How to Start a Blog – Step by Step Guide
This post may contain affiliated links.
#1 What to blog about?
Before you start a blog make sure you know what you want to write about. What are your interests? What blogs do you enjoy reading? Do you like writing?
I was very interested in food blogs and recipes, also I love DIY’s and life hacks. I read a lot of blogs like those mentioned and thought, “I could actually write about this too!” But I was always afraid I wouldn’t create interesting posts.
All the other blogs look so professional and they have so many readers. I was quick to think, “Who would be interested in what I have to share?”
Obviously, when you first start out it won’t look awesome right away, but the more you read, try, and learn, the faster you get there. And I have to say, with a little patience and eagerness it won’t take long to have a decent blog running.
Because I went through a lot of trial and error, I would love to share my experience with you. Hopefully these tips will help make your journey into blogging as easy as possible. Please share your questions in the comments below and I will be more than happy to help you out!
#2 How to create a blog?
WordPress is my provider and I will talk about how to start a blog with WordPress in this post. If you choose another provider, this information might apply with a little help from google.
If you want a totally free blog you can sign up on wordpress.com and your site name will be something like this www.name.wordpress.com. I started with the free site, but very soon I found it had lots of limitations. You can not insert ads into your page, which means you can’t really monetize your blog. Also, some plug-ins or widgets won’t work.
On the other hand, if you sign up with wordpress.org you will be able to make money blogging and you can make your blog look professional. If you choose this route it will cost you a little bit of money for hosting. That means you buy a host that will also give you your domain name. A host that works perfect with wordpress.org is Bluehost and the pricing starts at $3.49/mo.
So your minimal cost is $3.49/month (mine was on sale for $2.99 and you can pay for the whole year right away).
If you are willing to spend a little more money you can pick a really nice theme that will give you the opportunity to customize your blog and make it look professional. The themes run between 40 and 100 dollars (one time payment). I am using the FOODICA THEME through WPZOOM, which has a great setup for recipes.
I find WP ZOOM more affordable than other theme providers and I am very satisfied with it. You can head over to WPZOOM and browse through their themes. BTW you can google for “wpzoom coupons” and get them even cheaper. I got mine 15% off that way! Another site where you can purchase themes is StudioPress.com.
I read posts from a lot of other bloggers that got their theme from them. With Studiopress you have to buy the Genesis Framework + the StudioPress Theme. One suggested theme is the cotton theme. This one is minimalist, looks clean, and is professional.
#3 Finding a Name
Before you purchase the hosting make sure you really know how you want to name your site. Its best if your name connects with the content of your blog. A good example is http://www.busybudgeter.com/. She writes about food, DIY, organizing, and family, BUT mainly about money and budgeting.
Another food blogger that I like is http://www.spendwithpennies.com/. Her name also reflects her blog content; simple recipes on a budget. Now, if you want to blog about different things, go for it! I chose to primarily blog about food because it relates to my interests, but I also like writing about different things such as motherhood, Christian life, DIYs, homemaking, and so on.
If you found a name that you like for your blog you can check if it is available when you sign up for your web hosting. I suggest using Bluehost to get your domain and webhosting, because it is affordable and they provide a lot of tutorials to make the process as easy as possible.
Once your WordPress is installed you can pick a free theme or buy a professional theme and just start customizing your page! If you have specific questions, write me an email or comment below and I will try to help you!
#4 Set up your Layout and Logo
You can try to create your own logo, or get it done professionally. I don’t believe your logo will determine whether your blog will be successful or not. You can create a logo for free pretty easily with a program called PicMonkey. There is no need to sign in if you want to use it for free! Just open PicMonkey and click on design for a logo and choose a transparent canvas.
You can sign in and pay for this program if you want to get more features and create more professional pictures. There are videos on YouTube that show how to design your own logo with this program. My blog is pretty successful and I don’t have a logo. My FOODICA THEME provides great customizable features for my name and title. Therefore my site looks professional and uncluttered.
It is always a good idea to go to other successful blogs that you like and take a look how they set up their pages and layouts!
When you customize your homepage write your title AND tagline in the “site identity.” Also, upload your logo if you have one. This will show up on the tab and look professional! Its good to have a tagline in the tab AND under your logo so its very clear to your readers what your blog is about.
#5 Best Plug ins to Start
Plugins make many things easier. I want to share my favorite ones with you and if you don’t know how to install Plugins on WordPress you can learn from YouTube.
The MealPlannerPro Plugin is a recipe card (for food bloggers) that allows you to add your recipe and customize the appearance of the card. It looks compact on your post and is very easy for your readers to print the recipe quickly. I’m sure there are similar plugins that work for more than recipes, too!
You might have heard something about SEO optimization (optimizing your post so that you can get traffic from search engines) and it sounds complicated but there is a plugin that helps to very easily get that in order. The Yoast plugin improves your blog post and looks like this:
Make sure you get all the points to turn green. Honestly, I don’t have all green at the very end of my editing, but if I have the green light on the top bar I’m happy with it.
The Pinterest Widget will create a Widget that you can place in the side bar or footer. You can pick whether you want your readers to see your boards or your latest pins on Pinterest. Readers get to see your social activity and can connect with you right away!
You can get the same kind of widget for Twitter or Facebook. It depends where you are more active and what you prefer. Another cool Twitter Plugin is the Revive Old Post Plugin. It will tweet your blog posts as often as you want it to!
And my last favorite Plugin is SumoMe. This one will put your pin/share/like buttons on your images or on the sidebar. You can have a subscription form on your Sidebar on the top or even as a pop up! It has so many features and is a good tool to engage people on your blog.
#6 Creating a Blog Post
After you have decided what you want to write about, you can start typing away. If it is going to be a longer post, add headlines so readers have an orientation and can get to the paragraph they really want to read. Try to add professional pictures that catch the eyes of your followers so they connect more with your subject and want to keep reading (more on pictures further down).
If you are posting recipes make sure you share a little bit about the recipes; tell them how much it costs or how you got the idea so you have more than 250 words and not just the recipe. Here is a checklist I use after every blog post to make sure I did not forget anything important:
Create keyword, repeat keyword at least 3 times and have it in the first 100 words
Does my yoast show green light?
Did I link to other blogs and/or link to one of my existing older blogposts?
Do I have headlines throughout and more than 250 words?
Does my picture have a good description in the “alt text” (read more at “pictures”)
Is my Image pinnable size (1000×1500 px) and my featured image for the slideshow 1000×660 px?
Did I ask a question at the end or ask readers to comment or follow me? (or even to subscribe)
Categorize blog post and use tags?
Do I want to put the new post into the slider?
Did I add affiliated links or ads?
After your blog post
Get social! Most of my followers are on Pinterest and that is why I am most social on the Pinterest platform. After that I go on Twitter and then onto Facebook. I already wrote a Blog post on how to get more followers and readers on Pinterest which will help you spread your content strategically and successfully and twitter works in a similar way.
Try to tweet often, even retweeting old posts. Also retweet people that you follow who are in the same niche. And don’t forget those #hashtags! On Facebook you can join groups just like on Pinterest and you can create your own business page that people can like and follow.
You probably know some blogs that inspire you. Leave comments (5/day) and sometimes your link so people will start remembering you and become curious about your blog. The more you comment the more you step into a relationship with other bloggers which will be very helpful for you!
#7 Your Pictures
As mentioned above, there is this cool program that a lot of bloggers use called PicMonkey and it is totally free. No sign up is needed. There is an option to buy the Royale membership for 3.33$/month if you aim to work more professionally. You will have more options with the Royale membership (it offers those expandable collage templates for Pinterest and other cool options) but in my opinion you don’t really need it right away.
When you edit your picture, first try to get it into a loadable size (1000x1500px). My Theme has the option for a featured picture that you can see above my blogpost on the homepage or in the slider and I crop this to the size 1000x660px. This size also works well for Twitter! It is especially important to have quality pictures for Pinterest. A good, clear picture is more likely to get repinned! If you don’t have a good camera, don’t worry. Even a smartphone will do.
Study tools for great pictures
You should check out my online course PERFECT PINTEREST IMAGE COURSE where you fill finds multiple tutorials on how to create the perfect pin image with all free tools. You will also get my personal help, 28 flat lay stock photos and access to a Pinterest group board to help each other promote our pins.
This will help you in 2 ways: create perfect pictures that will get a lot of re-pins right from the start and second you will have a group out there to help promote your content to get more page views. Please head over to read the full curriculum and all the benefits this course will give you>>
I highly recommend reading an ebook on photography if you don’t know what you are doing. It helped me so much as you can see in my before and after pictures. Even reading tips to create good pictures with a phone camera would be helpful.
I read the ebook “Tasty Food Photography” and it helped me understand how to adjust camera settings as well as apply proper lighting and angles. The ebook also has awesome tips on how to use your phone for photography! You can head over and get more information about this guide by clicking on the picture below.
If you inserted your picture click on edit and write a good description about your blog post into the “alt” section. Then your description will show up under the picture if readers decide to pin it. Make it easy on them so they don’t have to write a description. Otherwise something like “SAM_023983” will show up under your picture.
In some food pictures I added a banner with the name of the recipe. If you find a banner or font that you really like on your pictures, stick with it so people recognize your pins right away!
If you have questions about anything I am writing about in this article, please feel free to contact me, or ask questions in the comments. I am more than happy to help you!
#8 How to Get Page Views
Now you set up your blog, everything is running, you write good content and your pictures are decent, but just a few people are reading your posts?
Here are 3 steps that attract and keep readers:
- Social Media I already talked about the importance of social media after you published your blogpost. Just be patient and consistent with it. It took me a little less than a month applying my Pinterest Strategy to go from 37 to
500 followers(I am at 3000 followers now!), and now it just keeps growing. It also took me 2 months to get from 30 page views a day to 100. Not because I did anything different, I was patient and consistent. Readers have to get to know you and know that new material is coming on a regular basis.
- Comment on other Blogs. I already mentioned a little bit above. Leave comments that show that you really read the article, add things that are missing, or point out things that you really liked about it. Ask questions so the blogger gets in contact with you!
- Newsletters are a good way to get readers to come back and read more! Again it took me 2 months to get my first subscriber, so don’t get discouraged. I used Mailchimp to send out my newsletter for a while. This program is great to start out, because you can use it for free with a lot of cool features. I recently switched over to Convertkit. This emailing program actually helped my to get my first 100 subscribers in no time, which grew my traffic and blogging income.
- Pinterest programs like Tailwind or Boardbooster will help you schedule and analyze your pins and manage your boards. The program pins to different boards for you at times with the most traffic. That way your pins are always active and bring readers to your blog without you going crazy about repinning. My Pinterest Strategy basically was doing the same thing manually but when you try managing 40 blog posts or more it gets overwhelming. So those programs will save you so much time and nerves. Both programs will give you a 100 pin trial and after that Tailwind starts at 9.99$/mo and Boarbooster at 5$/mo. I personally prefer BoardBooster and wrote a review that you can check out HERE. Or use this tutorial to set up BoardBooster for a great traffic increase
- Guest post! Some bloggers with lots of traffic let you post on their blog if you follow their guidelines. You just have to contact them and ask if they allow a guest post and what their guidelines are. If you end up getting accepted it will bring lots of traffic to your page!
#9 Monetizing your Blog
You might read that other bloggers suggest waiting with monetizing your blog, but I did not wait and to me it was worth jumping right in. But again it will take a while to get real income depending on how fast you get everything set up and how much time you have to write good content. Also, it takes time for people to get to know you. You will work for every penny, but in the long run it is so worth it! You can start monetizing with Ads and Affiliate links. Find what interests you.
Some good Ad Programs will not accept you unless you have 5k or even 100k page views a month. But I got accepted to 2 Ad programs with just 20-40 page views a day. I made sure I could check off these qualifiers:
- Blog posts have original, quality content that is grammatically correct
- Have a good number of blog posts out and a little bit of original traffic coming in before you apply.
- Put your email address in your contact form and also in your “about” page to verify the address.
Two Ad programs accepted me because I provided the necessary items just after starting out. Google AdSense will show ads that relate to what your readers were searching on google, and
Media.net (yahoo/bing Ads) will show content related ads. SO if I blog about recipes it will show recipe related ads. So far I have a better income with Media.net. I am guessing readers are more interested in related links.
Note: Media.net recently stopped paying so I would not recommend this Ad program anymore. Apparently other bloggers voiced same issues. Read more about this problem here. I would suggest sovrn.com as an alternative.
The whole Ad thing is trial and error. You have to see what ad program works best for your blog and also where to place ads. It’s more of an experience thing, even though there is an ad map that shows you where the best place for your Ads are supposed to be. But like I said, you can go into your Ad analytics to see which ads have the best results and where on your page they are located.
Affiliated Links are basically links that you add into your post (or pictures with or without text) that lead your reader to a product that they can buy. Don’t go crazy with it just to make money. Your readers will see through that! You want to suggest products that are closely related to your post’s content and help them achieve the result. Like linking a spice to your recipe that is hard to get, or a book to read that is related. You should use or test the item yourself before you suggest it.
The easiest affiliate program to start out is Amazon Associates because tons of people shop there anyway. PLUS they have almost everything! Another good affiliated program is shareasale.com which is basically a pool of merchants that you can apply to and become their affiliate! You can also go ahead and type into google the brand/product you like + affiliate to find fitting affiliate programs. Make sure you read their rules before you advertise their products.
When I started out with affiliate links, I did not have any success in selling anything for almost 5 months until I took the best class out there about affiliate marketing. 2 weeks after taking the class “MAKING SENSE OF AFFILIATE MARKETING” I made 5 affiliate sales! The class provides you also with a great Pinterest strategy to get more pageviews and a Facebook group access for personalized help. Check out the class by clicking on the picture below.
#10 Final Tips
If you want to read more about blogging, Ruth Soukop wrote the book How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul that explains a lot of areas very well and helped me too! And she says that as a blogger your work is never done. So don’t try to do everything at once; the key is to organize tasks and your time. I have a little notebook at my side so I can write everything down that comes to mind. If I see something on other blogs, or read in a book that I might want to try out I just write it down. When my set blogging time (2 hours each day while my baby naps) comes around I have a to-do list and just work on it. In my Notebook I also keep checklists that I mentioned earlier in the post.
Don’t let the thought of “it’s too much” discourage you. If you keep putting work into it, even if it is just a little at a time, but you are consistent, you WILL be successful!
So, I put a lot of time and effort into this post which I hope will help you! Don’t be afraid to start, just enjoy your journey into blogging and ask questions below! If you like this post please share!