How to Start a Successful Blog, Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide
UPDATE: Bluehost recently gave us a special discount for our readers! You can now set up your blog for just $2.95/month for 12 months! That’s less than $36/year! It also comes with a FREE domain name!
Why start a blog? 10 months ago, Lauren and I were just a couple frustrated young professionals looking to make money online and escape the 9-5. We were tired of chasing fleeting weekends and vacations that never lasted long enough.
In less than a year, we started our first blog (Avocadu.com) completely from scratch and turned it into a money-making machine. You can see our income reports, and they will show you that we average around $20,000/month with our little health and fitness blog.
It’s not just the money though. It’s what this blog has done for our LIFE that is most important. We can wake up every morning, have our coffee, and completely design our day.
We have been able to visit family more often and travel to countries like Nicaragua and Bali and still work while having fun! Today, we want to walk you through how to set up your first blog and get you on your way to designing your own life!
The following will be a step-by-step guide to creating the blog of your dreams and actually make money from it!
And trust us when we say this: If we can do it, ANYONE can!
Click here to start a blog on WordPress, then use the tutorial below for easy step-by-step directions.
In this article, we are going to talk about starting a blog the ONLY way you should – through Bluehost.
Well, they are CHEAP! You can start a blog with Bluehost for just $2.95/month when you sign up (that low price is through our link only!) .
That’s just under $36/year, AND you get a FREE domain name when you sing up through our link! This is so important at the beginning before you are making money to cover your expenses.
Bluehost is also incredibly easy to use. The process to start a blog can get a little confusing when you start talking about domain names, hosting packages, etc.
Our step-by-step tutorial below has images, and we even set up a new domain just to show you how it works.
Lastly, Bluehost also offers a complete guarantee on their hosting packages. If you sign up for 12 months or more (best pricing option) and decide that it’s not right for you, they will refund any portion of it that you have not used. There really is no risk.
Let me also just say that we didn’t initially start out with Bluehost. Our transition happened when we had an issue with another popular hosting company, Siteground. Basically, we had an unexpected influx of traffic from Pinterest, and our entire website shut down.
This cost us a TON of money in forgone sales, and we vowed that it would NEVER happen again. We got on the phone with Bluehost, and their awesome customer service team took care of everything for us! They are available by phone 24/7, and they take care of whatever issues you throw at them!
Also, this article is focused on a successful blog (or blog that actually makes some dolla dolla bills) and not a personal journal or diary blog. There are other resources out there for things like that (but not here).
On that note about starting a blog that actually makes money (who can afford to give out free content all day???)… Let’s talk briefly about free vs. self-hosted.
There are free blog hosting and free plans (think blogger.com), but there is also a reason why 99.9% of profitable blogs don’t run on them and why you should not use them…
- It looks incredibly sloppy.
- The customizations are limited.
- The websites are slow (there’s nothing more frustrating than a slow website).
- I personally know of ZERO successful entrepreneurs who use them.
Because of these glaring flaws, we are going to focus on self-hosting (think Bluehost) in this article, because that is the ONLY way a profitable blog will ever run.
The difference truly is only $2.95/month, so you can’t afford NOT to go with self-hosting!
Okay so this post is going to EPIC. It will walk you through how to do EVERYTHING. Make sure to save/pin this, and come back to it for later if you can’t finish everything today.
- Step #1. Select a Topic or Niche ($0)
- Step #2. Register a Domain Name ($0 with web host package)
- Step #3. Get a Web Host ($3-$5 per month)
- Step #4. Set up WordPress ($0)
- Step #5. Choose the Right WordPress Theme (Free – $80)
How to Start a Profitable Blog TODAY!
Before you get started, you want to make sure that you have your main topic and niche picked out.
Step #1. Select a Topic and Niche
Having a profitable blog isn’t about you, it’s about everyone else. That may be a little surprising…
You can start a blog just for fun, but most of the people here actually want to make some money from their blog. And if you want to make money from blogging, you need to help people and serve their needs first.
So which niche should you select?
Select one that you are comfortable with and that you enjoy talking about. Remember, blogging is just talking, but to a bigger audience of people… so don’t overthink it. If you have an interest, chase it and see how things go!
You can also check out our full post on How to Select a Blogging Niche if you need some more help.
After you’ve done that, or if you already have a blog name picked out, let’s get started!
Click here or the photo with our bright shining faces below to start the process, and then follow the step-by-step instructions below to get set up.
Step #2. Register a Domain Name.
The next step in the process of how to start a profitable blog is registering your domain name. Let’s answer a couple of questions that you may have at this point.
What exactly is a domain name?
A domain name is simply the address of the blog (also called a URL). For example, the domain of this website is: createandgo.co.
How do I select a good domain name?
If you’re having trouble coming up with a blog name, just remember not to overcomplicate it. Your name matters very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s the content that you provide that truly matters.
For example, our other blog is called Avocadu. With 4 syllables, it’s hard to pronounce and doesn’t quite roll off the tongue easily. Everyone goes “Avocado?” No… But it’s still VERY profitable, because our name just doesn’t matter that much. People remember our CONTENT!
If you need some more help on selecting a blog name, we have a great article on how to come up with a blog/domain name in 30 minutes or less here: How to Select a Great Blog Name
How do I get a domain name?
Well, you can get it for FREE through Bluehost, and you can get it at the same time that you set up hosting. So we recommend that, because it makes it as easy as possible for you.
To own your own domain name, you have to get it from a registrar. A common one you may have heard of is godaddy.com. There are lots of registrars out there to choose from, and this process can be quite frustrating. Most people complicate this process for beginners. Our goal is to make this as simple as possible for you.
So the answer? Bluehost! Let’s just do it now and get it over with, right!? Otherwise you have to worry about pointing your domain name to the correct servers, etc. and that gets complicated! So we’re going to set up the domain name below at the same time as the hosting.
Step #3. Get a Hosting Package.
Wait…. What’s hosting?
Every domain name needs a host where the domain is run from. Basically, a host is a server or other computer that can be accessed from the Internet.
You need one for your website! There are lots of hosting companies out there that own hundreds/thousands of those things where you can run your website from. Again, this can quickly get overly complex, but the best hosting company we have used and what most bloggers recommend is Bluehost.
When starting out, getting a domain name from the same place where you host makes everything 10,000x simpler.
And again, the domain name is FREE if you sign up for 12 months with Bluehost. So let’s get that domain and hosting set up! What’s a step-by-step process without an actual demonstration? Here we are going to walk you through every step we took to register the domain name: paleoeatz.com
First, go to BlueHost.com, if you haven’t already.
We also have the steps below outlined in a video version for some of you that learn better visually. The video can be found on our Youtube Channel, Blog and Go, below.
Make sure you have Bluehost pulled up in a separate window before beginning the tutorial.
. For more free blogging tips and tricks from the experts, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel! After you click the button to get started on the homepage, you will then see a list of pricing options.
Select the basic package for $2.95 per month (circled in red above). You won’t need anything more than that when you’re starting out.
We also want to point out that the CHEAPEST pricing with your blog is offered through signing up for 36 months. If you opt for a 12 or 24-month plan, it will be a little more expensive. It’s not a huge difference, but we do recommend the 36-month plan for a couple of reasons:
- You aren’t locked into a contract anyway. Bluehost offers a guarantee, and you can cancel your plan at any time. So you might as well go for option that saves you the most money.
- Signing on for a longer plan represents a commitment you are making to your blog and yourself. Commit to making this a long-term deal that will reap you TONS of rewards over the next few years!
Enter your domain under “new domain” (you can see where we inserted the paleoeatz.com), and hit next. Then you will land on a longer page that looks like this at the top:
Fill in your contact information. You can fill in the business name if you have not settled on one yet. Now scroll down, and you will see a page like this:
Bluehost, while we do love them, is going to have a lot of unnecessary things “checked.” The only thing to consider grabbing is “Domain Privacy Protection,” which protects your email and phone number from being released to the public. This is optional, and so is the account plan you choose.
However, as a new blogger the basic plan is only $1.50. Your page should look like this:
Keep in mind that you can add any other domain you want to this same hosting package for $10 later. You are buying the ability to use Bluehost’s amazing servers, and they are giving you the domain for free. Since you need hosting to run a profitable website, this is the best option around.
Now enter your billing information below.
Hit submit, and congrats! You now own you very own website!!!!!
Not too painful right???
Step #4. Set Up WordPress on Your Site.
Login to your Bluehost account, and click on “hosting” from the top menu bar. Scroll down until you see this…
Click on the Install WordPress icon, and a popup will appear that looks like this:
Select your domain from the dropdown menu, and click “submit.” Now Bluehost will take care of the entire installation process, and when it is finished, you will be taken to a menu that looks like this…
At this point, do not exit out, make sure to save this information, and click “configure your password.”
Complete the setup, and you will be able to log into your WordPress website! Now remember that information you saved? You want to open up your LOGIN URL in your browser. When you do that, you will be take to a page that looks like this:
Fill in your name and password, and you have now logged into your WordPress website! Now it’s time to select a theme and make your website look awesome!
Now, make it stylish, and customize it.
We need to start this off with a bit of a warning. When learning any new software or platform, the beginning can be daunting and confusing. It’s going to take a few weeks working in WordPress and playing around with it for things to start becoming familiar.
This is the stage where a lot of people get frustrated, and a lot of self doubt comes up. This is normal and something every blogger before you has gone through.
Lauren was a CPA, and I was a personal trainer with NO coding experience or anything close to an “understanding” of how the system worked.
Trust that you are going to stick with it and learn the system. Wordpress is the most POWERFUL blogging resource on the web today and gives people who have no experience coding the ability to create beautiful websites. Commit to learning the ins and outs of WordPress, and it will serve you very well in the future.
And if every day you focus on creating awesomeness, in 2 months time, you’ll be shocked at how proficient you will be! Once logged into your WordPress website, follow the instructions on this page, and make sure to click ”yes.”
WordPress will walk you through the basics of starting your website and start to get you familiar with the platform. At some point, you will see the back of the dashboard which will look similar to this:
Click “appearances” and then “themes.” It’s now time to find a great theme for your blog and start making it look how you want!
Step #5. Choose a Theme.
Your blog is going to need a theme, and you are going to have to decide on the right path for you based on your financial situation and plan for the blog. You have 4 real options for finding the right theme:
- Get a free theme or use the WordPress basic themes.
- Use the one we used to start our 10k per month blog.
- Find a great one by “spying” on your competitors.
- Subscribe to a theme club.
Option 1: Get a free theme or use the WordPress basic themes.
Free themes are a great place to start if you’re a beginner blogger, but they will lack some of the tools a paid theme gives you. If you have the extra $50 – $100 to invest, then go for a paid theme.
If you free stretched at this point, we get it. Rock a free theme for a month or so and get used to the platform. You can use one of the free themes WordPress has pre-installed under the “appearances” and “themes” tabs. Just click customize to switch themes.
There are also a ton of free themes, and here’s a great list of them that you can try: https://colorlib.com/wp/free-wordpress-themes/
If there are free themes, why would I ever want a paid theme?
Let’s rap, kids. Paid themes are often much more powerful and customizable than free themes. This is because they will have an entire support staff dedicated to help you and making sure you succeed. They are also used by 95% of people running profitable blogs.
That being said, starting by playing around with some free themes is perfectly fine. It will get your feet wet and help you start better understanding WordPress.
Warning: There are lots of bloggers that recommend starting you blog with the Genesis Theme (the most powerful and fastest WordPress theme). These people are looking to get PAID, and anyone who remotely suggests that it is a good basic theme for beginners is outside their damn mind.
Don’t use that theme to start with unless you are tech savvy and ready to battle through quite a few headaches. It will leave you frustrated at the beginning and out around $250 for the entire package.
Option 2: Use the theme that we used to start our first 10k per month blog.
Starting with X Theme was one of the best decisions we made as newbie bloggers.
It’s incredibly customizable, and the support staff is sooooooo helpful and understanding of complete rookies. You can basically google any problem you have like “change header color for X theme,” and 99% of the time, a support ticket that has already been answered will come up. So amazing. It also comes with 4 different styles of themes to try.
Click here if you think this is the right choice for you!
Important: X Theme is top notch, I recommend it without hesitation, and it’s the theme used on this site as well. We did switch over to Genesis themes on Avocadu.com because of a desire to improve site speed, but we honestly prefer X over any theme we have used.
Anyway, let’s pretend that you already know a blog design you really like and want to match it exactly…
Option 3: Find a great theme by “spying” on your competitors.
Let’s say you’re in the survival space and are looking to make a blog. You start looking around at the competition and notice that survivallife.com is doing pretty well in the space (they actually do dominate that space).
All you have to do to find out what theme they are using is go to: http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ You will see a page like this where you can type in the domain name:
Hit the green button, and you will see this:
You can see that they are running the Sugarblog theme, and if you want your website to be similar to theirs, that is the theme you need to get! Sometimes the websites you like will not be running WordPress themes, and that’s ok.
It’s incredibly rare, but some people still get websites custom coded for various reasons. Keep looking around at competitors until you find a style you like that uses WordPress.
Spy on your competitors, or just look around at websites you like and find your own theme.
Option 4: Subscribe to a theme club.
If you still know you want to buy a theme but don’t like X theme and can’t find a good competitor’s theme to grab, this is the next best option. Theme clubs are groups of themes that have partnered together to offer their themes for a subscription rate. You usually pay a yearly fee to get access to a ton of different themes.
The best two options are Elegant Themes and My Themes Shop. This is a good option for variety, but it will cost you more over time. Get to work on selecting the right theme for you, but don’t over analyze it! If you have spent more than 2-3 hours selecting a theme, just pick one and rock it for awhile.
Final Thoughts and WordPress Resource List
Ok, this post is already 3500 words, and I need to shut up. The next parts of running a successful blog are painfully obvious, but many people miss them anyway:
- Get traffic.
Therefore, part 2 of the How to Start a Profitable Blog Series is about getting massive traffic to your blog.
Part 3 is then be about how to convert that traffic and monetize the SMART way.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to start a profitable blog, and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions in the comment section below!
Alex & Lauren
Co-Founders, Create and Go
P.P.S. Additional WordPress Resources:
Part of mastering the philosophy of Create and Go is knowing your role. You cannot master everything, and we are not aiming to make this a WordPress customization blog. We’ve got other things to create!
So we are going to take some of our own medicine and refer you to the best resources around web for WordPress. Use these website for further customization of your blog and writing help:
- Must-Have FREE WordPress Plugins for Every Blogger
- 18 Essential Resources to Learn WordPress Like a Pro (Great article. Covers all sorts of free training blogs and other things I wish I had more time to say)
- 8 Great Tools to Help You Write and Edit Blog Posts Better
Alex & Lauren
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