In this day and age, people are interested and want to consume content more and more. If you write “how-to” chances are 90% of the listed sites are blogs. Blogging is a very lucrative way to share your knowledge with the world, make your online presence as well as make money. In this guide, I am going to walk you through the journey of starting your very own first blog. And you won’t get overwhelmed if you follow the guide thoroughly.
(It’s going to be a very informative and long post so gear up!)
Pick A Niche
In simple terms: Decide what you want to blog about
Maybe some of you might have a niche in mind. But most people aren’t clear about what niche they want to pursue.
Maybe you are talented in accounts but you really like gardening and thus want to share your knowledge of gardening. But you can’t decide because of so many opinions.
Not to mention most people search for “most profitable niches in blogging” and then when they don’t find anything of their interest, they get demotivated.
Even if you pick one of the most profitable niches just for money you will only end up being mediocre at best. Just Google search any niche you have in mind, there are hundreds of thousands of results. To start a blog and make money blogging, you HAVE to pick something that interests you.
There is no other way. You will burn out midway. You can only survive in the blogging world if you are passionate about your niche.
Of course, no niche is truly unique. Whatever you pick, there might be someone already blogging about that but it’s okay. That person is not YOU. You are YOU. And there is nobody like you.
Your whole life and its experiences are different. And that’s what makes you unique.
There is no denying that some niches are more profitable than others but that shouldn’t stop you from blogging. You can’t blog about something that doesn’t interest you.
Not everyone has to blog about tech or personal finance.
Research Your Niche
Search all the blogs in your niche. Visit those blogs and check how they are performing.
For example, if you want to start a personal finance blog, search for “top personal finance blogs” on Google. Visit enough blogs to get a better understanding of the topics they cover and their monetization strategies.
Visit “popular posts” on your competitor’s blogs and see what they are offering. See all the comments and observe what people are talking, liking, asking, or complaining about.
Also, visit your niche-related Quora community, Reddit groups, Youtube videos, online groups, and forums. Check all the comments and try to understand your target audience better.
If you plan to start a blog to make money then you need to know how the blogs in your niche are monetizing their blogs.
Some niches require you to sell your courses to earn handsome money, while some niches make hundreds of thousands of dollars just by affiliate marketing.
You need to have a monetizing plan in mind if you’re going to treat your blog as a business. But that also means giving value. So focus on genuinely solving problems.
Here comes the slightly technical aspect of starting a blog. Now that you have decided what you want to blog about, you need to set up a blog to let the idea come into reality.
What hosting does is that it makes your blog appear on the web (e.g. search results). All the websites you see on the web are hosted.
A hosting company takes care of all the technical stuff so that you don’t have to. It provides land to build your home.
Now don’t get caught in the “how to start a blog for free” or “how can I get a FREE hosting” stuff if you are serious about your business.
A free blog is simply not worth the time and effort. You can’t monetize your blog and you are too restricted in creative freedom.
I always advise that if you are not at all confident about your writing or if you want to have a following first, then start writing on Medium. Zero investment and no risk.
But if you want to start a blogging BUSINESS or want to establish yourself as a blogger, then you NEED hosting for your blog.
And no, you mustn’t grab free hosting. Your privacy and security are at a huge risk. Not to mention they are lousy and a nightmare.
(Just never grab a free hosting guys!)
Now for hosting, I use Bluehost for my blog. It’s been three years since I started using them, and so far it’s been great.
Bluehost provides great customer support, inexpensive hosting, and a free domain for 1 year.
And for a new blogger like me, it was perfect since I had to buy a domain anyway. I got to save money on it.
They helped me set up my new blog and also helped me with technical issues since I am clueless about tech.
Buy Domain Name
I suggest picking something around your niche or just using your name. Over time you may grow out of your current niche and would want to branch out.
When that happens, you don’t want your domain name to hold you back. It generally doesn’t, but it’s better safe than sorry.
You can use a domain name generator if you lack ideas. They show domain suggestions and their availability.
Try to get a domain name with “.com”. It’s the best and most popular. It’s the most SEO-friendly too!
The best example of a professional domain name is “www.blahblah.com”.
Neither special characters in between nor that “blahblah.whatever.com”
Remember not to use: any special characters, a name that is very hard to pronounce, or a very similar sounding name to your competitor (people may go to him instead of you).
Lastly don’t obsess over it. It’s an important step, but not the most important.
You don’t want to get stuck in the launch phase.
Let’s not forget that “amazon” used to sell books. The name has no connection to its niche!
After buying your hosting and domain name, you can officially get ready to start your very own blog!
This is how you’ll install WordPress. It’ll only take a few minutes.
There are many blogging platforms that you can choose but for most bloggers, WordPress.org is the best.
Not only is it the most cheapest and convenient option but also the most durable. Not to mention it has a supportive online community and abundant themes and plugins for maximum design flexibility.
So yes, you can have all the creative & technical freedom you want.
Remember that there is a huge difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
You need a host and a domain to use WordPress.org while WordPress.com is free to use and is hosted by wordpress.
The main difference between the two is that with WordPress.com you CANNOT monetize your blog, use your favorite themes, customize your blog to your liking or use plugins. Your blog URL also looks something like this: sarahblake.wordpress.com.
This the reason why all professional bloggers use self-hosted WordPress.org blog for their blogging business.
Login into Your WordPress Admin
From here on starts your journey to make & design your very own blog!
Login to your WordPress admin by typing this URL: domainname.com/wp-admin.
Install essential plugins
Now, let’s download some VERY important plugins to get you going.
This is how your dashboard will look. It does look a bit overwhelming but trust me, it’s your best friend.
It’ll take around a few days to completely master it.
After selecting add new plugins, you’ll be directed to this page (below).
You need to install essential plugins like anti-spam, backup, and security. And of course, a “maintenance mode” plugin to hide your site from public view.
Your site is still in infancy mode and you wouldn’t want people or potential clients seeing your half-finished site. (I didn’t install it right away and only knew about it way later)
When you are finished setting up your site then you can deactivate and delete the plugin.
Install these plugins right away:
- Akismet Anti-Spam (anti-spam)
- UpdraftPlus (backup)
- Sucuri (security)
- Seedprod (maintenance mode)
I would suggest not installing many plugins except for the above four. Themes also come with their own plugins so you need to see what fits your needs.
Plugins are just like apps on your mobile phone so yes you can get the idea. You wouldn’t wish to bloat your site.
When I was first introduced to my dashboard, what I did was google important plugins for my site and install Every.Single.One. Of.Them.
It resulted in a slow and bloated site that I only came to realize when I was checking my site speed. AFTER designing my blog.
So yes, it took me some time to go back and forth and see what plugins my site was relying on and deleting the excess.
I was overwhelmed at the beginning.
Choose A Theme For Your Blog
To design and make a blog you need to install a nice theme.
One that gives you enough creative freedom and fast speed.
I wrote a post about the best free themes you can use for your blog. All of them are responsive, fast and vetted by professional bloggers and developers.
This is how you’ll go to install themes (free).
After clicking on themes, you will be directed to the WordPress theme directory which has over 55,000 thousand themes available.
This is what it looks like.
It’s a lot of work to see every theme manually and it’s not very efficient.
Some themes are more suitable for e-commerce and some are suitable for blogs. Preview the themes that caught your eye, check if their features satisfy your needs, and press install.
There are also premium themes that you can install if you want additional benefits like support and full customization features.
These are some of the most popular sites for premium themes:
- Elegant Themes
- Thrive Themes
After downloading a theme, you would need to design it according to your taste and personality. This can take around 3 days to sometimes even a month if you don’t have any particular design in mind.
Sometimes you won’t be satisfied with a particular theme and would want to change it only to realize it’s restricted in certain areas you can’t compromise on.
You can get as creative as you want but make sure that you keep it very user-friendly. A reader should never feel lost or overwhelmed when they arrive at your site.
Remember as a beginner blogger you wouldn’t have many things to show on your site like testimonials, e-books, courses, featured on, trusted by, services, etc.
So your main focus should be your posts. Your posts are your products.
The spotlight belongs to them.
Also, make your theme responsive and mobile-friendly. You will get the idea when you start designing your theme.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try and test new things.
This is something that I suffered in the beginning. I couldn’t speak the way I wanted to because I was a bit intimidated. But as time went by I became more comfortable with my tone.
Tip: Set a color palette for your blog. Pick two to three colors and stick with them. It creates branding. Make sure to google the codes. Don’t waste time adjusting the shades. It’ll make your designing so much fun and easier. If you’re clueless about color contrast, just google them too. There are literally thousands of them available. Pick a palette and get going!
Create Blog Pages
Blogs don’t only have posts. It has pages as well. Blog pages don’t need to be updated often unlike blog posts. Every blog has to have some pages. The most important being: About, Contact, and Legal Pages.
This is the page where you tell your readers about you, your brand, vision, partnerships, story, etc. This page is very important for your blog. Be as genuine as possible. This is going to be the most popular page on your blog.
This page is where people or clients can contact you if they have any queries or anything. This is a must-have. Make sure to add Recaptcha in your form to protect it from spammers (two to three min process).
These pages are extremely important if you want to make money blogging. Even if you are genuine, sometimes people can be petty. You certainly don’t wanna get caught in an ugly lawsuit.
Even though I am not the kind to use stern and professional language, I had to. You don’t know what can go wrong.
Write Your First Post
Yo! We’re finally here. Phew!
Now the main part has arrived.
This is how you will create your first post.
I won’t lie; it will take a while before your hands get firm in writing posts. You will struggle to get your voice. Your first post might sound shaky and basically, it will be crap.
My first post was crap, the blogger you look up to had written crappy posts because everyone starts like that.
Don’t set too high expectations of yourself and relax and enjoy your journey.
When starting your very own blog, you already have a lot on your plate. So keep writing your posts and eventually after 2–3 posts you will recognize your writing pattern and voice. After a while, you will sound polished.
The key is to keep writing.
Build Your Email List
If you’ve read other blogs about how to start a blog and make money blogging, this is something no blogger can overlook.
Your email lists are the ones that trust you and make your business grow. They are your loyal readers and you should have a way to connect to them in case something happens to your blog, or social media algorithm takes a major shift.
Like all pro bloggers say ‘Money is in the list’.
You need to add a newsletter or subscription form to your blog and start collecting emails as soon as possible.
(Now i know with so much on your plate already it will be a while so don’t fret! Gotta be realistic. Just keep this important step in mind)
Even if you won’t send any newsletters, you can and should still collect emails.
“Now how the heck do you even collect emails?!”
By using email collection software and pasting the subscription box where it’s relevant. (It’s only a two-minute process)
There are hundreds of good-quality email collection software available in the market.
Protip: Don’t sweat about making a lead magnet to collect subscriptions from day one. Please. There is plenty of time for that!
In your first month of blogging, even this is MORE THAN ENOUGH.
Market & Promote
After writing quite a few posts, you won’t get instant traffic.
Many new bloggers think that once they launch their blog to the world, everyone will flock to their site at once.
But all they hear is crickets. Nothing happens.
You need to actively promote your blog!
Also Read: 14 Mistakes I Did That Failed My First Blog
Let the world know you exist. This might seem like a challenge for introverts but it feels great to have a supportive and engaging community of people.
Blogging can be lonely sometimes because it’s just you and the screen. But it doesn’t have to be.
Also, you need to get the word out there. You and your blog EXIST.
Join Facebook groups, Subreddits, and Quora communities.
Place comments of VALUE on other people’s blogs (in your niche). No spamming, please.
Be active on social media and just take an active part in the whole game.
Start marketing your blog on Pinterest. It’s a huge source of traffic for Bloggers and e-commerce businesses.
Marketing is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole blogging journey.
Yep, you read that right.
All of the above things on one end and just this on the other.
Monetize Your Blog
There are five most popular ways to monetize your blog:
- Affiliate programs
- Amazon products
- Selling ad placements (no, not Adsense)
- Selling your products and services (courses, coaching, templates, t-shirts, etc.)
Even though linking amazon products is affiliate marketing but since it’s a VERY broad market (amazon) I choose to quote those two differently.
For you to start a blog and make decent money blogging you need to sign up for affiliate programs in your niche. (AdSense pays peanuts unless you have 100,000 visitors monthly)
For example, if you have a food blog and you want to promote a blender, you can join the amazon associates program and add its link to your blog. And if someone purchases through your link, then you earn a commission from it.
Simple as that.
And you can also sign up for different affiliate programs if they’re in your niche.
For example, if you took a paid course about baking and you learned a lot, you will see if they offer an affiliate program for it. And if they do, Voila! You hit the jackpot.
Promote that course on your food blog and add its affiliate link.
BUT you shouldn’t add irrelevant links and also only promote those products which you genuinely support.
To make money blogging or just anything in general the key is to build trust and maintain it.
Selling ad placements is also another great way to take your blog income to another level. Selling ad placements means that if your blog has high traffic, companies contact you to place advertisements on your blog. Kind of like renting out a small portion of your blog’s real estate.
By selling out ad spots to large companies, you can even make a full-time passive income. But your blog needs high traffic first.
You also need to add a discloser telling your readers that the page contains affiliate links.
You can’t be mum about it!
If you don’t add a discloser, you might not get paid or maybe even get penalized.
Personalize your disclaimer (if you want to) and disclose that you will be getting commissions when someone buys from your site or just USES your link.
Failing to do so, you can kiss all your hard-earned commissions goodbye.
Remember: Blogging demands a lot of patience to see results. And money doesn’t even come into the picture for a while. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.
- Make an editorial calendar on Google calendar so that you don’t get off track on your blogging routine.
- Use Google Keyword Planner (free) & Ubersuggest (Limited) for keyword research. Also, add Keywords Everywhere & Ubersuggest chrome extension.
- Use Pagespeed Insights & GT Metrix to check your site speed. (Bookmark these two. You will use them a LOT)
- Use Canva for graphics and free stock photos. Another amazing tool.
- Be consistent with your routine. It will be hard in the beginning but you’ll get used to it.
- Try to solve your reader’s problems as much as possible. Look at other blogs and see what topics they are covering.
- Keep learning SEO as much as possible.
- Make an excel sheet and keep all the keywords you are going to make posts about. It helps a lot.
- The first few weeks of starting a blog are a HUGE learning curve, so be patient.
- Use Pixlr to compress & crop your images before uploading them to your site.
- Don’t sweat too much on blog designing and get stuck in the launch phase.
As with learning any skill, it takes time and practice to master it. You certainly won’t learn it overnight.
Starting a blog has taught me a lot of things and I am happy that I went on this journey. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way you can do something worthwhile. It was highly uncomfortable for me too since I was always in my little bubble and just read novels and watched dramas. But now I have other things on my plate and I enjoy them equally as much.
So, there you have it.
Now, enough with the research, and start taking action.
*there are some affiliate links in the post. That means if you click through them and purchase something, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Happy blogging!