How to Start a Blog - Setup Your Blog in Under 20 minutes!
So, you’ve finally made up your mind and decided to start a blog, huh? Awesome!
More than just being a nice hobby, blogging allows us to express our thoughts and feelings, gives us a chance to help other people through sharing our personal experiences, gain popularity and authority as experts in our field, and you can even make some cash while you’re at it!
But it’s not just about wanting to start a blog; starting your blogging career the right way may determine if yours will be a successful blog with a stable and growing audience, or just another online diary that no one knows or cares about.
If you have zero experience in the blogging world, it’s a good idea to have someone who already knows how to blog help point you in the right direction to avoid making irreparable mistakes. However, not everyone knows or has access to a blogging expert.
This is the main reason I decided to create an easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly, comprehensive guide to help anyone start a blog without knowing HTML or having to purchase expensive courses or go through sleep-inducing tutorials. With this guide, you’ll learn how to make a blog the right way, and get it up and running in 5 simple steps.
How to Start a Blog in 5 Simple Steps:
This guide is designed to help you get started right away and on the right foot. Having started several blogs myself and having helped others to do the same, I’ve come to learn what the most common errors to be made are; sometimes, these mistakes discourage people from continuing with their blogging journey before it even really gets started. If you follow this guide, this won’t happen to you.
To make this work, you have to do your part!
Okay, so I’ve done my part by organizing all these ideas and putting them together into a comprehensive guide that will help you setup your self-hosted blog without making the usual beginner mistakes. However, so that you get it right the first time, you’re going to have to take the time to sit down and study this guide from top to bottom. This length of this article is roughly 4,000, so it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to go through every step thoroughly.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive right in!
How to Create a Blog - Detailed Guide
Step #1: Choose the Right Blogging Platform for your Needs
A lot of people seem to think that the first thing they should think about when planning out their blog is its design… wrong! The first thing you’ll need to figure out is which blogging platform you’re going to create your blog on.
This is by no means an easy choice, there are a bunch of blogging platforms out there! Just to name a few, you can create a blog on WordPress, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, and many other blogging platforms!
Notwithstanding, nearly 30% of the internet is powered by a single monster: WordPress. This means that around 75 million websites are using WordPress today. Personally, I have chosen WordPress as my content management system (CMS) for all of the blogs and sites I own.
What’s the big deal with WordPress, anyway?
Why are so many people managing their sites with WordPress? Well, here are just a few reasons:
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some great blogging platforms out there. However, in my experience, WordPress comes on top by far due to its freedom, flexibility, and reliability. Thus, I absolutely recommend that beginners start out with WordPress to make things a lot easier for them.
WHAT ABOUT FREE BLOGGING PLATFORMS?
A lot of tutorials out there will teach you how to start a blog for free, but if you want more than just a personal blog, meaning that you want to learn how to start a blog and make money, a free blog just won’t cut it.
Self-hosting your blog means you have absolute control over your website and its content.
Don’t just take my word for it! Try and find a serious, successful blogger whose web address is something like “www.myblog.freeblog.com” rather than “www.myblog.com”. Good luck with that!
Registering your own domain means you’ll be able to have a professional domain name which reflects your image and brand.
But wait —there’s more! Here are a few other reasons why free blogging platforms will give you more problems than solutions:
It’s worth mentioning that WordPress offers both options: free, and self-hosted platforms. The free blogging platform (with the above limitations) is WordPress.com, and the self-hosted platform is WordPress.ORG.
I remember I thought it would be harmless to start out with a free blogging platform and then move to a self-hosted one as my blog grew bigger. Big mistake! The migration implied a lot of technical headaches I could’ve easily avoided if I had just started out with a self-hosted blog. Thus, if you want to learn how to start a successful blog from the very beginning, I strongly recommend that you start out with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Trust me, it’ll be easier and less expensive in the long run if you do it this way. And if you decide to take my advice, I can even get you a discount with the coupon code I’m including with this tutorial.
Finding the Right Domain and Web Hosting Provider for Your Personal Blog
You’ll need the following two things in order to setup your self-hosted blog with a personalized domain name:
You’ll need a hosting service to store all the files that your website will need. These files can be your blog posts, images, blog title images, audios, etc. Another important thing to note is that, without proper web hosting, you won’t be able to have a custom domain name.
A decent web hosting package will cost anywhere between $3-15/month. I also have a special 70% coupon code for you below, should you decide to go with my recommended hosting provider.
A website’s domain name is basically its URL address. It’s what people will type in their web browser’s address bar to visit your blog and where you will point your links when you want people to check out your content. For instance, Tesla Motors’ domain name is www.tesla.com; for your domain name, you can choose what goes between the “www.” and the “.com”, so if my blog’s name is My Blog, my domain name could be www.MyBlog.com. You get the idea, right?
Investing in a web hosting service and a personalized domain name represents a small investment, but the impact it will have for your long-term success is huge. Remember this when choosing a hosting and domain provider (both things are usually offered in a package).
Who Should I Choose for my Web Hosting + Domain Package?
This will depend on the service provider’s price:value ratio. But what really matters when talking about web hosting? Two things:
This is the time your website will be available to the public. While 99.9% might sound like a good figure —it’s not. You want to have your site up and running 24/7, 100% of the time, that is.
Page Load Speed
This is the time it’ll take to load your blog. You want this to be as little as possible.
Today’s market offers thousands of options for web hosting. Most of them offer pretty much the same web hosting + domain name packages at very similar prices. This means the search for the best deal could get a bit hectic. Good news is that I’ve already done the homework to make it a lot easier for you to find a reliable provider for your first personal blog.
Keep in mind that my goal here is to save you the trouble I went through before I finally learned how to start a successful blog. This only came after several nights of research and headaches trying to restore things, all just to learn how to start a website from scratch properly. I’ve tried and tested the most prominent providers in the web hosting world, the likes of GoDaddy, BlueHost, iPage, InMotion… you name it, I’ve tried it!
After all this, there’s only one company I feel comfortable recommending to people who want to start a website the right way and save money on domain names and web hosting, and that’s www.HostGator.com.
The main reason I recommend HostGator to people who want to learn how to create a blog is that this company has shown genuine interest in helping others to start their blogging careers rapidly and seamlessly.
But it gets even better…
Given the fact that I’m a long-time HostGator customer, they now allow me to share a sweet deal with my readers.
Normally, you’d have to pay around $10/month for a fair plan with a premium hosting company; however, because you’re reading this tutorial on how to make a blog, I can get you the same for just $2.92/month.
That’s a juicy 72% discount off a great hosting plan that you won’t ever need to change! Just use the code “STARTBLOG” at checkout.
Note: The discount codes we’re sharing with you work when you click through any of the links on this tutorial. Because we’ve been loyal customers of the companies we recommend, they’ll compensate us for the referral (at no extra charge to you, of course). So, you get a killer discount for a great service, and we’ll receive a commission for the referral. Win-win!
Like with everything else, this opportunity won’t last forever!
If you want to take advantage of this exclusive deal, you’ll need to click on the link below before October 2018.
I’ll be blunt: this is the sweetest deal you’ll find for blog hosting on the web. You’ll get reliable hosting with unlimited storage and gain loads of valuable blogging experience for as little as $2.92/month! I know… it’s insane.
What’s the big deal with HostGator, anyway?
When it comes to uptime and page load speed, I haven’t found anything better than HostGator. The numbers below don’t lie!
With outstanding performance and great ease of use, HostGator is without a doubt the best hosting company for bloggers who are just starting out.
What’s more, HostGator will also throw in a Free SSL certificate with any of their hosting packages! This is something that will mark your site as trustworthy in the eyes of visitors (as well as Google)! Keep in mind that not many web hosts offer this with all their hosting packages.
If your blog has an SSL certificate, your site’s URL will begin with HTTPS before the domain name and will be marked as “Secure” along with a green padlock at the beginning of the address bar in a web browser.
In other words, if you choose HostGator, your website will look 100% safe from the very first day.
Of course, if you don’t like HostGator for some reason, you can go with another web hosting company that provides fast and reliable service, as well as unlimited storage and bandwidth. This will save you a lot of trouble in the future!
Okay! Now that we’ve gotten the basics of blogging platforms out of the way, we can actually begin setting up your blog to prepare it for launch!
Step #2: How to Setup a WordPress Blog on Your Own Domain
By the time you get to the end of this step, you’ll have learned how to setup a WordPress blog on your very own domain name and will be ready to start blogging away!
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
I’ll assume that, by this time, you will have already chosen your preferred blogging platform. If you don’t yet have a hosting package or a domain name, don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a moment.
If for some strange reason you choose not to go wiht HostGator, simply choose another hosting company; nonetheless, I can’t guarantee that they’ll be as good. Either way, the registration and setup process won’t be all that different.
One thing I should point out is that some hosting providers don’t offer the convenient “one-click WordPress install” feature. If so, check out this guide to learn how to install WordPress manually. This is not recommended for beginners!
Alright, without further adue, here’s the process to setup your self-hosted WordPress blog with your domain name:
1. Visit HostGator.com and click on “Start Your WordPress Blog”.
Keep in mind that I have a sweet 72% OFF discount for you to get premium hosting for as little as $2.92 per month (normal price is $10.95)!
Simply click on the button below to have the STARTBLOG code applied to your order automatically:
Remember, this killer discount will expire on October 2018!
2. Choose a Great Domain Name for your Website
Have you already purchased a domain name? If you haven’t, it might be a good idea to read our post on how much a domain name costs in actuality.
If you already own a domain name, type it in the appropriate box and tick the I Own this Domain box. Then, just scroll down to the next step.
But, how do you choose a good domain name for your blog?
Choosing an inadequate domain name is a very common mistake that many beginner bloggers make. Ensure that you choose a domain name that meets all of the following:
- Your domain name should be original and describe your brand — The name you choose will represent you and what you’re all about. Give this enough time and creativity, but don’t let it keep you from moving on. The end-result should defenitely be something you’re excited about, though.
- It should be easy to remember — While originality is highly important, you should stay away from long names, names that are hard to spell or that are full of dashes. Which of these names would have more chances of sticking in your head: “www.gardening-tools-in-belleview-51.com” or “www.B51Gardening.com”?
- It should relay trust — Beware of dodgy domain extensions. Things like “.club”, or “.rocks” are far less popular than the usual extensions like “.com” or “.net” and people are less likely to trust sites with those extensions.
Once you’ve chosen a great domain name, type it in the box and choose the extension you want. Click Next and wait for the site to tell you if it’s available; if it isn’t, you’ll have to choose another one. HostGator will display suggestions similar to the name you want. Remember to choose names that end in “.com”, ”.net”, or ”.org”.
3. Select a Plan that Adapts to Your Needs
The Hatchling plan is great for beginners as it has everything you need to setup a WordPress blog. If you decide you need more features, there’s always the option to upgrade later.
4. Complete the Registration
Fill in your contact and billing info and customize your package if you want to. Remember to apply the discount code “STARTBLOG” to get your juicy 72% OFF discount. See the image below for a few add-ons that would be great, but aren’t entirely required at this point.
5. Login to Your Control Panel and Install WordPress
Wait for your confirmation email from HostGator. Open it and read it to know how to log-in to your control panel. If you chose HostGator, installing WordPress will be done in a single click! Here’s the process:
- Access your control panel using the information that HostGator sent you via email.
- You should see a message that says “Get Started with WordPress Today” at the top. Click on this message.
- If you don’t see the WordPress message at the top of the page, scroll down to the Software & Services section and click on Quick Install. Find WordPress on the left sidebar section at the top of the page.
- You’ll be taken to Mojomarketplace.com to install the WordPress platform (yes, this is normal), and then to a screen where you can Install or Import WordPress. Choose Install.
- Click on Install WordPress and wait for the installation to be completed.
6. Check out Your Brand New WordPress Blog
After you’ve successfully installed WordPress on your site, you’ll receive an email with your login info and a URL to access the admin area.
Click on the admin URL and login with the provided credentials. Remember that you can always access your blog’s admin area by adding “/wp-admin” to your domain name (for instance, “www.51fashion.com/wp-admin”.
Pat yourself on the back. You have now learned how to create a blog with WordPress. You successfully purchased a hosting package, registered a domain, and installed WordPress by yourself! It wasn’t that hard now, was it?
Keep on reading to learn how to make your blog look great and publish your first post.
Step #3: Design a Visually-Appealing Blog
In this step, you’ll learn the basics of WordPress, along with:
Customizing your WordPress blog is easy and lots of fun.
REMINDER: Whenever you need to edit your blog, log-in by adding “/wp-admin” to your domain name on your web browser’s address bar, and entering the credentials you received via email from HostGator or the hosting company you chose.
Themes and Layouts: Personalizing the Design of Your Blog
In order to configure the way your site looks, WordPress uses something called WordPress Themes, which are basically web design templates. To change the design and layout of your blog, all you have to do is install a new theme. Simple as that!
You will have over 2,000 free themes created by professional web designers to choose from to decide how you want your blog to look. There are also a lot of premium (paid) themes that feature more customization options and higher-quality designs. To check out some amazing premium themes, you can visit Themeforest.net.
How to Find and Install the Right Theme
The first time you log in, you’ll be taken to an admin dashboard like this one:
Hover above Appearance in the sidebar of your WP dashboard, then select and click on the Themes option.
You’ll be shown a number of pre-installed themes to choose from. If you still want more options, click on Add New (at the top of the page).
Next, you’ll be shown different themes sorted by Featured, Popular, and Latest. Next to these tabs, you’ll also find the Feature Filter option. This last one is a really cool filter that allows you to filter the themes you see by color schemes, specific layouts, and advanced built-in features.
Configure the filter to your liking and click on the Apply Filters button on the top left. You also have the option of searching by keyword:
Have fun with the Feature Filter until you find a theme that you’re happy with. Then, click on the Install button to have it installed on your website. Wait for WordPress to complete the installation and then click on Activate on the following screen.
How to Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines
There are a few things you can do to optimize your blog for search engines. Be aware of two things that search engines DO NOT like:
Unattractive, Cluttered URLs — Avoid URLs that have unnecessary and irrelevant information; URLs should be short and sweet. You can configure this on WordPress by going to Settings > Permalinks in the WP dashboard sidebar, choosing Post Name under Common Settings. Don’t forget to save your settings!
Spam Comments — There are lots of people who will plague your posts with generic comments to advertise their products or services if you let them. Luckily, WordPress gives you the option to review and approve/reject any comment before it goes “live” on your site. Simply go to Settings > Discussion in the WP Dashboard sidebar menu and thick the following options:
Step #4: Adding Content to Your Blog
If you’ve come this far, you should already have a self-hosted WordPress blog up and running with your own domain name. Your should have already customized the look of your blog with a theme that you like, as well.
Congratulations! You ought to be proud of yourself for having done so much and getting this far on your own.
Now that you have a fully working blog, you’ll need to fill it up with loads of great content. In this step, you’ll learn how to write and illustrate a post in WordPress so that you can create your very first post.
In this section, you will learn the following:
Blogging with WordPress
CREATING A NEW POST
Select Posts > Add New from the WordPress sidebar menu to create a new blog post.
You will then be taken to a screen like this one:
Think of a great title for your blog post and start writing your article in the provided space. Use the formatting toolbar to ensure that your content looks neat and attractive.
To your far right, you’ll find options to save your post as a draft, preview it before publishing, change its visibility to private or public, schedule it to be published at a later date, or send your post to the trash. Configure your settings and then push the blue button to publish, schedule or save your post as a draft.
After you’ve published a post, you can find it by going to Posts > All Posts on the right-hand WordPress sidebar menu.
Now that you’ve got a post, let’s have a look at a few things you can do to make it look more attractive:
HOW TO ADD IMAGES TO YOUR WORDPRESS POST
Adding images is as easy as clicking on the Add Media button below the post’s title box. Ensure that you’ve left your cursor exactly where you want the image to be inserted or you’ll have to move it after inserting it.
On the next screen, click on the Upload Files tab and then on the Select Files button.
Locate the file in your computer and double-click it to upload it to your blog. Once uploaded, select the image you want to insert and click on the Insert Into Post button on the lower right-hand corner.
HOW TO ADD LINKS TO A WORDPRESS POST
You’ll want to associate your blog with trustworthy sites by sharing and mentioning their content in your posts; inserting links to authoritative websites with great content is an excellent way to do this.
Select the text where the link will be inserted and click on the chain link button in the formatting toolbar to insert a link. The text where the link is inserted is called “anchor text”.
You’ll get a pop-up where you’ll be asked to provide the URL to the content you want to link out to. You can choose to have the link open in a new tab or not (I recommend checking this box in order to keep readers on your page).
If the content is related to the topic you’re discussing in your topic and the site you’re linking out to is trustworthy, leave the Nofollow box unchecked.
If you want to add an internal link, meaning you want to link to content that exists in your blog, then use the Search bar to find that page or post.
Once you’re done configuring your link, click on the Add Link button to insert the link into your content.
HOW TO FORMAT YOUR WORDPRESS POST
You’ll want your content to be easily scannable and readable. To do this, you should separate sections with subheadings and bold the most important parts of your content.
Before writing your heading, choose its format by clicking on the drop-down menu that says “Paragraph” in the formatting toolbar, and then selecting the type of heading you want.
If you want to change text that you’ve already written into a heading, select it, and then choose its formatting.
Get familiarized with the formatting toolbar to take full advantage of its features. Most icons are somewhat intuitive and you can figure out what they are by taking a close look at them. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Word or Google Docs, this will not be anything new to you.
The not-so-obvious basic functions you need to know right now are the following:
Step #5: Grow Your Blog
So, now you know how to start a blog and the basics to create content for it. Now, let’s make your blog a successful one! This is the part where beginners struggle the most and it requires learning several strategies.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned several techniques that can help any blogger learn how to start a successful blog. I decided to put all these ideas into a series of posts to make it easier for beginners to start blogging. You can check those resources out here.
You will definitely want to create a proper Contact and About Me page. The About Me page tends to be the most visited page on a blog, and the Contact page is so that anyone can contact the person behind the blog they’re visiting.
You’ll also want to…
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A website is usually just a type of online brochure used to provide static information about a product or service. In contrast, a blog is frequently updated with articles; thus, making blogs more favorable for social media interaction. Also, websites usually have more features than your average blog.
Sure, they can be considered social media. Mainly, because (most) blogs allow commenting and social interaction. Nonetheless, analytics software won’t count blog traffic as social media interaction.
Not at all! Not only are you reading a blog post right now, but the stats say that over 409 million people view more than 21.4 billion WordPress-hosted pages on a monthly basis. Seems pretty active to me.
WordPress, definitely. This blogging platform powers over 30% of the web and is trusted by renowned universities like Harvard, and associations like NASA. Oh, and did I mention it’s absolutely FREE?
If it’s a personal blog, your real name would be a good idea. Otherwise, try to have something that is short while reflecting what your blog is all about. Here’s an article to help you with this.
Write about something that you are passionate about and that is both popular and profitable. Popular topics are, cooking blogs, business blogs, blogging blogs (get it?…Okay, no…), healthy living blogs, etc. Here’s a good resource to help you pick attractive blog topics.
There are many ways to monetize your blog. These include affiliate marketing, selling advertising space, promoting products or services, selling digital products, and more! Check out this article on How to Monetize Your Blog.