⏳ 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
Well done, Jessica.
A perfect intro to the otherwise complicated world of sorting through a forest of blogging
But [yep — there’s usually one…lolol] you haven’t addressed the vexed issue of “How the hell do I get folk to find my blog?” And that question, I guess, is really to do with the dreaded word ‘promotion’.
There are millions of blogs all over the internet. So after however much time and energy one spends in creating the thing it’s not much use if nobody ever finds it !
Your Words of Wisdom would be much appreciated. Many thanks.
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.
Thank you so much for the helpful tips. I have been contemplating on whether or not I should start a blog because I always found it confusing on how to setup a blog. After reading this post, I feel more confident on how I should start my blog.
First, thank you for this very helpful information. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about something. Something that can/will continue, unlike a craft project that has an end.
My decision was made today to start a blog. Actually, my mail lady is the one that mentioned it today. She put the idea in my head that I should write a book and that i was funny. If nothing else, I hope it will give me outlet to get things ‘out’. A place where I can go and be me. Not who I’m supposed to be or should be…just ME.
Pretty good stuff, Jessica. Precise and quite informative. I really need to build and run a functional blog/website. Your post on “How to start a blog -Beginner’s Guide for 2020 ” was just the impetus I needed. The newbie that I’m teetering, want you be with me in this journey. My only question for now is what is the difference between a blog and website if there are any. Thank you!
Thank you for this tips, I want to start new blog to review books and anything book related. I am scared to start and I am the type who gives up easily if they don’t succeed quickly. we will see how it will turn out.
Great write up. It’s amazing how few businesses still don’t blog. Thanks for writing an easy to follow guide to them to learn from.
Thanks for the information, very clear and simple. I will try to use it.
Such a useful content! I love when people like you make learning easier for other people. Just like you, I’m also working on my blog to teach people about making money online. I will definitely link this article in my posts.
Thank you for your tips. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog but didnt know how.
Briefly read your tips and rightaway I started one. Not too sure if it’s a great idea for me as I hv a fulltime job.
Nway, pls take a look at the site I’ve created, published my first very simple column and do feel free to share any DOs, DONTs, IMPROVEs for the site.
Appreciate your imputs.
Great article, Jessica. Love the way you write. Working my way through your article links,
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.
I was thinking am too late to be part of blogging,but thanks for your post it’s really encourage me to start soon
Good luck with your new blog
Now you can choose micro blogging to start. You can take information through youtube on micro blogging.
Thank you very much for this amazing guide. Sorry, I have not been able to come back to appreciate your good work.
I can remember vividly that I visited this blog for guide when I wanted to start “Entrepreneur Business Blog,” in 2016. Today, we generate over $1000 and we’ve been able to build another blog from there and set up a digital marketing firm.
I wish I have a better way to forward my testimonial so as to motivate someone else.
Keep it up here.
I am a writer (freelance) of print production, which as we all know, is going the way of the dinosaurs. While your tutorial was helpful, I am a dinosaur. Please send me one link (I will pay a fee, if reasonable, but I only want to pay one fee…and this tutorial leads me (I am sure, incorrectly), to believe I must pay this and that for a domain , host, etc.
I know exactly what content I want to do. Please send me one link. Thanks!
I am starting my blog, and this has been totally helpful. I’m considering to self host since I’m having troubles on having enough freedom to customise my website.
Nice beginner-friendly guide. I would add a quick tip for those who are starting their blogs.
Many bloggers spend a lot of time looking for “the best” theme and later invest even more time in its customisation. Sure, there is nothing bad about having a nice design. But…
As the majority of them are not full time bloggers, every hour more spent on the designing of the blog means one hour less for creating the content. And, using the chess terminology, if the content is king (and quality backlinks queen), the blog design is only bishop.
I always recommend to the newbies start to publish their articles as soon as possible and not spend more than 20% of the time with other tasks. Why?
Because even an ugly blog with great content can be successful. But nice blog without good content will never attract new visitors.
Great article, Jessica. Love the way you write. Working my way through your article links. Then Ill sign up to your blog.
Thanks for this post. Its really helpful and makes me wanna start blogging. In fact, I will be starting it soon(though its a bit late since 2018 is near lol). But thanks for you post. Its superly encourage me to start soon.
Good Luck with your blog Hafiz.
Thanks so much for this article and all of the links! I’ve been thinking about blogging for the past year. This year I started my Instagram page and just this week joined Twitter and Facebook as a means of (hopefully) expanding once the blog is underway. My first dilemma however, is the name! For the past four months, I have been @travelsandtantrums on IG (and the other platforms) however, I am thinking of changing that name as it began as a way of documenting our big family trip this year – I hadn’t counted on growth (as you talk about in your articles). Also, as our kids grow up, I hope that the ‘tantrums’ will subside – so, I don’t know whether to stick with what I have or to change to a more ‘family/reality’ name. It is catchy but is it relevant if we are not ‘travelling’ all the time? Hmmmmm. I’d love to know what you think!
The most important thing is choosing a name you’re going to be happy with for the next 3 years at least.
Blogs always evolve over time some of my first blogs didn’t really stick to a small set of topics after a while but it’s better to show expertise and experience in one area to begin with.