So, you want to learn how to create a blog of your own? Awesome!
You’re just about to enter a new chapter of your life. No kidding! I’ve been running various blogs for nearly a decade – from a dorky college blog about boardgames to a hugely popular one for a well-known enterprise brand, and even becoming a Forbes blogger!
Wait a second? How did you get from a personal blog only a few mates used to read to blogging for what’s probably the most prestigious business publication on earth?
Well, that’s the power of blogging in action. And I’ll show you exactly how you can achieve the same results (if you want of course), but first…
You need to create that blog, right?
If you landed on my site, you’re probably a bit lost with all those blogging setup routines. Which blogging platform to choose? How to register a domain name? How the heck should I choose and set up my blog hosting? How do I install WordPress?!
There, there, I’ve been in your shoes too.
Don’t get discouraged with all these pesky details before you even start blogging!
Sit back and let me have some 30 minutes of your time. I’ll walk you through the exact steps you need to take to create your blog – even if you’re a complete newbie with no prior knowledge of HTML, coding or other technical stuff.
Pssst, if you encounter any problems while creating your blog, just hit me up on Jimmy [AT] HowToCreateABlog [dot] org. I’ll do my best to help you for free!
How to Create a Blog in 6 Simple Steps
- Know your whys – why do you want to blog?
- Know your whats – what do you plan to blog about?
- Choose the ultimate blogging platform – self-hosted
- Choose the right hosting provider and your domain name
- Install WordPress
- Write your first post and start blogging!
Okay, so these are the essential steps to start your blog. And yes, they’re simpler than you think! I’ll break down each step into bite-sized actions with detailed explanations and screenshots.
So, here we go!
Step 1: Know your whys – why do you want to blog?
Driving without a map is a way to … get lost.
So, think of your reasons to start a blog as a quick road sign towards the right direction. It would help you make the most out of your experience and enjoy the whole ride even more.
You may want to start blogging for the pure love of writing. That was my case. I love typing out those words so much, ha-ha ☺ And when you have an audience, who can somehow respond and relate to your thoughts, that makes the whole writing experience even more awesome!
You may want to start blogging to make an impact. Yes, this small piece of web estate can become your platform to voice your opinions, find supporters and make a tangible impact.
You may want to start blogging to make some money. There’s nothing shameful in that either. In fact, you don’t even have to be sleazy or salesy to earn money blogging. Monetizing your blog doesn’t mean that you should stick it with ads. That’s one of the worst ways to make money off your blog (and I’ll speak of the good ones in one of my future posts).
The truth is, blogging opens more doors to you. You can use your blog to advertise your professional services, land a publishing deal or speaking gigs. You can choose to launch an e-course to teach your skills to other folks.
Now, suppose you have some clear whys for starting your blog.
Let’s move on to the next step.
Step 2: Know your whats – what do you plan to blog about?
The appeal of blogging is that you can write about pretty much anything you like. You’re your own editor-in-chief and publisher.
And you may be surprised how many popular blogs in odd niches are there on the web!
Think puppy potty training to building a micro organic garden on your balcony. People all over the globe have various interests. And no matter how weird yours may seem, high chances are that there are some other geeks with the same passion as yours.
However, you’re a broad-minded personality.
You probably have different groups of interests, skills, and hobbies. Hence, you need to group those into a certain niche.
Why having a blog niche is so important?
- It will help you to attract and nurture a loyal fan base, who anticipate your next post.
- It will help you to build your online authority and credibly much faster. After all, you can’t be an expert in everything.
- It will help you keep blogging in the long run and avoid writer’s block – as long as you are passionate about your subjects.
- Niche blogs perform better in search results as Google and other search engines can clearly understand what your website is all about and rank it accordingly.
Lastly, having a well-defined niche for your blog helps you monetize it better. You will have the audience, which is potentially interested in your products/services, rather than a group of scattered readers, who are not really sure why they are reading your posts. ☺
Now, how do you choose that blog niche?
- Choose something you know and love – think of your hobbies, leisure activities or interesting professional experiences or something that you enjoy learning about.
- Think of your strength – what are you really good at? Making cupcakes, web design, gardening, raising kids, shooting Instagram pics?
- Don’t go too niche – there’s a good reason why there are so many personal finance blogs, but too few personal finance blogs for Japanese college kids, for instance. When you focus on a micro-niche, you coffin your possible blog growth. Too soon you may find yourself lacking the audience and new horizons to expand to.
Bottom line: Aim for a broad niche and spice it up with a specialty. For instance, you can run a lifestyle blog, but have a special focus on green fashion & organic cosmetics.
Step 3: Choose the ultimate blogging platform – self-hosted
You already know that there are dozens of blogging platforms out there. In creating a blog, you need to decide whether you want to start on a free or paid blogging platform.
Let me walk you through the differences.
Your blogging platform could be…
- Blogger, e.g. www.MyNewBlog.Blogpost.com
- Hosted WordPress, e.g. www.MyNewBlog.WordPress.com
- Self-hosted WordPress, e.g. MyNewBlog.com
The first two blogging platforms allow you to create a blog for free.
But your blog domain name looks just … meh – it’s not professional or particularly trustworthy.
And here’s another deal – these blogging platforms are only “technically free”.
- If you want to add your own independent domain (e.g. MyNewBlog.com) – you’ll have to pay.
- If you want to unlock some additional features or custom design elements – you’ll have to pay.
And the limitations don’t just end here…
Here are just a few more frustrating things you may experience with non-self-hosted blogs:
- Your blog can be shut down/taken away without any excuses. If the company operating the blogging platform decides you have somehow violated their terms (even by accident), it may be shut down and taken away for good. Yes, that’s happened many times before.
- If the blogging platform decides to stop their operations for some reasons, your blog will be demolished too.
- You are restricted in blog monetization. You can’t do affiliate marketing on these platforms, which is a nice way to earn some income. Also, you may not be allowed to display certain sponsored ads or content, which adds even more frustration to the pile.
- You’re limited in design. While certain design elements and website templates can be modified up to your liking, you will never be able to create a truly custom feel for your blog. It will just look like hundreds of other blogs out there. These platforms don’t give you full access to the source code, hence you can only re-design certain blog elements.
- You can’t use a custom email like Jimmy@theawesomeblogger.com, which adds additional professionalism and allows you to separate your personal emails from blog-related ones.
So, your best bet is to go with a self-hosted WordPress from day one. With this option, you’ll have your own domain name and hosting account on which you’ll install the self-hosted WordPress software (found at WordPress.org).
If you’re thinking of starting on a free blogging platform and then migrating to a self-hosted WordPress later on, ditch the idea.
Trust me, migrating from a free platform will only take more hassle later on. I know because I’ve fallen into that trap in the past. So, it’s best to start with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Why choose self-hosted WordPress?
- It’s a mature platform with hundreds of thousands of themes, plugins, and other goodies, which will make running your blog a breeze.
- It’s secure, reliable and easy-to-setup.
- Self-hosted WordPress is the go-to choice of the top bloggers like Jon Morrow, Ramit Sethi and Pat Flynn. Even big-name publications like Forbes, CNN, The New York Times, TechCrunch, Mashable and Reuters use self-hosted WordPress.
And the best part is – self-hosted WordPress blogs are not that expensive.
In fact, you can get blog hosting for just $2.75 per month (meaning just $33 per year) and a free blog domain name in tow (worth $10-$15 if you purchase it separately)!
I’ll show you exactly how in the next step.
Step 4: Choose the right hosting provider and your domain name
I’ll be blunt – a lot of web hosting companies suck.
They are sluggish – your page loads for ages. Their support is hardly ever available when something goes wrong. Your blog can go offline for hours for no apparent reasons and no one will give a damn about that.
How do I know? I’ve used eight (!!!) different web hosting companies for my old blogs before I settled on my current provider – Bluehost.
For starters, Bluehost is the officially recommended hosting provider by WordPress itself.
Next, it’s reliable. Their support is pleasant and they reply pretty fast if you hit them up with questions.
Even if you choose the cheapest hosting plan with them (just $2.75 per month using my special link if you sign up for 36 months), you’ll always have enough resources for your blog and the uptime is always close to 99% (measured that out of curiosity).
Note: I’m Bluehost’s long-term fan and affiliate – that’s why they gave me this link with super low price you won’t find directly on their website. I do make a certain commission if you register an account with them through my link (at no extra costs to you). Note that all hosting companies have such program and I would have never recommended Bluehost unless I did enjoy their services.
Now, if 36 months seems like a long commitment to you, you can still enjoy some great discounts:
- If you choose a 24-month plan, the price per month will be $3.95.
- If you choose a 12-month plan, the price per month will be $4.95 (which is still super affordable as you are still getting a free domain name in tow!)
To sign up for a hosting account, click here to go to the homepage of Bluehost.
Now, there are different Bluehost plans to choose from:
The cheapest – basic plan works just perfect if you’re just starting out.
As I already said – you’ll have enough resources and hosting speed, plus up to 5 connected email accounts, 50 GB of storage space and a free domain name.
Next, you need to check whether your domain name is available or you want to add a domain name you’ve purchased earlier.
Next, create an account with Bluehost:
Some tips for the package information section:
- You can choose your account plan there (36/24/12 months)
- I suggest opting for domain privacy protection ($.99 per year). In that case, your contact and personal information stays hidden in the domain registrar files and you’ll receive less spam.
- Other add-ons are optional. Auto-backup is nice, but then again you can set up to do those with a free plugin. Same goes for Search Engine Jumpstart. But if you want to avoid the manual hassle, these deals are super affordable.
I recommend choosing a minimum of 12 months as it saves you a lot of sanity. The hosting fee is lower. You don’t have to deal with an expired website when you forgot to top up your plan. Also, if you pay by month, you don’t get a free domain name.
Also, one more thing I like about Bluehost is their no-fuss refund policy.
If for some reasons, you decide not to blog anymore or switch hosting providers, they’ll immediately refund you everything left from your 12-month payment. You are not locked into a contract with them. You’ll receive a full refund within 30 days after you decide to cancel their services.
Also, if you decided to switch back to them again – there will be no penalties. They’ll accept you back anytime. Sweet, right?
So, to wrap it up with blog hosting setup:
- Head to Bluehost and click the big green “Get Started Now” button.
- Select your plan.
- Choose your domain name for free or add a pre-purchased one.
- Fill in your account and payment details.
- Create a secure password for your website.
Voila, easy-peasy! You now have a great host for your blog.
Step 5: Install WordPress on your Bluehost account
Installing WordPress on Bluehost is extremely easy. Basically, it’s just a few clicks.
Login to your cPanel on Bluehost (they send you the link to it in a welcome email after registration in step 4 above).
And then select Install WordPress from the list of selected options:
On the next screen you need to choose your domain name from the list of available ones:
Here you can also choose if you want to have your domain name with “www.” in front or without. Both options are great but I’d go without “www.”
Click next, and then Advanced Settings to add your admin username, password and your blog title.
After you click Save, the WordPress installation will begin. It takes around 1 minute to have it installed if you have good Internet connection. Don’t close this tab until the progress bar is at 100% and the installation is complete.
That’s it! You now have a self-hosted WordPress installed on Bluehost and you can start blogging.
That wasn’t too hard, right?
Now, a few more quick words about using WordPress.
Step 6: Write your first post and start blogging!
After you complete step 5 above, Bluehost will send you another email with your login username and password to access your WordPress Dashboard.
The link looks like www.YourNewBlog.com/wp-admin/ (replace “YourNewBlog” with your domain name).
Visit the link and then log in with your WordPress username and password.
On the left, you can see various sub-menus, which allow you to command various actions on WordPress.
Click Posts > Add New to access the post editor and start writing your very first blog post:
Hover on each of the buttons to understand your formatting options better. And then hit “Publish” for your first post.
If you’ve come this far, pat yourself on the back. You’ve just created your WordPress blog in under 30 minutes. Yay!
And remember, if you need any tips or have some questions, do email me directly at Jimmy [AT] HowToCreateABlog [dot] org. I’d be happy to help you out!