If you have been on the fence about starting a blog, this guide will get you off the fence an ready to take action. Starting my blog and Youtube channel was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have grown so much as a person and as a creative. And I have had to opportunity to directly impact the lives of tens of thousands of people and have reached nearly 1,500,000 eyes and ears. That is just unbelievable!
I've put together this easy to follow guide to help you create a blog of your own from scratch. These are the exact same steps that I followed to create One Big Happy Life on Site Ground, the hosting provider that we use and love.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO BLOG ABOUT
The first step in starting a blog is to decide what you want to blog about. This is also known as finding your niche. Here at One Big Happy Life, I write about money and finding balance for busy families. The articles here range from DIY projects to family travel because there are a whole host of things that modern families have to manage. I know because I'm a modern working mom working through those same issues!
As you think about what you want your blog to be about, you should keep three considerations in mind. First, what topics do you love to write about? You are going to be spending a lot of time writing content for your blog so you want to make sure that whatever topic you choose is one that you can see yourself writing about for years to come. Second, your topic should play to your strengths. But that doesn't mean you have to be an expert on the topic already. It's perfectly okay to start out blogging about your journey while you are on it. Third, you want to make sure that your blog can help your readers. Your readers are looking for solutions to the issues that they are facing in their lives.
STEP 2: CHOOSE A NAME FOR YOUR WEBSITE
Now that you know what your blog is going to be about, you need to decide what you want to name it. Your blog name should be simple, easy to remember, and easy to spell. You could also include keywords in your blog title that give potential readers some idea about what your blog is about. For example, personal finance blogs tend to have some sort of money related word in it. Just like many blogs focused on motherhood have “mom” in the title. You can also use your own name as your website name or you can use a name that is catchy and memorable like “witanddelight.com.”
The other important thing to keep in mind when you are choosing a name is to make sure that that domain name isn't already being used by someone else. The next step few steps are all about the more technical side of blogging. Take your time with this step and try to find a name that you love and will want to stick with.
STEP 3: SET UP YOUR DOMAIN AND HOSTING
We use Siteground for our hosting and highly recommend them (having tried another popular hosting service that was a nightmare to deal with). When we joined Siteground, we already had our domain name (the web address of the wesbite). Siteground moved our website over to their hosting for free. Their customer service is topnotch which was a breath of fresh air compared to our previous hosting company. They provide free technical support via chat, phone, or email on a variety of issues and have a comprehensive help database.
It's incredibly easy to set up your new website and hosting all in one shot with Siteground. Click the get started button under your chosen hosting plan. I started with the GrowBig plan because I liked the idea of being able to have multiple websites. On the next screen, type in the domain name you want to buy (or click “I already have a domain” and type in the name of a domain you already own). After you enter your payment details and finish the checkout process, you will get several confirmation emails. These emails will include the information that you will need to log on to your website for the first time.
And remember, if you have any questions during this process, don't hesitate to reach out to Siteground's support people for help. That's what they are there for!
STEP 4: INSTALL WORDPRESS ON YOUR SITE
Your domain name is the address the people use to find your website. Buying the domain is like buying empty land that's ready to be built on. If your domain is the raw land, then WordPress is the foundation and framing of your house/website. Siteground has a WordPress installation wizard that makes installing WordPress a breeze. But, insider tip, when I messaged them as a brand new blogger to ask for help, they just did it for me at no cost! Yet another reason why I love Siteground.
STEP 5: CHOOSE A THEME AND INSTALL A FEW HELPFUL PLUG-INS
Now it's time to log on to your website and start making it pretty. You can get to the dashboard (behind the scenes area) of your website by going to http://YourWebsite.com/wp-admin except replace “YourWebsite” with your actual domain name. Then sign in using the username and password that you set for your site when you (or Siteground) installed WordPress.
Once you get into the dashboard, the next then you will want to do is install a new theme for your blog as well as a few useful plugins. The theme and plug-ns are what makes your blog actually look pretty and able to do all of the things that websites do. I recommend starting with a free theme in the beginning until you get a better idea of what you ultimately want your blog to look like. Two simple and beautiful ones are Kale Lite and Foodie Pro Lite.
When you do decide to purchase a theme, I highly recommend the Genesis Framework and then finding a child theme that you love. Think of Genesis as your mattress and the child theme as your bedding. I avoided Genesis for years because I didn't want to spend the extra money. I bit the bullet and tried it last year and LOVE it. My current child theme is from Restored 316 Designs but I have also used and loved themes from Pretty Darned Cute Designs. Both have excellent customer service.
Here is a list of a few basic (and free) plug-ins t hat you should install:
- Askimet – Blocks spam comments.
- Yoast SEO – Helps improve your posts so that it's easier for people to find you in Google search.
- W3 Super Cache – Helps your website run faster.
- Pretty Link Lite – Let's you create custom links using your domain name.
- Pinterest Pin It Button – Makes it easy for people to pin your posts on Pinterest. Trust me, your blog will thank you for this one.
STEP 6: WRITE YOUR FIRST FEW BLOG POSTS
This was the hardest part for me. I love to write but actually putting my thoughts out there for all of the world to see was so hard for me. That's why I ended up starting a Youtube channel instead first. After a few months on Youtube, my confidence grew and I finally decided to launch the One Big Happy Life website. I want to help you get a jump start on this whole blogging thing, so here are a few ideas for blog posts to help you get started.
- Write an about you page where you share what your website is about, why you are passionate about the topic, and the value you hope to bring to your reader's lives.
- Write one post about each category your blog covers. For OBH Life, I wrote a few finance posts, a travel post, and a general life post (the one about wanting a lake house).
- A post about the Absolute Beginner's Guide to X. This will be an excellent resource for someone that is brand new to your topic.
- A list of your favorite things. I could be other bloggers in your niche or items that you use in your daily life.
STEP 7: LAUNCH AND GROW YOUR BLOG
Your blog is now up and running but this is just the beginning of your blogging journey. One of the things you will discover is that there is always something new to learn. Check out the resource page for more of our favorite blogging tools.