How to Start a Blog Tutorial
Learn how to start a blog, website, and online portfolio with this beginner’s guide. I’ll take you step by step through the process.
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You’ve decided to start a blog, or build your own website and online portfolio. Now what? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. I’ve been blogging since 2009 and have learned a lot. I’ll take you step by step through the process, and help you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made.
If you are still on the fence about whether or not you should start a blog, read my post Why You Should Start a Blog.
Whether you want to create a website, online portfolio, shop, or blog; you’ll follow the same steps below. The only difference will be in what theme you choose and how you set up the content on your website.
How to Choose a Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is the software, or service, that turns your content into a blog/website. There are several platforms to choose from when you start a blog. However, I am personally a huge fan of WordPress (WordPress.org) for the following reasons:
This guide will cover how to start a self hosted blog with WordPress. However, you can also apply this guide to other blogging platforms as well.
How to Choose a Domain Name
To start a blog, the first thing you’ll want is a domain name. Your domain name is the address of your blog. Choose wisely as this is the address people will type in to access your blog. The best business domain names are somewhat short, easy to type and read, relevant to the blog, and are without dashes, numbers, and symbols. For example: Julie’s Creative Cards = juliescreativecards.com. You can certainly use an interesting or abstract domain name as well. For example, a personal travel blog might have the title: Willow’s Wanderlust = willowswanderlust. If you are a freelance writer, or artist, you might choose to use your own name for your website and blog.
Check out my post on creative blog names for more information on choosing a blog and domain name.
Domain Name Options
If you are self hosting your blog, and using WordPress as your blogging platform (WordPress.org), your domain name and address are yours. (My site is: ruthlovettsmith.com). If you are using another blogging platform, and choose not to self-host, (WordPress.com, Blogger, etc.) your domain name will look something like: ruthlovettsmith.blogspot.com. Not very pretty, and not ideal if you are starting a business.
Keep in mind that while WordPress is free to use, a self hosted website means you’ll need to pay for hosting services. (Your host is where your blog files are kept.) There are many inexpensive hosting options that I will cover next. However, if money is an issue, you may want to go with a free hosting blogging platform. Just remember that your domain name may include the blogging platforms name as well, and that you won’t own the name.
Domain Name Availability
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll want to make sure it’s available. Simply visit whois.net and type in the domain. If the domain name is taken, you will get a page that says that the name is already registered. If the domain name is available, you will get a page that says it’s available. Keep in mind that if you really love your domain name, and it’s available, you’ll want to purchase it immediately as domain names go fast.
Some people choose to purchase their domain name through the same company they use to host their website. Some hosting companies even offer free domains with their packages. I personally prefer to keep the two separate and use GoDaddy for all of my domain name purchases. Keeping the two separate means that you can easily change hosts as your blog grows. GoDaddy is easy to use and often has discounts. Do an internet search for “GoDaddy Discounts” prior to purchasing your domain name.
Choosing a Blog Host
There are numerous hosting options, and companies available, when you start a blog. One that I used in my early years of blogging is Bluehost.com. Not only are they reasonably priced, they offer 24/7 support, their user panel is easy to use, and they offer a 1-click install of WordPress.
I switched to Knownhost, from Bluehost, when my blog grew and I was looking for more advanced options. At the time, Bluehost did not offer VPS hosting. However, they now offer all of the three options listed above, with superb customer service. If you are just starting out, a shared hosting plan with Bluehost will be enough for your needs.
Disclaimer: If you do choose to go with Bluehost, I will earn a commission. There are other hosting options available. However, Bluehost is my recommendation based on my experiences with them when I was a new blogger. If you do join Bluehost, through my affiliate link, thank you so much for your support!
Select a Hosting Plan
Now that you’ve chosen your host, you’ll want to select a hosting plan. Your choice will depend on your budget, and what services you need. Look through each option and consider your needs now, as well as your potential future needs. You can also easily go up a plan as you grow. Simply login to your Bluehost dashboard, or contact Bluehost customer service. I think the basic plan is fine for bloggers starting out.
Enter Your Domain Name
If you’ve already purchased your domain name, as outlined above, you can enter it in the “I have a domain name section”. If you did not, you can get a new domain name now. You may also get a pop up that gives you the option to choose a domain name later. If you are still unsure about your domain name, choose that option for now.
Enter Your Account Information
On the next page you’ll be prompted to enter your account info. It’s important that all of this information is correct and up to date, including your email address. Bluehost will use this email address to send you important information and updates.
You’ll also want to review your package information. I highly recommend domain privacy as this keeps your personal information private. If you are using a business address, and don’t mind it being shared, you do not need domain privacy.
Enter Your Payment Information
Finally you’ll be asked to enter your payment information.
Create a Password
Next you’ll be prompted to create a password.
How to Install WordPress
Once you’ve purchased your domain name and have signed up for hosting, you’ll need to install WordPress. You can get started by clicking on the log in button on the “Congratulations” page. (Or follow the Additional Instructions below.)
A theme is a group of files that dictates what your blog or website will look like. Bluehost offers a variety of professional looking WordPress themes. WordPress also comes preinstalled with a basic theme that can get you started. In addition, you can find numerous free WordPress themes through your WordPress dashboard and online. Once you familiarize yourself with WordPress, you can look into changing your theme. Your next step will be to start building your blog. To do so, click on the “Start Building” button.
The image above is the WordPress Dashboard. Here (on the left hand side) is where you add pages, posts, and build your blog. I recommend you click on the “I don’t need help” button in the middle. This will ensure you start your blog with a clean slate.
If you opted not to install WordPress, using the steps above, you can also follow the additional instructions below.
Additional Instructions from Bluehost:
For 24/7 WordPress assistance through Bluehost call: 888-401-4678
We provide a program which makes it very easy to install third party scripts to your hosting account. If you want your website to have a WordPress blog, you can use Marketplace to install WordPress to the root of your site or to a sub-directory.
Installing WordPress with Marketplace
- Log in to your Bluehost c Panel account.
- Find the Website section and select Install WordPress.
- Click the Install button.
- Choose the domain name to install it to. In the field next to the domain, you can enter a sub-folder such as ‘blog’ or leave it blank if you want the site’s main page to be the blog.
- If necessary, you can edit the email address, username and password for the new WordPress installation. Click “advanced options” and you can change those settings.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
- Select the Install Now button.
Tip: During the above process you’ll be asked to choose a user name and password. Do not use “admin” as your user name as it poses a major security risk and makes it easier for hackers to guess your login details
Creating and Designing Your Blog
Once you’ve completed the above steps, you can start designing and adding content to your blog. This is the fun part, and where you can get really creative.
You can access your WordPress blog admin page by going to: www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin
This is where you will enter your username and password.
Once you are logged in; you can add posts, pages, and content to your site. You can also change your blog theme, and add various Plugins. Plugins are tools that help you add extra features to your blog. For example, the free WooCommerce Plugin enables you to add an online store to your blog. See my post How to Build an Online Store for more information.
How to Choose a Blog Theme
There are numerous free WordPress themes, and even more themes that you can purchase. The key to choosing a theme is to think about what you want your website and blog to do, as well as how you want it to look. Some themes are basic, and others offer numerous layout and color options. If you are looking to build a creative blog, you’ll want to choose your blog theme wisely. Will your theme support a portfolio or online shop? Can you change the colors and fonts?
Having gone through several themes, since I started blogging, I’ve finally settled upon a Restored 316 Kadence theme and am extremely happy.
Restored 316 offers numerous customizable WordPress themes that are perfect for creatives. They even have a super cool Which theme is best for your website? quiz that can help you decide which theme will work for you. Restored 316 offers amazing customer support, and a member Facebook group for help and tips. In addition they are constantly updating their themes to ensure that they are current and secure.
What I love the most about the Restored 316 Kadence themes is that they are fully customizable. This means you can easily swap out colors and font choices to build your own unique site. Many themes do not have this option, which means you have to learn code to make those types of changes. They are also extremely fast themes. This means your customers, and clients, won’t have to wait a long time for your site to load.
Below are some examples of Restored 316 Kadence themes. I am using the Farmhouse Theme, which is in the first row. You can see how my site is completely different because of how I’ve chosen to customize it.
The great thing about Restored 316 is that they have excellent customer service, as well as additional tutorials to help you to design your website and blog exactly how you want it.
Restored 316 Kadence Themes
Adding Content to Your Blog
Now that you know how to start a blog and website; you’ll want to learn how to access your website, and add content to your blog/website. Check out my posts What to do After Installing WordPress and How to Add Content to Your Blog for more information.
I hope you’ve found this How to Start a Blog Tutorial helpful. Feel free to reach out via my contact page if you have any questions.