Step 1: Free Blog or Your Own Domain
Your first decision as a blogger is to decide whether you are going to use a free blogging service or set up and manage your own domain.
The advantages of the free services are: no cost, very quick to start, very little technical knowledge needed and you can try out blogging with very little risk.
The disadvantages are your blog’s name will be linked to the free blogging service, which will put off some potential visitors; there are more restrictions on a free blog; you are at the mercy of changes in ownership, changes in rules of the service. You could also have your blog blocked or removed if you somehow or other upset the company.
Your own domain
Your own domain gives you much more control over your blog. You will have your own domain name, which allows you to brand your content, and even yourself. There are no real restrictions on plugins and themes that you use. In addition you can use a developer/programmer to customize the site even further.
You will need to learn some basic technology, but you do not need to go into too much technical detail. You will need to buy and manage the domain and the hosting.
If you just want to try your hand at blogging, you can start with one of the free blogging services, like WordPress. If you decide that you want to transfer your content later on to your own domain then it is relatively easy to do so.
However, if you want to start a serious blog or monetize your blog you should get your own domain. This is usually relatively inexpensive. The cost should be less than a $10 per year. You can purchase a domain name at HostGator or BlueHost.
Step 2: Choose Your Domain’s Name
Your domain’s name is important. It can give your potential visitors an idea of your blog’s content or it can help you brand the blog.
Personal blog titles usually have one of a number of formats:
- The blogger’s name – Jim’s Blog
- What the blog is about – Reluctant Gardener
- Obscure, (for branding) – Orange Banana
Step 3: Choose Your Blogging Software
This one is easy. If you are going to have your own domain, then I suggest using WordPress as your content management system. It’s free. It has thousands of themes, and potential layouts. The software can be easily upgraded to incorporate additional functionality using a plugin system. Also, there are thousands of developers and forums prepared to support you. Here more information on why you should choose WordPress.
Step 4: Choosing Your Hosting Company
Sorry to be technical but at the early stage of your blogging career you should use a reasonably cheap, shared hosting service (HostGator or BlueHost). That is your blog and others will be stored on a large hard drive of the hosting company.
It should be a cpanel hosting, as this hosting works best with WordPress.
As a large number of hosting companies offer cpanel you can easily move your site to another supplier if you are not satisfied.
The hosting must have Fantastico, as this will install WordPress, and a large number of other software packages, for you – saving you the hassle of learning a number of technical techniques. Again this is free.
Step 5: Setting Up Your Blog
Using Fantastico the installation of WordPress is automated see: Installing WordPress and then logging onto WordPress. BlueHost and HostGator have very intuitive install processes for using WordPress. It’s also important to note that both have customer support lines that are willing to help you with the install.
Step 6: Choosing your Theme or Layout
There are thousands of themes available for your use with WordPress.
Step 7: Get Writing
Writing a blog post is different than writing an article for a magazine. You will need to develop your own style and write great content. You should spend the majority of your time creating valuable content for your readers.
Step 8: Moving on to a Standard Blog
As part of my blogging framework, ‘The Seven Stages of Blogging’, I identify the first three stages as being:
- ‘The Start Up Blog’, where the owner learns how to set up a blog and write a few posts.
- ‘The Standard Blog’, where the owner develops their Start Up Blog into an established blog that has a reasonable number of posts.
- ‘The Launch Pad Blog’, is where the owner prepares the blog to be promoted. The design of the blog has improved, the navigation is better, posts are being scheduled and there are features, such as a contact page and an email list.
The vast majority of personal blogs remain at the level of a standard blog, with possibly some of the elements of the launch pad blog. It is worthwhile considering these techniques as they will help you build up traffic and help you network with like minded people.