If you need a guide on how to start a blog, you are reading the right article. Blogging is a rewarding way to polish your writing skills, share your ideas and connect with people with similar interests.
We will show you everything you need to create a successful blog, such as how to write your first blog post, the best blogging platforms, web hosting providers, monetization (money blogging), and how to promote your blog.
- A domain name is an excellent way to establish your blogging brand and increase its visibility among your target audience
- Categories and tags help organize your web content and allow readers to find specific topics
- SEO is the best source of unpaid web traffic
- Solid engagement, especially in the early stages of starting a blog, can accelerate your growth and create a loyal readership base
- If you want readers to return and refer other readers to your blog, you must consistently provide valuable and engaging content
Step 1: Pick a Good Blogging Platform
When you want to start a blog, the first step is to choose a good blogging platform. A blogging platform is called a Content Management System (CMS) because it helps you create, format, and publish your content. There are hundreds of different blogging platforms, and most offer free and paid plans. Consider your goals, budget, and technical knowledge when choosing a blogging platform.
Here are some blogging platforms for beginners who want to start a blog.
1. WordPress.org – Best for Customisation
WordPress is a free-to-use blogging platform that allows anyone to start a successful blog. It is by far the most popular blogging platform in the world. According to Colorlib, WordPress has a 64.2% share of the CMS market. It is popular because it is free and allows complete control and customization.
You can begin using the WordPress CMS to start a blog for free by opening an account on WordPress.com. Alternatively, you can download the CMS at WordPress.org and use it on a self-hosted WordPress blog. Note that there is a big difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the CMS, while WordPress.com is an all-in-one platform that includes the WordPress CMS, web hosting, and other features.
- Thousands of free and paid plugins to increase your site functionality
- Thousands of free and premium WordPress themes
- Complete customization and control
- The Gutenberg block editor
- Massive community and support
- User-friendly WordPress dashboard
The WordPress CMS is free.
Pros and Cons of Using WordPress
- Huge community support
- You have complete control of your self-hosted WordPress blog
- Thousands of customization options
- You are responsible for managing and securing your website
2. Blogger – Best for Simplicity
If you want to start a blog where you can share your stories or advocate for a cause, then Blogger will do just fine. It is one of Google’s offerings, so if you have a Google account, you can start a blog with Blogger.
Blogger offers you a free subdomain, hosting, and storage and optimizes your website for speed. You can also purchase a custom domain through one of the best domain registrars. Drawbacks include limited customization options and no e-commerce options. However, you can monetize your Blogger page using Google Adsense.
Here are some of the features you get by using Blogger:
- AdSense integration
- Simple text editor
- Free SSL certificate, hosting, and domain mapping
- Google integrations
- Image storage with Google Photos
You can start a blog with Blogger for free.
Pros and Cons of Using Blogger
- Free SSL certificate and web hosting
- Beginner-friendly interface
- Unlimited storage
- Limited customization
3. Medium — Best for Built-in Audience
Medium has a lot of flaws, but it is great at one thing: providing access to readers with minimal effort. It also handles everything relating to blog design, maintenance, and hosting. All you need to do is start a blog, write, and publish. You can earn money if you get a ton of readership to your blog.
The biggest downside is that Medium offers virtually no customization and limited control. Also, most writers on Medium find it hard to make a decent income from their blogs. But if you only care about publishing your stories and ideas, Medium will do just fine.
Here are some features of Medium:
- Simple design and layout
- Massive built-in audience
- Premonetized structure
- Extremely high domain authority
Medium is free.
Pros and Cons of Using Medium
- Easy to use
- It allows you to connect easily with people with similar interests
- Instant blog monetization
- You have no control over your SEO, branding, and audience
4. Squarespace — Best for Visual Content
Squarespace is an all-in-one platform that is famous for its beautiful website templates. It is perfect for bloggers who want to start a blog on visual-based niches such as artwork, photography, or graphics designs. Even beginners without website design skills can create beautiful, professional-looking blogs. Squarespace also handles website maintenance and updates on your behalf.
The downside to using Squarespace is that it is not free. However, the monthly fee you pay to start a blog is much less than you would pay a professional to design and maintain your blog. It also offers a lot of customization features.
Here are some of the features Squarespace offers:
- Free blogging templates
- In-depth analytics
- Built-in post scheduler
- Marketing tools
- Excellent customer support
- Categories, tags, and featured posts
- SEO and social media tools
Squarespace plans range from $16 to $49/month if you pay yearly and $23 to $65/month if you pay monthly.
Pros and Cons of Using Squarespace
- Over 140 sophisticated and highly customizable themes
- Impressive customer support
- Content creation tools
- It is not free
5. Wix — Best for Beginners and Non-Techie Bloggers
If you want to start a blog using a simple-to-use blogging platform with customization options, go with Wix. The platform is excellent for anyone looking to create a beautiful blog without prior web design knowledge. It provides an intuitive drag-and-drop editor to design your site. Alternatively, you can use Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) to generate a website automatically.
The biggest drawback is that if you use the free plan to start a blog, you have to accept that Wix will show advertisements on your blog for as long as it exists.
The only way around it is to use another platform or a paid plan. In addition, while Wix is very easy to use, it offers limited control compared to WordPress. See more differences in our Wix vs WordPress comparison.
- SEO and social media tools
- Visitor analytics
- Post scheduling
- Easy image editing
- Embed HTML codes
- Categories and hashtags
- Advanced search capabilities
Wix offers a free plan and paid plans. The paid plans start at $4.50 per month and go up to $35 monthly.
Pros and Cons of Using Wix
- It allows you to create instant websites
- Easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface
- Built-in SEO
- Limited customization
Step 2: Select a Domain Name and Hosting Provider
Once you have selected a blogging platform to start a blog, the next step is to choose a domain name and a hosting provider. A domain name is your site address on the internet. The domain name comes after “www” and typically ends with the “.com” extension. Other extensions include “.org”, “.net”, “.co”, and “.us.”
Some blogging platforms offer domain names and web hosting. You can use their domain name and web hosting services or choose from any of the best web hosting providers. Others require you to pay for a different hosting platform. A domain name is vital if you want to start a blog for several reasons.
Branding is one reason to get a custom domain name from a reputable domain hosting provider. A domain name is an excellent way to establish your business brand and make it a successful blog. It also makes it easier for visitors to join your website and come back to it when they need your products or information on your website.
Whether you want to start a blog as a part-time venture or a full-time vocation, many people will ignore your blog if you have a custom domain name. In fact, having a custom domain name is the first step to becoming a credible blogger and building a successful blog. So if you want people to take you seriously, invest in a custom domain that points directly to you.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A custom domain name has many direct and indirect SEO benefits. The direct benefit is that it can help you rank for keywords. Unsurprisingly, many hosting providers use words related to hosting in their domain names. The same thing applies to review websites.
Furthermore, people will be more willing to share and backlink your website content if you have a professional-looking domain name. The more shares and backlinks you have, the more your SEO improves. Lastly, when you use a custom domain name, you tell search engine bots that your blog differs from the platform that provides the free subdomain.
In this age of spamming and phishing, most people won’t open emails from companies that don’t have professional email addresses. It doesn’t matter if you communicate with potential recruits, send updates to your customer base, or leverage email marketing; having a professional email address is compulsory.
Your email address will be created using your domain name. So if your domain name is www.samplewebsite.com, your email address will be firstname.lastname@example.org. This shows the recipient that the email is an official communication from your website, not a third party. You can also create brand emails for different purposes, such as email@example.com for customer support.
Step 3: Set Up Your Blog
Before you start a blog and begin creating and publishing content on your blog, there are some features you need to implement. These features will improve the functionality of your blog, make it easy for visitors to access your content, secure your data and keep it optimized for search engines. Here are the most important settings to apply.
“Permalink” is short for permanent link. It is a URL that directs users to a specific page or post on your blog. It is supposed to remain unchanged; hence it is called a permanent link. When setting your permalinks, you want to ensure they are short, memorable, and relate directly to the page/content they point to.
Choose a good permalink structure before you make your first blog post. There are six types of permalinks to choose from when you start a blog. You can access them from the WordPress dashboard.
- Plain: This permalink displays the page’s designed ID and is not recommended. E.g., samplewebsite.com/?p=134
- Day and Name: This permalink structure includes the post or page’s name and the day of its publication in the URL. The downside is that readers might ignore old posts thinking it is no longer relevant even if it is still a great source of information on their subject matter. As such, it is not recommended. E.g., www.samplewebsite.com/2023/01/30/sample-post/
- Month and Name: This link structure shows only the month and day. But it still has the identical downside as the one we just covered, so it is not recommended. E.g., www.samplewebsite.com/2023/01/sample-post/
- Post Name: This permalink structure uses your post name or page to create a clean and memorable URL, such as https://hostadvice.com/web-hosting/. We recommend it to all bloggers.
- Custom Structure: You can also create a custom structure so the URL can show the category you published the post. E.g., https://hostadvice.com/web-hosting/beginners/
2. Categories And Tags
Categories and tags help organize your web content and allow readers to find specific topics. You can access them from the WordPress dashboard.
- Categories: These are broad topics you use to structure your blog content. Each category contains a selection of content that revolves around a common theme/topic. You can have a blog article that fits into two or more categories. You can also create subcategories under main categories. Those subcategories can also have subcategories.
- Tags: These help readers find information on your blog, but only tell readers the content is relevant in a particular blog niche. For instance, an article on web hosting for beginners will be under the “web hosting” category. However, it can have different tags such as “web hosting”, “beginners”, “web hosting providers”, “beginner friendly”, and so on. When someone searches your blog content for “beginners” using the search functionality, they will find all your posts tagged “beginners.”
Blogging is a two-way street. On the one hand, you are speaking to your audience via your posts. When you start a blog, you must create an avenue for your readers to respond to your content.
You can do this by adding the comment functionality to your blog. Visitors can directly respond to each post by typing their feedback in the comments. Native and third-party are the two types of commenting systems.
- Native commenting system: This is the commenting system that comes with your CMS. If you use a WordPress theme, the commenting system by default is the WordPress commenting system. It is usually free to use and can be configured in many ways.
- Third-party commenting system: These systems often have free and paid versions, with the paid versions offering increased functionality and cross-platform integrations. However, we recommend you use a native commenting system when you start a blog.
Website security is a big issue that you should not deal with lightly. When you start a blog, the first step is to get your hosting service a blog from a secure web hosting provider.
The provider will offer security solutions such as antiDDOS protection, malware removal, automatic backups, and SSL encryption. Some of the security measures to carry out on your end include:
- Secure login: When you start a blog, change the default username on your site login from “admin” to something secure and use Captcha for the user login. Furthermore, ensure you use a unique setting password for all accounts relating to your blog, such as your admin account, email accounts, and social media platforms. Only use one password for one or more logins.
- Content protection: You can use source attribution tools like Tynt to protect your content. So, when someone copies your content, the tool automatically adds an attribution URL to the copied content, such as “copied content read more at www.examplewebsite.com“.
- Plugins: Only use plugins from trusted sites on your blog. Some blogging platforms limit the plugins you can use to prevent security breaches. If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you must ensure the plugins and themes are genuine, uncompromised, and regularly updated.
- Limit login attempts: Limit the number of times someone can attempt to log into your blog unsuccessfully. This feature will protect you from malicious actors trying to force open your blog by trying different passwords.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the best source of unpaid web traffic. Using the right SEO techniques, you can create a traffic source that will serve you for a long time, even with your first blog post.
The SEO techniques and tools you use for a website are no different than the ones you will use for a blog.
However, you will apply them as part of an ongoing long-form content strategy. This strategy requires in-depth informational content that will meet the needs of your audience and show search engines that they are relevant for the keywords you seek to rank for.
Here are some tips for optimizing your blog SEO:
- Leverage topic clusters: A topic cluster is a collection of blog posts that provide in-depth information on a broader subject when viewed as a whole. They usually have a central page known as pillar content which deals with the broader subject, while the content clusters deal with subtopics.
- Enrich your content: Your blog content shouldn’t just contain text. You should incorporate other forms, such as images, infographics, internal links, and strong call-to-action (CTA) buttons. These will break up your content into digestible parts, aid comprehension, and provide helpful resources to your readers.
- Boost your SERP impressions: The first thing a potential visitor sees when scrolling through a search engine result page (SERP) is your page title, meta description, and URL. While you don’t have complete control over how your page appears, you can improve your SERP appearance by optimizing your page title, meta description, and URL. Ensure you use engaging titles and descriptions relevant to your target keywords. You should include the keywords in your meta description and URL.
- Use the right tools: Your CMS will offer plugins to boost your SEO efforts. Tools such as Yoast SEO, WordPress themes for SEO, and Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant can ensure your page content complies with SEO best practices.
Analytics helps you to track your website performance. These tracking data will provide insights that will help you know how to improve your blog. The key metrics you want to look out for when you start a blog are:
- Web traffic volume
- Web traffic source
- Impressions, clicks, and click-through rate
- Website authority
- Readership engagement
You can use data from analytics to improve your blog performance, create marketing campaigns, and attract advertisers. You can get free analytics by using Google account analytics.
Backing up your blog content is your most crucial security activity. It will preserve your website content if you get hacked or experience an event that wipes out your content. The best approach is to use a web hosting provider that supports daily automatic backups and easily restores backed-up files to your website. Regular backups protect against human error, faulty updates/installations, malware, and hacks.
Step 4: Customize Your Blog
If you use a website template, you must customize it to make your blog unique. Here are tips to help create a truly unique and appealing blog.
1. Choose a Theme That Reflects Your Brand and Niche
All blogging platforms offer website templates categorized around blogging niches. When selecting a template, you must examine the color scheme, typography, and style. For instance, a blog catering to corporate financing will look different from a blog focusing on beauty care products.
Most WordPress themes are designed for specific categories. However, you have limited options if you use a platform like Medium or Blogger, you have limited options. Blogger only offers a handful of themes, while Medium offers the same theme to all users.
2. Customize Your Blog’s Design and Layout
After selecting a suitable WordPress theme (if you use WordPress) for your blog niche and style, the next step is to customize the blog layout and design.
The layout refers to how the page elements are arranged. Depending on your needs, you might need to add or remove elements. The website design refers to color and appearance. Here, you want to look at the background colors, spacing, font size, and size of elements.
We recommend using a drag-and-drop website builder to customize your blog design and layout. All the recommended blogging platforms offer drag-and-drop builders (except Medium). You can also check design and layout examples in your chosen niche for inspiration.
3. Tips for Creating a User-Friendly and Visually Appealing Blog
You want to ensure your blog is visually appealing and user-friendly, as this will encourage visitors to stay, engage with your content and even follow through on your CTAs. Here are tips to help you create a user-friendly and visually appealing blog:
- Simplicity: Nothing wins like having a website that is straight to the point. Your readers should not have to spend hours looking for content. We recommend making your homepage clutter-free, using big headings, large buttons, categories, and subcategories to organize your new blog posts. You can also include a functional search feature from the WordPress dashboard so visitors can quickly get what they want.
- Clarity: Create your blog content with your audience in mind. Use language and vocabulary choices that are compatible with their manner of interactions. Using the same slang, shortcodes, and cultural references as your target audience will build credibility and interest them in what you have to say.
- Visuals: Include gifs, videos, photos, and infographics in your content. These visuals should be relevant to your content, be in high resolution and help your readers understand your content better.
Step 5: Create Your First Blog Post
Now that you have a well-structured blog with a visually appealing look and robust functionality, it is time to create your first blog post. This section will show you everything you need to know regarding publishing your blog content.
1. Tips For Creating High-Quality Blog Content
“High quality” is subjective. If you are in the web development niche, you need to create content that helps web developers achieve their goals. You should focus on how to use web development tools, set up a work area, or even deal with web development challenges.
Other niches might not require such in-depth topics. For instance, a beauty blog will focus on the best skincare routines, beauty care products, etc. The content may be useless to a web developer, but it benefits anyone looking to improve their physical appearance.
- Defining the target audience: To create high-quality content, you must know who you are creating content for. We recommend that you choose a niche that is narrow enough to allow you to focus on a few topics but broad enough so you are not in intense competition with other bloggers. For instance, Linux web hosting is a sub-niche under the web hosting niche. It is narrow enough yet ensures you can quickly get traffic to your blog.
- Conducting research: The next step is to research your target audience’s needs. Are there pain points that you can offer a solution to? Are there ways through which you can help them improve? Your research findings will help you develop the best blog post ideas.
- Providing value: After identifying the key issues to address, you should present your insights and solutions to your target audience. Your content becomes valuable by showing your audience that you understand them and offering tips to help them. They will officially begin to seek your insights on similar issues.
- Telling stories: Everyone loves stories because they are exciting and easy to remember. So, when you have developed your blog post ideas, share them with your audience using a storytelling format. Include experiences, either personally or from others, regarding the issues discussed and how your solutions can resolve those issues.
2. Structuring a Blog Post and Including Media
At this point, your content is ready. You’ve done your research, developed valuable content, and expressed it using storytelling. You have also proofread your content for any grammatical, contextual, or cultural errors, and It is time for you to publish it. Before you hit the publish button, you need to optimize your blog post.
First, you must have a clear, concise, attention-grabbing headline and introduction. Next, you need to divide your content into subheadings, making it easy to read and understand. You should also include relevant visuals such as images and videos to illustrate your points, boost retention and make reading more enjoyable.
When you have done these, it is time to optimize your content for search engines for enhanced visibility.
3. Optimize Your Blog Content for Better Search Engine Visibility
Search engine optimization involves implementing techniques and tools to provide your blog content visibility. SEO aims to rank your web content in search engine result pages as high as possible.
For instance, if your website content is on the “best website builders“, your goal will be to have your website link appear among the top results when a user searches for “best website builder” on Google or any other search engine. To achieve this, you need to implement SEO best practices.
- Keywords: You want to use your target and relevant keywords in your content title, headings, and body. However, ensure you don’t overuse keywords, as you may be penalized for that by the search engine.
- Meta tags: You want to ensure your meta tags are optimized for search engines. Meta tags are texts that give search engines information about your blog content. They do not appear in the content but often appear in search engine results. Meta tags include your meta title and meta description. The title and description must be accurate, concise, and relevant to your content. They should also include the target keyword.
- Links: Your content needs to link to external websites (outbound links) and your other blog content (internal links). Both types provide more information to search engines about your blog content and may boost your SEO ranking.
Step 6: Promote Your Blog
Now that you have valuable, fully optimized content on your blog, it is time for you to promote your blog and attract more readers. This section will give you tips to help you increase blog traffic, build a loyal readership and make money blogging.
1. Different Ways to Promote a New Blog
You can promote your blog via social media, email, and guest blogging. We proclaim you use a combination of these methods for the best results.
- Social media marketing: You can use social media marketing to attract web traffic to your blog. You can share your web content on your social media platforms. Also, you can include social media share buttons on your blog and encourage your readers to use those buttons to share your content with their friends and family. Another alternative is to work with a social media influencer to share your content links or use paid social media ads. This approach might have some financial costs.
- Email marketing: You can build an email list and share updates on new content with the subscribers. You can build an email list by offering something in return. It could be free online material such as an ebook, fact sheet, exclusive membership, or a promise to inform them of existing offers and updates.
- Guest blogging: Another way to get traffic to your site is to write for other blogs within your niche. Your guest blog will include a link or more that directs readers to your website.
2. Tips for Building a Following and Engaging with Readers
While attracting new readers, you should also look for ways to retain and engage with your current readers. Solid engagement, especially in the early stages of starting a blog, can accelerate your growth and create a loyal readership base. Here are tips to help you build and engage your readers.
- Provide value: If you want your readers to keep returning and referring others to your blog, you must consistently provide valuable and engaging content. You should update your blog at least twice to four times monthly.
- Respond to feedback: Aside from providing content, you should also respond to blog comments and wherever your content is shared. However, don’t use this as an opportunity to prove you are right about anything. If the reader agrees with your content, thank them for their time. If they offer alternatives, consider them and offer your response respectfully. Finally, if they disagree or attack your work, thank them for reading and end the conversation.
- Talk about your blog: You should never be ashamed to promote your blog amongst your friends and internet connections. However, do this appropriately. Promoting your blog at work or in a setting that is irrelevant to your blog would be unprofessional.
3. Strategies for Monetizing a Blog
If you start a blog to make money blogging, then you need to monetize it as soon as possible. Here are the top options to make money blogging.
1. Display Ads
You can sign up with ad networks such as Google AdSense and Ezoic to display ads on your blog posts. You get paid based on how many people see the ads or click on them.
- It is a source of passive income
- It’s an easy way to make money blogging
- It can make your website “ugly”
2. Affiliate Marketing
You can make money blogging by promoting products or services another brand offers in your blog posts. You revive a commission when a visitor purchases the product via your affiliate link.
- It pays better than display networks
- Passive income
- You have to market the product
3. Online Courses
You can begin selling online courses when you have become established in your niche. You can create the courses yourself or hire professionals to do so.
- Full control over pricing
- Increases your branding
- Requires a lot of resources
4. Paid Membership
You can put all or some of your blog posts behind a paywall and require readers to pay a monthly or one-time fee to access your content.
- Predictable income
- Full control over pricing
- Your content must be top-notch since most information is free online.
5. Sponsored Posts
You publish blog posts that promote a product or service. The advertiser pays you for publishing the blog post and the content itself if you are responsible for creating it.
- Most profitable way to make money blogging
- Full control over pricing
- Your reputation is at risk
The key requirements for starting a blog are a blogging platform, domain name, and web hosting. You must also choose a target audience and create content that meets their needs. Once that is settled, you can begin the process of marketing and making money blogging. Check our best website builders and web hosting lineup for a hitch-free blogging endeavor.
Next Steps: What Now?