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Friday, July 09, 2010

How To Start A Blog in 9 Easy Steps

Over the past few weeks, my friends and I wrote about different aspects of blogging and how to position your blog more successful. In this post, I would like to take a step back and talk about how to start a blog. Specifically, I will discuss how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog since we already established that it’s one of the best platforms to start on.

Please note the discussion below assumes that you are interested in monetizing your blog and attracting readership. It’s not as applicable to if you want to blog casually.



1. Establish a business plan for your blog

This doesn’t have to be a full business plan since blogging has a very low cost of entry. But before you begin, there are several things you need to consider:
What’s the main focus of your blog? — I discussed this in Key to Successful Blogging. Be sure to pick a topic that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.

What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? — Do you want to start a blog to complement your business, products, and services? For side income? For notoriety? To open doors to other opportunities? To help others? To keep yourself accountable?

What are your expectations? — How much time are you willing to commit? What level of traffic, subscribers, income do you expect 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now? What would you do if you fail to meet those expectations?

2. Find and register a domain name

Once you have identified your blog’s topic, it’s time to find relevant and brandable domain name. I discussed this topic in detail in How to Create an Amazing Domain Name. I currently use GoDaddy.com and I do recommend them for domain name registration.

3. Find the right web hosting company

Finding the right web hosting company is probably one of the bothersome aspects of starting your own self-hosted web site. I have used many hosting companies in the past, including GoDaddy.com Hosting.

I think the four most important things to do when you start out initially are:

Pick the Linux package over Windows. With Linux you will have greater flexibility with .htaccess and working with PHP.

Pick a host that offers cPanel and phpMyAdmin administrative interfaces.

Use the lowest cost package. Don’t worry, you won’t go over the limits any time soon.

Sign up for 1 month only. Extend an additional month if you are happy and slowly work your way up to full year commitment. Use the money back guarantee if needed.

Here are a few more web hosting companies you could choose from:

4. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress is not too difficult, but it could be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the web. The basic steps are as follow:

1.  Download WordPress
2.  Unzip and FTP files to your web host
3.  Set up database
4.  Set up database username and password
5.  Update wp-config.php file
6.  Run WordPress built-in installation

Akismet –Protection against spams
All in One SEO Pack — Gives your blog basic SEO boost
FeedBurner FeedSmith — Consolidate your feeds into FeedBurner feed
Google XML Sitemaps — Gives your blog basic SEO boost
Smart Archives — Gives your blog cleaner and better archives page. The archives page on Blogthority is a slightly modified version.
Subscribe To Comments — Allows people who left comment to subscribe to the conversation, helps make your blog more interactive
WP-ContactForm — Gives your blog a nice spam protected contact form
WP Super Cache — Makes your blog faster and decreases server load

5. Find and install a WordPress theme

One of the nice thing about WordPress is that there are literally thousands of theme to choose from. With minimal effort you can make your blog looks fairly unique. I discussed this in detail in How to Find the Right WordPress Theme.

6. Install and set up essentials plug-ins

Plug-ins are add on programs that enhance the functionality of WordPress. You can find hundreds of plug-ins at the WordPress plugin directory. However, the ones that I considered essential are:

7. Set up companion accounts and integrate their functionalities

Companion accounts are other online services that make your blog more effective. I shared more information in 12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog. Basically, these accounts will help in different aspects like monetization, marketing, traffic generation, search engines optimization, and so on.

8. Configure your WordPress installation

Once you have everything set up and installed, you’ll have to make everything works together. This involves making configuration changes in the administrative control panel, as well as some minor tweaking of your WordPress theme. This latter part will involve a little bit of HTML and PHP programming.

9. Start blogging

That’s it! You’re done and ready to share your ideas with the world. At this point, you’ll want to read How To Grow A New Blog Efficiently and other fine articles to help your blog grow.

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