Been thinking of starting a blog?
Since you’re reading this, you must be. No worries, we will be holding each other’s hand through this guide. 🙂
In this 6-step Tutorial on How to Start A Blog in Less Than 1 Hour, you’ll be ready to conquer your way through the blogosphere in no time!
Let’s start to blog!
(This post may contain affiliate links)
Put your blog ideas in action
If you have been thinking of starting a blog, you may already have some blog topics that you would like to share with your future readers.
Or you are casually thinking about blogging and you don’t have any ideas yet. In any case, here are some pointers to get you started with your blog ideas:
- Make a list of blogs or websites that talks about the topics you like
- Use Google Instant to have a list of topics that other searchers are looking for
- Use Answer The Public, a free website tool that will show you the common questions about your topic
- Use Epicbeat, this is my favorite. It will show you relevant published articles about your topic and you can see which format works best, so you can also plan what type of blog posts you will create. My favorite feature is you can see who are the influencers and bloggers you can connect with. Fast way of gaining online friends and resources, if you ask me.
Name your blog
Now that you already have blog and blog post ideas, it’s now time to think of a name for your blog.
Your blog name will be used as your domain name. Domain name is your online address where your readers can access your blog (e.g. thegeekmommy.com is the domain name of this blog).
How to choose a domain name? Glad you asked –
- Short and easy to remember
- Easy to spell (you don’t want your readers going to another blog because of misspellings)
- What do you want to be known for? (this will be your branding)
Make a list of possible domain names and ready them aloud. Pick the top 3 best sounding domain names from your list. You can check the domain availability here.
Hosting your blog
A lot of new bloggers are confused with web hosting and why this is needed. Yes, there are a lot of free blogging platforms out there and they provide a good platform. WordPress.com is one of the best free blogging platforms around and it is the most popular.
But do you really want to have your blog on a free blogging platform? Let me tell you some important reasons why (even as a beginner) you should use free blogging platform and go for self-hosted blogs.
- You don’t ‘own’ your space and your blog can be terminated at any time without notice
- Imagine having created a great blog and you have loyal followers, and suddenly you can’t log in – yup, it can happen. Here’s WordPress.com’s TOS – “Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of our Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”
- Your blog design and theme is limited only to what is available in their repository. You can’t use custom theme and you can’t upload plug-ins to extend your blog capabilities. You’d like to have your blog ready to scale up and not hold you down.
- You have to pay extra for custom email. Free email address are good and I still use them. But if you want to make a brand for yourself, it is more professional looking if you have a custom email with your domain name.
- They can display their (not yours) ads. ” Automattic reserves the right to display advertisements on your blog unless you have purchased an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Service account.” If this was self-hosted all advertisement income will be yours.
- Your blog domain name is going to be longer than you wanted. (remember the pointers above?)
Are you convinced that using a self-hosted blog is the way to go?
There are a lot of web hosting providers to chose from. In this blog, we used Hostwinds as our web hosting provider.
We used Hostwinds, for a number of reasons:
- Their customer support is top-notch and friendly. For whatever reasons, you can get in touch with them 24/7.
- While others give 30-day money back guarantee, Hostwinds offers 60-days.
- Unlimited Bandwidth. You can have as many web visitors as you want.
- Unlimited Disk Space. You can blog to your heart’s content.
- Free Dedicated IP Address. This is needed if you want to make your website secure against hackers.
Here are the steps to set-up your self-hosted blog:
- Go to Hostwinds.com (this link will go directly to their shared hosting page).
- For beginners, I suggest you chose the Basic Plan. Click the green, Get Hosted button.
- Enter the domain name you picked above, and click submit.
- Continue with Step 2 (Click the green continue button)
- Fill out your login details and billing information
- After payment, you will receive an email containing details of your account. Keep this email, this will have your passwords.
Your blog platform: Self-hosted WordPress
Once you receive your email from Hostwinds, use the link to login to your cPanel using the username and password provided.
On the bottom portion of your cPanel dashboard, click WordPress.
Click Install Now.
Begin your WordPress setup. Choose your domain (if you only have 1 domain, it’ll be chosen automatically). For the Site Name ans Site Description, refer to the blog topics you made from previous step. You can change this later.
You will be asked to enter the username and password for the admin account for your blog. This is different from the access credentials Hostwinds emailed you earlier. Please keep a copy of your WordPress blog username and password. The admin email is where all information about your blog will be sent to.
You can leave the default for the Advanced Options and leave the Limit Login Attempts unchecked. You don’t have to select anything from the themes provided and just click Install.
After you click Install, it will work its way to install WordPress in your Hostwinds hosting.
Now you can log into your WordPress blog
Log in with your username or email and password
Setting up your WordPress blog
When you login to your new WordPress dashboard, you will see something similar to this –
You can remove the sample Post, Page, and comment.
Post: Click Post > All Posts > Click Trash on the Sample Post
Post: Click Page> All Page> Click Trash on the Sample Page
Comment: Click Comments> All Comments> Click Trash on the Comment
Pages – these are often used present timeless information about yourself or your site — information that is always relevant. You can use Pages to organize and manage the structure of your website content. Examples are About Us, Contact Us pages.
Posts – these are entries that display in reverse order on your blog. Posts usually have comments fields beneath them and are included in your site’s RSS feed. (RSS will be explained as a separate topic).
Media – consists of the images, video, recordings, and files that you upload and use in your blog. When you create a post and attach an image to it, it is stored in this section.
Appearance – here is where you will edit the theme of your blog, customize for granular changes like colors, fonts, widgets (contents on your sidebar), menu (your navigation menu), header, background, and editor. I don’t recommend you ever touching the editor unless you know what you’re doing.
Plugins – this will extend the functionality of your blog. You can add contact form plugins, caching plugins (to make your site load faster), sliding banner plugin (to create banner or image carousel), and many more.
Settings – here is where you can customize your site title, tagline, etc.
Site title – Enter the name of your blog here.
Tagline – explains what your site is about.
WordPress Address (URL) – you can leave this at default.
Site Address (URL) – Enter the address you want people to type in their browser to reach your WordPress blog.
E-mail Address – Enter the e-mail address to which you want WordPress to send messages regarding the administration and maintenance of your WordPress site (comment approvals, etc.)
Membership : Anyone can register – leave uncheck, disallowing anyone to be able to register an account on your site.
Writing – you can leave at default for now.
Reading – Front Page Display: allows you to choose what content appears on your site’s front page.
Reading – Blog pages show at most: lets you choose how many blog posts are displayed per page. The default setting is 10 posts per page.
Reading – Syndication feeds show the most recent __ items: lets you set how many blog posts will be sent out at once via your RSS feed
Discussion – you can leave at default for now.
Permalinks – the permanent URLs to your individual pages and blog posts, as well as your category and tag archives. A permalink is the web address used to link to your content. Recommended setting is – Custom: /%postname%/ so you blog post doesn’t have dates on the URL.
Setting up your First Post
To add your first post, click Post > Add New.
(the image shown might not be the same to your current installation of WordPress)
Enter the post title, post content, and after you’re done click Publish.
If you want to add images and video, you can click Add Media either upload from your computer or insert from URL and then insert into your post.
To add a link, highlight the words you’d like to attach a link to and click the Link Icon.
You can also format your post – heading, fonts, alignment, indention, lists, etc.
You can also schedule your posts to be published at a later date or backdate the post.
Congratulations! You have just published your new post.