How to Start a Blog

A Step by Step Guide to Creating Your First Blog


Questions commonly asked by readers, friends and family are “How do I blog? How do I start blogging for the first time?” While many people on the Internet have found out how to start their first blog, a shockingly high amount of people are still unsure how to go about setting up their first blog. So, for this reason we have created this resource on how to start blogging for the first time.

Below, we have broken down this guide into five easy steps. It really is as easy as five steps, and we can assure you that by just skimming through the topics listed below – you will get a much better understanding of how to start a blog.

Step 1: What Do You Want To Blog About?

There are a lot of blogs already on the internet, but that doesn’t mean you wont be successful at getting thousands of readers and making a big difference in people’s lives.  The key is to choose something you are passionate about.  If you are passionate about the topic you want to blog about then you will be more likely to stick to it and find success in sharing your message.

Avoid choosing a topic that is so broad that readers never know what to expect and don’t pick a topic so narrow that after a week you are out of material to write on.

Step 2: To Host or Not To Host

Starting a blog comes with a few big decisions that will be important to you both now and especially in the future. One of the biggest decisions will be whether you host the blog yourself (pay around $4-$9/month), or use free blogging services that host your blog for you.

Choosing to Be Free

Yes, it is free, but remember nothing is ever really “free”. Starting a blog with a free service means you don’t get your own domain name [also called url or web address]. Instead of something like BloggingMormon.com you get something like bloggingmormon.blogspot.com (where there are a million other blogs at blogspot.com) and where you don’t actually own the blog or have rights to its content (the content you put on it).

The major problem is your domain name is more difficult to remember, your blog could be shut down at any time, and if you start getting lots of visitors you will want to move your blog anyways to a more professional blogging service.

If you have no intention of anyone ever reading your blog, get a free blog at Blogger.com.  If you would like search engines like Google to send you visitors and start getting lots of readers… then read the next section.

Cheap – Host Your Own Blog

I recommend this method for a few reasons.  Think of the web as a piece of virtual real estate.  If you own the land you have far more freedom then if you rent it.  You pay $9 for a year of ownership of your domain name (web address) you have exclusive access to your blog and can put whatever you want there. This offers much more flexibility and freedom to do what you want with your blog without worrying about anyone taking your blog down or making a mistake.

You will have your own domain name, like bloggingmormon.com. All you have to do is buy the address (domain name) and pay for hosting ($4-$9/month). My experience has been fantastic and the flexibility is fantastic.  With most plans for hosting you can quit whenever you want and even sell your domain name if you decide to stop blogging.

Also, with a very professional free blog software “WordPress“, you can have a blog that looks like you spent weeks designing it.  So if you want room to grow and flexibility to do what you want, I recommend following the instructions below.

Step 3: Get a Domain Name

Finding your own domain name can be very fun. You already know what your blog’s topic is [step #1], so the first step to actual setup is by finding your blog a good domain name.  Some tips about domain names…

  • Shorter the Better – you are much more likely to have readers come back to your blog if they can remember it.  For example, would you remember MyBlog.com or MyNewBlogIsAwesomeSoComeAndSeeIt.com?  The shorter the better. Try to use only 2-3 words in the name and avoid using spaces.  Also, try using a phrase that is easy to remember and where the words make sense together.
  • Be Descriptive – Explain in your domain name [w/ 2-3 words] what your blog is about. Try to put a keyword in your domain name that people will remember you are blogging about “______”

The best places to find very cheap domain names are in my opinion Namecheap and Godaddy.  Both are trustworthy sites I have used and you will get very cheap domain name prices there. [note: links are referrals from me]

Namecheap.com - Cheap domain name registration, renewal and transfers - Free SSL Certificates - Web Hosting


Go Daddy $7.49 .com domains

Step 4: Getting a Web Host Setup For Your Blog

For me, the quickest method to get a blog setup is to use a hosting service offering “one-click installs”, or nearly instant installations for blogging or forum software.  Using this method is pretty easy, but like I said before you will need some technical skills (although very brief). If you want to take an easy approach but pay a few dollars more, use the domain name services above to also host your blog.  Then it is all just one easy process.  Otherwise keep reading.

“1-click” (easy) Installation

Hostgator Hosting
For first-timers, I recommend Hostgator because they have excellent support staff that are available 24/7 through IM, phone, email or any other major communication source. I have used the support before and have found them to actually know what they are talking about… which is a big deal!  They are also very affordable which is important! Once you have your hosting setup, with a click of your mouse you can install your blog software, WordPress.  It’s so easy!




Just a warning to you as well, using extremely cheap hosting means you get what you pay for… problems. Avoid using any hosting service offering $2 hosting or below, you will regret it.

Step 5: Installing WordPress

If you choose to not setup with the 1-click installs and need help setting up wordpress then here are your instructions.  If you have experience with installing web applications that use mySQL, this could take as little as 5 minutes to do, and the 5 steps below may be all you need, however, if not don’t worry I will explain the process to you. I am also available to help by just clicking on “Setup My Blog”

Requirements: To run WordPress your hosting service just needs 2 things:

  • PHP version 4.2 or greater
  • MySQL version 4.0 or greater

Most hosting services do meet these requirements, and for sure I know that Hostgator, Godaddy, and Namecheap all have the appropriate php and mysql versions to run WordPress.  So if you go with a major hosting service you do not even need to worry about this.

Creating a Database

You will need to create a database in mysql to have your blog stored on your hosting service.  If this doesn’t make sense to you, do not worry.  All you need to know is that your blog is stored in a database (filing system) and you need to create a new one.

You can do this in your hosting control panel. If you aren’t sure you know how to do this, just ask your hosting company [this is why technical support is important]. After you have set it up, you should have 3 pieces of information about the database you should write down.
1. Database Name – The name of your new database.
2. Username – your new database username.
3. Password – Your new database password.

Download WordPress

This is going to be pretty easy. Go to WordPress.org and click on their big download button to get the most recent version of the blogging software “WordPress”. You have a choice between the ZIP file or the TAR.GZ file. I download the ZIP file because it is less of a hassle.  If you see a link to “get a free wordpress blog” this is not what you want.  They are just trying to get you to make a blog just like blogspot and Blogger.com.

Decompress the “WordPress” ZIP file.

All you will need to do is right-click on the file you downloaded and then click on “extract all“.

Setting Up WordPress

Open the WordPress folder you just unzipped (the file you extracted) and find the file named: wp-config-sample.php then rename the file to wp-config.php by right-clicking on the file and choosing “Rename”. Now open wp-config.php and insert the 3 pieces of information I had you write down above about your database into the 3 fields below.  The areas in red are the words you replace and make sure to not lose the ‘ ‘ around the word.

Change:

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘wordpress‘);              // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username‘);                 // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password‘);     // Your MySQL password

to

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘yourDatabaseName‘);           // The name of your database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘your-username‘);                      // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘your-password‘);          // Your MySQL password

Choose Your Install Directory and Upload Everything

If you want your blog to be at the main domain (called the root directory) of your site (I recommend this for most bloggers), meaning “yourdomain.com”, then open the unzipped wordpress folder and upload all the files and folders into your web root. Note, you need to open the file before loading the other files, once the file is open just use CTRL + A  on your keyboard to select everything.  Then upload it.  If you already have a file called index.html, or index.php, you’ll need to rename it or get rid of it before you uploading everything.

If you want your wordpress blog in a different directory of your website, like “yourdomain.com/blog”, then rename the “wordpress” folder to “blog” and upload it to the root directory with an ftp program.

Finish and Install

In an internet browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.), go to the domain where you uploaded wordpress (yourdomain.com), and then add /wp-admin/install.php to the end of your web address like this.. http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php  and follow the simple directions there.

You will then be given a new username and password. Save it in a safe place and keep it private.  WordPress will send you an email with the username and password so save it for future reference.

You’re the proud owner of a new blog on the internet. Log in with your wordpress username and password and get started!

Learn More

Now that you have a blog.. be sure to check out our free blogging guide to blogging successfully with our Learn to Blog, Setup a Blog, and Make Money Blogging pages.