How to Start a Blog in 2020: The Ultimate Guide
Last updated December 2019
The equivalent of the Complete Works of Shakespeare is published every 11 seconds online as blog content. Current stats suggest that over 2 billion blog posts are published every year. Now, that’s a lot of content. In fact, it equates to about 4000 blog posts per minute. If you then consider the average blog post is 1236 words long, this means that approximately 5 million words are published every minute. Still interested in how to start a blog?
You should be.
Of course, at this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no point in starting a blog just to become an insignificant drop in an endless ocean of content. If there are so many people already blogging, what’s the point in starting your own blog, right?
It’s because everyone and their uncle is blogging that you should get involved and start a blog for your business.
- Should My Website Have a Blog?
- What Are the Benefits of Starting a Business Blog?
- How to Start a Blog
- How to Pick a Blog Name
- Choose a Host
- Have You Chosen a Platform to Start Your Blog On?
- Leverage Social Media to Help Start Your Blog
- Setting Up Your Blog
- Start Writing
- Pictures Tell a Thousand Words
- It’s Time to Publish Your Blog
- What to Expect Once You’ve Started a Blog
- How to Generate Blog Ideas
- What Happens After You Publish a Blog Post?
- Beyond Blogging (Or Reverse Repurposing)
- How to Start a Blog: Related Reading
It’s important to realise that you’re not competing against the 2 billion blog posts published each year. You’re only up against those in your niche. And even then, competition with other blogs is largely irrelevant. Because blogging is more about you and your business than anything else.
On the whole, blogs are great for SEO. Having a blog is also a fundamental element of an effective content marketing strategy. Overall, however, maintaining a regular blog for your business is essential for informing and educating your customers. And that’s the most important consideration.
A blog is not about you (even though it typically is about you). It’s about providing value to prospective and existing customers. Sharing insight. Helping them out. Giving without expecting to receive. Building trust, authority, and brand recognition.
Given these points, this ultimate 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’.
Let’s explore how to start a blog… From the beginning.
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?
A blog can perform multiple functions. However, in essence, your blog is like having a brick and mortar shop: it’s your internet real estate. This is where YOU make the rules.
You don’t have to wait for a feature to be launched by LinkedIn. You don’t have to worry about Facebook algorithm changes. There’s no interruption to service if Instagram decides to shut down. (Note: Instagram is not shutting down. But what about Myspace, Digg, and Vine? Social media evolves, and only the fittest for purpose survive.)
There’s nothing wrong with starting lean, keeping it simple, and testing if an idea works. But if you’re seriously in business, and serious about digital marketing, you need a blog.
Certainly, blogging today looks pretty different from blogging 20 years ago. But at its core, it’s the same. And with every core update to Google, good content becomes even more important.
Blogging is essential for ranking in search engines. It shows off your expertise to build trust. More importantly, you can promote your message, brand values, and more, 24/7.
So, should your website have a blog?
Well, the stats certainly think so:
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0-4 monthly posts. – Hubspot
- On average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without. – DemandMetric
- 70-80% of search engine users only focus on organic results. They skip right past the ads. – MarTech
Before we look at how to start a blog it’s important to understand how a blog could work for your business. The stats above sound great, but what do they actually mean in real terms? How does a blog actually benefit your business?
Knowing how a blog will directly impact your business is crucial before you decide to go ahead and start blogging. After all, there has to be a reason and a method behind your blogging efforts if you’re to reap the rewards.
To help you better understand how to start a blog that really impacts your business, we’ve outlined the top five benefits of a business blog below:
1. Business Blogs and SEO
Like it or loathe it, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is important to every business in the digital era. If you want your business to be discovered online, making your website search engine friendly is essential. At the heart of it, SEO is about defining which search terms (or queries) you want to be associated with your website.
“Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages”
Essentially, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What keywords do they tend to use when looking for businesses like yours on Google? A bit of keyword and competitor research should help you establish a comprehensive list of phrases used in searches within your sector or industry.
Once you have this list of search terms you’d like your website to rank for on Google, you’ve got to create and optimise content for these keywords. This increases the chances of someone clicking through to your site when they’re most in need of information about the products or services you offer.
Starting a blog is a great way to develop interesting and useful keyword-optimised content. That is to say, content that doesn’t seem out of place or forced. Doing so helps increase your domain authority and page ranking on Google. The more valuable content you have on your site, the better the chances of being discovered. The more often you’re discovered the more likely your website is to rise up the search rankings. Which means you’ll continue being discovered. It’s an ongoing virtuous cycle. More importantly, it increases your chances of being found by prospects or potential customers. Specifically, those with intent.
In short, a blog is your ticket to discovery.
2. Blogs Help Fuel Social Media
Ever found yourself stuck for something to post on your social media channels? A blog will fix that problem.
Having an active social media presence is fundamental to successful digital marketing. And with good reason. 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online.
More significantly, 50% of shoppers have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social media network. (source)
Social media is an excellent resource for businesses looking to boost brand awareness, engage with consumers, and create carefully targeted ad campaigns.
Consequently, maintaining a regular business blog helps to feed your social media and provide both a talking point with your followers and an entry point to your website. Indeed, a blog provides you with ready-made social media content. As a result, it makes the time-consuming task of preparing posts to populate your social profiles so much easier.
“95.9% of bloggers promote their blog posts via social media”
Repurposing content is an efficient way of getting the most out of your content marketing efforts. Having a blog gives you this option. Particularly, it allows you to share and promote your insight and messaging across multiple channels. One blog can become multiple pieces of content to be pushed out across your various profiles.
Moreover, social media also helps with SEO. Ultimately, it all comes back to that unifying factor: your blog.
3. Blogging Drives Website Traffic
If you cast one line with only one hook, how many fish do you reckon you’ll catch in comparison to the person who casts a net of interwoven lines?
The same applies to blogging. When thinking about how to start a blog it’s important to realise that sporadically writing the odd post is the same as casting a single fishing line into the ocean. You might get a bite. But you’ll likely be waiting around for a long time.
However, if you write lots of blog posts, regularly, you increase your chances. Moreover, if you interweave your posts with internal links to other relevant articles you’ve written, you increase the likelihood of retaining people who visit your site for longer, as they move from one piece of insightful content to another.
When done correctly, a properly optimised and inter-linked blog will boost your website traffic.
“Small businesses that blog see 126% more lead growth than the businesses that don’t”
Using relevant internal links throughout your blog articles ultimately helps to reduce bounce rate (see our glossary of essential marketing terms). In short, when looking at how to start a blog, you should also consider how you link your posts. The aim should be to do so in a way that provides visitors with a chain of content full of valuable and relevant insight.
Attract interest. And retain it.
4. Establish Your Expertise on Your Blog
The best way to attract and retain interest is to add value. One of the best reasons to start a blog is it’s your chance to show off what you know. Share your industry insight and knowledge. Establish yourself as a reputable and trustworthy source of information. Become the ‘go-to’ hub of education and information for your target audience. In other words, use your blog as a way for visitors to your site to get to know you and trust you.
Your blog is an opportunity to provide deeper explanations to Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a platform where you can show you understand your audience’s needs. With this in mind, use it as a source of free information to help visitors to your website understand your brand, your offering, and how your business solves whatever problems they may have.
“60% of consumers feel engaged/positive with a brand or company after reading custom content on their blog”
If people start coming to your blog for advice and information, they’re more likely to return and remember your brand when they’re ready to buy.
5. Your Blog is Your Voice
When people’s first action when they need something is to ‘Google it’ having a blog is the best way to get your voice heard. Even if you have offices, a shop, even a telephone number, consumers’ first interactions with your brand and increasingly likely to be done via a Google search and a browse of your website.
“70% of consumers stop to learn about a company through an article rather than ads”
One of the main reasons you should start a blog is to add a bit of personality and character to your site. That’s not to say you can’t have a clear tone of voice across your main site pages. But a blog gives you a chance to really develop that brand personality. It’s conversational, so it should reflect the way you speak. That way, when people finally meet you in person or speak to you on the phone, they already know what to expect.
In fact, by this point, they’ve probably already made up their minds to buy from you. The phone call, the meeting, the shop visit; these are effectively final ‘in-person’ checks just to be sure. So, matching the tone of voice in your blog and on your site to your personality and the way you actually talk, is essential. You don’t want to throw people off at the last hurdle.
If nothing else, it’s always important to remember that consumers are humans. Whether they’re individual customers or company representatives (think B2B blogging) they are still people. Whatever you do with your blog, make sure you humanise the content. Speak to the human reading it. Dare to be entertaining as well as informative.
“57% of marketers say they’ve gained customers specifically through blogging”
Now that we’ve established the clear merits of having a blog, it’s time to move on to the nitty-gritty of how to start a blog. What follows is a step-by-step breakdown of the process of starting a blog from scratch, and the important things to consider at every stage. After all, you want to get it right from the start. Otherwise, it can be a bit of a pain to go back and fix things.
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.
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 (see above) — 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 (using it as a new income stream), then you have to think of it as a separate 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 also shows visitors to your site that you’re serious enough about your blog to spend money on registering its own domain. And if you take your blog seriously, they will too. (Unless it’s for fun. Then anything goes.)
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.
Likewise, it’s important to 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.
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.
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, as mentioned above, 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 you’re 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.
Need help with your social media audit? Check out our quick and easy Social Media Audit Guide and Free Template.
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. Essentially, 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.
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 as a quick start guide. Alternatively, we’ve shared loads of really useful tips and tools for generating targeted and effective blog ideas below.
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.
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 are the first thing people see when they arrive at your blog. Not only this, but they can 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.
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 overthink 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.
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 sector. Like our very own Social INK blog, for example.
Blogging for business and blogging as a business are two very different beasts. For this reason, it’s a very important distinction to make.
So, you know your business needs a blog. And now you know how to start a blog. But starting is just the beginning (in a manner of speaking). The key to a successful blog is maintaining it. And you can’t sustain your writing if you have no idea what to write about. Therefore, generating a whole host of ideas for blog topics is equally as important as setting up and starting your blog.
However, there’s a caveat.
Your ideas need to be relevant to your business and your blog’s purpose. They also need to form an integral part of your content marketing funnel in order to be truly effective.
How do you generate effective blog ideas then?
Give the People What They Want
In other words, research what people are looking for. What do your customers want to read? What information are they searching for? Where do their interests lie?
Of course, there are a number of methods you can use to find out what people are looking for (both paid and free). However, keyword research should be your main focus. Choosing the right keywords helps you define relevant blog topics based on what people are looking into. You can then work these into an effective content marketing funnel.
If you’re at a loss at how to start keyword research for your blog, there are some great free tools you can use. Neil Patel’s free Ubersuggest keyword research tool and Answer The Public are both very user-friendly interfaces and the perfect starting point for keyword research. Alternatively, you can use the People Also Ask section of a Google search to get a sense of the alternative search terms being used for a particular keyword.
Then again, you could do some primary research of your own and canvas your current clients/customers/followers. Simply send them an email or create a social media poll asking them what they’d like more information about. Then give them exactly what they want.
Finally, take a good look at your calendar. What’s coming up? Is there an opportunity to piggyback on a national holiday or awareness day?
Check out our free social media calendar for 12 months of pre-researched topic ideas.
Here’s an Idea: Repurpose Existing Content
That’s right. Take something you’ve already created and turn it into a blog.
Videos, podcasts, social media posts, email newsletters, presentations; these can all be transformed into blogs. Just because you said it once doesn’t mean it’s not worth saying again, in a slightly different way or in a different format. And anyway, it’s always worth revisiting some of the old stuff and updating it as things change.
Here’s how to repurpose content effectively.
Join in the Conversation
What’s everyone talking about? What’s the latest industry buzz? Do you have an opinion or perspective to add into the mix?
Blogs are conversational. So it makes sense to use them as a mouthpiece for your brand. Show that you’re up to date with the latest movements within your sector. Use whatever topics of conversation or chat doing the social media rounds to inspire your next blog. Then leverage the relevant hashtags to get your point of view in front of those searching for it.
What Are You Up To?
When it comes to repurposing content, a point often overlooked is maximising the opportunities for content creation that are your business activities. Don’t just tell people what you’re up to on social media. Give them the real details in a blog post.
For example, if you’re attending an event here are just some of the possible blog ideas you could publish before, during, and after:
- We’re attending [Event name]!
- Q&A with CEO/Team Member Attending the Event
- Highlights from [Event]: Live Replay
- 5 Trends from [Event]
Essentially, you want to make the most of everything you do. If you’re out and about, use your blog and social media to build the buzz. Who knows, it may even prime some leads and generate engagement amongst attendees at the event.
So, we’ve covered everything you need to know when it comes to how to start a blog. But what comes next? You know, after you hit the publish button. Is that it?
Not by a long shot.
After publishing your blog there are still many things to do. Especially if you’re to maximise the effectiveness and impact of all your hard blogging work. More specifically, increasing traffic, getting backlinks, engaging and building an audience, and understanding its role in your overall content strategy.
Want to know how to get the most out of every blog post? These are the 7 Things to Do After You Publish A Blog Post.
Of course, there are alternative ways to blog that you might want to explore in order to increase your reach and audience. Remember that fishing analogy earlier? Here’s how you widen the net.
Reverse repurposing? Yep. To wrap up this ultimate guide on how to start a blog, we’re flipping the whole thing on its head.
Once you’ve established your blog, think about moving beyond long-form written content. Take your blogs and repurpose them. Because every blog has the potential to become so much more: emails, social media posts, presentations, and video content.
That’s right. Blogs feed, as well as feed off, the rest of your content marketing activities. Always aim to rework what you’ve already done. Make sure you keep your message consistent across all channels. It’s efficient content creation. But, more importantly, it’s effective content creation.
Now, go forth and blog!
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
Overwhelmed? Book a free consultation. Let’s get your blog up and running together.