How to Start A Blog (in 3 steps)

Starting a blog really only involves three steps.

Okay, so there's a little more to it than that...but you really can get "up and posting" in 3 easy steps:

1. Choose Your Blog Software.

First things first. You have to choose what blog software you want to use.

There are actually quite a few different options, but three of the most common software options are Blogger, WordPress.com, and TypePad. The first two are free; the third is available for a nominal fee. There are pros and cons to each one (and I'm certainly not the expert on the topic), but here’s my humble take on how they compare to each other.

blogger logoBlogger is a fantastic choice for newbies and anyone who wants to “try” blogging because set-up takes 5-10 minutes and it’s very easy to use. {Not convinced? Check out this YouTube video that demonstrates how you can start a blog and publish your first post in under 2 minutes!)

wordspress logoWordPress.com is a tad bit more complicated than Blogger, but it offers more freedom to edit and expand the design/theme/look/etc.

typepad logoTypePad isn’t free, but many business professionals prefer it because it’s easy to use and offers more customization options.

I originally started my blog in Blogger but I became frustrated by its "limitations" as my blog grew. I currently use WordPress.org (self-hosted).

If you're just getting started and don't want to be overwhelmed - just ignore the "hosted versus self-hosted" jibber-jabber for now.

2. Decide on your Blog “Theme.”

The best thing about deciding on a blog theme is that the options are endless (wait…maybe that’s the worst thing). You can blog about fashion or fitness, health or happiness, politics or parenting.

Although you certainly have the “right” to start up a “themeless” or “general” blog where you talk about everything from traveling with your toddler to your presidential candidate of choice to the latest runway fashions, I don’t recommend it. Blogs that flitter from one topic to the next on a daily basis typically don’t draw a consistent readership. Yes, you might be interested in dog training AND interior design AND cooking ethnic foods, but the chances that other readers will be interested in all of those things too is somewhat slim.

The hardest part about starting a blog is deciding what “interest” to pursue. I know you’re probably thinking, “I’m a varied and complex person with so many roles and passions. How will I ever narrow down a theme?”

Ask yourself…

  1. What topic(s) do you talk about ALL of the time?
  2. What topic(s) do people come to you for advice about?
  3. What topic(s) could you research and write about all day long and not get bored?

Now, that you have your list – pick one. Really! You can always change your mind later, close up one blog, and start another one. This is not a contract that you’re binding yourself to. It’s perfectly okay if it’s a little bit “experimental.”

I actually started two blogs simultaneously when I first started blogging. Eventually, one of my blogs petered out and I went full speed ahead with Metropolitan Mama because motherhood is a dynamic topic that I never tire of.

It goes without saying that “motherhood” is a rather broad term and you might want to narrow down your focus even further…mothers of teens, green parenting, adoption, etc. But you can certainly choose to just blog about motherhood and leave it at that. Your focus, voice, and personality will eventually come out and be obvious to the world. Don't be too concerned about picking the wrong "theme." Just get started.

3. Select a Blog Title.

Once you have your theme, you will need to come up with a title. You will need a title before you create your blog because your title will be your blog’s URL and your blog’s “identity.”

Here’s my Tried-and-True Title Generator activity.

  • Take a blank sheet of paper (on screen or the “real” stuff).
  • Write down all of the words associated with your site, your theme, and you.
  • Next, cross out or delete the words you don’t like.
  • If you like the meaning of a word, but don’t particularly like that word, look it up in a thesaurus and write down alternatives.
  • Narrow down your list.

Your title should be catchy, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce.

Shorter titles are better than longer titles because people will be able to recall them easier. Picture yourself meeting someone and say, “I have a blog called XYZ” and see if it sticks. For example, if you say, “I have a blog called ‘A Texas Mom’s Musings About Her 3 Kids and Dog’” – it is pretty unlikely that someone will remember that long enough to google it later. If, however, you say, “I have a blog called Western Woman,” you just upped your chance exponentially that people will remember you.

Here are some other things you should do before finalizing your name choice:

  1. Google the name. If another blog or large website appears, you’ll probably want to reconsider because it’s likely that name may already be trademarked and you don’t want to get into any legal trouble down the road. Plus, who wants to be a “copycat” anyway? Even if you did think of the name first…
  2. Consider if the first word of your blog title begins with an A or a Z or something in between. This isn’t hugely important, but many blog/website directories list blogs alphabetically (and blogs appears alphabetically in feedreaders) so I think you have a slight advantage if your first word begins with a letter in the first half of the alphabet.
  3. Is your blog title 1-4 words? Did I already mention that shorter is better? It really is! I know your title is clever, but you should save the lengthier phrases for your tagline. Think about all of the top brands – Nike, Apple, Starbucks, Ann Taylor, Claim Jumper, In-N-Out. They’re easy to say, easy to pronounce, and exceptionally easy to remember. That’s what you want for your site.
  4. Will the title "grow" with you? If you title your blog "Newlywed Nancy," that title will eventually be irrelevant because you won't always be a newlywed (unless, of course, you plan to write about newlywed stuff indefinitely...). If you title your blog "My Daughter Chloe," then what will happen when baby #2 comes along? Your title needs to have a "timeless" nature about it if you want it to succeed.

Congratulations! The toughest part of starting a blog is behind you. Now all you have to do is hop on your preferred blog software’s website and follow the directions. Presto! You’re on your way.

Looking for more great posts on this topic? Read:

YOUR TURN: Are you thinking about starting a blog? Why or why not? If you already have a blog, what blog software/platform do you currently use?

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12 comments on “How to Start A Blog (in 3 steps)”

  1. Thank you so much for your helpful tips. I'm new to the blogging world...can't wait to get started! I'm thinking about a blog about husbands....you know, sort of a humorous guide to wife behavior to help husbands understand our ways. I'll be back! P.S. You are the first blog I have officially subscribed to! :)

  2. Great post about blogging! Getting started is the part that is the most fun. There is a lot of excitement and people are really enthusiastic about starting their new venture.

  3. Thanks a ton for this Stephanie, as I am a current blogger it's still nice to read and see where I might need to improve, or pat myself on the back for picking a good name :)

    I am sending a new person to your blog to hopefully get her into it! :) One at a time... soon... the whole world will be run by us bloggers!

  4. I'm on blogger right now... but I have my domain and hopefully will be moving to "self-hosted" and WordPress soon... well, at least as soon as my "paying" jobs slow down enough to let me get it done!

  5. You're dead on the money with all of the advice. Gosh, you're so brilliant my friend!

    Nell

  6. I give you all credit for having a blog ~ I find it hard just to keep up reading the blogs that I enjoy! As a full time working mommy I enjoy reading what other mommies share with me but I could only dream of having my own. Although, if I were to start one this article would be a great big help!

  7. I am self-hosted on WordPress. I really wish this info was available at that time when I started because I struggled through it all....I am now self-hosted on WordPress....I like the freedom it allows but I do pay for it....

  8. I use blogger which works well for my purposes, but I can see why people eventually get frustrated with it.
    Too bad I didn't run into some of this advice when I was getting started. I'm actually happy with the themelessness of my blog (yes I just made that word up), but for the most part I agree on picking a theme especially if you're looking to create a successful blog. The name part, though, oh. my. I so just slapped a name up there. I seriously thought only family would read it...turns out that's not quite true. Go figure! I do wish I had put more thought into that one. Now if I ever remarry and have more kiddos, I'll have to rename the blog.

  9. What impeccable timing you have! I just made the leap about a month ago, when my son turned 3, and decided to start a blog. For now it's private and really just for me. I opted to use Blogger, but now you've got me wondering if I should have chose WordPress. Can't wait to read throughout the weekend to see what great advice you have to offer.

  10. I use WordPress (self hosted). Actually if you want to ever use the blog to promote anything (products/services) it is my understanding that you cannot do that with WordPress.com per their TOS.

    I have an old Blogger blog but I think WordPress is much easier as far as techy stuff. I'm the worst at that type of thing and WP has been so much better. You can do so much more with WP and I have heard to many horror stories of people losing their non hosted Blogger blogs. Not something I was willing to risk since my blog is part of my business.

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