Learning how to start a blog or website of any kind, can sound like a very intimidating project. HTML, CSS, PHP, what does it all mean? Here in 2021 you don’t actually need to know anything about coding to get a great website live. I will guide you through all of the steps to get up and running.
This guide assumes you will be using the WordPress software. 39% of the web uses WordPress to power their website.
Are you already blogging, but want to learn how to monetize it? Check out: 3 Ways to Make Money Blogging.
This post may contain links to affiliate websites, and we may receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you on the affiliate website using such links.
This is at no additional cost to you (in fact, in many cases you get a discount).
We do not promote products or services that we have used or tested, and truly believe in.
Choose a Niche
A blog niche is a specific topic you will focus on throughout your blogging journey. Choosing the right niche is one of the most crucial steps when you want to start a blog, as it will be the foundation of your content.
It’s important to choose a niche that is of genuine interest to you, or something that you are an expert in. If you try to create a Financial Planning blog, but have no experience in this field, your readers will see right through it and lose interest quickly.
Your first instinct may be to choose a niche that is vague, in order to cast a larger net. Having a niche that is too vague will result in pushing content to your readers that is not relevant to them. When selecting a niche, you want to narrow down your audience. For example, instead of a general niche such as “Food,” you will want to get more granular such as “Cooking on a Budget” or “Quick Meals for Busy Moms.”
The most important factors in choosing a successful niche are:
- Your interest & experience on the subject
- Size of the niche audience
- Competitors in the market
- Monetization potential
For a more in-depth guide on choosing the right niche, see: Finding the Perfect Niche
Find a Domain Name
A domain name is the URL of your blog. (Example: My domain name is getblogging.ca) You can choose any domain name you’d like, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Short and Sweet
The longer your domain name, the easier it can be to forget or mistype it. (Example: www.thebestcheapandhealthyfoodblogontheweb.org is not only hard to remember accurately, but also rather unsightly!) You want your readers to remember your domain name. Try not to include any easily misspelt words.
Choose a Simple TLD
The TLD (or Top-Level Domain) is the suffix of your domain name. (Example: .CA or .com) When in doubt, go with .com. You may have noticed that the .com TLD is the most popular TLD – it’s also the easiest to remember.
If your content is Canadian-specific .CA is a great option. Canadians are 4x more likely to prefer .CA than .com websites for shopping when they have a choice. (Source: cira.ca)
Is It Available?
Before you get too excited about your chosen domain name, make sure to check if it’s available. The internet has been up and running for 30 years – many domain names are already taken! Try using a thesaurus to change up the words in your blog name, if the one you wanted is already taken.Beginner Tip Most web hosting providers (see next section) offer a free domain name with their hosting plans!
For a more in-depth guide on choosing your domain name, see: Choosing the Perfect Domain Name
Set-Up Web Hosting
Web Hosting is the terminology used to describe the storage of your actual website files. Every blog needs a domain name and web hosting at the bare minimum.
There are a ton of web hosts out there. Here are a few things to consider when you are comparing hosting providers:
One of the main variables in different web hosting packages, is the disk space. This is how much physical space the files of your website can take up. Most packages offer more than enough space for a standard blog, and allow you to easily scale-up if you find you’re getting close to your limit. If you are using email accounts on your server, your emails will be using up your disk space as well.
For a standard blog containing mostly posts with a few images each, 5 GB of Disk Space can be sufficient. (not including email storage)
Start small and scale up if needed – you don’t want to get stuck paying for more than you need!
Another main piece of your puzzle is the bandwidth. This refers to the amount of data that can be downloaded from your website per month. Most plans these days offer unmetered bandwidth, meaning you may not have to worry much about this.
When a reader visits your website, their device “downloads” that page in order to be able to view the page. With that said, visitors are not downloading your entire website when they read a blog post. When in doubt, start small and scale up as needed.
Technology is great, but never perfect. All web hosts (servers) will experience some downtime, but you want to ensure that downtime is as minimal as possible.
Web Hosts typically guarantee a certain percentage of uptime. Keep in mind that a fraction of a percentage here can make a big difference. A 99% uptime guarantee means your website could be down for up to 5256 minutes per year (or 7 hours per month), whereas 99.9% uptime means down up to 526 minutes per year (or 45 minutes per month).
Never settle for less than a 99.9% uptime guarantee!
- HostPapa – If staying Canadian is important for you, we highly recommend HostPapa. They are based in Canada, and has servers on Canadian soil. HostPapa’s plans come with a free domain name, even .CA domains (which are typically more expensive than .com domains, and often not included as a “free domain” with web hosting).
- BlueHost – If you are opting for a .com domain, BlueHost is one of WordPress’ top recommended Web Hosts.
Select a Design Template
WordPress uses “Themes” for the general layout of your blog/website. No matter your niche, you will find many themes that will be a great jumping-off point for you to start with!
There are a variety of Free and Paid themes available, all over the web. Often you can find exactly what you’re looking for, without spending a dime. Free themes almost always require you to leave a credit to them on the website (often found at the bottom of every web page). Paid themes typically offer a more exclusive license, where you do not need to credit the author of the theme, and offer more powerful tools and options.
WordPress.org has the largest library of Free Themes available for download. Try searching your niche to see if anything pops out at you! If you can’t find the theme of your dreams here, try doing a web search of “wordpress theme niche name.”
EnvatoMarket is our favourite library of both Free and Paid themes. Make sure the theme you are looking at is a WordPress theme before you buy! It can be easy to get off-track and accidentally start browsing HTML templates.
At this stage, the bones of your website are up and live! Congratulations! Now it is time to add the meat to those bones – your content.
You may already have ideas for content to write to promote affiliate links or to sell products. It’s important to keep in mind that most of your content should not be a sales pitch. Try publishing a few “free” posts first to start building a foundation for your readers. If you come in hot with a sales pitch from the get-go, people will be less interested in hearing what else you may have to say.
Your main content should be built for your readers, not for you.
For a more thorough guide on writing content, see: How to Write Engaging Blog Posts
These are the very basics to get you up to speed on the base you need to start a great blog!