How to Start a Blog

how to start a blog

There are many reasons why you might want to know how to start a blog. Maybe you have a business and want to supplement your online activity with a blog. Good idea! Maybe you want to start an online diary of your life. That’s fun too! Maybe you want to start a fashion blog, or a food blog, or a fitness blog. There are so many types of blogs out there to start! The key is starting. You have all of these ideas, so get going on them!

If you know anyone who is thinking of starting a blog, or who you think should, please pass this post on to them so they can get it done quickly and easily!

This post will serve as a step-by-step guide to show you how to start a blog in under 20 minutes. If you follow along with the post while creating your blog, you should have a new blog up and running in no time!

I will state upfront why I recommend HostGator. For starters, HostGator guarantees 99.99% uptime for your site. WordPress recommends only 3 hosting companies for running their platform – HostGator is #1. A+ customer service available 24/7/365. Another reason is that their pricing is amazingly good. (Save 25% more with code MOREFROMYOURBLOG) Lastly, as you are about to find out, the set-up from the ground up is very easy.
It is important that you know that I am a HostGator affiliate. Therefore, while it costs you NOTHING EXTRA, I get a little something when I refer people to HostGator. None of that changes anything. They are a great company, affiliate program or not. The truth is, I could become an affiliate of just about any of the hundreds of hosting companies out there, but I choose to recommend HostGator.

Ok, so How do you Start a Blog?

1. Do some brainstorming
What are you going to write about? What do you want your blog’s name to convey? Do some research as to the availability of domain names. Chances are, the first couple you try will already be taken. You can check the availability of domain names right here. Once you find a domain that is available, you’ll be at this screen:
domain availableDon’t register your domain on this screen, it will be easier to do it the way I describe below.

Once you’ve found a domain name that is available, think long and hard about it and make sure that it is the one you want. That will be something that you’re never going to want to change.

2. Get some cheap hosting
Now that you know of a domain that you like and is still available, it’s time to get some cheap web hosting to go with it.
how to start a new blog
You’re going to want to head over here, where you can sign up for HostGator and score awesome hosting for as low as $3.96/month! Save 25% more with coupon code MOREFROMYOURBLOG as well! To start, I recommend the baby plan. You can upgrade ANYTIME.

Choose a plan and you’ll be at this screen:
domain success
Upon entering your domain, you will see that it is available and it will be automatically added to your cart.

You will then be given the option to add other top-level domains to your cart such as the .net and .org versions of your domain. If you’re really worried about someone trying to snap those names up, go ahead and add them to your cart, although this can get pricey. I generally do not do this and only buy the .com domain.

Scroll down a bit to see this screen:
optionsHere, you’ll be able to select which plan is for you and how long you want to sign up for. I recommend the baby plan, because you are able to add more than one domain to the hosting plan. The price difference is so small and most bloggers are likely to add another domain. I also recommend signing up for as long as possible, as you will save money doing so. That said, the nice part about HostGator is that you can sign up for just one month at a time if you want.

So, select your hosting package and billing cycle length and then create an account username and password.

Scroll down and enter your billing info. Their site is 100% secure.

Note: if at any point during this process you get stuck, feel free to contact me (info at the bottom of post) or jump on the phone and call HostGator at 1-866-96-GATOR and they’ll be happy to help you out.

Scroll down a bit more for some extra options. The screen will look like this:
extrasThey’ll auto-check a few of these, so make sure you un-check them.

Here’s a breakdown of what these extras are:
Domain Privacy Protection – this is a big deal. If you don’t choose this, anyone can look up who owns your site and your registration information will be public. This includes your email address, physical address and phone number. You want domain privacy protection.

Secure and Accelerate Your Site – WordPress does this quite well as it is. So does HostGator. You don’t need this extra.

Site Backups: Daily Backups of Your Site to the Cloud – you want to do this, but you just don’t have to pay for it. WordPress offers a variety of automatic backup plugins including BackWPup, Backup and WPB2D.

Increase Your Search Engine Visibility with SEO Gears – This is not necessary. Follow SEO best practices that I cover on this site and you’ll do just as well.

The next section will have you enter a coupon code. Enter MOREFROMYOURBLOG to save 25% on your order!

Underneath of that, you’ll be able to review your order. It will look something like this:
totalCheck the box that you agree to their terms and move forward.

Once payment is complete, you’ll receive an email within a few minutes confirming your purchase and containing important information. I recommend forwarding this email to another email address that you own so it is in two places just in case.

In the email will be a link to your control panel aka cpanel. You’re going to want to click that. You’ll have to login. The login and password will be in the email as well.

Now that you’re passed that screen, you should get to your cPanel. This is the “back end” of your site and where all of the key technical matters will take place.

You’ll most likely be greeted with a popup. Like this:
popupClick “no thanks” and I recommend clicking the “don’t show me this again” box, as the info is easier explained on other parts of the web. Additionally, you won’t want to do much here unless you have advanced knowledge in the cpanel area.

In the cpanel, you’ll see a LOT of icons. Ignore them all for now. You don’t want to spend a lot of time here unless you really know what you are doing. What we will do here is install WordPress. With HostGator, it is actually very easy to install WordPress on a domain. In your cPanel, scroll down and look for a “Software/Services” section. It’ll look like this:
fantasticoClick Fantastico to move forward.

Next, you’ll be at the WordPress install screen. Look for WordPress on the left side of the screen and click it. Now, on the right, you will see an option for “New Installation” – click that.

The right side of the screen will have some installation details. Don’t add anything to the directory box. If you leave it blank, WordPress will be installed on the root domain that you purchased. For example if you bought and left it blank, when someone visited, they would be on your WordPress installed site. If you added the word “mashed” to the install domain, when someone went to, they would not be at a WordPress installed site, but when they went to, they would be. Make sense? The most common use of the additional wording would be if you were installing a blog on an existing site. So like if you already had, or were planning on using that domain to sell potatoes, you could install WordPress on and run your blog through that url instead.

You’ll also set up a username. DO NOT use “admin” as a username. Hackers primarily go after WordPress logins named “admin” so don’t use it. Make the site name SEO friendly. Don’t worry about the other options.

You;ll also give your site a name and description. Keep the name short and the description under 40 characters.

Continue to the next screen and complete your installation.

After about a minute, the installation will be complete. You will see a list of links. Click the link to yourdomain/admin or /wp-login to go to the WordPress login screen. Bookmark this url, it will be the page you go to when you need to login to your WordPress dashboard. Login to your WordPress and you’re good to go!
new blogYou’ll see a screen that looks like the one above. That is your WordPress dashboard. Hold your mouse over the “Posts” option and a new dropdown menu will appear. Click New Post and you’re off and running! To delete the original post that they put there, click all posts and you’ll see an option to trash that “Hello World” post.

Aaaaaaand that is how to start a blog that is self-hosted on WordPress.

Whew! We made it! Was is easy? Do you have questions? Leave a comment below, email me or catch me on Twitter @RealZackReyes. I’m happy to walk you through this process!

Now that you’re in WordPress, you’ll want to browse around the available themes and choose one that works for you. There are free themes and premium themes. I recommend jumping right in with a premium theme. It’s easy to use the freebies, but the premium themes are so much more functional, user friendly and SEO friendly that you don’t want to ignore them. First and foremost, I recommend a Genesis theme (this site runs on a Genesis theme) because of the functionality, moderate price and ease of use. Thesis is also a good premium theme with a lot of functionality.

Depending on how comfortable you are with HTML and CSS code, you will be able to customize your site on your own. If you are having trouble with handling the design yourself, it may be time to hire a designer. Try to get someone that you know, or that someone you know has worked with. Having a good, trusting designer is important, so don’t take it lightly. I recommend Laura at Pixel Me Designs. She has worked on several of our sites. Tell her I sent you! 😀

Rest assured, the hard part is out of the way. Now, it’s up to you to start providing great content, driving people to your blog and making the most out of your new venture!

How to Get People to Find Your Blog or Etsy Shop in Google

get found in google
The basic idea of keyword research is that you want to find what people are searching for and write about that.

I should state right up front that I will be including my affiliate link to my favorite keyword tool out there, Long Tail Pro in this post. While it is no extra cost to you, I get a little kickback (and appreciate it very much) if you use the links in this post.

Why do keyword research?
Keyword research is important because it can help you reach a larger audience. Keyword research is especially important for bloggers who do not have a huge following yet. Even without regular readers, you can still get great traffic numbers by getting found through search engines.

Keyword research can help you find certain “low competition keywords” that people are using in Google searches and write your blog posts around them. So let’s say you are writing a post about an HP printer. You wouldn’t want to focus on the keyword “HP printer” because the competition is incredibly high. You’d be competing with major stores like Best Buy and would have slim chance of ranking well. Now, what if you said you had found the “best HP printer under $100″ in your post? You could focus on that key phrase and probably rank a lot higher. While it is true that it does not get the same search volume that “HP printers” does, 20% of 1,000 is more than 0% of 1,000,000.

Ok, so how do you do keyword research?
Well, there’s a more difficult free way and then there’s some software you can buy to make the whole process very easy. The one thing you need to remember throughout the whole process of keyword research is that you are looking for keywords that have a decent amount of monthly searches and not much competition.

Since I’m in the business of efficiency and getting things one quickly, I am going to be showing you how to use a keyword tool to assist you in quickly doing keyword research.

Long Tail Pro is the best keyword research tool around and one of the best investments you can make for your blog and your business. It can literally do an hour’s worth of keyword research in about 3 minutes.

My absolute favorite part of this tool is the ability it has to accurately analyze keyword competition. This feature alone has saved me hours of research. I also like that it tells me the average AdSense CPC (Cost per click aka how much you make per click) for each keyword. If AdSense earnings are your #1 goal, this is a hugely important feature.

Here’s what keyword research looks like with Long Tail Pro:

keyword toolYou’ll first add a few (or one) seed keywords. Once you click generate, this screen will come up:
keyword research tool big

Click the image to make it bigger and you’ll see all of the great info that this tool provides.

Here’s another cool feature. Click on any of the results and you’ll be brought to a page with the top 10 results for that keyword and crucial information for each one.
top 10 results
Some of the info on the page includes MOZ rank (site’s rank according to, which takes into account page authority, domain age, domain authority and many other factors), domain authority and site age. A quick look at this page and you’ll get the same information that would probably take 60-90 minutes to compile using the method described above.

Long Tail Pro can make your keyword research a LOT easier and I encourage you to at least try it out and see if you like it. Get a 10 day free trial here.

It can basically turn 3-4 hours of keyword research into a 10 minute task. I got this tool with the idea of trying to help me rank my sites as a whole, but I now use it before I publish almost every blog post! Having my posts be seen in a Google search is so great!

We now have people finding posts that are months, even years old in Google. The affiliate links in those posts generate a nice amount of passive income and new site traffic.

One note: keyword research should not change a ton about what you write. It’s just about choosing the write wording to use in your posts, titles and meta data. Just a simple change like using “what I think is the best hairspray” instead of “my favorite hairspray” can mean the difference between a ton of pageviews and not much. You won’t know which keywords and phrases are the best to go after unless you do a little research though.

Your keyword research is done, so now what?
I have written on this blog about proper SEO techniques in the past, so feel free to browse the SEO section for more info. I pulled this guide to on-page SEO (which means SEO that you should use in every blog post) from my course, which you can find here.
On Page SEO Post Sample
You don’t have to follow everything on the above image exactly, but I recommend you get as close as you can with still sounding natural in your post.

Whatever method of keyword research you do, just make sure you are being thorough and accurate. The last thing you want to do is try and try to rank for a keyword that is dominated by companies with million dollar SEO budgets. You’ll never get closer than page 3 for some keywords, and it’s best to know what those are before starting a blog post. Keyword research can help you get your blog out there to more searchers and is an excellent way to build traffic to your blog. No matter how you choose to do keyword research, the important thing is that you do it. If you’re writing evergreen content (content that is timeless) and not doing keyword research, you are missing an opportunity for traffic and possibly even passive income!

Results from Our Pinterest Ads Experiment

pinterest ads

About 3 weeks ago, I posted in my Facebook group that I would be doing a test of Pinterest ads. I should mention that as of right now, Pinterest ads are invite only. They send you an email and you're in. If not, you wait. I have been running 2 ads for posts on my wife's blog Katie Did What for 3 weeks now and here's how it's going: I blocked out the campaign names because they contain keywords that we rank well for. Ok, so let's break these numbers down. Let's start with the one that most people … Read More...

Pinterest Reminds Us to Not Put All of Our Eggs in One Basket

pinterest changes blog

Last week, Pinterest made the change to stop allowing affiliate links in pins. This was a rude awakening to those who were pumping rstyle links into their pins. I definitely sympathize with the bloggers who were affected here. Losing any amount of your income sucks. However, there are a couple of things we can learn from this happening. The number one and main thing is: don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Making a lot of money in one place is not a bad thing at all, but if it's the only place you are … Read More...

The Ultimate Guide to Using Affiliate Links on Your Blog

affiliate networks for bloggers

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money online. With display ads being a dying breed, affiliate marketing with skill and tact is more important than ever to your income strategy. Done correctly, affiliate marketing can be one of the least intrusive and most profitable money-making strategies for your blog. Let's start by defining an "affiliate link" for you. Affiliate linking is the process of promoting a company or product and receiving a monetary reward when a sale is made through your … Read More...