The Blog Basics: Hosting & WordPress Set Up For Beginners
In 2019, blogging is still as popular as ever. This HubSpot article shows in detail the stats for blogging, content marketing and digital marketing as a whole. Just from a quick glance, you can see – blogging ain’t going anywhere.
In this post, I am going to share with the quickest way to start a blog in 2019. This is a guide showing you in great detail, every little thing you need to know to launch your own blogging project.
You might simply have an idea that you want to write a blog and have no idea where to go from there! You might have typed into Google how to start a blog, and here you are. If that’s the case, I’ve got you!
My first tip and this is the biggest thing when it comes to starting any creative business, is simply to GO FOR IT. Don’t let your mind convince you not to just jump up and make a go of it. Blogging is an obsession and once you start you’re likely to be bitten!
I hope you enjoy my guide – please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need any further help.
Writing about blogging and helping fellow creative entrepreneurs is a huge passion of mine, and I seriously love sharing what I’ve learnt with you guys. Seriously, hit me up if you need some help! 🙂
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I might earn a small commission from purchases made, at no extra cost to you. Please see my terms and conditions for more info*
Step One – The Plan
So, you’ve decided you wanna be a blogger. Congratulations and welcome to the club! We are pretty awesome people, and you can usually count on a fellow blogger for support!
The first step, before you do ANYTHING at all, is to create a plan. This is especially important if you’re blogging to start a creative business: planning is key.
Get some paper or open the notes on your computer and write out the answers to these questions:
- Why am I starting my blog? What about blogging interests me?
- What am I going to write about? What topics can I just not stop talking about?
- Where does my passion lie? What excites me?
- What name do I want to go by? What brand name would I happily stand behind?
Working out the answers to these questions and having a clear overview of what you are going to begin is really helpful. It will put you one step ahead when it comes to actually putting words on the screen!
Once you know what you want your blog to be about, you can get your blog set up. You will want to decide what you want your blog to be called, what the URL (website address) is going to be, and what your topic is going to be.
Keep an idea of this in mind as we get set up with the techy side of things next.
Step Two – The Technical Aspects
Once you know what you’re doing and why, the next step is getting the technical side of things sorted.
This works in two ways, depending on why you are blogging:
1. You’re Blogging For Passion
If you really don’t EVER see yourself wanting to make any money from your blog, and just want to use it as an online journal or gallery, then I would use a free option such as Blogger.
You can earn some money from Adsense, but in my personal opinion, it’s not a great place to create a professional business from. It’s perfect for a hobby blogger who just writes because they love it and doesn’t want to have any kind of business around their website.
2. You’re Blogging To Create An Online Business
If you want to make money from your blog and turn it into a creative online business, then there are a few further steps to take. This is to make sure you get off to a professional start.
There a few different steps to take here, and whilst it might look a little daunting, I promise you will be able to do it!
I had never been particularly tech savvy (before I started blogging anyway!), but I managed to get it sorted out with a little bit of patience.
The first thing to do is choose a hosting provider. This is basically the company that provides the back bones of your website, and allows you to own your website by becoming self-hosted.
You basically pay a company to host your website, to make sure it runs for you, and displays to the people wanting to read your blog posts.
Over the years and the various blogs I have had, I have tried my fair share of hosting providers.
For Beautifully Fragile, I decided to choose HostGator. Whilst they are a really good hosting provider, and give lots of support and assistance, they are one of the only providers I came across that does a monthly payment system.
Some people might not care about that, but I actually do! I can’t afford or really justify spending hundreds on hosting in one go. Having a monthly plan makes blogging realistic, and means I can actually do it.
Simply click here to go to the hosting plans and enter all your details to get set up.
Create your account, and choose your domain name. This is going to be the name of your website, and so it’s important to get this right. You do get a free domain name with HostGator at the moment, so it’s worth doing through them.
Once you’ve created your account and have everything set up, it’s time to download WordPress so we can get a blog going!
How To Download WordPress
WordPress is commonly recognised as the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. If you want to create a professional website, I highly recommend getting yourself a WordPress account. It’s thought that around 25% of all websites are WordPress sites, which is just amazing!
WIthin HostGator, you will be able to download WordPress with one click. It will be an option on the front screen of your HostGator dashboard.
Simply install the WordPress, set up login details, and you will be able to log in to your new account!
Just go to your website address and add /wp-admin to the end of it, and you will be able to log in to the WordPress dashboard with your new login details.
If you need any help or you are having real problems, HostGator have amazing customer support. Just use their live chat and ask for help and they will sort out your problem quickly and professionally.
Once you’ve logged in to WordPress, you will see this page:
NOW YOU CAN BEGIN BLOGGING!
Setting Up Your WordPress Website & Designing Your Blog!
Once you have logged into WordPress for the first time, there are a few things you will need to do.
As a matter of fact, there are probably hundreds of different things you need to do! But we’re going to look at the basics, to get your website set up and put you in a position to start writing blog posts and publishing them.
Here’s a list of the key things you will need to do to get things rolling:
Choose A Theme
A theme for your blog is basically the system you use to design your website without having to use computer code. Themes are the easiest way to customise your website.
You can get free ones or you can buy them from many different places. I would recommend looking on Creative Market – their themes are really reasonably priced and look stunning and professional.
You want to make sure that the theme you choose has as much customisation as possible, so that you can choose colours, fonts, and set up widgets, footers, the blog layout and more.
Highlight Appearance on the left-hand side of the dashboard, and then click on Themes. From here, you can choose a theme, or you can upload one you bought from elsewhere.
Customise Your Theme
Once you have settled on the theme you are going to use, it’s time to customise it! This is one of the best parts about having your own blog in my opinion. I love decorating my website and making it look how I want it to look!
Here you want to choose your fonts, colour theme, styling and layout. Depending on the theme you chose, you’ll have certain things that you can change. Have a play around and see what you can create.
You want to choose a style so that you can brand all other things relating to your blog, so that they match cohesively.
A huge part of blogging and creating an online business is branding and creating a theme that goes together and helps you become a recognised source for content.
Take some time, because once you get going with a particular theme it take a lot to change it all! When blogging as a business, you end up creating all kinds of graphics, images, forms, and external content, and so you want to avoid having to redesign EVERYTHING!
Set Up The Right Plugins To Help Make Your Website Stand Out
The next step is setting up some key plugins. These are basically extensions to your blog that provide useful features.
There are literally thousands of plugins available, that do SO MANY amazing things. To begin with, I would say you should set up Yoast SEO, Smush, Monster Insights, Editorial Calendar, and Autoptimize.
You can also get all different types of widget plugins, for areas such as your sidebar (the small partitioned section on the side of your blog for author bio, social icons etc). Work out which work best for you, but beware, too many may slow down your website and put off readers.
There are lots of different plugins out there, but they might not always work together. Take some time working out what makes sense for your blog and the content you create.
Write Up The Necessary Blog Pages
There are two different types of content you can add to your blog – pages and posts. Pages are the static pages that you add to your menu, and that provide key information to your readers.
These are pretty vital pages for your website.
When writing out your About page, check out this article on copyblogger and see whether you are making any mistakes with this crucial page on your website.
Create Your Blog Categories To Organise Your Blog Posts
Now that your design work is done and you have the blog pages to let your readers know who you are and how to contact you, we need to create categories!
This is how you divide up your blog posts. It helps your readers find content that they are interested in, and helps set up a map for how your blog’s items work together.
When you are creating your categories, I would advise settling on 3 or 4 total topics to write about. Many more than that and you will overwhelm and confuse your reader. You need to focus and niche down on a specific area.
If you try and write about everything on your blog, then people will be confused. If you niche down, you will become recognised as more of an expert in those areas and people will respond better to what you are writing about.
Think about the kinds of topics that you can write about A LOT. Think about 3 years down the line – will you still have things to say about those topics? Are they things that make you feel excited and can you not stop talking about them? These are the things to write about!
Create A Navigation Menu To Ensure Your Readers Can Get To Where They Want To Go
Once you have completed the pages and categories, it’s important to create a navigation menu to help your readers get around.
Go to Appearance, and then Menus and create your menu. I have my blog categories, and then create a sub-menu for my other pages. You can do this as per the below:
At this point you are ready to start writing blog posts!
Of course, there are so many more things that you will need and will want to do as your blog grows. You will learn new things, you will want to experiment with new techniques, and you will find out better tactics for growing a successful blog.
I hope you’ve found this blog post useful, and you have been able to create your blog with ease. If you do need help, please just get in touch 🙂