How to Start a Blog The Right Way

A free guide from the official and original “How to Start a Blog” tutorial

My Goal is Your Success

Hi and welcome to! My name is Badi Jones, and I have been making websites since 1998. Over the years, I have created several successful websites, blogs, and tools. One of the things I am most passionate about is helping others do the same. This passion to teach and inspire others was what drove me to create

Unlike most other online blogging tutorials, whose goal is to simply get you to purchase a domain name and hosting as quickly as possible (so they get paid), I have made a decision to focus on the topics that are most essential for your success. Because the simple truth is, getting a blog online is easy. Building a successfull online business, however, takes careful preparation and planning.

As I said, I've created several successful sites and blogs, but i've created a lot more unsuccessfull ones. Each experience has been beneficial though, and hopefully, the experiences I've had will help you to avoid a lot of common mistakes that in many cases can destroy any chance for your success.

My sites, blogs, and tools have been featured in:

Blogging: The Basics

First things first, lets answer some common questions about blogging and blogs. (Feel free to scroll down if you already know the basics).

What is a Blog?

The term “weblog” was coined back in 1997. Back then, a blog was a lot like an online journal or diary. Blog entries were in chronological order, where the newest blog post was always at the top. Blogs have since become extremely popular, and are now used for a lot more than just journals.

What’s the Difference Between a Blog and a Website?

Nothing. A blog is a website. It’s actually a specific kind of site, called a Content Management System (CMS for short). There are several popular content management systems used today, but in this tutorial, we will be focusing on the WordPress Content Management System. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. All you need to know is that a blog is just a website, and from here on out, consider the two words to be interchangeable.

How much does a Blog cost?

There are free blogs that don’t cost anything. We will cover Free blogs a little bit later in the guide, but the main thing to know now is that there are some limitations, but a free blog is certainly a good option for some.

Technically, a “paid” blog is also free. The blog software itself is open source, and doesn’t cost anything. What you are paying for is a domain name and web hosting. So the real question would be, “How much do domain names and Hosting cost?”.

The answer to that can really vary a lot, but the average cost is about $5 to $10 per month. Of course, there are much higher end plans that cost a lot more, but for the price I gave, you should be able to find good reliable service.

Why You Should Start a Blog

For Business

There are so many reasons why you should start a blog, but I’d say the most common reason would be for business. If you have a business, and don’t have a blog for it yet, you really need to get one up ASAP.

It is 2015, and I can guarantee that there are people searching for your business. If you don’t have a web presense, those searchers are either going to find information about you that you don’t control, or they won’t find anything at all. I’ve seen this problem way to often, where I’m just looking for a company’s address or phone number, but it’s nowhere to be found.

For Individuals

Having an online presence is extremely important for businesses, but it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to establish an online pretense as well.

Along with social media profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter, a blog is an excellent way to establish your “Personal Brand”. I like to think of personal sites as a kind of resume on steroids. It’s a place where you can highlight your skills, accomplishments, and job experience.

Having a personal important for young adults entering the job market, and also for established professionals looking to keep their options open. And just like like the business example above, I can just about guarantee that at some point, a potential employer will try to find information about you by searching the web. When they find a professional blog that showcases your assets, it all but guarantees you an interview.

For Income

Personally, this is the part about blogs that excites me the most. And it’s not that you need a blog to make money online. My first substantial online earnings weren’t from a blog. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn HTML (the markup language used to format web pages) early on, so I was able to build webpages the old fashioned way, so I was earning from my sites before I ever knew what a blog was.

I just think it’s so awesome that that no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you have just as much opportunity as anyone else to really make a great living online.

6 Steps to Start a Successful Blog

The steps covered in this tutorial are based on everything I have learned in my 15 plus years of web development experience and close to 10 years of blogging experience.

Unlike a lot of other tutorials that claim to teach you “How to start a blog”, these steps aren’t simply here to get you to sign up as quickly as possible for my “recommended” web-hosting service. They are ordered in a way that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes that beginning bloggers make and give you the best chances for success. Tutorials that attempt to get you to buy hosting as the first or second step, or only offer one “recommended” hosting option, probably don’t have your best interests in mind. Sorry for the rant, but most of the “blogging tutorials” you’ll find online are closer to paid ads than they are to tutorials. So watch out.

  • Step 1: Decide What You Want To Blog About
  • Step 2: Decide How to Host Your Blog (Choose a Platform)
  • Step 3: Find a Domain Name
  • Step 4: Find a Web Host for Your Blog
  • Step 5: Set Up & Install WordPress
  • Step 6: Add Your Theme

  1. Decide What to Blog About

    decide what to blog aboutWhile choosing a category for your blog may seem straightforward, there are research tactics involved in making the best choice. You need to consider not only what you are interested in, but also what trending topics your potential followers want to read about. All in all, it is crucial that you put a lot of thought into your blog’s topic.

    First and foremost, choose a topic that you are passionate about. As the old saying goes, “if you do what you love then you will never work a day in your life.” The easiest way to see your blog fail before you even begin is to decide on a topic that you’re wishy-washy on. As stated earlier, it is also important to consider what other people are interested in. Finding a happy medium between the two is ideal.

    Check out trending searches on Google and try searching for your own topic idea. How popular is your chosen topic? Another way to gauge popularity of a topic is just to search for that topic in the regular search After each search, there is a number of results shown at the top. It usually says something like this:

    About 2,760,000 results (0.64 seconds)

    Popular topics will have a better chance of recruiting followers. Be sure to explore different sub-categories for the topic. For example, let’s say that you want to blog about film in general. That subject alone is extremely broad, and Google has over 2 million results archived. If you narrow the result by making it about a specific genre of film, there seems to be a lot more people interested in particular film types rather than just the idea that they exist in general. Let’s say that you change your topic to film noir; Google has nearly 50 million results, which makes it a very popular topic choice!

    Of course, there are an endless number of topics you can go with, from making good coffee to gardening to movie reviews. Another sign that your chosen subject has a significant following is when you see Google Ads positioned at the very top of your results page.

    Deciding your blog’s theme by researching Google results is not only indicative of how many people follow a particular topic, but it is also a good sign of what other caliber of bloggers you may be competing with for those followers. A Google query that comes up with that many results also means that you have to approach your blog topic in a way that makes it stand out from the rest. This means that you’re going to have to research the competition. Find an angle that they don’t take, but that readers would still benefit from getting. Being unique and creative is the lifeblood of your blog.

    For more on choosing a topic, check out 101 Blog Topic Ideas: How to Pick the Right Niche.

  2. Decide How to Host Your Blog

    paidvsfreeWhen it comes to starting a blog, after deciding what you want to blog about, your next decision will be to decide whether you want to have your own domain name (which means you will have to pay a monthly fee), or whether you want to use one of the free blogging platforms. (There are several options (both free and paid), but this tutorial will deal primarily with WordPress.)

    Many of you have probably already made your decisions about this, so you’re welcome to skim down to the next section.

    Option A) Self-Hosted Blog

    If you haven’t made a decision yet, I typically recommend that if at all possible, you want to have your own domain name. Especially if you are starting a site for a business. It’s a more professional option. Even if it’s not for business, you may just want your own domain name (

    If you’re worried that installing a blog yourself might be a complicated process, don’t worry. The setup process is extremely simple. Most hosting companies have what is commonly called “one-click” or “easy” WordPress install options that really simplify the process. Most good hosts also don’t mind helping you if you do get stuck.

    Apart from getting your own domain name, the primary reason I recommend using the self hosted version of WordPress (your domain and Web host) is because of all the great free features (not available with free blogs)

    • Plugins:
      Plugins are a means to add to the standard “blogging” functionality of WordPress. According to the official WP plugins directory, there are currently over 40,000 free plugins available. These range from the basic (adding a contact form) to complex (converting a site into a fully functioning eCommerce storefront). Just like apples “app store”, there’s a plugin for pretty much anything you can think of.
    • Themes:
      Themes can be installed to quickly change the look and feel of a blog. There are thousands of great free themes available that offer for a wide variety of professional layouts to choose from
    • Search Engine Optimization:
      Out of the box, WordPress is pretty search engine friendly, but with the self hosted version, you have the ability to make tweaks to things like the url structure, and really maximize your Search Engine optimization.

      Learn more about how to make sure you are re ready for search engines here.

    Brands that use WP

    Just some of the brands using WordPress

    Option B) Free Blogging Service

    This would be the part in most blogging tutorials where they tell you that free blogging services are the worst thing in the world, and you should never use them.

    I would prefer that you use your own domain name, but the truth is, there are lots of good reasons you might want or need to use a free service.

    The main thing to keep in mind is that with a free blog, you won’t be able to have your own domain name. BUT! … It is possible to eventually move to your own domain. Not super easy, but possible. (I’m planning to publish a detailed guide explaining how to do this, but for now, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it)

    Reasons You Might Use A Free Blogging Service

    • You’re just curious to see what a blog is, and how it works.
    • You’re starting a blog strictly for fun, and you don’t want your own domain name
    • You only need a temporary blog (possibly for an event), and the domain name isn’t important
    • You’re worried that content management system (blog) might be too difficult for you to learn to use, and you want to try it out.

    Any of these are great reasons to use a free blog, and the only reason I didn’t mention above is money. I can certainly understand if money is an issue, and if that’s the case, by all means, use a free blogging service.

    If money is really an issue, but you really need to have your own domain name, don’t be discouraged, because there are some extremely inexpensive hosting options out there — There are at least 2 options to get started for as little as $12 for 1 year (more on this in step 4).

  3. Find a Domain Name

    nametagIf you decide to host your own site, you need to choose a domain name.

    Years back, it was popular to get domain names that contained your target keyword (for example: How to Start a Blog :) ), but the best advice I can give right now is to try to come up with a unique and compelling domain name that is easily communicated verbally.

    You want to be able to tell someone the name of your website without having to spell it out. For example, explaining that it’s a number “2” and not “to” or “too” — or having to explain that there is a hyphen in the middle.

    A lot of the good domain names have been taken already, but there are definitely still some good ones available. If you’re ready to look now, take a look at the domain search here.

    One Piece of Advice

    The next section is on choosing a web host, but if you have any experience with hosting (or have even seen ads), you might know that it is pretty standard for web hosts to give away a free domain name with the purchase of hosting. This actually is a pretty good deal, which makes the advice I'm about to share seem a little bit odd, but I feel like it's a really valuable tip that's helpd me out of many tough spots.

    The advice is, keep your domain names and hosting separate. In other words, don't purchase domains from your web hosting company.

    I don't know how or why I started doing it, but at some point, I started buying all my domains with (A company who at the time dealt only with domain names). Maybe it was just convenient, at the time, but I soon learned that one major benefit was that if anything ever happened with the web host, having that domain name in a separate / neutral location makes it extremely easy to switch from one host to another.

    The most common problem I've had with web hosts is having my website go down. A lot of times, it has been my fault (too much traffic on a budget host), and when you're dealing with a webiste where extended downtime just isn't an option, and technical support who just isn't capable (or willing) to help you quickly get your site back up, it's important to have options. Being able to easily switch to a new host can be a life (and money) saver

  4. Find a Web Host for Your Blog

    serverBy far, the easiest way to get a fully functioning, user-friendly blog is to go with a hosting company that offers one-click WordPress installs This means that the site has instant installations available for blogging and forum software. These make it possible for someone with little to no blogging experience to create quality content quickly.

    See a full list of recommended blog hosting providers that offer one click (easy) installation here.

    If you have experience with web sites and hosting, and feel comfortable installing WordPress manually, continue reading. For beginners, I highly recommend using a hosting service with a 1-click / easy WordPress install (see the link above).

  5. Set Up & Install WordPress

    wordpress-logoIf you’ve decided not to go with one of the easier One-Click Install options and manually install WordPress, then continue on.

    A. In order to run WordPress, your domain host must have:

    • PHP version 4.3 or greater
    • MySQL version 4.1.2 or greater
    • It must have a username & password setup

    B. You must also create a database, which is something you can revise in the hosting control panel. After you have set it up, you should have four pieces of information about the database, all of which you will need for the installation. If you are having difficulty with this, contact your domain host for support. When you create a database, you will attain the following information:

    • Database name
    • Username
    • Password
    • Host name, which might be something like “” or just “localhost”

    C. Download the WordPress zip file and open it.
    To do this, go to and download the current version. You have a choice between a zip file and a TAR.GZ file, but it doesn’t matter which you choose.

    D. In the WordPress folder you just opened, locate “wp-config-sample.php,” then make a copy and rename it “wp-config.php”.

    E. When prompted, fill in the details on your database and save the new file.

    Define ('DB_NAME', 'yourDatabaseName'); // the name of the database
    define('DB_USER', 'your-username'); // Your MySQL username
    define('DB_PASSWORD', 'your-password'); // ... and password
    define('DB_HOST', 'your-hostname'); //

    F. Upload all the files to your web host directory.

    To install:

    A. Choose the install directory and upload everything

    • If you want your blog in a separate directory of your main site, for example “”, you will need to rename the “WordPress” folder to “Blog.” Then, you need to upload it to the root directory, along with a FTP program.
    • If you want your blog to be in the root directory of your site, then the blog will be located at “”. If you do this, you have to make sure that any file named index.html or index.php is renamed or deleted from your existing web root folder. After this, you can upload all of the WP files and folders into the web root.

    B. Finish and install by going to the domain and directory where you uploaded all the WP files. Follow the simple directions there, and you should be prompted to create a username and password.

    Video demonstration of setting up a Blog


  6. Add Your Theme

    design-themesPicking a WordPress theme can be pretty fun. There are many places to find themes, but it is safest to use the official WP Theme Directory. It is available from your new blog’s Dashboard. If you haven’t set up a blog yet, you can go directly to the directory here:

    It is easiest to install a theme from within your blog’s dashboard. From the menu on the left, look for: “Appearance” > “Themes”. Then click the “Add New” button.

    This takes you to a place where you can browse, preview, and install any of the themes you find for free.

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