Start a blog in under an hour – a beginners step by step guide
Want to start blogging? Perfect.
I started blogging myself back in 2008 after creating my brother’s first business website on WordPress. After lots of iterations, my blog has turned from a hobby to be a business in its own right, generating online income every month which still blows my mind to this day! Plus it sends new leads for my web design business – shameless plug.
Even if you don’t make money from your blog, I think everyone should blog and write. It’s a great way to improve your writing skills, connect with like-minded people, and have a creative outlet online.
With this guide, you’ll be able to start a blog on WordPress in under an hour. That’s the same way I would create a blog.
First, I will cover some blogging terms that will be used in this guide.
Blogging terms you need to know
- Domain name – This is your website address, such as ‘www.example.com’. For example, my domain name is ‘www.douglashunt.co.uk’. If you want a domain name you will just need to register it, usually on an annual basis. The average cost for a ‘.co.uk’ or a ‘.com’ domain name is in the region of about £10 per year. However, with most hosting, you’ll get your first year free on your domain name.
- Hosting – This is where your website is stored. The code for your website will be kept in a server in a secure facility. The easiest way to get online is to use a web hosting company, and I use Tsohost for this site which costs from as a little as £2.92 + VAT per month.
- SSL Certificate – An SSL certificate is something that’s a little more advanced but I thought I would mention it here now especially as Google has started notifying users of insecure websites. An SSL encrypts your website’s traffic, so basically, any data sent between you and the host is secure. With Tsohost they offer a free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate and I will show you, as part of this blog, how easy it is to set it up on your own.
- CMS (Content Management System) – This is what your website runs on and in this example, we will be using WordPress, which is the most popular CMS online with millions of websites using it. I use it on this website, on all my personal projects, and client websites.
- WordPress – This is now the world’s most popular system to run websites on. It has lots of free designs and plugins with a huge active support community. So, no matter the issue, there will be advice online to help (usually free!)
- Themes – This is what your website will look like. A theme is just the design of a WordPress website. You can make it as unique as you like. There are thousands of free and paid themes available.
- Plugins – These are extra things you can add to your website. Such as plugins to improve SEO, speed, security, and much more. There are also thousands of free and paid plugins available.
Ok, that covers the blogging terms that I will use in this article. Let’s get on with starting your own WordPress blog.
Step one – choose a domain name and sign up to hosting
There’s no need to purchase a separate domain name at this point as most web hosting comes with the first year free on a domain name.
I use Tsohost for my hosting. It’s an excellent company in the UK which prides itself on great customer service – which I have used more times than I can count and knowing that they are there is a great comfort. Plus they are cheap and reliable.
Most new bloggers need a basic plan and Tsohost starts from as a little as £2.92 + VAT per month.
When you’re ready, head over to Tsohost and sign up for there ‘Startup’ WordPress hosting. It’s cheaper the more you pay upfront, so a 24-month plan is just £2.92 + VAT per month while paying monthly is £3.82 + VAT.
If you decide to go for Tsohost, I have a Tsohost promotional code you can use which gets you 10% off your hosting too. The discount is one-off so the longer you pay for upfront, the better the discount is in the long run.
When I first started blogging, I knew I wanted to take it seriously plus didn’t want it to accidentally expire and get removed, so I opted for the 2 years option myself.
Once you have added to the hosting to your basket, you can select a domain name.
This is an important step and something that shouldn’t be rushed. You will want something memorable. Most simple domain names have already been registered so you will need to be a little creative. I was lucky enough to get my name as my domain name.
Here are some of my top tips on coming up with a domain name:
- Keep it memorable
- Try to keep it short
- Try not to use hyphens
- Try not to use numbers
- Try to get a .co.uk or .com
Step two – install WordPress
Once you have signed up for your WordPress hosting, you’ll log in to your Tsohost cloud hosting dashboard. Don’t be afraid of this page, most of it you won’t use and the rest is pretty straightforward.
Next, just click ‘add a site’ and then enter the domain name that you registered as part of your hosting.
Scroll down the next page and you’ll see a link for ‘install applications’ then click ‘new software applications’. Finally, you’ll see a big green ‘install’ button next to WordPress which will let you quickly install WordPress. Once it’s installed, take a note of the login details: login URL; username; and password.
Now you have a blog! The domain is registered, the hosting is set up, and WordPress has been installed. Good job!
Step three – configure WordPress and install a theme
Now let’s head to your website. To login into your WordPress, visit the login URL supplied in the previous step. For WordPress, the login URL will always be at ‘/wp-admin/’. So, for example, ‘www.example.com/wp-admin’.
Enter the username and password also supplied when you installed WordPress. You can change these details later.
Your website at this point is using the default WordPress theme, so doesn’t look great. Let’s add a theme to your website.
There are plenty of free themes to use from the WordPress repository, all of which you can view over on that site or install them directly on your WordPress blog.
I create my own WordPress themes (that’s my day job) but there are plenty of options for a beginner to have a professional blog without needing to code.
Step four – start writing and royalty-free images
Now you have a theme on your new blog, you’ll want to start writing and adding images.
The place I find free, royalty-free images are on Unsplash. If you fancy paying, I also subscribe to Adobe Stock.
Step five – making money from your blog
An easy way to make money from your blog is to use Skimlinks, which does all the hard work of adding links to your website which earn you commission if someone clicks the link. So, you can sit back and just write. Leave all the tedious work to Skimlinks. I use Skimlinks on this website.