More than 8,000 times a month, somebody enters this phrase into the Google search engine: How to create a blog. If you entered that phrase, or something similar, and landed here, let me congratulate you. You have landed on the right page. I will help guide you every step of the way so that in mere minutes you can be the world's newest blogger. Let me be the first to welcome you to the blogosphere — there is plenty of room for all of us.
Creating a Blog
So, how easy is it to create a blog? Three major steps will take you from knowing nothing about starting a blog to becoming a blogger. In a moment, we'll go through those steps together, but first I want to cover some blogging basics. Whenever you write a blog post, keep in mind some people who read your post will be very knowledgeable about the subject, but others will not. So, it is good to include foundational information in your post. This one is no exception.
What is a Blog?
In the early days (we are talking the mid-1990s), it was a web log. People strung together some ideas on a web page, and because the entries appeared in succession with the newest on the top, it looked like a log. Eventually, the web log was shortened to blog. Justin's Home Page, which appeared in January 1994, is considered the first blog. You can see it here, but it is nothing like what we have come to know as a blog.
At the heart of blogs today is sharing information. People write about their life journeys, how they overcame difficulties, whether it be debt, like me, or obesity, or some other challenge. Companies have blogs that tell you about their products and services. Organizations have blogs to educate you about the work they are doing serving their communities. A blog can cover any topic. One of the neat things about having a blog is you realize you are not alone. There are others just like you.
Should You Create a Blog?
Yes. How can I be sure of this? You are on a blog post about how to create a blog and you are reading these words. It means you have not skimmed down to the bottom and you have not hit the back button, so you have a deep interest in this topic.
Perhaps a better question to ask is when should you create a blog, and my answer is the sooner the better. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes. There are actions you can take right now to get you moving in the direction of having your own blog.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about starting a blog is that it helped me change my life forever. Due to a series of less-than-stellar decisions during my college years and an unfortunate motorcycle accident, I found myself deep in debt. This blog helped me start a profitable business. Read my story, and you will realize: If I can do it, then so can you!
Reasons You Might Start a Blog
There are many reasons why you should start a blog, but I am going to focus on just a few:
- Make money from home
- Share your story
- Find or build a community
Make money from home: Some people find it hard to believe you can make money from a blog. People do so every day, but like anything else in life, it requires effort. You cannot expect to earn money if you do not commit to working diligently on your blog. It is not uncommon to see your blog grow slowly for a few years before taking off.
Share your story: I decided I would tell my story about being saddled with debt, and how I managed to gain control over my finances, start a profitable business, and live the life I always imagined. For me, it was overcoming debt. For you, it might be rising up to deal with a personal issue, or maybe you overcame obesity or major health challenges. You might love pets and offer insights into how to care for them naturally or holistically. Whatever your passion is, after you publish your blog, you will be like me and discover you are not alone! Which leads directly to our third reason for starting a blog.
Find or build a community: When you summon the courage to share your story with the world, one of the nice things that will come with it is learning others share a similar experience. When you realize you are not alone, it is empowering. You will feel like you can tackle anything because you have people pulling for you who have been there.
How to Launch a New Blog in 3 Easy Steps
OK, you have decided you will launch a blog. Before you do, there are some things to keep in mind. You need to have a domain for your blog. This is the name of it. Mine is thebudgetmom.com. You need to have a place that will host your website. You will have a lot of files associated with your blog, the most obvious being your blog posts and photos, and they have to be available on a server when people surf the web. And, you will need to give your blog a look. Let’s look at these three steps a little deeper:
- Pick a name for your blog
- Get hosting for your blog
- Choose a design for your blog
1. Pick a Name for Your Blog
Shakespeare's Juliet once asked, “What's in a name?” When it comes to your new blog, a lot is riding on the name choice. Unless you are a nonprofit organization, you will want to choose a domain ending in .com. Sure, you can get .net, .biz, .tech, .life and other kinds of domains, but .com is the preferred one. If you are starting a nonprofit, then .org is acceptable.
Spend some time thinking this through. Your domain name will become your web identity, and you want to get it right. For a lot of reasons that will make sense once you have been blogging for a while, you will want to pick a good name and keep it.
Some things to keep in mind as you think through a name:
Keep it short: You don't want people having to type in a lot of letters to get to your domain or to email you.
Make sure it sounds good: If you are starting a business, then this will be part of your brand. Think about when you listen to the radio and the announcer reads the domain name. Is it easy to remember? If it sounds good, then it will be easy to remember.
Avoid numbers and dashes: This makes it too confusing to remember (people were fond of using the No. 4 instead of the word “for,” like customsolutions4you).
Consider using keywords and localization: If you are building a local or regional business, then having a geographic reference as part of the name might be helpful: midwest, east coast, southwest or the town you live in. I don't use a local reference, but I use a keyword in mine: budget. Maybe your domain will include beauty or music or art or another keyword/topic that is of interest to you.
Avoid trademark infringements: In the early days of the internet, people were gobbling up all sorts of domains and purchasing domains that were the names of celebrities (like garthbrooks.com and celinedion.com), and trying to sell them for millions of dollars. However, it was ruled those celebrities had a right to those domain names, and they did not have to pay exorbitant fees to get them. As you look at a domain for your blog, do a search on the appropriate state agency website that is responsible for registering new businesses. You can see if there are any businesses using the name you like. Spending a little time now might help you avoid a lawsuit down the road, saving you time, aggravation and money.
As people explore names, sometimes they wonder whether they should use their names for the domain. It is always good to see if your name is available as a .com domain and register it if it is. However, you will need to decide if you want your personal name to be your brand name.
2. Buy Inexpensive Hosting for Your Blog
As you get ready to launch your blog, it has to be hosted (that is, stored on a server) somewhere. I recommend Bluehost, the very same one that gave me my start! A lot of people use Bluehost for several reasons:
- The price is incredible
- When you sign up for hosting they will throw in a domain name at no additional cost for a year
- You get a free SSL certificate (this has to do with online security)
- The uptime is fantastic
- The 24/7 customer service is great (their live chat support is awesome)
Did I mention they have a money-back guarantee? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When you use Bluehost, you will be able to choose a domain, and you will not have to pay for the first year. Domain names have to be renewed every year, and make sure you do it. If you let your domain lapse, it does not go back on a shelf so you can repurchase it later. No, it goes to an auction where people will bid on your domain name.
3. Design Your Blog
It's about to get real. Click this link, and let the journey begin!
When you visit Bluehost and click on the “Get Started” button, you will begin an adventure that can potentially take you to places you never dreamed of. That is why I called my adventure: My Debt Story – Accomplishing the Unimaginable. You know in your heart the longest journey starts with a single step, and in this case it is the “Get Started” button.
With Bluehost, in order to lock in the great rates, you will need to sign up for three years. It seems like a long time, but when you dive into blogging and you follow your heart, you will be renewing for another three years before you know it.
Choose a Plan
Once you begin the process, you will be asked to choose one of four plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro. I know the Basic Plan requires the least amount of cash to launch your new endeavor, but if you can afford the Choice Plus, I recommend it.
As a beginning blogger, it can be challenging to understand everything associated with blogging. However, with a Basic Plan you can host one website. For a little bit more, you can host unlimited websites. Right now this might not seem like much, but what if you wanted to start a second website? Then you can do it at no additional cost (other than purchasing the domain). What if a friend wants to have a website? You can host it and charge your friend a fee. I realize this might be too much to take in right now, but if you can afford the Choice Plus, I would go for it because you also get domain privacy. This means people won't be spamming you to build your website for you. Domain privacy will keep your phone number, email address and physical address private. Otherwise, be prepared for the onslaught of calls and emails.
Set Up Your Domain
Once you select your plan, then you can create a new domain or use an existing domain if you own one. Because this guide is geared toward new bloggers, enter the domain name you want and see if it is available. The internet has been around for decades, so don’t be surprised if the really good names are already taken.
If you enter a domain and it has already been taken, then you will be shown some similar names you might want to consider. Please take your time to get the name right, and remember to get a domain ending in .com.
Create Your Account
Once you find the perfect domain name, then it is time to create your Bluehost account. You will need to fill in some information, or you can sign in with a Google account.
Pay for Your Blog Hosting
You will also need to enter your credit card information to pay for it. When you sign up, please remember Bluehost is giving you a discounted rate by signing up through my link. I have partnered with Bluehost, and I will make a small commission when you sign up. But, the major point I want you to remember is in three years, it will cost slightly more to renew your hosting agreement. Your account will renew automatically using the same credit card you used to sign up. You are receiving special, one-time pricing through my website as an incentive from Bluehost to start a blog. So, please don't get sticker shock when it is time to renew.
Also, if you choose to use a debit card instead of a credit card, you better make sure you have enough money in your account in three years to cover the cost of hosting because, as I mentioned earlier, it will automatically renew.
When I first started my blog, I didn't sign up for any extras. I just wanted my domain, my hosting and my theme (more about themes later). So, at the bottom of the page, make sure you uncheck, or check, the appropriate boxes. This way you will avoid additional charges for services you don't want.
Start Finalizing Everything
You are getting so close! Choose a password you will remember, and make sure it is a strong one.
Once you have completed all of the above steps, you will click a button to go to your login page.
On the login page, you will enter your domain and your new password.
Next, you will give your blog a name (remember, The Budget Mom is taken!) and a tagline. A tagline helps site visitors understand a little more about your blog. It might be difficult to think this one through, but take the time. If you visit my home page, you will see my tagline: A life you love on a budget you can afford. See how the tagline expands on the theme of my blog? Let it entice your readers to read more, and remember to let your personality shine in the tagline. You want to create a blog here, so select that option.
If you are not completely happy with your blog name (just the name you typed in, not your domain name) and tagline, don't worry — you can always change it later. Now, Bluehost will ask you a few questions about what you want to do with your blog and how comfortable you are at creating websites. You will be creating a WordPress blog, and it is one of the easiest to launch. Technically, WordPress is considered a CMS: Content Management System. It will do exactly that, help you manage the content on your website.
Ah, you are getting so close! Excitement is filling the air. Now, you will have to choose a theme. Think of the theme as an outfit for your blog. Bluehost's servers provide a home for your blog; your domain provides the address where people can find you; WordPress is the body of your website; and the theme is the apparel. The theme will give your site a look and feel that should help visitors catch a glimpse of your style and flair and, yes, personality.
WordPress offers several themes for free. Many people get started with a free theme and as they gain more experience and a greater comfort level with working on their websites, they move to a paid theme. While you want to show a little style, think about choosing a traditional blog format where each post appears one after another on a single page. I know this is not sexy, but it will help you ease into being a blogger.
Once you select your theme, then the magic starts to happen … your blog is being created. Congratulations!
Once WordPress has been installed, all of the behind-the-scenes work to construct the backbone of your blog/website is complete. Only one thing left to do: Build that blog. Once you press that little blue button, your life will forever be changed. There's no turning back, only marching forward.
Welcome, friend, welcome. Welcome to the world of blogging. Welcome to WordPress. Welcome to Bluehost. Welcome to the start of a new business. Welcome to what could become your path to financial freedom.
Now, it is time to start giving shape to your blog. Spend some time in your dashboard. It will take a little playing around to see how everything comes together. Whatever theme you choose, there should be a tutorial on how to customize it for your blog. Once you settle on a look and feel, you will tackle your first blog post. Don't worry: You got this!
My blog has achieved the success it has because of hard work. I dedicated myself to it, working on it when I had some time. I was diligent. I was committed. I am a woman of action. But, having said all that, I want you to savor the moment. Think about what you have just done. You went from knowing nothing about having a website to creating one and becoming the world's newest blogger! Congratulations! You are on your way. Mark the occasion. Celebrate! Pamper yourself (within reason, let's not go further in debt)! Enjoy the accomplishment. Well done.
You finished celebrating? There's still some work to do. Proceed when you are ready.
How to Write and Publish Your First Blog Post
Before we get started on writing, I am going to do you a favor by giving you a little bit of advice, and new bloggers usually don't hear about this. They usually stumble upon it down the road by accident. The advice is this: When you have some free time, start reading about search engine optimization, aka SEO. This is an art and a science that helps web pages rank higher in search engine rankings. When you search Google, the pages come back ranked in a certain order. SEO can help you get higher up in the results.
Everything I am about to share will help you structure and write your blog posts in a such a way that it will give them the best chance of ranking higher. The higher up you are in the search engine results pages, the greater the chance people will visit your site.
When you start to write, focus on a keyword: This is the topic of your blog post. Let's say you want to write a blog post about fried chicken. This, then, becomes your keyword: “Fried Chicken.”
When you write your blog post, pay attention to the title you give it. Keep it under 65 characters and include your keyword. For this blog post, this might be a good title: How to Make the Best Southern Fried Chicken. It includes your keyword, and it is 43 characters.
When you start writing your blog, the longer the better. Try to write at least 750 words. If you cannot write that much, at least get to 500 words. Use a mix of headers to break up your text, as well as include numbered or bulleted lists. This helps to break up the page and makes it easier on the eyes of your readers.
Always include either a photo, a graphic, an infographic, or some kind of image. Use your keyword between three to six times, depending upon the length. The longer you write, the more you want to use your keyword. Make sure you bold and italicize some words, including your keyword.
All of this might sound silly, but, trust me, it will help your SEO.
When you start to write your blog, do not be afraid to do a search for your keyword or your headline and use ideas from other blogs. Make sure you do not copy what another author has written word-for-word, but see how others are treating the subject.
When you are done, hit publish. You are now officially a published blogger!
How to Grow a Blog
Of course, family and friends will be the first ones who read your blog, but you want to continue to increase the number of site visitors. While you might be the exception to the rule, be patient when it comes to blog growth. It takes time. Ironically, some big bloggers have said they didn't have many subscribers to their blogs for the first couple of years, but things took off for them in year number three. You do remember you have to renew your Bluehost account in three years,
In the beginning, your blog might be just a labor of love. As you write more and more posts, you will begin to develop your voice. You will discover what you like writing about. Perhaps you might start out writing about travel, but discover you like writing about food better. Maybe you start out writing about exercise, but realize you need to write about diet, nutrition, and overall wellness.
Build an Email List
But, even while it is still a passion project, try to get people to subscribe to your blog. WordPress has a way for people to enter their names and email addresses so whenever you write a new blog, it will get delivered to their inboxes. Building your email list will help when you transition from a fun hobby to a legitimate business. While building an email list will be crucial later on, start learning about it now. MailChimp is a popular email service because it offers a free tier.
Create Social Media Accounts in Your Blog's Name
Social media is a good way to start building a following and getting people to visit your website and read your blog. There are so many social media networks out there, and it can be challenging when you try to keep up with every single one. Start with one or two then build out from there if you want. For bloggers and businesses, here are the Top 5 social media platforms and what kind of audiences they are good for:
1. Facebook: It is hard to believe, Facebook started out sort of like a dating app on the campus of Harvard University. However, it has become very popular with the older crowd. It has more than 2.2 billion active users, and 68 percent of adult social media users are on Facebook. There are so many different kinds of people with a lot of interests that you really need to be on Facebook. You can post information, photos, videos (you even do live videos), and share links to your website from Facebook. You will likely find a lot of engagement on Facebook. Here is my account. (I want to take a short detour for a second. Some people have questioned whether they need a website because they get so much interaction on Facebook. The reality is, you do. You can get suspended from Facebook and lose access to your page. With any of the social media networks, you do not own the medium. Think of it as a temporary lease. You need a website.)
2. Twitter: This has been an interesting social media network. It is a good platform for brands to connect with customers and provide customer service, and it is a good place for journalists. It started out as a place where you could share your thoughts in 140 characters. But, Facebook took off, and Twitter found itself trying to keep up. You can now tweet out thoughts of up to 280 characters, you can share links, photos and videos, too. I think Twitter is a place you should be, but do not expect the same level of engagement that you will get from Facebook. You can check out what I mean with my Twitter account.
3. Instagram: This network started out as a photo-sharing platform where users could add different kinds of filters to give their photos a different look. Facebook ultimately purchased the service, and it has continued to grow. If your blog is about lifestyle, travel, food, or anything that can be captured in beautiful photographs, Instagram is for you. You can share photos and videos. Instagram, like Twitter, makes use of hashtags. It is the pound sign (#) followed by an identifying word (or two or three). This helps people discover posts from other content creators who are dealing with the same areas of interest, and it will help people find you. You can see how I do it on my Instagram feed.
4. Pinterest: While Pinterest has a lot of users, most tend to be women (about 80 percent). But, I found this interesting, most of the new members are men. Pinterest allows you to share the things that interest you by “pinning” them on “boards.” These boards have themes. I have several featured boards on my Pinterest account. This social media network is all about images, so you will need to learn how to create compelling graphics to engage an audience. For some bloggers, Pinterest drives the most traffic to their websites.
5. LinkedIn: This is a site for business professionals, and it used to have a reputation as the social media network of people looking for jobs. Many considered it a place online to display your resume. Microsoft purchased it in 2016. The kinds of posts you share on LinkedIn will be different than the others. Your LinkedIn posts should be geared more toward your industry. However, it is a good idea to have a great profile so brands who are looking to engage bloggers can find you. You can check out my personal LinkedIn profile here.
This bears repeating, you want to make sure you create social media accounts under your blog name. For Facebook, you will need to create a page that is linked to your personal account. The same goes for LinkedIn.
There are a lot more social media channels out there, but these are the best ones to help you expand your reach as a blogger. Focus on one social media channel and then build out from there.
Money-making Tips for Bloggers (Like You)
There are several ways you can make money with your blog. I'll be honest, sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to which blogs take off and which ones just languish. But, for whatever reason, a particular blog might resonate with a large group of people. Sometimes it is just sheer luck, but I prefer to think of luck as when hard work meets opportunity. Here are some ways you can generate income from your blog and as a blogger:
- Sell ad space to local companies, particularly if you focus on local stories or businesses. You will want to make sure you have decent traffic to make it attractive.
- Create products that you can sell through your website, like I do. You can visit my online store for ideas, and be sure to check out my Budget by Paycheck Workbook.
- Be an affiliate marketer. This means you sell the products of others and make a small commission on every sale. If you visit my disclaimer page, you will see I am an Amazon affiliate. I don't have to carry any physical inventory, and I do not have to invest in any merchandise. However, if you purchase from Amazon through one of my links, then I will make a small percentage.
- Sell your services. Teachers have sold lesson plans online, and musicians have sold their music or music lessons.
- Start an online course. Teach others how to do things through an online course.
If you are a really good writer, you might consider writing posts for other blogs or company websites.
Main Reason You Should Start a Blog
When you get right down to it, you should start a blog because you have something to say or to share with the world. When you start from the heart, the money usually follows. If your desire is simply find the quickest way to make a buck, then the blog will only be around as long as it is making money, or it will be scrapped because it didn't make any money.
Let your passion become your business, and you might be like me and one day find yourself living a life you never imagined possible … only it is, and I am living proof.
Blogging will help you establish yourself as an expert and an authority in your field. Be sure to provide excellent content that is worth the time people invest in reading it. When you deliver content that is relevant, informative and helpful, you will attract a following.
Be consistent. Write blog posts routinely and keep people coming back for more.
Thank you for starting your blog through my website. My hope is your blog will be as fulfilling for you as mine has been for me. I wish you the best.
- Resource: Start your blog with Bluehost.