You’ve probably heard this happily-ever-after story before. Someone started a blog. Quit the dreaded 9-to-5 job, and banks millions a year while traveling around the world. It could be the best life ever, but it almost sounds too good to be true, right?
You may have done serious research about this blogging thing already. You want to know the secrets these million-dollar bloggers are keeping. Nope, not every blogger out there is an internet genius. Did they just happen to hit the internet lottery? Why can’t you be like that? Maybe you can give it a shot too!
You definitely can. The truth is anyone can start a blog. The secret to success, however, is all about having the right tools and strategies. You too can build a sustainable blogging business when you understand how it works.
The Beginner’s Guide on How to Start a Blog
This is not another bull poopoo sales pitch. We will show you exactly what you need to build a solid foundation.
You don’t necessarily need to have a technical background to start a blog. However, you should know the key steps to set up and run a blog efficiently.
Follow our 8-step instruction to build a blog from scratch. It goes beyond the basic domain and hosting purchases. We will talk about how to add security, increase webpage loading speed and improve performance of your blog so you can really start making money. Here is a quick summary, and we will talk about each point in detail.
How to Start a Blog in 8 Steps
- Follow your passion
- Get a domain name
- Pick a content management system
- Find a hosting provider
- Design your blog
- Speed up your blog
- Protect your visitors
- Improve blog performance
Step #1: Follow Your Passion
Share what you love is the magic potion to a successful blog. The passion that comes through in your writing makes it interesting and unique. This is probably the most important factor to fuel your blog for the long term success.
Don’t think about what makes money for the moment. Don’t think about what is a popular topic and what everyone else is doing. If you don’t live, love, and breathe what you blog about, then don’t do it. Because eventually, you will feel like it is an obligation. Soon enough your audience can sniff out your boredom and carelessness towards it too.
Being a motivated writer driven by passion is the best asset you can have for your blog. Once you have an idea of what to blog about. There are a few extra credit criteria to consider and make it even better.
4 Criteria of Successful Blog Content
1. Focus Content on User Experience
In other words, blog with your audience in mind. Readability, user engagement, and quality of content are your top priorities.
2. Create Memorable Content
Be uniquely different from everyone else who’s writing about the same topic as you are. Emphasis on the aspect that makes you stand out, and be impressionable to your audience.
3. Create Authoritative, Expert, and Trustworthy Content
This means taking the responsibility to verify and back up facts and figures you present in a blog. Having accurate and authoritative content helps your blog to gain audience trust.
4. Make Content Sharable on Social Media
It is a great way to quickly spread the word about your blog. Install social media tools to make your blog posts one-click sharable onto social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Learn more about the best strategies to create winning content.
Step #2: Get a Domain Name
So now you know exactly what your blog will be about. You even have the perfect design in mind and a fully coordinated color palette to go with it. Wait, what are you going to call it?
Naming a blog is no small task. It actually can impact the success of online marketing effort. The blog name is the first impression visitors encounter when they find it through search. It should represent what you are blogging about and should embody the personality of your content.
A great name is not only impressionable, but it also boosts blog performance and improves user experience. Having a relevant domain name helps visitors to better identify and relate the blog with the content you are promoting.
You can research domain names through any domain and hosting providers such as SiteGround and HostGator. Start by typing in a name and find out if it is available. For more help, refer to our step-by-step guide on how to get a domain name.
3 Tips on How to Come Up with a Blog Name
Tip #1: Go by the Books
Use a domain name that represents exactly what you are writing about. For example, if you are writing a food blog, you can name it “Cooking with ___”
Tip #2: Think Outside the Box
Be creative with the name, but still remind visitors of what your blog is about. Going back to the cooking blog, a name like “Delicious Eats” for instance, reminds people this blog is about food.
Tip #3: Keep Your Options Open
Have a few backup names available just in case someone else already snatched your brilliant idea. Don’t forget, you can also change up the domain extensions from the commonly seen “.com” or “.net,” to cool ones like “.club, .space, .pro”. Check with any domain and hosting providers for availability.
Step #3: Pick a Content Management System
CMS or Content Management System is an application platform that creates and manages content such as blogs. Through the administrative back end of a CMS, users can add or edit content, create new pages, and add navigation categories. A CMS empowers you to manage and make a change to text or switch out an image without the help of a web developer.
The three most popular and dominating CMS in the triple w world are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Each system offers different levels of customization and varies in difficulties of usability.
Honestly, for Beginners just Pick WordPress for Simplicity
- WordPress is the most popular Open Source CMS. It is free to download, and powers more than half of the websites out there using a CMS.
- WordPress is easy and straightforward. Basically, you create a navigation, create pages and fill it with content which will show up on your blog.
- There is a large community of contributors who develop plugins for WordPress. Today there are 45,000 plugins and counting. Most of them are free!
- Comparing to Joomla and Drupal, it is the easiest to use and great for beginners. On the other hand, it has more limitations on customization than Joomla and Drupal.
- Beware of the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. When you Google ‘Wordpress’ the first organic listing is wordpress.com and the 2nd is wordpress.org.
- WordPress.com is a hosting service provider.
- WordPress.org is the free CMS to build blogs.
Step #4: Find a Hosting Provider
Next, you need a web hosting service to place your blog content and website. Hosting service makes your blog accessible to visitors on the internet. Think of it as a space for the stuff you are going to put on the blog so people can see it.
What kind of hosting service and plans you choose impacts your blog’s performance. You should pick the right hosting service based on your current needs while thinking about the growth of your blog for the future.
4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Web Hosting Service
1. Interface User-friendliness
What kind of control panel does this hosting provider use? Is it a well-known control panel like cPanel that is easy to learn and use? Make sure it is something universal and provides ample support.
2. Overall Cost of the Hosting Service
When you are just starting up, make sure to compare prices of hosting services and find one within your budget. Most hosting providers offer several tiers of plans suitable for websites at different stages.
3. Available Features and Growth Potentials
It is important to look into the full spectrum of services that the hosting provider offers. At different development phases, your service needs may change. Look into add-on features such as data backup service, free CDN offers, and SSL security support. (We will talk about CDN and SSL later)
4. Amount of Technical Support
What happens when your blog goes down? Is there someone you can talk to 24/7 for any technical support questions? Many reliable hosting services out there offers around-the-clock support. It is especially important when you are just starting your blog and need a little more hand-holding when it comes to technical issues.
Why Do We Recommend SiteGround Hosting Service
There are many great hosting services out there. They all come with enticing low cost, 24/7 customer support, and sophisticated packages of software solutions. We have had experience with several hosting services out there. While they are all great in different ways, the hosting service we are currently using and would definitely recommend is SiteGround.
SiteGround is the recommended hosting provider of WordPress and the official partner hosting for Joomla. It is designed and built specifically for these two popular CMS with usability, speed, and security in mind. In addition, Siteground provides 1-click easy installation for both WordPress and Joomla.
The sign-up process is simple. Follow our step-by-step guide to signing up with SiteGround. Since it is a managed hosting service, if you are ever stuck at any step, you can always submit a ticket to Support. They usually get back to you fairly quick no matter what time of the day or night it is. From our personal experience, the longest time we have waited was under 15 minutes, and that was a ticket submitted at 1 AM in the morning.
Step #5: Design Your Blog Your Blog for User Experience
Now you are going to do the fun part. Design the blog. If you are not a web designer experienced with Photoshop where you can draft your own designs from scratch, picking a pre-made template is the best way to go. It is definitely a good option if you are just getting started. It can save you time and money because it is way cheaper than a custom designed layout, and it is usually quick and easy to install.
There are hundreds of thousands of design templates available online. You can pick a template for your selected CMS through template providers such as TemplateMonster.
If you are really serious about turning your blog into a business. You may consider hiring a web developer or designer down the line to really boost blog performance. Freelancer marketplaces like 99designs are great platforms to scout talents at a reasonable price to improve your blog.
It is free to make an account on 99designs. You can create a job, list your criteria, and set a pay rate. You will receive applications from candidates. You have the ability to review each applicant’s experience, past works, and client reviews before hiring someone. You can also search for a freelancer that matches your criteria within the platform. Both websites are backed by secure payment protections and 24/7 customer support.
Step #6: Speed Up Your Blog
Think about the time when you’ve stumbled upon a website that takes forever to load. After looking at the spinning wheel for 20 seconds, you finally see a title and half an image. Most of us would just close the browser at this point. No one wants to wait for a slow website. In addition, page speed is part of Google’s SEO ranking algorithm, and it ultimately affects how much organic traffic you will receive to your blog.
A slow website also equals to a bad user experience. That is a big roadblock to success. When there is a high bounce rate (people leaving the website without taking action), your blog receives less quality traffic, and it directly impacts its ability to make money. So you should address the problem asap.
Believe it or not, it is most likely problems on your end, causing the blog to run at turtle speed. Don’t worry, most of them can be fixed quickly. First, check your blog with Google PageSpeed Insights for free, and see which pages or page elements are slowing you down. Next, here are a few solutions to help you make improvements. Learn more about how to improve webpage loading speed.
3 Solutions to Speed Up Your Blog Now
1. Minify .CSS, .HTML and .JS Files
2. Reduce Image Size
Take another look at your image file sizes. They are usually one of the biggest bandwidth eaters. The rule of thumb for ideal image size is to reduce it as much as possible without compromising too much quality (image looking pixelated or grainy). Photoshop does a wonderful job reducing images with the “Save for Web” feature. You can also quickly reduce image sizes by using an image compressor such as ImageRecycle which shrinks the file size up to 74%.
Adobe Creative Suite
3. Add CDN
CDN or Content Delivery Network are servers located in different geographic locations to store copies of your website and make these cached copies are available to local visitors. The purpose of it is to increase website loading speed and reduce crash rate caused by server overload. There are many great CDN providers out there such as Cloudflare (free through SiteGround) and MaxCDN. Both come with a low starting cost and are easy to setup.
Step #7: Protect Your Visitors
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is the global standard security encryption that safeguards data transmitted between a web server and a browser. When a website has an SSL certificate, it ensures users that this website is not a fake. It also protects visitor privacy by encrypting information exchanged between the web server and the visitors.
You can tell if a website has an SSL or not by looking at its URL. When a website’s domain address begins with https:// instead of http://, you know this website is secured by an SSL certificate. Learn more about HTTP vs. HTTPs.
Why do your blog needs an SSL certificate? Because Google evaluates it as an important SEO ranking factor. With the added layer of security, your blog can potentially receive higher ranking in organic search results, and gives your marketing effort a boost.
You can purchase an SSL certificate through most domains and hosting providers such as SiteGround, HostGator, and GoDaddy. SiteGround offers free SSL certificate through its hosting package. You can install this free SSL through the cPanel of your SiteGround hosting account.
Step #8: Improve Blog Performance
So now you have gotten the tedious and technical part squared away. Let’s talk about what you can do to make your blog perform better so more people can find it.
The first step to monetizing from a blog is to get more traffic. Basically the more engaging audience you have, the more quality traffic you can bring to your blog. This spells out more earning potentials for you.
- SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the natural way of acquiring search traffic. It makes your content discoverable through search engines and helps your blog to gain authority while attaining long-term traffic goals.
- SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the paid way of getting visitors. It has the ability to bring targeted and instant traffic to your blog for short-term wins.
- Social Media Marketing is another important online marketing strategy to engage visitors and market your blog content. It is an effective brand marketing method and it simultaneously strengthens SEO and SEM efforts.
Individually, each of these three online marketing components is irreplaceable. Together, they compliment one another and create the perfect approach to improving your blog performance over time.
Discover the Million-Dollar Way to Blogging
Perfect! You are working hard to get your blog out there and you are receiving great feedback and good amount of traffic. Next, comes the burning question every blog starter asks: “How do I make money from my blog?” Learn more through our guide on how to make money blogging.