I’ve had an overwhelming amount of questions about blogging lately, so I decided to do a whole big, bad informative post on how to start a blog. Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me – I’m so excited to see what you create!
What is a blog?
A blog is a website with chronological posts, typically in an informal or conversational style. People use blogs to write about their opinions, passions or something they are knowledgeable about (well…not always..), including travel, beauty, technology, productivity, ranting about politics or anything your heart desires.
Some of my favorites bloggers include:
If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog, I encourage you to do it! For me, I use a blog as a way to keep family and friends updated on my life while I’m abroad, but also as a way to inspire and motivate other people to change their life.
When I first started, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and found it helpful when other bloggers wrote out their honest opinions on the different aspects of blogging. So, here are my tips for starting a blog.
Here is a basic list of what I am going to talk about (I’ll jump around a bit):
Step one: Choose a platform
Step two: Choose a domain name
Step three: Pick a theme and design your blog
Step four: Choose plugins
Step five: Write killer content
When you are first starting out, I recommend using a free blogging platform. If you are just blogging for fun or to let off some steam, there’s no point in investing.
When I first began blogging, I used Weebly. It’s free and is a drag-and-drop format – really easy to use but limited customization. When I got a bit more serious about blogging, I moved to WordPress.com. This is also a free platform, with limited capabilities unless you upgrade (any free platform will be like this).
I also purchased my own domain name, because if you want to be taken seriously, you need to have your own domain (not yourwebsite.wordpress.com). Domain names are usually pretty cheap, I believe I paid about $26 USD (yearly). If you aren’t ready to buy one, at least check to see if the domain you want is available. You wouldn’t want to start a blog and find out the domain is already used by someone else. This happened to me, which made me have to completely rebrand when I moved to WordPress.com. You should also check if the social media handles are available.
Once I had established somewhat of a following and wanted to get even more serious about blogging, I decided to self-host. Self-hosting means you are in control of the server, domain, software, etc. It gives you unlimited flexibility on what you can do with your site, but it also means there is more responsibility and much more to learn – you really need to be committed! I still really don’t know much about the mechanics of self-hosting, but I like it better than hosting from as free platform.
Haley Unscripted is hosted by Bluehost. For only $3.49/month, Bluehost can help you set up and host your blog. Because I am a Bluehost affiliate partner, my readers can use this link to receive a 50% discount off the monthly price and a free domain. I do receive a small percentage of your purchase (at no cost to you) but I recommend Bluehost because I truly believe it’s a great service. Bluehost has a 24/7 live chat feature that has saved my ass close to a dozen times.
After you get set up on Bluehost, I recommend setting up your blog (installing through Bluehost) on WordPress.org – around 18% of all websites are hosted on WordPress. Again, you can use the live chat feature at any time and they can answer any questions you may have.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress.com is the free blogging platform, which has limited capabilities (great for beginners). You are able to choose from a wide range of themes, and WordPress takes care of security and backup for you. WordPress.org is for self-hosting, where you manage security and backups through your hosting site. WordPress.org allows for much more customization and functionality.
Read more here for more information and a side-by-side comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Next you’ll want to pick out a theme, which is the look and feel of the site. I purchased mine through MOJO Marketplace because they are integrated with Bluehost. If you are made of money, you can even pay them to install the theme for you and set it up like the demo.
WARNING: If you already have a blog setup on WordPress, uploading a theme will most likely jumble all of your content. Just be prepared for this, most themes don’t upload like the demo version you looked at before purchasing.
Plugins are an add-on to your site and allow you to do more things with your site than WordPress (only available for self-hosted sites) allows. Think of plugins like a mouse you would plug into your laptop – it extends the functionality of your computer. Some popular plugins help you to create contact forms, gather an email database, increase your SEO (search engine optimization – more on this later, no need to worry about it now), add social media icons or add a photo slider to your blog. You can search for them on WordPress or simply Google the type of plugin you are looking for.
Start writing stuff worth reading! Figure out what you like to write about and who you are writing to.
Find your voice – are you serious and deep? Goofy and sarcastic? Charming and witty? This will take time to develop – try different styles and be patient.
Don’t be so hard on yourself when you first start writing. You will be inconsistent. You will make mistakes. It’s all just a part of the wonderful learning process!
What other questions do you have about blogging? Seasoned bloggers – what other tips do you have for new bloggers?