Start a Blog – with this easy step by step guide
Are you hesitant to start a blog? Maybe you think you don’t have enough knowledge to start a blog, but your dream is to work from home, be your own boss and teach others your passion?
Sounds like a dream come true right?
When you start a blog and it becomes your own business, you can pick your working times, do something useful by helping other people, or just simply turning your hobby into your profession.
Today I want to share the very first steps to take to start a blog and to set it up for success! If you want more detailed guidance on this you can sign up for my email course
This post may contain affiliated links.
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#1 What to blog about?
Before you start a blog make sure you know what you want to write about. What are your interests? What blogs do you enjoy reading? Do you like writing?
I was very interested in food blogs and recipes, also I love DIY’s and life hacks. I read a lot of blogs like those mentioned and thought, “I could actually write about this too!” But I was always afraid I wouldn’t create interesting posts.
All the other blogs look so professional and they have so many readers. I was quick to think, “Who would be interested in what I have to share?”
Obviously, when you first start out it won’t look awesome right away, but the more you read, try, and learn, the faster you get there. And I have to say, with a little patience and eagerness it won’t take long to have a decent blog running.
Because I went through a lot of trial and error, I would love to share my experience with you. Hopefully these tips will help make your journey into blogging as easy as possible. Please share your questions in the comments below and I will be more than happy to help you out!
#2 How to start a blog
WordPress is my provider and I will talk about how to start a blog with WordPress in this post. If you choose another provider, this information might apply with a little help from google.
If you want a totally free blog you can sign up on wordpress.com and your site name will be something like this www.name.wordpress.com. I started with the free site, but very soon I found it had lots of limitations. You can not insert ads into your page, which means you can’t really monetize your blog. Also, some plug-ins or widgets won’t work.
On the other hand, if you sign up with wordpress.org you will be able to make money blogging and you can make your blog look professional. If you choose this route it will cost you a little bit of money for hosting. That means you buy a host that will also give you your domain name. There are 2 hosts that work perfect with wordpress.org and that I have both tested. The firs one is Bluehost and the the second one is Siteground.
I have tested Bluehost and Siteground so far and they are both pretty good, but I do have a favorite. I prefer Siteground hosting, because it sped up my page which helped me to keep my readers on my blog. If they have to wait too long, they will leave the page quickly.
Another reason why I like Siteground better, is because I had ZERO downtime compared to Bluehost my page was down at least 1-2 a month.
Downtime just means that your page doesn’t work for a few minutes, but that is bad, because you could lose readers and credibility. It is just not professional when your page is wacky like that.
Since switching to Siteground I have seen a rise in pageviews which automatically increased my number of email subscribers and blogging income. Both providers do have a great customer service and pricing (they both start at 3.95 a month).
For installing WordPress with Bluehost I have a very detailed and helpful step-by-step tutorial HERE.
For installing your WordPress blog with Siteground (recommended) follow the easy 6-step tutorial HERE.
#3 Finding a Name
Before you purchase the hosting make sure you really know how you want to name your site. Its best if your name connects with the content of your blog. A good example is http://www.busybudgeter.com/. She writes about food, DIY, organizing, and family, BUT mainly about money and budgeting.
Another food blogger that I like is http://www.spendwithpennies.com/. Her name also reflects her blog content; simple recipes on a budget. Now, if you want to blog about different things, go for it! I chose to primarily blog about food because it relates to my interests, but I also like writing about different things such as motherhood, Christian life, DIYs, homemaking, and so on.
If you found a name that you like for your blog you can check if it is available when you sign up for your web hosting. I suggest using Bluehost to get your domain and webhosting, because it is affordable and they provide a lot of tutorials to make the process as easy as possible.
Once your WordPress is installed you can pick a free theme or buy a professional theme and just start customizing your page! If you have specific questions, write me an email or comment below and I will try to help you!
#4 Set up your Layout and Logo
You can try to create your own logo, or get it done professionally. I don’t believe your logo will determine whether your blog will be successful or not. You can create a logo for free pretty easily with a program called PicMonkey. There is no need to sign in if you want to use it for free! Just open PicMonkey and click on design for a logo and choose a transparent canvas.
It is always a good idea to go to other successful blogs that you like and take a look how they set up their pages and layouts!
When you customize your homepage write your title AND tagline in the “site identity.” Also, upload your logo if you have one. This will show up on the tab and look professional! Its good to have a tagline in the tab AND under your logo so its very clear to your readers what your blog is about.
Once you select a color scheme and a font to style your blog, stick to it! Use the same scheme on social media and your images that you are sharing!
#5 Best Plug ins to Start
YOAST: This is a plug-in that will help you write better content and optimizes your blog posts. You will see at the end of each post what you have to fix. This plug-in works by the Google guidelines, which means it helps you to optimize your blogpost so that Google can find it and identify it better.
Pin it Button This plug-in puts a pin it button over your pictures when you hover over. It will increase your shares on Pinterest and you can select where you want to show this or exclude the option on certain pages.
Social Warfare This is a social sharing bar that you can place before and after content. It has a great selection of social accounts and settings.
The Pinterest Widget will create a Widget that you can place in the side bar or footer. You can pick whether you want your readers to see your boards or your latest pins on Pinterest. Readers get to see your social activity and can connect with you right away!
#6 Creating a Blog Post
After you have decided what you want to write about, you can start typing away. If it is going to be a longer post, add headlines so readers have an orientation and can get to the paragraph they really want to read. Try to add professional pictures that catch the eyes of your followers so they connect more with your subject and want to keep reading (more on pictures further down).
If you are posting recipes make sure you share a little bit about the recipes; tell them how much it costs or how you got the idea so you have more than 250 words and not just the recipe. Here is a checklist I use after every blog post to make sure I did not forget anything important:
Create keyword, repeat keyword at least 3 times throughout the post and have it one time in the first 100 words
Does my YOAST plug-in show green light?
Did I link to other blogs and/or link to one of my existing older blogposts to the new one?
Does my picture have a good description in the “alt text” (read more at “pictures”)
Did I ask a question at the end or ask readers to comment or follow me? (or even to subscribe)
Categorize blog post and use tags?
Did I add affiliated links or ads?
#7 Your Pictures
As mentioned above, there is this cool program that a lot of bloggers use called PicMonkey and it is totally free. No sign up is needed.
To learn how to use the program, please download my FREE eBook on how to create the perfect pinterest image. There are 6 ways explained to use Picmonkey and you will also receive 5 FREE stock photos to get started!
If you are a food blogger I highly recommend to read the eBook “Tasty Food Photography“. It helped me to understand how to adjust camera settings as well as apply proper lighting and angles. The eBook also has awesome tips on how to use your phone for photography!
When I started out with food blogging my images looked like this:
With the help of the “Tasty Food Photography” they now look like this:
This makes a huge difference in how many people will click through to your blog post!
If you inserted your picture click on edit and write a good description about your blog post into the “alt” section. Then your description will show up under the picture if readers decide to pin it. Make it easy on them so they don’t have to write a description. Otherwise something like “SAM_023983” will show up under your picture.
#8 How to Get Page Views
Now you set up your blog, everything is running, you write good content and your pictures are decent, but just a few people are reading your posts?
Here are 3 steps that attract and keep readers:
- Social Media I already talked about the importance of social media after you published your blog post. Just be patient and consistent with it. It took me a little less than a month applying my Pinterest Strategy to go from
37 to 500 followers(I am at over 9K followers now!), and now it just keeps growing. It also took me 2 months to get from 30 page views a day to 100. Not because I did anything different, I was patient and consistent. Readers have to get to know you and know that new material is coming on a regular basis.
- Comment on other Blogs. I already mentioned a little bit above. Leave comments that show that you really read the article, add things that are missing, or point out things that you really liked about it. Ask questions so the blogger gets in contact with you!
- Newsletters are a good way to get readers to come back and read more! Again it took me 2 months to get my first subscriber, so don’t get discouraged. I used Mailchimp to send out my newsletter for a while. This program is great to start out, because you can use it for free with a lot of cool features. I recently switched over to Convertkit. This emailing program actually helped my to get my first 100 subscribers in no time, which grew my traffic and blogging income.
- Pinterest programs like Tailwind or Boardbooster will help you schedule and analyze your pins and manage your boards. The program pins to different boards for you at times with the most traffic. That way your pins are always active and bring readers to your blog without you going crazy about repinning. My Pinterest Strategy basically was doing the same thing manually but when you try managing 40 blog posts or more it gets overwhelming. So those programs will save you so much time and nerves. Both programs will give you a 100 pin trial and after that Tailwind starts at 9.99$/mo and Boarbooster at 5$/mo. I personally prefer BoardBooster and wrote a review that you can check out HERE. Or use this tutorial to set up BoardBooster for a great traffic increase
- Guest post! Some bloggers with lots of traffic let you post on their blog if you follow their guidelines. You just have to contact them and ask if they allow a guest post and what their guidelines are. If you end up getting accepted it will bring lots of traffic to your page!
#9 Monetizing your Blog
You might read that other bloggers suggest waiting with monetizing your blog, but I did not wait and to me it was worth jumping right in. But again it will take a while to get real income depending on how fast you get everything set up and how much time you have to write good content. Also, it takes time for people to get to know you. You will work for every penny, but in the long run it is so worth it! You can start monetizing with Ads and Affiliate links. Find what interests you.
Some good Ad Programs will not accept you unless you have 5k or even 100k page views a month. But I got accepted to 2 Ad programs with just 20-40 page views a day. I made sure I could check off these qualifiers:
- Blog posts have original, quality content that is grammatically correct
- Have a good number of blog posts out and a little bit of original traffic coming in before you apply.
- Put your email address in your contact form and also in your “about” page to verify the address.
Two Ad programs accepted me because I provided the necessary items just after starting out. Google AdSense will show ads that relate to what your readers were searching on google, and
Media.net (yahoo/bing Ads) will show content related ads. SO if I blog about recipes it will show recipe related ads. So far I have a better income with Media.net. I am guessing readers are more interested in related links.
Note: Media.net recently stopped paying so I would not recommend this Ad program anymore. Apparently other bloggers voiced same issues. Read more about this problem here. I would suggest sovrn.com as an alternative.
The whole Ad thing is trial and error. You have to see what ad program works best for your blog and also where to place ads. It’s more of an experience thing, even though there is an ad map that shows you where the best place for your Ads are supposed to be. But like I said, you can go into your Ad analytics to see which ads have the best results and where on your page they are located.
Affiliated Links are basically links that you add into your post (or pictures with or without text) that lead your reader to a product that they can buy. Don’t go crazy with it just to make money. Your readers will see through that! You want to suggest products that are closely related to your post’s content and help them achieve the result. Like linking a spice to your recipe that is hard to get, or a book to read that is related. You should use or test the item yourself before you suggest it.
The easiest affiliate program to start out is Amazon Associates because tons of people shop there anyway. PLUS they have almost everything! Another good affiliated program is shareasale.com which is basically a pool of merchants that you can apply to and become their affiliate! You can also go ahead and type into google the brand/product you like + affiliate to find fitting affiliate programs. Make sure you read their rules before you advertise their products.
When I started out with affiliate links, I did not have any success in selling anything for almost 5 months until I took the best class out there about affiliate marketing. 2 weeks after taking the class “MAKING SENSE OF AFFILIATE MARKETING” I made 5 affiliate sales! The class provides you also with a great Pinterest strategy to get more pageviews and a Facebook group access for personalized help. Check out the class by clicking on the picture below.
#10 Final Tips
If you want to read more about blogging, Ruth Soukop wrote the book How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul that explains a lot of areas very well and helped me too! And she says that as a blogger your work is never done. So don’t try to do everything at once; the key is to organize tasks and your time. I have a little notebook at my side so I can write everything down that comes to mind. If I see something on other blogs, or read in a book that I might want to try out I just write it down. When my set blogging time (2 hours each day while my baby naps) comes around I have a to-do list and just work on it. In my Notebook I also keep checklists that I mentioned earlier in the post.
Don’t let the thought of “it’s too much” discourage you. If you keep putting work into it, even if it is just a little at a time, but you are consistent, you WILL be successful!
So, I put a lot of time and effort into this post which I hope will help you! Don’t be afraid to start a blog, just enjoy your journey into blogging and ask questions below! If you like this post please share!