So you’re wondering how to start a blog? We’re here to help with a detailed, step-by-step guide (without the BS).
How to start a blog
Step 1: Choose your topic
Here’s the deal: if you want to start a blog, you have to choose a topic to write about. For example, this blog is about helping other people become successful bloggers. In marketing, we call this a “niche.” A niche is basically the main topic of your blog.
So what you want to do is choose something you’re interested in that you can teach other people. For example, if you’re a big fan of cars and you’re really interested in the mechanics and stuff like that, you could start a blog about cars. That way you could talk about something that interests you and at the same time teach other people stuff that they don’t know.
A lot of digital marketing blogs out there will tell you that if you don’t choose a narrow niche or topic, your blog won’t succeed. Well, that’s not entirely true.
For example, there are bloggers like Stefan James, Pat Flynn, and even Neil Patel that didn’t respect this rule. Stefan James started his blog about self-improvement, but he’s now mixing both self-improvement and online business in his content, and he’s doing pretty well. Pat Flynn is another example. He talks about how to blog, how to start a podcast, and YouTube stuff – all of this on just one blog.
You can see that some very successful blogs didn’t really respect this rule; however, your blog should have a clear purpose. Whereas these guys didn’t talk about just one narrow topic, their blogs had a general direction. For example, Stefan James’ blog is about improving yourself as a person and improving your life in general. This is probably why he got away with mixing two topics together. It’s because people interested in self-improvement will likely be interested in improving their financial life.
What you should know is that your blog should have a clear general topic.
Step 2: Check if people are interested in the topic you want to write about
Before starting a whole blog, you have to see if there are enough people who are interested in this topic. This step is very important because as a blogger, you’ll most likely want to turn your blog into a business, right? That’s why you want to see if there are enough people that are interested in that particular topic.
More people = more customers = more money to make.
Simple as that.
Go to Google and type in “best youtube channels about (insert your niche)”
For example, if I wanted to start a blog about cars, I would type in “best youtube channel about cars.” After that, you want to go to each channel and see how many subscribers they have. If you see that a few of these channels have a couple thousand, or even millions of subscribers, it means that it’s a pretty popular niche, so there’s a big demand for it.
Go to Quora.com and search for your niche
Quora is one of the biggest forums in the world. All you have to do is go there (signup if you don’t have an account) and then in the see what comes up in the search bar. Each topic has its own page on Quora, so if you see that your topic has a couple of hundreds of thousands of people, it means that a lot of people are interested in that topic.
Go to Reddit and search for your niche –
Same thing with Quora. Reddit is one of the most visited websites on the web, so if people there are interested in the topic you want to write about, it means that there’s a demand for it. Type in your niche in the search bar of Reddit and see what results you get.
If you find that there’s an active community for your niche, go for it.
Set up your blog
Step 3: Choose a blogging platform
A blogging platform is basically a blogging software that lets you build, host and manage your site. There are many choices when it comes to blogging platforms, so I’ll explain them a little bit first to give you the big picture.
Let’s look at the two ways to create a blog. The first one is to use a “website builder.” This is the type of website that lets you build a website. They help you build your site, manage it and keep it online so that people can see it anytime. When a website or a company keeps your blog content online, we call this “hosting.”
The second way is to use a company that offers web hosting (we call them “web host”) alone, and then you can install some software to help you manage your blog.
So what’s the difference and which one’s better?
Well, using website builders is definitely easier and quicker to set up, however, their free features may be limited, so my advice is to go for a self-hosted blog unless you’re planning to use a free blog plan, which again, is somewhat limited in its features.
You can signup to Bluehost and install WordPress. Bluehost is a hosting company that’s really good and recommended by many successful bloggers and WordPress is a great software that you can install on Bluehost to start creating your blog.
You can signup to Bluehost by clicking here. You’ll also get a free domain name, so that’s really awesome.
Step 4: Sign up on Bluehost and install WordPress
As I was saying, I think Bluehost is one of the best hosting companies out there, and it’s pretty cheap to get started with. All you have to do is create a hosting account on Bluehost and then install WordPress, and you’re done.
Step 5: Choose a domain for your blog
Your domain name is basically the URL address of your website. In other words, it’s the thing you type in the navigation bar to access your blog. For example, if your blog is “MyTravelBlog.com,” then your domain would be the same thing.
You can be creative here, but there are some best practices to choose your domain name:
- Don’t make it too long so people can remember it.
- Make sure it’s easy to spell.
- You can also make your name your domain name.
Here are some domain names from some very successful blogs out there: NeilPatel.com, Patflynn.com, ProBlogger.com, CreateAndGo.co.
Step 6: Choose a theme for your blog
Because you’re just starting out, I wouldn’t worry too much about the theme right now. Just select one of the themes suggested by WordPress, something simple to begin with, and you’re good to go. You’ll have the option to change your theme later.
Step 7: Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a website/software by Google that lets you track your website visitors. You can use it to see how many people visit your blog, for how long they stay on your site, where they come from, from which country they visit, etc. It will help you see many of details such as where your traffic is coming from.
This is a MUST if you want to be successful with blogging. Here’s how you can install Google Analytics :
- Go to “Google Analytics.” If you don’t already have an account, create one.
- After you create an account, all you have to do is enter the basic information about your website. You’ll get something like this:
- Click on “get tracking ID.” This is basically a piece of code that you’ll copy to your site so that Google Analytics can track what’s going on your blog.
- Now the next step is copying your tracking ID to your WordPress blog. Go to your WordPress dashboard, on the left side menu, click on “plugins” and then “add new.”
- Now you should have something like this:
- Go to that search bar at the top right of your screen, and type in “headers and footers plugin” and then install that plugin.
- Once you have installed it, go back to your WordPress dashboard. In the bottom left corner, scroll over “setting” and click on “insert headers and footers.” Here’s how you do it:
- Go back to your Google Analytics dashboard, copy your tracking ID and paste it on the “scripts in header” section.
After that just click on save and Google Analytics should start tracking your blog within 24 to 48 hours. If this wasn’t enough for you, here’s a great video that explains this even more.
Step 8: Set up your e-mail opt-in form
I don’t know if you’ve already heard this before, but if you want to be successful as a blogger, you have to start collecting e-mails from your readers so that you can follow up with them after they go out of your blog.
Bloggers use e-mails as a way of building trust with their readers so that they will buy their products and services and generally trust them as bloggers. To start collecting e-mails, you’ll need to combine Sumo and Mailchimp together. Basically, Sumo is a tool that helps you create opt-in forms to get e-mails, and MailChimp helps you send e-mail campaigns to your readers.
I can’t cover everything here so you’ll have to do some research but here are some helpful resources to start :
- Create an account on Sumo and MailChimp.
- Connect Sumo to your blog
- How to create an e-mail opt-in form using Sumo
How to write your first post
Step 9: Write your first post
We’re now done with all of the technical stuff. All you have to do now is write your first blog post. Log in to your WordPress dashboard, go to the left side menu and click on posts > add new.
Step 10: Learn how to get traffic to your blog
This is by far the biggest challenge that faces every blogger out there. When you write awesome content, you want everyone to read it, but it doesn’t always happen.
Sometimes you don’t get any visitors at all if you’re a total newbie. I’ve researched this topic extensively, and let me tell you something: the majority of free content on the internet will NOT give you effective ways to get traffic.
So how do you actually get traffic? Here are the best ways to get traffic:
this means Search Engine Optimization. When you do a search on Google, the search results that appear on the first page are optimized for search engines. This means that the person who wrote them purposefully did some adjustments to get them on the first page. Of course, this is not easy and definitely not beginner friendly. I just mentioned it so that you know what it means, but for a beginner, do not try to do this because it’s really advanced and you’ll be overwhelmed if you try it. Focus on the other ways instead.
Remember Reddit? Well, you can get some really good traffic from there. Because it’s so popular and you have different communities that are interested in different topics there, you could join a community where your target audience (people who are interested in the topic you blog about) hangs out, and then use some strategies to turn them into your fans by offering them really good content. Click here to find out more.
Pinterest seems to work differently for different blogging topics. For example, it might be effective for someone who’s blogging about fitness, health or food but not that effective for bloggers who are in other niches. You have to try it out and see if it works for you.
Save time and energy, and potentially money with these tips:
- When you’re starting out, go for free themes. Don’t go for a paid one right from the start.
- Install Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast SEO is a free plugin that helps you optimize your blog for SEO (however it’s not a must)
- It will be very difficult to make money from a personal blog. People tend to be more interested in entertainment or useful information. That’s what they pay for.
- Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the fancy language marketers use (on-page SEO, affiliate links…etc.). You’ll slowly learn all of this stuff.
Now that your blog is successfully up and running (congrats by the way!), you can go ahead and focus on writing your first awesome blog post. We wrote an entire post just about that. You can check it out here.
If you really want to be successful as a blogger, you have to go through this learning curve. I know it can be overwhelming at first, but trust me, you’ll get better. Blogging requires patience and solid researching skills to learn the ropes.
Don’t give up; it’s well worth the effort.