Consider joining the blogging community? Or is that you’ve already tried and failed, only this time you want to learn how to start a blog the correct way? Whatever the reason, this tutorial is suitable for you.
Before we start, you need to understand two things.
First of all, blogging is a powerful content marketing tool, since it’s an excellent means to communicate with people all over the world. If you have something to say, information to share, teach, solve problems, entertain, don’t dwell on it. Start a blog now.
Second, we’ve been in the blogging industry for over a decade. Moreover, we’ve helped hundreds of people start, build and manage their pages. But, before it became a part of our job, there were times when we knew nothing about blogging platforms or how to apply marketing strategies to create a successful blog. So, trust us.
We know the agony.
Because we’re familiar with that torment, we wrote this detailed 20-minute-read article to help you make wise decisions from the start.
Our step-by-step guide covers the following topics on How to:
- Choose the perfect blogging niche,
- Start a blog with using a content marketing strategy,
- Select the best blogging platform,
- Choose the perfect hosting provider,
- Pick the best WordPress theme,
- Install WordPress plugins,
- Create the essential blog pages.
So, pay attention. Take notes and bookmark this tutorial to ensure you can go over the steps again if needed.
Find or Choose the Perfect Niche for Your Blog
“I follow this blog because it has an ultra neat layout,” said no one, ever.
No person in the whole galaxy visits a blog because of its looks, unless that someone is gathering design ideas.
All of us read because we see value in the content. Whether that value is information, education, entertainment, it doesn’t matter. The point is that the reading material fulfills our needs.
Thus, deciding on a specific niche (and related niches) must be your primary step. Even before you jump to learning how to start a blog.
To find out the benefits of a blogging niche, you need what it is and how you can use it to achieve your goals.
What Is a Blogging Niche?
A niche is a dedicated section of a broader topic.
For example, if cooking is the wider topic, then the dedicated section could be junk food or healthy meals. Likewise, if blogging is the main topic, the sections could be WordPress, or Blogger, or both.
You can get even more specific within the sections alone. For instance, you can opt for WordPress themes or plugins only.
Still unsure how having a niche concerns you and why should you care about it? Let’s put it this way.
A blogging niche is the focus topic of your blog.
From the moment you start a blog, every post you write must belong to the focal topic and connect to other posts. Think of it as a tree, where each leaf represents one of your blog posts. Whether alone or in a group, top or bottom branch, you’re aware what kind of tree it is just by looking at the leaf.
That tree is your blog — a marketing niche — and its purpose is to speak to your targeted audience.
Why Is a Perfect Niche the Backbone of Your Blog?
Your blogging niche is the pillar of your blog. Having one gives your website a sense of organization. It keeps everything together and stops you from drifting off. Yet, that magnet effect is not the core purpose of a niche.
A marketing niche’s holy duty is to help you define your intended audience, because you’ll need to learn about them.
That knowledge navigates you through the blog posts by providing you with blogging ideas.
- Who are you writing for;
- Why are you writing.
A specific audience helps you discern and understand their issues and desires. Once you identify their needs or problems, it’ll be easier for you to communicate with them through your blog posts.
Remember, addressing those needs is the only way for you to grab the readers’ attention.
How to Define the Perfect Blog Niche
The definition of a specific blogging niche starts with three questions.
Question #1: What are the goals I want to achieve with my blog?
Create a list of your goals. Here a few examples to get your gears running.
I want to:
- Increase website traffic,
- Promote products or services,
- Start a new business and attract customers,
- Make money online (courses, affiliate marketing, paid ads, etc.),
- Share my passion (cooking, crafting, photography, gardening, etc.) with others.
Question #2: Who is my targeted audience?
If you run a business or have one on your mind, you’re familiar with the intended audience. They are your existing or future customers.
Likewise, if your goal is to share your passion, your readers might be individuals who share the same interests or hobbies.
That being said, choose something you’re terrific at, and identify your specific audience.
Question #3: What value will I provide to my targeted audience?
Although demanding, each blog post must provide some value. Otherwise, it’ll go unnoticed.
Value identification starts with getting to know your readers.
For example, if you’re writing cooking recipes for beginners, it would be a total bust to write about meals only experienced chefs can prepare.
Sometimes a small portion of your readers will find greater value than the rest. On other occasions, expect opposite outcomes. But, as long as all readers get even the slightest benefit, you’re a content marketing hero.
Focus on Attracting The Right People
We’ve seen this countless times.
Rookies strive to attract as many people as possible.
Hey, I’ll write one post about music, then one about the kitchen, the other about computers…
Stop. Right away.
Providing value doesn’t revolve around attracting every person on the planet.
Attracting the right people means attracting individuals who’ll benefit from your posts by finding useful information or a solution to their problem.
Along the same line, you’ll benefit from your readers too.
Delighted readers will either become loyal customers or regular visitors to your blog.
How to Start a Blog With the Help of a Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing (CM) strategy is often overseen.
While some beginners are unaware they need one, others think it’s too much trouble or a waste of time. However, both groups pay the price sooner or later.
Even a brief CM strategy, or an outline if you wish, will make your life much easier.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
According to the Content Marketing Institute:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
We’ll simplify this content marketing definition. Content marketing is attracting and building up an audience that’ll build up your business. Or, in this case, your blog.
Although many marketers separate the brand from content marketing, we don’t. In our opinion, content must reflect and represent YOU, your brand and business, even though it’s intended to satisfy the readers’ needs.
Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
As reported by Google, content marketing has been on the constant rise ever since 2011.
CM owes its popularity to traditional advertising’s intrusiveness. Today, the only way to reach people is for them to allow you to step into their comfort zone. If you’re wondering what this story has to do with you and your blog, the answer is that content marketing gives things a meaning. And that meaning is the info your readers are searching for.
Furthermore, an excellent and well-rounded content marketing strategy:
- Increases blog traffic,
- Attracts the right people,
- Converts visitors into readers,
- Grows loyalty among existing followers,
- Raises content development skills,
- Reduces content curation time,
- Saves advertising costs,
- Reduces bad marketing practices like keyword-stuffed content, paid and spammy backlinks, etc.
And now we’re up for the fun part.
How to Develop a Brief Content Marketing Strategy
Once you figure out your marketing niche and the targeted audience, everything else will fall into place.
So start with creating a name for your blog.
#1: Create a brand name for your blog
Your brand name can be anything you want. However, it would be ideal for the name to represent your blogging niche, business, products, or services.
If you get stuck while figuring this out, spy on the competition for ideas and inspiration.
There’s even a variety of online tools you can use, like the blog name generator.
PRO TIP: Make the brand name short, catchy and memorable. As a result, you can use the brand name as a domain name for your blog.
#2: Design a meaningful logo
A logo can be a sign, a typography of your brand name, or a combination of both. The choice is yours.
However, we recommend to keep the logo clean, neat, and simple.
The common misconception is that clarity limits creativity. We disagree.
A meaningful logo must:
- Represent the brand,
- Be easy to read and/or understand,
- Contain colors of the brand or product.
Now, if achieving these goals doesn’t ask for ingenuity, nothing does.
#3: Make a content guideline
A content guideline will give your whole blog a sense of unity. Once you create it, you must stick to it. Of course, you can change your guidelines and adapt them over time; just don’t experiment too often.
Create a guideline that represents your brand and, at the same time, is easy to apply and follow.
Let’s take a glimpse at several examples.
To create a content guideline, you must decide:
- How are you going to address your readers,
- In what way are you going to represent yourself (your brand). Determine how you want your customers to perceive you (friendly, professional, academic, neutral, etc.),
- Choose a style for your headlines (AP capitalization, sentence capitalization, etc.),
- What images and graphics will you use (realistic images, color or black and white pictures, etc.)
- How often will you post. Choose a deadline you’re comfortable with, or rather a posting schedule you can honor.
- Quality over quantity. If you have nothing to say, remain silent and consider other ideas. Even if it means you’ll write a blog post every two weeks.
This list is far from complete, but baby-hero steps, fellow writers! You might also check out our article on What It Means to Be a Content Writer for further guidance on content writing.
Now, content marketing looks like a badger, doesn’t it?
But CM is necessary, except if you couldn’t care less if someone’s going to notice your work or not. In that case, forget everything and stick to the old approach. However, we urge you to at least try the wiser method.
The clever manner on your how to start a blog tour also involves selecting the best blogging platform.
How to Choose the Best Platform to Start a Blog
Most tutorials on how to start a blog begin with how to choose a name for a blog, or how to choose a platform. That unprofessional practice steers beginners in the wrong direction.
They get the idea about blogging and start a blog at once. After a while, or rather after a few posts, they abandon their blogs. Why?
Because they got lost in the mess of disorganization. Also, they failed to find meaning and purpose. So, even if you’re impatient and eager to start a blog, give yourself time to develop a plan.
Sort out what you want and why, then move onto finding the perfect platform.
WordPress Is the Leading Blogging Platform
Although many free blogging platforms exist in our galaxy, for this purpose we’ll discuss the self-hosted WordPress version.
What is WordPress?
WordPress (WP) is a free open-source Content Management System (CMS) and has been around since 2003. This CMS is based on PHP and MySQL databases, and its features include themes (layout templates) and plugins (addons).
Even though people associate WordPress with blogging, WP also supports other types of web content:
- Media galleries,
- Online stores,
- Mailing lists.
Why Should You Use WordPress to Start a Blog?
WordPress powers 33% of all web pages around the internet, including blogs.
Even the most popular brands, like Facebook, Flickr, Mozilla, Microsoft, and IBM, use WordPress to run their websites and platforms.
Nonetheless, the top reasons why you should use WP to start a blog are:
- User-friendly interface,
- Supreme performance,
- High security,
- SEO friendly,
- Customizable layout design,
- Responsive mobile-friendly interface,
- You can manage it on the go.
In order to achieve and experience the full power of WordPress, you’ll need to self-host your blog.
What Does It Mean to Self-Host a WordPress Blog?
The main differences between the .org and the .com version?
While WP.org offers access to its free resource, e.i. WordPress, WP.com is a blogging platform. The .com variant runs on WordPress (.org) and offers free blog registration and hosting.
Of course, the free hosting version has its own limitations, such as:
- You can’t use a custom domain unless you pay for that option;
- The choice of themes is limited. Plus, most free themes are outdated and pretty ugly, so to speak;
- You can’t install your own theme, nor plugins. This robs you of so many useful functions;
- WordPress ads will appear on your blog, and there’s nothing you can do about it;
- Your blog must apply to their community rules; otherwise, they can end your account whenever they want.
If you’re serious about your blog and want to have everything under control, the self-hosted version is the right choice.
Hey, even WordPress.org tells you it’s better to self-host your blog than to use their .com version.
How to Start a Blog Using Self-Hosted WordPress
There are two ways to start a WordPress blog and self-host it:
- Find a web hosting provider. Download WP from WordPress.org and install it onto your hosting account.
- Find web hosting that offers WordPress hosting and save yourself the trouble.
Either way, both cases ask for a good web hosting provider.
How to Start a Blog by Choosing the Proper Web Hosting Provider
Ever since Google became more demanding and tougher on the grades, it’s no longer possible to go with the first hosting provider that comes along.
To get even the slightest chance to compete for Google ranking, your blog needs to be:
- Fast (servers, cloud service, theme);
- Reliable (servers, cloud service, theme);
- Secure (SSL certificates, servers, cloud, theme and plugins);
- Mobile friendly (a responsive and optimized theme);
- SEO optimized (on-site optimization built with best SEO practices).
As a cherry on top, you must also provide quality content that satisfies the readers’ needs. And yes, that nasty Google takes everything into account and even measures how well readers like your blog. This list includes likeness-indicators such as the time people spend on your blog, the bounce rate, organic backlinks (shares, mentions), etc.
Now you’re wondering if it’s even worth to start a blog, because you think you stand no chance. On the contrary.
The new Google algorithms represent a once in a lifetime shot!
And you’d be silly not to use this opportunity. Plus, you can get exceptional WP hosting for a reasonable price.
We recommend SiteGround WordPress hosting (affiliate).
Who or What Is SiteGround?
Established back in 2004, SiteGround is a private web hosting provider company, registered in Bulgaria.
Unlike other known hosting providers, such as Bluehost, HostGator, or HostMonster, who share the same owner, SiteGround is independent.
Because of that, the quality of SiteGround’s services hasn’t declined. They also work round the clock to improve their products.
Why Should You Start a Blog using SiteGround Hosting?
Beside the fact that even WordPress.org recommends SiteGround?
SiteGround has a base of over 2,000,000 active domains. In addition, they are one the most top-rated hosting providers, and their customer service is outstanding.
Other than that, SiteGround, as an extra to its hosting service, offers free:
- WordPress install,
- WP migrator (move your existing WP blog to SiteGround),
- SSL certificate by Let’s Encrypt and HTTPS,
- Cloudflare CDN,
- Daily backup,
- Unmetered traffic,
- 24/7 support,
- Unlimited MySQL DBs.
And that’s just their basic StartUp WordPress hosting plan.
Although their most popular plan is GrowBig, we chose GoGeek because of additional features like:
- A pre-installed Git for WordPress,
- More server power,
- PCI compliant servers,
- Advanced priority WP support.
Not to mention that we paid less than we would’ve if we went for the cheapest plan with other equally fast and reliable hosting providers.
Thanks to the combination of SiteGround, an excellent theme and a remarkable site builder, we made Titan Writer look this awesome and functional.
And you can do it too.
We’ll get to that soon. First, let us show you how to start a blog on SiteGround.
How to Start a Blog on SiteGround
First, you need to visit the SiteGround (affiliate) website.
Note: If you use our affiliate link to purchase SiteGround hosting, we may earn a commission (the same goes for other referral links as well). In that way, you’ll help us run Titan Writer so we can continue to provide free tutorials and articles, useful to you and others. For more information, read our full Affiliate Disclaimer. Thank you for supporting Titan Writer and our mission.
Step #1: Select a Hosting Plan
Select one of the three available SiteGround WordPress plans.
Click the GET PLAN button.
Step #2: Choose a Domain
#1: Choose your SiteGround domain (blog name).
Note: SiteGround charges a bit more for domains than its competition. However, when summed up, the total amount is still lower than with other providers. Plus, it’s good to have everything in one place.
#2: Select Register a new domain.
#3: Enter your domain name in the field below.
#4: Select your domain. You can choose between following domains:
- standard (.com, .org, .biz, etc.),
- country (.at, us, .co.uk, etc.),
- and special (.online, .blog, .guru, .photo, etc.).
Note: SiteGround offers various domain price ranges (.com and .blog have different prices.)
#5: Click on the PROCEED button.
If your domain is available, you’ll get a CONGRATULATIONS confirmation.
Step #3: Finalize Account Registration
Fill in the SiteGround registration details.
#1: Enter your valid email address and choose a password for your SiteGround account.
Hint: Your full email address is your SG username.
#2: Enter your personal information.
#3: Fill out the payment fields.
You can either use a credit or a debit card (as long as there are available funds).
#4: The card number is the largest number on the front side of your card. (Not the same as the bank account number.)
#5: Enter the card expiration date. (Front side.)
#6: Fill in the cardholder name. (The name of the person to whom the card belongs to. Front side.)
#7: Enter the CVV code. (Three digits on the back side, next to the signature field.)
If the billing address (the address of the person to whom the card belongs to) is the same as the contact information, then you’re good to go.
#8: If the address is different, uncheck the option, and fill in additional information.
Step #4: Revise Purchase Information
#9: Revise your purchase.
You can make changes to the plan if you select the little button on the right side of the plan’s name. Also, you can set the location for your server. However, this is irrelevant since you’ll be using their CDN service anyway. And, you can change the hosting duration period (12 months, 24, etc.).
#10: SiteGround also provides additional services, such as domain privacy and a SG Site Scanner.
We didn’t choose either.
#11: The next step is to check the confirmation box and click the PAY NOW button.
Once your payment checks out, you’ll get the receipt by email, followed by a confirmation email with your account details. Follow the instructions and go to the user area.
Step #4: SiteGround Will Install Your WordPress Blog for You
Upon your first visit to the user area, SiteGround (affiliate) will once again ask you what kind of website would you like to install (WordPress, Joomla, etc.).
#1: Select WordPress and enter username and password for your blog.
Note: These are not the same as your SG account details, since the login to your blog is separated from your SiteGround account.
PRO TIP: For security reasons, set a different password for your WP account.
Until last year , SiteGround used to install a fresh WP site with the default WordPress theme. But, since they wanted to make things easier for beginners, they introduced the new SG Starter feature.
So now, once your WordPress installation starts, you get to choose the theme right away.
How to Start a Blog by Choosing the Best WordPress Theme
Your blog’s functionality depends on the theme you choose.
A decent theme must:
- Be responsive (mobile-friendly),
- Eliminate the need for additional customization plugins,
- Have a fast page-loading time,
- Have a built-in SEO base.
It’s easy to get confused with all those themes looking awesome at first glance. However, we would like to recommend you a free WordPress theme — the OceanWP (affiliate) theme.
Why Should You Start a Blog With the OceanWP Theme?
Unlike the OceanWP theme, most available themes are:
- Bloated and heavy,
- SEO enemies,
- Uncustomizable without additional css and js plugins,
- Unresponsive and require addons,
- Incompatible with the latest essential plugins,
- Incompatible with page builders, etc.
These are only partial reasons as to why Nicolas Lecocq, founder of OceanWP, made a universal theme that follows the latest and best WordPress and internet practices.
In addition, the OceanWP theme corresponds to the term one size fits all. You get to choose between 13 free demos and eight free extensions. These demos and extensions come with the Ocean Extra free plugin.
OceanWP counts over 400,000 active installs. And if you ask the users, OceanWP is the best WordPress theme, with over 2,200 5-star reviews.
Those were the reasons we went for the OceanWP ourselves. Also, with the use of the OceanWP Core Extensions Bundle, the results are astonishing.
How to Choose the OceanWP Theme During the SiteGround WordPress Installation
SiteGround (affiliate) will offer you a bunch of themes.
#1: In the upper left corner, you’ll see a type-in search field. Enter OceanWP and search.
#2: Click SELECT, and move on.
However, if you chose a different theme and would like to change it later, check out our tutorial on how to add custom WordPress themes.
How to Start a Blog by Installing Plugins
Since SiteGround made the installation process rather easy, right after you’ve selected a theme, it’ll guide you through their choice of the most essential WordPress plugins.
Install the Webpage Builder Plugin
First in a row is the free Elementor (affiliate) WP page builder.
SiteGround recommends it, and so do we.
Above all, we adore how the OceanWP and Elementor function together.
Also, Elementor is a real-time drag-and-drop builder. You see the changes while you work, so that you can customize the page until you’re satisfied with the results. Other page builders, like SiteOrigin, are blind-act oriented.
Keep the Elementor option selected and continue.
Install Essential Plugins
This is the list of plugins that SiteGround will offer you during the installation process:
- Contact Form, a plugin for contact forms by WPforms;
- All-Inclusive Jetpack, for site stats, optimization, widgets, and security;
- Shop, a WooCommerce plugin for online stores;
- Calendar, if you plan to host or promote events;
- FooGallery, to create an image gallery;
- WP Google Maps, if you run a business and want to include your physical address;
- Google Analytics, a plugin by MonsterInsights;
- Optimize for SEO, a plugin by Yoast SEO;
- Grow Subscribers List, a subscription plugin by OptinMonster.
We recommend holding onto three addons from that list:
- Google Analytics,
- Optimize for SEO.
Since we’ve experienced issues with WPforms from the start, we went for Ninja Forms instead.
As for the subscribers list, you can always go for the basic Jetpack subscription form, or you can pick MailChimp or other free mailing services.
After the plugin-selection, SiteGround will set up your WordPress blog.
When the installation process finishes, you’ll be logged into your site and ready to design significant pages.
Note: You’ll still need to customize your blog and set up plugins until you achieve desired looks and functionality.
How to Start a Blog by Creating Significant Pages
Almost all themes come with pre-made pages, including the most important pages:
- About page
- Contact page
These three pages are the ones you need to attend to first, so don’t start posting until you’ve taken care of that.
Essential Page #1: The Homepage
Your Homepage is your billboard, an insight into the best parts of your full offer.
Therefore, introduce your blog visitors to the VALUE they can expect from you.
PRO TIP: Keep the homepage simple. Restrain yourself from adding every widget or plugin you can think of. A homepage must be welcoming, not intrusive and aggressive.
Essential Page #2: The About Page
The About page is the second most important page on your blog.
Also, try not to make the same slip like the rest of the internet does. Or like we used to make in the past.
Thanks to Henneke Duistermaat, we’ve learned that the about page shouldn’t be about us.
Instead, the about page must work as an extension to the homepage and offer detailed information on the value you have to offer and how you intend to offer it.
Of course, you can add details about yourself, as long it’s relevant to your readers.
Essential Page #3: The Contact Page
Allow your readers to get in touch with you by adding your email address and appending a contact form.
PRO TIP: For security reasons, use a different email account for contact purpose. You can open up a new account with Yahoo or Google. Or, if you’ve chosen SiteGround (affiliate) as your hosting provider, you have the option to create unlimited custom emails.
That’s it. At last!
Now you can Write Your First Blog Post.
But, before you get onto serious blogging and site customizations, consider adding a WordPress child theme.
If you have any questions regarding this topic or anything else, don’t be shy. Ask away! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.