In one of my previous posts, I talked about why you should create your own blog.
Today, I’m going to teach you how to start a blog in just 3 easy steps. The post is written in a tutorial style and targets the people who have absolutely no knowledge about building a website.
I will assume that you already have a niche in your mind for your new blog, so let’s jump to the first step.
1) Choose and register your domain name
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the URL people will type in their web browser to access your blog. For example, see the URL of my blog.
As you can see, my domain name is “marketingshot.com”, where “.com” is the domain extension.
A domain extension is the text after the dot. The most common extensions, which everyone is probably already familiar with, are .com, .net, .org and .info.
Lately, a lot of new extensions were made available for registration.
You can choose the extension that you think best fits your blog. While in the past the .com extension was preferred by the most people when registered a new domain name, today has become almost impossible to find your wanted domain name available with the dot com extension.
Concerning SEO, Google says that their ranking algorithms don’t care if you have a .com, .biz, .tips, a .xyz, or any domain extension and the search results are based on other criteria.
Registering a domain name vs a free subdomain
Maybe you are wondering why would you pay for a domain name when can get a free subdomain (e.g., mysite.wordpress.com) when you build your website with a free blogging service like wordpress.com or blogger.com?
The answer is simple. The free blogs are for amateurs, while the custom domain names are for serious people.
If you want to be seen as a serious person or company and become an authority in your field, it’s mandatory to go for your own domain name.
If you are ok being just “another blogger” with a free blog on a platform you have no control over, go for creating your website with a free blogging platform.
Besides that, there are also significant SEO advantages for using your domain name over a free subdomain name.
Did you notice that for the competitive keywords Google always shows the sites with custom domain names and not the blogs built on free platforms?
The free blogging platforms also have specific rules and usually, don’t like the websites created for promoting things. If you break those rules, you can easily get your site closed down and all your work lost.
If you are not willing to invest at least $10 per year for a domain name and another $10 or less per month for your web hosting, probably the internet marketing is not for you at this time.
Where to register a domain name?
You can register your domain name with any domain registrar. Usually, the companies who are providing web hosting services will also allow you to register a domain name through their company.
You will need to pay a yearly fee for your domain name (usually between $10 – $15, but this can vary depending on your chosen domain extension).
My two favorite companies where I’ve been registering domain names for years are Namecheap and Godaddy. Both are trustworthy and reputable companies, but if I’d be to choose between these two, I would say that my ultimate favorite is Namecheap, so I will continue this guide using Namecheap as a domain name registrar.
To register a domain name, enter your desired domain name in the input form from the homepage of Namecheap website, then click “Search.”
If your domain name is available for your chosen extension, you will see the domain price and a cart icon next to the domain name.
If your desired domain name is already taken, you cannot register it and you will see it in a gray color and a “Make Offer” link instead the add to cart button.
After you find a domain name you are happy with and an extension that fits your website niche, click the add to cart icon and proceed to the next step by clicking the “View cart” link from the right side of the page.
Leave the information on the next page as they are or enter a coupon code in the “Promo Code” text field from the right side if you have one. You can do a Google search for “Namecheap coupon codes + the current month” and you might find some valid discount codes.
Namecheap, at the time I write this post, it also offers a one year of free WhoisGuard service (this may not be valid by the time you read this post).
The WhoisGuard service will hide the domain registrar information when someone use a “whois domain” site.
If everything is correct, proceed to the next page by clicking the “Confirm Order” button.
If you are already a Namecheap client, log in with your existing credentials. If not, create a new account.
Select one of the available payment methods:
– Secure Card Payment
– Account Funds (funds already in your account)
Proceed to the checkout page and pay for your domain name.
After your payment is processed, your domain name will automatically appear in your account, under the “Domain List” section.
That’s all for now for the step 1. You will need to do a few more things later to connect your web hosting account (once you’ll have one) with your domain name.
2) Choose a web hosting package
The next step in starting your blog is choosing and getting a web hosting. I will cover this process in detail below.
Just as there are a lot of websites where you can register your domain name, there are also a lot of websites where you can get a web hosting package. Unlike your domain name, you will need to renew your hosting package on a monthly basis, or you also have the option to pay in advance for multiple months or years.
You can find a lot of web hosting companies with a simple Google search for the “web hosting” term. I usually use these two companies Arvixe and SiteGround. Both are well-established companies in the web hosting field, with competitive prices, and with a great customer service.
Get a web hosting package
To acquire a web hosting package, go to the “PersonalClass” link in the main menu and choose a plan. The lowest plan should be just enough for someone who is just getting started his blog, and you should have no problems till the point your blog starts to get a lot of traffic. The more you pay in advance, the cheaper the monthly cost will be (at the time I’m writing this post, the cheaper plan is $4/month if you pay for two years).
Once you have decided which plan best suits your needs, click the “Order Now” button.
On the next page, choose your billing cycle and switch to “I already own this domain” tab. Enter your registered domain name in the input field and click “Save”. Leave the “I want to transfer my domain” option unchecked.
Enter your billing details in the next section and from the right side choose your favorite payment method. You can switch between “Credit card” and “PayPal” tabs.
In the next section, uncheck the “Priority Support” additional service ( since it’s $20 and you probably won’t need it) and leave the other extra services unchecked.
Enter a coupon code under “Review Your Order Details” section if you have one. Again, you can use Google to look for available coupon codes. Enter a search term like “Arvixe coupon code and the current month and year”.
Tick the terms agreement option and click on “Place Order”.
You will be taken then to the payment page depending on your selected payment method, and once you complete the transaction, your web hosting account will be automatically set up, and your details will be emailed to you. It may take a few minutes until your order is completed and the information received in your Inbox.
You will be given a few information that will probably confuse you a bit at first if you never had a website before, but don’t worry about that since I will tell you exactly what you need to do.
Setting up your nameservers
You now have a web hosting package and a domain name, but we need to connect these together for your website to become accessible. So let’s do that.
Connect to your Namecheap client dashboard if you are not already logged in, then go to the “Domain List” menu (or if you’ve registered a domain name from another registrar, login there, but the interface won’t look like in my screenshots).
Next to your registered domain name and its expiration date, you should see a “Manage” button. Click it!
Under the “NAMESERVERS” section, click on the drop-down list (I think the Namecheap BasicDNS is selected by default) and select “Custom DNS“.
Now you should see two fields where you’ll need to enter your web hosting nameservers. If your web hosting gives you more than two name servers, click the “ADD NAMESERVER” link to add additional text fields.
A nameserver usually looks like ns1.yourhostingaccount.com, ns2.yourhostingaccount.com, ns3.yourhostingaccount.com, etc. It will, however, vary from every web hosting provider to another.
You will usually find the nameservers of your web hosting account in the first email received after you’ve paid for your hosting pack. If you cannot find anything about the nameservers, just contact the customer support and ask them how you can find your nameservers.
I assume you found your nameservers and you now need to enter them on the nameservers management section on Namecheap.
Once you’ve entered your nameservers, click on the tiny green checkmark from the right side of the page to save the nameservers.
You have now connected your web hosting account to your domain name. It may take up to 48 hours for the changes to take effect. However, this is usually very fast when you add your nameservers for the first time, and it’s almost instant (this is not a guarantee and might differ from one domain registrar to another).
All we need to do now is to install your website and start blogging.
3) Choose and install a blogging script
Now that you have a domain name and a web hosting account, you now need to choose and install a script for your blog.
There are multiple free and paid self-hosted blogging scripts you can choose from. Some were designed primarily for blogging, while other scripts were designed to be used for general purposes and are suitable for multiple types of websites.
The most popular scripts are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, Medium, Ghost, etc.
Even though there are also multiple hosted platforms which allow you to add your domain name without the need to pay for the web hosting, I wouldn’t recommend you using them since as I already mentioned above, you have literally no control over your site and database.
A self-hosted script + your own domain name and hosting will give you full control over your website, including plugins, themes, database and so on.
Even if the options are many, I strongly recommend you to go with WordPress.
WordPress is a free and open source blogging script, but can also be extended to a full content management system like Drupal or Joomla and you can create all kind of websites with it with the right theme and plugins.
I’ve used WordPress for years, and it’s truly a powerful platform to build your blog upon. You can find thousands of WordPress themes and plugins. You can quickly change the look of your site by changing your theme or enhance the core functionality of WordPress using plugins. It’s newbie friendly, and you can get a fully functional blog in less than 5 minutes.
In fact, the blog you are reading right now is built on WordPress, and I can honestly say that WordPress truly makes easier the life of a blogger.
Read my previous post about how to install WordPress if you want a step-by-step guide covering the WordPress installation process.
If you want a blog fast, check out my free WordPress installation service.
Congratulations! You now know how to start a blog.
If you still haven’t decided if you want to start a blog or not, read my top 5 reasons for starting your own blog.