If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting your own blog for a while, stop getting in your own way and just take the plunge! If you have something to say, there’s no better time to express it than the present. You get a platform to voice your thoughts and build a community, all while making a little extra money.
But where do you even begin? There’s no dearth of articles on getting started with a blog. However, if the idea of going through chunks of information is keeping you from starting your blog, stop right there. Here’s a one-stop shop for all the things you may need to consider when starting your blogger journey. From choosing a platform, domain name and roping in traffic, read on to find out more.
What to Write About?
Before going into other details about starting a blog, have a clear idea of what you’re going to be blogging about. Of course, you could treat your blog like a personal diary and write about a variety of topics, but picking a Niche means you build a loyal community that comes to your blog specifically for what you have to provide. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger and someone is looking for fashion tips online, your blog is likely to come up in their search. If the person is satisfied with what you offer, there’s a greater chance they will come back to you for more.
How to Pick a Niche?
There are a few factors to consider when you’re picking a niche. Choose something you feel passionately about; this way you are less likely to run out of ideas and will enjoy the process of blogging. Remember, if your sole motivation behind picking a niche is money, you will burn out much quicker. Start by answering a few questions before deciding on a niche.
- What do you talk about most with your friends?
- What are your hobbies?
- What did you enjoy doing as a kid?
- What are topics you can talk about with some authority?
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
The answers to these question may give you a clearer idea of what direction to go in. But what if you have several things you feel passionately about and don’t know which to pick? Maybe this will help:
- Write out 10 headlines for each niche you have shortlisted.
- Draft out the actual posts to see if you can flesh those ideas out.
If you have trouble coming up with even 10 headline ideas, maybe that is not your niche. In the next step, if you can flesh out those ideas without feeling bored or frustrated, you may be looking in the right direction.
Picking a Sub-Niche
Once you’ve decided on your niche, you may realise its a vast area to explore. Besides, there may be several other bloggers out there writing about the same things. The trick is to find a sweet spot within that niche that hasn’t gotten as much attention.
For example, if you’re starting a blog about traveling, you can focus on budget traveling, or traveling in the hills or even solo traveling for women. By doing this you’re carving a niche that you specifically can fill. This narrows down your target audience, yes, but that also means you know exactly who you are writing for. If the content is engaging and informative enough, the target audience will return over and over.
Choosing a Blog Platform
Once you’ve picked a topic, half the battle has been won. From here on, you can chart your blogging roadmap. The next thing you need is a blogging platform. There are several options, both free and self-Hosting, starting from Wordpress, Blogger, Wix, Typepad and more. If you’re eventually looking to monetize and turn your blog into a profitable one, you should go with a free-hosting option.
While free blogs are easy to set up, they take away a lot of your agency. For starters, with platforms like Tumblr and Blogspot, you don’t own your domain name. Besides, you cannot fully monetize your blog and will have to let go of many videos and images you want to include in your blog. The best option, therefore, is to go with WordPress.org. It offers a host of plugins, add-ons and designs.
Why WordPress Is Ideal
With WordPress, you have the liberty to choose your design and layout from a wide range of free themes. It’s free, easy to use and has a minimal learning curve, so you can start blogging right away. WordPress also allows others to share your content, comment on it and generally interact with you.
If you’re looking to self-host, WordPress.org allows you to use its open source software, which you can download and run on your own server. This FAQ on the WordPress site will help you understand better. With a friendly user-interface and an incredibly helpful support forum, WordPress is especially ideal for beginners.
Picking a Domain Name
Now that you’ve picked a blogging platform, the next step is to pick a domain name. This is the URL users will type in to visit your blog. Pick a short and simple name that captures the essence of your blog. It should have good recall value, tick all the SEO (search engine optimization) boxes and eventually be brandable for when you start making money from your blog.
Picking Your Hosting Service
The next step is to pick the website that puts your blog on the internet. Most hosting platforms are compatible with WordPress and it only takes a single click of a button to install WordPress on your backend. Two hosting sites recommended by WordPress are SiteGround and Bluehost.
Things to Look out For: SiteGround vs Bluehost
Here are some factors to consider before choosing the ideal hosting platform:
Both Bluehost and SiteGround have been recommended for speed by various user reviews. SiteGround is equipped with advanced hardware, like SSD drives and custom software to enhance speed.
Bluehost has a vast collection of articles, guides and tutorials to resolve customer issues. SiteGround offers a 24/7 phone helpline, live chat and ticket-based support.
Bluehost has hosting plans that are affordable, especially for beginners. In fact, you even get a free domain name for a year after you sign up. However, their free domain renewal price is higher than the industry average.
SiteGround also offers plans in the same range as Bluehost, but there is a $14.95 set-up fee if you go with a monthly billing structure. For a greater discount, you have to sign up for a longer billing period.
Both Bluehost and SiteGround allow you to install WordPress with one click. Additionally, they both offer similar features like shared hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated servers, enterprise hosting and more.
If you’re a beginner, either platform is a good way for you to go, especially since they’re both priced roughly the same.
Installing WordPress is a very easy, user-friendly process. Once you’ve picked your hosting service, pick any WordPress installer tool like MOJO Marketplace or Quick Install.
Here are the steps to install WordPress on your hosting platform:
- Log into your hosting account.
- In your cPanel dashboard, scroll down to the website section.
- Click on the Install WordPress icon or 1-click Install.
- You will be taken to the installer tool you’re using where you will see the ‘Install’ button.
- Click the ‘Install’ button.
- You will be asked where you want to install WordPress.
- Select your domain name from the drop-down menu.
- The installer will run some checks before showing you the final step.
- Check the box next to ‘Show Advanced Options’ to expand it.
- Change settings like the site name, username and password, then click ‘Install Now’.
WordPress is now installed and ready to use! Here’s a handy guide to installing WordPress using different tools.
Getting Started on the Blog
With WordPress installed, you can set up your blog, choose themes and layouts and decide what the end user is going to see when you hit ‘Publish’.
The best thing about creating a blog is choosing the theme. WordPress has thousands of free and paid themes and layouts to choose from.
Plugins are additional features you can add to your blog. A simple blog can be enhanced to take bookings, create a table of contents, slideshows and more, just through plugins. Popular plugins for WordPress include Yoast SEO, Slider Revolution, NextGen Gallery and more.
Your writing is incomplete without the right visual elements. But unless you’ve clicked the photographs yourself, you want to avoid running into copyright issues. You can choose reusable images under a Creative Commons license; Flickr and Pixabay are the most popular options. You can also invest in royalty-free stock photos.
To drive traffic, you have to let people know what you’re doing. Ensure you’re on every social media platform to spread the word, but devote yourself to promoting your content on the platforms you think will provide the most returns. For example, if you’re writing a blog about fashion, you may find more of your target audience on Instagram and Pinterest.
Creating Quality Content
You can do everything right with your blog, but none of it will matter if your content doesn’t strike a chord with your audience. Here are some tips to make sure your content is sharp and inviting:
You could be writing about something common, but it’s important to give the audience something unique to take back. After reading your blog, the audience should feel they’ve learnt something new. If you’re writing about a trip you took, you could detail your itinerary or capture your experience through something striking – like learning about the life of your local guide or ordering food in a foreign language.
Learn by Example
Think of a blog you enjoy reading. What makes this blog work for you? Is it the writing style, the topics, the consistency? The best bloggers are those who learn from their community. It helps to attend meet-ups and webinars to stay abreast of what’s new in the blogging world.
Create Killer Headlines
Your headline carries the post on its shoulders. It has to lure the reader into going through the rest of the post. Write a headline that’s captivating. It could be a question or even a pun, but it should be good enough to invite the reader in.
Once you’re done writing your post, make sure your audience can find it. Include primary keywords in your headline, URL and body. You can also add links to other internal pages, so the reader stays on your blog for longer.
Here’s a handy list of ideas to spark content if you need inspiration.
How To Monetize
Now that your blog is up and running, you’re probably wondering how you can monetize it. Remember, don’t worry about making money right away; it’s a process that takes time and patience. Here are some ways to make money blogging:
The images flashing on the sidebar, top, middle and bottom of a webpage are advertisements. You can get advertisements on your blog page through portals like Google Adsense.
Ads work on a pay-per-view and per-click format; if readers come through your blog and view an ad or click on a link, you get paid. But advertisements cannot be your primary source of income. It’s not as rose-tinted as $1 per click. You will need a footfall of millions to turn a profit from advertisements alone. Besides, too many pop-ups and ads on your blog page could turn readers away.
When you add links to relevant products in your blog posts, it’s called affiliate marketing. For example, if you’re writing a post about gardening, you can add links to the best equipment available on Amazon. When readers go from your blog post to the Amazon page and make a purchase, you earn a commission. This is a popular way of monetizing content. It’s an efficient, symbiotic system.
Make sure the products you’re linking are relevant to the blog post. By doing this, you’re building a narrative around the product and a case for why the reader should buy it.
You can tie up with other businesses and service providers to pay you for recommending their product on your blog. This could be a physical product, an event or service, for a flat fee. For example, if you’re writing a travel blog, you can tie up with a tourism company which could sponsor your trip or pay you a fee to write about your experiences. But how do you get sponsors to work with you?
Join a blogging network, create situations where you can meet and make contacts in the ad network. Once you start building your network of contacts, start sending out pitches that will make people want to work with you. Make your pitch crisp and unique.
Selling a Product or Service
You can sell anything on your blog. However, the onus is on you to create the product or service, set up a payments system and promote the product. On the plus side, you get to keep all the profits.
For example, if your blog is about cooking, you can encourage your readers to buy a collection of recipes from your kitchen, or seeds from your herb garden.
This is not a very common practice, but you can bring together a community of bloggers and readers for a paid event – for instance, a pro-blogging event or a screening. Alternately, you can find a sponsor for the event.
This works once you have enough of a following. You can create a paywall for readers to access premium content, offers on products, coaching, etc. This builds a small community of loyal readers who are interested in what you have to offer. For this to work, you have to keep the quality consistent.
When earning money from your blog, the best option is to diversify. Most full-time bloggers use multiple streams of income to monetize their blog. This is a smart way to go because you will have a backup if any one of the sources of income doesn’t work out.
Here’s a quick summary of everything we discussed so far.
Pick your blog’s niche, domain name and hosting platform. Now that you have logistics out of the way, get started on customising your blog with themes, plugins, images and more. Don’t forget to step out of your blog and invite readers on social media!
When it comes to monetizing your blog, you can go several ways – advertisements, affiliate marketing, sponsored content and more. With this extensive guide, you are now ready to start your blog and make money. Remember, it can be very rewarding if you focus your energies in the right places. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and say what you need to say!
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