So you’re moving abroad? And everyone wants to stay in touch? Maybe some of them are telling you to start a blog. And you’ve thought about it – but aren’t quite sure where to start.
Don’t wait: Today is your day to start your expat blog!
Take a few minutes (20 minutes should be plenty) and get started right now. There are just 3 simple steps, laid out below. Let’s do this!
More reading: 6 Ways We Benefit from our Expat Blog
How to Start an Expat Blog
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3 Steps to Start an Expat Blog
Three steps to begin blogging your expat adventures:
1. Choose Your Blog Hosting and Domain
There are two things you’ll need to get started: a domain name and hosting.
Lets start with blog hosting.
Hosting is the space on a server where your blog (files, photos, etc) will actually be stored. To get access to that space, you’ll rent it on a monthly/yearly basis. HostGator has great prices and stable servers. We’ve had sites hosted with them for years. You can even get your domain from them at the same time. But we’ll get to that.
To get started, I recommend the Hatchling Plan – fitting isn’t it? (Given that you’re just getting started, and all.) The only limiting factor is that you can only host one domain on this plan. I recommend paying for the first year up front as you’ll save a lot of money.
Once you choose the plan, you’ll see a window like this:
Time to choose your domain name! What will you call your blog?
Your domain is the address of your new expat blog (ours is gringosabroad.com). Once you purchase the domain becomes yours. You aren’t renting or leasing it – it becomes an asset, like a piece of real estate. Not sure about what domain to choose? Here are some domain tips.
While it works well to brainstorm with a pad and paper – you’re going to want to see what is actually available. From the order form you can check your name ideas.
With your name chosen, it’s time to choose your hosting addons.
The only important one here is domain privacy. Unless you like an overwhelming amount of spam, you’ll want this. 🙂 For $9.95/year your personal information gets hidden from public view. Things like your email address and phone number.
2. Install WordPress
With HostGator registration complete, you’re ready to install WordPress.
What is WordPress? This is blogging software the runs your site. While there are lots of other options, you should choose WordPress. It is free software and it is the most popular content management software available. We run all our sites on WordPress.
Here’s how to install WordPress.
Once you log into your HostGator Control Panel, you’ll see scroll down to the Software/Service box. Click on the QuickInstall icon.
Inside the QuickInstall screen, you’ll choose WordPress from the Blog Software box.
You’ll see a brief confirmation window. Click “Continue”
There are two steps. The first step is choosing where to install the app (WordPress). Make sure that your domain name shows in the first box. Don’t enter anything in the second box.
Here you need to enter your information. Your email is important because that is how your blog will communicate with you. The blog title can be changed later. Admin User will be your username to log into your site. It will not be publicly visible.
With these details confirmed, click Install Now!
You’ll watch the little green bar as it installs. It should take less than 2 minutes. When you get the Congratulations! message (see image below) then you are good to go.
Below the success message, you’ll see a link to your admin area. This is your blog dashboard (not public) where you’ll do your writing and design of the blog. You should also make note of the password. I usually print this page. You will also get an email from your blog with all this detail.
When you click on the admin link, you’ll see an image like this:
Just enter your username and password and you’re in!
3. Choosing a Design
Congratulations – you now own an expat blog! How does it feel?
You are minutes away from sharing your expat and travel adventures with the world. (We can’t wait to see them!)
Before you begin writing and publishing, you might want to adjust the design of your blog. WordPress comes preloaded with a few themes – they actually look pretty good. In addition to these themes, you can also access 2,700+ free themes over at WordPress.org. These might help you to keep costs down while you get started. Eventually, you’ll probably want one of these premium themes:
- Thesis: We run all our sites on Thesis. It is the most versatile theme framework that I’ve ever used. It isn’t cheap but if you are serious about design and monetization, we recommend the Thesis framework. There are some basic options to get you started and you can learn to customize as you go. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know code. 🙂 Price starts at $87 for one site license.
- Genesis Framework: While we aren’t using the Genesis framework, I have tested it thoroughly and it is very good. You can customize the look very easily by choosing a StudioPress theme. Expect to pay around $100 for a theme and framework. These are stable and attractive designs. While you don’t have to know any code, these themes are not quite as versatile as Thesis. You might want to check out sixteen-nine or lifestyle themes.
- Elegant Themes & Rocket Themes: The theme designers offer all their themes for one low price. If you are indecisive or plan to run a number of blogs then this is a good option. Rocket themes offers access to 60+ themes for $59. Elegant themes produce 87 themes for $69.
Help Running Your Expat Blog
We have been blogging since 2009 and have been sharing much of what we’ve learned. We’ve written about how to make money (including when to monetize), how to format a blog post, blog post ideas, free traffic sources, and even how to use Parkinson’s Law to be more productive.
Remember: while there is a lot to learn, it’s best to just start blogging. Why not publish your first post today? When you publish, please share it with us on Facebook or Twitter – we can’t wait to see it!