Starting a blog can feel like such a huge task. I know. I’ve done it.
Maybe you want to make money blogging; perhaps you want to start a blog to give yourself a head start in your career; maybe you just want a public newsletter of sorts that you can share with your family.
Maybe you hate your family and just want a place to vent about it online.
Regardless of what you choose to write about, how you start your blog will set the pace for how it grows and whether you love it or hate it.
How to Start a blog in 3 easy steps:
What is WordPress?
it’s hard to talk about blogging without talking about WordPress. WordPress is what most blogs (and websites for that matter) are made of nowadays. WordPress is even the most popular option for e-commerce sites.
It’s the engine behind 455 million websites. They literally power about 35% of the internet, and they’re stinkin good at it too.
WordPress is a content management system. Simply stated, a content management system allows you to make things like websites, apps and online stores without having to do all the HTML and CSS coding on your own. Makes it waaayyy easier for little guys like me.
WordPress CMS is unique in that it is Open Source. That means that anyone can download it, and adjust it in certain ways for free. This is largely why wordpress has become the behemoth that it is today.
Many other Web hosts have found ways to integrate the WordPress CMS into their hosting plans. So today, you can choose from multiple different plans and webhost organizations to get everything you need for security, your domain registration, WordPress CMS, and a server to host it on all in one place at a price that fits you!
Before we really get too far into webhosting, you should understand what wordpress is and the difference between WordPress, wordpress.org and wordpress.com.
u/BookChaser on Reddit explained it better than I think I’ve heard from anyone.
Regardless of why you want to start a blog, there are three basic steps to making sure you start it right.
1. Start a blog with a good WebHost that fits YOU
Choosing a good WebHost can be a little tricky. There are lots of things to consider. Price, speed, and uptime are important to think about.
1. Blue Host
Blue Host is WordPress’s recommendation for Webhosting. That means something. Here’s what they bring to the table:
- Integrates very easily with WordPress
- Decent price; as low as $3 a month if you pay for 3 years up front.
- Pretty good uptime
- Not the best speed
- Lots of complaints about lack of support
- Constantly trying to upsell
Blue Host is not a bad way to go. They have a decent reputation and are the host for more than 1 million websites.
This is the WebHost that I use! For a blog like mine, DreamHost provides a great foundation with a friendly cost and plenty of room to grow. As it so happens, they are also recommended by WordPress.
- Very inexpensive
- STELLAR Tech support
- Unlimited server storage, bandwidth and subdomains
- 100% uptime guarantee
- 97 day money-back guarantee
- No support over phone. Chat and Email only
- Support with Chat is not 24/7 like email
- Bit of a steeper learning curve to hosting.
Honestly, my favorite part about DreamHost is there support team. These people are super patient and very good at helping those who may not be so good at web developing.
In the beginning stages of setting up our website, I was in touch with tech support often. Not only did they deftly fix everything, but they taught me how to do it too. Maya and I wouldn’t have this awesome site without the DreamHost team.
There is no other company that can integrate WordPress CMS into their web hosting as well as WordPress.com. They are, after all, the creators.
If you want a free place to start a blog that will leave you room to grow, WordPress.com might be for you.
I spent some time on WordPress.com in a trial run while we were still picking out a WebHost. Ultimately, we decided to move but it was a good learning experience. Here’s what we found:
- Extremely easy startup– no help needed
- Very secure
- Multiple tiered plans starting at $4 a month
- Can’t use Plugins unless you pay for the very expensive Business plan
- You don’t own the content you post
- Limited control even with the top dollar plan
- Growth is stifled
The biggest problem with starting a blog on WordPress.com is that you don’t have as much control over what you can do with your website.
WordPress.com is a website builder like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. So, you don’t own the content that you put up, the developers do and they technically hold the power to delete it at any time if they see fit. Perish the thought.
Not having access to plugins is also a big issue. WordPress is open source. That means people are constantly creating new things to build on it and make it better. Those things are called plugins.
If you don’t have access to WordPress plugins, you really are only getting a very small part of what they have to offer.
2. Find a niche you could write about for a long time
Once you’ve got all of the technical stuff figured out, starting your blog only takes a little bit of organization and creative thinking.
Choosing a niche is kind of like trying to decide on what to major in at college.
Some people know right off the bat exactly what they want. Some people have to try a few different things out first.
I was the latter. I tried blogging about movies, random facts, even obscure animals. The names of these blogs were constantly evolving.
My loyal readers (my family) were thrown back and forth with off-the-wall blog posts and the random word puke domain names I came up with. It was a wild time.
My advice to you is this:
Write about something you love.
Pick a niche because your passionate about it. Not because it’s a popular niche. You need to love what you’re writing about with the passion of a thousand suns.
Here’s a list of 50 things you could start a blog about that might help get the ball rolling for you:
- DIY Projects
- Home improvement
- A unique Lifestyle
- Dogs 🙂
- Short Stories
- Dungeons and Dragons
- TV shows
- Journalism (Freelance News)
- Product reviews
- Non Profit
- Extreme Sports
- Breakfast Cereal
- Cats 😐
- Web development
- Climate change
- That freckle on your elbow
- Pet rocks
- Making Lists
As you can tell, there is literally no limit to what you could blog about. Recently, I read about a guy that started a website solely about his wife’s iPod. (mywifesipod.com). And you know what? It’s not that bad!
Choosing a good niche is critical. You will base your website’s title and domain name all on the niche. Not to mention all of the content that you produce.
3. Promote yourself
It’s really disheartening after you’ve started a blog and you’ve worked really hard on it, and then you go and check your analytics and find out that one guy in Finland stumbled across it on accident.
What do you do if nobody is reading your stuff?
This can mean different things depending on what you’re niche is. But most people focus on two tings when promoting their blog:
I. Social Media
This is my main method of promotion. Social media is a great way to find people in your niche and build connections with them.
Keep in mind that promoting yourself on social media doesn’t mean shamelessly plugging yourself on every platform.
The best method of funneling people to your site through social media is by befriending people in your target audience.
Yep. Believe it or not making friends on social media is probably the best way to get a really loyal following on your blog. Oddly enough, it’s the obvious solutions like this one that we often overlook…
It easy, natural, educating and fun. Some of my greatest inspirations for my blog come from my followers.
Here’s what you do:
- Find a Hashtag related to your niche.
- Spend 30 minutes every day going through it and commenting on posts. Try to start a conversation.
- Follow people you get into a good discussion with. Try to keep up with them and what’s going on in their lives.
I guarantee that this one trick will literally blow up your social media and your blog traffic.
One of my favorite things to do recently is connect with people on Instagram and ask them if I can use their photos on my blog like I did above. This is a great way to meet new people and introduce them to your site as well as get some great pictures that you can use!
Post bite-sized snippets of your articles on social media. Include a link at the end for people to read more if they are interested.
Always keep a link in your bio. Pin a post to the top of your page that has your most recent article or a link to your homepage in it. Make your website accessible.
Here are the links to my socials if you want to follow me, or if you just want an example!
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you are starting your blog with WordPress, get the YoastSEO plugin. This one is a must.
Search engine optimization is all about being findable. For example, when people have a question like: “Why is there Pasta in my toaster?” You can bet they will go to google before they go anywhere else. As a matter of fact, a lot of people will even Google health problems before they talk to a doctor!
When they hit “Search” the first results to come up are the ones they click on.
So, how do you get to the top?
Well, if you name your article “This is why you have pasta in your toaster,” then you are more likely to be one of the first articles to pop up to answer the age-old question “why is there pasta in my toaster?”
Every post you create should have a central idea. Or, a searchable key phrase. To find out what people are searching for, you can do some simple Google SEO research.
- Open a private browsing window (incognito mode for chrome users)
- Type in the central word or phrase that your post is built around. In this case, “pasta in toaster”
- Hit search
- Take a look at the related questions box for ideas on blog titles and headings
Try to name your headings and your title things that will directly answer the questions in this box.
In every article you should aim to use your SEO key phrase about 10 times for even more of a boost.
Additionally, you could also start typing partial queries into google to see what it autocompletes if you wanted to take things even further.
Next, to get an accurate idea of what is being searched the most, compare the results that come up on Google Trends. Use the most common search queries in naming your title and headings and picking your keywords and phrases.