December 20, 2017

How to Start a Blog

I have visited every country in the world, and this blog is a big part of the reason. I’ve often been asked how I can afford my travels. Without the internet and my blog, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I began blogging in 2010 and used it as a way to reduce my travel cost by having the idea of getting discounts at hotels in exchange for writing about them. It didn’t take long before a hotel offered me two complimentary nights and as much more followed it became financially realistic for me to travel comfortably around the world.

It’s very easy to create a beautiful website. With themes and plugins, you just need to click a few buttons, and you’ll have an amazing website in just a few minutes. Here is a 5 step guide on how to do it.

1. You need a domain name

Preferably a .com domain. Not a sub-domain blog. Take your time to come up with the best name. You can check availability for domains on SiteGround where I have my domain.

2. Choose a great web hosting company

I have tried different sites, like Bluehost, but learned an important lesson. Don’t choose a hosting provider with poor reviews. You don’t want to have issues with your website. It can be tempting to go with the cheapest option, but please look at the reviews. The best option is in my opinion SiteGround with outstanding hosting and service. I am extremely happy with this company that has a Trustpilot score of 9.6. Bluehost had 1.4 last time I checked. Furthermore, Siteground has an incredible uptime of 99.9%.

There are cheaper options available, but with web hosting, you usually get what you pay for, and having a website down for days is no fun. I’ve been there. With SiteGround you can start a blog for as low as EUR3.95 per month, and easily upgrade at any time if you manage to get a lot of traffic.

Although the StartUp plan is a good start, there are great benefits of choosing GrowBig and GoGeek such as priority support, multiple website hosting and SuperCacher that help the loading time. The support is very fast on SiteGround, but clients with GrowBig and GoGeek are handled with priority. The StartUp allows hosting of one domain, but if someone wants multiple blogs, it is possible with the GrowBig and GoGeek options.

If you find it difficult to set everything up, SiteGround’s support chat can help you in every step of the way.

3. Use WordPress, a Great Theme and Plugins

I would recommend spending some time to find a theme for your blog. I am using the Zerif Pro theme from Theme Isle that has an excellent collection of responsive WordPress theme. Fast replies from support and great service make it easy for me to recommend them besides the beautiful themes.

If you sign up with SiteGround, you simply just have to login and select a Theme under Appearance, then click “Customize” to make changes. I am also using a lot of great plugins like Post Carousels by ShapedPlugin for my slider on my front page. Adding a plugin is super easy. Just search for the name, click install, then activate. Some plugins don’t appear automatically so if you don’t see it, simply see the instructions.

Another plugin that has made a big difference for my site is the Imagify Image Optimizer by WP Media. Before this plugin, my website was loading very slowly. With a few clicks, it optimised all my photos making a huge difference in the user experience of my website.

4. Set-up Social Media and be Active

I focus only on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It takes up a lot of time, and I think it’s best to focus on those three. Tip: Schedule content in advance to stay up to date. I use Crowdfire.

5. Great Content

The hardest part. Creating great content. Setting up a great website isn’t difficult if you’ve followed the first four steps, but creating great content is a different story. What works for me is to do things a bit differently from others by having visited many destinations where only a few, if any, travel bloggers have been.

Try to look for the unique travel story when travelling instead of travelling where everyone else is going. Come up with an idea or concept you believe in and work hard.