The Complete Guide to Starting a Blog

If you want to start a blog, you have come to the right place. What follows below is a complete guide to starting a blog. I have cut right to the chase and arranged the content in logical steps. You should be up and running in 20 minutes flat.

Blog printed on an old typewriter

Let’s get started.

Choose a blogging platform

Your first port of call should be a blogging platform. For this, I recommend the easiest and most popular blogging platform in the world, WordPress. But don’t take just my word for it, Neil Patel also recommends setting up your blog with WP. WordPress is basically a free open source platform that has been around for over a decade and has been deployed on over 80 million sites. The best type of WordPress to use is self-hosted WordPress which means you own your domain and hosting. Which then brings us to the next step – domain and hosting.

Domain and hosting

Think of a short domain name that accurately describes what you want to blog about and check if it’s available for registration at a domain provider. Annual registration costs between $10 and $15. Once you secure your unique address on the Internet, purchase a hosting plan from a web hosting company. Monthly hosting costs anything from $3 per month depending on the size of hosting you need. But, for a new blog I don’t recommend purchasing large hosting. You can always scale up when your blog increases in size and traffic. One thing you need to be sure of is that the hosting provider has a One Click install solution for WordPress. If unsure, confirm with their support team before you commit to anything.

Installing WordPress

The next step is to install WordPress on your hosting server. Use the One-Click install button and follow the simple instructions. Create a good strong password for your admin back-end.

Install a theme

Next, log into your admin area and acquaint yourself with the dashboard. You will realize just how intuitive and user-friendly it is. Go through the menus and see what you find under each one. You will then need to install a theme. A theme is a template design. This handles the layout of your site. There are hundreds of free WordPress designs at WordPress.org/themes. Check out the themes on offer and find something that’s representative of what your blog is all about. Make sure the theme is responsive which means it can be viewed on any type of device. This is very important for search engine optimization (SEO) which I discuss in a bit more detail below.

Install essential plugins

This is the beauty about WordPress. Once you set up the basic site, you can extend the blog’s functionality using plugins. Plugins are small programs that “plug into” the main site. There are plugins to accomplish just about anything on WordPress. I recommend installing the following essential plugins:

  • An SEO plugin
  • A sitemap plugin
  • A caching plugin
  • A Google Analytics plugin
  • A social sharing plugin
  • A comment spam plugin

Check out the highest rated plugins here.

Start writing

You are now one step away from posting your first blog article. Write interesting stuff that people want to read and share. Put a lot of effort into conducting research to find out what people want to read. Leverage social media to get the word out. Social media is not only good for creating awareness about your blog but it also improves your blog’s SEO. Search engines look to social media to determine trending topics. The better your blog does in social media, the higher it will rank in search engines.

Focus on SEO but don’t obsess about it

SEO is the process of making your blog more visible to search engines. It can be broadly categorized into two; on-page and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is what you do on your site , for example:

  • Using an SEO ready theme
  • Using an SEO plugin to tweak posts before publishing

Off-page SEO, is about what you do away from your site. The main off-page SEO strategy is getting backlinks from high authority relevant sites. The more other reputable sites link to you, the higher your blog ranks in the search engines. This is why you must absolutely create awesome content.

Conclusion

So there you have it – starting a blog for dummies. As mentioned earlier, the steps outlined above shouldn’t take you more than twenty minutes. If you have any technical problems along the way, consult your hosting provider or read the WordPress documentation. I also recommend joining a few blogging forums and following a few WordPress bloggers to keep yourself well informed of any new developments. You could also learn a thing or two from established bloggers.

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