It’s a no-brainer why you want to start a blog.
After all, how many other things are there where you can write about what you want when you want, be your own boss and get paid for it?
And not only can you get paid, but there are bloggers out there earning serious money. With people making tens of thousands of dollars every month – if not much, much more in some cases – it’s no wonder so many of us see starting our own website as a great thing to do.
Sure, you’re not going to start earning that kind of money on the day you launch your blog. It’s important to understand that it can take some time to build your site and your audience up to the amounts that you’re probably dreaming of.
But as corny as it sounds, every journey really does begin with a single step. And by following this step-by-step guide on how to start a blog, you’ll be marching down the path to your successful site in no time.
One more thing: You don’t need to know how to code or have any sort of tech background in order to start your blog. I absolutely didn’t.
And even without any of that, the steps below will easily take you less than 20 minutes to do. Which means, as you’re reading this, you’re 20 minutes away from carving out your own little corner of the internet!
1. Choose your website’s host
A host is the company that provides all the storage for your blog’s files, making it like your blog’s hard drive. This includes any posts, pictures, code etc. that you show on your site. This means that without a host, you won’t have any site to show the world.
It also means that having a good host can make or break your site’s success. This is largely because a better host will allow other people to see your site faster. And as you probably know if you’ve ever used the internet, a faster site generally means a better site.
Another critical point is to pick a host with excellent customer support. I cannot tell you the number of questions I had when launching my own site, not to mention all the great times when I somehow broke my site and thought all my work was down the drain. Super fun, as you can probably imagine.
Fortunately, having reliable customer support on hand has been a lifesaver. Being able to talk to someone at any time of the day or night at the other end of a chat box (or a phone, if you like going the traditional way) who knows what they’re doing is so reassuring – and also makes sure that any problems are fixed ASAP so that your site is back up and running before you know it.
Finally, you want your host to be good value for money. As a beginner blogger, you don’t want to spend a fortune on your host – and there’s really no need to.
Best host for beginner bloggers: NameHero
It’s for all these reasons that I recommend you use NameHero.
- Free SSL – This makes sure your site is secure. See in the address bar at the top of this page how there’s a lock next to the site address? That’s how you know this is activated.
- Lightning fast site speeds – They’re one of the fastest hosts out there, especially when compared to some other names you may have heard of. If you want a fast site (and you definitely should), you really can’t go wrong with NameHero.
- 24/7 support – Any time, day or night, you can jump on the chat function or call them to ask any questions you may have about your blog.
- Unlimited free email addresses – You can have as many [email protected] addresses as you want.
- Free nightly backups – Backing up your site is so important as if something happens or you make a mistake (…guilty!), it’s easy to simply wind it back to the last backup from earlier that day than to try to fix what happened.
- One-click WordPress install – As I’ll show you below, this makes the process of launching your site infinitely easier.
(By the way, you may have seen other bloggers recommending you sign up with Bluehost instead, but it’s because Bluehost pays the most for people to promote them. To see what I mean, take a couple of seconds to Google some reviews from actual users of their hosting services. Let’s just say that your site deserves much, much better.)
2. Pick your plan
On NameHero’s main screen when you click this link to get access to our special rate, you’ll be given a few options for different web hosting plans:
As you’re just starting out, it’s perfectly fine to go with the cheapest one as it’s really all you’ll need at this stage.
3. Choose your domain
The next screen you’ll see is the one below, where you can choose to either register a new domain or use one you may have already bought from a different site.
As mentioned, your domain is the part of your site’s address that comes after the “www”. In the case of this site, for example, the domain is “logicaldollar”.
So assuming you haven’t bought a domain already, it’s time to pick your site’s name!
You can make your domain whatever you want, as long as it’s not taken already. That said, I’d recommend you keep a few things in mind when choosing yours:
- Keep it fairly short and simple. You want something that people will remember and not misspell because it’s too long or too complicated.
- Don’t use words that could be mistaken for other words. Your domain name might sound clever in your head, but having to continually explain it to people or clarify that “no, it’s not that, it’s actually this one” will get tiring fast.
- You don’t have to use words that relate to your blog’s topic. In my case, “logicaldollar” clearly suggests there’s something about money involved, but it’s really not needed for your site to be successful. After all, what does “google” have to do with searching or “twitter” with short messages?
- Check that the main social media handles are available for your domain. It’s always good to lock down your new site’s social media handles even if you’re not sure if you’ll be using social media. So check these haven’t been taken at least on the main sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- You don’t have to stick with “.com” but it’s what people know. That is, there are plenty of authoritative sites that end in .org or .co, but it’s also true that most people consider .com sites as being the most reputable. This means that if you can get a domain with that ending, it may be better.
Once you’ve found an available domain name you’re happy with, it’s time to continue!
4. Check out
You’ll then be presented with some final options at the screen below:
It’s up to you how long you want to lock in your NameHero hosting for although, as you can see, the longer you choose, the cheaper it is per month.
Also keep in mind that if you do choose to upgrade later (like when your site inevitably booms in popularity), you won’t lose what you’ve paid already as that will be used to offset your future hosting fees.
Once you’ve picked the length of time, you’ll then have a few other options to select, as you can see in the picture. Just ignore all of them, they’re not needed at this stage and the free SSL option at the end is more than enough.
At this point, it’s time to pull out your bank card. Ugh, I know, but it had to come eventually.
5. Install WordPress
So you’ve paid and you’re into your NameHero client area. Now the fun part starts!
First things first: WordPress is the platform where you actually build your blog.
Importantly, it’s also the best option for anyone who’s serious about making money from their blog. Other platforms have limitations on monetizing sites built with them, such as putting their own ads that make them money instead of you.
NameHero makes it insanely easy to set up your new WordPress site. At your Client Area, find the option that says “Login to cPanel” then scroll down your cPanel page until you see the “Softaculous Apps Installer”. It looks like this:
Click “WordPress” and then click “Install Now” on the screen that appears.
(I’d recommend keeping the cPanel page open in a separate tab as you may need it again shortly.)
The next screen you’ll see should have the following on it (or similar instructions):
- “Please select the version to install” – just continue with the one it shows you, which will be a number indicating the most recent version of WordPress.
- “Choose Protocol” – this will probably have “http://” as the default. We’ll come back to this one.
- “Choose Domain” – this should be your domain name so can be left as it is.
- “In Directory” – this will show “wp” and can be left as is as well.
The only one you need to change is the Protocol to “https://www.” That way, you’ll be making sure that the free SSL we mentioned earlier is actually being applied to your site, to ensure your site is as secure as possible.
Now, you may get the following message once you do this:
(If this didn’t appear for you at this point, you can just skip down to the next section on Site Settings.)
As you can see, this happened to me when setting up a site so you haven’t done anything wrong. But you do just need to go and check one thing.
Essentially, this issue happens when all of the relevant systems haven’t updated yet to recognize that your new site is actually secure. So what you’re doing here is hurrying that process along.
So keep the WordPress page open in one tab and go back to your cPanel page in the other tab (the one we said to keep open above). Either search at the top for “SSL/TLS Status” or scroll down to the “Security” sub-section, which looks like this:
Select “SSL/TLS Status” (the last option in the image above). You’ll then be sent to a page where you should click the “Run AutoSSL” button.
Give it a few minutes to think and, eventually, the little icon under “Certificate Status” just below the button will change to green (although you may have to refresh the page to see it).
You’ll then be able to go back to WordPress and select “https://www” without the notification appearing.
The next section on the WordPress page is “Site Settings”. There, simply enter the name of your site and its description, which is essentially its tagline.
There’s no need to spend too much time here if you haven’t thought about it yet as you can always come back to it later.
Also, leave the final checkbox under “Enable Multisite” blank as it’s not needed.
This is an important security step, as it creates the setting for the main admin account for your site. This is the account that has full control over your site, including being able to delete everything if needed.
This means that you really don’t want someone being able to hack into this, so your first step should be to create an admin username that isn’t obvious. That is, don’t make it “admin” or your domain name as people will be able to guess that.
Similarly, make sure you have a really secure password.
Then put in your email address for this account. You can always change it later, including if you make a site-specific address (which we’ll cover later on).
Choose Language, Select Plugin(s) and Advanced Options
Pick which language you want your WordPress to be in – note that this doesn’t have to be the same language as your site, if you plan to blog in a different language. It’s just which language you’re most comfortable using behind the scenes.
They’ll then give you some plugins to select, but leave these blank as they’re not needed.
You’ll then be shown some “Advanced Options”. You should also leave these alone.
You’ll be shown the following at the section “Select Theme”:
Your site’s theme is what your site will look like when someone visits it and NameHero has a bunch of pre-designed themes you can install if you want. However, I’d recommend skipping this for now – there are some different options you can consider instead in a few minutes.
Instead, go past this to the final button: “Install”. If you want, you can also choose to email your WordPress installation details to someone but if you do this, make sure it’s someone you trust.
The install process may take a half a minute or so to go through. But once it’s done, you’ll see a screen congratulating you for successfully installing the software.
And this means: you’ve done it! Your site’s been launched!
To prove it, click the first link at the congratulations message, which should be your domain. You’ll be taken to a very empty looking site – but it’s your site!
6. Add a theme
Before you start publishing blog posts, it’s a good idea to install a theme so you can start working on the overall look of your site.
There are literally thousands of different themes you can choose from, but not all themes are created equal. While many of these themes look incredible, you always have to keep in mind your site speed.
That is, you don’t want a theme with files that are so big that it slows down your site, as that can negatively impact a whole range of things down the line.
It’s for this reason that I highly recommend you use the theme Astra.
(In fact, this is the theme we use on this site!)
It’s literally the most popular theme of all time with over 1.2 million sites using it. This is mainly because of just how fast it makes your site and how easy it is to use.
Not to mention that it’s FREE. Yes, really.
You can find out more about Astra here – but keep reading to find out how to install it.
In your WordPress dashboard (which is located at yourdomainname.com/wp-admin), click on “Appearance” in the menu on the left and then click “Themes”. You’ll see three or so standard themes with names that are the years they were released.
Instead of clicking one of those, select the “Add New” button at the top of the page. You’ll then see a new search box where you should type “Astra”.
Once the Astra theme appears in the search results, select “Install” then, once that’s done, select “Activate”. You’ll be automatically brought back to the “Themes” page from before where you’ll see the Astra theme there too now as the active theme on your site.
To test it out, visit your site – that is, go to www.yourdomainname.com. It should now look different from when you clicked it in the previous step, which confirms that you’ve successfully changed the theme.
It probably won’t look that impressive at this point but that’s ok, there’s plenty of time for fixing all that. In particular, if you go back to the Astra site, the drop down menu has an option for “Starter Templates”.
Here, there are dozens of free pre-made site templates that you can look at to pick one that you can then customize to suit your own site.
Once you’ve found one you like, you’ll need to install the Starter Templates plugin through your WordPress dashboard in order to upload the template to your site and start making your own personal changes.
7. Start blogging
Congratulations, your brand new site is live!
Remember how we said at the start of this article that your blogging journey begins with a single step (while acknowledging that this is probably one of the corniest sayings of all time)? Well, you’re well and truly on your way now!
(And it’s worth mentioning again: if you got stuck at any point, don’t hesitate to contact the NameHero chat support team. They’re incredibly helpful and quick at responding.)
You can now start writing your first post if you want or upload some images…or do literally anything now that you’ve carved out your own little corner of internet real estate!
The very best thing you could do now though to make sure your site is successful ASAP is to start learning.
You know how we said at the start that there are bloggers earning six-figures from their sites? Those are the people you want to be learning from.
After all, they’ve made all the mistakes already while also seeing what’s worked with their own sites. So learning from them means you avoid spending time doing the exact same missteps.
I took it early on in my own blogging journey and I love the no BS way it’s run. If you too like being told how it is without any of the usual fluff – by someone who’s had the exact same blogging success you should be aiming for – this is for you.
And in the meanwhile: happy blogging!
About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been seen in Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a thriving investment portfolio. Find out more.