Ever wondered how to start a blog and then just left it at that?
Do you love to write? Have a passion you want to share? Maybe you’re looking to start earning an income online? Whatever your reasons, starting a blog could be just the solution for you.
Starting a blog is also a really great way to establish a strong personal brand. Because it’s a way to consistently create content that positions you as an expert in your niche.
**This post may contain affiliate links. The services I share are the services I personally use and honestly recommend to anyone. No extra costs are incurred for you; the referral commission simply contributes to bringing you valuable content.
When you first jump online and decide to start a blog, it can get quite tricky and overwhelming.
How do you know which blogging platform to use? What host do you use? How do you come up with the right name for your blog? Do you need to understand coding?
Sometimes it can feel like you’re walking through a field of mines, one wrong step and it could all blow up in your face.
If you’re anything like me you might’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time, but either put it off because you thought it would be too hard, or you were too scared to actually put your thoughts out there.
Well, I’m here to bust those myths and put an end to your confusion.
One of my biggest regrets is not starting out sooner. As you may know, I’ve travelled quite a bit, and I had all hopes of being a travel writer. Every time I went away my mum suggested I should start a blog about my travels, mainly just to put my writing out there. And every time I thought about it but didn’t follow through.
Why? Two main reasons. I was worried about what people would think about my writing and I was scared it would be too hard to start a blog.
Busting Myth #1:
The internet is a BIG place and it takes a lot of effort and skills to land your posts on page 1 of a Google search. If you’re not showing up on page 1 then you’ve really got nothing to worry about. Just start a blog, get used to writing, even if it’s just for your own personal documentation. I wish I had done that with my previous holidays so I could have a record of my memories. You only have to share it with the world once you’re comfortable and ready.
Busting Myth #2:
Let me assure you, I’m the least tech savvy person going around, so if I can do this, YOU CAN TOO!It’s because of the ease and accessibility that blogs have become all the rage. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely made a few mistakes along the way, and that’s why I wanted to share my knowledge with you, so you can avoid doing the same.
I’ve made this as straight forward as possible so you can avoid any of the obstacles I’ve experienced. I’d even go as far as to say the steps are so simple, this baby could have a blog up and running by the end of this post.
This post will be targeted to setting up your own WordPress blog as this is what I have always used and recommend. I recently did a brief stint with Wix which lasted literally a month because I realised their blog platform is useless. Which makes me feel even more confident in recommending WordPress now.
The main confusion I faced when I first started out with WordPress was the difference between wordpress.COM and wordpress.ORG. Not knowing any better, I started out with wordpress.com which was great, until I wanted to start customising the site to suit my business and realised I couldn’t. That’s when I upgraded to wordpress.org and the good thing is, it’s easy to transfer all your content over so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Use wordpress.COM if you just want a personal blog to share with family and friends. Use wordpress.ORG if you’re looking to run a business, this will give you much more flexibility and customisation functionalities. The steps below are for anyone looking to build an online business and create a blog using WordPress.org:
Step 1: Choose Your Brand Wisely
This step isn’t included in many ‘how to articles’ and for that reason it’s something I didn’t put a lot of thought into when I first started online all those years ago. A few months down the track I was stuck with a website name I didn’t really resonate with and I had to start again.
Lucky for you, if you don’t really know a lot about branding, you’ve definitely come to the right place. So if you’re not clear on your brand yet, I’d recommend starting with some of my other content and coming back to this part later.
After all, you’ll be paying for your ‘domain name’ so it’s worthwhile to make sure you like it and make sure it makes sense.
If you’re looking to start a blog you want to think about it being something that represents YOU. You should spend time on this process. Brainstorm your likes and dislikes, think about your motivation to start a blog and online business, think about what you want to represent, who you are as a person, the kind of people you want to attract etc.
Also think about the long-term, is it a name you’ll be happy to continue using in a few years time?
Can you come up with a catchy tagline that represents the brand?
Step 2: Set Up Your Domain and Hosting
Hosting is basically a server in the cloud and this is where you can install WordPress. WordPress is not installed on your own computer.
(Note: if you’re using any other blogging platform you still need your own domain and hosting otherwise you will end up with a website/blog link that isn’t personalised to you)
If you’re using wordpress.org you’ll notice one of the hosting services they recommend is Bluehost. After a lot of research and also trialling some other hosting providers, I also personally recommend and use Bluehost as my hosting provider.
- Well, it’s WordPress recommended.
- It’s large and widely used/known
- Offers 24/7 helpful customer service
- Affordable – you can get hosting + a free domain from as little as $3.95/month
- Fast loading
- SUPER EASY TO USE
Now, how do you actually go about setting up your hosting when you start a blog? (these steps are for those wishing to use Bluehost)
a) Head to Bluehost and click the green ‘Get Started Now’ button.
b) Choose which plan you want.
I always go for the plus option because of the extra benefits which suit my business needs – make sure whatever you pick suits YOUR needs. Keep in mind you will be billed the total up front (so if you choose the $6.95 a month option over a 3 year term you will be billed that total amount straight away)
c) Enter your domain name.
Aim to use your brand/blog name from Step 1 as the domain name.
d) Set up your account and choose your extras.
It’s not really necessary to use any of the other offerings. The only one I was recommended and would recommend as well is the domain privacy protection. Fill out all your details and finish creating your account.
Step 3: Install WordPress
The reason I LOVE Bluehost is because of it’s super easy one-click installation process for WordPress. Remember when I said I’m not tech savvy at all? Well this is the easiest process I’ve ever been through and this is a great reason for using this hosting service.
Simply go to the ‘website’ section of your Bluehost home dashboard and click ‘Install WordPress’.
Step 4: Login to WordPress
You can get to your login page by adding /wp-admin to the end of your blog domain. Eg: www.blogname.com/wp-admin
Once you’re logged in, head straight to your dashboard and familiarise yourself with what you can do. There are helpful Youtube tutorials to show you what every tab does.
The dashboard is your hub – it’s where you’ll write and post your blogs, change the themes, install plugins, edit the site… Everything! So be sure to take the time to get to know it.
Step 5: Choose Your Theme
This is the fun part when you start a blog! But just as important as creating your brand name.
Choose your theme wisely as it can be hard to change it down the track once your blog is fully set up with a lot of content. Trust me, I’ve been through it.
The good thing about WordPress.org is the large selection of free themes you can choose from. You can also see demos and preview them on your own site to see if the style fits your own blog. There’s also premium themes and many other sites which sell WordPress themes. My current theme is from Thememattic.
And the best part, you don’t need to know about codes to use most of them as they include free installation services and you can even opt to base your site on the demo version so you don’t get the theme and then have to figure out how to actually get it to be laid out like the demo.
Each theme also generally has their own support team. So if you’re really stuck, like I have been plenty of times, there’s always someone that can help you.
To access your themes, hover over ‘Appearance’ in your dashboard and click ‘Themes’.
If you’re really struggling to get a theme you like, there’s also done for you sites that go hand in hand with WordPress blogs.
For example, Tonic Websites. After a few years of testing different WordPress themes and never being entirely happy with my Aussie Adventuress site, I eventually decided to bite the bullet and buy a done for you website. It cost a little bit more than any premium WordPress theme, but it was well worth the investment because I now have a website and blog I love.
Step 6: Download Plugins
Now this is where WordPress really shows it’s superiority. Plugins are various apps you can add to your dashboard which help you personalise your site as well as a lot of other functions.
Plugins are the main reason I made the decision to switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. You don’t have access to any plugins with wordpress.com, which means you are very restricted when it comes to your website design and what widgets you can use.
When you start a blog it might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind plugins allow you to be more personable and creative with your site and its design, and they’re great for business.
For a list of all my favourite WordPress plugins for bloggers go here.
Don’t get me wrong, other platforms like Wix do have various apps you can add as well. And this is what got me to try it out in the first place. Because the ease of viewing and adding these apps is very simple. Unlike WordPress where you have to really know what plugin you want, Wix has all their apps displayed in a nice catalogue for you to easily choose from and add to the site with a few clicks.
But even the essential apps for SEO and analytics end up costing you around $15 per month. Then if you want the real advanced apps like shopfronts etc. they cost more. And from what I’ve seen, the functionality isn’t as good as the WordPress SEO and analytics tools.
Maybe it’s because I’m just so used to WordPress. But I’m yet to fall as madly in love with the Wix blog as other people, which is why I’m now even more confident in recommending WordPress.
Step 7: Link Social Media
Traffic is the key to any online business and most people won’t buy from you straight up so it’s important to keep them engaged. You can do this by creating a bit of a social media loop.
Make sure you have your brand on as many social media outlets as possible – especially Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. We’ll cover each of these in a lot more detail over time.
Share your content and drive the traffic from one platform to another, this way your audience stays engaged, receives far more value, and is more likely to sign up to your email list and buy your offers.
- have your blog or Facebook fan page/group linked in your Instagram bio
- have a pinned post on your Facebook fan page that mentions your blog, Instagram, Youtube etc.
- embed your YouTube videos in your blog or share them on your Facebook page or in your Instagram stories
- claim your site and make sure posts easy to share on Pinterest
The opportunities are endless. Mix it up, but always make sure you’re making the most of your content and sharing it on multiple platforms. And make sure each platform is distinctly within your branding.
People need to see your content 21 times before they even start to consider working with you. And as social media continues to grow, this number just keeps increasing. As there’s more and more information to consume.
Step 8: Build Your Email List
If you are looking to start a blog to earn an income then you definitely need to think about building your email list.
This will become the lifeblood of your business. Like I said before, people won’t buy your offer straight away. They generally need to see something up to 21 times before they will consider it. This is why growing an email list is so important. This is the best way for you to stay in touch with potential customers and make sure they stay engaged.
When you do start growing a list, you’re going to need a system to be able to capture all these email addresses and be able to email your contacts automatically. This is known as an auto-responder.
A great tool for this is GetResponse – it’s affordable and super easy to use and has a large variety of email options and web forms to choose from. You can link your GetResponse campaigns to your blog through forms and lead magnets. And this is how you’re able to grow your email list from your blog.
Step 9: Start Blogging
Now the easy part is over and you have a fully functioning blog, the hardest part is to start writing. All I can say is don’t put this off. Until you learn how to get your site ranked on Google. And until you actually tell people to go to your site. You’ve got nothing to worry about. So just start. And you’ll learn to enjoy the process.