You’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while now. You’re a writer with a story the world needs to hear, have a solution to an unsolved problem, a desire to teach other people the life lessons you’ve learned, want to make a living doing what you love, or maybe … you just want to express yourself and have no idea where to start. Believe me, I get it. Taking that leap from writing on paper to pouring out your thoughts on a blog for the world to see can seem overwhelming.
When I started my blog almost five years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t understand what a domain was, let alone a web host. I didn’t know how to flush out my vision, establish a brand, or monetize my blog, and quite frankly, I didn’t have the thousands of dollars required to learn how to do it. My site is what it is today because I have spent thousands of hours (instead of thousands of dollars) researching how to start, manage, and grow a successful blog.
I wish I could tell you everything I’ve learned about blogging in one short post, but you’d be here forever and this post wouldn’t be so short. What I can tell you is how to start a blog on a budget, give you the exact steps I used to get my dream off the ground, and walk you through how to get yours off the ground too. In four easy steps, you could literally have a blog that’s set up and ready to go.
So grab some tea, coffee, or whatever “energy drink” (organic of course) you’re into and let’s flush this out.
Step 1: Choose a Domain for Your Blog
This first step is an important one. Before you can actually start a blog, you need to come up with a domain name. A domain is basically the URL of your website, like “LivingWhole.org” or “meganredshaw.com.” It can contain the actual name of your blog or can be something entirely different.
Since there are so many websites in the world, it’s probably not a bad idea to write several ideas down on paper, just in case your #1 choice is taken. A good domain name is catchy, simple, relevant, and easy to remember. You’ll want to put a little thought into this because when you make it big, that domain name is going to be associated with your brand forever.
Step 2: Choose a Web Host and Register Your Domain
The next step is to choose a web host and register your domain. All websites need a web host. This is a company that provides the technologies and services needed for your website to be viewed online. There are ton of different hosting services you can choose from but my absolute favorite (and the one I used) for new bloggers is bluehost.
With bluehost, you’ll get a free domain, unlimited space, 24/7 technical support for those, “I have no idea what I’m doing” moments, easy WordPress setup, and hosting that starts around $3.95 a month. (If you’re wondering if that’s a good price for hosting? The answer is, “YES.”) Since bluehost is what I used and recommend, I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to get your site powered by them. (This is the part where I hold your hand.)
First, go to bluehost.com and select the green “Get Started Now” button.
Next, choose your plan.
Bluehost has plans starting at $3.95 per month. I liked the idea of unlimited everything, so I went with the “plus” plan, but you should choose the plan that fits your budget, goals, and can accommodate your growing traffic (because you’re going somewhere with this).
Next, register the domain you Chose in step 1.
On this screen, you’ll type in the URL you want for your website in the “new domain” box. If the URL you’ve chosen is already taken, it will give you some similar suggestions. Once you have chosen your domain, click “next.”
This is the last step in setting up your hosting. On this screen, you’ll enter the email address you want associated with your account and the details that will make up your hosting package. This includes whether you want a 1, 2, or 3-year hosting package, domain privacy protection, site backup, and more. (I selected a 1-year plan with domain privacy protection.)
You could stop here if you want. If you’re working with a developer whose creating your actual website, you’ll give them your new hosting log in information so they can integrate your hosting with your blog. If you’re like most new bloggers (including myself) you’re not paying someone thousands of dollars you don’t yet have, you’re doing this yourself, in which case … move to “Step 3.”
Step 3: Start Your WordPress Blog
Now that you have a web address and hosting, you need to create your actual blog. There are a lot of services you could use to do this like: Squarespace, Ghost, Joomla, and Wix, but WordPress is hands down the best. WordPress has the best developers, best themes, most control, and best plugins. It’s also easy and FREE.
Here’s how to set this up: You’ll log in to your account on bluehost, click “CPanel” and select “One-Click installs.” From there, it will walk you through a very easy process for setting up your WordPress site. It literally takes minutes. Once you’ve finished installing WordPress, you can log in and immediately begin posting. If you’re like the rest of us though, you’ll probably want to turn your site into something unique to you and the brand you’re trying to create.
Step 4: Choosing a Theme
Choosing a theme was one of my favorite parts of creating my blog, and let me tell you a little secret: When I first started out, I didn’t have a designer or a developer. I chose a $33 theme that looked like “me” and I ran with it. With an inexpensive theme I could easily customize myself, I generated thousands of followers and viral posts. I say all of this to tell you that you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars to have a blog that is pretty to look at.
Here’s how I did it:
I first downloaded StudioPress. StudioPress gives you a framework, access to premium themes and plugins, and a step-by-step guide for customizing your website. After you download it, you’ll be able to select from any number of themes. Here is the actual “Lifestyle Pro Theme” that I customized when I first started Living Whole.
That’s it! You’re ready to create.
Now that you have a domain, a web host, a WordPress site, and an amazing theme, you are officially the proud owner of a blog. It’s time to make it official by creating your first post. Once you have, come back and share a link in the comments below!
Find yourself needing a little extra guidance? Check out this short how-to video created by Robert Mening at Website Setup.