Starting a blog is something that many of us regularly think about, but often put off. But with so many of us stuck at home during this pandemic, the truth is that now is the best time ever to start a blog.
If you’re interested in blogging, whether as a hobby or as a way to make money, getting started can seem daunting. However, it really doesn’t have to be – with a bit of guidance, building a blog can be a fun, rewarding adventure. This guide will go over how to start a blog in detail – we’ll cover choosing a topic, setting up your website, attracting an audience, and everything else that you need to know about running a blog.
There’s a lot involved with starting and growing a blog – but we’ve designed this guide to be as beginner-friendly as possible. Join us as we break down how to start blogging in 3 simple steps.
1. Choose a Topic – and a Goal
The first step on your blogging journey is to think seriously about what you want to blog about, and what your goals are for your blog. This is important to establish from day one, because the way you approach a blogging strategy will vary significantly, depending on the topic and your long term goals.
a. Hobby vs Business
Before you even choose a topic, you should think about whether you want to blog as a hobby, or as a way to make money. If you just want a place to share your thoughts with friends and family, starting a simple personal blog is a good route. But if you want to make money from your website, you’ll likely want to choose a specific topic to focus on.
- Hobby blogs could include things like personal blogs, travel blogs, political commentary, etc. They can include a mix of topics, and don’t necessarily need to focus in on a specific niche.
- Business blogs should focus on more specific topics, like finance, arts & crafts, photography, raising children, etc. Generally, you will be most successful if you focus in on one specific niche.
If you don’t know which direction you want to take, that’s okay. You can make changes in the future, transition a personal project into a business venture, etc.
b. Choose a Topic
You can blog about anything under the sun, and chances are you will find an audience. With that said, it’s best to choose something that you are genuinely interested in, so that you will enjoy every step of the process. Here’s how to go about choosing a topic:
- Make a list of things that you are interested in (you don’t need to be an expert)
- Narrow it down by thinking about what you would be most interested in writing about regularly
- Choose a handful of potential topics, and search Google for blogs on those topics
- Spend some time reading these blogs. What topics are they covering? Is it interesting to you? Can you see yourself creating similar content?
- Continue narrowing down your field of topics – consult friends and family if you want
- Settle on a broad topic, such as “finance”, “pets”, etc.
- If you want, identify one or several narrower topics, like “retirement savings” or “caring for puppies”
Choosing a topic can take a lot of time, but it’s a very important aspect of your process overall. Take your time in choosing, and think about the long-term sustainability of each topic you consider (how much content can you really create about your topic, will people want to read it, etc.)
2. Set Up Your Blog
Once you have settled on a topic, now it’s time to actually build your blog. This involves a couple things: choosing and registering a domain name, buying hosting, and then actually building your website. Here’s a breakdown:
a. Choose Your Domain Name
Trying to settle on a domain name for your blog can sometimes be harder than actually choosing a topic. The vast majority of good names are already taken, so you may have to get creative.
You can use a site like iPage to check if a domain name is available. And if you purchase hosting through iPage, you’ll actually get the domain name for free for the first year!
b. Purchase Hosting
To get a website online, you essentially need two things: a domain name (see above), and a hosting plan. Hosting is a cloud service provided by various companies that stores your website and makes it available to the general public via the internet.
Hosting is a paid service, but luckily, it’s quite affordable. We recommend iPage, which starts at just $1.99 per month right now – and even includes a free domain name, free ad credits, and a 30-day money back guarantee!
Signing up for iPage is easy. Just pick a plan (you don’t need anything fancy for a brand new blog), register your free domain, and activate hosting using their guides. From there, you can begin building your website.
c. Build Your Site
Next up comes the actual nitty-gritty of building your website. For most new bloggers, we recommend using WordPress. WordPress is a content management system that is the behind-the-scenes software behind a huge portion of websites -including Houston on the Cheap.
With iPage, you can install WordPress in 1 click. From there, you can start to browse themes to find one that suites your style. Themes are like premade templates that help make it easier to build your website.
Each theme operates a bit differently, but all will include instructions on how to set them up. You could buy a theme if you find one that you really like, but there are plenty of free WordPress themes available.
For more information, read this Get Started guide from WordPress.
3. Start Blogging!
Once things are set up and you’re happy with the appearance of your blog, it’s time to dig in and actually start creating content!
The topics that you should cover vary depending on the overall topic and style of your blog. If it’s a personal blog, you can start writing creatively about whatever comes to mind. If you’re focusing on building traffic and revenue, it’s helpful to start with the basics before diving into more in-depth topics.
Getting started with blogging can feel overwhelming, but here’s my advice as an experienced blogger:
- Don’t get too caught up in making things perfect. It’s better to just get started writing, and improve your skills over time.
- Focus on writing consistently every week.
- Make a list of all the potential topics you could cover. Keep it accessible, perhaps on your bedside table, and add to it over time.
- Become a blog reader as well as a blog writer. It’s helpful to follow blogs in your niche to see how they are creating content – and how you can do a better job of it yourself.
If you get stuck, look for help from fellow bloggers. This post contains a round-up of Facebook groups for bloggers to bounce ideas off each other and seek help from more experienced community members.
As you’re creating content, you’ll also want to be promoting that content to help build an audience:
- Work target keywords into your blog posts to help them rank in Google
- Share your posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms
- Create social media profiles for your blog itself, to help separate it from your personal life
There’s a lot to learn about attracting readers to your blog, and the topic is too in-depth to cover adequately in this beginner’s guide. Read up on how to grow traffic to your website here.
4. (Optional) Monetize Your Blog
If you’ve decided to treat your blog as a business venture rather than just a personal project, you’ll want to start thinking about how to make money from your new website. Here’s some guidance:
- You won’t make any money until you have traffic, so focus on creating content and building an audience first.
- The easiest ways to monetize a blog are to utilize programs like Google Adsense, which allows you to quickly and easily place advertisements on your blogs
- More lucrative options include direct advertising sales to companies, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing
In the beginning, focusing too much on making money from your blog can actually be detrimental. It’s best to spend the first 6 months or more just creating quality content and gradually building an audience. Once you have a solid readership built up and a good content library, you can start putting more effort into making money from your blog.
This is intended as a beginner-friendly guide on how to start a blog. The steps listed above will get you well on your way to a successful and satisfying blogging experience. But of course, there is a LOT more to learn than what’s covered here.
Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of resources out there for bloggers to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. We recommend following the basic steps in this guide, and continuing your research further down the line as your knowledge of blogging grows.
And lastly, remember this: Blogging should be something that you enjoy doing – but you’re likely going have some roadblocks and frustrations along the way. By focusing on your long-term vision for your blog, you can overcome daily challenges and work towards your goals.
Good luck, and happy blogging!