Starting a blog is a trendy topic these days. Almost every blogger out there (including me) shares ‘how to start a blog tips’ partly because it is a popular topic people are searching for. As exciting as blogging is, it is A LOT of work. I’m writing this post because I wish I had some of these tips on how to start a blog when I first started.
I had done my research to start a blog and was super duper excited (still am) about how I would share wonderful content with all my blog readers! I was also looking forward to tons of blog traffic and some passive income.
However, all the free courses I took during my research didn’t really tell me everything I needed to know about the REAL work involved. To be fair, they all mentioned it required work but it didn’t really get real until I started doing the work.
In this post, I will share 10 key tips I wish I had on how to start a blog. If I had these when I started, it would have saved me a lot of time spent researching during the process.
I’ll be upfront with you, the decision to start a blog might be the easiest decision you make in the process. Everything else requires research, work, time, and resources. I hope this post helps make the process a little bit easier.
Let’s get to work!
Here are 10 tips I wish I had on how to start a blog when I first started.
1. Determine Your Niche
The BIGGEST decision you will make as a blogger is to determine your niche. Your niche is what you plan to blog about. Examples of a niche can be in health and fitness, finance, cooking, career development, or any other area that interests you (and interests potential readers).
One of the tips I wish I had on how to start a blog is to determine your niche early. You don’t have to have a laser focus on a specific topic area for your niche at the beginning. However, you should have a general idea about what you want to blog about.
A great way to start is to have a broader topic area (for example, career development). Then as you get more visitors that tell you what they are interested in, you can focus on a specific area (for example, career development for women in IT)
2. Identify and Buy a Domain Name
Your domain name is your internet address. For example, the internet address of Google is google.com. Anyone looking to go to Google would need to type in that address in their browser.
Some people advise that you shouldn’t worry about the domain name at the beginning. But for me, it was important for me to have a domain name based on the niche I selected. Having a domain name made the blog real to me even before I actually bought it.
Another reason I think this is important at the beginning is that most popular domain names are already taken.
The domain name you’ve been dreaming about may have already been bought by someone else! Your first 10 domain name choices may not even be available. I had to try almost 20 domain names before I finally got this one.
Another one of the tips I wish I had how to start is blog is to start the domain name process early and settle on a domain name. Don’t agonize over it but don’t procrastinate either.
After you decide on a domain name, you then have to actually buy it for it to belong to you. There are many places where you can buy domain names. A few popular ones are GoDaddy, Bluehost, WPEngine, Wix, and Square Space.
3. Decide on Your Hosting Platform
Your internet address still isn’t complete after you’ve bought your domain name. It’s like you picked out the house to buy but haven’t closed yet.
In order for people to start reaching you at your address, you need to purchase a hosting service. A hosting service is what will actually make your internet address accessible on the internet.
You can think of it like your email address. When you were creating your email address, you knew what name you want but had to sign up for ‘@something.com’. The business that owns ‘@something.com’ has servers that manage emails for users. Similar to this, the hosting service has servers that will house your domain so that others can connect to it.
My next tip on how to start a blog is to select and purchase a hosting platform for your domain name. Quick note, it doesn’t have to be the same place where you bought the domain name. You can buy the hosting service from another company and transfer your domain name over to them.
Several hosting services exist at different price points. Many of the domain websites I listed above (GoDaddy, Bluehost, WPEngine, Wix, and Square Space) also have hosting services you can purchase.
4. Decide on the Theme for WordPress Platform
Not to get too complicated, but there are different types of available hosting services.
Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.
I initially set up a general hosting account. Later, I realized that WordPress is the preferred hosting type for blogs. Luckily, I was able to get a refund on the initial plan I bought and switch over to a WordPress service.
I’m not the authority on website development but the general consensus is that WordPress is the preferred hosting type for blogs. After having worked on my blog for a few months, I can say that I absolutely agree.
One unique things about WordPress is that you have to select a blog theme when you’re setting it up. Since I was new to WordPress, this took me a few days to understand and then some more time to decide.
While many free themes are available, Genesis and Divi (both paid options) are the most recommended by professional bloggers. I went with Genesis because it was recommended by more professional bloggers and is more scalable than Divi.
However, you can start off with a free theme and decide to switch later on in your blogging journey.
Another one of the important tips on how to start a blog is to select a WordPress theme if you choose the WordPress platform. The theme decides the look and feel of your blog and it can take some time for you to decide. So, get started early.
5. Develop a SIMPLE Website
You’ve made it this far but there’s still more work to do!
You may not have thought about it before, but you (or someone you pay) will need to actually design the website for your blog. I have an IT background and even though I have not coded in years, I was able to figure it out. However, I realize a lot of people don’t have technical backgrounds and may have some difficulty with this step.
My next tip on how to start a blog is to create a website and keep it simple!
You can either chose to create the blog yourself or outsource it to someone.
I recommend attempting to create it yourself first based on some available WordPress free themes. Many courses teach about developing your own website like Create and Go.
However, if you find it’s too challenging or if you’re simply not interested in website development, then you can outsource it.
It’s easy to get into the rabbit hole of perfection when your site will actually change with time. Look for something clean and professional and move on. The main focus should be on actual content creation.
6. Get Legal Pages
There are free templates out there for you to use but you may not be sure of their authenticity.
Personally, I used paid legal templates from Amira at A Self Guru.
She’s a practicing lawyer and a blogger that comes highly recommended by most bloggers. I checked out her site and her templates were hands down the best I had seen on the internet. They were easily customizable and within 30 minutes, all 3 legal documents were complete and published on my blog!
Another one of the essential tips on how to start a blog is to be compliant with all legal requirements. You didn’t start a blog only to get sued or slapped on the wrist by the FCC. Stay legal and sleep easy.
7. Writing Blog Posts: Keyword search
Blog Niche. Check.
Domain Name. Check.
Website Development. Check.
Legal Compliance. Check.
Welcome to where the real work begins. ? I’m an honest blogger, so I will tell you the truth.
The main purpose of a blog is to provide content to blog visitors. That content will be presented mainly in the form of blog posts. At this stage, you probably have zero posts. But guess what? The only way is up!
One of the most important tips on how to start a blog is to start writing blog posts as soon as possible. I recommend having 5-7 blog posts on your site when you launch.
You have to come up with blog post ideas that readers want to read. One key thing you have to remember is that your blog is about the readers, not you. If readers don’t like your content, they will stop visiting your blog.
One way to determine what readers want to read is by doing keyword research. I recommend either Ubbersuggest or Google Trends. You can type in your topic in either tool to determine the popularity of a topic.
Generally, you want to stay away from topics that nobody is searching for (unless you’re trying to blaze a new trail). You also want to stay away from super popular topics as a new blogger. Aim for topics that have midrange popularity to increase your chances of getting found on popular search engines.
Then, depending on how much time you have to devote to your blog, aim for 1-2 new posts every week. I started this blog with 5 posts and currently add 1 new post per week. I’m planning to move to 2 blog posts per week, but I’m currently focused on driving traffic to the blog.
8. Generate Traffic to Your Blog
After you’ve launched your blog, you need to drive traffic to your blog. If no one visits your blog, then you’re probably not going to achieve any monetization goals.
This is where I am currently in my blogging journey. I wish I thought about this more as I developed my blog, and that is why this is included on the list.
One of the tips you can’t ignore on how to start a blog is to start thinking about how you will drive traffic to your blog from Day 1. I know there is a lot to do, but all your efforts may be wasted without blog traffic.
Some ways to drive traffic to your blog include using social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
As a new blogger, I recommend selecting just 2 (maybe 3) sites and working them hard. If you try to use all the platforms, you may do a poor job at all of them. But if you focus on just a few, you will be able to give it all you’ve got.
Why do a poor job with 10 sites when you can do a great job with 2?
For me, I have selected Pinterest and YouTube as my traffic sources. I am starting with Pinterest and will add YouTube in a month or so.
9. Start Building an Email List
You NEED to have an email list. I did not know this before I started blogging, and this is absolutely the #1 item I wish I knew.
One of the most critical tips on how to start a blog is to start an email list early. You can start collecting emails from the first day you launch your blog.
An email list is the email addresses of individuals that you can reach out to about your blog. Email lists are critical to marketing your course content and any products you plan to share or sell on your blog.
Without an email list, you really have no one that you tell about your blog or products directly.
Sure, you can post on social media for your friends and followers. But there’s no real, direct connection with those users outside of the social media platform. You need to be able to send direct, well-crafted messages to your email list to promote your blog and products.
I’m still working on building my list and will share tips as I go along this journey. In the meantime, you can check out courses like the one from Amy Porterfield to help you with your list building strategy.
10. Determine how to Generate Income
There are many ways to generate income from your blog. The reality is that you probably decided to start a blog based on the income generation potential. However, it is important to know which of the income generation streams are applicable to your blog.
The last of the 10 tips on how to start a blog is to identify income generation streams for your blog early. Do research on the requirements of each stream and strategize how you will generate that income from your blog.
Some income generation streams include affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and your products.
This is where you sell other people’s products in return for a commission. Please note that there is a legal requirement to disclose that the product you are presenting is an affiliate product.
The important thing here is that you have to select products that relate to your niche. For example, it won’t make sense for me to advertise fitness products on this blog. So, you have to think about available affiliate marketing products that you can successfully sell on your blog.
One thing to note here. Some affiliate marketing sites require a minimum amount of traffic to approve you as an affiliate marketer. So, you want to have a decent amount of traffic to your blog first.
This is where you write blog posts on a topic that is paid for by someone else or a business. For example, an online course company can pay me to write a blog post promoting the IT courses they have on their site. Again, this has to fit within your niche for it to appeal to your customers.
You can also create and sell your own products on your blog. This can be courses, physical products, or anything that you want to sell (legally). This is the most scalable and profitable way to generate income because you own the product being sold. It does take quite a bit of planning to launch a product but the rewards are worth it.
I know this is a lot of information but I do hope you found it helpful. One of the most helpful things for me in this journey was taking courses from Create and Go. Lauren and Alex have created TWO successful six figure blogs. I think that shows they know what they are talking about. If you are interested in courses to help you along your journey, then you should consider the courses they offer.
So, what do you think about these 10 tips on how to start a blog? Which one is new to you? Please leave a comment below and feel free to ask any questions.
You can check out these other posts while you’re here.
There are a few blog posts already that share some valuable information on careers in Information Technology. If you have not already, please read some of the prior blog posts.
Ana de Jesus says
I agree in regards to legal pages as I’ve been blogging for a while and didn’t get legal pages until recently. I wish I had done more research on this before!
Thanks Ana. Luckily, one of the training courses I took mentioned it and I was able to get it before I launched.