This guide on how to start a blog from scratch in 2022 (and make money blogging) is great for beginners! You'll get step by step instructions on picking hosting, how to install Wordpress, and how to find plugins to help you with SEO optimization and social media. Great ideas for food, fashion, or travel blogs – start in as little as 1 hour!
Have you ever read your a post from your favorite blogger and wondered how to start a blog for yourself? Today's your lucky day!
Looking a little different around here? 🙂 For the past couple of weeks, I've been working around-the-clock (and I'm barely exaggerating 😅) to make sure Lamberts Lately is as pretty, as fast, and as functional as possible. It's about 95% of the way there – I'm thrilled with the results so far! So, with the updates, I thought it would be a good time to update my “how to start a blog” post.
Each year, I love to detail to my readers how to start your own blog from scratch. It's not very difficult – it really just requires following a detailed set of steps to make sure your blog starts with the right set of tools and resources that will allow you to reach as many readers as possible. I absolutely love sitting down to write this post because it might allow someone to have the success with their blog that I've seen over the years.
I started out my own blog on the Blogger platform in 2009. This is a service by Google that offers free blogs. When I began, I was really just doing it to document our lives – so many of my friends were starting blogs just to keep up with day-to-day happenings, and I thought it would be a fun hobby! What has happened in the past 10+ years is beyond my wildest dreams. This blog has allowed me to stay home with my children while contributing to the finances in our home, using blogging as a full time job. It's also been an amazing creative outlet for me. I truly get to wake up to my dream job each day! I pinch myself thinking about what this blog has become and what a blessing it has been to my family.
In June of 2016, I switched my blog from Blogger to Wordpress. It's a move I had debated for a long time, but I couldn't be happier with the switch. I still think Blogger is a great platform that works really well for casual/hobby bloggers. As a matter of fact, I moved my old personal blog posts back to a private blog on that platform a couple of years ago, making this site all about home how-to's. But, if you're really looking to do this professionally in today's market, I truly believe you need to start out and stay on Wordpress. It's the only platform that allows you to optimize and publicize your posts to really be competitive for search rankings (on both search engines and Pinterest). Plus, it's just easier to integrate so many cool features with Wordpress plugins.
The main reason I debated the move from Blogger to Wordpress for so long is complete and total intimidation. I had been on Blogger since 2009…it was easy and familiar. I knew the ins and outs of the platform, how to troubleshoot issues, the coding. And I was comfortable. But comfortable isn't always the right place to be in a business. I finally decided that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk to give my blog the independence and technical features it needed to really succeed. So, one random Friday night in June 2016 (right before a product launch, not my smartest idea ever), I buckled down, researched hours of Youtube tutorials and website troubleshooting on how to start a blog on Wordpress, and successfully transferred my own blog from Blogger to Wordpress.
Why You Should Choose Wordpress
I think my biggest takeaway from the experience is that, whether you are a new blogger or switching platforms, learning how to start a blog using self-hosted Wordpress really isn't all that difficult at all. There are just a particular set of steps that you really need to follow in order to ensure a successful blog launch on the Wordpress blogging platform. So, right after I finished my own transfer, I published my how to transfer from Blogger to Wordpress and my first edition of this post. I've published a couple of updated guides to how to start a blog since that time – the technology and steps occasionally change, so I like to keep my tutorials fresh by re-publishing when I have new information. That leads us to today – let's walk through how to start a blog in 2022!
I am incredibly passionate about helping people that want to get into the blogging business get started. This business has changed my life and I know there are so many people out there would love the flexibility and creative outlet that this job gives me. If I can give that to someone else, I want to help. The best part is – learning how to start a blog is so easy! You could be done with this “how to start a blog” tutorial in less than an hour…isn't it crazy that less than an hour of work could change your life? Excited? I am! Let's get going.
How to Start a Blog in 2022
(Affiliate links used in this post. Read more about my affiliate link use here.)
1. Set up your blog hosting and site domain name.
Option 1: How to start a blog on Siteground
Your hosting is where your files/photos/blog content/basically anything that's on your blog will be stored. There are a few amazing options out there that aren't expensive at all!
I did so much research about what hosting company I wanted to use before switching to Wordpress. There are plenty of inexpensive options in web hosting, but I really wanted to go with a host that would provide a great combination of price and quality. Ultimately, I chose Siteground as my host. This is still the host I recommend for beginner bloggers – you can't beat the value for the price! They also have a wide variety of packages available to suit many traffic and storage needs. And, while they're offering their packages for 60-70% off the regular price, it's a great time to sign up.
Once you follow this link to Siteground, click on the link that says Managed Wordpress Hosting. Scroll down just a little to see the hosting plan for your needs – you should see something like the screen shot above (the prices may vary a little, depending on their current sales). If you're a new blogger, the StartUp package will probably be your best bet…that covers up to 10,000 hits per month, and offers 10GB of web space (I had over 1,600 picture-heavy posts when I moved to Wordpress and didn't even come close to 10GB, so that should be plenty unless you're storing a ridiculous amount of files). As your blog grows, you can always upgrade to their larger packages if needed. (Note: one perk of picking a bigger package right now is that you can lock in that discounted price for up to 36 months. If you upgrade later, you would pay the full monthly rate.)
If you think you're going to need a little bit more storage right off the bat or are starting more than one website, the GrowBig or GoGeek packages might be for you. Both of these accommodate more monthly visitors (the GrowBig up to 100,000; the GoGeek up to 400,000) and have double and quadruple (respectively) the web storage space of the StartUp pack. They also have some nice perks – both of these come with Priority Support (so Siteground's support would be even quicker) and a SG Optimizer solution that makes site load time as much as several times faster (which is great for user experience and search engine rankings).
All blogs have different needs, so it really just depends on what you're wanting to do with your site. All three options are relatively inexpensive (especially with the current discount they're offering) and offer incredible speed and service.
Click the “Get Started” button below your package, and you'll be taken to the next page…
Select “Register a New Domain” (unless you have your own domain name for some reason…chances are you don't if you're just starting your blog). Your domain is your web address…i.e. whatever you're going to type in when you go to your blog (www.yoursitenamehere.com). This is something you'll pay a company to register each year as yours (and is different from hosting, which is where you store all of the content on your blog).
Put in your information at the top…
Your hosting package should already be selected (probably the StartUp plan if you're a new blogger…possibly GrowBig or GoGeek if you will have more hits or have more than one site that needs hosting), but can be changed by clicking that square next to the plan name. You'll also choose the the amount of months you want to pay for today. You can select 12, 24, or 36 months…I did 12 so I could lock in the discount for a full year. Even if you think your blog is going to eventually grow to over 400,000 hits, don't worry – Siteground has a Cloud storage option (what I currently use) for bigger sites. And upgrading to a bigger plan later is incredibly easy.
At the bottom, you get the choice for a couple of add-ons. I recommend the “Domain Privacy” option if you're registering your new domain name from your home address or if you blog anonymously – this will hide your personal information from public domain information databases. I did a little bit of research about the SG Site Scanner (under extra services) before ordering, and from what I read, it isn't a really necessary addition.
Once these options are selected and you click “Pay Now,” you're all set! You now own a self-hosted website with a custom domain name!
Option 2: How to start a blog on Bigscoots
After a few years, I needed to switch hosts. I needed a little bit more “oomph” to my site speed than Siteground was capable of, so I switched to a Bigscoots WPO Starter Plan. I chose them because they provide incredibly fast, inexpensive hosting. It was highly recommended by many people in my Facebook blogging groups. I've been so pleased so far!
If you're looking to spend a little bit more per month to ensure super fast hosting with a dedicated server (i.e. not sharing resources with other websites), go with Bigscoots. Here's how to set up your Bigscoots hosting.
Click here to head to Bigscoots and select “managed Wordpress hosting” at the top.
On the managed hosting page, select “Wordpress Optimized.”
I highly doubt 95% of beginner bloggers are going to need anything bigger than the Starter plan. I'm on the Starter plan (with a little bit of added ssd storage), and it's perfect for what I need. Take a look through the options (keeping in mind you can always upgrade later if needed), and select your plan.
Once you set up your account, you're all set to add Wordpress!
2. Install Wordpress to turn your website into a blog.
Don't think of Wordpress so much as your blog…think of it as the software that makes your site function as a blog. In this step, you'll be putting it on your site to essentially turn it into a blog.
(This is the process of installing with Siteground, but it's a similar method with Bigscoots; you'll just go to your site option in Bigscoots and click on “Wordpress” to get started.)
Go to “Websites” tab in the top menu once you've purchased hosting and logged in to your Siteground account, click “Site Tools” under your site's address, and select the Wordpress icon on your Site Tools page (as seen above). Once you select that, you'll be taken to a page that explains what the software is all about…click “Install Now” on that page. Put in your blog info (names can be changed later if needed) and desired Wordpress login info (don't use admin, it's pretty commonly hacked), and that's it…you now own a self-hosted Wordpress site!
3. Log in to Wordpress.
Once Wordpress is installed, go to www.yoursite.com/wp-admin (replacing yoursite with your domain name) and you should see the screen below. This sometimes takes a few minutes after you complete step 2, so don't worry if it isn't showing just yet. Once you get this page pulled up, sign in with the login info you just entered when you initiated the Wordpress install.
4. Get Wordpress ready for your first blog posts.
Once you're in Wordpress, you should see your dashboard. Get used to this – you'll be controlling most aspects of your blog through these pages.
If you click your blog name at the top of the page and click “Visit Site,” (or just type in www.yoursite.com), you'll see what your site currently looks like. This is what mine looked like shortly after signing in to Wordpress for the first time. If you've registered through Siteground, there are a couple of default posts that will show up.
Go delete those posts by going to “Posts” on the left-hand side of your Wordpress dashboard. Check the posts and select “Bulk Actions,” then Delete. If you'd like to go on and add a new blog post, go for it. This is where you'll publish your posts in the future. Just click “Add New” at the top and get to writing if you'd like. That's totally optional for right no. However, it does help make sure your page formatting is working appropriately in the next steps.
Do a teeny little bit of housekeeping in Wordpress by going to “Settings,” “General,” and putting in “www” before your URL in the Wordpress Address and “Site Address” fields, just to make sure your address points to the right place.
5. Set up your mobile responsive Wordpress theme.
This is a fun part…setting up the look and functionality of your blog! The template of your blog is a huge factor in helping readers find the categories & topics they need.
This is something that has changed a good bit since I went to Wordpress in 2016. At that point, basically every blogger in the game used the Genesis theme. Some changes in management have caused it to not function as well for a really optimized site. So, as of 2022, I recommend the Kadence theme for a Wordpress blog.
Kadence is a free Wordpress theme! It's incredibly easy to do too.
In your Wordpress dashboard, click “Appearance” on the left-hand side, and click “Themes.”
Now, select “Add New” at the top of your page, searching for Kadence once you're there. Simply click “Install.” (Hold off on pressing “Activate,” you might not need to do that yet if you're purchasing a child theme.)
You could stick with Kadence as your look, but as is, it's kind of boring. Great coding, but kind of boring. So I chose to add a child theme that makes it pretty. A child theme is the collection of design elements that shape how the blog looks. Your overall theme is your house – foundation, bricks, beams. Think of the child theme as your new home's furniture, paintings, and accessories. There are SO many options for child themes out there.
This is something that has changed a little bit over the years as well. When I went to Wordpress initially, my child theme was with Pretty Darn Cute on the Genesis theme (seen above). Their company changed a bit as well, and they're now owned by the same company that owns Genesis.
However, for a Kadence optimized theme, I 100% recommend Restored316 designs.
Restored316 has a huge collection of beautiful, well-coded child themes for Kadence. My current child theme is their Create theme. I absolutely love it. The customization options are endless and it's insanely fast. And, with Restored316, you really don't need to use much (if any) coding to maintain it – their themes are so easy to use!
Once you purchase your child theme, installation instructions should be provided by the designer – they're a little bit different from company to company. You'll usually download a zipped file with your theme and upload it to the “themes” area (where you downloaded Kadence), but check with your designer for more detailed instructions.
6. Add Wordpress plugins that will make your life so much easier.
One of the big reasons I made the switch to Wordpress was the vast (and I do mean vast) collection of plugins that adds just about any functionality you can think of to your site. You name it, and there's probably a plugin for it. I have been blown away by the number of super simple plugins that took hours of work off of maintaining my blog!
Here are a few of my absolute favorites…
- WP Recipe Maker: This plugin allows you to construct beautiful and printable recipe cards for your blog posts. Highly recommend if you're a food/recipe blogger! (Click here to see an example on my blog.)
- Wordfence: This is a security plugin that protects your site from malware that can infect your files and from hacking attempts. I get an email every time there is a login attempt on my Wordpress account and often have emails letting me know about ways to optimize my site.
- Pretty Links: This allows you to format commonly-used links within your domain. So, for example, I can link to my long siteground affiliate link as “https://www.lambertslately.com/siteground”…it still links to their site, but just makes that link really pretty and customized to my own site instead of one ugly, long link. (NOTE: I've had issues in the past with my SSL certificate redirecting pretty links, so I took them off for awhile. As long as you don't have any security certificate issues, you probably won't run into this!)
- Akismet: A very easy plugin that wards off spam comments (which you will get tons of)!
- Asset CleanUp: If you have a lot of slow-loading plugins on your site, you might want to consider this one. It allows you to turn off certain plugins from loading on certain pages. For example, I'm able to turn Woocommerce (my store builder) off on blog post pages since they don't need that function. This helps your site run faster, which makes it more SEO-friendly.
- Yoast SEO: You will grow to love and hate this plugin. 🙂 This shows you where you can improve in the SEO and readability department…it's super picky, but that's a good thing! It also allows you to customize how your page looks in Google search results and adds a sitemap to your blog (an essential for Google ranking).
- Woocommerce: This part of blogging might come a little later for you, but if you're planning on selling products on your blog, this is how to set up your storefront. (You can see mine here.)
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights: Easily add your Google Analytics info so you can track your page hits and trends. (More on this in step 10.) Google Analytics is the gold standard for website analytics…you will absolutely need it if you're going to be blogging professionally!
- WP Rocket: In my opinion, this is an essential plug-in. This helps user experience, load time, and can help your Google SEO rankings. It makes your site load much faster…good for user experience and SEO!
With all of this being said, don't bog down your blog with plugins! They can significantly decrease the load speed of your blog, so use sparingly. Make sure you disable/delete plugins that aren't being used…if you need to install a plugin just long enough to use it, that's fine.
7. Start your email list on a solid platform. (Yes, now.)
I held off on starting my email list for the longest time, and it's one of my biggest regrets in my blogging career. By holding off, I missed out on a golden opportunity to convert so many one-time visits into dedicated, long-term readers. I can honestly say that my email list is my most effective (and by far my most profitable) method of networking with readers.
I have used Convertkit as my email service for almost 7 years now. It is an incredibly powerful and innovative platform that allows me to segment email subscribers by interests, send out multiple automated follow-ups and email series, and even test out email titles on a segment of my audience before sending the most effective one to the whole group automatically. I love its ability to send email sequences with very little babysitting. I'm also using the Convertkit plugin on my blog to customize my opt in forms to the type of post I'm writing…check out how this post has a blogging-specific opt in at the bottom!
If you'd like to check out Convertkit for yourself, click here! You can now try the service for free when under 300 subscribers. They have a very reasonable pricing structure that allows you to pay based on your number of subscribers and offer a ton of functionality that you will love as a blogger.
8. Set up social media accounts.
From the beginning, start social media accounts that can promote your content and connect with readers. I've chosen to keep my social media handle consistent across all four big platforms – you'll find me at @LambertsLately on Facebook, Pinterest, Tik Tok, and Instagram (I do have Twitter, but it's not really a huge traffic driver for me, so I don't use it often). Using your blog url, in my opinion, is the easiest way to let readers find you. Some bloggers opt to go with an iteration of their real name (to gain more name recognition on social media than blog recognition). That's really a personal choice and depends on your goals. Either way, I recommend keeping it consistent and not having different versions of the same name if possible. For example, you wouldn't want one account to be @lambertslately and another to be @lamberts_lately. Be consistent!
9. Set up your custom email address.
Both hosts I discussed above allow you to set up an email address with your domain name ([email protected]). It's very easy with both!
Once you're logged in to your Siteground account, go to the “Websites” tab at the top, choose the button that says “Site Tools,” and you'll see the screen above. Click Email Accounts.
This screen will come up. All you'll do is put in a simple name, along with a password for your email, and that's it! I went with “leslie” as my email name, but some people like to do something more general like “hello” or “info.” I wouldn't recommend admin, it is probably the most attempted hack of my site. Again, the email is really just personal preference, but I do recommend making it simple.
10. Take care of security and SEO basics.
It is so important to make sure your blog has a backup system. Not only do you want to protect your site from hacks, but sometimes you have to protect your site from you. 😂 I've had to do a site backup restore after messing up my code before. It happens! You just need to make sure you're protected.
With both of the Bigscoots and Siteground plans I discussed, daily backups are included in your service. Just make sure you confirm that they're working in your dashboard (both hosts have a support chat option if you're unsure). If you go with a host that doesn't provide daily backups, UpdraftPlus is a great plugin for site backups; this is what I used before my host offered backup service. I uploaded to AWS each month, and I think it was like 50 cents a month…very reasonable.
Sadly, there are a lot of hackers on the internet that are constantly trying to get into your site. It's just part of owning a website. It's not difficult to protect against them – I use Wordfence and Cloudflare, both free services, to get really solid protection.
Wordfence is simply a free plugin you install on your blog. It monitors login attempts, scans for malware, and adds firewall rules to your site. Cloudflare is a little different – it's a content delivery network that is kind of a go-between for your host and your site. It takes the site access attempts, makes sure they're safe, then sends them to your host to load your site. It's great for site speed too since it's able to deliver your content from lots of different servers around the world. Cloudflare is free to use (but has paid options for things like site speed). If you're starting out in blogging, Cloudflare is a must!
If you're focusing on using search engine optimization (SEO, which I really recommend doing from the very beginning), you'll want to register for a Google Search Central account. Just go here to register (it's fine to use under a personal email address if that's what you already have with Google), then add your site. This will allow you to use the Google Search Console, which shows where your posts are ranking in Google and any page performance issues you might want to fix.
From there, I'd also recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin. Not only does it give you tips for optimizing each post (I use it literally every time I write a post), but it will install and maintain a sitemap for your blog. This is the page that lets Google know what pages it needs to look for on your blog…very important to have this!
If you are concerned with how many visitors you get, you'll need to track the number of visitors you get, right? Google Analytics is by far the most popular analytics tracker out there. There's not even a close second place. Register for a Google Analytics account here. From there, you can simply install the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin to link your GA account to your site.
If you're concerned about SEO, you absolutely should also be concerned with site speed when figuring out how to start a blog. It's actually a huge factor in SEO. Site speed is the main reason I switched my theme from Genesis to Kadence. It's also caused me to give my site customizations and plugins a good, hard look.
Here are a few things you can do to optimize your site speed:
- Make sure you have a solid theme and child theme. (I am really happy with Kadence and my Restored316 child theme.)
- Keep the plugins on your site to a minimum. If it's not something that helps your site run more efficiently or greatly improves the functionality of your blog, ditch it!
- Skip the fancy fonts. It might be tempting because they're oh-so-pretty, but stay away from Google fonts of fonts that are installed on your site. They're data drainers. Instead, go with a font that you typically find on most computers. (I'm using Arial and Arial Bold site-wide. Yes, they're boring, but what's the point of writing a pretty blog if nobody ever sees it?)
- Keep your image files small. A good rule of thumb I've heard is to keep optimized images less than 150px. An easy way to do this is to make sure the images you're uploading are no more than 2100 pixels. There will rarely be a time on a website you'll need an image larger than that. I use a service called ShortPixel to auto-optimize my images. It takes the images, sends them to their CDN (content delivery network, a faster way of loading files), takes the quality down without really changing the quality of the image to the human eye, and makes them the proper size for your blog. It's amazing!
Page Speed Tests
If you want to see what your site speed is looking like, you can use websites to test. I use GTMetrix and Pagespeed Insights to test my site. They both provide a score for different metrics and give you ways you can optimize the site. Pagespeed Insights is Google's product, so pay close attention to those metrics (both Core Web Vitals and Performance). That's how Google is seeing your page, which is really important in the SEO world!
And that's it! You have a self-hosted Wordpress blog…congratulations!
Can you believe you learned how to start a blog that quickly? You just gave your blog so much functionality and power (not to mention rock-solid coding). Enjoy your new self-hosted Wordpress blog!
Alright, I know how to start a blog. Now, how the heck do I make money from it?
Well, luckily for you, I have a few resources that detail how to do just that! These posts are a few years old now. I need to update them soon (on my to do list), but most of the content still applies. Click the links below to go to each one of the posts in my Basics of Blog Monetization series.
- The Basics of Blog Monetization: An Introduction
- The Basics of Blog Monetization: Using Ads on Your Blog
- The Basics of Blog Monetization: Using Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog
- The Basics of Blog Monetization: Creating Sponsored Content
- The Basics of Blog Monetization: Selling Your Own Product(s)
I also have a comprehensive post of my favorite blogging resources I use to make my job easier on a daily basis- click here for that one. You can also click here or use the form below to sign up for my email newsletter to get a peek at how I use this powerful method of communication with blog readers!
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I hope this post showed you how to start a blog the easy way. It really is simple if you follow these steps.
Happy blogging, friends!
Disclaimer: By following this guide to how to start a blog, I am not suggesting you're going to make a huge profit, especially immediately. Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme – it takes a lot of work and perseverance! My results aren't typical, but could be possible through a lot of hard work (and maybe even a little bit of luck).
Images from a previous version of my how to start a blog post…
GET AN EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT MY BLOGGING BUSINESS!
Sign up here to get my monthly blogging newsletter. This email includes a peek at my blogging income, blog stats, and successes/failures from the month! Grow your blogging business with me!