Starting a blog can be nervous and exciting all at the same time; like my daughter says it can be “nervouscited” like a holiday trip.
There is lots of content online on how to start a blog with pages and pages of overloading information. Starting a blog can be overwhelming and that’s where this infographic with 7 simple steps can help simplify the process.
Step # 1 – Select a Niche and Domain Name for Your Blog
Pick a Topic that You are Passionate About
Select a topic that you love and brings joy to you. It’s a topic that you talk about all the time. You never get bored talking or writing about it. Blogging income can take time and you need your passion to keep going. Take it slow and spend time with this significant step of your blogging journey.
- Narrow Your Topic – Sport is a broad category. Baseball is also too broad. You need to narrow down like a funnel. Think about baseball batting technique or pitching as an example niche.
- Check the Marketability for the Topic – Are affiliate products and services offered in this market? Is there a healthy competition in this niche (similar blogs)? A healthy amount of competition can be a good start as the market is tested.
- What is Your Monetization Strategy? (Affiliate Products, Services, Advertising, eBooks) – If you are blogging for profit then, it is a good idea to have an understanding of the blog monetization options so you can better position yourself.
Domain Name should be Relevant and Simple
When you have narrowed down your topic, do some research on a suitable domain name. Don’t pay too much for a keyword rich domain name, if cost is an issue. Ensure your domain name is easy to remember and related to your topic. Some people start with their name as the domain name.
Time to Register the Domain Name
A domain name costs about $10 – $15 a year. This is where you can commit to blogging for a time period of 1 year or even better 2 years.
I use NameCheap for my domain names as I found them to be best priced with no confusing and costly up-sells like GoDaddy.
Note: If you are registering a new domain and choose SiteGround hosting, you might be eligible for a free domain name.
Helpful Resource: How to Select a Niche?
Step # 2 – Select a Content Management Platform and a Website Host
Use the most Popular Content Management Platform WordPress
- Most Popular
- Easy to Use
- Responsive Themes
- Great Support and a Large Community of Users
Here are some of the big sites that are powered by WordPress: CNN Politics, Mashable and TechCrunch.
Select a Web Host and a WordPress Hosting Plan
Your blog needs a home on the internet; this is essentially your WordPress host.
Low End Hosts: Blue Host, Dream Host, Host Gator, SiteGround (Great for starters. Plans start from $4 per month)
High End Host: WPEngine (Plans start from $30 per month)
I recommend SiteGround ever since Jon Morrow recommended it to me in an email. Yes, I am in Jon’s mailing list and you should too.
- Start Small – Start with low costs as they can all add up to produce a snow ball effect.
- Look at Performance and Cost – Performance is a vital part of search engine ranking factors and your host plays a big role in how fast your web site loads.
- Compare the Features and Support – Support is a critical factor if your website is ever down or you have a query. The last thing you want to do is waiting for a response for 2 days while your site is down.
Helpful Resource: How to Start a Blog with $100 or Less – Infographic
Here is a snapshot of how SiteGround performed in terms of performance and support:
Step # 3 – Install WordPress
Most WordPress hosing providers have a WordPress installation wizard that can help install WordPress with a few mouse clicks. Some hosts will even install WordPress free of cost.
Update Permalink Structure of Blog Posts
Once you install WordPress there are a few basic setup tasks that needs your attention before your blog is ready to go. The first task is to update the permalink structure of your blog – this is just the internal link structure. For example, would you prefer having URL for new posts like YourBlog.com/?post=123 or YourBlog.com/title-of-new-post?
Obviously, the second is better for both people and search engines like Google. This option allows you to have keywords in your title and URL. Go to Settings -> Permalinks in the WordPress Admin area.
Install Basic Plugins
Your second task in setting up WordPress is to install a few important WordPress plugins to extend the basic WordPress features. Always remember to keep the number of plugins low and carefully choose them based on performance.
- Akismet – Spam is a big issue in the virtual world and Akismet is one of the top plugins to protect your site from it.
- Yoast for SEO – A SEO plugin is not nice to have but a must have to help ease your SEO efforts. Yoast does more than one thing like sitemaps and also enable display images in social media like Twitter.
- Google Analytics by Yoast – Yoast SEO plugin does not have Google Analytics like some other SEO plugins so you need this plugin to connect your Google Analytics to your blog.
- WP Cache – Every second reduced in page load time could result in more traffic from search engines and hence a caching plugin is good to have from the start.
- Ewww Image Compression or Similar – Image compression is not optional rather it is a must to save page load times – so get one from the start. Over time images can add up and increase page load times.
Step # 4 – Select a Theme
Here is a fun step; if this does not excite you then I am not sure what will 🙂
Pick a few themes and play around. You can change your theme at any time but keep the changes to a minimum. Here are a few considerations for picking a theme.
- Responsive – A theme that is mobile responsive is a must. This is now part of the Google ranking factors.
- Easy to Customize – Most WordPress themes are easy to customize but some are easier than others; so keep this in mind when you finalise your theme.
- SEO Ready – Some themes are SEO ready out of the box while others need some tinkering.
Step # 5 – Create Amazing Content
Content Ideas and Keywords
There is plenty of useful content online; there is a lot more rehashed and re-digested content as well. From the outset, think about how your content is going to stand out. If you produce content like everyone else then you are merely adding to the noise. Find a unique angle to stamp your authority when it comes to content creation. If you take only one thing away from this post, please make sure this is it.
Here are a few tools you can use to get content inspiration and keyword ideas.
- Google Trends
- Google Search
Structure Your Post – Use Formatting
Proving amazing content is useless if it is poorly formatted. A well formatted post is easy to follow from start to finish. Here are some useful ways to break up your content so the user is engaged.
- Use H2, H3 Tags and include Subheadings
- Use Quality Images – Most people can spot a new blog from the quality of images used. This list of sites with high quality images that are free will help. Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words, images are shared more than plain text content in social media and they are also easily consumed by the human brain. Do I need to say anymore?
- Use Text Formatting for an Easy Read
- Use White Space so the Users can Take a Breather
Helpful Guide: Content Publishing Checklist – Infographic
Step # 6 – On-Page SEO Elements for Ranking Content
When starting a blog you have no backlinks to your site so the authority of your site is very low. This does not mean there is nothing you can do from an SEO perspective. In fact, well begun is half done and there are plenty of best practice on-page SEO elements you can make a habit from the start.
- Title – 60 Characters (Aim for click worthy title)
- Description – 150 to 155 Characters (Sprinkle your keyword)
- Include Keywords (In the body of the text more than once; take advantage of synonyms)
- Link to Useful Content Internally and Externally
- ‘Alt Tags’ in Images with Keywords
- Include Social Sharing Buttons
Helpful Guide: On-Page SEO Elements for Organic Traffic [Infographic]
Step # 7 – Content Marketing to Build Traffic and Audience
- Create an Email List – The number one costly mistake made by new bloggers is postponing the collection of email addresses. Remember, you need to create a second opportunity with every visitor to your blog and an email list is the first on the list. Each time you create a new post you can ask your email subscribers to comment and share your post.
- Build a Social Media Presence – Creating a second chance also extends to building a social profile. Pick a handful of social media sites; you can’t be a king/queen of all domains. Limit yourself to 3 or 4 social sites to start with. You can always ramp up your presence to further sites after you establish yourself. Remember to share great content from others to build your profile.
- Use Hashtags – The use of Hashtags can amplify your content reach in social media.
- Get on Forums
- Email Bloggers – This is called blogger outreach and is the best way to build relationships. Of course, this is time-consuming but it is all about creating a list of influencers whom you can tap into. No wonder experts say content creation is only half the job and the other half is content promotion.
Tip: Keep the email short and to the point. Only ask for one action.
Helpful Guide: Content Promotion Checklist – Infographic
The world needs to hear your thoughts and views but it has to be useful to others. Take one step at a time and go slow. You don’t have to create content every day, take your time and produce awesome content. Be patient and willing to learn. Always look forward to building relationships and spreading your brand name. Find a way to stand out so you can earn people’s valuable time.