Starting a blog can be a daunting task if you’re not sure where to start. Sure, having great ideas to write about, wanting to start an online business, or even wanting to open up an eCommerce shop is fun to think about. But when you get right down to it, getting starting is tough.
That is, until now.
No matter what kind of website you want to run, it’s crucial you have a blog. According to TechClient, you’re likely to boost leads by 67%, increase Google rankings a whopping 434%, and cater to the 61% of people making purchases on a website because of a blog post when you start a blog.
So, if you’re ready to turn your thoughts into reality and start a blog of your own, keep reading. We’re here to show you just how easy it can be step by step so you can start blogging right away.
For those of you that want to skip ahead, here’s a table of contents:
- Why Start a Blog?
- What Platform Should You Use?
- What Do You Need to Start a Blog?
- Get a Domain Name
- Sign Up for Website Hosting
- Set Up Your Hosting Account
- Start a WordPress Blog
- Pick a WordPress Theme
- Create Your First Blog Post
- Choose WordPress Plugins
- Wrapping Up
Why Start a Blog?
There are plenty of reasons why you should start a blog, some of which we mentioned above. That said, blogging goes beyond just boosting search rankings and generating new leads.
Here are some of the top reasons you should start a blog right away:
- Be an Inspiration: as a blogger, you place yourself in position of authority. Not to mention, you have the potential to change people’s lives in a positive way, help others, and inspire people to achieve their dreams.
- Establish an Online Brand: the more you blog about a certain topic, the more reputable you become. After a while, you’ll notice that you have a large following that reads everything you publish. This can help you establish an online brand and begin transforming your blog into something much more.
- Generate Income: they say that every business should have a website and every website should have a blog. And it’s true. But more than that, you can monetize your blog in many ways (think eCommerce shop, services, online courses, and membership sites).
- It’s Easy: you don’t have to have any kind of technical skills to write a blog post. In fact, after learning how to start a blog, you’ll see that publishing content is really simple.
Of course, there are many other reasons why someone might decide to start a blog. But these are some of the most compelling reasons. So, let’s see how to get started.
What Platform Should You Use?
If you’re new to blogging, you might not know there are many reliable blogging platforms in the market you can use. In fact, some are even 100% free to use.
Here’s a list of the most popular blogging platforms around:
While any of these platforms will work for you, no matter your blogging needs, we recommend using the WordPress.org platform.
Not sure why WordPress.com won’t work for you?
Then check out this quick comparison and see for yourself:
The software is free to use. You must pay for a domain name and website hosting. You’ll also need to pay for premium themes and plugins.
This platform is completely free to use. You don’t have to buy a custom domain name or pay for web hosting.
You can use any free or premium WordPress theme or plugin to extend the design and functionality of your blog.
Bloggers are limited to the themes available on the platform. There are no plugins to extend the functionality of your site.
You are allowed to monetize your site in any way you see fit and keep everything you earn.
You are not allowed to sell ads on your blog. If you have enough site traffic, you may apply for advertising with revenue sharing. In other words, you have to share your earnings.
You’re responsible for all the maintenance of your blog, including site backups, security, and site optimization.
WordPress.com handles all site maintenance for you.
As you can see, each platform comes with plenty of benefits. That said, most bloggers enjoy the flexibility that comes with starting a WordPress.org blog, even though it has some upfront costs. This is why we recommend to anyone that wants to start a blog that they use the WordPress.org platform.
What Do You Need to Start a Blog?
In addition to having the WordPress.org software ready to install on your website, here are the things you’ll need to successfully start a blog:
- Domain name
- Website hosting account
- WordPress installation
- WordPress themes and plugins
And that’s it. Let’s start a WordPress blog!
Get a Domain Name
The first thing you’ll want to do is purchase and register a domain name for your blog. The domain name is the URL, or web address, that people type into their web browsers when they want to visit a website.
Your blog’s domain name is the way you and others identify your website. It also serves as a way to help you establish your brand, boost brand recognition, and tell people what you have to offer.
To get a custom domain name for you blog, you have to purchase and register the blog name. This way, no one else can claim the URL as their own. Domain name registration is good for one calendar year. After that, you have to renew your domain name so that no one else buys and registers it, thus capitalizing on all the success you’ve had for the year.
You can purchase and register your domain name through several companies. For example, NameCheap and Domain.com are popular (and affordable) options.
In addition, you may want to use a web host that offers domain name registrations as a side service. In fact, many of the best WordPress hosting companies around, offer free domain name registrations for the first year if you sign up for their web hosting services.
Sign Up for Website Hosting
The next step after deciding what you want your domain name to be is to sign up for web hosting. In this tutorial, we recommend new bloggers use Bluehost as their website hosting provider. It’s cheap, easy to use, and a great way to get started.
To sign up for website hosting, start by clicking the green ‘Get Started’ button. This will take you to the available hosting plans.
If you’re a new blogger, we recommend starting with the Basic plan. Since Bluehost is an official WordPress.org recommended host, you can expect to get all the features you need, even with such cheap web hosting.
Take a look at what Bluehost has to offer:
- Solid State Drive storage, which is designed to be blazing fast
- Unmetered bandwidth that can handle all site traffic
- Free SSL certificates for securing information shared between your site and visitors
- Built-in security measures
- Easy to use, WordPress optimized control panel (Bluerock)
- One-click WordPress installations
- Content delivery network (CDN) services for delivering site content faster across the globe
Once you choose the plan you want, you’ll be asked to create a new domain name or enter an existing one.
From there, you’ll fill out your account information, select a plan duration, choose extra services (e.g., SEO tools or domain name privacy), and enter your payment details. Keep in mind, you get the best value for your money when you go with a 36-month plan.
When you’re done, you’ll see a success message. Click Create Account to continue.
Now it will be time to create a password for your hosting account. After this, your account is ready to go. Click go to login to access your account.
You’ll then be asked to log into your account.
Set Up Your Hosting Account
Now that you have your domain name and web hosting, it’s time to set up your hosting account. In your account, you can manage account details and even start your blog.
When you log in for the first time, you’ll be asked to give your website a name, create a tagline, and choose to start a blog. These things can be changed later if you want.
When you choose to start a blog, you’ll be asked where you want to display you blog posts. The options include:
- Different page
Next, you’ll be prompted to select your goals. Just pick the options that matter most to you. In addition, you’ll be asked about your skill level. When you’re done, click Continue.
As you move through this process, you’ll realize that Bluehost strives to make things as easy as possible, even for those just starting out. For example, it provides hundreds of WordPress themes for you to pick from to help you start a blog. And the best part is, you can choose one now and change it later, or pick a theme later when you access your WordPress dashboard.
Start a Blog Using WordPress
Now that your web hosting account is all set up, it’s time to start a blog using the WordPress content management system. This means installing the WordPress software onto your website.
Next, give your website a name and a tagline and click Next.
Choose your domain name from the dropdown. You’ll notice there are some helpful free plugins that come pre-installed on your website. You can choose to install them now if you want.
Bluehost will then set up your website for you. To log into your site and access the dashboard you have two options. You can either go to www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin or click on My Sites in your Bluehost account and hover over the default theme.
If you click on My Sites, you’ll see two options:
- Manage Site
- Log into WordPress
Select Log into WordPress to access your site’s dashboard. Once there, you’ll be able to create content for your blog, add images, and much more.
Not sure where to start when it comes to creating your blog? Don’t worry, Bluehost has you covered. As one of the most standout features found with any web hosting provider, it provides users with a checklist in the Home section of your hosting account.
Here, you’ll see everything you need to get started with your blog.
Pick a WordPress Theme
When your blog is first created, it will look something like this:
It will seem very plain and have no written content, images, or comments. It’s up to you to customize the look and feel of your blog, starting with a WordPress theme.
The theme of your blog is what gives your entire website its visual appearance. If you didn’t choose a theme while setting up your web hosting account, now is the time. Just go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Then, click on WordPress.org Themes to find reliable and free themes found in the official WordPress Repository.
Here, you can search for themes based on categories like Featured, Favorites, and Popular. To find a specific theme, use the search bar.
If you’re looking for a particular feature, such as eCommerce compatibility, grid layout options, or the ability to add custom backgrounds, use the Feature Filter button to select features and filter the available options.
When you find a theme you like, you can preview what it looks like and get a small snippet of information by clicking Preview. To install it on your site, click Install and then Activate.
Once it’s activated, you can customize it to look however you want it to. To do this, click on the Customize button.
Here, you’ll find all sorts of things you can change:
- Color schemes
- Background images
- Navigation menus
- Custom CSS
- And more
No matter which theme you install on your blog, there will be some version of a Live Theme Customizer that allows you to make changes. Keep in mind, however, the elements you can change will vary depending on the theme you choose.
If you need a theme that comes with more features than a free theme offers, there are many reputable theme shops to look into:
- StudioPress: known for the popular and highly customizable Genesis Framework, StudioPress has many premium themes to pick from for all types of websites, including blogs.
- Elegant Themes: as a theme club, Elegant Themes offers users 2 premium themes and 3 premium plugins for social sharing, page building, and lead generation.
If you purchase a premium theme, you will receive the theme as a zip file. To install and activate it on your site, all you have to do is go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Then, click on Upload and then Upload Theme.
Next, browse for the zip file of your premium theme and click Install Now.
Once the theme is done installing on your site, click Activate to make the theme live on your blog.
Create Your First Blog Post
After you have a theme installed on your website, it’s time to create your first blog post.
To do this, go to Posts > Add New in your WordPress dashboard.
When you do this, you’ll see the Gutenberg Editor, which is the editing interface of all WordPress blogs. This editor makes it easy to create and format content and add images by allowing you to add and edit blocks of content.
To add a content block, click the (+) and choose the type of block you’d like to add to your blog post.
After writing your entire blog post and adding any images, all you have to do is click the Publish button to make your blog post live on your website.
Notice that underneath the ‘Publish’ area (in the document section), there are other sections to customize such as:
- Categories: broad groupings of your blog posts that help site visitors identify the content they want to read.
- Tags: specific groupings of your blog posts that give more detailed information about your content.
- Featured Image: the image that appears at the top of your blog posts.
- Excerpt: a small snippet telling people what your blog post is about.
Choose WordPress Plugins
WordPress themes help you with the visual appearance of your blog. WordPress plugins help you with the functionality of your blog.
Not unlike themes, there are thousands of free and premium WordPress plugins available for you to use. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with which ones are best to use. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of some of the most important ones (that happen to be free too!).
- Site Backups: UpdraftPlus and BackWPup are some of the best for backing your site up and storing a copy in a safe location – just in case.
- Security: Wordfence and All In One WP Security are great options for securing your WordPress site from outside threats.
- Speed and Performance: to boost site loading times, use a plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Fastest Cache.
- Social Media: making your content sharable using a plugin like Social Media Share Buttons and Icons is one of the easiest ways to boost your following and drive traffic to your site.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): if you want to improve search engine rankings, you should definitely use a plugin like Yoast SEO.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
To install a WordPress plugin that can be found on the WordPress Repository onto your blog, go to Plugins > Add New. There, you’ll need to search for the plugin you want to use.
When you find the one you want, click Install Now and then Activate. It’s now ready to be used on your site.
If you want to install a premium plugin you’ve purchased, go to Plugins > Add New and click the Upload Plugin button.
Just like you do with a premium theme, browse for the zip file of the plugin you want to install and click Install Now. Then, click Activate.
The plugins you install on your blog may or may not have a settings section that requires additional configuration.
And there you have it! You now have step by step instructions on how to start a blog. From getting a domain name to posting your first blog post, you are now equipped with everything you need to turn your dream of starting a blog into a reality.
Still not sure which type of web hosting to get for your blog? Be sure to check out this article about what to look for in an affordable web hosting provider to get started.
Have you recently decided to start a blog? If so, what’s holding you back? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below and help you get started!