WHAT IS A BLOG?
A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries.
Blogs, or weblogs, started out as a mix of what was happening in a person’s life and what was happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/news site.
The word “blog” is a shortened version of web logs or weblogs. Besides being shorter and catchier, “blog” seems less likely to cause confusion, as “web log” can also mean a server’s log files.
People maintained blogs before the term was coined, but the trend gained momentum with the rise of automated published systems, most notably Blogger at blogger.com, which lowered the technical barrier to entry for formatting and organizing posts. Now, self-hosted platforms such as WordPress offer new levels of functionality, with a large ecosystem of talented designers and developers serving the varied needs of millions of users.
Despite its grassroots beginnings, blogging has also become a popular platform for business, from companies trying to humanize their brand to solopreneurs seeking to make a full-time income online. But with increased opportunity comes increased competition, and it takes more to stand out now than in the early days of blogging. Still, there are so many more people online today, so the potential rewards are higher for bloggers who break through.
So, you want to start a blog huh? Great idea!
But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the web, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. Who do you listen to? Where’s the starting point?
Damnit, maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing!
Well, hold up. I used to be a blogging newbie too. I had the same problems. I started my blog (driversnigeria.com) way back in 2019, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. In fact, it was only the week before I’d learned what a blog was.
Now I know a ton about them, and my blog’s doing pretty well – I receive more than 20,000 unique visitors per month which makes me consider myself someone you could listen to and learn from when it comes to building your own blog. I’m not some sort of Guru, but I certainly do know the basics.
I promise it’ll be simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid jargon). Sound good?
Awesome, let’s move on.
Why you should create a blog and join the blogging community
So below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before we dive in though, I really want to talk about WHY you should build a blog.
Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.
- Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
- It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
- You become a better person and a better writer.
- Self-promotion and New Opportunities
- Blog Can Help To Grow Your Business
- Blogging Helps to Improve Writing and Argumentation Skills
- The best reason? You can make money doing it!
I bet you already knew all of that, but it’s nice to be reminded.
Things You Need To Know Before Starting A Blog
Nowadays anyone can create a blog in a few simple steps. Blogging is an incredible marketing tool and can even become a great source of income. However, if you would like to build a successful and profitable blog, you need to set yourself on the right path.
Here are ten things you should know before you jump into blogging.
Blogging takes time and effort
Before getting started, ask yourself why you want to start a blog. If your goal is just to make money online, honestly blogging might not be the best choice for you. There are hundreds of ways of making money online and blogging is one of the harder ones.
It requires a lot of hard work and takes a long time to grow your audience. It is pretty disappointing if you publish your first post and nobody reads it, but you need to undergo these awkward moments. Do not expect the results immediately.
Successful bloggers are patient enough to keep working on their blogs for a long time. It’s tough, but they know it’s worth it.
Blogging is not free
WordPress.com, Blogger, Medium and Tumblr, these blogging platforms are all free and very easy to use. However, as long as you go for a free blog you do not own your blog, which means there are some limitations and lack of control.
If you want a cool web address, more design flexibility, larger storage or more monetization opportunities, a self-hosted WordPress blog is still the best bet. You can start a self-hosted blog by buying a hosting, domain name and installing WordPress. All of it will cost you around $50-150/year.
Once started, you might need to spend more money on other things to get more traffic and increase engagement. Below are some of the investments you can make for your blog.
- Design customization
- Custom development
- Ads, marketing promotions
- Better web hosting
- Hiring other writers
- A/B testing
Identify your niche
It is crucial to decide what you write about and stay focused on that niche. There are already a lot of blogs. You’ll have to figure out how to make your blog stand out from the crowd. Choose a topic you are passionate about and do not expand it too broadly.
Define your target audience. Get a clear answer to the following question. Who is going to read your blog? Identify their needs, interests and concerns. It will help you come up with good topics to write about.
Content is King
Content marketers and pro bloggers are often faced with an argument ‘Quality vs Quantity‘. Quantity matters to increase and maintain your traffic, but you should still focus on quality over quantity.
If your readers get value from the information in your articles, they will engage and become your regular audience. On the other hand, nobody will like your blog if you publish shallow and uninformative articles.Subscribe to The Morning Email.Wake up to the day’s most important news.
It is not enough to write a great post and wait for people to find it. While your blog is new, nobody will find your articles through search engines. Then how can you get traffic? You need to be proactive.
One of the best ways to get noticed is to use social media to promote your posts. You can even buy traffic by creating ads on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
It is OK to share the same content more than once, which is one of the easiest ways to drive more traffic. But just be careful not to be a spammer.
Learn basic HTML
Thanks to the powerful blogging platforms, HTML and CSS knowledge is no longer necessary for everyone. It is possible to customize themes and plugins without having a look at any code.
Still, a basic understanding of HTML (and CSS if possible) can surely help professional bloggers and non-tech marketers. Once you are familiar with these skills, you will be able to edit the appearance of your articles by hand or even fix simple errors on the blog.
Learn basic SEO
Learning basic search engine optimization (SEO) is a fundamental and very effective way to drive traffic to your blog. Traffic from search engines is the key to growth. SEO is very complicated but even knowing a few tips can make a huge difference in the long run.
Learn more about SEO in our Advance Class.
Learn about copyright issues
What do you do when someone steals your content without permission? It can happen to anyone at any time.
You should learn how to protect your articles and images. At the same time it is critical to educate yourself to prevent becoming a “content thief” unintentionally.
Good design is a must
The blog design can influence how readers perceive your content. It can seriously make or break the first impression. If your blog is ugly and hard to read, then sure nobody will read it.
Google’s algorithms are prioritizing mobile-friendly sites. Research by Smart Insights reveals that people are now spending more time on mobile devices. Make your blog mobile-friendly and responsive to ensure you create a pleasurable reading experience for your audience and reap low-hanging SEO fruits.
Always be yourself. By being authentic and real, you can build trust with your audience. People buy from people they trust. It takes years to build trust and just a matter of minutes to ruin it. Be open and interact with your readers. Be the first one to admit mistakes and apologize.
The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide
It’s nowhere near as difficult as setting up a website from scratch (there’s very little technical ability needed here). In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Good news, huh?
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps:
There are five main steps you need to do in order to start a blog. If you follow this guide exactly, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less.
- Choose a great blog platform
- Choose a web host for your blog
- How to Set up a blog on your own domain
- Design your new blog
- Useful resources for blogging
So, we made it. Better late than never! So, without further ado, let’s jump into step 1.
Step 1 – Choose your preferred blogging platform
Choosing where you want to build blog is pretty much the first thing you have to do. I’m going to take a leap and assume you’ve heard of WordPress, and this is the platform I advocate. It’s massive.
It’s by far one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world, with countless plugins and add-ons and almost infinite ways to design and layout your blog.
There are more than 82 million active users of WordPress = a lot, basically.
There are other alternatives, however, and they are listed below:
- Blogger – Definitely the next best thing to WordPress.
- Tumblr – Half social network, half blog. Interesting, and very simple to use.
Even though WordPress is bigger (and probably better) than those two, here are my reasons why you should still go with WordPress:
- Super easy set-up and is free to use
- Tons of free themes and layouts (I’m not kidding, there are gazillions).
- There’s a massive support forum in case you get stuck (you won’t, but it’s nice to have it there if you need it).
- Your blog will be insanely fast and it’ll also look Functionality and form – perfect!
- People can interact with you easily. Your content can be shared, commented on, and so on.
Now, Step 2 (see, we’re moving fast now!)
Step 2 – Self-hosting or a free alternative?
Whoa, slow down there! This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make before we go any further. You need to decide whether to pay for your blog or grab a free one.
WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger all offer free blogs for anyone. Awesome, right? It’s perfect for those of us who aren’t super serious about blogging. But it does have downsides:
1) You won’t be able to get your OWN domain name
On a free blog, your blog’s web address (your URL) will be butt-ugly. Like, really ugly. In short, create a free blog with any other the above free blog services and it’ll look like this:
I know, ugly right?
2) Limits and more limits
There are some limits to free blogs. You can’t fully monetize it, and you don’t have the possibility to upload all those videos and images you want to show everyone – it’s all limited. Worse still, you won’t even have access to the free themes offered by WordPress.
3) You DON’T OWN your blog
It might sound silly at first, but you don’t actually own your blog. It’s hosted on someone else’s web property and they can delete it if they want to. They have done so in the past, and keep doing it in the future. Which means all your hard work on your blog, all those countless hours of writing blog posts might have vanished within seconds. Sad…
On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog on your own domain name – you are the REAL owner of your blog. You’ll be able to name your blog whatever you want, for example, “YourName.com” or “YourAwesomeBlog.com. You can end it with .com, .co.uk, .net, .org, or virtually any other web suffix. Add to that unlimited bandwidth for videos, images, and content plus the free themes and you have a winning combo.
So how much is hosting and a domain name? Not as much as you’re thinking, fortunately. It usually works out to about $5 to $10 per month, depending on your hosting provider which is less than a couple of coffees.
Step 3 – Start a blog on your own domain (if you chose self-hosting and a custom domain)
I’m going to push ahead based on the premise you’ve chosen WordPress, and if you haven’t, you should. Seriously, it’s the best.
If you’re still a little confused by what a self-hosted blog is, allow me to explain and how you can go about setting one up for yourself.
You’ll need to come up with a domain name you like and also choose a hosting company that can host your blog.
- Domain: The domain is basically the URL of your website. Examples: google.com (Google.com is the domain), Facebook.com (Facebook.com is the domain). See? Simple!
- Hosting: Hosting is basically the company that puts your website up on the internet so everyone else can see it. Everything will be saved on there. Think of it as a computer hard-drive on the internet where your blog will be saved.
Personally, I recommend Hostgator and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about it.
It’s probably one of the cheapest (less than $3 per month) hosting providers out there. A domain name will cost around $10-15 a year, but with Hostgator, you can get that for FREE first year.
Big smiles for that!
If for any reason you don’t want to go with Hostgator, feel free to choose your own hosting company. Most, if not all of them, should have a “one-click” WordPress install solution on their admin panel.
That button will automatically install WordPress on your blog. Did I say it was simple or what?
All you need to do is sign up with Hostgator (or your chosen provider), choose your hosting plan and a domain name and look for the one-click WordPress install button on the admin panel.
WordPress essentials aren’t often needed, but I’d recommend whois privacy (that will keep all your personal details private) and definitely automated backups (that’ll save your website just in case anything fails or disappears so you won’t lose any or very little of your blog).
Once WordPress is installed on your website, all you have to do to start blogging is go to your WP-Admin page usually www.yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin and start writing by adding a new post.
At the start, the layout looks confusing, but it gets very understandable quickly. Don’t worry!
Step 4 – Designing your WordPress blog
Now, the fun bit.
Let’s make your blog look exactly how you want it to. To choose a new theme, you can either head to Appearance > Themes and install a free WordPress theme or you can head to a premium theme website like ThemeForest.net and buy a theme for around $40.
I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customize. WordPress also has this awesome feature that allows you to change themes with just a few clicks. So if you start getting tired of your current blog template, you can just switch to another one without losing any precious content or images.
Remember, your blog’s design should reflect both you and your personality, but also what the blog is about. There’s no point having a football-orientated theme if your blog is about tennis, understand?
On top of that, it should be easy to navigate if you want people to stick around. If it’s tricky and difficult to move around it, people won’t stay. After all design is a subjective art; meaning everyone likes different things.
But no one likes ugly websites, and they especially hate websites that need a university degree to navigate. Make it easy for them.
Last step! Woo!
Step 5 – Useful Resources For Beginner Bloggers
Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.
And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your initial blog set up should now be finished and ready to go, and all that should have been really damn easy (unlike my first time, lucky you!).
Now that you know how to start a blog, we hope you’d share your knowledge and ideas with the world through your own blog. To make your blog successful, here are some tips you can follow –
- Try to optimize your posts for search engines.
- Spread words among your friends about your site.
- Make interesting posts on a regular basis.
- Share them on social media.
- Try avoiding plagiarism, write in your own way.
- Use an interactive contact form and let your audiences subscribe, give opinions, participate in surveys, or perform other necessary actions.
A contact form can add great value to your blog or website. You can follow these 4 easy steps to create a form with WordPress Form Builder. It’ll help you to engage more audiences and make a positive impact on them.
Long story short, quality, and quantity both are important. If you create quality posts, you’ll surely grow your audience over time. Besides that, people love writings that are easily understandable. So, keep writing and have a great journey with your blog 🙂
Today, anyone can start a blog. However, it’s not for everyone. Most of the new bloggers give up too early.
At first writing might be painful and will take a lot of time to finish just one article. But if you keep writing content you are passionate about; you will gradually get used to it.
Enjoy your new blog!