I’ve had a few emails recently, a couple from friends and a couple from people who read my blog, asking me how to start their own. I know full well that if I didn’t have a partner who develops websites for a living, there is no way in hell that I would have had the first notion of what to do and how to get started.
I would like to use today’s post to briefly outline how to get started for those that have asked me. However, I really can’t go into a huge amount of detail for the very simple reason that Jules did so much of it for me. Luckily, over at Blogtacular there is a weekly series that is currently being published so you should definitely check that out for more in depth information and insight.
What I can tell you is what I have done and where my blog is hosted, as well as a little push to get started, which I will give you at the end of the post because starting a blog is without doubt one of the best things I have done in my life as it has enabled me to realise dreams I didn’t even know I had.
1. Buy a WordPress hosting package
My blog uses the WordPress platform, which I am really happy with. It is one of the most widely used and therefore the most widely supported platform and because it is open source it is constantly being updated and secured. You need to pay for some hosting that will support a WordPress blog (basically a server that sits on the internet so that anyone who searches for your blog can see it). I bought some hosting from 123-reg and it costs about £129 per annum.
2. Buy a domain name
During the process of buying some hosting, you will be asked for your domain name (the address of your blog) on 123-reg. There will be a search tool so you can figure out whether the names that you have come up with are available to buy. I chose my blog name partly because it is difficult to spell and say, which hopefully makes people think about it more – the more generic, the more easily forgotten. When you have found a name that is still available you will need to buy it (mine costs about £11 per year).
3. Choose a theme
When you have bought the hosting and the domain name you will need a blog theme, which will structure the layout of your blog and the way it will look. Go to WordPress and search the free themes and try to choose one that best fits your needs and your style (mine is called Troy). Lots of the themes aren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing and I’ve been hankering after a new theme for a while and I know there are lots of beautiful ones over on Blogzilla, which cost between £30-£40. Check out A Quiet Style and Lapin Blu to see these themes in action. Just remember, you can change your theme once your blog is established, so don’t be afraid that you have to commit to one for life.
4. Create a header
Once your blog is all set up you will need a header with the name of your blog. This can be text, a logo, an illustration – it’s totally up to you.
5. Set up social media
If you want as many people as possible to read your blog, you will need to set up any or all of the following: a Facebook page, Pinterest account, Instagram account, Twitter feed. You can advertise your most recent blog posts through these channels. You can also sign up to Bloglovin’ which will display your latest blog posts for your followers. Another good idea is to have an email subscription button on your blog, which you can get through the WordPress plugins page.
These are the barest bones for starting a blog and exactly what I did. There are loads of tips and guidance for how to do each step e.g. how to choose the best name, how to design the most effective header, how to use social media to its potential. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I would say don’t get too hung up over the finer details; get a basic blog up and running, focus 100% on creating great content and the rest will follow. There is so much to learn and I think it’s best learnt along the way otherwise you will never get started. I tried to make my blog look perfect for six months before I could publish anything (“but what will people think if it’s not as good as Design Sponge?” Ha!). Obviously, I failed dismally and all I achieved was wasted time. Jump in at the deep end, figure it out as you go along and learn organically. For me, that is what makes a blog authentic and makes the learning process so much more enjoyable. It’s also exciting to discover your style through the process and there’s no way you can have a really clear concept of that before you begin, in my opinion.
Nearly two years down the line and there are still hundreds of things I want to change about my blog from the ‘Follow Me’ buttons to the ‘Categories’ to the lack of an ‘About Me’ page but I always try to remind myself that progress is a lot more important than the quest for perfection, which doesn’t exist anyway.
If you would like any more specific information about the five steps above, leave a comment below and I will try my best to help (or in other words I will ask Jules ;)). Otherwise, do follow the Blogtacular Starting a Blog in Five Minutes series as it is really clear, thorough and provides loads of invaluable insight.