How to Start a Blog with WordPress on Bluehost in 2017
Can I tell you something? I’m totally over-the-moon giddy about the fact that I actually make money doing something I love: creating DIY projects and showcasing tutorials and resources on my blog. (Hop to my latest blog growth and income report to get the details!) I started blogging eons ago, but never actually considered that blogging could be profitable. Only relatively recently, when I became a momma, did it occur to me that my little hobby could be a fun side hustle. Since then, I’ve totally stepped up my blogging game, and Home Beautifully has seen incredible growth since its launch. Yep, our Home Beautifully family has almost 30,000 family members on Instagram and over 1000 friends who’ve taken advantage of the Resource Collection. Nutty, right? When I tell my friends and family about blogging, they kind of look at me like I have 3 arms. And I get it. The writing part of blogging may come easily, but the tech you and marketing part? Not so much. The minute I say words like “hosting” or “plug in,” people shy away. But, seriously, if I can do this, anyone can! Have you ever been curious how to start a blog? Ever felt daunted to begin? No worries, pal. Keep on reading for a seriously beginner friendly tutorial on how to start a blog, even when you have absolutely no technical savvy. And as a heads up, there’s some affiliate links below for products I genuinely love and recommend to my readers.
Step 1: Find Your Niche
Alright, y’all, let’s talk about what your blog’s focus. Honestly, this first step might be the trickiest for people. I’m going to give you three tips that profoundly helped me when choosing my niche.
First Tip: Focus the Who
When choosing a topic for our blogs, it’s easy to get a little narcissistic. (It’s all about me, me, me!) The questions we ask ourselves tend to be self-reflecting. What do I care about? What am I passionate about? What could I write about endlessly? And here’s the thing: it’s important that we feel solid answering those questions. I mean, I couldn’t write endlessly about car parts, but my husband could write a book!
Here’s the thing. When we determine our niche, we need to ask ourself another, more important question: what could others learn from me?
See that shift in focus? In the end, blogging isn’t about you. It’s all about your readers. What value are you providing your readers? What lessons or tools or tips can they gain from you? How can their lives be positively impacted by what you share online?
I encourage you then when considering your niche, you shift your perspective a bit to really identify the value you can provide others, rather than just what you want to write about.
Second Tip: Niche Down
What do I mean when I say “niche down?” I mean get specific. Then get specific again. Wash and repeat. Sure you could write a blog about fashion. But a blog about fashion for curvy moms on the go? THAT’s a blog I’d want to read.
Sure, you could write about finance. But a blog about a work-from-home family with children seeking a debt free lifestyle? Sign me up.
Home Beautifully isn’t just about home decor. It’s about finding simplicity in our lives and homes, particularly through affordable, mindful choices and DIY projects. As much as I love cooking (I’m kidding, I don’t), I don’t blog about it. I also don’t blog about activities for my toddler. Or about how I do my hair. Why? Sure, because as a business coach one told me, “Cynthia, if I wanted to read a beauty article, I’d go to a beauty blogger.” Fair comment.
This isn’t of course to say that we’re not all clever, gorgeous, multidimensional people with varied interests. But why not be an expert in one area versus a dabbler in many? What would provide more value to readers?
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
If I can give any advice here, it’s this: domain names aren’t as permanent as you think they may be! If you choose a domain name and hate it a year later, change it! It’s not a marriage contract.
Okay, with that disclaimer aside, put some thought into it. Start with a long brainstorm and vet your list with a trusted friend or partner. Narrow it down to a five or six ideas, then head over to https://www.namecheckr.com/ to see if your name is available as a .com and across social media platforms.
Have you found the perfect name, but it’s not available as a .com? I might say something contentious here: choose another one. You want to make your site link as easy as possible for others to remember. What does this mean? No .net or .org or .social. And no cute spellings of words. Like, I’d avoid http://www.krazieforkookies.net all together. Although, hey! It’s available! (But, still, don’t do it. Seriously.)
Step 3: Pick a Blog Hosting Provider
Have your domain name? Awesome. Next step? Choose a hosting provider. This is service that will run your site for you. I totally recommend having a self-hosted site over having a free site through a service such as Weebly and Blogger.
Why? Control. With a self-hosted site, you get lots and lots of room to play and really make the site yours. Also, if you ever want to monetize your site, you’re going to want to have it self-hosted. (Monetize? Yep, that means make some money!)
I personally use and love Bluehost for hosting my site. Why? They’re cost-affordable, easy for non-techy people (me!), and have helpful customer service. Plus, you can almost always find coupons online.
So where do you begin? Hop over to Bluehost and click the big get started button. The screen looks something like this:
At this point, you’ll probably see BlueHost’s pricing page. They offer different levels of service. I personally use the plus plan because I manage multiple websites and domains. (Oh, cat might be out of the bag! Big surprises are heading your way with other sites!!) If you’re pretty certain you’ll only have one site, the basic would be a great option and is usually less than the cost of a latte per month. Not bad!
See how it says your domain is included? Yup, you can even get your domain through Bluehost. The process is super easy. On the next screen, you’ll see where you enter the name you’ve chosen. (And, friends, remember. We just said no to KrazieaboutKookies, right? If you’re tempted, send me an email so I can talk you out of it, mmmkay?)
On the next tab, you’re going to want to choose the specific package you want. I bought my hosting plan for 3 years so I could pay less per month and get the best value. In years past, when I didn’t have as much disposable income, I only purchased a year’s worth of hosting. Do what fits your budget!
In addition to choosing the 3 year plan, I also chose “domain privacy protection” so that when people Google my name, my site doesn’t pop up. That keeps you relatively safe from creepy ex-boyfriends or former bosses.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Alright! You have a hosting provider! Now what? Let’s install WordPress. If you imagine a playground, think of WordPress as the structure on which you can play, like the jungle gym. The great thing about using Bluehost is that WordPress is super (like super, super!) easy to install.
So how do you do it? In your Bluehost account, pop into your control panel, called your cpanel. In your welcome email from Bluehost, you should see a link that takes you right there.
Click on the image that says “One Click Install,” then click the WordPress icon. You’ll end up at a screen that looks like this:
Click on the big button, choose your domain name, and click install. Remember to write down your log in credentials so you can access your site. You can always access your WordPress site by going to http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.
Step 4: Choose a Theme
So, now you have your blog, and it’s probably looking super functional. But it may not be the style you’re wanting. In your WordPress site, look on the left side menu for “Appearance” and click “Themes.” There are lots of great paid and free options you can choose.
I personally use the HighEnd theme, which I paid for through MOJO Marketplace. Why do I love it? It has tons of functionality, including lots of drag and drop features, and the customer service is out of this world. Like, I often ask questions that sound like this: “Hey, I was trying to put that doodag thingie on the whatsit. I’m so stuck. Can you help?” And they DO. I don’t know how they do it, but they get me.
In the past, they’ve told me what special CSS to put where to make my site look exactly how I want it. So worth the cost for me.
Now, that’s not to say that I’ve always used paid themes. The first ten years or so of blogging I was all about the free themes. And you can do alot with them! If you haven’t yet, I also encourage you to sign up for the weekly freebies on Creative Market. Every now and then, they’ll have a WordPress theme as a freebie, which is SUHWEET.
Once you get your theme, you’ll be able to customize it to your heart’s desire. Depending on your theme, you’ll either want to play in the Appearances tab (I see a subtab called “HighEnd options”) or look for a special customizations tab (like mine is in the top bar!)
Step 7: Write and Write and Write
At this point, you should have a blog that’s set up, ready to go, and styled the way you like. (Or, if you’re like me, styled the way you like for that moment. Subject to change in about 20 seconds.)
Now, click the “Posts” tab in the left menu bar, then click “add new.” Then, write. And write and write and write. Go for quantity over quality, and if you get stuck, remember what we talked about allllll the way at the top of this post. That is, ask yourself: how can I provide value to my readers?
If you do start a blog, drop a comment below so I can check it out! I’d love to see! And be sure to check out all the other blogging resources on this site, including how to organize your content, how to organize your content, and why you might consider hiring a brand designer.
And if you haven’t yet strolled over to the Home Beautifully Resource Collection, definitely pop by to take advantage of dozens of free art prints, resources, e-books, and guides exclusively for the Home Beautifully family.