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

Posted in Blogging

Do you want to start a blog, but are feeling insanely overwhelmed with how to get started? 

When I first started up this mama blog in March 2017, I felt exactly the same way. And a bit skeptical, to be honest.

In a world full of “get rich quick working from home” companies, the idea that you could make money writing online seemed far-fetched. But after making $1000s blogging part time in my first year, I can tell you that this is very much the real deal for me. And it can be for you, too.

But do I really have what it takes to be a professional blogger?

I asked myself this question a lot before I took the plunge.

You Can (and Should!) Be a Blogger If…

  • You enjoy writing (Not to be confused with being a “great writer”, which isn’t a requirement.)
  • You love helping others (Professional, money-making blogging is more about your readers than it is about you.)
  • You have access to an internet connection and an internet ready device like a computer, tablet, or smart phone (It doesn’t have to be fancy. I started this blog on an iPhone while breastfeeding my daughter. Whatever device you’re using to read this post should work perfectly to get you started.)

If that sounds like you—great! You have all the basics you need to get started with your own blog.

And the great news? 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.

Ready? Let’s do this!

start a blog

 

How to Start a Blog

A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete Beginners

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

 

 

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:

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

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. 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.

 

 

3. Name Your Blog

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. 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”).

There are only two hosting companies that I’ve used, and they are the only two that I recommend: Bluehost and Siteground. I used Bluehost for my entire first year of blogging, then switched over to Siteground when my traffic increased because their load time is lightning fast.

But honestly?

Both are affordable.

Both have wonderful 24/7 customer support (something you’ll DEFINITELY use when you’re starting out).

Both have a 30-day money back guarantee in case you realize that blogging really isn’t for you.

You really can’t go wrong with either one. However, for brand new bloggers, I would recommend going with Bluehost in the beginning because it will be a little bit cheaper for you.

One big difference between the two is that Bluehost includes a free domain name with their plans. With Siteground, you’ll have to purchase it separately at a place like Namecheap. Which definitely isn’t the end of the world! But if you’re being super scrappy about starting a blog (which I highly recommend doing), Bluehost will save you a bit of cash.

You can compare plans and sign up for Bluehost here, and for Siteground here

 

 

5. 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.

If you’re feeling nervous about this step, just reach out to Bluehost‘s customer support after you sign up for their web hosting and ask them to do it for you. They are always happy to help. 🙂

 

6. 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).

If you ARE made of money and you DO want to purchase a theme, there are some beautiful, affordable options on Etsy (I currently use one from City House Designs).

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 my 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 them. 

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, love! You can do this! You’re a blogger now! 🙂

 


  •  
    1.3K
    Shares
  • 1
  • 1.3K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
June 28, 2017
Previous Post Next Post

48 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
  • Reply Ang

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been struggling to find a way to contribute financially to our household and your post inspired me to try blogging. I’m online all day reading and watching other bloggers and wondering how I can get started.

    October 26, 2017 at 11:44 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      That’s so awesome, Ang! It’s seriously been one of the best decisions I’ve made. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out (kaity@withkidsandcoffee). 😉

      October 28, 2017 at 4:57 pm
  • Reply Priya

    Insightful! Am definitely going to make use of this. Thanks a lot

    December 13, 2017 at 7:35 am
  • Reply Megan

    I just started blogging and it can be really confusing at times, so I’m soaking up all the info I can. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    January 15, 2018 at 2:59 am
  • Reply Nikki Maddox

    I just started blogging in hopes of one day being able to be a stay-at-home mom. Thank you for this post!! I have been so overwhelmed with where to start and what to do next.

    January 25, 2018 at 3:41 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Of course, Nikki! Getting started can be COMPLETELY overwhelming. I’m so glad to hear this helped. 🙂 If you ever have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email (kaity@withkidsandcoffee.com). *Hugs*

      January 27, 2018 at 8:35 pm
  • Reply Sami

    How often would you recommend posting for a new blogger?

    January 26, 2018 at 3:53 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Hi, Sami! Posting 2-3 times a week is a good goal to shoot for when you’re starting out. Getting your site to not look “empty” sooner than later is ideal. You can increase or decrease the number of posts based on your availability, but try to keep a consistent schedule (e.g. posting every other day, every 3 days, etc.) if you can.

      January 27, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Leave a Reply

    You may also like