There’s plenty of space on the internet for everybody. People love to share ideas, give shape to their thoughts, and maybe even reach a global audience. And for most people, personal blogs are what allows them to do that, which is no surprise since 77% of internet users read blogs. Given that creating a personal blog isn’t hard, why not try it yourself?
(Charts by Visualizer Lite.)
In this post, we will lead you through all the steps that you need to take in order to build a personal blog that is effective, cheap, and good-looking. This is your ultimate guide on how to build and grow your own personal blog, and all the resources you need to make it happen.
What is a personal blog?
Before talking about more practical tips for starting a personal blog, let’s actually define what a personal blog is.
A personal blog is a blog where you can write about anything, without necessarily setting goals or trying to track your audience. Most of these blogs are usually made for fun or for interaction with other people. A personal blog has nothing to do with a business one, which is much more complex and based on specific revenue or business goals.
A personal blog is more like a hobbyist website, where you write about the stuff you love, along with the fun and interesting activities you have on a regular basis. Telling stories, sharing photos, or simply sharing your best experiences with others – that’s what a personal blog is about.
By doing this, you will attract people who have the same hobbies and opinions; they will read your posts and interact with you. So, through your blog, you get the chance to meet people who have the same interests as you.
Why do you need a personal blog?
Like I said before, starting a blog about your hobbies, for instance, actually helps you shape your thoughts and connect with other people who love the same things you do.
Another important reason why you should have a personal blog is professional exposure. You might not create your blog solely for that purpose, but it can be a nice unintended side effect.
For instance, if you’re sending a resume to a company, a link to some relevant content written, collected, and researched by yourself can get you extra credit. You can even get job offers thanks to your blog!
A personal blog can sometimes help you in your career too because it helps you build your personal brand.
According to a survey by Domain.me:
61% of the survey respondents admitted that they have received a job offer because of their blog.
79% said their blog is either very important or important for their personal brand.
When you are online in so many places and have accounts on various platforms and social media channels, it’s hard not to get things mixed up for both your friends and potential employers. Nowadays, employers tend to check all the online references that lead to you before inviting you to an interview or hiring you.
According to CareerBuilder, 40% to 60% of hiring managers use social media to analyze and get an overall opinion about potential employees. If they’re searching for you online like that, there’s a good chance they’ll stumble across your personal blog.
In short, a good personal blog can help you make a good first impression and boost your chances of finding new opportunities. Potential employers are likely to find your personal blog, making it a good place to boost your job-worthiness in their eyes. While unintended at first, those are some serious positive business consequences from personal blogging.
Is a personal blog a big commitment? How often should you post?
There’s no hard and fast rule here. After all, that’s why it’s called personal.
You don’t have to face rules and deadlines, but you should still try to post at least once a week if possible (you’ll find plenty of counter-examples, though).
Of course, it depends on what you use the blog for. If you just use it to put your thoughts on paper (screen), then you should write every time a great topic comes up to your mind. If you use it for talking about hobbies and want to grow a community around it, then you should try to post constantly – at least weekly.
How to create your WordPress personal blog
Now, most of the people who blog are on WordPress. Statistics say that WordPress platform runs 28% of the internet (as in sites built with it). But some first-time users might not know that there are actually two types of WordPress: WordPress.org (aka the self-hosted one) and WordPress.com (which comes with hosting included, but not the same flexibility).
There are many obvious differences between the two platforms, but I’ll summarize the major ones so you can get a clear picture of who’s who.
- Doesn’t come with any hosting. You have to look for it yourself and subscribe to a plan.
- You need a custom subdomain, for which you have to pay an additional price.
- When it comes to security, you need to take care of your site alone via plugins, but you’re in control of everything.
- You can install any plugins/tools and design your site any way you want, no limitations at all.
- You have full control over every aspect of your site.
- You get free hosting, but WordPress.com limits you to 3GB of space unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
- Gives you a free subdomain with the format
yourblog.wordpress.com, but you need to upgrade to a paid plan if you want a custom domain.
- Security is not your job, you get basic security and backup services automatically.
- You can’t install any third-party plugins whatsoever. The themes also come in a limited number, with limited customization options.
- You do not have any control over your site’s design, performance, or functionality. You can only use what’s provided by WordPress.com package by default.
In a nutshell, if you want to have full control of your website, and want to make sure that it stays with you long term, WordPress.org is probably the better choice here. But don’t actually go to the WordPress.org website to get started with the platform. Here’s what you do instead:
How to start building your personal blog
Let’s talk about the actual process of building a personal blog. The very first step in creating a personal blog is hosting. Since there are loads of good hosting companies out there, each providing diverse and attractive packs of features, I imagine it’s kind of hard for you to pick the one that fits your blog the best.
That’s why we have a few recommendations for you. Since you only need it for a personal purpose, a cheap plan will be the perfect match for you. Here are two good options:
- SiteGround is one of the most popular and cheapest WordPress hosting options. For only $3.95 a month, you get support for your blog’s performance and 10GB of disk space. Apart from that, the plan can handle up to 10,000 visits monthly.
- InMotion Hosting is also a cheap shared hosting service for WordPress, and probably the most efficient in terms of price/features combination. It provides support for 2 websites, comes with unlimited disk space, and allows unlimited monthly visits. All for only $3.99 per month.
Now, the best part with either of these hosts is that they will get WordPress installed for you – or you’ll be able to install it from your user panel. That’s why you don’t need to go to the WordPress.org website. All the installation happens via your web host.
For specifics, please review your host’s official information/tutorials. I assure you that it’ll only take you about 5-10 minutes to have WordPress up and running on your web server.
Which theme to get?
We talked about how to make your personal blog run smoothly on the backend, but now let’s discuss a bit about its design, which is hugely important for those who read your blog. First of all, it has to be intuitive and make it easy for people to read your site, as well as provide a friendly and organized navigation structure. No matter how great your posts are, if the way you present them is hard to follow and annoys people every time they try to navigate, then it’s all in vain.
To add a beautiful and intuitive theme to your blog is actually very simple, it only takes a few quick steps. The more difficult part is to decide on one single theme because WordPress has tons out here: free, good-looking, feature-rich, of all kinds, and for all purposes.
We do have a few great suggestions for you on this end (they all look lovely):
- Zillah – the theme we are using on this very blog. Minimalist and clean, it was made to put your content first. It’s one of the themes developed by our team and it’s completely free. More about it here.
- Hoffman – minimalist and beautiful, with an elegant typography and modern vibe. It will make your blog look like a fancy journal.
- Libretto – a free and simple theme with a colorful design (you can customize the colors) and a joyful typography.
Check out this post for more awesome blogging themes, all for free!
Great tools to improve your personal blogging experience
Aside from choosing hosting and a theme, which are mandatory, you have tons of optional tools built to work with WordPress, ease your blogging activity, and increase your productivity. Some can be used directly online and others will require installation on your dashboard, but all of them are very intuitive and make your writing more pleasant.
Jetpack is a multifaceted plugin that automates social media posting by sharing a blog entry on your social channels every time you click the Publish button, so you won’t have to share it separately. Also, the plugin creates beautiful photo galleries that you can include in your posts and can help you by providing various site stats right in your admin dashboard.
Here’s our guide on how to get started with Jetpack.
Revive Old Post
With Revive Old Post, you can automate your social media posting process so you don’t have to manually share every entry. Once you configure the plugin, it does everything for you. It will post alone continuously until you stop it. This way you save a lot of time, which you can use for writing.
This is a nice online tool created by Hubspot that generates content ideas based on the keywords you’re interested in. You write three keywords that you think are relevant to what you want to talk about and the tool returns five related headlines.
Here’s an additional guide of ours on how to come up with good blog post ideas.
Another great free tool that lets you know about which topics are popular. Enter a topic into its search box before starting to work on it and BuzzSumo will analyze what content works best for that given topic. With this tool, you can also find out what’s the most successful content published by a specific blog: enter its URL and you get a list of the most shared posts.
Install Grammarly extension in your web browser and start writing your post in WordPress. The tool will mark nearly every mistake in your work. So make sure you checked your grammar before you hit Publish.
For every blog post, you need pictures. While you can always use some of your own pictures, most of the time you will use free images from the internet. MyStock.Photos is ThemeIsle’s photo collection providing awesome high-quality images that you can use anywhere you want. All are free, so use them as much as you’d like!
Yoast SEO is a free WordPress plugin that takes care of your SEO optimization. It gives you indications on what adjustments to make on every single post so that your post can rank higher in Google.
In the end, instead of being just a reader of others’ opinions and stories, you can create your own content and share it with the world. Whenever you think you have something to say, the internet allows you to. All your discoveries, all your thoughts, your daily stories… all can lead to something great. And apart from integrating yourself in nice communities of people who share the same hobbies and interests as you, a personal blog can also lead to improved professional opportunities.
So, how do you create a personal blog? Let’s make it quick:
- Think about the range of topics you would like to tackle. If you don’t know yet and just want to write random stuff, that’s also a start. A blog is a way to express yourself.
- Try to create a personal calendar or a notebook in which to set deadlines on writing. You don’t have to post daily, once a week is enough. The key is consistency.
- Pick a platform between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. We recommend the first one because you will have full control over your site.
- Choose the right WordPress hosting. For a personal blog, you don’t need the biggest fish out here. Cheap WordPress hosting is fine.
- Choose a beautiful theme. There’s a handful of nice free WordPress blogging themes that you can choose from. Install, try, customize. You can play with their design so you can see which one matches your site the most.
- Go ahead and install efficient and free-of-charge tools and plugins that will make your blogging easier and more fun.
I hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to submit them in the comments section below.