Are you looking to start your own blog, but don’t know where to start. Well, you’ve came to the right place.
I’ve put together this handy little starter pack for anyone looking to start a blog. So if you have a passion or experience that you want to share with the world or you want to build your personal brand, then writing a blog is a great way to do both. This starter pack will tell you what you need and have to do to get going without the need for coding or great technical skills.
There are various blogging platforms that you can use, such as WordPress, Medium, Blogger, Wix, Tumblr and many others. Some of these are free but for this starter pack we will use WordPress with your own custom domain name. This is the best option if you plan to blog as a business or want to make money from the blog. If you just to try out blogging before paying for a domain name and hosting then can go to WordPress.com and setup a free blog. You can always buy the domain and hosting once you are ready.
1. Domain Name and Web Hosting
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of web hosting companies to choose from and most will offer an easy install option for WordPress. If you don’t know how to use ftp and setup databases then an easy WordPress install option will be best for you. Most companies will offer a free domain when you buy a web hosting package.
For this example we will go with Godaddy.com, which is probably to most popular hosting company. They have a WordPress Hosting package or Economy web hosting package which is the lowest price options to get started. These only allow for one domain name to be hosted. I would go for the Linux Delux Hosting with cPanel because it allows for multiple domain names to be added to the same hosting. So if you want to make another blog or website you can always add to the same hosting account. Also, with cPanel it will let you setup emails on your hosting for your domain name (for example firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have someone that you trust like a family member or close friend you can share the hosting account and host multiple websites or blogs. Just be aware that if the hosting account gets hacked then all hosted domain could be affected or if one website is getting lots of traffic it could slow down all websites or blogs being hosted.
2. WordPress Theme
A WordPress theme modifies the design and functionality of your blog or website. One of the best things about WordPress is there are thousands of themes available free and paid. For free themes you can find these inside the WordPress admin area, these will be the easiest to install. Go to yourwebsite.com/wp-admin then from the menu on the left select Appearance >> Themes, click the ‘Add New’ button and there will be a grid of themes which you can preview and install. To find other free themes you can also just google free wordpress themes. For paid themes the most popular place is themeforest.net/category/wordpress. Paid themes generally have better designs and more functionality built in. The downside to all this built-in functionality is the theme can be bulky, this can reduce loading times and this may affect SEO.
If you need help installing WordPress then check out my tutorial ‘How to install and setup WordPress‘. Once you have WordPress installed and setup you will need to install a theme, see my ‘How to install a WordPress theme‘ tutorial.
It is a good idea to have a logo for your blog, even if it’s a simple text logo. If you want to do this yourself, do some research and find some wordmark logos (text only) that you like and then look for similar fonts and colours. To design use software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Free alternative software to these is Gimp and Inkscape.
Creating the logo yourself is fine if you don’t want to spend any money but in the long run it would be better to get a professional to help you with the logo and branding. You can find freelance designer online on websites like fiverr.com, upwork.com and 99designs.com. On Fiverr you can get logos design for as little as $5, but just remember you get what you pay for.
4. Google Analytics
Google Analytics (analytics.google.com) is the most widely used tool for tracking and reporting traffic to websites. You can add this to your blog for free to monitor how many people are visiting your blog, where they are from, how long they spend on the blog, how they got to your blog, bounce rates and much more information.
This information is useful because it will give you insights on which blog posts are the most popular, so you can do more similar posts. It will also show you how people are finding your blog; this could be through direct to your blog domain, Google searches, links from social media, and links from other websites or adverts. You can then look at where you need to improve and if something is working then you can focus on that more.
There are two ways to setup Google Analytics on your blog. The first and easiest way to setup is to install a plugin inside the WordPress admin area then copy and paste the code from analytics.google.com. Go to Plugins >> Add New from yourwebsite.com/wp-admin and search Google Analytics. Multiple plugins will be shown, just check the ratings and see which you think is the most suitable.
The second way to setup Google Analytics is to copy and paste the code into the code of the theme. This involves editing the code of the theme so if you are scare of doing this then stick with the first option. If you want to try this way then you need to download the theme or from the WordPress admin area select Appearance >> Editor. The Google Analytics code can go in either the header.php or footer.php files. I would suggest putting in the footer because websites load the header first before the footer, so better to load this after the content and design of the website.
For more helping setting up Google Analytics then check out my ‘How to setup Google Analytics on WordPress‘ tutorial.
5. Google Adsense
If you are getting a lot of traffic to your blog then you might as well try making some money from it by adding adverts. Google Adsense is the most popular and easiest tool for adding adverts to websites, blogs, YouTube videos to make money from views and clicks. Google Adsense lets you choose the size of the ads, as well as whether images, text or both. You can also block certain categories of ads that you think would be inappropriate to your blog, for example you might not want dating or alcohol ads appearing on your blog for children.