It’s 2020 and all the cool kids you know are creating blogs, blogging, and making pretty good cash doing it. Why not get into the game and have a piece of that sweet-sweet blog payday too, right?
Thing is, if you’re on this page and reading this piece, you probably don’t know how to create a blog.
Well, you’re in luck my friend, cause we’re kind enough to take time off our busy schedules to write this guide, so you can get your very own blog up and running in no time!
Believe it or not, creating a blog is neither difficult nor do you need much technical knowledge. For the parts that do require technical know-how, we’ll guide you through them to help you feel more safe and secure.
What is a blog?
How about we talk about what a blog exactly is?
A blog is actually just another website which focuses on written content, usually presented in a less formal way of writing.
When blogging first became a thing, people mainly used it as an online journal, penning their thoughts down for the world to read.
Today the blogosphere has evolved, spawning many subcategories such as fitness bloggers, photobloggers, mummy bloggers… if you can think it, most likely there’s a blogger for it.
Why people are starting blogs
People have many motivations to start their own blogs.
Some want to practise their writing skills. Some find it cathartic when they express themselves online. Some are just plain passionate about their chosen niche.
I can’t speak for all of them, but one motivator that draws most people to the beautiful world of blogging is the ability to make money from their blogs.
Because bloggers write about their personal experiences, they share a very personal connection with their readers, a connection that high profile brands are willing to pay just so that the blogger endorses their product (provided of course, that the blogger has a decent following).
Regardless of what motivations you have to start your blog, the bottom line is that blogging is one amazing hobby, and if done right, you can literally make a very good living off it (once you do, remember to belanja me teh tarik ok?)
It seems like many people have the misconception that you need to be a good writer to start a blog. While having good writing skills can help present your blog in a more professional manner, it’s the content of your blog that sells. You can always improve your blogposts later. If you want to improve your writing, check out this content writing guide.
How To Create a Blog – 5 Steps To Start Blogging
Step 1: Pick A Niche
This exciting first step to starting a blog will shape the way you blog for the rest of your blogging career, so it’s a simple but very important step: You have to decide on your niche.
Are you going to be a photo blogger? Do you prefer to blog about your travels? Maybe you’re into tech. Maybe food is your jam.
No matter what your passions or interests are, your chosen niche will help forge a path for your blogging topics in the future. It’s not a hard and fast rule (some bloggers out there consistently cross topics with great success) but it’s a guide which helps keep your blog from being too “rojak”.
So pick your niche. Pick out a name. Keep it simple and short.
Step 2: Choose A Blogging Platform
There are plenty of free blogging platforms for you to pick from out there, such as Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress to name a few.
Our choice platform would be WordPress, because it’s one of the most powerful blogging platforms out there, powering 33.9% of websites on the internet today.
It’s also SEO friendly, very easy to use and has plenty of plugins, which brings extra functionality to the table without the need for much technical knowledge.
You can also get your web hosting and domain name directly from WordPress.com completely free, but as my dear Nenek used to say, “good things don’t come cheap, cheap things don’t come good”.
Step 3: Getting A Domain Name And Web Hosting
To expand on what I said in the previous point, WordPress.com is absolutely phenomenal, but their free web hosting and domain name does come with plenty of limitations.
- You don’t have a “yourname.com”
While this may not seem like a big deal, it separates the amateurs from the pros. If you’re serious about your blog and want to see it grow, you’ll want to get your very own domain name.
- Web hosting limitations
The free WordPress.com comes with very little web hosting space (a piddly 3GB). Once you fill up this space, you’ll have to pay to upgrade and continue using your blog.
- No plugins allowed
The free version doesn’t allow plugins, which is sad and breaks my fragile little heart.
- Ads everywhere
It’s bad enough that you can’t monetize your free wordpress.com website, but they’ll place ads everywhere! Remember, “good things don’t come cheap, cheap things don’t come good”. Ad placement is a way for WordPress to generate revenue.
- Your blog might get deleted
These are just a few of the problems we can think of. You can always purchase your domain name and web hosting separately, so you don’t run into any of these issues. Here’s a step by step guide on how to get it done.
There are plenty of domain registrars out there like GoDaddy and Namecheap, but we like Namecheap because they’re an excellent registrar and they’ll throw in free WhoisGuard. This helps keep your identity secret, in case you want to blog anonymously.
The process is pretty simple, just head on over there, sign up, pick your domain name and you’re done!
Remember, you’ll want to pick a domain name that’s simple and easy to remember. Keep it catchy if you can. No funky extensions like “.io” or “.biz” either, keep it to “.com” because it’s what most people are used to.
You might think that web hosting is just space for you to store your website files and any random web host will be fine, but you couldn’t be more mistaken. In fact, if you want your blog to be successful, you better damn well make sure that you’re getting a web hosting service that’s reliable and fast.
Have you come across a blog that loads so freaking slow that you just couldn’t be bothered to wait for the content to pop up? If you time yourself, you’ll see that 3 seconds is all it takes for you to feel that the blog is sluggish, and 5 seconds is the average amount of time it takes for people to bounce.
Your web hosting is crucial in making sure that your blog performs quick and snappy, so you won’t lose readers due to unnecessarily slow loading times.
While there are plenty of Malaysian based web hosting services around (click here for the best web hosting services in Malaysia) but we recommend going for a dependable international web hosting brand with datacenters in Singapore, like SiteGround, to host your blog.
Sure there may be cheaper options available but SiteGround’s uptime, dependable customer service, list of benefits and insanely fast server response times are absolutely brilliant. In fact, we trust them so much that we host this website with them!
Getting an account and setting up your blog with SiteGround is actually quite simple. Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to www.siteground.com to pick your hosting plan.
- Hit “Get Started” to see what’s available
- We recommend getting the GrowBig plan (RM24.65 / month) as it’s a nice balance between price and benefits, but depending on what your needs might be, you can either go for StartUp (RM16.36 / month) or GoGeek (RM49.50 / month). Don’t dwell too much here, just pick a plan and go with it. You’re free to upgrade or downgrade your account later on if you need to.
- You should now see a page where you’ve given the option to register a domain or to use your own. You should have your own domain name by now if you’ve followed the instructions on this guide, so click on “I already have a Domain” and fill it up in the provided box. Click “Proceed”.
- Here, you’ll want to fill in your personal details such as your email address (make sure it’s valid! It’s where they’ll send your receipt to), assign a password, first name, last name, country, phone number, postcode, etc. If you want, you can fill in the name of your business, but that’s optional.
- Scroll a little further to find a space to fill in your payment details. Key in your Credit Card details, card expiration, Cardholder name and CVV code (If you don’t know what it is, it’s the 3 digits at the back of your card).
- Next, you’ll see the purchase information section. You have to option to pick between 12 months and 36 months. Select your desired plan and payment period.
You don’t need the SG Site Scanner, so feel free to skip it. However, if you feel that you need additional security, then go ahead and check that box.
Hit “Pay Now”.
- Voila! You now have a new account with SiteGround! They should also have sent a receipt to the email address you listed down earlier. Hit “Proceed to Customer Area”.
This section is a continuation of the previous section, but we’re breaking it up into different parts for easy digestibility.
If you get stuck during ANY one of these steps, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or contact SiteGround’s live chat support. They’re super helpful and will guide you through everything you need help with.
- You should now see a section titled “set up your new hosting account”. Select “Start a new website” and then click on “WordPress” under “choose which software to install”.
You’ll now need to fill in your WordPress login details. Your WordPress login will be separate from your SiteGround account so make sure you remember your details. Go ahead and fill in your email, username, password and then repeat your password to make sure its correct.
- SiteGround should prompt you to enhance your account with SG Site Scanner, but like previously mentioned, it’s completely optional. Once you’ve made your choice, hit Confirm and Complete Setup.
- After a brief loading time, you should see a screen saying that your Hosting account is ready to use. Go ahead and click on “proceed to customer area”.
- Believe it or not, you’ve just officially created your very own blog! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Now that you’ve gotten your WordPress blog up and running, you should be proud of yourself. It’s nice and clean. Very zen. Also very generic. In the words of my younger friends, your site is currently “Vanilla AF”, so let’s do something about that, shall we?
Step 4: Designing Your Blog
In this section, we’ll be taking a look at what we can look to give your blog a little more personality.
We can manually design and customize the blog it to appeal to your targeted readers, but that takes a whole lotta time and seriously, in this day and age…
Fortunately, WordPress has thousands of free themes that are fully customizable, which also looks highly professional!
Here’s how you access your WordPress themes
- Log in to your WordPress account. It should be “www.yoursite.com/wp-admin”. You’ll want to switch out “yoursite” to your actual blog url. Key in your WordPress username and password, then log in.
- Once you’re in, you should see your WordPress dashboard, which looks like this. Click on “change your theme completely”.
- Next, click on WordPress.org themes and you’ll find thousands of themes to pick from! If those aren’t good enough for you, head on over to https://www.elegantthemes.com/ to purchase some really good looking themes.
We interrupt this guide to bring you a very important message: Themes are awesome but they can be tricky. Site load speed is crucial to getting your blog ranked on Google, and picking unoptimized or unresponsive themes will adversely affect your loading speed.
Make sure to check out the comments for any negative reviews and test the theme’s responsiveness in the preview section. If the theme is already unresponsive in their own preview, it’s most likely gonna be sluggish on your blog.
We’ve actually listed down a few of our favourite themes here, so check it out if you prefer a “best of” list.
- Once your theme is selected, click on “Live Preview”, followed by “Activate & Publish” to install your theme.
(Live preview your theme)
(Activate & publish the theme)
Your theme is now installed, but you’ll still want to personalize and add a little content, or your new blog will look a little empty.
Adding pages to your blog
Your little blog baby is gonna be really bare if you don’t at least include an “about us” page in there to inform your readers what to expect from you.
- Under your WordPress Dashboard, you’ll want to head on over to “Pages” and click on “Add New”
- You’ll be sent to a page where you can fill in a Header and a Paragraph. Go ahead and write “About Us” in the header and write a little something about your blog in the “Paragraph”. Once you’re done, hit “Publish”.
Linking your pages to the menu
Your “about us” page won’t show up unless you create a link for it in the menu.
All you need to do is simply head on over to your WordPress dashboard, under appearance, click “menu”. Your list of pages should automatically be added to the menu structure. If not, just check the boxes under “add menu items” and hit “add to menu”.
Once you’re done, hit “create menu” and your blog will be updated with your pages linked in the menu.
Adding blog posts
Ah, the bread and butter of your little website, the very reason why you’re so invested in this. Your blog posts will help keep you relevant, keep your site ranked in Google searches and to position yourself as an authority in your niche. If you’re doing it right, you’ll even make a living out of it!
But before you go randomly adding blogposts to your site, let’s set it up so it makes sorting it all out much easier in the future.
- In your WordPress dashboard, hit “posts” and select “categories”. You should see the screen below. Fill in your category name. For this instance, you can just call it “blog”. Click on “add new category” at the bottom.
- Next, under “posts”, click on “add new”. You should see a page where you can fill in your post title and content. Go ahead and do that if you want to. After you’re done, look for the “categories” bar on the right side of the screen and check the box marked “blog”.
Hit “Publish” and your new blog post is good to go! All you need to do now is add the category to your menus, and you’re all set.
Creating customized titles & taglines
If you want people to discover your blog and read your content, then you’ll definitely want to pay attention to this portion of the guide.
Your site title tell people what your blog is all about, and taglines help support what the titles say. They also help search engines sort and send your blog to the relevant searchers.
To customize your titles and taglines, just hope on over to your WordPress dashboard, go to “Settings” then “General”.
Here, you can change your site title and tagline to whatever you want it to be. Go ahead and do that, then hit “Save Changes”.
Sometimes, when you share personal thoughts on your blog, you don’t want to have the comments section open to attacks by mindless trolls and have them leave rubbish comments.
You can actually disable comments completely so that you don’t give those trolls a chance to do troll things.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to “settings” and “discussion”. Here, untick “allow people to post comments on new articles”.
Create a static homepage
Yes you want to run a blog, but you don’t actually want your homepage to look like one!
What you’ll need is a static front page, a sort of “home” page for visitors to land on and take in everything they see. Like most professional blogs, a static front page doesn’t change and it’ll show your readers the same thing every time they visit your site, making it look more polished.
If this isn’t done, WordPress will use your latest blogposts as your homepage, which quite frankly looks plain amateur.
You can create a static front page by doing this:
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard, hit “Settings” and “Reading”.
- Click on “A Static Page” then select the page you want as your homepage, then “Save Changes”.
Adding or removing content on your sidebar
Some people want content on their sidebar. Some people prefer to go for a cleaner look and do away with it. Either way, it’s all up to you.
Adding or removing content from your sidebar is quite easy.
- Head over to your WordPress dashboard, go to “appearances” and click on “widgets”.
- Here you’ll see a list of available widgets and your Blog sidebar. All you need to do is to drag and drop the widgets you want in your sidebar, or simply delete the widgets you don’t want there.
Step 5: Using Plugins
Back then, when we wanted to optimize our blogs, add features or create new functions, we had to do it manually (which is both time consuming and a pain in the butt).
These days, you can do all that and more with just a few clicks, thanks to plugins!
You can basically add anything you want to your site. Turn it into an online store or a gallery portfolio. If you can think it, there’s probably a plugin for it!
What you’ll need to do to install plugins is under your WordPress dashboard, hit “Plugins” and “add new”. From there, just check out the popular or recommendations tab for plugins that suit your needs, and you’re done!
There is an endless list of plugins for you to pick from but keep in mind that some plugins might slow down your blog. Do a little research on plugins and your blog will run like a dream.
Here are some of our favourites plugins:
You’re A Blogger Now!
Congrats random person in the blogosphere, you’ve successfully built your own blog! We helped, but you did all the heavy lifting by yourself, so you should really give yourself a pat on the back!
Before you go, here’s a quick refresher on the things you need to do to build your blog.
- Register a domain and pick a web hosting service
- Picking the right web hosting company
- Selecting your domain name
- Creating your blog
- Installing WordPress as your platform
- Designing your blog
- Selecting the right theme
- Installing your theme
- Adding Content
- Adding posts, menus, and editing your pages
- Customizing and tweaking
- Installing plugins
Keep on customizing!
Keep in mind the WordPress is highly customizable. You can really create any kind of blog you want with WordPress, so keep on experimenting and customizing until you’re 100% happy with what you’ve got! As always, drop us a message for any question you have.