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How to Start a Blog 2018
Ultimate Guide

Welcome to GoStartABlog's ultimate guide on how to start a blog! Anna and I are so glad that you joined us here today.

We built this guide to cut through the noise and give you everything you need to set up your first blog in less than 30 minutes. No analysis paralysis, no intimidation, just easy to follow tutorials where we walk you through each step so you feel confident and prepared for your blogging journey.

If you have any questions or run into any issues we are just an email away. We will personally respond to all emails and make sure that you have everything you need to be successful.

Let's start your blogging adventure together right now!

Welcome Video

    Starting a Blog in Five Steps:


What is a Blog?

Technically speaking, a blog is a website or web page that is regularly updated. It’s typically run by an individual or a small group and written in an informal or conversational style.

Your blog will be a place to express yourself by sharing your knowledge, thoughts, passions, and viewpoints. You can make it anything you want it to be.

Your blog can be an online journal where you just write stories about your life. Or you can make your blog specific to a single topic. There are blogs about sports, fashion, makeup, travel, parenting, pets, technology, politics… the list goes on and on.

With passion, time, and effort, you can become a successful blogger!


Why Start a Blog?

You should create a blog because it's a great opportunity to pursue your interests, improve yourself, and have a ton of fun at the same time. If you want to know why I started my blog, check out our story here.

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    Improve Yourself
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    Connect with Others
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    Earn Money
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    Make a Difference
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    Promote Yourself or Business
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    Develop Your Professional Self
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    Live Forever​​​​
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    Because it is Cheap, Easy, and Fun!

Step 1: Choose Your Blog's Niche


For many of you visiting this page, you already have an idea of what you want to blog about and that's great. Jump to the next step.

If not, here are some questions to help you get started while you create a blog. In general, it's better to choose a topic that you love and are passionate about. That will make it easier to generate content, connect with your readers, and become a go-to resource.

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • ​When others call you for advice, what are they asking about?
  • If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
  • What topics do you enjoy reading about?

After you have a list of ideas, it's important to make sure it's going to work for you long-term. If you are successful, you will be blogging far into the future.

  • Are there enough topics to write about in my niche?
  • Can I see myself writing about this 6 months from now and will my readers view me as a go-to source?

For those of you who are still trying to decide, head over to our Choosing a Blog Topic post filled with information, statistics, exercises, and planning worksheets to help you choose the best topic for your blog.

Still stuck? That's OK! We started our first blog without a clear direction and we found it along the way. Don't hesitate to get started now and let yourself find your path as you go.


Step 2: Pick a Blogging Platform


There are 3 types of platforms on which you can build your blog: self-hosted, free, and freemium. We recommend self-hosted platforms based on control, flexibility, and cost.

This guide is specific to how to start a blog on WordPress with separate hosting. Our experience has shown us that it's the best way to build a blog.

The disadvantages of "free" and freemium platforms:

  • They have rights to your content.

    Free platforms can use and change your content however they want and if you want to move your blog, you have to rebuild it from scratch.
  • They hinder your ability to make money.

    They make money by placing ads on your blog. You can't take those ads off or add your own unless you pay them.
  • Few design and customization features.

    The design, layout, and functionality options are limited.
  • They end up costing at least 2x as much as self-hosted.

    You'll have to upgrade if: your audience grows and you need to support more traffic; you want to make money from your blog; you want to add functionality; you want to have your own domain name; you want backups in case something goes wrong; etc.


Using WordPress is the best way to build and maintain your blog because it has 150,000+ design and functionality options; you only have to pay for hosting (just $4/month); you can change hosts without rebuilding your site; and it's easy to use.

SiteGround is the WordPress host that we recommend because they offer the most uptime, peak performance, and have instant customer support. We've loved our experience with them and recommend them to anyone who will listen.

If you want to learn more, we talk in-depth about each type of platform, as well as detailing the benefits of using WordPress to build your blog in our Pick a Blogging Platform post.


Step 3: Launch Your Blog


If you're looking for a tutorial on how to start a blog, this is the step for you.

Let's launch your blog! In this step, we'll walk you through signing up for hosting with SiteGround and installing WordPress.

Click above to open SiteGround and get started.

SiteGround Sign Up


Signing up for hosting with SiteGround is simple to do. We’ll walk you through each step so you get exactly what you need. First we’ll help you choose a plan that fits your blog, choose a name for your new blog, and finally you’ll fill in your information, review your choices, and pay.

In the end, you’ll have your own domain and hosting for a full year for around $60. You may choose to add Domain Privacy at the end, which will make the total about $70. We’ll talk about that later and you can decide if you need it.

Choose Plan​

There are 3 different plans to choose from: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.

We recommend the StartUp plan since it provides plenty of space (10GB), supports up to 10,000 visits per month, and is the least expensive.​

It’s easy to upgrade at any time if your blog grows and you need more space.​

launch wordpress blog

StartUp

StartUp is the best choice if you’re starting out. 10GB of space and up to 10,000 visits per month is plenty for any new blog. And as your blog grows, you can upgrade at any time. It comes with a free domain, free daily backups, and free email accounts among other things.


GrowBig

As your blog grows, you may upgrade to GrowBig, which provides more space (20GB) and supports 25,000 visits per month. It’s also the best choice if you have more than one website. The GrowBig plan includes everything in the StartUp plan plus more backup copies and priority technical support. To be honest though, SiteGround’s basic support is already really good.​

GoGeek

GoGeek is meant for much larger websites, so it’s the best choice for businesses who have expect a lot of traffic. It offers 30GB of space and supports 100,000 visits per month. On top of everything included in GrowBig, GoGeek also offers some more technical features.


Remember


You can easily upgrade your plan at any time so starting with the cheapest plan (StartUp) works for most people.

Click the Order Now button of the plan of your choice. That will take you to the next step where you will enter in the domain name you’ve chosen.

Choose Domain​

Choosing the name for your blog can be a rabbit hole. 

Remember, it isn't the name of your blog that is going to make you successful, it's the quality of your content and your engagement with your readers. When you are making a blog, spend some time on the step, but don't go overboard because it isn't set in stone.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use your name

    You will instantly connect with your readers and create a personable first impression.
  • Use NameMesh

    Just put in a few keywords and it will put them together and look for synonyms. It will also tell you if the domain name is available so you aren't disappointed later.
  • See what other bloggers are using

    Use a search engine and see what your peer bloggers are using for names. It's a great way to jumpstart your creativity.


Still having trouble? Check out our Choosing Your Blog's Name blog post that is focused on choosing your blog's brand and name. It includes a ton of information and brainstorming exercises to help you make the right choices when building a blog.

There are two options on this page: Register a New Domain and I already have a Domain.

Register a New Domain


Most people don't already own a domain. If you fit into that category, then follow these directions:

  • Check Register a New Domain.
  • Type in the domain name you want.
  • Pay attention to the extension at the end.

    SiteGround offers a free domain for life as long as it has one of the popular extensions: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us, .nl

    If you want a different extension, it will come with a small registration fee.
  • Once you’ve entered your domain, click Proceed.

I Already Have a Domain


Some people already own their own domain. If you fit into that category, then follow these directions:

  • Check I already have a domain.
  • Type in the domain name you already own.

    SiteGround will transfer your website for free.
  • Once you’ve entered your domain, click Proceed.

install wordpress blog


SiteGround will then see if your domain is available. If it’s available, then it’s yours and you can move on to the next step where you review your choices. If not, in will recommend some other domains that are similar and you can choose one of them instead.

Review & Complete


This is the third and final step of signing up with SiteGround.

In the first 2 sections, you'll make an account with SiteGround and fill in your personal information.

signing up with SiteGround

Remember


Save your password. You'll need it later!

Payment is next! Fill in your credit card details.

Note: If your billing address is different than what you entered above: Uncheck the Billing Address is the same as given in the Contact Information box and fill in your billing address.

filling in billing information


In the last section, review the plan you chose and add any extras you want.

Review your hosting services. Check if the plan is the one you want (we recommend StartUp).

Choose the period you want to sign up for (12 months, 24 months, or 36 months).

Note: You get a special price for using GoStartABlog’s link to sign up. If you want to lock in that price for as long as possible, then choose 36 months. Otherwise, 12 months is great to start out with.

how to get a low rate with your wordpress host


Now look over the Extra Services. You have a few options.

First is Domain Registration. SiteGround provides this for free so it’s already selected.

Next is Domain Privacy. I recommend keeping this one. When you register a domain name, your personal information becomes available to the public through WHOIS. Domain Privacy protects it.

Here is an example of a site with privacy protection. Without it, the contact details shown will have your real information.

example of whois entry


Last is SG Site Scanner. It checks your website daily and lets you know if it’s been hacked or injected with a virus or malware. Most blogs don't need this extra service.

There are 2 main ways something could go wrong:

  • Someone stole your login information, used it to log in, and changed your website. If you have a strong password, this won’t happen.
  • WordPress has a vulnerability. Because WordPress is so big, any vulnerability will be detected and fixed right away. WordPress will notify you so SG Site Scanner would just be redundant.

On top of that, your site is backed up every day. If something goes wrong, you can simply restore it to what it looked like yesterday and move on.

extra hosting features you may not need

Remember


You can add SG Site Scanner at anytime if you find you need it.

All that’s left is to check that you read the Terms & Service and click Pay Now.

final confirmation when signing up with SiteGround


Congratulations! You now have a website and a hosting service.

You should see a page that says your account has successfully been created.

This means you can now start managing your website. You will also receive a welcome email with your account information within the hour.

Installing WordPress


Now it’s time to login to the customer area of SiteGround so you can install WordPress. Go to SiteGround.com and click Log In.

If you can’t remember your account information, don’t worry! SiteGround emailed you your login credentials.

how to login to SiteGround


Once you’re logged in, a popup will appear with the Setup Wizard. Select Get WordPress preinstalled on this account and click Proceed.

SiteGround's website setup wizard


Following along with the Setup Wizard, the next page has 2 parts.

First, enter your email in Admin Email and come up with a username and password.

Creating the login details for WordPress

Remember


This is different than your SiteGround login information. You will use this username and password to sign in to WordPress whenever you want to work on your blog.

Second, you will choose a theme. WordPress has many free themes to choose from. You can change your theme at any time so just pick one that looks good to you. Then click Submit.

Choosing a theme for wordpress through SiteGround


In the final part of the Setup Wizard, you will be congratulated on setting up your account and it will let you know that WordPress is now installed and ready to use.

You'll see all of the information you need to log in to WordPress and get started managing your blog (You will also get an email with all of this information).

In a new tab or a new window, go to the Admin URL. It will look like this:

<yourdomain>.com/wp-login.php

how to find your login and password after signing up with SiteGround


Enter your Username and Password and click Log In.

Note: This is what you will do every time you want to work on your blog.

This will take you to your WordPress Dashboard, where all the magic happens!


Step 4: Configure WordPress


Now that your blog is installed, you want to set up the initial pages on your site and get comfortable with using the WordPress platform. We recommend:

  • Deleting the default post and comment
  • Creating an About Me page that includes a few basic facts so they can learn about you
  • Creating your first blog post that introduces yourself to your readers and encourages them to connect with you through comments or email
  • Clicking and trying everything along the way


Don't be afraid to try out the various buttons and configuration options to see how they change your site.

WordPress has a lot of functionality and flexibility and the more you get to know it the more power you will have. There is no better way to learn than by doing.

If you want a more hands-on approach when using WordPress for the first time, head over to our Configure WordPress blog post. We have videos, pictures, and step-by-step instructions that will walk you through our recommended steps when you are starting out.


Step 5: Set Your Goals


Congratulations on building a blog! It is now time to set goals and plan the next steps in your blog. Goals will help you stay motivated and keep you on track.

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

Click to Tweet

Here are some great questions to ask yourself as you get your goals:

  • What do I want out of my blog?
  • What does successful look like?


Write down what you want to accomplish a week from now, a month from now, and a year from now with your blog.

Post it on your computer, above your door, or somewhere else where you will see it every single day. Remember, blogging successfully is about creating quality content and publishing it consistently to engage your readers.

If you need a little more help planning your blog and setting goals for yourself, we have a great resource for you in our Set Your Goals post. We will walk you through the same process we use to set our goals. It works great for us and it will make sure you are ready to make your blog a success.


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