How to start a blog - a beginner's step by step guide

How to start a blog

How to start a blog

You’ve decided to start a blog. Good on you!

So how do you get started? Well, for long term growth, I think the best place to build your blog is on your own website, but if you’ve never built a website before, the process may seem a little complicated.

I’ve built quite a few websites now, and I can do it pretty quickly. But when I first got started, the information overload left my head spinning.

Have you ever built a piece of furniture from Ikea? Building a website reminds me a lot of building Ikea furniture. It’s definitely cheaper to DIY but if you get it wrong, those cost savings fly out the window, along with your sanity.

It definitely helps to take your time and follow the instruction manual carefully. The same thing goes for building a website. If you slow down and tackle it one step at a time, in no time at all you’ll be hitting publish and feeling really proud of what you’ve achieved.

I wish I had a step by step process to follow when I got started. I did get there eventually, but rather than leave you scratching your head, or worse still, putting off setting up your blog because the technical side seems a little overwhelming, I’ve broken down all my experience creating content websites that have attracted and engaged millions of visitors into a quick and painless step by step process for building a blog you and your readers will love. And one that has the potential to grow into an income stream in the future.

To get your blog off and running it's just three steps:

  1. Planning – deciding on your name, audience and what you want to achieve with your blog
  2. Registering a domain name and setting up hosting
  3. Setting up WordPress and installing a theme

How to start a profitable blog FREE email course

In this free course, I teach you how to create your strategy, set up and design a website to host your blog, create editorial and social media plans, develop content, manage your social media promotion and monetize your blog as an income stream. All in an easy, manageable, step by step process, so join now.


Step One: Planning

Why are you creating a blog or website?

Be honest now. If you want to make money, then that’s your goal. You’re going to need to work backwards from that goal every step of the way to ensure everything you’re doing will deliver on that expectation.

Who is your target audience?

Please don’t say everyone. Maybe you do have a broad audience, but the reality is, the broader your audience the more difficult it will be to reach them and stand out. Try this exercise – ask yourself what problem you can solve with your blog or website. Then ask yourself who has that problem.

Get as specific as you can about details like gender, location, age, interests. In marketing, they call this an audience persona, often giving the ‘persona’ a name, backstory, interests and more. It’s an important step because it helps you make decisions – would your audience persona like this color? Where does he or she get information online? Which pages is he or she most likely to follow on Facebook?

What are you going to offer your audience to keep them coming back?

The first answer to this question is often ‘I’m going to have great content’. And you should. But there’s another part to the equation. It takes a lot of work to get people to your website and you can’t ever assume they will come back to you unprompted. So you are going to need ways to get them to connect with you on an ongoing basis. Social media is obvious, but now more than ever, that’s what we call a pay to play environment. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they will see your posts, so you can spend time and energy getting them to connect and then have to spend even more money and energy keeping the conversation flowing.

Social is an important part of the mix, but your website is going to have to do some of the heavy lifting here. You need to make sure that when they visit you, they are incentivised to stay with you by joining your mailing list, and I mean it when I say incentivised. Not many people simply enter their email to sign up for a newsletter. They are getting offered much more value in the digital world these days, so you’re going to need the tools to push them along that path.

If you want to make money, how exactly are you going to do it?

It may not be easy to make money on a blog, but it is possible. There are the passive income streams like affiliate marketing. Then there are ebooks, courses, services, physical products. If you want to monetize, you need to think about this upfront, because what you offer is definitely going to impact the design and build of your website.

What’s your brand

If you haven’t decided on a business name or blog name yet, this is a massive decision. Not only does it represent you and what you stand for, but it also needs to communicate as clearly as possible what your audience can expect, what problem you plan to solve for them.

The really difficult part is creating a brand with a domain name you can actually get and that is also available on social media. The industry standard for a commercial site is .com and people tend to naturally enter .com as the first attempt if they are typing in a URL. Of course you have to find an available .com which can be tough. Sometimes you just need to get a bit creative – when I tried to register this website, I wanted Digital Declutter but it was already taken. So I went with Digital Decluttered, which was also available on almost all the social media I wanted. It is too long to be a Twitter username, but I was happy with that as a compromise.

Save yourself some time with Name​​​​ch_k – just type in the name you are interested in and it will show you whether the domain name you want is available and the availability of corresponding usernames across social media, blogs, eBay and much more. It’s a huge time saver.

One word of warning – if your brand has several words combined to make the domain name, take a look at this to make sure it isn’t unintentionally inappropriate – trust me it happens!

Step 2 Setting up your domain and hosting

When you are starting out, it’s important to set up your website with a reputable, reliable and affordable company. One that can grow with you over time. I did a lot of research into the options and kept coming back to Bluehost. They have fantastic introductory packages to get you up and running, including a free domain if you don’t already have one. And the process is incredibly simple. If you prefer to use another hosting company, you’ll find this set up is probably quite similar.

The BlueHost registration and setup is very simple, but I've created a step by step example you can follow if you've registered a domain and hosting before.

STEP 3 CHOOSING A THEME

When you set up your new website, you probably chose a free theme. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if a profitable website is your end goal, you’re just not going to get there easily with a free theme.

Before you get too far into creating your website, you absolutely have to check out Thrive Themes. I currently have four websites I’ve built for myself, and they all use Thrive Themes. They create conversion focused themes and plugins that make converting visitors into subscribers then customers incredibly easy. You can create landing pages, optin corms, pop up boxes for signins, quizzes and much more

The themes have simple, clean designs that are easy to navigate for the best user experience, there are landing pages built in (and more available with the Thrive Architect plugin) You can create popups, slideins, optins and header ribbons to get people signing up to your mailing list, and of course all the themes are fully mobile responsive.

You can pick and choose what you want but the membership is incredible value at $19 per month – you can install as many of the themes and plugins (there are 25 in total) on all your websites with unlimited free updates and unlimited support. Sure you can get landing pages from LeadPages ($25 per month) and fantastic conversion tools from Sumo (they have a free basics package that suits hobby sites, but for bloggers growing their website, the cheapest package is $29 per month). My logic, is why not get absolutely everything, including my theme, content editor and all my sales tools in one place for less than just one option would cost elsewhere.

Resources mentioned in this guide

Namechk

Bluehost

WordPress training 

Thrive Themes

My free Facebook Group has a dedicated discussion thread for how to start a blog, so jump on in and join the conversation if you have any questions, suggestions or other thoughts about how to start a blog.

If you’re not already a member of the group, you will need to join first to access this how to start a blog discussion.

How to start a profitable blog FREE email course

In this free course, I teach you how to create your strategy, set up and design a website to host your blog, create editorial and social media plans, develop content, manage your social media promotion and monetize your blog as an income stream. All in an easy, manageable, step by step process, so join now.

DISCLOSURE

One of the ways I am trying to cover the costs of maintaining Create with Canva and Digital Decluttered and offer free courses to my audience is via a small number of affiliate partnerships (with tools I genuinely use and love) where I get a small percentage commission on sales made via referral. You don't pay any more for purchasing via my affiliate links - in fact in some cases you even receive a discount. If you do click one of my affiliate links, your support is greatly appreciated.

>