Start Your First Blog in 10 Easy Steps
Are you ready to start your first blog?
Blogging isn’t as difficult as you might be led to believe. As long as you like to write, it’s a very enjoyable thing.
What gets people is that they don’t often know where to start. You shouldn’t have to let something like that stop you from creating something as special as a blog. Your blog can make your life better. You can build an online reputation or even use it to make money.
Some people blog full-time and earn a very healthy wage doing it.
So, if you’re ready to start your first blog or improve your existing blog, check out my simple 10-step process in this guide.
Step 1: Choose a Niche Before You Start Your First Blog
Choosing a niche is the first step you have to take before you start your first blog.
The niche is the main topic(s) you will write about. I write about three topics: blogging, newsletters, and online communities.
Your niche can be determined by choosing your biggest passions and interests in life. Then you’ll research the audience for those passions to ensure demand is available online. Without an audience, it usually won’t be worth creating in that particular niche.
The reason why you should choose a niche that you’re passionate about is that you’ll have ideas to write about because you know the topic you’re writing about. If you choose a niche based on trends and don’t know anything about it, you’ll likely fail within the first year. This is because your competition will know a lot about it, and they will always stay ahead of you because of that.
You should also research the competition in your niche to determine what they are doing good at, what they are doing bad at, and what they are not doing that you could fill the gap in.
After you find your audience and your competition, you need to define the avatar of your audience. This means that you define your perfect reader. What will they seek on your blog? When you define your audience, it’ll be easier to be successful with your content because you’ll know who exactly to write for.
Consider your ability to profit after you start your first blog. Is the niche profitable? Maybe you don’t want to make money, but eventually, your blog may cost more money to maintain than what you initially spent to get it started. All bloggers should at least plan to make enough money to let it pay for their blogs.
At the end of the day, try to trust yourself and your intuition. That’s what really matters.
Step 2: Get Shared Hosting and a Domain Name
The next step to start your first blog is to get basic shared hosting and a domain name for your blog’s website.
I suggest DreamHost, the hosting service I’ve used for over fifteen years. Basic shared hosting costs about $5 a month, but you’ll get a pretty good discount if you pay by the year.
Remember that as your blog grows in popularity, you might have to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server or even a Dedicated Server. These will typically cost a lot more each month. This is why it’s important to have a monetization plan to help alleviate these costs further down the road. But when you start your first blog, shared hosting should be all you need for the first few years or more.
Now you need to choose a domain name. That’s the website! ShawnGossman.com is my domain name for this blog. It’s how people will go to your blog. I suggest using easy-to-remember keywords that directly relate to your niche. Don’t use hyphens or numbers because they’re typically hard to remember. You can use your name as an alternative, like I do, as long as you want to build your blog’s brand around your name.
A good domain name is something like GravelBikingBlog.com or ShawnGossman.com. A bad example of a domain name would be something like Gravel-Biking-Blog.com or ShawnGossman123.com.
Most domain names that are not taken will cost about $10 to $20 a year. Typically, the costs of a domain name never get any higher than that.
You want to ensure you choose the right domain name before launching your blog. Changing domain names in the middle of your blog’s existence will likely negatively impact your rank on search engines.
Ensure you choose a reliable hosting service and a great domain name that fits your niche.
Step 3: Install WordPress to Your Hosting Plan
Many different platforms are available for blogging, but WordPress will be your best choice.
There are two types of WordPress services. There is WordPress.com which offers a hosted version of the blog platform. And then there is WordPress.org which offers the platform as a downloadable software that you host on your hosting service using your domain name.
WordPress.com offers a free plan. It’s ad-supported, doesn’t have many features, and will not allow you to make money with the blog. You have to pay to get more access to features, ads removed, and monetization options.
WordPress.org is a free software. You get access to many features. There are no ads. And you can make money with it without having to spend money.
More than 40% of the internet uses WordPress. I recommend using it to start your first blog because it works for everyone else.
If you use DreamHost, you can quickly install WordPress software to your hosting and domain within less than 5 minutes. Or you can do it manually, and it will take maybe a half hour to an hour, pending any support you might need.
WordPress is used so much by so many people that finding themes, add-ons, and support for it will be an extremely easy step. That’s why I recommend it more than anything else.
WordPress, by far, is the best platform to use to start your first blog, and it’s super simple to use, too.
Step 4: Choose a Simple and Mobile Friendly Design
Try to choose a simple theme for your WordPress blog that’s mobile-friendly.
There are plenty of great free themes to use. You’ll never need to pay for a theme if you don’t want to.
However, premium themes typically have more features and allow for easier customization. I use Elegant Themes and have used them for more than a decade.
Elegant Themes has a theme called DIVI. Many bloggers use it. It has a robust editing feature for posts and pages. I find it easier to use than the built-in features on the default WordPress themes.
I like Elegant Themes so much that I have a lifetime license. The cost isn’t that high, either. The support is awesome. There are add-ons you buy to add to make your blog even better.
A blog theme shouldn’t just be easy to use for you. It should be simple for the reader. If the theme stops the reader from reading your content, then you are doing a bad job with your blog.
More than 90% of your readers will use mobile devices, regardless of your niche. To be successful, your blog should be mobile-friendly first. Make sure your theme looks great on mobile devices and offers just as many features as the desktop version offers.
Creating a simple-to-use and mobile-friendly look and feel for your blog is essential for its success.
Step 5: Create in Bulk Before Your Publish
After you choose your niche, install your blog on your website, and add a theme to it, you probably want to start adding new posts to your blog.
Stop! Hear me out before you start creating!
Before you start your first blog and launch it to the public, you want to make sure you have enough content created to stay ahead of the game.
What does this mean, and why does it matter?
It means you need to create many articles for your blog. I recommend creating anywhere from twenty to thirty articles before launching your blog. Getting that many articles done might take you a few weeks to a few months. That’s fine.
It matters because it allows you to schedule your content, find your consistency groove, and stay ahead of schedule while you create more content for your blog.
Consistency is a big deal with blogging. It doesn’t mean you have to post every day or every certain day. It means you must choose a comfortable posting schedule and stick with it consistently. Consistent posting schedules will tell your readers when to expect new content. It will also tell big search engines like Google when to come back and index your content for search engine ranking.
Posting a blog post every day is a significant challenge. I did it for over 100 days in a row. I learned a lot from it. But at the end of the day, I’ve found that my best consistency flow is posting three days a week. That might work for you, or it might be too much.
Experiment for the first few weeks and figure out what works for you.
By creating all those initial articles, you have room to figure out what consistency level you need to be at.
Step 6: Quality Before Quantity Content
After determining your consistency, you must fully grasp and understand content creation’s unofficial quality and quantity standards.
Quantity will never reign over quality when it comes to blog content.
Before you start your first blog, I recommend reading the other bigger blogs in your niche or industries close to your niche. Try to determine what makes their content so special. What makes their content great content?
Your blog posts must be created with the best possible content you can create. This might mean that it takes you longer to create an article. You might have to do more research on the topic. You might need more keyword research and SEO to get it right. But in the end, you’ll win by creating the best content you can create.
And you should never run out of ideas as long as you have an audience for your niche.
Simply go to your audience for new ideas. Ask yourself these questions: What are the biggest questions within your niche? What are the hardest problems within the niche? Tackle these issues, research them, and solve them. Then take that data and create the best blog post possible to easily answer your niche’s hardest questions and problems.
Do this every time, and you’ll win every time. Readers will be obsessed with you and your blog. You’ll be seen as an expert in your niche.
It’s all about quality when it comes to content, not quantity.
Step 7: Promote Your Blog
After you launch your blog, you need to find some readers to consume your content.
You do this through blog marketing and promotion tactics.
There are many different tactics to promote a blog. You can use a few or all of them. Using many different tactics to determine which ones work best for your blog is ideal. Just make sure you don’t spam. Spamming can negatively impact your blog for readers and search engines. It might even get you banned from your hosting service and even search engines like Google.
One great way to promote your blog is through social media. Create pages named after your blog and start to develop a following on the pages. You want to post native content more than promotional content because social media algorithms will work against you if you just post links to your blog. The idea of making social media work for blog promotion is by building a community on each social media channel you create, and then promoting your posts will be simple because your followers want to see more of what you make.
There are other ways to promote your posts without using social media. You can become a guest blogger on other blogs. Make sure you write content for those blogs like you would for your own. You’ll be seen as a generic blogger if you write generic content. You can also get interviewed on podcasting shows. This is a great way to promote your blog and you as an expert in your niche.
Search engine optimization is a great way to promote your blog. This is where you research keywords and add keywords to your blog content to gain a better ranking on search engines. Search engine optimization, or SEO, tells a search engine what your content is about. Sometimes you can do too much SEO, which can hurt your blog, but not doing any SEO might keep your content from being seen by people who want to read your content.
You can also pay for blog advertisements. You can buy ads on search engines like Google. You can buy ads on social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can buy video ads on YouTube. You can buy ads on other websites and blogs like yours, online communities, newsletters, and podcast shows. Buying ads is fine as long as you create goals for the ads and reach your goal; otherwise, you’re wasting money.
Every promotional tactic you take should have an end goal.
Step 8: Engage with Your Audience
You need to engage with your readers to keep reading your content.
People love it when they’re recognized and known by the people they look up to or follow. Yes, people will look up to you and follow you. Treat them well by being social with them.
Reply to every comment on your blog. This will be easy initially but might be more challenging if your blog gets busy enough. But as long as you can, you should reply to every comment on your blog posts. Try to leave more than just a “Thanks for reading.” Say something like “Thanks for reading; what was your favorite part of the post” or “Thanks for reading; what kind of content would you like to see next?”
You want to do what you can to keep a reader returning to your blog. Engaging with them using questions will help make that goal possible.
Offer other ways for your audience to be able to engage with you. You can do this by creating an online community around your niche. This could even be an opportunity to make money with your blog. You could reward your most active readers with free membership as ambassadors. They feel special, and you can turn them into marketing machines for your blog.
Get on social media because your readers are likely already there. You can use social media to easily engage with your audience.
Engagement will keep people around. Not engaging will surely discourage people from being active followers.
Step 9: Create a Newsletter
Create a newsletter around the topics of your niche for more blog views, community, and profit.
The thing about a newsletter is that you have access to a list of people and their contact information. If you do it right, you can use that list to generate traffic to your blog, create an online community, and even make money.
A newsletter is an important asset for most bloggers. Most big blogs that you see will have an established newsletter. They also start it early in their blogging careers, so you should start yours as soon as possible.
To gain and keep newsletter subscribers, the main content in your newsletter should be exclusive. It should be in alignment with your blogging niche but not content that is found on your blog. It should be different than what’s on your blog so that there is a reason to subscribe to the newsletter.
You might add additional resources, special offers, or exclusive content like that as your newsletter content. I also recommend adding articles to your newsletter but in smaller forms because most people will read them on their phones in scanning mode.
But do ensure that you link to previous blog posts and popular blog comments and share other content you have created elsewhere. This is all extra content on your newsletter, but it shouldn’t ever be the main content.
Send your newsletter out consistently. Maybe you want to send it once a week or once a month. Just make sure you choose a consistent day and time of the week or month.
Newsletters also give you the ability to make money. You can advertise your blog services and products and even sell ad space in your newsletter.
If your newsletter is worth enough, you can charge for subscriptions. I suggest you join a few paid newsletters before making one for yourself. You need to get a good idea of what makes the best-paid newsletter.
Newsletters mean more work but typically accompany some of the biggest blogs.
Step 10: Analyze and Optimize Your Blog
To understand the success of your blogging tactics, you should constantly analyze your blogging metrics.
This part of blogging tends to scare people away. The terms “analyze” and “metrics” sounds intimidating, to say the least. But it’s not that difficult to understand, learn, and master. You don’t have to be an engineer or a mathematician to be a good blog analytics reader.
You just need to understand what data you’re looking at and what it means for your blog.
Website traffic, for example, will show you your overall website visitor information. It will give you the number of visitors per day or however, or you adjust the timeframe. It will also give you unique visitors and pageviews. All this information can help you determine what posts are getting more visitors.
The demographics metric shows who is visiting your blog and its pages. You can see how they are visiting (what device, browser, etc.), where they are visiting from (country, state, etc.), and who is visiting (gender, age, etc.)
Bounce rates show the percentage of visitors leaving after viewing one page. This can be a bitter-sweet metric. It can mean that they’re getting their answer on your page and then leaving, or it can mean you’re not providing the answer, and they’re leaving to find it somewhere else. The lower your bounce rate is, the better your blog is.
You should also pay attention to social media metrics if you have social media channels for your blog.
And lastly, survey your audience and collect data. You can use this data to determine analytics just as you can with metric-based analytics.
What do you do with all these metrics and data points?
You use it to improve and optimize your blog. If a post gets more traffic than another post, you can create future posts to be like the high-volume post. It can help you get more traffic, improve your content, and even make more money.
The more you learn and use analytics to improve your blog, the better you will get at it, and it will become habitual.
And that sums up the 10-step process to start your own blog. Use the steps above to get your new blog going or even to revitalize your existing blog, and you’ll start to see success. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others to help support me. Consider subscribing to my free newsletter for more blogging tips.
About the Author
Shawn Gossman has created content, blogged, ran online communities, and shared a passion for digital marketing for over twenty years. Shawn believes the best way to help content creators, businesses, brands, and marketers is to give away more than you sell. The same advice is recommended for the readers that follow this blog. Shawn also offers a variety of services for extra help in the area of content creation, blogging, forums, and digital marketing. Learn more about Shawn Gossman by clicking here.
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