You’ve decided it’s time to start your blog. Whether it’s simply for your own pleasure, to share knowledge, or to boost your freelance business, blogging can be very rewarding. It also comes with challenges. Like everything else in life, obstacles are opportunities with solutions. The 5 things you need to start your blog right now will show you how easy it is to have your own blog.
1. Choose a domain name
The first step is to choose a domain name – in other words a web address for your blog. If you are unfamiliar with the process, a domain name is what you enter in a browser to access website; for example myblog.com or mybeautifulblog.com or yourname.com.
This is a two-step process. It involves choosing a domain name that is suitable for your blog and then making sure the domain you have chosen is available.
- Choosing your domain name. This is an important step and you should really take the time to come up with the best domain name for the type of blog you want to have. Although you are not bound to any rule in particular, it is best to have a name that is easy for your visitors to remember. Brand recognition can make a difference later. For more details, refer to this article How to come up with a killer domain name for your blog.
- Checking the availability of the name. Once you have selected a name, it is necessary to make sure it is available and not already in use. Open a browser window and enter whois.domaintools.com. In the Whois Lookup box, enter your domain, for example myfoodblog.com and do a search. If the domain you have chosen is available, then you’ll be able to register it with a hosting company. If it’s not available then modify your choice until you find one that is available.
2. Select a hosting company and a plan
Once you have selected a domain name, it’s time to choose a hosting company and plan. This is where you register your domain name and set up your blog.
This is an important step. There are plenty of hosting companies that are eager to have your business, but they are not all the same. Even though they all advertise their best features (cheapest, most secure, voted best by xyz, etc.) it can be difficult for a novice to screen them. For more details, refer to this article How to choose a hosting company and plan that is right for you .
To make it simple, it is best to choose one that is recommended by WordPress.org. There are 4 hosting companies listed and personally I only have good things to say about Siteground. I’ve used them for years and do not look anywhere else when I register a blog or a website for a client. Their basic web hosting startup package is the perfect plan to get started.
Signup and register the domain name you have chosen. During the registration process you might be presented with the possibility of setting up your WordPress site: you can do it at that time or skip it and continue. It can be done afterwards.
3. Install WordPress
In step 3, we are going to install the web software WordPress. It is the most popular software for bloggers. This part can be intimidating to beginners but I reassure you, it is easy and straightforward. For more details, refer to this article An easy way to install WordPress.
In your account area, which differs from one hosting company to another, look for the various tabs. Find one that is labeled cPanel or one that has a submenu labeled cPanel. Once you are in the cPanel area, follow the directions below from the article An easy way to install WordPress:
The following steps will guide you through the installation process with Siteground as your hosting company. Others will probably be slightly different, but similar.
- Login to your user interface, click on My Accounts and then click on cPanel to access your control panel.
- Look for the menu AUTOINSTALLERS and click on the WordPress icon.
- You will be presented with a navigation bar, click on Install.
- Software Setup
- Choose a protocol: usually http://www or http://
- Choose Domain: your domain name should already be selected
- In Directory: leave empty
- Site settings: leave them as is, you will modify them later from your WordPress dashboard.
- Admin Account
- Admin Username: choose one that is not too generic and write it down. Note that you will not be able to change it later.
- Admin Password: choose a password that is strong enough and write it down.
- Admin Email: enter your email address.
- Select Plugins: leave unchecked
- Choose Theme: select None
- Advance Options: write down the name of the Database Name
- Finally click Install
You will then be presented with your credentials: your blog URL as well as your admin URL which for WordPress is always your domain name followed by /wp-admin. For example, if your domain name is mywonderfulblog.com you will access your WordPress blog admin (also called the Dashboard) at mywonderfulblog.com/wp-admin.
4. Create a menu structure
Basic structure and content is all you need to begin constructing your blog. A simple three-point menu is sufficient:
- Home (for your home page)
- About (for a presentation of who you are and your blog)
- One or two categories (for your articles, also called posts)
Creating your menu
- Login to your WordPress dashboard by entering your domain name followed by wp-admin; for example mybeautifulblog.com/wp-admin.
- In the left menu select SETTINGS GENERAL and make adjustments if needed.
- Under SETTINGS PERMALINKS, I suggest you choose POST NAME and save.
- Under the tab APPEARANCE THEMES, Twenty Sixteen is already selected. You can change to Twenty fifteen or Twenty fourteen if you’d like a different look and feel.
- Under the tab PAGES, delete the Sample Page. Create a page by selecting ADD NEW, call it ABOUT and click PUBLISH.
- Under the tab POSTS, CATEGORIES, add categories as needed, for example Money tips, and Savings for a blog about money.
Note: The difference between PAGES and POSTS.
Pages are stand alone pages with content that usually don’t fall within a category or group, for example ABOUT US, CONTACT, DISCLAIMER, etc.
Posts are articles that you write on a regular basis. They can be published in a specific category if you have one, or they will be added to your blog. For example, 5 tips to save for the holiday is a post and will be assigned to the category Savings.
- Under APPEARANCE MENU, create a menu and name it MAIN MENU.
- You will see the following menu tabs to the left: Pages, Posts, Custom Links, Categories.
- Under Pages, select VIEW ALL, check HOME and ABOUT and click ADD TO MENU.
- Under Categories, select VIEW ALL, check the categories you’ve selected, for example Money tips and Savings and click ADD TO MENU
- Click on SAVE MENU.
- In the upper left side, you will find a tab called MANAGE LOCATIONS. Select it and under PRIMARY MENU select the menu you’ve created called MAIN MENU and click on SAVE CHANGES.
- Under the dashboard tab on the left called POSTS , create a couple of posts and assign them to one of the categories you’ve created.
- Under PAGES, open the ABOUT page you’ve created and add content.
- On the top left corner of your dashboard, you should see the name of your blog. When you click on it, it will open the front end and you should see your menu, and your content.
You are now ready to start creating and adding content to your blog. All your posts (articles) will be added as new posts and if you have created categories, you will assign them to a category.
Review. 5 easy steps to start your own blog right now
- Choose a domain name
- Select a hosting company and a plan
- Install WordPress
- Set up your menu structure
- Create content
A final word on the 5 things you need to start your blog right now
We’ve covered the basic steps to allow you to get started and share your content today. After you publish your first posts, you’ll be ready for the next phase, which is customizing your blog to make it look nice for your audience. Keep in mind that it is all about your visitors’ experiences.
The next phase will include choosing a template that you like and that is appropriate to the type of content you write about. Other tasks include choosing and inserting great images, adding a contact page with a contact form, protecting your work with security plugins, to name just a few.
But for now, congratulations on setting up your blog. Enjoy writing wonderful content.
Please leave a comment and share your experience.