How To Start a Blog – Beginner’s Guide for 2015

- Guide by Jessica Knapp (updated)how to start a blog

So, you want to start a blog huh? Great idea!

But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the web, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. Who do you listen to? Where’s the starting point?

Damnit, maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing!

Well, hold up. I used to be a blogging newbie too. I had the same problems. I started my blog (BloggingBasics101.com) back in 2006, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. In fact it was only the week before I’d learnt what a blog was.

Now I know a ton about them, and my blog’s doing pretty well – I receive more than 200,000 unique visitors per month which makes me consider myself someone you could listen to and learn from when it comes to building your own blog. I’m not some sort of Guru, but I certainly do know the basics.

I promise it’ll be simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid jargon). Sound good? Awesome, let’s move on.

 

Why you should create a blog and join the blogging community

So below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before we dive in though, I really want to talk about WHY you should start a blog.

Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.

  1. Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
  2. It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
  3. You become a better person and a better writer.
  4. The best reason? You can make money doing it!

I bet you already knew all of that, but it’s nice to be reminded.

One very last thing before we get started:

Creating your own blog can take a little while, probably up to 30 minutes. So grab yourself a coffee or juice (whatever you fancy) and let’s get stuck in. If you need any help during the set-up process, get in touch with me here and I’ll help as best I can and answer any questions you might have).

 

The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide

There’s five main steps you need to go through in order to set up a blog. If you follow this guide and the five steps, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less. It’s nowhere near as difficult as setting up a website from scratch (there’s very little technical ability needed here). In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Good news, huh?

The Five Steps to Starting a Blog:

  • Choose your preferred blogging platform
  • Choose whether you want to self-host and a paid domain, or get a free blog
  • Setting up a blog on your own domain (if you choose self-hosting and a custom domain)
  • Designing your blog (the fun bit!)
  • Useful resources for blogging

So, we made it. Phew. Better late than never! So, without further ado, let’s jump into step 1.

 

Step 1 – Choose your preferred blogging platform

Choosing where you want to build blog is pretty much the first thing you have to do. I’m going to take a leap and assume you’ve heard of WordPress, and this is the platform I advocate. It’s massive. It’s by far one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world, with countless plugins and add-ons and almost infinite ways to design and layout your blog.

There are more than 82 million active users using WordPress = a lot, basically.

wordpress

There are other alternatives however, and they are listed below:

  • Blogger – Definitely the next best thing to WordPress.
  • Tumblr – Half social network, half blog. Interesting, and very simple to use.

Even though WordPress is bigger (and probably better) than those two, here are my reasons why you should still go with WordPress:

  1. Super easy set-up.
  2. Tons of free themes and layouts (I’m not kidding, there’s gazillions).
  3. There’s a massive support forum in case you get stuck (you won’t, but it’s nice to have it there if you need it).
  4. Your blog will be insanely fast and it’ll also look Functionality and form – perfect!
  5. People can interact with you easily. Your content can be shared, commented on, and so on.

Here’s an article about different blogging platforms (including WordPress), give it a read: How to Choose a Blogging Platform – (updated 2015)

Now, Step 2 (see, we’re moving fast now!)

 

Step 2 – Self-hosting or a free alternative?

Whoa, slow down there! This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make before we go any further. You need to decide whether to pay for your blog or grab a free one.

WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger all offer free blogs for anyone. Awesome, right? It’s perfect for those of us who aren’t super serious about blogging. But it does have downsides:

1) You won’t be able to get your OWN domain name

On a free blog, your blog’s web address (your URL) will be butt-ugly. Like, really ugly. In short, create a free blog with any other the above free blogs and it’ll look like this:

  • yourblog.wordpress.com
  • yourblog.blogspot.com
  • yourblog.tumblr.com

I know, ugly right?

2) Limits and more limits

There are some limits to free blogs. You can’t fully monetize it, and you don’t have the possibility to upload all those videos and images you want to show everyone – it’s all limited. Worse still, you won’t even have access to the free themes offered by WordPress.

3) You DON’T OWN your blog

It might sound silly at first, but you don’t actually own your blog. It’s hosted on someone else’s web property and they can delete it if they want so. They have done so in the past, and keep doing it in the future. Which means all your hard work on your blog, all those countless hours of writing blog posts might be vanished within seconds. Sad…

 

On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog on your own domain name – you are the REAL owner of your blog. You’ll be able to name your blog whatever you want, for example “YourName.com” or “YourAwesomeBlog.com. You can end it with .com, .co.uk, .net, .org, or virtually any other web suffix. Add to that unlimited bandwidth for videos, images and content plus the free themes and you have a winning combo.

So how much is hosting and a domain name? Not as much as you’re thinking, fortunately. It usually works out to about $4 per month, depending on your hosting provider. Any more than that, and you’re getting robbed.

If you still have questions, here’s some further information for you to look at:

 

Step 3 – Start a blog on your own domain (if you chose self-hosting and a custom domain)

wordpress blogging platform

I’m going to push ahead based on the premise you’ve chosen WordPress, and if you haven’t, you should. Seriously, it’s the best.

If you’re still a little confused by what a self-hosted blog is, allow me to explain and how you can go about setting one up for yourself.

You’ll need to come up with a domain name you like and also choose a hosting company that can host your blog.

  • Domain: The domain is basically the URL of your website. Examples: google.com (Google.com is the domain), Facebook.com (Facebook.com is the domain). See? Simple!
  • Hosting: Hosting is basically the company that puts your website up on the internet so everyone else can see it. Everything will be saved on there. Think of it as a computer hard-drive on the internet where your blog will be saved.

 

Personally, I use iPage (for my blog domain and hosting), and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about it. It’s probably one of the cheapest (less than $3 a month) hosting providers out there. A domain name will cost around $12 a year, but with iPage they throw that in for free :). Big smiles for that! They’re the providers I use for all of my blogs, including the one you’re reading right now.

For any odd reason you don’t want to go with iPage, feel free to choose your own hosting company. Most, if not all of them, should have “one-click” WordPress install on the admin panel.

That button will automatically install WordPress on your blog. Did I say it was simple or what?

All you need to do is sign up with iPage (or your chosen provider), choose your hosting plan and a domain name and look for the one-click WordPress install button on the admin panel.

Website essentials aren’t often needed, but I’d recommend whois privacy (that will keep all your details private) and definitely automated backups (this’ll save your website just in case anything fails or disappears, so you won’t lose any or very little of your blog).

Once WordPress is installed on your website, all you have to do to start blogging is go to www.yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin and start writing by adding a new post.

At the start, the layout looks confusing, but it gets very understandable quickly. Don’t worry!

 

Step 4 – Designing your WordPress blog

Now, the fun bit. Let’s make your blog look exactly how you want it to. To choose a new theme, you can either head to Appearance > Themes or you can head to a premium theme website like ThemeForest.net.

I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customise. WordPress also has this awesome feature that allows you to change themes with just a few clicks. So if you start getting tired of your current blog template, you can just switch to another one without losing any precious content or images.

choose-blog-theme

Remember, your blog’s design should reflect both you and your personality, but also what the blog is about. There’s no point having a football-orientated theme if your blog is about tennis, understand?

On top of that, it should be easy to navigate if you want people to stick around. If it’s tricky and difficult to move around it, people won’t stay. Design is a subjective art; meaning everyone likes different things.

But no one likes ugly websites, and they especially hate websites that need a university degree to navigate. Make it easy for them.

For more reading, I’ve put together 3 blog posts about designing your blog. Feel free to check them through.

Last step! Woo!

 

Step 5 – Useful Resources For Beginner Bloggers

Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.

These articles may help you avoid some of the growing pains when it comes to your first blog – enjoy!:

 

And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your initial blog set up should now be finished and ready to go, and all that should have been really damn easy (unlike my first time, lucky you!).

If by some unfortunate chance you get stuck or have any questions for me, just get in touch with me or leave a comment below. I’ll help you out with any problems.

Enjoy your new blog!

70 Responses

  1. Usman October 25, 2014 / 1:41 am

    WordPress is best instead of blogger & tumbler. If someone want fame so must be an unique brand. BTW Thanks.

    • superk February 10, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      This is really helpful. I hope it is easy. Cant wait to start this weekend.

    • Micahel April 13, 2015 / 4:26 pm

      Afternoon, First great ideas. However I have my up and running and I am having a hard time getting followers or readers. Any suggestions?

      • Jessica Knapp April 15, 2015 / 2:53 am

        The best thing I ever did to get traffic was to promote my early blog posts on social media (Twitter/Facebook) and forums I was a member of… Once your blog has been around a few months you will start to see some trickles of traffic from search engines.

  2. Dickson October 25, 2014 / 7:31 pm

    Thanks for the Advise and data. It’s useful for me as a new blogger. Finally I choose WordPress self hosted as per your recommendation.

  3. Daniel October 27, 2014 / 2:41 am

    Very useful information for me :)
    I’m going to set up my blog ASAP!

  4. Cathy C. October 27, 2014 / 1:52 pm

    such a helpful site!! I will definitely use your tips when I set up my blog soon!! thank you!

  5. Ryan November 6, 2014 / 7:46 am

    Thanks for this article. By the way, would it be okay if I start blogging with a free account and decide later on hosting the blog? Will the transition be easy enough to migrate from a free account to a paid one? Hope you could shed light on the query. Thank you.

    • Jessica Knapp November 7, 2014 / 8:31 am

      Yeah, it’s pretty easy. I’m planning to launch a tutorial on how to move from free WordPress to self-hosted WordPress as well. Just drop me a line once you want to do that.
      Jessica

  6. Christine November 6, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    As a newbie, I mean a real newbie, I so appreciate your information. I’m moving forward with my blog this weekend. Scared but EXCITED! Thank you!

  7. Abdi November 7, 2014 / 8:13 am

    Salam.
    Can we shift from free hosting to self hosting? Like will all the content be lost or it can be transferred

    • Jessica Knapp November 7, 2014 / 8:30 am

      If you go with WordPress.com – then yeah, you can make the switch later on. It isn’t much complicated :)
      But if you are thinking seriously about starting a blog then I suggest you to try the self-hosted option. It’s much more better.
      Jessica

  8. Jerrika Rae Pardubsky November 9, 2014 / 11:17 pm

    I’m Newbie! Scared to start, but I’ll go through it :D

  9. m November 12, 2014 / 5:12 pm

    Hi i am looking into starting a blog. I am based in England so would there be extra costs added onto monthly fee? Thanks

  10. walter November 13, 2014 / 6:59 am

    This guide would definitely help me through. Thanks for that.

  11. TJ November 15, 2014 / 11:34 pm

    Thank you so much. Finally a short and straightforward tutorial that helped me through this process.

  12. Jen November 17, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    This is exactly what I needed! Thank you. Thinking of starting but don’t want to tell peeps just yet, just in case it flops

  13. Margo November 17, 2014 / 10:10 pm

    I signed up with iPage, acquired my domain, benbrookcottage.com. I cannot find a one click install button for WordPress on the cPanel for iPage. Any advice? Thanks so much.

    • Margo November 18, 2014 / 2:35 am

      got it, iPage has a link Softaculous to click, then WordPress is there, thank you

  14. Michelle November 21, 2014 / 8:45 pm

    I’m kind of confused. If I want to do the self hosting and custom domain, I start with iPage…and then still end up using WordPress to create my page, right?

  15. Anna November 30, 2014 / 3:22 am

    Thhanks for the info!!!;) U Rock!!!

  16. Cathy November 30, 2014 / 10:15 am

    I am wondering if you start off with the free wordpress version, can you later switch it to the paid version?

    • Jessica Knapp January 15, 2015 / 7:55 am

      Hi Cathy,

      Yes you can make the switch later (however, it’s a bit complicated for someone who is not tech savvy). If you are serious about blogging, I suggest you to go with self-hosted option right away.
      Jess

  17. Christopher Figueroa January 6, 2015 / 7:07 am

    This is very useful information for me as a beginner blogger. I figured to try blogging as a project while working on my MBA program online this year. I haven’t finished publishing my blog site yet. Still checking out some tips and advice prior to publishing. A bit nervous but after reading other new bloggers helps build my confidence. Hopefully I get the nerves to publish by end of January. As you mentioned, I ended up using WordPress.

  18. Alex B January 6, 2015 / 10:34 am

    This is quite helpful

  19. Vivian January 8, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    Thank you very helpful

  20. Mary January 8, 2015 / 9:42 pm

    Is there ways to change things like your blog name or domain name? I m considering starting a blog but I am not sure what I want to do it on just yet. I have many passions but I need to decide if/how I want to do the whole blogging thing lol.

    • Jessica Knapp January 15, 2015 / 7:53 am

      Hi Mary,

      You can change your blog any time you want. However, you won’t be able to change a domain name – only if you buy another one. So choose wisely :)
      Jess

  21. Lauren January 10, 2015 / 8:35 pm

    Help! I have a question..
    When signing up for a wordpress blog account, a user has the option to self-host..
    Do I choose this or do I go to iPage to start up my domain and blog? I’m a bit confused about this

    • Jessica Knapp January 15, 2015 / 7:52 am

      Hi Lauren,

      Great question! I suggest you to install WordPress via iPage because if you decide to go self-hosted directly from WordPress.com – it will cost a lot more. That’s the main reason I’m suggest people iPage (to save some money).
      Jess

  22. Raymond January 13, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    Can I have a blog with multiple and diverse topics? Sort of varying chapters of interest.

    • Jessica Knapp January 15, 2015 / 7:51 am

      Yes, you can. Just make separate categories for them.
      Jess

  23. Keri January 16, 2015 / 8:40 am

    I am very new to all of this and was wondering if you could explain to me how the money is earned? Say for instance I set up a blog and start blogging how do you earn from it and “who” is cutting the checks, and how often are you paid?

  24. Melis January 18, 2015 / 11:17 am

    Thank you for this information and responding to the comments. This has been incredibly helpful!

  25. Lola January 19, 2015 / 4:38 pm

    This is the most helpful and simp,e guide to blogging i have come across. Thanks a lot! I am very new to blogging and also very curious about how to earn money from blogging. I am looking forward to your post about this.

    Thanks a lot!

  26. James king January 19, 2015 / 8:05 pm

    Hi, so I’ve been thinking about writing a book about my personal experience with adultery and how this was the worst mistake I’ve ever made and I have made many. In June 2008 my now ex wife became pregenant with our second child but the previous month she introduced me to Facebook. That was the beginning of the end. To make a long story short my ex wife and a woman I met on Facebook both gave birth to my 2 daughters 51 days apart. The blog I want to start will hopefully help other men not be as self destructive as myself.

  27. Rahul Yadav January 20, 2015 / 9:03 am

    I think Blogspot is not a great platform compared to WordPress : less functions, less intuitive, … The competition is really hard regarding blog platforms!

  28. Alicia January 20, 2015 / 11:49 am

    I would like to set up a blog for a friend’s business. Do you suggest I self-host or plug into their existing web hosting provider? Also, since the company is established by name, do you think it matters if the blog has its own domain name or not. It will be integrated onto the existing website. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks also of this great tutorial!

  29. Jean January 21, 2015 / 2:42 pm

    If I start with a blog that is NOT self-hosted, can I transfer/upgrade to a self-hosted one later on (once I know I really like blogging…) or would I lose all my content doing that?

    • Jessica Knapp January 21, 2015 / 4:38 pm

      Hi Jean,

      Yes, you can do that if you got a free WordPress.com solution. However, if you are serious about blogging, it’s wise to start off with a self-hosted option right away :)
      Jess

  30. Rahul Yadav February 7, 2015 / 7:21 am

    Thanks so much for this… it’s nice to read over this again and feel good that you’re doing the right things! :)

  31. Sparky February 7, 2015 / 8:53 am

    Some good advice, thanks to some of it I now have my first blog post done :)

  32. Tony February 12, 2015 / 7:27 pm

    Your write-up has been so helpful as a journalist just wading into blogging it is my Bible. Thanks a million

  33. Nathi February 18, 2015 / 2:39 am

    Really great information, Jessica. Thank you so much.
    I’m planning to start a blog and your advice will come in very handy.
    Just one question: Can you sell ad space on a self-hosted WordPress blog? If not, which route would you suggest to go for someone who would be interested in selling ad space on their blog?

    • Jessica Knapp February 18, 2015 / 7:05 am

      Hi Nathi,

      You can definitely sell ad space on your self-hosted WordPress blog – many people are doing it. You can try buysellads.com for finding advertisers.

  34. Joe March 16, 2015 / 7:43 am

    Great list.. I have to agree with ThemeForest.. where I get all my themes.. great quality and price on themes all on one site.

  35. John March 20, 2015 / 6:08 am

    Hello Jessica

    I am a real newbie, 72 years old, I though your info was great,and will take all your teaching in, are you allowed to copy and paste stuff
    you see on the subject you interested in ?

  36. celine March 20, 2015 / 2:10 pm

    It was interesting to see the diagram wheel picture in tip one with all the different domains that are used. Self-hosted WordPress seems to be the most popular. Do you think it has to do with how you can customize it the way you want the most compared to the other domains? I’m wanting to start my blog of dancing. I sincerely appreciate all of these additional ideas to get my blog started!

    • Jessica Knapp March 22, 2015 / 9:17 am

      I think the WordPress is phenomenal for 3 reasons:

      1) Quick and fast support board
      2) Easily customizable
      3) Very user-friendly

      Jess

  37. Joarder March 26, 2015 / 1:31 am

    Hi Jessica … You’ve such a nice and helpful blog. It’s a great helpful post too. I’m not experienced blogger like you and so looking for advice/suggestion from experience blogger like you.

    I’ve a blog on weebly.com and now I want it to transfer in WordPress, because it is more SEO friendly than weebly. Is it possible to transfer or do you’ve any particular suggestion on this?

  38. Gene March 30, 2015 / 4:11 pm

    Hello Jessica,

    Thank you for the info on blogging. I would like to apply it to my website and have a question.

    When I try to install WordPress, I am told that my files will be overwritten. What exactly does this mean? Will WordPress code simply be inserted into my code (html), leaving the code otherwise intact so that my pages will be displayed as before (but now with blogging capability)? Or is there more to it?

    Thanks.

    Gene

    • Jessica Knapp April 1, 2015 / 6:06 am

      Hi Gene,

      By default – iPage has “index.html” places in your root domain folder. If you overwrite it – it’ll disappear and be replaced with the WordPress index file. So basically, you just need to overwrite it.

      Jess

  39. gretchen April 7, 2015 / 6:36 pm

    Hi. Thank you for your informative post. I’m still looking for the best (least expensive or free) value to use my own domain (not with wordpress.com or the like in the domain name). If you’ve included this information somewhere, I have missed it. I also didn’t see it on the comparison chart? I’m sure it’s probably there, but maybe worded differently…?
    Thank you again.

    • Jessica Knapp April 8, 2015 / 2:51 am

      Hi Gretchen

      You can use your own domain name on a platform such as Tumblr for free but as you are on their platform you will be restricted to the types of content you can produce, the types of advertisements you can host and it is difficult to move to a self hosted WordPress environment later down the line.

      In this guide I recommend iPage hosting for beginner bloggers as it only costs a a few dollars per month and gives you more control over your blog, how you can make money and it’s future.

      -J

  40. Faithy April 8, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    Very Informative! great! :)
    I’ve been thinking this past few months to start my own blog.
    My problem is, I am not really good in English that’s why I am hesitating to start blogging.

  41. Radha April 13, 2015 / 9:52 pm

    Thank you for the step by step guide. ASAP I shall be opening my blog

  42. Hannah April 14, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    This is immensely helpful, thank you!

  43. `Karabo April 15, 2015 / 1:15 am

    Thank you for the information it was very helpful but I have a question on how do you earn money from it?
    Can you please elaborate on that.
    Thank you!!

  44. Luci April 18, 2015 / 12:02 am

    This was a great help thank you! I have now started my own blog!

  45. Holly April 21, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    Thanks for the good tips. I’m a newbie and haven’t started my blog yet; just reading about the basics right now. Wondering if there is a way to keep it private so it’s not accessible to the general public, but only to those who you send the link? Thanks

    • Jessica Knapp April 22, 2015 / 3:44 am

      There are settings to make your posts password protected in WordPress. Alternatively you can block search engines from finding your blog in WordPress too,

  46. Hairyscarrie@aol.com April 23, 2015 / 5:12 am

    Great info, soooooo want to get started now. Just scared no one will find me! It sounds easy, but I failed miserably with a website on 1 and 1. so will read again and start. Thank you fingers crossed.

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