Steps-by-Step Process for How To Start a Blog
There was a time when starting a blog sounded so complicated, only a few were “brave enough” to actually make an attempt at starting one. But, these days, it has become so much easier for practically anyone to start a blogging business, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of blogs that are cropping up left, right and center on the internet.
But how does one start a blog? Do you need to have specific tools in order to get one off the ground? How much do you have to have in your bank account in order to sustain it, much less set it up? How difficult a road should you expect to find yourself in when you are starting a blog?
These are only a few of the many questions asked by those who want to start a blog, but have no idea where to start. Here, we will try our best to cover the basics of how you can start your very own blog and, a little later, on how you can start one real quickly on Bluehost, one of the most popular and commonly used blogging webhosts today.
The first thing you should do? Get that spark going.
In this article, we will explore 1) why starting a blog, then we will guide you through 2) a 5-step mini course on how to start your blog, and 3) practical steps for starting a blog on Bluehost in under 5 minutes.
WHY STARTING A BLOG
Everything starts with an idea. Inventors are able to create something out of nothing because they suddenly had an idea. Businessmen become successful after starting their companies based on a random (or maybe not so random) idea that came to them at one point or another.
The same thing goes for blogging. You have to really want to start a blog.
Therefore, you should first address the why of the matter. Why should you build a blog?
In the past, blogs served mainly as online journals or diaries, where bloggers can put down their thoughts and ideas in their own “small space” online, and have everyone else read about it. The evolution of blogging over the years made blogs more than just virtual diaries, as we all know. Today, blogging is seen as one of the most effective ways of sharing information and a useful means of communication in a highly fast-paced world. It also has a fun aspect to it, so you can find bloggers who do it because they enjoy it. In some cases, it is a way for some bloggers to gain recognition and build a reputation for themselves in a specific niche. Incidentally, blogging has also become a lucrative enterprise, and bloggers now see it as a way to earn money or even make a living out of it! In fact, the latter reason is quite possibly the most persuasive reason for many people looking to start their own blog.
By knowing your specific reasons, you will have a clearer direction as you go about the short and relatively simple process of setting up a blog and getting started on your blogging journey.
5-STEP MINI-COURSE ON HOW TO START YOUR BLOG
There are various resources online (and offline) that will teach you how to start. Some are lengthier than others, while most make the process seem easier than it actually is.
You can either follow our video guide below or read further.
We can simplify the process of starting a blog by breaking it down into 5 major steps.
Step 1: Decide on what you will blog about.
What should your blog be about? What blogging niche should you target? This may require a bit of self-reflection and introspection on your part.
The general idea would be to blog about something that you are knowledgeable about or, if not, you are passionate about. If you are creating a blog because you want to share knowledge with the others, you have to at least know more than the basics of the subject you have chosen for your blog. The danger of creating a blog on something that you are not really all that interested in, or not passionate enough about, is that you will soon lose what little interest you had in the beginning, and discontinue blogging. I’m pretty sure that is not what you want to happen, is it?
There are instances where bloggers talk about pretty much anything and everything under the sun in their blog. They take the “online diary” very literally and turn their blogs into personal spaces where they rant and rave about things that matter to them, then talk about even the most mundane things, like how their day went, or what food they ate the previous day. However, you will notice that these kinds of blogs rarely, if ever, become successful. The answer? Narrow things down to give your blog focus.
Pick a topic that you love or are most passionate about, because then you will feel more inspired to start the blog and continue maintaining it. Are you into photography and would like to connect with other photography enthusiasts through your blog? Do you enjoy to experiment with cooking and backing? Do you have a deep interest in fashion and beauty? Are you skilled or knowledgeable in matters related to technology? Then you now have a starting point.
Step 2: Decide on the blogging platform and web hosting that you will use.
The first things you have to choose is the blogging platform and web hosting services for your blog.
The blogging platform
What differentiates a regular site from a blog is the blogging platform. This is a service or software that effectively turns a website into a functional blog. Its content management system feature enables a blog to have Posts, Pages, Categories, Tags, Image Management, Post Management, and even Search Engine Optimization.
There are a number of blogging platforms that aspiring bloggers can choose from, with the most popular ones being WordPress (the most popular among bloggers), Blogger, Tumblr, and Typepad. WordPress is the most popular blogger platform based on the facts that about 75 million websites and about 50% of the world’s top blogs are set up using WordPress.
When choosing your blogging platform, you have to make the following considerations:
- The cost. Great news. Some of the best blogging platforms are actually free, so you don’t have to worry about setup costs. Of course, if you prefer, you can also choose those that charge a monthly fee. Just make sure they will make it worth your while, by offering additional features.
- Simplicity and friendly user interface. Not all first-time bloggers are knowledgeable when it comes to things such as coding or design. Make sure that the platform offers customization options
- Look and feel. Of course, you may have a vague idea on how your blog should look like. Some blogging platforms are able to make your blog look more professional or personal, depending on your preference. This is where you should look into the various customization options, as well as the themes and designs available.
- Some blogging platforms are more prone to security threats than others. This might require more in-depth research, so you have to read up on articles, reviews, testimonials, and the thoughts and opinions of other bloggers and experts on blogging in general.
- Technical support availability. Even if you have ample technical knowledge about blogging, you are bound to run into several snags or encounter areas that confuse you. It would help if the blogging platform also offers quality technical support.
The web hosting service
You also have to decide which web hosting service you are going to avail of. A webhost is a company that offers space on a server in order to make their clients’ websites or blogs accessible on the internet. In other words, they are providing the space that you will occupy on the worldwide web.
We recommend to use Bluehost when starting a blog as it offers very affordable and very good service. Below we provide practical steps for how to create an account and to set up a WordPress blog on Bluehost.
This is under the presumption that you are willing to pay for hosting for your blog, instead of using the many free alternatives available.
There are many reasons why you would be better off choosing self-hosting instead of a free one, especially if you are truly serious about the blog you are going to set up. If you choose to pay premium for webhosting, you will have the advantage of being able to have your own domain name and having full control of your blog, from how it would look to its security and backup issues.
The many webhosting service providers have varying rates and prices, with corresponding features. When choosing a web hosting service, the things to consider are:
- The amount of webspace they are able to provide. You should anticipate growing your blog in the future, so you might want to consider a webhost that offers more than enough web space. You also have to consider the content you are going to put on your blog. If it is going to be media-heavy (images, videos, audio), then you should definitely get more web space.
- The cost and mode of payment. You are willing to pay for web hosting, but how much are you willing to shell out? This is a point of comparison for many aspiring bloggers, comparing the fees charged by the different webhosting service providers. Some providers charge on a monthly basis while others make their clients pay annually. Again, this will depend on your willingness and capacity to pay.
- Customization and availability of tools. The webhost should give you a certain degree of control on how you want your blog to be hosted. Compare the different plans and see which ones offer the type of customization and control tools and features that you think you will need for your blog.
- This encompasses the security measures in place, uptime, as well as the speed of access. You do not want a webhost that always encounters problems, causing your blog to be down many times. If your blog also takes forever to load, your readers may go elsewhere.
Step 3: Set up your blog: design it, tweak it.
You now have a blogging platform and you’ve chosen a webhost. If not, read further on practical steps to choose and setup your blog with Bluehost below. You also registered your respective accounts with them. Now it is time to set up your blog.
Choose a name and a domain name.
A domain name is more than just the URL of your blog, or the string that users will type in the address bar in order to view and read your blog. Your name and domain name are the identity of your blog, so you have to make sure that you give it a lot of thought. In order to get some ideas feel free to use domain generator website like for example Namemesh where you can input your initial idea and see several combinations of domains which are available for a purchase.
When picking a domain name, here are some points that you should keep in mind:
- The domain name must be memorable and easy to remember. Some domain names are not memorable because they are complicated, so make sure that they are also relatively easy to remember, so it would be easy for people to type them on the address bar of their browsers.
- A trick used by the best bloggers is to choose domain names that are short, catchy and easy to pronounce and spell out. This isn’t to say that they should be too simple. It would be good if you are able to make it unique, maybe by combining two words or blending them together (Facebook, Microsoft), tweaking a word or play with puns (Travelocity, Pinterest), or come up with new words altogether (Etsy).
- The domain name must be easily identifiable with the topic, subject of niche you are blogging about. Use keywords that are meaningful and have an easy register with anyone reading it, such that they will immediately have an idea what the blog is about just by reading the domain name.
- The domain name’s extension should also be relevant and specific. There are other extensions besides .com. Examples of the most commonly used extensions used by blogs are .info, .net, and .biz.
Set the look and feel of your blog.
It’s time to design your blog and make it look the way you want it to.
- Choose a theme: You would have to look through the design and customization options available in your blogging platform. If you chose a blogging platform like WordPress, which offers thousands of themes to choose from, then you have most of the work done for you. All that’s left is choosing which theme to use and start tweaking from there. Of course, if you happen to be knowledgeable in coding, then this would not be a problem. But if you are starting your blog with zero coding knowledge, choosing a theme is the way to go. We choose the StudioPress theme* based on Genesis* framework in WordPress, so that nice and catchy design was bundled with several technical advantages of the Genesis framework.
- Tweak your blog: This is actually the fun part, although not necessarily the easiest. You already have a theme in place, now you can start modifying the theme so your blog will look the way that you pictured it to be. You can tinker with the colors, the font styles and sizes, illustration images, and the other features you want to appear on your blog. Depending on the blogging platform, this part may be very easy, or very complicated. That’s why you have to take into consideration the customization options when choosing which platform to use.
- Choose your plugins: Do not go around and using as many plugins as you can. Choose only those that are going to be of actual use to your blog. The most common plugins are the share-button plugins for linking to social media websites, calendar plugins, comments and spam filter plugins, and backup and database plugins, to name a few. For example, we are using Monarch plugin* for social media sharing buttons, editorial calendar from Editorial Calendar plugin, comments from Jetpack plugin, backup from BackUpWordPress plugin.
Step 4: Make it live!
It’s time to launch your blog! You might want to set a specific time and date for it, instead of randomly making it live out of the blue. Put the word out to your friends, family, and acquaintances. Let them know that you will be launching your blog. Consider this as your first step in growing (and marketing) your blog.
Step 5: Write great content.
It’s time to fill your blog with content that will attract visitors and keep them coming back. Good content is not enough; it should be great content.
Your content should not only be great and creative; they should also be compelling, relevant, and offer value to your readers. What will they get out of your content? Will they gain knowledge or know-how from it? Will the content somehow solve a problem they may have?
It also has a lot to do with the presentation of the content. Use images, videos and other media that will add value to your content. Content should also be added regularly. It might not be daily, especially if you do not have enough time to curate your content every day, but make sure there are regular updates. You might want to schedule a day in the week or the month to upload new content. Never leave your blog quiet for long stretches of time. An inactive blog is a blog that is not worth checking out.
PRACTICAL STEPS FOR STARTING A BLOG ON BLUEHOST IN UNDER 5 MINUTES
Bluehost is one of the most trusted hosting providers today. The mere fact that it has been providing webhosting services since 2003, and managed to stay on top of various lists of “best webhost service providers” today means that they are doing something very, very right.
Bluehost is ideal for those who are just getting started on blogging. They offer one of the most inexpensive rates around, they are the easiest to setup (largely thanks to its partnership with WordPress, one of the most commonly used blogging platforms).
First-time bloggers can avail of Bluehost’s web hosting for $3.95 per month*, and that already includes a free domain name (a $15 value/year), free site builders and one-click WordPress install. Of course, there is also the 24/7 support that you will get from the Bluehost technical support team via chats, phone and email.
Given our experience with the Bluehost service we would like to share how you can start your own blog on Bluehost in just 5 minutes – or less than that, even! Here’s how.
1. Create a Bluehost account.
Click here to start your WordPress blog on Bluehost* and click on “Get Started Now”.
Select the hosting package or plan that you want to avail of. There are three options available: BASIC, PLUS, and PRO. Since you are just starting out, we recommend you choose the BASIC plan. Don’t worry, you can choose to upgrade later when your blog has grown and you need more features.
The BASIC plan costs $3.95 per month and will provide 50GB space for one website, one domain included, and 5 email accounts with 100 MB storage each.
1. You will be asked for a domain name. If you have an existing domain and you want to sign up with that, choose that option. If you have a new domain you want, type that in the appropriate box. You may also pick the extension you want. If the domain you requested is available, you will be directed to the next step.
2. Fill up the form with the required information.
- Account Information – your personal information, including your address and contact details.
- Package Information – choose the Account Plan (your preferred duration of the plan, with the corresponding prices), and other add-ons such a Constant Contact, Domain Privacy Protection, Site Backup Pro, Search Engine Jumpstart and SiteLock Security. These have corresponding prices. We suggest you skip them for the time being because you may not be needing them yet. Uncheck the options.
- Billing Information – choose the payment option you prefer.
3. Agree to the Terms of Service and Policies of Bluehost, and click Submit.
4. When presented with additional options for other upgrades you might want to purchase, skip them, and just click on “Complete”. You have just successfully created a Bluehost account.
5. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you used to sign up. Check your inbox to confirm so you can log in to your account.
6. You will be asked to create a password for your Bluehost account. Follow the parameters suggested by Bluehost so you can come up with a strong password.
2. Log into your Bluehost account.
1. Log in to the “hosting” (not “webmail”!) account using the password you have created.
2. Once you have logged in, a Welcome Message will appear, giving you two options: either you get started on your own, or leave it to the Bluehost technical team. Hey, it’s your blog, so you should be the one to do it, right?
3. Familiarize yourself with the Account Dashboard. They are pretty self-explanatory at first glance, and you can learn more about them later. But, for now, you have a blog to start.
3. Install WordPress.
Fortunately for Bluehost users, they have a one-click WordPress install facility, so you won’t have much trouble at all.
1. At the bottom of the screen, click on the “Install WordPress” icon. You will be led to the WordPress Installation Screen.
2. Click on “INSTALL”.
3. Click on “Show Advanced Options” and input the name you have chosen for your blog, a username, and a WordPress login password.
4. Click on “INSTALL NOW”. Wait until you are informed that installation has been completed.
5. You will receive an email from MOJO Marketplace indicating the URL of your site, your WordPress admin login URL and login username. Keep this email.
4. Login into your WordPress account and start designing your blog.
1. Familiarize yourself with the Dashboard. Just get the basics down first, you can explore more later on.
2. Under “Appearance” start by selecting the “Themes” and than “Add New Theme” that you want and uploading it on your WordPress. You can go right ahead and start customizing it by clicking on “Customize” button. Below is an example of our Minimum Pro Theme from StudioPress* which is based on Genesis* framework.
3. You may also upload additional plugins that you think you will need.
5. Once you are satisfied with how your blog looks like in the Preview, you can Save everything and Activate your site to make it live.
It’s quite easy, and it takes very little time!
OTHER USEFUL TOOLS AND RESOURCES IN STARTING A BLOG
You have a very good head start if the blogging platform you have chosen, like WordPress, already provides most, if not all, the tools and resources that you will need to start a blog. In fact, your blogging platform and webhost are the first and primary tools that you will need to blog.
Other tools that you will need when starting a blog, and even when you are already running it, include the following:
- Google Analytics. This is one of the must-have metrics tools that every blogger should have.
- Graphic design tools. These are for creating logos, images, and other graphic design elements. The most common tools for this are Canva, Appy Pie Design, PicMonkey and 99designs.
- Social media management tools. You want to incorporate social media in your blog at the outset. You can use tools that will manage your social media strategy on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Examples are Sprout Social and Edgar.
- Content management tools. Unless you write everything by hand, on paper, then you should consider using these tools for planning your content: Evernote, Wunderlist, and other tools that can help you schedule content management.
Of course, as your blog grows and expands, you will need to upgrade the tools as well.
OTHER TIPS ON STARTING A BLOG
Here are some other important notes that you might not find in other guides on starting a blog.
- You will make mistakes. Count on it. Even the most experienced bloggers commit mistakes when designing their blogs. Make sure you catch them, and learn from these mistakes, so you will not repeat them.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions, or for help. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources and helpful aids online that you can refer to when you are stuck while in the process of setting up your own blog.
Share your feedback and your thoughts to this article! Was it useful for you!
Image credit: pixabay | kpgolfpro under CC0 Public Domain.
Disclosure: Some of the links (marked with *) in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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