Are you wondering how to start a blog? Well, it’s a lot like building a house. You have to build it from the ground up, following each step in turn. We’re going to discuss the basics of building that house today – clearing space, building a foundation, putting up the frame and working on the finishing touches on the space that will house your content.
Finding a Place to Live: Domain Name 101
If you are starting a blog, you have to begin with a domain name. A domain name, for those who are unfamiliar with online jargon, is your website address – that lovely string of text up top that starts with http://. This is your storefront, your address and your front door all rolled into one. This is the address that brings people to your blog, so it has to make a great first impression.
Purchasing your domain name is the easy part – services like GoDaddy will usually sell you a domain name for a dollar a year. The hard part is figuring out the name that you want to use. If you read the last article in the series, you already know that you need a unique blog name to stay competitive. Your domain name needs to match that blog name as closely as possible – your would-be readers are going to assume that the two names are the same, and thus might forget any additional words added on to the title.
The Foundation: Hosting – Free or Paid?
If you’re just learning how to start a blog, It might surprise you to find out that getting a domain name is not all there is to creating a place for your site online. While that lovely .com (or .org, or .biz or…well, you get the point) address gives you a place to park your site, it does not actually host the bones of the website for you. Your next step is to find an appropriate hosting service for your site, which is going to require you to make your first major choice as a blogger – do you go with a free host, or put money down for a paid service? It might be easier to compare the two side by side when you want to make a choice.
As you can tell from the chart, the free option looks like a good choice for a beginner – it doesn’t cost anything, and it provides a lot of the basics. However, it’s a far less professional product. Everything from the on-site advertising to the URL screams “amateur,” which is not a great look for any site. You can split the difference, of course – you can always have a blog hosted by a free site like Tumblr, but have it redirected to your own URL. This is a great way to test the waters if you are unsure about a personal blog, but might still put you in hot water if you are expecting something that looks professional.
The Frame: Basic Setup
There’s no doubt that there are a ton of hosting tools out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but one statistic really stands out for bloggers:
That’s just shy of half, and those are people who know what they are doing. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel on this one, just go with what already works. We’ll discuss WordPress in depth later on, but the real point here is to remember to get your content management system set up as early on as possible. As a word to those of your who chose the free hosting option – you might be able to skip this step. One of the easiest parts about using a free host is its suite of easy-to-use tools. These tools aren’t always the best, but they will let you get your content up quickly. If you are still a bit nervous about posting your own content to the web, a free CMS can be your training wheels.
The Finishing Touches: Creating Content
Content is key. Your blog needs it, and it needs it regularly. Fortunately, creating content is something that you can start doing even if you have never touched a computer before. You just have to make sure that the content is good.
Good content is…
- Always relevant (evergreen)
- Easy to read
- Useful – either for expanding knowledge or entertainment
We’ll talk about content more as we continue the series, but it is something you need to start thinking about today. Content is the soul of blogging, so go ahead and get your imagination moving. Your particular niche is full of potential topics, and you might be that breakout star who sees things with a unique perspective. Take some time to enjoy this part, because it really is quite fun. Your blog is going to be a great platform for your ideas, so get ready to embrace the steps necessary to make it shine.
Learning how to start a blog is easy with the right advice. What are your thoughts about the tips we’ve listed here? Do you have any other pieces of wisdom to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below.