If you read my post prior to this, one of the things I suggested that you do during this quarantine period is to start a blog. But before I proceed with the steps on how to start a blog, let me be clear that I’m not gonna teach you how to make money blogging. At this moment, I’m not making much from my blog yet so I think I’m not the right person to discuss that topic. But I have been blogging for about three years now so I have enough knowledge on how to start a blog.
Why Start a Blog?
Because you are super bored. Just kidding! There are actually many good reasons why you should start one. First, it gives you a creative outlet. If you love writing, you can keep an online space of your writing through a blog. Also, if you’re trying to get into freelance writing, your blog can serve as your portfolio. Second, you’ll learn technical skills while blogging. Editing a picture, SEO writing and basic coding are some of the things you learn when you start blogging.
Depending on the topic of your blog, you can actually help others with it. One of the reasons I started my blog is to help my friends plan their trips. Instead of composing long messages when they ask me about a certain destination, I just give them the link to my post and they’ll get the details there. Also, you get to influence/inspire others through your blog. I didn’t know about this until some people who have come across my blog sent me private messages telling me that I gave them the courage/inspired them to travel solo.
Another reason why you should start a blog is that there is a potential financial gain. There are a lot of people out there who make a living through their blogs. But to be able to do this, you need to put in a lot of effort and you must have a passion for blogging. A lot of people nowadays start a blog thinking that you’ll make money right away. The truth is it doesn’t work that way. You need to put a lot of hard work to get there. But even if you have just started, when you know how to monetize your blog, you can start earning through affiliate marketing and paid ads.
Social Media vs Professional Blog
From the reasons I have stated above on why you should start a blog, you might say that you can do those through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. And you are right. But you don’t have control over it. What if your social media account gets hacked or Facebook or Instagram suddenly closes down, just like what happened to Multiply? You will lose all your followers and your work.
With a self-hosted blog (professional blog), you have full control over it, do whatever you want. You have complete control over your work and how you communicate with your followers. And it is the place where money-making action happens.
Free Blog vs. Self-hosted Blog
This post is all about the self-hosted blog but I will discuss briefly its difference with a free blog. Free blog, as the name implies is a blog made from a free blogging platform like WordPress.com or Blogger.com. It is completely free if you want it to be. This is best for people who want to do blogging as a hobby. It is not as professional looking as the self-hosted blog, and unless you pay for your domain, you’ll have the WordPress or Blogger domain tacked onto yours, such as www.example.wordpress.com. Also, you have less control over your blog (such as your blog design), you have a limited amount of bandwidth, video time and memory space and you have limited advertising options. If your goal in having a blog is to later on make money from it, then I advise having a self-hosted blog.
With a self-hosted blog, you have full control over your blog. You can do whatever you want to do on its layout, you can perform more functions and it looks more professional. With a self-hosted blog, you need to pay for your domain name and third party host (more on this on later).
If you’re not sure yet if you want to do blogging professionally in the future, you can start with a free blog. When the time comes that you want to take blogging to the next level, you can always switch to a self-hosted blog.
Step-by-step Guide on How to Start a Professional Blog
1. Choose a niche and think of a blog name.
One of the most important things you need to do when you start a blog is to choose a niche. You need to decide what you want to blog about and what you want to focus on. Choosing a niche is important because there are already a lot of bloggers out there. You need to be more specific to stand out from other bloggers. After choosing a niche, your next step is to think of a blog name.
When I started my blog, I didn’t do any research prior. I bought a domain and hosting because it was very cheap. I didn’t put much thought into the name. And that mistake cost me some money. I don’t want you to have the same mistake so I’m gonna share with you tips on how to come up with a good blog name.
First, the name should be related to your niche. Next, it should be catchy, easy to remember. Also, avoid cliches. If for example, you are planning to create a travel blog, you might be tempted to include “Wandering”, “Nomadic”, “Adventures of” in your name. But these are very common already. Think of something unique and at the same time something that resonates with you and your personality.
My blog name when I started was (Mis)Adventures of Tina and my domain name was www.adventuresoftina.com. Then a few days after that I changed my domain name to www.projectemployeeforever.com because I thought that adventuresoftina is cliche. While the domain name was funny for me and my officemates back then, other people couldn’t relate to it. There isn’t anything on the domain name that says it is a travel blog. I used that name only because I was pissed with our HR back then. But after a few months, I started to spend more time working on my blog. I wanted my blog to sound professional so I thought really hard of a better name. And then one day, it just came. I Went Anyways. It’s something that describes my travel experiences, it is easy to remember and it is not cliche.
2. Set Up Your Domain and Hosting
When you have already come up with a blog name, the next thing you need to do is to set up your hosting and domain. But what is a hosting and what is a domain? A web host is basically a space on the world wide web that you buy to store all the data of your blog. A domain name, on the other hand, is your website/blog’s address. It is what people type on the URL of their browser so they can access your site. A web host is the house of your blog, and the domain is the address.
For hosting, I highly recommend SiteGround. I have been using it for more than 3 years and so far I have no complaints. It was recommended by one of the bloggers I follow so when I decided to take blogging to the next level, I switched to SiteGround. Prior to SiteGround, I was using GoDaddy. They are cheaper but I was getting Spam comments on my posts when I was with them. When I moved to SiteGround, I asked assistance from their support team and they helped me move everything. Every time I encounter a problem with my blog, I contact their technical support. They are very helpful every time.
SiteGround has three plans:
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves a WordPress and Joomla website speed
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration
After choosing a plan, the next step is to choose a domain. You can choose to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain if you already have one. Keep in mind that your domain name should be the same as your blog name. For example, my blog name is I Went Anyways and my domain name is https://iwentanyways.com.
After choosing a domain, you will be asked to review the details of your order and pay. Although the price of the plans is on a monthly rate, you will be charged for a one-year subscription.
After paying, you will receive an email from SiteGround with your login information to the customer area. Also included in the email are links to some of the tutorials that are very useful in setting up a blog.
3. Install a Blogging Platform
After logging in to the customer area, the next step is to install a blogging platform. A blogging platform or CMS (content management system) is a software or service that you use to publish your content in the form of a blog. There are many to choose from such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal but the most popular and most used is WordPress. It is also what I use for my blog. If you use SiteGround as your host, you can ask them to install WordPress for you. Just contact SiteGround support by going to the Support tab. In the lowermost part, you will see Request Assistance from Our Team. Just click on the link to start a chat with the support team.
After your WordPress has been installed, go to the My Accounts tab of the customer area and click on Go to Admin Panel. WordPress will open. You can now start creating posts and designing your blog.
4. Install Themes and Plugins and Design Your Blog
Themes are ready-made layouts for WordPress to design your blog. The themes offer live preview so you can see how your blog is going to look like. There are plenty of free WordPress themes to choose from. Designing your blog is a bit complicated at first but you’ll figure it out.
Plugins are apps containing functions that can be added on a WordPress website. These are apps that you can use if you want to do a certain function, such as adding a table of contents on your post, even if you have zero knowledge about coding.
5. Start Publishing
Now that you have finished designing your blog, it’s time to start publishing your works!
- Setting up a blog entails a lot of work. Now is a good time to start while we are stuck on quarantine.
- While setting-up, you will come across a lot of things. It may overwhelm you but be patient. There are a lot of resources on the internet that you could check out to help you on your journey. Google will be your best friend.
- Learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so you will learn how to rank on Google.
So that’s it for the guide. I hope you find it useful. Start your blog now while you still have a lot of time to set it up and watch tutorials. And if you like my writing, consider donating to my cheesecake fund. It takes a lot of time to come up with something meaningful to write- a slice of cheesecake really helps and it’s up to you what the cheesecake is worth.