How To Set Up A Blog Like A Pro
Some of the links in this post are our referral links (to products we not only believe in but also very happily use ourselves), meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you make a purchase. The commission we earn helps us to keep our blogs up and running smoothly. We very graciously thank you! O:)
If you’re wondering how to start a blog or perhaps you have other questions about the process of starting a blog or blogging in general then you’re in the right place and I’m so happy you’re here! In this post I’ll show you exactly how to set up a blog like a pro, no technical experience required. You’ll find it’s easier and faster than you can imagine. In addition, I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions as we go. I wish I had had a site like this one when I started blogging almost 15 years ago. Instead, I just dove right in and learned along the way by teaching myself and also taking every course I could get my hands on. Luckily, you don’t have to go there because this post will teach you to set up a blog like a pro in no time.
Here I’ll guide you through the steps necessary to start a blog.
Here the steps are in a step by step format:
- Decide what to blog about.
- Choose a blogging platform.
- Find a host.
- Pick a domain name.
- Get started with WordPress.
- Design & use your blog!
Why One Would Start A Blog
There are many reasons to consider starting a blog. Here are a few popular ones:
- Make money while working from home. Many Bloggers make a lot of money blogging. In fact there are a lot of bloggers that make a full time living by blogging. I do and you can do the same. Making money as a blogger is hard work, but it’s low risk, low overhead and low hurdle to entry.
- Become a published author. These days publishers rarely work with authors who don’t have an online presence. The reason is simple: it’s a lot easier to sell books to people who already know you. A blog is one of the easiest and most effective places to get to know an author.
- Get more exposure for your existing business or organization. A blog gives anyone, from individuals to large companies, the ability to reach a large number of people at very little cost.
- Just write. If you want to write, share your story, encourage others and build a community, a blog is a great place to do that.
Do any of these appeal to you? Do you see yourself in any of these reasons? Can you see how you would benefit from a blog? Well, you won’t want to miss reading more.
Steps To Go About Starting A Blog
Step !: Decide What To Blog About
The main things to remember when you’re choosing what to blog about:
- Blog about something you enjoy. If you aren’t excited about your topic, writing about it will be such a chore. Nobody wants that! Also, if you’re not interested then why would anyone else be interested?
- Blog about something with that leaves room for discussion. You have to remember that when you create a blog it requires a lot of content to get started and keep readers interested. Having plenty to talk about is mandatory because you’ll be doing this a long time.
- Choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority. You probably won’t be the first person to blog about the topic you choose. It’s almost a guarantee that someone else has already thought of it before you have. Don’t worry about this, come up with a unique angle. Is there a reasonable chance that you’ll be able to make your blog better than someone else’s blog talking about the same thing?
- You’ll have heard a lot about choosing a niche. This is very important when looking to start a blog. You want to set yourself up to be an authority on the subject you choose. You most likely won’t be the first person blogging about the subject that you choose. The odds that someone else has chosen your specific topic for their blog already are very strong. You shouldn’t worry about this. Just make sure you come up with a fresh angle for your blog topic. This is where you should be asking yourself if you have a good chance at making your blog better than others blogging about the very same thing.
Remember that if you’re a business, company, or organization your blog should talk about the cause you’re devoted to or the products which you sell.
If you’re an individual looking to start a blog then you’ll have more options in which to choose from.
The goal for any blog is to become the go-to resource for its topic or niche.
Step 2: Choose a blogging platform
If you want to blog, you need a blogging platform. It’s just that simple.
There are many blogging platforms to choose from. WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are a few.
All have pros and cons, but WordPress is by far the most popular (source), and for good reason. It’s flexible, functional and has a large community of users who share tools and ideas.
I have tried all of the above platforms over the years and what it has come down to is that I use and highly recommend WordPress.
If you choose WordPress, you have two options: hosted or self-hosted.
- Hosted WordPress blogs, also referred to as WordPress.com blogs, limit your income future but are free.
- Self-hosted WordPress blogs, also referred to as WordPress.org blogs, cost a little bit of money but yield so much more design and development control, and do not put a limit your income future.
This post will teach you how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, the platform preferred by beginner and veteran bloggers similarly.
Note: Even though a self-hosted WordPress blog is sometimes referred to as a “WordPress.org” blog, you are not limited to a .org at the end of your name. You can still use .com, just like I do for thismommysblog.com.
Okay! Let’s get down to business.
Step 3: Find a host
By now I’m hoping that you have come to the conclusion that WordPress is indeed the best, but there’s one more thing to know. WordPress is simply software. You can download it to your personal computer, but if you do this then your blog will only be available to you. In other words, WordPress by itself, won’t make your blog live on the internet.
In order for your blog to be online, and accessible to anyone, you need server space. You get server space from a hosting company or “host.”
What host should you use?
I recommend a host I have personally paid for and used for over a decade. (As a longtime paying customer, the links below are my referral links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.)
Click here to go to Bluehost and start your new blog. (The link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work.) Click the green “Get Started Now” button like so:
If the images you’re viewing here vary a bit from the ones you see on your screen. The process is the same. Bluehost is always tweaking and making site improvements. You might even catch them in a sale!
Select your plan
Click one of the green “select” buttons to choose the plan you are wanting to start with. I will usually select the Plus or Prime buttons because you get more unlimited features.
In addition, I also very highly recommend domain privacy which comes along with Prime. If Plus is the selection you choose, you’ll be able to add domain privacy later on for about $1 a month.
On the next screen, you’ll be asked to enter your new blog name. If you Don’t have one yet, you can easily return later to fill out this field when you have one in mind.
Step 4: Pick a domain name
A domain is a web address. For example, thismommysblog.com is my domain name.
If you don’t already have an idea, use your name, or think of something catchy, short, and worthy of sharing.
If you have previously registered a domain and want to use it for this new site, enter it on the right. (no worries, it won’t mess things up to enter it here. It only identifies your Bluehost account for now.) If you don’t already have a registered domain enter your desired domain on the left.
To show you how in this tutorial, I will use a new domain. If you are using an existing domain, the process is nearly the same. You can still follow along easily.
Enter your account info.
On the next page, enter your account info. Make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent. (Save these emails!)
Account plans are based on how far in advance you want to pay. Choose an account plan based on how far in advance you want to pay. Bluehost bills 1, 2, 3 or 5 years upfront. They do not offer a monthly payment option (hosts that do often charge double or triple). As you can see, it works out to be a very reasonable monthly amount. I mean is this not awesome considering it’s for your own blog or website, right? It’s a fantastic deal, especially for such hosting excellence.
I personally skip the add-ons except for Domain Privacy Protection. The others can easily be added later if needed. (Domain privacy is only available for new domains. If you selected the Prime package, it’s free.) This protection keeps your personal information private. The only time I would skip domain privacy is if you are using a business address and don’t mind if it’s visible to anyone who looks up your domain.
The total is the amount you’ll pay today. You won’t have to pay again for 12, 24, 36 or 60 months, depending on the account plan you chose. Set it and forget it!
Enter your billing info
Next, fill in your billing information, confirm that you’ve read the fine print and then click Submit.
Skip the upgrades & special offers
Once you hit submit, you’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades or special offers. I skip them by clicking the “no thanks” link.
Choose a password
After your purchase is complete, you’ll be asked to choose a password. Just click the “Create your password” button to choose a secure password.
This password will allow you to log in and get started.
Step 5: Get started with WordPress
You can start working on your WordPress site right away. Click the blue login button in the “Congratulations!” window to get started with WordPress.
Skip the free themes
Bluehost gives you the option to pick a free theme immediately. Unless you are familiar with one listed, I recommend you skip it by clicking “Skip this step” at the bottom of the screen. Why? Because many free themes are not kept updated. Outdated themes leave holes hackers can exploit and are not worth the risk.
The theme that comes pre-installed will suffice for now. You can switch to a different theme once you’re set up and more familiar with WordPress.
Start building your site
Your site will be on a temporary domain at first. Don’t be alarmed.
For new domains, this is because it takes 2-24 hours for your chosen domain to become fully registered. Go ahead and start working on your site. When the real domain is ready, Bluehost will switch it for you automatically.
If you used an existing domain in Step 4, you can contact Bluehost support (New Hosting Customers) or look in the help section when you are ready to connect your existing domain to this new site.
You have two options on this screen, the blue “Start Building” button and the link underneath to go to your Bluehost account:
It’s unlikely you’ll need to access your Bluehost account at this point so clicking the “Start Building” button will take you to your new WordPress site like so:
The black column on the left indicates your WordPress dashboard, a place with which you will become very familiar.
I recommend skipping the blue buttons in the middle of the screen (Business & Personal) and choosing “I don’t need help” instead. Why? I prefer to start with a clean slate.
Step 6: Design & use your blog!
Wow! Congratulations are in order! You’re the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site. Before getting going, I recommend making these fine tunings to your settings:
- Change your permalinks.
- Change your username from “Admin” to something more secure.
- Activate your domain. If you chose a new domain in Step 4, find the appropriate welcome email and click the button inside to complete the activation process.
- Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS. Again, for security.
FAQ: How do I switch from HTTP to HTTPS on Bluehost?
Note: This option is only available once your domain registration is fully completed and you are no longer on your temporary domain (see Step 5 above). You’ll know this is the case when you type your chosen domain into any browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) and your domain works, without forwarding to a weird looking domain in the address bar. If your site is still using a temporary domain, put a reminder on your calendar to come back in 2-24 hours to finish this step.
HTTPS vs. HTTP
Until recently, website URLs typically looked like this: https://shootingstarsandlittletoycars.com
However, there’s been a push to convert sites over to look like this: https://shootingstarsandlittletoycars.com
Do you see the difference? It’s just an “s” after the http. That “s” indicates a site is secure and less prone to prying eyes. That’s important.
First, it gives visitors peace of mind, particularly if they enter any personal information on your site, such as their email address when they sign up for your email list, or information related to something they buy from you.
Second, it keeps your site on Google’s good side. That’s important too. Why? As of late 2017, Google may alert people when a site is insecure. No site owner wants a visitor to get a big fat warning that their site is insecure!
Turn on your free Bluehost SSL certificate
If you registered a new domain above, turn on your free SSL certificate to put an extra layer of protection for your visitors. Don’t be intimidated by this term. It’s easy. (If you have an existing domain registered elsewhere, check with that company about getting an SSL certificate.)
Login to your Bluehost account by clicking on this link. Select the “hosting login” tab if it isn’t already. Use the login information you received via email immediately after signing up with Bluehost in Step 4 above.
Once you’re logged in, click on “My Sites” in the left column. Then hover over the thumbnail image of your site. Click the “Manage Site” option that appears just so:
On the next screen, select the “Security” tab at the top. Turn on the Free SSL Certificate by toggling the switch to “On”:
That’s it! Give it a little bit of time to catch up. When you type your domain into Chrome for example, you’ll see a secure icon:
An insecure site will have an “i” with a circle around it like this in Chrome:
Okay, now it’s time to really begin and here’s how…
- The first order of business is to learn more about WordPress. Visit here to find an organized list of tips, tools & tutorials. Check out the WordPress section in particular. If you work your way through this list of articles, you will find you have a real feel for the basics, from adjusting your settings to publishing your first post.
- Next, write your About page.
- After that, start building your content. Write high-quality posts on a consistent basis. Always remember that your goal is to become the go-to resource for your specific topic or niche.
- Once you have some excellent posts published, it would be a good time to start participating in social media.
- Now do it again and again.