I started blogging on February 14, 2014. I knew nothing, and I made a lot of mistakes. Not just any mistakes, but avoidable mistakes. The steps below are exactly what I wish I had when I was creating my blog for the first time.
I just created a second site, NatalieBacon.com over a weekend, and it was smooth sailing. If you know what to do, it’s nice and easy. These are the exact steps I used, and the exact steps that can help you create a blog. I’ve included some affiates links below, which means that if you use my referral I get paid – this is how I did it when I first started, too (thanks for the support in advance 🙂 !).
1. Brainstorm – vision, name, colors, brand
Brainstorm what you want to blog about. Once you decide on a topic, think about how you want to portray your topic through your brand. For example, I have a personal finance blog, but because I’m very feminine and I write for women, I chose soft colors and a fresh clean look.
If you’re having trouble deciding what you want your brand to be like, look at other blogs and analyze their branding. This will help you get an idea of what’s already out there in your niche and where you can fit in.
Think about what you want and make decisions before you move forward. Then, with your topic and branding vision set, come up with a blog name. You want to make your name creative, unique, but memorable. It’s said that having your topic in the name is a good idea so people know immediately what your blog is about (like Financegirl is obviously about finance because it’s in the name). Research names before you decide on your blog name. I made the mistake of not doing this! I love my name, but there are a lot of similar names out there, which isn’t great. Analyze how other bloggers are naming their blogs to see if there’s a pattern that you could follow. Another resource to use is Bust A Name, which can help you come up with name combinations if you’re stuck. You’ll have to see if it already exists, which you can do in step two when you go to register it.
2. Register your domain name
Once you have your name picked out, you have to register it. You can register your name (so no one else can uses it!) through a number of websites. I happened to use GoDaddy because I randomly Googled how to register a domain name and that’s what popped up. It’s sufficient, but when it comes to having your domain registered in one place and a host in another place, it gets tricky. That’s why I recommend getting your domain name through Bluehost (if that’s where you choose to host). Not only that, but you can actually register your domain name for Free with Bluehost if you also sign up for hosting. (I made the mistake of paying for both registering and hosting because I registered at a different company than I bought hosting from). So, to make your life easier, consider registering your domain name through Bluehost.
After you register your domain name, you’ll have to sign up for hosting. Then, you’ll have to sign up for WordPress. I like to use the analogy of building a house: your domain is the land, your host is the house, and WordPress is the inside decor. You need all three to run a blog successfully.
3. Register with a host
There are several good hosting companies that you can use. Aside from price, you should consider the credibility and reliability of the hosting company. You also need to consider customer service and traffic. You want to be able to call someone if you’re having problems with your site. You also want to make sure your host can handle your traffic.
An excellent host to begin blogging with is Bluehost. With Bluehost, you get an affordable hosting plan and excellent customer service. Once you’ve been blogging for a long time and have pageviews exceeding 3,000-4,000, you may need to upgrade and pay more for your hosting service, but until then, starting with a Bluehost plan is an excellent way to go for a beginner amount of traffic.
You can get Bluehost using my discounted link for $3.95 / month. For this discounted price, you pay for 36 months upfront, and if you leave before the 36 months is up, Bluehost will give you your money back.
Next, you’ll have the option to select one of three plans, based on price and specific features. Decide what’s best for you. Then enter your domain name that you registered in step two in the box provided that says “I have a domain name”.
Follow the steps to enter your account information.
Next, decide which package you want to select. You get the least expensive rate if you signup for 36 months. And remember that if you cancel, you’ll get a refund for the prorated amount. This means you don’t risk losing your money up front (so why not?). You’ll also have options here that you can “add on”, including Site Backup Pro, SiteLock Domain Security, Search Engine Jumpstart, and Google Apps for Work. If I were you, I would wait to add these until you’re all signed up, unless you know for sure that you need them.
You’ll then be prompted to enter your billing information and agree to the terms and conditions. You’ll be prompted to add other addons, but you don’t need to add them now. You can add them later if you want them.
Once processed, you should see a welcome message, like the one below.
After you are signed up, you’ll be asked to create a password and login.
One you have your password set, you can log in to your account! You’ll see a welcome message that you can click “I can do it” (since I’m walking you through the process!).
After you’ve logged in, you’ll be on your Bluehost dashboard, which looks like the image below.
You’re all done! Well, at least with signing up for your hosting plan. 🙂 Now, it’s time to install WordPress.
4. Install WordPress
On your Bluehost dashboard, click on the “Install WordPress” button. You’ll see the following screen, and on it you should click “start”.
Select the domain that you are signing up with (the only domain that you’ve registered).
WordPress will begin to install. Click on “show advanced options” in the screen that comes up, and enter in the name of your site (anything you want) and your username and password.
There will be a green bar at the top of your screen that moves as your install progresses. When it’s finished the bar will have become full and you’ll see this screen.
You should now get an email from “Mojo Marketplace” with important information about your account in it, just like the one below. This is an email that you should keep!
Using your Mojo email, click on the WordPress link. You’ll see the screen below. Enter your login information.
You’re now in your WordPress dashboard. This is where you’ll design your website.
5. Use Studiopress to design your site
I am not a designer by any means, but I also am not someone who wanted to hire outside help to design my blog when I first started. This is why I used the Genesis Framework and StudioPress.com. The Genesis Framework is the foundation for designing your site, and Studiopress offers really exceptional themes.
You can use whichever theme you want and customize it yourself. I made changes to my theme by learning how to code using CSS — all from Google! I highly recommend customizing your theme yourself when you’re starting out because it’s important that you understand how a blog works and this will help you learn the ins and outs of your site.
After you have your site designed how you want it to look, you are ready to start blogging.
6. Start blogging!
First: I recommend drafting several posts so you have a “bank” of posts you can schedule out consistently.
Second: You should also join Facebook groups that help you learn how to blog. I have one that’s dedicated to learning how to grow your social media following called #SocialHack.
Third: If you are interested in learning more about blogging, I recommend joining my email list for bloggers (use the form below).
Finally: Read the remaining blog posts in my blogging series.
- How to Make Money Blogging
- How I Grew My Email List to 5,000 Subscribers in 3 Months
- 10 Resources for Bloggers
- How to Start Freelance Writing Online
- How I Increased My Blog Traffic to 150,000 Pageviews Last Month
- Join #SocialHack (my Facebook group for bloggers)
For all of my blogging posts, visit my Blogging Page.