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So you want to start a blog? Good on ya’!
Everyone has their reasons for wanting to get started. Maybe you travel the world and you’re looking for a platform to share your stories with friends and family? A blog is great for that. Maybe you have a specific skill that you’d like to teach others? Awesome! A blog is perfect for that. Maybe you run a brick and mortar business and you’re looking for a way to connect with your customers online? Again, a blog is great for that. What if you’re a hobbit and you’ve been tasked with traveling a long, dangerous road to ultimately destroy a magic ring? Ummm, maybe a blog wouldn’t be the best option.
The point I’m trying to make is that there are a million and one reasons to start a blog. I’m here to help you get started today whatever your reason may be (unless you fall into that hobbit category, then I suggest looking for a wizard or something to help you).
Let me start by saying that this isn’t the only way to start a blog. In fact, there’s thousands of different way this can be done. I just find this one of the easiest ways to get moving. It’s the way I started.
I don’t want you to be overwhelmed before you even start. That’s a recipe for failure. So let’s keep it simple.
STEP 1: CHOOSING A NAME FOR YOUR BLOG
Before you get into the nitty-gritty, you need to come up with a name for your blog. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, it is and it isn’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I got so excited about a new idea for a blog and I just went to town. I picked the first name that popped into my head and started rolling. Two days later, I’m staring at a blog that is nowhere near what I had envisioned and I ended up starting over. Brutal!
You need to take a little time to really think about your name. If you can’t come up with the perfect name right away, it is possible to change it down the line. It’s just a hell of a lot easier to have a name you’re going to stick with from the beginning. Trust me here.
A few things to think about when you’re deciding on the name:
Is it something you can build a brand around? Think about colors and images you might use. Will it resonate with the audience you’re after?
Don’t pick a name revolving around something that is trending right now. You want something that will last the test of time.
Easy to say, spell and remember
Don’t get too crazy with your name. You want people to be able to recommend it to others. If it’s impossible to say, how can they share it? Catch my drift?
Does your mom like it?
This is often the most important thing to consider. Your mom has to like your blog. No ifs, ands or buts. Just make sure she likes it and everything will be unicorns and rainbows.
Once you’ve decided on the greatest name in the history of the internet it’s time to move onto the next step.
STEP 2: REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN & CHOOSE A HOST
Registering your domain name and setting up hosting is the bread and butter of your blog. The nuts and bolts. The Buzz Lightyear and Woody. You absolutely need these two things!
First, let me explain what each of these to you.
A domain name is like your address. It’s where you tell Amazon to send all your cool shit. It’s how people figure out where you’re located. Without an address or directions, nobody would ever be able to find out where you live. A domain is simply the web address of your blog (ex. www.thisismyblog.com). Generally, you’ll pay a small yearly fee for your domain.
A host (or hosting) is where the actual data for you blog is kept. Keeping with the home example a host would be similar to the city you live in. You pay them for that piece of property and they allow you to build your house on it. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, your blog is like your home. You’ll usually pay a monthly fee for hosting (Tip: it’s usually significantly cheaper to pay for a year upfront).
Let’s get into how you can actually grab your virtual address and pay your online property taxes.
There are thousands of hosts you can choose from. I’ve used many of them over the years and one of my favorites is Siteground. This tutorial is going to be based on this host specifically, but any other host would be similar to set up. You can still follow along although some of the screens may look slightly different.
In case you’re interested, here are a few reasons why Siteground is my go-to.
1. Their customer service is amazing!
You can give them a call toll-free, open up a ticket (they respond to your initial ticket within 10 minutes!) or live chat. Their support is available all day, every day. As I mentioned, I’ve used many different hosting companies over the years and had heard Sitegrounds was phenomenal. I can honestly say that this is true. When I first switched from my old host to Siteground I opted to have them migrate my WordPress blog over to their servers for me (which is FREE with a new account). I opened the ticket to get this done and was told it would be about 48 hours for the whole process to be completed. Within a few hours, I got a notification that the transfer was complete. I checked everything out and it was perfect.
That evening I received a phone call from Siteground to welcome me and ask if I needed help with anything else. I’m just blown away by their customer service, I can’t say it enough.
2. Their servers are extremely reliable
There’s nothing worse than finding out your blog is down. The first time this happened to me I was devastated. Thankfully, Siteground has an uptime of 99.99%, which is amazing. You can rest easy knowing there’s little risk of your website going down.
If for some reason you have a grade school grudge against Siteground or just have a schoolgirl crush on another hosting company feel free to go with them. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
The first thing you’ll have to do is go to www.SiteGround.com and click Sign Up.
Choosing The Right Plan
Now you have to choose the plan that’s right for you. Let’s go over the available plans and the features of each.
It only costs $3.95 per month and includes:
- One website
- 10GB Web Space
- 10,000 Visits Monthly
- All Essential Features
This is the perfect plan if you’re just starting out. The 10GB of storage and 10,000 visits is plenty.
This one costs $5.95 per month and includes:
- Multiple Websites
- 20Gb Web Space
- 25,000 Visits Monthly
- All Essential Features
- Premium Features
This plan is for you if you’re launching multiple sites or already have a blog with more than 10K visits per month. You also get access to the Premium Features. The priority technical support is a huge bonus, especially if you’re just starting out and think you’ll need some guidance along the way. For some, this is worth the extra $2 per month in itself.
This plan costs $11.95 per month and includes:
- Multiple Websites
- 30GB Web Space
- 100,000 Visits Monthly
- All Essential Features
- Premium Features
- Geeky Advanced Features
This plan most likely won’t apply to you unless you’re transferring a blog with more than 25K visits per month from another host. The Geeky Advanced features won’t apply to most people so we’ll just leave those alone.
Once you’ve decided on which plan is best for you, click the Order Now button.
Add Your Domain Name
You want to select a domain that matches the name you chose for your blog. You may find that the exact domain you’re looking for is already registered by someone else. In that case you can try a slight variation or you can change the TLD. The TLD is the part after the domain name (.com, .net, etc). I recommend you stich to the more popular TLDs like .com, .net or .org. These have a higher trust factor.
Make sure you’re using something simple. You want people to be able to find your blog and also remember the URL.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, enter it into the available field and click Proceed.
Review And Complete Your Order
Complete all the required fields in the account and client information sections.
Complete the payment information.
Review your hosting services and select a time period for hosting (12 months is the default).
You have an option to purchase some Extra Services from Siteground. I personally just stuck with the basics. The choice is yours but the extras are not mandatory.
Confirm your order total, agree to the Terms of Service and click Pay Now.
STEP 3: INSTALL WORDPRESS
You have two options for installing WordPress. You can go the super-duper easy route. That is to click the Live Chat button within Siteground and ask them to set WordPress up for you. One of the rockstar customer service reps will install it for you and send you the login credentials. Boom! Simple.
The other option is to install WordPress yourself. I’ll show you how to do that as well.
While logged into your Siteground account, go to the My Accounts tab and click Go to cPanel.
Click on the WordPress Installer button.
Software Setup section:
Leave the Choose Protocol field as is.
Make sure your domain is listed in the Choose Domain field.
Leave the In Directory field blank (unless you have some reason to change it – you shouldn’t).
Site Settings section:
You can change the Site Name to the name of your blog (Note: you can change this later in WordPress).
You can also fill out a Site Description (Note: you can change this later as well).
Leave Enable Multisite (WPMU) unchecked.
Admin Account section:
This is where you’re going to create your login details for WordPress.
Choose an Admin Username (something other than ‘admin’ so it’s harder to guess).
Choose a strong Admin Password.
Enter your email address in the Admin Email field.
Choose Language, Select Plugins and Choose Theme sections:
Select your Language.
Leave the remaining fields as they are. You will be selecting themes and plugins after WordPress is installed.
Login To Your WordPress Site
Log in using the WordPress admin credentials you just created.
That’s it! You now have a basic WordPress blog up and running! Congrats!
STEP 4: THEMES, CUSTOMIZATIONS, AND PLUGINS
The first three steps will get you to a point where you have a functional WordPress website up and running. You’ve come to the point when you can start to customize the look and feel of the blog.
It would be impossible for me to go over how to do everything moving forward. I’m going to leave you with the next three things you should do. There are all kinds of tutorials and videos on how to do each and they explain them better than I ever could.
- Find a theme you like or have someone design your blog for you.
- There are thousands of free themes you can find inside WordPress or you can search the web for more. Paid themes are generally higher quality. If you can afford one (should be around $50), I would go that route. They will have more features and usually provide you with better support. Just Google “Wordpress Premium Themes” and you’ll find a ton to sift through.
- If you can hire a designer that would be even better. This depends on your goals though. Don’t go overboard if you’re planning to keep your blog really small. Or even better, start with a free theme, learn the platform, then have a designer do a custom design for you down the road.
- Install your core plugins.
- Follow this complete guide for how to install plugins on your site: http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/step-by-step-guide-to-install-a-wordpress-plugin-for-beginners/
- Here’s a list of some of my favorite plugins to start with: http://www.theblogmaven.com/best-wordpress-plugins/
- Write and publish your first blog post.
- Here’s a simple guide to writing and publishing your first post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta4zoHIJ3yE
Well, looks like you’ve got it all figured out. If you have any problems as you’re working through this feel free to get in touch with me. I’d be glad to steer you in the right direction.
Happy blogging you crazy diamond!