Starting a blog is easy if you just want to have a hobby, but if you’re thinking about blogging as a business, you’ll need to be strategic about how you set your blog up for success. This step-by-step guide will take you through how to start a blog and grow it into a source of traffic and income. While our guide is meant for those who haven’t started a business yet, it’s also relevant for any existing businesses that want to get into the blogging game.
What is a blog?
A blog is a website consisting of content, usually focused on a specific topic, that you regularly update. Unlike news outlets and other publications, blogs tend to take on a personal tone, which helps them connect more deeply with their audiences.
How to start a blog
Starting a blog comes down to the following steps: finding a way to make money, picking a niche, choosing a blogging platform and template, choosing a blog and domain name, planning your publishing strategy, and getting people to read your blog consistently.
Find a way for your blog to make money
The hardest part about blogging is finding the time and ideas you’ll need to do it consistently. Getting started, however, is fairly straightforward. If you’re wondering why we’re starting our guide for how to start a blog with the topic of monetization, it’s because you need to think more like an entrepreneur than just a blogger in order to make this a profitable venture. A solid monetization strategy comes before your first blog post because it determines what types of content you publish and how you grow long term.
There are many ways to monetize your own blog, depending on the kind of blog you decide to start. For example, pairing a blog with a product or service creates a sustainable way to grow for little cost other than time and energy. Many people think using something like Google AdSense is the only way to start making money blogging. But while ads can help generate income, they require large amounts of traffic before they become economically viable. Thankfully, there are tons of other ways to start a blog and monetize it quickly, without the need to have a massive audience. Here are six ways to monetize:
- Sell your own products: Create and sell your own products or services that align with your blog’s niche.
- Affiliate marketing: Promote products or services from other companies and earn a commission for every sale made through your referral.
- Online courses: Share your expertise by creating and selling online courses related to your blog’s niche.
- Physical products: Sell physical products that align with your blog’s brand and message.
- Consulting, coaching, and speaking engagements: Offer your services as a consultant, coach, or speaker within your niche.
- Subscriptions: Offer exclusive content or access to your blog through paid subscriptions.
Pick a niche for your blog: What’s your “thing” going to be?
There’s no shortage of content on the web. It may seem hard to stand out, but there are two ways you can compete: by choosing a specific niche to focus on and by creating content that has something about it that readers can’t easily find elsewhere.
It’s important to choose a niche that is an inch wide but a mile deep. This will ensure you can consistently create content without running out of ideas, and influence your blog name (which we’ll cover later). You’ll also need to ensure that your chosen niche attracts an audience that aligns with your blog monetization strategy. What products or services would this audience be interested in buying?
Choose a blogging platform and template
Before writing your first blog post, you’ll need to set up your blog hosting and content management system. The choice usually boils down either to a self-hosted or hosted blogging platform:
- Self-hosted platforms: These platforms give you more control over your blog’s design and functionality, but require more technical skills to set up and maintain. Popular self-hosted platforms include WordPress.org and Drupal.
- Hosted platforms: These platforms are easier to set up and maintain, but have more limitations when it comes to customization. Popular hosted platforms include WordPress.com, Blogger, and Shopify.
When choosing a platform, you will want to pick one that:
- Is user-friendly and easy to navigate
- Provides the design and customization options you need
- Allows you to easily integrate with monetization tools and other plugins or apps
- Offers good customer support
Some popular blogging platforms include WordPress, Blogger, and Shopify.
Choose a blog and domain name
Shopping for a domain name is a good time to think about what you’re going to call your website. Unless you’re trying to build a personal blog or a portfolio site, I would recommend against using your name as your custom domain. You can still be the face of the blog, even if your personal name isn’t in the URL, and it’s a lot easier to build a sticky brand when you come up with a creative name that reflects your message.
When choosing a domain name, aim to make it:
- Descriptive of your blog’s content or niche
- Easy to spell and pronounce
- Unique and not easily confused with other established blogs or websites
You can register a domain name through a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap, or you can register a domain name directly through your blogging platform. Some platforms, like Shopify, even offer a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan.
Plan your publishing strategy
Next, you’ll want to create a content calendar to help you plan out your blog posts and stay organized. Your content calendar should include:
- A schedule for when you’ll publish new posts
- Topic ideas for each post
- Keywords you want to target for each post
- Any additional resources, images, or research you’ll need for each post
You can use a simple spreadsheet or a project management tool like Trello or Asana to create and manage your content calendar. The key is to have a system in place that helps you stay organized and consistent with your publishing schedule.
Get people to read your blog consistently
Once you’ve set up your blog and started publishing content, the next step is to get people to actually read your blog on a consistent basis. This can be challenging, especially in the early stages when you don’t have a large following or much exposure.
There are several strategies you can use to promote your blog and attract readers:
- Use social media: Share your blog posts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach a wider audience.
- Guest blogging: Write guest posts for other blogs in your niche to tap into their existing audience.
- SEO optimization: Optimize your blog posts for search engines by using relevant keywords and meta tags.
- Email marketing: Build an email list and send regular updates and newsletters to your subscribers.
- Collaborate with influencers: Partner with influencers in your niche to promote your blog and reach their followers.
Remember, growing an audience takes time and effort. Be patient and consistent with your promotion strategies, and you’ll gradually start to see more readers visiting your blog.
Starting a blog and turning it into a successful and profitable business requires careful planning and strategy. By monetizing your blog from the start and choosing a specific niche, you can set yourself up for long-term success. With the right blogging platform, content calendar, and promotion strategies, you can attract a loyal audience and grow your blog into a valuable asset. So, what are you waiting for? Start your blogging journey today and build the business of your dreams.