So why does the web need another “How to Start a Blog” article? If you search that phrase in Google, you only get about 1.4 million hits. Is there anything that I can add to that body of knowledge that might be relevant? Maybe.
When I first developed an interest in starting a blog, I consulted the glorious power of the internet and was quickly overwhelmed by those 1.4 million hits. The complexity, options, and decisions seemed limitless. There also seemed to be many articles with a hidden agenda involving my wallet.
Instead of showing you a million options or only those that will give anyone a commission, I will purely show you how I created this site. It is not the only way to go about it, but it will demonstrate a cheap, easy way that works. You will also know that, as of this post, the information is current and thus more relevant than most of what is available on the web.
So what’s the deal with this whole blogging thing? In case you have been under a digital rock for the entire millennium, a blog (short for web log) is simply a journal published online in reverse chronological order. Think of it like a diary except that you are using a three ring binder and putting each new page on top. Blogs have been around since the 1990’s, but their rise in popularity can be attributed to software tools that make it easy for people like me with zero coding skills to publish a website on the World Wide Web.
What do you need to get started?
- A domain name
- A server computer to host your blog on the World Wide Web
- Software to allow you to post articles on the web without learning code.
A domain name is simply the catchy name that you choose for your website like www.DennisontheGo.com. You can choose any that you like as long as someone else is not already using it. You purchase domain names from companies called “domain name registrars,” and I went with GoDaddy.com.
I have no affiliation with GoDaddy.com, but have used them as my registrar in the business world for nearly 15 years. I initially chose GoDaddy.com because at the time, they had Danica Patrick on their home page and she is, quite frankly, a hottie. Luckily, despite my “well-researched” selection criteria, their customer service has proven to be world class.
To obtain your domain name, go to GoDaddy.com, enter the name you want at the top of the page and select “Search Domain”.
It will either be available, (select “Continue to Cart”), or it will be unavailable and the website will list a few dozen variations on your chosen name that are up for grabs. You can also search again on a different name if you do not care for any of the suggested offerings. Keep trying until you have a name you like and then add it to your cart. However, do not checkout just yet.
Now that you have your domain name, you need a server connected to the World Wide Web to host your website. There are thousands of hosting companies, but I chose GoDaddy.com because they have longevity in the market (must be doing something right), are competitively priced, have hosting designed specifically for WordPress (more on WordPress later), and usually run promotions that will give you a free domain name if you let them host your website (free stuff is always good).
At the top of the GoDaddy.com home page, click on Hosting & SSL and then, under Hosting, click on WordPress Site/Blog.
So what is WordPress? WordPress is the “content management software” that you need to write and publish your blog without having to learn a million lines of computer code. According to Wikipedia, WordPress is used by more than 23% of the top 10 million websites and it is free (remember, free stuff is good). Managed WordPress Hosting enables one-button installation of WordPress so you can be up and running in no time without having to learn all that “backroom” stuff for a normal installation.
GoDaddy.com offers three different WordPress hosting plans, but you can always upgrade. For starting out, I recommend that you select the “Starter” plan until your blog hopefully goes viral and you have more than 25,000 visitors. Now you can add it to your cart and checkout. Make sure that you now have a domain name, a hosting plan, and WordPress software, which completes the basic requirements for getting started. At the time of this post, GoDaddy.com was running a sale on the package so that the total investment was a whopping $12 for the first year.
Your cart will present you with several “add-on” options, but the only one I recommend that you add is the $8 private domain registration option.
When you buy a domain name, your registrar is required to enter your contact information – including your name, physical address, email address and phone number – in a database that is open to the public. With a private registration, GoDaddy.com is listed in the database [in your place] and saves you from thousands of junk emails.
After making your purchase, GoDaddy.com will direct you through the process of setting up your WordPress account. You will be prompted to provide a site title, username, password (write it down), and email address for your website administration. You will also select the initial theme for your website design. Don’t worry too much about your theme at this point as there are thousands of free themes available and you can change it at any time.
Finally, a “Success!” page will present you with a link to log into the administration page. Click the “Log In” button and then type in your username and password and click the “Log In” button once again. You have now arrived at your WordPress Dashboard. The WordPress default settings are pretty solid, but there are a couple of settings you might want to change before you get started.
Go to “Settings” on the left bottom side of the Dashboard and select “General”. Here you might want to change your Tagline and Timezone, but leave everything else at their default settings. Next, under “Settings” select Permalinks. Permalinks determine how the URL of your pages (the address displayed in the web browser) appears to your visitors. I think the default choice is too non-descriptive. The are a few available options, and I chose to select custom structure and type /%postname% in the field. That is why you see http://dennisonthego.com/how-to-start-a-blog in your browser’s address bar.
Congratulations! You are now ready to join the Blogosphere! I will be sharing more about WordPress as I learn, so please check back often. Do you already have a blog website? Please share your tips and questions for starting a blog in the comments section below.