Aside from getting questions about my upcoming adventure in Korea, I’ve also gotten a few inquiries about how I started this blog.
I googled everything.
But I know that’s not helpful at all. Although Google has the answer to most (if not all) of your questions, it can take a lot of time to sift through all the information. So to help you out, I’ve created this guide for you. Hopefully, this will save us both time. You will save time from not having to search through all the information on Google, and I will save time from not having to explain the same process multiple times. It’s a WIN-WIN situation! 🙂
First, you need to figure out your objective for starting a blog. Why? Because there are two main ways of going at this, and the path you choose will depend on your end goal.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who do I plan on sharing my blog with?
- If you want to start a blog for your personal use (ex. online diary), proceed to step 2.
- If you want to start a blog to share with mainly family and friends, proceed to step 2.
- If you want to start a blog you hope will amass a large readership outside your circle of family and friends, proceed to step 3.
- Do I hope to make money from my blog?
- If your answer is “no”, proceed to step 2.
- If your answer is “yes”, proceed to step 3.
- How much money am I willing to spend on my blog?
- If your answer is “little to no money at all”, proceed to step 2.
- If your answer is “as much as it takes to look professional”, proceed to step 3.
- Would I rather save myself time and hire someone else to start my blog for me?
- If your answer is “no”, proceed to step 2 or 3.
- If your answer is “yes”, proceed to step 4.
Alright, so if you’re at this step, I’m going to assume you just want to start a blog for fun. I’m also going to assume you don’t plan on sharing your blog with a lot of people. Maybe you just want to dip your toes in the world of blogging without spending a lot of money. This is where I started out when I started blogging in middle school.
Step 2.1 : Pick your blogging platform
Option 1: www.blogger.com
Option 2: www.wordpress.com
Option 3: www.tumblr.com
About 9 years ago, I created my very first blog on Blogger. My first blog was meant to be a semi-personal online journal that I only shared with very close friends. Since then, I’ve created a couple more blogs on this platform. When I was an exchange student in Belgium, I created a blog to keep my family and friends updated on my travels. I created another travel blog after I came back from my exchange year. However, the only blog I still use nowadays on Blogger is my poetry blog.
Setting up a blog on Blogger is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to create a Google account if you don’t already have one.
Your second option is to use WordPress. I created my very first blog on WordPress about 3 years ago for my “Electronic Communications” course in college. Since then, I’ve totally converted to WordPress! It’s an amazing platform for blogging.
As with Blogger, creating a blog on WordPress is quite simple. I’m not going to walk you through the process of setting up a blog because Blogger and WordPress already do a good job of guiding you through the steps. The whole process of setting up your blog shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.
Your third option is Tumblr. I’ve never blogged with Tumblr, so I can’t give you much advice if you’re wanting to go this route.
Step 2.2 : Style your blog
Once you have your blog set up, you can start styling it with free templates/themes. However, if you don’t really care for styling your blog, then just jump to step 2.3.
Step 2.3 : Write your first post
Err, this is pretty self-explanatory. Write about anything your heart desires.
Step 2.4 : Optional step for WordPress users
Since your blog is hosted on either of these platforms for free, your URL will end with .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. If you’ve created a blog on WordPress, you can register a domain name for $18/year.
For example, my website used to be: www.jasminewin.wordpress.com
A few months later, I wanted my own domain name. So, I paid WordPress $18 to secure www.jasminewin.com.
My blog was still hosted on WordPress, but I had my own domain name.
Follow these steps to register your own domain name on WordPress.
If you’ve created your blog on Blogger, you will have to purchase your domain name from a third party.
Voila! That concludes the instructions on starting a free/cheap blog.
Alright, so if you’re at this step, I’m going to assume you want to start a blog that you hope will gain a large readership and that you plan on possibly monetizing in the future. I’m going to also assume that you realize you will have to pay money to start this kind of blog.
Now, the reason why I wanted you to skip step 2 is because it will save you time and money. If you already know that you want a professional blog with your own domain name, then it would make more sense to get the domain name for free with your hosting provider rather than to pay $18 for a domain through WordPress (like I did).
Here are the benefits of following these steps to get your blog hosted:
- Your website will rank better in search engines.
- You will have the ability to sell ad space on your website.
- You will have access to an abundance of plugins.
- You will have full control of your website.
- Your domain URL will be much easier to type because it won’t have the .blogspot.com/.wordpress.com at the end.
Step 3.1: Pick a niche.
The first thing I’d recommend doing is picking a niche. For example, my blog is targeted to people who are interested in both health and travel. That explains why my tagline is “Live Healthy & Travel Often.”
I used to have a fashion blog called “All That’s F.A.B.”, and my tagline was just “(F)ashion (A)nd (B)eauty”.
You could skip this step, but it’ll be a lot easier to attract readers if your blog has a clear focus.
Step 3.2: Choose a domain name
Once you have your niche, you can choose a domain name that represents your niche.
“But Jasmine, then why isn’t your domain name ‘www.jasminelovestobehealthyandtravel.com’?”
When I started this blog, I didn’t want to limit myself to writing about certain topics. Having my domain as just “www.jasminewin.com” allows me to write about whatever I choose. Of course, the downside is that people looking for travel blogs may skip over mine entirely because the domain name doesn’t reflect what this blog is about.
I’ve thought about changing my domain name to “www.jasminewinwanders.com”, but I kind of like the idea of branding myself as “Jasmine Win”.
Step 3.2: Decide on a hosting provider
Alright, so this is where it can get a bit confusing. A host basically provides server space for your site. Think of it as reserving your spot on the internet. If you have a free blog, then it’s hosted on Blogger or WordPress servers. If you want to have full control of your blog, then you’ll need to get it “self-hosted”. The easiest way to do this is by using a third-party hosting provider.
This blog is hosted on SiteGround (affiliate link). I originally chose SiteGround because I read that it provides the best customer support. After having my blog hosted by it for some time, I can honestly confirm this. I’ve chatted with various customer representatives on multiple occasions, and they have always been SO HELPFUL. They will really take their time to help you resolve any issues. I can’t compare my experience with other hosting providers because I’ve only used SiteGround. If you don’t trust me, just do a quick Google search. SiteGround is usually ranked as one of the best hosting providers because of its exceptional support department.
If you don’t want to use SiteGround, I’ve read that BlueHost is another good option.
Step 3.3: Buy your domain and hosting
Most hosting providers will provide you with a free domain for one year if you don’t already have one. Unfortunately, I wasted $18 buying this domain name through WordPress. If you’re going with SiteGround, you will have the option to choose your free domain name when you’re purchasing your hosting plan.
You can also purchase your domain name separately and connect it to your hosting service. I’ve bought a domain name from Namecheap (affiliate link) before. Namecheap also provides hosting, but I’ve never tried it. Since I already bought a domain name from WordPress, I just connected it to my SiteGround hosting service.
I picked SiteGround’s “StartUp” plan, which is its most basic hosting plan. I paid about $47.40 to have my blog hosted for a year.
I will eventually upgrade my plan when my blog grows more.
Step 3.4: Install WordPress
What I love about SiteGround is that it makes installing WordPress a breeze. It literally takes one click to install WordPress on your new website. When you purchase your hosting plan, SiteGround will ask you if you want to install WordPress.
Here are the instructions on installing WordPress if you didn’t opt for the one-click installation when purchasing your hosting plan:
1. Log into your SiteGround account
2. Go to your cPanel & scroll down to “WordPress Tools”
3. Click on the “WordPress Installer”
Step 3.5: Log into your self-hosted WordPress website
To log into your newly self-hosted WP site, just type in:
www.(whatever your domain name is).com/wp-admin/
That will take you to a screen that looks like this:
Step 3.6: Choose a WordPress Theme
Yay! We’re finally to the fun part. Now that you’ve got your blog set up, it’s time to design your blog using a theme. You have two options:
- free themes
- premium themes
To change your theme, go to “Appearance” and then “Themes” in your WP sidebar.
Step 3.7: Add Plugins (optional)
The great thing about having your blog “self-hosted” is that you can add plugins to expand your blog’s capabilities.
Here are some of the plugins I use on my website:
Step 3.8: Start blogging
You’re done setting up! All that’s left to do is to start blogging.
Step 3.9: Submit to search engines (optional)
Now that you have your blog up and running, you may want to increase its visibility on search engines. Here are instructions for submitting your blog to Google:
- Add your URL – Submit your website for inclusion in Google’s index.
- App crawling – Get your app indexed by Google.
- Search Console – Submit a Sitemap of your website to Google.
- Structured data – Label your structured content to help users find pages relevant to their search.
Alright, so if you’re at this step, I’m going to assume you want to start a blog with the least amount of effort possible. This is definitely the easiest option if you want to have a professional-looking blog with no effort.
Step 4.1: Contact me through here.
Step 4.2: Tell me what kind of blog you want.
Step 4.3: Pay me, and I will make your blog for you. 😉
So I hope this guide was helpful! I tried to explain the process as clearly as I could. But if you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below.
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