If you’re serious about building your brand and turning your blog into a business, you need your own domain name, with your own blog hosting.
Why You Don’t Want to Host Your Blog on a Free Site
Would you start a business and put some other company’s name in your logo, or on the front window of your shop? Then why do that with your name and your blog (i.e. mybusinessname.blogspot.com)? Aside from that, if you start a blog on one of the free sites and it really takes off, you’re going to want to transfer your blog over to your own WordPress site so that you’re earning the money instead of the company hosting your “free” blog.
You will want to own your blog and not build your brand on someone else’s property. Moving everything over to your own website is going to mean a painful migration. I speak from experience, having done quite a few WordPress migrations — some haven’t been so bad while some have been a huge pain in the arse). In addition to your owning your blog, you will be able to add features that you want but can’t have on your free blog. Use the free blog sites as promotional tools for your main blog.
The most popular types of blogs on sites like Blogger are fashion blogs. Fashion blogs are vogue right now. Every Fashionista wants a blog to show off their style and/or give others fashion advice. There are thousands of fashion blogs on the internet, however, the vast majority of them are really, REALLY bad. Having your own WordPress blog gives you the opportunity to have something really awesome in the world of fashion blogs, while building your brand!
You also need to be willing to put in the effort it takes to profit from your blog. Of course, you can always have your own fashion blog, or whichever niche you desire, just for the fun of it. Who knows; With enough time and attention to your blog, your passion could very well turn into a profitable one.
Where to Begin
Start by building your brand on your own property.
First, you will need a domain name.
Domain names can be purchased for as low as $3.00 per month, a little more if you want Private Registration (which I strongly recommend).
Right from the start, decide whether or not you’re going to use the www prefix. Websites work with or without that prefix, however, you need to pick one and commit. Reason being: It has to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In the eyes of Google, www.mysite.com is not the same as mysite.com.
As an example of what happens to your PageRank if you use both the www and the non-www: If you have 100 inbound links to www.mysite.com and 300 to the non-www domain name then you will have a different PageRank for BOTH URLs causing you to lose valuable inbound link juice since they will be split between the www and the non-www.
Next; Your web hosting package.
Where you purchase your domain and your hosting package can be one and the same, but it need not be. Having worked with dozens of web hosting companies over many years, I can tell you that there’s no such thing as the “perfect web hosting company.”
Your web hosting fees will depend on which plan you select, and with which hosting company you choose. You can get hosting for as low as $4.00 per month, or it can most much more if your blog has high traffic and you require the use of a dedicated server. You can always start out on the low side and upgrade your hosting service once your blog starts to take off.
As a word of caution; Do NOT host your blog with GoDaddy — No matter what their website claims about WordPress Hosting. I’ll spare you my laundry list of issues my clients have had when they’ve hosted their sites with GoDaddy. You can buy all the domain names you want from them, just do not host your site with them.
Once that’s done, you can then install and configure WordPress.
All of the web hosting companies I work with have a “one click install” program for WordPress. While that is the easiest way to do a WordPress install it’s not the best way. The best way is to do a manual install.
Following your WordPress, framework, and theme install, you’re going to want a few plugins. My suggestion is that you build your site on the Genesis Framework. Among other things, Genesis Framework handles the basics of good SEO for you, and is built on HTML5. If you’re new to the world of Web Design, saying things like “built on HTML5” or “solid framework that’s SEO optimized” doesn’t mean anything to you. Suffice it to say; It’s a Good Thing.
A word about plugins: Keep in mind that the more plugins you use, the more likely you’re going to have issues with your site. Especially if you’re installing plugins that are no longer being maintained and/or supported. I could speak volumes on the topic of plugins, however, that’s not what this post is about. I will, however, mention what I feel are the two most important plugins for backup and security: VaultPress and Wordfence.