Updated: December 23, 2016

Blogging

So you’re thinking of starting your own blog but don’t know where to begin? Well, you’ve come to the right place because I will show you just how to get started!

But before we do all that; if you’re still on the fence of whether or not you should start your own blog, consider these benefits that starting your own blog can bring. Not only is blogging a great way to get your business out there, share ideas, or earn some extra income — it can also help improve your writing skills, learn new things, help you think clearer and boost creativity, amongst other things.

And to add icing on the cake, starting your own blog is so simple, you do not need to worry about learning how to code! There are various platforms available for free on the market, like WordPress, that are designed to make it simple to get your blog started.  Just follow this easy step-by-step guide for an easy, stress-free setup.

Step 1 — Choose a blogging platform

The most popular blogging platform available right now is WordPress (and it’s the platform that I will be using for this guide). WordPress is free and comes with tons of themes and plugins to choose from, at no cost to you at all.  You can get your blog setup with WordPress two ways. By choosing to go with either WordPress.com or with WordPress.orgBoth are free to use, but they do have some differences that you should consider.wordpress-banner-1-294x300

1.  WordPress.com — This platform offers your hosting for free, but it has some limitations. The first being, your domain name will have “wordpress.com” alongside it. Ex:  yourdomainname.wordpress.com . Doesn’t look so pretty, does it?

You also cannot download plugins to enhance your site. One of the reasons that WordPress is so popular is because of the plugins available to add extra features to your site, which you cannot do with .com. Themes, as well, cannot be custom themes. Which means you are stuck with a theme that thousands of other websites already have. Not unique at all if you’re looking to make your blog stand out. Ads will also be placed on your blog that you can pay $30/yr to get them removed from your site.

Lastly, your blog can get deleted without warning for violating their terms of service. Imagine all your hard work and hours of typing being erased with just a click of a button.

2. WordPress.org — WordPress.org would be best for all your blogging needs if you’re really planning on updating your blog frequently and daily. With .org, you are the true owner of your blog and do not have to worry about it getting deleted (as long as you’re not doing anything illegal).

You get access to all the 47,420 plugins (and counting) that WordPress has to offer. You can upload your own custom themes or choose from their theme directory. WordPress.org doesn’t come with a free domain, but you can get one anywhere from $1.99 – $14.99. You’d have your own unique name, ex:  yourdomainname.com  without the wordpress.com  next to it, and it also comes without ads.

Of course, there’s still other options besides WordPress. Joomla and Drupal are also free blogging software that you can try out.

Step 2 — Choosing your domain name

Once you’ve decided which platform you’re going with, the next step is registering your domain name for your site. The domain name is the URL of your website that users will use to find your blog. Ex:   “google.com” is a domain name and “yahoo.com”  as well. Domain names cannot be changed after they are registered, so it’s important that you are completely satisfied with the domain name you choose for your blog because you will not be able to change it.

They are renewed once a year. After picking your domain name, the next option is the Top Level Domains (TLDs). The TLDs are the “.com”, “.net”, “.org” etc. No longer do you have to settle for a “.com”, you can also choose from “.boutique”, “.engineering”, “.wtf”, to name a few.  After choosing both your domain name and TLDs you can start the registering process.

Step 3 — Get a web hosting account

The next step is to get a hosting account from a web hosting company. A hosting company is what makes your blog available online. There are various of hosting accounts available. There’s Shared Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers, and WordPress hosting. Since we are just starting off and don’t expect much traffic on your blog just yet, I will opt for the shared hosting. Shared Hosting plans are usually between $1.00 – $15.00. The prices all depend on how much bandwidth, emails and domain names you plan on having/needing. I will be getting the Value Plan that is being offered from FastWebHost. It starts off at $1.00/mo with unlimited bandwidth and emails, and one domain. They also have a 30-day money back guarantee, which is a perfect plan for someone on a budget not looking to commit just yet.

Here’s the step-by-step guide to creating your blog and getting it online

Start by clicking here to go to FastWebHost. This link will open in a new window so you can reference below visual instructions as you work.

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Click on Get Started Today! On next page choose Value Plan or Business Plan.

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Choose the plan that best fits your needs and then press the “Add to Cart” button. The next screen will ask to register a new domain.  Or just click on the “I will use my existing domain” button to add an already registered domain. Since I already have a domain registered, I choose later option.

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On this screen, you can choose your billing cycle, server location, and optional add-ons. Press the “Continue” button when you are done.

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On the Review and Checkout screen, verify that everything is correct and Hit “Checkout” to go to the payment page.

Once you have filled out your payment details and are ready check/tick “I have read and agree to the Terms of Service” and just click on the big blue “Complete Order” button.

Step 4 — Installing your blogging software

Once you’re done setting up your hosting account, you should get an email from FastWebHost with your login information for cPanel (where we’ll be installing WordPress from).

Login to your cPanel and locate the “Softaculous Apps Installer”. From the Softaculous App Installer, you can download either WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. All three are free, open-source content management systems.

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Since we are installing a blog, on the Softaculous App Installer, click on the WordPress icon where you’ll be directed to another screen with Installation information.
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On this screen, you can see the features that WordPress has to offer, screenshots and a demo as well. Click on the “Install Now” button to begin installing WordPress.

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You’ll be directed to this screen where you can choose your password, title, description, admin username, and language.

When you’re done configuring your options, you can click on the “Install” to begin downloading. Downloading only takes a few seconds. Ater it’s done you’ll be directed to another screen.

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The red highlighted area that says administrative URL”  has your link where you can go and log into your WordPress. Your username and password would be the one you chose on the previous screen.

Step 5 — Installing themes and plugins

Now you can start selecting a theme for your blog! WordPress has various themes that you can choose from and you can also customize the themes to your liking. Go to your dashboard, Appearance>Themes

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You will be directed to another page with all the themes that WordPress has available. You can look at their most popular themes and the latest themes. You can use the search bar to type in keywords for a specific theme you’re looking for. That looks something like below:

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To begin installing themes, hover your mouse over the theme. You can see details about the theme, you can preview it to see how it looks like and then you can install. Pressing “install” will not set it as your theme just yet.

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Once it’s installed, you can click “Live Preview” to see how it would look with all the content that you have in your blog. If you like how the theme looks you can press “Activate” to make it your new theme.

Plugins add extra features and functionality to your blogs. To Install Plugins, go to your dashboard

To Install Plugins, go to your dashboard Plugins > Add New

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On this screen, you can search plugins you want to install. If this is your first time, you will need to be careful not to install vulnerable plugins. I usually activate 4+ star rating plugins and the one’s that have over 10,000 installs. Here are a couple that I will recommend as a start.

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The same as the themes screen, you can look through the most popular plugins, recommended plugins, type in keywords to search for a plugin, etc. And you can view details, screenshots, and reviews before installing. To install a plugin click on the “Install Now” button.screenshot-181The plugin will begin installing from the same screen. Once it’s done, you’ll see a button now that says “Activate”. Click on it to start activating your plugin. To deactivate a plugin or delete, go to your dashboard Plugins > Installed Plugins and click “Deactivate

Step 6 — Writing your first post -yay!!

Now that you’re finally done setting up your blog, you can now start adding content. To write your first post, go to your dashboard  Posts > Add New

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This will be your post screen where you can start typing your blog content.

Step 7 — Getting traffic to your site and making money off your blog

There are various steps you can take to start getting traffic and earning cash from your blog:

  1. Install Social Media Sharing Plugins
  2. Start building an Email Subscription List Plugin
  3. Advertisements

1. Install Social Media Plugins
By adding social media plugins, your blog posts can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Therefore, getting more traffic to your site. You can download social media sharing plugins like: Social Warfare, and Monarch. These plugins allow your posts to be shared on various Social Media and they are easy to customize.

2. Start building an Email Subscription List
With an email subscription list (newsletter) you’ll be adding a way to drive repeat visitors and customers to your website or blog. They’ll subscribe to your newsletters and be informed of all the happenings on your blog. Newsletter plugins you can download are MailMunchand Icegram. You can customize these to have popups on your site to start building your list and more.

3. Advertisements
To start earning money off your blog, start placing ad networks like Google AdSense. Once you’ve signed up, Google places a code on your blog that identifies the content of your blog and starts displaying relevant ads. You get paid each time someone clicks on the ad.

Congratulations!! You just installed your first blog!!

Alright Let’s Recap

  1. You signed up with FastWebHost hosting account.
  2. Registered a new domain with Value or Business hosting plan.
  3. If you didn’t register and want to use yours, make sure to point the Nameservers of your domain to FastWebHost Nameservers. The Nameserver info is in the Welcome Email.
  4. Logged in to cPanel to setup WordPress site.
  5. Installed WordPress successfully and noted down the Login URL, Username and Password to access the backend of the WordPress site.
  6. Wrote your very first Blog post – yay!!

Time for some much needed coffee !!