I started my first blog in 2000 (I was nine) and have started multiple blogs since then. It’s much less complicated today than it was back then.
Here’s a five-minute guide on how to start a blog, with links to my other posts if you want more info on the complex bits.
I recommend self-hosted WordPress. Even without technical know-how, it’s possible to just start and figure the rest out later.
1. Get hosting
- Cheapest hosting with the most features + best support: GreenGeeks ($2.49/mo. for three years)
- Inexpensive + easy to manage multiple sites: Dreamhost
- Managed book blogger/author hosting: Nosegraze
Uncheck the package extras. The further ahead you’re willing to pay, the less it’s going to cost (for most hosts).
Purchase your domain through your host at Name.com or Namecheap. I recommend keeping this separate, because if anything happens to your host/account, your domain is NOT locked with it! Run the name at both and select the cheapest; check namecheapcoupons.com for Namecheap deals.
👉 How to choose a unique site name when everything feels like it’s taken
2. Install WordPress
During the hosting onboarding process, you’re asked if you want to install WordPress.
If you don’t do this, you can still do it from your hosting dashboard.
When installing, refrain from choosing a theme. It’s literally the least important part of starting a blog — and finding the best theme works best when you have content, anyway.
👉 Basic HTML bloggers should know
There’s no magic spell to just make a blog happen. If I was starting a blog in 2022 (I am), I would obviously do many things differently because I’d be starting it a decade later.
If you spend time focusing on having the right theme before you even get your content started, you’re going to wind up wasting a lot of money and time on something that’s not necessarily happening — the definition of holding yourself back.
Forget the rules that tell you how to blog and write to your own beat. Post about the things bloggers aren’t supposed to talk about. Learn some basic HTML to further customize your blog.
I have a blog prompt randomizer, if you need post blog post ideas.
Whatever you do, don’t be a useless blogger.
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Great post, Jane. There’s so much information here, it’s wonderful! The amount of research, tips, and tricks is deeply appreciated and there’s a lot here that I can learn for my own blog. Thanks for sharing!
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When I stopped getting hosted for the first time, I had to look at my options and set up everything that could work for WordPress and such. It’s a different world and something I’ve never encountered since I’ve always used free blogging platforms, but it feels good to be out in the web hosted. I had to set up everything so my blog would run but it wasn’t too complicated, honestly. Just with some instructions, such as these, and tips; it wasn’t too hard.
I’m still a noob in a lot of ways but that’s okay. I have great friends helping me out, 🙂
I totally agree with all of this. Especially the brand names you’ve mentioned here. I’ve been a customer of ASO and Namecheap for several years now and have always been super impressed with their customer service.
If you’re looking for “cheap and good quality” good luck. I seldom wear cheap shoes or cheap jeans, because they look and feel awful.
Cheap shoes/jeans aren’t that bad, but I grew up on them.
I wasn’t looking for that, but I was making the point that it’s impossible to find both cheap and good quality hosting sitting together in one basket.
This is such a great post. I’m always being asked basic questions about how to start a website.
And I realize my photoblog is expanding well beyond what my host can handle so I am looking for a host to change to within the next year.
I never realized that there are people out there who don’t know how to set up a blog until I got into book blogging instead of “real life” blogging. A lot of people who get into book blogging don’t know a lot about HTML or PHP, or just use WordPress.com or Blogger. This was definitely a surprise for me because it’s all second nature to me now thanks to having my own blog for however long I did.
This is really helpful though! One of the number one things that stresses me out about buying a domain is the hosting (which, thank you Liz for hosting me for as long as you have!). It’s just hard to find one that’s reliable.
I definitely think commenting is the best way to gain traffic. People aren’t going to know about your blog unless you throw it out there for people to see. I mean sure social networking is great, but if no one knows about your blog, how are they going to find your social networking websites too? It’s all very full circle-ish.
Great post! 😛
Very realistic and helpful tips [and reminders!]. In all honesty though, the extent to which one wishes to manage a blog varies based on the goal and the genre of their blog. For personal blogs, using premade layouts/themes would suffice. I’ve seen a few “established” blogs, on the other hand, that would fare better with paid designers’ assistance. I’m currently on the former, but I would like to hone in on my coding skills, so that I could design my own WP theme one day. Maybe it’s this little artist’s pride in me, but I always want to take charge. Of course, the investment, when handled correctly, is worth every penny.
Same for domain names. I just need to think of a cool name first. Great recommendations for places where I can purchase domain names. I’ll take a good note of them for future references.
I think that this is very informative! You cover everything that people need to know and remember. I mean, starting a website and let alone, running a website, isn’t an easy task. As usual, you’re right to the point and you don’t beat around the bush and that’s perfect! 🙂
I do have to agree with Nancy on one point though, commenting on people’s websites though is one of the very best ways to drive traffic to your website rather then just advertising your link places. By commenting on people’s sites, people feel more obligated to reply to the comment, rather then just stop and visit your site and then leave. So, Nancy brings up a great point there.
Otherwise though, I think your article is great and covers a lot of amazing and important points! The most important one being, if you don’t have the time and patience to manage a website, don’t have one. It’s simple. Just like you said.
This is probably one of the “realest” post I’ve read about starting up a blog so here’s a few friendly cookies /cookie /cookie /cookie
Your cousin has a pretty well-expanded site! NameCheap is expanding to a point where profit comes first before people. But meh, there are other alternatives. I pretty much agree with everything that you said; especially the WordPress part because it’s the biggest blogging platform there is. People don’t really use FanUpdate/CuteNews anymore which is good. People should be self-reliant when it comes to creating a website. Google is their best friend and it’s a plus that they’re learning a valuable skill (web coding) since technology is the thing of the future.
Commenting is definitely one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog, or at least quality traffic. Ads just makes people click the link, look at your blog, and then exit. I don’t know why people are against this traditional idea. I’m still all about it. We gotta get people back to this old habit, haha.