There is so much to know about starting a website that I was absolutely clueless about when I got going. I mean, I really just started this site because I loved the Korean drama Oh Hae-young Again (you should watch it!) and it went from there. But now, I have gained some substantial knowledge about starting and building a site that I want to pay forward.
Honestly, there were no guides on starting a Korean Drama website or blog when I started. There are so many people who love dramas, but only a small dedicated group of people who are blogging about it. I know, what’s up with that? I say the more the merrier. There are thousands of fashion blogs out there and I think there should be thousands of Korean Drama ones too. I want to read about your passion so if you are at all considering starting a site to gush about your favorite dramas, music, OSTs, actors, etc. what is holding you back? If it is knowledge then you will get everything you need right here.
I mostly looked at the fashion and home decor blogging community/industry to figure out simple how too’s on starting a site and my knowledge grew from there. I converted all the knowledge I learned into my area of interest which is Korean dramas and entertainment, but anyone can use what I have learned to create any kind of site you want.
So, without further ado,
Question: I want to start a blog, but I’m super clueless about how to make one! What do I do? How do I start it? Who should host it and, um, what is a domain name (asking for a friend)? Somebody help me please!
Okay, I feel you. I was super clueless when I started, didn’t know what a domain name was and I didn’t even know what hosting was either. I needed a lot of help. After basically educating myself for months and going through a lot of trial and error, I am happy to say that I have figured it out and I am more than happy to keep you from making the same mistakes that I did. I am also constantly learning along the way and plan on updating this post frequently (things be changing on the internets y’all!).
The great news is that it is easy to start a website. The absolute best site for beginners that grows with your site and audience is: Bluehost.
I honestly cannot gush about Bluehost enough. If you only get one thing out of this post it is to just go to Bluehost and start from there. Bluehost + Bluehost’s customer service is all that you need.
When I first started Bah+Doo, I didn’t know what I was doing so I started with WordPress.com. *Big mistake* because I soon realized that with WordPress.com you cannot use all of the plugins that are available with WordPress.org which is where the secret sauce lies. I had to manually switch over to WordPress.org which was a stressful headache. I stayed up all night for hours and hours trying to figure it out and finally had to talk to Bluehost customer service several times about getting locked out of my site, parked domains, and all sorts of craziness (Pro tip: Bluehost’s customer service is excellent). I wish to save you from that headache, so here is my recommendation. Start with Bluehost right away. It will save you countless countless (countless) headaches plus their customer service is so on point it is ridiculous (but more on that later).
Three easy steps to starting a website:
STEP 1. Use Bluehost as your domain & host
STEP 2. Use WordPress.org as you platform (which Bluehost endorses).
STEP 3. If you have any questions ask Bluehost customer service (available 24/7)
It is really as simple as that to start a site that gives you so much freedom in what to post and what type of site you want it to be. You basically do everything through Bluehost (which is what we use here at Bah+Doo). But let’s go into a bit more detail.
Question: Um, you are going a little too fast for me. What is a WordPress? What is a host? I am really the most beginner of beginners. Can you help me out?
Yes, because I was in your shoes! Okay, let’s rewind. The simplest of simplest ways to start a blog site is with a free blogging platform.
Blogger platforms are like fully furnished apartments. They provide everything for you and give you enough space to store tiny items like your toaster and 10 step Korean face cleansing system.
Blogger platforms are free meaning that you will subscribe to a company like Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress.com and they will include their company name on your site address (like www.bahdoo.wordpress.com instead of www.bah-doo.com).
If you are serious about starting a blogging site (and possibly using it as income one day) then I do not recommend using a free platform. The largest reason is because search engines like google do not take free platforms as seriously as paid platforms, so your lovely site will be on the 10th google page instead of the 1st which makes it difficult for people to find you.
In addition, these sites are the basic of the basic (ie. Beyonce would call them the basic bitches of the blogging world) and usually have a paid component to unlock more useful parts of their platform (like removing their name from your site address). If you are going to pay a free site (oxymoron I know) then you should just start with hosting at the jump. It will save you so much money, time, and headaches, I’m speaking from experience here. But if you don’t care about any of that then free sites are the way to go.
WordPress.com does have a lot of benefits when used in conjunction with Bluehost though. I highly recommend registering on WordPress.com after setting up a Bluehost account in order to benefit from several tools that WordPress.com uses, such as Jetpack. I use Jetpack and I love it. But I cannot state enough that I highly recommend hosting through Bluehost first.
Okay, now that you know about free platforms, let’s go more in-depth with hosted platforms which is where the magic happens. But to know about the magic of hosting and all those things, you need to understand the lingo. The following is a breakdown of some jargon that gets thrown around in the website world. It is better to know all of this upfront:
THE SIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION
If you are as overwhelmed as I was when I started then let me give you a very simplified explanation before diving into a more detailed explanation. Jargon is king on the internet so it behooves you to know a few key words and phrases that people will just spit out like everyone knows what is going on. The wonderful Fashion and Lifestyle Blog Thrifts and Threads used a house to describe blogging and I love it to bits so I used it here as well, with a little tweaks of my own of course.
Host: The Host is like an empty house before you move in. There is no furniture, pictures, appliances, food, or any of your stuff yet. Just an empty space with endless possibilities. So look at hosting like an empty house…your own personal home on the web. Bah+Doo’s personal home is Bluehost
Domain: The domain is your homes street address. It is where people go to find you. For instance, if you want to find Bah+Doo then you go to www.bah-doo.com.
Platform: The platform is kind of like the plumbing, electricity, insulation, and appliances of your home. It is all the things you need to start doing all the things you want to do (like cook!). This is the behind the scenes of how you post content on your site. Bah+Doo’s platform is WordPress.org
Theme: Your theme is how your house looks. Mid-century modern? Cool. Boutique chic? Love it. The theme is all the pretty of your website and it is a direct reflection of you just as your house is. So think of a theme with that in mind. Our theme over here is Olsen with CSS Igniter.
Content: The content is what you have at your home to entertain (think food, drinks, furniture, art, a place to sleep). All the stuff in your home are all the lovely posts on your site. It is all the lovely things that makes people want to stick around and hang out with you.
So to sum it all up, a website is stored on a host and can be found with a domain name.
So for example: Bah+Doo is stored on Bluehost and can be found at www.Bah-Doo.com
For all the mathematicians: Host + Domain + Platform + Theme + Content = Your website
THE DETAILED EXPLANATION
Okay, so for those of us who like getting into the nitty-gritty of everything and are basically perfectionists, this part of the post is for you. In this section I will go into a lot more detail on everything and if you are anything like me then you will love it and read it over and over again (or is that just me?).
- Host: Your web host or hosting service is where all of the files that make up your blog are stored (think “the cloud”). They are stored right at the host site, so it is similar to “the cloud” but for blogging. It is best to start with a basic hosting plan while you build your audience and then upgrade as your audience grows. I started with the most basic service, but had to upgrade (which Bluehost customer service did for me!) about a month in because we started doing live recaps that got a lot of hits. Our site even crashed a few times during the live recap so I had to address that issue asap. Bluehost can handle millions and millions of hits a month so you are more than safe with them. If your site does grow to like a Dramabeans or maybe even a Soompi level then perhaps you need something bigger like Liquid Web. I cannot comment on the usability of Liquid Web, but if you have that many readers than that is one option you can check out. (Also, you should probably write a post on how you grew your readership, I would love to read it). I hope I have sold you on the fabulousness of Bluehost. Here is where you can get a domain and hosting package with them.
Domain: This is your website’s address or URL (for example, ours is “bah-doo.com”). The problem with using a free service like WordPress.com, is that they will put their name in your websites address (like bahdoo.wordpress.com). Buying a domain does cost a little bit of money each year, but it is worth it. The cost of a domain is included in all Bluehost packages which is why we went with Bluehost. They honestly make it really simple (and you always have their customer service to fall back on).
The domain name is what people will be trying to remember when accessing your site so try to pick a domain name that is easy to remember, easy to spell, and somewhat unique. You don’t want it to be so unique that no one can remember it, but you also don’t want it to be super plain either. I settled on Bah+Doo because I thought it was catchy and had some sentimental value. Unfortunately you cannot use + signs in url’s yet, so I had to use a – for my domain. You (and your readers) will be typing this a lot so make it easy and quick to understand. For instance, dramalamma.com might be a good one because it is catchy, but dramalammaforyourmammasmamma.com would not be because it is super long. In addition dramagrlz4-eva.com with “grlz” instead of “girls” and “4eva” instead of “forever” would be hard as well because it would require a lot of explaining.
“Yes! Drama girls forever! But girls is with no “i” and a “z” instead of an “s” and “forever” is with a four…no, the number 4…yeah, that’s right, and “ever” is spelled e-v-a, but you have to put a dash between the “4” and the “eva”. You got it? I can text it to you.”
Don’t do that to yourself.
- Blogging Platform: This is basically how your blogging site works. It is something that is installed on your host (Bluehost customer service can do this for you) in order to start posting content on your site. Here is where WordPress.org comes in. I use WordPress to run Bah+Doo and honestly most people use WordPress. It is the most used platform for blogging and website creating which is amazingly beneficial if you choose to use it. I say it is amazingly beneficial because thousands of people have created cool themes and plugins to use on WordPress to make your site not only pretty, but also amazingly functional. Themes and plugins are basically apps for your blogger site (and I love them so much). Bluehost can get you all set you up with WordPress, but if you want to do it yourself then you can download WordPress at WordPress.org and follow their 5-minute install instructions.
Themes: Basically all the pretty, it is how your site looks. There are thousands of themes out there depending on your particular style. Bah+Doo uses the Olsen theme by CSS Igniter. This theme is hot with fashion bloggers because it focuses on images. Korean entertainment blogs are also very photo oriented (hello recaps) so I was very cognizant of that while choosing a theme. I also wanted a theme that had a blogger feel, but also had a strong site feel to it as well. In addition, I wanted a theme that had a lot of flexibility. The Olsen theme has 11 layout options and infinite style variations. It was the one for me. But it might not be the one for you. You have some options. You can go to CSS Igniter and search through their themes, or I suggest googling top WordPress themes and see what pops up. That is exactly what I did when trying to find a theme that worked for me.
CSS Igniter does have some drawbacks though which is in the customer service. The Olsen theme is amazingly easy to use, but if you want to tweak it a little then you have to dig through their forums and hopefully someone has addressed whatever issue you have a question with. I have done this a few times and I found what I was looking for around half the time. For savvy bloggers (and you are savvy or you wouldn’t have found this page) google is your friend. Honestly if Bluehost customer service cannot answer your question (ie. fix any problem you have) then googling it is the next best option. (Pro tip: Usually in Bluehost the first customer service person can help you with everything, but if one Bluehost customer service helper cannot fix your problem, just wait 5 minutes and try again. Another customer service person can probably help you. I have done this a couple of times with amazing results.)
Content: Content is so very important because this is what makes people stick around on your site. Actually, this is basically why you started a site to begin with. For example, I started this site because I wanted to gush about this one particular scene in Oh Hae Young again and it grew from there. Now Bah+Doo has grown into a site that does live recaps, interviews, web drama recaps, and music lists. That is what we are passionate about over here, so that is what we focus on. But that might not be for you. For Dramabeans their content is mostly focused on drama recaps and castings, but they also have podcasts, vlogs, and fun dramaland posts from readers. For Koalas Playground, her content is mostly entertainment news. For Soompi, their content is focused on everything KPop but they also cover a lot of other Korean entertainment news and their forums are outstanding.
Your thing might be dramas, but it also might be Korean fashion or beauty or food; or maybe it’s not even be related to the Korean industry at all. You should write about whatever you love because that is what will grow your site and your community.
TO SUM IT ALL UP
Okay, we have gone through a lot on this post and I want to bring it back around to the essentials. Here are all the links you need from this post to get your own blog going. If all you get from this post are these four steps then I have done my job.
- STEP 1:
Go to Bluehost
Get a basic plan for 12 months (like $3-$7/month)
Use CSS Igniter to get you started on your theme
And that is all you need to get going! I hope this was helpful. I know you have questions though, I had a ton of questions when I started Bah+Doo and I am so happy to help. Please ask me any (and all) questions you may have in the comments.
This is a series of posts so I’ll talk in more detail about each of those main topics (yes I can go into even more detail on them, I know!) including:
– WordPress.com (free) vs WordPress.org (Self Hosting),
– The many many WordPress themes out there,
– Creating a Proper Post With WordPress,
– How to navigate Naver (to get all the juicy content),
– How to quickly edit images and fix grammar fast
– and on and on.
This is going to be fun. Be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter if you want to make sure you don’t miss any. Did you read all the way to the end? Then you are a boss and should definitely start a blog. I would love to read your blog so if you have one, or are about to start one, and you would like to share it, then post it in the comments below. I will definitely click over and show some love ^_^ .
*This post wouldn’t be possible without Thrifts and Threads as well as Young House Love‘s blogging advice and I would be remise if I did not mention @fragilemyths Instagram which is where the photo at the top of this post came from.
*This post also contains affiliate links that help keep Bah+Doo running. Read here for more info*