Want to know how to start a blog?
Whether you want to do it as a hobby, are looking to create an online business, or want to create a blog as part of an existing business, I’ve got you covered.
Here is the easiest step-by-step tutorial to help you get your new website off the ground. No tech skills required or complicated coding.
How To Start A Blog:
Step 1: Choose Your Domain Name
If you’re starting from scratch, choosing a name can be one of the toughest parts.
Here are some things to keep in mind when coming up with your domain name:
- Is it the right length? You don’t want anything too long, wordy, or something that is hard for people to remember.
- Does it give an idea of the content/type of blog? Not all blog titles are a reflection of what the content is all about, but I would say that you don’t want it to be too far off base. Naming your blog “chopped cilantro” when it has nothing to do with food or cooking would be a little weird.
- Do you want to use your personal name? If you’re thinking about starting some kind of larger business where the blog is just an arm of that business (particularly if it’s a service based biz), maybe you should use your own name? A lot of people do this, and I think it helps build recognition.
- Are the domain name and social media handles available? This is a big one. You need to check that the domain name is actually up for grabs (you can do this on Go Daddy) and that the social media handles are available too (facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, etc). It is SO important to have consistency from a branding point of view, so if someone has already snagged up the name you were thinking, move on and find something else. You want all of your handles and domain name to match, and you also don’t want your name to be too close to someone else’s. Be sure to search around and do your research for this one – because it’s a PAIN to change your name after the fact.
I recommend going with a .com account, as it’s the most widely used and recognized across the internet. It you want to play it safe and know that no one else will be able to create a website under your same name, then I would also purchase the .ca, the .org, and any others you might be concerned about.
Step 2: Choose a Content Management System
I know … you’re like “content management what?”. The “CMS” just refers to the platform you are going to use to build your website on.
There are quite a few options out there – from Blogger to Squarespace to Joomla and others – but in my opinion for a blog, WordPress is where it’s at.
WordPress is SO widely used across the world and therefore there are tons of themes, customization options, plugins, etc.
I have switched up the look of my DIY + decor blog many times over the course of the past 5 years and WordPress has always made it easy for me to do so. Plus, once you get used to working with the system and dashboard, I find it to be really user friendly and easy to make changes yourself. I don’t have any training in website development, but have learned as I go and can now build websites easily and quickly.
There are two options with wordpress — either a free “wordpress.com” account or a self-hosted “wordpress.org” account.
The wordpress.com means that your site will actually be hosted by wordpress, and whatever domain name you chose would have a “.wordpress.com” at the end of it. If you are serious about building an online business, you don’t want to go with this option.
You want to choose to be “self-hosted”, which means you will have your own domain name (no “wordpress” on the end of it). Any major website out there has their own, self-hosted domain. It’s looks more legit and it’s more easily searchable (you’ll rank higher on Google). This means that you will have to pay for hosting of your website, but it doesn’t have to be expensive (see below!).
Step 3: Get Hosting
Now that you have decided on your domain name, it’s time to claim it and setup your website hosting. Hosting refers to the company that is allowing your website to be seen on the internet. It’s like renting the space for your store front.
There are a TON of website hosts out there. Many of them have competitive pricing, rotating sales, and offer different levels of packages depending on what sort of needs you are going to have. If you are just starting off, you don’t need to have the highest package that is going to host a million visitors to your site everyday on its own dedicated server. You should start off with a basic package, and then can always upgrade as you require it.
My host recommendation?
Siteground has an extremely good reputation within the blogging community (you might notice a lot of other bloggers recommending them!). They have actually been recommended by WordPress themselves as a great hosting company.
I am personally a SiteGround customer and my experience has been very good. They specialize in wordpress sites and have a few extra features that make creating wordpress sites with them extra easy.
The biggest advantages to Siteground?
- Incredible customer support. Honestly, their live chat is superb and the tickets I have submitted are always responded to incredibly fast. I couldn’t be happier. It feels like I have a personal “tech guy” because they are just so responsive.
- Super fast speeds. My website loading time went waaaaay down when I switched over to Siteground. It was like lightening speed for my site (which = happy blog readers)!
- Safety and security of your site. They have a lot of extra features that most hosts don’t offer, ensuring that your site is really well protected.
Head over to the Siteground website. [–> Important: Be sure to use that link as it’s an affiliate one, and you will get a special deal for being referred by me!]
First up is choosing your Siteground package. Here are the basics:
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher which greatly improves a WordPress website speed
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration
Choose your domain name. You’ll either be registering for a new domain name (and yay – you get it for free!!) or using an existing domain name if you have already purchased it.
Then you just need to review and complete your setup.
Unlike many other hosting providers, the SiteGround advertised discount applies to any of the initial periods chosen during the sign up process. This means you are able to get the low price they are offering for a year, two years, whatever. Lots of the really low priced hosts make you sign up for the longest term (like 3 years!) to get the super low price they have advertised.
Then just select the options in the “Extra Services” you may want. The SSL certificate is meant for people who will be using their site to do e-commerce (selling stuff!).
Check the Terms of Service, and then click the blue ‘pay now’ button. Done!
That’s it! You officially have Siteground hosting now.
Then if you are ready to start up your wordpress site, there are a few ways you can do this. You can manually setup WordPress or you can use the Siteground “Wizard”.
I’ll continue the tutorial using the Wizard Tool.
Access your Siteground Customer Area. After you signup (see steps above), you will have received all the necessary information you need to login.
Once you login to your Customer Area for the first time, you will see a popup asking you if you want to have WordPress preinstalled on your account. Select that option and click on the “Proceed” button.
The next page has two section. In this first one, enter the login information for your new WordPress application.
Tip: Don’t use “admin” as your username – it’s too easy for hackers!
In the next screen, pick one of the free WordPress themes available and click on the submit button. Don’t stress about the theme that you are picking – you can change that later. I recommend opting for a custom theme (you can read more on that below).
On this last screen you will find a summary of your WordPress installation. This includes where to access your admin area, your username and your password. Save this info somewhere!
That’s it! Now head on over to that admin URL, login, and you can get started on blogging your heart out.
Step 4: Pick a Theme
We are now at the fun part about getting your blog setup. Now that you have your website actually created and hosted somewhere, it’s time to personalize it.
There are lots of free wordpress themes out there, but I think that if you want something really beautiful and more custom looking, then it’s best to purchase a theme.
Here are the things that are important to look for when browsing themes:
–Built on Genesis framework. In my opinion, it’s smart to go with a theme that is built on the “Genesis Framework” from StudioPress. What this means is that you have Genesis as your primary theme, and then use “Child themes” on top of Genesis for the customization. Genesis is consistently upgraded and updated, coded properly, and always compatible with the latest version of WordPress. It is continually maintained by the StudioPress folks, so you can be sure it’s all kept up to date. This isn’t an absolute “must”, but it’s a nice, secure way to go.
–Mobile Responsive. Being mobile responsive means that the theme is created to look good on tablets and phones. It’s an extremely important feature as so many people view the internet that way these days! You don’t want your site to look wonky because it doesn’t auto-adjust to the size of screen.
–Customization Options. I like to play around with my theme a bit to get it to look exactly how I want it, so having options with colors, fonts, layouts, and more built into the theme is an advantage. The more flexible the theme is, the better.
–Add-On’s. You don’t want to purchase a theme from someone, get stuck with trying to customize an element of it, and then not be able to hire that developer to help you figure it out. Many theme sellers have various “add-ons” you can purchase – whether it’s to install the theme, customize stuff, whatever. Ultimately you just want to know that there is some level of support that is going to be provided from your theme developer in case you get stuck.
There are tons of places you can look for themes. I am personally drawn to ones that have a modern aesthetic with a lot of white and a no-fuss approach. I like it when the photography and imagery of a blog really shines through.
Between my own blog and work for clients, I have worked with over 15 themes. These are my go-to spots for themes:
Once you have installed your theme, you’ll want to play around within wordpress and get to know your new site. Figure out how to publish posts, add in widgets, plugins, etc.
There is a learning curve for sure, but I promise that once you get the hang of wordpress, it’s incredibly easy to use.
Those are the technical nuts and bolts of how to start a blog, but if you want to make it profitable from the get go, I have a FREE email course that will walk you through SO much more information.
It’s jammed with super useful info on thinking through your niche and target market, to creating stellar content, to how to monetize successfully so that you can turn your blog into a full time biz. Seriously, nothing to lose! Sign up below.
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