How to Start a Blog

{Want a free PDF ebook of these instructions? Go here. For free blogging tips, go here.}

Every so often on this blog, I ask a random question: How can I be of help?

Whenever I do this, I find that many folks come back to me asking how they can start a successful blog.

It makes sense why they’d ask, after all. I’m very open about the fact that starting a blog is one of the very best things that ever happened to me, and I love to share with folks why blogging is a great way to connect with others, build your platform, and change the world.

In 2006, I hit publish on my first post.

I was holed up in a crappy hostel in Madrid, having just run my first marathon, and on my first stop of a year-long trip around the world. Without that blog, I would never have become an early user of Twitter, or an early employee at the company. Additionally, that first successful travel blog ultimately brought with my start in the publishing industry, leading me to the now seven books I have published. When that blog ran it’s course, I didn’t stop blogging — or stop starting blogs, for that matter.

My second successful blog then started on me on the journey to make a full-time income blogging, figuring out the ins and outs of affiliates, ads, and all the rest.

And it was my third successful blog (this one) that taught me all about what a blog can do for a long-term career — when it comes to things like creating products, public speaking, selling services (consulting and coaching), and ultimately long-term success.

Wherever you are in your career (or in the world), a blog can help you reach your goals of learning, connecting, change-making and profit-building. I want you to get started. And I’m going to tell you how to do so.

In this post, I’ll show you the exact steps to set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog.

It should take 9 minutes, tops. (8, maybe). At the end, you’ll have your very own blog, which you can shriek loudly about.

In a good way.

(Oh, and if you like what you hear here, and want ongoing tips on turning your blog into a business, signup here.)

So, back to starting your blog.

We’ll be doing it all with BlueHost, the host that most bloggers these days recommend due to its prices, excellent service, and serious ease of set up.

Going with a hosting company like BlueHost means that you’ll be “self-hosting” your website using your own .com address. Although this costs some money (a minimum of about $35 a year), I firmly believe this is a better route than going with free options like Blogger.com. For a full explanation of why I believe paid hosting is the way to go, see this post.

So let’s review what you need to get going:

  • A hosting provider like Bluehost. As mentioned above, I believe self-hosting on your own URL is the way to go. Most well-respected bloggers recommend BlueHost. It’s known for great customer service, ease of set-up, and cost (for just a few dollars a month you can create and unlimited number of websites). Also, it decidedly doesn’t suck, like some of the others out there, which shall remain nameless. They haven’t always remained nameless, and I have taken them to task again and again on this very blog, when, stuck in random hostels in random countries, my sites have gone down and support can’t help me. Bluehost has been good to me. Good. 
  • A domain name. Got a name for your blog? Great. Now turn that into a domain name. (Domain names look like www.ClaireDiazOrtiz.com, www.MeatIsYummy.org, or www.MuffinsRock.net). BlueHost will ask you what yours is when you’re setting up the blog so you need to think on this one, y’all.
  • A credit card (or debit card or Paypal). This is where you get to throw your cash money on the table. Note that there are free ways to blog, but for most people I don’t generally recommend them, as I explained above. Here’s an explanation of why you (usually) shouldn’t be using free blogging services.

So go ahead, get going. Watch the video (also below) or read the directions and sign up for BlueHost and then get your first post up!

Here’s the video below (linked here) walking you through exactly how to set up your new blog.

How to Set Up a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog (Video) 

 

Don’t like videos? I admit I’m not always a fan. Hence why I cringe when folks send me “video messages” via email instead of the written word. For those of you who are special just like me, I offer written directions with screenshots!

Written Directions w/ Screenshots

Go to BlueHost. Click on Sign Up Now.

It will ask you for a domain name. For now, let’s assume you do not already have a domain name and need to buy one now. What do you want to call your site? Muffins4eva.com? DuckDynastyRecipes.com? Think of something good that even you can remember.

A few more tips?

  • Don’t use dashes. Go for peoplelovelongcats.com, not people-love-long-cats.com.
  • Don’t use weird punctuation. Avoid iloveu2much.com. Go for iloveyoutoomuch.com.
  • Get a .com if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry about it.

Enter it in the box “I Need a Domain Name” and see if it’s available.

If it’s available, it’ll tell you “Congratulations!” Now it’s time to fill out your basic personal information and credit card information (or debit card or paypal). Fill that in.

You’re once again a winner. “Congratulations!” You set it up. Now it needs you to set up a password. Do that.

Once you set up the password it wants you to log into the account. Do that.

Now you’re in your account. Click on “Websites”, the blue icon in the middle of the screen.

Once you click there, you’ll see a screen that will say “WordPress” on the left hand side with a big logo. Click on “WordPress” — that’s what we’re going to use to blog on.

Click “WordPress”, and it’ll ask you to install WordPress. Deselect a few extra plugins it will select for you. If you get an error message that says “Oops! That directory exists!” don’t worry. This is just meant for people who are installing WordPress on a site that is already live. Just click the box saying you know this would override any existing files. You may need to deselect those plugins again.

And then, success!

Click on the link it gives you for your new blog and put in your password.

Now look at the left hand side of the screen and click “Add New” under “Posts”.

Write your first post, and hit “Publish!”

Yay!

Your first post is up!

Now what?!

What to Do After the First Post

To make your blog a bit nicer, here are a few key things you’ll want to think about doing in the first few days or weeks of blogging that can help get off on the right foot:

  • Choose a Theme. Under “Appearance” in your WordPress you can click “Themes” to see some free themes available. One free one that some folks use is called Platform. Here are more free WordPress themes. I don’t generally use free themes for sites I care about too much, though. If you have plans for your blog, it’s probably worth spending a bit on a theme. My hands-down favorite paid theme is called Genesis, and has tons of sub-themes you can add on it to make a great site that can look like pretty much anything out there on the web. Highly recommended.
  • Download some good plugins. Some of my favorites include Askimet (to prevent Spam), Google Analytics (the free way to see stats about your blog), and Contact Form 7 (to have an easy way for folks to contact you).
  • Sign up for free tips about turning your blog into a business here.

So remember, it all starts with BlueHost.

Want to download a PDF version of these steps? Go here.

Do you have a new blog? (Or an old one?) Let me know!

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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20 thoughts on “How to Start a Blog

  1. Nice post,

    This is my first visit on your blog and found this article pretty helpful. I started my blog career with blogger platform but immediately shifted to WordPress .I am pretty happy now on this platform and the points you have discussed on ho to start a blog is pretty helpful for newbies for sure.

  2. Thanks for this article. I have received this at the day you posted but was not keen about its importance. Today, about a year later i have realised how important its to have your personal domain of which i am already convinced to listen and follow your advice.

    Few things which i would like you to clarify is and i am sorry if it sounds awkward it may be because of my poor IT knowledge.
    1. Can someone with no IT background (but only have basics) run his/ her own blog?
    2. Does blueblog have trials for few months before payment so as to ascertain reliability and satisfaction?
    3. If i get my personal domain with blueblog, can i sale or provide free blogs to others?
    4. Can i use one domain for my business while at the same time for other personal use?
    5. I have a lot of fear from scammers taking money from people on fake promises, How can i trust blueblog?

    Thanks and Best Regards
    Osman Idris
    Kenya.

  3. Thank you for this post. It was instrumental in convincing me to dive back into the realm of blogging. I went the way of self-hosting my blog using bluehost as you suggested. I am quite happy with my decision up to this point. My new blog is still in the early stages, but I hope to have it going full force very soon. Thank you for taking the time to put all of this information together.

  4. I already had subscribed the hosting services through host gator sometime back. I just came across this blog otherwise would have taken blue host.

  5. Thanks for the help. You explained it in a very simple manner. After reading the post I am inspired to write my own blog. I have the host as well as WordPress… Just procrastinating on writing my first post.

  6. Thank you for the great video and description of a self hosted site. I just recently set up my blog using bluehost as well, but the install of wordpress looked a little different than your video. I found wordpress installation under the CPanel of Bluehost. Since I set up my domain name through Bluehost can you help me confirm if I’m considered a self-hosted site or am I using wordpress.com for my blog. I appreciate your help 🙂

  7. Hi Claire,Nice post with detailed information and videos ,is the BlueHost the Best in terms of page loading Speed ?or is the page speed based on theme rather than hosting accounts ?please reply

  8. Hey claire please i was wonderind if i self-host my site using bluehost, will i be able to host others using my site?

  9. Claire,

    I recently discovered your work via the Greater Expectations BarnaFRAME you wrote (thanks for writing it). I started a blog back in June after reading Jon Acuff’s book Start. My blog is unique in that I simply share 3 resources on 1 topic 2-3 times a week. Here is the first post: http://resourcesforus.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/3-books-that-will-inspire-you-to-truly-live/

    I used the free WordPress template that is working well for me but I’m trying to decide if I should move it to a self-hosting site like you describe here. You’ve definitely given some great advice here on how to do that. Thanks!

  10. Hi Claire, I have bookmarked your post with all its links!

    I have recently started a blog on blogger as self hosting sounded scarey, but I am now toying with the idea of self hosting. My main worry is that if I self host I will be responsible for everything, including securing my site, which worries me.

  11. Hi Claire

    I got Bluehost and WP and creared the site in 3 minutes, very straight-forward. But honestly now I am quite confused so I have 2 questions for you (if you don’t mind answering);

    – When I try to edit one of the free available themes, it doesn’t appear as it should be (e.g. Homepage contains no picture, etc..).
    Why is the template not as it should be? What am I doing wrong?

    – My site was published automatically although it’s not ready yet. I tried to install and activate a “site under construction” plugin but I was not successful, the incompleted site is still visible. What am I doing wrong?

    I look forward to hearing back, and thanks a lot in advance.

  12. Hi Claire thanks for all this great info. I’m hosted by wordpress – not the free version. Are there other advantages that Bluehost could offer me that I currently don’t have access to?
    many thanks

  13. Hi Claire, great post and thank you!

    If I may contribute an update to your post, as it appears that BlueHost changed their procedure slightly.

    After signing up, paying and clicking the big green “Use WordPress” button, the user is transfered to Mojo Marketplace, an open-source shop linked to BlueHost.
    Click on “Scripts & Platforms”. On the top left corner under “Most Popular”, click on “WordPress”. A drop-down will appear, click on the big green “Start” button to start a brand new install.
    Follow the prompts to over-write any existing content and do a fresh install. Once complete, this gives you your WP administrative URL and password.
    At this point you are also assigned a unique Mojo Marketplace account. This website will prompt you to browse themes, however none of them are free.
    If you wish to setup free themes, follow the instructions as written in the blog post above. After logging in to http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin, go to Appearance > Install themes (tab).
    Search for the theme by name (I chose “Platform” as recommended in this blog post, to start with) click Install. Wait for it to install, you will get a message saying the theme is installed. Go back to Appearance > Manage themes. Scroll down to Platform and click on Activate.

    Voilà!