Let’s start with some good news! Technology has made it relatively easy for
you to start a blog. The Blogging platforms you are privy to have become very
user friendly, even hosting providers have started to make uploading those Blog
platforms simple by means of automated programs.
After you have decided to start a blog, the next decision is what kind of blog – there are two very distinct types:
- Start a Blog using a 3rd party hosted Blog service
- Start a Blog by self-hosting your own
The difference is relatively simple. A 3rd party hosted Blog is hosted on a 3rd party’s website! Let me give you an example. yourwebsite dot wordpress dot com would be a 3rd party hosted blog (hosted by WordPress), whereas yourwebsite dot com would be a self hosted blog (hosted by a company you would pay a hosting fee to).
Whichever way you choose to start a Blog, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few advantages for 3rd party hosted Blogs:
- Most are free, no hosting or Domain Name fees
- Very simple to setup, Blogging software already installed
- Easier to get your Blog *indexed on the more popular sites
- Sometimes easier to get followers on establisged social media platforms
*Indexing relates to search engines visiting your site, and recording or “Indexing” them in their database, so that when potential visitors search for material related to your site, it shows up in the search engine results.
3rd party hosted Blogs are a great way for the beginner webmaster to start a Blog. But before you rush out and sign up, let’s take a look at the advantages of a self hosted Blog:
- Control - you can put what you want, where you want
- Piece of mind – 3rd Party sites can remove your Blog at their discretion
- Plugins – Plugins are what make a Blog! You can install any Plugins you want
- SEO – Search engines prefer full domains over sub-domains
- Professionalism – looks better to have “your own Domain Name” (Branding)
- Emails – can have email addresses like admin at yourdomain dot com
- Customizations – customize anything (or everything!)
- Security – you can install Plugins to increase your Blog’s security
- Monetization – You can sell products, display whatever Ads you like
- Backups – you can easily backup your entire site as often as you please
It’s clear if you choose to start a blog using the self hosted approach, you have a lot more options open to you, albeit at greater expense. I will focus the remainder of this tutorial mostly around self hosted Blogs, as this requires more explaining. However, if you do decide to start a Blog using a 3rd party hosted service; here’s a list of the most popular ones:
- Live Journal
The Various Types of Blogging Platforms
Before we get into specifics, I just want make you aware there are several software platforms you can use to start a Blog. A Blogging platform is the actual software that provides the functionality of your website – such as adding new pages and allowing comments to be posted.
WordPress is the most popular currently use (in 2011, 14.7% of all websites were WordPress driven!). I use WordPress myself, and of course it is what I recommend! I will be focusing on WordPress for the below examples. Here are a few other choices - all are free:
- Text Pattern
- Movable Type
- Flat Press
Now, let’s move on to those specifics!
Choosing a Domain Name
Yes, this one’s kind of important. If you want to start a blog, you need to give it a name! Here are some quick pointers:
- Make it as relevant as possible to the theme of your website
- Make it as short as possible, while maintaining relevance
- Don’t abbreviate, bad for SEO and makes it harder to remember your Domain Name
- Choose a dot com over any other TLD’s (.net, .org etc)
- You can add “a’ or “the” or “e” if your first choice Domain Name is taken
Finally, try and make it something catchy, something people will remember!
I mentioned it was relatively easy to start a blog at the beginning of this article. Two very popular programs most hosting companies provide make getting your Blog online easy:
Make sure your chosen hosting provider supports one of these. Two providers that do support these programs (and ones I have used for several websites, so can personally recommend) are:
I find it’s a lot easier to watch someone do something than to read instructions about it. Open YouTube and search for Fantastico (or) Softaculous WordPress install and you’ll be presented with a host of video tutorials!
Once again, I’m going to lean on my opening statement on how easy it is to start a blog, and the content aspect is what really makes this statement true. There are literally hundreds of free themes from inside the WordPress dashboard. In fact it takes mere seconds to change the entire look of your site by changing themes! Here’s how we load a theme:
- Access your WordPress admin dashboard
- Under the Appearance menu on the left, click Themes
- Click “Install Themes”
- You can filter by colors or type here, or just click search to bring back all themes
- Select the one you want – you can preview it first, or just click Install
- Click Install now from the box that pops up, wait a few seconds
- After the Theme has installed, you can click on the “activate” link to make it live!
Themes are definitely the biggest part of what makes it simple to start a Blog. At the time of writing this, there are over 650 Themes accessible through the WordPress administrational portal!
Well, that’s it! This article was meant to give you a good idea of exactly how to start a blog, and I hope I have given you some useful guidelines to follow.
See you on the Web!
Stephanie K Tully.