So you want to be a blogger, huh? Excellent idea!
With the world going digital a lot faster that originally planned, the opportunities for cashing-in online are practically endless! And if you already are a word-slinger, then you have about 90% of the necessary skills to get successful with blog writing.
Of course, between the point of desire and the point of realisation, there is quite a distance to be covered, which for blogging newbies can seem fairly overwhelming. And since the problem with information nowadays is not so much the lack of it, but mostly filtering its endless sources, it can seem too confusing to even begin with.
Where do I start? Whose advice should I take? What does all this technical jargon mean? Is it even worth all the hustle?
I get it! Your brain automatically generates excuses to avoid the trouble of dealing with something so baffling.
The truth is, every successful blogger has gone through this stage and even popular influencers had a starting point. You can postpone all you want, but deep down you know that one step at a time is better than no step at all.
As a beginner, you might want to approach things in stages to simplify the process.
And that’s where I come in!
In this article I will show you how to start a blog from scratch in 8 steps and I promise it will be easy, simple and with no demands towards your online experience.
Now, before we get started, just so that I can wipe out any doubts you might have and inject some enthusiasm in your venture, here are a few reasons why having a blog is a good idea and why the best time to start one is now.
Five reasons you should join the blogging community
1. Easy source of extra income
Monetising your blog is possible once you have reached an adequate amount of readers. It takes most bloggers between 18 months to 2,5 years to start making the big bucks and in some cases even make a living from blogging. It’s important to set out with the right expectations and not give up after just a few months. Blogging is a relatively easy way to earn a passive income when you get a firm grip on it and as your traffic numbers increase over time.
2. A door to new opportunities
Blogs are a great tool to self-promote and establish yourself as an expert in something you are passionate about. What’s more, Google absolutely loves blogs so you will be getting more visitors from search engines, one of whom could be a potential client or business partner. You’d be surprised how many employers contact blog owners directly for collab ventures or look for candidates with blogs, where they openly express their views and experiences.
3. Improved writing skills
The more you practise blog writing, the better your communication and argumentation skills will get. And because blogs are more personal, you will think more intentionally on what your writing says about you and the messages you are trying to deliver. Ultimately, your blog will give you a much stronger push to connect with your readers than writing gigs for other people’s audiences would, and will help you become an impactful writer.
4. You become an influencer
Besides being a huge ‘plus’ for your writing image, blogging actually gives you a voice that you can use to share your knowledge and information on certain topics. You get the chance to provide people with ideas, help and solutions to their problems or even change the world in your own way, by pointing out things that you don’t like. Furthermore, having an audience that values and respects your opinions is incredibly rewarding.
5. Today is the day!
Consider yourself lucky for pondering on starting a blog in 2020 and not in 2010. Like everything else in the digital world, blogging has evolved incredibly, especially during the last decade. While first blogs were usually hand-coded, today there is literally a whole industry of blogging tools that make the process more accessible and facilitated than ever. And with the rising interest in blogs both from consumers and companies, the best time to set up your blog and dedicate the right amount of time on making it profitable is now!
Alright, now let’s roll our sleeves up and get your blog up and running!
Get Started with Blog Writing in 8 Steps
Something that I like to refer to as step 0 is specifying on a topic before creating your blog. When you niche-down, you gain authority and loyal readers that know what to expect from your content. Make a list of topics that you can cover in-depth and decide on a niche–or even better a less competitive sub-niche-that will be a natural fit for you. If you have no clue what you should write about, check out this list of profitable niches in 2020 for some inspiration.
Now let’s dive into the technical part and bring your blog to life!
Choose a Domain Name
A domain name is the online address (URL) that people type or click on to access your blog, followed by a suffix like .com, .net, .co.uk, .org etc. It’s also the location where your content and hosting is stored and it represents your online identity, so it has to indicate your blog’s purpose.
You generally want to choose a domain name that’s catchy, easy to spell and somewhat creative, as most domain names have already been registered. A popular option is simply registering your name. Alternatively, you can run a quick check at this link to see if your domain name is available.
Choose a Superior Web Host
Web hosting is the service that stores your blog’s information and content online and makes it accessible from anywhere in the world. Therefore, choosing a high-quality, reliable web host is crucial. The last thing you want is waking up one beautiful morning to find your blog’s been taken down for technical reasons.
Hence, you should look for a popular web host with superior uptime, 24/7 technical support and preferably a money-back guarantee period. The most recommended ones are Bluehost and Hostgator, which come with various packages and additional benefits, such as free domain name, immediate access to WordPress etc.
Disclaimer: If you were considering sparing your pocket by getting a free hosted blog from WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr let me just give you some discouraging facts: First of all, you wouldn’t really own your blog, as free blogs are hosted in online platforms owned by someone else and they can get deleted at any time. What’s more, you would have limited bandwidth for uploading photos, videos or content and no access to the free WordPress themes. Worse still, you wouldn’t get your own domain name – extensions would be .wordpress.com/.tumblr.com, which looks quite amateur and unprofessional – nor would you be able to fully monetise it in the future. If you are serious about blog writing, consider those few bucks per month an investment towards the ownership of your brand.
Choose a Blogging Platform
When it comes to content management systems, the majority-over 82 million active users to be exact-prefer WordPress. It is by far the most extensively used blogging platform worldwide and offers numerous add-ons, themes and layout options for your blog. Its easy set-up, excellent functionality, content shareability and massive support panel are just a few features WordPress users swear by. Did I also mention it’s free?
Other alternatives include the above-mentioned Blogger and Tumblr, or you can check this article for a bigger list of options.
Customising your WordPress blog
We’ll continue the steps on the assumption that you chose WordPress, as it is hands down the best platform and most hosting companies, if not all, have a direct ‘click-to-install’ button on their admin panel.
And this is where the fun part begins!
Customising your blog to look exactly the way you want begins with a theme of your choice. Whether you choose a funky or professional layout, make sure your blog’s design reflects your personality and the topic you’re focused on, while making it easy for your readers to navigate.
You can install one of the thousands free WordPress themes or you can pay between $50-$100 for a premium one. If you feel like investing a bit more in a pro-looking theme, you can use services such as Fiverr, ThemeForest, StudioPress, Divi or Elementor.
As a new blogger, you want to initially focus more on writing good content to attract readers. You can-and probably will-change your blog’s theme several times in the long run, so don’t sweat it!
Remember to also change the title and tagline to match the topic of your blog, as they will be set by default to ‘My Blog’.
Create Header, basic pages and widgets
A nicely organised Header will help your readers navigate smoothly and explore your site’s contents easily.
All you have to do is go to the ‘Appearance’ Menu and click on ‘Customise’. Depending on your chosen theme, you’ll be able to experiment with fonts, colors, sizes etc.
Then you need to create your basic pages by going to ‘Pages’ and clicking ‘Add new’. To add them in the header you click on ‘Menus’ under ‘Appearance’ and select the ones that you want to appear on the top of your blog, such as Home, About, Blog, Contact etc.
To make your site even more user-friendly you can install widgets for your sidebar, such as Facebook like boxes, galleries, popular posts etc.
Installing basic plug-ins
Next you need to install some add-ons that will improve your blog’s functionality.
There are literally thousands of plug-ins in the WordPress platform to fill in the missing pieces. Just remember that installing too many might slow down your website, so don’t overdo it and narrow down your choice to the ones you need.
Here are a few must-have plug-ins for new blogs:
Jetpack - Offers enhanced security, social sharing, spam-free comments, related post features etc.
Hubspot - Helps you build and categorise your contact database, as well as personalise emails using any CRM property and track campaign progress through built-in analytics. Also includes live chat and bot builder, enhancing reader engagement.
All in one SEO pack - Allows you to rank for specific keywords and better position your blog in search engines, ultimately leading to a bigger readership.
UpdraftPlus - Creates regular backups and stores them in your data-storage service, such as Google drive. Also, if you mess something up or your site gets hacked, you can restore the previous working version.
Install Google Analytics
Although there are plug-ins you can use to track your blog’s visitor numbers, you need a reliable source for your traffic performance.
Through your Gmail account you can directly log into Google Analytics and receive a tracking code at the end of the set-up process. Once you have that code, you enter and save it into the settings of the SEO plug-in you have previously installed to allow Google analytics to start collecting data.
Start posting content and monetise your blog
Congratulations, you are finally ready to start posting your work!
Remember that your content will lay a solid foundation for your blog’s success, so aim to write at least 3-4 articles per week and attract a loyal audience. Focus on exciting topics and build top-notch articles around commonly searched keywords.
Once your blog gets steady traffic-at least 1000 visitors per month is a good start-you can start thinking about monetisation strategies. You could try display advertising, affiliate marketing, offering your professional services for company blogs etc.
The key to a blog’s success is persistence and discipline. If you treat your blog as a hobby, that’s exactly what it will remain-a creative way for you to spend your spare time on. When you get started with blog writing set clear goals from the beginning and aim high with your writing. Read as many articles as you can about blogging and apply tips and advice. As you evolve, so will your blog and over time your efforts will be rewarded.
The bigger the step out of your comfort zone, the more your future career prospects!