How to Start A Blog in 2020
A detailed step-by-step guide for beginners and anyone looking to start a blog.
by: Eric Turner
Last updated: June, 2020.
This post has just one goal: to take you by hand through the process of starting a blog, from start to finish. It’ll show you how to start a blog in an hour or less.
I will show you everything you need to know to start a blog online in 2020, even if the only thing you can do on a computer is drag the mouse and point-and-click. To make it easy for you to follow, I provided screenshot everywhere necessary.
Let’s get to it.
What you’ll learn in this post:
- how to start a blog
- how to pick the right theme (design template)
- how to submit your website and posts to Google
- proven ways to monetize your blog.
I divided the guide into two sections:
- Setting up your blog
- Managing and monetizing your blog
The first section deals with the actual process of creating your blog while the second talks about managing your blog and how to make money from your blog.
How to Start A Blog in 2020
Setting up your blog
In this section, you’ll learn how to:
- choose a blogging platform
- come up with a suitable name for your blog
- register with a web host
- setup your blog
To have searched for “how to start a blog” or “how to create a blog,” you probably already know what a blog is and what you can achieve with one.
While Wikipedia (and everyone else) describes it as merely some place on the World Wide Web to share opinions in an informal, conversational style, you can actually achieve more than just keeping a diary.
A blog can serve as your showroom; a place to connect with your target audience. You can start a blog to share your expertise on a topic; to teach people how to do stuff; to conduct business and, of course, make money.
If you’re a writer, journalist, graphics designer, or just a creative in any industry, you can start a blog to host your portfolio, showcase your work and build a base of rabid fans.
A business owner to create a solid online presence for your small business or just as a stand-alone online business to make money!
There are many more reasons to learn how to start a blog. The opportunities are limitless.
Creating a blog involves just four simple steps and only two of them require dragging the mouse and making a few clicks. The remaining two involve only a little brain work. The four steps are:
- choosing a platform
- choosing a domain name
- registering with a web host
- setting up your blog
…and Bob’s your uncle!
How to Setup Your Blog
You can jump to any of the steps just by clicking on it.
- Choose a platform
- Choose a domain name
- Register with a web host
- Set up your blog
Choosing the right platform
There are quite a lot of platforms (both free and paid) out there to choose from when you’re learning how to start a blog or website, but the popular ones are:
All of the options listed until Drupal are content management systems and do not require any coding. This essentially means that the choice is between point-and-click website builders and coding from scratch.
Coding from scratch requires having programming (coding) knowledge or hiring an agency or someone who does. If your goal is just to own a blog, and you have enough $$$ to part with, go for it.
But if you want to know how to start a blog and do it yourself, without learning to code or paying anyone to do it for you, content management systems (website builders) is the way to go.
Many of these website builders are free and have limitations.
Here are some:
- Generic feel and look. Check out the blogs hosted on Blogger, they all look almost exactly the same. Almost, because well, there is difference in the colors.
- Limited customization. Free platforms don’t give much room for customization; they want you playing strictly by their rules.
- They monetize your hard work and even worse: prevent you from doing same. Many of these free platforms will put ads on your blog and won’t allow you to do the same. That’s total rip-off, but then there’s no free stuff even in Freetown.
- You can wake up one day to the shocking reality that you’ve lost everything. A free platform can delete your blog in error or for flouting one ambiguous rule.
- Limited features. The catchphrase is usually something along the line of “go pro to unlock more features.
Considering all of the above, the platform of choice is…
WordPress is free, but does not have any of the limitations mentioned. At the risk of exaggerating things, WordPress does not have any limitation whatsoever.
WordPress is a free, open-source, blogging platform started in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little and licensed for the general public to make of it whatever they desire.
It is the platform of choice for both professionals and anyone just learning how to start a blog.
Why you should use WordPress
Here’s why you should use WordPress
- WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. It powers about 34% of websites and blogs on the Internet.
- Customizing WordPress is easy. You only need to drag the mouse and make a few clicks to customize a WordPress blog. No </>.
- Ease of use. Writing and publishing a post on WordPress is as easy as using Microsoft Word.
- Easy to get help. Due to its popularity, it’s very easy to get help. You only need to Google it or search in the WordPress forum.
It is used by established businesses and media companies. TED, New York Times, Forbes, Reuters, this blog, all use WordPress.
Now to Step 2…
Choosing a Suitable Domain Name
Domain name is the address to your blog. It is what your readers will use to locate you. The domain name of the blog you’re on right now is startablogonline.com. Facebook’s domain name is Facebook.com.
Regardless of where they are in the world, anyone that types startablogonline.com in their browsers will land on this blog.
If you have already decided on a domain name, you can jump to Step 3: registering with a web host or Step 4: setting up your blog.
As simple as it looks, this step can’t be pretty confusing if it’s your first time learning how to start a blog. It can keep you in a loop, where you get stuck in trying hard to pick a name you’re proud of.
It shouldn’t be that hard though; it boils down to “why” you’re creating the blog. If it’s for your business, that’s easy: use your business name as the domain name.
For instance, if your business name is My Awesome Business, go for myawesomebusiness.com. If the .com extension is not available, you can go for .net or .org.
If you’re creating a portfolio for your writing or graphics design business, use the name of your business or niche as the domain name. For instance, if you write for the tech industry, you could choose techwriterforhire.com or simply use your name as in billgates.com.
With the goal of your blog in mind, you should be able to choose the most suitable name for your blog. This blog is about helping people create and manage their blogs, hence the domain startablogonline.com.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a domain:
- Keep it short, simple and memorable. Your readers should be able to remember your domain as quickly as they need it, so make it short and to the point. It will be a lot of work for anyone to remember thebestlogoandflierdesignerinthecityofnewyork.com compared to nygraphicsdesigner.com.
- Go for .com extension. Because it’s the most common extension, obviously. But if the .com extension is taken, you can go for other popular extensions such as .net or .org or your country-specific domain (examples: .co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany, .ca for Canada).
- Avoid hyphen and numbers. Hyphen and numbers are derailers. They derail the flow of the domain. Compare Facebook.com with Face-book.com or Facebook4you.com.
When else fails, follow your guts. And if for some reason you ended up registering one you don’t like, you can change it later.
Register with a web host
…and get a free domain name
Before your blog can go live and become accessible by your readers over the Internet, you need to host it with a web host. It is a web host that will “host” the contents of your blog, including posts, images, and videos.
This is the point where you’ll make a few clicks.
For hosting, I recommend Hostgator. Hostgator is a leading host company and has been in the business for over 15 years. While you can use just about any host — InMotion, Namecheap and so on, I recommend Hostgator.
They have a great package for people just starting out and offer:
- A free domain name
- Free SSL certificate
- One-click WordPress installation
- Unmetered bandwidth
- 24/7 support
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Unlimited custom emails
If you go for Hostgator through any of the links on this blog, you’ll get your domain name for free.
SSL certificates allow you to have “padlock” on your website or blog, signaling to users that your blog is safe and secure. All modern browsers flag websites or blogs without the padlock icon. Hostgator will offer you this for free.
Because I have an SSL Certificate on this blog, here’s what Google Chrome says:
Hostgator also gives you 45 days to decide whether you want them or your money back.
So head over to Hostgator now to buy your hosting package.
I have a coupon code that will get you 60% off 😉
DISCLOSURE: For the sake of transparency, clicking on some links in this post and buying through them may earn me a commission. Buying through any of the links is at no extra cost to you; the commission only allows me to keep this blog running and grab coffee every morning.
Let’s do this…
1. Log on to Hostgator website (use this link). You’ll be presented with a page like below. Click on Get Started.
2. Choose a hosting package. Depends on your budget and the number of blogs you want to create. Check carefully which package best suits your need. The Hatcling plan allows you to host only one website while the other two allow hosting of “unlimited websites.”
3. Enter your domain name. If available, it will be automatically added to your cart. If not, try other extensions such as .net or .org or check for another domain name.
4. On the same page, scroll down to choose a hosting plan and billing cycle. You can register for as much as 36 months (3 years) advance. The higher the number of months, the higher the discount. My coupon code will get you an additional 60% off. Read on to see the coupon code.
5. Enter your billing information. Guard your details very well. Make sure no one is looking from behind when you’re doing this.
6. Uncheck all the additional services; you don’t need them. There is a heap of free plugins that will take care of those.
7. Enter RGM99 in the space provided for coupons and validate. How much discount did you get?
This much… 😉
8. Check the box to agree to Hostgator’s terms and click on Checkout Now! to finish the transaction.
After completing the transaction, you’ll get a confirmation email from Hostgator. The email will contain instructions on your next step, including your login details.
It’s time to create your blog!
Let’s move on to step 4 of 4 on how to start a blog.
Setting Up Your Blog
Log in to your cPanel (your login details is contained in the confirmation email from Hostgator).
In the Software section, click on the QuickInstall icon then One-Click Installs
Now click on WordPress.
Now choose domain to install WordPress on and fill all fields – Blog Title, Email, Admin User, First and Last Name – as appropriate.
Tip: For security reasons, do not use “admin” as your username. So choose carefully.
After installing WordPress, you’ll receive a congratulatory email. Now you can login to your blog dashboard where you customize your blog and also add contents.
Login to your blog and start blogging!
To log in to your blog WordPress dash, enter your domain in your browser address bar and suffix /wp-login. For instance, if your domain name is mydomainname.com, to log in you’ll enter mydomainname.com/wp-login and hit enter.
You’ll be presented with the login page as in the screenshot below:
Enter your login info as appropriate and log in.
Your blog dashboard will look exactly like below:
You may take a break now.
…or let’s continue, if you can’t wait.
This is what the virgin dashboard looks like. Yours should look exactly the same.
Posts: To add a new post, hover or click on “Posts” and click on “Add new.”
Pages: To add a new page, hover or click on “Pages” and click on “Add new.”
Appearance: This is where you customize your blog, change themes, install new plugins, add a logo, add a favicon, add new widgets and edit your theme.
- How to Install and Uninstall Plugins
- How to Change Your Blog’s Theme
- 7 Must-Have Plugins for Your New Blog
- How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
- On-Page SEO Actions You Should Take Now
- How to Add Your Blog to Google Search Console
- How to Connect Your Blog With Google Analytics
Change Your Permalinks Format
Permalinks means URL structure. You can change the structure to reflect the category or date or just the post name. It’s better to reflect just the post title, for SEO purposes.
To change it hover over Settings and click on Permalinks. On that page select the structure you like.
Once you’re done, click on Save Change to save your settings.
How to Add a New Post
Now that you’re past the “how to start a blog” stage, the next (and sticky) stage is running your blog. Let’s create a new post.
Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
Hover (or click) on Posts and the click on Add new.
On the next page (screenshot below) enter your post title and the body.
Click on Save Draft to save the post as draft. To preview the post before publishing, click on Preview. Click on Publish when you’re ready to publish the post, but before then, you should add tags and a category. Categories are good for organization; they put similar posts (post treating different aspects of a topic) together in one place.
Let’s say my blog is about music and I published a post about country music, I’ll categorize the post under country music and tag it with the name of the musician. When my readers click on that category, they’ll be presented with a page showing posts about country music. If they click on the tag, they’ll be able to access all blog posts about the artist.
The post categories on this blog are:
- Start A Blog
- Grow Your Blog
- Monetize Your Blog
To add a new category, look to the right hand side of the where you’re writing the post, click on + Add New Category and enter the category in the space provided and hit enter. When next you write a post about country music, you only need to check it from the list of categories. To add tags, enter your tags (as many as you want) and separate them with commas and hit enter or click on Add.
Hit Publish to publish your posts.
Recommended: How to Change Your WordPress Blog Theme
That’s how to create a blog and start blogging. I hope the post is explanatory enough to guide you through the process. If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to send me a mail. I’ll reply as fast as I can.
You should check out other posts on the blog to learn how to manage, customize and make money from your blog.
AND don’t forget to spread the word! Use the share buttons below!