Last Updated on June 18, 2021 by Tracy Jackson
If you are looking for the best step-by-step guide on how to start a blog, then this is it!
It can be challenging to start a blog in 2021 with all the information available on the internet.
What if you had that one resource on starting a WordPress blog that you could use to successfully set up a new blog with web hosting and finally hit publish on your very first blog post?!
In this post, I’ve rounded all my best advice and tips into one solid “How to start a blog” blog post that you can refer to again and again as you start your blogging journey.
In this blog post, I will teach you how to:
- Choose the best blogging platform for your self-hosted WordPress blog
- Buy a domain name and set up blog hosting
- Install WordPress
- Choose a WordPress theme for your brand new blog
- Install and activate two very useful WordPress plugins
- Use Google Analytics to track and analyze important metrics for your blog
- Get your blog found by search engines
- Publish blog posts
I [will also share some useful tips on how to choose a blog name for your first blog, navigate through your WordPress dashboard, choose and set up beautiful WordPress themes for your blog, and much more.
I hope you’re excited as I am!
Let’s get to it!
Disclaimer: If you buy something using the links in this article, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Know that I only promote stuff that I use and trust for the sake of my readers and the reputation of this site.
Table of Contents
What is a Blog?
In simple words, a blog is a type of website that contains a lot of written content in the form of blog posts.
Anyone can start a WordPress blog and publish a blog post online on any topic under the sun!
Blog posts are usually published and arranged in reverse chronological order. That means the most recent blog posts appear first on the blog page.
Here is an example of what a blog looks like:
However, there are very few successful bloggers out there. These are the ones who have put in a lot of hard work and patience and nurtured their new blog into something great – you can become one of them.
You can easily make money online no matter what blog topic you choose.
The trick to becoming a successful blogger is that there is no trick. With the right guidance, you can choose the best blog niche and start blogging to become an expert in your niche.
The best bloggers may not have been experts right from the start and that is the beauty of blogging. Blogging helps you teach as you learn, and learn more as you teach.
Write to a specific audience and you will easily connect with your readers. Once you find your audience, you will be able to grow that audience into something bigger, ultimately bringing success to your new blog while helping a lot of people along the way.
So if you are passionate about something and would love to make a living sharing knowledge with those like you, then this How To Start A Blog guide is just for you!
How I Started This Blog
My journey as an entrepreneur started way back in 2005. I had no idea about blogging then.
After running a successful nationwide van-pooling business for 8 years, I decided to shut it down in 2013.
I then decided to take the Multi-Level Marketing path and did that for four years.
Running these businesses got me interested in marketing as a whole. I started to understand what kind of marketing strategies worked in the real world. I found salvation – so to say – in marketing.
I then became an expert in driving online traffic to marketing funnels. I was able to help so many businesses reach their online presence goals with robust digital marketing strategies.
I finally decided to reach out to more businesses around the globe through one of the most efficient platforms available today – blogging.
Thus, the Marketing Amateur blog was born.
I am now passionate to help beginner bloggers and business people to start their own successful blogs and businesses through this blog. If you are reading this blog post, that means my efforts on marketing this blog have been successful 🙂
Now that you understand why I’ve started this blog, I hope it inspires you to start blogging as well.
Blogging has changed many lives around the globe – mine included.
So let’s start blogging!
How to Start a Successful Blog in 5 Steps
I’ve divided this guide into 5 simple steps. If you follow along with each step, you’ll have your brand new blog up and running in no time!
Let us begin with the first step.
Step 1 Choose your blog name and get your blog hosting
Getting started is crucial if you want to start creating awesome blog content for your future readers. Follow this step-by-step guide to avoid procrastination and analysis paralysis by choosing one of the best blogging platforms to get your new blog started.
Bluehost offers reliable web hosting, and it is what I’ve used to host my blog, Marketing Amateur.
Let’s get started.
Choose your domain name
Before you create a blog, you need to first choose a blog name. If this is your first blog, it can get difficult to choose the right domain name and commit to it.
Here are some quick tips to help you choose the best domain name for your new blog:
- Choose a .com name.
- Add keywords or keyphrases in your domain name if possible.
- Choose a domain name that is short and easy to remember.
- Make sure the name is easy to spell and pronounce.
- Check if your name is unique and not similar to other blogs or website names in your niche.
- Avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain name.
What happens if the name I want to use isn’t available?
Here are a few things you can try if your domain name is not available:
- Add an extra word like ‘get’, ‘try’, or ‘usa’ to your main name. (Example: www.nissanusa.com)
- Use an abbreviation.
- Try an alternative name.
Remember not to get too caught up in your blog name. The advantage of getting started is that you can decide to choose any name under the sun as long as it fits with your niche and resonates with your audience!
Can I change the name of my blog later?
You can easily change the name of your free WordPress blog if you have set one up on wordpress.com.
There are many video tutorials on those topics and you can check them out on Google.
However, if you have set up a paid blog using a hosting company like Bluehost on wordPress.org, the process is more complicated. You may have to contact Bluehost customer support to guide you through the process and change the name for you.
Set up blog hosting
I wholeheartedly recommend Bluehost as your web host.
If you set up a Bluehost account, you will get a free domain as well as a discounted rate for your first year with this hosting company.
Click on the Get Started button and select your web hosting plan. You will then land on this page:
You can check the availability of your new domain or use an existing domain name that you had purchased earlier.
You can now create your Bluehost account:
Choose a custom domain name and domain privacy with your domain registry and you’re good to go.
Create a password for your account and you’re done!
Step 2 Start your blog by adding WordPress
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the easiest way to set up your new blog. It is a content management system that helps you set up your blog, create and publish your blog posts, and manage your content from the dashboard.
With the WordPress blogging platform, you can create stunning websites without being a developer or knowing how to code!
So, what’s the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org?
With wordpress.org, you can create a self-hosted WordPress site that gives you a ton of flexibility and customization options.
You are the sole owner of your self-hosted WordPress blog.
Should I start a WordPress blog (and is WordPress free)?
Yes, you should!
Bluehost is a hosting provider that offers you 1-click WordPress CMS installation (the most popular content management system that bloggers use).
Your WordPress installation is included with your Bluehost account, so yes, WordPress is free when you set up an account with Bluehost!
WordPress has a lot of features to offer bloggers that other blogging platforms don’t. Having a WordPress blog gives you a lot of flexibility and customization options while creating your site.
Let’s now set up WordPress for your own blog.
How to install WordPress (and configure your blog settings)
Once you log in to your Bluehost account, you can install WordPress and start building your site.
Here’s a quick video to show you how to set up your blog page:
Step 3 Pick a WordPress theme and customize your blog
WordPress has a ton of different free and paid themes, and it can get tough to choose the ‘perfect’ style and blog design.
The truth is, most of the themes are quite good, and when you start designing your blog, you can make it look close to what you want it to be no matter what theme you choose. So go ahead, pick one theme, and go with it.
Choosing the best (free) WordPress theme
To choose a free WordPress theme for your new blog, you will first need to log in to your WordPress site.
The easiest way to do this is to type your website address followed by ‘/wp-admin/’.
For example, this is the link I use to log in to my WordPress account:
Once you hit enter, you will land on this login page:
Enter your username and password and click ‘Login’. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New :
You can then choose a free theme from the repository of WordPress themes available:
Once you’ve selected your free theme, click on Install and then Activate.
Here is a detailed video tutorial that shows you how you can install and customize your blog theme:
Why design is so important when starting a blog
As much as good design can improve the reader experience, I have to say that blog content is definitely much more crucial to a blog’s success.
Good blog design helps you to stand out in a competitive niche. The design of your blog shapes the first impression readers have of your blog, but if they keep coming back because of your great content, they’re less likely to focus on the design aspect of your blog.
Factors such as readability, branding, page load time, navigation, your blog sidebar, and implementation of buttons and widgets surely have an impact on how your blog is perceived and can contribute to the long-term success of your blog.
Step 4 Adding plugins to your WordPress blog
Before we check out the two plugins I recommend adding to your WordPress blog, let’s first take a look at what WordPress plugins are.
What is a WordPress plugin and why are they important?
WordPress plugins are third-party software that gives your site added functionalities. Plugins can be considered as building blocks for your WordPress blog.
WordPress plugins offer various functionalities such as improved site speed, increased SEO, eCommerce functionalities, the addition of contact forms or email option forms, and more.
They help you customize your self-hosted WordPress blog according to your needs.
Avoid installing too many plugins, as this can slow down your site drastically. Also, be sure to install reputable plugins so that they do not affect the speed or security of your site.
Here are the two most important WordPress plugins you need to install:
Plugin #1 – RankMath
RankMath is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. It allows you to optimize your pages and blog posts so that they are easily found by people looking for specific keywords on search engines like Google.
Here’s how you can install RankMath for your WordPress blog:
Go to your WordPress dashboard. Go to Plugins > Add New
Type “RankMath” in the search box and you will see it appear in the search results. Click on the “Install Now” button. Of course, it says “Update Now” for me since I already have the plugin installed and activated.
Once you click on “Install Now”, the button will change to “Activate”. Click on it to activate your plugin.
Plugin #2 – Google Analytics (Monster Insights)
The second plugin I recommend is Monster Insights. This plugin will help you track the stats of your blog using Google Analytics. That means you will be able to see stats like how long people stay on your pages, where your audience comes from, what pages they visit on your blog, and more.
To install and activate this plugin, search for “Monster Insights” in the Add Plugin search box:
Once you see it in the search results, click on “Install Now”. The button will now change. Click on “Activate” and you’re done!
Step 5 Create compelling content for your readers
You now have a fully functional blog and are ready to start blogging!
You can now share all your knowledge with the rest of the world through your blog.
Here’s how you can create awesome content that reaches your audience, resonates with them, and helps you reach your blogging goals.
Set Up Your Main Pages On Your Blog
Now that you have all the technical and backend aspects of your blog set up, it’s time to start creating the important pages for your blog.
Your audience needs to connect with you and understand who you are and what you do.
They need to know what your intentions are with this blog –
How are you going to help them?
What problems are you going to solve for them?
How will their lives be changed after they start reading your blog posts and interacting with you?
For this, you need to have certain main pages on your blog apart from your blog posts. These are:
- About Page
- Contact Page
- Disclosure Page
- Any other page that you feel needs to be on your menu bar
You can add these pages form your WordPress dashboard by going to Pages > Add New
Create A Logo For Your Blog
Next, you can create a new logo for your blog. The logo can be something as simple as text, or a graphic. You can use Canva to design professional-looking logos in a few minutes.
Here’s a quick video tutorial on how you can add your logo to your WordPress site:
Writing Blog Posts: How To Write Your First Blog Post
Now that your main elements are in place, you can start writing your first blog post.
Remember, your first blog post need not be perfect. Don’t over-think the process too much.
Focus on publishing your first blog post as soon as you can. You will always learn new things as you go along, and over time, your blog content will improve in quality.
To write your first blog post, go to Posts > Add New
You will land on the block editor page of your WordPress. Start typing the title and content of your blog post.
You can add new categories for each post if you like. You can also add a featured image for each blog post. Once you’re done writing your blog post, hit Publish.
And there you go! You’ve just published your first blog post!
I hope you feel awesome because not many people have the courage to start a blog and publish their thoughts in the form of a blog post. So take a moment to celebrate!
Blogging Tips To Help You Succeed
I am often asked by my readers how they can start a successful WordPress blog, how to write the first blog post, which blogging platform is best to start a blog, how they can set up a domain name and web hosting, and so on.
1. Discover your niche.
2. Keep improving your content and increasing your knowledge.
3. Create content that connects you with your readers.
4. Write for one ideal reader.
5. Stay consistent. Create a blogging schedule and stick to it.
6. Research your content before you start to write it.
7. Optimize your blog posts for SEO.
8. Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your blog content.
9. Create social media handles for your blog and stay active on a couple of them.
10. Remember why you started your blog. That will help you through the tough times.
Blogging is not easy. Nor is it an easy way to make money.
Your blog must have a clear purpose if you want it to succeed. Find your blog’s purpose and remind yourself of it every time you get stuck.
5 Reasons You Should Start a Blog
There are many reasons you should start a blog.
Here are some of the reasons I believe people should start a blog:
1. A blog helps you reach out to like-minded people.
2. You can help people with your blog.
3. A blog helps your practice discipline and accountability.
4. You can earn an income through your blog.
5. A blog helps you pursue your passions with patience and prudence.
3 Reasons You Should Not Start a Blog
Now let’s look at a few reasons you should not start a blog.
1. Fast money. A blog will not help you get rich quickly.
2. Instant fame. Blogging takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Don’t expect everyone to praise your blog.
3. Free traffic. Bucket loads of traffic mean nothing if you don’t connect with your audience. Huge traffic numbers will not help you meet your blogging goals always.
How to Start a Blog Infographic
FAQs When Starting a Blog
1. What does ‘blog’ stand for? What does ‘blog’ mean?
The term blog is a shortening or truncation of the phrase ‘web log’. It refers to any kind of information or opinion published regularly on the internet in the form of ‘posts’ or textual entries.
Each blog post may also contain images, embedded videos, or any other multimedia within the post.
2. Squarespace vs WordPress: Why should I use WordPress instead of Squarespace?
WordPress.org is one of the most popular choices when it comes to building websites. WordPress is not as user-friendly as Squarespace, and sometimes requires the expertise of WordPress developers. However, you can set up complex sites with more flexibility with WordPress.
Although Squarespace is a great tool that allows you to build basic websites quickly and easily, here are some reasons why you may want to choose WordPress over Squarespace:
- Flexibility – There are thousands of WordPress plugins available that allow you to add more functionality to your site
- Unlimited customization options
- Wide variety of themes (both free and paid) that can be scaled and made suitable for your business
- You can build a fully functional eCommerce website with multiple payment options, unlike SquareSpace that only allows customers to purchase via credit cards
- WordPress allows you to create deep hierarchal websites such as those for big corporates
3. What’s the difference between a blog and a website?
A blog is a type of website.
A typical website is static and contains information that is organized in pages.
A blog, on the other hand, is a dynamic website that is regularly updated with new blog posts. The blog posts are arranged in reverse chronological order so that the newest posts appear first.
A blog can also be a part of a larger website. For example, most business websites have a blog section where they publish articles on a regular basis.
In a nutshell, all blogs are websites, but all websites may not be blogs.
4. Are blogs dead?
In a word, no.
Blogging may seem like it’s dying, but only because it is evolving and looks slightly different than its former self.
People are consuming blog content differently these days, and as long as you stay on top of your blogging strategy, you will find success.
Another great way to make sure your blog is a success in 2021 is to choose a niche that has less competition and is profitable.
shift your focus to content marketing as a whole. Blogging is only one aspect of content marketing. Your content strategy should include other forms of media so that you have a comprehensive marketing strategy for your business.
5. Does anyone read blogs anymore? Is blogging a waste of time?
Yes, people do still read blogs. That is why the first few search results for almost any topic you search for on Google are almost always blog posts!
Blogging is definitely not a waste of time if you develop a strong content strategy and stay persistent.
6. Is it worth starting a blog in 2021?
It may feel like after so many years of people blogging, the platform may be over-saturated in almost every field. But the truth is that every blog is different in terms of content strategy.
A blog is something you own, unlike other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
Each blog, no matter how similar, may have different content strategies and monetization strategies.
Blogging starts to show results only after about 6-7 months of consistency and sound strategy. That being said, it still is not too late to start a blog in 2021.
7. What has replaced blogging?
It may seem like other forms of content such as YouTube videos and podcasts are more preferred by today’s fast-paced audience, and are therefore replacing blogging. But that is far from the truth.
Blogging still gives you control over your website because you are the owner. Blogging is an integral part of any marketing strategy and can evolve, but can never be replaced.
8. The niche I chose is too crowded. How do I stand out?
Here are some ways you can stand out in a crowded niche:
- Discover your unique selling proposition (USP) and focus on that. Figure out what sets you apart from other blogs and make it shine.
- Be authentic. Write about something you have knowledge about (or are willing to learn more about).
- Connect with your readers. Try not to follow the crowd. Take time to understand who your ideal reader is and write to that one person. As they say – write for everyone and you write for no one.
9. What is a blog used for? What makes a good blog?
A blog has many purposes.
- It is a cheap way to express yourself and teach others about your business. It helps your readers understand who you are and what you have to say.
- A blog allows you to humanize your brand or business. It helps you connect with your readers and when you do that, your content resonates with them.
- A blog helps you stay connected with your audience. Unlike a static website or a brochure, a blog is constantly updated, bringing your audience back to your website regularly to check out the latest updates.
- A blog helps you rank on search engines, bringing traffic to your website. You can then send this traffic down a sales funnel and turn them into paying customers for your business.
A good blog helps you do all the above.
10. What should I blog about?
Maybe you want to start a blog but are not sure what to write about. Here are some ways you can figure out what to blog about on your new blog:
- Consider your interests and passions.
- Write about what you know or have experience with.
- Look at your favorite blogs in your niche and see what topics they haven’t covered.
- Understand the problems that your audience face and figure out solutions to those problems.
- Figure out how you can monetize your blog and write content tailored to your monetization strategy.
- Just start. You can always change your niche down the line as you get better at blogging and discover more about your strengths and weaknesses.
11. How do you start a blog for free?
If you are just a beginner and want to test out blogging without spending any money, then there are quite a few free blogging sites that will help you do that.
However, you must keep in mind that you don’t own the content on these blogging sites. That is one of the main reasons people prefer t use WordPress to create their own blogs.
12. How often should I blog?
There is no magic number of posts that you need to write each week or each month. You should, however, stay consistent in how often you post.
That means if you decide to post once a week, make it a point to post on the same day every week so that you stay accountable to your readers. Being consistent in blogging also helps you improve your SEO (search engine optimization).
13. Why do blogs fail?
There are many reasons why most blogs fail. Here are five of the most common reasons:
- Choosing the wrong blogging platform. When you start blogging, it may seem like a good idea to start on a free blogging platform. The truth is that a free blogging platform does not offer the control and ownership of your content like a paid platform such as WordPress.
- Choosing the wrong hosting company. If you’re not careful, a bad hosting service can result in a slow, under-performing blog with security issues. I recommend starting with Bluehost.
- Bad website design. You need to make sure that your blog is simple, clean, and mobile-friendly so that you give your readers the best reading experience and encourage them to spend more time on your blog.
- Not niching down. When you write about everything under the sun, you end up confusing your readers. Also, you won’t have the knowledge and expertise to go deeper into a particular subject.
- Not understanding your ideal reader. Although there may be different kinds of people reading your blog, your blog content should be focused on one particular type of reader. That way you will have a clear picture of what kind of content to produce and what problems you can solve for your readers.
14. Does Bluehost charge monthly or all at once?
Bluehost charges blog hosting users on an annual basis. However, if you use my affiliate link, you are entitled to a lower rate of $2.75 per month for your first year on this blogging platform.
Bluehost also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if for any reason you would like to cancel your web hosting subscription before your first month is up, you can get a full refund.
15. How do bloggers get paid?
There are many ways bloggers can earn money with their blogs. Most blogs have a combination of one or more of these methods so that they have a regular income stream.
Here are some of these monetization methods:
- Ads – Ad networks are one of the most common monetization methods for any blog. You can apply to ad networks such as Google AdSense, Mediavine, Media.net, or Infolinks to start making an income based on your blog traffic. Here is a blog post about the most popular ad networks you can join.
- Affiliate marketing – You can become an affiliate for your favorite products or services and advertise them on your blog. My blog is an example of an affiliate blog. Here is a blog post on the best affiliate programs for beginners.
- Sponsored content – Companies may contact individual bloggers to publish sponsored content for a fixed one-time fee. This content could be a review about their product or company or any other such content.
- Digital products – You can sell digital products such as eBooks, online courses, or printable pdfs on your blog.
- Sell your services – You can also sell services such as website design, content writing, VA services, or more on your blog.
- Membership sites – A membership site offers members a community of like-minded individuals who share knowledge and resources with each other within the private community. You can charge a monthly fee for members to avail of your membership site services.
16. How much do bloggers make?
The amount of money a blogger makes varies from niche to niche and blog to blog. Most bloggers make close to nothing on their blogs. Some bloggers make a little (think hundreds of dollars to a few thousand every month), few bloggers make a ton of income ($10,000 – $100,000+!).
Like any other business, a blog’s success depends on the hard work you put in and the type of strategy you use for your blog.
17. Do I have to pay taxes on my blog income?
Yes. No matter how much you earn from your WordPress blog, as long as you are making an income from it, you will have to pay taxes as a self-employed individual.
For more information on blogging taxes, you can visit the IRS website.
18. How do I get readers to come to my blog?
Here are some ways you can increase the readership of your blog:
- Create great content – quality over quantity.
- Give your readers a way to follow your blog – for example, by placing a subscription form and collecting their email addresses.
- Give your readers value in exchange for their email addresses. You could offer them a free email course or a downloadable pdf or eBook.
- Stay active on social media. Share your blog posts on your social media handles so that people find out about your blog.
- Invest in SEO. Search engine optimization helps your blog appear on the top of the search results when someone searches for a topic in your niche.
19. What is Google’s Rich Snippets and how do I rank there?
In simple terms, Rich Snippets are search results on Google that have extra details displayed. Rich Snippets are usually for content such as recipes or reviews.
- Find questions that your audience is asking on sites like Quora or Reddit.
- Answer those questions in the form of lists or reviews.
- Look for rich snippet opportunities from your competitors.
- Perform keyword research to find which keywords would get you more chances of a rich snippet for your blog post.
- Use hierarchal headers in your blog post.
- Create How-To articles on your blog.
- Add a lot of high-quality images and videos to your blog posts.
Welcome to the world of blogging, fellow blogger!
I hope this blog post has helped you understand how to start a blog and grow it successfully.
If you would like more help in starting a blog, you could join my FREE email course. I am always available in case of any queries so feel free to drop a comment or shoot an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Happy blogging! 🙂
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