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How To Start A Blog

& Turn Your Blog Into A Business

Page Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2016


intro and why I created this free guide


In 2011 I moved 4,400 miles away from my home in New York to Budapest, Hungary. This decision would change my life, forever.

It was also the year I launched this blog, JordanFried.com.

Through this blog I've been able to help over 30,000 people purchase a VPN service to protect their privacy, unblock services like US Netflix, Pandora, BBC iPlayer & bypass geographic censorship around the world.

In the process this blog has helped me earn a passive side income, eventually quit my job, and years later, with the help of some friends, start a VPN service called Buffered VPN.

Today, Buffered VPN serves thousands of users from more than 130 countries around the world and it's amazing to know that this trajectory would have never been possible if I didn't start a blog back in 2011.

In the first part of this post I will teach you how even a non-technical person like me can start a blog. We'll start with how to setup the blog, how to publish your first post, how to setup Google Analytics & track your blog traffic, how to setup a mailing list for your blog, and even how to optimize your site and make some money from it.

In part two we'll discuss how to turn your blog into a business.


And now the free guide "How to Start A Blog"


Jordan has been featured on

Why you'll love this free guide on how to start a blog.

I made it for beginners

I cover a lot of points below but even if you're non-technical person (like me) you won't have any trouble following along.

This guide is updated.

Other "How To Start A Blog" guides are outdated. I update this guide several times per month. 

WordPress Focused.

WordPress is by far the best CMS for setting up your new blog. This guide will focus exclusively on it.

I'm here to help.

I'm available to you for technical help via email or twitter. Just let me know what I can help with.

This guide has three quick steps

Step One: Picking The Right Platform

Step two: Picking the domain name

Step three: Setup & Customizing Your Blog

Step 1: Choosing The Right Platform


Choosing the right platform for your blog is extremely important. You have several choices when it comes to a blog CMS (content management system). 

Back in the earlier days of the internet, websites were typically programmed with HTML and CSS. Creating a website was difficult if you weren't a developer.

These days, creating your own website or blog is much easier thanks to easy to use Content Management Systems like WordPress.

The Most Popular Blogging Platforms 2016

WordPress

58.9%

Joomla

6.1%

Drupal

4.9%

Data Source: https://w3techs.com/

As you can see from the data I collected, more than half of all websites created are built using WordPress as the CMS. 

Why WordPress is Better

Simply put, there is no better or easier way to build a website or blog in 2016. But in case you're not yet convinced, here's my top 3 reasons to use WordPress:

Reason #1: WordPress is 100% Free & Easy to use.

No joke. WordPress doesn't cost a penny. It's an open-source project meaning there are hundreds of people from all over the world working on the platform.

The history of Wordpress is interesting. What you need to know is that there's a huge community supporting the project and there's lots of great themes to use. 

WordPress is also extremely easy to use. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can already write and publish a blog post. 

Reason #2: Easy Setup & Very Customizable

WordPress can be installed in most cases by just clicking one button. I'll show you more about what I mean in just a minute.

Doing something custom like "adding a form" or "adding social share buttons" is as easy as adding a plugin to your website. 

There are literally tens of thousands of themes to choose from and all of them are very easy to customize to your liking.

Reason #3: For Big & Small sites. WordPress Scales Very Well 

The other day I spoke with the people who run DigitalTrends.com. They have over 30 million unique visitors per month and they're built on WordPress.

WordPress is used by eBay, Microsoft, Google Ventures, NASA, TechCrunch, BestBuy, and many more.​

I even built this site, JordanFried.com on WordPress. Here are some screenshots of the homepage and what a blog page looks like.​

Homepage

Blog page

Personally I like black & white minimalist design. We have a much more colorful and interactive design with our Company WordPress site. 

Buffered.com is a custom designed company site partially built with Wordpress.

You certainly don't have to use WordPress if you don't want to. However, I do feel WordPress is the best option for beginners and for advanced developers.

In step two I'll walk you through the process of choosing your domain name and setting up your web hosting which is where we'll install wordpress

In step three I'll show you some simple & advanced tips for customizing your wordpress website so it looks amazing.

If you have any questions at all, I'm here to help. Just visit the contact page here and let me know what I can do to assist you.

Step 2: Find A Domain Name & Host


Before you can setup your new blog we have to do two things:

  •  You'll want to choose the domain name you'd like for your site.
  •  We'll setup your web host which will connects your site to the internet.

As I mentioned earlier, the wordpress platform is free. Domain names normally cost $9.99 I can get you one for free though so don't worry about that.

Web hosting is not free but don't worry, it costs less than a cup of coffee, normally around $3 - $5 per month. 

Owning your domain name is important and looks much more professional than something like www.YourWebsite.My-Really-Long-Website.com

Also, using your own web host will make sure that your website loads quickly for your visitors all over the world. 

Where do I get a domain & hosting?

I personally use www.BlueHost.com for registering domain names and hosting my blogs, websites, and business pages.

Their web hosting is the most affordable I've found, just $3.49 per month. That's literally cheaper than a Starbucks Coffee and you're next meal. 

Of course you don't have to use BlueHost just because I use it. You could try to host your site by yourself but it's a very technical process and time consuming.

Save  yourself the time and money and get yourself a proper web host. You'll also get a profession email address like you@yourdomain.com - much more professional than gmail or yahoo mail. 

P.S. If you already have a domain name and hosting, then skip ahead to step three where I talk about how to customize your new WordPress blog. 

What Kind of Domain Name You Should Pick

Are you looking to create a personal blog or a business blog? 

For a personal site I highly recommend buying YourName.com. This is a fun and professional way to start branding yourself through your blog.

For a business blog or site your should ​buy YourCompanyName.com. Your company domain name should match the name of your company.


Jordan's Best Domain Name Advice


Tip #1 - Avoid newer and less common TLD's. TLD stands for "Top Level Domain" like .com, .org, .net. These are the most common

Tip #2 - Avoid using a "dash" mark in your URL. Jordan-Fried.com isn't as cool as JordanFried.com. It will also get less clicks in search engine results.

Tip #3 - Pick a brandable name. Your domain name should be easy to share & remember. It doesn't have to make sense (Google, Amazon, Yahoo for example) But it should be memorable.

Tip #4 - Don't get frustrated, over 100 million domain names have already been purchased. A domain name is like internet real estate. Spend some time and purchase one or several names you like. 

These Are Your Next Steps:

Go ahead and purchase your domain name & hosting from Bluehost.com. In the next steps I'll walk you through setting up WordPress in Bluehost.

Move on to step three we'll cover the follow:

  • ​How to customize & personalize your WordPress site
  • How to setup Google Analytics & track your traffic
  • How to setup a mailing list for your blog
  • How to optimize your site and even make some money from it.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Blog


By now you should have purchased your hosting & received your free domain name from Bluehost.com. If you haven't done so, do it now. 

Now it's finally time to setup and install WordPress on your new domain.

Setting Up WordPress

Almost every worthwhile web host in 2016 offers 1-click-wordpress-installation, including Bluehost.com. ​

  • 1. Log in to your Bluehost account.
  • 2. Go to your control panel.
  • 3. Click the “WordPress” icon.
  • 4. Select your domain name where you'll install WordPress.
  • 5. Click the “Install Now” button.

That's it! Installation only takes a few minutes and you will now be able to access your new WordPress site.

Manual installation is also possible but it's not necessary if you're using Bluehost. You can learn more about manually installing WordPress here

Choosing a Theme & Blog Template Design

Now that Wordpress is installed, the fun can begin. WordPress is easy to use and once you know where everything is, you can create beautiful websites.  

The default WordPress theme is called "Twenty Sixteen" named after the year. It looks like the image below and scales perfectly on tablets and mobile phones.

Of course you want to stand out from the crowd, don't you? This is why you're going to want to pick a theme that's right for you and customize it. Here's a sample template below

There are tens of thousands of WordPress templates available for literally every kind of website or business. Customizing the template is the fun part. 

How to find a blog theme

You have a couple options for finding and setting up the theme on your blog. 

1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard.

Simply go to http://YourSite.com/wp-admin (of course replace YourSite.com with your actual domain name. Your dashboard will look like this:

WordPress has a very friendly and easy to understand user interface. Don't worry though, I'll point out the main features that you need to know about. 

2. How To Access Free WordPress Themes

The dashboard by default gives you access to over 1,000 free blog themes. You can find them by navigating to "Appearance" in the sidebar and clicking "Themes."

If you want something more "corporate" or "elegant" looking you can go check out ThemeForest.net or WooThemes.com for paid themes.

There's really no reason for you to go and pay for a WordPress theme. There's so many free themes available that are already professional looking. 

There's so many free WordPress themes to choose from.


Jordan's Best WP Theme Advice


Mobile traffic from tablets and phones is increasing. Make sure you pick a WordPress theme that's responsive, meaning it scales on all screens.

3. Installing your new blog theme

Installing your new blog theme is easy. Just click "install" and then click "activate" which will make your new theme live.

Just click "install" followed by "activate"

It's important to note: Changing your theme will not cause you to lose previous posts, pages, comments, or uploaded media. You can also change your theme as many times as you'd like without worry about losing data. 

How you add blog posts and new pages

Now that you've got your theme installed you're ready to publish content. 

Adding and editing pages

If you want to an "about" page or "contact me" page similar to what I've done in my top menu, here's what you need to do.

In the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard you'll see Pages -> Add New.

After clicking Add New you'll see a screen that looks a lot like word editors you might already be familiar with. Simply add your content, images, and enter whatever you'd like. When you're finished save it and click Publish

Adding pages to the menu

If you want the page you've just created to show up in your menu / navigation bar you'll want to create a menu.

  1. First save your page and any changes by click "update."
  2. Click "appearance" in the side bar and then "menus."
  3. Find the page you just created and click "add to menu."

If you want the page you've just created to show up in your menu / navigation bar you'll want to create a menu.

Adding and editing posts

If you're planning on doing some blogging, you'll want to add "posts" instead of pages. Post = blog post. You can use categories to group your post.

With you categories you can go as general as "blog" or as specific as "posts about my dog." 

You can add a new category by going to Posts -> Categories.

You can also add a new category by going to Posts -> Add New. Once you're done writing you can add a category right from the post edit page. 

Customizing Your Blog

In this section we're going to quickly cover the most asked WordPress customization questions that will help you finalize your blog setup. 

Setting Your Blog's Title & Tagline

Below you'll see a screenshot of Settings -> General where you can quickly add a Site Title and a Site Tagline. 

Your Site Title should be the name of your site. For example for my site it's simply JordanFried.com

Your site tagline should be something unique and descriptive about your site. Mine is "How To Start A Blog & Turn Your Blog Into A Business."

Disabling blog comments

Another one of the most common questions I've been asked is how to disable comments on posts. WordPress added this feature in discussion settings.

Simply navigate to Settings -> Discussion and uncheck the box "Allow people to post comments on new articles."

To shut off comments on a page simply hit "screen options" in the top right hand corner of a page you're editing. Click "Discussion" and you'll see the "Allow Comments" option. Uncheck the box if you'd like to disable comments.

Setting a static homepage

This means that instead of seeing your most recent posts on the homepage, you'll see a custom page like what I've done here at JordanFried.com.

Setting this up is easy. Go to Settings -> Reading.

Select a custom home page you've created at the front page.

You'll also want to select a place where posts will show up, under posts page. This will be the URL of your latest posts. 

Customizing your blog sidebar

You can customize the sidebar of your site to look however you'd like. Click Appearance -> Widgets. You'll find available widgets here.

Using this panel is super easy as adding a new widget involves dragging and dropping it where you'd like it. Refresh you're live site and you'll see the changes. 

You probably want to remove things like categories, archives, meta, and you might want to add some custom HTML or a search bar. 

What you need to know about Plugins

In this section we're going to talk about when of the most important features of WordPress... the ability to add plugins. 

What is a plugin?

Simply put "Plugins" are extensions of WordPress that help you expand the capabilities of your site. You can use plugins to add new features and tools.

A plugin is typically a really useful tool you'll want to use to get the most out of your site and the best part is you don't have to build this feature yourself.

There are plugins to help you build a contact form, plugins to help you accept credits, plugins that can turn your site into an online store, and much more. 

How do I install a new plugin?

Since you've already installed your theme, you already know how to install a plugin. It's basically the same process.

Simply navigate to Plugins -> Add New in the side bar. Search for the plugin you're looking for.

It can be pretty hard to know which WordPress plugins are good and which ones are outdated. WPMU put together this guide called "37 Essential WordPress Plugins" which is pretty good. Also "Top 100 WP Plugins."

You can also just go straight for the "top rated" plugins on WordPress. Check those plugins out here.


Jordan's "Must Have" WP Plugins


  •  #1 XML Sitemaps - This plugin makes it super easy for Google's robots to craw your website and index it properly in Google. It's a must have. 
  •  #2 Yoast SEO - If you want your site to be SEO friendly this is another must have plugin. You'll be able to control your meta descriptions, title tags, and how your site looks in search results. 
  •  #3 Google Analytics - this makes installing and setting up Google Analytics super easy. Track and watch your traffic grow as you build. 
  •  #4 Contact Form 7 - I love this plugin. I have it setup on my about page. It's a great feature to have people fill out the form and get in touch. I've met some incredible people through this blog thanks to this plugin. 

Congrats. Be proud - You're ready! 

By now you should have a built and functional WordPress website. Not so hard, right? You can officially call yourself a website owner.

Of course you're never really "done" and there's no perfect website. I'm constantly tweaking and improving my websites, and so should you.

WordPress is a highly advanced and customizable CMS that can be fully tweaked and customized to fit your needs. I've been playing with it for almost 10 years and I'm still learning.

If you have any questions, please contact me through my about page. 

If you found this guide useful it would really mean a lot to me if you shared this page. It's very motivating for me to know this information helped you.

Cheers,


BONUS: How To Turn Your Blog Into A Business

Believe it or not, blogging is a big business. There are many people and companies making absolute fortunes from their WordPress sites.

I personally know several self-made millionaires who made their money from WordPress websites. 

As I mentioned in the introduction of this post, I credit my own entrepreneurial success to blogging as well. 

Before we started Buffered VPN I spent several years as a VPN Affiliate, blogging about how I was using a VPN to unblock websites like Netflix and getting paid by VPN services for referring customers. 

It was only after I built up a fair amount of traffic, and started making a fair amount of money, that I even considered building and eventually launching our own VPN service, Buffered VPN. 

As an entrepreneur I learned that sales & marketing are the life-blood of every business. If you can't acquire customers quickly, you won't survive long. 

If you too are an aspiring entrepreneur, my best advice to you is focus on attracting web traffic and customers through your blog before investing in building your product.

Doing this effectively will mean you don't need to raise money, you wont give up control of your business, and have the freedom to execute your vision.

Doing this effectively will mean you don't need to raise money, you wont give up control of your business, and have the freedom to execute your vision.

I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors and I'm here to help if I can.