How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Blueprint for Success

David Utke •  Updated: March 2, 2024 •  Blogging

So you want to learn how to start a blog. Not just a casual personal blog, but a blog that makes money, with the potential to allow you to become a professional blogger.

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through each step of the way on how to get started blogging the right way. Let’s be honest, most advice is dated or is from a blogger who started a decade ago. In this guide I’ll show you what works. It’s not complicated and anyone of reasonable intelligence who’s serious can do it.

First, can a blog really make money? Yes! Words, images and video all put together can become a very valuable and profitable asset:

A great example is my ESL (teaching English abroad) blog back in 2017 and within 2 years grew it into a $30,000 per year income source from Amazon Associates and Google AdSense.

Given the right content and audience, a high traffic blog can make money.

It’s simple, but not easy. Let’s get started.

How To Start a Blog Step By Step With WordPress

This “how to start a blog with WordPress” tutorial will cover a variety of topics you need to understand in order to build a successful blog using your own hosting account and installation of WordPress.

I’ll show you how to design your blog and what type of content you should publish so you can get search traffic. With traffic and attention you can then make sales of products you’ve created or products you’re promoting as an affiliate, grow your email list, run advertisements and get social shares to expand your reach.

Let’s get started creating a blog with WordPress:

Choose your blogging topic

Before you launch, you do need first plan out the topic for your blog. Start a blog on a topic you have authority to write about, a topic where you can provide value and solve problems for other people.

Here is how you pick a blog topic:

1 – What are your skills? What do you know how to do that other people don’t know? What do people ask you for help with or advice on?

2 – What can you talk about and write about effortlessly? For a blog, you should confidently be able to write 100+ topic ideas.

3 – How will you make money? What do people pay for in your topic? You need to have a monetization strategy beyond just advertising.

4 – Are you interested in starting a long term project on this topic? You don’t need to be an expert, but you need to be a step above your audience and willing to learn. This also helps with content creation.

5 – What is your content angle? Does your topic have a lot of questions to answer as well as low competition phrase you could rank for quickly? How is your blog going to be different or better?

6 – Are there similar sites on your potential topic? You want competition. Where there is competition there is money to be made. Ideally you want to find smaller sites as with larger website you’ll need a budget to compete.

7 – Are there high traffic, high value keywords? Low hanging fruit is fine, but if you want to make money you need to rank for competitive topics that get traffic and can be monetized with affiliate marketing, ads and so forth.

Get a domain name and hosting account

Once you have your topic decided on, we need to create a blog so we can start blogging.

For this we will get a domain name, a web host and then install WordPress in three simple steps.

  1. Register a domain name.
  2. Buy web hosting.
  3. Install WordPress.

You can’t have a blog without a web host or a domain name. A web host manages powerful servers that hosts all your websites files and makes your site live and available on the internet.

A domain name is the web address of your website. It is comprised of two parts, the actual name, and the extension. Extensions are the .com, .net, .org, .co part of a domain name.

I strongly suggest you get a .com extension if this is your first website. The .com extension is for commercial websites and the most valuable extension.

I currently use and highly recommend WPX Hosting.

WPX Hosting is my current web host. They are a managed WordPress host (meaning they specialize in WordPress only) and have an easy to use interface, outstanding customer support and excellent hosting speeds for your website.

You get with your hosting account:

WPX Hosting

My current host. They are a managed WordPress host that provides fast hosting, superior tech support and staging for design work.

WPX Hosting Plans

I suggest the WPX Business plan. It provides more than enough resources for a website in excess of 100,000 visitors and you can have up to 5 websites on your account.

Last, you can always upgrade your account if needed.

wpx pricing

Once you select “buy now” for the Business plan you’ll need to register a domain name:

The domain name you register will be the “primary” domain name on the account. WPX hosting provides free WHOIS protection and domain names will cost you roughly $13 a year for a .com extension.

Next, you’ll need to select your server location:

This is why WPX is such an excellent host, you can select where you want your files to be store so you that your website loads as fast as possible for your visitors base on what audience you’re targeting. United States, Europe or Australia/Asia.

Finally, purchase your hosting account with either a credit card or your PayPal account.

Install WordPress

Once you have your account setup, you’ll want to navigate to “manage websites” in your dashboard. You’ll see your “main” or primary domain name here.

Click on “manage WP” for your website and then click on “install WordPress on website.”

Then you’ll be prompted to set your account details for your website:

Here you can set your admin user name and password. You need both these items in order to log into your website.

Once you’re ready, click “install WordPress” and wait for the installation to finish.

How To Log Into Your WordPress

Once the installation for WordPress with WPX Hosting is finished, to log into your website you’ll need to navigate to This is how everyone with a self hosted WordPress installation logs into their website.

From here use your username or email address and password that you set during the installation process.

Verify your SSL certificate is working correctly

With WPX, you get a free SSL certificate installed on your website automatically. That means you should see a little “lock” icon in your web browser. If not, contact WPX support and they will assist you.

Welcome to WordPress.

WPX Hosting

My current host. They are a managed WordPress host that provides fast hosting, superior tech support and staging for design work.

Why Do I Recommend WordPress?

WordPress is open source, easy and free to install on any shared hosting account, it is feature rich with the ability to create any type of website (not just a blog) from an ecommerce site, to a blog or even a membership website.

Here are WordPress’s main selling points:

Easy to use. Creating content, adding products, pages, images, videos and links to your website is so easy with WordPress. WordPress is used by some of the biggest brands in the world like CNN and the BBC to manage their content publishing.

Total control over your blog. WordPress comes with some excellent tools so anyone can learn how to use to create a beautiful website. WordPress themes make designing your website the way YOU want an easy and fun process.

Excellent support community. WordPress is has a thriving community so you can always get help and advice for any aspect of your blog.

WordPress is secure. It’s constantly updated and supported so you never have to worry about running software that is out of date.

Great SEO – WordPress can be setup with ease for proper SEO. There are also countless SEO tutorials you can follow and all assume you’re using WordPress.

We are not using

In this tutorial, we are installing WordPress on a shared hosting account, we are not using which is a the website builder version of WordPress that combines hosting and CMS as a service.

Blog design and inspiration

What will my blog look like?

For a blog, there are a few layouts that work (check out my post on successful blog examples).

The blogroll

The blogroll simply means to use your blog archive page as the homepage. This layout shows your latest posts first and the rest of the posts in chronological order.

This setup is good because it allows readers to find your latest content very easily. It’s weak though on introducing people to what your site is about.

If you lack design skills or your website does not have a lot of content, then go with the blog roll layout. If your strategy is strictly to build out a site that has blog posts that rank for keywords and you don’t intend on doing any sort of email marketing, then the blog roll layout is for you.

If you lack design skills or your website does not have a lot of content, then go with the blog roll layout.

Visual Menu

A visual menu homepage layout works because you show the best in class content you have for different, relevant categories.

This is helpful for the end visitor to find content they are looking for and to be introduced to a wide variety of topics.

You can also consider adding in a call to action to subscribe to an email list at the top and bottom of the homepage as a way to build out a very effective homepage.

Sales page

The sales page layout means you focus your homepage on one clear call to action. Usually a free offer like an email list or a free product or service.

You design the homepage to sell the visitor on why they should take action on your specific call to action.

The end goal being to convert traffic to your homepage to whatever it is you’re offering (email list, low priced product, service).

How to create a homepage with WordPress

I would start a blog using the blogroll layout. Once I have published 10 pieces of content, I would then create a dedicated homepage. In order to do that first create two pages with WordPress. I would call one page “home” and the other page “blog.”

Next go to “settings” in your WordPress dashboard and click on reading.

Here is where you can set your a page for the homepage and another page for the posts page.

Your next task is to design the homepage. We have numerous video tutorials on how to design a blog. Checkout our TwentyTwenty theme tutorial on YouTube.

Permalinks are the URL structure of your blog post. In WordPress you have a few different options:

/Post-Name – Perfect for smaller sites that are never going to have more than 50 pages of content.

/Category/Post-Name – Perfect for large websites that will have 1000+ pages of content and multiple categories.

/Date/Post-Name – Perfect for time sensitive content like news.

/blog/Post-Name – Best URL structure for most websites. Go with this one in most instances.

Let’s change it to something more helpful and logical. Here’s how to change it:

Settings >>> permalinks

For most blogs, the ideal URL structure is this to have /post-name type setup. Simply click on custom structure and set your permalinks as follows:


It helps give a nice structure for search engines and it helps separate blog posts from pages and affiliate links.

If you want to nerd out and learn more about the why, read the best permalink structure guide.

Install a WordPress Theme

Themes are frameworks you can install to easily design your website. Themes can be a broad, general purpose theme with multiple layout built in or they can be specifically designed for a singular purpose. Theme for WordPress are either free or premium.

When you’re in your WordPress dashboard, go to appearance, then “themes” and then click on “add new.” Here you will see a wide variety of free themes you can install. Don’t forget that you can also filter by most popular and most downloaded as a way to narrow down your search.

Free themes:

Click on the theme you want to install. It will be downloaded and installed right from the WordPress directory. Make sure to click “activate” to make it go live.

Premium Themes

These are themes you have to buy. They are not listed in the free WordPress directory. You buy them from a theme design shop. To install a premium theme:

Go to appearance, themes, add new then you have to UPLOAD the theme you just bought and downloaded.

Choose the ZIP file you want to install (your theme) and then click “install now” to install the theme.

Leave it as a zip file after downloading it. You can only upload compressed ZIP files.

In the WordPress community there are a few premium themes that are currently the most popular. Most themes incorporate some type of block or drag and drop editing.

No theme is best.

Themes are just tools. Pick a premium theme and learn it. Then you’ll be able to design whatever you want.

Astra – The Astra theme is the most downloaded theme for WordPress. The free version is feature rich and allows you to easily create a blog or website. You can also use the Astra Sites plugin to download pre-made websites (free and paid).

DIVI – DIVI is one of the most popular themes in the world. It has a front end page builder allowing you to have a lot of control over the look and feel of your website.

Avada Theme – This is the best selling theme on Theme Forest. It’s a theme that comes with the ability to customize various aspects of your theme however you want as well as coming with different templates you can download and use.

Hello Theme – Made to work with the pro version of the Elementor plugin, this theme is a “blank slate” plugin that allows you total control and flexibility over your website.

To view the current most popular free themes simply navigate to “appearance” then “themes” and sort by popular.

Essential WordPress Plugins

A plugin is a a piece of software that acts as an extension for WordPress, giving it new features and functions. There are thousands of plugins you can install. What plugins you install is dependent upon what you need.

You can install plugins that add social share buttons, affiliate link management, contact forms and so much more. To add a plugin to your website is a simple process. Simply navigate to plugins and then click add new.

The most essential plugins for any WordPress blog are:

Checkout my list of essential WordPress plugins.

Rank Math

Rank Math is an on-page SEO plugin. That means that by installing this plugin you have the ability to adjust the meta description for your blog posts and pages.

This is important when creating content that is targeting a keyword phrase you wish to rank for as you can now “optimize” your content to have the best chance of ranking.

With it you can give an dedicated SEO title, a meta description, you can enable breadcrumbs on your website and Rank Math will give you an overall score as to how well optimize your content is for a specific keyword.

Smush – Image optimization

Smush It is a WordPress plugin that compresses your images upon upload to your website. It reduces the file size and thus makes your website load faster.

While you should be using a .webp image format whenever possible sometimes you’ll need to upload .jpeg or .png files. This plugin is very helpful and making your website load quickly.

W3 Total Cache – Makes your site load more quickly

W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your website by increasing the performance of how quickly your website loads while reducing load times for different aspects of your website.

A cache plugin is a must have for all blogs. Your website needs to load as quickly as possible and that’s exactly what this plugin helps to accomplish.

WP Rocket is a paid alternative that is much better, but to get started W3 Total Cache is sufficent.

How to write a blog post correctly

Writing content for a blog is not the same as a paper for school. There are a few things you need to know.


When writing a blog post title make sure it has a searchable keyword or phrase in it. Like if I was tying to rank a post for “best cheap headphones” I would make sure to have “best cheap headphones” in the title of the blog post.

I would also add something extra on it to make it more click worthy. Something like “best cheap headphones for introverts” is a much more specific. Again though, related it your topic. If headphones and introverts makes no sense for your blog topic don’t publish irrelevant content.

Font size

For your blog post titles and your header tags you’ll want to choose a distinctive font. This helps style your blog and makes your content scannable.

For the body, choose a Google web safe font that’s readable. Also select a larger font size overall. Small text is difficult to read which has the opposite effect you want as a blogger.


Don’t make massive paragraphs too. No one wants to read a wall of text. Write 3-4 sentences then hit that enter button. This helps reader retention, time on site and again makes for a easier, more enjoyable reading experience.

It’s also fine to have an orphan sentence like this one.

Pictures and video

Every blog post should have at least a feature image. Within the content only select images if they help to demonstrate something. Never choose an image for decoration purposes.

Don’t steal pictures! You can find many places to get free, high quality pictures by checking out this page that is part of our resources. If possible, try to upload images in a .webp format as that format is light and fast.

Videos should be used in the same way, to demonstrate something. Even better if it’s your own videos.

Inter-link your own content and link to other websites regularly. You can and should go back into older blog posts and link to newer content when it makes sense.

Also link out to other websites as it helps build credibility with your own blog post. A piece of content that does not link out looks suspicious to a search engine.

Correct header tags

In online publishing, you can choose between H1 – H6 tags. You can select the tag you want to use here:

H1 is for the title of the page. The title you put here should already be marked as H1 by your theme. You should never use H1 for your actual content.

Next, use H2 for your main topics, then H3 for sub topics and H4 for topics within the sub topic and so forth.

Tags are important because it tells search engines what’s important and it gives a logical structure that helps search engines understand you content but also make it much more easy for visitors to scan.

Check Your Grammar

No one is perfect but a lot of mistakes makes you look dumb and it turns people off from trusting you. Check and double check your writing.

Make sure your titles and meta are done correctly

With any SEO plugin you can change the way the title and meta description is presented to Google. Make sure to custom edit each SEO title and meta description.

Focus on providing, helpful and valuable content

Value is not copying other more popular websites. Value is being a small part of the solution for someone else. Maybe you create a piece of content, a buying guide or a tutorial that helps someone in some small way.

Your goal with content marketing with a blog is to be very helpful and to then elegantly convert your traffic into email sign-ups and customers.

Create content on topics people are actually searching for

Write what people actually want. You do this through keyword research. While you can create a post on something like “how to make your story shine through being authentically you” that’s not exactly something people are looking for.

So use tools like Keywords Everywhere, Google’s auto fill feature and aHrefs to find topics people are searching for. Then, think about the point of your blog posts. Some will be aimed at making affiliate sales, some will be more for growing your email list and others are a good fit for display ads.

Build a Brand

Brands stay on topic and become the trusted authority in a given area. A good blog should be a brand and that brand should have relevant, related content. Google and your readers want to box you in. A website with content about travel, finance, dating is all over the place.

You’ll struggle to rank and built authority on a given topic because Google wants to rank and index brands, a blog about multiple, unrelated topics is not an authority.

How blogs make money (6 Ways)

A high traffic blog can make money in a wide variety of ways.


You can apply to ad networks once your blog is getting enough traffic. Ad networks are a fantastic option for content that has no clear and specific offer.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is when you promote a companies product or service and get a commission on the sale. Affiliate marketing is very lucrative with the right traffic, but only works once your blog content that is transactional in nature is getting traffic.

Sell your own products

You can sell your own products, be it ebooks, Kindle books, online courses or a white labeled physical product. Low priced products positioned at the bottom of a blog post that are relevant sell.

More expensive products need a sales funnel. Selling your own products is one of the most profitable ways to monetize a blog.

Email list growth

Using a blog to grow an email list that you can then help out with useful content, products and services is an underrated way to monetize a blog. An email list is an asset you own and a good way to stay in touch with people who like and trust you.

Offer a service

You can offer a service through your blog. I direct visitors to my Fiverr gig page, but you could direct people to a coaching offer if you like. It really comes down to your topic and how you can be of service to your audience.

Community or membership offer

The last way is to create a recurring revenue stream through offering a community or membership offer. This can be something like a Patreon page, a Skool community or your own private membership website.

How to Start a Blog Conclusion

So that is it for my “how to start a blog with WordPress” beginners guide. When you’re ready, go ahead and sign up to WPX Hosting and get to work building your professional blog.

If you found it helpful make sure to share and bookmark this page as it’s constantly updated. Starting a blog is easier than ever and you should be up and running in a day.

Want to learn how to make money with a blog? Checkout my dedicated guide on how to make money blogging.

WPX Hosting

My current host. They are a managed WordPress host that provides fast hosting, superior tech support and staging for design work.

It's all my fault

Hey I'm David. I'm a blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated UX consultant on Fiverr. My writing, videos and courses have helped tens of thousands of people make their first 1$ online. I write this blog to show you the "how to" for turning knowledge into income so you can live life on your terms.