What do you need to know if you are setting up a blog?

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Answered by: Elizabeth, An Expert in the Starting a Blog Category

It may seem a daunting prospect if you are a beginner, but setting up a blog isn't as difficult as you may think. If you can figure out how to use a search engine, you have all the skills you need at your fingertips. First steps Blog posts are displayed on a website, and your first decision will be which website to choose. You can use a well-established blogging network like WordPress.com, or set up your own website from scratch; which one you choose will depend on the type of blog you are thinking of creating. If you would just like to note down your thoughts for a few of your friends and family to read, then WordPress.com is the simplest way to get started immediately. It allows you to use part of its network for your blog, and you will have your own dedicated address so your readers can find you. However, if you plan on monetising your blog by advertising or selling items, then you will need to set up your own website. Don't worry, this needn't be expensive or time-consuming; often, the biggest challenge can be thinking of a suitable name. What to do with your new website Once you have chosen your domain name, you need to buy the rights to it from a registered provider. It is a very simple process as they will allow you to purchase it almost immediately, as long as it is not in use already. There are a number of providers available, but I have found that GoDaddy is very reliable and simple to use. It helps to think of the domain name like an address in the real world. This is why it must be unique as it is the only way for readers to find you. If there were two streets in the same town with the same name, the Royal Mail would soon get confused. The same goes for the internet. If there were two websites with the same address, it would not be clear which one should be displayed. Once you have your unique website address, you will need to find a company to look after it. The companies you need are called webhosts, and they will find a place on the internet for your website. As we have already mentioned that the domain name was like an address, it follows that a webhost can be thought of as a company that looks after shops in a mall. If you take your domain name to be your shop's name, then the host gives you a shopfront where you can put all your stock. To make it even easier, many companies that supply domain names will also have a hosting option. Getting down to the art of blogging Once you have entrusted your domain name to the webhost, then comes the time to design your pages. Web pages are written in a language called HTML, which stands for hypertext markup language. It is possible to learn this language if you really want to, but there are alternatives. If you have decided to use Wordpress.com, they will guide you easily through the design of your page. If you have your own website it is a little trickier, but you have two main choices. You can download something called WordPress.org which allows you to follow their tutorials to choose a theme and set up your first page. Alternatively, you can set up your pages with a technical sounding WYSIWYG editor; it stands for What You See Is What You Get. Basically, it is a program that lets you add text and images which it then translates into HTML for you. There are paid options available, but BlueGriffon is an excellent free alternative. Once you have your website, it's time to start blogging; all you need are your thoughts. It's not essential, but a page introducing yourself would be a nice addition. Apart from that, fire up your inspiration and start writing. As you can see, setting up a blog is simply a case of following a few easy steps. Don't let fear of the unknown halt your dreams; start your blog today.

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