How to start a successful blog (The ultimate step-by-step guide for beginners)
I decided to launch my blog at 21 and it was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Many people thing that the market is saturated or that there isn’t scope anymore and that is far from the truth.
Starting a blog and making money is as possible for you as anybody else. Today is about helping you take the first step so that you can get started the right way without spending a ton on tools you don’t need.
This step by step guide is going to teach you how to launch a successful blog with the right tools so that you can save yourself both time and money.
It’s for anyone who loves the idea of making money online but is overwhelmed with the information out there and has no idea what to blog about or where to start.
If you’re not yet sure about whether you want to start a blog, read: 12 reasons why you need to start your blogging journey today and get started, gurl!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.
Step 1: What and how?
What are you going to be blogging about?
This is where the majority of the newbie bloggers spend hours and hours and hours and hours and (you get the idea). This is often because there is so much advice out there on choosing the “perfect niche” i.e. the most “profitable niche”.
Let’s break the myth for once and for all: You can make money in any blogging niche as long as you stay committed to it and are willing to learn.
No one can tell you what the perfect niche is and which one you should choose. Only you can decide that for yourself.
You must choose a niche you enjoy or are passionate about because blogging success is long term. You have to keep coming up with and creating new content and if you aren’t into your niche, it’s just going to feel like a chore.
So choose a topic that you’re interested in and narrow it down to 3-4 sub-niches. Write content around those sub-niches and see what your audience responds to.
Remember: The more you niche down, the more loyal your subscribers would be.
For eg: if your niche is health and fitness, your sub-niche can be yoga, keto diet, etc. If your niche is travel, your sub-niche can be solo travel for women, traveling as a family with kids, luxury travel, etc.
Examples of a few blog niches you can explore are:
5. Personal Finance
8. Health and Fitness
9. Personal development
How are you going to monetize your blog?
This is not something you need to worry about at this stage but it certainly helps to have an idea of which monetization method you would want to focus on first. Different methods including ad revenue, affiliate marketing, selling own products, sponsorship, freelance writing, etc. Pick any one method and experiment with it before moving on to another.
Step 2: Domain name.
Picking a good domain name is important but not nearly as important as you think.
The process is fun and creative yet so many newbie bloggers get stuck trying to pick a perfect name.
Here’s how to pick the perfect domain name for your blog:
1. Always use a .com domain over .co or any other.
2. Select a name that is easy to spell and easy to remember.
3. Pick a name that conveys what your blog is about.
4. Select a few words related to your niche, mix in a few adjectives, maybe include your own name if you’d like and play around with it.
It may take quite a few tries to find one you’d like but keep going!
Step 3: Blogging platform
Now that you know your blog’s what and how is, where are you going to blog?
In order to create a profitable blog, it is important to get started the right way and I want you to have the best tools.
There are a few free blogging platforms out there like Blogger, Wix, and wordpress.com. They are great if you want to blog as a hobby.
However, if you want to create a money-making blog, WordPress.org is the way to go!
The number one why I would not recommend any free platforms out there is because you do not own your own domain name.
If you were to start with Blogger, for example, your domain name would look like this: yourblogname.blogspot.com.
A domain like that makes you look like a “hobby-blogger” and will affect your credibility to get brands to work with you. This also means that you don’t own your blog i.e. your access to the blog can be shut down at any time.
When you intend to create and run a monetized blog that can essentially replace your full-time income right now, free platforms just won’t do it.
In addition to that, there are a few other reasons like limited customizations, additional fees for accommodating blog traffic, and so on.
Also, if starting a successful blog for free was that easy, competition would be sky high!
You can start with a free platform first and then switch to WordPress.com if you prefer. That is what many newbie bloggers do because they’re afraid that they might not end up making any money from their blog.
It’s common to think that way and freak out when you’re starting something new but the reason they all switch is because they know it’s not where the money is.
The other limitations are that you may end up paying a few additional costs on your “free platform” to keep your blog up and running.
For example, if one of your blog posts gets a huge influx of traffic, the free site may not be able to handle the number of visitors. To get it up and running again, you would have to upgrade i.e. pay an extra fee to accommodate that much traffic and this fee would keep increasing as traffic increases.
This is not the case with WordPress.org where you own your domain name (www.yourblogname.com), can customize your website as you want, choose and use amazing WordPress plugins, run out own ads, create an online store, and so much more!
The only time I would recommend a free platform is when you aren’t sure you enjoy blogging and just want to test the waters. Once you’re sure, WordPress.org is the way to go!
Step 4: Hosting
If you’re on a super tight budget (I feel you girl) and can only invest one on a thing, it should be hosting.
Choosing the right hosting is going to save your many many many hours of frustration in the future.
The only hosting I recommend to everyone including newbie bloggers is BlueHost (I researched several hosting providers like GoDaddy, SiteGround, HostGator and so on and BlueHost is the best so far).
Not only is it incredibly affordable but you also get a free domain, free SSL certificate among other things and the customer support team is incredible.
Bluehost has various 3 plans i.e. basic, plus, and choice plus but you only really need the basic one. You can also choose the duration of your plan – 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months.
I recommend the 36-month plan because it provides the best value for money and you can get started for just $3.95 per month. The 12-month plan is perfectly alright too and you can cancel risk-free for 30 days and get a full refund for all plans.
You can use this link to get 33% off the 12-month plan, 41% off the 24-month plan, and 50% off the 36-month plan
If you decide to purchase hosting using my affiliate link here, I have a bonus for you! You get access to my ‘Launch your blog successfully in 30 days’ that outlines detailed steps you can take each day to launch your bog and start driving traffic in only 30 days. It is perfect for those who work full time and want to start a blog but only have a little time to spare.
Just send me the receipt at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your 12 month blogging plan after you’ve purchased your hosting here!
The 36-month plan forces you to commit to your blog and go all in. You do have to pay the money upfront but it’s a small price for the money you’re going to be making blogging.
If you’re all in for blogging, go for this one. With the 100% money back guarantee, the risk is taken off your shoulders.
Getting started with Bluehost is easy. Here’s how you can do it step by step in 10 minutes or less!
First go to Bluehost.com and click on get started.
Next, select the plan that suits your needs the best. The basic plan is perfect and what I recommend as you really don’t need anything more than that.
After selecting your plan, you’ll be asked to enter your domain name as decided in Step 2. If you haven’t done so already, you have an option to skip this for now and come back to it later:
The last step is to fill in your account information:
Scroll down to select your package. I recommend the 36-month package as it has the best value for money. Make sure to uncheck any package extras because you don’t need any of them.
Quick, easy, reliable, and efficient!
Step 5: Setting up your WordPress
Once you hit submit in the above step, you will be able to create a password for your account so you can log in and select a theme!
You can always go back and change your theme. Once you select a theme, your account automatically connects to the latest version of WordPress in just a few minutes!
Step 6: Understanding and navigating WordPress:
Understanding how to navigate through WordPress is essential to your blogging success.
It is easy to use and you’ll only be working with the basic features in the beginning. We’re going to look into a little more detail at posts, pages, and plugins since that is what you’ll be starting out with.
This is where you will be adding your blog posts. You can view all your blog posts and create new ones here.
Your blog posts will always be organized using categories on your blog. For e.g on Girl Meets The World, the categories are :
1. Self-love and growth
2. Money Matters.
It’s totally up to you to decide how many categories you want to have.
Pro tip: Create your categories first before moving on to writing your posts so you can organize them from the very beginning.
Select Add New to create a new post and this is what your screen should look like:
You can add your title and click on the + sign to add blocks where you can start typing out your content, adding media, etc.
You have the options to save your post, preview it on your blog and publish it on the top right. You can also schedule your blog posts to go live immediately or at a predetermined time and date.
Pages are used on blogs for providing informative content that doesn’t update as much. Examples include your About me page, Contact page, and Disclaimer page, etc.
Similar to your blog posts, you can view all your pages and add new ones here. Pages are edited the same way as your blog posts.
Pro tip: When you start out, there are 2 pages that you definitely should create: Contact Page and About me.
They are here to make your life easier. In simple words, plugins are bits of software that allow you to add some features to your blog.
WordPress has over 50,000 plugins for you to choose from but don’t get carried away! You only need a few and those are the only ones that should be installed as some of that can slow down your site.
You can add new plugins by selecting “add new” from the plugin area and searching using the search bar on the top right:
Here are the 5 plugins I recommend you start off with:
1. Yoast SEO
2. Google Analytics
3. Akismet Anti Spam
4. Contact form 7
5. Wordfence security
WordPress has a number of other tools like a media library which I recommend you explore. As you start using it more and more, you’ll get a hang of all the important functionalities you could possibly need.
Step 7: Choose a theme
This is the fun and creative part. WordPress has numerous free themes you can use to customize your websites.
But nothing in this world is truly free, is it?
The free themes aren’t as customizable as your paid ones. Its capabilities and ease of you are not as effective as that of a paid theme.
There are thousands and thousands of themes that you choose from. If you are on a tight budget and are really just testing waters, choose a free theme and see how you like it!
But sooner or later, you will have to switch to a theme that is more customizable and efficient and you’ll only be able to find that in a paid theme.
You can also start out with a paid theme from Etsy. They have amazing affordable options and I have found that they are quick to respond to queries.
However, the best theme for beginners that is super customizable is Divi.
The best part is that they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you try it out and find out that it’s not for you, that’s absolutely cool! You’ll get a complete refund in the first 30 days, no questions asked.
Moreover, if you don’t end up loving Divi, Elegant Theme has other themes you can test out.
The key here is to not get hung up on a theme. Yes, the website should look professional and amazing but don’t spend more than an hour picking a theme.
Just pick the one you like, customize it as you like, and get started with blogging.
Step 8: Write your first blog post
You’re ready to start, gurl!!
You know how to create a blog post in WordPress from step 6. But what are you going to write about?
The first option is that you can write a short bio about you and why you started this blog.
This is what most newbie bloggers do to let the audience know who they are. I find this option to be the best for those who are certified in their niche.
For eg: If you are a certified life coach, this blog post is going to tell your audience that you know what you’re talking about and why they should stick along.
However, this is not the case for most newbie bloggers which is perfectly alright.
My favorite way to get started and the one I recommend is to start writing about topics in your niche.
It’s important to remember the 80/20 rule here.
80% of your content should be about and for your audience and 20% for you. So many bloggers don’t end up making any money because their content is not focused on their audience but themselves.
So how do you decide what topic to write about first? The secret tool here is Pinterest.
Pinterest is more than just a social media tool. It’s excellent for driving traffic to your blog and researching what content the audience is looking for!
Let’s say your niche is traveling. When you type “TRAVELING” in the Pinterest search bar, you get a list of recommendations. These topics are the ones people are searching for the most: