How To Start A Blog

If you're here, you've probably wanted to create a blog or website for a while now. You're ready, or almost ready, to take the plunge. On this page, I'm going to take you through how to start your own WordPress blog on a Managed WordPress account hosted with 1&1 Ionos.

This page contains affiliate links. Using these links to purchase products and services will generate a very small commission for me but won't change the price that you pay. You don't have to use these links but doing so would help me continue to grow this publication.

Why Create a Blog?

I had to create a blog during my MBA coursework. We had a required course in personal branding, and blogging was a big part of that course.

It's weird that I was forced into blogging. I've been a writer my entire adult life. I've worked as a technical writer, journalist, creative writer, corporate communicator, and content marketer. I have an MFA degree in writing.

I won't promise you'll make a lot of money immediately or even directly, like some other people do. It's possible, but it takes work like anything else. Blogs don't automatically make you money. I worked at blogging for years without ever trying to make a dime from it.

Still, here are several of the many reasons why you should create a blog:

  • Blogging has raised my professional skill level and my visibility.
  • It's taught me skills that I can charge, or charge more, for as an employee and as a freelancer.
  • Blogging gives you place to practice your writing craft and showcase your work. I think that writing is a core skill for any professional.
  • Having a publication that you control frees you from the brand, design, and content decisions of employers and clients when you're creating a portfolio.
  • A blog gives you something additional to promote on LinkedIn to build your network.
  • A blog shows that you're serious about going deeper in your skills and knowledge.
  • A blog builds your personal brand.

Why Create a Blog With WordPress?

There are easier ways to starta blog than with WordPress. Some of those easier ways are also free. But I'll explain why you should go with WordPress from the start.

You could start your blog with Medium or Wix or SquareSpace or even the website building tools offered by many hosting companies. Those are fine tools and can even build e-commerce sites. But their ease comes from their limitations. Very quickly you'll find that you're limited in what you can do.

On the other hand, WordPress offers tens of thousands of designs (called themes) and add-on applications (called plugins) to give you nearly limitless capabilities even if you're not a designer or programmer. Most of these are free or cost relatively little money.

WordPress is the most commonly used website content management system on the planet. Now, the internet is a big thing to measure. Not all the stats are going to match. But consider this roster of stats about WordPress. WordPress runs millions of websites in more than 50 languages. By some measures, it runs the majority of websites available today. Nearly 40 percent of e-commerce sites use WordPress, as well.

Employers and clients ask for WordPress by name. So far in my experience, anything you learn on WordPress is a transferable skill to other CMS if you need to.

It is supported by a large community of WordPress users, so there are plenty of people to learn from and a new network that you can tap into. The open source community provides many free tools and support. WordPress meetups happen around the world.

When you start with WordPress, you start with more than just software. It's a strong ecosystem and learning community.

WordPress is the most commonly used website content management system on the planet.

Why Start With a Paid, Hosted WordPress Account?

In my MBA personal branding class, we started with the free version of WordPress that is available at WordPress.com. Knowing what I know now after 7+ years of blogging personally and professionally, I wish we would have started with hosted and managed WordPress accounts that we paid for, for three reasons:

  • Paid version of WordPress gives you access to all those open-source templates.
  • Paid version allows you to use all the plugins that you don't get on the free version.
  • Employers and clients aren't looking for skills based on the free version of WordPress. They need people who can work on the full, paid version of WordPress.

Paying for hosted WordPress account is an investment in yourself, your skills, your networking, and your profession.

A hosted and managed WordPress means you don't have to worry about updating the core WordPress software or backing up your site or maintaining the software on your computer. That's taken care of for you in the cloud.

Why Use Hosting From 1&1 Ionos?

After using the free WordPress.com for a while, I discovered how limiting it was. I needed to move my free WordPress.com blogs to a paid version of WordPress so I could continue growing my blog and my skills.

A designer friend of mine recommended his hosting company, 1&1 Ionos. The company has been in business since 1988 and offering web hosting services in the US since 2003.

They're the largest internet hosting company in Europe and have a strong presence here in the US. They host 12 million domains around the world. 1&1 Ionos is rated a PCmag editor's choice. They are strong on security and cloud operations. It's part of United Internet, a publicly-traded German company that offers many brands of digital services around the world. Here in the United States, for instance, you might have seen Mail.com.

So, I learned how to move my free WordPress blogs to another, paid provider. I've been so happy I did, in terms of continued learning and also in expanded capabilities.

And now, I'll show you how you can get started.

1&1 Ionos hosts 12 million domains around the world.

Creating A Managed WordPress Blog on 1&1 Ionos

Pick a Domain Name

Your blog needs a unique domain name that captures the essence of your site. Here are some tips for picking a unique domain name.

  • Create a name that contains something that you want search engines like Google to recognize and that people will be searching for. If your site is about retirement planning or Weimaraner dogs, try to have retirement or Weimaraner in your domain name.
  • Lots of names are already taken. You can put a small word in front of what you want. Common words include best, top, my, get, go, and team.
  • Lots of domain names ending in .com are taken. But there are plenty of other endings available including .net, .biz, and .us.

If you need help finding if your idea is taken, use the 1&1 Ionos domain check.

Once you have a domain name that you like and is available, write down.

Buy Your Domain

Note that you aren't required to buy your domain name from your hosting company. But, in my experience, you should. Domain pricing is very competitive, so you're not going to save much by shopping around. And in the unlikely event that you ever have a hosting problem, it's easier to solve if the same company provides your website and your domain name.

  • Go to 1&1 Ionos.
  • Click on Hosting and choose WordPress Hosting.
  • Under the Essential package, click Continue. This package will be all you need to start, and you can upgrade later if you need. You're getting a domain and a hosting package. That's why your cart shows two items.
  • Put in the domain name you've selected, just to doublecheck.
  • Add to cart. Skip the additional domains. Click Continue.
  • On the next page, skip the additional offers. Click Proceed without offer.
  • The next page is your cart. Click Continue.

Create Your 1&1 Ionos Account

The next page is where you actually create your new account.

  • Click Create new account and fill out the account form. Keep this around or write it down. It's how you'll access your 1&1 Ionos account in the future. (I recommend using a password manager like LastPass.)
  • Click Continue to Payment options.
  • Fill in your payment information. You can pay by Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, PayPal.
  • Continue to order review.
  • Make note of your personal phone PIN for support. You can create your open pin by clicking on Create New Pin.
  • Click Order Now.

Set Up Your Site

  • On the Thank You page, click Get Started. You may have to wait a moment while your account is set up.
  • You'll receive emails to the address you provided. Including request to confirm your email address. Open that message and click Confirm.
  • You'll receive another email saying your domain was successfully registered. Open it.
  • Click Set Up Domain.
  • On the next page, you're give a choice of how to create your website. In the WordPress box, click Get Started.
  • Give your website a title. This can be different than your domain name. Don't worry, you can change this later in WordPress if you want.
  • Click Create Website.
  • Next, you'll create an administrative account. Specify a username for the account. Doesn't have to be an email address. Give it a password and pick your Interface language, likely English. Read and accept the Terms of Use.
  • Click Continue.
  • On the next page, click Continue with Managed WordPress. Wait a minute.

Design Your Site

  • Click Edit Website link.
  • Enter the admin username and password you just created.
  • On the welcome screen, Click Let's Go to set up your site.
  • Pick a type of site you want on the left. I'd pick blog. Then click on the sample design that looks like what you want. Here you're picking a theme. A theme in WordPress is like a template in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. It's a pre-built design that you can modify. You can always change your theme later and there are plenty of free themes to choose from. (This is the whole magic of websites: content and format are separate. You can change one without messing with the other.) Pick something with a fairly simple layout to begin with. Complicated layouts require a lot of content to look good, and you won't have a lot of content on your blog or site to start.
  • Now your site is ready to go. You're placed into the Theme Customization area of WordPress. Here you can change photos, colors, and other configurations. Mess around if you want, but don't spend too much time here at the moment. When you're ready, click the X in the upper left corner to exit the Theme Customization area.

Learn Your Way Around as an Administrator

  • In the upper left corner, click on your site's title and select dashboard. The Dashboard is where you administer your site and create new content. Lots of functionality. Here are the main things you'll need.
    • Posts: This is the area where you create and manage posts for your blog. We'll get to edit a blog post in the following section.
    • Pages: This area is where you create and manage static pages. Those pages might be your homepage, your About page, or your Contact Me page.
    • Media Library: Store you images, videos, and documents in the library and then include them in your posts and pages.
    • Plug-ins: These are the apps that extend WordPress's core functionality and one of the main reasons you're starting with a hosted and managed WordPress account.
    • Appearance > Widgets: These are content items that you can add to predefined parts of pages like the footer at the bottom of this page or the sidebar that runs alongside blog posts.
    • Appearance > Menus: Here is where you build and manage the navigation menus for your blog site.

Edit a Blog Post

  • Click on Posts and choose All Posts. You should see a post titled Hello World!
  • Hover over the post title and click Edit.
  • Here you'll be introduced to the block editor for blog posts. You'll get some tips. Read and click through them.
  • Click on the Hello World title and edit the content.
  • Click on the text underneath it and edit the content.
  • When you done, click Update in the upper left corner.
  • You've now edited your first blog!

You've Done It!
Take A Break and
Log Out for Now

There. You've done it and you've done a lot. You're over the biggest hurdle—actually starting your blog. Now, you're on your way.

Click on your name in the upper right corner and choose Log Out.

FAQ

I've got so much to learn, so many questions. Where do I go?

There are lots of places to start. Since WordPress is a big community of open-source software, there are plenty of places to get help. Here are a few places to help you on your way.

What Does it Really Take to be a Blogger?

Blogging surveys show that it takes about five hours to write a quality blog post of ~1,000 words, complete with images and search engine optimization.  You could do five hours a day, a week, or a month.

I like to split my writing efforts up between these big, meaty, strategic content posts of ~1,000 words plus shorter, easier, opportunistic posts. Not every topic or post needs to be ~1,000 words. Readers don't always have time for longer posts, either.

How Do I Keep Blogging Without Running Out of Things to Say?

You need to build a content strategy to sustain your publishing. A good strategy helps you generate topics to cover and provides overall structure for your blog.

Check out my video on content strategy. It's from my consulting business, but I think that the principles shown in the video apply to personal blogs as well.

Where Do I Find Good, Free Photos for My Blog?

The internet is full of free visual content to help you create your blog. Not just photos, but illustrations and videos, too.

To start, check out my listing of free photo sites.

Read this post about easy, free photo editing.

How Will People Find My Blog?

There are lots of ways that you can help people find your blog.

You can tell them in person, in email, and on your social media accounts.

Also, I recommend that you install the Yoast for SEO plugin and learn some simple search engine optimization. It'll make a big difference in new people finding your blog.

What If I Have A Blog at WordPress.com or Another Site and Want to Move It to 1&1 Ionos?

Moving existing blogs is a bit beyond the scope of this page. However, you can get an idea about how to do it by reading my article on how I moved my blogs.

You should probably also contact 1&1 Ionos support and talk with them.