This step-by-step guide on how to start a blog will get you set up and ready to start blogging in 15 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.
Why is blogging the best way to grow ANY business and how do you make money from blogging? I’ll cover that too…
Hi, I’m Alison.
7000+ people have shared this Start A Blog Guide. How amazing is that! This quick start blogging 101 guide works if you want to start a blog to make money or if you want to drive traffic to an existing business.
This is me posing outside No. 10, the Prime Minister’s Residence in the UK as a Small Business 100 company.
It’s one of the unusual things that can happen to you when you start a tiny business.
Starting an online business changed my life and the key to my success was blogging. I grew my tiny eCommerce business to a 7 Figure turnover.
Online Blogging Guide 2020
This post will show you how you can start your tiny business today! You can follow my online blogging guide 2020 right now, or if you don’t have time to take action today, download my FREE Start A Blog Guide. It contains all the information in this post plus an extra section on making money from your beginner blog.
Start A Blog To Get Your Life Back
Before I started my first business I was travelling to Dublin or London every week and leaving my baby son with his daddy. I hated it. I used to cry on the way to the airport.
Does this sound familiar…
- I never had enough time with my family.
- Weekends were over far too quickly.
- It was always a long wait until the next holiday.
There had to be a better way to make a living…
I devoured articles about business, filled notebooks with dreams… then one day I finally realized the easiest way to start a business was online!
I started a tiny business. An eCommerce store run from a shop so small you couldn’t swing a cat in it, right up near the Scottish border.
Taking that first step was scary. I often felt overwhelmed and there seemed to be so much to learn… but I never looked back.
- I got my life back.
- I was no longer working to someone else’s timetable.
- There were no bosses telling me where to go or what to do.
- I was there every day when my son came home from school.
- I wasn’t tired all the time from juggling a demanding job with the needs of my family.
My son is now 19 and he’s serving with the RAF. He’s the first to tell you his childhood was a blast. It was filled with climbing trips and exploring bike trails all over Scotland.
These days my focus is on blogging and that’s what I want to help you with. To show you how to go from having no idea to creating a full-time blogging income.
I’ve helped thousands of students with my free guides and I’ll walk you through setting up your blog, step by easy step. No coding, expensive themes or web designers required.
Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Bluehost, the hosting provider I recommend in this tutorial. This means I get a commission if you sign up for hosting through my link. It helps to fund my free guides and it’s at no extra cost to you. You get an amazing discount of up to 50% off if you use my link, plus you get a free domain name.
That’s one terrific deal. Bluehost is the top provider recommended by WordPress. I’m using the hosting on one of my new blogs – it’s the best hosting for beginner bloggers. Click and read to find out more:
Work your way through this free guide and you’ll be set up with a blog in no time!
Prefer videos? I’ve created this step-by-step video for you to follow, “How to start a blog in 7 easy steps”. Let’s get started!
Getting started with a blog doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s easy to overthink it. You can spend ages trying to come up with “your big idea”.
You need to take the plunge. Leap right in. Set up a simple blog and write about popular topics people want to read. It’s really that easy.
The hard part is being consistent, sticking at it and writing regularly.
The complicated stuff, (email lists, landing pages, opt-ins, A/B testing), can come later. For now, you just need to start.
Think of it this way… the longer you have a blog, the more money it’s capable of making.
And the best thing about blogging? It’s passive income. I make money while I sleep and I have the freedom to work from anywhere. This could be you…
If you don’t have time to read the full guide right now, download my FREE Start A Blog Guide. It contains all the information in this post plus an extra section on making money from your beginner blog.
Start A Blog – Blogging To Make Money From Home
My new lifestyle blog is an example of how you can make money blogging from home. I made my first income with this brand new blog within 41 days of launching.
I started the lifestyle blog to demonstrate my methods for making money from home. No get rich quick schemes or exaggerated income reports, just a realistic look at how you can make money from blogging.
My blog hit 20,000 Pageviews in just my second month of blogging.
By blogging about topics people wanted to read about and promoting my posts on Pinterest.
It’s really that simple. Write terrific content, promote your posts and find a way to convert your traffic into money.
It’s not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to make money from blogging but blogging is a tremendous way to build up a side income.
An extra income of $500 to $1000 per month is achievable for most people with a little time and effort. Stick at it and you can turn your blog into a full-time income.
Start A Blog – Blogging For Business
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.
When I launched my eCommerce business years ago I used a blog to attract and build relationships with customers.
It made all the difference.
Starting a 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.
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).
How To Start A Blog In 7 Easy Steps
- Choosing The Right Blog Topic
- Build Your Blog
- Your Essential Guide To WordPress
- Write Your First Blog Post
- Your Blog Design and Theme
- Choose Your Email Service
- Start Making Money
#1. Choosing The Right Blog Topic.
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.
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 – To Make Money From Blogging
It’s the question I’m always asked – “What’s the best topic for my blog”. I’m going to make this easy for you… there isn’t a wrong answer!
What do I mean by that?
I’ve seen people make money blogging about just about anything. You just have to stick to a few rules:
- Your topic has to have an audience. People have to be interested in the topic you’re writing about.
- The audience has to be big enough. It’s a good sign if other people are blogging about your chosen topic.
- Your blog has to help people in some way – entertain, inform, provide answers or solutions. The easiest blogs to grow relate to basic human needs; relationships, security and self esteem.
It helps if your topic is something you love talking about. My lifestyle blog is mainly about health and fitness. I’ve been a runner since I was 15 and I could talk about it all day.
If it’s a topic you know really well, you’ll find it much easier to write helpful blog posts. Posts that provide value to your readers. That’s what blogging is all about and that’s what makes money.
These are some of the best known profitable blog topics:
- Personal finance
- Health and Fitness
- Diet and nutrition
- Food and healthy eating
- DIY and crafting
- Home Decor
- Beauty and fashion
- Personal development
- Relationship advice
If the topic you want to blog about isn’t on this list don’t fret. It’s definitely not a complete list. You can make money blogging about anything if there’s an audience out there waiting to hear from you.
Starting is the best way of finding out what works. You can always change track later by adding a new topic. Pick two or three topics on the list and you’re ready to start!
ZINGER: Niche down and add a personal angle.
Niching down and adding a personal angle is a way to stand out from the crowds and really own your topic.
How does this work?
The best way to explain is to give you an example:
Let’s say I choose the topic running. There are tons of blogs about running! But I can niche down by writing about women running.
Next I add a personal angle, I’m a 50+ runner.
My blog topic becomes: Running for women at 50+
Here are some more examples:
- Diet & Fitness for 40+ Women
- Relationship Advice for Male Students
- Budget Ideas for Stay At Home Moms
Now you can overthink this and get stuck at the idea stage. A version of purgatory where no idea is ever quite right. Waste years of your time filling notebooks with dreams – just like I did.
Or you can go with your gut instinct. Pick an idea and GET STARTED. Remember everyone learns best by doing…
#2. Build Your Blog.
You need two things to build your blog:
Blogging Platform + Hosting
A blogging platform is where you edit your content and organise your blog posts.
Hosting is the home of your website. You rent space for your website. It’s a bit like renting a store on a busy high street. Except your store will be on the World Wide Web.
We’re going to use WordPress and Bluehost
WordPress will be your blogging platform and Bluehost is the perfect choice for hosting your first blog.
- 95% of all bloggers use WordPress. Yes, that’s a lot. It’s really the only choice if you want to start a successful blog.
- You get complete control over your blog which is just how you want it for making money.
- There are thousands of free themes and plugins, (software add-ons), you can use on your blog making it extremely powerful and easy to customize.
- Google loves WordPress. It’s a Search Engine friendly platform – just what you need to rank highly on Google (and drive lots of lovely traffic to your blog).
- Bluehost is the perfect startup host for new bloggers and has 24/7 support.
- It’s easy to install and use. You can be up and blogging in no time.
But How Do I Set Up A Blog For Free?
Now you can start a blog with free hosting but “free” comes at a big cost.
Just don’t do it if you want to be a successful blogger.
If you’re blogging for your church, for your family and friends, or you just want to get a bit of practice, you can start a blog on Blogger.
For anything else a free blog will make your blogging journey so much harder:
- It gives a bad impression to your visitors. They won’t stick around.
- You don’t own your domain. It’s like building a business somebody else owns.
- You can only set up adverts after 6 months, (on Blogger and not at all on other free sites).
- Other ways of making money will be limited.
- Your site will be slow with less bandwidth. This will limit your growth.
- Convinced or do you want me to go on?…
Yes it’s possible to start a blog for free but I haven’t come across a single blogger who made any serious money going down the “free” route.
If you value your time, don’t waste it starting a blog for free. You’ll only regret it.
Think about what you really want. Do you want to be a successful blogger? If so, you really need to sign up for hosting.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog?
One reason blogging is my favorite tiny business is the cost and ease of startup. I can’t think of any other tiny business you can start for less than $100 and be up and running in 15 minutes!
Of course it will take you longer to write posts, attract followers and add your money making machine. Yeah, no-one said this was going to be really easy!
As my Gran used to say, “If it’s easy, everyone would be doing it”. If you want to make money you have to be up for a challenge. This isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme.
The only essential purchase when you start your brand new blog is hosting. Everything else is optional.
Blogging Costs For The First Few Months
These are the essential ingredients you need to start your blog and start building followers:
- Blog hosting – starting at $71.40 for the first 12 months with my 50% discount.
- FREE – your blog theme. You can opt for a paid theme but I don’t recommend it for the first few months.
- FREE – email list. You can opt for a paid email list provider but it’s not essential right away.
In the world of blog hosting not everything is equal. Speed, security and reliability are the essential ingredients of good hosting.
You can read all about the technical details of choosing hosting in my article:
Or you can take my word for it and sign up with Bluehost. It’s my top choice for beginner bloggers.
- They hit my basic criteria for hosting – speed, reliability and security.
- It’s the No. 1 hosting company recommended by WordPress.
- The set up is geared around complete beginners
- They install WordPress for you,
- Make sure your site is set up as https with a free SSL certificate,
- Set your permalinks correctly to postname so you post urls are https://yourdomain/postname.com not some random number or date.
- You get a free domain for the first year and they take care of all the techy setup for you.
- There’s 24/7 support
- It’s really affordable and you don’t get hit by high renewal charges.
- Their plans have unmetered bandwidth so you won’t have to worry about upgrading to a more expensive plan until your site’s huge and successful. (I use SiteGround for my LoveLifeBeFit site but I’ve already had to upgrade twice – and it’s not even a big blog yet).
Even better, you can get up to 50% off hosting:
Click the link above and it will take you to the Bluehost site. Your discount will be applied automatically. You need to visit via this link to get the deal.
Click the green “Get Started” button.
Choose Your Bluehost Plan
Pick the Basic plan and click the green “Select” button. Next you need to enter your domain name.
Pick A Domain Name
If you haven’t thought of a domain name yet it’s fine. You can skip this section.
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 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? Well 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 customers Worldwide .com is best. When your focus is on just one country, pick the best extension for that country.
Bluehost makes helpful suggestions if your exact match isn’t available.
Set Up Your Bluehost Account
Here you need to fill in your details and confirm your plan. Next to savings you’ll see your discount has been applied.
You need to pick at least a 12-month plan. That’s a good thing. It’s going to take 3 to 6 months to really make an impact with your blog. Signing up for 12 months will help you see the real benefit of blogging.
You’re excited about this right? Well now you need to show some commitment.
If you can afford it, select the 36-month plan and get the higher 50% off discount.
NOTE: Bluehost has a 30 day guarantee. You can cancel your plan at any time within the first 30 days and get a full refund of your hosting costs.
Leave the package extras unchecked. You can always add them later. You may want domain privacy. It’s not essential if you live in the UK or the EU.
Enter your payment details and check the box to agree to Bluehost’s Terms of Service. Hit the green “Submit” button.
Congratulations you’ve signed up for hosting! The first step along the way to starting your blog.
The next steps will ask you to set up a password for your new account. Pick one that’s secure and make sure you can remember it.
Set Up Your WordPress Site
There’s just a few steps left before Bluehost builds your WordPress site. Login to Bluehost and you will be asked to pick a theme.
You can pick any theme – they’re all free and it’s easy to change your theme later. I’ll show you how in the next section.
If you don’t want to choose one now just skip this section.
Click on “Start Building” and Bluehost will install WordPress for you.
Bluehost will ask you a few questions about what your site’s for, such as business or personal and do you have any WordPress experience. Your answers are not important.
Site Name And Tagline
Next Bluehost will ask you to fill in your site name and tagline. Here’s an example of mine – you just need a simple description of what your site is about.
Don’t overthink it. You can change your name and tagline later.
Make sure you select the blog option!! Skip the online store option.
Set Up Your Homepage
You’ll be prompted to choose between a static homepage or for your homepage to show your latest blog posts.
You can change this easily later, (again I’ll show you how), and most themes use a static homepage but for now you just want to start blogging.
Select the option for your homepage to show your latest posts.
The Final Steps
Bluehost will ask if you want to set up a Contact Us page. It’s just not a priority at the moment. I suggest you select no.
You may also be asked if you want to set up an account for Jetpack. My advice again is no. It’s a really bloated plugin and will slow your site down. There are better options.
You can use the WordFence plugin to bump up your security. I’ll show you how to install the free version in the next steps. It’s all you need at the moment.
Check your email account and find the email from Bluehost asking you to verify your email address. Do this as soon as possible or Bluehost won’t be able to set up your domain.
There will also be a second email about your purchase. Keep this safe. It has all the hosting details for your site. Grab a coffee and wait while Bluehost installs WordPress for you. It’s about to get exciting!!!
Login to WordPress
When the installation is complete you can login to WordPress. There are two different ways to log in to WordPress; via your Bluehost account or directly.
Method 1 Log in via your Bluehost account
Go to Bluehost.com and login using the Username and password you used at the start. Click on the blue button to Log in to WordPress.
Method 2 Login directly to WordPress
Login directly by going to:
(Bookmark this login page for future reference).
This logs you into the backend of your blog. It’s where you will design your blog and write your posts. From now on this guide will be relevant to all WordPress users.
#3. Your Essential Guide To Start A Blog With WordPress.
When you login to WordPress you’ll find yourself in the dashboard. 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.
The way your site looks will depend on which theme you selected. If you didn’t select a theme, WordPress will install the default Twenty Twenty theme on your new blog. It will look a bit like this:
Not what you were expecting?
There’s a lot I like about this recent theme created for the new WordPress Gutenberg editor but it still has it’s limitations.
Instead, I’m going to show you how to setup an excellent FREE theme in the next step but there’s a few things we need to take care of first.
Make Sure Your SSL Certificate Is Installed
Bluehost provides a FREE SSL certificate and they install it automatically when you build your site.
This provides the secure padlock sign on browsers when customers visit your site. Take a look at your browser and it should look something like this.
When you first install WordPress you may have a temporary domain name for a day or two until your selected domain is fully propagated.
You can still go ahead and start working on your blog, just keep checking until you see the padlock sign and your selected domain name.
Your WordPress Dashboard
Return to your WordPress dashboard by clicking on the name of your site (top left) and selecting dashboard.
There’s a lot to take in! Don’t worry. You’ll soon get used to it.
The dashboard seems super complicated but in reality it’s been laid out really well and you’ll soon find it easy to use (honestly)!
Key to your dashboard
#1 At A Glance
This area tells you what your theme is. You’ll also get information on numbers of posts and pages plus any updates.
Here you add and edit your posts. Your posts are your articles and will be the main content of your blog.
Your posts are organised into categories so people can search for the topics they are interested in. Normally it’s best to create just two or three categories but you may need more if you’re setting up a broad topic blog.
For example my Love Life Be Fit blog has as many as 6 categories:
- Gear Reviews
- Healthy Eating
You can use tags to divide your posts into more specific sub topics.
This is where you upload images. It also contains your library of images.
Here you can add and edit pages. Pages are used for your “static content”. This is the content you don’t update or change frequently.
- About Page (who you are and what your blog is about).
- Privacy Page (this is a legal requirement). You will also need a Disclamer Page as soon as you start selling.
- Contact Page (this is a good idea if you want your readers to be able to contact you).
The area where you moderate comments left by your followers.
This is the part that changes everything about how your blog looks from applying a new theme to creating menus and adding widgets. Widgets are drag-and-drop content areas that can be added to a WordPress site when its plugin is installed and activated
This is where you install new plugins. Plugins are software add-ons that enhance your WordPress blog by adding extra features.
Here you can manage users for your site.
This section needs to be set up correctly from the beginning– the key details for how your site is set up. The steps are explained in the next section.
#10 Your recent activity
Any recent changes you make to your blog will be listed in this area.
Your WordPress Settings
Go to Settings > General on your dashboard.
The default settings here are generally okay. You might want to remove the tagline. You can change your time zone to match your local zone which is useful if you ever schedule posts.
For most people your WordPress address and Site address will be the same and will start with HTTPS. If not make sure your SSL certificate is installed.
Remember to Save Changes.
Go to Settings > Writing. Here you can set your default post categories. At the moment you don’t have any categories so you can return to this section later.
Go to Settings > Reading. Make sure the Search Engine Visibility is On. (The box is unchecked).
IMPORTANT: If you tick this box by mistake you will not get any search engine traffic.
For each article in feed select Full Text. Save Changes.
Go to Settings > Discussion. Decide if you want to allow comments.
The problem with comments is receiving lots of spam and it can be hard to build up an active comments section. But when it works comments are terrific for interaction and engagement.
The plugin Askimet Anti Spam is a terrific way of preventing spam comments and for new bloggers you can install it for free. My view is anything that helps to build traffic is a good and comments are enabled on all my blogs.
I have closed comments on articles older than 30 days which helps to limit targeting of my site for spam. These are my Simply Hatch settings:
Another tip is to disable pingbacks and trackbacks. Pingbacks and trackbacks allow other blogs to notify you whenever they link to you. It might sound good but these are not very helpful and spammers will happily use them to send heaps of spam your way.
Go to Settings > Media. This is where you can change the default sizes for your images. These will normally be set by your chosen theme.
Go to Settings > Permalinks. These settings you want to change once then never touch again. Changing them later would mean creating redirects for all your posts and pages. These settings determine the style of your permalinks.
Select Post Name and Save Changes
(Bluehost normally sets this for you automatically but it’s best to check).
Go to Plugins > Installed plugins
Here you can choose to deactivate and delete any plugins you don’t need. If Jetpack has been installed delete it now.
Your WordPress hosting may have installed a security plugin during setup, for example SiteLock. It’s essential to keep this plugin.
Alternatively Wordfence is a good security option and has a free version.
Your chosen theme may require specific plugins such as a form builder. There are a few options for form builders, all free such as Contact Form 7, Ninja Forms and WPForms. These are all good options.
Go to Plugins > Add New
Install Askimet Anti-Spam by searching for Askimet, clicking install now, waiting a few seconds then clicking activate.
This is the best anti-spam plugin. You will have to create a free account to finish the installation. The default settings are fine.
Install Yoast SEO. You only need the free version to get started. It’s the only SEO tool you need for your website.
The default settings are fine.
Install a Google Analytics plugin. If you search for Google Analytics a number of different options pop up. I’m currently using analytify. I chose it because it has a solid 5 star rating, it was updated quite recently and has quite a high number of active installations. It seems good.
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account yet sign up for one here. It may not seem important at the moment but at some stage you will want to look back and see how your blog grew from the beginning. These are the key plugins to get you started.
#4 Write Your First Blog Post.
Before you dive into designing your blog my top tip is to start writing your first blog post.
- It’s really difficult to see how your blog will look until you have some material on your blog.
- The most important part of your blog is content.
- People get lost perfecting their blogs and waste a heap of time.
- The way your blog looks is not as important as you think it is.
You don’t need to overthink writing your first post. Keep it simple. Maybe start by just writing about yourself and why you’ve started this blog.
Your first post is practice at writing. There’s every chance you’ll go back and edit your first post in a few months time.
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 new Gutenberg Editor.
Enter An Eye-Catching Title
This title “Running Tips For Beginners” is okay but it’s easy to do better:
- 9 Running Tips For Beginners Who Hate Running
- How To Start Running When You Haven’t Run Since School
- 6 Running Tips To Make You Fall In Love With Running
Try and make your title really stand out. You need to grab people’s attention.
Tips, how-to posts and list articles are the most popular type of post and also the easiest to write. If you’re solving a problem, people will want to read your post.
The Gutenberg editor uses blocks to add content. Click on the plus sign to choose a new block:
Add some images and text. Your first post doesn’t need to be very long. It’s better to add a few short posts to your blog in the beginning. You can build up at adding longer posts later.
When you’ve finished hit the publish button. View your post…
Whoop whoop! You’ve written your first blog post. Try and write 2 or 3 posts before you’re distracted by the deep pit of blog design…
#5. Your Blog Design And Theme.
There’s no one size fits all answer to blog design. Instead your design will reflect your own vision and creativity.
The best way to find inspiration is to search for blogs in your chosen niche. It helps to have a clear idea of the type of blog you want to create.
If you’re not sure at this point, don’t worry about it. You can install the free theme I recommend below and just start blogging.
After your first few months you’ll have a better idea of how you want to shape your blog. That’s the best time to start focusing on your blog design.
Start A Blog – The Different Types Of Blogs
You can split blogs into four main types:
- The influencer blog
- The magazine style blog
- A mix of influencer/magazine style
- The business blog.
The Influencer Blog
This is for people who aspire to own their niche. It’s a blog where the author is center stage and their experience is central to the advice provided on the blog.
Backlinko falls into this category.
Brian Dean is an authority in his niche of SEO. His picture is the first thing you see and his influence is confirmed by testimonials.
It’s a very clever blog with his homepage designed around getting you to sign up for his email list.
This style of blog is difficult to pull off if you’re a new blogger. Simply Hatch has a similar style and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to get the website to perform.
I suggest you choose one of the other styles for your first blog. Setting up my lifestyle blog Love Life Be Fit over the summer was a walk in the park compared with the work that goes into Simply Hatch.
The Magazine Style Blog
Tiny Bhuddha is a wonderful example of a magazine style blog. You have to go digging to discover who owns the blog. Instead there’s an assault of wonderful and varied posts to read by several different authors.
It’s a great choice of style if you want to create lots of content without writing about yourself. There’s no image of the owner Lori Deschene anywhere on the blog, (at least I couldn’t find one!), adding appeal for the camera shy.
The blog is filled with easy to write how-to articles, tips and list posts. There are several authors but you could create something similar in your own niche by churning out lots of short articles.
Love Life Be Fit is a magazine style blog although I do have an image of my back on the homepage!
A magazine style blog only works if you produce a high volume of material. Opting for a mixed influencer/magazine style blog will work best for most new bloggers.
Mixed Influencer/Magazine Style Blog
This style is the best option for new bloggers. It’s the easiest way to make a lasting impression with your readers. You’re adding your personal touch to helpful and informative posts.
A picture on your homepage isn’t essential, but instead of the professional photograph required for an influencer blog, a small snapshot will work just as well.
A Cup Of Jo is an excellent example of this type of blog:
The first thing you’ll notice about A Cup Of Jo is the blog has a very simple layout. The latest posts are on the homepage. The top menu links to different categories.
Don’t be deceived by it’s simplicity. The owner Joanna Goddard has grown the blog to over one million monthly unique visits and five million monthly pageviews! What started as a weekend hobby now employs a team of writers.
I will show you how to create a similar blog in the next section.
The Business Blog
If you have an existing business, starting a blog is the best way to grow traffic. I used blogging to grow my last business to a 7 figure turnover.
Blogging is a terrific source of organic FREE traffic.
It’s important when you start a business blog to have a good idea of the different types of customers you’re trying to attract.
Sketch out their avatars, give them names, personalities, list their interests, their needs, their wants. Then go and write articles aimed at the characters you’ve created.
Howies has always been excellent at writing interesting posts aimed at the customers they want to attract. People who enjoy the outdoors and will be open to buying their ethically sourced products.
A business blog is a good way of building your startup story. Adding in reasons to buy your products without going down the hard sell route.
Start A Blog With A FREE Theme
In your dashboard, from the left hand 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.
There’s a tremendous choice and it’s a good way to waste a few hours!
I used to think FREE themes had their limitations but then I discovered GeneratePress. It really rocks. It’s a simple lightweight theme that’s so easy to use. Perfect for beginners.
The best bit is the free version will get you set up and blogging on your site in minutes, it’s that user-friendly.
If you do crack and start looking at paid themes, (and I’m sure you will), the Pro Version of GeneratePress is a steal at just $49. (Paid themes can cost three times this much).
You gain full access to their library of demo sites such as this one:
Or this one:
Just upload the demo and you’re good to go.
The brilliance of GeneratePress is you can start with the FREE version and just add in the Premium modules when you need them.
There’s no need to start afresh with a whole new theme. No need for complicated staging environments because you’re just enhancing your existing theme.
Best of all you can really unleash your inner designer, without learning how to code, by combining GeneratePress with the page builder Elementor.
This is an example of a demo site created using Elementor + GeneratePress:
Elementor is the only page builder I recommend. Unlike some page builders, it won’t slow down your site and it can be a great tool when you first start using WordPress. As a beginner blogger, all you need is the FREE version.
How To Install Your FREE Theme
My video at the top of this post gives you a quick run through showing you how to install and edit GeneratePress.
Once you’ve installed the theme, go to Appearance > Customize. This is where you can edit the look of your blog.
You can change the Site Title, Tagline, upload a logo and a site icon (favicon) by selecting Site Identity.
In the layout section you can change your header and navigation location. You can also decide if you want your posts to fill the full width of the page or if you want a sidebar. Play around with the settings. The changes will only go live if you hit the Publish button.
You can change text colors and fonts, the color of the navigation bar and there’s lots of spaces for adding widgets. (This will become important as you grow your blog).
You can make all these design changes with the FREE theme. How good is that!
There’s also an excellent how-to guide on the GeneratePress website. It’s really easy to follow and GeneratePress have a good support section on their site.
Start A Blog With A Paid Theme
I use the Genesis framework for my Simply Hatch and Love Life Be Fit websites. It’s amazingly fast and StudioPress provide excellent support.
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).
- Is it transferable? The well known theme Divi uses a lot of shortcodes. These shortcodes are not transferable and you’ll lose all your work if you move to a new theme.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Great SEO and fully responsive design will encourage Google to rank your pages.
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 provides detailed setup instructions and video clips to help you get your theme up and running. They also provide excellent support.
You can use their themes with the recently launched WordPress Gutenberg Editor, which is free and easy to use and has new features to help you create great looking posts.
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 blogger.
It’s best to start off blogging with a FREE theme until you’re confident you know how you want your blog to look. When you’re ready to take on a Pro Theme you’ll be in safe hands with StudioPress.
#6. Choose Your Email Service.
Email is an important tool for any blogger. I can hear the chant “Grow your list” as I type. On any blogging site you’ll find someone telling you the “Money is in the list”.
The idea is when people visit your site, you persuade them to sign up for your newsletter list. Enticing readers with downloadable freebies is a big part of this tactic.
You provide valuable information to your readers and by sending out helpful newsletters, your readers keep returning to your site.
This is how I grew my eCommerce store to a 7 figure turnover. I engaged 25,000 customers on my email list.
There’s still huge value in setting up your email list. Don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s okay if you don’t do this in the first 3 months of blogging.
After starting my lifestyle blog this Summer, I can understand if you’re not ready to set up email capture from the word go. There’s a lot to do and it’s better to concentrate on writing first.
When you’re ready to start capturing email addresses and sending newsletters, you need to sign up with an email service. Just like with themes, there’s a choice of FREE or paid.
MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 subscribers (after that the costs start to escalate and I was paying out $219/month using them for my eCommerce business).
The catch with MailChimp is they’re not such a great choice for bloggers. Most bloggers will use affiliate marketing to earn money from their blog. Now the best way to make a success of this is by including affiliate links in newsletters.
MailChimp does not allow affiliate marketing in their emails.
That’s a bit of a blow if you’re a blogger. I also find MailChimp is an annoying platform to use. I would put up with the platform but for me the ban on affiliate marketing is a deal breaker.
These are my choices for email services:
ConvertKit is an email marketing service designed by professional bloggers for professional bloggers. The guys at ConvertKit know exactly what you need and their support is excellent.
Their comprehensive knowledge base will walk you through capturing subscribers and setting up sequences to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Compared with Mailchimp, ConvertKit is on a whole different level.
Constant Contact could be a good option if you need to send out newsletters for an eCommerce store. Unlike ConvertKit, Constant Contact has a range of templates for promoting products.
It’s an easy to use platform with a drag and drop editor. Create professional looking newsletters quickly and wow your followers.
Constant Contact is known for good delivery for emails – you want to make sure your emails are reaching your customers!
#7. Start Making Money.
Making money from a blog relies on two factors: traffic and a means of making money. In your first few months of blogging, promoting your blog and finding traffic should be your main focus.
There’s no point blogging away if no-one’s reading your posts and you should be putting as much effort into promotion as you put into writing.
The main passive ways to make money from a blog are advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, creating printables, ebooks or online courses.
You can also use your blog to promote and sell services such as becoming a virtual assistant (VA) or getting paid to blog as a freelance writer.
There are hundreds of different ways you can make money from a blog and each will be unique to your own skill set. Some of them will need lots of traffic and some make money from a relatively small number of visitors.
Starting a blog is one thing. Making money from your blog is something-else.
I go into greater detail about how to make money in my FREE Start A Blog guide. It contains all the information in this post plus an extra section on making money from your beginner blog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Follow these 7 Easy Steps:
Step 1: Choose the right blog topic. Your topic needs an audience and your blog needs to help people.
Step 2: Build your blog. You need a blogging platform and hosting. Your blogging platform, WordPress.org will organize and edit your content.
Step 3: Learn how to use WordPress with my Easy Step By Step Guide. You can download your free 68 page copy.
Step 4: Write your first blog post. Practice makes perfect.
Step 5: Pick a theme and design a winning blog that’s right for your niche.
Step 6: Choose your email service – the money’s in the list as they say and you need to nurture your followers.
Step 7: Start making money. Download my free guide and discover the main ways to start making passive income with a blog.
If you want to start a blog for free to Blogger is a good choice. It’s doubtful you’ll make any money using Blogger but it’s a good way to practice your writing skills. If you want to start a money making blog, you really need to invest in a self-hosted wordpress.org site.
Advertising is the best known way to make money from blogging. It’s easy to place ads on your site and it’s a totally passive source of income. There is a catch. You need a ton of traffic to make money from advertising so it only works if your writing about popular topics. Fortunately it’s not the only way to make money. The possibilities can be endless with blogging from affiliate marketing to selling courses or using a blog to promote an online business.