💡If you are already aware of hosting providers and blogging platforms, you may want to skip to the technical part of this blog post about setting up hosting plan, and starting a WordPress blog.
1. Why to Start a Blog?
If you are passionate about a particular hobby one of the best things you can do is to start a blog. Starting a blog will help you to nurture that interest and increase your knowledge on the topic.
If you are part of a small, growing business and want to learn more about your industry, while also gaining exposure to a relevant audience, learning how to start a blog is a great way to achieve this.
Starting a blog will help you share your passion, gain experience, meet and network with like-minded people and reach your goals.
At some point in the future you may even be able to subsidise your income with money that you earn via your blog. Or your blog could contribute towards your business earnings. Like anything worth doing, this will take time and effort, but with dedication it is possible.
Have you ever heard the following saying / nugget / wisdom:
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.Do you know who said this? Let us know in the comments if you do…
Well, the same is definitely true for starting a blog. Even if you don’t know how to start a blog, or you don’t think you have the technical knowledge to do so, that should not get in your way!
There are lots of useful resources and information available. There is also both free and reasonably priced tools available to help you start a blog.
This post is aiming to be one of those free useful resources. It will show you how to make a blog in 2022 using WordPress.
💡 Start With Why As a short aside - I would urge you to watch this talk given by Simon Sinek.
2. Decide the Topic or Niche for your Blog
The first step towards creating a successful blog is to choose what topic your blog will be about. You may see this referred to online and in blogs you already read as choosing your blogging niche.
A niche is a specific topic which you will write about most often on your blog. You may even choose to only write about one specific topic or a small few closely related topics.
This is good because it gives your blog a focus. In time, with hard work and dedication, your blog could even become an authority on that topic. This means that readers respect and trust your content consistently. As a result of this readers come back each time you post. Fantastic!
If you write a great post readers may even encourage others to read it. They may do this by sharing it or placing links to your blog on their own websites. Which is great. It is exactly what you are aiming for.
Choosing your niche, or topic, should take you some time – there are lots of things you can write about!
You should think carefully about what you would like to write about. You should think about what value you can add to the topic.
The topic you choose should align well with your original goals for starting a blog.
Consider these Questions before Starting a Blog
- Will choosing the topic help you to learn more about it?
A great reason to start a blog is because you are genuinely interested in learning about the topic.
A genuine interest will give you the motivation to spend time researching blog post ideas, and reading other blogs. It will give you the motivation to produce your own posts. These posts will help you and others to understand the topic further.
- Will it be a personal or professional topic?
Is the blog topic going to be something which you enjoy doing in your spare time? Or will it be based around your business or your career?
Furthering your career or your business specific knowledge is a great idea for a blog. Equally great is using a blog to nurture a hobby that you have or would like to begin.
3. Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is important! It will be seen and used by everyone who ever visits or links to your blog. It is a good thing for people reading your blog, or linking to it, to feel comfortable doing so. This feeling of comfort and familiarity begins with the domain name.
A domain name is the human readable address of a website. It is a bit like each house on a road having a name or number to differentiate it from any other house on the same road.
Ideally it should be a memorable and relevant word or phrase. You get extra points if it is short or funny. This is because these qualities will make it even more memorable and recognisable for your readers.
💡 Of course this is not always the case! Some of the most famous sites and blogs have seemingly irrelevant or nonsense domain names (though, these names are often relevant in a creative way). A few of examples of this are: google.com, greatist.com, bustle.com, smashingmagazine.com, pjrvs.com, ebay.com, etc.
The domain name of this blog is webshape.uk.
Another option for your site and domain name is to use your own name. There are many successful bloggers who are happy to create and grow their own personal brand for their blog. Some examples of this approach being successful are: michaelkummer.com, www.davidlebovitz.com. For some, the main goal of starting a blog is to build their personal brand.
Some bloggers even manage to be both relevant and personal – a great example of this is the blog: cupofjo.com.
4. Choose a Hosting Provider & Plan
Once you have decided to start writing a blog, and you have chosen the topic you will be writing about you can move on. Next, you need to choose a hosting provider and plan that are right for you and your blog.
Website hosting is the space where your site files and writing will be saved. It is a bit like renting an apartment in a building for you to live in and keep your things. Your website will be made up of files (pages, posts, images and your writing for example). They need a physical space to be housed. As well as this, it needs to be possible for other people on the internet (your readers) to access them.
This physical space is most commonly another computer, or server, provided by a company who have the right equipment in place.
As with landlords, there are lots of options of hosting providers. Some of these are optimised for specific use cases, but many offer a general web hosting service. Many will also offer a specific location based service. For example, if you live in the UK, most hosts allow you to choose a server location optimised for UK website visitors. The same goes for many other places around the world.
This blog uses a developer specific hosting company called Opalstack. If you already have some experience of web hosting and running your own mail server, I would encourage you to check them out.
💡 See my easy step-by-step guide to purchasing hosting, selecting a domain and installing WordPress below under the heading: How to Start a Blog with WordPress
5. WordPress (…and other blogging platforms)
You may have heard of WordPress, or perhaps not. Either way, I can almost guarantee that you have used WordPress already!
As a regular user of the internet it is almost impossible that you have not interacted with a site that uses WordPress.
💡 At the time of writing (the end of 2021): ✔ WordPress powers about 37% of all websites on the internet. ✔ There are 455 million WordPress websites globally. ✔ WordPress is the blogging platform of choice, with about 62% of websites that use a blogging platform opting to use WordPress. You can find out more information from Envisage Digital, where these stats came from.
But what is WordPress, and what is a blogging platform?
A blogging platform is an online system for creating, managing and displaying the content which makes up your blog. This is also commonly known as a content management system (or CMS).
It is distinct from website hosting, which is described above. This is because it provides a more easily interactable and user-friendly option for managing and displaying content.
Technically, it is not necessary for a blog to use a CMS. However, it makes creating a blog and keeping it updated a lot easier than not using one. If you have experience of creating websites yourself and want to tailor every possible aspect of your site and blog, you may want to consider other options. However, WordPress is fully customisable, open source, and has in-depth developer docs available, so even if you do want full control WordPress is probably still the best choice.
Other Blogging Platforms
Other blogging platforms, or CMS, are available, and some might be more appropriate for your blog and its content. Some examples are:
Why you Should Choose WordPress for your Blog
As with many things in life, and on the internet, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a CMS. However, the amount of sites using WordPress and the community which continue to use this blogging platform speaks volumes. WordPress is probably the most versatile, and most user-friendly of all the options. This blog uses WordPress, and I happily recommend it as a great all-purpose blogging platform.
☝ In this article I am referring to WordPress.org whenever I talk about 'WordPress', which is often also known as self-hosted WordPress. This means that you have purchased a domain name, a hosting plan, and will install the freely available WordPress software on to this host to use as a Content Management System for your blog. WordPress.com is also available and is a hosting service, which has a limited free-tier, but is essentially a paid for service. WordPress.com aims to provide a user with hosting and the blogging platform, as an all-in-one service, but as a compromise the user has less control over most aspects. In this respect WordPress.com is similar to some of the other options listed above.
Protocol recently published (December 2021) a fantastic deep-dive into Matt Mullenweg, who is the founder of WordPress and the CEO of their parent company Automattic, and who still regularly updates his own WordPress blog (with a sweet domain name).
There are many great reasons to use WordPress. I will be writing a post to go over these reasons in more depth. For now though some of the most important reasons are:
- WordPress is free software 🤑
- WordPress is safe and secure to use 🦺
- WordPress is search engine friendly 🔎
- WordPress is customisable 🛠️
- WordPress is user-friendly 😁
6. How to Start a Blog with WordPress
Okay – so now we know what WordPress is and why it is useful, but how do we start a WordPress blog. There are two parts to this. This post is focusing on the first part, which is the technical side. The other part is blogging itself, which is a large topic and will be covered in another post. This post does include a quick 5 point introduction to what is important in blogging too.
As mentioned WordPress is freely available software. You can download it – from the WordPress site’s download page.
However, before you do that (you may find that you do not need to) you should check to see if your hosting provider offers a one-click install of WordPress. They often do. Which is further proof of the ubiquity of WordPress.
This is the easiest way to get WordPress for your site. Below are step-by-step instructions for purchasing a hosting plan, selecting a domain name and getting WordPress on your site.
I have chosen to create this guide with SiteGround. They are a fantastic hosting provider, and the process is really easy for all users. SiteGround are one of only three hosting providers recommended by WordPress.org. They also have useful resources including WordPress tutorials, and a fantastic knowledge base and support.
However, there are literally thousands of hosts to choose from out there. This is a personal decision for you to make.
Select a Hosting Plan
Go to the SiteGround site to see the options available to you. There are options for you to choose from when selecting a hosting plan. Don’t let this deter you though – if you do not know what you need, start with the lowest plan available.
In the case of SiteGround this is the StartUp plan. Every plan will have everything you need to start a blog. Plus you can always switch plans later as your blog or ambitions grow. Even the larger plans are affordable if you already have profitable business. You may already have an idea of your budget for creating this blog as part of your growth plans.
At the time of writing this post SiteGround are offering a great deal – with 75% off. Plus all their plans have a 100% renewable energy match. This is fantastic news if you are an environmentally conscious person or business.
💡 If you are concerned about how to get an SSL certificate, if your site will be served by a CDN and if you'll get email with your hosting - you'll be pleased to know SiteGround offers these things on all of their plans, which is great value!
Choose a Domain Name
When you have selected a hosting plan SiteGround asks you to choose a domain name.
SiteGround allows you to purchase your domain at the same time as the hosting – which makes things a bit easier. You might already have a purchased domain name though. That’s fine too – just select ‘I already have a domain’ on this page.
If the domain name you choose is already taken by another website SiteGround will give you some similar options or you could also choose to select a different top-level-domain (TLD).
☝ A TLD is the part of the domain after your blog name - the TLD in webshape.uk is '.uk', and the most common TLD is '.com', but there are now hundreds of TLDs to choose from. SiteGround will help you choose by showing you some options and the prices for these.
Set Up your Account and Password, Review & Complete Purchase
On the next page SiteGround will guide you through the account creation steps necessary to set you up.
As with most online accounts you will need to add your email address, choose a password, and provide some information about yourself. Go ahead and finish this process.
On this page you have the option to also purchase Domain Privacy. This is a good option to choose if you are concerned about your privacy. When you purchase a domain your information becomes publicly available unless you purchase Domain Privacy. It is only about £10, or $12, per year usually.
Then you can finalise your purchase. You can make any last minute changes here too. For example, you can choose which data center your site will be hosted at. Choices include the UK, America, Asia, Australia, Germany and The Netherlands.
This will be covered in another post but here are 5 points which are important to be aware of when blogging:
- Setting up the blog correctly
- Creating an aesthetic – including colour scheme and logo
- Plan for and implement a way to notify readers when you post – an email list and social media
- Types of blog post which you can write
- Strategies to get your writing in front of people – next level from social media and emails
Start With Why.
Like any project you need to know why you will be starting a blog. This step includes defining your goals for the blog and choosing a topic or niche.
Decide your Blog Name (and Domain Name).
The name and domain name are what people reading your content will associate with it. It is how people will find you, and hopefully refer you to others.
Make your Choice of Hosting Provider and Plan.
You need somewhere to save your website files, and a way to serve them to your readers. Getting the right hosting provider will make your blogging life a lot easier.
Choosing a Blogging Platform (WordPress).
WordPress is the most used Content Management System on the internet for many reasons. You should be able to use your hosting provider to easily set up a WordPress site. Which means you can easily get started blogging today.