START A BLOGstep-by-step guide to your first year of blogging
HOW TO START A BLOG (2019 Edition)

HOW TO START A BLOG (2019 Edition)

Summary:

Your COMPLETE GUIDE to starting your blog. I take you STEP-BY-STEP through each task from domain name selection, website hosting purchase, installation of WordPress and finishing with publishing your first blog post.

Blog Instructor

I am grateful that you have chose me to help you on your blogging adventure. The reality is that starting a blog takes time and lots of energy, but not necessarily money. If you have a plan and someone to help you out, the odds of you succeeding are nearly double!

Assuming that you are here to learn how to start a blog, I also want to let you know that you are in the right place and possibly minutes away from creating your own blog to share your expertise, goals, motivations, fears and creative ideas with the world.

Owning your own blog has the true potential to change the course of your life and help thousands or millions of people around the world. It is such a great feeling.

Start a Blog ~ Introduction

I have developed a unique START A BLOG process that will quickly get your blog up and running with minimal time and money.

I have made one major assumption up to this point… You at least have a general idea of what you blog about. I would don’t want to slow your burst of action but I don’t want to waste your limited time and money.

If you are really unsure a blogging topic then I would urge you take 15 more minutes to read my blog post on blog topic ideas. This little bit of extra planning now will save you a tremendous amount of time and energy down the road.

Once you blog is online and you have your first blog post, you will then be able to follow-up with numerous articles to change the look of your blow and help get your blog headed in the right direction.

What is a Blog?

A blog is a specialized type of website. A blog has text and images, just like a website, but were a blog begins to separate itself from a generic website For website to be considered a blog it should have three characteristics:

  • content organized into singular “units” – a.k.a. blog posts
  • blog post are listed chronologically – generally starting with the most recent blog post and continuing to the oldest
  • groups of blog posts are secondarily organized into smaller groups using Categories and Tags

Are You Ready to Start a Blog?

As someone that has started numerous blogs I can say with complete confidence that anyone can benefit from a blog. That being said there are several strategic reasons to start a blog:

  • Grow Your Business
    • Creating a business blog give you an opportunity to position yourself as an authority in your industry. It does not mean
  • Promote Your Personal Brand
    • Are you a freelancer, social media specialist or consultant? You can leverage the power of your blog to sell promote your services. Are you passionate about your hobby and want to share your experience with others, a blog is for you?
  • Professional Blogger
    • It is possible to make a living as a full-time blogger. However it is absolutely not a “get rich quick” proposition. Building a blog take lots of time. money & energy to be successful and provide enough income to live comfortably.

STEPS TO START YOUR BLOG

The physical process of creating your blog is one of the simplest parts of having a blog. This actual creation process is what we will focus on in this section of the article. At the end of the process you will have created your very own blog and will have published your first blog post!

If you only have 20 minutest to start a blog, this is your best option. To be clear, there are dozens of different ways to start a blog from completely free to paying thousands to have a completely custom design created from scratch. What I have outlined here is what I believe to be the best way for most new bloggers.

Here are the high-level hosting steps involved in getting your blog up and running. I will take you through all of the individual steps in detail:

  • Setup hosting with BlueHost
  • Install WordPress
  • Publish your first blog post

SETUP HOSTING WITH BLUEHOST

The first thing you need to do when creating your blog is find your blog a “home”. This process is similar to renting an apartment where you pay someone a monthly fee to use the infrastructure setup than you need.

In this tutorial we will use BlueHost to for our blog. They are a good place to start with your blog. They offer an economical option for your first year of hosting and include a good feature set including:

  • 12 month introductory pricing
  • domain name included for first year
  • secure certificate to keep your website secure
  • Everything you need to to get your blog up and running
  • recommended by WordPress.org

To begin the signup process with BlueHost open your web browser and go to:
https://www.bluehost.com/

STEP 1 – Select Your Hosting Plan

After the page has loaded, you will need to scroll down the page to see three different hosting plans:

The CHOICE PLUS plan has the best overall value.

Select your WordPress hosting plan on BlueHost with our affiliate link

You will need to choose what plan best fits your need, the good news is that all three hosting plans will support WordPress. As you continue to build your audience you will likely need to upgrade your hosting plan that is why I recommend you at least start with the PLUS plan to start with.

After you select the green “SELECT” button on the CHOICE PLUS plan or the plan that works best for you, it is time to select your domain name.

STEP 2 – Select Your Domain Name

Assuming you don’t already own your domain you can enter the domain name in the text box for “Create a new domain”. Next use the drop down box to select the extension of your domain name. (.com is selected by default)

Click the blue “Next” button to see if your domain name is available for registration.

If your domain name is not available for registration you will be given another opportunity to search for another domain along with other domain names that may be available:

If your domain name is available for registration your will see the large green banner notifying you that the domain name is “available”.

STEP 3 – Enter Account Information

Account information: Now that you have found a domain name that is available it is time to enter your “Account Information”. This information defines the official owner of the domain name and hosting account.

NOTE: double check the email address, the email address must be active and you must also have access to the email account to validate that you are the owner of the email account.

Package Information: You will need to select the hosting term for your account. The minimum term is 12 months but you can extent it to 36 months. The more you pay in advance the more money you will save. If you can afford the longer term it is a great opportunity to lock in your rate for the next several years.

Package Extras: Make sure you select “Domain Privacy Protection”. There may be an addition fee but it is truly worth it to purchase the upgrade if it is not already included for free.

Although the “Domain Privacy Protection” does not directly affect the performance of your WordPress website, you will likely receive numerous spam emails since your personal email address will be publicly accessible and become a very easy target for spammers. As, I originally recommend select this option when possible to safe your self and your inbox lots of potential hassle.

Payment Information: This part is standard for any online transaction. You will need a major credit card to purchase your domain name and hosting account. It is good practice to use a credit card as opposed to a debit card to give you an extra layer of protection between your bank account.

Finally, select the checkbox agreeing to the terms of service and click SUBMIT.

STEP 4 – SET PASSWORD

After the website hosting account has been created by BlueHost you will see the “Congratulations!” screen and a prompt to set a password for your account. Click the green “Set password” button to proceed.

Once you have decided on password for your account, you will need to enter it twice. Once the password has been entered, check the box agreeing to BlueHost’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. I would certainly recommend you read both policies before agreeing to the terms of the agreements.

Congratulation!!! You have completed the purchase of you domain name and hosting account, let’s finish up by installing WordPress!

INSTALL WORDPRESS

You should be automatically redirect to the Hosting Login page for BlueHost but if you are not automatically redirected to the page you can use the URL below to login to your hosting account. You will need to enter the Domain Name if it is not already entered for you.

Hosting Login: https://my.bluehost.com/web-hosting/cplogin

Upon successful login to your hosting account. you will need to enter a couple pieces of information before WordPress can be installed.

  • What do you want to name your site?
    • This will be the title of you website, most WordPress themes will display the name prominently at the top of the blog. The site name change be easily changed at any point in the future.
  • What’s you site’s tagline?
    • this should be a short sentence that describes what you blog is about for new visitors to your website. Again, the tagline can be easily change at any point in the future.
  • Do you want a blog?
    • YES – leave the default option for the “display blogs posts on” option
  • Do you want a online store?
    • YES – this way you will have everything you need to sell products online should you decide to dive into eCommerce.

Click “Continue”

The second half of the form is a quick survey, select the option that best represents your online goals & abilities.

Click “Continue”

Time to select your first WordPress theme. BlueHost does provide you with a reasonable selection of theme to choose from. The are organized into categories including Recommended, eCommerce, Blog, Portfolio, Entertainment, Food & Drink & News. Some categories have multiple page to choose if you don’t find what you are looking for on the first page.

The WordPress community has THOUSANDS of free and premium themes to choose from so don’t get too caught up in finding the prefect theme. You can change it in the future, just pick something that works for now and keep moving.

You have a blog, let’s do something with with it!

After a few brief moments you will be take to the BlueHost control panel. This will be the place to configure options related to your BlueHost account. There is a different admin control panel specifically for WordPress.

Even though we have additional WordPress configuration, I recommend that this point to click the white “Launch My Site” button on the upper-right corner of the screen.

Since we don’t have any visitors we can launch our WordPress website because it is easier to see how your website looks by launching it as soon as possible. If you don’t immediately launch you website you will see a “Coming Soon” page regardless of the WordPress theme that you have selected.

SETUP YOUR BLOG

At this point we have purchased our domain name, and hosting account through BlueHost. WordPress has been configured and is ready to use. As a new user to WordPress you can quickly get overwhelmed by the number of settings available.

All of the steps in the next section of the setup guide are optional but it is a good way to get some experience with the admin panel and become familiar with the WordPress platform.

You can access the WordPress admin panel from the home screen of your BlueHost account. Use the link below to login again if you are not already logged in to your WordPress admin screen.

WordPress Login: https://myNewDomainName.com/wp-admin

Hosting Login: https://my.bluehost.com/web-hosting/cplogin

Click the blue WordPress button to open the WordPress admin:

Welcome to the WordPress admin screen. All WordPress settings & content will be managed from this area. As you can see there are a number of options for your blog.

STEP 1 – DEACTIVATE PLUGINS

First we will want to start with a blank slate and work your way through the different options as you have time.

Let’s start by disabling all of the extra WordPress plugins. Depending on how your WordPress installation was created you will have a number of plugins installed but we don’t want that. Each plugin that is activate begins to slow down your blog. We don’t want that, so we will deactivate them and only add the ones we are using as we need them.

On the left side menu, towards the bottom your will the “Plugins” menu, click the link to expand the menu.

Under Plugins you will need to click on “Installed Plugins”

Click the blue “Active” link to display all active plugins

From the “Bulk Actions” drop down, select “Deactivate”

Click “Apply” to the right of the Bulk Actions drop down.

You have deactivate all plugins in WordPress, this will speed up your website. They have not deleted them because we will be activating them as we need them in the future.

STEP 2 – GENERAL SETTINGS

Locate the Settings >> General section in your WordPress admin

This settings page is exactly like it sounds, a set of general configuration settings that affect your websites operation. Below are the settings that should be updated on this page, I would not recommend you do not change the settings if it is not listed below.

As you become more familiar with WordPress you may find the need to come back and edit some of the settings.

  • Site Title
    • The Site Title was originally set when you installed WordPress but it can be updated again if needed
  • Tagline
    • The Tagline was also set when you installed WordPress but can also be updated if needed.
  • Site Language
    • Update as needed
  • Timezone
    • The default time zone is UTC+0 but you should update the field to your local time. I recommend you select a major city in your time zone so you don’t need to update again when daylight savings time changes.
    • New York, NY – EASTERN
    • Chicago, IL – CENTRAL
    • Phoenix, AZ – MOUNTAIN
    • San Francisco, CA – PACIFIC
  • Date Format
    • Update the date format that you prefer, note that this does not affect how the date fields are displayed in the WordPress admin.
  • Time Format
    • Update the time format that you prefer, note that this does not affect how the time fields are displayed in the WordPress admin.
  • Week Start On
    • Typically Monday or Sunday are selected

YOUR FIRST BLOG POST

The time has come to step out of the nest, spread your wings and fly!

This is really the place where the rubber meets the road! Up to this point you have been able to high quietly behind your computer. Simmering with ideas, opinions and technical knowledge read to be unleashed into the world.

Now is the time to take action and make use of your newly created WordPress blog.

The good part is creating a blog post in WordPress is very easy but taking time to write the content can take lots of time depending on the subject matter.

By making your way through this article you have built up some momentum and I want to keep that going so don’t stop. You need to publish at least one blog post before you get up from your computer. It requires not research at all so there are not excuses.

BLOG POST 1 – YOUR PLAN

I am assuming you are still logged into WordPress, if you are not you will have to navigate to http://YourDomainName.com/wp-admin then enter your username and password.

After you have logged in to the WordPress admin, you can click on Posts menu

Then click on “Add New”

There are really only two items that you need to be concerned about when publishing your first few blog posts:

  • TITLE
    • Enter a concise title for your blog post, I would not recommend “Number One”, “My First Blog Post” or anything similar.
    • The title will also be used to generate the permanent URL for your blog post. All spaces will be converted to dashes, letters changed to lower case and special characters removed. In our example “My First Blog Post” will have have the permanent URL of my-first-blog-post.
  • CONTENT
    • This is where the actual content of your article will go. Treat it as a basic word processor. Go line by line, pressing enter for new paragraphs.

You first blog post will be all about your blog and will serve two purposes…

For your visitors it will help give some context to your overall blog but for you it will serve as a living document that you will need to check back with from time to time making sure you are on track. Nothing in this document is set in stone so you can (an should) update it often as you learn more about your audience and have better direction with your blog.

Here are some good items to included in our first blog post.

  • Why you created your blog
  • Are you trying to solve a specific problem with your blog
  • Are you promoting anything with your blog
  • What authority you have on the given topic
  • What are your six-month goals
  • Where do you plan to be in one year
  • How will you measure success

Once you have entered your Title and Content you are ready to publish you blog post with one simple click of the blue “Publish…” located in the upper-right corner of the “Add New” screen.

You will receive one last confirmation dialog on the right side of the screen, at which point you need to click “Publish” one final time to make your post accessible to the Internet.

Congratulations! You have published your first blog post to the Internet. You can send an email out to all of your friends and relatives letting them know they can check out your very first blog post.

BLOG POST 2 – CORNERSTONE BLOG POST

Your next blog post needs to be a great one! It needs to set the tone for your blog and establish you as a legitimate blogger.

Does that mean you have to be an expert? No but you have to have a great blog post that will that has great content and help solve a problem. Most people end up at your website to solve a problem and that is what you need to do.

What is a Cornerstone Blog Post?

The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Wikipedia

A “cornerstone” blog post is a fairly lengthy blog post that is in-depth to better demonstrate your knowledge on a particular topic. You first visitors don’t know you so you want to put your best foot forward.

Take some time and plan out your blog post. This is a place where you should spend a lot more than 20 minutes to plan out and write. It is far more realistic you will spend 4 to 6 hours from start to finish to complete these type of blog post.

You want to start with an online of the blog post so that it flows and breaks down all of the individual ideas into manageable parts. You can then go back and expand each of the bullet points into several paragraphs.

A good rule of thumb to start with is outline 20 bullet points and fill in each bullet point with around 200 words. Individual paragraphs run about 40 words on average. This is just a general guide line, you can expand and contract paragraph lengths for better readability. But again we want to target around 2000 words but don’t be afraid to go as high as 4000 words if the topic is detailed enough.

I actually practice what I preach… This very post is one of my cornerstone blog posts for this website. I have invested 6+ hours developing this blog post over the course of an entire week. It has over 100 revisions and is over 3500 words long!

Each of your 20 or so bullet points in your outline should also have some image to go online with the topic. This will give your article a more polished look and make it easier to scan for your readers. It does not have to be a full image many times an icon works good.

Infographics are the best in longer articles but they take considerable time to create and not considered a beginners topic. It is far more important to focus on good content if you have limited time available.

BLOG POST 3 – ABOUT YOU

Finally, we are getting to the end of our first dive into blogging. One last easy post to get the ball rolling. This one does not have to be as long or as indepth as your cornerstone article so no worries.

Use this post as a way to better connect with your readers and bring some personality to your blog. No one knows why you are, they don’t know your brand/business if you are just staring out so let them know.

Briefly describe who are you, why you like the topic and what activity you enjoy around it… Just make it about you. That is all that it takes. A picture never hurts either but that is up to you. You don’t give out personal details about yourself like your personal address, phone number, email, etc but you still want to build that true story of who you are. If it is authentic, people will relate, ,share and come back for more.

The Finish Starting Line…

Start a blog is not the most difficult task in the world but with some guidance it is completely possible. If you have completed all of the task up to this point you have been able to:

  • Learn some background information on blogging
  • Choose a domain name for your blog/topic
  • Sign-up for website hosting through BlueHost
  • Install WordPress on your new BlueHost hosting account
  • Complete the initial setup of your blog
  • POST YOUR FIRST THREE BLOG POST!

Operating a successful blog is a life long learning adventure. (yes, I am still learning new things every day) Although your blog is up an running there is still a numerous other thing you will need to learn to succeed in your first year of blogging.

Despite reaching the end of this article, it is just the start of your journey.

I will be adding more content to help you succeed and make money from your blog. Please check back often and see our recent blog articles for the latest and greatest information needed for your first year of blogging. Thank You!

Written by
Blog Instructor
START A BLOG

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