start a blog guide introduction

How to Start a Blog

The Beginner's Guide to Successful Blogging Watch the video

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About this guide

Have you been curious or interested to start a blog? Many successful bloggers gain knowledge, friendships, support and confidence by hosting a blog. And some are able to turn blogging into a lucrative business.

Starting a blog is not as daunting as many people think. In fact, by following the step-by-step instructions in our Beginner's Guide to Successful Blogging, you will be able to create and grow your own blog, avoiding pitfalls and missteps that hinder some novices.

The steps to launch a successful blog:

  • Select a comprehensive niche
  • Choose a platform (self-hosted recommended)
  • Decide on a domain name
  • Get hosting plan and install software
  • Customize and design the blog
  • Add content (text, photos, and graphics)
  • Promote a blog and its content
  • Contribution from expert bloggers

    Top bloggers have contributed their knowledge to help make this guide a valuable source of information. Their contributions to this guide and our expertise will help you build an online presence and thriving brand.

    Andrea
    Vahl

    Ian
    Cleary

    Jon
    Morrow

    Jeff
    Bullas

    Adam
    Connell

    Dino
    Dogan

    Henneke
    Duistermaat

    See all experts

    Once you have mastered each chapter in our Guide to Successful Blogging, you will be well on your way to running your very own blog. Should you need any help with the setup process, we will be happy to assist you, free of charge. Just contact us.

    Chapters

    Chapter 1

    Welcome to The Blogger World

    Summary: This section provides background information to help you understand the basics of blogging and shows you where to find sources of valuable reference material. We also describe a number of different blog types, how to choose your niche, and list some of the many reasons people like to blog.

    What is a "blog" and "blogging"?

    cave drawing
    darren rowse

    Darren Rowse, one of the earliest and best-known bloggers, defines it like this:

    A blog is a type of website that is usually arranged in chronological order from the most recent 'post' (or entry) at the top of the main page to the older entries towards the bottom.


    A blog (shortened from the phrase "weblog") is known as many things—a digital magazine, diary, newscast, collector's meeting place, a showcase for your art, information sharing, teaching hub, place to learn and...well, almost anything you want it to be. A typical blog combines text, images, videos and links to relevant pages and media on the Web. Blog readers can leave comments and communicate with the author. In fact, dialogue and interaction are a popular part of a blog's success.

    In the blogging world, you have the word "blog" (an online journal), "blogger" (the person who owns and contributes to a blog) and "blogging" (the act of creating content for the blog). You can be a "blogger blogging on a blog," a "blog about a blogger blogging" or a "blogging blog about a blogger."

    One of the great things about blogging is the impact it has made on communication throughout the world. Blogs can report news as it happens, hold mainstream media to higher standards and provide specific news and information to meet niche interests.

     

    The most popular styles and types of blogs

    Why people blog?

    Think about why are you starting a blog and why people should be interested in following you. Jeff Bullas created a poll and asked people, "Why do you blog?". The answers vary, but top answers were, "Writing about the passion" and "To share with others". If you want to learn more about phenomenon of blogging, read Why do people blog?.

    The biggest benefits of blogging

    better writer and thinker

    Become a better writer and thinker

    Once you start blogging, you'll find yourself becoming a better writer and thinker. Mastering content takes creative thought. When you become immersed in creating great pieces of content for your blog, your writing, thinking and research skills improve in the process.

    expert blogger

    Establish yourself as an expert

    Blogs are wonderful tools to help people establish themselves as experts in a field or niche. We all have some kind of interest and expertise to share with others. If you’re able to produce great content on your blog and/or have a unique point of view on the topic, then be assured that your future audience will recognize it and reward you for it. Today, the Web has different experts and different opinions for almost every topic you can dream up. With a bit of effort, you too can become an authority in the area of your interest.

    self-confident blogger

    Increase your self-confidence

    The more involved you become with blogging, the more your creative juices will flow. That's one reason why blogging is so popular. As you gain knowledge about your topic, the confidence you’ll build in your followers and most importantly, in yourself, will soar. All of this leads to increased creativity. According to the New York Times, 81% of Americans believe they have a book inside of them to share with the world. In essence, you will be writing a book, piece by piece, on your blog. Keep an open mind and enjoy your newfound confidence in your own abilities!

    have fun blogging

    Make friends and have fun

    With practice and a little effort, you can easily build your base of blog fans and followers. As you become known as an expert in your niche, you can inspire, encourage and help your followers make a difference in their own lives. Along your blogging journey, you will make new friends and connections throughout the world. If you like to travel, that means a lot of couches are available for you to snooze on while winging your way around the globe!

    make money blogging

    Make money from your blog

    Blogging can also have financial benefits. You can place ads and receive affiliate commissions by promoting products of established online retailers. And you can sell your own digital products and merchandise. We'll talk more about monetization in Chapter 6.

    Here is another great article that addresses additional personal and business benefits of blogging: 10 Secret Benefits of Blogging.

    How to choose a perfect niche

    Before you start your own blog and move forward to become a successful blogger, consider the following:

    life philosophy by aristotle

    The same applies to blogging. You want to attain the highest form of knowledge in the niche/topic of your choice. So pick the one that appeals to you—the one you are passionate about and most interested in. Aspire for success, happiness, security and recognition. By choosing your niche of interest and having your own point of view you’ll be able to position and differentiate your blog from the competition.

    Brainstorm your topic

    Following is a process that can help you determine which niche is best for you:

    brainstorm your idea


    Make a list of your interests or hobbies. Which topics fascinate you? List them all, for instance: golf, fishing, yoga, playing games or cooking.

    Next, list accomplishments you are proud of, such as musical talent, artistic talent or sports achievements.

    Now, list difficulties you have overcome or defeated, such as: losing a significant amount of weight, recovering from a financial setback or managing a disease.

    During the course of this exercise, you will get a better feeling for the topics that resonate with you. The ones that you are most passionate about are the best candidates for your niche.

    Blog success validation

    looking for blog potential

    Whether you want to blog for prestige, income, fun or connections, you’ll want to research the niche you choose and make sure the topic is viable. The following "blog success validation" exercise will help you determine whether your blog has real potential. It will also help you understand why most blogs fail.

    Potential niche size

    potential niche size

    Even if you believe you have a brilliant blog idea, you will likely struggle to succeed unless you find a niche market that attracts enough people or one with little competition. You don't want your niche to be too small or too big.

    Example: The size of "golf" niche is, on average, more than 2.8 million monthly searches. This niche might be too big and broad. However if you pursue a niche that is very narrow, such as "plane golf swing drills" (average 4,000 searches monthly), the volume of searches would be too small. One way to drill down from "golf" would be "golf tips" (average 350,000 total monthly searches) or even deeper down "golf tips for beginners" (average 250,000 total monthly searches).

    Check the size of your niche

    Potential competition

    potential competition

    It's a good sign if you have competition. It means others are talking about your niche and actively pursuing it. It's also important to note that bloggers in your niche are not always your competition, as Julie Deneen once said.

    Following is a competition review process you can follow:

    Potential monetization

    potential monetization

    Do you want to earn money with your blog? There are many people who start blogging as a hobby without necessarily looking at monetizing their blog. However, others want to make extra cash or even dream of make a living by blogging. It doesn't matter which category you’re in, it wouldn't hurt to know if your blog can produce the income you desire. If you found other blogs, active social profiles and offline magazines or journals in the previous sections, this indicates the niche is active and possibly monetizable. More about monetization techniques in Chapter 6.

    To make sure your niche is monetizable, research the following:

    What readers want from the blog

    What content should you start creating? You can write about anything and everything, but you have to really understand what your readers want to see or read. While there may be other existing blogs dedicated to your area of expertise, they are not YOURS! If you have a unique perspective, people will want to read about it. There’s never enough information for the voracious appetites of collectors and enthusiasts. They desire more and with practice, you can give them that.

    Readers are looking for information

    blogs inform readers

    People who visit your blog want to be informed. They want to learn more or stay up to date on specific topics. You would be surprised what people are searching for online. For example, some people want news that doesn't appear in mainstream media. You can be the one to give it to them.

    Readers are looking for solutions

    blogs solve problems

    Blogs solve a lot of problems in the world. Those problems might include dieting, health concerns or how to replace the bumper on a 1957 Chevy. The Internet has become the world's largest library. What can you add to the Internet? Your knowledge and insights can help others.

    Readers are looking to be entertained

    blogs entertain people

    The Internet is not all work! People want to connect, laugh and share with others. Your blog can quickly become popular for your brand of humor combined with the subject you choose. There's always fun information you can share with others that will help attract visitors to your blog.

    Important things to understand about blogging

    Choosing a blogging platform

    At this stage, you’ll need to determine the blog-management platform/tool you want to use. We recommend that you set up your blog on one of the self-hosted platforms. But before you make the decision, let us describe each option below in more detail and talk about the pros and cons.

    When it comes to starting your blog you have the following options: free, freemium and self-hosted platforms (recommended). For in-depth reviews of different blogging platforms visit this page.

    free blogging platform

    For many new bloggers, the availability of free blogging platforms such as Blogger or Tumblr is tempting. The benefits include being free and quick to start. But having a blog name in this form—yourname.tumblr.com or yourname.blogspot.com, is the sign of an inexperienced beginner who likely won't be taken seriously.

    By keeping your blog on a free platform, you let the platform own your name. You’ll be subject to their rules and restrictions, they may limit or prohibit ads on your blog, or they may even place their own ads on your blog. If you're serious about blogging, you’ll want to move away from this option.

    freemium blogging platforms

    Freemium means you’ll have a trial period before you have to start paying (costs vary from $5 to $30 per month). Several platforms are available. One of the most popular is TypePad. This platform focuses on ease of use for writing, but customization options are limited and it lacks certain features of value to bloggers.

    By default, your TypePad blog name will look like this: yourname.typepad.com. It's not always the best option if you’re trying to build the name and brand for your blog. However you could point your own domain (purchased through any domain registrar) to TypePad blog by applying domain mapping process.

    self-hosted blogs

    Self-hosted platforms allow you to run a blog on your own domain. Aside from following your domain registrar and web hosting company's rules, you’re fully in charge of your blog and its contents.

    You have number of choices when it comes to a self-hosted blog system (also called Content Management System or CMS).

    One of the best and most well-known self-hosted content management systems (CMS) is WordPress.org, also recommended by 90 percent of blogging experts we've surveyed.

    The blog set up is called self-hosted because you will use your own web hosting space (we like WebHostingHub) and name for your blog. This normally costs $4 to $8 per month for the web space (hosting account), depending on the company you choose, and $12 to $15 per year for the name (domain). The actual CMS is usually open-source and free.

    Throughout this guide, we'll be showing you how to start, manage, customize and work with the WordPress CMS. By using our guide, you will be able to create your blog quickly and learn how to manage it in short order. We'll show you how to set up and go live with your WordPress blog in Chapter 2.

    Key take-aways

    Whatever your involvement, you should follow a few simple rules for success:

    one Choose your niche wisely and validate it before you start doing anything.
    two Think what content can you create to differentiate your blog from others.
    three Pick your blogging platform and get ready to launch your blog.


    Bonus Chapter 7. 99+ best blogging tools and resources.

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