It’s Friday night again, and it’s time for another behind-the-scenes look at blogging! This time, I want to share some blogging basics for beginners.
The world of blogging is so accessible now, which is great for newbies. Back when I started my first blog, there weren’t many resources available. But, today it’s easier than ever to start a successful blog.
Blogging is still the best way to promote your personal brand. From your own site, you can share your writing, sell products and services, and connect with your audience. Think of your blog as your “home base.”
Here are tips on blogging basics for beginners. Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. When you click through to make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
What Is a Blog?
You may have read many blogs without giving much thought to what a blog really is. Blog is short for weblog. Unlike a static website, a blog is regularly updated with new content and “blog posts.”
A blog is designed for frequent content updates. You can simply hit “new post” to add a new article to your site; you don’t have to know how to code or anything too technical.
Blogs are very flexible, and they can be used the way you use a traditional website, but to build up regular traffic, and keep your audience entertained, it’s best to regularly update your site with new posts.
There are many blogging platforms available, but the one I use and recommend is called WordPress. It’s really easy to get your blog up and running with WordPress.
When you start researching blogs, you will find that WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. When I started my first blog, I tried Blogger first, and I almost gave up. Luckily, I discovered WordPress.
WordPress is a free, open-source blogging software. There are two different “forms” of WordPress. One is the free blogging platform WordPress.com. On WordPress.com, there are a lot of limitations, and your site will be harder to monetize.
When you use the WordPress software on your own site, you have full control of the software. This version of WordPress is often described as WordPress.org. You can go to WordPress.org to download the software, but most web hosts will install it for you with one click.
Once the software is installed, you will add content to your site by creating “pages” and “posts.” (You are reading a blog post right now.)
Blog Domain Names
To start a blog, you need a domain name. A domain is like your address on the web. It’s how people find you. My website domain is debrajohnson.com. When people type my address into a search bar, they can find my blog. They can also click on a link to it.
You have to have a domain name for your website. It can be your name, the name of your company, a description of what you do, something random, or a combination of any of these.
Whatever you choose for your domain name, make sure that it’s something memorable, and that people will be able to understand it an type it in to find you.
If the name you want is not available, you can choose a different name, or a different extension. You can use .org instead of .com, for example. You can also buy your domain name from the owner. That’s what I did to get my domain name. But, be careful with this process. It can be tricky!
You can buy a domain name by itself and connect it to your site later, but many hosting plans offer a free domain name with your web hosting plan. You can check to see if the name you want is available on any domain host. If it is available, buy it before it’s gone!
You can do a domain name search on Uniregistry or any domain provider.
Blog Hosting Services
If you domain name is your address, your hosting plan is like your actual home; it’s where your site will live on the web. There are many web hosts available, but there is only one web host that I recommend for beginners.
The first blog hosting service that I recommend is Bluehost. Bluehost is a reliable web hosting platform that’s inexpensive. It’s only $2.95/month, and they offer a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan.
Once you select your host and a plan, you will connect your domain name to your host (unless you bought it from the host; in that case, you don’t need to do anything).
Now you’re ready to set up your blog! The basic components of a blog that you need to understand are your blog’s theme, widgets, and plugins.
WordPress Blog Themes
A WordPress theme is the way you decorate your site, but it also has functional features. You can find free sites on the web, but I highly recommend paying for a premium theme to get your blog off to the right start.
Once you set up your domain and hosting, you will automatically have a plain default theme. It will look very unattractive. But, don’t worry! All you have to do is install your own theme, and it’s as easy as uploading a zip file.
I have tried out many WordPress themes over the years, and I have two favorite theme sites. Both of them make beautiful, feminine WordPress themes that are perfect for female writers, entrepreneurs, and creatives.
When I first started my WordPress blogging journey, I used BluChic themes. They are very easy to use, and they look beautiful. They also have great customer service and documentation to help you troubleshoot any issues. I highly recommend BluChic themes.
I currently use a theme by Restored316 called Anchored. This is my absolute favorite theme out of all of them that I’ve ever used. It has every feature that I could look for in a theme. These themes are also very SEO (search-engine) friendly to attract readers to your blog!
Restored316 themes run on the genesis framework. So, you have to purchase the Genesis software from StudioPress and install it (upload it), then you purchase and upload your Restored316 theme. Check out all of their themes here and you’ll see why I’m in love with their themes, and the entire brand!
A WordPress plug-in is way to easily install extra software to your site for added functionality. I don’t use a whole lot of plug-ins because I use feature-rich themes, but plugs-ins can be very useful. For example, I use a plug-in to capture my site stats.
WordPress widgets are a fun way to add more features to your site also. Most themes have built-in widgets. Some widgets are basic WordPress widgets. And some widgets are added when you install a plug-in.
When you look at the sidebar of a site, and many other areas, you are looking at widgets. They are used for things like adding your newsletter, adding links to social media, and adding pictures and information in various parts of your site.
There are literally thousands of plug-ins and widgets available to help you personalize your site. But, they are optional. You can add as few or as many as you’d like.
Why Should You Use WordPress?
Although it can seem overwhelming to learn how to create a WordPress blog, it is the easiest way to blog and have full control over your website. There are other blogging platforms like Squarespace, but with WordPress, you can change hosts, fully customize your site, and you can benefit from it being an open-source software, which means that developers are always coming out with new ways to enhance WordPress sites.
No matter which platform you use, there are also lots of resources available to help you spruce up your site and make it look great.
If you’ve ever visited a site and wondered how the blogger made it look so great, they are probably using sites like Creative Market for fonts and design resources. They may be using PicMonkey to create graphics, and a site like HauteStock for beautiful stock photos (I use HauteStock, and I love it!).
These are just a handful of blogging resources that I use. I’m developing an eBook with a full list of blogging resources. But, for now you can check out my blogging resources page.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, don’t wait any longer! Get started today. You can use your blog to express your thoughts, share your products and services, and so much more.