Start a blog in 2019 (the ultimate free guide)


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blog typewriter

Want to know how to start a blog? For real cheap (as little as £3 a month?!)? You’re on the right blog post!

Having a blog is amazing. It’s allowed me to earn money doing something I love for such a small investment. But it can also be a lil’ scary starting your own.

I know because when I started my previous DIY and beauty blog, I found so many blog posts that claimed to teach you how to start a blog. But these were frustrating.

Why? Because nobody was really showing me how to start a blog!

I wanted to make sure I (nor anybody else wanting to know how to start a blog) wasn’t in that confusing situation again. I wanted to make sure people knew exactly how to start a blog.

And so when I decided to start this blog, I took screenshots of every single thing I did. To make sure my “how to start a blog” guide showed you exactly how to start one, and to show you how easy it actually is.

If I can do it, YOU can too.

This post is the ultimate how to start a blog free guide, showing you exactly how to start a blog for as little as £3 per monthAnd what to do afterwards to start getting traffic and making money.

Start a profitable blog this 2019

WHAT’S IN THIS POST?

This post is a free guide, showing you everything you need to start a blog. This includes:

BEFORE YOU START YOUR BLOG

  • What you need to start a blog
  • Who you should use for your blog hosting

HOW TO START YOUR BLOG

  • How to set up your blog hosting
  • How to save money on your blog hosting
  • How to install WordPress
  • How to change your blog password

AFTER YOU’VE STARTED YOUR BLOG

  • An overview of WordPress
  • What you need to do to make your blog look good
  • What branding material you need for your blog
  • How to share your first blog post
  • How install and use a free theme
  • How to start getting blog traffic

HOW TO START A BLOG: WHAT DO I NEED?

This might surprise you, but you don’t need a lot.

To start a blog, you need:

  • A purpose for you to start a blog. It can be for a hobby, to keep family updated, or to turn into a business. As long as you have a reason to start a blog, you will be driven and your blog will succeed.
  • A laptop or computer. To use to actually start your blog on.
  • Money to pay for your blog. If you want to make money blogging, you need to be self hosted, which means you have to pay for it. However the investment is small (I’m talking a-cup-of-coffee-a-month small), and your earnings could be huge.
  • An hour. Yep, with this guide you can have a blog up and running within an hour, maybe even less.

And that’s it! As I said, you hardly need anything at all!

HOW TO START A BLOG: WHO SHOULD I USE FOR MY BLOG HOSTING?

(Disclaimer- I will get a small commission if you use my link. However it will be going towards improving my blog so I can bring more helpful posts to you!)

I’m going to be showing you how to get your hosting plan with TSOHost. That’s because:

  • I use them for hosting, so I know they’re reliable. TSOHost has been easy to use, I have never had any issues like my site going down, and their customer services has been amazing. (Literally every time I message them they gladly answer my questions, even if it’s not to do with hosting, ha!).
  • You get a free domain name when you register with them. Normally you would have to pay for a domain name separately, but with TSOHost it’s included in the cost.
  • They’re crazy cheap. For as little as £3 a month, you can have your own blog, that you can actually make money from. It’s definitely worth the investment!
  • I can give you a discount. Because you’re following this guide, if you use the code easyblogemily10 when checking out, you will get a 10% off the normal price of starting a blog.

My discount won’t be on forever, so if you haven’t already got enough reasons to start a blog today, this is it. You get a walk-through guide, it’s cheap, AND you save money.

Plus I don’t just leave you to it once you’re blog is started (something I hated about the tutorial I followed to start a blog). Cause there’s some tech (AH) stuff you need to do, but you’re not gonna do it alone. It’s all in this post!

Bookmark this page and let’s get started.

HOW TO START A BLOG

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BLOG HOSTING

Click here to go to the TSOHost cloud hosting page (pictured below).

TSOHost homepage

Click “Get Started” and it will take you to this page:

TSOHost cloud hosting different packages screenshot.

HOW TO START A BLOG: PICKING A HOSTING PLAN

When I first started my blog I didn’t have a clue what plan I needed and I was very reluctant to invest in my blog without the promise of getting something back (which I’m sure you might be too).

If blogging is just a hobby…

Then “Personal” should be fine. It still has all the features you need to start a blog, and is seriously low cost.

If you’re planning on making money from your blog…

I advise going for “Startup”. It’s still ridiculously cheap, but has better features that you will need if you want to start monetising. These include:

  • More page views allowed (up to 100,000). Having a lot of page views is seriously important if you want to make money blogging. I selected a plan with more page views than I thought I needed, and I’m really glad I did. My previous blog at one point had over 38,000 page views in 1 month, which is more than the basic plan offers. So save yourself the hassle and get the plan with more page views now!
  • You can have more than one blog. I bought my hosting with the intention of only having 1 blog…and ended up using 3. So yeah, luckily my package offered more than 1 hosted website, or I couldn’t have had this blog!

HOW TO START A BLOG: SAVING MONEY ON YOUR HOSTING

You can save money on your plan by:

  • Get a longer plan. I only got the 1 year plan as I was a new blogger, but now I’ve been blogging a while I wish I had picked the longer one.
  • Use my discount code. If you use my unique discount code easyblogemily10 you will get a 10% discount. Be sure to enter it before you go to check out, in the space shown below:

enter promo code here

However this is just on your first payment, so you save the most money with this offer by getting the longer plan.

Once you’ve applied the promo code, it’ll look like this:

promo code applied

Now you’re ready to check out and get your hosting!

Just click the “Checkout now” button and follow the sign up instructions if you don’t already have a TSOHost account. Make sure to take note of your TSOHost details somewhere as you’ll need them.

During this process you will also be offered to pick a domain name (for free as part of the package, yay!).

So you’ve got your hosting and got your domain name, you’re halfway through.

Now it’s time to install WordPress (what you use to publish your blog) and get your blog up and running!

HOW TO START A BLOG: LOGIN TO THE CONTROL PANEL

The control panel (or CPanel) is where you access your blog from.

There should be a link provided to log into your CPanel account. If you can’t find it you can access it by clicking on Services > My services.

TSOHosting page. Services>My Services

Click on the “Active” button on that page.

TSOHosting My Products and Services. Click ActivateThen clicking on “Login to Control Panel”.

TSOHosting Manage Product. Login to Control Panel.

You will then be taken to this page.

Control Panel login page.

Login using the details you were given/ set for your Cpanel account (NOT the one for your TSOhosting account).

From here, we’re going to install WordPress. This is the publisher we use (I use it too) to actually publish and write posts for our blog.

HOW TO START A BLOG: INSTALL WORDPRESS

How to install WordPress for beginners

Once you’re logged in, it should take you to the Control Panel dashboard. Click on the blue button that says “Manage Website” as shown below.

Cpanel homepage

That will take you to the page where you change the settings for your website. Click on the “Install Applications” option at the bottom.

Cpanel manage website page

Select “Install” by the WordPress option.

Cpanel install WordPress button.

Click “Install Application”.

Cpanel install Application WordPress button.

It should take a couple of minutes to install. Then a message will come up in a green box, providing you with your log in details for WordPress (for your blog). Write these down as we’re going to need them in a moment.

Installed WordPress complete.

Press “Login”, and click the link provided next to “Admin URL” and it will take you to this page:

WordPress login page

We’re almost into your blog!

Log in using the details you were provided in the green box on the previous page (that we just wrote down), and it will take you to the WordPress dashboard.

CONGRATULATIONS! You now have your own blog!

You know have your own blog that is up and running. It really was that simple!

I’VE NOW STARTED MY BLOG! WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?

Before you do anything else, you need to change your password for WordPress to stop anyone else getting into your blog.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR BLOG PASSWORD

Click the icon at the top right hand side and select the “Edit My Profile” option.

WordPress homepage- edit my profile

Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the “Generate Password” option.

WRITE THIS DOWN. You will need this to access your blog again. Then press “Update Profile”.

Now you’re ready to start blogging!

One thing I hated about other how to start a blog posts however were that once they showed you how to start a blog, they kind of left you in the deep end.

I won’t lie to you, I cried the first time I tried to use WordPress! I just couldn’t understand it and I struggled to find WordPress tutorials for beginners.

This next part of the guide is about understanding the WordPress dashboard.

HOW TO START A BLOG: UNDERSTANDING WORDPRESS

WordPress is the most popular publishing system to date.

The way I think of it is it’s the stock room for your shop. You do all the background stuff for your blog on your WordPress dashboard. And your blog readers only see the nice, neat posts you publish, like an organised shop.

This is how my screen currently looks writing this blog post:

WordPress dashboard writing this post

But you will just see my organised “shop”. So the final blog post(s)!

HOW TO START A BLOG: USING WORDPRESS

Your WordPress dashboard will be a little emptier than mine right now. But the layout is still the same- on the left you have the controls, and on the right is the actual page you are working on.

Below I’ve made a little overview of the most important parts of the WordPress dashboard for beginners. We will go into the most important ones after the overview.

WordPress dashboard currently

1. POSTS

If you click on “All posts”, it will show you all the posts you have on your blog, whether they are published or just drafts. Your posts can also be organised into categories and put onto different pages of your blog.

2. MEDIA

This is where any images, videos or other media files you upload will be stored. You can upload new media files by clicking Media> Add New, or see what images you’ve already uploaded by selecting “Library”. Currently you won’t have any media files as you’ve just started your blog.

3. PAGES

This is where you’ll have different pages for your blog. You can add a page to your blog by clicking Pages> Add New.

4. APPEARANCE

This is where you can change the look of your website. You can see there are quite a few options here. These include:

  • THEMES. Your blog layout and the way it functions. You can install either a paid for theme or use a free one. Check out my list of the 10 best feminine WordPress themes here, or scroll on to find out how to use a free theme.
  • CUSTOMISE. This will take you to the live editor, so you can make changes to the look of your blog whilst previewing the changes you are making as though you were someone reading your blog on the internet.
  • WIDGETS. These are features that can be added in particular places to your blog to make it easier to use. For example I have widgets such as a search bar in my sidebar on my blog so readers can easily find what they are after. You can find out what your blog sidebar needs here.
  • MENUS. These help make your blog easier to navigate by providing links to different parts of your blog. I currently have a menu at the top of my blog that takes visitors to different pages.
  • EDITOR. This allows you to edit the coding for themes so that your blog looks and functions differently. However I’m a bit of a technophobe, so I tend to avoid this at all costs!

5. PLUGINS

These are (mostly) free pieces of software that you download to your WordPress Dashboard to alter your website but without you having to do any coding. There are a range of different plugins to help you, but too many can slow your website down.

One plugin I recommend you installing now before you write and publish anything is the free Yoast SEO plugin. It helps you optimise your blog posts for SEO (meaning Google will find them easier!).

To install the Yoast plugin, go to Plugins> Add new, and search for Yoast on the top right hand side. It looks like this:

yoast SEO plugin

Click Install next to the plugin, then press activate. It really is as simple as that.

You can check out my post for the best plugins for new bloggers here.

6. SETTINGS

This is where you can change settings for your blog, such as if people are allowed to comment, etc. One setting I recommend changing before you publish any posts is the permalink structure. This is basically the URL for a post, and the structure is the format for the URL.

I’ve changed mine to the one below:

Permalink structure

It really helps your SEO and saves hassle for if you decide to rename a category.

If you click on the little house at the top of your WordPress dashboard:

Visit Site

It takes you to how your blog looks to your blog readers.

Right now your blog will probably look a little like this:

example of new blog

…And now you’re probably thinking “wow, my blog looks awful!”.

WHY DOESN’T MY BLOG LOOK GOOD?!

It’s like this because it’s got nothing on it. No logo, no images, nothing. Which means it’s time to start making it look good!

HOW TO START A BLOG: MAKING YOUR BLOG LOOK GOOD

You’re going to want to do the following things, in this order:

  1. Create branding material
  2. Share a blog post (or a few)
  3. Install a new theme

I say to do these in this order, so that when you come to changing the layout of your blog by installing and using a free theme, you actually have stuff on your blog (posts and branding) to work with.

WHAT BRANDING MATERIAL DO I NEED?

You need branding material for your blog to give it an identity. I’m talking colours, patterns, images, photographs and more.

It’s good to get these sorted straight away, so as soon as you start getting people reading your blog it looks good!

There’s lots of branding material you can have for your blog, but the essentials are:

  • A logo/ header. This goes at the top of your blog to gives it an identity.

blog header example

  • A site icon. This is also known as a favicon, and is the little icon at the top of the page to identify it.

site icon example

  • Photographs and images. These are really important to use in your blog posts to break up the text and make your posts interesting.

You use my tutorial for creating a logo here.  Once you’ve created these, come back to this post to upload your branding material.

HOW TO START A BLOG: SHARING YOUR FIRST BLOG POST

I also couldn’t find any posts on how to write and share your first blog post. To me that’s involved in learning how to start a blog, so in this part of the guide I’m going to show you how to write and share you first blog post!

Go to Posts>Add New.

Type the title of your post in the first box. Make sure to write a catchy title people will actually be looking for.

Give post a title

Once you have written a title, you can select what category you want the post to fall under by selecting a box on the side.

Categories

As you currently don’t have any post categories, you can add one by clicking the “+ Add New Category” option. Then you can select the post to fall under a category.

WRITING YOUR POST

This is where you will write your post.

Where to put text

You can see just above where you type your post is this bar:

Text bar

This is similar to Microsoft word. You can change the text size for headings, make words bold, align the text and more.

ADDING LINKS TO YOUR BLOG POST

An important part of this bar is the link button.

Insert link button

It allows you to make a word or part of a sentence link to a different page, either internally on your blog or externally if you’re talking about another website. Just select the word or phrase you want to be the link, click this button, copy the URL into the space and click enter.

ADDING IMAGES TO YOUR POST

You’ll want to break up your blog post with visuals. You can do this by clicking “Add Media”.

Add media

Then clicking “Upload file” (as you won’t yet have a media library), then “Select File”. Select the image you want and press “Open”. Then insert into post.

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR FIRST POST

On the right side of the page you will notice a box that says “Publish”.

Publish box

In this box are features like changing the visibilty of your post, and viewing previous versions you saved as drafts.

If you click “Edit” next to the publish box, it gives you the option to change the time and date you post. This means you can put the date back if you’re late posting (which is often for me, oopsy).

Publish time edit

Once you’ve written your post, press “Publish”, and that’s it- you’ve just shared your first blog post!

HOW TO START A BLOG: INSTALLING A FREE WORDPRESS THEME

Now we’ve got something on our blog and branding material ready to put on it, it’s time to change the layout of it by installing and activating a free WordPress theme.

How to use a free WordPress theme for beginners

To install a WordPress theme, go to Appearance> Themes.

Appearance, Themes

Then click “Add New”.

Add new theme

Then search for the theme you want in the search bar. For this tutorial I am showing you how to download the Olsen Light free theme, but you can use whatever theme you like if you prefer another one.

Search for Olsen. This image should come up.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress.

Click on the image. Press “Install”.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Press install

Click the little x in the corner.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Little X in the corner

Then press “Live Preview”.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Live preview

Here you will see what the theme will look like with your blog.

Your blog will currently have 1 post on it, but no header, site icon or tagline…basically meaning it won’t look like it belongs to you.

So, let’s upload our branding material to make it look like ours!

HOW TO START A BLOG: USING A FREE WORDPRESS THEME

Click on “Site Identity”.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Site identity.

Here it gives you the option to change your tagline, logo and site icon.

To change it to your logo, press “Change Image” under the logo section. Click the “Select files” button, then upload your logo. Then click on “Choose image” and it will upload your logo onto the page.

To change the Tagline and Site title, go to the tagline section and type in your new tagline and site title.

To change the site icon, scroll to bottom of screen and click “Select image” under the site icon section.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Site icon select image.

Then click “Select files” to upload an image or “Media library” to select an image you have already uploaded. Find your file and upload. Once it’s done, click “Save and publish” at the top. This will save all the changes we made, changing our blog layout and adding our branding material and making it look like our blog!

There are a few other things you’ll want to do to make sure your blog looks full, such as adding an about page and a menu at the top of your blog so people can find that about page.

ADDING AN ABOUT PAGE

To add a page go to Pages> Add New.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Pages, add new.

Name the page “About”, and write a little description of what your blog is about. Then press “Publish”.

You’ll want to add the new page you’ve made to the menu at the top of your blog so people can access it.

 ADDING YOUR ABOUT PAGE TO THE MAIN MENU

On the WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance>Menus.

Name your menu, then press “Create Menu”. Then tick “Main Menu” and press “Save Menu”.How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Create menu, save menu.

Then you need to select what pages you want on this menu. Tick the page you created then press “Add to Menu”.

How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Add to menu.

Then click “Save menu”.

Now you will have an about page and a menu at the top of your blog!

One last thing you’ll want to do to make sure your blog looks good before you start getting traffic is adding important things to your blog sidebar so it’s easier to use and looks professional.

ADDING WIDGETS TO THE SIDEBAR

Go to Appearance> Widgets.

It will show you all the widgets available with the Olsen theme.

How to start a blog. Widgets available with theme.

You then want to drag the widgets you want into the “Blog” section, which is the main sidebar. I have chosen to add a search bar and an “About Me” section.

If you press the downward arrow, it shows you the sections you need to complete.

How to start a blog. Fill in sidebar widgets.

You don’t need to fill in everything- just making sure to upload a picture. Then scroll and press “Save”.

How to start a blog. Scroll then press save.

And then you will have a sidebar with helpful stuff in it!

I’VE STARTED MY BLOG AND IT LOOKS GOOD! NOW WHAT?

This just about wraps up the end of my free how to start a blog guide. I really do hope I have properly shown you how to start a blog!

Now you’ve got a blog and it looks good, you might be thinking what to do next.

It’s time to start working on your content and start getting traffic!

I wouldn’t want you to leave just with a blog and not knowing what to do with it or how to get people to read it. So, here are some blog posts I recommend for people new to blogging to help you get blog traffic:

HOW DO I MAKE MONEY BLOGGING?

Making money blogging can be tough, but it definitely can be done (don’t believe me? Check out how these bloggers make $1000+ per month).

Here are some tips to get you started monetising your blog:

If you found this guide helpful, please share it:
How to start a blog (the ultimate guide)

Otherwise, happy blogging!

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