Happy New Year 2019, reader, For my first blog of the year I thought about giving you a little bit of info about how my blog essentially came to be, and some tips to help you with yours. I am not quite sure how this will work itself out. So, let’s just wing it for now and see what happens.
I am going to start by giving you a layout of what I will be talking about here.
- What is a blog?
- Why do people blog?
- Why do I blog?
- What topics do people blog about?
- How to start a blog
- What features are important for blog hosting?
What Is A Blog?
Blogs are in many ways, the Swiss Army knives of the internet.
Beginning in the ’90s as online diaries, have now grown into a massive, endlessly varied form of communication.
Blogs can be short story collections, recipe hubs, role-playing games, records of UFO sightings, or a source for information. They can help businesses advertise, educate customers, inform shareholders, or inspire community interactions.
Chances are if you can imagine it, there is a blog about it somewhere. Probably hundreds of them!
Blogs are one of the last level playing fields on the web. What’s stopping you?
How Is It Different From Blogging?
Blogging is simply the act of starting and writing a blog!
Blogs are so ubiquitous because anyone who’s able to type can become a blogger.
You don’t need to know how to type fast; you don’t need to be able to see or hear. You are never too young or old to blog. You don’t need to know anything about computers or the internet!Irish Queen- on rule of blogging
Why Do People Blog?
People blog for many reasons. Blogging has been proven to make you a better writer, make you money on the side, or give you a platform for sharing your ideas.
Some of the most common reasons people start a blog include:
- As a way to network with people sharing a common interest.
- To market or advertise a business.
- To make a difference by sharing political and social issues.
- As a resume for highlighting expertise.
- As a way to express creative ideas.
- To share knowledge with others that want to learn.
- To make money as a side hustle– or even as a career.
Why Do I Blog?
I use my blog as an outlet to educate others on my disability and share the way my mind works and how I think and just a place that I can escape to where I have some semblance of control.
What Topics Do People Blog About?
Sometimes figuring out what to blog about is the hardest part. Luckily, I have some ideas to help get you started.
- Fashion– makeup, clothing, hair, and beauty products.
- Travel– vacations, best places to visit, your own travels, restaurants, and entertainment.
- Technology– software, programming, web development, web design, and startups.
- Business– industry updates, real estate, expert tips, and best tips
- Content Marketing– how to market your business, SEO best practices, and email campaign.
- Food– recipe sharing, restaurants, and kitchen equipment.
- Finance– industry happenings, ways to make and save money, budgeting.
- Health and Fitness– sports equipment, nutrition, exercise, dieting, and fashion.
- Lifestyle– gardening, home improvement, organization, travel, survival.
- Personal Development– Time management, health awareness, mindfulness.
- Parenting– child development, product review, tips for age stages.
- Professional & Academic– colleagues and peers discuss their fields of expertise, like CPAs.
- Instructional– tutoring, how-to’s, guides.
- Entertainment– humor, memes, video, music, podcasts.
How To Start A Blog
Step 1- Find Web Hosting
Web hosting is the service that puts your blog on the internet. That means good web hosting can make or break your blog.
You need to think about four things when it comes to web hosting:
- Cost– What does it cost per month?
- Speed– Your blog needs to load fast. Speed is important as users move to mobile.
- Uptime– Every website goes offline sometimes. But a good web host will help minimize problems with downtime.
- Technical Support– Boring. but super-important!
What Type of Web Hosting Do I Need?
Shared hosting is the cheapest and the most basic form of hosting available. You store your website on a server shared with other customers of the hosting company. You also share the resources– such as bandwidth and disk space– of the server as well.
You’ll also notice that some hosting companies have WordPress hosting, These plans typically run on shared servers but can also be offered as cloud and VPS-based hosting, WordPress hosting is optimized for running the platform and will give you the most seamless WordPress experience. (There are many other types of hosting– like cloud, VPS, or dedicated– but you can ignore them starting out).
But if you are looking for the cheapest hosting possible, go with a basic shared hosting plan. Just make sure you can get a one-click WordPress install to make your life easier.
What Features Are Important for Blog Hosting?
Here are some of the most important features to look for when you are choosing which hosting provider to go with:
- Disk Space and Bandwidth depending on the amount of traffic your website gets.
- Security Features like malware scanning, daily backups, and 24/7 site monitoring.
- One–click installations.
- Uptime guarantees against server crashes and maintenance issues.
- Speed and Performance so you know your site is always giving the best user experience.
- Support types such as email, support ticket, and live chat.
- Affordability– quality web hosting doesn’t come for free.
Why Technical Support Matters Most
The final point– technical support– is boring, but it’s also really, really important. When its 1am and you don’t know why your blog is offline, you need somebody you can speak to! Specifically, you need somebody you can call by phone– not send an email and wait a week for a reply.
How To Start a 100% Free Blog
In my opinion, WordPress.com is the only show in town (I have tried others, in the past) for a free blog. Sure there are plenty of other services, like Google’s Blogger.com or Yahoo’s Tumblr. But they’re severely limited next to WordPress for a free blog service.
You’re not going to get the fancy features of full-blown WordPress, but it beats the alternatives hands down.
Step 2- Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is your blog’s identity on the web. This is the URL that people type into their web browser when they want to visit your blog.
Mine is https://livinglifeasasocialbutterflyelf.blog for example.
Before you register your domain name, here are some guidelines to follow. Your domain name should:
- Be memorable
- Be easy to spell (aka “pass the radio test”)
- Be descriptive (describe your blog’s topic or establish a brand name)
- Be short and sweet, if possible
For example, if you are a passionate collector of vintage guitars, “VintageGuitars.com” would it be better then “MyMostFavoriteGuitars.info” it fills all of the criteria I mentioned. However, VintageGuitars.com it is likely to be a very expensive domain indeed. (More on that in a moment.)
Keywords are words or phrases that describe your niche. Think about the that people might use to search for your content, and bear them in mind when choosing a domain name to register.
Finally remember, you can’t use spaces or punctuation (except hyphens) in a domain name.
How To Choose A Great Domain Name
To get a better idea of what makes up a good domain name, I’ve come up with some examples:
For a blog on caring for pet budgies, “friendly-birds.com” is a bad domain name:
- This domain uses a hyphen. Many users forget hyphens when typing domain name.
- The name doesn’t explain that the blog is about budgies!
A domain name for a Spanish language learning blog of IteachPeopleLanguages.com may be specific, but it’s long, wordy, and easy to misspell. Whereas DynamoSpanish.com is shorter and more descriptive.
Instead, “healthybudgie.com” could be a much better choice. The domain name is specified, contains keywords, is short, memorable, and easy to spell.
Step 3- Choose A Blogging Platform
To start your blog, you need a blogging platform for your site. While there are many platforms to choose from, we think there’s only one serious choice.
It’s called WordPress.
WordPress: The World’s Most Popular Blog Platform
WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging and and CMS (content management system). It powers 27%+ of all websites online today, and an even larger percentage of blogs.
WodPress is used by everyone from digital natives to tech-illiterate seniors.
Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loudAndrew Sullivan
10 Reasons Why I Love WordPress
WordPress lets you customize your layout, create content, and expand your blog’s functionality over time.
We love WordPress for lots of reasons, including:
- It’s 100% free
- It’s super-easy to install
- There are lots of awesome WordPress themes & plugins available (and most are free)
- There is tons of free help online
- WordPress is simple enough for beginners but powerful enough for experts
- It has infinite customizability with plug-ins and themes
- It’s mobile Friendly
- It’s great for SEO
- WordPress is constantly being updated. As long as you update promptly and be careful with themes and plug-ins, you shouldn’t run into many issues
- WordPress boasts a huge free, online support community
WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?
There are two WordPress platforms to choose from: WordPress.com and . Here are the key differences:-
Website Builders: The Most Popular WordPress Alternative
If you only a very simple website, website builders may be a good solution. They’re web apps that offer drag-and-drop functionality and a WYSIWYG editor to build a blog or website.
However, the vast majority of bloggers choose the flexibility of WordPress.
WordPress is much more powerful, scalable, and flexible than other website builder. WordPress the ability to do almost anything you want: total freedom to create the blog you want.
If you are terrified by the idea of WordPress, website builders may be worth a look. But our advice is to stick with WordPress, if possible.
Learn more in our rundown of the top options for website builders for bloggers.
Luckily, installing WordPress is very simple once you have a web hosting service.
How To Install WordPress
Lucky for you, WordPress is famous for their “5-minute install”.
Better yet, many hosting companies will even install the blogging platforms for you (look for “one-click installs”). Just follow the step-by-step instructions – you can’t make a mistake!
The only decision you need to make at this stage is to give your blog a name. Don’t worry, you can change it later easily enough (unlike the domain name, which is much more hassle to change).
How to Login To WordPress
Once WordPress is installed, you’ll receive an email with your…
- Username (“admin” by default)
- Password (whatever password you entered)
- WordPress Login URL
(This will look something like like http://blogging.com/wp-admin/)
If you can’t find the email, check your spam folder. The WordPress login page looks like this:
How To Use WordPress Dashboard
After login, you’ll see the WordPress dashboard, the control panel for your blog. This let’s you handle everything from the design to publishing blog posts.
n a few short moments, you’ll be ready to create your first blog posts or pages, like your contact page or other “must have” pages.
How To Set Up WordPress
Good news: WordPress works great right out of the box – even if you do nothing else!
But there are three simple housekeeping tasks you ought to take care of before you publish your first post:
a) Check Your Blog’s Name
You chose this when you installed WordPress – now’s your chance to make any changes. In Settings > General, customize your:
- Site Title (eg, Living With Williams Syndrome)
- Tagline (a strapline displayed below the logo in many WordPress themes)
b) Double Check Your Email Address
Check that your email address is correct, for when you need to reset your password in future.
If there’s a typo, you’ll be locked out of your blog!
How To Choose A WordPress Theme
Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.Brian Clark
WordPress has countless free themes to choose from to get your blog live ASAP.
Your choice of WordPress theme allows you to get creative, and make your blog look and feel just like home.
The good news is WordPress makes it super-easy to chop and change your WordPress theme. You can change it every day of the year if you want to!
So: should you use a free theme or pay for a premium WordPress theme?
New Blogger? Use A Free WordPress Theme
For new bloggers, free themes offer total freedom to experiment. If you’re not used to using WordPress, we recommend using a free theme until you know which features matter to you most. WordPress has its own repository of free themes.
You can install them right from your dashboard; just click on “Appearance” and then “Themes.”
Some of the most popular free WordPress Themes include…
- Twenty Seventeen
- Twenty Sixteen
- Twenty Fifteen
…and usually, arrive by default when you install WordPress. You’ll probably recognize them all because these blog themes are so widely used.
For example, Twenty Seventeen looks like this:
Free WordPress Themes: The Pro’s & Con’s
- Freedom To Be Fickle. You can switch between free themes as frequently as you like, without having to pay.
- Experiment. Try out lots of different color schemes and layouts
- 100% Free with all the basic functionality you need to start blogging
- Generic. You may find that thousands of other blogs use the same WordPress theme as you
- Less Professional. The sad truth is it’s harder to make your blog look professional with a free theme
- Less Customizable. Free themes usually offer less sophisticated customization. This will be more important as your blog builds an audience and gains traction.
Experienced Blogger? Upgrade To Premium Themes
Premium themes often offer a more stylishlook out of the box. Our favorite sites to buy premium WordPress themes include:
- Genesis by StudoPress.com is a suite of several dozen premium themes
- Envato Elements. 1000s of premium WordPress themes for one monthly subscription – like Netflix for themes!
- Elegant Themes
How Much Do Premium WordPress Themes Cost?
Expect to pay from $29 to $99 for a typical premium theme..
Some super-deluxe options will cost $150+ if you buy a developer license, but you only need that if you plan to use the theme across many blogs.
How to Install A New WordPress Theme
WordPress makes it simple to alter the theme of your website:-
- From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
- Now you’ll see all of WordPress’s featured themes. You can choose one of these or search for the names of themes you’ve heard about.
- To narrow your search, use the Feature Filter to select the layout, your desired features, and your blog subject.
- Once you find a theme you like, you can preview it with your content. If you don’t have any website content or the plugins necessary for the theme, this preview might not look like anything like the final product.
- Once you’ve picked a winning theme, just click Install and Activate, and you’re done!
All of your blog content will appear in the new theme, and you shouldn’t need to do anything else to get the new theme up and running.
Step #5 – Publish Great Blog Content
Even personal bloggers should have a good idea of what they want to write about before they dive in. Don’t fret! Content planning isn’t rocket science. We’ll walk you through it every Step of the way.
Who Is Your Blog’s Target Audience?
You need to be clear about what you want to say, and it helps to imagine who your audience will be. Pick a topic that you are truly passionate about, and think about the needs of your blog’s readers.
One quick and easy way to figure out your target audience is to imagine that you’re writing letters to a particular type of person.
Ask yourself questions like these:
- Are you talking to men or women?
- Children or adults?
- Where do they live?
- What activities do your audience members participate in?
- What type of work and hobbies do they do?
- What does a typical day in their lives look like?
Example: Say I’m creating a blog for “pet parents.”
- They can be of any gender or age.
- They love to do things with their pets, like walking dogs or playing with cats.
- They can live anywhere in the world.
- Significant chunks of their daily lives involve interacting with their pets (walking, feeding, playing, snuggling).
- They consider their pets to be part of the family, more so than those who merely call themselves “pet owners.”
Choose a Niche For Your Blog
Niches are pretty important for your blog.
Some big websites, magazines, and newspapers can target huge audiences because they have massive amounts of content and a stable full of writers to create it. Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated, and the Wall Street Journal fall into this category.
However, you’re not going to get far competing with those heavyweights, so you need to drill down into your target audience and focus on a subset of your audience. By narrowing your focus to a niche, you stand a chance of building the best blog on that topic.
Possible niches for our example audience include:
- Dog park reviews
- Pet hotels or pet travel guides
- Handmade pet toys
I’m going to go with “handmade pet toys.”
We can write about where to find them, how to make them, toy safety, toys based on your pet’s personality, etc. I can also tell stories about my own pets, start an Instagram or Twitter to feature pet photos, and review toys. Once you choose a niche, it should be a bit easier to come up with a good name for your blog.
Let’s call my new blog, Fuzzy Family Fun
Step #6 – How to Write A Blog Post
High-quality content is critical to gaining traffic for your new blog. But if your content is merely average, you may not attract much traffic – or even none at all! There are a million blogs on the internet. You need to make yours stand out from the competition.
We’re going to show you exactly which buttons to push to get your first blog post online in a flash. Here is a preview of the process, which we’ll explain in-depth below:
- Create a new blog post
- Write your blog post
- Add images
- Add categories & tags
- Press “Publish!”
1. Create A New Blog Post
In the WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a sidebar with menu items that will take you to various parts of your website. To start a new blog post, click Posts > Add New.
This will take you to the WordPress editor screen, which is where you will do your writing.
2. Draft Your Blog Post
In the WordPress editor, your first task is write a headline for your post in the title section.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
The length of content on the internet is a hotly debated topic. Word-count is a key contributor to your search ranking results. Longer content typically ranks higher on Google. In fact, the longer the better when it comes to search ranking. This is because longer articles will contain more keywords, more topics, headings, links, and pictures.
At the very least, your blog posts should be more than 300 words for Google to rank it. The ideal length of a post for general reading is 1,000+ words.
And that’s just fine too. Just make sure that your long posts are extremely easy to read and to skim. Avoid walls of text at all costs!
If you’re aiming for a solid number, then between 1000 and 1500 word posts should be a perfect starting point. But feel free to experiment and find what works best for you and your audience.
3. Add an Image
If you want to add an image, click on the Add Media button. This will bring you to the Media Library where any images you have downloaded onto your site are saved for use in blog posts.
After you click on Add Media, select the image you want to insert into your blog post.
Don’t forget to fill out things such as the title, alt text, and description so when your website is indexed by search engines, your site is ranked properly in search engine results and potential visitors find you.
You can also add a caption if you want a short description to appear on your blog explaining the image to readers.
Click Insert into post.
Your blog post will now look like this after adding an image:
4. Add Categories and Tags
Categories and tags help organize your blog so readers can find what they are looking for Look to the right-hand side of your editor and notice the two boxes, Categories, and Tags.
Categories describe the topics that can be found on your blog. For example, if you have a personal blog, you may choose categories such as Music, Travel, and Food.
Tags are more specific descriptions of your posts that help readers drill down to smaller topics. When you write a blog post, you first choose a category.
In this example, we’ll choose Food. Then, for your post’s tags, you might enter something like pizza, breadsticks, chocolate cake.
Simply click the category you would like to use for your blog post, input tags you want to assign and click on Add.
After you have created your blog post, you can preview how it will look when you publish it by clicking on the Preview button in the Publish box. This will open the public face of your blog, and show you what site visitors will see when they visit your website.
5. How To Publish Your Blog Post
If you are happy with your blog post, head back to the WordPress editor and locate the Publish section.
Here you can either click on the Publish button and post your blog immediately, or schedule to publish it at a later date. If you choose to publish it at a later date, simply choose the date and time and save your changes.
And there you have it! You’ve published your first blog post.
What Blog Topics Should You Cover?
Here are some ideas for coming up with blog topics to write about:-
- Google Trends – Do a search on your niche, but also look at news headlines and see if there’s a place where they intersect your niche
- Mind-mapping – Draw out branches from your main topics to see how many more ideas you can split off from them.
- Social media – What’s happening on Twitter or Facebook that you could use to create new topics?
Example: My brainstorming helped me come up with these post ideas around handmade pet toys:
- The history of dog toys in the White House
- Knitting or felt patterns for toys
- Pet toys around the world
- Toys that might be harmful to your pet’s health
How To Find Your Blog’s Voice
Blogging is usually less formal than other media. It’s easiest to just be yourself!
But one way to “niche” yourself is with a unique style of writing. You can probably think of lots of examples where humor, style, or oddness make a particular blog memorable.
Example: For my Fuzzy Family Fun blog, I’m just going to write like I talk, since I’m also a pet owner. Readers will connect better with my personal stories if they come from my authentic voice.
How To Write Awesome Blog Content
The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.Jason Calacanis
There’s no magic formula to determine what your content should look like. It depends on your niche, and what your passion is. And it depends on what your readers are looking for.
Some blogs focus on breaking news or viral stories from the web. These blogs can gain a lot of traffic very soon after publication. The articles tend to have a short lifespan.
Other blogs contain in-depth articles that are written with longevity in mind (what we call “evergreen content”).
These articles tend to be longer, more detailed, and aim to attract traffic for many years – or even decades!
Look at other blogs in your niche and look at the things they do well. Try to find gaps in their strategy, and capitalize on those opportunities.
How To Create a Blog Schedule
Setting a schedule for your blog will help you build traffic – and keep it up over the medium and long-term.
Scheduling is important for two reasons:
- Building Readership. You’ll encourage your readers to visit your blog regularly.
- The Power Of Habit. You’ll get into the habit of regular writing – and stick with it. Just like going to the gym!
How Often Should I Publish Blog Posts?
There’s no right or wrong frequency for publishing new posts. It depends on…
- Your blog’s topic (eg, breaking news vs history)
- Your audience (eg, young vs old)
- Your goals (eg, a hobby vs a job as a professional blogger)
One of the best blogs we know publishes a new post just once a month.
No matter how often you update your blog, it’s a good idea to space out your posts, instead of publishing lots of new blog posts all at the same time.
You don’t have to sit down and write every blog post just before you intend to publish. WordPress lets you schedule blog posts in advance.
This gives you the freedom to plan a complete blogging schedule, write the blog posts ahead of time, and then publish them at regular intervals.
That might be once a day, once a week or once a month – the choice is yours.
What Makes A Successful Blog?
There are many routes to blogging success. However, you can’t go wrong in implementing these suggestions.
- Provide content that your audience values.
- Make sure you understand SEO. (And keep up to date with it.)
- Post on a consistent schedule.
- Use social media to promote your blog.
- Interact with your hardcore readers – they’re your best promoters!
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
That last one is probably the most important one. Experiment to see what both you and your readers like. If something falls flat, don’t give up – just try something new.
What Do Your Favorite Bloggers Do?
It can help to take a look at your favorite blogs with a critical eye to figure out why they succeed. What do other blogs do that stops you coming back?
Are they sending out regular emails to their readers? Do they offer merchandise? Do they have ads? Is there a pop-up newsletter box every time you click? Do they update frequently? How do they interact with commenters? What are they doing on social media?
Beyond The Basics Of Blogging
Already mastered the basics of blogging? Here’s what to think about next.
How To Build Traffic to Your Blog
Once you’ve got your first blog posts live, the next step is to get visitors to read your blog. This isn’t as hard as you might think. Most bloggers rely on four key sources of traffic:
Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.Seth Godin
- Search engines, like:
- Social media, including:
- Google Plus
- RSS (You can read more about RSS subscriptions here).
- Email newsletters
- Direct traffic, or people typing your domain name. You’ll not have any when you launch your blog!
How To Get Your Blog Ranking In Google
Search engines like Google add new blogs to their index when they discover them mentioned (in the form of links) on other websites. Effectively, the more links your blog has (from high-quality, popular sites), the higher Google rank you.
Want to know how to get your first link to your new blog? Read on below!
There are some basic SEO skills you can apply to any blog post you publish that will help improve your search engine rankings.
- Have a Good Title. The closer your title relates to keywords people are searching for, the higher your content will rank.
- Internal Linking. Internally link to other content on your blog to organize it better for web crawlers. In addition, aim to have other websites link back to your website (through guest posting, blog comments, or just by publishing quality content others want to mention on their own site) so Google and other search engines can reward you for being authoritative and rank your blog posts higher.
- Keyword Research. Take the time to find out what keywords relate to your content so that when people search for them, your website appears as one of the most relevant results. Add keywords to the title of your blog post, in the content body, and in metadata such as image alt text.
- Publish Consistently. Teach web crawlers to come back to your site on a regular basis and improve your rankings over time by publishing regular contentfor site visitors to enjoy. Ranking higher in search results will help, and becoming a source to rely on for consistent content helps as well
Email Newsletter For Bloggers
I recommend capturing your readers’ email addresses and sending regular newsletters helps keep them up to date. This builds loyalty and brings readers back for more.
Checkout our guide to email marketing for bloggers.
Social Media For Bloggers
You cannot underestimate the power of social media.
Give your readers a way to share their favorite content with those they know and watch your blog’s traffic boom. In addition, provide links to your social media accounts so loyal readers can follow you and either interact with you on social media or again, share their favorite stuff with everyone else.
Two of the most popular social media platforms in use are Facebook and Twitter. You can add native videos to Facebook and cater to those that love to watch videos, you can Tweet instant updates on Twitter and invite followers to check out your new blog post. And most importantly, no matter which network you use, you can expand your reach to an audience base you never even knew about.
You’ll want a matching name to your domain name on Facebook and Twitter.
Social networks can drastically expand your blog’s audience. If you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you have a better chance of getting found, so you should be thinking about them as part of your blogging strategy.