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When I started my blog, I was a complete newbie who knew nothing about the web, hosting, WordPress or coding (insert joke here about me still not knowing very much about any of those things).
One of the reasons I started this blog was because I knew nothing about it, but was curious about how to do it.
I was shocked at how straightforward it was to start a blog with my very own domain.
After I launched, several friends expressed an interest in starting their own sites, so I created a little cheat sheet for them. I’ve expanded it here for anyone who wants to start their own running blog.
Want a site to showcase running successes? Show off your running costumes? You can have a site up and running before you go to bed tonight.
Planning and Brainstorming
Name Your Baby
One thing you need to do before you start your site is to name your little venture.
Websites like Namecheckr will check name availability for website URLs, all the major social networks, as well as many sites and networks I’ve never heard of.
If your perfect name is not available, try a few variations on the name until you find one that is available for all of the channels you want to use.
What Are You Going To Do With Your Site?
Think about this, but don’t overthink it.
I started my blog years after I first thought about doing it because I was trying to come up with the perfect topics and the perfect angle. There is much to be said for just starting somewhere and figuring out the details as you go.
That said, it is a good idea to have some idea of what you are going to do.
Let’s Do This!!
Who Will Host?
You will need a hosting company to host your site. Just like you hire a local hotel to host your Christmas party when you don’t have the facilities, knowledge, or capacity to do your own, your website hosting company hosts your website and provides administrative and technical support.
There are many companies that do this: SiteGround, HostGator, Blue Host, Go Daddy.
Based on my experience with them, I would highly recommend SiteGround. I cannot vouch for any of the others, but there is no shortage of reviews and commentary to be found on-line if you do a little research.
Pick Your Plan
If you are new to hosting and will only have a single site, the smallest plan will likely be sufficient. If you love it and later want to grow your empire with more sites, you can upgrade at any time.
With many services, including SiteGround, you can purchase a domain and hosting as a single package.
Just like that, you have a website.
Now let’s make it an easy to use blog.
Most blogs run on WordPress.
WordPress is super user-friendly and does not require that you know any coding or other scary technical stuff. WordPress is easily installed on your brand new website, just click on the button that says ‘WordPress Installer.’ In SiteGround, this button is found on the ‘cPanel’ page.
Voila! You are the proud owner of a blog!
Make It Yours
All WordPress installations come with a default template.
The template is what dictates how you site looks; what fonts are used, what the color scheme is, how many columns are used. These templates are easily changeable from the ‘Appearance’ panel of WordPress.
There are thousands of templates available for free from WordPress, millions available online, or you can hire someone to create a site especially for you. Beware of random websites sites offering free WordPress templates, they can be a source of malware. Always check your sources.
I recommend starting with a one of the templates that WordPress offers on their site. They have thousands to choose from and have been verified and tested (at least as much as anything on the web can be).
Try a few of these templates, see what features you like, what stuff you use, and what your audience responds to.
After some real life testing you will have a better sense of what you need and if a professionally designed site is necessary.
Plugins add additional functionality and security to your site. Think of plugins like jewelry: you don’t need anything, and too much can be bad, but a few well placed items can make your site shine.
A few plugins I like:
- Akismet Standard with WordPress, helps minimize spam
- JetPack. Another default WordPress plug-in, is an umbrella that includes many smaller, but powerful features.
- Yoast SEO. If you want your site to be found on Google, you need to use search engine optimization (SEO). This is an entire profession unto itself, but Yoast can help us newbies get pretty good SEO results.
- WordFence Security. You will get unauthorized attempts to log onto your system. It’s scary, but it happens to every site eventually. The overwhelming majority of these are automated bots, Wordfence helps monitor and prevent these attempts from doing any damage.
That is it.
You have a site, you’ve made it yours. All that is left to do is hit ‘Add New Post’ and become a blogger.
How easy was that?
If you want to learn more from people who actually have real knowledge on this stuff, I would highly recommend Lynda.com. I have taken many of their WordPress classes and have found them invaluable.