How to set up a blog
21 June 2016
Lynn has more than 25 years' experience as a magazine editor, journalist and book author. She writes for consumer magazines and websites, covering a diverse range of topics including technology, computing, personal finance, food and nutrition.
With a computer, internet connection and a little time you can set up and start publishing an online blog for free. Our guide will get you started…
The internet has allowed anyone to easily create and publish online publications. Originally called ‘weblogs’ and quickly shortened to ‘blogs’, these online magazines can be big, professionally created publications or small, online diaries and personal observations that you share with the world.
There are no rules with blogs, and the range of free blog websites make it easy to set up your own blog and start publishing words, photos, videos and audio about the things that interest you.
The great news is anyone can create a blog. Some of the more successful blogs attract online audiences in their millions and earn a living for their owners. Blogs give writers, journalists or anyone with something to say an online platform to share a passion, a view or simply share information with others.
What is a blog?
At its heart, a blog is a personal webpage that can be used for anything you want. You can use a blog as a personal diary to document your life or share photographs and news of events such as holidays and weddings.
Or you can choose a topic or a hobby that you’re passionate about – anything from deep sea fishing and bird watching to hair styling tips or home cooking. A blog lets you share your knowledge and ideas with the rest of the world, with visitors to your blog commenting on what you’ve written.
Blogs often use an informal, chatty style of writing as if you were sharing a story with a friend.
Can I make money with a blog?
Blogging is a great way to earn money online from advertising. The more people who visit your blog, the more money you can make. This can range from a generating a little pocket money to earning a generous living, and you can easily add advertising to most blogs.
Blogs can also include payment and shopping basket features, allowing you to create an online store easily and sell directly to the public. Many small businesses also create blogs to advertise their services, and allow customers to order online.
Free versus paid-for blog hosting?
One of the first decision you’ll need to make when setting up a blog is whether you opt for free or paid-for hosting. This refers to the internet hosting company who stores and makes your blog available on the web for others to see it.
Why choose a free hosting blog?
This is the quickest way to start your blog and lots of companies offer free blog hosting. You don’t need any technical knowledge to create or run your blog. Simply pick one of the blog templates on offer, make a few tweaks to the design, and you’re away.
However, there are lots of disadvantages to free hosting, from limits on the size of the blog and design restrictions, to lack of support and limited money-making opportunities. Ads will appear on your blog too, which you’ve no control over. Worse, your blog’s domain name isn’t your own – it’s a subdomain of the hosting company, which can look a little unprofessional. And, if you decide to move your blog to paid-for hosting at a later date, the process can be fraught with technical difficulties.
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Why choose paid-for blog hosting?
This offers far more control over how your blog looks and works, making it easy to incorporate advertising and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter so you can fully engage with visitors. You may, however, need some technical knowledge to get the best from your blog.
If you’re curious about blogging and just want to give it a try, then free hosting is a good first option. There are dozens of free blogging sites including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and WiX that you can try.
However, if you’re committed to blogging or want to build a successful blog and make money from it, then paid hosting is the best route. It’s not expensive either – you can find affordable web hosting from as little as £2 per month.
How to set up a free WordPress blog
WordPress is one of the more popular blogging platforms. It’s easy to set up, and you can add professional features such as forums, email newsletters and even shopping services so you can sell products from your blog.
Setting up a free WordPress blog should take only 15 minutes or so. After that, your blog will be available online and you can start blogging straightaway.
Step 1: Go to the WordPress website and click Start a Blog. On the next page click Get Started.
Step 2: Select a category that best describes your blog such as Family Home and Lifestyle or Arts and Entertainment and then a subcategory. Then follow the online instructions to choose a design – known as a theme – for your blog. You can always change this later.
Step 3: Type in a name for your blog. Choose a name that’s unique, catchy and descriptive so people know what it’s about. You can also use your own name – although this best suits personal diary style blogs. WordPress will immediately tell you whether your choice is available and if not, will suggest alternatives.
Step 4: When asked to pick a payment plan, choose Free. You’ll get your own WordPress.com address, such as yourblogname.wordpress.com, a choice of hundreds of free themes, 3GB of storage space and the option to make basic changes to your blog’s design such as adding pages, custom backgrounds and integrating with your social media accounts.
Step 5: Enter your email address and a password, then click Create my account.
Step 6: Check your email account for an email from WordPress contain a link to complete your registration. Click the link to activate your WordPress account.
Step 7: Login to your new blog account with your username and password. In the upper black menu bar, click Dashboard, and then choose a theme for your blog under Appearance > Themes. Now you can start creating and publishing posts to your new blog. To view your blog online, type the domain name in your web browser’s addresses bar.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.