How To Start a Blog in 2020 – Beginner’s Guide18 min read
So you want to start a blog ey? That’s great, but how? Just a couple of months ago I was asking the same question, but now look at me! I am not going to claim that it’s hard nor is it easy. From my own experience setting up this personal blog, it can be quite time-consuming. It had taken many hours of googling around, but finally here is my masterpiece!
I consider myself to know quite a lot about blogging and what kind of software to use. I have experimented with many different ones, Joomla CMS, Tumbler, but most notably WordPress. It is WordPress that I have used for this blog. You may look at my site and think: Dammn that is very nice, but how the heck will I, a beginner be able to do something like that? Well, I can assure you that it is not that hard. In fact, it is quite easy once you get the hang of it.
Why should you make your own blog?
So I am going to get this question right off my back. There are many premade alternatives out there such as Medium, Blogger and Tumbler, but that’s not cool. They might force ads upon your visitors, and most notably they usually do not share a piece of the cake of the ad revenue. Having your own blog with its own domain is just a much better alternative in so many ways! Why? Well there are several benefits, just to name a few:
- With your own blog you have full control and ownership over your content. You do not need to have those pesky ads pooing up on your visitors screen, giving you, the author nothing in return!
- Expose yourself! You will have something fantastic to share with all of your friends. And if you like to brag, then you can do so as well. “look at my blog”. 🙂
In personal experience it may also be a great way to improve your writing skills, and hey! Becoming a better writer is always good. It can also be a fun way to help others.
Get rich! Money money money, it’s so funny in a rich man’s world. No, but in all seriousness, paid reviews, advertisement, outreach can be more profitable than you might think! In fact. if you manage to get your blog popular and have passion for it, you might just make a living off it! Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?
Let’s get started, let’s make you an awesome blog to write your amazing articles on!
Choose your blog’s name
Alright, so how do we actually start a blog?
It all starts with the name. If you already have a great name for your blogs, that’s fine too, but here are some general things to think of when choosing a name.
Is the blog personal or for a niche. If it is a personal one then the name of your blog could be just that, your name! JohnWanker.com is great for when you might just want to post reviews, blog about your daily experiences and so on. It also has many other benefits such as the domain name nearly almost being available for registration, unlike niche related names. Choosing a niche related name such as WordPresstutorials.com also has its benefits though. It is good if you want to focus on just writing tutorials for WordPress.
I would personally recommend NameCheap for checking if that particular domain name is available. If you are not quite sure how to register your domain you can check out their tutorial here.
Great so you got your brand new domain, now what? You need to point the domain to your current host, or if you do not already have a host then you need to buy one! I will describe this in the next step.
Buy WordPress hosting
A first step when it comes to starting a blog is hosting. You have a couple of options. Either you can go with regular Shared hosting, the simpler option, or you can choose VPS hosting. You also have the opportunity to host the site right off your PC, although this is not recommended as you would require to have it running 24/7 and its stability would not be so good. Nevertheless, this is still a great option if you plan on developing your site and testing out everything before you go live!
Shared Hosting: A good alternative if you have a personal blog, but you do not have the best budget. It is also very simple as you have everything inside a control panel. Most hosting providers use the same control panel, Cpanel.
VPS Hosting: This is a good option if you want to have absolute control over your blog. Unlike Shared hosting, you can install whatever software you require/want. Although bear in mind that this option is not so user-friendly, nor is it particularly budget-friendly. For this, you need to use an SSH, a console window.
So how do we setup WordPress blog in a shared hosting container?
Step 1: Buy a shared hosting plan
It is important to choose a stable, yet affordable shared hosting plan for your blog. When deciding on what hosting company to go with I would take price, stability/uptime, and performance into consideration. In this tutorial, I will go through how we can setup HostUp’s shared hosting every step of the way. Transparency is important and you can check out its uptime here, which as of writing this is 100%!
So once you are at its landing page I would recommend going with its cheapest plan at $4.95 per month, or annually for $3.7 per month. You have the opportunity to upgrade later if you should happen to go crazy on your writing, but this will be enough for any small-midsize blog.
Alright so to buy this plan simply follow this link to get to the checkout page. Once there you have a few options. You could either register a brand new domain with them or you can use the existing domain that you got at Namecheap. The choice is up to you. It makes it easier to start a blog if you go directly with HostUp, but if you already have a domain you will need to do one extra step and update your nameservers to point to theirs. I will show you how to do this later in the tutorial.
On the next page you have a few options namely billing cycle and SSL.
This is not required as HostUp includes free SSL in all plans. But if you would rather have one of these then the choice is yours. In this tutorial, we will go with the default though. Click continue and checkout.
Step 2: Login and install WordPress
Congratulations, the hardest step is over! (yes looking around for hours after my credit card is not fun). Now. your next step towards starting a blog is just one click away, or two.
Once your order is paid you should get an email with your login credentials to the Cpanel. Navigate to cpanel.hostup.org and enter your credentials. The site should look something like this depending on whether you are on your mobile or desktop.
Once logged in just scroll down to the bottom of the page or use the search function and find WordPress Manager. It should be under applications like so:
Great, halfway there. After you clicked in the press the “install now” button to start the installation process.
This process should only take a few seconds. It will then give you a password and username for your author/admin account. The login URL for this is https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/. (just remember to replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name).
Alternatively, VPS Hosting
If you followed the Shared hosting tutorial, then click here to skip this section.
If you do not feel like using Shared hosting you can use VPS hosting. The setup process for this might be a little bit more advanced. Nevertheless here it is:
Step 1: Order VPS hosting
Go to HostUp’s VPS section, and select VPS #2. You can find the direct order link for this here.
Root Password: your preferred password to the server. Just make sure to exclude any special characters as it can cause problems later down the road.
Alright, so after you have entered your configurations, click continue and checkout. Great! Now all you need to do to access your VPS is to log in to your client area and go to services and select your VPS.
If you scroll down you should see your control panel. Click HTML 5 serial console to access your VPS.
Wonderful! Next you want to create a session:
After you have clicked “create session” you should see the notorious console as we mentioned in the start. We are now ready to continue to the next step, installation of WordPress on your VPS.
Install everything on your VPS
Awesome! You now got yourself a VPS, however it is rather empty as you probably know. Let’s change that! This is the hardest technical know-how part in the beginners tutorial, but I will try to guide you though as best as I can.
Installation of web server
So first we need to install a web server to run the WordPress software. To do this is quite simple. Just follow this tutorial on How to Install Nginx. There is a few basic things that you need to know if you have never done this before. The $ sections are representing the command code that you need to enter into the console.
So for example if it says:
You simply need to type that into the console window and hit enter on your keyboard.
Installation of WordPress software
Great you managed to follow through the first tutorial. The 2nd one is pretty much the same thing, only longer. You can find it here: How to install WordPress. Although it is important that you read everything as I have listed two different ways to install WordPress on (sub directory and main directory) and you should only choose one of them. I would recommend the main directory one.
Congratulations you have now installed & configured WordPress.
The login URL for this is https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/. (just remember to replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name).
Write your first article
So now that we have gone through how to install WordPress I think it is time for you to start doing what you were longing to do from the very start; start blogging.
Alright so once you are logged in you need to navigate to Posts > Add New Once there you can simply start writing. WordPress is very user-friendly and I hope that you do not get stuck from now on. To write in WordPress is just as simple as writing in Google Docs.
Once done click the publish button in your top right corner and woops, the blog article is instantly published!
Making WordPress look nice by adding a Theme
You have probably noticed that your blog might not look as nice as others right out of the installation. That is because most other blogs are utilizing the WordPress theme function. I am personally using a heavily modified copy of the Gridlove WordPress theme. It can be a bit heavy on the wallet, especially since you just learnt how to start blog but there are a lot of other free alternatives! Just Google around after WordPress themes until you find one you like or choose from the many available ones already ready from within WordPress.
Installing a theme from within WordPress
Navigate to Appearance > Themes
You already have a few to choose from here, but there are even more to choose from if you click the “+ add new theme” window. Here you can find 1000s of different awesome looking themes. To add on of them, simply hover over them and click install. Once installed, click activate and woosh, you got yourself a brand new layout!
Installing bought WordPress themes?
So let’s say that you have found your perfect theme for WordPress elsewhere, how the heck do you actually get it on your website? It is quite simple! On the same page as before, click upload theme:
Once uploaded you can find it with the rest of your themes. Then you just need to click activate as we did above.
So the next and final step in this how to start a blog beginners tutorial is the plugins section within WordPress.
Plugins is the backbone of WordPress blogging. You simply can not be without them! They allow you to add features without any sort of technical know-how, perfect for beginners! My blog has quite a lot of plugins installed, although you might not notice it straight away.
Here is a picture of what the plugins that I am using allows me to do:
As you can see, one of them allows for social media buttons with tracking. The other one allows for seeing how many times this article has been viewed/read.
This is examples of addons that contributes towards a better user experience. However there is also more ‘hidden’ plugins that I like, and you will probably love them as well! So let’s get to it!
First you need to navigate to Plugins > Add new.
Once there you can simply use the search box and search for whatever function you’d like to have on your blog. Yes really, it is that simple!
So let’s say that you want to add similar social media buttons as I have on my blog. Simply search for ‘social sharing buttons‘, and click install like so:
Great! The same principe is used for all plugins. But now you may ask yourself, what kind of plugins is good to have? Well it’s your lucky day because here comes a list of what I think is the most useful plugins for starting a blog.
Great plugins to have
Not surpricing as I mentioned this before. But this might just be the best plugin for your newly started blog. It adds social media buttons and is simply just great, not to mention it is free as well!
a3 Lazy Load improves the performance and page loading speed drastically if you are like me and want to include a lot of images in your posts. It works by only loading the image once the visitor reaches that part of the page, saving bandwidth and time!
By far one of the most popular plugins out there! It let you know how readable you text is and comes with suggestions on how to improve it. It can be anything from sentence length, to transition words.
This is quite an unknown plugin, but I have used it for a couple of months now and it works amazing! It does what it says it does: solves spam. Before I activated this plugin I was getting around 400 spam comments from bots. Now I am only getting legit comments on my blog. It is very convenient and I high recommend you to use this as well.
Finally Blockonomics. This can be a great plugin if you wish to accept orders via Bitcoin on your website, without any 3rd party. It can be that you setup a separate section on your blog where you can accept payments for you to review products.
That’s it! That wasn’t so hard was it now? 🙂 I know I am totally exhausted after writing this blog, you are probably too after reading it :P. So why not just reward yourself with a cup of coffee and a nice chocolate cookie. Nevertheless, if you need any further assistance with your blog you are more than welcome to just comment down below. If not, then maybe just say hi in the comments and introduce yourself with a link to your blog for some awesome feedback. See you around :).