Creating a blog: step by step guide
For most people, a blog represents the chance to share thoughts, ideas, and interests with the rest of the (online) world. What started with the idea of a weblog – an online logbook, like an internet diary – has now become one of the most successful and widespread forms of publishing. Bloggers are often more than just private writers. They are advertisers, influencers, and experts on specific topics. In our series on blogging, we’ll be accompanying newcomers on their way to starting their own blog.
If you want to create a fashion blog, food blog, or a travel blog, you’ve come to the right place. In our blogger series, we accompany beginners as they create their own blogs. Here, you will find the answers to questions such as: What is needed to create a blog? Where can I create a good free blog? Why should you create a blog at all? How can I create my own blog? In this step-by-step guide/tutorial, you will learn how to create your first blog and later hopefully make money with it.
Part 1: how to create a blog. We will introduce the concept of blogging and offer a step-by-step guide to starting a blog.
Free blog providers
There are many free options for those searching for a suitable blog platform. The most popular providers are WordPress, Blogger.com, and tumblr.com. For newcomers to blogging, these platforms offer attractive solutions for starting a blog free of charge. They are also relatively simple to work with. Users can blog without technical knowledge of topics like servers, hosting, or web design. The provider also takes care of updates, backups, and spam protection. These blogging services are based on the software-as-a-service principle, in which the blog provider takes care of the technical administration and the user can concentrate on blogging.
The principle behind this is that a user can create a blog in just a few clicks without a financial outlay and get right down to it – but there are certain restrictions as well. These begin with the URL. Free blog platforms utilize this as advertising space, ensuring that every URL contains their name (e.g. blogname.wordpress.com). Another drawback is the limited choice plugins, and modifications (e.g., customizable themes) available.
The pros and cons of free blog providers:
|✔ Free||✘ Unpersonalized URL|
|✔ Simple and fast setup||✘ Limited webspace|
|✔ No technical know-how required||✘ Fewer designs and themes|
|✘ Restricted customization|
|✘ Typically only for non-commercial use|
Free blog providers may be the perfect solution for those wanting to start a small, private blog, but they are not suitable for a professional blogging environment. Most of these providers ban commercial blogging from the start. Blogs also have to accept on-page advert displays that finance the providers.
An overview of free blog providers
Below is a brief overview of different providers that allow you to create a free blog. The three best-known blog providers are listed but you have to decide for yourself if one of them would be suitable for your aims. Each provider has its advantages and disadvantages.
WordPress is both free blog software, as well as a blog provider that enables you to create and host blogs for free. With a simple registration, you can start blogging. There are many different themes and design possibilities. The most important standard extensions (known as ‘plugins’), such as statistic plugins, SEO plugins (plugin for search engine optimization) or security plugins, are already pre-installed. However, if you want to install your own themes or plugins, you have to host the blog yourself. WordPress is usually free in the basic version. If you want to have more features, such as your own domain, more memory, and most importantly, no advertising, there are three fee-based tariffs to choose from.
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Blogger.com is a blog service that was purchased by the search engine operator, Google, in 2003. As with WordPress, you can start to create your own blog via Blogger after a quick registration and just a few clicks. Compared to WordPress, Blogger is completely free from advertising but the range of functions is much more limited. Although there’s the option of choosing between different design templates when it comes to the blog and also modifying or creating them yourself, there are fewer standard templates available for beginners.
If you want to make money with your blog, then Blogger.com is the right place. Contrary to WordPress, Blogger.com not only enables commercial blogs to be created, it actively promotes them. Google is not just a search engine operator, it’s also an advertising marketer and provides context-sensitive advertising via Google AdSense. You may be familiar with this, for example, from Google’s search engine, where the first search results are displayed through Google’s own marketing network. In order to earn money as a blog operator, you have to register with Google AdSense so you can then add advertising to your blog with just a few clicks. Google AdSense will then automatically display ads relating to the content. If for example, your blog is about animals, the advertisements might show animal food. As a blog operator, you make money every time a visitor clicks on this ad.
If you compare Tumblr with the first two featured blog services, you will notice that this is a relatively new blog provider. This is especially evident in the way the platform is used, which is very different from WordPress and Blogger. Even the name is curious as it seems to suggest confusion and disarray, coming from the verb ‘to tumble’. Via Tumblr, it’s possible to create a blog and write your own posts, as well as making it easy to share posts from other people’s blogs. This so-called ‘reblogging’ is an important aspect of the platform and one of the main reasons why Tumblr has a large and active community. In order for this ‘reblogging’ to be legally safe, every post is automatically made available for free usage. This prevents any possible infringement of the copyright law. Tumblr promotes the culture of sharing, which was the basic idea of the internet. Other legal aspects regarding blog creation and running blogs can be found later in this article.
How to start a blog independently
Readers wanting to start a blog from scratch, for professional purposes, and without restrictions should consider starting a self-hosted blog. Aside from the obvious choice of a personal domain name, independent bloggers also have control over all design aspects of the blog. Every option can be customized and personalized but this comes at a price (albeit a fairly manageable one). The cost of hosting a website (domain included) is now quite affordable and starts at just a few dollars a month. The real cost comes with the technical implementation and maintenance of creating a blog. There is an alternative, middle-ground option here: managed blog hosting. In this scenario, the blogger concentrates entirely on the blog content, while the host provider takes care of the technical side.
Pros and cons of hosting a blog independently:
|✔ No restrictions on functionality and design||✘ Big technical outlay|
|✔ Domain of choice||✘ Responsibility for security and backups|
|✔ No host-advertising||✘ Hosting costs|
|✔ Commercial use|
As mentioned above, free blogging services are the best option when creating a small, private blog but aren’t suitable for professional blogging. When it comes to commercial blogs, most of the providers can be ruled out from the start. On top of that, you often have to accept advertising on your blog, which is how the provider finances their site.