My name's Paula Miller and I would like to help you on How To Start A Blog. Four years ago I started a blog and I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, my best friend, Ryan Morris, and I started a blog and neither one of us knew what we were doing. But, I can tell you, it was one of the best creative decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve always wanted to find a way to express myself, and I think there are two different ways to express yourself: there’s expressive expression and there is communicative expression, and a blog really allows me to do both.
So, expressive expression, that’s like writing things down in your journal or creative writing. But then, communicative expression is giving a message out into the world. So, the blog doesn’t just allow me to journal and get my thoughts onto a page, it allows me to get those thoughts, that message, those stories, those updates, out to the world.
So, I’m going to help you today to learn how to start a successful blog today. Now, we’re going to go through seven fairly simple steps. Everything I like to do is simple, but I can tell you when I first started, we really had no idea what we were doing.
In fact, when we first started the blog, I remember fifty-two people visited our website in the first month and that was amazing to me. I know it might sound unimpressive, at first, but I was really impressed that a few dozen people were really finding value in our words. Over time, those fifty-two turned into like four hundred, and four thousand, and forty thousand. Last year, more than four million people showed up and read our words at our websites.
What I learned in that process is that, when you add value to someone’s life, they’re really eager to share your message to their friends and family. They want to add value to their lives as well. That’s why I’m doing this today. I hope, in a way, to add value to your life, by showing you how to set-up a successful blog.
Let’s go ahead and get started. We’ll go through the seven steps but I’ll start first with Step 0. Step 0 is: You need to pick what platform from which you are going to blog. For me, I use WordPress for Healthy Frugal Girl. The reason I use WordPress is really, it’s the most customizable, it’s the most… I have the most control when I use WordPress, as opposed to other platforms. It doesn’t mean there are other platforms that are necessarily bad, there are websites like Tumblr, a microblogging site, or Blogger.com, which is a bit older, a bit more vintage, but it gives you the opportunity to at least start blogging, if you want to do that. I wanted a lot more control and I also wanted to make my website look beautiful because I believe that is part of the writing process, is the aesthetic. I decided to gain control by having a WordPress blog.
Let’s assume you’re setting up a WordPress blog for the purpose of this tutorial. You can follow along online, there are a bunch of screenshots and other text, as well, that explain step-by-step what we’re doing here. We’re also going to show you here to see exactly how I’m going through these steps, step-by-step-by-step, until you have a beautiful blog.
We’re going to go ahead and move on to Step 1. Step 1 is: Make sure you’re prepared. I don’t like to rush personally so I like to recommend setting aside an hour to set-up your blog from start to finish. Now, is it going to take you a full hour? No, probably not. But I don’t want to feel rushed so let’s set aside an hour and let’s make sure we have our debit card or credit card as well because we’re going to need to pay for a couple things upfront. Some hosting, there’s a few bucks a month you’ll pay to host the website. If you don’t already have a domain, you actually get a domain name for free. So, Step 1 is: Be prepared. Set aside an hour and make sure you have your debit or credit card ready.
Now we’re going to go into Step 2. Step 2 for you is your domain. My domain is HealthyFrugalGirl.com. And, then you’re going to need a place to host that domain. This is the land upon which we will build our blog. For me, the land I use, the company I use, to host our blog is a company called Bluehost. We’re going to go through step-by-step, set up our WordPress blog with Bluehost.
Now, the reason that I use Bluehost instead of some other companies is, first off: They’re incredibly reliable, they have a phenomenal price and, also, they give you a free domain if you don’t have one already. I know domains aren’t that expensive, they’ll cost you 10, 15 bucks a year but with a Bluehost, they’re going to give you one for free, so we’ll go ahead and set that up. And the last reason that I use Bluehost is: They have a money-back guarantee. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t sure if, “Am I really going to want to do this thing a month from now? Or a few weeks from now, even? and I don’t want to pay for a month or year of hosting if I’m not going to be using this.” So, I decided if I changed my mind, I knew they had a 30-day money-back guarantee, which was really great. Plus, a lot of my friends and family also use Bluehost and that’s how it was recommended to me. That’s the reason that I recommend Bluehost.
First thing we’re going to do in this blog post is open up another browser tab and “CLICK HERE“ to go to Bluehost. Bluehost web hosting and you’ll see the exclusive offer. There’s actually a sale price on there, so you’re going to get a little bit better deal, not just on a free domain but, of course, with the monthly service, as well. I’m just going to click “Get Started Now” and I’m going to select my package here.
I’m just going to start. Most people—this covers 99% of folks—start with the very basic package, the basic package. There’s some additional options, if you’re a business pro user, you’re going to anticipate a ton of traffic. But, for 99% of folks who are getting started, the starter package works really well for them.
I’m going to click “Select” here and I want a new domain. Now, if you already have a domain, if you already bought a domain years ago and you’ve been sitting on it, your name, or whatever, then you’re welcome to do that. For me, I’m just going to start a brand new blog right now. We’re just going to call it healthyfrugalgirlnewblog.com. We’ll just click “Next” here. I’m going to type in my information here.
There we go.
This is going to be some more options down here. You can do domain privacy protection. I don’t necessarily recommend doing a bunch of extras but there are some extras you can customize it exactly however you want to do it. Just plug in my billing information—close your eyes! I need to type in this debit card number. Click the little “Confirm” button and submit!
The next screen is going to say “Select whatever upgrades you need to suit your needs.” You can pick whatever upgrades you want, I’m just going to go ahead and go down to the bottom and click “Complete.” Move on to the next screen. It just says “Welcome to Bluehost, Congratulations!”
The nice thing about this is, if I decide to change my mind a week from now, two weeks from now, they’ve got a 30-day, total money-back guarantee. You’re not locked into anything right away once you click a “Submit” button. All I have to do is choose a password for my account. I’m going to create my password right now. I’ll go ahead and plug a password in or you can use the password generator, which is what I’m going to use. Paste that in, click create, it gives me a nice, complex password.
Once we have our Bluehost account established, we’re going to install WordPress. If you’re like me, the word “Install” sounds terrifying. I don’t want you to think about it like “Install,” I really want you to just think about it as “Click a few buttons” because that’s all you’re really going to have to do with Bluehost. They make it really simple to install your WordPress. Let’s go ahead and I’m going to walk you through, step-by-step, once you’ve signed up for Bluehost, how to install WordPress.
I’m going to go ahead and click “I can do it myself.” You can also have their team help you out, as well. I think it’s relatively simple so let’s just go ahead and click “I can do it myself.” We’ll close the popup guide.
Go on over to the top here and click “Website” and just click “Install now.”
It’ll take you to the next screen. There are a couple options here: Install or Import. We’re just going to click “Install.”
It says “Select which domain you would like to install.” I’m just going to click “check domain“.
That brings us to our last step! We’re just going to click “Install Now.” Oh! But first you have to click the Terms and Conditions, accept them. Of course, read through them thoroughly. Next, we’re going to see this pop-up window that says “We’re setting up WordPress for you.” It gives you some options for some themes, you can certainly go in there and take a look at some of the themes. I use a different theme store that we recommend in a future step, so I’m going to go ahead and exit out of there because I prefer the themes that we us.
All right, that was easy! You see how easy that was. Well, next, we get to do something a little more fun now because the installation process is kind of boring, let’s face it. We get to design our blog and we design our blog by using a theme. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about coding or HTML, I can hardly spell HTML so you don’t have to worry about any of the coding side of things. The way we’re going to make our blog beautiful is we are going to select the theme.
There are thousands of different themes. You think of WordPress and Bluehost as the land upon which we built—are building this blog. Themes are the framework and facade that makes your website unique and beautiful. I'm going to show you how to install a theme and make your blog beautiful right now.
Okay, we are going to head over to the themeforest site of envatomarket and grab a nice theme from them. All you have to do there is click this themeforest link >>>THEMEFOREST<<<< and once you find the theme you like you can purchase it from there. They have hundreds of themes so find one you might like and click on the demo button to see what the live theme looks like. This is a one-time transaction fee, so it’s relatively inexpensive. Once you set this up, you’ll have it in perpetuity. I'm really love the INNOVATION: Multi-Concept News, Magazine & Blog Template but you can choose any you like just make sure it a Responsive Layout Theme. Responsive means that the website your building will be able to be viewed on any type of device whether it's a Desktop, Tablet or Mobile Device and still look beautiful .
I already created my account. You just need to Add to Cart or select Buy Now and complete your purchase. Once I’m done with that, I click “Log-in.” Simply type in the password I created, and here we are! We get to download our theme. I'm going to download the Innovation theme and use for this article. Once you have purchased and downloaded your theme, there’s just one last step with the themes before we can make your website, make your blog beautiful. These are all customizable themes so you’ll be able to manipulate them and make them fit what you’re trying to communicate. I think it’s good to pick the one that is most in-line with your vision for what you want your blog to look like.
We’ve selected our themes, now it’s time to install them. You have them downloaded onto your computer and no where they are saved, that was really easy. Now what we have to do is install our themes, that is Step 5. Let’s go ahead and take the themes that we’ve selected, and let’s get them installed. Do you remember how easy it was to install WordPress? Installing your theme is even easier. We’re just going to go back to Bluehost and install our theme.
First, I’m just going to click “View Credentials.” We’re back here at the Bluehost page and this is going to take us over to our WordPress blog, which is now installed, right? I would just click on the Admin URL and that will take you to your websites login screen.
Once we’re in WordPress, we’re going to be able to install our theme. Here on your WordPress page you scroll over Appearance and click onto Themes. From there, you are just going to simply click “Add New.”
Next you will choose Upload Theme and Choose File and Install Now, I selected the Innovation theme file from where I saved it and clicked Install, it’s unpacking the zip file. Once it's finished you want to click on Activate.
For me, this is where the fun part really begins. I’ll let you determine exactly what you want to do in terms of uploading your logo—if you have a logo, if not, you can create one. You can do a bunch of other stuff with colors and background images and all these other widgets. Over the coming days and weeks, you’ll learn what you really like, what resonates with you, you’ll make tweaks. I always say keep tweaking until you’re happy and then maybe tweak a little more, until you’re really enjoying the website that you have.
All right, congratulations! You have your themes installed at this point and everything else is really easy. The next step is we just want to install three plug-ins that we recommend. You can install any other plug-ins you want; these are absolutely free but they’re going to help you with your website.
I like the website to be fairly lean. There are other plug-ins you can use in the future, if you decide you want to add things. But, there are three plug-ins we recommend at the HealthyFrugalGirl.com. WordPress SEO by Yost; Google Analytics—so you can track your traffic—you can see those fifty-two people who visit your website in the first month, or maybe it will be more than fifty-two, maybe you have more Facebook friends than I do; and JetPack by WordPress, as well. We’ve got a description of all three of those on here. You could click through with these links that are all on our website at The Minimalists. But, you can really just go right back to your WordPress blog and you can go to Plug-ins.
I’m just going to click “Add New” and you’ll be able to find the plug-ins right here. In fact, the JetPack one is right here. We can click “Update.” You can find a bunch of other plug-ins that are here already but we’re just going to search for the ones that we want.
Right there, the first one that comes up. All right, that is installed. Let’s add one more new one.
There we go. Google Analytics by Yoast. It’s the one with all the great reviews. You just click “Activate Plug-in.”
All right, it’s hard to believe but we are already at the end. This is my favorite step because it’s a step that goes on in perpetuity; this isn’t a step you ever get to the end of. Step 7 is: Tinker with your blog until you are happy. Obviously, I don’t recommend continuing to tinker endlessly, every single day. But, as your desires and your needs change, your blog will probably evolve as well. Right now, you’ll want to mess around with your blog a bit. You’ll want to add your own photos, your own style, your own voice. You’ll do that not only through your writing but you’ll want a photo of yourself—I definitely recommend having a photo of yourself—because people identify with other people, they don’t just identify with pictures of cats or cartoon avatars. We want to see other people.
Then you’ll get to make some of the decisions with your blog, as well. Who am I going to use to put photos on my blog posts? Well you can take your own photos, right? Of course, there are some free resources out there. Paul Jarvis has some great, great photography that is all free. There’s a website called Unsplashed that’s free. Or, if you wanted to pay a fee to have some photography, I don’t do this but some people do, they have iStock or Shutterstock or several different websites that you can check out on your own. Or, of course, you can take your own photos for your own blog and give it your own personal touch.
You’ll, of course, want to incorporate your social media. Do you use Facebook? Do you use Twitter? Do you use Google+ or Instagram? Well, you get to link all of those to your blog and determine whether or not you want comments. I don’t have comments setup. It just became a very long job, tedious job to manage comments, many, many hours per week. But, I find that when bloggers first start, it’s very helpful to have comments. You’re going to build your audience starting with the audience you already have. Well, who’s that? That’s your Facebook friends, your friends and coworkers, networking buddies, and all of these different people who are already in your life. Once they start finding value, they will start sharing your words with other people.
If you’re interested in improving your writing, I would like to recommend to you a writing class, which is “How to Write Better.” Really, what you’ll find in there is not just how to write better, but the habit of better writing. And, of course, you hear this term “Search Engine Optimization” and I had no idea. I heard this term all the time, SEO, SEO, SEO! I always thought it was some British rock band but SEO is a way to get more people to your website. There aren’t any short-cuts, there aren’t any how-to tricks, there’s no way to game the system but there are some really interesting thoughts. Our friend Colin Wright wrote a really great article, it’s pretty funny, actually, that you can go to and learn a little bit more about… What do these people mean by Search Engine Optimization?
That’s all I’ve got for now. I really hope you enjoy your new website, your new blog. I encourage you to continue to share your writing with the world, using your blog and whatever other platforms you have out there. If I could leave you with one message, I think it’s a pretty simple one: Love people the way you would want to be loved, because the opposite really never works.
Thanks a lot.