The Most Complete Guide to Starting Blogging EVER Written (Seriously)
Ryan Perry——Last Updated March 30th, 2018
So you want to start a blog, eh? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
For the past decade, I’ve launched, managed, and scaled dozens of blogs that went on to generate several thousand dollars in monthly revenue each. And today, I’m going to share the lessons I’ve learned with you.
Despite more than 10 years of experience in the wonderful world of “blagging” my journey was far from easy. I made every mistake and misstep possible and I paid for it handsomely with lost traffic, failed websites, and more than a few dollars of my own money.
To help you avoid these mistakes, start your blog the right way, and get off the line faster than a souped up Bugatti Veyron, I’ve put together this quick guide that will show you exactly how to start a profitable blog from start to finish.
Sound good? Then let’s dive in.
A Quick Reality Check
Before I begin explaining the nuances of starting, scaling, and profiting from your very own blog, it’s important that you define the goals for your blog and understand the reality facing professional bloggers in 2018.
I’m just going to come out and say it…
Blogging full time is hard work. In fact, I’d argue that actually getting your blog off the ground is infinitely more difficult than working your conventional 9-5 or even starting a product/service based business.
There’s a metric fark load of content on the internet with more being added everyday. And finding a way to make your content and message stand out amidst the crowd is no easy task.
But if you’re up for the challenge, I promise it will be one of the most rewarding and (potentially) profitable endeavors you ever undertake.
So who should and shouldn’t start a blog? Well, I’m glad you asked.
You should start a blog if:
- You want to make a full time living online and are willing to put in the work (typically 1-3 years) required to become a full time blogger.
- You’re an author looking to increase your exposure and get picked up by a publishing house.
- You run a small business and want to increase the visibility of your brand.
- You just want to share important thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world.
If this sounds like you, then great! I’ll teach you exactly how you can accomplish these goals in just a minute.
However, if you want to start a blog because:
- You want to generate tons of passive income overnight
- You’re looking to “get rich quick”
- You want to have an “overnight” bestseller like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (which was the result of nearly a decade of writing and blogging experience)
Then I’ve got a hard wake up call for you… That’s not going to happen.
Becoming a “blogosphere” success story takes time, patience, hard work, and thick skin. You must be willing to face failure on a daily basis, write content that no one will read, and stick with it long after most people would have thrown in the towel. But if you do, I promise it will be worth it.
If you’re still on board with this whole blogging thing and think you have what it takes to make it in this hyper competitive industry, then it’s time to dive in and learn exactly how to do it.
The Four Steps to Starting Your Viral Blog
- Find your perfect niche
- Select your blogging platform (hint: if it’s not WordPress, you’re doing it wrong)
- Select your web host & register your domain name
- Setup your WordPress blog design and start writing!
Now, let’s dive into each one in a bit more detail so you can get off to the races and start kicking some blogging ass!
Step 1: Find Your Perfect Niche
“There are no new ideas, only new ways of making them felt.”Audre Lorde
If you’re running a product or service based business, this will be the absolute easiest part of this entire process. You’re simply going to write about whatever is relevant to your particular company.
If you’re an individual, it’s a different story entirely. Picking the ideal niche for your new blog often feels like picking a name for a new baby. But don’t freak out… As long as you pick a versatile domain name (more on that in a second) you can always shift your niche later down the line so that you aren’t trapped in an idea you don’t love.
With that being said, here are a few quick tips to help you pick the perfect niche for your new blog.
Couple Things to Think About Before All Ya’ll Start Bloggin
- Pick a niche you will enjoy. If you don’t love what you’re blogging about, your writing will reflect your apathy. You should only blog about a topic you thoroughly enjoy.
- Select a niche that has plenty to discuss. I know you might love writing fish tank reviews, but after a few months of blogging, you’re going to run out of products to write about. Select a niche that gives you a never ending stream of potential topics and articles to write.
- Write about what you know or what you’re learning. There are two ways you can start your blog. By writing about what you already know (establishing yourself as the expert) or writing about what you are currently learning (and sharing the journey with your audience). For example, if you are a small business owner who already has multiple successful businesses, you can easily write about how others can do the same. However, if you are just getting started in the world of entrepreneurship, you can still bring others along for the journey by blogging about the lessons you are learning.
Remember, if you want to profit from your blog you must become the “Go-to” guy or gal in your specific niche. If you can’t foresee yourself being that blogger about a specific topic, then keep searching until you find a niche where you can.
Step 2: Pick Your Blogging Platform
“WordPress is by far the most effective and intuitive platform for your new blog” Abraham Lincoln 😉
I’m going to be blunt here. If you don’t use WordPress (.org not .com) then your chances of becoming a blogging success are tantamount to your chances of winning the lottery.
I know there are plenty of other options out there like Tumblr, Blogger, and other “Free” blogging platforms, but all of them (yes all) are a waste of your time.
WordPress is the only platform used by industry experts and top websites and, if you want to stand a chance of entering into the big leagues, it’s what you’ll use too.
The reasons are pretty simple.
- With other “free” blogging platforms you don’t own your content and you don’t control the website (and one misstep can mean having your content lost forever)
- WordPress has more than 72 million users meaning that you have a massive online community and an abundance of developer tools at your disposal.
- It’s incredibly simple to use.
- It’s more secure than a Nun’s nether regions. Seriously, NASA uses it and so do billion dollar brands.
- It’s insanely customizable. Want a peanut butter & jelly themed website? You can do that.
So for the love of everything holy and beautiful in this world… Use WordPress, okay?
Just in case you didn’t believe us, here is a pretty graphic showing just how right we are. 😉 WordPress powers most of the Internet
Step 3: Pick Your Web Host & Registering Your Domain
“Want the best web hosting on the planet? Use SiteGround” Some Blogger on the Internet
Hopefully, you’re convinced that WordPress is the best choice for your blogging platform, but it’s only the first step in getting your blog up and running.
WordPress is merely the software that will allow you to create content, but it won’t actually put your content on the internet. To share your content with the masses, you’ll need to purchase server space through a web host (don’t worry, if you follow my recommendation, it’ll be dirt cheap).
With the myriad of web hosting services available, it can be difficult to pick the one that is right for your needs. So I’m going to help you out and make this super simple.
The best web host that I’ve found after running a web development agency responsible for hosting and developing almost 1,000 websites over the past decade, I’ve found that SiteGround is by far the best web host for the blogging beginner.
Not to Hard, Not to Limited…Just Right…..
Simply put they offer unparalleled performance for the price and fall inside of the “Goldilocks’ Hosting Zone”.
They aren’t so inexpensive that they lack the resources to maintain their servers and customer support team but they aren’t so advanced that you’ll pay out the wazoo for premium features that you don’t need (yet).
Once you navigate to SiteGround’s website, you’ll be presented with three hosting options.
- Startup Plan (Perfect for personal blogs)
- The Grow Big Plan (Ideal for individuals looking to monetize their blog quickly)
- The GoGeek Plan (Perfect for small businesses and eCommerce websites)
If you’re just getting started out then you should be fine using the Startup or Grow Big plan. However, if you’re running a small business and need the extra bandwidth and security features, GoGeek will keep your website secure and running at lightning fast speeds for a nominal fee.
After you’ve settled on the plan that is right for you, it’s time to put in your billing info and select the length of time for your new hosting service.
The longer the hosting period is, the less expensive it will be. If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend opting for 36 months of hosting since this will ensure that you’re locked in at the introductory price for the longest amount of time possible.
Once you’ve put in your details, you’ll be asked to either select a new domain name or register an existing one.
Now, before we move on, I want to digress for just a moment and discuss how you should go about selecting the ideal domain name.
To ensure that your blog has as much viral and profit potential as possible, you’ll want to make your domain:
- Short:Three words or less is ideal
- Easy to spell and remember: Avoid using letters or numbers that could be easily confused, i.e. 4 and for or using words that are hard to spell
- Versatile or Personal: Purchasing yourname.com is ideal here as it ensures that you can change niches whenever you see fit. However, if you can’t purchase yourname.com then try to find a domain name that is versatile and gives you some wiggle room should you decide to change niches. For example, topdogmarketing.com would be better than topdogemailmarketing.com as it gives you the ability to shift niches should you see fit.
With that out of the way, go ahead and select your FREE domain name and continue through this process.
Next, you’ll be asked to fill out some personal information before finalizing your order. Don’t worry. SiteGround provides all of their customers with free privacy protection meaning that your information won’t be sold off to Saudi Princes who are just dying to send you free money (sarcasm alert).
And that’s it! Now you’re ready to setup WordPress on your SiteGround domain and get ready to write words that make money!
Step 4: Setup and Design Your WordPress Blog and Get to Writing
“Design your WordPress blog! Do it Nauwwww” Arnold Schwarzenegger
Installing WordPress with SiteGround
To finally get your blog up and running, you’ll need to install WordPress onto your new website. Although you can do this manually, using SiteGround’s Expert Install is so stupid easy that I’m not even going to bother walking you through a manual installation.
Here’s all you need to do.
First, go to your SiteGround customer portal and then navigate to the ‘Support’ tab.
Next, scroll down until you see the section titled ‘WordPress Assistance’.
From there, SiteGround will walk you through the installation process step by step and instruct you to create a username/password combination for your new website.
All told, it will take you about 3 minutes and you’ll be ready to wrap up the design portion of the process and start blogging today!
Logging Into WordPress and Selecting a Theme
Once you’ve completed the WordPress assistance walkthrough, simply type www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and you’ll be brought to the following page.
Input your login details and get ready to create an epic blog.
Once you login you’ll be taken to the backend admin panel of your WordPress blog. From here, you’re going to navigate to “Appearance > Themes”
ou’ll be taken to a curated list of free themes that you can install and start using right away. Although free themes are fantastic, if you really want your blog to *POP* off the page and wow your readers, I recommend investing in a premium theme through themeforest.net or another provider to get that extra layer of customization (it shouldn’t cost you more than $60 for a badass WordPress them).
Once you’ve selected a theme, simply click ‘Install’ and WordPress’s magic elves will set to work installing your new theme onto your site.
After the installation is complete, you’re going to be presented with a notification that the theme has been installed and you can now activate it.
Once this is done, it’s time to optimize your new blog for Google and other major search engines so that your content will actually get seen by others.
Creating a Search Engine Friendly Blog
The first step in getting your blog set up for search engine success is to ensure that your permalinks are search engine (and human) friendly.
For example, WordPress’s standard permalink structure looks like this…
A much better structure would be something like this…
Luckily, changing the permalink structure of your website is super easy.
Simply navigate to ‘Settings > Permalinks’ and change the structure to ‘Post Name’.
Next, you’ll want to ensure that the comments on your blog are set up properly. Comments can be a positive signal to search engines that your blog is getting read and is worth ranking. However, if your blog is receiving dozens of spammy comments designed to mass produce crappy backlinks, this will signal that your website doesn’t offer any real value.
Although you don’t want to disable comments, you want to be sure that any comments that go live on your blog are actually coming from real people and provide some value.
To ensure this is the case, you’re going to navigate to ‘Settings > Discussion’ and input the following settings.
Adding Posts and Changing Headers/Font Styles on Your WordPress Blog
Now that your theme is installed and your website is set up to appease the great search engine gods, it’s time to create your first post and publish that bad boy for all to see.
To get started, simply navigate to ‘Posts > Add New’
From here, you can create a title for your new post and begin writing.
To ensure that your blog is as user friendly as possible, you’ll want to make sure that you implement headers and sub headers to make sure that your readers can quickly and easily scan your content to get the big ideas (afterall, people don’t read anymore… they scan)
Changing the headers inside of your post is actually pretty straightforward. Simply click on the ‘Paragraph’ button in the top left hand corner of your screen and select a header tag to use (we recommend H2 for general purposes).
If you don’t want to use a proper header tag and simply want to bold or italicize a line of text, you can use the following shortcuts.
Or, you can use the following quick keys to easily change the font style.
- “CTRL + B” is for bold
- “CTRL + U” is for underlying
- “CTRL + I” is for italics
Uploading Images to Your WordPress Blog
In 2018, it’s pretty clear that it’s not always the most well written blogs that win, but rather the most aesthetically appealing.
As such, you’ll want to be sure to pimp out your new blog with plenty of high quality and relevant images to make your content pop off of the page.
To do this, simply click ‘Add Media File’ above the toolbar in your new posts page.
Next, you’re going to either drag and drop or select a file to upload.
From here, you can instantly upload the file onto your blog. But before you do, you’ll want to be sure to fill out the ‘Alt Text’ and ‘Title’ so that search engines know exactly what your image is about.
For example, if you were writing an article about the process of writing a new blog post and decided to upload an image of someone typing on a computer, you’d want to use the ‘Alt Text’ and ‘Title’ “writing a blog post”.
Once you’ve finished this process, simply click ‘Insert into post’ and you’re good to go!
Pro Tip: Make sure that your image dimensions are as small as possible within the frame of your blog – Typically 640 x 420 or somewhere in that ballpark.
Adding Links to Your Blog
Google uses ‘backlinks’ (or simply the links you include on your blog) to determine what content you are writing about and how they should rank your content inside of the search engines.
As such, you’ll want to be sure to include a handful of relevant links, both to content on your websites and other sites, inside of each blog post you write.
Doing this is pretty simple.
All you need to do is click the ‘Insert/Edit Link’ button from the toolbar.
And then fill out the link form.
The URL is the http:www link you want your readers to go to and the link text is actual text that will show up on the page.
Is the URL.
The best cheap hosts
Would be the link text.
Pro Tip: You can quickly add a link by highlighting your link text and pressing CTRL + K on Windows or Command + K on Mac.
Always be sure to select the box titled ‘Open Link in New Tab’ to ensure that reader’s stay on your website and don’t get sucked down a new rabbit hole when they click on another relevant resource.
If you followed the simple steps outlined above then you have your WordPress website up and running and you’re ready to enter into the blogging arena so that you can expand your reach, build a side income, and become a world famous internet personality (hopefully).
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments section below! Myself or one of the other authors on this site will be happy to respond and help you with any issues you might have.
Good luck! Go forth and dominate the blogosphere!