Make a Blog in Under an Hour
How to Start a Blog– Updated April 2020
Let’s start a blog that makes money!
Uh, so what is a blog?
It’s the content part of your website where you publish blog posts. On a well designed website, it should be the it’s own section of a website.
Like for this website you’re on now, the blog is found at websitecreativepro.com/blog.
A blog is just a part of a larger website. It’s primary function is to get search traffic from Google and to then turn that search traffic into email subscribers, product sales, advertising clicks or social shares.
That’s why you should start a blog. Because you want to grow your traffic and then convert that traffic into a specific purpose.
Start a Blog Video Tutorial
More of a visual learner? Me to. You can follow along with this video:
Services use in the video:
How To Start a Blog Made Easy
This “how to start a blog” tutorial will cover a variety of topics you need to understand in order to build a successful blog.
What we’re going to be doing in this tutorial is creating a website and then adding a blog to it. I’ll show you how to design your blog and what type of content you should publish so you can get search traffic.
With traffic and attention you can then make sales of products you’ve created or products you’re promoting as an affiliate, grow your email list and get social shares to expand your reach.
Let’s get started blogging:
- The best blogging platform
- Choose Your Blog Topic
- Create a website and start your blog
- Blog design inspiration
- Install a WordPress Theme
- WordPress Plugins
- SEO for Bloggers
- Writing Blog Posts Correctly
- Blog like a Pro
- How Blogs Make Money
The Best Blogging Platform
With starting a blog you have two options – self hosted or using a free platform. Self hosted means you create your own website that YOU own using a domain name and a web host that you buy.
On the back end you have a few different options for what will power your website. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace or content management systems like Movable Type, Drupal, WordPress and even custom built solutions.
WordPress is the leader because it is designed for blogging and content creation first and foremost.
What about Blogger.com or WordPress.com?
Using a free platform means you don’t pay for hosting but you also don’t own your website and have very limited control over it.
If you’re just looking to setup a personal blog and have no intention of making into a profitable asset and just want to share thoughts or ideas then I would use blogger.com with a custom domain name from Namecheap.
Why Does Everyone Use WordPress?
Very easy to setup. WordPress is so popular all web hosts now come with simple 1-click install of WordPress.
Easy to use. Creating content, adding products, pages, images, videos and links to your website is so easy with WordPress. WordPress is used by some of the biggest brands in the world like CNN and the BBC to manage their content publishing.
Total control over your blog. WordPress comes with some excellent tools so anyone can learn how to use to create a beautiful website. WordPress themes make designing your website the way YOU want an easy and fun process.
Excellent support community. WordPress is has a thriving community so you can always get help and advice for any aspect of your blog.
WordPress is secure. It’s constantly updated and supported so you never have to worry about running software that is out of date.
Great SEO – WordPress can be setup with ease for proper SEO. There are also countless SEO tutorials you can follow and all assume you’re using WordPress.
Choose your blogging topic
Do not be a money chaser. Too many people start websites and blogs on topics they read. What they end up doing is creating blogs that are simply echos of more popular blogs. Instead, think about what you’re really interested in and can provide value on.
Here is how you pick a blog topic:
1 – What are your skills? What do you know how to do that other people don’t know? What do people ask you for help with or advice on?
2 – What can you talk about and write about effortlessly? For a blog, you should confidently be able to write 100+ topic ideas.
3 – Money – What do people pay for in your topic?
Find the intersection of these three ideas and that should give you some idea about what topic you should create a blog about. It does not even need to be something “sexy” – It could be (and probably should be) something totally practical.
My friend for example learned how to sail a boat and because of that experience created a how-to blog for those looking to get started sailing.
While those money chasers are spinning their wheels creating low quality blogs about making money online or yet another generic tech blog, wondering why they don’t have traffic and looking for short cuts – my friend is actually making money by providing something helpful to the world.
Create a website and start a blog
Now we need to create a website so we can start blogging. For this we will get a domain name, a web host and install WordPress. Three simple steps.
1 – Get your domain name at Name Cheap
A domain name is the web address for your blog. My personal blog can be found at edgeofdavid.com. You’re going to need to come up with a good, catchy domain name.
You have a few options for choosing a domain name. You can go with something that is brandable, your actual name or a keyword focused domain.
Don’t stress over this too long. Branded domain names are best for blogs. Keyword focused domains are ideal if a website offers a very specific service and registering your name provides you with the ability to pivot on topics.
Simply visit Namecheap.com, and enter in your desired domain name. If it’s available go ahead and register it. If it’s not available, think of something else.
The reason we use Namecheap.com is because we want to keep our web host and domain name service separate. If you ever decide to change web hosts it’s a pain to do so if your domain name is registered at the web host.
- I would suggest getting your domain name for 2 years.
- Whois guard protects your privacy and is included with your purchase.
- With domain names you can only register them. This is a yearly cost everyone pays.
Get your domain names at our preferred domain registrar.
2 – Get a Hosting Account at Bluehost
Bluehost is the #1 recommended web host for WordPress. They are an excellent starter host and provide all the tools, service and hosting you need to grow your website to 50,000 pageviews or more per month.
They provide excellent shared hosting at a great price. Perfect for new websites and blogs. Once you have a website that gets around 1,500 visitors a day and is over 50,000 pageviews I would move my site over to WPX Hosting.
They are much more expensive, but are a great host for established, high traffic websites. But if you’re just starting out Bluehost is right for you.
Bluehost comes with four different pricing plans:
- Basic – Expensive and can only have one website.
- Plus – Ideal for growing a website to around 1000 visitors a day and 30k monthly pageviews.
- Choice Plus – Perfect for growing medium sizes websites to 1,5000 visitors a day and around 50k pageviews.
- Pro – For website that get 100,000 visitors a month.
I suggest going with the choice plus plan and buying a hosting account plan for two years. This is enough time to grow your blog into a business.
Once you make a purchase you’ll have to add a primary domain to your account:
To setup your domain name make sure to click “use a domain you own” since you registered your domain name at a domain name registrar.
Next fill out your payment information and proceed through the on-boarding process. You’ll be presented with your Bluehost dashboard:
Next we need to connect our nameservers to our hosting account.
3 – Connect Your Nameservers
Now it’s time to connect your hosting account to your domain name. This is done through changing the nameservers at Name Cheap to that of your hosting account.
It takes 5 minutes and it’s just a simple copy / paste process.
Look for your welcome email from Bluehost:
Nameservers for Bluehost are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. You need to update your domain DNS setting at Namecheap now.
Log into Namecheap, click on “manage” for the domain name you want to edit:
Where it says nameservers you simply need to select “custom DNS” and then input your nameservers form Bluehost. Make sure to save and then wait 30 minutes for your domain and hosting account to propagate.
That’s all there is to it, now it is time to install WordPress.
4 – Install WordPress
You need a content management system to help publish content, organize and edit your websites design, pictures, video and the overall user experience. WordPress is the best choice for blogging and publishing content online.
To get started with WordPress we need to create a website with our Bluehost account:
Create a website with WordPress
Installing WordPress with Bluehost is very easy. In your dashboard simple click on “my sites” and click on “create site.”
Set some admin details for your website:
Site name should match the URL of your website. For example, our site name is “Website Creative Pro.” Add a tagline if you like. Both the site name and tagline can be changed or deleted within WordPress.
Also click on the “advanced” tab where you can enter an email address which will be your recovery email as well as an admin user name and password of your choosing.
Choose Domain Name
Next you will be able to choose your domain name. You should only have one domain name but with your hosting account you can add multiple domain names. Install WordPress on the root domain. You do that by leaving the directory option blank.
When ready go click on the “next” button which will begin the WordPress installation process. Upon completion you’ll be presented with this page:
You have now created a website! Congrats.
How To Log Into WordPress
You can log into WordPress from your Bluehost dashboard or you can log in via your WordPress installation.
To log into your WordPress powered website all you need to do is visit example.com/wp-admin
To log into your website now, all you have to do is go to website.com/wp-admin and put in the user name and password you made when installing WordPress.
This is how you will log into your website from here on out.
Welcome to WordPress.
Verify your SSL certificate is working correctly
With your Bluehost account you get a free SSL certificate installed on your website. That means you should see a little “lock” icon in your web browser. If not, contact Bluehost support and they will fix it quickly and easily.
In order to check your SSL certificate:
- Log in to your Bluehost portal.
- Click on the “my sites” tab.
- Find your website and click on “Manage Site.”
- Go to the “Security” tab.
- Under “security certificate,” you will find your “free SSL certificate” status.
Welcome to WordPress.
Blog Design Inspiration – What will My Blog Look Like?
Blog designs can be over complicated. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and built my fare share of various types of websites.
For blogs, you have a few options:
- Niche website (dedicated homepage and blog page)
- Influencer Pro (call to action homepage and blog page)
*these are just my own terminology
The blogroll is a no frills default style of any WordPress blog. This layout shows your latest posts first and the rest of the posts in chronological order.
This setup is good because it allows readers to find your latest content very easily. It’s weak though on introducing people to what your site is about.
If you lack design skills or your website does not have a lot of content, then go with the blog roll layout.
Niche Website Layout
The most ideal layout for most of you reading this, the niche website layout is how I personally design ALL of my informational based websites.
This layout works because it has a clear call to action that quickly introduces the website and let’s a visitor know what the site is about, but more importantly it helps grow your email list or drive traffic to an important page (like how I drive traffic to my create a website tutorial here on websitecreativepro.com on the homepage).
You need to create a dedicated homepage and a blog post page.
This style is like the niche website, but the focus is more so on the blogger behind the website then the content.
Ramit built a 7 figure education business off the back of a one man blog he started. Now, he’s the face of his brand and on his homepage drives traffic to a quiz that leads into you submitting your email (and thus growing his list which directly impacts his business).
How to create a homepage with WordPress
I would start a blog using the blogroll layout. Once I have published 10 pieces of content, I would then create a dedicated homepage. In order to do that first create two pages with WordPress. I would call one page “home” and the other page “blog.”
Next go to “settings” in your WordPress dashboard and click on reading.
Here is where you can set your a page for the homepage and another page for the posts page.
Your next task is to design the homepage. We have numerous video tutorials on how to design a blog. Checkout our TwentyTwenty theme tutorial on YouTube.
The best permalinks for blogs
Permalinks are the URL structure of your blog post. In WordPress you have a few different options:
/Post-Name – Perfect for smaller sites that are never going to have more than 50 pages of content.
/Category/Post-Name – Perfect for large websites that will have 1000+ pages of content and multiple categories.
/Date/Post-Name – Perfect for time sensitive content like news.
/blog/Post-Name – Best URL structure for most websites. Go with this one in most instances.
Let’s change it to something more helpful and logical. Here’s how to change it:
Settings >>> permalinks
What Is The Best Permalink Structure?
For most blogs, the ideal URL structure is this to have /blog/post-name type setup. Simply click on custom structure and set your permalinks as follows:
It helps give a nice structure for search engines and it helps separate blog posts from pages and affiliate links.
If you want to nerd out and learn more about the why, read the best permalink structure guide.
Install a Theme
Let’s design your blog. This sections will show you how to install a WordPress theme. With themes you have both free and paid options. Checkout our continually updated guide on the best free and paid WordPress themes.
When you’re in your WordPress dashboard, go to appearance, themes and then add new.
Click on the theme you want to install. It will be downloaded and installed right from the WordPress directory. Make sure to click “activate” to make it go live.
Look through the themes to see if anything catches your eye (you can also sort by most popular). Just click the theme to install it with the click of a button.
These are themes you have to buy. They are not listed in the free WordPress directory. You buy them from a theme design shop. To install a premium theme:
Go to appearance, themes, add new then you have to UPLOAD the theme you just bought and downloaded.
Choose the ZIP file you want to install (your theme) and then click “install now” to install the theme.
Leave it as a zip file after downloading it. You can only upload compressed ZIP files.
My favorite free theme
Simple Theme – by Themify. My personal favorite free theme. Takes an hour or to understand how to use it. Comes with a backend builder to customize your website. You have to download it from Themify and upload it like you would a premium theme but it’s 100% free.
My favorite premium themes are:
Ultra Theme – The theme that powers the website you’re on now. Ultra is simply my favorite theme because it comes with a built in page builder and you can create any sort of website with it.
It also has a lot of helpful marketing features like being able to create sales pages and opt-in pages without needing a separate theme. Use coupon code ULTRAPRO for a discount on your purchase price.
DIVI – DIVI is one of the most popular themes in the world. It has a front end page builder allowing you to have a lot of control over the look and feel of your website.
Avada Theme – This is the best selling theme on Theme Forest. It’s a theme that comes with the ability to customize various aspects of your theme however you want as well as coming with different templates you can download and use.
Theme Forest – Not so much a theme, rather it’s a marketplace. The most popular for WordPress themes.
For a complete overview of preferred themes checkout our WordPress themes guide.
Ultra Theme by Themify
The Website Creative Pro theme. Use coupon ULTRAPRO for a discount on purchase!
Essential WordPress Plugins
A plugin is a a piece of software that acts as an extension for WordPress, giving it new features and functions. There are thousands of plugins you can install. What plugins you install is dependent upon what you need.
You can install plugins that add social share buttons, affiliate link management, contact forms and so much more.
To add a plugin to your website is a simple process. Simply navigate to plugins and then click add new.
The most essential plugins for any WordPress blog are:
Checkout our list of essential WordPress plugins.
SEO For Bloggers
There are a two essential plugins all blogs should have. These plugins help with your blogs SEO and load speed.
SEO? SEO is short for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to structure your blog and it’s content so you can actually rank for various phrases in Google as away to get visitors to your website.
SEO is a billion dollar industry and there is a lot to learn. But one key thing you can do right now is to lay the foundation for strong SEO for your blog.
Yoast SEO – The best SEO plugin for WordPress
One absolutely essential plugin for helping you optimize your website for search is the Yoast SEO plugin.
To get started with, go to plugins >> add new and the search for “yoast SEO.” Install it and activate it.
What this plugin does is that it allows you to edit the meta data for your posts and pages.
By installing Yoast, you can easily edit titles, the URL slug and the meta description for all published content. It also gives a readability analysis for your content. Yoast SEO also creates a helpful sitemap for your website that you can submit to Google Search console to help index your site quickly and to get data on how Google sees your website.
Last, it enables your blog to have breadcrumbs enabled. Breadcrumbs give search engines and visitors a clear idea of where they are:
home >> blog >> category >> post title
You see this at the top of every blog post here on Website Creative Pro and it’s intentional. While not the prettiest, it helps visitors and search engines navigate your site with ease. This is achieved through pasting Yoast SEO shortcode for breadcrumbs into the top section of my blog posts.
Smush It – Image optimization
Smush It is a WordPress plugin that compresses your images upon upload to your website. It reduces the file size and makes your website load faster. Simpy add new plugins and search for “Smush It.”
This plugin is a big deal because you’re going to have a lot of images uploaded to your website over time. This plugin will optimize every and all images.
How to write blog posts correctly
Writing content for a blog is not the same as a paper for school. There are a few things you need to know.
When writing a blog post title make sure it has a searchable keyword or phrase in it. Like if I was tying to rank a post for “best cheap headphones” I would make sure to have “best cheap headphones” in the title of the blog post.
I would also add something extra on it to make it more click worthy. Something like “best cheap headphones for introverts” is a much more specific. Again though, related it your topic. If headphones and introverts makes no sense for your blog topic don’t publish irrelevant content.
Make sure to use a largish, 14px+ size font. You want your website to be easy to read.
Don’t make massive paragraphs too. No one wants to read a wall of text. Write 3-5 sentences then hit that enter button. This helps reader retention, time on site and again makes for a easier, more enjoyable reading experience.
It’s fine to have a sentence be all alone like this one.
Pictures and video
Use at least 1 picture in every blog post. Make sure the picture is a jpg and is of a small size, under 50 mb. This ensures your page loads fast.
Don’t steal pictures! You can find many places to get free, high quality pictures by checking out this page that is part of our resources.
Use pictures only when it’s demonstrating something or it’s the feature image of a blog post.
Inter-link your own content and link to other websites regularly. You can and should go back into older blog posts and link to newer content when it makes sense.
One page one purpose. Stay on message with each post you write.
Have a call to action. Ask your visitors to share your website or subscribe or buy your product or whatever! Ask them to do something.
I suggest you take some time out to read about some web design practicesdo’s and don’ts.
In online publishing, you can choose between H1 – H6 tags. You can select the tag you want to use here:
H1 is for the title of the page. The title you put here should already be marked as H1 by your theme. You should never use H1 for your actual content.
Next, use H2 for your main topics, then H3 for sub topics and H4 for topics within the sub topic and so forth.
Tags are important because it tells search engines what’s important and it gives a logical structure that helps search engines understand you content but also make it much more easy for visitors to scan.
Check Your Grammar
No one is perfect but a lot of mistakes makes you look dumb and it turns people off from trusting you. Check and double check your writing.
Make sure your titles and meta are done correctly
With the Yoast SEO plugin you can change the way the title and meta description is presented to Google.
How to blog – Content Marketing Made Easy
Write what people actually want! It’s all about that 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should be writing on proven topics. 20% of the time you write whatever you want (because you may stumble on a topic people love).
Sounds simple enough but most bloggers end up writing all the time about what they think and feel or current events. Instead write for what people want, this will result in you creating content that is valuable and ti will result in you getting search traffic.
The types of content you should create:
Questions that answer questions people type into search Engines. How to do ______ in 15 minutes flat.
Shareable, list oriented blog posts and infographics that people will share on social media. The 7 best _______ you need to know about!
Long form blog posts that go after competitive keywords and are at least 3,000 words long. Best heaphones for teenagers.
Focus On Providing, Helpful Valuable Content
Value is not copying other more popular websites.
If you you find yourself needing to “check in” to see what others are writing, you may be copying. You may lack the creative potential to create WOW content or as I like to say, “best in class” content.
The kind of material that makes you trust your website and the person or people behind it as an authority on a specific topic.
Now, there is nothing wrong with hijacking your competitors most popular content. If it worked for them, it will work for you and is a good way to get a steady stream of traffic from search engines…
But if every time you need to publish new material, you find yourself looking to other website for inspiration; you’re in trouble.
- True though leaders, come up with their own ideas BECAUSE they’re not bullshit artists. In fact, you should have a backlog of ideas for your website that you want to create like: features, blog posts, products, services, ways to improve the user experience on your website and so on.
- Thought leaders are leaders because they live the life they talk about. They walk the walk. They talk the talk.
- They inspire you to do the same.
Bloggers Who Are Writing On A Topic They Are An Expert In:
- They live the change they want to see.
- They fight for freedom. Like a personal finance blogger fights for financial freedom.
- They challenge commonly accepted ideas.
- They build a small network of friends with other popular websites and the LINK and share other content from top performers.
Frustrations are Fuel For The Best Blogs in The World
Everyone has their villains.
1) It’s the heath and fitness website Kinobody.com that really wants to become the high quality resource for people who want to build a natural body. Their villains are the fitness bros on steroids who pretend to be natural.
2) For Ramit Sethi of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com it’s the personal finance “experts” who tell young people to budget their money and to not spend cash on lattes because it’s not an efficient allocation of resources. While a better solution in his opinion is to automate savings.
3) For Brett Mckay of The Art of Manliness his villains were the publishers of men’s magazines that defined manliness as simply sex, girls, drinking beer and getting 6 pack abs.
How you can use a current frustration as fuel to build an awesome blog?
Before you decide to create your website, think about the reason why you’re making it. Is their a villain you’re hoping to fight against? Not every website or consumer has a villain. But many do, and knowing this clears an astonishingly easy path of what to do next.
They may need it, but they may not want it
Too many marketers set out to create what they believe is the “worlds greatest product for ______” based on what they had wished they had when they started. This is not defeating a market villain.
The mistake they made becomes more apparent when they begin to attempt to sell the product because they are working backwards. You don’t create a product then try and find people who want it. It’s the other way around when it comes to blogging.
Your success depends on you taking the time to do the hard work that matters by understanding what your potential customers want and need in order to defeat their villains.
Lastly, Build a Brand
Google likes brands. They rank brands better, so curate and become known for something. If you’re a personal finance blogger it’s fine to talk about relationships as it relates to money for example, but always stay near your topic.
How Blogs Make Money
Blogs primarily make money in a few different ways. Here are some of the most popular you can expect to leverage with your blog.
You may be familiar with Google AdSense, but there are actually numerous ad programs you can apply for and use on your website. Platforms like Media.net for example are an alternative to AdSense.
Ads don’t typically pay well unless you have a lot of targeted traffic and are using a network.
I LOVE advertising networks, they make the whole advertising process profitable and easy. In the past you would have to play around with ad placements and you would typically get paid a small amount per click and impression.
Advertising networks have a special relationship with Google and premium advertisers so you’re able to make much more money if you can get accepted into an ad network.
How To Get Accepted Into An Ad Network
You need to reach a certain amount of traffic and page views before you can apply to an ad network. Some networks require you to have 10,000 visitors a month, others want a minimum of 30,000 visitors a month.
Focus on your content and building your website to at least 600 visitors a month, then start to look at advertising networks.
What networks should I consider?
- Ad Thrive
- Media Vine
The BEST way to monetize a new blog. Affiliate marketing is promoting products and getting a commission.
I’ve made tens of thousands of dollars from affiliate marketing. These commissions are from a dating product that costs $50 I promoted back when I had a dating blog for women:
Amazon Associates is probably the first program you should sign up for and use on your website. With Amazon Associates you can promote products sold on Amazon and receive a small commission
Here are my results from a four month old blog that has 25 pages of content:
With just a bit of work, I’m now making almost $100 a month from a blog. At this rate Amazon will be a big part of this websites earnings.
Affiliate Marketing Network
With affiliate marketing you have numerous networks you can leverage. There are some professional networks like NeverBlue.com – but these networks are designed for pay per click marketers typically.
Instead you can sign up for:
- Click Bank
- JV Zoo
These are the most popular networks.
Last are independent programs. These programs are run by individual business or content creators. Simply go to a website and look for a link in the footer for “affiliates” or “partners” or something like that. That’s how I became and affiliate for Evan Marc Katz. I found his site, liked his content and thought his product would be a great fit for my website.
This only works once you have decent traffic to your blog, but if you’re able to build out an audience companies will reach out to you to see if you would be willing to write a review of specific product or service they provide.
This is a win-win for you because the company will pay you to write the post and then on top of that they will give you an affiliate link so you get a commission if anyone purchases through your link.
Sponsored posts are not an option when starting out but it’s something to be aware of.
Your best bet would be to position yourself as a professional. Don’t blog about inappropriate topics. Drew Binsky used to blog at TheHungryPartier.com but changed his domain name to DrewBinsky.com. Why? The first domain name was not a brand companies would feel comfortable working with.
Create Your Own Products
The last way blogs make money is through creating various products and services. There are SO many options in this space.
Before you rush out and create a product you need to know who your audience is, what they want, how to market to them and what format they like the most.
Most bloggers don’t know this and waste time creating courses and ebooks their audience does not want.
One of the original ways to make money with a blog is to sell your own ebooks. You can create an ebook and sell it on Kindle or on your website. I sell my ebook through Gumroad because I can charge a price of what it is worth.
You can create online courses and sell them. For this your options are to use teachable.com or Udemy. One Udemy your courses will sell for $5-8 no matter what you price them at due to Udemy always running various discounts.
Udemy is ideal if you’re wanting to create a lot of niche specific 3+ hour courses on specific topics. Though your courses will sell for very little on Udemy, it can become a very passive income source if your courses rank organically in Udemy.
Teachable is generally the superior way to go for bloggers. With Teachable, you’re able to create a few high level, expensive courses and charge a lot of money for. They also have a built in affiliate program so you’re able to make quite a nice amount of money.
Last is selling physical products. For this you can sign up to Merch by Amazon that allows you to sell T Shirts, you can create and sell note books on Amazon, sell products on Etsy (or be an affiliate for Etsy) or your can create a private label product and re-brand it as your own.
START A BLOG CONCLUSION
So that is it for my “how to start a blog” guide. This guide is updated on a monthly basis.
If you liked it, share it. It’s always appreciated.