Wondering how to start a blog and earn an income? I can help. Blogging has been life changing for me. I always wanted to be involved in tourism (studied History and got an MBA), but somehow never worked for a travel company. Instead, I started a travel blog that helped me to showcase destinations I love, in a way I like.
Today that blog brings me more than a full time income, and I have been blessed to work with brands and tourism boards, something that I had only dreamt of.
Blogging can be life-changing for you. If you have a passion for something (food, fashion, travel, DIY, anything, really), you can start a blog, grow your online presence, and build an audience!
In this post, I will be sharing the steps required to start a blog – niche, nuts and bolts and the next steps once the site is live!
So let’s get started!
How to Start a Blog (Detailed Guide)
Disclosure: This site uses affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you use my links and make a purchase without incurring an additional fee yourself.
What do you want to blog about?
Before you start a blog, you need to know what you want to blog about. Your topic – your niche is important. I love traveling, and starting a travel blog was my calling.
- Think about your interests, passions – that’s your topic (eg. travel, food recipes)
- Dig deeper and find your unique take on the topic – that’s your niche (eg. couples travel, budget travel, foodie travel. OR food related like a blog on drinks only, or desserts, or gluten-free meals)
Once you have a few ideas, do a quick Google search to see if there are any blogs or websites that reflect your topic. If it does, it means there is search potential, people are reading about that subject.
If you already follow a few blogs or websites (or even social media influencers), you would know that they have an audience. If you enjoy reading it, there might be others interested in reading similar content!
Once you have set on the topic and a specific niche, it is time to work through the list below to start a blog. I will be sharing the same tools, and applications (paid and free) to get your blog up and running!
- Blog name and getting a domain
- Get hosting
- Download WordPress
- Install a framework, and a theme
- Important blog pages
- Categories and tags
- Write your post
- Publish and share!
- Bonus: Get essential plugins
Come up with a blog name & register the domain
Your blog name is important. This is your space in the digital world. Based on your topic, come up with a blog name that resonates with you. Here are some quick tips,
- Choose a blog name that is relevant to your topic. If you are a travel blog, use ‘travel-related’ words to signify the blog niche and content. You can look for inspiration on Instagram, Google, or any social media network
- It is okay to come up with 3 to 5 options. Using those options run a search on GoDaddy to ensure the domain is available for purchase. Domain URL is www.yourblogname.com and this is unique to you.
- I would avoid names that are hard to remember
- Or has a ‘-’, ‘some character
- Avoid domains that are very similar to what already exists on the internet
- Don’t exceed 3 words when it comes to your domain name. The shorter it is, the better (easy to remember, type in, etc.)
- So you have chosen your blog name, now it’s time to register. We register the domain so that the internet knows that this web address belongs to you. I personally use NameSilo. Their domain registration is very affordable for a year, including the renewal. Domain registrations are on an annual basis. Within your renewal, NameSilo also gives your domain privacy (so your personal information is protected).
Get domain hosting (WordPress.com and WordPress.org)
There are many website hosting platforms. I have been on Blogspot.com, Blogger.com, Wix.com and WordPress.com (since 2009 as a hobby blogger). All of the platforms allow you to write posts with pictures, embed videos, widgets, etc. But let me tell you, WordPress is the BEST of them all.
WordPress has 2 versions – WordPress.com (free and WordPress hosts that) and WordPress.org (need a paid hosting).
If you are serious about blogging you should use WordPress.org as a web platform. The key difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that the free version has limitations in terms of monetization and search reach.
Plus WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress, and so your blog is still owned and maintained inside of WordPress. Self hosted gives you more freedom on how you run your site, and it is truly yours!
I had my first blog on WordPress.com with my own domain URL. At that time, blogging was just a hobby, while I was working full time.
I went to self-hosted> to WordPress.org in 2018 and never looked back. This was definitely a big turning point in my blogging career. Investing in a hosting platform made things even more serious for me, like a personal commitment to actively blog, and write about my travels.
Signing up for SiteGround Web Hosting
So, once you have bought your domain, your next step is to get hosting. All of my blogs are hosted on SiteGround, and I have been with them for 2+ years (since I went to self-hosting). I have been super happy with them. They moved my WordPress.com site over to the new hosting. And all of the newer blogs were added-on later using SiteGround.
I have been incredibly happy with the service, and many of my blogger friends have made the switch to SiteGround once they saw the benefits. My website speed is good (even with ads on SiteGround).
I know when you are new to all this, it is nerve wrecking, but trust me SiteGround’s technical support team will make it easy and smooth for you. Their tech help is available when you need it via phone or chat.
Take a look at their plans.
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that is starting now.
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves website speed.
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like more server resources and GIT integration.
I started with the Basic plan, and later on upgraded to Grow Big when I added more sites for hosting! (I have 5 on the go, I have so many ideas, call me a blogging nerd!)
Trust me you will LOVE them. They are the best in the market. Plus, I never had any downtime, and support is available when needed.
Note: Once you buy hosting, you will need the ‘nameservers’ from SiteGround and use that information in NameSilo. This is done to point the domain to your host.
- Get nameservers information from your host (in this case SiteGround),
- Copy the information
- Head to NameSilo, paste the details under your domain registration section
Now your domain and hosting are talking to each other, and are connected! Yoohoo!
You can buy both domain and hosting by SiteGround. Follow the steps below!
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan
SiteGround has three plans (as mentioned above I started with the StartUp plan and later upgraded to the GrowBig plan)
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
In the next step, you can choose to register a new domain or continue with an existing one.
Step 3: Review and Complete the Order
And finally confirm your details including hosting period (1 to 3 years). Site Scanner is an add-on, which I pay for every year as well!
Now that your domain and hosting is connected, it is time to install the WordPress application, and SiteGround makes it super super easy. WordPress dashboard is what you will be using to write blog posts, store links, pictures, etc.
One of the amazing things about SiteGround is that you can install WordPress in a matter of minutes. It is just ‘one-click’ to get it installed from your Admin panel.
- When you are in your cPanel (you will receive a link to this in your welcome email), find and click on the icon that says “WordPress”
- Click on the “Start” button. This will begin the installation.
- Once in the installation process, you will have to decide which domain you will want to install WordPress on. Click the dropdown menu to the domain you plan on using.
- Next, you will see options to confirm the username, admin email, and password.
- Ensure you choose your desired username and admin email address. You won’t be able to change the username later, so take a minute to choose a name that is easy to remember and choose a strong password.
- (Note this username is different from the display name on your website. You do have options to change your display name in settings on WordPress later.)
- Click “Install Now.”
- Remember to save your username and password.
Now, use the admin URL to log in to your site.
Installing WordPress theme
Once you log in to your wordpress dashboard, you will find a generic theme already installed. You can start writing at this point if you are happy with the theme or choose a different paid theme.
(If you are not interested in a paid theme, you can skip to the next step).
Paid themes are a good option to consider to make your website look pretty. These themes come with tech support should you need any assistance in setting it up. I use paid themes on all of my sites, as it makes them look professional, and are optimized for searches or sharing with friends and followers on social media.
I personally use the Genesis Framework on all of my websites. This is the framework or the parent theme where your site sits on. Genesis Framework is highly secure, and an SEO friendly theme, and it makes it super easy to customise your blog (like colors, fonts, changing buttons, etc to have a more cohesive branding look).
Once I have the Genesis Framework installed, I install another layer of theme (called the child theme to make it even prettier).
As a beginner blogger, I recommend using 17 Avenue themes. Their themes start at $45 USD, and it has the Genesis Framework included in the package (worth $59 USD).
Some of my sites also use Restored316 themes, and they are a premium theme, starting at $75 USD + you pay for the Genesis Framework at $59 USD.
Steps to installing the theme
Once you have bought a theme (or if you wish to change the free theme), follow the steps below.
- From your WordPress admin page, then go to Appearance and select Themes.
- To add a theme, click Add New.
- From this page, you have two ways to add a new theme. If you know the name of the theme you want, search for it in the Theme directory. If it a paid theme (like the 17 Avenue theme, choose upload, and then upload the .zip file)
- Once installed you can either choose Preview to see a demo of the theme or install it by clicking the Install button once you’re ready.
- Once installed, click the Activate link.
- You’re all done, now preview your site to see how it looks.
Quick tips on selecting a theme
Choose a theme that needs minimum customization and something that resonates with your audience. I chose 17 Avenue or Restored316 themes as their demos are easy to customize, and for the most part, I LOVE the way it is, so I install it and add my logo and I am good to go.
This blog is set up on 17 Avenue themes, and I had to minimum changes to the home pages. You can check their options here
Their designs were created with female entrepreneurs in mind, and it shows in their colors.
Whether free or paid, choose a theme that speaks to you and your audience.
A word of caution: Do not spend a ton of time on it though, as you can always change themes.
Once the theme is installed, there are a few items to take care of. Let’s start with the website name and logo.
You can customize it from the WordPress dashboard
Choose Appearance > Customize > Site Identity
You can type in the name of your blog, or create a pretty design with Canva, and upload it here. Canva is completely free to use, and you can create a professional-looking logo from free templates available. Sign up for a free Canva account here
Setting up menus and Important Blog Pages
You must have seen blogs with nice menus and dropdowns. You can get those up using categories and blog pages. Your paid theme will have documentation and a video tutorial to help you to set it up.
But here are the essential pages that you must set up,
- About Page: This page is all about you – the person behind the blog. Take time to write your story, why you started the blog, and include a couple of images. This makes your site trustworthy and something your readers can relate to
- Contact Page: This is for readers to contact you. Use a contact form plugin (free), or simply type in “name”@yourblogname DOT com.”
- Disclaimer/ Terms & Conditions Page
- Work with me
- (Once you start monetizing your site include an affiliate disclosure page)
You can create it by going to your WordPress Dashboard, Pages > Add New
Once the pages are published, head to Appearance > Menus and you can make changes to your navigation bar.
Here you can also add items to your sidebar, footer, etc, using Appearance > Widgets
Categories and Writing Posts
In WordPress every post you write needs to be assigned to a category. Think of the category as a high level topic that you will write multiple posts on. By default, WordPress has an “Uncategorized” category. You can ‘edit’ it to label it as a category of your choice like destinations (for general travel site), or dinner meals (for food site)
You can find the option here form WordPress dashboard > Posts > Categories
Once that is done, you can start writing your posts. You can add and create new posts by clicking on “Posts” on the left-hand side when you are logged in.
WordPress dashboard > Posts > All Posts > Add New
When ready, add the title, featured image, and a category. By default it is assigned to the ‘uncategorized’/’your edited category name’
Write the article, add photos, proofread and PUBLISH!
Share your post!
Don’t forget to share the post with your friends and followers!
Bonus: Install essential plugins
I want to add a note on plugins. You will find this option on the WordPress dashboard. Plugins are a great way to customize your site. And you don’t need any technical background or any coding skills for it to work.
I have listed some essential plugins to get you started.
Remember the fewer plugins you install, it is better for overall site speed and security. Some of these plugins may not mean much to you when you are just starting out, but they will be useful when you start blogging and publishing a lot of content.
- Askimet Spam: To block spam comments
- Contact Form7: For use on your Contact page. This plugin will replace the need to have your email address on the website
- Smush: To compress images, and help to load faster
- Grow by Mediavine: For social media sharing buttons
- WP Super Cache (free) or WP Rocket (paid): To cache your blog to load faster
- Google Analytics Dashboard: To track the visitors to your site
- Yoast SEO: This SEO plugin allows you to optimize your posts to get visitors from search engines.
Once you have your blog up and running, think about creating content that is useful to your audience.
In order to grow your blog, proper keyword research is essential. If you have any questions or need guidance in growing or monetizing your blog, don’t hesitate to contact us.