How to Start a Blog in 2018: Ultimate Guide

I know the struggle for most people who want to start a blog but have zero knowledge. Are you here because of that reason? Then congratulations. In this article, I will show you the complete step-by-step process.

The first time I approached blogging in 2014, nobody was there to tell me exactly what to do. What’s the first step? The next? Lucky for the readers who stumble upon this guide, because it contains everything I learned.

Let’s get started, shall we?

How to start a blog in 5 simple steps

1. Decide what your blogging niche will be about.

2. Choose a platform, web host, and domain name.

3. Design your blog using a theme of your choice.

4. Install the plugins you need.

5. Write great content for readers and search engines.

Now that you know what the 5 essential steps are, perhaps you’re now ready to take a closer look at each one. But before that, ask yourself the reason why you decided to pursue blogging.

Why should you create a blog in the first place?

Anyone who wants to learn how to start a blog has a personal reason for doing so. It’s important to discover your WHY because it’s one way you succeed in the long term. Below are the common and popular ones:

  • Make money from home – Tired of your 9-5? Do you want to live a freeing lifestyle this time? There are many ways to make a living from blogging depending on your niche. One way is to promote the products and services of another business. You earn a commission. It’s called affiliate marketing.
  • Become a better writer – If you’re serious enough to hone your writing skills and be an established writer one day, venture into blogging. It’ll develop your vocabulary, creative thinking, and help you discover your unique voice.
  • Establish yourself as an expert – When you blog consistently in a niche, people start seeing you as a trusted expert. You’ll be able to articulate ideas better especially if you are passionate about the topics you blog about. Eventually, you can use this expertise to generate potential sales.

So we move on to the steps of starting a blog.

Step 1 – Decide what your blogging niche will be about.

Some marketers will tell you, “Blog about your passion.” Others will say, “Choose a profitable niche.” If you’re like me, you would go for something you already are interested in.

If there’s one thing you need to remember, it is the truth that success starts with passion! It’s as simple as that.

Here are a few reasons why starting with your passion sets you up for blogging success:

  • You do your best work even without rewards or recognition.
  • Committing to blogging regularly isn’t a chore.
  • Creative ideas keep flowing.
  • Giving up is less likely to become an option.
  • More people appreciate the work you do.

Finding your passion is not difficult at all. In fact, you already know what you want even before you considered blogging for business. You only need to ask yourself some questions to get clear on your niche.

  • What are the things you often think about?
  • When you read blog posts, what kind of topics do you choose?
  • Are there hobbies you enjoy in your spare time?
  • Do your family or friends recognize you because of a certain skill?
  • If you had the chance to do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Start with these questions.

Here’s an exercise I’d like you to try: Take out a sheet of paper. Write down as many topics as you can under a niche. If you can come up with at least 10, that’s a good sign.

Also, ask yourself if you would be willing to pursue blogging even if no one pays attention. Amazing things happen when you focus on the work, the daily grind, instead of chasing for fame first.

Step 2 – Choose a platform, web host, and domain name.

We divide this section into three. First, choose a platform. Second, pay for a web hosting service. Third, pick a domain name. Together, let’s go through these areas one by one.

What’s your preferred blogging platform?

One of the most important steps in learning how to start a blog is deciding on your blogging platform. But first, what is a blogging platform?

A blogging platform is an online service where you get to create and publish blog content. Put simply, you conduct all your blogging activities here.

Surely, you’ve heard of several blogging platforms out there. WordPress (WordPress.com and WordPress.org), Squarespace, Wix, and Blogger.

Each of these platforms has their share of strengths and weaknesses. But for the purpose of building a solid online presence in a simple way, I recommend the self-hosted WordPress.org. This is a content management system in addition to being a blog platform.

WordPress has a lot of room for flexibility. Not only will you be able to upload text, you also get to upload images, infographics, video, and audio content.

There are also plenty of plugins that are compatible with WordPress, aside from the fact that you can choose from hundreds to thousands of free blogging themes.

Why should you choose WordPress.org over WordPress.com? Well, you wouldn’t want to end up with this domain: http://yourdomain.wordpress.com. This doesn’t look like a legit business, does it?

After you select WordPress.org as your platform, it’s time to sign-up for a web host.

Get a hosting account.

Finally, host your blog. A web host is responsible for making your website accessible to the rest of the world. It stores all your web pages.

As you already know, Bluehost is a hosting company and a domain provider. I recommend Bluehost as a top choice for a web host.

Aside from the fact that it’s one of the oldest web hosts, it has a fast load time. Speed is such an important factor to consider when it comes to keeping your visitors longer and optimizing your blog for SEO.

You’ll also be satisfied with Bluehost’s round-the-clock chat support and knowledge base.

Select your Bluehost web hosting plan. Since you’re just starting a website, Bluehost’s shared hosting (Basic plan starting at $2.75/month) will be the perfect choice for you. There’ll be times when Bluehost offers discounts so you’ll want to check them out more often.

Pick a domain name.

Choosing your domain name doesn’t have to be difficult. But here’s the thing. You need to be sure about your domain name because it reflects your business.

Your domain name is your website address. For example, this website’s domain name is RankYourPage.com.

So whether you are building a business from scratch or expanding your physical presence, a good domain name is required.

Rand Fishkin of Moz states that your choice of domain name is so important that it influences your click-through rate (social media, search engine results, etc.) and brandability.

Allow me to summarize Rand Fishkin’s golden rules in choosing a domain name.

Stay away from these:

  • Generic words
  • Hyphens and numbers
  • Difficult to pronounce words
  • Names that can be confused with another company
  • Keyword rich domain

Go for these kinds of domain names:

  • Short, with fewer words but not too short!
  • A .com top level domain (TLD). If .com is unavailable, go for .net.

Remember that your domain name should reflect your business. In case you run a local shop and target local customers, it would be good to include the name of your city or state. For example, SeattleSilverRoofs.com.

Now where to register your domain name? If you sign up for Bluehost’s shared hosting plan, you get a domain name for free. So practically, registering your domain name and hosting can be done simultaneously.

Enter your domain name of choice in Bluehost’s sign-up page to check its availability. If it isn’t available, don’t worry because Bluehost will suggest other domain names or the same domain with a different TLD. In that case, you’d want to pick .net.

Finally, proceed to the next page where you enter your account details. Take note that under package information, your only billing options are 12, 24, 36, and 60 months’ worth of hosting.

It’s not possible for you to pay monthly. Anyway, this is still a good thing since you’re billed once wouldn’t have to remind yourself of monthly hosting payment. Go ahead and select your preferred billing frequency.

After you fill out all the details and checked or unchecked those add-ons (but I highly recommend checking Domain Privacy Protection), click the green button submit.

You should be asked to create your own password.

Installing WordPress.

What I like about Bluehost is that it allows total newbies to install WordPress with ease. They have this “one-click install WordPress” program. And if you ever have trouble doing so, you can just head over to their support.

To install WordPress in seconds, first, log in to your Bluehost cPanel.

Head over to Website > Install WordPress. Finally, click the install button.

Step 3 – Design your blog using a theme of your choice.

Most newbie bloggers feel the excitement of designing their websites. In fact, picking a beautiful theme has become a favorite step in building blogs. For me, it is, since I’m aware that visitors often make first impressions based on the look and feel of a website.

Before we proceed, let me be clear on this: You don’t need to be a coder to achieve a visually-appealing blog. This is where ready-made themes become most important.

WordPress comes with plenty of free themes in its Theme Directory. When you install WordPress, you automatically get the free theme called Twenty Seventeen.

Simply change this theme to any free theme. Log in to your blog then Dashboard > Appearance. As much as possible, avoid installing free themes that come from sources other than WordPress.org.

Free vs. Premium WordPress Themes

The beauty of getting free themes is that they’re FREE. That’s it. At no cost, you’ll be able to build a blog that looks professional.

If you ask why many WordPress themes come for free, the answer is those new theme developers are still trying to improve their skills. They need feedback from users regarding their free themes. This allows them to build a portfolio and become better at what they do.

But here’s the catch: Free themes have disadvantages too. Usually, these cons are subjective. Below are some of them.

Disadvantages of free WordPress themes:

  • Limited support
  • Many bloggers use the same themes
  • Less customization options
  • Basic functionality

With free themes, there’s not a lot of room for achieving the exact look that matches your brand. And so we turn to paid themes. But the choice is yours as to how you want to tweak your site’s appearance.

Why choose premium WordPress themes?

Again, premium themes have more customization options and built-in tools to help you meet your branding needs. So here are the reasons why premium themes rock:

  • Experiment with color schemes and layouts
  • Support and regular theme updates
  • Less likely to be used by other bloggers
  • Better security

Tips to choose a theme

You might want to look into these popular WordPress theme providers:

Just because a theme is a premium doesn’t mean you can choose anything that suits your taste. All that glitter can divert your attention from what really matters. Consider the following factors to select a theme for your brand new blog:

  • Responsiveness – Pick a theme that ensures a positive user experience across different screen sizes. Whether you use a mobile device or your desktop, your blog should be readable and usable.
  • Support for plugins – Does your theme support most WordPress plugins? Plugins are important since they make your blog more functional.
  • Ratings and reviews – To give you a clear idea of how well the theme works, check out ratings and reviews left by its previous users.

Don’t buy a theme unless you preview it first. This will help you visualize what your final blog will look like.

Step 4 – Install the plugins you need.

Like I said earlier, WordPress plugins make your blogging life easier. For one, they take away manual work by automatically checking your blog for issues, errors, etc. Plugins also provide safety from hackers, boost your SEO, and help you achieve your goals.

Yes, you can install useful plugins with good reviews but here is a couple of those you should never miss.

  • Yoast SEO – Once you get used to Yoast, you can’t imagine your blogging life without it. This plugin does a real-time check of your content while you write it. It checks two aspects: Readability and SEO. The free version allows you to optimize for only one keyword.
  • Akismet – Save yourself from manually checking every comment you get for spam. Akismet is a spam fighting plugin that filters comments. If you have the time, you’re free to review comments that you would like to un-spam.
  • W3 Total Cache – Perhaps you’ve heard the benefit of a caching plugin when it comes to speed. A caching plugin like W3 Total Cache ensures positive user experiences by reducing your loading time. This, in return, improves your conversion rate and eventually, your rankings.

  • WP Smush – You may be totally unaware of it but your images are likely the culprit behind your slow-loading website. WP Smush can drastically reduce the time it takes for your pages to display. After you install it, “bulk smush” your images in one click and notice the difference.
  • Ultimate Sharing – Each time you publish great content, don’t forget to share it with your social media platforms. Social sharing is no longer optional now that social media is one of the top drivers of blog traffic.

Note that upgrading your plugins to their premium version will definitely increase your blog’s capabilities.

Step 5 – Write great content for readers and search engines.

Stop right there. We’re not done yet. The most important part (that largely determines your success) in getting your blog up and running is content creation.

Basic pages you need are the following: About page, contact page, products/services page, and your blog section. For the blog section, make sure that you establish a consistent publishing schedule as this keeps your blog updated for the satisfaction of your readers and search engines.

Write a new blog post by entering your Dashboard > Posts > Add New.

If you install Yoast SEO, you should see the plugin right below your post.

Take your writing process seriously as it is your ticket to ranking higher in search and attracting more prospects. Great content is worth your time and energy. But what does “great content” look like?

  • Original – Unique content stands out. It is not copied or stolen from another blogger. Maybe you think that plagiarism doesn’t hurt your rankings but it does. Avoid spinning content just to produce something; better hire a content writer if you lack the time to sit down and write.
  • Actionable – People search the internet in hopes of finding answers to their problems fast. Actionable content satisfies your audience with real solutions they can apply immediately. After reading your post, they walk away with brand new hopes.
  • Visual elements – Some of your audience may be satisfied with just plain text while some look for compelling images, screenshots, or infographics to support your message. In general, visuals help get your message across. These are great to use as examples especially if you’re going for long-form content.

  • Scannable – No matter how much you’ve invested into a piece of content, there’s no guarantee that all your prospects will read it. One way to hook every person who comes across your content is to make it scannable. Use subheadings, bullets, and white space. Write shorter sentences. When explaining the same idea multiple times, say them in a different way.
  • Captivating headlines – Start every blog post with a headline people can’t resist to click through. Use numbers (for list posts), adjectives, and the words how to, why, what, and when. Limit the number of words in your headlines to 6-8 so they can still be read in search results.

I’ve written a content marketing guide that will help you improve how you create blog content. This post touches on the basics, so go ahead and check it out.

Helpful Tips on Starting a Blog

Not all guides on how to start a blog answer your most pressing questions especially when it comes to blogging consistency and audience engagement. Before I end this post, let me address some of your concerns by giving out these practical tips.

Does blogging consistently matter?

My straightforward answer: Yes. Let me tell you that blogging is a long-term endeavor. Maintaining consistency means that you update your content from time to time. Sticking to a publishing schedule allows your blog to be indexed and this increases its chance to rank and appear right in front of your target audience.

As a general rule, the more often you update your content, the more opportunities you get to reach your prospects and be heard. While blogging frequency counts, remember not to be lax on quality. It’s still the most important determinant of successful content.

How do I understand my audience better? 

Figuring out what your audience wants, their pain points, and what drives them to take action requires research. You get them to say yes to every call-to-action when you know them better than they know themselves.

Researching can be done by conducting online and offline surveys, keyword research, asking questions through your social media posts and paying attention to your blog comments. Take some time to know them better, and I promise you that you’ll be writing topics that directly speak to them.

In what ways can I provide value?

Deep inside, you know that you’re here to build a business to make money online. But that doesn’t mean that you charge your audience for everything you offer. Giving value goes beyond writing great tips that people can take action from.

Why not write an ebook which you give for free, as a lead magnet? Provide other downloadables such as checklists and templates. If you can still stretch yourself, offer the opportunity for them to ask one question a day through email. Make sure to answer it.

Conclusion

Congratulations! At last, you’ve completed the steps on how to start a blog. I do hope that this blog post covered everything you wanted to know about getting your blog up and running. If it didn’t, please feel free to write a comment below. 🙂

Staring a successful blog doesn’t have to be hard! I do hope that you’re able to set-up your website with little to no help. But for preoccupied aspiring digital entrepreneurs who keep on procrastinating this experience, Rank Your Page will make it easier for you.

We are offering a blog set-up service at a minimal cost. If you’re interested, shoot us an email at contact@rankyourpage.com. We’ll respond in 48 hours. 🙂

 

By | 2018-01-10T13:34:59+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Blogging|0 Comments

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