If you want to know how to start a blog, this post will provide you with an easy step-by-step guide. Whether you want to promote your business, work from home, or simply share your thoughts, starting a blog is a great idea.
I had been running a Blogspot blog for about 2 years when I decided to start a new self-hosted WordPress blog from scratch. Like most beginners I didn’t know where to get started and it felt like I didn’t have the required technological skills. After months of reading, researching and thinking I finally created Cat Lady Confidential.
So I decided to write this illustrated step-by-step guide to help other beginners like me start their own blog without wasting precious time.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
What you’ll get from this guide
After following the instructions on this guide, you’ll have your own self-hosted WordPress blog. Ready?
THE 3 STEPS TO STARTING A BLOG:
- Purchasing domain name and hosting
- Installing WordPress
- Making it pretty with a theme
1. DOMAIN NAME AND HOSTING
The first step is to find a host. Start by heading over to Bluehost. I’ve only been a costumer for about one year (since I started this blog), but so far I’m very satisfied with their company. Once on their site, click the green Get Started Now button.
Then you’ll be asked to choose your plan level. For beginners I’d suggest the Basic Plan, which is paid in one lump sum instead of monthly, saving you quite a bit of cash (that’s the plan I’ve chosen). You can upgrade at any time. Note that all plans come with one free domain which is great.
Next you need to choose your domain name and check its availability. A domain name is a web address. For example, catladyconfidential.com is my domain.
Before choosing a domain name you should brainstorm as many different ideas as possible – a domain name should be short, easy to remember, easy to type and it should include your keywords.
Once you thought of some possible names, check to see if your domain name is available by entering it in this box:
Next you need to enter your account information and choose your package information settings. Make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent.
Below is a screenshot of what I use for package information settings.
Next you have to fill in your billing information, confirm that you’ve read the Terms of Service and then click Submit. Continue on to finish your purchase. You’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades. If you don’t just skip them.
After completing your purchase you need to check your e-mail. Bluehost will send you a welcome e-mail with your control panel (cpanel) login info. Make sure you save this information for future reference.
Now you’ll need to go through the process of installing WordPress on your new site…
2. INSTALLING WORDPRESS
Once you’ve completed registration with Bluehost you’ll need to install WordPress. WordPress is a super easy to use blogging software. It’s the software that I use for Cat Lady Confidential.
So, login to Bluehost with your credentials (alternatively, you can use the link to your cpanel contained in the welcome email you received above). Then scroll down the page until you find the Website section and then select Install WordPress:
On the next page click the Install button in the Do it yourself (FREE) section:
Leave the directory field blank and click the Check Domain button.
Next check the terms and conditions box and then click the Install Now button.
After you get the message that says Your install is complete! You need to click on the View Credentials button and write down your Admin URL, Username, and Password.
This information will also be sent to you via email.
So, to recap, by now, you’ll have received two emails from Bluehost:
- The first is the login info for your hosting account.
- The second is the login info for your WordPress account.
You should keep both, although from this point on, you’ll be using your WordPress login information much more frequently.
Next, type your Admin URL into your browser. You’ll see a login screen like the one below. Enter your Username and Password you copied down from the previous step.
You are now the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site. Congratulations!
3. MAKING IT PRETTY WITH A THEME
Now you’re minutes away from publishing your first post for the whole world to read. Before you start writing your post, you need to install a WordPress theme. There are tons of free WordPress themes to pick from. You can scan through the options here.
If you’re looking for a premium theme, check out these options:
- The Genesis Framework – This is the current framework I’m using with Cat Lady Confidential. This is not a theme but a basis that provides a secure and search-engine-optimized foundation for your blog. Then you can install a theme on top of it. I really recommend installing the Genesis framework so that your website is optimized for SEO.
- Premium WordPress Themes from Studiopress – a great selection of easy to use themes, with quite a few different options. I’m using the Lifestyle Pro Theme.
If you can’t afford a premium theme, you can always choose a free one. Twenty Fifteen, Responsive and Customizr are some of the most popular ones.
For the purpose of this step-by-step tutorial I’ll be showing you how to install a free theme, like Twenty Fifteen. So, after you log in into your WordPress Admin URL you’ll get a screen like the one bellow.
Click Appearance, Themes.
Then select the Twenty Fifteen theme (or another one of your choice) and click Activate.
Your new theme is active. If you want to customize it click Appearance (on the left side menu), then Customize. You’ll get a screen like the one bellow where you can customize the blog’s header, colors, menus, widgets and much more.
And that’s it, you’re ready to publish your first post!
There are several things you may want to do at this point.
- Learn WordPress basics – Visit LearnWordPress.com for an organized list of tips, tools & tutorials.
- If you are starting a pet blog, like this one, join Blogpaws. Blogpaws is “an inclusive, global community of pet enthusiasts who write about and support pets via social media. We connect brands with pet parents and pet parents with each other”.
- Find out how to write popular posts by reading Lessons Learned From 10 Popular Blog Posts.
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