How to start a successful blog in 2020!
The best tips to start a blog and make money
Starting a blog! It sounds like a fun thing to do! Maybe it’s something you’ve been dreaming about for some time. You already exactly know what you would like to share with the world but, if you want to learn how to start a successful blog, you also need to dive into the technical side of a website… which is exactly what keeps you from really doing it, because it looks so complicated!
I feel you! I started my first blog in 2019. And even though I managed to figure everything out in the end, I really lost an awful amount of time with fiddling around and deciphering tutorials that were pretty technical. If only I knew back then how to start a successful blog, if I’d had the know-how and tips to start a blog I have today, it would’ve been so much easier!
So, in order to make your blog-life a bit easier, I’d like to share my expertise with you here on She Can Blog in this ultimate blogging guide, filled with the best tips to start a blog”! First, you’ll need to set up a new website. In this blog post, I’ll explain to you how to do this in 9 easy-to-follow steps. Just follow all the steps, and your blog will be up and running in a few days!!
I promise you, it looks more complicated than it is! You just need to do it.
You don’t need any prior experience. What you do need is perseverance and time. It’s really doable, everyone can do it and so can you.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra. So it’s a win for everyone! Please note that I won’t link any products I don’t believe in or don’t resonate with my blog site. Thank you!
Your Ultimate Blogging Guide For Beginners: The Best Tips To Start A Blog – Ready, set, go!
Step 1: Choose a platform
To start a blog you first need a platform. There are many different platforms you can use, but I prefer to work with WordPress, like most bloggers. Why?
- First of all, It’s free, which is always a good thing!
- It is easy to use
- You can design your website exactly as you have in mind. There is a plug-in or tool for every design or option you want.
Make sure you opt for WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com. WordPress.org is more complicated than WordPress.com, but in contrast to WordPress.com, you can host your blog on your own server, have your custom domain name, you can fully customize the design as you wish and, if you want, you can choose to monetize your blog. All those things are not possible if you have WordPress.com as your platform.
So yes, WordPress.org is more complex, but you get endless possibilities in return. And… with some help from me and some persistence from you, you’ll be able to achieve a lot!
Step 2: Choose a domain name and a hosting provider
It’s time to pick a domain name! A domain name can be purchased online on various websites, but the cleverest and easiest is to first decide which hosting provider you’d like to partner with and to purchase your domain name directly from that hosting provider.
I made the mistake once of doing this separately (no clue why I did that, I was messing around again) and as a result I couldn’t connect my domain name to the hosting provider of choice for the first 60 days after the purchase. Believe me, you don’t want that.
Let’s go back to picking a domain name: picking a name for your blog can be a big challenge. Of course, you want a name that is unique and immediately reflects what your blog is about. But before you pick a name it’s good to keep the following things in mind:
- Go for a domain name that is short
- Don’t use too many numbers and hyphens. This will make it easier for your visitors to memorize your website.
- To make sure your new blog name is unique, you can check the internet and other social networks to see if there are any other blogs with a similar name.
- Still don’t know which domain name you’d like to use? Use an online tool that generates available domain name suggestions based on key words, such as: Instant Domain Search Generator
Things to pay attention to when selecting a WordPress webhosting provider
Now you know what your domain name is going to be, tt’s time to choose a WordPress webhosting provider.
Webhosting basically means that you rent a small part of the internet where you can store and run your website. This is where all your files and content will be stored. As you probably understand, having a good hosting provider is therefore crucial to your blog. This is the home of your blog. In case your host is experiencing any problems, then your website automatically experiences issues as well. Therefore, you need to be assured of a great hosting provider, with a high quality service.
You may have noticed that many advertisements offer free hosting. As tempting as it may sound, if you want to create a serious business with your blog, you should really consider a paid hosting provider. It requires a small investment and it can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. But, in any case, it gives you better security and more reliability.
Being a starting blogger you don’t need a lot, yet. So do not make it too complicated and costly. Keep a close eye on the monthly charges. The rate they advertise with, is often only a promotional price. And after several months the price changes to the regular price, which is, of course, more expensive. Be sure to carefully read the offers to avoid unpleasant surprises after a few months.
Of all the hosting providers available on the market, SiteGround hosting is one the most popular, cheap and reliable hosting providers that is easy to start with for beginning bloggers. Their customer support is always there to help you with anything you need and they try to make everything as easy as possible for you!
You can register here for Siteground hosting:
How to Install Siteground:
Step 1: Choose a plan
Step 2: Choose a domain name
Step 3: Review & Complete name
I bought my domain names at Namecheap and I also use Namecheap as my hosting provider. Up till now, I really like Namecheap. Partly, because you can pay monthly whereas most hosting providers bill annually. And, as the name already indicates, Namecheap is cheap. Although they’re cheap, I’ve never experienced any problems with them. It is just sometimes a little bit more complicated to use. But they have tutorials on their site for everything you need to know and their customer support is always willing to help me out. Actually, one of my domain names I purchased at first at another hosting provider. And I transferred it later to Namecheap, which wasn’t so easily done. But Namecheap’s customer support took over and finished the transfer for me. I definetely recommend them to everyone!
Click here to sign up for Namecheap:
Step 3: Configure and design your blog
Your blog is up and running and now it is time to actually start to create your blog. Now you have the dashboard in front of you, I can imagine it may seem very complicated (which it is sometimes), but again, with a bit of persistence and patience, you can figure it out. Look for tutorials. Most hosting providers provide you with great tutorials.
Design your blog
Creating the design for your blog is the fun part! But if you want to build a theme by yourself from scratch, it’s also the most challenging part. This is where the premade themes come in handy. Developers already created many (free) themes for you to use. You only need to adjust it to your own liking. You can search online for themes. My advice : keep it simple. A minimalistic design ensures that your visitors won’t get overwhelmed and distracted. A minimalistic design ensures that your visitors won’t get distracted. Put the emphasis on your content.
Pick a theme
A theme is the layout for your blog. It is the format your blog posts will be placed in. Thanks to these themes you don’t need to be able to code.
If you haven’t chosen a theme yet, or if you’d like to change your theme, you can do so in your WordPress dashboard. The dashboard is basically the back-office for your website. This is where you write your blogs and configure all the settings.
As a beginning blogger you probably don’t need a lot of extra features or anything complicated, so you’ll be fine with a free theme. But if you want something special and you have the budget, I would certainly invest in one. A custom WordPress theme will give your website a unique look and feel, making it easier to stand out amongst all the other blogs.
For female bloggers, Themegrill offers free themes that are feminine and elegant!
After buying and downloading the theme, all you have to do now is install it. In your WordPress Dashboard go to Appearance -> Theme’s -> Add New -> Upload Theme -> Choose the theme from your hard drive -> Install -> Tadaa! That’s it.
Familiarize yourself with the WordPress Dashboard
Once you begin the process of writing and publicizing your posts, you will be spending a great amount of time in the dashboard. This is where you configure all of the settings, create your posts and build webpages, where you install plug-ins, themes, anything to customize your website exactly as you want.
There are several configurations for each blog site that you should set immediately.:
Change the structure of your permalinks. Go to ‘settings’ and click on ‘permalinks’. Then select ‘post name’. It’s important to do this before you start publishing your posts, because from the moment you link web pages internally, it becomes more and more difficult to change the url structure for every page.
Set your logo at the top in the header of your website. You can do this by going to Appearance -> Customize -> Site identity.
Setting a Favicon. A favicon is the little icon you see in your tabs with open webpages, in front of the name of the website. It’s something small, but it gives your website a more professional feel right away.
Go to Site identity and then click on Site icon at the bottom of the page. This is where you can change your favicon.
Keep your website clean by removing plugins you are not using. To remove these plugins go to Plugins -> Installed plugins. Find the plugin you want to remove and click on Delete.
Okay, you’re almost done. Before your website is ready to launch, you just need some plug-ins to run your site properly. Plug-ins add particular features to your blog, so you don’t have to work with code yourself. Please note that the more plug-ins you have installed, the more likely your website’s speed, security, etc. will decrease. But either way plug-ins can be really useful and you will definitely need several of them.
Check my blog with the best WordPress plugins for the most essential plugins you need as a blogger in 2020! –> Click here!
Step 4: Analyze your blog
Install Analytics en Webmaster tools
To keep track on your blog traffic, I advise to install Google Analytics. To do so, you first need to set up a account and connect it to your website.
Monitoring your websites traffic with Analytics gives very valuable insights. For instance, which pages are being visited the most, the number of visitors to your website, the time they spend on it, where they’re from, etc. Using Analytics helps you discover which content people are really interested in or which content they are not so interested in.
Once you’ve created the account, you’ll receive a tracking code that you have to set-up on your website.
You should also open a Google Webmaster Tools account and add this account on to your site as well. Webmaster Tools signals Google to crawl your website for new content. This will eventually contribute to a better Google ranking.
Step 5: Create email address for your blog
And don’t forget to create an email address for your blog. This is something that we easily overlook, but having a proper business email address is very important.
I advise you to create a custom email address that matches with your domain name. For example: email@example.com. This will especially come in handy when you start building your email list. You need to build an email list to keep your loyal audience informed of all your new posts!
Check for the options for your customized email address with your hosting provider.
Step 6: Create an email list
Why do you need an email list?
A mailing list is essential for your blog! Visitors who have visited your website before and have made the effort of leaving you their email address, are genuinely interested in the content you will share in the future. So, start building that mailing list immediately! Because if you don’t, chances are your visitors will only visit you once, which would be a real loss for your website.
You can create an account at MailerLite. It’s completely free for up to 1,000 subscriptions.
Nowadays, social media is the best tool to promote a blog. This is why I recommend to link your blog at least to one social media channel. In the beginning you will mainly focus on creating your blog and content itself, so too many channels are not necessary yet. One or two channels are enough for now.
Step 8: Finishing Touch
By now you own a domain, you have chosen a hosting provider, and you installed WordPress plus WordPress theme. Finally, you can really begin to write blogs to share your thoughts and knowledge with the world.
Before you begin creating content, it can be useful to outline the why, how and what you plan to do, and what you would like to accomplish. Pen down which topics you are planning to cover. Which topics are relevant and which aren’t. Who is going to read your blog? Which benefits will your future readers gain by reading it? By identifying these things you give direction to your blog.
There are 2 types of content you can create in WordPress: pages and posts. But what’s the difference?
One more thing before you start: You can create Pages and Posts in WordPress. As a new blogger, it might be a bit confusing what are the differences between them, so let me clear this up for you.
Pages are static pages on your blog, that won’t change much over time. These pages are used to link your menus to. As a first page you can create an ‘About me’ page to introduce yourself to your readers. This page will probably be visited quite often, because people are usually very curious to find out who created this website.
The content you’re going to share with your readers must be written as a Post. Your posts will appear on the front page of your blog after you publish them. Your visitors can respond to them and they show the date it was published.
So: You will write and design your posts in the Posts section and your website’s static and permanent pages, such as your About me page and your legal pages, will appear in the section for Pages.
Add standard Web Pages
Step 9: Ready! You can start writing your first blog post!
Congratulations, your blog is ready to go! You can start creating content for your future readers now. Once you’ve built a foundation, you can keep posting new content on a regular basis. Stick to a schedule, so your readers know when new content is coming!
Post on a regular basis, but ensure that your content is high quality. Got time to write several high-quality posts within a week, wonderful! Do it! Already have a busy schedule and not so much time to spend on blogging? Then try to post a new post at least once a week. Just make sure you always prioritize quality over quantity. Eventually your readers will drop out if your posts turn out not to be interesting enough or if they are low-quality posts.
Practice makes perfect! Your blogs may not be the absolute best in the beginning, but be persistent and hang in there. Tip: Check your old blog posts again, once you’re a bit more experienced.
Also remember to continue to update your posts content regularly. Make sure all the links are still working and all information is still up-to-date.
A few tips for making your blog posts even more appealing and interesting:
Make sure your readers benefit from your posts / solve problems
Long posts perform better than short posts. Create in-depth content.
Divide your posts into headings and paragraphs.
Insert a table of contents. This tables appears at the beginning of your posts in order to make it easier for visitors to navigate to the information they are most interested in.
Adding relevant images to posts helps to drive more traffic to your site. Provide images that match your posts and look good. You don’t have to get into photography yourself. Look for Stock Photos on my favorite stock photo websites! They all offer a free collection of gorgeous stock photos, and in case you’re looking for more, you can find affordable paid stock photos as well!
I hope my “How to start a successful blog”-tips have been helpful to you. Do you have other great tips to start a blog, or do you have questions or suggestions? Please, share your results in the comments below. Good luck and have fun blogging! And, don’t forget to share this post with your blogging friends, thank you! <3
Ps. For more tips about how to start a successful blog, I suggest you to read these blog posts, too: