After blogging for quite a while, It dawned upon me some days ago that if I have to start a blog today then there are a number of things I would do differently. This transition has been a learning curve for me as I was quite a noob when I started out in terms of setting up a blog. Well, this is 2016 and in this post, I am going to highlight the steps involved in starting your blog in 2016.
The year 2016 has a lot to offer
With great power comes great responsibility. This expression, in particular, has always motivated me to weigh all the pros and cons before taking any major decision and blogging is no exception. Today we are bombarded with terms like subscriptions, ads management, responsive themes etc and more. Let me tell you that setting up a blog is much more objective than just the obvious parts like user interface and SEO viability. It is just like creating a road so that you can walk on it and your journey can take you to the epitome of this blogosphere where stalwarts like Jitendra Vaswani, Neil Patel and Jeff Bullas have already proven their mettle!
Steps covered in starting your first blog
Plato has said in his book Republic that, The beginning is the most important part of the work. So the moment you decide that you are going to start a blog, you have already set the wheels in motion.
Here I have divided the whole process into simplified 5 step process as each of these is equally important in shaping up the type that your blog is going to be (I sense some intrigue!)
- Choosing your preferred blogging platform
- Choosing web hosting for your blog.
- Setting up your blog with your favorite domain name.
- Designing (basically customizing) your blog.
- Important tools and plugins for your blog.
Step 1 | Choosing your preferred blogging platform
I will make things simpler for you by going ahead and choosing WordPress for this endeavor as it is the most preferred blogging platform worldwide. According to Pingdom, WordPress constitutes for almost 58% of total CMS users across the world. The other options are Blogger, Tumblr and some more which I will delve into some other day. Remember this post is written keeping the feasibility of your objective of starting a blog.
Still not convinced? Then here are some quick reasons for choosing WordPress over the other blogging platforms
- It’s easy to set up and install.
- It offers a ton of themes and customization options.
- Plugins are the actual showstoppers which can make both the UI and design of your site an opium for masses.
- The support forum is the best as you will find all your doubts melting away.
- Faster than you can imagine.
Now, coming on to the next step
Step 2| Choosing web hosting for your blog
This is a very important decision that will foretell a great deal about your blog. There are two types of hosting primarily – Free hosting and self hosting.
Almost all platforms will provide you a free blog instantaneously at the click of a button BUT(it’s a strong but) you will not be able to own the blog totally. Also, your URL will look something like –
Did you notice the suffix in the name of the platform? It means your blog is a free version and hence, you will not be able to use the cooler sections of the CMS (content management system). On the other hand, when you host your blog manually through various servers like Bluehost or Hostgator you are free to choose the custom name of your blog, ie
myblog.com. Isn’t it sweet!
There are many hosting networks available but personally, I like the Bluehost, Hostgator and A small orange hosting platforms as their tech support is prompt. For reference, I am leaving the links for you using which you can avail up to 50% discount on these hosting.
Step 3 | Setting up your blog with desired domain name
Now I am assuming that you would have signed onto your hosting accounts. Guess what? you will get your domain name absolutely free for the first year! Almost all hosting companies give you a free domain as a fair deal which is value for money in the end up paying less than $40 a year.
Did I move too fast here? well, let’s understand the basics first.
- Domain – It is the URL address of your website where you publish your blog.
- Hosting – It is responsible for putting your blog on the internet so others can see it. Think of it as giant servers in extra large rooms where your website is being saved into.
When it comes to hosting there is one hidden jackpot which is quite new in the market but the service and uptime of the servers is amazing, Seekahost. The best part is that you can install blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger with just one click. You will find this option in your cpanel when you log in to your hosting account.
All you need to do is sign in through any of these hosting clients using the provided links
Now to our next step
Step 4 | Designing your blog
Design is a continuous process that can take from fewer to a wide array of altercations. When you want to design your website, it is the theme aspect of the WordPress that comes into effect. You can find a number of premium WordPress themes at sites like My Themes shop and Themeforest. The advantage of using these premium themes are
- They are easy to install and SEO friendly.
- Amazing customization options for creating menus, widgets and landing pages.
- UI design is both mobile and tablets optimized.
Normally any theme costs in between $40-$99, but here I have attached the link so that you can get one at a discounted rate which is $40. Keep in mind the design that you want your site to reflect and you will see a lot of options according to your taste.
Customizing the WordPress theme on your blog
Finding a decent theme for your blog is a challenge in itself. Once you are past that process, the real ordeal begins of shaping every corner of your blog according to your target audience taste.
WordPress gives a very easy option of customizing the theme by pressing the Appearance>Customize button. After you click on the customize tab, you will find yourself on a page like below.
As you can see from the image above that each element of your blog is up for a revamp if you wish to. Make sure you set up the home page first depending on whether you want a static homepage or a dynamic one. In a static homepage the content will be fixed, like the agency sites. In a dynamic homepage you can display your latest posts or any routine updates for your readers.
Step 5| Important tools and plugins for your WordPress blog
There are many plugins that, you will come across, which claim to solve your dilemma like none other. But the truth is, in general you will need only a selective number of plugins which will cover your basic concerns. I have compiled a list of all such tools and plugins which are most important for your blog.
- Jetpack – For a number of cool features like sharing buttons,contact forms etc.
- Google Analytics – This tool will allow you to keep a track on your website traffic and much more.
- W3 Total Cache – This awesome plugin will keep your page speed optimum by reducing the page load time considerably.
- Google XML sitemap – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.
- iThemes security (earlier Better WP Security) – This will keep your site secure in more than 20 ways.
And that’s it! I now firmly believe that you would be almost close to your initial blog setup and ready to sojourn into this wonderful world of blogging.