So, you’re interested in starting a blog eh? Well, luckily you’ve come to right place! I’ll show you step-by-step how to set up your own blog without needing technical expertise. I like to think I know a thing or two about blogging since I currently run an investing website that has received over 1.5 unique million visitors (not bragging). I understand what it’s like to begin as a newbie with no clue what you’re doing. In total, I have launched six different websites, four of which failed badly. So this gives you the opportunity to learn from all my stupid mistakes. If at any point you have questions, feel free to leave a comment!
6 Steps in Starting a Blog
- Pick a niche – fashion, investing or travel, etc.
- Choose a website domain name.
- Select a blogging platform.
- Register the domain.
- Find a website host.
- Design website.
1. Picking a Niche
Decide what topic you want to blog about, how to monetize the content and your target market. It’s best to pick something you’re interested in or else writing blog posts will be a drag. Some examples of profitable niches worth researching include: investing, sports, travel, bodybuilding, weight loss, dating and pets. The list of possible ideas is endless, within each niche there are hundreds of profitable sub-niches. This part is the toughest, in the past I’ve spent days researching new potential niches and not taking action because of the fear of failure.
Example of a successful website that stole an idea and applied it to a new market.
Jacksflightclub.co.uk is a travel deal website that discovers stupidly cheap flights from the UK / Ireland to various exotic locations. The website has been featured in top media outlets such as the Daily Mail, Lonely Planet and the Sun helping Jack Sheldon attract millions of visitors to his site. Jack now has over 21,000 paying members generating £750,000 in revenue per year. Jack’s inspiration for the business was blatantly copied from Scottscheapflights.com. Even the website design is almost identical! It goes to show not every idea has to be original to make money.
2. Choosing the Domain Name
Once you selected a niche, now it’s time to start thinking of a name for your future website. My advice is the domain should be branded. E.g. Google isn’t called Searchengine.com or Jacks Flight Club isn’t named Findcheapflights.com. The domain should be short, catchy, easy to spell and describes what your brand is all about. Also if you start a personal blog, it might best to use your own name. What I usually do is write out all my ideas on a notepad and ask for a second opinion from a friend. If your creative juices are dry, look at the blog names from competitors or use domain name generators such as nameboy.com for inspiration.
3. Registering the Domain
For registering a .ie, I recommend register365.com as they are the cheapest option. Another alternative is IrishDomains.com, they charge €8.95 per year. Most Irish domain registrars are pricey and charge on average €19.95 per annum. The most annoying fact regarding registering an Irish domain is that you need to provide extra documentation to gain approval from the IEDR. Normally the IEDR ask for a form of ID, proof of address and an explanation behind why you want this domain. If you’re interested in a .co.uk or .com domain Godaddy and Namecheap have the best reputation and only charge $10.
4. Selecting a blogging platform
Fortunately, there are tonnes of blogging platforms that are easy to set up, but there are things to consider before making your choice.
Most Popular Platforms
- WordPress – For me this hands down the best software for blogging. They offer a free self hosted version (wordpress.com) and a premium option (wordpress.org) where you need hosting. The free version is too limited because you can’t install plugins (huge disadvantage) or customize your blog.
- Blogger – Free blog-publishing service owned by Google. A lot of beginners start off with blogger.com and then migrate to WordPress which is painful to do.
- Tumblr – Tumblr.com’s blogging software is a combination of Twitter and WordPress. Most Tumblr blogs are just photo’s / gifs and contain very little content.
- Medium – Another free platform that has grown significantly since starting in 2012. I mainly use it to write content to promote my brand and link back to my blog. The main downside is that there’s no way to monetize your articles on Medium.com directly.
5. Finding a Webhost
There are thousands of different website hosting services online and it’s tough to find honest reviews. Mainly I use web hosts located in the US because they’re cheaper and offer great support for beginners. I’ve tried Hostgator, Bluehost, Siteground and iPage. Out of all them companies, I’ve found iPage to be the most reliable, provide great customer support and have the least downtime. They currently offer a discount to new customers, provide WordPress hosting for less than €2 per month and they also offer a FREE domain name.
Signing up with iPage
When you visit their homepage click on “get started now” button. File out the basic details and complete the payment process. Once you’ve paid, they will send you an email with relevant login details. Login to your control panel account and look for a heading that says “website.” Under the website header, you will find a WordPress icon, click and open it. Fill in the installation information and leave the directory blank.
I recommend beginning with a shared hosting plan and then upgrading to a higher plan once your website starts generating strong traffic. For this website I use HostingIreland.com. I would recommend them over Blacknight purely because they offer better value. I contacted Blacknight’s customer support and they tried up-selling me to a hosting plan that was far too excessive.
Main factors to consider when selecting a web host
• Reputation and reviews
• Value for money
• Nature of the website – is it a blog or an eCommerce website?
• Speed – my target market is Ireland, so I need a web host with servers in Ireland, so my site loads faster. How fast a website loads is a big ranking factor on Google. I upgraded my investing site to a dedicated server and noticed a significant bump in rankings.
• Technical Support – you may run into small problems setting up your website, so excellent customer service helps saves time and avoid frustration. In the early days I was hounding customer support non-stop with basic problems but luckily they were patient.
6. Designing the Website
Since I’m lazy to learn how to code properly, buying a WordPress theme is a simple way to get a slick looking website that you can customize later. My favourite theme is Genesis, a simple minimalist theme that is easy on the eye and optimized for speed. There are free themes available if you want to save money and avoid downloading premium themes for free off torrent sites. I did this once and my website ended up getting hacked because the theme contained malicious code.
Pro tip – Remove the designer’s backlink in the footer at the bottom of the page. Designers like to link to their websites to sneakily increase rankings.
After WP installation there are few small default settings you need to fix that make a big difference.
- Change Permalinks to “Post Name”
In the sidebar, go to settings > permalinks, pick “post name” and save. The default setting -website.com/p=123 is not SEO friendly because you can’t include your target keyword in the sub URL.
2. Delete Sample Post, Comment and Page
By default, WP publishes a post, page and comment. These are unnecessary and should be deleted asap.
3. Add in Site Title, Tag Line and Set Website Address
Remove “www” from the URL because shorter URL’s rank better.
Now that your website is up and running, the fun begins. It’s time to start writing content and promoting your blog like a maniac!