How to Start a Blog With SiteGround | The Guru Guide
How to Start a blog with siteground | The Guru Guide
What You Should Know Before You Start a Blog With SiteGround
This article details how to start a blog with SiteGround, but also goes into detail the essential factors you need to keep in mind before you launch your site and build a brand. It’s both technical, and also packed with useful tips and advice on navigating this road.
A blog can turn into one of the most rewarding and profitable creative endeavors. But, it’s a creative process with important steps along the way.
When it comes to starting a blog, or a travel blog in many cases, it’s often a hasty or emotional decision.
You’re about to set off on a new adventure. You might have a camera and a year of travels ahead of you, so this feels like the perfect time to start a travel blog. And it definitely is.
There is no better time to start than the now. But, how you start is equally as important and that’s why I’m writing this in-depth article around one of the most important factors – the hosting, and how to start your blog with SiteGround.
So, upon inspiration, next you might Google “travel blogs” or “lifestyle blogs,” and you find a few top bloggers out there that seem to dominate the front-page of Google. Welcome, my friend, to the world of SEO.
At this point, you might feel a wave of discouragement and wonder how to even start. But, every successful blogger started here too.
Before you start a blog, it’s important to first identify what you want exactly. Do you want something in the realm of an online photo-diary, or do you want to turn this thing into a venture, something that can grow and sustain itself over time? An outlet for endless creativity and growth….
Starting Your Blog Right & How to Start Creating
This is an important question to ask because starting a blog is easy, but growing it and creating a great website is not. There’s a myth that you can just pick a domain name, buy a template, start writing, and then suddenly, you’re receiving all kinds of press trips and free travel. In theory, yes, that’s how it’s done.
But, blogging requires hard work and perpetual learning. But, with persistence, anything is possible.
If you decide that you want little more than an online photo-diary, sites like Squarespace, Wix, and Blogger are great for basic websites. They are super easy to use, take care of the hosting, and are created for two types of users: people with absolutely no tech skills, and people with absolutely no tech skills that can’t or don’t want to learn WordPress.
With that said, WordPress powers 35% of the websites today on the internet, including most major sites today, such as CNN and the NYT. The key word is powers. WordPress is the most powerful platform, which is why it’s a smart move to launch your website on a platform that can scale and handle growth.
What you gain with ease of use with drag-and-drop sites, you lose in customization and flexibility options. And if you start off with WordPress, you’ll already be ahead of the curve and have acquired mad skills by the time your site starts to take off. WordPress is infinitely customizable, which is why I highly recommend building your site with a platform that’s designed to handle the most creative sophistication.
I Had Zero Background in Tech
When I started this website, I had a vague vision but a knowing that I wanted it to grow into something. Most of the time, that’s all you have to go by, a spark of something. Then it takes time to evolve into a more refined vision. This I guess, is the essence of the creative process.
But, I knew that the other platforms wouldn’t suffice. So, I got my hands dirty. It wasn’t easy for me because I had zero tech skills and no background with working in CMS or HTML or CSS or any background in programming. I did have some background in digital photography, but that was it.
I didn’t even know what a plugin was at the time I started. Learning to navigate WordPress for the first time without any tech skills was not exactly easy – but nothing worthwhile done right is ever easy.
And today, I’m actually working a job in the tech industry, at MIT of all places, because of the skills I taught myself with this website. I have eight years of college education, but I’m making a living with skills I learned entirely online – that I acquired 100% from starting this website, from starting a travel blog.
Only today, do we live in an era where you can teach yourself hard skills without a college degree. Google even revised its hiring practices and doesn’t even require a four year degree for hiring consideration anymore…but that’s a totally different topic. Let’s just say, we’re lucky to be in a world today where there’s so much possibility to learn and create online as self-taught.
Learning how to code is actually pretty fun, but even if you’re not a tech nerd, you don’t need coding skills to start a blog – but, it’s helpful going forward. Knowledge is power.
I’ll do my best to break it down so that you can take the right steps and be on your way towards your own creative venture in no time!
8 essential Steps to start a blog with Siteground and wordpress
You want to think of these steps as almost like the structure of a house. They are essential to creating a solid framework for your home, but the inside of the house has an infinite amount of design possibility.
- Pick a Good Domain Name
- Pick a Good Host
- Install WordPress
- Pick a Theme
- Learn Basic Coding
- Learn SEO
- Learn Photography
- Have Fun But Never Stop Learning
Creating a blog or starting a website is not much different than embarking on a travel adventure. Both require embracing the unknown, a sense of adventure, and a willingness to go into an unfamiliar direction. You have a basic map, these general steps below, and it’s up to you to explore the possibilities.
1. Pick a Good Domain Name & Register via siteground
The first website I ever started, I spent weeks trying to come up with a clever name. I couldn’t, and it was pretty bad. Someone told me to pick a name that was easy to remember but was also different, so I did. It was the perfect start for my first website, and that’s generally how the creative process works – it’s a process.
I only came up with name The Passport Lifestyle three years later when the words literally popped into my head when I wasn’t even thinking about starting another blog!! I loved the name and so I began my real blogging adventure.
So, don’t think too hard. We often have those “ah-ha!” moments when our minds are relaxed. This is when things come to you.
But, also, try to choose a site name that you can grow with. So, if you’re in your twenties now and you choose something like, “twenty-something” in your blog name, what happens when you turn 30 and still want to grow your platform?
Also, try to be mindful of not choosing certain words that have been elevated to cliche status in the travel blogging world. World of Wanderlust is one of the most popular travel blogs on the internet, but it’s safe to say she’s pretty much cornered the market with the word ‘wanderlust.’
You’re trying to build a brand (even a small blog is a brand!), and a brand requires that you stand out as something unique. You can’t be uniquely branded with a blog title that’s already branded or overdone. So stay away from the cliches, no matter how tempting it is!!
Also, keep the name relatively short and easy to remember. Start thinking about a brand now and what you want it to convey.
When it comes time to purchasing a domain name, I recommend purchasing your domain name at the same place you pay for hosting, and I recommend using SiteGround.
2. Sign Up For Hosting And start a blog with siteground
Because I recommend using WordPress.org (not WordPress.com), this requires self-hosting. If you don’t know what this is, no worries. Basically, your website data needs to be hosted on a server. You pick a host and then connect it to your WordPress account and boom, you’re site can go live.
The best thing about starting a blog with SiteGround is that they pride themselves on customer service, which is essential when you’re starting a site, or even have an existing site. They will be there to help offer extra help and support for any unexpected issues.
When I started this site, I used Hostgator because it’s one of the largest companies, and someone recommended that I go with them. I had NO clue how to pick a hosting company back then.
Years ago, maybe this was OK, but today, I DO NOT recommend using Hostgator.
My site was compromised, which was a disaster, and it was a terrible feeling not being able to feel like I can have someone I can easily to reach out readily for help. I desperately needed a company that I knew would offer excellent customer service and security. With Hostgator, I honestly felt like just a number, and when I started having issues with my site, that was extremely stressful.
Migrating my site to SiteGround was probably the best decision I made for this website. For one, the interface panel on SiteGround is very intuitive and easy to understand. But, more importantly, migrating was easy, and I always received a prompt response to my questions which are all stored on an accessible message board.
I wasn’t familiar with SiteGround until a developer told me that they were the best in terms of security, and he recommended them over any other company. SiteGround is also reliable for site speed, which is an important factor for Google’s ranking and SEO.
I’ve used SiteGround for a year now, and I’m happy to say that moving to them was indeed a wise decision. That’s why I can so readily recommend them in this blog article without hesitation. If you’re looking for a SiteGround vs. Bluehost vs. Hostgator breakdown, I’m not going to go into that. I’ve used both Bluehost and Hostgator, and I’m not switching back.
If you sign up from my website, I will get a commission for referring you. But, if you look around my website, I don’t use this site to promote affiliate sales, and the few products I do recommend are necessary and exceptional.
Did I mention 24/7 technical support? Free daily backups of your site AND FREE SSL certificates?
The Packages Are Also Priced Competitively
SiteGround offers a simple selection of hosting packages and it’s easy to get started. Just select your plan and select, get started. If you already have a prior WordPress site, they will also migrate it for you like magic.
If you’re looking for SiteGround WordPress hosting packages, you just need to pick either the SiteGround StartUp or GrowBig option starting out and then you can integrate WordPress seamlessly afterwards.
They’re also officially recommended by WordPress.org.
3. How to Install WordPress With Siteground
I wasn’t so lucky when I started this site, as things were a bit more difficult. I had a domain name listed with Namecheap and my site hosted on Hostgator with absolutely no intuitive interface. But, if you go with SiteGround, I can promise you a vastly different experience that can take you only minutes to get installed. Follow these steps to install WordPress with SiteGround.
- Go to SiteGround’s Homepage, here
- Select the package right for you, StartUp, GrowBig, or GoGeek, then hit GET STARTED.
- Then Choose a Domain (see the image below)
- Review and Complete your account registration.
- Then select any extra services. You’ll want Domain Privacy because if not, anyone can view your private information, home address, and phone number associated with this account.
5. Once your SiteGround account is created, you can easily install WordPress through your SiteGround account via 2 Options. The Softaculouous app, or SiteGround’s Wizard.
Softaculuous is found inside your cPanel. Select the WordPress autoinstaller and follow these instructions from SiteGround’s website. See the image below to locate the WordPress autoinstaller.
Or you can install via SiteGround’s Wizard, which is even easier method. Read their short Wizard Tutorial.
6. Essentially, you will install WordPress via SiteGround’s interface and in the process, you’re going to create your WordPress admin Username and Password. So, you will have 2 different sets of passwords: one for SiteGround, the other for WordPress.
After creating my SiteGround account, I rarely have any reason to login into SiteGround. WordPress, however, you will want to bookmark this site because that’s where you go to access your blog.
Your WordPress Admin Login
Go to www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin
The next step to starting a blog with SiteGround is to login with your WordPress admin. You can access WordPress via typing “/wp-admin” at the end of your domain name as seen in the example at the top. Then enter the username and password that you created through SiteGround.
4. Install a WordPress Theme & Configure WordPress
Now, this is the fun part. Now that you are logged into WordPress, you will see the Dashboard. You need to do two things now: install the theme and install a few important plugins.
WordPress comes with a lot of free themes, but in my opinion, you’ll want to shop around for a paid theme. Start by looking for themes at StudioPress and ThemeForest.
Yes, there are free themes, but you can get a paid theme for as little as $20 and it’s worth the extra expense since you’re going the route of self-hosting your site.
When you install your theme, you will have a parent theme and a child theme. The parent is essentially the framework, and the child theme is installed on top of it and it’s the theme you edit.
Also, the Genesis framework is a widely used framework and serves as a good parent theme. You can find theme bundles with the Genesis theme that come with both the Genesis framework and the child theme as well.
To be honest, this part of configuring WordPress is not something you can get around doing without tinkering around with it own your own. Or, you can pay someone to install it for you.
Companies like StudioPress usually always offer some form of installation service if this part of configuring WordPress intimidates you. But, as with anything, it takes some patience and tinkering.
To install your theme, go to Appearance –> Themes and install and Activate (see the image above).
Essential Plugins For WordPress
Once logged into your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins and start installing. It’s important to realize that installing plugins on your site can slow it down. So, limit the number of plugins to as few as possible, only the ones you need.
Here are a few essential WordPress plugins to download to start.
- Akismet – An anti-spam plugin that’s essential
- Yoast SEO – Yoast offers free and paid SEO services, but it’s the most widely used SEO plugin on WordPress for both its reputation and ease of use
- Hummingbird – I prefer to use Hummingbird for my site cache. It’s easy to use and the interface is nice.
- Smush Pro – This is another plugin with the same company as Hummingbird. It will smush your photos, or compress them. It’s very useful for if you have older photos on your site that you want to compress without a loss in quality.
- Sucuri -A useful plugin for security monitoring
- Updraft Plus – Even though an excellent thing about Siteground is that they offer backups of your site on their server, I still use this plugin to back up the files myself. It’s free and easy to use.
- A Cookie Consent Plugin – to allow users to accept or decline cookies
5. Learn Basic Coding
Technically, this is not essential to starting a blog, but, when you start a blog with Siteground or whichever host you go with, it’s probably a good idea to spend a few weeks going over basic HTML and CSS to get familiar with code. Moving forward, the more empowered you are with tech skills, the more confident you’ll be at creating content.
You don’t need to spend money to learn how to code. There are a ton of free resources online such as Codecademy, edX, W3Schools, and more. Check out this article on 71 of The Best Places to Learn to Code For Free.
Also, I really like Mozilla’s MDN where you can learn web development for all levels. It’s a great resource. Lynda.com or now LinkedInLearning is free for some who qualify, but their tutorials are outstanding. And, of course, you always have YouTube. It’s no wonder why most of the employed web developers and programmers today are self taught.
6. Learn SEO & Keyword Research
Learning SEO and keyword research isn’t quite so hard, but the most important thing you need is a reliable keyword research tool. There are some ways to get some free rankings online, but these I’ve found require a bit more time than I have.
The website KWFinder is the best keyword research tool I’ve found and I currently have a subscription for it. The data is easily broken down and visually presented in a way that’s not overwhelming to digest.
Essentially, you want to research keywords for topics that pertain to your content and KWFinder will indicate with a color and a number how easy or difficult it would be to rank (see the photo above.) This is an extremely helpful and necessary tool when creating content online.
They also offer some valuable resources online as well for SEO. Because this article is technically about creating a blog with Siteground, that’s all I’ll say for SEO, but it’s all that really needs to be said when you start.
7. Refine Your Photography & Design Skills
I started this website out of my love for both photography and travel, and photography was the cornerstone of this blog.
Websites are a form of visual communication and quality images and design are the signifiers of reliable online content. Photography is one of those mediums that’s deceivingly simple. But, refining your photography skills will go a long way towards communicating a higher quality website and brand.
It’s amazing how many times I see blurry, grainy, or distorted images online and it’s these subtle but significant refinements in a photograph that add up to a more polished looking site.
It’s the same analogy as taking care of the details of one’s wardrobe such as polishing your shoes, brushing off the hairs on a jacket, or pressing your shirt. Wrinkles here and there, loose fibers, and specks of dirt are each small in their own respect, but as a whole they diminish the overall composition.
That’s why small things like cleaning sidewalks or windows goes a long way towards enhancing the appearance of a home or a city. The same can be said for the role of photography and image curation on a website’s overall presentation and brand.
You have to think of your website as a whole, a composition, that needs to be curated. This requires some design education and learning how to see like an artist, to pick up on things most people generally don’t see, but notice when polished up.
Later this year, I’m coming out with a course online to teach bloggers and business owners with amateur photography skills, what I learned in a more formal photography education.
It will go into those more subtle elements that differentiate an amateur photograph or image from one that communicates a more refined sense of vision. In the end, your website is your brand and your media is a reflection of your brand. Learning to stand out online goes a long way in both communicating your quality, but also attracting attention online.
8. Never Stop Learning
The one thing all bloggers and entrepreneurs have in common is their drive to never stop learning. But with anything in tech, things change so fast and even though it’s hard to keep up, it’s important to try to keep learning.
I hope this article has been useful and that if you decide to start at blog with SiteGround and WordPress, it will help guide your path. .
In the meantime, look out for my photography course for content creators in 2020, and don’t be afraid to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!