Cooper and I have been blogging and creating content for a while now, and we’re often asked how to set up a blog.
We got into this scene initially out of a need to stay in touch with family and friends, after all, it’s easier to share a story once (on a blog) than tell it 25 times to different people, without images!
As time went on, the hobby of lifestyle blogging meant we had the chance to review cool stuff – tech goodies and destinations.
Best of all, we found other like-minded travel bloggers, and events like TBEX, Traverse, Travel Massive and Problogger where we have the chance to mingle with inspired digital nomads who not only believe – but live and breathe – the mantra that you can design your own life, and that anything is possible.
Because I work in the communications industry though, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to learn and grow within digital and social media realms.
I’ve worked on a number of different content management systems (CMS) and have been responsible for the transfer of critical business web assets through many a website migration.
Recently too, I’ve had the chance to help many friends to set up a blog (both for hobby and business blogging plus personal branding purposes).
Because I’ve been through this process a number of times now, and because many of the questions are the same, I thought I’d take this chance to summarise exactly how I do it, and share some of the items that have proved useful to others in the past.
First up, here’s how I do it, and you can set up a blog like this too…
An 8 step cheat sheet on how to set up a blog
Important: This guide is targeting those of you using your own domain (e.g. yourname.com) and an internet service provider such as Dreamhost:
They’re very easy and have tutorials available to answer your questions.
2. Choose your domain name, whether it be yourname.com (e.g. sarahblinco.com) or blog name (e.g. travellivelearn.com).You’ll need to find out what’s available and then pay for it. On average, this will cost you around US $10. I prefer to use dreamhost.com (you’ll find out why in a minute), but you can use any domain sales site to buy your address on the web.
3. Sign-in to your host to update your account details. Include anything it asks you for, such as your address and email details. Here you can get familiar with your service provider’s dashboard, which is where you can do everything from setting up email addresses to paying for your annual hosting plan, attaching special add-ons to your site and installing your content management system (CMS).
4. Organise your annual hosting plan. I prefer to use Dreamhost (as above) because of their one-click WordPress install. This means that with a click of a button, Dreamhost will install the WordPress CMS onto your new site. It’s so easy. But first you’ll need to let them know you want to use them for hosting which costs from around US $100 to $200 per year.
You’ll have to sign-in and set up a payment option for this. I’m not going to go into detail here, because Dreamhost has a very helpful chat service and if you need any assistance they’ll be able to advise.
But, once you have your hosting sorted, simply select the ‘one click WordPress install’ option in the Goodies section of the Dashboard, and your new site will be well on its way to creation! By the way, I am not commissioned by Dreamhost, I just think their services is worth talking about. There are other service providers now offering a WordPress one-click install, but I’ve been using Dreamhost for years now and am entirely happy with their offering.
5. Set up your site! Once this admin is complete, you’ll then receive an email saying you have access to your site. Then the fun begins. Your login will generally be yoursite.com/login (changing ‘yoursite’ to your own URL); You’ll then be able to access your WordPress dashboard, which is where you will spend most of your time from now on designing the look and feel of your site, and blogging, of course.
6. Now you choose a theme. Take a look at the theme options and see what suits your needs. In future, you might like to seek free or paid themes to install, but for now I’d suggest you have a play around with what’s already there. Once you’re happy with the look and feel of one of the themes, select it and click ‘install’.
7. Refine the look and feel. From here, you’ll want to go through and set up ‘pages’ (static options, e.g. ‘about’, ‘contact’); and you can begin to blog using the ‘posts’ option. There are many options within WordPress, but essentially you can teach yourself all about it by clicking through and having a play around in each to see what they do. Don’t forget to manipulate colour schemes, fonts and images where you’re given the option to.
8. Play with plugins. Finally, plugins enable you to polish off your site. Plugins are the way you can add social media sharing buttons to the sidebar (I quite like the ‘subscribe, connect, follow’ widget); how you can include SEO (Yoast is a good one) and backup your site remotely (I use Updraft which backs up my content to Dropbox once a week).
Side note – buying a domain name but not paying for annual hosting.
You can use your domain name (bought in step one, above) and combine it with free blog hosting such as Google’s blogger.com , WordPress.com or Tumblr (nice and easy to use), rather than paying for annual hosting if this is just to be a fun part-time hobby. Click on the provider links for more information on this if you’re interested.
If you need content help or advice on how to set up a blog, email me or leave a comment below.
If you need technical assistance, I’ve found reliable coding help on guru.com (and I highly recommend Zerosoft Technologies who you’ll find there for WordPress fixes and theme manipulation).
My best advice yet
Further reading to help you out…
How to start a travel blog – an in-depth look at the how and why to start your travel and lifestyle blog, including my must-have apps and time management tips.
Best blogging tips – 9 bite-sized pieces of advice to get you blogging right now.
Why it’s important to comment on blogs – the etiquette, and how this can help you with networking and promoting your own new site.
Words to go tips – here’s some juicy tips from some of the very best in the business. Well worth ten minutes of your time. Add it to your reading list.
Social media cross-promotion
Keen to promote your new space and interested in live-casting? Try Periscope – here’s our ultimate guide on how to get started and make the most of this cool platform.
Google+ might not be at the top of everyone’s promotional hit-list, but I still find it’s full of quality content, and might help improve your rankings and authorship cred. Top tips for beginners featured in this in-depth analysis.
Facebook – you’re probably on it, and quite possibly have set up a page to complement and promote your new blog, but are you using it to your advantage? Double check against these five things you might not be doing on your Facebook page.
Questions? Comments? Drop us a line below…