Do you plan to start a blog in 2020 but don’t know how? You are in the right place.
This post is an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to start a blog. We will start by defining a blog.
- 1 Who Should Start a Blog?
- 2 Choose Topic(s) To Start a Blog On
- 3 Choose a Blogging Platform
- 4 Choose and Register your Domain Name
- 5 Get a Web Hosting Account
- 6 Create a Web Style Guide
- 7 Install and Start a Blog on WordPress
- 8 Choose a Theme and Customize the Look of Your Blog
- 9 Create Content
- 10 Promote Your Blog
Who Should Start a Blog?
Blogging is for any and everyone. As long as you have something to share with the world and you want to help others, then blogging is for you. The following are examples of topics/things you can write about:
- Tell your story: Use your blog as a journal for your life experiences, personal journey and most importantly, share the lessons you learnt along the way.
- Write about what you know: For example, if you are a WordPress implementer like me and you build websites for people, it will very be easy for you to write and teach people how to use WordPress.
- Document your personal research: Is there a subject matter or topic that interests you and keeps you up at night? Do a thorough research and share your knowledge with the world through your blog.
- Start a movement or support a cause: If you feel strongly about things going on in your community or country from racism to right to education, you can start a blog to share your thoughts and elicit the support of like-minded people. You can also dedicate your blog to breast cancer and mental health awareness for example and serve as a fundraiser.
- Write about your business: If you are a business owner, you may benefit from having a blog. You can write about new products, the benefits/features of products and services and promotions you are running. Your blog can be a great source of information for your prospects and customers.
Whatever your reason is for wanting to start a blog, you will find this post super helpful especially if you know nothing about blogging.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into our step-by-step guide
Choose Topic(s) To Start a Blog On
The first step to take before you set up a blog is to choose your preferred topics (a.k.a blogging niche).
What is your blog about? This is a very important question to answer before you start a blog. You need to carefully think about topics that will be relevant to the group of people you are going to be writing for.
Whatever niche you pick should have a large audience if you want to monetize your blog. People must be interested in the set of topics you choose.
It is highly recommended that you pick topics that you love to talk about. Your ultimate goal, however, should be to help people with your blog posts/content.
There is a long list of blog topics/niches to choose from. You can either pick one or several topics. However, it is best to stick to 2 to 4 topics.
The following are the most popular blog niches
Sub niches include Travel, Nutrition, Health, Parenting, Fashion, Beauty, etc.
Sub niches include Sewing, Knitting, Photography, Painting, DIY crafts. etc
3. Business & Finance
Sub niches include Entrepreneurship, Frugal Living, Marketing, Sales, Investing, etc
Sub niches: Music, Games, Movies, Comedy and Theater
Sub niches: Web Design and Development, Cyber Security, Education, Environment
Choose a Blogging Platform
There are several online services and software that you can use to create/build your website, create and publish posts and share your content with the world. They are often called blogging platforms.
The platform you choose will depend on the type of blog you want to set up and the features that will be required to set up such a blog. As a beginner, you may go for one that is easy to navigate and set up and doesn’t require any coding skills. It also means you don’t have to download any software, pay for hosting or manage a web server.
You may require more or better features as your blog grows, to cater to your growing audience. That means you have to choose a self-hosted service that can handle the traffic your blog will be generating as it progresses. And also one that allows you add functionality to your blog through coding, plugins and premium themes.
Tip: Always have the future in mind when choosing a blogging platform. Write down your blogging goals and let that determine what service you choose. For example, if you are blogging for fun or as a hobby and do not plan to monetize your blog, then you can go for a hosted service like WordPress.com. But if you plan to monetize, then a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org will be your best choice.
Best Blogging Platforms
These are a few of the best blogging platforms:
Blogger is a free blog publishing service hosted by Google. you can set up a blog on blogger in just a few minutes. All you need is a Google account. It is very easy to set up and use, so it doesn’t require you to have any technical skills. Blogger allows users to choose from various available designs and templates and customize them.
If you want to blog on a budget or are interested in microblogging, then Tumblr is for you.
Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website. It allows users to post content forms such as texts, audio, images, videos GIFs etc. Users can also follow other users blogs. It is free and very easy to set up and use.
Are you looking for a platform that promotes community involvement/engagement and social networking? Medium will certainly be a good choice.
Medium is a place for both amateur and professional bloggers, writers, journalists etc. It is free to use and easy to set up.
Wix.com is a web development platform that allows users to create responsive and high-quality sites using drag and drop tools. You can choose from various templates and design your blog. Users also enjoy advanced features like online stores, booking and much more.
Signing up for a basic free Wix website is free but you can add a custom domain if you wish to.
WordPress.com is a blogging platform hosted by Automatic. WordPress.com offers freemium hosting, meaning you can start a blog free of charge but will be charged for upgrades or additional features such as storage, custom domain etc. It is important to note that you do not own your wordpress.com site, so you must abide by rules and regulations set up by the “provider”. You also cannot run ads and monetize your blog.
Choose and Register your Domain Name
Finding a domain name is a very important and exciting part of the process of starting a blog. Your domain name has to be meaningful, especially to you, because that will be your online identity for some times. Therefore, you need to consider a lot of factors and choose carefully.
How To Choose the Perfect Domain Name
1. Stick to .com domain names
These are the most popular domain names. According to research from domainnamestat.com, 43% of all domain names have the .com domain extension. Names with the .com extension, are also easiest to remember
2. The shorter, the better
In general, shorter domain names are better. Therefore, aim for 4-16 characters if possible. Example of a domain name with 4 characters is “food.com”
3. Let it be easy to pronounce and spell
Your website visitors should be able to pronounce and spell your domain name without difficulty. If they have to say “huh?” or ask you/anyone for the spelling, then it’s too complicated.
4. Include a “niche” keyword
For instance, if your blog is going to be mainly about setting up tents or teaching people how to set up tents, you can name your blog tentsetup.com
The keyword in your domain will generally improve your SEO. Most importantly, let the keyword you choose be at the beginning of your domain name.
5. When stuck, use domain name generators
Choosing a domain name can be quite difficult. Sometimes, you may come up with something meaningful and catchy but may find that the .com domain name is already taken. Consequently, you will have to come up with new ideas for your domain name. That can frustrating!
The good news is you don’t have to go through any stress to come up with domain names. Some tool can do that for you.
Try these top 3 domain name generators, and save yourself some headaches.
This tool allows you to enter a single keyword and the search result will come up with hundreds of domain name ideas.
This tool allows you to enter 2 keywords at a time and it will instantly generate domain name ideas.
Namestall offers a variety of options to help your domain name search. Firstly, you will enter your keyword, then choose whether you want the keyword at the beginning or end or if you want a hyphen included in your domain name.
Finally, you will select domain extensions (up to 4) of choice. The result will show domain names that are taken and those available for registration.
Popular Domain Name Registrars
Some of the top domain name registrars are
Get a Web Hosting Account
After selecting and registering your domain name, the next important step to take is to get a reliable web hosting service.
It is important to note that most hosting companies also offer domain registration services. I recommend that you register your domain through your web hosting company to start a blog that is easy to maintain.
I use Siteground’s StartUp plan for this blog, mainly because of their outstanding technical features like speed, performance, security and uptime.
Benefits of using Siteground
- Starts at $3.95
- 30 days money back
- Free WordPress installation
- WordPress Auto-updates
- Daily backups
- Free email accounts
- Free SSL
- 24/7 support
Create a Web Style Guide
A web style guide is an element of a “larger” document called the brand style guide.
One of the most important documents every blogger should have is a brand style guide.
The reason most bloggers don’t bother to create a brand style guide is they don’t see themselves as a brand or a business. In reality, every blogger is building a brand and can create a business by selling products e.g courses, eBooks, etc. Therefore, the importance of a brand style guide cannot be overemphasized. I will write more about a brand style in another post
What is a Web Style Guide?
A web style guide is a guideline or reference tool that helps maintain consistency in what your website/blog communicates and looks like.
Setting up a blog and creating branded resources becomes easier when there is well thought out and written web style guide.
Important Elements of a Web Style Guide
There are three most important elements of a web style guide. They include
- Typography and
1. Color: Choosing a good color for your website can be a little daunting, especially if you’re not a web designer. However, if you want your website/blog to be visually attractive and effective , you will have to incorporate some colors.
It helps web visitors to quickly identify and get the information they are looking for when consistent colors are used for links, buttons, backgrounds, etc
Colors are represented in hex codes and RGB values on websites. I use Color Hex to discover beautiful color harmonies, shades, tints, tones and their respective hex codes. You will also get the CSS codes for customization of your blog.
2. Typography: This represents over 90% of the design elements of most websites. The fonts you chose can greatly enhance or affect the overall look of your blog. Therefore, fonts/typefaces should be well researched. This should include the fonts used within the Logo, headings, subheadings, etc.
It is also important to know the font size, line height, spaces and colors that enhance readability.
I recommend that you visit as many blogs as possible for inspiration. When you find fonts that look appealing, use Whatfont, a google chrome extension, to know the typeface (font name), font family, size, weight, line height and color.
3. Logo: After figuring out your brand colors and typography, the next step is to design your logo.
Logos don’t have to be complicated to stand out. Do you want to start a blog on a budget? Or you just want a simple logo like me? Simply go on Canva, choose a nice font or template and design your logo in just a few minutes.
Install and Start a Blog on WordPress
To create a blog, you need to install WordPress on your computer. The good news is you don’t need to do this manually. If you use Siteground hosting as I do, all you do is log into your hosting account, choose WordPress as your CMS software of choice and it will automatically be installed for you. You also have access to various website tools including custom email, etc
Choose a Theme and Customize the Look of Your Blog
The most fun part of setting up a blog is the customization process, at least to me it is. This is where creativity and design skills are much needed. If you have created a web style guide like I suggested above, this part should be easy and quick. The process involves choosing a theme, then customizing it by applying your brand colors and fonts to headers, links, buttons etc. Themes determine the overall look of your blog but in order to add features and functionality to your blog, you must also install plugins.
How to Install a WordPress Theme
Installing a theme is easy and you can customize with no coding skills. The way to do it is from the WordPress dashboard. Click on Appearance (highlighted in the picture below) and then click on Themes. After clicking that, a new page opens.
Then you click on Add New or the + button.
Once you have done that, you can search for themes on the search bar to the right and click Install. You can also install a Worpress theme by uploading a zip file of a premium theme or any theme downloaded from a third-party site. To do that, click on Upload Theme.
Now that your blog has been set up, you have to start creating content and writing blog posts.
How to Write a Blog Post
The first step in writing a blog post is to choose a topic and title for your blog post. This will determine the direction of your content.
When choosing a blog topic or title, you need to consider what people are searching for so you can answer questions and provide solutions to the problems that they may be facing. Your content must be relevant and helpful for it to be effective.
Before you pick a topic to write about, you need to do keyword research.
Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines. They are the topics or things people want to learn about.
There are various keyword research tools e.g Google Trends and KWfinder
A good practice is to focus on one long tail keyword per blog post. A long tail keyword is a very targeted phrase that contains three or more words e.g “Start a blog” OR “How to start a blog”.
Website visitors who type the exact or similar phrase to your long tail keyword, are more likely to click and read your blog post
Also ensure that the title of your blog post is catchy and promising, especially because that is the first thing that catches a reader’s attention.
The next step is to write a post for your chosen keyword. It is recommended that your post should be up to 500 words at least. When writing your post, it is important to optimize your post. Keyword Optimization simply means to use your keywords (in a healthy amount) throughout your blog post.
If you need help jump-starting your creativity, check out Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator. You simply type a keyword and it will come up with blog post ideas for you.
Promote Your Blog
Now that your blog has been set up and you have written a post. It’s time to spread the word.
One of the easiest ways to promote your blog is to tell your family and friends about your new blog. Share links to your posts and ask them to help share with their friends and colleagues.
Another excellent way to get increased visibility for your blog is to share your content on social media. To do that effectively you need to focus on the most relevant social networks for your blog niche. Join groups, communities and forums on all relevant social networks and share your posts. Some popular sites to share your posts include:
Finally, don’t forget to encourage social sharing. Getting your audience to share your content on social media will increase your reach. You can achieve this kind of promotion by placing visually attractive Social Sharing Buttons at the top or bottom of your post. Examples of social sharing plugins to use for a WordPress site include:
There are other ways to promote your blog which I will write a comprehensive post about. This post is getting too long so I have to stop here.
If you found this helpful, kindly share with family and friends. Thanks for stopping by.