by Steven Chang
Updated on 11/30/2013
This tutorial has taught thousands of people how to start a blog, and how to promote and write a successful blog, even for people who are technically challenged.
Whether you are setting up a blog for your own personal use, or for business and profit, at the end of this step-by-step tutorial you should be able to go from completely clueless to having your very own fully-functional blog.
Here are some blogs that our readers have built following this tutorial (please contact me if you have started a blog following this tutorial and would like to be featured here):
Part of planning your blog is to decide whether to go with a free blog service, such as:
Or pony up a few (Star)bucks to get a self-hosted blog. Be sure to read “free blog service vs. self-hosted blog” before taking a plunge, but if you are serious about blogging I highly recommend you go with a self-hosted blog with your own domain name.
Here is the table of contents for the tutorial. You may click on any step below to jump straight to it, but I recommend you follow each step as outlined here:
Step 1: Start with a purpose
Step 2: Register a domain name
Step 3: Buy web hosting
Step 4: Point your domain name to your web host
Step 5: Check that your domain name is live
Step 6: Install the blog software
Step 7: Customize your blog
Step 8: Start blogging, and your free “35 Best Practices for Bloggers” guide
Q & A: Questions & Answers about blogging
Affiliate link notice: I earn a commission if you make a purchase through resource links in this tutorial. I only recommend products and services that I’ve personally used or extremely familiar with. I look forward to reading your blog!
Step #1: Start with a purpose
Have in your mind very clearly what your blog is about. In fact, don’t even think about starting a blog until you have thought this through.
Ask yourself what you are passionate about, and see how you can enrich* the lives of others with your passion.
To help you discover your own passion, ask yourself…
What do I do in my spare time?
What is the one thing I never get sick of doing, even if I’m not paid to do it
Chances are, you spend most of your time doing things that are not by choice (ie. go to work doing something you don’t love). But when you finally have some of that “me” time, what is that you do?
Then ask yourself these questions and make sure you have definitive answers before you set up your blog:
What is the purpose of my blog?
What value am I providing with my blog?
What am I selling** with my blog?
What can my readers expect to get out of my blog?
* If your blog is a self-serving one, then you may want to reconsider. I challenge you to start a blog that will not only enrich yourself, but also help others.
** Selling is not always evil. In fact, if you are selling something people are looking to buy, then you have just helped them (and in turn helped yourself). A good way to sell through your blog is by providing reviews of products that you personally own and have experience with – it’s truly a win-win as demonstrated by this very blog. If you are looking to make money from your blog, you have to sell something! If you are answer is “advertising”, buzz, sorry, wrong answer, please go back to the drawing board.
Step #2: Register your domain name
Getting a domain name is probably one of the most exciting part of starting a blog. I personally can spend days just trying to come up with a cool domain name.
If this is a personal blog, or if you are a professional, you may want to secure YourName.com before someone (with the same name as you) gets it.
Go to http://www.wholesalerdomains.com and start searching for your desired domain name:
Ideally you would want to include your topic in your domain name. For example, if your blog is a collection of funny email forwards, then something like “funnyonly.com” would do just fine – sorry it’s taken, and that’s my wife’s blog
You may have to keep trying new names as good names are most likely registered by someone else. Search for the .COM of your desired domain name, if you absolutely can not find a .COM of your liking, then you may have to settle for a .NET or a .ORG web address extension.
Here is list of pre-fix and post-fix that may go well and help you come up with a cool domain name for your blog.
It may also be a good idea to register the 3 most common extensions (.COM, .NET, and .ORG) of your domain name to secure your “brand.”
Step #3: Buy Web Hosting
I run many blogs and websites, so I spread my sites across different hosting companies. Here are a few web hosting companies that I recommend and have personally used for years:
Hostgator ($3.96/month) – see below for instruction on how to get your 1st month hosting for $0.01 (1 penny).
For beginners, I recommend Hostgator – go with Hatchling plan if you plan to have just one blog. Their Baby Plan allows you to host as many websites/blogs as you wish.
When you sign up, be sure to enter the coupon code “1CENT” before you checkout so your first month’s fee is only $0.01 (yes, 1 cent!):
So, for around $50/year you can have a blog with your own .COM domain name – later I will show you how to earn an income through advertisements and other means that will not only cover the cost of running a blog, but create a nice revenue generator (and turn it into a real business if you would like – be sure to subscribe to my blog to learn more!).
After you purchase web hosting you should receive an email with your account information – this is important so please save it! In that email it will also tell you what the Nameservers are for the web host – note that down because you will be needing it next.
Step #4: Point your domain name to the web host
Login to your WholesalerDomain.com account and click on the “Domain Manager” menu link. A new window will pop up and your domains will be listed. Click on the domain name and you will see this screen:
Now click on “Set Nameservers” and copy and paste the 2 Nameservers your web host has provided you.
Step #5: Check that your domain is pointing to the web host
If you do not see a default Hostgator welcome page, then grab a coffee and start writing your initial blog content, and give it some time and check back again.
Step #6: Point-and-Click install the blog software
When it comes to choosing a blog software, WordPress is by far the most popular blogging software being used.
In fact, it is so popular that the web host’s control panel has a point-and-click installation available (long gone are the days of FTP and HTML editor!).
Login to your web hosting’s control panel (usually cPanel) by going to:
and substitute yourdomain.com with your actual domain name, then type in your login credentials (check your web host welcome email, it should be in there).
Once logged in, scroll down in the cPanel and you should see an icon that says “Fantastico” – this is the tool we want to use to install your blog:
Once you get to Fantastico you will be presented with a bunch of software that you will be able to click-install (okay, don’t get too excited now!).
Click on “WordPress”:
Then “New Installation”:
Then proceed to completing the installation form (read the form instructions!) and the rest of the installation steps:
Note: Do not worry about screwing things up or if you have entered the wrong information here. Things can always be reverted back or changed once the blog is set up.
Once installation is complete your blog should be up and running! Check out your blog by typing your domain name in the browser.
Step #7: Customizing your blog
Just head over to http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ and browse or search for a theme that fits your topic.
Alternatively, there are themes that you can buy which makes your blog stand out even more (they tend to be more feature rich and only a limited number of people use the same theme as you).
Once you’ve got a theme picked out, go ahead and download the theme file (a .zip file).
Now go back to your web host’s cPanel account (http://yourdomain.com/cpanel -> substitute yourdomain.com with your real domain name) and click on File Manager icon:
Then you would want to browse to public_html/[blog root]/wp-content/themes folder
If you installed your blog in the root directory then it will simply be public_html/wp-content/themes
Once you are in the /themes folder click on “Upload file(s)” link and upload the theme zip file you’ve downloaded.
Once the file is uploaded the zip file will show up in the file manager. Click on the file name and then click on “Extract File Contents:
Now the theme is ready to be activated. Go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and login to the WordPress Dashboard (this is where you can post/edit/delete blog posts and pages, and change settings for your blog).
Once logged in click on Appearance -> Themes link and you will see a thumbnail of the newly uploaded theme under “Available Themes”:
Step #8: What’s next?
Start by creating your “About me” or “About us” page that tells the world what your blog is all about and what your readers can expect. A mission or vision statement will fit nicely in this page if you choose to.
Then go ahead and set up your initial blog post categories. You can always add/edit/move categories in the future as you see fit.
Now, would you like to:
- Improve your blog
- Earn significant money with your blog
- Become more savvy with your blog design
- Increase traffic to your blog
- Increase comments on your blog
- Draw high quality partners to your business with your blog
- All of the above?
I have put together a special report for you – 35 Best Practices For Bloggers – that you can download and learn all the secret tips & techniques to make your blog successful.
Take a look at some of the tips you’ll find in this report…
7 Ways to Write Great Blog Headlines
7 Ways to Get Great Ideas for Blog Posts
7 Ways to Get More Comments at Your Blog
7 Ways to Make Money from Your Blog
7 Ways to Improve Your Blog Design
Even if you take just one of these 35 tips I give you I promise you will see an improvement in your blog
Q & A: Questions, Comments?
Did this tutorial help at all? Do you have any questions about blogging, or any technical questions? Was anything missing or something you would like to add?
Please use the comment form below to give me your feedback.
Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more nifty blogging tips & tricks; receive case studies of successful blogs and how you can do the same; get free information on how to start a blog and make money from it; how to start a blog for your business, become famous, get out of debt, lose weight, or whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life – believe it or not, a blog can help you do all that!