How to Start a Blog
Step-By-Step Guide To Create A Successful Blog
JANUARY 27TH, 2017 | UPDATED: DECEMBER 4TH, 2017
Have you ever wanted to start a blog, but didn’t know how? Have you ever thought, I would love to blog about [a subject]?
Awesome! In this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to know about starting a blog. I’ll walk you through all the steps, from start to finish.
And here’s the good news: you can set up a blog really quickly. In about 20 minutes, you can have your own personalized blog, with your own domain name and everything.
It’s not complicated either. But don’t worry if you feel intimidated. I’m going to break everything down into easy to follow steps. I’ve also included pictures so you can know precisely what I’m talking about.
Ready? Alright, let’s get started.
Why You Should Start A Blog
Why should you even start a blog? There are already millions of websites out there, so why should you add your voice to the mix? Does the world really need yet another blog?
The Internet doesn’t need another pointless blog, but let’s be honest, your blog won’t be pointless, it will be amazing. There are also some really good reasons for you to create your own blog, such as:
Share Your Passion
It used to be that when you were passionate about something, you had to find some sort of club to join. Not anymore. Now you can blog about your passion, digging into all the different aspects of what you love. You can connect with readers who share your interests and build an entire community of people who love what you love.
Build Your Audience
If you’re trying to build an audience, it’s difficult to find a better way than blogging. Through blogging, you can share your expertise and become known as the go-to person on any given subject. You can develop your reputation, boost earnings and increase the number of people you reach. Blogging can be an incredible platform.
Write A Book
These days, if you want to write a book you almost always have to have some sort of blog. The publishers want to see that you can write well and that you have an audience who likes to read what you write. A blog is a great way to show publishers that you’re ready to write a book. It also allows you to market your book once you’ve written it.
All that, not to mention that having your own blog is a ton of fun! You can write about whatever you want. Do you love dog grooming? Start a blog about it! Want to write about your travels in Kansas? Start a blog! Want to explore the writings of John Grisham! Blog away! It’s total freedom to do what you want, when you want, how you want.
Are you starting to see the potential for your blog? Are you getting a vision of what your site can be? Great! Now let’s get down to the process of actually creating your blog.
Step One: Decide What You’ll Blog About
Decide what you’ll blog about
Before you build your blog, you should probably decide what you’ll blog about. Ideally, your blog will have some sort of central, uniting theme. This will give the audience a feel for what your site is all about and will help you establish your expertise in some particular area.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you get started blogging:
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you know a lot about?
- What do you want to know a lot about that you could write about as you learn?
- Who are your ideal readers? Those are the people you’ll be writing for.
Blogging should be enjoyable for you. Don’t choose a subject that bores you, just because you think it will be popular. Pick something that really gets you fired up.
Famous author Ray Bradbury said:
Bradbury explained how you have to get up in the morning and write about something you love, something you live for.
That sums it up. Write about what you love.
Step Two: Choose Your Blogging Platform
The next step is to choose your blogging platform. A platform is simply the system you use to blog. All the following are blogging platforms:
To write and publish a post on the Internet, you need a blogging platform.
If you’re serious about blogging, I don’t recommend that you use a free blogging platform like Weebly or Wix. If you’re just going to post once a month with a family update, free platforms are fine, but they’re not ideal for serious bloggers.
- If you want certain add ons, like plugins or changing designs, you have to pay for them.
- You don’t have much flexibility when it comes to the layout of the design of your blog.
- You are limited to only using the blog designs provided by the company.
- Your web address will contain the name of the platform in it (e.g. www.yourblog.wix.com).
If you’re serious about blogging, I recommend you setup your own WordPress.org blog (Note: this is different than a free WordPress.com site).
- It’s completely free, making it the most cost effective platform. Wait, am I contradicting myself? Didn’t I say you should stay away from free platforms? Here’s what I mean. WordPress is a free platform, but you’ll need to pay a small amount of money to host your blog somewhere. Don’t worry, I’ll explain that it in a bit. But WordPress itself is free.
- It’s responsive, meaning that your blog will look great on mobile devices. Honestly, most of your readers will probably be on their smartphones or tablets. Do you really want a blog that doesn’t work well on a mobile device? That would be crazy.
- WordPress is enormously popular, making up almost 25% of the entire Internet. Seriously, that’s how many people use it. And, WordPress is also one of, if not the most popular blogging platform out there. Everyone uses it, meaning you’ll always be able to find the resources you’re looking for.
- There is a huge support community. With so many users, you always be able to find someone who can help you when you’re stuck, develop something new for you, or find a resource for you. Plus, there are thousands of websites and forums dedicated just to WordPress users. It’s hard to beat the WordPress community in terms of resources.
- It’s open source. This simply means that anyone who knows what they’re doing can create their own WordPress theme or plugin. Because of this, there is an enormous library of around 40,000 free plugins, all of which add different functions to your site. There are also thousands of free themes which you can use to change the look and feel of your website.
- It’s really easy to use. Even if you’re not very tech savvy, WordPress makes it simple to write new blog posts and create new pages. You can literally add something in a matter of seconds.
WordPress is, hands down, the best blogging platform out there in terms of cost, power, ease of use, flexibility, and number of resources. Almost ALL big name bloggers use WordPress, and there’s really no reason you should choose something else.
Step Three: Choose Your Host
After choosing WordPress as your platform, you need to choose a company to host your blog. Every part of your blog – the posts, pages, pictures, videos – is a file, and that collection of files needs to be stored somewhere so other people can access them (that’s essentially what web hosting is).
Your web host stores all the files for your blog and allows people to access them when they type in your web address. Even if you don’t understand exactly how this works, it’s okay. Just trust me that you need to pick a host.
There are a ton of different web hosts available for you to choose, many costing only a few dollars a month.
I’ve mostly used Bluehost for web hosting and domain registration, and I’d highly recommend signing up with them (Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to sign up with Bluehost). They’re really affordable, have good customer service, and are perfect for both beginners and experts alike — but there are many companies that offer web hosting plans for relatively low costs.
Uptime and Reliability
Have you ever tried to access a website and been told that it’s unavailable? That usually means the site crashed. A webhost should offer 99% uptime and reliability, meaning that your blog will be available to visitors 99% of the time.
Pick hosting providers with near 100% uptime guarantees
After all, if your blog isn’t available for people to read, what’s the point of blogging? If your blog becomes really popular, this will be even more important. The more people read your blog, the greater strain that puts on the web host. They need to guarantee high uptime and reliability.
Before you select your host, do a little research to see what their customer service is like. There will inevitably be a time when something will go wrong with your site. When you screw something up or something just goes haywire.
In those times, you want to have an amazing customer service team on your side. You don’t want to wait on the phone for an hour before speaking to a human, then be told it will be at least 48 hours before they can fix the problem. By that time, you may have lost valuable readers!
HostGator promises constant uptime and great customer support
The support team should be quick, easy to work with, and always available. Don’t hesitate to do a little research before you choose your web host.
Step Four: Select Your Hosting Package
Once you’ve decided which host you’ll use, you need to pick a specific hosting “package”. This simply means selecting all the features you want. If you’re just getting started blogging, you are probably okay selecting the basic package, without all the extra bells and whistles. Unless you’re one of those people who gets a warm and fuzzy feeling from bells and whistles.
For example, on Bluehost, you probably don’t need the pro version of “Site Backup”, the “Search Engine Jumpstart”, and the “Comodo Positive SSL Bundle”. The standard package will be fine.
Basic set up package on Bluehost
You can always add in additional features later as your blog grows (and it will grow if you keep at it!). For now, just select the basic package. Choosing to be billed annually will save you a bit of cash as opposed to month-to-month billing.
Avoid Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is when your blog is on the same server as many other websites. This inevitably means that your blog will load slowly, which will drive visitors away. And, if your blog is really slow, you can actually be penalized by Google, which is NOT what you want.
You want your blog to load as fast as possible. Generally speaking, the more you pay, the faster your speed.
A note about shared hosting
Shared hosting is cheap, so if you’re just getting started or on a tight budget, you can use it. However, as you grow, you’ll want to move to dedicated hosting.
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
Dedicated WordPress Hosting From Bluehost
Since you’re using the WordPress platform, you should pick a host that has dedicated WordPress hosting. This allows you to easily install WordPress (usually with 1-click) and to manage your files.
If the host doesn’t have dedicated WordPress hosting, you’ll have to manually install the platform, which can be difficult if you’re not particularly tech savvy.
Step Five: Pick Your Domain Name
Now for the fun part! You get to select your domain name. A domain name is simply what people type into their web browser to get to your blog. For example, www.Buzzfeed.com and www.CNN.com are domain names. It’s like a house address for the Internet.
There are some things you need to keep in mind when selecting your domain name.
- Keep it (relatively) short and simple.
A web address that’s overly long and complicated is difficult to remember and a pain to type in the browser. Don’t choose a name like www.MyBlogIsAwesomeAndYoursIsPrettyLame.com (even if it’s true).
- Don’t choose a name that’s too close to an existing site or blog.
You don’t want people confusing your blog with another site that’s out there. Don’t pick www.EPSN.com or www.Bizzfeeds.com.
- It should be easy to remember.
Ideally, people should be able to remember the address of your blog without needing to Google it. If people can’t remember it, they’ll be less likely to visit it.
- It should be (relatively) brandable.
Remember, your blog is going to be your platform. You’re trying to build an audience for yourself. Therefore, you should be able to build your brand around the name of your blog.
- Don’t make it complicated.
Whatever you do, don’t choose an obscure web address, like www.98fddd965.com. Do you really think anyone will be able to remember that or type it into their browser? Nope.
What should you do if your domain name isn’t available? Obviously, you can choose a different name. Fortunately, most domain registars will also suggest alternatives that are similar to the name you wanted.
For example, if you try to purchase the name www.widgets.com on GoDaddy, you’ll see that it’s taken. However, GoDaddy will suggest alternatives.
GoDaddy suggests other options
You can also get unconventional web extensions like .pizza or .ninja, but I don’t recommend these unless you ARE blogging about pizza or ninjas. The extension .blog can be acceptable since you’re writing a blog.
Generally, it’s best to be more conventional in your name, with extensions like .com and .org. These look professional and are typically easier to remember.
Step Six: Install WordPress
After selecting your domain name, it’s time to install WordPress. Assuming that you’ve selected a web host that offers 1-click installation, this will be really simple. Again, if your host doesn’t have 1-click hosting, you may want to consider selecting a different host. After all, you want things to be as simple and painless as possible. No sense making extra work for yourself.
- Log in to your hosting account. So, if you signed up with Bluehost, go to their site and login. Simple, right?
- Go to your “Control Panel”.
- Look for the WordPress or “Website” icon.
- Choose the domain where you want to install your blog. For example, if you purchased the domain “www.MyBlogIsAwesome.com”, select that domain. If you purchased two domains, select the one that you want to install your blog on.
1-click WordPress Install on Bluehost
Install the files and you are DONE! Did you think it could be that easy? This is why you should select a web host that offers 1-click installation.
Step Seven: Design Your Blog
This is where things start to get really fun. It’s time to actually change the design of your website.
First, let’s pick a theme for your blog. The theme will determine how it looks, the color scheme, how the menus are displayed, etc. There usually is flexibility within the theme to make changes, but the theme creates the overall structure.
Thankfully, there are themes that fit just about every personality. Are you going to be blogging about food? There are tons of food themes. Will you blog about tech? No problem. You can find a theme that looks “techish”. Are you into obscure German industrial music? There’s probably a theme for that.
Changing Your Theme
WordPress is always installed with a default theme. This theme is okay, but your blog is going to more than okay. It’s going to be incredible. So you need to select and install an incredible theme. A theme that reflects who you are and what you love.
The default WordPress theme
You’ve got several options when it comes to selecting a WordPress theme. First, you can install a theme directly within the WordPress platform.
Go to “Appearance > Themes” in the side menu, and then click “add new” at the top.
Find your theme
You can filter the theme by color, popularity, and a host of other options to find the theme you like best. If you click on theme thumbnail, you can see a preview of what it will look like.
If you dig the preview, click “Install” to install the theme.
Install your theme
Once you’ve installed your theme, it’s time to activate it. Activating a theme makes it live, so that other people see it when they visit your blog. Go ahead and visit your blog once you activate the theme to make sure that you like it. Sometimes a theme can look slightly different than it did when you previewed it.
If you can’t find a free theme you like, there is also the option of purchasing a WordPress theme. There are thousands of gorgeous themes that can be purchased from between $30-$60. Some places you can purchase great themes are:
- Template Monster
- Woo Themes
There are two primary advantages to purchasing a theme. First, you can usually find exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the exact feel you want in a free theme, but you can almost always purchase one. Second, when you purchase a theme, you usually get direct support from the creator, which is really helpful if something goes wrong.
To install a theme you’ve purchased, download the files and leave them in .zip format. Then go to the main themes page again and select “Upload”.
Upload your theme
After uploading your theme, activate it like you did the free ones.
Changing The Title Of Your Blog
After installing your theme of choice, you’ll want to change the default title of your blog. Presumably, the title of your blog will somehow be connected to your web address.
To change the title, click “Settings — > General”.
Changing your site’s title
Both the title and the tagline usually appear in the header of your blog and let people know that they’ve come to the right place.
On the General Settings page you can also change how the date displays, the time zone you’re in, as well as a few other miscellaneous items.
Adding New Pages
You’ll also need to add some pages to your blog. You’ll want to add a bio page, a contact page, and any additional pages that you think would be helpful for your readers. Really, a page can be about whatever you want. This is YOUR blog!
It’s really simple to add a page.
In the sidebar in the WordPress Dashboard, click “Pages” -> “Add New”.
Adding a new page
Once you’ve created a new page, you can add text, images, videos, and anything else to create the page you want. When you’re finished, be sure to “Publish” it, so that it goes live on the Internet.
When you publish, what you’ve created becomes available to people who come to visit your blog.
A new page
Creating Blog Posts
The main thing you’ll be doing is creating blog posts. Thankfully, it’s really easy to add new ones.
Create a blog post by going to “Posts -> Add New”.
Once you’ve finished writing the post and adding images, create or add the correct category. You can create a new category by clicking on “Add New Category”. If you don’t add a category, it will automatically added to the category “Uncategorized”, which may be fine for you.
Adding a new post
Adding Plugins To Your Blog
Plugins are a great way to give your blog additional functions, and because so many people use WordPress, there are literally thousands of free plugins. Some of the features you can add are:
- Social media sharing buttons
- The ability to get email subscribers
- Cool galleries to display photos
- Utilities to speed up the load time of your site
- And a whole lot more
To add a plugin to your site, click Plugins on the left toolbar and then “Add New” up top.
Then search for the type of plugin you want. For example, if you want to add a floating social media share bar…
Search for plugins
Once you’ve found your plugin, click “Install Now”. Finally, click “Activate Plugin”.
Some plugins I’d recommend are:
- Jetpack (for simple dashboard stats)
- ShareThis (for sharing pages and posts)
- Yoast (for optimizing your site for search engines)
- Contact Form 7 (so visitors can email you)
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (for showing visitors related blog posts)
- Gallery (for photo galleries)
There are thousands of great plugins, but don’t go crazy. Activating too many plugins can slow down your blog and put off visitors.
Step Eight: Start Blogging
It’s finally time for you to get down to the business of blogging! One of the main things I see with new bloggers is that they begin with a burst, but gradually lose steam. Let me encourage you to keep at it.
There are some very important reasons to stay consistent.
- Your quality increases. When you first start blogging, your quality may not be the best. After all, you’re still learning how to do it! But the more you blog, the better you’ll get. You’ll be amazed at the quality of what you can create! So for the sake of quality, stick with it.
- You’ll get more traffic. People won’t come back to your blog again and again to look at the same blog posts. They’ll come back when you post something new. If you want to keep increasing the traffic on your blog, you need to stay consistent.
- You’ll rank higher in Google searches. Google rewards websites that consistently update. After all, Google knows that people are usually looking for the best, most recent content on any given subject. If you update your blog on a regular basis, you’ll rank much higher in Google searches.
One of the most important things a new blogger can do is set a schedule. Maybe you publish once a week, or maybe every other week day is more your speed. Create a schedule that works for your blog, and stick to it.
Step Nine: Get People Reading Your Posts
After you’ve created blog posts, you want people to read them! What’s the point of making something amazing if no one sees it? It’s time to get some eyeballs on those amazing blog posts! How can you skyrocket your web traffic? There are numerous ways…
Promote On Social Media
How many friends/followers do you have between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and all your other social networks? You can and should share your blog posts with them. It’s one of the easiest, cheapest ways to get people seeing your blog.
The good news is that there are a number of tools available to help you save time and schedule social media posts.
There are a number of these tools, including:
- Sprout Social
- And many more…
Create An Email List
Email is still one of the most effective ways to get your content in front of people. People are constantly bombarded by and ignoring notifications, but many people still pay attention to their inboxes. Building an email list can be a great way of promoting your blog and getting attention.
Comment In Online Forums
Online forums like Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo Answers are a good way to communicate with others who care about what you’ve created on your blog. Just be sure not to spam people with links. Add valuable information to the conversation, only inserting a link when it is natural and appropriate.
If people feel like you’re being self-promotional, they’ll tune you out and may even give you the boot.
Guest Post On Other Blogs
Guest posting allows you to speak to someone else’s audience. It gives you exposure outside of your circle of friends and readers. Consider reaching out to other blogs for guest post opportunities.
However, keep a few things in mind when emailing the owners of these sites.
- They’ll want something that is relevant to their blog. Don’t offer to write about something that they would never talk about. You may want to suggest a few relevant topics in the emails you send.
- Show them links to your best posts. They need to know that you’re a trustworthy voice who will speak to their audience.
Take the time to learn the name of the site owner. Don’t send blast emails that start with, “Dear blog owner.” That will turn them off quickly.
Step Ten: Keep At It
I feel like a broken record, but I’ll say this again: Keep at it!
Consistency is the key to winning the blogging game. As I mentioned earlier, so many start strong and then flame out after a bit. Those who keep at it week after week, month after month are the ones who have legitimate long term success. People will come back if you keep giving them great material.
As you keep going, here’s a few more things you may want to consider doing.
Get An Awesome Logo
Now that you’ve got an amazing blog, it’s time for you to get a great logo. A logo allows you to add your distinctive look, feel, and brand to your blog.
And guess what? You don’t need to be an awesome graphic designer to get a great logo. There are a number of inexpensive services you can use.
For as little as $5, you can have a graphic designer create a beautiful logo for you on Fiverr. The only caveat is that sometimes the designers on Fiverr don’t have much experience, so the quality of logo you receive from this site can be lacking. Make sure you read the reviews, and check out the samples if any are available.
You’ll pay more money on 99Designs, but the quality of your logo will be significantly better. Plus, you can get multiple designers to submit logos, then select your favorite.
Canva is an incredibly simple graphic design website that allows you to add text to graphics with just a few clicks. Even if you don’t use it for your logo, it’s a useful tool for adding images to your website.
Install Google Analytics
If you’re going to be a serious blogger, you need to use Google Analytics. It allows you to track and measure all the details about your blog including:
• How many people visit
• How long they stay
• What pages they visit most
• What country they’re from
• Which pages are performing best
• And much more
Analytics really is an essential tool for every serious blogger. It allows you to determine what’s working and what needs to improve.
It’s time for you to drop the mic and exit the building.
Don’t be gone long, because you need to keep building your blog, but you should be proud of yourself.
You, right now.
You now have a powerful, beautiful, engaging blog that loads of people will want to read. Are you feeling excited? The world is your oyster! You can blog about anything you want!
Be patient as you grow your blog. It takes time for people to find it. It takes time for you to get the feel for what readers want.
But you will succeed.
Nothing can stand in your way!