HOW TO START A BLOG – OUR FREE GUIDE!
For me, starting my hobby blog when my husband and I bought our first fixer upper home was the beginning of my journey as an online entrepreneur. Little did I know that a handful of years later I would be calling blogging my full-time gig!
Whether you are looking to start a blog as a hobby or have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to start a new career path, I have got you covered with this tutorial. Keep reading for a comprehensive step-by-step guide, and we will get your blog launched in a matter of minutes.
This is the easiest step-by-step tutorial to help you get your new website off the ground. No tech skills required or complicated coding!
Step 1: Choose Your Site 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 (including me!), 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 (check below in the blue box!) 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 your “CMS” (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 – Wix, Squarespace, Blogger and others – but in my opinion, WordPress is where it’s at.
WordPress is SO widely used internationally, there are limitless themes, customization options, plugins, and support on this platform. Seriously if you were to go to most of the websites you visit on a regular basis, a majority of them are likely running on wordpress.
I know a lot of people look at Squarespace as a great option, and it can be (particularly if you are really non-techy) but if you want the ability to really customize your site, have full control over your SEO (search engine optimization), and go with the most budget-friendly option, then you aren’t going to beat WordPress.
I have switched up the look of my own lifestyle blog many times over the course of the past 8 years and WordPress has always made it easy for me to do so. This site right here is also built on the WordPress platform. Plus, once you get used to working with the system and dashboard, it’s 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 do NOT want to go with this option.
You want to choose to be “self-hosted”, which means you will have your own domain name. 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.
Bluehost has a good reputation within the blogging community (you might notice a lot of other bloggers recommending them) and you literally CANNOT beat the price.
When you are just starting your new blog, you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for hosting. So my recommendation is to start off with a host like Bluehost, until you find that your site outgrows it.
Once you need to move to something with more bandwidth or on your own server, you can. I used Bluehost for years until my blog outgrew it and I moved over to EvenPar Solutions (and now pay over $50/month for hosting – they are wonderful, but that’s WAY more than you need to spend when you’re starting out!).
Bluehost is a huge player in terms of hosting, and they make it incredibly easy to get setup. Follow along with the steps below and we’ll have your site up and running in 15 minutes!
Get Bluehost setup in 10 minutes:
**Head over to the Bluehost website –> Important: Be sure to use my affiliate link, you may get a special deal for being referred by me!
Click “Get Started Now”
Choose the plan you’d like to go with. If you are just getting started, the Basic plan is all you’ll need.
Type in the domain name you are looking to setup under “New Domain”.
Alternatively, if you have already purchased your domain from another site, you can also do a transfer.
Enter in all of the personal details for your account setup, and select the package that best suits your needs. Usually the longer term prepaid options have the lowest monthly charges.
The extra’s under “package information” – like the ‘Site Backup Pro’ and ‘SiteLock Security’ are up to you. Read more about what they are and decide if you want to get them now, or add them later.
Enter your billing information. When your plan is about to expire, it will renew automatically using this same billing method (no hassle!).
Next it will prompt you to create a password for your new account. Make sure to choose one that’s strong, and keep it safe with your other passwords.
Bluehost will then prompt you to pick a theme for your new site. These are free themes that you can get started with. Feel free to choose one from here, or wait to get a more custom theme (more on that below). If that’s the case, just click on any theme here to get you to the next page – you can easily change it later.
And that’s it! You’ve officially started your new little slice of the internet! Click on “Start Building”.
You are now in your new WordPress dashboard. It can seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll soon come to know every little nook and cranny of it.
Bluehost will have it’s own menu in the left hand sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. Clicking on it will bring up a window that looks like this, where it will take you through writing blog posts, creating pages, and officially launching your site (right now your site will say “Coming Soon”).
If you ever have any hosting issues or need to find something, just come back to your Bluehost account and navigate through their menus. They have 24/7 live chat support, which is incredibly helpful whenever you are stuck with something.
That’s it for hosting!
Step 4: Pick your theme
Now that you have your website actually created and hosted somewhere, it’s time to personalize it. You may have chosen a free theme when you were setting up with Bluehost, but your options are endless.
There are so many developers out there who sell wordpress themes that are more custom-looking. This is what can take your site from looking a little plain jane, to super branded.
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:
- Restored 316 (my absolute fave!!! and their customer support is excellent!)
- Eclair Designs
- Dinosaur Stew
- 17th Avenue
- Lovely Confetti
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.
When purchasing a theme from any developer, you can usually pay for them to install it. If you want to save yourself some headache and time, choose that option!
Now it’s time to start publishing content and growing your business. I’m so excited for you!
And don’t forget to come say hey on instagram (@gemma.bonhamcarter). I can’t wait to chat!