You’re looking to start a blog, right? But where do you even start? From buying a domain, getting the right hosting, setting up plugins, using the correct theme, it can be a lot of overwhelming information to take it.
I get it. Just over a year ago, I was in the same position that you are in now. When I first started blogging, I assumed that blogging was going to be a piece of cake. I thought that my blog was going to “blow up” after just a few posts, and in a short amount of time, I would be one of the biggest bloggers on the internet.
Well, that didn’t happen.
In fact, my first few days of blogging were probably some of the most stressful days that I can remember. I wanted to get my blog up and running, but there was so much that had to be done that I had no idea how to do.
Imagine thinking that you are going to become an expert at golf after only swinging a club once in your life, or that you are going to magically wake up to a million dollars just sitting in your bank account. That’s what it was like for me. I was expecting to have instant success with something that I had never done before and had absolutely zero knowledge about.
Things have changed, though. And while I might now be the most successful blogger on the internet, I have learned a lot from my mistakes and am only progressing with each and every day. That’s what it’s about, right? No blog will ever be perfect, so just make it the best that you can, and make it something that you are proud to share.
A few things to know before the basics.
1. SEO is important, but it’s not the only solution. While you should still practice good SEO habits, Google isn’t the same as it used to be. There was a time that keyword-stuffing used to be an acceptable way to rank on Google, but now it’s more about how much your audience engages with your content. If you have an audience that engages with your content and actually stays on your blog, Google is then going to rank your blog higher than somebody who is just throwing keywords into their blog. So while you should still be practicing good SEO habits, know that engagement is just as equally as important.
2. Get your butt on Pinterest! Honestly, 80% of the traffic that comes to my blog comes from Pinterest. Pinterest is not a social media platform, it is a search engine just like Google, Bing, Yahoo, ect. The main difference is, it’s less saturated, which means that there is less competition compared to Google. Less competition means a better chance of ranking for related search results. Ranking higher for related search results, well that means that you are going to get a lot more traffic to your blog.
From there, it’s all about coming up with clever titles for your pins and accurate descriptions with a few keywords. Remember not to clickbait or spam on Pinterest, because they will see right through that and shut your account down.
3. Remember it’s about more than you.
Do I write for myself? Absolutely! I find writing to be very therapeutic and a good way to get emotions off of my chest. But I also write for others as well.
Look, many people (men especially) aren’t willing to admit their every flaw or weakness. While we still deal with emotions and problems in our lives, this whole “macho man mentality” makes it difficult to want to share our lives.
I want to change that. I have my problems and I know that I am not perfect. So while I do write to release my emotions, I also do so with the intention to inspire others to do the same. Nobody is perfect, and nobody needs to act like they are perfect. If I am willing to admit my flaws, then maybe that will help to resonate with somebody else who is in need of some encouragement.
I hope that makes sense.
4. Don’t get discouraged. Remember that everybody starts at zero and no matter how badly you want to be the next hotshot blogger on the internet, you still have to start from somewhere.
Maybe it takes you a month to gain views, maybe it takes you a year, or maybe it takes you longer. The key to blogging is to never give up because once you do, you will never know how much you truly could have achieved. As long as you stay with it and don’t give up, viewers will find their way to you.
Decide what you are going to blog about.
As much as I hate to say it, bloggers who are scattered across different niches have a difficult time gaining traction. Personally, I chose the “self-improvement” niche because it is something that I am constantly trying to improve, something that I know enough to write about, and something that I feel would be beneficial to others.
I recommend writing about something that you are passionate about. Perhaps it is yoga, golf, making money online, fashion, whatever niche it might be, you want the majority of your content to be relative to that niche. It sounds pretty obvious, but in the days of the internet and all of the “get rich quick” schemes, you would be surprised by how many people don’t write about something that they actually care about. Just know that readers will be able to see right through it.
Picking a domain name.
Obviously domain names aren’t my speciality as I just picked my name. One of my friends, Kelly, did a much better job with this. Her domain name is YourLifeLetTheHealingBegin.com. If you ask me, that’s a little more catchier than Michael-Bonnell.com.
Pick a name that you want your blog to be about. If you want your blog to be about you and your personal life, then put your name as your domain. If you want it to have a deeper meaning, come up with something that is more creative. Either way, there is no wrong or right answer, but just know that your domain is how people identify you on the internet with over 500 million different blogs. Try to come up with a name where you can look back on in five years from now and not cringe at.
I am normally a pretty frugal individual, but when it comes to self-hosting, this is a must. Yes, there are free blogging platforms out there like Blogger and WordPress.com. While it’s great to have a free blog, you are incredibly limited to what you can do. Your domain will include the platform you are using (for example: www.michael-bonnell.wordpress.com). If I chose the free version of WordPress, that is what my domain would have looked like.
Plus, for some reason, these platforms can claim your blog at any time and shut them down. All of your hard work would immediately go down the drain all because you didn’t choose to self-host your blog.
With a self-hosted blog, you have a lot more options. You can change your domain at any time, you can change themes, add plugins and widgets, and you have complete control over your blog (just as long as you keep paying for it).
As far as platforms go, I would recommend WordPress.org. You can also do Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, yeah, you get the idea. There are a lot of different options, but I believe WordPress.org is the easiest to navigate through, and there are endless amounts of helpful tutorials for any issue that you might come across.
If you decide to do a self-hosted blog, then you are going to need web hosting. Personally, I use SiteGround. Their pricing is great and their customer service is even better. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I have made with my blog. Once, I accidentally deleted everything. I contacted SiteGround customer support, and what is normally a $100 issue to fix was done for free. Since that day, I have never second-guessed my decision to go with SiteGround. Lastly, WordPress.org is included with SiteGround, so there is no additional fee to pay.
Here is what the SiteGround site looks like. Under the WordPress hosting, click “Get Started.” You will have the option to choose what plan you want. You can either choose “StartUp” or “GrowBig.” As a new blogger, I would not recommend going with the “GoGeek” option as there really is no need for that unless you plan on having many blogs. This option is generally meant for the bloggers who have several affiliate blogs.
Once you click the plan you want, you will come to a screen where you can either enter a domain in which you have previously purchased, or you can buy one through SiteGround for $15.95 per year. Enter your details, and make sure that you are entering the proper domain name. After entering your domain name or determining which one you want, all you have left to do is pay. The “StartUp” option only costs $3.95 per month for the first year, and the “GrowBig” option is only $5.95. Now, know that these prices go up after a year, but if you don’t see yourself blogging for more than a year, you do have the ability to cancel the service at any time.
Install WordPress through your SiteGround website. Once SiteGround takes you to the cPanel, all you have to do is click on the WordPress icon, and it is simply a one-click installation. For anybody out there that has gone on the WordPress website and tried to install it there, you will know how painful and confusing it was.
Bamn! Just like that, you now have a blog. Once you get to WordPress, you now get to choose a theme and start designing your custom blog. There are free themes on WordPress, but again, there is a limit as to how much you can customize before having to buy the “Pro” version.
I have a tendency to want to switch it up every so often, so if I come across a theme that I like, I will download it and see how it looks on my site.
WordPress does have a live preview button, so it allows you to actually see how your blog will look before actually activating it.
As far as paid themes go, I recommend starting out with a free version just to make sure that you are going to actually continue blogging before spending more money. Once you have committed to blogging, there are a lot of great sites out there that offer premium themes such as Theme Forest, Mojo Themes, and Creative Market to name a few.
Also, make sure that you actually look at the theme before buying it to make sure that it is not only compatible with WordPress, but also that it has all you need. I’m talking sidebar widgets, menu locations, the whole shebang.
Before Going Live
Go to your WordPress dashboard, and install the “Coming Soon” plugin. This is going to make it so people won’t actually be able to see your site as you work on it, and it allows you to be able to make changes without others watching you make these changes live. Trust me, building a blog can be very tedious. You are going to want to play for a bit before you actually active your blog, which is why you need to have a “Coming Soon” plugin.
Personalize Your Blog:
This is the part where you really get to have some fun and start personalizing your blog. You can change the colors, the font, the size of the text, where different blog posts are categorized. This is your blog. Create it to what appeals to you and be proud of your creation.
As for plugins, there are many that I would recommend downloading right away. I would recommend checking out WPBeginner.com for their list of 24 “Must Have” Plugins. These guys and gals are experts when it comes to WordPress and this list will definitely be beneficial to you. Also, remember that if you don’t like how a plugin operates on your blog, you have the ability to remove it at any time since it is your site and you are self-hosting it.
You did it. Now it is time to publish all of your hard work for the world to see and go live with your blog. This is your blog and the fact that you are even blogging is something to be proud of.
Sure, you may not gain the views that you want right away, but remember to keep working and never give up. As long as your content is heartful and insightful, the views will come. Remember that you are going to make mistakes, but it’s not about the mistakes that you make, rather, it’s what you learn from them.
I hope you found this tutorial insightful. In no way am I the most tech-savvy individual, so I tried my best to keep it as simple but as insightful as I possibly could. Thanks again for reading, and happy blogging!
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