Thousands of articles on the Internet answer the question how to start a blog but most of them only speak about the very first steps, such as choosing a hosting or blogging platform, registering a domain name. It’s not just as simple as that. Before creating a blog, you need to think about its topic, structure, monetization strategy, etc. In this guide, I tried to summarize my own experience and recommend you those tactics and services that I personally used and trusted. This guide might look quite extensive if you scroll down the page, so to make it easy, I first give you the plan below.
The entire process of starting a blog, described thoroughly in this post, took me 10 minutes, I guess it’s not too much time to get a life-changing opportunity!
This is part 1 of 4 of the Starting a Blog series.
1. How to Start a Blog in 10 Minutes
2. How to Choose a Domain Name
3. Checklist for Starting a Blog on WordPress (10 essential details most newbies forget!)
4. How to Make Money Blogging
FAQ: How do you start your own blog for free?
Yes, it’s possible. If you are looking at starting a blog as a hobby, then you can start it for free on one of the platforms: WordPress, Ghost, Tumblr, Weebly, Medium, Wix, and others.
But imagine, even if you started it as a hobby and after a while, you realized this actually is your dream job and you want to start making money with your blog. If you started a blog on a free platform, your monetization (making money on a blog) options will be very limited. Then you’ll need to move all the blog content, images, etc., everything that you built, to a paid platform, and you will definitely need some technical specialist to help you with this. So, you will have to pay for moving your site and all that you saved by starting a blog for free, plus much more will be spent on the switch.
This post contains affiliate links to Bluehost and other hosting companies. This means I might receive a commission if you buy their hosting using my link. For more information, see my disclosures here.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
1. How to start a blog on WordPress
The choice of blogging platform should be defined by your resources. If you are about to create a blog first time in your life, you probably need a platform, which is widely used, easy to maintain and has a large community of users around it, so when need help or advice, you can easily find other people who use the same platform. If this all applies to you, WordPress.org is your best choice. And will hardly be replaced anytime soon because of the enormous amount of themes, widgets, marketing automation tools available for WordPress website owners. When your blog gets bigger, probably you will need to find a professional to help you improve the site, with WordPress it will be easy and relatively cheap because there is a huge competition between technical experts who work with WordPress platform.
Another question is whether to use WordPress.com as a free hoster or pay for a self-hosted blog. If you create a blog just for fun, then the free WordPress.com hosting will serve you fine. But if you are serious about starting a blog and see it as a potential source of income, you should consider a little of investment for hosting.
You see, free stuff is great, but it always implies certain limitations. If you choose to host your blog for free on WordPress.com, you won’t be able to use display ads and some widgets. A blog on another free hosting – Blogger (belongs to Google), can run ads, but it will always earn less than a similar blog on a paid hosting.
Some of you could think, not a big deal – I’ll start with a free blog, and when I see how it goes, I’ll switch to a paid platform. Well, to be honest, for you as a beginner, ensuring a simple transfer of all your content to another platform, can be quite a difficult task. As I said, if you are serious about creating a successful website, the best way is to start a self-hosted blog on the WordPress content management system.
2. Domain name check and registration
When you are thinking through some domain name ideas, it’s important to understand that there is no single recipe for success in websites naming. On the one hand, having a name that explains the purpose or the main topic of your site, is a common practice. On the other, sometimes choosing a weird or fun word can help a company to stand out against competitors, such as Apple with their fruity name among computer monsters like IBM or Microsoft, or like Google, which became, after all, an actual verb (“to google”).
You can choose either of these strategies, just remember about a couple of additional tips:
- The golden rule of naming – make it as short as possible and easy to memorize.
- Domains in .com zone are always preferable because users automatically think of .com when they memorize domains.
- Don’t use numbers and hyphens in your domain, they are difficult to read and remember.
Domain name registration can be done separately from your hosting. You can find some domain name registrars online and buy a domain from one of them. But you can also use a hosting + domain name package and purchase both things together from a hosting company. For example, Bluehost, my preferred hosting to start a WordPress blog, offers a free domain name if you register hosting.
You can use this handy Bluehost’s tool to check whether the domain you are thinking about is available:
3. How to set up a website hosting on Bluehost
First, let me explain why I recommend Bluehost as a hoster for your brand new WordPress blog. From the step by step guide that follows, you’ll see that WordPress will be installed, and your site will start working so smoothly by just clicking on a few buttons in Bluehost’s interface, that you don’t need any technical skills to set it up.
Also, when choosing a hosting, it’s like trusting your child to a babysitter, you can’t compromise here, you have to choose from the best and most trustable hosters, and Bluehost is definitely the leader of its market. Why reliable hosting is so important? Because the hoster is the keeper of all your website content, hours and hours of work and creativity invested into it, everything is entrusted to the hoster. So you want to make sure that the hosting company is big enough, has many years of strong history, and that customer support is always there for you in any urgent situation. All of the above applies to Bluehost, in addition to very attractive (better than the average on the market) prices.
Enough talking, time to act! Let’s get it done; I’m sure you can’t wait to see your first blog post live!
1) Get to Bluehost through this link anastasiablogger.com/bluehost. If everything goes well, I might receive an affiliate commission for recommending you Bluehost, so thank you for support! But I honestly advocate for Bluehost, I use it for my own blog and their support is available 24 hours, they helped me a lot when I was at the start, just like you. If you sign up through my link, you’ll also get a FREE DOMAIN NAME (a $11-15 value, depending on how “beautiful” is your domain) with your hosting plan. It’s a nice bonus, isn’t it?
So if you made up your mind, just push the green “Get Started Now” button.
2) Since you already know which domain you’d like to use, type it into the box “new domain” and follow to the next step.
3) Provide your contact info and create an account.
4) In the section that includes all the “package information,” you might prefer to select 36 months because this option offers you the best monthly payment. You will be charged for 36 months upfront but no worries about it, Bluehost has a refund policy. If you decide to give up their services before the 36 months were fully used, Bluehost will make a refund for the remaining months.
In my experience, having your hosting paid in advance is safer because if you forget to renew it at the end of every billing period, your blog will go offline and if you don’t act fast, the site it can be removed from the hosting permanently.
The form will offer you additional services and options, but for now, you don’t need to focus on them because they will always be available from the Bluehost’s account. If you are not sure whether you need these options or not, just uncheck them at this point.
Complete the payment, check the box of service agreements and click Next.
5) Hurrah! You just created your Bluehost user account, and now you need to set up your password for it. Make sure it’s a secure password because it’s the key to all your site’s content. And of course, don’t forget this password!
6) Keep calm, after I created the password, the page was loading for about 2 min until I saw the image below. Now you can log into your account for the first time!
7) Bluehost is offering you to choose one of these cute WordPress themes. Pick whichever you like for now, these are just examples and you can easily change the theme later.
7) Now you can go straight to setting up your site in WordPress
8) On the next step, you are offered to choose which type of site you are going to create – business or personal site.
9) Click Launch site, for now, if you need additional settings, you can do it later.
10) You are asked now to set up Title and Description for your site. When you think of them, keep in mind that these two should include some keywords relevant to your niche. However, you don’t have to overthink this at the moment. You can edit and improve your title and description at any time later.
11) Basically, it’s all done! Congratulations! You have a site with a name, you can now start creating your first post!
4. Choose the Best WordPress Theme for your Blog
Before you start reading this part, take a little break, have a nice cup of coffee because you deserve it. Yes! You just did it!!!
You’ve created a WordPress blog, and it’s time to think about its looks. What determines the looks of your site, is called THEME. If you are going to make money on your blog, you should seriously consider an investment into a premium theme. In my blog I’m currently using the X-Theme, it’s extensively customized by Nuno, but if you like it, you can buy it from the developer on the Envato marketplace, like we did.
Why would you pay for WordPress premium themes?
1) SEO: Google prefers sites on premium themes
The free blog templates, besides looking too basic, have another disadvantage that can affect your blog’s earning potential – Google doesn’t really appreciate blogs made on free themes as they usually look unprofessional and thus the sites made on them can’t compete against other websites. SEO (search engine optimization) includes thousands of factors influencing your site’s rankings, and a premium theme is one of the positive signals for Google.Premium themes are designed to bring you income.
2) Premium WordPress themes are designed to bring you income
Besides that, many premium themes are created specifically for money-making blogs, so the pre-defined structure of the site makes it easier to start generating revenue from your content. Getting the most of your audience involves using social media, email marketing, sometimes e-commerce functionality – it all depends on your business model, and it’s impossible to get this with a free WordPress template. In premium themes, you’ll have the most necessary functionality pre-installed, and for a beginner, it’s the best solution.
3) Mobile friendly (responsive design)
Most of the premium themes nowadays are made with mobile users in mind. It means that your blog will look equally well and be easy to use on any device – desktop computer, tablet or a smartphone of any size and resolution. I don’t have to explain to you how important is the mobile audience in 2017, right? Just check out your own online browsing habits, and you’ll notice that half of the time, if not most of the time, you go to the Internet via some kind of mobile device. With free themes, you are never guaranteed to have the best quality on every device. The authors of free WordPress themes don’t get paid for extra efforts, so why would they worry about it?
4) You don’t need tech skills to create a pro-looking blog
It’s difficult enough learning dozens of tools and marketing strategies to monetize your blog, if you start digging the technical implementation on yourself, it will just take away all your enthusiasm at the very start of your marathon. I’ve been there, I know what I’m talking about.
For a price of 80-120 USD, you can get a premium theme and forget about all the technical stuff that you away wouldn’t be able to implement as professionally as the developers and designers who work on it from 9-6 every day
5) Support of theme developer and community
Most popular premium theme developers value their customers and provide support on their forums. For a beginner, it’s always important to have a place where someone can professionally reply to your questions. At least the company I’d recommend you to work with – StudioPress – has a very active support forum and community.
WordPress Genesis Framework and Child Themes
So, what could you start with? There is a platform highly appreciated by most of the bloggers, from beginners to professionals – it’s Genesis Framework. To explain to you what is it, I’ll use the analogy of a Barbie doll. Genesis framework is the plastic body of the toy – the foundation, and then you can choose any kind of clothes to make your doll look pretty – these are the Child Themes.
The designers of Child Themes create templates for different types of sites, like a typical blog, an online magazine, an e-commerce site, etc. And they do the most time-consuming job of matching the colors with the blog’s topic and audience tastes, selecting the best fonts, defining the structure of the site, and so on. As for you, all you need to do is to choose one of the themes available in the library, purchase it and download it. It will save you a lot of time and definitely keep you away from many technical details of building sites.
Genesis Framework was developed by a company called StudioPress, they also offer their own child themes, and if you like them, I can share with you a nice hack: when you buy themes in a pack with Genesis Framework, you get a good discount. StudioPress Themes are categorized by topics so you can choose the perfect theme for your topic.
It’s important to understand that if you start your blog on Genesis Framework, this will make future design/theme changes so much easier! Like I said, you’re getting a Barbie doll, and all you have to do later is to put on her a new lovely dress. Genesis Framework has an entire community behind it, so if you have any issues or questions, their support forums and tutorials will save you a lot of time!
Let’s look into the lovely dress (Child Theme) wardrobe 🙂 I really like Glam Pro Theme + Genesis Framework for $129.95. You will notice that the colors they use are similar to my blog, and I think they perfectly fit a female lifestyle blog.
I know that many of my favorite bloggers use Foodie Pro Theme that stands out with its minimalist approach and clean design aiming to give emphasis on images that you post.
To understand better what Genesis Framework does and how it works with Child themes, you can download this (FREE) PDF file The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF – 1.4 MB) from StudioPress.
FAQ: How bloggers get paid?
Read my post about ways bloggers make money here. Don’t forget to read my list of things newbies always forget to set in their new blogs!
6. Don’t be shy, girl! 🙂
If you are still with me reading this page, you are already equipped with all the tools you need to start the blog of your dream! You have a domain name, you purchased hosting, installed a cute theme, now it’s time to let your creative self go wild and start writing fantastic posts, taking photos and videos.
Don’t get intimidated in front of the technical part, just start a blog today and pass each test step by step. It’s impossible to know everything at the starting point where you are now, believe me, no one of those successful bloggers with 6-figure income knew everything from the beginning. But you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll see how exciting it’s to track your blog growing and bringing you to the desired economic level!
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