Starting my blog has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Back when I was a teenager (and the internet came on a CD!) I used blogging to teach myself web design. In college I used my blogging + design skills to bring in extra cash working for other bloggers and bands. And in 2012 my blog helped me leave my corporate job to freelance full-time!
My blog was a HUGE part of the reason I was able to kick-start my freelance design business and make the leap to self-employment in just 9 months. It’s helped me to grow an audience and build a business that allows me to work from home every single day.
My blog has helped me . . .
- Build a freelance web design business
- Quit my corporate job (the whole story is over here)
- Earn thousands and thousands of dollars in affiliate income (you can see an income report over here)
- Build a successful Etsy shop (more on that over here)
- Transition from working with clients to selling ebooks + e-courses
- Build an email list of over 20k subscribers (here’s how I made that happen)
- Get paid to travel and speak at conferences
- Get interviewed on podcasts and online summits
- And partner with lots of companies and brands
Bottom line…my blog has been a serious game + life changer!
Blogging has been such an important part of my life and my business that I want to show you how easy it is to start blogging too. Whether you’re interested in blogging for fun or blogging to make money online, this guide will help you . . .
- Choose a domain
- Set up your hosting
- Install WordPress
- Choose a niche
Ready to get started??
1 | Choose a platform
First, decide where you’ll host your blog. Blogger, WordPress, and SquareSpace are all good options depending on what you’d like to invest and how much you hope to customize your design.
- Blogger: free, easy to customize, but not many design options
- WordPress.com: free, easy to customize, but not many design options
- Self-hosted WordPress: free (you’ll pay for hosting and a domain, but not the platform), endless options and add-ons, more challenging to customize if you don’t know CSS, but there are lots of beautiful themes that don’t need customization at all!
- SquareSpace: lots of options for designs and ecommerce, monthly fee, easy to build a beautiful site with little customization
If you’re planning to get serious about blogging, I highly recommend self-hosted WordPress because most bloggers end up transferring to the platform once their blog starts to grow anyway. My site is built on WordPress, so that’s what we’re going to walk through today!
If you’re going the WordPress route BlueHost is great for hosting and domains because of their fantastic customer support and one-click WordPress install option.
Here’s how to set up everything . . .
2 | Create an account + choose your package
Click here to create an account with BlueHost. This is where you’ll choose a domain, set up hosting, and install WordPress.
Choose your package – for most bloggers the Basic option will have enough features to run your blog for years.
3 | Choose a domain
Picking a domain name can be tricky. Consider about what you’d like to blog about, who you’re blogging for, and what you’ll help them learn. Try to choose a domain name you’ll stick with for at least a few years. If it’s available, a domain related to your first and/or last name allows for your blog to evolve without having to re-brand your entire site.
Also check to see if matching social media usernames are available. It’s easier for other bloggers to find you on Instagram and Facebook if all your handles are the same. For example, my domain is XOSarah.com and on social media I’m @XOSarahMorgan.
4 | Install WordPress
Once your domain is set, click on the HOSTING tab at the top and then CPANEL. Then scroll down and click “Install WordPress.”
Choose INSTALL . . .
Select your domain, leave the box next to it blank and click CHECK DOMAIN
Fill in your site title and login info – this is what you’ll use to access your blog. Make sure to choose something other than “admin” for your username and pick a long and complicated password.
Click “Install Now” and watch BlueHost make it happen!
Once WordPress has been installed you’ll go to example.com/wp-admin to edit & update your blog (put your domain name where it says example.com)
5 | Choose a theme
For me this is the most fun part of blogging!
I recommend choosing a minimalist theme with the ability to customize the background and header image. These are two easy ways to show off your style without pulling your hair out over coding. Studio Press makes some great looking themes that are quick to upload and start blogging.
Your website should include:
- An about page
- A contact page
- A photo of you and an intro to you+ your blog
- A list of 5 categories (either in the navigation menu or the sidebar)
- Social media icons
- A list of popular posts
- A search box
- Blog buttons
- Recent posts or comments
- Archive calendars
- Tag or label clouds
- Ads until you’ve got traffic to actually bring in some cash (Affiliate linking is a less obtrusive way to get started making money)
6 | Choose your niche
With a brand new blog you have a clean slate to write about literally ANYTHING. From personal experience I’ve learned that when you choose a specific focus for your blog from the start, the quality of your content increases and your audience will grow faster. Writing about things you love or have experience with will be more likely to keep you interested in blogging for a long time rather than writing about what’s popular and trendy.
For more help in setting up your blog, head over to my FREE beginner blogging course where I’ll walk you through . . .
- Choosing a niche
- Branding your blog
- Setting up a .com email address
- Setting up social media profiles
- Publishing new blog content consistently
Plus we’ve got a fantastic Facebook group full of beginner bloggers just like yourself and I’m checking in every single day to answer questions and provide feedback.
My top blogging-related posts
- 7 signs you’re blogging about too many topics
- How to commit to blogging on a regular basis
- Why you should create seasonal content for your blog
- 5 things to nail down before hiring a blog designer
- 10 mistakes new bloggers always make (and how to fix them)
- Before hitting publish: A 10-point blog post checklist
- 10 things that shouldn’t be on your blog
- 10 ways to engage readers and grow traffic today
- How to make more time for business and blogging
- How to organize tags, categories and labels
- How to create a style guide for your blog