Skip the introduction and get to the first step of starting a blog.
The number of websites existing online reached 1 billion a few years ago. Most experts stopped counting from then on.
A large percentage of these sites are blogs, and new ones are getting published every minute.
And yet, so many people are wondering how to start a blog and aren’t sure where to begin.
There’s too much information on the topic of setting up your own blog and what to do from then on, that most people are overwhelmed and just put off creating a site of their own for later.
But you don’t need to do this. Later might become never, and by not being a blogger you’re missing out on a ton of opportunities.
Getting better at blogging, building an audience and eventually making money take time. But what matters is that you build a blog today and start learning the process step by step.
So many people have asked me things like
- How do I start a blog?
- What’s the best platform to use?
- How do I choose hosting and make the site live?
- How much does it cost to have my own website in just a few minutes?
- What does it take to make money from your blog?
- Do I need any special knowing before setting it up?
- What should I know before publishing my first blog post?
- How do I build traffic?
- How do I make my blog look professional, like the ones I’m already following?
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself similar questions. Well, starting a blog is easy, what comes next though takes time and trial and error.
But you’ll never regret hitting publish, it just takes a bit of courage to do it.
That’s why I created this free guide for you.
It’s not only the knowledge you need to create your own blog and pick up a domain name for it, set up hosting and install WordPress in a few easy steps, begin using your dashboard and the help of some free tools and services, write and publish content the right way, set goals and build your personal brand around your website, have a newsletter that your readers can sign up for and start building your audience, promote your blog and also monetize your platform in different ways.
All that is necessary for you to starting a blog in 2017, and skipping one step will mean you’ll be left behind.
Once you go through this guide, you’ll have enough knowledge to be a real blogger and begin your quest to making money from this business venture, and turn it into your full-time career after some time.
All that is possible with the fantastic platforms we have the chance to use these days.
If you haven’t built a blog yet, 2017 is the time for you to do it.
Let’s get to action.
Easiest Way to Start a Blog in 2017
Here’s what you’ll learn in this blogging guide (you can skip to any part you’d like):
- Best Place to Start a Blog
- Choosing a Domain Name
- Getting Web Hosting for Your Site
- Installing WordPress and Making it Live
- Log into Your New Blog and Use The Dashboard
- Choose a Theme
- Install The Most Important Plugins
- Keep Your Site Under Control with The Right Tools
- Write and Publish Your First Blog Post
- Make Your Content Error-Free
- How to Write Regularly
- Optimize Your Blog Content
- Promote Your Blog
Step 4: Make Money from Your Blog
- Focus on Providing Value First
- Build Traffic
- Monetize Your Site with Ads
- Try Affiliate Marketing
- Create Your Own Product
Additional Tips to Stand Out after Starting a Blog
- Set Up an Email List
- Get to Know Your Audience
- Have a Business Email for Free
- Create Your Personal Brand around Your Blog
- Grow Together with Your Blog
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate, which means I’ll earn a small commission in case you decide to buy a product or sign up for a service through them. This adds no cost to you, but helps keep this site sustainable.
In order to set up a site, you need a few elements. That’s a domain name, a hosting provider, and a content management system (so that you don’t need to use any code to have a functioning and beautiful site).
In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to get the 3 right and do it using some of the best platforms out there.
The easiest way to start a blog is by using wordpress.org and create a self-hosted site that you’ll have almost full control over.
That’s the open-source content management system Let’s Reach Success is built on, together with more than 15,886,000 other websites.
How the site looks like depends on the theme you’ll choose, which is also highly customizable, and what people can do with it (comment, buy stuff, share, contact you through the site, watch videos, become a member, etc.) depends on the widgets and plugins you’ll add, which are basically the features that are already coded for you, and which you just need to install and start using.
The only thing that confuses some people in the beginning is that there are two versions of WordPress – wordpress.com and wordpress.org
The main differences are that with the former you can only write and publish content, your domain ends in wordpress.com, you don’t really own the platform, can’t monetize it, and are limited in terms of features (there aren’t any plugins, only widgets).
With the WP.org, though, you can finally say you have something you control on the Internet. And the possibilities there are endless. But even if you don’t want to make something big out of your site, and just want it to present your brand, look professional, or else, it’s still worth going for the org version.
My experience looks like this: I was using WP.com for maybe 1.5-2 years, before I wanted to be able to do more with it. That’s because I didn’t really know what the platform offered and I didn’t really believe in what I was doing.
But I’m a writer before anything else, and did built some traffic initially. That’s when I started feeling comfortable with the digital world and found out how someone can create big things on the Internet, and learned a lot about online marketing.
Then, I got a domain name (from WordPress.com, although it’s as easy to get it from your hosting provider), chose a hosting company (Bluehost), and installed WordPress.org on it (with one click).
Turns out, I made the right choices and that’s still the easiest way to start a blog in 2017. Most of the bloggers I was already a fan of, and most of the popular sites out there, were doing the same.
So let me save you the hassle of going through a ton of tutorials on starting a blog , and just show you the steps you need to take to make your site live.
In the digital world, they say that the riches are in the niches.
There are 2 ways you can go about this: you can either choose a broad subject (like personal development) and niche down once you find your voice and have some readers. Or you can start blogging about something specific, which you have enough knowledge about, and see where that takes you.
Make sure you know something about the topic you’ll cover, but also be interested in it, care about the problem you’ll solve with your content, and make sure there are others out there wanting to read about it.
You can dominate even a crowded niche if you’re serious about it, publish content frequently, include your unique voice, establish yourself as an authority in the field, and hang around long enough to be noticed and get traffic.
Once you find your niche, choose a domain name connected to it. That’s how your site is called, in my case it’s letsreachsuccess.com
When it comes to choosing a hosting company, the options are many. Some are popular, others are new. Some are cheaper, others offer more options and plans.
Something you can’t go wrong with, though, is Bluehost.
That’s what I’m using here on Let’s Reach Success, that’s what most of the sites you’re visiting daily are hosted on, and that’s what experts refer to as one of the top hosting companies of 2017.
What’s more, once you create a profile, you get a domain name for free for the first year (so that makes one of the 3 elements of your new site a no-brainer), and there’s a one-click install for WordPress.
Wondering why you need a hosting provider and to pay for this service?
Well, it’s the surest way to know your site will be up and running every morning when you wake up, and that its data will be stored in a secure server, being handled by the specialists of the hosting company of your choice.
It’s about safety and performance.
Again, with their package, you get a free domain and a free one-click installation of WordPress so that you can create your site and blog.
They are trusted by most of the marketing and online gurus, and power millions of sites on the Web. Starting a blog has never been easier and more secure.
Step 1: Sign up and get your domain name.
Go to Bluehost and click the ‘Get Started Now’ button.
1. Choose your plan.
Assuming you’re just starting a website, be it to have a blog, begin making some money online, offer your freelance services, sell products, or have a platform on your own online to build your brand, go with the basic plan.
2. Choose a domain name.
Here’s what you’ll see on the next page you’re taken to:
You should have thought about it already. If not, take your time now.
If you already have a domain, you can use it now and still get a WordPress site on Bluehost in a matter of minutes. Just use the second field on the scree.
3. Create an account.
The next page you’ll be taken to is where you’ll add your information and chose a payment method.
Note: You should sign up for at least 12 months to get the other benefits Bluehost offers. But also to make sure you give your site a year to rank in Google and become a trusted platform. It’s not worth paying for just a month or a few.
What’s more, that’s the only way to ensure your domain name is yours and yours only.
Then, check all the details you just filled in, together with the final price, and complete your Bluehost registration to proceed with the next step.
Note: There are some add-ons that will be recommended to you and even included in your package. These are things such as Domain Privacy and Site BackUp Pro. You can easily uncheck them if you just want to test things with this first WordPress site of yours and see how serious you’ll get about it.
Congrats! You now have a domain name and a hosting provider.
Let’s install the actual site on them and create your own digital empire.
Step 2: Install WordPress with the One-click Installation of Bluehost.
When you’re logged in your Bluehost account, click on Hosting in your Cpanel.
Note: You can always log in at
Scroll down to the ‘wordpress’ section and click Install WordPress.
The next screen will give you a big ‘Install’ button.
You’ll now need to select which domain to install it to from the dropdown menu.
Bluehost also gives you the option to decide whether to have www. in the url or not. The shorter, the better.
By clicking ‘Show Advanced Options’ underneath it, you’ll see a few more fields.
These are your site name, admin username and admin password.
The first you should know by now. The other 2 should be secure enough so that hackers can’t easily guess them.
That’s how you’ll be entering the back end of your site once it’s installed, after all.
Note: Remember to save these for future references.
Also check the field saying “Automatically create a new database for this installation”
After that, you’re ready to hit the ‘Install’ button and see the creation of your site.
Give it a minute or two. Close the window only when it says that the installation is complete.
You must have received an email from Bluehost that very minute too.
Congrats! You’re the owner of a WordPress site on Bluehost hosting now.
And your online journey is about to officially begin.
The email you just received includes 3 important things.
Your username and password for entering the dashboard of your new WordPress website, and also a special admin login url that no one else will have.
Save these as you’ll be using them often.
So, you log in and see a dashboard. Now what?
If you’ve never used a content management system like that, or even seen a dashboard, no worries.
Starting a blog was the key step. Using your WordPress dashboard is pretty easy and soon you’ll do all the possible things on WordPress effortlessly.
From now on, and what would possibly become your hobby and main free time activity over the next few weeks, you’ll be creating content and adding widgets and plugins to your site to let it do all the amazing things that it can.
In your dashboard you’ll be seeing general stuff such as your blog traffic (not official data from Google Analytics, though, more on that later), all your posts and pages, comments, and other general info.
On top of the screen is where you can quickly add a page, post, media or else by clicking ‘New’.
Sometimes, after installing a caching plugin for instance, you’ll see other items added there. You might be able to delete unnecessary data from your site, or take other actions from that place.
What’s important is on the left side of the screen.
Below you’ll see how you’ll be able to install the so-called plugins. Then you’ll see them added to the dashboard too.
Now you have Jetpack already. WordPress are closely related to them and this is installed for you.
They offer you plenty of options, so don’t hesitate to go to Jetpack, and click Settings now.
You can activate some interesting features such as speeding up images, adding custom content types (testimonials and portfolios), add a like button to your posts, add sharing buttons (although I’ll show you how to do that better by installing a plugin, so wait till you read it first).
With Jetpack you can also generate an xml sitemap for your site (which is important for optimization, more on that later), verify your site with major search engines (will show you a more pro way to do that in a minute), block suspicious-looking sign in activity, and more.
Just a few clicks, and you now have more features on your site activated.
There’s more in the sidebar for you. There you can access all your posts, pages, media, comments, feedback and users.
The Appearance tab is where the customization happens mostly, in terms of design. We’ll use it in a minute.
You’ll also find interesting things under Settings.
For example, by clicking Settings and then going to Permalinks, you’re able to choose the url structure for anything you publish.
I suggest you go there now and click Post name. This will make every link that’s created for new pages and posts on your site easier to remember and better looking. No need to add extra stuff in it, such as dates or else, as Google wants to know what the text is about. You can state that by leaving only the most important words (the keywords) of your blog title in the url.
What we’re talking about is the part of any link to your site that comes after your domain and .com (or whatever you’ve chosen).
That can happen by clicking Appearance, then Themes, on the sidebar on the left. Now click ‘Add New’ on the page.
Although you’re already given one of the default ones, there’s a huge number of free ones out there that will answer your needs better.
A theme is basically the layout of your site, the design that’s already coded for you and which you simply install and activate.
The WordPress theme directory offers thousands of choices for free.
All look extremely good, and none of that was possible decades ago when everyone needed to use html and css to create a basic page and design templates for their websites.
Now, however, it’s all a matter of clicking a button and giving your site a whole new look.
You could make it look like a magazine, news blog, a portfolio site, or just use a one-page template to present your business.
While getting a free theme is alright in the beginning, when you’re still getting to know everything that goes together with owning a WordPress website, a premium one is what you’ll get your hands on eventually.
The main reason is simple. Cleaner code is guaranteed, and that’s yet another factor Google uses when deciding if a site should be ranked high and if a domain deserves to be given more authority.
If you want to check out some premium themes, ThemeForest are killing it.
If you’re wondering what theme I’m using for this site and want something similar, it’s this one.
After going through the steps above, your WordPress site is now up and running, visible in search engines, and you can even start writing some posts on it.
But to make the most of what the open-source platform offers, you’ll need to install some plugins.
- Wordfence – #1 security plugin for your WordPress site;
- AddToAny – add social media buttons anywhere in your pages;
- WPtouch Mobile – make your site mobile-friendly;
- Cache plugin – I’m currently using WP Super Cache. The other best choice is W3 Total Cache;
- WP-Optimize – clean up your database;
- Yoast SEO – without a doubt, the #1 SEO WordPress plugin.
- MonsterInsights – best Google Anlytics plugin for WordPress;
- Smush Image Optimization and Compression – resize all your images at once, and then automatically any new one you upload;
- Pretty Link – make your links shorter, and track clicks;
- Sumo – a set of free tools to grow your email list, boost conversions and traffic, encourage social shares, and more;
- Post Adverts – what I’m using to insert ads in the content.
Identify the key metrics and use tools to get detailed reports.
There are enough free resources to help you get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t. Google Analytics will tell you who exactly is visiting your blog, how long they are staying there, what keywords they typed in before finding your site, and at what stage of the buying process they abandon the shopping cart and change their mind.
It’s also important to do the same with Google Webmasters Tools and connect these two.
This is what Google uses to connect with site owners and let them know about potential errors in their pages or non-indexed content.
There you can also choose the preferred domain. If you don’t do that, your site will basically have 2 possible destinations and traffic will be split (to both letsreachsuccess.com and www.letsreachsuccess.com, for instance).
When I got https, these were 4 options for me. When setting one, though, all others get redirected to it and you can be sure that however your url is typed in search engines, people will land on the same place.
Then, there’s Google AdWords – Google’s main source of revenue that allows you to promote your site/product with ads. I have it, but only use one of its free tools – Google Keyword Planner – when deciding on the primary keyword to create a piece of content around and also wanna check all related keyword phrases.
If you want to put ads on your platform, then you’ll sign up and wait for approval from Google AdSense.
Other tools to help you monitor your website:
• Pingdom Speed Test – Test your site’s speed and see what can be improved.
• Alexa – Check your rankings, together with some basic demographics and keywords info.
Such monitoring should become a habit of yours. Run such tests every 2 weeks or once a month, see exactly what data the reports give you, and do your own research on any issue your find. Then, take action.