There are many reasons why people want to start a blog –
To share their story, to help other people, build a community, make money, attract an audience, or to interact with new people. If you would like to start, the first step is to decide what you want to blog about. It’s best to choose a niche that interests you such as travelling, beauty and makeup, parenting, lifestyle, fashion, schooling and career success, cooking/food, DIY projects, saving money, personal development, health, and some of the most successful bloggers actually blog about blogging!
When I was looking into starting ‘Not Your Average’, I had to decide whether it was worthy of my time as I was about to start the last part of my studies which was my degree so I knew I would be busier than ever, including a part-time job so I could afford to live. I also had to decide what I wanted out of it. Once I started, I was opened up to a whole new world! There are countless Facebook groups, Pinterest groups, email lists etc all dedicated to blogging, I was blown away. Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I have ever made, thanks to the idea from my University room-mate, now I have fallen in love with it!
In this post I will tell you step by step, the basics on how to create and set it up!
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you I may earn a commission. I only recommend products I trust.
I recommend you skim through the entire post first to get an overview of the process, then look back at each step one by one in detail, for help along the way as you get creating!
1. Find your niche – what you want to write about.
2. Get a host for your website – A host stores your blogs information and allows it to be seen on the internet. When you purchase web-hosting, you are basically renting space on a high-powered server. The company I chose to go with was Bluehost for just $3.95* a month.
Free vs Paid Hosting?
Free Hosting limits your access to resources such as plugins to improve your site (I will explain this later), themes and tools, meaning your reach of audience can be limited. Free hosting can limit your position in search engines, meaning your site is less likely to be seen.
Paid hosting can give you full control over your sites brand and build recognition. You can design features for the blog such as the name, appearance and the way it is organised. It will allow you to monetize your blog (make money) in the future. People are more likely to take you seriously if you own your blog.
To get started with Bluehost, read below step by step instructions on how to create your account. Please note that my images may look slightly different to what you see on your screen.
- Click here, to get started.
- Select which plan you would like to go with. Its up to you which features you would like to include or what currently fits into your budget.
- Select your domain name. This is your web address – mine is notyouraverage.info. If you can, select .com to end the name because it is the most popular thing for people to search for. When I was creating my blog, .com was already taken under the name ‘Not Your Average’, so I chose .info instead as it is still simple and flows with the name. The domain you choose should be easy for people to remember, easy for people to say and spell. You can also choose your personal name (for me it would be ‘cassiehamilton’).
- Enter your account information into the fields.
- Select an Account Plan. You don’t have to sign up for the extras if you dont want to.
- Enter your billing information. Please note, you will be charged the full amount upfront as a prepray, but they do have a money back guarantee if this doesn’t work out for you.
- Check your email for your login information then login to the Bluehost c-panel. Make sure you are logging in under ‘hosting login’.
3. Download WordPress.org which will be your blogging platform where you can create new posts, design your website, adjust the layout and manage your content. WordPress is safe and secure, easy to manage and search engine friendly. You can do this by logging into the Bluehost c-panel, and clicking the ‘Install WordPress’ icon under website builders.
4. The next step for me was learning about Permalinks, Widgets, Plugins, RSS Feed, Hyperlinks, SEO, Monetization, Optimizing Exit Pages & Laws and Tips for using images.
This may sound very overwhelming but once you get the hang of it its great!
Permalinks – It is the URL that will link to your posts. It is important to keep it simple to improve search engine optimization. In WordPress, click on settings then permalinks. Click on the ‘post name’ option. So it will look like this – https://www.notyouraverage.info/how-to-create-and-set-up-your-first-blog/. This will make it nice and easy for people to find your posts, instead of having random letters or numbers.
Widgets – A small box on WordPress that performs a function. Similar to a smart phone how you can put a calendar or to-do-list on your homepage for easy access, WordPress has spaces for this in a side bar, header or footer.
Plugins – Improves the function of your website and can add extra features such as social sharing buttons, it can combat spam, add in a contact form, improve search engine optimization, or add in an instagram slider at the bottom of your page.
Hyperlinks – A link that you can access by clicking on a word, for example the words above that I have highlighted maroon colour, all lead to other websites that back up what I’m explaining or things I want to show you.
SEO – Simply stands for Search Engine Optimization. If you have a good SEO, your site will be more likely to show up high on the list of results when someone searches something, meaning more traffic to your blog, so it is VERY important. Another reason to choose paid hosting over free.
Monetization – You can make money through your blog in many ways such as affiliate marketing, meaning you earn a commission on sales you make, selling your own digital or physical product, selling your services and displaying ads.
Optimizing Exit Pages – An exit page is the last page on your site people are on, before they decide to leave. Optimizing it means trying to keep people reading things within your blog, so you know you are doing this well is if your ‘Bounce Rate’ is between 26-55%. You can optimize the page by fixing any errors and linking within your own site to other relevant content. You can check what your exit pages are and bounce rate on Google Analytics, which I will explain shortly.
Laws and Tips for Using Images – You might be surprised, but you can’t just ‘choose’ any image to use within your blog posts because it will be against copyright. You will need to get photos from stock sites – I use Stock Snap, Pexels and Stock Up. Try to use high quality images so your site will be visually appealing.
Now that the terminology is all explained, let’s get onto:
5. Choosing a Theme – A theme provides the different graphics and design for your website. When I first started out I tried out several free themes such as Activello, Nisarg and Panoramic. However, I found with the 7 different free themes that I tried, they all had limitations and some weren’t mobile responsive at all, which is crucial because since my blog has started, 77% of all my traffic, view the blog on a mobile device. I spent two weeks all together trying to figure out how to set it all up on WordPress, I would just finish customizing one theme, then would find one important thing wrong, so would spend the next day trying to figure out how to use another one and customizing it, just to find another thing wrong. I decided to invest in a paid theme that would have all the features I needed and would be mobile responsive – I decided to go with Soledad and it was an excellent choice! So many options to customize your blog and it comes with a whole documentation explaining how to set it up when you download the theme. Click here to download, it will save you a lot of time and effort, trust me, I have been through it. But if a free one is in your budget right now then you could start of with the ones I mentioned above.
6. Have a play around with WordPress and learn how to use it.
Click here, for a website that teaches beginners how to use WordPress.
The main things you will use on the sidebar of WordPress are Posts, Comments (if you filter them), Appearance and Settings. You can ‘customise’ your site by clicking Appearance – then customize.
Create a Contact Page and About Page by clicking on the ‘pages’ tab in your sidebar of WordPress.
7. Set up Google Analytics.
Google Analytics can show you who visits your website, how many page views, how many sessions, demographics of your audience (age and gender), geographical location of your visitors, your most popular or unpopular posts, what time of day people tend to visit (which means you can schedule your posts to suit them) and how they found your website (search engine or specific social networks). This information is crucial if you want to grow your blog because it shows you exactly who you are targeting, whats working, what isn’t, and what you can focus on improving.
9. Now all you have to do is start brainstorming blog post ideas! (the FUN part)
I just use a simple notebook but you can use online tools to create brainstorms and ideas of what to write about. Relate it to your niche. If I can give you any advice, it’s that you have to provide VALUE to your readers. In a book I recently read, it stated that people think their lives are far more interesting than they actually are – you can’t just create a blog to talk about yourself and expect to get lots of traffic. You need to teach your readers things – provide ‘How-To’ posts, help them to improve their lives and give them something to take away mentally after reading your posts, then it will become popular.
Over all my blog took me two whole weeks to set up because I had NO technical skills, I didn’t understand the terminology, it took me 2 days to set up the menu on my blog because I didn’t know what they were actually called and I didn’t have anyone to ask for help from (because blogging is fairly new and uncommon in New Zealand). But now that it’s all set up how I want, and I have learnt A LOT since starting, I have fallen in LOVE with it. I treat it like my baby or a part-time job and its one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I am signed up to Facebook groups with thousands of people who help each other out with blogging and are there to answer any questions you may have – (feel free to comment below or write to me if you have any questions I could help you with). Blogging has opened me up to a whole new world and community of people and if you have been wanting to start a blog but didn’t know what it was all about or how to set it up, I hope my post has helped you to take the first step and I hope it can guide you along the way.