If you’re ready to start a blog but don’t know where to start, these steps will set you up for success, whatever your ultimate goals.
1. Define your topic or niche
Finding a niche may be difficult or seem limited, but will help build your credibility in the long run. You can certainly talk about more than one topic, but make sure your main focus is cohesive and specific enough to draw readers in and encourage them to keep reading your work.
2. Do competitor research
After deciding what you want to write about, do some initial research to understand who the other key players in your space are. Is your niche crowded enough already? Or are there very few people writing about the topic you are considering?
Whatever the case, doing your research beforehand will help you understand how you can create better or different content than what already exists.
3. Define your audience
In addition to targeting your niche, you also need to consider your audience. Who are you going to blog for?
Having the answer to this question will help you write useful and relevant articles for your readers. Try to determine the following information about your ideal reader before jumping straight into writing:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- What other forms of media do they already consume?
- Do they read other blogs?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What issues or problems do they regularly face?
- What would they like to be more expert at?
4. Plan your first blog post
Once you have identified your niche and your desired audience, you can start planning your first blog post. Again, this may require research to make sure you’re creating something your audience will want to read.
As a starting point, type your desired topic idea into a search engine to see what types of articles show up in the results. If you find that the existing results don’t explain the topic properly or correctly, that’s a great indicator that you’ll be able to write something better.
5. Name your blog
Every blog needs a name. You’ll want to make sure your blog name makes sense given your niche or brand, is memorable/catchy, and is fairly easy and quick to type.
If you have a name in mind, scour the web and social media to make sure no one else is already using that name. If the name you want is already taken, you can either create a new one or contact the website owner to see if they are still actively using the name you want. If you really want to protect your assets, you can even register your business name.
6. Create branding elements for your blog
In addition to a name, you will need to select a font and color scheme for your blog which you will integrate once you have created your website. You can do it yourself or have it done by a graphic designer.
If you want a custom logo for your blog, you can design one with a free platform like Canva, or work with a designer.
7. Claim a domain name
After choosing a name for your blog, you are ready to select a domain name. You can check if a domain is available by typing the desired domain name in your browser and see if a live website appears. Most domain registrars also have a tool to help you find available domains.
When you have chosen an available domain, you will need to pay usage fees through a domain registrar. Owning and setting up a domain is a separate process from selecting a hosting site and web builder, which you will do next.
8. Choose a hosting site
Choosing a host is an essential step in creating your blog. Without a web host, you will not be able to create a website. a web host is what allows you to effectively “rent” an internet presence.
Some platforms will host your blog for free, but in exchange they will add their brand name to your web domain, for example, thefancyblog.squarespace.com or thefancyblog.wordpress.com. In these examples, to remove the “.squarespace” or “.wordpress” from the URL, you will need to pay for web hosting in addition to purchasing thefancyblog.com domain name.
Web hosting can cost anywhere from 50 cents to $10 per month depending on the speed and storage you want to purchase. There are dozens of different hosting options, but we recommend selecting one of the best web hosting services that fits your budget and needs.
9. Build your website
You can create your website from scratch or using a template or theme, it all depends on your budget and your desires. A no-code web builder, such as Blogger or WordPress, will allow you to design and create a beautiful website even if you have no prior web development experience. Some templates or themes are free, but others may cost you between $10 and $200.
Some web builders allow more customization and flexibility than others. Be sure to read the specs of each website builder you’re interested in to understand what’s possible when designing your blog.
10. Upload and publish your first article
Once you’ve created your website and are happy with how it looks, it’s time to upload your first article. You can type and edit your content directly from the back-end of your website, but it’s wiser to create all your content in a separate cloud-based editor, such as Google Docs. This way, you’ll have a safe backup of your blog content in case your site runs into technical issues.
Before hitting publish, it’s a good idea to preview your blog post to see if it displays exactly how you want it to. You can always go back and edit it later, if you want to change or update anything.
11. Promote your blog
Once you’ve posted content to your blog, you can share your links. Social media is a popular and effective way to spread your blog content. You can share links on your existing social networks or create new accounts to complement your blog.
12. Track your analytics
After you publish and publicize your blog, it’s important to track metrics like views, visitors, and clicks. Your hosting platform may have a built-in default analytics dashboard, but we strongly recommend connecting your blog to Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that will allow you to track your traffic as well as important demographic and conversion details.
You will need to use your analytics to earn brand sponsorships and/or ad revenue.