Want to know how to start a blog for 2017 – 2018? Well, you’re in the right place.
Four years ago I knew nothing about starting a blog or a website, had zero coding skills, and couldn’t tell you what a CMS was. CMS stands for Content Management System, it’s how you manage the content on your website or blog – See, you already know more than I knew when I got started.
Fast forward the clock, I now have a profitable blog, a portfolio of digital marketing clients, and have helped build 100’s of successful websites and blogs, enabling me to work and travel the world.
Learning to create your own blog or website is a liberating and valuable skill. I created this post to help you start a successful blog or website in less than a week, a feat that took me the better part of a year to accomplish.
In this article we’ll go through how to start a blog step by step, and explore the attributes that successful blogs have in common.
Why start a blog?
Learning how to start a blog is a liberating and valuable skill. By the end of this article you will be equipped with the tools to share your ideas, concepts or thoughts with the rest of the world. Pretty exciting right!
There are a number of reasons for starting a blog, for example you may want to:
Become a blogger.
This may seem obvious, but if you want to become a blogger, you need to start a blog. Blogging can be an amazing creative outlet, a tool for building credibility, and even a vehicle for creating a desirable lifestyle.
Become a writer, marketer, or published author.
Blogging will force you to become a better writer and content marketer. It is simply a byproduct of running a successful blog (not a prerequisite). For those aspiring to become a published author, blogging helps showcase your skills, all while building an audience and following.
Become an industry authority.
Want to become a subject matter expert? Blogging is a tool that enables you to take full control of this. Start a blog specific to your niche, and fill it with amazing content. This will help promote you as an authority on the subject and will most likely help yield greater exposure and opportunities for you.
Make money or develop an additional income stream.
Whether you want to make a few hundred dollars a month, or a few hundred thousand dollars a month, it is possible. In fact, there are a number of bloggers that make a full-time income from blogging. If that appeals to you, check out our post on how to make money blogging.
Promote your business or personal brand.
Do you have an existing business, starting a new one, or wanting to develop your personal brand? Blogging can be a great vehicle for connecting with potential clients and creating opportunities. A blog can also be used to provide additional value to existing clients, or demonstrate your expertise and authority within an industry.
How to start a blog – 5 simple steps
In this section, we’re going to go through how to start your blog step by step using WordPress and hosting by Bluehost. You will need a small budget of around $100, which will cover the cost of your domain (the Bluehost link above gives you one domain for free), the first year of hosting, and a premium WordPress theme (in this instance, we’ll be using Divi by Elegant Themes).
Step 1: Choose a blog topic
Deciding what you want to blog about is the first step. The secret is to pick something that you’re passionate about, or really interested in. Creating a successful blog will take commitment (this includes your time, money, creativity, and mental energy), it won’t be 100% enjoyable, but choosing a topic that you’re into will make it a whole lot more enjoyable.
Once you’ve decided on your blog topic, you will need to consider a name for your blog and a domain (or website URL). This could be your name, something specific to your niche, or some form of branding that resonates with you.
Step 2: Pick a blogging platform
There are a number of blogging platforms you can use to start a blog such as WordPress (self-hosted), WordPress.com (hosted), Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, just to name a few. We recommend that you start a blog with WordPress (self-hosted by Bluehost), this will allow you to have your own domain, have more control over functionality and design, and provide a better user experience.
In the next few steps, we will go through how to start a blog using WordPress (self-hosted). You can also check out one of our free step by step WordPress tutorials.
Select the plan that’s right for you and then choose your free domain name by entering it into the ‘new domain’ field. If you’ve already purchased your domain name, enter it into the ‘transfer domain’ field.
If you’ve secured your domain elsewhere, you will need to change the nameservers to point at Bluehost. If you need help with this, contact your domain registrar and ask them ‘how to change the DNS records for your domain’ (they will know what you mean). You will need to point them to:
- ns1.BlueHost.com | 22.214.171.124
- ns1.BlueHost.com | 126.96.36.199
Once you’ve selected the domain for your blog, choose your desired hosting term and domain add-on preferences. I typically recommend selecting ‘domain privacy protection’ so that your personal information isn’t associated to your domain and publicly available (optional). Enter your personal information, payment details, and click ‘Next’ to move on to the next step.
You will need to create a password for your hosting account. Make sure you pick a secure password – To help with this, use the password generator. Once you’re logged in to your Bluehost dashboard, the next step is to install WordPress.
Step 4: Install WordPress
One of the reasons we love Bluehost is their easy to use One-click WordPress installation feature. In this step, we’ll show you how to install WordPress using the One-click install, if you’d prefer to watch a video, check out the how to install WordPress on Bluehost video from one of our previous tutorials.
To get started, login to the backend of your Bluehost dashboard.
Steps to install WordPress:
- From your Bluehost dashboard, scroll down to the ‘Website’ section and click ‘Install WordPress’.
- This will start the WordPress install process, select ‘Continue installation’.
- Select the domain that you would like to install WordPress on from the dropdown box. I would recommend unselecting the option to install additional plugins – I like to use as few plugins as possible to begin with as you can always install these later on if you actually need them. Then click ‘Next’.
- In the ‘Admin information’ section, enter the name of your blog, and create your admin user details (admin name, email, and password). This is the login you’ll use to access the backend of your blog. Leave the boxes checked, and click ‘Next’.
- This will start the WordPress installation on your domain, creating the required database and file structures.
- You will receive a confirmation message once WordPress has been successfully installed on your domain. Click the ‘View your credentials’.
- Follow the link through to the ‘Installation location’, or add /wp-admin to the end of your domain to access the back-end of your website.
- Finally, enter the admin user name and password you created earlier and select ‘log in’, to access the back-end of your new blog!
Congratulations! You officially have a blog! In the next few steps, we’ll go through how to customize your blog design and how to add content.
Step 5: Customize your blog
The next step is to customize your blog. To do this, we’ll select a WordPress theme to use and upload it through your WordPress dashboard. A WordPress theme leverages the base functionality of WordPress to enhance the features and visual experience of your blog.
To learn more about WordPress themes, check out our article: What is a WordPress theme?
Select your WordPress theme
Selecting the right WordPress theme for your blog is critical. To help make this decision a little easier, we’ve reviewed 20 of the top WordPress themes for blogs in our article: Best blog WordPress themes. For a list of specific blogs by niche, check out of WordPress theme reviews and select the category that best represents your niche.
Alternatively, here are a few themes & theme marketplaces to check out:
Upload your WordPress theme
Once you’ve purchased your WordPress theme and downloaded the theme file (usually a zip file), the next step is to upload it via your WordPress dashboard.
How to upload your WordPress theme:
- From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to ‘Appearance’, then ‘Themes’
- Click ‘Add New’, then ‘Upload Theme’
- Select ‘Choose File’
- Navigate to find your theme file ‘theme.zip’, then select ‘Open’, and ‘Install Now’ (this may take a minute or so to upload).
- Once your theme has uploaded successfully, select ‘Activate’ and you’re good to go!
Customize your blog content
Okay, you are now ready to upload and publish content to your blog. The two primary ways to publish content through your WordPress blog is via posts and pages.
Depending on which WordPress theme you purchased, the look, feel, and features may vary, but the core functionality is the same. It’s a good idea to review the theme specific documentation for the theme you purchased in order to become more familiar with your WordPress theme.
If you’re new to WordPress, check out one of our step by step video tutorials below:
- How to make a WordPress website 2017
- WordPress tutorial for beginners 2017 – How to create a website
- How to create a blog with WordPress 2017 – 2018 (coming soon)
If you want to learn the fundamentals of WordPress, check out our article: Introduction to WordPress – Fundamentals for Beginners. Alternatively, watch the video below.
How to start a successful blog
Defining what success means to you and establishing clear metrics is the first part of the equation. For some, success may be measured in income generated from a blog, total or average monthly subscribers, monthly site visitors, community engagement, and more – What’s important however, is to articulate what you want to get out of blogging, and let this guide your journey.
Attributes of a successful blog
For the purpose of this article, we’ve defined a successful blog to be one that ticks all of the boxes above – This includes, high monthly traffic, strong engagement, profitability, and growing subscribers – think Neil Patel, Refinery 29, TechCrunch, etc.
We’ve evaluated close to 100 of the top blogs to reveal the characteristics or attributes they have in common:
- Consistent & quality content: Content marketing is a growing, multi-billion dollar industry. To stand out in your niche, you need to create quality and compelling content that adds real value to your users. In addition to this, we’ve found that most successful blogs use a consistent content schedule. This enables the consumption of your content to become a ritual for your users.
- Great design & user experience: With our dwindling attention spans, and constant overstimulation, we as bloggers need to leverage creativity, design, and media to create engaging customer experiences. Fortunately, there are a number of great tools to help with this. There’s the Hemingway App to hack writing, Headline Analyzer to help create better headlines, and image depositories like Pexels, Unsplash and Shutterstock for high quality stock images and videos.
- Insatiability: What does that even mean? Well, think about music, can you ever get to a point in your life where you’ve finally had enough music? Was the answer ‘no’? Great blogs have the same characteristic, you just can’t get enough. You love it, but will never be 100% satisfied or ‘full’, and therefore, keep coming back for more.
- An engaged community: Another noteworthy attribute of successful blogs is the sense of community. Mark Zuckerberg understands the value of community, and the power of our need to belong. Fostering a sense of community is achieved through having a higher purpose and a drive to have an impact on the lives of those in your industry or niche. Through creating engaging content that adds real value, and doing it with heart, you will develop a tribe of loyal enthusiast around your successful blog.