How to Start a Blog - For 2021 & Beyond
Here we are, albeit with different intentions. You are here to start your own blog, and I am here to help you do so in the most simple, jargon-free, and not to mention economical method out there.
Without further ado, Shall we?
What is a Blog, after all?
No, we aren't taking a brief history lesson on blogging (maybe some other time). However, what you do need to know is what defines a blog.
I am not one for textbook definitions, but here's how I would simplify it:
A Blog is a website where you broadcast your opinions on a particular subject.
A Website is a collection of one or more web pages.
If you are one for intricate details, you can read Every Blog is a website but not every website is a Blog.
Also, if you are the type of person who likes to know the why of things before they get to the how (I do fall in this category), read Why should you start a Blog?
What to Blog About?
This is perhaps the most important question you need to ask yourself. And surprisingly, it has a simpler answer than you might think: your Passions.
Yes, all those idiosyncratic things you like, follow and celebrate are your Passions. While there isn't a list of official Passions one can have (and honestly shouldn't be), you do know the difference between enjoying something and doing something just to pass the time.
Watching re-runs of FRIENDS is good entertainment, but it isn't a Passion. Just know if it does seem like a pastime, it probably is.
Yes, you may have multiple Passions, and that's great, but you shouldn't blog about all of those simultaneously, at least not now. Instead, you must choose one.
Here’s probably the best tool to help you 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. It does not matter.
In this list lies your ideal Blog topic, so let’s filter it down.
Of all your Passions, there are some that you are better at or know more about than others. Eliminate the options you aren’t so good at or don’t know enough about.
In my list, I have spent a long time playing Tennis, but I have recently started to learn the intricacies of Gardening and playing the Guitar; thus, I am going to eliminate the latter two from the list.
Of the remaining items, I am a better Photographer than a Movie-buff or a voracious reader. Thus, I am better off giving Photography advice than recommending movies or books. I will now eliminate Watching movies and Reading.
And then there were two!
Of the two options, I would choose Tennis over Photography. I have played the sport for 5+ years, actively follow it, and love discussing it.
So, Tennis it is!
The above example is how one can choose a Blog niche from their Passions. My list will differ from yours, but the filtering criteria remain the same. If you are still confused about deciding what to choose, reach out to me here.
3 Steps to launch your blog today
Now that you have a blog niche, it's time to launch the blog!
Note: Please do not skip to this step if you haven’t decided on your blog topic/niche yet; click here to read the section on the same.
Launching your blog requires 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Finalizing a Domain Name.
Step 2: Purchasing a Hosting + Domain Name Package (Not very expensive).
Step 3: Setting up a WordPress theme.
I will try my best to simplify these steps for you but do follow all the instructions diligently. The last thing we need is wasted time and expenses.
Step 1: Finalizing a Domain Name
Let me first unravel the very meaning of a Domain Name. Here’s a not-so-textbook-but-really-thoughtful version of it:
Domain Name is the address of your blog on the Internet.
The Domain name of our Blogging 101 website is blogging1o1.com, which you can see at the top of your browser window.
Consider your blog to be this house party everyone is invited to, but unless you let them know the house address, how will people know where to show up?
It (domain name) needs to be unique, or else we’d end up with multiple websites of the same web address. Thankfully, it never happens, as once a domain name 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 should have a domain name such as theopinion.com or theliberal.com. The more relevance it has, the easier it is to remember.
Now, we need to figure out the perfect domain name for your blog, and to do so, we’ll need the old faithful: Pen and Paper.
Go through the following guidelines and write down possible domain names that are relevant to your blog.
Guidelines 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.
If I were making a list of possible Domain Names for a travel blog, it would look something like this:
The above list is for illustration purposes only. Yours will be different than mine. Remember, if a domain name really clicks for you, but it's against the above guidelines, ignore the guidelines.
Once we have the list of possible domain names, we need to run it through a Domain Name Registrar to check for availability. This is important because no matter how great of a domain name you come up with, if it’s already taken, it’s of no use.
Before we cross-check Domain Name availability, we need to understand a basic yet essential concept of Domain Name Extensions.
Domain name extensions are what comes after the end of the domain name.
For now, know that we need the .com domain name extension. If you want to know more, read Why the ‘.com’ extension is important.
Run every possible domain name on your list through any of the links below. Make sure you type in the .com extension at the end.
Note: Important! We are just checking the availability for now. Please do not make any purchases yet.
If you find the above task daunting, follow the video tutorial below.
If a domain name isn’t available, remove it from the list. Once you are done checking the entire list and eliminating the options accordingly, you’ll get a refined list of domain names that you like and are available too!
Now, finalise anyone from the remaining options but do not make a purchase, just finalise it on paper for now.
Important: This step is meant to Finalize a domain name, that’s all. Do not make a purchase right now. We have better buying options ahead.
Step 2: Choosing a Hosting
If you consider the Domain Name to be the address of your house, think of hosting as the house building itself.
For your blog to be live (active), it must store its files. Hosting service provides this facility of storing all the files/data of your blog, thus, in a way hosting your blog.
Web Hosting is where all of your blog files will be kept. Every one of them.
All your blog files need to be online, i.e., connected to the internet 24 X 7, and this is what Web hosting services offer.
Every time you visit a blog, all you see is loaded from an online computer. If the computer isn’t online, you’ll get a blank page. Thus, we pay web hosting services to host our blog files on their super-fast computers, which are always online.
Technically, you can host your blog files on your computer, but it is highly ill-advised.
You need a Web Hosting service that is reliable and has excellent customer support—reliability in the sense of how their servers (super fast computers) are almost always online. If you run into an issue, a competent Customer support team is a call away.
No, you don't need to investigate these Web hosting services for their reliability and customer support. I have already done it for you.
Below are the links to two of the best Hosting + Domain name plans for a beginner blogger. You can go with any one of them.
These plans include domain name registration (for one year) and hosting services (for one year), and WordPress installation (more on this later).
Simply follow the below video tutorial to complete the process:
If you find any of the above steps challenging to follow or are confused about something, feel free to drop a comment here. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Step 3: Setting up WordPress
Let me give you a simplified definition of WordPress:
WordPress is a platform that eases the design and management process of a Blog.
It was created so that almost everyone (even the non-technical folks) can design and maintain a website/blog.
Click on the video below to learn how to set up your blog using a WordPress theme.
If you’ve made it this far, Congratulations! You’ve successfully launched your blog into the online galaxies.
This was an honest attempt at simplifying the blogging process for all of you. If you can improve the guide, or if you have a query that's bothering you, do write it in the comments section below.
It doesn't end here, though. There is so much to learn. Read the below articles to take your Blogging knowledge further.