Do you want to start a blog? Blogging has gained popularity in recent years, and many people are full of ideas for creating their own. Maybe you have thoughts or work that inspires other people. Perhaps you give great advice. Or you think it would be a great way to spend your free time. Whatever your motivation, blogging can serve as a great outlet for creativity, spark new ideas, help you be part of a community and meet new, like-minded people, and give you a a fun, new hobby.
But many aspiring bloggers wonder how to start a blog. In truth, it's not very difficult, and with plenty of web-hosting platforms and softwares available that provide step-by-step instructions and tools to help users, even the least tech-savvy among us can start a blog.
Here's a basic step-by-step guide to get you started on creating your blog.
1. Choose a topic.
Chances are, you won't be the first person who's an expert or enthusiast in your niche or specialty. That doesn't mean you don't have something to contribute to the topic. The niche of your blog will probably depend on your purposes for wanting to start it in the first place. Are you looking to earn money? Want to gain exposure for your brand, business, or services? Hoping to get others to read your writing? Want to give readers advice?
Whatever topic you choose as the theme for your blog, make sure it's something about which you're passionate. Perhaps you dabble in the kitchen and want to share recipes with an audience. Maybe you're a talented photographer and are looking to showcase your photographs. Perhaps your have great taste in clothes and want to start a fashion blog. Whatever your particular specialty is, it needs to be something about which you'll be motivated to write; otherwise, you're less likely to stick with it, and your project may fall by the wayside.
If you're having trouble coming up with a blog idea, consider your hobbies, personal experiences, stories, and life history. Is there a story you love to tell? Do you enjoy telling jokes and want to share them with a community? Surveying your life experiences and goals for your blog can help you decide what your theme will be.
Try to be as original as possible. With so many blogs available within different niches and topics, you don't want to make exactly the same blog as someone else. Why would people visit yours is they can get the same content somewhere else? While it can be difficult to be wholly original when you're blogging, you can still find an interesting spin or unique take on a topic for which there's already material. For instance, if you want to start a cooking blog, think of a unique way of spinning it. Perhaps there's a type of dish for which you're famous among your friends, or you have a unique style of preparing meals that you can share with readers. If you're starting a fashion blog, maybe there's a particular fashion trend that you want to discuss, or an article of clothing in which you're especially interested, such as hats or shoes.
2. Pick a blog host and software.
A web host essentially gives you space online and supports your site. You need to have one so that readers and visitors can see your blog. Most plans include a domain name registration (the address users will type in the search bar to access your website), email addresses using the domain name, and storage, and come relatively cheap.
Many bloggers recommend using Bluehost. Bluehost is known to be low-priced and user-friendly. It also offers free WordPress software installation.
You'll need the software (WordPress is one popular form of blogging software) in order to build your website. Many domain hosting platforms offer package deals with blogging software, as is the case with Bluehost and WordPress.
You'll also need to choose a plan. Unless you have previous web developing experience or have specific ideas about the capabilities you want your site to have, the most basic plan the blog host offers is probably sufficient, at least for now.
You'll also create your username and password at this stage, too. Make sure your username and password are easy to remember (for you, not others!).
3. Design your blog.
It may take up to a day for your domain to become fully registered, but you can get starting designing and working on your blog right away, once you've installed your software.
Blogging softwares like WordPress offer many themes, including some free ones. Start by looking over the free themes; if you don't like any of the options available, you can always opt to spend a little more money on a paid one. On WordPress, you'll need to install and activate a new theme. Most software options have plenty of free themes and paid, premium themes, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety and find one the appeals to you and meets you purposes. Before you opt for a premium theme, make sure that the basic themes definitely don't meet your needs. It is likely that you can find a cheap or free theme that you can use instead.
You'll also have the option to customize and personalize your blog in other ways by making tweaks to the theme.
Once your site and layout are to your liking, you can publish the blog to make it viewable to your readers and other visitors.
4. Activite plugins.
A plugin is a piece of software that you can add to your blog to extend its function and capabilities and make it more user-friendly. You may not know what plugins you need right away, so it's okay and recommended to start with just a couple basic ones (or none at all). For instance, you might install Google Analytics to view the traffic to and popularity of your site and its specific blog posts and pages. You might also install social media-sharing plugins to allow readers to share your blog posts and content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.
Other plugins include platforms for earning money through your site, SEO (search engine optimization) tools, security and spam blockers, and many, many others. Keep in mind that there are some free plugins, but many cost some money.
4. Set up your pages.
What are pages? The pages on your site are stagnant. You can, of course, change them if you need to at any point (just make sure you always click the update button after making your edits), but, unlike with blog posts, you won't need to keep creating new ones. At the very least, you should add an "about me" or "about the company" page. On this page, share your story. Explain why you decided to create a blog. Tell readers what the purpose of the blog is and share some relevant personal stories and details about yourself or your brand. Include a picture or multiple photographs, if relevant to the content, to make your blog feel more personal and allow readers to connect with it.
You should also create a contact page. This allows readers and visitors to get in touch with you and share feedback. If your blog is anonymous, you can skip this step. Otherwise, be sure to include your email address. Since spam can be a concern, you might choose to include the word AT instead of the @ symbol in your email address, so users will have to type it out in order to contact you.
You'll probably decide to set up other pages as you go, but the other pages may be dictated by your specific content and blog purpose.
5. Write your posts.
Now comes the fun part: actually writing your content. Your blog success could in part depend on the frequency with which you post. So try to get a good deal of content out there to attract people to your site.
So what should you write? That's totally up to you! Write stories and posts that complement your theme. Tell funny anecdotes, or give people advice and information.
If you have a topic picked out (and hopefully by now you do), actively search for ways to find topics to address in your posts. Look in the headlines for compelling material. Think about what you like to read. Ask your friends for ideas on what they want to read or on what topics they consider you an expert.
Getting started writing your posts may feel a little difficult at first—after all, it's not something with which you have experience—but once you get going, it will become old hat.
6. Promote your blog.
Blog success depends on many different factors, but the most important part is making sure people are seeing it—by building traffic. Here are a few tips for ways to increase traffic to your blog:
• Create good content, and post frequently.
People are more likely to want to read your blog if you're writing compelling material that informs or inspires them. Also, make sure you're writing frequently. When you first create a blog, you need to get more content out there quickly. Set up a schedule and commiting to posting a certain number of times per week.
• Promote your blog on social media.
Post and repost your content on Facebook and Twitter. That way, your friends and others will see it and spread the word. Post your blog entries often.
Make sure you add links to your blog on all your profiles as well.
Don't share your full posts on Facebook or other social media platforms. Instead, include a teaser and link, so your friends need to actually visit your blog to read the whole post. The point is to drive traffic to your site, not Facebook's!
• Comment on other blogs and websites.
Don't ask people to visit or follow your blog; that's spammy. However, if you post insightful, thoughtful comments on similar blogs, you may drive traffic to your own. Make sure you target blogs your target audience—like-minded people—is reading, and add your URL when you register to post on the site. Don't leave your URL in the body of the comment yourself, because most bloggers frown on that and consider it to be poor etiquette.
It's also a good idea to participate in forums for a topic similar to yours, so your name becomes known in the community, and you are mentioned as an expert in the field.
• Track analytics.
Looking at your website traffic can help you figure out how often people are visiting your blog, what pages and posts are most popular, and what you might want to do differently.
Starting a blog can give you a fun hobby, a creative or personal outlet, and evena lucrative business. Use this step-by-step guide to get started on your project, and let your ideas flow from there!