Starting a blog is easy. You can start one right now, and have it up and running for the world to share as early as today, depending on how you want to set it up. If you’re serious about blogging, there are some crucial decisions that you need to make before creating your blog.
TL;DR You can skip to the recap for a quick summary, by scrolling down.
The most important advice I can give you in this stage (and throughout your blogging path) is to get informed advice from other successful blogs and bloggers. Make a list of your blogging idols and top goals you want to achieve. The level that the top bloggers are at right now is a result of years of mistakes and good decisions. Learning from how they’ve set up, and grew their blogs, will help to catapult your blog to success considerably faster, and avoid major hassles from making the same mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself on my journey as a blogger. I could definitely do without major headaches and lost time, making up for them.
Posted below are my best advice for bloggers who want to make informed decisions about any type of blog that they want to start:
#1 Blogging Platform
All blogs are run behind a blogging platform, which enables bloggers to publish their ideas and content to the world. There are only three types that you need to know:
- 1. Hosted Blogging Platforms — WordPress.com, Google’s Blogger.com / Blogspot, Medium, Jimdo
- 2. Self-Hosted Blogging Platforms — self-hosted WordPress (available for download at WordPress.org)
- 3. Micro-Blogging Platforms — Tumblr, Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc… Yes, most social networking sites are basically micro-blogging platforms.
Let’s cut to the case. If you want to make money off your blog content, create yours now as a self-hosted WordPress blog. That’s how I set up all my blogs, and I could NOT imagine my life without it.
You don’t need to be super techy to set one up, but there is a learning curve in the beginning. Believe me, the effort will be worth your time… you can always hire someone to do it for you. I will be posting essential tips on starting a WordPress blog in a separate guide.
Here are three important reasons why you should go with a self-hosted WordPress blog (not to be confused with a WordPress.com account):
1. Make money online by placing advertisements on your blog — This simply is not possible with most micro-blogging and most hosted blogging platforms (with the exception of Blogger.com)
2. Scalability — Your growth will be limited by your blogging platform. The same WordPress core powers blogs of all sizes including top sites with millions of monthly viewers and complex publishing needs, like the New York Times.
3. Full control over your content — If you go with a micro-blogging or hosted blogging platforms, your blog (and business!) will “live” on their servers. If they decide to discontinue their service, your blog will have to find a new home. Migration, if possible at all, is a big headache. If they change their systems or policies, you’re the one who has to adjust. With a self-hosted WordPress blog, however, you have total control over whatever you publish and how it is stored. It’s also one way to technology-proof your blog. As you know the online world changes very fast each and every year since you have total control over all files/data on your blog, it will be much easier to adapt and innovate.
There are cases when a self-hosted WordPress blog might not be a perfect fit for you. For many bloggers, being able to reach their audiences or simply just being able to publish content with minimal to no effort is more important than making money. Also, many bloggers make money from their popularity and influence, not just their content. In these cases, getting a micro-blogging or hosted blogging platform might be a faster, and sometimes more effective way to reach your own goals. If you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress blog, Tip #2 and #3 will be very important.
You can download the latest version of WordPress at WordPress.org, but you can skip this step for later after you read the tips below.
#2 Domain Name & Registration
All blogs (and websites) need a domain name. Mine is “marcosdetourist.com,” which is what you type in your web browser to access my blog.
Domain names are very important because it is how your audience will be able to reach your blog. It’s also the first impression they get before actually opening your website. Domain names that are too long, or too hard to remember, can hurt a blog’s potential viewership, regardless of how awesome the content is.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs, like mine, require you to buy your domain name with a domain registrar (see top recommendations posted below). You pay for the registration and renewal once a year for $13 on average, depending on the domain extension (ex. a “.com,” “.net,” “.ph,” “.co.uk” extension).
Put a lot of careful thought on your domain name and register it as soon as possible. You can always change it whenever you want, but, since it’s so tied up to your blog’s branding, the transition would take a lot of time and effort, especially if you’ve built up, promoted and marketed your brand name for years.
For hosted and micro-blogging platforms, your blog’s domain name is set under theirs by default for free (ex. marcosdetourist.wordpress.com or marcosdetourist.blogspot.com). Platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Tumblr, provide you the option to use a custom domain name without the “.wordpress.com” or “.blogger.com” extension. With social networking sites, you are stuck with whatever domain name they have (ex. facebook.com/marcosdetourist).
You can register your domain now with these sites that I use for my own websites:
Hover — I love hover because their website is simple to use and they have private registration (to protect my privacy) included on all their domain plans.
Go Daddy — You know you’re getting a reliable service with GoDaddy since they are the most popular company for domain registration and have been in the business for a long time. I began transferring all my domains after I discovered Hover, however. I simply do not like how GoDaddy’s site is too cluttered, constantly trying to sell their other products, which I don’t need. It’s an annoyance that I could do without, but they are still a good company to go with because of their reliability.
I’ll be posting more tips about picking the right blog name and domain extension on a future guide.
#3 Web Host
All blogs are stored on a web server. It is where you keep your blog’s text, images, videos, settings, and other data. If you have a hosted or micro-blogging platform, you don’t have to think about web hosting since it is already provided, most, for free.
If you want to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog, you need to get a hosting plan from a reliable company. You can choose to pay monthly or annually. For most blogs, a web hosting plan should cost between US$4–6 per month. Web hosts may have cheaper plans on offer for smaller blogs. Meanwhile, a popular blog may require more expensive plans.
Getting a reliable web host in the start, can save you from a lot of major headaches. I know this all to well because I have switched between a lot of web hosting companies over the years.
I’ll be posting more about important things to consider when choosing a web host and what type of hosting plans you should get, but for now, here is one company that I highly recommend and I use on all my blogs:
A Small Orange — First off, they have very cheap plans for as low $3 a month (paid annually) that are perfect for bloggers starting out. All their plans are very cost-effective and they maintain very fast servers. The best thing that I love about them is their excellent support. If there’s an issue on my blog (like when it got hacked or went offline), they usually make timely replies and try to help, no matter plan I was on. If you have multiple blogs, you can buy multiple plans as well to make sure not all your blogs go offline when one gets hacked, for example.
Outlined above are basic, yet essential tips on starting a successful blog. I’ll be posting more on each item and step-by-step tutorials as I get more time to write them on my Guide to Blogging. Until then, make good use of your Googling skills. This is your first test to becoming a successful blogger as there is one thing that all great bloggers have in common — the continuous willingness to learn.
If you want to start a blog today, here are three basic steps that I advise you to do:
1. Register your own domain name with Hover.
2. Get a reliable web hosting plan with ASmallorange.
3. Get a self-hosted WordPress blog. You can use ASmallOrange’s one-click WordPress install to get your blog up and running with minimal effort, or download WordPress from WordPress.org.
Starting a blog is the easy part. It’s managing, planning, and growing your blog that gets better with experience. There are two future articles that I’ve got lined up that you should read before starting your blog. Don’t forget to subscribe to MarcosDetourist.com to get notified when I finally publish these guides:
- Essential Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started a Blog
- Installing a WordPress blog the Right Way the First Time
Disclosure: If you click on the links above before your purchase, I may earn commission from the sale at NO additional cost to you. I use these services myself, and I trust that they are reliable. If you have any questions, you may reach out to me on Marcos Detourist on Facebook.