How to start a blog (the 5-minute guide)

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Amy Lynn Andrews

Want to start a blog? A self-hosted WordPress blog is the best and most popular type of blog. The tiny cost (with a money-back guarantee) makes it a no-brainer. It takes minutes to set up and no technical experience is required.

Hi there, I’m Amy. I’ve been starting blogs since 2004. Ditch the 10,000-word tutorials & expensive courses. Seriously. So unnecessary!

You need two things: self hosting + WordPress. Hosting puts your blog online. WordPress puts your words in blog form. Easily get both at once.

Here’s my favorite beginner setup with the most features at the lowest cost, based on 17+ years of experience:

  1. Click here to go to Bluehost (<– that link gets you a discount) and hit the Get Started button.
  2. Select the Choice Plus plan.
  3. Enter the domain name you want to use (i.e. websitehowto.com).
  4. Enter your account information.
  5. Under Package Information, choose an account plan based on how far in advance you want to pay. (Remember, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee so, no risk!)
  6. Uncheck the package extras.
  7. Complete your purchase, choose a password and log in to your Bluehost account.
  8. Answer the onboarding questions, or skip them, but add a blog when asked.
  9. Don’t choose a theme now. Click the skip link at the bottom. (I explain why below.)
  10. From your Bluehost dashboard, click the WordPress button in the top right. You’ll be taken to your WordPress dashboard.

Congratulations, you have a self-hosted WordPress blog!

I know what you’re thinking. 🙂 “Wait…that’s it? I have a blog?”

Yep! You could absolutely write your first blog post right now (Dashboard > Posts > Add New).

However, I highly recommend following my full WordPress tutorial starting at #2 for the best settings, especially the first 10-second bullet point about permalinks.

FAQ

Why does everyone else make it so complicated?

Exactly my thought! Blogging is like riding a bike. It’s much easier once you’re moving. Learn as you go. Blogging is also like compound interest. It’s much smarter to launch sooner rather than later.

Why shouldn’t I worry about a theme (blog design) yet?

At the beginning, your time is much better spent writing great content. Why? A few reasons…

  • For traffic, you want to get on Google’s radar ASAP (it takes a while). Google cares about your words, not your design.
  • No one will see your blog until you promote it. You don’t want to promote it until there’s something to read anyway.
  • It’s a lot easier to get your design right once you have bulk to work with, just like a balloon’s design looks way better once there’s air in it.

So, publish 3-5 really meaty posts (skip fluffy ones like “Welcome to my blog!”), then pick a theme.

What’s the difference between a blog and a website?

A blog is a type of website, like a journal is a type of book. A blog has blog posts like a journal has journal entries.

What’s the big deal about a “self-hosted” WordPress blog?

In short, you’ll have more control and more income potential. Self hosted means you buy your own hosting. The alternative is a free hosted WordPress blog at WordPress.com. Not recommended. You’ll be limited.

Did you already start on WordPress.com? No worries. How to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

Can I start a blog for free?

Yes, but if you want to make money, I don’t recommend it. You’ll have limited income-making ability, lack of control, lack of support, only basic features and if you want to switch later, it’s a hassle. Start off right.

Is WordPress better than Squarespace, Wix, Blogger, etc.?

It depends on what you mean by “better” but overall? Yes. WordPress (self hosted, not WordPress.com) is by far the most popular type of blog and is used by big and small bloggers alike. It dominates similar platforms like Squarespace, Wix and Blogger.

How can I make money blogging?

The 5 ways to make money online can be applied to any blog, but the best way to make money directly from the content on your blog is to have a niche blog. A niche blog is one about a very specific topic. Project 24 is the best resource I’ve found for niche blogging.