How to start a blog
A blogging platform is the internet based software that you will be using. I find the following the easiest to navigate and the most intuitive to set up and use:
Because of its diversity, WordPress is a great blogging and website platform. I’m going to run through the steps for starting a blog on WordPress but if you find that you would prefer another platform, most internet “how to” guides are useful and each platform has their own help guide which is usually designed for people who have never bloggedbefore.
If you are registering your own domain, the hosting company (WordPress or other) will offer you an additional service of privacy settings, where for a nominal fee they can hide your personal details that are linked to your domain. This is a personal choice and stops the lay person web searching your residential address and phone number. But know that anything you put into the internet, is discoverable by those who have more advanced skills, should they want to.
You can get a cheaper domain through hosting sites outside of WordPress but it does offer a very simple process of matching up your domain to your new WordPress site.
The following are some common web hosting services you might like to use:
I recommend using the free WordPress package option (at least for now), you can always upgrade to the bigger packages at a later stage and they probably aren’t necessary unless you are running a website that requires a lot of storage space. You can also have as many WordPress blogs/sites as you like!
Plan: free beginner
Domain hosting: choose a company (or use WordPress to host) Platform: WordPress
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the one to use if you are self hosting (that means you’ve bought a domain via an external company, such as Zuver etc).
WordPress.com is fine for beginners and people who don’t need a website with too much complexity. If you have some technical know how or know someone that does that can help you, and you intend to have lots of extras on your website (for example. you would like to run an online course, use more plugins, have your own custom design, discussion forums etc), then it is worth exploring WordPress.org.
WordPress use the analogy that WordPress.com is like renting a house and WordPress.org is like buying a house—you can make all the alterations and modifications to suit you but you’re also responsible if things break or go awry.
It’s worth noting that whilst you can still sell easily on a WordPress.com site, if online selling is your primary goal, then it’s advised to use WordPress.org.
Choose a theme via the dashboard function (you will need to be logged in). Go to Appearance > theme. Select your theme and click "Preview" to see what it looks like and “Activate”, once you have decided. You can customise it by clicking "Customize".
Choose a theme that represents your business and blog and is consistent with your branding.
WordPress has an array of themes to choose from, some are free and some with a fee attached. The free ones are adequate and customisable but sometimes you might want something a bit more unique or you have seen a design that you just have to have that will do your business justice and then it’s worth paying for your theme. Themes can generally cost approximately $30 -$130 for their lifetime. Their creators will often create updates for the theme (ironing out any bugs, adding more options etc— much like when you update your iPhone apps) and you’ll be alerted when you login to your WordPress blog as to when you need to do this. Often, it only involves clicking “update”.
Remember: your logo will need to be prominent, ideally in the top header/banner, so be sure to choose colours and design that will complement your logo and branding.
Don’t forget that the majority of people will be viewing your blog on their phone or tablet, so you need to make sure that it looks okay on these devices too. When you are customising the theme, there is a little icon that displays a computer, phone and tablet image and by clicking on each one, it will give you a preview of what it will look like on each device.
Pages are the static pages of text that can be chosen from the menu. One page will contain your blog posts and more often than not, this will default as your home page, although you can change this in the dashboard. It’s up to you which page you choose as your landing page (where people “land” when they type in your web address) but I recommend that it be your home page or your blog posts, which may be one and the same.
You may choose to have a home page that acts as an introductory text, especially if you are combining your website and blog into the one platform.
To add pages to your menu (or your menu may reside at the top or side of your page), go to: Dashboard> Appearance> Menu.
Posts are the rolling, usually reverse chronological order boxes of text that you will be regularly updating. This is where your blog posts will go. All your posts will sit on one page (unless you direct them to various pages, based on categories—this is an option for the more advanced users or the more complex site).
You can password protect any post that you wish. This may be a useful tool in case you have content that only some people are privy to; maybe it’s private information that you would like to keep for your friends or your regular clients. Or maybe you have a subscription service where people pay to access some of your content. WordPress has a plugin for more advanced users such as Membership, which helps to organise subscription services like a lot of modern news services offer these days or LMS plugins which allows you to run online courses. There is undoubtedly a plugin for everything you can think of. Try having a search through the plugin directory (you’ll need WordPress.org to install plugins).
Copyright belongs to you if it’s your own work. You are automatically granted copyright— you don’t have to do anything. On the other side of the coin—do not plagiarise! You’ll ruin your reputation at the click of a button. That applies for uploading other people’s images to your website or blog. You must fully accredit the creator of the image. Australian Copyright Council is a useful resource for all copyright information.
Once you've set up your blog there is nothing left to do but start blogging! Write all those interesting and rich posts and share with the world. You might like to read these posts to help with writing blog posts:
What makes a good content article?
How to develop excellent structure.
Want to start blogging? Here's what you need to know.