Welcome back to Part 2 of our series: The Ridiculously Easy Guide to Starting a Blog People Will Love!
Missed part one? Read it here!
In the first part of this series, we covered a bunch of stuff for startup bloggers: choosing your niche, developing a blogging strategy and setting some basic goals. Hopefully, you’ve gone through the worksheets in the 24-Hour Blogging Success Kit and you’ve chosen a niche that’s right for you!
You should also have an idea of what your blogging routine will look like- will you be posting every day? 3 times a week? Do you have ideas to post about? What do you want your blog to look like in 1 year?
Once you have a solid foundation in place- it’s time to start the nitty gritty! So today, we need to work on some administrative things like buying a domain, setting up your site and actually getting your blog up and running! By the way, this post does contain some affiliate links.
Before any of this, let’s do some fun stuff. It’s time to choose a name!
Naming Your Blog
When it comes to naming your new blog, there are 2 schools of thought – you can either choose to use your own personal name as a brand OR you can come up with something on your own. But don’t worry, neither one is going to make or break your blog so don’t stress too much! Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
Coming up with a name
If you have a specific idea for your blog and know exactly what you want to focus on, creating a name related to your blog is a great idea. Some really popular blogs have used this method and you can guess what they’re about instantly when you see their names:
Choosing a name related to your niche is a great way for a new blog to attract more visitors because you’re able to make it crystal clear what your blog is about. Less confusion about your topic means you will be attracting the right people to your site and they will probably be more likely to click on your posts.
Branding as Yourself
Tons of bloggers have used this branding strategy including Melyssa Griffin, Amy Lynn Andrews, and Sarah Titus. It’s a great idea if you want to develop your own products and be the face of your brand. (It’s also really unlikely you’ll run into a blog with the same name or branding!).
Using your own name can also be a way to build up your “digital resume” and instead of locking you into a brand like “Bloggingforbeginners.com” or “PaintingfurnitureDIY.com” it allows you to expand your blog into different avenues, branding, and ideas in the future.
So, which one is better?!
The truth is, it really doesn’t matter! Whether you want to use your own name or create a name that represents your blog is completely up to you. Both methods have proven to be successful and if you make a decision and end up wanting to change down the line- no problem! Many mega successful blogs have done some serious re-branding throughout the years!
Once you’ve selected a kick butt name for your blog, it’s time to buy the domain! I’m a huge advocate of starting your blog on your own domain and hosting, as opposed to using a blog site like Blogger or Tumblr. This way, you own and control 100% of your content, branding and online presence.
So, what is a domain…?
It’s basically like your “internet phone number”. It’s the fun or memorable address you choose for your own website. You own that name and, for a set period, no one else can use it. Look on any major site like GoDaddy, Domain.com, or NameCheap.com to see if the name you want is still available. Most domains will cost anywhere from $1-$15 so it’s really not a huge investment!
Once you buy the domain, it’s time to find website hosting.
Hosting is basically a large server where all of your content and data are stored so that it can be accessed on the internet- by anyone, anywhere. Every domain needs hosting and every website you visit has a web host out there somewhere!
So how do you know which web host to choose?!
I did extensive research on web hosting looking at things like website downtime, technical support (and of, course, price), before I finally narrowed it down to 2 providers: Bluehost and GreenGeeks.
I used Bluehost a few years ago and REALLY liked them. I paid $2.95/month and that actually included my domain name which saved a few bucks! They also have super easy WordPress installation and 24/7 support which is a must! If you upgrade to the plan that’s $5.45/month you an have unlimited space and unlimited domains which is a pretty incredible deal. The only reason I left Bluehost is to switch to a Canadian company.
GreenGeeks is hands down the best option for Canadian web hosting. It’s only $3.95/month and includes free website migration, free website builder, guaranteed 99.9% up-time and 24/7 technical support (which has saved me a few times!). I also like that I can have unlimited domains if I want to start other blogs or online projects. I’ve been with GreenGeeks for 2 years now and I’ve never been disappointed!
Another cool thing about these web hosting companies (especially for new bloggers) is that they have a great affiliate program. So if you find you really like their service, you can easily sign up to promote them and get some extra money just for telling people about it!
So, you have a domain name and now you’ve secured hosting so you can actually start building a website- congrats! So far, we’ve only invested a few hours and about $5-$20 – not too bad for a startup, right?
Building Your Website
Now, when we start getting into website setup and design, the easiest way to start building is to download WordPress. WordPress is easily the most well known and widespread website creation software in the world – and it gained this titles for a reason!
Using WordPress will allow you to completely customize EVERYTHING about your site from themes and appearance to advanced functionalities. Most importantly, there is a TON of support out there in the WordPress community if you need help. It’s definitely going to be your best bet for starting a new blog.
Setting Up Your Theme
In WordPress, you have the ability to browse through literally thousands of themes and choose the one that will work best for your blog! From your WordPress “dashboard” click on “Appearance” and “Themes“. You can browse through newest themes or most popular to see what other people are loving.
Of course you can do all of this for free, or you can choose to upgrade to a paid theme which will normally allow you more customization and you will have more support from the developers should you have any issues.
Themes can range anywhere from $20-$200 depending on what you want and how much you’re able to do yourself!
For simple, gorgeous blog designs visit Beautiful Dawn. They have themes ranging from $40-$60 that can make any new blog look SUPER professional!
So now, you should have a great theme set up and you can begin customizing it to your liking! It’s pretty much fair game from here and you can do whatever you want with your new blog, BUT, there are some plugins you should download ASAP to help boost your new business.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a plugin is a piece of software you download that works with WordPress to optimize some feature or program on your website. Whether you want custom social media buttons, different fonts on every page or you want to start with an awesome landing page, plugins are the way to go!
I wrote a post about some must-have plugins for new bloggers while ago, so here’s a quick recap.
You should download a social media plugin that will allow people to share your stuff easily! I use “Ultimate Social Media” but there are others out there that will get the job done!
Secondly, I really urge you get the MailChimp plugin ASAP. Growing your email list should be a top priority, and MailChimp is a great free resource to help you do this!
Lastly, it’s important to encourage people to share and leave comments on your blog, so you’ll want to download a plugin like CommentLuv that allows your audience to input their own website or blog details after each comment. It’s awesome way to develop a strong relationship with other bloggers and readers.
After you get your basic plugins, the rest is up to you! Explore and experiment to see what works best with your blog design style.
So that’s it for part 2 of our Ridiculously Easy Guide to Setting up a Blog! Hopefully by now you have a website all set up and you’re ready to get started on some content!
For part 3, we’re looking at the basics you should incorporate in your blog including foundational content, posting frequency, and social media.
By the way, if you haven’t already, go ahead and download the 24-Hour Blogging Success Kit to follow along with this series.
I hope this helped some of you on the path to creating an awesome blog! Leave me your feedback below 🙂