Thinking about starting a blog? Here are some easy step-by-step instructions on how to start a successful blog:
1. Pick a Name/Niche
What is your blog going to be about?
Travel? Food? Parenting? What is your area of expertise? Think about what you would like to share about or what you would love to write about. Once you have an idea what your subject area will be, then you can brainstorm blog names.
Choosing a name is important because it is essentially your brand! I chose “Adventures with Shelby” because I knew I would mainly write about traveling. Ideally, the name should be descriptive but short and simple. You want to be easy to search and spell. Brainstorm several options, just in case the domain (or website name) is already taken.
2. Choose a Host/Platform
When I studied abroad, I wrote blogs to share my trips and experiences with my family and friends. I used Blogspot because it was free and I didn’t plan to continue blogging after my semester abroad. In 2016, I decided that I wanted to create a “real” blog that I would maintain long-term.
I researched a bit and read some advice on blog hosting. SiteGround seemed like the easiest option for starting out – it is very user-friendly and easy to learn for newbies like me!
The StartUp Plan is only $3.95 a month and makes the most sense for new bloggers. As you gain traction, you can always upgrade your services. Naturally, it is a better deal if you pre-pay for longer term. I started off paying year to year for hosting because I wanted to make sure I liked SiteGround and that I would really continue with blogging long-term.
3. Register Your Domain
Domain registration costs $15.95 through SiteGround. Your domain is your “.com” name. For instance, my domain is adventureswithshelby (.com).
Once you choose your plan with SiteGround, you will select “Register a New Domain.” Type the blog name you want without spaces and make sure the drop down menu to the right shows “.com”.
If the “.com” domain is taken, you may be able to register as “.org” or “.net”, however, I’d recommend just trying a different name. Let’s say “adventureswithshelby” wasn’t available – I could try “shelbysadventures” “travelingwithshelby” “shelbytravels” and so on.
4. Install WordPress and Pick a Design
When you log into your account with SiteGround for the first time, the Website Setup Wizard should automatically pop up. It’s fairly simple – you select “Start a New Website.” The setup wizard will prompt you to choose a software to install. I recommend selecting WordPress because it is really straightforward and easy to navigate.
Once you finish the setup process you can start customizing your website! Under Appearance – Themes you can browse all the free themes that are available through WordPress. If you hover your mouse over a theme, you can select install or preview. The preview is a nice way to see what the website theme looks like as you scroll through.
5. Install Plugins
WordPress plugins are very easy to install and up your blog game. In your dashboard, select Plugins – Add New . The featured plugins will show you what is popular.
Some important plugins to start off with include:
- Akismet Anti-Spam: As it says in the title, protects your blog from spam.
- Google Analytics: Allows you to measure your blog’s traffic.
- Jetpack: Also helps you to measure your blog’s traffic, but offers other features like “related posts.”
- Yoast SEO: Helps to optimize your website and posts on Google.
6. Create Social Media for the Blog
Social media can really help to share and grow your blog! You will want to open social media accounts with the same name as your domain, or the closest name possible. The sooner you check the availability of the name, the better! Sadly, adventureswithshelby was taken on a few media so I had to opt for shelbadventures as an alternative.
Minimally, I’d recommend registering with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Even if you don’t immediately start using a platform, it is better to secure the name while you can.
7. Create Content
Start with some basic content, like an About Page and Disclaimer. Set up a contact form (pro tip: you can install the plugin Contact Form 7). For a professional look, SiteGround allows you to set up an email address with a .com (ie: my blog email is firstname.lastname@example.org). Add an email subscription list.
Once you have the basics set up, you can begin developing more content like blog posts. The more consistently you post, the easier it will be to drive traffic to your blog. However, I would caution against aiming for quantity over quality! As I shared in my recent post about my new year’s resolutions, I try to share a new post once per week!
8. Promote Your Blog
I recommend sharing all new post links to your social media accounts for your blog. I mainly focus on sharing my posts to Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. You can select which media to use based on your preferences.
Additionally, there are some great resources for new bloggers! There are groups on Facebook, such as Bloggers Supporting Bloggers, Blogging Newbs, and Boost Your Blog where you can get great advice and support from peers. I highly advise joining groups like these to take advantage and improve your blog, especially while you are first starting out!