How to Start Blogging ?
Want to start blogging but don’t know where to start ?
By the time you finish reading this page you will know of several ways to start blogging.
Why should you follow this guide while there are so many guides like this available on the internet ?
I know there are other guides and I have read most of them. These guides mostly end up promoting a specific product usually a web hosting package. They lack in providing a fair in depth guide for a newbie to start blogging. The guides usually persuade people to get a paid hosting from the start but contain little or no information on how to start blogging for free.
Most of them tell people of the advantages of starting a blog on a paid hosting, which I agree there are many, but what if someone wants to start off on a free platform to check out if blogging is worth his/her time or just to check out if blogging on free platforms is really full of restrictions.
I will dive in to the paid vs. free hosting debate later for now let’s just start talking about the real purpose of writing this post.
There are a few things that you need to know and do before you can start a blog.
1. Decide Your Blog Topic
This is one of the most important things to do when starting a blog. The topic that you are going to blog about, normally referred to as the niche of your blog, plays an important role in the success of your blogging career.
You should choose a niche which you are passionate, interested and enjoy writing about. Choose a niche about which you have a fair amount of knowledge and about which you can write for a long time.
The first blog that I started was about making money online but over time I lost interest in the topic and eventually ended up abandoning the blog. So it is really important to pick a niche which you are not going to give up on any time soon.
You need to choose a very specific niche with low competition if you want to make your blog a success in 2014.
What do I mean by a specific niche ?
Let’s assume you want to start a blog about games. Games is a very wide niche, there are PC games, mobile games, XBOX games and various other games. Which games exactly do you want to write about in the start ? You cannot cover all the areas on your own and right from the start.
A good choice would be to make PC games your blog topic. But there are so many types of PC games first person shooter, fantasy , racing etc. Now you can be more specific about your topic, for instance you can start a blog on racing games for pc.
You see how I narrowed down a wide niche to a more specific one. Try this for your niche as well.
How do I check the Competition ?
Let’s assume you want to start a blog about the topic from the previous example “racing games for pc”. Now in order to check the competition all you have to do is to search for the words in Google.
Pay close attention to the first few search results, check if the websites
- contain the keyword in the title
- contain the keyword in the URL
- has more than 100 pages with comments on them.
If the websites passes all the checks then they are some solid competition. I am not saying that you won’t be able or rank over them. You will just have to work a little extra hard to make your way up to the number one spot.
If the website is missing a couple of checks above then they are not much of a competition. With just some simple SEO and quality content you can rank above those sites.
2. Choose a Blogging Platform
I am going to start this section by telling the platform I am using.
I am using WordPress as a blogging platfrom.
Why am I using WordPress ?
- It is free to use.
- Over 2500 free and hundreds of premium layouts and themes to use.
- Over 30000 free plugins to add more functionality to your website.
- Easy to use interface.
- Ability to post new articles, create pages, insert images and moderate comments with ease.
I could keep on writing the advantages and features of WordPress all day and it still won’t be enough. Just to show you the popularity of WordPress let me tell you that many popular websites are running on WordPress which include Time.com, Sony Music, Fortune and many more. You can see the entire showcase on their website.
WordPress might be free to use and download but you will need a Web hosting and a Domain to set up a WordPress website.
Now let’s talk about other free blogging platforms with which you can setup a blog without a Web hosting and a Domain.
These blogging platforms include blogger.com, tumblr.com, webs.com and even WordPress has a free blogging platform wordpress.com. You can read short reviews about these platforms at How to start a blog for free ?
Just to clear any confusions there are two WordPress websites wordpress.com and wordpress.org. You can download the script from wordpress.org and install it on a web hosting/server where as you can sign up for a free blog on wordpress.com where it is set up for you automatically on a sub domain.
You don’t need to set up or install something if you decide to use one of the free blogging platforms mentioned in the link above. All you need to do is sing up to their websites and choose a unique name for your blog and you are done.
Yes, that’s it you are done they setup the blog automatically for you but there are a few things to note before you create a blog with them.
- You will get a sub domain such as “yoursite.blogger.com” or “yoursite.wordpress.com” depending on what platform you choose.
- A limited number of layouts and themes available.
- You don’t have much control over your blog.
- You get very limited amount of disk space to host your files.
- Your blog can be deleted for violation of their terms.
- You can’t earn money from blogging. Even if you do you only earn a piece of it.
If you are looking to start a blog and you are pretty serious about it and want people to take you seriously I would recommend you to go with WordPress, a Paid Hosting and your own .com domain to set up your blog. If you want to know more about WordPress you can check out my WordPress review.
On the other hand if you are looking to blog as a hobby or if you don’t feel like paying for the hosting from the start you can use one of the free blogging services mentioned in the link and move to a paid hosting later on.
3. Choose a Domain and Hosting
Decided to go with a paid hosting and your own domain for your blog. Good Decision.
You will need to choose both of these wisely.
How much does it cost ?
A domain costs around $10-$14 and a year and hosting costs around $4-$7 a month. That means the maximum both of these can cost combined is $100. It can cost a lot less if you buy the hosting for a longer period of time. The longer you buy it the cheaper it gets.
Choosing a Domain
Choosing a domain can be hard. When choosing a domain you should make sure that the Domain is short, catchy and easy to remember.
Let’s continue our example from above of the Racing Games for PC and think of a few good and bad domain names for it.
You should pick a name that is easy to remember and not too long, a good domain name for our example blog from above would be www.pcgamer.com or www.racinggamer.com. Choosing a domain like www.best-racing-games-pc.com is not a good idea because one it is hard to remember and two it sounds spammy.
People are less likely to click on a domain in search results that is long and sounds spammy. So go for a shorter, brandable and cool domain.
Finding a domain is not going to be easy as most of the good domains you might want are already taken. So it will take a little extra effort to find the right domain for your blog.
If you are looking to become an authority, someone to whom people look for advice and information, in a given niche you could try to use your own name as your domain such as www.carlsmith.com.
Choosing a Web Hosting
Choosing the right web hosting is as tough as choosing the right domain.
There are so many hosting companies on the internet each having its own price for a basic package which ranges from $4/month – $7/month.
I have used a few hosting websites and what I have found from experience is that you just need to be lucky and you will have your website placed on a good server.
No matter what web hosting company you search for on Google you are going to find a few negative reviews about it. The thing is web hosting companies are running a number of servers and it is highly unlikely that all the servers are performing equally at all given times. Some might be old and some might be new. You just need to be lucky to get your website hosted on one of the new shiny servers.
The main thing you should look for in a web hosting is the price and the features they offer.
Most (almost all of them) provide the famous WordPress one click installation where you can automatically install WordPress from within their Cpanel in under 5 minutes.
Some web hosting companies offer you to host more domains on the same account. Some offer more disk space and bandwidth then others. You just need to pick the one which best fits your needs.
The web hosting that I prefer to use is Bluehost. They offer unlimited space, unlimited domains, 24/7 support for as low as $3.95/month. If you choose to use them for a year it would cost $5.95/month which includes one free domain.
4. Installing WordPress
It finally comes down to installing WordPress on your web hosting server. If you are using a web hosting such as Bluehost that offer the one click, the famous 5 minute, installation of WordPress then you can watch the video by Website Techies below to install it in a matter of minutes.
On the other hand if you have decided to go with a cheap or free web hosting that does not allows you to use the auto installer or does not has this feature you will have to install it manually. Don’t worry it is not as hard as it sounds. Just follow the simple steps listed at How to Install WordPress Manually.
If you get confused or stuck at a step during the process feel free to contact me through the contact form and I will help you out. Make sure you write “How to start blogging” as the subject of your email.
5. What’s Next ?
You have successfully installed WordPress so what’s next. I have created a list of 10 things to do After Installing WordPress. You should also read the WordPress beginner tutorials in the WordPress section which include installing a themes and plugins.
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