⏳ Short on time? Here’s my recommendation (March 2023):
If you want to start a blog I recommend using WordPress.org it is an open-source blogging platform for serious bloggers.
You can be blogging in a few minutes with 1-click WordPress install provided by Hostgator.
– Guide by Jessica Knapp (updated February 22nd 2023)
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) all the way back in 2006, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. In fact, it was only the week before I’d learned what a blog was.
Now I know a ton about them, and my blog’s doing pretty well – I receive more than 300,000 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.
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps
There are 5 steps you need to do in order to start a blog in under 30 minutes:
- Choose a blog platform (I recommend WordPress)
- Choose a domain name & web host for your blog
- How to Set up a blog on your own domain
- Design your new blog
- Write great content to start a blog your audience loves.
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 build a blog.
Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.
- 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!).
- It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
- You become a better person and a better writer.
- 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).
Disclosure: This guide to starting your own blog contains some affiliate links. If you purchase any service through one of these links I may earn a small commission, this is at no extra cost to you.
The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide
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?
How to Start a Successful Blog in 5 Steps
As I mentioned earlier there are just 5 main steps you need to do in order to start a blog. If you follow this guide exactly, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less.
- Choose a great blog platform
- Choose a web host for your blog
- How to Set up a blog on your own domain
- Design your new blog
- Write great content to start a blog your audience loves.
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 of WordPress = a lot, basically.
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:
- Super easy set-up and is free to use
- Tons of free themes and layouts (I’m not kidding, there are gazillions).
- 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).
- Your blog will be insanely fast and it’ll also look Functionality and form – perfect!
- 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 for 2023)
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 blog services and it’ll look like this:
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 to. 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 have 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 $5 to $10 per month, depending on your hosting provider which is less than a couple of coffees.
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)
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.
Disclosure: I recommend using Hostgator for web hosting. If you click through one of my links and make a purchase, I will receive a commission, which helps me keep bloggingbasics101.com up and running.
Personally, I use Hostgator (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 per month) hosting providers out there. A domain name will cost around $10-15 a year, but with Hostgator, you can get that for FREE first year.
If you do sign up with Hostgator be sure to use the coupon code BB101 as this will unlock the maximum discount they offer on all their hosting packages.
:). Big smiles for that!
They’re the providers I use for all of my blogs, including the one you’re reading right now.
If for any reason you don’t want to go with Hostgator, feel free to choose your own hosting company. Most, if not all of them, should have a “one-click” WordPress install solution on their 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 Hostgator (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.
If you are getting stuck at any point this guide may help as it has screenshots.
WordPress essentials aren’t often needed, but I’d recommend whois privacy (that will keep all your personal details private) and definitely automated backups (that’ll save your website just in case anything fails or disappears so you won’t lose any or very little of your blog).
Start a Blog with Hostgator today and get an exclusive 60% discount with coupon BB101
Once WordPress is installed on your website, all you have to do to start blogging is go to your WP-Admin page usually 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 and install a free WordPress theme or you can head to a premium theme website like ThemeForest.net and buy a theme for around $40.
I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customize. 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.
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. After all 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.
- Blog Design: Keep It Clutter Free and User-Friendly
- Advice for Blog Design and Blog Goals
- Is there any software I can use to make my own graphics, button, and banner?
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!:
- 5 Beginning Blogging Mistakes You Can Fix
- Choosing a Blogging Niche
- 7 Ways to Boost your success as a Blogger
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 you are having any problems installing WordPress on Hostgator then this guide may help.
If by some unfortunate circumstance you get stuck or have any questions for me about how to create a blog, just get in touch with me or leave a comment below. I’ll help you out with any problems.
Enjoy your new blog!
Start a Blog with Hostgator today and get an exclusive discount of 60% with coupon code BB101
Hi Jess, I already own a free hosted blog on wordpress because as a student I don’t really have enough money to get self hosting due to the yearly payment. right now I can’t activate Adsense and it’s being restrictive.
I really want my blog to stand alone.
Hostgator charge for a minimum of 12 months up front.
Wow, I thought everything was going to be much more difficult before I started my research this morning.
I’m so pleased I selected your tutorial first. I am currently supporting our corporate instructional design team by assisting with quality review of training materials being developed for a number of large corporate clients. I know instructional design and find your writing and organization of content top notch!
I will be a constant visitor as I begin to set up my personal blog. I plan to launch next month as part of a fresh start to the new year.
Thank you and happy holidays!
Starting a blog is the start of opening new opportunities online. It may not be easy because crafting a blog’s content is challenging with all the the writing original and personalize content but in the end it is worth the hard work.
Thanks for dropping by Paul
I am a newbie, which explains why I am here. Do you think it is a good idea to start with a blogger host using the free domain they offer before purchasing a domain of your own to ensure you have what it takes to gain a decent following and that you are up for the task of maintaining a good blog?
No – you need your own domain. Moving blogs later will be very hard to do.
Very useful guide. Thanks for sharing this.
Great post, blogging is hard. We run a travel blog and I think the most important thing we tell people is to travel with a purpose, Do not just wander around the world aimlessly. (Like ours is to experience and document the Top 100 Travel Adventures) So many travel blogs do not really have a purpose or a niche. Niche is key and many miss out on that because they want to cover and do it all. Do not just start a blog because you think you will get rich quick and be able to travel the world. It takes a lot of work and lots of time.
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experiences.
Great article about blogging. This is very helpful. I have been blogging about fashion for my Apparel Search website for many years, but have not received much traction for the efforts. Hopefully your suggestions will be of help. Even though I post often and I think with helpful information for people interesting in clothing, I don’t seem to gain any followers. After several years, I have people reading the blogs, but no followers and not many people posting comments. Rather frustrating, but I will continue my efforts. Anyway, thank you for your post and hopefully it helps me and others improve our blogging.
Hi Jessica, this article gives me hope that I can start a blog. I’ve started the biggest journey of my life of taking my health back. I felt it would be great to track all of this with pictures, videos and articles.
You’ve answered some great questions and attached a good article about the different pros and cons of which company to use. When I actually sit down to start, I will likely have questions to ask.
Thanks so much.
Thanks for the in-depth guide, Jessica. I’ve been blogging since 2009. The journey has been great thus far. What do you recommend for monetization apart from Adsesne.
I think the best thing is to think about what works for you and your audience. If you are happy to invest the time then coaching and your own info products can be highly lucrative. As can affiliate marketing.
Wonderful summary for someone like me who isn’t especially tech savvy 🙂 thanks a lot! Nice and simple
Very useful and well written. This helped me a lot in my new motivational blog.
Wow! This is great post. I am glad that I found out this post. I will apply these things and share with other was well. SO, that can start blog as well.
I love to write! I usually write my thoughts in a journal or I doodle to entertain myself at any time.
I just recently Retired from my job and I think it would be fun to start my own blog! I guess I would say it is on the top of my Bucket List ! 🙂
I am now at the point of ..”So now what?” What will I blog about? I am with you Samantha, it’s Scary! but I want to do it!
This is a fantastic guide! Thank you so much!
All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!
Great points Jessica! You explained blogging about as well as anyone that I have read thus far. Good stuff and Thanks!
Great blogging tips for beginners, Jessica. Hope to connect and learn more in depth from you 🙂
I blog on WordPress I’m amazed at the talent for writing, read some amazing pieces
Great info on starting a blog…Your resource page is helpful as well Jessica. Thanks!
Hi! I honestly love to start a blog because almost everyone in my school already doing it and Im feeling out of place but Im thinking if its too late to start up cause I dont want to stress up myself anymore
Hi! I honestly love to start a blog because almost everyone in my school already doing it and I’m feeling out of place but I’m thinking if it’s too late to start up cause I don’t want to stress up myself anymoree
I recently hit my 5 year anniversary at my current job it got me thinking about what I actually want to be doing with my life. I’ve flirted with the idea of starting a blog for a few years, but it’s scary! You mentioned that not only is blogging a great way to communicate, it can also help you to become a better person and a better writer. I love a good opportunity to better myself, and I think I might have to give it a try!
I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now and had some queries. This helped me a lot . Thank you so much 🙂
Boom! I just loved this one. It’s awesome.
Great article, yes I do agree that WordPress.org (self-hosted) is the best methods to start a blog and website these days. It has darn near become industry standard. Heck, you have major corporations transferring their sites over to WordPress. The reputation, flexibility, capability, tools and ease-of-use that it offers makes it a winner!
What great insights you have given us–thank you Jessica!!
I am a beginning blogger and not well stocked with images. I do not want to plagiarize any photos. Where can I find free images to use? Where can I purchase images at reasonable prices?
Thank you for your encouragement and help!!
There are lots of stock photo sites that offer royalty free images under a creative commons license.
Try pixabay.com, they have a good range of freebies to get you going, try also, as a newbie, keyword research, this will be critical to your early success, no matter what you want to talk about, there’s a ton of video’s online, worth investing some time before you get going!
Heres my suggestion: Before you start a blog, make sure you have some ideas what to write about. If you dont have any think about your hobbies or things youre passionate about. This helped me to find my niche/topic for my blog.
Awesome guide, by the way.
What an amazing and well written article.
I agree to your thoughts and also think that the personal touch in a blog is an essential factor and that comes when the blog owner is really passionate about providing content and helping others.
I am choosing WordPress for my blog.
Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing. I’m blogging about healthy food. I’ve been trying put traffic to my newly blog for months into no avail. The only thing that get me from stale mate point is that I’ve performed some serious keyword expansion. I’ve got help from support guys from the SEO tool I’ve been using. Now I know how to rank well for as many relevant keywords as possible and it did miracles to by blog. The tool calls SERPstat and the guy were awesome. Thanks for this post. And huge thanks for the guys who helped me. I’m starting to believe that if you put efforts into something, the universe will oblige)
I have to agree with you and also put some emphasis on uniqueness. The most successful blogs today are definitely those that have an individual personal twist. People love new content and the more unique the likelihood that it will be shared more and draw in more people.
Thanks for sharing
Absolutely agree with you Gary. Be Unique, be yourself – I often find it easier when I sit down to blog to think about writing for one person.
Sometimes that can be a reader who has sent me a question, other times I might think of a friend or family member who needs some help.
I live in Germany and will like to start blogging career.
My question is can i use Hostgator as web host or do i have to use anyone from Germany
You can use any hosting company you want as long as they offer PHP or WordPress hosting.
This start a blog tutorial highlights Hostgator as I find they are very cheap for complete beginners to test the water with.