How to Start a Blog or Website in 2024

Lately, a lot of people have asked website specific questions so I wanted to share an overview of how to start a blog or website with you. Whether you want to make money from ads, share your business, or simply have a fun hobby, this outline will get you started with a website in about 1 workday’s time. And don’t worry, that sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. The logistics are my least favorite, but once you get these out of the way, you can begin creating— which is the fun part!

1. Planning Your Website

What type of site do you need? Determine the primary goal of your website. Do you want to start a blog and grow it to ad revenue? Are you starting a website to sell something like my sister, PaperbyJaney? Once you know what your goal is, you can choose which platform and layout is best for you.

Choose a Domain Name: Select a unique and relevant domain name for your website. Many of them are taken so when you have the idea, you will want to see if it’s available first. Try to leave out words like “a” or “the” and make it simple.

This one is so hard and where most people get held up for longer than necessary. I have had multiple domains and started in 2009 with EatDrinkBeWell.com. I couldn’t decide on a new one, so I went with my name temporarily. Overtime, the internet changed and the domain name is less important than it used to be so I have just kept it! Don’t overthink it, just get started!

Create 4 Pillars of Content: Outline the pages and content you need, such as home, about, contact, blog posts, products, services, etc. Every post you write should fall into a larger category. I know you want to do it all, same, but to gain traction, you need a more narrow approach. You can add more later when you have an online presence already established.

2. Set Up Your Hosting and Domain

Choose a Hosting Provider: Select a reliable hosting provider (e.g., Bluehost, SiteGround, DreamHost). I use SiteGround because I can host multiple websites for one fee each month.

Sign up here for $2.99 a month! I love that it is that cheap for the first year. That way, if you decide you don’t want a site after all, you haven’t lost a ton of money!

Register Your Domain: Often, hosting providers offer domain registration services. Before I get to far into planning, I always search Siteground to see if my domain idea is available. You can do this on any domain or hosting site. I once used GoDaddy (back in 2009 when there were fewer option) but later, I found that your domain can be purchased through your hosting provider (Siteground) and that helps keep them all in one place for ease of finding the information!

Install WordPress: Use the hosting provider’s tools to install WordPress. Siteground makes this super easy and you can just follow the prompts after you sign up and register your domain. Other hosting sites typically offer this as well.

3. Choose a Theme

Log In to WordPress Dashboard: Access the backend of your site (typically via `yourdomain.com/wp-admin`). You can usually do this through your hosting site as well, but I find it easier just to go straight to the site and log in.

Free Theme or Paid?

Paid. Hands Down. I know it seems like a lot of money up front, but there are some beautiful cheaper options. Long ago, these themes weren’t available and I spent too many hours trying to add code to my website. Now, it’s basically an upload that makes your site look professional from the very beginning. If you start with the free wordpress themes, no worries, just know that the more content you add, the more challenging it can be to change themes.

My favorite budget friendly option that I recommend for all beginners is 17th Avenue Designs. They are also super responsive and have wonderful tutorials that will allow you to set up your entire site! Setting up a site for the first time will take you a couple of hours, just be patient and work through the available tutorials on the 17th Avenue Site.

Now, I use Foodie Pro and if you are open to paying a higher cost annually, it is a great option. They send a lot of emails regarding updates and they recommend things to improve user experience. It has been good for a basic site while I focus on keywords and recipes. Foodie Pro is $249/year but you are locked in at that price if there are increases later on. You want to buy the plug in option, the theme only ($19) is good if you are brand new and starting out. You will see that most people recommend low cost starting out because most people don’t succeed at actually making money with blogs. Once you know you will stick with it and make money, you can upgrade your options.

The Foodie Pro tutorials are awesome and easy to follow and they will also recommend which other plugins to install in your WordPress account. A confusing part is that you will upload demo content if you don’t have enough of your own content. Once you have enough of your own content your site will look better, be patient. It looks rough in the beginning and I spent about a million hours changing the settings to try to make it prettier when all I really needed to do was actually post a recipe. It starts to look more cohesive when you actually have content so don’t spend too much time trying to figure that out before you have posts.

I really love the Restore 316 themes as well, but have not made the switch. The Homestead Theme is my favorite at the moment. It is pricey, but people absolutely love it!

4. Start Posting!

Now that all the logistics are in place, it’s time to actually write a post or recipe! Don’t worry about being perfect, you will get better over time. The more content you have, the better your chances of making money are.

SEO (search engine optimization) is something that I learned more about just last year. I have been blogging since 2009 and the type of blog style has changed so much over the years, but SEO will help you choose keywords and topics that people want to read. Your blog isn’t about you- it’s about your reader. Back in the day, you could post about what you ate all day and people cared…now the landscape is different and people want to know what you are offering them. I started using RankIQ to help with keywords and I recommend it if you are able to put in some monthly money. It can be confusing at first, but instead of learning how to do SEO, you can save time by using RankIQ to find your keywords!

I have absolutely loved having a blog and I hope this tutorial helps if you want to make blogging work for you! I took Lisa’s course Create Your Blog Dream in 2021 just to make sure I had all the things I needed and would recommend it for beginners. She is realistic and walks you through the exact steps. Plus, if you buy the course, there is a Facebook group I’ll see you in!

Next up, you’ll want to know how to monetize, but first things first! Get your website up and running and come back for more information on next steps! Be sure to subscribe here so you know when our website and blog updates are live!

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