This is a basic tutorial on how to start a blog that I wrote for The Bloggers Association. I will be creating more of these in the future, so make sure you are on the TBA email list for updates.
There are a number of ways to start a blog and no one way is right or wrong. One advantage of blogging is there are a million ways to do anything the right way so there’s no need to worry that you will make a mistake.
Quick Start Guide to Starting Your New Blog:
1. Determine your blog’s purpose
Chances are you already know what you want your blog to be about, and what the purpose of the blog is. You have probably chosen something you love to talk about, or you have a specific business in mind. One key element you need here, is to know what your potential readers and customers really really really want and need so you can truly serve them. This is the most important, and most difficult lesson I teach new bloggers and it almost always takes a LOT of struggle and/or failure before they finally get it. Do yourself a favor- master the art of getting into your visitor’s heads and you will reach success much faster.
2. Determine keyword strategy
Take a look at the biggest sites in your industry, niche, etc. Note the specified keywords they are using in their domain, page titles, article titles, headers and image alt tags as well as in their content. The keywords you see repeated should resonate with you as words your potential customers or readers would search for. Since your true purpose is to serve your readers/customers, it’s essential that you start thinking about what they REALLY want AND need when they are searching for these keywords. When you think you know for sure… ask yourself again. I have a “12 levels deep” strategy for this that not only helps you get into your reader’s head, but also separates your own focus from “how do I making money with my blog.”
3. Choosing a Domain for Your New Blog
Keeping these keywords in mind, determine your topic and purpose of your site and then buy your domain. I recommend buying a domain that will allow you to do at least 3 things:
a. Exit strategy: you can sell it or transfer it later if you choose. For those of you who want a domain with your name, you may want to take this into consideration. In most cases, you’re limiting your future exit options if you buy janesmith.com.
b. Include your target keyword phrase in your domain if possible and try to make sure it is catchy enough and easy enough to build a brand on. For example, “
c. Choose a domain name that will allow you to expand in the future should you choose later.
For example; Let’s say you want to build a blog for your diet coaching business. You could buy, “janesmithdietcoach.com” OR you could buy “onlinedietcoach.com” – You not only have the keywords in the url for every page you add to your site, but it will also be much easier if you decide to sell the blog later. In addition, and my most important point- you can expand “onlinedietcoach.com” to include more coaches, expand into an online magazine, etc without limitations.
4. Hosting Your New Blog
Get your own hosting, and your own domain. If you are wondering why I don’t suggest a free blog, there are many reasons but the most important are; 1. you will have more restrictions with a free blog; you are bound to the company’s terms of service and limited when it comes to modifying and optimizing your freebie blog. 2. Should something happen, your blog could be wiped out and your back to square one. Example: I had advised a new blogger not to start a blog using a free blog company we won’t name. She decided to try this anyway and after much hard work and time, she built her blog up to making several thousand dollars a month. All was well until the company deleted her blog without warning, only sending her an email stating she had violated their terms of service. Now because the blog was a free blog service, she was unable to use a plugin that would have automatically emailed a back up of her content to her, and unable to use feedburner to redirect her feed so she would have been able to keep her subscribers. Aside from her many lessons, she was back to square one.
For hosting, I am not a fan of GoDaddy- they have cost me millions of dollars because of simple mistakes and poor customer service. I forgive them but until I hear they’re improving their standards, I will be recommending higher quality hosting companies:
a. Brainhost – User friendly interface, excellent customer service and reputation. I have sent numerous new bloggers to Brainhost and have only had great feedback. They have many inexpensive hosting services to choose from, but a number of unique offers including a 1 time fee for lifetime hosting, and even a special offer to build your website if you are registered for The Blogger’s Association.
b. Bluehost, Dreamhost and HostGator are pretty popular. One thing I like about HostGator is their 24 hour customer service chat feature.
5. Install WordPress through your hosting company
Most of these companies have automated hosting installation features. You enter some information and click a few buttons and voila! You have WordPress and can go to http://enteryournewblogdomainhere.com/wp-admin and login using the information you established during the installation. If the host you have chosen does NOT offer auto-installation, they will have a guide for installing yourself, or, you can go to http://wordpress.org and find instructions on how to install a blog there.
6. Setting up your new blog
After setting up about 100 blogs, I had the process nailed down to an hour or two at most. Now however, I use a nifty new plugin (a tiny piece of code that let’s your blog do something it doesn’t do by default) called Core Tweaks. Once logged in to your new blog, go to plugins>add new. In the search box, type “core tweaks” and the Core Tweaks WordPress Setup by cyber49 will come up. Click “Install now.” Then go to the Core Tweaks plugin page and follow the instructions for using the plugin.
A few more plugins I suggest:
Akismet (installed by default)
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Drag & Drop Featured Image
Google Analytics for WordPress
WordPress Database Backup
Feedburner FD (many great feedburner plugins available)
These are my absolute basic plugins that I would recommend. After you search and install these, go back to your installed plugins list. Click on “details” under each plugin to go to each plugin page for installation details and a description of what each one does.
7. Get started blogging!
Now that your blog is started, you’re ready to write your first blog post. Click on Posts>Add New in the sidebar of your dashboard. WordPress SEO plugin is a good guide to make sure you’re posting quality, search engine optimized content. Follow the suggestions there and you will be fine. Above all else, ALWAYS remember your goal is to Add Value first and everything will fall into place as you go.
If you’re ready to learn the next steps to starting a blog, I have my own keyword strategy you can take a look at: BrilliantJeni’s Big Bang Theory- my keyword hierarchy strategy. This covers content, categories and tags and makes setting those up as you go, a logical process.
I would also recommend picking up the book, The Art of SEO by Stephan Spencer and his peers. You will find this to be full of valuable information that doesn’t just explain SEO, but the basic principles for understanding search engines in general.
Don’t worry if these last two seem a bit too advanced. It won’t be long before you’ve got it down!
There you go- now you know how to start a blog and you’re ready to move on to the next level- congratulations!
If you want to keep posted on my future tutorials and blogging tips, feel free to subscribe to my blog and add me on twitter: @brilliantjeni. If you have questions, leave them in the comment section and I’ll be happy to answer.