How to Start a Blog in 2017 – a Step-by-Step Guide

I have gotten so many questions on how to start a blog that I thought I’d write a post about it and walk you through it, step by step: How to start a blog in 2017! I’m in the process of setting up my new photography website, so this is the perfect opportunity to show you the steps as I do it. I’m planning on using WordPress for my new site, as I do for this one, because it’s familiar and I really like the platform and ability to build your site as you envision it with such a wide variety of themes available.

Now, this might seem like a lot of steps, but it really isn’t. I’ve just broken them down for you so they’re easier to do and you can work on it little by little or just sit down and tackle it all at once. Literally, with these steps you can start a blog in just 15 minutes!

Before I show you how to start a blog, it’s important to ask yourself this question:

Why do I want to create a blog?

Before creating it, you want to know why you’re starting it in the first place. What do you plan to blog about? Who is your target audience? Do you have a certain niche?

For example, I want to start a photography blog to showcase my work to prospective clients. I love to shoot photos of newborns, children and families, especially in documentary style. I want a place I can showcase my portfolio as well as a place where I can write about my photography experiences and tips and tricks for other photographers out there.

You should write about what you’re passionate about, that way you never get tired of blogging. Spend some time sitting down and figuring out where your passion lies, then tackle the next steps.

1. Decide on a name for your blog (your domain)

Your domain name is the name you would like to have for your blog.

For example, my new domain name for my photography site is: www.jentheodore.com

The hosting company I’m going to show you how to get set up with provides a free domain name registration to new users (this saves you about $12). This company also gives you a WordPress.org blog, which is the best ones out there in my opinion (and I’ve been blogging about nine years now!). I already own my domain so I don’t need to purchase it, I can just enter it when I sign up.

2. Chose your host

Your host is what provides you the web space for your blog.

I have been using Bluehost for this blog for more than a year and have been very happy with their company and the customer service. My site has never been down and few times I’ve had to contact customer service for something I messed up on my end, they helped me within a matter of minutes!

Bluehost is a wonderful web host for beginners as it’s relatively inexpensive and their customer service is wonderful. They give you a free domain (if you don’t have one already), free one-click WordPress install, offer different site builder options and you can create your own email (instead of using a gmail/yahoo or a similar one). They also offer 24/7 customer support and online chat – both of which I’ve used.

The next steps are going to walk you through how to sign up with Bluehost!

First, you’re going to want to see if your domain name is available. You can do this by using this handy little tool:

Your name is available? Great! On to the next step! Your name not available? They will offer you suggestions of available domains similar to the one you’re looking for.

3. Go to Bluehost

 

Go to Bluehost and click the button that says “Get Started Now.”

4. Select a plan

Since you’re just starting out, I’d recommend you go with the basic plan. You can always upgrade later if needed. After blogging at Jennadesigns for the last 13 months with about 6,000 visitors/mo. I still haven’t found a need to upgrade my service from the basic plan. Of course, if your blog turns out to grow much faster than that, you can upgrade at any time.

5. Add your domain name

Since you already thought of your domain name and checked it above, write it down in the “New Domain” section.

If you already have an existing domain name, you can add it to the box that says “I have a domain name.

If for some reason your domain name is taken, it will give you other similar name options that you can choose from. Once you’ve got your domain chosen, click “next.

6. Enter your contact information

Now you just need to enter your contact information.

7. Chose a package

You have some options here. If they offer domain privacy, I’d go with it, that way your registration information won’t be on the web for everyone to see. It looks like they are not currently offering that service at sign up for the basic plan, but you can add it on later.

The rest of the services they offer you can always add on at a later date if you find you need them.

This is also where you can choose the length of your hosting contract. They offer 12-, 24-, 36- and 60-month contracts. Obviously, the longer the contract, the better the rate. A 36-month plan will cost you $2.95/mo. billed annually, while a shorter 12-month contract will cost you $4.95/mo. billed annually. All contracts have a free 30-day money back guarantee.

8. Enter your billing information

Next, enter your billing information.

Check the terms of use and privacy and click the green “submit” button.

9. More options

They will offer you more options. You can choose them if you like, but you don’t have to. Remember, you can always add them in the future. So click “No Thanks.”

10. Choose a password

Click on “create your password” and make sure you create a strong password. Write it down somewhere so that you don’t forget it. (This has happened to me more than once!) This will be your Bluehost account password.

Once you submit your password it will take a few minutes to create your account. When it is done, click on the button that says “Login.”

11. Your Dashboard

You will get very familiar with this screen over time.

All we are going to do here is install WordPress on your domain. Click the button that says “Install WordPress.” It is the second button of the “Website” section.

12. Install WordPress

Bluehost uses Mojo to install WordPress for you. Next, you will be taken to the page below. There is a green button that says “Continue Installation” – click it.

Now it will tell you to select your domain name. Just look for your domain name and click on it, then click “next.” There are a couple of plug-ins checked below (the little monster guys), uncheck those boxes (you can add them later thru WordPress if you want). BlueHost also offers the option of having their company set up your site for you … skip this. I’m going to walk you through it – it’s very simple to install yourself.

After you enter this, it will go to the page below. Write your site name and change the admin password to whatever you would like. You can also change the email to the one you use most often. This will be your login information for WordPress. Write it down somewhere handy as you’re going to need it.

Check the 3 little boxes and then click “Next.

WordPress will start to install. It will let you browse available themes while it installs. This does not interrupt the process. It will show a green check when it finished installing.

Once it is done installing, click on “view your credentials.” You’ll be taken to this page:

This screen will offer you a variety of WordPress themes to chose from. We’re going to chose a theme later, so we’re done with this page. You can click out of it and go on to the next step – logging into your new WordPress site!

13. Log in to WordPress

The moment of truth! Open a new browers winder and go to www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin so you can log in to WordPress using the username and password from above (that you remembered to write down!).

It should look like the picture above. Now you can log in.

WordPress is where you will be spending the majority of your time. It is where your blog posts, pages, and photos live. Little by little you will become familiar with it and it will eventually become almost second nature to navigate. Here’s a screenshot of what your dashboard will look like:

14. Get a sweet theme

Remember I said we’d come back to this? The theme is the design of your blog, so you’re going to want to do your research and pick one that not only looks pleasing to the image you are after but also has all the functions you may need down the road, like e-commerce support.

WordPress has plenty of free themes you can start off with and there’s nothing wrong with doing that while you get your feet wet.

On the left side of the screen click on Appearance> Themes. Then on the top click on ” WordPress.org Themes.“ It will show you all their free themes that they offer. Choose one and click “Activate.” Make sure the theme you use is mobile friendly as so many people today view blogs on their tablets and phones.

Congratulations – you now have your very own self-hosted blog!

I know the temptation is there to want to make your blog look perfect right away. Take your time and learn as you go. At first, it might seem a little scary, but once you learn more about it, it becomes simple and easy – as do most things in life.

15. Last, check your email

You will receive emails from Mojo Market Place and Bluehost. Make sure to save these emails because it has important information about your accounts. I created a folder in my email called “Blog Stuff” and save all my blog-related emails there so I can find them easily.

Now is the time to be excited – the possibilities are endless and your dream blog awaits you! It will take time – and trial and error – to learn everything, but trust me, in the end it will be worth it. Look for future posts on blogging tips and tricks as I get so many questions about it.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment down below and I’ll try to answer it to the best of my ability in a timely manner!



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27 Comments

  • Alina

    Such a great and insightful breakdown. What a great resource!

    xoxo,

    Alina | http://www.besosalina.com

    • Jen

      Thank you – glad you found it helpful! Pass it along if you know someone interested in starting a blog!

  • Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries

    I’ve heard awesome things about Bluehost!

    • Jen

      Prior to starting self-hosting – and even since – I’d heard mixed reviews. But I’ve never had a problem and been super happy with their services.

  • Jeanette

    Awesome guide for newbie bloggers 🙂

    • Jen

      Thank you! Pass it along if you know someone starting a blog, thanks!

  • Madi

    I use bluehost and have been very impressed with them!

    • Jen

      Glad to hear! I’ve been very happy with their service and the couple of times I broke something they were super helpful in getting me back up and running!

  • Tanyi Melvis Bechemnyo

    I wish someone had written down these steps for me to follow when I started. I had to figure out everything for myself. Newbies would learn a lot from your post! Great Job!

    • Jen

      Thank you! If you know someone thinking about starting a blog, please pass it along!

  • Lyndsey

    This is a great post for the newbie blogger. I had to learn as I go and I am still learning.

    • Jen

      Thank you! That’s how I learned – as I went. I’ve got to say, it’s a lot easier the second time around!

  • Rosalie Markovics

    Thanks I’m moving away from Wix because functionality is difficult once you get more posts up. Trialling blogger at the moment but much less options. I am moving on to read your spring cleaning post!

    • Jen

      Glad you found it helpful! I’ve never tried Wix, but I was with Blogger for 8 years. Wanted to do more with my site than I could on Blogger, so I made the switch to self-hosting about 13 months ago and never looked back – I’m so happy with my current set-up!

  • Ashley Griffith

    These are super helpful tips for beginning bloggers!

    • Jen

      Thank you! Please pass it along to someone you know who might be starting a blog!

  • Sharon Chen

    This post is really helpful for newbies! The screenshots and step-by-step procedure makes it very clear.

    • Jen

      Thank you! I wish when I’d started out I had a resource like this, so I figured it would be helpful to create one for someone else who might be starting a blog. Please pass it on to anyone you know who may be starting a blog!

  • Jill Hamilton McMeans

    These are super helpful, straightforward tips that many are going to love. Thank you for sharing- I’ve been thinking of doing a post similar to this as well. Have a great week!

    • Jen

      Thank you! There can never be too many resources out there when you’re looking for directions on how to do something – go for it!

  • hanna - platforms and pacifiers

    Yes! This is a great step by step! Wish I would have had something like this years ago!

    • Jen

      Thank you! Yes, I wish I’d had something like this when building my first blog from scratch. I will say, it’s so much easier the second time around!

  • rachel

    I’m sending this over to my sister. I’ve been trying to tell her for MONTHS to start a blog! 🙂

    • Jen

      Thanks! I hope she finds it useful! If she has any questions, direct her over to me, I’m happy to help!

  • Jennifer Corter

    How awesome! I have been thinking about making the switch to WP, and this is a helpful guide! Thank you!

  • Elise Cohen Ho

    Deciding on a name I think is the hardest part. Fabulous breakdown of what is involved.

    • Jen

      Thank you – hope it’s helpful to someone just starting out. I agree! Choosing a name is the hardest part!

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