Are you wondering how to start a blog? I’m glad you found this tutorial!
A couple of years ago, I felt desperate for money. We’d been a single-income, large family for twenty years, and though our needs were always met, there was seldom extra money in our accounts for fun things, like traveling.
I love being a SAHM, and I love homeschooling my kiddos, but it was time to expand our horizons! I can’t use my engineering degree because I don’t want to work full-time (can you imagine the cost of childcare for eight kids?) and because I really want to be home for my family.
I looked at various ways to supplement our income, and found most of the work-from-home jobs to be very low-paying, unreliable or far too demanding on my time. I needed a way to make money on my own time — while my littles napped and during the empty corners of my day. And I needed to make good money, so it was worth my time.
I eventually settled on blogging. It felt intimidating and scary at first. After all, I wasn’t a programmer, and I’d never built a website! I blogged at blogger for a few years as a means of keeping in touch with my sister, who lives in China, but bloggers is pretty much just a template that you type your posts into.
In the end, though, I was amazed at how easy it was to get set up. I think it only took me about 15 minutes!
Although setting up your blog is super stinking easy and very non-technical, blogging itself is not easy, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. I’ve got to be honest — there is a huge learning curve, and you have to put the work in.
That said, I’m so grateful to have found blogging! I’m now able to work from home, while my kids are doing their schoolwork and while my little ones are napping or sleeping late in the morning. Right now, while I lay on the floor and type, my 5-year-old is happily sitting on my back, braiding my hair. (Every time I say “ouch” she tells me to stop whining, lol!)
We can travel as a family whenever we want because blogging is so flexible and because it’s passive. My blog earns money while I sleep, when I’m out of the country, and when my kids are sick, whether I’m working or not.
I made back the money I paid for 3 years of blog hosting in less than a month, and my income has increased every month since. If I can make a full-time income blogging, anyone can. With some hard work and determination, you can do this, too!
If you have a few minutes, I’ll show you how to easily create your own blog — no technical experience required!
Here are 5 easy, step-by-step instructions.
5 Simple Steps to Start Your Own Blog
1. Decide what to blog about
If you research this, you’ll find a lot of people who will advise you to only blog about lucrative subjects and to niche down tightly. I disagree.
- Blog about a topic you enjoy. If you aren’t excited about your subject, your readers won’t be, either. Plus, writing about it would be drudgery.
- Determine whether your subject has enough depth. If you post 2-3 times each week, after a year you will have written 110-150 posts, each around 1000 words long. Will you have enough to talk about?
- Choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority. You certainly won’t be the first person to blog about the subject you’ve chosen. Can you talk about your subject from a unique angle? Can you contribute more to the topic? Can you make your blog better than others talking about the same thing? The goal for any blog is to become the go-to resource for its topic or niche.
2. Choose a blogging platform
- There are many blogging platforms to choose from. WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly are a few.
- Your platform is just the software you use to publish the content you create onto the interwebs. It’s a content management system. I’ve only used WordPress to build the few websites I’ve built, because my three brothers, who are experts, told me it was the way to go because it is SO easy to use and interfaces easily with any host. Also, because it is so widely used, there are numerous tutorials that you can use to help you learn all it’s different aspects.
3. Choose a web host
Google web hosting and you’ll see that there are hundreds of different companies willing to host your blog. There are so many, it would take you hours to sort through them. Some of them offer a free domain, others offer free SSL security or domain privacy. Some are small and some host thousands of blogs already.
I chose Bluehost because it had great reviews from other bloggers, because it is already hosting millions of other blogs, and for these reasons:
- Bluehost web hosting offers free SSL, included with your site.
- Bluhost has 24/7 technical support. But you probably won’t need technical support, because Bluehost has made the whole installation and creation process practically foolproof!
- Bluehost is extremely affordable, starting at just $2.95 per month.
- You’ll get a FREE blog domain.
- WordPress through Bluehost is FREE and installs with the click of a button. I LOVE how easy they made it!
- Bluehost offers a guarantee in case you want to go a different direction.
My experience with Bluehost has been fabulous, and I honestly recommend them to anyone wanting to start a blog.
If you’ve decided to start a WordPress blog using Bluehost, you’ll need to head on over to Bluehost to continue. If you have any trouble, shoot me an email and I’ll help you troubleshoot.
Click here to go to Bluehost and start your own blog. The link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work. Don’t worry if the images you see here vary slightly from the ones at Bluehost. The process is the same. Bluehost just constantly makes site improvements, including updating graphics.
Select your plan
Choose the plan you want to start with. I chose the cheapest 3-year plan because it was the best value. I figured that blogging was going to be a long-term thing for me because it was the only career path that would provide what I needed — being able to work from home, with my kids around, and according to my own schedule, and with unlimited earning potential.
I received domain privacy free by signing up for 3 years of service upfront. Domain privacy keeps your identity and address private when someone tries to look you up via your blog.
Using my link, you’ll get a FREE domain name for 1 year when you sign up for a 12-month hosting plan with Bluehost. This is a really good value, so make sure you take advantage of it.
On the next screen, you’ll enter your new blog name. You can just move on without one if you haven’t yet chosen one.
Step 4: Register your domain name
A domain is a web address. Mine is OrisonOrchards.com.
If you have previously registered a domain and want to use it for this new site, enter it on the right. If you don’t yet have one, enter your desired domain on the left.
While brainstorming blog names, you can check whether they’re available or not just by googling them.
If you haven’t yet decided on your domain name, you can take advantage of Bluehost’s option to choose a different one later. Simply move your cursor as if you were going to exit the page, and when the popup below appears, click the “Choose Free Domain Later”. The value of the free domain will be deducted from your total.
Enter your account info
On the next page, enter your account information, choose your package and your extras, and enter your payment information. I chose a 3-year Prime subscription because it seemed like the best value, and because I felt like if I only purchased a year and wasn’t terribly successful at this endeavor after a year that I might be tempted to quit. I know that blogging is a long game and takes awhile to become successful at, and I wanted to give myself the best chance possible.
I also love that I won’t need to even think about hosting again for another three years!
This really is such a small investment in myself for something that can potentially pay huge dividends!
I skipped the add-ons except domain privacy protection, which I consider essential, because I want my personal information kept private. The others can easily be added later if needed. If you select Prime, domain privacy protection is included free. The only time I would skip domain privacy is if you are using a business address and don’t mind if it’s visible to anyone who looks up your domain.
The total is the amount you’ll pay today. You won’t have to pay again for 1,2,3,4 or 5 years, depending on the account plan you chose. Set it and forget it!
Choose your password
After your purchase is complete, you’ll be asked to choose a password. Just click the “Create your password” button to choose a secure password.
Now you can login and get started!
Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a brand new blog!
Step 5: Get started with WordPress
You can start working on your WordPress site right away. Click the blue login button in the “Congratulations!” window to get started with WordPress. I was so excited to log in for the first time and see the message, “Alright world, time to take you on!”
Let’s connect WordPress to your new Bluehost site!
In Bluehost, click on the hosting tab and then the cpanel tab. Scroll down and select Install WordPress.This is a great, free feature Bluehost provides you with and it’s really easy to set up. Just enter your domain name into the field and click ‘log into WordPress’. Everything will then be installed for you. How easy is that?
Skip the free themes for now
Bluehost gives you the option to pick a free theme immediately. Unless you are familiar with one of the themes listed, I recommend you skip it for now for two reasons:
1. There are so many themes listed that it will feel overwhelming.
2. Most of the free themes aren’t kept updated. Outdated themes leave holes hackers can exploit and are not worth the risk.
The theme that comes pre-installed will suffice for now. It won’t look great, but you can switch to a different theme once you’re set up, feel more familiar with WordPress, and have had a chance to research themes.
Start building your site
Your site will be on a temporary domain at first because it takes up to 24 hours for your chosen domain to become fully registered. Go ahead and start working on your site, though. You can add content, and when the real domain is ready, Bluehost will automatically switch it over for you.
If you used an existing domain in Step 4, you can contact Bluehost support when you’re ready to connect your existing domain to your new site. They’ll help you through the process
Here is the first screen you’ll encounter. The dashboard down the left side is very intuitive. I just clicked all the buttons and looked through things to familiarize myself with it. Whenever I had a question about something, I googled it and always found a WordPress tutorial to walk me through it.
There are many directions you can go at this point, but please know that you will feel overwhelmed and intimidated. Everyone does — it is completely normal!
Do you know why babies and toddlers learn SO quick in their first couple of years of life? Because they are curious and they ask a million questions! They aren’t afraid of breaking things, either. They push every button to see what it does. Be like a toddler as you explore your new site. Push all the buttons. Ask google all of your questions. The interwebs about with fabulous WordPress tutorials. W3 schools has all the html help you’ll ever need.
But you don’t need it all right now. One thing at a time.
Now for some housekeeping. There are a few VERY important changes you should make to your settings before diving into creating content. I didn’t know about these when I started my blog, and caused myself a lot of grief when I realized I needed to make them several months into blogging. You can save yourself some serious grief (and a whole lot of redirects!) by making these simple changes RIGHT NOW! It should only take you a few minutes.
- Change your permalinks. A permalink is the link to each blog post, or the URL you see the browser. Most blogs default to a permalink with a date. It looks more professional, and keeps your content from feeling dated, if you switch to a permalink without the date. Also, search engines (like google) use words (not numbers) to learn what your post is about, so they can best show users what they’re searching for. So you’ll rank a lot higher if you use your content title as your permalink, and not the date it defaults to. To change your permalink settings, go to Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks and choose “Post Name”.
- Change your username from “Admin” to your own name. This will make your blog more secure, and provide your users with a better experience. They want to know the person writing the post! You should take a few extra minutes and set up a gravatar account for this purpose.
- Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS. The S at the end stands for secure (SSL). A secure site will look more professional, will rank higher within Google, and will build trust in your brand. Bluehost will provide your security certificate for free, and they’ve provided simple instructions here.
Pat yourself on the back! With just those three changes, you’re a lot farther along than I was after spending a whole month blogging (not counting my first stint on blogger). You’ve got this! Now go forth and write blog posts!
Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions! You can email me, or just leave me a note in the comments — I always answer!
I’d love to hear about your experiences getting started, too. And if you do start a blog, be sure to leave your new domain in the comments so we can all check it out!
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