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How To Start A Blog – A Beginner’s Guide

Leslie Samuel Blogging 15 Comments

start a blogYou’ve probably read a bunch of “How To Start A Blog” posts. And yes, this is another one of those. BUT, this is going to be a bit different (at least in the beginning).

Starting a blog is much more than getting a domain name and hosting, installing wordpress and getting the technical details taken care of. It starts WAYYYYY before that.

I recently wrote a post about My Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Start A Blog. Before starting a blog, I want you to ask yourself WHY you want to start a blog. This is important because your reason why will determine a lot of the How. And of course, if you need help finding a reason, you can always check out my ten.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, lets move on . . .

The Biggest Mistake Beginning Bloggers Make

I’ve been approached by a bunch of people wanting to start blogs. Anytime I hear this, excitement starts welling up inside me. The first question I ask is a very logical one – “What are you thinking about blogging about?”

In most cases, I’m disappointed by the answer. I get answers like:

I want to blog about life. I want to teach people how to live better. I want to be the one stop shop for all young people. I want to help people make more money.
What do you notice about the topics? I’ll tell you what I noticed – I have no idea what those blogs are about (specifically) and who they target. That’s the biggest mistake I see people make when starting a blog. By not having a well defined niche and trying to cater to EVERYONE, you end up serving no one.

In today’s over saturated and information overloaded environment, you want to make sure you are catering VERY WELL to a narrow subset of the population and giving them what they want.

How do you avoid making that mistake? Simple – by being very specific about what your niche is and who your target audience is.

Now let me be honest. I’ve had the same problem even with this blog. When I first started with Become A Blogger, it was a tremendous success, but mostly because I had well known bloggers promoting it.

NicheMarketSoon enough I started to realize that I wasn’t being specific enough with who my target audience was and because of that, I was looking in the wrong places for traffic.

I’ve recently gone through a reevaluation process and can now state exactly what my niche is and who my target audience is:

I teach beginning/intermediate bloggers how to build their blogs into a successful business where they can create content that inspires others and even change the world.

Notice the following:

  • I’m very specific about what I’m teaching.
  • I’m very specific about who I’m teaching it to.

The second point is probably the most important. Knowing that I’m targeting beginning/intermediate bloggers dictates:

  • The type of content I should be producing
  • Where I go to find my audience

In the past, I focused on targeting big bloggers who teach all kinds of advanced blogging strategies and tried to get me exposed to their audience. What’s the problem there? Well, if I’m giving advice for beginners but attracting advanced bloggers, there will be a disconnect.

Now I know that my target should be individuals who have audiences who maybe never even knew that they could build a business around a blog, or are interested in doing so but don’t know how – a totally different mindset.

As you think about the topic for your blog, think about stating it in a very specific way. Here are some other great examples of Niches from the Become A Blogger Community:

  • Rochelle Hanson teaches Single Women to understand the connection between relationships, food and love at The Single Status
  • Chris Deals from Day Job Knockout teaches individuals with a 9 to 5 how to supplement their income by doing side projects online

Step 1: Choosing And Registering a Domain Name

domain namesNow that you have your niche decided (or at least understand how to choose one), it’s time to register your domain name. That’s your web address. No, I’m not talking about a blahblahblah.wordpress.com. I’m talking about a www.yourdomainname.com. If you’re going to be a serious blogger, you’re going to want to do this – it’s more professional and people will take you more seriously.

Here are my top suggestions for choosing your domain name:

  • Try to get key words in your domain name. I’m not going to get into a bunch of complicated details about keyword research. To keep it simple, just use common sense. If your blog is about baking cheese cakes (yummy), try to see if you can get a domain name that somehow lets people know.
  • Make it memorable. The last thing you want is for people to forget your URL. You want them to keep coming back!
  • Try to get a relatively short domain name. I’m not going to give you a specific length. Just keep in mind that www.ireallyandtrulylovebloggingabouteveryandanything.com is probably a bit too long.
  • Try your best to get a .com. If you absolutely can’t find a .com, go with a .net, or a .org (if your blog is for an organization). .coms carry the most authority, which is why I recommend it.
  • Don’t let the domain name slow you down. Yes, your domain name is important, but I’ve seen a lot of people get stuck at this step and not start a blog for this very reason. It’s better to choose a less than perfect domain name and start getting content out there.

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of domain names, it’s time to register it. I recommend the domain registrar Namecheap. They are good at what they do, and very inexpensive.

One of the questions that usually come up is about why I recommend for people to go with a separate Domain Registrar as opposed to registering your domain name with the same company that does hosting. My answer to this question is that by registering it with a domain registrar, you get full control of that domain name. In the future, if you need to transfer to a different host, it’s MUCH easier to do so. Generally speaking, having more control is better.

Click Here To Get Your Domain Name With Namecheap

Step 2: Getting A Web Host

Now that you have your domain name, it’s time to get a web host. This is basically a server (computer) out there somewhere where you are going to be storing (hosting) your blog.

hostgator

The Web host I’ve used for YEARS (since the early 2000’s) is Hostgator. Yes, you guessed it. I use them because they are good at what they do AND inexpensive. Such a great combination. They have hosting plans for as little as $3.96 depending on how long you pay for. If you pay monthly, you can get in for less than $8 monthly. Pretty good for having your own space online.

Click Here To Sign Up With Hostgator

Step 3: Connecting Your Domain Name To Your Web Host

Domain name conceptOnce you have your domain name and your web host, you need to connect the two. Basically, when someone types www.yourdomainname.com into their address bar, you want “the internet” to know to load your blog/website from the correct web host. This is done using Nameservers.

When you sign up for hosting with Hostgator, you will get an email that gives you all of your hosting details including your nameservers. It will look something like this:

NS111.HOSTGATOR.COM
NS112.HOSTGATOR.COM

Now, this is the most technical part of the entire process, but it’s actually fairly simple. What you need to do is give that info to name cheap so that they will know where to send people. In other words, they will know what website to load.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Namecheap account
  2. Go to Manage Domains
  3. Click on your domain name
  4. Click on “Transfer DNS to Webhost”
  5. Select “Specify Custom DNS Servers (Your own DNS Servers)”
  6. Paste your DNS details into 2 of the spaces provided (get this from the hostgator welcome email)
  7. Click on “Save Changes”

That’s pretty much it. Your domain name is now linked to the correct web host and you are ready to set up your blog.

Step 4: Install WordPress

This is where we REALLY make things happen. This is where we install and set up your blog. WordPress is a powerful piece of blogging software. It’s the one that most bloggers use, and with great reason. It just simply rocks. It makes it easy for the average person to set up an awesome looking blog with amazing features. Not only that – it’s also SUPER EASY to expand the functionality of WordPress to make it do awesome things.

Fortunately, it’s also SUPER EASY to set up. Rather than type it all out, I’m going to show you how to install it. The following video is the 4th video of my 10 Free Video Series where I walk you through the process of installing wordpress. Actually, those 10 free videos show you how to do all of this stuff I outline in this post. If you’d like to check them out, go here. For now, here’s the video:

Step 5: Get a Nice Design (optional)

Your blog is set up, and it has everything it needs for you to start adding AWESOME content to it. But lets face it – the standard design that comes with wordpress is pretty . . . umm . . . standard.

You want your blog to stand out. You want to get a nice design. Fortunately, there are a ton of free and premium designs out there that are pretty awesome. I’m biased though – I generally use 2 sites for getting blog themes. Those sites are Woothemes and Elegant Themes.

Why? Because premium themes come with premium features and those two companies offer GREAT features and support. I don’t like the idea of risking getting a free unsupported theme, and run the risk that there’s a crucial security update that doesn’t happen.

So I stick with the tried and true.

Step 6: Start Blogging Away

Blog2That’s pretty much it for blog setup. Your blog should be up and ready to go after following these steps. This is where the important part comes in – the actual content creation.

When it comes to blogging, CONTENT IS KING! <<=== Click Here To Tweet That

This is the reason people come to your blog – to get awesome content that helps them accomplish there goals. Since content is so important, let me give you a few tips:

  • Choose a content schedule and try to be as consistent as possible. If you decide to post once, twice or 3 times per week, do it. People need to know what to expect so that they can come back regularly and fall in love with you and your awesome blog.
  • Infuse your personality in your blogging. There are SOO MANY blogs out there. Yours needs to be unique in order to stand out from the crowd. How do you do that? By putting your personality all up in it. There is no other you, so that will automatically make your blog unique.
  • Tell stories. People love stories. They don’t want a bunch of facts. Stories make your content memorable.
  • Take your content seriously. I’m not saying to write in a serious tone, but I’m saying that since content is king, treat it that way. Set aside time to write on a regular basis.
  • Try experimenting with different media. Written content is great. However, podcasting and videos are great media for connecting with people on a different level.

Other Blogging Tips

Here are some miscellaneous tips to help you along your blogging journey. They will give you an extra umph.

Tip #1 – If you build it they will not come. Creating content is great, but you got to do work to actually get it out there. If you’re building awesome content, you might as well get it in front of as many interested eyes as possible. Go where your target audience is (Facebook, twitter, google+, forums, etc) and engage them. Then, when relevant, share your blog with them.

Tip #2 – Connect with other bloggers in your niche. One of the best ways to get a lot of traffic is by getting people with a lot of traffic to send you some of theirs. How do you do this? By networking in a way that’s not sleazy. I’m not talking about emailing them and saying – “Hey, link to me. Send me traffic”. I’m talking about offering them value first (commenting on their blog, guest posting, helping them out in whatever way you can), and then reaping the benefits down the line.

Tip #3 – Have a business model for your blog. If you’re going to be building a business around your blog, you need to have a business model. How are you going to make money? Creating and selling products? Promoting affiliate products? Offering Services? Make sure to be thinking about this, and even implementing it.

Tip #4 – Have fun with it. If you’re gonna be blogging, you might as well have fun. That makes it more interesting and enjoyable. Don’t be a bore :)

More Step By Step Guidance

As I mentioned before, I go through all of the steps to getting your blog up and running in a step by step way in my Ten Free Videos For Becoming A Blogger. Sometimes reading a bunch of text with all these technical details can be confusing, but watching along as someone else SHOWS YOU the steps makes it much easier.

That’s what I do in those videos. So if you’d like some extra hand holding, go ahead and check them out.

Click Here To Sign Up For The Ten Free Videos

Your Input

So, do you already have a blog? If so, let me know where you blog can be found and what it’s about. If you don’t have a blog, let me know what you think you’d enjoy blogging about. You can do so in the comments below.

Full Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I earn a commission if you decide to sign up for the service. I only promote things I know, use, and find value in that I know will help you accomplish your goals. This is one way for me to pay the bills. If you are uncomfortable with this, you may choose to go directly to the sites by going to www.thenameofthesite.com. All the best!

  • AKRaja

    Hi… I blog at http://www.ak-rsolutions.com
    Its about Creative solutions to life for all people i.e who are self employed and those who do a regular job. Do visit and Tell me how to Improve.

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @AKRaja If you have specific questions, you will get specific answers :)

    • AKRaja

      I need to know how to get more traffic to my blog…@Leslie Samuel @AKRaja

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @AKRaja  @Leslie  @AKRaja Gotcha. I answer that question in A LOT of detail in this podcast episode. Have a listen – http://www.becomeablogger.com/14064/how-i-get-over-50000-monthly-visitors-to-my-blog-using-free-traffic-sources/

  • stylist_reyana

    ok i am a hair stylist and i am interested in blogging about natural hair care and extensions!!!! i want to cater to african american women who want to go natural but are scared because they dnt know what to do with their hair because its hard to manage!!!! my blogg will be up soon but i am doing alot of brainstorming, writing things down on paper before i launch because i am very new to blogging. i think blogging will help my business grow as a cosmetologist and bring new clients and just to inform African American people of color its ok to be natural!!!! and how to maintain healthy hair while being naturally beautiful!!! what do you think?

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @stylist_reyana I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I partnered with someone who is blogging about the same type of topic and it’s going very well. Check out this post. You’ll love it :) http://www.becomeablogger.com/4933/new-case-study-from-0-to-1000-daily-views-in-3-months/

  • mariecamurphy

    Love that I found your blog, I really needed to read some of the things you have posted here. I currently have a blog that I just can’t seem to get together it can be found at http://www.wearsmyhair.com. My blog is about managing your life with alopecia. I am focusing on helping women of all ages live their best life with alopecia.  I have a non profit foundation also called Wears My Hair that I plan on providing support groups and hairpiece purchase assistance. I plan on using the blog as a communication tool for my foundation as well.

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @mariecamurphy Hi Marie. Yes, it can take a lot of work to build a blog, but it’s so worth it if you do it the right way. Sounds like you have a definite mission and I think it can help a lot of people, so keep it up.
       
      All the best!

  • http://musicarrangerspage.com/ Hans Hansen

    Hi Les, yes I think the first and second points are very important questions to ask yourself before you start blogging (and even while you’re blogging, sometimes it’s easy to loose track). Being specific about what  you like to achieve with your blog is crucial for your success in the future.
    I’m still in the process of reviewing and – vamping my pdf files before I set up eweber (Chris’s advice).
    Next month (February) I’m going to be pretty busy with finishing my school year and have lots of work to do, so you won’t hear too much from me. Greetings to your family, Hans

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @Hans Hansen Ahh yes, the joy of teaching and finishing that school year. It can get quite hectic. I know how that goes. Well, we’ll be right here waiting when you get back :)
       
      All the best bro!

  • Paul Maplesden

    I couldn’t agree with you more.
     
    People that want to blog need to take a step back and think about things from an objective perspective, for example:
     
    – Defining their niche
    – Understanding their audience
    – Ensuring their topic is broad enough to allow them to generate regular content
    – Making sure they have a love of writing
    – Can they communicate well?
     
    I recently wrote an article about the foundations of a solid blog; it’s less technical than your excellent piece, but does present a slightly different perspective. If you or your readers are interested, the piece can be found here:
     
    <a href=”http://paulmaplesden.hubpages.com/hub/A-Simple-Guide-to-Ways-You-Can-Monetize-Your-Blog-General-Principles” target=”_blank”>Things to think about when starting a blog</a>
     
    I hope you find it useful.

  • Paul Maplesden

    I couldn’t agree with you more.
     
    People that want to blog need to take a step back and think about things from an objective perspective, for example:
     
    – Defining their niche
    – Understanding their audience
    – Ensuring their topic is broad enough to allow them to generate regular content
    – Making sure they have a love of writing
    – Can they communicate well?
     
    I recently wrote an article about the foundations of a solid blog; it’s less technical than your excellent piece, but does present a slightly different perspective. If you or your readers are interested, the piece can be found here:
     
    http://paulmaplesden.hubpages.com/hub/A-Simple-Guide-to-Ways-You-Can-Monetize-Your-Blog-General-Principles
     
    I hope you find it useful.

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com/ Leslie Samuel

      @Paul Maplesden Glad you enjoyed!

  • http://beautiful3dworld.blogspot.in rajasekar

    i want to know how to improve info blog like mine

    • http://www.becomeablogger.com Leslie Samuel

      Start Here!