I’ve just prepared this tutorial on how to start a blog for participants in the facilitator training, and thought you might find this info handy, too, if you’re thinking of starting a blog to promote your business—or just show off your work to friends, family, and the world.
One of the most commonly asked questions by my students is about my blog. How does it work? How do you set it up? What platform and tools do you use?
One of the most common dilemmas of starting blog is simply knowing where to begin, and where or how to start. Not knowing how to begin is what usually keeps us stuck, and doing nothing at all. Just like in our creative work.
Keep Calm & Follow Along
Here’s the thing: Starting a blog is inexpensive and you can get started quickly, in minutes. Not hours, weeks or years.
So many of you have attempted to start a blog, and stopped somewhere along the way because of not knowing where to begin, or getting overwhelmed trying to wade through tutorials online that are clearly written for techies who speak in code.
So today I’m bringing you a tutorial on how to start a blog in 5 easy DIY steps that are geared to visual, creative types as opposed to the technical wizards.
There are pictures! I’ll be your guide every step of the way.
Disclaimer: in the steps below you will find links to services I actually use. As a heavy Internet user ever since I got my first email address in 1995, as an owner of a Internet design firm in San Francisco for 10 years, and now as a happy blog-based business owner, I have tried many different domain name registrars, web hosts, and WordPress themes.
These are the ones I like best and recommend to other bloggers as reliable, affordable, easy-to-use services. The links you’ll find in the step-by-step instructions are affiliate links. Which means if you end up purchasing a service by following my link, I’ll earn a small commission which supports my work. Thank you!
I’m extremely picky, and I truly love my readers and care about their success. So, I’d never recommend a service that I don’t personally use and love.
Okay, now that the business is out of the way, it’s time to learn about how to set up your own blog, and start blogging! Get a beverage and fasten your seatbelt. This is going to go faster than you think.
Step 1: Secure your domain name
A domain name is the address to your website that your visitors will use to view your blog. Just like your real home has a street address, your virtual home online has an Internet address. For example, mine is lisasonora.com.
Most of the time spent on this step will be spent brainstorming your perfect domain name. A domain name is a big decision, so take your time choosing one.
I always recommend buying your own name – if it’s available – especially if you are an artist or coach. Even if you don’t use your name as your blog domain, you might want to own that piece of Internet “real estate” anyway.
Once you’ve come up with a possible domain name or two, check to see if it’s available.
I recommend using NameCheap for purchasing your domain. Just like the name sounds, NameCheap makes it super inexpensive to secure your domain name. For around $10 per year you can purchase a domain name while other domain name providers can cost upwards of $20 per year.
Go to NameCheap and enter it in the box to see if it’s available.
If it’s available, congratulations! Go ahead and add it to your cart and checkout.
Namecheap will provide you with the opportunity to purchase some add-ons to your domain name. Here are the ones you may want to consider:
- Who Is Guard: this keeps your registration information such as name, address, and email private.
- Email: If you’d like an email address to match your domain name, such as email@example.com, then go ahead and add this to your cart. At the time of writing this, NameCheap was offering two months of free email service.
Skip all of the other add-ons and click Confirm Order. Proceed through the checkout process, including creating a username and password. Keep this information in a safe place because you’ll need it later on.
Step 2: Purchase your hosting plan
Hosting is the space you’re going to rent on the web where your blog files reside.
To keep our real estate metaphor going, think of your web host as the the town where your domain name (virtual home) is located.
Go to Host Gator and click View Web Hosting Plans.
Between the three plans offered, you’ll only need the starter package called Hatchling.
Click Order Now.
On the next screen select “I Already Own This Domain” and enter the domain name you purchased in Step 1.
Confirm you are on the Hatchling plan and then choose a Billing Cycle.
Now fill out your billing details and choose any hosting add-ons. Click Continue and follow the prompts through the checkout process. Be sure to write your Host Gator username and password down in a safe place. We’ll need that later.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Now we’re ready to install WordPress on your new hosting account.
WordPress provides the engineering (computer code) that gives your blog it’s structure.
First, you’ll need to log in to your new Host Gator Control Panel account. Your username, password, and sign in link were sent in a Welcome Email from Host Gator after your purchased your hosting package. Note: It can take up to one hour to receive your Welcome Email.
Follow the link from your Welcome Email called Your Control Panel and enter the username and password provided in the email.
Click the Get started With WordPress Today icon.
Now you are at the Quick Install page. Click Continue.
Fill out the form as I have below – be sure to enter your information. Click Install.
Once you get a Congratulations! Your installation is ready message you’ll want to write down your Admin Area URL, username and password. This is important and will NOT come to you by email.
That’s it! WordPress is installed!
Happy dance time!
Step 4: Hook up your domain
Login to NameCheap. Go to Menu > Manage Domains.
Click on your domain.
In the left hand column, Click on Transfer DNS to Webhost. Don’t worry, you don’t have to know what this means to make it work.
Fill in the fields as specified below:
Click Save Changes.
Step 5: Make it pretty (& smart)
Now we’re going to setup your theme.
Your theme is like having an architect and interior designer come by your new online home to give it a unique style and personality that is all your own.
This is divided into three parts: Framework, Child Theme and Installation.
Don’t worry about what these words mean. Just like we don’t have to understand how electricity works to turn on a light switch, you don’t have to understand this terminology to use it. *Breathe.*
Framework (your architect)
For blog beginners (and everyone else, too) I recommend the Genesis Framework by Studio Press. It’s easy to use and StudioPress has amazing customer service should you run into any snags in your installation or setup process.
Go to Studio Press.
Click Shop for Themes.
The first option on this page is the Genesis Framework. Think of this as the skeleton of your theme, like the framing inside the walls of your house.
Hover over it and click See Details and Pricing.
Click “Buy Genesis Framework“.
Go through the checkout process and fill in your information and payment details.
Click Create Account and Complete Your Purchase.
You will now be taken into your account where you can download the Genesis Framework.
Now we’re getting to the fun part – picking your child theme! This will style up the Framework and make it pretty.
Essentially, the interior designer is showing you options for window treatments, rugs, and furniture. The child theme can be easily changed at anytime – so this is easy to select now, even if you change your mind later. Not the way it works with couches and curtains.
You have two options with the child theme (window dressings) – pay for one from Studio Press or search for a free one on their site. Either way you choose the process is going to be the same:
Follow the steps for Framework above, but this time instead of selecting the Genesis Framework for purchase, select one of the themes. You can use the search filters at the top to narrow the selection.
Studio Press makes it easy to select a mobile-responsive theme for your blog.
Two Good Reasons to Choose a Mobile Responsive Blog Theme
1. A “mobile responsive” website or blog simply means that it works and looks great on any device: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and whatever else they invent next.
2. Google excludes websites that are not mobile ready from their search, if the person searches on a mobile device.
Now that you have both the Genesis Framework and your child theme downloaded, let’s install them!
Remember that information I had you write down after you installed WordPress?
We need that now. Type that link into your browser. It will be something like http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/
Now you’ll be at a screen that looks like this:
Enter your username and password. Voila! You are now logged in to your WordPress account!
Let the installation process begin!
In the left hand column you are going to click Appearance, then Themes. At the top click Add New.
Click the Choose File button and find the Genesis.zip file you downloaded earlier. Once you’ve selected it, click Install Now.
On the next screen click Activate.
Now let’s install that child theme in the same way. Repeat the steps above, but instead of choosing the genesis.zip file, choose the child theme zip file you downloaded.
Guess what? You’re done!
Great job! Now it’s time to celebrate!
Optional Resources To Create a Great Blog
Now that you’ve started your own blog and set it up, you may be wondering… what next? What do I write about, how do I best share my stuff? How do I find my tribe online?
I’ll share lots more about all that in future guides, but for now, here are three great resources to get you started NOW.
Remember: Done is better than perfect.
When I first starting blogging, I made tons of mistakes. Even after years of blogging, it was (is) hard to figure it all out on my own.
For learning how to create a blog people will actually want to visit and read — and how to make money blogging, (if you want to do that) I highly recommend Blog Brilliantly.
It’s designed to take you step by step all of the elements of creating a successful blog over the course of a year – with an emphasis on compelling storytelling and design – and all the other little things in between that will help your blog stand out and be noticed.
I’ve been a member of this course for a few years, and I also attend the live workshops — it’s THAT good. Blogging is always changing, I this helps me keep current with my skills.
For everything you get in Blog Brilliantly, not to mention tons of community support from others in the class, it’s an incredible bargain, too.
Beyond blogging, are you wondering what in the heck your going to write about?
Creative Practice is my own online workshop designed to help you overcome page fright, while learning how to develop healthy creative habits that support you to do your best work.
If you are terrified of writing, publishing, or sharing… especially online, then by all means, check out Creative + Practice. I’ll teach you the exact same method that is the secret to my success as a creative entrepreneur.
The 30 Second Version:
My top tips to help you start your own blog:
- Choose a great domain name for your blog — and follow the 5 steps above to easily and quickly host your own blog without any hiccups.
- Also purchase you own real name as a domain name – because you want to own that Internet real estate even if you don’t live there.
- Don’t use a free blogging service or wordpress.com — especially if you are planning to promote your business or sell anything.
- Use a professional design that is mobile-friendly so that it works across all devices and platforms without you having to think about it.
The resources in this post have great design and cross-platform use baked right in.
You don’t need to understand the technology to use it and enjoy it— just like electricity.
So take a deep breath, and exhale.
You’ve got this.
You’re not the only one who gets overwhelmed by all of this techy stuff.
Are you a Creative Entrepreneur?
This is the FeelGood guide to starting your blog that I wished someone had put together for me when I started blogging.
Why FeelGood? Because the business part of doing what you love can be simple, easy, and make you feel good along the way. It’s all about enjoying the journey.
Working with more ease, joy and profit is part the magic behind The Creative Entrepreneur Method. Coming this September you’ll be hearing about more tutorials like this and courses designed especially for creative folks who want to spent more time making, and less time marketing.
Thank You & Enjoy.