Blogging is one of the most fun things you can possibly ever venture into. What makes it so great is the fact that you’re free to become whoever you want – take on whichever persona you feel like, discuss anything you want, publish anything in the world.
Your house, your rules. As long as your passion lies somewhere, chances are pretty high there’s something out there that will suit your taste. Business, photography, politics, food, sports… the list of things you can write about is endless.
Once you’ve found your passion, how do you start, though? What steps do you take to start your journey into the scary yet fulfilling world of blogging?
Decide What You Want to Blog About
The first step you need to take is to decide what you want to blog about. This step requires one of two things – a whole lot of research or a whole lot of passion.
In the former case, you need to research what existing blogs do since there is a great chance there are already sites that publish what you want to write about. Find relatively popular blogs to give you a sense of direction in what readers want to see.
In the latter case, you just want to write for the sake of writing. Writing can be therapeutic, so maybe you need to get something off your chest. In that case, all you need is to get some inspiration for your blog, and you’re good to go.
Give Your Blog a Name
Giving things names is the bane of a lot of writers’ existences, so this part may be a bit tricky. However, you need to give your blog a catchy name, but it shouldn’t sacrifice catchiness for relevance. The closer it is to the topic you blog about, the better readers will be able to remember it.
Blogs that have a large number of visitors like The Nerdist are easy to remember, so they are easy to go back to. Additionally, short, easy-to-spell and type names are a lot easier to promote on search engines like Google and Bing. This makes for better visibility and easier discoverability.
At the same time, you need to pick a domain name. Since this is permanent, you also need to be very specific. The domain name should also preferably be the same as the blog’s title or a variation of the same. Domain names are bought on Domain Name Service providers such as GoDaddy and Freenom. Your domain name will look something like myincrediblefancyblog.com.
Find an Appropriate Blogging Platform
This part depends on your level of expertise with computers and how much work you’re willing to put into making your website yours. The most popular blogging platform is without a doubt WordPress. It’s a nice place to start for most people since it’s very easy to customize and there are a ton of tutorials and themes floating around the internet. There’s no shortage of WordPress developers out there, either.
If you are serious about your blog, though, you will need to look into both wordpress.org and wordpress.com. The former choice should work better for large-scale bloggers. The latter will be better for people who blog as a hobby.
On the other hand, there are platforms like Ghost that have gained a whole lot of popularity in the recent past. It’s a little bit more obscure but features a nice breath of fresh air from all the raw, generic WordPress sites you’ve probably seen at one point or another on the internet.
The last option is to build your own site from scratch. This requires a lot more experience and expertise but is the most efficient way to make your site yours. Besides, the prevalence of markdown on the web has made it much easier to get a site up and running.
Find Somewhere to Host Your Site
Now, this site will somewhat depend on what your pick was in the previous step. For the most part, WordPress hosting is cheap since there are a lot of people who offer the service on the internet. This is yet another reason WordPress is the best choice for most beginners.
If you opted for other blogging platforms like Ghost or want to build your own site, you will likely need a VPS. A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is just a fancy name for more server space, better performance and less people on your IP range. It’s a great choice for people who know what they are doing or if you expect a lot of traffic. At that point, shared hosting offered by most WordPress hosts just won’t cut it.
Design Your Blog and Publish Your First Post
Once everything is up and running, this is usually the point you decide whether free themes will cut the cake for you or you want a little bit more. Free themes are usually all over the internet and, whereas convenient, they are super generic and can put visitors off (since most people don’t like seeing the same thing over and over again in different places.)
You should either pick up some programming skills, hire a programmer or head over to the many theme marketplaces and buy a theme that best suits your site. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find someone willing to even install it on your website for you. At which point, you’ve successfully overcome the most difficult part of blogging – getting enough resolve to start.
Despite all the great things you may have heard – tales of overnight success and people becoming rich in weeks – blogging isn’t easy. Before you start getting any money from your site, you need to get visitors.
It can be a bit frustrating publishing your great content to nobody during the initial phases, at which point you will need to pick up some SEO skills. Post regularly, market your content, interact with visitors, and you’ll do great!