Starting Your First Blog In 2018: The “How To” Guide

“Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘Blog’ is a fool’s errand.”

Here’s an overview of our step-by-step guide:

  1. Find web hosting
  2. Choose a domain name
  3. Choose a blogging platform
  4. Set up your WordPress blog
  5. Create a content plan
  6. Write your first blog post

Why Should I Trust You To Teach Me Blogging?

We run some of the biggest websites for webmasters in the world. In addition to Blogging.com, we also run HTML.com, Digital.com, and many more.

In fact, our sites have become so popular that they’ve been featured in newspapers, magazines, and websites like:

New York Times Logo Time Magazine Logo Mashable LogoMetro Newspaper Logo Venturebeat Logo Business Insider Logo

Our carefully crafted guides – just like this! – are read by many millions of readers every month in hundreds of countries around the world.

Finally, we’ve been doing it since way back in 2006 (a whole century in internet years)!

Before We Learn How To Start A Blog…

How we keep the lights on: While we teach you how to start your blog, some of the services we recommend pay us a “referral fee” if you buy their service.

This doesn’t cost you a penny – in fact, you will often save money with some special deals we’ve negotiated.

What Is A Blog, Exactly?

Blogs are, in many ways, the Swiss Army knives of the internet.

Starting out as online diaries in the 90s, blogging has grown into a massive, endlessly varied form of communication.

Blogs can be short story collections, recipe hubs, role-playing games, or records of UFO sightings. They can help businesses advertise, educate customers, inform shareholders, or inspire community interactions.

Chances are if you can imagine it, there is a blog about it somewhere. Probably hundreds of them!

Blogs are one of the last level playing fields on the web. What are you waiting for?

How Is It Different From Blogging?

Blogging is simply the act of starting and writing a blog!

Blogs are so ubiquitous because anyone who’s able to put type can become a blogger. You don’t need to know how to type fast; you don’t need to be able to see or hear. You can’t be too old or too young to blog. You don’t even need to know anything about computers or the internet!

Blogs Vs Websites: What’s The Difference?

Blogs are a type of website. So what makes a blog? Blogs are typically:-

  • Updated regularly
  • Display the most recent post first
  • Usually (but not always) allow readers to add comments

Help! I Want To Make A Website, Not A Blog

Relax! The process to make a website is the same (at least initially) as starting a blog, and WordPress is still your best choice. You can follow the same step-by-step guide as the bloggers!

Why Do People Blog?

People blog for many reasons. Blogging can help you become a better writer, can make you some money on the side, or give you a platform for sharing your ideas.

Some of the most common reasons people start a blog include:

What Topics Do People Blog About?

Sometimes figuring out what to blog about is the hardest part. Luckily, we have some great ideas to get you started:

  • Fashion – makeup, clothing, hair, and beauty products.
  • Travel – vacations, best places to visit, your own travels, restaurants, entertainment or even RVs.
  • Technology – software, programming, web development, web design, and startups.
  • Business – industry updates, real estate, expert tips, and best practices.
  • Content marketing – how to market your business, SEO best practices, email campaigns.
  • Foodrecipe sharing, restaurants, kitchen equipment.
  • Finance – industry happenings, ways to make and save money, budgeting.
  • Health and Fitness – sports equipment, nutrition, exercise, dieting, fashion.
  • Lifestyle – gardening, home improvement, organization, travel, survival.
  • Personal Development – time management, health awareness, mindfulness.
  • Parenting – child development, product reviews, tips for age stages.
  • Professional & Academic – colleagues and peers discuss their fields of expertise, like CPAs
  • Instructional – tutoring, how-to’s, guides.
  • Entertainment – humor, memes, video, music, podcasts.

How To Start A Blog

What to expect from our guide: You’ll need about 20 minutes or so to get started. We suggest building your blog in one session, if possible.

Step #1 – Find Web Hosting

Web hosting is the service that puts your blog on the internet. That means good web hosting can make or break your blog.

You need to think about four things when it comes to web hosting:-

  1. Cost. What does it cost per month?
  2. Speed. Your blog needs to load fast. Speed is important as users move to mobile.
  3. Uptime. Every website goes offline sometimes. But a good web host will help minimize problems with downtime.
  4. Technical Support. Boring, but super-important.

What Type of Web Hosting Do I Need?

Shared hosting is the cheapest and most basic form of hosting available. You store your website on a server shared with other customers of the hosting company. You also share the resources – such as bandwidth and disk space – of the server as well.

You’ll also notice that some hosting companies have WordPress hosting. These plans typically run on shared servers but can also be offered as cloud and VPS-based hosting. WordPress hosting is optimized for running the platform and will give you the most seamless WordPress experience.

(There are many other types of hosting – like cloud, VPS or dedicated – but you can ignore them starting out)

But if you’re looking for the cheapest hosting possible, go with a basic shared hosting plan. Just make sure you can get a one-click WordPress install to make your life easier.

What Features Are Important For Blog Hosting?

Here are some of the most important features to look for when you are choosing which hosting provider to go with:

  • Disk space and bandwidth depending on the amount of traffic your website gets
  • Security features like malware scanning, daily backups, and 24/7 site monitoring.
  • One-click installations.
  • Uptime guarantees against server crashes and maintenance issues.
  • Speed and performance so you know your site is always giving the best user experience.
  • Support types such as email, support ticket, and live chat.
  • Affordability – quality web hosting doesn’t come for free.

What’s The Best WordPress Hosting?

We recommend BlueHost as the perfect WordPress hosting service for new bloggers.

BlueHost has been recommended by Automattic – the team of geniuses behind WordPress – since 2005, and BlueHost’s parent company is one of the investors behind Automattic, so you know you’re in good hands.

As well as making it effortless to install WordPress, they also include a content delivery network (CDN) to provide faster website loading for people located geographically farther from their servers. And, all websites get a free SSL certificate to reassure your site visitors that their information is secure.

Bluehost’s WordPress-optimized plans may be more expensive than you’re willing to pay. They start at about $20/month. In that case, personal bloggers will have absolutely no problem with their cheaper shared hosting plans.

You’ll still get adequate resources for your new blog, and a free domain name!

Go and signup now at BlueHost.com before moving to the continue with the next step of the tutorial.

Get your WordPress hosting now at Bluehost »

Image c/o WordPress.org

PRO TIP Don’t worry about fancy web hosting for a new blog. If you need more bandwidth or disk space in future, your host won’t be shy about offering upgrades!

Is BlueHost’s Uptime Good Enough?

Despite Bluehost’s lack of uptime guarantee, we’ve been very pleased with the reliability of their hosting. We’ve consistently had at least 99.9% uptime from them. Compared to other hosts that experienced much more frequent downtime, Bluehost’s reliability is impressive.

If, however, you do experience extensive downtime with Bluehost, they’ll let you pull out of your contract early. If you do this, they’ll issue a pro-rated refund for the remainder of your subscription.

Here’s BlueHost’s uptime graph vs nine other hosts we’ve been tracking long term. Remember, an uptime of 99.9% is the industry standard.:-:-

Image c/o Down.com

How Fast Is BlueHost?

We can’t stress enough how important your page load speed is. Many site visitors will leave immediately if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Talk about impatient, right? With so much information available online, people aren’t going to wait for it from a website that takes too long to load.

Bluehost claims that their shared hosting plans provide a load time of 372ms (milliseconds). Their cloud hosting will give you 151ms. Our experience with Bluehost’s shared plans has shown that they consistently provide load speeds of less than 3 seconds. Great!

This graph shows how fast BlueHost is vs nine other hosts we’ve been tracking long-term:-

Image c/o Down.com

Why Technical Support Matters Most

The final point – technical support – is boring, but it’s also really, really important. When it’s 1am and you don’t know why your blog is offline, you need somebody you can speak to!

Specifically, you need somebody you can call by phone – not send an email and wait a week for a reply.

Image c/o BlueHost.

How Much Money Does Web Hosting Cost?

BlueHost usually costs $7.95/month.

However, we’ve negotiated a special deal for Blogging.com readers. Take a look here for the latest pricing.

If you’re prepared to make a long-term commitment, BlueHost costs as little as $2.95/month. The longer you commit to, the less you pay each month. It’s your call.

Get your WordPress hosting now at Bluehost »


 

Image c/o BlueHost.

Help! I Can’t Afford To Pay For A Year’s Web Hosting…

When starting a blog, we think it’s important to make a commitment – just like joining the gym. But we also know that not everybody is able to make big financial commitments just like that.

If you need a “Plan B” who offer month-to-month billing, we recommend HostGator, owned by the same parent company as BlueHost.

How To Start a 100% Free Blog

In our opinion, WordPress.com is the only show in town for a free blog. Sure, there are plenty of other services, like Google’s Blogger.com or Yahoo’s Tumblr. But they’re severely limited next to WordPress for a free blog service.

You’re not going to get the fancy features of full-blown WordPress, but it beats the alternatives hands down.

Go signup now at WordPress.com before continuing with the next step.

Which Web Hosting Plan Is Best For Me?

Most hosting services offer multiple plans. BlueHost’s cheapest shared hosting plan is fine for beginners, and allows plenty of bandwidth and disk space for your blog to grow.

Image c/o BlueHost.

BlueHost’s cheapest shared hosting plan offers WordPress as a “one-click install”. Just find this button in your control panel (called cPanel) and click it to set up your new blog. It’ll be ready in seconds.

Need More Powerful WordPress Hosting?

Already got an existing site or blog that needs upgrading? If Bluehost doesn’t sound powerful enough for what you have planned, we recommend WP Engine.

They offer high-end WordPress hosting… but with prices to match. WP Engine starts at $29 per month, so is about 10x the price of BlueHost.

However, we’ve negotiated a special deal for Blogging.com readers. You can find the most up-to-date pricing here

WP Engine is 100% focused on hosting WordPress sites. Their hosting is best suited to small businesses that need a higher level of service, or for personal bloggers with a substantial existing readership.

WP Engine provides added power for growing blogs or business websites.

If you’re just starting out, grab a cheaper plan from Bluehost instead. You can always migrate your website to WP Engine later if you outgrow Bluehost.

If you’re looking for more powerful WordPress hosting — Use WP Engine »

Screenshot c/o WP Engine.

Step #2 – Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name is your blog’s identity on the web. This is the URL that people type into their web browser when they want to visit your blog.

Ours is Blogging.com, for example.

This is your chance to stand out amongst the millions of blogs that exist online!

Before you register your domain name, here are some guidelines to follow. Your domain name should:

  1. Be memorable
  2. Be easy to spell (aka “pass the radio test“)
  3. Be descriptive (i.e., describes your blog’s topic or establishes a brand name)
  4. Be short and sweet, if possible

For example, if you’re a passionate collector of vintage guitars, “VintageGuitars.com” would be better than “MyMostFavoriteGuitars.info.” It fulfils all of the criteria we mentioned.

However, VintageGuitars.com is likely to be a very expensive domain indeed. (More on that in a moment.)

Keywords are words or phrases that describe your niche. Think about the words that people might use to search for your content, and bear them in mind when choosing a domain name to register.

Finally, remember, you can’t use spaces or punctuation (except hyphens) in a domain name.

How To Choose A Great Domain Name

To get a better idea of what makes up a good domain name, we’ve come up with some examples:

For a blog on caring for pet budgies, “friendly-birds.com” is a bad domain name:

  • This domain uses a hyphen. Many users forget hyphens when typing domain names.
  • The name name doesn’t explain that the blog is about budgies!

Instead, “healthybudgie.com” could be a much better choice. The domain name is specified, contains keywords, is short, memorable, and easy to spell.

A domain name for a Spanish language learning blog of IteachPeopleLanguages.com may be specific, but it’s long, wordy and easy to misspell. Whereas DynamoSpanish.com is shorter and more descriptive.

Read more about choosing good names in the Blogging.com domain name guide.

Stuck? Try A Domain Name Generator

If you’re really stuck finding a domain name, you can try using a business or domain name generator. We’ve rounded up the best around on our sister site, Digital.com.:

What Extension Is Best For My Domain Name?

The choice is yours! We love .COM domains (hence Blogging.com), but they can be expensive (more on that in a moment). That’s because almost any domain you can think of that’s meaningful has already been registered with the extension .COM.

PRO TIP: If you choose a new domain extension, be sure to make sure your domain still passes the radio test! Most people are not familiar with new domain extensions, which is why we suggest caution.

What Domain Name Extensions Are Available?

The world’s most popular domain extensions (or TLDs) include…

WorldwideCountry Specific"New" TLDs
(2014 Onwards)
  
.COM.CO.UK.XYZ
.ORG.DE.CLUB
.NET.US.ONLINE
.INFO.FR.NINJA
.BIZ.ES.ROCKS

How To Register A Domain Name

Bluehost offers a free domain when you sign up for a shared hosting plan. So you can buy your hosting and register your domain name at the same time.

Image c/o Bluehost.

Want To Use A Different Domain Registrar?

If you can’t find the exotic domain extension you want, or if you’d prefer to register your domain elsewhere, we also use and recommend Go Daddy.

They’re the world’s biggest domain registrar (Nearly 17% of all domains registered WORLDWIDE), and you’ve probably seen their ads on TV. They offer almost every domain extension in existence.

You’ll find their domain search form here.

Image c/o GoDaddy.

Help! My Domain Name Is Already Registered!

PRO TIP: it usually costs a lot of time and money to buy a domain name that’s already registered – if it’s even possible.

If you’re feeling ambitious, we have an excellent guide at WhoIsHostingThis about how to buy a domain name that’s already registered.

If you’re very lucky, the domain might be listed for sale at a domain name marketplaces. Some of the biggest domain marketplaces are:-

  • BuyDomains (a sister company to BlueHost)
  • Sedo
  • Go Daddy Auctions
  • Uniregistry Market

We’ve bought and sold premium domain names with each of these platforms, and are happy to recommend them. The bad news?

  1. You might need to spend A LOT of money
  2. You may spend weeks or months negotiating
  3. The whole process will likely take much longer

However, you could end up with a killer domain – like Blogging.com!

Premium domains can start at $500-$1,000+, but some change hands for $100,000s – or even millions of dollars! Before you fall in love with your dream domain name (and have to remortgage the house), you have been warned!

Step #3 – Choose a Blogging Platform

To start your blog, you need a blogging platform for your site. While there are many platforms to choose from, we think there’s only one serious choice.

It’s called WordPress.

WordPress: The World’s Most Popular Blog Platform

WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform and CMS (content management system). It powers 27%+ of all websites online today, and an even larger percentage of blogs.

(You’ll find more insane WordPress statistics over here).

WodPress is used by everyone from digital natives to tech-illiterate seniors.

 

Graph c/o Pingdom.

“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud”

10 Reasons We Love WordPress

WordPress lets you customize your layout, create content, and expand your blog’s functionality over time.

We love WordPress for lots of reasons, including:

  1. It’s 100% free
  2. It’s super-easy to install
  3. There are lots of awesome WordPress themes & plugins available (and most are free)
  4. There is tons of free help online (like at Blogging.com!)
  5. WordPress is simple enough for beginners, but powerful enough for experts
  6. It has infinite customizability with plug-ins and themes
  7. It’s mobile Friendly
  8. It’s great for SEO
  9. WordPress is constantly being updated. As long as you update promptly and be careful with themes and plug-ins, you shouldn’t run into many issues
  10. WordPress boasts a huge free, online support community

 

Image c/o WordPress.org

 

WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

There are two WordPress platforms to choose from: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Here are the key differences:-

WordPress.org

  • Software is 100% free…
  • …but you need to pay for WordPress hosting
  • Thousands of WordPress plugins (free and paid) to add features
  • Thousands of WordPress themes (free and paid) are available

WordPress.com

  • Annual fee (Starting at $48/year)
  • Your site is hosted by Automattic, WordPress’ parent company
    (ie, No web hosting needed)
  • No software to download, install or maintain
  • Themes & plugin selection much, much more limited.

Here’s a table to compare the differences:

 WordPress.comWordPress.org
CostFreeThe WordPress app itself is free, but you must pay for hosting.
HostingHosted by WordPressSelf-hosted, meaning you can choose any hosting provider you want.
InstallationPre-installed.Installation required, but many hosts offer 1-click simplicity.
Domain NameFree, but you're limited to a subdomain like "mysite.wordpress.com."You can purchase your own domain.
CustomizationChoice of plugins can be limited.Unlimited
ThemesLimitedUnlimited
FunctionalityBasicUnlimited
BackupsAutomaticCheck with your hosting provider.
Personal UseYesYes
Business UseNoYes
Tech Experience NeededAnyoneComfortable with DIY
Who is it best for?Those who want to try WordPress out before you purchasing their own hosting.Anyone

 

Website Builders: The Most Popular WordPress Alternative

You may have heard of website builders, like Weebly or Wix.

If you only a very simple website, website builders may be a good solution. They’re web apps that offer drag-and-drop functionality and a WYSIWYG editor to build a blog or website.

However, the vast majority of bloggers choose the flexibility of WordPress.

WordPress is much more powerful, scalable, and flexible than other website builder. WordPress the ability to do almost anything you want: total freedom to create the blog you want.

If you are terrified by the idea of WordPress, website builders may be worth a look. But our advice is to stick with WordPress, if possible.

Learn more in our rundown of the top options for website builders for bloggers.

Can I Use WordPress With Wix Or Weebly?

No. Website builders require you to use their own proprietary apps to build your websites and blogs. You’re locked in for life with that one website builder.

Step #4 – Set Up Your WordPress Blog

Luckily, installing WordPress is very simple once you have a web hosting service.

How To Install WordPress

Lucky for you, WordPress is famous for their “5-minute install”.

Better yet, many hosting companies will even install the blogging platforms for you (look for “one-click installs”). Just follow the step-by-step instructions – you can’t make a mistake!

The only decision you need to make at this stage is to give your blog a name. Don’t worry, you can change it later easily enough (unlike the domain name, which is much more hassle to change).

How to Login To WordPress

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll receive an email with your…

  • Username (“admin” by default)
  • Password (whatever password you entered)
  • WordPress Login URL
    (This will look something like like http://blogging.com/wp-admin/)

If you can’t find the email, check your spam folder. The WordPress login page looks like this:-

How To Use WordPress Dashboard

After login, you’ll see the WordPress dashboard, the control panel for your blog. This let’s you handle everything from the design to publishing blog posts.

In a few short moments, you’ll be ready to create your first blog posts or pages, like your contact page or other “must have” pages.

How To Set Up WordPress

WordPress Dashboard Sidebar

Good news: WordPress works great right out of the box – even if you do nothing else!

But there are three simple housekeeping tasks you ought to take care of before you publish your first post:

a) Check Your Blog’s Name

You chose this when you installed WordPress – now’s your chance to make any changes. In Settings > General, customize your:

  • Site Title (eg, Blogging.com)
  • Tagline (a strapline displayed below the logo in many WordPress themes)

b) Double Check Your Email Address

Check that your email address is correct, for when you need to reset your password in future.
If there’s a typo, you’ll be locked out of your blog!

a) Set Up Permalinks

“Permalinks” are the strings of words that appear in the URLs of your blog. They help search engines, like Google, find and understand your blog posts more easily.

Whatever permalinks you choose, be prepared to stick with it: changing them once your blog has started to gain an audience can have catastrophic repercussions for your blog traffic!

In Settings option of the left-hand menu, go to Permalinks. They’ll be set to “Plain”. We suggest you use:-

  • “Post name” (eg, blogging.com/sample-post/)

But if you prefer, you can opt for one of these alternatives:-

  • “Day and name” (eg, blogging.com/2017/12/03/sample-post/)
  • “Month and name” (eg, blogging.com/2017/12/sample-post/)

How To Choose A WordPress Theme

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

WordPress has countless free themes to choose from to get your blog live ASAP.

Your choice of WordPress theme allows you to get creative, and make your blog look and feel just like home.

The good news is WordPress makes it super-easy to chop and change your WordPress theme. You can change it every day of the year if you want to!

So: should you use a free theme or pay for a premium WordPress theme?

New Blogger? Use A Free WordPress Theme

For new bloggers, free themes offer total freedom to experiment. If you’re not used to using WordPress, we recommend using a free theme until you know which features matter to you most. WordPress has its own repository of free themes.

You can install them right from your dashboard; just click on “Appearance” and then “Themes.”

Some of the most popular free WordPress Themes include…

  • Twenty Seventeen
  • Twenty Sixteen
  • Twenty Fifteen

…and usually, arrive by default when you install WordPress. You’ll probably recognize them all because these blog themes are so widely used.

For example, Twenty Seventeen looks like this:-

Screenshot c/o WordPress.org

 

Free WordPress Themes: The Pro’s & Con’s
  1. Freedom To Be Fickle. You can switch between free themes as frequently as you like, without having to pay.
  2. Experiment. Try out lots of different color schemes and layouts
  3. 100% Free with all the basic functionality you need to start blogging
  4. Generic. You may find that thousands of other blogs use the same WordPress theme as you
  5. Less Professional. The sad truth is it’s harder to make your blog look professional with a free theme
  6. Less Customizable. Free themes usually offer less sophisticated customization. This will be more important as your blog builds an audience and gains traction.

Experienced Blogger? Upgrade To Premium Themes

Premium themes often offer a more stylishlook out of the box. Our favorite sites to buy premium WordPress themes include:-

 

Screenshot c/o StudioPress.com

 

How Much Do Premium WordPress Themes Cost?

Expect to pay from $29 to $99 for a typical premium theme..

Some super-deluxe options will cost $150+ if you buy a developer license, but you only need that if you plan to use the theme across many blogs.

How to Install A New WordPress Theme

WordPress makes it simple to alter the theme of your website:-

  1. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
  2. Now you’ll see all of WordPress’s featured themes. You can choose one of these or search for the names of themes you’ve heard about.
  3. To narrow your search, use the Feature Filter to select the layout, your desired features, and your blog subject.
  4. Once you find a theme you like, you can preview it with your content. If you don’t have any website content or the plugins necessary for the theme, this preview might not look like anything like the final product.
  5. Once you’ve picked a winning theme, just click Install and Activate, and you’re done!

All of your blog content will appear in the new theme, and you shouldn’t need to do anything else to get the new theme up and running.

How To Customize WordPress With Plugins

Plugins are extensions that add features and help unleash the power of WordPress. Popular plugins do things like add:-

  • Improve SEO (making your blog appear higher in the search engines)
  • Speed Up Your Site with “Cacheing” (making your blog faster)
  • Add fancy forms

How to Install WordPress Plugins:-

  1. Click Plugins > Add New from your WordPress dashboard
  2. Check out the featured plugins on this page for the most popular options.
  3. Use the search function to find plugins for the specific features you want to add to your website.
  4. When you find a plugin you like, just click Install Now.
  5. Activate the plugin and you’re good to go!

3 Free WordPress Plugins You Need

In our opinion, there are three “must have” WordPress plugins that every blog should have. Go ahead and install these for your blog right away. On the WordPress dashboard, go to “Plugins”, then “Add New” and search for them by name.

  1. Akismet, to prevent junk comments filling your blog. It’s free & built by the same team that made WordPress, Automattic.
  2. WP Super Cache, to speed up your blog. It’s also by Automattic.
  3. Yoast SEO, which makes it really easy to optimize your blog for search engines.

The free version of Yoast SEO is fine – you don’t need Yoast SEO premium.

2 “Must Have” Premium WordPress Plugins

There are a handful of premium WordPress plugins that we think every blog should have. You’ll need to pay for these ones.

  1. Jetpack, which is also developed by the WordPress team, and adds features backups for a small fee
  2. Sucuri, a security plugin that protects your blog against hacking and malware. It’s owned by GoDaddy.

Each of these plugins is built by a respected contributor to the WordPress community.

PRO TIP: No longer using a plugin? Delete it via your WordPress dashboard to stay safe.

WordPress Plugins: How To Stay Safe

Plugins are a critical part of WordPress. We use them extensively on Blogging.com. But you need to be careful when adding plugins to your blog because:-

  1. Speed. Too many plugins will slow WordPress down A LOT. That makes it difficult for your readers to navigate, and for search engines to crawl it.
  2. Security. Out-of-date plugins are a security risk that could get your blog hacked.

PRO TIP: Remember to keep your WordPress plugins up-to-date! You’ll get a reminder in the WordPress dashboard.

Step #5 – Publish Great Blog Content

Even personal bloggers should have a good idea of what they want to write about before they dive in. Don’t fret! Content planning isn’t rocket science. We’ll walk you through it every Step of the way.

Who Is Your Blog’s Target Audience?

You need to be clear about what you want to say, and it helps to imagine who your audience will be. Pick a topic that you are truly passionate about, and think about the needs of your blog’s readers.

Blogs exist on more or less any subject you can think of under the sun, from trading cryptocurrency to rearing chickens.

One quick and easy way to figure out your target audience is to imagine that you’re writing letters to a particular type of person.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  1. Are you talking to men or women?
  2. Children or adults?
  3. Where do they live?
  4. What activities do your audience members participate in?
  5. What type of work and hobbies do they do?
  6. What does a typical day in their lives look like?

Example: Say I’m creating a blog for “pet parents.”

  • They can be of any gender or age.
  • They love to do things with their pets, like walking dogs or playing with cats.
  • They can live anywhere in the world.
  • Significant chunks of their daily lives involve interacting with their pets (walking, feeding, playing, snuggling).
  • They consider their pets to be part of the family, more so than those who merely call themselves “pet owners.”

Choose a Niche For Your Blog

Niches are pretty important for your blog.

Some big websites, magazines, and newspapers can target huge audiences because they have massive amounts of content and a stable full of writers to create it. Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated, and the Wall Street Journal fall into this category.

However, you’re not going to get far competing with those heavyweights, so you need to drill down into your target audience and focus on a subset of your audience. By narrowing your focus to a niche, you stand a chance of building the best blog on that topic.

Possible niches for our example audience include:

  • Dog park reviews
  • Pet hotels or pet travel guides
  • Handmade pet toys

I’m going to go with “handmade pet toys.”

We can write about where to find them, how to make them, toy safety, toys based on your pet’s personality, etc. I can also tell stories about my own pets, start an Instagram or Twitter to feature pet photos, and review toys. Once you choose a niche, it should be a bit easier to come up with a good name for your blog.

Let’s call my new blog, Fuzzy Family Fun.

 

Step #6 – How to Write A Blog Post

High-quality content is critical to gaining traffic for your new blog. But if your content is merely average, you may not attract much traffic – or even none at all! There are a million blogs on the internet. You need to make yours stand out from the competition.

We’re going to show you exactly which buttons to push to get your first blog post online in a flash. Here is a preview of the process, which we’ll explain in-depth below:

  1. Create a new blog post
  2. Write your blog post
  3. Add images
  4. Add categories & tags
  5. Press “Publish!”

1. Create A New Blog Post

In the WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a sidebar with menu items that will take you to various parts of your website. To start a new blog post, click Posts > Add New.

add a new post
Add a new post

This will take you to the WordPress editor screen, which is where you will do your writing.

2. Draft Your Blog Post

In the WordPress editor, your first task is write a headline for your post in the title section.

Next, write some content in the body of your blog post. You will notice that there are two tabs, one labeled “Visual” and the other labeled “Text””.

Stay within the Visual editor if you are new to blogging and are not familiar with HTML code. This will give you a more “visual” look at what you are drafting when it comes to header sizes, font styles, and formats.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

The length of content on the internet is a hotly debated topic. Word-count is a key contributor to your search ranking results. Longer content typically ranks higher on Google. In fact, the longer the better when it comes to search ranking. This is because longer articles will contain more keywords, more topics, headings, links, and pictures.

At the very least, your blog posts should be more than 300 words for Google to rank it. The ideal length of a post for general reading is 1,000+ words.

And that’s just fine too. Just make sure that your long posts are extremely easy to read and to skim. Avoid walls of text at all costs!

If you’re aiming for a solid number, then between 1000 and 1500 word posts should be a perfect starting point. But feel free to experiment and find what works best for you and your audience.

3. Add an Image

If you want to add an image, click on the Add Media button. This will bring you to the Media Library where any images you have downloaded onto your site are saved for use in blog posts.

After you click on Add Media, select the image you want to insert into your blog post.

Don’t forget to fill out things such as the title, alt text, and description so when your website is indexed by search engines, your site is ranked properly in search engine results and potential visitors find you.

You can also add a caption if you want a short description to appear on your blog explaining the image to readers.

Click Insert into post.

add images to a wordpress post

Your blog post will now look like this after adding an image:

post with image

4. Add Categories and Tags

Categories and tags help organize your blog so readers can find what they are looking for Look to the right-hand side of your editor and notice the two boxes, Categories, and Tags.

Categories describe the topics that can be found on your blog. For example, if you have a personal blog, you may choose categories such as Music, Travel, and Food.

Tags are more specific descriptions of your posts that help readers drill down to smaller topics. When you write a blog post, you first choose a category.

In this example, we’ll choose Food. Then, for your post’s tags, you might enter something like pizza, breadsticks, chocolate cake.

adding tags and choosing a category

Simply click the category you would like to use for your blog post, input tags you want to assign and click on Add.

After you have created your blog post, you can preview how it will look when you publish it by clicking on the Preview button in the Publish box. This will open the public face of your blog, and show you what site visitors will see when they visit your website.

post preview

5. How To Publish Your Blog Post

If you are happy with your blog post, head back to the WordPress editor and locate the Publish section.

Here you can either click on the Publish button and post your blog immediately, or schedule to publish it at a later date. If you choose to publish it at a later date, simply choose the date and time and save your changes.

publish post

And there you have it! You’ve published your first blog post.

 

What Blog Topics Should You Cover?

Here are some ideas for coming up with blog topics to write about:-

  • Google Trends – Do a search on your niche, but also look at news headlines and see if there’s a place where they intersect your niche
  • Mind-mapping – Draw out branches from your main topics to see how many more ideas you can split off from them.
  • Social media – What’s happening on Twitter or Facebook that you could use to create new topics?

Example: My brainstorming helped me come up with these post ideas around handmade pet toys:

  • The history of dog toys in the White House
  • Knitting or felt patterns for toys
  • Pet toys around the world
  • Toys that might be harmful to your pet’s health

How To Find Your Blog’s Voice

Blogging is usually less formal than other media. It’s easiest to just be yourself!

But one way to “niche” yourself is with a unique style of writing. You can probably think of lots of examples where humor, style, or oddness make a particular blog memorable.

Example: For my Fuzzy Family Fun blog, I’m just going to write like I talk, since I’m also a pet owner. Readers will connect better with my personal stories if they come from my authentic voice.

How To Write Awesome Blog Content

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.”

There’s no magic formula to determine what your content should look like. It depends on your niche, and what your passion is. And it depends on what your readers are looking for.

Some blogs focus on breaking news or viral stories from the web. These blogs can gain a lot of traffic very soon after publication. The articles tend to have a short lifespan.

Other blogs contain in-depth articles that are written with longevity in mind (what we call “evergreen content”).

These articles tend to be longer, more detailed, and aim to attract traffic for many years – or even decades!

Look at other blogs in your niche and look at the things they do well. Try to find gaps in their strategy, and capitalize on those opportunities.

How To Create a Blog Schedule

Setting a schedule for your blog will help you build traffic – and keep it up over the medium and long-term.

Scheduling is important for two reasons:

  1. Building Readership. You’ll encourage your readers to visit your blog regularly.
  2. The Power Of Habit. You’ll get into the habit of regular writing – and stick with it. Just like going to the gym!

How Often Should I Publish Blog Posts?

There’s no right or wrong frequency for publishing new posts. It depends on…

  • Your blog’s topic (eg, breaking news vs history)
  • Your audience (eg, young vs old)
  • Your goals (eg, a hobby vs a job as a professional blogger)

One of the best blogs we know publishes a new post just once a month.

No matter how often you update your blog, it’s a good idea to space out your posts, instead of publishing lots of new blog posts all at the same time.

You don’t have to sit down and write every blog post just before you intend to publish. WordPress lets you schedule blog posts in advance.

This gives you the freedom to plan a complete blogging schedule, write the blog posts ahead of time, and then publish them at regular intervals.

That might be once a day, once a week or once a month – the choice is yours.
 

What Makes A Successful Blog?

There are many routes to blogging success. However, you can’t go wrong in implementing these suggestions.

  1. Provide content that your audience values.
  2. Make sure you understand SEO. (And keep up to date with it.)
  3. Post on a consistent schedule.
  4. Use social media to promote your blog.
  5. Interact with your hardcore readers – they’re your best promoters!
  6. Don’t be afraid to fail.

That last one is probably the most important one. Experiment to see what both you and your readers like. If something falls flat, don’t give up – just try something new.

What Do Your Favorite Bloggers Do?

It can help to take a look at your favorite blogs with a critical eye to figure out why they succeed. What do other blogs do that stops you coming back?

Are they sending out regular emails to their readers? Do they offer merchandise? Do they have ads? Is there a pop-up newsletter box every time you click? Do they update frequently? How do they interact with commenters? What are they doing on social media?

Beyond The Basics Of Blogging

Already mastered the basics of blogging? Here’s what to think about next.

How To Build Traffic to Your Blog

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.”

Once you’ve got your first blog posts live, the next step is to get visitors to read your blog. This isn’t as hard as you might think. Most bloggers rely on four key sources of traffic:-

  1. Search engines, like:
    • Google
    • Bing
    • Yahoo
  2. Social media, including:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google Plus
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
  3. RSS (You can read more about RSS subscriptions here).
  4. Email newsletters
  5. Direct traffic, or people typing your domain name. You’ll not have any when you launch your blog!

How To Get Your Blog Ranking In Google

Search engines like Google add new blogs to their index when they discover them mentioned (in the form of links) on other websites. Effectively, the more links your blog has (from high-quality, popular sites), the higher Google rank you.

Want to know how to get your first link to your new blog? Read on below!

There are some basic SEO skills you can apply to any blog post you publish that will help improve your search engine rankings.

  • Have a Good Title. The closer your title relates to keywords people are searching for, the higher your content will rank.
  • Internal Linking. Internally link to other content on your blog to organize it better for web crawlers. In addition, aim to have other websites link back to your website (through guest posting, blog comments, or just by publishing quality content others want to mention on their own site) so Google and other search engines can reward you for being authoritative and rank your blog posts higher.
  • Keyword Research. Take the time to find out what keywords relate to your content so that when people search for them, your website appears as one of the most relevant results. Add keywords to the title of your blog post, in the content body, and in metadata such as image alt text.
  • Publish Consistently. Teach web crawlers to come back to your site on a regular basis and improve your rankings over time by publishing regular content for site visitors to enjoy. Ranking higher in search results will help, and becoming a source to rely on for consistent content helps as well.

Let People Subscribe With RSS Feeds

An RSS feed is a tool to tell people that your blog has updated with new content, without them having to visit your website to find out. RSS is built into WordPress – all you need to do is tell your readers about it!

Every WordPress blog will have a feed that looks like this…

https://blogging.com/feed/

…that your readers can subscribe to via their favorite RSS feed reader.

Email Newsletter For Bloggers

We recommend capturing your readers’ email addresses and sending regular newsletters helps keep them up to date. This builds loyalty and brings readers back for more.

You’ll need a service to do that. We recommend Constant Contact, which we review here.

Checkout our guide to email marketing for bloggers.

Social Media For Bloggers

You cannot underestimate the power of social media.

Give your readers a way to share their favorite content with those they know and watch your blog’s traffic boom. In addition, provide links to your social media accounts so loyal readers can follow you and either interact with you on social media or again, share their favorite stuff with everyone else.

Two of the most popular social media platforms in use are Facebook and Twitter. You can add native videos to Facebook and cater to those that love to watch videos, you can Tweet instant updates on Twitter and invite followers to check out your new blog post. And most importantly, no matter which network you use, you can expand your reach to an audience base you never even knew about.

You’ll want a matching name to your domain name on Facebook and Twitter.

Social networks can drastically expand your blog’s audience. If you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you have a better chance of getting found, so you should be thinking about them as part of your blogging strategy.

How To Make Money Blogging

You can turn your WordPress blog into a fully functioning e-commerce store, if you want to. You can sell physical items, services, digital downloads, and even accept donations via WordPress.

Some other ideas:

  • Become an affiliate and make money for promoting products and services.
  • Sign up for Google AdSense, display ads on your website, and make money every time someone clicks on one.
  • Sell ad space to others in your industry so they can promote their products and services to your audience base.
  • Create a membership site and save your very best content for those willing to pay for it.

Check our out guide to make money blogging to learn more.

Happy Blogging!

That’s it. We ask for your help with three things:

  1. Spread The Word. If you found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or by email to anybody you think might need our help.
  2. Share Your Blog With Us. Please be sure to email us and share your new blog. We’ll be featuring the best new blogs with our readers.
  3. Sign Up For Our Newsletter. for tips and advice on how to grow your readership & even earn money from your blog.

What’s Next?

We’ve got great content that can help bloggers of all experience levels. Here are some of our most popular posts.

Learn About Blog Design

Learn About Creating Killer Content

Learn About Building An Audience

Learn About Hosting For Your Blog

Need Help Starting Your Blog?

Email us and we’ll do our best to help.

We promise to respond to every message we receive, but please be patient: we tackle your questions in the order we receive them!

Natalie has been blogging since before the word “blog” existed. Her work has been published on Engadget, Laptopmag.com, Tom’s Guide, and About.com. She lives in Southern California with her husband, their feline-American children, and a banjo.

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