How to Start a Blog
UPDATE: I have since switched back to Squarespace, but still highly recommend Wordpress.
So, you want to know how to start a blog? You’ve been itching to write and post it for the world to see. You want to join the community of online entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers who are making money in coffee shops and free Wi-Fi, right? Great, first things first let's be real.
You will NOT earn money right away.
Other bloggers, influencers and marketers will sell you gimmicks like "...in 3 simple steps you can make X amount of money and work from home." Frankly, I'm tired. It's just not true. Stop believing the hype.
It takes time to build your brand, and if you're really passionate the money will come. People have such a "quick finish" mentality these days expecting extra income or community to come overnight.
I can't even tell you how to make money blogging because I'm still figuring it out too. Even with my Marketing/design background, this industry takes focus and time to understand. Now that we've got the elephant out of the room, let's talk on how to start a blog.
I may even make this a series so please stay tuned for more, and let me know in the comments below if you like reading post like these. First things first, before we dive into how to start a blog, please download your free checklist so that you can keep track of your steps to success.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
What excites you? What can you grow with?
When I first started my blog, hellorven.com, I wrote about college and posted rants of a typical teenager because I thought a digital diary was cooler than an old school notebook. Soon I started writing about things that interested me like beauty, natural hair, travel and self-care. I decided to channel all of my energy into positive writing about life as a young 20-something.
So when choosing your niche, pick something you love, and won’t get sick of! If it helps, purchase a planner or journal to identify your favorite areas.
Step 2: Choose a Name
It used to be that when choosing a name for your blog you needed to think of descriptive words from your specific niche. However, I'm now seeing a different trend of self-named blogs like www.yourname.com. I think this connects with the audience just as much as something relatable to your topics, so it's really up to you.
When you've decided on a name, you must check for availability. In some ways this happened to me - originally I wanted "helloraven.com," but it was taken. I figured people misspelled my name anyway so why not change it to something unique?
Step 3: Purchase Hosting & Domain
You can purchase your domain from about $2.99 to $15 at GoDaddy. It's super easy and extremely affordable to claim and use yearly.
Once you finally have your name and it’s available at a .com, you need to get hosting.
Unless of course you're wanting something simple, then I would recommend Squarespace. It's pretty much a do all site for about $12/month (it was $10 when I used it back in the day). There are several different plans depending on how much space you'd need, but for starters and if you have a tight budget start there. More on Squarespace versus Wordpress coming soon.
Now back to hosting. What is it?
Hosting is the network/company that gives your blog a space on the internet. I've only used one hosting site EVER since switching to Wordpress and I love it.
Bluehost is the hosting I recommend! They make things super easy to set up and the customer service is amazing! I struggled in the beginning trying to understand the whole DNS, servers piece, but they made it easy. They also offer a free domain name with their service so you don’t have to buy the domain separately.
After my GoDaddy service was over I transferred everything to Bluehost. Not only is their service is $3.95/month, but it includes free domain name, free site builders, 1-step install for WordPress, and 24/7 support.
When buying through Bluehost, you will have to pay the yearly fee upfront, but they will first ask you what plan you want. I have the basic package and built my service from there.
Step 4: Set Up Social Accounts
As I mentioned with my domain name, you want to be sure to secure your username on all platforms you plan to use. Mine is @hellorven for all of my social media accounts. It's consistent with my blog and easy to find if you search on all platforms. If you're not sure which username to use, you can search what's available.
This will show what is in use on various channels and social platforms. Remember to stick with the name of your blog, it will help your readers and followers find you easier in cyberspace.
Step 5: Blog Set Up, Theme Installation
We're almost there! Now, you’ll need to install WordPress the service for the backend of your blog.
If you have hosting through Bluehost, you can install WordPress within a matter of minutes.If everything goes well, I might receive an affiliate commission for recommending you Bluehost, so thank you for support! Once WordPress is loaded, you can access your dashboard (the behind the scenes of your blog).
This is where you will do everything for your blog from customization to users to pages and post. The quickest way to access your dashboard is typing your URL /admin for example if your domain was www.blogqueen.com then use www.blogqueen.com/admin. This way the dashboard is at your fingertips - starting a blog has never been easier.
Step 6: Brand Yo' self
This is probably my favorite part. It's like hiring a stylist to dress you (which I've never done, but would love to experience one day, ha). You can either hire a designer or DIY what you'd like to be done to showcase you and your new blog to the internet.
Personally, I would recommend setting clear goals about the look and feel of your blog prior to launch. My blog has undergone many changes at one point in time I was attempting to follow the minimal trend, but I love color too much. If you're like me, be sure to focus on what represents you first. Don't try to duplicate someone else because what works for them may not work for you.
Step 7: Decide Your Categories
You've got your niche, now how you plan on organizing this? What else will you talk about on your blog? This is where categories come in.
When you start a blog, you must divide sub categories to help push your audience to different topics. These will be displayed in the navigation bar i.e. I have beauty, but within this area I talk natural hair, skincare and more. Be careful not to add too many, it's smart to only have categories that directly relate to your blog.
Step 8: Write Posts & Pages
Now it's time to do the work.
Sit down and write out what topics you'd like to discuss. This is YOUR time to really focus on what you're passionate about and share it with the internet.
These are what we would refer to as "legal pages," I would recommend you create all of these because you want to make sure your content, design and relationship with your readers is protected.
Step 9: Launch and Share
It's time to launch and go live. Easy right? But what now?
When your blog goes live you want to do three things: establish a regular posting schedule, promote your post and review your data. Not only will regular posting keep your readers interested, but it keeps you on track - I'm guilty of not posting frequently, but I'm building my own schedule that works for me.
Decide what works for you and stick to it! Once a week, twice, or even three times a week. However, don't put out content for the sake of saying you completed a task. Take your time and post good content - if this means only one post a week than use that schedule.
When I first started hellorven.com I was posting a few times a month to build up my site’s content, but since have gone to once or twice a week. I also have a Youtube channel more geared towards beauty and life advice, so I try to keep my schedule around this as well.
When you start a blog, promoting your posts is essential for building traffic. I used to think I was posting too much, but let's be real. No one is going to magically see your blog if you don't put it out there. Along with posting you know need to monitor your engagement, users and visitors. This is helpful when you want to start working with brands as they'll need these results and they help you gauge your rates.
If you need help, Google Analytics has a straight forward tutorial here.
What did you think of this post? I'm working on adding more content like this as I receive a lot of questions about blogging. If you have any questions, send me an email or leave them in the comments below.