How to Start a WordPress Blog Quickly and Cheaply (+ FREE Blog Planner)

with 4 Comments | Start a blog
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through them I get a commission at no extra cost to you.

Wondering how to start a blog? That’s brilliant! My heart jumps for joy that you are here. And I can’t wait to help you take your first steps on your new blogging adventure.

Learn the SECRET SAUCE to starting a blog like a pro. This tutorial walks you through the steps necessary to set up hosting, install WordPress and make your blog pretty.

Starting your own blog is easier than you think (it will probably take you longer to read this article about how to start a blog than it will take you to actually set up a blog). Seriously, you can have your blog up and running in 10 minutes or less. No technical knowledge required.

I’m gonna hold your hand through the entire process of starting a new blog. In fact, I want to see you succeed so much, I’ll even give you my blog planner (worth $20) for FREE.

FREE blog planner when you start a blog TODAY

Printable blog planner (free when you buy your hosting via this blog post)As a bonus when you start a blog via any of the Bluehost links in this post, I’ll send you my 20+ pages blog planner. This is the same planner I use to stay on top of things and I promise it will help you too.

NOTE: This blog is hosted by Bluehost. Because you are my awesome reader you can now start your blog for as little as $2.95/month. That’s a 63% discount on the monthly hosting price, plus you get a free domain when you set up a blog through my special link.

When I started blogging 10+ years ago, I could barely find any information about how to start a blog. People were not building blogging careers back then. And making money with a blog was as rare as unicorns. So I made all the mistakes in the book. I stumbled and fell and built a better blog next time. I wish I had this guide back then. It would have saved me MANY sleepless nights.

So let’s break the main goal (starting a blog) into smaller, immediately achievable steps. I always use this approach because I believe having clear, easy to follow instructions is the most efficient way to get things done TODAY (not someday).

How to start a WordPress blog in 6 easy steps:

1. Define your blog’s purpose
2. Get hosted
3. Choose a domain name
4. Start building your awesome WordPress blog
5. Create a personalized email address
6. Make your blog your own

Step 1. Define your blog’s purpose

This very moment, right here and now, is the cornerstone of your blogging story. And I genuinely want your blogging story to be a long and successful one.

I know you are eager for me to cut to the chase and show you how to start a blog, but before you roll up your sleeves, I want to make sure you will blog with intention and for the right reasons.

So I’m gonna ask you two questions – why do you want to start a blog and what do you want to blog about?

Why do you want to start a blog?

There are many reasons why you can start a blog. You want to:

  • Start a side hustle
  • Boost sales for an existing business
  • Build your freelancing career
  • Publish a book
  • Have a creative outlet

There’s no right or wrong answer. But I want you to look beyond these immediate benefits.

Let me put it this way. You don’t want to make money for the sake of adding more zeros to your bank account. What you want are financial freedom and a certain lifestyle.

So let’s unearth the real reason you want to launch a blog and for this I want you to do a little exercise.

Ask yourself, why do I want to start a blog? What do I hope to accomplish by starting blogging? Whatever your answer is, ask yourself why again. Repeat the question 3-4 times, until you have a clear picture and figure out the real reason you want to start a blog.

Now you are up to something. Once you can envision the lifestyle you aim for and establish a measurable goal, you’ll feel inspired and motivated from the inside.

What do you want to blog about?

The what is important because it will lead you to your why.

A surefire way to choose what to blog about is to ask yourself:

  • What am I interested in right now?
  • What topic do I know more about than most people? (Hint: you only have to be one step ahead of your audience)
  • Are there enough people interested in this topic?

Your niche is the point where your interests and your expertise meet with what other people want. Notice I didn’t say need because people don’t usually make decisions based on what they need but rather on what they want.

It doesn’t have to be the most nichy niche. Simply choose an angle that sounds good to your in the here and now. I didn’t teach people how to start awesome blogs when I started blogging a decade ago, and chances are you won’t be blogging about the same thing for the rest of your life either. Niches are discovered and refined over time.

Step 2. Get hosted

Just like people live in houses, blogs live on servers.

There are two types of blogging platforms out there: free and paid. But in my experience, free always comes with a price. You wouldn’t build your house on rented land, would you? So you shouldn’t host your blog on a free platform either.

Going with a paid web hosting service is really inexpensive. So it’s a no-brainer, in my opinion.

There is a gazillion of web hosting providers out there, but I always recommend Bluehost because setting up a blog with them is super easy and extremely affordable (only $2.95/month). No other shared hosting company has an edge over them.

Do you trust me?

Then CLICK HERE to go to Bluehost (the Bluehost website will open in a new tab in your browser so you can reference these instructions as you work).

Once the page opens, click the green get started now button in the middle.
How to start a blog for only $3.95/month - Get started with Bluehost

Select your plan

Bluehost offers 4 hosting plans (basic, plus, prime, and pro). Choose the one that’s right for you.

However, if you are just starting, the basic plan is probably all you need for now. You can upgrade anytime.

All plans come with a FREE domain name for the first year.

Now click the green select button under your plan of choice to go to the next step.
How to start a blog on Bluehost - Select your hosting plan

Step 3. Choose a domain name

Your domain name is the address people will type in the browser to access your blog. For example, bylauraiancu.com is my domain.

Tips for choosing a great domain name:
  • Make it easy to spell, pronounce, and remember
  • Avoid using numbers and special characters
  • Keep it short (under 15 characters)
  • If .com is not available, explore other extensions, like .net, .org, .me, .photography, .travel, etc.
  • Make it relevant to your what (see step 1)
  • Make it brandable

Option 1: If you don’t have a domain name, get a free one by typing it in the box on the left. Choose .com or a different extension from the drop-down menu. Click next.

Option 2: If you’ve already registered a domain name with another domain registrar, type it to the right. Don’t worry, this will only identify your account for now. Click next.

Option 3: In case you don’t have a domain name and you can’t make up your mind just yet, there’s a third option. Simply move your mouse cursor around the screen and a popup window will show giving you the option to choose free domain later. Click the green button and move to the next step. You will be allocated a temporary domain name and prompted to grab your free domain name after your sign up is complete.

If you feel stuck and need help choosing a domain name I am happy to help. Simply post your question on my free Facebook group for fabulous women bloggers and entrepreneurs and tag me so I won’t miss it.

How to start a blog - Get a free domain

Create your account

It’s time to fill in your details, choose the length of your hosting plan and introduce your payment info.

The account details are pretty straightforward – simply type in your name, address, and email. These details will show on your invoice, so double-check them (although you can make changes later and your invoice will be updated in real time). The email is the most important part here. Make sure you have access to this email because this is where your log in details will be sent.

Now scroll down to the package information. Choose the length of your plan – the longer, the cheaper the monthly rate gets.

I highly recommend the 36-month plan (only $106.20 for the first 3 years) or even the 60-month plan (only $177 for the first 5 years) because you end up saving tons of money. Alternatively, you can opt for the 12-month plan for $59.40 or the 24-month plan for $94.80, but subsequent years will renew at $95.88/year.

Uncheck everything else except domain privacy.

I recommend you pay for the domain privacy because this way the personal details you typed above (name & address) won’t show publicly in the WHOIS database. However, if you registered as a company and you’ll display your address on your website anyway, paying for domain privacy doesn’t make much sense.

Next, introduce your payment details (I guess no explanation is necessary here). Check the terms of service box and click the green submit button.

How to start a blog on WordPress - Create Bluehost hosting account

Create a password

The new screen will welcome you to Bluehost and ask you to choose a password for your account. Click the create your password button.

Choose a complex password following Bluehost’s instructions (8-30 characters, at least 1 lower and 1 uppercase letter, a number, a special character). Write password down, tick the terms of service box and click next.

You’ve successfully created a new password screen will appear. Click on the blue log in button.

How to start a blog - Create a Bluehost password

Step 4. Start building your awesome WordPress blog

In September 2017, Bluehost has made some major improvements. What does this mean for you? It means that WordPress comes automatically installed on your Bluehost account and can start building your awesome blog right away.

Not sure what WordPress is?

Let’s use an analogy. When you build a house, you need tools. If you buy the wrong tools… Oh boy, you’ll never make progress, no matter how hard you try. But if you buy the right tools you’ll have a brand new house in no time.

This is exactly what WordPress is – a tool that will make your blog awesome and easy to manage. It is also the most popular blogging platform out there and it’s completely free.

Should you pick a theme now?

Once you’ve created your password in the previous step and clicked on the blue log in button, Bluehost will tempt you with some free themes.

Don’t overthink this. They offer these themes to everyone, so many people have them installed and you want your blog to look unique, right?

Just pick the one that catches your eye first. You’ll probably end up changing it later on anyways.

How to start a WordPress blog with Bluehost - Pick a theme

Start building your blog

Whether you clicked the skip this step button or installed a theme, the next screen will look like this.

How to start a WordPress blog with Bluehost - Start building your awesome WordPress blog

Click on the blue start building button. This will take you to your brand new WordPress dashboard.

On the left-hand side, you will see a dark grey column. This is your WordPress menu. It might look intimidating right now, but you will actually become very familiar with it. Believe me, it’s not as complicated as it looks.

On the right-hand side, you’ll be asked What kind of site can we help you set up – business or personal. I recommend you skip this and click on the I don’t need help link. The alternative is a series of questions you might not have the answers to right away.

How to start a WordPress blog with Bluehost - WordPress dashboardFor the time being, your blog will display a welcome page courtesy of Bluehost. As soon as you are ready to launch your blog, you can make it public from your WordPress dashboard.

Future WordPress logins

If you registered a new domain name in step 3, your WordPress dashboard login URL will look like this http://www.yournewblog.com/wp-admin (you can also find it in the welcome email Bluehost sent you).

If you used an existing domain in step 3, you will have to change the nameservers to point to your new blog. For this, you have to log into your domain registrar and change the DNS nameservers with the Bluehost ones as you received them in your welcome to Bluehost email (they usually are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com). If you can’t figure out where to enter your new nameservers, I suggest you call your domain registrar and ask for their help.

Step 5. Create a personalized email address

Every time I see a blogger still using a gmail.com or yahoo.com email address, it makes me cringe. Having a personalized email address ending in your own custom domain will make your communication with readers and clients so much more professional. And Bluehost makes this step super easy.

Back in your hosting account, simply go to email and then click the create an email account button.

In the first field, enter the first part of your email address, like hello or yourownname. I recommend you stay away from info or contact because they sound too impersonal. Right next to it, you should see the awesome domain name you chose in step 3.

In the fields below, enter your password and then retype it. Remember to write it down next to the previously created ones.

Choose any of the default webmail clients. Then select unlimited mailbox size. Click create.

How to start a blog on Bluehost - Create a custom email address

How to set a forwarder

You could access your email online through Bluehost webmail (by going to https://login.bluehost.com/hosting/webmail), but you certainly don’t want to do that.

What you want to do instead is set a forwarder. This way, every time an email is sent to your pretty email address, Bluehost automatically forwards it to your usual email address. I recommend using a Gmail account for this because it’s so easy to check even from an app on your mobile.

Step 1: Forwarding all emails to your usual email address

In the left sidebar, you will see written forwarding (image above). Click on it, and then on add email forwarder. In the address to forward field choose your newly created pretty email address. Below, in destination options, choose forward to this address and type in the email address where you will actually check your email from. Click submit.

Step 2: Sending emails from Gmail as your custom email address

Log into your Gmail account and go to settings. Under accounts and imports look for send email as. Click add another email address and type in your personalized email address.

That’s it! Now you can easily check and reply to emails from your usual Gmail account or the Gmail app. All the sender will ever see is your pretty email address that ends with your custom domain name.

See, you’ve just started your blog and you already look like a pro. Way to go!

Step 6. Make your blog your own

Congrats! You’ve made it! You are the proud owner of a new blog! Now it’s time to get your creative juices flowing or call upon your muse.

Make your blog pretty

WordPress has thousands of free themes to choose from. You will find them all under appearance >> themes >> add new. Choose a theme you like. You can change it anytime. Alternatively, you can go for a premium theme like Divi, the most intuitive and widely used WordPress theme out there or get an elegant theme designed with a girl boss in mind by Lindsey from Pretty Darn Cute Design.

Get a beautiful logo

A logo is as unique as you are and your blog surely can’t do without one. If you are not a digital whiz yourself, Barbara will design a gorgeous watercolor logo for you. Seriously, she is amazing!

If you want to take things to the next level, I also wrote a detailed post on blog design and branding.

Make your blog functional

Plugins are cool bits of software that once installed, will expand the functionality of your blog. Plugins like Akismet (protects your blog from spam) and Yoast SEO (helps you with the on-page SEO) are a must. However, try to keep the number of plugins under 20.

Play it safe

If you are a total noob and you think you might need help with the tech stuff, WPMatic has you covered – from blog customization to 24/7 WordPress support.

Write your first blog post

Start writing your first article by going to posts >> add new on the left-hand side of your WordPress dashboard. Remember to add some images too.

Look professional out of the box

In my FREE email course, From Fog To Blog, I walk you through all the steps you need to take from zero to launching a successful blog. I also wrote a post about the 10 things you need to do before the big date.

Make money blogging

My guess is that you’ve embarked on this blogging journey because you want to supplement your income or make a living online, among other things. My post on how to start with affiliate marketing will help you take the first steps towards your income goals.

Start growing your email list

MailerLite is the easiest platform to start growing your email list on. I’ve been using them for months and wholeheartedly recommend them.

If you need help, I wrote a detailed guide to getting started with MailerLite. Oh, and did I mention they are FREE up to 1,000 subscribers?

Get social

Sign up for some popular social media networks, like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Did you start a blog via one of the Bluehost links in this post? Don’t forget to claim your FREE copy of my printable blog planner (a $20 value!). Simply enter your domain name and email below and I’ll send it to you.

How to launch a self-hosted WordPress blog on a budget. You can start a profitable blog and make money from home. Just follow this step-by-step tutorial on starting a blog with Bluehost. Seriously, this beginner guide to starting a blog is the best!
From Fog To Blog - FREE email course

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4 Responses

  1. Tara
    | Reply

    You make starting a blog so simple, nicely done.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Starting a blog IS simple. Growing it into a biz… well, that’s where things get a bit more… interesting. But not impossible 🙂

  2. Annette Lane
    | Reply

    Thank you so very much. I didn’t know anything about the email forwarding. What a great idea. For Facebook, should the FB page be a page of my personal page or created completely separate? I look forward to your continuing posts.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Hi Annette, glad you found the email forwarding idea helpful 🙂 Regarding Facebook, I think it’s a bit more complicated. The truth is, Facebook pages don’t get much engagement nowadays. When it comes to free engagement, personal profiles get more engagement. However, Facebook pages have a huge advantage – you can create ads. So if you are open to investing some money in your blog, FB pages are a good option. But I have to say, FB ads have a learning curve. You will most likely go through some trial and error before you see the desired results.

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