In this post, I’m going to teach you how to start your own blog!
To start with, let me lay out the steps you’re going to need to take, and then we’ll go into them in more detail.
Steps To Start A Profitable Blog:
Step 1: Pick Your Passion
Step 2: Decide On Your Platform
Step 3: Get a Host & Get Your Domain
Step 4: Set Up WordPress
Step 5: Create Content
STEP 1: Pick Your Passion
This is the step where you decide what you’re going to blog about. Now honestly, you don’t have to be passionate about the topic(s) you blog about, but it does make it easier.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you decide what to blog about!
Pick something you enjoy writing about.
This might seem fairly obvious, but I’ve met a person or two who have tried blogging about topics that will “make lots of money”. If you chose a topic that you don’t care about you might find that you have a hard time continuing to write.
Not to mention, that your blog will potentially become something you resent, or put off working on. In addition to that, your readers aren’t dumb, they can sniff out someone who isn’t genuinely excited about their content!
Decide if you’re going to niche or be a jack of all trades.
A lot of people will argue and say that you need to just pick one topic to be successful with a blog. For instance, just fashion instead of fashion, beauty and money.
I ascribe to the notion that you can write about more than one topic as long as your audience is interested in all of the topics you write about. If your audience is women in college, they probably would resonate with fashion, beauty and money topics, but not so much with muscle cars or luxury vacations.
With all of that being said, you can totally choose just one topic to base your website on if you want to!
What If I can’t decide how to start?
Honestly, my lifestyle blog wasn’t my first website. I fully developed three other websites first, and bought probably close to 20 various domains with the intention of making them into websites.
Five years later and here I am with a plan and a vision that I see being long lasting. But if I hadn’t started? Who knows where I’d be. Probably just dreaming about blogging.
So, if nothing else start SOMETHING. You’ll gain experience and figure out what you really want to do. Don’t let perfectionism or too much planning stop you from getting started. JUST GO FOR IT! You’ll learn along the way.
Step 2: Choose a Platform
This part is where things start to sound techy and that scares some people. But, it shouldn’t. The blogging platform can be thought of as the frame of the house. Now, there are many platforms, and each platform has your frame already built, but they’re each built differently. Some are built of wood, some of steel, some in different configurations, and it really depends on you and your preferences as to which one is best.
Key Point: Each website platform contains starter files that are the base for your blog- “best” is a preference.
The most popular blogging platforms are WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Drupal and Blogger.
The each have their own pros and cons, but the best (in my opinion) is WordPress. It’s the most popular platform by far because it’s both functional, easy to learn, and has tons of flexibility.
With that being said, I obviously recommend WordPress.
WordPress Blog Types:
There are actually two types of WordPress blogs which sometimes confuses people, so while this article is guiding you through self-hosted WordPress blogs, I quickly wanted to talk about hosted WordPress blogs and the difference.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs, are what I would recommend you stick to. The reason they’re called self-hosted is because you will pay for your own hosting platform. This will give you optimal control, access to premium support and you’ll have access to the best free plugins and themes available.
Hosted WordPress blogs, on the other hand, can be found at WordPress.org. These blogs are limiting for even a hobby blogger. In fact, in my experience, they often end up costing more than a self-hosted blog because you have to pay for every little thing.
For instance, if you want to change the structure of your site, you have to pay. If you need support for help with something, you have to pay. If you want any sort of customizable theme, you have to pay. Ultimately it makes the most sense to go with self-hosted-especially when hosting really isn’t that expensive.
Speaking of hosting, let’s pick your host and domain and start setting up your blog!
Step 3: Host and Domain
Just like the platform is the structure of your house, the host is the foundation. Your host will provide you with server space where you can use your platform of choice and build your website.
Since I use Siteground I’ll show you how to set up with them. However steps will be similar with other hosts.
Note: I am an affiliate with Siteground, which means that I will receive a small commission if you purchase their services through my links. That’s at no added cost to you and it GREATLY helps me run my site 🙂
Step-By-Step Set Up Instructions:
Step 1: Click Here to go to the homepage which looks like this! Click the Sign Up Button.
Step 2: Choose Your Plan. I use GoGeek, but most beginners are probably best off with StartUp.
Step 3: This is the step where you’re going to choose your domain name (www.thisisyourdomainname.com), or let Siteground know that you already have a domain. Your domain name should reflect your intentions. If you’re not sure, it’s not a bad plan to use your name (like I did).
Step 4: After you hit “Proceed” in step 3, you’ll need to fill out your billing information, hit submit and you’ll see this screen. Hit proceed to customer area.
Step 5: When the customer area loads for the first time, you’ll get a prompt from a set-up wizard which will help you set everything up in a matter of minutes. Start by clicking “set up new website”.
That will expand a selection of options. Click on the “W” WordPress logo and create login information. You can use this information to sign into the backend of your site.
Step 6: Click “complete setup”!
You now have your host, domain and platform set up!
This means that you’re ready to start building your site and adding content!
Step 4: Set Up WordPress
I’m not going to lie, to a beginner WordPress might seem like a bit of a monster. But it’s really not too bad once you get used to it!
Let’s get you started by logging in. To log in you’re going to go to http://yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-login.php
You should find this login page and from here you can enter the username and password you set up earlier.
When you login to WordPress it’s going to look like this.
Now, this might look overwhelming, but we’ll take it step by step to get your site up and going.
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick a theme.
Your theme is what will allow you to customize your blog so it fits your aesthetic taste and personal blogging goals.
While WordPress has a directory of free themes, I would personally recommend going with a premium theme-I’ll explain why in a moment.
Free themes can be found in the WordPress directory. However, if you want to try a free theme, it’s easiest (and safest) to stick with the WordPress-made themes (2015,2016,2017) that are the default when you set up.
Premium themes are those which you buy. They often have great support, are consistently updated and have a broader selection of options for customization.
Why I use a premium theme and I would recommend you do too.
When I first started blogging I tried to get away with using one of the free themes, but as a beginner who needed support I quickly discovered that free themes are often more trouble than they’re worth. As I already mentioned, premium themes, are updated consistently and you can always reach out to someone to get help. Both of those reasons alone made it worth it to me as a beginner to pay for a premium theme.
However, in addition to not having support, free themes often lack the quality, flexibility, functionality and security elements that a *good* premium theme will have. I ended up switching form free to paid theme in the first month, and I wish I had started out with a premium theme because I wouldn’t have had to style my site twice in such a short period of time. However, like I already mentioned, if you are going with a free theme stick to the one WordPress gives you, or do some research to make sure you find one that’s good.
I’ve gone through several different premium themes across several websites and I ended up falling in love with Elegant Themes which is what I use to this day! Elegant Themes is nice because they offer not just one premium theme but several so you can play around with them for one price. In addition to that, they have some really awesome plugins and their support is next to nothing! I truly doubt I’ll ever move away from Elegant Themes.
Another amazing thing about Elegant Themes is that they have a drag and drop technology that makes building anything super easy. That’s not a feature you’ll find in most other premium themes or in free ones. You can check out their functionality and how the theme operates before purchasing!
Note: I am an affiliate with Elegant Themes which means I will get a commission if you decide to purchase from them at no added cost to you. The affiliate money really helps with my site, so thank you in advance if you decide to use them 🙂
Regardless of which themes you decide to use (free or paid), make sure they are reputable. There are some premium themes which are less reputable, flexible or offer less support than free themes, so do your homework first.
How To Set Up A Free Theme:
To use one of the free WordPress Themes you’ll want to click on the “Appearance” button and then on the “Themes” button.
You’ll then see the WordPress Theme Options which you can choose between. Note: I also have Divi and Extra on my themes list, but you won’t see those on yours as they are Elegant Themes. The WordPress Themes are the ones labeled by year (Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Seventeen).
You can choose whichever theme you want and hit either “live preview” to see how it looks on your site (remember that as you add content and make other fine changes this will change a bit, but you’ll be able to see the general layout). To choose a theme you’ll want to hit the “Activate” button.
Setting Up Elegant Themes:
If you decide to go with Elegant Themes you’ll want to start by going over to their website and downloading the theme. They have a couple of different options. I prefer Divi because it has a lot of functionality and tons of customization options.
Your theme will download as a ZIP folder. Make sure you know where that folder is located on your computer (I like to download mine to the desktop for easy access).
Now, you’ll want to click “Appearance” and then “Themes”
Once on the themes page you’ll want to click “Upload”.
You’ll then see another upload button.
Click it and it will expand allowing you to either browse your files for the Elegant Themes file. Simply add it and hit “Install now”.
Once installed you’ll find it back in your themes. You’ll need to activate it by hovering your mouse over the bottom right corner and clicking “Activate”.
There you have it you’re new theme is installed!
Step 6: Create Content
You’re now ready to add content to your site!
To make your first post hover over the “Post” button in the left sidebar and click “Add New”. You’ll then come to a page that looks like this.
You’ll want to enter a title in the top box, and your content down below in the word processor.
When you’re done writing or posting pictures or videos or adding whatever else scroll down until you see the Publish bar on the right hand side and click “Publish”.
Your first post is now live!