This step-by-step guide on how to start a blog will get you set up and ready to start blogging in 10 minutes or less. I'll show you how to come up with an idea, choose your blogging platform, pick a domain name, find web hosting, select a theme and write your first post.
Of course, you can take a little longer and make sure you set off with the right idea, but if you're ready to get going, start your blog now! Why is blogging the best way to grow ANY business? I'll cover that too...
Hi, I’m Alison. This is me posing outside No. 10 as a Small Business 100 company. I’ve learnt over the years that growing a business is all about your online presence.
To be successful, a business needs to attract customers to buy its products or services. You can be the best at what you do but without customers, you don’t have a business.
I know this seems obvious, but so many new businesses launch their product, store, or service without any plan to find customers. The “build it and they will come” approach doesn’t work.
I launched a “bricks and clicks” business back in 2005 when internet usage was still brand spanking new. This business started as a side hustle and grew to a 7 figure turnover in a town with less than 2000 residents.
From the very beginning, I focused on building relationships with customers. I built my email list from Day 1, produced content-rich web pages loved by Google and later made the most of social media. Early on I decided to start a blog.
My blog made all the difference.
Starting a business blog is key.
Blogging isn’t the only way to attract customers but it’s the most effective. Instead of cold calling (yuck), paid ads (expensive) you can start a blog to build a social media following and the essential email list. Most importantly you can use your blog to turn customers into raving fans.
Read Everyone is Blogging, You Should Too to find out why blogging is essential for business owners.
Your blog can even become your business. I will show you the many ways you can monetize your blog, building a full-time income where you can work from home (or anywhere).
7 Steps To Start A Blog
This step-by-step guide to start a blog will get you set up in the time it takes for the paint to dry on your new business. Simply and quickly. I’m going to tell you everything I wish I knew when I started my first blog.
#1. Understand Why You’re Blogging
There are many different reasons to start a blog from grandstanding to the World and stroking egos, to being serious about using blogging to make a living.
As you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume you’re here to make some money. That you fall into one of these categories:
- You have an existing business and you want to boost your sales (just like all business owners) OR
- This is new. You want to start your first business.
Start A Blog For An Existing Business
If you have an existing business, starting a blog is an excellent way to engage with your existing customers and attract new ones. Take time to think about who is your typical customer and what you can help them with that’s directly related to your existing business.
For example, if you have a business selling cookware your customers will be interested in recipes, how to use and care for different cookware and how to choose the right cookware for their needs. Your customers will not be interested in what you did at the weekend and that it’s Maggie in Accounts 40th Birthday. Or at least not as much.
Start A Blog For A New Business
If it’s a new business, think about the type of business you want to run and why you’re starting a business. You need to be honest here. Blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme and needs a level of dedication. Starting a blog can be a business in its own right or can generate potential customers to launch and grow your new business.
Starting a blog first before you launch a business, is a way of hitting the ground running. Just think how much easier it is to make your business startup a success if you already have a big following of potential customers. Plus your blog can be a side hustle alongside your full-time job. It’s a way of starting your business without the risk.
Posts To Help You
These posts will help you think about what type of business you want to start:
It’s so important to make sure the type of business you set up matches your dream lifestyle. For example, my last business, a 7 figure ecommerce business with a small shop in the town where I lived, meant I could be at home when my son came back from school every day. A big plus. It did mean I was tied to one location with staff to manage and a shop to run.
Now that my son is 18, and about to leave home, I want a more flexible lifestyle. If I set up an ecommerce business now I would want to dropship and outsource to a virtual office for customer care. My goal is to travel more and get back into my mountaineering. To start a blog is the answer and will let me work from anywhere. Plus a blog can be monetized to create a terrific lifestyle.
This is my why…
Understand your why and move on to the next step…
#2. Decide What To Blog About
If you have an existing business your blog needs to relate directly to your existing customers and the customers you want to attract. These can be two very different types of people and you will have to try and balance your blog to appeal to both. Just remember it’s a business blog it needs to be written for the customer, not you.
With a new business, you need to take the same approach to start a blog except it will be harder to judge the interests and needs of your potential customers. Instead, you can develop and adjust your blog as potential customers start to respond to your posts.
What is the Purpose of Your Business?
Think about the purpose of your intended business and the niche it fits into. Come up with three main topics that fit into this niche and use these as the pillars for your blog. For example, if you’re establishing an independent bookstore, you could start a blog about the latest books you will be launching, favourite classic books and about the authors.
But what if you’re starting with a fresh canvas, writing a blog that you intend to monetize? How do you come up with a topic?
When it comes to creating a blog where your blog is your business the rules are harder to pin down. Your blog needs to have a customer base, fulfill a need and be something you’re interested in writing about. (It helps to be knowledgeable too). Other than that there really aren’t any hard or fast rules.
The blog Oddee is a collection of weird stories. It has a customer base of people who like to read weird stuff, it fulfills a need for entertainment and I’m sure the team at Oddee enjoy writing the stories. The blog has a massive following and it’s revenue comes from Ads. It’s a niche topic but importantly it’s one with high customer demand.
#3. Choose A Blog Platform
A blogging platform is the software used to publish your content on the internet. It’s also called a Content Management System (CMS) which makes a lot of sense because it basically edits and organises your blog posts.
To start a blog you need a host. This is the home of your website. You rent space for your website on a server, a device that manages a network of computers.
This link helps to explain your options. How To Create Your Business Website
Why I Recommend WordPress.org
I am a huge fan of WordPress and I’m not alone. WordPress powers around 28% of all websites. Yes, that’s a lot. When people talk about WordPress they mean the WordPress.org version, “the real WordPress”.
- It’s a platform that’s designed for blogging. You get complete control over your blog which is just how you want it for customization and making money.
- WordPress is an open source platform. This means it’s free to use and there are thousands of plugins (software add-ons) you can use to adapt and enhance the platform. Basically, whatever you want to do on your blog, someone somewhere will have designed a plugin to do it.
- A lot of these plugins are free. Great when you’re starting out.
- There are also thousands of themes available that you can use for your blog design. Many are free although it can be worth investing in a paid theme.
- WordPress is renowned for its Search Engine friendly platform – just what you need to rank highly on Google (and drive lots of lovely traffic to your site).
- It’s easy to install use and you can be up and blogging in no time.
- You do have to pay for hosting but the cost is really small. I recommend SiteGround for your first blog at a cost of just £2.95/month. That’s not much more than a Cappucino at your favourite coffee house to host your new business.
How Do I Set Up A Blog For Free?
You can start a blog with free hosting but “free” comes at a big cost.
The WordPress.com version of WordPress includes free hosting but customization is extremely limited. With this version, you are just borrowing space on the WordPress site.
- WordPress will run adverts on your site and you can’t use the blog to make money.
- You don’t own your site. WordPress.com can shut you down for breaking their rules at any time and you won’t have any come back.
A free blog will give a bad impression to your customers. All your hard work blogging will be wasted. It really is worth paying that small monthly fee for hosting.
If you’ve signed up for WordPress.com by mistake the good news is that you can migrate your site to WordPress.org really easily. The free to use SiteGround Migrator Plugin will transfer your site over in just a few clicks.
What If I Already Have A Website And Want To Add A Blog?
No problem. If it’s an existing WordPress site this is really easy to do. Grab a cup of coffee and follow the steps in the link below. You’ll be set before your coffee gets cold.
If your existing website isn’t a WordPress site you can still add a WordPress blog. The blog will sit in a subdirectory. For example, www.yourdomain.com/blog. It’s still easy to set up but I recommend you get your web developer to do it for you.
Your next step is to find your blog name.
#4. Pick A Domain Name
Coming up with a name for your blog can take forever. It’s easy to get bogged down trying to think of the perfect name. Or when you do come up with an idea, finding out that it’s been snapped up by someone else.
Your domain name is not that important when you start a blog.
But how can you say this? It just happens to be true. There are plenty of examples of excellent blogs with terrible names. Yet there are a few rules you need to follow:
- Don’t use hyphens. If you can’t secure www.bestblog.com don’t go for www.best-blog.com. Hyphens are hard to remember.
- Similarly, avoid misspellings.
- Avoid using numbers.
- Make sure the domain name looks right. www.fartogo.com could be remembered for the wrong reasons.
- Think about where your customers are before you pick a .com or .co.uk (or another country) extension. If you want to customers Worldwide .com is best. When your focus is on just one country, pick the best extension for that country.
If you have an existing business you will, of course, look for a domain name that matches your company name. When your domain name has been snatched up by someone else it’s really not that important. www.yourcompanynameonline.com will do the job.
Blog Name Generators
If you’re still stuck for an idea try a blog name generator such as NameMesh. Be warned, it’s a good way of losing a few hours as you hum and ha over the perfect name.
When you use SiteGround to host your blog, you can buy your domain when you sign up for hosting.
#5. Sign Up for Hosting
I’ve written a separate post about How To Choose The Best WordPress Hosting in 2019
This post explains the differences between hosting options and why speed, reliability, and security are so important.
My post Start A Business Blog In 9 Easy Steps will walk you through setting up a blog with WP Engine. I recommend WP Engine for established businesses and fast-growing blogs. If it’s your first blog SiteGround is an excellent choice.
I’m using SiteGround for my new lifestyle blog LoveLifeBeFit. Their support is incredible with an almost instantaneous live chat response rate. Amazing for this level of service provider.
I’ve signed up for their GrowBig Plan so I can test out different blog ideas.
The Get Started Plan includes a free SSL security certificate, free email, and free daily backups. It’s an excellent package.
Everything you need to be up and running quickly for the price of a coffee.
To get set up with SiteGround click on the link and choose your plan.
Choose the StartUp Plan or the GrowBig Plan if you think you’ll want to start more than one blog or need the extra hosting space.
Register a new Domain by entering your chosen Domain Name. Click Proceed.
You now need to review and complete your details. It’s all standard information until you get to the third box down hosting information:
Make sure you have the right plan selected. (I chose GrowBig) and the sign-up form is showing the right data center. I’m in the UK so my form shows London. The choices are Chicago, Amsterdam, London, and Singapore. You need the data center closest to where your customers are based.
Choose 12 months to get the full benefit of SiteGround’s competitive offer. I recommend adding SG Site Scanner for extra security but you can always add this later. Agree to the conditions and pay.
Go and make a coffee then head back and check your emails. You should see your purchase confirmation and this:
Launch the Wizard.
Confirm that you wish to install WordPress and SiteGround will install it for you. Better still get in touch with SiteGround’s top support team and get them to set up the site for you. Go To Live Chat.
Just ask the representative to set up your blog and send you the WordPress login details. And there you go. One WordPress Blog set up and ready to go!
Log into your account and take a look around. Your cPanel is the User Portal for your hosting with SiteGround. There’s a lot to take in. This portal allows you to manage your domains, security certificates, email hosting, and software.
Go back to your account page and Go To Admin Panel. This is where you login to WordPress. You may want to bookmark this page for speedy access.
This logs you into the backend of your blog. It’s where you design your blog and write your posts.
At the top of the page, you’ll see a little house icon next to your username. Hover over the icon and click on visit your new website.
#6. Choose A Theme
Not what you were expecting?
WordPress installs the default theme Twenty Seventeen on your new blog. Return to your dashboard and from the lefthand side-menu select Appearance > Themes. From here you can select > Add New Theme and search through the hundreds of free themes to find one you want to install.
Free themes are a good starting point but for a business, most companies will end up upgrading to a Paid theme.
I use the Genesis framework for my websites. It’s amazingly fast and StudioPress provide excellent support. Both my websites are built on the Mai Lifestyle Pro Theme. I love the Theme’s flexibility and find I can work with it easily with the Classic WordPress Editor.
There are 3 important things to think about when choosing a theme:
- Is it fast? You don’t want a theme that slows your website down. The popular theme Avada is a slow and bloated theme. Avada will load a tonne of stuff you just don’t need and slow your website down.
- Is it transferable? The popular theme Divi uses shortcodes to build your pages and posts quickly. The big problem is, that if you move to another theme in the future you will lose your work. These shortcodes are not transferable and won’t be recognised by the WordPress Editor or any other editor.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Great SEO and fully responsive design will encourage Google to rank your pages and drive traffic to your site. Google loves Genesis websites. Check out any of the top SEO experts such as Neil Patel and you will find they all use the Genesis framework.
StudioPress provide detailed setup instructions and video clips to help you get your theme up and running quickly. You can use their theme’s with the WordPress Classic Editor which is free and easy to use. Plus WordPress are about to launch Gutenberg, a new free editor with more features to help you create great looking posts.
There is another option if want more complex design features.
Elementor is one of the most popular drag and drop page builders. It’s simple to install and will allow you to customize the look of your pages and posts. No coding skills required. Best of all it’s free. There is a paid version but the free version provides all the features you need as a new blogger.
Pick A Theme That Matches How You Want Your Blog To Look.
To start a new blog, it’s best to pick a theme that’s a close match to how you want your blog to look. You don’t want to spend much time, in the beginning, trying to customize your theme. StudioPress have a whole range of themes to choose from. There really is something to suit every new business.
The look is less important when you start a blog. It’s only when you’ve built up some content that it’s worth spending more time working on the look of your website. All you really need is an About page, a Contact page and your blog.
Instead, it’s time to start writing.
#7. Start Blogging
From the left-hand menu select Posts > Add New. (You can delete the one called “Hello World”).
You will find an easy to use document editor, the WordPress Classic Editor. Enter a title, add some images and some text.
When you’ve finished hit the publish button. View your post…
And you’re away on your blogging journey…
If you’ve found this post helpful, I’d love it if you signed up for my newsletter for more tips and advice. Plus add a comment below to tell me how you’ve got on starting your blog! You can do this…