Want to start a blog?

What if I told you you can set up your blog in less than an hour without breaking a sweat?

You’ll know how to start a blog the right way right in this post, without breaking the bank.

I will show you how to create your blog on a modest budget. You’ll learn how to do it yourself in 30 minutes or less, without writing a single line of code or doing some boring techy stuff. It’s 2020, life shouldn’t be difficult.

To have searched for “how to create a blog,” you probably already know what a blog is and what you can achieve with one. That notwithstanding, I’ll describe what a blog is, in my own terms, very briefly below:

A blog is simply a place on the World Wide Web where you can share your opinions on your topic of interest. It is a place to showcase your business; to attract your target audience; a place to get people to listen to what you have to say.

It’s that simple.

Through a blog, you can change the world. Literally.

You might want to start a blog or website:

  • To put up your work out there before millions of eyes (and build a base of rabid fans)
  • To create a solid online presence for your small business
  • To make money online
  • To host your portfolio (if you’re a writer or graphics designer)

It could be for some other reason my little head couldn’t think of.

Creating a blog involves just 4 simple steps and only 2 of them require dragging the mouse and making a few clicks; the remaining two involve only a little brain work. The four steps are:

  1. Choosing a platform
  2. Brainstorming and choosing a suitable domain name (I’ll show you how to get a domain name for free later in the post)
  3. Registering for a web host
  4. Setting up your blog

…and Bob’s your uncle!

Let’s get to work…

How to Start A Blog Online in 2020

As I stated earlier, this process involves four distinct steps. You can jump to any of the steps just by clicking on it.

  1. Choose a platform
  2. Choose a suitable domain name
  3. Register for a web host
  4. Set up your blog

Step 1: Choosing the right platform

There are quite a lot of platforms (both free and paid) out there to choose from in order to create a functional website or blog, but the popular ones are:

  • Blogger
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • Drupal
  • Coding from scratch (HTML, CSS and JavaScript)

Basically, the choice is between drag-and-drop and coding from scratch. Nobody deserves to go through the trouble of coding from scratch. Why do that when you can use an even simpler and easier method and get even better results.

Using a paid platform requires parting with some huge cash and paying for maintenance in the future. If you have enough $$$ to throw around, you should go for it.

Coding from scratch requires having programming (coding) knowledge or hiring an agency or someone who does.

Using a free platform has many 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 food even in Freetown.
  • You can wake up one day to the shocking discovery that you’ve lost everything. A free platform can delete your blog in error or for flouting one stupid and unclear rule.
  • Limited features. The catchphrase is usually something along the line of “go pro to unlock more features.”
  • Free stuff are not always free. You know this.

All options seem to have been crossed out. Now, which platform should you choose?

WORDPRESS.

Start a blog

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.

Except you choose to make your blog look like someone else’s or have all of your blogs look the same, WordPress has a lot of room for customization. You customize to your taste. Nothing can stop you.

Why you should use WordPress

Here’s why you should use WordPress

  • Numbers don’t lie. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform today and there are reasons for that (as you’d find out). It powers about 33% 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 </>. HTML is the simplest web design language and you don’t even need it to use WordPress.
  • 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 a 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…

Step 2: Choosing a Suitable Domain Name

Domain name is the address to your space on the Internet. 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.

You probably already have a domain name in mind. If you do, you can skip this step and go to Step 3.

If you don’t, read on. I’ll guide you through the process.

Choosing a domain name depends on “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. 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. This is the most common extension. Many people don’t pay attention to the extension of a domain, because they don’t know other extensions exist. 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: .us for the US, .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.

Step 3: 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 your host that will “host” the contents of your blog, including posts, images, videos and other files.

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. Although 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:

  • Free domain name
  • Free SSL certificate
  • One click WordPress installation
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • 24/7 support
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Unlimited emails

You already know what a domain is. With Hostgator, you’ll get one for free.

SSL certificates allow you to have “padlock” on your website or blog, signaling to users that your blog is safe and secure. Most browsers flag websites or blogs without the padlock. 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.

Your choice of package depends on your budget. The Hatchling plan is perfect since you won’t be getting a million visitors to your website just yet, but then you can only host a single website with it. Other hosting packages allow you to host as much blogs as you want, but then you have to pay more.

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.

Get started - Start a blog

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.”

How to start a Blog

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.

Start A Blog

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… 😉

Start a blog - RGM99

8. Check the box to agree to Hostgator’s terms and click on Checkout Now! to finish the transaction.

Create A Blog

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.

Step 4: 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

Start A Blog

Now click on WordPress.

Create a blog

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:

Login area - how to start a blog

Enter your login info as appropriate and log in.

Your blog dashboard will look exactly like below:

Start A blog - dashboard

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.

Start A blog - dashboard

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.

Further Reading:

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

Conclusion

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!