How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Posted in Blogging

Starting a blog is one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself. I know that sounds like a load of absolute crap, but I’m being serious here, y’all.

I’m completely, head-over-heels in love with being a blogger because:  

  1. It allows me to channel my workaholic tendencies into something that is completely my own.
  2. Instead of building a business that’s limited to a single company or line of products, I get to write about things that I’m truly passionate about—lots of different things!
  3. I no longer have to go to a stressful work environment 5 days a week, which boosted my overall well-being instantly.
  4. It gives me the scheduling flexibility to stay home with our two young daughters (and cut out the insanely high daycare fees we used to have to pay).
  5. I get to take lessons learned from my experiences and share them with others.
  6. I get to be a part of an amazing community of bloggers and fellow moms, which, for someone who is incredibly awkward in person like me, is a complete dream!

…among like 87,000 other reasons. I. Love. Blogging. 

It hasn’t always been that way, though. 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 hell 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?

…etc., etc., etc.

So much self-doubt and hesitation. So many “what if” worries.

Then it hit me—the realization that I really hated being chained to a 9-to-5 job and working around someone else’s schedule. I hated not seeing my babies for 9-10 hours every single day. I hated working my ass off on projects, dreaming up strategies for companies, constantly trying go above and beyond, always trying to make the company better…only to end up receiving a “good job, kid” when it came time to discuss performance—or my salary.

So I decided to try to create a different lifestyle; one that I could really dig into and truly make my own.

Step one was researching work-from-home job options. When I first started researching I started to feel less-than-enthused about my options.

  • Freelance fitness coach
  • Clothing distributer
  • Cosmetics distributer
  • Health supplement distributer

Don’t get me wrong here—there are so many folks (including some of my good friends) who run these types of businesses and absolutely ROCK them. If you come across a brand or a company that genuinely clicks with you, by all means, go for it!

For me, though—a thick and cool-with-my-cheeseburgers kinda gal who could care less about make-up and hates clothes that aren’t black yoga pants and wouldn’t give up my iced coffee habit for anything less than growing small humans—none of the options really felt like “me”.

And then, as fate would have it, I stumbled across the idea of starting a blog during a late night Pinterest-searching session and something just clicked.

I could start a business based around things that I’m personally passionate about.

I could start a business and be home with my little bugs of love, like so many amazing mama bloggers out there.

I could start a business with very little start-up money compared to other businesses (which we’ll talk more about below, because it’s super important if you’re like me and not made of massive amounts of expendable cash).

I could actually do this for real.

So I researched, planned, budgeted, and then started up my very own blog. Every day I wake up and do something that feels like me.

If something in this story sounds familiar to you; if you’re intrigued by the idea of blogging but literally have no clue how to start a blog—no worries! I was the exact same way when I started this adventure, but if have the ability to start a blog—so do you. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You really, truly do.

And I’m here to help you do just that. 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; step-by-step.

 

How to start a blog in 2017

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for details. 

How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete Beginners

 

1. Determine Your Blogging Goal

What do you actually want to do with your blog? The answer to this question will determine what you’ll need to get started.

What it ultimately boils down to is one important question: do you have any interest in ever making money off of your blog? 

If the answer to this question is no, then head on over to Blogger or WordPress.com, set up a basic account, and start blogging your little 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.

But if the answer to this question is yes—if you are interested in making money from your blog at some point—then you’ll want to look into getting a self-hosted blog with a WordPress.org account. (Yes, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two completely different things. This confused the heck out of me when I started blogging, so make sure you read about the differences between the two here if you ever find yourself completely lost.)

A self-hosted site is one that you own and operate. Because you own and operate it, you can monazite it however you’d like to make some extra income.

Most bloggers who make money blogging do so in one or more of these ways:

  1. Advertisements
  2. Affiliate Links
  3. Sponsored Content
  4. Selling a Product

The problem with using WordPress.com or Blogger is that they have really strict and incredibly limited guidelines about how you can and cannot monazite your blog (you can read WordPress.com’s policy here and Blogger’s policy here).

So, my advice to you as a brand new blogger is, if there’s even the slightest chance that you may want to make some extra money at some point from your blog, go with a self-hosted WordPress.org account from the start.

If the thought of starting a self-hosted blog is completely overwhelming right now, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it step-by-step. 😉

 

2. Get Web Hosting

If you’re leaving your options open to making money off of your blog at some point in the future, then having a self-hosted blog is what you want.

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).

When I started my self-hosted blog, I was fortunate enough to stumble on Bluehost at the recommendation of (many, MANY) other seasoned bloggers who were making full time incomes from their blogs.

Bluehost turned out to be the perfect choice for a brand new blogger like me because:

  • Super affordable ($3.95/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.
  • 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, and without having to venture to a separate website (which makes things way more confusing than they have to be, in my opinion).
  • They have 24/7 customer support, which—believe me—I started utilizing pretty much on day one. I consider myself to be a little bit tech-savvy, but setting up a self-hosted blog is something that I had absolutely no experience with, which lead to lots and lots and LOTS of questions. The customer support folks at Bluehost were super patient and helpful through the whole ordeal, which made getting of the ground so much less stressful than I thought it would be.

 

3. Select Your Domain Name

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your blog will take place before you even start blogging: the name.

There are technically two different “names” associate with your blog: a blog name and a domain name.

blog name is the name of your blog. For example, the name of my blog is With Kids and Coffee.

domain name is the name of your website. My domain name is withkidsandcoffee.com.

For professional bloggers (aka, those who are hoping to turn their blog or affiliated social media accounts into a profitable, money-making venture at some point), you really want the blog name and the domain name to be the same thing.

So how do you make that happen? 

If you have absolutely no earthly idea where to start, no worries! You can read my complete strategy on picking the perfect name for your blog here.

The basic steps of towards choosing a domain name are: 

  1. Determine your niche (what you want to blog about; who are you blogging for)
  2. Brainstorm blog names (the brainstorming technique that I used to name my blog is outlined here, under Step #2)
  3. Keep SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind (outlined in more detail here, under Step #3).
  4. 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!

 

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.

If you’re starting a self-hosted blog (which, if you’re getting hosting from Bluehost, you are), then WordPress.org is your spot.

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 kickass 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:

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).

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 kick-ass 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 read over some of my early blog posts and cringe over what I thought would make for a great post.

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! It’s what you do. 😉

 

Stay fearless,

Kaity

 

P.S. If you’ve started up your own blog and aren’t quite sure where to go next, check out my Mama Blog Audit here. (And don’t let the name fool you—non-mamas are 100% welcome, too. ;))


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June 28, 2017
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40 Comments

  • Reply Staci

    Starting a blog for me was definitely nerve wracking! I learn more each and every day and am finally starting to love it!

    June 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Girl, same. 🙂 It’s such a process—and you DEFINITELY learn more and more the longer you stick with it.

      June 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm
  • Reply Karen

    I am a newbie blogger and I found this so educational! Thank you! every day i learn something new

    June 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Yay, I’m so glad to hear that, Karen! If you ever have any questions, never hesitate to reach out. Happy the help as much as I can. 😉

      June 29, 2017 at 1:26 am
  • Reply Katie Bressler

    This is so well written thank you Kaity! Anyone thinking about blogging needs a guide like this. I was really intimidated to start my blog, but I just started a few months back and it has been a wonderful journey so far. I want to be able to not work outside the home anymore, stay at home with my little one, & enjoy more time with my husband, so I hope (and know!) blogging can take me there. Reading this encourages me to keep work hard. THANK YOU! CONGRATS on your Liebster Award as well!

    June 29, 2017 at 12:18 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Thank you so much, Katie! I completely confused myself when I started my blog—trying to help other bloggers avoid some of the set up confusion because once you start blogging…it’s awesome! Especially when you find a great community of fellow mom bloggers who all have similar goals for support. 🙂

      June 29, 2017 at 1:28 am
  • Reply Dawn | Twenty63

    Great tips for someone starting out! The hardest part for me was picking my domain name. I love the community blogging brings and how it gives me a voice outside of my normal every day life. I learn something new all the time, I love that it is ever changing! Great post.

    June 29, 2017 at 1:06 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Deciding on the domain name was super hard for me, too, lady friend. Some people seem to just know what they want it to be…and then there are others like us who just can’t decide. 😉 And I agree with you 100% about all of the great things blogging brings to your life. The sense of community is definitely a favorite of mine. Xoxo.

      June 29, 2017 at 1:30 am
  • Reply Kori Evans

    I am 3 months into blogging. I know I need to have patience, but I so want to be able to quit my 9-5 as soon as possible!!!! Fantastic read, and thank you for all the information from a newbie!!

    June 29, 2017 at 1:40 am
    • Reply Kaity

      It’s definitely something that takes a little bit of time to build…mostly for the content writing you need to do before you really look like a functional website that’s updated regularly. Just keep learning, tweaking, writing, and going, mama! *hugs* 🙂

      June 29, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  • Reply Julia

    I wish I read this a year ago! I did exactly what you said not to do and I started on WordPress with Bluehost. I’ve tried to switch over to .org and I even called WordPress and the women on the other line had no clue what I was saying…. maybe I should call Bluehost next. Was it as hard as it seems to be, lol?

    June 29, 2017 at 2:26 am
    • Reply Kaity

      I’m actually in the middle of writin a blog post about the migration from WordPress.com to WordPress.org because tons of people apparently make this mistake. A lot of which customer service you call will depend on where you got your domain name from. In my case, I got my domain name (withkidsandcoffee.com) free from Bluehost when I signed up for their account. This means that my Name Servers are controlled through Bluehost. I had to call Bluehost, tell them that “My Name Servers for withkidsandcoffee.com are currently pointing at WordPress.com. I’d like them to point to WordPress.org instead. Can you help me make the switch, and assist me with the one-click install?” It took less that a minute for them to do this. The hard part was figuring out what I needed to ask for. 🙂 Hope this helps!

      June 29, 2017 at 5:10 pm
  • Reply Laure White

    These are some fantastic tips — one of the tips I always try to keep in mind is to blog from the heart. As a blogger, sometimes we get wrapped up on sponsored posts/ads for money but I never ever started my blog to make money.

    June 29, 2017 at 2:43 am
    • Reply Kaity

      It’s SO true. The income/products are nice, especially if you are selective and only work with brands that you love…but there is so much more to blogging than money. Xoxo.

      June 29, 2017 at 5:11 pm
  • Reply Shannon | Mom Without Labels

    This will be such a great resource for new bloggers! And, I agree with all of the reasons you love blogging; they’re the same for me!

    June 29, 2017 at 3:39 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Thanks so much, Shannon! Isn’t it amazing getting to do something that we actually love? 🙂

      June 29, 2017 at 5:12 pm
  • Reply Chelsea Padgett

    Great tips. Been through them all. I wish I had more written ahead of time!

    June 29, 2017 at 3:48 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Thanks, Chelsea! Getting ahead with writing is such a challenge! I finally got two posts ahead and even that is making a huge difference. Trying. To get more ahead (when I actually have the time :)).

      June 29, 2017 at 5:17 pm
  • Reply Farrah Lynn Albertie

    I wish I handle simple instructions like this when I was started a blog.

    June 29, 2017 at 3:59 am
    • Reply Kaity

      So do I—would have been a huge time-saver. Hopefully it will help some new bloggers avoid some of my silly mistakes. 😉

      June 29, 2017 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Rhonda

    Great tips! I’m new to blogging and trying to soak up as much as I can. Just like you, I LOVE LOVE blogging and really want to get it up and running. I think eventually I will check out self-hosting if I’m planning to expand

    June 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Jenni Petrey

    These are really great tips, I wish I had seen a list like this prior to starting my blog, would have made it a whole lot easier. I love blogging and I love that I’ve been able to connect with people that I ordinarily wouldn’t have met in day to day life.

    June 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Michele

    Starting a new blog is challenging but rewarding! I’m still fairly new and I love what I do now! You have some really great pointers, especially about bending self hosted. That is so important. Great read!

    June 29, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Natasha

    This is a really handy guide. So many people do not know where to start and it can be tough in the beginning.

    June 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm
  • Reply Lindsey

    I definitely wish I had read this post before starting my blog!! It lays it out so clearly! I’m still figuring out how to work my blog!

    June 29, 2017 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Kanani Stone

    This was a pretty thorough guide to getting started. I think by the end of it, it had me rethinking if I set up my own blog right! LOL

    June 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Jasmine Hewitt

    you have some really good tips for beginners!

    June 29, 2017 at 10:22 pm
  • Reply Emmanuelle Paquet

    I would have liked to have this post when I first started my blog! I took me a while to know exactly what I needed to do and how to do it!

    June 29, 2017 at 11:44 pm
  • Reply Candace Rusling

    This is a great overview of starting a blog! I’m only three months into my blogging journey and can’t wait to build my community.

    June 30, 2017 at 3:27 am
  • Reply Emma Jones

    It’s a big step to start but oh so worth it!

    June 30, 2017 at 8:13 am
  • Reply Tiara Wilson

    I love these tips. Blogging is not easy and sometimes it’s seen as so scary, but it’s not. It’s just keeping up with the blog that sometimes can be a little difficult.

    June 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply kat

    starting my blog was a bit stressful but I’m glad I done it and got through the starting it part

    July 1, 2017 at 2:24 am
  • Reply ChrissyAdventures

    This is a wonderful step-by-step God. A friend on Facebook just ask this question this morning! I’m going to share your post with her.

    July 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  • Reply Toughcookiemommy

    It’s so important to blog about topics that you feel passionate about. That is the only way to truly connect to and engage with your readers. That is the authenticity that they are looking for.

    July 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm
  • Reply Nicola

    Some great points here that will be really helpful to a newbie or wannabe blogger. One day I look forward to giving up my job and blogging full time…getting the balance right is the hardest thing!

    July 12, 2017 at 10:03 pm
  • Reply Allison R Lancaster

    These are great tips! I started my blog after I had my son and had no idea where to start. I wish I had this post then, so many great resources and tips!

    July 13, 2017 at 12:49 am
  • Reply Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh

    These are all great tips! I started blogging years and years ago when mommy blogging was the big thing. I had a blogspot.com blog and everything. Ha! I learned a ton then, but then stepped back because I was not in the right niche. Mommy bloggers tend to become more of a huge advertisment, and I didn’t feel like that was me. I started back back a few years ago food blogging. WordPress, with Bluehost, with my very own domain. It’s been a huge learning curve coming from those good ol mommy blogging days.

    July 13, 2017 at 1:51 am
  • Reply Terri Steffes

    I am a blogger blogger and haven’t had any issues monetizing my blog. However, if your experiences were different than mine, then there’s that! I have a friend who is a Blogger blogger, too, and makes 20K a month monetizing. I hope I am in that category one day!

    July 13, 2017 at 2:10 am
  • Reply Kirsten

    Taking the plunge to start a blog can be so exciting, yet so overwhelming! You have such great information here really anyone – both newbies and seasoned bloggers alike!

    July 13, 2017 at 5:36 am
  • Reply Anvita

    This is a good post for anybody starting a blog. if one isn’t prepared or hasn’t planned it can be daunting. I have been blogging for years but technology keeps changing, once you have established yourself then it;s all about adapting and trying new things

    July 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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