[ The Actual “Tools” You Need to Kickstart Your Blogging Journey in 2022 ]

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash For the past ten years, we have been making a subtle transition to the online world. Be it social media, entertainment, talking to strangers, learning stuff online, buying stuff online, or something else. It’s not a stretch to say that there’s power in “Online Presence” 2020 made it even more clear: When the offline affairs stall, the online thrives! Now I know that a lot of people like to say, “Blogging is dead” but that’s simply not true. It’s like saying books are dead. No. Blogging is simply evolving, just like how books have (You now have a choice, to either read them the pleasant old way as you feel the thickness of the paper, or you can go through one online, which can sometimes be convenient) As millions of people transition their businesses, portfolios, art, creativity, horses,…, online. Blogging is just as relevant as the internet itself, and it’ll continue to stay that way. There’s this brilliant post that explains the essence of blogging is a simple way, “7 Reasons Why Blogging Is Great” This post gives a fresh perspective on blogging, as well as, online businesses in general. A good read! If you are someone who has considered blogging before but are unsure about the right approach, or if you are someone who has “blogging” on their New Year’s resolution list, or someone who is about to transition their most important affairs online by starting a blog. This post is for you. But before that, let’s answer the inevitable question: Is Blogging expensive? Short answer: No. Long answer: It really just depends on how you are going to approach it. You can start a blog for Free Yes, that’s right. If you really don’t feel like spending money on blogging, you can just start blogging on Medium just like what I am doing right now. And later when you are ready, you can start your own blog then. It’s not a bad strategy at all, “How the Medium Partner Program Can Make You Rich (Slowly)” You can start your own blog for under 5 dollars a month This is also very possible. You can just get a blog started today for less than 5 dollars a month, but unfortunately, it won’t be worth it. As a wise man once said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably just some flashy marketing” That’s right, there are plenty of cheap hosting services that’ll trick you into buying their packages by offering, quote on quote, “Ton of value” (…Or so they say) This approach isn’t worth it, especially if you want your blog to mean something in a few years. Then again, there are also some genuinely good services that come with a price, but to be blunt, you don’t really need most of the eye-catchy stuff that you may not even understand right now. It’s not about “Nice services to buy/have” It’s more about, “What you really need?” Hence, this post. Well then, with that said. Let’s talk about the ultimate, pain-free way of starting a blog in 2021, even if you are running on a budget Spoiler alert: It’s still won’t cost you any more than the price of two Starbucks coffees a month, no kidding, and it’ll be well worth it) The Subtle Art of Starting a Blog Even if you are on A Budget Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash A strong foundation goes a long way, and that is just as much true for blogging as it is easy for any other thing. This is, but not limited to, choosing the right yet affordable services to get your blog started. To start a blog there are a few must haves, 1- Domain Name (This is basically your site’s username) (This is basically your site’s username) 2- Web Hosting (It’s when a company provides you the service of storing your site on its servers) (It’s when a company provides you the service of storing your site on its servers) 3- Theme (Your site’s design. Very crucial in today’s world) (Your site’s design. Very crucial in today’s world) 4-Email Service Providers (You should start thinking about building your email list from the start) For the most part, these four are what you really need to start your blog. Of course, this is not all, there’s also the best SEO plugin that’ll help you optimize your blog posts, we’ll also talk about it later in the post. 1-Domain Name Your Domain Name is a name that becomes the identity of your site. It’s unique, it’s yours, and it’s the first thing you need to start a blog. For this, you should either go with NameCheap or GoDaddy. Both are excellent choices. This will cost you around 8 to 20 dollars a year. Unless you go with a premium domain that is, those cost a few grand (1000$+) Now, here my personal recommendation is NameCheap. There’s not much to say why. It’s just because it costs a little less than GoDaddy, and honestly, there is no reason to spend more on domain registration. Another benefit is that NameCheap doesn’t force a lot of upsells on you, it keeps things simple. So unless you have a few dollars to spare every year. Definitely go with NameCheap. As for your domain extension. “.com” will always be a gold standard so go with that, if it’s available. For some good insights check out this post How To Choose a Domain Name: Recommendations & Tips And once, you have your Domain Name all set up, it’s time to choose a hosting platform. 2-Web Hosting This part is crucial, unlike Domain Registration where you can go with either one of them. For web hosting, you need a reliable and reasonable Host. And for someone who is just getting started, there is only one right answer. “SiteGround” (Affiliate Link! I’ll receive some benefits if you use this link) Now before we get into why you should go with SiteGround, let’s talk about the alternatives. The two big names in the market are, “BlueHost” and “HostGator” Both of them are cheap, surprisingly so. And almost everyone is recommending them, to the point that these two have become mainstream. So they are Cheap and they also appear to offer a ton of value (More than what you are paying for) Then why are they not your best bet? Well, both of these brands are a part of a larger group “EIG Group (Endurance International Group)” And it’s not just them, this corporation owns dozens of other hosting brands and most of them are just awful. So what’s that got to do with you? Why do you think, they keep making more hosting brands when they can just focus on improving the ones they already have? Why do they get a multitude of complaints from their clients? It’s because their focus is getting as many clients as they can get with cheap yet lucrative offers. It is never about sustaining their current clients. It isn’t always bad, but if you are a beginner, you are probably going to have to get in touch with customer support, sooner or later. And it’s not very amusing when the customer support can’t care less about you, and they are already flooded with complaints. In that situation, the unreliability of the host will have everything to do with you. That’s why, both BlueHost and HostGator may be cheap, but they are not worth it. Check out their reviews on Trustpilot, You can see a pattern in the complaints of the customers. Remember, numbers don’t lie. “Real customers rate BlueHost and HostGator poorly” The only thing that keeps these low tier yet flashy companies going is how the amount of referral commission they offer is massive. That’s why people keep recommending them, and complaints keep piling up. And it’s only going to continue to get worse. So, how is SiteGround different? It’s not just SiteGround, there are a ton of better hosts that offer massive value. Some are even better than SiteGround, such as “WpEngine” but you probably don’t want to spend 25 bucks every month on a hosting service, especially when you are just getting started. However, for what it’s worth, SiteGround is the Golden standard for web hosting. Check out SiteGround reviews It is reasonable, reliable, and trustworthy. Customers genuinely love it. I started this blog, “Exploringgreenideas.com” three months ago and of course, there was a time when I was in pinch. So I contacted their customer support and within 12 seconds, someone got in touch to help me. I am not exaggerating guys, this was a first for me…to get my problem solved this soon. It’s not the Customer Support either, the site speed, and other aspects are also top-notch, that’s why I can recommend this service with absolute confidence. These guys are the best! Now, since you are just getting started, the basic package will be enough for the first year or, at least the first six months and then you can upgrade it to suit your site needs. But for now, 6.99$ a month is what you’ll be paying for an excellent web hosting service, as well as, peace of mind. That’s why don’t be Dollar foolish and pennywise, you might save 2 or 3 dollars a month by going to Bluehost but it definitely won’t help your anxiety. Note: You can also buy your domain name from your web hosting service provider but it isn’t recommended because there’ll come a time when you have to migrate your site to another hosting service (For example, from SiteGround to WpEngine, when your site becomes some kind of an internet behemoth) That’s why it’ll keep things a lot simpler if you get your domain name from a separate company. 3-Theme Nobody wants their site looking awful, right? It has to have a certain element of grace to it. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a good theme for your site. Now, there are two ways, you can approach this. You can either get a free theme, which is not a bad choice at all. Or, you can buy a premium theme like GeneratePress, Thrive themes, etc. If you plan on buying a premium theme then your best bet is, “GeneratePress” It’s only 49 bucks (Lifetime) Yet it offers a ton of value, I don’t know why people aren’t going crazy about it. Imagine, for just 49 bucks, you get to have a premium theme on your site and you can make just about any kind of customizations. It also comes with a library of premade themes that you can choose from. On the other hand, there are thrive themes, as well as, Genesis Framework, but they are more on the expensive edge of the spectrum. Thrive will cost you 19$ a month, and expenses can also add up if you go with GenesisFramework. They are cool and well worth the money, but then again, this post is about “What you really need to start a blog?” There is the option of Divi, you must’ve seen its Ad at least once. But it’s also not worth it when you have GeneratePress for only 49 bucks, a lifetime (If you want to continue to keep getting their updates, you also get a 30 percent discount on renewal) Conclusion: GeneratePress is your best bet if you want to with the premium option. However, going with Thrivethemes or GenesisFramework will make things a lot simpler as they are easier to customize. With GeneratePress you will have to go through a short learning curve, but after that, you are all set! There’s also the option of a free theme, in that case, you should go with Astra. It’s light and customizable. 4-Email Service Provider There’s a lot of email service providers like MailChimp, Aweber, etc. But for someone who is just getting started, “Mailerlite” It’s Free (until you get your 1001st subscriber) and it’s considerably better than MailChimp. The free version will take care of mostly everything, and then when you get your 1001st subscriber, you can just get the paid plan. It’ll cost 15$ a month then. Not a bad deal, right? That’s it for what you really need to start a blog in 2021. You also need a good SEO plugin and for that, I recommend RankMath Seriously, if Yoast is the standard then RankMath is the future! They just released the Pro version of this plugin and I did buy and checked it out, but to be honest, even the Free version of RankMath will be enough to do almost everything. It’s as useful as the Pro version of Yoast SEO even though, it’s free. Conclusion · For Domain Name registration go with NameCheap. · For Web Hosting, SiteGround (Affiliate Link) is the Golden standard. · For Themes, go with Astra (Free) and GeneratePress (Paid) Or either, Thrivethemes or GenesisFramework (Both are Expensive) · Mailerlite’s free plan is enough to help you build your email list. · And, RankMath’s free SEO plugin will take care of all things SEO related. That’s all that you need. Well then, best of luck on your blogging journey. Happy Blogging!