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 How to start a Blog

When it comes to figuring out how to start a blog, I’m all about getting help.

Maybe you can relate! Does the process of starting a blog seem overwhelming?

Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. We’ll get through this together!

You see, I’m totally NOT a techie. I understand my “zone of genius” and it’s never been anything in the technical arena. I have a full schedule of client work, as well as developing my own websites. So, I outsource for the technical part.

My focus and expertise is teaching you all the marketing and copywriting strategies you’ll need to start making money with your blog. Yay!

But for this part? Time to call in an expert. That’s what I do when I build a new website, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now!

My trusted colleague and web wizard is Roxanne Ray Materese.

She’s my go-to for all things web related, as well as someone I’ve collaborated with on a number of complex client projects. And if you ever need a killer Facebook Ad Campaign? Roxanne’s the woman for the job!

I’m all about transparency and being real with everything on The Renegade Boomer. So, I wasn’t about to take this on myself. But I also knew I wanted a really focused, easy to understand step-by-step guide for how you can start a blog. I want you to succeed, not get bogged down.

Clearly, there was only one thing to do. I asked Roxanne to write a guest post for me, and oh my goodness, did she ever deliver!

If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the clear instructions and illustrations Roxanne provides. So, don’t put off starting a blog because you’re not sure how to begin. Just follow the yellow brick road Roxanne lays out for you right here, and you’ll be blogging in no time.

I’d suggest you open a second browser window as Roxanne suggests in her post, and just take it step by step, right along with her. I’ve personally coached a number of new bloggers who had no idea about blogging until they began working with me…and they had their blogs up and running the very same day, just by following the simple instructions! You can do it too.

Take it away Roxanne!


 

Have you ever searched Google for “the first blog post ever”?

I was curious to see what it looked like, and heck even what year it was first created.

What’s interesting is blogging evolved very similarly to the way social media has evolved.

Remember when your friends used to simply post their daily activities on MySpace or Facebook, basically giving us an online diary of their life? Well that’s exactly how blogging started as well.

Apparently, the term BLOG came from the original term weblog coined back in 1997! And the first “blog” was started in 1994 by a college student documenting his life. That was over 20 years ago. Pretty neat, huh?

It is fairly easy to create a blog these days and make it live on the “world wide web”, as it was first called back in the 1990s.

Back then you had to know a lot more technical jargon, not to mention having to use a dial-up service to connect to the internet. Yikes!

But TODAY, I am going to walk you through step-by-step exactly how to start your blog! For starters…

 

What Blogging Platform should you use?

The first step in creating your blog is determining which platform to build it on. WordPress is widely accepted and it is the platform I’ll be walking you through today.

Most people get confused by WordPress when they first start. Mainly because there are actually TWO versions of WordPress. The free one and the paid one.

Well that’s not exactly accurate either. They are both free, however one you must pay a modest fee in order to self-host your WordPress blog.

You might be wondering…

 

Why would you pay to host something that is free?

Because you are not allowed to put affiliate links or any monetization methods on the FREE HOSTED WordPress sites.

Those features are reserved for the PAID HOSTED WordPress sites.

The easiest distinction to remember is:

WordPress.COM = FREE hosted = no monetization (Boo!)

WordPress.ORG = self-hosted “PAID” hosted = ability to monetize your blog (Yay!)

Since you are more than likely interested in creating a blog to generate an income, I highly recommend self-hosting your WordPress website through SiteGround.

With the almost endless ways to make money blogging, your self-hosted fees through SiteGround will be paid for with ease.

 

Why SiteGround?

  • As a professional web designer, I have the inside scoop on all things websites. They are the least expensive with the BEST service and features.
    • NOTE: I strongly recommend you stay away from any Hosting company that is owned or a subsidy of EIG. This includes Bluehost, HostGator, and more. They own over 65 hosting companies now. Their sites are always slow and go offline for days at a time. Not to mention terrible customer service and always trying to sell you something.

I recommend starting with a Shared Hosting plan until you get a lot of website traffic. SiteGround’s shared hosting plans start at $3.95/month.

  • You get Free Email Accounts
  • Free SSL certificate – makes your website secure and encrypted. This has become essential and a MUST if you are collecting email addresses of your visitors – which you should be.
  • Free Daily Backups! This is another MUST!
  • There are no contracts so you can get a refund at any time.
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • It is very easy to setup a WordPress website through them
  • Wonderful Technical Support!

 

Steps to Setup Your Blog

  1. Get your Domain name from NameSilo
  2. Register with SiteGround
  3. Setup Domain
  4. Setup WordPress
  5. Get Familiar with WordPress
  6. Design your Blog
  7. Install Plugins (a MUST on a WordPress site!)
  8. Get to Writing!

Click Here to start creating your blog as you follow along with these steps.

 

Step 1 – Get your Domain from NameSilo

Purchase an inexpensive domain from NameSilo (starts at $1.89/year).

Name Silo Screenshot

I love NameSilo because they are the cheapest domain registrar out there AND they give you free Domain Privacy Protection.

If you do not purchase Domain Privacy Protection through other domain registrar’s, your personal information will be available to scammers and your mailbox will fill up with junk!

Trust me – I’m talking from experience…

Search for the domain name that you would like to title your blog with. I always highly recommend people choose their full name as their domain name. This will allow you to become an authority in your chosen niche.

However, if you want to blog anonymously then choose a different name.

The reason I recommend your name be your domain name is:

  • To brand yourself
  • Make it easy with Social Media Profiles and searches
  • If you want to write about different topics
  • If you may want to pivot your blog down the road and enter a new niche

Also think about domain extensions. The first choice is .com

However, it’s not uncommon these days to use extensions such as:

.co
.me
.online
.services
.info

If you’re feeling flush, you may even want to buy several renditions of your domain name with some of the other extensions, so someone can’t create a website with a very similar domain to yours.

Keep in mind your domain should be easy to remember, and easy to spell. This isn’t the time to get clever with weird combinations of words to create a domain. You’re not Twitter or Google, so keep your domain name in line with your niche market, clear, and understandable.

Name Silo screenshot

NOTE: A Domain name can be registered with ANY company you choose. It does not have to be through your hosting company and is actually better to not have it through your hosting company in case you want to switch hosts.

 

Step 2 – Register with SiteGround

Click here to go to SiteGround to create your self-hosted account.

Once on SiteGround’s website – Click on the White “SIGN UP” Button on the bottom left of the screen.

SiteGround screensot

Choose the Startup Plan for $3.95/month. Click the blue “ORDER NOW” button.

SiteGround screensot

When you get to this screen, choose “I already have a Domain” and enter the domain you registered with NameSilo here.

Click the blue “PROCEED” button when ready.

SiteGround screensot

Yay! You’re almost finished. Fill in your contact and billing details on this screen.

SiteGround screensot

When you get to this box, be sure to UNCHECK SG Site Scanner. There are MUCH less expensive malware and hacker monitors out there for your website.

You’ll need to pay for the whole year in order to get the discounted price of $3.95/month. Just remember, they have a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied.

SiteGround screensot

When you’ve entered your information click the blue “PAY NOW” button.

SiteGround screensot

SiteGround screensot

 

Step 3 – Setup Domain

This is the screen you’ll be taken to after clicking “PROCEED TO CUSTOMER AREA”

Click on “My Account”

Domain Setup Screenshot

Make note of the Account DNS.

Domain Setup Screenshot

Go back to NameSilo and click on “My Account”

Then click on Account Domains – the number next to it.

Domain Setup Screenshot

Then click on the Domain you purchased that you want to be hosted with SiteGround.

Domain Setup Screenshot

This is where you’ll be updating the DNS records. This tells NameSilo that you want that domain hosted with SiteGround.

Click on Change next to NameServers.

Domain Setup Screenshot

Update the Name Servers with what you saw in your SiteGround Account DNS.

Click Submit when you are finished.

Domain Setup Screenshot

 

Step 4 – Setup WordPress

Now go back to your SiteGround account and click on “GO TO cPanel.”

Setup WordPress screenshot

You’ll be taken here. We will now install WordPress on your new website.

Click on WordPress under the Auto installers tab.

Setup WordPress screenshot

Scroll down and click on Install Now.

Setup WordPress screenshot

You’ll want to update the details here.

Make sure it is https://

Site Settings – you can change these later so don’t get caught up on what to write.

Admin Account – make note of these, or change them to your liking. I always change the Username to something that is unique to me and that I can remember. You can also change the email address. Make note of the password you used.

Click Install

Setup WordPress screenshot

This is what you’ll see after clicking Install.

Setup WordPress screenshot

When it is finished, click on your Administrative URL. This is the URL you will get VERY familiar with. It is how you access the back end of your site to post blogs.

Setup WordPress screenshot

 

Step 5 – Get Familiar with WordPress

Think of WordPress as the operating system of your website.

You could easily operate a Microsoft computer using commands, but instead there is an operating system called Windows that makes it easy to navigate to your programs and the internet.

That is what WordPress is. It’s the operating system of your blog. It allows you to easily manage the backend of your website. Without it, you would need to understand crazy complicated code that frankly isn’t necessary to learn (unless you want to be a coder).

Familiar with WordPress Dashboard

Here is what your WordPress home screen will look like. Take a moment to get familiar with it.

Your blog posts will be posted under POSTS.

MEDIA is where you will upload your images.

PAGES are for things like your Home page, About Me, Contact – it’s for the static pages you won’t be touching much after you set them up.

APPEARANCE is where you’ll adjust the design of your blog and upload themes you may purchase.

PLUGINS is to extend the functionality of your WordPress site. There are plugins for the front side (the pretty designed side people see when they come to your website) or for the backend (giving you additional features than what you see already there.)

USERS – you can add people to access your website. More than likely you won’t be using this unless you hire VAs or something similar.

TOOLS – you won’t be using that much either. If you do use TOOLs, it will be for a very specific reason and you’ll have instructions on what to do.

SETTINGS – let’s review this now.

Familiar with WordPress Settings

There are a few things I want you to adjust that will make your website/blog function that much better.

General – is where you can update/change the name of your site and its description

Familiar with WordPress Permalinks

Permalinks – I want you to go in and change the Common Settings to Post Name. This is extremely important for SEO purposes.

 

Step 6 – Designing Your Blog

Now that you are familiar with the backend of WordPress website, you are probably wondering how do people make such pretty websites?

Well, this is the fun part!

Designing a website has never been easier. There are plenty of tools out there available to help you get your blog up and running quickly and have it looking professional.

My advice is to first write out the content you want on your pillar pages. These are the pages that are not technically part of your blog. They will become part of your blog navigation.

The four I recommend writing right now are:

  • Your About Me Page (see my template here)
  • Your Home Page (this is a great article by HubSpot that breaks down the features of a great homepage. Since you are starting out, do NOT get stuck because you will not have everything yet.)
  • Your Contact Me Page (use a form from your Email Service Provider and plug in the code they give you for this page.)
  • Your Privacy Policy Page (here’s a free generator)
  • Optional: Your Work With Me Page (if you plan to offer consulting or other services)

Once you have your pillar page content written, it’s time to figure out the design.

You have FOUR options when it comes to designing your blog.

  1. Download a free WordPress theme.
  2. Purchase a WordPress Theme.
  3. Buy a drag and drop visual builder for your blog.
  4. Hire a professional designer to design a theme for your WordPress Blog.

Before I go into detail with each option, there are a few basic features you’ll want to make sure your theme/template/framework offers.

  1. Responsive Design – this means the theme will resize automatically depending on if you are checking it from an iPad, smart phone, laptop or desktop computer.
  2. Simple Navigation – don’t confuse your visitors!
  3. A Primary Call to Action – where do you want people to go after reading your blog post or visiting your homepage

Now let’s go over each of your options in more detail:

 

Option 1 – Download a Free WordPress Theme

Go to https://justfreethemes.com/ to browse the free themes available today.

These themes are great for someone on a budget just starting out. Just keep in mind, you will most likely upgrade to a paid theme at some point since the functionality of free themes can be very limiting.

If you decide to go with a free theme, do NOT spend day and night looking for the best theme. Just pick one after a quick search and get to work!

 

Option 2 – Purchase a WordPress Theme

If you can afford a small investment into the design of your website, the Avada Theme is what I recommend. This theme is the most popular theme out there. It only costs $60 and meets all of the parameters laid out here for you.

Avada Theme Features

You can purchase it from Theme Forest here.

 

Option 3 – Purchase a Drag & Drop Visual Builder to Build your Own Blog Design

If you want more freedom in the way your blog is laid out, I highly recommend a drag and drop visual builder. This is the “What you see is what you get” way of designing and is becoming very popular. They take just a little bit of getting used to, but gives you a wider range of features without the need to understand CSS (what websites are coded with).

I personally recommend the Divi Builder as the best Drag and Drop Visual Builder on the market.

Divi Theme Features

The neat thing about Divi, is you can upload premade layouts and then customize them to your liking. There are actually quite a few free layouts you can find out there that are very stylish.

Here are free layout packs I found for you. You can use these after you purchase the Divi Builder:

https://elegantmarketplace.com/downloads/kriar-creative/

https://elegantmarketplace.com/downloads/charity-divi-united/

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/divi-resources/download-an-amazing-free-divi-business-layout-pack

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/divi-resources/stunning-free-divi-layout-pack-for-travel-websites

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/divi-resources/5-websites-to-find-free-divi-layout-packs

https://www.divilayouts.com/divi-layouts-category/free-divi-layouts/

There are 2 additional plugins you can purchase with your Divi Builder that will make customizing your blog a breeze.

These are:

Divi Booster Plugin – https://elegantmarketplace.com/downloads/divi-booster/

Divi Switch Plugin – https://divi.space/product/divi-switch/

In addition, there are 2 Facebook Groups with a plethora of experts in them who can help answer any of your Divi related questions.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiviHelpAndShare/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiviThemeUsers/

 

Option 4 – Hire a Professional Designer

Your final option is to hire a professional web designer. They will work with you to determine exactly what the purpose of your blog is and work to design a great looking website that can serve you well for many years to come.

 

Step 7 – Plugins are a MUST on a WordPress site

I highly recommend you install the following plugins on your website. I only recommend 4 paid plugins; the rest are free.

The paid plugins help with the security of your website and the conversion aspect of your website (i.e. driving traffic and making money!)

I could write an entirely different post explaining these plugins to you. Just suffice to say that they are a must to help you with your WordPress’ functionality, security, and building a profitable blog.

Free Plugins: You can Google them!

Tiny PING (Free)

Pretty Links (Free version)

WPS Hide Login (free)

Yoast SEO (free) Note: You’ll want to set up Google Analytics too.

Yoast will help you with this or do a quick YouTube search.

Duplicate Post (free)

Akismet Anti-Spam (free)

W3 Total Cache (free)

 

Secure your Blog – don’t lose all of your hard work!

iThemes Security Pro (paid) $80/year

BackupBuddy (paid) $80/year

 

Get your Blog to Convert!

Premium Social Warfare

Share your blog posts all over the web and allow others to share them as well.

Eventually you may want to consider:

ThriveLeads (paid) or OptinMonster(paid)

Build your mailing list even faster from your website

 

Step 8: Get to writing!

Keep in mind, your blog will ALWAYS be a work in progress. This is where you need to remember the old saying “Progress over Perfection!” Don’t fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. It’s always better to throw it out there and clean it up later. You can always edit, change, improve, and tweak.

Remember, keep writing! Keep writing on the niche topic that you’ve chosen and be consistent. Pick a day or two a week that you will post a new blog post and commit to it. Consistency IS the key.

Tina will be teaching you how to zero in on your niche, drive traffic to your blog, create an overarching strategy for your blog, create compelling copy, and most importantly MAKE MONEY from your blog.

You’re in good hands for ALL of that with Tina!

Now get to it! 😉

But before I go…here’s one more BONUS TIP:

If you would like to obtain license and royalty free images for your new blog, go to Pexels.com

Have fun!

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