Would you like to start a blog and make money online? Then keep reading, this post is all about helping beginners launch their blogs in a few easy steps!
One of the biggest hurdles for me, when I started my blog, was deciding what platform to use. I knew I had to purchase a domain name and web hosting, but how to bring them together and make them work simultaneously was a mystery to me. Being new to blogging, I knew I wanted something easy yet something that looked professional. However, the simple solutions in 2009 that were already assembled looked clunky and amateurish.
I decided to hire a web designer to help me set it up.
I had never worked with a web designer before and knew nothing about how the process was supposed to work. I ended up paying for all of the services upfront, and sadly for me, it was a costly mistake ($600, which did not include my hosting fees or domain costs).
After months of waiting for her to complete the work, she stopped communicating with me. I was left with an incomplete blog, and I had to hire a web programmer to fix and complete what she had left undone (another $150).
From start to finish, it took four months to set up my blog. A process that was only supposed to take 6-8 weeks. Starting a blog doesn’t have to be slow, expensive, or a hassle.
If you’re ready to start your own blog and make money from home, here is your step-by-step guide to begin.
How to Start a WordPress Blog in 15 Easy Steps
The initial steps of signing up for Bluehost and installing WordPress should only take 10-20 minutes. However, the design process will take longer. You’ll need to choose fonts and color schemes and set up categories, menus, your logo, and plugins. Be patient and have fun, and remember progress over perfection. You can always switch up your design elements later on in the process.
Step 1: Choose Your Blog Niche
Before choosing a domain name and theme, you need to figure out what topics your blog will cover. What are you going to write about regularly? You may already have an idea in mind, but if not, I suggest doing some intense brainstorming. Write a list of your passions, hobbies, and dreams, and a second list with your skills, experiences, and areas of expertise. Then start thinking about possible blog post ideas for each topic. If you’re coming up short on article ideas, it’s probably not the best topic for a niche. You should choose a topic that you can talk about non-stop.
You’ll want to take a good amount of time with this step, as your niche is the basis for everything else you’ll do with your blog.
Here are some popular and profitable blog niches to consider:
- Arts and Crafts
- Home Decor
If you need more help picking a niche, check out this post for some helpful tips.
Step 2: Set Up Your Hosting Account
When I set up my hosting account, there were so many steps involved. I had to decide between a Linux or Windows account, then there was the separate c-panel and FTP; I was totally lost. Save yourself a headache and use Bluehost. They have made the process so simple; anyone can do it; no tech experience is needed. Besides being simple, Bluehost offers 24-7 support via phone, email, and chat — which you’ll want should you ever encounter a problem. They’re also affordable ($2.95 to $5.45 a month, plus a free domain), which is a huge plus if you’re launching your blog on a shoestring budget.
For step one, all you have to do is go to Bluehost.com and click on the blue “Get Started” button.
Step 3: Select a Hosting Plan
With Bluehost, there are three hosting options to choose from:
- Basic for $2.95 per month
- Plus $5.45 per month
- Choice Plus $5.45 per month
- Pro $13.95 per month
These prices are only available through my link; normally it’s $9.99, $14.99, $18.99, and $28.99 a month. If you have the funds, I’d suggest going with the Choice Plus Plan because you get more robust features, and it keeps your contact information private. With Bluehost, you also get a free domain name.
Step 4: Choose Your Domain Name
When you choose a domain name, you’ll want to follow three simple rules:
- Keep it simple. Refrain from using words that are hard to spell or remember.
- Use a dot.com when possible; it’s what most people remember when typing in a web address.
- Stay away from words with multiple spellings, for example: to, two, or too.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, type it into the search box and click next to see if it is available. You may need to brainstorm a few ideas to get the keywords and the dot.com that you want, but don’t worry; you’ll find one that works.
Step 5: Pay for Your Hosting Package
After you have your account created, you’ll be directed to a page where you need to select your hosting package. You can choose to pay for your hosting in a 12-month period, 24-month period, or 36-month period — the longer the plan, the cheaper your price. Next, add your payment info and wait for an email confirmation of registration – this only takes a minute or two.
Step 6: Create Your Bluehost Account
Next, you’ll need to create your Bluehost credentials by choosing a password for your account. Once you do this step, you’ll log in to your account to answer some basic questions.
Step 7: Answer Some Questions
The awesome thing about Bluehost is they make installing WordPress a snap! No tech background is needed. All you have to do is go through the guided prompts and answer the questions — it really is that easy! The following images are the steps you’ll go through.
Step 8: Pick a Blogging Theme
Now the fun part, picking a theme for your blog! Your theme is like a book cover; it’s your blog’s design element, including fonts, colors, layouts, navigation, and overall appearance.
There are both free and premium WordPress themes that you can use to customize your site. There is nothing wrong with using a free theme; in fact, many bloggers use a free theme along with the Elementor plugin for added functionality and design options.
However, if you’re willing to spend $35-$199, you can get a stylish, professional-looking theme that will make you stand out from the crowd. You can either purchase a theme from the marketplace, or you can purchase a theme through StudioPress (they are the industry standard). But if you’re working on a budget, there’s nothing wrong with using a free theme; Astra and Elementor are two free design templates that are commonly used. Just click on the theme you want to use and click install.
Step 9: Install WordPress
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you’ll be ready to install WordPress. Again, Bluehost makes the process so easy by guiding you through the steps!
Step 10: Create a Logo
If you have room in your blogging budget, you may want to purchase a custom logo for your blog. Having a custom logo helps distinguish you from other bloggers, which helps with your overall branding.
But if you’re running short on cash, there are some affordable and free options available.
For $5, you can search for a designer in the freelance marketplace, Fiverr. Some designers charge more, but there are plenty of talented designers who are looking to build their portfolios and will create a one-of-a-kind logo for you for as little as $5. If you don’t have it in your budget right now, you can use a free template from Canva. Just keep in mind that if you use a free template from Canva, you won’t be able to trademark your logo.
Step 11: Create Parent and Child Categories
In step one, you figured out your blogging niche; now it’s time to break that down into four main, or parent categories. For instance, if you’re starting a recipe blog, your four parent categories might be:
Now, under each parent category, you’ll want to list your child categories. In this case, the parent category, breakfast, may have:
Having properly structured parent and child categories makes it easier for your readers (and Google) to understand and navigate your blog’s content. It will also make it easier for you to come up with new blog post ideas.
Step 12: Add WordPress Plugins for More Functionality
During the design process, you may find that you need to add some WordPress Plugins for additional functionality. Such as, if you want to add a sign-up form for your email marketing provider. You’ll just browse the available plugins in your WordPress dashboard (there are thousands) and download the ones that you need. There are plugins like Yoast that helps with SEO, Social Rocket for adding share buttons to your blog posts, and Antispam Bee for blocking spam comments.
While plugins can add more functionality to your blog, too many plugins can slow down your site’s loading time. Be sure to only download reputable plugins that are compatible with your version of WordPress.
Step 13: Write Your First Blog Post
Now the part that you’ve been waiting for, writing your first blog post! Since you’ve already chosen your niche and mapped out your parent and child categories, this should be easy in terms of what to write about.
Here are some simple tips to write high-quality content:
- Create a catchy title that will reel readers in.
- Break up your content by using sub-headers (H2 and H3).
- Add images to your post to help break up content and enhance the overall idea of the post.
- Proofread your post for correct spelling and grammar (I like to use Grammarly).
- Is your post helpful? Does it cover the topic in-depth?
If you need more help writing your first blog post, check out this helpful tutorial.
Step 14: Marketing Your Blog
Before you can start making money from your blog, you need to market it — get visitors to read your articles.
Here are some of the most popular methods for getting traffic and marketing your new blog.
Word of Mouth
After I launched my blog, the first thing I did was sent out an email to all of my family and friends, letting them know about my new endeavor. Not only did I ask them to check it out, but I also asked them to spread the word if they knew of anyone who could benefit from it. This act alone helped to build traffic and momentum to my newly launched site.
To help spread the word about new posts on your blog, you’ll want to create social media profiles on various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Each platform has its own pros and cons, and which ones you choose to use will depend on your niche, where your audience hangs outs, and what platforms you prefer. I suggest starting with two and investing time in nurturing and growing them before adding more to the mix.
From the day you launch your blog, you need to start collecting email addresses from your readers so that you can remain in contact with them. To do this, you’ll need to sign up with an email marketing provider. Don’t worry; you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started; in fact, you can get a free account with Constant Contact, Sendinblue, or ConvertKit (this is what I use).
Once you’re signed up — you’ll install forms and sign-up boxes on your blog so you can collect the reader’s email addresses and then send them regular correspondence.
This post explains email marketing in more detail so you can get the hang of it quickly.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, you want search engines, like Google, to index and rank your content high in their algorithm so that when people do an internet search — your content is easily found (preferably on page one).
When you do your keyword research and write your content, you’ll want to consider your niche, the reader’s intent, FAQ questions, and phrases that individuals are searching for and intertwine these into your blog posts. This is an oversimplified definition, but it gives you the gist of what SEO can do for your blog.
This article talks more about SEO so you can start learning the ropes.
Step 15: Make Money Blogging
Whether you want to make blogging a side hustle or earn a full-time income, there are many ways to monetize your blog! From paid sponsorships and working with ad networks to affiliate programs and selling digital products. Just click on the topics below to explore the various monetization methods.
- Sell Advertising Space
- Affiliate Marketing
- Ad Networks (Google AdSense, Ezoic, and AdThrive)
- Sell Printables, Online Courses, and e-Books
- Paid Sponsorships
- Offer Consulting Services
- Start a YouTube Channel
If you’re wondering how much successful bloggers earn, you can check out this post where a bunch of bloggers share how much they make!
I’m obviously a huge fan of starting a blog, but there are many reasons why you should consider blogging too. You get to work in a niche that you love, it’s easy and affordable to get started, and it offers freedom, flexibility, and financial stability.
You also don’t need any experience or a college degree to get started; it’s perfect for beginners! You’ll need to put in some sweat equity and it may take a few months before you begin making money, but it might be the best decision you ever make!
Be sure to grab my FREE blogging e-book, where you’ll learn tips for creating awesome content, getting traffic, and monetizing your blog.
Do you want to start a blog? What’s holding you back? What questions do you have about the setup process? Drop me a note below, and I’ll respond to your question personally.
Originally published in July 2015. Content updated October 2022.