So you’re thinking to start a blog. Great for you!
My how to start a blog guide will walk you through the basics of starting a blog and everything that you need to know in order to have your blog live in no-time.
Before we dive into specifics, I want to say that this guide is for you if you are planning to start a blog and make money with it.
If you want to blog just for fun, without any intention of making money from your blog, maybe you should consider the free WordPress blogging platform, Tumblr or any other similar platforms.
Also, you should know that making money with a blog takes time. I personally started making money from my blog after 7 months.
While it might seem long when you are just starting, having a blog is definitely worth it and if you are consistent in putting the work and learning, you will for sure make money with your blog.
How to start a blog in 2020
Start a blog by following these steps:
Pick a niche
Ok, this is a controversial topic. Many bloggers out there advise that you pick a blog niche because only then you’ll be able to make a lot of money. I agree with this to a certain extent.
While it’s true you need to have some sort of focus because then your audience will be more engaged, if you look at some of the most successful bloggers out there, they all cover several topics, not just one.
Here are some niches and sub-niches that you can consider:
- Finance: personal finance, living frugally, FIRE movement, how to make money
- Travel: how to travel on a budget, how to travel and make money, country/region guides, and tips
- Health: yoga, diets, weight loss tips, fitness, workout.
- DIY: home decorations, organizers
- Home décor/interior design
- Home organization: how to organize small spaces, kitchens, and closets
- Mommy blog: anything related to babies, toddlers, kids
- Career: career tips, job interview tips, career change, job trends
- Fashion: beauty, clothes
Ideally, you should pick a niche that you enjoy and are good at. This way, you’ll never run out of topics to write about.
Another thing you need to know is that you don’t need to be an expert on a specific topic. You just need to have enough knowledge and experience that others can find valuable and learn from it.
A great tip to set you up for success before you even start a blog is to define the audience that you would like to speak to. This means finding out what this audience’s pain points are and how can you solve them with your blog.
For example, let’s say you have a lot of travel knowledge and the destinations you traveled to are known for backpackers. Your audience is millennials traveling on a budget so you might want to write about hostels or budget hotels in that country/city, when is the best time to travel to get great deals, places that you can visit for free, etc. You get the point.
While it’s great to want to share your knowledge and experience, unless you are providing a solution to your reader’s problem, most probably nobody would read your blog. Unless you are Oprah, and I guess you are not J.
The best advice that I can give you is to write about 5 articles and see where it will lead you. You might find that you are not enjoying writing about that topic and might want to write about something else.
This is a mistake I’ve done and I strongly recommend you follow my advice so that you don’t do the same mistake when you start a blog.
Pick a name
While this seems like a relatively easy task, it’s quite challenging.
What you need to keep in mind when picking a name for your blog is your topic. Also, if you followed my advice regarding writing several articles before anything, you might find that you wish to cover several topics on your blog, which means that you need to pick a blog name that won’t be very restricting.
You can even consider using your own name. In any case, make sure your blog name is not too long.
Another thing you need to avoid is using special characters or hyphens “-“. They can be confusing.
And last but not least, aim to get a .com domain. It’s the most professional and you can literally speak to everyone in the world.
Pick a hosting
What is hosting anyway and why do I need it to start a blog?
Hosting is a virtual parking place, where you can park your blog or website in exchange for a monthly or annual fee.
If you are looking to start a blog and make money with it, you absolutely need to get hosting for your blog.
This way, you own your blog and nothing can happen to it, as opposed to free blogging platforms, where you don’t own your blog or its content and if those platforms cease to exist, so will your blog.
The great thing with hosting your blog independently is that even if that hosting company will go bankrupt (which I doubt), you can move your blog to another hosting company (parking place) whenever you want.
Another great thing about being self-hosted is that there are basically limitless opportunities to make money with a blog, as opposed to free platforms (which can be very restrictive in terms of monetizing a blog) and besides, most brands or ad providers do require a blog to be self-hosted in order to collaborate.
While there are many hosting companies out there, the leading ones and the ones that 90% of the bloggers use and recommend are Bluehost and Siteground.
While I know that they are equally great, according to bloggers who have used both, I personally have been with Bluehost since day 1 and I couldn’t be happier with their prices, services, and uptime (uptime means the total time your blog is live), which in my case with Bluehost my up time was 100% to date.
I never had any problems and you should consider that when picking hosting for your blog. You don’t want a hosting provider that has anything less than 100% uptime.
Now, if you decide to go ahead and purchase hosting from Bluehost in order to start your blog, this is very easy and it will take just 5 minutes.
After this, you’ll be ready to set up your blog with just a few clicks, thanks to the user-friendly interface of Bluehost.
Also, the great thing about Bluehost is that it comes with a free domain name for one year, which comes handy when you start a blog and have several investments you want to make.
Bluehost also provides a free SSL certificate which you need to make your blog secured for later on when you are collecting email addresses and other information from your visitors and also free WordPress themes, which we will discuss during the next step.
Go to the Bluehost website here and click on Get Started.
After you click on Get Started you will be directed to the hosting plans page where you will have 4 options:
- Choice Plus
The recommended plan is Choice Plus, which comes at $5.95/month, although you can start with the basic one and upgrade after a year.
Depending on which Bluehost plan you choose, you will pay either $47.4/year or$71.4/year which is pretty great if you think about it, start your own business for less than $100 per year.
Now you will need to choose your domain, which, as I mentioned, comes for free with Bluehost.
Don’t forget the earlier tips on how to pick a name for your blog. Make sure you get a .com domain.
Once you find a great name for your blog, press next. Here you will need to fill in your account information and package information.
You will see that you can choose between getting a plan for 1, 2 or 3 years. If you get it for 3 years, you’ll be able to unlock the $5.95/month, which is a great deal. Otherwise, if you only purchase it for one year, your monthly cost will be $7.95.
After choosing the package information, next is Package Extras.
While you don’t need most of the extra services, I strongly suggest you get the Sitelock Security Find. This is why it’s important and what you will get with it.
Next, fill in your information and payment details and you’re done with purchasing your Bluehost hosting. Congrats! You are one step closer in your journey to start a blog.
Now sign in to your Bluehost account and from there, log in to WordPress.
Pick a WordPress theme
As mentioned earlier, the great thing about Bluehost is that it comes with several free WordPress themes.
What is a WordPress theme?
In an easy way, a WordPress theme is how your blog or website is going to look like. Here are some WordPress themes that are available with your Bluehost plan.
You can preview all of them for a better understanding of how each is going to look like and if it fits your needs and after you decide on one WordPress theme you can just click Activate and voila, your blog is ready!
WordPress is the number one CMS (Content Management System) recommended by bloggers everywhere. It’s amazing because it gives you full freedom to customize your blog in any way you want.
If you don’t know yet how you want your blog to look like, you can check other blogs out and get inspiration from there.
If the free available themes do not meet your requirements, you can always purchase a premium WordPress theme.
I Purchased the Ashe Pro Theme from WP Royal and I couldn’t be happier. They have several themes, all with a very modern and fresh look, perfect for bloggers.
The biggest pro to WP Royal themes is that they are built having SEO in mind (we’ll get to that later) and they are fully responsive, meaning they will look great on desktop, mobile, and tablet, without you having to do any extra work.
Besides the fact that Ashe Pro comes with 14 built-in predefined styles, it is also a very affordable theme at just $29 (lifetime license).
Alright! So you have a hosting and a great theme.
Next, you will need to install some plugins to make your blog fully functional and professional.
What are WordPress plugins?
The WordPress plugins are small pieces of software that you can install on your blog in order to add new features.
You are already signed into your WordPress account where you can see your dashboard on the left.
From the Dashboard ->select plugins -> add new.
On the upper right corner, you will be able to search for plugins. WordPress offers thousands of free plugins, which basically enables you to customize your blog in whichever way you want.
Here is a list of plugins that you will need as soon as you start a blog:
- Yoast SEO: to SEO optimize all your blog posts from day 1
- Akismet: to protect your blog from hackers and spam
- Google Analytics: to keep track of your blog traffic
- Elementor: to customize your pages
- Social Warfare: to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts
- Short Pixel Image Optimizer: to shrink your blog pictures in order to have a fast blog
- WP last Modified Info: although not mandatory, this plugin shows when a blog post was first posted and last modified which is very useful for readers looking for updated information.
All these plugins are free and easy to install with two clicks: Install now -> Activate.
Set up your pages and categories
All WordPress themes come with sample pages for About, Privacy and Contact.
You can just customize the existing ones with your own text. Again, if you don’t know what to include in these pages, just get inspiration from other bloggers.
In order to customize or to create new pages, go in your Dashboard -> Pages.
These pages are very important if you are planning to monetize your blog with ads. Most ad providers require a blog to have About Me, Privacy and Contact pages.
It’s better to write and publish them from the beginning. Whatever changes you’d like to make later on, it’s possible.
Now let’s create new categories for your brand new blog. You will find the categories under Posts.
You can always add categories along the way so you don’t need to spend that much time on this now.
Customize your WordPress theme
Now, after you’re all set up in the backend of your blog (WordPress dashboard), it’s time to customize your frontend (how your visitors see your blog).
From the WordPress dashboard, you can either click directly on the Customize your Site or you can hover on Appearance and click Customize.
This will take you to your theme’s customization dashboard, which will show how your blog looks like in real-time, as soon as you make any changes.
In this dashboard, you will be able to customize the colors, fonts, general layouts and, well… anything related to your blog’s design.
If you are using Ashe Pro theme and have difficulties getting started, drop me a comment or send me an email and I’d be more than happy to help.
Whichever changes you make, don’t forget to hit publish on the upper left corner before you leave the page. Pressing X will take you back to the WordPress backend dashboard.
Create your first post
You are finally ready to create and publish your first blog post for everyone to see! Yay!
One of the keys to achieving success as a blogger is working with SEO in mind.
SEO means Search Engine Optimization and whichever piece of content you are putting out there, you should optimize it for Google.
With the help of the Yoast SEO plugin, which you have installed earlier, and with this article on SEO for beginners, you should rock SEO in no time.
Follow my steps on how to do on-page SEO optimization for each blog post if you don’t know where to start.
Promote your blog on social media
As a new blogger, until you will start showing on the first page of Google, which can take up to 6 months, by the way, social media will be your best friend.
If you don’t want to invest in sponsored ads on Facebook and Instagram, which I totally understand, you should start learning Pinterest.
Yes, you heard that right. Pinterest is a new blogger’s best friend and even 6 figure bloggers out there rely heavily on Pinterest.
I get 60% of my monthly traffic from Pinterest and this is what helped me get accepted into ad programs and finally start making money with my blog.
Take a look at how to use Pinterest to get traffic to your new blog and also this guide on how to create beautiful visuals for Pinterest.
I hope my guide on how to start a blog will help you prepare to become a successful blogger.