Maybe you’ve been thinking about how you might start a blog. Perhaps you’re excited about the idea, but just need an extra push in the right direction.
If so, I’m really excited for you, and I fully support you. Blogging has done wonders for me and my family over the years. We’ve been able to add additional income, receive sponsorships to attend free conferences, travel, and make brand and business connections that have been beneficial to us. Blogging has really been a happy place for me!
In fact, in this post we’ll go into detail about how to start a blog from scratch, but I do want to cover something very important first. It has to do with a mindset shift.
I want you to be honest and ask yourself if you’re truly ready to begin this journey?
Is anything holding you back from blogging?
There are a couple of scenarios that could be at play if you are hesitating or on the fence. Maybe you’re really scared of what it could mean to begin a blogging career. You could be dealing with a few legit questions like:
- “Will I have enough time?”
- “What if I crash and burn?”
- “What if I run out of things to write about?”
- “What if I don’t like writing?”
- “What if I don’t do this the right way?” … and the biggest one for me was…
- “What will everyone think?” (family/friends/coworkers)
I had all of these questions when I first started blogging, and it was a little intimidating in the beginning until I got into my groove.
Once you set up your blog and write your first few posts, you will start to feel more comfortable with the concept of blogging and the routine you’ve created.
It will get easier, I promise!
Those negative questions I asked myself, they were all filling me with doubt and frustration.
Once I focused on all the reasons not to blog, it held me back from even taking the first step to start a blog. Before I could make any progress, I first had to get myself unstuck and go through a mindset shift.
I began to see myself being successful and I encouraged myself by watching other successful bloggers. There are quite a few lovely, successful bloggers who started at square zero and are now making a very comfortable income from their blogs.
Take for example, Elna Cain. I’ve been following her for several years now. She runs a few different blogs and is a fabulous copywriter, freelance writer and blogger. (She has a knack with words and makes you feel as though she is talking directly to you in a completely conversational way that’s simply…Elna.) A mompreneur of twins, she understands the life-family balance. And get this, she makes a full-time income while raising her kids and growing her blogs at the same time.
And there’s Amy Porterfield, one of my business coaches. She started blogging over a decade ago, as an online marketer and social media expert. I’ve been following her since her post-Tony Robbins days. She went from simply deciding to start a blog to now running a successful multimillion dollar online marketing business. And it all began with a blog.
I hope you feel reassured that if blogging is the direction you want to go in, that you can do this. It just takes time and persistence.
I realize that blogging is not for the faint of heart, but I know that you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t feel compelled in some way to perhaps begin your own blog, or get some advice for a blog you may have already started.
So I’m rooting for you!
Now, let’s talk for a minute about what a blog is (and what it’s not).
What is a blog (and why start one)?
When I first tried my hands at blogging in the early 2000’s, I didn’t know about WordPress yet (I think I may have been using a platform like Typepad or Blogger). And I didn’t blog to grow a business because I didn’t have a clue that such a thing existed. Instead, I blogged to share about my family and my personal life. And that was it.
Fast forward a few years and my web design clients needed badly to market their sites online. I’d heard that blogging could help make this happen…so we tried it, and it worked! It was like magic! We noticed that the more often they blogged, the more their website URL’s were indexed in Google, and the higher ranking they achieved in the search engines.
(Google has changed its algorithm a LOT since 2007, so it’s not quite so easy anymore! You’ve got to put a bit more work into ranking now.)
Nonetheless, blogging can really be a real life-changer for your business right now. Once you start creating content on a regular basis on your blog, you can track your numbers and see how well your blog posts are doing and how they improve your company’s online presence.
So what is this thing we call a “blog” and how can it really help your business?
A blog is a website that is updated on a regular basis and can be run by one or many people. (As a solopreneur, I am the face behind my blog.)
It’s usually written in a conversational style where you connect with your readers and can include text, images, videos, audio, animated gifs, and can be set for public or private use. You can think of a blog as an extension of a company website that has regularly updated posts and announcements, or you can think of a blog as an online diary of sorts- a place where you post regular updates about your topic of choice.
A blog is not only a set of “static” web pages that you have designed, written, and uploaded (while you hope for the best in terms of traffic), but it is an ever-constant influx of fluid content you create on a regular basis to support the main goal of delivering your message.
In other words, with a static website, you create a few pages and it’s one and done. You can walk away. But with a blog, you must keep creating content regularly to meet your ultimate goal. See the difference?
Also, blogs usually are quite interactive. As a content creator, you are enjoying writing about your content and connecting with your audience. Like a two-way street, your audience might respond to you through your comments section or by taking some form of action to stay in touch with you.
Is blogging dead?
My short answer to that is yes and no.
Here at Elevate Your Blog, I share tips on how to grow your blog and make an income from it. I want you to make money blogging because I see it as a lucrative opportunity to help you develop a content-based online business. For this purpose, blogging is still very much alive and well.
But if your purpose for blogging is to share your thoughts with the world in a diary format, no judgement on my part. I think it’s great (I started several personal family blogs in the past), but they are often not set up for making you any money.
Some people think blogging is dead because they often don’t realize the value that blogs still bring to the online marketplace. It’s not blogging itself that is dead- it’s our approach to blogging that makes the difference.
If you approach blogging like a business, watch the results be effective for you. I believe in blogging because I know it works once we have a mindset shift of how we approach blogging.
Ready for the steps for how to start a blog? Let’s go!
How to start a blog in 5 easy steps
Here are a few easy steps to get started right away with your blogging career.
Step 1: Figure out your blog topic (your niche)!
This is your first step and a really important one. Picking a topic you actually like will give you a headstart in this game. This is a topic you’ll likely be besties with over the next several years of your life, so choose well.
How do you know what topic to write about?
Ask yourself a few key questions:
- What do you like to talk about (and can’t stop talking about)?
- What do you like to read about?
- What do you like to listen to?
- What would you say are your hobbies, passions, and interests in life?
- What motivates you and makes you want to motivate others?
After asking yourself these questions, you should have a general idea of what kind of blog you want to create and what your topic will be.
Figure out who you’ll be writing for (who is your audience)? Also, discover the kind of blog you’ll be writing (lifestyle, education, travel, brand, food, fashion). Once you have this figured out you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Decide on a fabulous blog name
It’s time to think of a fabulous name for your blog now. What topic did you decide on? Take your topic idea and think of some descriptive words that make for a catchy blog title.
Maybe you’re starting a personal blog or a personal brand, in which case you might simply use your name.
Perhaps your blog is a very specific niche. Try taking various forms of the words in your niche to make a title that is memorable and easy to remember.
A blog title should be descriptive enough where your site visitors can instantly know what your blog is all about.
Try a handful of variations to see what sounds the best.
For this blog about blogging, I tried a few different variations:
- Start Your Blog
- Elevate Your Blog
- Increase Your Blog
- Begin A Blog
- Blogging with Dee
I eventually decided on Elevate Your Blog after researching to see which of those ideas might have already been taken (a quick search in google can help.) And I didn’t really want to use my nickname in my blog title.
Figure out what you’d like your title to be, then do a bit of research in Google to make sure it’s not already taken by another blogger. You might also want to check USPTO.gov to make sure there are no patents or trademarks on the name.
Step 3: Choose the perfect blogging platform for you
Finding the right blogging platform for you will make all the difference in your success as a blogger. I always recommend WordPress first, although if you prefer another platform like Squarespace you can always start there.
There are quite a few benefits to choosing WordPress, however. Namely:
- Its ease of use and easy content management
- Variety of plugin options and functions
- Its stability and continual updates
- Thousands of design options
- Search engine optimization with plugins like Yoast
- Shareability with readers
That said, I’ve tried a variety of website builders, include Squarespace and Wix. When it comes to having your blog be able to do just about anything you want it to (functionality), WordPress wins hands-down. Also, I’ve found that WordPress only takes a few extra steps on the front-end to set up than the other two web builders I’ve mentioned, and those “extra” steps give you a lot in return: freedom and flexibility on your website.
So, for super beginners, starting on Squarespace I think is fine. I would advise against Wix for building out your blog, though. Last I checked, there was no way to export your blog should you decide to move away from Wix (and you would be stuck copying and pasting all of your content over to your new website.) Not fun. I know because I helped a client do this once and it was a headache for her.
Squarespace is a super easy setup and go. Though it gets the job done, it does lack some flexibility and I definitely think you have more freedom on WordPress.
Step 4: Get your domain name registered and purchase hosting
It’s now time to set up your hosting.
What is hosting?
Your hosting is a space on the web where you’ll be uploading all of your files for your website. This includes your images, text, and virtually anything included on your website or blog. The computer that hosts your content is available on the web 24/7 to allow anyone to access it.
Hosting costs vary, but generally you might expect to pay around $5 per month to host one blog or $10 per month to host unlimited blogs. It’s a worthy investment considering your potential income streams.
You can purchase your domain name and hosting separately, or you can purchase them with the same company, which makes things a lot easier.
I currently use three different hosting companies for my various blogging needs. For complete newbies at website building, Bluehost seems to top the others in terms of ease of use and least expensive. I am also currently using BigScoots and find this option to be one of the best for hosting my multiple sites.
However, I’ve always recommended Siteground, although they are a bit more expensive, mainly because their customer service has been excellent and I never need to worry about site security.
Here’s how to get started with your hosting at Siteground.
- Choose your domain name, package and plan. Go to Siteground.com, and select “Managed WordPress Hosting”.
- Next, select your hosting package. I recommend the Grow Big so that you can host unlimited sites (including sales pages and multiple domain names.)
(Do keep in mind that these are first-year introductory prices and they will increase your second year of hosting. I just believe in being honest so that you know what your budget should be for Year 2 of hosting.) Click “Get Plan”.
- Register a new domain name and fill out details for your payment information.
- Now check your email for your login credentials! You’re all set!
Step 5: Set up and launch your blog
Now it’s time to set up a WordPress blog on your new hosting.
Log in to your Siteground and click on the “websites” tab.
Find your domain name beneath the “My Websites” listings and click on “Site Tools”
Then navigate to the left side of your screen where it says “Wordpress” and click on “Install and Manage”.
Select WordPress (you can always install WooCommerce later on). Then under “Application Setup”, select the domain name you just registered, the language, and leave your installation path set to “Main folder”.
Under Admin Info, choose a username and password, and add your email address.
Under Add-ons, you can click “Install with WordPress Starter”.
Once installed, check your “Install and Manage” page again. At the very bottom of the page you will find your new WordPress install.
Click on the right arrow underneath “Actions”. This will take you directly to the backend of your WordPress!
A universal way to get to your WordPress dashboard is to simply type in your domain name this way:
(You will always add wp-admin behind your domain and this will take you automatically to your WordPress login page.)
Now log in and start playing around with WordPress settings.
Choosing a theme
I’ve played around with many themes over the years, including Genesis, Divi, and Astra. For beginners I recommend Astra Pro with Elementor for its ease of use.
When you first log into your WordPress you’ll see options for appearance. Click on “Appearance” and “Themes”. You will see lots of options for available themes as well as the option to upload new ones.
You can do a search for “Astra” and it’s an easy click to install.
From there you can customize your theme to look exactly how you want it to.
When you’re ready to add pages, click on “Pages, Add New”. When you’re ready to add blog posts, click on “Posts, Add New”.
Set up your blog categories to help you organize your blog topics before you write your first post and be sure to add plugins you’ll find helpful.
A few of my plugin recommendations to start with are:
- Yoast SEO
- WPForms Lite
- Google Analytics
BONUS Step: Get a logo designed
I mention this last because it’s not a necessity to run your blog, but it sure makes it look pretty! Find a designer to create a logo for you and it will make a huge difference in your blog’s appearance.
I found my logo designer on Fiverr. They did such a great job for me that I continue to purchase from Fiverr for my design needs.
Hopefully these tips will help you to start a blog that you’re proud of. Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving them in the comments section below.