Let me guess: you’re keen to get on the blogging bandwagon. You’ve got a passion for writing, followed other blogs for years and decided now’s the time to set up your own.
If so, you’re probably wondering how on earth to get going.
I get it. I mean, there are so many things to think about, from your niche to website host.
Whether you’re looking to monetise your blog one day, fancy practising your writing skills to become a freelance blogger or just want a new hobby, this guide will walk you through how to start a blog as a beginner.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Find a Niche You Love to Write About
How to start a blog 101: choose your niche, i.e. the subject area or industry your blog will focus on.
Perhaps it’s an industry you’d like to learn about or you’re currently studying. Maybe it’s a burning passion of yours that you’ve had since you were a wee kid. Alternatively, it could be a subject that you class yourself as an expert in.
From mental health to nutrition, technology to science, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to picking your niche – and who says you have to even stick to just one?
(For example, my other blog Trendy Tourist focuses on my two main passions of fashion and travel.)
That said, whichever subject(s) you choose, make sure you will still enjoy writing about it (or them) for years to come. Otherwise, you’ll lose that blogging bug faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
2. Brainstorm Ideas for Posts
Finding your niche might be half the battle when it comes to how to start a blog. However, alongside your niche, you need to be able to continuously come up with blog post topics.
You might find yourself simply rolling with it in the beginning and writing about the first thing that pops into your head.
Having said that, what you want to write about isn’t always what your reader wants to read about.
During the idea generation process, you should do these three things:
- Consider your target audience and their pain points
- The search terms they’re inputting on Google
- Try and solve a problem with every blog post you write
This will ensure that you’re creating useful and valuable content for your target audience, which will then establish trust.
And what happens when your readers trust you? They become loyal to you and your blog – and will engage for years to come.
Pro tip: Struggling to come up with ideas? Use an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) keyword research tool like Answer The Public that shows you tons of variations of what people search for based on a main keyword.
3. Keep Your Ideas Somewhere Safe
When I used to generate blog post ideas originally, I sat down with a pen, paper and a huge spider diagram – and then just let those spidey legs keep a-coming.
Nowadays, I swear by the notes section on my phone when I’m not at my desk and my “Blog Post Ideas” spreadsheet when I am at my desk.
Either way, the principle is the same: always write down ideas for future posts as and when they come to you. Otherwise, you WILL forget them. Trust me.
4. Create Pillar Posts
Once you’ve got some solid ideas and you’re ready to start the writing part, pick out 3-5 blog topics that you think would be the most beneficial for your reader.
These are called pillar posts, and should be big and meaty, useful and actionable, well-written and engaging.
Simply write them in Word or Pages while you’re working on getting your website in place. Then, once your blog is live, you can just upload them and publish them straight away.
Pro tip: Some bloggers prefer to wait until they’ve got 10+ posts live before they make their blogs public. However, you don’t have to. If you’re brave enough, you can go live straight away!
5. Source High-Quality Photos
As well as amazing copy, you’re going to want to include photographs in your blog posts – right? After all, visuals can really help blog content come to life (as well as break up big chunks of text).
Are you planning on monetising your blog one day and working with brands on sponsored posts? In this case, I recommend following these tips:
- Invest in good photography equipment. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the latest technology – just something that takes high-quality photos. I enjoy taking photos on my DSLR, but I also like whipping out my iPhone whenever there’s a relevant opportunity. It’s handy like that.
- Edit your photos to maximise their appeal. Of course, you don’t have to do this. But if you want them to look more professional, stand out amongst the competition and improve the quality of your content, it’s a good idea to give them a little bit of a nip and tuck.
Pro tip: There are plenty of photo editing programs out there, but I swear by Adobe Lightroom.
Alternatively, if you’re just blogging for fun or as a way to generate website traffic so that you can sell a product or service, you can just use free stock photos to help you with your blog post narrative.
Two of my personal favourites are Pexels and Unsplash.
Pro tip: Invest in paid stock photos if you don’t want to use the same images as everybody else. Try Styled Stock Society for affordable yet dreamy stock photos.
6. Choose Your Platform Wisely
The age-old question when it comes to how to start a blog: do I choose WordPress as my website host? Or do I choose another platform like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly?
It’s really up to you to decide which one best suits your needs. Nevertheless, if you want to blog for business purposes and have a set goal in mind to monetise your blog or use it as a portfolio for your chosen career path, I highly recommend self-hosting via WordPress.org.
Sure, this process might be a little tricky to get your head around as a beginner blogger. However, it’s super worth the aggro for the following reasons:
- It means you completely own and control your blog
- You don’t have to worry about your platform suddenly shutting down and losing all your content
- Anything and everything is customisable
- You have constant, on-hand help from your platform’s readily available team of experts
Pro tip: I own and run two blogs via self-hosting platform SiteGround (*) because the customer service team is amazing and they make the transition process so easy!
Not sure if you want to invest in your blog straight away? You could always get started using a free platform (like Blogger or WordPress.com) and then switch to self-hosting later on in the game. That said, when you do switch over, make sure you choose SiteGround (*). I guarantee you won’t regret it.
7. Create Your Theme and Branding
Once you’ve got your website functioning, consider which design or “theme” you’d like to use for your blog.
WordPress.com and Blogger provide basic free themes with simple layouts. However, if you’re serious about making your blog a success and want to give it an upgrade, opt for a more complex paid theme from a theme provider.
Pro tip: I use the BluChic theme “ChicServe” (*) for this website and I couldn’t be happier. BluChic offer a number of pretty, feminine themes for business and blog owners, which you can check out here (*).
If you want to come across as a professional and sincere blogger, you should also consider creating a name, logo and colour palette to create a memorable brand that will set you apart from your competition.
8. Buy Your Own Domain Name
Once you’ve got into the hang of how to start a blog, you might want to purchase your own domain name.
This means that you’d have your own customised URL as opposed to having to feature your website’s host name within the URL (i.e. http://www.trendytourist.co.uk instead of http://www.trendytourist.blogspot.com).
To change your domain name, merely visit a domain provider’s website – again, I recommend SiteGround‘s self-hosting package (*) – and purchase the variation that you want.
Usually, this purchase is in the form of an annual subscription that automatically renews each year, and it’s certainly worth doing if you’re serious about making living from blogging.
Why? Well, it literally shows that you mean business.
9. Devise a Content Schedule
As time passes by, you’ll continue to learn more about how to start a blog and successfully manage it.
You’ll want to hit “publish” more frequently, reach a wider audience and grow the following of your blog. And to do this, you need to plan out in advance when exactly you’re going to post alongside and what you’re going to post.
Why? Well, your readers will start returning to your blog for new content regularly. If you don’t deliver or you become inconstant with your publishing schedule, they might not bother visiting your blog again.
To devise a content schedule, ask yourself:
- Are you going to post once a week, once a month, twice a week or twice a month?
- What day of the week are you going to post on? Friday, just in time for the weekend? Sunday, because everyone will be off work?
- How far in advance do you want to write, upload and schedule blog posts?
Make these decisions early on and try to stick to them to be classed as consistent and reliable in your readers’ eyes.
After all, if your readers know exactly when to expect new content, this will help you to build relationships and establish trust, which will ensure that they keep returning to your blog. Happy days.
10. Promote Your Posts Religiously
Now you’re almost fully clued up on how to start your blog, let’s talk about blog post promotion.
The hard work doesn’t stop once you click that all-important “publish” button.
After all, if you’re taking the time to write and publish blog posts continuously on the internet, you naturally want the maximum amount of people to read them. If you’re blogging for business purposes, an increased number of eyeballs then leads to an increased number of clicks, subscribers and sales.
A good way to get the maximum amount of traffic to your blog is to promote each post through social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, in particular, are great tools for getting the word out when it comes to new content.
For every blog post that you publish, create at least three pieces of content to promote it on each social media channel during the seven days that follow.
Pro tip: use appropriate hashtags at the end of a promotional post on each channel to reach a wider audience and generate further engagement.
How to Start a Blog You Love
It’s challenging figuring out how to start a blog so that it stands out in today’s competitive digital landscape.
The act of blogging itself is time-consuming and you need to be extremely driven to keep it going – even on days where you feel like you’ve got no motivation to write, your page views are dwindling and you can’t for the life of you figure out how to tweak that widget on your homepage.
(Hey, we’ve all been there!)
Yes, it’s hard work. It’s draining. And it takes time to start seeing growth.
But, when you do start seeing growth, it’s also incredibly rewarding. It has the feel-good factor when you get traction, knowing that you’re helping people with your content. Plus, it’s a great validation of your blogging ability if you want to do it for a living.
Personally, now I’ve got the blogging bug, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to pre-blogging life. And I bet there are plenty of other bloggers out there who would say the same.
Have my tips provided you with clarity when it comes to how to start a blog? Or do you need help with something else? Let me know in the comments!