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Hoping to start a blog and looking for clear, succinct step by step instructions on how to do so? This guide will take you through starting a blog from scratch.
I am assuming you have already decided on a unique brand name that makes sense for your niche and is easy to understand. If not, scroll to the bottom of this post to read my advice on choosing a name and the importance of branding.
The first thing you need to start your website is a host.
This is what keeps your site up and running, kind of like renting space on the internet.
I have previously used Bluehost and Siteground however after Bluehost brought down one of my sites for a week, and the issue was only resolved after I moved to host to Cloudways, I can no longer recommend them as a host to new bloggers.
The majority of tech specialists, which I am not one of, by the way, I’m just a blogger like you, agree that Siteground is not a recommended host anymore.
Once you’ve decided on which host to use and what level of package to go for you need to buy a domain.
Namecheap – Buy Your Domain
A domain is your address on the internet.
It’s how readers find your homepage, website pages and blog posts.
It is also known as the URL. For example twoscotsabroad.com.
For domains, I use Namecheap as I like to keep my domain and host separate.
However, some site owners also purchase their domain from hosts. It’s your choice.
How To Use Namecheap
- Brainstorm brand name ideas
- Use the Namecheap search function to check availability of the .com domain
- Create an account, sign in and purchase
- I also recommend buying the .co.uk etc version of your domain to stop competitors stepping on your grass
- Namecheap will send an email asking you to confirm your purchase
Now that you have your .com domain, it’s time to buy hosting.
- Go to your host of choice
- Choose the level of hosting
- Sign up and purchase
- Keep a record of your password as you need this to get into your account in the next step
- Make sure you use the correct email address
Point Namecheap Domain to Hosting
Now you have a host which will keep your website online and a domain (Namecheap) which people can use to find your website.
However, both a separate so you need to migrate them.
- Sign in to your Namecheap account
- Go to Domain List
- Select the .com and hit the manage button
- Look for ‘nameservers’
- Choose ‘Custom DNS’
- Sign in to your hosting account
- Go to Domains (or equivalent) and select the manage button
- Copy nameserver 1 into Namecheap
- Copy nameserver 2 into Namecheap
- Click the green tick in Namecheap
- A note will say it can take up to 48 hours for the nameservers to point to hosting however it tends to take around 12 hours in my experience
- You may see a ‘website coming soon’ page when the process has finished
WordPress Themes and Plugins
Now that the tricky tech-related stuff is done you can crack on with the fun design process.
I use Wordpress to post pages, posts and manage plugins.
I recommend the premium theme Flatsome which can be found at Envato Marketplace for the design for websites.
It has an easy to use but lightweight page builder which is like building blocks.
You can start up WordPress by logging into your hosting account and selecting WordPress.
Adding a Theme
Once you’ve purchased Flatsome, you have to download the file and then upload the parent and child theme to WordPress.
You do this in the theme section in Appearance on the left-hand side menu.
Then you activate Flatsome and start building using the child theme. Just remember to avoid hitting publish until you are ready to launch.
Your host may recommend a handful of plugins that you can keep or deactivate and delete if you wish.
I recommend avoiding Jetpack as it is heavy.
It’s the first plugin site owners are told to lose during site speed evaluations and consultations.
Plugins change in reliability depending on how often they are updated.
Here are a few that are currently in use:
- Yoast or SEO Framework for SEO structure support
- Antispam Bee to separate spam comments from genuine comments on posts
- Classic Editor for WordPress if you don’t want to learn how to use Gutenberg
- GA Google Analytics where you can add you UA code and track page views etc
- Table of Contents Plus if you want a TOC on posts
The key to plugins is to use a little as possible and to avoid any that are not looked after/updated as those vulnerabilities can cause hacking attacks.
Ready To Launch
Once you are happy with the way the website looks and you have a couple of posts to promote you can launch the website.
You may see a bright flag at the top of WordPress which says ‘coming soon’.
Click that and launch! Congratulations.
Getting Started – Branding
1. What Do You Want to Write About?
The more niche the topic, the easier it will be to compete in the sea of other content creators.
I’ve realised this the hard way.
In this era of blogging, you can’t survive without a niche.
Having a niche helps you target an audience on social media better, create a community via Facebook groups/podcasts/YouTube, shows Google you are an authority on a topic and makes sense for email marketing.
Why have a general audience of 1000 where one might read a guide or buy a product when you can have an audience of 50 of trust your every recommendation?
It also makes pitching companies via email, networking and at events more effective.
2. Create a Name
Avoid overused words.
For example in travel – Wanderlust, Adventure, Nomad.
Avoid controversial words.
For example in travel – Tribe, Gypsy.
Avoid nicknames and the obscure.
You want to be memorable but you don’t want your potential audience to struggle with your brand name.
Use a world cloud like the wonderful The World Pursuit did (isn’t that name just dreamy?)
You now need to ensure that your name is available as a domain.
Next step is to secure the social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest.
Google your potential name. Is it clear or are you competing with a well-known brand, product or service?
3. Colours and Logos
Next is the fun part.
Consider what colours make sense for your brand.
Use this in your profile image, as your hyperlink hover colour on your website, for callout boxes on posts, feature it in your newsletter etc.
For your logo, you want to ensure it stands out and looks clear in a small circle for social media profile images.
Test it out Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin.
Add it to your email signature, Gmail profile and about us page/widget in the sidebar.
Other Relevant Content
So now you have a website and brand you will want to develop your skills.
Every successful blogger will say they wish they learned Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO) and implemented from the start.
You can sign up for a series of free SEO lessons with Make Traffic Happen here, join our free Facebook group for traffic and business support, read free resources on our site and/or purchase our guide, SEO The Easy Way here.