Congratulations on being ready to start your own blog!
You've come to the right place. I'll take you through the steps from choosing a great domain name right through to monetising your blog and everything inbetween.
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Ready? Well let's get started...
Is Blogging for You?
You've maybe found yourself reading others blogs online and thinking - 'I'd love to be able to blog' or 'I could write about that' or 'blogging looks like fun'. but then do nothing about it... until now!
There are thousands, if not millions, of blog posts written every week on every subject you could possibly imagine and hundreds more on subjects you've never heard of.
The market may seem saturated and left you wondering where your new blog would fit in, but there IS space for you. Sure, standing out from the crowd may seem a little daunting... at first, but if you provide QUALITY content that readers are looking for then it won't be long before you do start to stand out (and I'll show you how!)
Another reason I've heard time and time again as a reason for someone not starting their blog is that they're not technically minded. Their brain freezes when they think about everything that could be involved in blogging and therefore let out a loud sigh and continue reading others blog posts wishing it could be them doing the writing. Luckily on TheBusinessMum.com I give step-by-step instructions for non-techies on every subject I write about.
Still not sure? Why not read 'Should I Start A Blog', then come back here.
How to Choose a Topic for Your Blog
Chances are you already know what you're passionate about. Think about all your favourite bloggers and how religiously you read their posts, wishing you could do something similar.
Maybe you love cooking or baking or crafting. You might not be brave enough yet to get in front of a camera to create YouTube videos but you'd still love to share your latest creation with the world... and the steps on how you did it. Get behind the camera and start snapping those shots! It won't be long until you are doing both!
Perhaps you have a cause close to your heart or an illness that you've done so much research on that you want to share your findings.
Are you a fashionista? A make-up artist? A traveller?
Whatever your passion is, that's what you write about. It has to be something you love otherwise whenever you hit a hurdle, you'll find an excuse to give up.
If you still aren't sure, write down a list of topics you could write about and carry it about with you for a few days. Use your imagination! Imagine writing about each of those topics. Which one excites you more?
Once you've got your topic, it's time to choose the domain name for your blog.
How to Choose a Domain Name
There are several ways to come up with a domain name and this list isn't all of them.
When I chose the domain thebusinessmum.com, it was back in 2002 when things were a bit different to nowadays. I was just starting my online business and needed a name. I was also a single parent to 3 young kids (not so young now). Voila, The Business Mum was born!
Unfortunately it's not so easy to get the first perfect domain name you choose as many have already been bought. So, grab either a piece of paper and a pen, or open the notes on your phone, laptop or desktop... it's brainstorming time!
Write down all the words you can think of that relates to your chosen topic. I mean EVERY word. Don't discount any. Keep writing until you've exhausted every word, then write 10 more. Expect the perfect word combination to flow effortlessly from your fingers!
Ideally there are three things you are looking for in a domain name:
- 2 -3 words at most, the shorter the domain the better (think about typing links to your posts into social media, you don't want it too long.)
- Easy to remember (you might think you have a clever domain name but if there are issues on how to spell it then it's time to choose something else)
- There should be an instant a-ha moment from when someone reads your domain name to seeing the content on your blog. Your domain should portray clearly what your blog is about.
Once you've choosen a name (and the name is available - more about this later) it's a good idea to sit with it, at least overnight, unless you've had this name in mind for a while, so that you know you've picked a name you're happy with. You can change your mind and a new domain would be around $10/year, however you'd also need to change your branding, any links you've sent out into the world wide web etc. So, it's worthwhile sitting with it for a day or two to ensure it's going to go the distance!
When choosing a domain name it's good for it to be a clear representation of what your blog is about, or a way around this is to have a tagline that tells potential readers what your blog is about.
If you need more information on choosing a domain name, read What is a Domain Name.
Next we need to choose a platform for your blog, and it just so happens that they offer a FREE domain name for the first year!
Where to Buy Your Web Hosting
If you're serious about your blog then the one thing you can't skimp on is web hosting. That doesn't mean that you have to buy the most expensive one, oh no Bluehost have a deal for you that starts at £3.25/$3.95 per month. Check out the deal below, then keep reading for a step-by-step walk through of purchasing then installing your WordPress blog (which Bluehost kindly does automatically for you!).
If you're still not convinced you need to buy web hosting and are thinking of going the free platform route, read Free Blogging Sites - Yay or Nay?.
Make sure you select 'WordPress Hosting' then you'll be given three options.
If you only ever plan to have ONE blog, then choose the first option 'Basic'.
If you plan on having more than one within the time term you choose (1, 2 or 3 years) then choose 'Choice Plus'. You will get FREE back-ups and at the end of the special pricing term, you can always downgrade your account if you find you don't need it.
Pricing below is in GBP, however Bluehost will automatically change the currency to your own when you view the same page.
Once you press 'Select' for your chosen package, you will be asked to set up your domain. This is where you get your FREE domain name!
Next you're going to set up your account and pay for your WordPress hosting. Please note that you DO NOT need any of the extras they offer.
Once you've filled out all your details and paid, then it's time to login to your new account and go through the walk-through installation (don't worry you don't have to do anything technical here, it's VERY easy to do!)
Once you login you'll see the following screen. You want to click on 'My Sites'.
I set this up for a friend so I could take screen shots. Thanks Lisa!
Next, you want to create a new site. You'll see below how easy it is. Remember to make sure you slide along the option to add a blog!
Remember, you can change ANY of these settings within your WordPress installation, so don't spend too long overthinking things.
Step two will install different plugins to your site, again you can easily delete and add to those inside WordPress.
To keep your installation as clean as possible (for the moment) just click on 'Share my ideas, photos, stories, or videos' and leave the rest blank.
Next is theme selection. This can be a rabbit hole of epic proportions trying to find the perfect theme. As you can see, there 554 pages of themes to choose from - all free (that's over 4,000 themes!)
Again, this can easily be changed before you launch your new blog, so don't give this too much thought at this time. Pick one and move on...
Once you've picked your theme, you're finished with the installation process.
You can either go through the recommended checklist, or go straight to your WordPress installation by clicking on the blue 'WordPress' button on the right.
Customising Your WordPress Installation
When you first login in, this is the screen you will see for your WordPress dashboard. If this is the first time you've ever seen it, then you'd be forgiven for taking a gulp and wondering what you've let yourself in for.
However, you can learn how to use it and it won't be long until you feel comfortable with it. All it takes is practise.
Ignore all the messages on the screen to start with as we're going to simplify your dashboard and what's been installed as default.
If you notice the orange highlighted 'Coming Soon Active' it means that there is a maintenance plugin installed and active so that visitors to your blog can't see anything until you deactivate it.
First we're going to delete some of the default plugins so that you start with the bare minimum of what you need to get started, that way you won't feel so overwhelmed.
From the menu on the left, scroll down to 'Plugins' and click on 'Installed Plugins'.
Even though I've only hightlighted three plugins to delete, you can delete all except for 'Bluehost'.
Why? You may well ask.
Akismet is a plugin that requires a monthly payment for commercial sites (any site that makes money via advertising, affiliate links or selling something comes under this category). There are free plugins that do the same thing, that you can add later.
Google Analytics for WordPress is not required until later, and I recommend another one. Deleting it also removes the annoying reminder to update your settings on the dashboard. Google Analytics is a whole different tutorial!
Hello Dolly is a stupid default plugin (in my opinion). All it does is show random quotes from Hello Dolly on your site, out of the millions of WordPress sites I don't know any who actually use this! So, delete, delete, delete!
Jetpack is a combination plugin with too many options that can get confusing, not only that you won't probably need to use half of these options, so again - delete!
Optin Monster is a plugin to grow your mailing list. Where you add your optin code from your email service provider (ESP) to capture email addresses of your visitors. We don't need this yet, and there are alternative, so delete!
WPForms Lite lets you create forms on your website, such as for your Contact Page. It's not a plugin I'd recommend, not that it's bad, but it's not one I install on client websites or advise anyone to use as a first choice, so again - delete!
Once you've deleted all those plugins, you'll be left with a clean dashboard. Go to the menu on the left and click on 'Dashboard' at the top.
Now doesn't that look a lot cleaner? Easier to manage?
Next, we're going to clean up the default blog post that comes with every new installation.
Go to 'Posts' > 'All Posts' then hover over the post and click 'Trash'.
Now that we've got a clear post dashboard, we're now ready for...
What Should I Write in My First Blog Post?
Yay! We've finally got to the bit you've been longing for.
To add a new post, go to 'Posts' on the left hand menu and click 'Add New'.
Tada... you're now ready to create your first post!
Here are some ideas on what to write about in your first post:
- An introduction to you and your blog.
- Why you are starting your blog.
- Your favourite thing about the topic you're blogging about.
- A list of people who you follow who writes the same topic, who have inspired you - and tag them in any promotion as they may reshare your post!
Whatever you do HAVE FUN!