How to Start a Blog
Learning how to start a blog has been a wonderful decision we took three years ago. If you’re reading this right now, it’s probably because you are in the process of or are thinking about starting one also.
There are many reasons to start a blog. You may want to attract an audience or create opportunities. Perhaps you want to make money or tell your story to help others. Or maybe you want to grow your business or simply blog as a hobby. Whatever reason it may be, blogging does not have to be complicated nor do you need to be the most experienced writer.
In fact, starting a blog is quite easy thanks to blogging platforms that don’t require you to be tech savvy. It’s a great opportunity for sharing what you are passionate about to help others. Whether you want to start a travel blog like us or one focused on nutrition, we are here to help you learn the basics on how to start a blog in 6 easy steps.
How to Start a Blog
Step 1: Choose a Name and Niche For Your Blog
Picking a name and a topic of focus is probably the most fun and hardest part of starting a blog. First, you need to know what you are passionate about because it will reflect in your writing. Perhaps you’re not quite sure and want to narrow your niche. You can brainstorm by looking at your social media accounts.
What are your pictures about? Do you share travel pictures? Quotes? Exercise posts? What about your hobbies? What do you do on weekends? Do you collect something? Do you spend a lot of your time counseling others?
Next, pick a name. Your name will become your brand, so think of it as a business. You’ll want to pick a short and interesting name that will be easily remembered and matches your brand.
Another important factor is that all social media platforms have the same name available to match your blog. Before gaining readers on our blog, we had two name changes. One blog had no topic of definition. Then we created a travel blog with a different name. It didn’t feel right. We finally landed on Life Beyond 520 which depicts who we are. Don’t make our mistake because starting over isn’t fun. Think carefully about your blog name.
Step 2: Set up Hosting
We use Bluehost for our website to have an online address. Basically, getting hosted means renting a space on the internet for your blog using your preferred blog name. Prices vary, but with Bluehost you get a great deal. Prices start at an affordable rate of $3.95 per month and vary according to your blog needs.
Bluehost has been a great choice for us because it has worked amazingly well. They have great 24/7 customer service and even a 30-day money back guarantee. It was also very simple to start a blog through them, which is why we highly recommend them as a hosting service.
To get started, simply click on the Bluehost image below and follow the instructions provided.
A. Get Started
The first thing you will do is click the “Get Started Now” button.
B. Choose your plan
The cheap version will work great when you begin. As you grow, you can upgrade to plus or prime.
C. Pick a domain name
Enter the domain name you chose on step #1. For example, ours is lifebeyond520.com. If the domain name you want is not available, you can check other names you brainstorm until one is available.
D. Enter Account Information & Pick a Package
Simply enter your information to create your account. Then you will need to pick a package. We do recommend domain privacy.
E. Package Information
Enter your billing information.
F. Choose a Password & Login
First, you’ll need to create your Bluehost password. Once you have done so, log in.
G. Pick a Temporary Theme
When you are logged in and this page comes up, pick a temporary theme. This can be changed later and we explain it more in step #3. This is how your website will look.
H. Install WordPress
Once you have pick a theme, the following image will show up. Click the ‘Start Building’ button to Install the WordPress program.
WordPress is the program you will use to create beautiful content for your site. With it, you don’t need to learn any code. Most bloggers use this platform as it makes blogging for beginners a whole lot easier! We use WordPress for our blog and we love how it functions.
I. You are all set! At this point, you may begin writing blog posts and you can launch your site. However, we recommend waiting until you play around with the platform a little more. You can write posts, add pictures, add widgets, change the theme, install plugins, and much more. To learn more, check out the next steps.
Bluehost Dashboard: Now that you installed WordPress, you can click ‘my site’ from the left panel to get to your site or, you can type your domain name and add ‘wp-admin’ at the end and type it in the URL search bar. Example: www.yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin. This will take you to a login page where you will type your new WordPress password and username.
Step 3: Pick a WordPress Theme
Get ready to have some fun and to get creative! Your website needs a theme. Themes give you the option to pick the aesthetic part of your blog and how it functions. WordPress has many free themes to choose from at the beginning, especially if you’re on a budget. However, if you want a more professional look, we recommend purchasing a premium theme on Themeforest or other sites. Ours was purchased with Meks.
Premium themes are worth the investment because they give you more options for designing your blog. The premium theme we use, allows us to have a magazine style home page.
If you go with Themeforest or Meks, you will download a .zip file that you will then upload into WordPress. Just go to “Appearance”>”Themes>Upload a New Theme.
You’ll want a theme that is easy to navigate. Consider having a side bar, an “about me” section, and a responsive theme. A responsive theme means your blog will look great on all types of devices; tablet, phone, and desktop. This is important considering many people will read your blog from their smart phone.
Step 4: Install Plugins
Plugins will make your blogging journey so much easier! Trust us. If you’re like us and don’t know computer coding to create sites, installing plugins is the way to go. Plugins allow you to get creative and install features that you wouldn’t be able to do yourself, such as a pretty Instagram Feed or sharing buttons. On our website, we have installed some plugins that have greatly helped us transform our page into a more functioning one.
These are just a few of the type of plugins you’ll want:
–Email List– You will eventually want to collect emails so your readers don’t miss your posts. We use Mail Chimp and Sumo to help us with this.
–Share Buttons: Readers can share your content through their favorite social media with the click of a button.
–Contact 7 Form– Readers can email you via your site (goes to your personal email through the website).
–Add Space for Monetizing– You can also monetize your blog by placing an add on the sidebar, using affiliate links, writing sponsored posts and many other ways. You can start with placing an ad on your sidebar since the start of your blog, and as you grow you can start monetizing in other ways.
–Instagram Feed– Readers can see your Instagram on your site and can easily press a follow button.
–Akismet– You will need this plugin to protect you from spam.
–Yoast SEO -This is an optimization tool to help you write great blog posts that can rank higher on Google. The higher you rank on Google, the faster your readers will find your posts.
–Google Analytics– This is what we use to find out the amount of visitors we have, how long they explore our site, what countries they visit from, what times they read our blog, and so much more.
These are just a few of the ones we use, but you’ll need to be careful as adding too many plugins can slow down your website. So, ironically, you’ll need to install a plugin that helps with website speed.
Step 5: Social Media
The best way to start getting blog traffic is to create social media pages for your blog where you’ll direct your readers to your site. Create a Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google+ accounts. You don’t need to be active on all of them from the beginning. Just create all the accounts using the same name as your blog if possible and start focusing on one or two platforms.
Keep track of where most of your traffic comes from (using the Google Analytics plugin) and focus mostly on that platform to gain traffic. On our blog, most readers come from Pinterest and Facebook, so we focus the most time on those two platforms for traffic. However, we also love Instagram and spend a lot of time on it sharing pictures of our travels.
Step 6: Start Creating Great Content
This is it! It’s time to start writing! Yay! Don’t worry about being perfect at the beginning. Just try your best. Over time, you will learn how to get better and you will find your style and voice. In fact, we are still in the process ourselves and we work every day toward improving ourselves. So, what makes great content worthy of being read by thousands of readers across the globe?
-Write Often-Practice makes perfect! Plus, the more you blog the more articles will be floating on the web for users to read.
-Blog Post Layout-Use headings, subheadings, spaces, photos, and break content in short paragraphs so it can be easily read
-Be Original-Try to be yourself on your blog. Create new ideas. Take certain type of pictures. With a blogging world saturated with similar content, you’ll have to be creative to stand out.
-Help Your Readers and Create a Community-People come to your blog to learn something from you. Make sure you write to help or inspire them. On our site, we write about places to help readers plan a trip to places we’ve been to. On our Instagram, we post pictures and captions that will inspire people and mostly couples to travel. And don’t forget to engage with your readers by responding to their messages. Afterall, they took time out of their precious day to leave some love on your blog.
-Don’t be hard on yourself- Success doesn’t always come quickly. While a new blog may gain thousands of readers quickly, or an Instagram page gain thousands of followers in no time, it’s easy to compare yourself. Try not to! Instead, focus on getting better each day. Look at what the most successful bloggers in your niche are doing and learn from them and find your own style.
-Take a Break-Once you start blogging you’ll realize the countless hours you will spend dedicated to your blog and social media platforms. You’ll spend a lot of time researching, writing, editing posts, editing pictures, engaging with people on social media, reading about how to create a successful blog, and more. Don’t forget to take breaks and to walk away from your computer to do something else. Having a clear and rested mind, will help you come back to your writing and create better content. Balance is key!
And don’t forget, learning is a never-ending process in this blogging world. Like I mentioned before, we are still learning and we are still improving ourselves here at Life Beyond 520. Just be passionate and authentic about what you write, and you will slowly but surely start to see traffic for your blog. Remember, practice makes perfect!
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We are not the biggest experts, but if you have questions send them below and we’ll try our best to help you out.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links meaning we may be compensated for recommending services mentioned throughout our post at no cost to you. However, the services we recommend are ones we use and honestly recommend to those who want to learn how to start a blog.