Are you looking for a quick and easy guide on how to start a blog? This will be your ultimate beginner resource on how to get your blog up and running in no time!
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I’m assuming you’re here because you’re finally ready to take the plunge into the blogosphere, am I right? That’s awesome! Add I’m so glad that I can be your go-to resource on how to start a blog!
I remember being in your shoes a few years ago and although I already had years of content marketing under my belt, setting up a blog from scratch was totally new to me.
And if I’m being honest, in the beginning, I definitely went the easy route with setting up my blog. Do I regret it? Not really, because I learned SO much from doing so. But was it a huge pain in the ass to fix my mistakes and essentially “start fresh”? YES.
So rather than you making the mistakes I did, I’m here to guide you through the process of how to correctly set up your blog from the start.
Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do this.
5 Critical Steps to Starting A Blog
Before we get started, I want to make a couple of things clear. If you are just looking to blog as a hobby and don’t plan to monetize it (aka make money), these steps aren’t necessarily for you.
These blogging tips are for people who:
- Want to drive traffic to their blog
- Want to make money from their blog
- Are looking to turn this into a part-time (or full-time!) gig
- Generally want to kick ass at blogging!
If you resonate with any of the statements above, continue on, because I promise that if you follow this easy set-up process, you are setting yourself up for success.
Step 1: Find Your Niche
I’m assuming that you’ve already thought this through by now, but if not, I want to give you a few pointers.
While it may be fun to write about anything and everything under the sun, it’s not going to get you very far in the blogging world.
Find your niche, and stick to it.
Now, you might be thinking — but lifestyle bloggers talk about everything! Yes and no.
We know what we’re good at and we stick with it. For instance, my specialty is writing gift guides and product round-ups within the categories of home, health, and fashion.
Even if I found an amazing recipe, I wouldn’t blog about it, because it has nothing to do with the rest of my content and would seem really out of left field.
If you’re struggling to find your niche in the beginning, that’s okay.
I would recommend blogging about a broader range of topics (that are cohesive with one another) and then after 6 months, evaluate what content does best and narrow down your niche from there.
Step 2: Find An Available Blog Name & Research It
I’m going to warn you right now…do not get attached to a particular blog name.
If you’ve already purchased a URL, you’re golden. You can move on to Step 3.
If you haven’t and are still in the brainstorming phase or haven’t looked into available URLs, this step might prove itself harder than you’d think.
Why you ask? If someone has already purchased the URL with your great blog name idea (whether they are actively using it or not), it won’t be available to you.
If you haven’t come up with a blog name or the one you want is unavailable, this is what I encourage you to do:
Get out a piece of paper and write down a ton of adjectives that resonate with you, the topics you want to write about, etc. Then, start mixing and matching words to see what combinations you come up with.
I encourage you to come up with a few different ideas, just in case you have to resort to plan B or plan C.
Once you’ve come up with blog name ideas, head to your internet browser and type in ‘Google Domains’. Type in the potential domain you want to use and hit the “Get it” button.
This is where you’re going to check to see what domains are and are not available. We are not going to purchase a domain at this stage, yet.
It will then let you know if the domain you want is available. If not, it will offer some suggestions, usually with different domain endings.
I urge you not to choose a domain that ends in .net, .org, etc. and to stick with the classic .com.
Most URLs should not cost you more than $20, but keep in mind, that’s an annual charge.
Once you find a URL that’s available, jot it down (don’t buy it yet!), and do a quick Google search for that blog name.
You’ll want to check a few things:
- Is it associated with an already well-established brand? If so, you might have a hard time ranking in Google for your own blog name. That’s not ideal.
- Is it associated with something you’d rather not be associated with? Make sure that your blog name and url isn’t similar to something potentially…risque? For instance, you’d hate for someone to type in (what they thought was) your url, but then end up on an adult site. It’s a longshot, but it happens.
- Are the social media handles available? This isn’t a make or break deal, but is always good to check.
Alrighty, now that you’ve got a name, let’s move on to the next step!
Step 3: Sign Up for A Blog Host
You’ve probably already done some digging and realized that there are a lot of different blogging platforms nowadays. Some of the most popular ones include Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, WordPress.com, etc.
While these options are appealing to new users — they are usually free, easy to learn, and they market themselves as a great place to “get started” — I’m gonna lay some truth real quick. Are you ready?
Your blog will never grow to its full capacity if you are using these hosted blog sites.
I have personal experience on why these sites will hold you back and I’ll go into that more below, but here are some facts.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free or Hosted Blog Site
- Your SEO is limited. Search Engines, like Google, prioritize self-hosted sites in the search rankings, meaning if you are on a self-hosted site, you are more likely to be seen by your audience.
- Customization is limited. Free sites especially, are very limiting with their design options, url structures, etc. If the site is asking you to create a url that has the blog name at the end (basichousewife.wix.com) that’s a BIG no-no.
- Making the change later will be a major headache. I went through this transition a couple years ago and let me just say, it’s going to save you a lot of time and stress to start right or to make the change while your site is still young.
If you truly want your blog to grow to its full potential, you need to be using a self-hosted blogging platform.
If you aren’t sure what I mean about hosted vs self-hosted, check out my blog on Using A Self-Hosted Site. It will explain everything in detail.
But honestly, JUST TRUST ME ON THIS. Here’s why…
I originally started my blog on Squarespace and while it was working great, I saw that all of the big bloggers were talking about self-hosting.
SO, I made the (very daunting) switch from hosted to self-hosted, and within less than a month, my traffic increased by 62%!
And I get it…The idea of hosting your site on a web server can seem super technical and confusing.
That’s why I highly highly recommend using Bluehost and WordPress.org.
When I made the transition to go from hosted to self-hosted, I had never gone through the self-hosted process before, but Bluehost and their support team made it painless.
BENEFITS OF BLUEHOST:
- It’s super affordable. Compared to its competitors, Bluehost comes in at a fraction of the cost, and hosting plans start at just $3.95/month for new customers!
- You get a free custom domain when you first sign up! Remember when we talked about domains? When you sign up with Bluehost, you get a domain FOR FREE. (So make sure you don’t purchase one through a domain site like Google Domains or GoDaddy!)
- They offer helpful, 24/7 customer service! They offer a ton of support resources along with customer service support via chat, phone, or email. I have utilized their support staff a number of times and they always walk me through the issue or just go in and fix it for me!
- WordPress through Bluehost is completely free! The only thing you will ever have to pay for with WordPress is a fancier theme (optional) or paid plugins (optional).
- They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you sign up and decide it’s not for you, they do have a money-back guarantee, but I definitely encourage you to reach out to their support before canceling! They will be happy to guide you through any problems or questions you might have!
And if you need help on how to set up a Bluehost account, this post has easy-to-follow step-by-step directions.
In full transparency, I no longer use Bluehost, but still advocate for it as a great option for beginning bloggers. I currently use WPX Hosting, which is more expensive, but better at handling larger sites and also has amazing customer service.
Step 4: Customize Your WordPress Site
After you’ve signed up with Bluehost, it will walk you through the steps of setting up your WordPress account. Seriously you guys, Bluehost makes it SO easy.
It will have you fill out basic info about your blog like site name and tagline and will have you pick out your first theme.
All of this can be changed later so don’t feel like you have to commit to anything now!
If you want a thorough understanding of how to use your self-hosted WordPress site, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this FREE course from Grayson Bell.
Once you’ve filled out your basic site information, it will ask you to select a WordPress theme.
Themes are basically the layout and design of your blog and WordPress offers TONS of free options.
Don’t get stressed about committing to one theme in the beginning because you can always change it or purchase a paid theme later down the road.
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you can now start customizing your blog.
And again, if you are struggling to navigate WordPress and can’t figure out how to customize your site, you definitely need to check out this FREE WordPress course!
Think of plugins as apps that can add additional functionality to your WordPress site! WordPress has a built-in plugins store that’s FILLED with free and paid plugins.
Grayson will talk more about plugins in his free course, but here are some of the WordPress Plugins I highly suggest using as a beginner:
- Yoast SEO – SEO optimization tool
- Header Footer Code Manager – Add and track code snippets
- Smush – site speed tool
Step 5: Start Creating Content
Before hitting publish on your blog, I highly suggest that you create at least 5 pieces of content to launch with.
This will create a better user experience so that when a new person enters your website, it looks like you have a variety of content and not like you just launched yesterday (even if you did.)
If you need help on the content portion of things, check out my guide on Blogging Basics: SEO for Beginners.
Ready to Get Started With Your Blog?
If you’ve been contemplating starting a blog and just haven’t pulled the trigger, here’s my piece of advice to you: JUST DO IT.
Don’t stress over getting everything perfect. Don’t worry about getting every little thing right. No matter how new or advanced a blogger is, we make mistakes and that’s okay because that’s how we grow and learn.
But you will never grow if you don’t at least try.
So if you’re ready to take the leap into a new journey and get your blog off the ground, you’ve got this! And I’m always here for support if you need it.