How to Start a Blog

If you’re looking for an outlet to express your ideas, a place to share your creative talents, or simply a way to make extra money while sharing your expertise, a blog is a great solution.

The below guide will take you through creating a blog using my preferred (and current) Web Hosting provider and Content Management System (CMS). My first attempt at blogging in 2009 was a personally thrilling experience, yet one filled with technical frustrations, particularly due to my choice of web host and CMS which was not catered to bloggers. Having the right combination of web host and CMS enables you to enjoy your blogging experience without the technical side of blogging being a hurdle, especially if you have little technical ability like I do.  I’m glad to have gotten my Web Host and CMS combination right this time around – I’m very pleased with how Money Pebbles has turned out since launching in June 2016. Let’s get you started with your very own blog as well.

Select a Web Host

A Web host provides a “home” for your website. By “home” I mean a place (server) for your website files to be stored and your site to be accessed by anyone on the web, at anytime. Selecting a reliable web host is critical, since you will always want to your website to be accessible to both to yourself and to your visitors. A reliable web host will ensure that your website is always accessible, even in times of heavy traffic provided you purchase a package appropriate for your traffic needs.

In searching for the best web host for my second attempt at creating a blog, I consistently heard great things about Bluehost. After a year of using their services, I can confirm that Bluehost is a great option. Their customer service team is super responsive (they quickly restored my site when I put in bad code twice), and their web and email tools are perfect for my needs.

To get started, go to Bluehost.com and choose a hosting package. I currently use a basic package which has been just fine for my hosting and traffic needs. I suggest also starting at a basic package. You can always upgrade later as your site grows.

Select a Domain Name

Next you’ll need to select a domain name. This is one of the most exciting and tension filled parts of the blog creation process, since your domain name will represent you in perpetuity. Choose carefully!

To help you, here are a few tips for selecting the perfect domain name, based on my process for selecting www.moneypebbles.com:

• Choose a name that clearly represents what your blog is about. The primary focus of this blog is how to grow your money. Therefore, “money” is in the name of the blog.

• Make sure your site name is unique. There may be hundreds or even thousands of sites that already exist within your chosen niche. You’ll need to differentiate yourself from the rest. I chose to include “pebbles” in my domain name because I have a personal story behind it and not many other blogs have pebbles in their domain name.

• Make sure your domain name is not too long. You don’t want to burden people with having to remember or type in a long domain name. Moneypebbles.com works just as well as “moneypebblesfinancialblog.com”.

• Opt for a .com extension. A .com extension will immediately add credibility to your site. To protect your domain name further, you can also secure other extensions such as .net, .us, and .org, but make your primary site extension .com.

You can use the domain name checker below to see if your domain name options are available. Play around until you find the perfect one!

Select Your Hosting Options

After choosing your hosting package and domain name, you’ll be able to choose among a set of hosting options which includes opting for site back-up services (site back-up will be critical, especially as your site grows, but you may want to explore free options via WordPress plugins first) and the option to register your domain privately, which simply means that no one will be able to connect your name with your domain name through a domain lookup tool such as whois.com.

Choose what’s right for you to complete the purchase process.

Install WordPress

Congrats! You now have a blog! You’ll now need some type of Content Management System to easily manage your blog, which includes your theme, all code, graphics, and your overall content. Thankfully, Bluehost easily connects with a great CMS that is widely used by both bloggers and well established companies: WordPress.

Here are the steps to easily install WordPress once you are logged into your Bluehost account:

1. Click on the “Hosting” tab and select the “Install WordPress” icon under the website section.

 

2. Select the domain that you registered and click “Next”

 

3. Select a Site Name (can be the same as your domain name), the email address to which your Admin should be tied, an Admin Username (can be any name that you choose), and an Admin password.

4. Click “Next” and continue with the installation through completion. Upon successful installation, log into the WordPress Dashboard

File:dashboard.png

Choose a Theme For Your Site

Once you are logged into the WordPress Dashboard, you will be able to choose a theme for your site. If you’re looking to get started quickly with something simple, you can navigate to the “Appearance” tab on the left-hand task bar, followed by clicking the “Themes” tab under the Appearance menu. Here you will be able to test out a number of free themes.

If you have a specific style in mind or are looking for more robust features, you can navigate to the “Marketplace” tab instead and select Themes from the Marketplace menu. Here you will be able to choose from a number of paid themes at cost of either USD 49 or USD 59.

I also suggest checking out the paid themes available from Theme Forest. I recently bought a site theme for my Wife through Theme Forest and was pleased with the results.

Last, for ultra customization flexibility, check out the Genesis Framework by StudioPress. While I’ve never used the Genesis framework, there are many bloggers and well established sites that do use it, making it one of the most popular themes on the web.

Once you’ve purchased your theme, navigate back to the Themes section under the Appearance tab and use the Upload button at the top of the Themes page to upload your theme zip file.

What Do I Do Next?

Here are some recommended actions and resources to help speed up your blogging process:

• Take some time to get familiar with your WordPress Dashboard. Documentation for the WP Dashboard can be found hereOtherwise, just play around and see what’s available and where.

• The beauty of using WordPress is the flexibility you’ll have in customizing your blog with little or no coding knowledge necessary. Much of this flexibility is made possible through the use of Plugins. You can learn more about what a Plugin is here and how to install them here.

• Widgets are another great way to customize your blog without coding knowledge. Widgets are simply small sections or blocks of your website used to display specific content or carry out a specific function such as a calendar, list of recently added posts, or your twitter feed. Learn more about Widgets here and how to install and use them here.

• Adding photos and graphics to your posts is a good way to make your content a bit more engaging. Everyone likes a wall better when there is a picture on it, right? My go-to site for FREE stock photos is Pixabay. This site has a great selection of photos that have pretty good quality for a free site.

• You may want to edit your photos as well. Thankfully, you no longer need to purchase Adobe Photoshop for quality editing. Instead, I use Canva to edit images for blog or social media use.

Enjoy your new site and the beautiful process of blogging. Be sure to write me to let me know how blogging is treating you. I’m sure you’ll pick up some hacks along the way that will help me out as well.

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