Starting a blog may sound like a lot of work, but this step by step guide about how to start a blog makes everything simple. Follow the steps below and you will have a website up and running in no time.
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There are many reasons that you may want to start a blog. It could be to share a hobby with your friends and family or to establish an online business. Either way, the following steps contain all the necessary things you should do to create a successful self-hosted blog with WordPress.
This how to start a blog guide is separated into 10 steps and each one has its own sub-steps to complete. For some steps, you will only find a summary of what to do at that stage. To get the full details, you will need to click on the relevant link that will take you to another post. There, I detail everything I know about that topic.
Take your time to go over the whole guide and associated posts once and understand which sections you need to focus on. Depending on your exact reasons for starting a blog you may want to skip some steps (e.g. monetisation) or slightly change their order.
While reading this guide, you may realise that you need to learn more about a specific topic. Instead of searching through the internet for resources that may be useful, you can simply navigate to our blogging resource library and choose the topic you want to learn more about. There, you can find multiple types of resources for all budgets created by experts in the field.
How to Start a Blog: The Basics
Before delving into the details, let’s take a second to understand some basic terminology regarding blog creation. Read this post to get answers to the top beginner’s blogging questions.
Learn the definition of a blog, the difference between a blog and a website, the difference between a post and a page, if you can earn money from your blog, if you can start a free blog, what is a self-hosted blog and more.
Once you have a clear understanding of the above, you are ready to delve into the step by step guide to start creating your own blog.
What is a blog?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a blog (noun) can be defined as:
- “a regular record of your thoughts, opinions, or experiences that you put on the internet for other people to read“
- “a website on which one person or group puts new information regularly, often every day; weblog“
- “a record of news, people’s opinions, photos, and videos about a particular subject that someone puts on the internet and adds information, pictures, etc. to regularly“
On the other hand, to blog (verb) means to manage a blog or to create new material for a blog.
So, to sum up, a blog is…
How to Start a Blog: A Step by Step Guide
It’s time. By now, you know what a blog is, what you can do with it and you are now ready to create one. However, you are not exactly sure of how to start, right? Read on to learn all the details to create your own self-hosted blog.
1. Define Your Niche
The first step is all about your blog’s identity. Spend some time to clarify the details of your blog. Who is it for, what will it contain and what do you want to get from it? This step aims to help you define your goals and aims so that you can refer to them when needed. So, take some paper and start filling it in.
Mission and Aims
Firstly, start with your mission and aims. What do you want to start a blog about? In other words, what is your niche? Do you want to start a blog as a hobby or to earn a side income? Do you want to raise awareness about a product or educate people on your topic of expertise?
If your aim is monetisation, then you need to give this step a little more thought. Also, why not take it a step further and create a business plan? In this way, you will understand exactly what you need to do to start earning money and more importantly if it is possible to earn money in your chosen area.
Typically, you will need to decide on a narrow niche (e.g. gluten-free recipes instead of cooking in general) as it will be easier to build a regular audience. Choosing a saturated market that already has many well-established businesses and without having something to differentiate yourself, will make it more difficult to get traction.
At the same time, you will need to select a niche that you are confident blogging about. Choosing a topic you are already familiar with and you have some expertise in is preferable.
Next, you need to think about your target audience. Who will read and engage with your posts? Is it just friends and family through social media or people who search for a specific topic on the internet?
If it is the former, then you may not need to do much here, if it’s the latter then you will need to consider where people usually search for the information you blog about (e.g. on Google or on social media) and using what terms. This will be particularly important later when creating content.
At this stage, you also want to consider the age of your target audience, their education level, their profession, their interests, and anything else that can determine if they will come to your site or not.
If you want to sell a product, does your target audience have the money to purchase your product? For example, if you blog about helping university students save money, then it will be more difficult to persuade them to buy your money-saving master class.
Overall, when you create personas or avatars, you need to be as specific as possible. Create at least one for every type of reader you want to have. Name them as well, so that you can easily refer to them.
2. Set Up Your Website
Now that you did all the preparation and know what your website will be about, it’s time to get your hands dirty with some of the technical stuff. Don’t worry, the things below may sound complicated but you don’t need to be tech-savvy to follow them. Of course, you can always ask for help at any stage if needed.
The first thing you need to consider is your domain name. This will be the name of your website and should coincide with your brand name. For example, our domain name is tipsforbloggers.com.
When choosing your domain name you should remember the following:
- You need to choose something that is available and easy to remember. You can check for available domain names on your chosen host website. See the next step for more details on hosting.
- You should avoid using numbers and special characters as it will be more difficult to explain to people how to spell it. For instance, imagine if our domain name was tips4bloggers.com. It still sounds the same as before, but now you need to explicitly specify to people that they should write “for” as the number 4.
- Also, shorter domains tend to perform better. Try to have no more than 20 characters before the .com part.
As you may be aware, most domains end in .com. However, this is not required. Even though the .com top-level domain (as this part of the URL is called) is considered to be the most secure and recognisable, you shouldn’t be discouraged if it isn’t available. Do some research and choose which is the best top-level domain for your purposes. For example, .org is usually used for organisations, .edu for educational institutions, .online for online business, etc.
Lastly, search on Google and see what results come up when you search using that name. Do you think that your blog will go along well with the results, or are they completely irrelevant to your niche? If you don’t see much relevance, then you may consider choosing a different domain name.
The second thing to consider when setting up your blog is (web) hosting. Now you may ask what a host is and why it is required. I always like to use the coffee shop example, so imagine that you want to open a new coffee shop. To do that you first need to find a space to house your coffee shop. It is usually expensive to buy (and subsequently maintain) that space, so you are looking for somewhere to rent.
This is exactly what happens here. Setting up and maintaining the technical side of a blog is expensive and requires technical expertise. So, the only option left is to “rent” services from a web hosting provider.
Hosting providers have different plans available and usually, the simple ones for blogs are offered for a very low price. In most cases, hosts also offer a domain name for free for the first year, so you can have a website up and running with less than £/$/€ 5 per month.
Choosing which host and hosting plan to go requires some research. Read this post to help you choose a host and hosting plan.
If after reading the above you are still indecisive I recommend Hostgator [AD]. Hostgator has a variety of plans for shared hosting plans at very affordable prices. It is ideal if you are just getting started as they offer great customer service if you get stuck and also allow for refunds within 45 days of purchase if you change your mind.
Content Management System
A Content Management System (CMS) allows you to manage your blog content and your website in general. There are many CMSs out there, but one of the best is WordPress. WordPress is used by a large percentage of active blogs and has many features.
Although it may not be as user friendly as other CMSs, it is more powerful with a large number of plugins. You can easily familiarise yourself with WordPress after playing around for a bit or watching some YouTube videos. Chelsea from Her Paper Route has an in-depth course on the topic, called Wicked in WordPress [AD] to help you become an expert.
If you don’t think that your hobby blog is worth the effort to learn to use WordPress, you can go with another CMS like Wix. Note that for the reasons stated above this guide assumes the use of WordPress. Despite that, you can still gain useful information by reading this guide on how to start a blog, even if you are using another CMS.
3. Basic Functionality
Great! By this point, you should have a better understanding of the technical details of creating a website. You may even already have it up and running. It may only be a blank page or a default WordPress site, but the fact that you managed to set up your host and site means that you are ready to begin the next step.
A large part of this step is about customising your website and bringing it down to your needs. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a designer to do that, as there are tools that can help you do everything. Then, you should set up some other tools, called plugins in WordPress, that will help you run your website better. Next, you will create some essential pages that are needed that will make your blog look professional. Finally, you will ensure that your blog’s settings are optimal.
This is a long section, so I broke it down into smaller posts, to help you comprehend everything better. Take your time to go over everything here and in the posts I link, as they contain important information to build strong foundations for your blog.
Customise your Blog
The first step in this section is to customise your blog. This includes creating a logo, coming up with a tag line, deciding on the colours and fonts you will use and more. You can find everything your need to do from deciding your blog’s identity to choosing your WordPress theme, in this post here.
As you will read in the post, Canva [AD] is an amazing tool when it comes to creating your blog’s graphics. It comes with hundreds of templates and design tools to allow you to create any graphic resources you need for your posts. And the best part is that it is free to use!
Define your Blog’s Identity
Before getting into further details about the look of your blog. It is important to define your blog (or brand) identity. These are:
- the name of your blog/website,
- your tagline,
- your logo,
Install and Set Up Essential Plugins
The next step is to install and set up some essential WordPress plugins. Plugins are short packages of code that you can install on your website and allow you to perform specific tasks without requiring you to write any code.
Strictly speaking, installing all these plugins at this stage may sound unnecessary, but they will be useful for when you start writing content. They will especially be useful if you want your website to appear in search engine results or if you focus on monetisation
To begin with, WordPress may have already installed some plugins on your website automatically. The plugins you will find when you open for the first time your WordPress dashboard varies, but Jetpack seems to be a constant one.
What is Jetpack?
Jetpack is a plugin with many possibilities. It helps with your website security, speed, writing and more. However, not all these features are available for free and what is in the free version may not be enough. So essentially, you will end up needing additional plugins unless you choose to pay for the pro version. For example, a quick search about Jetpack will show you that it can be used for website backups, but on a closer look, you will see that this option is not available for free.
Many people recommend removing Jetpack at once because it slows down your website, but the truth is that every plugin you install slows down your website (even if it’s only by milliseconds). And even though many of Jetpack’s flagship features are not available for free, there are still some free ones that you can use, like some site security features, and numerous sidebar widgets.
Therefore, the decision to keep it or remove it comes down to what you will be using it for. Spend some time on the plugin’s Settings page and see if there are any features you would like to turn on and if there are any other plugins that do these tasks better. For example, even though Jetpack has some social sharing elements, I found them limiting and prefer to use another more sophisticated plugin.
Why is (web)site speed important?
Website speed is not just important, it is super important. And if the answer is not already obvious to you from experience with slow websites, then you should know that it is important as it improves user experience. Users (or potential visitors of your blog) don’t like slow websites, and if your blog takes ages to load (or realistically more than a couple of seconds), then there is a high risk that the user will leave and never come back. Think of it again with the coffee shop example. If you wait too long at the counter without anyone taking your order, you will leave disappointed.
In addition, if you want your site to appear in Google’s search results then you need to have an excellent site speed as it is one of the factors that Google uses to select which results to show. Read more about site speed here.
What plugins to install?
From my experience, the most essential plugins have to do with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), social media sharing, security, backup, cookie notice boxes, and adding additional code snippets. However, this is not an exhaustive list, and based on the type of blog you have, more plugins may be required.
Before you install any new plugins, I want you to deactivate and delete all the plugins that were automatically downloaded and activated by WordPress, maybe excluding Jetpack if you decide that you want to give it a go. Also, you need to exclude any plugins required by your theme. You will understand these plugins as there is no Delete button next to them and if you try to deactivate them you will get a warning.
This removal of plugins is necessary so that you don’t have any plugins that inadvertently can slow down your website. You can always re-install and activate them again if you change your mind.
Don’t forget to not just deactivate the plugins but also delete those you don’t intend to use again soon, to improve your site health.
Read this post to find which plugins you need to install to your brand new blog and how they can help you.
Essential WordPress Plugins
Here is a list of the most essential plugins you should have on your blog to cover your most basic needs. The good news is that all of the plugins I recommend below have a free version, which allows you to take advantage of their most basic features without paying anything.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Before starting to write any blog posts, you should install an SEO plugin. This plugin can help you adapt your content to follow basic SEO guidelines, and hence…
How to measure my blog’s health?
WordPress has a tool that allows you to quickly check the health of your blog. This tool is called Site Health and you can find it in the Tools section of the sidebar menu. Once you click it, the tool will automatically activate and in a few seconds, you will get your site health status.
You should aim for a green status labelled as Good. If you get anything other than that, you will see some recommendations with things to improve. As a heads up, it’s good to have all your plugins up-to-date before running the test. Also, remember for some warnings, like for WordPress updates, there is little you can do as they may be controlled by your host. However, if they persist over time, then you may need to contact your host to ensure that everything is working correctly.
How to measure and improve my blog’s speed?
If you are worried about the site speed of your blog, then read this post. It goes into a bit more advanced details that you don’t necessarily need when starting your blog, but are good to know nonetheless for the future. The post explains which factors affect your site’s speed, how to measure it and how to improve it. If you find that the post is too confusing, you can always come back to it when you feel more confident with the terminology used. And trust me, if you want to monetise your blog and appear on Google’s search results you will need to come back.
Create Essential Pages
The next thing to do is to create some essential pages, like an About page, a Contact page and some Legal pages. Of course, don’t forget your homepage which you should have already set up during the customise phase of this step.
The about page should include some details about yourself and your website. This is the go-to place if someone wants to find out more about you or your blog so make it look professional. Try to describe the purpose of your blog and the value that it will give to visitors. Look at it as a cover letter for your blog, only less formal and more catchy.
Depending on the purpose of your site, you may need to create a simple contact page with your name and email or even include a contact form. In this case, you can use one of the form-maker plugins I recommend in the post above. If you don’t need a contact form and you feel that it is unnecessary to create a separate page for just your contact details, you can include them somewhere on your About page.
You can find templates for these legal documents online, and there are some free plugins you can use to create them. However, you should note that these free and widely available documents may not fully apply to your site. Instead, it’s better if you purchase templates that are more relevant for bloggers and are created by lawyers like the ones by Plug and Law [AD], A Self Guru [AD] and Blogging for New Bloggers [AD].
Check your WordPress Settings
The last activity of this step is to ensure that your blog’s WordPress settings are set to their optimal values. To get to the Settings page of WordPress, go to your Dashboard and click on the Settings tab from the left-hand-side menu. Then click on each subsection and select the options that work for you. If you are unsure about something, then leave the default value.
There are no guidelines that you should follow, but there is one thing that I strongly recommend you do before start publishing content. Go to the Permalinks settings and select the Post Name option under Common Settings. This will ensure that when you publish a new blog post, its URL will consist of the title of your blog without dates or other numbers.
It is important to do that and have your post name in the URL, as it will help your readers (and search engines) understand what they will find when they click through your link. Including the date in the URL, poses the risk of users avoiding your content if a certain amount of time has passed. The reason is that they might think that it’s outdated even though your content is evergreen (i.e. has no expiration date). The only exception to this is that if you have a news blog, and the majority of your content is indeed time-bound.
4. Set Up Your Analytics
Phew, that was a long section, with lots of important things to cover. However, before you start putting content on your blog, there are a few more things that you should set up. These may require a bit more technical understanding, so I have prepared detailed instructions, to help you easily follow all the steps.
Note that to complete what’s required below you should have installed a code additions plugin, like Insert Headers and Footers. This type of plugin allows you to add various HTML elements to you the header, body and footer of your website without risking altering any pre-existing code. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have any programming skills to complete this section, as you will only need to copy and paste a few lines.
These lines of code you will need to copy and paste are called tags. They help third-party tools confirm that you are indeed the owner of your website and gather various other data (such as visitor tracking and analytics). Tags usually go into the header (or <head>) section of your blog.
Another way, to control the tags you need to add to your site is by setting up the Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is a tool that allows you to handle all your website tags in one place. You only need to connect your website to Google Tag Manager following the usual procedure of adding a few lines of code at the header of your website, and then you can do the rest from there. This is especially useful if the third-party tool you are trying to integrate your site with supports Google Tag Manager, in which case you may be able to complete the procedure in just a couple of clicks.
However, since you are at the beginning of your blogging journey, and the interface of Google Tag Manager can become confusing, I suggest you ignore it for now and come back to it in the future if you need it. For the moment, it is easier to import all your tags to your site manually using a plugin.
Set Up Analytics
Firstly, you should set up some kind of ananylitcs to track your blog’s performance. Google Analytics is the most obvious choice when getting started, as it is free you and gives you lots of data. It allows you to check your website traffic, where it is coming from and get more details about your audience. In the beginning, there may not be much data available but as you start bringing traffic to your blog, more information will start to appear.
It’s straightforward to set up Google Analytics, but if you need more guidance you can follow the instructions here.
Search Engine Indexing
The next step is to add your site to the main search engines so that people can find your content when searching using relevant keywords.
The first place where you want to add your blog is Google. To do that you need to sign up to Google Search Console. Overall, the process is simple, apart from the last step where you need to amend some details that your host handles. If you need some help then you can follow the detailed instructions with screenshots I created for you here. If you have trouble managing that last part of the set up, then I suggest you get in touch with your host, as each provider has different settings.
The second place you should list your blog is Bing. Bing may not be as big as Google, but you still want your site to show up there. Besides, the platform you will use to do that, called Bing Webmaster Tools, has a few other features available which can help you when working on other aspects of your blog. It’s easier to set up Bing Webmaster Tools as you don’t need to involve your host. Nevertheless, here are some detailed instructions if you get stuck.
Note that by following the above steps, you are not guaranteed to show up on Google and Bing. Instead, what you are doing is informing them that your website exists and that you own it. This also allows you to receive updates regarding its performance and any warnings that may pop up.
How to appear in the search results?
In order for your site to appear under relevant search terms (or keywords), you should work on your SEO. I have briefly mentioned SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in step 3 above, when detailing the necessary plugins you should install, but I did not get into further details.
In a nutshell, SEO is a term to describe the set of pratises you should follow when creating content in order for your site to appear (or rank, as it is called) in the search results. There ara various plugins and tools to help you with that and I will get into a bit more details in the supplementary post for step 6.
Submit A Sitemap
To complete setting up your search engine presence, you should submit a sitemap to the above tools. A sitemap is a file that is automatically generated, usually, by your SEO plugin and points to all the posts, pages and any other type of content you may have on your blog. Search engines regularly crawl this file to find new content you publish so it is important to point them to the correct file. The exact address of your sitemap will be given by the tool you used to create it, and usually, it will look like this: yourdomainame.com/sitemap.xml.
5. Social Media Presence
This step is also an easy step and it’s one that you may already be familiar with. You will need to create social media accounts for your blog on the main platforms. Ideally, you should create an account for all the platforms that your audience hangs out, and then hang out there too.
Some popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Other social media which gained popularity recently are TikTok and Clubhouse. Each of these platforms has its own specific features and limitations. For example, Twitter only allows you to share 280 characters per post, Instagram focuses on photos and videos, Pinterest is all about pins, TikTok is about creating short and fun videos and Clubhouse only allows voice.
Set Expectations for Social Media Use
Before getting started, it is important to clear out some things to set expectations correctly. You will not gain automatically any followers by just creating an account on any social media platform. To create a successful account you need to engage with each social media platform frequently and consistently. Having an initial following from friends and family will also help your progress.
Note that many platforms give preference to video content. I understand that video may not be for everyone, but it has such popularity it may be worth considering putting yourself out there.
The overall aim of using social media is to create an engaged audience who will interact with your social media posts and at the same time will also visit your website. To do that you will need to learn more about how each social media platform works and establish the correct strategies that will help you grow. Later, I will get into more detail on how to identify the best strategies for you.
Create Social Media Accounts
The first step of this part is to identify for which platforms you want to create an account. If you are unsure about what to do, I suggest starting by creating a Facebook Page and a Pinterest Profile. Facebook will help you establish a basic social media presence on a popular platform that doesn’t limit the type of content which you can post, while Pinterest can help so that your blog posts reach more people.
Of course, Instagram and Twitter are extremely popular too, and your audience may be using those as well. It is very simple to create an account on those two platforms and it’s not difficult to learn how to use them.
If you are aiming to share a lot of video content, then it is worth considering creating a YouTube channel and maybe TikTok as well. YouTube will also allow you to embed your videos on your website without having to upload them separately (which can be a tedious procedure).
A last social media platform that has recently gained popularity is Clubhouse, a social audio app as they brand themselves. The way that the platform works is that you are hosting live rooms where people can share their opinion and knowledge on a specific topic much like in a radio program.
Convert your Personal Profile to Business
After creating an account, remember to turn on the Business Account settings which will allow you to get access to more insights and statistics about how your account is performing, scheduling tools as well as the option to run ads. Note that not all platforms have business account options.
Link your Blog to your Social Media Accounts
Most platforms allow you to link to your website from your profile page. So, take advantage of this and add your link there. In some cases, like for Pinterest, you will have to claim your website and to do that you will need to add a snippet of code on the header of your website, the same way as you did when connecting the analytics tools in step 4. Remember not to ignore this step, as it will help people (and Pinterest) to know who originally owns a pin, and it can help to drive more traffic to your account.
Link your Social Media Accounts from your Blog
Now that you have created all your social media accounts, I want you to note down your handles/usernames and the links to your profile page. Next, you should go back to your blog and put links to the social media accounts you have created. The location that you will put these links differs depending on the theme you have. For example, on our website, you can find links to our social media accounts in the header, the sidebar and the footer.
Note that this is different from having social sharing buttons in each post. These buttons enable your readers to share your content on their social media accounts and don’t point them directly to your profile. I have already explained how you can set up these social sharing buttons in step 3 above, but in nutshell, the easiest way to do that is to use a plugin. Some social sharing plugins ask you to add links to your social media profiles as well. Do that as too, as it will aid the plugin to associate your content with your account.
Post Introductory Content
To complete your social media presence you should invite people to follow your pages. Before you do that, it is good practice to post some introductory content so that people know what to expect from you.
An example of what you can post is a logo of your blog with a short description of what this blog is about, or a photo of yourself and again a short introduction of who you are and what you do.
In the next steps, I will show you how to create more content for social media and some tools which can help you save time.
Set Up Tracking Cookies and the Schema Mark Up
If you choose to use Facebook and Pinterest, it is worth taking some time to install some tracking cookies and ensure that you are using the correct schema markup. The schema markup will help to improve the presentation of your posts and the cookies will collect tracking information about your blog visitors that are coming from these platforms.
Note, that it is not necessary to set this up at this stage, as most probably you will not get any data. However, after you start creating content on your blog and start populating it on Facebook and Pinterest, it is worth coming back and installing them.
On Facebook, you want to access the Facebook Pixel. A pixel is a short piece of code that you need to add to the header of your website (like before) and it tracks the behaviour of your blog visitors who came by clicking on a link to your website through Facebook. It allows you to track events, like sign-ups to your newsletter and successful purchases, and it is especially useful if you run ads.
Pinterest Tag and Pinterest Rich Pins
On Pinterest, there are two things you need to set up: Pinterest Tag and Pinterest Rich Pins. The Pinterest Tag is very similar to the Facebook Pixel, and it allows you to track events to your blog from people who visited it by clicking on a link from Pinterest. It can be installed in a similar way by adding a piece of code to the header of your website.
On the other hand, Pinterest Rich Pins is about the presentation of your pins. If you have rich pins set up, then each of your pins will show more information about the page that it links to. There are four kinds of pages that are supported: articles, products, recipes and apps and for each type different information is shown. For example, for article pages, the pin will show the author, headline and description of your post, while for recipes it will show cooking time, serving size and some information about ingredients.
To turn Rich Pins on, you need to ensure that you are using the Schema Mark Up when creating a post. Usually, this is taken care of by your SEO plugin and it is done automatically. So, then the only thing you need to do is to go to the Pinterest Validator page to ensure that your schema mark up is working as expected and that Rich Pins are set up for your account and your claimed website.
6. Content Content
Finally, it’s time to start creating some content! This is probably the part that you were the most looking forward to since you started reading this guide. Ultimately, the aim of every blogger is to create and share content with the world. You may already have some content prepared that you would like to upload to your blog or some ideas that you would like to put forward. Now, it’s the time to do that!
Create Content for Your Blog
Start by creating some initial content for your blog. It is important to create a lot of content at the beginning so that your first readers can have a good idea of what your blog is about. At the same time, you shouldn’t compensate for the quality of your posts. Strive to find a good balance between the two, and if you ever have to choose between them remember that quality comes first.
There are few things you should have in mind when creating your first blog post, and I summarise all of them in this handy post.
Writing Tips for your First Blog Post
So, you started your first blog and need some advice on how to write your first blog post? Great, you are at the right place! Read below to find 5+ tips to help you create quality content for your blog.
How to Start Your First Blog Post?
A common question among bloggers is how to start their first blog post. No, you don’t need to start it with “Hello, this is my first blog post”. In fact, the general advice is to avoid this line and instead write…
Create Content for Social Media
Equally important to creating content for your blog is also creating content for social media. This includes content to go along your blog posts, as well as standalone content for each social media account you have.
Create supportive material for your blog posts
Ideally, each blog post you create should have some social media posts to promote it. The easiest type of content is a link-based post where your featured photo is used automatically along with your URL and some text you may want to write. However, this is only possible for Facebook and Twitter. For all other platforms, you should create specific content for the platforms you are using.
For example, for promoting your blog on Pinterest, for each post, you publish you should also have a couple of pin designs ready to post there. Each Pinterest post (or pin to use the correct definition) requires a title, a description, a link and a graphic in their suggested dimensions. It is a good practice to also include that graphic at the end of your blog post to allow people to share an optimised image for Pinterest, instead of a random photo.
On the other hand, for Instagram and for some other social media platforms that do not allow links within posts, it is more tricky to promote your work. However, there are some workarounds for that. Most of them allow you to still have a link on your profile. This means that you can put your link there and point your followers to your profilio (or bio) page from your post descriptions. In addition, Instagram business accounts with more than 10K followers have the option to add swipe up links in stories, and this is known to be a very effective way of bringing people to your blog.
Good practices for social media content
Despite this, you shouldn’t only be creating content for social media when you have a new blog post. If you want to become successful on social media, you should constantly create content that is suitable for each platform you are using. Obviously, the definition of content is different for each platform. Some prefer videos over text, others photos, while others may prefer just text or audio.
Note, that even if in theory you could interchange content between the different platforms, it is better to adapt it to match the recommendations of each one, e.g. horizontal videos on YouTube and vertical videos on TikTok.
Later, I will get into more details about some of the strategies you can follow to grow on social media, but for the moment it is important to just interact with the various platforms and create quality content to put on your profile.
Remember that for creating graphics for social media and your blog you can use Canva [AD]. Canva has lots of free static and animated templates in various dimensions and for various needs. Adapt them to your specific style or create your own design from scratch.
Now that you have some content on your blog, it’s time to start thinking about monetisation. If this is something that you are not interested in doing now, you can skip this step or come back to it later when you are ready. You can always have a quick read without implementing anything to get an idea of what is required.
For convenience, I have written this post which includes four ways you can monetise your blog. They apply to any niche, so you can choose what best applies to you. Keep in mind that for complete beginners like you, the easiest methods you can use to get started are the first two, while as you grow you can take advantage of the other two as well.
Earning Money from Blogging
Being a blogger doesn’t mean that you are unemployed, or that you need to have another job to cover your expenses. In contrast, there are many people that earn money from blogging and even some of them managed to turn their hobby blogs into six-figure businesses!
Read below to find some ways you can use your blog to make money, either as your stand-alone income or as a side-hustle…
8. Marketing and Promotion
After writing a blog post it’s time to market and promote it to attract readers. This stage is all about coming up with a strategy to promote your posts and drive traffic to your site.
Before getting into the details about attracting readers, it is important to understand the different types of website traffic, i.e. from where people come to your website.
Types of Website Traffic
In general, there are five ways to get traffic to your website:
- From search engines – this is called organic traffic
- From social media – this is called social traffic
- From other websites that link to your blog – this is called referral traffic
- From people who type your URL directly in the address bar – this is called direct traffic
- From people who click on one of your advertisements – this is called paid traffic
We have already discussed a way to get organic traffic in the section about writing your first content, and that is SEO. Having SEO optimised content increases your chances of appearing under search results. However, this is not the only thing that search engines are looking for when displaying the results for a search query. There are other factors like your authority and the number of backlinks you have. These may sound strange terms to you, but I will get into more details about them in the next section.
The second type of traffic is social traffic. Social traffic comes from people clicking on your links through social media like Facebook. Social traffic can come easily if you have thousands of followers, but since you are just getting started this is more difficult. So, it is important to first work on your social media strategy, to increase your reach.
Then, there is referral traffic. A user is marked as a referral visitor, when they come to your site, after clicking a link they found on another website. In general, this goes hand in hand with backlinks, which I will discuss in more detail in the next step.
Another type of traffic is direct traffic, i.e. when people come to your site after typing the URL of your blog on the address bar. At the beginning of your blogging journey, you will see a large percentage of your traffic coming as direct traffic. This is because at the beginning most of your visitors apart from yourself will be your friends and family. These people may not always wait until you post something on social media to click on it. Instead, they will visit your website anyway using the link you gave them, to check out your work.
At the moment, there is not much you can do to increase this type of traffic, as first, you need to raise awareness about the existence of your blog through other means before people become familiar with you to come to your blog directly.
Lastly, there is paid traffic. Paid traffic is when users come to your site when they click on an ad that you may have placed on a search engine. I am not going to get into any details about paid traffic here, as it is more important first to establish your website, before getting into the paid advertisement sector. Besides, if you are not well educated about how ads work and how you can benefit, it is more likely that you will be wasting your money. So, my advice is to leave this source of traffic on the side and focus on other ways to get people on your blog.
Now that you know where your traffic is coming from, it is time to understand how to market it. We have already discussed a few things about organic traffic and will continue the discussion later. The same is true about referral traffic. Paid traffic is out of scope, so right now we should discuss more social media traffic and other ways of getting loyal readers.
Social Media Strategy
The first place to promote your work should be social media. It is easy to put a link to your blog there and ask your followers to click on it. The difficult thing is about growing a following. So, as I said in previous sections, it is important to establish a social media strategy that will allow you to increase your number of engaged followers, who can then visit your website.
Each social media platform has its own algorithms for displaying content to users, hence if you want to grow, you need to research the best strategies for that platform. The type of content you post, the frequency of your posts, the (speedy) engagement of your followers, any people you tagged, the hashtags you used, the length of your captions, any geolocations attached and more can be used to determine if a post is going to be successful or not.
Due to all these factors and due to all the constant changes that each platform has, it’s best to study your social media strategy with an expert in the field.
Remember that posting frequently is very important, so you may want to start using a social media scheduler, like Planoly [AD], to help you put your work in order. Planoly allows you to seamlessly plan your social media content for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Besides, you can use their creator tools to easily customise your content.
Another platform that many bloggers get a large percentage of their traffic from is Pinterest. Above, I have included Pinterest as a social media platform, and that’s because most people know it like that. In fact, Pinterest is a visual search engine and has its own techniques to increase your chances of appearing under a query like Google.
A good starting point is to make appealing pins, using bold font and keywords. As I mentioned above you can create free graphics using Canva [AD], but if you find that you are struggling there are many tutorials that you can follow online. You can also purchase some ready-made templates, to avoid the burden of creating your own, like those from Blogging Her Way [AD] and Bluchic [AD].
Next, you should consider what you are going to write in the pin title and pin description. Start by using as many keywords as possible in both places. Then work with your posting schedule, as Pinterest prefers people who share pins regularly.
If you find that being constantly engaged on Pinterest is too much work, you can start using a scheduler like Tailwind [AD] to free up your hands. Many people reported positive results after using them.
In general, there is a myriad of strategists and marketers that can help you grow your Pinterest, and a large variety of resources. You can start your research in the Pinterest section of our resource library.
Another way to get people to read your blog is to send them emails with updates during frequent intervals (e.g. weekly or monthly) or even every time you publish a new post. Many consider this to be the best way to get traffic to your blog, as the people who are subscribed to your newsletter are more likely to click and read what you have to offer them.
Now, building a newsletter and starting to send out emails may sound simple, but in reality, there is a lot that is going on in the background. Apart from the technicalities of sending the emails, you need a way to persuade your readers to subscribe to get your emails. And as you can imagine, or even know from personal experience, people don’t just put their email anywhere. You need to show enough evidence that what you will be sending will be beneficial to your readers.
This post has a short introduction to email marketing and how you can get started.
Get Started with Email Marketing
Email marketing is considered one of the best ways to drive visitors to your blog and build a loyal audience. As the name suggests, the term covers marketing materials that are being communicated to the world via email. A few examples are weekly newsletters, seasonal offers and important updates. However, how can you get started with email marketing and start sending emails?
Create an email marketing plan
So the first thing you need to do before even starting with the technical details is to think about what you are going to include in the emails and how often you are going to send them…
The most direct way of promoting your blog and your articles is by performing outreach. Outreach is the term used to describe sending emails to people who might benefit by reading your post and who otherwise would have no idea about its existence. The purpose of this is to raise awareness about your blog, network with potential partners and get extra promotion for your work. The latter can be achieved by putting a few lines at the end of the email and politely asking the recipient to share your work with their audience. It is not always guaranteed to they will share it, but it doesn’t cost anything to try.
Finding a recipient
Your next question now might involve the recipient. Who is going to be and how to find them? Well, the recipient could be anyone you mention in your blog. For example, you wrote a list of the best coffee shops in your city, so your recipient would be the PR contact (ideal scenario) or the general email of each coffee shop you shared.
Writing your email
In the email, you want to mention some details about the person you are contacting and the brand they represent and a few words about yourself before getting into the main topic of sharing your work. At this point, you can include a short summary, along with links to the full post and social media. Conclude with a polite note to share your work, and to keep in touch for future collaborations.
All these may sound easy to follow but it takes practice and time to craft the perfect email and identify the best people.
Last but not least, you should be aware that many times these emails end up in people’s junk folders or (by choice) never get opened. You can send up to a couple of follow-ups, but you shouldn’t be too forceful to avoid damaging your reputation.
9. Link Building
You are almost at the end of this guide! You have made so much progress up to now and set up the founding stones for a successful blog. However, there is another thing you need to do, which may not always be clear from the beginning, and which you may have never thought necessary to do, and this is link building.
Here you can find everything you need to understand what link building is and how you can use it to increase the authority of your blog.
Understand Link Building
Link building is called the procedure of growing the number of links from other websites back to your own. It is part of the so-called off-page SEO, which includes all the techniques you can follow outside of your blog to increase its presence in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Link building is extremely important if you want to grow your appearance in the SERPs, as every time Google sees a reference of your site to another website is like getting a +1. In other words, when Google sees someone linking to your blog, it thinks that…
Now that you know everything it takes to start your own blog, it’s time to find a way to maintain it and improve it.
What I am going to tell you may sound a lot but by having a robust plan it is possible to be on top of everything.
As always, if you ever feel you want to learn a new skill or brush up your knowledge on a topic, you can check out our blogging resource library.
Continue Creating Content
Content creation should be at the heart of your blogging plan. Keep on creating quality content both for your blog and social media consistently.
You may even want to go a step further and create a content calendar. A content calendar allows you to be more organised and know what you need to create in advance. It prompts you to look at your existing content to see what’s missing and what your audience wants to read or better consume, as we are not talking only about text here (it could be images, videos, etc.)
There are resources to help you plan your content in advance, such as the One Year Worth of Content in One Month Challenge [AD] by The She Approach. If you are interested in video content, then you can check out the Video Batch Like a Boss Challenge [AD] by Breonna Queen.
Continue Link Building
Another thing you shouldn’t stop doing, especially at the beginning, is link building. You should continue building backlinks to your site using the techniques I described in the relevant post above. Try to build a fair number of links per month that doesn’t look unnatural, to increase your authority and value.
As step 9 explains, to do that you will have to spend some time in other people’s blogs and in Facebook blogging groups. So, take advantage of that and try to connect with other bloggers in your niche as well as get help when needed.
Regularly Check Your Blog’s Performance
Also, try to set some time aside once a week to check your statistics to see how your website is performing. You should check:
- Google Analytics for a general overview of your traffic and other insights of your audience;
- Google Search Console to see how many of your posts appear in Google’s results;
- Bing Webmaster Tools to see how many of your posts appear in Bing’s results;
- Your social media insights to understand how your posts perform;
- Your revenue metrics from your different monetisation streams (e.g. display ads, affiliate links and product selling).
In the beginning, there may not be much to report, but as you start growing you will be able to see some value in them and even use your analytics to see where you should focus next.
Less regularly, you should aim to check your DA (if you are unfamiliar with this metric, then check out the post from the above step) and at least once a year you should perform a site audit. A site audit is usually offered by SEO tools, like Ubersuggest and Ahrefs to see if your site is technically working as expected and follows the recommended standards. Some of the terminology you will see may be daunting, but these tools usually have good documentation that explains how you can fix the issues that come up. Try to fix as many as possible.
Lastly, remember to regularly check your site speed, especially after making big changes. As I mentioned earlier, having a high site speed, especially on mobile helps a lot with search engine rankings. So, it is important if you notice any sudden drops to investigate and fix the issue.
Good Luck With Your New Blog!
Congratulations! You made it to the end! You can now go and start creating your new blog!
As you can see, once you know what you want the technical part can be easy and quick. You can own a domain name and set up a basic website in no time at all. What takes time is what comes after, i.e. getting your blog ready to accommodate your content, creating your content and then driving traffic to your blog.
Some of the terminology I introduced here may sound strange, but once you start working on your blog, everything will nicely fall into place. It’s not a quick thing to accomplish everything in this guide and it takes time to build a successful blog. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a couple of months (if not more) to eventually reach step number 10. Just remember to be patient and never stop trying, even if the results you have look disappointing.
As a little gift from me to you for making it all the way to the end of this guide is this downloadable checklist I created for you with the things you need to do to start a blog. It will allow you to keep track of your progress during this long journey and note down any topics you need to learn more about. Just enter your email in the form below to subscribe to our newsletter and receive the checklist.
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