I’m a full-time blogger who started on this journey for one very simple reason: to help support my family financially. And, to my total surprise…I’m actually doing just that.
And…I’ll be completely honest here, y’all.
When I first started out on this journey, I was skeptical and nervous. But mostly skeptical.
The idea of being able to write from home and actually make money just sounded like a total fairy tale. And in today’s climate where Multi-Level Marketing companies and “get rich quick!” schemes are everywhere…I had my serious, serious doubts.
On top of that…I was intimidated.
As a millennial, some basic tech-savvy-ness comes hardwired in my DNA of course, but running my own blog? My own website? CODING?! That all seemed way over my head in the beginning.
But, y’all? It turns out it’s actually not all that complicated. And it also turns out that leaning into the discomfort and starting my own blog is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I freakin’ love it. I love the writing. I love the blogging community. I love improving the quality of the internet with genuine stuff. (And yes, I love that extra income every month.)
But enough about me. Let’s talk about you, love. If you’re interested in starting your own blogging journey, you’re in the right spot
It’s surprisingly 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, 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 want to make money from blogging?
No, I don’t want to make money from blogging.
This will be easy peasy for you. Head on over to Blogger or WordPress.com, set up a free account, and start blogging your heart out. That’s literally all you need to do. 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).
Yes, I would like to make money from blogging.
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.)
Wait, but how exactly do I make money blogging?
Most bloggers make money in four different ways:
Some just monetize in one of these ways, and some with a combination of more than one.
You can do all of these things on a self-hosted blog. Which is why, if your goal is to make money…self-hosted is your route.
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. It’s a bit of a pain to switch over down the road.
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.
You’ll get a free domain name! Some other hosting services have similar per-month pricing (Siteground, for example), but you’ll have to purchase a domain name separately at a place like Namecheap. 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 Niche and Domain Name
Determine your niche
A blogging niche is essentially what you blog about. You’ll want to make sure that you pick a niche that you’re passionate about, and one that has a good shot at being profitable.
If you need help locking down a niche, you can follow my how-to guide here.
Pick a Domain Name
Once you’ve locked down your niche, it’s time to name that blog! Picking a blog name can be one of the most stressful parts of starting a blog, but it doesn’t have to be. You can follow my 3-step guide to picking the perfect blog name here.
If you already have a name in mind, you can check on availability using the little widget below.
Just make sure that you only register for a domain name that ends in .com. More credible.
And if you’re taken to a site and asked to pay more money for the domain, it means that someone has already purchased it and is trying to make you buy it for a higher price point. Don’t do this. Just go back and search for another name. If you feel stuck, follow these instructions.
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).
You could also go with the mother of all WordPress themes—the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. Currently the most popular premium WordPress theme in the world, Divi has an amazing drag-and-drop option that makes customizing your blog an absolute breeze. It’s pricy, so I wouldn’t recommend starting off with Divi (unless you’re rolling in all of the cash), but definitely worth keeping in mind for down the road.
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.
3. Grab the Right Tools
Once you’ve got everything set up, you’ll want to grab the right tools. Head on over to our Ultimate Bloggers Resource Guide for recommendations on free stock photography, free graphic design tools, the best plug ins to use, how to get started with social media, how to start your email list, and more!
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! 🙂
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: