How To Start A Blog in 2021 : A Beginner’s Guide
This is a comprehensive guide on blogging for beginners.
In this guide, I will teach you how to start a blog step-by-step.
By the end of this page, you will learn exactly :
- How to select a niche
- How to create a website on WordPress
- How to customize its look and feel
- How to write a blog post
- How to promote it
- How to monetize it.
I created this massive guide so that you can find everything that’s important in one place.
But, before we get started, let me share with you my story.
My Story of How I Started My Blog
I wanted to start a blog for 6 years, but I couldn’t.
Lack of awareness, the right information, and procrastination.
I thought I needed to know to code, invest a lot of money, and learn design. I kept procrastinating because I thought I didn’t have enough time. I also thought I needed an expert’s help to start a blog.
I was wrong.
One weekend I decided that I had waited too long, and I needed to start without thinking much about quality or mistakes. I did some online research, and started working on it.
I launched Growthdish within a day. In fact, a couple of hours.
It required zero knowledge of coding, minimum investment, and basic sense of designing. The best part is I did it without any expert help.
I was surprised. I asked myself why didn’t I do it for so long?
The answer was simple. I never took action.
I read thousands of articles, but never tried doing it.
I believe if I could start a blog in a couple of hours without any technical expertise, you can too. I want to share with you my knowledge and experience as a blogger to help you take the first step.
It’s a long, comprehensive, and detailed guide for beginners. I have tried to include everything you need to know to start a blog.
Let’s dive in.
But, Why Should You Start A Blog?
The internet has an answer for almost anything you want to know about. One search on google will take you to an expert’s land – a dedicated blog/website for the topic. Almost 70 million blogs are published every month.
But, why do people blog?
People blog for a variety of reasons. To earn money, to create passive income, to build authority, to express, to keep a journal. It’s important you know the reason because the success of your blog will depend on how well you know what you are blogging for.
It’s your passion that will help you stay motivated to work in the extra time you get after office or during weekends. If you truly know your purpose, you won’t feel exhausted or tired to churn out the next article.
From a 30,000 ft. view, there are better reasons for blogging.
- To help others with something you know
- To document your journey
- To learn new skills in the process
- To share your opinion with the world
- To inspire people to do something
Before you start working on your blog, ask yourself two questions:
- What motivates you to start a blog?
- Who will benefit from your blog and how?
Prepare a detailed answer to both the questions, keep it in your journal, and refer whenever you want to. A blog can help you achieve your goal only if you are clear with what you want from the beginning.
Step 1 - Select The Right Niche
One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make related to your blog is selecting the nice or topic of your blog.
While you are excited to start, and you want to write about everything you know about – from science, philosophy, fitness to cooking and share it with the world, it might stop you from reaching a wider audience.
Because people prefer to read and trust blogs that specialize in a particular niche. Search engines like Google ranks websites specializing on a single topic higher compared to a multi topic blog. And algorithms that power search engines love websites that showcase authority on a subject.
To become a successful blogger, you need to find a topic that you are confident about. Something that you already know better than most people, or you have a keen interest to build expertise knowledge over the topic. Something that you would love to teach to beginners.
Here’s a list of questions to help you find your niche.
What are your areas of expertise in professional life?
It doesn’t matter if you work at a hotel or you are an automobile engineer, you have something to share to the world – your experience and knowledge. You can be a coder, writer, designer, manager or the CEO, you can blog about what you have learned in your professional life.
What are the skills that you are most proud of?
You can start a blog on a basic skill like excel or an advanced topic like video editing, film-making, or data science.
What type of topics do you usually read about?
Observe the topics you usually like to read during your free time. Make a list of the books you have read and the blogs you frequently visit.
What are your hobbies?
Do you like painting, art & craft, or you enjoy running? If you start a blog about something you are passionate about you will never run out of energy or require extra motivation.
Are People Interested In Your Topic?
Finding the topic that you really care about to start a blog is important. But, before you start writing it’s necessary to find out if there are enough people interested in the same topic. The best way to find out the search volume using free tools like keyword planner in google ads or using ubersuggest. You can also search for Facebook pages and look at the number of likes and engagement levels.
Step 2 - Choose A Blogging Platform
Once you decide the niche you are going to blog about, it’s time to choose a blogging platform you will use.
Broadly, there are two kinds of platforms you need to choose from – free and self-hosted.
While the free blogging platforms like blogger, tumblr, medium, and wordpress.com are tempting for the zero cost service, they have limitations. Your blog will be subject to their rules and regulations. You may not be able to run ads or explore other ways to monetize it. In the worst-case scenario, they can remove your blog.
In short, when you opt for free blogging platforms, you give someone else the power to control your blog.
When your blog is self-hosted, you are the owner of your website. You decide the rules. From design, ad policy, to content, you are in complete control.
Why Should You Choose WordPress To Create Your Blog?
- User-friendly: WordPress is easy to use and best for people who do not want to get involved in coding to start a website.
- Trust: Approximately 35% of all websites on the internet are self-hosted on wordpress. There are numerous groups and forums to help you out if you face difficulty.
- Cost: WordPress is completely free to use. It’s an open-source platform built by developers and is extremely popular among bloggers.
- Customizable: There are numerous plugins to choose from to add features and customize your blog the way you want.
Difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com
WordPress.com is a free platform that uses open-source software wordpress.org and allows you to create a blog without any charges. But, as I said before, there are limitations when you use a free blogging platform.
- It can limit you to run ads and stop you from monetizing your blog
- You cannot customize the way you want
WordPress.org allows you to install the open-source software WordPress to your web-host and makes you the owner of your website. You can tweak and twist your website at your will. You remain in complete control.
However, to start a blog you need to invest in purchasing a domain name, get hosting, and a theme to install WordPress on your web host. The promising returns you can get as a blogger compared to the investment make the investment worth it.
If you are serious about blogging and you want your blog to become popular or monetize it in the future, I recommend using a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org
Step 3 - Pick a Domain Name for Your Blog
To start a blog, you need to invest in two things – domain name & web hosting. First, let’s discuss the domain name.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the name of your blog. It’s what your visitors will type on the address bar to find your website (for example www.yourname.com). It has to be unique and must be registered before you use it. No two websites on the internet can have the same domain name.
So, your job is to not just name your blog but to find a name that’s available as a domain name. BluehostDomainSearch is an excellent free tool to search available domain names. It also gives you suggestions you can use to make your name unique.
What makes a great domain name?
Your blog/website name isn’t just a name, it also represents your brand. Make it unique, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce.
If you study the names of popular companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Uber, and try to find a way to create a similar name it would be difficult. Because there is no such formula to create great names.
You can name your blog on your name, the purpose of your blog, the audience name, or create a completely new name. Try to keep it short and prefer a .com extension if available.
Where to Register a Domain Name?
Once you finalize the name, register with a domain provider like BlueHost. You can get it for free for the first year.
Step 4 : Get a Web Hosting
Now that you have a name for your blog, let’s get a hosting to bring your website online so that anyone can view it.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is a service provider that provides you the technologies to make your website available on the internet. Websites are stored on servers that connect to users searching for your website and let them view your website.
The hosting provider manages the visitors, keeps backup and makes your website available 24*7.
You need a hosting provider who is reliable, can be trusted for quality, and provides excellent customer service.
While there are a million hosting providers promising attractive offers and benefits, there are only a handful of companies you can truly believe in.
Bluehost is an ideal hosting service provider. The uptime reliability, excellent customer support, and inexpensive price makes it one of most popular hosting providers. And it’s officially recommended by wordpress.org.
The best part is you can get started at $2.5 per month and get a free domain name ($12 – $15) for a year with additional benefits like a free SSL Certificate, and a one-click WordPress install.
Here’s how you can buy:
Click here to go to Bluehost and then click on get started as shown in the image below.
Select the basic plan if you are a beginner and you have only one website.
Once you choose the plan, get the free domain name for your website.
In the next page, fill up the required information to make the payment. Choose a minimum 2-year plan to save a few bucks and to stay committed to the blog. In the package, extras section don’t forget to check domain privacy.
You can make the payment via credit card or using more payment options.
Step 5 - Set Up Your WordPress Blog With One Click
The major part is done.
Bluehost will take you to your account where you need to click Install WordPress under the website section.
After this, you need to fill up a few more details like domain name, name of your website, and your email address to admin login details to complete the automatic WordPress installation.
Congratulations !! Your website is now live.
Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.
Right now if you visit the website, you can see a template theme with no content and the basic structure of a blog.
It’s time to work on the look and feel of your blog to make it look professional.
Step 6 - Design Your Blog (Choose A Theme)
You don’t go for an interview without getting properly dressed. Right?
Even though you have the required experience and qualifications, you wear a suit, tie and a nice pair of shoes to look professional and prepare for the occasion.
Your clothes are an extension of your personality. It makes the interviewers think that you take the opportunity seriously, it makes them feel good about yourself, and it complements whatever you say.
Similarly, the design of your blog creates a good first impression. It creates a good experience for your visitors apart from adding value.
Good design doesn’t necessarily mean shiny colors or moving sliders on your website. It’s about helping visitors find the right information easily, guiding them to navigate smoothly through your website, and readability.
While there are numerous free themes on WordPress to get started, I recommend using a premium theme to make your website look unique, organized, and professional.
Here’s a list of premium themes you can use as a beginner:
- Genesis Framework
- Generate Press
All of the above themes are good to get started. You can always change the theme if you want later.
Step 7 - Install The Necessary Plugins
While the design is all about the look and feel of your blog, plugins are about functionality. You want your website to function at high speed, capture emails of visitors, have social sharing buttons, analytics reports, and so much more.
To add any functioning to your website you need to install a plugin.
Here’s a list of recommended plugins you need to get started.
- WP Rocket
- Yoast SEO
- Easy Social Share Buttons
- Short Pixels
There are more than 50,000 plugins on WordPress you can install to improve your blog. As you grow your blog, you need to add more functions, thus more plugins. But for now, you can stick to the basics.
Step 8 - Write Your First Blog Post
Finally, we made it. Your blog is up and live. Now it’s time to share your thoughts with the world.
First, let’s understand how to post a blog on WordPress.
- Move your cursor to Posts and click add new.
- Add a title of your blog in the title section
- Enter your content on the blog post box
- Create headlines, sub-headlines, and paragraphs with the editing tool
- You can also add image inside the blog with the insert option
- Add a featured image
- Add tags to help your audience find our post in the website
- Add a category to make your organize your content in your blog
- Hit publish when ready.
What should your first blog be about?
Your first blog will set the foundation of your blogging business. The topic you select is crucial because it sets the tone of success. You want readers to come back after reading for the next few blogs. Right?
So, you need to write about something that your readers want to know about and you have expertise in the subject. Find a topic that keeps your readers awake at night and then try to solve the problem with your blog.
How to write a headline?
You may write an excellent blog post but if your readers don’t click on the headline they will never know the amazing article you have written. You need to catch the attention of readers with a unique, catchy, and clickable headline.
- How to write exceptionally good headlines
How to write an introduction?
Once you get your readers to click on the headline, you have to hold their attention with a promise and quickly show them why reading this article is worth their time. You need to address the desires and deepest fears of your target audience and tell them how exactly will this blog help them.
- How to write a captivating introduction: 4 Simple Steps
How to write engaging content?
You may be a scholar on the topic and you may be writing daily. But, if you don’t have an engaging writing style nobody is going to read what you write. That’s the hard fact. You need to write clear, concise, and convincing copy that converts.
- How to write engaging content: 5 Powerful Tips
How to become a good writer?
Let’s face it. If you want to become a successful blogger, you need to be a good writer. You may not have a background in writing, but, if you understand your audience, you can quickly learn the tricks of the trade. There is no magic trick to writing great content, it’s an art. You need to master it with practice.
- How to become a really good writer
Step 9 - Promote Your Blog
Now you might think that you learned the technical details of blogging, invested so much, and wrote valuable content, so your job is done. Word of mouth should work and people will find your blog.
But, it’s not that simple.
While the content you share may be awesome, you need to help interested audiences find you easily. And that’s not gonna happen automatically unless you are a celebrity.
The truth is promoting a blog takes a lot of hard work, patience, and time. You need to try multiple platforms and find out what’s working for you, then focus your energy in one direction. Most bloggers will tell you to spend 80% of your time on promotion and 20% time on creation.
Here’s a list of proven techniques you can use to increase traffic to your blog.
Social Media :
Sharing your blog on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter is one of most basic things to get started. But you and I both know that it’s not enough. Each platform is different and you need to understand every platform and work in the right direction to build a following.
You need to engage with people by replying to comments, tag and collaborate with influencers and help people who are looking for information. You need to use the right hashtags, post frequently, and write about things that benefit people.
Social media tools like Hootsuite and Buffer will help you automate your social media campaigns and generate reports.
Email Marketing :
Almost every successful blogger will tell you to capture emails of visitors by providing valuable information so that you can send an email and notify them when you post a new blog or you plan a webinar.
Besides, it’s the easiest way to get traffic to your website. You can always share valuable information with loyal visitors and expect engagement.
Convertpro is an amazing tool to capture email and Convertkit is an excellent email marketing tool used by the blogger community for email marketing.
Influencer Marketing :
Reaching out to other bloggers and influencers in the industry to leverage their audience can give you free visitors. There’s no doubt that it will work like magic. But, why should other influencers help you? What should you do in return to ask for a favor?
It’s not that difficult. All you need to do is build a relationship with them. Start with commenting on blogs, sharing their posts on social media and mentioning them on your blog. Once you get noticed, you can write to them about how you follow their work and you have created a blog that might help him and his audience and finally request him/her to share the post on social media channels.
You can also collaborate with other influencers to do an interview and share it on social media and tag them. It’s a process of mutual benefit where the core focus should be creating value for the audience.
Search Engine Optimization:
The only way to consistently get traffic to your blog is by ranking higher on google search results. It’s a cut-throat competition to get the top and you need to work smart apart from delivering the best article.
While on-page optimization like meta-tags and H1, H2 headlines, and keyword optimization are important it’s not enough to get visitors.
Write guest posts on websites frequently visited by your target audience to be found my interested audience. Similarly, you need to create highly valuable content and reach out to high authority websites and request for backlinks to increase your domain authority.
Paid Promotion :
Paid campaigns on social media channels like Facebook to drive relevant visitors might give the initial boost you need to get started.
But before you get started compare the ROI of paid campaigns on various platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit. You need to find out the platform where you are likely to find your audience and it costs less.
Online communities like forums and groups on social media and dedicated websites can give you the benefit of an already established audience. All you need to do is participate in discussions and offer valuable information to readers and direct them to your blog at appropriate times.
Content Syndication :
Publishing your content on platforms like LinkedIn pulse and Medium is a great way to leverage the higher domain authority and increase your chances of being found by interested people. Make sure you publish on your blog first, let it get indexed on google, then republish it to use canonical tags to get the benefit of publishing first on your website.
Content discovery platform :
Remember the similar articles you see when you visit a news channel website below the article? Those are paid native advertising ways to drive traffic to your website.
If you don’t have budget limitations, and you want higher reach, content discovery platforms like Taboola, Outbrain, and MGID are amazing ways to get traffic.
Step 10 - Monetize Your Blog
Is it possible to earn money blogging? Can you make a living by blogging? Can you generate passive income from your blog?
The answer is “Yes”. It’s definitely possible to monetize your blog.
But, the truth is it won’t happen overnight. The question is are you willing to do what it takes to make money? Do you have the patience to get regular visitors, develop expertise, and build trust among your readers?
Before you think about making money you need to think how much time can you give to your blog daily, how frequently can you publish, and do you have the passion to stay consistent without seeing results in the initial months.
While there are numerous ways to monetize, you need to find out what works for you.
Just like your local store owner doesn’t create or owns a product but earns a commission when you buy from him, you can too earn from your blog – by affiliate marketing. You can promote products, applications, courses with affiliate programs and earn a commission when someone purchases after they click on the link you share.
Affiliate marketing works best when you promote things you have expertise knowledge about and your audience trusts you. If you have a blog on yoga and promote an iphone it’s unlikely that people will trust you, but if you promote a yoga mat or meditation courses, your audience is going to trust you.
Google Adsense & Display Ads
Selling ad slots on your blog is one of the most basic things you can do to monetize your blog. If you have more than thousand visitors a day you can apply to get approval from ad networks and they will automatically run ads based on the content you have and user search history.
If you have built expertise in a niche, you can compile all the relevant blogs and sell it as an ebook to your readers. It’s a one time effort and you can create a passive source of income on your blog.
Startups, small and medium companies, or individuals who are just starting might gain immensely from your experience. You can charge for hourly sessions and solve a clients problem or give a strategy to follow. If you plan to work for a couple of months, you can decide on monthly payments.
Accepting Guest Posts
As the reach of your blog grows, you are likely to get noticed by agencies and other bloggers. Chances are, you will get requests to accept guest posts on your website and you can get paid for it. It’s an amazing way to generate money from your blog and deliver value to your readers at the same time.
Businesses in your niche might reach you to promote their product or service to your audience. You can sell your influencer services as a complete package – blog post, email, social media posts if you have a good follower base.
Experts call it the next big thing on the internet. Forbes says, online learning is headed to become a $325 billion by 2025.
Your course topic need not be a complex one. It can be as simple as how to start a Youtube channel. Whatever topic you choose, you need to do market research and find out if people would be interested in investing in such a course.
Take Action NOW
As I said earlier, if you determine and focus your energy, you can start your blog within a day. But it won’t happen by reading articles, watching videos or daydreaming about blogging. So, push yourself to take the first step and watch the birth of your blog.
It’s an amazing feeling.
I am sure you are now better prepared to start your blog. I tried to include everything you probably need to know as a beginner.
But, if you still get stuck somewhere, and you need guidance, let me know in the comments section, and I will try my best to help you.
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