Starting a Blog: What You Need to Know and Steps To Get Started
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September 4, 2021
Written by: Fran Powers
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If you have been thinking about starting a blog, this article is for you. Starting your own blog can be an exciting endeavor but it can also seem daunting. This post will go over all of the steps that are necessary to get started with blogging and what you need to know before diving in.
Free Website or Paid Website: What’s Your Budget?
Before diving into how to create a blog, you’ll need to ask yourself what goals do you want to accomplish and howmuch you’re willing to spend? There are many different options available for managing a blog and the method you choose will affect how your budget is spent.
You can create a completely free website. But if you are looking to start a blog and make money then you may need to spend some money.
Think of it as renting and buying a house. Legally, when you buy a house you can use it to generate more income compared to just renting and living in someone else’s house.
Create a list of all the things you are looking to accomplish with your blog. And as you progress through this post, keep going back to your list and modify them as you see fit.
After you find your blog niche, next is to pick out your blog’s name, which will also become your domain name. You want to make sure you choose a name that is relevant, easy to remember, and memorable.
The best way I’ve found when choosing your blog’s domain name is by brainstorming what words come to mind when thinking about the topic of your blog?
For example, if my blog was on fitness then the first terms/words that would pop into my head are the gym, weight loss, exercise, healthy eating, etc. Write a list of the domain names that you could brainstorm, so if one is not available you have others to fall back on.
Aim to use words that highlight what your content is about, in the domain name. If your blog is about fitness, then gymlife.com may not be the best because it doesn’t show what type of content you will have on the blog. Instead, try something like fitlife.com or healthygymjourney.com which shows that you will have content about being healthy, going to the gym, and being physically fit.
Premium Domain Names vs. Generic Domains: What’s The Difference?
When it comes to picking your blog name, you have two options. You can either get a generic domain or purchase what is called a premium domain that costs more money. A premium domain costs more money because it is a unique name that has never been registered before, while generic domains are existing dictionary words.
For example, if I wanted to start a blog about the stock market, then myniche.com would be considered generic because it is just an existing word that can already be found online and used for other purposes.
However, if I was trying to write about making money in the financial market or how you should invest your money safely so you don’t lose it, then I would want to purchase a premium domain like moneymakingsystem.com because it is not an existing word that can be found online and used for other purposes.
If you are on a strict budget then generic domains may be more suitable but if you have the extra cash lying around or don’t mind spending more then go with purchasing a premium domain.
Premium domains will cost you an average of $20 per year and with a generic domain, the price is much cheaper at reputable sites like Namecheap. Namecheap allows you to purchase generic and premium for about $5-10. So, it’s a great place to start if you’re on a tight budget. You’ll have to pay this annually to keep your domain.
Here are some tips on how to choose a great blog name that stands out.
Make sure your words are easy to read and spell.
Do a quick search on Google for your blog name with the word “blog” in front of it to make sure no one else has taken the same domain.
Make sure your blog name is original and not too generic.
Ensure your domain isn’t too long.
Try not to use symbols or numbers in your domain name unless it is an established brand.
Pick a domain that is easy to say and remember. You want people to be able to reach your blog quickly when they hear about it or search for it in Google which can make all the difference in how well known your blog becomes over time.
Make sure you own the social media profiles because you can then redirect people to your blog with these profiles.
Make sure the domain you choose is available for purchase by checking Namecheap, GoDaddy, or another reputable website that sells domains so you don’t lose out on owning it forever and cannot use it later.
Once you have purchased your domain name make sure everything works properly before purchasing your web hosting plan.
If your blog is about one specific topic, make sure it isn’t too broad because this could potentially reduce how well known your blog becomes over time which can hurt your earnings.
Step #2: Web Hosting
Compared to paid options, you also have free options. And you can consider the free blogging platforms like Blogger.com or WordPress.com as free hosting plans because they offer you templates to build your blog on, along with extra features that can be used for blogging purposes.
But if you are looking to start making money from your blog then I recommend choosing paid web hosting. This way you’ll have more control over how the site looks and performs, along with having access to more features so you can blog effectively.
Paid Web Hosting
When choosing a web hosting plan, there are two different types: shared and dedicated. Shared hosting is less expensive but more limited in what you can do with it. For example, most shared hosts offer fewer plugins that will help build out features of your site which means you may not be able to run as many plugins on your site.
Dedicated hosting is more expensive but it’s also unlimited and has fewer restrictions, so you can do anything with a dedicated server than you could do with shared hosting and much more.
If there are any limitations to what kind of sites or files can be hosted by the web host then this will be stated in the hosting agreement so read over this carefully before signing up.
But, a few months ago, I have moved all of my websites to Wealthy Affiliate and haven’t looked back since. I have been impressed by the WA and I have to say that I am happy to be a part of the community.
But, if you are interested in starting your blogging journey then consider using the free hosting that is offered by Wealthy Affiliate: it offers everything you need to get started and make money online with a blog; including unlimited disk space for saving files, email accounts, chat features included at no extra cost, and 24/hr support.
If not Wealthy Affiliate, then I recommend BlueHost. I had been with them the longest and they are not bad. I encourage you to carry out your research for these web hosts and then pick the one that fits your needs.
Just ensure that you are getting these benefits with whichever web host you’re using:
Fixed and affordable rates (no sudden increases in prices and it’s inexpensive)
High-quality customer support (to help with any issues you may have with your site)
A great reputation
Very reliable (you are trusting them with your website or online business)
Steps #3: Install WordPress
Once you purchase your web hosting plan and domain name, the next step is to install WordPress.
It’s very easy with the hosting companies I listed above. They will give you instructions for installing WordPress on your domain name. If not, then any web host should be able to do this for you.
To be fair, another reason why I joined Wealthy Affiliate is that it offers classes with step-by-step videos on setting up your website and growing it. It’s actually perfect for beginners to use. So it’s a great place to learn how to start your blog and make money.
You can also consider YouTube or Google as they are both free to use and will provide step-by-step instructions on how to install WordPress onto your domain name.
Just remember that whatever hosting company you choose, make sure it offers one-click installation of WordPress.org (Not WordPres.com) so there isn’t any confusion when installing the platform.
WordPress.com is one of the free blogging platforms that I mentioned earlier. It allows you to post blogs on their site. But if you want more control over the look and feel of your blog and how it functions then go with WordPress.org
Step #4: Choose a theme
Now that you have your domain name set up and the WordPress platform installed, it’s time to choose a theme.
A theme in WordPress is like having an outfit for your website; essentially, it tells the site what design elements to use (like buttons or headers) and which ones not to use. There are free themes available but they are usually very limited and you may not know how to customize them.
Therefore, I recommend going with a premium theme that costs around $40-50 because it will look great out of the box and you can easily modify it by adding images, changing colors, etc.
You should be able to find a great WordPress theme from ThemeForest.net or ElegantThemes.com. I have used both but I prefer ThemeForest. Since (like the name suggests), it’s a huge market of countless WordPress themes available right at your fingertips. Plus, there are a lot of affordable options. ThemeForest has been my go-to place for easily getting beautiful themes for my websites since 2016.
It’s important to note that you can choose a free theme first on WordPress to see how it looks and functions. If you don’t like the way it looks, then go with a premium one from ThemeForest.
All of these themes are modern-looking and work well for attracting your ideal audience. I suggest choosing an all-inclusive theme from ThemeForest rather than a theme with additional features you may not need. This will make it easier to manage your website in the future. And for beginners who don’t know how to add certain elements or widgets, can easily contact their hosting company’s support team if needed.
Also, you have to make sure that your web design is not only beautiful and functional but also offers a great user experience. And don’t forget it has to be mobile-responsive.
Step #5: Customize Your Themes
After you upload your theme by clicking ‘upload’ then ‘add new’ under themes, you will see what your site looks like without any customizations.
This is where the fun begins!
You can now pick colors and images that suit your brand’s personality while keeping in mind how it affects user experience on a deeper level. For example: if you choose an image with light text then people won’t be able to see your content clearly. Just keep that in mind as you’re making these simple changes and don’t worry if it takes a little time because having the perfect color scheme is what makes people stay on your site longer.
You can choose to customize the following in your theme:
Widgets and Footer
You can also consider hiring someone online who knows how to use Photoshop or another photo editing tool—it’s a cheaper alternative to paying someone in person. Just be careful who you hire because there are some scammers out there!
Step #6: Plugins for WordPress
There are thousands of plugins available for free and premium on the WordPress.org plugin directory but you don’t have to install all of them because that can slow down your site. The best practice is to choose a few necessary ones that will help give your website a boost in traffic, SEO rankings, conversion rate optimization (CRO), and so on.
Plugins can be your best friend and your worst enemy. The right plugins in the right amount (<7 plugins) can improve the overall quality of your website. But if you install a ton of plugins that do the same thing, then your site will slow down and annoy visitors.
Here are some basic ones I recommend:
Google Kit – I have seen many bloggers recommend Google Analytics for WordPress but I personally prefer Google Kit created by the company. It gives you all of the Google services: Search Console, Analytics, Page Speed Insights, and Adsense, all in one plugin.
Yoast SEO/ All-In-One SEO: Either one is fine, but I give AIO SEO the edge since it has a headline analyzer that I’m obsessed with. The headline analyzer gives you a score and helpful tips on how to optimize your headlines so people will click through to your site.
Auto-Optimize: This plugin can be used to bulk optimize your images for SEO and speed. It’s a life-saver if you want to quickly resize, compress and format all of your site’s photos in one click.
Insert Header and Footer: A MUST! It allows you to insert code snippets into your HTML code without accessing it. It’s a must for beginners to blogging who have little to no experience with coding.
Contact Form: I recommend Contact Form by WPForms because it comes with a lot of useful features for free such as conditional logic, unlimited forms, custom thank you messages w/ signature files, front-end submissions (for paid members) and so much more!
I only use these plugins: AIO SEO, Google Kit by Google, Auto-Optimize, and two necessary ones for my theme. It’s essential that you keep your plugins as low as possible so it doesn’t affect your website speeds.
Step #7: Add Widgets
Widgets are a lot like apps you would download to your phone. They’re simple tools that give visitors the ability to interact with your site without being forced into it. It’s not as effective as plugins but still does its job well in catching people’s attention and directing them where they need to go.
Sidebar Widgets: This is where you can place widgets that are seen on the right side of your blog.
I recommend adding a search bar, email marketing widget, and social media platforms that your blog uses. But this is mostly up to you and your preferences.
Footer Widgets: These are placed at the very bottom of your website’s footer (usually) and tend to contain copyright text, newsletter signups, social media buttons, or site navigation links.
Step #8: Create Your Pages
Pages are like individual index cards of your site. They’re used to separate different sections and bring attention to important information for your readers.
You can also create custom pages if necessary such as a “Blog” page that links directly to your “Blog” post or a contact page that links to the contact form.
Your very first blog post is important since it will be the one that readers see when they arrive. It’s what will give them their initial impression of your website and convince them to come back for more!
Here are some tips on writing a good blog post:
Write a good and catchy headline for your post. Make sure to include keywords (e.g., “How To Blog”) that will help people find you when they search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo
Create valuable, informative, and engaging posts that are long enough to answer your reader’s questions completely and increase your search engine rankings
Include images in your posts to help users understand what you’re trying to convey and break up the text for easier reading. You can also use bullet points, video, and gifs.
Make a blog schedule so you know when you’ll be publishing, on average how many times per day/week/month. You can use ClickUp as your project management and content calendar tool.
Use tools like Grammarly to check your writing and avoid any errors
Don’t just write for the sake of writing. Write with a purpose and be sure that you’re conveying what you need in an efficient way.
Update your blog regularly to help people remember that you’re still around and they can come back for more.
After you write your first blog post, then you can publish it. After which, it’s time for content promotion.
Step #10: Promote Your Blog Post
Now that you’ve written an amazing blog post it’s time to get your readers (and potential users) involved. There are a lot of ways you can do this like using social media, forums, and other blogging sites.
Social Media: Social media is a great way to gain more readers and catch their attention. You can either post links directly on your social profiles or click the share button when you’re in your WordPress editor.
Forums: Forums are a place where people go looking for reliable information from others who have experienced it themselves. If you know any forums that discuss topics that are relevant to your blog post then go ahead and drop the link.
Other Blogging Sites: There are a tons of other blogging sites out there that can help you promote your posts in varying degrees depending on how popular it is. You might even find some readers who love what you post so much that they want to read more.
Step #11: Monetize Your Blog
Now it’s time to monetize your blog post(s) by adding affiliate marketing buttons or ad space to your posts. You can either do this through a plugin or by adding code directly into the HTML section of each blog post.
Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is where you promote someone else’s product and make a commission from it if they decide to buy something using your referral link. This way, you don’t have to risk any of your own money and can just send users over to the product you’re promoting.
Ad Space: You can also sell ad space directly on your blog posts by posting it in a spot where readers are most likely to notice something that piques their interest enough to click on it (e.g., sidebar, header).
Offer freelancing services: If you’re good at what you do then why not offer your services as a freelancer? You can either post it on sites like Upwork and Fiverr or just put ads up on your blog posts.
Write sponsored blog posts: Again, if you’re good at what you do then why not write sponsored blog posts for other companies? All they have to do is pay you a fee and send you the topic. You can either post it on your own site or submit guest articles/blogs on other sites depending on how much traffic they get.
Create Digital Products: You can also create digital products that are related to your topic and sell them for a price. These days, people tend to buy more from someone they feel connected with so the more you blog about relevant topics, the higher the likelihood of selling something on your site because readers trust what you have to say.
Ads: You can also monetize your blog by selling ad space on it to companies that will pay you per impression or click. These ads should be related to the content of your site so readers are more likely to notice them and engage with them.
Step #12: Keep Your Blog Up-to-Date With New Features
You’ll want to stay up-to-date with the latest features so you can keep providing your readers with relevant content.
WordPress Updates: WordPress updates are important because they contain security patches that help protect against any vulnerabilities in the software and ensure it runs smoothly for everyone. You should update as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary damage or loss of data/work.
Plugin Updates: You should also update your plugins regularly to make sure you aren’t missing out on any new features and security patches.
Theme Updates: Themes can sometimes introduce bugs in how it interacts with other elements of the website so updating them frequently provides a more stable environment for everyone.
To make your life easier, you can choose to choose the option for automatic updates so these can be done without you having to carry them yourself.
Step #13: Make Sure Your Pages and Posts Work With Search Engines
You should always enable your pages and posts to be indexed by search engines so they can find them when people look for relevant topics.
Sitemap: You should create a sitemap of all the important pages on your site that you want to be crawled, which is an XML file with URLs pointing to each page.
XML Sitemap: You also want to submit your sitemap file in the XML-Sitemaps generator and add it to Google Search Engine so they can find all of the important pages on your site and make sure nothing is missing or incorrectly linked (which would prevent you from appearing in search results).
Having a blog is like having your own website because you get to choose how it looks and what content gets published on it. You can either have people visit the site directly or submit links from other websites so they become indexed in search engines for more exposure.
Step #14: Measure Your Analytics and Optimize for Conversions
You should always keep track of your analytics so you can see how much traffic is coming from which sources and what works best.
Google Analytics: The most popular free tool to use is Google Analytics, where you can set up goals for conversions (e.g., newsletter signup or purchase) and measure the number of people who go through and complete the goal.
Conversion Tracking: You can also use tools like Bitly to track which links get shared how much on social media, where you’ll want to optimize for more shares because they drive traffic back to your site (and increase visibility).
Step #15: Enjoy the process
Finally, you should enjoy the process of blogging because building your own website is fun.
By following these steps on how to start a blog, you’ll be able to build your own site that provides value and brings in traffic. Remember blogging isn’t easy but it is worth the effort if you enjoy sharing what you know with others online!
Fran Powers has a strong background in digital marketing and a love for wealth management. She uses these skills to empower those who are willing to learn. You can reach her on Linkedin.