How to start a blog

Man typing on laptop on desk

HIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO


Update:  I’ve negotiated a special lower price on blog hosting for my readers! You can use my exclusive link here to start your blog for as low as $3.95/month. For this price, you’ll also get a free domain name! 


Some people have been curious on how to start a blog and all the “extras” that go with it.  Email lists, social media accounts, and even the nitty gritty like how to get free high-quality pictures on their site.

Look no further!

In this post, you’ll get a detailed walk-through on how to start a blog.  No gimmicks.  No “fluff.”  And certainly no pressure.  I’ll take you step-by-step on how to get started. 

Here’s what you’ll learn...

  • What to think through when choosing a website name
  • How to register and host your site
  • How to build a proper layout
  • Why you need to create an email list right away (and what I use for it!)
  • How you can get up to 4,000 page views per month in under 3 months… I did!
  • Where to get free high-quality photos for your blog
  • How to use a free version of Photoshop to edit your files professionally

There’s lots of great, free content here. You’ll find screenshots, videos, and even a links for some of the best deals for blog tools you can find on the web!

Want to get started?  Click here to start a blog on WordPress, then use the tutorial below for the easy directions. 

Why you should start a blog (and why I did)

Woman on laptop drinking tea

Blogging has been an exciting journey for me.  Not only has it given me the opportunity to teach others about money lessons that I’ve learned, but it’s also shown me a lot of relevant things I can apply in other areas of my life:  digital design, online marketing, mobile content, better writing, etc.

Whether you’re blogging to make money, or just using it as a creative outlet, the process is quite exciting!  In a world where everyone is solely consuming content, you’re creating something.  It’s a neat feeling! 

Most importantly, let’s not forget about impact.  If done correctly, and you bring valuable content to your readers, you can actually help people! 

Have I sold you why you should create one?  If so, let’s dive in!

How blogs work & the tools I use

I’m not going to lie, before I started blogging I was completely lost in all the terminology.  I wasn’t (and still am far) a tech expert, but the good news is that with the right tools, you don’t have to be!

Here are a couple of key terms you’ll need to know if you’re starting a blog… 

  • Domain = the website address you want to create (I got mine for free with my Hosting provider)
  • Hosting = the provider that stores all your code on a server for you (I use and highly recommend Bluehost)
  • WordPress = an easy to use platform to build your website on (I would only recommend using this… it’s flexible and can easily grow over time)
  • Theme = a pre-formatted layout for a site that you can customize easily (I use ThemeX)
  • Email Provider = this helps you send emails to your loyal followers; it’s the most important thing you should focus on! (don’t miss this part later in the post… see why I use Convertkit, and so should you)

I’ll break each one down for you below!  Also if you want access to even more detail, sign-up for my free email course on how to build a successful blog over 7 days!

Get your FREE 7-day "How to start a blog" email course!

Subscribe here, and I’ll take you through a free email course on what I did to get almost 4,000 page views per month in just 3 months! You'll learn how to create a blog name, how to host a WordPress site and how to engage with an audience. Join now for free!

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Step 1: Come up with a domain name

Pick carefully. You’re building your very own brand!

Here’s a couple things you need to think through…

  • What do you want to stand for?
  • What type of image do you want to represent?
  • Are you going to be niche, or broad?
  • Is it unique and memorable?

I chose Simple Wealth Playbook because it closely aligned with my vision… to make money simple.  In essence a series of lessons for everyday people to learn how to build wealth. 

Once you’ve got your idea, you need to see if it’s available and register it.

Step 2: Register your site

The reality is, to build an excellent blog you’re going to have to spend a bit of money.  But don’t spend your money on this part.  Rather than paying for yours, I recommend you get it for FREE when you sign up with a hosting provider.

So, what provider should you choose?

There’s a ton of options out there.  But after lots of consideration, I went with Bluehost

Why?  Here’s my rationale and why I stand by them…

  • The #1 blogging platform (WordPress) recommends Bluehost! Why would I go against their own reco?
  • I found their pricing to be a steal, and they also gave me options to scale up to bigger plans if needed (pricing is 12-36 months… the longer the term, the more value you get!)
  • Not only did a get quality hosting, but I also got a FREE domain
  • Bluehost will automatically install the WordPress platform for free on your site
  • I get 24/7 online support for that price as well (I have yet to be disappointed with the service)
  • They give you several free email addresses for your website (i.e. bob@yoursitename.com)
  • Did I mention the really good price??

Some people may argue why you should pay for a site if you can host one on sites like blogger.com for free?  The answer’s simple. 

You get full control of your site. 

If you host your blog on any other platform then the one you setup, someone else gets all the benefit. 

They can make money from your traffic.  They can shut you down at any time.  For the small price it takes to host your site, I wouldn’t go any other way!

Below I’m going to give you detailed instructions on how to get started with WordPress & Bluehost.  If you’d like to jump to the other material, please feel free swipe further down the page:

Part A – Select your Bluehost plan (for those starting out, Basic should do… for the best value, choose it for up to 36 months!)

Benefits of all Bluehost plan types

Part B – Choose your domain (you can add your domain from another site, but the best way is to leverage Bluehost’s FREE domain registration)

Select your domain options with Bluehost

Part C – Register your details and package info

After you sign up with your domain and put your billing information in, you need to choose your term.  The best value you can get is for 36 months, and I recommend it! 

It’ll also ask if you’d like any extra services.  In my opinion, you don’t really need anything extra. The only one that stands out the most is “domain privacy.”  This will mask the fact that you own the website.  If anyone searches for you, Bluehost will be listed as the registered owner.  Not a bad thing if you’d like a little extra privacy. 

From there all that’s left is your payment information (remember that you will pay the entire hosting amount up-front), and create your website’s password.

Part D – Install WordPress

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for!  Time to get WordPress on your site!

Thankfully this part isn’t hard with Bluehost.  They will ask you to pick a basic Theme (a site design template) first.  Don’t be too stressed about this.  Just pick a placeholder for now, and you can adjust it at anytime. 

Lastly, it will ask you if it’s for Business or Personal – the choice is up to you!

THAT’S IT!  CONGRATS!  YOU NOW HAVE YOUR VERY OWN SITE!

Congratulations image from WordPress

Before we move on, I just want to flag two important things that stumped me early on:

  • It’s important to note your site will be offline and not active until you hit “launch” (phew!)
  • Now anytime you want to log into WordPress to make edits to your site, you can login by typing in “enteryoursitename.com/wp-admin” (put your site name where the placeholder is)

If you sign up for Bluehost, but you are confused for any reason (such as how to set it up, picking a plan, pricing, etc.), don’t hesitate to drop me a line and I can help you out. I’m here to help, so feel free to email me at shaun@simplewealthplaybook.com

Part E – Basics on navigating WordPress (and more WordPress resources)

I won’t spend a ton of time here as there are many resources online to learn WordPress.  But here’s a couple of areas that I found helpful:

Template dashboard for WordPress
  • You can change the look and feel of your site using a new Theme (in the next section I’ll show you what to consider)
  • There’s tabs on the left side for different options…don’t worry, you’ll add lots of tabs as you install new plug-ins. Most notably though is an area to add images and posts.
  • Plug-ins are at the heart of WordPress. As you install plug-ins, you unlock new functionality.  Some are paid and some are free.  I recommend the use of both.  You don’t have to pay for everything, but at times paid tools save you a lot of time! 
  • If you are looking for a way to send newsletters or emails to your readers, I recommend Convertkit. Building an email list is the most important thing to a blogger (I’ll tell you more below)

And that’s it for all the WordPress basics!  Keep reading below on how to make the most of your site design and more tips on how to start a blog!

Step 3: Building a layout (in blogging you use a “theme”)

Now that you have a site name and someone who hosts it, it’s time to set up the design!  The best way to start doing this is by choosing a theme for your blog.

Man viewing images on computer

For those that are just starting out, it’s OK to choose a free theme.  Play around with it and see how all of the features work. 

If you’re serious though, and your blog is going to be more than a general hobby, I suggest you step it up a bit.  You can get a paid theme for as little as $40-$50, and it looks professional and can save you hours of time!  Take it from me.  I wish I bought my theme sooner.  I probably could have saved close to 20 hours if I used one of these!  No joke.

Some popular options are Genesis or Theme X (the one I use). 

Step 4: Build an email list ASAP!

After people launch their blog, they right away jump to social media.  They try to get as many followers as possible on Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  I highly recommend 1 thing over this… start building an email list.  Ask any blogger, and they’ll tell you they wish they started doing this sooner.

Why?

Email is the only connection to your audience that you have complete control over.

Man selecting email button

The reality is you are not in the driver’s seat on any of the social media platforms.  Only a percentage of followers will see your Tweets or Pins.  On the other hand, you can almost guarantee your email subscribers will get your messages.

Also, those on an email list tend to be the most engaged.  They’re part of your “tribe.”  They’ve taken the time to give you personal information (their email address) to stay in contact with you.  That’s a lot more intimate than any Twitter or Pinterest account!

So how do you capture and send emails?

Again, you can use a free or paid option.  Because this is the #1 asset for any blog, I strongly encourage you to use a paid tool.  I always recommend Convertkit because it’s an email solution specifically built for bloggers. 

When you use Convertkit, you’re able to set up automated email sequences, send news blasts, and tag each one of your subscribers… that way you know exactly what each of your readers is interested in!  And it’s the simplest to use!  I’ve researched just about all of them.

I could go on and on about Convertkit – if you’re interested in learning more, feel free to message me (shaun@simplewealthplaybook.com).

Some final words before you blog…

Thought cloud image on a blackboard

First off, congrats!  Deciding to start your own blog is a big step.  You’re putting yourself out there, and being public about your thoughts.  That’s huge, and you should be excited!

As you start on your blogging journey, I want to give you one piece of advice that has really helped me along the way:  Be focused on one thing at a time.

It’s easy to get excited about all the possibilities, but the truth is that without focus it’s easy to get lost and do nothing very well.

Pick one thing, and master it.  If it’s email, start your email list, and test out ways to get better engagement.  If it’s social media, pick one platform and learn how to make the most of it.  Don’t feel like you have to do everything right away.  Remember – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

To this day I continue to do lots of work on the site.  And I have tons of plans to make it bigger and better.  That’s what makes it exciting!  Don’t let your list of ideas intimidate you and cause stress.  Remember, one step at a time.

Before I go, here’s the list of tools you might find helpful to get you started.  You don’t have to spend money everywhere on your blog, but it is good to use a balance of both free and paid tools.  Remember, your time is worth money! 

If you have any questions along the way, drop me a line!  I’m always here to help!

Best of luck!

Get your FREE 7-day "How to start a blog" email course!

Subscribe here, and I’ll take you through a free email course on what I did to get almost 4,000 page views per month in just 3 months! You'll learn how to create a blog name, how to host a WordPress site and how to engage with an audience. Join now for free!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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