Starting a blog can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience, especially if you are a beginner. However, things are much easier when you know what to do, and that’s what we will help you achieve in this post. From there, you will then be able to take advantage of the ever-growing online market and audience to make money, share your story, and even gain recognition for your brand or business. Here’s how you can actually start a blog.
9 Steps to Start a Blog
Before You Start a Blog, Identify Your Audience
The first and perhaps most important part of starting a blog is understanding what you want it to be about. This is because blogs are all about the audience, and the content determines the audience.
One of the best ways to pick an audience is by choosing something you are passionate about. Here are several options:
- Hobbies: Cooking, fashion, travel, sports, cars, etc.
- Knowledge & Life Experiences: Sharing your knowledge with others, so they may be able to avoid or use the knowledge to resolve similar issues. Examples are marriage, family, wealth, etc.
- Your Brand: This can be a personal blog (your thoughts and ideas), or a blog related to your business.
- A Target Audience: You can also start by identifying a particular audience that you can benefit from affiliate selling and marketing, or even providing services.
From there, it’s time to pick a name for your blog.
Pick a Blog Name & Register Your Domain Name
The name you pick when you start a blog should reflect the content or the blog, or the audience. However, it doesn’t have to include the main keyword, but it’s advisable to include a related one. The blog name should go hand in hand with the domain name, which will be the address of your blog. This means you will be a little limited since there are millions of other registered blogs. To get one, you’ll need to be a little creative.
You will also need to verify it with a domain registration service. Be careful to find a domain registrar that suits you. Large companies like GoDaddy will have better upfront pricing, but small independent companies like Hover will often have better service & options. If you get one that’s available with the particular extension you want (.com is the most popular, but you can still use others depending on your niche), you can then go ahead and register it.
Get Your Blog Online
This is the part that scares most beginners when they start a blog, but hosting is not as hard as it sounds, or even as expensive as some fear. But first, it’s important to differentiate it from domain registration.
A domain registration company simply registers your domain. You can learn more about how domains work by reading this article about ICANN. Your web host usually stores the website on their servers. There are many hosting options available, and you should basically depend on what you want and what they offer. One of the most popular options is BlueHost, although there are other cheaper hosting services. For starters, many new businesses start with Shared WordPress Hosting. This plan is very easy to maintain, and on average, it will cost you about $3 a month.
Note: Some hosting providers also include a free domain when you buy a hosting plan and start a blog. You can choose to buy a hosting plan and keep everything under one roof, or you can first register your domain and buy a hosting plan when you are ready to start a blog.
If you haven’t really figured out what ideas work or what you want to do with the blog long term, you don’t even have to pay to get started – you can always grow with your blog. This will allow you to confirm your topic has potential, and you can test your ideas without having to fork out any of your hard-earned cash.
Here are two of the top free blogging platforms:
- WordPress.com: This is different from WordPress.org as it is a hosting platform rather than a CMS (discussed later). You will get a free subdomain, and you can upgrade to a full domain and pay to host later.
- Medium: If words are your craft, you can start with Medium. However, only certain topics do really well since it’s not a traditional blog.
Wix and Joomla (WordPress competitors) also offer free blogging, but for this guide, we’ll focus on the most popular platform, WordPress. It’s an excellent free blogging option since you will be able to upgrade and even migrate your WordPress site from WordPress.com to other hosting providers like BlueHost.
Point Your Domain Name to Your Host
After you get your domain name and a hosting provider, the next thing you need to do is connect the two. This will make it possible to access your site using the domain name you registered.
This process involves changing domain name servers from your domain registration company to the hosting company. Every hosting provider usually has different settings for this, and so you will need to check their help page for the details. In case of any trouble, you can always contact the host provider’s support team and get assistance. To make this process easier, you can register your domain with the hosting provider of choice.
Since you now have the perquisites sorted out, you can go ahead and start a blog! You will need to install a CMS that will help you create the site and manage content.
WordPress is essentially the best CMS you can use for a blog, and it is used by 65% of all CMS websites. Although there are a few competitors, those will just complicate the process, and they often won’t even provide the functionality and ease of use that WordPress offers.
Most hosting providers make it super easy to install WordPress on your site because of how popular it is. All you need to do is log into your web host, find the “install WordPress” option, and click it. From there, just follow the instructions and you’ll be good to go.
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Pick and Customize a WordPress Theme
The next thing you need to do is pick a layout for your website, otherwise known as a theme in the WordPress world. WordPress provides thousands of themes that you can choose from, and you can even choose a custom theme.
The themes available within WordPress are mostly free, although you can also choose to buy one. Nevertheless, you will be able to customize your theme to look the way you want. Besides that, you can change your theme at any time, which will alter the way your website looks, but it won’t affect the content. This means you shouldn’t worry much about the theme at this time.
You can choose one of the free themes available and then customize it to create your own blog. To edit your theme, log into WordPress at [yourdomain].com/wp-admin. You will see the “Appearance” option on the left-side menu. There are many tutorials you can find on how to customize your theme.
WordPress is open-source, something that makes it highly customizable. Once you have your website set up, the next thing should be adding extra functionalities through plugins. To do this, you don’t even need any coding.
However, you will need to know the plugins you need. Dumping addons on your website can make it slow or even open security vulnerabilities from abandoned addons. It is advisable to have no more than five to ten plugins that are really necessary for your website.
Hover over the plugins menu on the side and click “Add New.” Two plugins which should be installed on almost any site are:
- Askimet – Filters spam content.
- Yoast SEO – For Search Engine Optimization – Explained better in the next section.
To know other plugins that are necessary for your site, you can always do a quick search.
Optimize for SEO
By now, you should be set to go online. However, lacking search engine optimization (SEO) means people won’t easily find your blog, so what’s the whole point? To get started with the optimization, the first thing you’ll want to do is install Yoast SEO. This plugin will make your site as search-engine-friendly as possible by checking for keywords, allowing you to create metadata and change permalinks, etc.
Beyond that, go ahead and install Google Analytics. This is a free tool from Google that allows you to see all your web traffic data. You can see who’s coming to your site, how long they are sticking around, your most popular posts, etc. You can imagine the time you’ll see your first organic visitor and what they accessed!
The basis of your growth will be your content. Start creating ideas for new posts, and ensure you post regularly– consistency is key! Some bloggers post once a week, but two to three posts are advisable. Make sure the content is engaging enough to make your visitors come back and ensure it’s also of the right length. You can check out more tips for creating great content for your blog by reading the blog post Five Tips on How to Write a Great Blog Post.
Apart from that, you also need to ensure it’s in line with SEO. You can check out keywords you need to use, or even snoop on competitors. Finally, make the visitors stick by urging them to subscribe to your email list.
Ready to Start a Blog?
Creating a new blog isn’t as hard or costly as one might think. Actually, you only need less than an hour to get started. The guide above should help you get started. However, to grow your blog, you will need to learn more about the website and blog business to help you get things right. This will set you on the right path for earning from your blog, whether it’s through affiliates, info products, or even advertising!
I’m Mohammad Abid – I live in Karachi and love exploring the city, business, books, and the Internet. I work in marketing, have done quite a few things in my short career, have an incredible family, and prefer running my own website over a social media profile.