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Honestly, there is an overwhelming amount of information available online about how to start a blog. Instead of trying to condense it all down, I am going to walk you through how I’m building a better blog at Taking Control and Finding Balance so you can hopefully find help with your blog.
It’s important to know what has gone into the behind the scenes aspect of building a blog, especially if it might help you understand the information you find online.
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7 Steps to Building a Better Blog From Scratch Overview
- Blogging Platform – WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.
- Avatar – Your ideal reader
- Niche – Specialized category that attracts your reader
- Blog Title – Reflects avatar and niche
- Content – What your avatar wants to read
- Domain – Where your site is located
- Host – Who handles hosting your domain and blog – I personally recommend
Siteground (affiliate link).
The first step everyone will tell you is to pick a domain and a host, but I would argue the first step is should be deciding what platform you want to use. I decided to use WordPress, but I know that there are other options out there these days. The ones I’m most familiar with are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. I don’t know how reliable these other options are out there so it’s worth doing your research. Making sure to pick one that you can see staying with for a chunk of time (if only because I’ve read horror stories about transferring content and sites from platform to platform).
I chose WordPress because it is simple and flexible and because it self-installs smoothly on my host. It’s not perfect by any stretch; certainly, the options that come with it can be just as overwhelming (themes, plug-ins, settings), but the simplicity of the system is what keeps me invested.
Nearly everyone who writes instruction manuals or produces beautiful courses about how to create a blog puts figuring out your avatar pretty high on the list of things to do early in the process of starting a blog. My ideal reader (avatar)’s detailed profile exists thanks to a variety of excellent resources, but in essence, it is a person that I could see being friends with in real life. Due to that, the content reflects things I would share with my friends.
The next aspect is choosing a niche so you can figure out your blog structure and start building a better blog from scratch. Taking Control and Finding Balance is not a great example of selecting a narrow niche, but I put it squarely in the lifestyle blog category because it does cover a bunch of lifestyle topics (with a dash of personal finance). I could not find a way to narrow down the niche, but I’m okay with that. I originally had envisioned this blog going in a different niche, but I’m a different person than I was when I picked my domain and host (and went no further).
I did not do it in this order, but I prioritized figuring out a blog structure ahead of choosing a host or a domain. A sense of the blog content via the blog structure goes a long way toward figuring out a domain name. If you choose a name that doesn’t fit what your blog structure reveals, you could wind up having to shell out money to buy a new domain and to move your blog to a different one (which, trust me, is a huge pain).
When I first picked the domain, takingthecontrolandfindingbalance.com, I had a different vision of my blog (more personal finance, less lifestyle), but as I work through Elite Blog Academy, I found that my blog structure of the topics, Health, Finances, Organization, Know Thyself, and Building a Better Blog, fit under the domain name pretty well. I was lucky, but if I had known then what I know now, I would have done it differently. For one thing, the domain would have been shorter.
Once you’ve figured out your blog structure and niche, you should choose a title that reflects your anticipated content and that appeals to your avatar. In my case, Taking Control and Finding Balance perfectly reflected what I want my blog to do (detail my journey to figure out my priorities) and appeal to my avatar to help others.
One of the most useful aspects of saving the domain and host until later means you can finalize more than you expected. In this case, write five blog posts and make sure that they would be useful for your avatar, fits your niche and blog title, and can be categorized under your blog structure. That way you can shift if you need to and make a final determination about your blog title, domain name, and your host.
Choosing a domain is both easy and difficult. I was tremendously lucky that the .com of my title remained available (even if it’s a little long and TCFB is a bit of a mouthful, abbreviation-wise). Hopefully, your title is not something that has already been snapped up, but you can check by putting your blog title into Google and entering your domain into any number of domain checkers online (most hosts offer this service). Try to have a few folks take a look at your URL as well to make sure it isn’t accidentally inappropriate and that it makes sense. While .com is preferable, .net isn’t that bad either. Also, make sure the .com isn’t a rival with similar content because it will make it harder to make an impact in search engines.
Hosts are a dime a dozen, but you want to make sure that your host has a pretty good reputation. In the past, I’ve tried Dreamhost, Hostgator, and Bluehost, all of which have good and bad qualities. Taking Control and Finding Balance started on Bluehost, but I moved it last summer to Siteground (affiliate link) based on the recommendation of a technological wizard, Grayson Bell. It was a great recommendation and I highly recommend his free beginning WordPress course.
Both hosts provided domains, storage space, back-ups, and WordPress support. Ultimately, I suspect your starter host won’t make that much of a difference until you grow, but the best thing I can tell you is to do your research before committing to a host!
How to Build a Better Blog From Scratch in 7 Steps
In terms of building a better blog from the start, I highly recommend that you research which blogging platform you want to use. Next, you should sit down and do a detailed personality breakdown of who your avatar (ideal reader) is so you can best identify the problems that you can help her solve. Once you’ve identified these problems, think about what kind of niche they fit into so you can plan your content. Before you write, you do need to choose a blog title that appeals to your avatar and fits your niche. Writing 5-10 pieces of content for your avatar is the next step so you have content when you launch. The last steps are to find a domain and choose a host. Now you have started your better blog from scratch.
What steps would you suggest for a beginning blogger? Please share in the comments below.