How to Start a Blog
Congratulations! You’ve decided to start a blog, now what!? It may seem intimidating at first but it’s much easier than you think. After you see how simple it is, you’ll only wish you’d started sooner. By following these simple step-by-step instructions for how to start blog, you can be up and running within an hour.
Originally Posted: July 6, 2014 | Updated: February 28, 2019
Steps We’ll be Covering
Below are the steps to starting a blog we’re going to cover today.
- Setting up your self-hosted WordPress blog with Bluehost.
- Logging into WordPress and installing a theme and plugins.
Before You Start FAQ
Before we begin the blog set-up process, let’s cover a couple FAQ’s about starting a blog.
Can I start a blog if I’m not tech-savvy?
Absolutely!! I started Running on Real Food all all by myself back in 2013. I didn’t know what I was doing but I figured it out, and you will too. The steps below are doable for anyone and everyone, no technical experience required.
Being brand new to blogging is an exciting time, there are endless opportunities to learn, grow and improve and so much possibility lays ahead of you, so don’t be intimidated by the technical stuff, it’s so worth figuring out.
How much does a blog cost?
Starting a self-hosted WordPress blog is very affordable. With the set-up we’re going to use, it will cost you less than $10 per month. That’s all I spent on my blog for the first few years. As your blog grows, there will be more tools and services to consider but getting started with the basics is very inexpensive.
What is a blog?
A blog is a website with a chronological series of posts. Blogs focus on written content, known as blog posts. There are blogs that cover ever topic imaginable. Blogs can range from massive sites that receive millions of page views every month, with a whole team of people running them, to personal blogs like mine, which is run by me and only me.
What do Bloggers Actually Do?
To give you an idea of what I do as a full-time blogger, here is a list of just some of the jobs that make up my daily, weekly and monthly workload:
- food photography and photo editing
- video creation – videography, editing, uploading to the web
- writing – lots and lots of writing, makes up a big chunk of my work (blog posts, recipes, social media, emails etc).
- email marketing – writing emails and building my email list
- social media management, scheduling and content creation
- content creation – this is a big one and includes research, creating blogs posts, freebies, e-books and social media content
- recipe development – specific to food blogging, another big one!
- marketing – taking all that content and promoting it to the world
- SEO – optimizing old and new posts, keyword research, using Google Analytics and other SEO tools, etc.
- affiliate marketing – finding programs to join, adding links, creating content for items to promote
This will vary depending on the type of blog you have, of course.
Why start a blog?
I started a blog because I love sharing healthy livings tips and recipes but people have many different reasons for starting a blog. Money is usually a big one and if you want to start a blog with the sole purpose or earning money, there’s nothing wrong with that.
That being said, I would recommend choosing a topic you’re passionate about and thinking about what kind of value you can offer to your readers. Providing value is always my number one goal. If money follows that, awesome.
Here are some other reasons to start a blog:
- If you have another business, blogging is a great way to promote it and build trust and authority in your niche.
- Blogging makes a great hobby that can turn into a source of income.
- Blogging is fun! You can travel, go to conferences, meet new people, build a community and learn new things.
- Blogging is a great way to improve your current skills and learn new ones.
- Blogging is a great way to build a personal brand.
- It creates a journal of your life. I love looking back at content from 6 years ago!
I love blogging because I get to help people by sharing my knowledge. I love connecting with my readers. I love being creative and constantly challenged to learn new things. I started my blog as a hobby and 4 years later, I quit my job to blog full-time.
If I can do it, anyone can!
Can I start a blog for free?
You can start a blog for free but it really depends on what your goals as a blogger are. Before you start, ask yourself this question:
Will you be blogging purely as a hobby or do you eventually want to make money blogging?
If it’s going to be a hobby blog, you can go ahead and use a free blogging service such as Blogger. If you plan to earn income from your blog, I highly recommend starting what’s called a self-hosted WordPress blog.
With a free blog, you’ll may run into these issues:
- Limited options for monetization. If you plan to make money from you blog, you’ll be limited for options on free platforms. Most free platforms don’t allow advertising, which can be a considerable source of income for bloggers.
- Limited support. On free platforms, you’re typically on your own as far as support goes, whereas hosting providers usually have 24/7 chat and email support to help you with technical issues.
- Limited design and feature options. Free platforms are very basic and offer limited customization options. You will have a hard time getting your site to look the way you want and even harder time adding special features.
- Migrating down the road is as pain. If you decide later on that you want to move to a self-hosted blog, switching your site over isn’t easy and can be costly. You’d most likely have to hire someone to make sure it’s done properly.
- Your content isn’t yours. A free blogging platform could shut down at anytime and you can say goodbye to your content. If you have a self-hosted site, your content is all yours.
- You won’t have your own URL. If you use a free blogging platform, your URL will be something like yourblogname.blogpost.com instead of a short, easy-to-remember web address of your choosing, such as youblogname.com.
How do people make money blogging?
There are many ways to make money from your blog. I earn money through 4 different income streams:
- Affiliate marketing.
- Selling e-books.
- Working with brands on sponsored content.
We will get into this in more detail in coming posts.
How long will it take to start making money?
Well, it’s not going to happen overnight but if you’re willing to work hard and be patient, you could be earning a small income within a few months. Some bloggers make it happen a lot faster than others.
I was slow. It took me 1 whole year before I broke the $100 threshold with Google Adsense and got my first payout. In my second year, I started earning a couple hundred bucks a month. In my third year, I started to grow quicker and realized I might actually be able to make a full-time income one day. At around 4 years, the income from my blog has surpassed my full-time income as a graphic designer. I quit my job and started working on Running on Real Food full-time.
Every blogger has a different story. Some take a year, some take more, some never make any and some just plain give up. Whether your goal is to turn your blog into a business or make a bit of income on the side, patience and perseverance are key.
What is a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog?
Even if you’re a beginner, I would highly recommended going the self-hosted route.
What does this mean?
Self-hosting means you host your blog with a hosting provider like Bluehost. Hosting is basically paying a monthly fee to rent space on the internet. A web host will store all your files and make your blog visible on the World Wide Web.
Self-hosting gives you full control over your website and allows you to monetize it as you see fit. It also means you’ll have your own dedicated url, for example, runningonrealfood.com.
The alternative to a self-hosted blog would be a blog hosted on a free platform like Blogger. We discussed the downsides of this above.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
One thing to note is that we’re going to be using WordPress.org for your blogging platform. WordPress.org is different than WordPress.com.
Think of the difference between them much like the difference between owning or renting a house. Starting a blog on WordPress.com is like renting a house. You live there but have limited control over what you can and can’t do. Self-hosting your blog and using WordPress.org is like owning a house. You have full-control and can renovate, build, design and decorate it anyway you want.
Why Should i use WordPress?
I would highly recommend using WordPress for your CMS, or content management system. Using a blogging platform such as WordPress allows you to build a website, post content and make design changes without knowing any code. You will have a backend dashboard that you use to manage your blog.
Here are some of the benefits to using WordPress
- It’s free! That’s probably the best part. WordPress is completely free for anyone to use.
- It’s easy to to set up. Even with not technical experience, you’ll be able to set up your WordPress site on your own.
- It’s easy to use. Once your site is set up, you’ll find the WordPress dashboard easy to use, even for complete beginners. You will be publishing your first blog post in no time!
- It’s customizable. You can customize your WordPress site to your hearts desire with hundreds of free WordPress themes and plugins that all you to add more functionality to your blog. We’re going to go over all of this below.
- It’s safe and well-supported. With tens of millions of websites using WordPress, it’s well-supported with frequent updates that keep it safe and secure.
Choosing Your Blog Name
Before we begin, you’re going to need a name for your blog.
When choosing your name, here are some things to consider:
- Your blog topic. What do you plan to blog about? This will play a big roll in the name you choose. The name you choose should align with what your blog will be about.
- Your target audience. Who will read your blog? What kind of things are they into? What kinds of things will they be searching for online?
- Number of characters. I would recommend something short and catchy, that way it’s easy to remember and easier to fit into things like SEO titles. I wish Running on Real Food was shorter! You also want to make sure your blog name will fit social media handle character restrictions. For example, @runningonrealfood doesn’t work for Twitter and Pinterest so I have to use @runonrealfood.
- Don’t go too narrow with it. I’m glad it didn’t put “vegan” in my blog name when I started. Although my website is all vegan recipes, “Running on Real Food” appeals to a wider range of people and allows me more flexibility with what I post.
- Don’t use numbers or special characters. Keep it simple and clear.
- Consider copyrights. I wouldn’t recommend using anything that sounds close to a major (or minor) existing brand as you may set yourself up for a copyright violation.
If you can’t think of anything, ask friends and family or use a thesaurus or name generator to get started. Don’t rush the process but don’t take too long either. At some point you just have to make a decision and go for it.
It took me forever to choose a blog name. I was indecisive which caused me to put off starting for close to a year and of course, I only wish I’d started sooner. Think it through because changing it later is not ideal but make a decision so you can get started.
If you can’t think of your domain name right this now, you can still proceed with the instructions below for setting-up your blog.
Why Use Bluehost?
We are going to be using Bluehost to set up your blog today. Bluehost is a great choice fo new bloggers for these reasons:
- Free domain name. They offer free domain name registration with our account.
- Free instant WP install. The take care installing WordPress, automatically and for free.
- Refund policy. They offer a 30-Day money back guarantee.
- Great support. The have 24/7 customer support via phone or web chat.
- Budget-friendly. They’re very inexpensive and you can get started for just a few bucks a month.
Disclosure: I am affiliated with Bluehost and earn a commission if you sign up using the links below. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra but it helps me keep running my website. Thank you for supporting Running on Real Food!
There are lots of great alternatives to Bluehost if you do want to investigate other options. Since I started my blog 6 years ago, I’ve changed hosts a number of times and I currently hosted with Orange Geek. I started on Bluehost though.
I recommend the following options for new bloggers as an alternative to Bluehost:
- Dreamhost. 1-click WP install, free domain registration, no set-up fees. I was hosted with Dreamhost for a couple years and had no complaints.
- Siteground. A popular provide with 24/7 support, WP recommended.
- WP Engine. I was hosted with WP Engine for about a year and while there service was fantastic, they do cost a bit more than other options. One huge bonus of using WP Engine is you get the Genesis Framework and Foodie Pro theme for free when you sign up, a $129 value. This is the theme set-up I recommend for food bloggers and we’ll be covering below. I ran my blog with this set-up for years before switching to a custom theme and I love the design, functionality and technical support. I highly recommend it.
I would still recommend Bluehost for getting started. It’s easy, there support is great and it will only cost you a few dollars per month.
Easy Steps to Start a Blog
Below are the easy-to-follow steps you’ll need to take to start a self-hosted WordPress blog. This process is beginner-friendly and no technical experience is required.
The first part we’re going to cover is setting up your account with Bluehost. After that we’ll go over getting started with WordPress and installing a theme and plugins.
Part 1: Domain and Hosting
A domain name is simply the URL of your website. Registering your domain name, just means claiming a URL to match your blog name. For example, my domain name is runningonreafood.com.
Step 1. Click here to go to Bluehost.com and get started.
Click the Get Started button to begin.
Step 2. Choose your plan.
If you’re just getting started, the Basic package will do everything you need and you can update at a later date as your blog grows however, I would recommend the Choice Plus option if it’s in your budget. With the Choice Plus plan you’ll get more unlimited features and domain privacy however, if you choose Basic or Plus, you’ll always have the option to upgrade down the road.
Step 3. Enter a domain name.
On the next page, you’ll enter your domain name, or address on the web in the box on the left. For example, my domain name is runningonrealfood.com. If you already have a domain name that you’ve registered elsewhere, enter it in the “I have a domain name” box on the right.
NOTE: You can choose your domain later if you haven’t decide on one yet or the domain you want isn’t available. Click the “Choose Later” link at the bottom of the page or you may get a pop-up with a button to choose later. Go ahead and click that. I’ll cover how to add your domain later at the end of this post.
Step 4. Register your Bluehost account.
On the next page, enter your account information or connect your Google account to register.
Step 5. Select your plan.
Below the account information, you’ll select the plan you want. Bluehost doesn’t offer a monthly payment option so you’ll pay for up to 1, 2, 3 or 5 years upfront. The longer the period you pay for upfront, the cheaper it will be. You can start with a 12-month hosting package, or go up to 24, 36 or 60 months to bring the price per month down.
Note that the low introductory pricing only applies to your first payment, so if you only sign up for 1 year, your pricing will go up after that, however, if you pay for 2 or 3 years upfront, you’ll lock in that low price for the whole time period.
The longer you can pay for upfront the bigger the savings, so choose the longest plan that works for you budget.
Step 6. Uncheck the Package Extras.
In the package extra settings, uncheck everything except the domain privacy protection. If you went with the Choice Plus plan it’s included for free, if not, you’ll have to pay a little extra for it. It’s not required but it does keep your personal information such as your address private. Uncheck the SiteLock Security and SEO Tools, you don’t need them. You can add any of these features later if you so choose.
You should have your total bill now. That is what you’ll pay to get started and you won’t have to pay again for 12 months or more, depending on the package you went with.
Step 7. Enter your billing information.
Time to make your payment. Enter your billing info and we’re almost there. Remember they have a 30 day money back guarantee so there’s nothing to lose!
Step 8. Set your Bluehost password.
The next step is to choose a password for you Bluehost login. After you set your password, click the log in button to log in to Bluehost for the first time. The password you set here is for your Bluehost account and will differ from your WordPress login.
Step 9. Skip the Free Themes offer.
After you set your password, Bluehost will provide some free WordPress theme options. Skip this for now as we’re going to discuss WordPress themes shortly. Click the “Skip this Step” button at the bottom of your screen to move onto the next step.
Step 10. Congratulations, you have a blog!
Once you’ve skipped the free themes page, WordPress will automatically be installed. You should receive an email from Bluehost with your WordPress login information. Once the installation is complete, click “Start Building” to be logged into your new blog.
Congratulations, you did it! You now have a self-hosted WordPress blog and you’re ready to start designing it and posting content.
Note: Your temporary Domain Name
Note that your new blog will have a temporary domain name to start. There’s no need to panic if the URL in your address bar isn’t the domain name you registered with. It can take up to 24 hours to populate. Once it’s fully registered, it will automatically switch to the domain you chose.
Note: Coming Soon Page
At this point, if you go to your blog’s URL without being logged into WordPress you will see a Coming Soon page.
You can still you can still get started building your blog though. Once you’re logged in, you can see what your site looks like but don’t panic when it doesn’t look very exciting to start. We’re going to cover installing a WordPress theme and customize your blog in the next steps.
The Coming Soon page is easy to remove and when you do, your new site will be available on the internet for anyone to visit. We’ll cover how to remove it and launch your blog below but first we’re going to login to WordPress and install a theme.
Part 2: Logging into WordPress and Getting Started
You will now have two sets of login information.
- Your Bluehost login. Keep this information safe but from here on out you won’t need to login to Bluehost on a regular basis.
- Your WordPress login. To login to WordPress at anytime, go to yourblogname.com/wp-admin or yourtemporaryblogname.com/wp-admin. You will be using the WordPress platform to publish blog posts and build and design your website. If you’re unsure of what your WordPress login is, check the email from Bluehost containing the information you need. Logging into your WordPress blog will bring you to the WordPress dashboard. This is where you’ll be doing all your blogging and making design changes to your website.
How to Install WordPress theme
Now that you’re in your WordPress dashboard. The first thing we’re going to do is install a theme.
What is a WordPress theme?
A theme is a pre-made template controls the design and layout of your blog. By using themes, you can change the look and feel of your site with just a few clicks.
Step 1. Go to “Appearance” in the menu on the left.
Once you go into the “Appearance” tab, you will find a few themes that are already installed on your blog such as Twenty Nineteen and Twenty Seventeen. You can choose of of these themes or choose to browse the thousands of free WordPress themes for something you like.
Step 2. Activate the Pre-Installed Themes or Search for a Different One
The pre-installed default themes (Twenty Nineteen) are well-designed and perfectly suitable for getting started regardless of your blog niche. Many bloggers use these themes and they’re a great choice if you don’t have something specific in mind for you blog design. To activate Twenty Nineteen, for example, hover over the theme with your mouse and click “Activate”. That’s it!
How to Search for a Different Theme
If you prefer to look for another theme, click on “Add New” to start browsing. Once you click “Add New” you browse the Featured, Popular or Latest themes or use the Feature Filter to narrow it down your search by colour, layout and more.
When you find a theme you like:
- Click the “Install” button.
- Once it’s installed, click “Activate” to activate the theme on your blog.
You can now type your blog URL into your web browser to see your new theme in action.
Should I use a Free or Premium Theme?
There are plenty of free themes available online and you can find them simply by Googling “best free WordPress themes” and taking your pick. Unless there’s a specific theme you want, I would recommend starting with a free theme. There are some amazing free options that are well-designed, responsive, feature-rich and full customizable. You blog will look great and function well with a free theme.
Premium Theme Options
If you have the budget and want to check out some premium theme options, go for it!
Premium themes typically have more customizability options, tools and more advanced features than free themes but free themes are still a great place to start. You may always use a free theme and that’s totally fine! I used free themes for years before switching to the Genesis Framework from Studiopress, which I’ll discuss below.
I recommend premium paid themes for the support they provide, their extra features and the ability to further customize the design of your blog. If you’re new to blogging, a premium theme will offer you the support needed if you get stuck on anything.
Premium WordPress themes are very affordable and you can find excellent options for less than $50, a fraction of the cost of hiring a web designer.
Premium Theme Recommendations
The Genesis Framework
I ran my blog on the Genesis Framework with the Foodie Pro child theme for years before switching to the custom theme that I have now. The Genesis Framework is an excellent choice for a premium theme and there are many “child” themes you can use to customize it further.
For food blogging, I would recommend using the Genesis theme with Foodie Pro but they have many other excellent child themes that work with the Genesis Framework. You can browse them all here.
The Genesis Framework theme plus the Foodie Pro child theme will cost you $129.95. The Foodie Pro child theme is a fantastic theme and you will find many that many top bloggers use it. Foodie Pro is clean and minimalist but feature-rich with plenty of options for colour and typography. I highly recommend it if you plan to share recipes. An alternative to Foodie Pro is the Brunch Pro theme which also makes a great choice for a premium theme.
Even on its own, the Genesis Framework allows you to quickly and easily build your website, whether you’re a beginner or advanced developer. It provides a secure and SEO-optimized foundation and is a great base to start creating with. The Genesis Framework will cost you $59.95.
If your blog isn’t about food, StudioPress Themes has an excellent selection of SEO-optimized, responsive, well-designed, feature-rich themes for every niche from lifestyle to eCommerce.
How to Install Genesis + Foodie Pro
Once you purchase the Foodie Pro with Genesis package, you will be prompted to download them in a ZIP file. To install them on your blog:
- Go to “Appearance –> Themes”.
- Click on “Add New”.
- Click on “Upload New”.
- Click on “Choose File”.
- Locate your ZIP file on your computer and click “Open”.
- Click “Install Now”.
- Click on “Activate”.
You can use this process for any free or premium theme you download outside of WordPress.
Customizing Your Theme
Each theme also has customization options such as typography, widgets, colour and layout changes you can make. You will make these changes under the Appearance –> Customize. I would recommend leaving the customization for later and moving on to the next step at this point, however, if you want to start playing around with colours and typography, go for it.
You theme is not going to look the way you want right out of the box. It’s still going to take some customizing but don’t worry, you’ll get there! I recommend starting to work on some great content and leaving the design details for later. Fiddling around with the design of you blog an be a big time suck that feels important but remember, quality content comes first.
Setting up Widgets
What’s a WordPress widget?
A WordPress widget is a small block on your website that performs a specific function. You can add widgets to areas like the sidebar, footer and the bottom of posts. The theme you choose will come with various widget-ready areas you can use to customize your blog. Widgets include things like an email subscribe box, a list or most recent posts, custom menus or an ad block.
To add widgets to you site, go to “Appearance” then “Widgets”. The widgets that are available will depend on the theme you installed. Once you’re in the Widget screen you can drag and drop widgets from the left into the various options on the right, such as the Homepage, Sidebar and Footer.
Setting up Menus
You’ll want to set up your main menu, or navigation bar, right away so readers can navigate your site. You can add categories, pages and custom links to your menu. Specific menu details will depend on your theme but might include items like Home, About and Contact.
To customize your menu, go to “Appearance” then “Menus”.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
What is a WordPress plugin?
A plugin is a piece of functional software that can be installed on a WordPress site. Plugins extend the functionality of your site or add new features. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress and some are better than others in terms of support, updates and how they affect site speed.
We’ll go over the basic plugins you should install right away and then I’ll cover all the plugins that I use on my website.
A Note on Plugins
I recommend keeping the plugins on your site to a minimum. Why?
Plugins add more code to your website and the more code you have, the slower your site will be. Site speed is a huge factor when it comes to search engine optimization and the reader experience on your blog. No one likes a slow website, especially not Google and you want to keep Google happy so they keep sending readers your way.
Only add plugins if you absolutely need them.
I will share everything that I use but it doesn’t mean you need all of them. They work for my theme and blog and may not necessarily work for yours.
Here are the some plugins I recommend installing right away:
- Akismet Anti-Spam. This is a must-have for filtering out spam comments on your site. Install it immediately.
- Yoast SEO. Yoast helps you optimize your content for search engines. I use the premium version but the free version is still very powerful and will do more than enough to get you started.
- WP Rocket. You’ll need some kind of caching plugin for your site to help it run faster. This is the one that I use and I’ve been very happy with it. One time purchase.
- WP Smush. This plugin optimizes images for you blog to keep your site running quickly. I use the free version but they also have a premium version with additional features. An alternative to this is Shortpixel. Keep in mind, you still need to optimize images for online use before you upload them.
- For Food bloggesr: Tasty Recipes. I use Tasty Recipes for my recipe plugin and I highly recommend it. One time purchase. If you plan to run a food blog, you will need a recipe plugin of some sort.
Those are the main plugins you can use to get started. Let’s go over how to install them.
How to Install Plugins
Installing plugins is super easy and follows the same process as installing a new theme. There are two methods to installing a new plugin:
- Method 1: Uusing the WordPress plugin search to find the plugin your want and installing directly. This is how you will install Akismet and Yoast SEO.
- Method 2: Uploading a plugin ZIP file that you dowloaded elsewhere. This is how you will install plugins that you can’t find via the search in WordPress, such as WP Rocket.
Here are the steps to installing a WordPress plugin:
- Go to “Plugins –> Add New”.
- Search for the plugin that you want and click Install Now.
- Once it’s installed click “Activate “and you’re done. Sometimes plugins will have settings to configure and you can do this by finding the plugin either in the main menu bar or under Settings or Tools.
- If you can’t find the plugin you are searching for, go to Google and look it up. Download the plugin ZIP file from the plugin companies website.
- Go to “Plugins –> Add New –> Upload Plugin”.
- Locate the ZIP file on your computer and upload.
- Click “Install Now”.
- Click “Activate.”
How to Publish Your First Blog Post
Publish your first blog post is very straightforward. We’ll go over the steps below.
Step 1. Go to the menu on the left and click on “Posts”.
You will see that there is already a post titled “Hello, World.” You can go ahead and delete this as it’s just a sample. Click “Trash” to delete this blog post.
Step 2. Click on “Add New.”
You are now in the post editor screen. This is where you will title and write blog posts, add tags and categories to your post and optimize it using the Yoast SEO plugin you installed earlier.
Step 3. Title and write your blog post.
Enter a title for your blog post where it says “Enter Title Here” then start typing your content in the main area.
Note: If you’re starting in 2019, WordPress now uses what’s called the “Gutenberg” block editor so you unless you install the “Classic Editor” plugin, your “Add New “screen isn’t going to look like the screenshot above. Read more about this here.
Step 4. Click publish.
It’s really as simple as that. Once you click “Publish” your post is live and you can go to your blog to view it.
Remove the “Coming Soon” Page
If your blog is still showing a “Coming Soon” page, you can now go ahead and turn it off by clicking on “Bluehost” in the main menu. Click the “Launch” button to remove the “Coming Soon” page and make your blog live.
Configuring WordPress Settings
Now that you’ve got a theme and plugins installed, let’s go over some WordPress configuration settings you may want to consider.
Updating Your Site Title and Tagline
To do this, hover over “Settings” in the main menu then click on “General“. Enter your blog name for the title and a short tagline describing your site. Mine is Super Simple Vegan Recipes. You can change this at anytime so no need to think about it too much right now.
Delete Sample Content
We already deleted the sample “Hello, World” blog post. You will find a “Sample Page” under Pages –> All Pages. Delete this by clicking on trash and finally, delete any pre-installed plugins you don’t need. You can remove anything you don’t need by clicking “Deactivate” and then “Delete”.
If You chose “Add Domain Later”
If you chose to “add domain later” in Step 1, here’s what you need to do to add it once you’re ready. Because Bluehost accounts come with one free domain registration, your account was credited for a free domain.
Once you’re ready, login to your Bluehost account using the password you set up in step 8. Once you’ve logged in:
- Click “Domain” in the menu on the left.
- Use the “New Domain Search” to choose your domain then click “Get Started“.
- At checkout, the balance will be zero since you already had a credit on your account. Complete the checkout process.
- You will now see the domain you picked under the “Domains” section of your Bluehost account. Make sure it’s selected.
- Beside that section, under the “Main” tab, scroll down to “cPanel type” and click “Assign“.
That’s it. Your blog is now updated with your new domain name. It may take a few hours before it full registers so don’t panic if doesn’t work right away.
Beginner Blogger FAQ
What should I spend money vs. where can I save when starting out?
All you need to start is hosting, so you’re looking at just a few dollars per month for that. There is nothing else you need to get started or grow your blog.
If you want to splurge on a dedicated server, you can upgrade your Bluehost plan to do so however, you’ll be looking at $80-100 per month vs. $5-10. A shared server is just fine when you’re starting out so I don’t think there’s any need to take on the extra cost until you have blog traffic that demands a dedicated server.
Another good place to invest a little money at the start is on a premium WordPress theme. Here are my suggestions for premium WordPress themes:
- Genesis by Studiopress. I used this theme for years before switching to a custom theme. It’s excellent with great support, fully responsive and SEO optimized. You’ll want to choose a child theme to go along with the Genesis Framework. Genesis itself is $59.95 and child theme packages are range from about $99-125.
- Generatepress. Generatepress offers an excellent free WordPress theme with premium add-ons. The free theme is a great place but for $49.95 you get full access to their site library.
That being said, the number one thing to focus on right out of the get-go is creating quality content.
What are some useful blogging tools?
- Tailwind. $9.99 per month and invaluable when it comes to Pinterest scheduling. They do have a free version though so even if you can’t sign up for the premium version right now, go ahead and get started with the free. You’ll be limited to the number of pins you can schedule but it will still be immensely helpful. Sign up here.
- PicMonkey. If you’re not ready to invest in Adobe Create Suite, Picmonkey is an easy to use, inexpensive solution to learning software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Sign up here.
- Google Analytics. A powerful free tool to learn about how visitors are finding your blog and what they do when they get there. Best part, it’s free!
- Google Search Console. Another free service from Google that offers powerful insight into your site performance.
What is the number one thing I should focus on from the beginning?
There are actually two areas I suggest focusing on from the very start, well, three, number one is to create great content, after that, do this:
- Learn email marketing and grow your email list. Social media is wonderful and can be a great tool for growing your blog but you don’t own those followers. Algorithms change and platforms come and go so it’s not a great idea to put all your effort into social media growth. Start growing your email list from day 1.
- Learn SEO. Read, Google, YouTube, study, take courses, do what you need to do to learn about SEO. You can have the most amazing content in the world but if no one can find it, it’s not going to get you very far. Even if you just learn the basics and implement those from your very first blog post onwards, you’ll be off to a great start. Do not ignore this!
As I wrote this post, I started realizing how much more there is to cover. We need to get into how to promote your blog, what pages you should have and how to add them, adding images, how to monetize your blog, optimizing for SEO, what to blog about, planning content and so much more.
If you want to get a head start on promoting your blog, I would recommend setting up all your social media accounts with your blog name. You’ll want to get an Instagram and Pinterest account and set up a Facebook page. You can also start an account with Mailchimp or one of the other providers I recommend on my blogging resources page.
If you have any questions or get stuck at any time, leave me a comment below and I’d be happy to walk you through the process of getting your blog up and running.