Setting up a blog is one thing that holds back a lot of would-be online marketers from ever starting out.
It sounds daunting.
And most assume that they have to know the coding language in order to design their blog.
The second thing that stops many in their tracks is the assumption that building a website is expensive. I used to think so too.
But I’ve since discovered that nothing is further from the truth.
Before we go any further, let me make something clear.
For your full knowledge:
Some links in this article are affiliate links. I may get a small commission if you choose to click on and purchase from them. But that comes at no extra cost to you.
My main aim with this article is to teach you how to build your own functional site and get your business up and running.
As effortlessly as possible.
And for the lowest cost ever.
Let’s get started.
How to set up a blog
Setting up a blog requires several things: a content management system, hosting, a domain name, a theme, and some plugins
Let’s review each of the elements below.
Content management system
This is the system or platform upon which all your site’s ingredients are based.
The Content Management System is itself also a website builder system that enables you to build your website without need for coding
Several content management systems exist: Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Squarespace, Wix, TYPO3, WordPress, and several others.
Of these, WordPress is the most popular. This is because of its user-friendly features and adaptation for use by inexperienced users
For the reason that it’s beginner friendly, this tutorial will focus on building a website on WordPress
The space in the web where your website and its information will be stored.
Hosting is provided by different companies including Siteground, Bluehost WPEngine, Hostgator, and many others.
After you have purchased your hosting, you will need to install WordPress. This will allow your website to run on the WordPress content management system we talked of earlier.
Don’t worry, the WordPress installation is free and requires only a few clicks!
This is the name which your site will go by.
The name depends on you.
For example, it can be your own name, something related to your niche ( e.g. weightlosstips.com), or just about anything you want.
A theme dictates the outlook, design, or basic structure of your website.
Thousands of themes exist. For example there are themes specifically for food blogs, photography blogs, magazines, and so on.
WordPress comes with quite a few free themes. However free themes almost always come with limited adaptability, responsiveness, and functionality
You want a theme that you can customize according to your blog’s style and demands
Plugins are software extras that add extra, specific functionalities to the site
Such functionalities include: lead capture, related posts sidebar, search engine optimization, image optimization, website security, and more.
Here are free plugins that I recommend you start with right away: Sucuri Security, Yoast SEO, WP Forms Lite, W3 Total Cache, and Smush.
Ok, that’s about it with the basic components of a website.
Most of you reading this are probably asking yourself how much you will need to start a blog.
I guess that’s what it all boils down to. You gotta know what you are getting into!
How To Set Up Your Blog The Cheapest Way
The first things you are going to need in setting up your blog are: the domain name, hosting, and installation of wordpress.
The process works in this way: 1. Get hosting. 2. Get your domain name 3. Install wordpress
Domain names can be purchased from a variety of companies. Generally companies that provide hosting will also provide a domain name.
Such companies include Godaddy, Namecheap, Siteground, Hostgator, and Bluehost.
It is advisable to get your domain name and hosting from a well established and reputable company.
In that way, you are assured of their support, if need be, in setting up your website.
Usually a domain name would cost you something between $10-15 per year.
For the package that I recommend you wont need to buy a domain name elsewhere. You get both in one place and are good to go.
As indicated before, a domain name can be anything you want. You can choose to have a domain name related to your niche .
For example if you are in the weightloss subniche, you may name your site bestweightlosstips.com.
You may also choose to have a personal brand domain name.
In that case, your website can go by your name, for example, neyyzzerr.com.
I recommend Bluehost for your domain name and hosting.
Their plan is quite reasonable and cheap. With it also you will get the domain name free.
Bluehost is a reputable company that has been there from way back.
And because of its popularity, the majority of websites run on Bluehost hosting.
Bluehost also provide highly responsive support, so you can contact them any time you are having problems with your site
The hosting will also come with free SSL certificate, a major component of the security and trustiworthiness of your site.
Now you know what you need to set up your site, let’s go over the process step by step.
You will start off by selecting your desired hosting plan
Since you are only starting, you can choose the basic plan. You will upgrade your plan as your business grows.
Next you will create a desired domain name
You can start off getting both the domain name and hosting here
After getting your hosting and domain name, your login account will be created.
The final step is to login to your account and install wordpress.
As mentioned earlier, WordPress is the content management system on which your site will be built.
Here is how to install wordpress.
First log in to your hosting account. You should have received your login details through email.
Click the “Install WordPress” icon
Select the “do it yourself” version and click the “Install” button.
Input the domain name you have already created and click the “Check Domain” button.
The last steps will be acknowledging Bluehost’s terms of service and completing the install process.
Click the “Install Now” button.
Congrats! Your website is now functional.
You have now created your site.
However, to get your site into the look that you want and that visitors will easily navigate, you need to add a few tweaks.
Here are a few things to start with
Customizing your new site
You access your website either through your hosting account or through a link sent to your email.
At this point, it is important to note that a website has two points of entry: the back end and the front end.
What you see when you first log in to your site is the back end. That is, you are not seeing it from the visitor’s perspective. Only you, the admin, can access the back end.
The back end is where you work behind the scenes to give your website the look that you want.
On the other hand, the front end is what the visitors see: the posts, comments, and images.
To start customizing your site, do the following:
Choose a theme
To give your website a good design, look, and functionality, choose a theme.
Go to Appearance, click themes, and browse through the themes.
You will be presented with many themes. The themes suit different categories of blogs.
As said before, there are themes best suited to photography, online stores, food, fashion, and so on.
Before activating a theme you can preview the theme and see how your website will look like.
To preview, click the preview button. If you are satisfied with the theme, then go ahead and click on “activate”.
Activating the theme means that your site will run on that theme. So be sure it’s the theme you want.
In any case, you can always go back and deactivate the theme and activate another preferred one. However that may mean loss of important changes to your site.
As indicated before, if you want a blog that is adapatble and responsive, a premium theme is recommended.
A premium theme will enable you to have a fully functional site, and prevent having to go back and make many changes later on.
There are many companies from which you can get good and adaptable premium themes.
You can choose from multiple premium themes of your choice in Thrive Themes.
Getting a premium theme is as simple as choosing your desired theme, downloading it, then uploading it to your site from your downloads folder.
Remember to activate the theme once you have uploaded it to your site.
Get to know the two ends of your blog
First, you need to see how your fledgling website looks like to an actual visitor who comes to your homepage.
Visit your homepage
Hover over the title of your website in the top left corner of the site. You’ll see the phrase “visit site” appearing.
Click on it and you’ll be taken to the front end
This is how your website home page looks like in real fact to a visitor!
The “home” page indicated near the top left corner contains links to all the categories or posts and pages on your site.
In the above picture, “Recent Posts” is a category under which all the recent posts will show. Similarly, all recent comments will appear under the “Recent Comments” link.
That’s it with the homepage.
Now to see how a post you have written will appear like to a visitor, go back to the upper left corner of your site.
Click “dashboard” and you will be taken again to the back end of your site.
On the left part of your dashboard, go to “Posts”, click on it, and then click on a sample post in the list that comes up.
You will be redirected to a new tab that shows the sample post
In the image above, “Hello World” is the title of the sample post.
The sentence starting with “Welcome to wordpress” is an example of the words in the body of a post.
The “About the author” section will include all the relevant information about you as the author, once you have updated your personal info.
Comments by visitors will appear at the bottom of the post. In the above image a comment has been left by “A wordpress commenter.”
Let’s look at other components of the front end
Major Components Of The Front End
As said before, the front end is how your website looks like from the visitor’s standpoint. It’s where you visitor reads your pages or posts.
The front end is divided into what is called sidebars. The major sidebars are the left and right sidebars.
Sidebars mean nothing more than sections which border the main area of your content.
Therefore the left and right sidebars border the post on the left and right respectively.
Sidebars can also be placed below the header or just above the footer.
Most websites place recent posts or adverts on the right sidebar. The left sidebar is where social sharing buttons are usually placed.
Most of the time, the left sidebar is however left unpopulated.
Here is an example of a website’s front end and its sidebars.
The blue section is the post itself, whereas the red part is a sidebar featuring an image which is in actual fact a link to another post
At the top of the page is the header.
For a new site, there are no items showing on the header. Usually this space is for showing the main menu or main parts of the website like the site name and main menu
3. The Footer
You can also choose what appears in the footer. Some bloggers show a “menu” on the footer.
Ok, we have talked about the front end. Let’s now revisit the backend
Major Components Of The Back End
To access widgets, go to “Appearance”, and go to “Widgets”
Widgets are the building blocks of your website.
They are represented as boxes.
In real fact widgets represent or code for certain components of the website. These components include certain posts, pages, menus, gallery, etc
After you have clicked on widgets, you will notice that there are 2 columns of building blocks/boxes, one on the right, and the other on the left.
You need to understand that building your website is achieved through moving and merging together the widgets through a drag and drop mechanism.
In simple words, you have to click on a certain box, in the left column (shown as “Available Widgets” above) and drag it to a desired sidebar, on the right column, depending on what you want to achieve on the front end of your site.
If you want to remove a certain functionality, you remove a box from a column on the right, back to the left column.
For example, if you want your recent posts to appear on the right sidebar, you will proceed by dragging the “recent posts” box to the “right sidebar” area.
You will be able to see this effect when you open any blog post after performing the action.
Your most recent posts will appear in the sidebar on the right.
2. Posts and pages
Posts are the articles you write and publish on a regular basis. They are usually targeted at achieving a particular marketing objective.
For example, “how to do email marketing like a shaolin master” is a post.
Pages on the other hand refer to static articles on your site.
They are usually meant to tell people about yourself and your site’s services.
For example, “About Me”, “Contact Us”, and “Tools” are all pages.
A menu comprises of buttons which represent links to broad sections/categories of our website’s components (e.g. home, blog, about, contact pages).
You can create menus and direct where they will appear on your site.
Most themes will allow you to create 2 menus, the main menu and one other of your choice. You can have the second menu as the footer menu.
The main menu is usually for all the posts and pages of your blog, accordingly divided into the different categories of your choice.
You can create the different menus under the menus widget.
When you create a menu, you name it, and it will appear as such in the place you want it to be.
You will also need to specify the components that you want to appear in the menu, as well as the desired location of the menu.
For example, in creating the main menu, go to Appearance, and then Menus. You can also go directly to Menus depending on your theme.
Click on create menu, then name it “main menu”, select the location as “main menu”, and click save menu.
This menu will be empty and will not show on the front end until you have added the particular makeup pages or categories.
You can add the pages and categories on the “Add menu items” tab by ticking the relevant boxes.
Remember to click “Create menu” after doing everything.
Categories are groups of similarities.
So your posts will be categorized on your blog according to the similarities of your choice.
Examples of categories are: email marketing, traffic, SEO, etc. Following this example, the “email marketing” category will contain all posts on email marketing.
You can create categories for your posts by going to “posts” then clicking categories, then “create a category”.
After doing so, you would want your categories to appear under the main menu. So you will then go to menus, then main menu, , then click on the categories button inside there.
In categories, click the “view all” tab.
A list of the post and page categories you have already created will appear. Note that If you have not created any categories, nothing will appear.
Select all the categories you want in the menu, and click “add to menu”.
Remember to click “save menu” after you are done.
If you click “visit site” on the top left corner, you will see your header menu now complete with the menu categories you have just created.
Settings dictate the rules on which your site will function overall.
You get to input settings for language, user roles, date format, the site title, an so on.
Familiarize yourself with the settings and set them to the defaults that you want.
The media gallery is where every photo, video, slide etc, will be stored when you add it to your website
You can add your media to the gallery and then you can upload and add them to any post from there.
Once in the gallery, media can be used over and over again without needing to upload them again from the computer drive.
Well, so far you have added a theme, moved widgets around, and created the design you want. Good!
Remember you can always come back to the back end and thereby affect your site’s design continually.
Let’s now get onto how you can create your first post and let people know you exist.
Writing your first draft blog post
The process of writing a blog post is pretty simple.
Go to “posts” on your dashboard, click “New”, and a blank screen will appear. You can write out your post draft here
Here are the basics for writing your first post:
1. Make an outline first
Write in bullet form the main points that represent the headings and subheadings of your paragraphs.
The bullet points provide guidance, coherence, and flow to your post.
2. Flesh in the details
Expand every bullet point by adding paragraphs that deal with each subtopic
3. Add media to your post
You need pictures, screenshots, videos etc, to illustrate your points and guide your readers
Go over your post slowly.
See where you can make corrections.
Check your spelling and grammar
Also see if there is a need for rearrangement of paragraphs.
It’s time to let the world see what you have written.
Hit the publish button and you are done.
If you are not ready to publish the post yet, you can save it as a draft and publish it at a later date.
Before writing your first post however, I recommend that you learn the basics of how to actually write a good post, optimizing your posts and site, and attracting plenty of visitors.
Wrapping it all up
Setting up a blog is not a difficult thing.
You need a domain name and hosting to have your site set up. You also need to install WordPress onto your site.
Once your website is set up, you need to understand the major components of a website and how they fit together.
That way you can customize your site according to your wants. Its a process that can be done in a relatively short time.
To see how your new blog looks like to a visitor, you can write a draft post and preview it, or click on a sample post.
I hope this article was helpful to you.
Leave me your thoughts below