The Beginners Guide to Creating Your Own Kick-Ass Blog
Jobless Nation Note: I’ve updated this guide (2nd March 2018) to include the new features Bluehost has recently added to make the installation process smoother.
Jump straight into getting started creating your own blog and click here
Out of I all the amazing things that have happened in the past year, starting a blog is hands down the best thing that I’ve done for myself.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Jamie, are you crazy? You went to that outrageous music festival in Budapest that looked absolutely dope.”
“But dude, what about that time your housemates threw that amazing leaving house party and it turned into a two-day event and a sick day (oops, I guess I’m ok to mention that now that I’ve left right?).”
But here’s why:
- Starting my blog led me to think about what I really want out of life
- A blog makes you accountable
- It’s a great low-cost hobby that can actually make you money – and forge a career
- My blog has helped me reach my biggest goal, leaving my job
Now, this all might sound a little over the top but I guarantee you that anybody who has ever written a blog will tell you the same thing: writing a blog can be amazing for inspiring change in your life.
Should You Start a Blog?
Anybody can start a blog but of the people that I’ve spoken to in the last few months who have gone on to start their own blogs, these people all had one thing in common.
They had dreams of change. You do too, right?
For some people, it is the obvious stepping stone to realizing their true dreams.
Even if you don’t know what to blog about, just sitting down and writing out what your goals are for the future and what you’d like to achieve can be the first step to creating some amazing change.
Why Does a Blog Inspire Change in Your Life?
By talking about a potential idea it immediately starts to manifest because you’ve said that idea out loud and so you actively start to think about it more and that promotes change. Before you know it you’re starting to make progress towards that ‘idea’ that you originally talked about, but now it’s actually happening.
A very well known blogger called Sean Ogle talks about this a lot, talking about your dreams can turn them into reality. For him, he had joked with his friends and fiancée about flying to Vietnam and getting custom suits made for all his groomsmen as it’d be a ton cheaper than buying them in the US. After he mentioned this on his blog and also by talking to people about it, it almost forced him to go and actually do it. Accountability is a wonderful thing!
Accountability is one of the main reasons why blogging can create so much change in your life.
So without any further rambling, let’s get started, shall we?
The Beginners Guide to Creating Your Own Kick-Ass Blog
What Do You Need to Start a Blog
There are just three things that you need to get started on your own WordPress blog:
- A domain name idea (this is going to be the name of your blog i.e letsgetjobless.com)
- A web hosting account (this is the place that your blog lives online.)
- To stay off Facebook for 20-30 minutes – we need your undivided attention, please!
Have you got number three sorted? Great! Oh, and yes, you read that correctly.
You can get your own blog up and running in under 30 minutes and I’m going to walk you through the whole process. Grab yourself a coffee/beverage of your choice and let’s get stuck in.
In this guide, I will cover:
- Step 1 – Picking the correct blog platform
- Step 2 – How to setup your web hosting and receive your domain name for free
- Step 3 – How to one-click install WordPress on your blog
- Step 4 – How to get your first theme setup and installed
You can click any of the above steps to jump ahead to that section in the post.
Step 1 – Setup Your Platform
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started blogging was using the wrong platform and boy did that cost me. Not only in money but lost time too.
For the majority of WordPress users (I’m talking 90% +) a self-hosted WordPress is the best platform to build your blog on. That’s WordPress.org NOT
Not only is WordPress the largest platform online but also is one of the most adaptable:
- It’s incredibly simple to setup and free to use – Using a self-hosted platform is free and you don’t have to pay any ongoing subscription costs.
- There are absolutely tons of free themes and layouts for your blog – I’m not messing around here, there are literally millions of amazing free themes and layouts for your blog. The beauty of a self-hosted platform is, unlike WordPress.com, your blog will look truly unique.
- Your blog will be fast and will look professional – In the UK we call this, the bee’s knees. Nobody likes having a slow website and other platforms like Blogger, Wix or wordpress.com run on their own servers. Your site will usually be a lot slower than a self-hosted option.
- Your content can be easily shared through WordPress and interacted with – The beauty of self-hosted WordPress is you can add in lots of free plugins that allow sharing and commenting on your blog to be much more accessible and more appealing to do! No more ugly share buttons. Click here to learn more about plug-ins.
- You can make money from your site without any restrictions – This is hugely important for any blogger as you don’t want to be in the position where your blog suddenly becomes a huge success and you get more traffic than the local school at rush hour only to find you can’t monetize your site.
- You can use a proper domain name, instead of an ugly free one – Seriously, have you seen the domain names free sites have? Give me a nice, clean, web domain any day! letsgetjobless.wordpress.com or yourblog.blogpost.com is downright ugly. Glad you agree.
Wait… Self-Hosted WordPress Is Free? What’s the Catch?
There is no catch. The reason it’s free is that you need to do the setup yourself and host it yourself.
Basically, you need web hosting and a domain name.
Web hosting is where your website lives online. It’s your websites home. Every website needs some form of hosting.
A domain name is the name of your website and is what you type into the address bar whenever you go to a website online. This is your website’s address on the internet. Think facebook.com or letsgetjobless.com
A domain name will usually cost you around £14.99 a year, and web hosting usually costs you around £7.99 a month.
That’s a big chunk for someone just starting.
Luckily, Bluehost, my hosting provider has an offer available through my site for all Let’s Get Jobless users which will provide you with a free domain name and over 50% off on web hosting.
Why Would I Not Use a Free Option like Blogger, WordPress.com or Tumblr?
You might be thinking, dude, why would I buy a domain for web hosting when I can open my own blog up online for free?
Whoa, slow down! You might not realize it but this is the biggest decision you’re going to make before going any further, you better make sure it’s the right decision.
Many people make the assumption that a free site is great to get started on and that’s exactly what I thought when starting out. However, if you are serious about blogging and want to:
- Potentially make money from your blog in the future
- Want to look professional and stand out from the crowd
Then stepping away from the free alternative is an absolute must! Here’s why:
You Won’t Be Able to Have Your OWN Domain Name
Like I explained above, having a super ugly domain name like yourblog.blogger.com or yourblog.wordpress.com is never going to look very appealing… it hurts my eyes just looking at it. Also whenever I visit a web page with an address like that I almost always automatically assume they are an amateur and you want to be perceived as an expert from the get-go!
Limitations Baby, They Just Don’t Want You to Hit Your Full Potential
I didn’t realize until I set up my blog the first time with wordpress.com that there are actually limitations to what you can do with a free blog.
The main points:
- You can’t fully monetize your blog
- You can’t upload all your own content like videos or images that you wanted to show off
- You won’t even have access to the thousands of free themes offered up by WordPress!
In a nutshell, free options mean super limited.
Probably the Worst Part? You Don’t Even Own Your Blog
It sounds a little mad but when you use a free solution as they are hosting the website for you, you don’t own any of the content on the blog. The big risk with this is as it’s hosted on someone else’s web property is they can delete it if they want to. Nobody wants you to put countless hours into producing your blog content to then find it gets deleted out of the blue.
Luckily, you don’t have this worry with a self-hosted blog -you are the owner of your blog and nobody can take your content away from you.
Step 2 – Let’s Go Ahead to Purchasing Your Hosting and Free Domain
If you’re reading this far I’m going to assume you’ve decided to go with a self-hosted blog option.
Yippee! You’ve probably just made the best decision you could make for your blog.
You can click here to purchase your hosting, get your free URL and create your blog; then just continue to read the guide and I’ll take you through the easy steps below.
To get started follow the link and click on the big green button that says get started now.
Get Started on the Bluehost Site
Pick Your Plan – I’d Recommend Basic
The first step is to pick your plan, for every new blogger I always recommend to stick with the basic package, It’s the cheapest option to get started and gives you everything you need for your blog. If you run out of website space or want to use multiple websites in the future, you can always upgrade your package.
Think of a Domain Name, and Click Next… Try Not to Get Stuck on This Part
Once you’ve clicked to get started you’ll need to think of a name for your domain, this is what you type into the address bar when people are typing in your site. e.g. google.com or letsgetjobless.com.
This can be tough to think of on the spot, my best advice, don’t get stuck on naming your blog, taking action is key. What is fantastic about URL’s is it’s something that you can change in the future, so if a year down the line you decide you want to change your blog URL and name, it’s very easy to do.
I can’t recall how I came up with my blog name but I do remember it only took me around 10-15 minutes of playing around with combinations until I picked this one. I’ve had moments where I’ve considered changing it but its a part of me now and people seem to like it. A play on words always seems to fare well!
You can get your domain name directly from BlueHost and this will make your whole process a lot easier. Whatever hosting option you choose to sign up for 12 months/24 months/36 months you’ll get your free URL so just pick whichever option is best for you right now.
Just click on the new domain box and type in your desired domain name and then click Next… congratulations you are over 50% completed, let’s finish off the last part of your blog.
Enter Your Details
The next step is a simple one, you can either use Google Single Sign-On to simplify some of the steps or I would just go right ahead and type the details into the boxes.
An important Jobless note: Make sure your email address you use is entered correctly, this is where your receipt will be sent for your hosting.
Finalise Your Package
This is the section where you decide how long you want your hosting to go on for, the best value option is 36 months however you can choose 12 or 24 months if that suits you better.
A quick Jobless note: Make sure to deactivate any extras that are pre-ticked to avoid paying extras, I personally think you can get away absolutely fine without any of the extras but if you decide you would like them, feel free to do so.
12 months basic – $71.40 ($5.95 a month)
24 months basic – $118.80 ($4.95 a month)
36 months basic – $142.20 ($3.95 a month)
Put in your payment details, read the terms and conditions and click the tick box to acknowledge you’ve read them.
And The Last Step
Hit that beautiful green submit button and take the first step into your blogging future.
Step 3 – Installing your WordPress – Updated March 2018
You’re going to love how quick and easy this part is, I remember completing the 1-click WordPress install and thinking how easy it was then. Now for 2018, Bluehost has made it even easier to get started.
Check Your Email and Follow the Registration Instructions
New Way: Choose a Password for Your Account
Instead of following an email sign up process and having to install WordPress manually, Bluehost now guides you through the setup process.
The first step is to select a password for your account, make sure to make a note of this for future use. Click the green button below that says create your password.
Create Your Password
When creating a password make sure to use both letters, numbers and ideally symbols including upper case and lower case. The more secure your site is, the better.
Well… That Was Easy
Once your password is entered in, you can click the blue login button to take you to your theme selection screen.
Pick a Theme That Inspires You
The next step takes you automatically through the process of selecting a theme. You can choose to skip this process and select a theme later, or you can pick one now. The choice is yours.
Now You’ve Picked a Theme or Skipped, It’s Time to Start Building
Once you’ve selected your theme, just head on down to the WordPress start building button to be taken directly to your WordPress dashboard.
Welcome To Your WordPress Dashboard
This is your WordPress dashboard. Don’t worry about all the tools on the left-hand side, you’ll have a chance to experiment with them later.
For now, let’s go through the Bluehost setup process, follow the on-screen prompts and select ‘Business’ or ‘Personal’.
You’re All Setup but Don’t Hit Publish Just Yet
A Quick Jobless note: For some awesome tips on how to get started as a new blogger click here
After you’ve gone through your setup process, you’ll be greated with this page below.
You might be tempted to hit that big blue launch button! I’d hold off just yet, we want to get your site fully setup before you fully launch.
For a full step by step guide on how to go from blog inception to a blog churning out thousands of page views a month. Click here to join my 30-Day Blogging Bootcamp. It’s free and you’re almost guaranteed to gain a ton of value while growing your blog.
This is where You Can Perfect Your Blog Before Launch
Before your website goes public everytime somebody visits your webpage this is what they will be greeted with.
Take this time before launch to get your blog in order, I recommend before launching to have:
- Your theme installed and fully customized
- Your social media accounts setup, filled with content and paired
- Five blog posts already on your site for launch
- Google Analytics installed in your plugins
- A roadmap setup for your first 20 blog posts
If you want help getting through this pre-blog setup you can join my 30-Day Blogging Bootcamp where we cover all this and more.
Step 4 – Selecting a Theme
Okay great, you have now installed your WordPress site and if you aren’t already logged in, you should have been emailed a link to login to your blog.
Don’t worry if the link hasn’t arrived all you need to do is visit:
Just replace yourdomainname – with your blogs URL. This takes you to the WordPress login screen.
Login to Your WordPress Account
All you need to do now is enter your username / email address and password and you will be logged into your WordPress Dashboard.
On your WordPress dashboard you have a multitude of different options available to you. Don’t worry as it can seem a little overwhelming at first but most of the options you might never need to use on this page.
If you want to get a bit more information about how the WordPress dashboard works to the right of your dashboard should be an option which says ‘learn more about getting started’ this will give you a small run through of how WordPress works.
In Your WordPress Dashboard Select Appearance > Themes.
As pictured above, scroll down to the left-hand side on Appearance and click on Themes, this will launch you into the Theme select screen.
Research Which Theme You’d like to Use for Your Blog, Consider Free or Premium Options
Chances are you probably have a default theme like Twenty Seventeen installed, click at the top of the page next to where it says themes, ’add new’.
This will launch you into the ‘Add Themes’ section, at this stage I’d take your time and do a little research into what theme you’d like to use for your blog. There are thousands of free themes out there and also just as many premium themes that you pay for.
This section will allow you to look through all of the themes that you can select but I’d also suggest looking on some other sites:
- WordPress.org/themes – This is the main location for all of the best free themes online, it’s a great starting point for deciding what theme to run your site with. Try a couple out, figure out what feels best for you and customise your theme to get a feel for what works best for you.
- Theme Forest – Theme Forest is a great site for a wealth of premium themes that add that little bit extra in comparison to free themes. This was where I purchased my blog theme from.
- StudioPress Themes – For another great website for premium themes you have StudioPress. StudioPress sites use the Genesis framework, a very popular theme framework for bloggers all over the world. Do some research, take your time and try out the themes in demo mode and pick your favourite and then install it to your WordPress login.
Once you’ve selected your theme, play about with the customization of it and learn what features and benefits your theme has for your blog.
Don’t worry if you can’t get it absolutely perfect, it’s more important to have great content than it is to have an attractive website. There are many examples out there and the amount of traffic and revenue is driven purely by the content.
Congratulations, You, My Friend, Are a Blogger!
Awesome sauce, you’re now at the end of the tutorial and hopefully, you’ve managed to successfully set yourself up online!
Now you’ve set your blog up you may want to check out a few other posts:
If you need any more help or advice or would like anything added to the post then just reach out to me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know in the comments.