- Decide on a blog topic or theme
- Choose a blogging platform
- WordPress.Com vs. WordPress.Org
- Which one to choose?
- Start web-hosting
- 1. Choose a self-hosting provider
- 2. Pick the plan that works for you
- 3. Name your domain/website
- 4. Review, Complete, and Pay!
- 5. Install WordPress
- Customize your site
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In this day and age, it seems like everyone’s on board with the blogging train. Or at least hearing about it. As someone whose been doing it publicly for a little over a year (happy blog-anniversary to PensivePalindrome!) all I can say is I love it. From taking pictures to writing content, this is my little happy creative space. And thank you to everyone whose kept up with me this past year so far 🙂 While the idea of running your own website may sound technical or too complicated, I’m here to tell you otherwise. If you’re wondering how to start a blog, or where to even begin, look no further. Check out my guide below on how to start a blog and I’ll walk you step by step on the different options, how to set it up, and more!
How to Start a Blog: Your Complete Guide in 5 Easy Steps
Decide on a blog topic or theme
What you choose to write about is ultimately up to you. Some say since the market is over saturated so you must choose a niche. I disagree to some extent. Personally, I think blogging should be organic, and you shouldn’t feel constrain your creativity. However, to attract and retain an audience it’s a good to have an idea of a topic or certain topics and target audience. Some blogs focus on really specific topics such as vegan eating while traveling or new android applications, while others, like mine, are lifestyle blogs covering a few different categories.
Choose a blogging platform
There are many platforms, both free and paid, out there. Popular ones include WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Wix. Check out this article if you want to compare them in-depth. Without a doubt, I recommend WordPress. Not only is it the world’s most popular blogging platform, it allows for more customization and looks much cleaner compared to sites like Blogger and Tumblr. (Both of which I have run blogs on in the past as well.)
WordPress.Com vs. WordPress.Org
While these two sound almost identical there are key differences. Avoiding technical talk…WordPress.com is a free platform but lacks many bells and whistles and website features. Your domain ends with “wordpress.com”, you’re very restricted in terms of design, and the site isn’t owned by you. Thus, if something happens to WordPress or they deem something suspicious, they have the authority to shut your site down.
But what about if you’re wondering how to start a blog and have control over your space of the internet? WordPress.org is the way to go! Almost all professional, and many aspiring, bloggers use WordPress.org, including myself. In the past I’ve worked with companies and hotels, and I almost guarantee having a professional-looking site was a key factor in their decision to collaborate. And while I don’t blog full-time/for substantial income, I know I have the option without losing data.
Which one to choose?
If you’re thinking of writing strictly for personal use, aren’t interested in monetizing, or developing it into a real “website” WordPress.com would suit your needs. If you want to start earning and income or blog as a business definitely choose WordPress.org
What about if you’re somewhere in between? I started out blogging because I love to write, wanted to share my content, and have a site which reflects that. I believe self-hosting with WordPress.org is the best as it allows control over the site, design, domain, and the flexibility to monetize. Many start off as hobby bloggers, but find they love it so much they want to take it more seriously, in which case you risk data loss and the hassle to moving things over. To me, it’s worth the time and investment! Additionally, since I pay annually to keep it running, it’s a nudge to keep up writing.
Now, while “self-hosting” sound intimidating, I promise you it’s not. Keep reading and I’ll guide you on how to start a blog in just 5 steps!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a commission on products purchased through these links. I’ve been a paying customer of SiteGround for over a year to date and I only would recommend a product to my readers I’ve had a good experience using.
1. Choose a self-hosting provider
Now that you’ve decided to self host, you might be asking “what on earth actually is self-hosting?”Simply put, you’re paying to rent your piece of the internet. After doing quite a bit of research myself on how to start a blog, the different options and comparing reviews, prices, and technical quality I opted to go with SiteGround.
SiteGround is a leading web provider hosting over half a million sites. I chose them because I liked the seamless integration with WordPress and the pricing options. After using them for over a year, I can confidently recommend them. When I got started, I admit..I had very little idea what to do or even about self-hosting. I reached out to their 24/7 customer service and got in touch with a knowledgeable rep within a minute. Moreover, I’ve never had major technical issues and love how even the basic package comes with features such as a domain name and personalized blog webmail account for free, all in one place. In short the selling points for me with SiteGround, and why I chose to renew, are:
- incredible speed/uptime
- no technical difficulties
- amazing customer service
- package deals (domain, security, etc. included)
2. Pick the plan that works for you
Below are the 3 options for WordPress hosting and their respective prices! If you’re starting off, I recommend the “Start Up” plan. That’s the one I’ve used the past year and found it suitable for my traffic and required web space. And hey when your site takes off/should you need more hosting space, you can always upgrade, even mid-contract.
3. Name your domain/website
Here comes the fun part…naming your site! One of the great things is all these pieces to create your site are synthesized into one place. (As opposed to buying it separately somewhere else etc.) When you sign up and pick your package, your domain name is included totally free.
Ideally, your domain should be catchy, memorable, and easy to spell. And perhaps most importantly, available. When you input the name, SiteGround will indicate if it’s available. Name generating websites exist if you need help, but I found good old fashioned brainstorming did the trick 🙂
4. Review, Complete, and Pay!
In one of the final steps to setting up your blog, you’ll need to input some information to set up your account and pay. Choose how long you want your plan to run- starting with a trial month and ranging up to 36 months Note: Although the plans, and this goes for all hosting companies, are averaged monthly, you pay one lump sum.
At this time, you can add on any extra services to your blog. While you can start a blog without either additional service, I’d recommend opting into them. I haven’t had any issues with site hacking or privacy issues through my blog this past year after purchasing the services, and felt overall they were worth the cost.
5. Install WordPress
*Note: If you’ve already been using a WordPress.com website and want to migrate things over, skip this step and simply contact customer service. They will move everything over and get you set up with a self-hosted site quickly and for free.
Hooray! You are all set up and have rented your piece of the internet. The next and final step is to install WordPress. After you’ve signed up, SiteGround will redirect you to your C-Panel. Your C-Panel is essentially your home base. Here you can access and set up a variety blog services, most importantly installing WordPress. Scroll the WordPress tools and click “WordPress Installer.” The steps from here require only a few more lines of information, of which I’ll walk you through each one.
- Click “Install“. This brings you to the Software Setup screen.
- Under Choose Protocol select http:// – This creates the standard pre-fix before your URL.
- The domain should auto-fill with the domain name you picked during self-hosting set up
- Leave the In-Directory name blank.
- Choose a site name and description, although this can be edited later so don’t stress too hard!
- Under Admin Account, select a username and password. Remember this information. It’s how you log into your account and access your blog. To make it easy, I made my username the same as my domain
- Hit Install
Aandd…congratulations you now officially have your own website/blog! You’ll be directed to a success page listing where you can access your login with your username and password. Now just sign in and start writing. To access your blog, simply go to the URL:
(For example, mine is: http://pensivepalindrome.com/wp-admin)
Customize your site
Here comes the fun part. Designing and building your website + actually writing content! Under the “Appearance” tab, you’ll find a multitude of themes to preview. Choose one, then simply Install with the click of a button the one you like best. In this tab, you can play around with colors, banner placement, etc.
Under the plugins tab, you can choose to install various plugins. Think of plugins as handy little add-ons that enhance how your site runs. For example, in this post I downloaded a Table of Contents plugin that allowed me to create what you saw up top. Some of my favorites and popular ones include:
- Yoast SEO
- Akismet Anti-Spam
- MailChimp for WP
Now all you have to do is get the creative juices flowing and start blogging! I hope you found this guide on how to start a blog helpful and easy to follow (see, it’s not so scary after all.)! If you have any questions about the process or confusion on any of the points above, or blogging in general feel free to drop me a comment below.
Until next time,