So you’ve decided to start your own blog, but you’re not sure where to start. Over the years, blogging has turned into a full-blown business with opportunities to make money by either advertising or selling different products or both.
But in its core, blogging is all about sharing opinions or information in the form of articles or multimedia (images, videos etc.). There are over 152 million blogs out there, and the number if on a constant rise with more and more people having access to the internet. So should you start your own blog as well? Read on to find out.
Why to Start Blogging:
There are several reasons why you should get down on your computer and start typing. Blogging has several benefits. If you look at history, you will see that the first few blogs were started just to share information in the form of reviews. However, over the years, it has turned into a full-blown business, and many bloggers are making millions just by writing online.
Let’s have a look at some of the highest earning blogs out there with their rumored monthly earnings:
- Perez Hilton ($450,000)
- Noupe ($200,000)
- SmartPassiveIncome ($153,000)
- Timothy Sykes ($150,000)
- Car Advice ($70,000)
Many of these blogs started with one person sharing some information, and soon turned into full-blown businesses with an increase in viewership. Most of these earn their revenue with the help of advertising banners and native advertising.
Other than this, some big websites like Mashable and Lifehacker also fall in the category of blogs, but have several writers contributing to the community.
In a nutshell, blogging provides you with a platform to get heard. The internet is a big community, and with the right marketing tools you can reach everyone out there. Other than this, you can use your blogs to promote your existing business as well. Go to any big business site and you will see a section dedicated to blogging.
Many companies have in-house bloggers while some hire content writing firms to handle writing related tasks. Blogging gives businesses a chance to not only put up fresh content on a regular basis, but also to stay in touch with the readers and build a loyal fan-base, which can eventually be converted into a paying audience.
How to Start a Blog:
Now it’s time to talk about starting a blog. It’s not very difficult, so do not get intimidated by all the information you find on the web. Starting your own blog doesn’t take too long. Let’s start with the first step:
1. Pick a Niche
The first thing you need to think about is the niche you’ll be covering. If you already have a running business, you will not need to spend much time on thinking about the niche. Your blog would be related to your business and can include news, tips and other such information related to it.
However, if you do not have a business and you’re just starting out, you will have to sit down and think what you can write about. A few factors to consider include:
- You must have solid information on the topic
This is the most important factor to consider. Do not make the mistake of choosing a topic you know nothing about. Blogging is all about sharing information, and you can find success only if the information you share is exclusive and has certain authority to it.
While you do have the option to run a search on the internet and present the ‘already available’ information to your audience, you cannot expect such a blog to find success since you will not be providing anything new to your audience, giving them no reason to come to you.
You create a fan base by providing content that isn’t available anywhere. It is all about presenting yourself as an authority and making people take notice of what you have to say or do. For example, look at Neil Patel, his blogs are read by thousands of people before he shares unique content that includes his personal anecdotes and experiences. People read his blogs to know more about how he helps promote business. This is why he is one of the most successful online marketers out there.
- People must be interested in reading about the topic
Think of a niche that people have interest in. There are some fads and then there are some evergreen topics. For example, Pokemon Go was a fad that is now almost out of the limelight. Thousands of blogs launched to much fanfare when the game came out, but with decreasing number of players, the amount of views or hits these blogs get is also on a constant rise.
If you’re trying to start big, you should ideally concentrate on topics that are evergreen. These include topics related to sports, entrepreneurship, fashion etc.
A nice way to find out what’s in and what’s out is by running a search on Google and checking the number of hits a specific keyword gets. If it is being searched a huge number of people, it means there’s a lot of potential and you can start writing on it.
- There must be enough material to share
The third most important factor is to pick a niche that has a story to tell. For example, if you end up picking a topic that isn’t very deep, you will have nothing new to write about after a point.
2. Think of a Name and Get It Registered
You have to think of a name for your blog and also get a domain name for the same. If you already have a business, you can just extend on it and start a blog. For example, www.blog.yoursite.com. However, if you’re starting a new site or blog, you will have to brainstorm ideas.
The most important thing is the name which has to be relevant, related and also easy on the lips. Since there already are million of websites out there, most names that come to your mind would already be taken. You can go here to search available domain names, or check here for suggestions.
The most popular domain extension is .com (available for around $12 per year), but you can pick other extensions as well such as .net, .org and .tv. The right option largely depends on the nature of your blog. For example, if you’re running an organization, .org can be a good option for you. However, you will have to provide documents related to your organization to be able to register a domain in its name.
You can start by registering a domain for a year, and renew it as years passes.
Note: You may get a free domain as well and host your blog on it, however it is not recommended for serious bloggers.
3. Pick a Blogging Platform
There are several blogging platforms out there. You can pick the one keeping your requirements in mind. Let’s have a look at top 3:
It is the most famous platform with over 74,652,825 websites now on WordPress. This includes some famous websites like MTV News, Sony Music, BBC America, TechCrunch and The New Yorker now using it. All WP websites are mobile friendly, which removes the need to make changes to make it work on mobile devices.
WordPress is essentially a free to use platform that comes with several incredible features. It can be installed within a minute and can be downloaded from here. You can read a full guide on how to install WordPress here.
You can select from a range of free and paid themes for WordPress to give your site the look it requires. Most themes can be customized as well. In addition to this, there are some great plugins (42,000+) available to improve the overall user experience.
WordPress also makes it easy to market the blog with some preinstalled SEO plugins and the availability of tools such as Yoast. Lastly, you can convert your WordPress blog into a fully functioning ecommerce store with plugins from Shopify. All this makes WordPress the #1 blogging platform out there.
WordPress is good for all kind of sites, including big businesses and small blogs.
Note: You can go here if you do not have your own hosting and wish to have a WP blog.
Once the biggest platform out there, Blogger is now second to WordPress. It’s also a free-to-use platform with hosting as well.
Owned by Google, it is extremely easy to use and takes minutes to install. You get your own domain when you get an account, which you can customize. The ability to host your own blog also makes it a good choice. You also get access to built-in analytics, a tool that gives you insights into your visitors.
There aren’t many design elements on this platform, except for minor layout changes you can make. However, some new features are expected to rollout soon. There are also no additional plugins available, but you can pick from a selection of some widgets that can help you customize your site.
Since Blogger is a Google platform, you will not have much of a problem making your content SEO friendly. You can also use Google Adsense on your website to earn money through your blog.
Blogger is perfect for those who wish to blog as a hobby or cannot afford to have their own hosting. You can start this one for free.
It is another free blogging platform that acts like a social networking site as well. It is a community of users sharing content with each other. Tumblr is mainly to share videos, images, GIFs and microblogs with other Tumblr and internet users.
You can host your blog on Tumblr and get your own website with it (www.yourblog.tumblr.com). But, if you want a customized domain, you can get that too.
There are no plugins, but you can pick from a huge variety of paid and free templates for your blog. The platform is very easy to use and is perfect for hobby bloggers who also wish to connect with others.
Over the years, WordPress has eradicated other blogging platforms and has come out as the #1 blogging platform out there. If you’re starting as a hobby blogger, you may consider other two options, but if you’re serious about your business, WordPress is the only option that you have.
4. Pick a Hosting Provider
As mentioned earlier, Tumblr and Blogger can host your website, however you will need your own hosting for WordPress, which is the most popular blogging platform out there.
When it comes to hosting, you need to keep the following factors in mind:
- Space: Make sure to buy enough space for your site. While you will not need much space to host WordPress or other platforms, your requirements would increase with increasing content, especially multimedia. You have the option to upload images and videos elsewhere (Photobucket for images and YouTube for videos), but hosting your own content can be beneficial from SEO perspective.
- Bandwidth: This is the amount of data you can transfer from your server. The more visitors you have, the more bandwidth you need. There are some unlimited bandwidth packages available, but you can start with as low as 10GB and increase as your visitors increase.
- Security: This is the most important factor to consider. All your files will be hosted on your hosting company’s server. You might lose your data or face a data breach if they do not have adequate security. Click here for tips on how to find a secure hosting provider.
- Features: Look at basic features provided by your hosting provider, including backups and one-click hosting. Even WordPress can be installed with just a click as some hosting providers offer it in the package. Other than this, see how professional the team is and how they handle issues.
- Cost: The cost depends on several factors including your package (space and bandwidth) and also payment cycle (monthly, quarterly etc.). Keep your budget in mind when picking a package.
Changing your hosting provider can be a pain, so make sure to pick one carefully.
5. Work on the Layout
Once you have installed the blog, it is time to work on the layout. Assuming you’ve chosen WordPress, you can easily go and change the layout. There are hundreds of available layouts including free and paid ones. Some paid websites also come with free options with limited capabilities.
Click here for a complete guide on how to install WordPress themes. You must pick a theme keeping your audience and business niche in mind. For example, if you’re running a fashion related blog, you can pick a colorful theme like Zerif Lite. On the other hand, if you need a professional looking site, Sydney can be a good option. WordPress allows you to preview themes before you pick one, and installation takes a few minutes only.
Other than this, most themes allow you great customization. Click here for a complete guide on theme customization.
Note: If you’re using another platform, see the available themes and pick one with your target audience in mind. In most cases, default themes are bland.
6. Improve Your Game with Plugins
Plugins can improve your website. They are designed not only to give your users a great experience but also to make it easy for you to run your website.
You can check recommended plugins to get started. Some security plugins are very important to beef up security and to prevent spams (comments etc.). Click here for a complete guide on how to install plugins.
Some plugins are paid and some are free. Study about a plugin before you decide to purchase it. Some may be very complex to use, but they all come with tutorials to make it easy for you.
Some WordPress plugins you will need are:
- Sucuri (for added security)
- Google Analytics (for analytics)
- WPforms (for forms)
- Yoast (for SEO)
- Buffer (for social media)
7. Upload Your Content
Once everything is into place, it is time to start uploading content. This can be in the form of:
- Text: A written article or blog is important for several purposes. People love to read, and Google also loves pages that has a lot of content on it. The written content must be at least 300 words, but according to experts 2000 words is ideal from SEO perspective. You can use keywords in your content and ensure that it is original and adds value to your readers.
- Images: People love to read. You can share information in the form of infographics. Posts that contain images tend to get 80% more shares and likes than posts that contain no images. However, make sure your image is relevant to the content and is also of high quality. You may upload image to WordPress or use an image hosted elsewhere.
- Videos: It is reported that 70% of all marketing will be done through video by 2020. Thanks to platforms like YouTube, video content is highly in demand and has great ROI. You can post content in the form of video and upload it on YouTube or your own server. Embedding YouTube videos is very easy. Check here for a tutorial on how to do it.
It is important to post regularly to build up an audience. You can break your content into categories, such as ‘tutorials’, ‘news’ etc. Almost all blogging platforms allow you to break your posts into categories and also give them specific URLs.
Click here for a guide on how to post on WordPress.
8. Market What You Have
Once you are ready with the content, it is time to spread it. This can be done by taking care of SEO and marketing your product. Some paid marketing options are available including PPC and social media marketing.
However, if your content is powerful and you are using the right keywords in the right density, you can begin to attract organic traffic, without having to spend much on marketing. But, remember that marketing efforts take time to show and it may be a while before your blog begins to pick up.
Do not lose hope if you only get a few visitors in the beginning. You need to continue posting great content and your blog will eventually pick up.
Pay attention to analytics and see where you’re lagging and up your game. Remember that the competition on the web is stiff and you will have to do better than everyone else to be able to really leave a mark.
Who’s Doing it Right
You can find several inspirational success stories out there. You can check out John Chow’s story here who is said to be making six figures, all by working on his blog from home. Another name that comes to mind is Viralnova.
You can check their story here, which highlights the importance of perseverance and never giving up. One of the most important things you’ll need is the ability to continue to grow even when the situation looks difficult. It may be a while before you see results, but you will them eventually.
Starting a blog is as easy as it gets, but maintaining it can be difficult. While you can start a blog for free, you will need to invest a bit of money to make sure it looks professional and gets a decent amount of hits.