How to start a blog in 2021: A step-by-step guide

Hi friends, today’s blog post is all about the basics – specifically a how to create a blog website especially for aspiring bloggers.  

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a blog but didn’t know how, or  you’ve always known you’d start a blog but just kept putting it off because of all the technical things, or maybe your best friend has a blog and you want one too. Well whatever the reason, it’s time to stop procrastinating – to say yes, and start that blog! 

You can do it – I believe in you. 

And I’ll show you how easy it is to start a blog in less than 30 minutes.

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What you’ll need to start a blog

First things first, if you intend for your blog to be semi-professional / potentially turn into a business / personal branding website, then you are going to need a few things. They are:

  1. A small investment
  2. Hosting
  3. Domain
  4. Content Management System (WordPress in this instance)
  5. A tall glass of creative juice

What the what? Some of the words might be new to you but do not worry – this blog post will cover all the steps to guide you on how you can start your own blog today. You will learn:

  • How to start a blog in under 20 minutes
  • Recommendation on choosing an affordable hosting and domain provider
  • How to get a free domain name (URL or the website address you will use) and email address
  • How to set up WordPress on your self-hosted blog for the first time

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Starting a blog requires a small investment

“A small investment? I thought I could start a blog for free!” I hear you claim. Sure, you can start a blog for free. However, as I mentioned earlier if you are intending for your blog to be one to support your business, turn into a profitable blogging business, or to drive your personal brand, you will need to invest a small amount of money.

This investment will go towards purchasing a hosting and domain. 

What is hosting and why do I need it to start a blog?

Hosting is where your website and blog will reside. Think of hosting as a house; it is where you will house your content, blog posts, videos, photos, and all the amazing things you are going to create.

What is a domain and what does it have to do with starting a blog?

If hosting is your house, a domain is your address. In context, it is your website address. The URL you will use to refer to when telling the world about your website and blog! You cannot have a blog without a domain – after all, you will need somewhere to direct people to when you share your amazing content.

My recommended blog hosting and domain provider: GoDaddy

There are literally hundreds of hosting and domain providers out there, so why GoDaddy? 

In my time as a personal blogger and freelance digital marketer, I have used several hosting providers such as MelbourneIT, Crazy Domains, and Netregistry. All of them weren’t that bad but what really got to me was the customer service, or lack thereof. After several years of just dealing with the annoyance with customer service, I decided to switch to the company with the fun, wacky name: GoDaddy.

Since then, I’ve moved all my domains, websites, client websites over to GoDaddy. Its website design is easy to use, navigate, and also affordable – which is all great, encouraging news if you are just starting out. And what’s even more encouraging, is that they have a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with what you’ve received.

Getting your blog started with GoDaddy

Here’s where it gets exciting.

Head over to GoDaddy and check out the WordPress Hosting plans available. As you’re just starting out, I recommend opting for any plan from Basic to Ultimate – simply because of the value you get from it. The Ultimate Plan throws in a Free SSL certificate, which you will need and purchasing that as a standalone can cost up to $100 or so. 

An annual Ultimate Plan will set you AUD $382.80 – which works out to be $191.40 per year. That’s basically 47.85 cups of takeaway coffee (presuming a cup of coffee is $4).

Various pricing tiers available by GoDaddy for WordPress
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Click on Add to Cart to proceed, then on the next screen select the length of term you want to purchase the plan for. I recommend 12 to 24 months if you are committed to the growth of your blog. Click on Continue to proceed.

And here is where you’ll get a free domain and email address with your hosting!

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Type in the web address you would like to claim as your blog. Need some help or inspiration? Check out my blog post on how to find the perfect name for your blog. 

It’s important to be absolutely certain and content with the blog name you choose – you will not be able to change this once you have completed your purchase, so take all the time you need to decide on your blog’s web address.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to another screen with an option to purchase Full Domain Privacy & Protection. This is completely optional, and is something I recommend investing in if you are uncomfortable with having your personal information available online. That said, if someone really wants to find your personal information – it can still happen with or without domain privacy and protection. 

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Proceed to checkout and payment to complete this step.

Read also: How to plan and organise your blog publishing (plus a free editorial content calendar template)

Installing WordPress: Your blogging platform

Once you have your domain and hosting paid for, now it’s time to install WordPress. Now, you may have heard of WordPress before – and you may be wondering, how come I had to pay to get my domain and hosting up to install WordPress when others had gotten it for free? 

That’s because there are 2 versions of WordPress, most commonly referred to as WordPress.org and WordPress.com. When you install a self-hosted (which is what you have done) WordPress, this is the WordPress.org version. If you opt for a free one, you will not have the option to flex your creative naming process and choose your domain. Thus, your blog website address could potentially look like mycoolblogname.wordpress.com. 

There is nothing wrong with a free WordPress blog site, however as I mentioned before, if you are looking to start something up for the long term, a self-hosted blog is the way to go. A self-hosted blog site also gives you a whole lot more room to play with, creatively. You can choose different WordPress themes, plugins, and do more cool things without limitation.

You should be taken to the Dashboard of your GoDaddy account, and on that page you will see a call-out inviting you to install WordPress. Follow the Wizard instructions to get your WordPress set up. This step will require you to set up a username and password for your future logins.

It should take anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes. 

And then that’s done!

You can now access the backend of your WordPress website (your admin dashboard) by heading to yourwebsitedomain.com/wp-admin – just replace ‘yourwebsitedomain’ with your very own website address. From there you will need to login with your username and password.

Writing your first blog post

How exciting is this step?! It’s time to serve up a tall glass of creative juice and get cracking with your first blog post.

If you are a first time blogger, this step can feel excruciatingly daunting. You may worry about how it will be received, or worry that no one will even read it, or worry about how you’ll sound.

My professional advice?

Put all those worries away, and hit that publish button. Overthinking everything can be so harmful to any creative process. Part of the process is simply taking that first step!

The next step (or blog post) will be easier, and the next even easier. And by the tenth step, you’ll have gotten into the groove.

Optional (but worthwhile) step: Changing your WordPress theme

Once you have published your first blog post, you may start to get a feel of how you want your blog to look like. Just like how you can change the look of a home with new paint and decor, you can change the look of your blog with a new WordPress theme.

By default, WordPress installs their proprietary theme of the year. These themes are decent enough and mostly does the job. However, perhaps you want something a little different. And why not?

If you are looking to update your WordPress themes, here are some great places to get started.

So there you have it – you have just set up your very own blog!

Congratulations and really take a moment to experience that sense of accomplishment. It was a huge task, and you’re now on your way to realising your dreams.

Read also: How to plan and organise your blog publishing (plus a free editorial content calendar template)

How to set up your first blog in a nutshell

Jumped all the way down here? No worries, here’s what you’re going to need to start your blog in 2021.

  1. A small investment
  2. Hosting and domain
  3. Content Management System (WordPress in this instance)
  4. A tall glass of creative juice
  5. A sweet looking WordPress theme
Set up a WordPress blog in less than 30 minutes
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Hi, I'm Michelle

Hi, I'm Michelle

I’m a former corporate suit wearer turned creator and entrepreneur. I traded suits for smiles in 2020, and now help small business owners, and everyday people with a dream achieve success online. Sign up to my mailing list to receive unlimited access to my resource library. Also, let’s be friends 🙂

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