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How to Start a Blog – Step by Step Guide

A simple, step-by-step guide for starting a blog in less than 20 minutes. Updated 4th of May, 2015.

Author info - how to start a blogI know, I know… starting a blog can be confusing. When I started my first blog over five years ago, didn’t know a THING about blogs or blogging.

I kept looking through Google for help, but all the guides I found were too technical and difficult to follow.

That’s why I wrote this guide. I’ve now managed over 20 different blogs, some with over 200,000 visitors, and I wanted to help beginners (like I used to be) do the same by giving them a super easy guide that I wish I had when I started.

Four Steps to Start a Blog:

  1. Select a blogging platform (WordPress).
  2. Set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain (or use free services).
  3. Find and install a blog layout/theme.
  4. Configure your new blog and write your first post.

One last thing…

If you EVER get stuck while learning how to start a blog – I’m here to help you. I won’t be able to set up a blog for you, but I can do my best to answer your blogging related questions.

Just drop me a line if you hit a snag.

If you are still hesitating, I suggest you read my article titled “Reasons why you should start your own blog.”

 

STEP ONE: Choose a Blog Topic

What should I write about?

To help figure this out, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Why am I blogging?

What’s your goal – making money? Showcasing your expertise? Sharing your life experience? Whatever you write about should line up with that goal.

When I start my first blog, I just wanted to write about smartphones and tech gadgets and maybe make a few bucks along the way, so I started there.

2. What am I passionate about?

You need to LOVE what you write about or you’ll burn out. Try to pick topics that you really like talking about. Blogging should never feel like a chore; your readers will know if you don’t really care.

3. What am I an expert in? 

Know a lot about a specific field? Been in an industry for a long time? Chances are, you’ve got a lot of knowledge to share that others would find interesting.

The most important thing – just start!

Part of the adventure of blogging is that you don’t need to have it all figured out. Sometimes you learn the most while doing a research for your blog post. If you’re stuck, just start writing about your hobbies or your daily life, and you’ll soon discover what you like writing about most.

P.S. If you already know your blog niche or topic, you can skip this step and move onto Step 2.

Psst.. Want a few quick topic ideas? Click here (you will not leave the guide)

 

STEP 2: Finding the Right Platform

Before you start blogging, you need to choose the platform you’ll use.

What’s a “platform, anyway?”

Building a blog used to be pretty complicated. You needed to learn HTML (code), CSS, and a bunch of technical junk.

Thanks to platforms, none of that is necessary anymore. A “platform” is just a system that makes adding and editing content super easy and code-free, even if you’re not very technical.

Using a platform like WordPress is as simple as using Microsoft Word!

What platform do most people use?

Most of the blogs on the internet are made with WordPress – in fact, WordPress has been used over 72 million times and is used by many popular blogs and sites (including this one!)

pie-chart-blogging-platforms

I’ve tried dozens of different platforms out there (Joomla, Drupal etc..), and…

I strongly recommend you use WordPress for your blog. Here’s why:

  • It’s the easiest platform for beginners (Joomla and Drupal are much more difficult to learn)
  • You can choose from thousands of awesome-looking templates and themes (Tumblr and Joomla doesn’t have that much free themes)
  • You can categorise your blog posts and create custom menus without needing to learn any code
  • There are tons of awesome plugins you can install with one click that add features like newsletter signups, photo galleries and more
  • Whenever you need help, there’s a HUGE community of bloggers and developers on WordPress who are happy to help

Why shouldn’t I just use a free platform, like tumblr?

I don’t want to go into too much right now, but if you are serious about blogging and decide to blog more than 2-3 months it’s strongly recommended to self-host your blog. Sites like Tumblr and Blogspot isn’t way to go.

In that way you’ll have no limitations related to your blog content, images and videos. Your blog will look more professional, better looking and has tons of free features that you can add later on. Plus, you actually own your blog.

However, if you don’t plan to blog a for more than a month, free option might make sense.

Why FREE blogging platforms are not actually free...

How much will it cost to start a WordPress blog on my own domain?

Not much! All you need is…

  • A domain name (web address) – About $10/year (I’ll show you how to get one for $5)
  • A hosting service (connects your blog to the internet) – About $3 – $6 per month.

That’s it – less than a movie ticket to use the best platform on your own custom domain.

What if I decide I don’t want to blog anymore?

If you decide blogging really isn’t for you, you can cancel any time. Most services even have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ve got a full month to test it out without paying a dime.

I don’t have a domain name or host yet. What now?

In step 3, I’ll show you everything you need to do to get a WordPress blog up and running.

 

STEP 3: Setting Up Your Domain, Hosting & Blog

How do I pick the best domain name?

My advice? Get creative – but keep it simple. Make sure your domain name is…

  • Brandable – Choose a domain name that reflects your style, attitude and subject. You might even choose to use your own name, like MikeWallagher.com
  • Memorable – Nobody will remember “www.all-about-latest-fashion-trends.com”, but something like “welldressed.com” will stick in their heads.
  • Unique – Ripping someone else off is no way to build a brand.

I prefer to pick something that either ends with .com, .net or .org, but sometimes the best domain names are already taken.

Where should I get my domain name and hosting?

I’ve hosted my sites and blogs on tons of different hosting companies. Some were good, some were… well, terrible.

Today, I use www.HostGator.com for all of my blogs and recommend it to every new blogger I help.

Why HostGator?

  • Super cheap – Really affordable compared to the competition (less than $2.99/mo)
  • Easy set up – Setting up WordPress on HostGator is ridiculously simple
  • Fast – Other hosts loaded my blog verrrry slowly. I’ve never had a problem with HostGator.
  • 24/7 support – If anything happens, they’ve got great customer support by phone and email

Later in the guide, I’ll be showing you HostGator’s set up process – but I’ve included a tutorial on how to install your blog manually as well, in case you decide to go with someone else.

One last note: If you go with a different hosting company, please make sure they offer unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space (like HostGator does). That will help you to avoid problems later on.

How do I Install WordPress?

Once you’ve got your domain name and hosting, you have two options to install your blog to your own domain:

  • A) With “One-Click-Installation” (HostGator uses this – it’s so easy)
  • B) Manually (A lot tougher)

The One-Click-Installation is better for beginners or those who are trying to set up their first blog. If you are internet/computer savvy then have a look at the manual tutorial. Either way, you’ll get your blog online very quickly.

Option 1:  Set Up Your WordPress Blog Using HostGator Hosting (EASIEST)

Click to read the instructions (expands – you won’t leave this page)

Option 2: Set Up a WordPress Blog Manually to Any Host (ADVANCED)

Click to continue reading... (expands)

Once You’ve Installed: How to Choose Your Design, Write Your First Post and Promote Your Blog

Click to keep reading... (expands - you wont leave this page)

P.S. Two last things:

1) If you found this tutorial helpful, I’d love it if you shared it using the links below. It really means a lot to me!

2) If you started a blog, you should definitely join to my blogging course, where I share tons of tricks, tips and advice you can use to get traffic, make money and create an amazing blog!

Simply click on the “FREE course” at the top of my page and you’re on your way!

If you’re all set and ready – start bloggin’!

Your friend,

– Mike Wallagher