Beginner’s GUIDE to Starting Your OWN Professional Blog, TODAY
I know, I know… starting a blog can be confusing. Four years ago, when I started my first blog, I knew absolutely nothing about blogs or blogging. I kept searching for information and “how-to” guides on Google, but they all required technical skills and I found them extremely difficult to follow.
By now, I’ve built and managed more than 30 different blogs, and during that time, I’ve learned a ton about blogging.
All I can say is that creating blogs is extremely easy and it does not require any coding skills (HTML). In fact, the whole process is somewhat automatic. So whether you are 20 or 70 years old, doesn’t really matter – you can still make it. Here’s my sample blog, which I made in less than 10 minutes. You can do that too; simply follow the steps below.
If you are still hesitating, I suggest you read my article titled “Reasons why you should start your own blog.”
P.S.: If you get stuck while setting up your blog, get in touch with me and I’ll help you out.
Shall we start?
1) DECIDE WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BLOG ABOUT
The first thing you need to do is pick a blog topic. Is there anything you enjoy or are really passionate about? If there is, then start a blog about it. When I started my first blog, I was really interested in smartphones and new tech gadgets, so I picked that topic. It makes no sense to start a blog about something you have no interest in, while it’s much easier to write articles and posts about topics that you’re passionate about.
It’s even better when you have been interested in a specific field or an industry for a long time, because you are already an expert. However, if you don’t have any idea which topic or niche you want to write about, think about your hobbies or just start blogging about your daily activities, memorable moments or simply about everything.
P.S. If you already know your blog niche or topic, you can skip this step and move onto Step 2.
Here are some of the most popular blogging topics in 2013:
- Entertainment – You can write about things that make you laugh, or share information on the latest movies, popular celebrities, television shows and/or music.
- Health – In this busy world we often struggle to find enough time to live healthily. That’s why many people read blogs about fitness and health. If you can provide valuable information on this topic, then this is a good place to start.
- Fashion – Are you interested in clothes, shoes and accessories? Lots of people are, all around the world. Writing about the latest trends in fashion can bring you a pretty decent amount of visitors as well.
“Do it yourself”, “How to” and other informative blogs are also becoming very popular.
Struggling to come up with good blog post ideas? Check my latest article about: 101 blog post ideas that will make your blog hot.
2) DECIDE WHICH BLOGGING PLATFORM TO USE, FREE OR SELF-HOSTED?
First of all, most of the blogs on the internet are made using the WordPress blogging platform. In fact, WordPress has been downloaded over 65 million times and is used by many popular blogs and websites.
Here’s why I think using WordPress is the best way to start your blog:
- You can choose from many different layouts and free themes
- You can easily write blog posts and add pictures/images to your blog
- People can comment and share your blog
Free is not FREE…
You are not able to get your OWN domain – Instead, you will get a sub-domain. My blog (startbloggingonline.com) has its own domain, but if I had decided to start a blog on blogger.com (for example), then it would look like startbloggingonline.blogger.com – a bit clumsy, isn’t it?
They are lacking of different themes/layouts and plugins – In other words, your blog will look really blank and boring. If you want additional themes or plugins to customize your blog, you have to pay… a lot.
You have NO control over your blog – Your blog is hosted on another site, thus you are not the “owner” of this property. If moderators decide that your blog does not fit with their policies (which can happen quite often), they can actually delete your blog without any warnings. In short, all your hard work and time spent on the blog will be vanished within seconds.
You are not able to earn money via blogging – Yes, you CAN make money with blogging, lots of people are. However, If you ever decide to earn money with your blog, you are unable to do it on a free blog. They simply don’t allow you to do that. Even if they do, they want their own cut, which is usually 50%.
However, if you are on a budget and don’t plan to blog more than few months then definitely start with a free blog. A self-hosted blog on your own domain (yourblog.com) is by far the better option. It gives you full control over your blog and you’ll look more professional. It’s also a great choice for people who want to blog long-term, share their knowledge, become a blogger and earn some money from it.
WHAT IS THE COST OF STARTING A SELF-HOSTED BLOG ON YOUR OWN DOMAIN?
Not much. You will need a domain that will cost approximately $10 a year and a hosting (service that connects your blog to the internet) is around $4 – $7 a month (less than a movie ticket). To sum this up, it’ll be around $50 a year. The good thing about self-hosted blog is that you don’t have to be committed. If you feel that blogging is actually not your cup of tea, you can cancel anytime and many services have 90 days money back guaranteed as well.
3) CHOOSING A DOMAIN & HOSTING, AND SETTING UP A WORDPRESS BLOG ON YOUR OWN DOMAIN
If you decided to go with a self-hosted blog on your own domain, smart choice.
Finding a great domain name can take a while, but it’s worth it. I suggest you pick something brandable and easy to remember. Let’s say you are planning to start a fashion blog. www.fashionblog2013.org or www.all-about-latest-fashion-trends.com is not a great idea. But why?
People simply cannot remember long domains and when they want to return to your blog they are likely to forget your domain name. It’s much better to choose something memorable, such as www.fashionologie.com, www.vivalafashion.com or something similar. As an alternative, you can just use your name, for example: www.MikeWallagher.com
In short, your domain name should be:
- Easy to remember
WHERE CAN I GET A DOMAIN NAME AND HOSTING?
I usually suggest people to get a domain and hosting from the same place, in that way you’ll save some money and time. In the past few years while I have been creating and managing blogs, I have discovered that there are very few reliable hosting companies.
To be more clear, I’ve used several hosting companies in the past. Just to mention some of them: Bluehost, Fatcow, Hostgator, Dreamhost. BUT… I wasn’t really satisfied with them. Their customer support wasn’t really professional and it took a lot of time to get in touch. Quite often my blog’s speed (page loading time) was ridiculously slow. The reason was quite simple (they aren’t that bad, actually): THEY WERE OVERSELLING their services. They focused on getting more and more new clients rather than improving their services, support and valuing their current customers.
One of the most reliable ones (also the one that I’m currently using) is Web Hosting Hub. Their service is quite cheap compared with others and they are well-known for their great customer support via email and phone (24/7). Web Hosting Hub is also good for beginners too, as they have a “1-Click-Blog-Installation” feature that is focused on WordPress blogs and websites. You simply click few buttons and your self-hosted blog on your own domain is ready.
Of course, you can use any other hosting company and I have included a tutorial on how to install your blog manually as well. If you decide to go with a different hosting company then make sure they offer unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space. That will help you to avoid problems later on.
You have two options to install your blog to your own domain:
- A) With “One-Click-Installation” using WebHostingHub (You’ll get a domain from there as well).
- B) Manually.
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.
A) How to Set Up a WordPress Blog using Web Hosting Hub (For Beginners)
You can get both your blog domain and/or hosting from WebHostingHub. The reason I chose to use WebHostingHub throughout this tutorial is because they have an easy set up process, and they are specially focused on bloggers. I also managed to get a discount for anyone reading this guide (43% OFF). If you visit WebHostingHub through my site (using the link above or below), the discount should be applied automatically (You will get hosting for $3.99 per month instead of $6.99).
P.S. Make sure you follow the screenshots below in order to get the cheapest package available.
P.P.S. If you follow the steps below, the entire registration and blog setup process should not take more than a few minutes.
First you need to go to www.webhostinghub.com and choose your domain name.
(You can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them)
This is the Web Hosting Hub homepage, where you can buy a domain and hosting for your blog. Click on the big yellow “Get Started” button to begin the registration process.
Choose your desired domain name and see if it’s available. If you have already bought a domain from somewhere else, insert it in the box and click “Next Step”.
WHOIS Privacy” is not crucial but if you don’t want to share publically who the person behind the domain name is , tick the box. If you untick this option, you’ll save $9.99.
Now you’ll need to fill in your personal information, from your name to your credit card details. This information is required to ensure the transaction is carried out securely. Make sure you also enter your telephone number (area code needed outside the US) so the customer support team can verify the registration and give you additional help if you need it.
“Package options” are not actually needed, Web Hosting Hub is secure enough and they can help you with manual backups (if needed). Again, if you choose “No Thanks” for automatic backups, you’ll save another $12. After that click “Submit Order” and you have saved quite a lot of time and money.
Installing WordPress to your Domain
Before you can start blogging, you need to install WordPress (blogging platform). This section will cover the WordPress installation to your domain. If you don’t want to read this, you can scroll down and watch the video – it explains all the necessary steps.
Once you have completed the registration and your hosting account has been verified (It can take 10 – 20 minutes until your account is fully approved, so grab a coffee or a tea and sit back!), you will receive set up tutorials and AMP (Account Management Portal) log in information in your email box.
You install WordPress to your domain via the AMP. Simply create a new username and password and log in. Once you are logged in, go to “AMP Home” and start installing your blog:
Under “Tools and Resources” you need to click “Create a new website” and choose “WordPress software”. Once you have done that, you’ll see a large table where you can choose different website/blogging platforms, but WordPress is by far the best for blogs and bloggers.
Now you are almost ready, but before you can start blogging you need to fill in a few details about your new blog:
Here you don’t need to change much:
Site name – Your blog title
Site Description – Your blog description
Make sure you create a strong password and customized admin username. Fill in the Admin Email box with the email address that you want to use with your blog. Everything else can be left unchanged.
And you are done! Congratulations, you now have your personal blog online! It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? When you are ready, use YourBlog.com/wp-admin to log in to your dashboard.
This should be your “default” WordPress blog after installation:
P.S: If you didn’t manage to install WordPress to your blog or you simply got stuck, feel free to contact their customer support. They can help you with the blog installation process over chat and phone.
Here is a simple video that goes through the process of installing WordPress to your domain.
B) How to Set Up a WordPress Blog Manually to Any Host (Advanced)
- PHP 4.2 or greater
- MySQL 4.0 or greater
- At least 1GB free disk space
If your host meets the requirements, go and download WordPress from – http://wordpress.org/download
Once that’s done, you need to unzip the file to a new folder on your desktop. Make sure you do it properly; otherwise your blog installation will fail.
After that you need to look for a file (in the folder where you just extracted your WordPress.zip) named “wp-config-sample.php“. Once you’ve found it, You have to remove the sample and rename it as “wp-config.php“
After that open the file with Wordpad (or Notepad) and change the following lines:
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’); – In most cases you don’t have to change this. So at first you can leave it as it is.
If you don’t know your database name, username and password then ask your host’s customer support for them. Once you have edited the file, hit the “Save” button.
Now you need to connect to your hosting FTP account; you will need a FTP client (for example, FileZilla). Again, you will need to get your username and password from your hosting company. If you upload the files to the root directory then your blog will be accessible from www.yourdomain.com. If you upload files to a specific folder (for example myblog), your blog will be accessible from www.yourdomain.com/myblog.
Make sure you don’t have any other “index” file (.html, .htm) in the directory as this can interrupt the whole installation process. You can only have index.php, which is part of WordPress.
Don’t give up just yet, you are almost there. Now open your web browser and type in the following URL: www.yourblogaddress.com/wp-admin/install.php
After that fill in the form (password, username and name of the blog) and click on the “Install WordPress” button. After that you are ready!
…. and once you have completed the installation:
WRITING YOUR FIRST POST, CHOOSING NEW THEME AND PROMOTING YOUR BLOG
Here are some of the features you might need to know about after installation. Of course, you can explore WordPress by yourself as well. It’s not as difficult as it seems at first sight.
- Posts and Pages: Here you can add new posts or pages to your blog. If you want to write your first blog post, check the left sidebar and choose “Post” -> “Add new”.
- Appearance -> Themes: Here you can change the design and layout. Simply search for different themes and click “Install”.
- Settings -> General: You can change your blog name, tagline and e-mail address.
- Plugins: Plugins are small features that add extra tools to your blog, for example newsletter signup, design elements, contact forms etc. Simply click on “Add New” to find interesting and useful plugins.
WordPress ABC – For people who wish to learn more about WordPress “buttons and whistles”. This article covers more about WordPress, including how to change theme and customize your blog.
How to promote your blog – I’ve written some blog posts that may help you to promote your blog as well as get more visitors and traffic.
If you have any questions about starting a blog or installing WordPress then please get in touch by using the contact form. I will get back to you as soon as possible!
P.S. Two things:
1) If you found this tutorial helpful, feel free to share it below. It really means a lot to me!
2) If you started a blog, you might want to join to my blogging course. Simply click on the “FREE updates” at the top of my page.
- Mike Wallagher