How to Start a Blog in 3 Simple Steps
Looking to start a blog but you don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place!
Intro Video: 3 Simple Steps to Starting a Blog or Web Site (1 min.)
Welcome! My name is Joe Chapuis. I’ve been developing web sites and internet businesses since 1996, and this little guide is the answer to the most common question I’ve heard these past 18 years:
If you’re thinking about starting a Blog, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused right now. Don’t worry. I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know so you can start a blog in just a few minutes. So let’s get started!
The 3 Basic Steps to Start a Blog or Web Site
Step 1: Choose Your Blogging Platform
A “platform” is just a fancy name for the program that lets you create, manage and share content. If you want a great-looking site up and running as quickly, easily and inexpensively as possible — then WordPress is your platform.
Here are 5 big reasons why you'll love using WordPress to power your new web site (click to expand)
1 The price is rightPerhaps the best thing about WordPress is that it is absolutely free. Free to install, free to use and free to upgrade.
The only expenses associated with running a WordPress site are:
- Your Domain Name – About $10/year (I’ll show you how to get one for free); and,
- WordPress Hosting Fees – anywhere from $5 to $30/month on average, depending on your needs and budget (more on this below).
That’s it! Just think about it… You can easily develop your own WordPress web site or blog, and keep it running for an entire year, for less than what it would cost you to fill up the gas tank on your average SUV. Amazing…
2 A name you can trust
As of February, 2014, WordPress was the platform powering more than 75 million blogs worldwide, and nearly 20% of the top 10 million websites.
Since 2003, WordPress has earned the trust of some of the biggest companies and brands in the world to power their blogs. Sony, The Wall Street Journal, Samsung, People Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, Ebay and Yahoo are just a few of the big boys using WordPress.
The way I see it… if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
3 Easy to install
You do not have to be a computer expert or WordPress wiz to start your own WordPress blog or website. In the next few pages, the tutorials here at CreateABlogNow.com will walk you through the steps you need to take so you can do it yourself.
But if you prefer to have a professional do it instead, either I or one of my trusty assistants can install WordPress for you. And the best part… this service is available to you for free! (Learn more about our WordPress installation services.)
4 Easy to customize
Once you’ve got your WordPress blog up and running, it’s simple to modify the design and functionality of your site using third-party themes plug-ins. Changing the look and feel of your entire site is as easy as pushing a button. No knowledge of HTML or coding necessary.
Not only is it easy to use WordPress themes and plugins, there are thousands to choose from — many of them free. And if you’ve got the skills and you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can even create and develop your own custom themes.
5 Flexible and always being improved
WordPress is extremely flexible, and able to power any kind of site imaginable — including: ecommerce stores, multi-user group blogs, paid membership sites, personal “tumblogs,” travel blogs… From casual bloggers to Fortune 500 companies, WordPress offers a full spectrum of blogging and content management solutions. And the vibrant WordPress developer community helps ensure the system is frequently updated and improved.
OK – now that you know WordPress is the blogging platform you should use for your site (you’ll learn how to install it in the next step), it’s time to proceed to…
Step 2: Find a Great Home for Your Web Site
Every web site needs a home, and that home on the internet is your WordPress hosting provider (or simply, “web host”).
A web host is a company who rents you space on one of their computers or “web servers.” And there are thousands of them out there. Just remember this…
Almost any server can run WordPress. The secret is to partner with the right hosting company. This can make the difference between having a web site that puts a smile on your face, and one that makes you curse the day you ever thought, “Hmmm… I think I’ll start a blog!”
How to Choose the Right Hosting Company
I’ve tried at least a dozen different web hosting companies over the years (check out the my web hosting reviews for more information). Few have lived up to their claims and promises (but there are two that I recommend – see below). Fortunately for you, you get to benefit from my mistakes. Click the expandable info box below for a few important lessons I’ve learned about web hosting during my two decades of doing business online:
The Truth About Web Hosting (click to expand)
For beginners, trying to figure out where to host your web site can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare. And all of those technical terms don’t make it any easier. While you don’t need to worry about most of the tech jargon right now, there are few basic terms you should know:
The amount of data you can transmit to your web site visitors, usually on a monthly basis. Anything you add to your web site is data or information: pictures, text, video files, etc. The more people that visit your site, the more data you’ll be transferring out and the more bandwidth you’ll need. Bandwidth is more expensive and important than storage space.
This is the fixed amount storage that you are allocated for your data. If you have a lot of pictures on your web site, you’ll need more storage space. Don’t be wowed by the amount of storage space some companies offer when trying to get your business. It’s dirt cheap.
Shared Hosting, Managing Hosting, Dedicated Hosting… These are some of the different types of WordPress hosting plans available. You need to choose a company and plan based on your needs, experience and budget. (Click on the expandable info box below to learn more.)
There are different kinds of hosting plans available. The one that’s right for you depends upon your needs and experience. Here’s a quick summary of the five basic types of plans you’ll encounter:
- Free Hosting – Be careful… you get what you pay for
- Discount / Shared Hosting – A good, cheap option for beginners
- Shared VPS Hosting – More expensive, a step up from basic shared hosting
- Dedicated Hosting – Very expensive, just for pros
- Managed Hosting – An affordable option for people and businesses who need to take their web sites a bit more seriously. This is what I now use and recommend.
If you need help deciding on the type of hosting plan that’s right for you, each one is explained in greater detail in the expandable info box below or use a comparison site such as UK Web Host Review for more information.
Web Hosting Plans Explained (click to expand)
When it comes to finding a web host for your new blog or web site, there are five different kinds of web hosting plans to consider. Here’s a brief summary…
1 Free WordPress Hosting
Ooohhh… “Free” sounds nice, right?
Wrong… at least when it comes to web hosting.
Reiterating what I said moments ago: you tend to get what you pay for. Where does the money come from for free hosting solutions? Ads, and lots of ’em. That’s why sites hosted on free servers usually suffer from:
- Annoying advertisements popping up all over the place
- Shoddy customer support (if any at all)
- Terrible performance, on a good day
Cons: Everything else
Bottom Line: Avoid free WordPress hosting unless you want to look like an amateur, or you enjoy pulling out your own hair.
2 Shared WordPress Hosting
This is the most popular type of WordPress hosting for beginners. “Shared” means that many customers’ websites reside on a single web server, and the server’s resources (e.g., CPU and RAM) are shared by all the customers on the same machine.
Sounds good in theory. But if you plan to play the blogging game for a while, you’ll find shared hosting to be a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Eventually, you’ll abandon your shared host because you will:
- Get tired of having your site suffer due to the hoards of people visiting other sites on your shared server gobbling up all the system resources; and/or,
- Be “asked” by your web host to upgrade your account to a higher priced plan because you’re the one who is using up too much of the server’s resources.
Shared hosting summarized: A popular, cheap, and temporary hosting solution adequate for most beginners and amateurs.Pros: Price; Good for hobbyists
Cons: Limited control over the server (none, actually). Expect downtime due to heavy traffic on other sites on the server. Your web site will occasionally be slower than mud.
Bottom Line: A reasonable starting point if you’re on a budget and you’re not overly concerned about your site’s performance.
3 Virtual Private Server (VPS) WordPress Hosting
VPS hosting is a special setup where websites are hosted on the same physical machine, but VPS allows each website to be fully independent as if each were on its own separate machine.
It is similar to shared hosting in that you share the server with others, but what makes it different is that there are usually fewer customers on one machine, and you have much more control over the server and your site.Pros: Offers more control and better performance than basic shared hosting.
Cons: More expensive than shared hosting. Some experience required.
Bottom Line: A better option for those with experience and traffic. Not a good starting point for beginners, unless you select a “managed” server (see below).
4 Dedicated Server WordPress Hosting
A dedicated server is an actual physical server that you rent from a hosting provider. It’s all yours, and yours alone. They plug it in and set it up, and then you’re on your own. I’ve been running my own dedicated servers for the past ten years. Trust me, it’s not for the faint of heart.Pros: Total control
Cons: Total control; Expensive
Bottom Line: This is an option to consider once your traffic and experience grows. Until then, pretend you never heard the term.
5 Managed WordPress Hosting
Ahhh… now we’re talking.
Managed WordPress hosting is a niche segment of the web hosting industry that sprung up in the past few years due to the exploding popularity of WordPress, which now powers more than 75 million blogs worldwide.The main difference between “normal” web hosting services and managed WordPress hosting services is that those offering managed services focus on optimizing servers and sites for the best possible WordPress experience — for both the blog owner and the blog visitor.
With a managed plan, you give up a few options and some control (e.g., you can only run a WordPress site, you can’t tinker with the server). But in exchange, with a good managed WordPress blog hosting company, you’ll enjoy fewer headaches, superior performance and killer customer service.
The term “managed WordPress hosting” can roughly be translated as letting someone else worry about and take care of hassles such as:
- System upgrades
- WordPress updates
- Plugin conflicts (a BIG problem)
- Server load balancing
- Site optimization, security and back-ups
Although I’ve been building web sites for eighteen years, and running my own dedicated servers for nearly ten, I’ve decided to start moving my WordPress sites, and those of my clients, to the managed WordPress host below.
A few extra bucks a month is a small price to pay for the amount of time they help you save, not to mention the peace of mind you get from knowing your site is professionally optimized to run like a finely tuned engine. It’s a good feeling knowing someone’s always got your back.Pros: Faster site, fewer problems. You’ll sleep better and will spend less money on Motrin.
Cons: You give up some control (not always a bad thing). More expensive than shared hosting.
Bottom Line: Perfect for anyone (from beginners to pros) looking to have a fast-loading, smooth running web site.
Since you made it this far, you now know more about web hosting than 99.9% of the population. But you’re probably still wondering to yourself…
“So where should I host my web site?”
Here’s what I tell my friends…
Based on my own personal experience, you really can’t go wrong with either of the two web hosts below. They are both highly-rated, well-established web hosting companies which offer:
- One-click WordPress installation (this is important!)
- 24/7 technical support
- A no-risk, “try and see” money-back guarantee
Watch the video tutorials below to see how you set up your hosting account and install WordPress. After creating your account, we’ll then move on to configuring your new web site in Step 3…
- Need a blog or web site for business
- Plan to take your web site seriously
- Don’t want to worry about your site
- Think $19/month (with coupon) is a reasonable price to pay to ensure a fast-loading, smooth-running web site
Get 4 months free if you
sign-up for one year
Normal Price: $29/month
Discount Price: $19.33/month
You Save: $116
Use coupon code “ANNIVERSARY4” at checkout to activate your discount offer.
However, if you…
- Are on a tight budget
- Plan to blog as a hobby
- Don’t need automatic security updates or 24/7 site monitoring
- Are willing to sacrifice speed, performance and support in order to save money…
Save 43% when you lock in
your rate for 36 months
Normal Price: $6.95/month
Discount Price: $3.95/month
You Save: $109.44
No coupon code necessary when you
use the discount link below:
Having trouble deciding between the two?
I personally don’t mind paying a little extra to ensure my web sites are fast, reliable and secure. That’s why I host my WordPress sites, including this one, with WP Engine. They offer a managed WordPress hosting service, which means:
- The sites they host load lightning quick,
- Their support rocks, and…
- You’ll sleep better at night knowing you have a team of pros keeping an eye on your site 24/7.
I previously preferred hosting my WordPress sites on my own dedicated servers. But it was getting to be too stressful and time-consuming trying to manage everything. With WP Engine, running a WordPress web site is just sooooo much easier.
Because I take my web sites and internet business seriously, WP Engine is the obvious choice for my WordPress hosting. But maybe you need more help before deciding. If so, here’s a bit more information to help you choose the WordPress hosting company that’s right for you:
Step 3: Customize and Launch Your New Site!
As you may have seen in the video tutorials above, it only takes a few minutes to get your new site online using your web host’s 1-click WordPress installation tool.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to make a few tweaks to get it running and looking just the way you want. But before you start customizing your blog, here’s a quick word of advice…
Remember to “KISS”
Keep it simple, silly (some people prefer to say “stupid,” but I think that’s a bit hostile). Don’t try to make your web site perfect at first. The ugliest site ever created and actually launched gets more readers, is more useful, and makes more money than the most wonderful site that was almost ready but never unveiled.
Your goal for now is to just focus on getting it live and off the ground.
It only takes a few minutes to actually create a blog, but it may take a little while before you’re completely satisfied with the way it looks and functions. That’s OK. The important thing to remember is to just put it out there, and then continue to improve it over time.
The blogging “MiniGuides” below will show you a few basic, yet important things you need to do once you’re ready to customize and launch your new blog or web site…
- How to Find and Register a Domain Name
- Configure Your Site’s Basic WordPress Settings
- Give Your Site a Professional Look with a Premium WordPress Theme
- Add Useful Features to Your Site with Free WordPress Plugins
- Create Your First Blog Post
- Learn How to Get Visitors to Your Web Site and Increase Traffic
- Optional: Learn How You Can Make Money Blogging
Once your web site is live, the only thing left to do is to get busy creating some great content – and then start telling the world about it!
A few more things before you go…
This is for you if you want to learn how to:
- Get more visitors to your blog…
- Turn your content into cash, and…
- Make money blogging while having fun at the same time! (Really)
After you subscribe, I’ll send you my “cheatsheet” with shortcuts that can help you if you’d like to learn how to make money with a blog. This cheatsheet is only for my newsletter subscribers. If you plan on trying to make a few bucks (or more) with your blog, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Thanks for visiting, and good luck!
– Joe Chapuis