This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog or had an idea of doing any kind of freelance writing, you’re in the right place. Starting a blog is the perfect jumping off point if you’d like to ease into writing but have some doubts whether you’re qualified or knowledgeable enough.
What is required? Enthusiasm to write and share information about something you’re passionate about. That’s about it.
I’ll show you here, how to get your own blog up and running in about 20 minutes.
And from there – the sky’s the limit. You’ll learn at your own pace, and the more you learn the more enthusiastic you’ll be about your site.
And if you decide to monetize your site by promoting products, you have an opportunity to make more through blogging than you would if you were working for any boss.
Why is Blogging Such a Great Opportunity?
Blogging is the only hobby I can think of that’s capable of replacing your income – several times over. And you can start blogging with virtually no knowledge of how to do it. I sure didn’t know anything about blogging when I started.
I’d read about bloggers who spend a couple years building a relationship with readers, then gradually placing ads on their site and eventually replacing their income with their blog.
But I didn’t know the nuts and bolts of it. Like how you buy a domain name, how to host your blog, or whether you need to know coding of any kind.
I happened to read an article one night that really opened my eyes to the fact that I could do all this – buy my own domain, set up a host for it, and get the software to write my blog, all in about 20 minutes. And I learned it would cost me about $59 per year.
I also learned that WordPress, the most popular app in the world for writing blogs, is a simple menu-based app that you can literally jump right into without taking any kind of course. And it’s FREE.
You know how I started? I watched 3 or 4 YouTube videos about WordPress. That’s it. And then I jumped right into using it. Let me tell you, once you do, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your blog will take shape.
What’s Unique About Blogging?
Just like self-publishing has revolutionized the book industry, blogging has also enabled us to publish our own content and have it read by potentially millions of people.
Blogging is much more than social networking. Unlike Twitter, Instagram even Facebook where people communicate in little snippets, a blog enables you to expand on whatever area you feel passionate about.
You can write a blog post of 300 words or 3000 words – it’s up to you. You can post every day or once a week. And once you develop a community of readers you’ll be commenting back and forth with each other. They’ll look forward to your posts.
You can write how-to articles, you can review products or places you’ve been, You can write top 10 lists of whatever item you want. You get the idea. There’s no limit to the content you can provide.
Blogging can lead to a lot of other opportunities. It’s amazing how many people will read what you write, which could lead to you being asked to guest post on other people’s blogs. This is one of the best ways to increase the readership of your own blog.
Blogging is a creative outlet. You’ll find that ideas come to you during the day and you’ll want to jot them down so you can post about them later. You’ll be designing the look of your blog – the heading, the title, the fonts, the colors – and of course your content.
Once you put some interesting content on your blog and you start to monetize it, it’s very likely that you’ll start making more money that you’ll ever be able to earn in a traditional job. Imagine being your own boss.
You don’t need to be a computer expert to start. If you follow the short tutorial below, you can have your own site up and running in around 20 minutes.
I knew nothing about blogging when I started, so I did a little research and chose to go with the most popular and easy to use host, Bluehost. I’ll show you exactly how to get set up.
These Are the Steps You’ll Take
I’ll describe these in detail below, but these are the basic steps to get started.
- You’ll pick a domain name. That’s the name people will use to access your blog. For example myblog.com.
- You’ll pick a host. That’s where the blog is physically stored. Here we’re using Bluehost.
- Install WordPress. This is the app you’ll use to write your blog. Don’t worry, it’s easy to install, it’s FREE and you can start using it right away.
- Start blogging.
It’s really just those few steps. I’ll explain why I recommend using Bluehost over any other hosting option. There are other hosts available, and you can even have a free blog using Blogger by Google.
Here’s why I don’t recommend using a free platform like Blogger.
- You may not pay for Blogger but it lacks a lot of features that Bluehost has. If you’re even thinking about monetizing your blog, you really can’t do that with a host like Blogger.
- If you spend months writing posts, you’ll start building up a nice community of readers. To take your blog to the next level you’ll have to migrate to a professional platform such as Bluehost. Why put yourself through that – and have to learn a whole new platform – when you can start it the right way from the beginning?
- With Bluehost you’ll pay about $59 a year, but they feature a simple, easy to use site, very helpful support staff, and you’ll rest assured that your blog gets backed up each night and has all the necessary security.
- And really, $59 for an entire year? Think about the money you spend on other hobbies. You can’t beat that deal, especially for something that could potentially bring in more income than any job you’ve ever had.
OK, Are you ready to get started?
Step 1. Pick a Domain name
When anyone sets up a website, you have to select a unique name. One that’s not already in use on the internet. You can determine if the name you want is available by going to Bluehost and typing in your desired name. It will tell you whether that name is available or if it’s already in use.
I’ll admit, this took me awhile. I tried a lot of names and most of the ones I tried were already in use. If you’re using a common name like ‘money’ or ‘life’ you’ll probably try a lot of combinations before you hit on one that’s not being used.
Try something simple and to the point that people will remember.
Consider using keywords that relate to your blog. This makes a difference when people search Google on your subject. Keywords help you rank higher.
Step 2. Pick a Host
Ok now that you have your site name, we’ll get it setup on Bluehost.
Are you wondering why you have to pay for a host? Well, you can’t run a blog from your laptop. People are connecting to it and reading it all the time (hopefully). And you can’t do that from your home laptop.
Here are the main reasons to host on Bluehost:
- Having your blog hosted (stored) on a server managed by a professional hosting company guarantees that your hundreds of blog posts are backed up every day. They also provide security from viruses and spam.
- If you’re thinking about making money from your blog at any point, then paying for a host like Bluehost is necessary. Bluehost supports a variety ways to monetize your blog – like Google Adsense and affiliate links. You wouldn’t be able to do this on a free platform like Blogger.
- They only charge $3.95 per month which includes a free domain. Usually, you’d pay to buy a domain name.
- Consider the money we all blow on other hobbies and the fact that this could actually replace your income.
- From my experience, I’ve found the support at Bluehost really supportive. Whether you chat or call, they’re ready to help 24/7.
Here are the pricing options Bluehost offers. They have 3 levels, but to start you’d be fine with the basic plan.
A few points about your pricing:
- In order to receive the cheapest price, they’ll charge you for at least 12 months at once. There’s an advantage to paying up front. If you had a hard time coming up with a domain name, you don’t want to lose it.
- You can spend months building up a presence with your blog. If your domain ownership expires and you don’t renew it immediately, anyone else can buy it. This is common and if it happens, you’ll either lose the name or you’ll have to pay someone else whatever their asking price is. If you’ve built up a significant readership, someone could charge you thousands of dollars to buy back the domain name.
- So, the best practice is to lock it in for at least a year or two while you establish yourself.
- One extra that you might want to consider adding while you’re checking out, is ‘domain privacy’. Without domain privacy, it’s possible for people to look up who owns your domain name. It may result in some unwanted phone calls from web development companies trying to sell you their services. You can add domain privacy for $11.88 per year.
- Your total price per year, for the basic package and domain privacy will total about $59 per year. That’s not a big investment because it can pay for itself many times over.
- The basic plan includes 5 email addresses that are all associated with your domain. Why is that important? You’ll eventually start getting emails about the blog especially if you decide to monetize it. Affiliate companies prefer you to have an address with the same domain name as your blog. For instance John@myblog.com.
Ok, so if you’re all set, here’s all you have to do:
- Go to Bluehost and click the green Get Started box
- Select the package you want.
- If you already have a domain name, enter it at the prompt, or select one here.
- You’ll be prompted with your personal and payment information.
- Next, you’ll be prompted to setup a new password.
Congratulations! You now own your own domain name and have a host to put your new site on!
You’re on your way!
Step 3. Install WordPress
After you signup at Bluehost, you’ll receive a welcome email. The email will contain a link to click to access ‘cPanel’. That’s where you’ll install WordPress.
WordPress is known as a ‘content manager’. It’s like the control panel where you’ll manage all the content of your blog. Everything from new posts, to pages, headings, fonts.
It’s menu driven, meaning that you don’t need to learn any complex language to use it.
It’s an easy install, and it’s FREE with your domain.
So click the link, log into CPanel, and you should see the screen below:
See where I highlighted “Install WordPress”? Just click there.
You’ll be prompted for the name of the domain you want to install WordPress on.
Select your new domain. You may have to click a drop-down arrow and select it there.
The installation wizard will walk you through installing WordPress. This is a quick, easy install. In fact, if you’d like to watch a short tutorial, here’s Bluehost’s own Dave, who can walk you through it.
A word of caution:
You’ll be asked to choose a username and password. This will be the username and password you’ll use to log in as the administrator of your blog. Choose a password that’s unique and hard to guess. Use a combination of letters, numbers or special characters.
Once you complete the install, you’ll receive a confirmation email that includes your login credentials as well as the URL to select when you want to edit your blog.
This is a unique URL specific to your blog. It’s how you’ll log in to edit your blog. So, you’ll want to save that and your credentials. Don’t worry, once you log in a few times you’ll breeze right through it.
Let’s Log In To Your New Site – Here is The WordPress ‘Dashboard’.
The dashboard is the menu in WordPress where you’ll perform the various functions to personalize your blog. Things like setting up a heading, picking colors, adjusting the font, writing posts and lots of other options.
One of the first things you’ll do is to select a “Theme”.
A theme is how your blog is laid out. The look of it. Depending on what kind of blog you want to write, you can select a magazine style or one that features text more.
Just click on ‘Appearance’ and you’ll find Themes within that category.
At the top of the themes screen, you’ll see ‘Premium Themes’ and ‘Wordpress.org’ themes. The premium themes are not free, there’s a charge for them.
For now, you can select ‘Wordpress.org’ themes. These are FREE to install and are what most people starting out choose. You can set up a nice functional blog using a free theme.
As you move your mouse over each theme, you’ll see the choices ‘Install’ and ‘Preview’ appear. Browse through the themes and preview some to compare them. When you settle on one, just click ‘Install’.
- One of the most popular free themes is ‘Genesis’. It’s featured in a lot of how-to videos and it seems to have a lot of popular features included.
- If you see a particular website that you like and are wondering what theme they’re using, there’s a site called What WordPress Theme is That that may tell you the theme they’re using. On the site, just type in the name of the site you want to check, and it will try to detect their theme and reveal it to you. It doesn’t work on all sites because some are professionally customized, but it’s interesting to try.
Posts and Pages
Most of the text you read on a blog is either a post or a page. There’s a simple difference.
A post is an update that you’d write periodically. It could be every day, once a week or whenever you want. A blog post can be as long or short as you want. You may want to add a few pictures to it so it’s not just a long list of text. People can also comment at the end of the post, and you can configure it so you’ll get an email notification whenever there’s a comment.
A page is something more permanent than a post. You’ll setup pages once and usually won’t need to change them unless you want to.
An example of a page would be an “About” page, where you may just have a paragraph or two about you and what your blog is about. You can include a photo or two here also. If you want to connect with your readers, they’ll want an idea of who is behind your blog.
You’ll also want to set up a “contact” page. This is just a simple form that a reader can fill out and send to you with a question or a comment that only you will see.
You’ll find an option for Plugins on your WordPress menu. Plugins are extra functionality that are not built into the “off the shelf” version of WordPress.
Without adding any plugins your blog will still function. You’ll still be able to write posts and share them with your readers.
But as you learn a bit more about how you want your blog to look, you can add various plugins. There are plugins for things like adding a custom contact page, adding certain fonts, adding social media links and hundreds of other things.
Plugins are easy to add. In almost all WordPress themes, you’d just scroll down to Plugins, then click Add New, then you’ll see all the available plugins.
They each have a description of what functionality they’ll give you. If you see one you want, just click Add, then Activate.
Once you start comparing your blog to others and seeing interesting features they have, you can probably find a plugin that adds that functionality.
I’ll wrap up by saying that blogging can open up a lot of opportunities for you. If you’re working in a 9-5 job and would rather get up each day and do what you want, then blogging is something you should consider. It’s a great way to learn, share information and unlike a traditional job, the sky is the limit on your income.
But don’t get overwhelmed and think you need to become an expert in the next two weeks. Just take one thing at a time. For instance, learn how to write a post and how to format it with spaces, bullets or bold text to break it up. And maybe on another night learn how to add pictures, or create a contact page. Each time you learn something new, your site will begin to take shape.
It may seem like it’s happening too slow, but if you learn one or two new things each night, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable you are with posting new content and updating your site within a few weeks.
And when you’re using Bluehost and WordPress, the most popular host and content manager, you’ll be able to compare notes with a lot of different Facebook blogging groups.
You can also email me at Bill@commoncentshub.com with any comments or questions.