Have you toyed with the idea of starting a blog, but have no idea where to begin? Welcome to The Blogger Project, where you’ll learn how to start a blog and run it as a business.
We’re guessing you’ve thought about a blog name and have maybe googled a thing or two on different blogging platforms but ended up giving up because the information just isn’t clear. Not only is it our mission to help you set up your blog, but we also want you to understand why we suggest doing it this way.
We’re going to breakdown the makings of a blog so you feel comfortable sailing out to sea on your own. We highly recommend you read through this guide word-by-word.
STEP 1: PICK A BLOGGING PLATFORM
So you’ve decided to start a blog. That’s awesome. Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:
1. What kind of blog? i.e. food, fashion, anarchist gardening?
2. Would I like to make money from my blog?
Question 1 is for you to keep. Know what you want to blog about before starting. It can change as you and your blog evolve but go in with a plan.
Question 2 is important. It doesn’t matter if your blog will make money tomorrow, it’s whether you would like it to make money one day. This will and should play a role in how you set-up your blog. Why? Because certain blogging platforms do not allow you to monetize (i.e. make money) on them.
Some blogging platforms that you may be familiar with include WordPress, Blogger, and Squarespace. All 3 of these allow you to monetize, but each one has its strengths and downfalls.
In our experience, the best and only one to choose is WordPress.
WordPress allows for far more individualization than any other blogging platform out there. If you don’t want your blog to look like every other site out there then WordPress is your answer.
Here’s where things get tricky. WordPress runs two separate sites. There is WordPress.ORG and WordPress.COM. WordPress.com is free, but it’s not what we recommend. While blogging on WordPress.com comes with no price tag it also comes with its limitations. The WordPress we mentioned above that offers all kinds of individualizations is actually WordPress.ORG. WordPress.com does NOT offer custom theme (i.e. layout) customizations, does not allow you to monetize and limits you to very little storage space so unless you plan to post once a year, you’ll end up having to buy more space from them anyway.
WordPress.ORG on the other hand offers thousands of themes, the ability to purchase and install new themes, unlimited space and most importantly, the ability to monetize. But it does come at a cost. A cost, which we feel strongly is worth it. But before you go signing up for WordPress, let’s cover step 2…
STEP 2: PURCHASE DOMAIN NAME AND WEB HOSTING
The reason why WordPress.ORG comes at a cost is because you have to purchase web hosting to use it. Web hosting means you pay an external service to host your blog server. All of your content including your posts and pictures will sit on this server. So it isn’t WordPress.ORG that you are paying, but a hosting service which will work in conjunction with WordPress to keep your site running. Here’s how we would sum it up in one sentence:
You need a platform on which to blog, but your platform needs a place (i.e. a host) to store all of your content.
It’s purchasing this host that will cost you. Luckily, it isn’t very much and there are some extremely reasonable options out there.
We suggest our friends at Bluehost because the setup is seamless, the pricing is reasonable, and they are a reliable hosting company. They also only cost $4.95 a month. That’s a latte a month.
Then there’s the matter of purchasing your domain name. Your domain name is your blog’s URL. You want this URL to be yours and yours only and not owned by anyone else. So instead of thebloggerproject.wordpress.com, you own thebloggerproject.com. Most hosts make you buy your domain name externally (through sites like godaddy.com) but Bluehost includes the cost of your domain making it by far the most affordable host on the market.
It also works hand-in-hand with WordPress so the second you purchase hosting it will direct you to WordPress so you can set up your account and have them linked.
For a full tutorial walking you through purchasing hosting with Bluehost and getting your blog set-up on WordPress, check out this post.
So now you know that you’re blogging on Wordpress.org, hosted by Bluehost, let’s start working on the layout of your blog.
STEP 3: PURCHASE A THEME
Answer: It depends…
A theme is essentially the layout of your blog. It’s a mask you put on WordPress to make your blog look exactly how you want it. WordPress.ORG comes with thousands of free themes, some of which may work for you. But more often than not you’ll find a lot of the themes have been exhausted on the millions of other blogs out there and you’re looking for something that is more representative of you. This is why you may decide to purchase an external theme.
There are so many themes and theme websites out there that it can be a little overwhelming choosing the one right for you. The good news is that themes are pretty reasonable in price and are easy to install so you can try out a few before picking the final one.
Click here to see some of our favorites that we suggest if you are just starting out.
STEP 4: CUSTOMIZE YOUR BLOG
Answer: Consider outsourcing
Now that you’ve got your theme in place, it’s time to develop your blog into a brand.
Your blog layout is the first thing that someone sees when they land on your page. You want it to look as professional and of the highest quality that it can.
If you have a background in graphic or web design, then lucky you. We’re jealous. However, most of us are lacking this skill set so sometimes it’s important to recognize your own weaknesses and seek outside help.
While it isn’t necessary that you hire a web designer, if you are taking blogging seriously and would like it to be a business then we highly recommend that you do. How much you will earn with a well-branded site is likely to offset the cost of a designer. Click here for a list of designers we recommend.
STEP 5: BLOG AWAY!
Your blog is now up and running. It’s time to focus on creating quality content and sharing it on social media. Check out The Blog for more tips and tricks on running your blog as a successful business.