So you’ve seen all these awesome blogs online and decided it’s about time that you got in on this blogging game — after all, you’ve got some stories to tell and your Instagram photos always get plenty of likes.
But why do you actually want to start blogging? There are loads of different reasons to blog, some people just want their face on the internet, some just write for themselves or create a portfolio, many want to reach a like-minded audience, get some customers or make a little income on the side. Most bloggers simply want to share their thoughts on things that they like.
There’s an element of needing to just go for it and get your blog out there, but don’t underestimate the power of planning. If you eventually want to work with brands or monetise your blog, decide on a direction and map out how you’ll get to that point. Your blog will take a different shape depending on what you want it to achieve.
Still not sure where to go now? Our beginner’s guide to starting your blog and growing it fast will get you on track:
What is your blog going to be about?
Our advice is to blog about what you love. Choose a topic that you know absolutely loads about — even better if that topic is something that your friends like hearing about. You’re going to be writing about this topic day in, day out so you need to choose a topic that you won’t interest in later down the line.
Know what you’d love to write about? Now’s the time to find out if it’s a viable niche. In other words, do other people want to read about it? Some niches are really oversaturated — like travel blogging, for example. You may need to go more and more niche until you find that sweet spot where there’s an interested audience and not too many other bloggers already writing about it.
Great examples of niche travel blogs:
Bear in mind that some subjects are easier to monetise than others if making money is a concern as well. There are plenty of companies willing to pay bloggers to feature their running shoes for example, but you’d be hard pressed to find a company that will sponsor you to write about Ancient Persian poetry.
What are you going to name your blog? This big, burning question boggles many new bloggers! Is that name too obvious, or not obvious enough? Should your website name include your own name? Has someone else already chosen that name? Is it memorable? There’s a lot to consider when naming your blog.
Unique — There are loads of blogs out there and you need something to set you apart. Check to see what others in your niche have named their blogs, avoid overlap.
Relevant — Your blog name should be relevant to your niche, otherwise people won’t be able to tell what your blog is going to be about. Think about what your keywords will be and whether they should be part of your blog name.
Your name — Many bloggers choose to use their own name as part of their blog. This could be because they’re using their blog as a portfolio to promote themselves, to get work, or because it’s going to be a very personal story. Other bloggers chose to name their blog something completely different because they want the blog to be more focused on a niche and less about them personally.
Easy to spell — If people can’t spell one of the words in your blog then they are less likely to find your blog — and you’ll have one less potential reader. Also, be wary of differences between UK and US spellings — for example ‘traveller’ and ‘traveler’ could cause problems.
Social media — Check that your chosen blog name is also available on social media. You don’t want to find out later on that someone else is using the Twitter handle that has the same name as your new blog. Consistency is best.
Deciding on a name for your blog is a big moment as it’s something that’s difficult to change. Think about it carefully before making a final decision.
Now you’ve decided the basics, it’s time to choose which platform to use to start your blog. WordPress an incredibly popular platform that works very well for most blogs most of the time, but some bloggers may prefer to use Blogger or SquareSpace. In most cases we’d recommend choosing WordPress for your blog because WordPress developers are creating exciting new plug ins every day.
Free Blogs vs. Self-Hosted Blogs
You’ll also need to choose between blogging on a free platform or a self-hosted platform. You have two options when choosing a domain: 1) use a free domain that is owned by WordPress (blogname.wordpress.com) or 2) buy your own domain (blogname.com).
Free platforms are great for bloggers just starting out or blogging as a hobby, but if you want to make some serious progress in blogging then we’d recommend going self-hosted.
If you’re on a free platform it means that the blog platform owns your website and may restrict ads on your blog. A self-hosted platform means you own your own domain and you have more freedom to customise your blog and to use plugins.
If you want to monetise your blog in any way, then you simply must own your own domain name. Brands are very rarely interested in working with blogname.wordpress.com websites.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same! WordPress.com is the free platform and you can buy add-ons like a premium domain name. WordPress.org is for bloggers who want to be self-hosted and own their domain.
To get your blog online, it needs to be hosted. A web hosting service takes your blog and puts it on the internet so that your readers can see it. WordPress lovingly describes hosting as “the soil in which your flower (blog) will grow”.
If you want your website to be able to cope with growth, you’ll need to pay a web hosting company to host your website. It’s an important decision because your web hosting service will determine how quickly your webpages load and will be the ones you go to if anything goes wrong.
The web hosting market is very competitive at the moment, with plenty of companies trying to undercut each other on pricing. I’d recommend ringing around and seeing who can give you the best deal and the best service. Plenty of web hosting services offer killer introductory deals, then ramp up the price after the first year. While changing your web hosting company is a genuine hassle, some budget bloggers regularly change their web hosting company to repeatedly land those introductory offers.
Two of the most popular web hosting companies are HostGator and Bluehost (but popular doesn’t necessarily mean best). Smaller web hosting companies such as Siteground or Ninja Hosting will often have better customer service should anything go wrong.
Finally, the fun part!
When you’ve made it to this stage, you’ll need to think about how you want your blog to look, what the layout will be like, the colour schemes and the branding. A great blog design is the way to attract people to your blog and get them to stay on your website for longer.
Theme — Making your blog look pretty is as simple as choosing a theme. There are literally thousands of themes to choose from and there are plenty of free ones if you’re using WordPress. You can purchase premium themes on websites like Theme Forest or Etsy.
You can activate a theme by going into the WordPress admin sidebar and clicking “Appearance” then “Add New”. Make sure that whichever theme you choose has been updated recently (otherwise it may not work with the latest version of WordPress). Don’t forget to use the “Preview” tool before you install the theme.
Plugins — If you’ve got a self-hosted blog, you can use plugins. These are awesome tools that enhance the functionality of your blog and make it even better for your readers. We recommend all the following for starting your blog:
Google Analytics — You need to install Google Analytics so that you can keep track of and analyse your website traffic.
Yoast SEO — A super useful plugin for improving your SEO and helping you write more SEO-friendly blog posts.
AddThis Smart Layers — Social media share buttons for your blog.
WP Super Cache — Speeds up the load time of your WordPress blog.
Akismet — Protection from comment spam.
Custom Logo — A custom logo is an essential part of your blog’s branding, which should communicate what your blog is all about. If you are a budding graphic designer then you could make your own with a free tool such as Canva, or you could have one made for you inexpensively with a site such as Fiverr.
As soon as you’ve made a decision about your blog name and purchased your domain name, make sure you nab all of the social media handles of that name for your blog as well. Even if you’re not sure that you want to use a particular social media channel, nab the name to make sure it’s there if you want it later on.
There are a lot of social media platforms now and it can be hard to know which ones will generate the most traffic for you. We’d recommend picking 2 or 3 to focus on. Decide which platforms are most relevant for you by finding out where your target audience are hanging out.
Facebook — Facebook is great for bloggers who want to create a community with their audience. It allows for more text and discussion because there aren’t any word limits in place like on other platforms.
Twitter — When it comes to gaining content shares, working with brands and sourcing opportunities, an active Twitter profile tends to pay off big time. Twitter allows you to connect with influencers and getting your content shared by them could rocket your traffic.
Instagram — Instagram’s target audience tend to be much younger, mostly in their early 20s. Instagram is for the generation who prefer to browse the internet on mobile and for bloggers with great photos aiming to reach this age group.
Pinterest — If your blogging niche is going to be very visual or creative, then Pinterest is essential. It’s worth noting that 70% of Pinterest’s users are female and are mostly under the age of 35.
Snapchat — Rising in popularity, Snapchat is great for fun, live updates. For bloggers who plan on being constantly connected it can be perfect for engaging with your audience.
Once you’ve selected the right channels, brand your social media profiles so that they match your blog. This will make your blog much more memorable because readers will be able to associate your social media and blog.
If you really want to generate a buzz around your blog, consider starting up your social media channels before you officially launch your actual blog. You can set up a newsletter and encourage followers to sign up and get excited about your blog. Be sure to have lots of content ready on your blog for when it does launch.
If done right, social media can massively propel your traffic and grow your blog.
If you’ve followed the above steps, then the only thing that your blog is missing is content, so get out there and get creative! Write about topics that you love and that your readers are interested in and see what topics are trending in your niche.
Make your blog post content as valuable as possible to encourage readers to share your content on social media come back to your blog for more. Work on writing content that is SEO-friendly so that Google notices your blog.
Think about including different kinds of content too, such as videos, infographics and podcasts. You may want to create a content schedule so that you have an idea of what you’re going to post on your blog and when.
Promoting your blog is the only way to reach blogging success. Here are some of the different ways that you can promote your blog:
Network — Connect with other bloggers and companies in your niche on social media and comment on their blog posts. You can network offline as well, at blogger events, local cafes or anywhere where there might be people interested in your blog.
Join Social Media Groups — Join blogger groups on Facebook where you can discuss blogging strategies and ask for blogging advice. Join in with relevant Twitter chats in your niche to gain some exposure.
Guest Post — Once you’ve connected with some bloggers in your niche, offer to guest post on their blogs. Doing this will let you reach a ready-made audience who may be interested in your blog too. This will help to raise your blog’s profile and improve website authority.
Build a Mailing List — Start building a mailing list right away. Readers can subscribe to your blog to get regular updates and this will be really useful if you later decide to monetise your blog. have all
Blog Directories — Submit your blog to blog directories. There are lots of free directories where you can list your blog and many industry-specific directories too.
Ready to start your blog?
Building a blog is a labour of love and one of the most rewarding things that you can do with your time, but knowing how to get started can be a challenge. Download and share our free blogging checklist and work your way up to blogging success!