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How to Start a Blog From Scratch – A Comprehensive Guide
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade or so, you’ve probably noticed the sudden increase in blogging websites.
Regardless of the nature of your business, setting up a web presence is more important than ever before. And once you’ve got your website in place, you’ll need a blog to go with it – after all, blogging is perhaps one of the most powerful tools you can leverage to boost sales, attract new customers and build brand credibility with existing clients.
With all of this in mind, we’ve decided to put together a comprehensive yet simple-to-follow step by step guide to help you create your very own blog from scratch. In this article, you’ll find everything you need from purchasing a domain name to selecting a hosting provider and installing software to publishing your first blog post.
Let’s get started building your first blog!
5 Steps to Start a Blog
Let me start off by saying that you don’t need to be programming literate to follow this practical guide – in fact, you won’t have to write a single line of code. To those of you who shy away from the mere thought of coding (don’t worry; I’m no stranger in that community!) I say “Fear not, for this guide is with you.”
I’ll walk you through five simple steps to help you launch your blog:
- 1. Choose a Blogging Platform
- 2. Choose Suitable Hosting
- 3. Set Up Your Domain Name and Hosting
- 4. Customize Your Blog
- 5. Add Useful Plugins
Now that we’ve gotten all of the preliminary details out of the ways, let’s jump right into the tutorial. You’ll have it up and running in the next 15 minutes – I kid you not!
Choose a Blogging Platform
The first thing you’ll have to do is select a content management system (CMS) that will serve as the underlying platform for your blog. Now you’ve probably heard of a few of the major blogging platforms out there – WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
WordPress All The Way
I’m a huge advocate of WordPress and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to start their own blog. Here are a few simple reasons why:
- It’s massive. As of the writing of this article, WordPress powers nearly 74.6 million websites.
- It’s absolutely free. WordPress was essentially designed to be an open source project.
- It’s secure and reliable. The dedicated team of developers behind WordPress, Automattic, is always updating the CMS to ensure maximum safety. If it’s safe enough for NASA, chances are it’s safe enough for you.
- It’s scalable. Whether you want to launch a personal blog or are in hopes of a much bigger, CNN-sized site (yes, CNN runs on WordPress, too!), you can rest assured that it’ll operate without any glitches.
Those of you who are launching their first blog and probably don’t have a ton of potential traffic lined up are far better off opting for WordPress. Aside from the platform-specific benefits the CMS offers, it’ll save you a ton of time,effort, and money.
Hosting with WordPress is low-cost and installation takes 5 minutes. The best part, however, is and will always be that you don’t need to be exceptionally skilled in a web programming language (or even know the ABC’s of it) to launch and operate a successful WordPress-based blog.
If you’re convinced that WordPress really is the best CMS out there, let’s move on to the next section.
Choose Suitable Hosting
Now that you’ve made the right decision in choosing WordPress as your CMS, there’s just one more choice to make – choosing a type of hosting provider.
The decision you make at this stage will have a colossal effect on the outcome of your blog. You can choose to fork out a couple of dollars every month for self-hosting or go for a free alternative instead. And although the latter sounds absolutely incredible, that’s not the direction you’ll want to head in.
Why You Should Avoid Free Blog Sites
With free blogging platforms (non-hosted platforms) the disadvantages always outnumber the advantages. Always. For starters, you get a terrible domain name – something like ‘myblog.freebloggingplatform.com’. Your blog’s domain name has a significant impact on SEO and social media marketing so if you want your blog to really take off and be discoverable then you’ll want to go with a self-hosting.
A .com extension is the standard norm and nearly 75% of all websites have it. I’m not saying it’s impossible to attract millions of unique monthly page views with a .freebloggingplatform.com extension but how many successful bloggers (or any successful site for that matter) do you know by that domain name extension?
“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization.”
You want a web address that rolls off the tongue easily. One that people will remember. One that tactfully illustrates your brand and communicates what your blog is all about in a concise yet relevant set of characters.
Disadvantages of Non-Hosted Blogging Platforms
- URL Problem. Your blog’s URL will be long, unappealing, and unprofessional.
- No Real Ownership. Since you’re not paying for hosting, your blog won’t actually be your blog – it’s hosted on someone else’s web property. This means that they can delete it whenever they want.
- Other Restrictions. Free blogging platforms don’t let you do all the cool stuff like monetize your blog, use themes, or install plugins. Worst of all, your site’s space on the server is limited which means you can’t even upload all of the images and videos you were hoping would attract traffic.
These are factors that most of us simply can’t afford to compromise on. They are essential to the timely success of our blog and we’re willing to spend a few bucks for it.
Luckily enough for you, I’ve worked out the most optimal and cost-efficient solution after carefully analyzing the hosting industry. (It’s a difficult and confusing world to navigate through.) Long story short: Bluehost is the winner.
Why Bluehost Is Best
Bluehost offers everything from shared hosting to optimized hosting for WordPress at a reasonable price. Being a first-time webmaster, it’s best to go for shared hosting. The rest of them are advanced hosting services and more suitable for bigger blogs. You won’t need the kind of functionality they offer right away and when you feel like you do, you can always upgrade to another hosting plan.
Bluehost’s Shared Hosting plan is an ideal candidate for several reasons:
- WordPress users get a special discount price at $3.49/month.
- You’ll get a free domain name.
- 1-click WordPress install.
- 24/7 support.
- 30-day money back guarantee.
It stands to reason that WordPress and Bluehost go hand in hand — the best CMS paired with an affordable and reliable hosting provider. In the next section, we’ll walk you through a simple procedure to set up your domain name and hosting service with Bluehost.