Want to know how to start a blog? If so, I’ve developed a step-by-step guide for you to follow below.
Want a pdf of this guide? Click here to download.
I love blogging and I believe that anyone who wants to start a blog should. I have made money from blogging to pay off bills and plan on turning this into a full-time gig. If you’re looking to start a blog for pleasure or profit, I show you how to do so – step by step.
If you have always wanted to start a blog, there’s no better time than the present. Starting a blog is easy and should be done with as little stress as possible. Trust me – you’ll have to spend so much of your time writing and pushing out content, you won’t have the energy to bother with the technical aspects.
How to Start a Blog
Choose a Blogging Platform
I suggest choosing a blogging platform before you even determine the name of your blog. Doing so will make things ten times easier. All blogs are built on a platform, think of it as being the frame or the walls of a house.
There are free options such as Blogger and WordPress.com as well as paid ones such as WordPress.org. With all things free, there are limitations, however. Blogger is owned by Google, but just like WordPress.com, you don’t own it. What’s worse, you’ll get a long URL that looks something like http://www.yourblogname.blogspot.com, which no one will remember.
Say ‘Yes” to a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
If you want to start a blog and especially if you want to turn it into a business, you need to have a self-hosted blog. I always recommend getting your blog self-hosted and installing your blog on the WordPress.org platform. It’s not free, but the cost is minimal and so very worth it. You own it and no one can tell you what to do with it.
If you are going to make money from blogging, you definitely need to get a self-hosted one. Not only is it more professional, but let’s be real here, who’s going to take you seriously if you’re hosting on a free platform? How do you expect to attract sponsors if you are unwilling to make an investment of less than $100 a year? You spend more than that at Starbucks.
What’s worse, some of these free platforms limit the number and types of ads and affiliate links you can put on your blog. This becomes a problem if you decide to make a little money on the side from your blog. In addition, the transition is not so effortless as they’ll have you to believe. I have seen many bloggers outgrow their free platforms to ultimately move on to a self-hosted one.
So take it from me, leave the free platforms for the hobby bloggers when you start a blog.
Purchase a Domain and Hosting Plan
Now that you have determined which blogging platform you’re going to use (hopefully you chose WordPress.org), you’re going to need your own domain and hosting.
Your domain is the URL address your visitors will type to find you. I suggest brainstorming a few ideas first before settling on one domain name.
The hosting is where your blog will reside. You will need to purchase hosting. There are many hosting providers out there and you can save a lot of money, especially when you just start your blog. I recommend purchasing a domain through Hostgator.
How to Sign up for Hostgator
Go to Hostgator using my link here and click on the green “Get Started Now” button to begin and move on to the next screen.
Select the plan you would like to purchase. You have the option of the hatchling, baby, and business plans. If you intend to have only one domain and one website, you will be fine with the hatchling plan. If you think you may have multiple websites, you might want to purchase the baby plan.
1. Enter a domain name you would like to get hosting for. Have a domain already? You can still use that one with your new hosting.
2. Continue and select your hosting package. You can pay month to month, but your biggest discount is with the 36-month plan.
3. Enter your billing information.
4. Select additional services. Additional options may be checked, but you may uncheck them before purchasing. These are options that you might want to purchase, but are not necessary.
5. Enter the coupon code FREEUPGRADE3, if this block is blank (usually it’s not).
6. Review your order details.
Click “Checkout Now” to purchase your domain and hosting.
In a few moments, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access your hosting cpanel.
Once you’ve purchased a domain and hosting, you will need to install WordPress onto your blog. WordPress.org was developed as a blogging platform, so it’s no surprise that it’s the top choice for bloggers. Though there are many others out there, I believe this is the easiest platform to set up.
Please note that there are two WordPress platforms:
1) Hosted: WordPress.com and
2) Self-Hosted WordPress.org.
These are the instructions to install WordPress. org onto your self-hosted website.
You can install WordPress on your blog through your hosting provider’s control panel. It takes only a few minutes to install and then you’re done. One click install and you don’t even need to know coding. It’s free, but it only works on self-hosted sites.
Go to Hostgator.com and click on the “Customer Portal” upper right-hand corner to login.
2. Login to your hosting cpanel with the credentials. Check your email if you forgot to write these down when you signed up. Click on the “Hosting” tab.
3. Scroll down to click on “Launch Quick Install” (there’s also an option to go to WordPress directly as well).
4. On the next screen, fill out the details for your new blog.
5. Next, select the domain you would like to install WordPress on from the drop-down menu. This is easy if you only have one domain.
6. On the next screen, enter the information for site, such as the name and admin information. I highly recommend not to use “admin” or the complete name of your blog as your username. Make it easy for you to remember, but difficult for hackers to figure out.
Read and accept the terms and conditions and click the green “Install WordPress” button.
The next screen will let you know the installation was a success and you are now ready to design your WordPress site.
Choose a WordPress Theme
If you are not a website designer, don’t fret – you can have professional looking and beautiful theme for your website. A theme is pretty much the design of your blog. Since I love the house and home references, think about the paint and the furniture within your home.
The theme is how your blog will look and how it differs from the next blog.
As always, there are free and paid options when it comes to determining which WordPress theme to choose. You can go to your WordPress dashboard and find a free theme through their database.
There are literally thousands to choose from and I would suggest that you browse to get a sense of the look and feel you would like for your blog to have.
However, as with all things that are free, there’s a catch. Free themes may look pretty, but they often lack the functionality you will need to have your blog make money for you (if you so choose to make money from it). You will notice that even the free themes have paid options to upgrade to.
You need a premium theme to have a professional looking blog. And I recommend Genesis from Studio Press.
I build all of my blogs, including Living Simply Fabulous, on the Genesis Framework using child themes to change the look and feel of your site. Genesis is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to WordPress themes and you might have noticed that many of your favorite bloggers use it (check their footer).
In order to use any of the child themes from Studio Press, you must purchase and install the Genesis Framework (the parent theme) first.
The great thing, however, is that the Genesis Framework is a one time purchase. So if you get tired of how your blog looks, you can purchase another child theme. You can purchase the Genesis Framework and a child theme of your choice here.
Currently, I am using Parallax Pro from Studio Press, but there are much more to choose from on their site. You can purchase the Genesis Framework and a child theme from Studio Press through my affiliate link here.
If you’re a programmer, then I give you permission to skip this part – however, if you’re like most of us you’re not. You could hire a programmer to write code for your website to make it do so many awesome things, such as install a pop-up box asking new visitors to join your newsletter, but you don’t need to. That’s too expensive and so unnecessary, especially at this level of blogging.
The next best thing to your own in-house programmer is to install plugins to your WordPress blog.
Plugins add functionality to your website without you hiring a programmer or having to know code yourself. If you want your blog to act and behave a certain way, 9 times out 10 there’s a plugin for that.
Many plugins are free (Yippeee!) with most of them offering premium upgrade options. Plugins are a godsend and without them, my blogs would look a mess.
I have different plugins I use throughout my blogs, however, there are a few that I recommend and use on each one of my blogs (see below).
Adding plugins to your website will add to your load time, so don’t bog your site down with too many plugins. After you become comfortable with WordPress, you can find the plugins that work best with your site and make changes accordingly.
How to Install Plugins
Go to your Dashboard in WordPress and click on Plugins and Add New. You can either upload a plugin you have downloaded or find one using the search bar.
I suggest you install the following plugins on your blog:
(Please note if the plugin will work or is compatible with your theme. If you find that a plugin causes your blog to crash or otherwise act funky, then you will want to find a comparable, but compatible one).
- Yoast SEO – helps you to create SEO friendly posts
- Google Analytics – not necessarily a plugin, but you need to have this on your blog nonetheless
- Pretty Links – allows you to turn ugly affiliate links to a much prettier one
- Contact Form 7 with Captcha – installs a contact form for your readers to get in touch with you
- Jetpack – Allows WordPress.org users to use some of the features available to WordPress.com users
- Akismet – Must have. Blocks a lot of spam from ever reaching you
- WP Editorial Calendar – Helps you to schedule your posts to go live, leaving you time to do other things.
- W3 Cache – Helps to speed up your blog, which will improve reader experience
- No Follow All External Links – Necessary if you plan on using affiliate links throughout your blog
One additional thing to note, plugins can open the door to hackers. Yes, there are many people out there with nothing better to do than to crash your site and mess up all your hard work. Their goal is to steal and sell your personal information. One way they get in is through plugins. To minimize your risk, just make sure to update plugins whenever one comes available. These updates often include bug fixes that will help your blog to run more efficiently.
There you have it. This is how you start a blog from scratch. Very easy.
I’ve been putting together WordPress blogs for awhile now, so it’s pretty easy for me. If you find it difficult or otherwise don’t want to bother with it, order my WordPress Set-Up Service here.
Blogging Ebooks to Help You Get Started
The reason you wanted to start a blog was to share content with the world, right? Well, start your first blog post and tell everyone why you blog and how you can help them to enrich their lives.
Hopefully, you are writing about something that you’re passionate about because if you’re not, your blog posts will get stale, real quick. Finding a balance between what you want to write about and what other people will want to read, is key to a successful blog. Yes, it is important to talk about your daily life, but how can your experiences help someone else?
Before I go, I want to point you in the direction of some really great ebooks out there on blogging as a business. These are ebooks I have read and found helpful when beginning to blog for a living. I always thought I knew enough about blogging to make it on my own, but I learned quickly that I didn’t. If you want to turn your blog into a business and start making serious money, you need to learn from those who are already doing it.
Check Out: 5 Blogging Books for Newbies
I hope you have found this post to be helpful in showing you how to start a blog. You can check out my Blogging Resources to help you in your blogging journey. I’ve included all of the tools I use and recommend if you’re serious about blogging and want to make serious money from it.