package the next step is registering your domain.
Enter your domain name and press the ‘Check Button.’
After you choose a domain, press the ‘Continue’ button. You can ignore the ‘Suggested Domains.’
3 – Configure Your Order
The next step is to configure your order.
From the 'Configure Your Order' page you can choose your billing cycle (contract types) and add extra features to your hosting package.
There are four contract types – Monthly, 12 Month, 24 Month, 36 Month.
The longer the length of the contract the more money you save overall. For annual plans, you also get a substantial discount for the first year of service.
And remember, you can quit your contract at any time, and get a refund for unused months.
I recommend opting for Monthly or a yearly plan to start.
After you select a contract length, you have the addition add-ons
- Dedicated IP
- Turbo Boost
- Priority Support
- DropMySite Offsite Backups
- Performance Plus
- Barracuda Spam Firewall
For now, you don't need these add-ons. If you want to add them at a later date, you can do so from the hosting account.
However, there is one option you want to select: ‘Auto-Install Application,’
From the drop-down menu choose ‘WordPress – A2 Optimized.’
This tells A2 Hosting support to install WordPress on your blog. They do this free of charge, which is fantastic. You don’t have to mess around with setting-up anything.
When you select this option, you will get your WordPress Username and Password (seen in the above image), copy this information you will need it later to login into your blog.
After, you select the Auto-Install option, click ‘Continue’ and finish your purchase.
When you press continue, you will be presented with final add-on options.
By, default ‘ID Protection’ is selected.
When you purchase a domain your registration details are public. This is standard across all web hosts, but you can choose to hide this information with ID Protection.
It’s up to you if you want to avail of this option. If not, uncheck the box and press continue.
If you do choose to avail of ‘ID Protection’ the fee will be added to the price of your ‘Domain Registration’ at checkout.
4 – Review Your Order & Checkout
The last step before you checkout is to review your order.
On your cart page, the price will reflect:
- The price plan you selected by the billing cycle
- Additional add-on features (if you opted for any)
- The Domain Registration fee
- You will also see a ‘One Time Discount’ applied for the first year of service
If all is ok with your order, click the ‘Checkout’ button and move to the last step.
5 – Checkout
The final step is checkout, just fill in your details and select your payment method and click the ‘Complete Order’ button.
And, that is that.
Behind the scene, A2 Hosting will set-up your account, and install WordPress. Once ready you will receive an email with a link to login to your blog.
Congratulations on getting this far. Your blogging future awaits.
Once you receive your email from A2 Hosting, you can start setting up your blog. I have created some WordPress first steps videos to help you with this.
In these videos, you will learn how to install and customize a theme, how to add posts and pages, how to add categories and much more.