How to Start Your Blog: Domain, Hosting and Theme (Part 1)

how to start your blog

This post is the second in a series.  Hope you are following!

To read post the first post, Go Here.

How To Start Your Blog begins with choosing your niche or main topic.

You can scroll down to see the related video where I walk you through these first steps.

When choosing your niche, make sure it’s something you are passionate about so you will enjoy sharing content about the topic.  The current recommended length is over 300 words.  However, I’ve found that posts over 700 words do the best on both organic traffic and reader response.  Your readers are simply more engaged when there is more content to keep them on the page.

This also helps your status with the search engines – when people view more than one page per visit, and stay on the site over 30 seconds.  My site is currently over a minute – that’s not bad for a world where you have about 7 seconds to get someone’s attention.

How to Start Your Blog: After You’ve Chosen Your Niche, Then You Need a Domain Name

There are a few options to consider here…

You can keep it “Super Simple” and choose your NAME, if it’s available.  FirstNameLastName.com is a great domain to share with your followers!

If it’s not available, then you can look for YourName + Keyword (or cool, catchy word).  Avoid crazy or “phonetic” spellings of “normal” words; the search engines will take a lot longer to find you with this, unless you are crazy-talented with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Another option is to simply choose a keyword or keyword variation as your domain name, or some cool name that you can optimize with related keywords.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool is a great free tool to help you with Keyword Research when you are first getting started.  You will need to set up an ad account, but you can enter a known “safe” website for your URL when only doing research.  You aren’t actually going to place any ads at this point.  So, when you set up the account, skip the ad set-up portion, and go right to Tools > Keyword Planner, and just do your research.

Get your Domain Name on NameCheap.  They have simple charges, and don’t increase the amount on your domains on the second year like some of the big companies do.  The everyday pricing for US customers is $10.86 (with tax, as of this writing, September 2016), and they do run “$0.88” specials on certain extensions from time to time.

That said, I absolutely recommend getting the traditional “.com” if it’s available.  After that, it doesn’t matter if you are driving paid traffic, but read the guidelines on other extensions if you hope to get some organic traffic as well.  They have great customer service, too.  I had an account that was buggy, and it was resolved within a couple of hours.

Namecheap.com

The importance of your Domain Name…

Here is a quote from Forbes on the importance of choosing the right domain name (Original Post):

Keyword-rich domain names attract higher click-through rates.  If used, short names should be minimally confusing and avoid conflicts with existing and new domains.  Businesses choosing a new name should follow established best practices. [Salesforce.com related article]

Choosing a domain name is important in establishing a business’s online presence, and making the right choice is not entirely obvious. Caution is advised.  As in real estate, location matters, and it’s essential to check out the neighborhood before buying in.

Now you understand the importance – BUT – and this is a very SERIOUS BUT – don’t get stuck here – take yourself through the research, pick a domain name, buy it, and get started.  Again, keeping it very simple – just get your name if it’s available.  The primary exception here is if you already own a business, have a trade mark, or have an invention or idea for one that you want to promote to help solve people’s problems.  It’s really that simple. 🙂

How to Start Your Blog: Now that you have a Domain, You Need Hosting!

If you are an absolute beginner, it’s totally fine to just add the hosting offer you will get from NameCheap while you are buying your domain.

If you want to spread your accounts (and sign up for an affiliate account with both), then I recommend A Small Orange for Hosting.

Again, their plans are simple to understand, and they offer very low cost for when you are just getting started.

When your blog is new, it will take some time to build up traffic, so their “Small” plan is great at $5 per month – it also includes a free domain for the first year, so you could also just get everything here.

Totally your choice and there is no wrong one here.  I do recommend you buy at least one year up front, this is part of the search engine ranking system. Longer active hosting can help you out a little.  This is a business of millimeters, so every little bit helps!

[Frequent discounts!  As of this writing, they are offering 60% off hosting for new customers!]

After you’ve purchased the hosting, your host company should have a tutorial on how to change the “Name Servers” on your domain to their servers. (If you don’t have both in the same location.)  If you can’t find it, search the support, FAQ or knowledge base for “how to point my domain name servers to [Company XYZ] host servers.”  That should get you what you need.

How to Start Your Blog: Installing WordPress

First, this is WordPress.org, not WordPress.com, and this is an important distinction.

WordPress.com offers free “blogs” to people.  You can “map” your domain to the free site, and even add some linking to monetize it.  BUT, you don’t control the site, they do.  There are very strict rules about what can be promoted (no home business, make money, etc.), and other restrictions.

If you want to be an online marketer and real internet entrepreneur, then you need your very own little piece of paradise – get a chunk on online real estate, name it, host it, OWN IT!

With this path, you will buy your domain, get hosting, and then build your site using the framework from WordPress.org.

The next step is to install WordPress on your site.  Find your C-Panel from your hosting account, and then scroll until you see softward or installations or apps – something like that.  Then you should see a WordPress logo.  Click that and follow the directions to upload WordPress on your site.  [There are more tips in the video below.]

Pulse check: If the chat so far is making you break out in hives just seeing the WordPress Dashboard, then please join an Affiliate Marketing System, and learn what to do first.  Here’s what I recommend for those already in Home Business or Small Businesses.

What If You Want To, But You Just Can’t Do It?

Well, first, Can’t should be erased from your vocabulary if you want to be an entrepreneur.  Period.

However, if you really want to do this, but have a technical brain-block, outsource it.

Likewise, if you’re just too busy at your “day” job, then you buy the domain and hosting, and outsource from there.  This frees up time for you to start working on the next steps faster.

You can find highly qualified freelancers on Fiverr.com or UpWork.com to build it out for you.  You should have an idea of the style of logo you want. Also, it’s very helpful to shoot a quick video or send pictures with sites that you like so the freelancer knows what you want.  You should expect to hire one person for graphic design and another (WordPress Pro) to build out the website.  However, there are people who offer the full service.  This service can run from $50 – $3000, depending on what you need/want.  Be very specific and you will get a good result.

How to Start Your Blog: Choosing a Theme

Your theme determines the “look” of your blog.

There are a ton of free WordPress themes available (Google it).

You can also find thousands of paid themes on a variety of sites.  There are a lot of great ones.  Make sure you choose one that has good support to help you find your way around when you start using it.  You don’t want to have to outsource every little change, you want to be able to do basic things and create posts without pulling out a manual each time.  Wordpress alone makes the posting part pretty easy.

The theme I use on my sites is Optimize Press 2.0.  It’s mobile responsive (very important), and you can create lead capture pages, sales pages and lots more with it.  You do have to purchase it, and there’s an annual (small) fee for maintaining updates and support.  There’s a full community of support, updated templates you can download for free, and excellent support.

What about the Plugins?

In the video I do install one plugin and set up some “legal” pages.  However, this post is already at 1600+ words, so we will cover that again in the next post when I talk about plug-ins.  Plugins are add-ons that give your site more functionality based on your specific business needs.  Wordpress alone is designed to be lean and mean, and you add only the plugins that you need.

Where do I get these wacky ideas?  Well…

My inspiration for this series was an eBook called Shiny Object Lemonade by Lee Murray.  It’s the most fun you can have for $5 (as of this writing).   Have you ever found yourself in possession of courses or tools you haven’t yet opened?  What about joining an opportunity to change your life, but then not really doing anything with it (while you watch others make tens of thousands of dollars!)? If you can answer yes to either of these, then you may have once been a willing victim of Shiny Object Syndrome.  Why not make Lemonade?  Those programs and tools aren’t really lemons, you probably just moved on to the next thing too quickly to let it work.  See you how can use this to finally start generating some income online!  Get it here.

Since this site was already built, I picked a niche I’m very passionate about – making healthy changes in my life.  I’m choosing to share this adventure with you.  I really hope you enjoy it!

Stay tuned in to the series!  Next up we will get that site LIVE!

If you’ve found this helpful, please comment and share.

Missed the first post?  Read it here.

I’m a mom, business coach, marketing consultant and marketer.  I love helping people change their lives by achieving ambitious goals!

I’m also an affiliate and may make a commission if you buy something promoted in these posts.  I truly appreciate you and your support!

Peace out!

About The Author

Penny Kelley

Penny Kelley is a Professional Coach and Consultant specializing in Traffic and Lead Generation. She is passionate about helping marketers and entrepreneurs achieve ambitious goals and live their dreams. She is also a wife, mom to two great kids and one spoiled cat, wine lover and soccer fan. She intimately understands the importance of maximizing your productivity in your business and your life! How can Penny help you achieve your goals?

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