How to Start a Blog – For 2020 & Beyond
Probably, the best blogging guide on the planet.
Dear reader, you are probably here because you want to start blogging or are at least thinking about it. Well. you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll start with the most basic concepts from knowing what is a blog, why you should create one, and how you can make money from it.
Everything that you need to know, is here. You can skip to whichever section you are looking for with the designated buttons on the left.
So, shall we blog?
What is a Blog, after all?
Although, you don’t need to know the history of blogging, you do need to understand the fundamental meaning of a blog.
I am not one for textbook definitions, so here is a simplified version:
A blog is a web page, where you broadcast your opinions towards a particular subject.
A Website is a collection of one or more web pages that display information. Every blog is a website but not every website is a blog. For example, If a delivery service has a website that showcases its services, then it is a blog. However, if an employee of the same delivery service creates a website to write about their opinions of the delivery industry, then it is a blog.
Still confused, click here to know more: why every website is not a blog.
Why Should you Start a Blog?
Friedrick Nietzsche once said, “He who has a ‘why’ to live for, can bear almost any ‘how’.”
For you to stay consistent with your blogging endeavours, you must know ‘why’ you’re blogging in the first place. Many of you may think ‘making money’ or getting a ‘side-hustle’ is one of the main motivations behind starting a blog, which is the partial truth.
The main motivation behind starting a blog should always be ‘providing value’, the money you can make is always the byproduct.
So, what is this arbitrary ‘value’ that I am going glorifying? It’s the value that a travel enthusiast looks for on a travel blog, an eccentric individual searches for on a DIY blog, and one that a sport-enthusiast gets all excited about on a sports blog.
Then, is this value only reserved for absolute experts? No. Let’s get one thing straight. Every expert, regardless of the field, broadcasts their opinions, and that is what we value them for. If all the experts had to say were facts and scientific explanations, we wouldn’t need them, we can find all of it in books.
You have your opinions too, so why take this golden opportunity to broadcast them to the world? You don’t need to cast your opinions about the world politics if you don’t know the first thing about it, there are enough people doing it already.
The world needs to know your opinions, preferably, towards the domains you actually know about.
What to Blog About?
The question then becomes, what exactly should you blog about? It’s a simpler answer than you may think: your Passions.
Yes, all those idiosyncratic things that you like, follow and celebrate, as weird and personal as they are. So, should you blog about all of them? No, that’d be quite a task, and really stupid, too. Instead, you must choose one, for now at least.
Here’s probably the best exercise to choose from the multitude of your passions: lists. You need to make a list of all the things you are passionate about. Here’s what mine would look like:
Your list can be shorter/longer, more detailed/less detailed than mine is, it does not matter.
Now we need to choose one of these Passions as the main topic of our blog.
Let the filtering begin!
Now, mark the things you are better than others. In my list, I know more about Tennis than Gardening & playing the Guitar, so I am going to eliminate the latter ones.
Now of the remaining items, I don’t watching enough movies to recommend them to people, I am better at Photography than being a movie-buff. So I’ll keep Photography and eliminate ‘Watching movies’.
And then there were two!
In all honesty, I am better at Tennis than I am at Photography, I follow the sport, I know the tactics, and it’ll be easier for me to follow.
The blog niche I have chosen is ‘Tennis’.
This was just an example, your end result might be a Travel blog, a Sports blog, a Fashion blog, an Auto blog, it can be anything.
A 3-step Process to launch your blog today.
Now that we have our blog topic, it’s time to get started.
Note: Please do not skip to this step if you haven’t decided on your blog topic yet, click here to read the section on the same.
Launching your blog requires 3 simple steps:
Step One: Finalizing a Domain Name
Step Two: Purchasing a Hosting + Domain Name Package
Step Three: Setting up a WordPress theme
I will simplify these steps for you, but please follow the tips diligently, the last thing we need is wasted expenses.
Step 1: Getting a Domain Name
Yes, I will first unravel the very meaning of a ‘Domain Name’. Here’s an ‘not-so-textbook-but-really-thoughtful’ version of it
Domain Name is the address of your blog. If your blog doesn’t have a unique address, how would people reach it?
It needs to be unique, else we’d end up with multiple websites of the same web address. Thankfully, it never happens, as once a domain is assigned for a duration, it isn’t available for purchase.
Your blog needs a domain name, and it needs to be unique, preferably catchy, and easy to remember. Oh, and yes! It needs to be relevant.
A blog on world politics won’t have the domain name ‘AtoZrecipes.com’, would it? Instead it could have an address such as ‘theopinion.com’.
Now, we need to figure out the perfect domain name for your blog, and to do so, we’ll need the old faithfuls: Pen and Paper.
Go through the following tips and write down possible domain names that are relevant to your blog.
Tips for a better domain name:
– Avoid long domain names, aim for something between 7-16 characters.
– The Better it is to pronounce, the easier it is to recommend to people.
– Make it relevant to your Blog niche.
– You can’t put a space in a domain name. You can insert special characters such as ‘@,*,_,-‘ but it is advised to avoid them. Make sure your domain name looks pleasant altogether without spaces.
C’mon now, I won’t leave you all hanging. Say I am launching a ‘travel blog’, here would be a probable list of domain names for it.
The above is a brainstorm list, yours can be shorter/longer, it doesn’t matter. Try to be just a bit imaginative here. And remember, if a domain name really clicks for you, but its against the guidelines above, ignore the guidelines.
Once we have the list, now we need to choose one, but before doing that, it’s better to run your list through a Domain Name Registrar, to check for the availibility of the Domain Name.
Run every name on your list through any of the links given below, if you need more help, click here to watch a video on the same.
Based on the availibility, we need to eliminate the options in the list. Of the remaining options, you may choose any one you like.
Note: DO NOT, and I mean do not make a purchase just now, we have better options later, so for now, if you like a domain name, and it’s available, just write it down for now.
Step 2: Choosing a Hosting
If you consider the Domain Name to be the address of your house, then hosting is the infrastructure of the house.
If you don’t build the infrastructure of the house, all that people will find on the address is barren land.
I’ll define it in my words as
Hosting services are the ones who load your blog on their computers, so that they’re available to the world 24 X 7.
Every time you visit a blog, it is loaded on a computer somewhere in the world. If the computer isn’t on, you won’t see your blog, that’s how hosting works. Thus, we pay hosting services a sum of money to host our blog on their super-fast computers.
Another question you may have is, why don’t people host their blogs on their home computers? Well, the short answer is, your computer and your internet connection isn’t up to the spec required to host a blog. For more detailed explanation, head over to ‘why self-hosting your blog isn’t advised’.
Hosting a blog doesn’t require premium levels of hosting but it requires a reliable host. If your hosting service is down, and a user visits your blog, they won’t see your blog at all. So, the number one requirement for a good host, is their reliability and customer services.
Hosting plans do have a tenure too, the longer you commit, the better discount you get.
Don’t worry though, you don’t have to make a bad decision because I am giving you a way to make a really great one.
Most of the hosting services offer bundle packages for bloggers, which usually includes a one year package of hosting, and a year of domain name registration. This is what we are going to choose.
Below I have provided links to the bundle packages offered by ‘Hostgator’, ‘GoDaddy’ and ‘Bluehost’, with a video tutorial on the side.
Click any of the links for a thorough tutorial on the same.
Step 3: Setting up WordPress
WordPress is a platform which eases the whole process of website design and management, such that a non-technical person can operate a website all on their own.
WordPress as a platform is Free, but WordPress themes aren’t. Don’t worry, we don’t need the functionality of the premium themes as yet.
Click on the video below to learn how to setup your WordPress by using a free theme.
If you’ve made it this far, Congratulations! You’ve just successfully launched your blog into the online world.
Launching a blog and maintaining it, are two very different things, follow the related articles below to get better at Blogging, and to expand your reach.