If you have something you’re passionate about and want to share it with the world, then blogging is going to be perfect for you! This post is a beginner’s step-by-step guide on how you can start a blog today.
I started blogging in 2013 as a way to update friends and family of my travels and I didn’t start attempting to monetize my blog as a business until late 2017. At which point, I had quit my NYC job, bought and converted a van into my tiny home on wheels, and hit the road full-time.
In 2018, my hobby travel and lifestyle blog finally ended up becoming the foundation for my remote income success and is the main reason why I can work 100% online and be location independent.
You can find out exactly how I make money off my blog in this blog post: How I Make Remote Income.
When starting a blog or any website for that matter–you’ll need to choose the following three things:
- A blog name & domain
- Web hosting provider
- A website editing platform (e.g. WordPress)
For this website, I personally purchased my domain through GoDaddy, use Cloudways as my website hosting provider, and edit and run my blog through WordPress. This entire setup costs about $130/year and is my “rent” for my online business
Now let’s break it all down for you, step-by-step.
1. Choose a Name & Purchase Your Domain
A domain (or “URL”) is like your address on the internet. When picking your blog name and domain, I recommend:
- Doing a quick search on google and then social media platforms to make sure that it isn’t taken anywhere that you might want to use it
- Choosing something in your niche, but also that has room for growth (e.g. “van life” in the name might be too specific if you don’t plan on living in a van forever)
- Keep it short and memorable (ideally under 3 words)
2. Choose a Hosting Platform
Your web host is kind of like a parking spot for all of your website content on a web server. It’s the place where all your images and copy will be stored online. I breakdown the reasons I recommend two different hosts that I personally use below.
I highly recommend Bluehost for new bloggers, because they provide the most affordable and user-friendly hosting service for beginners on WordPress who want to get started blogging quickly, with minimal setup and website management effort, and have a small budget.
I recently started using Bluehost to host a website I manage, and I am extremely impressed with the quality of service they offer at such a low price (including 24/7 phone & chat support).
My favorite part is that setting up a WordPress website with BlueHost only took me about 5 minutes and was so EASY. Plus, Bluehost’s plans even come with a FREE domain for 1 year!
Bluehost will definitely save you money, with their unmatchable start-up plan prices (starting at $2.95/month) that also automatically include the cost of your domain (a $13 value).
I have been hosting this website with Cloudways since 2015 and recommend them as a very reliable, secure, and scalable hosting service for quickly growing blogs. They have Managed WordPress Hosting plans that start at $10/month, which is very affordable for the extensive security and performance services they provide (in comparison, Bluehost’s most similar plan costs about $15/month initially and $30/month when you renew).
Their plans offer a lot of room for website growth, data storage, can manage heavy traffic, and provide very strong security and backup protection for your data. Strong security is so important when you invest so much time and energy into your blog– you don’t want to lose everything because of a virus or website crash.
Some notable differences with Cloudways vs. other hosts are that you pay as you go (monthly, with no long-term contracts). They also isolate your account from others on the servers, so you don’t have to worry about other websites/users on the same server infecting yours with malware or slowing down your site when they use up the limited server resources on shared hosting plans.
Finally, they have free website migration, which is great if you want to switch to them as your host down the road once your website grows more in both traffic and the amount of content you need to be stored.
Here is a really simple breakdown of what is offered with the most affordable Bluehost Shared Hosting Plan and Cloudways Managed WordPress Hosting plan:
3. Install WordPress (Website/Blog Editor)
Once you’ve got your domain and your hosting provider purchased, you’ll need to install WordPress and connect them all.
WordPress is what most bloggers (including myself) use to edit their blogs, and you’ll need to install it after you’ve purchased a website hosting plan.
WordPress is the program that you will use to create your site, write your blog posts, etc. It is the platform that you will use on a regular basis to manage your blog.
The great thing about WordPress is that you don’t need any coding experience, but if you have some or want to learn more, it has room for both beginning bloggers and advanced web developers.
I have included instructions for connecting WordPress to both BlueHost and Cloudways below.
How to Install WordPress for BlueHost:
- Login to your new BlueHost account, and click on the My Sites tab from the side navigation menu to the left
- Click the Create Site button
- Click the Start Building button under the WordPress option
- Enter the Admin Information (e.g. Site Name, Site Tagline, Email Address, Admin Username and Password)
- Once the installer finishes installing the WordPress application, click on the My Sites tab from the left side navigation menu and find the domain install and click log into WordPress
You’re all set!
How to install WordPress on Cloudways:
Step 1: Login to Cloudways
Step 2: Switch from Server to Applications in the top left of your screen
Step 3: In the Applications tab, click on the + Add Application button in the upper-right corner and then again on Add Application in the popup
Step 4: Select the latest version of WordPress, name your blog, then click Add Application (it will take a few minutes for WordPress to install)
Once you create the application, you’ll see www followed by 1. Click on that orange number to access your WordPress URL and login credentials
Connecting your domain to Cloudways:
Step 1: Switch to the Servers section of your website dashboard. Note your server’s IP address (e.g. 35.177.XXX.XXX)
Step 2: Go to the Applications tab and select the application you just created. Next, select Domain Management from the left-hand menu
Step 3: In the Primary Domain field, enter your full domain address including the prefix (e.g. www.spintheglobeproject.com)
Step 4: Login to your domain registrar (e.g. GoDaddy), add an A Record for IP address you noted in Step One. Then, wait for the DNS changes to take place (which can take up to 24-48 hours)
After it’s done, you can check that everything is working correctly by visiting your website URL/domain.
No matter your host, you can also access the backend of WordPress to edit your site and write blog posts by going to your website and adding “wp-admin” at the end (e.g. (www.mywebsiteaddress.com/wp-admin). Then just login with your WordPress username and password.
4. Choose a WordPress Theme
Next, you’ll need to choose a WordPress theme. A theme basically determines the layout and style of your website.
I use a theme called Blossom Travel Pro ($49/year). There are a ton of free WordPress themes out there though, so this isn’t a necessary expense.
My advice is to find a theme that looks most like the layout you envision for your website so that you don’t have to do as much tweaking and editing to get that perfect look
5. Create Content
Creating content can be intimidating when you’re first starting out, but it’s why you’re here in the first place. You have something to say, and you want to share it with people.
I recommend easing yourself in by creating your home page and your about page. Since these are going to be all about who you are and what kind of information you’re offering on your blog.
From there, just think about the most important thing people should know about your niche.
Hint: If you want to start a travel blog, a great first post could be something like A Travel Packing List or 10 Cost-Saving Travel Hacks. Then from there, you can add destination guides and so on.
6. Grow Your Audience
You should make sure that you create business accounts on all of your favorite social media platforms. I recommend securing your blog name on each social platform that you think you might use, but make sure to pick the ones you already are familiar with to start investing your time and energy into regularly promoting your blog on.
I have personally found Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest to my best social tools for getting traffic to my website, and growing an audience for my blog.
Pinterest is probably the most effective social media platform for driving website traffic, without having to constantly create new and time-consuming content. I recommend using Canva to create professional-looking pins to promote each of your new blog posts on Pinterest (like this).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you are serious about blogging and want to grow your audience, you should learn about SEO and harness its power early on. SEO is how you get free organic traffic (bring people to your website) by making your pages and posts search engine friendly on Google, Yahoo, etc.
I highly recommend downloading the plugin Yoast SEO on WordPress and then using it every time you go to create a post or a page. It will ease the process of mastering SEO, and its free features will guide you through each step, page by page, and post by post.
7. Monetize Your Blog
Now that you’ve set up your blog, and are getting some traffic, the next step is monetization (making money off of your blog).
To make a long story short, the most common ways to monetize a blog are:
- to allow an ad network to place ads on your blog (I use Google Adsense)
- affiliate marketing
- partnerships/sponsorships with brands
I dive A LOT deeper into how each of these methods work on my blog post about How I Make a Remote Income.
Some Helpful FREE Blogging Resources
When you’re ready to learn more, I found these three free resources really helpful in my own process of enhancing my blog:
The bottom line is that making money from blogging is A LOT of work (especially in the beginning), it involves a lot of hustling, and you will probably need to combine it with a few other means of remote income to live off of. Most importantly, you will need to master SEO, affiliate marketing and sponsorships to become successful.
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Disclosure: I earn a commission from affiliate links you might find on this page if you use my referral link to make a purchase. I only partner with brands I personally use and trust though. Thanks for your support.