[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
Are you a freelancer who wants to start a blog and turn it into a business or side hustle?
It’s possible to do both at the same time. After all, what’s better than following your passion and making income from it?
People start blogging for many reasons:
- Documenting your thoughts
- Sharing the new learnings
- Passive income and making money
- Free stuff for review
- Free travel
Or any other. Yours could be one of the above or for some other reason; either way, blogging could help you achieve your goal. I bet if you search on Google, many steps will pop up on how to start a blog right away, and you can find video tutorials and many more.
I found many blogs that guided me on how to start a blog. But they made me confused; I was scared to start my own blog, and things were frustrating. The truth is, yes, starting a blog takes a lot of hard work, but it’s not that complicated to get started.
That’s why I wanted to make sure that you and anyone else weren’t in that confusing situation when starting a blog. Especially for people with zero tech experience. I was really determined to help new bloggers start their first blog.
All you need to have is the determination to do it! You could be done with this guide in less than an hour or more.
So, without further delay, let’s learn how you can start a blog today.
This is a detailed guide with some theory and practical knowledge. To get your blog up and running, you’ll need to do some reading and follow a few simple steps.
Pick your topic (niche)
The very first step to starting a blog is to find your niche.
By “niche,” it means what your blog is going to be about. What topics are you planning to write about and share with your audience? Is it about fashion, makeup, food, or home decor?
Choose something that you are passionate about, and figure out what you want to write. I started off writing about blogging tips, but after a year, I expanded my focus to include lifestyle and personal growth. I share my experience as a translator as well as parts of my life’s knowledge with others. I share topics that I enjoy writing about and hope will help people solve problems or relate to something in their lives.
There are many popular topics out there you can choose from – whether your blog is about fashion, food, finance, lifestyle, blogging, freelancing, etc. You can also start a blog if you have something to offer such as a translation service, SEO expertise, designing a website, finance consultant, or anything else related to your job that you want to share with the world in order to reach more people.
My advice to you is that you do not need to focus solely on one topic. There are plenty of bloggers out there who write about several topics. I write about blogging but also share about lifestyle, productivity, and other useful topics. Regardless of what topic you choose, it is your choice to make. Write something that you enjoy.
You’re going to make the decision for yourself; just know that you can always change your mind later. Add more topics and focus on one topic only.
Pick a blog name and domain name
Here’s where you need to be more inspired. You need to pick your blog name and domain name!
In my opinion, the name of your blog is very important. It took me a whole week to pick up my blog name. You can also have a domain name under your own name, which is great for a personal portfolio or if you plan to make yourself a brand.
You can research, mix and match, and use your name for your blog name (an advantage: your own name gives you more flexibility in what you write about).
A domain name is the URL of a blog that a visitor will use to open a blog. Some of the tips from my experience are that you need to make it easy to remember, type, and pronounce. PLUS, I prefer the.com domain name over all others. Domain extensions such as.info,.net, and so on tend to rank poorly in search engines. I always prefer and recommend that you use the .com or .org domain extension.
For example; https://merryofaugust.com
You can use the Lyricalhost domain suggestion feature to check if your desired domain name is available or not. Simply enter any word that you have picked for your blog, and it will also show you available domain name suggestions.
Pick the hosting to start a blog
A reason to start a blog can be for a hobby, a place to write about things you love or to turn it into a business. If you want to make money blogging, the important thing is that you need to be self-hosted.
WHY? This is perfect for bloggers who want to create a business and make money from a blog. You will also have access to many more customizable features that free platforms cannot provide. Make a small investment, and your earnings could be huge. Check out this list of bloggers who make thousands of $ every month.
Can I start a blog for free or without any investments?
Of course, YES. You can start a blog for free with WordPress and Blogger. No different, though. They’re easy to set up. However, if you’re trying to run a business or turn your blog into a side hustle on a free platform, it isn’t a really good idea.
The main reason I don’t recommend using a free platform is that you are considering being hosted by “that” company. Whether it is a blogger, Weebly, Wix, etc. They can do anything they like (the worst is to shut you down) because your blog is their property.
What is the difference between hosting and domain?
Simply put, hosting is your address, and the domain is your house. If you have a house, you automatically have an address, right? A domain is your website URL (https://merryofaugust.com). You need to purchase both to start a personal blog.
The easiest way to do this is to sign up with a Lyricalhost. You will get automatic core updates, integrated speed and security boosts, preinstalled WordPress, and much more. Includes email, free SSL certificate(s), and daily automatic backups. If you want Google to take your blog seriously and rank it, your blog needs to be safe and secure. This is the function of the SSL certificate. Sometimes you have to purchase it separately, but with Lyrical Host, you get it free.
Once you are done buying hosting and a domain name, Lyrical Host will automatically install the WordPress software on your domain name. That means your blog is installed, and now comes the cool stuff, which is something every beginner blogger enjoys.
Create branding material
You need branding material. This creation can be done even before you choose to pick your hosting and domain.
To start a personal blog or business website, you need a logo, color pattern, photo, posts, and anything else that makes your blog look good. To make your posts stand out from the crowd, use Canva to create a logo and stock photos.
I mostly make my branding material with Adobe and Canva—it is really easy to use. Start with my logo, header, and site icon (favicon). In an alternative way, you can find beautiful fonts, graphics, and brand-related stuff on Etsy. There are many amazing kinds of stuff there that you can choose from, including the theme to make your blog look presentable and professional.
Install + Get WordPress ready
If you really want to start a blog for free and do this professionally, I believe you need to start and stay with WordPress. I’ve been using this platform for many years and WordPress allows me to optimize my blog and it is easy to integrate with many awesome features with WordPress plugins!
After picking your theme, install WordPress, and start setting up your blog!
You will be taken to your WordPress dashboard. You can begin exploring and decorating your blog from this point. And, honestly, this is the part that makes me struggle the most. Most tutorials make me more confused, and I just somehow start to work on it on my own!
You will do all the customized stuff for your blog on your WordPress dashboard. You will be controlling most aspects of your blog through this dashboard.
Here I’ve made a little overview of the most important parts for beginners:
- POSTS – “All posts” will show you all the posts on your blog (published or draft posts). Create “categories” and later you can organize your posts into categories.
- MEDIA – Where all of your photos, videos, or other files you upload will be stored.
- PAGES – Where you will have different pages for your blog. Create an “About me” page by clicking Pages > Add New.
- APPEARANCE – Where you can decorate your website.
Themes: here, you can choose any different theme. The theme is the software that gives your blog its look. You can either buy a theme or use a free one. If you are hoping to make money from your blog, then I highly recommend purchasing a theme.
Customize: this will take you to the live editor. You can make changes to the look of your blog while previewing the changes you are making.
Widget: these can be added in particular places to make your blog easier to use. I currently have a sidebar widget on my blog.
Menu: this helps make your blog easier to navigate. I currently have a menu at the top of my blog that takes my audience to different pages.
Most of the plugins are FREE. The plugin is software to help your website, which you need to install. To install plugins, you just need to go to Plugins > Add New. Find or type the plugin you need on the top right-hand side of the page, and click “Install” next to it. Then click “Activate.”
This is a place where you can change the settings for your blog. One thing that really important is the permalink structure. It is the URL format when you publish any blog posts and it helps a lot with your SEO.
Design your blog
Blog niche? Check.
Blog name and domain name? Check.
Pick your hosting? Check.
Install and set up WordPress? Done.
Blog design is the most important aspect of your blog because a good design will ensure that your audience will love it. In fact, that is how your readers will remember your blog.
There are many free and premium WordPress themes out there. You can pick a free WordPress theme or invest a little to make your blog look nice and professional. I always recommend going with a premium theme because you will get all the support and starter guides, and moreover, you will have a quality design for your blog.
Don’t worry; you can change this many times later. I don’t recommend using a free theme if you are planning to create a business with your blog. If it is for a hobby, a free theme is perfect.
You can purchase awesome themes on Etsy to support small businesses; here are some of my favorite picks, which are outrageously stylish, incredibly flexible, and easily customizable. Once you install this theme, you can pick from the ready-made template, and your blog design will be ready within 30 to 45 minutes. This is the perfect companion for any new WordPress blog.
Install WordPress plugins
There are thousands of WordPress plugins out there. Below, I have only mentioned those plugins that you should install from day one.
- Rank Math SEO
There are many more plugins, but the above plugins will ensure that you have all the basic plugins installed on your blog.
Set up your custom email
Why create a custom email?
It looks more professional to your audience and brands/clients. If you’ve purchased a domain name for your blog, you DEFINITELY have the ability to use that domain for your custom email address.
Once you’re logged in to your hosting account, go to the Email and Office sections. Select the domain name that you want to use to create a free professional email and click “Manage.” Click the “Create” button to make a new address. Fill in the information and click the “Create” button at the bottom of the page.
Start your email list
My biggest regret is that I held off on starting my email list. I don’t create it as soon as I launch my first blog. Fortunately, I’m not too late to make it now.
As a starter, you can start with Converkit and keep your subscribers updated about your new posts, deals, news, or whatever it is that you need to contact your subscribers about. Converkit is so user-friendly, and it allows you to have up to 1,000 free subscribers.
If you want to have better templates for your email structure, I recommend that you join Flodesk and get 50% off your first year with code “MERRY50.” They provide a professional appearance for your emails. A great choice for your business blog.
Install Google Analytics + submit your sitemap
Once you’ve started creating content for your blog, you will need to install Google Analytics. This allows Google to track the activities of visitors coming to your blog. Google will collect this information and show it in the form of statistics in your Google Analytics account. Check out this tutorial that explains the whole process.
Set up social media accounts
The importance of having a social media presence is that it can help you promote your blog and its content while also connecting with your audience. Honestly, I haven’t been into social media since I graduated from college, but these days I choose to keep consistently handling my social media. So, to start a blog, you have to make sure to set up your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Plan your blog content
Before you start writing your first blog post, you should make a content plan. I use both digital and physical planners to plan my blog content. Here are some digital blog planners that I recommend to you:
Once you get your planner, write down all the content that you could write. You can also create an outline of the content if you like. It’s best to do this all at once, and then start writing your content (one at a time) the next time.
First post! Both exciting and frustrating! I’ve done research many times about how to post your first blog. I have no idea how to do that. I have a love-hate relationship with something about “first.” But I have to do this, and you do too!
Here are some tips for writing your first blog post:
- I recommend you write your draft in Microsoft Word before actually putting it in WordPress. Many bloggers suggest writing it in Google Docs, for backing up purposes. You can do it as well.
- Your content should cover all the aspects of the topic you are writing about. It’s best to try your best to provide a solution to your audience’s problems. Feel free to write 1000+ words.
- Do not use images from Google. Rather use these free stock images and get 550+ free styled stock photos, for content creators & creative experts.
- I suggest writing down at least 3-5 posts for each category before launching your blog. So when you launch your blog, you will have many interesting posts on your blog to read.
- You don’t have to publish daily. The idea is to be regular with posting. You can target one post a day and if you are creating long-form content (over 1500 words plus), even 2-3 a week is a great number.
Pinterest will provide you with many ideas for your ideal first post. Don’t think hard about it and go with the flow. Thinking hard about it will make you stressed, just like me. I want to make my first blog perfect and include anything. These are the things that irritate me and cause me to put things off. So, I just made a whole month’s plan in my planner (in the middle of the night) and saved myself from wasting more time.
Add important pages to your blog
Here are some of the important pages that you should have on your blog. You can add them over the course of the next few weeks.
- About page: detail about your blog and you.
- Contact page: A page with a contact form. You can use the free contact form 7.
- Media kit page: You don’t need it now, but you should know about it. This page is where you will write about your blog traffic and available advertising options.
- Disclaimer page
- Disclosure page
- Terms and conditions
Share your contents
At this point, you have finished creating your own blog and even created your posts. So why not share it with the whole world?
Once you have established your blog, make it social so that your readers can join your community. Your audience does not just come accidentally to your blog. If you want to build traffic, then you need to share your blog posts, anywhere you can.
To get social with your blog, you need a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and a Twitter account.
Once you publish your post, share it with your friends and on social media (all of them). Anywhere, anyone, everyone! You have to do it!
Congratulations! Now, you have done creating your blog!
What else do you need to reach the next level of blogging?
- Learn SEO to drive organic traffic
Many newbies try not to concentrate on SEO, and it’s a big mistake. SEO helps you to drive targeted traffic from organic search, which in turn makes more money for you.
- Getting traffic to your blog
If you have done everything mentioned above, you will start getting organic traffic from social media sites.
- Make money from your blog
There are many ways by which your blog can earn passive income for you. Here are some of the most popular ways:
- Google AdSense
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored content
- Amazon affiliate program
- Direct ad sales
- Sell digital products like eBooks, courses, planners, etc.
In the blogging community, we always wish that there was someone who could guide us from scratch when we start a blog. There are plenty of resources available in the form of courses or ebooks. Join the group and forums related to blogging and put up your doubts; there are thousands of people out there to help you out.
I tried to cover as much as I could (from my experience) for a newbie to get started, but if you still have a question before starting your new blog, feel free to give me a shout via a comment or contact me via email or Twitter. I’ll be more than happy to help you out!
Please share this guide with others who want to start a blog.