HOW TO START A BLOG

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Learn all the basics about how to set up a blog as the foundation for your online business!

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The quick & easy guide to get a professional blog for making money

Hello there and thank you for stopping by!

Since the headline above contains “quick” I will get right into why this post might be for you:

If you DON’T want to:

  • Be stuck with so many technical things to decide when you are fired up to start
  • Learn how to code to be able to adjust your blog
  • Be reliant on web developers, designers or any other people to manage and change your blog
  • Read through SO MANY blog posts to get an idea of how to start a blog

And if you WANT to:

  • Create your own blog for making money (actually for any purpose)
  • Want to create your blog quickly while getting a professional result
  • Being able to adjust and scale your blog easily with the least amount of effort
  • Get quick and helpful support for any technical questions and issues along the way
  • Get a basic understanding of how a blog works behind the scenes without overwhelm
  • Save time, money and effort with a setup that is affordable and yet rock-solid

Great, you are in the right place!

Instead of having an over-detailed explanation of every step to create your blog here you will get a comprehensive yet actionable walkthrough of the process.

After completion of this post, you will have registered, installed, and configured your blog with basic settings and a professional look. This will be the foundation for any content on your blog to come!

You will find other posts on this blog going deeper into certain topics.

This post is intended to be a straight-forward step-by-step guide to get a professional blog.

Thus I will not lay out several options on every step on the way for you, but provide you my recommended option with some explanation why I chose it.

Therefore instead of wasting any more time connecting the dots of how to create a blog (because wasting time = wasting opportunity = wasting money) you could just read this one post, follow all the action steps and would leave with a blog at hand you can manage easily on your own.

Okay, to be fair: quite easily. Though I put a lot of effort into this post to make it as easy as possible for you to create your own blog there will be many topics touched which might be new to you and need some time to implement.

But if you are serious about your desire to have your own professional blog here you will find one of the quickest paths to create one.

And since no one is perfect and I love to learn and grow myself:

If you have trouble understanding a part, discover any mistakes or have any questions/feedback: Would love to read a comment about it so I can get back to you (or contact me)!

And no without further delay: the step-by-step guide to your blog!

From idea to the internet: a painless technical overview

This will be one of the few sections in this post where I explain some of the terms and concepts mentioned throughout this post. So the actual first actionable step will be step two – feel free to jump!

I will make it as short as possible and use some metaphors to help you get a picture of the foundational terms concerning blog creation. Let’s start by saying your blog will be your “house” in the digital space called “internet”.

Following this analogy:

  • Blog System / Content Management System -> the foundation and framework of your house (e. G. WordPress, Joomla, Typo3)
  • Blog Theme -> the house front and interior respectively the look & feel (e. G. Divi, Avada)
  • Blog Plugin -> additional/special features of your house (e. G. Social Warfare Pro for more Social Media sharing capabilities & control)
  • Web Space -> ground on which your house is built (basically a hard drive like one in your computer where your blog software and data is stored and which is accessible through the internet)
  • Host -> owner of the ground (e. G. Siteground, Bluehost, GoDadddy)
  • Domain -> your post address (basically what you enter into your browser to reach your blog)

With these basic terms explained here comes an overview of the steps to get your own blog online:

  1. Register a paid plan with the host Siteground to get your web space (“ground”) & domain (“post address”)
  2. Install “Wordpress” as your blog system (“foundation and framework”) on your web space
  3. Get the “Divi” theme (“house front and interior”)
  4. Install the “Divi” theme (“house front and interior”)
  5. Configure your blog and theme
  6. Install and configure additional plugins (“additional/special features of your house”)

And with this overview as “map” I will let you into the wild of creating your own blog and guide you through it the quickest path – just start with the following step:

Decide for a host to get your web space (“ground”) & domain (“post address”)

As mentioned in my introduction this article is not about laying out all choices and going into detail comparing them. Instead, I want to help you to get quick but professional results without the need to overthink every one of the many decisions to make when starting a blog.

That being said: It’s time to register a paid plan with your host to get your web space and a domain.

As a host I recommend Siteground. In this step, I will show you in detail how to register and set up your web space and domain with Siteground.

Why Siteground?

  • well-known and established host for WordPress (and other) blogs
  • affordable beginner plans
  • higher speed compared to most other hosts/plans in the same price segment
  • good support (24/7 availability)
  • automated, quick & easy WordPress installation

There are other well-known players like Bluehost or GoDaddy, but again: this article is about actions and less about decisions. And in my opinion, you can not go wrong with either of these three and especially in the beginning, there is not much difference between them.

To start go to Siteground.

So here is one decision to make:

  1. Do you plan to have more than one blog/site in the near future?
  2. If so, can you afford the “GrowBig” plan which is currently 5,95 $ / month (respectively 19,5 $ after your first invoice)?

Siteground plans

If you answered both questions with yes, go with the “GrowBig” plan. Otherwise, choose the “StartUp” plan for now. When your blog grows and you get more and more visitors there might be a point in time where you want to upgrade your plan, but both will do it in the beginning.

To continue click the “GET PLAN” button on the plan you want. On the next screen, you can choose to either register a new domain (“post address”) with Siteground or enter an existing one.

Siteground domain registration

You might be able to find another host or domain seller where you can get your desired domain a little cheaper. Though in general, most times prices are pretty much the same. Thus to have all in one place I recommend to register a new domain with Siteground, too.

Your full domain name www . yourDomainName . com later will consist of three parts:

  1. www -> you have no option here though your blog will be available by www . yourdomainname . com or just yourdomainname . com (by the way: these are NOT case sensitive, so something like www . YOURDOMAINNAME . com would work, too)
  2. yourdomainname -> the name you choose for your blog/site
  3. com -> this is called “top-level domain”

The difficult part is to find a good name which is not yet taken. Finding a good name for a blog is an art of itself. There are plenty of different opinions out there and different guidelines on how to do it. Some examples: make it short, make it simple, should reflect what you are offering.

When I started to think about names for my first blogs I got caught up in the name finding process. So many guidelines and when I thought I found a good name it broke a rule I read somewhere.

In the end, I still believe a good name can do your blog business good and vice versa. However, there are so many other factors which determine your success.

So my general advice is:

  1. just brainstorm names for your blog for a set time (e. G. 10 minutes)
  2. (optional) read one or two articles about it
  3. go through your list and see if any of your names meet all criteria YOU think are important
  4. if not: go with your gut feeling

So now you have a name. Next decision to make: which top level domain? I recommend to go with a “com” top-level domain, but if your name is taken with a “com” ending, then try out “co”.

If your name is taken with “co”, too, then perhaps it is possible to create a still good and available name variant by adding generic words to the name like “the”, “first” or “now”. Siteground’s domain availability check tool offers some alternatives if your name is taken:

And of course, you can still think of and try out another name.

Why no other ending than “com” or “co”?

You can choose another ending, but be careful: Over the last decade a lot new top-level domains have been introduced, so by not there are over 1500 top-level domains (though some are not available for everyone).

However: Google mentioned in the past that the top-level domain will not affect how a site ranks within Google’s search results.

But it might affect the perception of your site. Some endings are perceived by more people as shady or just unprofessional. Either because many shady sites are registering with these endings or simply because many people are not familiar with many of the new endings, yet.

Also some endings are connected to countries respectively languages (e. G. “de” for German), types of institutions (e. G. “org” for non-profit organizations) or topics (e. G. “io” which stands officially for “Indian Ocean” but is now a popular top-level domain used by many tech startups).

Back to the action: as soon as you find an available name which suits you comes the next step, which is order review and completion:

complete registration with Siteground

Just fill in your data.

In the “Purchase Information” section: If you do not have a data center in the US preselected (as in the screenshot), I recommend to choose one in the US from the dropdown if your audience likely will be mainly from the US.

Domain Registration checkmark will be preselected if you chose to register a new domain with Siteground in the previous step.

The “SG Site Scanner” is optional. I think it is not necessary. Therefore I did not chooose it myself and can not give you an impression of it how it would look like / work exactly.

And that’s it!

Now you have your web space (“ground”) and domain (“post address”) and it is time to start the construction works:

Installing WordPress (“foundation and framework”).

Don’t be afraid, today it is easier than ever and I guide you through the process in the next step.

Install WordPress as your blog system (“foundation and framework”) on your web space (“ground”)

To install WordPress open Siteground and login:

Siteground login

Then click on the “My Accounts” tab and inside on the orange / reddish “Go to cPanel” button:

go to cpanel

The cPanel area is where a lot of the technical settings concerning your web space can be configured. First time I saw all the options I got overwhelmed.

Good news is: to get your blog up and running you actually only need the WordPress Autoinstaller.

Later you might want to come back for specific tasks like a setup of an email address (e. G. yourname @ yourblog . com and/or hello @ yourblog . com).

To continue click the “WordPress” button inside the “AUTOINSTALLERS” section:

Siteground cPanel

This will lead you to the Autoinstaller section:

Siteground WordPress Installer

Click “Install Now” and a WordPress installation form opens:

Siteground WordPress Installation

Most default options are fine. However, consider changing the following ones:

  1. “Choose Protocol” -> change either to https:// or https:// www. Depending on if you want your blog visitors to see “https:// yourblog . com” or “https:// www . yourblog . com” in their browser’s url bar. By choosing https your blog can be accessed in a more secure way (https = “secure” http). In today’s age, this is even SEO relevant (= relevant for your blog ranking on search engines like Google). If you get a warning if choosing https, then go with http:// or http:// www. for now. You can switch later to https by installing a security certificate, which is easier to do than it sounds using the cPanel, and switch your blog to https.
  2. “Site Name” -> The name for your blog. For lillaliptak.com it is “Lilla Liptak”.
  3. “Site Description” -> the description of your blog. For lillaliptak.com it is “Personal Development”.
  4. “Admin Username” + “Admin Password” -> you will soon use these to log in to your WordPress backend. Thus consider changing at least the name so you can better remember it. Could be your full name without spaces. Since you will need the name and password in a bit remember it or write it down somewhere safe.
  5. “Admin Email” -> add an email address you can access. This can be changed later if required. It will be used by WordPress to send you important notifications like a completed auto update.
  6. You do not need any of the offered plugins below the “Select Plugin(s)” section -> You can install them any time later if you want. If any plugin is preselected I recommend removing the selection.
  7. “Wordpress Starter” -> deselect this option. It provides a WordPress wizard by Siteground the first time you log in to your WordPress backend. However, you will not need it.

If you are done just click “install”. An installation bar will appear. Wait for the installation to be finished until the success message appears:

Siteground-Wordpress Installation Successful

The message will contain 2 links:

  1. The link to your blog’s homepage
  2. The link to your blog’s WordPress backend, ending with “/wp-admin”

Create a bookmark for each.

Check out your blog’s homepage first.

It will look something like this:

Wordpress blog default homepage

Next login to your WordPress backend: follow the link ending with “/wp-admin”.

A login page appears. To log in use the name and password you chose during the installation.

At first, you will see your WordPress “Dashboard” which is like the homepage of your backend:

Wordpress Dashboard

The left sidebar is the main navigation inside your backend. From here you can reach areas to install a theme (Appearance -> Themes), install plugins (Plugins -> Add New) or just configure your blog (Settings).

Your theme and plugins might add new menu entries like the “SG Optimizer” plugin which is preinstalled on Siteground WordPress installations.

You will come back here later when installing your theme.

But for now: Congratulations: you have successfully installed WordPress!

Next step: get your blog theme (Divi).

Get the “Divi” theme (“house front and interior”)

There are as many themes as stars in the sky. The quality of the themes varies greatly and while some themes are “multi-purpose”, some have very specific use cases.

Because I intended this post to be a quick & easy guide I will not go into details about theme differences.

Instead, I will show you how to get the popular Div” theme and install it.

Here is a summary of why I recommend Divi and think you can not go wrong with it:

  • It is multi-purpose and very flexible
  • “Divi-Builder” provides a quite easy way to create designs for your posts and pages according to your wishes and needs
  • Many beautiful and easy to use premade layouts for posts and pages
  • A lot of elements ready to use (e. G. image slider, countdown timer, pricing table)
  • Updated regularly
  • Great support (quick and helpful)
  • Great documentation by Divi creators “Elegant Themes” and a lot of other helpful resources by other people out
  • Possibility to buy a license version with a one time fee for lifetime support and unlimited sites
  • 30-day money back guarantee

There are other popular multi-purpose themes like Avada. But since I use and like Divi the most and am most familiar with it I chose it for this post.

So let’s get to it: to buy the theme you can use this link: https://lillaliptak.com/go/divi

The license options you have are simple and only differ in the payment model.

Either go with a yearly fee (“Yearly Access”) or pay a higher one-time fee (“Lifetime Access”):

Divi licenses

Both got the same functionality.

Therefore if you can imagine using Divi about more than 2 and a three-quarter year then I would go with the “Lifetime Access”.

Click “Sign Up Today!”, fill in your information and submit the order.

Done!

You now have WordPress installed and a theme in your pocket 🙂

Time to install and use it. I will show you how to in the next step.

Install the “Divi” theme (“house front and interior”)

After you have bought a Divi license in the last step now you can install the theme.

Divi itself offers an installation guide.

The first thing to do is to download the theme:

  1. Sign in to the Elegant Themes member’s area with your username and password which you chose when buying either the “Yearly Access” or the “Lifetime Access” license
  2. Go to the “Downloads” area using the side navigation (if not already selected). Click the Divi “Download” button and save the zip file somewhere on your computer:
    Divi download
  3. Now is the time to log in again to your WordPress backend (which is the link to your blog with the “/wp-admin” at the end). Hover over “Appearance” in the left sidebar and click on “Themes”. Then click the “Add New” button:
    Divi installation - add new button
  4. Next click the “Upload Theme” button:
    Divi installation - upload theme button
  5. Then click on the “Choose File” button and choose the Divi zip file you saved on your computer:
    Divi installation - choose file button
  6. Afterward, the “Install Now” button is no longer grayed out. Whenever you are ready: click it!
    Divi installation - install now button
  7. After you clicked it might appear as if nothing happens. But the browser tab will show a loading symbol and it takes some time until the installation is complete. Just relax and wait until you see the following screen and then click “Activate”:
    Divi installation - installation complete
  8. Now the Divi theme is activated. To activate Dive theme updates hover over the new “Divi” button inside the sidebar and click on “Theme Options” within the hover menu:
    Divi installation - divi activated
  9. The theme options contain different sections to configure your theme. For now, click on “Updates”:
    Divi installation - divi theme options
  10. Now you need to enter your API key (don’t worry about what that means exactly – in essence, it is a unique code representing “you” respectively your Divi purchase) and your Elegant Themes username:
    Divi installation - divi theme options - updates
  11. The username is the same you use to login to Elegant Theme’s member area. Within the member area is a page where you can see your api key:
    Divi installation - divi api key
  12. Enter both and click “Save Changes”. Now hover over “My Blog” in the top navigation bar and click “Visit Site” to open your blog. You should see the default Divi homepage: Just to clarify: the top bar with buttons like “My Blog” will not be visible to any visitor – you just see it because you are logged in into your WordPress.
    Divi installation - divi default home page

That’s it!

You now have Divi installed and activated on your new blog 🙂

There are many WordPress and Divi settings to configure and before you get lost in all the options continue with the next step where I show you the most important settings to start with.

Configure your blog (“foundation and framework”) and theme (“house front and interior”)

There are many WordPress and Divi settings available to configure to your whims and needs – too much to cover them all in this step.

Fortunately, most settings are fine (at least for the beginning) and there is good and comprehensive documentation by both WordPress and Divi available.

However the documentation can overwhelm in the beginning and in the case of settings barely offer guidance on which settings are more important than others, especially when starting a blog.

While some settings are relevant only for a few blog owners, others are important no matter what your site is about and contains.

In this step, I will show you options and settings I recommend to start with.

Here is a quick overview of what you can expect:

So let’s start with the WordPress settings:

WordPress settings

Set your blog title and tagline

Hover over “Settings” in the sidebar and click “General”. Then add your site title and tagline:

Wordpress settings - title and tagline

Ensure that search engines are not discouraged to index your blog

Hover over “Settings” in the sidebar and click “Reading”. Make sure the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked:

Wordpress settings - search engine visibility

Otherwise, most search engines like Google or Bing will not list your blog within their search results.

Divi settings

Hover over “Divi” in the sidebar and click “Theme Options”. Click “Upload” to upload a logo image:

Divi settings - logo

Click the “Upload Files” tab (below “Choose an Image” in the top left corner of the overlay) and then either drop your image file into the grey area or click “Select Files” in the middle and select your logo image:

Divi settings - logo upload

On the next screen enter a “Title” for your image (will be shown if you hover over the image) and an “Alt Text” (will be shown if the image could not be loaded and be read by a screen reader). Then click “Set As Logo”:

Divi settings - logo selection

The overlay will close and you will be back in the “Theme Options”. Click “Save Changes” and then hover over “My Blog” in the top navigation and chose “Visit Site” – your uploaded and saved logo should have replaced the default Divi logo:

Divi settings - logo active

That’s all 🙂

Add your blog favicon

I hear you: “What is a favicon”?

Quoting WordPress: “Site Icons are what you see in browser tabs, bookmark bars, and within the WordPress mobile apps” (you can see this if updating your favicon via the “Theme Customizer”).

Without a favicon a default favicon will be shown like here in the Chrome browser:

Divi settings - default favicon

A favicon image needs to be a square. WordPress also recommends the dimensions to be 512px in width and height.

To upload and activate a favicon hover over “Divi” in the sidebar and click “Theme Customizer”. The blog opens with a different looking sidebar – the “Theme Customizer”. Click “General Settings” in the sidebar:

Divi settings - theme customizer

Then click “Site Identity” and then the blue “Select Image” button:

Divi settings - upload favicon

The same overlay to upload an image file like in the previous step to upload a logo appears.

Follow the same steps as for the logo: select a file for upload and upload it, change “Title” and “Alt Text” for the favicon (e. G. “[name of your blog] favicon” -> “Lilla Liptak favicon”), click the blue “Select” button.

Divi settings - uploaded favicon

If your favicon is uploaded and activated you should be able to see it immediately:

Don’t forget to click the blue “Publish” button at the top of the theme customizer sidebar.

And that’s it 🙂

Add your social media profiles to your blog OR disable all / the ones you do not need

If you are still in the “Theme Customizer” close it by clicking on the “x” in the top left corner:

Divi settings - close theme customizer

By default already some social media icons are visible in the footer of your new blog but they do not link anywhere:

Divi settings - social media icons footer

To add links to your social media profiles or remove any of the icons hover over “Divi” in the sidebar and then click “Theme Options”.

Within the theme options scroll down until you see on/off switches and the fields where you can enter links to your social media profiles:

Divi settings - social media icon settings

Just use the switches and add links as you like and click the “Save Changes” at the top of the theme options.

That’s it for now 🙂

Go to the next step to reflect and celebrate!

Summary and next steps

Congratulations you did it!

Your blogging adventure has started and you reached your first great milestone:

You now have a functioning blog which you can fill with content and build up from here!

Here is an outline of possible next steps (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Create your essential pages – homepage, about
  2. Create your first post
  3. Install basic plugins for:
    1. search engine optimization (to optimize your blog in ways that it gets ranked higher in search engines)
    2. easier use of WordPress (some very useful tools are not built into WordPress)
    3. blog analytics (to track things like how many people view your pages, how long they stay and how they got to your blog)
    4. improved social media support (especially share buttons)

Some of the above topics might be covered on my blog in the future – so stay tuned if you liked this article and want to proceed with your own blog business!