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Learning how to start a blog is the best decision we ever made. It launched us into a new life full of freedom and adventure. I can’t believe I almost didn’t do it.
We’re no different than most of you. I was a personal trainer and Lauren was a recently-licensed CPA doing taxes for an accounting firm. We had absolutely no background or experience when we got started on this path, but we knew that we wanted a way to earn an income online and live our lives more on our terms.
Other people were doing it, so why couldn’t we?
Maybe some of these will sound familiar? When we started our first blog, we were:
- Frustrated with our 9-5s and feeling trapped
- Sick of waking up to alarm clocks and fighting rush hour traffic
- Unable to travel like we wanted to and always chasing the weekends
- Drowning ourselves in coffee just to stay awake to survive the boredom
- Wondering if this was going to be it for our lives??
We were tired of chasing fleeting weekends and vacations that never lasted long enough and we were frustrated with the illusions of the American dream.
Then… just like you today… we made the life-changing decision to learn how to start a blog with a guide just like this one and our world was never the same again.
Allow us to officially introduce ourselves… We’re Alex and Lauren — two pretty average people who wanted something different from their lives.
After starting our first health and wellness blog, we were able to make $103,457.98 in our first year. Since then, we have started a second blog and we now earn over $50,000/month each month with our online businesses.
Our blog business has allowed us to quit our jobs, travel the world, work from anywhere, and provide more financial freedom than we ever thought possible.
It has allowed us to completely design our days and live our lives on our terms. And we want this for you, too!
It can feel a bit overwhelming to get started on this path. We know. We felt it too. It’s easy to look at other successful people and think that they’re on this whole different level — that maybe you don’t have what it takes.
But we’re here to tell you that we felt all of these fears and concerns when we got started too and let me tell you, the other side is SO worth it. We’ll show you!
Starting a blog and making money blogging has allowed us to experience a kind of depth to life that’s hard to put into words… We’ve traveled everywhere from Bali to Costa Rica to Portugal — all while working full-time on our online business.
But our purpose today is not to talk about us but to help you.
We have over 16,000 students that we have helped start their first blog and earn anywhere from some extra side money to a full-time, six-figure online business. We’ve helped students quit their full-time jobs as teachers, lawyers, you name it, and transition into running their online business full-time.
We wrote this free guide to help you learn how to create a blog without any website coding skills or having to pay an expensive web developer to do it for you. Basically, our guide will show you EXACTLY how to start a blogging business, without breaking the bank!
Disclosure: We are an affiliate for Bluehost, the hosting company that we recommend in this tutorial. We’ve partnered with them to bring you a 30% discount on hosting, and in return, we get a commission if you sign up with our link. We recommend Bluehost because it’s the hosting company we started with and the absolute best and most affordable when you’re getting started.
You can start your blog with Bluehost for as low as $2.75/month and it also comes with a FREE domain name.
Make sure to save, pin, or bookmark this page, and come back to it for later if you can’t finish everything today.
Welcome to our step-by-step guide to start a blog and take the first few steps towards designing, creating content, and turning your blog into an actual business.
Step 1. Decide on Your Topic
Choosing the right topic for your new blog is less complicated than you would think. Here’s why.
First off, you can make money in almost any blog niche. If there is interest in a specific topic, I can guarantee you that there are people out there making money in that space.
We know of people earning six figures selling courses on training goats and board games on how to find healthy herbs in your backyard. I mean, come on…
Earning money with your blog is more about learning who your audience is and how you can best deliver content and information to them. It’s about building relationships and you can do this in any space.
When it comes to choosing your blog niche or topic, the best place to start is to think about what you have knowledge and experience in. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you have professional or personal experience in?
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you really enjoy doing?
- Have you overcome any problems in your life?
- What can you share about that journey?
- What would your friends or family say you can’t shut up about? What do they go to you for advice for?
That last one, in particular, was one that really helped us find our space, and this should be a natural thing. You shouldn’t need to do any deep soul-searching here.
I had a professional background in health and fitness and Lauren had been a pretty hardcore vegan for a couple of years. It was my profession and her passion, so this is where we started. We were definitely those people that gave our friends unsolicited health advice at the dinner table.
But we also both had business degrees and backgrounds, so we also moved into teaching about online business after we gained the experience from turning our first blog into a full-time, six-figure business.
Also, know that it’s okay to not have this 100% nailed down right now.
You can and should be flexible and open to change and evolution as your blog grows. You can narrow down or even change your topics over time as you begin building an audience and learn how you can help them better.
Some great general blog topics that are known to be profitable include:
- Health, Fitness, Dieting, Recipes
- Parenting, Home, DIY and Crafts
- Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle
- Finance, Budgeting, Saving, Investing
- Relationships, Self-Help, Recovery
- Tech, Gaming
The possibilities are endless, but it’s important to try to narrow down your topic if you can. For example:
Training goats would fall somewhere between home and education but is obviously a very specific topic. We started a health and fitness blog but our main topics are weight loss and yoga.
But the most specific you can be, the more targeted your audience will be, and the deeper the connection you can make with them will be.
When you are trying to narrow down your topic, think about who you want to reach with your content.
Women? Mothers? Young mothers? Working young mothers?
Now, working young mothers that own a pug is probably too specific. But you get the idea.
Remember not to overthink this too much or spend too much time here. You can always pivot or change your topic later on. The most important thing is to just get started on this path and take the next step.
Step 2. Decide on Your Blog Name
Now, we’re not going to spend too much time here because your blog name actually matters a lot less than you think it does. I know it’s a fun thing to think about so don’t think I’m a Debbie Downer here. I just don’t want you to get hung up in the wrong places.
Your blog name can be anything you want it to be, like your name, something descriptive relating to your topic, or something entirely made up. But it SHOULD be:
- Easy to spell
- Easy to pronounce
- Easy to remember
Our health and wellness blog name, Avocadu, is hard to spell, hard to pronounce, hard to remember and we actually get extra bonus points because it autocorrects to AVOCADO every time you type it into your computer or phone. 🤦🏻♀️
But despite this, we still earned well over $20,000/month with this blog. And our very first blog, Health and Happy Hour, ultimately failed despite having a FANTASTIC name, in my humble opinion.
Create and Go, this blog, was much better and it’s a name that allows us to be flexible if we change or restructure our business at any point in the future.
P.S. You can also decide on your blog name later and actually start your blog without deciding on that 100% yet if you need more time.
Step 3. Start Your Blog (So-Easy-Yo-Grandma-Could-Do-It)
Let’s talk about the setup for a minute before we get started. First of all, you need two things to build your blog:
- Blogging Platform – Where the content and design of your blog or website will live.
- Hosting Company – This is what takes your blog online and makes it visible to everywhere. Just like buying a lot for a new home, you need to buy a space on the internet where your new blog will live.
There are a lot of platforms out there, like Wix and Squarespace, but choosing a blogging platform really boils down to what kind of business you are starting. Those two platforms are better for physical businesses like hair salons and dentist offices.
If you are starting a blog business that you plan to share a lot of content on, WordPress is the only way to go. It’s what 95% of successful content creators use and provides accessibility to a lot more customizations and software.
Next, you pair WordPress with a great hosting company! We use and recommend Bluehost because it’s one of the best and more affordable plans to start off with.
Another question you might have at this point is:
How Do I Start a Blog For Free?
You can technically start a blog for free, but it’s not a valid option if you want to turn it into a successful business.
Free blog platforms and hosting companies come with a whole lot of limitations, including…
- You don’t own your domain (blog) name.
- Looks unprofessional and will not be as trusted as fully-owned websites
- Can’t place ads and are very limited in other ways of monetizing your content
- Not enough bandwidth when you start getting visitors to your blog
You can’t start something like this for free and expect to earn $1,000 back. If it were that easy, everyone and their grandmother would be doing it, competition would be sky high, and you wouldn’t be able to make any money from it.
If it were that easy, everyone and their grandma would be doing it, competition would be sky high, and no one would be making any money from it!
Trying to start a blog for free is a colossal waste of your time and you will only end up wasting the first few months and paying for a better hosting company anyway.
How Much Does It Cost To Start a Blog?
The good news is that it’s super affordable to start a blog and it’s one of the most affordable ways to start your own business.
Here are a few of the typical blog start-up costs that you can expect to incur in the first 1-3 months:
- Blog hosting plan: $2.75/month (paid annually $110)
- Blog theme: Free – $89
- Email service: Free – $29/month
These costs are not just to start but also to design your new blog and to help you begin getting subscribers to your blog. The free options, in this case, are perfectly fine to start off with!
Okay, let’s get started!
1. Sign Up for Bluehost (30% Off)
If you have not already, click here to go to Bluehost (opens up in a new window) and follow along with the tutorial).
For those of you who like video walkthroughs better, you can also check out our video tutorial below. Otherwise, keep reading!
This tutorial is going to start with a webpage showing our bright, shining faces.
First, click the button to get started on the homepage and you will then see a list of pricing options.
2. Choose Your Plan
Next, choose which pricing plan is best for you. Don’t worry, you don’t need anything more than the BASIC plan!
3. Choose Your Domain Name
After selecting your plan, you will want to enter your new domain name. This is simply the name of your blog and what will show up in the search bar. i.e. Createandgo.com is our domain name for this website.
Don’t have the domain name you want just yet? Don’t sweat it! You can click the link to create it later and continue with the guide and select your domain later on!
On the next page, you will fill out the create your account section:
Then, scroll down to the section with the package information.
4. Choose Your Package
First, select your account plan. This is where you select the LENGTH of your hosting plan.
We recommend the 36-month plan because it provides the best value for your money, but the 12-month plan is great as well. Remember:
- You can cancel risk-free for 30 days. Bluehost offers a guarantee, and you can cancel your plan at any time during the first 30 days and get a full refund.
- Signing on for a longer plan represents a commitment you are making to your blog and yourself. You’re locking in a lower price for a longer time and you’re also making a commitment to yourself to make this work – no matter what.
After selecting your package information, scroll down to the section on package extras.
Uncheck all boxed except privacy protection. It should look like this:
NOTE* If you selected the option to choose a domain name later, you won’t see the option to add privacy protection right now. You’ll just want to pay for it as an add-on when you decide to register a domain name.
Selecting domain privacy protection hides your personal details so that your information remains confidential.
Unless you want spammers and scammers blowing up your phone – you want this checked!
5. Congrats! You now own your very own blog!
Not too painful, right???
The next few steps will direct you to create your password before beginning with anything else. Make sure to create a secure password!
After selecting your password, click the “Login” button. This will direct you to select a theme for your WordPress blog.
Getting Started with WordPress
The themes on this page are all free. You can select any one of these free themes to get started.
Don’t worry. You can change this at any time, and we’ll discuss it in more detail in a few moments.
After selecting your theme, it will take a few minutes to set up your WordPress dashboard. Once it’s finished, click “Start Building” to go to your WordPress dashboard.
From here, click on the “Business” button, as shown below. If you miss this step and accidentally click Personal, don’t worry. It doesn’t really matter.
Next, you’ll be asked to set up a Site Title and Site Description.
This should be simple and descriptive of what your blog is about but if you aren’t sure what you want to say just yet, just click to skip this step and you can set it up later.
You can see an example of a Site Title and Description below:
After this step, it will ask you if you will be updating your blog with new content. Heck yeah, you will be! Select Yes.
From here, you will be prompted to select whether you’d like to set your homepage up to display recent posts or to have a static homepage.
You can select either, but most people end up using a static homepage, so we’ve selected that option in this tutorial.
You can also change this at any point in time in the future if you change your mind!
After selecting your homepage design, Bluehost will ask you if you want to set up a Contact page. We’re going to select No this time because you can set that up later. It shouldn’t be a top priority right now.
From here, click on the Connect to WordPress.com button. Next, you will be prompted to create an account for JetPack.
Skip this step for now. We don’t recommend installing JetPack as it’s a bloated plugin that can slow down our website.
Before moving on to the next steps, make sure to visit the email account that you used to sign up so that you can verify your address with Bluehost. You have 14 days to do this after signing up, but you should verify it as soon as possible so that you can access your Bluehost dashboard.
Just click the button in your email to verify:
Now, before we start designing and customizing, we want to show you how to access your Bluehost account and WordPress dashboard in the future in case you need to stop and start at any time.
How to Access Bluehost and WordPress
There are two different ways to get back into your WordPress dashboard and access your blog.
The first way is to go to Bluehost.com and log in using the email and password that you created in the setup above.
From here, you can click on the Login to WordPress button.
The other way to access your blog is a little more direct but it requires you to set up a new admin account within WordPress first. You can do that through these steps.
- Follow the step above to access your WordPress dashboard through your Bluehost.com account.
- On the menu on the left, go to Users → Add New.
- Create a new user account with a username. This will be the account that you will use to login with in the future.
- Next, go back to All Users and delete the old admin user.
Once you set up this new user, all you need to do to log in to your site is to type in yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-admin/ into your browser and you will be directed to log in to your WordPress account.
For example, my domain name is mynewtravelblog.com for the purposes of this tutorial. I would type in mynewtravelblog.com/wp-admin/ to access my blog.
Log in using the username and password you just set up in the steps above and you can access your WordPress dashboard!
Step 4. Become a WordPress Ninja
WordPress can be super daunting to learn at first. And while there is a bit of a learning curve, I promise you that it isn’t that bad! Once you understand the basics, you’ll get the hang of it really quickly. I’ve highlighted the main areas you will be working with below:
Here is a basic overview of these features:
Your posts are just your blog posts, or “articles.” This is where the bulk of the content that you write will live and where you can go back to edit it anytime you want.
Blog posts are generally organized by categories so that people can easily find the content that they are interested in.
You can have however many or few categories you want on your blog, but try to keep it around 3-5. For example, on our health and wellness blog, our posts are organized into the following categories:
- Weight Loss
- Healthy Living
We’ll discuss how to create your first post in the next section!
Pages are similar to posts but they are generally meant for more “static content” that isn’t updated frequently and is not related to your regular categorized posts, such as…
- Contact page (usually has a form or email address where people can contact you)
- About Me page (about you and your blog)
The pages are usually linked in your menus and/or at the bottom of your website.
The media library is where all of the images that you upload to your blog are stored.
You can add images directly to the media library or you can add them directly into blog posts and they’ll automatically be added to the library.
We’ll show you how to add images to blog posts in the next section!
This is where you can make customizations to your blog like changing themes (discussed in the section above on themes). You can also create and edit your menus, sidebars, and other widgets in the Appearance section.
A plugin is add-on software that you can install on your blog to make additional customizations that are outside the capabilities of your theme.
There are both free and paid plugins and they can help you:
- Change the look of your author box
- Help speed up your website
- Add social icons and buttons to your blog
- Help with blog security
- And so much more!
We have an article on the best plugins for your blog that will also show you how to upload and install them to your blog!
This is where you can change your email and password to your site or add other users if desired.
You probably won’t need to create new users for a while but if you ever hire a web developer or anyone else to help you design or make changes to your website, you can create new users to give them access to your bog.
This is where your general blog settings are, including how some things are set up and displayed on your blog.
In the settings area, you can edit the following:
- Site tagline
- Email address
- Time zone and date settings
- Homepage and blog display settings
- Comment settings
- And more
The best thing you can do is just start playing around in WordPress. Click on some of the links on the dashboards and see what options come up to familiarize yourself with the settings.
Here is another video that we put together to help you navigate the WordPress dashboard:
At this point, you’re going to be very tempted to start down the black hole of designing your blog, but we encourage you to move on and create your first blog post FIRST!
Adding a post to your blog first will HELP you design your blog so you can better see how things will look when you have more content on your blog!
Step 5. Get Some Blog Design Inspiration
This section is just a quick read to give you examples of some common blog designs so you can get ideas of how you might want yours to look before you start designing your blog!
We’re going to go over 3 main types of blog designs:
- Mix of Both
So, no matter what type of blog you are starting, you’ll have some great examples of how to design it for success!
When you land on Abby Lawson’s blog, you’ll notice that her homepage design is very focused on her content, first and foremost.
This is a great blog design for a beginner because many new bloggers aren’t ready to put their faces front and center or may not have the right photo for it yet.
This is a little closer to the original design of our first blog in the first few months, but it can work for anyone because Abby has been blogging for several years now!
He does change it from time to time, so it may look different now than you see in the screenshot below, but this is a great example of what we’re talking about:
The main feature on the page is, of course, Pat himself. He is an established authority figure in his niche, and he includes a big headline next to his photo so that his readers know exactly what his website is about when they visit his homepage.
This blog design is best-suited for someone who has established themselves in their blog niche or anyone who wants their face on their business and a more personal relationship with their audience.
Elsie and Emma have a great mix of the above two styles.
The focus of their homepage is split between their recent blog posts and a section about them. This type of blog design is also great for beginners because you will be posting a lot of content in the beginning and the addition of the section about you helps to build trust with your new readers.
It’s also a great design for anyone with a lifestyle blog that plans to blog on several different topics.
Additional Tips for Blog Design
This is one of the BIGGEST areas that people get hung up on when starting their first blog and it can lead to a lot of wasted hours.
The truth is that you will end up changing your blog design MANY times as your blog grows, your content strategies change, and you begin monetizing your blog. As you start building an audience, you will begin to learn more about who they are and what they are interested in and that will help determine how you design your blog.
The overall design matters very little in these early stages, so it’s best to stick with something simple and professional.
You can also get some additional ideas for blog design in this article.
Step 6. Select a Great WordPress Blog Theme
A blog theme is pre-coded software that allows you to customize the design of your blog. This part can feel a little daunting because there is a bit of a learning curve when you’re getting used to how WordPress works and how to start customizing everything.
But don’t sweat it! This is supposed to be the fun part! Just remember to keep your design as simple as possible when you get started because the sooner you get to creating content and building your audience, the sooner you can start making money!
Option 1: Start with a Free Theme
Free themes are a great place to start if you’re on a budget, but they will lack some of the tools and customizations that paid theme. This is totally okay and you can make it work for you, but we just want you to be aware of the limitations up front so you don’t spend too much time trying to force a free theme to do something it isn’t capable of doing.
If you have the extra $50 – $100 to invest, then go for a paid theme. If not, rock a free theme for a couple months or so and then upgrade when you can.
Flash by ThemeGrill is one of the best free themes that we have found.
Option 2: Save Time and Get a Better Design with a Paid Theme
If you’re ready to invest a little more to go a longer way, Divi is one of the best beginner themes on the market.
It’s a little on the pricey side, but you make it back with the insane amount of customization and user-friendliness of this theme. It also comes with a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee.
Divi theme is what most of our students are using and you also get access to over 70 other themes when you purchase Divi because it’s part of the Element Themes package.
Whichever theme you choose, just make sure that it has a good refund policy so that you can return anything that you don’t like before you commit to it.
The steps below will show you how to upload and change your theme in WordPress.
How to Change Your Theme in WordPress
After you purchase a theme (free or paid), you’ll need to download the zipped theme file. Then, go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance –> Themes.
Click on the button to add a new theme:
At the very top of the next screen, click the button to upload your theme:
Next, choose the zipped theme file that you previously downloaded to your computer in the first step.
Once it’s uploaded, click the buttons to Install and Activate and you’re finished!
Additional Theme Resources:
Here are some additional resources and tutorials to help you start exploring your new theme!
Step 7. Write Your First Blog Post!
It’s really important that you get to this step as quickly as possible because this is the start of creating your first piece of content!
And this first post can be whatever you want it to be! You can take the time to create a full article on a topic that you like or you can just keep it simple and introduce yourself and explain why to your audience you are here!
First, navigate to Posts –> Add New from your left-hand WordPress dashboard menu.
Let’s start with the title of your first blog post. You can name it whatever you want but here are some suggestions:
- Welcome to My New Blog!
- Why I Finally Started My Blog
- What This Blog is About
- Welcome to My Blog About [Blog Topic]
You can also change your blog post title at any time, so don’t worry too much about getting the headline 100% right.
After you’ve written your title, click on the block underneath the title to start writing your content.
I started off with a simple welcome message and introduced myself. Next, let’s add an image. You don’t have to do this, but it’s a great way to build that first personal connection with your reader.
This is the first step to building trust with your reader. If they are able to put a face to the words they are reading, they are more likely to feel connected to you.
To insert an image, you can click the plus button or the image icon. Then click “Upload Media.”
Now you can select a photo from your computer and upload it straight to WordPress. Once it’s uploaded to your WordPress media library, you can easily select it for any other posts in the future.
The rest of your content on this first blog post should be about you and why you started your blog. Here are some helpful questions that you can answer in this first post:
- What got you interested in your blog topic and what made you finally start your blog about it?
- What do you want to help others with?
- Do you have a mission statement or a core belief about your blog topic that you can share with your audience?
Feel free to include any other photos or ideas that you think might be helpful or relevant here. You can also include a few links to websites that you felt motivated and inspired by on your journey to starting a blog.
To add a hyperlink, type out the text that you want to link, click on the hyperlink icon, and then paste a link to the website in the field that pops up:
Include 3-4 websites that you have found inspirational so far.
Lastly, you can conclude your post by saying THANK YOU to your reader for being here and ask them to please leave a comment below the article if they enjoyed the post or have any questions for you.
This is a great way to start getting some initial feedback on your blog and start building those relationships with your readers.
Publish Your WordPress Post
Your blog post remains in “draft mode” while you are writing it. This means that a draft copy is saved in WordPress and no one can view it until you decide to publish the content.
Once you’ve finished writing your blog post, you can publish it so that other people can see it.
To publish a blog post, just click the Publish button at the top right corner of the page:
Once it’s published, there will be a link at the top of the screen to view your post.
After you’ve published your blog post, you can share a link on your Facebook account or send the link to family members or friends if you’d like to share it with anyone!
Congratulations for making it this far! That in itself is an accomplishment, and you should take a second to appreciate that and give yourself some credit!
Just getting started is often the hardest part. Now, it’s time to use that motivation to keep pushing forward!
Your homework for today is to get a little more comfortable with WordPress and where everything is. Finish designing your blog and writing that first post, if you haven’t already. When you’re ready, here are the next steps:
Create Content and Get Visitors
The very next thing you’ll want to focus on is creating content! This can be writing more blog posts or creating content for other platforms.
Where do your people hang out and where do you think that you can reach them best?
For example, if your audience is younger, you might want to consider platforms like TikTok or YouTube. If your audience is a little older, you probably want to consider Google or Pinterest.
You should also consider where your skills lie and what kind of content you think you want to create first. For example, if you aren’t ready to make videos yet, you don’t have to. Stick with search engines like Google or Pinterest.
Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Creating content and building your audience is THE most important thing you can focus on right now after getting your blog started.
Monetize Your Blog
But what about the money!?!???
Slow down there, partner. I know. We’re all so money hungry when we get started. After all, this is why you’re really here, isn’t it?
Don’t worry. We’re going to put you on the right path. We just want to remind you that being too overly focused on money from the very beginning can put you in the wrong mindset if you aren’t careful.
It’s important to be motivated and to want to build and scale as soon as possible, but make sure you are taking the right steps to do this.
Creating content and building your audience is where you should start, but take a look at our post on how to make money blogging to get ideas of how you will start monetizing your site.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to start a blog! If you have any thoughts or questions, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!