I get asked all the time from family, friends, and my readers the same question:
How Do I Start a Blog?
To some, it seems like rocket science, and others think that you just throw up a free blog and you’re off and running. The truth is, the answer is somewhere in between.
While it’s not rocket science, there are some technical aspects that could leave you so frustrated that you will wonder why on earth you even started it to begin with.
I have been blogging for over 15 years, and believe me, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. No, it was a lot of research, money spent on learning, and for several years I felt like throwing in the towel. I mean, what’s the point in starting a blog if you can’t get anyone to read it?
This brings me to the topic of traffic. Without traffic, you may as well be writing your blog posts on a napkin. At least someone will see it, right?
So, let’s get started with the timeline of events that you need to follow in order to make your voice heard.
Decide on a Niche
Considering that this is the first step in starting a blog, it is extremely important that you get this right, and unfortunately, it is where most people go wrong.
The best approach to blogging is to focus on one topic that you are passionate about. Believe me, if you are not passionate about your topic, your blog will suffer, and eventually you will give up. Words of wisdom from someone who’s been there.
Many people who start a blog focus on how much money they can make first, and then they decide on a niche from there. This is absolutely backwards. If you are only writing blog posts to make money, your readers will know it, and they will not trust anything that you have to say.
On the other hand, if you are blogging about topics that you are truly passionate about, you can write about them without worrying about how you are going to make money from your blog (more about this later).
So, How Do I Decide on a Niche For My Blog?
Make a list of things that you are passionate about enough that you could see yourself wanting to write about it, and more importantly, have enough to write about. Example: if you want to start a blog about how to clean your kitchen, I would not recommend putting kitchen in the domain name. Why? Because I can almost guarantee that down the road, you will want to talk about how to clean your bathroom, or how to clean the gutters. Always plan ahead, and go generic if you are unsure about what the plan for your blog will be.
Here is a list to help you brainstorm:
- Stay at Home Mom (be careful here, you are in a niche with tough Mommy bloggers)
- Cleaning Tips
- DIY Topics
- Christmas Decorations
- Party Favors
- Restoring Furniture
- Fixing Things
- Lifestyle Blog
- Beauty Blog (also a very competitive niche)
- Outdoor Sports (not the entire topic, pick just one, and niche it down)
- Home Renovations
- MMA Fighting
- Health (not recommended for beginners)
This list is just to help you expand your thinking. Try to think outside of the box. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing, but do your research, and learn what a popular topic is that you know you could create content for.
Pick a Name For Your Blog
This area is not as important as the niche, but it should represent what your blog is about with stuffing all of the keywords in the domain name. Just trust me on that, it worked 10 years ago, but Google got smart.
I’m not saying that you cannot have a word in the domain name, just don’t overdo it. Let’s use the sports niche, and let’s assume that you are writing about golf. Maybe do something like, hotgolftips.com. (Hint, this domain name is available as of the time of this post).
Keep in mind that once you establish your domain name, it cannot be changed without moving your blog which is a topic for another time, and is not recommended once you get up and running.
When I started Be Electrifying, I hadn’t intended for it to turn into more of a beauty blog than a lifestyle blog, so in hindsight, I am glad that I chose a domain name without any keywords. I wanted a blog that I could brand as my own across social media sites, and it has worked out well for me.
Just be mindful as to what your blog plan is before deciding on a name for it.
Once you have a name, it’s time to buy your domain name.
Register Your Domain Name
There are 2 expenses to get a blog up and running, and registering your domain name is one of them.
What is a domain name?
Look at the website address of this blog, and you will see www.beelectrifying.com. That is the domain name for this blog.
Go to Godaddy or any other popular registrar, enter your domain name in the search bar, and make sure that it is available. This can get very frustrating, so don’t get your heart set on a name without checking to see if it’s available.
I recommend going to Godaddy.com when you are brainstorming, and as you come up with blog names, check to see if they are available. Keep a list of your favorites written down or you will forget.
Once you find an available domain name, sign up for a Godaddy account and register the name. It is an annual fee unless you register for more than 1 year right off the bat. If it’s your first blog, stick with a year. They are pretty cheap, and are right around $12 per year depending on the name you choose and it’s extension.
Let’s talk about that part for a second:
Register a .com
Let me say that again, register a .com.
One more time, get a .com!
Ok, now that I’ve cleared up any confusion on whether or not you need a .com, we can move on.
What is Privacy Protection?
I also recommend getting the privacy protection. This keeps your personal information private, and is worth the money. Just do it, ok?
If you use Namecheap.com, they offer free privacy protection when you first register a domain name.
Choose a Hosting Provider For Your Blog
There is a lot of confusion about domain registrars and hosting providers. Let’s assume you register your domain name with GoDaddy. This does not mean that you have to host your site with GoDaddy. In fact, I don’t recommend GoDaddy for hosting.
I recommend Siteground, as they have all of the features that we need to start a blog, and they have great customer service.
Once you have your host selected, you will need to change the Nameservers in your Godaddy account to match the nameservers provided to you by Siteground. Once you have done this, it’s time to install WordPress. You can do this by going into cpanel, where you will find the option to install WordPress.
You’re almost there. Now for the fun part.
Choose a Theme For Your Blog
There are thousands of free WordPress themes available, so once you are logged into your WordPress dashboard, you can browse through all of the free theme options, or you can simply use the themes already installed.
Don’t get too hung up on this part at the beginning. Your focus should be creating the blog and getting traffic to it. Right now, you are the only person looking at it, so don’t spend too much time on appearance until it starts to grow.
Begin Adding Content to Your Blog
It’s finally time to create your first blog post! Use the login information provided to you when you installed WordPress. Once logged in, navigate to the “Posts” section. Create Add New, give your post a catchy title and some content. Once you are satisfied with your post, click Publish!
How Often Should I Blog?
This is one of the most important topics if you are serious about creating a popular blog, particularly if you want to earn money from it.
If I could go back in time, I would have written a post every every day for at least 6 months or until I got writer’s block. And no, it’s not easy. It is a commitment, but one that you will thank yourself for later.
Tips For Choosing Blog Post Topics
- Don’t underestimate the power of paper and pen. Keep a notepad with you at all times (yes, even when you go to bed). You will begin to realize that you have more to write about than you know. Thoughts will begin to pop up in your head, and if you don’t write them down, you will forget!
- Keep a spreadsheet or some other form for organizing your topic ideas. This way, when you sit down to write, you have something to write about.
- Keep your posts organized, and use different header sizes to break up the content. I also recommend using images in your content that relate to what you’re writing about.
- Take pictures often. Use your phone’s camera, and take pictures. When all else fails, you can write something around the picture. Maybe where you were at the time, or if something funny happened, you could write about that. Maybe it’s your son’s first baseball game, and you happened to get a picture of him staring at the sky as the ball is being thrown to him while covering 2nd base. This is the type of thing that makes blogging fun.
- Research other blogs in your niche. Find out what they are writing about, and simply do the same thing. You NEVER want to copy someone else’s content, but you can certainly copy their ideas.
- Use Google! Start with your blog topic. Search Google, and use the recommended search results, as well as the results that show up at the bottom of most searches. As you move through the keywords, copy and paste them into a notepad document, and before you know it, you will have a ton of ideas for writing content.