How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide
Start a blog… and make money from home.
If you are like I was a few years ago, you are probably wondering how starting a blog has anything to do with making money from home. In fact, when I started my blog, I didn’t really have the intention of making money from it, I was just doing it as means to stay relevant professionally—writing about personal finance, which I still do, but my blog has definitely grown from there.
Now, I want to make sure your expectations are in line: you probably won’t be making lots of money right away. But if you put a bit of time and effort into creating an eye-pleasing website with great content, you will start to see your blog grow—and your income opportunity.
So the first thing that you need is to create your blog. And that is what we will cover in this tutorial.
Start Your Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide
The best thing that you can do is start with a self-hosted site using WordPress.org. I found out the hard way that it is truly a pain to migrate a website over from WordPress.com. Like I said, I started my blog as basically a hobby, and for that, WordPress.com is fine, but if you want your blog to be able to grow, and eventually monetize it, you will need to have a self-hosted site. This type of site will give you the most versatility and control over your blog.
If you are already on WordPress.com and want to take your blog to the next level or if you are just starting out and think that you may want to have the option in the future, setting up a self-hosted site is easy and relatively inexpensive with Bluehost. The first thing you’ll need to do to set up your self-hosted blog on WordPress.org is select your domain name and hosting package. Although I explain them in detail here, both of these things are taken care of in the step-by-step guide below as you set up your blog through Bluehost.
Select a domain name and get it registered.
You’ll want to do some research before you choose a name for your blog. Think about how you want to brand yourself and your blog. If you need a little help, check out Bust a Name or Who Is. Both websites allow you to type in some key words you want to use in your domain name and see if such a domain is available, or you can view suggested combinations if what you want isn’t available.
Once you have decided on the perfect name, you need to register it. Once you register it, only you will have that domain name. You could choose to register it where you purchase your hosting package. Bluehost offers a free domain name when you sign-up for hosting through them, so this helps to streamline the entire process for you.
Select a hosting provider.
This part can be a bit confusing. You want to choose a hosting provider with a good reputation and good service. Your host is where your blog “lives,” so it affects your site speed and accessibility. Support is also an important factor to consider when choosing a host. You want to be able to call when an issue arises and have it fixed right away to avoid website downtime as much as possible. I have used two self-hosting services and have been happy with both: Bluehost, which provides a great service at a very affordable price; and Synthesis, which is a more expensive, advanced option.
Let’s start with Bluehost. This is probably the most reliable self-hosting on the market—and it is reasonably priced; that is why I suggest it as a good starting place for a new blog. It is also easy to set up and has great customer service. Bluehost offers hosting for the incredibly reasonable price of $3.49 per month through my discounted link when you sign up for 36 months. In order to get this low pricing, you pre-pay for all 36 months up front, but if you decide to cancel at any time, they offer a money-back guarantee. You really can’t beat the value for your money and the excellent service with Bluehost. For many new bloggers, Bluehost is the perfect place to start, so I am going to show you how easy it is to setup your blog using them:
How to Start a Blog and Install WordPress
Setting up Hosting at Bluehost
Let’s walk through the steps of getting started with Bluehost.
- To sign up through my website: Money Savvy Living, click on the Resources tab, click on How to Start a Blog, from here, you’ll be re-directed to Bluehost through my affiliate link and you may get a few additional perks for signing up through my code. Click the big green “Get Started Now” button.
- Select the web hosting package. Remember, you can always upgrade later, so to get your blog going, I suggest the “starter” option
- At this point, you will register your new domain (or use an existing domain, if you already have one). To register your domain name with Bluehost, enter it under the “new domain” box and click “next.”
- Enter all of your account and contact information.
- Continue down to the “package information” section. You get the cheapest monthly rate by selecting 36 months. It’s important to note that Bluehost* charges you for the full the 36 months upfront. You are pre-paying for the hosting. You are able to pay for a shorter term, but the monthly rate will be a bit higher. They always have that money-back guarantee, though, so you won’t risk losing your money.
(Remember, that if you are looking to monetize your blog for income, then you may also be able to write off expenses associated with your blog on your taxes. Please see your tax professional for advice on your specific tax situation regarding your blogging income and expenses.)
- Enter your billing information, agree to the service agreements, and then click “next.”
- Click “complete.” Don’t worry about the additional options at this point, you can always add items on later, as your blog grows.
- Congratulations! Your account if now set up! Next you need to create your password.
- On this screen, you’ll create your Bluehost account password. Don’t forget it!
- Now that your password has been created, you can log into your account for the first time! Make sure you’re logging into “hosting” and not “webmail.”
- When your account opens for the first time, you’ll see a welcome message. At the bottom of this message is a customer service number; this is important because Bluehost has great customer service and will help answer any questions that you have.
- Once you close that window, you’ll be in your account dashboard. The first thing that you need to do is install WordPress. Click the “install WordPress” button at the bottom of the screen.
- On the WordPress Installation screen, click the green “Install” button.
- Click “show advanced options.”
- Name your site, create a username for the WordPress install, and create a WordPress login password. Check the boxes and click “Install Now.”
- IMPORTANT! Now check your email, and you should have something from Mojo Marketplace. This email is important, so make sure you save it! It includes your website URL, your WordPress admin login URL, and your WordPress login username. Don’t worry about Browsing themes to design your site yet. You will have a couple default (free) themes to choose from to get started. I also don’t personally suggest the Mojo marketplace for themes; it is much better to work an actual website designer directly.
- From the email in the previous step, click the Admin URL. It will take you to a site that looks like the one below. Enter your username. This is the main login screen that you will use for your blog once everything is set up.
- To retrieve your password, navigate back to your Bluehost* tab and click the very bottom “view” to see your WordPress password. Remember, this alert expires after 12 hours, so make sure you get the password within that time period.
- IMPORTANT! This page shows everything you need to start using WordPress. I like to take a screenshot of this page and save it somewhere that I’ll be able to easily access it, copy and paste it into a word doc, or write it down somewhere.
- Now that you have your password, you can log into WordPress and you’ll be viewing your WordPress dashboard. This is the main area that you will be working in when creating your blog posts. Take the time to go through the various settings and options. It may be confusing at first, but in no time it will all be second nature.
Choose Your Theme
Like I said, you do have limited, free themes to choose from, so you may want to start with that and just get familiar with WordPress before finalizing a theme. This is something that can always be worked on later. Of course, you do want it to look as nice as possible so people will want to come back to your site. Do your research; look at websites that appeal to you and then try to find a theme, or have one created, that will convey the look and feel that suits your blog.
If you want to implement it yourself (and not pay a website designer), you may want to look into Genesis because this is a great basis for most child themes.
Create Great Content
And now you are all set up and ready to go! The only thing left to do is create great content!
*This tutorial does contain affiliate links, notated by an asterisk.* Should you choose to sign up for Bluehost* through here, I do earn a commission. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but regardless of compensation, I only recommend products to my readers that I have honestly reviewed and recommend.