How to start a blog for beginners

How to Start a Blog for Beginners [2020]

Starting a blog is a great way to share your experiences and knowledge. If that is all that you are interested in, excellent. Start a blog and blog away!

However, my goal on this site is to teach others how to generate money.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. Please read my disclaimer for further details.

So you want to start a blog

Maybe your blog niche is a profitable one.

Excellent!

But if you are going to rely on it to live off of, you need to ensure it is. It may be challenging to make money blogging, even if you are passionate about it.

On the other hand, it is easy to become passionate about your blog if it is generating income.

Starting a blog can be very time-intensive. Especially early on. It also takes time to build an audience; however, there are ways to help accelerate that growth.

In addition to the article below, please refer to our Toolkit to find some useful tools for blogging and expanding your online business. Also read the post on essential tips for new bloggers.

Blog Topic

When you are starting a blog, the first thing you need to do is figure out a topic for your blog. To determine what your blog is going to be about:

  1. Create a list of potential blog topics
  2. Perform keyword research – this will help you assess demand, as well as potential profitability
  3. Rank your list and decide what is the best fit for you

Again, you can blog about whatever you want. But if you're going to monetize your blog, make sure you do the legwork of researching your topics.

One other important consideration is how evergreen your topic is. That means will it be relevant in five years or will it be irrelevant tomorrow.

Once you have a large volume of blog posts and articles, it is much easier to rely on the passive nature of an evergreen blog. You still need to keep it up-to-date and maintain it.

But if you write about current events or popular movies in theaters now, it is going to require a lot more work staying current than if you have a blog about woodworking.

Start a Blog – Step by Step

For the most part, anyone should be able to start a blog on their own. There can be a few technical issues you'll need to work thru, but resources are typically available with a quick Google search.

And if you still need help, reach out to other bloggers or find someone on Fiverr. Most bloggers have been where you are and are more than willing to help you out.

So now that you know what you are going to blog to the world about let's get you online.

There are other routes you can take to create a blog. However, this post is going to focus on starting a blog with WordPress and BlueHost. Using these tools is the easiest and quickest way for a beginner to get blogging successfully.

Getting a Domain Name

Chances are you are not going to be able to get a domain name for yourniche.com. But check just to be sure.

And finding a .com website is difficult.

But I recommend you try and come up with a .com name that is still available. There are other top-level domains (that is what the extension of a web page is), but they aren't as recognizable or popular and can be confusing to your audience.

So unless there is an excellent reason to use another one that works with your niche, do your best to find a .com domain.

Here are a few resources for finding a domain name:

  • Website host provider – you can check names for availability and purchase them along with hosting (see next section)
  • Instant Domain Search – allows you to check names for availability and has a name generator as well
  • Name Mesh – you can enter multiple terms related to your niche, and it will generate suggestions and let you know if the domain is available

Once you have an available name for your domain, you can buy it from several sites. You don't have to host it with the same company from where you purchase it.

However, typically the first domain name is included for free when you buy hosting from a company like Bluehost.

Website Hosting

There are several options available for hosting your website. Some of the criteria to consider include:

  • Security
  • Backups
  • Email
  • Control panel
  • Scalability

For starting a blog, I recommend creating a WordPress blog on Bluehost. It is an ideal host for WordPress blogs, and wordpress.org recommends you use it as well.

WordPress.com is not the same thing. Please see the section below discussing the difference between WordPress and WordPress.com. 

Set up Hosting on Bluehost

To get started, go to Bluehost and click on the “Get Started” button.
1 Welcome to Bluehost How to Start a Blog for Beginners [2020]

After clicking on Get Started, you'll see the different hosting options available.

Bluehost Plans

As you can see, you can host your site for as little as $3.95/month. And that includes a free domain for the first year.

After selecting your plan, you'll be directed to this screen to set up your domain:

Bluehost Domain Set up
Bluehost Domain Set up

If you already have a domain, you can enter it in the box on the right. I'm assuming most of you don't, so for you, enter the domain you'd like in the box on the left.

If it isn't available, the next screen will let you know, and you can search again or select an alternative suggested for you.

Once you have an available domain, you'll need to fill in your personal information and the Package Information below.

Bluehost Options
Bluehost Options

I suggest you select the 36-month plan because this will give you the largest discount.

As far as Package Extras, I recommend deselecting all but the Domain Privacy Protection.

Domain Privacy Protection will keep your personal information private in the whois database. That database is visible to anyone on the internet and shows the owner of every domain.

With Domain Privacy Protection, you will still be the owner, but Bluehost will be listed in the database to protect your information.

After you enter your payment information, agree to the terms of service, and hit Submit, you'll have to set up a password.

Bluehost create password screen

You can also use Google Single Sign-On (there is an option for this earlier in the process as well).

Bluehost Setup Summary
  1. Go to Bluehost and click on the “Get Started” button.
  2. Select your plan.
  3. Enter your domain information.
  4. Enter your Account Information, choose your Package Information/Extras, and enter your Payment Information.
  5. Create your password.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.
How to Start a Blog for Beginners [2020]

WordPress vs. WordPress.com to Start a Blog

You should also be aware of the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. It can be a bit confusing.

WordPress

WordPress is the free, open-source content management system software that about a third of all websites around the world use.

WordPress.org is where you can download the WordPress software, learn about it, and learn about other tools like plugins and free templates for your WordPress site.

When you use WordPress with your hosting (like Bluehost), it is self-hosting.

After you complete the setup steps above, Bluehost will walk you through setting up WordPress on your site. It is a simple process.

Being self-hosted, this gives you the freedom to customize your site and use your website how you want. And any monetization of your site results in revenue for you and nobody else.

Along with the ability to customize, comes the need to have some more technical skills than a hosted solution. But there is plenty of support to get you what you need, including this site.

And with Bluehost, the initial installation of WordPress is accomplished by clicking on one button.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is hosted.

Unless you are on a more expensive plan, your customization options are limited.

And if you want to monetize your site, you will be limited in what you can do, and you'll be sharing your revenue with WordPress.com.

Additionally, your domain name will be yoursitename.wordpress.com. You won't have a personalized domain name.

If you are creating a personal blog, WordPress.com can be a great option. But to create an online business, I recommend you don't use WordPress.com. It is just too limiting.

Themes for Starting a Blog

A theme determines how your website will appear.

You shouldn't be too focused on this early on, but you do want your website to look good. The most important thing when you start a blog is getting your site set up and creating some quality content.

Bluehost Theme Selection

Bluehost will ask you to select a theme. You can take your time and choose something you like or pick one and move on at this point.

You can always change your theme later.

There are several themes available for WordPress. Some are specifically built for bloggers. You can find several sites with available themes.

One I recommend is Superb Themes. They have free and premium themes available. Another excellent resource for themes is StudioPress.

You should be fine with a free one for now, but you'll have to decide if you need the additional features a premium theme can provide. I suggest you try out the free version first to get started.

Bluehost cPanel

After selecting your theme, you'll be directed to the screen above to help you get your website built.

Page Builder

Another option to give you more flexibility is to use a page builder. A page builder can work in conjunction with your theme.

I like to use Elementor. It is a great tool that provides a great deal of flexibility when building your site.

There is a free version of Elementor as well as a pro version that gives you even more features.

There are also plugins built just for Elementor that add additional functionality to your site like Element Pack Pro.

Website Structure

When creating a blog, the main thing you consider is blog posts. However, you need other pages on your website, including:

  • Home
  • About
  • Contact Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Disclaimer

You may also have a “Start Here” page depending on how your home page is set up and how you'd like to direct people around your site.

A great resource to create your Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, and Disclaimer is TermsFeed. TermsFeed asks you questions about your blog and creates the policies for you. All you have to do is copy and paste it into the applicable pages on your site.

Along with your homepage, there is a setting in WordPress to assign the page for your blog posts to reside.

You'll want to ensure your site is easy to navigate around through the use of menus and sidebars. The sidebars can include recent posts, categories, and signup forms.

An excellent tool for creating your logo is Looka. Once you create a logo with Looka, you'll have different formats for different uses, including social media, business cards, and much more.

If you need any help creating custom graphics, a logo, or setting up your blog, Fiverr is a great resource to freelance professionals waiting to help you out.

Maintaining a Blog

The great thing about starting a blog is that once the structure of the website is built, the site itself doesn't require much upkeep.

From time to time, you may want to make some tweaks, but otherwise, you'll just be creating blog posts.

When you create blog posts, WordPress will insert them right into your website.

You should submit your new blog posts to be indexed using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools along with these other tasks.

Additionally, make sure you set up and use Google Analytics to track your site's progress.

Blogging Frequency

How often you publish new posts can vary depending on what you blog about and how established your blog is. If it is about an evergreen topic, the time between posts can be longer than if it is about things that change on a daily or weekly basis.

Additionally, when you start a blog, your site won't have much content, so you'll want to post more frequently. I'd recommend at least twice a week initially.

Either way, having a content plan/schedule is a good idea. The most important thing is to ensure you are publishing quality content. If that means you don't post as frequently, then so be it.

The old cliche quality over quantity is undoubtedly true in blogging.

Driving Traffic

Quality Content

I can't stress this enough. Having quality content on your blog is vital to being successful.

People will not come back or share your material if it isn't valuable to them.

Another important aspect of quality content is to be link-worthy. To get organic traffic from Google, you want to gain backlinks from authority sites in your niche.

You don't have to produce every piece, but you should review it or have an editor to ensure it meets your standards.

Additionally, having excellent grammar is extremely important. An awesome tool to use to help with this is Grammarly. It is like having a proofreader looking over your shoulder as you write.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In addition to writing quality posts, it is important to incorporate SEO into your website. Without it, you will likely not rank in search engines.

While it can take longer than social media to drive traffic to your site, the organic traffic from SEO is much more reliable long term traffic.

So it is important to incorporate SEO from the start. SEMrush is an excellent tool to assist you with your SEO and keyword research.

Guest Posts

Doing guest posts on other people's sites helps you gain credibility with others and also provides the ability to give your site visibility.

More importantly, it will help build backlinks to your help that can help with your ranking on Google.

To be able to do guest posts, you'll need to reach out to several blogs. And, be aware, you likely won't hear back from a majority of them.

Networking

Reaching out to other bloggers in your niche, commenting on their posts, and attending blogger conferences are great ways to connect with others and build your credibility.

While this isn't a direct link to your audience, it can lead to acknowledgment from them, which can help expand your audience.

Social Media

Having social media accounts for your blog is a good idea. It gives your audience another way to connect and share your material.

You can also configure it so that new blog posts are pushed to your social media accounts when they are published.

While you should sign up for all of the different social media platforms to make sure nobody claims your name, I recommend focusing your efforts on a single platform to start out. If you try and manage them all at first, you'll be spreading yourself out too thin.

If you are established and comfortable with a specific platform, you probably want to focus on that one to start. But you may want to consider the following.

However, if you are new, I highly recommend using Pinterest to drive traffic to your new site.

Pinterest is more like a search engine than social media. People go to Pinterest to find content, not to socialize with others.

Additionally, you can use a tool like Tailwind to automate a lot of what you need to do on Pinterest. With Tailwind, you can schedule your pins to post at optimal times in the future. This will minimize how much time you need to devote to social media so you can focus on other areas of your blog.

Ads

While you can use Ads to drive people to your site, I'm don't think it is the most useful method. Similar to advertisements on your website for monetization (see below), I think a lot of people have become blind to the ads that show up in search results and on sites. But it may work for you.

Related:
Starting a Blog in Difficult Times
Tips for Increasing Blog Traffic

Monetization When You Start a Blog

There is conflicting advice about when to start monetizing a blog.

Having a large audience will maximize your monetization potential. However, I recommend starting with some Affiliate Marketing and possibly ads from early on.

This will give you time to figure it out. And while you won't be making much money early on, you won't make any if there isn't any opportunity for your readers to click on anything.

Just don't be spammy about it. Make sure it makes sense when you promote something and don't overdo it.

Email List

The email list is one of the most critical aspects of monetizing your blog. Do not underestimate the power of your email list. It is your own personal audience.

An audience that chose to listen to you.

Meaning a captivated group of people that are more likely to invest in your advice, products, courses, or all of the above!

The best tool for managing your email list is Convertkit. It is a robust solution that is easy to use and creates fantastic email automation.

Ads

There are several ad networks you can join to create some extra revenue from your site. However, if you decide to put ads on your website, please don't overdo it.

When I go to a site that is essentially spam for ads, I am quick to click away.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs allow you to receive a commission for promoting other's products.

There are affiliate programs available for just about everything. However, I recommend you only promote products you use, you believe in, and that are relevant to your niche.

If you want to learn how to do affiliate marketing the right way, I highly recommend the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.

Digital Products

Once you have a good subscriber base to your email list, digital products can be an excellent tool for generating income.

Free digital products can also be used to build your email list.

Digital books, courses, checklists, how-tos are all products you can use on your site.

Sponsored Posts

Writing sponsored posts may result from networking or from companies reaching out to you. A lot of companies understand how much influence a blog can have on its audience.

However, related to affiliate marketing, be sure you believe in the company/product.

Consulting/Other Services

Depending on your niche, having a blog is a great way to promote services you can provide.

After all, people typically come to your blog looking for help, and you are providing it.

If they need something more, they can hire you for that help.

Starting a Blog is Quick, Building an Audience Takes Time

It is possible to get a new website for a blog put together in a single afternoon.

It won't have much content, but the steps to start a blog itself don't take much time.

Building an audience, on the other hand, can take a bit of time. There are things you can do to help accelerate this, but don't be discouraged if it is slow-moving.

Because of this slow nature, people don't give it enough time and give up on their blog.

They don't see results and figure it will never work. But if you hang in there, it can help you achieve your financial goals like reaching six-figures.

Keep writing quality content and promoting it, and people will find you.

A beginners guide to starting a blog
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