So, you want to create a blog but you have no idea where to start? I get it, believe me, I was in your shoes not too long ago. However, with much research, courses I have invested in, and some fantastic advice from friends, I feel like I now know what I am doing when it comes to creating a blog. This article is a complete beginner’s guide to creating a blog and I think you’ll find it super useful.
There are so many options when it comes to blogging. Too many it may seem. Obviously, I cannot list them all here. So, I will be sharing my top recommendations. Tips I have used myself with recommendations for things I genuinely find useful and make the process easier. This post does contain affiliate links for your convenience. For more information check out my full affiliate disclosure.
Free vs Paid
As I said, there are so many options for blogging out there, so I thought it important I talked about free vs paid, first. A complete beginner’s guide to creating a blog needs to explain both options to you, and that’s what I am doing here. There are pros and cons to both, and you need to make the best decision for you.
Starting a blog for free is very easy on either Blogger or WordPress. These are both hosted options. The benefits here are that it’s free (duh lol!) and also pretty easy to do. It’s all very self-explanatory and there are great instructions on both sites.
The downside to having a free blog is that is is very limited. You are completely constrained by either Blogger or WordPress on how your blog looks and to a certain extent the content you put out there. If you want to monetize your blog then having a free blog just won’t work. If you’re planning to blog for fun, more of a hobby perhaps like a diary, then free is a winning option. If it is at all business related then please go for paid. Another ‘con’ for a free blog is that people may not take you too seriously. When I see a business blog where the domain is obviously a free one (so it ends in blogger.com/.co.uk or wordpress.com/.co.uk), then I think this is someone new to the business and I don’t see them as an authority.
So, as I mentioned, if you’re running a business I think going paid is the best way. It will show you as more of an authority in your niche and help you build on your ‘trust’ factor, while your content is building your ‘know’ and ‘like’ factors.
This ensures you can monetize your blog long-term and really gives you the most flexibility when it comes to your business. If you’re serious about making blogging a business then you need to invest in self-hosted (more on that in a moment). And you can do that for a very low fee, don’t worry. A paid solution is described as self-hosted, rather than hosted.
What are Hosted and Self-Hosted?
Wondering what on earth self-hosted means? Well, Wikipedia describes the difference between self-hosted and hosted as; ‘The key distinction lies in the amount of control a webmaster has over his or her web property’. So, by going self-hosted, you get more control. Essentially, hosted is the free option, and self-hosted is the paid one.
I will be explaining in my beginner’s guide to creating a blog all about the self-hosted, and therefore paid, option. A quick google with get you sorted on the hosted (so free) option.
To have self-hosted you need two things; a domain and hosting. Your domain is an annual fee (usually around $10) and your hosting is monthly, or can be paid annually and usually starts around $4 a month. Some of the hosting options will give you your domain for free for your first year, which is pretty awesome! So, as I said, you can create a self-hosted blog for a very low fee.
Wondering what on earth a domain name and hosting is? One way it has been explained to me in the past, which I find really helpful, is to think of your hosting as your home. That’s where your blog will live. All the data needs to be stored on servers somewhere, just like where you live. You need somewhere to store everything, to sleep at night. It’s far too expensive to own your home in the bloggersphere (unless you’re super techy and build your own hosting server – maybe I’ve been watching too much Silicon Valley? LOL!).
So, we all rent our blog homes. That’s what your monthly (or yearly) fee is for. The domain is the directions to your home. It helps people get to your home so they can look around and soak up all that awesomeness you’re sharing online. This means that you can actually move home (to a different host provider) and they can take your domain and point it in the new direction, ensuring all your visitors can still find you. Does that help? My friend Steph explains it like that. If you’re looking for tips on using WordPress she has a great free Facebook group you can join.
There are three places I recommend for getting your domain and hosting all set up. Let me explain them so you can decide the best option for you.
If you’re in the UK and want a basic, beginner’s option then TsoHost is who I recommend. They start their hosting from as little as £1.25 a month for just 500MB. That’s not a lot but is OK for just starting out. I found myself outgrowing them quickly and wanting a company with more options, too. Their customer service has always been very helpful and they have some great walk through installation guide for adding WordPress to your site. If this is your preferred choice make sure you click on ‘WordPress Hosting’.
Once you start to grow I recommend switching. Their hosting for 10GB is similarly priced to GoDaddy and SiteGround, but they’re a much smaller fish. Also, I do find their platform a little confusing to navigate. So, if you’re planning on growing right away and really throwing yourself into blogging then you may want to start with one of the others, anyway. Plus, I found when I switched that they didn’t automatically keep emails within the CPanel (as a beginner this isn’t something to worry about right now, but I found it frustrating when I moved).
GoDaddy are a big name in the website world. I have bought domains and hosting from them a few times, now. I have never had any issues, and when needed to cancel plans, or upgrade them, I have found them very helpful. They have sales on a lot and their hosting is currently at 50% off starting at £2.99/$3.99 a month. They often throw in a domain name if you sign up to their annual plan, too.
Siteground is my current favourite hosting platform. Their pricing is bang on, their site is very easy to manoeuvre, and their customer service is awesome. I recently moved my blog from TsoHost to SiteGround and I am really impressed! They completely handled moving everything over, with me just having to sort out my emails and one other thing. Their hosting is competitively priced and they often have cracking sales.
The control panel in the ‘back office’ is super easy to use, and I just find it makes sense to me. If you decide to go for this option (my personal favourite) then be sure to click on ‘WordPress Services’ and ‘WordPress Hosting’. I’m on their ‘GrowBig’ solution, but their ‘Startup’ option is perfect, to begin with.
As I mentioned, all three of these places also have domain names available and sometimes offer the first year for free with their hosting plans. Before you purchase any domains I encourage you to make sure all the social media platforms that correlate are available, too. Namecheckr is a great place to do that.
What’s a Theme?
Right, next you need a theme for your blog. You have a couple of options here. You can download a free theme, purchase a theme, or you can purchase a Genesis Framework and Child Theme for that. Now, it’s important to understand the difference between these, and I’ll explain all three below. Firstly, though, let’s cover what a theme actually is.
Your theme is what tells your hosting and domain what your blog actually looks like. So, it is all the design side, and how you navigate through each page. Let’s go back to the previous explanation, where your hosting is the space you’re renting. The house and address your blog lives at. Your domain is the directions to that address. Your theme is the building itself. Think of your hosting as the land, and the theme as the building. Because you could knock down what’s there and add something totally different. Or leave it blank if you want. Or you could point your domain to somebody else’s land and house (if you purchase a domain and have it redirected to a facebook group, your Direct Sales business online store, or your Etsy shop for example). But, if you want to build your own house, then you need the actual building itself.
Does that help? I hope so.
These are fairly standard, can be quite basic and often look quite similar. They usually have very little you can customize and edit yourself, other than some basic colours. They are, however, a great place to start as a beginner. I used free themes for my first blog and it worked great for me. Here are some places you can get some really lovely ones:
- Just Free Themes
- Creative Market – you’ll find lot’s of paid ones, but they have new freebies every Monday and you’ll sometimes find a WordPress theme there.
I also compiled a list of beautiful free feminine WordPress themes that I really like. Why not see if one of those is suitable?
The downside to the free themes available out there is the lack of customisation available. If you really want to stand out from the crowd you’ll want to add your own branding and ensure your blog looks like your brand through and through. The best way to do that is with a paid theme. Here are some great examples of places you can get beautiful themes for a low fee, many of these I have personally used in the past.
If you want to truly customise your blog and intend to monetise it, taking it very seriously as a long term income stream, then purchasing Genesis Framework and a child theme is the absolute best way to go. Genesis framework is built on having multiple widgets with many many options for really creating a unique look to your blog. That is how I run my blog, on Genesis Framework.
Child Themes then work with your Genesis Framework to beautify the bare bones of the framework. There are some absolutely amazing options and designs available out there. So, so many solutions. And all are so much more customisable than any other kind of theme. Here’s my recommendations for themes that work on the Genesis Framework:
Phew, so there you have it. Your beginner’s guide to creating a blog. There’s more to learn once you get to this step, but this is very much what’s needed to get started. I hope you’ve found it helpful. If you’d like to connect with fellow Chronic Entrepreneurs just starting their own business then come and join our community.