I’ve heard a number of people say “I want to start a blog” of late. Some have been tweens, some are approaching sixty, some are new mums with a great eye for affordable fashion. Even my mum has mentioned starting one *braces self*.
Because I would really like to read some of these blogs, here is a basic how-to guide for starting a self-hosted WordPress blog. I’m by no means an expert (so smarty pants people, feel free to look away). Everyone else, you’re welcome to ask questions or add tips in the comments below:
1. Start with a name
Try some creative brainstorming; a list with a column full of adjectives and a column full of nouns is a start. Try word association games or play on some common words and phrases. You can also just use your name.
2. Purchasing a domain name (URL)
Decide if you want a free blog or a self-hosted one. Self-hosted gives you greater control over design; a huge amount of websites are built on WordPress if that gives you an indication of what you can do with it.
Tip: If you’re not sure, muck about with a free WordPress blog before taking the plunge.
Head to any popular domain website such as Go Daddy or Host Gator, type in your name and check if it’s available. It also pays to look at other social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter to check if the name’s available there too.
If you plan to trade on your name, it’s worth searching for trade marks on IP Australia to ensure that no one else has trademarked anything similar. It’s also worth looking into trademarking your own name (though you will be looking at $400 upwards). I took the plunge and found myself grateful after a few interesting email exchanges with an overseas web hosting site.
Tip: .au domain names are only available if you have an ABN.
3. Pick a host
You will need the services of a web hosting site if you plan to go self-hosted, (think of it as renting space for your website). There’s a raft of them around. Find out who other people use and ask if they’re reliable. I went with a larger, competitively priced, well known US host and have only had one issue which they promptly fixed. Host Gator and Blue Host seem to be well regarded. Price is approximately $5 to $15 per month, dependent on needs. If you want local support, Oz Blog Hosting is run by some good sorts. Once you’ve handed over your cash, familiarise yourself with the web host’s control panel or cPanel.
Tip: If you end up going with a major, have a search for coupons. You can usually find a discount somewhere.
4. Install WordPress
On your web host’s control panel you will have an option to install WordPress. It should walk you through the steps and finish off by providing you with your new WordPress log in details. Once you’ve logged into your WordPress blog you will end up at “the dashboard”. WordPress is super intuitive and user-friendly so don’t go running off into the abyss just yet.
Tip: Select a different user name to the default “admin” – it makes it more difficult for people to hack your site.
5. Select a theme
There are a number of themes (templates) in WordPress – some free, some not. Some basic customisable free themes are Twenty Eleven and Responsive. StudioPress, ThemeForest and WooThemes all have a great selection to choose from if you take the paid route.
7. Create a logo
You can ask a designer to create one but it’s not that tricky to whip up something quickly. It took me two seconds to put together the one above on PicMonkey (you can tell can’t you?). Your theme should have a default header or logo size so you will need to fit those dimensions (unless you’re handy with CSS and coding and Firebug all those other words that give me the shakes).
8. Try out some plugins and widgets
Plugins are simply a way to customise your blog. There are social media share button plugins, firewall plugins, plugins to make your images load quickly, plugins to show your latest Instagram pictures or tweet out old posts. Widgets add content and features to your sidebar such as word clouds.
Once you get used to the dashboard, the world is your oyster and all you have to do is get cracking on the content. If you have a niche, great. If not, carry on. It’s perfectly fine to write/photograph/video about whatever it is that interests you.
Any tips or questions, add them below: