You’ve decided that you’re going to start a military spouse blog, you’ve decided on a name, now it’s time to start building. Here are the four things you’ll need to get started:
Your choice of blogging platform is one of the first important decisions you’ll make for your military spouse blog. I’m going to use a car analogy where your blog is the car. The platform is the program that displays your blog. In other words, your platform is the engine of the car. There are three major options: WordPress (hosted or self-hosted), Blogger, and Typepad.
WordPress is the industry standard and even some big companies use wordpress for their websites. It’s free to download and then you simply install it onto your server (instructions are here or via your hosting service). An Important Note: WordPress.org is the industry standard. WordPress.com is a free blogging service created by WordPress which has hosting, platform, and domain wrapped into one service. WordPress.com is free so it’s great for beginners, but they are not as customizable, have many more rules on monetization, and do not offer very much room for growth. You would want wordpress.org if you are serious about blogging. Switching platforms will be a pain-in-the-you-know-what if you decide to switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org
I don’t know too much about blogger or tumblr, but again, I can’t emphasize enough that the latter two don’t offer as much customization and ownership as WordPress. In other words, Blogger can decide to shut down its service, and boom, your blog go aways with it. You own your blog with WordPress.
Hosting is the server (computer) where all of the data for your blog is stored or where your blog/car is parked.
Free Hosting: There are free options for hosting, like Blogger.com and WordPress.com and good for those who aren’t sure they want to blog and perhaps want to test the waters. It’s a one-stop shop with these sites. Your hosting, domain name, and blogging platform are all lumped together in a free service. Since it is one package, it can be difficult to branch out later if you grow and need to expand. Free services are also much more limited when it comes to customization, design options, and monetization. WordPress.com is probably the best if you think there is even a smidgen of a chance that you’ll need to grow and expand, but it will still be a pain-in-the-butt to migrate to a self hosted, independent blog.
Self Hosting: If you have at least a few dollars, really just few dollars, I would suggest diving straight into a self hosted blog.Self hosting is not free which means you’ve bought a hosting package and own your own space for your blog. With WordPress, there are literally thousand of design options and plugins to customize your blog.. It may cost a little more to start, but if your blog brings in a decent amount of traffic, you can easily recoup the costs.
Bluehost is a great hosting company for beginners. I actually started my blog with them. They’re reliable, have great tech support, can almost walk you through the process of starting a blog, and have really cheap options for low budgets. When you sign up for hosting with Bluehost, they waive the cost of your domain name.
3) Domain Name
The domain name is your blog’s address or url (for example, http://www.semidelicatebalance.com). It’s what people type into the address bar of a browser to go to your website. Remember once you choose a name and a domain name, it’s best to stick with it. Otherwise re-branding will be somewhat of a headache. Buy your own domain name in the beginning if you can. If you’re using a free blogging service, your domain name might be included in the service and is a “sub domain” of the main website (“semidelicatebalance.wordpress.com”).
You can purchase your domain name and if you get your hosting through Bluehost, your domain name comes free. You’ll be able to search domain name registries to see if the name you want is already taken. Once you find one that is available for purchase, they’re usually about $5-$10 per year. Best practice is to have a .com structure and try to avoid dashes if you can (for example, semi-delicate-balance.com)
4) Design Theme
WordPress comes with a basic design theme , but there are thousands of custom designed wordpress themes available for download, some are free and some you have to pay for. While it is tempting to pick something fancy and has all the bells and whistle, considering reliability and customer support first. Poorly designed themes can cause errors, crashes, slow loading times, and may not offer tech support or upgrades to keep up with WordPress updates.
I am a firm believer in beautiful blogs which is why I have “marilyn” by Bluchic. It’s feminine, chic, and affordable. If you sign up for their newsletter, they have sales from time to time. Make sure the theme represent you and can be customized to fit your blog personality. A best practice is to have a responsive design (optimized for mobile and tablet) which Bluchic has.
You have a focus, a name, hosting, domain name, platform, and a design theme, you’re ready to start blogging! Start typing and create that awesome content. You have a story to tell so share it with the world.
See how I went from 0-100,000 monthly pageviews in 30 days and 5 *Can’t Miss* Tips to Grow Your Blog… Fast.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used all of the products above and recommend them because they have been helpful and trustworthy.