How to Start a Blog (and score a free domain!)

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Do you have something that you are passionate about? Do you love writing and sharing your ideas? Do you have a keen eye for photography? If you’ve answered any of the above questions with a yes, then it might just be time to start a blog.

Personally, I had been thinking about starting a blog for years. But I kept dismissing the idea. What did I have to say that was unique? Who was going to interested in reading it? Was it just going to be a big waste of time?

These are questions (and fears) that a lot of new bloggers face. And yet, everyone I know who has recognized them for what they are (needless, pointless roadblocks to happiness) and pursued their blog dreams has been so happy that they did.

I’m no exception. The hours that I work on my blog are so enjoyable. In fact – I often have to set a timer or an alarm to make sure that I do some of the other stuff I’m supposed to get done! I love being able to write about things I’m passionate about and then interact with people who share those very same interests. It’s creatively and intelligently fulfilling every single day.

Plus I get to take some cool trips!

If you’re like me and wondering whether or not blogging is for you, all I have to say is – try it! I bet you’ll surprise yourself with what you are able to do. To help you get started, here is a quick guide of the things you need to do. I’ll even show you how to get your domain for free! But more on that later…

First things first!

Decide On Your Niche

A niche refers to the subject matter you will be writing about. Here on Putting A Pin In It, my niche is travel and cultural experiences. Other popular niches include Health & Fitness, Finances, Food and Lifestyle – but there are literally thousands of niches (and combination of niches) to chose from. Just remember – if it’s something that you are interested in, chances are, there are others interested in it to.

Pro tip: Blogging is all about creating material. While you want to have a unique niche – or, really, a unique perspective on your niche (which – trust me – you do!), you don’t want to narrow it down so far that you can only write a few posts before running out of things to say. To make sure that your blog will stay active, it’s important that you have lots of posts on your subject. To see if you have enough to say, try sitting down and brainstorming 15-20 blog post ideas. If you can do that, then this is a good niche for you!

Decide On Your Domain

Once you’ve decided on your niche, you want to pick your domain. Your domain is the actual address of your blog (such as puttingapininit.com). It can be anything from your name to a clever title (I personally think this blog falls under the second).

It’s always a good idea to have several different ideas for a domain, just in case the one you want is already taken (sad, but it happens). Once you have some lead contenders, you can use this free domain finder to see if they are available.

Pro tip: Make sure that your domain ends with .com. When people are searching for something, they have been trained to put .com at the end. If the .com you are looking for is already taken, it is better to find a new name rather than have a lesser ending (such as .info or .net). Otherwise, you might accidently send your readers to a different site!

Register Your Domain

Once you’ve picked your domain, it’s time to make it yours! You will need two things: 1) to buy the domain and 2) to find a service who will host your domain (i.e. make it live on the internet). I personally recommend using Bluehost. Not only are their hosting prices super reasonable (they start at only $3.95 a month) but they will even give you your domain for free! (See – I told you I would let you know how to get a free domain).

Here’s how you do it. Go to Bluehost. You’ll see their lovely welcome screen.

Bluehost welcome screen

Pick your plan. If you’re just starting out, it’s totally fine to pick the basic plan – it really has everything you need at the beginning.

Bluehost Select Plan

It will ask you if you want to pick a new domain (which – remember – is free!) or if you want to transfer a domain (i.e. if you already have one set up). Put in the domain that you have already chosen.

Bluehost Pick a Domain

It will have you put in all your account information. I highly suggest choosing to add-on domain privacy. This means that when people look at your site, they will only see the Bluehost address instead of your home address (much safer!).

Bluehost account

Then you will add your payment information.

Bluehost Payment Info

And then you will be ready to rock and roll!

The other nice thing about Bluehost is that WordPress (the best website builder out there) is super easy to install. With one click you can have that up and running.

Design Your Site

Once you have your domain registered, the fun begins! WordPress will walk you through the whole set up process. There are even a bunch of free design templates, so you don’t need to any html or coding to have a beautiful site.

WP Dashboard

Get Writing!

Once your blog is up and running, it’s time to get writing! Take those 15-20 post ideas you brainstormed at the beginning and start writing them one at a time. Trust me, the feeling that you get when you push “publish” for the first time is incredible. It doesn’t take long to make your dream start to happen!

For kicks and giggles, here’s the first one that I wrote here on Putting A Pin In It. Oh the memories.

Take Your Blog To The Next Level

If you are super serious about creating a powerhouse blog, I couldn’t recommend the courses offered by Heather and Pete Reese at “Its A Lovely Life” more. There are a couple of options:

  1. If you just want to check it out (no commitments!), then do their free 5-day email crash course. It will give you the basics to get up and running.
  2. If you’re ready to dive into the deep end, consider taking their 30-Day Blogging Blastoff Course.  This in-depth, online class covers everything from how to make money from your blog to the business side of blogging to creating a social media presence. Note: this course is only open for enrollment one week a month. If it says it is closed, sign up for the email crash course, and you’ll be notified when it opens.
  3. And – if your interest is in creating a Travel Blog (like this one!) they have a special 21-Day Travel Blogging Fast Track Course. You’ll learn all the ins and outs about how to make your specific travel blog dreams come true.

Your journey to your very own blog starts right now! Drop me a line or leave a comment below with your ideas!

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