How to Start a Blog: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
How to Start a Blog – A Complete Guide
Blogging is one of the most significantly growing industries in e-commerce today. Millions of people go on the internet and read blogs every day. And even more, want to be a part of this industry by telling their own story through blogging.
However, a lot of people don’t know how blogging works and how they can make a start at it.
Lucky for them, we have this step-by-step guide ready for you that will let you know how to start a blog in just 20 minutes. And you don’t have to do anything too technical, it’s just basic computer skills.
When you are done reading this blog, you will have a blog of yourself ready to share with the world.
Ready to begin? Let’s get on with it.
However, before you do that, let’s get some basic answers about what a blog is and why you should get on it.
1. Should You Start a Blog?
A common misconception about blogging is that you have to be a great writer to start blogging and become successful. The truth is on the contrary. People don’t read blogs because they want to read in a language straight out of a literary pioneer, people read blogs because they want a personal perspective on things. And bloggers write in a very informal and conversational tone, which fulfills the purpose of readers.
Since the format of blogging is not defined by any means, many huge bloggers write about anything they want.
In addition to that, you don’t need to be an expert on the matter you are writing about to be a successful blogger. People don’t want to read expert opinions, remember, they want personal opinions. For instance, if you are running a cooking blog, you can give your own twist to a recipe and it won’t matter.
So, to be a successful blogger, you just have to meet one requirement: Be passionate about what you are writing.
Don’t try to write about something you don’t want to, share your knowledge with the world. Write things that make you creative, passionate, and interested. This also makes the whole process easier.
Now, why should you blog? There are multiple reasons you might want to do that:
- To share your story with the world by giving yourself a voice through your blog.
- Make money from home. Blogging can be really profitable if it is done correctly.
- Recognition for yourself or your business. A successful blog can make an idea a reality and can turn a business into a community.
- Find a community. Blogging is really interactive, so you can meet a ton of people with the same interests.
If you think you should start a blog, let’s learn what a blog actually is.
2. What Is a Blog Anyway?
To keep it short, a blog is a kind of website that mainly focuses on written content. This content is known as blog posts. In popular culture, news blogs and celebrity blogs are common. But you can start a successful blog on literally any topic you can imagine.
Blogs are often written from a personal perspective that allows them to connect and interact with the readers. Most bogs have a comments section where the correspondence between a blogger and its visitors is maintained. This direct connection is one of the main benefits of a blog. You get to hear directly from people and people hear directly from you.
Luckily, the internet is exploding with growth right now. So, if you have been waiting for a signal to start your blog, this is it.
Now that you know about what blogging is and whether or not you should do it, let’s begin the process of how to start a blog.
3. Pick a Blog Name
If you already have an idea about what to name your blog, you need to check whether or not that name has already been registered as a domain.
If you find that domain name is taken, here is what you can do:
- Try a different domain extension. Domain extensions are terms followed by the dot in the web address, like “.com,” “.net,” and “.edu.”
- Add small words in your blog name, like “my,” “best,” or “the.”
- Add dashes between the words to differentiate your blog from the taken one.
We would recommend you get a wholly different name, so your readers won’t ever mistake another blog for yours.
Note: You cannot use punctuation other than dashes in domain names.
If you haven’t got an idea about what the name of your blog should be, read below.
How to Choose a Blog Topic & Name
Before you choose your blog’s name, choose your blog topic.
If you are not sure how to find a blog topic, here are some ways to find a good blog topic.
- Life experiences. Everyone has different experiences and different lessons learned during those experiences. You can talk about those in your blog and we are sure a lot of people would be able to relate.
- A personal blog. It will be all about you. Your dislikes, your likes, your hobbies, your day-to-day tasks, any occasion in your life, and more. That way, you wouldn’t have to stick to one topic and the rest of the world would be able to enjoy your life with you.
- Hobbies and passions. Your interests and hobbies that you are passionate about can be a topic for your blog, such as cooking, travelling, sports, fashion, etc.
Once you have a topic in mind, choosing a name would be relatively easier.
A good blog name, which will also be your domain name, should be descriptive and unique so potential visitors can easily assume what your blog is about.
If there is any specific topic that you are going to be blogging about, then you will have to pick a name that can be included in your domain name. Think different and keep your options open, don’t just stick to one word. For instance, a cooking blog doesn’t have to include the word “cooking” in it. Words related to it, like “kitchen,” “meal,” “recipe,” and “food” would be good too.
If you are thinking about creating a personal blog where you will be discussing a variety of topics, you should use your own name, so the audience feels connected to you and takes a deeper interest in what you are writing.
For example, if your name is Scott, then your blog’s name can be “Scott’s Blog” or “Blog with Scott.”
Once you have the name ready, check if the domains of those names are available.
4. Get Your Blog Online
Now that you have a name and domain picked out, it’s time to take your blog online. It’s not as technical as it sounds. With the steps below, the whole process will be very easy.
First thing’s first, you need two things to get your blog up and running. One is web hosting. Two, blogging software.
The good news is that these two things typically come in a single package.
Hosting is a service that provides you with a space on the internet to put up your blog site. Software is basically a platform where you build your blog. In this article, we will be considering WordPress as your blogging software, because it’s the most used blogging software in the world.
Select Your Web Hosting Plan
When it comes to web hosting, there are a lot of options for web hosts out there. The best ones have the most advantageous features at the most effective cost.
When you are choosing a web host, you need to consider some features that would impact your blogging site, which are storage, data security, monthly traffic (because you need most people to come to your blogging site), loading speed, payment methods (for future if you turn your blog into a business), and a versatile content management system (CMS) for the ease of use.
If you are starting a blog as a way to expand the community of an already established business, don’t forget to check out important features in business web hosting.
When you begin your search for web hosts, you will have a lot of options in front of you, so it’s upon you to choose the right one.
When you have chosen the hosting company, it’s time to choose the plan.
Hosting companies usually offer different plans having features tagged with different prices. You have to carefully decide what features you want in your package before you sign up.
Some really important features to have in your plan are high loading speed, maximum uptime, enough and expandable storage to store your content and media, data security to keep your blog posts and comments safe, and inclusion of top-rated payment methods, and prompt professional support.
If you find these (and others you want) features at an affordable price, select that hosting plan.
Buy a Domain
Buying a domain means registering a domain under your name so no one else can take it. Almost all the good web hosts offer domain registration services through their websites.
If you are clear on your blog’s and domain’s name, all you have to do is visit your hosting website and find a way to register your domain.
Alternatively, you can also visit a domain registrar company by looking it up and registering your domain from there.
Fill Out Billing Details
Once you have selected the web hosting plan and your domain is registered, you will be asked to pay for these services. Fill out your billing details.
Don’t worry, your billing details will stay safe with a certified web host.
Install the WordPress Blogging Platform
Most reputable web hosts allow automatic and free installation of WordPress. Alternatively, you can also install WordPress by visiting WordPress.org.
Once the installation is complete, log into WordPress.
5. Customize Your Blog
First and foremost, you need to customize your blog. When you log in to your WordPress, you will see an empty website with maybe a couple of demo pages, and that’s it.
What you need to do is make sure your blog has a professional, appealing look before the audience starts coming there.
Log in to your web hosting dashboard with the credentials you used to sign up for your package. Once you are logged in there, click on the WordPress button (which would be there in most of the hosting platforms), and get logged into WordPress automatically.
Change Your Blog Design with Free or Paid WordPress Theme
The first thing in changing your blog design and layout is changing its default theme. The theme controls the design of your blog and how it is going to appear.
Click on the “Appearance” button from the left menu. You will see that a few themes are already installed on your WordPress blog. These are the default themes. A lot of bloggers use default themes because they are clean and work with just any type of website.
Unless you have a specific design in your mind, we will recommend that you use one of the free default themes, such as “Twenty Sixteen.”
You can activate the theme after selecting it by clicking on the “Activate” button.
However, if you don’t like any of the already installed themes, you can choose from thousands of other themes that can be downloaded for free. All you have to do is add a new theme of your choice, install it, and activate it.
Moreover, if any of the free themes are not what you are looking for, you can even buy new themes for a small price. Those are premium themes. Not only are they much different than free themes in appearance, they come with premium changes also that are not in most of the free themes.
6. Write a New Blog Post and Publish It
Now that you have your blog’s design customized, it’s time to get it running with the first piece of content.
Go to the menu and click on “Posts.”
On this page, you will see posts that are already uploaded. This is a default post on every new WordPress blog. It’s not important and you don’t want your viewers to see this, so just click on “Trash” to delete this post.
Now, you need to write a new post. Click on “Add New.”
This will take you to the post editor screen. Begin with writing the title of your post in the top box and the post in the lower box.
You can also add a picture to your post by clicking on the “Add Image” button. Select the image from your device and click on “Upload.” The next screen will allow you to adjust the picture size. When the picture is ready, click on “Insert into post.”
Once your post is finished with all the content and pictures, click on the “Publish” button on the top-right side of the screen.
If you are not sure what to write and publish, read below.
How to Write Great Blog Content?
First of all, every post should be engaging, informative, and lengthy. To be fair, you cannot come up with new ideas every day for a blog post. But you are completely free to play with the tone and subject matter a little bit to keep things interesting. After all, it’s your own space.
However, there are a few things that every piece of content should include:
- Define the Content – Create stimulating and curious titles that appeal to people to click on the post. Use the first paragraph of your post to define the topic neatly before just dumping the information on readers.
- The Longer the Better – Longer posts are better but remember to BREAK THEM UP. The more information you include, the better, but readers tend to skim past long paragraphs and never-ending sections. Make sure to break the post into an adequate amount of headings and subheadings, and headings into adequate amounts of paragraphs with short lengths. Using bullet points never hurts.
- Keep It Engaging – Engagement is very important to make your blog a success. Keep your posts interesting, and conversational, as if you are talking to the readers in person. At the end of every post, use a common tactic of engaging users with a meaningful question and ask them to reply in the comments.
- Original Content – Using original content is really important. If it is not coming to you at a moment, wait, but never plagiarize. With plagiarism, there is always a risk of being called out on the face or even harsher consequences. If you like the content of someone else and you want to use it as an inspiration, credit them with respect, but make sure you are already using them as an inspiration and the content is fully coming from you.
- Original Photos – Using stock images is really easy, but it is better to include your own photographs and graphic images. Or, you can take free images and use your photoshop skills to manipulate them. It adds authenticity to your work.
- Edit Your Work – Don’t just post raw content. Edit it carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes. Proofread it. Then post it.
Publishing Your Blog
Even after you have made a new post, your blog will still be showing a placeholder page, which means your blog hasn’t been published yet.
When you are ready to publish your blog for the first time, click the “Launch” button on the WordPress dashboard to remove the placeholder page and publish your blog to the public.
7. Promote Your Blog
While a blog needs thoughtful, well-designed content, it also needs some promotion to get readers, especially when it’s completely new.
Use the strategies below to promote your blog and get more and more readers.
Alert Your Social Network
People in your social circle should be the first ones to know your blog, which includes family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. Encourage them to follow your blog and ask them to mention your blog in their stories.
Use Social Media
It’s important that you make handles for your blog on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also do Pinterest and YouTube. Update these social media accounts with your new blog post links and teasers. Engage followers on these accounts and bring them to your blog.
If your content is high-quality and about current topics, then posting about it on social media is a great way to get shares and visitors.
Comment on Other Blogs
Find blogs similar to you and engage with them by leaving a comment on their posts’ comment sections. These comments should include your introduction and something engaging about your blog. If they allow, leave a link to your blog. Try to make a relationship.
Engage with Your Visitors
When your readers comment on your posts, engage with them. Like their comments, reply to them, and try to make a relationship with them.
Make it obvious that the author cares about his or her community. That goes a long way.
Collaborate with Other Bloggers
The reason we recommended that you go on other blogs and leave a comment on their posts is that it establishes your chance to collaborate with them in the future, which is a really good technique to market your blog.
When you collaborate with a blogger, other people in your field start noticing, the audience notices it, and it takes you on a bit higher level.
Collaborating includes guest posting, promoting each other’s blogs, and regularly interacting through comments or through each others’ social media handles publicly.
It goes without saying, posting regularly is crucial when you are a starting blog. You don’t want a reader to come to your blog once, see it empty or with little content, and never come on it again. Keep at least one post a week.
Long gaps between posts significantly harm your growth. We know it’s not easy sticking to a schedule, but it’s a must.
Create an Email List
Email marketing plays a huge role in making sure that your visitors come back to your blog. By collecting the email addresses of your visitors, you have them signed up for the blog updates, newsletters, and whatnot. So, when a new post is up, you invite them to read it via email.
Now, you can’t email every individual separately, so create an email list and keep adding new visitors to it.
Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines
Once your blog is public, you need to start appearing in Google search results soon.
Sign up for Google Webmaster, create an account, and open the Search Console. Add your blog here by clicking “Add Property.” Follow the steps to add your blog.
This is only the first step towards SEO optimization. Your traffic might be minimal, to begin with, but with time, it will increase as you continue to create quality blog posts.
To optimize your blog posts, make sure that you are following the strategies below.
- Header Tags – Headings and subheadings should be written under H1, H2, and H3 tags.
- Categorization – Content should be published and categorized into respective categories. For instance, if you have a cooking blog, there should be separate categories for recipes, kitchen tips, products, and so on. In the post editor screen, click on Document > Categories > Add New Category.
- Permalinks – Each blog post’s title is the end portion of the URL of that blog post. Each URL should end with the title of the blog (or a variation of it if the title itself is very long) and not an article number (which is by default). From the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks. Select the “Post Name” and click on “Save Changes.”
8. Make Money from Your Blog
Who doesn’t like money? So, if you want to make money from your blog, follow the methods below. And after learning customization, posting, and optimizing your blog, this should be easy.
Sell Advertising Space
Once your blog is popular, advertisers will be all around you to lend your place to them for ads. Take advantage of this through Google Adsense. Google with find the advertisers for you and you just have to place the Adsense code on your blog to start running ads and earn money.
Sell Affiliate Products
This is commission-based work. You add a link to a service or a product of someone else into your blog post, and when a reader clicks on that link from your blog and makes a purchase of that product, you get a commission.
A lot of tech and lifestyle blogs publish product reviews and product guidelines to earn money this way.
Sell Products and Services
Once your blog becomes a community, you can launch your own products and services. For instance, if your cooking blog has a following, you can start making DIY oven mitts and sell them to your fans. You also have to promote these products through your blogs and your social media.
Sell Digital Downloads
E-courses, ebooks, video tutorials, digital art, etc. are the most commonly consumed digital materials sold by bloggers. Bloggers keep the price low and gain an audience through this.
For instance, if you are a knowledgeable person in your field, you can write an ebook and make some money.
Memberships have been extremely popular nowadays. Once your blog is a bit famous, you can incorporate membership and sell them to the visitors. The members get access to the most exclusive contents of your blog, get to take part in the giveaways, can contact you for a free consultation, get unlimited downloads of a digital product, get discounts, and whatnot in exchange for a membership fee.
There are, in fact, many ways a blog can monetize itself. Gaining popularity on social media, performing PR/collaborations, making monetized YouTube videos etc. are all part of how bloggers monetize their content to a higher scale.
Now, you know everything about blogging – how to start blogging, build your website, customize it, publish it, promote it, monetize it, and more. This should have you all ready to become successful bloggers.
Need more help, check out frequently asked questions to get all your answers.
9. Blogging FAQs
What makes a successful blog?
In short, you make your blog successful. Your passion, dedication, creativity, knowledge, experiences, and whatever you have to offer to the community. As long as you continue to provide interest and engaging content to the world, no one can stop you from success.
What do you need to start a blog?
To be frank: time, passion, and a well-thought goal in mind.
You can do blogging for fun only every once in a while, but that will not get you anywhere. It is a full-time operation if you need to be successful. You need to create well-thought, creative, lengthy, detailed, qualified, and interesting posts to keep the audience hooked at least once a week. And you need time and energy to do that. Not just that, you need to be passionate, creative and dedicated with a goal-oriented mind.
What should my blog be about?
What are you passionate about? What is on your mind? What do you most often think about? What is your one true love? What do you dream about? What do you find yourself searching about the most?
If there is a one-word answer to all these questions, that is what you should be blogging about.
How do I find a profitable niche for my blog?
The simple way to make a niche profitable is by narrowing it down enough to eliminate mainstream competition.
For instance, if you are passionate about food and want to write about cooking, there are already so many people doing it, which makes it harder for you to excel as a newborn blogger.
So, let’s start narrowing it down so it doesn’t stay too much on the surface but doesn’t get alienated either. What’s your favourite cuisine? Spanish, Italian, French? You can make a blog about that.
How do I name my blog?
There is an easy way to sort this out. So, let’s assume your blog will be about cooking.
There is a list of all the main words that your blog will be about. Cooking, food, recipe, kitchen, cuisine, baking, delicious, delicacy, and whatever comes to mind.
Now, there is a list of all the nouns and adjectives that may apply to you as the maker. Chef, cook, foodie, food lover, kitchen expert, fusion, wife, husband, dad, son, creative, baker, adventurous, friendly, fun, thrilling, and more.
Now, start putting these words together. Keep playing around until you get something like Food Loving Husband, Adventurous Cuisines, Baking with Mom, Cook of the House, Thrilling Recipes, or something like that.
You can also use your name instead of an adjective, and try something like Bake with Scottt, Cooking with Ashley, Synthia Bakes, Bob’s Bakery, Alice’s Recipe Box, and so on.
You can always use blog name generators on the internet if you are still struggling with ideas.
What do you do if your domain name is taken?
If the domain name you landed upon is already taken, there are multiple things you can do.
If the domain name you want is your trademarked business name, you can have your trademark rights asserted and get the privileges eventually. It is a lengthy process, including lawyers and heft fees. However, if your name isn’t officially trademarked, don’t fight for it, don’t even attempt to try getting it registered with a different extension, like .biz or .info.
Instead, try using a different variation of the name, like putting a dash between words, inserting “the” or “a,” or tweaking the spelling.
A lot of times, domain names taken are not in use. Try searching the URL. If it takes you to a different domain name or an empty site, you can purchase it from its current owner.
What is the best place to create a blog?
WordPress is the best place to create a blog. It is easy to use, easy to customize, can be integrated with tons of different plugins for ease of access, and is available for free. Almost all of the good hosts install WordPress directly to your account once you sign up with them.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Technically, you can make a blog and get it running with absolutely nothing. It wouldn’t cost a cent.
Realistically, you have to spend some money to get your blog taken seriously. You can’t become successful with a free subdomain of WordPress or Blogspot. You need to spend for a completely registered customized domain, which would cost around $15 a year.
If you plan to invest in marketing, it is additional money.
Do bloggers make money?
Bloggers do have the ability to make it their full-time business. In fact, a lot of bloggers are already earning thousands of dollars. It’s not easy to become a highly paid blogger, it is possible. It requires hard work and consistency, like any other business. Through ads, contextual ads, affiliated programs, sponsored posts, and product launches, bloggers can make some dough for themselves.
How do bloggers get paid?
Bloggers mostly get paid by advertisers. How they get paid depends on what types of ads they are using.
In CPC (cost per click), ad revenue is generated simply through clicks. These ads are highly targeted and rational.
In flat fee, if a blogger’s traffic is high, the advertisers will pay them a monthly flat fee to get their ads published on their blog.
In commission, ads are affiliated links that, if visitors click on them purchase the product affiliated with the link, land some serious cash in the blogger’s pockets as a commission.
Should I start my blog on WordPress?
If you are new to blogging and don’t have HTML or coding experience, then yes, you should head to the self-hosted platform of WordPress and start from there.
WordPress is the biggest blogging platform in the world. While millions of small sites are on it, it is also home to some of the biggest websites.
It is easy to use, can be used from anywhere, doesn’t require coding or too much technical experience, has free themes, has built-in SEO, and more.
Is WordPress free?
Yes. WordPress is an open-source, self-hosted blog which is completely free.
WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different platforms. While WordPress.org is 100% free, it doesn’t run on its own and would require hosting and a registered domain.
On the other hand, WordPress.com would let you run your blog for free with a free subdomain. However, since it’s completely free, it would limit you to basic options and isn’t really worth it.
How often should I blog?
If the goal is to make money, then blog as repetitively as you can, keeping in mind that the quality isn’t compromised a bit. The ideal time is to post at least once a week.
While frequency is important, it doesn’t mean that every post should be of thousands of words. You need to keep it as informative and engaging as you can, the word count comes after that.
Why do blogs fail?
Every blog is born with the potential to become successful, however, most of them fail. Why?
People give up too fast, blogging isn’t constant or consistent, content is not good, the page is just filled with ads and no content, and other reasons are the source of why so many blogs fail to become successful.
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