I’ve been blogging about personal finance for over two years now. It feels crazy to write that! When I wrote my first blog post on Halloween in 2013, I honestly had no idea where the coming months and years would take me, in terms of blogging or anything else.
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When I first started blogging, I had practically zero website knowledge. Had never started a website before, had never taken any classes where I learned how to do that. I had never even heard of SEO! I remember having to Google that to figure out what it was and why it seemed that so many bloggers thought it was important. 🙂
I just read a blog post from a different blogger one day (shout out to Holly at Club Thrifty!) and thought I’d like to try to start a blog. I followed all the steps in her post and, voila! I had myself a blog.
Needless to say, over the past two years I have learned an incredible amount about blogging and running a website! So much so that I decided that it was time I wrote my own blog post about how to start a blog. Who knows, maybe two years from now someone will be sending a shout out to me for helping them get going on their own blogging journey?
If I can start a blog- and make money blogging– with almost no prior knowledge about running a website, I am pretty sure anyone can!
How to Start a WordPress Blog
Step 1: Choose a Topic
Ok, so the very first thing that you will have to do if you want to start a blog is figure out what you want to write about. It has to be a topic that A) you are passionate about and B) you have a lot to say about! The reason that I think these two things are a MUST is because if you are going to start a blog about something, you are going to be writing about it a LOT. If you are passionate and have a lot to say, the odds of you getting sick of it or running out of topics are much lower!
However- you want to make sure that your topic is focused, yet not too broad or narrow. Just the other day I came across a blog whose main topic was to “live life well.” Ok, that’s awesome! But what does that mean? Well from what perspective? Healthy? Wealthy? Mindful? I had a hard time figuring out if I was identifying with the blogger or not because I just wasn’t sure exactly where she was coming from. Her blog topic is awfully broad.
Conversely, it would probably not be a good idea to start a blog about Underwater Basket Weaving in Fresh Water Reservoirs in Michigan. That’s awfully narrow, and I have no idea who would read that.
I think before you start a blog it’s a good idea if you can have a general sense of what your blog subtopics might be. For example, I knew I wanted to write about frugal living, and over time this developed to also include making extra income, getting out of debt, and building wealth. But if you click on these subtopics on my menu bar you will notice that by far I have written the most articles about frugal living, which is my blog’s main topic.
Step 2: Decide on a Domain Name
This was one of the hardest steps for me, and was honestly the biggest reason why I hesitated to start a blog for as long as I did. I found that every time I thought of a blog name I’d like to have, it was already taken by someone else.
Here are my best tips on this:
- Choose a blog name that is not too long, and easy to remember
- Choose a name that relates understandably to your topic, or niche
- If at all possible, choose a .com name
One of the reasons that I wanted the word “frugal” in my domain name is that it gives me a lot of flexibility in what I write about. I can easily fit articles on making extra money, getting out of debt, and building wealth under the “frugal” umbrella. If I wanted to branch out further and start writing about couponing or even something like recipes, it would probably all fit as well.
Step 3: Set Up Your Hosting Account
Once you’ve decided on a domain and determined that it is available, you will need to sign up for a hosting service and register your domain name. My personal opinion is that Bluehost.com is probably the simplest option for setting up hosting services for those just starting out with a WordPress blog. I personally use Bluehost, and I know many other bloggers who use and recommend them as well. If you sign up for a Bluehost hosting account using my link, you’ll get a special offer of shared hosting for $3.95 per month for 36 months, as well as a free domain name for a year!
Here are some other advantages of using Bluehost for web hosting:
- Super easy WordPress installation- Bluehost has a “one-click” WordPress installation
- 24/7 Tech support- Bluehost tech support is available 24 hours a day and they have always been super helpful to me
- Advertisers like self-hosted blogs- having a self-hosted blog (on Bluehost or other hosting service) is more attractive to advertisers, which makes it easier to make money blogging
- 30 day money back guarantee- if you cancel for any reason within the first 30 days, you will receive a full refund on your hosting service. If you cancel after that they will prorate your refund for the remainder of your hosting term.
If you want to start a blog on Bluehost, click here to get the lowest price available on hosting as well as a free domain name, and then follow the rest of the steps outlined here.
Step 4: Choose a Hosting Option
On the Bluehost website you will see the various hosting options. I recommend using the “Basic” package to begin.
Step 5: Register Your Free Domain Name and Connect It to Your Hosting
When you sign up for Bluehost using this link, you will get a free domain name. Once you click on the Basic package in the previous step you will come to a screen where you can enter your chosen domain name. As long as you have already determined that the domain name you want is available, you should be good to go! Just complete the domain registration process.
As part of registering your domain, you will be offered lots of “extras,” most of which you probably won’t need. However, I did spring for the Domain Privacy Protection, which helps protect your personal information as the website owner.
If You Already Have a Domain Name
If you already have a domain name that you purchased elsewhere (like GoDaddy), it’s super easy to connect your domain name to Bluehost. Instead of registering a new domain in the previous step, just choose the second option on the page and enter the domain you want to link to your Bluehost hosting account. Here are the directions on how to change the nameservers on your existing domain when you purchase a Bluehost hosting package.
This can all be done within the Bluehost cPanel once you have purchased your hosting package. If you have any questions or run into problems please do not hesitate to contact me. When I first switched to Bluehost I already had a domain name, so I have gone through all of these steps.
Step 6: Install WordPress
This part might seem complicated, but Bluehost makes it very easy to start a WordPress blog and it is FREE. In your cPanel, scroll to the section called “Website” or “Website Builders” and choose the “Wordpress Install” button.
This will open the installation window. Click on the green “Start” button, and that will start the WordPress installation, which involves a few easy steps.
- Once in the installation process, you will have to decide which domain you want to install
- Now you will see “Advanced Options.” This is where you will choose your username and password for your site. It is recommended to use a username other than “admin” and a very strong password.
- You will want to check “Automatically create a new database for this installation” box, unless you already have a different database set up that you want to use.
- Read the terms and conditions and check the boxes indicating that you’ve done so.
- Then click “Install Now.”
Now you will see the progress page, which will show you how far along the installation is.
Once WordPress is fully installed, you will be given your site URL, the admin login URL, your username, and password. You will get a copy in your email as well.
And voila! You are now the proud owner of a WordPress blog. Congratulations!
Step 7: Designing & Putting Together Your Blog
WordPress provides a ton of options for customizing the look and feel of your website. Many options are offered for free on WordPress; simply click on “Appearance” and then “Themes” in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard to explore what’s available.
Here are a few plugins you may want to install:
- Akismet- a great anti-spam plugin is a must. I’ve had this plugin on my site since day 1 and it’s been incredibly helpful
- WP SuperCache- a fast-caching plugin to help your site load faster
- Yoast SEO- if you are a newbie to SEO like I was (or even if you are not), it’s super helpful to have an SEO plugin to help you get going on your SEO game and optimize your site for search traffic.
I also love the Social Warfare plugin for social sharing; I just think the look is really nice (it’s the big social share buttons that you see at the top and bottom of every blog post on this site) and it is a great way to drive more traffic and increase social shares. However, it is not free to use like some of the other options out there.
Step 8: Grow Your Blog!
If you are serious about blogging as a source of income, I highly recommend signing up for Elite Blog Academy. A few months ago I decided to take this course because I had heard so many awesome things about it. I had been blogging for almost two years at that point, so I wasn’t sure I would learn anything new, but I was willing to take the chance. I seen Ruth Soukup speak at a conference the year before, and I knew that she is one of the best bloggers in the business, so the opportunity to learn from her compelled me to enroll.
I am so glad I did! Within a month of starting Elite Blog Academy and beginning to implement tips and tricks I learned, my blog traffic more than doubled! It went from about 14,000 views a month to over 31,000 views a month within the first 30 days. It has continued to consistently increase every month since then. At this rate I think I’m well on my way to hitting my goal of 100,000 pageviews per month by the end of the year. My blog income has increased significantly as well, which is fantastic. 🙂
One of the big reasons why I have been able to grow my traffic and income so much is because of the Pinterest techniques that I learned in this course, including using Board Booster to schedule my pins on Pinterest. I went from spending almost an hour a day on Pinterest to… well, not as much. I’m still on Pinterest all the time because I love it, but these days I get to spend my time on Pinterest doing things other than pinning all my pins to different boards. It’s fantastic.
When you first start out blogging you may not need or be ready to dive into something like pin scheduling yet. But I definitely advise that you keep Pinterest on your radar as you grow your blog, because it’s a fantastic way to drive traffic to your site.
Also, if you think you might be interested in Elite Blog Academy maybe not right now but at some point in the future, you may want to click this link and just put your name on the waiting list. The course only runs one or two times a year, and enrollment is limited. I had put my name on the enrollment waiting list a few months before I was finally able to enroll.
A Final Note
Good luck! Blogging is a fun way to learn, grow, and “meet” like-minded people. I’ve grown both as a writer and as a person through blogging. I hope you enjoy it too!
Do you have a blog? If you have a blog, what are your favorite blogging resources? What are your best tips on how to start a WordPress blog?
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