Do you want to start your own blog?
You’ll be pleased to hear that setting one up isn’t at all difficult. Nor is it expensive.
If you want to grow your traffic and potentially make money, that does take a bit more work but the good news is it’s a huge amount of fun!
You’ll meet fabulous people along the way and you’ll learn loads of new skills.
This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. This is at no extra cost to you. I only ever recommend products and services that I love and that I think you will love too.
1. Decide What To Blog About
Before you start your own blog, you need to have an idea of what you want to write about. It can literally be anything, but I’d recommend you choose something you are passionate about (or at least have good interest and some knowledge in).
Bloggers start blogs for all kinds of reasons. It may be a place for you to journal your thoughts, or perhaps you’re hoping to make a bit of cash or to blog as part of a part-time or full-time business. All of this is entirely possible.
The best way to get readers to your blog is to write for THEM rather than for you. I’ve found that posts that are helpful in some way for my readers have performed the best. You can still absolutely talk about your own experiences as well within your posts, I find this makes them more relatable.
So, what niche are you going to start your own blog in?
Begin by brainstorming ideas.
What are your interests and passions? Write them all down. Take at least 20 minutes.
Then pick one that fits your purpose for blogging the best. Ideally, pick one that you can still see yourself writing about in a few years time. If you are wanting to make money from your blog, obviously you need to pick one where there are products or services you can sell in that niche.
Look for something that other people are interested in. I suggest having a look at Google Trends to help you with this.
Choose your region (I tend to stick with the default US even though I’m in the UK as I’ve found the majority of my readership is in the US. If you are planning on blogging about something more local to you, then choose your own region).
Then simply type in a keyword and it gives you search volumes for that topic over time.
For example, I typed in ‘healthy eating’, and here is the graph for the last 12 months.
Search volumes for this topic peak, unsurprisingly, around January time, however, they are fairly stable the rest of the year so this could be a good niche.
You can also change the view to show data for longer time periods.
Basically, it may be better to avoid anything that has very few searches or a downward trend. Otherwise, don’t overthink it too much.
2. Choose A Domain Name
Once you’ve decided on your topic, the next step to start your own blog is to come up with a domain name. Then you need to check it’s available! You may need to tweak a bit to come up with one that you can buy.
The way I did it was to write down a bunch of keywords related to what I wanted to blog about. (Positivity, positive thinking, happiness, joy, personal growth etc). Then I spent a couple of hours jotting down possible names and checking which ones were available.
I recommend going for a dot com domain name rather than a region-specific one. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how affordable they are. You could also purchase your region-specific one as well to prevent someone from setting up a blog with the same name in your region (I bought .co.uk version of my domain name for example).
Try to pick a name that’s simple, relatable, and has some link to what you are blogging about (although loads of bloggers use their own name, so this isn’t 100% necessary if you are wanting to keep your options open). Keep it short and to the point.
Once you’ve decided on your domain name, you need to purchase it and then move onto the third step – hosting.
Hosting is the next step for turning your domain name into a website.
For a hobby blog, you can absolutely use WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com.
However, if you want to make money or use your blog for an existing business, self-hosting is the way forward.
This gives you so much more control over what you can do with your blog in terms of customisation and monetisation.
Packages on Siteground start at around $3.99 per month (drink one less Costa a month and you’ve paid for it!)
Head on over to the Siteground site and choose the Web Hosting option.
Depending on your plans for the future, you can choose between the ‘Startup’ and the ‘Grow big’ options.
If you’re hoping to grow your blog, make money or even make it into a full-time living, I’d recommend for the few extra dollars going for the Grow Big option (note my screenshots are in £s rather than $s!)
Once you’ve chosen your plan, click the option for ‘I already have a domain’ and enter the domain name you registered in the previous step.
You will be then asked to set up a username and password for Siteground along with making payment.
There are several options for contract lengths. The length doesn’t decrease the price per month, however, it will mean that you pay the discounted monthly fee for longer. (i.e. if you sign up for 12 months you will pay the full monthly fee after this time whereas if you sign up for 24 months you will pay the discounted fee for a year longer).
It’s really up to you which option you choose.
I would also say it’s worth adding the site scanner for extra site security.
It’s important to note that with Siteground you pay upfront. For a great pay monthly option, I would recommend Lyrical Host, another top-rated service.
4. Download WordPress
The next step to start your own blog is to download WordPress.org. This will be where you build your blog and write all your blog posts and pages.
First of all log into your Siteground account with the login you just created. Then follow these instructions
If you get stuck, be sure to use the chat facility and contact support. That’s what they’re there for.
You will be asked to create another user name and password specifically for WordPress. Make sure you make this something memorable as you will need it every day to get into your blog!
Once you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to log in and start designing your blog! To get to the dashboard you simply type in your domain name and add /wp-admin to the end For example yourdomainname. com/wp-admin
5. Choose A Theme
Now you can start the fun part of choosing a theme for your blog.
There are 1000s of themes you can choose from, with both free and paid options.
I chose a free theme and I still use it. I did dabble briefly with a paid theme as I had a discount code, but it didn’t seem to give me as many features as my free one so I reverted back!
Some good advice I was given early on was to search for ‘best WordPress themes xxx’ (insert year you are looking) on Google. That’s how I found mine.
Once you’ve found the theme you want, go to the Appearance section on your WordPress Dashboard.
You will probably be able to select your chosen theme from the WordPress theme directory. If not, you will be able to download it from the theme’s own website and then upload it. Click here for detailed instructions on how to install your theme.
Once you’ve installed your theme, you will want to customize it. Here’s how. Again, if you get stuck be sure to make use of Siteground’s support.
6. Install Plugins
The next stage to starting your own blog is to install some vital little tools known as plugins.
Think of these as being a bit like apps on your phone, little programs that do various useful things for you.
Most are free although some have additional features you can pay for. So far, I’ve found the free options to do the job.
To install them, you go through your dashboard.
It’s important not to go too bonkers with installing plugins as having too many can slow your site down. However, there are some very important ones you should install as a minimum.
This plugin is a vital tool to help you with what’s known as ‘search engine optimization’ or SEO. This sounds fancy, but it basically helps you to optimize your blog so your posts are more likely to be found higher up the page on search engine results.
Vital to weed out the inevitable spam comments on your blog posts.
GA Google Analytics
To link your blog to Google Analytics so you can track all kinds of cool statistics about visits to your site
Grow Social by Mediavine
Adds social media share buttons to your site
It’s really important to back up your blog regularly. (Your host won’t do this for you, it’s up to you to ensure your blog is backed up). This plugin automates this for you.
Pinterest Pin it button
You may not need this straight away, but trust me when I say Pinterest is one of the best ways of getting traffic to your blog. (No, I didn’t believe it at first either, I thought Pinterest was only for home decorating ideas. Wow, it’s so much more!). I use this plugin to allow visitors to pin images directly from my site to Pinterest.
7. Set Up The Legal Stuff
I would recommend using a plugin like WP Auto Terms to help you do this.
8. Set Up A Contact Page
You can set up a page with your contact details or a contact form in the same way as you did for your privacy page. It’s a good idea to link this page in a menu somewhere near the top of your blog so that people know where to find you. It’s also a good idea to add an About page.
I gave up with contact form plugins as all the ones I tried slowed my site speed down too much. So now I just list my email address on the contact page.
9. Write A Post
At last, it’s time to write your first post!
It’s a good idea to have at least 4 posts ready on your blog before you go live with your blog. (It will initially be in ‘coming soon’ mode until you choose the option to go live).
Once you’ve published posts you can go back and amend them any time you like, so don’t worry about getting them perfect at first (remember, perfect is the opposite of done!) Unless you already write for a living, they probably won’t be.
So you’ve hit publish on your first few posts and your blog has gone live. What now? It’s no good waiting for people to come to you. You need to get out there!
This is a massive topic in itself, but the two best ways I’ve found to get the word out is via Pinterest and also Twitter.
Search engine optimization is also important to learn about as well, although this one is a slow-burning thing so won’t get you such quick results as the other two.
There are also some excellent Facebook groups you can join where you can share blog posts with other bloggers.
Connecting with other bloggers via Facebook and Twitter is a brilliant way to get going. Don’t fall into the trap of only sharing your stuff though. You need to make sure you comment on and share other bloggers work. Yes, it’s hard work at first but it pays off I promise.
To get started with Pinterest I recommend this 5-day free challenge which explains how to get going.
11. Let’s Summarise
So, let’s summarise the steps to setting up your blog.
- Decide what to blog about
- Register a domain name
- Sign up for hosting
- Download WordPress
- Choose a theme
- Install Plugins
- Set up the legal stuff
- Set up contact and about pages
- Write your first post(s)
- Promote and connect with other bloggers
Good luck. I’d love to hear from you if you take the plunge and start your own blog. Drop me an email and I’ll check it out! And if you get stuck on any of this, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my very best to help.