Updated January 19, 2016
If you want to know how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to work from home, author a book, get more exposure for your existing business or simply write, starting a blog and/or website is highly recommended.
In this post, I outline exactly how I’ve built most of my own sites. This guide has helped countless others get started too.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way.
What you’ll get from this guide
By the end, you’ll have your own self-hosted WordPress site, one of the most popular kinds of sites around. Ready?
Steps needed to start a blog – An overview
- Purchase hosting
- Choose a domain
- Install WordPress
- Start using WordPress
Step 1: How to start a blog – Find a host
A host provides server space for your site so others can find you on the internet. You could use a free service like Blogger or WordPress.com (the similar name makes it confusing, but suffice it to say, the steps here are for a self-hosted WordPress site and are much more preferrable than a free site you’d get at WordPress.com which does not allow you to earn common forms of blogging income). You get what you pay for. I highly recommend you opt for self-hosting. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you started out on the right foot.
Start by clicking here to go to Bluehost* (this link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work). I’ve been a paying customer of this company for over 10 years and can vouch for them.
Click the green Get Started Now button.
By the way, the images you see here may vary slightly from the ones you see on your screen. This is because they never stop making site improvements. Don’t worry, the general process is the same.
Step 2: Select your plan
Choose the plan you’d like to start with. I typically go with the Performance plan because you get more features that won’t tap out as quickly. Note that all plans come with one free domain which is good.
If your budget is super tight (I’ve certainly been there!), go ahead and choose the Starter plan. You can upgrade at any time.
Just click one of the green “select” buttons to move to the next step.
Step 3: Choose a domain
A domain is a web address. For example, AmyLynnAndrews.com is my domain. You may or may not already have a domain. On this screen you’ll either choose a brand new domain or enter your existing domain.
If you don’t have a domain, enter a new domain name on the left. (See tips for choosing a domain below). Make sure .com or the correct extension of your choice is selected from the drop down menu beside it.
If you’ve already registered a domain name, enter it on the right (don’t worry, it won’t mess things up if you’re using the domain elsewhere, this only identifies your account).
Click the blue Next button.
Tips for choosing a domain name:
- Go with a .com whenever possible.
- Make it easy to say and spell.
- Don’t include hyphens, numbers, obscure terms or confusing strings of words.
- If you’re not sure what to use, your name is a safe bet to start.
- Be creative and try a phrase if you’re having trouble finding an available name.
- Read more tips here if needed.
Step 4: Enter your account info
On the next page, enter your account info. Make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent.
Step 5: Choose a hosting package
Under Package Information choose your Account Plan from the dropdown menu. Choose a package based on how far in advance you want to pay. Please note, Bluehost bills a year at a time, but as you can see, it works out to a very reasonable monthly amount. Not bad for your own blog or website, right?
I always skip the other add-ons except Domain Privacy Protection which keeps any personal information private. The only time I would skip domain privacy is if you are using a business address and don’t mind if it’s visible to anyone who looks up your domain. If you’re using your personal contact info (home address, phone, etc.) to register your domain, I highly recommend domain privacy. Note: the Domain Privacy option only shows up if you registered a new domain in Step 3 above. It will not show up if you used a transfer domain.
Step 6: Enter your billing info
Fill in your billing information, confirm that you’ve read the fine print and then click Next.
Step 7: Skip the upgrades & check your email for login info
Continue on to complete your purchase. You’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades. I just skip them.
After completing your purchase, check your email. You’ll find a welcome email from Bluehost with your control panel (cpanel) login info. Keep this information for future reference.
Now we have to install WordPress on your new site…
Step 8: Login to your Bluehost cpanel
Go back to Bluehost and click the Login button in the top right corner of your screen. (Alternatively, you can use the link to your cpanel contained in the welcome email you received above.)
Enter your cpanel login info from the welcome email. Select the “hosting” tab if it’s not selected already.
Step 9: Install WordPress
Once logged into your cpanel, click the Install WordPress icon under Website Builders.
Step 10: Start the WordPress install
Next you’ll get a window that looks something like this. Click the Install button (it may say “Start”) to begin the WordPress installation process.
Step 11: Choose where to install WordPress
Choose your domain from the dropdown menu if it’s not already chosen for you. Leave the directory field blank unless you have a good reason to create a subfolder, which is unlikely if you are just starting. Click Check Domain.
Step 12: Enter your WordPress user info
Check the box next to Show advanced options. Enter your Site Name or Title (e.g. Amy Lynn Andrews, Dave’s Blog, Sally’s Song Factory, etc.).
Choose an Admin Username (do not use “admin” as your username). Choose a password. These will be what you use to login to WordPress once it’s installed.
Enter your email address (again, all site information will be sent here). Read and agree to the terms. Click the Install Now button.
Step 13: Note your WordPress login credentials
After WordPress has been installed, you should see the “Status: success” indication.
Take note of the information to access your new WordPress site. This information will also be sent to you via email.
So, to recap, at this point, you’ll have received two welcome emails. The first (from Step 7) is the login info for your hosting account. The second (from this step) is the login info for your WordPress account. You should keep both, although from this point forward, you’ll be using your WordPress login information much more frequently.
If you registered a new domain in Step 2…
Clicking on the Site URL link in your WordPress welcome email will take you to your brand new, live website. Clicking on the Login URL link will take you to the WordPress login page where you can enter your username & password (that you chose in Step 12) and get into the backend of your WordPress site. This is where you will write your posts.
You (or anyone) can now type your domain into a browser and your WordPress site will appear. (You can skip down to the next section “Start Using WordPress” for next steps.)
If you transferred a domain in Step 2…
Your existing domain will not display your new site until you change your name servers wherever your domain is currently registered. Changing your name servers points your domain to this new site.
IMPORTANT! As soon as you change your name servers, your domain will bring visitors to this new site. Therefore, if you are currently using your domain on another site, do not change your name servers until your new site is set up and ready to go. In the meantime, you can still access your new WordPress blog via a temporary URL. You may have received one in your welcome email from Bluehost. If you didn’t, simply call them and let them know you need a temporary URL for your new site.
To change the name servers where your domain is currently registered, first note your new Bluehost name server information:
Next, go to the registrar where your existing domain is currently registered (Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc.). You will need to enter the above information in the appropriate place. This varies among registrars so I recommend you call them if it’s not clear.
Once you’ve done that, hop up to the “So I have a blog, now what?” section above.
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site.
There are several things you may want to do at this point.
- Learn WordPress basics – Visit my Contents page for an organized list of all my tips, tools & tutorials. Check out the WordPress section in particular.
- Find a theme (design) that you like – Here is my post about choosing a WordPress theme and what I use.
- Sign up for The Useletter® – It’s hard to keep up with the latest info about blogging, online business and social media. I wade through the internet and send out bite-sized tips every Saturday morning. It’s completely free and very popular.
Was this post helpful? If so, would you consider sharing it with others who might appreciate it as well? Simply use the sharing buttons below. Thanks!