This is a step by step guide on how to start a blog. I’m talking about how to start a self hosted wordpress blog, so that you’re able to make money from it, and in this post I’ll show you the easiest way to set it up with minimum fuss. Anyone can do this, regardless of technical expertise – it’s just a case of following some really simple instructions.
So you’ve decided that you’re going to start your own blog. I’m excited for you, as I know from my own experience what the potential of blogging is, in terms of enjoyment and income potential. If you’re still not sure about whether blogging is for you, read my earlier post Why to start a blog.
Step 1: Decide what you’re going to blog about.
There are no rules here. You can have as wide or as narrow a subject focus as you wish. For example you may have a very specific passion that you want to create your blog about, such as racing drones or breeding lizards, or you may want to blog more generally about design or about personal finance, travel or fitness. Like I say, there are no rules, just make sure that whatever you’re planning to blog about is a subject that you’re interested in.
I would advise against thinking about income potential when you’re planning the theme of your blog, as the bloggers who generally end up doing very well are those who’re blogging about area’s which really excite them and which they know about. You see, being successful in blogging requires one major thing – carrying on going. There are many people who pick niches which seem profitable, but which they’re not really interested in, and then get bored after a month or two as it’s just not a subject that floats their boat. It’s fair to say that there are niches which lend themselves better to profit, but in my experience there is money to be made from blogs on practically any subject, and the important thing is that you enjoy blogging about your subject, so you keep on going.
Step 2: Register your domain name FREE & set up your wordpress hosting account.
The reason this is step two, is it may be appropriate depending on the subject of your blog, to include something about the niche in the domain name. This isn’t crucial, many successful blogs are on completely abstract domain names, or the bloggers own name as the domain name for example. But if there is a niche specific word within the domain name it can potentially make things slightly easier further down the line when it comes to your blog posts being ranked well for search terms which included that word, so it’s worth considering.
You’ll notice that I considered this when choosing the domain name for this blog, and this is something that I usually do with my blogs, as I find that keyword match in domain is still a positive for Google ranking, although many Google experts will argue that it no longer really matters.
I would recommend a .com over all other extensions, unless you’re blogging about a subject which is specific to a particular country. For example my coffee blog is specifically about coffee in the UK, so it’s on a .co.uk domain.
Once you have an idea what domain name you’re wanting to use, go to Bluehost and set up your hosting account, and register your free domain.
Don’t worry if you still haven’t chosen the domain name at this point, you can choose to set up the hosting and then come back later and choose the free domain name.
Bluehost are one of the most popular hosting companies for wordpress. There are many other companies out there that you could host with, I use hostgator for some of my domains, and I’ve used several other hosts over the years. I recommend Bluehost, especially to anyone new to blogging , because the value for money is excellent, they offer great technical support, they have a money back guarantee in case you decide for any reason that you would like to cancel. They have developed a fantastic reputation over the past few years, and most users have nothing but praise for them, which is quite rare for hosting companies.
Click here to start the process of creating your hosting account and choosing your domain name.
By the way, you’ll see there are other packages that they will try to upsell you to. You don’t really need any of these, you’ll be fine with the cheapest basic package. If you want it even cheaper, then choose the 36 month option.
Step 3. Connect your domain to your hosting account
If you haven’t decided on Bluehost for hosting, or if you have gone for Bluehost but you already have a domain registered via another registrar that you want to use, then you’ll need to connect the domain to the hosting account by setting the name servers.
Just go to your domain reg account and look for the support page which will give you the instructions for setting the name servers. Here are the Go Daddy nameserver instructions, HostGator nameserver settings instructions, and NameCheap nameserver settings instructions.
You can look within your domain registration account for your nameservers, which will look something like:
You then need to go into your hosting account, and set up your domain – which is just a case of clicking “add domain” or “assign” – it’s very straightforward.
If you are using Bluehost for your hosting and your free domain, then you can skip this. If you are using Bluehost with your own domain, then just follow your domain reg instructions with regard changing the name servers, then login to your Bluehost account, click “domains”, and then click on “assign”.
Step 4. Install wordpress.
If you’re using Bluehost, installing wordpress is fast, free & very easy.
All you do, is look for “One Click Install” within your Bluehost account, and select “WordPress” under the “blogs” section – and click START.
You will then be asked to choose which domain to install the blog on, if you have more than one domain.
Under “Advanced Options” you need to create the admin user and pass. Whatever you do, do not use admin as the admin user name. Automated hacking software is always set up to try this as the user name first as it’s the most common, so use something else more secure, not something obvious.
Tick the checkbox which says “Automatically create a new database”, and then click “Install Now”.
Save your user name and pass somewhere secure.
Step 5. Basic settings.
In the left hand sidebar, click “general” under “Settings.
Give your blog a Title. You can see the title of this blog is “How to Start a Blog”.
Under this, create your tagline. You’ll see the title of this blog is “Starting your Own Profitable WordPress Blog. Everything You Need to Know.”
Have a look at the other things on this page and see if there is anything else that needs changing, date format, time zone etc., but there’s nothing else crucial in the general settings.
Step 6. Choose your theme.
There are free themes within wordpress, you can choose one of these, or you can go for a premium theme. I very much like the MyThemeShop themes, they have a number of themes, one of which I use for my SEO Blog. Customizr themes, which I use for this blog and for my coffee blog, are also great themes and very easy to customize, hence the name. Genesis is a very adaptable theme framework, and is one of the most popular.
If you’re not sure on the theme, my advice would be to just select any free responsive wordpress theme for now, and just edit the basic settings as per the steps below – and start blogging.
Responsive means that the blog will respond to the size of the screen that is being used to view the blog, and a responsive theme helps to ensure you have a mobile friendly blog, which is important. You want your blog to look great on all devices including smart phones and tablets, and mobile friendliness is a Google ranking factor too.
To choose your theme, select “Appearance” and then “Themes”. To select a free theme just click “add new theme”, and you’ll then see lots and lots of free themes. You can select one which you like the look of, and then click “live preview” so you can see how it will look, and then just click “activate” to turn the theme on. If you don’t like it, just choose another one. Most of the premium themes are responsive now, but some of the free ones might not be, so just look for the word “responsive” if you’re installing a free theme – and to be sure, check your blog on your smart phone to see if it looks correct.
On this page you will also see the link “upload theme”, this is what you would click if you have purchased and downloaded a premium theme – you would then see your theme in the list when you go to “themes” and you just activate it as you would a free theme, and then follow the instructions provided by the theme creator for customizing your theme.
When it comes to modifying your theme until you’re completely happy with the design of your blog, my recommendation would be don’t put any effort into this until you are sure about the theme you’re going with. Putting lots of time and effort in to the layout and design if you’re not yet sure of which theme you’re going to stick with, could mean having to repeat a lot of this a bit further down the line. For example if you’re just using a free theme for now and will go for a premium theme a bit later, don’t worry about spending time tweaking the design until you have installed the premium theme.
Just get started blogging, and try not to worry too much for now about the look and feel of the blog. If you go for any of the premium themes I mentioned above, you’ll be able to get it looking just how you want it over time, with some help from the support folk at the theme creators if needs be – and if you start off with one of the free themes, that will be fine for now, you can always setup a custom theme later, it’s very simple.
When I am starting new blogs, I just start out with something like twenty seventeen, and I jump in to creating blog posts once I’ve done the basic set up. Then, once I have started to get somewhere with publishing posts, I’ll then look at installing either the Genesis framework or another premium theme such as one of the MyThemeShop themes, or Customizr Pro.
YAY – You now have your own wordpress blog!
The above steps are the basics that you need to do in order to get going. There are quite a few other things you can and should do, including integrating social media, setting up widgets and so on, but my advice is to start off by writing your first blog post. Just jump straight in and start blogging, instead of getting too caught up right in the beginning with all of the set up stuff.
If you read my post writing wordpress blog posts, I talk about blogging in terms of specifically the blog post writing, so that might be a good thing for you to start with.