Have you been wondering how to start a blog? Did you have this as one of your 2018’s new year’s resolution? Well, why haven’t you started? Most people often are afraid and intimidated that they might mess up. Well, if this is you, today’s is the day when you get to start your own blog and how about crossing it off you’re your New year’s resolution! How cool is that!
5 years ago, I basically knew nothing about starting a blog. Many people told me that I had to be a coding tech guru to start my own blog. Well, that is not the case! With just basic computer skills, you are set to start. One time, I decided to just read online and try, and guess what, I started my own blog and now run a profitable blogging business, have a portfolio of high-end digital clientele and most important, I help people like you to start their success story through starting blogs. With a blog, you can travel anytime and work anywhere in the world, how cool is that!
Learning how to create a blog and blogging about things you are passionate about is liberating. The main reason why I created this blog post is to help you take a leap of faith and start your successful blog from scratch in less than a week, something that took me over a year to accomplish.
In this article, I will take you through how to start a blog in a stepwise manner, while exploring the attributes of a successful blog. For this, we recommend using WordPress which is great for beginners and offers an array of industry standards you will never go wrong with.
So, what are you waiting for, let us get down to it already.
What is a blog?
So, you want to start a blog, but you are asked, what is a blog anyway? Well, a blog is simply a kind of website that mainly focuses on written content. You can also refer to it as a blog post. Most popular to us are news blogs or celebrity blog posts. However, these are not the only kind of blogs. The truth is, you do not have to blog about news or celebrities to get high traffic on your website. You can blog on just about anything that you can possibly imagine. The only trick is to tailor your content for your target audience, period!
Most bloggers often write from their personal perspective so that they can easily connect with their target audience. A blog post has a comments section where your readers can respond to your content through questions, clarifications, follow ups among others. In other words, it allows you to interact with your readers and getting to understand what their thoughts are and their expectations as well. This way, you can keep tailoring your content to suit their needs.
It is through such direct connections that you get to enjoy the benefits of a blog. Such connections play a very key role in allowing you share ideas with people who have same ‘thought-process’ as you. This way, you are able to build trust with your target audience. It is important for you to realize the importance of this trust and loyalty as a pillar to helping you make money from your blog.
So then, why are starting a blog?
When I started my blog, so many people told me that I was not a great writer and so I cannot possible start a blog! Well, let me tell you, this isn’t true. Believe you me, what your readers are interested in is your perspective, and if you are able to do that in an informal yet conversational tone, you are good. You do not have to be an expert on your niche to have a successful blog. The last thing your readers want is to read a textbook from a doctor! If you are writing a health and fitness blog, share your experiences with your audience or those of a person that has actually struggled with health and body image and finally got it right!
Chances are, your readers are going through the same struggle and would want to hear what mistakes you made that they can avoid, and what techniques worked for you that they can borrow, period! Simply put, your blog should offer a solution to a problem your readers have been experiencing.
The biggest requirement to being a successful blogger is being passionate about what you write. At the heart of blogging, you are sharing the knowledge and experiences you have with the people reading your piece around the globe. Choosing a niche that you are passionate about makes it easier for you to start your blog that you can grow. So, you ask, can I write about more than one niche? Absolutely! The thing is, you have to write about things that you are interested in, are passionate about and have something valuable to share with your readers.
Why start a blog?
There are so many reasons why we blog. However, some of those that stand out include; Make money at the comfort of your home. Personally, I make my income blogging fulltime.
In fact, coming from a family of 5, 4 of us make our income blogging! You may be thinking, ‘blogging must be easy’. Well, the truth is, blogging is hard-work! However, it is accompanied by very few risks, low overhead costs and less barriers at the point of entry.
Blogging is very lucrative when done right. Some of the top-rated bloggers in the world earn a fortune from this. You can also start earning a good income from this whether you decide to go full-time or part-time. You can do this a few hours a week and earn a good passive income that will not only take care of your bills but will enable you set up a trust fund for your children or start that business you have been creaming about for a while.
Market your current business or company. Many people do not know that they can market their business through blogging. Well, if this is you, now you know! Through blogging, you get tons of followership of people who are interested in what you do earning you recognition in your field of expertise. You could be running a nail salon business and blog about trends in nail art. Many fashionistas and people who love their nails or would like to start such a business will read your content and hence promoting your business. So many people have also landed million dollar deals for their businesses through blogging. Start blogging today, you never know just who will be reading your content!
Become a published author. Today, most publishers prefer working with authors who have an online presence. You ask, but why? Well, it’s simple, it is easier selling books to people who already know who you are. One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve this is through blogging.
Sharing experiences. So many people have had tough experiences but managed to fight their way out of their problems. You may have been fighting cancer for the longest time possible or have lost a loved one and would like to share the pain and how you overcame the pain. Chances are, there are people out there who are going through the same pain as you. Through blogging, you can connect. You can raise your voice and be heard! You simply share your story and encourage someone who is struggling through the same. Many people also choose to write their daily diaries and share this with the world so that their friends, family and relations can be a part of their lives irrespective of the distance between them. Through sharing, you are simply building a community and an opportunity to learn from the world as well.
What is your reason for creating a blog? Whatever your reasons, the good news is that, we are in the internet and information age. There are millions of people online and you can take advantage of this online explosion to grow your business and connect with potential readers for your blog posts. In other words, if you want to start a blog, the best time is Now!
Let’s get started with a blog. Note that, for this blog post, we will be using Bluehost for our web hosting.
How to Start a Blog in 7 Steps
Learn how to start a blog in about 20 minutes following these steps:
Step 1: Choose a blog name
Step 2: Decide what to blog about
Step 3: Choose a blogging platform
Step 4: Choose a host
Step 5: Customize your blog
Step 6: Start building your site
Step 7: Write a blog post and publish
Let’s start your blog!
Step 1: Choose a blog name
The very first step in starting a blog is choosing a blog name. To get a good blog name, you first have to have in mind the kind of niche you are writing about. However, if you are not sure what to write about, you can classify your passion into the following categories; Life experiences, Hobbies, Passions and personal blogs etc. Once you have found a category that best suits your line of content, it is then time for you to choose the name.
When choosing a blog name, ensure that it is descriptive enough for your target audience to discern in the first instance what it is all about. If you are blogging about something specific, I would recommend that you use it in a way in the blog name. Don’t limit yourself to one word though. If you are blogging about cooking, you can feature such words as recipes, ingredients, food among others that simply lets your readers tell what you are talking about.
On the other hand, starting a personal blog where you interact and share experiences, stories and ideas with your readers, I would have recommended that you use part of your names or variations thereof. For instance, Extrapetite blog is aimed at discussing fashion trends for people who have small body size.
Once you have a blog name in mind, it is important for you to choose the appropriate domain extension. The most preferred one is .com. however, there are several others that you can choose and it works well such as .net or .org. Additionally, it is important to ensure that you do not have spaces in between names. For instance, the blog Extrapetite.com cannot be Extra petite.com. Wow! We have come a long way already and believe that you have learnt a lot so far. At this point, I believe you have a blog name and an extension. The next thing is to ascertain that it is unique and has not been used/registered by someone else. You can use Register.com, Namecheap.com or Name.com.
If the blog name that you have chosen is already, you can try a different domain extension, add small words such as ‘my’, ‘the’ among others, or you could also add dashes in between words.
Step 2: Decide what to blog about
Is your blog part of a company, business or organization? If so, ensure that you tailor your blog in such a manner that it is tied to the product or services you offer, or are promoting. On the contrary, if you are an individual, it is very flexible for you to choose what niche to go with. Whatever thing you decide, ensure that it is;
Something that you enjoy, it offers plenty of room to interact with the community or target audience through discussions, debates, and follow ups. In other words, ensure that you are choosing a niche in which you can establish yourself/voice as the authority. Well, of course you are not the first nor the only person talking about it, however, you can always ensure that you choose a unique angle to tackle the topic. The best way to ensure that you are not replicating what others are doing on the same topic is to research their content and strategy, identify gaps and be the one to fill those gaps. Essentially, your readers should see you as the go-to resource for your niche.
Step 3: Choose a blogging platform
When you want to cook, you have to have a kitchen to carry out the cooking. In the same way, now that you have a blog name and know what you would like to blog about, it is time to get a blogging platform. Today, there are so many platforms you can use such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger among others. However, just like I mentioned earlier, I recommend using WordPress. Not that I have anything against all the other platforms, but WordPress is user friendly for beginners.
Of course, all these blogging platforms have their pros and cons, but WordPress is the most popular of them all because of its flexibility, functionality and large user community who allow for people to share tools and ideas.
Well, personally, I use and recommend WordPress but NOT through WordPress.com. Are you lost? Don’t be. If you are choosing WordPress, you can either choose hosted or self-hosted. Hosted WordPress.com blogs often limit your income potential even if they are free!
On the other hand, self-hosted WordPress.org blogs, will cost you a little bit of money, but do not limit your income potential. So, here, we will use Bluehost as our host.
Let’s get down to it, shall we….
Step 4: Choose a host
Up to this point, I hope I have convinced you on the merits of WordPress. One more thing though, you have to understand that WordPress is just a downloadable software you can use. If you download WordPress to your computer, your blog will only be accessible to you. What I simply mean is that, with just WordPress, you cannot broadcast your blog online. You need a host.
A host is simply a server space provided by a hosting company. For the last 5 years, I have tried many hosts but the one that I have paid for and have not been disappointed is the Bluehost. By clicking on this link, you will have the window below on your screen.
Don’t worry if your screen does not have all features that the one above has. Bluehost is constantly doing site improvements and upgrades for better service delivery. Well, it may even be your lucky day if you catch them on sale!
Click on the get started button and you get the window below;
Personally, I recommend going with either plus or choice plus plans. Most preferably, you can choose choice plus because it offers privacy to your personal information. However, the only time you would skip checking the domain privacy box is when you use a business address that you would not mind it being visible to anyone looking up your domain. If you select the Prime package, the domain privacy is absolutely free. Once you have selected the plan to go with, you can now proceed to entering your domain name in the box below.
However, if you do not have a domain name ready, not to worry! Lucky for you, you can choose a free domain another time by clicking on the ‘Choose Free Domain Later’ tab below and receiving a FREE domain credit, how cool is that!
Whichever choice you make here, the next page will allow you to enter your account information. The most important thing for you to note is that you have to use a working email address. It is to this email address that login information is sent. Tip: Save your emails and passwords somewhere where you can refer to in future!
Once you have entered your account information, select an account plan that suits you. Ask yourself, how far in advance am I able to pay? The good thing with Bluehost is that you have the freedom of paying either 1,2,3, or 5 years upfront. You may be thinking, ‘other hosts offer monthly payment plans!’ Think twice! If you do the math, such hosts often charge twice or triple what you would have paid in a year if you paid once. With Bluehost, you get a reasonable payment plan with a very reasonable monthly amount. This is a great deal, right?
You can skip the extras at this point because you can easily add them later if need be. The total is the amount that you get to pay today and you will not have to pay until after your payment period elapses, and this depends on what plan you have chosen.
Finally, enter your billing information. Ensure that you have read and understood the terms and conditions, privacy statements, domain registration agreement and registrant rights and responsibilities before you check the box and submit the form.
Once your purchase is complete, it is time to create a password by clicking on the ‘Create your Password’ button and choosing a secure password.
It is this password that then allows you to successfully login to your account and get started with your blog.
Step 5: Customize your blog
- Download WordPress to your computer and login
If you do not already have a WordPress installed on your computer, you can download and get it installed within minutes. Once you have it successfully installed, click on the ‘Start Building’ button to login to your WordPress account.
If you are not certain of your login password, refer back to the email that was sent to you by Bluehost for more information.
- Skip the free themes
You might be wondering, why should I skip the free themes? Good question. The truth is that with Bluehost, you have the option of picking free themes immediately you login. I recommend that you skip this by clicking ‘skip this step’ at the very bottom of the window. Most of these free themes are outdated and they often leave holes that hackers can use to try and access your account. For now, I recommend that you stick with the premium themes that comes with pre-installed. You can use premium theme marketplaces like ThemeForest, StudioPress, ThemeIsle etc. Once you are set up, you will familiarize yourself better with WordPress and hence, have better understanding of the different themes you can use with your blog.
On the contrary, if you already have a theme on your computer that you would prefer using with your blog, simply click on the ‘Appearance’ tab on the left menu and then select ‘Add New’. Once you have your theme successfully installed click ‘Activate’ to make it active on your blog. To verify that your theme is activated, simply go to your blog and have a look. The most important thing to note is that, changing themes is one of the easiest way to customize your blog. However, there are lots of other ways available online that you can achieve this.
Step 6: Start building your site
You will notice that your site is on temporary domain at first. This should not worry you. The main reason is that most new domains take between 2 to 2 hours for the domain you chose to be fully registered. This should not stop you from going ahead with work on your site. Once your chosen domain is ready, Bluehost will switch it automatically.
By simply clicking the ‘Start Building’ button, you will automatically be taken to your new WordPress site as below.
As you can already see, the window comprises of a black column on your left and a white on the right. The black column represents your WordPress dashboard. On the right, I recommend that you skip the blue buttons (Business and Personal). Click on ‘I don’t need help’ right below the blue buttons. The main reason is just so that you can begin on a very clean slate.
Step 7: Write a blog post and publish
Congratulations, you now have a self-hosted WordPress blog site. But what is a blog without the actual blogging? Let’s get down to it then. On your WordPress window, select and click on ‘Posts’ tab on the left menu. You will realize that there is already a default blog post there. Just delete it by clicking ‘Trash’ button under the post.
To begin a new blog, I always advice that you type you content on word, do editing and proofreading before you copy and paste the content onto the blog and posting it. Additionally, if you wish to add a picture to your post, click on ‘Add media’ button and ‘select files’ you would like to upload from your computer. Always ensure that the size of the picture is well adjusted to fit well onto the blog post. You can make these adjustments on the next screen and once the picture image is ready, click on the ‘Insert into post’ button to add the picture. Once you are done preparing your post, click ‘Publish’ on the right side of your screen. Once you publish your blog, you may want to click on the ‘Bluehost’ menu and then select the Launch button so that you remove the ‘Coming Soon’ page.
So far, you have done really well. But the question you should ask yourself is, ‘how I create successful posts that will drive traffic to my blog?’ Well, first off, you have to ensure that you define what success is to you and ensure that you come up with clear metrics. For some people, success may be measured by the income the blog generates, others it is the monthly subscribers, site visitors or community engagements. Whatever your metric is, it is very important for you to articulate what you intend to get out of your blogging and let that be your guiding principle.
Attributes of a successful blogs
Consistency and quality content: did you know that marketing content is one of the fastest growing multi-billion-dollar industries? Having that in mind, it is important that you ensure your blog post is of high quality and is consistent throughout. This ensures that you stand out in your niche because your users will definitely find real value in the information you offer them. Additionally, ensure that you use a consistent schedule. This means that, if you are posting every Monday and Wednesday, let it be just that! This is very important in helping your users/readers create a ritual for consumption of your content!
Insatiability: you may be thinking, ‘what the heavens is that?’ Well, let’s shift our minds to music for a second. Can you ever get to a point in your life that you can say you have had enough of it? Definitely not, right? In the same way, blog posts possess a similar feature. The truth is, you just can’t have enough of it. Reading something that you love is something that will always be with you no matter what. You can never get to a point where you can say you are 100% satisfied. If you tap on this feature, you will always have your readers coming back for more!
Amazing design and user experience: when you read something, how long does your attention span last? What keeps you overstimulated? Different people have different attention spans and need to be constantly stimulated. In the same way, you have to ensure that you take advantage of creativity, media and design to create a very engaging and captivating consumer experience. To achieve this, you can use a number of available tools such as the Headline Analyzer to help you create captivating headlines, Hemingway App to get through writing successfully and others like Shutterstock, Pexels and Unsplash for high quality pictures and videos.
Maintaining an engaged community: One of the most important noteworthy features of a successful blog is the sense of creating a well engaged community. This is a value that large organizations such as Facebook understands and leverages that need to belong in growing the business. In order to foster a strong sense of community, you have to have a higher sense of purpose and motivation to impact on people’s lives through content creation. When you create very engaging content that adds value to the lives of your readers. In so doing, you will create a tribe of loyal enthusiast that will contribute significantly to the growth and success of your blog.
How to start a blog is a question that many people ask all the time. Starting a blog is something that is easy and straightforward. Now that you have learnt how to start a blog and publish your first blog post, it is important that you keep yourself abreast with new technological changes such as in WordPress and Bluehost. This way, you will have a good understanding of the basics and adjusting the settings. Always ensure that you have your about page written well to attract your readers. Also, remember that your content is what will determine whether your readers will keep coming for more or not! Write high quality content and post consistently. Always bear in mind that your goal is to become the go-to resource in your niche. Once you have grasped the basics on how to start a blog and publish excellent blog posts, start working on dabbling on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook among others. If you do that, I promise you, you will achieve above and beyond your expectations!