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This month marks my blog’s 8th anniversary! Blogging has been an incredible journey so far and has provided me with experiences and opportunities in life beyond my wildest dreams. Over the course of my hobby-turned-career, I have developed rich friendships with fellow bloggers/readers, partnered with amazing brands, cofounded a national blogging conference (the Haven Conference), and created a passive income stream for my family. Perhaps you have toyed with the idea of starting a blog but are unsure of where to begin. Maybe the technical side of blogging scares you, and you’re looking for a resource that will take you through what you need to do step-by-step. You’ve come to the right place! I have put together a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog and install WordPress. This tutorial will get you blogging today! You can do this, and I’m here to help. Let’s begin. (Or you can pin this tutorial for later!)
How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Tutorial
Step 1: Choose and secure your unique domain name.
Your domain name is like your blog’s street address. It is the simplest part of a URL that tells the world that you own your own little piece of the internet. You will want your domain name to contain your blog’s name to make it easy for your readers to find you. My domain name is homestoriesatoz.com. When choosing a domain name, be sure to choose a name that has NOT been used in full, or in part by another blogger–especially not a blogger within your own niche. Copying a blogger’s name in full or in part is unethical and can cause you much grief in trademark litigation down the road. It also causes brand confusion and you will most likely receive a “cease and desist” trademark letter from the blogger you copied from. Be original and come up with something unique and creative to only YOU! Google the name you are considering to see who might already be using similar terms. I also recommend using Bluehost*’s domain name checker below to ensure your name has not already been taken.
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you can go ahead and secure it for free with Bluehost* hosting in Step 2.
Step 2: Choose a hosting provider for your blog.
Once you have a domain name chosen, you need to choose a host for your blog. Think of your hosting provider like a virtual storefront property that you are renting for your blog. It is a place where all of your files, pictures, and content resides. Picking a good host for your blog is imperative! I cannot stress this point enough. You want a host provider that will be there to answer your questions and help you if/when something goes awry. There are free hosting options and paid options and there are strong pros and cons to both. When I initially started my blog, I started it as a “blogspot” on Google. I thought this made a lot of sense at the time since my blog was just a hobby, and I had no intention of turning it into a business. Two years later, I regretted that decision and chose to switch my blog over to self-hosted WordPress. The switch gave me a lot more options to customize the look and feel of my blog. Migrating my site and learning a new platform cost money and time that I could have saved. I recommend that you start your blog using self-hosted WordPress (which is what I use), and also recommend using Bluehost* to host your blog. Bluehost is who I switched to when I began on WordPress. They offer a 24-7 technical support line which is amazing. If your blog goes down for some reason a 3am, then you can call or chat with someone to receive help.
Step 3: Sign up with your host.
How to Sign-up with Bluehost
Go to bluehost.com/track/homestoriesatoz/ and click on the green “get started now” button. You will be asked on the next screen to choose your plan. With my link, you will be able to purchase a plan for as little as $3.95/month. If you think you will need more bandwidth, then consider upgrading your plan.
After you’ve chosen your plan, enter the domain name you chose in Step 1 in the “new domain” box.
Enter your account information.
Under “package information” there are some add-on services that aren’t included with the basic plan. I’ve checked off the three add-ons that I recommend you consider adding to your monthly service. One protects your privacy, one automatically backs up your entire blog for you, and the last protects you from malware. If you are on a tight budget, then skip these options for now. You can instead add security plugins to your site that can help keep it safe. Enter your billing information and click “next”.
Yay! You are almost ready to begin blogging! Follow the prompts to “create your password”. Make sure you choose a password that is STRONG. It should look something your 2 yr old just created by pushing a bunch of nonsense. 🙂 Now be sure to remember your password and login to your Bluehost* account by clicking on the “hosting” button.
Step 4: Download WordPress
WordPress is a user-friendly online blog/website creation tool that most of your favorite bloggers use. It is what I use and love! Here is how to download it from Bluehost*. On the welcome screen, click the “i can do it” and the “Close this welcome message and don’t show it again.”
Now under your hosting tab at the top, you will see something similar to the screen below. Find the “Install WordPress” button and click on it.
Click the “start” button.
Select your domain url and click “Check Domain”.
Now click on the “Show advanced options” tab and set-up your WordPress login credentials. Click “Install Now”.
When your installation is complete you will receive an email with a link that will allow you to login to your WordPress site.
Step 5: Log-in to WordPress.
Woo-to-the-hoo!!! You are almost there! Congrats! You are ready to login to WordPress. Click on the link in the email you received or go to http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin. You will see the following screen. To retrieve your WordPress login credentials navigate back to Bluehost. Under your notifications find where it says, “Your WordPress install is finished” click on the “View” button. This will show you your WordPress login credentials. Enter those credentials on your WordPress login screen.
You are now inside WordPress and are ready to begin customizing your blog!
Step 6: Choose your WordPress theme and customize your blog design.
Your blog’s theme is the template that helps you easily customize your layout and design. Your sidebar, slideshow, fonts, navigation bar, background, etc. can be customized within your theme. I currently use the Genesis* theme on my blog because it is highly flexible and can easily be changed. StudioPress Themes for WordPress* offer a lot of Genesis child theme* options for you to consider. You can create your own design elements for your blog using online photo-editing software such as PicMonkey, or you can purchase pre-made elements and upload them to your blog. I have made several design elements for my blog over the years, but I highly recommend hiring a designer to help you implement your design. If you hire a designer, the cost of the theme is typically part of your design package. You can find many different blog designers by doing a simple Google search.
Step 7: Start blogging!
Congratulations! You are now ready to change the world with your unique words, projects, pictures, and VOICE! Your blog posts should always strive to do one of three things: educate, entertain, or inspire. Growing your blog will take diligence, patience, and time. Be gentle with yourself as you learn all of the ins and outs of blogging. Google and YouTube are your best friends, so be sure to research, watch, and read all you can on blogging strategies. Consider attending a blogging conference such as the Haven Conference to learn ways to grow your blog. When I started Home Stories A to Z eight years ago, I simply wanted a place to share my gifts with the world. I never began blogging as a way to make money. I believe THIS is the reason I have never burnt out and THIS is what has kept me going throughout the years. If you are beginning a blog with the hopes of a “get rich quick” plan, then I highly recommend playing the lottery instead. You will have much more luck! 🙂 But if you want to begin a blog because you have a burning passion to share your ideas with others, then you my friend will soar! Welcome to the club and happy blogging!