Advising how to create a blog is easy and completely useless. If you aren’t really passionate about anything, if there isn’t something you can talk about for hours on end, then building a blog is not for you and there is nothing to discuss.
If such a topic – or topics? – exists, then advising how to share it with people is rather useless. Chances are, you are doing it anyway, regardless of how willingly the audience listens. Besides, I am sure you’ve already found other people, who share similar passion.
All the same, in case you wish to achieve an even greater reach, be that for business or personal reasons or just to avoid the eye-rolls of friends and relatives, I can share a few technicalities that can help you get going.
This article should remove all doubts and uncertainties and should tell you everything you need to know about creating a blog: from blogging basics to how to make money with a blog.
In case something is amiss or unclear, don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments below. So without further ado, let’s get going!
The State of Blogging Industry 2018
Chapter 1: What is a blog?
I did mention that I was going to tell you everything, right? I know that there are many of you out there who know what a blog is. But, if you could resist the urge to scroll down to the next header, I promise that this section will be fun and informative.
So, the first blog ever was created by Justin Hall, in January 1994. This college student was so ahead of his time, that he created a blog before the word ‘blog’ was even invented (the term blog first appeared in 1999). Justin still calls it his “personal site” which, more or less, is what a blog is today – a frequently updated online log.
But, the blog as we know it today has become way more than a simple diary on the World Wide Web. Blogs today have earned a spot among the top five most reliable sources of information on the internet. They form the online backbone of the information age and are used by companies and individuals and have become an invaluable communication tool.
And why is that?
Well, blogs are written by individuals and companies who are passionate about something. And being passionate about something makes you learn things about it, think about it, invest time in it. Eventually, it could make you an authority on the topic.
Chapter 2: Why blog?
There are so many reasons why you should create a blog.
People love blogging!
There about 1.5 billion blogs on the internet. Individuals, small businesses, and even large corporations are members of the blogging community. Blogs are also very important for marketing and PR; they boost e-commerce sales and are ideal for revamping a business’s image.
Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge with the rest of the world
You don’t have to be an expert in quantum physics or a tech-geek to run a blog. You don’t even have to be a fascinating writer, for that matter. All you need to do is write about something you care deeply about. There are many ways to present any given topic but the most important thing is to be honest, so that the blog can become the embodiment of your thoughts, knowledge and opinions. You can be informative, provocative, educational, entertaining and a thousand other things – you and your topic will shape your blogging persona. Once your blog begins to acquire a specific individuality, it shall attract like-minded people.
(Cooking blogs are the reason why I sometimes enjoy a home-cooked meal on my desk, instead of the usual take-out.)
Cold hard cash
As you may or may not know, you can make money with blogging. That will, of course, take a bit more than just writing about your favorite topic. But don’t worry – we’ll talk about that in a designated section below.
Now, how to start a blog?
I’m going to cut to the chase here and go straight to the first thing you MUST consider once you have a (vague) concept about what you’re going to be blogging about. And that is:
Chapter 3: Choosing a blogging platform
This is probably the most important decision you have to make on your road to becoming a blogger. Trust me, switching to a new blogging platform months after you’ve started posting is NOT something you want to do.
So, which one?
There are many options to choose from, so I won’t waste your time by describing each and every one of them. I will, however, introduce you to the main differences between the major blogging platforms. Knowing these differences is CRUCIAL in choosing the right blogging solution.
Many of you may be wondering how to start a blog for free.
There is nothing wrong with that, except… almost everything.
Starting a free blog really isn’t a good idea at all, unless it is for really casual blogging, once or twice per year. Below, you will see some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and so on.
Self-hosted vs. free blogging platforms
A lot of you may be wondering about how to start a blog for free. There is nothing wrong with that, except, well, almost everything.
Below, you will see some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, and so on.
- Your domain name will sound like an e-mail address
most free blogging platforms don’t allow you to connect your site to your own domain. What’s the point of thinking of that super-catchy blog name, if it’s going to be followed by the blogging platform’s domain?
Which sounds more appealing to you:
yourawesomeblog.com or yourawesomeblog.bloggingplatformname.com ?
…I thought so…
Even if you go with a blogging platform where you can point your own domain to your blog, there is going to be a catch: your blog would no longer be free.
You’d have to pay for the domain registration. In some cases, you’d even have to pay a certain fee for the platform to actually accept your domain name.
Having your own domain name from the start is a big deal when it comes to blogging. I will tell you more about that later, but for now we’ll move on to the next reason why you should choose a self-hosted platform.
You won’t own your blog
It may sound weird, but it’s true. Using the aforementioned “free” blogging platforms means that your blog is hosted on someone else’s web space (i.e., it means that they own it). To put it even more bluntly:
They can delete your blog if they want!
Free blogging platforms have somewhat narrower codes of conduct when compared to most web hosting companies. Should they decide that you have violated their rules, you would be out of the blogging game in no-time.
Limits upon limits
I saved the “best” for last – the limits free platforms impose. We’re talking about limited storage, limited design options, limited monetization (or no possibility of monetizing your blog whatsoever). Free personal blog sites can come at a very steep price, in the long term.
On the other hand, a self-hosted blog gives you much more freedom in terms of design. It also allows you to monetize your blog and earn some cash through your own hard work.
It is, after all, about the freedom of expression as well as and the freedom to make some $$, right?
So that’s that. You should definitely go with a self-hosted platform. The platform I strongly encourage you to use is WordPress.org. (Not to be confused with the hosted WordPress.com I mentioned before.)
WordPress.org is an open-source software that you can install (for free) on your hosting space. Don’t freak out though, it’s not as complicated as it may sound.
Because WordPress powers 28% of all websites in existence, and because it is the platform of choice for 96% of all bloggers AND it is completely free!.
But you have to give something to get something, right? In this case, the only things you’d need to pay for are a domain name and hosting plan. And those, as you will see later, aren’t a big expense.
Chapter 4: Domain and Hosting
Before we move towards the more practical aspects of the discussion on how to make a blog, there are still a couple of things you need to decide upon.
Remember when I mentioned that domain names are a big deal? They still are, and now I’m going to tell you why.
Think of your domain as your blog’s permanent address. You do want people knocking on your door, right? To ensure that your visitors keep on coming back (without getting lost along the way), you need to make that address catchy and easy to remember and spell.
You are asking someone to visit your blog and read that fabulous article you just published.
You are giving directions to someone to visit your blog and read that fabulous article you just published.
- You have to check out my latest article!
- Sure, where?
- 4-leaf-cl0ver-dot-com. But, four is the digit and, um, ‘clover’ is written with a zero instead of the letter “o”…
Congratulations, you have now completely confused your potential site visitors. Chances are, they won’t bother to explain that to other people, either. This is not what I meant when I said ‘catchy’.
Again: keep it short, and sweet, simple and easy. There is nothing wrong with fourleafclover.com (except that it’s taken, but you get my point!). Avoid using hyphens, digits and obscure terms.
You can get your domain upon registering for a hosting plan. But, if you’re in a rush to secure that catchy name you’ have just thought of, you could check our list of the top domain registrars to find some sweet deals.
If the domain is the address, think of hosting as your blog’s house. You want your blog to be comfortable, with enough room for everything, right?
There are many hosting providers out there that will host your blog at a very reasonable price. Not only that, but you could also get a free domain, a professional looking email and a WordPress installation with a few clicks – all in the same place.
SiteGround is an excellent place to get all of what I mentioned above, (and more).
Get Domain & Hosting in this Simple Steps.
Turning to SiteGround to get all of what I mentioned above (and more) would be a great call. Registering an account with this hosting provider only takes a few simple steps.
Step 1: First of all, you will need to choose a plan that suits your needs the most. Blogger-newbies should go with the StartUp plan and upgrade as the blog grows.
Step 2: The next step is entering your domain name. Here, you have the option to choose between getting a domain on the spot or, if you have already registered a domain, you could connect it to your newly purchased hosting plan. Transferring an existing domain to SiteGround is free of charge.
Step 3: Then, you must fill in a short, standard signup form. After you’ve entered your payment information, you’d move to the next step of the process where, you can choose the billing cycle of the hosting plan. You could choose a 12-month subscription for a lower up-front price or a 36-month subscription for a lower monthly price.
Step 4: You can also select additional features for your hosting plan hosting as well as your preferred data center. Choose a data center according the geographical location of your future audience.
Step5: When it comes to add-ons, I highly recommend opting for the SG Site Scanner. It costs an additional $20 per year but having your site monitored daily and being immediately notified in case something goes wrong provides a tremendous peace of mind.
Step6: You will then reach the account setup assistant. Here, you will need to choose your WordPress login info and one of the themes for your blog. I wouldn’t worry much about which one to choose, as you can change it anytime.
Step 7: Hit Submit, and at this point, the installation of WordPress will start. As soon as the installation is complete – you will see a screen with your login data and where to access the WordPress admin area.
Now, before we dig into the fun part, I would like to talk about the money you’d spend if you take the steps I recommend above.
When doing the research for this guide about how to create a blog, I paid close attention to finding the most cost-efficient ways in which you could make a blog.
I came across the following:
Registering your domain without signing up for a hosting account, will cost you at least $13 per year. On the other hand, registering a domain name when purchasing hosting as I described above will cost you pretty much the same.
They have a promo-offer at SiteGround right now and their hosting fees start from less than $5 per month when paid on an annual basis. Choosing a longer subscription plan may lower that amount.
It’s simple math:
The best solution will be to go with the step-by-step guide I provided above. The hosting price is ridiculously low and since the domain would cost you roughly the same anywhere – why don’t you at least save the time and efforts?!
So, how do you build a blog?
Now that WordPress is installed, go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin and log in using the credentials that SiteGround sent you over. This is where the magic happens! Even though there isn’t a single build blog button in sight, the whole process is rather undemanding.
Looks are important.
Your first stop should be the Appearance tab in the left sidebar. You will see that there are several default themes already available for your blog. You won’t go wrong by choosing one of those, unless you have a specific design in mind.
In that case, you’d need to click the Add new button, after which you will see a screen where you can browse loads of themes; featured, popular and latest. You could also apply filters to your search to find themes that correspond with the specific look you have in mind.
After you have found your dream theme, click Install and then Activate. Your blog now has a new theme. Use the Appearance tab for any further customizations of your theme, such as colors, backgrounds, header images, menus and so on.
The WordPress admin-panel is pretty simple to use and the tabs are rather self-explanatory. Menus are built in the Menu tab, pages are added and edited in the Pages tab.
So, how do you start a blog post? I bet you’d know where to click after casting a single glance.
By now, I believe you have an idea of how to blog, don’t you? So, go ahead and publish your first post.
Congratulations, you have a blog!
Technically, I have already answered the question “How do you start a blog? “, but I am willing to go the extra mile and tell you how to start a successful blog.
The following paragraphs will walk you through the best blogging techniques, from: design to SEO and monetization.
Ready, set, read!
Chapter 5: UX & Design
To grab a reader’s attention, your blog must be eye-catching. And I have just the right tips to help you achieve that!
Looks do matter. You can write the most amazing articles ever, but if they’re not all wrapped in a stunning theme, they won’t reach and engage the audience they’re aimed at.
SiteGround offers loads of WordPress themes you can install for free. That, however, does not necessarily mean that your choice is limited solely to the SiteGround’s collection. On the contrary, there are many themes on the internet that you can choose from, that will make people believe you have a small team of highly paid designers working on your blog.
In case you are wondering whether you will need any coding skills to modify those themes, the answer is no. You can browse a wide selection of themes that not only have a cutting-edge design, but also have built-in page builders. These builders can help you customize any element of your theme with a few drags-and-drops.
This is not an attempt to invite you over for a cuppa. (Unless you’re up for it, in which case you could reach out to me in the comment section below.)
Teatime, in fact, is a popular theme that you could download and use on your blog.
Why did I choose it?
- It has a built-in drag-and-drop page builder
We already talked about this. Being able to manipulate a theme’s top-notch design with a few clicks here and there is always a good thing.
- It’s fully responsive
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a responsive theme. Your blog has to look and run equally well on any screen. Statistically speaking, there’s a big chance that you’re even reading this article on your smartphone. Not to mention that there are people out there who don’t even own a PC.
- It’s SEO optimized
You want your blog to reach a large audience, right? When browsing through themes to choose for your blog, keep an eye on whether your potential download has this feature listed. As you may guess, that is not the only aspect that needs to be considered when optimizing your blog for search engines, which is why I have dedicated a whole chapter of this guide to SEO. We’ll get to it soon reach.
- Monetization ready
I have mentioned several times in this article that blogging can be a great source of income. One monetization technique is placing ads on your blog so choose a theme that is monetization-ready.Demo Pricing
If you’re more of a coffee person and Teatime isn’t really your thing, you could always go for another one. Anyway, I should now tell you how to install a theme for your blog, once you have it downloaded.
Remember the Appearance tab? You can go to Themes, then Add new, and then Upload.
Find the downloaded .zip theme file and click Install now. You should soon see a success message with a link to Activate. Go ahead and do that and you’re good to start modifying your new theme. Follow the same instructions for editing that I gave you above, and play around with your new theme’s drag-and-drop builder until you feel comfortable with the design interface.
Knock yourself out…
Tips & Tricks – Tried & Tested
I know I I’ve already told you much about how to make a blog, but I couldn’t possibly let you go before you knew about my favorite blog hacks that can help you make the most out of your new blog.
Centered text looks good with headlines, but not paragraphs of content.
And why is that?
Because it would hurt your brain when trying to find where the next line starts. And by struggling to find where the next part of a sentence starts, you’ll most probably forget about what you were reading in the first place.
Sure, you now may be thinking ‘No way, I had no problems with reading this!’, but keep in mind that this is just a short paragraph.
Can you imagine reading a whole article with center-aligned paragraphs? Even proofreading my own words gave me a headache!
Center text alignment – just don’t do it!
The only big header in your article shouldn’t be its title. Always use headers to structure the content of your article so that readers can easily navigate through the content. Say, you wanted to have another read of what I said about domains in this how to start a blog guide. Just scroll up a couple of times and the header will poke you in the eye.
Not only that, headers make articles less dull by providing visual structure and guiding the attention. When adding a new post, you can find header styles in a dropdown in your visual editor. I won’t go into detail about the reasons, but always remember to use Heading 3, 4, or lower. H1 and H2 are busy doing other things.
Keep it short and sweet
This refers to everything, except post length. Don’t go Ramayana with your article, but provide a good 7-minute read of 2k words for your visitors. Now, back to what should be kept short: paragraphs and sentences.
Give your readers a break!
They shouldn’t struggle and re-read extremely long sentences because, halfway through, they forgot what you were saying in the first place.
Sharing is caring
Make sure to establish your blog on social media. If you don’t have a dedicated blog page on Facebook and a Twitter account by now – what are you waiting for? Social media are a great way to promote your blog and attract new visitors. You should also provide social media sharing buttons at the end of each post, so that your readers can spread the word with people with similar interests.
Spice it up with an image
Supporting your written paragraphs with a visual here and there is always a good thing! Posts with images get 94% more total views. Don’t over-do it though; one image in a 400-word paragraph is more than enough.
Easy with the sidebars
Your single post template should not have an over-cluttered sidebar. I am very aware that sidebars are a great place to promote ads, add links to related articles, provide info about the author and so on. However, you can have all that on your article page without even having a sidebar.
Look at what we did, for instance. No sidebar, but you can navigate to other pages of our site at the top, as well as see related articles and who stands behind this one at the bottom. The fact that you’re still reading this article means it works. So, no distractions!
You want your readers’ undivided attention.
Chapter 6: SEO & Monitization
What is that and why should I care about it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and here’s why it matters:
You go to Google when you need answers, right?
How often do you find those answers anywhere other than the first page of results? Almost never! Now consider that you’re not the only one that’s looking for those exact answers. Can you imagine how many visits those top-ranked sites on Google get?
How do they do it?
Just kidding, they have just done their homework on SEO. Below, I will let you have a copy mine.
- Relevant content & keywords
Your articles have to mean something to the audience (i.e., they need to respond to what people are looking for). And how do you know what they’re looking for? You don’t, but search engines do, and that’s why you need to research your keywords.
This is no biggie, just type keyword planner in Google’s search box. Basically, what you need to do here is look for the most frequently searched keywords and choose the long-tail ones.
Why long-tail keywords? Picture this:
You’re hungry, both for food and for ideas of what to cook. You have some chicken in the freezer and some pasta in the cupboard. How do you think you will find a recipe for your main ingredient: by searching for just ‘chicken’ or ‘chicken pasta recipes’? Obviously, the latter will provide the most relevant results of your search.
Find your target keyword(s) and sprinkle them in your article. Ideally. your target keyword should be in the title of your article, within its first paragraph and several times throughout the whole body. Trying to squeeze in keywords in every other sentence is completely unnecessary and sounds pretty awkward.
Having a fully responsive site is a must, for both SEO and UX, both. Most searches occur on handheld devices, so you can you can forget about having your site among the top ranked results if those who search for it cannot properly view it.
- Make it quick
Ever noticed how Google always brags about how many results it has returned in less than a second?! They expect the same from your site.
Don’t panic, your site is not obliged to load within a millisecond. They are more tolerant when it comes to the page load speed of other people’s sites. However, search engines have a five-second-rule, meaning that any page load time above five seconds is not acceptable.
A few things that can have a negative impact on page load speed include images that are too big, lots of background images or videos and uncompressed content.
- Meta description
This is the description that will show below your page title, when it returns as a search result. Use it to describe what the article (or page) is about, with twenty more characters than a tweet.
Your target keyword should also be included in this 160-characters-long description, so that both people and search engines can recognize whether your page is relevant to their search.
- Alt text
This point hasn’t got as much to do with written text, as much as it has to do with images. As soon as you upload an image to your WordPress media gallery, you will see an alt text field right next to it. Use this field to provide a description of the image, as well as to show that even visual parts of your article are related to the written content you have provided.
- Give them something to read
Don’t be lazy and write short articles all the time. Try and provide your readers with long, informative articles that offer them something useful!. Yes, I mentioned something about this earlier in the article, and no, I don’t care if I’m repeating myself.
I said you should write about things that you’re passionate about, right? In that case, words should easily come to mind. Your search engines will love it, your readers will love it, and when you see yourself among Google’s top ranked – you will love it too.
- Show them what else you got
Connect topics related to an article by providing links within the text. That way, visitors will stick around at your site longer. This is called a ‘lower bounce rate’ in SEO talk or “more Google love” in colloquial language.
SEO is not something you do overnight.
You have to keep in mind that seeing exceptional search engine results takes time and concentrated effort. It’s a relatively slow process, but it’s definitely worth it in the end!
Monetization: How to make a blog that will make money?
I already shared all that is to know about how to create a blog in this article. The only aspect left to discuss now is how to monetize it.
If you follow the guidelines I was previously ranting about, your blog would be monetization-ready. Now, I will give you a list of multiple monetization alternatives to choose from, with a brief description of each.
- Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing technique where you, as a blogger, will provide links to a company’s product or service. In other words, you will receive commission if one of your blog visitors buys something from the merchant you’re affiliated with.
All you have to do is sign up as a publisher at an affiliate network and make sure to choose programs and products that are related to your niche.
- Google AdSense
Google AdSense is a simple way of monetizing your blog by displaying ads on it. Earnings can be either based on impressions, which depends on your blog’s page views, or based on clicks, which means that you will get a certain amount of money whenever an ad on your site is clicked.
The complete setup is really simple and can be done within minutes by following this link.
- Banner Advertising
This is self-explanatory. Businesses can pay a monthly rent for a spot for their banner on your blog. Many blogs make a steady income through the use of banner advertising, and major companies see it as a great way to reach out to potential customers.
- Paid Review
Depending on your niche, businesses can send you free products for a paid review on your blog. Free goodies and some cash can also be on offer; it’s a win-win.
- Online Courses
You could provide niche-specific online courses for your blog visitors. You can organize the course by sending weekly automated email lessons or by providing the whole lesson pack at once.
You can offer hourly consulting services where your readers could pay you for providing them feedback.
As a blogger, you may even make money as a guest-writer on other people’s blogs.
I have introduced you to more than just the basics here. You wanted to know how to make a blog when you clicked on this article and how to make the most of it. All it took were over 20 tips, 3 step-by-step tutorials and a few pots of coffee for your humble, twitching writer!
Hope that this guide was a fun read and that you are more confident when it comes to knowing how to create a blog.