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Alright, so this is it. My 100th post. 100 seems like a big number, particularly in blogging. There are a number of sites that go up and never make it to a 100. So for this I feel fortunate. The next big mark will be the 1 year blog anniversary on October 26, 2017.
Blogging has been a great experience thus far. It allows me to put my thoughts down on paper (or computer) and share them with the world. Hopefully among the 7.5 billion people out there, some will find what I have to say of value. If you are reading this, then thank you, because maybe you are one.
Honestly the best part of blogging has been the community. Meeting others through comments, forums, and emails has been rewarding. It is quite the friendly circle and while we are all in it together, there is no competition or animosity.
So I write this post recommending everyone interested in starting a blog to go ahead and do it. Don’t worry about whether your posts are perfect (they never are) or if others are interested (they will). Just start a site and start writing. Later on you can worry about tweeking and perfecting. So off we go.
Starting a blog
So how did I go about this. I initially used GoDaddy to buy my domains and published my blog on Squarespace. I was happy with the service, layout, and overall ease of use. However, after 4 months I decided to switch WordPress. Here is what I learned after those 4 months.
There was no inherent need to switch at the time. I just realized that with the growth of my site, I wanted the ability to do more. To be able to add plugins, reach out to the blogging community for help improving my blog (the community really is amazing and helpful), and in general have more control over my design. WordPress seemed to be the right choice for that.
So after 4 months I switched to WordPress. I wanted to use a WordPress.org site (not WordPress.com) which means I had to find a hosting company. After reading various sites, I decided that BlueHost was the company for me.
Why BlueHost? Well honestly, it seemed easy to use, easy to install WordPress, and relatively cheap. There are always deals out there for cheap hosting. So I switched to BlueHost. They both own my domain and host my site. Here is a step by step on how you can easily start a website.
Setting up a domain and service plan
1) First you have to select a Domain for your site. You can also import an already owned domain if you like.
Think about this for a while, but it should not keep you from starting your site. The domain does not have to be perfect, but I would recommend putting some thought into it. What is the goal of your website. Mine is about Dads and Personal finance, thus the name Dads Dollars Debts. If your’s is about knitting, then maybe a knitting name would be better. Needles And Nuggets anyone?
I would recommend adding privacy for the $10 to $12 a year it costs to the domain. I have accidently not done this before and received close to 50 emails and phone calls the next day. It was brutal. So yes, the $10-$12 for privacy is well worth it.
2) Pick a service plan. I recommend a basic plan to start. Better to start cheap and upgrade as your user base grows.
Start downloading Word Press
3) Login to the cPanel page. It is up at the top, in the second row, second tab in. Find the Website section then click “Install WordPress”.
4) Choose your Domain Name to Install.
If you want the site’s main page to be the blog, leave the “directory” field next to the domain name blank.
You can also enter a subfolder. I still have not figured out the subfolder system, but apparently you can run a whole separate website (at least the appearance of a separate website) with a entirely different domain name through that subfolder. This can also be done later on after you have figured out blogging for some time.
5) Finally click “Install Now”. Wammo your website is installed.
Now that your website is installed, I recommend getting your SSL certificate for your site. This is the https:// that you see on websites. It gives you credibility. Go to “Add Ons” at the top and then scroll down and click SSL Certificates. You will have to pay for this per month but I think it is worth it.
Side note, one thing I did do was park my old domain and other domain names to my primary website. If you park a domain, when someone types it into the browser it will direct traffic to the primary domain.
One downside, you cannot obtain an SSL certificate for the parked domains. So if you type in https:// before the parked domains, you will get an error. I probably loose a little traffic due to this, but not enough to make me change how I am running the site.
Now you need to take your site live. Once installed, WordPress.com is where you will be making all the changes to your site.
6) You log in through WordPress.com and can access your websites DashBoard.
6) Now select a theme. This is the overall look for your website and there are tons to choose from. You may want to look around a bit. One way I chose a theme was looking at what themes other bloggers you like are using.
If you look at the bottom of most pages run on WordPress, the theme is written there. I personally use ColorMag.
Once the theme is setup you can start writing a post. You are literally on your way and now have a blog! Congrats. Later on you can figure out what plug ins you want to add. Here is what I have used in the past and what I learned about blogging.
So there you are. I hope that is helpful. You to can get to blogging pretty simply. So go out there and create!
Also published on Medium.