How to Start a Blog
There are many reasons why you should start a blog. As a business, it’s great for SEO and content marketing. It’s also essential for informing and educating your customers. As an individual, well, there are infinite reasons why you might want to start a blog. But for many aspiring bloggers, the big question is, how to start a blog? Well, you’ve come to the ‘write’ place.
The idea may be appealing. The willingness is there. Perhaps even the content, approach, and writing style are all good to go. But, how do you get a blog off the ground?
This essential guide will take you through the entire blog creation process from start to finish. From setup to content and formatting tips, to social sharing advice and guidance on what to expect once you hit ‘publish’.
Start a Blog With a Purpose
Initially, this may come across as stating the obvious. But you’d be surprised how many people are seduced by the idea of setting up a blog they can monetise and turn into their main source of income, just because they’ve seen someone else do it.
Starting a blog to make money is not a purpose. Not even if it’s a major part of your content marketing plan. The ‘purpose’ can’t be defined by the fact that you want to use your blog to get results.
Of course, it is possible to monetise a blog, but this takes a lot of time, a carefully determined niche, plenty of keyword research, consistently high volumes of quality content, and plenty of savvy social media marketing and promotion.
In short, it’s not as easy as it seems. Not impossible. But hardly a quick and easy win. And certainly not as glamorous as made out to be by digital nomads and travel bloggers.
So, one of the first things to do when considering how to start a blog is to clearly determine its purpose.
- What are you going to write about?
- Why do you want to write about it?
- Who’s going to read it?
- What benefit will readers gain from your blog?
If nothing else, keep it simple. You should be able to define the purpose of your blog in a single sentence:
- To provide informative articles on social media marketing and content marketing.
- Inspire and inform photographers with detailed reviews and comparisons of different photography equipment.
- Educate and support new mums about what to expect from motherhood.
This is how to start a blog with a purpose.
How to Pick a Blog Name
What’s in a name? Well, everything really. Your blog is your brand. So treat it as such. Interestingly, this is often overlooked by people when considering how to start a blog. Not the naming part. But the branding part.
Once you’ve clearly established the purpose of your blog it’s important to choose a name that reflects that purpose, your personality and tone of voice — your brand. If you’re a business starting a blog as a means to drive traffic to your site and boost your SEO, then you’re already halfway there, in terms of naming. Your blog just becomes an extension of your website and your existing brand (unless you want to get creative and give it a funky name). However, if you’re looking to start a blog as a business (a new income stream), then you have to think of it as a business entity. It needs a name. It needs branding.
So take your time. Really think about what your blog’s name communicates about you as a blogger and about the topics you are blogging about.
Once you have a name you want to register the domain. There’s a lot of choice in domain suffixes (or domain extensions) these days, so again, this is your chance to be creative and pick a name that really stands out.
Having your own domain as opposed to an extension of a free website builder domain (think Wix, Weebly, Blogger, etc.) gives you greater credibility and authority. It shows visitors to your site that you’re serious enough about your blog to spend money on registering its own domain.
Choose a Host
In addition to domain registration, hosting services are also important when planning how to start a blog.
A domain on its own is no good. You need a server to host your blog. So find a suitable hosting service that will also provide you with an email server and other web tools to help you maintain your blog’s site. Many domain providers offer packages that include domain registration and hosting, so shop around. Popular providers include, Domain.com, GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com, Bluehost.com, HostGator.com, Name.com, 1&1, and Register.com.
Finally, show your readers you take security seriously. Many of the aforementioned companies also offer SSL certificates as part of their packages. Consider getting one for your blog to ensure secure connections between your web server and your readers’ browsers.
Have You Chosen a Platform to Start Your Blog On?
So you’ve got this far in your move towards blogging. Now it’s time to choose the right platform to start your blog.
There are many available for free (Wix, Blogger, Medium), but as mentioned earlier, you don’t get a fully personalised domain. For that, you need to buy a premium subscription or template for a particular platform.
The most popular platforms for people looking at how to start a blog are WordPress, Squarespace, and Ghost. These are typified by their intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces. You can create a complicated website – and even launch an e-commerce business on these platforms – without writing any code. Ultimately, you need to choose the platform that best suits your level of technical expertise and, most importantly, suits your blog’s purpose.
Leverage Social Media to Help Start Your Blog
With everything now in place (blog purpose, domain, platform) you’re all set to start writing, right?
You see, starting a blog with no one to read it really defeats the purpose of blogging in the first place. So it’s worth your while leveraging your social media presence to help you.
First of all, if you’re setting up a blog for your business, you can use your various social media channels to direct your followers towards it. However, if your looking at how to start a blog as a business, you may wish to keep it separate from your personal social media profiles and set up new branded social channels just for the blog.
With this in mind, it’s important to think carefully when choosing your channels. Go back to your purpose and choose the social media channels that are most relevant to your niche. Think about where your target audience is and develop your brand’s social media presence there. At this stage, you may wish to explore the benefits of a social media audit.
As part of this process, it’s also important to register the social handles for your blog. Try to keep these consistent across all platforms so they are memorable and recognisable. Ultimately, you want your social media handles to reflect your brand name. If, however, your preferred handle is already taken, you’ll have to get creative.
Additionally, it’s worth cross-promoting your blog on your personal social profiles. A little self-promotion goes a long way. You can direct that ready-made audience to your blog’s branded social channels.
Setting Up Your Blog
Better known as, ‘How to Start a Blog: The Techie Part’, this is where you get to grips with the back end of your blogging platform. As a blogger, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the intricacies and nuances of whichever platform you choose to run your blog from.
The admin panel, or back end of your website, is where the magic happens. Most interfaces are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) so you get a good idea of what your post will look like as you go along. You should also be able to preview your posts before publishing to double check formatting and layout.
It’s definitely worth familiarising yourself with your platform’s back end well before you go live with your blog. In fact, online tutorials are a great place to start:
Now comes the juicy bit!
With all the prep done and dusted, it’s time to get some words down. Remember your purpose, do your research, check your sources (and your spelling, punctuation, and grammar), establish your tone of voice and writing style, and off you go. That’s how to start a blog.
Or is it?
Now that you’ve arrived at the point of writing, how do you actually get going? What’s the best way to start a blog?
Do you go straight into writing about your topic?
You might be interested in reading our Tips to Jump-Start your Content Marketing.
Whatever approach you choose to take, don’t just launch into writing straight away. When thinking about how to start a blog, have a plan. Map out your ideas and posts in advance using an editorial calendar. Devise a sequence of blog posts that build up progressively over a number of weeks. Intersperse topical content with more personal features about the brand and the people (or person) behind it all. Keep it varied. Keep it simple.
Pictures Tell a Thousand Words
Words are great. Keywords are important. But pictures, they’re a different story altogether. They’ll catch the eye before your words do. So it’s advisable to use images, graphic, GIFs and videos in your blog posts too.
The header images you choose for each blog post the first thing people see when they arrive at your blog. Not only this, but they also become the preview images for your blog posts when shared on social media. In short, a striking header image or graphic could make a huge difference to the CTR (see our comprehensive guide to marketing terms).
Bookmark our list of free image sites as a one-stop shop for all your blog’s image needs. Or browse our guide on social media video for free video resources and inspiration on how to start a blog that incorporates moving images.
Of course, you may wish to get a little fancy with your images, branding them or using text overlays. If you’re not keen on Photoshop (using or paying for it) then there are a few free tools you can use to edit your images. For example, Canva, Pixlr, GIMP, and Pikwizard.
Once you’ve broken up your text with relevant images, GIFs, and videos you’re ready.
It’s Time to Publish Your Blog
You made it! You’ve gone through the whole process of how to start a blog. Everything is now in place to hit the publish button. This, of course, can be done manually every time you write a new piece. Or, you can use your platform’s tools to schedule your blogs to go live at a predefined date and time.
This is useful when writing up pieces in advance, as per your editorial calendar. In fact, before you publish your first blog it’s sensible to have several articles already in the bank and scheduled. This gives you a bit of leeway and allows you time to build a pipeline of content for your blog. Always remember that consistency and regularity are key to successful blogging.
When it comes to publishing and scheduling your blog posts, don’t over think it. People can quickly get bogged down with questions like, ‘when is the best day to publish a blog’ or ‘what is the best time to publish a blog’. The answer to both those questions is simple. Now is the best time.
Don’t hang about. Get your writing out there and start promoting it across all your social media channels.
What to Expect Once You’ve Started a Blog
Now you’ve started your blog there are a few things you need to be aware of. Namely, spammy comments.
Having a comments section on your blog is a great way to encourage feedback and spark engagement. However, there are endless bots out there on the hunt for new websites to spam. Sooner or later, you’ll find some weird and random comments appearing on your blog. Most platforms have filters you can set up to prevent these publishing automatically, allowing you to approve comments before they go live. There are even plugins that will sift through comments and mark unwanted ones as spam so you only have to moderate legitimate comments.
Alternatively, you could remove the comments feature on your blog, but that effectively closes the door to conversations and discussions on your posts, so you might want to think twice about it.
If you’ve set up your blog as a business in order to make money it’s important to make sure that your site is GDPR compliant and that you fully disclose when posts are sponsored or paid for by third-parties looking to gain exposure by featuring on your blog.
This, of course, is a completely different kettle of fish if you’re an established business looking at how to start a blog to provide customers and prospects with information about your business or your sector. Like our very own Social INK blog, for example.
Blogging for business and blogging as a business are two very different beasts. Consequently, it’s a very important distinction to make.
How to Start a Blog: Related Reading
All things considered, although starting a blog takes time, once you get into the swing of things, the blogging process and site maintenance should get easier. Remember, starting is just the beginning. You’re in it for the long term. So don’t expect amazing short-term results. Keep at it regularly and consistently. And perhaps consider some of the related reading below to help you on your blogging journey:
- A Bad Plan Is Better Than No Plan
- Frustration Kills Good Ideas
- How To Build Trust With Content Marketing
- Productivity Apps
- Efficiency In Automation
- Optimising Video Content
- Social Media Profile Do’s and Don’ts
- Data Protection
- Why B2C Websites Should Have a Blog
- WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist
- 7 Things to Do After You Publish A Blog Post