This post contains affiliate links. You can view my disclosure here.
I get asked this question a lot in my email, so I thought that I’d just write a post about it – finally! 🙂
A lot of people would like to start a blog nowadays. Blogs are great for people who like to write, people who want to help people with a specific problem, people who want to help advertise their business, and so much more. Blogging is great for so many reasons!
But starting a blog can seem confusing and intimidating for a lot of people. I know that when I first started, I sort of had no clue what I was doing. I’ve only been at it for about a year and a half now, but I’ve learned so much, and I would love to help you learn as well!
Today we’re just going to talk about getting your blog up and running, though. If you follow these steps, I really think that you’ll be off to a strong start! I’m going to try to keep it simple, but this post will talk about actually setting up your website, getting a theme and plugins, starting your email list, and more!
So here are my steps for starting a blog and my tips for what you should do after it’s set up in order to make sure it’s successful!
Step 1: Decide what you want to blog about.
Before you do anything else, you need to really figure out what you want to blog about. For example, I knew that I had been through life experiences that I could turn into advice, I’ve always loved to write, plus I wanted to help women. So I started my blog: theinspirationlady.com.
Start a blog about something that you love. If you don’t love what you’re blogging about, your blog is going to go nowhere. Some examples for blog topics are:
- Personal finance
- Product reviews
- Family life/parenting
- Home decor
- Pretty much anything!
Consider what your purpose for blogging is, too! Do you want to help a group of people with a specific problem, to you want to offer a service and use your blog as a way to promote it, do you just want to talk about life in general – what is your reason?
Side note: A lot of people say that you need a “narrow niche” to be a successful blogger, but I tend to disagree with that. My blog was started mainly as a self-improvement blog but I also talk about other things like health, beauty, and books. I do have a specific purpose for everything I talk about though: to help women. But I know of plenty of successful bloggers that talk about a little bit of everything and I think that there are definitely people out there who are into that. So I say to do whatever you want! 🙂
Step 2: Register your domain & sign up for hosting.
This might sound scary, but it’s not!
I think of a web host as the landlord that provides the “home” for your blog. It’s important to have one that is reliable and has a good reputation.
HostGator is a very reliable, inexpensive web host. They’re easy to work with and they have great plans!
Since you’re just starting out, I recommend going with the Hatchling Plan – it starts at just $3.95 a month.
After you choose your plan, it’s time to pick your domain name.
If your web host is your landlord, then your domain name is like your house. It’s where your blog lives. (Okay I’ll stop with these comparisons now!)
For example, my domain name is “The Inspiration Lady”. It’s www.yourdomainname.com.
Be sure you really think about what you want your blog to be called because you don’t want to regret your decision later! Trust me. There are moments that I love my blog name but sometimes I wish I had thought about it more, haha!
Chances are, the domain name you’re wanting is probably already taken, so you might have to tweak it a little bit. For example, I’m using theinspirationlady.com, so obviously, that’s unavailable.
But theinspirationlady.online is available, so let’s just go with that. 😛
Once you find which domain name you want, select it. Add in your billing information, select any add-ons, and then complete the checkout process!
Step 3: Install WordPress.
Installing WordPress is also pretty simple. First, check your email. You should have an email from HostGator containing your username and password, a link to your Customer Portal, and some other important info. Be sure you keep this email in case you need it later!
But for now, click the link in the email to access your Customer Portal, log in, and click Hosting on the top menu, then scroll down and click “Get Started with WordPress Today”.
This will open a new window. Select your domain name, and then click Next.
Enter all of your information, and then click Install.
It may take a little while for everything to get installed, so don’t worry if your website doesn’t show up when you first try to access it.
Whenever it’s ready, go to yourwebsite.com/wp-admin (like theinspirationlady.online/wp-admin) to access your WordPress control panel. This is the address you’ll use to manage your blog.
Step 4: Choose a good theme & install it.
Take the time to really find a good theme because it’s going to be the first impression that people get of your blog.
I recommend Beautiful Dawn Designs and Studio Mommy, if you’re looking for a good theme that’s also inexpensive. (Studio Mommy created the theme I’m using!) You can also find really pretty themes at a good price on Creative Market.
If you aren’t ready to invest any more money into your blog yet, check out these 30 free, feminine WordPress themes. They’re good quality for free themes!
When you purchase your theme (or download your free one) you should get a .zip folder containing the theme.
To install your new theme, follow these steps:
- On the left navigation menu go to “Appearance” > “Themes”
- At the top of the page, select “Add New”
- At the top of the page, select “Upload Theme”
- Choose the .zip file and click “Install Now”
To customize your theme, go to “Appearance” > “Customize” and you can change your widgets, menus, sidebar, and… well, customize your theme. 😉
The rest of the steps are just my recommendations, they’re optional! 😛
Step 5: Download helpful plugins.
Plugins are different for everyone but there are a few plugins that I think are necessary/helpful for pretty much every blogger and I’ll list them in a second.
First, to install a plugin, go to yourblogname.com/wp-admin (like we talked about before!) and go to the left navigation, then select “Plugins” and at the top of the page, click on “Add New”. Here you can search for any plugins that you may need.
Here are the must-haves that I recommend:
- Akismet Anti-Spam (blocks spam comments)
- Magic Action Box (for email sign-up forms)
- SumoMe (for social media share buttons)
- Wordfence Security (for firewall, antivirus, etc.)
- Yoast SEO (to make SEO easier for you)
I also have plugins for other helpful things that aren’t necessary, like Click to Tweet, jQuery Pin It Button, and Google Analytics. Just browse through the plugins and see what seems helpful for you and your blog goals. Just don’t install too many and make sure they have a high number of “Active Installs” so you know they’re good/safe!
Step 6: Start blogging.
Now, this is the biggest step! I recommend publishing about 3 posts before you start promoting your blog so that people have at least something to read when they stumble across you.
Some people say to start on social media before you write anything, though. It’s just up to you and what you think – it’s not a make-you-or-break-you situation.
If you want to read about the super simple way that I plan my blog content, plus download a free printable editorial calendar to plan out your own blog posts, you can check out this post here.
Recommended reading: 150 Blog Post Ideas You Can Use Today
You definitely should be on some form of social media, though, if you want to promote your posts to a wide audience of people. I think you should focus on Pinterest if you want to get the most traffic the fastest, but it’s totally up to you.
Recommended reading: The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Bloggers
You could also use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Bloglovin’, Google+, LinkedIn. Just don’t overwhelm yourself – you don’t need to be on every form of social media! This is a mistake that I made when I first started blogging, and that’s why my profiles experienced such slow growth.
Step 7: Get involved in Facebook groups.
Facebook groups could be a real game-changer in terms of blogging. You can connect with other bloggers for support, collaborations, promotion, and more! I actually wrote a post about 7 awesome Facebook groups for bloggers. I would totally join them right away. I wish I would’ve when I started blogging because they are amazing!
It’s important to network with other bloggers whenever you can. This can be done through Facebook groups, by leaving comments on blog posts that you like, by interacting on social media, and any other way you can think of. Some really great blogging friendships can start with the small acts that you do to get on a blogger’s radar!
Step 8: Set up an email list.
I’m planning on doing a way more in-depth post about this since I’ve had a few requests for it but for now, I’ll just give you the bare basics that you need to know. Starting an email list is yet another thing that I really wish I would’ve done sooner for my blog, so my advice is to start yours right away!
I recommend MailerLite for your email service. I used to use MailChimp, but MailerLite is so much easier in my opinion, plus it’s much more affordable than ConvertKit and you still have everything you need. It’s also free for up to 1,000 subscribers!
You can sign up for MailerLite here and create your list. Then, think of an opt-in freebie that you can make for your blog. For example, if you have a recipe blog, you can create a short PDF e-book of about 5 recipes and use that as your opt-in. If you blog about personal finance, you can create an emergency fund savings tracker and use that as your opt-in. You get the idea.
There’s my advice for how to start a successful blog! For more helpful advice, here are 4 more posts I recommend:
- Free Blogging Resources and Tools (including free pretty stock photos, free blogging courses, free e-books, and more!)
- 10 Things to Do In Your First 3 Months of Starting a Blog
- 10 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of Blogging
- 11 Monthly Tasks to Keep Your Blog Running Smoothly (free printable!)
If you used this tutorial to start a blog, leave your blog URL below – I’d love to check it out! 🙂