Have you been wanting to create a blog but not sure how to start? Or haven’t had the time? This step by step guide will walk you through the whoooole process in 30 minutes flat.
I’ve set up (and promptly abandoned lol) many blogs in my time, so I’ve got this down to a routine now. Sit back and relax… well, there’s a bit of clicking involved. What I mean is, follow along and you’ll have your very own blog 30 minutes from now! Let’s go!
Okay, first, a few things you should know…
- I am partial to WordPress, because it’s what I know. It’s also a pretty popular blogging platform. There are other ones out there like Squarespace and Blogger, so you should check out each option and see what’s best for you. I like WordPress because it’s free, so… you know, that’s cool.
- You’ll need to spend a teeeeeny tiny bit of money to set up a professional blog. Yes, you could just setup a WordPress.com blog for free (in which case, you don’t need this tutorial), but that ain’t exactly pro. For one, you’re gonna get blogperson452.wordpress.com as your URL, and you can’t do advanced stuff like install plugins and other cool shit.
- There’s gonna be a few terms I throw around like hosting, domain, CSS, themes, plugins… don’t panic, yo. It’s really easy stuff and I’ll explain it. You got this.
OKAY LET’S START ALREADY.
Step 1: Get Web Hosting
So the first thing you need to do is get your piece of real estate on the web, otherwise known as a domain name and web hosting. For the uber beginners out there, that just means your “.com”, like mine is NerdyOrganized.com. Capiche?
So obviously it can be hard to find a good domain name that isn’t already taken. Things like JaneSmith.com are probably all gone since 1993.
Be creative. Obviously being “nerdy organized” isn’t something everyone would want for a blog name, but hey it works for me.
Related: Psst find out why I named my blog Nerdy Organized here.
If you really want to use your name for your blog or business, try a .co domain, or if you’re a super badass, one of the new TLDs (aka domain endings) like .ninja. JaneSmith.ninja seems pretty cool right?
There’s lots of research out there stating that .coms are still the best. People remember them better, and yeah it’s true, it’s the best one. BUT it does NOT mean you won’t be successful if you have something else. Just gotta make it memorable.
Anyway. Enough about that.
Let’s go and pick some web hosting and get a domain!
Often, it makes sense to buy your domain name from the same company you’re going to host your website with. It just makes it easier, one bill instead of two. So, this guide will cover it that way.
For WordPress, some popular webhosts are Bluehost and Siteground. Some people swear by Siteground, but it is a bit higher of a price point so if you’re just starting out, you might not want to spend $10-20 a month just for hosting. Bluehost starts as low as $2.95/month.
I currently host my blog with Siteground and I LOVE THEM. ❤️ They transferred my blog to their server for free and have fixed about 4 WordPress issues that have come up for me within a few hours. They weren’t issues with Siteground, just me breaking my site with plugins, but they still fixed it for free. Amazing customer service!
Anyhoo, let’s use Bluehost for this example. I know the lower price point is attractive when starting out. That’s what I did, too. 🙂
So head on over to Bluehost and click on the big green Get Started Now button.
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on your hosting plan.
If you are okay with spending around $20 per month, I would definitely recommend the WordPress hosting package, since it’s optimized for WordPress and makes your site super fast.
But, starting small with the cheapest plan for $2.95 a month is also a great option if money is an issue right now. Seriously, I ran on a plan like that for a long time before ever needing to upgrade, so you’re good.
You’ll see this screen on Bluehost’s website. So, just pick the plan you want by pressing the green Select button.
Step 2: Get Yer Domain
So then the fun part: you get to pick your domain! WOO. You’ll see this screen, so just type in the domain name you want until you find one that’s available. If it’s not available, Bluehost will tell you.
Keep trying until you find one that you like, and that’s available.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Oh hey, all done? Cool. So once you type in a domain that’s available, you’re taken to a sign up form. Just fill out yer info.
There are lots of options on the form. You can pre-pay for up to 3 years for the cheapest deal, and get add-ons like backup and privacy etc. Domain privacy is a good idea if you have the money to spend. If not, again, totally optional.
The backup thing is a waste of money in my opinion because you can download a free WordPress plugin to backup your site automatically. I mention it in my list of fave plugins which you can download right hurr (or at the end!).
Anyway, if you’re just starting out, these are the options I would pick:
Ba-da bing, enter your payment info, click Submit and you are the proud owner of a piece of virtual real estate, my friend!
Part 3: Install WordPress!
Okay, so now all the legwork is done! You’ve got a shiny new domain and a hosting plan. You’re ready to start blogging.
YES, YOU’RE READY!
The screenshots/process below is specific to the host I use, but will be similar for Bluehost and most other hosts too. Just in case you don’t see the exact same screens below, don’t panic.
Most web hosts have what’s called a 1 Click Install for WordPress. Installing WordPress the “manual way” really isn’t hard at all, so don’t worry if your host doesn’t have this. You can find instructions on how to install in the manual way here.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume your host has 1 Click Install! You can find this in your Control Panel, sometimes abbreviated to “CPanel.”
So… click it.
Then your host will send you to a page like this, to pick what domain to install WordPress on. Select the one you want (if you have multiple domains) and click the green Check Domain button.
On the next screen, take a second to click on Advanced Options so you can fill in your own username and password, otherwise it gives you a stupid password you’ll never remember. Lol.
Then just click Install Now and you’re off to the races. It will tell you when it’s done. Then you have a brand new WordPress blog!
When it’s finished installing, you can go to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin to login.
Step 4: Customize Your Blog
Now the fun begins. I’ll cover a few things below to get you started, but really most of it from here on out is just setting up your blog to look the way you like it, and then writing some posts. Then you’re off to the races.
I’m going to cover:
- A Basic Dashboard Tour
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- Basic Theme Customization
I even have a handy list of my MUST HAVE + FREE favourite plugins for bloggers and business owners. Woot.
Basic WordPress Dashboard Tour
So once you log in to your blog (psst hint, you can login at http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/), you’ll see a screen like this:
Along the left side, you can see all your options. Obviously things are pretty self-explanatory here. Posts takes you to the area where you can write posts, Pages does the same for Pages.
Real rocket science shit here.
Here are a few of the key sections you should go into and set the options the way you like it now:
- Settings -> General: It’s a good idea to set the name and tagline for your site, even just for SEO purposes.
- Settings -> Reading: This is really important! This page determines if your website displays blog posts on the homepage (meaning, when you first land on the site), or if another page is the first thing people see. As well as some other helpful settings like how many posts people see, and so on.
How to Install A Theme
You can get tons of free, or paid, themes for WordPress. It’s part of what makes it so popular for bloggers, because there are literally thousands of options out there so you can create a site that looks totally unique.
A few of my favourite places to find paid themes are Themeforest and Creative Market.
If you’re not ready to put money down on a fancy theme at the moment, there are lots of free options too.
Bluchic has some really popular paid themes, and offers a few for free too. One of my favourite free themes is Estelle – it’s super customizable, and chic.
You can also Google things like “best blog free WordPress themes 2017” and stuff to find lists of cool themes to try out.
Anyway, let’s pretend you’ve picked a theme. For the sake of this example, we’re going to use Bluchic’s Estelle FREE theme. You can grab it here.
So, just click on Appearance -> Themes in your WordPress menu.
At the top, click Add New.
Then click Upload Theme.
When you download a theme, it will include a .zip file. This is where you want to upload that. Pick “estelle.zip” (or whatever your theme is) and click upload. It might take a minute or so to upload the theme, depending how big the file is.
Once it’s done, you’ll see this screen:
Click Activate to use it. That’s it! Now your blog is using that theme.
However, usually when you activate a new theme, it may not look exactly how you want it to. No problem – there are some really easy ways to customize it without having to know code or anything like that.
Basic Theme Customization
WordPress has a built in Customizer that lets you change things in your theme without having to know any code. It’s pretty sweet.
So just click on Appearance -> Customize to get started.
Your screen will look like this. You can click the various options on the left to change settings. When you like what you’ve done, click Save and Publish at the top.
Play around with it! You might find that you want to make some changes you’re not sure how to. In that case, Google is your best friend if you’re a bit techy.
If you’d rather stay completely out of coding ANYTHING, I recommend hiring a WordPress developer to help you make the changes you want.
If you need a WordPress developer, I highly recommend Shaylee Smith! She’s punctual, knows her stuff, and always gives you a quote before beginning. Check her out.
HEY GUESS WHAT?
You’re now a blogger.
How does it feel?
If you’ve never used WordPress or blogged before, I know it can be a bit overwhelming. I promise you’ll get used to it in no time, and be loving it even sooner.
Want to add some OOMPH to your blog? Download my list of favourite FREE WordPress plugins to get yourself to the next level, fast.
Whenever I start a new blog (which I hope is never again because I finally discovered what I like to write about… this kinda stuff!), I ALWAYS install these. Can’t live without ‘em.
One of ‘em is even a GREAT substitute for Leadpages if you can’t afford that right now, but still wanna make awesome landing pages. WOOT.
WordPress is a big deal, and there’s lots you can do with it. While this post is a super basic overview of getting started, there’s plenty of great resources out there for diving deeper.
Here are some websites I recommend you check out if you want to learn even more about WordPress, blogging, plugins, etc!
Did this guide help you? I’d love to hear if you set up a new blog using this tutorial… If you did, drop your link in the comments below!
Free Resource Library
Just started a blog? Congrats, you!! You may find my library of free resources for bloggers and online creators useful, so just signup below to access all the freebies inside. Woot.