Are you thinking to start a blog and don’t know what you should do first?
Then this is for you.
There are more questions that pop up when you are first starting a blog. What to do before beginning? What is the best site to start a blog on? How to create a successful blog?
The purpose of this guide is to help you create a map of what you need to consider before starting a blog, the decisions you have to make, and the steps you’ll need to follow so you can put everything into a perspective.
By the end of the post, you will know what you have to do in order to get started with your blogging journey.
Let’s get to it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Can you start a blog for free?
- Know your plan
- How are you going to make money with your blog?
- Choose your blog niche
- Pick the domain name
- Choose a hosting service
- Pick the blogging platform (CMS)
- Choose a theme
- Brand your blog
- Create a plan
- Have the right mindset
- Find the right tools
- Learn SEO
1. Can you start a blog for free?
Isn’t that what most people are thinking when wanting to start blogging?
I know it is.
The answer is both yes and no.
You can start a free blog if you opt for a free blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.
But if you are serious about blogging, you need a small investment at first.
Yes. You do need to invest in a domain and a hosting service.
While there are free blogging platforms out there where you can start a blog right away, you won’t be able to monetize your blogging there.
Not to mention that awesomeness.blogginplatform.com doesn’t sound too sexy either.
I want to guide you on how to start a successful blog so you can make money blogging and for this, a free blogging platform is out of the question.
2. Know your plan
Why do you want to start blogging?
There are more reasons behind starting your own blog and you should know from the beginning what you plan to do with it.
I’m not saying you should know each detail. I’m just saying that you should have a clear idea on what’s the purpose of the blog because it influences some of the decisions you’ll need to make in the following steps.
- You want to make money blogging – If that’s the case, then you can’t really on free blogging platforms to do the job. You’ll have to invest in hosting and domain like I mentioned above.
- To grow your business – If your business is already online and you want to create a blog so you attract more clients to your products or services, the process is easier. You already have a website. And the blog will be a separate section on the site so no additional hosting or domain services are required.
- Blogging out of passion – If all you want is write about the things you are interested in, developing your blogging skills, and you don’t consider making money with your blog, then you can start a free blog on WordPress or Blogger.
3. How are you going to make money with your blog?
I know, I know. You didn’t even get your blog started yet.
So why are we already talking about money?
You don’t start a business without knowing what you’re trying to sell or offer to people so you make a profit, right?
The same goes for a blog.
Because a blog is no different than a business. It is a business.
And many of the decisions you need to make are depending on the way you’ll be monetizing.
You don’t need to already have everything planned and ready to go even before starting your blog. But it’s best to have an idea about what you’re aiming towards.
The best ways to monetize a blog
- Advertising – You can start earning money with ads even when your blog is small and it can be quite profitable. The downside is that, in the long run, the ads might push your audience away.
- Affiliates – This is one of the easiest ways to make money with a blog, even with a small blog. If you choose high-quality products that match your audiences need, this approach can be highly profitable and easy to apply.
- Digital products – Selling your own digital products is an amazing way to monetize your blog. The biggest advantage is that you are in total control over the product you’re offering and you can keep improving its quality over time. And you have the opportunity to offer a variety of products from templates, printables, and e-books, to apps and courses.
- Services – Offering services is a great way to take advantage of the skills you mastered that can help out other people. The downside is that offering services also calls for investing more time into it.
- Memberships – This means you’ll have exclusive content and resources open just to the people willing to pay a membership fee, usually on a monthly basis. Take as an example Medium.
The niche you choose to blog about is dependent on the way you want to monetize your blog. As you’ll see in the following section.
4. Choose your blog niche
What’s your blog going to be about?
If you blog out of pure passion without thinking about making money with your blog, then you probably know what you want to blog about.
The same goes for starting a blog to promote your business. Your business already knows its niche.
But if you’re thinking about starting a blog so you can make money blogging, then you must give it a little thought before you jump into a random niche.
It’s true that you can make money in any niche if you get to know your audience good enough and you can come up with solutions to their problems.
This doesn’t mean that some niches aren’t more profitable than others. Or easier to get into as a newbie blogger.
A couple of important things to consider when you’re looking for a profitable blog niche
- It’s a demanded topic – So you can build an audience and make money with your blog, there must be people looking for the topics you are covering.
- You can offer solutions to problems – A successful blog is a valuable resource of information and solutions for the audience it targets. Get to know what are the problems people in your desired niche needs solving.
- People are looking to pay for solutions – You can’t make money with a blog if your audience is not willing to pay a dime for a solution to their problems. Make sure that the niche you want to get into allows you the opportunity to offer products.
- It matches your plans – There are more ways of making money with a blog, as I stated earlier. Does a blog in the niche you’re considering allow you to monetize the way you want? If you want to sell ebooks, for example, you can’t pick a blog niche where people are not looking to buy ebooks.
- You have an interest in the niche – The ideal scenario is that the niche you choose for your blog is one of the passions you have. But even if it’s not one of your biggest passions, make sure you enjoy it. Are you interested in learning more about the topic? Can you keep writing about the topic for years without getting bored?
To see what the demand is in a certain niche and what solutions people are looking for, do a market research on:
- Niche forums
- Facebook Groups
The most profitable blog niches
- Fashion and beauty
- Health and fitness
- Making money
These are the key aspects you should consider when you decide what your new blog is going to be about.
We have an in detail guide on how to choose a profitable blog niche you should check out before deciding.
5. Pick the domain name
Once you decided what your blog is going to be about, it’s time to put a name on it.
The name is important because it’s what people will associate with your blog.
Things to consider when choosing a domain for your blog
- Make them remember it – You want people to remember your domain so they can refer back to your blog when they are looking for answers related to your blog’s niche.
- Make it readable – Maybe the most important aspect of a good domain is for it to be readable. People won’t remember something they can’t read out loud. And a hard to read name will also make it hard for you to advertise the blog in audio formats.
- Keep it short enough – You don’t want something that’s five words long. Long domains are also hard to remember and inconvenient to search for.
- Make it fun – Use wordplays, rhymes, puns. They make it for memorable domain names.
- Keep it relevant – If the domain signals the topic of your blog, it will draw more attention and generate more clicks. In addition, it’s a good SEO practice to have your keywords in the domain.
Some quick tips to brainstorm a domain name
- Think about words related to your niche
- Think about words that your audience can relate to
- Consider how you want your audience to feel on your blog
- Use PowerThesaurus to find synonyms for words
- Write down any words that come to your mind than mix them around without stressing about quality. It’s a powerful way to brainstorm and trigger ideas.
Username generators to get ideas pumping
Check the domain availability
Before you set your blog name in stone, you want to check its availability not only for the domain but also for the social media networks.
You’ll be using social media to promote your blog, and ideally, you’ll be able to get the same username overall.
You can use Namechk for this matter. It will show you the domains your username is available on along with all the social media platforms.
How to register your domain name
There are two ways you can register the domain name for your blog:
- Individually from the hosting service through a domain name registar
- Through a web hosting service that provides free domains registration with your hosting package
There are more hosting services that offer you a free domain for a year when you register for their services. After a year, you’ll have to renew your plan, usually by paying an annual fee.
For more details on how to register your domain name and the advantages /disadvantages of the two approaches, you can refer to this post.
6. Choose a hosting service
The hosting service is crucial for your blog because it influences the way your blog will behave.
A poor web hosting service will cause your blog to run slowly and might even cause it to crash.
And, if your blog goes offline frequently because of the web hosting, your Google rankings will be affected.
There are four main types of hosting services
- Shared hosting – It means that your blog is hosted on the same server as many others. Is the cheapest web hosting solution.
- VPN hosting – You share the same server with other websites, but you have your own space. Meaning that if your site crashes, it wasn’t because of other sites.
- Dedicated hosting – Your blog has its own server to live on, meaning the speed will be higher.
- Cloud hosting – With cloud hosting your blog doesn’t rely solely on a server, but on more. Meaning that the site will never go offline.
Some of the best web hosting services
A shared web hosting service is enough to start a blog, as there is not much traffic involved and also not a huge amount of data to be stored.
While dedicated and cloud hosting offer the best features, they are also a lot more expensive.
What to look for in a web hosting service
- An easy process to install (Bluehost integrates with WordPress with just one click)
For more about web hosting read our guide:
7. Pick the blogging platform (CMS)
There are more blogging platforms where you can start your blog. And which is the best for you, depends on a variety of factors.
- For new bloggers, it’s important that the platform doesn’t require coding skills.
- It’s flexible enough so you can add more features to your blog in the future.
The best blogging platforms
- WordPress.org – It’s the most popular blogging platform out there because of its features and the huge library of plugins and themes it has to offer. It’s the most flexible blogging platform.
- Wix – It’s an easy to use website builder. Everything is done through drag and drop and no coding skills are required.
- Squarespace – Although it’s an easy to use website building platform, you’re limited to 20 pages, a blog, and 2 contributors for the personal plan.
- Joomla – It’s a self-hosted platform (you need a domain and hosting) which is as powerful as WordPress. The downside is there are fewer themes and apps than for the former.
- Ghost – If you want something simple and clutter free, this is the way to go. Ghost focuses more on blog posts writing and less on customizing options. Meaning that you’re limited in options.
Before deciding on the blogging platform, think about what features you want on your blog.
If you want to take advantage of plugins, many options for themes, and you want to further personalize your blog, then WordPress.org is the way to go.
If you want something simple, clean and don’t care about personalization too much, then other options are easier to use and might simplify your blogging process.
8. Choose a theme
You can opt for a free theme (WordPress got tons of those) or you can buy a more professional theme. It’s up to you and your needs.
There are a lot of high-quality free themes that are enough for a new blog.
I actually suggest you go with a free theme at first, especially if you don’t have a clear idea on the looks you want for your blog. Keep a nice free theme for a while and see how you like it. You’ll learn more about a theme’s functionality and features so you’ll know exactly what you want when’s time to invest.
If you know how you want your blog to behave and look like, then you can buy a theme from the start and don’t stress about it in the future.
What to look for in a theme
- It’s simple – A cluttered theme is never a good idea as the user experience is crucial for a successful blog. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with a hard to navigate blog. They’ll bounce.
- It’s responsive – It’s crucial for the theme to be responsive across all devices. Mobile is taking over desktop, and if your blog is not mobile responsive, you’ll lose a great opportunity.
- It loads fast – Some themes load slower than others. Make sure the theme you choose loads fast because the speed of your blog is important for SEO. Visitors run away from blogs that take more than 3 seconds to load.
- It’s been updated recently – If the theme wasn’t updated in more than a year, skip it.
- Read the comments – If the theme has bugs or creates problems, there are usually comments from other users highlighting them. Don’t skip this step as it may save you from future headaches.
How to choose the perfect theme for your blog?
There’s no one theme to fit em all.
Here are some points to consider when looking for a theme
- Make a sketch on how you want your blog to look like (the categories, where your logo goes, what you want to be displayed on the first page, the sidebar etc)
- What elements do you need on your blog (sidebar, screed sliders, header image, logo upload, widget areas etc)
- How easy should it be to customize? If you never worked with WordPress you may want to look for a theme that’s easy to customize. Although, getting around WordPress is not hard, you just need a little time to figure it out.
You’ll probably find more themes that are meeting your requirements. You can take the best 2-3 and set some time to play around with them before you start publishing content on your blog.
If you don’t have much time to spend and want to do things as fast as possible, then go either with the one that does the best in terms of speed. Or, if all the options are equal, go with the one that’s the easiest to customize.
One thing though, don’t get trapped for too long into choosing the theme.
It might be tempting to obsess over having the perfect looking blog. But it can take a lot from your momentum and make you postpone the start of your blog for too long.
9. Brand your blog
You don’t have to hire a designer right in the beginning of your blogging journey.
I actually suggest you don’t invest in branding when you’re just starting a blog even if you can afford it. If you don’t know exactly what you want, you may end up paying some money for something that you’ll want to change a couple of months later.
Still, it’s best that you come up with some branding guidelines in the beginning because:
- It’ll make you keep an overall visual consistency in your blog posts and across all social platforms
- It’ll be easier to find images to use in your blogs if you know what vibe and colors you’re looking for
- Your blog will be easy to recognize everywhere
- You won’t look like a complete beginner
Branding aspects to decide on
- Your logo – Use a free tool like Canva or DesignEvo to come up with a simple and clean logo if you have no graphic design skills.
- Two or three font types – Here is a library of over 10,000 fonts you can look through. Mind that some are free for commercial use while some only allow personal use.
- The branding colors – Here is a pretty useful color scheme generator. You can also learn more about choosing branding colors in this post.
Don’t stress too much about it in the beginning. You don’t have to come up with something wowing.
Keep it simple and clean.
10. Create a plan
After you start your blog, it’s not enough to post once in a while and wait for traffic to come your way.
There are some things you need to settle on and plan beforehand so you grow your blog efficiently.
- Set up a posting schedule – You’ll need consistency. Meaning that you’ll have to decide how often you’ll be posting new blog posts. It can be one or more times a week depending on how much time you have. But it’s important to choose a schedule and stick to it. This matters both for SEO and for keeping your audience engaged.
- Plan your blog posts content in advance – Each blog post you write has to give a solution to a problem your audience is struggling with. You must think things through. Don’t write posts on random topics just so you have something to share. Do a research on your audience to find out what they need help with and come up with more content ideas. By planing beforehand you’ll make sure you won’t miss any deadline because you don’t know what to blog about.
- Set goals and plan the steps to achieve them – It’s hard to grow a blog when you don’t know exactly what you want. I want to grow my blog is not a specific goal. Look into how to set SMART goals and come with your own targets. It’ll keep you learning, trying, and improving.
11. Have the right mindset
The success of your blog depends to greater extends on the way you’ll make decisions and work towards your goals.
If you look at your blog as a hobby, then it won’t get more than that.
While is totally fine to have a blog as a hobby if that’s what you want, if you want to start a blog to make money with it, you can’t stay in this mindset.
A blog is a business. And you must think of it as a business.
Use your time wisely to plan, learn, and strategies your moves.
12. Find the right tools
Growing a blog with no tools to help can get overwhelming fast enough.
And overwhelm might end up with giving up because it feels like too much work.
Learn how to properly use tools to help you stay organized, save time, and do tasks more effectively.
It’s true that some blogging tools are a bit pricey. And I know when you’re just starting your blog you probably don’t have money to invest in such tools.
But until you are ready to invest, you can take advantage of the free blogging for beginners tools out there.
Blogging tools you might find useful
- Writing tools
- Visual content tools
- Social media scheduling tools
- Organizing and planning tools
- Keyword research tools
Here is a list of the best blogging tools for you to go through:
13. Learn SEO
After you start your own blog, to build blog traffic, your blog posts must show up in the search results when people are looking for related content on Google.
This is where SEO comes into place.
There are 200+ factors Google’s algorithm considers when ranking pages.
The most important ranking factors
- Keyword in title
- Keyword in headings
- Content length
- Keyword density
- The use of LSI keywords
- Page speed
- Optimized images
- Number of internal links
- The site’s architecture
- SSL certificates
- Number and quality of backlinks
We wrote a post about search engine optimization tips so you can get familiar with the SEO best practices.
It’s your turn now
Do you have a better idea now on what steps you need to take to start your own blog today?
Happy to hear it.
Keep in mind that it’s best to give it some thought so you have an idea on the future goals you have with your blog, how you’re going to make money blogging, and what kind of solutions you want to offer to your audience.
Knowing what you want will make you take effective decisions for your blog rather than stepping blindly.
Still, don’t get trapped into a continuous loop of thinking.
Start taking action!
You’ll learn more about blogging and growing your blog down the way. You don’t have to start out perfectly.
No successful blogger knew what he was doing in the beginning. And no first blog post was perfect.
Building a successful blog means learning, trying, and improving.
The journey begins with your first blog post.