Are you wondering how you can start a blog with zero technical expertise and a tight budget? Let me take you step by step to help you kickstart a blogging career or even generate new leads for your business.
You see, a couple of years back, I was in your position. I was looking for ways on how to start a blog with zero web design experience, but fear kept holding me back.
Why Should You Start a Blog
So, let us get straight to the reasons for starting a blog. Here are popular reasons why people venture into blogging:
1. Share your story
Are you a gifted writer looking to share your story with the world? The easiest and best way to talk to the people without physically meeting them is through blogging. You get a chance to share your mind and encourage others in your position.
2. Grow your business
Almost all businesses, from SME’s to large companies maintain a blog as a way of communicating to their customers and increasing their reach. Large corporations like Uber, Microsoft, Yahoo and even Safaricom run a blog.
3. Sell your book/digital product/services
As an author, developer, guitarist, poet, musician, having an online presence will help you build a loyal following. You know the advantage of this? It is easier to sell to your audience/people who already know you than selling to strangers.
4. Build an income working online
I earn an income through blogging, and you can also do it. As a work-at-home mom or dad, student or even full-time employee, you can build an income online through your blog. You can sell a service, become an affiliate, sell handmade items, sell ebooks or even start an e-commerce store.
Here is a list of 32 reasons why you should start a blog today
The Exact Steps I Followed When Learning How to Start a Blog In Kenya
To make the process easier for you to follow, I will document the exact steps I used to establish my blog. Get yourself a warm cup of coffee and let me walk you through.
Here is a breakdown of what we will cover:
- Decide what to blog about.
- Choose a blogging platform (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.)
- Get a domain
- Find a Hosting Provider.
- Install WordPress
- Start Blogging
- Themes and Plugins
Step 1: Decide What To Blog About
Choose a niche that you enjoy, or you are passionate about, or that relates to your business. The primary goal is to become a top resource for people in your niche. If you run a business, you should start a blog that covers the products or services that you sell.
If you are just starting out and you are not sure what to blog about, here are a few things that you should remember:
Choose a topic that you are passionate about
I enjoy writing what I like. If I was to blog about “My journey to the moon”, I would possibly get lost along the way and bore my audience because I have never been to the moon.
If you are not sure what your passion is, talk to you closest friends to help you find something that you can command authority. Most likely, it is something you have shared with them several times without you knowing that, that is your passion.
Blog about something that you are skilled/trained
The best way to establish yourself as an authority is to blog about something that you are qualified or experienced. Before you start, ask yourself if you stand a better chance of making your blog better than those already in your niche. The best thing is, you can also establish yourself as a consultant in your niche.
Be a Specialist, Not a Generalist
Most bloggers make the mistake of talking about everything on the planet when they have a chance to narrow down to a particular topic.
Don’t talk about politics, gossip, business, removing acne, training security guards, health and premier league in one blog! Find a niche that has a wide room for discussion and stick to it.
Step 2: Choose a Blogging Platform
The most popular blogging platforms are WordPress (26.4%), Joomla (2.7%), Drupal (2.2%) Magento (1.3%) and Blogger (1.2%). These platforms help you escape the need to code or hire a web designer/developer.
Why WordPress is the Best Blogging Platform
This site uses WordPress, and I enjoy its simplicity, functionality and the dozens of free tools to keep you blogging. Plus, WordPress does the magic with the 1-click install. No hassle. No razzle dazzle. How cool is that?
Now, WordPress has two options: WordPress Hosted (WordPress.com) and WordPress Self-Hosted (WordPress.org).
Difference between WordPress.com & WordPress.org
Websites hosted on wordpress.com have the extension yoururl.wordpress.com, and it is free to use. It is a better option if you are just starting out and want to learn the ropes before jumping into serious blogging.
Consequently, WordPress.org is self-hosted and the best choice if you are serious about blogging and growing your business. With this option, you have a custom domain, and you have the flexibility of choosing a hosting provider. Your domain will look like this: yoururl.com.
I recommend WordPress Self-Hosted, and I will cover this option in this guide.
Disclosure: Some of the links below contain affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links at no additional cost to you. The commission helps in maintaining this blog.
Step 3: Get a Domain
A domain is your online identity, just like you use your name as your identity. If you do not have a domain already, you can get one at Namecheap at a significantly low cost.
[su_button url=”https://affiliate.namecheap.com/?affId=118528″ target=”blank” background=”#ef422d” size=”6″ wide=”yes” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” rel=”nofollow”]Use this link to buy a domain at Namecheap.[/su_button]
For this tutorial, I will show you the steps I used to get a domain on Namecheap.
Enter your preferred domain name in the Namecheap search bar and click “search’ to see if it is available.
If the results show that the domain is available, go ahead and add it to your cart by clicking the basket icon. In this case, this domain will cost $10.69. You will see on the right the total cost for the domain, including ICANN fee of $0.18, which is an annual fee.
The cost may vary depending on your domain extension. For example, the cost of a .com, .net and .org domain may vary slightly.
You can choose to add other extras into your cart if you need them. These extras include WhoisGuard, Premium DNS, SSL Certificate and Private email. Also, there is an option to buy the domain for more than one year (up to 10 years) or choose an auto-renew option.
Not all the extras are compulsory. The ideal extras for a start are WhoisGuard (to protect your identity) and SSL Certificate (adds credibility to your site by adding a HTTPS instead of the normal HTTP to your domain.
The next step is to claim ownership of the domain by paying the total amount. You can pay via the secure card payment, PayPal or account funds already in your Namecheap account.
Also, you will be required to add your personal details including your name, address, country of residence, email address, phone number, etc. After completing the purchase, Namecheap will send an invoice to your email, and you can start making use of your domain.
Useful tips when choosing a domain
- Choose a brandable domain name, such that if you decide to switch your niche, it can still be usable.
- Make it easy to remember, spell and share.
- If you are completely blank, go with your name as the domain name.
- Do not include numbers, hyphens, and obscene names in your domain.
- Use domain name suggestion tools to help you pick a suitable domain name. My favorite tool is Namemesh.
Step 4: Find a Hosting Provider
Hosting companies lend you a server space for your site so that other people can find your blog on the internet. You pay for the server space, either monthly, quarterly or annually.
You may even decide to pay for several years, but the best option is to try the service for the first year first and continue with the hosting company if you are satisfied with their service.
I recommend having your domain and hosting with two different companies. That way, you can minimize the risk in case anything bad happens.
My favorite hosting provider is Bluehost. The company has one of the best support team, minimal or zero downtimes and there is a 30-day money back guarantee. You also get a free domain! You may decide to take it or leave it if you already have a domain name.
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Choose a Hosting Plan
From the screen above, click the green button “get started now” to choose a hosting plan that fits your needs.
There is a Basic, Plus and Prime package. The Prime package is my favorite option because everything is unlimited and unmetered. Also, the Plus and Prime package come with $200 in marketing offers.
After you have purchased a hosting plan, you will get a welcome email from Bluehost. The email contains your invoice and Cpanel (Control Panel) logins. Keep the login details safe for future use.
Step 5: Install WordPress
Use the Cpanel login details sent to your email to log in to your Cpanel account. Once logged in, click the WordPress icon as shown in the picture below:
Installing WordPress with Bluehost Marketplace
- Select install WordPress
- Click the install button.
- Choose the domain name to install WordPress.
- Add/edit the email address, username & password for your new WordPress installation. Don’t use “admin” as the username. Instead, choose something that is not easy to guess and is unique.
- Read through the license agreement and check the boxes if you agree.
- Select the “Install Now” button to complete the WordPress installation.
You will receive a new email with your WordPress login details and instructions on how to access your site. The default WordPress login address is www.yoururl.com/wp-admin/
Step 6: Start Blogging
Congratulations! You are now on track to start a blogging business. To know if you were successful, type your domain name into your browser and see if your site appears.
Use the default WordPress login www.yoururl.com/wp-admin/ and input the username and password sent to your email (WordPress login details).
WordPress Welcome Page
After logging in for the first time, you will see the WordPress backend page as shown below. You can now publish your first post, change the website layout, modify the appearance and other functions.
Step 7: Choosing WordPress Themes
Themes control the visual appearance of your blog. After launching your blog, this will be your default theme (as shown below). It is not very appealing, right? Such a welcome page will likely chase your customers to your competitors.
You can choose from the thousands of free WordPress themes by visiting Appearance >> Themes>>Add New and see the one that fits you. The reason I don’t advocate for free WordPress themes is that you are likely to find websites similar to your site since thousands of people are using the same theme across thousands of sites.
Alternatively, you can buy premium themes that are easily customizable, bug-free and you enjoy free updates every time an update is released. Plus, you will have a unique website that your audience can identify with.
My favorite source of the premium theme is Theme Forest. Their themes are easily customizable, have high conversations and elegant. Apart from Theme Forest, I also recommend Elegant Themes, Studio Press and Thrive Themes. You can get premium themes from as little as $20 to $60, including lots of freebies.
Step 8: Choosing WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins allow you to add new features like contact forms, comparison tables, sliders, galleries, security, SEO, etc., to your blog.
There are over 46, 000 free plugins that you can use to add different functionalities to your website.
The most popular WP plugins include Contact Form 7 (create contact form), Akismet (enhances the security of your blog), Yoast SEO (On-page SEO), Simple Social Icons (Social media) and WP Super Cache (WordPress caching).
Alternatively, you can Buy Thrive Content Builder. The plugin comes with other built-in plugins and will help you build sales pages and landing pages with the just drag-and-drop method. It is a time saver!
Ready for a happy blogging?
It is time to implement what we just learned. Decide what to blog about (niche/topic), choose a blogging platform (WordPress), get a domain, find a host, install WordPress and start blogging. It is not soooo hard, right?
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