Blogging basics: How to build a blog from scratch

Now that we’ve made our case for blogging and sold you on why it’s awesome, you’re probably champing at the bit to get started.

There’s a ton of how-to guides and advice floating around the web, but most of them contain one tiny useful nugget and a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need. Unless you’re already a tech-minded, experienced WordPress user, tricking out your back end with a whack of plugins is not one of the first steps. You’ll get there — eventually.

Today we’re starting from square one. We’ll show you how to build a beautiful blog from scratch using the world’s most-used blogging and content management system: WordPress. Excited? So are we!

Follow your passion (just make sure it’s practical)

The single-most important decision you will ever make about your blog is also the first decision you need to make — what are you going to talk about?

You should be passionate about your blog’s topic. If you launch a blog about something that bores you, you’re a lot more likely to lose interest and stop updating it. Whether it’s electric cars or vegan cooking or personal finance, your topic should be something you care about and feel qualified to write about on a consistent basis.

Of course, there are also practical considerations in choosing your topic. Do some research into what other blogs exist in your subject area and think about how you will differentiate yourself. Make sure your topic is broad enough and rich enough to sustain over the long term. Also make sure there’s a market for it, no matter how niche.

Choose a killer domain name

Coming up with a good domain name for your blog can be a pain, especially when it seems like all the good ideas are taken. However, it’s a super-important branding decision and one that deserves some thought. Think of your domain name as a headline for your entire blog — relate it to the content you’ll create, keep it short, and unless you’re thinking of something like speedofart.com, stay away from underscores and hyphens.

If your blog is going to be attached to your company, the easiest (and arguably best) option is to go with your company’s name and bolster your brand recognition. If your blog stands on its own, or if you crave something more original, you can get creative with your name and choose something that ideally frames the experience people will have on your site (fun, informative, aspirational, etc.).

Once you’ve chosen a domain name, it’s time to pony up the cash and register it. GoDaddy is where most people start, but if you’d rather support an underdog, NameCheap and Hover both come highly recommended.

Get a reliable hosting service

At this point, you’ve made a couple of very important decisions for your blog — chosen a topic and selected a domain name — and now you need a place to put it.

Where you host your blog will impact your site’s performance and your wallet, so do your homework and be realistic about your needs. A bargain basement-priced GoDaddy plan might be okay for a while, but once traffic picks up, you’ll want to switch to something like Synthesis or SiteGround — services better equipped to support your success.

Select an awesome theme

If content is king, then design is God. No matter how good or plentiful your content, you’re probably not going anywhere as a blogger without a high-quality site design.

You could choose from one of the free themes available in WordPress.org’s theme gallery, but then you run the risk of showing up to the party in the same outfit as everyone else. Although free themes might seem like a great idea — they’re free, right? — investing in a premium theme early on helps you differentiate your site and gives you a lot more flexibility in the long run.

And if you’re looking for a beautiful, professionally-designed WordPress theme to get you started, we know just the place.

1 Comment

  1. Nitin January 12, 2017 Reply

    Very nice post. Thank you Alanna.

PSA: As of Sept. 29, 2017, you can no longer purchase themes from this website. We will continue to provide limited support, including bug fixes and security updates, until March 31, 2018. Thank you for everything. We'll miss you dearly.
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