Yesterday, you decided to start a blog.
Tomorrow, you want your first post to go viral.
I get it. You are eager. You are motivated. You are impatient.
Tomorrow might be a bit ambitious to get that first post out, and certainly going viral isn’t easy. But there are ways to cut the time from Hey-I-want-to-blog to Yee-haw-look-at-my-first-post way down. This is your step-by-step guide.
First, buy a domain.
Yes, you could host your new blog on Blogger or WordPress.com or Weebly, but this is the one shortcut that I do not recommend. A domain is forever, so grab the domain you want right away and start promoting it with your very first blog post. I use Dotster and I’ve been happy with them for over a decade.
Second, get hosting.
I’ve been using Phastnet for hosting almost as long as Dotster for domains. You can read my review of Phastnet here.
Third, get WordPress.
Download WordPress content management system, and upload it to your domain.
WordPress is ubiquitous. It is free. It is easy to use. It is constantly being upgraded to keep up with the rapid pace of technical advances. There is a huge support community and you will never have a hard time finding tech help if you need it. This explains WordPress in detail.
These first three steps are the ones you want to do only once, and do them right.
You can always change domains later, but what a pain.
You can always change web hosting later, but what a pain.
You can always switch CMS later, but what a pain.
Do these foundation steps right the first time. Yes, they cost money, but not much. Yes, they might take you a few minutes longer (or they might end up saving you time). Don’t take shortcuts on these.
Neil Patel, in his seminal guide on how to start a blog, will tell you that I missed a step.
A very important step.
And he is right: “Figure out the whole point of your blog.”
Others agree. Jane Sheeba writes:
Don’t say you want to start a blog because everyone else is doing it. Yes blogging seems to be popular recently and more and more blogs are started every day.
And yes you might have read the success stories from various bloggers. But don’t start a blog just because you are motivated by seeing the happenings in the blogosphere.
You should have your own message to the world.
I guess I assume that if you are impatient to start blogging, you already know what you want to blog about.
You have an idea.
You are itching to tell the world.
Am I assuming too much?
Everything from here on can be tweaked and upgraded fairly easily over time. In fact, you probably will tweak most of the following steps many times.
This is where you can start to take short cuts.
Fourth, install a theme.
A “theme” is simply a way to organize your blog visually. It is the layout and the design, but the design can be customized later on. Even the theme can be switched up later on.
Here you have two choices.
My pick is to install a framework, such as Genesis Framework, that many developers work in, then pick a compatible theme. Genesis costs about $60 these days. Many of the compatible themes are free, although many are not. Make sure to get a “responsive” theme, so that posts show well on all devices and in Google.
But you are impatient, and you probably want the fastest choice. And the totally free option.
OK, run with the pre-installed WordPress themes. There is one for each year, and any will do. Once your first post is live, you can customize the theme with your own images and such until you are ready to install a more robust theme.
Customization can be a bottomless pit, and not something you will complete on an impatient schedule. But at least change the top header image to something related to your blog. Pay someone five dollars at Fiverr to create a banner for you, or do it yourself for free at PicMonkey.
Replace any other images to match your blog topic. You can always replace them later and make fancy customizations. As I mentioned earlier, you can even change the theme.
Just get the visuals on-topic and you are ready to start.
Yes, you are ready to write your first blog post. Make it good. The first post is your first impression. Never, ever, ever post something of sub-par quality. You can follow these tips.
Did I mention never, ever?
There is a lot more to blogging than just getting started. That because blogging is a huge project. As Neil Patel puts it,
“Blogging is a big deal. It’s kind of like starting your own business. There are a lot of moving parts, choices to make, systems to implement, and creative tasks to be done.”
In fact, there are a lot of other things that ideally you will do before you get started. Things like:
- Editorial calendar
- Social media accounts
- Tribes for comments and sharing
- Mastermind groups for opportunities and troubleshooting
- Monetization (assuming your want your blog to generate income)
But these can wait, if you are impatient. You don’t need any of them to get started.
That being said, don’t wait too long.
Security and backups are important to protect your blog and what you have written. Once you get started, you don’t want to lose the work you have done.
And the sooner you get on with social media accounts and tribes, the faster your blog will grow. If you are impatient, you’ll want to move fast on both of those.
Monetization probably doesn’t matter while your mother is your only reader. But the faster you get traffic, the sooner you’ll want to monetize.
Plugins add functionality. In fact, they can help with backup and security, with social sharing and commenting, and with pretty much everything else. You’ll probably tinker with them for the rest of your blogging career.
So get started, but don’t worry about rushing it.
Now you’re ready for a quick start, and the long haul that follows. If you are impatient, you know what to rush and what you can take your time with. If you are more patient, you can these things more methodically with the long-run in sight.