Why all "how to start a blog" beginner's guides suck

Why All “How to Start a Blog” Beginner’s Guides Suck

You know what isn’t nice or helpful? Advertising a solution, and then giving unsuspecting visitors the bait-and-switch.

I just googled “how to start a blog”. Google diligently returned a boatload of very popular guides that teach n00bs how to set up a WordPress blog. However, with very few exceptions they all suck.

Now that might sound harsh, but it’s true. Nearly every guide I saw was far more concerned with selling hosting than helping anyone learn to blog.

Here’s what I mean.

Things I Don’t Want to Hear When I Ask “How to Start a Blog”

  • “Just sign up with Host XYZ (almost always an EIG company) and install WordPress!”
  • “Here’s a step-by-step guide to signing up for hosting!”
  • “Hey! If you’re a beginner, host XYZ is perfect for your blog.”
  • “Just add your billing address in the next box and…”

Just stop it.

I have a question class! What’s the number 1 dead giveaway that a “guide” is actually just interested in selling something?

The answer? It spends far more time telling you how to spend your money than telling you how to accomplish what you set out to accomplish.

What Should a Guide That Teaches “How to Start a Blog” Cover?

I’m glad you asked. (You did ask, right?)

Starting a blog does involve buying hosting. However, that’s just one minor step in the process. So, if you’re going to start a blog, you need to learn about hosting, but you also need to learn:

  • How to pick a niche or subject area to build your blog around.
  • What makes a great domain name great.
  • How to spot a crappy host so that you can actually evaluate hosts and not just blindly accept someone else’s recommendation.
  • Installing and setting up WordPress.
  • What a WordPress theme is and how to pick a great theme for a first-time blogger.
  • What WordPress plugins are, which ones a first-time blogger will want to use, and how to set them up.
  • How writing for the web in general, and blogging in specific, vary from the sort of formal writing you were (or maybe weren’t) taught in high school and college.
  • How to proofread and publish your first post.

The Impetus Behind Crappy Guides

As much as it pains me to admit it, in a lot of ways James is right. Affiliate ads do “corrupt and destroy the web.”

You see, what’s going on is that hosting companies offer up huge bounties to get someone to sign up for a new plan. It isn’t unusual for a $50 bounty to be paid by a host when someone signs up for a plan that’s actually worth less than $50 during the initial term.

Why are hosting companies willing to pay such high bounties? Because, for the vast majority of hosting users, switching hosts is hard and complicated to the point of being untenable. As a result, once a host has you on board, they know that the chances you’ll transfer away are extremely low.

So let’s bring this full circle:

Crappy guides that focus on hosting rather than delivering actual valuable information are just hoping you’ll buy hosting so that they earn a commission.

Pot, Meet Kettle

Yeah, yeah. I use affiliate ads on this site from time to time. I even use hosting affiliate ads. Aren’t I a hypocrite?

Maybe. Take a look at my disclosure page and decide for yourself.

Actually Learn How to Start a Blog

I created an 8-day email course that teaches the blogging basics. It does touch on hosting one day, but spends the other 7 days talking about things like branding, buying a domain name, identifying your blogging niche, and understanding the ins-and-outs of WordPress themes, plugins, posts, and pages.

By the time you finish the course, you’ll have a high-quality blog set up on the web, and your first post published – not just a cheap hosting plan, WordPress installed, and no idea what to do next.

Want in? Just sign up for my email newsletter using the box below and it’ll be auto-delivered to you.

[wd_hustle id=”sidebar-newsletter-opt-in”]

Not sold yet? You can get more details about the course as well.

Thanks for reading! I’d love it if you left your thoughts below! Have you signed up for my email course? What is the number one way I can make it better?


  1. Thank you for this great post! I just started a blog over the summer and can I just say to other bloggers out there, please, please stop saying that a beginner can start a blog in 15 minutes. There is so much more to starting a blog than signing up for hosting and picking a theme. Deciding what you want to write about in the first place takes thoughtful consideration. I have discovered that when you ask people what their passion is many people seem to get uncomfortable answering. They have to think about it. They stumble a bit over their words. Why? Because most people are spending all of their time working a job they don’t like and it’s been ages since they pursued their passions. Deciding on something that you want to write about cannot be done in 15 minutes. I couldn’t agree with you more on this article.

    1. Hey Pepper,

      Thanks for the comment. And you’re entirely right. Starting a self-hosted blog is the right way to do things and a LOT more complicated than buying hosting and installing WordPress.

      Your blog looks great! Also, did you know I’m a digital nomad myself? Wrote this a year ago — though it sounds like you guys tried the RVing thing and didn’t have a great go of it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *