This isn't the type of post I usually write, but it's a topic I get asked about regularly: how to start a blog. I finally decided it was time to sit down and document the process of how to start a blog! It's way easier than you think.
Let me tell you about myself first. What qualifies ME to tell YOU how to start a blog? Well . . . I've been blogging for over 8 years now. Years ago was writing on Livejournal about my life, and then I moved to Blogger to take my love of crafts to the general public – and finally, to WordPress! Nearly four years ago, I quit my marketing job to do this full-time.
Now I'm making over six figures . . . just by blogging!
ALL of my income is from blogging – no trust funds here, ha! I make money a lot of different ways (I'll go into that in a future post), but ad revenue is a big one. But before you can start making money blogging via ad revenue, you need a blog!
How to Start a Blog
So where do you start? Well, I recommend that you start your blog on WordPress.org. All of my sites are on WordPress, and I use it because I have a lot of freedom and the most options to customize my blogs. I LOVE WordPress! WordPress is a platform that requires a web host – someone to store your blog information. This requires a small cost per month, but it is SO worth it in the long run!
The first two steps you need to take to start a blog are selecting a domain name and then choosing a web host.
Select a Domain Name
This is the part in starting in a blog that most people struggle with in my experience! If you have NO ideas, I always recommend brainstorming with friends and/or family that know you best. Tell them what you are interested in doing and have a brainstorming session with pizza and beverages. It's actually pretty fun! Another option: use one of the generators below to help you.
Once you've selected a domain name, you'll need to register it so that the word knows it's yours. I always register my domain names at GoDaddy. Simply create an account, search for your domain name, and then purchase it. I'd go with less than 5 years at the beginning to make sure that you love blogging and are going to continue with it. You can always extend it later!
Choosing a Web Host
There are a lot of web hosting companies out there, but for a WordPress site, Bluehost should be at the top of your list. Bluehost is the only hosting service officially recommended by WordPress and has been the number-one recommended hosting service for their platform for almost 10 years. Here are some reasons to choose Bluehost:
- Premium customer service, reliability and usability
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Custom-built servers to provide the most stable and reliable hosting environment
- Quickly get started with our one-click WordPress install provided by MOJO Marketplace
- Expert, in-house technical support provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Unlimited websites, email accounts, and domains – all on one account at an affordable price
- No gimmicks, no contracts. Enjoy the comfort of a 30-day money back guarantee and the option to cancel at any time.
And to sweeten the deal even more, if you sign up through this tutorial, you’ll get a special offer of shared hosting at $3.95/month for 36 months, as well as a free domain name for a year!
Now that you're ready to set up your hosting account, just follow the steps below! You'll need your domain name and then a credit card for payment ready to go before you begin.
Set Up Your Hosting Account – a Step-by-Step Guide
You'll have to pick a service plan. If you're just starting with a blog, choose the lowest plan. Remember that you can always upgrade later!
2) This is where you enter your domain name. If you haven't purchased it yet, you can do it now. If you have, you will just have to go through a few extra steps to make sure you get your DNS pointed to Bluehost.
3) Fill in your personal information.
4) Select your hosting package. There are several options – 12, 24, and 36-month terms. The longer you go, the lower the monthly rate will be. The introductory rate of $3.95/month is for 36 months, but all the prices are amazingly reasonable.
You're probably wondering if you need any of the extras like Domain Security, etc. I would say wait on those services because you can always get them later. When you first start blogging, you can use a plugin called WordPress Backup to Dropbox to make sure your site is protected. Later you can pick something fancier to backup your site.
5) Enter your billing information and click “Next” to complete your purchase. This is another place where you can select special offers but I would wait. You can always add them on later. Oh, you'll have to create a password – make it strong. I have Bluehost generate my password.
Now that you are all signed up and are able to log into your account, you can get started installing WordPress! Isn't learning how to start a blog exciting?!
Installing WordPress – a Step-by-Step Guide
1) After your purchase you will be sent to this screen below. Since I'm giving you instructions, you can click “Skip this” below the blue boxes.
If you didn't receive this welcome screen, simply login here.
2) THEN go to the “cpanel” tab of your account.
Next you'll install WordPress. Even if you aren't a technical person, you can do this! Bluehost has worked hard to make this one of the easiest things for you to do! In the cpanel area of your hosting account, you'll click “Install WordPress” as shown below. It's an orange button in my account, but it's easily found.
3) This will open the installation window. Click on the green “Start” button that will start the WordPress installation process, which has a few easy steps.
4) Choose where you want to install WordPress, which should be the domain you created at the beginning (but can be any domain you like, actually). Next, click on “Check Domain,” which will make sure the domain is assigned and pointing to your account. You may get a warning that you are overwriting files, but as long as you don’t have another website built yet, you can check the box and continue.
5) Last step, you're almost there! Click Show Advanced Options. This section allows you to set up your own username and password for your WordPress install. IT is recommended to use a different username than “admin” and a very strong password. Make sure that the “Automatically create a new database for this installation” box is checked.
6) Read the terms and conditions, check the box indicating that you’ve done so, then click “Install Now.”
You'll see the progress, and then when it's complete the orange bar at the top will say “Your Install is Complete.”
7) Click “View Credentials” on the orange bar. Then down next to “Your WordPress install is finished” click “View” under Actions. This will give you your WordPress credentials below.
You are going to need these! Make sure to print this page or write it all down somewhere. You don't want to lose this information.
8) Click on the Admin URL to log in to WordPress. You can see mine above is http://www.testingamysaccount.com/wp-admin. You'll be taken to a screen that looks like this:
This is where you can login to the dashboard and then begin to customize your WordPress blog! Now, teaching you how to do that would be a whole other tutorial . . . but I will give you a few tips.
First of all, I would get a book like WordPress for Dummies. When you have specific questions, you can ask people or Google it. . . . but an overall book like WordPress for Dummies will be really helpful.
Secondly, I get most of my themes through Studiopress. I'm not a web designer and I like ALL of my themes to be on the Genesis framework. You'll learn what that means as you learn to use WordPress, but it makes it easy for non-coders to add stuff.
For example, my blog Washi Tape Crafts uses the Delightful Pro theme by Restored 316 Designs (see below). I did all of the customization myself using Lauren's instructions. It's not as hard as you might think! And honestly, I think playing around with this sort of stuff is fun.
Now that I've showed you how to start a blog – the power of blogging is in your hands!
You know how to start a blog. Are you ready?? Remember, if you sign up through this tutorial, you’ll receive a special offer of shared hosting at $3.95/month for 36 months, as well as a free domain name for a year! Have fun, good luck, and let me know any questions you might have in the comments.