Knowledge Base

Blogging basics

Starting a blog has never been easier, and this article discusses all you need to know to get started.

What a blog is and why you might want one

A blog (short for weblog) is a website consisting of individual entries called posts. Posts are usually arranged chronologically, with the most recent entries at the top. Most blogs are also interactive, where readers can respond to posts by leaving comments.

Although blogs started out primarily as daily journals or diaries written by individuals, they have evolved to include sites operated by companies, universities, and other large organizations.

The popularity of blogging has exploded in recent years, and as a result it has become much easier to get started. Gone are the days when you needed to know HTML and FTP to create and publish content on a website! Now you can install a blogging application with one click, start writing, and publish a post online in minutes.

So why would you want a blog? You may want a blog to keep family and friends updated with your personal news. Or you may have a passion for Japanese tea ceremonies and want to share that enthusiasm with others. Or you may want to try and make some money through the content you provide.

Whatever your motivations, blogging above all provides you with a way to be heard. Everyone has something to say—and with blogging, there has never been an easier way to share your thoughts with a larger audience.

Choosing a topic or niche

It's your blog, of course, so you can write whatever you want! But to attract a wider audience, it usually helps if your blog has a general topic or area of focus. This could be anything from travel to football to chess—whatever interests you.

New writers are often advised to “write what you know,” and if you choose a topic or niche area that you're passionate and knowledgeable about, the benefits are two-fold:

  • Readers with similar interests will be naturally attracted to your blog.
  • You will be much more motivated to continue updating the blog. Keeping a blog updated with fresh content is vital for holding reader interest and climbing search engine rankings.

Self-hosted versus free services

After you decide to start a blog, you must make the next big decision: how are you going to run it? You need some sort of web presence that serves as your online “home” where you can store files, write posts, and do all the other things involved in running a site.

You have two options, a self-hosted account or a free service. The following table summarizes the differences between the two:

  Self-hosted account Free service
Domain name You use a domain name that you own, such as yourname.com or myfavoritetopic.org. You use a domain name shared with other users, such as yourname.freeblogservice.com.
Blogging application You can run a wide range of software packages, and you usually have a large selection of platforms you can choose from. You have a limited selection of blogging applications, or sometimes no choice at all.
Customization You can customize your blog's appearance however you like. There are limitations to how much you can customize the look and feel of your blog.
Content control You have complete control over your blog's content. The free service ultimately owns your content. Additionally, you may have to display advertisements or other third-party content on your blog as part of the terms of service.
Monetization You have complete control over the number and type of advertisements (if any) on your site. Free services have limited monetization potential, and some services expressly forbid running your own advertisements.
Cost You pay a hosting company for storage space on the server, DNS setup, etc. Free.

 

As you can see, the advantage of a free service is the cost. In return for that free service, however, you give up a lot of flexibility and submit to a number of limitations.

Needless to say, as a web hosting company, we are biased. But we think you get a much more capable blogging solution by spending a little money on a self-hosted account. And it's not as expensive as you may think. You can get started at A2 Hosting for just a few dollars per month.

Blogging platforms

There are a huge number of blogging platforms available. Which one you choose depends on how many features you need, and your own personal preference.

We recommend using any of the following blogging platforms because they are easy to use. Some of these platforms provide basic blogging functionality (which may be all you need), while others are more feature-rich.

WordPress

Even if you only have a limited knowledge of blogging, you have probably heard of WordPress. It is the big fish in the blogging pond, with installations on millions of sites and a huge online community. It also has hundreds, if not thousands, of plugins and themes available, so it is very customizable.

If you choose A2 Hosting as your hosting provider, you can easily install WordPress automatically during the ordering process with one click. Alternatively, you can use the Softaculous guided installer, or install WordPress manually at a later time.

For more information about how to get started blogging with WordPress, please see this article.

Ghost

Ghost has quickly established itself as a popular alternative to WordPress. WordPress has evolved into a complete content management system (CMS) and can sometimes be more than you need. Ghost, on the other hand, goes back to basics with a clean, simple interface designed exclusively for blogging. Although Ghost does not have the enormous number of themes and plugins that WordPress has, it still provides plenty of room for customization.

If you choose A2 Hosting as your hosting provider, you can easily install Ghost automatically during the ordering process with one click. Alternatively, you can use the Softaculous guided installer, or install Ghost manually at a later time.

For more information about how to get started blogging with Ghost, please see this article.

Nibbleblog

If you want an application that provides just the essential blogging features, Nibbleblog may be what you're looking for.

Nibbleblog is fast. It has a clean, streamlined interface that makes it easy to quickly do what you want. It includes basic plugin and theme support to help you customize a site's look-and-feel, and it has built-in multilingual support for more than 10 languages.

Nibbleblog packs a lot of functionality into a small package, and is definitely worth a look if you don't want or need a lot of extra bells and whistles.

If you choose A2 Hosting as your hosting provider, you can easily install Nibbleblog automatically during the ordering process with one click. Alternatively, you can use the Softaculous guided installer, or install Nibbleblog manually at a later time.

For more information about how to get started blogging with Nibbleblog, please see this article.

Movable Type

As with WordPress, Movable Type provides features well beyond a simple blogging platform. WIth Movable Type, you can host muliple blogs, manage static and dynamic content and more. Movable Type is also the elder statesman of blogging, and has been around since 2001.

If you choose A2 Hosting as your hosting provider, you can easily install Movable Type automatically during the ordering process with one click. Alternatively, you can use the Softaculous guided installer to install it at a later time.

For more information about how to get started blogging with Movable Type, please see this article.