We know why you're here.
You've made the decision to build your own little corner of the internet, but you don't know how to take the next step.
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
~ Mark Twain
Starting a blog from scratch can be a daunting task. Maybe you don't see yourself as a "technical person", and just want to start publishing online.
You've probably looked elsewhere for instructions on how to start a blog, but the guides were either too technical or didn't give enough information.
Or maybe they tried to sell you a bunch of products instead of giving you the information. Or maybe you just didn't understand.
Well, that's in the past. We're going to show you how to start a blog from scratch, and don't worry! If you follow our instructions, it will be relatively painless.
We're going to be your personal Blogging Sherpas, guiding you while you pick a blog host, create a domain name, and install the software you need for your blog. And it will make sense.
Even if you're not a technical person.
If you don't know why you should start a blog, then consider reading some reasons why first.
We're asked this constantly, partly because people don't really know what blogging is, and partly because of our experience creating blogs.
We've worked on some of the most popular websites and blogs in the world, helping them improve their blog designs, software, and sales. Our experience makes us uniquely qualified to teach you how to start a blog.
Our websites have been featured in places like TIME, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and many other mainstream publications.
Over the years our clients have paid us lots of money for our expertise of setting up blogs. But we'll be giving you this information for free. You don't owe us a penny. (Though if you'd like to write and say thanks, we would appreciate that!)
If you're willing to follow our instructions closely, we'll show you
Every step of the process will be laid out with helpful images and videos, and we'll also provide other helpful resources for your blogging journey. We've made the process as simple as possible, all you have to do is follow the steps.
So grab a cup of coffee (or tea or whatever your favorite beverage is), and let's get started.
If you're building an online presence, it's definitely worth it to have your own corner of the internet. A domain name is simply the public address where your blog will live (like blogfuse.com or yourblognamehere.com).
We use a tool called Domainr to quickly find domains. It instantly searches available domain names as you type, cutting the research time down greatly.
When you find a domain name that is available and that you want, write it down for later. You don't want to register it through Domainr because you'll be getting it for free with our recommended blog hosting (more on this in the next step).
If you're needing help with this step, you can use the same process that we use to find domains for every site we start.
Use Domainr to brainstorm a domain name (without purchasing)
A web host is the service that will be showing your blog on the internet. They host the actual web pages and media (images and video). It's best to use a paid provider for this, as they're only a few bucks a month and give you tools like 1-click installation of blog software that make setup incredibly simple.
Our recommendation would be to use InMotion. They're fast and reliable, and they have a 30-day money back guarantee. (This goes up to 90 days if you have one of their more expensive packages.) On top of that, InMotion will give you a free domain name, which will save you around $10.
InMotion has a sale right now, offering their hosting for $3.49/month. This tier normally runs for $7.99/month, so it's a fantastic deal. Owning a blog for less than a latte a month... that's hard to beat.
Here's a visual walk through of registering your site with InMotion.
Congratulations! You've just purchased your own little corner of the Web. This is a big step...savor the moment.
Once you've signed up for their blog hosting and picked your free domain name, you're ready for installing your software.
If you're using a different blog host or weren't able to install Wordpress when you signed up for web hosting, you can use the directions below to install Wordpress a couple different ways.
We recommend Wordpress, as it's the most widely-used and supported blog software on the planet. There's a huge developer community that supports the software, which is good for you. Wordpress is also open source software, which means that you don't have to pay a dime for it. It's given freely to the public.
Just because it's free doesn't mean that Wordpress is low quality. Not at all. In fact, some of the largest news organizations in the world use Wordpress to power websites that receive millions of visitors a month.
Here's a video on how to install Wordpress quickly at InMotion.
If you're having trouble registering with InMotion, you can always contact their customer support and have them set the blog up for you.
(If you've already installed Wordpress, than you can jump to the next section of the next section)
Let's say that your host doesn't offer the nifty one-click installation like InMotion. Here's a quick tutorial on how to install Wordpress with its' own built-in installer.
Before we begin, you'll need to gather these tools:
Before you begin you'll have to make sure that your web host meets the minimum hosting requirements for Wordpress. Most web hosts do, but it's good to check just in case.
You'll need some information from your web host. Hopefully you'll have a MySQL database, and if you don't ask your host to create one for you. You'll need to find these things out about the database:
Next, download the latest version of Wordpress, and unzip (or extract) the file onto your computer's hard drive. (The unzipping is often done automatically by clicking the file once it's downloaded.) Make sure the folder is someplace where you'll be able to find it quickly. (The desktop usually works best.)
Here's where the instructions get a little more difficult. (See why we recommend the 1-click installation?):
Find the unzipped folder of wordpress on your desktop. Open the folder.
Fire up your FTP client. Once you've gotten your FTP credentials from your web host, you'll need to use them to access the server. After you've gotten that information and logged in via FTP, navigate to the folder that you'll be placing your blog at. (This is going to be different for nearly every web host out there, so you'll need to read some documentation on how to find that.)
If you want your blog to live in the root of your domain (ie. "yourblog.com"), then you'll need to navigate to the root of your web server.
If you want your blog to live in a sub-directory (ie. "yourblog.com/blog"), then you'll need to create that folder (ie "blog") in your root and upload the Wordpress files into that.
Once you've navigated to that folder in your FTP client, switch over to your computer's desktop. You can either a) open the folder and Select All files and drag them into the FTP window or b) just drag the folder over. (In the picture, I've just dragged the folder over.)
Now switch to your web browser (Safari, Chrome, etc.) and go to the address of where you uploaded the Wordpress files. So if you wanted to keep it in the root of your domain, you would go to http://yourblog.com/. (It's the same directory that the file index.php lives in.)
You should see this screen:
[Pick a language (most likely English) and hit continue.
On the next screen you'll see a bunch of options, but ignore them (for now). Go to the bottom and hit "Let's go!"
Next you'll want to go back into the database information you collected and put in the information into the form. Click the button to continue.
Now, the moment of truth... hit the "Run the Install" button.
If everything worked, you should see a Welcome message and a form below to fill in details about your blog. These are fairly straightforward, except for the last question. "Allow search engines to index this site". If you're wanting your blog to remain "off the grid" for testing purposes or privacy, uncheck this. Otherwise leave checked. (You can change this in your Wordpress settings at any time after you've installed the blog.)
Just hit the "Log in" button this screen to..
Log in to your Wordpress dashboard.
Now on to the fun part: Writing your first post.
This section is all about writing your first blog post. First you'll want to log in to your Wordpress admin area. You can get there by adding /wp-admin/ to the end of your blog's url. So if your blog is at http://www.yourblogsite.com, then your admin area lives at http://www.yourblogsite.com/wp-admin/.
Now that you're logged in, the easiest way to create a post is to click the "+ New" link in header of the admin area.
You can also get there by click on the "Posts" then "Add New" in the sidebar. In the new post screen you'll add a title and the body to your post, and that's really all you have to do.
By default the editor is in "Visual" mode, which means it's a lot like typing an email in Gmail or a similar email program. Use the visual editor--also known as a WYSIWYG editor--to easily insert links, images and other important formatting elements. These are the buttons on top of the text area. If you don't know a lick of HTML, then the Visual Editor is your friend.
If you are somewhat comfortable editing HTML, then click the "Text" tab on the Body editor in the upper-right corner of the text area. This allows you to write and edit in straight HTML. It's a good skill to have, but certainly not necessary.
Here's a video that gives more details on how to create and edit posts in Wordpress.
You've done it! You've picked a domain, set up blog hosting, and published your first post on your own blog. Congratulations!
If you're wanting to take the customziations to your blog a step further, keep reading on. Here are a few things that you can easily change that can bump your blog from average to unique.
Now that you've got a brand new blog, you might want to customize how it looks and feels. Here are some of our recommended
The look and feel of your blog is created with themes. Wordpress comes installed with a few default themes, and if you're wanting to just get your blog up as quickly as possible, you can change your theme later. At some point though you'll want to update the look of your site so that it's unique to you and your brand.
Designing a Wordpress theme is a bit beyond the scope of this tutorial, but fortunately there is a large community of Wordpress designers constantly building and creating more themes. Here are a few of our favorite themes.
There are quite a few places to find third party themes. Some are free, some are premium. Here are a few of our favorites.
When you're picking a theme for your blog it's good to have themes that are optimized for mobile websites. You'll want to look for keywords like "responsive design" and "mobile optimized" to make sure you blog looks great on mobile too. (Most modern themes support this out of the box, but it's good to make sure.)
Here are instructions for chaning the theme on your blog.
Plugins are extra pieces of functionality that can be added to your blog to extend the blog's usefulness. There is only one plugin that we recommend everyone install on their blog, and it comes shipped with Wordpress. Akismet is Wordpress' comment spam prevention plugin. Comment spam can be a massive problem for blogs, and using Akismet will nearly eliminate any spam before it touches your blog.
Comment spam can be extremely distructive for a blog, and can even overrun one over time if left unchecked. That's why it's a good idea to use a spam protection plugin like Akismet.
Akismet works by registering through Akismet.com, where they give you a custom code to verify your site and start catching spam. (Note: If you don't want to have comments on your blog, then you don't really need to install Akismet.)
Here's how to set up Akismet from inside the Admin area of your blog.
Navigate to the plugin page. Use the left sidebar of the navigate to the plugin area.
Activate Akismet. From the Plugins area you'll see Akismet at the top. Click the 'activate plugin' link.
Go to Akismet. You'll now see a green dialog at the top of the page with a blue button saying 'Activate your Akismet account'. Click the button .
Create Akismet account. Once at this page, click the blue 'Get your API key' button. This will take you to Akismet.com.
Once at Akismet.com, click the 'Get an Akismet Key' link. From there you'll fill out a form that creates your account.
Pick the pricing. This is a tricky step. Now that you're in the Akismet system, you get to pick a price for how much you want to pay. Click the blue button in the 'Personal' column on the left.
This will take you to a page where you can pick how much you're willing to pay for spam protection. You don't have to pay if you don't want to though. Just slide the slider on the right all the way to zero.
Enter Your API Key. Your confirmation screen will show you your personal API key (shown in green)
You'll also get an email with your personal key. Copy this key. Now go back to your Wordpress Admin area in your blog, and in the Akismet settings you can now paste your API key in the box 'Manually enter an API key'.
Hit 'Use this key'. You'll be taken to a success page with options, but you don't really need to modify any of those.
If you're stuck installing Akismet (or any other plugin), check out the video below on how to install Worpress plugins for beginners.
7. Other important settings to change. There are a few settings inside of Wordpress that you might want to change. These are the top questions we see when people try to customzie the look and functionality of their blog.
Number of posts on the homepage. Navigate to the sidebar and click "Settings" and then "Reading". On the "Blog pages show at most" settings, set it to your heart's desire for the number of blog posts to show at a time.
Disable and enable trackbacks and comments. Depending on the type of blog that you're wanting, you might not want to have comments or trackbacks
To disable comments and trackbacks, in the sidebar click "Settings" then "Discussion". You'll have a bunch of settings that change the behavior of discussions on your blog. Enforce registration to comment, disable comments, close articles after a set amount of days, and so on. These are all good measures to comabt comment spam.>
Pretty URLs. By default pags and posts are displayed with ugly parameters like ?s and = signs. You can make links much more readable (and search engine friendly) by enabling clean permalinks. To do this, navigate to the "Settings" and "Permalinks".
There are quite a few options for linking structures, but the one we mostly use is the "Post Name" setting. This makes all urls look like this:
8. Updating and maintaining your blog. Now that you've got your blog running, occasionally there are a few things that need to be kept an eye on to make sure that your blog is running smoothly.
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