There are so many ways to create and disseminate content in today’s world, and blogging ranks high amongst them.
It’s a fantastic medium of expression, as well as a great way to grow a dedicated audience and enrich people’s lives with value.
The Tech Checklist
Thinking about starting a blog is a step in the right direction, but where do you go from there? What do you need to make it possible?
While it may seem like it, starting a blog is not rocket science. You don’t have to know a thing about coding or web design or have beyond basic technical knowledge to create a great blog for yourself.
All it takes to get started is a little time on your hands, the right tools, and a bit of guidance.
Here’s a five-step checklist to help you start a new blog from scratch without any stress.
Step 1 – Get a Working PC and an Internet Connection
This is very important because it sets the tone for everything else.
If you’re using a computer that keeps crashing or an unstable internet connection, the process of starting a new blog is going to take longer than it should. You might end up frustrated and even consider giving up on the whole idea.
Make sure you’re using a computer that works great and a stable internet connection, then move along to the next step.
Step 2 – Pick a Blogging Platform
You need to figure out the platform that works best for your blogging goals in the long run.
Is this going to be a personal blog or a professional blog?
If your answer is the latter, then you should typically go with a platform that doesn’t have a lot of restrictions.
There are many different platforms to choose from, such as Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr, Wix, Drupal, Gawker, TypePad, Scoop, and the most popular of them all, WordPress.
I recommend that you go with WordPress because it’s more user-friendly, functional, and versatile than the rest. It’s also free, although hosting might cost a few dollars, but more on that later.
There are two of them: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The difference between them is that with WordPress.com:
- Your domain name comes with .wordpress.com attached to it, so it looks untidy.
- There are limited themes to choose from.
- You do not technically own your blog, so you can’t control the ads that pop up, and your blog can be deleted at any time.
- Functionality is restricted.
Choose wisely and remember that to be taken seriously, your blog has to look the part.
Step 3 – Decide On a Domain Name and Hosting Service
See, your blog is well on its way to becoming a real thing, but here’s what you’re going to need next:
- Hosting Service: This is what allows you to post your blog to the internet. A web host will provide servers, dedicated network access, and management software. It’ll store your data and keep your blog up so anyone can go online to view it.
- Domain name: It’s the name of your blog. The URL or web address that makes it possible for people to find your site.
Hosting companies usually charge a little fee for their services, except if you choose a free host, which comes with its fair share of drawbacks.
Some of the most popular hosting services that you can try out are Bluehost, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, SiteGround, 1&1, and Hostgator.
Depending on your hosting service, you may need to manually install WordPress or whatever platform you chose.
When it comes to selecting a domain name for your blog, go with a name that’s short, easy to remember, and isn’t very similar to another existing domain. You’ll need to pick a domain extension such as .com, .org, .net, .biz, .co, etc.
Once you’ve settled on a name, you need to register and reserve it for your blog.
A domain name will typically set you back about $10 a year and you can register with companies like GoDaddy, Namecheap, Bluehost, and Google Domains.
Step 4 – Optimize Your Site For All Devices and Browsers
Longer downtimes or a blog that takes forever to load will never gain traction. These issues are usually linked to either your own PC, hosting services, or lack of optimization of the blog.
If the issue with loading is related to your PC, this can be fixed by boosting the speed of your operating system.
If the issue is hosting related, you might have to look for other hosting options that are more reliable.
If the issue stems from a lack of optimization to your blog, you will have a few things to take care of to ensure it loads fast on all devices and browsers.
Here are the basics of optimizing your blog for your audience:
- Use analytic tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check your blog’s speed and compatibility issues.
- Choose a responsive theme.
- Compress your images to improve loading time.
- Install plugins like Yoast SEO, Jetpack, and iThemes Security to upgrade overall performance and secure your blog.
- Make sure you have cookies and privacy policies so you are compliant with regulations affecting your blog.
You want your blog to load fast and still look good regardless of the browser and device it is viewed on.
Why is speed important? Because it’s one of the crucial ranking factors, and slow websites often don’t get top positions because they are not optimized.
Step 5 – Customize the Look of Your Blog
One of the very first things people notice about a site is its design.
The theme you choose for your blog is going to determine how well it fares—how it looks and feels is where you get to have a lot of fun and be creative.
The blogging platform you choose is going to come with themes that you can choose from and customize to suit your tastes.
The things to keep in mind when customizing your blog are:
- It should not be ugly so try to avoid clashing colors and hard to read fonts.
- Keep it uncluttered and easy to navigate.
- It should reflect your style and the essence of your blog. You wouldn’t choose dark and cold colors if you’re going to start a parenting blog, for example.
You can also buy themes that fit your aesthetic from sites like ThemeForest, MojoMarketplace, Creativemarket, andBYLT.
You should find it very easy and simple to start a new blog by following these detailed step-by-step guide. The entire process from start to finish can fit snugly into an hour, or at least one afternoon if you’re completely new to all platforms.
Once your blog is ready to go, all you have to do is start creating engaging content.
The key to building an audience is consistency and value. Ensure that the content you put out is compelling and unique—something that people can find useful—and commit to a regular schedule.
Keep tweaking your blog as you go until you find the right voice and style and build your audience and following.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.