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You’ve finally decided to go for it and start your blog. That in itself is a win! Just deciding to do it is a huge step in the entire blogging process. But where do you start?
I’m going to tell you the first four things you’ll need to do to start your blog.
Choose your theme
I’ve touched on this topic before but it’s something you can never really talk too much about. The theme is what your blog’s design is going to be built with. Some blog themes run on the Genesis framework and they are called Genesis child themes or child themes. In order to use a Genesis child theme you must first buy and install Genesis. The extra cost may be a turnoff for some but you can use any Genesis child theme as long as Genesis is already installed on your web hosting platform. That means if you bought and installed Genesis, then installed your child theme if after a few months you tire of your theme you can purchase another child theme and install it not having to buy the Genesis theme again. Other themes are designed to be used by themselves. It’s really up to the user to decide which type of theme they want.
Another thing I want to point out is whether or not you should purchase a theme or use a free one. While I have seen some beautiful and interesting free themes make sure that you can get support if you need it and if updates will be available or not. A free theme may sound wonderful but if there is no support from its designer then you may become frustrated and discouraged from the start. Do your research and find out if the theme you like, whether free, $10 or $80, will play nice with WordPress updates, provide security and will be able to grow with your blog.
There are a lot of places to go to find blog themes and here are some of my favorites:
Angie Makes – I bought my blog theme from Angie Makes and I love it. It’s easy to customize every part so you can really make it yours. Of course when you’re a newbie to designing your blog it can be confusing and frustrating which is why I love the Knowledgebase on her website. I have been using my theme for four months and still go there when I’m not sure about something. If you’re really stumped you can request a support ticket during her business hours to help you with your task. These themes do not use the Genesis framework. I use the Lucy & Lane theme.
Restored 316 – You’ll find beautiful feminine themes here. I almost bought a couple of themes on Restored 316 but ended up following my gut and went with my first love on Angie Makes. One of the things that kept me from purchasing a Restored theme was the fact that the themes are child themes used along with the Genesis theme and I did not want that added cost. Keep in mind that it’s a one time cost but still, when you’re just starting out, every dollar matters.
Creative Market – There are tons of themes available from various designers here. When I say tons I mean like, over 1000! The themes are available at every price point, too. Themes on Creative Market may or may not be a Genesis child theme and designers will specify so you don’t have to guess. What’s great about Creative Market is that they offer tons of other goodies, too. Scouring the website can become addictive!
Choose your web host
Choosing a web host is just as important if not more so than choosing a theme. Your host is where your blog will live. There are many web hosts to choose from and it can get very confusing when you start comparing all of the different ones. I spent months and months reading about which web host was considered the best and in most of the articles I read the choice came down to two. Of the two I decided on SiteGround and have not regretted my choice one bit.
- For starters, SiteGround boasts some of the fastest load times in the industry.
- SiteGround can handle more traffic than its competitors.
- They provide top-notch security.
- They offer unrivaled support when you need it.
- SiteGround offers three WordPress hosting options. You can choose the option you think works best for your needs.
- Pricing is right on par with the others. Remember you get what you pay for so cheaper is not always better. Sign up through my link and enjoy a nice discount. From there you can choose a one, two or three-year plan to save the most.
You don’t have to splurge on any extras right at the beginning. SiteGround will offer extra add ons but purchase them only after deciding if you feel they’re necessary. The only extra I bought was ID Protect. As soon as you sign up for SiteGround you will be asked for your domain so that’s the next thing you’ll need.
Choosing/registering your domain
Your domain is your blog’s address. For me, my blog’s name is The Crafty Middle Sister and the domain is thecraftymiddlesister.com. There are different ways to go about registering your domain. You can use a domain registrar such as GoDaddy, NameCheap or Network Solutions but most web hosts offer to register domains when you sign up for hosting. I would suggest choosing a .com over any other domain because it’s easier for people to remember.
I decided to register with SiteGround because I knew I was choosing them as my web hosting service. The cost was around $12 or $13 to register my domain and that cost renews every year with my domain renewal.
If you already have a domain you can use any web host. If you don’t but know you want to start a blog or business and think you have the perfect domain, check to see if that domain is available. You can go here to check a domain. Hundreds if not thousands of domains get chosen every day so if there is one that you want, check on it and purchase it if it’s available! You can purchase your domain before you ever start you blog or business. Just make sure to renew your domain if you don’t start your blog or it will expire after one year.
Choosing a name
Most bloggers want their domain and blog name to be the same. What if my blog’s name was The Crafty Middle Sister but my domain was asisterwhocrafts.com? Or a blog’s name was The Dirt Diggin’ Diva and you got there by going to divawhodigsdirt.com? While it’s okay to have a domain that’s different from your blog name it’s not ideal. Unless your blog’s name is super long or spells out vulgar words when run together (thelasswholeftherjob.com – the lass who left her job . com) try to keep the two the same.
Putting it all together
So where do you go with all of this information? 1. I would suggest you first come up with your name. 2. Once you feel you have the perfect name, check to see if the domain is available*. 3. If it is, go to your chosen web host and sign up. I recommend SiteGround because they are super easy to work with. 4. Choose a theme and once you find one you love download it to your web host and start customizing it.
*If your domain is already taken you can either contact the owner and ask to buy it (not really recommended) or you can tweak your name or domain to find one that’s available.
I’ve started a Facebook group for new bloggers, Crafting Your Best Blog, where you can go to ask questions about all things blog related. The goal is to create a community of bloggers who can help each other by offering advice, tips and support to each other. If you are interested in becoming part of the group you can join here.