How to Start a Blog

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Learn how to start a blog with our free tech training. It’s quick (less than 15 minutes) and step-by-step and covers signing up for a web host and domain name and how to install self-hosted WordPress (DEFINITELY what you want to use!) so you can start a blog.

This page contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you purchase through us (at no additional cost). 🙂

How to Start a Blog

It’s hard to explain the rush of starting a business.

There’s the idea phase. It’s like being in the honeymoon phase. Out of nowhere some golden idea will just smack you across the face, screaming, “Pay attention to me!” and once it takes hold, there’s no letting go of you.

And then there’s the long slog in the middle. Sometimes it can feel like you’re running a race with no end in sight and you’re not even in the lead. It’s hard, but when you get to the finish line, it’s worth it.

When you make your first sale, it’s worth it. When you get your first customer, all the sleepless nights and long hours and endless cups of coffee are all worth it.

But you never could have gotten there if you hadn’t started. If you had told yourself that maybe you’d work on this idea or start this business “in the future” or “another day.” Any day but today.

But tomorrow never comes, because every day is today. Today is the day to get started. Today is the day to start working toward your dreams. Today is the day to start your business.

Don’t let fear and self-doubt get in the way. When that nagging little voice in your ear tells you that you’re not good enough and that there are already a million people out there doing what you want to do, tell it to shush. You are unique and you can contribute your gifts to the world in a way that no one else can. Believe in yourself.

And just start.

—-

“Do you really think I can do it? All this tech stuff? Can I really make my own website?”

I often hear this from potential customers and around the web in general. Here’s my response:

YES. YES YOU CAN.

(did we get a little too 2008 up in here?)

Here’s the thing. Even though I do web design for a living, I totally make mistakes. I may be a professional, but I get confused too. And frustrated with technology. ALL THE TIME. I mess up. I break things. Websites are messy.

This whole website and technology thing can be miserable, hair-pulling, and tear-worthy.

That pounding headache you have from trying to hack together a DIY website for the last five hours (or more like, two months)? You’re not alone.

I know because I’ve been there.

I literally cried my way through learning how to code. And making my first website. And learning WordPress and programs like Photoshop. (Are you sensing a pattern? :))

I remember the first time I really screwed up a website – five years of hard work and blogging, gone in an instant. Ouch. It took me an entire month to fix it. It still hurts to think about it.

But I did it. I did it.

And I learned.

And when other problems came up? I kept learning.

And I never gave up.

I know it’s hard right now. And everything sucks. And maybe your business isn’t really where you thought it would be by now (or maybe not even close). And you don’t have the money to invest in a web designer, or you wouldn’t be trying to do this yourself, amiright?

You would give anything (well, maybe not your new kitten) for someone who’s been there to take you by the hand and say,

“Here. Here’s what you need to do to get your website up. Here’s what you need to learn, and here are the steps you need to take to make this happen.”

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Well, your dream just came true (hooray!).

You can do this.

You can figure out technology.

You can learn ALL of this.

Just keep going.

Take risks.

And never stop learning.

If you want to learn how to start a WordPress blog in under an hour, this tutorial is for you. 🙂

(Don’t know what to blog about?): How to Choose a Blog Niche

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in thinking that your website has to be perfect or amazing or whatever but the important thing is that it gets DONE. It’s time to let go of any ideas you have about your website having to be absolutely perfect the first time around – you can make as many changes as you want in the future if you know how this website stuff works! So this free step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to get a quick-and-dirty website up in under an hour.

How to Start a Blog

Welcome to the beginning of your new website! This section is all about setting up your website, getting WordPress configured, and actually getting your business online.   Exciting stuff! Before we can start building the cool stuff, we have to take care of some boring setup things first, like buying a domain name and web hosting.

The general process to get a website up is to get a domain name, or the address of your site (like https://www.katieharpcreative.com), and then get website hosting to store all your stuff, kind of like having an address for your house (the domain) and then the actual building (where everything is stored) is the web hosting.

Here are the steps we’ll be going through:

1. Get a domain name
2. Get web hosting
3. Connect the two, if necessary
4. Install WordPress (WordPress isn’t the only option for making a website, it’s just a particular content management, or blogging, system. You can actually code an entire website from scratch if you want to! …. but we won’t ;))
4. Start creating the content of your website

Homepage of Bluehost

Head over to Bluehost. (affiliate link)  I recommend Bluehost because they’re reliable and were super friendly and helpful when I transferred several websites to them from my old host.

Click here to sign up with Bluehost to start your blog! (affiliate)

With my old host, I ended up having a high CPU problem because my websites started getting a lot more traffic, so when I moved to Bluehost, I decided to go with one of their cloud hosting plans (under Products- Cloud Sites- Performance plan) because you can easily scale up your speed, bandwidth, etc, as your blog grows and it’s much more affordable than competitors offering solutions for growing blogs.  If you’re worried that you’ll “outgrow” Bluehost and have to transfer to an expensive (read: $100 a month) host later on when your blog gets bigger, try their cloud hosting plan instead. 🙂

Click on the big green Get Started Now button on the home page (or go to their cloud hosting page).  Now you’ll be on their Select Your Plan page.  I would recommend the middle “plus” plan because it lets you have unlimited websites hosted on one account.   If you’re like me, you might have a ton of different ideas and it’s great that you’re not limited to just one website. 🙂  Click on the green Select button under the plan you want.

Bluehost selecting a plan

On the next page, you have the option to either register a new domain name or use an existing domain name if you’ve already purchased one elsewhere.  Enter your info and keep going.

Bluehost new domain or existing domain

Once you choose a domain name, you can enter your contact and billing info on the next page.

Next you can choose how many years of hosting you want to purchase.  Thirty-six months is the best deal, but if you’re trying Bluehost for the first time, you might want to do the 12 month option so you can see how you like it. 🙂

At the bottom of the screen, you have some options for add-ons.  If you register your domain name through Bluehost, I would recommend the Domain Privacy Protection so people can’t look up your personal contact info if they look up who owns your domain name, and the automatic site backups with Site Backup Pro.  As someone with butter fingers on my websites, I love having the peace of mind of having daily backups made of every file on all of my websites automatically.

Bluehost account information

Enter your payment information.

Bluehost payment information

Now submit everything.

You’ll also need to create a password for your new account.

Bluehost choosing a password
Create your password page

Keep going.

Congratulations screen

Next!

Once you’re all set up, login to your web hosting account with Bluehost.

They make it easy to install and set up WordPress. 🙂

Pink a WordPress theme on Bluehost

Choose a WordPress theme that you like (you can change this later). 

Keep going.

Done choosing a theme

You’ve set up WordPress!  If you’re planning on monetizing your site, you will probably want to choose Business for the kind of site you’re starting.

Welcome to WordPress screen

Now you have a few options for what to do next on your WordPress dashboard.  If you want to get started right away, you can launch your site (otherwise you’ll just have a Coming Soon screen on your site).

Wordpress dashboard screen

Choose a site title and description.

Let’s launch your new website
Welcome screen of Bluehost

Yay, you did it!  Now on your Bluehost account you can log into your WordPress dashboard or see the other options on your hosting account, such as creating other websites or domains, setting up email accounts, getting customer support, and more.

Hooray, you did it! You just started a blog! 😀

Now what?… WORDPRESS 101:

Welcome to WordPress 101! If you’ve never used WordPress before (or even if you’ve used it a little), don’t worry because I’m going to explain EVERYTHING. By the end of this lesson you’ll be familiar with all the in’s and out’s of navigating your new WordPress website.

WordPress is a content management, or blogging, system that not only lets you blog, but is also powerful enough to manage your entire site. It works great out of the box, but it can also be highly customized with your own themes, plugins, widgets, and settings.

Sooo, let’s take a little tour around all the features of WordPress.

Dashboard

Your dashboard is the main page you land on when you log in to your WordPress blog.

There are links to functions like creating a new blog post, checking your stats if you have a plugin for that, etc. You can also add plugins to improve the functionality of your dashboard, such as displaying your Google Analytics here.

You can also see how your posts are doing and if there are new comments for you to moderate, and other general WordPress news.

Posts

This is the page where you write all your blog posts! Once you’ve created some posts you’ll see them listed here, but for now you’ll probably just see a generic “Hello World” post.

To create a new blog post, just click on Add New. On this next screen you can add a title for your post and write your actual post in the giant box. In the Publish section you have the option to save your post as a draft that only you see or published publicly, and you can schedule posts for a certain date.

You’ll also notice a toolbar at the top of the giant text box, and this is how you can style your posts. The b is for bolding your text, the i for italics, the link button to create a link, img to insert an image, and so on. You also have the option to use the visual editor or the text editor. I actually usually have the visual editor disabled (in the Writing settings) because switching between the visual and text editors can sometimes mess up custom code in your posts if you’re using any of that.

You can use the categories to separate your posts into pre-defined categories (the link to Categories is found in the sidebar). Tags are another way to organize your posts, and you can have several descriptive tags per post (well, you can also have multiple categories for a post, but usually just one or two). There’s also an option to add a featured image which will show as a post thumbnail (but only on certain themes).

Pages

Pages are similar to Posts but are a more static, permanent way to display your information. Posts are usually for content that is added on a regular basis, such as weekly blog posts, while pages are for content that “stays put” like an About page or sales page. Of course, you can still edit and schedule them like posts, but they’re just a different way to add content to your site.

To add a new page just click on Add New. From here you can see that pages look very similar, if not identical, to posts, and have the same boxes for adding a title and content. However, pages are a little different in how they are categorized because they don’t use the regular post categories or tags and instead you can organize and nest your pages within each other and have “parent” pages for more general pages and specific “child” pages under them.

Media

Media is how you add files and images to your site and posts. You can access Media in the sidebar to see your library of files or you can add a file/photo directly to a page or post by using the ‘img’ button or Add Media link in the toolbar above the post box.

When you click on Add New, you can upload files from your computer and onto your website. If you upload something to your media library, you can get the address or URL by clicking on the edit link next to the information of the file you just uploaded, then copying the File URL from the right side. Or click on the name of the image in your library and then copy the URL on the right. You can use this URL for things like linking to a PDF that you use as a free opt-in offer on your thank you page.

Comments

Comments are where you can approve or delete comments from your blog posts. I’d recommend activating and setting up Akismet on your blog (already installed automatically with WordPress, but needs to be activated) to catch the spam comments.

Appearance

Appearance is where you can manage your theme, widgets, menus, and some other options to customize the look of your site. In the next section we’ll be going over themes in depth and widgets as well. You can install and add new themes here or add widgets to your sidebar/other areas for added functionality like social media icons or a Recent Posts section.

If you have pages on your site, I’d recommend setting up a menu so your visitors can actually navigate around your site.  You can add links to your menu from pages, categories, and more.  All you do is check the boxes next to the links you want to add them, click Add to Menu, save the menu, then go to Manage Locations and assign your menu to a theme location (the actual location of the menu depends on your theme).

Plugins

Plugins are extra tools you can install on WordPress to add more functionality to your site. One plugin I’d recommend getting up sooner rather than later is called Akismet, and it comes automatically installed on WordPress but you still have to go through the free activation process to get an API key to use.

Tools

Tools are there for importing or exporting your site. You can backup your posts by exporting your site, or transfer content between sites by exporting one site and importing it into another.

Settings

Settings are how you can change the settings of WordPress in general (WHAT?) and where many of the settings for plugins you install will go. For the time being I would recommend going into Permalinks and changing your links to this more search engine-friendly custom URL structure:

/%category%/%postname%/

OR with only the post name and without the category section.

Unless you’re running a membership site or want to have several different post writers on your site, make sure people can’t register for your site, otherwise you’re opening yourself up to spammers and hackers. Finally, you can change the time zone and date to make sure it matches up to yours so posts will be scheduled accurately.

Learn more about blogging…

Guide to Starting a New Blog
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Hello there! My name's Katie and I help bloggers and online entrepreneurs market their businesses and grow their audiences. Keep reading...

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