What is a blog? In simple terms, blog is the shortening of “weblog”. It is an online journal or informational website displaying information in the reverse chronological order, with latest posts appearing first. It is a platform where a writer or even a group of writers share their views, usually on an individual subject.
Here are a couple of blogs that I really like:
- For Growing Baby is a new blog about the safety and development of children featuring important information on car seats, high chairs, baby beds, and more.
- Spend With Pennies is a well developed food blog for easy home cooking with recipes.
After some Google research about blogs, I saw a common thread. Bloggers general agree that there a few main steps to getting started:
- Find your niche. Pick a topic that interests you so that you’ll genuinely want to write about it and have the natural curiosity to want to know more to share.
- Select your blogging platform. For me, this is a no-brainer, WordPress has a 50% market share. With WordPress, you own and control the website/blog, versus other blogging platforms like Blogger, Squarespace, or Wix.
- Chose a reputable web hosting company for your blog, one that specializes in the operation and support of the WordPress platform.
- Select your theme and design. A catchy name, color combinations, font styles, etc. This will be your identity in the online world.
- Promote your blog. Social media is usually the first step. Posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to announce your new blog and subsequent blog posts.
- Increase visibility so that your blog can be found with Google search. A search engine optimization (SEO) tool will help.
- And lastly, if you choose, monetize your blog. Wouldn’t that be nice!
Oh, and don’t forget, post regularly, at least once a week. You want to keep your audience engaged and giving them something new at least weekly, if not more often, is a good way to accomplish this goal.
So how do you find your niche? What’s the topic of focus? Well, what do you enjoy? Think about your interests or hobbies. What are you proud of? Are you musically inclined, good in the kitchen, or love the outdoors? If you aren’t excited about your topic, writing about it will be a chore, and it’ll come across to your readers. Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t worry about coming up with an original idea. Your voice and angle on the topic will be the originality. The Internet Business Report has a section with a worksheet on how to select a topic if you need help.
Use WordPress as your blogging platform. For me, this was a no-brainer, WordPress has a 50% market share. It is used by 75 million websites. Over 400 million people view more than 20 billion pages every month. It’s a mature, stable, and well supported product with lots of how-to information available. Oh, and it’s free.
You’ll need a web hosting company for your WordPress blog. I see a lot of recommendations for Bluehost, and they’re okay, but I found a better solution. I prefer a hosting company that specializes in WordPress hosting and support. After considerable research, I selected Siteground and am very happy. Their technical environment is tuned for WordPress and their support people are very knowledgeable and helpful. They consistently rank at the top of satisfaction polls. You can see all the resources that we use including Siteground on our Resources page. Siteground hosting just costs a few dollars a month. Seriously, not much more than a couple of Starbucks’ coffees.
Now that your WordPress blog is up and running at Siteground, you’ll want to style it to your taste. You need to choose a theme. A theme allows you to design how your blog looks. A basic blog is in the following format:
After applying your design for layout, colors, and fonts, the basic layout transforms into your own work of art. Here are the finished designs for For Growing Baby and Spend With Pennies:
This Sure Passive Income Now blog was styled with the Astra theme and the Elementor page builder. Astra and Elementor are easy to use and fully featured. Both have free starter versions and very affordable paid pro versions. You can find more information about Astra and Elementor on our Resources page. Here is the finished design:
These three blogs look very different as a result of the topic and the personal styling applied with the theme, but under the cover, they all run on WordPress at a hosting center. Two of the three are at Siteground hosting.
Now that your blog is official, and you’ve made your first post, you need to advertise. Not in the traditional sense, but in a promotional sense. People need to know you’ve arrived. They need to find you on Google. Among bloggers, social media seems to be the preferred choice. You’ll need a companion account to your blog on the popular platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to announce your new blog and subsequent blog posts. All of these help build your audience.
Next comes Google. Setting up SEO for Google is critical for people to discover your blog while searching. You don’t need to sweat this right away, but it should be addressed at some point. Yoast SEO is a product that works with WordPress. It was the premiere product, but lately I’ve seen a lot of complaints from long time users. I found a newer, simpler, lighter weight SEO tool that seems just as effective. It’s The SEO Framework, and I use it exclusively now. The SEO Framework, like the Astra theme, is what’s called a plug-in and is selectable from within WordPress during setup.
Some create a blog as a creative outlet, some like to share and enjoy the community feedback of their audience, and some see their blog as a business capable of generating income. It can actually be a combination of all three.
The main ways to monetize your blog are as follows:
- Google AdSense. You see these small ads on websites everywhere. By adding to your blog, small, targeted ads are displayed to your audience. You earn a small amount for each ad shown.
- Affiliate marketing. You get paid a commission for promoting products and driving traffic to a retailer’s website. Amazon is a good example.
- Selling your own products and services. This is a lengthy discussion. The level of difficulty ranges from a simple, downloadable digital product to drop shipping to doing your own order fulfillment.
Monetization probably should be discussed in greater detail in a separate blog post. I’ll think about that. All three blogs mentioned in this post have one or more forms of monetization. Spend With Pennies uses each of them. For Growing Baby uses Amazon’s affiliate marketing program. Sure Passive Income Now uses affiliate marketing and products sales.
Hopefully this brief overview of blogging has given you enough information to get started. Don’t worry that you don’t know everything, and don’t worry that you aren’t a technical genius. There are numerous resources online to help you. The Internet Business Report is a good resource if you’re interested in having a blog that monetizes with affiliate marketing and product sales based on knowledge and expertise you already have. Interesting, huh?
For your convenience, here are some blog post by other authors you might enjoy. While they are on the same topic of how to start blogging, you can contrast the similarities and differences in their thinking and approach if you want.
P.S. Here are the related blog posts: