How to set up your first blog
So you’re keen to start a blog and let the world know what you have to say.
However, you’re not sure what are the first steps you need to take how to set up a blog perhaps. Well, worry not – as here’s the few simple steps you need to do and you’ll be up and blogging in no time!.
Hosting your blog
Definitely the first consideration you need to make, hosting your blog depends on a few factors.
Without a doubt, the world’s most popular blogging platform is WordPress. Sometimes called a Content Management System, WordPress is simply a platform to write and publish your blog.
WordPress is actually available in two setups – self-hosted WordPress (which we will cover later) and WordPress.Org. The latter is a free option, but is not as fully-featured as hosting the WordPress software on your own domain.
WordPress.org is simple to use and offers very little ‘barrier to entry’ for most bloggers, and for amateurs and first-time bloggers it’s perhaps the best option. All that is needed to start blogging is to create an account at WordPress.org and you’re literally good to go.
For more professional bloggers, you can also set upgrade at WordPress.org so that you could include your own domain name (rather than a wordpress.org URL or web address) which looks more professional.
Host your own blog using WordPress
WordPress self-hosted takes the best bits of WordPress into a software package that you install on your web hosting package. This is often a little more complicated, as you would first need to register a domain (a website address) and then purchase a hosting package (to install the WordPress software onto your domain).
So, although both steps cost a small amount of money, and are a bit more technical, your blog will look and appear a lot more professional and have more functionality. This is because WordPress self-hosted is a lot more customisable and you can add plugins (extra bits of software such as social media feeds).
A self-hosted WordPress blog is also far more beneficial for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and if you’re looking to monetise your blog, or include e-commerce, a self-hosted WordPress blog is often preferable.
Wix, SquareSpace or similar
WordPress is not the only Content Management System that can be used for blogs. There are many competitors such as SquareSpace, Joomla and Wix that offer similar features.
However these other CMSs are not as popular, not as fully-featured, and not as customisable (i.e. not as many plugins created for them) as a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Other Free blog providers
With the advent of social media, many other free journal type websites such as Tumblr have become popular for blogs. However, most offer their own specific nuances, and sometimes don’t always stay in business or are ‘sunsetted’ (discontinued) . For example, Google provided Blogger (Blogspot) as a free alternative to WordPress and many blogs are still online today with this platform.
Create your account and users
Once you have decided on your blogging platform, your next step is to create your account. In the case of WordPress.org this is as simple as creating an account, logging in and then starting blogging.
For a self-hosted WordPress blog, you will need to register a domain and setup a hosting package, and then install WordPress onto your domain. Most good web hosts offer self-installing versions of WordPress, or you can actually purchase your hosting package with WordPress ‘ready to go’.
For other platforms, the process is the same, but in all cases you may need to set up additional users if other people will be contributing to your blog.
Create your content
The next step how to set up your blog is the fun part – start creating contet! There are generally two ways to do this :-
- Start your blog with no content and ‘go live’ and then add content as you go. This means if anyone visits your site at the start, they may not have much to read.
- Start your blog, but create content in ‘draft format’ until you have a few articles ready to publish. This is preferable as you can publish several articles at once so first-time visitors have plenty to read and look around at.
Register your blog
A key step in setting up your blog is to ensure it is listed in web and blog directories. You can pay for a service to publish your URL (main web address of the blog) into different directories and search engine, or do this yourself.
It is vitally important to ensure you register your blog in a way that Google can ‘crawl’ your site, and this may require some research or technical help, or the use of a plugin. Directories are generally accessible for manual submissions, but search engines like Google actually visit and check out your site themselves.
Broadcast your blog address and posts
Now that your blog is online, you need to publicise and broadcast it to friends, family and anyone possible. Social Media is ideal for this, and as you become more proficient blogging, you will learn how to publish articles in a way that ensures they can be found by ‘organic searches’, which are people entering keywords in search engines that are directed to your blog.
Conclusion: how to set up your blog for long-term success
Blogging is not difficult, and is extremely fun and enjoyable, and setting up a blog is not that complex at all.
If you’re not intending your blog to be a serious thing, it’s worth starting off with WordPress.org and seeing if you like blogging.
If you think you will become professional, devote a lot of time to blogging, or intend running your blog for business, it’s better to set up your blog on a self-hosted WordPress basis.
If you use a less popular free blogging platform other than WordPress, be wary that your provider may close down, so you may need to migrate your content anyway. Of course, WordPress could go out of business too, but the fact it’s been around for many years suggests this is unlikely – it’s just too popular.