Lesson 1: Getting started

In this lesson, we’ll pave the way for your new blog by answering some key questions and considerations.

Hello and welcome to the course How to Build a Blog. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey towards launching your Blog. 

Here’s an outline of what we’ll cover in this course:

  • Lesson 1: Getting started (this lesson)
  • Lesson 2: Intro to how the web works 
  • Lesson 3: Choosing your hosting and buying a domain
  • Lesson 4: Installing WordPress and picking a theme
  • Lesson 5: Customizing WordPress for your blog
  • Lesson 6: Introduction to plugins and third-party services
  • Lesson 7: Introduction to SEO
  • Lesson 8: Website maintenance
  • Lesson 9: Monetizing your blog
  • Lesson 10: Resources

By the end of this course, you’ll have your very own platform to share your thoughts online. The best part is that you’ll own your content. Unlike social media platforms that may change the rules tomorrow or go out of business, having your own website means you’re in control. By choosing to build your website using the WordPress Content Management System, you’re also opening yourself up to adding any features you like in the future. In Lesson 2, I’ll explain why that’s possible and in Lesson 6, how to pick the right features to add.  

Now, before we move on to the next lesson, I have some homework for you. I want you to take a few minutes to answer these questions about your future blog:

Why do I want to start a blog?

Writing out your mission statement is a great way to set a clear and solid foundation for building a blog. Are you hoping to inspire others and find community? Are you hoping to launch a blog to draw attention to your professional services? Are you hoping to create a space where you can send your YouTube fans, for example? Write out your mission so you’re clear on what purpose this blog serves. 

Another way of looking at this question is: What does success look like to me? 

Are you hoping to monetize your blog and eventually turn it into a full-time gig? Are you hoping to book more consultations or sell more products with a blog? Or are you hoping to simply build a space where you can journal daily and share it with your extended family? 

Picturing what success looks like can help you make decisions along the way as you’re building your blog. 

Do I want to be the face of my blog or do I want to have a blog identity? 

The second question to ask yourself is: Do I want to be the face of my blog or do I want to have a blog identity? 

For example, my website andreazoellner.com is my own personal space. It’s my thoughts, it’s my professional activities and it’s unmistakably my own. My other blog, The Capsule Suitcase, is another website where I have a blog identity. Yes, it’s still from my point of view, but the blog is less about me and more about the topic: travel and packing for trips.

If you go looking, you’ll find examples of this all around the internet, including on YouTube. Some people vlog under their own name, and some people have channels with channel names that aren’t their personal name, channels about cars, fashion, and other topics. You don’t have to make a decision right now, but it will help if you do by the time we get to Lesson 5 on customizing your WordPress theme. 

How much money do I want to spend on my blog a year?

The last question you should think about is: How much money do I want to spend on my blog a year? 

You’ve already invested your time in this course, so kudos for taking the step to start your blog right. And maybe you’ve already purchased a domain name and hosting and just need to build your blog. There are ways to blog for free on the internet, but none of them will give you the same freedom and flexibility as purchasing your own hosting. Plus, there’s usually a tradeoff to using free platforms. It may be that the platform gets to display ads on your site, or that you don’t get to pick your own domain. Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions before opting for a free platform. 

Now, does this mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars every year on your site? Nope! You can get hosting that meets the needs of your blog for a few dollars a month. And, you can choose themes and plugins that are totally free. 

Whether or not you want to invest in getting a custom logo made, or want to choose a paid, third-party plugin (more on that in Lesson 6) is totally up to you! And for those who want to start lean, there are plenty of ways to do that too. 

In summary, your homework before moving to Lesson 2 is to answer these questions:

  • Why do I want a blog? 
  • What name do I want to give my blog?
  • How much do I want to spend on my blog?