This is a guest post from Dianne Aarnink. After saving enough money to take a year off, Dianne recently said adios to her life as a corporate CPA. She is chronicling her year of blissful unemployment over at Skinny Seahorse. You can also find her designing blogs at Skinny Mermaid.
How to Start a Blog
Have you found yourself thinking about starting a blog? In recent years, it has become a popular pastime as well as a source of income for some. One of the greatest things about blogging is you can make it what you want. It’s all up to you.
There are minimal barriers to entry to creating a blog. Time is the biggest barrier – blogging is addictive. You’ll want to be ready for this.
So how do you get started?
There are five components to start a blog:
2) domain name
3) web host
Content – You need to know what you want to write about. This should be determined by the goals you have for your blog as well as your personal passions, talents and background. Defining the subject of your blog will drive many of your decisions along the way.
Domain Name. Your domain name is your web address. Now that you know what you want to blog about, find a name for your blog. Best practice is for your domain name and your blog to be the same or similar. This helps people find you.
If you already know the name you want, you can visit Go Daddy and plug in your desired name. If the name is available, you can purchase it for approx. $10.
Note : You can purchase your domain through Go Daddy or through your web host. I recommend purchasing your domain name through your web host as it saves a few steps in the process.
Web Host – In simplest terms, a web hosting service is a server where your website is held. I work with three different web host companies across the sites I run. They are:
I would recommend taking a look at each company and find which one you are drawn to.
Web hosting will cost approximately $10 per month.
WordPress – WordPress is the content management system for your blog. Installing WordPress is where some technical know-how can be helpful. But even without any technical experience, you can do it. If you are concerned about this part, just take some deep breaths and trust yourself. I have a step-by-step guide over at Skinny Seahorse.
Design. The look and feel of your blog should reflect the content of your blog – much like the front of a brick & mortar store. For example, let’s say you’re a personal shopper. Your blog has an eclectic bohemian design with muted jewel tones. The type of clients that will love your site and buy your services will most likely be artists. An attorney planning to hire someone to help her buy Burberry jackets will immediately click away.
Design is also where you will want to look at your budget. Prices can range from $0 to several thousand dollars.
Your options are:
Find a free theme. When you install wordpress, it comes with two themes, both of which are free. You can also google “free themes”. If you choose this option be prepared to see a site that looks almost identical to yours while you are surfing the web.
Purchase a theme. I recommend Thesis by DIY Themes. Their support forums are top-notch. Note – Thesis recently went through an upgrade to version 2.0. I only use Thesis 1.8.5 because it’s fairly intuitive. I don’t recommend 2.0 for beginners. You can download either version and both are supported. The Genesis framework by Studiopress is another great theme option.
Purchase a pre-made blog template. These are typically installed by copying code provided to you by the designer and pasting it into your WordPress file. Etsy is a good source for pre-made templates.
Teach yourself. I am a graduate of Girls Guide to Web Design where I learned to code HTML & CSS. If you are a DIYer who likes to get their hands dirty and prefers to be in control, this is a great option. Create Your Website Fast is also another DIY option.
Finally, you can hire a designer. Custom blogs get noticed and improve your reader’s experience. If you plan to earn an income from your blog, you may want to consider investing in a custom design. My design shop is Skinny Mermaid. Feel free to stop by if you are considering this route.
Blogging at Skinny Seahorse has turned into so much more than my original plan. I love it! I am thankful for the experience and the blogging community is a wonderful place to be.
Now you know the nuts and bolts of starting a blog. No excuses. Get out there and GO DO IT!