Start Blogging – Updated May 2019
Let’s start a blog!
Uh, so what’s a blog?
It’s the content part of your website where you publish blog posts. On a well designed website, it should be the it’s own section on a website. Like for this website, the blog is found at websitecreativepro.com/blog.
A blog is JUST A PART of a larger website. It’s primary function is to get search traffic from Google and to then turn that search traffic into email subscribers, product sales or advertising clicks.
That’s why you should start a blog. Because you want to grow your traffic and then convert that traffic into a specific purpose.
It’s weird to me how people use “blog” and “website” interchangeably, or worse they act like a blog is something radically different from a website – but a blog is simply a section of your website where published content is organized hierarchically.
How To Start Blogging Today
I have a separate tutorial on how to create a website that you should check out if you’re looking for a deep dive on creating a website (about page, contact page, homepage, design etc). For this how to start a blog guide, i’ll keep it more to the point on blogging specifically.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to skip any steps. You ready? Let’s do this! To start blogging we will need a few things like a domain name, a host and a content management system.
UPDATE: SiteGround has given WCP readers a 70% discount on ALL hosting packages for up to 36 months! Sign up today!
Here is an overview of what is on this massive (and free) how to start a blog guide:
- The perfect blogging platform
- Choose Your Blog Topic
- Create a website and start your blog
- Blog design inspiration
- Install a WordPress Theme
- WordPress Plugins
- SEO for Bloggers
- Writing Blog Posts Correctly
- Blog like a Pro
- How Blogs Make Money
If you like this PLEASE SHARE. It really helps me reach a wider audience
THE PERFECT BLOGGING PLATFORM
With starting a blog you have two options – self hosted or using a free platform. Self hosted means you create your own website that YOU own using a domain name and a web host that you buy.
On the back end you have a few different options for what will power your website. Movable Type, Drupal, custom built and so forth. WordPress is the leader because it is the best, particularly for beginners and advanced users alike.
What about Blogger.com or WordPress.com?
Using a free platform means you don’t pay for hosting but you also don’t own your website and have very limited control over it.
If you’re just looking to setup a personal blog and have no intention of making into a profitable asset and just want to share thoughts or ideas then I would use blogger.com with a custom domain name from Namecheap.
Why Does Everyone Use WordPress?
Very easy to setup. WordPress is so popular all web hosts now come with simple 1-click install of WordPress.
Easy to use. Creating content, adding products, pages, images, videos and links to your website is so easy with WordPress. WordPress is used by some of the biggest brands in the world like CNN and the BBC to manage their content publishing.
Total control over your blog. WordPress comes with some excellent tools so anyone can learn how to use to create a beautiful website. WordPress themes make designing your website the way YOU want an easy and fun process.
Excellent support community. WordPress is has a thriving community so you can always get help and advice for any aspect of your blog.
WordPress is secure. It’s constantly updated and supported so you never have to worry about running software that is out of date.
CHOSE YOUR BLOG TOPIC
As I covered in my “create a website” tutorial, the same rules apply. Do not be a money chaser. Too many people start websites and blogs on topics they read. What they end up doing is creating blogs that are simply echos of more popular blogs. Instead, think about what you’re really interested in and can provide value on.
Here is how you pick a blog topic:
1 – What are your skills? What do you know how to do that other people don’t know? What do people ask you for help with or advice on?
2 – What can you talk about and write about effortlessly? For a blog, you should confidently be able to write 100+ topic ideas.
3 – Money – What do people pay for in your topic?
Find the intersection of these three ideas and that should give you some idea about what topic you should create a blog about. It does not even need to be something “sexy” – It could be (and probably should be) something totally practical. My friend learned how to sail a boat and because of that experience created a how-to blog for sailing.
While those money chasers are spinning their wheels, creating low quality blogs about making money online, my friend is actually making money by providing something helpful to the world.
CREATE YOUR WEBSITE AND START YOUR BLOG
Now we need to create a website so we can start blogging. For this we will get a domain name, a web host and install WordPress. Three simple steps.
1 – Get your domain name at Name Cheap
Visit Name Cheap.
A domain name is the web address for your blog. My personal blog can be found at edgeofdavid.com. You’re going to need to come up with a good, catchy domain name. You have a few options for choosing a domain name. You can go with something that is brandable, your actual name or a keyword focused domain.
Don’t stress over this too long.
Simply visit Namecheap.com, and enter in your desired domain name. If it’s available go ahead and register it. If it’s not available, think of something else.
The reason we use Namecheap.com is because we want to keep our web host and domain name service separate. If you ever decide to change web hosts it’s a pain to do so if your domain name is registered at the web host.
- I would suggest getting your domain name for 2 years.
- Whois guard protects your privacy and is included with your purchase.
- With domain names you can only register them. This is a yearly cost everyone pays.
2 – Get a Hosting Account (SiteGround)
Once you have your domain name, it’s time to get a hosting account. Everyone and their mother suggest Blue Host (because they’re popular) but they are a pretty average host.
Another host that is also recommended by WordPress is SiteGround. SiteGround provides excellent customer support your blog will load faster than it will with Blue Host. This is important for Google because Google wants your website to be as fast as possible.
I use SiteGround and they are one of the top web hosts in the world. They cost $4 more per month than Blue Host but are just so much better:
First, visit SiteGround and purchase a “web hosting” package (you get a massive 70% discount using my link).
You may notice an option for “WordPress hosting” but you can safely ignore this.
WordPress hosting is a managed solution where they don’t allow you to have access to CPanel, the backend of your website. CPanel is where you can check stats, create emails, and do all sorts of helpful things. You want CPanel.
With SiteGround, you have three package options:
I would get GrowBig or GoGeek because they have enough resources to allow for your website to grow. You can also have multiple websites with the packages. Again you get a massive discount through my link so you can get some of the best hosting in the world for up to 36 months at a 70% discount.
Choose your package by clicking that orange button.
Next you’ll be on this page:
Select “I already have a domain” (the domain you registered at Namecheap) and complete the form to purchase.
3 – Connect Your Nameservers
Now it’s time to connect your hosting account to your domain name. This is done through changing the nameservers at Name Cheap to that of your hosting account.
It takes 5 minutes and it’s just a simple copy / paste process.
Look for your welcome email from SiteGround:
These are your nameservers. Next, go to your Namecheap account. You want to go into your domain name list and click on the manage button for the domain name who’s name servers you want to change.
Scroll down to where you see nameservers. Select custom DNS:
Then copy and paste in your namerservers from your SiteGround welcome email. Nameserver 1 goes on the top row and nameserver 2 goes on the bottom row.
When finished CLICK THE SMALL GREEN CHECK MARK to save it.
4 – Install WordPress
Log into your SiteGround hosting account.
Click on “my accounts” then you’ll want to click on the red button that says Go To CPanel. Click “proceed” if a security pop up appears.
Once in CPanel, click on “WordPress” under the auto installer section:
Now it’s time to install WordPress with a few clicks. Easy!
Click on the small “install now” button. You’ll see something like this:
Make sure you have https:// selected.
You get a free SSL with your SiteGround account. An SSL makes your website more safe and secure for your visitors and Google LOVES secure websites. If you have any issue just contact SiteGround support. They’ll take care of you.
Then choose the domain you want to install WordPress on.
Last, you can choose the directory. Leave this blank as you want to install WordPress on your root domain as it is called.
Underneath this you’ll see more settings:
Here you can give a title to the homepage of your blog as a short site description. You can change this latter in WordPress so no need to stress over this now.
This one is important. For the admin account, use an admin account name that is memorable as it will be your user name to log into your website.
Same with the password – Secure, but something you could remember so you can log into your website when at a cafe.
Congrats, you now have a website with WordPress installed. To log into your blog just go to example.com/wp-admin. Use the admin user name and password you just created.
BLOG DESIGN INSPIRATION
Blog designs can be over complicated. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and built my fare share of various types of websites.
For blogs, you have a few options:
- Niche website
- Influencer Pro
*these are just my own jargon 🙂
The blogroll is a no frills default style of blog layout where you show your latest posts first. This setup is good because it allows readers to find your latest content very easily. It’s weak though on introducing people to what your site is about.
If you lack design skills or your website does not have a lot of content, then go with the blog roll layout.
The most ideal layout for most of you reading this, the niche website layout is how I personally design ALL of my informational based websites.
This layout works because it has a clear call to action that quickly introduces the website and let’s a visitor know what the site is about, but more importantly it helps grow your email list or drive traffic to an important page (like how I drive traffic to my create a website tutorial here on websitecreativepro.com on the homepage).
This style is like the niche website, but the focus is more so on the blogger behind the website then the content.
Ramit built a 7 figure education business off the back of a one man blog he started. Now, he’s the face of his brand and on his homepage drives traffic to a quiz that leads into you submitting your email (and thus growing his list which directly impacts his business).
INSTALL A THEME
Let’s design your blog. This sections will show you how to install a WordPress theme. With themes you have both free and paid options. Checkout our continually updated guide on the best free and paid WordPress themes.
When you’re in your WordPress dashboard, go to: appearance >>> themes >>> add
Click on the theme you want to install. It will be downloaded and installed right from the WordPress directory. Make sure to click “activate” to make it go live.
Look through the themes to see if anything catches your eye (you can also sort by most popular). Just click the theme to install it with the click of a button.
These are themes you have to buy. They are not listed in the free WordPress directory. You buy them from a theme design shop. To install a premium theme:
Go to appearance >>> themes >>> add new >>> UPLOAD theme
Choose the ZIP file you want to install (aka your theme) and then click “install now” to install the theme.
Leave it as a zip file after downloading it. You can only upload compressed ZIP files.
My favorite free themes are:
Twenty Seventeen Theme – The flagship theme from WordPress. While the latest theme is the Twenty Nineteen theme, the Twenty Seventeen theme is still superior in my opinion. It’s simple, stylish and looks great on mobile devices.
Simple Theme – by Themify. My personal favorite free theme. Takes an hour or to understand how to use it. Comes with a backend builder to customize your website. You have to download it from Themify and upload it like you would a premium theme but it’s 100% free.
Hestia Theme – An ideal theme for any sort of small business or business oriented website.
*What is elementor?
Elementor is a page builder plugin. It allows non-techie people to create beautiful websites by adding drag and drop features to your website. The have a free version and a paid version.
My favorite premium themes are:
Ultra Theme – The theme that powers the website you’re on now. Ultra is simply my favorite theme because it comes with a built in page builder and you can create any sort of website with it. It also has a lot of helpful marketing features like being able to create sales pages and opt-in pages without needing a separate theme.
DIVI – DIVI is one of the most popular themes in the world. It has a front end page builder allowing you to have a lot of control over the look and feel of your website.
Avada Theme – This is the best selling theme on Theme Forest. It’s a theme that comes with the ability to customize various aspects of your theme however you want as well as coming with different templates you can download and use.
Theme Forest – Not so much a theme, rather it’s a marketplace. The most popular for WordPress themes.
For a complete overview of preferred themes checkout our WordPress themes guide.
A plugin is a a piece of software that acts as an extension for WordPress, giving it new features and functions. There are thousands of plugins you can install. What plugins you install is dependent upon what you need.
You can install plugins that add social share buttons, affiliate link management, contact forms and so much more.
To add a plugin to your website is a simple process:
plugins >> add new
What plugins should you install you may be wondering – checkout our list of essential WordPress plugins.
SEO FOR BLOGGERS
There are a two essential plugins all blogs should have. These plugins help with your blogs SEO and load speed.
SEO? SEO is short for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to structure your blog and it’s content so you can actually rank for various phrases in Google as away to get visitors to your website.
SEO is a billion dollar industry and there is a lot to learn. But one key thing you can do right now is to lay the foundation for strong SEO for your blog.
One absolutely essential plugin for helping you optimize your website for search is the Yoast SEO plugin.
To get started with, go to plugins >> add new and the search for “yoast SEO.” Install it and activate it.
What this plugin does is that it allows you to edit the meta data for your posts and pages.
By installing Yoast, you can easily edit titles, the URL slug and the meta description for all published content. It also gives a readability analysis for your content. Yoast SEO also creates a helpful sitemap for your website that you can submit to Google Search console to help index your site quickly and to get data on how Google sees your website.
Last, it enables your blog to have breadcrumbs enabled. Breadcrumbs give search engines and visitors a clear idea of where they are:
home >> blog >> category >> post title
You see this at the top of every blog post here on Website Creative Pro and it’s intentional. While not the prettiest, it helps visitors and search engines navigate your site with ease. This is achieved through pasting Yoast SEO shortcode for breadcrumbs into the top section of my blog posts.
Smush It is a WordPress plugin that compresses your images upon upload to your website. It reduces the file size and makes your website load faster. Simpy add new plugins and search for “Smush It.”
This plugin is a big deal because you’re going to have a lot of images uploaded to your website over time. This plugin will optimize every and all images.
The BEST Permalinks for Blogs
Permalinks are the URL structure of your blog post. By default, WordPress has it set to YourWebsite.com/p=1234
Let’s change it to something more helpful and logical. Here’s how to change it:
Settings >>> permalinks
So what is the best permalink structure?
For blogs, the ideal URL structure is this:
Because it helps give a nice structure for search engines and it helps separate blog posts from pages and affiliate links.
If you want to nerd out and learn more about the why, read the best permalink structure guide.
Create a homepage and a blog page
Once you set your permalinks, you can go ahead and create a dedicated homepage and a blog page (the blog page should be example.com/blog) if you’re going to create a niche website or an influencer pro website.
Just go to settings >> reading
Select the page you want to act as your homepage and then set a page to be your blog post page. Again, the permalink structure for you blog you can be set to whatever you want, but you it’s a best practice for SEO to just make it example.com/blog.
WRITING BLOG POSTS CORRECTLY
Writing content for a blog is not the same as a paper for school. There are a few things you need to know.
When writing a blog post title make sure it has a searchable keyword or phrase in it. Like if I was tying to rank a post for “best cheap headphones” I would make sure to have “best cheap headphones” in the title of the blog post. I would also add something extra on it to make it more click worthy.
Something like “best cheap headphones for introverts” is a much more interesting title.
Make sure to use a largish, 14px+ size font. You want your website to be easy to read.
Don’t make massive paragraphs too. No one wants to read a wall of text. Write 3-5 sentences then hit that enter button. This helps reader retention, time on site and again makes for a easier, more enjoyable reading experience.
It’s fine to have a sentence be all alone like this one.
Pictures and video
Use at least 1 picture in every blog post. Make sure the picture is a jpg and is of a small size, under 50 mb. This ensures your page loads fast.
Don’t steal pictures! You can find many places to get free, high quality pictures by checking out this page that is part of our resources.
Use pictures only when it’s demonstrating something or it’s the feature image of a blog post.
Inter-link your own content and link to other websites regularly. You can and should go back into older blog posts and link to newer content when it makes sense.
One page one purpose. Stay on message with each post you write.
Have a call to action. Ask your visitors to share your website or subscribe or buy your product or whatever! Ask them to do something.
I suggest you take some time out to read about some web design practices do’s and don’ts.
In online publishing, you can choose between H1 – H6 tags. You can select the tag you want to use here:
H1 is for the title of the page. The title you put here should already be marked as H1 by your theme. You should never use H1 for your actual content.
Next, use H2 for your main topics, then H3 for sub topics and H4 for topics within the sub topic and so forth.
Tags are important because it tells search engines what’s important and it gives a logical structure that helps search engines understand you content but also make it much more easy for visitors to scan.
Check Your Grammar
No one is perfect but a lot of mistakes makes you look dumb and it turns people off from trusting you. Check and double check your writing.
Make sure your titles and meta are done correctly
With the Yoast SEO plugin you can change the way the title and meta description is presented to Google.
HOW TO BLOG LIKE A PRO
Write what people actually want! It’s all about that 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should be writing on proven topics. 20% of the time you write whatever you want (because you may stumble on a topic people love).
Sounds simple enough but most bloggers end up writing all the time about what they think and feel or current events. Instead write for what people want, this will result in you creating content that is valuable and ti will result in you getting search traffic.
The types of content you should create:
Questions that answer questions people type into search Engines. How to do ______ in 15 minutes flat.
Shareable, list oriented blog posts and infographics that people will share on social media. The 7 best _______ you need to know about!
Long form blog posts that go after competitive keywords and are at least 3,000 words long. Best heaphones for teenagers.
Focus on providing, helpful valuable content
Value is not copying other more popular websites.
If you you find yourself needing to “check in” to see what others are writing, you may be copying. You may lack the creative potential to create WOW content or as I like to say, “best in class” content.
The kind of material that makes you trust your website and the person or people behind it as an authority on a specific topic.
Now, there is nothing wrong with hijacking your competitors most popular content. If it worked for them, it will work for you and is a good way to get a steady stream of traffic from search engines…
But if every time you need to publish new material, you find yourself looking to other website for inspiration; you’re in trouble.
- True though leaders, come up with their own ideas BECAUSE they’re not bullshit artists. In fact, you should have a backlog of ideas for your website that you want to create like: features, blog posts, products, services, ways to improve the user experience on your website and so on.
- Thought leaders are leaders because they live the life they talk about. They walk the walk. They talk the talk.
- They inspire you to do the same.
Bloggers who are writing on a topic they are an expert in:
- They live the change they want to see.
- They fight for freedom. Like a personal finance blogger fights for financial freedom.
- They challenge commonly accepted ideas.
- They build a small network of friends with other popular websites and the LINK and share other content from top performers.
Frustrations are Fuel For The Best Blogs in The World
Everyone has their villains.
1) It’s the heath and fitness website Kinobody.com that really wants to become the high quality resource for people who want to build a natural body. Their villains are the fitness bros on steroids who pretend to be natural.
2) For Ramit Sethi of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com it’s the personal finance “experts” who tell young people to budget their money and to not spend cash on lattes because it’s not an efficient allocation of resources. While a better solution in his opinion is to automate savings.
3) For Brett Mckay of The Art of Manliness his villains were the publishers of men’s magazines that defined manliness as simply sex, girls, drinking beer and getting 6 pack abs.
How you can use a current frustration as fuel to build an awesome blog?
Before you decide to create your website, think about the reason why you’re making it. Is their a villain you’re hoping to fight against? Not every website or consumer has a villain. But many do, and knowing this clears an astonishingly easy path of what to do next.
They may need it, but they may not want it
Too many marketers set out to create what they believe is the “worlds greatest product for ______” based on what they had wished they had when they started. This is not defeating a market villain.
The mistake they made becomes more apparent when they begin to attempt to sell the product because they are working backwards. You don’t create a product then try and find people who want it. It’s the other way around when it comes to blogging.
Your success depends on you taking the time to do the hard work that matters by understanding what your potential customers want and need in order to defeat their villains.
Lastly, Build a Brand
Google likes brands. They rank brands better, so curate and become known for something. If you’re a personal finance blogger it’s fine to talk about relationships as it relates to money for example, but always stay near your topic.
HOW BLOGS MAKE MONEY
Blogs primarily make money in a few different ways. Here are some of the most popular you can expect to leverage with your blog.
You may be familiar with Google AdSense, but there are actually numerous ad programs you can apply for and use on your website. Platforms like Media.net for example are an alternative to AdSense.
Ads don’t typically pay well unless you have a lot of targeted traffic and are using a network.
I LOVE advertising networks, they make the whole advertising process profitable and easy. In the past you would have to play around with ad placements and you would typically get paid a small amount per click and impression.
Advertising networks have a special relationship with Google and premium advertisers so you’re able to make much more money if you can get accepted into an ad network.
How to get Accepted into an ad Network
You need to reach a certain amount of traffic and page views before you can apply to an ad network. Some networks require you to have 10,000 visitors a month, others want a minimum of 30,000 visitors a month.
Focus on your content and building your website to at least 600 visitors a month, then start to look at advertising networks.
What networks should I consider?
- Ad Thrive
- Media Vine
The BEST way to monetize a new blog. Affiliate marketing is promoting products and getting a commission.
I’ve made tens of thousands of dollars from affiliate marketing. These commissions are from a dating product that costs $50 I promoted back when I had a dating blog for women:
Amazon Associates is probably the first program you should sign up for and use on your website. With Amazon Associates you can promote products sold on Amazon and receive a small commission
Here are my results from a four month old blog that has 25 pages of content:
With just a bit of work, I’m now making almost $100 a month from a blog. At this rate Amazon will be a big part of this websites earnings.
Affiliate Marketing Network
With affiliate marketing you have numerous networks you can leverage. There are some professional networks like NeverBlue.com – but these networks are designed for pay per click marketers typically.
Instead you can sign up for:
- Click Bank
- JV Zoo
These are the most popular networks.
Last are independent programs. These programs are run by individual business or content creators. Simply go to a website and look for a link in the footer for “affiliates” or “partners” or something like that. That’s how I became and affiliate for Evan Marc Katz. I found his site, liked his content and thought his product would be a great fit for my website.
This only works once you have decent traffic to your blog, but if you’re able to build out an audience companies will reach out to you to see if you would be willing to write a review of specific product or service they provide.
This is a win-win for you because the company will pay you to write the post and then on top of that they will give you an affiliate link so you get a commission if anyone purchases through your link.
Sponsored posts are not an option when starting out but it’s something to be aware of.
Your best bet would be to position yourself as a professional. Don’t blog about inappropriate topics. Drew Binsky used to blog at TheHungryPartier.com but changed his domain name to DrewBinsky.com. Why? The first domain name was not a brand companies would feel comfortable working with.
Create Your Own Products
The last way blogs make money is through creating various products and services. There are SO many options in this space.
Before you rush out and create a product you need to know who your audience is, what they want, how to market to them and what format they like the most.
Most bloggers don’t know this and waste time creating courses and ebooks their audience does not want.
One of the original ways to make money with a blog is to sell your own ebooks. You can create an ebook and sell it on Kindle or on your website. I sell my ebook through Gumroad because I can charge a price of what it is worth.
You can create online courses and sell them. For this your options are to use teachable.com or Udemy. One Udemy your courses will sell for $5-8 no matter what you price them at due to Udemy always running various discounts.
Udemy is ideal if you’re wanting to create a lot of niche specific 3+ hour courses on specific topics. Though your courses will sell for very little on Udemy, it can become a very passive income source if your courses rank organically in Udemy.
Teachable is generally the superior way to go for bloggers. With Teachable, you’re able to create a few high level, expensive courses and charge a lot of money for. They also have a built in affiliate program so you’re able to make quite a nice amount of money.
Last is selling physical products. For this you can sign up to Merch by Amazon that allows you to sell T Shirts, you can create and sell note books on Amazon, sell products on Etsy (or be an affiliate for Etsy) or your can create a private label product and re-brand it as your own.
START A BLOG CONCLUSION
So that is it for my “how to start a blog” guide. This guide is updated on a monthly basis.
If you liked it, PLEASE share it so Google knows you think it’s valuable.
Next, subscribe to the YouTube channel. It’s where my most of my current focus.
Lastly, if you like this sort of content the subscribe to the email list where you get a free course on how to create a website and grow it with SEO: