If you’re considering doing something that gives you purpose, meaning and possibly creates a source of income for you – that sounds like a blog. Getting online is easier than it seems and today I’m going to walk you through it. You’ll learn how you can start a blog for 2019 (or 2018 if you’re reading this before the new year) for as low as a latte from your fav coffee place.
I tried to make this guide as easy to understand as possible. The first time I figured out how to start a blog I tried to follow a few guides online and got super confused.
We’ll also go through some other essential steps today; you are going to learn a lot.
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Before we jump into this guide I want to let you know you can get 50% off my coaching services for Black Friday! Let’s work one-on-one to grow your blog or business for 2019. Hurry, sale ends soon!
Welcome to the planning process
I’m really happy you want to get out there on the internet but I if you don’t have a reason why you want to be a blogger, I think you should determine an answer.
Do you want a place to express yourself freely? Are you looking to explore your city more (and share your adventures)? Do see blogging as a tool to boost your online business or do you want to use it to ultimately make some money?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a test so you won’t be penalized for your answer.
Having a why helps bloggers stay focused on their blogging journey. It helps them determine who their target audience is and more. Think of it as a key part of your blog’s “business plan”.
What is your blog niche?
Your blog niche is a fancy way of saying blog topics. Before you start a blog you should ask yourself what you’ll be blogging about.
There are a lot of blog niches out there but I encourage people to consider two things, particularly if you are hoping to monetize your blog – choose topics that are popular and write about what you know.
Who is your target audience?
It is so tempting to say “I’m blogging for everyone” but the reality is, you are not. Finding your target audience is key because these are the people who will eventually be on team you.
That means if you’re starting a wedding blog your audience might be newly engaged individuals, people who like all things wedding (yep even if they’re single), or people who are looking for event decor ideas.
Look how wide I cast that net. Be open minded when thinking about your target audience.
Think beyond why and who
With these three qustions answered you can actually start thinking about other areas of your blog that will be crucial to this process:
- The name of your blog – you’ll need this when you purchase your domain name
- Your blog’s branding – what do you want the blog to stand for, how do you want your readers to feel
- How you want the blog to look (blog theme) – how the actual blog will look; a free theme can only take you so far
Don’t skip the planning process; walking into your blogging journey with purpose is the real first step.
A lot of how to start a blog guides will not walk you through these first steps. They’ll start immediately with buying a domain and hosting but that’s setting you up to fail or do extra work.
Now let’s set up your blog
First step, hosting
You have two options for starting your blog – joining a free platform (which is what we’re not doing) or taking control of the process from day one and going self-hosted.
Free platforms, like WordPress.com or Blogger, offer a limited experience and if you want to be that blogger, and take this even 1% seriously, you need to own your experience.
Purchasing hosting and a domain name means you’ve invested into your blog, you own your space and you have way more options and control over how your blog looks, how you monetize it, and what you can do with it.
So obviously a free platform is free but with self-hosting you will need to invest in the process. For a small blog, hosting can cost as low as £/$4 a month (£/$3.95 if we want to be super technical). But whenever I start a blog or website, I never blink twice – I automatically go and buy hosting and a domain name. There’s no other option for me.
Before we move onto the technical part please remember, you can do it. You don’t have to be Sheldon from Big Bang to figure this out. Take your time, be determined and you will have a blog in no time. Let’s do this!
For this blog guide we’ll be setting up hosting with Bluehost- they have a great BLACK FRIDAY DEAL going!
The link will open in a new window so you can reference this guide as you work. Here are a few reasons why I like Bluehost:
- They are recommended by WordPress (this is the platform I’ll be talking about in this guide)
- They include a free SSL certificate with your hosting plan
- A free domain name registration for the first year is included when you sign up
- Bluehost is really affordable
- Their hosting is optimized for SEO
- Installing WordPress is really easy
I cannot stress how cool it is that you get a free domain name when you sign up for hosting with Bluehost. For someone on a budget this could save you up a few extra pounds. Yes, you can get affordable domain names separately but if it’s included why not take advantage of that deal?
Let’s get online with Bluehost
Head over to Bluehost and click on get started – you can’t miss it.
The next screen will allow you to choose your blog plan. You have a choice of three packages. Most bloggers will use the basic plan if they’re only hosting one blog or website. There’s benefits to choosing one of the other plans though as they come with more options, especially if you want to have more than one site. Choose the one that’s best for you.
The next step is selecting your domain name. This is why I encouraged you to think about your why and start thinking about your brand, etc.
If you’ve already purchased a domain name you can insert it when you reach this step and if you’re not ready to select your domain name you can take advantage of Bluehost’s option to choose it later (it will be available as an option before you pay).
Quick name tips: Double check to make sure the name you want isn’t associated with anything strange or unsavory and check to see if it’s available on social media. I use this tool to let me know if the names I want are free. Don’t try to be quirky or unique – weird spellings don’t translate well and can confuse your readers. And yes, go for the .com – .lmnop is not a good look.
Next up, create an account; fill in your deets.
Now comes the fun part, deciding how long you want to pay for.
Payment tip: This amazing low price only applies to new customers (hey, that’s you!) and is valid for the first payment. The longer you can pay for up front, the better as you will get the affordable price over that amount of time. I recommend paying for at least 24 months if you can afford it.
Do you need those extra bits and bobs?
Underneath there will be some extra options, but do you really need them? Skipping the extra bits and bobs give you the best price soooooo it’s up to you.
The one you might need is domain privacy protection. When you sign up for hosting, the info you fill in is associated with your account. People can look up that info if they want so if you want to keep that info off the internet, opt for privacy protection. If it doesn’t bother you don’t get it. (It’s not shown in my example BUT it will be available to you.)
The next step is confirming payment, which should be pretty easy to navigatie.
If you need help at any time Bluehost has 24/7 support so they can guide you if any of my steps take you down a wonky path.
If everything is okay then yaaaaay. You’ve just purchased your hosting and registered your domain name!! You’ve got a few more steps to do so let’s keep moving forward.
You’ll be encouraged to make an account, this will be the login to your Bluehost account.
After creating an account you’ll be able to login in
One of the cool things about Bluehost is they make it super easy to install WordPress. You’ll see a screen prompting you to choose a theme. It’s up to you if you want to install a free theme or you choose to ignore it.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to keep this free theme; I’m going to walk you through installing a pro theme.
One more step – Installing Your Paid Theme
An easy way to think of a theme is it’s the look of your blog. Different themes have different options and cost different amounts. Read this post to learn what you should look for in a theme.
This step is important because the theme is what will make your blog look like your blog. If you’re happy with a free theme you can start creating your blog posts but if you’re ready to be a pro, let’s learn how to install a theme!
I’m really proud of you for making it this far. Let’s keep at it so you can get that blog online and accomplish your goal of being a pro blogger.
Look for themes that connect with your branding, that offer the options you envision for your site and that represent you.
A few places to look for themes:
Creative Market – they have a TON of WordPress themes with a variety of styles. There are a lot of feminine themes there as well so it’s great if you want something girly.
Pipdig – chances are you’ve seen a Pipdig theme; they’re very popular among bloggers and their themes have some good options.
Themeforest – This is where I get a lot of my themes from (I’m a theme collector lol). The options here are solid and very strong, def with great options for the serious blogger.
You’ve bought the theme, how do you install it?
Installation is easier than it sounds. After purchasing your theme you’ll need to download a file that will contain the files you need to upload. That file is your blog!
To upload your file:
- Log into your WordPress dashboard
- On the left side of the screen (in the gray area) click on Appearance
- Click on Themes
- Click on Add New – you’ll see a box that says browse. Click it and look for the file.
- Once you’ve found the file click Install
Quick install tip – you can change the look of your blog at any time. Even if you already have a few posts and comments you can still switch your theme. So if you’ve been blogging for a while with a free theme and you’re ready to make a change you can do it. Always do a backup when you’re making any big changes to your blog, including installing a new theme.
What you should do to build your dream blog
This is the part that confuses a lot of bloggers. How do you get it to look like it’s supposed to?
I’m not going to walk you through every step because that would mean we’d be here forever but I will advise to play with your theme. Expore and discover how to build pages, and create the look you want. Here are some plugins and things to do to help get you started:
Activiate your SSL certificate – this sounds difficult but it’s not (lol I think I say that about everything) and it basically shows users your site is secure. This is important for Google and for sites that sell things, and you’ll know it’s up and working when you see an https at the start of your url address/domain name.
Coming soon plugin – you don’t want anyone to see you making your changes so use this to hide what’s going on behind the scenes. This is one I’ve used before.
Yoast SEO – SEO is a game changer, it can make or break your blog. If you can understand a traffic light, you can understand Yoast. It makes things like connecting Pinterest a breeze.
Sumo – This is what I use to provide sharing options on my blog. Their sharing buttons are big and visible, plust the free version has a decent range of options. I’m loving this plugin and I think you will too.
Install Google Analytics – this free but powerful tool gives you a breakdown of what’s really going on with your site. A must for any blog.
- It’s okay if your blog doesn’t look right overnight. You’re going to have to figure out your site builder (this comes with the theme) so don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Follow the theme documentation; it’s the bit that teaches you how to make your blog look like a blog. Ask the theme developers for help if you can’t find it in the documentation.
- Keep your brand in mind when building your blog.
- If money is tight remember, there is always a FREE version of whatever plugin you need and use that until you can afford to pay for a fancy one.
- Turn the coming soon screen off to launch the blog; that’s how you’ll share it with the world.
Get more blogging tips:
Blog monetization – you’ve got a brand new blog and now you want to make some money from it. Learn how you should approach monetizing your blog and when to start making money.
DA scores – you’ll probably see brands seeking to work with bloggers of a certain DA score but…what is that? Read this post to learn everything about DA scores including how to improve yours. Get those brand opportunities!
Blog images – images can make or break your blog. Discover where to get pictures legally that will make your blog pop!
I know this guide was a lot but hopefully I dropped some gems in your lap today. My final bit of advice is purchase your hosting and domain today and install a coming soon plugin. Then work behind the scenes bit by bit to build a beautiful blog. When you’re ready, hit launch.