Every week, I get at least a couple email questions about starting a new blog, so I thought it would be helpful to create a whole page with all the tips and nitty gritty details you need for starting your own blog, all in one place. If you’ve already started a blog and are looking for some tips, check out my “Tips for New Bloggers” page instead! Just a note that some of the links below are affiliate links – I wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t believe in, so thanks for your support!
Original Photo taken by Ben Powell Photography
1) Choose a Blog Name & Purchase the Domain
This is seriously the hardest part of starting a new blog – coming up with a name! It took me days (weeks?! months?!) of agonizing before I finally decided on fANNEtastic food.
Once you have decided on a blog name, you’ll want to purchase your domain name, e.g. www.YourBlogName.com. There are a lot of websites that you can use to buy your domain (and host your blog – that’s coming up next!) but I recommend Bluehost because it’s cheap and easy.
But what about hosting directly through WordPress.com?
WordPress is an awesome and easy to use online-based blogging software. I blog through them, but I don’t host my site through them. You can host your blog for free through WordPress.com, but that means your URL will have “.wordpress.com” at the end of it instead of being a pretty stand-alone URL (unless you pay for your own domain through them). Fun fact: for the first month of life of fANNEtastic food, it was actually located over at www.fANNEtasticfood.wordpress.com. The site is still up if you want to see my very early blog beginnings (and less than stellar photography skills)!
Obviously there are some pros to hosting through WordPress (it’s free if you don’t buy your domain!), but there are a lot of cons, too, especially if you’re looking to grow your blog. For example, if you host for free through WordPress.com, you can’t use plugins (and plugins are awesome… more on those on my next page – “Tips for New Bloggers”), you don’t get as much control over your site, you can’t use custom themes (you have to choose from the ones that WordPress.com offers), WordPress.com will host push ads on your site (unless you pay a fee to take them off), and you’re also not allowed to host your own advertising on your site from third party vendors, use affiliate links (like with Amazon.com), or do sponsored/paid posts with brands. I know some of these things might not matter when you start your blog, but they will if you stick with it! I’d really recommend saving yourself the trouble of transferring everything later and just going ahead and buying your own domain and hosting package with Bluehost up front right when you start your blog. It was such a pain to switch it all over a couple months of content into the journey!
So – head over to Bluehost and click on “Sign Up Now” on their homepage to see if your domain name is available. A page will come up with this box, where you can enter your desired webpage address to see if it’s available.
If it’s available, buy it! If it’s not, Bluehost will offer some alternatives for you to choose from.
Once you have your domain name set, you’ll also need to host your domain name, which is basically like renting space on the internet ever month so you can display your blog. Bluehost has really cheap monthly hosting rates and you’ll also get your domain name registration included for free if you decide to host with them! I used them as my host for about 2 years and I was a fan. I only switched to a more specialized host when my blog traffic became too much for their shared server to handle.
Here’s a screenshot of the package information screen. I’d recommend purchasing the optional Domain Whois Privacy – this will shield your personal information (like your home address and phone number) from being displayed to the public.
2) Setting Up Your Blog Through WordPress
Once you’ve completed registration with Bluehost, you will need to install WordPress so you can use it to publish your posts! Blogger is another option that many people use but having used both options before, I’d recommend WordPress. It’s easier to use and has better options, as far as I’m concerned!
Here’s how to get yourself set up on WordPress:
- Login to Bluehost and scroll down to the Software/Services section of the first page. Click on WordPress logo.
- On the next page click on “Install a brand new version.”
- A page with installation preferences will come up. Under “where would you like WordPress installed?”, the left box should have your new domain name (e.g. http://www.YourBlogName.com) – leave the right box blank.
- Click complete. If you get a warning message, click “Overwrite Existing Files.”
Next, you should get a message that your installation was completed! Write down your Login URL (which will be www.YourBlogName/wp-admin), username, and password.
Type your Login URL into your web browser. You’ll see a login screen like the one below. Enter your Username and Password you copied down from the previous step.
3) Customize Your Blog and Start Writing!
Now, for the fun part – the content and making it all look pretty!
First things first – you need to pick your theme. A theme is a name for the layout/visual properties of your blog, and you can customize the themes based on your preferences (e.g. two columns, three columns, color schemes, a header image, etc.).
- WordPress has tons of free themes to pick from – click here to check them out!
If you’re looking for a premium theme (which means you’ll have more ability to edit the theme based on your preferences), check out these:
- The Genesis Theme – This is the theme I use! It’s great – really easy to use and customize. I especially love how easy it is to customize the menu bar you see at the top of my blog, just under my header photo!
- The Thesis Theme – This is another extremely popular premium theme.
- For more premium themes, peruse the options over at StudioPress.
Now that your blog is up and running, want some tips for making blogging easier, staying motivated, and increasing your traffic? Check out my page on “Tips for New Bloggers.” I also share some of my favorite plugins and some ethical tips for new bloggers.
I hope you found this page helpful! If you have just started a new blog, please give me a hello on Twitter or Facebook to let me know! I’d love to check it out. And please let me know if you have any other questions!
Good luck and most of all – have fun!