Did you know that there are more than 600 million blogs on the internet, and that 77% of web surfers read blogs regularly? Blogging has exploded since its humble beginnings in the 1990s, and today many people interact with blogs frequently, if not daily. By blogging, you have the opportunity to make meaningful connections with other people, whether you want to share your recipes, talk about your lifestyle, or sell products and services. Whatever the topic, blogging serves as an outlet that can even turn profitable. But before you see the dollar signs, you’ll need to create a blog, which involves choosing a content management system (CMS), deciding on themes and color schemes, and reaching your target audience. This guide will help you navigate the process of creating a successful blog on various platforms. But before setting up a blog, you will need to choose a CMS. Let’s dive into that, first.
How to choose a CMS
You can’t have a blog without a CMS or a content management system. As the name suggests, this is a system that manages your content. While you could certainly create a blog from scratch with smart coding skills, a CMS does the hard work for you. This software makes it almost easy to change the font styles, colors, and general theme of your blog. It also means that you can generate content much more easily, just by clicking a few buttons to add photos and videos. All of these seemingly simple actions can be difficult to implement through HTML and CSS encoding, which is why many bloggers choose to use a CMS. This way, you can dive right into creating great content. When looking for different CMS platforms, there are a few things to consider. Easy-to-use interface Pricing customization Support extensions Security Marketing capabilities Let’s go through each item to help you decide what you need in a CMS.
1. User friendly interface
The goal of choosing a CMS is to make it easy for you to create your blog. If you find it difficult to navigate the dashboard or text editor, blogging will be like a chore. Look for a CMS with drag-and-drop capabilities, and unless you have top-tier developer skills, steer clear of anything that requires heavy coding.
As we will see below, it is entirely possible to start a blog for free. But if you are looking for more robust features, you will need to consider your budget. If you’re looking for paid platforms, consider what you get with each CMS for the price, and double-check the hidden fees.
You want your blog to look and work the way you envision it, so make sure your CMS allows for customization through different themes and templates that can also be adjusted as you see fit. For example, with Zeros, you can fully customize each element of the content you publish without adding a single line of code.
If your blog crashes while writing an important post, you want to be able to get help when you need it. CMS support varies widely – you may just find a digital manual or FAQ page full of common problems and fixes with no number or live chat to contact urgent matters. Or the platform could only have an email or number available during standard business hours, Monday through Friday. Meanwhile, some CMS platforms have extensive support options, including agents available 24/7. If you have no experience working with CMS systems and want access to practical support, keep this in mind when comparing platforms.
One of the most useful features for CMS platforms is the ability to work with third-party extensions or plugins, which add even more functionality to your blog. There are extensions for just about anything you can think of, so if you want help with search engine optimization (SEO) or the ability to create galleries or social media feeds on your blog, extensions and plugins can help you do just that. If your CMS is not compatible with most of these applications, your blog could be affected.
Protecting your information and its content is important. You can also lose the trust of your audience and customers if your blog is compromised. As such, you will want to ensure that the CMS you choose has many security features. Check if SSL, firewall, and content delivery network (CDN) are included, and make sure updates and vulnerability scans are performed frequently. This also relates to support – is there someone available to help you in case your site is compromised? If not, run, don’t walk, to another platform.
7. Marketing capabilities
Once your blog is established and producing content, make sure you can get this content out to your target audience. Check if your CMS offers options for social and email marketing, or if it offers support for extensions like UpContent so sharing your content is easy.
How to set up a free blog
If you are working on a budget, you can certainly start blogging for free. There will be some limitations, but you can always choose to update or move your content to a paid CMS. To get started, you will need to find a free blogging platform. The most common free blogging platforms include WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org) Blogger Wix Weebly Tumblr. Please note that some free blogging platforms will restrict your domain name freedom and may be limited in services such as support, security, and customization. After choosing a free platform, you will sign up and go to the dashboard to choose a free theme or design template, then use the platform’s CMS to add content.
How to set up a blog
Whether you decide to invest in a blog or go the free route, there are a few different ways to get started depending on which platform you choose. Here are some of the most popular blogging platforms and how to set up your blog on each one.
If you want to blog WordPress, you will need to choose a domain name and a hosting service. The hosting service is the server space that stores the files and information of your website, making it accessible to other people on the Internet. Accommodation is normally a paid service; there are free options, but be careful about security, support, and functionality if you choose a free host. Once you have selected the domain name, such as yourblog.com, and a host, you can create your WordPress account. From there you can access the dashboard, where you can decide themes, add plugins, and of course write and publish content.
If you are looking for a popular and free CMS, Blogger, formerly BlogSpot, is a free blogging platform from Google. To get started, visit Blogger and create an account with your Gmail address and password. From there, you will choose a profile. If you don’t want to have the name associated with your Gmail address on your blog, you can choose a limited profile. After this, you will be taken to the control panel, where you can choose the name and subject of your blog. Then it is as easy as using the simple CMS to write your blog.
Wix is another free and easy CMS to consider when creating a blog. Just sign up for an account, then you can choose from templates. Note that while Wix offers many templates, only a few offer the Wix Blog. If you choose one without this app, you can still add it later via the Wix App Market. Customize the template to suit your vision, then go to the Wix Editor> Menus & Pages> Show more> Rename to name your blog. Wix offers free hosting, but if you want your own domain name, you will need to set it up and then connect it to your blog via the Wix Editor. With this logistics in place, you are ready to start a new post and start blogging. Now that you know the ins and outs of starting a blog, you are ready to go! Evaluate CMS platforms based on support, security, and design features and functionality. Once you’ve decided on a CMS, the platform will make the rest of your work a breeze. And once that blog is up and running, you can start considering even more options, like marketing and advertising, to get your brand known and even make a profit.