How to Start a Blog or Website: A Step-by-Step Instruction Guide
You've been toying with the idea of creating a blog but you probably don't know how exactly to start, right? Guess what - most bloggers started out just like you. I've created several successful blogs in the last years and but when I started I had no idea what I was doing. I barely knew any HTML let alone CSS and building a beautiful website sounded quite intimidating.
The good news is that it's actually easier than you might think. I've learned quite a few things along the way and now you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself from wasting time and testing your nerves. Here's how I started my first blog, with all the necessary steps:
Tips from a blogger before you start
Getting the basics straight
1. Choose a niche that you're interested in. It doesn't have to be very specific but it must be something you love doing. Hiking? Cycling? Photography? Write about it if you love doing it.
2. Think about who your audience is. Who is going to read all the posts you're writing? Adjust your writing according to your niche and readers whether it's about parenting, archery or something else.
3. Add something unique and valuable to your content so your readers feel you've enriched their lives somehow. You have to give them something that keeps them coming back.
4. Be different than everybody else. Chances are there are hundreds of other blogs with the same topic as yours, so why should people come and read your content? It must be interesting and sharable but don't act like somebody you're not. Be yourself and let your personality come through everything your post.
1. The very first thing you should do is get yourself a good web hosting package and a domain name for your blog. Most web hosts offer some sort of automation so you could install WordPress easily. It's possible to find monthly packages for about $5 or less, so go get yourself one of these. Some companies even offer a free domain for new signups which is perfect for a blogger just starting out. Make a WordPress install and take advantage of the tech support if you get stuck somewhere.
Choosing a theme
2. Choose a theme for your blog that makes it look how you imagine a nice blog should look like. When you lack coding skills (as I did when starting out) a good theme gives you a good framework for designing and makes it a lot more easier. The nice themes out there cost money unfortunately, but they're not overly expensive and you get a lifetime license. Every WordPress theme has two parts: a fremework and a Child Theme which contains all the eye candy.
- The framework. There are quite a few WordPress themes out there but I personally recommend you to pick up Genesis. It's flexible and is a good foundation for the first half of your blog theme.
- Choosing a child theme. That's just a weird way of saying you have to choose the design for your blog or website. Good design is important so my recommendation is to get a theme from BYLT. They have nice, clean themes that are reasonably priced.
Setting up your blog
3. Set it all up. Now that you have a hosting package, domain name and a nice theme it's time to spend some time to make your blog design exactly how you want it. Don't worry, you probably won't be satisfied with the result off the bat, so tinkering and testing is inevitable. Now is also a good time to set up a Feedburner account (it's free) in order for people to be able to subscribe to your blog via email. It sounds a little old school, but it's simple and works and people still use it. You should also set up a Google Analytics account in order to track how your blog is doing.
4. Installing plugins. There's really nothing special you'll need so sticking with "Google Analytics for WordPress" and some social sharing plugin is going to be just fine for you.
5. Creating content. Now you can start filling your site with content. Start by adding the basic pages like About Us, Contact, Home, Archives, etc. Designing your logo is as simple as finding appropriate free images online adding some text and arranging it in an attractive way. Add a picture of yourself somewhere in the top half of your page so it's easier for people to identify with you and your experiences. Last but not least, start writing and posting new blog entries regularly, like once or twice a week.
3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Start Blogging
There are thousands of blog posts out there that give you reason to start blogging. It's just an opinion but here are some points why you shouldn't start a blog.
1. Making money. Starting a blog just so you can make money isn't a good idea. If you're looking for a way to leave your day job and make a full time income online by blogging, just stop. It's not how it works. Did Madonna start her music carrier just to make something on the side? Of course not. She did it because she loved it and was passionate about music. The fame and wealth came much later.
2. Fame. Don't think about getting famous on the internet. Your site is just one of millions of others and you have to be lucky to get a big fan base. It's possible and lots of people have done it but don't do it just so you can be "internet famous".
3. Getting traffic. Don't worry about attracting thousands of hits per day just yet. Nobody says you can't be the next Chris Brogan but if you don't have any other reasons to start blogging you'll hate it because it will start feeling just like a job. Where's the passion in that? If you're going to write, do it because you're passionate about it.