So, you’re looking to start a blog? Well, I hope so or else you’re wasting your time here! This (extremely long) blog post is going to outline all of the steps to start a profitable blog that can change your life. This isn’t going to just be a surface level outline of how to set up your new blog, or a couple nice words of encouragement. This is going to be hard, and complicated.
If you’d rather get this training in a 7 Day Free Training, you can sign up below and I’ll send you a detailed email every day with a section of this blog training instead of you getting super duper overwhelmed by this blog post.
Something else you should do is to share this guide on Pinterest so that other people can see it as well, thanks in advance!
The Honest Truth about Starting a Blog…
You’ll see a lot of people out there who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from blogging and they’re really good at convincing you that you can do it too. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for everyone to make money blogging. It’s an amazing way to make money, but it’s not an easy road.
There are 100s if not 1000s of things you need to learn before you’ll ever make a penny. You’ll be in the trenches at all hours of the night working hard and learning everything about Pinterest, SEO, Email Marketing, and so much more.
One thing I can tell you is that starting with this post, you’re going to have a better chance at really succeeding than a lot of the people out there who don’t have a real plan for their blogging business. You’ll notice that for every blogger who’s making a full-time income out there, there are probably 100 people who aren’t making more than $100 a month. It’s just how the cookie crumbles.
I can make you one promise though, if you trust me to take you on this journey, I will stop at nothing to help you succeed at this blogging thing and really make an impact on your life. If at any point during this post (or the email training) you have any questions about what to do next don’t hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com both work, and both go straight to me).
One last thing before we move on, think of your first year blogging like being in college. If you wanted to go to school and become a lawyer you’d need to get an undergrad and go to law school before you’d be able to actually practice law. This next year of your life will be Blogging 101 and you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging and online business. Every successful blogger out there started from where you are now, so don’t freak out.
“formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune” – jim rohn
Traits You Need to Have to Start a Blog
Before you jump in head first to this blogging thing, there are a few personality traits that every successful blogger has and every new blogger needs in order to be successful. I don’t want you to be 6 months in, making no money and just quit because that would be a huge waste of both of our time. So, what are these traits?
Well, the first is that you need to be dedicated and have a why. Having a why is one of the most important things when starting an online business because it’s going to be the driving force when things get hard. Your why can be just about anything. You could want to support your family, retire your husband, or just pay for groceries while you stay home with your kids and your husband works full time. You could just want a creative outlet while you’re in school, or working full-time. There are so many amazing reasons people start blogs and these are just a few of the best.
The second is that you need to have basic computer skills *duh. I’m not saying that you need to know how to code and how to perfectly optimize a website for SEO from the beginning. You just need to have basic knowledge of how websites work, and social media, and all that jazz. If you don’t currently have this knowledge, it’ll come. You can learn it as you go, but your blogging success might take a bit longer.
The third, is that you must be willing to learn, both from other people and from your mistakes. There are hundreds of people out there who have come before you and who have made this blogging thing work. Take their advice. Learn everything you can from them and see where it takes you. Also, never make the same mistake twice.
Finally, you must be willing to invest in yourself. I’m assuming you’ve heard the phrase “It takes money to make money” and that’s honestly true with blogging. You’re going to need to spend money on a blog host as a bare minimum. Also, there is only so much free information out there for you to consume, eventually you’ll need to buy a course or an ebook that will help along the process. *I’ll be sure to suggest some of my favourites throughout this post.
What’s The First Step?
Just. Do. It. I’ve been wanting to start an online business since I was 18. I wasted 5 years of my life second guessing myself and never taking the leap because I was scared. It’s time to overcome that fear and just take the plunge. You never know where an online platform could take you, why not just take the first step and do it already?
Now it’s time to dig in to the nitty gritty of this guide to starting a blog, don’t forget you can sign up to get this straight to your inbox each day using the sign up form below!
The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog
Part 1: Motivation, Fear, and Your Why
Even after me telling you to just do it, I know that a ton of you aren’t ready yet and I understand that feeling. I’ve been there. Heck, I’ve been doing this a while and I still don’t know if I’m ready. So, before we really get started I wanted to talk a bit more about why you need to do this for you and how to overcome that fear that’s boiling in your stomach as you read this.
First, I’d like to discuss your why a bit deeper and really go into some reasons why I think you should start a blog. If you’d like to read an entire post on this, I recently wrote 13 Reasons Why You Should Start a Blog that goes into more detail.
One of the most obvious reasons why people would start a blog is to make money, of course. This is a totally valid reason to start a blog and is one of the reasons why I’m writing this right now. It’s totally fine to want to make money because you’re putting in work and effort that is going to help people and making money from that is only fair.
You shouldn’t go into it thinking “I just want to make money” because that won’t drive you to work harder. You need to dig a little deeper before you get going. What is your actual financial goal?
For example, you could want to earn enough money from your blog in order to pay your mortgage, or to send your kids to college. Personally, my why is that I want to move from my hometown to Toronto in the next year and gosh darn rent is expensive in a city like that. I want to be able to travel whenever I want and not have to take time off my 9-5 to do so!
Now, let’s talk about overcoming that fear that’s boiling in your stomach right now. Once again, we have an entire post that goes into detail on overcoming this fear, but let’s discuss the most common reason people are scared to start a blog.
The #1 thing I’ve heard from people who are thinking of starting a blog is that they’re scared of what people might think. This includes their family, friends, and even strangers. What you need to realize is that the people who love you seriously only want the best for you and they will support you as long as you’re happy.
It’s the strangers that we need to worry about. It’s awkward enough when you meet a stranger and the first thing they ask is what you do for a living. Now imagine that situation when you’re answer is “Oh… Uh… I run a blog”.
It’s never going to be easy to answer this question when you run an online business because the person on the other end of the conversation is never going to understand it right away. Usually, they make a weird scrunchy face and then immediately ask questions about how you make money.
What you need to realize is how freaking cool of a position you’re in. You get to teach someone about an entire world of online business that they know nothing about. It’s not like telling someone that you’re a teacher, they understand that. You’re on a completely different track that most people understand, and that makes you a bad ass.
Part 2: The Only Investment You MUST Make to Start a Blog
When thinking about starting a blog people often ask if they can start on a free platform because they don’t have a lot of money available to them and the answer is yes, if you want this blog to be a hobby. If you want to turn this blog into a serious business, you must pay a little bit of money before moving on.
What are you spending money on? Blog hosting! When you have a blog you need some power behind that blog to actually keep it up and running and on the internet. It isn’t possible to host a blog for free and still own all of the information on that blog.
When you use a website like WordPress.com, Blogger or Blogspot, you don’t actually get to own any of the content on the website and those companies could just up and decide to shut down one day and you’d never see your content again! Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?
This is why you need to pay for your blog hosting. The awesome thing is that if you sign up using my affiliate code, you can get your blogging for less than $5 a month which is pretty inexpensive considering how much potential a website has to make an income. The fourth part of this guide is going to go into depth on how to set up your new bluehost account and get your blog on the internet!
Part 3: Niches & Domain Names
The very first thing you need to figure out before you sign up for Bluehost is what you’re going to blog about (aka your blog’s niche). For example, this website would be in the blogging niche and my website Not Quite an Adult is in the personal finance niche.
Some other popular blog niches include food/recipes, fashion/makeup, lifestyle, parenting, health/fitness, and personal development. Do any of these speak to you? If not, what else could you write about that you think could make you money?
Once you decide on a niche, the next thing you need to do is figure out a domain name that someone hasn’t already registered. Bluehost offers an awesome widget where you can check if a domain is available, try it out!
Don’t make the mistake of buying your domain name from a place like Host Gator before you sign up for Bluehost because you can get your domain hosting free for the first year!
A domain name is super important, I’m not even sure why I decided on notquiteanadult.com, it’s very random and weird but honestly, it describes me perfectly. Just please, don’t spend a month not starting your blog because you can’t think of a blog name. If you’re indecisive, just go with your name. As you can see, this blog about blogging is branded with my name!
Part 4: The Tech Side of Starting a Blog
Hosting is very important since you can’t run a blog without it, so it’s really important that you get the process of buying hosting correct on the first try! So let’s go into how to do it.
When you click through to Bluehost using my affiliate link, you’re going to land on a page that looks something like this:
Click on that big, beautiful get started now green button and you’ll be well on your way to starting a blog. The next page you’ll see is going to be where you choose which plan is best for you:
Automatically, Bluehost will suggest you get the most expensive plan, but that isn’t necessary for someone just starting out blogging. Keep in mind that you have to pay the entire cost up front, so choosing a cheaper plan is probably a good idea. I suggest just the basic plan!
*As your needs change later on, you can upgrade your plan!
Now you’ll be on the domain name page, type your chosen domain into the new domain section.
Now, you’ll enter your personal account information which I can’t really help you with because it’s all about YOU. However, the package information at the bottom I can assist with!
Most of the add ons aren’t totally necessary, so just go ahead and uncheck the boxes except for domain privacy protection. If you don’t pay for privacy protection people can actually access your personal information pretty easily, using DPP means that your information just shows up as Bluehost’s info instead of yours.
Deciding on how long to get hosting for is entirely up to you, the longer you pay for, the less expensive your hosting will be. However, if you don’t have a ton of moneyup front, it’s totally okay to pay for just a year.
Now it’s time to create a password, make sure you make it something you don’t use it for anything else because this isn’t a social media account, it’s a serious business!
Bluehost recently made it so every account comes with WordPress automatically installed which I’m very jealous of because it confused me quite a bit when I started.
Now, you officially have a blog! It may not have any content yet, or a design, but it exists! How awesome.
Step 4: Pick a Blog Theme
A theme is a super important part of your blog because it’s what the user actually interacts with and sees when they land on their website. You’ll notice that no two websites are exactly the same because bloggers are all using different themes, with different colours, and they add their individual flare!
For example, this blog is running the theme Feminine by Blossom themes (a great FREE theme for beginners, it’s awesome). You’re going to need to find a theme that works for YOU and what you’re looking for from your blog. There are a number of free themes that are recommended to you from Bluehost and WordPress but most of them aren’t the most attractive, so it’ll take a good amount of research!
Below are a bunch of articles that link out to some awesome FREE blog themes for you:
- 19 Free Feminine WordPress Themes 2018
- Top 25 Feminine & Girly WordPress Themes
- 11 FREE WordPress Themes
Step 5: WordPress Basics
This is one section of this post where I’m going to defer to the experts because honestly, I’m still figuring out WordPress every single day. Having at least a basic understanding of how WordPress functions is vital to running a successful blog because it’s the entire interface in which you’re going to create that website and it can get a little complicated sometimes.
There is a WordPress guru and just all around good dude (never met him, but man he’s helpful in FB groups) named Grayson Bell who created a FREE course to help you understand WordPress that I highly recommend. Be sure to learn it all before you dive in because man, it’s gonna be hard.
Step 6: Start Writing
This is when stuff gets fun, but before we actually dive in and start writing we definitely need to get a plan in place first! The best way to do this is through what’s called an Editorial Calendar.
In basic terms, an editorial calendar helps you plan exactly what content you want to write over the next month and when you want it to go live. It’s an amazing tool for bloggers to stay organized because not only can you plan your content but you can also track your progress on that content in the same place.
Editorial calendars are very flexible so you can really create it however you’d like. Personally, I’m a pen and paper kinda gal so that’s how I prefer to set up my calendar. You can also use awesome tools like Trello to get the job done online.
There’s an awesome blog post from Ana at The City Sidewalks that discusses all of the steps you need to create that editorial calendar in detail, it’s a great read so I highly recommend you check it out here!
One you have your basic plan in place, you’re free to start actually writing the content that your future readers will LOVE. I’m going to give you a couple of my absolute best steps for writing blog posts that readers will love, are you ready?
Part 1: Brainstorm
It’s easiest to write when you have broken the blog post into separate sections because writing your first few posts is going to be extremely overwhelming. Take some time to figure out what these sections are going to be, this is especially easy when it’s a list post because each item on the list can be a separate section.
*Remember you don’t have to write a post all at once! It’s going to be very difficult when you first start out, so take it slow and steady.
Part 2: Clickable Titles
Have you ever heard of the term clickbait on websites like Youtube? or Facebook? You’ll notice that people are using crazier and crazier tactics to get people to click on their content these days, so you have a some crazy competition. This is why you need to start thinking about your clickable titles that your readers will love before you start writing the post.
Here are some of the things I’ve discovered about titles that readers LOVE and that are much more likely to get clicked on:
- People are huge fans of lists (i.e., “The Top 10 Things Every Blogger Needs” or “10 Daily Habits of the Super Frugal”)
- It’s always a good idea to add in some descriptive words. For example, I have a blog post called 13 reasons why you should start a blog but that title doesn’t do the greatest on Pinterest. I found when I change it to “13 life-changing reasons to start a blog” the traffic tripled.
- Don’t use crazy big words in your blog post titles. You want to make sure you’re able to appeal to everyone and there are a lot of people out there who are turned away by the use of giant words.
Part 3: Write in Google Docs
This is something I had to learn the hard way, for the longest time I would write my posts on WordPress until one day I had written 1,000 words without saving and I lost every single word and had to start all over.
Writing in Google Docs allows for a ton of awesome benefits. The first of which is that Google Docs saves automatically every few minutes so you never lose it for a second. You can also access your Google Docs account from your computer, your phone, your tablet, or any other computer around the world! So you can write wherever you are, whenever you need to.
Once you’re done writing, you can copy and paste it into your WordPress account and start formatting it to make sure its looking good… Just be sure you save it before you do anything else.
Other Tips You May Need:
- Always write like you’re talking to your best friend because you don’t want to come off as cold or uninterested in the content. A great way to make sure you’re doing this is to talk your blog post, you can learn more about that in this awesome video from Allison Lindstrom.
- Try your best to write for the people who are going to be reading it and not for yourself, this is easier said than done because we often want our blogs to be a diary, but that’s not going to make you money long term
- Keep it to one font throughout a blog post because you don’t want people’s brains to hurt, also one colour for text and one colour for links. Don’t change the colour up every paragraph!
Step 7: Start Promoting
Some newbie bloggers often think that just because they write a post they should have hundreds of readers right away without any real effort. Unfortunately, this is never going to be how it works. If you were able to have hundreds of readers without having to actively promote your content, you’d be a serious magician.
Promotion is arguably the most important part of having a blog because all successful bloggers spend only 20% of their time writing content and 80% of their time promoting that content. How crazy is that?
There are two main ways that bloggers are able to promote their content and get eyes on their hard work.
- Social Media
- Search Engine Optimization
Let’s discuss both in a little more detail!
#1 – Social Media
Social Media is probably the best way for a brand new blogger to start getting some great traffic to their blog in the first few months. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my favourite platform Pinterest to get awesome blog traffic pretty quickly.
Setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is pretty easy and can be done with just a few clicks and you don’t need a ton of skill or know how to get the job done.
However, Pinterest can be very confusing if you’ve never used the platform before. I have a number of blog post suggestions for you to check out if you want to use Pinterest to grow your social media presence
#2 – Search Engine Optimization