Blogging

How To Start a Blog- Insanely Detailed Guide For Total Newbies

So, you are fascinated by the idea of starting your own blog, right?

You can’t stop yourself from reading blog after blog on how to start a blog. At one point you are excited to give blogging a go and on other instances you feel overwhelmed by the whole process of blogging.

I understand you well because I was in the same boat in 2017. I read everything available online about blogging. I was scared, excited, and overwhelmed at the same time.

I wanted a guardian angel to hold my hand and take me through each step of building an online blog WITHOUT charging me money. Yes, without charging me money because I didn’t want to spend on something I was not sure about. Honestly, I was unsure whether blogging would work or not.

My blog is about a year old now. Through blogging, I have been introduced to a whole different world with exciting opportunities to conect, learn, earn and grow.

In the light of my experiences in blogging so far, I want to be that guardian angel for you. As a first step, I will take you through the process of starting a blog step by step.

Let’s dive in.

Why do you want to start a blog?

Trust me, getting a clarity on this question is important. People start a blog for various reasons like sharing their knowledge with others, earning money, making a brand for themselves and so on.

Here the question is why do you want to start a blog?

If you are only after money then I humbly advise you to not get into this blogging thing. According to Ruth Soukup “Blogging is not the surest way to make money.” You will need to put in a lot of unpaid hours of hard work initially. There is a likelihood that you burn out easily if money is your only motivator.

Blogging is great for you if you can provide value to your readers by solving their problems. You have to do that free for some time and after that you can think about earning money in the process. If this is fine for you then go ahead and best of luck!

To read more about knowing your WHY before you start a blog click here.

Choosing a Niche

In simple words niche is the topic of your blog. You can write about whatever you like but in order build a tribe of loyal raving readers you need to choose a topic or a few topics.

Is Choosing a Niche Important?

If you need a one-word answer then it’s yes.

But why?

Let me explain it with an example, say you are searching the internet for tips for losing weight. Which blog will you trust more the one which talks about everything under the sun or the one which talks about health and fitness?

Obviously the later one. Secondly, when your blog is new, people can find you more easily when you have a blog niche because search engines know your blog better when it caters a certain topic.

The truth about blogging is that it’s not only about the blogger rather it’s about the audience who reads that blog. With a blog niche, you can attract that audience easily.

You may write about whatever you like on your blog but will many people be interested in such a blog? Probably not.

How to Choose a Blog Niche?

An ideal niche for a blog lies on the cusp of your interest in the topic, your knowledge in that topic and people’s interest in that topic. Choosing a niche always comes down to answering these three questions.

  1. Am I interested in the topic?
  2. Do I have knowledge about that topic?
  3. Are people interested enough, that they are willing to spend money in this topic?

Blogging is a long haul and you cannot expect overnight success so your interest is a must in a topic. Secondly, you must have some knowledge or you must be willing to gain knowledge about your selected topic. Lastly, there must be a buying audience for your selected topic.

1.How To Find Your Interest or Passion?

Finding your interest or passion is tricky. You might be interested in a topic apparently but you might not be interested in writing about that topic. You get the exact answer when you actually sit down and write about that topic. I started with writing about autism initially, but I lost interest sooner than I thought.

You might also have to go through the drill of finding your interests aka passions a few times in order to find the one you are really interested in.

As a first step, make a list of all the topics you are interested in. Then write down their subtopics. Make a list of individual posts you may write about under each topic. You will get an idea of how interested you are in a topic with this exercise. If you can come up with around 30 blog post ideas then try writing a few posts. If you feel, you like the topic you chose then you are good to go.

2. How to know if You are Knowledgeable Enough or Not?

You don’t need to be an expert when starting out. All you need is to have some knowledge and a willingness to learn. Your blog is unique because of your unique perspective. Your life experiences are different than everybody else and when you add that to your blog it makes it different.

You may write about any topic either by:

  • Being an expert on a topic.
  • Or by sharing your journey to be an expert.

People will visit your blog either for taking your expert advice or to know about your perspective on your journey on a certain topic. So you don’t need to be an expert or pose to be an expert. If people can relate to you then even a journey blog can also do very well.

3. How to Know if People Are Interested In a Topic?

You can find out the answer to this question by searching for the topic online or by simply asking people around you. If there are other blogs already doing well in your selected topic then it’s a good sign that people are interested in that niche.

You may check Amazon.com whether there are products available in your niche or not. If products are available it means people are ready to spend money in this niche and it is profitable.

What to Do If You Can’t Stick With one Niche?

If you cannot make a decision after going through the process of niche selection then you may start with two or three niches and start writing articles. Within a couple of months or so of writing about these topics you will have a better understanding of what you like and what you do not like. In this way you can narrow your niche over time.

If you are interested to know more about choosing a niche click here.

Naming your Blog

Once you have finalized your niche then the next step is to name your blog. Generally, bloggers take either of the following two routes to name their blog.

  • Naming the blog according to the niche.
  • Using their own name as blog name.

If you are sure about your niche then naming the blog according to that niche is the best approach to take. On the other hand, if you are unsure about the niche or you unable to decide a name then you can keep your own name as your blog name.

Characteristics of a Good Blog Name

  • Catchy and easy to remember.
  • Easy to spell.
  • Reads well when written in URL format.

Always write the blog name in URL format before giving it a final go. At times perfect words when written together give a totally different meaning.

Take an example of an IT related website named “IT Scrap” when you see its URL(www.itscrap.com) it reads “Its crap”. No wonder why they have changed their blog name now.

Blog Name Generators

You may use the following two blog name generators to mix and match a couple of words to get an ideal blog name.

Checking the Availability of the Domain

After finalizing your blog name check the availability of the domain on NameCheck.com

If your desired blog name is not available then you will have to do the blog naming exercise again.

Which Domain Suffix Should You Use?

A domain suffix is the last part of a domain name. For example in the domain name www.namecheck.com ‘.com’ is the domain suffix.

There are dozens of approved domain suffixes like .com, .net, .org etc. Out of all these .com is the most popular domain suffix. If your comtent is specified for a specific country then you may use your country specific domain suffix like .us, .uk, .au etc.

If your content has global audience then I highly recommend using .com domain suffix. It’s popular and looks the most professional.

Choosing  The Right Blog Hosting

The next step is to choose the right hosting for your blog. Your blog host will publish your blog. Its the online home for your blog. Choosing the right home for your blog is important for your business.

Free Hosting Vs Paid Hosting

There are free platforms available for hosting your blog. Places like blogger, wix, wordpress.com, medium, tumblir etc give you an opportunity to start your blog for free. If you start your blog with a free host your domain address would be something like https://yourblog.wordpress.com On the other hand a self hosted domain address will be https://yourblog.com

See the difference?

Self  hosted website looks more professional.

If you are not sure about blogging then you may start with a free host. You won’t be owning your content when its hosted on a free platform.

But if  you want to build a business through your blog then you should go with paid hosting. Paid hosted blogs look professional and are taken more seriously.

My Story About Bluehost

Most of the pro bloggers recommend bluehost for new bloggers. Initially I tried to sign up with bluehost but due to some unknown reasons I was unable to make the payment even after many failed attempts.

My bank told me that theres nothing wrong at their end. So, for a trial I tried to sign up with siteground and I was accepted on the first attempt.

That was a blessing in disguise for me. My many blogging friends have moved to siteground from bluehost. On the other hand, I am yet to find somebody who is unhappy with siteground.

I love siteground but while researching I for this post I found out that bluehost is also a perfectly fine host for a beginner. It is even cheaper than siteground.

 Why Bloggers Love Siteground?

I signed up with siteground by accident but it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me accedentally. During the past year I messed my site a few times but thanks to siteground’s amazing customer service I was rescued every single time.

 Siteground is an excellent choice for hosting your blog because:

  • They have the best customer support.
  • Their uptime is excellent.
  • They have customer support around the clock.

How To Set Up a Blog With Siteground?

As I use siteground and I simply love it, here I am going to help you to set up your blog with sitegroung in a step by step procedure.

  • Visit www.siteground.com
  • Navigate and find out the Web hosting Column. Click the get started button.
getting started
  • Choose the Startup plan. Click the GET PLAN button.
start up plan
  • Register your domain by entering your selected blog name. Click proceed.
choose domain name
  • Fill out the form.
client information
  • Enter your payment information.
payment information
  • Select the hosting service period as per your need. You get the best deal when you opt for a three year plan.
  • In extra features click Domain privacy. Domain privacy will keep your personal information confidential.
purchase information and extra services
  • Check on terms and privacy policy of siteground. The second check box is optional.
  • Then click PAY NOW
how to start a blog with siteground last step
  • When your payment is received you will get a congratulation message. Siteground will send you, your account details via email.

How To Install WordPress

  • Visit www.siteground.com & Login to Siteground using your login details received from Siteground through email.
siteground login
  • Click My Account.
  • Click ‘Go to c panel’
how to install wordpress first step
  • Click WordPress in the autoinstaller section.
how to install wordpress step 1

This will take you to the sign up page. Here:

  • Select admin username (the name you will use to log into your wordpress blog), password and enter your email address.
  • Click install at the bottom of the page.
account information for wordpress last step

When wordpress is installed you will get a congratulations message.

Woo…Hoo… Your blog is now set up.

Getting To Know WordPress

  • Go to yourblog.com/wp-admin. Everytime you want to reach the backend of your blog you will have to go to this page.
  • Enter the required details and click login.
wordpress login

After login your dashboard will look somewhat like this. This is the backend of your website.

wordpress dashboard

Basic Introduction of WordPress Dashboard

You might be intimidated by this dashboard right now but after familiarizing yourself with it, you will handle it like a breeze. Her I am giving you a basic introduction of the sidebar in your wordpress window. The basic side bar contains:

  • Dashboard. It is the home page of the backend of your blog. By clicking ‘dashboard’ you will see the screen shown above.
  • Posts: Here you can see, create, edit, and delete, posts, categories, and tags. Categories are the subtopics of your blog and tags are the scope of your blog post. You may say that category is related to the main subject whereas tag is related to the specific keywords used in a post.
  • Media: In the media library, all the images of your website are stored. You may add, delete, and edit your media files here.
  • Pages: This section contains all the static pages of your website. Pages like About, Contact Us, Disclosure, and privacy policy, are found here. You can create, edit or delete these pages by going into this section.
  • Comments: In this section, you can find all the comments made on your posts. You may reply to comments, flag them as spam or delete them.
  • Appearance: This section is related to the appearance of your website. Here you can install, customize, and change themes. Similarly, you can add widgets in this section. Widgets are small blocks of programming which give design and structure control of a wordpress theme.
  • Plugins: You can install and delete plugins in this section. Plugins add functionality to your website.
  • Users: Your profile resides here. If more than one people are using your website then you may create different profiles with different controls in this section.
  • Tools: Here you can import or export blog content. As a newbie, you can ignore this section.
  • Settings: This section contains all the setting of your website.

Note: There will be subsections like Editor or Editor CSS at various places in the side bar. You need to ignore them unless you are a wordpress pro. These take you to the coding of the website and you may mess up something if you are a total newbie.

How To Install a WordPress Theme

  • In the side bar menu click appearance then click themes.
how to install a theme step 1
  • It will take you to the themes page.
  • Search a theme in the search box.
how to install a theme step 2
  • Once you have found your desired theme then install it by clicking the install button on the theme. This button is shown when you hover the cursor over the theme. Activate the theme and you are good to go.
  • You may customize the theme by going to Appearnce>Customize.

You have the option of using a free theme or a paid theme. There are a lot of excellent paid themes available in the market. For beginners, a free theme does pretty well. Just remember to select a mobile responsive theme. I have used Astra theme in the past and now I am using Ashe theme. I like both of them.

How To Add Plugins

Plugin is that software which add new features in the wordpress. For example there are plugins for creating; forms, social share buttons, backing up the website and many more functions.

  • In your wordpress dashboard click plugins. Then click ‘Add New’
how to install a plugin
  • You will be led to the following screen. In the search bar search for your desired plugin.
  • When you find the desired plugin, click ‘Install Now’ button on the plugin. (For the sake of an example, say you want to install Askimet Anti-Spam Plugin)

how to install a plugin step 1
  • Click Activate.
how to install a plugin step 1.1
  • Plugin will be activated and you will be taken to the he Installed plugins page. Then you can change the settings of the plugin if required by clicking ‘Settings’ on the plugin.
how to install a plugin step 2

Necessary Plugins To Have

Plugins are a useful part of wordpress but having too many of them might slow down your website. Here I am sharing with you necessary plugins for your website. All these plugins are either free or their free versions are enough to perform the required task.

  • Askimet Anti-Spam: There are ton of spam comments on blogs. This plugin keeps those at bay so that you don’t need to delete each one of those.
  • Yoast SEO: This is the most popular plugin for SEO. It helps to review each post and gives suggestions for optimizing the post for search engine optimization.
  • Top Bar: This plugin places a notification bar at the top of each blog post or page. I use Top Bar to collect emails for my email list.
  • Add To Share Buttons: This plugin adds social share buttons on blog posts. Readers can share a post on social media with these buttons.
  • Wordfence Security: This plugin will provide security to your website from hacking, fake bots, malware, unauthorized login attempts and more.
  • Add To Follow: This plugin adds buttons for your social media pages. You readers may follow you on your social media pages by clicking these buttons.
  • Cookie Notice: According To a law in Europe (GDPR) you need to take consent from your website visitors regarding their data. This plugin helps you to fufill that requirement.
  • Updraft Plus: This plugin creates a backup of your website. In case something bad happens and you lose the data of your website. You can recover it from that backup, any time.
  • Header and Footer: At times you might need to add a code in the header or the footer of your site. For someone who has no coding experience, this is a cumbersome and daunting task. This plugin helps you to to the required job in the matter of minute without any hassle.

How To Create A Page

You need to create static pages for your blog, like, About, Contact Us, Privacy policy and Disclosure.

  • The ‘About’ Page: If a reader reads your blog post and wants to know more about you she will come to this page. This page describes you in a way that your audience can connect with you.
  • The ‘Contact Us’ Page: If somebody wants to contact you they can contact you through this page. Usually, there is a contact form on this page. You can easily create a contact form by using a plugin.
  • The ‘Disclosure & Privacy Policy’ Page: As per the law you need to have this page especially if you are monetizing your blog.
  • The ‘Hire Me’ Page: If you want to sell your services then you need to have this page.

The best way to know how to create a compelling static page, say an ‘About’ page, is by having a look at the similar pages of your competitors. You do not need to copy them but you can always get ideas from them. Having a look at few such pages by the ‘A bloggers’ in your niche will help you to create your own static pages.

In order to create a static page technically, you need to proceed as under.

  • In the sidebar of wordpress dashboard, go to pages>Add New
how to create a page step 1
  • Enter the title of the page. Then create the body of the page with text and/or images.
  • When you are done preview the page by clicking the button on the top right corner. Finally, click publish.
how to create a page last step

How To Write a Blog Post in WordPress

  • In the side bar menu click ‘Posts’ and then ‘Add New’.
how to write new post step 1
  • You will be taken to this window. Here you can write your post.
  • An easier approach is to write your post in MS word or Google docs and then copy it from there and paste it here. I also write my posts in MS word and then paste it here once it’s complete.
how to write a post step 2

Change The Permalink Structure Before You Publish Your Post

Permalink structure decides how your blog post URL looks like. By default the post URL is https://yourdomain.com/2019/02/15/blog-post-title. Over time this date in the URL makes your post look old. Therefore change your permalink to https://yourdomain.com/blog-post-title. You may do that by proceeding as under.

  • Go to Settings and click permalinks
how to change permalinks
  • Click ‘Post name’ then click ‘Save Changes’ at the end of the page.
how to change permalink structure

Note: If you have already published content then don’t change your permalink structure. Doing so will leave you with broken links.

Bonus Tip # 1. How To Create A Content Strategy

Your blog is set up and you know the basics of wordpress, now what?

You will have to post content. But what type of content are you planning to create? Something unique?

Let me tell you one secret you don’t need to post something unique especially when you are starting out. Instead of creating something unique go for tried and tested method, that is the most popular content in your niche.

When I started my blog I wrote what I liked to write and didn’t write about the popular topics. I thought, “They are already written to death, why would somebody read my article on the same topic?” But I was making a huge mistake which caused a lot of frustration for me.

The thing is people read many articles on the same topic when they want to know something. Take your own example, how many ‘how to start a blog’ articles have you read? I am sure this one is not your first and won’t be the last one either.

So, what should you do?

What Content a Newbie Should Create?

  • Create the most popular content.
  • Make your blog content as a journey.
  • Create 3-4 pillar posts (In-depth version of the most popular articles in your niche) before promoting your blog.

How To Find the Most Popular Topics In Your Niche

A few ways to find the most popular topics are by:

  • Searching the topics with the most number of repins on Pinterest.
  • Checking the most popular articles in BuzzSumo.
  • Using Ubersuggest to find popular keywords in your Niche.
  • Installing Keywords Everywhere browser extension.
  • Check Answer The Public to know about the queries of your audience.

If you want to know more about the easiest method to find the most popular articles click here

How Make Content Creation a Journey?

Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. When your reader arrives at your blog, what she might like to read in your blog. For example you are writing about babies. What a potential reader might want to read in your blog?

Start from baby’s birth and then take the journey forward. Your blog post could be like:

  • How to breastfeed a newborn?
  • How to handle baby colic?
  • Baby sleep training.
  • Breastfed vs formula fed.
  • Handling diaper rash.
  • Baby milestones.
  • Introducing solid foods.
  • How to baby proof a house for a crawling baby.
  • The First Steps of a baby.

You get the idea, right?

When you plan content as a journey, you will know exactly what to write about in your blog.

Bonus Tip # 2. How To Promote Your Blog

In order to make your blog successful you need readers for your blog. To get those readers you will have to promote your blog. I am planning to write about this topic in detail soon. Here I am giving you a brief description of what you need to do to promote your blog as a new blogger.

  • Start Building Your Email List. Sign up with an email service and start building your email list. For beginning bloggers email services like MailChimp, Mailer Lite and Mailpoet are good options. These Email services have free packages up to 1000 subscribers. So you can start building your list without spending a dollar. Once you have subscribers then you can share your content with them right in their email box.
  • Share with Family and Friends. Share your content with your family and friends and ask them to share with their circle.
  • Share On Facebook Groups. Join Facebook groups in your niche. This will help you to know your audience better. Subsequently, you may share your relevant content there when somebody asks about a particular solution to a problem.
  • Share on Facebook Groups For Bloggers. There are a lot of groups for bloggers on facebook. Those groups have weekly promo days where you can share your content.
  • Set Up Social Media Pages. Set up social Media Pages For Your Blog and share your content there. As a beginner blogger, I recommend focussing on Pinterest first. Once you master that then you can set up another one and so on.
  • Guest Post. When you are new, writing for other established blogs help to give you the much-needed eyeballs. Start by Guest posting on a blog with a slightly bigger audience than yours then gradually move on to writing for bigger blogs.

So here you are my friends! Now you know how to start a blog, you have gone through the basics of WordPress, you know what to write about in your blog and you have an idea how to promote your blog. All the best for your blogging journey.

Relate article: Free Blogging Resources For New Bloggers That are Super Helpful

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