Blogging has been on everyone’s radar for a long time now, and has even become quite a sought after career option. It’s easy to maintain (once you get it set up and get into the groove) and can open up your schedule and travelling opportunities. I asked a group of my friends who have been entertaining the idea of starting a blog what their barriers are, and most of them have answered that it seems like a hassle getting it all set up. So for those friends, as well as everyone else who thinks setting up their blog seems like a pain in the ass, I’m here to simplify it for you!
So here is my step-by-step guide to starting a blog:
The reason this is step 0 is because it’s not something I can give you technical advice for but it’s definitely CRUCIAL before you start your blog. It’s important for both yourself and the business aspect of your blog to decide on what you want to write about. Is it poetry? Your life? Beauty tips? Fashion advice? Fitness journey? Whatever it may be, deciding that beforehand will give you a better guide on what the rest of your branding/website should look and feel like.
Step 1: Picking a Domain
I always get my domains from GoDaddy just that I find that it is easiest to manage. And since I already have a GoDaddy account, I can easily manage all of my domain/DNS options there. Once you’ve decided on your awesome domain, just go to the GoDaddy website, and type in the domain that you want and it will let you know if it is currently available.
Once you find out if your domain is available, you can add it to cart and proceed to the next screen where you can choose the add-ons that you want. I did used to use GoDaddy for my email service but I didn’t like that they use Office 365 as their email provider so I made the switch over to G-Suite. If you’d like to see a tutorial on how I set that up, let me know in the comments!
NOTE: If you purchase a WordPress hosting service from GoDaddy, they actually will give you a FREE domain for the same length of time that your hosting is. So that is an option if you want to keep things simple.
Step 2: Picking a Hosting Service
Other than GoDaddy, I personally actually switched all my hosting over to Media Temple. If you’e just planning on hosting one site, GoDaddy will suffice. But since I started hosting 3+ sites (this site, my portfolio site, my small business site etc.) Media Temple was more worth it. The plan I recommend getting is their Grid Shared Hosting. You can host up to 100 sites on this plan and it’s the best bang for your buck when you need multiple sites hosted. You can also use these 100 sites to create staging sites and sub-domains which is also super helpful, especially if you do design work and often need staging environments or just want to use sub-domains to separate different portions of your website.
Scroll down to their plan comparisons and click into shared hosting.
Once you’ve clicked into Shared Hosting you can see that they have multiple different options that all fall under their Grid Shared plans. I personally just use the Personal plan because that’s all I need.
Once you’ve clicked Start Building, it’ll take you directly within the shopping cart where you have the option to also purchase your domain with them. If you’ve followed step 1 and purchased your domain with GoDaddy, just click No Thanks, I’ll Skip Adding a Domain.
Before you checkout, the only other thing I recommend purchasing with Media Temple is their G-Suite add-on. If you feel that you don’t need an emailing system right now, then you can skip this part and just purchase it later on through Media Temple or directly from Google themselves. I personally enjoy using G Suite SO MUCH MORE than Office 365. So my tip is to 100% go with G Suite once you’re ready to implement emails for your business.
And voila! Super simple. Media Temple also has a great one-click WordPress install tool that makes it super easy to set up your WordPress website. If you want me to write a separate explanation around how to use that tool and actually set up the database and website, comment below!
Once you are all set up with Media Temple, all you have to do to access your new website is to add /wp-admin to the end of your domain (www.example.com/wp-admin).
Step 3: Picking a Theme
So this is where it gets fun. Your theme totally sets the vibe, style, and personality of your blog. There are MILLIONS of options to choose from and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. If you’re someone with a design or development background, this is your chance to create something that totally compliments your blog topic and your personality. If you’re just starting to dip your toes in design or don’t have a design background at all, there are millions of preset themes out there that still give you quite a bit of customization options.
My favourite websites to look for themes are ThemeForest and Pipdig. I used to use Pipdig a lot more because there are a lot of pre-made, cute, blogger themes that worked perfectly with my girly branding. Sooner or later, I got a little frustrated using a cookie cutter theme and wanted something a lot more personal and customized so I moved onto using multi-purpose themes that included website builder tools. The one I’m using currently is Salient which can be found in ThemeForest.
To install your theme, just head to the Appearances tab in the left-hand side of your WordPress dashboard. WordPress has some free and premium themes that they offer as well, but I personally never really look at those. At the top of the page, you can click the button that says Upload, and you can upload the .zip file that you received within the file you download when you purchase a theme.
Step 4: Customizing
The last and final piece of the puzzle is customizing your new blog! Design a logo, pick your brand colours, choose what font best represents you…Even with a cookie cutter theme, there are still tons of different things that you can do to customize your blog. Familiarize yourself with the WordPress Dashboard as you’ll see there are TONS of different ways you can customize your site. Play around with adding menus, categories, images, posts, pages. A lot of the main customization will be done under Appearances > Categories as well. For me, the most important aspects are definitely incorporating brand colours and figuring out your page hierarchy. Which categories fall under what parent categories, and how would you like to separate your content.
Plugins are also great little customization tools containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your website. To browse plugins just head to Plugins > Add New and you can look through all the different plugins that you can install.
- Akismet (anti-spam plugin)
- YoastSEO (to make sure your posts and pages are search engine optimized)
- Smush (to minify your images so they don’t weigh down your site loading time)
And voila! That’s all it takes.
Whether it’s for your business or you just want to start a personal blog, I can’t recommend blogging enough. It’s helpful in SO many ways, and it’s been a huge part of my life ever since I was small.
If you have ANY questions about starting a blog, feel free to comment them below or tweet me at @angelzhng.
Until next time,