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How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog in 20 Minutes

blogging Oct 13, 2018

I dove into blogging four years ago, and I absolutely love it. Blogging is how I share my passion with the world. It has helped me reach an audience that I would have NEVER been able to reach. And it enables me to share a message with thousands of people … and more every day.

Many people have asked me along the way how they can get started blogging. Perhaps you would like to start blogging as well but you’re not sure how to get started. The good news is it’s easy to start a blog and you can get it up and rolling quickly – in 20 minutes or less.

In this article I will walk you through a simple, step-by-step process to start your blog. I will guide you through determining a topic, picking a domain name, choosing a platform to host your blog, and writing your first posts. But first…

3 REASONS TO START A BLOG

Before we dive into how to get started blogging, I want to point out a few reasons why starting a blog can be such a rewarding journey.

Blogging can help you make a bigger impact and have more influence.

My influence in my field has grown exponentially since I started blogging. This is truly not because I’m anything special. Rather, it’s because blogging has given me the platform to present my thoughts in a way that is compelling to readers in my niche.

There’s no better way to increase your position as an authority on a given topic than to write about it. By starting your own blog, you’re creating a platform from which to share your ideas, insights and expertise with the world. A blog makes your thoughts permanent, official and accessible.

Your blog is your home base where you make the rules, determine the content and share what you think is most important with your audience. If you’re thinking, “My audience? I don’t have an audience.” Blogging is one of the best ways to gather an audience without even trying. If you publish and share quality content on a subject that you are passionate about, you will form a following. And it happens quicker than you think.

Blogging can help you solidify your thoughts, experiences and expertise.

Nothing helps me understand something better than when I have to explain it to someone else. There is something about teaching an idea that forces me to fully grasp it myself. I’m sure you’ve experienced this too.

In the same way, blogging solidifies your thoughts, experiences, and expertise in your area of passion. You learn so much from formulating thoughts and writing them down for others to read.

When I started this blog I had a few ideas about preaching and how preachers could become better communicators. As I began writing every week I realized that my own ideas about preaching became more precise and thorough. Taking my thoughts and making them helpful to others in written form made them more helpful to me.

 

Your experiences, thoughts, struggles, challenges and successes are worth sharing. Articulating your journey is not only helpful to your readers but to you as well.

Blogging can be a great source of side income.

Passive income and side-hustles are all the rage right now. Everyone wants to know how to create sources of income for themselves that can generate money every month for years to come. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it’s not as easy as some would have you believe. Making money on the side takes lots of upfront work. You have to put in the time to reap the reward.

The thing I love about blogging is it can be both a hobby that you enjoy and a source of side income that can help you support your family and meet your income goals. Once your blog gets rolling you can monetize it with ads and affiliate partnerships. I take advantage of these opportunities as they fit naturally into my content.

Some bloggers choose to keep things small and only make a little extra income. Others choose to scale their efforts and make enough to quit their job and make this their full time gig. Either option is possible and is up to you.

5 STEPS TO START A SELF-HOSTED BLOG

Now that you have solidified the reasons why you want to start a blog, let’s dig into how to do it. There are a few steps to get started and it can seem like a lot at first. But I will simplify it for you and share with you what you need to know to get started. The longest step in the process is deciding on a topic. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to set up your site in ten minutes or less.

Step 1: Decide on a topic. 

My first attempt at blogging didn’t work. The reason it didn’t work was because the topic was too broad. I did not have a clear focus so every time I sat down to write I was unclear about who my audience was, what they needed and how I could best serve them. I was also unclear about what my unique contribution was, what I wanted to say and why I wanted to say it. As a result, I fizzled.

But four years ago when I created Preaching Donkey it was completely different. Instead of being unspecific and vague, it is very specific. Instead of not knowing who my audience is, I am crystal clear who my audience is: When I sit down to make a new blog post, I am writing to pastors who preach and who want to communicate better. Not only do I know my audience, I know what I want to say and why I want to say it.

What made the difference between my unsuccessful attempt at blogging and my successful one was narrowing my topic. It seems counterintuitive, but by niching down to a more focused topic, it actually broadens your reach. People who are interested in your topic know that your blog is there to provide them with helpful content.

You should decide what your blog will be about and who you will be writing for. Be as specific as you can because you can always broaden it later.

Step 2: Choose a domain name.

Now that you have a topic it’s time to decide what your blog will be called and choose a domain name. The domain name simply refers to the website address. My site is called “Preaching Donkey” and the domain name is PreachingDonkey.com. I had a few goals when selecting my domain and you may want to use them for guidance:

  1. Simple – no more than two words or three words. Shorter domain names are more valuable. The shorter you can make your domain the better.
  2. Unique – it needs to stand out. Preaching Donkey is a weird name, but it is a memorable name. I wanted a name that stood out from the crowd a bit and caused people to say, “What’s that?”
  3. .com preferred – If I could get it, I wanted it to be a .com. This is not a deal breaker because there are a lot of dot options, but it was important to be because it still carries with it a perception of being professional.

Click here to see if the domain name you want is available (in the options menu at the top, click on domains). If it is you can register it right now. Or you can wait until the next step and register it when you sign up with a host for your site.

You may find that especially if you are looking for domains ending in .com a lot of them are taken. But, you can get creative with them and make your desired domain work.

For example, let’s say you are wanting to start a blog that will give tips for parents raising teenagers. If ParentingTips.(com) is taken, maybe you could exchange the word tips for planet, world, lounge, hub, club, insider, or hacks. You may find one of those is available and you could build a more memorable brand around it.

Step 3: Select a Platform

At this point you have a topic nailed down and a domain name picked out. It’s time to select a platform from which to run your blog. I use and recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site. This is the industry standard for blogging, and it gives you the most control over the content, layout and design. There is so much you can do to customize your site with tools called “plug-ins” that are available WordPress users.

How do you get set up with a WordPress site? It’s so easy with Blue Host. They get you linked up with WordPress fast and easy. In the next step I’ll show you how to host your site with Blue Host.

Step 4: Sign Up with a Host

Every website has to be hosted. Think of a “host” as where your site lives. Some sites are hosted by the platform as in the case of Blogger which was the host and platform I used for my first blog. This option is incredibly limited. There are very few ways to customize your site’s features, layout, and design. You are stuck and there is not much room for growth or creativity.

When I started PreachingDonkey I decided to go self-hosted WordPress using Blue Host and I am SO glad I did.

I use Blue Host which is inexpensive ($3.95/month right now). It’s incredibly simple to set up and works seamlessly with WordPress. The customer service is outstanding and they provide tutorials to help you get started. Blue Host is unlimited so you don’t have to worry about running out of space.

I highly recommend Blue Host. I believe in their product so much that I became an affiliate for them and recommend them to all my readers. If you set up using Blue Host and have questions or need help just let me know.

Here’s the process of signing up:

1. Click here when you’re ready to get started.

2. Select your plan (this is SO cheap for what they provide).

3. Register your domain name (if you haven’t already).

Once you’re signed up you’ll see your Blue Host dashboard. There you can click the “Install WordPress” button which will put WordPress on your site and you’ll be ready to go. You can install a theme and begin customizing your site.

Step 5: Write Your First Post

This is the fun part. Write your first post and start sharing it. Once you have your first post written you’ll want to write another and another. The more you write the better you’ll get at it and the more things you’ll have to say.

What other questions do you have about blogging? To my fellow bloggers, what else would you add? 

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