In February this year, my blog 5-Minute Language turned two! Time really does fly!
It’s been a great couple of years of sharing my passion with you guys and interacting with you.
Running the blog has also enabled me to meet a lot of interesting language learners, including other language bloggers, collaborate on projects and start new friendships.
I’ve also learned a whole lot of stuff about blogging in the past two years. So, in this post I’d like to share with you everything I know about how to start a blog.
Here’s your complete guide!
How to Start a Blog
In this post, I’m going to cover the basic steps you need to take to start your own blog. They are the essential steps you will need to take to get started.
I’m going to publish a separate post about the more advanced tools I use to run 5-Minute Language – for those of you who already have a blog and would like to up your game (such as turn your blog into a business).
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Step 1: Choose your blogging platform
You need to decide what platform you want to use to blog. I personally use WordPress, which is by far the most popular platform among bloggers.
WordPress includes a number of free themes and plugins you can use to customise your blog. It’s very flexible and easy to set up. Plus there are countless online tutorials for how to do stuff in WordPress just because the platform has so many users.
I definitely recommend that you go with WordPress when starting your first blog.
There are two options you can choose from on WordPress when setting up a new blog. You can choose to start a hosted or a self-hosted blog. This is a very important step and it’s important to understand the distinction between hosted and self-hosted.
Let’s take a look at step 2 for more details!
Step 2: Choose your web hosting
Web hosting is basically the company that puts your blog on the internet and stores the data (your blog posts and everything else that’s on your blog). Think about it as a kind of a hard drive that your blog is saved on.
Now, choosing how you want to host your blog is very important. It will determine the future trajectory of your blog so make sure you consider it carefully.
There are two options: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted is free, self-hosted is something you need to pay for.
The main difference between hosted and self-hosted is that a hosted blog technically belongs to the platform you use for blogging, e.g. WordPress. If you self-host it, you are the actual owner of your blog.
This is an important consideration if you want to, for example, turn your blog into a business further down the line.
Getting a free (hosted) blog is great but it has a number of downsides, including:
- You can’t fully monetise it (e.g. you can’t include member-only content or AdSense ads on it)
- The space is limited (if you’re thinking of including lots of videos or high-resolution images this might be a problem)
- You can’t install plug-ins (plugins are tools that help you customise your blog in a way that matches your goals – for example add opt-in forms, custom social sharing buttons, etc.)
- If you decide to monetise your blog in the future, it can be a massive hassle to migrate it onto a self-hosted platform (scary one!)
Because my blog is an important part of my business, I decided to go with the self-hosted option. I was surprised that it’s not as expensive as I thought it would be.
I use BlueHost to host my blog and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to start a blog. Their pricing is competitive and when I first started they actually had an offer for new customers, which worked our really well for me.
BlueHost is really easy to use – it walks you through the process of setting up WordPress in detail and you will manage it even if you know nothing about websites (I certainly didn’t when I first decided to start a blog!).
Step 3: Get a domain
Your blog domain is the URL people enter into the navigation bar in the browser to get to your blog. Your domain should ideally be the same as the name of your blog (this is to make things consistent but also help with your search engine optimisation – it helps your audience find your blog).
Domains are generally pretty cheap – you can either get one directly through BlueHost or another service. I got mine through GoDaddy because I got it before I joined BlueHost. If I had to do it again, though, I’d probably go with BlueHost just to keep the hosting and the domain in one place (and not have to remember lots of passwords!).
You want to have your own domain rather than use any of the free domains offered by your blogging platform because the free domains include the name of the platform in the URL (e.g. blogname.wordpress.com). It doesn’t look very professional so if you’re serious about your blog make sure you get a custom domain!
Step 4: Choose your theme
Once you’ve got the hosting, you’ve installed your WordPress and got your domain, it’s time to choose your theme.
Your blog’s theme is basically its design – the colours, the look and the feel of your blog.
The theme I’m using on 5-Minute Language is called Customizr and it’s a free theme offered by WordPress. I also use other tools to create a more customised look on my homepage and some specific pages but I’ll go into the detail of that in a separate post.
Step 5: Create your first pages
Before you start blogging, it’s good to create some basic pages on your blog to help your audience understand what you’re all about.
The basics I would recommend are: an ‘About’ page, a ‘Contact me’ page and a homepage. You can either customise your homepage directly in WordPress or choose an option that means your homepage displays your recent posts.
Step 6: Publish your first post!
This is the final step – publish your first ever blog post!
It’s actually good to have a couple of posts ready for when you go live, just to make your blog look more active when you first publish it.
So, this is it! What else would you like to know? Comment below to let me know!