Been beating yourself up about not starting that blog yet? Or procrastinating because you don’t think you have the expertise to start one? Then you’re in the right place! All that’s been holding you back from starting ends today. You’ll finally be able to start your blog! And the best part? You don’t have to be a computer geek to do it.
This beginner’s guide will give you step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on how to create your blog, get a domain name, and choose a design for your blog. With this guide, you’ll have everything you need to successfully build your first blog.
6 Easy Steps for Starting a Blog
- Pick your blogging platform.
- Choose a host for your blog.
- Decide a domain name.
- Set up WordPress (the easy way).
- Choose and customize a design.
- Start writing!
1. Pick a blogging platform
This is what you’ll use to run your blog. You can choose from many blogging platforms like Wix, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, etc. However, WordPress is the best option among these for a few reasons:
- It is beginner-friendly
- It makes blogging easy
- It lets you have a domain name for your site.
- It doesn’t have monthly fees. You only need to pay for a host and a domain name
- It has over 5,000 themes to choose from
- It lets you make money from your blog
- It is the go-to blogging platform as 91% of all blogs are powered by WordPress.org!
Before you go off and sign up right away, first learn how to install WordPress seamlessly in 4 simple steps. But before that, let’s tackle an essential question you’re probably thinking:
“Can I start a blog for free on a site like Blogger?”
Yes, you can create your blog on free platforms like Blogger. However, there are several disadvantages to using it that you need to know.
Your Site will be Hard to Find
A site address like “yourblog.com” looks catchy and attractive, right? But using a free site means you’ll have to settle for an address like “yourblogname.blogger.com” — and this means your content will only be visible to a few people.
You Can’t Control the Content
If you mistakenly break one of their rules, your blog can be taken down, and you’ll lose all the content you’ve put there.
You Can’t Customize Your Site to Your Taste
How boring will your site be if you can’t tweak it to reflect your style? With free blogging platforms, you have limited themes, which means your site will be like everyone else’s. Also, some plugins are not available to enable functionality like calendars or online shops and many more.
It’s Expensive to Switch to a Self-Hosted Site
Switching from a free site to another site like WordPress (which gives more control to your site), is hard. It could take hours and lots of formatting to make the switch.
Others May Profit From Your Hard Work
If you are using a free platform, they place unauthorized free ads on your site. And even worse, you don’t get paid for the ads on your site. So, it’s better to choose WordPress so you can get paid if ads are on your site.
Thinking about how much it’ll cost for a self-hosted WordPress blog? It costs less than 10 dollars monthly – and it comes with a customizable design, added control and flexibility, and your own domain name.
2. Choose a host for your blog
Your next step after choosing a platform is choosing a web hosting service. Hosting is a platform where all your blog properties — like content — are stored as files so they can be viewed through the web. Which means, it’s possible for anyone to see your blog online.
Here are 3 essential things to consider when it comes to hosting.
Uptime: Choose a host that will always be available and online. You don’t want one that’ll go offline at random intervals.
Support: You need prompt response and support from genuine experts in case any problem arises.
Price: You should be charged a reasonable price for the deal without having to incur hidden fees.
However, if you want a fair deal that is secure and reliable, then Bluehost is what you need because:
- it offers hassle free and fast WordPress installation
- its uptime is excellent
- they’ve been endorsed by WordPress since 2005.
You can get an amazing plan for just $3.75 monthly with a FREE domain name for one year.
You’re not limited to Bluehost alone though; you can use other services that WordPress supports. But this guide gives you the best options possible. And to explain the configuration process, we’ll be using Bluehost.
Sign up with Bluehost and get a discounted hosting service that comes with a free domain. Then hit the big green bar to get started!
Note: The site may look a bit different, but the steps remain the same. Hit the “Get Started” button and you’re on your way.
Choose the “Basic” Plan and Save Some Cash
The Basic option is recommended for beginners. There’s always room to upgrade later when or if you choose to.
Click here to go to Bluehost or Click here to learn How to Start a Successful Blog in 2019
3. Decide on a domain name
Your domain name is the address detail that people can find you with. It looks something like this: www.yourblogname.com. Advisably, you should get a “.com” if you can because it’s the easiest for people to remember. Other options like “.net” or “.co” are good as well if the “.com” choice isn’t available.
If you’re struggling to find a name for your domain, try NameStation or Instant Domain Search to get dozens of inspiration for available domain names. Just enter a keyword or topic to get them.
Fill the Form on the Right
If you have a domain name already, fill out the form on the right. Once you’ve done that, click the “next” button.
Complete Your Registration
Just three quick parts to complete in this step. First, use a real email address to add your account information because you’ll need it to log in.
Choose Your Package and Optional Extras
Afterward, choose the option you want for your account. The first option is the “Account Plan” which lasts for 12, 24, or 36 months. 12 is the best option. Why select that option? Although, paying for 3 years upfront will save you more money, choosing 12 months is a reasonable price because you may decide not to blog again after a year. Plus, you won’t have to break the bank at once. Also, you can choose to add additional features if you want.
For beginners, most extras are a waste of money. But if you choose to, there are two extras worth considering.
- Domain Privacy – $0.99 per month
When you buy a domain, your contact info is added to a public database by law, but when you purchase privacy, Bluehost details will be listed instead. That way, you won’t be spammed with numerous calls from telemarketers.
- CodeGuard Basic – $2.99 per month
CodeGuard basic ensures a secure and regular backup of your site so that you don’t lose your contents to hack or glitch.
Note: if you don’t want to add an optional feature, be sure to unmark the boxes before you proceed.
Enter Billing Details
There is more than one payment option. Fill in your credit card details and if you prefer to pay with PayPal, select “more payment options” at the top, above the fields.
Set a Password and Log in
You’ll come across something similar to the screen below. Click the “Create your password” button.
Lastly, click the “Login” button. Wasn’t that easy? Soon, you’ll receive an email from Bluehost with your login details, and an activation link. In case you can’t find it, check your spam folder.
4. Set up WordPress
Don’t worry, you’re almost done!
On the screen that appears next is an option to pick a theme. Skip this step and click the link beneath the picture themes. You’ll learn more on how to explore better options later on in the guide. But if you’ve chosen a theme, you can change it later.
Next, click the “Start Building” button. If you click the “Or, go to my Bluehost account” link by mistake, just click the back button. Your screen should display something like the one below.
Great! This is your WordPress dashboard. Now you can post all the fantastic content you want.
If you want to log into your WordPress, you don’t need to go back to Bluehost, just log in to your WordPress dashboard by typing in “http://www.[YOUR DOMAIN NAME].com/wp-admin”. Be sure to replace [YOUR DOMAIN NAME] with your real domain name. You can even bookmark it afterward.
You’ll notice a few various tabs on the sidebar; skip and don’t click any of them for now.
- Posts: Create new blog posts and view or edit old ones.
- Media: Upload photos and files and check uploaded media files.
- Pages: Create static pages.
- Comments: Manage the comments on your published posts.
- Appearance: Select new themes or edit existing ones.
- Users: Enables you to add users to create content together or enable users to edit blog posts.
- Plugins: Allows you to add or remove plugins for new features on your blog.
Next, you’ll have to choose between these two plans – business or personal. Choose the option that best fits you for now. Keep in mind that it’s flexible so you can always make changes whenever you want.
If you choose “Business” or “Personal,” you’ll come across something like this.
- Site Title is where you add your blog’s name. No need to add “www.”, write it in plain English.
- A tagline is where you add a concise and interesting description of what your blog is about. Write like you are describing your blog to a friend or a potential client.
And don’t worry, you can edit it later if you want.
Next, a screen will pop up asking if you’d want to update your site with new blog posts. Click the “yes” button. With this, you have the option to show what you’d like for visitors to see on your site’s homepage – whether it’s a recent blog post or a fixed homepage. It’s advisable that you choose the former if you’re setting up a blog.
Afterward, you’ll see the “Contact Us” set up page. If you prefer messages being sent to you through your site, you can set it up.
There is an option to link your “Jetpack” profile to WordPress to enhance security, increase traffic to your site, and track your site’s progress. And Jetpack is free, so you can set it up quickly too.
5. Choose and customize your design
Here comes the most exciting part: choosing a design you love. These designs are referred to as “Themes,” so don’t be confused when you see them.
You get to choose from over 5000 available themes. However, you can spend hours so caught in the rabbit hole of trying to choose a design, so be careful you don’t fall into this trap.
Next is the installation part; to get access to the themes, click the “Appearance” bar and you’ll see a screen pop up like the one below.
To get started, click the “Add New Theme” bar.
6. Start writing!
Writing a blog post is easy. You can use Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or Pages. These are some essential features that will guide you in the process.
To start, click “Posts” in the sidebar and click “Add New.”
You’ll see a user-friendly editor page that looks like MS Word.
The features you’ll see there are:
1. Title area: You’ll add the title of your blog post here.
2. Content area: The body content of your post goes in here. You can make changes to your text or edit it.
3. Standard editing tools: This is where your editing tools are like paragraphs, headlines, italics, and lists.
4. Publishing Tools: This is where your post goes live for the world to see.
- Notice the big blue “Publish” bar you’ll click when your post is ready.
- If you’re not ready to publish your work, click “Save Draft” to save it.
- To test-run your blog post without publishing it right away, click the “Preview” button to see how it will look like when published.
- There are also options for scheduling posts for the future, making posts private or public (this will require a password), or unpublishing a post by changing it from “Stats” back to “Draft.”
Headings give your content structure and make it easier to read. For instance, the heading, “Adding headings” in this post gives structure to the post.
Headings also make it easier for people to scan your post to find what they need. Consider adding headings or subheadings to all your posts.
If you want to add a heading, locate the “Paragraph” tool and select the heading you want to use from the drop-down menu.
Keep in mind that “Heading 1” is used for the post’s title, so it is advisable to stick to smaller headings in your post.
Adding links to other credible sites in your content is a great idea. WordPress makes it easy to do this. To add links, highlight the text you want to use as a link; then click the icon on the menu that looks like a chain. Add the URL of the link you want to use. After that, click the settings icon next to the blue arrow on the right.
Next, click the “Open the link in a new tab” box. It’s important you do this so people won’t leave your site when they click on a link.
To add images, scroll up to the top of the page menu and click the “Add Media” bar at the upper left corner of the menu.
Select the file(s) you want to upload. If you want to locate previously uploaded files, you can click the “Media Library” to access them so you don’t need to upload them again. Once you’re done uploading, you can choose where you want to paste the file in your post and also choose the size you want it to be.
Adding a “Featured Image”
Have you come across a blog post that had an image right after the title of the post? That image is called a “featured image.” It will also be used as a thumbnail of your article when you share it on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
When you move your cursor to the right sidebar on your blog menu, you’ll notice the “Set featured image” option.
Click on the bar, then use the same uploading process explained above to select and add an image.
Adding Videos From YouTube
Videos are awesome. They bring your content to life.
To add a YouTube video, copy the URL of the YouTube video you want. Then paste the URL you copied into the area of your WordPress blog you want it.
Don’t add any text before and after the URL. The link should be on its own line and shouldn’t be clickable.
Once you publish the post, the video will show on the published post.
Customizing Your “Slug”
A slug is the address/URL of your post. Let’s say your domain name is “yourblogname.com,” the slug would be the name of the post you are publishing, like “yourblogname.com/my-post/.”
The extra part at the end is the slug. Just be sure to make it clear and concise.
On WordPress, there is always a default slug on every post but it’s usually long. You can change it to make it more concise and easier to remember.
Tips to Optimize Your WordPress slugs
- Target SEO keywords. Research likely words people type to Google when they search for the information you shared in the post. Those words are called SEO keywords.
- Don’t duplicate slugs from different posts on your website.
- Don’t change the slug after you have published the post, you may lose traffic.
Publish Your Post
All set now?
Good! Now you can click that “Publish” button. Then click the “View post” action bar to see your new post live on the internet.
Congratulations, you’ve just published your first blog post!