How to Start Your Own Blog in 8 Steps—A Tutorial
This tutorial contains an affiliate link for Bluehost, the hosting service we used to start our first websites.
Now that you’ve decided you want to start a blog, let's walk through the eight steps to getting your own blog up and running.
1. Pick a topic for your blog.
What do you want your blog to be about? There is a blog for almost every single topic on the internet. The more niche of a subject, the higher likelihood that you can develop a following for your blog (if that’s your goal).
For example, our blog is all about working and traveling America in an RV. While there are a lot of people who aspire to travel the country in an RV, there are fewer people who want to work while on the road. We write blog content and record podcasts specifically for people who want to create an income while they travel.
So we went from the wide niche of travel, scaled down to RV travel, scaled down to RV travel while running a business. The smaller and more specific the topic of your website, the easier it will be for people to find and follow you.
A few pieces of advice before picking your niche:
- Pick a subject that you love and could write about for years (if you get sick of writing about the subject after 50 blog posts, it’s not a good subject!)
- Take an inventory of the things you love talking about and the common questions your friends and family ask you. People always ask us about life in the RV and running our businesses while traveling, hence how we built out blog topic!
- Combine multiple topics to create your niche. We don't just talk about building a business, we combine that with traveling in an RV. We also could've paired building a business with working with your spouse or RVing America with full-time world travel. When you stack two things you're passionate about (preferably two things that can intersect, writing a blog about yoga and antique cars won't work!), you have a better chance of being the best in your small niche.
2. Decide what you want your domain to be.
What's a domain?
Your domain or URL is your website's address. i.e. www.heathandalyssa.com
When Heath and I were dating, he had more than FIVE blogs. theimportantblog, wordswithheath, happiness4sale, and plenty of others that had all been started and abandoned.
Now, we've combined our efforts into HeathandAlyssa.com. It's simple, easy to remember (though not easy to spell!), and straight to the point. You instantly know this is a website by Heath and Alyssa.
Now that you know what subject you’re going to be blogging about, you need to decide on a name for your blog.
The name of your blog is a BIG deal! And no pressure, but it is NOT easy to change and migrate your site to a new URL after you get started. We went through this headache when we combined our separate HeathPadgett.com and AlyssaPadgett.com websites into just HeathandAlyssa. Starting with a good domain will save you future headaches!
We really struggled to decide on HeathandAlyssa.com. Most RV bloggers use some kind of cutesy travel name, but we knew that we wanted to keep blogging after our stint in the RV life. This was the reason we chose our name as our blog. This way, if we decide to give up the RV life at some point, we can continue blogging on our site without needing to switch.
Bonus: Now we will for sure stay married forever because divorcing our two websites would be a nightmare. Plus we love each other.
If possible, pick a domain name that is relevant to your subject. Here are a couple blogs I follow and whose names I really like. It’s witty and descriptive of who they are and what their blog is about.
- GoneWiththeWynns.com (a travel blog by Jason and Nikki Wynn)
- DitchingSuburbia.com (a blog for families about ditching the suburbs to hit the road)
Here’s a few tips on choosing a domain name:
- Make it short and memorable
- Don’t use any dashes or weird symbols that are difficult to type
- Avoid difficult to spell words
- Make it relevant to your topic
- Use an appropriate name extension (.com is still by far the most popular, but you can also use a .me if you’re just going to be a personal blog)
We chose our names because our goals with blogging involve publishing books and public speaking. If you plan on publishing books especially, you may consider choosing your name (or pen name) as your domain.
Where to buy domains:
- Bluehost— A good place to buy your domain, especially if you choose them for hosting!
- GoDaddy— I prefer searching for available domain names on GoDaddy.com, just because they give you good alternative options if your desired name isn’t available. However, I recommend buying through Bluehost for better price and ease of use.
3. Buy hosting for your blog.
After buying your domain, you have to buy hosting through a provider, such as Bluehost. We’ve used Bluehost to set up our blogs. You can also register your domain directly through Bluehost, which makes life a lot easier.
What is hosting?
For every website you go to, there is a hosting provider that allows that website to be online. Somewhere, there is a warehouse of physical "servers" that power various websites. In order to launch any website, you need to "host" it on a server. I like to think of hosting fees to be like the property taxes you pay to own your property space online.
Bluehost is a trusted company myself and many others have used for hosting.
This can be the most confusing part of setting up of blog, so here's some screenshots to walk you through the process!
First, go to Bluehost.com and click “Get Started”
Then, you will select your plan.
Basic should be good enough to get you started. You can always upgrade later if you need to! However, the “plus” plan will give you quite a bit more storage on your site if you’re planning on uploading a lot of photos and videos.
Next (if you haven’t already done so), you’ll want to register domain. (Note: When you sign up for Bluehost hosting you’ll receive a free domain with your hosting plan).
While on the check out page you can select any extras you’d like to include with your hosting. I typically only include the domain privacy protection so as to keep my information private, which is only $.99/month.
4. Connect your domain and hosting.
You can skip to step 5 if you set up your domain through Bluehost.
If you bought your domain through a site like Godaddy, you’ll need to switch your DNS servers to point over at Bluehost. Here’s how to do that.
- Log into your Godaddy account and go to your domain manager section.
- Click the domain you want to point to Bluehost.
- Launch the domain manager and under the Nameservers tab, click on “manage”.
- Select the Name Servers as custom and then change them to point at the default nameservers of Bluehost, which are:
Next, you’ll need to add the domain you bought through Godaddy as an add-on domain within your Bluehost Account. To do this you’ll log into your Bluehost Account, click on “Domains” and then click “Assign”.
5. Connect your Bluehost with your WordPress.
Now that you’ve bought your domain and hosting, you can get to the fun stuff… launching a WordPress site! WordPress is by far the most popular blogging and content management system in the world. I’ve used it on every site I’ve ever built and it makes it super easy to launch your site.
Now hold onto your hats, because there are a lot of steps here! But don’t worry, Bluehost makes this very, very easy for you!
- Log into your Bluehost account (You should see a dashboard that looks similar to this)
- Click on Install WordPress
- Select Get Started
- Select the domain name you want to be hosted on WordPress
- Click on Advanced Options. Here you’ll add your site name and title (which you can always update later). Accept the “Admin Username” and “Admin Password” that Bluehost suggests. You can always change your password, but be sure to write down and remember your username! This you won’t be able to change.
- You should receive an email with a link that will take you directly to your new WordPress Login on your site. For future reference, you can always type yoururl.com/wp-admin and it will take you to the login form.
Woohoo! You’ve got a WordPress site!
6. Log into WordPress.
It’s time to get started on building your site!
First login to your WordPress account. It will automatically take you to your “Dashboard” or the back-end of your website. Only you will ever see this. Here you’ll see a left-hand menu guiding you to where you can add posts, pages, media, plugins, etc.
Now, you’ll want to install a theme to get up and running on your site.
Once you’re inside your WordPress account, you can go to Appearance (you should see it on that left-hand menu) and click on Themes to install your first WordPress theme. WordPress comes with many free themes out of the box, but you can also Google search “free WordPress blog themes” and find a plethora of themes to choose from.
7. Write your first post.
Before you get too lost in the theme wormhole, let’s get content on your website! Go to Posts > Add New to start your first blog. Your page should look something like this:
Go ahead and write your first blog to test everything out. A good first topic is an introduction to the blog explaining why you’re starting it and what you plan on blogging about. This would also be a great place to add a call to action for people to join your email list to receive your blogs every time you post. I'll talk more about setting up your email list in the next lesson.
8. Check out your new site!
After you hit publish on your first post, let’s see how your blog looks! There will be a “View Post” button at the top of your page after you hit publish.
If you haven’t added a theme yet, your site will look very basic. But hey, it’s up, it’s live, and you already have one post! That’s awesome!
If you struggle to learn Wordpress starting out, don't worry! There is a learning curve, but it's easy to figure it out! You can use Youtube tutorials or sites like Lynda.com to find answers to any questions you may have on how to use Wordpress.
I’ve learned that with blogging, the hardest part is consistently posting content for your readers. It’s not difficult to start a blog or pick a subject to talk about. You can work through the above tutorial in an hour! It is difficult to write new posts every day or every week, especially when you have little to no readership. But don’t get discouraged, this is all part of the process! Every blogger starts at zero.
Use this tutorial to start your first blog!