It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to explain how influential blogging has become in my life. Becoming Minimalist was launched on a Monday evening in just a matter of minutes. I didn’t sit down at the computer that evening to start a blog. I just wanted to read and learn more about minimalism and owning less.
But before the evening was over, this blog was born and this post was written. A simple decision, made and executed in a manner of minutes, has changed my life in nearly every imaginable way.
I wouldn’t change anything about it. In fact, my only regret is that I didn’t start earlier.
I have written countless posts and articles urging others to make blogging a discipline in their life. But I have never offered the steps to make it a reality—until now.
Learning to blog well is a lifelong endeavor. But getting started is quite simple. It requires only a few minutes and a few dollars and I have broken the process into 7 simple, easy-to-understand parts.
A Simple, Helpful Guide to Starting Your Own Blog
1. Establish a Home.
A blog’s home consists of two parts: 1) a domain address and 2) a server.
A domain is your web address (www._______.com). And a server is the computer space you will buy to host your website and all its information.
Don’t worry about this. It’s easier than it sounds—and we’ll walk you through it. Bluehost, the server I use and recommend, has made this step affordable and user-friendly.
Your domain address is an important decision, but don’t get stuck overthinking it. It can be changed in the future if you’d like. But more importantly, whatever name you come up with first is usually the best place to start. Most websites will help you find alternatives if your first choice is already taken.
Using Bluehost for both domain registration and server hosting is the easiest option (the domain registration is free on Bluehost) and it is the server recommended by WordPress, the platform most used for blogging. Bluehost prices are reasonable. Their customer service is always available to help (email, chat, and telephone—I’ve used them all). And their 30-day money back guarantee makes starting an easy choice.
The first step to starting your own blog is to visit Bluehost and register your own domain. Click the “Get Started Now” button and choose a plan. You can select the cheapest plan for $2.95/month (yup, your own website for less than $40/year). But I use the “Plus” package at $5.95/month. It costs a bit more—but it allows unlimited websites, unlimited email addresses, and unlimited website space. I’ve never regretted the few extra dollars.
There are other upgrades available and offered throughout the process, but I don’t think any of them are necessary.
After selecting and registering a domain, install WordPress on your new domain (WordPress is an easy-to-use platform for writing and publishing content).
Installing WordPress on your new domain is as easy as clicking the “Install WordPress” button from your Bluehost Control Panel. It really is as simple as this 3-minute video explains.
Keep in mind that Bluehost is available 24 hours/day to help you with any questions if you have any problems. If you’ve always wanted a blog or website but were too intimidated to get started, please don’t be. It’s never been easier to get started.
2. Craft Your Design.
After registering a domain and installing WordPress, you can log into WordPress and begin blogging—literally, within minutes of reading this post.
Your blog will be loaded with a default theme. A “theme” is the design of your website—and WordPress offers hundreds of them for free. If you don’t love the preloaded theme, more free WordPress themes can be found through the “Appearance” link inside the WordPress Dashboard.
If you want even more customization, you can purchase a “Premium theme for WordPress.” The price of these themes tend to be quite affordable. While I used a free WordPress theme for the first two years of Becoming Minimalist, I currently use a premium theme built on the Genesis framework. Considering the time investment I have made into this website, the professional and customizable features are well worth the investment.
As you do craft the look of your blog, keep the reader’s experience first and foremost in your mind. Make your text large enough to be read easily. Avoid white text on black backgrounds. Keep your content front and center. Limit distractions (ads, links, tabs, sidebars). Display clearly your blog’s name and goal. Write helpful words with your reader in mind. And include an “About Me” page with your picture—readers want to associate a face with the words.
3. Gather Necessary Tools.
One of the best features of WordPress is the variety of plugins created for the platform. Think of plugins as unique tools built to solve problems or offer opportunities.
Adding plugins to your WordPress site is, again, as easy as clicking an Install button. From inside the WordPress dashboard, the Plugins feature can be easily accessed from the menu on the left. Once inside the plugins area, click “add new” and search for the plugin you would like to install. Once you find it, click the “Install Now” button.
There are literally thousands of plugins to choose from. But, for getting started, here are the only 5 you need:
- Akismet. Protect your blog from comment spam.
- Share Buttons by GetSocial. Adds Twitter/FB/Pinterest buttons.
- Google XML Sitemaps. Enables search engines to find your content.
- Jetpack. A WordPress plugin that enables helpful functions (stats).
- WP Super Cache. A plugin to help your content load faster.
You may also want to install Google Analytics on your webpage to better track statistics. You can blog without it, but it’ll be nice to have in the future. Here is a brief, 1-minute tutorial on the steps.
4. Define Your Success.
People start blogs for any number of different reasons. Some people hope to make extra money, craft a new career, or create passive income. Others blog to distinguish themselves in their career field.
But not everybody has professional reasons. Some writers are simply looking for a creative outlet. Others are looking for an online journal, a place to express their thoughts, or just want to share baby pictures with their grandparents on the other side of world. Each of these are worthy goals.
Every blogger gets to choose their definition of success—and each blogger gets to act accordingly.
Your definition of success can always change. Becoming Minimalist was initially created as an online record of our journey into owning less. As a community began to be established, it became a place where I found encouragement and inspiration to keep going. Eventually, it became a website dedicated to the intentional promotion of minimalism. With each passing definition of success, my specific approach to blogging changed.
As you begin blogging, articulate your intended purpose in your own mind—because your definition of success should be based upon it.
5. Be Consistent.
I have found many benefits to blogging. It has made me a better writer, a better thinker, and has motivated me to live a more intentional life. I would recommend it to anyone.
However, blogging can be difficult at times. At the very least, it requires the discipline to sit down and write on a consistent basis. I realize not everybody enjoys writing. And if you hate it, blogging is probably not the best creative outlet for you.
But even for those who do enjoy writing, blogging requires consistency. Growing a community requires you to remain present and engaged. Showing up on a regular basis does not mean you need to blog every day. But it does require you to show up consistently.
It is this consistency that forces many of the benefits listed above. You can only become a better writer if you sit down to write. And the best way to add intentionality in your life is to sit down and record the things you are observing.
Consistency benefits the community. But equally important, it benefits the writer. I stand as proof.
6. Connect with Others.
Your writing has value and carries potential to influence and change lives.
It is important, therefore, to connect your writing with potential readers. If you are not on social media, I would encourage you to do so. Share your posts with your friends on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and elsewhere.
Each of the social media sites (Google+ included) offers a unique approach to connecting with readers and utilizes a slightly different language. Become active on 1-2 of them and learn best how to use them. Here is how I use each.
Take time to find other bloggers who are producing similar content. Connect with them via Twitter or email introducing yourself and your goals. Include links on your site that help readers discover more people writing on similar topics. Links make the Internet work—and they are the best way to get noticed in a busy, noisy world.
If you want people to subscribe to your blog and receive posts via email, you will need to set that up. Most bloggers consider an email list the most important thing you can do online. Again, software has made this relatively easy. I use MailChimp and recommend it.
7. Grow with Your Blog.
Your website will change. I know mine has. You will discover other writers and find new blogging strategies. You will find new tools and new opportunities to share your content. As your site begins to grow, you may choose to invest more time and money into it.
If your experience is anything like mine, these opportunities will come from any number of sources. Each stage of growth will arrive when you most need it.
But in the end, your blog will grow… and so will you. Get started right here.
Note: I am a Bluehost affiliate which means the company has graciously offered me a small commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. This does not influence my recommendation. I have used Bluehost from the very beginning and continue to do so today.