How to Start a Blog: Complete Step-by-Step Instructions for Beginners
Step-by-step instructions to start a blog!
When it comes to promoting a product, service, or business on the web, certain strategies have become practically mandatory: having a website, maintaining social media profiles, and especially, starting a blog.
Having a blog is one of the simplest and most practical ways of sharing your knowledge with others, increasing your market authority, and working with content marketing.
And that’s not all. Through relevant and educational content published in a blog, you can educate your audience about your product and, as a result, speed up the buying journey and generate more business opportunities.
The good news is that it’s very easy to start and maintain a blog, even if you don’t know anything about programming or design.
This post includes a step-by-step guide to start your own blog from scratch, using free and easy-to-use tools.
Shall we get started?
Why is having a blog important?
Many people wonder whether starting a blog is still worthwhile. After all, social media networks seem to have become favorites for content among internet users.
The truth is that blogs are still very important tools for any business’ marketing strategies. Check out a few advantages of this type of channel:
- Greater market authority: To maintain a successful blog, it’s essential that you publish quality content that’ll help your audience solve their problems. By doing so, you and your business will be seen as authorities in your niche.
- Increased traffic and brand recognition: Creating a blog is one of the simplest ways to generate organic web visits. And the more people access your blog, the more your business will be recognized and remembered by people willing to buy.
- Educate the market: If your brand is new and the product or service you sell is in a niche that is little known to your audience, you can use your blog to educate them. Through educational and quality materials, you can present the features and benefits of your product to potential buyers in a much more didactic and attractive way.
- Generate business opportunities: How many times have you searched Google for the solution to a problem and ended up buying a different product? With the right strategies, your blog content will have greater chances of being seen by people who are looking for a solution to a problem or need. This is also a great opportunity to sell more!
- Permanent results: Unless you decide to delete your blog, all the content you publish, especially evergreen material, will continue to attract visitors on Google and generate results.
How do you start a blog from scratch?
Now that you’re familiar with all the advantages that having a blog offers, check out our step-by-step instructions:
If you have already chosen the topic you will talk about on your blog, feel free to skip this step. If you are still unsure, we have a few tips that can help you out.
Talk about things you like
To be a blogger, you don’t need a college degree about the topic. You need experience. A website on cooking doesn’t necessarily need to be written by a chef, for instance. Anyone who is skilled in the art of cooking can post recipes.
Talk about topics that relate to your product
If your objective is to make money from the blog, you should definitely write content that educates your audience about the product you sell.
Talk about topics people are interested in
Before you start a blog, it is important to find out if people are interested in what you are going to write about. Carry out some research on social media, read the comments section from other blogs, and use tools such as Google Trends to learn what users are searching for at the moment.
A good name is one that makes people immediately think about the topic you’re writing about. It should also be simple and easy to write, so that people can find it easily, and also, recommend it to their friends.
Another valuable tip is to avoid generic names, such as www.trees.com (fictitious name, just as an example). Besides facing a lot of competition, it doesn’t really say much about what you write on your blog (is it about planting trees, decorating Christmas trees, artificial trees?).
The ideal thing is to find a balance between simplicity and accurately defining what your content is about, such as www.greatindoortrees.com (fictitious name, once again).
If the domain is already taken, you can make minor changes, and still keep your original idea. You can simply change the adjective, www.bestindoortrees.com, or use hyphens, www.great-indoor-trees.com.
Some entrepreneurs already have their own domain, and just have to add the blog page: www.yourproduct.com/blog.
If this is not your case, you will need to register your domain to make sure other people won’t be able to use it. Always go for .com domains, because they show up first in search engines. You can also choose .net, .org, or .art.
Be careful when using very specific domains, such as ones with city codes. This will make it harder to expand your business in the future.
A web hosting service is the company that will put your blog on the air, with every page and functionality it needs to work.
But I don’t have money to invest, so what do I do?
It is also possible to create a blog without hiring the services of a web hosting server. You can use free platforms such as WordPress, blogger, or Tumblr, but it’s important to realize that this may bring you some disadvantages:
1) You won’t be able to choose your domain name
In a free blog, your URL will necessarily contain the name of the platform in which it is hosted, for instance: www.greatindoortrees.wordpress.com.
2) You won’t be able to register for Google Adsense
This option won’t allow you to advertise ads from Google Adwords, which is one of the main ways of generating revenue as a blogger.
3) You don’t own your blog
That’s right! As your blog is being hosted on a company’s server, it is possible that you wake up one day to find your page has been deleted without prior notice.
4) You come off as a bit unprofessional
Having a free blog gives the impression that you don’t really value the content there. And if you don’t, why would other people?
If you decided that the best option for your blog is a web hosting server, it’s now time to choose the software that will keep it working. This kind of software is known as CMS (Content System Management).
It is this program that will allow you to change the appearance of your blog, create pages, links, and insert images, everything to make the content more appealing to your readers.
Most of the online tutorials recommend WordPress for CMS, and we’re not going to take a different direction. After all, 28% of all Internet websites use this service. Including this one!
More than being simple and easy to browse, WordPress offers countless template and plugin options, which makes it the best choice for all kinds of blogs.
Installing WordPress is very simple. All you need is a web server which supports PHP language and a MySQL database.
But I have no idea what those things are!
Don’t worry, we’ll explain!
In simple terms, the server is nothing but a “supercomputer”, which will allow your blog to function properly. It will also store all the images you use on your posts, in a folder just like the ones you have on your computer.
And the database? Imagine that the database is a box. Inside this box, you will store all the information and configuration of your blog. All the posts will also be kept there.
So far, so good?
And, lastly, how do I install WordPress on the server?
Most servers already have the one-click install option from WordPress. But if it doesn’t work, you can install the CMS manually.
If you choose another web hosting service, no problem! You just need to download the files from WordPress by accessing this link. All you have to do is transfer these files on your server through an FTP client (you can use FileZilla, for instance) and set up the database with phpMyAdmin. You can find more information here.
Plugins that may be useful for you in the beginning
With the help of plugins, you can make your blog more user-friendly, faster, and safer. And best of all, most of them are free and very easy to install.
We have prepared a list with some options for those who have just started blogging!
This plugin allows you to connect your blog with Google Analytics and get information such as number of visits per month, most visited posts, time spent on each post, and more stats that will help you optimize your content and keep on bringing more readers.
The name says it all. Yoast SEO focuses on the optimization of your content so that it ranks better. The plugin suggests you choose a keyword for your content, write a short description, besides giving you a preview of what will appear on search engines.
It also analyses your post to find points you can improve.
Autoptimize will clear everything that is unnecessary from your website code. In other words, it will render your blog faster, without the need for a developer.
Floating Social Bar
The more people share your texts, the more traffic you will get in your blog and the more exposition you will have. Consequently, you will increase your profits. Floating Social Bar helps you to improve these figures, since it allows you to share your posts on the main social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Ewww Image Optimizer
This plugin will compact the images in your blog, making them lighter, which will lead to a faster loading blog. This also helps you rank better.
How much does it cost to keep a blog?
Many people give up on starting a professional blog because of the investment. However, the only things you have to spend money on are the purchase of the domain and the web hosting service. Both have different plans, for different budgets.
We recommend you get an annual plan, since the investment is not so big, proportionally, and you get an adequate cost-benefit.
More than just price, it’s important to take the contract period into consideration. One month is not enough, whereas one year is more than a sufficient amount of time to find out if your blog has the potential to become a source of income, or not.
From the moment you access the administration area of your blog, you can make as many changes as you like to make it look the way you want it to.
WordPress has a number of free themes for you to choose from, and any one of them can be installed in a few clicks.
The theme encompasses everything that relates to the appearance of your page, including colors, menu, fonts, and much more.
To change the theme of the blog, you just have to click the button “Appearance” on the menu on the left side of the page.
Unless you have a very specific design in mind, any of the free options will suit you. Just make sure you pick a theme that relates to the topic you’ll be writing about.
A blog on minimalism, for instance, requires a more sober layout, in black and white, and a simple menu.
If you don’t like any of the options WordPress offers, you can install your own theme.
Just click on “Appearance”, and then on “Add new”.
A good theme should be:
If your blog is confusing, you will have problems in attracting readers and keeping the ones you already have, which will have a negative impact on your conversion rates.
More users access the web from mobile devices such as smartphones than from desktops and notebooks. Therefore, the theme you choose should be easily adjusted to the different screen sizes.
Even though most of the themes won’t affect the loading speed of your blog, it’s important to carry out a few test. After all, no one likes slow websites, right?
After you created the blog, it’s time for you to learn more about each of the options available on the menu.
This is the page you access after logging in.
There you’ll see the most recent posts on your blog, and more information. It looks like this:
Here you can add new posts, and visualize or edit old ones.
This is the library with images, videos, and PDF files you have uploaded to your blog.
In this option, you can add pages, and visualize or edit existing ones. It can be used to create a page with your contact information, pictures, and other content that is relevant to your readers.
Here you can manage your comments, approve them, or reply to them.
Here you can change the looks of your blog. You can change the theme, the title, and also personalize the menus.
This is where you can see all the plugins installed on your blog, and also add new ones or remove existing ones.
If you wish to add other people that can write posts for your blog, this is where you go. You can also attribute functions to each user, such as “Administrator”.
Safety tip: a user that will only write posts should have the “Collaborator” attribute. Then the post can only be published with your approval.
Here you will find all the settings in WordPress, such as language, number of posts per page, and how the comments will appear.
Moving on in our tutorial, the next step is to write your first post.
In this topic, we will go over each tool and explain how you can use them to improve the experience of your readers. But if you want tips on how to create appealing posts, we recommend you read this article.
- From the Posts menu, select “Add new”. You will be redirected to the screen below:
This is where you write the title of your post. Whenever you write content, take your time to choose the best title possible. This is important, since most users read in an F-shaped pattern, that is, after reading the title, they read in a horizontal movement, to see if that content is genuinely interesting to them.
If the headline doesn’t pique their curiosity, they won’t keep reading.
There is no single formula for blog post titles, but make sure you don’t write a very long one, since it doesn’t work well on mobile devices.
Another important tip: avoid wordplay that requires specific knowledge to understand what is in the post. Your title should be clear about the content that will be in the text.
The big area is where you will write your text. You can write directly on this area, or copy and paste from a Word document. Just make sure you paste without formatting.
When you’re writing, avoid long blocks of text. The ideal length of a paragraph is from 4 to 6 lines, so that the reader can take a breather in between.
Toolbar: what the icons are for
Used to add pictures, graphs, or videos to your post.
Click on “Add Media” and then you can pick an image from your database or upload from your computer.
As this is your first post, you will probably have to do the latter.
When picking images, select the ones that are in high resolution, well cropped, and created by you or from a public domain. This way you avoid having copyright problems.
If it’s a screenshot or an image you got from another website, make sure you attribute the source.
From this drop-down menu, you can select the text formatting, if it’s a Paragraph, Heading 1 (which the main title, and you should use once only), Heading 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, which are the intertitles. The use of different headings improves the scannability of the text and build a hierarchy in the information contained in the text.
Just like in Microsoft Word, bold is used to highlight sentences in your text.
Also used to highlight foreign expressions, a word used out of its natural context, or in quotes.
Extremely useful to create lists in the text, as in the image below.
Use this kind of list when writing a tutorial or any kind of text that has a chronological order. As in the example below:
Use this when you wish to include a quote from another person in your post.
Another functionality just like you have in Microsoft Word, but which should be used only if you wish to format the text in a different way. We recommend you keep it aligned to the left, unless you are writing in a different language such as Arabic or Mandarin.
That icon that looks like a chain is used to post links on the text, directing your reader to other content, whether internal or external.
To create a link, select the keyword you want to link to the address, click on the “Insert/edit link”, paste the URL, and click on “Apply”.
Whenever you place a link on your text, you should select the option “Open link in a new tab” in the “Link options” menu, so that the user remains on your post as long as possible.
How to add videos to your post
Adding videos hosted on YouTube or Vimeo can complement your content and make it more complete.
To do so, choose the video you want to share.
Then, click on Share, and then, embed.
Copy the code generated by YouTube (Ctrl + C).
Go back to WordPress. On the button “Text”, in which you see the code of the post, choose the part of the text in which you want to insert the video and paste the code (Ctrl + V). Go to the “Visual” mode, check the position and that’s it!
On Vimeo, choose the video and click on “Share”, copy the link, and repeat the rest of the procedure.
To get more visits to your blog, it needs to rank among the first results in search engines. And even if you’re just starting out, this has to be one of your goals! And this is what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about!
If you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, it will be easier to optimize your text and make sure your post gets the visibility it deserves.
Here, you’ll be able to choose a keyword for your content, edit the way it appears on search engines, write a meta description, among other optimizations.
The plugin itself carries out a thorough analysis of your text to see if it complies with the best practices of SEO.
This is the text that goes under the title in search engines. This description should have up to 156 characters.
Think about what people search for on Google when they’re looking for the information you have in your text. This is how you pick your keyword.
The slug is the post web address. For the post https://hotmart.com/en/blog/create-online-courses/, the slug is create-online-courses, for example.
The slug is generated automatically from the title of your post. But you can edit it, so it’s not too long. Make sure it contains the keyword from your text.
The featured image will be highlighted in the text. That’s why you should choose something that relates directly to the topic, and presents a professional image.
It is interesting that you name this image with your keyword, to improve your SEO even more.
Even though you’re just starting out, use some tags to identify what’s in your content. So when a reader searches for content in your blog, she will be able to find it more easily.
This will be very useful, especially in the future, when your blog is filled with posts.
After following all the steps above, the only thing left is to click on “Publish”. Congratulations! You have just created your first post!
If you’re still unsure about it, you can save it as a draft first, and see a preview. You just have to click on “Preview”, and it will take you to a new tab in which you’ll be able to check if the post has the appearance you wanted.
Promote your blog
Creating a blog is just the first step.
Your mission, from now on, is to get more readers to your page, and to so you’ll have to carry out a multi-channel promotion, especially on social media.
Develop partnerships with other blogs to exchange guest posts and send your texts to people who may be interested in the topics you write about.
This will be hard work, especially in the beginning, but it may bring a significant return in visibility, and consequently, in getting more visitors.
More than attracting new readers, you need to make sure you get people to visit your blog frequently.
That’s why you need to focus on creating high-quality content, which helps people to solve problems. When your readers realize the value you present in your posts, they will become frequent visitors, and in time, they may become customers.
The best thing about being a professional blogger is the possibility of generating passive income. In other words, you spend a few hours writing content, but then you can make money while they are online.
But creating content is not the only way in which you can make money from your blog.
It may seem far-fetched, but if you follow the tips we’re about to share with your, you can make a regular income, working from home.
Making your blog grow organically requires a lot of effort and patience. That’s why ads are an alternative for you to speed up the growth of your business. To be able to display ads on your blog, you need to sign up for Google Adsense, which is Google’s advert program.
Then, you will receive a commission every time your readers click on an ad banner on your page. It’s important not to overdo it, though, and have too many adds that lead to a bad user experience.
A sponsored post is a text commissioned by a company, so that you recommend the product or service they sell.
They work just like Affiliate Marketing, the only difference being that you only get paid for the sponsored post once you publish it.
Although this is a kind of advertising, the sponsored posts you publish on your blog should follow the same editorial line from the content you post. Your audience has to see that post as something genuine.
Be very careful when recommending products, and choose only the ones you know and trust. Choosing poorly may lead to losing credibility.
Affiliate Marketing works like this: the Affiliate promotes the product from an entrepreneur or company, in exchange for a commission for every sale made. But in order for this model to work, you need to choose products that relate to the topics in your blog, and aligned with the interest of your buyer persona.
Choose a good Affiliate Program
There are many companies that offer different Affiliate Programs, be it for physical or digital products. You should carry out a thorough research before you choose the one that is really rewarding for your work. The commissions usually range from 4 to 8% of the total price of the sale, but at Hotmart, platform that specializes in digital products, this commission may be up to 80%.
Kinds of promotion
Besides the sale of products, there are many different formats of Affiliate Programs. The Affiliate may negotiate the cost per click and make money every time someone clicks on a banner ad. Another option is to negotiate the cost for every thousand impressions, which is the price paid by the advertiser every time the ad reaches one thousand views.
Create an online course
If you still haven’t started working as a digital producer, this is a great opportunity for you to start, since you already have the in-depth knowledge of the subject and an audience that is interested in the content you share.
Online courses present an attractive business model, as they don’t require a lot of initial investment, and are scalable. Once your product is online, you have the possibility of generating income from it, without increasing your operational costs.
Here on our blog, we have a complete tutorial on how to create an online course, you should check it out afterwards.
If you got this far, you’ve already managed to start your blog and you’re ready to post!
Remember that you have already taken the most difficult step. From now on, it is up to you to create high-quality content that keeps on bringing people to your page.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional blogger, you should also read our post on how to make money from a blog.