A Complete Guide on How to Start a Blog 2019

How to Start a Blog, featured image

Are you looking to start a blog? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this complete guide, we will run you through exactly how to create a blog from scratch. We will cover how to…

  • Choose a blogging platform (we recommend WordPress.org).
  • Pick a domain name.
  • Sign up with a hosting provider (we recommend SiteGround).
  • Install WordPress.
  • Select and install a blogging theme.
  • Customize your new blog.
  • Write and publish your first blog post.

By following our step by step instructions, you will quickly have your new blog up and running in no time at all. Let’s get started…

Step 1: Choose a Blogging Platform (we recommend WordPress.org)

WordPress.org Start a Blog

When starting a blog, the first step of the process is to choose which blogging platform to use. As mentioned already, we recommend using the free content management system WordPress.org. Here’s why…

  • Free – WordPress is free, always has been, and always will be. (Although bear in mind you will still need to purchase hosting and a domain name for your blog).
  • Customizable – WordPress is 100% customizable, enabling you to create a blog to your exact specifications. There are also numerous ways to edit your site, including using the theme options panel or the live customizer, installing a page builder plugin, or altering the code, which makes WordPress a great option for beginners and experts alike.
  • Scalable – As your blog and visitor numbers grow, you need a platform that can scale your business as needed. There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes, plugins, and other tools and services that can add extra features and functionality to your site should you wish. Therefore, however big your site gets, WordPress can accommodate your needs.
  • Support – WordPress is supported by a global community. From blogs and help forums to WordPress developers and designers, you will find that if you have any problems or questions as you are setting up your blog, there are plenty of avenues of support.

There are, of course, many other blogging platforms to choose from. And arguably, many of the all-in-one website builders, such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, provide a very quick setup.

However, crucially, these all-in-one website builders do not provide the same flexibility, customization options, and control that you will get with WordPress. So although your blog won't be up and running in minutes, WordPress can support your project for the duration.

It is also worth noting that all of the website builder solutions work on a monthly subscription basis. As your blog grows and you need to access more blogging tools, you will find your monthly payments quickly increase. WordPress, on the other hand, will always be free.

Hopefully, you are now sold on WordPress… let’s next look at how to pick a domain name for your new blog…

Step 2: Pick a Domain Name

Domain Name Generator - Start a Blog

Choosing a domain name can be a frustrating process. Not only does it take time to decide on a good domain name, often people find that when they come to register, the name it has already been purchased by someone else. So, here are some top tips when trying to find the right domain name for your new blog…

  • Keep it short and simple – Try and keep your domain name short and simple, using words that are memorable for your audience, as well as easy to spell.
  • Use keywords – If possible try and create a domain name that is relevant to your blog’s niche and contains keywords that you want your content to rank for. This will help to reinforce your blog’s identity, as well as help your blog to rank well in the search engines.
  • Try a domain generator – If you are struggling for ideas then using a domain name generator may help. Lean Domain Search from Automattic will provide you with thousands of domain name suggestions. Simply type in the keyword(s) you want to use in your domain and then Lean Domain Search will pair your words with other popular or relevant phrases.
  • Consider other top-level domains (TLDs) – There are multiple TLDs to select from (a TLD is the domain extension, for example, .com or .net). Although .com is always the recommended domain extension, if this is taken or has a very high purchase price, then opting for another TLD may be a good option.

Once you have found the best domain name, you will need to register it via a domain registrar. Although you can buy a domain name through any domain registrar, the easiest option is to purchase your blog’s domain name via your hosting provider.

So let’s now look at how to buy hosting (and a domain name) for your blog…

Step 3: Sign Up With a Hosting Provider (we recommend SiteGround)

SiteGround web hosting platform

There is an array of hosting providers to choose from, all offering a slightly different selection of plans, features, and prices. Here at aThemes, we recommend SiteGround as it provides affordable, high-quality hosting, plus a lot of extra useful features to ensure your website performs at its optimal level.

SiteGround offers a range of hosting options, including shared, managed WordPress, cloud, and dedicated hosting. However, for anyone starting a new blog, the entry-level SiteGround shared hosting plan StartUp, is a great choice.

SiteGround Plans

Let’s have a look at its top features…

  • 1 website, 10 GB of web space, 10,000 monthly visits.
  • One-click WordPress install.
  • Automatic WordPress updates.
  • Free SSL certificates.
  • Free Cloudflare CDN.
  • Unlimited email accounts at your domain (e.g. me@mydomain.com).
  • 24/7 Support.

The StartUp plan will cost you just $3.95 a month (one-year minimum term). SiteGround also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives you peace of mind that if you sign up but then decide this isn’t the hosting provider for you, you can receive a full refund.

SiteGround has a quick and easy sign-up process. To get started, simply open SiteGround’s shared hosting web page and under StartUp click on the Get Plan button.

SiteGround StartUp hosting plan

SiteGround will then ask you to register your new domain. Type in your domain name and select an extension such as .com or .net. If your domain name is not available with the extension you have selected, SiteGround will provide you with some alternative TLDs to choose from.

SiteGround Choose Domain

Once you have selected an available domain name, you will next need to fill in some personal details, including address and payment information.

SiteGround Personal Info

Next, check out the Purchase Information section. Here, you will need to select whether you want to commit to a 12, 24, or 36-month plan, as well as a few other extra services, including domain name registration and domain privacy. The StartUp plan renews at $11.95 per month after the initial term is over. Therefore, the longer you sign up for, the more money you save long term.

Start a Blog - Purchase Info

After completing and checking all the information, click Pay Now. Once your payment has been processed, SiteGround will send you an email with your new account's login details.

Step 4: Install WordPress

Once you have signed up with a hosting provider, you are ready to install WordPress. With most big hosting companies, installing WordPress is very straightforward, and SiteGround is no exception.

To install WordPress with SiteGround, sign in to your new account and click on My Accounts. Then select the Go to cPanel option.

SiteGround cPanel - Start a Blog

Here, scroll down to WordPress Tools, and click on WordPress AutoInstaller.

WordPress AutoInstaller

Select the Install > Quick Install menu.

WordPress Quick Install

Now, scroll down the page and next to Choose Installation URL, select your domain name from the drop-down menu.

Choose Installation URL

Next, choose an admin username and password for your new WordPress site. You will also need to provide an email where these details will be sent. Then hit Install.

SiteGround Log in and Password

SiteGround will usually take less than a couple of minutes to install WordPress. You will then be able to log in to your new blog.

WordPress Installed

SiteGround provides a startup wizard to help ensure a smooth setup process. The wizard will help you with…

  • Choosing a theme – The wizard provides a number of free and premium themes to choose from (we will discuss selecting the right theme for your blog in the next section of this article). If you don’t select a theme through the wizard, SiteGround will install the free WordPress theme Twenty Seventeen.
  • Selecting plugins – Again, the wizard will display a number of free WordPress plugins that you may want to consider installing, depending on the needs of your blog. Plugins include WP Forms, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. If you aren’t sure if you will need this functionality then simply exit the wizard — you can always install these plugins at any time in the future.

Once the wizard has taken you through the startup steps, you are free to start creating your blog.

Step 5: Select and Install a Blogging Theme

There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes to choose from, so making a decision on the right one for your new blog can be daunting. When selecting the right theme for your website, consider your blog’s niche and what features you may need, as well as your budget.

Let’s find out more about choosing a theme…

Free Themes

WordPress.org themes

Free themes can be found at WordPress.org. These themes have been through stringent checks, so you can rest easy that any theme installed from the WordPress repository is high-quality. However, the drawback of installing a free theme is that many lack the features that premium themes provide. (Although remember you can install plugins to add any extra functionality you may need).

To find and install a free WordPress theme, select the Appearance > Themes > Add New sidebar menu within your WordPress dashboard.

Start a Blog - Add New Theme

You can now search and preview individual themes, or apply a filter to find themes containing specific features, or within a specific niche.

Feature Filter

Once you have decided on a theme, simply click Install > Activate. Here, we have chosen to install Fashionista, one of aThemes’ free blogging themes.

Activate Theme

You will now find the theme has been installed and is ready to customize.

Premium Themes

Premium Theme

Premium themes, on the whole, offer an extensive range of features and are a better option if you are looking to create an attractive, professional, and successful blog. Most theme developers will also provide a high-level of support for premium themes, which can be very useful when you are setting up your blog, or if you run into problems down the line.

Always make sure you purchase a premium theme from a reputable theme developer and check the theme’s reviews and ratings. Here are a few theme shops and developers that we recommend…

  • ThemeForest – A theme marketplace, ThemeForest sells thousands of WordPress themes catering for all industries and niches.
  • Elegant Themes – This high-end theme developer sells a selection of beautiful themes, including its flagship multipurpose theme Divi.
  • aThemes – The clever developers here at aThemes have crafted a selection of stunning free and premium themes, ensuring that whatever your project and criteria, there will be something for you.

Once you have made a purchase, you will need to download the theme as a .zip file. Then, within your WordPress dashboard, select Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme.

Add Premium Themes

You will now need to Choose and Upload the theme’s .zip file and then click on Install Now. Your premium theme will now be installed on your WordPress website.

Step 6: Customize Your New Blog

Once your new WordPress theme is installed, it is time to customize your new blog. Most new themes will allow you to do this on the front-end of your site through the Customizer. (Bear in mind the customization options will vary depending on the theme you have installed).

To open the Customizer, select Appearance > Customize.

Customizer

The Customizer will now open on the front-end of your site.

Start a Blog - Live Customizer

Let’s have a look at some of the key settings that you may want to alter…

  • Site Identity – Here, you can add your site’s title and tagline as well as your site’s icon (favicon).
  • Menus – Edit the menus and change the location of where they are displayed.
  • Colors – Change your site’s colors (text, background, titles, etc).
  • Fonts – Alter the typography for the headers and body of the text.
  • Widgets – Decide which widgets you would like to display in your header, footer, and sidebars.

By editing your site through the Customizer, you can create a style that is original and unique to your blog and helps your site stand out from the crowd.

You may also want to add an About and Contact Page to your blog, as well as installing some essential plugins.

Step 7: Write and Publish Your First Blog Post

Once you are happy with the look of your site, next you can create your first blog post. To do so, select Posts > Add New within your WordPress dashboard

Start a Blog - Add a Post

Give your new post a title, and then start writing. Click on the + icon to add a new block (e.g. a new paragraph, heading, list, or quote).

Start a Blog - Editor

To add an image to your blog post, select either the + or the Add Image icon.

Editor Upload Image

You can then opt to upload an image, select an image from the Media Library, or insert a URL. For a good selection of free stock images, check out Pixabay or Pexels. Alternatively, for top-quality photographs, images, and other design elements, check out the premium service Shutterstock.

On the right-hand side of the page, under Documents, there are a number of settings to configure. Let’s check out a few of the most important…

  • Featured Image – Add a featured image to your blog article to grab your reader’s attention.
  • Categories – Assign your article a category to help organize your content and help your audience easily find relevant articles.
  • Discussion – Decide whether to allow your readers to comment on your article.

At the top of the page, you can Preview your article on the front-end of your site to check how it will appear to your audience. Once you are happy with your new blog post, click the Publish button.

Final Thoughts on How to Start a Blog

As you can see, starting a blog is a quick and easy process. Moving forward, make sure you blog consistently, publishing new, interesting, and unique content on a regular basis. You should also look to grow a following on social media — promote your content to your social audience and encourage them to read and share your blog articles. Then, once your blog begins to see a high amount of regular traffic, you can begin to monetize it. Good luck!

Any questions on how to start a blog? If so, please ask away in the comments below…

Megan Jones

Megan is a freelance writer who loves all things WordPress. She currently lives in Brighton UK with her partner and two small children. When she isn't online she likes walking by the sea, coffee, and traveling anywhere and everywhere. She is available for hire so check out her site jonesblogs.com.

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