Want to learn how to start a blog without breaking the bank? In this post, we’ll show you how to create a blog for just ~$60 for your entire first year (that’s only ~$5 per month if you don’t have a calculator handy).

We’ll cover everything from picking the right blogging platform to customizing your blog, adding new functionality, getting some visitors, and more.

Let’s dig in so that you can start blogging today:

Best way to start a blog (spoiler – it’s on WordPress)

There are a lot of different platforms out there that can help you with how to start a blog. There are free websites like Medium and WordPress.com, as well as paid options like Squarespace and Wix.

Out of all of those tools, though, we recommend self-hosted WordPress. This tool – available at WordPress.org – is different than WordPress.com.

The upshot is that by hosting the free WordPress.org software on your own server, you get a much more flexible platform that will let you create a blog that perfectly matches your needs.

Another benefit is that the WordPress software is free and open source, which makes it super affordable. You’ll only need to pay for web hosting and a domain name, which can cost you as little as $60 for an entire year.

An overview of how to start a blog with WordPress

Here’s a high-level look at the steps that you’ll need to take to get started with self-hosted WordPress:

  • Choose your domain name
  • Sign up for web hosting (we recommend Bluehost)
  • Install WordPress
  • Choose a theme to customize how your blog looks
  • Install plugins to add functionality to your blog
  • Add content

🤔 Step 0: Choose the right topic to blog about

If you’re reading a post about how to start a blog, you probably already have some ideas for what you want to write about.

And if you’re just doing this as a hobby – that might be all you need. Feel free to skip ahead and create your blog.

However…

If you want people to actually read your blog (and maybe even be able to make some money in the future), it pays to do some research on your topic before you jump into how to start a blog.

Basically, you want to make sure that other people are as interested in your topic as you are. To do that, you can:

  • Use free tools like KWFinder or Moz Keyword Explorer to see how many people search Google for key phrases related to your topic.
  • Check if there are already popular blogs in your niche. That’s “proof of concept” that there’s an audience for your topic.
  • Look on Facebook to see if there are popular communities built around your topic.

Once you have a topic that both you and other people are interested in, you’re ready to create a blog around that topic.

📛 Step 1: Choose a domain name

Your blog’s domain name is both its brand and its permanent address on the Internet – e.g. ours is justfreethemes.com.

When choosing your blog’s domain name, you’ll want to keep some factors in mind:

  • Brandability – go for something that’s easy to remember and brandable.
  • Clarity – try to avoid hyphens, numbers, and other characters that complicate your domain name. Basically, you want to make it so that if you speak your domain out loud, people will know exactly what it is rather than trying to guess if you meant “four” or “4”.
  • Relevant – if possible, you want your domain name to give visitors an idea of what your blog is about.

To check whether a domain name is available and get some domain name suggestions, you can use a blog name generator like Domain Wheel.

ℹ️ Don’t buy the domain just yet. Just check what’s available. The buying we’ll handle in the next step.

💻 Step 2: Purchase your web hosting and domain name

Hosting is what powers your blog and makes it accessible to people on the Internet.

There are a ton of good-quality hosts out there, but we recommend Bluehost to first-time bloggers because:

  • It’s cheap – you’ll only pay ~$60 for your entire first year
  • You get a free domain name as part of the signup process
  • They make it super easy to install WordPress
  • It’s officially recommended by WordPress.org

To get started, head to Bluehost and sign up for a plan (the Basic plan is fine at the beginning).

As you go through the signup process, you’ll need to:

  • Choose your free domain name
  • Enter basic account details
  • Choose what services you want
  • Enter your payment information

In the package information section, Bluehost will suggest some added services. Feel free to uncheck those – you don’t need them to create a blog.

In total, the entire first year should cost you just $59.40:

Bluehost price for first year

Other affordable hosting options for a WordPress blog include:

  • SiteGround – great support and starts at just $3.95 per month.
  • DreamHost – the cheapest option, starting at just $2.59 per month.
  • Namecheap – another cheap option, starting at just $2.88 per month.

⚙️ Step 3: Install WordPress

Next, you need to install the WordPress software at your web hosting.

Bluehost makes this super simple.

When you sign into your Bluehost account for the first time, Bluehost will give you a simple setup wizard that will help you install WordPress and set up basics for your site.

All you need to do is fill in the information – no technical knowledge required:

How to start a blog at Bluehost

Once you finish the setup, you can log in to your WordPress site’s administrator dashboard by going to your_domain_name.com/wp-admin. It’ll look something like this:

The WordPress dashboard.

🎨 Step 4: Choose and install your WordPress theme

Your WordPress “theme” controls how your blog looks to the outside world. Think of it kind of like your blog’s “clothing” – you can always change clothing to change your look, but new clothes don’t affect who you are as a person (AKA changing themes won’t delete your blog’s content).

There are thousands of free and premium themes to choose from. But given that our site is named JustFreeThemes, you can probably guess that we like the free ones!

If you head to the JustFreeThemes homepage, you can search the 1,000+ free themes in our database, and we’ve also collected the 10 best free WordPress themes.

To save some time, you can consider the two free themes below:

 
 
Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can install it by going to Appearance → Themes → Add New.

🔌 Step 5: Install some plugins

Whereas themes are mostly about appearances, plugins are more focused on adding functionality.

You can find plugins for pretty much everything, from little tweaks like adding a contact form to big changes like securing your blog or even adding e-commerce functionality.

While you might have your own features that you’d like to add, there are some must-have plugins that all blogs need. All of these plugins are free- you won’t need to pay a thing to benefit from them:

  • Yoast SEO – helps your content rank high in Google searches.
  • WPForms – adds a contact form to your site.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – lets you view statistics to learn more about your website’s visitors and your most popular content.
  • Cache Enabler – makes your blog load way faster.
  • Optimole – automatically optimizes your site’s images, which is another way to make your blog load faster.
  • Plugins for adding social media share buttons to make it easy for people to share your blog posts on social media. Here’s a separate list of the top options.

You can also find lots of other free WordPress plugins at WordPress.org.

To install a new plugin, go to Plugins → Add New in your WordPress dashboard.

✍️ Step 6: Write your first blog post (and other core pages)

At this point, you’re ready to start creating some content.

There are two types of content you can create:

  • Posts – these are blog posts. Each one has a publish date and they show up in order – newest first.
  • Pages – these are static content with no publish date. You use pages for stuff like “About Me”, “Contact”, “Privacy Policy”, etc.

To create some content, you go to Posts → Add New (or Pages → Add New).

Then, you can use the WordPress block editor to add text, upload images, embed videos, and more:

WordPress block editor

Once you Publish your content, visitors will be able to see it when they go to your site.

🏎️ Step 7: Start getting visitors to your blog

Speaking of visitors…you probably learned how to start a blog because you want to build an audience.

So…how can you do that?

Well, marketing your blog is a topic that requires a whole post of its own, but we will list some of the most common strategies and then link you out to some quality blog posts that go into more detail.

Here are some great ways to get traffic to your blog:

  • Search engine optimization – by applying some basic techniques, you can greatly increase the chances that your blog posts rank high in Google’s search results.
  • Social media – creating a good social media strategy will help you generate traffic from social networks.
  • Guest posting – write a blog post for someone else’s blog to get access to their established audience. Here’s how to do it.

💰 Step 8: Consider monetizing your blog

Once you have some traffic, it’s natural to consider ways to start generating some side income from that traffic.

There are a lot of ways to make money from a blog, but here are some of the most relevant for bloggers:

  • Affiliate marketing – you promote other people’s products in exchange for a commission.
  • Display ads (e.g. AdSense) – you automatically display ads using a service like AdSense, Media.net, or others.
  • Sponsored posts – receive payment in exchange for creating a post (just make sure to disclose that the post is sponsored).
  • Direct ad sales – rather than using a network, you can sell ads directly to advertisers. It’s a little more work, but the payout can be higher.

🏁 Recap: How to start a blog with WordPress

With self-hosted WordPress, learning how to start a blog is something anyone can do. To begin, you’ll need to:

  1. 📛 Choose a domain name
  2. 💻 Purchase hosting
  3. ⚙️ Install the WordPress software

Then, once you have WordPress installed, you can:

  1. 🎨 Select a theme
  2. 🔌 Install some plugins
  3. ✍️ Create content
  4. 🏎️ Get some traffic
  5. 💰 Make money from your blog

And that’s how to start a blog – enjoy!

💡 If you prefer a more tangible resource, we have an entire PDF ebook on the topic of how to start a blog, step by step. It’s a free download – click right here.
* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a small fee. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no cost on your part.