HOW TO START A BLOG
GET ONLINE PRESENCE WITH A BLOG
Start a personal blog or portfolio website
Having an online presence as a developer, creator, designer, photographer, marketer among many other skills is an important step in once career or hobby.
It ss a way of documenting knowledge as a developer or selling your ideas and craft to the community and possibly interested buyers.
It gives sense of identity. A sense of trust and passion, pathing the way for opportunities from employers and buyers. Opportunities that might have seen out of reach.
A photographer can have a blog displaying photoshoot to potential clients, a developer as well might want to show employers he indeed, know what he is doing with the code.
Revenue generation from a blog can come in handy with monitization methods like Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, online courses among many.
With that in mind, let see how to start a blog in simple ways.
With lot of content management systems (CMS) available, developing a blog is now simplified and requires no technical knowledge.
Any of these CMS can be use to develop a blog:
- Blogger (a free blogging platform from Google)
The list goes on but the above are the dominant and among that, is WordPress.
- User friendly even for beginners
- WordPress sites rank high
- Dozen of themes to always select from
- WordPress sites have a build in blog
- Powers over 75% of all websites on the internet
- Strong support from WordPress community should you run into problems
This and many other factors which might not be listed above are the main reasons why WordPress should be used for your blog, business website or portfolio projects.
Reasons not to use free blogging platform.
It is never advisable to start a blog with free blogging platform if you have the mindset of future plans like reselling or turning it into something mega.
More over, the blog can be taken down at any point in time when they deem it fit which might cost you a lot.
- Free blogging platforms like blogger or WordPress.com, which is the free version of WordPress.org can take you down the moment automated scripts detects somthing fishy. It might be false alarm but as a traditional duty of the script, it must be fired.
- You are totally limited as to how the blog looks. No customization and plugins to take care of security
- Blog looks unprofessional as domain name must come with blogging platform extension such as tinastories.blogspot.com instead of tinastories.com. This might give the impression to site visitors that, maybe owner is not seriouse.
Developing on a free platform with the intention of migrating to paid hosting can be very difficult, frustrating and time consuming.
Opt in for professional hosting plan and use WordPress to easily get the blog up and running in no time.
What is needed to start WordPress Blog.
This might vary in order but tentatively, every blog needs to have these core things:
- A niche
- Domain name
Let look at the above in brief.
Niche: Pick a subject area for the blog. Is the write up focusing on photography, software, health, agriculture, tourism, flowers, programming, psports, arts, funny acts? Define a clear topic to kick start.
This helps in getting unique and appealing domain name for the blog.
Domain name: With subject area don, next is domain name. blog4dev.com is the domain name for Blog4Developers.
Check if your prefered domain name is available
Hosting: Content on a blog need to reside on a secure server and can be live on the internet for the whole year. This calls for the need in getting better hosting. Hosting will be discus down the line.
With subject area and domain name successfully don, time to start the awaited first blog using WordPress and no stone will be left unturn from the list below:
- How to register a domain name
- Choosing the best hosting platform
- Installing WordPress
- Change blog theme
- Write first blog post
- Add contact form
- Monetize your blog (optional)
- Best WordPress theme to download and install
- Add Google Analytics to monitor site traffic
Once the blog subject is ready, let start with the first step. Here our fake blog topic is about the journey of a developer callaed Tina and our prefered domain here could be Tinastories.com.
Register the domain name tinastories.com but before that, it would be nice to get the hosting first and come back to step 1 with the domain name.
Hosting a blog or website need to be on a trusted and secured server because that is where everything about the blog files, images, videos and all documents will be stored.
Lot of hosting companies are out there but the official WordPress recommended hosting provider is bluehost. Hover over to blue host and start the hosting registration process.
One good thing here is that, a domain name could cost $11.5 a year. With bluehost hosting, domain name is added to you free of charge meaning you will be saving some bugs which is really good for beginners.
Click on ‘Get Started’ button which is clearly shown on the green button. Sight design might change but don’t let that throw you off.
On the next page as shown below, select the plan that will suite your needs. Basic and Plus plans are the most popular been selected. If you are beginner just getting started, I will suggest you go in for ‘Basic’ plan and can later upgrade.
Now select the plan that can handle your needs.
With any of the plans selected, you will be giving free SSL Certificate which is very important as far as site security is concern. On some hosting platform it will be sold to you but with bulehost, free of charge.
Next you will be presented with the domain name option. Here you input the name of the blog like blog4dev.com.
Remember the fake name we had, tinastories.com. Let use it.
Use the down arrow to select .org, .info and any dot extension you want and click next.
This will bring you to the signup process and you will be notified if the domain name exist or not. If it does exist, continue and fill up the form with your information.
Right below the form is the Package information form. Here you can select the hosting for 12, 24 or 36 months. Use the drop down arrow to select.
In this case I have selected 12 months hosting as seen below.
Finally is the ‘Package Extras’ were you can add up extra packages that you want. Generally it is recommend to leave it as you can add it up after setting the site. So unchecked all the boxes else you will be billed automatically.
Check out and submit.
Bravo! successfully purchased a hosting plan with a free domain name from bluehost.
Once submitted you will receive an email with login credentials and instructions to access the web hosting control panel (cPanel) where you will be able to manage the entire website or blog, send emails and notifications to members and a whole lot.
Now with a hosting and a domain name. Next, install WordPress and build first blog.
STEP 3: Installing WordPress on cPanel.
With the email received from bluehost which contains cPanel url and log-in details, log onto the cPanel with the credentials provided.
In the cPanel, there will be lot of icons and features all over. Just ignore all these and such for the WordPress icon and click on it as seen on this right image with caption ‘Install WordPress’
Clicking on it will redirect you to blue host marketplace quick install for WordPress. Click on the get started button
- Now choose domain name in the drop-down menu on the next screen
- Next enter site name, username and password for your site and make sure all check boxes are marked, then click install.
This will install WordPress.
You will be notified to brows themes whilst WordPress is been installed. Leave that for now as it is discus below on how to download and install free themes.
A success message will appear atop the page upon successful installation. Click on the link installation complete link which will lead you to the WordPress login url and password.
Take notice of this login details very well probably copy or write it somewhere.
There is it! You have successfully installed WordPress and your first site is up and running. All you need to do is customized the default theme which doesn’t look nice mostly and then, start writing post to the blog!
STEP 4: Change blog theme.
With the log-in details, log onto your WordPress dashboard and you will be presented with something like this:
Here is the dashboard after log-in.
Currently the site is using on of the default themes which will be change soon. To view the site, atop of the header bar place cursor on ‘Tina Stories’ and ‘view site’ will appear. Click on it or right click and open in different window. Site will launch with the default editing tools on top of the header bar seen only by the admin. Any person accessing the website or blog will only see web page with content but not the editing tools. As such, always log out after editing site.
How site looks with the default theme. Yours might be differ but all process is the same.
That is it. Everything left is to change the current theme. WordPress comes with lot of free themes and you can still check elegant themes for more advance and customized themes based on your needs.
To go back to the dashboard, on top of the header bar at the left hand side, place the cursor on the site name here tinastories and a drop-down will appear select dashboard and tab on it to navigate back to the dashboard.
STEP 4: Change blog theme.
Changing blog theme is so exiting, simple and easy to do. Make sure you are on the main dashboard and on your left hand side of the navigation bar, place the cursor on ‘Appearance’ and a sub menu will appear then click on themes.
Next will be inside the theme page. There is always some themes here by default. Yours might be different but generally everything works the same. Inside the theme page click ‘Add New’
Make sure to have good internet connection else ‘Add New’ page might not load correctly. Result of clicking ‘Add New’ is shown below.
Astonishing as see above. Presented with wonderful and beautiful themes from WordPress.
Hover mouse on any theme to preview it and if interested, click install to install it after which you click activate to activate the theme. Select any one of your choice.
For more advance and customized themes, you might want to look at asthra theme or elegant themes. Both are beautiful in nature and in design.
There you go. After selecting a theme and installing it, then activate. You have successfully change the default theme of the site and you can preview as disused above to see the out look.
It might not appear exactly as seen on the theme image but when you start to add blog post, it will appear as expected.
STEP 5. Write first blog post.
If you have ever worked with Microsoft word document before then you can write WordPress blog post. Everything is much of the same. Just as the way word document is formatted so as it is in WordPress. On the left side bar, hover on ‘Post’ for a sub menu to appear then select ‘Add New’ to begin writing the blog post. As seen, the work-space for writing the blog post is not entirely new in terms of document formatting. Employ word document writing skills and you are good to go. Below is the work-space for the blog post.
Provide post title and content. When don look at the top right hand side for ‘Publish’ and click on it to publish the post and from there, first blog post was created and published!
STEP 6: Add contact form.
This process will also show you how to add any plugin to WordPress site or blog.
It is very necessary for any website to have a form where people can get in touch with with site owners. This is always a nightmare for programmers to get a full working form on a site or application.
With WordPress, it is highly simplified than you can ever imagine. There are lot of ways to accomplish this but one of the easiest ways is to use a plugin.
Plugin(s) is a script that extends functionality to a WordPress website or application. Plugins are not used only with WordPress but across divers applications and platforms.
To ease the task, install a contact form plugin. There is a plugin for almost everything you could think of; videos, gallerias, testimonies and a whole lot. For now install the contact form plugin.
On the main dashboard go to ‘Plugins’ and navigate to ‘Add New’ page. Then using the search box in this page type WPForms and search. When it appears then install and activate it.
After installing and activating, on the left side bar hover the cursor on ‘WPForms’ and select ‘Add New’ as seen below.
This will launch WPForms designer interface and it is stright forward to work with. All you need to do is to provide the form name. It could be anything but make it reasonable. Tina Contact Form is the name used here. Use anything you like.
After that select Simple Contact Form. Other options are there but keep it simple.
A simple contact form will now be created for you with all required fields. You can use the tools to enhance it and make changes but I advice you leave it as it is if you are a complete beginner.
Now click save at the top right corner and besides it is ‘x’ icon. Click on it to exit the page.
Adding contact form. On the left side bar select ‘Pages > Add new’ to add new page. Name the page Contact or anyway to your likening.
On top of the page will be ‘Add Form’ button. Tab on it for a drop-down to appear. Select the name of the form you created earlier and tab on add form. The form will be populated onto the page.
STEP 7: Monetize your blog to make money.
Blog monitization pays off when don right. Follow approved procedures and do not distract user experience with much ads if using Adsence.
Monitization can be in any of these but not limited to:
STEP 8: Best WordPress themes.
WordPress as a content management platform means everyone can develop a blog. What makes the difference is the design and functionality and if you want to take the design to the next level, you are fully covered.
Developers have crafted nice looking themes for blogs, websites, saloon, gardening and all fields you can mention. My recommended best platforms you could get such themes and download is from astra theme and elegant themes.