The only “how to start a blog” guide you need
Most of the people who come to HostAuthority are looking for the best hosting company to pair with their new blog.
If this is your goal, then we want to help you get started on the right foot by offering a detailed guide to starting your first blog.
Why Trust Us?
Our team and founder have built dozens of sites that attract organic visitors from search engines, like Google.
The people that come to our blogs stick around, talk with us in the comments, and buy products we sell.
We think these facts give us the ability to teach others where to start, and we want to share our knowledge with you.
Quick Start (Instead of reading the whole guide)
We understand. You’re excited and have content bursting out of you waiting to entertain people online. That’s why we have a brief, but adequate overview of the process you need to start sharing your words. This section will help you get going quickly, and if you want to read it last, that’s fine with us because it contains information that’s not in the rest of the guide.
Important Note: There is no end to the number of awesome tools you can use on your new website, but the most important thing is the quality of your writing.
Here’s the Skinny
Domain Name: Choose a place to register a domain name, our preferred choice is Bluehost where you get a free domain with any hosting plan.
Hosting Provider: We have dozens of the tops hosts reviewed on this site, but Bluehost is still our preferred host for beginners starting a blog.
WordPress: If you start a blog, this is the content management system you need. Check out the Thesis theme (It’s the one we use).
Plugins: There are a ton of them and they help your WP blog in many ways. Here are the ones we recommend:
- Yoast SEO
- Contact Form 7
- WP Super Cache
- Pretty Link
- Lead Pages
- Gravity Forms
Email Newsletter: Collecting emails is super important if you hope to stay in touch with your readers and make money. We love Aweber for beginners.
Best Blog Course: There are a lot of crap courses out there, but the best we’ve found is How to Start a Blog that Matters.
Step One: It’s All in the Name
Your domain name will stick around for a long time, and is the first thing you have to figure out. It can be changed later, but it’s a difficult process for you and confusing for your readers. Make sure the one you choose fits the brand you want to construct word by word.
Not to brag, but HostAuthority says exactly what we are striving to be, the authority when it comes to picking the host to mate with your blog. Once we had the name, we simply have to live up to it by providing the best reviews around.
Does it have to be a (dot)com?
No. There are several examples of successful sites that use TLD’s other than the traditional .com (like us!). But that doesn’t mean it’s not preferable, so if you can find a great name with a .com go for it.
Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the name of your new blog:
- Easy to Remember
- Easy to Spell
- As Short as Possible
- (dot)com is preferable, but not required
- Use a domain name generator like Bust A Name to help
Purchasing Your Name
Now that you have your perfect name you just have to register it. The best-known places are probably Godaddy, NameCheap, or Domain.com but our preferred choice for newbies is to get your domain free with a new Bluehost account.
We even have a detailed post and coupon for setting up a Bluehost account that comes with a free domain.
Step Two: Choosing the Company That Will Host Your Blog
This is a tough choice. There are tons of providers and almost as many review sites telling you which one is the “best”. While we have our preferred choice for bloggers, we also know you can make your own decisions. That’s why we’ve compiled top lists for different hosting plans including:
Our Choice: Again, our top choice specifically for bloggers is Bluehost.
If you choose to use Bluehost (as we suggest), here are some screenshots that you’ll see to help you with the process.
The home page where you’ll click the “get started now” button.
You’ll be taken immediately to the page where you can choose your discounted rate that will last for the next year.
Once you select your plan, you’ll be taken to the page where you can pick up that free domain name that you chose a little earlier.
After you type in the awesome brand you’re about to create, you’ll be ushered to the page where you enter in all your info and payment method.
Once you get it all set up and confirm everything you entered, you can log into your cPanel. This is what it looks like.
Step Three: Install WordPress (You Won’t Regret It)
We suggest you install WordPress which you can do by clicking on the “Install WordPress” button or “One-Click Installs” right below it. Both buttons take you to the mojo marketplace which will take you through a series of easy to follow prompts. Once you’re done, you’ll be given a WordPress login and can access your WP dashboard by entering either “yourdomain.com/wp-admin” or “yourdomain.com/login”.
Enter your login credentials and you’re ready to install your theme.
Choosing a Theme
There are literally thousands and thousands of free and paid themes that can be found online. Two of the best we use most often are Thesis and Genesis. They are loaded with options and can really give your site a clean professional look. Here’s a link to a video tutorial for Genesis by the company that developed it.
You’ll want to do some research on what plugins are right for you, but here’s a list of the basic ones you’ll need and our favorites are in the “Quick Start” section at the top.
Start an Email List
The number one mistake that new bloggers make is not making it easy for someone to keep in touch. By collecting an email address from avid readers, you are protecting your blog from losing it’s most valuable asset, which is your audience. We recommend Aweber.
Bonus Tip: Put together a valuable resource (called a lead magnet) that you give only to your subscribers to increase the number of people who want to sign up.
Step Four: Create Good Stuff
The best way to gather an audience is to write good content. If you ignore the need to deliver value, you will not gain traction with your new endeavor. You’ll want to constantly get better at what you do and here are some of the best blogs for bloggers that will help you perfect your craft over time.
These are a mix of helping you create content, market it, and promote engagement amongst your readers.
With this post, you now have all the tools you need to start a blog. It’s up to you to make it useful and entertaining.
Go on and get started.