Starting a blog is a great way to share your knowledge with the world. Even with the internet moving towards more video based information, there is still a lot of space for blogs.
If you are a music fan, then you can grow an audience by blogging about your favourite bands and the music you love. You effectively become your own online magazine within that genre. This can get you free tickets to shows and even VIP / Press access to festivals.
If you have an audience, people with a financial interest in your audience will become your best friend faster than you can blink. For a music blog, this means musicians will want access to your audience – the more press a musician has the better, and if you want to get involved in the music you love, a blog is a great way to do it.
How to start a blog
Your blog needs the following things:
- Server space. A server is a computer that runs your website.
- A content management system (CMS). This is the code that runs your blog. I use WordPress – it’s the best CMS out there.
- A theme. This makes your website look pretty, the visual aspect of your new blog. I use Genesis Themes by Studiopress.
- A mailing list. This is a service that collects and stores email addresses for you, so that you can email your subscribers with new blog posts. I use ConvertKit, but MailChimp is probably a better option for starting out.
I’ll run through each of these different points with an explanation:
Server Space and CMS
Good server space is the most fundamental part of your blog. You want a company that is reliable and also has good customer support – when there is a problem, you want it fixed!!
In addition to reliability and customer support, you want the awkward tech jobs to be as easy as possible, after all, you want to run a blog, not learn to be a computer programmer.
Fortunately, Bluehost take all that and roll it into one. Not only do they provide server space for you, but, they have a “one click” install of WordPress (the CMS I recommend) built in to their service.
This means that, once you sign up with Bluehost, you get your server space, you log into your account with them, and you can then click a button to have your CMS installed and bam – your blog is up and running!
In fact, Bluehost even provide some nice themes for you, so that you can get yourself up and running straight out of the park.
You can get started from $3.95 a month, which gives you:
- 50GB storage space for your blog (this is a LOT)
- Your own domain name, e.g. www.myawesomeblog.com
- You own custom email, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want more, they have options for more stuff!
These screen shots walk you through the process you can expect with Bluehost:
So there you have – that’s the basics to getting your blog setup!
Adding a more professional theme
Now that your blog is up and running, you may want to change the appearance.
After setting your blog up with Bluehost, you will have chosen a theme – and that is fine for getting started!
However, professional themes help your blog look better, which means people read longer and want to keep coming back.
I tried free themes on WordPress for years. They were all ok. But after I discovered Genesis Themes by Studiopress… well judge for yourself. That is what this blog is running on and it looks pretty great!
(Note that my blog has a few extra plugins to make it do extra things, but the appearance is all down to Genesis)
The themes Studiopress make run on what they call the ‘Genesis’ framework. In order to make their themes work, you need the Genesis Framework and the theme is installed on top of the frame work – they explain how to do this when you get the theme.
After buying a theme, you will be given great tutorials, written specifically for that theme, so that you can get theme running and looking how you want, as quickly as possible.
The Genesis Framework has some awesome features for bloggers, that you can read about here.
I think they are well worth it and make your blog look great, but as I said, it’s optional.
If you use a Studiopress theme, they also come with some useful plugins that will help with the final part of getting your blog running:
Setting up your mailing list
When you are creating interesting articles for people on your blog, you should give them the option of staying in contact with you.
Mailing lists are hosted by third party providers. The two best ones are MailChimp and ConvertKit.
If you are new to this, I recommend using MailChimp. The interface is a bit ropey, but, it’s simple and easy to run. MailChimp makes it easy to inform your subscribers about new blog posts. MailChimp is also free for getting started – something like the first 500 subscribers are free, which is awesome.
If you want a more advanced solution, or just a nicer interface, ConvertKit is the right option. ConvertKit has some pretty advanced features in terms of automation and the interface is simply beautiful. ConvertKit is more expensive than MailChimp and if you just getting started, the features are probably not necessary.
You can always switch to ConvertKit later if you want to.
Personally, I use ConvertKit.
When you are running a Genesis theme, you can install a neat plugin called “Genesis eNews Extended 2“, which is free – sometimes it is bundled with Genesis themes, but you can always download it for free if you want to. This is the opt-in box in the top right corner of my blog, and at the end of each blog post, that lets people put their email address in.
eNews Extended will work with MailChimp, ConvertKit and nearly every other list provider there is.
This plugin is the link between your website and your email list provider.
There you have it – everything you need to get started writing your own blog!