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OK. So you’ve got something to say. Maybe you’re super fashionable and you want people to see the amazing outfits you put together on the daily. (God bless you if this is the case. I want some of your magic ju-ju as I blankly stare at my closet each morning.) Or maybe you’re a mom who wants to share the tips and tricks you’ve learned either with newborns or toddlers or even teenagers. Or quite possibly, you’re a little like me. You love to cook and share recipes, but that’s not all. You want to share your thoughts. Your dreams. Your ideas. You want to reach people with your words so that maybe one person, just one, says “oh yeah! Me too! Now I don’t feel like such a weirdo.” And you know that in todays day and age, you don’t have to wait for a fancy book deal. There’s an easier and much more accessible way for the masses to get their thoughts out there. And that way is blogging.
But wait. Is it really that easy? Even if you don’t know anything at all about blogging?
Yes. It really is. If I can do it, anyone can. Even maybe your family dog. Or a monkey. Or your toddler.
Seriously. I am that challenged when it comes to the computer and the interweb. It’s not my thing, and I’ve made peace with it. But even if you’re like me and you wouldn’t know HTML if it hit you over the head, you too can start your very own blog in about 15 minutes with these 3 simple steps. No lie.
Step ONE: Choose a Blog Platform (and decide whether or not you want to monetize)
There are quite a few platforms out there that will allow you to create a blog completely free of charge: Blogspot, Blogger, WordPress (the free version that ends in .org). These are great options if you are 100% sure you never ever want to monetize your blog. And if you just want to share your thoughts with the world and have no desire to ever make one bloody cent off your work, then great! That’s awesome. Really it is! In fact, a few of my absolute favorite bloggers are on a free platform. HOWEVER, there are some very distinct advantages to going with WordPress.com, which is not free. For a very detailed account of the differences between the two, take a look at this infographic. But here is my very basic Cliff Notes version of why I think it’s important to start out on the right foot with WordPress.com.
- Your website will look more professional. On WordPress.com you have thousands of options of themes, the ability to customize them according to your liking, and the ability to switch between a theme and re-brand your website easily.
- Your website will read www.yourwebsite.com rather than www.blogspot.com/yourwebsite . Not a huge deal in itself, but it does feel pretty cool to have your blogname stand alone. It also suggests legitimacy and professionalism to any potential advertisers or partners down the road as your blog grows.
- The ability to monetize. So maybe that’s not on your mind right away. You just want to write and share and reach people with your words. I totally get it. I actually think that’s how and why you should start out anyway. If you go into it thinking you’re going to get rich quick (or possibly even at all) you are probably going to get a very rude awakening some point. However, there are ways to make even a small income early on as you grow your audience and brand. And I don’t think that’s something to scoff at. But you have to be on a paid platform first. It’s extremely difficult to monetize on a free platform, especially with advertisers and potential partners. There’s just no easy way around that fact.
Step TWO: Pick a Hosting Site
Think of your platform as the car you drive and the hosting site as the garage you park it in. And even on a free site, that storage doesn’t come free, you have to pay for it (see the catch?). So you want to make sure your hosting company is rock solid; this is your work that you are protecting. You don’t want it in just any old carport, right? There are quite a few options out there to choose from, but I STRONGLY recommend Bluehost.com. Think of your favorite blogger. Now think of your second favorite. Think of another….there’s a pretty good chance they’re all on Bluehost.com. I chose to go with them, and I’m so grateful that I did. There are a lot of reasons why and while their popularity may seem like one (because if everyone is doing it, it must be good, right?), that’s more of a by-product. People choose it because it is easy to use, has great options and just plain works.
- It’s remarkably cheap. In fact, at just $3.95 a month it’s a virtual steal. It’s the price of one Starbucks visit per month. And you get access to an incredible host service for the price of just that one visit.
- It’s very easy to use. Almost everything I have done on my site has been self-taught. And that’s a small miracle because, as I mentioned, I am not tech saavy at all. From setting up your page to publishing your first post, Bluehost is an intuitive platform made even for people whose intuition stinks.
- And if you can’t figure it out, Bluehost has 24/7 customer tech support that is amazing. When you, say, think your blog has crashed and are afraid you’ve lost everything you’ve ever written, they calmly settle you down and get it figured out. They’re responsive, efficient and well worth the $3.95 a month.
- Your domain name comes with your purchase. So you don’t have to pay extra for your website to be called meaghanisawesome.com. (for example)
- Remember the great benefits of using WordPress.com that I just listed? Well, when you purchase a package from Bluehost, WordPress is free. Enough said.
Step THREE: Install
Now let’s talk nitty-gritty step-by-step. This is what I needed when I started. In the first post of this series I just want to go over the first few steps of getting set up. There’s a lot more to getting started such as picking a theme and working on your brand, which I’ll also cover in this series. But right now, let’s talk basics.
- Go go Bluehost.com and click Get Started.
- Select your Plan: Unless you have major plans to have multiple blogs, the Basic Plan is the way to go for you. It’s priced reasonably and has all the storage you need to start out. As you grow, you can upgrade if necessary, so don’t worry about being locked into it forever. 3. Pick your DOMAIN NAME: I would put some serious thought into this one. Make sure you can live with it for years to come. Bluehost allows you to verify if it’s available, and if it’s not, they give you alternative suggestions. You can also use an existing domain if you own one and simply transfer it over to Bluehost. (See, one stop shop, I tell ya!) 4. Enter in Account and Payment Information: 5. Pick a password that you can remember (write it down. Save it in your computer. Do whatever you have to do to commit this to memory). 6. Log in and Get Started!
Next week we’ll talk about choosing a theme (your blogs basic style) and brand building in the next post of this series. That’s where the real fun begins so be on the lookout for Part 2!
I can’t wait to take this journey with you! Let me know if you have any questions.