The ULTIMATE guide to starting your own successful blog [step by step with no steps skipped]
When I first decided to create this website I had a goal in mind to give readers a quick and easy guide to starting a blog without it being a painfully long and boring tutorial. I hope this guide will help the maximum number of people create their own successful blogs!
If you think there are others that would benefit from reading this guide PLEASE SHARE!
In order to create a comprehensive yet understandable guide to blogging, the guide had to be fairly long. So grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable because the guide is roughly 4,000 words and will take about 20 minutes to read. It’s totally worth it though when you’re a successful blogger and you’ve learned how to avoid the expensive mistakes that most people make when starting a blog! Start with step one and don’t panic if you get stuck. Just send me an email and I’ll help you out.
Ready, set, GO!
There are five steps to follow when creating a blog. I’ll go through each one in depth so don’t worry if you don’t understand right off the bat. You’ll get there!
1. Choose your blogging platform
2. Choose a domain name and host
3. Customize and edit your blog
4. Write posts and add pages
5. Get traffic and make it successful
Step 1: Getting Started – Choose your Blogging Platform
Choosing your blogging platform is the first think you need to do before you start to think about what your blog will look like. There are tons of platforms to choose from such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and so many others. There are, however, over 72 million people in the world using WordPress so it’s clear that it can be trusted and is a great blogging platform. I use WordPress for many different reasons:
- It’s FREE! Themes, layouts, and other add-ons are included while other blogging platforms don’t provide them.
- Extremely easy to set up
- It’s secure. WordPress is constantly updating software and making sure everything is safe and sound to protect your blog from hackers.
- It is very easily customized. There are hundreds of choices when it comes to themes and plugins for your blog that adds functionality and user friendliness.
In short, just go with WordPress. It’s super easy to use and it’s perfect for new bloggers. The customization it offers just doesn’t compare to the others!
WAIT! Don’t download anything yet. We’ll go through that part in a little bit. First…
DON’T create a blog on a FREE platform. Why? Let me tell you…
You NEED to self-host your blog. Trust me.
Are there any famous or successful bloggers that you can think of who use a free blogging website and have a name like, “TextBullet.freeblogs.com?” No? I didn’t think so. Successful bloggers have their own domain name like, “TextBullet.com.” Aside from this issue, free blogging platforms have a wide range of other problems.
- The blogging platform has control over your content – you don’t. They could literally shut down your blog at any time and for any reason. You wouldn’t want to work so hard to start a blog only to have it shut down by your free platform.
- The web address will be hard to remember because it will be so long. If people can remember your catchy blog name they are more likely to visit your blog.
- Advertising is a no-no on most free blogging platforms. If you want to make money off of blogging, having advertisements is the best way to do so.
These problems occur on the WordPress.COM blogs. You don’t want one of these blogs, though. you will want a self-hosted WordPress blog because it’s the same software without these issues.
If you just want to try blogging for a while to see if you like it, one of the free platforms would be perfectly fine. If you want to have a successful blog you will need your own domain and host it yourself. It will give you credibility, an audience, and it can make you money.
Finding a domain name and web hosting provider
This is where things get fun!! You will only need two things to set up your self-hosted blog:
1. A Domain Name – This will be your personal address that people go to when visiting your blog. A domain name usually costs about 10 dollars per year, but you can get it much cheaper. I’ll explain that part later in the article.
2. Web Hosting – You won’t be able to use your blog address unless you have web hosting. Think if the web host as a hard drive that saves all of your blog content and stores it. Web hosting is very important and inexpensive, ranging from 2-5 dollars per month.
Where do I get a domain name and hosting?
There are only two things that matter when it comes to hosting:
1. How fast the page loads – This basically means the average amount of time it takes for your blog to load.
2. Uptime – Aim for 100% uptime. 99.9% isn’t enough uptime because that is 42 minutes of downtime per month.
There are tons of different websites that provide web hosts. I have had many experiences with a variety of them and they all have a very similar price. The one website that I always use and recommend is www.HostGator.com for domain names and web hosting. The reason for this is that HostGator is by far the best when it comes to loading speed and uptime.
You honestly can’t go wrong with HostGator. Their performance is phenomenal, it is user-friendly, and is great for beginners.
There are tons of web hosts that all do pretty much the same thing. As long as your choice is fast and reliable, you’ll avoid future problems and difficulties.
Step 2: Time to set up your blog!
If you haven’t figured out a hosting or domain name yet, don’t panic. We’ll go through it soon. After you complete this step, you’ll have a working blog with your own domain name! Awesome, right??
**If you aren’t interested in using HostGator (which I highly recommend you use, but it’s your choice) don’t be afraid to try another hosting provider. The registration and setup should be very similar. If the hosting company you choose doesn’t have a one-click install for WordPress, you can install it manually but this is not ideal for beginners.
1. Go to https://www.hostgator.com/web-hosting and pick your hosting plan
REMEMBER: Because I’ve been using HostGator, I pulled some strings and provided a discount for the people who use this guide (25% off). The discount should be applied automatically.
The “Hatchling” plan is a great one to start out with. You can definitely upgrade later if you want but the hatchling plan provides more than enough for starting your blog.
2. Choose your domain name:
IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DOMAIN NAME: choose ” I already own this domain”, enter it in the box and move on to the next step.
How to choose a good domain name:
Choosing a domain name is critical to the success of your blog and you would be surprised at how many people make the mistake of choosing a bad one. When you’re choosing a name there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- Keep it easy – Don’t choose a name that’s hard to spell, confusing, full of dashes, or complete nonsense. Choose something that will stay in someone’s head and something that feels natural saying out loud.
- Make it unique – You’ll want to choose a name that shows the person reading your blog who you are. Don’t be afraid to get creative because this is how people will know your blog!
- Make it descriptive – You’ll want to choose a name that gives your readers an idea of what your blog is about.
- Make it trustworthy – Use domain extensions such as “.com,” “.org,” or “.net.” Don’t use extensions like “.rocks” or “.biz” because they are less commonly used, not as trusted, and way harder to remember.
Once you decide on a domain name, type it in the box and hit “Enter”. If the name is available, it’s yours! If not, you’ll have to choose a different one.
If the name you want isn’t available, HostGator has a feature that will show you alternatives that are similar to the one you wanted in the first place. Just make sure you use something that ends in .com, .net, or .org.
3. Complete Registration
Once you have chosen a plan and found a good, available name, you’ll register it. This is done by inputting your contact and billing information. Next, you’ll be able to customize the package you choose. This is a great opportunity to save many so make sure to read through everything carefully! At the bottom of the page, it will say “coupon code.” In the box provided type “TEXTBULLET25” for your 25% off!
1. Domain Privacy Protection (DPP) hides your registration information. If you want to be anonymous, this is a good option. If not, uncheck the box.
2. Uncheck all other boxes. These boxes honestly aren’t really worth the money and if you really want them later you can add them.
4. Log into your account and install WordPress
HostGator might take a minute to get your account all registered so you’ll have to be a little patient. You’ll get an email when your account is all ready to go.
Once you’ve received the email and logged into the control panel, you will need to install WordPress. It’s super easy and only takes one click!
- Login to your HostGator control panel
- Click “get started with WordPress today” at the top of the screen
- If WordPress doesn’t show up for some reason, there is another way to install it. Scroll down until you see “Quick Install” under the Software and Services section. WordPress should be at the top of the page in the left sidebar.
After you click on WordPress, you’ll be directed to Mojomarketplace.com. Don’t worry! This website is totally safe and helps HostGator install WordPress and other platforms.
A screen will come up with the option to either install or import WordPress. Click INSTALL and go to the next step.
After you’re done, install WordPress. You’ll have a loading bar at the top of your screen that tells you when the installation is finished and you’ll see your log-in information.
5. Congratulations! You can now log in and explore your new blog!
When the software finishes installing, you’ll receive an email about your log-in information and an “Admin URL.”
To log in, click the Admin URL. If you forget what it is, just remember it is www.yourblog.com/wp-admin (“yourblog” is your domain name).
PHEW! You are now able to create a blog with WordPress. You even installed WordPress and set up the blog without any help or tears! Hopefully, it was easy and straightforward enough.
Step 3: Configure, Design, and Make it YOURS!
This section will include some important basic things to know about WordPress. These include getting to know the WordPress dashboard, changing the design of your blog, installing new features, and making sure your blog is search engine friendly.
You’re ready to start using WordPress to customize your blog once it’s all set up! It can seem overwhelming and difficult at first but I promise it’ll be super fun and easy.
UNDERSTANDING THE WORDPRESS DASHBOARD
You will see a dashboard on your screen the first time you log in. It will look similar to this:
NEW BLOGGERS: These are the most important icons and features for you to know
- Dashboard: Shows you a summary of your recent activity. This includes the number of posts, comments, and pages you have. If you want to you can write a quick blog post here but that won’t be necessary after I show you the better way to do it later in this guide.
- Posts: This is where to go when you want to add a new post or edit one that you have already made.
- Media: This is where all of your pictures, videos, and audio files are stored. This is also where you manage those files.
- Comments: This is where you can control your comments. You can check comments that are waiting to be approved, see what comments WordPress marked as spam, and delete comments you don’t want to be seen on your blog.
- Appearance: This is the fun part! This is where you get to make your blog your own. You can install new themes and layouts. We’ll talk about how to do this later on.
- Plugins: This is where to go when you want to install a new plugin. This would include a photo gallery or SEO tool. Again, we’ll go through exactly how to do this later on.
- Settings: This is the last section but certainly not least important. In settings, you will be able to change the title of your blog, edit your email address, and manage all of the other important settings that go into creating the perfect blog.
CHANGING THE DESIGN
WordPress uses design templates called “Themes.” These will help you figure out how your blog should look. Changing the look of your blog is super easy! All you have to do is install a new theme.
Speaking of themes, there are over 2,000 incredible, professional, customizable themes to choose from. With that many themes, you’re sure to find at least one you like! If none of these themes appeal to you, www.themeforest.net is a great place to look for more.
FIND AND INSTALL YOUR FAVORITE THEME
Put your mouse over the “appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar. Click on “themes.”
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Next, it will take you to a page of pre-installed themes. If you aren’t loving those options, click “add new” at the top of the page or the giant “add new” square. These will help you start browsing other themes.
Next, there will be featured, popular, and new themes tabs. You will also see a “feature filter” and a search bar.
The “Feature Filter” tab is awesome because you can customize your search. This is done by choosing certain color schemes and layouts. All you have to do is choose the options you want and then click “apply filters.” If this doesn’t work or it’s too difficult, you can just search by keyword!
Click “Install” once you find a theme that you love. Almost done!!
When it’s finished installing, all you have to do is click “Activate” on the next screen.
INSTALLING A NEW PLUGIN
I know we’ve talked a lot about plugins but I haven’t really explained exactly what they are or what they mean. A plugin is a little software module that is used to add cool features and tools to your blog. They have tons of functions, including:
- Adding contacts
- Reducing comment spam
- Making the blog SEO-Friendly
- Creating newsletter sign-up forms
- Adding photo galleries
And TONS more! It’s super easy to install these. You’ll want to put your mouse over “’plugins” in the sidebar, then click “add new.”
Now just search by keyword to find and add plugins for tons of different things!
When you find your desired plugin, all you have to click “Install Now” and “Activate Plugin” on the following page.
Although these plugins are generally awesome and easy to work with, you have to be careful. It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research on the plugin you want to install before you install it. The reason for this is that sometimes the plugin can cause problems with your theme or security. Sometimes they simply just don’t work well. As long as you do your homework and find out what plugins work best you should be fine!
Another thing to remember is to make sure your plugins are always updated. WordPress will typically notify you when there is an update needed though so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that.
If you don’t know which plugins to use at first, have a look at this blog post.
CONFIGURING A SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY BLOG
In order to make your blog search engine friendly, you need to know the two things that search engines DO NOT like.
1. Search engines hate ugly URLs. http://yourblog.com/2012/04/topic-a/author-awesome-blogger/how-to-start-a-blog IS NOT A PRETTY URL. A much better way to go about this would be http://yourblog.com/start-a-blog.
To make your links cleaner and easier to read, click on “settings” then “permalinks” and use the following settings:
2. The second thing that search engines despise is spam comments. It’s unfortunate that people love to leave automated spam comments on your blog to advertise or get people to look at their blog (rude). However, it’s just a fact of life.
To avoid this, make sure you keep track of and approve every comment that is posted. Go to “settings,” then “discussion” and click these two options:
MANAGING USER INFORMATION
If you ever find yourself needing to change your user details, password, or add another person who can access your blog, you’ll need to know how to manage your user details.
To do this, put your mouse over the “users” tab on the menu.
ADDING A NEW USER
Click the “add new” link in the user’s section. You will be directed to this page:
Next, you’ll need to fill in the details for the user you’re adding. This includes a password that you can share with that person. You could send it to them through email but that isn’t the most secure way to do it. The last thing you want is a hacker getting access to your password!!
REMEMBER—The “role” that you choose from the drop-down menu will be the feature that determines what this new user is able to do.
- “Subscribers” can only manage their own profiles. They can’t change content.
- “Administrators” can make any changes and add new users
- “Authors” can write and publish their own posts but they don’t have control over the other content of the blog.
- “Contributors” can write and manage their own posts but they don’t have the power to actually publish them.
- “Editors” can publish and manage posts. They have control over all of the posts, including ones from other users.
Step 4: Adding/Writing Blog Posts and Pages
At this point, you should have a fully functional WordPress blog with your own domain name. HOORAY!! However, you’re not done yet even though I’m super proud of you for getting this far. Great job!!!
This section will not tell you how to write your blog posts or give you tips on writing them because that will come in the next section. This section will focus on the following:
- How to write a post in WordPress
- How to format text and add images and links
- Tips and trick for writing stellar content
USING A WORDPRESS BLOG
Adding a New Post
To add a new blog post, click “Posts” then click on “Add New.”
Your next screen will look like this:
Add the title of your blog post in the top bar. You’ll want to write your content in the big text box right below the title.
You will be able to save your draft or publish your content by using the menu on the right side of the page. If you want you can even schedule the post to be published at a certain time. You can also make the post private if you only want certain people to see it.
After your post is published, you’ll be able to find it in the “all posts” section. If you want to edit it, you can do so at any time.
When it comes to creating actual content for your blog, it is SUPER important that your content is good. If you don’t have good content, you won’t have followers. Good content makes you a reliable source, it will draw more people to your blog, you’ll move up in the ranks, and your blog will become an overall success. If you’re worried about not coming up with awesome content, don’t worry! I totally understand that some of us, or most of us, have very busy lives with little to no time for coming up with blog content. Or, maybe you just don’t like writing at all. No matter the case, there are options!! Our blog writing service at TextBullet.com will make it simple to hire real writers to come up with content and write it for you at awesome prices. Cool, right??
Now that you’ve mastered posting I’ll teach you how to add a little fun to your posts.
Click the “add media” button right above the lower content field to add an image to your post. Make sure your cursor stays inside of your post exactly where you want your image. Otherwise, you’ll have to move it later.
Click “upload files” tab on the screen that pops up, and then click “select files.”
When you find the file, double-click on it and WordPress will upload it automatically for you. Once the upload is complete, make sure the image you want is selected. Click “insert into post.” This will add the image to the post.
ADDING A LINK
Adding links to other websites is key to building relationships with other bloggers and sharing good content.
To add a link, click the icon in the toolbar that looks like a chain link.
You’ll need to type some information into the box that pops up. It shouldn’t be too difficult to follow.
- URL is the web address of the link you’re sharing. Don’t forget to include “http://” or else your link won’t work.
- “Link Text” is the text that your reader will click on to go to the link.
- “Open link in a new window/tab” is a box that should be checked so the reader doesn’t leave your blog when they click the link.
- Linking an existing page is done by using the “search” section. You can find any post you’ve created and click it to add to a link.
Click “Add Link” and your link will be added where your cursor was left in your post.
ADDING HEADERS AND EDITING TEXT
Using headers and bold text make your posts and content way easier to read.
Click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar to add a heading.
Try to use “Heading 1” one time in your page. Using headings 2 and 3 for other sections is better for search engines. You can also highlight the parts of the text you want to change and then click on the drop-down menu to select the format for the text.
Bolding, italics, underlining, and color change to a text can be done in a few quick clicks.
Step 5: MAKE YOUR BLOG SUCCESSFUL
You finally have an awesome blog and know the basics of how to make it your own. Now it’s time to make your blog a success. This is something that many beginner bloggers struggle with so I’ve provided a few tips on how to make getting started a little easier.
AFTER YOU’VE CREATED YOUR BLOG:
- Create a Contact page and an About Me page. These pages are usually the most visited on a blog and are critical to your success as a blogger.
- Creating a perfect about me page (This is usually the most visited page on your blog)
- Adding a Contact Page/Form on your blog (So that your readers could contact you)
FINISHED ALREADY? READ THESE POSTS:
- 21 dangerous blogging mistakes (That many bloggers do, including me)
- Where to find FREE images for your blog (Without breaking the copyright)
WANT TO TAKE IT FURTHER?
Once you have some good content, it’s time to make the blog profitable. Here are some fantastic articles on how to do this.
- Get more traffic to your blog (I’ve used those techniques personally and they’ve worked well)
- How to monetize your blog (Affiliate marketing, selling advertising space, getting new clients etc…)
- Add a subscription box (So you could email your blog visitors personally)
- Set up Google Analytics (For tracking your blog visitors)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What blog site should I use?
A: WordPress is the most popular platform, powering over 25% of the web! Best of all: it’s free.
Q: What blog should I start?
A: Recipe blogs, fitness blogs, and business blogs are some of the most popular. Here’s how to pick a blog topic people will really want to read.
Q: How do bloggers make money?
A: There are a number of ways including advertising and digital products, but some people just do it for fun. Check out this article on How To Make Money From Your Blog.
Q: Are blogs social media?
A: Blogs can be considered social media because they have comments and social interactions. However, from a technical standpoint, analytics software does not count blog traffic as social media traffic.
Q: Is blogging dead?
A: No way! Over 409 million people read blog posts every month. You’re reading one right now!
Q: What’s the difference between a blog and a website?
A: Blogs are frequently updated with articles while a website is generally “set it and forget it”. Blogs might have fewer features than a website and just focus on creating really good content. For this reason, a blog is more socially active, with shares and comments.