Do you want to start a blog this year? If you are thinking about it but don’t know where or how to start then this post is for you! This post will take you from the very beginning to the ready to start publishing stage. I wish someone would have written this when I started. I could have saved a lot of stress and overwhelm.
I am going to walk you step by step from planning what your blog will be about all the way to being ready to start writing your first post. I will give you options and suggestions for the tools and products that I use as well as a basic idea of the costs of using these tools. When you are done following the steps here, you should have a website set up and ready to go! Ready to get started?
How To Start A Blog
Step 1: The Beginning Stage To Start A Blog
The beginning of how to start a blog is all about your big idea. It is where you decide what your blog will be about. You start thinking about the topics you are going to address, what your blog name will be and what colors and fonts you are going to use. Let’s go into those things first.
Pick a Niche
The first thing you need to do when you start a blog is to define your niche. Your niche is the subject area you will be addressing in your blog posts. This may be anything you have a passion for. It should include topics you have a fairly good level of knowledge on also. First, you need to choose a general topic such as homesteading, fashion, food etc…Once you decide the general topic you need to “niche down” and be more specific.
As an example, if you choose the main topic of homesteading you could niche down to getting started homesteading, urban homesteading, even specifically to single moms who want to start homesteading. Be specific of who you want to write to. One important tip for you to know is that writing to everyone is writing to no one. Be specific in choosing your audience. Check out this article on how to choose a niche from Blogging Wizard.
Pick a Name
Now that you know what niche you will choose, you need to choose a name. What do you want your blog to be called? Brainstorm a list of ideas of names. Make sure it is simply understood and spelled. The easier it is to spell for others the easier they will find you when they are searching for your blog. When you decide the name, you need to research if it is available as a domain name and on social media.
The domain name is simply the name that identifies you on the internet. You want that name to be identical or very similar to all of your social media platforms. This way your audience can recognize your content right away and easily. Check out this article from Blog Clarity on how to choose a name.
Your domain name must be registered. I use Host Gator and have loved them. I have had some issues that their customer service has been excellent with over the last few years. You can search the name you want as a .com, .net, .org and others. I personally bought the .com and the .net. Just simply go to HostGator.com and choose the plan that’s right for you. You should be under $5 per month for hosting, watch for deals offered to new customers!
You will be able to see if the name you chose is available as a domain name after you decide the plan. Before you pay for the domain name though, go to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and just type the blog name you want into the search bars. You can also try here. If nothing comes up then it is probably safe to choose that name. Now you know your social media profiles will match your blog name. This is important to know when you start a blog.
Choose a Platform
The platform you choose is important as it will be the actual space where you entire blog lives. I absolutely suggest WordPress when you start a blog. Do not go with the free version. Simply put, it is to difficult to do what you will want to in the near future. Stick with WordPress.org. It isn’t expensive and it is fairly easy to use and I think the most recognized by most people.
Once you buy your hosting, there should be an option for the hosting company to offer you a WordPress download. It should be in your C-Panel when you sign up for hosting. This option will walk you through step by step to download WordPress to your computer from start to finish. Feel free to reach out to customer service with questions.
Step 2: The Design Stage
This is the fun part, and maybe the most important when you start a blog. This is the stage where you decide what everyone will see, how they will feel, and make their first opinions on so be thorough. In this stage, you will decide the theme (or layout) of your site, the colors, the fonts, and the logo. This stage is so very important that you try and get it right. Next, we will walk through how to choose your theme, the plug-ins, colors, fonts, and the logo.
Before you choose these things, now is good time to decide the basics. Get a general idea of the colors and fonts you like and what design would make a logo. If you want more information on these items, visit The branded Solopreneur. She has plenty of information on how to brand your blog.
Find and Install a Theme
Your theme is the overall appearance and includes options for different things you can include within your blog. WordPress has many free themes and they work well for the beginner. However, keep in mind, you will probably wish to change the theme in the near future. Most free themes are free because their capabilities are limited. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on what others are using.
When you start a blog, choosing a theme can be overwhelming. There are endless companies that offer themes. Right now I would just look into WordPress, Creative Market, Theme Forest, and Elegant Themes. Look at the demo’s and read what the theme comes with. Pick one that appeals to you. Follow the instructions to download it to your site. I use Elegant Themes, Divi. I love it. It is a drag and drop theme and easy to learn. It is pricey though and you pay yearly. Most themes are a one-time payment.
Find and Install Your Plugins
Plug-ins are small add-ons you install to your WordPress that allow you to do certain things. They can help install an email provider, provide insights and analytics, work as a check for SEO, even allow you to add different items to your blog that isn’t included in your theme. I could write a whole post on plugins. However, let me just say this. Don’t download too many because your site can become slow!
I recommend 3 main plugins to get started. The first is a backup plugin. This post lists the best backup plug-ins of 2019. The second one is Yoast SEO, and the third is a plugin for your email provider. We will talk about that in a bit. Go to your WordPress site click the “plugins” option and click add new. There you will see a search box. You can look for a plugin by a specific name or function. Type “Yoast” and the SEO plugin should appear. Read the instruction and reviews then download the plug-ins you choose.
If you wish to hire someone or a company to do your SEO for you, you may want to check out SEO Toronto. They can help you rank your website quicker and better through the services they offer. And when you are a new blogger, trust me, every bit helps!
Choose Your Colors and Fonts and Logo
This is the fun part, choosing the colors and fonts, and logo. I personally chose my logo first. I did that because when you start a blog in your niche, you want people to see something specific and relate it back to your blog. By creating a logo, you will choose the colors within that logo. Those colors can become your brand colors. They are how people will identify your blog over others. I have a barn and farm animals in my logo because I have a homesteading blog. My colors are blue, brown and red.
I did not design my logo but I had a general idea what I wanted. I went to Fiverr.com and asked for logo designers. When I found one that fit my needs, I answered some simple questions. 3 days later I received a beautiful logo. I got a pdf version, a jpeg, and a vector image. I spent about $38.00 and received all the files in about 3 days. Easy Peasy! Once I had the logo, I had the designer send me the color codes for the logo and Voila! I had my brand colors. You can see my logo better here.
Step 3: Email Providers
Now you have your blog and you’re ready to start writing right? Nope. Not yet. You need the most important part of blogging. An email list. But how do you build an email list? Well, that’s another topic for a blog post. In the meantime, you can read this article by Melyssa Griffin. But I will say this, in order to make an email list you need an email provider. Here are my suggestions.
Options for list building:
The following email providers will allow you to set up an account and will get you started right away so you can start building your email list. Some are free, and some are paid. I recommend and use ConvertKit. Although they do not have a free version, you can get a free trial and try them out first. I originally had MailChimp and I loved them! They are free for the first 1000 subscribers so they are a great platform to start with.
I will give you a warning here that I learned very recently. Mail Chimp was great to me and did what I wanted and needed it to do. However, as my list grew I needed more options and MailChimp wouldn’t cut it so I went with ConvertKit. If I had known how difficult and stressful it was to swap my subscribers from one to the other I would have just paid and started with ConvertKit from the beginning.
Providers to check out:
- MailChimp (free til 1000 subscribers)
- ConvertKit (about$20 per month up to 1000 subscribers)
- MailerLite (free up to 1000 subscribers)
- Constant Contact (free trial then plans to start at about $20 per month)
- Drip (free trial, then about $40 per month for 100 subscribers)
- AWeber (free trial, then about $19 per month)
- Get Response (free trial, then about $15 per month)
For more in-depth information on the top 7 email providers check out this article from WP Beginner.
You now have a great deal of information to sift through and a lot of decisions to make in order for you to start a blog. I hope you found this post helpful in knowing the first 3 steps to partake in. Once you are ready and have your site up and running, do a Google search for blogging ideas for beginners. You are sure to find a wealth of information available.
Are you inspired to start a blog? Let me know in the comments what your blog will be about! Good luck on your new journey!