How to Start a Blog
I started blogging over ten years ago for an audience of five. I didn’t know the first thing about how to grow a blog, and wrote off and on for years until I decided to start blogging in earnest with this site.
Since then, blogging has been the perfect hobby-turned-hustle. I’ve always loved writing and the blog provides an avenue for the intellectual fulfillment of writing for an audience (now much larger than five!). Blogging has also introduced me to a supportive community where people engage in friendly dialogue. And a blog is a great platform for earning income through freelance writing, affiliate marketing, advertising, or selling your own products.
Because I love blogging so much, I’ve tried to convince more than one friend to start a blog over the years. The single most common objection I’ve heard is “I don’t know how.” Setting up the backend of a blog can feel overwhelming, but I promise you, if I can do it, so can you! I don’t have mad computer skills, but with tools like WordPress and Bluehost, you really don’t need to.
I’ll talk you through the set-up process for starting a blog using the hosting service Bluehost. Trust me, it’s easier than you think!
1. Choose a domain name.
What do you want your site to be called? Brainstorm ideas for your title. Think of memorable names that quickly convey your site’s core theme. We chose to draw on a proverb that conveyed much of what we wanted to write about. Once you settle on a unique domain name, you’re ready for the next step.
2. Set up hosting.
WordPress offers free hosting services, but these have some serious drawbacks and will make it difficult to monetize your site. Free hosting platforms not work with Google AdSense, other advertisers, and some affiliate marketing programs. Even if you’re not interested in starting a blog to make money, it makes sense to leave that option open for the future because it’s a big pain to change your host later.
Bluehost offers many advantages for a very competitive price. For $3.95/month, or less than $48 per year, you get a free domain name, 24/7 support, easy installation, and a professional quality site that can become a platform for earning income.
Just click the green “get started now” button . Then type in your domain name on the next page. If you’ve already registered your domain name, use the option on the right.
After you choose your domain name, you’ll walk through a simple registration process similar to an online retail check-out process. After that, it’s time to set up your site.
3. Install WordPress.
I’ve been blogging with WordPress for a decade and it’s so easy to use, even for someone like me who doesn’t know how to code. Bluehost conveniently offers easy WordPress installation. Once you finish your registration process, you’ll log in using the password you just set up. Then you’ll come to your hosting home page. Click on “cpanel” at the top (highlighted in the red box below):
Click on the “Install WordPress” button. Next you’ll create a WordPress login.
4. Choose a theme.
Once you’re in WordPress, it’s time to choose a theme. This is the basic design and layout of your blog. Click on “Appearance” in the left-hand menu, then click “Themes.” Play around with the various themes until you find one you like.
Themes feature different options like how many posts are visible on the home page and how they’re displayed. We chose a simple theme that loads older posts as the reader scrolls down, to make it easy for people to keep reading. Others prefer to display thumbnails of several posts, or to have a slideshow of featured articles. You can preview the site design before going live with your choice.
In the WordPress dashboard, you can add widgets like social media buttons, a email subscription sign-up, recent comments, most popular posts, categories, and more. I recommend keeping it simple. Choose around three widgets to keep your site from looking cluttered.
Tips for Blogging
Write. Blogging is not just about writing, but writing is a huge part of blogging. Many people make the mistake of thinking they have to get their thoughts down perfectly the first time. Any writer will tell you this is NOT how they write. I rearrange, rewrite, and edit my posts substantially after initially getting my thoughts down.
Read. Read other blogs within your topic to learn about trending topics, and be sure to engage in the discussion by leaving comments. I get lots of inspiration (and some readers) by reading and commenting on other blogs. Plus I get great practical ideas to try out in real life.
Socialize. Engaging on social media is a huge part of blogging. It’s important to have some presence on at least two to three social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. In addition to sharing your new posts, you’ll want to share others’ work and dialogue with those in your space.
Hustle. People talk about earning money blogging, but it can seem like a mystery to the new blogger. When you’re ready, there are five main avenues to earn income through blogging. Here’s a quick rundown on each:
- Freelance writing. Depending on your writing skills, you can start out earning anywhere from $30 to $300+ per post. Your blog serves as a portfolio of your work, a sample of your style and areas of knowledge, and a platform to gain samples through guest posting for larger sites. I’m quite sure having a guest post on Frugalwoods was a great writing sample to share along with pitches, and I wouldn’t have been published there if I wasn’t a fellow blogger.
- Affiliate marketing. Building a loyal following means when you recommend a product or service, people will trust your recommendation. Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool for companies today and bloggers are the perfect influencers for companies to partner with in promoting their products.
- Sponsored posts. Sometimes companies will pay bloggers to write a review of their product. Again, having followers who trust your opinion will help your site become a desirable landing place for sponsored posts. Just choose wisely; don’t betray your readers’ trust or let sponsored posts replace more personal and engaging content.
- Advertising. Google AdSense or other advertisers will pay per click or view to advertise on your site. This type of income stream depends more on traffic, but it’s relatively passive once the ads are in place. Be sure to avoid allowing your site to become over-run with ads, which is a turnoff to some readers and may also slow down your blog’s functioning.
- Selling your own products. Many bloggers create products such as books or online courses in their areas of expertise. Your blog can be the perfect platform for selling your products as you’ve already built a potential customer base. Blogging will also help you hone in on the areas you’re passionate about, which could inspire you to create new products or services.
Blogging opens almost endless possibilities, and at the end of the day, it’s also just plain fun. If getting started feels overwhelming, take it one step at a time. Get that domain named registered for free through Bluehost, and let the fun begin!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payment if you make a purchase using this link.