How to Start a Blog: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need

by Matt Banner | Get free updates of new posts here | Last Updated on

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Everyone wants to feel and achieve success and happiness in their lives.

You’re here because you’re considering starting a blog.

Forget what you’ve heard about making a blog. Creating your own is very simple and rather quick when you know what you’re doing.

This step-by-step guide below will show you EXACTLY how to get started, so that you can have your blog up and running in a matter of minutes.

Follow These 5 Simple and Easy Steps
To Create Your Blog

 

STEP 1: Define Your Blog’s Purpose and Topic

Creating a blog is super easy and you don’t need the technical skills of a programmer/coder to make it happen.

Here’s the first step:

Choose what your blog is going to be about.

This may sound cliche, but it has to come from your heart. If you want to write perfect blog posts, you need to know and love your chosen topic.

Before you start a blog, ask yourself a couple questions:

1) “Is there anything I’m extremely passionate about?”

2) “Is there something that I would enjoy blogging about that would seem effortless to me?”

By the way, if you ever get stuck with starting your blog, you can email me

Blog Post Ideas & Topics

“I want my blog to…”

  • Provide information on a subject I’m well versed in.
  • Entertain people with witty commentary, reviews, and editorials
  • Be a personal reflection of my thoughts and feelings – a blogging journal of sorts
  • Build my brand & promote my business through posts from various authors

 

Those are just a few motivations to start a blog. Once you know what your blog is going to do, the next step is finding a topic to write about.

Remember:

This is all about finding something that you’re both passionate and knowledgeable about. 

Here are a few blog topic ideas to get the brain juices flowing:

  • Gaming – Write about the video games you play, review them, and preview ones that are coming out. Your opinion matters, so tell the world what you think!
  • Politics – This is always going to stir the pot, so get your debates going with readers and let your voice be heard.
  • DIY – If you’re handy around the house, or you at least know how to build something from scratch, create a blog of step-by-step guides. Just don’t blog about “how to start a blog”, that’s already taken, by me.
  • Food – share recipes, review restaurants, talk about the weird kinds of food in the world today, whatever strikes your fancy.
  • Your Business – whether it’s an established brand or a burgeoning concept, you can promote your company through a blog and fill it with content from guest authors to promote your brand.
  • Travel – Are you a wanderlust? Share your experiences with the world! People flock to those that dare to travel or provide tips on how to travel on a budget
  • Or, create your own blogging topic!

 

In order to demonstrate the ease and simplicity of creating your own blog, I’ll give you one of my ideas (totally free by the way).

Here’s my idea: 

“Suspicious Cats.” Catchy huh? My blog is going to be about cats around the world and why they’re all up to something.

STEP 2: CHOOSING A BLOGGING PLATFORM

You have two options for your blog: you can choose from a list of the best free blog sites, or go with self-hosted. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Uh, I’m going to do the free one, obviously!”

CMS Breakdown

Self-Hosted Blogs Make You the BOSS

Here’s a cool thought: 

By purchasing your own domain, you’re essentially becoming a virtual pioneer, purchasing digital land to call your own.

One that isn’t regulated by governments.

A blog by the people, for the people.

Want to Know the Best Part?

People are blogging this way every day, and you can too!

You have your own website Domain name, your own beautiful website that you can make yourself, you have total control of what content goes up, how it looks, and your free to make the money you deserve!

A Small Investment is All It Takes

You’re going to need to get your hands on a domain, and that’s only going to cost you about $10 per year.

Finding that perfect domain name might take some time, but it’s totally worth it.

The other half of the equation is your hosting provider that keeps your blog up on the internet, but that’s going to cost about the equivalent of your morning coffee at Starbucks.

Now: 

We’re looking at around $4 a month to host a blog.

If you decide that blogging isn’t for you, (the odds of that are just under the potential for pigs to fly) you can cease your hosting service at any point.

Many services will also offer a 90 day money back guarantee as well.

Choose Your Hosting & Bring Your Blog to Life

When choosing your domain name, make sure it encompasses several key characteristics:

  • Something Catchy (you want people randomly inserting it into jingles, even if it doesn’t make any sense)
  • Simple, make it something you can remember off the top of your head (Mayan and Egyptian Hieroglyphs are off the table, sorry!)
  • A Special and Intriguing Name (“Suspicious Cats” is a great example)

Who Offers the Best Hosting?

The best way to handle the hosting and domain needs is to purchase both from the same provider.

You could get it from two different places, but that’s like buying a shirt from The Gap, and then going to another Gap location down the street for your pants.

Through my blogging years and working as a consultant for a digital marketing agency, I’ve used a number of hosting companies.

I’ve dealt with the likes of Bluehost, Dreamhost, Hostgator, etc. They all perform as advertised, but there’s some key differentiators that make them fall behind the level of quality you want and deserve for your blog.

This is Nuts: 

I was never really content with any of them.

A ton of these hosting companies have slow and lethargic customer service that really isn’t there to help you as quickly as you would like. In addition, they can tend to strangle your bandwidth, resulting in SLOW loading times for your page.

That’s not all: 

The problem with Bluehost & Hostgator isn’t poor service though, it’s an overabundance of new customers. These guys are about quantity, not quality, and the individual suffers for it. That being said, the general consensus picks Web Hosting Hub (as mentioned above).

To make this process easier on you, I got you a sweet deal on a domain AND hosting through Web Hosting Hub, which is the company that I highly recommend and personally use.

Now, let’s walk you through the process of setting up your blog.

STEP 3: SETTING UP YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG (Easy Mode)

How to Configure Your WordPress Blog in 10 Mins

All you have to do is navigate to Web Hosting Hub (using the links above and below), and my exclusive discount will be registered automatically.

Follow along with the screenshots I provided below and you’ll be able to get set up easily.

By The Way – If you visit WebHostingHub through my site, you can take advantage of my incredible discount (Over 40% OFF).

 

Here’s the EASY Step-by-Step Process

First, head over to www.WebHostingHub.com (click to open in a new tab)

then click the “View Hosting Plans” button. You should see a page like the one below.

(click the pictures to make them bigger!)

Web Hosting Hub Homepage-min

That’s the WebHostingHub home page where you’ll be able to see different pricing plans, choose your domain name and set up your hosting. Click on that huge orange button that says “Order Now” to begin this quick and easy process.

After you click “Order Now”, you’ll see a page (like below) where you’ll be able to check the availability of your domain name.

Choose Domain Name

 Choose the domain name of your choice to see if it’s current available for you to snatch up!

WebHostingHub will let you know if the name has been taken or not. Lucky for me, no one has had the genius idea to start a blog called “Suspicious Cats”, so I’m good! If you already have a domain name from another provider, input that into the box.

Once you’ve confirmed the domain name, click the “Next Step” button.

Now you should be on a page like that looks like the one below.

Confirm Domain Name Registration

 WHOIS Privacy is not essential, however if you want to keep your information hidden from the public so they don’t know this blog is yours, then keep the box checked. If not, uncheck the box and

save 10 bucks. Not bad…

Click continue and let’s move forward.

Below is where you can fill out your account information and set up payment for your exclusive discount on your subscription, hosting and domain provider.

Account Info

 Don’t worry about automated secure backups, Web Hosting Hub has a secure enough platform and is always willing to help with backups manually. Selecting “No Thanks” will net you another $12 back in your pocket.

Final Step

Disregard virus and anti-spam protection as well as upgrading to Dynamo.

Web Hosting Hub recently added an incredible feature where they will install the CMS WordPress on your new website for FREE. Skips a step and saves even more time!

Fill out your remaining personal information and then you’re all set.

WHH Payment

Click “PURCHASE”

and you’re good to go with your brand new website using WordPress!

Now how long did that take? About 9 minutes for me!

Haven’t started? Click the yellow button below to access my instant discount.

 

 setup hosting and get free domain

SETTING UP WORDPRESS ON YOUR DOMAIN

Now that you have a domain name and a hosting site, you’ll have to install your platform. Since WordPress is the most widely regarded one to use, we’ll walk through the steps to set up this aspect of your blog so you can get started.

If you’re looking for the express route and don’t want to read the instructions I created a video to help explain exactly how to finish this step. Scroll below for it.

Check Out this Video I Made That Details the Entire Process:

I highly recommend hosting for any website with WebHostingHub.com.

(Over 40% off through this EXCLUSIVE link).

Stuck? Email me & I’ll do it all for you!

By the Way – If you had trouble installing WordPress with your blog, don’t hesitate to give WP’s customer service line a call or just email me!

If you prefer to read the instructions on setting up your WordPress blog:

After you’ve finished registering for your hosting and domain, you may need to wait around for about a half-hour before the account is approved.

I recommend taking a jog around your house, maybe playing with your dog, or just meditating until you receive the AMP login credentials in your inbox.

Ready to finish this? 

  1. Enter the Portal

Sorry, I really wanted to say that. Okay, so go ahead and login to your AMP and select the “Home” page. Under “My Account” you’ll see an option to “Install Popular Software” click on that and select “WordPress Software.”

There are others that you can install, but my personal experience has confirmed what many others will tell you: that WordPress is the best one to use.

  1. Fill in the Details

You’re minutes away from starting a blog, just hang in there! On the software setup page, you place the title of your blog under “Site Name” so for example I would put “Suspicious Cats” in there.

Put a little description under “Site Description” something short and sweet like this: “A detailed account of cat activity around the world, and speculations about what they’re planning.”

Next, setup a password. Don’t make it something easy though, make sure that it has some numbers, and one of these various symbols: !,@,$,%,&,*, and no, I didn’t just curse at you, those clearly separated by commas.

Put your email into the “Admin Email” field and you’re good to go.

  1. Go Ahead, Take Her Out for a Test Drive.

Just have her back by 9pm, we’re keeping this classy, alright? Seriously though, you’re ready to go my friend! Head to www.[mybloghere].com/admin so you’re able to login and start your first post!

Alright, I’m stepping through my time portal so I can run through the alternate timeline now. I guess this is goodbye then, for now. Don’t cry, we’ll see each other again, this article isn’t done yet.

STEP 4: HOW TO CONFIGURE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG TO A DIFFERENT HOST (Advanced Mode)

How to Manually Set Up Your WordPress Blog (Expands)

Alright, I see how it is. I offered you that sweet discount at the cost of one of my kneecaps, but you’re looking for options and you’re itching to get into some serious computer jargon.

Alright hombre, let’s tango. You want to know how to start a blog and attach it to a host manually? you got it.

Take a quick look at this handy dandy Blogging Platform Comparison Chart I made.

You know, in another timeline we met like this and you chose to do it the easy way. Just saying.

A fair warning to anyone reading this portion of the article: this is the advanced course, the one that has been known to cause severe brain liquefaction (I was the first recorded case) so proceed only if you’ve got the chops to cut the red wire instead of just turning off the bomb.

To ensure your blog installation is correctly synced with the host of your choice, it needs to meet certain qualifications:

  • MySQL 4.2 or higher
  • PHP 4.0 or higher
  • 1GB of Free hard drive Space

When you’re certain that all of this checks out, head to the WordPress download link and download the files.

You’ll need to first unzip and extract the files, moving them all to the new file. Make sure these steps are followed to the letter, otherwise the whole thing won’t work.

Now, open that file and change these lines:

  • define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’);
  • define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’);
  • define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’);
  • Define (‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’); – This one usually doesn’t need anything changed

Fill in the database, by inputting the information for each field. If you don’t know some of them, or any of them, contact the host’s customer service to receive them. Once you’ve made the edits, click “save” and close the file.

Okay, the next step is to make the connection between you and your host’s FTP account. You’re going to need a client program to do this, like FileZilla for example. You’ll need the hosting company’s login information here again here so you can upload and deliver files directly with the host.

Uploading them directly into the primary root directory will allow your blog to be accessed through this URL: www.yourdomainname.com. If you are uploading the files to an individual folder, then the URL will be www.yourdomainname.com/myblog.

Double check that there aren’t any other index files in the there like .html, .htm files since these will make the whole train derail. The “index.php” file is the only directory you can use.

That’s it, for real this time! Wow, I’m getting Deja Vu, that’s weird. Now that your blog is set up, let’s talk about getting it off the ground, then I’ll let you go into the tall grass of the internet.

It seems like just yesterday we started this journey, and now here we are, several thousand words later and suddenly you have your very own blog. Time may not have wings, but it can certainly fly it seems.

Click Here to Read Why Free isn’t Always Better (Expands)

1. Going Free Means You DO NOT Get Your Very Own Domain

The first thing to understand here, is that while you can customize part of the website URL, you won’t have full control over the name of the domain because it’s being hosted by someone other than you.

What if this website was called OnBlastBlog.Blogger.com?

Not as cool, is it?

Starting a blog for free might sound like a good idea because it’s a way to get started without any risk.

It Gets Worse: 

Your website “IDontKnowHowToStartABlog.Blogger.com” isn’t on a platform that’s built to generate revenue.

When you use a free blogging platform like blogger.com, or tumblr.com, your URL is going to include their cut because they are the ones hosting your blog.

This may seem like a minor inconvenience, but keep in mind that people should be able to recall your blog’s URL off the top of their head, otherwise they’re going to forget the website.

You can purchase a domain name through the company to fix this issue, but you’re still not in total control of the blog as a whole, so it only plugs the leak.

2. You Won’t Have Options for Themes, Layouts, and Plugins

Opting for a free blog through one of the sites mentioned above, or others out there, doesn’t give you a whole lot of options when it comes to customization.

Think of it this way:

It’s like getting a burger for free, but you’ve got to pay a premium for each condiment and topping (and the bun!)

Eventually, you would realize that you could have just gone to a normal restaurant and bought a burger for one price with everything included instead of going to a place that gives out free burgers.

3. You Have No Control

This one’s a major hit below the belt. When using a free blog hosting website to post your ravings about how cats will one day take over the world, you have to consider the fact that while the blog has your name on it, you don’t own it.

This is crazy: 

Going the free route gives you absolutely NO control over your blog

For me, that’s a deal breaker.

The website that is running the blog for you owns it, and if they decide they don’t like it, all it takes is the flip of a switch to send your blog to the big website in the sky – for instance, starting a Facebook blog.

If the owners of the website (blogger, Tumblr) decide that your content doesn’t jive with the feel they’re going for, they can delete all of your posts and make your blog disappear like a guy who owes mobsters money.

4. You Cannot Earn (enough) Money

Granted, you didn’t pay for your free blog, but did you know that many people make money on their blogs?

What’s the bottom line?

 If you’re using a free hosting site, you won’t be able to make much money, if any at all.

Some sites will let you set up a paid advertising plan, but they’re going to take a cut of everything you make. We’re talking 50% or higher, which is just ridiculous because you did all the work.

Again, if you are just starting out and you’re running on a tight budget, I would recommend using WordPress as your main blogging platform.

You can run to Tumblr, or blogger, but when you decide to purchase and host your a domain of your own and URL, you will most likely continue using WordPress because of its intuitive design and ease of use.

After 72 million downloads and counting, WordPress has become the gold standard for blogging platforms, regardless of it being used as a free or self-hosted platform. These are a couple of reasons why I recommend WordPress:

  • There are a number of free layouts and themes available
  • Writing posts, adding pictures, and embedding videos is very easy and intuitive
  • You can create custom menus and organize your posts by category
  • Visitors can leave comments and also share your blog on their social media network profiles (check out this handy social media cheat sheet here)

Now that we’ve covered the free options, let’s discuss self-hosting your blog.

THE FINAL STEP: Publishing your First Blog Post & Promotion

So we’re just about ready to really start blogging. It’s been such a journey and look at you, the internet equivalent of a little child about to start their first day of school.

I’m your internet dad, watching you walk off, but unlike the first day of school, I won’t be coming back to wait for an hour in the car circle where teachers and volunteers try to show me how a circle works.

Yeah, I know, but I’m not moving until my kid’s in the car, alright?

Thus, we’re not done until you’re 100% confident in how to proceed next. If you’re looking for blog post ideas, stay tuned for more in-depth articles, but for this first one, why not try introducing yourself and write about the purpose and goals of your blog.

Make it personal, but don’t go into too much detail.

Now: 

Let’s discuss how to create your first blog post in the WordPress dashboard.

Quick Overview on How to Write a Blog Post

Once you’re on the WordPress dashboard, you’re going to see some options:

  • Adding New Content – This is where you add posts and pages, to begin your first post, just click “post” and then “add new.”
  • Layout and Themes – Modify the layout and design of your blog. All you need to do is find one you like and click “install.”
  • Settings – Here you’ll be able to edit the blog’s title, its tagline, and the email address associated with it.
  • Plugins – We’ll discuss these in more detail in a future article, but essentially these are tools you can put in your blog like newsletter sign-ups, contact forms, and other features

 

The best thing you can do from here? Explore and check out the options. When you’re putting together your post, check out the various fonts, tools, and the useful “Add Media” button to put pictures in your post and embed videos.

Now that you know how to create a blog, I want to show you a few practical strategies you can use immediately to build a successful blog.

From blogging best practices, to dummy-proof WordPress SEO tips, to link building guides, all the way to hearing directly from other industry experts, I’ll personally show you how to make money through blogging.

I put together a really simple guide on How to Promote Your Blog and Increase Traffic. Give it a read, trust me! These tactics will show you the initial steps in starting a successful blog.

Thank you to everyone for going on this journey with me. I look forward to seeing your blogs someday in my wandering travels across the endless expanse of the internet.

Spread the word, share this page with others and show them how to start a blog. Everyone deserves success and happiness, so spread the word!

Matt Banner

Matt Banner headshot

Hey! I'm Matt & I've been blogging for 10+ years. I'm here to help you get started with your blog. Follow me on Twitter.