How to start a blog

If you have landed at this page it means you are interested to start a blog and looking out for some beginners guide to blogging. Here I will give a detailed overview, step by step that will help you on how to start a blog. I guarantee, by the end of this article, you will be in a position to create an up and running blog in just an hour. So fasten your seatbelt, take a deep breathe and get ready to take off in the world of blogging.

Step 1. Domain name

 The first thing you need to start a blog is domain name. For example, the domain name of the site you are currently visiting is digitalbetel.com. The domain name should reflect your business, product or service you are offering. If it’s purely an informative blog then domain name should reflect the kind of blogs you will be writing. Don’t stress yourself too much, thinking about a perfect name. It should have enough hint about what a reader can expect from your website. Just that it shouldn’t be confusing( like you have a tech blog and named it foodpanda.com) and available. Now you need to register your domain name on a domain name registrar. There are many in the business but what I prefer is Dynadot as it’s cheapest and customer support is quick.

 You get a .com  domain name for as low as $6.99 with coupon codes and they auction domain names also. Domain names for auction are more pricey( because you get some ready made traffic). There are some web hosting companies which provide you domain names for free. But don’t go for them as the free service is basically to cover up the bad hosting services they provide. Another thing to keep in mind while registering a domain is, always try to go for domain name with .com extension as you will be able to target global audiences. But if you want to remain local then you can go for even cheaper country specific domain extensions depending on your country( like .uk or .in etc). So what are you thinking now, go ahead and register your domain.

Step 2. WebHosting

You need a web hosting service, once your domain name is registered, . Web host is a place where all the backend code( which you won’t need to write) of your website runs. There are many web hosting providers but top ones in the business are Siteground, Bluehost, Hostgator. You will find a lot of posts on the internet comparing these three, so I am not going into that but in most of them Siteground comes as a winner because of its multiple servers distributed across the geography, performance and speed of hosted sites and always on the toes technical support. Siteground is bit costly compared to others but the difference is not huge and the benefits that you get overshadows the small price difference. They offer three plans:-

The Managed wordpress hosting “StartUp” plan is what I will suggest to go with as a beginner, because it will be enough for most of your needs and once your blog’s popularity and traffic increases you can upgrade the plan at any time. Click on “Get Plan” and you will be redirected to a page like this:-

Siteground domain registration is costly at $15.95 for a .com domain, so it’s always a good idea to register a domain on dynadot as we already did. Select “I already have a domain”, enter your domain that you registered earlier and proceed. Next step redirects you to enter some basic information about you and payment information. In the “Purchase information” section you need to select the period you want to buy the plan for starting with a trial 1 month period. I would suggest go for the next option of 12 months:-

There will be a sales pitch for “SG Site Scanner” asking for your money. You can leave it or select it if you have the budget. Click “Pay now” to set up your account.

Step 3. Domain repointing

I know you are wondering what is domain repointing and its need to start a blog. Ok. To clarify, just now you have registered your domain on dynadot. You have set up web hosting on Siteground. But still there is no connection in between these two. When a request to your domain lands on dynadot, it doesn’t know what domain name server it needs to reach out for. Setting up domain name servers for your domain on domain name registrar is what domain repointing is. Let’s see how to do it.

Login to your Siteground account created in step 2 and go to the tools dashboard and look for the “Site Information” panel. In that you will see a section “Name Servers” :-

Copy the two texts prefixed with “ns” till the end and save it for further reference.Now login to your dynadot account created in step 1 and go to “My Domains->Name Servers”.

Select to add new name servers and paste the name servers that we copied earlier from the siteground. Press “Save Name Server” to save the changes. It might take some time for the changes to take place as it takes time for all zone name servers located over the world to update their list. Wait for a day at max and at this point you will be able to visit your site( which will have nothing currently) over the internet.

Step 4. WordPress Installation and site creation

Next and most important step to start a blog would be to write posts so that viewers don’t see a  blank site anymore. There were days when you had to code in HTML, CSS , take care of database connections, develop logic to display stuff dynamically on websites and hell a lot of other things. Now with time, things have become very easy. WordPress is at rescue. It’s an open source content management system for websites and the most used and popular way to create blogs all over the world. Best part is it comes free with your siteground account. Once you login to your siteground account, open the dashboard corresponding to your domain and you will option to select and install wordpress:-

During installation you will be asked for setting up wordpress credentials. These credentials you will need to login wordpress with at yourdomain/wp-admin/. Once you login, WordPress dashboard is presented to you. In order to work on wordpress you need to know about a few things like Themes, Widgets, Posts, Pages, Category & Tag.

  • Themes are something which determines the look and feel of your blog. It determines where all on the page you can put items. Where the menus are going to be. What kind of colour and background your website will have. WordPress gives you a lot of choice for themes. Most of the theme comes for free with a limited set of features. But a free theme would be enough in the beginning. To install a theme go to “Appearance -> Themes -> Add Themes”. You can see lot of themes to choose from. Select anyone that you like and install and activate it. Personally I would suggest searching for the theme “Astra” and installing it. It has a very high user base and support.
  • Widgets are UI elements which provide a minimum set of functionality, like filtering recent posts, categorizing posts, displaying calendar, custom HTML to put a piece of html code etc. Look for widgets present in “Appearance->Widgets”. WordPress comes with few default widgets and based on the theme installed you get more specific widgets also. Now widgets need to be put on your page. Where all they can be put, it is determined by the theme you have chosen. You can’t alter the locations specified by your theme for the widgets. Hence choosing the right theme is important. You can drag and drop widgets to locations predetermined by the theme. Below image will give a clarity:-
  • Posts are where you create your actual blog or article which you share with readers. Creating a post in wordpress is as easy as creating a word document. Go to “Posts-> Add Post” and start typing the contents in the blocks. It’s as easy as that. In the right side under the “Document” tab you will find options to create “category” and “tags”. You can use an existing one or create your own and assign it to posts. Specific widgets use these categories to filter posts, hence giving you options to show posts related to one particular category or tag at one place.
  • Pages are something used to create content which is timeless. Unlike posts they don’t have category and tags. Use “Pages->Add New” to create pages like homepage or about us page.

You can use the “Appearance->Customize” section to edit default theme texts, copyright notices, headers, etc. You can even add an email subscription for WordPress site. Just explore it to give your site a much professional look. Publish your blog and browse your site and feel like an achiever after seeing what you have done in just a couple of hours. You were able to start a blog of your own. Feel free to leave your comments and let me know if you like the post. Happy blogging!!

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