Do you want to start a blog? If so – you’re in the right place.
In this post I want to walk you through the basics of how to start a blog, and while I do, I want to answer some of the basic technical questions that many pre-bloggers need to answer to get their first blog up and running.
There are many reasons to start a blog, but the challenge that faces all aspiring bloggers (including me back in 2002) is: how to start a blog?
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5 Easy Steps
There are a few simple steps that you will need to complete to start your blog:
- Choose your blogging platform
- Secure a domain name and get hosting in place with SiteGround
- Configure your blog
- Design your blog
- Start creating useful content that serves readers
Below I’ll walk you through how I’d approach each step if I were to start a blog and suggest further reading that will be helpful on other important questions like: choosing a niche, finding readers for your blog, building community with your blog, and thinking about how to make money from it, etc.
My hope is that this step-by-step starting guide will help you to start your first blog. For more in-depth instruction about “How to Start a Blog” consider enrolling in ProBlogger’s FREE Ultimate Guide to Start a Blog Course.
Step 1: Choose a Blogging Platform
To start a blog you’ll need to select a blogging platform – or a tool that helps you to get your content up onto the web.
There are many blogging platforms available but in my mind the choice is clear and simple. I would set up straight away on a WordPress.org site, and I highly recommend you do too.
WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform and for good reason –
- It is free to use (although you do need to make a small investment in a domain and a server – more on that below)
- It is easy to set up
- It has been around for many years and is a robust and secure system (although you do need to keep it up-to-date to maintain security)
- It has a whole industry of tool providers, designers and developers around it that will help you to customise your blog in many ways
Keep in mind that WordPress offer two tools:
- WordPress.com – where they host your blog, look after the back end, and give you access to have it on their own domain. It’s free to start but, you pay to upgrade different elements of it.
- WordPress.org – where you have complete control and host the blog on your own server, your own domain and have complete control over how it looks, operates and how you can monetise it. It is completely free to use but you need to arrange your own hosting, domain etc.
WordPress.com is easier to set up and means you don’t need to keep upgrading versions of WordPress but it gives you less control over your design, how you monetise and what features you can add. WordPress.com is free to start with but depending upon what upgrades you want to get it can end up being just as expensive as WordPress.org.
My recommendation is to go with WordPress.org – you’ll have a little more work in the setting up phase (I’ll walk you through it below) but in the long run you’ll have full control over the look, feel, features and monetization of your site. It could end up cheaper for you too!
I know some of you are probably searching for advice on how to start a blog for free and so my advice to invest a little in a WordPress.org blog might not be exactly what you’re looking to hear because there are some small costs associated with it – but you’ll be better off in the long run and as you’ll see below the expense is not great.
Step 2: Secure a Domain Name and Set Up Your Blog Hosting
I recommend using SiteGround for getting both your domain and hosting set up.
Choose a Domain
For the next step of starting your blog you’ll need a domain name (your blog’s address) so that you have a home for your blog online. Here on ProBlogger my domain name is www.problogger.com – every blog needs its own domain, so it can be easier said than done to find one that isn’t taken!
For the sake of this article I just want to talk about how to technically get your domain – but there are a few other factors to consider including:
- The Human perspective – readability of your domain, the ease of it to say and remember, etc
- The Brand perspective – uniqueness, what the domain says about you
- The SEO perspective – choosing a domain with good keywords can help your site rank higher in Google
- The Legal perspective – copyright and trademark factors
We cover all four of these areas in our post 4 Things to Consider when Choosing Your Domain Name. I would highly recommend reading that post before you go out and grab a domain.
Depending upon where you get your domain and which domain you choose, a domain isn’t a super-expensive thing to secure – but it will cost you at least a few dollars a year.
Set Up Your Blog Hosting with SiteGround
Perhaps the simplest way to get your domain is to do so with the same place that you get your blog hosted. My recommendation for you is SiteGround.
SiteGround is one of the leading WordPress hosting providers, recommended by WordPress.org. They have built a great reputation for top-rated 24/7 customer service and support, bundled with an all-inclusive list of services and solutions crafted for WordPress specifically.
Step 3: Set Up Your Blog
If you’ve gone with SiteGround as your domain and hosting provider, installing WordPress is super simple. In fact SiteGround have created a simple video overview of how easy it is to do:
And in this longer video tutorial Svetoslav Stamatov, Customer Care Manager at SiteGround, takes us through the journey of Client Area Setup Wizard and show how exactly how to launch your site with SiteGround!
If you have any trouble during this process, they have a live chat support system which enables you to ask questions of their support team.
Note: If you run into trouble WordPress have an installing WordPress page too here.
Once you’ve completed this process, you now have a WordPress blog installed! You started a blog! Congratulations – you’re almost there!
Step 4: Configure and Design Your Blog
If this is your first experience of WordPress you might be looking at the dashboard and wondering what you’ve done by installing it – it feels overwhelming doesn’t it!
Don’t worry – you’ll pick this up in no time and just need a good walk through!
Configuring your blog
Luckily the team at Siteground have put together some very informative video tutorials that will help you with becoming used to WordPress and also setting things up to make your blog look and operate just right.
In this second video tutorial Francesca Marano, WordPress Community & Partnership Manager at SiteGround steps through a bit more detail about how to create a basic site, build a page or post, and make some fundamental WordPress configurations.
Designing your blog
Another thing you’ll want to do now is to think about your blog’s design. First impressions count for a lot so you’ll want one that says something about the type of brand you’re trying to create and that helps you stand out in the crowded blogosphere.
Siteground have a curated collection of pre-made website design ‘themes’ for you to choose from ‘straight out of the box’. However, you may also want to think about about upgrading to a ‘premium theme’ for your blog.
While there are many thousands of free themes out there, this is an area that it can be well worth investing in.
Last time we surveyed ProBlogger readers, we found that most ProBlogger readers agree with this, and have premium themes as the basis of their blog designs. While they will cost you to buy, if you get one from a reputable source they’ll be secure, fast, have good search engine optimisation, will be designed for mobile as well as desktop, and be easy to install and customise.
>> Podcast: How to Decide on a WordPress Theme for Your Blog with graphic designer and developer Kelly Exeter
The premium theme supplier that I have used over the years and highly recommend is StudioPress (aff). I’ve used their themes in the early days of numerous blogs and love their design but also support.
If you’re looking for a really easy solution, check out the new StudioPress Sites, a fully hosted, all-in-one WordPress website builder that will give you:
- The Genesis Framework – Industry Standard Design Framework that makes WordPress easier, without sacrificing power or flexibility
- 20 Mobile-Optimized HTML5 Designs – sleek professional designs that provide beautiful frames for your content
- Fast Loading Cloud Performance – cloud infrastructure that’s optimized specifically for peak WordPress performance
- Zero “Hosting” Hassles – with a fully hosted website that will grow with you and your website traffic
- One-Click Install of Included Plugins – Never wonder which plugins are trustworthy, thanks to your StudioPress Site’s repository of one-click solutions for the functionality you desire.
- Rock-Solid Security
- Advanced SEO Functionality
- Automatic Plugin and Theme Maintenance – Many WordPress site owners spend $$$ every month to have an outside service keep things updated and safe.
- World-Class Support – friendly support team standing by 24/7
To be honest – the design part of setting up a blog is the bit I find hardest. It is definitely possible to do it 100% yourself (and there are many tutorials around that will help you learn the skills to do it) but for 99.9% of new bloggers a theme that you tweak is the way to go.
The other option if you’re super serious is to hire a designer to do a custom design for you. But that is likely to cost you some significant cash to get a reputable designer and so a them is probably the best place to start.
Don’t stress too much in the early days – we all start with a design that we later look back on and cringe a little at. The main thing is to get set up and evolve from there. My key tip is to choose a simple, classic and clean design that you can add a simple logo to to make it a bit more individual and then get on with blogging!
Step 5: Start creating useful content that serves readers
OK – hopefully by now you’ve got your domain, hosting, have installed WordPress and have your theme installed. You have started a blog… but you’re not a blogger until you start creating some content for your blog!
I can’t really tell you what to write on your blog for your first post – because it is something that will vary a lot from blogger to blogger – but I’ll share some links below that might help give you some starting points.
What I can point you to is a couple of helpful videos from our friends at Bluehost again.
There are two types of content that you are able to create for your blog in WordPress – ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’.
Pages are the ‘static’ pages on your blog that won’t really change that much but which you’ll link to from your menus and navigation areas on your blog. For instance here on ProBlogger my ‘About Page’ and ‘Speaking Page’ are created using a ‘page’.
Your first page should probably be an ‘About Page’ – a page which tells people about you and your blog. It’s a page you’ll want to show up in your navigation area/menu and is going to get quite a few people read it to understand what you’re about as a blogger. If you need help with your About page – check out our previous post on what to include in your About Page?
Let’s start by creating an ‘About Page’ (or a ‘Home’ page as it’s called in the video below). It’s easy to do – in fact if you know how to use a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs then you should be ok!
Here’s exactly how to do that with Francesca from Siteground:
Next it is time to write your first blog post. Posts are a little different and what you’ll spend most of your time creating as a blogger – they’re where you create your regular blog posts. Posts will appear on the front page of your blog once they’re published. They usually have comments and a date to show readers when it was published.
Once again the content is going to vary a lot from blog to blog but how you get that post up onto your blog is a relatively simple process and one that you’re going to become a master at in no time!
In fact you’re going to find this process very similar to creating a ‘page’ for your blog. Here’s the section of the video from Francesca at Siteground on creating ‘posts’.
Further Guidance on Starting Your Blog
There’s a great deal more that you could read about starting a blog but the process above should get you going.
For further instruction about “How to Start a Blog” consider enrolling in ProBlogger’s FREE Ultimate Guide to Start a Blog Course, where ProBlogger founder Darren Rowse will guide you through 7 steps to start your own blog:
1. Is a blog right for you? What is your blogging purpose?
2. What will you blog about? Define your blogging niche and make sure it’s viable
3. What will you call your blog? 4 factors to consider when choosing a domain name
4. Start your blog – register your domain name, set-up hosting and install WordPress
5. Get your blog looking good – blog design and theme choices
6. Add content and functionality to your blog with WordPress
7. Blog launch checklist and bonus learning modules on email and social media
How to Kickstart Your Blog
If you’ve just started your blog and figured out all those first steps of getting your first few posts published, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Course will give you some direction in building successful foundations for a profitable blogging business.
By the end of these 31 steps, you’ll have:
- Set objectives and goals for your blog
- Identified and really understood your audience
- Learned techniques for coming up with new post ideas
- Promoted your blog in a variety of ways and found new readers
- Deepened reader engagement with current readers
- Developed an editorial calendar for your blog
- Discovered ways to be more connected to your niche/topic
- Designed a plan for the next month of your blogging
- Explored opportunities for monetizing your blog
- Clarified your next steps on the path to a blogging business
Also check out some of these articles and podcast episodes:
- What do I need to have ready before I Launch my Blog?
- 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging When I Started
- Create an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog
- How to Craft a Blog Post
- 21 Common Blogging Mistakes
- How to Make Money Blogging
Have you Started a blog?
If you’ve used this guide to start a blog I’d love to hear from you in comments below. Feel free to let us know what blog you started and how you found using this guide including how we could improve it to make the processing of getting started easier.