Ever want to start something, then stop and realize that you haven’t the slightest idea on where to get started? Yeah, me too. Starting a blog can be a very exciting thing as a hobby, or if you’re looking to do it for business. Many people don’t understand how having a successful blog can really lead you to so many amazing opportunities. But many are finding out. Back in 2008, I started my first blog on the Blogger platform for free and it was as generic as a blog could come. There wasn’t a beginners guide that I could refer to, to ensure that I was doing it all right.
In this blog post I am going to go over the necessary steps that you will need to take in order to start your brand new blog! There is so much information out there on the web pointing you in so many different directions. You think you have it all down until you realize, you don’t. Eventually, it will just leave you feeling overwhelmed, annoyed and discouraged! And I don’t want that for you.
Now, I’m no expert by any means. But, I am self taught and I know how to find and use the available resources that are around me, whether it be learning from a person who has had proven success, searching the internet, watching TONS of You tube videos, webinars, reading articles as well as simple trial and error. I’ve researched, compared and tested out alternatives to find what was user friendly and relatively easy for me as a beginner.
You have my word that there won’t be any unnecessary tech jargon. So without further ado – let’s get started!
First things first. The benefits of starting a blog?
- Become a better writer
- Become more knowledgeable in your field
- Help others
- Build trust
- You can express yourself
- Learn skills that are in demand
- Connect with like minded individuals
- Inspire others
- Build a professional network
- Make money online (and off depending on where it takes you)
Whatever your reasoning maybe, there’s more good than bad benefits for starting a blog. I started out doing it as a hobby, so I wasn’t really concerned about the business aspect of it. And it was still fairly new when I first started blogging. Fast forward about 10 years, I’ve gained some knowledge in other areas and developed a different vision for myself. That’s what happens … you start out doing one thing, find your voice and realize over time exactly what it is that you’re supposed to be doing. Or at least at that time, if it fulfills you.
Step 1 – Select your niche
Start here. Many people don’t really give this much thought because they often jump at writing about the obvious, instead of really thinking about what their skills are. And then, there’s also the question of whether or not you’d like to do this as a hobby or a business? If a hobby, then do your thing. If a business, you will need to be certain that you’re doing the following:
- Choose a profitable niche and focus on that. Yes, you can do whatever you want with your blog. However, picking a specific topic allows you to pay particular attention to what it is that your readers know and trust they can learn from you.
- Research your niche. Do a keyword search for the potential keywords you have in mind related to your niche. Sites like Buzzsumo and Wordtracker are good for this. Once you type in a keyword, a page will come up with any results pertaining to your topic. Websites, blog post, articles etc.. If you see that it’s a popular topic, don’t let it discourage you. This just means that there’s large number of prospects in the market for this topic.
- Solving a problem for your readers. As a trustworthy content creator, you should be solving a problem. After reading your posts, you want your readers to love what you’ve put out, learned something new and leave feeling inspired.
Step 2 – Domain Name
This step is very important as this is how people will remember you and find you. A domain is basically your own online territory, your space. You run it. Examples: thecityinsilk.com, wordpress.com, yourblog.com. What people will need to type in to find your website. Use the following process when selecting a domain name (get a pen and paper) :
- Write a list of a names, words, colors etc. Use a little word play. Don’t rush this process. Because if you’re being too quick by throw something together – you will end up with a something you’re NOT happy with.
- Make sure that it’s easy to remember and simple to type. (check out the graph below)
- Try to incorporate a keyword
- Avoid hyphens and numbers
- Check to see if it’s available on social media sites
- Don’t be afraid of using your own name
- Use .COM
Keep in mind that if you go with self-hosted site, they will throw in your domain name for free! See more in the next step.
Step 3 – Choose a Blogging Platform (Hosted vs. Self Hosted)
Let’s start with me completely recommending that you self-host 100%. There are many, many blogging platforms to choose from and they’re all unique in there own special way. You have Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, Squarespace etc …
Who do I recommend you ask? WordPress. This is the platform I standby, firmly. It’s huge! And very user-friendly. And I’m no tech expert. See below the difference between having a hosted and self-hosted blog.
If you choose to self-host, you choose a blogging platform first and then self-hosting site. Let’s say the blog platform you choose is WordPress and then the self-host site you choose is Siteground – they will basically work as partners keep your site running.
Hosted – A hosted service provider is pretty much a online business that provides you a website/page for anyone to view online. It’s a all in one purchase. Domain name, hosting plan, website theme etc. Essentially, you’re just renting your space and the hosted platform is your landlord. So if your hosted platform decided to disappear, so will your website. You don’t own it and it’s a bit limiting, especially in terms on customization.
Self-hosted – The developer of your choosing builds a self-hosted site for you and then they hire a company to back up and store your website. Self-hosting is a way more flexible option and allows you more freedom for creativity with the design of your website. And in my opinion, more secure.
Step 4 – Design/ Blog Theme
So, I’m going to assume that you made the wise decision to self-host. And if you didn’t, it’s all good. You know what will work best for you! But, remember when I said that you have way more freedom to customize your blogs theme when you self-host? This is where you’ll see the difference between the two when it comes to the design of your site.
Regardless of what you choose, there are still a few important things you should think about when you get to this step:
- Do not choose a theme with a hard to read font. If you’re trying to start a online business, please don’t set it up like your old My Space account. You want everything to be clean, clear and professional.
- Is the theme Responsive? Nowadays having a site that is both desktop and mobile friendly is so important. Think of yourself as the reader, and how you’d feel if one of your favorite sites had a theme where you could only read from a desktop. You probably wouldn’t visit that often because you’re always on the go, and never at a desktop computer. Then, BOOM. You lose readers. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
- Does the theme fit your needs? Depending on what you’ll be writing about, a certain layouts maybe better for you. Take a look at different blogs in your specific niche to see what type of plugins or features they use.
- What do you find helpful when visiting other sites? This ties into the bullet point right above. When you visit other websites, what is it that made their page attractive and easy to navigate.
Step 5 – Content
Write interesting and credible content! Quality over quantity, always. You want to ensure that what you’re writing or sharing teaches, inspires or motivates. As a reader, I like to leave my favorite bloggers site knowing I learned something that I will be able to apply immediately. When writing content, you want to provide the following:
- Answers/solve a problem
- Make sure it’s actionable (meaning the reader can apply the as soon as they’d like)
- Strong headline
- Accurate resources and proper credit
- Evoke emotion. Create inspiration to start something or keep pushing with something they’ve already started.
- Quality photos
Keep in mind that good posts take time and research. Starting a blog takes passion and commitment. Constant love and attention is needed as you’re your own writing team, photographer, marketing team, IT and public relations.