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How to Start Your Own Blog

We know how confusing it is to get started, so we have compiled an easy STEP-BY-STEP process for you to follow to start your own blog. If you ever have a question along the way, don’t hesitate to contact us. We enjoy helping others start their own blog.

STEP 1 – Find a Web Hosting Company to Work with

What is a web host?

A Web Host is a company that is going to manage all of the files that keep your site running. They store all of your information on servers. By doing so, it keeps your site accessible to those who want to visit it. If you get a bad company, you may have long and frequent periods of outages, where your site is unavailable. This is why selecting the right web host is important.

Which Web Host do We Use?

In case you are curious, this site and other blogs that we manage are maintained by BluehostThey are a large company and have been reliable for us. Since it’s creation, this site has only been unavailable for a couple minutes. Talk about a great service record!

Why You Should Consider Bluehost

Not only has blue host been a great company to work with, but they have several other advantages over the competitors, from my perspective.

  • Great Customer Service
  • Easy to Contact – If something ever goes wrong you can call or chat with a support person at any time of the day. Very few web hosts offer chat support.
  • Intuitive Interface – If you are worried about whether you will be able to figure out how to navigate on their system, it’s one of the most intuitive systems that I have seen. In other words, easy to navigate, even for a beginner.
  • One Click Installation of WordPress – One thing a beginner shouldn’t have to focus on is installing wordpress manually. With bluehost, you click a couple buttons and it does it for you. It really is that easy.

Other Great Hosts

In case you want to shop around, here are a few other web hosts that I recommend:

HostGator

  • Use this coupon code: “newblogtoday”, and Save 25% off from your hosting!
  • This is a very affordable option and if you’re worried about your site being down, they provide an 99.9% uptime guarantee.
  • Many other bloggers swear by this web host, but I don’t find it as easy to navigate as bluehost.

Nuts and Bolts Web Hosting

  • This company is managed by a good friend of mine, who has helped me with various technical issues with many of my sites.
  • If you are looking for more of a personal touch and the best customer service at a reasonable rate, check it out.

STEP 2 – Determine the Domain You want to Purchase

While some people would say you should do this step first, I find it is easier to figure out where you want to host your site first. Then, once you have that decision made, you can start looking at available domains. Here are a few things to consider before buying your domain:

  • You want popular keywords in your domain; you can use this keywords tool to help figure out what keywords are trending in search engines
  • Make sure it matches the purpose of the site. If it is meant to be professional, make it professional. If it is more of a personal site, feel free to make it personal. People will have a reaction to your site based on its domain.
  • Not too narrow, but not too broad of a topic – While specific niche sites generally rank better in search engines, you also have to balance it with how much content you can write for the subject. If you can’t write out 20 post titles right now, take a minute to reconsider your domain.

STEP 3 – Install WordPress

After successfully purchasing your domain and signing up for a web host, you need to install wordpress. If you signed up for Bluehostthen you have it easy. Bluehost offers the ability to install wordpress in a matter of 2-3 minutes. I will be uploading a tutorial video soon.

STEP 4 – Find and Install a Theme that Works for You

One of the first things you need to do after installing wordpress is find the theme that works for you. There are hundreds of free themes and just as many premium themes (themes that cost money). If you want more guidance, I will also be uploading another tutorial on how to install a theme soon. Below are a few that I know of and recommend:

Free Themes

Atahualpa – This is a free theme that I used to use for this site. It offers tons of options and is relatively easy to use. It is great for a beginner blogger.

Paid for Themes:

Thesis – This theme has an initial cost, but it really looks sweet! It’s what all the big dogs use for their sites.

Headway – This is also a great theme to use. It is the theme that this site is currently managed with and is very user friendly. It doesn’t require any code.

 STEP 5 – Optimize WordPress

When I started out, it took me weeks to figure out everything I needed to do. I researched, I looked at other bloggers and spent way too many hours figuring it all out. Now, I have simplified the process for you. Here’s a list of things you should do before writing your first post (it can also be found on the Comprehensive New Blogger FAQ:

  • Change your permalinks from the standard (in WordPress)
  • Change your time zone in wordpress
  • Create a new user (with different username than admin). Login with the new username and then delete the admin account.
  • Add all the standard pages (see below for list)
  • Create your header. Use http://www.freewebpageheaders.com/ and customize it with http://www.bannerfans.com/banner_maker.php . You may end up changing this later, but an image is important to have. Using this image to create a square image that you can use as your avatar. Create one by going to gravatar.com.
  • Install plugins (see below for suggested list). You can add plugins later, but it is nice to get this out of the way.
  • Create facebook page and twitter account. Your twitter handle should be similar to your blog name and easy to remember.
  • Create a feedburner RSS account

Helpful WordPress Plug-ins

When you initially set up your site, it’s going to be pretty basic. Here are the plug-ins that I use for my site to make it more personable and profitable!

If you are unsure how to download the plug-ins with the links I have provided, you can always go into your WordPress Plug-ins, “Add New”, and search the exact name I have provided. Then you can just click, “Install Now”.

Fast Secure Contact Form – If you want your readers (or potential advertisers) to be able to contact you via a contact form, this is the best one that I have found.

Simple Google Sitemap XML generates a valid Google XML sitemap, which can then be used with Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Tweet, Like, Google +1, and Share – this is an awesome plug-in that allows people to Tweet, Like, or Google +1 your posts!

WordPress SEO – This plug-in really boosts your Search Engine Optimization and you’ll almost immediately see your Google Search traffic increase.

Thank Me Later – This is a great plug-in that automatically sends an email to your commenters! Make sure that you set it up to only send an email to newcomers though, otherwise it just gets annoying for repeat commenters.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin  – if you are receiving a ton of spam comments, this plug-in will eliminate nearly all of those simply by adding a check-box below your comment window. Your commenters will just have to check the box to prove they aren’t a spam-bot. I like this plug-in way better than Captcha because I think it’s less annoying for my readers.

CommentLuv – other bloggers like to have their latest posts shown when they comment on your site. It’s a good incentive for them to comment. This plug-in does just that.

Broken Link Checker – This plug-in monitors all of the links in your site. Having links that go nowhere can hurt your reputation and annoy readers.

Quick Adsense – If you are interested in posted adsense in all of your posts without copying and pasting your adsense code into each and every post, use this plug-in to add it as a batch.

Limit Login Attempts – This is a great security feature to have. It limits the number of login attempts that anyone can have. It is easy to customize and you can set it up to send you email notifications each time someone has been trying to log in to your site.

If you have any additional questions about a blog start-up, send us an email through our Contact Form. Then we can help you out right away and potentially add some more info here for the next person that has the same question!