The fact that you are reading this means you are interested in starting a blog. It is also certain that you have read all there is about how to start a blog and cannot quite seem to make a decision as to which approach to follow. The more you read all the information regarding blogging the more you postpone your execution plans. Why? It is confusing.
Worry not. I was once there. Getting stuck on only reading ‘How to start a blog’ and related key-worded articles while doing nothing about the information is something i know all too well. I think at some point I got used to reading such blogs and began fantasizing on the amount of money I would make. Reading income reports, especially by stay-at-home mums gave me excitement but that was it. Until I realized STARTING is what makes the difference.
What did I do? I simply started typing out some words on the Word Application on my laptop, just to give myself the confidence. Words became paragraphs. Paragraphs became full articles and by the time I was paying for my hosting plan, I had 3 articles to copy and paste on to WordPress.
So here is the thing. Just start. Start a blog with fear. Start it with trembling. Don’t let tomorrow find you the same place you are now, especially if you have the resources and the opportunity.
Before I continue, KNOW YOUR WHY. Your why should be strong enough to help you do what you said you would long after the mood you said it in is gone. For instance, MY MAIN WHY for this blog is to achieve financial freedom for my family. This will allow me to take care of my child(ren) and be a better wife to my husband.
Starting a blog will make you a better person. You will get to network with like-minded people while expressing your abilities to the world. Best part? You can make money with a blog.
Now, on to the most important part of this blog post: How to start a blog in 2019.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn an extra commission should you purchase a product or service through any of the links, at no extra cost to you.
You can start a blog in these 7 easy steps (as you sip your coffee, as it may take 30 to 60 minutes of your time).
- Find out what you would like to blog about. Seriously. What profitable niche do you have in mind?
- Select a blogging platform
- Pick you hosting provider
- Set up your blog
- Get started with WordPress
- Finish setting up your domain
- Customize and launch your blog
Before I continue, you may be wondering whether you can start a blog for free. Well, yes, but (and that’s a big but) free blogging platforms will limit you in the following ways:
- Very little room for monetization: For you to make money with a free blog, you will always be prompted to upgrade to a paid version of the blog. In fact, you cannot make money with a free blog because a day can end with you getting VERY little to no traffic. Imagine writing content for one or 2 people to read. Utterly discouraging! In the blogging world, the money is in the traffic.
- Poor customer support: No one in the world is giving you a free blogging platform out of a good heart. It’s all part of the game to get you hooked and eventually upgrade when expanding or when in desperate need of support. Most blog service providers give first priority to those who have paid. With a free blog, expect an upgrade quotation when you contact support regarding any issue you have.
- Hard switching: A while after using a free blogging platform, you will want to upgrade to a paid version, and that may call for moving your content. This can be costly as you may end up hiring someone to do it correctly. Also, doing it yourself can be frustrating. Save money by saving time and plug into a paid blogging platform.
- Lack of trust: Self-hosted bloggers get high traffic to their blogs because they’re taken a bit more seriously. It will be hard for a reader subscribe to your newsletters if you are a free blog. Another downfall about this is you are likely to end up less inspired because, who are you writing for? Who is reading your work? 3, 4 people? Demoralizing. Isn’t it?
What if a free blog is the only option you have? Well, it would be better to plug into Medium. Medium has a huge following and publishing content there gets you some fulfillment in the long run.
This brings us to the next segment.
The opposite of a free blog is a self-hosted blog. While the former will give you confidence to blog the latter will open up a world of endless opportunities for you. In this case, I recommend the SELF-HOSTED WORDPRESS BLOG, which is easy to set up as explained in the steps below:
Step 1: Choose what to blog about
Your blog should be about products or services you are selling if you are part of a business or organization, but if you are blogging as an individual there will be a bit more flexibility when choosing a topic. Just make sure whatever you blog about has room for discussion among your readers. Also, you should enjoy the topic. Heard the quote: It’s not passion that brings you money, it’s what you are good at? I think you can pick a niche, authoritatively perfect it and passion will catch up. Finally, remember people will read your blog only if it solves their problems. Actively think about what problems your audience may have and offer solutions in your blog. In my case, I decided to start a blog niched on making money online.
Step 2: Pick a blogging platform
There are many blogging platforms—among them: Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, Weebly and WordPress. Think of a blogging platform as a plate and your blog as food. This blog runs on WordPress. I love WordPress because it’s the most popular, functional and gives you lots of choices. Now, there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the best option for anyone wanting to start a blog as it’s self-hosted. This takes us to step 3.
Step 3: Choose your hosting provider
Your blog is food, your blogging platform, plate and your hosting will be the table on which you put your plate of food. Hosting is what avails your content on the internet and to the readers. WordPress.com blogs are hosted by WordPress itself whereas WordPress.org blogs can be hosted by different providers like Bluehost, Siteground, Hostgator Dreamhost and many others.
This brings us to the core of this post: Setting up a self-hosted blog.
Step 4: Set up your blog
A self-hosted blog is ideal for any beginner who wants to make money online. I will show you how to set up hosting with Bluehost. Click this Bluehost link for a discount. And follow the guide below:
Hover over to the ‘GET STARTED’ button
Choose a plan by hitting the green button labelled ‘SELECT’. Preferrably the Baby Plan because you will be starting out.
In future, you can hopefully scale up to a more advanced plan. If you are a beginner I would advise you to go with the Baby Plan for 36 months so as to save you money.
Next, you will be prompted to either create a domain name or input one you already have.
If you want to do this later, simply click the ‘I’ll create my domain later’ prompt.
This should lead you to a page requiring you to either sign in with google or input your account details manually.
On the package information section, there is a drop-down allowing you to select an account plan, depending on how far in advance you would like to pay.
The best plan would be the 36 months one as it is cheaper if you think about it. To expound on this, if you sign up for a package of 12 months or more, you get a free domain and it’s cheaper. Oh! Plus you reduce the hustle of monthly payments, which, should you forfeit, your content may be lost.
Next, uncheck the extra packages but leave domain privacy box checked. Domain privacy keeps your contact information safe.
Complete purchase by inputting your payment details then tick the Terms and Conditions box and proceed to hit the green submit button.
At this point, create your Bluehost account and set a password.
Log in to Bluehost using the details you keyed in above. AND BOOM! You are ready to start creating a website. Or are you?
But what if you bought your domain from, say, GoDaddy? Worry not! You can connect the two by modifying your DNS nameservers. How? After logging in to your GoDaddy account manager, choose Manage domains from the drop-down menu of domain names. Choose the domain name you would like to modify then hover over to Set Nameservers. Enter the nameservers updated information then save changes. You should see this ns1.bluehost.com; ns2.bluehost.com. Next, to your Bluehost account, add the domain you bought by clicking on Domains then assign. From there the steps should be easy to follow.
To start creating a website, key in the name of your website and add a tagline which should be centered around your keywords for easier ranking.
Next, you will see a switch next to ‘Do you want a blog?’ query. Turn it on. But if you want a static website, let it stay off, but you can always turn it on later. I’ll proceed with how to create a blog because that’s why you are here.
At this point, you will have to decide. Do you want your blog posts on a home page? Would you like them in a separate page for only blog posts? It’ll all be up to you. My preference for my blog was to have blog posts on a different page which can be accessed by navigating to the BLOG link on the header. If anyone clicks on my HOME link, they would find a welcome note to all my readers.
Complete the survey questions.
Be careful with the free themes listed for your selection. This is because most free themes are not updated and this is a risk that would leave your site insecure—not worth it. You are allowed to choose a better theme later and I will show you how to.
Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a self-hosted blog with WordPress.
At this point, click on the WordPress button which will lead you to the WordPress dashboard where you will do some important configurations to the settings.
Step 5: Get started with WordPress
Keep in mind that you will have two separate log in details. One set for WordPress, where you will do your blog posts while managing the blog, and the other set to log into your Bluehost account where you will be dealing with the host billing and maybe occasional support. To be able to log in to you Bluehost account simply go to Bluehost.com.
From this point we’ll stick to our wordpress account where you will be spending most of the time on the nerve center of your blog,the dashboard. Don’t worry if it looks intimidating at first, you will get the hang of it soon. It’ll be especially easier if you had a free WordPress.com account before upgrading to WordPress.org..
Hover over to the black section on your screen and work on some crucial settings.
The permalink structure: This determines the formatting of the URLs to your posts. Very important for SEO. A BIG WARNING THOUGH. Do not make any changes to your permalink structure if your posts are already published. Broken links are the last thing you want your readers to experience. But if you are starting out, proceed with the changes as follows:
-Click on Settings then Permalinks
-Tick the post name box
-Save changes at the bottom of the page
-Next, change your admin username in order to protect your site from hackers. You will have to create a new user first before deleting the default admin. To change admin username, follow the following steps:
- Users>All users>Add new
- Key in the new user details
- For role, select Administrator
- Log out of WordPress—Do not forget to save changes first
- Log in back with the new user password and username you created
- Click on Users>then All users
- Delete the link attributed to the admin
- Assign all the posts to the new user and confirm ‘Delete’
Now, on to the PLUGINS
The most used plugins by bloggers are YOAST SEO that’s perfect for Search Engine Optimization aka SEO, and ANTISPAM BEE, perfect for protecting your blog posts from spammy comments. To install plugins, follow these steps.
Click on plugins then on Add New
Search for the plugin you are looking for and once you see it on the list, click Install Now.
Upon installation, ensure that you have clicked on the Activate button so that you can access the features.
In case a plugin needs some configurations, click on the settings link below the name of the plugin. But most plugins come with default configurations ready for use.
Some plugins have to be installed directly from their websites. Remember this if you ever miss a plugin after searching for it.
At this point delete all the default content by WordPress.
Delete all the plugins except Bluehost. Plugins are notorious for slowing down sites so it’s advisable to use them sparingly with clear intention. Also, plugins need to be deactivated first before they are deleted.
Delete the metawidget as all it shows is you are a newbie. To do this, simply click on Appearance then widgets. Once you locate the Meta widget box, expand it by clicking the down arrow, then delete and save changes.
Edit general settings: On settings, click on General.
If you wish you can edit the site tagline and title for your blog. These should have some keywords about what your blog is all about. You can always edit these later.
Add your email address, to which notifications will be sent.
Set your time zone correctly for scheduling purposes.
However do not touch your URLs as it will mess things up. At this point, your blog will be operating on a temporary domain but in the next step we shall see how to set the domain to a permanent status.
Step 6: Domain setup completion
In step 4, you had to either use an existing domain or input a new one. This stage will be greatly influenced by what option you chose.
If you entered a new domain, simply activate it and wait for an email prompting you to confirm activation. After confirmation, sit back and wait for Bluehost to activate the domain for you automatically.
If you decided to go with an existing domain, point at it and edit the name servers where your domain is registered. Call Bluehost if you face any issues with this.
If you decided to add domain name later, go to Bluehost account>>Register>>assign. Once this is done, wait as your domain propagates.
Once your permanent domain is up and running, ensure that it’s secure. You will do this by switching on your SSL certificate. If you entered a new domain or decided to create on later, log in to your Bluehost control panel>>Add-ons>>SSL certificates>>Learn more>>Get started>>Install. Wait as it installs and activates—this can take a few hours.
If you entered an existing domain, contact your provider and inform them that you’d like to have an SSL certificate on your domain.
Once installation is complete, you can type your domain name on your browser to see whether you will find the ‘Secure’ icon. If it’s there, then your readers will feel confident about your site. But if you see this ‘I’, it means installation wasn’t successful. Basically a secure domain starts with HTTPS when keyed in the browser.
Step 7: Woohoo! It’s Launch time!
This is a chance for you to get super excited—you should be proud of starting a self-hosted WordPress blog by yourself. You can start adding pages and posts to it right away. Before launching though, I would advise that you add at least 5 high quality posts for your readers (and you). Looking at an empty blog from your readers view would only add to your overwhelm. Seeing content on your new blog will give you confidence to keep adding more. Don’t be too keen on piecing everything together right now, you will get the hang of it as you go along.
To ensure a more guided blog, create different pages for different posts. Posts are different from pages in that the former are the contents of the latter. Organizing your blog this way gives your readers an easier time navigating from one post to another.
The pages I would advise you to include are:
Like I said, add 5 good quality posts before launching. To get an idea of what to post, simply check out the pages of what other bloggers in your niche are doing. This does not mean you copy paste other bloggers’ works. Be smart about how you reword their content. I would advise you to read their content to understand, then type out what you understood.
Finally, you will choose a theme. Since you are starting out, paying for a WordPress theme will not make sense. The best free plugins for WordPress are Generatepress and Astra. This blog is on Astra.
A big finally this time is to remove the link leading to the ‘Coming Soon Page’
Congratulations and welcome to the blogosphere.
To wrap up,
From this point onwards, focus on posting consistently so as to win the trust of all your readers. When I started this blog, I was keen on posting once a week without compromising on quality. It is better to have fewer high quality posts than to have many low quality ones.
Keep pushing! Don’t give up. Never stop learning.