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Happy New Year to you! I hope that 2017 was a very successful year for you, and that 2018 is even more successful. Are you ready to finally start that blog in 2018? If so, I’ve provided some tips in today’s post that will help drive you to success. Some of these tips come from my post, “How to Start a Blog in 2017” and some are brand new!
Why start a blog?
Before we really dive into the steps on HOW to start a blog, we need to talk about WHY you should start a blog. If you already know why you want to start your blog, you can skip ahead in this blog post. If not, here are several common reasons why people like you start a blog:
- You want to share information on topics you know a lot about.
- You want a way to chronicle your life.
- You are looking to become a better writer and communicator.
- You want to supplement your income or even make writing a full-time job.
Blogging is fun, but there is a lot of hard work involved in making it succeed. Anyone can sign up for WordPress, find a web host, and post content. Only those who are committed to continual success will find success. If you need any help along the way, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help.
How to Start Your Blog
- Decide which platform to use
- Select a web hosting provider and domain name
- Set up your blog
- Write your first post
- Share your post with the world
- Monetize your blog
- Useful tools and resources
1. Decide which platform to use
There are several well-known and widely-used blogging platforms out there today that will suit your needs. For me, there really isn’t any other choice other than WordPress. WordPress is the standard in the blogging world. Over 80 million bloggers use it today. You can’t go wrong with it!
WordPress can take a little time to figure out how to work, but once you get comfortable with it, there are so many possibilities with it that you won’t want anything else. With thousands of plugins and themes, it really is the best bet for any serious blogger.
You’ll see two types of WordPress sites out there today. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Wordpress.com is not a self-hosted option, which means you are limited in what you can do and the income you can earn. WordPress.org means you are self-hosted and can do more in terms of options and income.
2. Select a web hosting provider and domain name
If you are looking to make money with your blog, you must go with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Before you can really dive into monetizing your blog, you’ll need your own domain name and a web hosting provider to host your site.
- Domain Name: The domain name is the URL of your blog. Readers will type your domain name into their browser to get to your site. I highly recommend Namecheap.com for domain names!
- Web Host: The web host is the company that houses all of your files for your site and displays the site on the web for you. For web hosting, you definitely can’t go wrong with Siteground. If you do sign up with Siteground, they have a very easy WordPress install process.
3. Set up your blog
Here’s where the fun begins! Now that you’ve purchased your domain and hosting accounts, you can dive in and design it to your liking. If you are using WordPress, you have access to thousands of free and premium themes. I highly recommend ThemeIsle for a great selection of themes that will make your blog stand out.
I usually opt for a clean theme that allows me to customize the look to suit my niche. There are some themes that will allow for full customization, while others are limited in the number of features you can customize.
4. Write your first blog post
Now that your blog is ready to go, it’s time to write your first post. I do want to admit that my very first post sucked badly. This is because I had no clue in how to structure a blog post. Now that I’ve done my research on the best ways to structure blog posts, readers have given me positive feedback. My trick in structuring my blog posts is by using an outline. An outline allows you time to think about where you want to place your headers and links, and gives you time to analyze the structure before you write it down. Outlines do take a little extra time, but in my opinion are worth every second because it makes the post much easier to read and follow.
In WordPress, you have the option to save as a draft, which is a great feature if you like to write in pieces and then come back to finish up. There are several other options you’ll want to pay attention to as you are creating your post.
- Categories – Categories are like the table of contents in a book. Let’s use my site for an example of how categories work. Look to the right of this post into my sidebar. You’ll see a drop down menu called “Categories.” Let’s say you want to see every post I’ve written about sports. I created a “Sports” category and selected it every time I wrote a sports-related blog post. If you select “Sports” from the Category menu, you’ll be presented with any post I’ve written about Sports. Go ahead and try it, but come back to this post!
- Tags – Tags are more like an index than a table of contents. Tags are keywords that tell the reader what the post is about. Go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post. You’ll see I’ve included several tags that tie to the subject matter of this post. Tags are also a good way to group related posts. Think of them as being just like hashtags on Twitter. If you click on a hashtag in Twitter, you’ll be presented with any posts that include that tag. It’s a great way to read related content.
- Featured Image – The featured image is the image that will show up at the top of your blog post. Look at the top of this post. Do you see the very cool image I’ve created for this post? That’s the featured image. Whenever you share your post, unless you’ve told WordPress to use a different image, by default, it will use the featured image. I use a creative featured image for every blog post.
- Sharing – Under the featured image is an option to select which social media sites you want to share the post to once you’ve hit publish. While you can connect to any service you want, I usually share to the big boys – Facebook and Twitter.
- Post format – I don’t mess with this feature very much, but can be useful depending on the type of post you are writing. If you are only posting an image or a video, this feature will format the post to that particular medium. Since I primarily post in regular text and images, I leave this setting at “Standard.”
5. Share your post with the world
You’ve spent hours writing and perfecting your post before publishing it. The next step is critical in getting readers to it. I always share my posts through a variety of mediums: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flipboard, etc. I take the extra steps in sharing my new post inside the many Facebook groups in which I participate. For Pinterest, I highly recommend you try out Tailwind. It is doing wonders for my blog traffic and engagement!
6. Monetize your blog
If you are looking to make income with your blog, and don’t want to rely on Google Adsense, affiliate links are fantastic income producers. If you find the opportunity to incorporate an affiliate link to promote a product that relates to your post, do it. I wrote a very informative post on how to make the most of affiliate links. I recommend checking it out, as well as my post on how to make passive income with affiliate marketing.
7. Useful tools and resources
The following articles are tools and resources to help you in your blogging journey:
- Blogging Resources
- How Tailwind is Helping My Blog Traffic
- The Scoop on Affiliate Marketing + 10 Easy Affiliate Programs for Bloggers
- 2 Years Blogging + The 7 Best Tips I’ve Learned Along The Way
- 34 Essential Blogging Tools You Must Have
That’s it! I hope these tips will help you on your quest to starting and running a very successful blog!