You want to do something great. You have a story to share. You want to create your legacy. You’ve seen so many people do this by creating a blog. Why can’t that person be you? The best way to find out is by trying!
The hardest part of starting a blog is actually starting. My approach is designed to get you blogging fast. First, we’ll set your blog up in only about 5 minutes (which is what this page is about). Then, you can tweak, experiment, and play from there. It’s blogging the playful way! So, if you’re more ready to go than a puppy with a new toy, check out the next section. I do encourage you to read the other sections too. And if you want to invest time in planning, you can sign up for my free 7-day email course by filling out the sign-up form above.
Note: This post does contain affiliate links, so if you use them, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I’m recommending products that I personally use and love. This page contains my opinions and recommendations based on my own experiences and research. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
How This Post Will Make You Successful
The goal of this post is to make you a blogger. What do you need first? A blog. With these 3 simple steps and only about 5 minutes of your time, you’ll be an official blogger. This is the both the easiest and hardest thing you will do.
Complete the steps on this page and be more successful than 75%* of blog dreamers
*Okay, I made this number up. But, as with many things in life, people say they want to do something but never take that action. I’ve met many people over the years who said they wanted to start a blog and never did. No one ever heard their story or ideas. You can decide to take that action right now. You may not be exactly “75%” ahead, but I’m guessing you’d probably pass most just by getting started.
Why Did I Write This?
This is the kind of post I would have loved when I first started.
You could spend hours researching the right software, hosting company, and all that good stuff. Or, you can get you up and running faster by leveraging my tips and recommended resources compiled here based on my experience starting and managing 2 blogs and multiple web sites. I do recommend you research on your own, but hopefully this helps your process.
I’ve been blogging for over 10 years and after trying out more tools, platforms, software, and what not than I can remember, I’ve landed on some faves. Many people keep this information secret. But, I believe there’s room for all of us to be successful. And there are so many wonderful contributions you can make to the world by starting a blog, I’d like to help you get started on your own success path.
Become a Blogger in 10 Minutes
I didn’t always agree with the whole “start a blog in only 5 minutes!” approach. I once spent a whole week researching fonts for my blog logo. Just fonts! But, I realized something while planning this for you. I started my first blog very quickly. It probably only took me 5 minutes. And while it can take hours, days, or even longer to truly plan for a new blog, there is something more important.
Done > Perfect
Who knows if I even would have started my first blog if I had really tried to do everything just right. Instead, I started quickly and experimented from there. Sure, it would have been better to have a stronger plan. At least I had a blog and wasn’t a dreamer just talking about starting it one day.
My original approach for this page was to get everything planned just right from the beginning. But, I realized this could be overwhelming and may stop some of you from taking that first step. Instead, we’ll get your blog up, and continue to play with it from there. This approach is faster and more fun.
It’s more important for you to start than to perfect your plan. If you do want more tips on planning, you can sign up for my free 7 day mini email course. If you have the time, I highly recommend devoting some time to planning. But if the thought of that would prevent you from ever starting, then by all means, just get started!
There are a 2 key things you should know before jumping in. If you need any help with these, stay tuned for some upcoming blog posts with tips and ideas.
- Your Blog Topic: You don’t have to have your blog topic documented with color-coded sticky notes for each topic you plan to cover, but you should have an idea of your overarching content. What do you want to write about?
- Your Blog Name: Your name will be a major part of your brand. Choose something unique that you love. A name you’re proud of. I personally like names that align with a site’s content. Simply Recipes is clearly a blog about recipes. You can tell that just by reading the name. On the other hand, content-related names aren’t everything.
What do you think The Oatmeal is about? Oatmeal recipes? No. It’s about hilarious cartoons. Think about big brands too. If you were caveman frozen in a block of ice and awakened in present day, and your new friends said, “Hey, let’s go to Starbucks”, would you have any idea what they were talking about? Probably not. Yet almost every person knows what to expect at Starbucks. It wouldn’t be long before he started to dream of lattes and frappuccinos at the sound of “Starbucks”.
Follow these 3 steps, and you’ll be an official blogger:
- Get domain and hosting (I usually buy these together at BlueHost or SiteGround)
- Install WordPress (button via your hosting dashboard)
- Write your first post (via your WordPress admin dashboard)
See the next section for tips and screenshots.
How to Start a Blog
Step #1 Get domain and hosting
I use BlueHost, SiteGround, and Synthesis. For new bloggers, I recommend BlueHost and SiteGround. BlueHost gets a bad rap, and while I did have some annoying outages over the years, my experience with them has been overall positive. BlueHost is known for its affordable pricing. However, for a little more money, you can get hosting with SiteGround.
Info: Pricing and Cost
You’ll get your first domain registration with BlueHost for free. This will save you about $12-15 per year. It’s a perk of using either of this options. For a little more (and the exact cost depends on your domain extension: .com, co., etc.), you can get your domain with SiteGround. Again, it’s a little more money, but I think it’s worth it.
Hosting pricing is about as straightforward as cell phone packages. There are endless combinations that will yield different pricing options. To simplify, I usually do one of two things:
- If I’m unsure about how long I will run the blog, I get as little as possible, which is usually 1 year. I understand my rate will go up if I keep blogging after the first year.
- If I believe pretty strongly that I want to work on this blog for more than one year, I go ahead and lock in the best rate for 3 years. I run the risk of not needing the service for that long by hoping I save money in the long run.
Other factors include the hosting company’s pricing incentives (how much will I save if I buy more now?) and whether I have the money at the time.
Payment is typically done in year increments (not month-to-month).
Action: Register domain and get hosting package
In my experience, SiteGround has less downtime (almost none so far) and I prefer their customer service experience more. For these reasons, I’m going to show you SiteGround in this how-to. While no company is perfect, I do believe either company would be a solid choice for new blog hosting based on my own experiences.
1) If you like what SiteGround has to offer, go to their site. Here’s a direct link. Click on the “Sign Up” button. You can view the options here, but since you’re just starting a new blog, I recommend the “StartUp” plan ($3.95 per month).
2) Click the Order Now button under “StartUp”. Note: You may notice SiteGround has “WordPress Services” listed separately from hosting. I confirmed with SiteGround support that both hosting packages are the same before publishing this.
3) “Register a new domain” will already be selected, which is perfect. Enter your desired domain name (see info about domains above if need help choosing this) and click the “Proceed” button.
4) Enter your “Client Information”, “Password Information”, and “Payment Information”.
5) In the “Purchase Information” section you can specify if you want to purchase more than 12 months of hosting (see hosting info above if you need help with this). Personally, I did also purchase “Domain Privacy” (so people can’t see my address, etc. online), as well as the “HackAlert Monitoring”. Make your preferred selections. Read and acknowledge the Terms of Service. Click the “Pay Now” button.
Step #2 Install WordPress
Info: Why WordPress?
I started my first blog on Blogger (aka Blogspot), but it wasn’t flexible as I wanted. Eventually, I migrated to TypePad, which was a big mistake. More on that another time. I skipped WordPress.com and manually installed the .org version of WordPress on my new domain and hosting account. Based on my interactions with the WordPress community, including the Automatticians (the team supporting WordPress), the automated installs are pretty solid from what I hear. I’ll be trying it out when I install my next blog.
Action: Install WordPress
1) Log in to your SiteGround account.
2) Go to “My Accounts” tab.
3) Click “Go to CPanel” button (near the top left). Note: You may need to hit “Proceed” if you get a pop-up.
4) In the “WordPress” tools section, click on the “WordPress Installer” button.
5) It’s a little hard to see, but click on the “Install Now” text link.
6) Fill out the install screen. I recommend taking a screenshot or writing down the details on this screen somewhere you can store the info securely, especially your admin login details. Here are some tips:
- Choose Protocol: There’s a big debate about whether www or non-www is better. The way I see it, Google uses www. When you visit google, the www displays. I didn’t learn about this before starting my main blog, but I would personally go with www. Major tech companies use the www, so they must know what they’re doing. I recommend http, not https.
- Choose Domain: Select your domain.
- In Directory: Leave blank if you want your blog to be your main page. Some bloggers use the main domain for a special page and put the blog under something like mydomain.com/blog. I typically see this strategy when WordPress is used to set up a business site that also has a blog.
- Site Name: Enter your site name.
- Site Description: Enter a short 3-5 word description or catchy tagline.
- Enable Multisite: Leave unchecked. This is a complex WordPress install that allows you to have multiple WordPress sites under one install. Click here to read more at WordPress.org.
- Admin Username: Since you’re running your blog, this means you. Enter your desired username. Choose something secure. Whatever you do, do not pick “admin”. This is the default username and hackers know it. It will make your site more vulnerable. This is fairly easy to change later, however you have to take a special step or you could delete all of the content written with this username.
- Admin Password: Enter your desired password. You can change this later, but definitely pick something secure. SiteGround will help tell you how strong they think your password is.
- Admin Email: Enter your email. WordPress and some plugins will use this to send you information, so pick something you can actually access.
- Select Language: Choose your preferred language.
- Limit Login Attempts: I haven’t personally used this plugin. But, I’ve heard good things about it and am considering adding it. It helps prevent some common hack attempts. You can add this later if you’re unsure now. Click here to read more about it on its plugin page.
- Theme: Select Theme. There’s only one option currently: “Layers”. You see my favorite theme on my Resources page. I’ll also be covering themes in my e-course if you want to sign up.
- Advanced Options: expand this. Personally, I’d leave the defaults here, but I’d write the info down. You may need this for future troubleshooting. Keep this very secure.
7) Click the “Install” button.
Note: You should get an email confirming the WordPress install was successfully completed.
Step #3 Write Your First Post
Info: What should you write for your first post?
There are many different approaches you could take for your first blog post. Of course, your writing time will impact your 5 minute setup. But, you can’t be a blogger without a post, right? Here are 5 ideas for your first post:
- Quick Intro: share a photo of yourself and say a quick hello.
- Longer Intro: write an introduction. Tell your readers why you want to blog, what you hope to do with your blog, and share your story.
- Throw-away: write a throw away post. Think of it like the first draft of your school paper. You just need to get your thoughts going. Your post will be public, so write something you’d be okay with everyone seeing. But, don’t worry about it being perfect. You can delete (or even edit) it later. Reserve this for if you’re having trouble writing that first post. This is like the tip for when you have writer’s block where you just need to write something down to get started.
- Quote: share your favorite quote. This is an easy first post and can help share your personality.
- Topic Post: write something in line with your overarching theme/topic.
Action: Write your first post
1) Login to your WordPress dashboard by going to www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php.
2) Hover over “Posts” in the left navigation column and click on “Add New”.
3) Add your Title and Content. Use the “Add Media” button if you’d like to share any photos.
4) I’ll teach you more about how to set up your Categories and use Tags, so you can add this later. For now, you can click the “Publish” button.
5) The page will refresh and say your post was successfully published. You can click the text link to view your post.
You did it! You have your very own blog, and it’s live and ready to tackle the world! You’ve taken a step that many dream of but never follow-through in completing. Go ahead and treat yourself to something nice. You deserve it.
What’s Next for You, Blogger?
The fun has just begun. There are many directions you can take things from here. You can get a beautiful theme, make your blog more user-friendly, and start planning to take over the wor…I mean…start planning to take your blog to the next level.
If you’re ready for more, sign up for my weekly email newsletter.
I’ve also published a free mini email course sharing how I’d start a blog based on my learnings from blogging since 2006. I’m breaking down key planning activities to get your blog started on the right foot. One of the days is focused on set-up, but if you completed this page, you’ll be ahead of the game!
Ready? Let’s go!