So you want to start a blog? You have come to the right place.
Starting a blog can seem very daunting at first, especially when you’re not exactly sure where to start. So this guide is to help you get going so you can get into blogging with confidence.
First, why do you want to blog?
The “why” is the most important part of getting started honestly, because your “why” is what will motivate you to actually blog. There really is no specific “why” that is more motivating than another because it’s different for everyone. But, I can confidently say that the bloggers that get into blogging for the enjoyment of writing tend to keep going much longer than those who don’t have that enjoyment. There are many ways to create content about things you enjoy, from video to podcasts and beyond, so the enjoyment of writing is what draws people to blogging, myself included.
How do you find your “why”? Well, just think about if you told someone that you wanted to start a blog and they ask you why. What’s the motivation behind it? That’s really all it takes.
Alright, you’ve got your “why”. What’s next?
Well, the basic things you need to blog are as follows, in order of importance:
- A topic(s) to write about
- A name for the blog
- A website
Choosing a Topic
I find most people, myself included, jumped into blogging without necessarily figuring out the best fitting topic first. Your topic is hands down the most important part of your blog because it’s what people come to your site for and it’s what you are going to spend important time working on. It’s easy to want to jump to the name and site because that’s fun. But really, your topic is much, much more important.
One thing I definitely want to clarify is the difference between topics and niche. Niche is very often used in blogging to describe the overarching topics of your blog. Niche is pretty broad and is meant to cover a wide variety of topics under specific umbrellas. Topics are meant to be more specific and narrow down what you specifically write about. You can write about multiple topics on your blog and still fit under one to two niches. Yes, a blog can fit under more than one niche, but really wouldn’t have more than two. An example of this is a geeky DIY blog. It’s both in the geek niche and DIY niche.
Let’s use A Geek Girl’s Guide as an example. Generally, the niche for A Geek Girl’s Guide is just a geek blog. That is pretty broad, especially when you look at multiple blogs under that one niche and how they can talk about entirely different topics. For me, the most used topics of A Geek Girl’s Guide are video games, board games, Disney, and Harry Potter. All of those fit under the umbrella of geek. Other topics you can find under this umbrella are anime, roleplaying, theme parks, comics, books, movies and TV, and many more. And some blogs only focus on one topic, like a site that only covers video games.
You may be thinking, why don’t I just choose a niche instead of topics? Well, to be honest, you don’t really choose your niche. Your niche chooses you once you start writing. And what do you write about? Your topics. Thus why choosing your topics is so important. It is the compass for your blogging adventure.
Naming your Blog
Alright, naming your blog is super fun and also super stressful. It certainly is an important decision since it’s the namesake of your new creative venture. It also is the driving force of many future choices, like usernames on social media, branding decisions, and your domain (we’ll take more about the domain in the website portion).
Most importantly with choosing a name for your blog, it has to be unique. By unique I mean no one else is using it for a blog name. You will save yourself so many headaches with some simple Google searches. One of those headaches, which is a headache I have had, was having the blog name too similar to another site (in my case it was a business, not a blog, but it still was way too similar). I found this out after I had already started blogging, which was not great because I then had to undergo a complete rebrand. Lucky for me, it was early enough into my blogging to not be horribly detrimental and now it is A Geek Girl’s Guide which is way more fitting for me.
Speaking of fitting, your blog name should connect with you and your personality. Back to my personal example, this blog was formally called Geek Chic. If I was a geeky fashion blog it would make sense, but I never wrote about anything like that and don’t even fully understand why I name the blog that. A Geek Girl’s Guide fits me so much more, and better supports my content of how-tos and reviews and the lack of fashion posts.
With those tips in mind, start brainstorming blog names. Write them down, write variations of them down, and then share those names with someone to help. My brother is my opinion-giving go-to person, so he helped when I chose to do the full rebrand. The second opinion, especially if you get it from someone who knows you well, is super helpful.
Of course, if you really have to, you can change the name and rebrand like I did. However, the longer your blog is up and you’re using it, the harder and more tedious that will become. So take the time to choose your name the first time.
Setting Up Your Website
Alright, you know what you’re going to write about and you have a name, so now you need the actual website to host your blog.
Full disclosure, this can either be very simple or very hard depending on certain choices you make. However, that is what this handy guide it for! This is where the web designer in me comes out.
I will be straightforward and say I recommend WordPress 100%. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) and it’s the platform that you will manage your site through. There are two iterations of WordPress, known as .com and .org.
.com WordPress is hosted, meaning you do not have to buy separate hosting in order for your blog to be seen online. You can start using .com WordPress for free from the start, including a free domain that would look like example.wordpress.com. You can buy a domain via .com as well if you choose to. .com WordPress is limited though, and I’ll get into the pros and cons later and all it includes later.
.org WordPress needs to have a separate hosting service purchased for it to attach to and seen online. An example of this is buying hosting from GoDaddy and then installing .org WordPress onto it. You will also have to buy your domain separately and you are not given a free one. There are more opportunities for customization with this iteration but also takes more setup.
Which should you choose? It really depends on what you want and how much time and effort you want to put into getting started. If you just want to write and not really worry about anything else, I’d say go with .com. If you are aiming to grow your blog, want monetization opportunities, and want the potential for expansion and customization, go with .org from the get-go.
If I could rewind to when I started this blog, I would choose .org over what I am currently using, which is .com. I have outgrown .com in many ways, and have reached the point where if I want to increase my options with .com, I have to be at the most expensive tier.
It is possible to convert a .com iteration to a .org iteration, but those are details I’ll share in a WordPress breakdown post. It can get complicated and deserves its own post for those who choose to make that transition.
No matter what path you choose for hosting, I recommend paying to have a custom domain. The domain is the URL for your site. ageekgirlsguide.com is the domain for A Geek Girl’s Guide. I paid to have this domain, because without it on wordpress.com it would be ageekgirlsguide.wordpress.com. And if you go with self-hosting, you have to buy a domain.
To keep it simple, your domain should be your blog name. This is why having a unique blog name is helpful because then you can easily get your domain of choice. If the domain you want is taken, you’re going to have to come up with a new one.
An easy way to do this is to not use .com. You can use .blog, .co, .info, and many more. Wherever you are buying your domain from will give you suggestions for domain options that are available. I’ve also created domains with “blog” in the main portion, ie ageekgirlsguideblog.com. It’s up to you how you want to do this, there really is no right or wrong option. However, once you choose a domain, it is basically impossible to change it.
One thing that is necessary to start your blog, but I am giving its own post to, is choosing your theme. You should definitely go read that for all of my tips and advice for choosing the best theme possible.
Now that you have your reason for blogging, what you want to write about, a name, and the basic structure of your site, you are ready to get into the specifics and start writing!
Want to learn more about blogging? Keep reading my Guide to Blogging series.