Starting a blog is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself. I know that sounds like a load of absolute crap, but I’m being serious here, y’all.
I. Love. Blogging.
So before I dive into the step-by-step tutorial breaking down how you can start your own blog, I want to give you a little bit of backstory on my journey as a blogger so far and how I got here.
The Hesitation Before Starting a Blog
Before taking the plunge and starting a blog, I remember being incredibly nervous about the idea of putting my voice—and myself—out there in the universe.
Why would anyone listen to me?
What the heck am I going to talk about?
Is anyone even going to read this stuff?
What if no one reads this stuff?
What if I look ridiculous?
What if I fail and everyone knows it?
…etc., etc., etc.
So much self-doubt and hesitation. So many “what if” worries.
The “Ah-Ha” Moment
After running through the list of worries and what-ifs, it hit me.
I really hated being chained to a 9-to-5 job and working around someone else’s schedule.
I hated feeling under appreciated and being under paid for the amount of work and effort I put in each day at the office.
I hated feeling completely burnt out all the time and having no energy at the end of each day.
And most of all…I hated not seeing my kids for 9-10 hours every single day while I was at work.
I knew that my situation wouldn’t change unless I changed something.
So I decided to take a chance and try to create a different lifestyle—one that actually works myself and for our family.
Life—and Income—as a Blogger
After a few months of hard work (most of which I did from an iPhone while breastfeeding my daughter), I’ve been able to make my blog profitable. I’ve been able to start contributing real money to our family again—this time from home, part time, on my own schedule.
Am I making thousands of dollars a month right now? No. I like to be fully honest about that right up front. While working very part-time (10-15 hours a week tops), I made $205.75 in July 2017 (my first month of monetizing my blog), $386.22 in August 2017, $1,758.20 in September 2017, and my income is continuing to grow steadily.
Those numbers may not mean much to some people, but to our family they make a difference.
That’s a bill or two that’s paid from blogging.
That’s extra money to put towards our debt.
That’s like a 10th of my weekly coffee budget covered.
(Kidding about that last one.)
But you get what I’m saying here. It’s enough to make an impact—and I’m only a few months in.
I’m so excited to see where this journey goes, but honestly, if it it stayed right where it is—it would be still be worth it.
Oh, and a nice bonus? I wake up every day and get to do something that feels like me. That’s something that I’ve never experienced, and let me tell you—it’s freakin’ fabulous.
Blogging + You
If something in this story feels familiar or sounds intriguing, blogging may just be for you.
And you know what? It’s shockingly easy to start your own blog from scratch, even if you’re not a tech person (I’m not), and even if you know absolutely nothing about blogging (I didn’t).
And I’m here to help you do just that. Walk you through setting up your own blog step-by-step.
So go ahead and grab yourself a mug of fresh coffee or a hot cup of tea (or hell …a big ol’ glass of wine, if you’re able to), take a deep breath (innn….and ouuuut), and let’s walk through how to start a blog together.
How to Start a Blog
A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete Beginners
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1. Determine Your Blogging Goal
There’s one important question all bloggers need to ask themselves at the beginning of their blogging journey: do you have interest in ever making money blogging?
If the answer to this question is no, then head on over to Blogger or WordPress.com, set up a free account, and start blogging your heart out. Both of those platforms are perfect if you’re interested in starting a journal-style blog that documents your day-to-day activities, and is primarily shared with only friends and family members.
Why can’t you make money with WordPress.com or Blogger accounts? They have really strict and incredibly limited guidelines about how you can and cannot monetize your blog (you can read WordPress.com’s policy here and Blogger’s policy here).
If the answer to this question is yes—if you are interested in making money from your blog—then you’ll want to look into setting up a self-hosted blog with a WordPress.org account.
A self-hosted site is one that you own and operate. Because you own and operate it, you can monetize it however you’d like.
(Quick side note: WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different things. This confused me a lot in the beginning. If you ever find yourself confused, just use this breakdown that I’ve put together that outlines the differences between the two.)
Most bloggers make money blogging with:
You can do all of these things on a self-hosted blog.
My number one piece of advice to you as a brand new blogger is this: if there’s even the slightest chance that you may want to make money from your blog, go with a self-hosted WordPress.org account from the start.
2. Get Web Hosting
Once you make the decision to go with a self-hosted blog, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a web host (aka, the folks who “put your blog on the internet”, in simplest terms).
I’ve used Bluehost from the start, at the recommendation of (many, MANY) other bloggers—and I freakin’ love them!
Bluehost turned out to be the perfect web host for a brand new blogger like me because:
It’s super affordable at under $4/month (if you sign up using this link). If you go with Bluehost, this is the only money that you’ll absolutely have to spend to get started blogging. (For reference, I personally went with the basic plan, no add-ons, and prepaid for two years. I wish I had prepaid for three years and gotten the slightly lower price point. This was literally the only blog-related purchase I made for the first few months of my blog—everything else can be done with free services until you’re profitable.)
You’ll get a free domain name! Some other hosting services have similar per-month pricing, but you’ll have to purchase a domain name separately. With Bluehost, you can easily pick and register your domain name at no additional cost, without having to venture to a separate website and pay an additional fee.
They have 24/7 customer support, which I started utilizing pretty much on day one. Since I’m not a techy gal and knew nothing about starting a self-hosted blog, I had about a million questions. The customer support folks at Bluehost were super patient and helpful through the whole ordeal, which made getting my blog of the ground a synch.
I’ve been so happy with my Bluehost experience and cannot recommend them enough for bloggers who are just starting out. You can learn more about their plans and sign up here.
3. Select Your Domain Name
Once you decide on a web host, you’ll need to pick a domain name for your blog. A domain name is the name of your website. (For example, my domain name is withkidsandcoffee.com.)
The basic steps of towards choosing a domain name are:
Determine your niche (what you want to blog about; who are you blogging for)
Brainstorm blog names (the brainstorming technique that I used to name my blog is outlined here, under Step #2)
Keep SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind (outlined in more detail here, under Step #3).
Check for Availability, which you can do with the little widget below. Make sure you only register for a domain name that ends in .com!
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, follow my in-depth breakdown of how to pick a perfect domain name here.
4. Connect Your Web Hosting With WordPress.org
Re-read that header again, real quick. Notice that it says WordPress.org. Not WordPress.com. As confusing as it may be, WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two completely different things, for different types of blogging.
I made the mistake of connecting a WordPress.com account to Bluehost and blogged for over a month before I realized what I had done. I then had to go through the ordeal of migrating everything from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
Thankfully, both WordPress and Bluehost have wonderful customer support and they were able to walk me through everything…but do yourself a favor and set up your blog correctly from the start.
5. Build Your Blog!
Whoo hoo! You are now the proud owner of your very own self-hosted blog! Not so terrible, right?
Now that you’re all set up, you get to start on the fun part: customizing your blog so that it looks and functions just the way you like it.
There are tons and tons of things that you can do to make your blog your own, but start with the basics:
1. Pick a Theme
One awesome thing about having a self-hosted WordPress.org site is that you have access to a ton of really great blog themes to choose from. This isn’t WordPress.com where you can pick from a small handful of themes; WordPress.org lets you choose from thousands.
When picking a theme you’ll want to:
Go with something that looks clean, not cluttered
Pick a theme with a white background (unless you’re a designer and can make a colored background really work)
Don’t feel obligated to purchase a theme when you’re starting off
That last point is super important to note. While you absolutely can purchase a theme right from the start if you’re made of money and you want to, I’d recommend holding off. There are plenty of simple, beautiful, and free themes for you to use that will work perfectly as you start your blogging journey (Kale, Anissa, and Juliet are all great options).
2. Set Up The Essential Pages
There are two pages that you’ll want to set up on your blog as soon as possible: Contact and About.
Contact is super important for a pretty obvious reason: you want people to be able to reach out to you!
About is also important because it will help readers see you as the real human being blogger that you are, instead of just a faceless internet site that they happen to come across.
That’s pretty much all you have to do at the very beginning. You can mess around with plugins and more customization if you’d like, or you can do that a little further down the road like I did. Either way is complete fine.
6. Write, Write, Write!
Once you have your blog set up, it’s time to get to work creating some original content!
When you’re starting off, try really hard to not overthink it and just write.
The more you write, the more you’ll figure out what you really love blogging about and what you don’t.
All bloggers have mediocre (or just downright awful) posts from time to time, especially in the beginning. I certainly have. I recently read over some of my early blog posts and cringe over some of it.
But you know what? It’s all good. It’s a process. I learned a lot from writing those posts, and the lessons I learned have fueled me forward.
So write, write, write, lovely! You can do this! You’re a blogger now! It’s what you do. 😉
Okay, I’ve “Started a Blog”…now what??
Now that you’ve got the basics set up, build your blog and your brand with these great resources: