Starting a blog can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people at different stages of familiarity with online publishing.
In general starting a blog (or website) can be summed up in 3 steps.
- Obtain a domain name
- Host your website (get it online)
- Connect a publishing platform (ie WordPress)
In this article I’ll walk you through each step and give you some tips on along the way.
How To Get a Domain Name
Generally considered to be the first step in website publishing, buying a domain name is essential to starting a blog.
Assuming you’ve already decided on your website moniker you’ll need to go out and check if it’s available for purchase.
If I’ve grossly misjudged and you actually have no idea how to name your business it’s your lucky day. We have business name ideas too!
Where To Buy a Domain Name
There are a lot of registrars (places you can buy domain names) with the most popular being GoDaddy. They offer general registration opportunities and are also connected to several secondary market sites that allow you to purchase premium domains that are currently owned and up for sale.
- Google Domains (my preferred domain portfolio management platform)
You’ll also find that nearly all website hosting companies offer the option to purchase domain names directly from them.
Without prior knowledge of hosting and installing WordPress you’re definitely going to find the process to be less frustrating by purchasing a domain name directly from the same company that you plan to use to get it on the internet.
You’ll find that there are a few confusing steps that include scary things like DNS, CNAME, and A Records if you choose to use different companies for buying a domain and hosting it online.
Hosting Companies that offer Domain Purchases:
- WPEngine (Where this website is hosted)
If you do buy a domain name at a secondary marketplace sometimes you don’t have any other choice, but to use separate companies. We’ll get to the hosting part later, but for now here are some great places to buy gently used domains.
Aftermarket Domain Marketplaces
In addition to aftermarket domains, there are auction websites that give you the opportunity to bid on expiring or listed domains. It can be very fun to identify names this way, and potentially get a great deal.
Domain Auction Websites
- GoDaddy Auctions
The last, and potentially most interesting place to obtain a domain name is a leasing site. Here you can access super premium domain names for a monthly fee or installment payment. You don’t actually own the domain name right away (or ever in some cases), but as long as you pay your monthly bill the rights to publish on the domain can’t be taken away… assuming a few other rules are followed.
Domain Leasing Companies
If you need help naming your blog, you should definitely check out our post on the do’s and don’ts of picking the perfect domain name.
How To Host a Website (or Blog)
After you’ve successfully obtained a domain name that you love you’re going to want to put it online. That will require a hosting company that keeps your files on their server and pushes them to the web.
As I mentioned earlier there can be nuances to connecting your domain name to your web host. We’ll examine a few options and how each one might apply to your goals.
The easiest way to host your blog is to use a blogging service that comes with an all-in-one solution. There are free and paid versions of this, but in general you’re tying yourself to a proprietary platform with restrictive publishing templates.
Hosting companies like WordPress.com, SquareSpace, Wix, and Duda do a great job at allowing customers to create websites or blogs with no previous knowledge of online publishing. They have simple tools and access to beautiful images and themes that work well for brand new businesses or individuals who don’t have time to learn web development.
What you get in publishing simplicity from these companies also means that when you’re ready to level up to a more sophisticated website it becomes extremely hard. Missing features and pricey upgrades lock you into their service. You risk starting from scratch or manually moving your website if you want to move on from these services so beware of the pitfalls from the start.
One Click Install
Companies like Godaddy, Hostgator, and BlueHost offer easy installation of WordPress’s open source platform. This is a free version of WordPress that allows ultimate customization, but is still easy for first-timers. In the past it was difficult to set up and understand, but the majority of hosting companies have simplified the install to the point where you can get started in an instant.
Additionally, WordPress itself is consistently being improved. A community of developers are always patching bugs and upgrading features to offer cutting-edge publishing technology for absolutely FREE.
If you have a healthy bankroll and would rather dictate development than get your hands dirty there are services who handle every step of starting a blog. If your goal is to make money, then a team of professionals will likely lead you to profitability well before you’re able to achieve it yourself.
LaunchKit, WPBuffs, and BuzzLogic all offer dedicated teams of experienced web developers ready to assist you in getting online quickly and not only starting your blog or website, but ramping it up at a speed you might have thought was impossible.
Publishing Your First Article
You’ve got your domain name, you’ve figured out how to put your blog online, now you just have to write something and hit publish.
Unless your goal is simply to put a random collection of thoughts into the virtual world you might want to actually come up with a strategy to get noticed. That starts with properly formatting your words, images, and site structure to entice Google to rank your website highly.
We cover all of that in detail in separate articles, so we’ll stay basic for now.
When it comes to WordPress you should expect to type words into the editor.
To access the editor you’ll need to choose between setting up a page or a post.
Pages generally house more permanent portions of the website such as “about us” and “contact us” content.
Posts are where the heart of most blogs are. They contain new thoughts and ideas or content that may get updated periodically as the world changes.
WordPress uses a new(ish) system called Gutenberg that gives you flexibility over every “block” of content. Whether that’s a list, a paragraph, or more advanced formatting you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the opportunities to make your content unique.
Once you have it looking post-worthy there’s an option to “publish”. Hit it! There’s nothing more thrilling than putting your first bit of content online… well except for making money off it.
If you got lost or want to defer to an expert about the best way to start your blog we’re here to help! Fill out this form and we’ll chip in with some ideas on how to get you online with little to no resistance.
You Should Read These Next
- 15 Essential Things You Should Know About the WordPress Interface
- How To Install Google Adsense on Your Blog
- How To Get My Brand New Website Ranking, Fast!
- 20 Blog Examples That Make $30,000/mo