Have you ever read a blog and thought “I would love to be able to do that” but had no idea how to start a blog yourself? Blogging is becoming more and more popular. There are literally millions out there from people around the world covering almost every topic imaginable. Each one has something unique to offer and resinates with a different audience, so although you might think you’ll never find your niche, or there’s so much out there already, you just need to find your tribe that wants to hear what you want to say.
Work at Home Mums has been going for 11 years, and yes, it is a blog. It’s evolved and changed and definitely grown over the years, but it essentially started out as a small blog like the one I’m about to show you how to start.
Why Start a blog?
There are lots of reasons people choose to start a blog. Whether it is just because they like writing and have a topic they are passionate about or to evolve their blog into something that makes money there are many reasons to start. A few more common ones are:
- You like writing. Even if it has nothing to do with your day job, some people just want to write. You might have a topic you love, a story to share, or want to encourage others and a blog is an easy way to do all that.
- Make money working from home. If you have a blog about something people are interested in and start to get a bit of traffic, blogs can be a way to earn money while working from home. This can be either a few hundred per month to a full time income for the serious bloggers.
- Get more exposure for your business. You might have a business you think is unrelated to blogging. But blogging about your product or service is a great way to reach people and let them know about what you have to offer.
How to Start a blog
Step 1 – What to blog about
The first step is to decide what you want to write about. Obviously pick something you are passionate or interested in as well as knowledgeable about. Your interest will show through in your writing so if you are just writing for the sake of it rather then the love of the topic, your readers will know.
Choose something that has a lot of things you can write about. Blogs need a lot of content so if you are too specific in your niche you will run out of things to discuss pretty quickly. And if you want to make money from your blog then you need to find that great spot between what you want to write about and what people want to read about. If you can find that niche, you are well on your way.
Your main aim should be to become the go-to resource for your topic.
Step 2 – Choose a blogging platform
There are many ways you can build a website these days. Platforms such as Wix, Blogger, Weebly and Sqarespace are good, but if you want to monetise your blog then I don’t recommend them, especially not the free versions. I will tell you why in a second.
WordPress is by far the most popular platform to use these day but there are two ways to use it, WordPress.com and wordpress.org. If you want to really take your blog and run with it, I recommend wordpress.org. Why? Well wordpress.com as well as other free (and some paid) versions of the other platforms I mentioned have advertising on them to keep the costs down for the users. This is great if you just want to write a bit about your topic for fun as it means you’re not outlaying anything for your website, however if you are wanting to make money from your blog, then these platforms make it very difficult for you to place any advertising you want. After all, they are making money from their advertising, they certainly don’t want yours.
For this reason, I recommend a self-hosted WordPress site, which will cost a little bit of money (but not actually very much at all) and will give you much more control over your blog. The rest of this tutorial will be as if you have chosen to go with a self-hosted wordpress.org site.
Step 3 – Choose a blog name and domain
You’ve chosen your topic so now you need to choose a name for your blog. It can pretty much be anything you want but ideally if someone stumbles across your blog along the way, they get an idea of what it’s about in the name. Work At Home Mums, for example, is fairly obvious who the site is for and what its about. If you were writing about family budgeting you could choose a name like The Budget Mum, as an example.
Next you need to figure out if that name is available. A great resource for this is namecherkr which is a site where you can put in the name you are thinking about and it will tell you if the domain name is available as well as all the social profiles. (Even Myspace. Does anyone still use Myspace?) Incidentally, I used thebudgetmum to check the site and it was available at the time of me writing this so if you go on to steal that idea give me a shout out when you’re a famous blogger.
Last but not least, check for trademarks on your chosen name. There is nothing worse then setting up your brand and having to start again and change everything because you’ve infringed on a trademark.
Once you’ve found a name you love that’s available, purchase the domain name. You can do this through a registry like Crazy Domains. There are a variety of options to choose from but the most common are the .com or .com.au.
Step 4 – Choose your hosting
To use WordPress, you need to self-host, which means you can choose who you want to host your website through. For a beginning blogger, it’s good to go with someone reasonably cheap but reliable. Some of my personal favourites are Bluehost, Hostgator and Siteground. All are well known hosting companies and their base level plans are great for starting bloggers.
I will say that it is generally better to go for a yearly plan rather than month to month. It’s cheaper, and generally less hassle to pay for a year up front rather than small increments coming out of your account each month. Also remember the longer period you go for, the cheaper it can be. It will take a few months to get your blog up and running with traffic, so most people really need 6 months to a year to figure out if blogging is for them.
Once you’ve got your hosting sorted you need to install WordPress. If you go for one of the companies we’ve suggested, then this is usually pretty easy as they have a quick install button for installing WordPress and getting your site up and running.
Step 5 – Make your website look awesome!
Now the fun part begins! It’s time to start designing your website.
WordPress is a platform that you can do pretty much whatever you can think of design wise, but to do it you need a theme. WordPress does come with some standard default themes but (you can find them if you click on Appearance > Themes once logged into your admin). There are also a lot of free themes available on wordpress.org or just google ‘free wordpress theme’.
Like most things, sometimes it pays to get a little bit more and there are a multitude of paid themes that tend to allow you more freedom and versatility of design then their free counterparts. I personally love the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes (the one we use) because it gives you so many design elements to do whatever you can imagine with your site. There are also many other sites out there such as Theme Forest and Creative Market where people have designed themes for you to install.
When choosing a theme, think of what you would like to see if you were a reader coming to your blog. Try to keep your website clean and easy to read. Sometimes simple really is best.
Step 6 – Start creating
Literally, just start. Play around with your website design. Create a logo. Start writing your blogs. Things don’t have to be perfect at first and the more stuff you do, the more you’ll learn. The most important thing is to enjoy it because that is why you wanted to start in the first place right?
Other things to consider
Branding – If your blog takes off, you want to have a good brand behind you, including a logo. Our article on why your startup needs a branding strategy is a good starting point for this.
Photos – All blogs will need photos (they just make it look pretty). And if you’re not going to take them yourself you cannot just randomly take photos off the internet (well, you can but you’ll be hit for copyright and that will make your cheap to start blog very expensive). We use Deposit Photos for our stock images.
How’s your grammar? – Unless you did a degree in English (actually I know one person who did and I still ask him to this day if it was useful) most of us won’t be perfect writers. Lucky for us the internet has this covered too. Grammarly is a instant grammar checker to help make your writing the best it can be.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission, however we don’t recommend anything we haven’t used.