The fundamental feature of being a blogger is to have a blog. (Uh der!) But how do you get a blog started?
The first thing to do is; don’t panic. (Good advice that’s applicable in so many situations!) Don’t let all the techie speak get you in a spin, if you can microwave popcorn you can start your own blog.
I’m going to walk you through the options available, demystify the technical and give you some helpful links for further reading.
It’s time to become a blogger!
Hopefully you’ve asked yourself the 2 questions you need to have answers to before you start a blog and you’ve picked a blog name you can live with.
Got your answers? Awesome.
I’ve got some good news for you, there’s only 2 options to consider when it comes to how you’re going to blog; free versus self hosted.
Free Vs Self Hosted
It’s time to think about what platform (click for definition) you’re going to use for your blogs home. Think of it in terms of choosing a Mac versus PC, or an xBox versus Playstation, or Pepsi versus Coke. It just comes down to personal preference and circumstances. There’s no right or wrong answer on this one.
The 2 most popular free blog platforms are Blogger and WordPress.com. However, there is a third option: self hosted (click for definition).
The best analogy I’ve heard for this comes from Tasha (of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body), and I’m going to paraphrase here:
Blogger and WordPress.com are like renting a house, self hosting is like owning a house.
If you choose to use Blogger and WordPress.com it’ll be free (yay!) but you’ll have limited control over your blog customization (boo!).
Now, at first the options available through a free blog platform seem overwhelming and limitless but just like everything in life the more you work with it the more you’ll learn and sure enough there will come a point in time when you want to be able to do more.
If you go for a self hosted (you register your domain name and get a hosting package from a hosting service) you’ll most likely use WordPress – this version of WordPress is referred to as WordPress.org.
There’s some great posts available that go through and list all the considerations between going with a free option (Blogger and WordPress.com) or self hosting via WordPress.org:
- My Biggest Blogging Mistake and How I Fixed it – a great article the outlines some fabulous pro’s and con’s about which platform to choose.
- How to Make My Blog – this is a great article on the pro’s and con’s of which platform to choose.
- Spot Cool Stuff – for those that are visual (like me) I love the infograph in this post that shows the differences between self hosted WordPress and free WordPress
- CoSchedule Blog – I love this article because it shows a different spin on why it’s in your best interest to be self hosted.
What choice did I make?
My blog is self hosted. I own my domain (http://www.gnomeangel.com) and I pay for a hosting service. (I use VentraIP – this is not an affiliate link, I just really like using them and so am happy to tell you all about it.)
I chose this option because it gave me the most flexibility and I never really enjoyed reading blogs on the Blogger platform so I knew I didn’t want to head there. (It really bugs me that you can’t see responses to comments on Blogger – the blog owner goes to the trouble to respond and that is lost and so other readers miss out on some of the gold that’s often found in comment threads.)
I really love WordPress because it’s really intuitive (if you can use Microsoft Word you can use WordPress), there’s heaps of free plugin’s available and I’ve found over the years that I can change the look and feel of my blog with relative ease and little coding knowledge.
Time to start!
Now you’ve had a bit of a think about your name and how you’re going to host your new blog it’s time to get started on creating it.
I’ve collated some great links on how to start your Blogger based blog here:
I’ve also collated some great links on how to start your WordPress.org based blog here:
- The Blog Builders – Blog Set Up – Video Tutorial or Screenshot Tutorial (Be warned, this tutorial is based on setting up your blog via BlueHost (a hosting service provider) so if you want to go with another provider you may need to use another tutorial – although the principals are the same.)
- About Technology – 10 Steps to Start a Blog with WordPress.org – this is a great list as it goes through from registering a domain to formatting your look and feel of the blog to writing content.
- Michael Hyatt – How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less – another great one as it’s both video and written. It is however also aligned to BlueHost so it may be a little different if you’re using a different provider.
I know that when you compare the two that starting on a free hosting site seems like the easier option, and it is (sort of), but trust me if you do a little bit of work to get your self hosted blog set up you’ll feel like you conquered Mount Everest – all you have to do is follow the steps and if you get stuck contact your host provider and ask them for help. In my experience they’re always really helpful and want you to have the best experience possible.
Where to from here?
Once you have a name, you’ve decided between Blogger, WordPress.com and WordPress.org it’s time to start the fun stuff. It’s all about giving your site your own look and feel (think branding), creating and publishing content (you’re now a freelance writer) and building your community (time to make some awesome internet friends).
Do you have any questions you’d like me to try and answer or find some more information for you? Just leave me a comment or contact me and I’ll do my best to get the answers for you.
If you’ve started a blog leave me a comment with your blog details and I’ll pop on over and check it out, I love finding new blogs to follow!
If you want to find out more great places to read about blogging why not check out my Pinterest board: All About Blogging