How to Start a Blog: The Ultimate Guide
Are you looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog? If so, you're definitely in the right place!
I'll show you how to create a blog the right way, minus the confusing jargon or the need for any technical experience.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. That said, I never recommend a product or service that I don't personally use for my business.
How to Start a Blog: The Six Steps
There are six key steps to follow if you want to create a blog.
Don't worry if this feels a little intimidating. This article will guide you through everything step-by-step to help you get your blog set up and ready to go.
This article also covers a number of the next steps that you'll likely be interested in once your blog is set up, including guidance on writing your first blog post, a brief overview of how to get traffic to your new blog, and how you can go about making money.
These tips will help ensure that you don't just start any old blog, but that you know how to start a successful blog that you can be proud of.
Why Start a Blog in the First Place?
There isn't one specific reason why someone would choose to create a blog. The benefits of blogging are vast, and you don't need to fit a particular mold to be successful at it.
Regardless if you're looking to start a blog as a new business, to grow an existing business, or you'd like to start a personal blog around a hobby or interest, there's no reason why you can't experience all the benefits associated with blogging if you're determined enough and you stick at it.
Let's look at some of the reasons to start a blog today:
- To Start a Business
There are countless examples of ordinary people who run their blogs as full-time businesses.
Provided you're committed to success, it's entirely feasible to be able to start a blog business that could eventually lead to the 'holy grail' scenario of quitting your 9-5 job to work from home on something you enjoy.
- To Grow an Existing Business
Blogging can help business owners leverage the power and scale of the internet to boost their brand's visibility and trust.
These benefits don't need to be expensive either, as it's possible to optimize a blog to receive lots of free traffic from search engines and social media. By regularly posting valuable content that solves specific problems for your target market, a blog can be an excellent way to increase trust, respect, and ultimately sales from the people who connect with your business.
- To Grow Your Reputation/Influence
Over time, blogging can help you achieve expert status in a particular field when you regularly provide helpful insights and valuable content that solves specific problems for your audience.
Growing your influence and reputation via a blog can help you stand out in your industry, and can lead to new and exciting opportunities such as better job offers, guest speaking invitations, the ability to become a published author, and being able to network with the movers and shakers in your industry.
- To Improve Your Writing
Practice makes perfect. The more blog posts you write, the better your writing will become. It's as simple as that.
- To Express Yourself
Blogging gives you the opportunity to share anything you'd like, for example, your story, challenges you've overcome, your thoughts on current affairs, or your progress learning a new skill.
Whatever direction you choose for your blog, putting self-expression at the front of everything you do can help you meet new people, understand conflicting points of view, or become a source of inspiration for people experiencing difficulties in areas of their lives in which you've already succeeded.
Step 1: Decide What to Blog About
Step 2: Pick the Best Blogging Platform
Step 3: Pick a Domain Name
Step 4: Choose a Blog Host and Install WordPress
Step 5: Choose a WordPress Theme
Step 6: Install the Must-Have WordPress Plugins
Next Steps: Blogging Tips for Beginners
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A blog (taken from the word weblog) is a type of website where content is regularly updated and displayed in reverse chronological order, i.e., the newest material appears first.
There isn't a massive difference between a blog and a website (a blog can be a website by itself, or it can feature as a section of a more extensive website), other than the fact that a 'traditional' website usually isn't updated as often as a blog, and the content is organized into pages and sections as opposed to being shown in reverse chronological order.
Although there are a some free blogging platforms available (e.g., WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.), I (and a lot of other successful bloggers) agree that it is not a good idea to start a free blog.
There's no denying the obvious attraction to a free blog, but there are many reasons why it isn't a great option:
- Free blogging platforms aren't intended for serious bloggers.
- These platforms offer very basic features and functionality which will only hold you back in the long-run.
- You will likely be (heavily) restricted on how you can make money with your free blog.
- You must comply with the free blogging platforms' terms and conditions, or risk having your blog and its content taken off you.
- They look basic, and in most cases unprofessional.
You can view a more detailed answer here.
I recommend starting a self hosted WordPress.org blog, and the main expenses are as follows:
- Hosting - This doesn't need to be expensive, for example, Siteground offers hosting from as little as $3.95 per month.
- Domain Name - A custom domain name (e.g., OnePercentIntent.com) typically ranges from $10-20 per year.
- A Premium Theme - I recommend avoiding free themes as they typically don;t offer great support/frequent updates. I use the Avada theme which is $60 and offers considerable value for money.
- Paid Plugins - Depending on your preference, you may wish to add a number of premium plugins when you start a blog to increase functionality. This cost varies from plugin to plugin.
There are a number of reasons why I recommend Siteground vs Bluehost or other popular blog host providers:
- Super-Easy Installation - Thanks to their 1-Click Installer (included on all plans), it couldn't be quicker and more straightforward to install WordPress.
- Autoupdates - Siteground automatically installs the latest version of WordPress for you each time an update is released, meaning you have one less thing to worry about as you grow your blog.
- Ultra-Fast Loading - All Siteground plans come with awesome features to help your blog load as quickly as possible.
- Free Extras - Each plan includes free extras, for example a Let's Encrypt SSL certificate (to make your blog more secure) and a CDN from Cloudflare (to help your blog load quicker).
- Officially Recommended by WordPress.org - WordPress.org has included Siteground in their selection of the best blog hosts available, giving you peace of mind that it is a trustworthy, reliable and favored platform to start a blog on.
You can see how to start a blog with Siteground step-by-step here.
WordPress is a type of program known as a content management system, which is designed to allow you to design, create and edit a website and it's content. Any time you change something on your blog, for example, customizing the layout, adding an about page, publishing a new blog post, or replying to a comment on an article, you will be interacting directly with WordPress.
A web host, on the other hand, is simply a company that 'rents' space on its servers for you to store all of the different files that make up the blog you created using WordPress.
Most people fit into one of two camps when it comes to starting a blog. They’re either happy to sacrifice a bit of functionality if it means they can set up their blog quicker and more easily, or, they aren’t fazed with a bit of work upfront if it allows them to add more awesome features to keep their audiences engaged and entertained.
WordPress.com could be viewed as the simple option (with reduced functionality), as everything you need to get started is provided including the hosting you need for your blog.
WordPress.org, however, is often described as the more powerful option as there are very few restrictions or limitations, and it's the platform of choice for a large proportion of successful bloggers. It's up to you to find hosting (hence why it's referred to as self hosted WordPress), and a domain, however, but these can be very simple to get and set up as shown here.
No. As you'll see from the steps in this guide, there is little to no complex coding required when you first start a self-hosted WordPress blog, especially during the installation stage.
Customizing Your Blog
As mentioned previously, I recommend that beginner bloggers choose a WordPress theme that includes a visual page builder to minimize/remove any coding requirements.
The Avada WordPress theme is my go-to option here, as it allows you to modify your blog's appearance using a simple drag-and-drop editor, an extensive menu of easily-customizable options and dozens of pre-built pages that you can start using straight away.
There are a number of reasons why I use and recommend the Avada theme:
- Mobile Responsive - Avada is fully responsive and passes Google's mobile-friendly test with flying colors. It is super-easy to adapt your blog's layout to look great on smaller devices.
- Easy to Create Custom Layouts - The Avada theme comes with the Fusion Builder, a visual page builder which you can use to create stunning layouts from simple, yet highly-customizable, drag-and-drop elements.
- Easily Customizable - Avada's theme options make it a breeze to customize the look and feel of your site. You can quickly customize every aspect of your blog including its layout, color scheme, post or page content, sidebar styling and hundreds of other variables.
- Well Trusted & Liked - Avada has been the number one selling WordPress theme six years in a row, having been purchased in excess of 450,000 times. At the time of writing, it has an average of 4.77/5 from over 20,000 ratings.
- Stunning Pre-Built Layouts - Don't feel like coming up with a new layout from scratch? No worries! Avada includes dozens of page layouts that you can edit or use straight away to quickly get started.
You can see how to get started with Avada step-by-step here.
I recommend that you install six types of plugin when you start a blog:
- A WordPress plugin to help your blog load quickly - Recommended: WP Rocket
- A service to help you start your email list - Recommended: AWeber
- A WordPress plugin to help you grow your email list - Recommended: Thrive Leads
- A WordPress plugin to help you track your blog's performance - Recommended: Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
- A WordPress plugin to help keep your blog secure - Recommended: Wordfence Security
Click any of the links above to navigate to the relevant section for each plugin, and how to learn how to install them to your new WordPress blog.
No problem. I cover how to add plugins to WordPress in step six.
These installation processes aren't unique to the plugins featured in this guide, as you can easily apply the process to any other plugins you wish to install.
In blogging terms, a niche is when you choose to write about one topic exclusively.
Many new bloggers make the mistake of wanting to write about anything and everything, which usually leads to them making little to no progress because their content is too unfocused. As the saying goes, you're better off going an inch wide and a mile deep (i.e., choosing one topic that you write as much useful content as possible about) than a mile wide and an inch deep.
For example, you'd be successfully niching down if you chose to do any of the following:
- Start a Travel Blog - e.g., showing people how to travel well on a budget.
- Start a Fashion Blog - e.g., showcasing the latest trends in women's shoes.
- Start a Beauty Blog - e.g., providing makeup tutorials for people with a limited budget.
- Start a Fitness Blog - e.g., around a certain aspect of fitness such as CrossFit.
- Start a Music Blog - e.g., dedicated to uncovering best new electronic dance music (EDM).
- Start a Mommy Blog - e.g., showcasing awesome tips, tricks and hacks for new moms.
I provide some tips here to help you find your niche.
Don't let this put you off starting a blog.
A lot of bloggers change topics a few times before they find their groove, so don't get too hung up on choosing the perfect niche to start with.
Nothing is permanent in blogging, so if you need to mix things up further down a line, it usually isn't that difficult to do so.
Check out the following tips here to help choose a blog topic.
There's no definitive answer here, and it's up to you how long you want each blog post to be. In general, I advise prioritizing quality over quantity.
Having said that, a number of SEO experts have identified a link between a blog post's length and how well it ranks in the search results.
Neil Patel points out that the average length of a top-10 ranked piece of content in the search engines’ results pages is 2000 words, while Brian Dean from Backlinko found that the average length of content ranked number one by the search engines was 1890 words.
As with the previous answer, it's important to focus more on quality than quantity here.
The whole purpose of a blog is to post new content regularly, but it is up to you how you define this, i.e., a new post every week; a couple of posts a week; one post every month, etc.
Whatever frequency you choose, though, stick to it. You'll achieve better results if you commit to whatever schedule you decide on.
Yes, there's no reason why you can't make money from your blog provided you work hard enough.
Check out the following blog post for guidance: How to make money blogging.
There is no set limit to how much money you can make when you start a blog, as there are countless examples of bloggers that earn nothing from their blogs, all the way up to bloggers who earn as much as six- or seven-figures per year from their blogs.
I'm sure you'd be more interested in specifics, however, so check out the following results from a ProBlogger study into the monthly income figures of 1500 bloggers:
Check out the following post which shows the results of a study into how long it took six bloggers to earn a full-time income from their blogs:
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it covers the steps that a website owner (or an SEO firm or employee of a company) completes to get a website to appear higher in a search engine’s rankings.
The main reason why SEO is so popular is because, typically, the better your blog’s ranking for a particular search term, the more visible it will be within the results and the more visitors your blog is likely to get.
Boost your SEO: I've produced a complete eBook on WordPress SEO which you can download completely free here.
A Google Analytics WordPress plugin is a must for anyone wanting to see how many visitors their blog is getting.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP is my plugin of choice for tracking visitors, and it makes it super easy to see a variety of stats including real-time visitors, sessions, how much traffic is coming from organic searches, and the number of page views received, etc.
You can see how to install the plugin here.
I hope this guide has shown you that starting a WordPress blog doesn't need to be complicated or confusing. That said, if you do have any issues or concerns, let me know in the comments section, and I'll try to help you out as quickly as possible.
Good luck with your new blog!
P.S. If you found this guide useful, I'd really appreciate if you could share it so that others can benefit from it too. Thanks!