When I first considered starting a WordPress blog, I knew very little about what a blog was, how it worked, or what it cost. WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging, but it can be confusing to get to grips with the different options available. Rushing off to wordpress.com and signing up may lead to disappointment down the road, because there are many options for how to run your WordPress blog. Making the right decision will make your life a lot easier in the long run, so let’s get you set up in the right way from the start!
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What is a Blog?
A blog is a website with a sense of commentary. Something that is updated regularly so that people can follow/subscribe and keep up to date with your latest posts. The traditional personal blog was born as an online journal, but since then blogs have developed into so much more. Successful blogs help answer questions, offer advice and tell stories in a way that relate to their audience. And although you can just write about whatever you’re thinking about that day, I recommend trying to find a group of topics that compliment each other, a blog niche, that will appeal to a particular type of person. Ten popular blog niches to consider when starting a WordPress blog:
- Self Care/Mental Health
- Saving Money
- DIY/Home Improvement
- Making Money Online
Why Start a Blog Using WordPress?
Over 30% of all CMS websites (websites easily edited through a managed system) on the internet run on WordPress software and 96% of blogs are running on WordPress (the latest stats can be found at trends.builtwith.com). Considering there are many choices, that is an impressive statistic! This blog right here runs on WordPress… it’s simple to use, powerful and has many compatible extras to make your site run exactly as you want it.
There are Two Very Different Methods for Starting a WordPress Blog:
- Blog for free through wordpress.com. It’s easy to set up, nice and simple, and well… it’s free! However, with free comes a price – your website address (domain name) will be example.wordpress.com instead of example.com. You will not have much control over how your site looks, and you can’t install all the cool plug-ins available to do nifty pop-ups, fancy sharing buttons, image collages, ecommerce etc. The biggest turn-off for many is the limitations on advertising and making an income. You can make money through a free account but the rules are strict and you are severely limited. You can also pay for a ‘premium’ account through WordPress.com to have your own domain. I have only heard bad things about this option and it’s an expensive way to self-host.
- Start a ‘self-hosted’ blog. WordPress.org allows you to upload the WordPress software onto your own domain. You buy your example.com domain name through a hosting company like Bluehost, and you pay them an annual fee to host your website. The WordPress.org software itself is free, and is easily uploaded onto your site with one click. I highly recommend this route… your blog will look more professional and you’ll be able to customize it as you want. You will also have endless opportunities to monetize your site in the future!
What is the Best Hosting Company?
I have ran blogs through a number of platforms and used a few different hosting companies. As with anything, there are loads to choose from, but Bluehost continue to dominate the market for bloggers because they are so affordable and the setup is super simple.
Bluehost offer exceptional value for money. All hosting companies will require you to pay 12months upfront, despite advertising the cost monthly, but when you get a domain thrown in for free and the total cost is the same as a pair of jeans you really can’t complain. They pride themselves on a one click WordPress install… you really can be up and running in the time it takes to drink a coffee. Plus, the have a 24/7 live chat feature, so if you’re feeling nervous, they’re ready for you!
For my step-by-step guide to setting up a blog with Bluehost, including screen shots to walk you through it, click here –> How to Start Your Own Blog with Bluehost;
What does WordPress Software Look Like?
If you’re considering starting a WordPress blog, you may be wondering what the actual software looks like. Here’s a screen shot of my computer as I am writing this post right now on my self-hosted site…
WordPress is extremely user friendly, and I can assign categories, tags and a featured image to my post all from the same page I write and edit from. Categories allow me to easy add drop down menus to my site, tags help link posts to others that are related, and the featured image is what appears next to the title on my homepage. It’s easy to add lists, titles, images, links; all from the top bar which scrolls down as I write. With the menu on the left I can check comments on my posts, download plug-ins, change the theme of my site (which affects color, fonts and general style). All my settings are together on the left.
When I’m happy with my post I can click the big blue ‘publish’ button and hooray, I have a new blog post! Pressing publish for the first time can be nerve wracking, but you can easily edit once published (the publish button becomes an update button), so don’t panic when you read through again and find all those typos. It happens to all of us!
What Next After Starting a WordPress blog?
Once you’re up and running there is a lot to think about. Without wanting to overwhelm you with information, I recommend visiting my previous post ‘The Blogging Sphere’, to allow your mind to consider where to take your blog next, and find the perfect audience. Good luck and get blogging!