Yay! You have finally decided that it's time to start that blog you've been dreaming about for way too long.
Blogging is one of the best ways to make money online all while pursuing your passion, but before you can monetize, you need a blog that is set up correctly and beautifully so it's a place your readers want to return to over and over again.
That's why I put together this tutorial.
This tutorial walks you through everything you need to do to get your blog up and running.
As a blogger myself, I know all the feelings of excitement that come with starting a blog. On the flip side, I also know those feelings of excitement can quickly turn into feelings of overwhelm as you start to tackle the technical aspect of creating a blog.
That is why I put together these step-by-step instructions with copious screenshots so you can know exactly what you should be doing at each step of the process.
With these instructions, you can have your blog up and running in a matter of hours.
For the sake of transparency, please know that there are some start-up costs that come with starting a blog, but I wouldn't recommend skipping any of these steps. Most of these costs you will only pay once per year.
Let's dive in!
Start Your Blog With This FREE Checklist & Workbook!
Use this checklist to help you keep track of each of the steps below.
Table of Contents
Select one of the links below to jump to the section you want.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product using one of the links below, I’ll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. My opinions are my own but they are truthful, and I do my best to recommend products that I have vetted and/or purchased myself. Read my full disclosure here.
Before you start naming and building your website, you need to know what it's going to be about. In other words you need to choose a niche.
If you know you want to start a blog, chances are you already know this, but if you are unsure or stuck, then this is for you.
It's not uncommon to have more than one niche you are considering.
I'm of the opinion that you can have success with almost any niche. But if you're goal is to monetize your blog, something to consider is which blog niches are the most profitable.
RankIQ did an analysis and found that the four most profitable blog niches are food, personal finance, lifestyle/mommy, and travel. There were 10 other niches that also made the list.
That doesn't mean you need to stick with one of those niches, but it may be helpful if you are stuck.
I've seen a lot of women have success with lifestyle blogs. Lifestyle topics can actually be quite broad. They can include topics such as organization, home decor, beauty, cleaning tips, etc.
Now, I'm not of the opinion that you have to super-niche down. But when you're first getting started, I would focus on one or two topics that are related to each other.
For example, if you are in the health niche with a focus on keto, you could write about the health benefits of keto and also include keto recipes. Once you have that established, you could then venture into keto adjacent topics such as fitness.
Or if you want to focus on home organization, you could also include cleaning tips. And then, later on, start including topics such as home decor.
This is important because it will help search engines like Google know what your website is about and what keywords to rank you for.
Before we dive into buying a domain, you'll want to brainstorm some blog name ideas and have variations of those names ready in case the name you've chosen is already taken.
There are lots of options for naming a website:
- Include your niche in your name. For example, if you've chosen keto for your niche, you could name it something like “allaboutketo.com.” This is actually really smart from an SEO perspective because it's another way that search engines are going to know what your website is about.
- Use your name. Using your name is also smart because at the end of the day, you are your brand. The more you grow your audience, the more you will be associated with your name. This would be something like, “firstnamelastname.com.”
- A variation of your name. If you don't want your first and last name out there, you can try your first name plus another word such as, “firstnamecreative.com”, “byfirstname.com,” or something in that vein.
- Something unique that makes sense. One of my favorite book blogs is ModernMrsDarcy.com. Anyone who loves reading is going to know that's a reference to the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. So, it's totally okay to have a unique name as long as it makes sense for your niche.
Write down at least three domain name choices, so you are ready for the next step.
3. Buy a Domain
Make it Official!
Now that you've picked your niche and have some names ready to go, you are ready to buy a domain.
If a website were a house, think of the domain as the address.
For domains, my favorite place to go is Google Domains.
Step 1: Go to domains.google
Step 2: Enter your top choice for a domain in the search bar and “Get it.”
Step 3: I recommend going with the “.com” domain extension. Then add it to cart by clicking on the shopping cart with the “+” sign.
Step 4: Click on the shopping cart in the top right-hand corner.
Step 5: In the cart, leave Privacy protection on and Auto-renew on. I also recommend creating a Custom email, which you can do by purchasing a Google Workspace account for $6 for the Business Starter.
Step 6: Complete your purchase
IMPORTANT: Write down your Google Domains username and password somewhere safe and accessible. You will be returning to Google Domains several times as we finish getting your blog created.
Step 7: Take some time to familiarize yourself with the Google Domains dashboard.
Step 8: Click on Security and set up 2-Factor Authentication.
Step 9: Log into your professional email account by going to the email address you used for registering your account.
4. Buy Hosting Services
Find a Home for Your Domain.
If you are anything like me, you want a good hosting service that you know will keep your blog running fast and secure, but you don't want to have to worry about potential issues you may run into. This is why I highly recommend FlyWheel.
Plus with FlyWheel, you will have your website set up in minutes. So let's dive in!
Step 2: Click “Get Started” in the top right-hand corner. Make sure you are on the “Managed Hosting” tab.
Step 3: Choose the “Tiny” plan for $15 per month. (Or $13 per month, if you pay annually.)
Step 4: Fill in your payment details and complete your purchase.
Where it says “Subscription Name” just enter your name or the name of your blog.
Step 5: Select “Create a New Site”
Step 6: Select “Me” and your plan.
Step 7: Enter your site name here.
FlyWheel will create a temporary domain for you at this stage. You will set up the custom domain you purchased from Google Domains in a following step.
Step 8: Create your WordPress Username and Password and select “Create Site.”
Yay! WordPress is already installed. (I love how easy this is.) But before we check out your new website, we need to connect your domain.
5. Connect Domain to Hosting Services
Let's Connect FlyWheel With Google Domains!
Step 1: Log into Flywheel, if you aren't already. Click the “+” sign to the right where it says “Domains”
Step 2: Enter your domain name exactly the way it's spelled on Google Domains. Check the box that says “Primary.” Check the box that says to add the “www” version of your domain. And select “Yes” for the question about whether or not you have purchased this domain.
Step 3: Flywheel will automatically detect that the domain is from Google Domains and you will be prompted to log into your Google Domains account.
Step 4: When it asks you if you want to connect, select, “Yes, Connect.”
Step 5: Select “Go to Flywheel” once you get the green checkmark.
(This is way easier compared to other domain registrars.)
You will see a green success message.
Step 6: Repeat the process above with the “www” version of your domain.
6. Install Your SSL Certificate
Let's Make Your Website Secure.
SSL what?? You're probably wonder what in the world is an SSL Certificate and why in the world you need it.
Right now, if you look at your WordPress website in its current form, it will say “Not Secure” with a hazard symbol next to your website address. We need to fix this. Have you ever noticed that little lock symbol that shows up next to URLs? That's what you want to see, and that only appears once you've installed an SSL certificate.
This tells users that they can trust the website is secure and that their connection with the website is private. This is something Google looks for on websites when it comes to ranking them in search results. Plus, it's free. So, let's go get it installed.
Step 1: Select “Enable SSL” on the first URL.
Step 2: Select Complete SSL Setup
Step 3: Repeat the same process for the second URL.
If you run into any issues during this or any other process, reach out to the FlyWheel customer service. They are super helpful!
It may take some time the new settings to become official. If this is the case, this is a good time to take break.
7. Log Into WordPress Dashboard
Log Into Your Website for the First Time!
Yay! You finally get to log into your WordPress website for the first time. FlyWheel makes this so easy!
Step 1: Click on the “WP Admin” button in the upper right hand corner here:
Step 2: Take a minute to get to know the back end of your website by clicking on each of the menu items that appear on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
8. Install a Theme Builder
Pick a theme builder that will make it easy to build a beautiful website exactly the way you want.
A theme builder will allow you to easily customize your website, making changing colors and fonts a breeze (in addition to other capabilities) without needing to hire a a web developr.
My favorite is the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes.
Divi is a drag-and-drop builder, which makes it super-easy to customize your website without needing touch a single bit of code.
Some things to keep in mind: No theme is forever — it can always be changed. I recommend starting with Divi, and if you decide you don't like it, you have 30 days to get a full refund.
Let's dive in!
Step 1: Go to ElegantThemes.com
Step 2: Click on “Pricing” in the top right-hand corner.
Step 3: Select “Yearly Access.”
Pro Tip: Elegant Themes has a massive sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That's a great time to pick up the Lifetime access if you decide to stick with Divi.
Step 4: Create your account and enter your payment details.
Step 5: In the Members Area, click on “Download the Divi Theme.”
Step 6: In your WordPress Dashboard, select “Appearance” and “Themes.”
Step 7: Click “Add New”
Step 8: Click on “Upload Theme” and then “Choose File.”
Step 9: Find the Divi file called Divi.zip, and select “Install Now.”
Step 10: You will know it's installed when you see a page like this. Click “Activate.”
Yay! You now have a theme builder installed on your WordPress website. Click on “View Site” to see what it looks like. Next, we will personalize your website.
9. Pick Layout or Child Theme (Make It Look Pretty)
Pick the Look and Feel You Want for Your Website.
Now, you get to pick the look, feel, and design of your blog!
IMPORTANT: You have two options: (1) Use the free layouts provided by Divi — there are hundreds of beautiful premade templates to choose from. (2) Purchase a Divi child theme. If you want to see what child theme options are available, scroll down to Alternate Layouts/Child Themes.
The instructions below are based on the free premade templates provided by Divi. (If you decide to go with a child theme, you will be provided with instructions by the creator of the child theme.)
Step 1: In your WordPress Dashboard, go to “Pages” and select “Add New.”
Step 2: Where it says “Add Title,” type “Home:”
Step 3: Select “Start Building” and then “Choose Premade Layouts.”
Step 4: Choose a Premade Layout from the list. If you see one you like, click on it and then click on View Live Demo, which will allow you to see what it looks like on an actual website. Don't worry if you don't like the colors or fonts. All of these elements can be easily changed.
Step 5: Once you've decided on a layout, click on “Use This Layout.”
IMPORTANT: Whichever layout you choose will become your home page. For example, if you choose the Landing page in this step, that will become your home page. If you accidentally choose the wrong page, just click “Edit Page” at the top of the screen and go back through the steps above.
Once you do that, you should see the page you chose right on the home page you just created, like this:
Step 6: We need to change one setting so that when people go to your website this shows up as your home page. Go to the top of the page where it says My WordPress and click on Theme Customizer.
Step 7: When you see this pop-up, select “Save and Exit.”
Step 8: Go to “Homepage Settings.”
Step 9: Select “A static page” and make sure “Home” is selected under “Homepage.” Hit “Publish” at the top to save your settings.
Step 10: Repeat the same process above to create your About page and other pages you want to have in your Menu.
To add more pages to the Menu, go back to the Theme Customizer and select “Menus.”
Then, select this “main menu” at the top.
Then, “Add Items.”
Click on the Page you want to add. In this case, I'm adding the “About” page.
To save and see your changes, click on “Publish.”
10. Update Site Identity
Update the Name and Tagline of Your Website.
It's time to get rid of that blue WordPress “W” icon and add your website name and tagline.
Step 1: Go back to the Theme Customizer and select “General Settings.”
Step 2: Then select “Site Identity.”
Step 3: Customize all three settings below. Click on “Publish” at the top to save your settings.
11. Logos, Fonts & Colors
It's Time to Add the Colors and Fonts You Want.
Your website is not called “Divi,” so we need to swap out that logo.
Step 1: Start by going to your WordPress Dashboard.
Step 2: In the menu options in the sidebar, scroll down until you see Divi. Select “Divi” >> “Theme Options”
Step 3: Upload your logo here.
Step 4: Adjust the logo size… When you update the logo, it tends to look really small.
To fix this go to Theme Customizer >> Header & Navigation >> Primary Menu Bar
First, adjust the Menu Height until it's where you want it to be. Then, adjust the Logo Size until it looks the way you want it to look.
Update the Website Color Palette
We're going to start by adding your color pallete.
Step 1: Go to your WordPress Dashboard >> Divi >> Theme Options
Step 2: Start selecting the colors in the Color Pickers Default Palette, and then add the color hex code in the box below. If you don't have eight colors, fill in the remainder with white, which is “#FFFFFF.”
Step 3: Click on Save Changes at the top or the bottom of the page.
Add the Colors & Fonts to the Website
Now we need to add these colors throughout the site. This is also where you will go to change the fonts.
To do this, go back to the Theme Customizer. I recommend clicking on the different sections, and wherever it gives you the option to change a color or a font, test it out and see what you like.
Here are some sections to start with:
- Layout Settings
- Primary Menu Bar
Once you are happy with your changes, click “Publish” to save your changes.
13. Publish Your First Blog Post
Yay! The Whole Reason You're Here!
Yay! If you made it this far, Congratulations! I am so excited that you have decided to start this journey!
You are now ready to publish your first blog post. Let's get started…
Step 1: Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
Step 2: Click on Posts >> Add New
Step 3: Add a Title to the top of the page
Step 4: Select or add the category of your blog post.
Step 5: Select “Save Draft”
Step 6: Select the blog post layout that matches the design you chose previously. In this case, it's the “Food Recipe Layout.”
This blog post design clearly doesn't work well with a sidebar. If you run into this problem, fix it by selecting “Save Draft.” Then, click “Edit Post” at the top of the screen.
Go to where it says “Divi Page Settings” and make your adjustments accordingly. For this one, I'm going with Fullwidth.
Step 7: Write your blog post.
Step 8: Add at least one primary image to the page or changeout the images on the template to match your post.
To change an image in Divi, click on this settings wheel.
This will open up a box like this. Click on the settings wheel here.
Click on “Upload Files.” Then drag and drop an image here or click on “Select Files.”
Add some “Alt Text” by describing what's in the image. The “Alt Text” will aid any visually impaired person who comes to you website and it's also for SEO. Then click “Upload Image.”
Click this green check mark to save your changes.
Step 9: Add a Featured Image. (This is the image that will show up on your homepage and anywhere else you blog post is appears.)
Click on Edit Post at the top of the page. If the right sidebar with the post settings isn't already dispalying, then click on the settings wheel in the right hand corner to open it.
Scroll down, and add the “Featured Image” here:
Step 10 (Optional): Remove any elements you don't need or want. For example, I don't have a video, so I'm going to delete this.
Simply click on the trash can here:
How to Add a Blog Post Without a Premade Layout
If the template you chose does not have a premade layout for blog posts, you can mix and match templates. So you could find one from another layout pack and use that. If you don't want to do that, then the way you add blog posts is going to be slightly different.
Step 1: Go to “Posts” >> “Add New”
Step 2: Add the Title
Step 3: Pick or add the category your post falls under
Step 4: Select “Use Default Editor.” This is known as the Gutenberg Editor.
Step 5: Add an image by clicking on this plus sign
Step 5: Click on the Image widget
Step 6: Select “Media Library.”
Step 7: Select “Upload Media,” then drag and drop the image you want right here or you may click on “Select Files” to upload your image that way.
Step 8: Select the image you want to add. Always add “alt text.” This simply describes what's in the image and will aid any visually impaired person who comes to you website. (It's also good for SEO!) Then click “Upload Image.”
Step 9: Write your blog post. I always recommend saving your draft periodically to ensure you don't lose any of your work. You can also write your blog post on a Google Doc or Word Doc, and then copy and paste it here when ready.
Step 10: Once you are happy with it, hit “Publish.”
Congrats! You just published your first blog post!
Additional Helpful Resources You Don't Want to Miss.
Here are some resources I highly recommend:
- Divi Tutorials: If you are looking for more information on things to do with Divi, this is a good resource.
- Divi Layouts & Layout Packs: If you want to see all of the Divi Layouts and Layout Packs in one place, this is the place to go.
- Yoast Plugin: This is a free plugin that will help you SEO optimize your blog posts. Just go to the plugin tab from your WordPress Dashboard and search “Yoast.”
- Perfecting Blogging Course: If you are serious about making money from blogging, I highly recommend this course. And it's very affordable (compared to similar courses like it). I do not recommend the Perfecting Pinterest course that can be purchased with this course as a bundle as the tactics and strategies are outdated.
What to do if you run into problems.
One of the things that can be tough when you're an independent blogger is that you don't have your own IT department to call when something goes wrong with your website.
When I have run into issues, I have reached out to the support at Elegant Themes, FlyWheel, and BeSuperFly (where I purchased my theme from). They have all been super helpful every time. So, in a way, you do have an IT department . . . and that is one of the reasons why I recommend all three of these companies.
Sometimes it can be a pain to have to pay for these expenses, but when you are in a pickle, you will be so thankful you went with these reputable companies.