Are you ready to start blogging in 2019? Not sure where to begin?
I GET IT!
Starting out with blogging can seem like a huge endeavour, but I can assure you it isn’t as scary as you’d think! There’s so much knowledge and guidance out there for the aspiring blogger like yourself.
Of course, finding that knowledge can be a bit of a hunt – so I’ve compiled it all into one easy to follow blog post that’ll have your new blog up and running in just a few simple steps without breaking the bank! Good luck!
Step by Step: Start a profitable blog in 2019!
- Choosing something to blog about
- Choosing your platform
- Buying a domain + hosting
- Setting up your blog
- Writing your first blog post
- Recommended reading
Step 1: Choose something to blog about
Perhaps you’re here because you have a passion for something and you’d like to share it with the world and educate the masses, or maybe you’re here because you’ve been drawn in by the luxurious lifestyles of bloggers on Instagram. Maybe you’re here because you’re hoping to turn your online space into some side income (do it!)
But before you start, it’s important to decide what to blog about. In the blogging world, this is called choosing your niche.
I have a few rules for choosing a niche that I think everyone should follow. Choose:
- Something you’re passionate about + enjoy endlessly researching
- Something you can come up with 10+ blog post titles for in a session
- Something you know you can write about regularly
If you already have a clear direction in mind for your blog, it’s time to set up. If you don’t, try to come up with a few ideas, take a day or two to think about it. Even try writing some to see what you can come up with. Then the fun starts!
Step 2: Choose a platform
There is an unlimited number of blogging platforms out there, so choosing the right one for you can be tough. Typically, in the blogging world, the three most popular platforms are:
- WordPress.org (commonly referred to in the blogging community as ‘self-hosted‘)
I’ll break them down for you, so you can see the pros/cons of each.
Blogger & WordPress.com
These platforms are similar in that they are very much ‘sign up + go’ – create an account, choose a theme from their platform and you can start writing straight away. Prices for paid plans and premium themes may vary, and by default, your URL will be yourblog.blogger.com or similar – adding a custom domain is an additional cost.
Drawbacks: Limited theme choice, limited plugin choice, limited customisability
This is the perfect option if you’re not truly willing to commit to your blog because if you’re really serious about this blogging thing you ought to try…
This is the option that’s preferred by seasoned bloggers, and the one most bloggers who start on another platform usually switch to eventually. I won’t lie to you, this option is a little trickier to set up initially – but the payoff is worth it. The benefits of this option include:
- You own your own website, you can customise every aspect – from managing your SEO to setting up personalised email addresses
- Being able to micromanage your blog’s SEO will boost your ratings for search engines – this means you’ll be in a better position to make deals for PR or sponsored posts
- You can buy themes + install useful plugins from all over the internet
You can also add ads to your website + start earning from the day you launch – you can’t do this with the other options!
Drawbacks: Slightly more difficult in the initial set up, but you’ll have full control over every aspect of your blog.
We’re going to focus on the self-hosted option from here on out – don’t worry, it’s not that hard. I’ll take you through the process, step by step.
Step 3: Buy a domain + Hosting
Onto the good stuff! The two things your new blog needs are a domain & some web hosting. My personal choice for this is Tso – I’ve used them personally & professionally for years and never had any reason for complaint.
Their platform is built for performance, managed by experts & their support is 24/7. They also offer dedicated WordPress hosting – hosting specifically designed to run WordPress seamlessly.
You can sign up here and you can even use the code GEMMAH for 10% off your first payment – whether you choose to pay monthly or in advance.
If you’re unsure which of the hosting plans to try, I recommend you choose the STARTUP hosting plan. While the Personal plan might seem like the best value for money, you’ll quickly run out of space when you are uploading photographs and graphics regularly (I did!)
How to Install WordPress with Tso (It’s super easy)
- Once you’ve signed up for your hosting with TSO, log into the account you created here
- Click your domain in the Your Active Services box
- On the page that comes up, hit Login to cPanel
- Scroll down until you find Softaculous Apps Installer – hint: it’s usually toward the bottom, but you can also use the search box at the top
- In the Softaculous App Installer, search for WordPress, click Install
- You’ll be given a page with some settings to fill out, I’ll take you through these:
- Choose Protocol: Choose http://www. or http:// – it depends if you’d like the www or not – don’t worry, your blog will still be available via both
- Choose Domain: Choose the domain you purchased with your account
- In directory: Remove everything from this textbox + leave it blank so that your blog is installed directly on http://www.yourdomain.com
- Site Settings: Add your blog’s name + a little tagline; this can all be changed later! Leave WPMU unchecked.
- Admin Account: This is the account you’ll use to log into your blog to manage it + write posts – I suggest making the username your own name and the password something very secure
- You can leave the rest of the settings as default for now unless you like one of the themes at the bottom! Feel free to choose one but we will cover how to add a custom theme in Step 4
- Hit Install
- Well done, your blog should be installed now! You can access it at www.yourdomain.com, and you can log in at www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin
Step 4: Setting up your blog
Choosing a theme
There’s plenty of WordPress themes to choose from all over the internet – they range in price from free to $$$! It can be hard to find just the right one, so before you go theme shopping, there are a few things you should keep in mind;
- Your audience + niche: it’s likely your audience will be people like yourself, but perhaps not. Your theme should ideally be something they’d find visually appealing + easy to navigate
- Your personal brand: themes with lots of customisable options are the best choice because you need something you can change colours, fonts + imagery on to match the brand you’re developing for yourself
Ideally, your blog’s theme should represent you + your content, but also be clear and easy to use. Consider colours, format, layout + style when you’re making your choice!
I can recommend a few places that might have just the right theme for you:
- Studiopress for professional-grade, modern themes
- Themeforest for a massive selection of themes to suit every style/brand
- Etsy for a wide range of handmade themes
Installing your theme
When you purchase a theme, you’ll most likely be given a .zip file to download – you don’t need to unzip it, just put the download somewhere you can easily find it and follow these steps:
- Log into your WordPress admin panel
- In the right-hand menu, head down to Appearance > Themes then hit Add New, then Upload Theme
- In the screen that follows, you can upload the .zip file of your theme
- Once the theme has uploaded, you’ll be given the option to Activate it
Please note, some themes may come with specific or further instructions and the above is only a brief overview! Additionally, most themes have different settings/options – so play around with yours and don’t forget to read any instructions from the developer.
Typically, your theme settings will be under the Appearance tab in the admin panel and all good themes will come with a guide to getting things set up!
As a WordPress developer, I’ve used a lot of plugins over the years – some good, some bad. The following are a list of kick-start plugins I use on my own blog. All of the plugins below are free, though some may have paid extras (I don’t personally use the paid versions of any of the plugins listed).
- Akismet Anti-Spam will keep your contact forms free of spam!
- Contact Form 7 for creating quick + simple forms that can be used anywhere on your blog
- Cookie Notice If you have readers in the EU, this should be a requirement (find out more here)
- Share Buttons by AddThis for customisable social share buttons
- WordFence Security will keep your site virus + hacker free
- WP Smush It will optimise your images to keep file size down (quicker loading for your visitors)
- Yoast SEO to help make your blog search engine friendly
How to install plugins
Plugins are what turn your website from a run of the mill blog to a blogging machine! They range from free plugins available to install directly from your site to premium plugins which will need to be installed per the developer’s instructions. We’ll cover how to search for and install plugins directly from WordPress.
- In your Admin Panel, head to Plugins on the left-hand side
- Hit Add New at the top
- In the search box, type the name of the plugin you’re looking for (e.g. Yoast SEO) or type in a keyword for a feature you’d like (e.g. contact form plugin)
- When you’ve found what you’d like from the search results, hit Install Now
- Let the plugin install, then hit the blue Activate button
- Voila! Your plugin is installed! You should read the instructions that come with it to find out how to use each plugin.
Common WordPress settings
In the right-hand menu in your admin panel, there’s a Settings button – there’s a lot of settings in here that can get a little confusing. Let’s talk through some of the basics.
- General: where to update your site name, tagline, timezone + date formats
- Writing: here you can assign a default category or tag for new posts
- Reading: change how many posts are displayed per page, or if you’d like a static page as your homepage (this is often dependant on your theme)
- Discussion: enable/disable comments or manage comment user/word blacklists
- Media: update the size of images on your site – your theme will usually manage this for you
- Permalinks: this is the URL structure of your site. I highly recommend changing the structure to Post Name before you do anything else on your blog!
Step 5: Writing your first blog post
Writing your first blog post in WordPress couldn’t be easier! Follow the steps below to get started:
- Login to your admin panel
- Go to Posts > Add New
- You’ll be given a screen a text editor in – this is where you write your post!
- Add whatever content you want + add a title to the top. Under the title is your slug – you can change this to whatever (though for SEO try to keep it similar to the post title!), but this is what the URL to your blog post will be
- In the right-hand side, you’ll be able to assign the blog post to categories or tags. Try to come up with a few basic categories based on your niche + the topics you’ll be writing about, and tags can be anything you want to help you keep organised!
- At the top of the right-hand side, you can hit publish when you’re ready to go! You can also:
- Save as draft if you’re not ready just yet or;
- Set a publish date in the future to schedule your post to automatically publish at a certain time
- Hit publish when you’re ready and wahey! Your first blog post is live.
The next thing you’ll want to do is to promote your blog post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and my all-time-favourite: Pinterest!
If you need any other help in getting set up, you can feel free to contact me; I offer a range of WordPress support services geared toward bloggers (and their budgets!)
Good luck, blogger!
All a bit much?
It’s a lot of work to get started with your blog, and there’s always an option to have someone help you on your way. Feel free to get in touch with me and I’ll help any way I can! As a web developer, I’ve had clients of all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of website requirements, I’m 100% certain I can help you out!
I also offer bespoke web design and content-transfer services for bloggers like yourself.