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Is 2018 the year you’re going to finally launch your blog? If so, read on, because in just 10 easy-to-follow steps we will show you how to start a WordPress blog!
Over the nearly 7 years since I started blogging, I have had many of my friends and family say that they wish they had a blog. I think there is something really appealing about having a place online where you can share your thoughts, experiences, and expertise with people all over the globe. Then, when people find out that you can actually make money blogging, that adds a whole new layer to their excitement.
But then, months (or years) after they expressed interest in blogging, they still haven’t taken the steps to make it happen.
I think that the main thing that holds people back from starting a WordPress blog is that they just don’t know how to get started.
If this rings true for you (which I imagine it does since you’re here), then keep reading. I’m going to go over all of the basics of how to start a WordPress blog in 10 easy steps.
Before we go any further, though, do you have a budget? If so, great! Blogging isn’t expensive, but if you’re going to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’re going to need to pay for hosting and a domain name. If you’re not yet ready to spend money, you might instead want to head on over to our post about how to start a blog for free (this post focuses on the free Blogger platform).
Still here? Ok, let’s get started.
How to Start a WordPress Blog in 2018
Step 1: Select a Niche
The first step would be to decide what you want to blog about. For some people, they may already know exactly what they want to blog about. However, if you are struggling to pin this down, I recommend asking yourself a few questions:
- What do I enjoy doing or talking about? Think of topics that you really can sink your teeth into. Preferably something that you feel you could talk about for hours at a time.
- What am I good at? Think about the skills that you have. They can be things you are naturally good at or things that you have practiced for a while. When people tell you “You’re so good at this,” what are they talking about?
- What do people tend to come to come to me about? Do people often come to you for advice, tips, or feedback on a certain topic?
- Who do I want to talk to? If you are going to blog, chances are you want people to read your blog. Who are these people? What do they like to read about?
If you plan to make money blogging, you should also ask:
- What am I am an expert in? (Note: being good at something and being an expert are two different things.) Have you spent a lot of time studying or practicing in a certain niche or industry? Perhaps you have received formal education or training.
- What is a topic that could be easily monetized? Finally, think about topics that you think would include some type of profitable need. Is there something that you could talk about that people would actually pay for?
Typically, your niche will be one that overlaps most or all of these categories.
Example (Not Based on a Real Person):
Jasmine graduated with a degree in early childhood education and specialized in play therapy. She has 3 young children at home and has been homeschooling the oldest for 3 years. She loves working with children and coming up with ideas to make learning fun. People often come to her for advice on parenting and education. They often tell her that she is really creative and has a knack for explaining things. She decides to start a blog that is all about making learning fun for kids.
|Note: If you genuinely can’t decide on a specific niche that you want to talk about, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes it takes a bit of exploring “on the job” to narrow things down, and that’s OK. Don’t NOT start a blog because you can’t decide on a niche.|
Step 2: Choose & Buy Your Domain Name
Once you have a good idea of what you want your blog to be about, it’s time to choose your blog’s name. When it comes to choosing the perfect name for your online home, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Simple is best
Resist the urge to come up with something complicated or fancy. Something simple is your best bet. That isn’t to say that it can’t be clever or unique – it just needs to be fairly straightforward.
Keep it short
Again, keep it simple. You don’t want a domain that is super long.
Make it easy to remember
If you keep it short and simple, it will be way easier for people to remember it. Also, if it is unique, that makes it memorable as well.
Make it easy to spell
I know that there may be the temptation to spell something in a unique way, but if you make it TOO unique, it may be difficult for people to remember.
Stay away from trademarked names
It may be tempting to go for name recognition, especially if you will be blogging about a specific brand. However, using branded names may land you in legal trouble, so it’s better to avoid it. So avoid calling your blog something like DisneyMama or StarbucksIsLife. You can still blog about your love for Disney and expensive coffee, but you’re better off going with a different name.
When in doubt, go with your name
If you find yourself stuck on this step for too long or you still don’t know what you are going to blog about, one good option is to just go with your name. This will be easy for people who know you to remember, could be unique (depending on your name), and gives you the flexibility to talk about whatever you want to.
Where to buy cheap domain names
Once you have decided on the perfect name, it’s time to buy it. We recommend buying your domain name through NameCheap. They live up to their name! You can typically secure your domain name for no more than $11 per year. Once you buy the name, you don’t have to worry about someone coming along and stealing it. However, if you feel like the name will be popular, you may want to spend a bit more money buying all of the variations of it. For example, if you call your early childhood education blog www.DaysOfTheWeek.com, you may want to buy the .org, .club, and .ninja versions as well as www.TheDaysOfTheWeek.com. You wouldn’t want people to mistakenly end up on someone else’s blog! You could even set up these domains to automatically redirect to your blog, just in case they do type in the wrong thing.
|Note: You can and should buy your domain name even if you choose to start your blog on Blogger, which we talk about in our post about starting a blog for free. Buying your domain name does not mean that you immediately need to buy hosting, but having your web address be www.thisismyblog.com looks far more professional than www.thisismyblog.blogspot.com!|
Step 3: Choose & Pay For Hosting
Ok, so now you have your niche and the perfect domain name. The next step is to find a location to build your online home – your hosting. We highly recommend going the self-hosted WordPress route, obviously, but there are also some WordPress alternatives you may wish to explore.
I know you’ll see lots of other bloggers recommending Bluehost, but before you jump on board with them, please check out our post on why you should avoid Bluehost. They’re honestly terrible.
We recommend two hosting providers:
Both of these providers provide great customer service, which is a necessity when you are first getting your blog set-up and should things ever go wrong. They also provide great uptime, are fast, and budget-friendly.
SiteGround is incredibly easy to get set up with and if you choose them you can have your blog up and running in about five minutes! Here’s everything you need to know about how to set up a blog on SiteGround.
You honestly can’t go wrong with either GreenGeeks or SiteGround, and launching your blog with either host couldn’t be easier or more budget-friendly. Start right now and you can have your blog online 10 minutes from now!
Step 4: Customize Your Blog Design
If you’re looking for feminine WordPress themes, check out the following shops:
• Station Seven (this theme was designed by them)
Shop around until you find the one theme that makes you happy!
Most themes will have tutorials that teach you how to customize them and thankfully, customizing is now easier than ever! Just remember that customizing a theme is always going to be a bit of trial and error. Concentrate on customizing your theme when you have a nice chunk of time to dedicate to it. If, however, this part of the process is more stressful than fun, you may opt to hire a web designer to do it for you. Check out the best places to hire a web designer
Step 5: Create the Essential Pages
There are three key pages every blog needs:
• About page
• Contact page
The homepage is like the welcome mat to your blog. It is the place where you welcome people to your online home, tell them to make themselves comfortable and give them a brief tour of places in your home that you want them to visit. In other words, it is the place to make your best first impression concerning your blog or brand.
There are generally two types of home pages. The first is a static home page where you can direct people to different places on your site. The other contains your blog posts so that people can dive right in. There’s no right or wrong here, although, for most blogs, I’d say your best bet is to tempt people with content and not make them click around to find what they’re looking for. (In other words, the latter option is probably best for most bloggers.)
Your about page is where people come to learn more about you specifically. They want to know the person behind the screen. Who are you? Why do you blog? What do you blog about? Who is your audience? What do you have to offer them? Don’t be afraid to include a picutre of yourself on your about page – it will help your readers connect with you if they can put a face to your name! The about page is another great place to direct readers to your most popular/important blog posts as well as to offer them a freebie in the hopes that they will come back. Here are some tips for writing a great about page.
Finally, all blogs need to have a contact page. At the very least, this should be a page on your blog that lists your email address and social media accounts, which gives people (like potential partners and advertisers) ways to get ahold of you. Ideally, though, you’d embed a contact form on a page. Here’s how to add a contact page to Blogger. If you’re using WordPress, we recommend the Contact Form 7 plugin.
Step 6: Get Your Plugins
The next step is to install some key plugins. Plugins are a great way to improve the functionality of your blog, making it easier for you and your readers to enjoy. However, there are thousands of plugins to choose from and deciding which ones to use can be difficult. Especially if you are completely new to blogging. There are premium WordPress plugins that usually cost money, but there are also thousands of free WordPress plugins.
Here is a starter list of free plugins that we recommend:
This plugin helps you to make sure each blog post is search engine optimized by highlighting the different areas you need to focus on and giving you tips to improve each one. It prompts you to choose a keyword, use it several times in your post (including in the title, the intro, the body, and the snippet preview), to create a snippet preview that will entice readers to click over to your blog, to improve the readability of your post, and more. Even if you know next to nothing about SEO, this plugin will help you to get it right. (And if you know nothing about SEO, be sure to check out our easy SEO tips for bloggers.)
If you want to know how well your blog is performing, installing Google Analytics is the best (and most popular) analytics tool out there. While you may be tempted by other analytics software, keep in mind that Google Analytics is the industry standard and is really the only one you need.
With the free Google Analytics plugin, you can see data right on your WordPress dashboard, including how many people visited your blog, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, and which posts are the most popular. If you visit the Google Analytics website, you can dig even deeper into the analytics by seeing such info as how people are finding your blog, where they live, their demographic info, their interests, and much more. This information can be extremely helpful in helping you to come up with topics your audience will respond to, figuring out a marketing strategy, and other aspects of having a successful blog.
One of the worst things that can happen to a blogger is to go into your blog’s backend one day and see that EVERYTHING is gone and you can’t get it back. Avoid this disaster by installing a backup plugin. I recommend backing up your blog monthly at least. If you post very frequently, you may want to do it even more than that.
If you want people to be able to engage with your blog posts, you want a commenting system that is easy to use. Disqus is a really popular choice, although there’s nothing wrong with regular WordPress comments, either.
Another great option for the comments section is CommentLuv, which fosters a sense of community by allowing commenters to display their latest blog post or Tweet.
Personally, a lot of my traffic comes from Pinterest. I capitalize on that by making it extremely easy for people to pin my content if they want to. The Pin it Button plugin is the best option I know of for that.
If you love being organized and want everything all in one place, this is a great plugin for you. The drag and drop features make it simple for you to plan and organize all of your blog content.
I really love plugins that make it easy for people to share my content. One cool one is Click to Tweet. It enables your reader to (as the name implies) click to tweet a quote from your post. Here is an example.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Come check out a list of must-have plugins (plus tips on starting a blog). ” quote=”Come check out a list of must-have plugins (plus tips on starting a blog). “]
Again, you want to make it really easy for people to share your content. This plugin allows you to display social shares for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google+, and many more. It also showcases the number of your social shares.
No one likes spam comments. Akismet helps to automatically filter out comments that look like they are probably spam. It also gives you the opportunity to review those comments- just in case a real comment was inaccurately marked as spam.
Check out our list of recommended blogging tools for a few more plugins we love to use.
Step 7: Set Up Your Social Media Accounts
Step 10 is promoting your content, but before you can promote you need vehicles for promotion. You might as well set up your social media profiles before you begin writing so that you can add the links to your blog and make sure they work before people find your site and want to begin subscribing to your content! When setting up your profile on each site, be sure to include a link back to your blog in your profile! This will help tell people where to find you, but is also good for building links to your site.
There are so many different social media sites bloggers can use, but at a very minimum you should establish a presence on the following:
It used to be that everyone needed a Facebook page, but now people are gravitating more toward groups. If you’re unsure about the difference or what you need, check out our post about Facebook pages vs Facebook groups.
Honestly, you might want to consider both. Facebook Pages don’t have much benefit anymore since Facebook has made it nearly impossible to get organic traffic from them, but through your Facebook Page you can set up advertisements and boost posts, and if you ever write sponsored posts your advertisers will likely want Facebook shares. Here are some more tips for what to include on your Facebook page.
Facebook groups are great for having more in-depth and engaging conversations and you may want to use your group to experiment with Facebook Live. One thing I really like about groups is that you can choose to make them closed and/or private, which means posts will only show up in the feeds of those who are members. I think this leads to better discussions because it’s a bit more private and you know your posts won’t appear in the feed of random “friends” you haven’t spoken to since high school.
Twitter is one of the easiest social media sites to use. Share your links and share the links of others!
Many bloggers report that most of their blog traffic comes directly from Pinterest. Thus, it’s important to develop a presence there. Be sure to do a few things:
- Create a board that’s just for your blog posts
- Set up rich pins
- Join group boards
- Share your pins and content others share, too
There aren’t too many Pinterest “tools,” but the one I currently use and recommend is Tailwind. Tailwind makes it easy to schedule content so that your Pinterest account looks busy even when you’re not physically doing anything. You can also use Tailwind Tribes to share your content with fellow pinners and also to find other similar content to share on your account. Check out our Introduction to Tailwind.
While there are many blogging-related courses, one of the few courses I highly recommend is Melyssa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth. It’s not cheap, but it literally taught me everything I know about Pinterest and has made it possible for me to grow my main account to 13,000+ followers, but more importantly, my pins are being viewed on Pinterest nearly 1 MILLION times each month. Check out my Pinfinite Growth review for more info on this course.
Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, etc.
There are tons of other social media outlets out there, including Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat. All of these outlets can be valuable as you build your blogging presence and you should experiment to see which outlets work best for you. You do NOT need to use all of them unless you want to, but it’s only with a little bit of trial and error that you’ll find your perfect social media mix.
Step 8: Brainstorm Your Blog Content
Once your blog is all set up and ready to go, you can start planning your content. You can use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, a blog planner, or just pencil and paper. Think about who your audience is and what they would like to read within your niche. If you are drawing a blank, check out some other blogs in your niche for ideas. Pinterest can be a great place to start. Plan out at least 3-4 solid ideas that you can run with to get started. The more you practice this, the easier it will become. Now pick one blog post to focus on before moving on to the next step.
Step 9: Start Writing
Here’s the fun part (I hope). It’s time to start writing! Start off with a headline that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to read. Whether your post is educational, informative, entertaining, or inspiring, keep your tone true to who you are and what you want your brand to be.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind as you begin writing:
First of all, just start writing. So many people spend so much time thinking about writing that they never get around to writing. Start by getting some words out there, then go back and refine them later.
Use headlines, bullet points, and pictures as much as you can to break up the text and make it easy to follow along.
Add multimedia elements to your posts, like photos, GIFS, and videos, is usually a good idea. Elements like these can help keep people on your site longer, which is good for SEO as it will help reduce your bounce rate! If you need photos, you can always take your own, or there are plenty of sites where you can get free stock images for your blog. Check out GIPHY for GIFS you can download, and you can embed nearly any vide from Youtube into your posts.
All posts should be a minimum of 300 words, but the posts that typically do the best in search engines are usually 1,000+ words! While you don’t have to write a novel every time you want to publish a post, you should try to make your posts as thorough as possible and attempt to answer any questions your reader may have.
In order to appear as professional as possible, always check your spelling AND grammar. I HIGHLY recommend the free Grammarly browser extension. It makes me a better writer on a daily basis! Check out our Grammarly review for more details.
Be sure to use your keywords naturally throughout the post. A keyword (or keyword phrase) is basically the overall theme of your post. For instance, the main keyword for this post is “how to start a WordPress blog.” It describes this post and, ideally, Google will eventually send traffic to this piece when people search for the phrase “how to start a WordPress blog.” The easiest way to determine your keyword, without doing keyword research, is to think about what short phrase you think people would Google in order to find your post. If SEO is completely new to you, check out 10 Easy Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts or our course, Introduction to SEO for Bloggers.
Include links where relevant and end with a clear call-to-action. This could be as simple as asking people to comment on something related to the topic, follow you on social media, sign up for your mailing list, or download a freebie.
For more tips to help you out with the writing process, check out What to Do Before You Write Your First Blog Post.
Step 10: Promote
Once you’ve written a few posts, it’s time to share your baby with the world. Use your social media profiles to let people know that you have launched a blog and want them to check it out. Share your blog posts in relevant communities where your ideal audience hangs out (just be sure that you follow any rules about promotional material – so you don’t get kicked out). Personally, I love sharing my blog posts in Facebook groups, on my fan page, on Pinterest, and on Twitter. However, you know your platforms and audience better than I do, so go with what you think will work. Plus, you can always explore new options and tweak your marketing strategy as you go. For more tips on how to promote your blog, check out these 30 ways to promote your blog post for free.
Blogging should, ideally, be 20 percent writing and 80 percent promotion. This may come as a surprise to you if you’re totally new to blogging, but it’s one thing to write a post and another to get people to read it. Promotion isn’t always easy and you’re going to have to hustle, but taking time to promote your posts will help you grow an audience. We can all agree that promotion is necessary, but it can also be incredibly time-consuming. As a result, I highly recommend investing in a social media scheduler of some sort, which will help you plan out your promotional posts on social media, and even post for you so that you don’t have to do everything in real time.
A few of the social media schedulers I’ve used over the years include:
- Buffer – This is a great scheduler, but under the free plan you can only schedule 10 shares in advance
- Hootsuite – the free plan is fantastic, and options to upgrade are available
- Recurpost – they have an incredibly generous free plan, although the interface is a little confusing
- Missinglettr – Check out our Missinglettr review for details on how this planner helps you schedule your social media shares a year in advance
As with everything else blogging-related, finding the perfect social media scheduler for your needs may take a little bit of trial and error. In our opinion, though, it’s time well-spent as scheduling out social media shares will help you reclaim some of your time in the future!
In addition to promoting your blog via social media, you should ideally start sending out an email newsletter with your latest posts. There are services you can use that will help you collect email addresses and send out newsletters. Two free options are Mailchimp and MailerLite, both of which are great. I personally use MailerLite for one of my sites and recommend it. While Mailchimp is probably more popular, the free plan for MailerLite is better, as they will let you send an unlimited number of emails to up to 1,000 recipients before needing to upgrade to a paid plan. If you’re looking for something a little more robust – and a lot more expensive – then ConvertKit is a great option. It’s what we are currently using for this site.
Stop thinking and start a WordPress blog now!
Starting a blog can be intimidating, but take my word for it: Just start now! People spend so much time thinking about it and planning out every little thing, but one of the great things about blogging is that it’s a medium that’s constantly evolving. You can go back and edit (or delete) posts you don’t like. You can change your theme. You can add new content. But first things first, you need to get started.
Hopefully, this post will give you just the push you need to start a WordPress blog now! Good luck!
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