Are you looking to learn how to start a blog and make money in 2021, and make money with it? If that’s so, then this will act as a step-by-step guide to help you start your blog.
Starting a blog gives you the freedom to work from anywhere, be your own boss, and earn more than what a normal 9-5 job would pay you.
Check out accomplished bloggers such as Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus at Create and Go making more than $200,000 a month.
How about Tim Sykes who makes more than $1,000,000 a month or Melyssa Griffin who makes more than $300,000 a month?
That’s just how insanely successful blogging can make you. And it all starts somewhere, including choosing the right niche, creating quality content, and having a solid foundation for your blog.
Guide on How to Start a Blog
These are the steps you need to follow when starting a blog. This step-by-step guide has been simplified to make it easy for you to understand and follow along.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
A niche, simply put, is what your blog will be about. Note that a niche isn’t just a topic, but something more than that. It’s recommended to let your niche be something you love, are passionate about, or have interested in.
Let’s say you’re passionate about how to stay fit and healthy. Your blog can focus on fitness tips, tools to use to keep fit, and fitness products you recommend.
And if you love traveling you can as well be a travel blogger. Have your camera and take high-quality videos and photos and create content on a blog, such as travel tips, destination reviews, etc.
In other words, define what your blog will be about. If you don’t then you will find yourself writing about anything and everything. Becoming a jack of all trades and a master of everything won’t be easy.
Why Choosing a Niche is Important
Having a niche for your blog will help in many ways. First, it will enable you to stay focused on what’s important for your blog.
Secondly, it’s much easier to market a niche blog than a general blog, i.e. it’s easy to find readers who’re passionate about keeping fit than finding readers who’re passionate about ten different topics.
Thirdly, choosing a niche makes it easy to brand your blog. You will be able to establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
If you’re a lifestyle blogger you will be able to brand your blog with ease as a lifestyle blogger. You will also be able to attract potential clients within the lifestyle community such as fashion designers and modeling companies.
If your blog focuses on computer and software hacks you can establish yourself as an authority giving tips and hacks to solve computer and software-related issues.
That is to say, when someone is experiencing a software-related problem, they will browse through your blog looking for a solution.
Example: How to Fix “Windows was Unable to Complete the Format Error”
Why are they choosing your blog?
Because you have established yourself as a trusted authority in your niche and they believe they can find a solution to their problem on your blog.
Check out these two articles on blog niche ideas you can consider:
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
The next step is choosing a domain name for your blog. A domain name is an address a user enters when they want to visit a given site. Example: google.com, alexa.com, facebook.com, twitter.com. It’s an online address that leads readers to your blog.
It’s recommended to choose a top-level domain (TLD) when picking a domain name. Top Level Domains (TLD) have extensions such as .com, .net, .org, .info, etc.
Alternatively you can choose country code top-level domain extension such as .co.uk, co.za, .co.pk, etc. This second option is good if your blog is going to target a specific country.
Three important things to keep in mind when picking a domain name include:
- It should be easy to pronounce/read – e.g. smartincomecafe.com
- It should be easy to write (avoid intentional misspellings, unless necessary)
- Should also be consumer/advertiser-friendly (avoid obscene words)
In case you struggle to come up with a domain name, you can use this simple tool by Bluehost to check if the domain you’re thinking about is available.
Step 3: Choose a Hosting Company
Choosing the right web hosting company when starting your blog is one of the most critical decisions you’ll ever make. Some companies make false promises they can’t fulfill. Some of them promise to provide:
- 24/7 support
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Money-back guarantee
- 99% up-time (meaning your blog will always be live)
But reality will strike when you choose the wrong web hosting company and your blog goes down. You’ll need to open a ticket and wait for several hours yet they said they offer 24/7 support.
Some will tell you to upgrade to a higher web hosting package that can accommodate more visitors. This means you’ll have to spend extra money on expenses you never budgeted for.
That’s why I would recommend choosing reputable companies such as WPX Hosting, Kinsta, Bluehost, and WP Engine among others.
With Bluehost, you get a free domain of your own choosing once you purchase a hosting plan which starts as cheap as $3.95/month.
Bluehost is ideal when you’re starting out and your blog does not have lots of visitors. And when you start to get more visitors over time, you can smoothly move to a higher package with the likes of WPX Hosting or Kinsta, which are two of the best companies I currently use.
In fact, this website, Smart Income Cafe is hosted by WPX Hosting. They have one of the fastest servers to ensure our blog’s speed is top-notch. Here’s a screenshot of my WPX Hosting account;
As you can see, I pay only $24.99 per month for my hosting with WPX Hosting. You can host up to 5 websites with the Business Plan package for just $24.99 a month.
You can have a look at WPX Hosting packages and see if one might be ideal for your business.
Step 4: Install WordPress
WordPress is the most used blogging platform, with more than 445 million websites across the globe using it. WordPress is so popular with bloggers and website owners for the following reasons:
- Simple and quick installation (doesn’t need special skills at all).
- Easy to edit and customize your site the way you want it.
- Plugins make it easy for bloggers without coding skills
- Many themes you can customize to your liking
- Most web hosting companies offer one-click and automated WordPress installation
Those are just a few of the benefits of choosing WordPress over any other blogging platform. With little coding skills, you can still become a pro blogger while using WordPress.
This simple pie chart shows the percentage of websites currently using WordPress, and it pretty impressive.
How to Install WordPress (Let’s Use Bluehost to Explain)
After paying for your hosting and getting a domain with Bluehost, go to your cPanel from where you’ll install WordPress. If your blog is mywebsite.com, just type this to your URL bar: mywebsite.com/cpanel and you will be required to enter your username and password.
You can get your cPanel details in the email you used to sign up when paying for hosting and domain. Enter the details and click the login button. You will be logged in to your blog’s cPanel dashboard.
Once logged in you will see a group of software under the title “Website” and among them is an option to “Install WordPress”.
Click on the option “Install WordPress”. Then click “Continue Installation” and a new page will load where you select a domain name on which you want to install WordPress plus other details.
Choose the domain to install WordPress and leave the Directory option blank then click next. Follow through by filling in the necessary Admin Information. This includes the name of your blog followed by Admin Username (just like you have a Twitter name and username).
Username is the name you’ll use to login to your blog’s dashboard after installing WordPress, along with your password. Also, make sure to include your email just in case you forget your password. You’ll use it to reset your dashboard password.
Agree to the Terms of Service along with the other options available on the same page then click next. This will initiate WordPress installation which doesn’t take much time.
After the installation is complete, click the login button or alternatively use this: mywebsite.com/wp-admin which will take you to the login page. Enter the username and password you set during WordPress installation.
This will log you in to your blog’s backend or dashboard. You’ll find a theme already installed, but you can choose to install a different theme and customize it to make it look professional.
Step 5: Install a Theme and Customize Your Blog
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, move to the next step by installing your preferred theme, and customizing it.
As easily put by WPBeginner, a theme is a collection of templates and style sheets used to define the appearance and display of a site powered by WordPress.
The theme can be changed or customized to make the front end of a blog look user friendly. To access themes or install a new one just log in to your WordPress admin or dashboard and under “Appearance” click “Themes”.
Choose the one you prefer and click install. After the installation is complete, click on “Appearance” then “Customize” to make edits to your theme. I recommend using YouTube tutorials to learn how to customize a WordPress theme.
What to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme
A few things you should consider when choosing a WordPress theme include:
- The theme should be light
- The theme should be easy to customize
- It should be responsive
- It should be SEO friendly
Choosing a light theme is beneficial in many ways. First, your blog will load faster hence reducing the bounce rate (as earlier highlighted in this guide).
With high loading speed comes an added advantage on Google rankings. Your site will have a low bounce rate, sending signals to Google that users like it and it’s user friendly.
Choosing a theme that is easily customizable is an added advantage especially when you have no professional coding skills. With simple edits and widgets, your blog will easily look awesome.
Another factor is responsiveness. I guess you have at one point browsed through a site on your smartphone where some content or half of the page isn’t visible. This forces you to keep sliding the screen content left and right to continue reading.
That’s because the site isn’t mobile-friendly. Because the theme used isn’t responsive. Anyone using a laptop or computer can read it well but with a smartphone, it’s a different story altogether.
Lastly, a theme being SEO friendly will make your SEO tasks less demanding. Check to see if the theme is SEO friendly before you install. How do you do so?
Go to the website of the theme creators and search for the theme. Once you find it go through its features and check if they have said it’s SEO friendly.
I recommend going for premium WordPress themes. Premium themes have more features compared to free themes. Your blog will look better when using a premium theme compared to a free theme.
Some of the best themes are designed by Theme Forest, Elegant Themes, Thrive Themes, and StudioPress.
Step 6: Create Essential Pages
Some people might assume that this isn’t important. But creating essential pages for your blog is key. The essential pages include:
- About Us
- Contact Us
To create a new page, login to your blog’s dashboard and click “Pages” then click “Add New”.
However, some types of blogs do not need all these pages. For instance, a news blog doesn’t need a portfolio page but a personal blog might find it to be one of the most important.
A photography blog needs all these pages, with the Portfolio page showcasing all the work the owner of the blog has ever done.
Contact Us page allows your readers to get in touch with you, preferably through email or an alternative of your choice.
About Us defines what your blog is all about while the services page outlines the services your blog offers. News blogs and some other blogs do not need a Services page because they do not offer any service.
In a nutshell, the nature of your blog will dictate which of these pages are necessary.
Step 7: Create Categories
By now I believe you know what your blog will focus on. This will guide you in choosing categories and sub-categories (if necessary).
Let’s say your blog’s niche is health and wellness. Some of the categories can be weight loss, fitness, home remedies, etc.
Sub-categories are based on the categories, and examples can be weight loss for men, weight loss for women, pregnancy fitness, etc.
Ensure your categories do not have overlapping content, i.e. pregnancy fitness content should not be filed under the weight loss for women category. One content, one category.
To create categories, hover your mouse on Posts and at the bottom of the drop-down list, you’ll see Categories. Click on it and create them. You will also be required to choose a slug for each category.
For category weight loss, its slug will be weight-loss, and for category weight loss for women, it is weight-loss-for-women.
Step 8: Write Your First Post
I believe we have pretty much covered this in our previous step. Nonetheless, take your time to write a great post based on your keyword. Add a few related searches through your entire posts.
Ensure you do not overuse the keyword because your post will be flagged by Google as spam, i.e. using a target keyword too much to fool Google into believing it’s valuable and should be ranked higher.
Use images and alt tags in your post too. Make sure your post’s URL is very simple, short, and friendly. Example:
This kind of URL makes it easier for Google to identify your focus Keyword. If you’re a beginner then I would advise you to install the Yoast SEO plugin to help you optimize your posts. (I personally use SEO Framework on all my blogs, but Yoast SEO is best for beginners).
The plugin allows you to choose a focus keyword, analyzes your post to check if you have used the same keyword in your URL, Title, Sub-titles, first paragraph, etc. It also shows you the changes you need to make to increases your ranking chances.
Honestly, it’s one of the top 3 content optimization plugins at the moment. Do not write blindly, but instead allow Yoast SEO to guide you.
Step 9: Promote Your Blog
The last step should be sharing your post so that readers can know about your blog. You can share on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, or even Twitter. These aren’t the only social sharing platforms though.
You can also sign up for top blogging communities where you can promote your blog. Such platforms will help you to grow your blog.
Now that you have all the knowledge you need to start a blog, do you think there’s something I can help you with or an important point I might have left out?
Which step do you think is most technical for you and how can I help?
Leave a comment below as I always respond to all the comments. Speak your mind, and let me help you grow your blog to become your full-time online venture.