Learning how to start a blog can seem overwhelming at first glance. But with the right help, anyone can do it.
I’ve been where you are but eventually was very successful with my first blog. So much so that I’m starting a second blog, and this time I’m walking you through the steps.
With my step by step guide, you’ll get a head start on the process to create a blog. It won’t make you an overnight success – but it will help you start without the mistakes and hiccups I made. My mistakes are your gain – how’s that for a gift?
Below you will find the ten steps for how to create your first blog post. You’ll learn how to start blogging and begin to build a successful blog!
How to Start a Blog in 10 Steps
1. Create a Plan and Strategy
This is important. Before you do anything, you need a plan. Determine your blog’s purpose, niche audience, and what sets you apart.
If you’re starting a blog in a popular niche – find a way to stand out. Figure out what you can provide that your competitors don’t. Find the void you can fill.
When you think of your target audience, narrow it down as much as you can. Don’t say ‘I’m writing for women, or I’m writing for men over 40.’ Break it down even further.
Create a fictional character or avatar and make it the ‘mascot’ for your blog. Think of this avatar every time you write a blog post or create an offer and write or market to him/her. Consider the following for your avatar:
- Marital status
- Financial status
- Kids or no kids
- Job type
These are just a few ideas to help you create your avatar, but you see the point – narrow it down as much as you can.
Next, create your strategy.
Think about why you created the blog. Write down the major topics – you can always branch off from them, but always focus on your key concept.
Now, consider your strategy. Think about how often you’ll post on your blog and consider your goal. Are you trying to inform your audience, sell something, or help them fix a problem?
These factors help create your strategy. Think long-term with your strategy too. You can change it down the road (and you probably will), but for now, think about your vision and create a plan to make your vision reality.
2. Pick Your Domain Name
Choosing a blog name is essential. It’s how people find you. Try to pick a blog name that stands out, but is simple enough for people to remember. Make it catchy but easy to type. Also, make it a name that gives readers an idea of what your blog is about.
Use these simple rules when you choose a domain name:
- Aim for a ‘.com.’ address whenever possible, as it’s the most common
- Keep it simple, using letters only (no numbers or symbols)
- Research to make sure no one else has the name or a name that’s too similar
- Look to see if social media accounts are available for that name.
Once you’ve secured a custom domain name, you’ll also have the option for your own custom email address.
Check each domain name’s availability. Bluehost offers a simple tool, click on ‘Domain’ and search for the names you’re considering. It tells you right away if it’s available or taken.
3. Set-Up Your Blog Hosting
Just like you have a house or apartment to live in, your blog needs a place to ‘live,’ which is called web hosting.
This isn’t the same as your blogging platform (or content management system). I’ll talk about the platform in the next step. For now, let’s focus on where you host your blog. I love Bluehost for self-hosted blogs.
Most web hosting companies offer a variety of hosting plan options. Bluehost is a hosting company, great for beginners, and works seamlessly with WordPress, the best blogging platform.
Your blog is as excellent as your host, so choose carefully. The host houses your files and determines your website’s function and performance. With more than 2 million self-hosted WordPress websites, it’s easy to see that everyone loves Blue host.
Let’s get started:
- Click here to go to Bluehost.
- Click ‘Get Started Now’
- Choose your pricing plan (the Basic plan works great)
- Enter your chosen domain name from step 2 in ‘Create a Domain Name.’
- Enter your account information
- Choose your package (the longer the plan you choose, the more you save)
- Select Domain Privacy Protection in the ‘extras’ as this protects your private information
- Enter your payment information and get your web hosting account
You now own your own space on the internet! Now let’s learn how to start a blog!
4. Install WordPress
There are many different blogging platforms out there, but WordPress.org is one of the only ones that allow you to own your digital space. Don’t let the notion of being able to create free blog posts get to you elsewhere. You should get started right off the bat with a WordPress.org site even if it costs a few bucks.
Navigate back to Bluehost.com and enter your new login information. Bluehost will walk you through to set up WordPress, the recommended blog platform.
The four-step process takes just minutes to complete:
- Answer the type of site you’re creating (blog), the type (business or personal), and the intended audience.
- Step 2 provides more options. For example, if you want a store or an ‘about me’ page, add it here, but don’t worry if you don’t know yet. You can add these pages in WordPress later too.
- Next, you’ll name your site. If you already paid for a domain name, you know your site’s name. You can also add a tagline. Don’t worry if you don’t have one yet; you can choose one later.
- Choose a theme. Bluehost provides its selection, but you have thousands of choices. I’ll show you my theme of choice in the next step.
- Click ‘launch my site.’ Don’t worry, no one will find your site yet, so it’s okay that it doesn’t look quite right.
When you’re ready, log in to your Bluehost account and click on WordPress in the top right corner to log into your WordPress Dashboard, and we’ll choose a theme.
5.Choose a Theme
Above I discussed installing WordPress. But a big part of learning how to start a blog is choosing a WordPress theme. WordPress already comes preloaded with a basic theme, but I use Astra, as do more than 1 million other blog owners. Many themes come with a 30-Day money-back guarantee. They do offer a free WordPress blog theme, as well as a paid premium version.
I love it for its speed, customization options, and user-friendliness.
You can play with the layout settings, header and footer options, colors and fonts, and overall blog design without knowing a word of code. It takes just minutes to customize the look, creating the blog you envisioned.
If you want to change to Astra (or any other theme) take these steps:
- Click on ‘Appearance’ in the left-hand sidebar.
- Click on ‘Themes’
- Search for ‘Astra’ or browse the available free themes if you wish
- Click ‘Install’
- Click ‘Activate’
You now have Astra (or your chosen theme) installed and are ready to design your site.
6. Design Your Site
Let’s have some fun! This is where you bring your visions to life. If you haven’t created a logo yet, now’s a great time. Bluehost offers a ‘Make your Logo’ tool that’s simple. Enter your blog’s name, and it creates options for you. Choose one and customize its color mix, font size, line height, and more.
If you want to create your logo from scratch, try Canva. It’s free to use, and many shapes/images are also free. If you choose an image that isn’t free, it’s $1 for each image. Certainly affordable for any budget!
Next, have fun playing around with the settings. Click on ‘Appearance’ in the left sidebar again and then ‘Customize.’
Play around with different categories:
- The background and heading colors
- Adding a search bar
- Adding a background image
- Adding a header image
- Menu options (placement and what’s in them)
When you click on ‘Customize’ in Appearance, you’ll see changes you make in real-time. If you don’t like something, revert back right away. As I said, Astra is great for beginners as it’s incredibly user-friendly.
7. Install Plugins
Astra is excellent – as are many other themes, but they don’t have ‘everything.’ That’s where WordPress plugins become helpful. You can think of plugins as additional customization options (without messing with the code). You have thousands of options.
Every blog owner wants something different for their blog, but here are a few of my favorite plugins:
- Yoast SEO – Whether or not you understand SEO (search engine optimization, think what you’d expect to see in search engine results), the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool to have. It tells you how your SEO efforts paid off or if you completely missed the mark.
- Akismet – Every blog gets spam comments, but you can minimize it with Askimet.
- Simple Author Box – If you want your author box to look more professional and/or have more customizations, add this plugin to your site.
- WPForms Lite – Don’t give out your personal email address. Use the WPForms Lite plugin to create a ‘Contact Us’ page and avoid the never-ending spam that occurs when your address is out there.
- Headers & Footers – This plugin lets you add code directly into your header and footer, such as google analytics.
- WP-Optimize – Don’t let images take over your site’s space and slow it down. WP-Optimize cleans out your old files you no longer use and don’t realize still existed in your files. Alternative options here include ShortPixel and Imagify.
- WPRocket – This is the ultimate plugin for page caching, cache preloading, static file compression, and images on request. For those who aren’t tech-savvy, it essentially means that it helps your site speed.
- Wordfence – This security plugin uses an endpoint firewall and malware scanner to keep your WordPress site safe. It also houses a list of known malicious IP addresses to block attacks.
- PrettyLinks – This plugin allows you to cloak your affiliate links through redirection. Instead of a long URL, you can make it something clean like “yourwebsite.com/Bluehost.” This is very convenient because if your affiliate link changes for any reason, you can go to your PrettyLinks plugin and update it once for every instance on your website.
- Grow by Mediavine – If you want readers to be able to share your content, this plugin is a must. It’s one of the easiest to use and most customizable social media sharing plugins available, and it integrates beautifully with every website design.
This is just a small sampling of the plugins available. Play around with the different options, searching keywords based on what functionality you want from your blog.
8. Publish Awesome Content
Here’s your time to shine. This makes or breaks your blog. You could have the best design in the world, but if you don’t connect with your readers, they won’t come back, and they won’t send others to your blog either. I can’t say it enough, when learning how to start a blog, you need GREAT blog content.
It’s all about connection when writing blog posts. What’s your intent? Are you helping readers with a problem? Are you sharing your struggles and how you overcame them (similar to this blog)? Think about your purpose and what your audience wants from your blog.
Remember the audience you identified in Step 1? That’s who you’re writing for, think about (and research) what they want, and stick to it. If you aren’t sure what your audience wants – ask them. Write a call-to-action at the end of each blog post, asking for comments. Ask on your social media pages, and send out surveys to your email list (if you have one).
Make your content comprehensive – but not boring. Overdoing the ‘how-tos’ or ‘do this not that’ posts get old. Mix it up with personal stories – stories readers can relate to, and that makes you a ‘real person,’ not just words on a screen.
Add interviews with influencers in the industry, breaking news, and even controversial topics. Get your audience talking, get out there, and write a new blog post!
9. Drive Traffic
Without traffic, you’ll hear crickets. You could write the most compelling blog post in the world, but if no one knows it exists, it does you no good.
A great way to get started after you go live is by letting friends and family know about your new blog. But don’t stop there. Make your blog address a part of your email signature and add it to your social media profiles, then start promoting.
- Get familiar with other bloggers – Even though WordPress is a great platform to publish a new post on, you’ll want to make some friends. Fellow bloggers are your ‘competition’; you can help each other out. Regularly follow blogs that compliment your blog’s topics and comment on their content. Make helpful, shareable comments that get the blogger’s attention. Then share their content with your audience. There’s no greater compliment than sharing someone else’s content. If you’re consistent, the blogger will notice and will hopefully do the same for you.
- Find your tribe – Join Facebook groups with like-minded bloggers. Become an active part of the community offering helpful comments and tips. Eventually, you can share your own blog, get more followers, and get fellow bloggers to promote your blog. You can also consider joining a mastermind group like The Money Mix Insiders.
- Maximize your SEO efforts – Do keyword research, write helpful and engaging posts, and vary your post length. Google loves authoritative blogs that others love. Inbound links from other bloggers and social media sites help immensely, as do your own efforts. Have short (500 words) and long (1,700+ word) blog posts. Don’t keyword stuff, and use Yoast SEO.
- Start social media sites – Get on as many social media sites as you can by claiming a handle as close to your domain name as possible. Once you have an account through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others, you don’t need to worry about working on too many at once. Start with one and see how consistently you can post. For SEO purposes and audience engagement, aim for at least two posts a day, every day. Each social media site has different goals/needs. Facebook is excellent for lengthier posts and blog post links. Twitter is for short, witty ‘tweets,’ and Instagram and Pinterest are for those drool-worthy photos.
10. Make Money Blogging
You created a blog to make money online, or at least most people do who treat it like a business. This won’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t attempt to monetize it for a few months. Work on creating those relationships and getting the traffic before you monetize.
Once you have an audience to ‘sell to’ here’s how to make money blogging.
- Add affiliate links – Affiliate links advertise other products and services on your blogs. Companies pay you a small commission for each product or service sold through your links. Wait until you have a decent amount of traffic and partner with premium ad networks to get the highest-paid affiliates on your blog.
- Partner with an ad network – Display ads can be one of the most passive ways of making money when you set up a blog. You’ll most likely start out with Google Adsense, which admittedly doesn’t make very much. But with time, you can apply to more lucrative networks like Monumetric at 10,000 page views per month and Mediavine at 50,000 sessions per month.
- Write sponsored posts – If you have a way with words and have a lot of traffic, companies may pay you to write about and review their company on your blog. Rather than getting paid per product/service purchased, you earn a flat fee for the direct advertisement on your blog. However, you can use this as an opportunity to offer add-ons like social media posts to make more money online.
- Sell digital products – Think about digital products your audience may want based on your theme. A few options include courses, eBooks, printable worksheets, or even journals. The best ideas are ones that solve a problem for your readers.
Have Fun Creating Your New Blog
That’s the gist of it! I know it’s overwhelming, but if you take it step-by-step, learning how to start a blog is fun and adventurous. What better way to make side income and possibly make full-time income eventually, than writing about and creating around a topic you love?
Like I said before, I’m starting my second blog because my first was so successful. I’m excited to see where my new blog takes me and to see your success! Share your blogs with me – I’d love to see what you come up with after reading this article!
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.