Now that people are more online than ever, it is the perfect time to start a blog! It is now time to make your voice heard and show the world your talents. In toady’s blog, I am going to show you an in detail step by step guide, including resources, you need to start your own blog!
When I first decided to start a blog, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. Website A said this, website B said that and so on. It did take me some time to get the hang of it but I did get there eventually.
And so will you!
There are some important things to keep in mind when starting a blog and lucky for you, I am going to talk about everything you need to know.
What is a niche? A quick Google search gave me the following:
denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.
So, how does this apply to blogging? A niche is important because it is a topic that you’re going to be writing about. Let’s say you are into budgeting and want to start a blog giving budget tips for students.
Then, budgeting is your niche!
Same with travel. If you’re into travel and want to share with us your travel experiences, then travel is your niche.
What I did to help me figure out my niche is write down on a piece of paper everything that I love. I came up with a list of things including travel, lifestyle, blogging tips (hello!), day in the life posts and many more.
This isn’t my only blog. I run another blog and I have been in this industry for quite some time. When I first started blogging, almost every blog post I read urged that newbies should stick only to one niche.
Let me debunk that and tell you that you can write about as many topics as you want. As long as you REALLY know what you’re talking about in each one.
I write about travel and lifestyle (I might expose my other blog someday) and blogging tips on this blog.
So don’t be afraid to share your knowledge about everything you love. We would love to hear all about it!
You need to have a name for your blog. By name I mean the URL or domain name.
What is your blog going to be about? Are you going to blog just about travel? Lifestyle? Budgeting tips?
My top tip is that once you have your niche figured out, pick a name that is rich in keywords that pertain to that particular niche. For example, if you’re writing about travel, try to include the word travel in your name!
Don’t worry if you can’t think of a name with keywords or maybe the one you want is already taken. You don’t have to do this.
Try using tools such as Domain Name Search to check if the domain name you came up with is available or not.
Now you have your niche and blog name, it is time to actually start your blog! You have two options. The first option is you can start off on a free platform like Blogger. The only catch is that you don’t actually own your blog. While it is free, you don’t have control over your blog, meaning if something goes wrong with Blogger, your website can shut down. I’ve heard nightmare stories of people losing their blogs on Blogger.
Your second and best option is WordPress. Starting a blog on WordPress does not have to be expensive. If you’re looking for a cheap option that works AND has amazing customer service, then I highly recommend SiteGround. You can chat with them day and night if you have any queries and they’ll answer you promptly. Once I literally broke my site and sent them a message on their live chat and the issue was fixed in a matter of 5 minutes!
With just €3.95/month, you can start your own blog! I know that at the end of the day, this is an expense, but you have a full guarantee that this website is your own, you have stellar customer service and you will be able to make this money back when you monetize your blog (more on that below!)
I am a firm believer that you have to invest in what you love if you want it to grow. Once you select your plan (I used the StartUp plan), SiteGround will guide you through the rest of the steps and you’ll have your own domain in no time at all!
There are of course other web hosting companies out there but let me give you my top reasons why SiteGround is my favourite:
- There are real people answering your questions all day every day and not robots
- SiteGround offers free site transfers. If you started on Blogger but you now want to move to WordPress, SiteGround will do it for you for free. All you have to do is simply follow their steps and all your content will move from Blogger to WordPress. How amazing is that?!
- Hack protection. With the plan you purchase, SiteGround offers protection against hackers.
- It loads faster than other web hosting companies. You need a fast loading website in order to attract new readers. If your website is slow to load, people are going to click away!
- They automatically install any WordPress updates for you so you don’t have to do any extra work.
- Depending on the plan you choose, you can add different domains. I have two!
All in all, I highly recommend giving SiteGround a shot. I’ve been a customer of theirs for a year and I love it! Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of creating your own domain and installing WordPress on your own. Tip: save your WordPress login info somewhere safe. I tried memorizing it several times and always ended up forgetting them! If you have a better memory span than I do, then ignore this step
AS MENTIONED ABOVE, SITEGROUND MAKES IT INCREDIBLY EASY. IT TOOK ME ONLY 30 MINUTES TO:
✼ Sign up for my domain
✼ Install WordPress
✼ Move my entire website from Blogger to WordPress
Simply follow the steps and you’re good to go!
Now that your blog is live (congrats 🎉!) it is time to make your website look all nice and professional. When I first started out, I used a free theme from WordPress for months. Check them out here and here. What I love about these themes is how responsive they are. However, as time went on, I felt the need to invest in my own theme and make it look how I wanted it to look. While WordPress offers an array of themes, neither one of them felt like it represented my brand for me.
So, I went on the hunt for affordable and pretty, girly themes and I found AngieMakes.
Angie offers a selection of girly themes that 1) are pretty to look at 2) are very user-friendly! The one I bought was the Gentry theme.
I know that $70 may be a bit too much and that is completely fine! You don’t have to buy a theme the minute you set up your website. I didn’t do that either and opted for the free themes and then decided to invest when the time felt right for me.
Remember, you’re in no rush here. Do what’s right for you (and your wallet!)
Now that the technical part of blogging is over (that wasn’t too bad, right?), you can go ahead and set up your social media. Social media is important to share your blog and attract readers! The main three I use are Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
When setting up your social media, I recommend using your blog name.
Using your own blog name helps readers make the connection between your site and your social media. It is not the end of the world if that particular username is not available.
Another tip I have is to include keywords in your name and descriptions. For example, on Pinterest, behind my name, I added Blogging Tips And Tricks. That helps me to rank higher in Pinterest search and also if someone is searching ‘blogging tips’ on Pinterest, my profile pops up! Furthermore, I also added keywords in my descriptions! That also helps with people finding my profile when searching.
I mentioned above that I have another blog and that this blog is brand new. I can’t show you my analytics for this blog yet but take a look at my Pinterest Analytics over my travel account.
I went from 10K monthly views to 200K+ in 30 days!
By now you should have your domain up and running and your website looking all professional and pretty. The next step is to publish your first blog post! How exciting! Don’t let the WordPress dashboard overwhelm you. It is very easy to use.
To publish your first post, simply go to your dashboard, hover over POSTS on the left-hand side and select ADD NEW and you can begin writing your first ever blog post! You can make it about anything you want. Maybe about a recent trip you took or you can dedicate your first blog post to writing a bit about yourself and letting the world know who you are and what your brand/blog stands for.
Before you hit on that publish button, there are a couple of things you need to make sure are in check in order for your blog to rank high in Google and be read by other people! Let’s start with the basics.
What is SEO? SEO is Search Engine Optimization.
In a nutshell, this means making your blog Google friendly. This includes adding relevant keywords that people use on Google to search so they can easily find your blog and read it. The more readers you have, the higher it ranks! You can optimize your blog for free with the YOAST SEO plugin.
To install it or any other plugin, simply go to PLUGINS > ADD NEW > TYPE IN YOAST SEO. THEN CLICK ON INSTALL AND ACTIVATE.
Once Yoast is activated, if you scroll down on your post, you will a box with SEO related information. I recommend keeping a close eye on this information while you’re writing your blog post because it helps a lot with SEO and making sure your blog is SEO friendly.
Yoast comes with a premium feature. However, I haven’t felt the need to purchase the premium feature yet! I use the free one and has worked just fine for me. So if you’re on a budget but want to make sure your blog is getting traffic, then opt for the free version like me!
Depending on what blog you’re starting, you might need to upload different photos than travel bloggers for example.
Fact: you do not need to buy an expensive camera to start a blog. When I first started, I just used my iPhone! As a student, I couldn’t afford to buy those fancy DSLR or DLSR (I always get confused) cameras and when I left my job to move to Germany, I certainly couldn’t afford to drop thousands on a camera. Therefore, I just used my phone and it did the job just fine!
If you want to give your photos an extra pop, I recommend downloading Lightroom. It is my number one app for editing photos. You can choose to create your own presets (filters) or buy them. I created mine to match my brand but I’ve seen preset bundles sell for €4 on Etsy! Check out the before and after when applying my preset. What a difference it makes!
It takes some time to perfect your preset but you’ll get there, trust me! I use it for my Instagram but I found that adding the preset to my blog helps a lot too! Lightroom is free to download on your phone, however, you’d need to purchase it to be able to use it on your laptop.
I also make use of stock photos for my blog. The ones I use the most are pretty flat lays for my pins! I get all of my stock photos from Unsplash. You can find a ton of photos and most importantly, it’s FREE!
Another tool I use for photos on my blog is the gallery on WordPress. I use this when I want to place two or more images next to each other or create a slider with 2 or more images. It is very easy to use! Simply click on Add Media, select your images, click on Create A New Gallery and change the settings according to what you want.
I always make sure that the Size is always the same and add the number of images I uploaded under Columns. If I want images to be next to each other, I select Masonry and if I want a slider I select Slider (Auto Start) under Display. When you’re done, click on Insert Gallery and tada!
If you want to create your own collage, I recommend Collage Maker. It is free and very easy to use!
You wrote your first post, made sure it is SEO friendly, added a couple of nice pictures and you’ve hit publish. What do you do next? You share your hard work with everyone! Scroll up to see how you can set up your social media for free.
For a long time, I refused to share my blog on Facebook because I was anxious about what my close friends and family are going to think of it. However, as time went on, I grew more confident and sure in my work and got over this weird hump of feeling embarrassed! I now share my content on social media without having anxiety about it.
Don’t be afraid to show off your hard work!
I can’t give you a full breakdown on newsletters at this point because I’m rather new to all of it. Over on my travel blog, I use the free version of MailChimp.
I do have a healthy amount of subs but personally, I find MailChimp hard to use.
For this blog, I switched to ConvertKit and in an hour I managed to set up a landing page, a newsletter in-line embedded code for my post and a newsletter pop up in my top bar at the top of my page!
After my great experience with ConvertKit, I will be definitely making the switch over on my travel blog. Oh, and I use the FREE VERSION! Yes, free version!
Now you have your blog and social media set up, it is time to talk about earning money from your blog. Yes, it is possible to make money from blogging. No more ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Before we get started, please keep in mind that making money from your blog takes T I M E so don’t get discouraged when you don’t see dollar signs immediately!
I blog because I love it. Blogging keeps me going every day and gives me a sense of purpose. Here are my two top ways you can make money from blogging:
♡ Google AdSense:
AdSense is a program run by Google whereby ads are showed on your content and you make money through clicks and impressions. I signed up for AdSense last year and love it! However, recently they introduced a program called Automatic Ads where they increase the number of Ads on your website. Prior to this, I only had one Ad showing in the sidebar, now they’re all over my website. I am still not sure how I feel about all of this but for now, this is how I make money from my blog.
There are a ton of affiliate programs out there for bloggers. If you’re a travel blogger for example, consider trying Booking’s affiliate program. Check out this article about the top 25 affiliate programs for travel bloggers and this article about the top affiliate programs for other kinds of bloggers. I am still new to affiliate programs and I will report back to you when I join more programs and start making money from them!
There are other ways to monetize your blog. You can sell physical products. For example, one of my fav bloggers, LilyLike has her own stationery business and uses her blog to promote them! Another way where you can make money from your blog is to create your own course.
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Before I conclude this post, I want to talk about my top reasons why you should start a blog. Apart from the financial aspect of blogging, blogging improves your life in ways that you probably didn’t think about!
Firstly, blogging helps you develop valuable branding skills. Your blog is your brand and you want it to stand out and attract readers. From blogging, you can learn a lot about branding! Secondly, it is a place where you can talk about what you love.
Furthermore, blogging helps you connect with other bloggers and make new friends along the way! I met a lot of people from my blog and I am happy to call those bloggers my friends! Connecting with other bloggers not only helps your blog, you can also learn from them and apply those new skills to your brand.
Blogging also helps you with your writing skills. My writing skills have improved SO much ever since I started blogging. Before, I struggled to convey what I was thinking in English (English is not my native language). Now, I can do it without a problem whatsoever!
When you start sharing your blog, you also learn a lot of marketing skills. Marketing is very important in today’s world and having skills in marketing will help a ton with your blogging career! I never touched a marketing textbook in my life and this past year but I learned so much about the ins and outs of marketing and how I can use it for my blog.
And lastly, blogging helps to keep that creative wheel turning. If you’re anything like me, I get bored easily. I’m the kind of person where I have to challenge myself every day or else I’ll get bored. When I used to work a 9-5 job, the routine was the same every day and I did the same thing daily. I ended up quitting that job!
With blogging, I brainstorm every day and come up with new content. My mind is always on the go on what I can write about, how I can design my blog, what strategies I can use to promote my website and so on. I am being creative every day and I love it!
I hope you found this blog post useful! I will be adding more information from time to time when I learn more. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email over on firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be more than happy to help you!
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