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Are you looking to start your own blog in 2020? Look no further. You have come to the right place. Whether you want to blog as a hobbyist or you want to make money from it, I’m here to guide you step-by-step. Starting a blog is effortless, and using this guide, you’ll be up and running in less than half an hour. You won’t need to spend tons of cash to begin. You don’t even need to have experience in building websites or coding. All you need is a cup of coffee, a comfortable place, a pen, a notebook, and your laptop or personal computer. Whenever you’re ready, let’s begin!
With this in-depth guide, I will walk you through steps to starting your blog. I’m going to cover all the angles and answer all the questions you have about blogging. I will also recommend some free tools and resources that you can use to start, as well as tips and tricks that will have you on your feet in no time.
I have tried my best to structure this guide straightforwardly. I’d love it if you read the whole article because it will help you get the best results. If you already have some knowledge or you’d like to skip to a particular section, you can jump to that section in the table of contents below. If you want to go straight to setting up your blog, then click here.
Let’s start with one question I encounter a lot. You’ve probably heard your friends talk about a blog or blogging. Whether you were viewing cat videos or reading a tutorial on how to repair a tear on your favorite dress, you have probably accessed a blog before. Maybe you just don’t know it’s a blog. Let’s begin with that.
What is a blog?
Simply put, a blog is a website that has posts. These posts are usually articles, but they may also include videos, pictures, audio clips, and other media. The blog automatically displays the newest post first and the oldest last. When you say that you own a blog, it means you regularly publish content on your website in a friendly and informal way that attracts readers. These readers get to share, comment, and like your content. Publishing content to your site regularly makes you a blogger.
The beauty of having a blog is, you don’t have to be a professional or superstar in your field. You don’t need to formally acquire a license, attend formal classes, apply or hold a certification of any kind. In fact, anyone can start and run a blog, even your son or daughter. You can blog from anywhere in the world, and many freelancers have already made a lifestyle out of it. All you need is a goal for your blog, and then you pursue it.
Why start a blog?
Many people start blogs for many reasons. However, if you’re looking to start blogging, it may be for one of these reasons. Let’s take a look at them.
You want to make Money Working Remotely
This reason is the best if you’re going to start a blog. In fact, I think it is a brilliant idea to start a blog for making money. This blog earns money for me. The main perk of blogging for money is that it can be part-time or full-time. Even if you dedicate an hour or two of your day, you can still bring in decent revenues. Blogging takes some work on your part, but it is rewarding. It’s also an intelligent business model because it has a low barrier of entry. You can get in and get out at any time, and it won’t cost you more than your average cup of coffee or a pizza.
You Want to Tell Your Stories
Have you ever traveled to Zimbabwe and seen Victoria Falls? Have you ever been to Tibet where you met monks who taught you how to meditate and relax? How about the Australian Outback? If you want to tell your stories and share your experiences, pictures, videos, and other material, start a blog. Blogging to tell stories is a powerful way to impact people’s lives. You can use your blog to change people’s perceptions and share life-changing experiences. These stories don’t necessarily have to be about you. They don’t even have to be real. You can start a fan fiction blog. You can share your jokes, art, music, and creative pieces on your blog. Nothing can hold you back. Jump right in and start right away!
You Want to Grow Your Business or Personal Brand
If you want to reach your customers in a more personal way, why not start a blog? Blogging is hands-down the best way to create customer engagement online. You can acquire new clients and jobs organically, meaning, they will look for you. When people search about your service or product online, they get a chance to hear you express yourself clearly. You get to tell your story clearly without the noise of marketing and advertising. Blogs also increase your business conversions, leading more people interested in your product to purchase it or subscribe. If you run a business, whether digital or brick-and-mortar, blogging can only improve your success at it.
As for personal branding, blogging is an excellent way to sell your skills and services to potential employers, customers, partners, and clients. You get the opportunity to share your portfolio with the world. On your blog, you can display your best works, and of course, sell yourself.
You want to Blog for the sake of the blogging culture.
Sometimes, the only reason you need to start a blog is that blogging is a thing. Seriously. Just start. Many successful bloggers never actually began blogging with a purpose. Blogging is one way to practice and improve your writing skills, organization, and planning skills. You can learn some valuable life lessons, like discipline. It is one trait that you will pick up as you start. If you’re also innovative or love getting your creative juices flowing, all you need is a little push to become a blogger. This guide nudges you in the right direction.
You want full control of your platform
The beauty of owning a blog is that you control everything. Unlike social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, you have full control over your accounts, content, brand, and reputation, and you retain your creative ability to steer it in the direction that most pleases you. Isn’t that great?
While you can make up almost any reason to start and run a blog, ultimately, it has to have a point. What should you write about?
What Topic Should Your Blog Be About?
Choosing what topic to write about is essential. You want to write something that people will love and appreciate. You want to write content that will help people and improve their lives, but you also want to make money in the process. When you think about writing openly, there’s no limit on what topic you can choose. You can even write about something as mundane as how to tie your shoes, or how to drink a bottle of water. Interestingly, you’ll draw an audience even with such content.
The only problem with this approach is that it is inefficient. It doesn’t get you results fast enough, and chances are you may never even monetize your blog in the first place. Now that would be a tragedy, wouldn’t it?
Choosing a topic based on your passion
Most bloggers in the industry encourage you to write about things that you are passionate about. Generally, you find that you’re passionate about something that tends to intersect with your level of skill and experience. Writing about your passion is a better way to look at starting your blog because you’ll draw your writing directly from your five senses. These are things you’ve felt, seen, touched, smelled, or hear help a lot when you’re writing an article. Using this as your content strategy also makes sense, especially considering that it helps during the hard times that come. As a writer, there will be periods where you will experience exhaustion. You will also experience the dreaded writers’ block and the occasional case of burnout. If you are passionate about the topic you are writing about, it will help you stay disciplined.
Here’s a small test. Take your pen and notepad and write eight topics that you are passionate about. Do not limit yourself. If you know everything about iPhones or gardening, that’s great. They could as well be what you’re passionate about.
Using a Monetization Strategy to choose a topic
You can also use the monetization approach. This is the approach I use. Using this approach, you view it backward. Instead of looking for something that interests you and your audience, you approach it from what will make you money. It involves you looking for a niche in the market. To identify a niche, you first look for a problem, pain, or a gap that exists in the market or the audience. This gap is what your blog will target. This approach is the best you can use when looking for a topic to blog on. The best way to monetize your blog is to look for a pain point that an audience is willing to pay for.
You have to conduct research and understand your target market. Don’t worry. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Start by looking at yourself. Here are some critical questions you can begin with.
- What are the challenges that I face that I simply can’t stand?
- What would I do to end the pain or solve the problem?
- What audience segment do I belong to?
After all, you will find that it is useful to understand your audience if you have experienced a problem or a struggle yourself.
The capacity of your audience to pay for your product is also integral. This goes hand in hand with understanding your target market. No matter what you may think, people actually want to pay for products that make their lives easier to live. Take shoes, for example. For the mere reason that it makes walking more comfortable, people will buy them off the shelves. On the other hand, if you live in a place where wearing closed shoes is painfully uncomfortable, your customers will be relieved to buy open shoes.
Merely paying for your product isn’t enough either. The more severe the pain they face or the problem they encounter, the more they are willing to pay. Think about it. Say, for example, you identify your audience as lovers of unique pieces of jewelry. If you acquire a rare piece, your clients may be willing to pay incredible sums to take it off your hands. Some ideas are more valuable than others are, and if you can find such a niche, the world is yours for the taking.
As far as topics go, I think it would be best if you find a topic that speaks to the unique needs of an audience that can pay, and are willing to pay for it. If you are passionate about the same topic, that’s even better because you’ll enjoy doing it even more.
Choosing your Webhost
A web host is a company or business that provides you with the infrastructure and services that you need to publish your webpage or website to the internet. Without a web host, you’d get stuck trying to host pages directly from your computer. Not only would this require incredible resources, but it would also compromise the speed of your computers and increase your vulnerability to hacks and attacks. That’s why web hosts are incredibly essential.
Choosing a web host is somewhat like choosing a spouse. While there is no wedding or rings involved, use the same type of caution. Nothing is as pleasant as a hosting provider that offers you a seamless experience. It helps to choose a hosting provider that has robust services, offers responsive customer care, ensures that you receive stable and reliable service, and charges you reasonably for it.
There are four things you should look for from your web host. Let’s look at them.
Look for the appropriate Type of Hosting for your website
There are three types of hosting: Shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and Dedicated Hosting. Since you’re starting, we’ll focus on telling you more about Shared Hosting. Shared Hosting implies that many customers and websites share a singular server. Therefore, each site gets a small share of resources from this server. As you would expect, Shared Hosting is very affordable, and as a new blogger, this is where you can start.
Of course, you could start with a VPS too. While a VPS divides into virtual machines that the company allocates to you, you still share a server. The beauty of a VPS is that you can add and remove more computing resources to your hosting package, depending on the needs you have. For starting a blog, A VPS would be overkill. However, as you grow in the business and increase traffic and readership to your blog, you may opt to get VPS services.
Dedicated Hosting is more like a concierge service. When you pick dedicated hosting, you get an entire server to yourself, and you do not share it with anyone. If you have advanced knowledge or experience, you can also tune your server to particular configurations to ensure that your site performs at it’s best. Dedicated hosting is pricey, and I do not recommend you get it unless you’re powering something like an eCommerce website.
Use WordPress to Build Your Blog
Having already determined that we’re building a blog, let’s use WordPress. You’ve probably heard a lot about WordPress already, but did you know that this website builder powers more than 36.3% of the internet? That’s massive! It also goes to show you how powerful a tool it is. That’s why no matter what hosting service you buy, you’ll find that they offer one-click WordPress installations. They also provide dedicated customer support for WordPress installations and expertise, helping you every step of the way.
Understand the Features & Resources Required When Starting Your A Blog
You will need to register a domain to publish your website. A domain name is your website’s address that generally looks like this: www.mywebsite.com. Most web hosts will offer both hosting and domain registration, but it is essential you understand that these are two different services. If you already own or have purchased a domain from another service provider, you will need to migrate it into your web host.
You will need an email address and inbox. Well, there’s what you already have from Google, Yahoo, or any other service, but that’s not what I mean. When you purchase hosting services, your hosting provider should throw in a reliable email address and inbox. You will use these services to create funnels and email lists of your subscribers. Other features you’ll get also include filtering services, autoresponders, and other email marketing tools you may need.
Storage is also a very crucial feature that your hosting provider should offer. Many shared hosting providers already provide huge storage capacities, but not to worry; you’ll probably never hit those upper limits with a standard blog.
I recommend that you also choose a web host that has high data transfer rates. This is crucial to the performance of your blog. You do not want your visitors to spend precious seconds waiting for your site to load. High data transfer rates (or bandwidth) are an excellent option, especially when your blog gains tractions, and you begin to receive plenty of visitors.
Pick a hosting provider that ensures that you have decent amounts of uptime. Nothing is as frustrating to users as a website experiencing downtime. Not to worry, many hosting providers promise 99%+ uptimes, ensuring that you do not lose precious customers or revenue from visitors to your blog.
Pricing is a critical factor that you need to consider with your hosting provider. For shared hosting, prices are competitive across hosting providers.
Lastly, ensure you pick a host that puts a high priority on security and support. In this business, you will encounter some technical challenges that will require you to seek professional help. Most web hosts will offer you troubleshooting guides for simple problems. However, finding responsive customer service can be the difference between a frustrating day and a productive day. Some have phone numbers you can call while others have responsive chat support.
With all these things behind us, now let’s go ahead and build the blog!
Setting Up Your Blog Step-By-Step
In this section, I am going to help you set up your blog in six quick steps. I’ll be using Siteground as our hosting provider.
Go to Siteground to start a blog
First, go to the Siteground website using the following link. It will take you to the web hosting page. This web hosting service will publish your blog and keep it live on the internet. I recommend that you purchase the Grow Big Plan. There are several benefits to this plan. First, you can host several blogs from this plan. Siteground also assigns you 20 GB web storage and the capacity to handle over 25,000 monthly visits.
Other benefits you get include:
- Unlimited websites
- Free SSL and HTTPS
- Free email accounts
- Unmetered traffic
- Free site transfer
- On-demand backup copies
Go ahead and choose your plan. Just click on the orange “Get Plan” to begin.
Choose your domain name
On the next page, Siteground will prompt you to choose a domain name for your blog. At this stage, you may choose to register a new domain. You can choose whatever name you like, as well as the domain extension. Domain extensions vary from .com to .org, .net, or .biz. You can also use a country-specific domain extension like .us, .uk, or .nl. You may also choose a generic extension.
If you already have a domain, fill in the space provided with your domain name, excluding the ‘www’ part and the ‘.com’ part. After you complete that stage, click on the blue “proceed” button.
Fill in your personal information and payment details
On this page, you will get the opportunity to open and create your Siteground account. You will provide your email address and create a password. Write these credentials down as you will need them later when you log into your control panel.
In the Client Information section, you’ll choose your country from a drop-down menu. After that, you’ll go ahead and fill in the following details:
- First Name
- Last Name
- VAT/Tax ID
- Street Address
- Zip Code
- Phone Number
Some of this information is vital. The city, your name, street address, zip code, and phone number are required. However, your company and Tax IDs are non-essential, and you won’t have to fill that information unless it is relevant to your case.
Below the client information section, you’ll fill in your payment information. Siteground only accepts credit card payments. Therefore, you’ll need a valid credit card. You’ll provide your card number, card expiration dates, cardholder’s name, and the CVV code.
To complete this stage, click the blue “pay now” button.
That’s it! You have now just created your first hosting account.
Sign in and Install WordPress
The next step is to take your new account out on a ride. Before you continue, please check your mailbox for confirmation emails from Siteground. You will receive a welcoming email, and an email confirming that Siteground has received your payment. You will also receive an email confirming all the details you entered into the forms, including your username and preferred password.
It’s time to install WordPress. Go to the top right side of the Siteground website and click on the login button. This button will redirect you to the login page. Using the credentials you saved earlier, log into your Siteground account.
When you log in for the first time, your account will prompt you to set up a new website on your new account. Choose one of these 3 options:
Then select “start new website” and click on the WordPress button. This button will lead you to a new section where you will create login information for your WordPress Application. Also, write these credentials down as you will need them later. Once you click the orange “continue” button, it will take you to a new section.
This new section confirms that you want to set up a WordPress website and any other added enhancement. It will prompt you to click on a checkbox confirming that you have read and agreed to Siteground’s Terms of Service. After that, Siteground will complete the install, and you’re open for business!
There is a second option. Once you log into the cPanel, Scroll down until you see a section labeled as “Autoinstallers.” In this section, you will see an autoinstaller called Softaculous. Softaculous is a third-party autoinstaller that comes preloaded in all Siteground cPanels that allows you to install any application you want in just a few clicks. It will make your WordPress installation effortless. Once you click and log into Softaculous, select the WordPress script, and follow the steps you will find on the “Install” tab. One of the perks of using Softaculous is that it always keeps WordPress and other scripts up-to-date. You will not have to update your install before you proceed.
Setting up the SSL
An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a digital security technology that establishes an encrypted connection between your web server and your browser. If your site has an SSL, all the data that users transfer over their browser and your website will remain secure.
On Siteground, configuring your SSL will take only one click. Once logged into your cPanel, go to the Let’s Encrypt SSL script. Here, select the domain on which you want to install an SSL. On the action drop-down menu, click HTTPS Settings. This action will open up a dialog box that will help you manage your SSL settings.
To activate your SSL, activate the HTTPS Enforce option. This option will force your website to work over a secured HTTPS connection. This action occurs on the server level of your website.
How to Install a theme on your blog
When you start your blog, it will have a mundane look. Don’t worry; it’s not your fault. You can do something about it, however. You can change it to look any way you want. The best way to do this? Installing a theme. A theme is a collection of design templates and stylesheets that change the appearance of your blog. It will also affect how your website functions.
Installing a WordPress theme is effortless. When you decide to change the theme in your WordPress website, first look at the options available on the free WordPress Theme store. There are thousands of templates to choose from. These themes are in various categories, depending on what you need or intend to use your website. You can also purchase premium themes that come with extended features, functions, and support from their creators
To install a new theme, log into your WordPress to access the admin area.
- On the left of the page is an entire bar with a menu of functions and features. Select the “Appearance” feature and select “themes.”
- When the “themes” page loads, click on the “add new” button
This button gives you access to the WordPress Theme library. Here, you will access featured themes, popular themes, and latest theme designs. Depending on your needs, you may filter these themes based on your own criteria until you find a theme that satisfies your requirements.
- When you see the theme, you want to install, simply click on the “install” button. Also, you may choose to preview the theme before you use it to determine whether it meets your needs or not. To do this, click on the “preview” button.
- After you click the “Install” button, WordPress will prompt you to activate this theme. This is the most critical stage because if you opt to go back to the theme store, It will remain inactive. Click on the “activate” button. This will instantly change the theme your blog displays.
You may download a collection of themes and test them out on your blog to see what fits.
Install the right plugins
Plugins extend the features and functionality of your website. Plugins are much like themes. If you want your site to perform advanced functions or automate repetitive tasks, you can’t do without them.
In your WordPress admin area:
- On the left menu bar, select the “Plugins” button. It will open up. On the drop-down menu, click on “add new.” This action will open an “Add Plugins” page.
- To navigate the plugins library, type the name of the function you want to extend or the name of the plugin.
- When a list of plugins appears, choose the unique plugin you’re looking for. Click on the “install now” button.
- After the plugin installs, click on the “activate plugin” button. You’re now all set.
In WordPress, you may install as many plugins as you want. We, however, recommend that you install only what you need. Some plugins may affect the performance of your website and cause it to become slow.
How to Write a Blog Post and Publish it
Writing a post on your WordPress is quite straightforward. WordPress offers a clean editing interface where you can post articles, pictures, and any other media.
To write a blog post, here is what you do:
- Go to your Dashboard. On the left-hand side menu, click on “posts” and select “Add new.”
- This option will take you to the text editor, where you’ll write your first post. WordPress uses an editor that converts all your text and media into blocks. Using these blocks, you can create beautiful and appealing layouts for your blog posts.
- Once done, hover your cursor to the top right area of the screen and click the “Publish” button. This button instantly publishes your content to your blog, making it accessible to all your followers and users.
- You can use categories and tags to organize your blog into sections that cover particular interests and topics
How to Promote your Blog
Merely starting a blog is a great decision. However, you will need to market your blog if you intend to make any money. While you may have created incredibly helpful and engaging posts, they will not be of much help to anyone if you do not market them. Marketing is a crucial aspect of blogging because it helps you in three ways:
- Marketing helps you validate your idea. If your niche or topic of discussion is valuable to people, a little marketing will go a long way. Your blog will gain traction fast, creating a following and engagement that you can successfully monetize
- Marketing reduces your time to success. By bringing your blog closer to the people, you significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to achieve your blogging goals and objectives.
- Marketing increases your conversion rates. Whether your goal is to sell a product or a service or drive people to pay or donate money to a worthy cause, marketing helps you get the word out. People in need of your products or services will gladly purchase them if you reach out to them, and this will help you quickly market your products.
Exceptional marketing will set you above the competition. For example, if you find out that a specific issue or product is missing from the market, you may take it up in a blog. As you gain traction, marketing your blog to the people who need the service will help you grow faster compared to an expert on the topic who does not market his knowledge or skills.
There are three powerful ways to market your blog.
- Social Media
It is incredible what you can do if you harness the power of social media. You can reach your target audience on a global scale. You can use short messages like tweets or long videos on YouTube. You can share pictures on Instagram and Pinterest and capture the attention of people seeking inspiration. You can move the hearts and minds of people using Facebook posts. Spending a few dollars on paid marketing can generate massive amounts of impression, engagement, and conversions.
- Email Marketing
You can collect the email addresses of subscribers to your blog. Using long-form writing and the right combination of media and calls to action, you can generate massive amounts of responses. Customers will give you feedback about what you offer. They will provide you with ideas on how to improve and innovate.
- Search Engine Marketing
Using search engines, you can market your blogs to people who conduct searches using keywords that directly relate to your blogs and products. Search engine marketing is very potent. It helps you rank higher in searches, increasing the probability of converting everyone who visits your blog.
Other ways to market your blog include word-of-mouth. People tend to trust what you tell them about yourself, and if you market your blog directly to your family friends and community members, you will increase the number of people who know about your products.
If you have followed this entire post to the letter, then congratulations! You have just taken your first step into the world of blogging. I’m glad that you have joined me on this journey. While I cannot guarantee that the ride will always be smooth, I can assure you that it will be incredibly rewarding. Even if you do not intend to blog for long or for money, I hope that this guide has given you some valuable tips on how to start, run, and manage a blog.
Feel free to give me feedback on your blog-creating experiences and this article in the comments below. I love hearing from you.