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How to Start a Blog

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Starting a blog is incredibly rewarding.

Starting this blog–Daring to Live Fully–is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I use my blog for all of the following:

  • As a creativity outlet and as a way to express myself.
  • As a medium for fleshing out my ideas.
  • As a money-maker — as a recovering lawyer, I now make a full-time living from my blog.
  • As a way to be recognized as a thought-leader in the areas of personal development, productivity, and self-learning.
  • As a way to sharpen my business skills.
  • As a way to help and inspire others to live their best lives.
  • As a way to create a legacy.

In addition, in the future I might choose to write a book and have it published through traditional means. In that case, my blog would be a platform that I can use to promote and market my book.

Here are some other ways people use their blogs:

  • To create a portfolio of their work which they can show to prospective employers or clients.
  • As a hobby.
  • As a way to document a journey — a weight loss journey, a home renovation project, a journey to financial independence, and so on.

To tell you the truth, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging when I first got started. In addition, I don’t have a background in technology — when I published my first blog post I was a total newbie when it came to anything technology-related.

However, one of my life mottos is, “I can figure anything out if I set my mind to it”. So, I took the plunge and started to blog.

Soon, I discovered that blogging is a lot easier than it looks, and that –with a little effort–I could in fact figure out everything that I needed to know to become a successful blogger. Also, technology gets more user-friendly every day, so it’s a lot easier to get started blogging today than it was when I got started.

Basically, all you need to do to start a blog is follow 10 easy steps. These are the 10 steps:

  • Step 1 – Believe that You Can Become a Blogger
  • Step 2 – Choose a Topic/Niche
  • Step 3 – Choose A Name and A Domain For Your Blog
  • Step 4 – Choose a Blogging Platform
  • Step 5 – Choose a Hosting Provider
  • Step 6 – Setting Things Up
  • Step 7 – Choose a Theme For Your Blog
  • Step 8 – Write and Publish Your First Blog Post
  • Step 9 – Pick Up Additional Skills As You Go Along
  • Step 10 – Devote One-Hour-A-Day to Blogging

I’m going to take you through these steps, one-by-one.

Step 1 – Believe You Can Become a Blogger

Whatever it is that you want to do–whether it’s to make more money, learn a new language, or start a blog–the first step is to believe that you can do it. Here are some of the beliefs you should adopt in order to gain the necessary confidence to start a blog you can be proud of:

  • I have value to offer to the world.
  • Even though I don’t know how to blog yet, I have the ability to learn everything that I need to know.
  • My blog doesn’t have to be perfect. It will get better as I learn more and become more skilled at blogging.
  • I know that I’ll make some mistakes at first, but that’s OK. I’ll learn from my mistakes and get better as I gain more experience.
  • The only failure is the failure to try.
  • I’m going to be daring, bold, and audacious and get my thoughts and ideas out there.
  • I can do this!

With your new found belief that you have what it takes to become a great blogger, you’re ready to move on to Step 2 and decide what you’re going to blog about.

Step 2 – Choose a Topic/Niche

The first decision that you have to make in order to start a blog is to determine what you’ll be blogging about. When you choose your blog’s niche, or topic, you need to take two basic things into consideration:

  • Choose something that you’re interested in writing about. You have to enjoy writing about the topic that you select, or you’ll get bored after a few months of blogging and quit.
  • There has to be an audience for your topic — that is, choose something that other people will be interested in reading about. This is particularly important if you want to make money from your blog.

Here’s a Venn diagram that I came up with to visually represent what your blog topic should be:

Blog Topic Venn Diagram

You can really start a blog about anything:

  • Review books that you’re reading — Bill Gates has a blog in which he writes about the books he’s reading.
  • Give yourself a challenge and blog about it — one man gave himself the challenge of having 52 new experiences in 52 weeks, and he blogged about it.
  • Become a mommy blogger and blog about your kids’ shenanigans.
  • Write about recipes and cooking tips.
  • Write about getting over a divorce, raising a special needs child, or going back to college after 40.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide on a blog topic:

  • What do I love reading about?
  • What do I love to do?
  • How do I spend my free time?
  • What am I good at?
  • What problems do I know how to solve?
  • What kinds of blogs do I visit on a regular basis? What do my favorite bloggers write about?
  • What do my family members and friends ask me for advice on?
  • What would I like to know more about?
  • Who do I want to write for? What do they want to know?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert on a topic in order to write about it. You just need to be willing to do the necessary research to find out enough about the topic so that you can start writing about it with some authority.

Another tip is not to make your blog’s topic too broad or too narrow. Take a look at the following:

  • You may have lots of interests, but if you write about fishing one day, you post about your favorite book the next week, and then you write about the steps that you’re taking to train your dog to do tricks the week after that, you’ll just confuse your readers.
  • At the same time, if your topic is too narrow you’ll probably have a very small audience and it-s likely that you’ll run out of things to say after publishing a few blog posts.

Make your blog’s topic broad enough that you’ll have lots of people searching for the information you’ll be offering and so that you’ll have lots to say, but also narrow enough that people will know what to expect when they land on your blog.

Here’s a scene from the movie “Julie and Julia” in which the protagonist decides to start a blog and wonders what she should blog about:

Here’s what I recommend you do:

  • Give yourself five minutes to brainstorm 100 possible blog topics.
  • Whittle that list down to your favorites.
  • Rank the topics left on your list by using criteria such as the following: how passionate you are about the topic; how knowledgeable you are about the topic; and how likely it is that you’ll be able to make money by writing about that topic.
  • Once you’ve ranked your topic, the one with the highest score wins. You have a blog topic!

I decided to start a new blog — it’s going to be about becoming well-educated and well-read (a subject which is near and dear to my heart). I’m going to show you how I start this new blog and you can follow along and start your own blog. Sound good? Let’s go.

Step 3 – Choose A Name and A Domain For Your Blog

The next step on your blogging journey is to come up with a good name for you blog. A good name has all of the following elements:

  • It let’s people know what your blog is about –it’s descriptive.
  • It’s catchy and memorable.
  • It’s easy to pronounce and spell.
  • It’s not too long.
  • It helps you to build your brand.
  • It’s in line with the tone/mood that you want for your blog (serious, funny, sassy, inspiring, and so on).

As you can see from my header, my blog’s name is “Daring to Live Fully”. I’m very happy with the name, and I think it helps anyone who lands on my blog to know right away that they’re going to find advice, tips, strategies, and information on how to live their best lives here.

The name of my new blog will be “A Liberal Education in 15 Minutes a Day”. Why? Because I’m going to choose the 365 most important classic works and create a summary of each that can be read in 15 minutes.

Once you’ve chosen a name for your blog, you can select a domain name. Your domain name is just your blog’s URL. As an illustration, the domain name for my blog is daringtolivefully.com. In most cases, you should favor the domain extension “.com”.

The URL for my new blog will be liberaledu15.com. Originally I thought of making it 15minuteliberaleducation.com, but that’s too long. I played around with the words “liberal”, “education”, and “15 minutes”, until I found a combination I liked.

If you’re having trouble naming your blog, one option is to use your full name. Then your domain would just be your name as well. Here are two examples:

  • If your name is “Edith Taylor”, then that would be your blog’s name and your domain would be edithtaylor.com.
  • If your name is “Matt Smith”, then that would be your blog’s name and your domain would be mattsmith.com.

Later on you can add a tagline that describes what your blog is about (my current tagline for Daring to Live Fully is “Live the Length and Width of Your Life”). Here are three examples of how you can use a tagline to let visitors know what your blog is about:

  • If your blog is about home decor, your tagline could be “Simple, Elegant Decor”.
  • If you’re going to write about business your tagline could be “Business Advice You Can Trust”.
  • If you’re going to share the parenting tips that you’ve picked up as you raise your kids, your tagline could be “Raising Happy, Confident Kids”.

The tagline for my new blog is going to be “Become Well-Educated in 365 Days”.

Again, you can come up with your tagline after you have a few blog posts under your belt and you have a better feel for the direction your blog is going to be taking.

When you’ve chosen your domain name, you have to register it. This typically costs about $10 – $12. However, the hosting provider that I’m going to recommend in Step 5 is Bluehost, and you can register your domain name with them as you set up your hosting account, so I’ll be covering domain registration in Step 5.

Step 4 – Choose a Blogging Platform

There are many blogging platforms out there, and they’re basically divided into two categories: hosted (or free) and self-hosted.

Some of the free blogging platforms out there include the following:

  • WordPress.com
  • Blogger
  • Tumblr

The good thing about a hosted platform is that it’s free. The bad thing is that the site isn’t really yours, and you have a lot less freedom to do what you want with it than you would with a self-hosted site.

The three most popular self-hosted platforms are these:

  • WordPress.org (yes, another WordPress platform, but this one is .org and is self-hosted)
  • Joomla
  • Drupal

If you want to have complete control over your blog, then you need a self-hosted platform. With self-hosting your blog will be 100% your property, and you can build it from the ground up as you see fit.

WordPress.org is by far the most widely used self-hosted platform, and the one that I would most definitely recommend. It’s flexible and easy to use. In addition, there are tons of plugins available for WordPress.org which will improve your site’s functionality.

One of the benefits of using Bluehost as your hosting provider–as I recommend that you do in Step 5 below—is that you can install WordPress.org with just one easy click.

Step 5 – Choose a Hosting Provider

A hosting provider basically connects your site to the worldwide web so that it’s accessible to others. It’s vital to choose the right hosting provider. I cannot emphasize this enough.

I made the mistake of choosing the wrong hosting provider when I first started blogging, and that hosting provider went bankrupt and disappeared. As a result of this, I lost my first blog and all of the hard work that I had put into it. Needless to say, this was an incredibly painful experience, which I don’t want you to have to go through.

Some of the things that you should consider when choosing a hosting provider are the following:

  • The hosting provider’s reputation for reliability.
  • The technical support that they offer.
  • The features that they have available.
  • Their prices.
  • Their money-back guarantee.

Taking all of these things into consideration, I recommend Bluehost.com. Here’s why:

  • You get a free domain–as you’re setting up your account with them you simply enter the domain that you want, and it’s registered.
  • As I mentioned before, you can install WordPress.org with one simple click.
  • They have 24/7 support, so there’s always someone available to help you and answer your questions. The Bluehost support staff is courteous and knowledgeable.
  • They score a 99.9% uptime on average, which means your site is always available.
  • They’re very affordable.
  • They allow their users to host multiple domains and websites under one account.
  • They have a 30-day money-back guarantee — during the first 30 days, they’ll refund your hosting fees in full.
  • Set-up is really easy and intuitive – just follow the instructions and you can have your blog up and running in five minutes.

Are you ready? Go to the Bluehost.com site and click on the green “get started now” button. (Yes, I’m an affiliate so I get a commission if you sign up for Bluehost through my link, but you don’t pay anything extra for signing up through me). Then, just follow along with video I made for you below:

Step 6 – Setting Things Up

Since I recommend that you choose WordPress.org as your blogging platform, this is the platform that I’m going to show you how to set up. Once you’ve installed WordPress.org, log into the “administration area” or the back end of your site. This is your “dashboard”, and it’s where the magic happens.

Then, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings > General. Fill out your tagline if you have one (right now it should say “Just Another WordPress Site”), choose your timezone, and save your changes.
  • Go to Users > Your Profile. Fill out your first and last names, choose a nickname (it can be your first name), and the name you want to display publicly. You can also add some biographical information if you want to. Save your changes.
  • Go to Settings > Permalinks. Check “custom structure” and write in the following: /%postname%/

permalink

Now you’re all set up.

Step 7 – Choose a Theme For Your Blog

Once you’ve created your account with Bluehost.com and installed WordPress.org, you’ll have a blog. Yay! The next step is to make it look the way you want it to. You do this by selecting a theme.

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes. The theme “Twenty-Sixteen” will already be activated, but look through the other themes there and see if there’s another one you prefer. If so, install it. You can also visit the WordPress Theme Directory, where you’ll find hundreds of free themes you can choose from.

Alternatively, you can purchase a premium theme. Premium themes have a higher quality and more functionality than the free themes. They’re also better for search engine optimization, which means that if you use a premium theme it’s more likely that your blog posts will rank well in the search engines.

The most popular premium themes right now are these three:

  • Thesis WordPress Theme
  • Genesis Framework
  • Thrive Themes

This blog uses the Thesis theme, and I would have recommended them in a heartbeat a couple of years ago. However, the theme has been updated several times and somehow they’ve managed to make it more complicated and harder to use. Therefore, if you’re a complete blogging newbie, I would not recommend that you get Thesis.

Instead, I would recommend the Thrive Themes. Here’s why:

  • Their themes are conversion focused, which means that they’re designed to help you sell more.
  • Their themes have built-in functionalities so you don’t need as many plugins–this means your site will be faster.
  • With Thrive Themes you can create landing pages and optin forms in minutes.

Of course, you can start out with a free theme and update to a premium theme later on. That’s what I did when I started my first blog.

Step 8 – Publish Your First Blog Post

After you’ve chosen a theme for your blog, you’re ready to start blogging. Click on Posts > Add New. And there you go. Write your first post.

What should your first blog post be about? One idea is to talk a little about yourself, your interests and accomplishments, why you decided to start a blog, and what your blog will be about. However, what you decide to write about is completely up to you!

Always keep in mind that each time you write a blog post your goal should be to strive to create value for others. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • Will this post help people solve a problem that they’re having?
  • Will this post give people information that they need?
  • Will this post inspire or motivate others?
  • Will others find this post entertaining, filled with beauty, instructional, or helpful in some other way?

Your blog posts can be as short or as long as you want them to be, but it’s a good idea to shoot for about 600 words. In addition, you want to post consistently. This doesn’t mean that you need to post daily, but you should post on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to post once a week, and to always post on the same day of the week.

Step 9 – Pick Up Additional Skills and Knowledge As You Go Along

The first eight steps that I’ve explained above are all you need to know in order to start blogging. In fact, you could blog for years without knowing how to do anything else. However, in order to become a successful blogger there are many more things that you need to know.

Blogging, like anything else, is a skill. And, like any skill, it can be learned. When you want to learn a new skill the first thing that you need to do is to deconstruct it into is various components. Then, just tackle one at a time.

Off the top of my head, here’s how I would deconstruct blogging:

  • How to Customize Your Theme’s Design
  • How to Write Catchy Headlines
  • How to Come Up With a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Blog
  • How to Write Content That’s Optimized for the Internet
  • How to Increase Your Blog Traffic
  • How to Build a Loyal Blog Audience
  • How to Submit Guest Posts to Other Blogs
  • How to Re-purpose Your Content
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Networking (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so on)
  • Video Creation
  • Blog Safety
  • How to Monetize Your Blog
  • How to Create eBooks
  • How to Take Beautiful Photographs for Your Blog
  • How to Create Useful Printables
  • How to Pick the Best Plugins for Your Blog

I would like to emphasize that you don’t need to know how to do everything related to blogging in order to get started. When I started blogging I didn’t know how to do any of the things on the list above. Nonetheless, I got started.

I learned how to make my blog better little-by-little as I went along. After all, it’s always a good strategy to learn by doing. I recommend that you do the same: just start your blog and improve it gradually day-by-day by acquiring new skills and trying out different things.

Step 10 – Devote One-Hour-A-Day to Blogging

One of the reasons that you may be hesitating to start a blog is because you may be telling yourself that you simply don’t have the time to blog. However, blogging doesn’t have to take over your life. It’s something that you can do on the side, even if you lead a busy life.

In fact, once you have your blog up and running, all you need to do is devote one-hour-a-day to writing your blog posts and learning the skills that I mentioned in Step 9 above. You’ll be a blogging expert in no time!

Conclusion

To conclude, here’s a two-step summary of the instructions contained in this blog post:

  • Open an account with Bluehost.com.
  • Devote one-hour-a-day to blogging.

Starting a blog may be a little scary at first, but I’m sure you’re up to the challenge. Soon you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t get started sooner!

 

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