How to Start a Blog for Making Money (and for Fun!) in 2019
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 no time. Let’s start by introducing your awesomesauce teachers today…
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.
But don’t be intimidated by that number! It feels like just the other day that we sat exactly where you were now…
- No blog
- Frustrated with our full-time jobs
- Wondering how in the world to create an online blogging business that we both enjoyed AND made us money
Whether you’re here looking for a lot of money or just a little bit and to have some fun, know that you’re in the right place.
We’ve helped tons of students go from no blog with no idea what they were doing to beautiful, fun blogs that they enjoy that also earn them a full-time income!
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.
Alternatively, you can also sign up for our FREE 7 Day Blogging Course. Our most success-driven students sign up for the course and go ahead and use the guide below. Please take advantage of these FREE recourses.
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!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Step 1. Understanding Your Why for Starting a Blog
The first step in the process of how to start a blog is to decide WHY you are doing this.
Just 3 short years ago, Alex 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 and we were frustrated with the illusions of the American dream.
Because the realities we were living included…
- Invisible corporate ladders
- Two-weeks of vacation per year
- Living in a stuffy office
- Just not having enough time to do the things that really made us happy
Then, just like you today, we made the life-changing decision to start a blog.
In less than a year, we started our first blog, Avocadu.com, completely from scratch and turned it into a money-making machine.
Our blog income reports will show you that we average around $20,000/month with our little health and wellness blog. But it’s not just about the money.
It’s what this blog has done for our LIVES that is the 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.)
- Have more fun exploring your passions and interests. Blogging will take your passions so much further because it’s a process of learning, sharing, and connecting with others.
- 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.
There is a lot more than this, but establishing a why is a crucial step to creating a successful blog. This is because having a blog that makes money does require work.
We know, we know. It’s not very sexy to say but it’s the truth. If you want great things in life, you will have to work for them! Big shocker 😉
Understanding and identifying your why will help you overcome the basic struggles you will have in the beginning as a blogger.
That being said, blogging is BY FAR the most fun “job” we’ve ever had. I mean, who doesn’t want to work from home, design your days, connect with others over your passions, be in control of your income, and run your own business???
Okay, now that you’ve identified your why for starting, let’s move on to step #2 and find your perfect blogging niche.
Step 2. Choose The Perfect Blog Topic and Niche
When it comes to selecting a good blog topic and niche, know that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!
Your blog doesn't have to be about some crazy, new, trendy topic to be popular! If you find yourself in the camp of “I don’t know but I just want to start,” you’ll want to consider a couple of different options.
It’s time to figure out the subject for your blog. If you’re a classic over-thinker like me – don’t fret.
The beauty of starting a blog isssss….
Blogs are flexible. Malleable. Fluid. You get the idea.
Blogging is not something where your original idea has to be set in stone from the jump. The opposite, actually, is closer to the truth. Blogging for money is a process of creating, listening, and adapting.
Blogging is a fluid thing.
Consider a self-branded blog.
If you feel you have a few different passions or interests that want to share with the world or help others with, then a self-branded blog is a great place to start.
Because the commonality of the blog isn’t a particular subject yet, the commonality is YOU.
There are thousands of successful blogs that use the person’s name:
- Mark Manson (Author of The Subtle Art of Giving a F*uck)
- Amy Lynn Andrews (Blogger)
- Melyssa Griffin (Blogger and Entrepreneur)
It doesn’t have to be your full name either, could be something like
- Alex’s Blog
- That Blogger Alex
- That Weird Blogger Bro Alex
- Alex Blogs
A self-branded blog is one that uses some part of the author’s name and is very common when the blog is owned by one person.
Start General and Narrow Down
This is the route we went with our health and wellness blog, Avocadu.
When we first started this blog, we wrote about the following topics:
- General Health
- Weight Loss
- General Fitness
- Dieting and Recipes
Over time, we narrowed our focus to two main categories: Weight Loss and Yoga
We still write other content occasionally, but most of our content relates to these two topics because those are the topics we created products around.
Consider selecting 1-2 topics you like THE MOST, especially if they are money-focused or have a higher chance of profitability.
Some of you just have not sat down and thought about it long enough to understand there is already one topic you should start with.
Picking the Topic
One of the best ways to figure out what topic to blog about is to stick to an area that you have experience in.
We started in health and wellness because Alex had been a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist for over 5 years. I was a former vegan for two years and also was super passionate about all things health-related.
I was also a Certified Public Accountant and in the accounting field for several years in my previous life, so I could have easily started a blog about tax or auditing.
Now, you don’t have to be certified or be some kind of “expert” in the topic that you’re blogging about, but you DO need to have experience and knowledge in it.
Your readers will see right through you if you choose to write about a topic that you have very little knowledge or experience in.
It will show in your content and you won’t get very far. The point is to create highly engaging content that keeps your readers coming back for more.
If you don’t feel like you have enough experience in a particular area or you don’t want to blog about what you have experience in, no worries…
Perhaps the easiest way to figure out what blog topic matters most to you is to think about the one thing that you can’t seem to shut up about.
It’s that topic that your friends or family casually bring up and you word vomit all over them about it with facts, data, research, whatever.
Or that topic that your friends come to you for advice for.
Parenting. Religion. Politics. Money. Health. Etc.
It can be anything that you get fired up about in discussion.
This is because blogging is just a long conversation with your readers. The more genuine passion and interest you start with the better off you will be.
But What About Making Money?
Don’t some blog topics make more money than others?
But starting with money first is a BIG MISTAKE for two reasons:
- You will build yourself a miserable job. If you don’t like writing the content, you’re still going to end up in a job that you hate. Nothing is more painful than writing about some inane topic you don’t give a crap about.
- People on the internet are smarter now and they will read right through your BS. Let me elaborate.
Please please please don’t be that phony teaching people how to make money online when you haven’t ever made real money online.
We’ve seen this time and time again. People know that money bloggers make a lot of money because they post income reports, so they jump right into what they believe will be the most profitable niche.
When you don’t have experience in a topic, you end up teaching theory rather than hard-earned lessons with personal experiences.
People want to hear about your story and your experiences and your failures and your wins. That’s why they are going to follow you and read your content.
On that note, you can blog about your journey and be honest about your experience trying to make an income online. This is okay if this is a subject you really love researching and talking about already.
That’s just genuinely exploring a passion.
Another example of how it can be done:
It was only after we had over a year of blogging experience and had earned over $20,000/month with our health and wellness blog that we started Create and Go (this blog).
Below is a graph of our first year of revenues from our health and wellness blog:
In addition to that, we both had business degrees. We had been studying business and marketing in college for years, and Alex actually sold his first eBook while he was in college.
And it also became the topic that neither one of us could ever shut up about — even more so than our original passion: health and fitness.
Can Any Blog Make Money?
Yep! Here are some weird examples to show the creative and ingenious ways people are monetizing random topics:
- Doug the Pug (just a famous pug)
- Survival Life (survival in the wilderness)
- Learning Herbs (guy sells board games about plants — for real)
Making money is WAY more about your creativity and community than it is about your subject.
- Blogging is a fluid thing.
- Consider using a personal brand name if your passions and interests are varied.
- Start general and narrow down.
- Don’t try to start in a topic that you have no clue about or experience in just because you’re money-hungry.
Still beating yourself up about finding your perfect blog topic? I hope not. But if so, we have a couple of additional resources for you on blog topics:
- 101 Fun and Popular Blog Topics That Actually Make Money – This article is great to help spark random ideas into your noggin about the ideas and potential for certain topics.
- Blog Niche Ideas – 3 Steps to Find a Fun and Profitable Niche – This article is perfect for the over-thinker who still feels lost and overwhelmed by this process. It’s written very well because I am an over-thinker who wrote it. #notsohumblebrag
Step 3. Best Blogging Platforms 101 - where You Should Start
Without the right fundamentals in place, your new blog will likely never get off the ground. You deserve a better shot than that!
Back in the ancient times of the internet (the dark ages), if you wanted to start a website, you’d have to learn how to code.
Line by line, you would crunch lines like <html> This sucks.<html>, and it would suck and you’d probably throw your computer off the highest surface you could find.
Thankfully, people recognized the need for a solution that allowed regular folks like us to create websites.
And thus, blogging platforms were born! They help the less tech-savvy navigate the building of your website.
The blogging platform you choose will determine a lot of things, including…
- Speed of your website
- Customizations you can make
- Access to plugins and other software
- And more.
There are many different platforms you can use to build a website, but we’re going to discuss platforms specifically geared toward blogs.
For instance, Shopify is a GREAT platform for eCommerce businesses but it’s an absolute DISASTER for a professional blogger.
The only platforms that should even be considered for those interested in making money blogging are:
We can go ahead and hack off a couple websites like Medium, Tumblr, and Blogger because there is no real way to monetize these platforms seriously except for a few outlying exceptions.
And out of the bunch that are suited for making money with a blog, WordPress stands MILES ahead of the rest,
There are a few important reasons for this.
I’m not saying you couldn’t start a blog on Squarespace, because you certainly can. I’m just saying it would be a pain.
Most bloggers eventually regret starting on these other platforms once they get deeper into driving traffic and monetizing their blogs.
Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are amazing for personal static websites (think dentist offices and hair salons), but not for blogs.
This has a lot to do with the end goal we have in blogging.
We want to MAKE MONEY and in order to make money efficiently, you need to have CONTROL over every aspect of your website.
You need to be able to edit it exactly how you want not just to make it look pretty but also for monetization purposes.
You need access to software and plugins, and other blogging platforms are severely lacking in this department compared to WordPress.
We will cover these topics in another section later on in this guide!
Here are some facts about WordPress that will ease your concerns about this being the “right” choice
WordPress for Bloggers
WordPress is the best platform for bloggers 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!
Step 4. Sign Up for Blog Hosting and Install WordPress
Okay, it's time to get to the good stuff!
We're going to show you step-by-step how to get your domain name and sign up for a blog hosting plan for your new blog!
Okay, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty, baby! TODAY IS THE DAY. LET’S GET YOU A BEAUTIFUL BLOG.
If you have not already, click here to go to Bluehost and then use the tutorial below for easy, step-by-step directions.
This tutorial is going to start with a webpage showing our bright, shining faces.
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.
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! 🙂
You can also try out a few using Bluehost’s domain name checker below:
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR SELECTING A DOMAIN NAME
- 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
Enter your domain under “new domain” (you can see where we inserted mynewtravelblog.com), and hit next. Now it’s time to fill in your contact information.
If you have a Google account, you can click the button to use that account information to sign up. Otherwise, fill in your contact information in the forms below.
Then scroll down to the section with the package information.
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 for your money.
After selecing your package information, scroll down to the section on package extras.
Some of the boxes on this page may already be checked, but the only option that we recommend is Domain Privacy Protection.
When you purchase a domain name (from any hosting company) your name, address, and phone number become public record for anyone that wants to look up who owns the domain name. This can cause unwelcome solicitors calling your phone to try to sell you stuff for your new business.
Selecting domain privacy protection hides your personal details so that your information remains confidential.
Also, remember to uncheck all other boxes because these features aren’t necessary.
Your screen should look like this:
Congratulations! You now own your very own website!!!!!
Not too painful, right???
After completing the registration, you will be asked if you want to check out some special offers by Bluehost. You can go ahead and click “No Thanks” here.
The next few steps will direct you to create your password before beginning with anything else. Make sure to create a secure password!
After selecting your password, click the “Login” button. This will direct you to select a theme for your WordPress blog.
Getting Started with WordPress
The themes on this page are all free. 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.
After selecting your theme, it will take a few minutes to set up your WordPress dashboard. Once it’s finished, click “Start Building” to go to your WordPress dashboard.
From here, click on the “Business” button, as shown below. If you miss this step and accidentally click Personal, don’t worry. It doesn’t really matter.
Next, you’ll be asked to set up a Site Title and Site Description. This should be simple and descriptive of what your blog is about but if you aren’t sure what you want to say just yet, just click to skip this step and you can set it up later.
You can see an example of a Site Title and Description below:
After this step, it will ask you if you will be updating your blog with new content. Heck yeah, you will be! Select Yes.
From here, you will be prompted to select whether you’d like to set your homepage up to display recent posts or to have a static homepage.
You can select either, but most people end up using a static homepage, so we’ve selected that option in this tutorial. You can also change this at any point in time in the future if you change your mind!
After selecting your homepage design, Bluehost will ask you if you want to set up a Contact page. We’re going to select No this time because you can set that up later. It shouldn’t be a top priority right now.
From here, click on the Connect to WordPress.com button. Next, you will be prompted to create an account for JetPack.
JetPack is a software that connects to your WordPress blog to provide you with information on the visitors to your website as well as additional plugins that allow you to make customizations on your site.
You can create a new account by entering in your information or you can scroll down to sign up with your Google account:
In the next step, you will be directed back to WordPress and asked to fill in your address information. You can just click “Skip this step” for now.
Before moving on to the next steps, make sure to visit the email account that you used to sign up so that you can verify your address with Bluehost. You have 14 days to do this after signing up, but you should verify it as soon as possible so that you can access your Bluehost dashboard.
Just click the button in your email to verify:
Now, before we start designing and customizing, we want to show you how to access your Bluehost account and WordPress dashboard in the future in case you need to stop and start at any time.
How to Access Bluehost and WordPress
There are two different way to get back into your WordPress dashboard and access your blog.
The first way is to go to Bluehost.com and log in using the email and password that you created in the setup above.
From here, you can click on the Log in to WordPress button.
The other way to access your blog is a little more direct but it requires you to set up a new admin account within WordPress first. You can do that through these steps.
- Follow the step above to access your WordPress dashboard through your Bluehost.com account.
- On the menu on the left, go to Users → Add New.
- Create a new user account with a username. This will be the account that you will use to login with in the future.
- Next, go back to All Users and delete the old admin user.
Once you set up this new user, all you need to do to log in to your site is to type in yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-admin/ into your browser and you will be directed to log in to your WordPress account.
For example, my domain name is mynewtravelblog.com for the purposes of this tutorial. I would type in mynewtravelblog.com/wp-admin/ to access my blog.
Log in using the username and password you just set up in the steps above and you can access your WordPress dashboard!
Step 5. Envision Your Blog Design
This section is just a quick read to give you examples of some common blog designs so you can get ideas of how you might want yours to look before you start designing your blog!
Abby Lawson of Just a Girl and Her Blog has a different setup because you can see that her face is not the first thing you see when you get to her blog.
Items to note about this blog design:
- The main feature on the page is her content. She has three different blog categories of content to choose from based on what readers are most interested in.
- She also has a sign-up form for her email list right on her homepage.
This is a great blog design for a beginner because many new bloggers aren’t ready to put their faces front and center or hire a photographer to take a professional photo.
This is a little closer to the original design of our first blog in the first few months, but it can work for anyone because Abby has been blogging for several years now!
Items to note about this blog design:
- The main feature on the page is, of course, Pat Flynn himself. He is an established authority figure in his niche, and he includes a big headline next to his photo so that his readers know exactly what his website is about when they visit his homepage.
- He also has two menus up at the top with various links to pages on his blog.
- Lastly, he has a “Learn More” button that takes you to another page to learn more about what he offers on his website.
This blog design is best-suited for someone who has established themselves in their blog niche community or who has the resources to hire a photographer to take professional photos.
It’s also best-suited for anyone that KNOWS they want to be a big name in their community and they want to start off with a bang. When you are the central focus, it can help to establish you as an authority figure in your niche.
Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess have a great mix of the above two styles.
Items to note about this blog design:
- The focus of their homepage is split between their recent blog posts and a section about them.
- There is also a separate menu just for their blog categories.
This type of blog design is also great for beginners because you will be posting a lot of content in the beginning and the addition of the section about you helps to build trust with your new readers.
It’s also a great design for anyone with a lifestyle blog that plans to blog on several different topics.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR DECIDING ON BLOG DESIGN
Step 6. Select Your WordPress Blog Theme
A blog theme is additional software and coding that allows you to design and customize your blog.
Please pay very close attention to this section because this is the place where most new bloggers waste the majority of their time in the first month of blogging.
Some of our blogging students have actually earned money in their first couple of months blogging and there is a reason that they are different than most other bloggers.
They heed the advice in this section!
It’s design time!
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.
I was a CPA and Alex 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.
The steps below will show you how to upload and change your theme in WordPress.
How to Change Your Theme in WordPress
Next, head over to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance –> Themes.
Click on the button to add a new theme:
At the very top of the next screen, click the button to upload your theme:
Next, choose the zipped theme file that you previously downloaded to your computer in the first step.
Once it’s uploaded, click the buttons to Install and Activate and you’re finished!
Additional Theme Resources:
Here are some additional resources and tutorials to help you start exploring your new theme!
If you’re still undecided on a blog theme, you can also check out our article on best WordPress themes for some other recommendations.
Step 7. Install Essential Plugins for Your Blog
A plugin is software that integrates with your WordPress blog to allow you to make customizations and improvements to your blog.
Here are a few examples of what plugins can do for your website:
- Collect email subscribers
- Compress images to speed up your website
- Display your traffic statistics
- Other traffic and monetization tasks (ads, SEO, etc.)
In this section, we’re going to show you a couple of basic (and free!) plugins that every new blogger needs in the beginning. First, we’ll show you what these plugins are and then we’ll show you how to install them on your blog.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and that basically means that you are optimizing content to be found in a search engine (like Google).
Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you optimize your content by using a traffic light system. It will give you tasks to complete to make sure your articles are optimized for Google search and give you a green light when you have everything set up properly.
This is GREAT for beginners who don’t really know how SEO works or what to do. It’s a great starting point!
Resize Image After Upload
Resize Image After Upload is a great plugin for website speed! Adding images to your blog posts can, unfortunately, be a big drag on your website speed. If they aren’t properly sized and compressed before you upload them to WordPress, they will take up more space than necessary.
This plugin automatically resizes images for maximum width and height, which minimizes the file size on your website and keeps loading time down.
It’s absolutely essential to have in your arsenal of blogging tools!
How to Install Plugins on WordPress
There are two different ways to install a plugin:
- Search Feature
- Direct Upload
You can use either method, but some plugins are not available through the search method and must be directly uploaded.
To upload a plugin via search, navigate to Plugins on your lefthand menu in the WordPress dashboard and click the blue Add New button at the top of the page.
From here, just search for the plugin you are looking for (i.e. Yoast SEO):
Click the Install button (ours is showing as “Active” in the screenshot above because we already have it downloaded) and then click the Activate button.
Before uploading a plugin, you will need to download the zip file directly from the website (i.e. visit Yoast’s plugin page to download the free version of the plugin).
To upload a plugin, follow the same steps as above to the blue Add New button at the top of the plugins page.
From here, click the Upload Plugin button up at the top left corner of the screen and choose your zip file that you downloaded.
Then click Install and Activate!
You can also check out this article for some additional plugins to download for social media, site speed, design, and more!
STEP 8. The NExt Steps
Before you launch your new blog to the world, let's talk about the next steps:
Content, Traffic, & Monetization
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: