A little under 6 years ago, I started a blog where I shared my crafts and promoted my products and online business. If back then, someone would have said to me that I needed a self-hosted blog on the WordPress.org platform for better SEO and ranking, I would have probably made a face like a deer in the headlights. I was clueless.
But little did I know, that blogging would turn out to be one of my greatest passions. I started small, with zero to very low expectations, writing on the Blogger platform. I never looked for ways to monetize, other than placing one or two AdSense codes on my sidebar. I was oblivious, and totally unaware of the full potential that I had in my hands. That, and I was also busy building my Etsy business.
Until one day, it hit me. Four years later, it finally hit me.
Today, I want it to be the day when it finally hits you. I want today to be the day when you finally take the leap and start your own blog. A real one. And when I say a real one, I really mean it. I want you to take my experience and my reasons, and make the decision sooner than later.
One of my favorite quotes reads:A year from now you may wish you started today. ~ Karen Lamb #startablog #blogyourpassion Click To Tweet
This is one of the truest quotes I have read in my entire life. It rings in my ears every time I find myself in a decision-making situation.
The day I wrote my post 5 Encouraging Blogging Tips for Beginners, I never thought it would turn out to be so popular and that I would touch the lives of many newbie bloggers. After almost a year of receiving many emails, comments, and questions about blogging, I’ve decided that it is time for me to write a tutorial on how to start a blog.
For starters, I’m going to assume that you already know two important things about starting a blog:
- You have chosen your blog’s topic. You know, that subject you can’t stop thinking about. The passion that is driving you to start a blog.
- You have chosen a name. A memorable name that goes with your blog’s topic.
So, what do you think? Let me help you get started with a great step-by-step tutorial, while I share with you, my humble opinion and advice.
1. Choose a Blogging Platform
It is my job to educate you about some of the existing blogging platforms you can choose from. Depending on your skills and your blogging goals, choose the platform that suits you best. However, this step-by-step guide is focused on setting up a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org
These platforms are:
Blogger by Google
This is the platform where I started my first blog. It is owned by Google and free to use. You can choose to keep the default URL www.yourblogname.blogspot.com or you can purchase and use your own domain name (without the ‘blogspot’) once you register with Blogger.
Something I need to clarify here is that if you choose Blogger as your blogging platform, purchasing your own domain name does not mean your content is self-hosted. Your blog will still be hosted on Google’s servers, so technically they own your content and you have no control over it.
Web hosting is a separate paid service. More on that later.
Tumblr by Yahoo
This platform is very unfamiliar to me. All I know is that it works as Blogger does, where you can sign up for free and get a URL such as yourblogname.tumblr.com, and you can also pay to change up themes.
Along the same lines, WordPress.com allows you to start a blog for free, hosted with them. Your URL will be “www.yourblogname.wordpress.com”.
WordPress.COM is a great platform to start off if you’re undecided on what to do and don’t want to commit to a domain name and paid web hosting just yet.
The features in the wordpress.COM platform are a great introduction if you eventually want to make the big and best move to wordpress.ORG (explained below).
This blog that you’re reading right now is created on WordPress.ORG, so I will concentrate my efforts explaining to you how to start a blog on this platform. If you are in for the long haul, this is your blogging platform.
The difference between “wordpress.org” and “wordpress.com” lies on web hosting.
A wordpress.ORG blog is a self-hosted blog, that means, you need to purchase a web hosting package (more on that later) with a company that will keep your information, all files, folders, and directories on their server.
As I mentioned before, my job is to inform you about blogging platform options. But if you want my honest advice, start a self-hosted blog and build it on the wp.org platform from the get-go. A self-hosted blog not only makes you look like a professional blogger, but it is also easy to monetize. A self-hosted blog gives you a professional status that will help you build relationships with brands and companies, which later will translate into income.
From this point forward, I will explain how to set up a self-hosted blog.
2. Choose a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name can be a little overwhelming. Depending on the blog’s name you have in mind, the domain may or may not be available. Hopefully, you will be able to find what you are looking for.
- Choose a memorable and unique name. Something you know you will love forever. Because once you start blogging, you will want to stick around :), so be mindful with the name you pick.
- Try to choose a “.com” address. It’s not only the standard, but it makes your web address easier for others to remember.
- Need help to find a name? Bust a Name is a very user-friendly free tool.
Once you have decided on a name for your blog, is time to purchase your domain name.
At bluehost.com you can get your domain for free (a $15.00 value) when you purchase a web hosting package. If you would like to do that (all in one place!) just click on the green ‘get started now’ button. After that, you will be redirected to the web hosting packages page.
3. Purchase your Web Hosting Service
After you have registered your blog’s name, sign up for a web-hosting service. It is important that you know that your blog must be self-hosted if you want to monetize it. On that note, assuming you are building a self-hosted blog, the first thing you must do is purchase a web hosting package.
- I host my blog with Bluehost since day 1. Their Basic package starts at $3.95/month and you get 24/7 customer support, guides, videos, and tutorials, no to mention reliable uptime.
The basic package is good for starters. I am in my 3rd year now, so I will be renewing my hosting very soon.
- Click ‘select’ on Basic plan and you will be redirected to this screen. Sign up by creating your new FREE domain!
- Congratulations! If your domain name is available, you will be ready to create your account!
- Revise your hosting package and “add-ons”. The only one I would keep is the domain privacy. Don’t worry about the others, you do not need them to start your blog. You can purchase these services through your dashboard at any other time. Type in your payment information and check out.
- All done! You now have a self-hosted blog and your very own dominion. You will be redirected to a ‘Welcome’ page where you can create your password.
- Login to your Bluehost dashboard. Make sure the ‘hosting login’ tab is selected (in blue)
4. Install WordPress
It is time to install WordPress, the platform that is going to make your blogging journey easy and enjoyable!
- Scroll down on your Bluehost dashboard, until you find the WordPress icon inside the ‘website’ tab.
- Click ‘Install’ and follow all the prompts on the screen
- You will be prompted to select the domain where you want WordPress to be installed.
- On the next screen, you will be prompted to create an ‘Admin Username’, an ‘Admin Password’, and to provide your email address. The admin username and the email address do not have to match. For the ‘Admin Email Address’ field, choose your current email address, the one that you check on a daily basis.
- Your WordPress install is ready! You will receive an email from the Mojo Marketplace with all the information you just input/created. From now on, you can log in to your website’s WordPress dashboard by going to: ‘http://www.yoururl.com/wp-admin’ – You will be directed to a page like this:
5. Install Framework and a Child Theme
This last step might sound a little too techie and a tad complicated for you. But don’t let the words Framework and Child Theme scare you. This is where the fun begins, because here is where you get to pick a design for your blog.
- The framework (also called a Parent Theme) is the foundation of your blog. In other words, if your blog was a car, the framework is the motor that makes it run.
- The Child Theme is the pretty blog design you get to choose. So, if the framework is the motor, the Child Theme is the body of your car (blue car, tinted windows)
The reason why a blog needs a Framework + Child Theme is because in the past when the concept of a framework wasn’t developed yet, if you were to touch up your blog’s design (let’s say change fonts or background colors) you were most likely going to mess with your actual code and functionality of your site. Not good.
With a framework, you can rest assure that your blog’s functionality will never break whenever you want to give it a facelift.
Genesis by Studiopress is my framework of choice. And every other blogger will tell you that. Here is why:
- Upgrades are free. FOREVER! – You get unlimited everything: support, updates, websites. Yes, once you purchase Genesis for one low price, you can install it on every website you own. I installed it here to run NHSH™, on our stairs and rails business site, and soon I will be installing it when I transfer my old Blogger blog to WordPress. So 3 sites for one low price. Unbeatable.
- Optimal SEO – If you want your blog to rank on Google, the Genesis framework has all the built-in capabilities to do just that.
- Easy customization and better site speed. Add widgets to make your site look exactly how you want it to, without having to sacrifice speed or functionality.
Here are some Child Themes (blog design, baby!) that you can look at:
You can also purchase bundles (like this) of Genesis+Child Theme for a low price. I paid $99 for both Genesis + Modern Blogger Pro Child theme.
Browse through all the themes and purchase the one that speaks to you. You will find it!
6. Write Your First Blog Post
Eeek! Nerve wracking right? Don’t worry, you will be fine. Blog your passion, be honest, be kind, add value to your readers, and most of all stay true to yourself. My 5 Encouraging Blogging Tips for Beginners is a must read.
So, are you ready? To help you get started here is a handy free printable checklist so you can get your ducks in a row.
If you enjoyed this tutorial, pin now and save for later!