Want to start a blog but not sure where to start? This beginner’s guide will show you how to start a blog. It includes tips from a full-time blogger with four different blogs.
Blogging has become increasingly popular in the past several years. In 2018, there were 30.6 million bloggers in the United States. By 2020, the number of bloggers in the U.S. is set to reach 31.7 million. [source]
While the truth is most bloggers won’t end up making a full-time income there are many that are and if you have a topic you are passionate about and you are willing to work at it you can be one of those bloggers.
I’ve been blogging for over a decade and while many of those years were more of a hobby than a business I now make a full-time income and have been increasing my income about 15% each year for the past couple of years.
Being able to have my own business and work from home has been amazing for me. I have some chronic health issues that would make it hard for me to have a traditional 9-5 job. Blogging gives me the freedom to work when I’m feeling the best and to work in a more relaxed environment.
Blogging also allows me to travel more because I can bring my work with me or just move my schedule around. My husband also works from home, for an education company, because of my job I’m able to go with him sometimes when he travels for work. It’s been really great for us.
Blogging isn’t for everyone. If you want to make it a business you will need to work hard. You can’t just write a blog post and throw it up on the internet and expect people to find it.
If you set up your blog well from the start you have an even better chance at finding success. I currently have four blogs. One was started as a hobby blog with no direction, one was set up in 2012 and I had some idea what I was doing but still didn’t set it up in the best way, and the most recent ones I had already started making a full-time income from blogging and I was able to set the sites up well from the start.
It’s amazing how much easier it is long term for me to grow the sites that I set up correctly from the start. They are still not overnight successes but they have steady growth and are easier to run overall.
If you are ready to put in some work to create a blog you will love and that readers will love as well, this easy to follow guide will help you get your blog set up and launched.
How to Start a Blog
Not sure how to start a blog? There are 7 steps you want to follow to set up your blog. Following these steps instead of just jumping in blindly will make it all an easier process.
Note: I recommend using WordPress.org as your blogging platform. These steps will work on other platforms but I believe that WordPress is by far better than the other options out there.
- Decide your blog niche.
- Pick your blog name.
- Choose a good blog host.
- Decide on a blog design.
- Customize your blog.
- Write great blog content.
- Promote your blog.
Step One: Decide Your Blog Niche
This can be a tough step but it’s also important. You want your blog to have a direction. The niche can be something more broad like lifestyle or more narrow like parenting young children.
While this can evolve some overtime it’s still a good idea to have a general idea going into blogging. Knowing your niche will help you with the next step of picking a name and even can help you decide on an overall blog design. And of course, knowing your niche helps you to decide what to write about.
Think about what you are passionate about. Think about what topics your friends come to you for advice on. If these things overlap you likely have the perfect niche for you.
If you need help reach out to some friends and see what topics they consider you knowledgable about. Even if you don’t feel like an expert yet you can keep learning more as you share with others.
Need some help brainstorming niche ideas? These are some popular niches. Don’t be afraid to use a niche that isn’t as popular and may not be on this list. There can be a big advantage to being in a less saturated niche.
For example, one of my blogs is a Christmas blog. There are few active blogs in this niche so it’s easier for me to rank well on Google as a Christmas expert. While my traffic may be a bit seasonal there are big opportunities here.
Popular Blog Niches
- Lifestyle- This is a very general niche that can include a lot of topics. If you want to cover several topics this could be the right niche for you.
- Food- Food blogs are very popular. Most people these days use food blogs to help them find new recipes making it a very popular and high traffic niche. This is also a tough niche as photography is really important and creating new recipes can be time-consuming.
- Parenting- If you have children and feel like you can help other parents with issues in parenting this could be the niche for you. There are also a lot of sub parenting niches, don’t feel like you have to know a lot about all parenting issues to be apart of this niche.
- Homemaking- This is a pretty broad niche. My first blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green, is a homemaking blog. I blog about cleaning, cooking, DIY, organization, and basically anything you need to run a home.
- Crafting & DIY- If you enjoy any kind of crafting or DIY projects this can be a fun niche. You can share your projects, favorite products, and other useful tips about your favorite crafts and projects. This is another niche where good photography skills are useful.
- Sustainable Living- As we are learning more about the reasons we need to be living more sustainably this niche is really taking off because people are looking for solutions. My blog, Green Oklahoma, is in this niche. Mine is a bit more narrow as I target people in my state of Oklahoma but a lot of my content is useful for people all over the world.
- Travel- Travel blogging is perfect for anyone that loves to travel. Who wouldn’t want to be paid to travel? In this niche, you can help people plan trips and share your trips as well.
- Personal Finance- I feel like this is one of the first blogging niches that really took off. Especially during the recession, people were looking for advice to help them save money. This is still a topic many people are interested in and some of the biggest bloggers are in this niche.
- Blogging- Blogs about blogging are highly popular as well. It’s not surprising that people interested in blogging read blogs. There are also blogs like this one that covers blogging but also covers broader topics. I like to cover all the topics that apply to female entrepreneurs.
This is just a quick overview of some popular niches. Don’t forget to consider some less popular niches. It’s all about your passions and what topics you feel like you have valuable things to add to.
Step Two: Pick Your Blog Name
This is one thing I wish I had taken more time on when I created my first blog Retro Housewife Goes Green. It’s a descriptive name which is good but it’s a bit longer than I’d prefer. My blog started out as just a hobby blog so it’s not something I thought about.
Brainstorm some ideas you like that do a good job describing what your blog is about. Once you have a few good ideas I recommend doing a Google search. Make sure that the name isn’t already used. You want to stand out and you also want to be sure you aren’t violating copyright or trademark.
You should also check to make sure the domain name is available and check to see if the usernames you want to use on social media are available. You may want to change your idea if any of these things aren’t available.
Once you have your name you want to get your domain. I recommend using Google Domains. It’s an affordable option and they give you free private registration so your address isn’t public.
Step Three: Choose a Good Blog Host
It’s tempting to just find the cheapest blog host but that is not always the best option. While it’s understandable to need an affordable option it’s extremely important that your host is a good host.
This is what will keep your blog running if it’s down all of the time people can’t read your site and you will struggle to grow. Google also wants you to have good site speed and minimal downtime, they will show your site in search results more often if these things are well taken care of on your site.
The host I have used for years is GreenGeeks. I choose them because they had good reviews and they buy green energy credits for the energy used to keep your site running. I really appreciate this and love having a site that has a smaller carbon footprint.
They have also been a great host for me. I have minimal downtime, my site speed is pretty good, and their customer service is really good.
Once I accidentally deleted my blog, yes the whole thing! I had a backup, which is very important, but it hadn’t backed up correctly and the images would not restore. I was very upset and so stressed. I contacted customer service and they had a backup as well and were able to restore my site with me only losing one blog post which I was able to get from my backup just without the photos that I had to add back in.
It was amazing and done very quickly. There are been several other times I’ve had issues with my site that GreenGeeks technical support has helped me fix.
You can get started with GreenGeeks for just $2.95 per month right now and they have a 30-day moneyback guarantee in case there is anything you don’t like about the service. Your cost will go up when it renews but it’s still very reasonable.
Step Four: Decide on a Blog Design
This is a step that has always taken me a long time. There are so many options out there and it can be hard to decide what to use. While WordPress.org does have free blog themes I don’t recommend using them.
These free options often will have updates that will totally change the design of your site. You need to keep the themes updated to avoid security and other site issues but the last thing you want is to get your site looking perfect only to have it totally changed when you update.
To prevent this issue choose a paid theme with what is called a child theme. The child theme is where you do your updates and even when you make updates those changes will remind on your site.
For all of my websites, I have used themes from StudioPress. They are high-quality themes, easy to use, and an industry favorite for a reason.
If the design part overwhelms you, you can also hire someone to do it for you. This will cost more but it can help you get your site up quickly and maybe worth skipping the headaches.
I recommend using Eighteen 36 Designs. They do great work and are easy to work with. They offer many services so be sure to look over those they may be able to help you in other areas you are struggling with as well.
Step Five: Customize Your Blog
You don’t just want to throw up a theme and call it good. You want to customize your blog to make it your own. You can change colors, fonts, and add your own graphics to help make the site your own.
How much you customize is up to you and your skill level. You can also hire someone like Eighteen 36 Designs to help you make customizations if you aren’t sure how.
While customizing your blog don’t forget to think about your branding. While this is a whole topic on its own it is important for making sure your brand is consistent across all platforms.
May sure you use a style, colors, and fonts that you want to use in all of your branding. Also, be sure all of these things are readable and look nice. If you aren’t sure about your design, ask some friends to look at your site and give you feedback.
Additional Resource: Branding Basics 101
Step Six: Write Great Blog Content
The best-designed blog in the world won’t do well if it doesn’t have good content. I will be the first to tell you that you don’t have to naturally be the best writer. I’m dyslexic and never would have expected that writing would end up being my career. My spelling is not the best and writing, in general, has taken practice.
One thing that helps me write better content and avoid spelling and grammar errors is Grammarly. I can no live without this tool! It’s so much better than traditional spell check and has changed my writing and helped me avoid so many errors.
There is a free version that will work for most of your uses. There is also a premium version with some extra features if you like it and want to get even more out of it.
Other keys to writing good blog content are research, organization, and personality. If you follow these things you are sure to have some great blog posts that your readers will love.
You want to research your topic to make sure you are giving the best information you can. Adding other sources for people that want to learn more can add so much value to your content. It’s also great for SEO because Google loves to see you linking to related content.
Make sure you are using good sources. You don’t want to be linking to spam sites or information that isn’t accurate. The information should serve your reader well.
Organizing your post helps make it easier to read. You will see in this post I’ve used headers to divide different parts of the post and lists and other tools to make sure that the information is easy to read and you can find what you are looking for without having to read every word.
People tend to skim blog posts, you are likely skimming this post now. By organizing the post well skimming is much easier and can allow people to consume the content quickly and effectively.
Personality is important in your writing because people read blogs for our voices. Loyal readers want to get to know you, not just the topic. They want to be able to relate to you and if you just write in a matter of fact way they can’t do that.
When writing it helps to think about the people you are writing to. Many bloggers like to have an avatar they create that is their ideal reader. This is simply a person you create that you get to know so you can imagine writing to that person. Having this person to write to can help you be personal and allow your personality to shine.
Additional Resource: How to Always Have Blog Post Ideas
Step Seven: Promote Your Blog
Once you have great content you need to share it. There are many ways to promote your blog and it can take time to learn how to use those different ways. Take your time and learn the best ways to use the platforms. Not all platforms may work well for you, don’t feel like you have to use them all, especially when starting out.
Some key ways bloggers promote their blog posts are Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, email lists, Instagram, and of course by using technics that help search engines like Google find your posts and share them with people.
I recommend having all of these platforms set up so you are sure to get the usernames you want but pick one at a time to learn. Once you learn one and start using it you can move on to the next.
Once you have a basic understanding you can dive deeper with the different platforms. Be sure to always been learning about these platforms and new ones that may come out because they are always changing and you can always learn more.
If I was going to suggest one platform to start with first I’d say email. It’s the most stable platform and it’s a great way to reach your loyal readers. My second favorite platform is Pinterest. It’s the number one traffic source for many bloggers and it’s a great way to reach new people.
Additional Resource: Creating Your Social Media Strategy
How to Start a Blog Summary
That was a lot of information! Don’t feel like you need to have gotten it all down this first time reading it. Save this post and go back to it as you start your blog.
Need a quick summary on how to start a blog? These are the key points I talked about in the post.
- Choose a niche that you are passionate about and feel like you have things to add to that niche.
- Pick a blog name that is memorable and easy to understand. Make sure you can get that domain.
- Don’t just pick the cheapest host, make sure they are reliable and will help your blog instead of holding it back.
- Take time on your blog design and make it your own. You want to stand out.
- Create good content that people will want to read and either learn from the post or be entertained.
- Don’t forget to promote your blog so people can actually find it and read it.
- Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once.
- Keep learning, there are always new things to learn when it comes to blogging.
Learn More About How to start a Blog
Looking for even more resources to help you create the best blog possible? These are some of my favorite blogging resources for beginner bloggers.
- Launch Your Blog Course– This course will help you learn everything you need to about launching your first blog.
- 3 Steps to Start That Blog You’ve Been Dreaming Of– This is a 1-hour video class to help you learn more of the basics. This a free course so perfect if you aren’t ready to commit to a paid course.
- WordPress 101– WordPress is the platform I recommend. It’s used by most top bloggers and is a really great blogging tool. If you haven’t used it before I recommend checking out WordPress 101 to learn more.
- Content 101– This is a great course if you are struggling with how to write great content.