You want to start a blog but are not sure how to get started. You are in the right place to get the guidance you need.
In this article, I am going to walk you through the steps required to start a blog in 2021.
How to Start a Blog
Why do you Want to Start a Blog?
Why do you want to start a website or blog? There are different reasons you may want to start a blog.
You may want to start a blog to help produce a new stream of income, as a hobby, or just for the fun of it.
Starting a blog can be incredibly fun but it will take some hard work and learning new things. Anyone can do it and is good to have a goal and reason for starting a blog.
- What is your goal to earn extra money?
- Is it to save enough money for the end of the year vacation?
- Do you want to quit your 9-5-day job?
Try to dig deep and find out the real “why” so that you can perfectly align your goals. Today is a great day to start your blogging journey.
Pick a Niche
Once you are clear on why you want to start a blog, it is time now to choose a niche. After answering the #1 question, choosing your niche should be more straightforward depending on your reasons.
Picking a niche to make money is tougher than picking a niche for fun or as a cool hobby.
You need to settle on a niche that is something of interest and in line with your goals.
At this time, you will want to pick a niche that is not super competitive. If you pick a large niche like dating, weight loss, or investing it will be extremely hard to rank your articles in Google.
You need to niche down and pick niches that you can rank on in a quicker timeframe. Things like Christian Dating, HIIT Training for Weight Loss, and Vitamin C Serum.
Follow some Golden Rules when Picking a Niche:
- Make sure your niche has more than a sufficient traffic. When it comes to building a blog, you make money blogging by getting traffic.
- Niche down to make sure you can rank for the keywords in that niche. Do keyword research using SEMRush or LongTailPro.
- Your blog should be able to offer an answer to people’s problems. Write content that is highly informative and gives users searching for that term answers.
If your niche topic can meet the above rules, you can blog just about anything and achieve your goals.
Your first niche should be one that you are interested in, that you can provide expert advice on, or around a skill that you have.
Finally, the niche that you choose should have affiliate marketing potential.
Affiliate marketing involves blogs recommending products and services from other businesses to their audience. That recommendation will earn you a commission if someone buys.
Here are the really hard and popular niches. I would stay away from them unless you have patients and money to build them large.
Choose a Domain
A domain name is the URL of your website and is the address with which your website will be found on the web. It is like your physical home address. Example blog’s address https://BeaconInside.com is a URL.
When choosing a domain name, there are a few ways to find the best blog name.
Exact Match Domains:
This would be whatever your niche is the domain name would have the exact keywords. If you start a blog on kayaking, then you would want to pick a blog name like kayaking.com.
Partial Match Domain:
A partial match is where you pick a domain name that has a keyword in it but not all the words are your keyword. Let us say you are starting a blog on water sports. Your website with a partial match domain could be ExtremeWaterSports.com
You can also just pick a domain that really has no link to the niche. This is what Amazon did when they chose their name. Before Amazon, the online business came around amazon was known as a rainforest.
Personal Brand Name:
You can use your name to create a personal blog. Many people do it and are successful but there are pros and cons to doing this. Make sure you weigh your options.
Currently, it is hard to find domains with only one or two words. Now you must use three, four, or five words to find a domain.
You can get a free domain name sometimes from the hosting company you sign up with. They recoup the cost of the domain through the hosting plan fees.
Bluehost offers a free domain the first year if you sign up for their web hosting. You can check out the free domain plan from Bluehost.
- Always use a .com
- Try not to use words that are hard to spell
- If you want to sell the online business down the road do not use your personal name as a domain name
- When registering a domain name, do not use hyphens and numbers
- Your blog name should be easy to remember and as short as possible
You can go to these websites to help you find a domain name to pick. I would not register my domain at these sites just use them to find a domain.
To Register a Domain, We Recommend:
Another thing that I should mention about domain names is domain extensions. There are numerous domain extensions out there, the common ones being .com, .net, .org, and country codes such as .us, .uk, and .jp for U.S., U.K, and Japan.
Let me stress this again try hard to just get a .com custom domain.
After selecting the domain name, the next thing to do is to choose your web host provider.
What is a hosting provider? This is a business that offers the know-how and services required for the website to be viewed on the web or the internet. Websites and their pages are stored on machines called servers.
A lot will be riding on the type of hosting provider you choose, including the security and performance of your website. You need to select a reliable web hosting provider.
Your site should always be up and running no matter the time of the day.
There are many hosting companies out there but narrowing down to the most reliable can be tricky.
Here are the hosting companies we recommend based on what you are looking for when setting up your website. You can also check out our hosting review page.
DreamHost is one of our top picks as a web hosting company. They were founded in 1996 so the company has been around for a long time. I use DreamHost and have had no issues the last year. I did read some reviews where sites did experience some issues with DreamHost but all web hosting companies have their issues.
If you have a WordPress blog or website you can use BlueHost. This is one of the top providers for a WordPress built website. They host over 2 million websites so they are doing things the right way. Give it a try if you are building a WordPress blog or website. You just need to set up a Bluehost account to get started.
I used HostGator for 10 years plus. I had no real issues with the service and customer service was good. The only problem was my website speeds and the cost kept going up. This is when I switched to DreamHost.
They are good with shared hosting if that is what you need. You will not go wrong using HostGator, especially for shared hosting.
What is shared hosting: This is where many websites reside on a single server.
You should use Hostinger if you want cheap hosting and if you want to do cloud hosting. Hostinger does cloud hosting very well.
What is cloud hosting: Instead of just having a website on one server the cloud is a network of physical and virtual servers. This helps with flexibility and scalability.
Siteground has been known for being the best web hosting for WooCommerce. So if you are looking to start an eCommerce website, this could be an ideal host provider.
As you can see above, the company features three pricing models to suit your current scalability. Their customer service team is hard to get ahold of, so if you have any issues you may be on the phone for a long time.
Add WordPress to Build your Website
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
If you are not careful, you may think WordPress.com and WordPress.org are the same, but there is a big difference.
WordPress.com is just a single explicit “website as a service” built on the actual WordPress platform. You would build a website on their blogging platform.
WordPress.org is the actual software that you can download freely to a hosted website. Doing this provides you with the ability to modify, organize, delete, publish, edit and maintain content all in one place.
Interestingly, you can build a website on both platforms.
Below is a detailed comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
We are now getting to some technical stuff.
We suggest you use WordPress.org to build your website or blog. The main reason is you have full control, over every aspect of your website.
Installing WordPress on your Server/Host
We will show you how to install WordPress in just a few clicks for DreamHost and BlueHost.
DreamHost WordPress Install
This hosting provider has a one-click install so it is easy. Let us begin.
The shared hosting on DreamHost allows for one-click installation.
1st visit the DreamHost control panel and it will look like this.
2nd from the list of options pick WordPress then fill in the fields marked with red arrow
Once done you should have confirmation emails it was installed and you need to make sure you have a username and password to login to the back end of the WordPress dashboard. The backend is where you can edit and build your website.
It will look like the picture below.
BlueHost WordPress Install
- Click on the My Sites tab from the side navigation menu to the left.
- Click the Create Site button.
3. New windows appear for two highly recommended website builders.
4. Click the Start Building button under the WordPress option.
Select a Theme
This is an easy yet overwhelming part of this process because there is literally an infinite amount of both premium and free WordPress themes for your blog.
The WordPress theme you pick for your website will determine the overall appearance, style, and feel.
This means that the new theme that you choose will decide such things as the layout, color scheme as well as style elements of your website.
In essence, the WordPress theme is key for the look of your brand and affects the interaction between your website and the audience.
When it comes to choosing the theme of your website, always keep it simple. No need for some fancy features, flash animations, and all sorts of bells and whistles. You can get a free theme but you have to make sure your website speed remains high.
Sites built with too much flash can easily take the attention of the visitor away from the call-to-action and can be a pain for users to navigate via mobile devices.
A great website theme should have support available from the developer, including documentation and live chats.
Recommended WordPress Themes:
1. GeneratePress Theme – We use this theme because it is lightweight, amazingly fast loading, and easy to use. You need a fast website, and this theme will get you that.
I bought the Pro features because I needed to add some design elements to my site.
You can easily just use the free GeneratePress theme and it will work fine. Get familiar with Gutenberg and you can use that with the basic theme builder to make a great website.
2. StudioPress Theme – Another fast theme that I have not used but is worth looking into.
3. OceanWP Theme – An exceptionally good and fast theme.
After installing the best theme, the next thing you should do is install some key plugins. A WordPress plugin is like an app but for your WordPress website.
Plugins allow you to add such features as a slideshow, contact form, shopping cart, SEO analysis, and much more.
There are tens of thousands of paid and free plugins available for WordPress.
If you decided to use WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org, you cannot install plugins to your site unless you upgrade it to a business plan.
However, you can install any plug on a self-hosted site.
How to Install Plugins in WordPress
There are two different ways you can use to install plugins to your website. The first way is you can search and install plugins by selecting them.
The second way is to download a plugin zip file and manually upload it.
Installing Plugins using Plugin Search
This is the easiest way to install a plugin on your site. Log in to your WordPress dashboard and click Plugins on the left-hand column (1 in the picture). Click add new and type the name (2 in the picture) of the plugin on the search box at the top right.
The search result will include several listings.
Pick the plugin that you wanted by recognizing the developer or logo and clicking “Install Now” on the right.
The plugin will be downloaded and installed. Once it is installed, you will see the “Activate” button, meaning you need to activate it for it to start functioning.
Note that this method of installing a plugin is only applicable if the plugin is free.
The final step in this method is configuring the plugin settings, which vary from one plugin to another.
As I have mentioned in the first method, paid plugins are not found in the WordPress plugin directory, meaning you cannot search and install them as in the first method.
Luckily there is an option to upload a plugin manually to your WordPress site in the admin area. In fact, it is in the same place as the first method, but instead of searching for a plugin you click “Upload Plugin”.
So, log in to your admin area and scroll down to Plugins on the left, click Add New, and click “Upload Plugin”. (1 in the picture below)
Assuming you have already downloaded your plugin from the web and into your computer, you will be able to upload the plugin to WordPress directly.
Click the “Install Now” button to install the plugin.
Just like in the first method, you will also need to activate the plugin before you start using it and configure the settings.
When starting a blog or website, make sure you install the following plugins.
- Yoast or All-in-One-SEO – Optimize your site for SEO
- W3 Total Cache – Speeds up your website
- All in One WP Security – Makes your site secure from hackers
- Short Pixel Image Optimizer – Optimizes your images
- WP Forms Lite – Creates a contact form
- Scriptless Social Sharing – Add social sharing buttons
- Google Analytics for WordPress by Monster Insights – Add Google Analytics account
Caution: Adding too many plugins will slow your website down so just do the bare minimum you need.
How to Create a Blog Post
Now it is time to create the first blog post for your website.
But before creating your first content, you need to do a little keyword search. Keyword search is basically the process of finding any possible keyword search engine queries that might be relevant to your blog niche and clients.
Come up with a list of relevant topics centered on what people are searching for online. You also want to use your website or WordPress blog to help people to answer questions.
For instance, if one of your main keywords is “Personal Finance” you can write a new blog post on “Personal Finance Tips forSeniors.”
After finding these keywords, you will then have to sort and arrange them into coherent, related groups that can guide you when creating your first WordPress blog content.
So, the first step is collecting all the keywords and putting them in a list. When gathering your keyword, try to capture the following data for each keyword:
- Monthly search volume
- The keyword current rank
Once you have a list of topics and relevant keywords, it is time to understand which keywords you can rank for the fastest. Then you come up with which blog post ideas you want to start writing.
Check out the excel sheet below on a few words we looked up doing keyword research for the keywords going to college:
You can see that words like ACT and SAT have a difficulty score that is high. You would not want to write an article on The ACT College test because it would be too hard to rank for with a new website.
The closer to 100 in the difficulty column the harder it is to rank.
Look at the second set of keywords below. If you wanted to rank for ACT you would look at long-tail keywords like “What is a good ACT score?” The difficulty level is 28 which would be much easier to rank for when trying to get on page one of Google.
Another easy one is “How to study for the ACT?” which has a score of 9.
|what is a good act score||28||7200|
|what is the act||56||2800|
|what is the average act score||20||2300|
|what is the act test||52||1800|
|how to study for the act||9||1700|
To get difficulty and volume as you see from the above excel sheets you need to use keyword tools such as SEMRush or LongTailPro. You can see if these have a free trial and then sign up. Once you sign up just copy as many different keyword searches for your niche as you can.
Save the keyword spreadsheets in excel or Google docs. Then cancel the service before you get charged the full amount.
You can use free tools such as Google Keyword Planner or just do searches on Google to see what keywords they suggest. A Google search to find keywords does not give difficulty or volume, but it is free.
See below when we type in finance tips, we get Google suggesting other keywords.
How to Pick Long-Tail Keywords
Unlike keywords, long-tail keywords usually have low competition levels and search volumes. And as the name suggests, they tend to be longer, 3 or more words long.
You can easily find long-tail keywords by using Google Autocomplete as shown above.
The last thing about writing blog posts, make sure that the post and page length is between 1,500 to 5,000 words long. You should also incorporate graphs, statistics, pictures, and videos to keep the reader engaged.
The next step is to get started and write your first blog post. You do not need to have the best post you just need to start writing and create new blog posts every week.
Also known as on-site SEO, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your web pages to enhance your website’s ranking on search engines and earn organic traffic.
This usually includes creating relevant, high-quality content as well as including such things as optimizing the headlines of your posts, images, and HTML tags.
One practice to avoid is what we call keyword stuffing in a post or page. This is where you repeat the keyword too much in the blog post. Google will not rank your post well if you stuff in too many keywords.
There is no exact percentage, but you can use SurferSEO and it will guide you on the words needed in the post. I currently use SurferSEO on my content.
Internal Link Building
Internal link building is also another practice that can boost your on-site SEO and boost the ranking performance of your site.
An internal link is a link from one page on your site to another page on your site. It helps users find more relevant content on your website without searching for you leaving your site.
If you installed the Yoast SEO plugin, it would make the task of optimizing your site’s onsite SEO easier.
Yoast SEO plugin comes with an array of features that optimize your site. For instance, it has a built-in content analysis, XML sitemaps, Meta keywords description management, social features, and more.
We do not get every single metric in Yoast to green. We do the best we can and if mostly yellow and green you should be good.
Off-Page SEO is the opposite of on-page SEO, and it refers to any practices that you undertake away from your site to enhance its ranking on search engines.
This includes link building, guest posting, building trust, social media, and blog commenting.
This type of SEO is important as it informs Search engines that your site is important to other websites on the web.
Link building is the backbone of off-page SEO due to the weight and importance of links in the Google ranking algorithm. For you to link one of your web pages to another quality website, your website should have authority. Authority is simply trusted. Your website should be trusted by users, other websites, and industry experts.
Here are the pages you must create for your website to look like a legitimate business.
Home Page Layout We Use
You can look at our home page to see how we set up our design for optimizing an authority website.
We have our logo then our links to the main pages. The large Hero section shows visitors what the website is about. Then below that, you have the featured posts pages.
Below the featured posts, you have a section for the latest posts. The next section would be your footer.
Review Page Layout
You need to check out our review pages to see if that is a design that will work for you.
About Us Page Layout
The about us page needs to be really built out. You need to really add several people and their backgrounds on the page. You want to look bigger than a one-person show. Use profiles from people working for you or working as virtual assistants. You can make up a virtual staff.
Add an address and a Google phone number. Make this a real business.
Contact Us Page
We use the plugin, WP Forms Lite. You can find this plugin by going to our plugin section and following the guide on uploading plugins.
You can check out our contact us page to see how we set it up.
Privacy and policy page
The website we have listed for privacy and policy pages you can also use to create one for legal policies.
Legal Policies Page
To help you create a legal policy for your website you can use it.
You can use this link to help create the cookie consent for your website.
Track and Analyze
You need to track your keywords and the ranking. You can use SEMRush to track your website and keyword ranking.
Analyze the data weekly to adjust and beat your competitors. You can log into your Google account to use the Google console to help you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website’s view in the Google search results.
Ranking Your Website
You must get backlinks from other authority websites to give your site authority, so the articles you write will be able to rank easier.
The best way to do this is by guest posting.
Guest posting is where you reach out to websites with a high domain rank that is in your same niche. You reach out to see if you can write a great post for them and in return for providing them great content for their readers, they give you a do-follow link back to your site.
There are several ways to build links to your website to increase your ranking. We mentioned guest posting above but there are several other ways to get links.
On-Going Work on Your Blog
You need to remain consistent with your blog. It is a business if you want to monetize and make money with it.
To be a successful blogger you need to consistently do the tasks below:
- Post weekly – add new blog content at least once a week or twice a month
- Update your WordPress plugins when you see the update now button
- Keep your WordPress account version up to date, you will get alerts on this
- Do an audit on your affiliate links and monitor backlinks
- Negotiate better affiliate payouts
- Gather emails using an email marketing tool like Aweber
- Find other blogs to do guest blog posts
- Do your website SEO – search engine optimization
- Set up your social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube
Cost of Starting a Successful Blog
- Hosting Cost – $30 to $100 just depends on what plan you buy. We recommend using a self hosted blog and using a host provider such as DreamHost, Hostinger, or BlueHost.
- Blog Theme Cost – You can use a free theme, but most themes cost around $40 to $70 a year if you want support. I use GeneratePress Pro which is $59 yearly. You can look for free themes on WordPress.
- BackLinks – This can be expensive it just depends on if you go out and get backlinks yourself or pay a company to do them.
- Plugins – Plugins are usually free, and you should not have to pay for the basic plugins you need.
- eMail Marketing – If you gather emails you will need to sign-up for an email marketing company. As your personal blog grows you want to start an email list, but many email marketing companies offer free until you get so many subscribers. We have used ActiveCampaign for many of our sites. When you opt in for higher eMail plans the cost is between $10 to $100 dollars a month dependent on the plan you pick.