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When I first this website, it took me hours. No scrap that, possibly days, months and even years to get it right. Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know how.
But it hasn’t gone completely to waste. Inspired by Emma Drew’s book “How to make a profitable blog in 90 days”, I decided to create some new websites and put all that knowledge to good use.
What happened after that was that I started to build several new websites. I learnt how to build them quickly to the point where it take me less than a day from start to finish to build a basis for a profitable blog.
Within this post, I am going to talk about how you can do it too. With all the technical details as well as juicy hints and tips to make your life easier.
What you decided to do with this blog, after this is up to you. There are lots of avenues and I am going to explore them in later blog posts. Let’s get started.
Choose your domain name
The first step you need to take is deciding what your web address is going to be. This is the bit that you would type into the address bar at the top to get to your site.
Your name is important. It needs to give people an idea of who you are and what you do. It also needs to be available. That means that no one else is using it already.
My favourite place to buy domain names is Namecheap. Because they are cheap. There are other options but honestly, they are all much the same.
Getting the name right is important. I would avoid using anything other than .co.uk or .com at the end (unless you live in a different country where it is acceptable). So steer clear of strange alternatives like .london or .xyz even if they are super cheap.
Pay for that and then you can leave it, while we go and sort out some hosting. Don’t buy this with Namecheap as you can get better deals and a better service elsewhere.
Get your hosting
Next you need somewhere to park your website. This is called hosting. It is the platform on which you build your website and it is the most expensive bit. Don’t worry, it’s not super expensive.
I recommend Siteground. I’ve been using them for years and are always able to get me out of a complete pickle when I’ve tinkered with my site too much.
You want web hosting, not WordPress hosting or any of the others. You’ll be using WordPress, but you don’t need managed WordPress hosting.
Once you’ve clicked through to that, you will see three levels of packages. Start up, GrowBig and GoGeek. You will need to pick from one of the first two. The main difference between them is that with GrowBig you can add on more websites later. Decide if that is important to you.
On the next page, you will need to click the “I already have a domain” and type in the name of the website that you have just bought.
You’ll then need to enter your personal and payment details. This will purchase your hosting and give you access to the tools to build your website.
Setup your website and email
From your Siteground tools menu, you will be asked if you want to set up a new website or migrate an existing one. We are creating a new website.
You will then be asked about which application you would like to install. We are going to install WordPress. You’ll need to create some login in details. Write these down as you will need them later.
WordPress is the platform that you will work with to build your website. You will work within WordPress to customise the appearance of your website and to upload your content.
Siteground will ask if you want SG Site Scanner. You don’t. So click Finish instead. It will then spend a couple of minutes setting up your site.
Sorting out your nameservers
You will then need to let your domain know where to go. Siteground will provide you with something called nameservers and we will need to head over to Namecheap to enter these in.
Open up your Namecheap account. Go to Account then Dashboard and you should see your new domain name in the list. Click on the Manage button on the right.
There are four tabs along the top and you need to make sure that you are in the Domain section. Then look for the section called Nameservers.
Next to this is a drop-down menu, select from this Custom DNS and underneath two boxes should appear.
Head back to Siteground and copy the first one into the first box on Namecheap and repeat for the second. Make sure you save on Namecheap by clicking on the tiny green tick.
After this head back to Siteground and click Manage Site. It can take up to 24 hours for the nameservers to start working properly, but I’ve never had it take more than a couple of minutes.
Setting up an email address
From within the site tools on Siteground, you will see an email tab. This is where you can create an email address to go with your website.
I recommend going for something like hello@ or yourfirstname@ to keep it simple. You will also need to choose a password for your account too.
Within the email section of the Site Tools on Siteground, you can also set up an email forwarder. This is perfect if you don’t want to deal with multiple email addresses or inboxes. You can do this under Email, then Forwarders.
Choosing a theme
At this point you are ready to start building your website. In the address bar on your browser, type in your domain name, followed by /wp-admin/. For example, this could be www.myblogname.com/wp-admin/.
This will bring up a log in box and you will need to enter those details that you wrote down earlier, when you were asked to install WordPress.
Once you are logged in, you will be guided through a setup system. First up, you need to choose a theme. I recommend one called Personal Blog (Free). It is simple to use and has lots of design options.
You will also be shown a recommended plugin called Elementor. You DO NOT need this, so unselect it.
It will then show you some more plugins that it thinks you might need. You don’t need Contact Form so unselect that. But I DO recommend Jetpack.
The next page has more. Choose only Optimise for SEO from this page. Then you can click complete and it will install those options for you. Then click Go to Dashboard.
Create a logo
This is when it gets fun and you get to apply your creativity to the website. We are going to start by designing a logo.
You could pay someone to design your logo for you. Fiverr is a great place to find a graphic designer at a reasonable price, but it may not be the cheapest solution.
Personally, I recommend using Canva. There is a free version of this site which is brilliant, but the paid-for version is incredible. You can get a free 30 day trial of it too, so you can access all the pro features for free. Just remember to download everything you need before the trial ends if you are planning to cancel it.
You will need to create two versions of your logo for your website. One will be a rectangular header and the other a square.
On Canva’s homepage, click the button in the top right-hand corner that says Create a Design. A dropdown menu will appear, then click Custom Dimensions.
For the header you will need to go for 2000 x 1200 px, if you selected the theme I recommended earlier. For the square logo, 500 x 500 px will be enough.
From here, you just need to play around and get creative. Try to keep your logo simple and clean looking. Stick to 2 or 3 colours, as we will use these across the whole website.
It is worth writing down the final colours that you end up using in your logo, so that you can match up your theme colours accurately. In Canva, if you hover over the colour it will show you a # followed by a combination of 6 numbers and letters. This is what you need.
Designing your website
Now is the time to improve the aesthetics of your website. This can easily consume a lot of time, so try to keep it simple. Your website doesn’t need to be perfect from day one, but there is no reason why it can’t be functional and look good.
Plugins to install
Plugins are extra bits of code that allow you to do different things to your website. We need some of these for your website to function properly, but we don’t want to install unnecessarily.
First up, I want you to go to Plugins on the left-hand side of the Dashboard and click Installed Plugins. This will give you a list of all your currently installed Plugins.
You will need to deactivate and then uninstall WordPress Importer and WordPress Starter. Don’t worry nothing bad will happen.
Then click on the Add New button at the top. Type the following Plugins into the search bar and install and activate:
- Akismet Anti-spam
- FMTC Affiliate Disclosure
- GDPR Cookie Consent
- Insert Headers and Footers
- Ninja Forms
- Pretty Links
- Sassy Social Shares
I’m not going to explain what each of them do in this article. But you will need them if you want to do this blogging thing properly.
Customising your website’s appearance
Next thing to do is to make your website look all pretty. Or at least make it look like a proper website.
To do this you need to click on Appearance and then Customise in the menu on the left-hand menu in WordPress. At this point, you will get a slightly different screen.
There are lots of things to tinker about with here. You can use those colour codes that you wrote down from Canva to match them up with your logo that you will upload.
You change the fonts and the layout of the website and it should all change on the screen as you go. Nothing will be live until you press publish, so you can always undo something to put it back.
When you are happy press Publish. You can always come back and tweak it later, so don’t worry if it is not perfect. This article is about getting your website up and running, not making the prettiest website ever.
Exit the customise area and head back to the main dashboard. We are now going to create some categories which will form the basis of your menu bar.
Click on Posts and then Categories. This will be where we can add the sections of your blog.
To make your website fast, I recommended splitting it into three or four main sections. You can add more later if you need them, but three is optimum when it comes to writing your articles, which I will talk about later.
Enter the name of each category one at a time and then press Add New Category. You don’t need to complete the other boxes unless you want to. I suggest you leave them for now.
Once you have added your categories, we can go over to that left menu, hover on Appearance then click Menus.
Here you will see two blocks, look at the one on the left and click on Categories. You might have to click View All to see the categories that you have just added. Select the categories that you want to show up in your menu. Click Add to Menu.
These select items will now appear in the right-hand box. From here you can click and drag them to change the order that they appear. When you are done, click Save Menu.
Creating your pages
For your blog to function properly, legally and be considered legitimate you are going to need to set up a few pages. These are:
To add a new page, it is back to the left-hand menu on your dashboard, Pages and then Add New.
Your About page is simple. It is about you and why you start the blog. It should include a few pictures and give people an idea of the person behind the website. If you need inspirtation, then take a look at mine.
Your contact page is easy too. Just copy and paste the following into your website:
Hello! Yes, I’d love to hear from you! Whether you want to tell me how great my blog is, ask me for some advice or want to work with me on a future project then I’m more than happy to hear from you.
You can contact me in one of these ways:
Or use the form below!
Please keep in mind that I do have other commitments. I promise I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thank you again for getting in touch.
Yes, you do need to include that weird bit at the end, but remove the hashtag. That will link up with the Ninja Forms plugin that I told you to install earlier and create a contact form that people can use to reach you.
With these three pages completed, you may want to add them to your menu bar. So follow the steps in the last section to add those in.
By now, you have probably spent a couple of hours creating your website. It should look like a blog by now, with your logos and designs making it feel like a proper website.
The next step is to add some content. This is probably going to take a few hours to get done, but if you plan well and are a fast typist then it could be complete in a couple of hours.
Writing content quickly
Start by writing down the three or four categories that you chose to put in your menu bar. Leave some space under each one as this is where your ideas are going to go.
We are aiming for ten or more articles on your website before you launch it. If you have three categories, I want you to write down 3 or 4 titles for blog posts under each one. Make sure when you are done, you have at least ten in total.
These will be the first articles on your blog. Now, we need to fill out these articles with some content.
As a minimum, you want about 500 words per article. Ideally, we would like them a bit longer than this, but we are just trying to get your website live. You can always come back to these articles later to bulk them out.
Now, back to your website Dashboard and under Posts click Add New.
My formula for writing 500-word articles with speed is to now write 4 or 5 subheadings that relate to the title of the post.
An example. If I was writing about the best places to visit when in Sydney, I would start by listing the names of 4 or 5 places as my subheadings.
With this done, you want to aim to write about 80-100 words in each section, including as an introduction and some sort of conclusion. This works out as about six sentences from my experience, but it will depend on your writing style.
Once your article is written, give it a read over to look for errors. You can add some images too. Canva can be used for this as well. Then you click the big blue Publish button in the right-hand corner. That’s your first article live. Nine more to go.
Outsourcing the writing
If you don’t fancy doing this writing work yourself, then you can always pay someone to do it for you. People, like me, offer their writing services for a good price on Fiverr.
You can reach out on that and ask them to write some articles for your website. You could have them done in a day, if you find the right person.
But if you want to keep the costs down, then you can easily write 10 articles in a couple of hours yourself.
Your blog is complete
In the space of a few hours (far less than 24 in reality), you will have a fully functional and beautiful blog that you can use for whatever you want.
In future articles, I will talk about how you can grow your blog, learn more about blogging and use it to make money.
Well done! You did it!
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.