I love blogging. I’ve actually been dreaming about starting a blog since my oldest was born but I didn’t really have a clue how to get started or what I’d even write about.
When my kids both started elementary school I knew that I wanted to finally start my blog. So I spent time researching and figuring out what I was going to blog about.
How To Start A Blog: A Complete Beginners Guide
Why blogging? I loved the idea that I could be creative, start my own business and contribute financially to my family.
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I went on Pinterest and typed in How To Start A Blog and slowly started to piece together everything. But everything felt so overwhelming and confusing.
So I decided to put together how I started my blog so you can see the steps I took to get I Heart Simplicity rolling. I hope that this guide can help you get your blog started.
Setting The Foundation For Your Blog
First things first, what do you want to blog about? Are you passionate about something? Have a good skill set or are you good at something that you could share with the world?
Here a few niche ideas that you could blog about.
- Making Money Online
- Home Decor & DIY
- Health & Fitness
- Beauty & Fashion
Once you know what you’re going to blog about you need to answer a few questions.
- Who is your reader? Knowing your reader helps you determine what you’re going to blog about.
- What are your reader’s problems? Are they looking to earn money? Lose weight? Looking for Keto diet recipes that are budget-friendly?
- How are you going to help them with their problems?
- What do you want your blog to look like? In other words, how do you want to be perceived?
- What colors, fonts, photos are you going to use? Everything about your brand sends a message. What message do you want to send?
Picking A Domain Name
Picking a name was hard for me. The problem was that I wanted something that I could use that would allow me to talk about a wide variety of topics.
I have a lifestyle blog but I’m geared more towards parenting/stay at home moms. I also wanted a name that I would still be able to use if I decided to change the direction of my blog.
Some people use their name. Something like Sarah Smith.com. You can definitely do that but I decided that I didn’t want to use my name so I went with I Heart Simplicity.
Another thing to think about is the availability of the domain name. You can search through Bluehost when you’re getting your hosting set up for a name that is not taken.
I had several other names chosen before I landed on I Heart Simplicity. They were not available so I had to go back and figure out what to name my blog.
It helps to sit down and come up with a list of possible blog names that way if one is taken, you’ll have other options.
When picking a domain name, avoid numbers and hyphens. Make sure it’s easy to spell (no funny spellings) and select a .com
WordPress is a blogging platform that makes it easy to start blogging. There are two options when signing up for WordPress.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is NOT self-hosted so your content is bound by their terms, you’re limited in how you can make money, track your growth and design your website.
WordPress.org is self-hosted so you own your content and have more control over your website.
I highly recommend WordPress.org if you want to become serious about blogging.
Self-hosted seems like it would be a lot of work but it’s really not. If you sign up with Bluehost, they install WordPress so it’s super easy to get started.
Bluehost is the website hosting that I use for my blog. Anytime I have had any questions or issues, they have been really helpful. There are other hosting sites out there but I highly recommend Bluehost.
With Bluehost you get:
- One FREE Domain Name
- Hosting for your Site
- WordPress.org installation
- 24/7 Support so you always have support day or night
- Free SSL Certificate. This is important for a secure internet and it protects sensitive information. Even if you don’t handle sensitive information the SSL Certificate is still important for protecting your website.
Setting up your website is really easy. I’ll walk you through it. 🙂
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan
First, click on this link to get to you to the Bluehost webpage. This is where you will sign up.
Click on the get started button. This is going to take you to the page where you pick your hosting plan.
Now you will pick your hosting plan. I recommend picking the basic plan as it has everything that you need to start a blog. This is what I have and it has served me well.
Step 2: Choose A Free Domain Name
After you “select” your plan you’ll be taken to domain page setup. Enter your domain name in the “use a domain you own” section if you’ve already purchased your domain. If you don’t have a domain, enter the domain name you want to use in the “create a new domain” section.
You can click on the “I’ll create a domain later” button if you’d like to create a domain later.
Step 3: Account Signup
Once you have entered a domain name, you’ll be taken to the signup page. Here you will enter all of your personal information.
Step 4: Package Information & Billing
If you continue to scroll down the page you’ll see the options for packages. I signed up for the 36-month plan because it saves you the most money.
You can choose what package extras you want. The only one I recommend is the Domain Privacy Protection as this keeps your contact information hidden.
After choosing your plan, it’s time to pay. Once you’ve paid you’ll be sent a confirmation to the email you listed on the Account Information page.
Congratulations! You have a domain and web hosting plan!
Step 5: Create An Account
Go to your email and check your confirmation email. Verify your email.
Now you’ll want to Create Your Password.
Make sure you write it down as this is the password that you’ll use to log into Bluehost.
Once you click “create account” you’ll be taken to the login page where you can get logged into your blog!
Type your domain name and password and click “log in”
You’ll be prompted to set up your name and tagline for your blog. You can always change this later if you don’t know exactly what you want to put here.
Make sure that you select “Do you want a blog?”
Next, you’ll be asked your website type. This is just a survey to share what your goals are and how comfortable you are with creating websites.
Step 6: Pick A Theme
Next up is the fun part, picking a theme! All of the themes that come up after the survey are FREE. You can pick anyone you want to get you started.
Or you can always skip this step and go back to it later.
If you are using Bluehost, WordPress will auto-install.
Step 7: Start Building Your Blog
Click on the Start Building button. You’ll be asked if you are using your website for personal or business reasons.
Step 8: Open Your Bluehost cPanel
This is your C-Panel page. This is where you can access your WordPress sites, marketplace, emails, domains and advanced options.
On this page, you can log in to WordPress (where you’ll write your blog posts and can access your dashboard and tools.)
Click on the login to the WordPress button to access your WordPress Dashboard.
Step 9: Open WordPress Dashboard
Next, let’s explore your dashboard. On the left-hand side, you’ll find all of the WordPress tools that help you create posts and customize your site.
You can find things like:
- Posts- This is where you’ll write, edit, and organize your blog posts.
- Media- Upload and manage all your photos and videos here.
- Pages- This is where you’ll create pages like your About me or Contact me page.
- Comments- You can view and manage all comments on your blog here.
- Appearance- This is where you customize your themes and adjust designs.
- Plugins- Plugins help your blog function as you want it to. Add things like forms, SEO tools, and widgets.
- Users- Add and manage users for your blog.
- and more!
As you are working on setting up your site, visitors who come to your blog will see a “Coming Soon” page.
Once you have your blog is set up how you like it, you can click the “Launch Your Site” button.
Now What? Blog Recommendations
Free WordPress Themes
You’ll need a theme for your blog. What is a Theme? A theme is the overall look and style of your website. It’s the colors, layout, and style of your blog.
You can choose a FREE theme right from WordPress when you sign up. Make sure the theme you use is an official WordPress.org theme. You want to make sure the theme is compatible.
Using a free theme helps to lower the cost of blogging when you are first getting started. The downside of free themes is that you have limited features and support options.
You can use the free themes but I highly recommend a paid theme when you’re able to. Having a paid theme can save you a lot of money in the long run. Paying for a theme ensures that you have good support and updates, more customization options and it’s more unique so you can personalize it.
Genesis Studiopress is the “Parent” or Framework for my site (basic design, security, code, and SEO Foundation). They have great support and everything works great with WordPress.
Studiopress uses Child Themes. Child Themes are like the skin of your site. They function as pure design elements like colors, fonts, etc.
Pretty Cute Design
For Child Themes, I use and recommend Pretty Cute Designs. They are affordable and their themes are feminine.
Another thing that I love about Pretty Cute Designs is that they walk you through EVERYTHING. They have tutorials for every theme and they even have basic WordPress video tutorials.
I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for me. When I first started I was so lost. Their videos helped me so much!
What are plugins? Plugins are codes that are added to your site to help with functionality and help you add new features to your WordPress blog.
You can search for plugins right in WordPress which makes it easy to install. But a word of caution. Too many plugins can cause your site to slow down so just be careful how many you add to your site.
Here are a few plugins that I recommend:
- Akismet- This is a plugin that will protect your site against spam comments.
- Yoast SEO- This is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin. SEO is how your site is found on Google. Yoast reviews your post and shows you if your post is good to go for SEO.
- Updraft Plus- This is for backing up your site.
- Limit Login Attempts- This protects your blog from hackers.
- ShortPixel- This compresses your images so your pages load faster.
How Do You Make Money Blogging?
So now that you’ve got everything set up, how do you make money?
First things first, you need good content. I recommend spending some time before you launch your site writing some blog posts.
There are several ways to make money blogging. Here are a few ways you can monetize your site.
- Affiliate Marketing (recommending products or services in exchange for a commission)
- Sponsored posts
- Sell Digital Products- Ebooks, courses, printables, apps, plugins, themes, etc.
Getting People To Your Blog
After you do all this hard work, how to come you get people to your site? Social media, Pinterest and Google are some of the main ways to get your content in front of people.
Start with one at a time. For example, learn everything you can about Pinterest and then move on to Facebook. This will help you feel less overwhelmed.
That’s it. Yay, you started a blog! Remember that building up a blog takes time. Take it one day at a time. Research and learn one topic at a time and once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next thing.
One more thing……
There are a lot of blogging courses out there that are helpful when you’re getting started but one that I recommend for beginners is Learn Grow Earn From Tracie Forbes
Tracie explains everything you need to know to set your blog up the right way.
You’ll learn about:
- Blog Design
- How to set up your site navigation
- Blog Analytics
- Legal aspects of blogging
- How to write up the perfect blog posts
- Email Lists
- and more!
Do you have a blog or are you interested in creating one? Let me know in the comments.