Building a blog is one of the best things you can do for your online business.
At the very least it can act as a hub for all you have to offer, but it can be so much more than that. A blog is a great way for you to provide consistent content to your audience and to start establishing yourself as an expert.
A bonus of having a blog rather than just say a Facebook group is that you are able to rank in Google using SEO. So that is a whole other audience you have the ability to get in front of.
In case you need more reasons, here are 10 reasons you should start a blog.
But starting a blog can sure be overwhelming.
You have so many options: Blogger, WordPress hosted, WordPress self-hosted, Weebly, Wix and even Squarespace. And then if you go the self-hosted route (which I FULLY recommend) then you need to find a host.
It is just one decision after another and probably a whole lot of seconding guessing if you are even making the right decision.
But that is why I am writing this post for you. To show you how to start a blog in 2017 the right way!
And after you read this post, you will be able to start a blog with confidence!
1. Pick Your Niche
Let’s get real for a second.
If you are going to start a blog and invest money in it such as a domain name, hosting, etc. then you might as well treat it seriously from the start. Blogging can turn into your full time job so you might as well treat it like one!
A niche makes it easy on you because you will have set topics to write about and you will be able to attract a more targeted audience.
A niche makes marketing easy because you become a specialist and are able to learn your target audience inside and out (because you actually have one!)
If you are like me, you might be thinking “but I have so many ideas that I love, how will I even niche down?”
Here are a few questions to think about when picking your niche:
- What are the things you enjoy to do and that bring light to your life?
- What are you knowledgeable about?
- What do you love to give advice on?
- Can you monetize it?
- If the blog is to go with an existing business, what is your business about?
If you want to go more in-depth, read Why You Should Choose a Niche and How To Do So.
2. Choose a Blogging Platform
I get asked this question almost every single day, “I am going to start a blog, what platform should I chose?”
There are so many different opinions out there.
I am personally on the self-hosted WordPress train.
So what does that mean?
Basically it means that you use the WordPress.org platform (it is open source software) and you purchase your own hosting package. That means that you will “rent” access to a server that runs your blog.
If you chose a site like Blogger, Squarespace or even WordPress.com you are having them host your blog.
When you go the self-hosted WordPress route, you will have more flexibility with customizations and are open to all sorts of monetization options.
So take my advice and chose a self-hosted WordPress site for your blog.
3. Choose a Domain Name
The fun part starts NOW!
Naming your blog is one of the the most exciting part of the process but can also be super nerve wracking!
Here is the honest to goodness truth.
You can always buy a new domain and rename/rebrand your site. BUT that takes a lot of work (and extra money) to do it properly, so picking the right name from the start is the best option!
Your domain name will be your URL. It is your digital or web address. It is how people will find your site online.
Once you *think* you have your name all picked out, I suggest going to KnowEm. This is a site that will let you know if the domain name is available as well as the social media handles!
Reserving your social media handles is a very important part of starting a blog. You might not use all of them right away, but I would definitely jump on them if they are available.Nothing is worse than purchasing a domain and finding the social media handles are not available! Click To Tweet
Want to learn more about creating a cohesive social media presence, check out The 7 Secrets to a Cohesive Social Media Presence.
Once you find a domain name that is good to go, head over to NameCheap to purchase your domain name!
I recommend purchasing your hosting and domain names separately. This is because if you ever want to change hosting providers, you don’t have to pay to move over each domain name since it is with a separate company anyways! Learn from my mistake! When I transferred from Bluehost, I had to pay around $14 per domain to transfer each domain over.
4. Choose a Hosting Provider
Just like blogging platforms, there are a TON of hosting providers to choose from.
But I want to start with a word of caution.
STAY AWAY FROM ANY EIG HOST
You are probably wondering what the heck that is.
So many big time bloggers recommend a hosting provider called Bluehost (in fact I used to too) or even HostGator.
These companies along with a long list that can be found here, are owned by EIG. Basically they are a company that buys hosting providers. And once they do the service and uptime tend to go down the drain.
Now it would not be realistic for me to tell you that every single person who has ever used Bluehost or one of the other hosting providers have a had bad experience, but I can speak from a personal one.
Last year, in June 2016, I was still recommending Bluehost. They were having issues here and there and I was not being affected. That did not last long.
My site started to go down. It started with a few minutes here and a few minutes there and increased to over an hour at a time. When I brought it up to their attention they told me that the plugin I was using to let me know of downtime was wrong.
I took their word for it as the times the site was down I was fast asleep! Until it started going down while I was awake. When that happened, I contacted them again. I was being told it was up when it wasn’t and then blame was being put on me when I had done nothing to my site in days.
So if you want to take a risk and go with Bluehost then go for it, but I am here to tell you that there is a better option!
Why Siteground is the Best Hosting Provider for When You Start a Blog
- Handcrafted Solutions for 99.99% Uptime
- Always the Hottest Speed Technologies such as SuperCacher
- 24/7 Insanely Fast Support with A Heart // seriously though this is one of the reasons I love Siteground. Their customer service team is incredible and I am speaking to a real person within minutes, if not seconds.
5. Sign Up with Siteground
Do I have you convinced on just how amazing Siteground is?
I thought so.
There are three different plans to choose from. If you are a new Siteground customer, then you get a huge discount on your plan.
Let’s break them down.
The StartUp plan is perfect if you have one website that you are starting now. Take note of the approximate monthly visits though. If your blog takes off, that might not be enough.
The GrowBig plan is what I personally recommend even if you only have one website, it includes the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves speed of your WordPress website.
The GoGeek plan is perfect if you have an e-commerce or larger site, or if you just need more geeky development features like staging and GIT integration.
Once you decide on a plan, click Get Started!
You will be taken to a new screen.
Make sure the “Choose Service” is set to “Get a new hosting account.”
If you purchased a domain through NameCheap, the check the “I already have a Domain” and enter it there. If not, leave it as is and enter the domain name you would like. If it is already taken, they will let you know once you get to the pay stage.
The hosting plan you chose should be selected by default, but this is your chance to change your mind. So if you want to change to a smaller or larger plan, this is the time to do it.
The next section will be “Purchase Information.” It will once again state your plan, so verify it is correct. You don’t need to worry about the location, but pay attention to the “Period.”
You have the option to buy up to three years of hosting at a time.
Do you remember how I mentioned that as a new Siteground customer you get a big discount on hosting? Well after your initial hosting period renews, it will be back at the regular price. (This is common for every hosting company I have seen.) So I recommend getting as many years as you can afford at the time, as it charges you in one payment.
The benefit of choosing three years is that (1) you locked in the discounted price for three years and (2) you pay the three years upfront so you won’t have another hosting expense until it is time to renew or you need to upgrade your package!
The extra services are completely optional. I do recommend Domain Privacy because it protects your personal data if someone was trying to find the owner of your domain.
Once all of that is decided, it is time to pay!
CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a proud owner of a domain and hosting and are ready to officially start your blog!
6. Point Your Domain Name to Your Hosting Account
If you purchased your domain through Siteground, then you can skip this step. But if you bought it through NameCheap or a similar provider, you will need to tell it to point to your hosting account!
Sign into your SiteGround account. It should look similar to below, it might be blank since you don’t have any domains attached to it yet. Click the red “Go to cPanel” button.
You will see in the top left hand corner a section that says “Name Servers” this is the information you will need to bring over to NameCheap.
Now sign into your NameCheap account. It should by default show your domains.
Click “Manage.” You will see that “Nameservers” is set to Namecheap BasicDNS.
Click the drop down menu and choose “Custom DNS.”
This is where you will put the information you got from Siteground, enter the name servers in the order you got them and click the green checkmark to save.
Now go back to your Siteground cPanel and click “Addon Domains.”
You should see this screen:
Enter your domain name in the “New Domain Name” field. Do not include http://www, just the domain itself. It will give you a green checkbox if it is in the right format.
The subdomain and document root will auto populate.
Choose a password and click “Add Domain” and you should be good to go!
7. Install WordPress
Now that your domain is pointed to your new hosting account, it is time to install WordPress and really get the party started!
Go back to your cPanel Home and scroll down to Autoinstallers and click “WordPress.”
You should land on the page below and click “Install.”
If you purchased the GrowBig Plan or larger, then you received Wildcard SSL which means you will need to select https:// as the protocol. If not, then set the protocol to http://.
Choose the domain you want to install WordPress on, if you only have one domain then it should show up by default.
You can ignore “In Directory” and go straight to Site Name and Site Description. These can be changed later, so don’t stress too much.
This next part you need to pay attention to because you are setting your username and password.
Admin Username – Your username should be something strong such as your email or your name. It is how you will log into your site.
Admin Password – This is SUPER important. It needs to be strong!
Admin Email – This is where notifications will be sent to, so be sure to set it to an email you check frequently.
Choose a Theme – You do not need to choose a theme at this point. We will do that later once we get to the backend of WordPress.
Once this is done, click Install.
It will take a few minutes to install but once it is ready you can go to www.YOURDOMAINNAME.com/wp-admin and log in with your username and password.
Happy Dance! You just learned how to start a blog!
I am so proud of you! See that wasn’t as hard as it looks.
Be sure you download my free guide on how to install a theme plus the most important settings you should set BEFORE you do anything and a list of my MUST HAVE plugins!