Do you have a lot of thoughts about a particular topic? Do you feel like you have the knowledge to share with others? If so, you may want to start a blog! Whatever your motivations are, starting a blog can be a fun and empowering experience. Using WordPress, starting a blog has never been easier. In this post, we’ll talk about what things you should consider when starting a new blog and share a few tips for success!
Not sure if WordPress is best for your blog? Check out our Post: Is WordPress a Good Choice for Your Website?
Determine what information you want to share
All blogs accomplish one similar objective: sharing information. This could be content that you create or content you aggregate from other sources. So your blog should ultimately be focussed around a given topic. The exact topic could be something more general, such as sports, or more specific, like basketball.
Ultimately your goal should be to deliver relevant and useful content to your visitors. So you should aim to consistently deliver relevant content to your audience. This allows them to rely on your blog as a source of information on a subject that interests them and keeps them coming back.
Think about ways to organize your blog’s content
Once you understand the information you want to share, you should think about how you can make it easy for visitors to find and browse. One easy way to do this is by using categories and tags for your blog posts. WordPress allows you to do this out of the box.
Categories vs Tags
The main difference between categories and tags is that categories have a hierarchy and tags do not. This means that you can assign parent/child relationships to a category (ex: Sports, Sports–>Basketball). Tags do not have a hierarchy and are just assigned as appropriate.
The trick is to not assign too many categories or tags to a given post. A good place to start is one category and up to five tags per blog post. Sometimes a post may make sense to be in multiple categories, but only one category can be reflected in the URL for a blog post.
Tip: To include categories in your post permalinks, go to Settings–>Permalinks in your WordPress site dashboard, choose “Custom Structure” then click the tags for %category% and %postname%. The structure will update to look like this: /%category%/%postname%/.
Source your Images
When writing a blog post, you’ll often find images you’d like to include in your post. These may be images you’ve taken yourself or images you’ve found online. If you’re using an image that isn’t yours, you’ll need to make sure you’re able to use the image on your website.
Images are typically shared with a usage license, which explains what use of the image is allowed. Simply finding an image on Google does not grant the ability to use it with impunity. If you’re getting an image from a site like Unsplash or Flickr, the image license should be very easy to find. In other cases, it may be less obvious.
Google has support documentation that covers digital copyright and provides some guidelines for respecting those copyrights (see here). Some images may be usable under fair use guidelines. See this article for more information about Fair Use.
Choose a Theme
WordPress Themes determine how your site looks to visitors and how content is laid out. Not all themes are created equal and some may be a better fit for your needs than others. WordPress comes with 3 themes installed by default, currently Twentynineteen, Twentyeighteen, and Twentyseventeen. Additionally, the WordPress Theme Repository includes thousands of free themes you can choose from and search through right within your WordPress site.
In addition to free themes, there are numerous premium (paid) themes you can choose from. If you’re just getting started, it may be best to experiment with a free theme before spending any money on a premium theme. However, it is important to keep an open mind and consider which theme is going to be the best overall fit for your needs. You may find that a premium theme gets you the layout you want with less work and is easier to update, just make sure it’s features and support are worthwhile before spending money on a license.
Get a Domain
All websites need a domain. A domain (such as titanhost.io) is used by humans to easily find a website. Your domain must be unique and should relate in some way to the content of your website. The exact name you should use is subjective and ultimately depends on the content and tone of your blog. For best results pick something relevant that makes sense for the topic of your blog.
Domains are purchased from a registrar, which handles the paperwork associated with registering your domain, lets you search existing domains, and helps renew your domain when the registration expires. At TitanHost, we recommend using Google Domains since they have reasonable prices ($12 / year for .com, .org, and .net domains), have free private registration, and don’t have a ton of ads that bug you as you navigate their website.
When registering any domain, you’ll need to provide contact information to associate with the domain. By default, this information is publically accessible. Sometimes, this can be ok. But if you’re making a personal blog, you may not want your personal address visible to anyone on the internet. This is where private registration can help.
Private registration is an available option at most registrars (either free or for an extra fee) that allows you to register a domain but shield your personal contact information from the internet. The registrar will add their own contact information instead of yours, so the requirements for registration are still met while allowing you to maintain your privacy.
Get WordPress Hosting
Once you have a domain, you’ll need a hosting account to house your website. Your domain will be set to “point” to your hosting account, so when someone enters your domain, your website loads in their browser. WordPress hosting comes in many different flavors and price points and the scope of the service can vary greatly.
Here at TitanHost, we provide Managed WordPress Hosting to simplify the experience of hosting a WordPress site. We handle the technical aspects of WordPress hosting, such as managing servers, updating WordPress core and plugins, running backups, and helping customers when they have issues with their WordPress site. So if you’re starting a blog, this allows you to focus more on your content and less on the maintenance of your website, while providing you peace of mind.