How to Start a Blog
How to Start a Blog
The Ultimate Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide to Starting a Blog in 2018
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This step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog will get you all set up in 10 minutes or less! We’ll cover how to choose a blogging platform, get a domain name, set up web hosting, choose a blog theme, and everything else you need to get started!
Hey there! We’re Alex and Lauren — two professional bloggers who went from broke and frustrated to making $103,457.98 our first year blogging!
Now, we make over $100,000 per month blogging and help thousands of people each month start a blog that they love – the first step to becoming a full-time blogger.
We wrote this free guide to help you learn how to start a blog without any website coding skills or having to pay an expensive web developer to build a website to do it for you (because who has an extra $2,000 laying around?).
UPDATE: Bluehost has given us a special discount for our readers! You can now set up your blog for as low as $2.75/month! It also comes with a FREE domain name!
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.
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!
If you have not already, click here to start a blog with Bluehost. Then use the tutorial below for easy, step-by-step directions.
The first step in the process of how to start a blog is to decide WHY you are doing this.
Step 1. Understand Your Why for Starting a Blog
10 months ago, Lauren and I were just a couple of 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 blog income reports, and they will show you that we average around $20,000/month with our little health and fitness blog. But it’s not just the money. 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 days. We have been able to visit family more often and travel to countries like Nicaragua and Bali and still work while having fun!
We share our story with you because your “why” is so important when you start a blog.
The potential that you have with your new blogging business is ENDLESS, and with it, you can:
- Make more money than a regular salaried job. (If making money is what you want.)
- Work from home or while you travel. You can work from wherever you want, whether that is at home with the kids from your comfy couch with a blanket or on a white sandy beach somewhere!
- Become an author (even a NY Times Best Seller). Many famous authors started blogging to build an audience and then released their books to the world. Examples include Jenny Lawson, Mark Manson, and dozens of others.
- Become a little internet famous. Many bloggers have leveraged an audience into a little (or a LOT) of internet fame. And what’s wrong with wanting to be a little better known?
- Just enjoy the mental relief that comes from writing. No need to have a grand plan to become famous. Just writing for your blog for therapeutic relief is not uncommon.
- Finally get FREEDOM. Whether it’s time freedom to spend more time with your kids or to travel more or financial freedom from a salaried 9-5 with bosses. This is why we started. It’s hard to describe how good it feels to be free from all that.
Today, we want to walk you through how to start a blog and get you on your way to designing your own life!
Step 2. Choose the Right Blogging Platform and Blog Hosting Company
WordPress vs. Other Blogging Platforms
There is a lot of fuss lately about whether to use website builders like Wix or Squarespace vs. using WordPress and it’s really not even up for debate on why every blogger should start with WordPress.
Wix and Squarespace are great for building websites, but they aren’t ideal for building BLOGS.
WordPress is the best platform for blogging because…
- It powers 30% of the entire internet. Yep! 30% of all websites you have ever visited were built using WordPress.
- It was founded May 27, 2003. With age comes wisdom. Just like your Grandpappy, WordPress has been there and done that. It often understands what you need better than you understand what you need!
- Because it’s so widely used, the support and customizability is AMAZING. Tens of thousands of different themes, plugins, and options are available. Wix and Squarespace have very little options for themes, plugins, and other customizations because they cater more to websites – not blogs specifically.
- It allows you to scale. If your blog became widely popular one day and you were on a platform like Wix or Squarespace, God help your soul. They are not made for that level of traffic and it would be a nightmare to deal with. Begin with the end in mind!
- It’s perfect for beginners. WordPress is super easy to use and comes with a one-click install with Bluehost!
It’s for these reasons and more that WordPress is the best blogging platform out there right now.
Now, with a great blogging platform, you will also need a great host. In terms of the Internet, the blogging platform, WordPress, is what you use to build your house while the host is the land you place your house on.
You want your platform and your host to pair together like peanut butter and jelly… And if WordPress is the peanut butter than the perfect homemade jelly is Bluehost.
Why Host With Bluehost?
First off, they are incredibly inexpensive! You can start a blog with Bluehost for just $2.75/month when you sign up (that low price is through our link only!).
It also comes with a FREE domain name! This is so important at the beginning before you are making enough money to cover your expenses.
Bluehost is also incredibly easy to use for beginners. 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 and decide that it’s not right for you, you can ask for a full refund within 30 days of purchase!
There really is no risk.
How Do I Start a Blog for Free?
First of all, you do NOT want to do that. Here’s why.
Let’s talk briefly about free vs. self-hosted. There is 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.
- You are limited in how you can monetize your blog (no ads, folks!).
- The websites are slow (there’s nothing more frustrating than a slow website).
- I personally know of ZERO successful entrepreneurs who use them.
If you’d like to know a little more about the differences and why free blogs are a mistake if you want to take your blog biz seriously, see our article on WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org (free vs. self-hosted blogs).
Because of these glaring flaws, we are going to focus on self-hosting (think Bluehost) in this article, because that is the ONLY way to start a successful blog (compared to a hobby blog).
The difference truly is only $2.75/month, so you can’t afford NOT to go with self-hosting!
So let’s get that domain and hosting set up! What’s a step-by-step process without an actual demonstration?
Step 3. Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting
Click here or the photo below with our bright shining faces below to start the process, and then follow the step-by-step instructions below to get set up.
Here we are going to walk you through every step we took to register the domain name: paleoeatz.com
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, below.
First, go to Bluehost.com, if you haven’t already. Make sure you have the page pulled up in a separate window before beginning the tutorial.
After you click the button to get started on the homepage, you will then see a list of pricing options.
Next, choose which pricing plan is best for you. No worries – you don’t need anything more than the BASIC plan.
Note that the lowest price of $2.75 per month is if you sign up for the longer contract term of 36 months (paid up front). We recommend that you go ahead and take advantage of this low pricing plan, and here’s why:
- You can cancel risk-free for 30 days. Bluehost offers a guarantee, and you can cancel your plan at any time during the first 30 days and get a full refund.
- 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!
- It also ensures that they won’t raise the price of your hosting during that time.
After selecting your plan, you will want to enter your new domain, as seen below:
If you’re having trouble coming up with a blog name, just remember not to overcomplicate it. It’s the content, not the name that truly matters.
You can also try out a few using Bluehost’s domain name checker below:
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.
It makes us $20,000 per month and it’s not even a word! 🙂
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR SELECTING A DOMAIN NAME
It may take you a couple of tries to get a name you like. Here are some suggestions to make the process a bit easier:
- You can use your name: alexnerney.com or nataliebacon.com (great for a lifestyle blog)
- You can use your name + your blog topic: alexlovespaleo.com or alextravels.com
- You can just make up a word related to your topic: paleoliscious.com or travelover.com
- You can also use a .co instead of a .com: twitter.co and createandgo.co
If you're still struggling, you can check out our post on How to Get a Great Blog Name.
Enter your domain under “new domain” (you can see where we inserted the paleoeatz.com), and hit next. Fill in your contact information, and then go to the package information section.
FIRST — Select your account plan. This is where you select the LENGTH of your plan. As we said above, we recommend the 36-month plan, because it provides the best VALUE.
NEXT — Some of the boxes on this page may already be checked, but the only option that we recommend is the “Domain Privacy Protection.” Adding this feature ensures that your personal information as the website owner remains private.
Your screen should look like this:
Congratulations! You now own your very own website!!!!!
Not too painful, right???
The next few steps will direct you to create your password before beginning with anything else. Make sure to create a secure password!
Okay, let’s get you started with WordPress!
Step 4. Set Up WordPress and Choose a Theme
Bluehost just made it easier than ever to get started with WordPress. They actually eliminated a couple of steps in this process, so you’ll get through it in no time.
After setting up your password, you should be directed to select a theme for your WordPress site. Your screen should look like this:
You can select any one of these free themes to get started. Don’t worry – you can change this at any time, and we’ll discuss it in more detail in a few moments.
First, we want to get you to the main screen where you can start to play around and customize things.
After selecting a theme to start with, your screen should look like this:
Select the “Business” option to be taken to the next screen (it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an actual business started yet – this is the first step in that process!).
You will then be taken to a dashboard that looks like this:
From this step, you can write your first post and start looking through the options in WordPress, but we recommend settling on a good theme first.
It’s time to 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-doubts come 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 in 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!
Option 1: Use Free WordPress Themes or Other Free 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 feel 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. Here is a great list of them that you can try.
If there are free themes, why would I ever want a paid theme?
Paid themes are generally much more powerful and customizable than free themes.
This is because they will have an entire support staff dedicated to helping 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 your blog with the Genesis Framework (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: Save Time and Get a Better Design with a Paid Theme
We have a couple of recommendations here:
Divi Theme is incredibly customizable and very user-friendly. It’s our #1 recommendation and what most of our new bloggers in our Launch Your Blog Course are using. You can easily customize the design of your homepage and other pages on your website and they have great customer service.
They also have a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee, so there is absolutely no risk to try it!
When you purchase Divi, you also get access to the entire Elegant Themes market, which includes over 70 other themes to choose from if you don’t end up loving Divi. This theme is quickly becoming the #1 new theme on the market for newbie bloggers!
Avada Theme is what we personally used for the first couple of months on our blog. At the time that we used it, it had fewer customizations than it did today, and that was why we ultimately made the switch to another theme. BUT it has since been updated and now comes with a LOT more customizations and less of a learning curve.
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 a while.
So we did just that… At this point, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, but I wanted to make sure you have every resource at your disposal.
The Next Steps: Launch Your New Blog!
There are two main steps you need to focus on before you can even begin thinking about monetizing your blog…
Create Content for Your Blog
Most people (including us when we started) make this simple mistake when they get started creating content for their new blog:
A successful blog is NOT about you. It’s about creating value for other people.
Therefore, your first posts should be centered around the things other people want and need. The good thing is that finding the content other people want and need is pretty easy when you use some of the helpful tools that can be found on the internet.
You want to take the keywords that you find and use them to create shareable content. Our three favorites types of content that are incredibly shareable:
- How-to Posts (How to Effortlessly Potty-Train Your Dog)
- Listicles (Top 10 Ways to Potty-Train Your Dog)
- Testimonials (How Suzy Potty-Trained Her Dog in 10 Days)
These are the types of content people LOVE and also LOVE to share.
Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Another all-too-common mistake we see new bloggers make is trying to start and manage 5 different social media profiles.
Getting good at social media is all about focus.
For new bloggers, we personally use and recommend Pinterest and YouTube. They are both search engines, which means that you have the ability to generate a lot of organic (aka FREE) traffic over time – if you’re doing it right.
You can use whatever social media platform you like or feel comfortable with, but make sure you think about the following when deciding which platform(s) to use:
- Where your target audience hangs out(go where your peeps are!)
- How easy it is to get them off the platform (some are much harder than others to actually get people off of the platform and onto your blog)
- How much you actually like the platform (you’ll be spending some time on it, so don’t pick a platform you don’t like).
Try not to overcomplicate it. Start with 1-2 platforms in the beginning. Work towards mastering one before you shift your focus to another. One of our favorite quotes regarding this is…
A jack of all trades is a master of none. If you focus on everything, you will end up UNFOCUSED on everything.
Those are the basic steps in a nutshell, but if you’d like more guidance on HOW to accomplish these tasks (and in the best and quickest way possible), this is going to be the best resource EVER for launching your new blog…
Introducing our Launch Your Blog Course!
How to Build and Launch Your Successful Blog with WordPress in 1 Month or Less, Without Any Coding or Being a Tech Wizard, Guaranteed!
With this beginner blogger course, you will learn…
- The ins, outs, and technical details of WordPress
- What really matters when designing your blog
- How to create beautiful images for your blog
- How to produce amazing content people love
- The best way to get started with email marketing
- How to set up social media profiles
- And so, so much more!
It’s the ultimate beginner blog course and has everything you need to get started! Click here to check out the Launch Your Blog Course and get starting on the building phase! 🙂
We know it can be overwhelming and confusing when starting out. Not too long ago, we were right there looking at our computers sitting in the same seat you are right now.
That’s why we made this little video to get you motivated for what being a full-time blogger can be like…
For more free blogging tips and tricks from the experts, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel. Now, scroll back up and get started if you haven’t already! 🙂
The next parts of running a successful blog are painfully obvious, but many people miss them anyway:
- Get traffic.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to start a blog, and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions in the comment section below!
Alex and Lauren
Co-Founders, Create and Go
P.S. Here are some additional resources to help you get started: