How to Start a Blog: Step-by-Step Instructions
So you’re thinking about starting a blog, but you don’t have any idea where to start, right? Guess what—neither did we. We were clueless. When we created this blog a few years ago, we had no idea how to start a blog or how to be a blogger. Heck, we could hardly spell HTML, let alone build a blog.
But good news: it’s easier than you think. We’ve learned a ton of lessons during our ascent to 4 million readers. And now you can learn from our pain and suffering to circumvent much of the tedium involved in setting up a blog.
Here’s how we started our blog, step by step, followed by an instructional video, as well as additional rationale and insights:
- Domain and Hosting. The first thing we did when starting our blog was go to Bluehost and register our domain. We didn’t even need to set up a WordPress page first,Did a simple, free, “one-click” install of WordPress through Bluehost. When we had questions we were able to chat with the “live chat” folks at Bluehost for free. They pointed us in the right direction and made starting our own blog super easy.
- Theme. A good theme gives you the look and feel you want for your blog, allowing you to make a blog that looks exactly how youwant it to look. If you’re not a coder (we certainly weren’t), then a theme makes the design work a million times easier. Plus, once you purchase a theme, which are inexpensive for the time they save you, you own it for life. A theme has two halves: the framework (the bones) and the Child Theme (the beauty):
- Framework. There are several WordPress theme frameworks on the market, but Genesis is without a doubt the best and most flexible choice. Genesis is the first half of your theme. Many themes merely handle the aesthetics of your new blog, but Genesis provides a necessary foundation for your Child Theme. Simply go to StudioPress
- Child Theme. After you get your Genesis Framework, you’ll want to find the right Child Theme (which is just a silly way to say “blog design”). The Minimalists uses the beautiful “tru” theme, which is available at BYLT, the Genesis Community Marketplace. Head on over to BYLT, browse their carefully curated collection of themes, and find the design that’s right for you.
- Modify Your Blog. Once we had our domain, hosting, WordPress, and theme, we spent a lot of time tweaking the theme to get the look and feel we wanted (i.e., making our vision a reality). Then we spent even more time tinkering with the theme and arguing about it and tweaking it some more. Once we had created our blog, we set up a free Feedburner account so people could subscribe to our site via email and RSS subscriptions. And then we established a free Google Analytics account to track our stats. Feedburner and Google Analytics were both easy to sign up for, and we still use both today.
- Plugins. We use only a few plugins on our site: “Google Analytics for WordPress” and really simple Facebook and Twitter share-button plugins (since human beings are intrinsically wired to share value, it’s important to make your posts easy to share with others). They take just a few seconds (literally a few seconds, it’s just a click of a button) to install once you’ve started your blog. And if you really want to play around with some cool plugins, check out WPBeginner’s Best WordPress Plugins.
- Write Compelling Content. Last, via WordPress, we started writing and uploading the content for our pages: About Page, Contact Page, Start Here Page, Books Page, Tour Page, Archives Page, etc. Next, we designed our logo using free images we found online and text from a regular word-processing program. Then we put a picture of ourselves in the header (this is important because people identify with people, not logos). Finally we started writing new blog posts and publishing them regularly (at least once a week), accompanied by free photos from Unsplash, Pexels, and the Library of Congress. And the rest is history