There are many reasons to learn how to start a blog for your business or brand: boost SEO, educate your customers, drive traffic. Still, there are two excuses I often hear:
- I don’t have time
- I don’t know how
I’m here to tell you that, not only do you have time, but you also don’t need technical expertise to make it happen. Don’t let excuses hold you back. Use my guide to jumpstart your blogging efforts in just one afternoon.
Step 1: Choose a title and domain name.
(If you already have a site or blog, skip to step three.)
If you own a company, it goes without saying that the title and domain will be your business name. If you’re a thought-leader, or hoping to be, it would be wise to use your name, hence JessicaThiefels.com.
Remember that once you buy the domain name, if you choose to do so (see step 2), you won’t be able to change it, so be sure of what you want before buying. If you’re starting a new business and are still on the fence about the name, don’t start your blog yet. Be confident about that and then get signed up. Use this time to write blog posts. When your blog is up and running, you’ll have plenty of content to start with.
Step 2: Sign up with WordPress
(Or another hosting provider.)
I’m not going to recommend checking out Blogger, Tumblr, SquareSpace, Wix or anything other platform. I always recommend WordPress for one simple reason: it’s the number one blog hosting platform in the world, meaning you can find a tutorial, forum, article or guide for nearly anything you want to do, from installing plugins to updating CSS.
If you want to own your domain name, which is the difference between, JessicaThiefels.com and JessicaThiefels.WordPress.com, start by choosing a hosting site like iPage, GoDaddy, or BlueHost. If you don’t know which one to choose, check out PC Mag’s 2017 review of the top 10.
Once your hosting is setup, you’ll choose WordPress as your back-end. Get on the phone with the hosting provider, who can likely walk you through this process. It’s not as confusing as you might assume—in just a few clicks, you’ll be able to log into your WordPress platform and customize your blog.
If you already have a website but not a blog, check with a developer or whoever you work with for domain/website support. They can likely create the blog page in a matter of minutes if you’re running with a purchased template. If the site was custom-made, this may be more time-consuming.
Step 3: Customize and brand your site.
When you think about how to start a blog, technical details are likely what come to mind. Step three, however, is all about having fun with branding and design. If you aren’t working with a designer, find a theme template that you like. There are a seemingly unlimited number of themes to choose from, ranging in cost from free to $150+. I recommend browsing WordPress Themes and ThemeForest.
Once you find the one you like, you’ll download the folder, and upload it to your site by going to the left side of the page and choosing:
Appearance > Themes > Upload > Upload Theme
Now it’s play time. There are usually two places where you can edit your theme. To customize on the front-end (seeing edits as you change the settings), go to:
Appearance > Customize
I recommend also taking a look at settings on the back-end, where there are often more options. You can find these settings under:
Appearance > [Theme name]
When customizing your theme and site, keep a few details in mind:
- Keep it goal oriented. Remember the focus of your site, and determine how your design can best serve your needs and goals (more about this in the resources listed below).
- Stay on brand if you already have a logo and brand “style.” You want people to be able to recognize that the site is yours. If not, this is your chance to develop that.
- Choose simple font styles that are easy to read and stick with just one or two fonts to avoid confusion.
- Avoid in-your-face styles and colors like neon pink, bright red or flashy patterns. A white, gray or subtle pattern background with accent colors throughout creates a clean and easy-to-read look.
I’m not a designer, so I recommend digging through the following guides for helpful design inspiration, ideas and tips:
- 16 Of the Best Examples Of Beautiful Blog Design
- 13 Expert-Level Blog Design Tips
- 25 Epic Design Tips for Non-Designers
The site Design Your Own Blog is also a great resource for everything blog design, from learning basic coding to determining the best design styles. It’s full of freebies and helpful content that will help you be most effective.
Step 4: Get all the technical details taken care of.
With the blog designed and ready for posting, it’s time to get the technical details taken care of. At this point, I recommend you:
- Connect your site with Google Analytics so you can begin tracking a wide variety of metrics from traffic to conversions.
- Upload Yoast SEO plugin (you can only use plugins if you own the domain; if you have a free WordPress account, this won’t be an option), which will ensure your SEO is up to date.
- Use XML Sitemap to generate a sitemap and submit it to Google, which you’ll do through your Google Search Console (available once you’ve connected your site with Google Analytics).
- Plan keywords and content to start buliding SEO value and driving traffic to your blog.
Step 5: How to Start a Blog? Just Do It
While this isn’t a complete, step-by-step tutorial, it will serve as a great starting point for getting your blog up and running. The key is just to start—I learned by playing, testing, messing up, researching and testing some more, and am still learning as I go (to have a little fun, check out my first-ever blog here).
My best advice is to have fun with the process and remember to have patience with yourself. It takes time, but soon, you’ll be a WordPress blogging pro!