Ah! How useful would one of these articles have been many years ago when I thought creating a blog was easy as a pie! It took me a while to realize that there’s so much more to blogging than just getting on a platform and start writing.
Fortunately, times have changed. After plenty of years into the business, creating a blog has become a much easier process.
That’s because there are more tools and information to help us do it without failing in the process. Let’s start from the beginning and learn how to start a blog successfully.
Do you even blog?
If you’re reading this piece, chances are you probably have a purpose in mind for creating a blog already. However, going from the idea of creating a blog to follow through and make it often requires a little push.
In some cases, like mine, people discover their love for writing at an early young age. Over the years, my attempts to write on the local newspaper were unsuccessful and frustrating.
Probably because I was a child wanting to write about my passions, instead of an actual qualified person, regardless, I had to come up with something else. Blogs were the solution.
Today, many platforms encourage people to start their blog and let go of their creativity to share their ideas. So much so, that making money out of it is much easier than it was back then.
With the rise of social networks, we have more opportunities to drag people’s attention to our material, as long as you have the mediums to spread your message.
So, what are the essential reasons to start a blog?
To Improve Your Skills
After all, is said and done, blogs are meant for people to write. If you’re looking to improve your skills as a writer, then why not? An online medium to explore your ideas and share it with friends and potential colleagues also work as a tool to keep your thoughts in one place.
Then, you could share the link with someone else interested, and the content will be there for them. This is good if you intend to become a professional writer.
Many potential clients will be pleased once they see your professionalism displayed in a blog.
To Show Your Expertise on a Topic
Nowadays, people write about everything. Have you seen some of that fan fiction online? It is quite chilling, sometimes. But even then, there’s an audience for every content out there.
A personal space for writers allows them to discover what they like the most, and how to take advantage of it. Although you can write about anything, focusing on a particular niche is better to encourage people to come back once again.
Nonetheless, in case you decide to write about different content, make sure to have the right categories. It will help your readers to navigate between what interests them the most. Unless they’re your loved ones, no one is interested in reading a messy and unorganized blog.
To Increase Your Presence
When people want to write for a living, creating a blog is a smart move. Freelancing is a driving force in the current age, with countless people working from home as content providers.
However, there’s plenty of work to do before getting there. The next step after creating a blog is to improve the traffic. Having more views makes it easier to grab the client’s attention, and to land that job you’ve always wanted.
To Meet the Right People
The right people in your area of interest, of course. After a lot of work and dedication, your high-traffic blog will draw those interested in what you’re writing.
This is important for a couple of reasons. First, because you get to prove the sweet taste of success when people like what you write; and secondly because it creates a community where you can exchange opinions, ideas, and recommendations.
Whether it is as a hobby or professional reasons, there’s more to creating a blog than to write. It will present you with many opportunities that you wouldn’t have been able to have without it.
How to Start a Blog from Scratch?
The reasons are there. Now, it is time to dive in and start creating our blog. It is not a complicated process, but you’ll need patience and dedication. Ready? Then let’s go!
Step 1: Free Blog VS Self-Hosted – Which One is the Right One for You?
A concern many writers might face while investigating about blogs is the platform. Which one should I use? A free blog or self-hosted? Clearing this doubt will depend entirely on your purposes for the blog.
Let’s start with the basics: a free blog.
Now, at this point, no one should be unfamiliar with what a free blog is. Everywhere you go online has an advertisement about creating your free blog and start writing immediately. Is this advertisement real? Yes, it is, and it works.
At least it did for me because that’s how I first got into blogging way back when. The ads were everywhere until I decided to give it a try. At first, for mere curiosity, but then I started taking it more seriously.
Naturally, the options back then were limited. Today is very different. Have you heard of tumblr.com, blogger.com, and wordpress.com?
All of these platforms are free and don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly useful, easy to use, and user-friendly, but a professional writer should look for more than that.
You see, these platforms work well if you write for a hobby; they give writers plenty of freedom that is highly encouraging. However, they do have limitations.
They will take advantage of the traffic you draw to sell their advertisement. It limits your work by putting account limitations impossible to bypass.
Another reason to avoid free blog platforms are the possible risks it may lead to. Building your image and audience takes an immense amount of time if you’re starting from scratch, which is why you’d want to preserve them when you finally start seeing the positive numbers.
But you’re still working on their terms. What happens if they start to dislike your content, and forbids you from continuing writing? Unfortunately, without the proper tools for backup, you might end up losing all of your hard work, audience, and a possible source of income, too.
One particular case that comes to mind is Tumblr’s ban on adult content. It is controversial, sure, but did you know that after the ban on such topic, one-fifth of the platform’s users decided to leave?
People might have a positive or negative opinion about NSFW content, but nobody can deny the amount of time and effort their users spent to create a large community. All to see it go away in a matter of days.
Both Tumblr and its users took a hard blow from that move.
If you’re interested in writing professionally, or to keep your work protected, it is far better to go all in self-hosted.
Fortunately, self-hosting is not expensive at all. There’s plenty of competition between hosting services, and it only benefits bloggers. They allow writers to explore all of the options to decide which tariff is the best one for them.
By having a paid service, you’ll have complete security that your work is well-protected. It allows you to write as freely as you want, and as long as it bides to legal rules.
Then, you only have to deal with your ideas without anybody else controlling what you say and how you say it.
Step 2: Choosing An Interesting Domain Name, A Reliable Hosting Service, and Setting it up Properly
Our second step requires writers to be careful. Picking a domain name and a reliable hosting service will guarantee people have an easy time getting to your blog and coming back.
We’ll go through these processes. More so, I’ll be giving you small tips and information as to why it is essential to do this step right. Keep in mind that, sometimes, large companies put a whole team to come up with the domain name. That’s how important it is.
Web Hosting Sign Up
Choosing the right web hosting might take some time because there are plenty of them available. Don’t make your decision until you’ve considered different options, only then you’ll be able to figure out which one is the better option for you for the possibilities they provide.
During your search, you might encounter popular services like Bluehost, Hostinger.com, and GoDaddy. All of them are great, but still, you must pick one.
To keep it summarized, Bluehost is probably the best choice for bloggers. It is the top-rated hosting service by a mile.
What makes Bluehost so good?
Bluehost offers reliability for writers. It gives you the freedom you need by delivering a fast platform with many benefits to starting our blog.
Did I mention the best part yet? It is cheap!
For the sake of continuity, I’ll be using Bluehost as an example for the next steps.
Choosing the Domain Name
This is probably the most complicated step you’ll have to do. Coming up with a domain name is essential for your success, so you have to be careful with it. Here are a few tips to help you create a proper name:
- Make sure it is short, concise, and focusing on the theme of your blog.
- Don’t make it too complicated! Keep in mind that your success depends on visitors coming back. They won’t be able to do it your domain name is hard to remember.
- And, of course, try to be creative.
Then, you can proceed with the next steps. Services like Bluehost offers free domains during the first year, which could help you confirm how well your blog performs.
Important note: Once your blog takes off and people start noticing it, you might want to acquire other domains with similar wording. It will ensure no one tries to take advantage of you.
The Web Hosting Plan
The next step would be to continue with your desired domain name and select the plan for the web hosting. After that, you’d be ready to go.
If you’ve decided to proceed using Bluehost, you’ll find they have a variety of plans to offer. Each one has its benefits, but it depends on you to choose which one suit you better in terms of rate and features.
As of this moment, Bluehost offers 5 plans. The lowest service, the Shared Plan, is the most suitable for bloggers. Nonetheless, it is a matter of personal preference and how much you’re willing to invest.
Of course, if you decide to pay a more expensive plan like the WP Pro or Dedicated Plan, you’ll receive more benefits. But choose one of these only when you have high traffic and a well-established brand.
Preparations to Launch the Blog
To continue with the process, now it is the time to start setting up the admin panel, often known as cPanel and a password which you’ll use to access the host configuration. For Bluehost, you can use my.bluehost.com to log into your admin account.
Important note: While you’re there, navigate through the categories to get familiar with Bluehost’s service.
After logging in, you’ll be greeted with a highly intuitive homepage to help you set up your blog. Here’s what you should do:
- In Settings, access General located in the left sidebar.
- Add your blog’s site title, and a tagline.
- Make sure your blog address is the same as your domain name.
- Set up an email to recover password and other information, in case you lose it.
And there’s that. Proceed by launching the site.
The task is not done, though. There’s still another process you must go through that will ensure your visitors will return after checking your blog. We’re talking, of course, about designing the blog.
Step 3: Selecting A Proper Theme
After finishing the technical steps, now you’ll focus on making your blog appeal to the audience. It is easy to choose any theme, but remember keeping it simple and oriented to the topic your blog is about.
For instance, it isn’t adequate to have an inspirational blog using dark colors; or talk about vegan food with a steak image on the background.
Now, installing the theme is pretty simple.
If you’re using a platform with a library such as WordPress or Blogger.com, head to the settings, select the theme and start trying adding them to see how they look.
WordPress even has a live preview option to take a look at your blog with the desired theme. If you’re comfortable with it, proceed to install it by pressing the Activate Theme button.
There’s another method to design your blog involving graphic designers. It will be more expensive, but the result is a unique appearance that no other website has. This option is most recommended if you want to go all in with your blog.
Organizing your Blog
After that, you’ll have the skeleton of your blog ready to start adding some content to it.
To start posting on WordPress, go to the Dashboard, select Posts and then Add New. A new window will display with a basic post structure for you to add a title, and start writing the content.
One of the best things about WordPress is its ability to make everything better. It has gained quite the fame over the past years, which is why it tries to stay at the top by updating its services regularly.
It is up to the writers to decide how far they want to go. Even then, one feature that never gets old is adding images to your posts. You can do it by clicking on the box called Featured Image.
There, you get to choose an image from your PC to add to your post. It should always be related to the topic you’re writing about.
When you’re done, hit publish, and the post will go online for people to see.
Important note #1: If you want to use an image that you found online for your post, make sure it is free of copyright. Google has an option to show safe-to-use pictures. Save yourself some trouble.
Important note #2: After publishing the post, work is far from done. Create a strategy to get people to see your content. The use of social networks is quite handy for this task.
To keep your blog organized and facilitate the navigating process for your audience, you should consider creating categories to separate your post. You can categorize your content by date, topic, age groups, and whatever suit what your blog is about.
Through WordPress, creating a category is quite simple. Head to Dashboard, select Appearance, and then Menu.
While you’re there, you can create and name your categories. The left panel of the menu editor also allows you to customize the sub-categories you’ll want to display once you click on the main one.
After creating the sub-categories, the editor allows you to move them, which is helpful to decide and organize in what order you’d want them to display.
Categories, or menus, are necessary regardless of the theme. If your blog focuses on a variety of topics, having the right organization will keep your audience happy.
Installing Plugins Helps Optimize your Blog
Plugins serve a variety of purposes that make them useful for every blog. It is not only about making your site look fancier, but you also need to make it compelling.
There are many of them you can try. Some of the most useful plugins I’ve found are the following:
- Yoast SEO. Starting a blog with economic goals is not easy. You have to be familiar with disciplines like Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Fortunately, Yoast SEO comes in to provide a helping hand. It allows you to optimize keywords to achieve a larger audience and draw more views, which is what every blog needs to succeed.
- Jetpack. It is a WordPress plugin that will help bloggers filtering spam, scan malware, and provide general protection from other attacks. If what you need is a solid wall for unwanted visitors, this plugin will surely be there for you when you most need it.
- Comments, wpDiscuz. Interaction with your audience is one of the things every writer cherishes the most. They’re there to read our thoughts, even if they’re silly opinions that none of the real-life friends care about.
This plugin enhances the interaction between blogger and audience by a more interactive and beautiful comment section.
In the past, I wasn’t too keen on using plugins. They seemed unnecessary. Today is very different, and every writer should use them to increase their blog performance.
Establish your Brand with a Personal Email Account
When your blog starts seeing its visits increase, that’s the moment for you to capitalize and make the best of it. To captivate possible clients and to improve your professionalism in general, consider creating a personal email that includes your domain.
Many online services allow you to create a customized email. Nonetheless, to avoid complications, we encourage you to look back at a familiar friend by now: Bluehost.
To do it, access your Bluehost account and scroll until you find the Email & Office option. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to create and start using your address.
Creating a customized email makes your work look more professional and well-thought. It might not seem like a big deal, but that’s something clients, and the audience, often appreciate. They take your opinions and posts more seriously because you make yourself look more serious.
This step isn’t necessary, but it surely boosts up your mentality by making you believe in yourself and your brand. When you have the right motivation and the proper mediums, convincing everyone else becomes a much easier task.
As you can see, how to start a blog is a process that requires a lot of thought if you want it to be successful. Don’t take it lightly, or other people won’t either.
Even then, starting a blog is just that, a start. You’ll need to work on plenty of other areas if you want people to visit your site and have them interested in your content.
Getting to that place is very complicated, but the payoff, in the long run, is worth it. Don’t frustrate yourself, and show the world what you’ve got to offer!