Rakshit Soral

How to Build a Blog for Free (Step-by-Step Walkthrough) - Part 1 of 3

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TL;DR: In this article, I will walk you through the first part of building a blog for free. I will tell you the skills that will help you to build a static site blog for free.


Today, I’m going to show you a VERY simple technique for building a Blog website for FREE.

Although much has been written about building a blog website online, there is little to negligible information about how to build a blog from scratch without bearing any cost at all.

There are articles online that must have shown you how to buy web hosting, how to buy a domain name, how to install WordPress and write your first blog etc. etc. But in this blog series, you would be learning a simple technique that most people use for building a FREE OF COST blog. In fact, I have appied this technique to build this blog, without paying a single penny.

PS: This is part 1 of the series “How to Build a Blogging Website for Free”. This part includes a basic overview of my thoughts on building a website. If you want to dive straight to the tutorial part, I would insist you to click here - How to build a FREE blog with Jekyll and Github Pages

Building a blogging website for your career - does that makes sense in 2019?

I am sure, you might’ve heard quite a bit of debate lately about whether a graduate student needs to build a website or not. There is an enormous number of talks that have recently surfaced on the web where many have argued that having a website makes it easier for you to brand yourself.

While many people think that it requires a serious investment of time and resources to make and manage a blogging website, I see these arguments as a baseless and pure waste of time. The question should be whether a website can help you achieve your personal, academic or professional goals, rather than one need to build one or not.

Having a website on your name is a great way to make your network and grow on the ‘personal” as well as “professional” front, but, like all tools, it requires a certain investment of time to manage and use it skillfully.

I think almost everyone, at this point in time, should consider setting up their personal website. Let me tell you why.

Identity

A few years back, I created my first ever website “huntfordigital.com” on WordPress. As someone who has just stepped his feet into the online marketing world, it was a great feeling. I started working on it from the day 1 until and continue working until real-life and a relatively intense day job made me lose my interest. There was a time when I deleted my facebook account three times and I still look back in regret. But when I saw other people doing great with their careers just by blogging and contributing to the community, I remained pretty much unsettled by the revelation.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I encountered severe health issues and stress that took away the life from me. All that was left of me, my identity remained a dusty corner of nasty memories. This could be the story of another time though.

This is when I decided to do something about it. I vowed to revive my personal identity, career, and health which were the weak areas of my life. I made this website, started writing again, and took a pledge of doing all the things that bring out the best from me.

Knowledge/ Learning

A personal website is not only a great tool to revive your personal identity. But it can be great learning experience worth your time. There’s a lot you can do with a website than to fill it with content. When I made this website on Jekyll, I learned a lot more things. I have the good fortune of spending my large chunk of time playing with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I learned that it’s still possible for anyone to make a website without bearing any cost. I have deployed my site on Netlify, which is an amazing content management system. What’s more, you get to host your static pages on Netlify for FREE; with no hassle of purchasing those expensive hosting plans.

I’m by no means an expert web developer, but I can fix small issues on this site, all by myself. Isn’t it amazing? Yes, it is.

A sneak peek of a few things I learned about while building this website:

  • Static web pages: Wordpress is good, but Jekyll is a lot better. I’d tried my hands-on different static site generators like Hugo and Pelican in the past, but I decided to stick with Jekyll. I learned how to host a static website on gh-pages of Github.
  • Git: If you are a marketer, you hardly know the basics of Git. But I found it pretty amazing to deal with. Initially, it was a lot of pain to find out the bugs and fix them. But slowly it all paid off at the end. I learned basics Git commands and ways to roll-back the previous versions of the code.
  • HTML-CSS: Like I previously mentioned, HTML and CSS are something that I really love to play with. These kinds of stuff are an absolute necessity when you are running your blog on a static website. I’ve made some really nice layouts on my site and I’m slowly learning Javascript which I found really hard to grasp. But I think I’ve still a long way to go.
  • Website deployment with Netlify: One of the painful things of continuing with a static website is deployment. You write some code that breaks your website and you spend a large chunk of time figuring out what went wrong. I found Netlify as an amazing way to incorporate continuous integration and deployment to your static website. Just hit the publish button and Netlify would handle the rest of things. In case your website goes unpublish, you can read the deploy notes and figure out what’s wrong with the code.

The list goes on and on. While some of these are stuff that I don’t do when I am in the office, I am glad that I learned them. This is an amazing thing when you own a website. You learn things, which you don’t get to learn in your profession.

Practice

Practice makes a man better, and so does a website. When you work on your website, there will be tons of things that you would be implementing day by day. Although, you can’t remember doing all the stuff after a few days. There will be a time when these tips are on your fingertips and you can do your work more quickly. Initially, it took me a lot of time to fix even the smallest of things on my website. But as I continue to practice, I can fix things in a minute or five.

Parting words

The year 2019 is on the verge of ending. In a few days, we will be in the year 2020. No matter what situations the upcoming year brings to your life, don’t continue to embarrass yourself. Even worse, don’t wait. Start building your personal website. I am sure there will be tutorials online. In the next part of this series, I would mention a step-by-step walkthrough of building a website on Jekyll for free. Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletters.

Until then, Sayonara!

Rakshit Soral

Rakshit is an accidental Engineer turned Online Marketer who has established online presence of several businesses and clients. He devotes most of his time punching his keyboard, listening & singing songs, and swiping his smartphone. Follow him on Twitter @RakshitSoral





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