Over the past few years, I've had several friends tell me that they'd love to blog – they just aren't sure where to start. This is for you! Whether you want to get more exposure for your hobby or business, want to share with others the skills or knowledge you've acquired, dream of authoring a book, or simply would love a place to write, blogging is a great place to do that. I've put together a series for you that will teach you how to get started – then tips and tricks for maintaining a blog.
Today's post will outline exactly how I’ve built my site and the sites of my clients. I'm praying it will help countless of others get started, too!
What you’ll get from this guide
By following the steps in this post, you’ll have your own Squarespace site – one of the most popular website platforms around. (You can see why I love it here.) A head's up – a Squarespace site is $10/month, but comes with plenty of wonderful features that make it worth it (promise). You do get a free two-week trial with Squarespace, so especially if you're uncertain, sign up and test it out. Let's do this!
How to start a blog
- Sign up for Squarespace
- Select a template for your site
- Purchase a domain name
- Connect your domain name to Squarespace
Step 1: How to start a blog – Sign up for Squarespace
First, you'll head to squarespace.com and click the set of 3 black bars in the corner, next to login. This will expand a new menu, the top item being "get started." Click on that.
Step 2: How to start a blog – Choose a template
Next, Squarespace will ask you to choose a template. This will be the basic framework of your site. This part can be a little overwhelming, but try to just take it one step at a time and don't be too worried about it – you can easily change it later. Click through the example sites and look for "bone structure." Do you like where the logo is located on the example sites? What about the sidebar – does the template you're looking at have one? What does the navigation (the links at the top) look like? Select a structure that you like best by choosing "start with this design" on that template's page. (PS – the template for That's Pretty Ace is no longer available, but for many of my clients I've used Galapagos!) (PPS – want a detailed comparison chart? Here you go.)
Now Squarespace will ask you to create your site. Insert you first and last name, email address, and phone number. It'll prompt you to answer a few more questions (site purpose, site name, etc.). Once that's done, you officially have a Squarespace site! My next post will dig into what to do within Squarespace now that you have a page, but for now let's focus on getting you a .com address.
Step 3: How to start a blog – Purchase a domain name
Squarespace automatically gives you an address that looks like this: yourwebsitename.squarespace.com. This is fine, but in the long run, you'll want something that's more easily searchable and memorable for your readers. Plus, a custom .com address adds a serious level of professionalism. I've noticed that if I treat my blog like a business, I am much more invested in it. Start yours off on the right foot!
You'll need to find a host to purchase your domain name from – I use GoDaddy.com. Just head over there and type in the search bar the name you would like. It might take a few tries. Once you see a name that you like that's available, purchase it. Often the names are only about $15/year – a great deal!
Nervous about choosing a name? Here are a few tips:
- Go with a .com whenever possible.
- Make it easy to say and to spell.
- Don’t include hyphens, numbers, obscure terms, or confusing strings of words.
- If you’re not sure what to use, your name is a safe bet to start with!
- Be creative and try a phrase (like "that's pretty ace!") if you’re having trouble finding an available name.
*Ashley commented and shared that Squarespace now offers you a custom domain name at no additional cost for one year's time. What an insanely great deal! I would encourage you to go this route, but don't forget that you'll eventually need to purchase your custom domain address. If you don't, any previous links to your page will then be broken – and you'll lose a little professionalism in having that .squarespace.com at the end of your URL address.
Step 4: How to start a blog – Connect your domain name to Squarespace
Now to introduce your GoDaddy address and your Squarespace site. Head to Settings on your Squarespace site, then click on Domains. Then click on Connect a third-party domain. This will prompt you to type in your domain name that you've purchased. Click continue. Select your domain provider (in this case, GoDaddy), then click connect domain. A window will open that will ask you to login to your GoDaddy account. Once you've logged in, you'll see a message saying the connection was successful. Close the window and return to Squarespace.
It can take up to 24 hours for the two to fully connect. You can visit the Domains panel on your Squarespace site at any time to check your progress. When the domain is correctly linked, the domain will appear in the Domains panel with a Correctly Linked label.
Congratulations! Now you (or anyone) can type your domain name into a browser and your site will appear.
Have questions? Need help troubleshooting? Feel free to shoot me an email or you can review this article on Squarespace about mapping your domian with GoDaddy.
And check back next Monday for How to Blog, Part 2 – we'll get into what it looks like inside Squarespace and what you'll need to do there to get writing!