One of the biggest concerns for me when I started my blog was what platform to use. I knew I had to purchase a domain name and hosting, but how to bring them together and make them work as a complete system was a mystery to me. Because I was new to blogging, I knew I wanted something easy, yet something that looked professional. However, the easy solutions that were already put together looked amateurish and unprofessional.
I decided to hire a graphic designer to help me with the logistics of uploading WordPress to my host and to create a custom theme and logo for me.
I had never worked with a designer before and knew nothing about how the process was supposed to work. I ended up paying for all of the services upfront, and sadly for me, it was a costly mistake ($600, which did not include my hosting or domain costs).
After months of waiting for her to complete the work, she stopped communicating with me completely. Left with an incomplete blog, I had to hire a web programmer to fix what she had left undone (another $150).
From start to finish, it took four months to set up my blog. A process that I was initially told would take 6-8 weeks. Starting a blog doesn’t have to be slow, expensive, or a hassle. In fact, if I had to do it again, this is exactly how I’d go about it.
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Here’s How to Start a Blog in 14 Easy Steps:
Step 1: Choose Your Blog Niche
Before choosing a domain name and theme, you need to figure out what topics your blog will cover. What are you going to write about regularly? You may already have an idea in mind, but if not, I suggest doing some intense brainstorming. Write a list of your passions, hobbies, and dreams, and a second list with your skills, experiences, and areas of expertise. Then start thinking about possible blog post ideas for each topic. If you’re coming up short on article ideas, it’s probably not the best topic for a niche.
You’ll want to take a good amount of time with this step, as your niche is the basis for everything else you’ll do with your blog. If you need more help picking a niche, check out this post for some helpful tips.
Step 2: Set Up Your Hosting Account
When I set up my hosting account, there were so many steps involved. I had to decide between a Linux or Windows account, then there was the whole separate c-panel, and FTP, I was totally lost. Save yourself a headache and use Bluehost. They have made the process so simple; anyone can do it, no tech experience needed. Besides being simple, Bluehost offers 24-7 support via phone, email, and chat — which you’ll want should you ever encounter a problem. They’re also affordable ($2.95 to $5.45 a month, plus a free domain), which is a huge plus if you’re launching your blog on a shoestring budget.
For step one, all you have to do is go to Bluehost.com and click on the green “Get Started Now” button.
Step 3: Select a Hosting Plan
With Bluehost, there are three hosting options to choose from:
- Basic for $2.95 per month
- Plus $5.45 per month
- Choice Plus $5.45 per month
These prices are only available through my link; normally it’s $7.99, $10.99, and $14.99 a month, respectively. If you have the funds, I’d suggest going with the Choice Plus Plan because you get more robust features, and it keeps your contact information private.
Step 4: Choose Your Domain Name
When you choose a domain name, you’ll want to follow three simple rules:
- Keep it simple. Refrain from using words that are hard to spell or remember.
- Use a dot.com when possible; it’s what most people remember when typing in a web address.
- Stay away from words with multiple spellings, for example: to, two, or too.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, type it into the search box and click next to see if it is available. You may need to brainstorm a few ideas to get the keywords and the dot.com that you want, but don’t worry; you’ll find one that works.
After you have your account created, you’ll be directed to a page where you need to select your hosting package. You can choose to pay for your hosting in a 12 month period, 24 month period, or a 36 month period — the longer the plan, the cheaper your price. Next, add your payment info and wait for an email confirmation of registration – this only takes a minute or two.
Step 6: Create Your Bluehost Account
Next, you’ll need to create your Bluehost credentials by choosing a password for your account. Once you do this step, you’ll log in to your account to answer some basic questions.
Step 7: Answer Some Questions
The awesome thing about Bluehost is they make installing WordPress a snap! No tech background is needed. All you have to do is go through the guided prompts and answer the questions — it really is that easy! The following images are the steps you’ll go through.
Step 8: Pick a Blogging Theme
Now the fun part, picking a theme for your blog! Your theme is like a book cover; it’s your blog’s design element, including fonts, colors, layouts, navigation, and overall appearance.
There are both free and premium themes that you can use to customize your site. There is nothing wrong with using a free theme; in fact, many bloggers use a free theme along with the Elementor plugin for added functionality and design options.
However, if you’re willing to spend $35-$199, you can get a stylish, professional-looking theme that will make you stand out from the crowd. You can either purchase a theme from the marketplace, or you can purchase a theme through StudioPress (they are the industry standard). But if you’re working on a budget, there’s nothing wrong with using a free theme; Astra tends to be a good one to use. Just click on the theme you want to use and click install.
Step 9: Install WordPress
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you’ll be ready to install WordPress. Again, Bluehost makes the process so easy by guiding you through the steps!
Step 10: Create a Logo
If you have room in your blogging budget, you may want to purchase a custom logo for your blog. Having a custom logo helps distinguish you from other bloggers, which helps with your overall branding.
But if you’re running short on cash, there are some affordable and free options available.
For $5, you can search for a designer in the freelance marketplace, Fiverr. Some designers charge more, but there are plenty of talented designers who are looking to build their portfolios and will create a one-of-a-kind logo for you for just $5. If you don’t have it in your budget right now, you can use a free template from Canva.
Step 11: Create Parent and Child Categories
In step one, you figured out your blogging niche; now it’s time to break that down into four main, or parent categories. For instance, if you’re starting a recipe blog, your four parent categories might be:
- Breakfast recipes
- Lunch recipes
- Dinner recipes
Now, under each parent category, you’ll want to list out your child categories. In this case, the parent category, breakfast, may have:
Having properly structured parent and child categories makes it easier for your readers (and Google) to understand and navigate your blog’s content. It will also make it easier for you to come up with new blog post ideas.
Step 12: Write Your First Blog Post
Now the part that you’ve been waiting for, writing your first blog post! Since you’ve already chosen your niche and mapped out your parent and child categories, this should be easy in terms of what to write about.
Here are some simple tips to get started:
- Create a catchy title that will reel readers in.
- Break up your content by using sub-headers (H2 and H3).
- Add images to your post to help break up content and enhance the overall idea of the post.
- Proofread your post for correct spelling and grammar (I like to use Grammarly).
- Is your post helpful? Does it cover the topic in-depth?
Step 13: Marketing Your Blog
Before you can start making money from your blog, you need to market it — basically, let people know about it.
Here are some of the most popular methods for getting traffic and marketing your new blog.
Word of Mouth
After I launched my blog, the first thing I did was sent out an email to all of my family and friends, letting them know about my new endeavor. Not only did I ask them to check it out, but I also asked them to spread the word if they knew of anyone who could benefit from it. This act alone helped to build traffic and momentum to my newly launched site.
To help spread the word about new posts on your blog, you’ll want to create social media profiles with various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Each platform has its own pros and cons, and which ones you choose to use will depend on your niche, where your audience hangs outs, and what platforms you prefer. I suggest starting with two and investing time in nurturing and growing them before adding more to the mix.
From the day you launch your blog, you need to start collecting email addresses from your readers so that you can remain in contact with them. To do this, you’ll need to sign up with an email marketing provider. Don’t worry; you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started; in fact, you can get a free account with Constant Contact or Sendinblue.
Once you’re signed up — you’ll install forms and sign-up boxes on your blog so you can collect the reader’s email addresses and then send them regular correspondence.
This post explains email marketing in more detail so you can get the hang of it quickly.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, you want search engines, like Google, to index and rank your content high in their algorithm so that when people do an internet search — your content is easily found (preferably on page one).
When you research and write your content, you’ll want to consider your niche, keywords, questions, and phrases that individuals are searching for and intertwine these into your blog posts. This is an oversimplified definition, but it gives you the gist of what SEO can do your blog.
This article talks more about SEO so you can start learning the ropes.
Step 14: Start Making Money From Your Blog
There are so many ways to earn money from your blog, from direct ad sales and ad networks to affiliate marketing and digital earning – so make sure to check out these must-read articles.
Be sure to grab my FREE blogging e-book, where you’ll learn tips for creating awesome content, getting traffic, and monetizing your blog.
I’m obviously a huge fan of starting a blog, but there are many reasons why you should consider blogging too. You get to work in a niche that you love, it’s easy and affordable to get started, and it offers freedom, flexibility, and financial stability.
Do you want to start a blog? What’s holding you back? What questions do you have about the setup process? Drop me a note below, and I’ll respond to your question personally.
Originally published in July 2015. Content updated in October 2020.