How to Start a Blog
When I first started blogging in 2014, I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I wanted my own platform to voice my opinions on topics that I found important.
Yet, when I first heard the term “web hosting,” my head tilted like a puppy. I had so many thrilling, irresistible ideas for my dream blog, but not one clue about how to even set it up!
If I had someone to guide me along the way and told me exactly what I needed to do, I would’ve saved so much time and money within my first year of blogging.
My first articles were about 600 words long (about a page, single-spaced). It didn’t seem like much, but it took me around 2-3 hours to complete a piece and I published at least two articles a day. That’s a lot of brainpower, considering I was also a full time student and part-time worker!
To add insult to injury, only 20-30 people viewed my posts each time, even after 6 months of blogging religiously.
I constantly thought, what am I doing wrong? Why aren’t I getting the same views as the people who started at the same time I did?
Since I was so jaded about blogging, I took a 6-month hiatus towards the last half of 2015. I got a job at a marketing agency in 2016 and spent the entirety of that year studying how to run a blog and effectively market it.
I couldn’t believe all the things I missed out on early in the process! Vague terms such as SEO, affiliate marketing, web hosting, and social referrals slowly began to materialize in my mind.
This year, I applied all the valuable knowledge I learned from 2016 and my platforms gained crazy momentum.
I went from 900 Instagram followers to more than 23,500 as of December 10, 2017. This number continues to grow by approximately 2,700 followers every month without Instagram pods and cheating bots. All are organic followers.
Further, my blog more than tripled in unique visits and page views this year, and my subscriber count soared to over 2,000 people.
These were my page views and visits in 2016:
And these are my metrics for this year (2017), when I’ve finally applied the year-long lessons I’ve learned:
Not only that, but in the month of November alone, I made $665.64 on Google Adsense ($570.35 after the earnings were finalized):
Accomplishing this wasn’t easy, but it’s possible and thrilling because the results pour in so quickly when you start making the right moves. And the right moves should start at the very beginning of your blogging journey—if you want to spare the headaches.
That’s why I’m determined to show you the exact step-by-step process of how to get started on this journey. This article is going to walk you through the process of finding a niche, domain name, web and domain hosting, and template design. I’ll even include a few pro tips on how to effectively market your blog as well!
Let’s dive into it!
Step 1. Pick a Niche
Before you even pick a name for your blog, take some time to consider what you really want to focus on. My main mistake was that I wanted to write about too many subjects early on. This resulted in so much stress that I had to take a 6-month mental break from blogging within my second year.
I don’t want you to misunderstand—there’s nothing wrong with covering a range of different topics, even ones that seem completely unrelated. For example, right now, I’m writing about faith, travel, design, lifestyle, and blogging. Those are five totally different niches! But I can handle that right now because I made sure to grow each one into its own recognized section on my website before I jumped into a new niche.
When I first started, the stress came from knowing that I poured countless hours into my photo editing and article writing when people only cared to read a select few.
So, my advice is to think hard about the topics you want to focus on. Ask yourself these questions:
· What topics am I interested in? (Create an actual list of your interests.)
· Which of those topics do I know the most about?
· Which of those topics am I most excited to learn more about?
Choose the topic that scores the highest on your knowledge and interest scale, and then use that as the central focus of your new website. You can always explore different niches later, but start with one centralized niche first. Try to master one topic before you jump to another. You’ll save a ton of anxiety and your followers will be way less confused!
Step 2. Pick a Domain Name
A domain is simply your website URL (e.g. www.girlandtheword.com). Once you’ve already picked your niche, come up with a domain name that’s easy to remember and hard to mess up.
But what about that super original word that I made up? That would be an awesome blog name!
Sure, be as creative as you’d like! Just make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you pick a blog name that’s entirely unique, such as a word that you’ve made up yourself, you will have to try even harder to carve out your own name when it’s time to market your blog.
Here’s a pro tip: pick a name that hints at your niche. The more niche-relevant it is, the higher your chances will be of dominating that sphere later on.
This means trying to include important keywords in your domain name. For example, since I wanted my website to reach more Christian women, I chose the name Girl and The Word, as in Girl and the Holy Scriptures.
Most importantly, whichever domain you pick, make sure that it excites and inspires you!
Step 3. Set Up Web and Domain Hosting
In short, web hosting is a service that stores your website content and allows your site to go live on the web. Domain hosting is a service that allows you to buy or register your domain name.
At Bluehost, you can do both very quickly and easily. I recommend Bluehost because it’s affordable, fast, reliable, and the support I get is absolutely excellent. They always reply within hours of my inquiry with complete solutions to all my questions.
When picking a solid web host, speed and availability should be two of your biggest concerns. I’ve honestly never experienced a hosting site more customer-friendly than Bluehost. I’m making the migration to this hosting service as I’m writing this very article.
Here’s the easy signup process:
A. Click here to go to Bluehost and click “Get Started Now.”
B. Select your plan.
I recommend that you start with the basic plan because it’s already quite good. Plus, you can choose to upgrade your plan anytime if you think you need more web capacity.
C. Register your domain.
You can either create a new domain name for yourself or register a new domain altogether. Bluehost will tell you if your chosen domain is taken or not.
D. Fill out your account information.
This process should take less than a minute because they keep their forms short and user-friendly. You can choose to back up your website in case you ever want to restore it to its previous structure. Additionally, you can also choose to get Sitelock. Sitelock is ideal for those who will be dealing with customer service. It ensures that your website is secure and spam-free for consumers. However, if you’re just going to be starting a friendly blog and not looking to do malicious things on the web, you don’t have to worry about purchasing Sitelock. I’d personally skip it.
It should also be noted that Bluehost charges for the first 36 months upfront. That’s how they’re able to keep their prices so incredibly low compared to other hosting sites. I’ve only had great experiences with Bluehost and WordPress, so this was a no-brainer for me. They also have a money-back guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about losing anything.
E. Enter your payment info on their secure form.
F. Create your secure password.
Make sure you write it down so you don’t forget it!
G. Congrats!!! You’re done with registration.
Now you can log in and start editing your website!
H. Pick a clean and gorgeous theme that works for you.
This should be the fun part because all of Bluehost’s responsive templates are beautiful and perfectly optimized for mobile and desktop! Pick a theme that tickles your fancy and you’ll get to edit it later.
I. Whoohoo! You’re now ready to add content to your website.
Click “Start Building” to access your awesome WordPress dashboard.
J. You’re in! Now you can decide if you want a business account or a personal account.
This can be changed anytime, so don’t feel pressured to stick to one or the other! It’s completely normal for blogs to evolve :).
K. Edit your website!
You’re now free to work on your website however you choose! While you’re editing your template and writing your first blog post, your live website will show a professional “coming soon” watermark.
L. Launch your website!!!
Aaahh!! This is the most exciting part! Once you’re ready to launch your website, all of your edits and optimizations will go live! Even though it feels like a lot is at stake at this point, don’t dwell too much on the “what ifs.” You will NEVER be 100% satisfied with your website; a great blogger always leaves room for improvement. So, once you feel like it’s ready enough, launch your site and share your ideas with the world!
M. Log in and out whenever you please.
To access your dashboard, all you have to do is go to wordpress.com/login and you’ll get to edit your website at your leisure. That’s it!
Step 4. Promote Your Website
Assuming that you’ve already edited your user-friendly template to your liking and finished with your first few blog posts, the next fun step is to promote your articles.
Marketing is essential to your website’s longevity. Even if you have the best articles in town, it wouldn’t matter if no one reads it!
From experience, here are the most effective ways to start marketing your blog:
- Social Referrals – If you have any social presence at all, even if it’s less than a thousand followers, refer them over to your blog by:
o Posting about your blog often
o Including your blog link in every caption as a signature
o Leaving your blog URL in your bio.
More than half of my traffic comes from social referrals, as you might have guessed!
- Optimize Your SEO – SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is just another way to say, “Make your website search-friendly for Google and other search engines.” There are countless ways to optimize your SEO, but the basic rules of thumb are to:
o Use plenty of keywords that are relevant to your niche in your headlines, descriptions, and articles
o Try to get other websites to link to you
o Improve your website loading speed by minimizing your amount of plugins, redirects, and large, high-def photos
If you’re consistent with these optimizations, your page rankings will improve.
- Comment on Other Blogs – By commenting on other blogs, you will be:
o Improving your SEO by leaving a backlink on their website
o Networking with new bloggers in your niche
o Increasing your chances of being discovered by new visitors
- Guest Post – It’s difficult to get your guest posts accepted into reputable websites, but the effort pays off because:
o Guest posting helps with your SEO if you link to your website in the article or in your author bio
o You’ll be expanding your audience reach
o You’re positioning yourself as a thought leader
o Your guest posts can be leveraged as a testimonial of your credibility in your field.
I’ve done my share of guest posting and it has always yielded wonderful results!
- Conduct Interviews – Another fun way to market your website is to actually conduct interviews with influential figures who are relevant to your niche. By interviewing these folks, you will:
o Boost your search rankings because users who search for these folks might stumble upon your page
o Increase your credibility as an established blogger
o Create valuable relationships with knowledgeable people
That’s all!! I sincerely wish you the best in your creative ventures! It’s a passion of mine to help people fulfill their creative dreams, so I’ll make sure to keep sharing everything I’ve learned with you guys!
To get the first look on marketing advice and blogging tutorials like these, feel free to subscribe below and follow along on my Instagram (@girlandtheword)! If this post helped you at all, please share it on Pinterest and other social platforms so others can benefit from it as well!