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how to start a blog for beginnersLearning how to start a blog has the potential to drastically change your life.

For some, blogging is a way to blow off steam after a hard day at work.

For others, it’s a fun side hustle. One that allows them to make money on top of their normal day job.

And still, for others, blogging has become a business. One so profitable they’re able to quit their jobs, travel the world, and live life on their terms.

All because they started.

You see, blogging is a low cost, zero risk way to open new doors of opportunity that weren’t previously there before. Doors that don’t involve selling the latest fad toothpaste, LuLaRoe leggings, or Thirty-One bags to your friends and family on Facebook.

No, we’re done with all that. In this article I am going to walk you through, step-by-step, how to start a blog in 15 minutes or less, even if you’re a total beginner.

Before we dive in though, let’s take a quick moment and look at the reasons why people start a blog.

Why do people blog?

People often have very unique reasons for wanting to start a blog. Some are compassionate in nature — perhaps they want to educate others on a rare form of a disease they, or a family member, are struggling with. Others are informative — they want to chronicle a weight loss journey and inspire others to do the same.

And others (reasons) are as straightforward as they get. They’ve seen other people make money blogging about a certain topic and wonder if they can do the same.

No matter your reason for wanting to start, with the right strategies, your blog can:

  • Connect you with millions of people.
  • Get your ideas out into the world.
  • Make you more money than you could ever make at your 9 to 5.

Think it can’t happen to you?

Think again:

Just a few years ago Jeff and I started blogging with absolutely no experience. We had no idea how to start a blog, nor did we really even know what we wanted to write about.

Needless to say, things have changed in a short time.

Learn from other top money making blogs

In our last income report over on BTOP we showed how we made almost $62,000 blogging in just 1 month. It was a total dream come true.

We started at $0 just like everyone else, and now we’re shooting to crack the $100,000/month barrier for the first time. And believe it or not, that’s pennies compared to other successful bloggers.

Take Michelle at Making Sense of Cents for example.

In just 4 years Michelle went from making $672/mo to making over $100,000 per month from her blog.

Take a look:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner income reports

 

Or there’s Melyssa, who made over $173,000 recently from her blog and online business:

how much money Melyssa Griffin makes blogging

It takes a lot of hard work to reach the elite ranks of Michelle and Melyssa, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

It’s 100% feasible to start making a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars per month within just a few months of starting. We’ve done it with this website, and you can too.

How do bloggers make money?

The cool thing about blogging is that there is a near limitless number of ways to make money.

  • Using display ads
  • Allowing companies to buy sponsored posts on your website
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling courses, ebooks or trainings
  • Consulting
  • Providing a service, coaching or mentoring
  • The list goes on and on…

But before you start raking in cash from your blog, you first need to start your blog. And that can be a pretty intimidating hurdle for a lot of people, especially the non-tech peeps (like me). That’s why I’m going to walk you through, step-by-step, how to start a blog on WordPress using HostGator (opens another tab).

Why HostGator? Well, in my experience, they are the best all around hosting company for new bloggers in terms of performance and cost. They’ve also got a great infrastructure to accommodate your blog as it grows, which is really important.

And with the 42% off coupon code for you in Step 6, HostGator’s the best bang for your buck, bar none.

Update: the coupon code now gets you 53% off!

Are you ready to get started pursuing something awesome? Open HostGator in another tab and follow along with me.


How to Start a Blog on WordPress in 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Choose Your Hosting Plan

By opening the link above you should land on a page that has three hosting options to choose from (Starter, Standard, and Business).

HostGator's Managed WordPress blog hosting plans

Assuming this is your first website, there’s no need to go with anything other than the Starter Plan. It’s the cheapest plan and has more than enough resources for a brand new website.

This is a Managed WordPress hosting package; meaning it was built and optimized specifically with WordPress in mind. It makes your website faster, secure, and more reliable.

It costs slightly more than a traditional web hosting package, but the extra cost will save you a headache down the road. More on that later.

Step 2: Choose Your Domain Name

Once you hit the “Buy Now!” button, you’ll be directed to the order form. The first item on the list is the most important one: your domain name!

This is the one and only name for your website, so give this some thought.

how to choose the best hosting plan

It can be tricky coming up with a name that isn’t already claimed.

Tips for choosing your domain name:

  • Stick to just .com endings.  Don’t bother using .biz, .info, .org, or any other endings.
  • Make your domain name simple and easy to remember.
  • Leave out numbers, dashes and anything else other than letters.

Step 3: Enter Your Hosting Plan Information

This step determines your approximate initial cost to start your blog. It should be noted that HostGator offers a 45-day money back guarantee.

No matter how much you spend, if you end up deciding that blogging isn’t for you within the first 45 days, you can get your money back, no questions asked. (Hence why blogging is an amazing opportunity to start your own business at a relatively low cost, with zero risk involved).

In order to lock in the biggest discount, I recommend taking advantage of one of HostGator’s 36-month hosting plans.

It greatly reduces the overall cost of your blog, and you can typically get prices lower than $5.00/month (even lower when they’re running special promotions).

I mean what other business can you honestly start for less than that? None.

HostGator Managed WordPress price chart

You’ll also need to set up your HostGator Security PIN which you’ll use to access the back end of your site. Write this down somewhere safe.

Step 4: Enter Your Billing Information

A pretty straightforward step. If you can’t figure this part out, maybe this whole online business thing isn’t for you. ?

how to create a blog with HostGator

Step 5: Choose Add-ons That You Want

Fortunately, most of the add-ons that HostGator offers are already included in the price of the package. The only question is whether or not you need to tack on a SSL certificate (click here if you want to learn more about SSL certificates).

That being said, the answer to that question is yes (you should add one).

HostGator blog add-on options

Browsers are now displaying a small warning to users, when they first visit a site, if it is not secured with a SSL certificate.

There’s no better way to scare someone away from your site than a browser telling them they’ve landed somewhere unsafe.

If money’s tight, you can forego this option till a later time, but I do recommend adding it now (there are also technical headaches that can be avoided down the road by getting one now).

Step 6: Enter Your Coupon Code

Having been around the blogging circle for some time now, we’re privy to insider information about when blogging platforms will be offering sales, discounts, or new coupon codes.

As such, we’ve negotiated a special discount for our readers that will never expire. By using BTOP42 at checkout you’ll save 42% off any hosting package, no matter the length.

That being said, we want you to save the most money. If we see (or you know of a HostGator coupon code) that could potentially beat our deal, we’ll add it to the list below.

Some confirmed HostGator coupon codes to try are:

rsosaveaw2new – up to 53% off.

SNAPPYW579 – up to 56% off.

Step 7: Review Order Details and Submit

Once you’ve completed all the steps above, go through and make sure everything is the way you want it.

I won’t include a screenshot since everyone’s checkout page will look slightly different based on their choices.

Note: Depending on the length of the package you selected, your checkout price can vary greatly from what you may have expected. If you’re on a budget and you can’t afford the longest package (to get the full discount), that’s totally okay.

Here are some other options:

  • Use coupon code BTOP42 for 1 month and forego the SSL certificate (not recommended). The total cost will be $8.67.
  • Use coupon code BTOP42 for 1 month and choose the SSL add-on. Your total will be $28.62.
  • Use coupon code rsosaveaw2new for 36 months with the SSL add-on (to get the full discount). Your total will be $186.76.

You’ll inevitably pay more out of pocket for the lengthiest hosting plan, but you’ll save 53% off the total cost of 3 years worth of blogging. There’s no incentive for us to recommend one length of time over the other, you’ll simply save the most by choosing the longer plans (plus you can always get a full refund, no questions asked).

You’ll also notice that there are a few other free perks: 24/7/365 Phone, LiveChat, Email Support and, again, the 45-day money back guarantee if you decide blogging isn’t for you.

Once you’re all set, go ahead and hit “Checkout Now!” and let’s get rolling.

Step 8: Install WordPress

Oh wait, you don’t actually have to. That’s one of the perks of purchasing a Managed WordPress plan.

As far as blogging platforms go, WordPress is in rare company. In fact, WordPress sites now comprise more than 30% of the entire Internet. You could go with a smaller platform like Tumblr or Blogger…or you can go with the content management system (CMS) chosen by:

  • New York Post
  • USA Today
  • CNN
  • Fortune
  • Time
  • Spotify
  • TechCrunch
  • CBS
  • NBC

If those sites use WordPress, I think its safe to say you’re choosing the right blogging platform.

Note: It’s important to know that it may take several minutes for your website to “go live”. Typically this process takes less than 30 minutes but it could take several hours (your domain is “propagating” so that visitors all over the world can see it).

Basically, if your website does not appear right away, don’t be alarmed, it just takes a few minutes for HostGator to create something awesome.

In the meantime, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the HostGator Customer Portal.

Click around from tab to tab and learn where everything is.

hostgator customer portal

Although you won’t need to check in here frequently, it does contain important information about when products may expire, allows you to setup email accounts, and is the go-to spot if you need to upgrade your hosting as your blog grows!

It’s also a good spot to get technical support if necessary.

Step 9: Log Into Your WordPress Admin Dashboard

Once your WordPress site goes live, you’ll get an email confirmation message from HostGator giving you the info for where to access your WordPress login, your username, and a randomly generated password to sign in (you can change this later).

Your WordPress Admin Dashboard can be found at http://yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin/ (Hint: You’ll need to place your domain in the URL).

And that’s it!  You’re all set up and ready to go with your new site.

Step 10: Monetize Your Blog

As you may have suspected, this is the hardest part. And to be perfectly honest with you, it’s going to take time.

If you just got done with the steps above, your initial focus should be on customizing your blog, creating content, and growing your audience, all before you start thinking about making money. To get you started I’ve put together the exact blueprint for you to follow to make your first $1,000 blogging.

Furthermore, here are a few parting tips I have on how to start a successful blog:

  • Start learning about the different ways to monetize your blog. Choose the ones that sound interesting to you and start digging deeper into those topics.
  • Make sure you’re writing in a way that’s easy to read. What do I mean by that? Be conversational, use short paragraphs, and use short sentences. Oddly enough, this is way harder than it sounds, especially for new bloggers. The way you learned to write in high school and college is not the way you want to write for your blog. I can’t stress that enough.
  • Your content needs to help people solve a problem. If it doesn’t do that, then it better be entertaining. If you aren’t doing either of these things, you’re going to have a hard time getting readers to stick around.

Any more questions on how to start a blog? Let me know in the comments and I’ll respond!

Like this tutorial? Pin it!how to start a blog for beginners

Author

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and manage financial decisions. A quoted contributor for Business News Daily, Business.com, Discover Bank, Moneyish, Student Loan Hero, Policygenius, TechRepublic, and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.

35 comments
James 1 year, 2 months ago

Nice guide Ben, very detailed on how to get set up.

You make a good point at the very end about writing style. This is something that I need to get used to.

It’s short sentences and one line paragraphs all the way! As you say “not like in school”.

This is especially true for mobile device views. More than a couple of sentences together and the block of text fills the whole screen.

That can be tough going for the reader.

Linda 1 year, 2 months ago

I have dabled with blogging but need to start a fresh I’m hoping this will be the way!

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 1 year, 2 months ago

Good luck Linda! Let us know if you have any questions 🙂

Natalie 1 year, 1 month ago

Hi Ben!

I’m just kind of starting out with this whole blogging thing, and I want to start out with just making money from affiliate links, like Amazon associates and etc. how would this kind of income look on my taxes? It is it considered “other income” or “self employment?”

I appreciate the help!!,

Natalie.

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 1 year, 1 month ago

Hey Natalie!

Welcome and good luck with your blog! The answer to your question, as with many things in life, is that it depends :p

Mostly on how much money you make since it sounds like you intend on turning it into a money-making blog.

The good news is that you’re not required to report self-employment earnings unless your blog has generated $400 or more in profit (AFTER your expenses).
If you’re not in this category just yet then no need to fret! After that barrier is crossed, and you can reasonably expect to make $1,000 or more during the next year, you’ll start to owe self-employment taxes.

Here’s a good read to help get you started: https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/02/blogging-and-taxes-what-you-need-to-know.html

Good luck!

Brooke White 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Ben!

Great tips! I will definitely be thinking about these things as I continue working on my new blog!

~Brooke

Amy-Lynn 10 months, 14 days ago

Great step by step way to set up the blog. More info on how to become profitable would be helpful too.

Jeff Proctor 10 months, 14 days ago

This article I wrote on our other blog might be helpful: https://www.breakingtheonepercent.com/make-1000-dollars-blogging/ 🙂

Brad 5 months, 24 days ago

Ben, great post here. Thanks for the detailed insight on how to get started blogging. I’m currently setting up my blog site and I use Hostgator. Be well, Brad

Victor Maxwell 5 months, 17 days ago

Hello Ben, you have a nice post there. it is well detailed but one thing though, I want to start my own blog but I don’t have money to purchase anything on hostgator, do you have any advice or a free place or site where I can start a blog. ps, am 16. am looking forward to your reply soon

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 5 months, 17 days ago

Hey Victor, thanks for stopping by.

If you’d like to get started, but don’t think you can pull off the initial startup costs, you can always start with a WordPress.com blog and then convert your blog later — it’s not ideal, and you won’t get the full features you otherwise normally would — but it allows you to get started now instead of having to wait for funds to come in!

Good luck!

Jay Bee 4 months, 7 days ago

Hey Ben, thanks for the tips. I want to start my own blog but i don’t have money to purchase anything on hostgator and I am in Sierra Leone, any advice for me?

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 4 months, 7 days ago

Hey Jay Bee!

If you’re tight on money but would like to start, I’d recommend going with a WordPress.com account — it’s free to start and you migrate your site to the paid version later. It’s not ideal, and you’ll have little control over the look of your site/limited customization features, but it’s a capable platform and a good way to get started! Overcoming that hurdle is the hardest part so feel free to jump in.

Ana 3 months, 24 days ago

Hello Ben! This is the first post I read from you and I have to tell you, it’s amazingly helpful! Thank you very much for sharing all of this information, it really guided me through the process of creating my own blog and felt like if a friend was telling me all of his tricks 🙂 I will definitely devour all your articles from now on!

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 3 months, 24 days ago

You’re welcome Ana!

Tamseela 3 months, 20 days ago

useful information on blogging!

Kim 3 months, 11 days ago

Thank you for this insightful article! I have a few areas of interest to blog based on my own life’s journey. Many people will be able to relate. And, hopefully, the blog will be truly helpful. How long/short should a blog be? Thank you and I”ll be watching for addional articles from you.

Jeff Proctor 3 months, 10 days ago

Hey Kim! Blog articles can be any length you want — it’s totally up to you! That being said, most blog articles are at least 500 words or so. If you really want to cover a topic thoroughly, it’s not uncommon to see 2,000-5,000 word articles (or more)!

Marjorie Evershem 3 months ago

Having read all this, it is still not clear how money is made by blogging. Maybe I missed something here!!!! How does the blog transform into money and get into the bank or PayPal account, and, who pays?

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 2 months, 24 days ago

Hey Marjorie,

There are several ways to make money from blogging — each way will have a specified means for how it pays out.

For example:

1) Ads
2) Affiliate Marketing (where you advertise a different company’s product, and if a reader buys it, you get a commission).
3) A digital product (you create a product that people buy — like a planner, or calendar, etc).
4. A digital service you provide through your blog (like editing, proofreading, freelance writing, etc).
5) Sponsored content where a company pays you to promote their product/you review their product or service

Hopefully that makes thing clearer — most often you’ll get paid by direct deposit/ACH transfers, or to a PayPal account.

Bailey 2 months, 27 days ago

This article really helped with me reconsidering the idea of starting a blog. I love to write and think it would be amazing for other people to read my articles. But I’m not sure if I could gain the audience. I really want to make my writing dream come true.

Amanda 2 months, 26 days ago

This was super helpful thank you!

Tushar Jain 2 months, 24 days ago

Very nice post, didn’t know Pinterest can be a killer.

Gigi 2 months, 12 days ago

Hi Ben, Thank you for this article, soon I am going to start blogging and this article answered my all questions about it 🙂

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 2 months, 12 days ago

You’re so welcome — we run a Facebook group for bloggers if you’re interested. We try and answer all the questions you’ll have while you’re starting on this journey!

Cindy 2 months, 10 days ago

Why WordPress and not AWS?

Kristin 2 months, 3 days ago

Will this format work for video tutorials as well?

Jeff Proctor 2 months, 2 days ago

You can use a Youtube channel as a supplement to your blog, sure!

Daniel 1 month, 23 days ago

Hi, I’ve been contemplating starting a blog, after reviewing my physical limitations due to my age and the physical work I do, I have a subject matter in mind to blog about, but am not sure how to start or would it be morally acceptable. (Not about anything harmful!). Think sex, ok? My biggest concern is the total cost using HostGator. I’m semi-retired and want to try something else in my elder years but am not that tech oriented, but also not a total dummy when it comes to surfing the web or websites. Can you give me a “real” cost estimate on what it would take to get up and running? I’m taking about a real, no pulling punches, “total” cost to be up and running from start to finish! Thank you for your response…
– Daniel

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 1 month, 22 days ago

Hey Daniel —

You truly can get started for as little as $5.95/month — that said, that rate typically comes with their 36-month (up front) package:

$5.95 * 36 months = $214
$6.95 * 24 months = $166
$7.95 * 12 months = $95
$14.95 * 1 month = $14.95

Most other resources are free (you can utilize a free theme, free email acquisition, etc) — now, paid features will almost universally give you more flexibility and customization options, but those are the “real” prices IMO.

That is for HostGator’s Managed WordPress hosting (not their base plan hosting) — it’s optimized for WordPress and comes with an SSL certificate to protect your site.

If you’d like slightly more customization options, you can buy a “paid” theme to give your site a face lift — those cost, generally speaking between $19-$100 for the more expensive ones (you can also spend thousands on customized ones). For perspective, on our other site, we’ve spent $59 on our paid theme and we’ve used it for 3 years (and we make multi-five figures/month on that other blog).

All-in-all you can spend as much as you’d like, but I’d plan on spending at least $95 to get off the ground as efficiently as possible.

John 19 days ago

Which theme are you using on this site?

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 19 days ago

Custom theme!

Harish Kumar 1 month, 20 days ago

Hey, great infographics!

This is something I was looking for. I have scanned all your pictures and get a quick idea which blogging platform I should choose next.

I already own a blog on WordPress.org now I want something that is less costly. And luckily I have found one from your list.

Thanks for sharing this guide.

Marisa Mitchell 28 days ago

Thank you for this article! I’ve always wanted to blog and ultimately write a book.. My question is if I start blogging and include content that I would potentially include in a future book, can I “copyright” the content in my blog? I’ve always wondered about protecting my blog content… please advise.

Ben Huber
Ben Huber 27 days ago

Hey Marisa,

Theoretically speaking, a unique work belongs to you the minute it is created. Technically speaking, it’s copyrighted the minute you create it.

That said, formal copyright/trademarks change how (and how much) you can pursue in court, were someone to infringe on your work (they also allows you to pursue statutory damages as well as attorney fees).

As with any legal discussion, it’s generally best to consult an IP attorney/copyright specialist but the above explanation is very generally how things work.

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