Now that you have found your niche and defined your focus, it’s now time to start a blog. If you haven’t defined your focus, I shared how I narrowed down my niche and focus and came up with with my revised campaign plan on this site.
So let’s us say, you have defined your focus and you are ready to roll. Where do we start? How do I start a blog?
You need the following essentials when you start a blog.
- Domain name – this is the name of your site or blog. i.e. yoursite.com.
- Web Hosting – this is what makes your site online. more technical, where you will buy a part of the server where your site will live
- Blogging platform – service or software that enables users or authors to publish content onto the internet through blogging
Those are the 3 essentials you need to have. There are other resources you will be needing along the way but that is something you can decide on later. On this post, I will cover two other steps to start a blog.
Before you get even more confused when I tell you that a site is different from a blog, let’s just forget that for now and create your blog.
Step 1: Register your Domain
Choose your sitename
Before you start a blog, you should have a name you would like to call your site. That will be your domain name or what people use to search or type to any browser to access your site. This site’s domain is potandpalette.com.
Choose a name that is unique and indicative of your niche. List down words to describe your niche or focus. Then try to add action words or adjectives.
For instance, if you will blog about food, is there specific ingredient or material that you will be working with mostly? Any favorite food? How do you describe that?
Mix and match with other words still related to your niche or the industry where your niche belongs. It can also be an activity. For instance, if you like baking and creating artistic toppers or sugar arts, it can be styled + baking.
I suggest sit or sleep on it and not buy it right away. But don’t sit on it too long that you miss the chance to buy it because somebody has bought it. Try to ask your family and friends what they think of when they hear your sitename. Don’t mention what your focus is yet. See if their feedback matches with your niche and focus.
Choose your Domain Registrant
If you read my Ultimate List of Blogging Resources, Namecheap is the domain registrant for potandpalette.com. I like Namecheap because the interface when signing up is not bombarded with a lot of offers for add ons.
Here is the procedure on how to register with Namecheap.com.
- Search domain availability. You will be shown with different extension for the chosen domain. i.e. .COM, .SPECIAL, .ME used mostly for personal blogs.
- If you are fine with .COM extension, just click the shopping cart icon next to it.
- Click View Cart (shopping icon). You will be directed to your cart listing your domain purchase plus ICANN fee plus WHOIS Guard, which is FREE upon registration. There are other offered features upon check out. You can choose to add those or not. Example is the Google Suite.
- After confirming order, sign up for an account with Namecheap then choose your payment method.
- Once you have initiated your payment process, details of your billing, payment details and order will be shown for final review.
- One important setting you have to check is the Renewal Settings. Choose whatever is your preference.
- A success message will pop up once done with the purchase.
Step 2. Sign up with a hosting account
Hosting is where your site will be housed. Data files will be stored virtually through the hosting account’s data center. Basically, you are renting a portion of the server.
So now that you have registered your domain, next step is to sign up with a hosting account for your blog.
Criteria in Choosing a Hosting Service
Speed and Security Features
Your hosting service plays a role in the success of your site or blog. Hosting service should be able to provide fast loading speed because search engines penalize sites that are slow.
We are talking about your site or blog here. Hosting service should have an incredible, unbreakable security. When your site is breached, your hardwork will just go to waste. Another thing to note here is the backup system and frequency. This will make sure you get the most updated version as much as possible.
Another critical criteria for me is the customer support. The level, efficiency and effectiveness of customer support are more important when choosing a hosting service more than when you choose a domain registrant. If your site is down, you need 24/7 support to troubleshoot and bring your site working again.
Pot and Palette is hosted in Siteground. Somehow I have tested their customer support and so far, I am happy with them. I have encountered that white-screen-of-death otherwise known as coding-error. Siteground’s customer support helped me sort it out.
Pricing is a great deal too when choosing your hosting service. Compare the total package, year-on-year and not just the first year package. Among the features that you have to watch out for are the number of domains and sub-domains allowed, number of emails, and security features.
Additional note: If you want to start a blog but not a self-hosted one, you can sign up with WordPress.org or Blogger or Tumbler. These blogging platforms offer free hosting but with the .wordpress or .blogger extension.
If you decide to choose Siteground, learn how to sign up your account by clicking link below.
Step 3. Choose a blogging platform
My blogging platform is WordPress though I have tried Blogger years back when I set up my personal blog. There are now other blogging platforms to choose from like Squarespace which allows drag-and-drop. This makes customizing your site easier.
You can check out other blogging platforms on the Ultimate List of Blogging Resources page.
Which is the best blogging platform?
How do you choose a blogging platform to start a blog? Don’t get too technical on this one and decide which you think can provide you better flexibility and functionality, and availability of support.
I have tried WordPress and Blogger but not Squarespace yet. I chose WordPress because of its functionality and ease of use. That is why it is popular among bloggers and site owners.
WordPress has massive volume of resources, tips and tools from setting up to designing your blog. Just search Google. I am more of a DiY person so I always refer to online resources when tweaking my site’s design.
Blogger has easy to use interface and great support because it is owned by the ultimate G – Google.
After choosing your platform, request for installation support from your hosting service if it is included in their support services. For Siteground, so far, they have helped me 3x with my installations.
If you want to install by yourself, Siteground has detailed instruction on how to install WordPress here.
Step 4: Designing your Site or Blog
Install a Theme
A theme is the clothing of a site. It is the look and feel of your site. It is the overall look of your site which matches with your branding. Look for themes which are highly customizable and optimized for search engine. You can change the color, font, images, and if you are into coding, you can tweak anything you want.
Though there are a number of free themes, having a premium theme gives a site a more professional and polish look. It makes launching your site much easier too since you can just focus on creating content and social media.
Choose from these collection of Best Feminine Themes for Every Ladypreneur.
When deciding for your theme, consider the following features:
- Layout flexibility
- Frontpage or homepage flexibility (Is it widgetized? Can you add call-to-action buttons?)
- Customizable options (font, colors)
- Pages included (Blog, Category Index, Recipe Index, Landing Page, etc.)
- Navigation flexibility (sticky, number of navigation menus allowed – primary, secondary, footer, left and right of the header)
- Optional features but additional checks for aesthetic (hover effects, retina optimized logo, image background, styled pages, portfolio, etc)
- Customer support
So ok. That’s quite a lot but it doesn’t mean you should have all of those. Just choose which features you like most. You cannot have everything you want in one single theme. That’s where the tweaking of codes come in.
However, while you are starting out, you don’t have to have a perfect site. Improve it as you progress. You can even start with a free theme because there are great free themes out there. Concentrate on putting content and promoting your site through social media.
Step 5: Start a Blog… Start Creating Content
Got you there. I just mean you just finished creating your blog or site. It is now time to create relevant contents to your niche. When creating content, always optimize it for search engines. You can install WordPress SEO by Yoast to guide you as you write.
Read Create SEO-ready Contents to Drive Traffic to Your Site.
What topic can I write about?
Solve problems related to your niche. What solutions can you provide to your audience? Do you have expertise on that topic? Benchmark on that.
Consider the current news in your industry. How will it affect your audience? If you are a food blogger, definitely you have the foundation already. Your recipes and experience on baking or cooking. You can start with the basics of cooking or baking like 10 Essential Baking Ingredients for Your Pantry, Ultimate Guide to Making Cookie from Scratch and How to Add Different Flavors. Something like that. <smile>
Basic things when creating content:
- Always create original content
- Make your headline catchy and if applicable, indicative of a problem and a solution (How to Bake Cheesecake without Cracks)
- Provide solutions to a problem
- Present information or solution with What and How (how can they apply? step by step procedure)
- Make it engaging and inspiring to gain repeat-audience
- Break monotony by adding images and videos but don’t clutter with too much images or videos
- Use headings properly and sparingly. Use negative space (meaning white space or gaps or spacing between paragraphs)
- Straightforward content. Do not go around the bush just to meet the minimum number of words.
- Update content if there are changes or new better solutions
There you go. Isn’t starting a blog so easy?
You will find incredible resources online. Learn when to stop and proceed with whatever is available. Lastly, don’t aim for perfection! Flaws humanize your brand. That is something your audience would like to see from time-to-time.
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