I’ll be honest when I tell you, I didn’t exactly get off to a smooth start. I’d always wanted to start a blog, as writing has always been a passion of mine. Every-time I tried, I was side tracked. Mainly because the set-up process looked complicated. However, earlier this year, I found myself lost in several travel blogs. It inspired me, and gave me the inspiration to give it a go myself. Turns out it’s not as difficult as you think and I’m so glad I finally started one myself.
First things first. You need to understand why you want to start a blog, and what you want to get out of it?
Before you figure out HOW to start a blog, you need to figure out your WHY you want to start one in the first place? Is it to keep track of and document your life, is it because you want to turn it into a business, make blogging your full-time job, or is it because everyone else seems to be doing it these days? And you thought, why not? Personally, it’s something I had wanted to do for years. I’ve always been a creative spirit, and writing about my life doings and what-not comes easy. I finally bit the bullet earlier this year and, well, here we are. There is no wrong or right answer to this question, so don’t feel guilty if it’s because you want to be Insta-famous or gain more followers.
Secondly, you need to decide what it is you want to blog about (find your niche)
I’ve read so many different opinions around this topic. Each one, contradicts the next. Many will tell you, you must have a specific niche. Whether it be, travel, fitness, fashion or beauty, the list goes on. Then they’ll tell you to dig deeper, find a sub category, within your niche and focus on that. For example, you want to start your blog in fashion and how you can stay stylish on a budget and focus on that. I personally can’t make up my mind. There is so much I want to do in life and write about it along the way. I would say, right now, I don’t really know what my topic is. More of an online journal as of now, somewhere I can lose myself and write to get things off my chest. If you are in the same boat as me, don’t worry. I would say just get started, and worry about a niche at a later date. Ideally, your target audience is you, so if you write about things you know and like. Your audience will follow, there-after.
And come up with a catchy name to go with it!
Choosing a name for your blog, is in my experience, harder than the set up. Your probably all wondering, why Innocent Naked Thoughts? Well, the idea behind it was this. My blog, as of right now is a timeless diary of my thoughts, feelings, life and emotions. Innocent meaning, everything I write is simple, basic and naive. Naked, meaning the bare truth from my mind and thoughts well, you can put two and two together. I did think about my name for a while, and tried it in hundreds of different ways. Before I was finally happy and set on INT. Here are a few pointers to take into consideration:
Don’t be too specific. For example, if your heart is set on being a fitness blogger. Try not to use the word fitness in your name, same goes for fashion, beauty, etc, etc. I say this, purely because later down the line. You might change your mind, and want too blog about other topics. Just a thought, to keep in mind.
Check all social platforms you tend to use, and make sure the name you want is available across all. The key is to be consistent. For example, mine are… Innocentnakedthought.com, Facebook.com/innocentnkdthoughts and instagram.com/innocentnakedthoughts. The reasoning for my FB page being an abbreviation, is because the word ‘Naked’ was identified as an explicit word! – OOPS
As well as social platforms, you want to be sure your name isn’t already in use as a domain (I’ll explain all of this below, stay with me)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets begin.
There are many different ways to start a blog. Again, there are so many different opinions out there about which hosting site to use, self-hosted or not. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with using WordPress.org, Blogger, Wix, etc. However, you will have best control using a self-hosted WordPress blog, (I found this out the hard way). This is what most serious bloggers today use, and how www.thelaurenclaire.com was created, the second time around.
The most important step for starting a blog is buying a domain and setting up hosting. Don’t worry if you’re new to this, I was exactly the same. My personal opinion and experience… stay away from the examples listed above. They are limiting, and you won’t have full control over your blog.
The next two steps are the most important, and luckily for you. The web-hosting site I am about to show you, rolls both steps into one easy process.
Setting up with a hosting service
Hosting, to put into simpler terms. Is just like renting a house. You have to pay for the space on the internet, where your website is going to live. After doing this, you will then install the WordPress software to customise and manage your blog it – It’s a lot easier than it sounds, trust me.
There are hundreds of hosting services available. However, I use and highly recommend Site Ground. This is what InnocentNakedThoughts.com is currently using and I cannot fault them. They are hands down one of the cheapest, easiest to use and reliable web hosting services around.
Click here, to set up your hosting account with Site Ground and buy your domain name. Once you have followed the link I have provided, follow the step-by-step visual guide below.
After clicking the link, you will be redirected to a page that looks something like this…
Go right ahead and click ‘sign up’. Like most hosting sites, you will be given 3 options to choose from. I would recommend the ‘GrowBig’ package, or if you can afford it the ‘GoGeek’. However, the ‘StartUp’ package is just as good. Especially if you are just starting out and on a budget, you can always upgrade at a later date, if need be)
Buying a domain name
Once you’ve pick the right package. You will be redirected to a page, asking to register a new domain or if you’ve already purchased one prior to this step. You can just enter it into the correct field, as shown in the screen shot below.
The Domain name you choose, might not be available. However, all I will say now is, be careful and wise when choosing a domain name – I will put together a post on choosing a domain name and branding soon, which I hope will help. If in doubt or unsure, you can use your name.
Once you have chosen/entered your domain, click proceed.
Picking the right hosting package and setting up your account with them
This next step should be a breeze, especially if you’ve ever ordered something online. If so, then you will sail through it. Just fill out your personal information and payment details, and select your plan.
You will also be given the option to add on any extras – I recommend getting both ‘Domain Privacy’ and ‘ SG Site Scanner’ for safety. But, if you are on a budget, just go with the ‘Privacy’ to be safe. The last thing you want is for your new blog to be hacked, and lose all of your data.
Once everything is filled in, click ‘Pay Now’
Installing WordPress software on your brand new hosting account
After payment, you will directed to your customer area – we bloggers call it a dashboard. Where you are able to install the WordPress software. This step is very easy and simple to do. I found this link provided by Site Ground to be very helpful for this process. Just follow the steps and you are ready to start making your new blog look bad-ass.
Picking/purchasing a theme and installing it
In terms of themes, WordPress has loads to choose from – and they are all FREE too! However, if you want to have more control over the look and style of your blog. I highly recommend purchasing one. This way you can customise your blog, to look exactly how you want it to. Go check out ThemeForest.net. This is where I got my theme from. They have so many themes to choose from. I generally got lost in their website for days – no joke!
At ThemeForest, in the navigation go to “WordPress” in the upper left section of the page. Have a look and see what takes your fancy, you will be blown away with how many they have. Honesty, this part was harder than the set-up itself.
After you’ve purchased a theme and saved it to your desktop. Return to your WordPress dashboard and click “Appearance” > Themes > Upload a New Theme. Here you can upload the .zip file of the theme you just purchased, and you are good to go.
Be sure to choose a theme that has a ‘one click installation’. This means that once you’ve purchased your theme, and upload it to your WordPress blog. It will look exactly the same as the live demo you viewed, before buying it, and you don’t have to worry about learning how to build it. – You’re welcome!
Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of your very own blog. Well, not quite. First things first, I would suggest creating an ‘about’ page, so your readers can get to know you. And that’s about it for the set-up process. If you have any questions regarding starting a blog, or the post above. Please leave me a comment below, I read and respond to all of my comments.