Do you want to learn how to start a blog?
Hi there, my name is Anya. I’ve been blogging for more than eight years and I love every moment of it. Blogging helped me to find my first job and continues to be my lucrative side-gig.
In 2010 when I was learning how to create a blog, I spent a lot of time searching for helpful information online. I was only able to find it piece by piece on a variety of websites. To save you time, I’ve created this free step-by-step blog tutorial to teach beginners how to make a blog quickly and easily. It’s not as complicated as many people think!
FirstSiteGuide is a free resource that is 100% supported by readers.
Disclosure: If you purchase products through links on our site (e.g. Bluehost services), we may earn a commission. It comes at no extra cost for you but it helps us to create more useful content.
More than eight thousand people started their blogs using this free guide.
This guide takes 20 minutes to read (6550 words). Yes, that might be a lot of reading, but I share everything new bloggers should know for starting a blog in 2021. You can take your time and do it at your own pace!
I will show you how to build a WordPress blog with one-click install.
P.S. If you have any questions about this guide or get stuck with the steps, I am more than happy to assist you. You can get in touch with me and ask for free advice.
Kind words from top bloggers and influencers:
“If you’re just starting a blog or want to level up your skills, make sure to check out @firstsiteguide.”
“Blogging guide for beginners via @firstsiteguide. Super helpful!”
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How to Start a Blog in 8 Easy Steps
- Step #1: Select a perfect niche for your blog
- Step #2: Choose a blogging platform
- Step #3: Pick a domain name
- Step #4: Get a web hosting account
- Step #5: Starting a blog on WordPress
- Step #6: Select a theme and design your blog
- Step #7: Write and publish blog content
- Step #8: Optimize your blog content for SEO
A quick primer – Starting a successful blog fast
There are five main points that you need to know for creating the blog of your dreams. We will focus on how to start a blog on WordPress later (Jump to Step #5). For now, you should review this info so that you can get a blog online in 20 minutes or less.
- Picking a niche and a name. Your blog’s niche is the particular market (topic) you will be targeting. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. When it comes to naming your blog, you can use your name or a descriptive combination of words.
- Selecting a blogging platform. The next step is to find the best-suited blogging site to start building your own blog. There is a wide selection of platforms. I suggest using self-hosted WordPress blog software if you are serious about blogging.
- Securing blog hosting and a domain. A web hosting company acts as the foundation for your blog and makes it available online 24/7. A domain name is a name by which your blog will be known online. It’s a unique web address on the Internet.
- Building and designing a blog. These days, you don’t have to be a professional web designer or developer to make your blog look beautiful! Once you install WordPress software, you can choose pre-designed themes based on your preferences.
- Creating useful and unique content. Now, you can start writing and posting information online. When you work on your blog, keep in mind that it’s all about making useful content that your readers will love and want to come back for more.
Starting a blog is your first step in entering the blogging world. However, to be successful online you have to learn more. We have more than 100 free guides and resources on FirstSiteGuide to help you to succeed on the web!
Ready to start? Go through each step of this guide. And make sure to read the last section if you want to make money blogging!
Step #1: Select a perfect niche for your blog
To start a blog and make it as a blogger, you have to select the right niche for your blog.
- First, make sure to pick a niche that you are the most interested in—the one you are passionate about.
- Second, you need to make sure a niche has enough audience interest—topics people searching for.
That way you will follow your passion, find your readers, and enjoy your blogging journey.
Once you select a niche, I also suggest you validate it. Below is a 3-step formula to confirm your niche for success.
A 3-step blog success validation process:
- Check niche size.
- Explore competitors.
- Analyze monetization potential.
This process will help you obtain a clear idea of the size, competition, and monetization potential for your proposed niche. If you are not sure how to select and validate a blog’s niche, read our detailed guide.
Step #2: Choose a blogging platform
At this stage, you’ll need to look at the available blogging platforms out there and determine the type of blog management software that you are going to use.
I recommend building your blog using the self-hosted WordPress blog setup that I share in this guide.
When it comes to blogging sites, you have a few options. Below are usage statistics showing the distribution of blog technologies in the United States.
WordPress software is by far the most popular technology with a 90%+ market share in the U.S.
Let’s look at the top 3 solutions and I’ll explain the main difference between them.
Self-hosted blog solutions (e.g. WordPress.org)
You don’t have many choices when it comes to self-hosted blogging systems (also called a Content Management System or CMS). As you can see from the graph, the most popular is the free and open-source system WordPress.org.
Self-hosted platforms allow you to set up your blog and run it using your own domain and web hosting. You’re fully in charge of your blog and its contents. It will cost just a few dollars per month for the webspace (hosting account), and around ten dollars per year for a domain. The actual blogging software is free.
If you want total control of your blog, or plan to run ads, sell products and services via your blog, then this is the best way to go.
Hosted blog solutions (e.g. Blogger and Tumblr)
However, it’s important to understand that “free” always comes with limitations:
- First, your blog name will be set as a subdomain (examples: “yourblog.blogspot.com” or “yourblog.tumblr.com“).
- Second, you’ll be subject to their rules and restrictions.
Free options come in handy for testing a blogging platform. But, if you’re serious about starting a blog, you’ll have to start paying for full services and a custom domain name sooner or later.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Below are the costs of a 1-year basic hosting plan with a custom domain name to install WordPress.org CMS. For hosting services, I will show the Bluehost company’s pricing plans. If you decide to use another service, prices will vary but it shouldn’t be more than $100 per year.
|WordPress.org + Bluehost|
|Blog hosting service||$2.75 per month (billed for 3 years) |
$4.95 per month (billed for 1 year)
|Domain registration||First-year free (after $17.99 per year)|
|Custom email||Free Web-Based E-mails/ Forwarding|
|SSL Certificate||Free SSL certificates|
|Storage space*||50 GB|
|Total price||$99.00 (for a 3-year plan)|
$59.40 (for a 1-year plan)
To make your blog using WordPress.org, you need to decide on two important things: a domain name and a web hosting company. If you are a new blogger, you should try using Bluehost, a company that powers over 2 million websites worldwide.
I was able to negotiate a special deal only for our visitors that includes:
- Free domain name.
- Discount price of $2.75/month.
- 30-day money-back guarantee period.
- Set up a blog with a one-click install.
Step #3: Pick a domain name
Your domain name will be the name by which you will be known online, no matter what niche you choose. It’s your blog’s unique address on the Internet. It will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee ($10 to $15 per year for a .com).
Users who know your domain (URL – uniform resource locator) can simply type it into their browser’s address bar. Others will be able to discover you through search engines such as Google and Bing, so you definitely need to find a unique blog name.
Your domain name may be the highly popular “dot com”, or it may be country or niche-specific. The general rule is to get a “dot com” domain, but some of the other extensions can be used too. For example, “dot net” or “dot blog”.
If you can’t find a domain name you like, Bluehost will let you choose one later. That will give you time to do some research and thinking before you start your blog.
Recommended quick domain search tool:
In the end, it’s about being memorable, so if a different extension or country code helps you be memorable, then break the rules!
Step #4: Get a web hosting account
After choosing a domain name, selecting a reliable hosting service will be one of the most important decisions you make.
To a great extent, the functionality and performance of your site will depend on your blog hosting. The host makes sure your blog is available 24/7 to potential readers and it’s where your contents and files are stored online.
Most hosting companies will also provide you a free domain for the first year when you buy their services.
The wrong web host can cause many problems with your blog. Just imagine choosing a mobile company that has no reception. Your web host is a major piece of the puzzle to creating a blog that is well-functioning. Therefore, you must choose a reliable provider.
Based on our research and information available on the official WordPress website, Bluehost is a top choice in the opinion of many blogging experts.
- Free domain name
- 63% off regular price
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Step #5: Starting a blog on WordPress
This section provides detailed information to help you sign up for your web hosting account and install WordPress software. As an example, I will show you how to create a blog with Bluehost. I have included screenshots of the pages that you need to go through.
1. Visit the Bluehost homepage
Go to the Bluehost.com website. Then click the green “Get Started Now” button.
2. Select your hosting plan
You will start by picking a hosting plan. If this is your very first blog, you can go with the Basic plan. Later, you can easily upgrade to a Plus or Choice Plus plan once your blog starts growing. Explore what each plan offers, e.g. Choice Plus plan comes with Domain Privacy and some extras. If your budget allows, go with the recommended plan.
3. Set up your domain name
Your domain name will be your blog’s address, so you should take your time to come up with something unique and memorable. Just type in the desired name in this “new domain” box and Bluehost will show you whether it’s available or not. If not, it will provide you with a list of similar names to choose from.
Don’t worry if you can’t find a good name right away, you can skip this step and pick a domain name once you start a blog.
If you have already purchased a domain name somewhere else, you can use that name. Just type it into the “Use a domain you own” box.
4. Register with Bluehost
After you choose your domain name, Bluehost will take you to the registration page where you can fill in your personal info manually, or you can Sign in with your Google account to make the process even easier!
Add your account information
Start by filling out your personal information.
Select your hosting package
At this point, it’s time to select an account plan from the available options. Bluehost offers 12, 24, and 36-month packages.
With a 12-month package, you will have to pay a lower amount up front, but with the other two packages, you will get a better deal if you are ready for a longer-term commitment.
Review your package extras carefully. Not every extra is essential, and by unchecking the boxes of extras you don’t need, your total amount owing will decrease.
You can always add extras later if you find that you need them. I do suggest that you keep the Domain Privacy Protection box checked. This service will hide your personal contact information from the global database, which is publicly visible to anyone on the internet.
Now, enter your payment information. Check the box that you have read and agree to the TOS (Terms of Service), and click on the green “Submit” button.
Bluehost will send you a confirmation email when the payment goes through. You will also receive an email to verify your email address to activate your domain name.
Next, you will set up the Bluehost account. You are one step closer to starting a blog!
5. Create your account
Let’s create your account with Bluehost.
- Step 1. Click the “Create your account” button.
- Step 2. Enter your password and complete the account set up.
- Step 3. Your account is ready to go. Click the “Go to login” button.
- Step 4. Fill in the fields “Email or Domain Name” and “Password”.
You are all set. Next, you will start working on creating your blog.
6. Create your WordPress blog with Bluehost
After you log in to the account, Bluehost will offer a 4-step process to help you create a blog. I suggest you go with that procedure if this is your first time starting a blog.
You can also click the “Skip this step” button and work on blog formation from scratch on your own inside the Bluehost hosting account.
Four steps blog set up assistance process:
- Step 1. You will start the process by answering 3 questions: What kind of site? What type is it? And who is it for? In my example, I selected: Blog, Personal, Myself. You can select the same choices or pick what fits your individual case.
- Step 2. With this step, you can pick what else would you like to add on your site. Bluehost gives you a few options to choose from.
- Step 3. In this step, you need to answer a few questions such as the name of your blog, tagline, and how comfortable you are with creating websites. Note, you can always change this later.
- Step 4. Check out the chosen themes by Bluehost and see if you like any of them (if you don’t see a theme you like, skip this step). You can always change it and use a different one later. More information on this further on.
Once you complete setting up your blog with these 4 steps you will be taken to your Bluehost account page. At this point, the WordPress software is installed and your blog structure is set up!
7. Launch your blog
Inside your Bluehost account, you will see options to further customize your WordPress blog site based on Bluehost’s recommendations. These options are here for you to do some pre-launch customization to your blog.
After you click the “Launch My Site” button, your blog will go live!
If you open your website in a web browser don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t look quite right. It is just the first draft. Inside the WordPress dashboard, you will have to apply a few changes and add content to make it look polished and complete. I will show you how later!
You can access the WordPress blog dashboard from your Bluehost account by clicking the blue “WordPress” button in the top right corner of your screen.
Did you start a blog yet? → Click Here to Get Started
Next, as promised, I’ll show you how to find the right theme for you, and how to customize your blog.
Step #6: Select a theme and design your blog
The first thing your blog needs is a face (design and layout).
Installing a new WordPress theme is exciting and fairly straightforward.
Inside the WordPress dashboard, under the “Appearance” tab, click “Themes”. You will be presented with some popular options. You can click on the WordPress.org Themes button and search for free themes. There are more than three thousand themes available on WordPress.org.
The look and feel of your new blog rely on the theme you choose. Your first-time readers will notice the overall appearance of it before they even take a look at the content. Select a theme that looks great, but also works for your specific needs.
Here’s a quick guide for choosing your theme by searching within the WordPress dashboard:
- Read the description – Most themes come with a short description of features and functionality. Reading it can help you to figure out if the theme matches your needs.
- Preview the theme – Preview the theme (demo) to get an idea of the overall look, layout, and how customizable it is.
- Check the ratings – Star ratings will be visible in the preview and under theme details to give you a clear idea of how good the theme is.
If you can’t find a theme that you absolutely love, don’t worry. Settle on one that you like, and you can always change it in the future.
Once you install a theme, don’t be surprised if it still doesn’t look quite right. It is just a skeleton of a blog. To make it appealing, you’ll have to fill it in with content (text, photos, videos, etc.).
Should you choose a free or premium theme?
In my opinion, there are more than enough free WordPress themes to choose from for any blog topic.
If you don’t feel like searching through thousands of themes, you can easily start things off with either Twenty Twenty or Twenty Twelve themes. Both free themes are presented by WordPress.org and are popular with creators.
Remember, you can always pick a different theme later as you continue setting your blog. All of the pages and unique content that you create will be transferred automatically to a new theme layout.
If the current stash of free themes does not satisfy your particular desire, you can check the available premium themes. These themes are usually designed by third party companies and sold on different WordPress theme sites. The price range for single-use licenses ranges from $30 to $500, depending on which premium theme you choose.
Blog theme customization
Remember, your WordPress dashboard is the back end location where you will manage your new blog. It provides you with fast access to all of the tools you need to add content and fine-tune your blog functionality for the ultimate user experience. Your first step towards mastering WordPress is learning the dashboard.
WordPress has unlimited customization options so it’s impossible to cover everything in this “How to start a blog” guide. Instead, I’ll cover the first most important changes you should apply to your blog. For this example, I’ll be using the Twenty Twenty theme.
Make your blog’s logo
Inside your Bluehost account, you can find the “Make your logo” tool. If you didn’t do it yet while launching your blog, now is the time to get it done.
Once you click the checkbox, you will be taken to an AI-powered logo maker. It’s an easy to use tool that you can use to create a beautiful logo for your blog in seconds. Start by entering a name and slogan (if you have one), the tool will automatically generate different types of logos.
Select one logo you like the most, click on it, and further customize it according to your taste.
When you are done with your logo design, click the Download button and a new page will show up with your logo files ready to be saved to your computer.
Customize your blog
Now, let me show you where you can do general customizations of your blog. That includes: uploading the logo you just created (or will create in the future), editing the blog title and tagline, changing colors, uploading the background image, and making homepage settings changes.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be showing you how to apply these changes to the Twenty Twenty theme. If you picked a different theme the process could be slightly different. However, in most cases, all themes have similar customization options.
To start optimizing your blog, go to the WordPress admin dashboard. Locate the Appearance tab on the left-hand side and choose the Customize option.
Each WordPress theme will customize a little differently. In my case, I’ll show you the customize options for the Twenty Twenty theme.
On the left-hand side, you will see the following Customizing menu options:
- Site identity – Upload your logo, change site title and tagline, and upload site icon.
- Colors – Change your blog’s background color, header, and footer colors, and customize the primary color.
- Theme options – Select if you want to show a search icon in the header of your blog and show an author bio for your posts.
- Cover template – Make additional changes to the page template such as the overlay background color, overlay text color, and overlay opacity.
- Background image – Upload any custom background image you want to start using on your blog.
- Menus – Customize your blog’s menu, social media menu links, and change locations where they are displayed.
- Widgets – Customize your footer, add a description, and how to find you if you have a physical location.
- Homepage settings – Choose what’s displayed on the homepage of a blog. It can be the latest blog posts or a static page.
- Additional CSS – Add your own CSS code to customize the appearance and layout of your site (advanced option).
You can also check how your blog looks on different devices by using the menu at the bottom with three icons: desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
Many themes (e.g. the Twenty Twenty theme) come with the new Gutenberg editor that revolutionizes the way users build pages and write posts inside WordPress.
Gutenberg is a visual editor that works on a blocks principle. So, when you decide to add a new paragraph, heading, image, video, or anything else, there are blocks you can quickly add to new pages or blog posts.
This way, creating blog content is much easier for beginners, whether you’re building a landing page or writing a new article. Blocks can be rearranged into a layout you like, and they’re here to make your life easier.
Add plugins to your blog
Plugins are bundled pieces of code which affect the way your site looks and functions. They can add new functionality to your WordPress blog, extend your theme’s capabilities, and personalize a blog as a whole or in part.
While the majority of plugins are free, there are many that are offered for a fee, based on their unique functionality. At the moment, WordPress.org has more than 57,000 different plugins in the repository.
By default, when you set up your blog, Bluehost will automatically add some plugins they think are important for any website. You can review these plugins inside the WordPress dashboard and add new ones by clicking the Plugins tab on the left-hand side.
Here you can install new plugins, deactivate, delete, and update them.
Below, I’ll show you some suggested plugins that you should be using.
List of recommended plugins for bloggers
To save you time, I’ve selected some important plugins (free) for your immediate blogging platform needs:
- MonsterInsights – Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, to monitor and analyze your website traffic.
- Yoast SEO – A comprehensive SEO plugin for your blog, to optimize your content for search engines.
- WP Super Cache – Helps with the load time of your WordPress blog and delivers content to your readers faster.
- Akismet – Protects your comments and contact form from spam and prevents your site from publishing malicious content.
- Contact Form 7 – A contact form with flexible email options. It supports CAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering.
- Disqus – An alternative to the basic WordPress comment system with advanced administrative and comment capabilities.
- YARPP – Creates a related blog posts list at the end of each piece of content automatically to encourage people to continue browsing your site.
Congratulations, you just learned how to customize your blog and make design changes!
The next step is to learn how to write content for your blog.
Step #7: Write and publish blog content
So far, you’ve established a domain name, chosen your blog hosting site, set up a blog theme, and you are ready to go. Your framework is complete.
Now comes the moment of truth and you can actually start blogging. You need to learn how to write your first blog post. On the web, any useful information that you share with readers is called “content.” It must be something valuable that people will want to interact with and come back for more.
WordPress CMS is structured in a way that you can publish your content as Posts or Pages.
Before you begin publishing posts (day-to-day writing) on your blog make sure you fill in all the important static pages with content (such as About us, Contact, etc.). Let’s explore those types of pages.
Prepare and publish content on main pages
Depending on your individual needs you can decide what pages to publish. The following are the most common pages bloggers use:
- Homepage – This depends on what type of layout you choose. As I described above, when customizing your blog you can choose to display the homepage as a static page. In that case, you will have to prepare content for it.
- About us – The most traditional page on any blog is the “About us” page. This page tells new visitors what it is all about, who you are and why you run a blog about your niche topic.
- Contact – This page allows visitors to your blog to communicate with you. It can be a straightforward page with your email address plus your social network links, or you can use a simple contact form that visitors can use to communicate with you.
- Products, Services, Resources – Static landing pages with any additional information that you want to include on your blog.
The guidelines to publish a new WordPress page:
A blog page provides static content or information to the readers. Standard pages that bloggers use include: About, Contacts, Products, or Services. A page also can be a cornerstone (or evergreen) content with information that continues to be relevant to its readers. For example, this guide you are reading right now.
- To create a blog page in WordPress, log in to your dashboard admin area using your login details (username and password).
- Hover your cursor over the “Pages” menu item on the navigation menu located on the left-hand side of the Dashboard. Click “Add New”.
Write your first blog post
Creating blog posts inside WordPress is nearly the same as creating pages. However, for a blog post WordPress lets you select categories and tags while pages don’t.
Wondering how you can write quality blog posts? It’s simple.
Here is a simple 3-step approach to making great content of any type:
- Point – State your main blog topic idea that you are covering.
- Prove – Give an example of the idea you are covering.
- Perform – Give a simple way to execute the idea.
The guidelines to publish a new WordPress post:
In your first blog post, you can take a moment and introduce yourself. Tell your readers who you are, what motivated you to blog, and what you will write. The title of the post could be “Welcome to my blog”.
- Inside the WordPress dashboard on the left side, you will see Posts menu item.
- Hover your mouse cursor (or click) on the Post item. Then select “Add New”.
Next, I’ll talk about how to optimize your content for search engines.
Step #8: Optimize your blog content for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process that website owners use to get more traffic to their web pages from search engines (such as Google).
According to recent studies, 53% of all traffic for websites comes from organic search (.pdf). This number shows how important it is to make sure that you optimize your WordPress blog for search engines.
SEO involves many different tactics and techniques. As a blogger, you will have to get familiar with these. I won’t be talking about any advanced processes here. As a bare minimum, you will have to do the following for every blog post or page you publish on your blog: perform keyword optimization and add SEO meta tags on all pages.
This is the process of researching and selecting the right set of keywords that you think people will type in a search to find information like yours online.
Ideally, keyword optimization should be performed for any blog post or page. It’s important to select the main keywords (and related words) that you want to target for each page and make sure that you include these (and related words) within the content. This way it will be easier for search engines to understand what a specific web page is about when they crawl it and you have a better chance to rank higher in search results.
SEO meta tags
When you publish a new blog post or page, you will need to add SEO meta tags for each piece of content.
If you want to start ranking your content in search engines, this is an important step to complete. SEO tags should be prepared and added when you create a new page or a post inside WordPress. You can add SEO meta tags via free plugins, such as Yoast SEO.
The title tag length should be between 50-60 characters (this is what Google typically displays) and the meta description tag can be between 50-160 characters.
Promote, market, and grow your blog
By now, you’ve learned how to start a blog, how to create blog content, and how to get it discovered by search engines.
It is important to understand that you can write the most compelling copy in the world and design a blog interface that would sell people their own shoes. However, if no one sees it, all of your hard work is in vain. So, you need to know how to promote your blog.
Before you start promoting your blog, check if it’s ready:
- Make sure that your content is live and ready for promotion.
- Test your blog on different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) and browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge) to check that pages open correctly.
- Check your contact info and test your contact form to see if it works well.
- Test your social sharing buttons so that people can easily share your content.
- Ensure that you interlink your content so that people can easily find other important information on your blog.
- Give your visitors one or more ways to connect with you and subscribe to your email list.
- Set up Google Analytics to track your blog’s performance and visitors.
Let’s look closely at the basic promotion and marketing activities that you can apply to grow your audience once you start a blog.
Let everyone know about your blog
Get started by informing your friends, family, and colleagues about your new endeavor. Basically, you should let anyone know who might be interested in reading your content.
You should also do the following:
- Include your blog name (URL) in your email signature.
- Include it in your social media accounts or any online communities you are involved in.
- Use every opportunity to get the word out about your new undertaking.
Be active within your niche
Get active on relevant blogs, forums, groups, and social pages.
Blogger communities are a good way to connect with other bloggers in your niche. You can engage, build friendships, and help each other in spreading content.
Here are some popular activities you can do:
- Blog commenting. Start posting comments on other relevant blogs. It’s a great way to build relationships with top bloggers within your niche.
- Social media marketing. You should make use of the social media avenues that best fit your own niche and style. Choose the one (or ones) that best fit your needs and start promoting your content to grow your audience. Some of the most popular social media networks that bloggers use on a daily basis are Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Guest blogging. Take the relationship a step further and offer to write guest blog posts for another website. Just be sure that you guest post on reputable sites and that the content is directly related to your niche. Guest posting is an excellent way to build an online presence.
Promoting your content through other platforms
Before your blog becomes popular and starts to grow, you should look into leveraging other platforms on the web that already have some audience and readership. To give you a better idea, here are some of the techniques that you can use:
- Bookmarking sites. Submit your blog content to bookmarking sites that can offer your content to a lot of potential viewers who are searching for information within your niche. You should do this every time you publish a new blog post to spread the word. Here are some popular social bookmarking and content curation sites: Scoop.it, Reddit, Flipboard, etc.
- Content republishing. You can publish the same or slightly repurposed content on platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium. It’s best to publish content on your blog first, wait a few days while it gets indexed by search engines (Google), and then you can start posting it on other platforms. Also, make sure to link back to your original article as a source. You can learn about a republishing strategy here.
- Repurpose content. You can repurpose your content, create graphics, slideshow presentations, audio files, or even videos and publish it all on the platforms that support different content formats. Here is how you can make 64 pieces of content in a single day (PDF).
Getting organic traffic from search engines
By now, you already know that it’s important to optimize your content for search engines.
However, in order to increase your organic traffic, you will have to learn how to get your content to rank higher in search results.
There is no magic formula for higher rankings, but you should focus on the following factors:
- Create useful content for your readers, not search engines.
- Consistently create fresh and quality content.
- Make sure that the user experience is flawless.
- Ensure that your blog is secured (HTTPS), mobile-friendly, and loads quickly.
- Interlink your content and work on getting external links.
Advertising on the web (paid traffic)
Appropriate and well-informed use of paid media can help you to gain exposure and attention before your organic (naturally derived) traffic takes hold.
Paid traffic avenues include:
- Social media advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- Search engine advertising via Google AdWords or Bing Ads.
- Content discovery platforms such as Outbrain or Taboola.
Remember that you can always find other ways to promote your new blog.
Start building your email subscriber list
After starting a blog, you will begin attracting new readers and visitors. It’s a good idea to collect the email addresses of those who want to be notified when you publish new blog posts or share promotional offers. As people come to know and trust you, they will respond better to your promotional efforts.
Rely on the blogging fundamentals: a clear and well-functioning blog, focused and helpful information, engaging conversation, and practical advice. Your authority will come from helping and giving advice to your audience.
How to start a blog and make money
Monetization is the process of translating your blog activity into earnings.
You should keep in mind that blogging isn’t just about making money. It is about creating useful content and writing blog posts that will attract readers and make them come back for more.
When starting a blog think about adding content that will generate future income. Based on my own blogging experience, as well as from working with other bloggers, I’ve learned that specific kinds of content are more effective for generating money.
Here are types of content that you should consider writing and adding to your blog:
- Listicles or top list
- How-to guides
- Tutorials and manuals
- Product reviews
- Product comparisons
Now, let me show you some different ways how bloggers make money.
Blog monetization channels
Our case study of the blogging industry shows that 59.8% of bloggers make money through blogging.
But, how can YOU make money blogging? There are several options available, but below I’ll show you the best ways to earn income from a blog:
Running ads on your blog
There are seamless possibilities for you to run ads on your blog. Regardless of your niche, you can opt for ads that are specific to what you are writing about or ads that simply better serve your advertiser’s purposes.
Enrolling in affiliate programs
Affiliate programs are ways of teaming up with retailers to promote their products and benefit from successfully carrying out sales through a commission.
Some things that you need to consider when enrolling in affiliate programs:
- The number of affiliate sales will strongly rely on the number of visitors you have.
- You need to be credible enough for your visitors to click on your links.
Selling your products and services
If you are creative and entrepreneurial, you could consider using your blog as a venue for selling your own products and services. This is an option especially as your blog grows in readership, authority, and popularity.
There are WordPress plugins, such as the WooCommerce plugin, that you can easily integrate into a blog and start using to sell products online.
Selling sponsored posts
Advertisers are always looking for exposure and are willing to pay you for placing a sponsored post on your blog.
Those posts usually promote advertiser products or services and are a good way to make money from your blog. In the future, if you’re able to build a popular blog and become an authority in your niche, the advertisers could approach you to publish their posts.
Above are the most popular choices to earn money. However, there are more ways to monetize your blog.
Consider the possibilities, and then choose the method or methods that best suit you and your audience.
As a minimum, you should – from the very start – begin compiling an email list of your readers through subscriptions. Then, when you are ready to recommend products, you will have ready access to those who want to hear what you have to say.
FAQs before starting a blog
Few more things before you get started with your journey. Below are some helpful facts and common questions that many people ask before they start blogging.
Why are you starting a blog?
Answering this question will help you to establish clear goals for your blog.
Do you want to communicate something, like a message or an idea? Do you want to build a community around your love for a cause? Do you want to keep your followers and fans updated on the latest news with your brand? Do you want to explain how your product or service works and why people should buy it?
A blog can help inform, educate, promote, and even sell, but only if you are clear about your blogging intention from the start.
So, take some time to figure out your central message and the purpose of your blog. Here are some examples of why some people create a blog and enjoy blogging:
- To use it as an outlet for creative expression.
- To become self-employed or earn more money.
- To establish expertise and build an audience.
- To network with others and build a company
- To enhance writing and thinking skills.
Interesting fact, did you know that 61% of online customers make purchases based on recommendations from blogs.
Is blogging worth it and still relevant in 2021?
Simply put, Yes, blogging is still relevant in 2021 and beyond.
Technologies change. Business processes evolve. But I believe that making a blog today is still as worth it as it was 10 years ago. Blogs are a fantastic way of introducing your ideas, products, brand, business, and content to the world.
I’m not saying that blogging is easy. To be successful as a blogger you have to work hard and give your blog the attention it deserves, especially at the beginning. You’ll have to create quality content, interact in the comments section, promote your blog on social media sites – and then repeat.
Will you be able to motivate yourself to do it right, day in and day out?
Blogs are an excellent tool for community-building, but if you’re not willing to be the central voice, i.e. the focal person for it, you’ll have trouble maintaining it. Blogging is a public act that will put you in the spotlight. The more successful you become, the more attention you will receive for your words.
How do you start a blog for free?
This is one of the most common questions people ask.
Let me explain to you some ins and outs of free blogs. Several platforms allow making your blog for free.
- If you sign up for a free account, you will get to use the service on a subdomain of the platform. Your blog name will look like this: “blogname.wordpress.com” or “blogname.blogspot.com”. In the blogging community, this type of blog is a sign of an inexperienced beginner who likely won’t be taken seriously.
- Your free blog will be subject to rules and restrictions set by the platform. Free platforms may limit or prohibit you from using ads, 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 sooner rather than later.
So, what is the best way to build a blog?
To take any blog to the next level, you will have to start paying for it. That way you can get full control of your blog, access to more features, and a custom domain.
To get started right, I strongly suggest setting up a self-hosted blog and install WordPress software (free open-source) on any web hosting account.
If free blog hosting is currently the only option for you, create an account on one of the free platforms mentioned above.
Does it cost money to start a blog?
Starting a self-hosted blog is not as expensive as you might have initially thought. If you choose to host your blog with Bluehost that I recommend, you can have the environment ready for as low as $2.75 per month!
While usually, a domain would cost you around $15, with Bluehost, you will get one for FREE! The basic package also includes a free SSL certificate (which protects data transfers on your site and makes it safe), 50GB of storage, and unlimited bandwidth which means you can have as many visitors as you are able to attract to your blog. And this is more than enough to start with.
What to do if I already have a free blog?
For starters, don’t worry. If you decide to switch to a self-hosted WordPress, you can quickly and painlessly move your free blog to your new host.
Most of the blogging sites allow you to export the content to another site. And WordPress features a ton of tools that will automatically import the info to the new blog. If you are running a Blogger (Blogspot) site, let me show you how to move it to WordPress, step-by-step.
What should I blog about?
Often, people think that they should start blogging about popular topics so they can make money. And while the truth is that you might be able to attract a larger audience if you write about smartphones instead of blogging about something specific like tuna fishing, that’s the wrong way to go. In this case, it would show that you are writing about something that you might not completely understand and love. The result would be an unsuccessful blog that not even you would enjoy.
Instead, new bloggers should start a blog and write about something they love or follow. Even if it is a smaller audience, their passion and expertise will attract just the right people. If you choose to blog about something that you are passionate about, you will be able to connect with your audience, which will help you to grow and even earn money.
How do I find a profitable niche for my blog?
So, now you have picked a niche of interest, everything seems to be going great. What now? How do you start making money off of it?
Do a market search
The first thing to do is to check out the competition.
Here is what you can do:
- Perform a simple Google search for your niche main keyword and look who ranks in the first ten results.
- Check out social media networks, or even paper magazines to figure out your competition and see whether you’ll have the audience you want.
- Use free SEO tools to get insight into the volume of searches so you know what you’ll be dealing with.
If search volumes are very high with a lot of competitive websites, you might want to narrow your niche down. Explore all of the possible keyword ideas that would be of interest to the audience, so that you can find that sweet spot between great demand and low competition.
Check out how profitable your niche is
If you are planning to make money off a blog, you need to find out whether the niche you’ve chosen is profitable. You can once again easily check this with a Google search. When you type in your keywords, do you see any ads that pop up as the first result?
When brands or businesses are paying to advertise their products or services related to your niche, you’ll know you’ve picked a good topic, and you’ll be able to monetize your blog with ads.
Another method for monetizing a blog might be through selling affiliate products. Amazon, for example, has a nice affiliate program that allows bloggers to get up to 10% commission when they send a buying customer to them. For example: if you are blogging in the yoga niche, you could link to Amazon affiliate products like yoga pants, mats, etc.
How do bloggers get paid?
There are two main categories we can talk about when it comes to getting paid as a blogger. One is promoting third-party products the other requires you to sell your own products or services.
- You can get paid while promoting different products and services on your blog through affiliate programs or ad networks.
- Affiliate programs – you can get paid a fixed amount or a percentage for sale that comes from your site (CPA model) or some programs offer a revenue share model where you could be constantly getting a percentage from the amount of your referred customer spends.
- Ad networks – with ads you get paid for pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-impression (PPI), also sometimes referred to as pay-per-mile (PPM). You get paid for the number of visits (impressions) on the page where your ads displayed.
- You can earn money and get paid through selling your own products or services on your blog It’s a straightforward process but needs some involvement from your side. Here are some ideas to earn extra income as a blogger:
- Selling courses, training, and coaching
- Publishing sponsored posts and listings
- Selling products or consulting services
These are just some popular ways of earning money while blogging. Learn more about it through our beginner’s guide.
How much money can I make from a blog?
Can you make money and how much you can make depends on many factors.
Are you just starting out or have you been blogging for some time and have a group of people who trust you? Is it your primary focus or do you manage your blog in your spare time?
According to Glassdoor, bloggers in the United States on average earn $30,000 per year. Obviously, some earn a lot less, while there are influencers who have millions of people following them and can earn more than $100,000 per year. Some even say blogging for money gets them more than a million dollars per year.
Do you want to know how to make a living blogging?
Once you start your blog, you will have to work hard before getting that first paycheck.
Also, passive income needs time to start increasing. Different advertisements and banners will make sense only after you have a well-established blog. While it is possible to get a few bucks per click on a Google ad, you will have to develop your site and build an audience before that becomes a reality. So, when starting out, you can expect only a fraction of a dollar for each click, but do not let that discourage you. Everything has a start, so does your income from a blog.
How do I learn WordPress?
I always love to hear that someone is interested in learning WordPress or in general how to blog for free. That’s because I enjoy sharing the knowledge and experience I have been collecting for many years in this business.
I have dedicated an entire section of our site to learn WordPress where you can level up your WordPress skills and understand the best practices.
The section will guide you from the very beginnings of your WordPress site to advanced techniques that will teach you how to develop a unique site that both you and your visitors will love.
What to do if your domain name is taken?
Unfortunately, gazillions of awesome domain names have been already taken, especially if you aim for the most popular .com domain. But don’t worry. If you can’t get the domain you want while registering for a hosting account, Bluehost will help you by letting you choose one later.
In this guide, I describe how to set up a blog and get a free domain name after. Just by clicking the button, you can skip the domain registration process and install WordPress first. Try thinking about other options or maybe another extension like .net or any other that may be a good fit for your blog.
I have put together a guide to help you come up with a great domain name, so take your time and consider all the factors before registering a domain.
How to secure your WordPress blog?
To secure your blog, all you need to do is turn on the SSL certificate. It controls the data transfer on your site and makes it unreadable to nosy people who might sniff the data from the outside.
But before you start worrying that only tech savvy-experts know how to do this, let me show you how you can get a FREE secure connection in just a few steps:
- Login to your Bluehost account, choose the “hosting login” tab.
- Click on “My Sites” from the menu.
- Hover over the thumbnail that represents your site.
- Click the “Manage Site” option that will show up over the thumbnail.
- Select the “Security” tab at the top.
- Turn on the “Free SSL Certificate” by clicking the switch to “On”.
After toggling the switch, you should wait up to one hour before the changes become visible on your blog.
To quickly identify if the SSL certificate was successfully installed for your domain, check for the icon next to the URL of your blog.
If using Chrome, you should see a little green lock followed by the word “Secure”. This will indicate that the certificate has been successfully installed and that your blog is secured.
Congratulations! You’ve learned how to start a blog. You have your own domain name, hosting space and your blog is set up. Next, you will need to get familiar with the WordPress dashboard, make desired changes, start content creation, and promotion to become a successful blogger. Check out all our resources for starting a blog and learn how to blog successfully.