Have you been thinking about starting a blog but don’t know how to start? I launched The Thriving Lady with no prior knowledge of starting a blog and am here to tell you that it is not as difficult as it seems. Read on for the 5 easy steps I took to start a THRIVING blog!
In early 2018, I decided to put my love of writing to work by starting a blog. I was already working from home, so I figured blogging would be a perfect way to potentially increase my income, while satisfying my creative side.
Although I had a vague idea of what a blog was, I had no idea what went into setting one up. I was totally clueless!
As someone who lives on a budget, I wanted to start blogging as frugally as possible. So, I decided to start my blog for free on Blogger, Google’s blogging platform. Take a look at my first blog set up.
Although I prefer the look of my blog today to the image above, I give myself credit for getting out there and trying. Many people allow their fear of failure to hold them back, especially when it comes to investing their hard-earned cash.
If fear is keeping you from starting a blog, I would like to help put you at ease by sharing 5 easy steps that I implemented to start this blog.
Step # 1 Brainstorm Your Niche
Before you start, you’ll want to have an idea of what kind of blog you want to create.
If you’ve been researching starting a blog, you may have seen the word niche floating around. Your niche includes the audience and/or topic of your blog.
To determine your niche, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who do I want to help with my blog?
- What kinds of concerns or issues does she have?
- Is she a single mom trying to raise her kids on a budget?
- A new graduate with student loan debt and no plan for paying it off?
- What am I so passionate about that I could write about it everyday?
While it is important to have a general idea of your audience and topic, you should avoid getting stuck on this step.
As you become more comfortable writing, you may discover that you enjoying writing about some topics more than others. This is normal; it is highly likely that your blog’s focus will change at various points in your journey.
Now, let’s talk about the action items you’ll need to tackle to get your blog up and running!
Step # 2 Choose A Domain & Web Hosting Service
Your blog’s domain name is how people will reference and search for your blog. It is contained within your blog’s web address. My domain name is the thriving lady, and my web address is https://www.thethrivinglady.com.
Although the domain name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your blog, it is important to avoid over thinking it.
A blog’s domain can be as simple as your first and last name. It can also be clever, but not so unique that only you know what it means. Amy Lynn Andrews’ article on how to choose a domain name provides a clear guide for you to follow.
Once you choose your domain name, you’ll need to register it with a domain name registrar.
My Domain Registrar Choice: Namecheap
I decided to go with Namecheap for my domain registration. Here are some of their benefits:
- Affordable – I registered with a promo code and paid $10 for my first year.
- Easy to register and renew. I would suggest using their auto renew feature so you won’t forget to renew. If you don’t re-register, your domain name will be available for anyone to take it!
- Easy-to-navigate account page
- WhoIsGuard privacy protection is free forever. Keeps spammers and scam artists from having your contact information that is made public when you register a domain.
My Web Hosting Choice: SiteGround
Once you have your domain name registered, you’ll need to sign up for web hosting services.
A web hosting service manages the servers that run your blog. The host is basically where your blog lives and where all of its content is safely stored.
For your web hosting needs, I highly recommend SiteGround! I have been using SiteGround since I started my blog and couldn’t be happier with them. They have amazing customer service and support, which I definitely needed when I started.
Benefits Of Hosting With SiteGround
- 3 Options To Choose From
- StartUp – Perfect if you’re just starting and need basic hosting services
- GrowBig – My Personal Choice! Great if you are considering starting multiple blogs or desire more features
- GoGeek – Good choice if you can afford to splurge or if you need advanced functionality for your website
- 24/7 Support
- Free website transfer with GrowBig and GoGeek plans
- Automatically adds free Let’s Encrypt SSL to your website for added security
- Amazing customer service!
Now that you’ve chosen your niche, domain name, and host, let’s dive into choosing your blog’s platform.
Step # 3 Choose A Blogging Platform
Free vs. Self-Hosted
A blogging platform is the place where your blog content will be published for the world to enjoy.
Although I decided rather quickly to leave the free Google platform, Blogger, for a self-hosted option (more on that below), Blogger is an option for someone interested in blogging as a hobby.
Note: If you are a hobby blogger and choose to go with a free option like Blogger, hosting is included.
I honestly would not recommend Blogger or any free website builder if you plan to turn your blog into an income-producing side hustle or business. Your options for monetizing your blog will be very limited, and you won’t have as much control over your blog and its content. We’ll talk about making money with blogging in a future post.
My Platform Choice: WordPress.org
After researching the benefits of having a self-hosted blog, I decided to make the switch from my free Blogger blog to a self-hosted blog with WordPress.org.
WordPress.org (also called ‘self-hosted WordPress’) is an open source content management system that allows you to create, edit, and publish your blog content. Downloading the WordPress.org software is free.
The hosting service (see above) and WordPress.org work together to make your blog available for readers to enjoy.
Note: Although WordPress.com and WordPress.org are run by the same parent company, they are quite different. Here’s an article explaining the difference between the two.
Benefits of WordPress.org
- With WordPress.org, you own your blog. With Blogger, your blog and its content belong to Google
- WordPress.org offers more creative control with endless blog customization options. Blogger has a good number of templates, but they lack variety and are
impossibledifficult to customize.
- Unlike Blogger, there’s little chance of your blog being deleted without notice (unless you’re doing something illegal!). With Blogger, your blog could be shut down at any time for any Google violations.
Note: SiteGround offers a great tutorial on setting up WordPress.org with their hosting services.
Another benefit of WordPress is that they offer lots of theme options to make your blog look amazing. Let’s talk more about deciding on your blog’s theme.
Step #4 Choose Your Theme & Starter Plug-Ins
Your theme will determine how your blog appears to the world! It includes design elements such as fonts, colors, graphics…all of the things that make it visually appealing.
While it is important that your blog is attractive to draw readers in, you should also know that it is highly likely that your blog’s aesthetic will change as you evolve in your blogging journey. I would not advise starting with expensive theme options, especially if you end up changing it after a few weeks or months into blogging.
To save money and time, I decided to start with a free WordPress theme that I later upgraded to the premium version, Ashe Blog by WP Royal.
My Theme Choice: Ashe Blog by WP Royal
Benefits of Ashe Blog Pro Theme
- Affordable – I paid $35 for a 1 time license, no renewals needed
- Perfect for blogs – minimalist design makes your posts stand out
- Save time with 1 click import of stunning pre-made layouts if you don’t want to build your own
- Responsive – ensures your blog looks great on mobile, which is how most readers will view your blog’s content
- Hundreds of Google font options – lots of options to choose the perfect fonts to represent your brand
Here’s a look at the Ashe Pro customization panel. Notice all of the options to the left of the images to give you an idea of how you can customize your blog with Ashe Pro:
Plug-Ins are like apps that you download to your smartphone. They are extras that give your self-hosted blog more functionality. Here are a few recommended plug-ins you’ll want to get started:
- Akismet Anti-Spam – catches spam comments before they are posted in your blog’s comment section
- Google Analytics for WordPress – allows you to track your blog’s traffic and performance
- SG Optimizer – works only with SiteGround and ensures that your blog is performing at an optimal level
- UpdraftPlus Backup Restore – makes backing up your blog content simple
- Yoast SEO – helps you to rank higher in search results when someone is searching for topics that you write about on your blog
Note: When adding plug-ins, pay attention to last date they were updated and also the number of installations to ensure that you aren’t adding an outdated, rarely installed plug-in that could affect your blog’s performance.
Step # 5 Write Good, Quality Content Consistently
Writing high-quality content on a consistent basis is, in my opinion, one of the most important things you can do in your blogging journey.
High-quality content is thoughtful, straightforward, and provides solutions to your readers’ problems. It also involves writing with integrity, authority, and competence.
A good example of this is writing a detailed post describing the features and benefits of a product you’ve been using. This is very important when you start partnering with brands to promote products: you never want to write a haphazard post with little indication that you’ve actually used the product you’re promoting.
Consistency involves writing on a regular basis. It is different from frequency in that it is not necessarily about how often you write. For example, if you start out publishing 3 posts a week, then drop down to 2, then 1 a week, your blogging has become inconsistent. Try to set a publishing schedule and stick to it.
Get Your Blog Up And Running Today!
I hope you found this 5-step guide helpful for setting up your blog.
With all of the resources above, there is no better time than now to make your blogging dreams a reality. I have been truly blessed by all of the amazing things I’ve learned on my blogging journey. Stay tuned for more tips, resources, and blogging motivation to come!
Tell me, are you considering starting a blog? What niche ideas have you come up with?
Let’s discuss below!