How to Start a Blog
How to start a blog that’s successful, in 5 easy steps! Starting a blog is an incredibly exciting time! But it can also be fraught with anxiety and doubt!
It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole and and sign up with the wrong platform… or host… or spend hours and days and weeks on building something that won’t meet you needs a few months down the track!
Starting a blog needn’t be stressful! It should be fun! So I’ve broken the process of starting a blog down into 5 easy to follow and simplified steps! No jargon or heavy tech speak!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase. Thank you for your support!
So, jump in! Feel confident in starting your new blog today!
How to start a blog in 5 simple steps
1. Map out your framework
Find your why
One of the very first questions you should be asking yourself is this. Why do I want to start a blog?
Do you have something on your mind?
Have you processed a difficult or life changing event that has led you to want to write? Have you always had a burning passion for a particular topic and want to share it with the world? DO you create or make something that you want to sell?
Do you have specific expertise in an area that you think others would be interested in?
Or… are you simply wanting a place to share your innermost thoughts or your latest project?
You need to find your why. And there’s a good reason for this.
Once you know your way, will a lot of other things fall into place!
Find your why by asking yourself some questions.
- Do I want to make this into a business or am I just keen on writing for a hobby?
- Am I wanting to monetise my blog at some point in the future?
- Do I want to set myself goals and aim for targets or am I happy tinkering?
Write down your answers, do some free writing or daily pages about your writing. Find the passion in your process and figure out the reason behind your desire to put your words out into the world. It’ll make everything else so much easier
Decide on a niche
Once you know your why… it’s time to really focus in on your what. What type of blog are you looking to create? Is there a specific niche that you’re aiming for?
There are a number of great blogger niches and general topic categories that are all proven to be successful. You might like to pick from one of these on the list.. Or grab one and make it your own…
Sometimes it’s a good idea to start a little wider and then narrow yourself down as you get a feel for the topic and wheat specific area you’re really into.
- Home decor
- Mom/ Parenting
- Self care
- Lifestyle (general)
For instance. You might be a jewelry maker, and choose to focus in on a blog specific to jewelry making… but… then branch it out a little more to include fashion…
Or… you might start with fitness workouts – then, as you progress, decide to broaden your focus into a more general wellbeing or health and fitness.
Alternatively – you can start wide and then narrow in… for instance. Starting off as a marketing blogger, then narrowing your focus to paid search, or Etsy sellers, or SEO.
A lot of bloggers double up… or even triple up! … Moms who budget, Making money blogging, Traveling with kids…
The main thing is this. Start a blog where you have an in-depth interest and a niche that you truly enjoy. Writing a blog is hard work and there’s nothing worse than staring at a screen and not knowing what to write! And, if you don’t love your topic, then things just got that much harder!
Head on over to Google and type in your specific interest… Google will show you results for that search… and how popular it is… just for kicks!
You can then drill down a little more to maybe your specific area…
Don’t stress if you find a niche that you love… but are worried that there might be a fair amount of competition in that space. There will always be others in your niche, no matter what you want to do! Just remember this point.
You are unique. You have a unique voice and a unique perspective
Pick your name
Now that you’ve decided on the nic he where you want to dwell, it’s time to name that little baby of yours! Or, perhaps you’ve already figured out a name that you love and want to use?
Tips for picking your blog name:
- Go for an easy to remember name
- Choose a name that’s not too long
- Don’t use hyphens or numbers
- Use a .com extension
- Don’t try to be too clever, simple is better
Once you’ve chosen your blog name you’ll have to secure a domain name. Your domain name is your instantly recognised web address.
A domain name might be your name if that’s your brand… or your business name or something that catchy related to your niche.
Head on over to somewhere like Domain.com and type in your preferred domain name. They will instantly tell you if it’s available and if not, give you alternatives to try.
But wait! Don’t buy your domain name there! Yet! First, decide on where you will host your blog – as many hosts give you a free domain registration with hosting. You may need to go back and buy your domain name once you figure out your platform.
2. Pick a platform
Ok this is where things might get confusing for some people. And that’s Ok. It can be confusing! … I wrote a pretty in depth post on WordPress.org vs WordPress.com for beginners the other day if this is something you want to dive a little more into.
But – the gist is this…
A blog platform
A blog platform is your shop front and your CMS- where you write your blog and where people go to read your blog
A blog host
A blog host is a company that offers you a place on the web to store that blog … Some platforms offer hosting with their service.
You can build your blog on a few different platforms. You can go for a platform like Wix or Squarespace… These are website builders. They will walk you through step by step and you’ll end up with a fab site. There are however limitations with customisation, SEO, plugins and space.
WordPress.org is the preferred platform of choice for successful bloggers. OR if you are certain you JUST want a hobby blog… perhaps WordPress.com might work for you.
WordPress.org offers flexibility, it’s cheap and your blog will be future proofed in case you want to add plugins, customise or monetise it at a later date. WordPress.org requires you to also sign up with a blog host company.
WordPress.com is a fast start platform where you can literally get up and running in a day. But it is limited in flexibility, monetisation, plugins and customisation. If you are wanting to make custom changes, you’ll have to upgrade and this can get expensive.
My preference is WordPress.org.
WordPress.org is free, open source software. Most hosts will help you download and install wordpress.org. Mine did.
Pick a host
Now, if you’re going for WordPress.org you’ll need a host. A host gives your blog a home on the internet 🙂 I recommend Siteground.
They are cheap. They are super helpful and they helped me set up my site. Their support is amazing too. And they have often helped me work through issues on chat with no problem at all. My site speed is great and I have had zero issues with them.
There are lots of different hosting companies around that are great for beginner bloggers. Just jump into a blogging forum or Facebook Group and do your research. Or go with Siteground.
With a few simple clicks you’ll have your hosting sorted.
Once you have your hosting sorted, either download WordPress.org yourself or get Siteground to assist you.
To do this yourself go to your siteground dashboard and under WordPress, click install and manage.
3. Give it some flavour
So, you’ve now got a domain name, a platform and a host! Yippee… you’re a blogger!
Now head on over to your WordPress dashboard. Under Appearance, click Themes > Add New – this will take you to a page where you can choose your theme.
There are a few themes already on WordPress, but you’ll want to head on in and browse the new ones.
There are a tonne of great blog posts out there about themes. I’d suggest doing a bit of a Google search and reading a bit about what themes are great for your particular niche. If you’re going to be image heavy, you’ll need a slightly different set of must haves… like site speed.
You can search by popular, latest or use your own search term.
You can also filter down by these three options, which I highly recommend!
Go wild! Try out a few options.. You can’t make a mistake here.
Once you like the look of a particular theme you can see how it will look by clicking the preview button at the bottom of page
You can purchase a theme from other providers and upload it to WordPress if you prefer. But if you’re a newbie, it’s easier to pick one off WordPress.
In general, there are plenty of great free options. I use Kale by Lyra themes. Their support has been AMAZING… and even though the theme is initially a food blog template, as you can see, it is incredibly versatile. Don’t let the example put you off choosing a theme! Go for layout and features.
Once you’ve made your choice, simply click Install, then > Activate.
Do not stress over the imagery or anything on the template! You can change all of this to meet your own requirements once you have the theme installed.
Decide on your brand look and feel
There’s a few things you’ll now want to do to make your blog your own.
Swap out the imagery, add your own logo and headers. Don’t overthink things too much right now. Trust me, you’ll want to make plenty of changes and tweaks as you go. So, start small and then you can always go back and edit things.
But, the first thing I’d tell new bloggers is to create a one pager that will become your brand look and feel guidelines. Choose 3 colours – or a palette, that you’ll work with across your blog and your social channels.
Maybe pick a font. And maybe choose a few images as the basis for the type of imagery that you will feature. Consistency is key and once you decide on a brand look everything gets so much easier!
As soon as you have your palette you can change out things on your blog to match your brand.
If you do nothing else, then this wee tip is one you need to remember. Add the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s free and it will give you the peace of mind that you are optimising your blog posts each and every time.
Simple to install.
Go to Plugins > Add New
Then, search for > Yoast SEO.
The other plugin I highly recommend is Grow by Mediavine. A social sharing plugin that gives you a beautiful sharing option on your blog complete with a scroll bar if you want it.
Add foundation pages
Next up, foundational pages!
There’s a few pages on your website that you want to make sure you have from the get go.
You’ll want to make sure you have these pages sorted early on. Pages are easy to add on WordPress.
Simply go to your dashboard and head down to Pages. Add new
This will open an editor where you can add all the details you need.
4. Add your first blog post!
Ahhhh… now you’re ready to write! Finally! ….
Tips for your first post
- Don’t overthink it – You started a blog for a reason… try not to overthink your first post. Just jump in and get it down.
- Write as you intend to continue – Use your unique voice and your unique style and tone. Try to not emulate anyone else.
- Write for your audience – find your niche and write for your readers.
- Don’t grandstand – try to avoid doing a long monologue of why you’re starting this blog… write what your readers want to read. Be relevant. You can save that other stuff for your about me page. Soliloquies are for Shakespeare.
- Hit publish – you can always go back and edit, make it better, add. Just rip that bandaid off and get it out into the world!
My advice to new bloggers is get three blog posts written in advance of launching… then hit publish on all three on the same day!
That way your readers will have something to browse when they hit your site. Don’t stress too much about any more than that. You want to get your content published and out there! …
The longer a post is out there, the more likely it is that Google will pick it up and you’ll rank higher. Only around 5% of all blog posts published ever get to page one on Google within the first year! So, give yourself lots of time and scope.
Aim for great, meaty posts with a word length of no less than 1200 words. Most of mine are 1500- 2500.
You can add a new post to your blog by simply going to your WordPress dashboard and clicking Posts- Add new. Like you would with a New Page.
Dive a little deeper into the anatomy of a great blog post over on my latest blog How to write a blog post.
Or watch this great wee video (only 6 mins long) by the infamous Neil Patel (of UberSuggest fame) who walks you through a handful of easy to follow tips. So, so good!
Don’t forget to add images to your post and use Yoast SEO before you hit publish!
5. Set yourself up for success
Ok, now this is the stuff that in my opinion really matters!
You’ve created a pretty cool blog, yay you! … and you now have written 3 foundational posts to get you started. Your posts are love! Another yay! Well done.
You want to do a few other things now to get you on the path to success.
- Plan your content
- Set up analytics
- Join communities
- Set up your socials
Plan your content
It’s always exciting when you start a new blog or anything new for that fact. Your first few blog posts will probably come easy to you and that’s great!
But, every single blogger hits a writer’s block every now and then. Make some time to plan things out a little in advance.
Create yourself a content calendar. Add in general topics and then break these down into smaller sub topics . Pop in events or holidays or special times of the year where you might be able to take advantage of a seasonal post.
For instance, if you’re a mom blogger you might want to schedule in Easter, Christmas and School holiday posts.
Give yourself plenty of ideas to get you started and remember to stay consistent.
Here’s a few numbers for you:
The magic number of posts per week is said to be 11. So posting 2-4 times a week is perfect.
Hubspot did a little research (go figure)… and they found that those bloggers who published more than 16 posts a month had 3.5x more traffic than those who published less than 4 x a month.
You can see the exponential increase once you hit 10 or so a month in this graph!
You want to get your blog up to 50 or so blog posts as fast as you can without compromising on quality. Hubspot’s research showed that those blogs with over 400 posts did twice as well than those with 301-400 posts… (dont stress! – yes, 400 is A LOT)… but you have to start somewhere.
Anecdotally, the number of posts on a blog to get Google to noticeably start paying attention is thought to be 55-70. So, start small. Aim for 10, then 20.
But, most of all…
- Stay consistent
- Create high quality content
- Celebrate all your wins!
This is a journey, not a destination folks.
Set up analytics
You can’t improve upon what you don’t know. Always know your stats.
Two things I recommend to set up:
1. Google Analytics
2. A monthly results table
Don’t let this scare you. Google Analytics allows you to see a couple things that are really important. Your traffic, who they are and where they came from.
Super important for you to know where you’re getting traffic from. The more you know, the better you can do.
Its really simple to set up. Watch this video to see how. Plus, he has a super cute accent!
Monthly results table
Ok so, you’ve got me. I am a massive nerd. Ha ha ha. I love processes and systems. And I always, always set myself up with a spreadsheet or two to track my goals and targets.
Results tables are simple – they are spreadsheets where you track your performance month on month (MOM). And can be really simple… or a bit more flash if you’re that way inclined.
Set up some monthly goals- make them realistic! And then at the beginning of each month record your progress. Don’t just stick to the big ticket things either, like traffic! Or you’ll get discouraged.
Goals can also be things like community building and social engagement. Make sure you set yourself up with a variety of targets. And make sure they are measurable and achievable. No point in putting you want 1 Million sessions per month… and month after month be disappointed!
- 100 sessions per month
- 100 new Facebook/ Instagram followers
- 100 Email subscribers
If you’re stuck- I created a really simple free template with some of the results basics on it here.
Note: Just MAKE SURE YOU COPY the doc and add it to YOUR drive FIRST before changing anything!
There’s a plethora of fabulous Blogging communities out there… Oh my gosh! So many amazing ones and one thing’s for sure. Bloggers are a certain breed. They are kind and generous and non competitive. They want to see you succeed!
Join a few communities like Facebook Groups… My Favourite Facebook groups for bloggers are:
Bloggers Collective – This is my new group! Come join us!
I also wrote a piece on how to use Facebook groups to grow your blog for you.
Get your social channels sorted so that you have somewhere to share your blog posts to. Don’t rely on your friends and family for readers! They are probably NOT your audience. So don’t be too sad when they don’t seem as enthusiastic as you are about your new found passion for blogging.
The 3 social channels that I recommend setting up in the beginning are:
- A Facebook Page
- An Instagram business account
- A Pinterest business account
Again, start slow and give yourself small goals. Be yourself and have fun!
Q. What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
A. Glad you asked… here’s a simple and easy to follow post to answer that for you What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
Q. What other tools or resources should I look into to help me as a beginner blogger?
A. Excellent question!… this outta help The best blogging tools to grow your blog
Q. SEO scares me! Help!
A. I know, I know! SEO can be scary. We’ve all been there. Don’t worry. Take a breath, grab a hot tea. We’ve got you covered with this basic guide for beginners SEO for bloggers – a beginners guide
Q. How to do I promote my blog post?
A. Sooo many different ways to do this! Don’t be daunted… pick a few and start small. Start with this handy post How to Promote your Blog post in 2020
Q. I’m confused! Help! I feel overwhelmed!
A.** hugs ** …. Relax… walk away and take a walk.. or do some yoga… then, head over to this post… we got together with a whole heap of experienced bloggers to help show you the ropes. We really are a very nice bunch of humans 99 tips for beginner bloggers
Starting a blog is exciting and terrifying all at once! What if I fail? What if no one reads my work? What if I get stuck? What if I suck?
But, hold tight. There’s so much info out there to help you. Remember how I said bloggers were the most kind and generous humans ever? Well, they are and I’m right. Join groups, ask questions. Have fun!
There’s a lot of information in this post, I know! Pin it, come back to it and write down a few notes.
Learning how to start a blog needn’t be overwhelming.
It’s an exciting ride to becoming a blogger. But remember one thing. Celebrate every single win along the road. Because there truly is no destination. Enjoy the process!