How I Started My Blog in Five Steps, and You Can Do It Too!
1. Choose a blogging platform
Which one is the best?
To be honest with you, I’m not sure. It’s already a lot of debate around them.
As for me, it wasn’t a straight forward journey. I used to blog on free blogging sites such as Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com (the Free option). It’s a good strategy if you’re just starting and not sure whether it’s worth it for you to spend money on your blog. However, if you’re mad serious and want to cut all the experimenting out, just get self-hosted.
I’m currently self-hosted on WordPress.org platform. It’s the best thing I’ve decided for my blogging career I may say. I wish I could have done it earlier.
WordPress.org is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS).
You will have full control over every aspect of your blog. You can add anything to it – forum, online stores, and membership. WordPress is also search engine friendly. Furthermore, there are thousand of beautiful themes to choose from (this is my favorite part) and thousands of free plugins to optimize your blog.
You have to set up and manage your blog on your own i.e theme, plugins, backups and security. It takes a bit of a learning curve. However, there are many WordPress tutorials on the internet or you can always hire someone to help you. (It’s very lucky if you have me in your bff category, I do it for free)
2. Choose a domain name & hosting
Imagine your blog as a ‘house’ where we can find you. The domain name is the address of your ‘house’ i.e. www.aishahkamaludin.com
Hosting is the ‘house’ itself. The virtual space where you put your blog and all its data. Being self-hosted, the space and the control over the blog are fully yours.
There are many domain registrars where you can get your address (domain name) from. There are also many hosting providers which usually provide hosting and domain name altogether in a package.
Before aishahkamaludin.com, I bought a domain name (aishahk.com) from a domain registrar, GoDaddy and just use Blogger, as a free hosting. I didn’t have full control on my blog but the advantage was the domain name made my blog look important. At least, it showed that I was serious with blogging.
aishahk.com only lasted for a year because on May 2017, I decided to change my domain name and get my blog self-hosted from a Malaysian hosting provider, NetKL.
I bought the cheapest of their beginners Xtended plan – mySilver X that comes with 500mb disc space storage, 10gb monthly bandwidth, 3 email accounts and 1 free lifetime domain. Whatever the numbers means, they are still sufficient for me.
When I told my friends, it’s just RM60/year, they were usually surprised. The following thing that happened would be, either me teaching them how to get the plan or me getting it for them and setting up their blogs. Helping more than 6-7 people with their .com blogs, inspires me to write this how-to article.
For many people, it may sound daunting at first but it’s actually pretty easy. Once you’ve purchased the plan from NetKL, they will send you a lottt of e-mails.
It is pretty much step by step but to save you the time, pay attention to these two most important emails (but also check the other emails to confirm the details 😅)
– NetKL Network – NO REPLY: Your cPanel Account Information – *Cpanel is where you build your blog! It is the control board for everything on the server.
– NetKL Network – NO REPLY: Customer Sign Up – *verify your e-mail and login into Customer Control panel. This is where you see the status of your products with NetKL. A place if you would like to buy a new domain in the future, or continue your current products for the following year etc.
Just login into the Cpanel and Customer Control panel and get familiar with the interfaces.
Then, from the Cpanel, install WordPress.org under Softaculous Apps Installer. Once it is installed, you will have three control panels – Cpanel, Customer Control panel and WordPress Dashboard. However, for content writing and blog publishing, you only need to go to WordPress Dashboard and everything starts to get easier from there.
3. Design your blog
If you’re a coder and a designer, you can start designing from scratch. I am NOT one but still, as I said before this is my favourite part of creating my blog.
Pick a free theme, or buy one.
I use a free version of Olsen Light. The previous two that I used were Saka and Apex WordPress Theme by Compete Themes. I love most of the free themes by Compete Themes because they are mostly flexible, minimalist, and mobile-friendly (responsive).
Modify your blog to get your desired look and feel.
After installing a theme, you still need to configure few things. You can go to Appearance tab on WordPress Dashboard to customize your blog. Simple customisation on Site Identity, Widgets and Social Media Icons are already enough to keep it running (before you become crazy to change all the other things on CSS and HTML Editor).
I can write a separate post on how I edit my blog, but here I would like to share one of the best thing I did in tweaking the theme. It is installing the Google Easy Font plugins. By doing so, I can customize the font which usually is not permissible or limited on a free theme.
If you prefer not to waste time on configuring a free premade theme, a popular place for personal blogs to shop for themes is Etsy. The sellers will help to do the installation and modification for you. Easy peasy.
4. Select the best plugins for your blog
There are many plugins for you to choose from, depending on your blog’s need. I try to keep it to the minimum and here are all my installed and active plugins:
– Akismet Anti-Spam to protect your blog from spam
– Easy Google Font A simple and easy way to add google fonts to your WordPress theme. Being able to tweak my font plays a big role on my blog’s overall appearance.
– Google Analytics See how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back.
– Jetpack by WordPress.com Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users. I’m able to use WordPress.com mobile apps to blog directly from my phone with this plugins
– W3 Total cache Dramatically improve the speed and user experience of your site.
– Yoast SEO The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more. I just started to pay attention to Readability & Keyword Analysis Guide and found them very helpful. Following the recommendations improves my posts a lot.
Now that your blog is ready, it’s time for the more important thing. The most important thing, actually. You can start by writing an ‘About‘ page with your nicest picture on it or at least a ‘Contact’ page for us to find you. Depending on your blog’s objective – whether it is personal, lifestyle, business or a narrowed niche blog, start writing compelling content that adds value to the readers.
That’s all from me.
I take two mornings to write this post, it’s three times the length compare to my usual ones. I hope if you have the intention to start a blog this year, this post will inspire you to execute! If you decide to create one or if you’re already a blogger reading this post, please share your blog link in the comment section down below for me to visit some time.
Enjoy writing, enjoy blogging.