How to start a blog 101
How to start a blog business and make money with your blog
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 a blog business, 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!
Am I right? I feel you!
I started my first blog back in 2019. And even though I managed to figure everything out in the end, I really lost an awful amount of time on fiddling around and deciphering tutorials that were pretty technical. If only I knew back then how to start a blog business, 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 my “How to start a blog 101” guide for beginning bloggers, filled with the best tips to start a blog!
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 no time!
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!
How to start a blog 101: Let’s get started – 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.org, like most bloggers do. Why?
- First of all, the platform itself is free, which is always a good thing!
- It is easy to use
- You can design your website exactly as you wish. 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 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 way 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: choosing the 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 choose 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 keywords, such as the Instant Domain Search Generator
Things to pay attention to when you buy web hosting
Now you know what your domain name is going to be, it’s time to buy web hosting.
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 reliable web hosting is therefore crucial to your blog. This is the home of your blog.
In case your host is experiencing any problems, your website automatically experiences issues as well. Therefore, you need to be assured to opt for a reliable web hosting partner, with high-quality service.
You may have noticed that many advertisements offer free web hosting. As tempting as it may sound, if you want to create a serious business with your blog, you should really consider a paid and more reliable web hosting provider.
I know it requires a small investment on your side, but you can make it as cheap or as expensive as you like. But, in any case, when you buy web hosting, it already ensures you better security, less downtime, and a more reliable web hosting partner in general.
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.
Are you looking for quality at a competitive price? Then Lyrical Host is the best hosting provider for you! In all the Facebook groups for bloggers, I’m active in, everyone is currently recommending Lyrical Host to new bloggers. Lyrical Host is fast, they have the greatest customer service and they are affordable. Plus, unlike many other hosting providers, you have the option to pay monthly, half-yearly, or yearly!
A few days ago I contacted them because I wanted to switch hosting providers, my blog is hosted on Namecheap now. And they told me honestly my site speed was great now and that there was no need to switch for me.
To me, honesty like this, says a lot about a company. So, even though I’m not a user of Lyrical Host now, I highly recommend them to other bloggers, and if I’d ever start a new blog, it would certainly be hosted here.
Other reasons to choose for Lyrical host:
Sign up here for Lyrical Host. If you sign up via my link, you’ll receive a 10% discount! 🙂
Of all the hosting providers available on the market, SiteGround hosting is one the most popular, cheap and reliable web 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
Step 3: Configure and design your blog
Your blog is up and running! Now, it is time to actually start creating your blog. At the first glance, I can imagine the WordPress dashboard seems a bit complicated to you. Which it actually is sometimes. But don’t run away, yet! Because with a little persistence and patience, you CAN figure it out. Look for tutorials. Most hosting providers provide you with great tutorials as well.
Plus, to help you out with WordPress I wrote a blog with the most important WordPress settings that beginning bloggers should configure right away. It will help you to get to know the dashboard a bit, and it will save you many headaches later. Click here to read it!
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. You can go for a free theme or you can choose a premium theme if you have the budget for it.
As a beginning blogger, you probably don’t need a lot of extra features or anything complicated, so you’ll be fine for now 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.
A free theme isn’t bad, but it comes with a few downsides that I know from my own experience, will start to bother you when you want to more freedom to customize it later, or when you need to install too many plugins to design the blog you had in mind and that results in a decrease of your website’s speed. Which is important for SEO.
If you want to learn more about the differences between paid and free themes, or if you’re looking for a reliable paid theme, you can read my post I wrote about WordPress themes here!
Tips to choose your perfect theme
My advice when it comes to choosing a theme: keep it simple. A minimalistic design ensures that your visitors won’t get overwhelmed and distracted. Put the emphasis on your content.
After buying and downloading the theme, all you have to do 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 your settings
- Create your posts
- Build webpages
- Install plug-ins
- Install themes
- Customize your website
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.
Add 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.
You’re almost done. Before your website is ready to launch, you just need some plug-ins to run your site properly. Plugins 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. Either way, plugins can be really useful and you will definitely need some.
Step 4: Analyze your blog
Install Google Analytics
To keep track of 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 website 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.
Google Webmaster Tools
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 mail address for your blog
Don’t forget to create an email address for your blog. This is something that many bloggers overlook. However, having a proper business email address is very important!
I advise you to create a custom email address that matches your domain name. For example email@example.com. This will especially come in handy when you start building your mailing list, which you need to build (right away!!) to inform your loyal readers about new and old 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’re going share in the future.
So, start building that mailing list today! Because if you don’t, chances are your visitors will only visit you once and will never find their way back to your blog, which would be a real loss!
You can create an account at MailerLite. It’s 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.
I started with Pinterest, and when I had 1.000 followers and felt like I understood the platform well enough, I created a Twitter account as well. I also recently created a LinkedIn account, but my main focus is still on Pinterest and Twitter. Take it step by step. Social media can be quite overwhelming and it can take a lot of your time if you don’t know how to work with it properly.
Step 8: Finishing Touch
By now you own a domain, you have chosen a hosting provider, and you installed a WordPress theme. You can now begin to write blogs to share your thoughts and knowledge with the world! Finally!
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, so let me clear this up for you.
Pages are static pages on your blog, they won’t change much over time. These pages are used to link your menus to.
The content you’re going to share with your readers are your Posts. Your posts appear on the front page of your blog after you publish them. Your visitors can respond to them and they show the date they were 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
These pages give your blog a professional and reliable look and the legal pages help to limit your liability in legal cases and they protect the rights you have over your blog’s content. I’m not a lawyer, but I know someone who is, and she has a full website dedicted to informing bloggers about the importance of legal pages on your blog, and the reasons why.
She also has many templates you can buy to be sure you’re protected in the best way possible. If you want to learn more about the legal side of blogging, please go check out Amira’s The Self Guru website!
Step 9: Ready! You can start writing your first blog post!
Congratulations, you can call yourself a blog owner now!
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 aren’t 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: Update your blog posts every now and then! I always find new mistakes I didn’t see before, old links or information that’s not up-to-date.
If you’d like to learn how to write an amazing blog post without losing too much of your time, I recommend you to read this guide from Learn with Turno!
A few tips to make engaging and interest content for your readers:
- Make sure your readers benefit from your post; solve problems
- Answer questions
- Long posts perform better than short posts. Create in-depth content.
- Divide your posts into headings, sub-headings, and paragraphs.
- Insert a table of contents. This table appears above 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. Use images that match the content of your posts and look gorgeous. You can download copyright free images on stock photo websites! Free and paid! These are my favorite Stock Photo websites!
I hope my “How to start a blog 101”-guide has been helpful to you. Do you have other great tips on how to start a blog business, or do you have questions or suggestions? Please, leave a comment in the comment section below.
Happy 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: