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How to Start a Blog in 4 Easy Steps
You’re here because you’re thinking about starting a blog. And you want to know HOW to start a blog. Right?
How to Start a Blog
Step 1: Choose your host.
What’s a host? This is where your blog “lives” on the internet. Your files on your computer live on your hard drive for only you to access, but if you want to share them with the world, you’ll need a different system. When you create a website, you’ll be creating files on the company’s server, and the public files – your website – will be visible to the world.
So this is an important job, and you definitely want to choose a company you can trust. I’ve used several web hosts over the years (and y’all, it’s a pain to switch), but now I’m with A Small Orange, which I feel right at home with.
Their adorable graphics on their site are just one clue about the fact that they’re different from other hosts… and as I got set up with them, their quick and friendly support was refreshing!
Plus, more importantly – my website designer has told me that their servers are secure and that they keep things updated “in the back end” of things. When I first started working with her, she told me that my hosting company at the time was TERRIBLE about updating security measures, and that it made sites vulnerable when they were hosted with that company.
A Small Orange doesn’t have that issue, and I feel safe with them.
You will too. Plus, when you use my link or coupon code JOYFUL, you’ll get 15% off of your hosting plan.
Step 2: Choose a name.
Plenty of bloggers decide to have a blog name that doesn’t match their website’s URL, but I don’t think that’s a great idea. It’s easier for people to remember if you’re consistent with your name.
So, my blog is called Joyful Abode, and my URL is www.JoyfulAbode.com . Easy.
Another of my sites is So Damn Domestic. That URL is www.SoDamnDomestic.com .
Keep it simple.
See if your domain is available by typing it into the “Choose a Domain” section of the A Small Orange order form and then clicking “check.” It’ll tell you if someone is already using it, or if it’s ready for you to grab.
And guess what! When you find the perfect name, registration is free with your annual hosting sign up through my link.
3. Install WordPress.
This is your blogging software. It’s awesome. It’s powerful. It’s free.
In your A Small Orange cPanel, click Softaculous App Installer.
Find the WordPress icon, and click Install. Choose your settings (this takes like a minute) and then you’re off and running!
4. Choose a theme & write!
Don’t get too caught up with making your site look absolutely perfect at first. You can tweak to your heart’s content later. Just choose a theme that’ll do for now.
Now? Get writing!
I have to tell you, starting a blog is so rewarding!
At the very least, writing a blog gives you a low-cost and clutter-free hobby, a place to express yourself, to record your thoughts, and to share your stories and experiences with friends and family.
But there’s also so much potential when you start a blog!
You can connect with other people who you might never have a chance to meet otherwise. You join a larger community, and can influence others – sharing your stories so that others can identify with you and feel less alone, publishing your recipes so that other families can enjoy the same meals you do, revealing the gems (special restaurants, museums, cozy beach nooks, whatever you find) you discover when you go on trips so that other travelers can visit your favorite spots… the potential for connection is endless.
When you feel compelled to write, and to share that writing, a blog is the perfect way to do that, whether you’re doing it as a hobby or investing in it as a business.
It will be with you for years, decades, to come.
So if you’re thinking about starting a blog – and if you clicked to read this page, I’m pretty sure you are – I’m going to tell you yes, you absolutely should do it.
You might write every day, or a lot one month, and then take a break for a while before coming back to it, or you might make a business plan and write regularly, a few times a week, steadily for years.
But like the best kind of journal, your blog will always be waiting for you to crack open the spine and pull out your pen whenever you’re ready.
Self-Hosted or Free?
A lot of people who start blogging choose a free option. I wouldn’t recommend it.
You don’t own it… there are ways to save the information if you decide to no longer blog there, but you really don’t own it.
The site could shut down without notice, or your information could be sold to third parties, or other scary stuff could happen.
Plus, there’s a lot less flexibility with design, plugins (basically types of tools you can use behind the scenes), and earning potential. WordPress.com, for example, is free, but may only be used for non-monetized blogs.
I had a blog on livejournal (a free blogging platform) back in the day – we’re talking like 2003.
I can’t retrieve my password because I don’t even know what email address was associated with it, so I can’t even log in to get my private posts or delete my account. It kind of creeps me out.
I also had a blog on Xanga, another free platform, for a short while. Again, all of it is “out there” somewhere… I don’t even remember my user name, which is weird, right?
And I used to have a blogger blog, but never wrote anything there because I couldn’t get it to look the way I wanted it to — the customization options were just lacking.
So when I started Joyful Abode in 2007, I knew I wanted to own the place.
I was through with renting. This was going to be MY blog, and I was going to have total control over it.
Best. Decision. Ever.
WordPress is the best, most flexible blogging platform, and the self-hosted option gives me unlimited control over it. It’s easy to use, and if your customization needs are pretty normal, easy to make it look the way you want it to (and it’s easy to hire someone if your needs are more complex).
Not to mention that if you choose something else first, planning to switch later, switching can be a pain in the butt.
You have to stop blogging to figure out all the technical aspects of changing your software, possibly also changing your URL, hoping your links don’t get broken and that your comments don’t get lost in the switch, AND THEN learn a whole new software once you’re done.
Don’t do that to yourself. Please.
All of that energy and time is better spent doing what you really want to do – writing.
So, to sum up…
4 Steps to Starting a Blog:
- Choose a host.
- Choose your name.
- Install wordpress.
- Pick a theme and write!
- BONUS: One thing I wish I had done the day I started my blog.