How to Start Your Own Blog (2018 Beginners Guide)
Last modified on 25th October, 2018
So you want to start a blog?
You are in luck because in 2018, creating a blog is easier than ever.
This guide will teach blogging for beginners.
You will learn how to select your own domain name, choose the right blogging platform, select a reliable web hosting, and publish your first post quickly.
The whole process should take you no longer than 20 or 30 minutes to create your blog.
Although it could take a little bit longer if you haven’t come up with a name for your blog already or you don’t know which theme (blog design) you want to use.
Let’s dive right in!
How to Start a Blog For Free
You can create a blog for free if you want to.
However, a blog with its own domain name, i.e. yourblogname.com, will cost around USD10 per year (later in this article I’ll teach you how to get a free domain name).
The blog web hosting (think of it like a computer on the Internet where your blog is saved on) will cost around USD4 (or more) per month. That’s pretty cheap if you ask me.
If you want to start a blog and make money from it, you’ll need to spend a few dollars on those things.
Later I will explain why you shouldn’t start a free blog if you are serious about blogging.
Selecting Your Blog Niche – What Should You Blog About?
A blog niche is a small topic area that you want your blog to focus on.
For example, if you want to write about health and fitness, you need to narrow down your focus to target one specific sub-topic such as weight loss/dieting, healthy living, muscle buildings/workout and so on.
Because by becoming a voice in a specific small segment of the industry, it would be easier for you to stand out and attract the right kind of audience that will relate more with your content.
It’s also important to select a niche that you can establish yourself as an authority. But that doesn’t mean you must already be an expert in the topic.
Sharing your own personal experience which helps others can be as good and informative as those coming from the experts.
While having a passion helps, it’s also important that you blog about topics that help people solve a particular problem.
How to Choose Your Blogging Platform
You can start your blog on many different blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and more.
What is the best free blogging platform? You can’t go wrong if you follow the crowd.
WordPress powers more than half of the top 100 blogs. Even more impressive, it runs nearly 30% of the entire internet.
When it comes to blogging, it’s the most popular content management system (CMS) by far.
There are two versions of WordPress, WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Sabahan.com is using the self-hosted WordPress.org blogging platform.
Self-hosted means you download the WordPress software and run it on your own server.
Everyone who are serious about blogging should go for this option.
- It’s FREE – All you need is a web host and domain name. There’s no catch. The software is free because you have to setup and host it yourself (use this article as your guide)
- Its design is highly customizable – There are tens of thousands of free and paid themes to help you create the exact look you want.
- It’s powerful – There are more than 42,000 free plugins in the official WordPress directory alone. Plugins add more functionality to your blog, from contact form to plugins that improve blog performance.
- It’ secure – The team behind WordPress is always updating their software and keeping everything safe from bugs and hacking attacks.
- It allows you to make money – You can place ads on your blog and experiment with any blog monetization strategy.
- It helps you rank higher on Google – Getting traffic is the lifeblood of your blog and WordPress.org will make it easier for you to get better rankings.
Why You Shouldn’t Create a Blog On a Free Blogging Platform
On the other hand, the other free blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr, Medium or Wix limit your freedom and customization options that a self hosted WordPress blog offers.
Here are some flaws you need to know:
- You don’t own your blog content – Since your blog is being hosted on another website, any violation of their terms of service (even accidentally) can result in the shutting down of your blog.
- Your blog address looks unprofessional – it can also be hard to remember, i.e. Sabahan.blogspot.com vs sabahan.com.
- You are not allowed to advertise – your monetization options are limited.
- You can’t fully customize the look of blog – you’ll have a limited selection of themes available to really make your blog stand out. You can’t even use the free WordPress plugins to add new functionalities
- Limited web space – you can only have so much space for your posts, images and videos as most free blogging platforms drastically limit the amount of web space you can use.
That being said, it’s completely fine to blog just for fun or as a hobby. You can start with the free blogging option and later migrate to WordPress.org.
Unfortunately migrating your blog can be very time-consuming and tricky. So, I’d recommend starting a self-hosted WordPress blog from the get-go if you are serious about blogging.
Setting up a blog like Sabahan.com is actually pretty easy and cost less than you think.
I’m going to teach you the exact steps on how to start a WordPress blog.
Sign Up With a Web Hosting and Install WordPress
WordPress officially recommends Bluehost. Established in 1996, it’s one of the oldest web hosting companies around (even before Google).
They are reliable and secure. With the once-click-install feature for WordPress, you’ll get up and running in no time. Their web hosting offer comes with a free domain name too.
Disclosure: At Sabahan.com I believe in transparency. If you sign up with Bluehost using my referral link, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain). This helps me keep Sabahan.com up and running.
I’ll guide you step-by-step in creating a blog on Bluehost.
- Sign-up with Bluehost web hosting.
- Choose your hosting plan (the cheapest one should suffice).
- Pick a domain name for your blog
- Complete hosting registration
- Install WordPress with one-click installation
- Log-in and write your first post.
These steps shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes (provided that you already know what domain name you want to use).
Now let’s go into each step in more detail.
1. Sign up With Bluehost Web Hosting
Open up Bluehost in a new window and following along these steps.
Click on the “get started now” button to get started.
2. Choose Your Hosting Plan
On the next screen, there are three options you can choose from Basic, Plus and Prime.
Blogging beginners can start with the Basic plan. It is also the cheapest plan. You can always upgrade later if you need more features.
3. Pick A Domain Name
On the next screen, you’ll need to choose a domain name (Bluehost will give the domain name to you for free).
If your first choice .com domain isn’t available, you can use other domain name ending (like .net, .org).
If you already have a domain name bought from somewhere else, use the second form on the right “I have a domain name”.
The minute you launch a blog with your own domain, the minute you launch a brand.
Your brand is what makes your blog recognizable to people.
You should put some thought into selecting your domain name (but not so much).
Here are some tips when choosing a domain name for your blog:
- Use your personal name – if the blog is about you or you want to build a brand using your own name.
- Use brandable name – if you want to build a brand apart from yourself, you can use a brandable name such as FrugalPurse.com instead of Best-How-To-Save-Money-Tips.com 🙂
- Keep it short – a shorter name means less hassle for the user to type and less risk of mistyping.
- Make it easy to remember – avoid confusion with complicated or creative misspellings.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens – this makes it hard to remember and explain the domain to others.
- Select a “.com”, “.org” or “.net” – those are the most popular. People usually associate a website with “.com”. Avoid extensions like “.biz”, “.club” and other less common ones. They are harder to remember.
4. Complete Your Registration
In the next screen, you’ll find three sections on this page.
- Account Information – just enter your contact information as you would normally.
- Package Information – you’ll need to choose the account plan here. For the Basic plan, I’d start off with 12 months. To save more, you can select the longer options.The reasons why you would want to purchase at least the 12-month hosting plan are:
- You’ll get a free domain name.
- You save money from the monthly pricing.
- You save time and hassle from having to renew monthly.
- You avoid the risk of losing visitors when your site is down.There are optional extras that you can purchase but they really aren’t necessary to start a new blog. That said, you might want to consider the Domain Privacy Protection.When you register a domain name, your contact information is made public. If you don’t want that, you can tick this option. Bluehost will hide your registrant information and replace it with theirs. In any case, you can always add those add-ons later on if you decide that you need them.
- Payment Information – The last section is the payment information. If you want to pay with PayPal, click on the “More payment options”.Once you have entered your payment information, click the Submit button. You’ll be asked to create your password to login into your Bluehost account.
5. Install WordPress
- Use the password created previously to login into your account.
- Once you’re inside your Bluehost account, you’ll be able to pick one of the themes provided by Bluehost. Keep in mind that you can always pick another theme later from the WordPress.org repository.
- After picking a theme, you are now ready to log into your WordPress dashboard and start building your blog. Click the “Start Building” button.
- On the WordPress welcome page, you’ll be asked whether you want to create a business or personal blog. It’s up to you. Or you can click the “I don’t need help” to do it on your own.
- If you click on the Bluehost menu on the top left-hand corner, you will see the main Dashboard with various sections designed to help you create your new blog.If you go to your blog address, i.e. www.yourblog.com, you will see a “Coming Soon” page.It’s OK to start launching your blog right away by clicking on the Launch button. This allows you to easily preview how your blog will look like to your visitors.Don’t worry, since no one knows about your blog yet (unless you tell them), you can freely experiment with the blog design.
- After clicking the “Launch” button, you’ll be asked to enter the title and description of your blog. These let your visitors know what your blog is all about. Remember that you can always update this info later.
- Congratulations! You have just launched your new blog!
6. Log-In to WordPress Dashboard and Add/Write Your First Post
Now’s the fun part – it’s time to share your blog post ideas with the world!
- Adding a New Post
To start writing your first post, on the left-hand side menu, click Posts > Add New.
The Add New Post screen looks something like this (your screen may look slightly different from mine):
You can start entering the title of your blog post and the content in the big text box below the title.If you don’t have to finish your blog post in one sitting, the “Save Draft” button on the right of the page will save your draft.If you want your post to be published later, you can schedule the post too.Adjust the Visibility setting to make your post private or password protected so only certain people can see it.To publish your post, just click on the “Publish” button on the right of the screen. Congratulations you have just created your first blog post!You can always edit or delete your published posts. Go to the “All Posts” section of the Posts menu to find the particular post you want to change.
Once you have some excellent blog posts written, you can start promoting them on the social media.
In fact, some say you should dedicate 20% to 30% of your time on blog content creation and the bulk of your time should be spent on blog promotion.
Start creating dedicated social media profiles, they should include a Facebook page, Twitter and Pinterest profile just for your blog.
What Is The Difference Between Blog Posts vs Pages
Blogging beginners are often confused by the difference between a blog post and a page.
Both posts and pages help you organise your content. In most blogs, posts and pages look almost identical.
Here are some of the key differences between Posts vs. Pages:
- Posts are timely – when you publish a new blog entry, you’d publish a post.
- Posts are social – you’d want as many people to read and share your blog entry.
- Posts encourage engagement – your readers can comment on your blog post. This helps establish trust and build loyal followers to your blog.
- Posts belong in a category (or several categories)
- Pages are not meant to be social – it’s often unnecessary to include the social sharing buttons on pages.
- Pages can’t be commented – you don’t usually allow comments on pages.
These are the norm but there are no hard and fast rules. For example, some blogs may include important posts in the menu (like what I did for this post), or allow commenting on their about page.
How to Change Your WordPress Blog Design
You can change the appearance of your blog by changing the blog theme with just a few clicks.
Changing the theme will have an immediate effect on the look and feel of your blog. It’s one of the most exciting parts of starting a blog as you and your visitors will be able to enjoy the result right away.
There are thousands of premade WordPress themes that you can install. Some are free while others are paid.
I’ve personally purchased many paid themes including those from Theme Forest due to their broad selection, quality design and niche specific theme offerings.
For example I wanted a theme to showcase my mobile apps and wasn’t disappointed to find a theme specifically for that purpose.
I’m currently using FocusBlog Theme by Thrive Themes for Sabahan.com.
They offer more than WordPress theme though. Their products are designed from the ground up to help you convert your visitors into buyers, subscribers or whatever business goal you may have.
To change your WordPress blog theme just follow these steps:
- Start by login to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin
- In your WordPress dashboard, click on the Appearance > Themes
You’ll see several pre-installed themes. If you don’t like those, click the “Add New” button at the top
On the next screen, you’ll be able to search the free WordPress theme repository. You can sort by popularity, latest or filter by feature, industry and layout.
Once you have found a theme that you like, click the “Install” button (which appears on mouse over). WordPress will download the theme files to your server.
You can also see how it would look like without installing by clicking the Preview button.Once the theme has been installed, just click “Activate ” on the next screen:
You can further customize the theme by clicking on the Customize menu under Appearance.
How to Select the Perfect Theme For Your Blog
Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect theme for your blog:
- Look for clean and uncluttered design – it will provide good user experience to your visitors.
- Check for responsiveness – A responsive design ensures your theme works properly on any screen from desktop browsers to mobile devices (important for good search engines rankings)
Finding the perfect theme for your blog can be time-consuming though.
The good news is, you can always switch theme if your current theme doesn’t do what you want. As your blog gets more popular, try to avoid changing themes often because it will confuse your regular readers.
While using the free themes are enough for most bloggers, at some points, you would probably want a professionally designed theme created specifically for your particular industry or niche.
Paid themes have the following advantages over the free themes:
- More features and customization options – developers need to offer better products due to competition. Extra features like shortcodes, drag and drop builder and other built-in functionalities could reduce the number of plugins you need to install.
- Support and updates – paid themes are supported by the developer and comes with regular updates.
- Unique and professional design – unlike free themes, paid themes are installed less frequently because people actually need to pay to use it. A unique and professional looking theme helps your blog stand out more.
That said, paid themes are not perfect. Some themes may look pretty but are poorly coded which make them incompatible with some plugins.
In an attempt to attract buyers, some developers include too many features which you probably don’t need anyway. This could make your website slow.
Too much dependency on certain functionality that comes with a specific theme can break your blog if you decide to switch theme later.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money
This article teaches blogging for beginners and how to start one quickly.
If you already have a blog and want to make money from it, hop over to my make money blogging article.
You’ll find various ways to monetize your new blog and make money while you sleep 🙂
Congratulations on reaching this far!
Now you know how to start a blog, you’re already ahead of other wannabe bloggers.
Creating a successful blog requires passion and hard work, there’s no shortcut to it.
The good news is as long as you are willing to learn, the journey itself can be fun and very rewarding.
Bookmark this post as I’ll be updating it from time to time to include the latest information to help you create a successful blog.
Next, you may want to read the following blogging-related posts:
- 15 Things to Do Immediately to Improve Your New Blog – the title says it all.
- SEO Tips for beginners – learn how to optimize your blog for the search engines
- Make money blogging – making money from takes hard work but can be extremely rewarding. Learn how to monetize your new blog here.
- How to create an awesome About page – create the best about page for your blog that converts regular visitors into loyal followers.
- How to promote your blog posts when you have no followers.
Please share this post if you find it helpful. I’d also love to know your thoughts or any question you have in the comments below. Thanks for reading!