For someone not especially “tech savvy”, learning how to build a blog from scratch can seem like a challenging – or even impossible – task. For Canadians in particular, resources are even more scarce. Canadian bloggers are often left guessing which services to choose while missing out on various benefits of hosting their site at home.
Accordingly, we’ve decided to explain exactly how to build a blog from scratch – easily, and without any coding skills, for Canadian-based blogs.
If you find value here, we encourage you to share this guide, especially with your fellow bloggers from Canada. Help them build an amazing blog, Canadian style!
Ultimately it boils down to these 4 steps:
- Choose a domain name
- Pick a hosting service
- Choose your blogging platform
- Set up your blog’s design
1. Choosing the perfect domain
Assuming that you already have a clear idea of the particular topic/niche for your blog, the first step is: picking a great domain name. Put simply, a domain name is what users will type into their browsers in order to reach your website.
Finding the perfect domain can take some time. This is where powerful search tools can help. A proper domain search tool can help immensely in decision-making by offering you suggestions of available domain names.
Keep these tips in mind while searching for your domain name:
- The shorter the better – remember, the average length of super-popular domains is only 6 characters
- Consider using keywords – they should be clear and relevant to the topic of your blog
- Avoid hyphens and numbers – anything that can add confusion is not recommended
- A domain should be memorable and clear – before hitting the “buy” button, ask your friends for feedback (Is this name clear? Appealing? Catchy?)
- Act fast – great domains sell quickly, so when you find the one you want, snatch it ASAP.
What about the extension?
Your domain consists of two parts – the name itself, and the extension (also known as TLD). In the case of canspace.ca, the extension is the “.ca” part.
The choice of extensions is vast, and constantly growing: .com, .co, .biz, .net, .org, .shop, .online, just to mention a few. As each extension has a specific theme, pick the one that makes the most sense for you.
Historically .com domains have been the most popular. For Canadian bloggers, however, there are many benefits of having a .ca domain instead.
Take a look at the most important ones:
- Improvement of your local Google ranking – meaning that your site will rank more highly on google.ca – which is what most Canadians use.
- Identify yourself as Canadian – studies have shown that Canadians trust content from .ca sites more than .com sites!
- Get a better domain! There is a much better chance of finding a desirable .ca domain as fewer have been registered.
For a more detailed guide on .ca domains, head over here.
To avoid confusion, you may also want to register a few variations of your domain name and then redirect them all to your main domain name.
Finally, make sure to always choose a reputable and reliable domain registrar – ideally one that bills in Canadian dollars (such as CanSpace), offers privacy protection free of charge, and one that you can also host your blog with.
2. Choose the best hosting service
A web hosting provider provides the service where the files for your website itself will be hosted and allows these files to be served to your visitors.
If we picture a domain as the Internet address on which people can find your blog, then hosting is the actual space where your blog lives. A hosting provider should always be chosen carefully, based on a number of criteria – the main ones being that they are reliable, reputable, and offer excellent support.
Before we move on to the nitty-gritty of (Canadian) hosting, let’s discuss why you should consider paying for hosting in the first place.
There are certainly free options too, such as Blogger, Tumblr, and Hosted WordPress, but these all come with limitations that will ultimately hold you back. If your blog is just for fun, then these services may be sufficient. But, if you would like your blog to scale and grow, then free options are likely not for you.
If you want to build a scalable, profitable blog, remember:
- You can’t use your own domain with free options – instead of an elegant awesomeblog.ca, your address on a free blogging platform would be awesomeblog.wordpress.com or awesomeblog.blogspot.com. Ugly and amateur-looking.
- Free hosting has strict space limits – Forget storing large quantities of pictures or videos.
- Important: Your blog won’t be your property – crucially, if a blog is hosted by someone else, you’ll have minimal (to zero) control over it. Your free provider has full control over your content and there is nothing to stop them from pulling the plug one day.
- Hosting services are not expensive – while the cost is still greater than a free option, paying a few dollars a month to have full control over your own content and giving you the freedom to grow and scale is likely worth it.
As for Canadian bloggers specifically, these factors are worth considering when you’re picking the best hosting option:
- Rankings – remember how registering a domain with .ca extension improves your local Google ranking? Guess what – Canadian hosting also sends a clear signal to search engines that your blog is highly relevant to people in Canada. Better positions – more traffic!
- Subject to Canadian law – bloggers worldwide choose Canadian hosting providers instead of the US-based ones because your blog is subject only to Canadian law. Your (completely legal and legitimate) blog could be taken down by a US hosting provider as they generally must immediately comply with DMCA requests. Canadian providers are not subject to these requirements – we can review these requests and use our own discretion.
- The cost – US providers always charge US dollars. With the strength of the Canadian dollar lower these days, this can mean the price is higher than you realize. Not to mention the extra 3% you throw away in foreign conversion fees charged by your credit card company. Choose a Canadian provider to pay in Canadian dollars and always know what your costs will be.
It’s a no-brainer, really. Our host of choice is CanSpace – they come very highly reviewed, and the prices and support are excellent.
3. Pick your blog platform
Congrats on coming this far! By now, you’ve chosen your great domain name with a .ca extension, as well as a Canadian hosting option. Your blog is now really yours, so well done.
Now it’s time to start building! WordPress tends to be the most popular platform these days, and for good reasons. Once you have your domain and hosting set in stone, here’s why you should consider WordPress:
- Largest blogging platform in the world
- Inside WordPress, you’ll find plethora of plugins, add-ons, and themes (we’ll be covering your blog’s design in the next section)
- It is simple to set up.
- It’s free!
- WordPress also has an amazing support forum, in the case you ever get stuck.
Both for non-Canadian and Canadian blogs, WordPress is our platform of choice.
4. Set up your blog’s design
The final step building a (Canadian) blog is – to make it look good. If you’ve chosen WordPress (and we hope you did), it is rather easy to achieve a professional look of your blog in there.
We already mentioned that WordPress allows you to customize your blog with themes. Even better is that most of these themes are completely free to use!
As you enter the main Dashboard of your WordPress installation, head to Appearance -> Themes, and you can start browsing. We used a single filter (“Blog”) and got to choose between as many as 1435 themes! With such a large selection, the chances of you finding a beautiful theme you like are very high.
Furthermore, most themes are easy to customise, and if you ever wish to change your theme completely, it only takes a few clicks, and your content stays intact.
To truly master the craft of blog design, check out this article and learn how to make it both good-looking and user-friendly.
Congratulations for getting to the end of our guide, fellow blogger. By now you should have a solid idea of how to build your blog from scratch, and what unique decisions (and solutions) exist for Canadian bloggers. Remember, there’s no time to get started like the present!