How to Start a Blog…or build your own website. Blogs and websites are similar in structure, so even though I am writing this specifically for starting a blog. This series will also apply to a website. Blogs and websites are often used together.
This is for everyone who has ever thought about starting their own blog but did not know where to start. I have put up many wordpress blogs and websites over the years, and some have expressed an interest in wanting to start a blog and wanted to know how to do it. This will be a series covering some of the decisions you will need to make and what you need to know to get started.
Most of us have thought about it, if not for any other reason than to write out our own thoughts. Some do it as a way of sharing pictures and updates with family. Others have a message. Others want to start a blog as a business. For whatever reason you want to start a blog, it is a fun, beautiful, creative thing to do, and you never know where it could go.
But the how to start a blog part can seem a little intimidating when you are just starting.
Which Blog Option Is Best for You?
It is a little overwhelming as to where to start and what to do. There are several options, three main options.
- Blogger (google hosted)
- WordPress.com (wordpess hosted)
- WordPress.org (self-hosted)
The simplest, easiest, and cheapest blogging platforms to setup are ones hosted with another company like blogger or wordpress.com.
The most popular way is to self-host a wordpress (wordpress.org) blog.
Many bloggers who start out with a company hosted blog like wordpress.com or blogger will find themselves needing to change over to a self-hosted wordpress.org blog at some point. Many times they find it easier to hire someone to make the change for them to try and prevent as little loss as possible.
There can be some confusion between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is the free blog hosted on the wordpress domain (not your hosting service).
WordPress.org uses the same WordPress content management system, but it is hosted on your own host. The WordPress content management system hosted on your own blog is free. You will, however, have to pay for your hosting service.
Self-host means that you purchase your domain and your own hosting service. Securing and purchasing your own domain name is something you should do no matter which way you go. Even if you do not use it, you have it saved for when you do. It would be frustrating to use your desired name in a wordpress.com or blogger url only to find out when you wanted to purchase the .com that it was already taken. Plus it is good to check this out in advance. If your extension is being used by a domain who has trademarked that name, you could be required to stop using it. I also recommend purchasing similar names to yours that would lead to confusion. For instance, when I purchased artofabeautifullife.com, I also purchased theartofabeautifullife.com.
Your URL without your own domain with a free blog platform like blogger or wordpress.com, would look like this…
yourdomain.blogspot.com or yourdomain.wordpress.com
With your own domain name, it would look like this: yourdomain.com
The main difference between them is that when your site is on your own host, you have more control, especially where ads and plugins are concerned. Plug-ins are add-ons that can help you do things like manage subscribers, add pinterest and instagram feeds, and much more.
WordPress.com’s policy on ads:
“While most affiliate links are allowed on WordPress.com, we do not allow banner image ads or third-party advertising networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media.”
It looks like they may also display ads on your blog.
“At WordPress.com, we sometimes display advertisements on your blog to help pay the bills. This keeps free features free! To eliminate ads on your blog entirely, you can purchase the No-Ads Upgrade. The upgrade is especially attractive and useful to business blogs in order to eliminate any possibility of competitors’ ads displaying on their domains. The No-Ads Upgrade costs $30.00 per blog, per year. You can subscribe to this upgrade from our Store.”
If you think you will be serious about this, I would go with wordpress.org.
How to Start a Blog:
- Decide on a domain name.
- Search the name to see if it is trademarked. USPTO.gov
- Decide which platform to use: WordPress.org, WordPress.com, or Blogger.
- If you choose to self-host with WordPress.org, choose your hosting company. I have used Bluehost for many years and love them. The support is wonderful. I always feel like they take ownership of my problem and work to help me. Most of the times that I remember having to call would have to be with how to do something or when a plugin that I have installed has caused a problem. They have even taught me how to troubleshoot that myself now. I am very happy with them also an affiliate with them. I am also an affiliate for Godaddy – Web Hosting with cPanel – only $1 / month from GoDaddy, but I have honestly not used GoDaddy.
- Register your domain name. Remember, even if you do not use it now, you will have it, and no one else can get it. The cost for this is minimal and runs $10-$15 a year. Some even will register similar domains or their domain with different extensions to avoid confusion in the future. I register most of my domains with 1and1.com, even though I do not host there. I just got started there and have never had a problem with domains, and I know how their system works. If you self-host with bluehost.com, your domain is included in your yearly hosting.
- Decide which platform to use: WordPress.org, WordPress.com, or Blogger.
How to decide:
WordPress.org is the best way to go long-term. It is where most bloggers end up, and it makes it easier to start out there. It is the more costly option, but it is not as expensive as you might think. Hosting and domain together is about $100 a year (give or take $20). That is the only expense that is required. There are many free themes to choose from, so even a theme does not need to be an immediate expense.
If you want to go with a free option, remember, you still should buy your domain name which is around $10.
If I had to choose between blogger or wordpress.com, it would be difficult. I think with wordpress.com, the change to wordpress.org would be easier, but I think if I am planning on staying with a free host long-term, I would go with blogger just because it is run by google. I rarely see a yourdomain.wordpress.com site, while I do see yourdomain.blogspot.com in searches. I am not sure what that means, but why take the chance.
But honestly, I would choose wordpress.org and self host because of a couple very good reasons:
- I do not trust my valuable content being in someone else’s house. What if they decided to take your site down or claim ownership in a new terms of service?
- Most serious bloggers change over to wordpress.org eventually. Starting there in the first place will save you a lot of time and trouble.
- I am a little bit of a control freak. I like to be able to do everything I want to do, and I like to be able to do it the way I want to do it.
- There are so many more plugins available for wordpress.org than wordpress.com. Even though they both are WordPress platforms, wordpress.com exercises much more control over what you are allowed to use when it is hosted on their server. This will make a huge difference should you want a shopping cart or to have ads of your choice on your blog.
So there you have it.
Stay tuned for the next article in the series, How to Start a Blog, when I start walking through the steps of setting up your own self-hosted blog.