How to Start a Blog
If you want to make money blogging, you will need to have a blog!
I know how overwhelming it feels when you are first starting out, so I’ve created this step-by-step guide to setting up your own blog.
Just follow each step exactly as it’s written, and you will be blogging on your very own website in no time! (Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links)
1. Choose your blog topic.
Some questions you will want to ask yourself as you choose your topic:
- Do I know a lot about this topic?
- Do I enjoy this topic — enough that I could write about it on a regular basis?
2. Choose your blog’s name.
Make sure that the name you choose for your blog is something people can easily remember. If you blog about home decor, you don’t want to name your blog Musings of a Mom. Make your blog’s name reflect something about home decor.
You’ll also need to check to see whether the domain name you want is available. Your domain name is sort of like your blog’s address. It’s where people will find you on the web.
Some other things to consider when choosing a domain name:
- Use a .com address instead of .org .me , etc. Using other variations besides .com will make it difficult for people to remember your address and find you online.
- Make sure your address is easy to spell. You don’t want people not to be able to find you online because they can’t spell your web address properly. Typing it out before you settle on something will help you see what it look like to people.
- Don’t use hyphens in your domain name. Try telling someone you blog at “My hypen cool hyphen blog” and you’ll see why.
- Consider life changes. I know some bloggers who blog about toddler activities, but what about when their kids are older? What will they blog about then? Make your blog’s theme and name something that can easily grow and morph over the years.
Sometimes someone is already using the domain name you want, so you’ll need to go back to the drawing board. You can use the domain name checker below to find out if the domain name you want is available.
You’ll also want to check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. to make sure the social media profiles matching your blog’s name are available.
3. Set up your blog.
If you want to make money blogging, I highly recommend starting a self-hosted WordPress blog. You will pay a small monthly fee for someone to host your blog (this is sort of like renting your space on the internet.) You could start a blog on a free platform, but all of the free platforms have severe limitations when it comes to earning money. You may not be allowed to place ads or use affiliate links or set up a shop with your own products. If you are serious about making money blogging, your best bet is to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.
There are lots of hosting companies online, all with different pros and cons. For someone just starting out, Bluehost is your cheapest bet and should work just fine for what you need. I started with a budget hosting company and moved to Black Chicken host once my blog grew larger and I needed something more robust.
If technical terms feel scary to you, Bluehost will walk you through the entire process.
- Click here to go to Bluehost, then click the green “Get Started” button.
- Choose your plan. Plus or Prime are the best (Prime has domain privacy, which is important if you don’t want people to be able to find your private information via your blog.)
- Enter your domain name. You can enter this now or later. If you purchased a domain somewhere else, you’ll enter it on the right side.
- On the next page you will enter your account information.
- Next you’ll choose the plan you want. You can skip pretty much all of the add-ons they will try to sell you.
- Enter your billing info
- Choose a password
After you’ve purchased your hosting plan, you can log in and get started right away with WordPress!
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see your domain name showing up right away. It takes anywhere from 2 to 24 hours for your domain to populate on the internet.
But you can go ahead and play around and explore some of the features of your WordPress blog before you go to the next step. (I do not recommend choosing one of the free themes that Bluehost shows you. More on that in the next step.)
Click the “Start building” button to go to your WordPress blog. I recommend clicking “I don’t need help.” This way you are not given a bunch of options that you don’t need or want and then have to go back and undo.
4. Choose your WordPress theme.
You can start by using the free theme that is automatically installed. However, you will no doubt want to change it to something more eye-appealing.
I do not recommend using free themes, either those recommended by Bluehost or others from around the web. The reason for that is they are not updated frequently and therefor not secure from hackers. You don’t want a blog that is vulnerable to hackers or that will stop working because the features have not been updated.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend Thrive Themes. I use them for all of my blogs, including this one.
Some reasons I love Thrive Themes so much are:
- Easy to customize – just drag and drop. No technical skills required!
- Optimized for search engines
- Lightweight. Thrive themes comes with a lot of features that you would have to piece together with other themes. Because just about everything you need is already included, you won’t need to bog down your site speed by adding sharing plugins, etc.
- Thrive Themes offers an entire suite of products that you can use for various aspects of your blogging, such as building your email list and selling products. When you are ready to add on more advanced features to your blog, the other Thrive products will integrate perfectly with your theme.
5. Change your blog permalinks
In the “settings” column, select “permalinks.” You’ll want to set your permalinks to this structure: https://amylynnandrews.com/%postname%/. This way the links to your blog posts will be very clean and won’t contain dates which could make your older content seem outdated. You want your content to be well-loved whether it’s 2 days or 2 years after you wrote it. (If you have already been blogging and did not set your permalinks this way, do not change them now. It will break all the links to any posts you have written thus far!)
6. Set up https on your domain.
You should receive an email with instructions for activating your domain. Once your domain is activated, you can switch from http to https. A domain starting with https means it is secure for people who will be making purchases. Also, Google is ranking sites lower in the search engines that do not have a security certificate, so it’s important for you to have one if you want to be found in searches.
- Log into your Bluehost account, then click on “My sites” in the left column. Click “Manage site”, then click on “security”. Find the switch that says “Free SSL certificate” and turn it to On.
7. Begin to blog!
You are now ready to begin publishing blog posts. Any time you want to log in to your WordPress dashboard just type in “yoursitename.com/wp-admin” and it will pull up the link for you to log in. If you don’t remember your login, look for the welcome emails sent to you by Bluehost. One will have login info for Bluehost and one will have login info for WordPress.