I have been blogging for over 8 years. When I started my blog the blog-a-sphere was a very different place, things are constantly changing. I’ve experienced a lot of changes to my site and made many mistakes but I’ve also learned a great deal about blogging and social media through the process.
My advice for anyone that wants to start a blog is to do a lot of work setting things up properly before you launch because it will save you a great deal of a work if you do it right the first time.
I’m going to share with you how to start a blog using the most popular platform, WordPress. A Self-Hosted WordPress site allows you, the admin, to have more control over all of the elements of your site. There are other web site options but most professional bloggers choose WordPress above any other platform.
1. Choose a Topic
Before you can start a blog you need to know what you want to write about. You can write about pretty much anything but make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. You’ll need to be able to generate relevant content on a regular basis to maintain a steady stream of traffic to your site. You don’t have to be the top expert on the subject, you can simply share your opinions and experience on a topic.
As yourself, “What would people like to read about?” What do I like to read about?” “What do I enjoy talking about or sharing with my friends?”. These questions will be a good indicator as to what you should write about.
Also, determine if you want your blog to make money. If you want to monetize your blog you’ll need to consider that when creating content. There are many ways to make money blogging but I won’t get into those right now.
2. Secure A Domain
Choosing a domain name is important because this is how people will find you. You need to select a URL that is relevant to your niche but also easy to remember. Make a list of domains you thing would fit and then check to see if they are available. I recommend using GoDaddy to purchase your domain, they are a reliable registrar and I’ve used them for year.
3. Choose A Host
After you select and purchase your domain you will need a place for your content to live. When setting up a self-hosted WordPress site you will first need to secure a host. For beginning bloggers I recommend using Twenty70 Hosting because they offer affordable WordPress Hosting. With Twenty70 Hosting you get Unlimited Hosting, an Email Address for your business, one-click WordPress Installation, Control Panel (cPanel), and a Free SSL Certificate all for just $7 per month. Plus, you can scale with them as you grow.
4. Setup WordPress
If you choose to use Twenty70 Hosting has your host they offer one-click WordPress Installation so installing WordPress should be a breeze However, after WordPress is installed you will need to setup a few things. Establish your domain name, permalinks, categories and pages.
5. Choose a Theme and Design
Now you probably want to make your site look attractive. This is when you choose a theme. There a thousands of free or paid WordPress themes available. You can choose a free theme in your sidebar menu and clicking on Appearance > Themes. If none of the available free themes fit your style you may want to purchase a theme package from a designer like Restore316. Restore316 offer beautiful themes, tutorials and great support. (I use the Captivating Theme)
6. Add Plugins
Plugins allow you to add almost any function to your blog. To add new plugins to your site, go to Plugins > Add New. Some of the Plugins we recommend are:
Akismet – Anti-Spam plugin that checks comments before they are submitted.
Wordfence Security – Wordfence is the most popular security plugin for WordPress and it provides a wide range of security features for free or you may upgrade to the Pro Version for more options.
Social Warfare – One of the most critical elements on your site is its ability to socially share your content. No plugin does it better than Social Warfare.
7. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a key element in tracking traffic to your blog and helps in future development of your site. IF you really want to grow your blog you will want to know who is reading your blog, what they are reading and where they are coming from, Google Analytics offers you valuable insight to the demographics of your site. In WordPress you can install and use the free Google Analytics plugin by MonsterInsights or you can add your tracking code directly to your theme’s settings. I recommend using the plugin because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require you to adjust the code on your site.
8. Social Media Accounts
We all know that social media is how people connect with each other. Social media is a great tool with which to grow your blog. Setup social media accounts specifically for your blog. I recommend setting up a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram account, and Pinterest. You can set up all of these account for free.
Start creating content. You will want to have valuable content already available before you launch your blog. Start writing a few posts and then schedule them to post throughout the week/month. It’s also important to set up an content marketing strategy. Look at the content you want to create and share, then setup an Editorial calendar. You don’t want to share a Christmas craft post in February, save that for the end of November when readers will be ready to read about Christmas projects. Having a plan will help you stay on task and focused on creating quality content that readers will want to come back for each week.
Now that you’ve set up a functional, attractive and content rich site you can launch your blog. Let everyone you know that you have a site and tell them why they should read it. Share your links on your social media channels. Perhaps offer a giveaway or a special launch offer to drive traffic to your site.
After you publish your posts make sure you promote them via your social media channels. You can schedule your content to be promoted throughout the week using an app like Tailwind.