Hi everyone! I have been blogging for a year now, and self-hosting for a couple months. I thought it would be nice to take you on a little blogging journey with me, whether you’re just curious about what happens behind the scenes of a blog, or you’re thinking of starting your own.
Not sure what self-hosting means? Tempted to start a blog, but not sure where to start? Grab a pen and a piece of paper, then answer the following questions to map out your blogging success!
This post contains Bluehost and Theme Forest affiliate links. I only recommend products and services that I like and either currently use or would use. If you make a purchase, you support this blog: I earn a commission at no cost to you.
Many articles about blogging recommend that you think about who you are going to write for, so that you can hone into a profitable “niche”. However I think “why” is quite a crucial question to ask yourself.
Do you want your blog to be a kind of diary, in order to stay in touch with friends and family? Do you have a craft or a cause that you want to share with the world? Do you want a platform to showcase your services, products or skills? You’re a multifaceted person and you’re allowed to have several themes you want to express yourself about.
This is also a good time to get inspiration from the places you hang out online. The idea is not to copy other websites, but to reflect on the elements you like about them.
Jot down your thoughts right now, either mind-mapping or as a couple pages of free writing, then read on… Nothing needs to be set in stone at this point – things will change – but having an idea of the shape and scale of your ambitions will help you make the decisions outlined in the steps below.
To start blogging, you need a blog! One of the first considerations is the domain name, i.e. what is between the www. and the .com! People have differing opinions on this, but as you’re starting out, you probably only broadly know what your blog will be about. I therefore suggest “owning” your name and using that to baptise your website, like I have! The next step is creating a little corner of the Internet that’s all yours.
Hosting – how to get your little corner of the Internet
There are two main options as to “where” your blog can be and this depends on the hosting. Choosing a “hosted” blog is akin to living at your parents’: it’s free, but you have less freedom to make big changes / rent space out for money. Whereas opting for a self-hosted website is like buying a house: it’s more expensive, but then it’s your own space to do what you want.
If you choose a hosted website, you’ll probably have something like .wordpress.com at the end of your web address. Should you want to sell your products online or have your website look a certain way, your options will be quite restricted. However there are few to no upfront or ongoing costs.
I started that way with a blog hosted by WordPress. It is a pain to later transfer to self-hosted, but doable. I did it! I transfered my old blog posts here with just a little googling. I’m now self-hosted and delighted with the freedom it offers.
To enjoy all possible opportunities for growth, you should go with the self-hosted option, and therefore figure out where to host your website. I host mine with Bluehost and can honestly recommend them! The small upfront cost is a good incentive to keep going with your blog after the initial excitement wears off. You can get a discount on hosting – more than 50% off – by using this link. (As a Bluehost affiliate, I’ll earn a commission at no cost to you.)
Once your awesome website is hosted, you’ll need to put something there! I recommend the WordPress software, which is a free content management system you can add to your website. It enables you to start blogging without having to do all the coding yourself!
Themes – how to decorate your little corner of the Internet
The last step of setting up “where” you’re blogging is to choose a theme. The theme determines the appearance of your website. There are free as well as premium ones. Mine for example is The Essence theme, available here. Go back to your “why” while building your website to ensure you create a platform that is right for YOU.
I thoroughly recommend Jess Catorc’s four part walkthrough to building your website (available for free here). She’s biased towards the self-hosting approach – and rightly so – but her tips are helpful for all websites.
This may all seem a bit much at this point, but take it step by step and you’ll surprise yourself! Unlike back in 2002 when my dad got me a book about creating a website (that looks very retro now), today there are loads of resources “on the line“. You will get stuck at some point, but I’ve found that the solution is often just a Google search away!
💭 Brain-dump all your ideas as to why you want to start blogging. Don’t be afraid to dream big!
✨ Get your Bluehost discount here and then share a link to your brand-new website in the comments below. Don’t worry if it looks like a work in progress: 1) it is a work in progress, 2) we’re here to encourage each other.
💻 Go through the daily lessons of Jess Catorc’s mini-course. Then check back here for the second installment of this Becoming a blogger series – on developing blogging habits!