This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I started blogging close to a decade ago as a creative outlet. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve written everything from fiction to complex scientific procedures.
I love blogging because it’s something I can totally own and control (uh, yes, I’m a Type A personality, why do you ask??). It’s also an awesome way to share and connect with like-minded individuals and build a community. While technology can sometimes be so isolating, blogging can provide a way to build your own little community that is spread out across the globe. That’s pretty freaking awesome.
It can also provide you with a side income or maybe even replace your full-time income. So, when you’re starting your blog, it’s important to get started right. But there’s so many options out there from blogging platforms, to web hosts and blog themes, I wanted to provide my readers and customers with a step-by-step guide to start their blog off on the right foot.
So, let’s to this!
Starting a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide
I’ve been blogging for close to a decade. I’ve blogged on about every blogging system available. I recommend starting with a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
A self-hosted WordPress.org site will give you the most freedom and control over your blog. Other systems might be a little bit easier to learn, but in the long run, if you’re going to create a blog can really grow and even make you money, WordPress.org is the way to go.
I see so many bloggers start on another platform then end up moving all their content and site to WordPress.org because the other systems just don’t have all the choices, options and freedoms they need to build a truly awesome blog.
Migrating a blog from one system to another is not fun. It’s a major pain in the a$$. It should be avoided if at all possible. In the past, I’ve offered migration services but I don’t anymore. Because it’s that big of a headache. So, just start off right from the get go.
How much does it cost?
There’s a small cost involved. But it’s well worth it in the long run to have total control over your site. The first thing you’ll need to do to set up your self-hosted blog on WordPress.org is select your domain name and hosting package.
Step 1: Choose a domain name and register it.
You’ll want to do some research before you choose a name for your blog. You want something that fits you, your blog, and is unique and will help you stand out in a positive way.
If you need a little help in this area, check out Bust a Name. It allows you to type in some key words you want to use in your domain name and suggests available combinations.
Once you have the perfect blog name, you’ll need to register it so no one else steals it. There are 2 ways to go when registering your domain:
- Register your domain when you purchase your hosting package. Your domain will automatically resolve to your website without having to futz around with settings. This is the easiest way to go to start.
- Option 2 is to register your domain with a service other than your web host, like a domain registrar service or other hosting company that offers standalone domain registration. This requires some extra work as you have to route your DNS (domain name servers) to the correct location for your site host. Not difficult but more work for sure. Our site is set up like this because our current web host doesn’t handle domain registration. Personally, I’d keep them together if I could.
So, for ease of getting started, we recommend taking purchasing your domain along with your hosting package.
Step 2: Select a web hosting provider.
It is important to have a quality web host with great service.
Your host is where your blog “lives” on the internet. Your host affects your site speed and availability. Finding a service with great support is also a major factor to consider when selecting your host. If you have an issue, you want to be able to contact them quickly and easily and be assured that your problems will get fixed and your site up and running as soon as possible.
I’ve used a number of web hosts over the years, some good and some terrible.
For a good entry-level hosting solution that also offers the ability to scale up as your blog grows, I recommend SiteGround. The features and service that they provide for a starting price of just $3.95 USD per month, it’s a great deal. I’ve hosted sites with them for a long time and worked with clients who use their service and they’re always the best for the price.
Step 3: Setup Hosting at Siteground
I’m going to walk you through, step-by-step, the process for signing up for a WordPress site with SiteGround. So, let’s go!
- Navigate to the SiteGround WordPress plans page by clicking on the button below.
- Once you click the button, you’ll be taken to the SiteGround WordPress plan options page.
- Even though the GrowBig plan is $2 more per month, I highly recommend selecting this plan, even for a startup blog. It includes a free SSL certificate (great for SEO), priority support, 30-Day backups and SuperCacher to speed up your site. You can also select the StartUp plan and upgrade at any time. So, click the Get Started button under your chosen plan option.
- Time to choose your domain! This is the address where your blog will live on the web. Enter your new domain name into the field then click the Proceed button.
- Now you will need to enter all your account details like your name, address and payment method.
- Under the Purchase Information section, there are some additional addons. I do recommend the Domain Privacy option. This keeps your personal information associated with the domain private. It saves your from a lot of SPAM! The Site Scanner is a security feature. Security for a WordPress site is never a bad idea. If you can afford the ~$20 per year, do it. If you’re on a tight budget, there are free security plugins to help protect your site. Under Period you can also decide if you want to sign up for your account for a one month trial, or for 12, 24, or 36 months. If you select the one month trial, the next month you will then need to pay the full 12 month fee. This is very common with web hosts. Very few offer a monthly fee option without hitting you with a much higher price. I recommend selecting the 12 month option to start.
- When you’ve entered all your info, click the Pay Now button at the bottom.
- Once your order is processed and your account created, you’ll be able to immediate access your Account Area by clicking the Proceed to Customer Area button.
- Once inside the Customer Area, click on the box at top right that says “GET YOUR NEW SITE UP AND RUNNING!”
- The SiteGround Account Setup Wizard box will open. Pick the Start a new website at… option and click the Proceed button.
- In the Account Setup Assistant window, answer the question about the type of website you need. Then under Do you know which software you’re going to use?, select WordPress. Click the Proceed button.
- In the next window, set your login details for WordPress and choose a starter theme if you want one of the ones shown. If you don’t choose a starter theme, your site will start with the default WordPress theme which is fine. Click the Submit button.
- Once your setup is complete, you will receive a page with a success message. Under the Account Management section you will see all your WordPress login info including your Admin URL. This is the link where you will go to sign in to your new site. Your login details are listed below the URL. You will also receive an email with this info which is handy to hang on to.
- Time to login to your new WordPress site and get to work! Copy and paste the Admin URL into a new browser window. You will see a login screen. Enter your login details.
- Once signed in, you’ll be taken to your WordPress Dashboard which is Command Central for your blog. This is how you control things like adding a new theme, creating posts, adding menus and more. To view your new blog, just click the little house icon at the top left and then click Visit site.
Congrats, you now have a WordPress blog!
A bonus tip:
You might want to put your blog in maintenance mode until you’re ready to go live.
- On the WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. In the Keyword field at the right, type in “Maintenance”.
- Choose a plugin and click Install Now.
- Once install is complete, click Activate.
- I like the “Maintenance” plugin by fruitful code. It’s simple and a bit customizable as well. Once you click “Activate”, you will be in Maintenance mode. To turn it off, click the “Maintenance is On” link at the top of the Dashboard. There are also other maintenance and coming soon plugins to explore as well.
Time to blog!
Now it’s time to setup your blog and get blogging!
DON’T get overwhelmed by being new to WordPress. There are many, many free resources to help you get started:
WordPress 101 Basics:
These resources will help you learn the ins and outs of WordPress.
- The Official WordPress tutorials – https://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons
- WordPress Tutorials from SiteGround – https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/
- iThemes Collection of Video Tutorials – https://ithemes.com/tutorial/category/wordpress-101/
- Udemy WordPress course – https://blog.udemy.com/wordpress-tutorial/
- How to Install a WordPress Theme – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-install-a-wordpress-theme/
- How to Install a WordPress Child Theme – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-install-a-wordpress-child-theme/
- How to Add a Navigation Menu in WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-add-navigation-menu-in-wordpress-beginners-guide/
- How to Add a New Post in WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-add-a-new-post-in-wordpress-and-utilize-all-the-features/
- How to Schedule Your Posts in WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/schedule-your-posts-in-wordpress/
- How to Add Featured Images or Post Thumbnails in WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-add-featured-image-or-post-thumbnails-in-wordpress/
- How to Activate and Use WordPress Jetpack – http://www.fabulousblogging.com/2014/05/everything-you-need-and-dont-with-the-jetpack-plugin/
- Ultimate Guide to Using Mailchimp and WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/ultimate-guide-to-using-mailchimp-and-wordpress/
- How to Create a Separate Page for Blog Posts in WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-create-a-separate-page-for-blog-posts-in-wordpress/
- How to add Categories and Subcategories to WordPress – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-add-categories-and-subcategories-to-wordpress/
- Categories vs. Tags – http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/categories-vs-tags-seo-best-practices-which-one-is-better/
Where to find Themes
You may very well love the Twenty Seventeen theme that comes installed by default on WordPress. Or maybe not.
There are many places to find free and premium themes for WordPress.
- On the WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes
- Click the Add New Theme button.
- Search among the 1000s of high quality free themes available in the WordPress Repository.
- When you find a theme you like, hover over it and click the Install button. You can also Preview themes on your site by clicking the Preview button before installing.
- When installation is complete, you can click the Activate button to apply the theme to your site. Or click the Live Preview button to test the theme before applying to your blog.
Premium themes are paid themes. They often come with a lot more features and much better support than free themes. If you can’t find a free theme you love or want better theme support, some great places to find premium themes are:
You are ready to blog, baby!
Blogging isn’t always easy but it’s a great way to create an online community and even earn some money. We hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful in starting and owning your very own piece of the internet.
For more helpful articles, check out our selection of Start a Blog articles which cover everything from finding a Topic for your blog to choosing the right sidebar widgets.
And don’t miss out on our Blogging Freebies! Lots of great tools to get you started including a Free Blog Planner and more!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosures here.