How to Start a Successful Blog – Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide
UPDATE: Bluehost has given us a special discount for our readers! You can now set up your blog for just $2.75/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 with Bluehost, 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. Why Bluehost?
Well, they are CHEAP! You can start a blog with Bluehost for just $2.75/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 $2.75/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 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.
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:
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.
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 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 your very own website!!!!!
Not too painful right???
Step #4. Set Up WordPress on Your Site.
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 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!
Step #5. Grab a Theme for Your Blog!
From the black, left-hand menu –> 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!
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 two real options for finding the right theme:
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?
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 a lot of time and get a better design with a paid theme.
We have a few 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 X Theme. That being said, it has since been updated and now comes with just as many customizations of X Theme with a little less of a learning curve.
X Theme used to be our #1 recommendation, but they have recently made some updates to the software that have made it a little less beginner-friendly than the other two. It’s still a really great theme, but there is a slightly bigger learning curve with this theme that you should be aware of.
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.
For some of you, just start with the basics and start working on things yourself. For others, this is going to be the best resource EVER for starting a 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!
- WordPress Training
- Step-by-Step Designing Your Blog
- How to Create Beautiful Images
- How to Produce Amazing Content People Love
- Get Started With Email Marketing
- Setting Up Social Media
- And so, so much more!
You can click here to check out the Launch Your Blog Course and get starting on the building phase! 🙂
Step #6. Watch This Video All The Way Through.
Listen, Lauren and I know it can be overwhelming and confusing when starting out. 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!! =)
Final Thoughts and WordPress Resource List
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 Successful Blog Series is about getting massive traffic to your blog.
Part 3 is then about how to convert that traffic and monetize the SMART way.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to start a successful 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.P.S. Below are some additional free WordPress resources to help you get started! Use these websites 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