Over the last two decades, blogging has become a lucrative source of income for many online entrepreneurs. Although many early bloggers used their sites to update friends and family about their personal lives, modern blogs often focus on one particular niche.
If you’re reading this article, it means you’ve at least thought about the prospect of starting a blog. With so much information out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to start.
This guide will provide vital information to help you start a blog website. You’ll learn how to pick your blog niche, what platform to use, how to choose a website domain, and what static pages you’ll need before you publish your first post. After that, you’ll learn great tips to help you write and promote amazing content. At the end of the guide, a blogging FAQ will help answer any remaining questions you may have.
Let’s get started!
Why You Should Have a Blog Website
When starting a blog, you have two options: use a free blogging platform or purchase your own website. Although the free accounts on sites like Blogger and WordPress are good for casual bloggers, purchasing your own blog website is worth the investment.
If you don’t own your blog, you’ll have to have a blog URL that includes the platform’s website name. For example: yourwebsite.wordpress.com. A fully customizable URL is one of the benefits to website ownership.
Having your own blog website allows you to build a brand and affords you the flexibility to design every part of your blog. If you have a specific vision in mind for your website, the restricted layout options on blogging websites may not suit your goals.
People get into blogging for a variety of reasons. If you’re trying to build an online business from your blog, a blog website of your own is absolutely essential. However, some hobbyists are only looking for a creative outlet.
Carmen Edelson of Carmen’s Luxury Travel, a popular travel blog, started her blog as a way to share her travel experience. Although she started it as a hobby, it quickly grew to become her full time business.
You see, when you create a blog on your own website, you leave the door open for future possibilities. Because when you start your blog website, you have infinite possibilities in front of you. Blogging is a lot of work, but building a brand is worth it.
Step 1: Picking the Blog Website Topic or Niche
As I’ve told before, modern blogs often focus on a specific topic or niche. Bloggers write about all sorts of topics: food, travel, parenting, hobbies, fitness, religion, and more.
If you have a wide variety of interests, it may be hard to narrow them down to choose one particular niche for your blog. However, writing about one topic allows you to focus your energy on becoming an authority in one specific area. This also helps your readers know what sort of content to expect from your blog.
How to Choose a Blog Website Topic
Before you do anything else, you should choose a website topic or niche. This helps readers learn what to expect from your website. It also allows you to build up expertise in one area.
Below I’ve listed five things you should consider when choosing a niche for your blog:
- Choose a topic you’re passionate about. You should choose a topic you’re eager to spend a lot of time exploring. Because of this, your blog topic should be something that you’re passionate about and willing to spend a lot of time writing about. This can be a hobby, career path, lifestyle, or other topic that holds your interest.
- Determine interest level for your topic. Tools like Google Trends allow you to figure out whether interest in a topic is increasing, decreasing, or consistent over the last several years. You want to choose a topic that will interest readers.
- Narrow down your niche. Carmen’s Luxury Travel (as mentioned above) narrowed down the travel niche by focusing primarily on luxury travel destinations and accommodations. Your niche should be narrow enough to make your blog unique while being broad enough to write regular content.
- Do some preliminary planning. When you have a niche in mind, take a few minutes to jot down blog post ideas. You should be able to think of ten to twenty topics within your niche. If you cannot think of enough topics to cover, you may need to broaden your niche.
- Consider the profitability of your niche. If you want to make money blogging, you should have ideas in mind for making your blog profitable. You may choose to focus on affiliate marketing or the sale of a product. Make sure your niche makes sense as you move forward to monetize your blog.
Step 2: What is the Best Blogging Website Platform?
You can choose from a variety of blogging platforms to build your blog website. Although they all have their merits, WordPress is most often used for its flexibility and reliability.
Below is key information about the major blogging platforms to help you make the right decision for your blog.
WordPress is the most commonly used blogging platform, and for good reason! Over 64 million websites use WordPress because of its flexibility and affordability.
Reasons bloggers love WordPress:
- It’s user-friendly with great tools to easily create and manage content.
- Over 50,000 plugins help add features to your site. Many of these plugins are free to use.
- SEO-related plugins help you improve your website’s search engine ranking.
- Responsive design allows users to access your site across devices. Since non-responsive sites are penalized by search engine giants like Google, a mobile-friendly site is essential to your blog’s success.
- WordPress is less expensive than other platform options.
The main downside to WordPress is the somewhat steep learning curve. Although the interface is user-friendly, getting your WordPress site set up may take a bit more effort than other blogging platforms.
That’s why I choose to use WordPress. But how about other platforms?
Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly
Wix is a blogging platform that uses a drag and drop website editor for easy, user-friendly access. However, they offer somewhat limited posting options. If you plan to use visual content like images and videos, you’ll need to be familiar with HTML to embed them into your posts.
Wix is a great option if you need a website for your business, but the limited posting options make it a more challenging fit for bloggers. Additionally, their platform costs more money than most WordPress plans.
Squarespace offers flexible templates and mobile-friendly design. However, there are some usability issues with their interface and they cost significantly more than WordPress too.
Weebly is an easy-to-use editor that offers mobile-friendly websites. Their limited tool selection and higher cost mean they’re not ideal for bloggers.
Step 3: Picking the Best Hosting to Start
As mentioned above that I really like to use WordPress, then let’s see how to start a blog website using WordPress. Because choosing a blogging platform is only part of your pre-blogging setup. Yet, your web hosting choice plays a significant role in site speed and usability.
What is Hosting?
Web hosting is what allows users to make their website available online. Information is stored on hosting servers. In order to publish a website, it needs to be stored somewhere. Good hosting sites will provide high speeds and little downtime.
Top 3 Best Web Hosting:
There are thousands of hosting options available. However, the following three hosting sites balance quality and affordability. This makes them an ideal choice for new bloggers.
Hostinger offers fast and affordable web hosting. Their services are the cheapest reliable hosting available, offering fast load times and 99.9% uptime. This means your website will have less than 10-14 hours of total downtime over the course of the year. Uptime testing revealed that for many months, Hostinger provided 100% uptime.
For as little as $1.39 a month, you can get a free domain and easy-to-use interface. Their live support offers answers to your questions quickly, with an average response time of 50 seconds. Most importantly, if you’re unsatisfied with their hosting, you can cash in on a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Siteground is a popular web hosting choice because of their great uptime, fantastic customer support, and top-notch security. Their fast load times and support help ensure your satisfaction. For new bloggers, they offer services to oversee your WordPress installation.
Unfortunately, Siteground is only for Linux-based servers. If you need Windows-based hosting, you’ll have to find another option. Siteground also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bluehost is a common pick for new bloggers because their platform is easy to use. Their high-performance servers offer fast load times and great security features. Their customer support responds quickly to any questions or concerns.
One drawback to Bluehost is the fact they only use one data center. Additionally, they provide no uptime guarantee and have a slightly sketch checkout process. While most online services will try to upsell during checkout, their checkout process automatically checks extra services, forcing you to opt-out if you only want basic hosting.
However, they are an otherwise solid choice for web hosting.
Step 4: Start Now Step by Step
Hostinger is a great Hosting to start and use. Also, it is very easy to set up your web hosting with them. The information below will help you get started.
Select Your Plan
Hostinger offers a few different web hosting plans. New bloggers should choose either their Single Shared Hosting or their Premium Shared Hosting package.
Their Single Shared Hosting offers a single site and one email account. However, they do not offer a free domain or any advertising credit.
The Premium Shared Hosting package offers up to one hundred sites, free email, a free domain, advertising credit, and unlimited databases. This package should cover all of your hosting needs, especially when you’re getting your blog set up.
Complete Your Order
To complete your order, provided information as prompted for your domain registration and hosting setup. Once completed, go to the “home” tab on Hostinger and select the “setup” button.
Enter your hosting details and submit the information. It really is that simple! Their easy-to-follow directions and user-friendly interface will make it easy to get started.
Step 5: Choosing Your Best Domain Name
Domain names are important since they leave an impression on your readers. Choosing the best domain name for your blog is an important step.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is an identifying name used in your website’s URL. It comes after “www.” and before your website’s top-level domain extension (such as “.com” or “.net”). Your domain name will be unique to your website.
What is a Good Domain Name?
When selecting a domain name, there are several things you should keep in mind. The following nine tips will help you choose the best domain name for your blog:
- Choose the right domain extension. When possible, use the “.com” domain extension, since it is the most recognized and trusted extension available. Although shorter domain names with other extensions may be tempting, the “.com” extension is the better choice most of the time.
- Use good keywords in your domain search. For example, a blog about photography should have “photography,” “photos,” or a related keyword in the domain name. Search for domain name suggestions around common keywords for your niche.
- Keep your domain name short. A good domain name will be under fifteen characters since this will be easier for readers to remember.
- Make it unique and easy to brand. It’s important to choose a unique domain name and avoid stealing the brand identity from another blog.
- Avoid hyphens. Hyphens are hard to type and easy to forget, making them a poor choice for domain names.
- Try not to use double letters. Obviously, some words have double letters in them, which is fine. However, you should avoid using words that create double letters between them. For example, the domain name “JessicasStitches” has a double “s,” making it easy to mistype and harder to read.
- Make sure your domain name doesn’t have double meanings. Avoid putting together words that create unsavory words. The website IT Scraps created an unintentionally bad domain name, “itscraps.com.” At first glance, this reads differently than intended.
- Think about your blog’s future. Make sure your domain doesn’t lock you into a niche that’s too narrow. You also want your domain name to be easy to remember and future-proof.
- Use a domain name generator to help. If you’re struggling to come up with creative ideas, these tools can help by generating domain names based on certain keywords.
Step 6: Install WordPress
Once you have your web hosting and domain purchased, you’ll be ready to get WordPress installed. Below is some key information to help you choose the best theme for your WordPress site.
What is a Theme?
WordPress and third-party designers offer themes to use on WordPress sites. These themes are templates that create the overall appearance of your website. They combine web code, graphics, styles, and colors to create a cohesive design for your blog.
How Do You Change Your Theme?
To change your WordPress theme, go to the admin dashboard for your WordPress site. Click on the “appearance” tab, then click on the “theme” button. From there, you’ll find a list of possible themes. Choose the “activate” button that accompanies your theme of choice.
If you already have pages built and blog posts written, make sure to backup all your content before installing a new theme. This ensures the security of your information. If you’re installing a theme for the first time, you won’t need to worry about this.
How to Choose the Best Theme?
With thousands of available themes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Choose a simple theme that contributes to your content without distracting readers.
- Choose a responsive theme, since search engines penalize sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
- Make sure the theme supports your preferred WordPress plugins.
- Read reviews to see what others users think of the theme.
Some themes are more popular than others. The four premium themes below offer advanced features, making them a great choice for bloggers looking to invest a little money.
This theme and page builder is built by Elegant Themes. In 2020, it was the most-used theme on WordPress sites. Benefits to this theme include:
- A responsive theme and visual page builder
- User-friendly and flexible, good for new and advanced bloggers
- Fast and responsive pages, good for online magazines
- Premade layouts that can be easily adapted to your site needs
- An intuitive interface
One minor drawback to the Divi Theme is that longer pages can be slow in editing mode. Otherwise, this versatile theme is a great choice for creative bloggers.
This fully responsive WordPress theme is another popular choice for bloggers. Benefits to this theme include:
- Modern and clean design
- An intuitive interface and features
- Flexible, live customization with a drag and drop editor
- Over 670 pre-made templates and blocks
- 8 included premium plugins
Although their pre-made templates are helpful, some users report feeling overwhelmed with all of the options offered by the Newspaper Theme. However, they’re a great option if you’re looking for a flexible and functional theme.
This multi-purpose theme combines clean design with fast load times. Benefits of this theme include:
- A free option for the core theme and premium features to add extra value
- Over 45 prebuilt website designs
- Integration with WooCommerce (a good tool if you plan to have an online shop)
- Customer support and page builder support
- Money-back guarantee
GeneratePress does not, however, offer customer support for the free version. Their top-notch support is included with all premium purchases.
This premium multi-purpose theme offers lots of options for your blog website. Benefits of this theme include:
- Lots of design options
- A drag and drop page builder
- Integration with WooCommerce (a good tool if you plan to have an online shop)
- Advanced internal search options
One drawback to Avada is that it has high minimum requirements for web hosting and servers. Some users also report minor inconveniences during installation.
Step 7: Write Your First Blog Post & Publish It
You’re almost ready to write and publish your first blog post! Before publishing, there are several static pages that you need to create. Once created, you can begin writing and promoting great online content.
Important Static Pages to Include:
The static pages below should be included on any blog website. It’s vital that they’re formatted well and free of errors. You should review and update these pages once or twice every year to keep them accurate and up-to-date.
Your “about me” page should capture readers’ attention and help them get to know you. Give them information about your background, as well as the vision behind your blog. In certain niches, it is also appropriate to list credentials relevant to your blog’s topic.
This page tells readers why they should care about your blog. Use this page to tell a compelling story and sell your values as a blogger. The bottom of your about page should include a clear call-to-action, such as recommended posts or keystone content.
This page provides contact information to readers. You may choose to include a contact form or links to email and social media. In some cases, you might choose to list a phone number and address.
It’s best to keep this page as simple as possible. Too much information can confuse readers. All information should be formatted clearly to promote easy understanding.
This page limits your liability and provides FTC disclosures for any affiliate marketing. It is legally required for U.S. bloggers enrolled in affiliate marketing programs. Check local disclosure laws to ensure your blog’s compliance.
This also provides readers with copyright information, protecting your rights and your work.
This page lets readers know how you collect and use their personal information. If your website shares information with any third parties, make sure to disclose that here. The information included may vary based on the privacy laws where you live.
Terms of Service
This page includes your website rules. For example, you might post rules about comments on your blog, such as “don’t use profanity or hate speech.” You determine what rules are included.
If you have an online shop, you should also include policies for purchases (such as “returns must be made within 30 days” or “no refunds for coaching sessions”). Make sure you have these policies written before you begin selling products on your website.
How to Write Great Blog Content
There’s an endless amount of information about how to write great blog content. The following are six things to keep in mind as you create your first blog posts:
- Write with your audience in mind. You should narrow down your target audience from “everyone” to a select group. For example, you might write pet care advice with millennials in mind. Perhaps your fitness blog provides information for primarily middle-aged women. Knowing your audience allows you to tailor your content to their needs.
- Write great headings. Use heading analyzer tools to help you craft the best headings for your articles. Write headings that will compel your readers to read the entire article.
- Provide an interesting introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of your article should draw people in and keep them reading. In the first portion of your article, you may also list the things readers will learn by reading the article.
- Break up your content and make it easier to read. Subheadings can break up content and help engage readers. Shorter paragraphs and bullet points are also good for breaking up long articles.
- Provide great value to readers. Don’t write articles like you’re providing free content, even though you are. Write as if you care about providing the best information or entertainment to your readers, whether or not they make a purchase from your site. Providing great value will help you build trust with your audience.
- Add photos, graphs, and videos. Visual content helps your readers make the most of your content. Make sure any embedded videos include subtitles for viewers watching without sound. Photos, graphs, and videos can all make your content look more interesting.
Promote Your Blog Website
Writing great content is only the first step. Once you have great content written, use the following 11 tips to promote your website:
- Create graphics to go with your posts. Social media users love visual content. Great post graphics will help motivate social media users to click through and visit your blog. Sites like Canva offer free design tools. Stock photo sites like Unsplash offer free photos to use on your blog.
- Create an email newsletter. You can build a relationship with your blog’s readers by creating a blog newsletter. Share updates, recent posts, and other information in regular newsletters.
- Repurpose your content. Use the information in a blog post to create an infographic. Create a podcast or video based on your recent posts. Use these strategies to maximize your reach.
- Share blog posts on social media. Figure out which social media sites make the most sense for your content. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tiktok, Snapchat, Twitter, and other sites are great for advertising blog posts.
- Create a relevant group on social media. An online group gives you an outlet to create conversations and promote your content. Facebook groups allow you to share information and build relationships with readers.
- Be helpful on sites like Quora, Reddit, and Facebook. Don’t spam people with links to your website (even if they’re helpful). Include a link to your blog on your profile. When users see how helpful you are, they may look at your profile and click on your blog’s link.
- Share your blog on related niche sites. For example, share your book review blog on Goodreads or your knitting blog on Ravelry. Find the niche sites related to your topic and get plugged in with users interested in your blog’s niche.
- Write guest posts for other blogs. Guest posts can help bring traffic to your blog from another blogger’s audience.
- Improve your SEO. When people use search terms related to your niche, you want to be high on their results. Improving your search engine optimization (SEO) can bring traffic from search engine results.
- Repost your content on other sites. Post your content on sites like LinkedIn and Medium to capture more readers. Embedded links on these posts can bring readers to your site.
- Use advertising. You may choose to promote social media posts or use Google advertising to get the word out about your blog. It’s up to you and your blog’s budget to figure out the best advertising for your site.
With these things in mind, you’re ready to grow your blog’s audience!
Blogging Website FAQ:
If you don’t want to build your own website, you can hire a freelancer on a site like Fiverr or Upwork to create it for you. Read user reviews to find out which freelancers are best suited for your website and budget.
There are lots of ways to make money from your blog. The following five methods can help you get started:
I. Ads: you can get money by placing ads on your website. However, you need a huge number of visitors each year to make money from ads. Additionally, too many ads may deter your readers from engaging with your content.
II. Affiliate marketing: when you sign up for an affiliate marketing program, you get a commission when your readers purchase items. Many bloggers enroll in Amazon’s affiliate marketing program since they offer a wide variety of items (making it easy to integrate into your blog’s niche).
III. Online courses: visitors can sign up for paid courses. For example, you may offer a course on candlemaking or creative writing. When visitors pay for the course, you provide teaching materials and access to online discussion and assistance.
IV. Publish an ebook: when you publish an ebook, you can promote that book on your site. Your audience will pay for this extra content, especially if you’ve already built trust and credibility with regular free content.
V. Products or services: you can sell products or services related to your niche. For example, a craft blog might sell kits to complete certain projects. You may also offer one-on-one coaching or other freelancer services.
The methods above are just a few of the many ways you can make money blogging. Trial and error will help you determine which methods best fit your blog.
Blogging success depends on what you want out of your blog. If you just want a creative outlet, success will be defined by your enjoyment of the process. If you’re trying to build an audience, the number of page visits and views mark success.
For bloggers trying to build an income, the amount of income earned will be a clear signpost of your blog’s success. As you reach different income landmarks, you’ll be able to determine whether or not your blog is successfully meeting your goals.
There are over 600 million blogs online, but many of them fail. These are five reasons why people fail with blog websites:
1. They aren’t blogging consistently. It takes a lot of work to make a blog successful. If you’re only blogging as a hobby, you can get away with inconsistent posting. However, building a blog into a business takes real work.
2. Their content isn’t good. It isn’t enough to build a great website. Each piece of content must push readers to read more. Great content will attract long-term readers.
3. They don’t know how to promote their content. You can write the best content in the world, but it won’t matter if no one sees it. Social media marketing and digital advertising are essential for attracting readers.
4. Their niche is too narrow or too broad. Unless you’re a news giant, you can’t get away with combining niches. If you try to cobble together too many different niches, you may lose readers. On the flip side, a niche that’s too narrow may not bring in enough readers to make your blog successful.
5. Your content isn’t unique. You need an angle to make your content unique. For example, it isn’t enough to be a food blogger. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be different. A food blogger might stand out from the crowd by focusing on simple meals for big families or vegan dishes on a budget.
New bloggers can make money in a variety of ways: affiliate marketing, course sales, online coaching, and more. While most people think of advertising when trying to monetize their blog, you need a huge audience to make any significant money with ads.
Many new blogs make money with affiliate marketing since it allows them to make money at any audience size.
Wanting to start a blog is only the first step. Once you decide to get into blogging, you’ll need to choose a hosting service and blogging platform. Hostinger offers great hosting at an amazing price. While other platforms work on Hostinger, WordPress is the best option for bloggers.
As you make these important decisions for your blog, you’ll need to choose a niche and domain name. Your niche should be something you’re passionate about and broad enough that you can easily come up with blog post topics. However, it should be narrow enough to allow you to stand out from the crowd.
After your site is created, you’re ready to write. Create great content and invest time and energy in promoting your blog. When you consistently deliver excellent content, you’ll draw in new readers and build a loyal readership.
When your readership grows, monetize your site with advertising, affiliate marketing, and other money-making methods. Even if you started your blog as a hobby, it may turn into a full-time income!
Now you’re ready to get out there and start your own blog!