How to start a blog: Our easy to follow guide will show you how to start a blog using WordPress and start making money from it in just a few short hours. My Dream Lives will show you how with our FREE, easy to follow step by step tutorials to learn how to start a blog.
I created My Dream Lives to give beginners a fast, foolproof guide to starting a blog, without having to learn HTML or waste your time reading long, boring tutorials. I also wanted to help you avoid all the expensive mistakes that most people do. Ready to launch your blog today? Let’s get started…
1. Getting Started – Choose Your Blogging Platform
The first thing to do, when you decide to start your own blog is to select a blogging platform. It’s not easy to pick a blogging platform as there are so many of them out there – the likes of WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger being the most popular. We recommend WordPress over other platforms for your first blog because of how popular it is – there are 72 million users of WordPress out there. In fact, we have built our own websites and blogs from WordPress. Here’s why we like WordPress so much…
1) WordPress is free for everyone to use.
2) WordPress is easy to set up.
3) WordPress is secure. The company makes it a point to always keep their software updated and secure. In fact, security is a big priority with WordPress and they ensure that your blog isn’t affected by hacking attacks. For this reason, even large corporations such as Sony and organizations such as Canada.com use WordPress for their websites and blogs.
4) WordPress offers hundreds of free themes and plugins that make your blog more functional – whether it relates to the contact forms subscribe boxes, or awesome plugins that are guaranteed to improve the performance of your blog.
5) WordPress gives you freedom, more than anything else. There are a lot of blogging platforms out there that offer many advantages, but there are few that offer the same sort of freedom as WordPress does. You get a lot of customization options with WordPress – which you won’t get anywhere else.
Before we tell you more about starting your own blog, here’s one thing you should know…..never opt for free blogging platforms. Let’s discuss why that is so, next.
Why You Shouldn’t Create a Blog on a Free Blogging Platform
When you use a free blogging platform you will be required to use a domain name given by the platform, such as MyFreeBlog.blogspot.com, rather than MyBlog.com. It’s hard to think of a successful blogger who would use such a domain name instead of one that belongs to them completely. Free blogging platforms are highly problematic for many reasons. Let’s look at some of them.
1. You don’t own or control your own content. The blogging platform has 100% control over your content and can shut your blog anytime, for any reason. Don’t believe me? Read this
2. It would be very difficult for your followers to remember of the address of your blog when you sign up with a free blogging platform. For example, how many would remember a web address such as MyFreeBlog.blogspot.com
3. You cannot advertise on free blogging platforms, which is a huge negative, as it means you cannot make money from the blog. So why bother to set up the blog in the first place?
Sure, if you don’t care about monetizing your blog and it is nothing more than a personal diary to you; and if it doesn’t matter how many people actually read your blog, then it’s perfectly okay to sign up with a free blogging platform.
However, if you are serious about blogging and want to build a massive audience for yourself and make money from it, you really need to have your own blog, with your own hosting and an independent domain name. This is the only way you can exercise full control over your content.
So, start off with a self-hosted blog on your own domain, and don’t wait too long to do it…this should in fact be the first thing you do. It’s much easier to set up a blog things way and hardly takes 20 minutes of your time. You don’t have to rob a bank to set up a self-hosted blog either.
Finding a Domain Name and Web Hosting Provider
If you have taken the decision to set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain name, then congratulations – that is the right move. Let’s look at how to get a domain name and web hosting. First, let us understand what a domain name is and what is web hosting.
Domain Name – A domain name is your personal blog address, by which people look for you on the internet. The world’s most popular domain name is probably Google’s domain name. You know what it is – example.com. Your domain name will be something like this – MyBlog.com. You choose what goes into MyBlog. A domain name would cost you not more than $10/year.
Web Hosting – Web Hosting is where your blog address and the content on the blog are located. It’s like a giant computer hard drive that stores all your content and can be accessed using the internet. Web hosting costs not more than $2 to $5 per month. Without web hosting, you cannot use your domain name.
Web hosting and domain name are the most important investment you can make for your blog. So where should you buy a domain name and web hosting?
Before we tell you where to buy your domain name and web hosting, it is important to understand that when it comes to web hosting, there are just two things that matter more than anything else…
Uptime – Which determines the amount of time your blog will be up or fully functional. You should aim for a web hosting that offers at least 99.9% UpTime – which means your blog will be up 99.9% of the time, at least. Ideally, you should target 100%, but not all web hosting providers offer that.
Page Load Speed – Which is the average amount of time it takes your website or blog to load. It is usually in seconds.
There are a plenty of web hosting providers out there, and most offer the same package – domain + hosting – within the same price range. We like web hosting services such as HostGator, SiteGround. But the one we like best is BlueHost. In fact, WordPress has officially recommended BlueHost as a hosting provider.
The reason for this is, none of the other web hosting providers come close to BlueHost as far as the page load speed and uptime are concerned. Load time is a major contributing factor to page abandonment. According to Kissmetrics.
BlueHost offers superior performance, it’s easy to use and is ideal for first-time bloggers and professionals alike. No matter which web hosting you choose, make sure it is fast, reliable and gives you unlimited bandwidth and storage. This will ensure that you will not face problems in the future either.
2. Set Up a Blog on Your Own Domain Name
We have introduced you to the basics of setting up a blog, and told you about the importance of web hosting and having your own domain name. By the end of this step, you will have a self-hosted WordPress blog with your own domain name. Let’s see how that is done. Here, we shall be using BlueHost as the web hosting provider, so the example given below will cover how to start your blog using this service.
Go to BlueHost.Com and click on the “Get Started Now” option.
Do you already have a domain name? In that case, write your domain name in the box and then go to the next step.
How to Choose a Good Domain Name?
It’s really easy to choose a good domain name. Follow the steps given here on how to do it.
1. Pick a domain name that you won’t forget – Don’t pick a domain name that makes no sense whatsoever, is long, has too many dashes or is hard to spell or remember. The domain name should be something that people should identify you with, quite easily. So, instead of a domain name such as top-science-fiction-books-in-the-world.com, pick something like ehow.com. This is easy to remember and rolls off the tongue.
2. Pick a domain name that is Unique and Descriptive – The domain name should have something unique about it. It should describe the website, what it is and the purpose it solves. It should reflect the identity of the person behind the website. It should be both creative, descriptive and unique.
3. Pick a domain name that is Trustworthy – The most popular domain extension is “.com”. There are not many who will pick something like “.biz” or “.rocks”. Try to get “.com”, failing which you can go for “.org” or “.net”.
Once you have finalized on the domain name you want, type it in the box and click “Next”. If the domain name is available, you can claim it. If not, look for another domain name.
If the domain name is not available, you will be shown alternatives that are similar to the one that you have typed. You can choose any one of them or type a new name. As far as possible pick a domain name that ends in .com, .net or .org.
Select Your Web Hosting Plan
To start with, choose the “Basic” plan as it is the cheapest available on BlueHost. You can choose a plan with more advanced features later, but this will do for now. Control Panel (Try Demo)
Complete Your Registration
After choosing the Basic plan, select a username and complete the registration process by providing your contact details and billing information.
Tips you can use…
1. If you would like to stay anonymous, opt for Domain Privacy Protection (DPP) as it hides your registration details in the “whois” database.
2. Check boxes such as Site Backup Pro. Any site owner is playing needless, negligent games with his or her site’s future if the … That’s why it’s so important to backup and be prepared.
3. Uncheck boxes such as Constant Contact, SiteLock Security as you won’t need them right now. You can use these options later.
Login to Your New BlueHost Account. Install the WordPress Blog
It usually takes five minutes or more for BlueHost to register your account. You will be sent a confirmation email as soon as your account is set up.
So, now log into the control panel using the information sent to your inbox. Now, the next step is to install WordPress. This step takes just one click. Here’s how to do it…
How to install WordPress, using the MOJO Marketplace
2. Click “Install WordPress”
On doing so, you will be sent to a site used by BlueHost to install WordPress called Mojomarketplace.Com. Here, you will see a screen where you will be offered two options – “install” or “import” WordPress. Your move should be to click “Install WordPress”.
3. Then Click “Install”
4. Choose the domain name to install it to.
5. Final Step. You can check the box next to Show Advanced Options to expand it.
On completing this step, you will come across a loading bar on top of your page, which tells you if your WordPress blog has been installed or not. Here, you can see your log-in credentials.
Just Log In. Your Brand New WordPress Blog Is Ready
Once the WordPress installation is completed, you will be sent an email with your login information, such as an “Admin URL”. To log in to the blog, click the Admin URL. It is usually www.MyBlog.com/wp-admin, where “MyBlog” is your domain name.
Congratulations – you now know how to make a blog using WordPress. You’ve installed WordPress and set up your blog, all on your own! As you can see, it was really easy and straightforward.
3. How Configure, Design and Tweak Your Blog
In this part, you will learn about the basics of designing your WordPress blog.
You will learn the following…
- You will become familiar with the WordPress dashboard
- You will change your blog’s design
- You will learn how to install new plugins/features
- You will learn how to make your blog SEO friendly
So, now that you have set up your blog, it’s time to use the various features of WordPress and customize your blog. It’s really quite easy, let’s see how to do it.
First, log into the blog by going to the WordPress Admin, using the link www.MyBlog.com/wp-admin/, where “MyBlog” is your domain name.
Understanding the WordPress Dashboard
After logging into WordPress for the first time, you will see a dashboard that looks like this…
Here are some of the things you should know as a blogger…
- “Dashboard”– The dashboard is a page that gives you a look at your most recent activities on the blog, such as your posts, comments and the number of pages you have.
- “Posts”– Post is an option you should select if you would like to add content to the blog.
- “Media”– Media is a library that contains pictures, videos, and audio files that have been uploaded by you to the site. All of these can be managed using this option.
- “Pages”– Pages is the option that you need to use to add a new permanent page on the blog, which is not a blog post. This can be an About Us page or a contact me page.
- “Comments”– Comments is the place where you can manage your comments. You can see the comments that await your approval, review the ones that have been approved by you and check those comments that have been labeled as spam by WordPress. You can then delete the comments that you don’t want.
- “Appearance” – Appearance is the place where you can edit the design of the blog and install brand new themes and layouts.
- “Plugins”– Plugins is where you can install new plug-ins, such as an SEO tool or photo gallery.
- “Settings”– Settings is where you can change the blog’s title and tagline. You can also edit your email address and manage all of the blog’s important settings.
Changing Your Blog’s Design (Themes & Layouts)
All WordPress blogs use design templates that are called as Themes. Themes decide how your site looks like. You can easily change the blog’s layout and design simply by adding a new theme. There are thousands of professionally designed, customizable themes available in the market – both free and paid. So you will never run short of options.
Finding the Right Theme and Installing It
Go to the “Appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar, here, click on “Themes”.
Moving on to the next screen, you will find several themes installed already. You can add more themes if you like by clicking the “Add New” button at the top.
Here, you will see some of the most popular, featured, and brand new themes. There is an option called “Feature Filter” and a search bar that you can use as well.
The “Feature Filter” option can be very useful because it allows you to choose themes in certain color schemes. You can select specific layouts and pick themes that come with advanced built-in features. Pick the options that suit you best and click the “Apply Filters” button. The whole process is really very easy.
So, now that you have found the right theme, click on “Install”. Next, once the theme has been installed, click “Activate” on the next screen.
Installing a New Plugin (How to add cool features to your blog)
Plugins are small software modules that add several features and tools to the blog. They perform many tasks for you, including, creating newsletter sign-up forms, adding contact forms, making the blog search engine friendly, cutting down on comment spam, adding photo galleries and much, much more.
It’s really easy to install plugins. Move your mouse over the ‘Plugins” button in the sidebar and click “Add New”.
Use the right keyword to find plugins of your choice…
After finding a plugin, click “Install Now”. Next “Activate Plugin” on the next page.
While installing a plugin, you should be sure to do your research on it online. Just Google it and read the user reviews. Not all plugins can be trusted, some can play havoc with your theme and cause problems related to the security of your blog. Some don’t perform as they should.
Just ensure that your plugins and themes are always of the latest versions. WordPress lets you know when a plugin is out of date and needs to be updated.
How to Make Your Blog SEO Friendly
It’s easy to make your blog SEO friendly, just be sure to follow the following tips.
Search engines don’t like URLs that are ugly and clumsy, such as, http://myblog.com/2015/09/topic-a/auhtor-Charles/how-to-start-a-wordpress-blog. A much better URL which is great for your SEO would be http://myblog.com/how-to-start-a-wordpress-blog
The point is, your URL should be short, clean and sweet and should have only the most relevant information.
To make your URLs cleaner, click on the “Settings”, go to “Permalinks” and select the following settings:
Search engines hate spam comments. There are many who leave automate spam comments on your blog in order to leave a link to their blog and to advertise their products or services in your comments section. You certainly don’t want to allow them to do that – it can really hurt your SEO. So, you should make sure that you always moderate the comments before they are posted. Go to “Settings” -> “Discussion” and select the two options shown below.
How to Manage Your User Information
If you want to change your user details such as password, or if you would like to add a new user to the blog, so that someone else can access it, here’s how to manage the user details.
Go to the “Users” tab on the left-hand menu and click on Add New User
You’ll be taken to this page:
Enter all the details related to the user you want to add, such as a password that you’d like to share with them. This can be sent to them by email. To do that, click the radio box option. Be very careful about the Role you choose for the new user…
Here are some of the roles…
- “Administrators” The users can access all administration options – they can make any changes or add new users.
- “Editors” The users can publish and manage their posts – They can also manage the posts of other users.
- “Authors” The users can publish and manage their own posts, but do nothing else.
- “Contributors” The users can write, edit and manage their own posts, but are not allowed to publish them.
- “Subscribers” The users are able to manage their own profile – and are not allowed to update or change the content.
Be very careful when giving access to users.
4. How to Add/Write Blog Posts and Pages
So you have by now a perfectly functional WordPress blog with your own domain name. You have added a customer WordPress theme as well, one that is relevant to the blog’s topic. Awesome job so far! Now, let’s see how to write your first blog post.
In this lesson, you will find
- How to write a post on the WordPress blog
- How to add links, images and format text
- How to write great content
Using WordPress for Blogging
How to add a New Blog Post
Adding a new blog post is simple. Click on the “Posts” section found at the left hand side-menu and click “Add New”.
On the next screen, you’ll find this:
Now, you can add a title to your blog post in the top field. The content should be added to the big text box just below the title.
After writing the content, you have the option of saving the draft or publishing it live. You can schedule the posts the be published later, or you can make it private so that it can only be read by some people known to you.
After publishing the content, your post will be found in the “All Posts” section in “Posts” tab…which you can edit anytime. There is a lot you can do to spice up the content.
If you want to add images to your blog post, go to “Add Media”. Before you do that, place the cursor on the blog post at the spot where you want to post the images.
Click “Upload Files” and then click “Select Files”.
So, once you find the file that you are looking for, just double-click on it. It will be uploaded automatically by WordPress. After the upload is done, select the image and click the “Insert into Post” button. This adds the image to the blog post that you are currently writing.
Adding a Link
You should make it a habit of linking to other websites as it is great for your SEO. It builds relationships with other websites, probably get them to link back to you and you get to share other informative content with your readers. To add the link, just click on the icon in the toolbar shown below. (It looks like a chain link.)
Enter the information that is asked, such as…
- URL – It is the web address of the link that you want to share. Add “http://” before the “www.” Else the link won’t work.
- “Link Text” It is the text that you want people to see when they mouse over the link. It can be something like “Click this link”.
- “Open link in a new window/tab” – This option ensures that the person clicking on the link does not have to leave your blog. They will be taken to the new site in a different window or tab. Your blog remains as it is.
- In order to link to an existing page, use the “Search” section. Here, you will find a post or page that you’ve already created. Click it to add the link.
Lastly, click “Add Link”. This option ensures that your link will be added where you left the cursor in the post that you were writing.
Adding Headers & Editing Text
Using headers and editing options such as bold the text improves the readability of the content.
You can add a heading by clicking on the drop-down menu at the bottom left of the toolbar.
Using editing fonts, you can bold, italicize, underline and change the font color of the text.
- “B” stands for bold
- “I” stands for italics
- “U” stands for underlining the text
- “A” opens a drop down menu the font color can be chosen
If you do a lot of work on MS Word, all of these should be really easy for you.
5: Make Your Blog Successful
You have done a lot so far. You have set up your blog and you know the basics of blogging by now. But the journey has just begun. The next step is to make your blog successful. Most people struggle to make this leap, but we will help you through the whole process, so that pretty soon, you will be able to earn a decent passive income from your blog.
Things to Do After Launching Your Blog
After launching your blog, be sure to create an About and Contact page. About page is the most visited page on your blog and Contact page is how people get in touch with you.