There is so much information on the web about how to start a blog. Conflicting information creates a web of confusion.
Where should you start?
Who is the real expert on this?
Well, I’m here to tell you, that after a couple of years of running in circles, I’ve discovered the secret. There is no one right way. There are actually many paths to a successful (and profitable) blog experience.
During my journey, I’ve learned to follow a handful of experts who have given me the important tools to make my own decisions about the best path for my blogs.
My blogs are not the largest out there and I don’t have millions of followers, but the blogs I write have given me a huge sense of accomplishment and provide an income source that I would never have imaged when I started blogging in 2012. And, I’m eager to share all that I’ve learned along this amazing journey into blogging.
Why am I a blogger? It’s simple. I’ve always enjoyed writing and discovered that blogging gives me the ability to write when I want, about the topics that are interesting to me, and during convenient times (or whenever the mood strikes).
When I incorporate personal goals to keep my mind in a continuous learning cycle, blogging really ticks the boxes for creative challenges! In addition, I’ve been able to meet other bloggers and online entrepreneurs who help me, inspire me, and challenge me to improve and become smarter every day.
Choosing a domain name for your blog
Enough about me (for now), let’s get started on YOUR amazing blog.
We are making this as easy as possible and the first step is to choose a domain name. The domain name is what appears before the “.com” when searching in google or other search engines.
Before grabbing a domain name, think about your blog direction and how the domain name looks on paper and how it sounds when spoken. Is it easy to understand when spoken? Is it easy to spell out when talking to prospective blog readers?
You will be spelling out this name often as you meet fellow bloggers and potential readers. Give it some thought, brainstorm with your friends, look at your best-of-the-best blog name choices in print and say them aloud a few times.
When you decide on a name, use NameCheck (https://www.namechk.com) to see which social media platforms have that name available. This is a great tool to help you grow your blog presence quickly by adding additional social media venues using the same domain name.
There are many opinions about using a descriptive blog name versus using your actual name as the blog name. I do both and honestly see a place for both in my online business strategies. My Crochet Getaway blog uses a creative blog name and uses the tagline “escapades for crochet enthusiasts” to more clearly articulate the purpose of the blog – which is to provide information about gathering events for yarn crafting groups. I have a fun little mascot for the site and the site name resonates well with the target audience.
As I began writing more articles for travel publications and promoting my photography work, I purchased the domain for gwyngoodrow.com. This site has endless possibilities as my hobbies and blogging interests evolve.
For your site, to make the process really easy, purchase your domain name directly through Bluehost. You can get a FREE domain for your first year of blogging when you buy 12 months of Bluehost web hosting services. You need both – a domain and a host – so this is an economical way to get started. Ready to go? Just click the green button to “get started now”.
Disclosure: Some of the company links on this page are “Affiliate Links”. If you click on the link and purchase items, I may receive a commission for promoting their products and/or services.
For your first blog, I recommend the basic Bluehost package. The basic package at $3.95 per month will provide everything that you need to get started. It is a small investment but completely adequate for your first blog experience.
You can upgrade to the higher level packages at any time and pay the fee difference when it makes sense. For now, just click the green “select” button for your chosen package and we’ll link your domain name and the hosting system.
On the screen below, on the left side of the page, you will enter your new domain name (if you have not purchased a domain elsewhere)
If you already have a domain name, you will identify your already-purchased domain name. Then click the blue “next” button.
Optional Domain Name Selections
The following screen offers additional domains similar to your selected .com or .net account. These are offered with prices beginning at $8.99 per year. Depending on your target market, some of these may be beneficial to your business model. The add-on can be purchased now, or at a later date (assuming someone has not taken the domain name at that time). Keep in mind that many people naturally type the “.com” version on the end of searches, so you will need to market the other extensions if you choose them instead of (or in addition to) the .com extension.
You are now a domain owner!
It’s time to select a secure password and enter it into the system.
Choose a password that cannot be easily guessed, includes numbers, letters, special characters, and no easily recognized patterns.
The soon-to-be amazing blog…
Now it is time to log into your account, using your blog domain name as the userid and then your password (from the prior screen) in the password field. Then click the blue “submit” button.
The next step (moving right along) is to connect your domain name with the blog hosting service. If you purchase both through Bluehost (recommended) then you can skip this step.
If you need a break, this is a good time to pat yourself on the back or get more caffeine. You will receive a welcome email from Bluehost shortly with a link that we’ll use in the next step.
It’s time to install WordPress using Bluehost’s cPanel. Your welcome email from Bluehost will explain how to access this page.
Choose Hosting (top menu bar), then cPanel (second menu bar) and the following screen appears.
Click Start (if this is a brand new install). The installation process begins automatically.
And the installation will continue. Isn’t this easy?
When you reach the screen for the last step, you will see “Advanced Options.” This is where you will need to choose a username and password for your WordPress website. You will use these each time that you log in to WordPress to work on your blog.
Just like we did before, choose an Admin Username and Admin Password that includes numbers, letters, special characters, and does not have easily recognized patterns.
You will want to check “Automatically create a new database for this installation” at the bottom of the screen (unless you already have a database). For a new blogger, it would be uncommon to already have an active database instance.
Like MAGIC – Your install is complete!
Be sure to save your user id and password in a safe place for access to your blog.
Your blog is set up and ready for the first blog post. Well, almost. Before posting that first blog entry, we need a platform to display it to the readers. This visual layout for your blog is known as a “theme”.
Here’s my hack for selecting a theme. Look at some websites that you enjoy reading – and think about what appeals to you.
Is it the number of columns on a page?
Is it the color and font combination? Are the photos generally large? Generally smaller thumbnail photos? A combination?
Are the photos generally large? Generally smaller thumbnail photos?
What about the text? Do you prefer big and bold or clean and refined fonts?
Think it over and explore the internet with a new perspective. You are building your dream website with every decision.
Did you fall in love with a blog or website layout?
Check out WordPress Theme Detector Enter the name of a website and let the detector reveal the theme being used! How cool is that? The site provides a description of the theme’s features, the developer information, and active plug-ins used on the site.
Try it now…Here is the URL for my crochet-themed website that you can experiment with…
From thoughtful inspection of your favorite websites, you will have the knowledge to choose an appropriate theme in the MoJo marketplace of WordPress to move to the next step, which is the actual process of blogging!
By the way, this page you are reading now is on the Divi 3.0 theme from Elegant Themes. This is my recommendation for a paid theme. Happenstance is a solid free theme, but the developer, Tomas Toman is no longer offering tech support for the theme. Tomas was simply amazing at responding to our newbie questions and solving creative issues with the site.
At some point, we’ll migrate all of our sites into the Elegant Themes Divi products. Yes, I’m hooked on Divi.
To navigate in the WordPress system, you will need to log into WordPress with your username and password. This happens on a login screen that appears in the middle of your monitor, tablet, or other devices.
Here’s the last screenshot of this series. When you log into WordPress, you will arrive at a Dashboard page. Don’t be intimidated. This is the page where you will spend the most time and become intimately familiar with all of the options and tools along the left side of the screen. The photo below is an example and the dashboard offers Screen Options (upper right corner) for you to customize your view.
If you use this document, and need any help or have questions with starting your blog, I can help you out. I’ve been where you are and will do anything I can to make your path painless.
YOU DID IT!
Give yourself a pat on the back and embrace your amazing future as a blogger!
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