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There are some seriously great reasons to start a blog.
For one thing, blogging is a great way to express yourself creatively.
It’s also a chance to use your expertise and knowledge to help your readers.
And of course, blogging has become a legit way to make an income online these days.
Over 2 million blog posts are published every day and there are bloggers out there banking six- and seven-figure incomes a year.
And maybe you want to be one of them.
But there’s just one problem.
You’ve got no clue how to get started with blogging.
My Start a Blog Story
Listen, I know how real the blogging struggle can get.
In March 2018, I sat down at my computer to start a blog.
Two hours later, I was in tears.
To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. It just seemed like there was so much to do.
So I did the obvious thing: I completely froze.
After a few hours spent gnashing my teeth in frustration, I was finally able to tackle the basics and get my blog up and running.
And if you want to pursue blogging, I don’t want you to end up ugly crying into your laptop the first day like I did.
That’s why I wrote this tutorial. It walks you through everything you need to know to become a blogger.
(And if you’re feeling confident enough to start a blog without reading this guide, you can go ahead and sign up for hosting with Siteground starting at just $3.95/month. They are seriously the best host around!)
How to Start a Blog as a Total Beginner
1. Lay Your Blogging Foundation
The foundation of your blog is like the foundation of a house. You can’t build anything on it if it’s not rock-solid.
Before you start a blog, there’s some groundwork you have to do first.
Don’t worry, there’s no techie stuff to deal with at this stage. That comes later.
Right now, I want you to think about the Five W’s.
What are the Five W’s?
In journalism and writing in general, the Five W’s are the basic questions you ask to shape a story: Who, What, Why, When and Where.
So what does that have to do with starting a blog? The short answer is everything.
From day one, you need to know:
WHO you’re writing for
Knowing who your target audience is critical when starting a new blog.
You need to know exactly who your ideal reader is so you can create the kind of content (and later, products and services) they want and need the most.
WHY you want to start a blog
If your answer is “to make money” let me stop you right there. You can absolutely make money blogging but if you’re doing it only to make money, you will fail.
Because blogging has to be something you truly love to do.
If you want to start a blog, do it because there’s a topic you’re passionate about that you could write about all day long, even if you never make a dime.
WHAT problem you’re solving for your readers
When people visit a blog, it’s usually because they’re looking for solutions to a problem they’re having.
Maybe they need help with budgeting or they can’t get their baby on a regular sleep schedule. Whatever that problem is, your blog needs to help them solve it.
WHEN you’re going to work on your blog
This one is huge.
Before you start a blog, really look at your daily schedule. Figure out how much time you can dedicate to blogging and when you can do it.
WHERE you see your blogging self down the road
You wouldn’t go on a cross-country trip without your GPS and you shouldn’t start a blog without knowing where you want to end up.
Maybe you want to be an influencer pulling in a seven-figure income from your blog in 5 years.
Or, maybe you just want to be able to make enough money from your blog so you can quit your soul-sucking day job eventually.
And maybe you just want to blog because you love it and want to connect with people you can help.
Whatever your blogging goals are, visualize each detail in your head. When you can see it clearly, you can shape a plan for getting there.
2. Know Your Ideal Blog Niche
If you’ve covered the Five W’s, you might already know what niche you want to start a blog in.
But if you’re asking yourself what a niche is, let me explain.
A niche is the section of the enormous blogging landscape that you carve out for yourself. Your niche reflects the audience you’re writing to and what you’re writing about.
Some of the most popular niches include:
- Personal Finance
- Health and fitness
- Blogging and working online
- Wedding planning
- Beauty and fashion
Now, these are super broad niches and they can be broken down into hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller niches.
In the parenting niche, for example, you might find blogs about raising free-range kids, homeschooling, kids’ crafts, adoption or taking care of kids with special needs.
In the finance niche, there are blogs that focus on getting out of debt, investing and financial minimalism.
But why do you need a niche?
Your niche is what allows you to stand out from all the other blogs that are competing for your ideal reader’s attention. It’s what keeps them coming back again and again for fresh content.
If you’ve got no clue what niche you want to write about, these questions can help you narrow it down:
1. What do you love?
Your niche should be something that you love to write about and something that you’re excited to share with other people. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert on the subject (although that doesn’t hurt.)
Enthusiasm can outweigh expertise in the beginning and if you research and write about something often enough, you eventually become an expert.
So, think about what you really love and write about that.
2. How is your niche unique?
One of the most frustrating things about starting a blog is feeling like everyone else is already doing what you want to do.
You get a great idea for a finance blog or a productivity blog and then you start looking on Google and find a dozen people who are already blogging about that topic.
The key is to figure out what sets you apart from everybody else.
Do you have a unique back story that makes you an expert on this particular topic?
Or have you gone against the grain and taken a different approach on a common topic?
You need to figure out what makes your niche special.
3. Is it something people want to learn about?
All blogs need an audience but not every niche gets the same amount of attention.
Those popular niches I listed earlier can pretty much count on getting a steady flow of traffic. Once you start niching down, you have to think about how many people are going to be interested in your blog topic.
Go too broad with your niche and you might get traffic but you may have a harder time connecting with your ideal reader.
Go too narrow and your traffic may end up looking anemic.
The goal is to find that sweet spot in the middle.
4. Can you monetize your niche?
I know I said earlier that if you’re going to start a blog just to make money, then you shouldn’t but of course you want to make money. So your niche has to be one that’s got potential to be profitable.
Think about your niche and ways you could make money with it.
Could you put sponsored posts or ads on your site?
Are there are affiliate programs in your niche?
Or could you develop products or services for your niche?
If you can’t think of at least one way to monetize, you may need to do some fine-tuning with your niche.
3. Think About Your Blogging Brand
Branding is something you’ll hear bloggers and marketers talk a ton about.
If you’re going to start a blog, you need to have some sense of what your brand is all about.
Your brand includes:
- Your domain name
- Blog theme
- Color scheme
- Blog images
- Voice and tone
Thinking about all of that can be overwhelming if you’re at square one with starting a blog.
For now, let’s focus on the simplest thing: your domain name.
What’s in a domain name?
A lot, actually. When you’re picking a domain name, choose one that says what your brand is all about.
Some bloggers just use their names. My name was already taken, as were about a half-dozen other names I came up with.
Boss Single Mama doesn’t completely describe what this blog is about but I chose it because I’d been thinking about names for two months and I was ready to just do the damn thing.
Don’t make picking a blog name harder than it has to be. You’ll just waste time that way.
4. Pick Your Blogging Platform and Host
This might be the easiest part of your start a blog journey so far.
When I say platform I mean the framework your blog is built on.
Three of the most popular blogging platforms are WordPress, Squarespace and Wix.
I chose WordPress for my blog because I’ve worked in it before as a freelancer. I more or less knew my way around already.
Plus, WordPress has so many plugins to choose from that can make your blog look and function better.
One thing to know if you’re going with a WordPress blog: there’s a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
A WordPress.com blog is self-hosted which means it’s free and your domain name will have WordPress.com at the end. If you’re going to blog as a business, you’ll need a WordPress.org domain.
And for that, you’ll need hosting. Technical jargon aside, blog hosting companies provide you with space on the internet to set up and run your blog.
There are lots of blog hosting companies to choose from but the one I use is Siteground.
Why I Chose Siteground to Start a Blog
There are lots of things to like about using Siteground as my blog host but to keep it short, I’ll stick with the top four benefits.
1. It’s fast and secure
There’s nothing more annoying than a slow-loading website. And then you have to worry about your blog getting taken over by hackers.
When you start a blog with Siteground, you’re getting a fast, secure site every time.
Siteground’s SuperCacher is built to handle high-volume traffic. Even if you’re only getting a few hits on your blog a day to start, Siteground is designed to keep up once your traffic starts to pick up the pace.
Siteground comes with HTTP/2 network protocol, to speed up how quickly your site loads. You’ll need to encrypt your blog to use this feature but Siteground makes it easy by offering Let’s Encrypt free SSL Certificates.
Bottom line and tech talk aside when you start a blog with Siteground you know that you’re getting a site that’s going to run efficiently.
2. Their support team is super-responsive
Starting a new blog and getting all the tech stuff set up can be a little scary at first. Siteground’s support team is all about helping smooth out the kinks.
Support is available 24/7, so you can get answers to your questions when you need them.
You can give them a call or start an online chat any time and Siteground’s expert team is always available to help.
3. Siteground minimizes your downtime risk
What is downtime, you say? In the blogging world, it’s a disaster.
Downtime means any time your site isn’t functioning. That’s the last thing you need if you’re trying to attract readers and grow your blog.
Luckily, Siteground offers 99.99% uptime, which drastically cuts down on the odds of your blog ending up in temporary limbo.
4. The hosting plans are a steal
If you’re going to start a blog, you have to be ready to spend a little money upfront on hosting and a domain.
For new bloggers that have a limited amount to invest, Siteground’s hosting plans are much more budget-friendly compared to other hosts.
(And when you use my special link, you can get started with hosting for just $3.95 a month!)
How to Start a Blog With Siteground
We’ve covered all the initial stuff you need to know to start a blog. Now it’s time to do it.
Nervous? Don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through it.
Bookmark this page in case you need to come back to it for reference later.
And if you’re ready to take the plunge and you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, you can skip ahead and start your blog with Siteground now as you read through.
Step 1: Decide which plan is right for you
There are three hosting plans you can choose from with Siteground: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek.
I’m not a tech nerd but the StartUp plan seemed a little too basic for what I needed, so I chose the GrowBig plan.
You can use the GrowBig plan for multiple websites and it’s geared towards bloggers who are still in growth mode.
The price was right at $5.95 per month and I chose to pay for one year of hosting to start.
You can get a discount if you pay for two or three years of hosting upfront.
Step 2: Plug in your domain
The great thing about starting a blog with Siteground is that you don’t have to buy your domain name separately; you can get your domain when you set up your hosting plan.
You should already have a domain name in mind and all you have to do is click “Register a New Domain” and type it into the box.
Of course, you can also start a blog with Siteground if you’ve already purchased a domain somewhere else.
Step 3: Set up your account
The next step is fairly simple. You just have to fill out your personal information, email and set up a password for your account.
Once you’ve done that, you can plug in your payment information and choose your hosting plan.
Remember, you have to pick at least a 12-month hosting plan to get the 60% discount on hosting services.
You can do a one-month trial but if you’re serious about blogging, plan to lock in hosting for at least a year.
At the very bottom, you’ll see some extra services you can add-on to your hosting package.
Domain registration is automatically included if you’re getting your domain through Siteground but the other two are optional. I purchased all three but it’s up to you if you want to get the extras.
Once you’ve filled everything out, you can scroll to the bottom to get your total. Check off the terms of service box and hit “Pay Now”.
And that’s it, you’ve just set up hosting for your blog. Pretty easy, right? Now it’s time to get your blogging platform set up.
If you’re using WordPress, installing it with Siteground is a snap.
It takes just a few minutes, but if you don’t have time, you can get a Siteground rep to set up WordPress for you.
Just click on Live Chat at the top of the page and a Siteground representative will handle all that tricky tech stuff for you and get you up and running in just a few minutes.
But, it’s also really easy to set up WordPress yourself. Here’s how.
Installing WordPress on Your SiteGround Blog
First, log in to your Siteground control panel and go the ‘My Accounts’ tab. Then, click on the red button that says Go to CPanel.
Now look for the Autoinstallers section about halfway down and click on the WordPress button.
That takes you to this page and all you need to do here is click on the Install button.
That’ll take you here. Unless you’re super-techie, there’s nothing you need to do. Just make sure your domain name is showing up and is spelled correctly.
At the bottom, you’ll enter in your blog name and a brief description of what your site is about. You can also come back and add or update this later.
Next, you need to enter your admin user name, password and email.
You can set this up any way you want but remember to pick a strong password. This is what you’ll use to log in to your WordPress dashboard and it needs to be unique so hackers can’t steal it and use it to wreak havoc on your blog.
WordPress gives you the option to install your theme here.
It’s easy to do, but I recommend waiting until after you’ve installed WordPress to pick a theme, especially if you’re considering using a paid theme versus the free ones WordPress offers. (I got my theme from Bluchic and couldn’t be happier with it.)
Just hit Install and you’re done!
Now you should be able to log in to the back end of WordPress using the user name and password you created earlier.
And if you’re not sure how to get into your site, just type in your domain name, followed by /wp-admin. That should take you to your login box.
From here, you can move on to the best part of blogging: publishing great content for your readers!
Are You Ready to Start a Blog?
Starting a blog can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be.
I hope after reading this tutorial you’re excited to get your blog up and running.
If you used this guide to start a blog, drop a link in the comments so I can check it out! And please share this guide if it helped you!