Thinking of creating a blog or website for yourself, but don’t know how to start? Yes that happens with most of the people who think of creating a website to share blogs but are scared of technical stuff and want to avoid learning those complex HTLM5, CSS, PHP etc.So how do you start a blog?
Don’t worry, this post and my unique offering will surely help you create your first blog website, without any technical knowledge and believe me, you will be able to create a fully responsive (a website that runs on desktop as well as on the mobile) website if you follow the instructions in this post.
So just sit back for 20-30 minutes and follow this guide which is worth more than 4000 words.
It’s worth reading, so without much ado, let’s get started…
#1 First things First – How much money is required to start a blog site?
First question that comes to our mind is how much money is required to create a blog website? The answer is simple, not much really if you expect less than 10000 daily visitors on your website. You will have to buy following to start blogging online.
Blogging Platform: Cost (included when you buy domain/hosting – no need to pay any additional charge).
Buy Domain Name: Cost – 6$ / Year (Approx.) .This would be yearly expenditure.
Buy Hosting Server: Cost – 7$/month (Approx.). This would be monthly expenditure.
Total Cost for an Year, would be around (6+ 12*7) = 90$
After Discount, this cost would be around 60-70$ per Year. (I will provide with a HostGator discount coupon, which you can use.)
Still not happy with the financials, Read my research about Best Website Hosting
You still think the cost is higher, Don’t worry, you can Host your site for as low as 1 CENT.
#2 Things you should know before you get Started.
Below are few things that you must know even before you get started with your blog.
- What is a free blogging platform?
- Why you must set-up your self-hosted blog?
- How to select your blogging platform?
- How to get your own domain name?
- How to choose your web hosting server?
What is a free Blogging Platform?
Before I get started with Blogging platform, it’s important to understand what is a free Blogging Platform?
In a single statement – Platform which facilitates you to create your own blog.
There are various free blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Tumblr, Blogger, Medium, Svbtle, LiveJournal, Weebly, Postach.io, Pen.io, Ghost that will allow you to create your own blog website for free with many customization options. But should you create your blog on a free blogging platform? (Remember no lunch is free? It comes at a cost) let’s see how?
Disadvantages of creating a blog on a free blogging platform…
The only advantage of creating a blog on a free platform is that it’s free. So you surely need to self-host your blog. No second thoughts on this.
There are other problems as well with free blogging platforms.
- No control over your content – Blogging platforms have their own terms and conditions. So your content can be removed anytime without any notice and you may lose your blog.
Recently Google announced that adult content on BlogSpot platform will not be tolerated while the definition of such content still remains controversial.
- No security – Your blog can be easily attacked as free blogging platforms have almost zero security measures.
- No control over server resources – If you post a wonderful blog and you start receiving huge traffic, chances are that your site will crash since you don’t have control on your server.
- Longer Domain names – The domain names of your website would be too long for someone to remember, like blogduster.blogspot.com. Let me know if you know any famous blogger with free blogging platform!!
- No advertisements – You will not be allowed to place advertisements and monetize on your blog.
So if you are not serious about your blog or content and not thinking of making money anytime in the future, you can choose a free platform. I would never choose a free platform and would rather prefer self-hosted blog from the very first day itself. So the next question that comes to mind is what would be my blogging platform.
If you are still not convinced and want to set-up FREE blog, then here my Tutorial about how to start a FREE blog on WordPress.
Select your Blogging Platform
The answer is WordPress, WordPress & WordPress. No second thoughts on this.
37 Million – that’s the word press related searches per month.
There are many other available like Tumblr, Joomla, Drupal etc. but no other is even close to Word Press in terms of wide range of features it provides and there is no other better than WordPress that you can use to publish your articles.
Word Press is by far the most popular blogging software.
FREE… to use (themes, layouts and many other plug-ins that other does not exist in other platforms).
It has large developer community for support and contributions.
It is highly customizable. I think, it will cover 90% of your wish list when it comes to customization. Also, it has the biggest inventory of Plug-Ins.
It is very easy to set-up and many hosting servers provide just a single click install.
It’s highly secure. Regular updates are released by WordPress and chances of your site being hacked are minimal. New York Times, CNN, Sony, Mashable use word press.
I know at this you are bit confused about WordPress. This is the reason I posted this blog about WordPress.com (FREE) vs WordPress.org (PAID) to help you understand.
I would also suggest reading my blog on CMS Comparison to get some information on blogging platforms.
Things, must to consider before selecting your own domain name
In order to start with your self-hosted blog, the first thing that comes to my mind is good domain name e.g. www.blogduster.com is my domain name. So domain name is nothing but your address where people will find your articles. The cost of domain name is approximately around 10$ per year. If you follow this guide, will help you get a cheaper one.
Also it is very important to choose a good domain name upfront. Choosing a bad domain is a common mistake many bloggers do. So choose a domain name which
Is easy to remember: Don’t ever choose a lengthy domain name like “bestbloggingtipsintheword” or something which contains special characters like “best-blogs-in-the-word”. Choose a short domain name (around 10-15 characters), since visitors need to type in your domain name in the browser.
Has, popular extension: User popular extensions like .com, .net, .org which are generally preferred by people and comes to one’s mind easily. Avoid use uncommon extensions.
Describes your site’s purpose: The domain should be descriptive and must describe your products and services. Good domain names describe what the site is about. You will attract more traffic if the visitor can understand nature of your site, by just looking at your domain name.
Could be Local: If your business caters to local community then your domain could be chicagoxyz.com where XYZ describes your business purpose.
So what are you waiting for, start thinking & be creative …
Your Web hosting server
The second thing that you would need is the web hosting server for your chosen domain name (abcd.com). So think like this, your domain name is your apartment address and the actual property or your house where you would live is your web hosting server. So Web hosting is a service that provides space on the internet.
The cost of web hosting is approximately 5-10$ per month. But before you choose your hosting there are couple of things that you should consider.
Page load speed: The amount of time (in seconds) it takes your page to be loaded.
Uptime: Most hosting servers claim 99.9%. That’s still not enough (More than 8 hours of downtime). Target should be 100%.
There are dozens of popular web hosting providers offering both (domain+ hosting) at competitive prices. Some of the popular hosting providers are HostGator, Bluehost, Godaddy, Siteground, Arvixe, 1&1, Dreamhost etc.
I use www.hostgator.com and recommend this for a domain name as well as for hosting.
HostGator has a good performance track record, with high load speed and zero downtime. (They provide a guarantee for 99.9% uptime of network and server.)
They also provide good support, although as per our experience you will never require one, as I have never faced any issue with HostGator till date.
#3 Setting up your self-hosted Blog
So get ready to register and install everything that you need to have a working (live) blog.
Step 1 – Visit www.HostGator.com and click “Get Started Now!” As I use HostGator, I have managed to get a 25% discount for my blogduster readers. Remember to apply coupon code BLOGDUSTER (if it’s not applied automatically).
I am offering Free WordPress installation service and many more. Why I am offereing discount coupon and Free service ?
Step 2 – Select your Hosting Plan. I recommend “Hatchling” plan for my readers. This provides all the features that you initially need to set-up your blog like –
- Unlimited space & bandwidth,
- 99% uptime guarantee &
- Most importantly 45 Day Money Back Guarantee if you ever change your mind to switch to a different hosting server.
Step 3 – Click on “Sign-Up Now” and fill the Order Form.
Choose a Domain
Fill your domain here. HostGator will show if your domain name is available or not. If it is not available, it will show your probable alternative.
Note – I recommend you to choose domain name with .com, .net or .org extension. The domain which popular are treated as reliable, therefore helps to gain quick faith compare to other domain extensions.
Choose a Hosting Plan
As I discussed earlier, select “Hatchling Plan”. Select Package Type as “Hatchling”. I suggest you to go for a yearly subscription (12 Months) and then you can always renew this as per your wish later.
Do not forget to select your unique username and PIN.
Enter your Billing info
Enter your billing information here. Word of Caution here – This is all the information (First Name , Last Name , Phone number, address) that will be available in public and everyone will be able to see when they visit pages like
Use “Domain Privacy Protection” option, in case you want to hide your personal information. (You will incur additional cost on this one).
Add Additional Services
I really don’t think you need to tick any of the option here as they will only add additional cost at this stage. So uncheck, any checkbox that is ticked.
Apply Discount Coupon and Complete Registration
Remember to apply my discount coupon “BLOGDUSTER”, which I have negotiated with HostGator for all my readers. So save some extra bucks and don’t skip it!!
Review your order details after applying the Coupon and complete the registration.
Step-4 Login to your HostGator account and install Word Press
Once you submit your registration, you will shortly receive your account details, though this should not take much time.
Use the link as specified in the Control Panel link above using “Username” and “Password”.
Once you login to HostGator, you will see below screen.
Click on the “Get Started with Word Press Today” icon, as displayed in above. Once you click on this icon, you will be redirected to Mojo Marketplace site, which helps install Word Press. They do so, as they try to sell other services as well on this page. But don’t worry, you can install it yourself.
You will immediately see below screen once you press “Get Started with Word Press Today” icon.
Click on the “Quick install” or “Install Word Press” to go to next step. Once you click on the “Install Word Press”, you will need to fill up below form. Select your domain name, input the details like your Admin email, your Admin User (this will be your word press admin user id).
After you are finished with your “Install Word Press”, a loading bar at the top will indicate if Word Press installation is complete and you will see your log-in credentials, after installation is complete.
Step-5 Login and check your niche blog
After installation, you will get an email with your login credentials, including the admin URL. Login to admin URL (which is www.nameofyourblog.com/wp-admin where nameofyourblog is your domain name).
You will see below Dashboard once you login.
Congratulations………. on setting up your first WordPress blog and that too all on your own. I am sure that was fun, easy and straightforward.
Read further to know how to design your blog, choose theme, post blogs and install plug-ins to make your blog functional.
#4 Configure, Design and Improve your Blog
It’s time to learn few Word Press blog basics to make your site rich and attracting. Some of the things that I would learn include
- Overview of WordPress dashboard
- Customizing your blog’s design
- Install new plugins and add-on’s
- The most important one – SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
See these sample websites of bloggers who are leading now a days using tips I have covered here.
Tip: You can log in to your blog by going to www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin/ and using the credentials you set up with HostGator or any other hosting company you have used.
Word Press Dashboard – Quick look…..
This is first login view of your word press admin account.
Let’s see some of must know features for new bloggers.
- Shows you at-a-glance look of your recent activity, including how many posts, comments and pages you have etc.
- Your site status – Bar Chart showing number of visits of each page and post.
- #Posts – Create here new post or blogs, edit your post to update contents, delete any unwanted post, publish edited post, or save your post as draft for future editing.
- #Media – is a collection of all the pictures, videos, and audio files you’ve uploaded to your site.
- #Pages – You may also love to create pages (permanent links on menu – Contact Us, About, Support) which you can do it from here. (This is not for posts)
- #Comments – is the link to manage comments. You can see which comments are waiting for your approval, review the comments and approve them, comments are also labeled as spam and delete comments you don’t want to show.
- #Appearance – this is where you can edit your blog’s design and install new themes and layouts. I will show you exactly how to do this a little later in the page.
- #Plugins – WordPress provides facility to install plugins to power your site with rich functionalities like SEO, Cache, and Jetpack. There are many must have plugins which you have to install to pump up your blog site. Here you can manage all plugins, activate them or deactivate them if it’s not required anymore.
- #Settings – Here, you can change your site’s title and tagline, edit your email address and manage your site’s important settings. The name is enough to explain what it is going to do.
Design your blog, activate Themes
Themes – This is the front page layout or template of your website which your readers see when they visit your site. You can choose theme as per your requirement among more than 2,000 professionally designed, available absolutely free. (Free one’s comes with limited capabilities, but you can always buy pro versions as per your requirements)
WordPress supports themes for almost everything you can imagine, be it photography, e-commerce, blogging, travel, ticket booking and the list is endless.
Changing your blog’s layout and design is as simple as installing a new theme and there is no limitation to install new theme to check if it suits your purpose.
Check these FREE WordPress themes, before you install one.
How to find and install a theme?
See the image to grab quickly – Appearance – > Theme -> Add New
Just, hover over your mouse on the Appearance tab and click on “Themes”.
Since this is your first blog, there are no installed themes. So first, you need to add a theme as shown here. This will not take more than 10 seconds to install.
Just click on “Install” button of the theme and your theme would be installed on your word press blog.
You can also search themes using different filter options like Featured, Popular etc. or just type in the keyword in the search bar.
This is very user friendly so there is hardly any wrong way to do it.
I really like the Feature Filter – Select your own preference and get a theme which fits your criteria, I like this feature most as it provides a wide range of selection criteria, you can choose themes in definite color select particular layouts and even choose themes with built-in advanced features.
Just choose the options you want, and then click -> Apply Filters on the left hand side.
Once you find your theme, Click Install and you are done!
Once a theme has been installed, just click on -> Activate on the next screen as shown below to activate, all set!
Note: – You can install as many themes as you want. Your blog will use the one theme which is activated.
Although FREE themes are great and even I had set-up my first blog on FREE themes, there are some limitations in FREE themes like.
- They are not regularly updated
- You don’t get a good support
- Widget Features are limited
- Always have a risk of being hacked since they are not updated regularly.
- Most importantly, they are not very much search engine (SEO) friendly.
So, if you can afford, I do recommend these Premium WordPress Themes which are great and comes at very reasonable price with great features. (Please don’t buy unless you are satisfied).
Installing a New Plugin (add some cool features to your blog)
#Plugin is featured software to achieve specific task in your site. Install Plugins to add features and tools to your blog site. They can do all sorts of customization you need for your blog, including
- Adding contact forms
- Blocking comment spam
- See status of your site visitors
- SEO-friendly blog capability
- Adding photo galleries
- Cache to speed your site
And much more
Installing Plugin is very easy, similar to how I did for installing theme.
Dashboard->Plugins -> Add New
Hover over your mouse to Plugin’s and then click on “Add New”. You will see below screen.
After this you will see below screen, where you can search Plugin (option 1), Install plugin as per your need (options 2, 3, and 4), Update Plugin which is already installed (option 5)
You can search by keywords to find specific plugins you need. Word Press supports large number of Plugins.
Click “Install Now” and your Plugin will be installed. Click “Activate Plugin” and you are done.
Word of Caution – Do not install any plugin without reading its features and stability. Suggest you to Google plugin, read reviews before installation. Some plugins can break your theme, cause problems with security or work poorly, can slow your site, therefore always get for a review and second opinion first.
I have shared a list of Plug-ins
- Which you require from Day-1 , Essential Plugin’s
- Must have WordPress Plugin’s
- If you can spend some money, these are some Premium WordPress Plugin worth buying.
Also update your themes each time you see “Please update now” message on Dashboard. Don’t worry to monitor for updates. Word Press will notify as soon as updates are available for installed plugins, themes, etc.
Making your blog Search Engine (SEO) friendly
Now, that you have created your self-hosted blog. There are some things you’d need to do to make your blog search engine friendly so that people can find your blog. Search engines do not like
- Cryptic URL-s – http://yourblogname.com/2016/01/topic-1/auhtorname-blogduster/how-to-start-a-blog. best way is to use: http://yourblogname.com/start-my-blog
Fortunately, there are several solutions to this problem of bad URLs. The most common is the Apache Module Rewrite. Ask your developer to visit to see how to convert plug-ugly URLs on the fly into ones that are SEO friendly.
Importantly to change your links to a more cleaner using Word Press, click on the #Settings -> Permalinks
And use the below settings:
- Spam comments – As the name suggests, some unwanted or harmful comments which just have no meaning on your blog post. Many people want to leave automated spam comments on your blog; the reason is simple, that by posting their own blog hyperlinks they can move people from your blog or to advertise their services/products leaving such comments.
To avoid that, make sure you moderate your comments using settings as shown below.
#Settings -> Discussion and tick those two options.
Manage User and Account
This is very important if there are multiple people required to access the blog. You can assign different roles to different people like Administrator, Subscriber, blogger etc.
The settings can be used to change existing user details, add new user, delete an existing user and assign them role of Super Admin, Admin, Subscriber and much more.
To manage users Go to the
#Users -> Add New
Adding a New User: Click the ->Add New link in the users section of the left-hand menu to open user setup form:
Fill in the details in Section 2, change the role in section 3 and user role now. Setup the user password from your end and send them using your preferred secured way.
Most Important: Be careful about the user role before you are done.
- Subscribers are the users who can only manage their own profiles – they cannot update or change content.
- “Administrators” are the users who can access all the administration options – making any changes or adding new users without any limit.
- “Authors” are the users who can publish and manage their own posts only.
- “Contributors” are the users who can write and manage their own posts, but cannot publish them.
- “Editors” are the users who can publish and manage posts – including the posts of other users.
Think twice for correct privilege before you give access to any User.
#5 Creating New Blog Posts and Pages
Congratulations, you have now set-up your own self hosted Word Press Blog with a domain name of your choice. I also believe that you must have installed theme which supports your topic. Therefore now it is time to write some cool blog post on your site. I will show you some tips for writing fabulous post in this section.
This should not take more than 10 minutes of your time. It will cover following topics.
- Writing a post inside Word Press
- Adding images & media, linking other posts and format text
- Understanding best practices.
- Quick tips for writing world class blog post
Using Word Press as Blogger
Adding a New Post
To add a new post Click on Posts and Then Click Add New on left hand side panel as shown below.
You will see the page as shown below: go through the red marked labels as shown in image to understand more about this page.
Perhaps, for a good blog it may take ~5-10 days for you to complete a single post. Word Press allows you to save post as draft until it is not completed and can be published once completed. The same can be achieved using the box menu on extreme right side of “Add New page”. You can also publish blog even privately to be viewed only by your friends.
All posts which you have saved for future use can be found in Posts -> All Posts Tab.
To add an image to blog post, you will have to use the “Add Media” button as shown in figure below. But before you use the “Add Media” link, make sure that your cursor inside the blog post is placed where you actually want to upload the image.
Next is to click on Upload Files tab on the screen that pops up (shown below), and finally select the file on your local drive: you can also drag files (see option 3). The Media Library (Option 2) will show you all images which you have uploaded earlier. There can be case when you have to just link already upload image to the blog rather than uploading new image.
The good images should be sharp in pixel, clear and self-explanatory according to post on which you are writing.
Tip- It is always advisable to follows pixel size as supported by Theme, if theme provider gives documentation.
When the upload is finished, make sure the image you want is selected, and then click the Insert into post button to add the image to the post you’re writing.
Tip: You can also select more than one image at the same time using above explained feature.
Adding a Link
Linking, as name signifies, is the way to link other websites, this helps to build relationship and share exciting content. This helps to open other website page in a new browser tab.
To add a link, click on the icon in the toolbar that looks a bit like a chain link.
On the pop-up, you’ll need to input little important information, let’s review each required information.
- URLis the web address of the link you want to share. Make sure that you include “http://” before the “www.” Address.
- Link Textis the text which will be displayed on post and you want people to click on it. It might be “Click here”, or anything website/post name.
- Open link in a new window/tab– The good idea is tick this so that the new page will be opened in new tab and the reader will not lose the current page and stays on your site.
- If you want to link to an existing page, Use the “Search” section to find a post or page you have already created and click on it to add a link.
Finally, click “Add Link” button, and your link will be added where you left your cursor in the post you were writing.
Creating Headers & Formatting Text
A good content is the one with well selected fonts and color and size. Are you ever happy to read bad handwriting notebook?
Answer is simple – No.
It is always highly recommended to use headers and bold edits to make your content easier to read.
To create a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar as shown below.
I recommended to use Heading 1 only once in single page or post (on top), and other Heading 2, 3 can be used in the remaining documents, the reason behind is that it is very important to follow this pattern for search engines – SEO.
Formatting of Fonts and Color
You can use bold, italic, underline and even change the color of your text quickly, like we do in word document or using any other editing tool.
You can use shortcuts to quickly apply desired formatting from below list.
- “B” stands for BOLD
- “I” stands for italics
- “U” is used to underline your selected text
- “A” will open a dropdown menu where you can select font color of selected test in post.
This should be all easy, for anyone who previously worked in Microsoft word.
#6 Things to do after you have Set-up your blog…
Now that you have created your self-hosted site and published your blog on domain of your choice, it’s time to move ahead. If you think that just creating a site and writing good content will attract traffic automatically, then you need to correct your facts.
You still need to do some bit of work, before your blog is successful.
Add Informative Pages
Two must have pages that you will need are About Me and Contact Page.
- About Us Page – Now that’s something you already know. Try to create a good page which gives information about your website and its purpose. Check my About Me page. This should give you a good idea.
- Contact Us Page – It’s important so that readers can reach out to you, post comments, give suggestions and feedback.
Also Read Following Posts now…
- Find Free Images for your blogs ( Don’t copy them from Google Images, you will land yourself in trouble)
- Best Blog post ideas ( This should give you a Good idea about blog subjects)
Make your blog Search Engine Friendly
Its time to make your blog search engine friendly to help users and search engines find your pages.
- Understand, How Google Crawls and indexes your pages.
- Read, What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
- On Page SEO (Step by Step Guide for Beginners) – SEO is not an easy subject and hence I had published this Guide to help you learn SEO techniques.
It’s Time to take it to next level now
Now that your site is SEO friendly and contains some content,its time to promote and increase traffic on your blog.
- Submit your site to Google (Search Engines)
- Increase traffic on your blog (Let’s see what works?)
- How to make money from your blog ( Affiliate Marketing , eBooks etc…)
- Learn more What is Affiliate Marketing.
- Follow some basic rules, Read Google Webmaster Guidelines
Tools & techniques
- Set-up Google Analytics (know your visitors & where they come from)
- Review your content and do a proper Keyword research to write content which your readers can easily find. My tutorial on How to do Keyword Research , Must Read.
- FREE SEO Tools ( At this stage you don’t need to buy any tools).
Suggest you to subscribe on my blog post for further articles that explain the very most important facts about SEO ,blog monetization and some very interesting facts & information on blogging.
Stay tuned…..and don’t forget to leave a Comment.