Why do you wanna start a blog? Maybe you’re looking to create a passive income stream, maybe you’re looking for a tool to market your services and products, or perhaps you just feel that you have something to share with the rest of the world.
Whatever the reason maybe, you want to make a blog and you want do it quickly and easily, right? If yes then you’re at the right place.
You are exactly where I was about ten years ago when I started blogging. It was a hobby/part-time endeavor for making a little money on the side. And it worked really well. Not only that I created a passive income stream, it is my primary income stream now. I left my job because I didn’t need that anymore. My blog was making me enough.
Now I stay at home, give all the time to my family and watch my son grow up. I work when I want to, I work only on the hours I feel comfortable, I don’t have a dress code… I am my own boss.
Step by Step Guide
- Step 0: What Not to Do
- Step 1: Selecting a Dependable Host
- Step 2: Signing up
- Step 3: Install WordPress
- Step 4: Understanding WordPress Dashboard
- Step 5: Installing Themes
- Step 6: Installing Plugins
Why Did I Make This Guide?
In a previous article, I discussed that designers should always have a blog because apart from being a passive income stream, it is a great marketing and networking tool. And that’s when I realized, these benefits remain the same for everyone, not just designers.
So here I am writing a detailed guide for the non-technical people i.e. humans. In here, you’ll learn how you can get a blog up and running without knowing any HTML or computer coding. I will also keep this guide in plain English, no technical mumbo-jumbo. Let’s begin.
What is a Blog?
Literally, it means a diary. So, a blog is where you write whatever you want. It’s your own magazine.
Just like a magazine, a blog can be a business, and I do this business. I’ve been a blogger for nearly a decade now. Even though I have left my job, I make much more than I ever did on a job. I won’t disclose my income but it is an envious amount. But I always tell people that they have nothing to envy because they can earn just as much as I do. All they have to do is start their own blog.
How to Create a Blog?
There are many ways to start a blog. Theoretically, you can create a blog without spending a single penny. That way is that you can sign up at wordpress.com or blogger.com (blogspot) and make your blog over there. Even though there is an all-free approach to blogging, I will never recommend you that. Here’s why:
Step 0: What Not to Do
There are four major problems with using free blog publishers.
- Domain name: on free blogs, your URL will be like this: yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com.
- Advertisements: some blog hosting publishers place their own ads on your blogs because they are providing you a free blogging platform. They basically negate the whole concept of ‘free’
- No Earning: since you go for all-free, no advertiser takes you seriously so you almost never make any money out of a free blog.
- Makes you look like a cheapskate: you can get a professional-grade web hosting, domain name and WordPress powered blog on only $5.95 per month. If you still choose to go free, you don’t look good. How can you get all that in $5.95? I’m glad you asked.
Step 1: Selecting a Dependable Host
The first thing you need to do is select your web host. This is the company that will host all your data, your blog. Mind you, unlike most free web blog hosts, a paid web host will not own your data. You will be the owner, they will only be hosting it so that your blog can stay live on the internet.
There are thousands of web hosts on the internet, but only a few them are actually good. Fortunately, the good ones are the famous ones so you can google and find the one you find most suitable. If you want my advice, I recommend BlueHost.
Because BlueHost is one of the world’s biggest and most experienced web hosts with over millions of customers ranging from individuals to large scale corporate companies. But there’s another reason why I’m recommending them.
BlueHost is lightning fast compared to its costlier competitors. And speed is one of the biggest factors that help you get ranked high in Google search and give your users a better experience.
So, in my tutorial, I’ll be using their service.
Step 2: Signing up
We start by signing up for a package, Click Here to reach Bluehost and Signup.
If you are absolutely new to blogging, I suggest you take the smallest package because initially, you are unlikely to run multiple websites. If you are planning to run multiple websites then you should go for one of the bigger packages.
I’ve chosen “Starter” package and hit on “Select”
This screen popped up.
If you already have a domain name bought (which I assume you don’t) then you can use the second option to bring that domain to BlueHost.
However, I’m using the first option of buying a new domain name. I type in my desired domain name and hit next.
Note: in the last section of this article, I have given some tips for choosing a good domain name. Don’t miss that section.
So, I hit next and this pops up.
You need to provide your valid info. This is pretty usual stuff so let’s move on.
As you’d notice, there is an option ticked by default for you to buy. Let me describe what this option and rest of the three options do and whether you need to buy them.
- Domain Privacy Protection: this hides your identity. There are online WHOis tools that tell who owns which website. If you don’t want anyone to know that you own the blog you’re creating then you can buy this service. I, however, do not use this service because I have no intention of hiding that I own Designzzz.com
- Site Backup Pro: this service will backup your whole blog so that, if, due to a natural calamity or mistake from your side, the data of your blog gets deleted, there will be a backup. I suggest that you should keep a backup. It’s always a good idea to keep a backup.
- Search Engine Jumpstart: this is an SEO service and I don’t think you need it much especially if you are completely new to blogging. What it does is that it communicates with Google and other search engines and helps you get ranked quickly. However, its graphs and charts and analysis reports can be confusing if you are new to this stuff. All in all, beginners don’t need this early on.
- SiteLock Security: this is a third-party service certifies that your site does not contain any malwares or anything that can be a threat to the user in any way. It is a good idea to use this service if you want to sell something on your blog (such as a book or handicraft item or anything else you may have created).
Understood? Great. Let’s move to billing info.
Make sure you read and tick the terms & conditions checkbox. Now, hit “Submit”
A page with welcome greetings loads.
Now is the time to create your cPanel password. So go on and hit “Create Your Password”
A new page loads.
Here, you can either set a password of your choice or let the computer generate a highly secure password for you. Once you have chosen your password, click on “Create”
Step 3: Install WordPress
WordPress is the world’s most popular and most powerful blogging platform. It so good that nearly one quarter of world wide web is made of WordPress.
Once you have registered, you’ll receive an email containing your cPanel username and password. Use that account info to log into your cPanel account.
Use the password you just created and log in.
Once you’re logged in, just click on “Install WordPress” button.
In the following option, you can either import your existing WordPress website or you can install a brand new copy. Since I’m assuming you don’t already have a blog, just hit “Start”.
When you start the installation, it asks you whether you want to install your blog in a sub-directory or the domain root.
I use my website only for blogging so I have installed it on root so when you type in www.designzzz.com, my blog opens up. But, business websites usually create a sub-directory for their blog. For instance, president’s official website WhiteHouse.gov have installed blog in a sub-directory. Their URL is: www.whitehouse.gov/blog
If you are a freelancer or expert in an industry, I suggest you install your blog in a sub-directory so that your homepage can be your introduction or your “hire me” page.
If you’re only gonna use this domain for your blog, then you should use install the blog on your homepage and leave the directory field empty.
Once you select your desired location, you will be asked to create an admin account for your WordPress admin panel. Password, email address and website title can be changed later. Once you fill in these details, hit “Install Now“.
This notification will appear. That means installation is in progress.
And then these magical words will appear.
Once the installation is complete, the installation wizard will ask you whether you’d like to buy a premium theme from MojoThemes. This is one of the world’s biggest theme-sellers. You can buy a theme straight away if you’d like, but we’ll discuss themes in the next step in detail.
Your WordPress powered blog is up and running on a high speed web host.
Note: WordPress is fairly easy to use, especially if you can find your way through Microsoft Word. However, if you’d like to learn it in-depth, you can sign up at my free udemy course for learning WordPress inside out.
Step 4: Understanding WordPress Dashboard
I’m also creating free Youtube videos that help people to learn WordPress better. You can check out the complete youtube playlist for all of the videos, but I’m embedding the relevant videos right here.
Now you’ll have type in this URL: www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
If you have installed your blog in a sub-directory, then this kind of URL will work: www.yourdomain.com/directory/wp-admin/
This page will open.
Use the login password we created while we were installing WordPress. Once you log in, this dashboard will load.
Now, let’s switch to video. I’m introducing the WordPress dashboard.
Step 5: Installing Themes
The theme is the template, the outlook design of your blog. WordPress comes with a pretty sufficient theme called Twenty Sixteen, but usually people don’t wanna stick the default look and give it a look of their own.
The following video describes how you can install a new theme on your WordPress website.
- Avada: world’s most popular theme.
- Horizontal: a beautiful one-page theme.
- Nectarina: Multipurpose blog theme.
Step 6: Installing Plugins
Just like themes, there are plugins that can be installed into your WordPress website.
These plugins are quite essential for a blog to run properly.
A plugin can be related to SEO, security, design, social media optimization or many other things. All WordPress websites have at least 5-6 plugins installed. Here’s how you can install them.
- Yoast SEO: this is the plugin I use for my SEO needs.
- W3 Total Cache: helps to speed up your website.
- Sucuri: this plugin keeps a check on your website security and alerts if anything goes rwrong.
- Floating Social Bar: a floating bar of social media buttons so your content gets shared more.
Before you start a blog
Choosing the right topic
Since you have landed on this page, I presume that you want to create a blog and you already have a topic in your mind for that blog.
Make sure you choose your topic wisely. Make sure your topic is something you love to talk about. I’m not saying it should be your area of expertise, I’m not saying it should be something you like, I’m saying it’s suppose to be something you like to talk about.
I’m saying this because this is something you’ll be talking about for weeks and months before you start reaping the benefits. If you choose a topic that you don’t love to talk about, you’ll get discouraged and stop blogging. I have seen this happen many times.
The only reason I think I’m successful in this industry because I like to talk about designing and making money in this industry.
Choosing the right domain name
Just like your topic, your domain name should carry your attitude. I personally suggest not going for a keyword-based domain name but a reader-friendly domain name.
Choose a domain name that’s memorable, easy to type and perhaps, short (even though short domains names are extremely hard to find on .com but that’s what you go for).
Installing a blog and starting blogging may seem a little technical but it’s actually a fairly easy thing to do. Blogging itself is a fairly easy thing to do if you do it right way. I highly suggest that you take up on professional blogging (not the free amateur kind) because it can generate you money and also it is a great tool for marketing your services and/or products.
And, if you have any trouble with this guide or anything else related to blogging, please comment here or tweet to me at http://twitter.com/AyazMalikSMC and I’ll try to sort out your problem immediately.
All the best and happy blogging.