Blogging can be a fun hobby, or a lucrative second job. If you are very passionate or very knowledgeable about something, you can blog about it and gain fans and followers. Blogging became popular as a hobby in the nineties. There are many reasons to start a blog: you want to write about your hobbies, business, travel etc, or you just want to make money. Learn how to start blogging on this website.
Nowadays, all kinds of people and even businesses blog, most of the time professionally with the intent of making money. You can, too, start your own blog. It doesn’t require special computer or technical skills. Basic knowledge of using a computer and navigating the web is sufficient to start a blog.
Now, starting a blog refers to the setting up of a website, publishing content and getting it up and running. Starting a blog and maintaining a blog are two different things. This guide will explain the specifics of launching a blog. It will only touch upon the marketing aspects and will not go into detail about that. If you have been thinking about launching your own blog but have no idea where to start, read ahead to find out how you can start blogging today:
Start By Choosing a Topic
The very first step in starting a blog is to choose a topic to blog about. It may seem easy enough, but many aspiring bloggers struggle with this part. The main problem here is that, if you have settled on a topic, chances are high that there are already a dozen other blogs about it. If you want your blog to be successful, you need to choose a unique topic. People won’t’ subscribe to your blog if there’s another, more established, blog writing about the same thing. What aspiring bloggers need to do here is to find a niche market.
A niche topic refers to a topic that a specific set of readers are very interested in. For example, a blog about Star Wars lore attracts a particular type of audience. The blogger can easily capture this audience and market towards it. On the other hand, a generic blog about science fiction will have trouble attracting devoted followers.
It will take some time for you to find a niche audience. Start by choosing a topic that you are either very passionate or very knowledgeable about. You have to be willing to write about this topic for years to come. Then, browse the web for other blogs that may cover the same topic. You can then find what aspects of the topic that no one else is writing about. Base your blog in that. When you write about something no one else is writing about, you are creating a market for yourself. If this isn’t possible, you can still choose a topic someone else is blogging about, but with a unique twist. The gist here is that your blog must offer something to readers that they cannot get anywhere else.
Pick a Blogging CMS
As you choose your topic, do spend some time researching content management systems (CMS). CMSs are platforms that allow you to create your blog, often for free. When you use a CMS, you won’t have to write code for your blog site from scratch. You can just download a theme and start designing your blog. The most famous CMS you have probably heard of is WordPress, the ultimate platform ever for bloggers. WordPress is easy to use, does not require technical skills, and is highly specialized towards blogging. WordPress is highly recommended for bloggers, but there are other excellent alternatives as well, such as Joomla and Wix. Wix is a drag-and-drop CMS, which literally lets users to design sites by dragging and dropping components. Whether you are an absolute beginner or a pro, there will be a CMS out there suited for your needs. Find more information below about how to start blogging.
Find a Hosting Provider and Choose a Plan
In order to start blogging, you first need a reliable web hosting provider.
Types of Plans
You need a server to take your blog online. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend plus expert knowledge, you will need to rent a server through a web hosting provider. Web hosts offer plans where you will be billed monthly for keeping your site online. Now, hosting plans differ in type. For example, you can buy shared hosting, dedicated hosting, or cloud hosting plans. Depending on the type, the price will vary as well.
For beginner bloggers, shared hosting plans are recommended. These plans allow you to share server space with many other websites. These plans often cost very little per month. The downside is that if the server suddenly experienced a spike in traffic to a certain website, all sites will be slowed down. As your blog grows, you can gradually upgrade to a better plan. But until then stick with a shared hosting plan.
Hosting Provider Recommendations
When you know the type of the plan you want, you should pick a hosting provider. There are loads of web hosts out there. Not all are reputable. For bloggers, it’s recommended to use popular and well-known hosting companies like Hostgator and Bluehost. Hostgator is the best hosting provider currently available. The host offers highly affordable plans to beginner bloggers, and is known to be highly reliable as well. Bluehost is the second best that offers highly advantageous plans with low costs and over 99 percent uptimes.
Take note that you should pick a host depending on the level of support the company provides for the CMS you have chosen. Both Hostgator and Bluehost offer excellent support for popular blogging CMSs like WordPress and Joomla. In case you are going with a different provider, make sure similar support is offered.
Find A Good Name For Your Blog
When you sign up for a hosting plan, you will be required to provide a domain name to get your account online. The domain is the web address of your blog. When you use a CMS like WordPress, you can obtain a free domain. However, it will come with a .wordpress part in it. If you want to truly own your blog and market it, you will need an independent domain. You can buy one for as little as $10 per year.
The domain name of your blog should include the name you have chosen for it. Be careful here, however. The domain is the main identity your blog will have on the internet. Therefore, it’s very, very important to get it right. Domain names should be simple and easy enough to remember. That means no dashes, numbers, or other symbols that are difficult to memorize. It should be concise as possible. It should also not sound like any other website as you could end up violating copyright laws.
Once you know your domain name, you should register it. You can do this with Hostgator or Bluehost. Otherwise, you can directly go to a domain name registrar. You will have to buy a plan for at least a year. It doesn’t cost much so don’t worry.
Design the Blog
Your blog shouldn’t look like any other blog on the internet. You should strive to make your blog as unique as possible. Start with the design.
Set Up Your Account
Once you know your CMS and you have purchased a domain name, it’s time to design the blog. Start by installing the CMS software. You can find documentation on installing the CMS you have chosen on its official website. CMSs like WordPress are pretty straightforward to install.
Once the CMS software is installed, you will have to enter the domain of the blog and get an account. This will be the administrative account. Do not call it the “admin” account for security reasons. Set up a username and a strong password with letters and numbers for this account.
Choosing a Theme
Now, you are ready to design your blog. First, you should choose a theme (web layout). You can use a free theme for your blog or purchase a “premium” one. In either case, you should customize the theme so that you blog looks unique. Hundreds of other sites would have used the same theme you chose. So you should do your best to make sure your site doesn’t look like dozens of others.
When choosing a theme, pick a layout optimized for blogs. You will also need a responsive theme. Reponsiveness refers to how easily your blog can load on devices with varying screen sizes. Mainly, only responsive websites load on smaller smartphone and tablet screens. Considering that more and more people are accessing the internet on their phones rather than computers, a responsive theme is absolutely necessary for your blog.
Think User Friendliness
When choosing the theme, always look at it from the reader’s perspective. Ask yourself questions like how easy is the theme is to view, does it prioritize posts over other components, or whether it’s cluttered with too many components that hinder seamless reading. Choose a minimalist theme, as these are high preferred by readers.
When designing your website, you must think about search engine optimization (SEO) tactics as well. SEO allows search engines to locate your site better for relevant queries. You can make your blog SEO friendly by using keywords in the title, domain and content; making the site speedier, and making the site responsive. There are a number of other SEO tactics this article will not go into detail about. You should learn about them and utilize them to your advantage.
How To Start Blogging: Create Content
Once the layout for the website is up, it’s time to start creating content. This refers to the blog posts you write, photos, and other content like infographics. In the beginning, you can experiment with the content you publish as long as it relates to the topic. Keep your target audience in mind. They are expecting high-quality, niche content, and you must deliver.
When writing articles, keep them short at 500 to 600 words in length to grab users’ attention. But you should also produce highly detailed longer articles 1,000 or more in length. Don’t limit posts to articles either. You should mix in infographics and videos as well if possible. Generally speaking, web users are visually oriented rather than textually. The nice looking a blog post is, the more likely people would click on it.
How To Secure Your Blog
Before your site goes online, you should take steps to secure it from malware and cyber criminals. Install a virus scanner recommended by your CMS provider. This software tool will scan the source code of your blog for malicious scripts. A virus scanner for the blog is different from malware protection you get for your computer or the server. It’s a separate but necessary tool.
Be careful of the images and links you upload. Make sure you have sourced such material from highly reputable third parties. If possible, check them for possible malware as well. Additional steps to secure your blog include purchasing an SSL certificate for your domain, which will encrypt all data going in and out of your site. Also, make sure all the passwords you use with the CMS is complex and hard to guess.
Beta Test Your Blog
Once you are done designing the site, it’s time to debug it. You can test previews of your site. But it’s best to get a beta version online initially. With a beta version, you can use feedback from users to fix issues common to new websites. You can easily ask friends or colleagues to test your site. It’s important to make sure that the final version is free of any major bugs. As your blog is new, you want to make a good impression on potential subscribers. If it’s buggy and lags, users will be less likely to stay on and subscribe.
Go Online And Start Blogging
Once you are confident that the site is as perfect as it can get at this point, go online. Your hosting plan and CMS will have information on how to upload your site files onto a server and get it available on the internet. Go to the blog and browse to make sure everything is working fine.
The above steps refer to starting a blog. And this is the easy part. Now you will have to gain followers and subscribers. If you plan on monetizing using your blog, you will have to attract a considerable number of subscribers. There will be a lot of marketing ahead. But that refers to whole another topic. To start your life as a blogger, take the above suggestion to heart.