How to start a blog in 2019: Newbies guide to a professional blog
When starting an online business you might also want to learn how to start a blog. Blogging is big everywhere in the world. Starting a blog can be intimidating for most people but it can also be fulfilling and profitable for others.
Most people are convince that it a complicated process but I’m here to tell you is not.If you are passionate about writing then starting your own blog can be a good thing for you and easy thing to do.
You just have to follow a step by step process that is shared on this post and you will get your self a good blog. Blogging has changed as lot of peoples lives with in the past 20 years or so. You can look at this top bloggers for inspiration. Even here in South Africa we have our own top bloggers you can look up to.
For you to start professional blog you will need a list of blogging resources to help you in your blogging journey.
I have started two blogs already and both of them didn’t go well. But in both occasions I’ve learned tremendously and I’m willing to share my experience on how to start a blog.
Most people will tell you, the first attempt can be hard, you go through trial and error. If you are consistent you will eventually make.
My first blogging attempt came in 2012 with a blog that had over 30 articles and it was about IT, SEO, Paid Traffic and Web development. It opened my eyes in learning how to start a blog in those niches.
The second one was about crypto currency, I still blog about those topics as well, here. Those are the topics that I like most and I believe I have valuable experience in them.
Pick a niche or topic
So firstly you have to know what you would like to blog about before you can even start writing your blog posts. You should pick a niche, picking a niche is choosing what you want to blog about. Choose something you will enjoy writing about. It will help you to think things through while doing your research about the subject.
Choose a topic or the industry that you know very well that you will be able to handle and enjoy at the same time. Choosing sport while you are not a passionate sport fan will be revealed on your blog posts.
So choose a topic that will bring out your best writing skills or the burning desired to write more posts. When you are sure about your self then you can move to the steps described below.
Here’s a full article on how you should pick a profitable niche market for your blog.
There’s only a few steps to actually starting a blog:
- Choose a domain name
- Choose a hosting account/hosting package
- Install a blogging platform/WordPress
- Choose a theme and setup your blog
- Start writing posts.
1. How to choose a domain name
I’ll assume you have already decided what niche/topic you are going to stick to. When learning how to start a blog, one of the first things you need to focus on is choosing a domain name.
Can you imagine yourself having a big blog with a domain name like this your name dot wordpress dot com or blogspot dot com in it. Obviously that might not do well against your competitors in your niche. So if you want to start a successful professional blog you should follow the steps provided below.
A domain name is the title of your blog, that’s what people will remember your website name by. Choosing a domain name can be one of the confusing process for most beginners.
Why you should go for paid domain name
Is very tempting to start a blog on a free platform but there are many disadvantage of using a free hosting.
The first reason is that your domain name will have an extra dot or a very unusual extension, like yourdomainname.wordpress.com in it. You can look around the web all professional websites have only one extension like dot com or dot org.
So even though there are many blogging platforms that you can choose, I still would not advice anyone to chose them. There are may limitations when using a free blogging platform.
Most of the trusted free blogging platforms are:
If you insist to go for a free domain you should know that your blog will have this extensions like yourdomainname.blogspot.com or yourdomainname.wix.com.
One other reason is that you won’t be able to monetize your blog to your full potential if you choose a free hosting platform. Most free hosting accounts like wordpress.com don’t allow you to place ads on your site.
You wont be able to build a email list on a free hosting account. When doing online marketing you need to build a list of regular readers. Email marketing allows you to send you new articles, products or services to your subscribers. This are first people that will know about your new blog post, so it helps you send constant traffic to your blog.
You don’t own the content that you create on a free hosting, it is owned by the hosting company. They can even decide to delete your site at anytime, which will be a set back for you. Imagine the number of hours days or months that you’ve put in writing your blog articles.
Another setback is that you wont be able to choose your own themes in most of this platforms. You might decide to use a custom made theme one day, but it wont happen on a free hosting account.
Why a self hosted domain/paid domain
You should go with a self hosted professional domain name, than choosing a free domain. With a self hosted domain you will be in full control of everything you want shown on your blog. You can customize your blog the way you want.
You can use free themes, paid themes or custom made themes(more about this later), you can also monetize your blog with any type of method.
And also you should go with a dot com domain instead or other domains. A dot com domain name can be easily remembered when people search for a website. It also helps you target a global audience.
A processional domain name can range from $8.50 annually to any amount. There are many trusted companies where you can get your own domain name.
You can name your blog after yourself, this would mean you could brand yourself, there are many top bloggers who have named their blogs after themselves. This could work if your name or surname is easy to pronounce.
If your name and surname is already taken, don’t try to add a number(s) after the letter. You can try some thing like john smith online dot com instead or just use a different domain all together.
Apart from naming your blog after yourself you can be creative about it. Creativity an simplicity is the best, you can choose to go with a domain name that is related to what your blog is about.
Let’s say you want to start a travelling blog, you can name include the term travel in your domain name. And say something like your name travel dot com if your intend to blog about travelling. This will help your domain to be easy to remember for anyone looking for travelling tips.
2. Choosing a hosting package
Is very important to choose a reliable hosting package just as it is important to choose a domain name for your blog.
There are two web hosting that I recommend for any blogger, those Namecheap and Bluehost.
Firstly, I don’t see any point of registering your domain name with another company then go and host your website files at different company. You can do that by switching your DNS to a different host. That can be confusing for most people, especially if they are not tech-savvy or have no IT background.
You can register your domain and host your blog with a single company. Look for a affordable company with reliable support services.
Hosting is cheap anyway you can pay for hosting for the whole year in one month. So for domain registration and hosting I use NameCheap.
NameCheap is American based hosting company with data centers both in the US and UK. I have hosted with them previous and I can say I was happy with their service, their support is good. They have a 24 hour live support team.
You can chat with their live assistant through a live chat and get instant response. When you have a fault on your blog they assist you. That’s the type of hosting company that you need because blogs can have a few internal errors that are related to the web server.
They will help you if you need their help or you can contact me if there’s anything that you need help with I would be happy to assist you.
Their dot com domain registration cost $10.98 for a year, while their hosting start from $2.88 per month. Another great advantage for me is that they accept Bitcoin as payment which I prefer using.
You can do your payments through credit card/debit card(Visa, Master Card, Discover, AmEx), Pay Pal and Bitcoin.
If you are like me, you prefer Bitcoin and would like to do your payments through bitcoin then you have that option on NameCheap. Namecheap is among the web hosting companies that accept bitcoin in the world.
If you don’t know how to use bitcoin then you can learn how to use it, how to buy bitcoin and make payments. You will need to open a bitcoin wallet then buy bitcoins before you can make any bitcoin payments.
Why you need a hosting account with cPanel
As a blogger you often need access to your website files like the theme files, images or plugins. A cPanel allows you to access this files with ease, if you don’t use a cPanel you can you FTP, an access you files through FileZilla or any other FTP software.
Why I chose Namechep hosting package
There are many web hosting companies that you can choose from. Some of them are BlueHost and HostGator, and don’t get me wrong, they are very big and have almost everything you need as a blogger. But I decided to go with Namecheap.
Namecheap offer three types of shared hosting packages that a blogger can select from. You can either choose the Stellar which will cost you $2.88 p/m, with 20GB which can be enough for a small blog. Or Stellar Plus for $4.88 p/m with unmetered Disk Space and number of websites or go for the larger package for $8.88p/m.
All of this packages have unlimited bandwidth and a website builder and you can install any blogging platform to run your blog.
After choosing a hosting package namecheap will send you login details to your cPanel and FTP files. That’s where you will get access to install any software that you might need and get access to your Emails, SSL, Databases and more.
To sign up for a Namecheap account click here.
If you decide go for Bluehost
Bluehost is also a reliable web hosting company that you can use. It powers over 2 million websites and is easy to install WordPress. There’s a 24/7 support in case you need assistance with any installation or something else.
You will get is free domain name if you use a link below to sign up while their hosting plans start from $2.75 per month for a basic plan. So they are affordable the only major difference between them and namecheap is that bluehost does not accept bitcoin payments yet. You can pay via credit card, paypal, check/money order, purchase orders or mailing address.
To sign up for a Bluhost account click here.
3. Install a blogging software/WordPress
There are many paid blogging platforms provided by other companies but wordpress still takes center stage. WordPress is a open source content management system(CMS) that is trusted by most top bloggers and big companies. WordPress powers 30% of websites globally and continues growing everyday.
You can do almost anything imaginable with wordpress since it has plugins that can be installed and setup to give you results. You can find beautiful themes related to what you are looking for or create one your self.
How to Install WordPress
Now that you’ve registered your domain name and chosen a hosting package you can install a blogging platform. After registering a domain name you will have to install a blogging software or plartform.
Like many other internet marketers I prefer WordPress than any other platform. Wordpress is the number one blogging platform and it has great features for a blogger. It also has a great community and is easy to learn and manage your content with it.
You get to choose the type of theme that you want and choose from a list of useful plugins to manage or customize your blog.
There are two ways to install wordpress, you can do it manually or via the cPanel. If you don’t have any idea you can follow this simple steps below.
You don’t need some technical skills to install wordpress, anyone can do it. It can take you less than 3 minutes to install wordpress on your hosting account if you do it via the cPanel.
After logging in on your cPanel account look for the Softaculous Apps Installer that I highlighted in yellow. This will take you to a tap where you will see WordPress and other Apps.
Remember you are installing WordPress not other Apps, so click on WordPress to install it.
Then after installing your wordpress you can move on to the next step
Then fill the form what will appear on your screen.
4. Choose a theme or template
You have too many options when it comes to theme selection in WordPress. A theme is the one that will determine the look of your blog. You can choose to use a free theme, premium them or custom design theme. A free theme is ok for someone who has low budget or who are learning how to start a blog.
The difference between free themes, premium themes and custom made themes
The first ones are free themes
Using a free theme might be good if you don’t have money to buy a premium one. A free theme can have a few limits here and there, but you can still customize it and is still good for someone who still starting out.
You can choose to use a freemium theme then save money to buy a premium theme later. What people do like about free themes is that they are used by many people, so you could find your website looking like someone else.
The best free themes are the ones listed on wordpress theme directory . Other than that don’t choose other themes that are listed elsewhere. The ones listed on the wordpress directory have been reviewed by theme experts and they have passed the review test.
A free theme might have limits like not being regularly updated, and might not have all other features but all in all they work and can be customized.
Second are premium themes
You can go for a premium theme, a premium theme might have a bit more features than a free one but not a must have. Some premium themes might have all the features you want but some might not. You can get a Premium theme at StudioPress or at Woothemes, that’s were I get them, even free ones are available.
Custom Designed Themes
Then there’s custom design, a custom designed theme is a theme that is made special for you. For a custom theme you can ask someone to design it for you at a cost.
There are many platforms that can connect your to wordpress theme developers, Fiverr.com or Freelancer.com are some of them. After selecting a theme you have to login in and upload it your wordpress dashboard and activate it.
How to install a wordpress theme
If you decide to install a new them right away then here are the simple steps you need to follow to install a different theme.
Remember you have three option when it comes to wordpress themes, if you chose to install a free theme the Login to you Dashboard.
Then click on Appearance then click on Themes.
You will then see a screen like the one below:
If you have already downloaded a free worpress theme or you have bought it an is sitting somewhere in your computer then click on the Upload Theme button.
But if you have not then search for your prefered them on the search box then hover over it and click on install button.
Setup your blog for search engine friendly url’s
There are certain changes that you can make in order to make your blog to look professional and search engine friendly. Your posts should be easy to read for both humans and search engines. You will notice that you post or pages url’s look like this http://yourdomain.com/?p=1 or something like that.
So you should change that, so that when you post a an article the title of the url show the actual title in words. Your posts and pages should look something like this http://yourdomain.com/your-post-name
This will help search engines read your post and pages url with easy, your post should contain keywords in the url.
For that to happen you need to change your PERMALINKS.
Login into your WordPress Dashboard and click on SETTINGS on your left, then click on PERMERLINKS. Then select the radio button that says POST NAME, then save the changes.
Great, you now have readable permalinks for both your pages and posts for both search engines and humans.
5. Start writing content
After going through all those steps you can start writing your posts? Wrong.
If your plan is to start successful blog you will have to do keyword research about the topic you want to write about. I have covered this subject in one of my post.
Yes is hard work, the main aim here is to write the type of content that people are looking for.
Keyword research will help you do that and, write content that most readers are searching for. Help them solve their problems, you will see them coming back for more, you need to keep those readers. This will help your write for seo, which is very important to rank your pages high.
Keep a writing schedule, decide whether you would post daily or weekly in your blog. Off cause posting once a month is not good a enough, you need successive blogging consistency.
The more post you write the faster your blog will grow. And also the faster your post can rank higher on search engines.
Simple blogging tip: Set yourself a target of posts
You can do just what I did for this blog, you can start by writing at least forty five posts and above before launching your blog.
It helped me a lot, I took some time to write as many articles as I could be for launching this blog. I was targeting 2 post a day though in some cases I would write one post sometimes none. But I kept my focus on launching my blog with at least 45+ posts.
In most cases I was targeting 1500+ words per post, If I reach that number of words per post, then I’m happy. If ever the time comes for me to make an update on those posts I know It wont be hard like the time writing them.
I had 46 posts in total before launching my blog, all of them optimized for search engines with on-page seo and ready to go go live and get search engine traffic. What was let? Off-page seo which is the hardest part when you start a new blog.
This is one blogging strategy I would recommend for most new bloggers learning how to start a blog. By the time you launch your blog you are many steps ahead from your peers and you blog will have content from the first day.
Choose a niche and start doing your keyword research and start writing be for launching your blog. Prepare everything from images to videos if you plan to use videos, and prepare your social network profiles before launching.
How to promote your blog
We move on to how to promote a blog. Which gets us closer to the end of our top on how to start a blog. After learning how to start a blog you will have to learn how to promote a blog.
In the section above we spoke about search engines. You will need a search engine optimized blog so you can get organic traffic. SEO will help you increase your page rankings.
If you have not Installed Yoast plugin, you need to do so and learn how to optimize your blog post or pages.
The other method to promote your blog is to install social share plugins on your blog. This will help you get more shares on your blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ ect.
Some of your readers might share your content on their profiles which will increase exposure to your blog.You will also be building seo backlinks to your blog if your install the social share plugins.
You can use paid traffic to promote your blog on search engines and social media. Search engines like google offer pay per click, you can bid for keywords you want your blog to be known for.
Using pay per click will help you get targeted traffic to your blog posts. Your Ads can appear on the first page of search engines when people search for that keyword.
You can also buy social media ads, Facebook is one of the top social media network that sell ads. Using facebook you can target your readers based on their locations, interest, age and more.
If you’ve been wanting to learn how to start a blog then I hope this post was helpful. I might have left something out on this post, you are welcome to share more.