Start a blog in 2019 (the ultimate free guide)

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Want to know how to start a blog?

Having a blog is amazing. It’s allowed me to earn money doing something I love, and for such a small investment. 

But it can also be a lil’ scary starting one on your own.

I know because when I started my first blog, I found so many blog posts that claimed to teach you how to start a blog.

But they were frustrating, because they didn’t really show me how to start a blog!

I wanted to make sure I (or anybody else) wasn’t in that confusing situation again.

I wanted to make sure people knew exactly how to start a blog.

So I made my own start a blog guide full of screenshots, so you can see step-by-step exactly how to start one.

This post is the ultimate how to start a blog guide.

Plus it’ll also show you what to do afterwards, like:

  • How to start getting traffic to your new blog.
  • And if you want to start making money ASAP, you can sign up for my free email course where I teach you how to make passive income from your blog below!

Otherwise, let’s learn how to start a blog properly.

Start a profitable blog this 2019

WHAT’S IN THIS POST?

This post will show 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 blog hosting
  • How to save money on hosting

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 making money blogging

HOW TO START A BLOG: WHAT DO I NEED?

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

To start a blog, all you need is:

  • 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.
  • A laptop or computer. This is 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. But the investment is small (I’m talking a-cup-of-coffee-a-month small), and your earnings could be huge (check out this list of bloggers who make $1000+ a month).
  • An hour. Yep, with this guide you can have a blog up and running within an hour, maybe even less.

And that’s it!

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

I’m going to be showing you how to get your hosting plan with Bluehost.

Why Bluehost?

Because their packages include:

  • A free domain name. If you were to think of your blog as a physical shop, the domain name is what your shop is called. Other hosting companies sometimes require you to purchase your domain name elsewhere, but with Bluehost it is included.
  • Free SSL Certificate. If you want Google to take your blog seriously and rank it for searches, it needs to be safe. This is what an SSL certificate does- it adds the little lock next to the website URL in the address bar. Again, sometimes you have to purchase this separately, but with Bluehost it’s free.
  • 24/7 support. Any questions you have, and their customer support is more than happy to answer.
  • One click WordPress installation. I have used other hosting companies in the past that did not offer one click WordPress installation, and it made the process waay too complicated. But with Bluehost, one click and the software is installed!

So let’s get started!

HOW TO START A BLOG

HOW TO SET UP BLOG HOSTING

CLICK HERE to be taken to Bluehost.

You will be shown this page:

Click “Get Started”.

2.-Select-Basic

Then you will need to pick one of the Bluehost packages.

I recommend picking Basic.

It’s the cheapest option, and has all the features you will need for your first blog.

But you are welcome to select a different package.

Click “Select” on your chosen plan, and then you will need to create your domain name.


3.-Create-a-new-domain-name

If you are starting a new blog and do not currently own a domain, enter your blog name on the left hand side.

You can check if the name you want to call your blog is available as a domain name and across social media using namecheckr.

Namecheckr

You just enter what you want to call your blog at the top, and it’ll tell you what domain name endings (.com or .co.uk for example) and social media platforms your blog name is available on.

Once you’ve found one that’s available, enter it on the Bluehost page on the left side and click “Next”.

You will then be taken to this page:

4.-Fill-in-account-information

Fill in your information.

HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR HOSTING

Scroll down, and here you will need to select your hosting package.

5.-Select-package-information-3-years-recommended

It will automatically be set to 3 years as this is the cheapest option.

You are welcome to change it to a shorter plan!

But remember you will save more money by selecting a longer plan.

Scroll down, and you can select your package extras.

6.-Select-package-extras

Bluehost will automatically tick some of these.

You do not need any, so don’t feel obliged to get them and you will save money by not ticking any.

However the one I do recommend selecting is DPP (the top one).

It’s only an extra £10 a year, and it protects all your information you use to register your blog (like your phone number and email address) and stops people from accessing it.

I did not tick this for one of my websites, and I ended up getting loads of spam calls (I still get emails from people trying to sell website services to me).

So I do recommended adding the top option.

Then enter your payment information underneath:

Scroll down, tick the top box, then press “submit”.

Then just create a password:

And click “Create Account”.

Then click “go to login”.

Log into your new account.

Name your site and give it a tagline.

Choose your website type.

You will be prompted to pick a theme.

However I recommend skipping this step, as I will be showing you how to use my favourite free theme (Olsen) later on!

Then install WordPress.

And now you’re ready to start building your blog!

Click on “Start Building”, and you will be taken to this page:

Simply click the blue “Log in to WordPress” button, and you will be taken to your WordPress dashboard, ready to start blogging!

One thing I hated about other how to start a blog posts is 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.

So this next part of the guide is about understanding the WordPress dashboard.

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, which is like your stock rooms.

Then your blog readers only see the nice, neat posts you publish, like an organised shop front.

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.

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 either buy a 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 visiting your blog.
  • WIDGETS. These can be added in particular places to make your blog easier to use. For example, I have widgets such a small about section in my sidebar. 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 alter your website, but without you having to do any coding.

There are loads of different plugins to help you, but too many can slow your website down.

One plugin I recommend you installing now before you publish a post 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 format for the URL of your blog posts.

I’ve changed mine to the one below:

Permalink structure

It really helps your SEO, and simplifies your URLs.

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 visitors.

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, no posts- 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 when you come to installing and using a free theme, you actually have stuff on your blog (branding and blog posts) to work with.

WHAT BRANDING MATERIAL DO I NEED?

You need branding material for your blog to give it an identity.

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 and gives it an identity.
  • A site icon. This is also known as a favicon, and is the little icon at the top of the page.
  • Photographs and images. These are really important to use in your blog posts, to break up the text and make your posts interesting.

You can use my tutorial for creating a logo here.

Once you’ve created these, come back to this post ready 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 I’m going to show you how.

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.

Add-title-and-write

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.

Add new category

As you currently don’t have any post categories, you can add one by clicking the “+ Add New Category” option.

Then you can tick for the post to fall under that category.

WRITING YOUR POST

Underneath your title is where you will write your post.

WORDPRESS BLOCKS

The new update to WordPress means you write your posts in sections called “Blocks”.

WordPress will automatically make a “paragraph” block when you start writing your post.

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR FIRST POST

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

Publish

Once you’ve written your post, click this button.

There will be a check page just to make sure you are ready to share your post.

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 use for our blog, it’s time to change the layout.

We will be doing this by installing and activating a free WordPress theme.

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.

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.

Then press “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.

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”.

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

  1. Press “Change Image” under the logo section.
  2. Click the “Select files” button, then upload your logo.
  3. 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.
  • Click “Select image” under the site icon section.
  • Then click “Select files” to upload an image, or “Media library” to select an image you have already uploaded.
  • Find your file and upload it.
  • Once it’s done, click “Save and publish” at the top.

This will save all the changes we made, adding our branding material and making it look like a blog we own! There are a few other things you’ll want to do to make sure your blog looks full, like adding:

  • An about page
  • A blog menu

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”.
  • Write a little description of what your blog is about.
  • Then press “Publish”.

You’ll want to add your ‘About page’ to the menu at the top of your blog, so readers 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”.
  • Tick “Main Menu”.
  • Press “Save Menu”
How to install and edit a free theme in WordPress. Create menu, save menu.
  • Tick your ‘About’ page you created on the left hand side.
  • 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 is adding important things to your blog sidebar. This will make your blog easier to navigate.

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.
  • 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.
  • Press the downward arrow and 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?

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 not knowing what to do with your blog or how to get people to read it. So here are some blog posts I recommend to help you start getting 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 making money your blog:

And don’t forget to sign up for Easy Passive Income to learn how to monetise your blog ASAP!

If you found this guide helpful, please share it:

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Otherwise, happy blogging πŸ™‚

12 thoughts on “Start a blog in 2019 (the ultimate free guide)”

  1. GIRL! This was the most helpful post I have read in my hours upon hours of research. I went from thinking about starting a blog to being up and running over the course of reading this post. Thank you so much for all the helpful step by steps and info!

    1. Hey Emily!

      Thank you so much for this comment- this was my absolute goal when creating this post, so it’s really nice to know it’s worked for you!

      Please keep in touch- I’d love to help you more on your blogging journey πŸ™‚

  2. Hi
    I’ve read your whole post here… thanks for the step by step guide… I also want to know how we get paid or who pays us… if we didn’t use any affiliate links…

    1. Hey Mashood!

      So if you use affiliate links, you will either get paid straight to your bank account or in most cases through Paypal. But some may credit you in other ways e.g a balance on their shop, etc.
      If you don’t use affiliate links, you can monetise through ads, sponsored posts or through selling your own products!

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  3. Florina Gagliardi

    Ciao Emily!

    I Have come across you’re Pinterest Post before, read a bit, but tonight I had come across again!
    It was meant to be! Because I’m in the process of building my WP website and believe me I have been working
    on it for 2 weeks now! Well, one reason is I work 9 to 5 Anywho, I just read you’re post and quite happy that I
    did! Thank you kindly for sharing all that you did, absolute helpful to me! Very explanatory, I’m a first-timer!
    The desire has always been there. I shall see how it goes! :)) Talented gel you are! I’m sure many others are quite
    thankful newbies!
    Cheers!

  4. Hi,
    I love this! I have been reading some of your other posts as well.
    One question I did have is does it cost money to install WordPress? I know some themes are free and others you pay for. I’m new to all of this and I’m just trying to figure out the total cost, or close to it, of starting a blog before I jump in. I hate finding hidden fees and things like that.

    1. Hi Rachel!

      And it doesn’t cost any money to install WordPress. You just have to pay for your hosting (I’ve recommended Bluehost here!) πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you Emily! This is such a great eSy to read post. I have been so overwhelmed with the idea of starting my blog I had no idea where to begin. I stumbled On this post and chose it because my name is Emily too :)! And what do you know, this is the best blog post β€œhow-to” I have Read this far!
    Thanks again
    -Emily W

  6. Hi Emily,
    That was a lot of really helpful information for a newbie like me. One question though, can I just copy and paste a pre-sales article from an affiliate resource as a post on my blog or do I need to actually create my own content? I have never written an article all my life. I plan to add my affiliate links to that post and drive Pinterest traffic there. Look forward to your response. Thanks.

    1. John I definitely recommend writing your own content! It makes it more unique, and you’ll build a more loyal audience this way πŸ™‚

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