This post was updated on October 15th, 2017.
On one morning of January 2016, I opened my laptop sitting on a chair in an Indonesian international school, and I created my first blog post. It was smelly, hot, and humid, but I sat on the chair for three hours writing down my thoughts.
If you’re new here, welcome. My name is Grace, and I am the ultimate powerful being behind the site you’re on right now. You probably clicked this post to learn about how to start a blog, and don’t worry. You’re in the right place. About two years ago, I was in the exact same place as you were in – clueless, but thrilled.
I searched, searched, searched, and searched. Actually, let’s multiply that by ten. I literally stayed up until one or two in the morning trying to figure this “blog” thing out, only to wake up the next day and feel clueless once again.
But one thing that got me to where I am today is that I opened up my laptop and took action.
I’m not going to start this post off by saying why blogging is important and go through a list of things you have to do to prepare for your blog launch. Instead, I’m going to give you the exact steps I took to start my blog. Some might disagree with my steps, and some might scowl at me for the tools I used, but what I did, worked for me and that’s all I’m here for. Telling you what worked for me.
Throughout this post, you’ll be learning practical tips that you can utilize to start blogging. It won’t be full of technical details that every “How to start a blog” guide has, but tips that you can actually use to do the act of blogging.
So, let’s get started.
By now, you probably already know what to blog about. I’m also going to assume that you already know what you’re going to call your blog. If not, I’m sorry – that’s not my profession. As you could tell, I did try to give my blog a name, but I failed so I use my name.
GET YOURSELF A DOMAIN
You need a domain – they’re the address that you’re going to build your website on (like gracee.co). I cannot stress enough on how important domains are. It’s how your readers, clients, and customers will be able to remember you. For example, if your blog name is Life By Olivia, your domain should be lifebyolivia.com. If it’s something like olivialife23.com, no one is going to remember that.
Now, you also have two ways to acquire your domain. The first way is by purchasing your domain with a name company such as 1&1, Namecheap, or GoDaddy. If you already have hosting, you could connect the domain your purchased to your host. If you haven’t purchased hosting, most hosting providers allow you to use a domain you purchased when you sign up.
But the most important thing is that you need to get your domain down.
GET YOURSELF A HOST
Now that you have a domain (or plan to get one with hosting), you need to find a host. As for me, I use Bluehost and it’s the very hosting that I signed up on January of 2016 when I first wrote my blog post. I’ve heard some people complain about the hosting, but I’ve never had any trouble with the host.
Search around, and try to find the host that fits your needs. Take a look at the features of each plan, read the disclaimers, consider the pricing, and debate on which hosting & plan will be the best for you.
I usually recommend Bluehost to those who are starting out. They definitely have the pricing plan that’s ideal since the lowest plan is about $3.95 per month.
The sign up process.
First and foremost, go to Bluehost.com and click on “get started now”. Then go ahead and select a plan that suits your needs and matches your budget. As for me, I grabbed a great deal for the “prime” plan that popped up on the checkout page. Maybe it’s still there – go check it out!
Once you go through the checkout process, you’ll be able to reset the password to one that you know is secure and rememberable.
install & set up wordpress
After you purchase hosting with your domain, go ahead and install WordPress. The steps to installing WordPress differs for each host, and if you need help, most hosting providers have a live chat feature where you could ask someone to help you.
On Bluehost, you’ll simply need to click the “Start Building” button and they will guide you through the exact steps you need to take in order to install WordPress!
Once you install WordPress, log into your WordPress dashboard by going to domain.com/wp-admin. Once you do, you’ll be led to the WordPress dashboard of your website. Don’t be afraid – you’ll learn all these tools eventually!
The very first thing you want to do is update your permalink and install necessary plugins for your site. A permalink is the words you see after your domain when you create a post or page. For example, the permalink for this post is gracee.co/start-a-blog.
To do this, you go to domain.com/wp-admin, hover on “Settings” and click on “Permalink.
Once you get there, you’ll see your default settings as “Plain”. Simply click on “Post Name” to change this. You’d want to make this change as this will improve your SEO – your keywords will be on the address rather than having random letters and numbers.
You also want to install some plugins, and you can read about my top 5 favorite plugins here.
plan your content
After all, you went through all this work to start a blog, right? Now, let’s talk about how to actually blog. Where do you get started?
The first and foremost thing you should plan is how your categories and tags are going to work. Not only are they a great tool to organize and categorize your posts, but it also gives you an idea of which topics you’re going to focus on.
You want to stick to at most five major categories for your blog. For example, I have four major categories which are Blogging, Entrepreneur, Lifestyle, and Travel. All of my blog posts can be categorized within these topics – have you seen me post anything about food or recipes? Nope.
Tags are the little children of categories. They’re technically the sub-categories in which you would want to get detailed in. For example, if you’re a travel blogger, I recommend having countries & continents as the major categories and cities or states as tags.
After you’ve gotten your categories and tags settled in, focus on creating quality content. Take your time and and think what you can do to produce the best looking and informative post possible. I have a post you can take a look at here where I explain how you could create content like a boss!
I think the most important aspect in blogging is taking action. As someone categorized with a “gold” personality, I love planning and being organized. But for blogging, I let that part of myself get a little lost and just start things. Sometimes, it brings bad results. I’ve experienced failure and I’ve seen the consequences. But if you don’t take that risk, you’ll never get anywhere.
All this information you’re taking in by researching online is almost unbearable. However, by taking that first step and slowly figuring things out, you’ll see all the information fit into place. Trial and error – that’s the basis of blogging. If you don’t try, how will you know what works and what doesn’t?
Once you get your blog established, I definitely recommend reading this post as well. I’ve come up with a list of mistakes that I see lots of new bloggers make. Hopefully by reading it, you’ll realize that you don’t have to start off perfectly. Blogging is all about making improvements, and that’s what you should be doing.