What is a blog
A blog (shortening of “weblog”) 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 on an individual subject.
Know how to start Blogging
Are you wondering how to start a blog? Or maybe you have questions about it? I’m glad you’re here! In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to create your own blog, no technical experience required. (It’s easier and faster than you think.) Plus, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions and share some of my protips along the way.
I promise you that after reading this my step to step tutorial you will be able to create your own blog without looking for someone’s assistance.
Blogging tutorial program
- Start up your blog.
- Sign up with WordPress.
- Decide on the Neche to use.
- Publish your main pages.
- Write your first post.
- Customize your blog design and template.
- Get traffic & make money!
Don’t panic, I’ll walk you right through. Follow alongand your new blog will be up and running in less than 20 minutes.
Step 1: Start up your blog
To start your own blog, you’ll need two things: a blogging platform (to get your words in blog form) and a host (to get your words live online).
Fortunately, you can get both quickly, inexpensively and at the same time. I’ll show you exactly how.
There is a dizzying array of choices for blogging platforms (WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, Wix, Weebly, etc.) and hosts (Bluehost, WPEngine, GoDaddy, SiteGround, HostGator or hundreds of others).
In my 15 years of blogging, I’ve tried many of the above. All have pros and cons. I recommend a WordPress blog hosted by Bluehost.
This is the combination I paid for and used for fews years.
Ready to get your own blog?
Click here to go to bluehost and hit the green “Get Started Now” button
Images may vary but the process is the same.
Select a plan
Choose a plan by clicking a green “Select” button.
If your budget allows, I recommend the Choice Plus (a.k.a Prime) plan because it’s got more unlimited features and domain privacy is included. I highly recommend domain privacy as it keeps your personal contact information hidden from the public.
If you choose the Basic or Plus plan, you’ll have the option to add domain privacy later, for about $1 a month.
Enter your domain
On the next page, you’ll choose your domain name. Your domain name is your web address. For example, AmyLynnAndrews.com is my domain name.
If you’ve never registered a domain name before, enter your desired domain name in the “new domain” box.
If you have registered a domain name in the past, enter it into the “I have a domain name” box. Don’t worry, doing so won’t mess it up if it’s currently being used elsewhere. Entering it here is simply a way Bluehost identifies your account.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will use a new domain. If you are choosing later or using an existing domain, the process is nearly the same so you can still follow along easily.
Enter your account info
On the next page, you can connect your Bluehost account to your Google account, or enter your account info manually. Either is fine. Just make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent. Save those emails!
Select your package information
Choose an account plan based on how far in advance you want to pay. Bluehost bills 1, 2, 3 or 5 years upfront. They do not offer a monthly payment option (hosts that do often charge double or triple). As you can see, it works out to be a very reasonable monthly amount. Not bad for your own blog or website, right? It’s a great deal.
Protip: The low pricing they offer to new customers applies to the first payment only. In other words, if you choose the 12-month plan, your pricing will be good for only a year, but if you choose the 36-month plan, your pricing will be good for 3 years. So, I recommend choosing the longest plan your budget allows.
Skip the package extras except…
I skip the extras except Domain Privacy Protection.
As I mentioned earlier, this keeps your personal contact information private. The only time I would skip domain privacy is if you are using a business address and don’t mind if it’s visible to anyone who looks up your domain.
Note, the Domain Privacy add-on is only available for new domains, so if you opted to choose a domain later or you entered an existing domain on the previous page, you won’t see the option for Domain Privacy. (For existing domains, domain privacy would be handled by the company where you registered it in the first place so contact them.)
The total is the amount you’ll pay today. You won’t have to pay again for 12, 24, 36 or 60 months, depending on the package you chose. Set it and forget it!
Enter your billing info
Next, fill in your billing information, confirm that you agree to the fine print and click Submit.
Skip the upgrades & special offers
Once you submit your billing info, you’ll be asked about upgrades or special offers. I skip them by clicking the “no thanks” link. Most of these can be added later if desired.
Set a password
After your purchase is complete, you’ll be asked to set a password for your Bluehost account. Just click the “Create your password” button.
Note, this is the password to your Bluehost account, not your WordPress blog password. You can always get to your WordPress site by logging in to Bluehost first.
After your password is set, click the “log in” button.
Skip the free themes
Next, Bluehost gives you the option to pick a free theme right away. Unless you are familiar with one listed, I recommend you skip it by clicking “Skip this step” at the bottom of the screen.
Why? Because many free themes are not kept updated. Outdated themes leave holes in your site that hackers can exploit. They are not worth the risk. The theme that comes pre-installed will suffice for now. I recommend switching to a different theme once you’re set up and more familiar with WordPress. We’ll talk about that later.
Note your temporary domain & start building
You’ll notice a notification at the top of the next screen indicating your site is on a temporary domain to start. This is normal, so don’t be alarmed if the domain in your address bar looks weird initially.
If you entered a new domain at the beginning, it takes 2-24 hours for it to become fully registered. When it’s ready, Bluehost will switch it for you automatically. If you used an existing domain or opted to choose a domain later, you can set it up when you’re ready. If you’re unsure how to do that, call Bluehost support and they’ll walk you through.
In the meantime, you can go ahead and start working on your site now. And don’t worry, your site will have a “Coming Soon” page until you are ready to launch it and make it visible on the internet!
Click the “Start Building” button to open WordPress.
At this point, your Bluehost account is set up and WordPress is installed automatically.
Step 2: Sign up with WordPress
WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform (source), and for good reason. It’s flexible, functional and has a large community of users who share tools and ideas.
Beginner and veteran bloggers use WordPress, as well as big companies like The New York Times, BBC America, Time Inc. and Mercedes Benz (source).
In this step, we’ll get familiar with WordPress and configure some important settings.
Welcome to the WordPress Dashboard
Once you’ve opened WordPress, you’ll see your Dashboard. The black column on the left is a good indicator you’re in WordPress. It will look something like this:
his is the nerve center for your WordPress site. You’ll spend a lot of time here!
I recommend skipping the blue buttons in the middle of the screen (Business & Personal) and choosing “I don’t need help” instead. Why? I prefer to start with a clean slate and explore on my own.
Configure your settings
Before publishing anything on your blog, I recommend making some tweaks to your WordPress settings. Doing so will set you up for smooth sailing going forward (and could save you a lot of hassle later!).
By the way, as you move through your Dashboard, you may see offers for add-ons at the top of your Dashboard. I skip those by closing out the boxes. They can always be added later and I like to disappear them while I’m working.
Change your username from Admin
Hackers have been known to use Admin user accounts to break into WordPress sites, so this setting is important to address.
Think of it like this: if a hacker wants to hack into your site, they’ll need your username and password, right? Because they know “Admin” is a default username many people don’t bother to change, they’ll already be halfway to their goal.
Changing this setting will also give you a way to log directly in to WordPress without having to go through your Bluehost account first.
Go to Users > All Users.
Are any of the usernames Admin? If you don’t see Admin in the list, you can skip the rest of this section; you’re good to go. If you do see an Admin username you’ll want to change it.
WARNING: If your blog is not new and you have already published posts or pages, DO NOT DELETE the Admin username without attributing all posts and links to a new user first.
Alright, here’s how to change the Admin username…
Hover over the Admin username on the list. Do you see a delete link? If so, make sure you are logged in as an administrator under a different username, click delete and skip the rest of this section.
If you don’t see a delete link when you hover over Admin, it means you’re currently logged in as the Admin. This will require a few more steps, but don’t worry, it’s not complicated.
First, add a new user by clicking “Add New” under “All Users” in the black left column or by clicking the button at the top of the page. Fill out the new user information and make sure Administrator is selected from the dropdown menu next to Role. Click Add New User.
Log out of WordPress. To do so, hover over your Admin username in the black bar at the top right corner of your screen until you see the option to log out.
Now, log back in, this time as the new, non-Admin user you just created.
Next, go to Users > All Users. Hover over the Admin username in the list and click “Delete.” You may be asked if you want to delete all posts and links. Assuming your blog is brand new, you can simply delete since you have not written any posts yet.
From this point on, you will use your new, non-Admin username and password when logging in to WordPress.
Change your site title & tagline
Your site title and tagline can always be changed, but it’s nice to have something a little more personal than the placeholders that come preinstalled.
From your Dashboard, hover over the Settings link in the (black) left column, then click General.
Protip: For your tagline, think of something short and punchy that describes your site well. Include keywords if you can do so naturally, but again, you can come back and change this after you have complete the steps below too.
Don’t change your URLs!
You may be tempted to change the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) at this point, but don’t! It will mess things up. You need to wait until you get your domain settled (see the note above about your temporary domain).
Enter a working email address
Also in Settings > General, if your main email address is not entered here, go ahead and put yours in. Notifications will be sent to this address.
Set your timezone
In Settings > General, set your timezone appropriately. Not having it set correctly won’t break anything, but it does make a difference when you start scheduling your posts. Scheduled posts publish according to this setting, so if it’s not set correctly, you’ll wonder why your posts aren’t going out at the right times!
P.S. You’re on a roll! Lets keep going…
Delete the default content
When you start a new WordPress blog, some of things that come pre-installed by default are best removed so as not to muddy up your fresh new site!
Even if you can’t see them on your site, if you don’t delete them, they may still be found by searching.
These are the things I always remove:
- The “Hello World!” post. Go to Posts > All Posts. Hover over the post title and click the “Trash” link. You can delete it entirely by emptying your trash (see the link at the top of the window).
- The “Sample Page” page. Go to Pages > All Pages. Hover over the page title and click the “Trash” link. You can delete it entirely by emptying your trash (see the link at the top of the window).
- Unnecessary plugins. Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. You’ll see a list of plugins, all of which I delete. The only one I would keep at the beginning is the Bluehost plugin. As I explain later, plugins can slow your site down and make things glitchy so I use them very sparingly. I only add a plugin when I have a clear reason to do so. To delete a plugin, you have to deactivate it first, then you can delete it. I’ll give my plugin recommendations in a bit.
- The Meta widget. The meta widget in your sidebar screams newbie. Go to Appearance > Widgets. Find the “Meta” widget box on the right side of the screen, expand its box by clicking the tiny down arrow and click the delete link.
Set your permalink structure
This is one of the most important settings because your permalink structure will directly impact your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Good SEO means you are in good standing with the search engines and we all want that!
Your permalink structure determines how your URLs will look for each of your posts.
For the record:
Domain = dollarmind.com.ng
URL = https://dollarmind.com.ng
A permalink is the unique URL attached to any page on the web. For example, the permalink for the post you are reading now is:
You can see it in your browser’s address bar at the top of your screen.
Here’s another example of a permalink on my site:
See how the main domain name is the same (dollarmind.com.ng) but there are additional words at the end? Those additional words correspond to the individual post or page.
Permalinks make it easy to find specific & individual webpages. It’s sort of like dialing a specific phone extension to get to a specific person when you’re calling a big company. It wouldn’t be so fun if you had to be routed through the main phone number every time!
Could you imagine having to scroll through an entire site to find the specific post you’re looking for? Good thing each one has its own address (URL), or permalink.
Now that you know what a permalink is, let’s talk about your permalink structure.
Go to Settings > Permalinks.
WARNING: If you have already started publishing posts or pages on your blog, do not change the permalink structure now. It may result in broken links. If you want to change your permalink structure, I recommend you get professional help from a developer.
Your permalink structure is the standard format WordPress will use when naming your individual posts or pages.
“Post name” is the permalink structure I recommend for most blogs.
I will say, do not use the Plain structure like so: http://yourdomain.com/?p=123
It’s not great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It doesn’t play well with Google and other search engines because search engines use words, not numbers, to understand what your site is about. Search engines will be more likely to send people to your site when search words match the words in your permalinks.
Times when you might want to opt for something other than Post name (but if you can avoid it I would):
- Day and name. Good for multi-author blog or single-author blogs with many posts per day or blogs that may have duplicate post titles.
- Month and name. Good for single-author blogs who post daily or less, but may have duplicate post titles.
Don’t forget to save your changes!
Protip: Your post or page title does not have to be the same as your permalink. Your post title should be easy to read by humans, whereas your permalink can be easier to read by computer bots. For example, I might title a post “Tools I Use & Recommend” but edit my permalink to simply “tools.” The shorter permalink can be easier to link to and advantageous for SEO.
Install important plugins
Plugins expand the functionality of your WordPress site. That’s a fancy way of saying they let you do more cool stuff on your blog.
When used correctly, plugins are extremely powerful, but they are frequently overused.
Every time you add a plugin to your site, you add more computer code to the back end. And more code means more for the search engines and other computer-y things to wade through. And more to wade through can mean a slower site.
No one likes slower sites, especially not search engines like Google (which we are all, admittedly, trying to please so they will send visitors our way!).
So, my theory on plugins is to not add them until you know exactly what they do and how they will help you.
You’ll find a lot of “must have” plugin lists online, but much of the time they are must have plugins for the person writing the list, not ones you may ever use yourself.
By the way, the same goes for my favorite plugins list. I list them only because people ask me what plugins I use. I don’t list them to encourage you to use the same ones!
Suffice it to say, I have a love / hate relationship with plugins. You can read more about that in my plugins tips post.
Still, there are two plugins I would recommend installing right away: Yoast SEO (to help with SEO) and Antispam Bee (to fight spam).
Yoast SEO is widely recognized as the SEO plugin. Antispam Bee is (in my opinon) a better alternative to Akismet, the standard spam plugin for WordPress.
To install plugins via your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. In the search bar up top, enter the name of a plugin you’re looking for. Find it in the list and click “Install Now.”
Both Yoast SEO and Antispam Bee can be installed this way.
Once it’s installed, you have to Activate a plugin before it will start working. Otherwise, it lies dormant on your site in its deactivated state, which is not ideal. Either activate or delete a plugin. A present but deactivated plugin is just wasted space.
Once it’s activated, configure the plugin settings if needed. You can often tell if there are settings for a particular plugin by going to Plugins > Installed Plugins and looking for a Settings link under the plugin name.
You might also see a plugin listed in the black left column of your Dashboard. Yoast SEO is accessible this way.
Once your plugin is installed, you should be able to access its features as you write, unless it’s a plugin that runs in the background.
Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS
The S indicates a secure site. This gives visitors peace of mind It also keeps your site on Google’s good side.
This option is only available once your domain registration is fully completed and you are no longer on your temporary domain.
You’ll know this is the case when you type your chosen domain into any browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) and your domain works without forwarding to a weird looking domain in the address bar.
If your site is still using a temporary domain, put a reminder on your calendar to come back in 2-24 hours to finish this step.
To complete this step, you’ll need to activate an SSL certificate. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy term. (If you have an existing domain registered elsewhere, check with that company about getting an SSL certificate.)
Here’s how to do it in your Bluehost account. Give it a little bit of time to catch up. Eventually, when you type your domain into a browser like Chrome, you’ll see a secure icon
Step 3: Decide on the Neche to use.
My guess is you have a general idea of what you want to blog about. That’s great, but don’t write whatever comes to mind. Be focused.
Unless your blog is strictly for your own enjoyment, you’re probably hoping to gain readers so it’s important to consider what others might want to read.
Pick a niche
Write around a general topic. This is called your niche. Not only will it be easier to stay on task, it’ll be a lot easier for readers to track with you. Examples of popular niches are food, decorating, memoir, homeschooling, fitness or weight loss, parenting and photography.
Once you’ve picked a niche, niche down. By that I mean, focus your topic even further.
You see, the goal for any blog is to become the go-to resource in its topic or niche.
If your blog’s topic is too broad, it will be hard to compete with — and stand out from — all the other blogs and websites in your niche.
Find a topic with a good number of interested people and plenty of potential subtopics, but a topic that not as many other people are writing about.
For example, “photography” is a very broad niche. It would be very hard to become the go-to resource in that niche (who wants to compete with National Geographic?). “Black and white photography” is better. “Black and white photography in National Parks” is niched down further and might be better. See what I mean?
Keep in mind, there is such a thing as niching down too much! If your topic is too narrow, the pool of interested readers will be too small to gain traction.
For instance, “things to do in 50-Person Town, USA” doesn’t give you a very large audience pool and may be limited in subject matter.
Protip: Back in the day, when there weren’t so many blogs online, you could almost pick any topic and run with it. Now, not so much. There are definitely niches that are really, really full and therefore difficult to break into. How do you know? If you can easily find several dozen popular blogs on the topic, you might rethink your topic. On the other hand, just because a niche is big doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to choose it. After all, a large niche means there’s a market for it! In that case, you’ll have to find a really unique angle. Spend time watching the main players. Knowing your way around will help you fine-tune the “thing” that will make you stand out.
Tips for choosing a topic
If you’re part of a business, company or organization, your blog should be related to the product(s) or service(s) you provide, or the cause you promote.
If you’re an individual, you have more flexibility when choosing a topic. I talked about it here, but the main things to remember are:
- Blog about something you enjoy. If you aren’t excited about your topic, writing about it will be drudgery. (And who wants that?) Also, readers won’t be enthusiastic if you aren’t.
- Blog about something with plenty of room for discussion. A blog requires a lot of content to get going and remain interesting. You’ll be at this a long time so make sure you have plenty to talk about.
- Choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority. You probably won’t be the first person to blog about the topic you choose. Don’t fret about this, just come up with a unique angle. Do you have a reasonable chance of making your blog better than others talking about the same thing?
A lot of new bloggers fail to think beyond their own interests when starting a blog. Your blog should undoubtedly be an extension of you, but if you’re not writing for the benefit of others at the same time, you might as well just keep a diary.
I’ve been watching the blogosphere for years. Below are five overarching areas that seem to attract the most readers.
- Readers want to solve a problem. What do people get frustrated about? Do you have a solution? This is how my blogging took off. I talked to a lot of bloggers who loved to write but got frustrated with the techy side of blogging. I knew I could help solve this problem by sharing blogging tips, tools and tutorials in a simple way.
- Readers want to relieve their fears. What are people afraid of? How can you help ease those fears? Maybe you’re a parent who has lost a child. It’s a real and valid fear for a lot of parents. Sharing your story of hope and healing could be very helpful for many people. Or maybe you can offer help to those facing job loss or financial disaster.
- Readers want to learn something new. What would people love to do if only they knew how? What do you know that you could teach them? Maybe you’re a whiz at crocheting, you have a knack for writing or you have a unique way of teaching math that makes it easy to understand. Teach them.
- Readers want to reach a goal. What are common goals people have? Have you set and reached some significant goals? Can you spell out how you did it and inspire others on their journey? Fitness and weight loss come to mind here, as well as getting out of debt. Pursuing big goals can be disheartening and lonely. Knowing someone else has been there does wonders.
- Readers want to be entertained. Do you have a fascinating story? Do you lead a wildly interesting life? Are you outrageously funny? Everyone needs down time and plenty of blogs exist purely to entertain. With all the available entertainment these days, the key is providing something totally unique. As a bonus, you could be entertaining and helpful at the same time. For example, if your quirky family raises llamas, talk about how you raise llamas not just that you raise llamas. Entertaining + helpful = a great combination.
Most of all, remember, the goal for any blog is to become the go-to resource in its topic or niche.
Step 4: Publish your main pages
Alright, now that you are all set up and have a good idea of what you’ll blog about, let’s publish some content!
Your WordPress site is made up of Posts and Pages.
Posts are what we commonly think about when we think of a blog. These are individual articles on specific topics. For example, if you have a recipe blog, you might have posts like “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies,” “Rosemary Meat Loaf” and “Raspberry Lemonade.” Each post would feature one recipe.
When we talk about adding new content to our blogs, we are usually referring to publishing a new post. And when we scroll through a blog, we are usually scrolling through the posts.
Pages, on the other hand, contain more permanent or unchanging information. Pages don’t show up in the blog portion of the site alongside the posts. Instead, they are usually accessed through direct links in the the navigation bar, sidebar or footer.
Some Pages are common on all blogs, like a contact page and an about page, but some bloggers include other pages as well.
Before you start writing your posts, it’s a good idea to get your basic pages set up. That way, when you start getting visitors, they’ll have access to more general information about you and your site. This helps your blog look more credible and trustworthy.
The Pages I recommend setting up first are:
Some blogs list their posts on their homepage. Other blogs, like mine, have what we call a “static” homepage. (Go to my homepage to see what I mean.)
A static homepage usually provides an overview of the site and includes a link to the blog (where the posts are listed), as well as links to other parts of the site.
Now that you know the difference, what do you want on your homepage? Blog posts or a static page?
If your current theme makes your blog posts show up on your homepage and that’s how you like it, you can skip this section. Visit your homepage to see. From your Dashboard, hover over the house icon in the top left of the screen and click “Visit Site.”
If your current theme makes your blog posts show up on your homepage, but you want to use a static page instead, make these simple adjustments:
First, create the page you want to serve as your homepage. To do so, go to Pages > Add New.
Title your page. Your title will show up at the top of your homepage, so keep that in mind. In my case, the title is “Hi, I’m bukas.”
Now, write the content for your homepage underneath your title. It doesn’t have to be super fancy; you can easily change it and fancy it up later.
Publish your page by clicking the Publish button in the top right of your screen.
Next, from your Dashboard go to Settings > Reading. Under “Your homepage displays” choose the “A static page” button and select the page you just created from the drop-down menu.
Save your changes.
Visit your homepage to make sure you’re good to go! Hover over the house icon in your Dashboard > Visit Site.
If your homepage is a static page, you’ll need a main page to list your blog posts.
To do this, go to Pages > Add New. Title it “Blog” or something similar. Do not type anything in the post window.
Next, go to Settings > Reading. Under “Your homepage displays” > “A static page” select the blog page you just created.
You can test to make sure it’s working by adding “blog” (or whatever you titled your blog page) to the end of your URL in the address bar. For example, to see my blog page, I’d go to dollarmind.com.ng/blog.
Your About page is one of the most important parts of your site and is often one of the most visited pages. It’s also one of the first places a visitor goes to decide whether or not your blog is worth their time. Writing a good one is essential.
I have a whole post on writing a killer about page, but I’ll summarize.
Make sure a visitor will know within the first few lines of your About page how your site will help them. Don’t launch immediately into information about you. They’ll want to know why they should stick around.
Then, once you’ve told them why they should read, next show them what to read. Anticipate what a new visitor would want to know. Provide links to other pages on your site (once you have them of course).
Only then should you actually tell them about yourself.
Providing contact information to your visitors is important. Blogging is a form of social media and building relationships is key. Being contact-able (is that a word?) is a must.
I set up my contact page FAQ-style in an attempt to avoid emails I get repeatedly. However, when you’re just starting out, you might welcome all emails from your readers! This gives you a chance to make meaningful connections and start building those relationships.
Your contact page doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple listing of where you can be found on social media, your email address and perhaps a short blurb encouraging them to reach out is excellent.
Protip: If you look at my contact page, you’ll notice I don’t put my email address in standard form with the @ and . signs. Instead I write it out like this: dollarmind at gmail dot com. I do this to cut down on spam. The idea is to throw off any bots crawling the web hunting for the standard email format, harvesting it and blasting me with unwanted emails. Honestly, I’m not sure how well it works. It might just be a holdover from my younger blogging days. I should research this again.
The following are additional pages you might consider creating, although you could hold off on them until you get a tiny bit further along in the process.
- Tools I Use. Many of your readers will appreciate a list of tools and resources you use and recommend. Additionally, this is a great source of affiliate income (my favorite way to monetize).
- Email list signup page / Almost Done / Thank You. These pages are used when someone signs up for your email list.
- Disclosure Policy. When you start making money, you must have a disclosure policy. You can use a disclosure policy generator like this one to create this page when you’re ready.
Step 5: Write your first post
Now that you’ve got your main pages set up, you’re ready to start posting!
Writing and publishing a post in WordPress is pretty straightforward. Here are the basic steps, as well as some handy tips.
Ideas for your first post(s)
Don’t do what a lot of new bloggers do, including me, and start with a flimsy post about how you’re about to start a blog (e.g. “This is my first post!”).
Instead, kick off your blog with a really meaty, useful post. The goal is for readers to get lost in the content (not lost as in they can’t figure out what you’re saying, lost as in totally engrossed and enthralled,
Follow up your first post with a handful of equally meaty posts.
I recommend having 2 or 3 really thorough, in-depth posts when you launch, and 7-15 more posts in various stages — drafts to be edited, outlines to flesh out and topic ideas ready to write.
It’s good to have solid content available if visitors find you, but at the same time, don’t get bogged down writing a dozen or more posts before you publish anything.
Yoast, the SEO guy, calls these posts cornerstone content. They are also referred to as evergreen posts (because they are timeless) or pillar posts.
Whatever you call them, the point is to make them exceptional.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for your first post, type your main topic or niche into Google and see what others have written.
Don’t copy of course, but use those posts as inspiration. Make your post even more thorough and in depth. This is a common technique called the Skyscraper technique explained by Brian Dean.
For even more ideas, on the Side Hustle Nation podcast at 28 minutes, Nick Loper talks about a definition post and a fishbone post:
- The “definition” post. This is good if your topic is slightly obscure or unfamiliar to most people. What is your main topic? Write about it in depth. Cover all the possible questions a beginner might have about it.The “fishbone” post. This is an “epic list post of skills or ideas that are critical to your primary topic.” Explain each, and link to high-authority sites on the topic. (You might also let those site owners know you did.) Over time, as you write more posts on the topic, replace the external links with your own internal links.
The “fishbone” post. This is an “epic list post of skills or ideas that are critical to your primary topic.” Explain each, and link to high-authority sites on the topic. (You might also let those site owners know you did.) Over time, as you write more posts on the topic, replace the external links with your own internal links.
- Alright, now that you have some ideas for your first post, let’s get writing!
- Open the Add New Post window
Make sure you’re logged in to WordPress (simply type yourdomain.com/admin in your browser to log in).
From your Dashboard, go to Posts > Add New in the left column. Alternatively, you can hover over the “+ New” link at the top of your screen and choose “Post” from the dropdown menu that appears.
Add a title
My tip here is to title your post what people will search for to find it.
For example, I titled this post “How to Start a Blog” because I figured that’s exactly what someone would type into Google if they wanted to know what I’m explaining in this post.
Check your permalink
Before publishing your post (not after, otherwise you may break your link!), check and edit the permalink if you’d like.
Use keywords and make it as close to the way someone would search for your content on Google.
If you want to change the permalink structure of a post or page, simply click the “Edit” button next to the automatically generated permalink on your post or page and change it to what you want.
Compose your post
You can write directly in WordPress, but a lot of people choose to write in a text editor and then paste their completed post into WordPress when it’s done.
A major benefit to this is not slowing down your site while WordPress constantly autosaves as you go.
Add images, quotes, videos, PDFs or other media
To add something other than regular text to a post, like an image, put your cursor where you want it to go and add a block by clicking the + icon. This is Gutenberg!
Be sure to read my tips for using images on your site to make sure you’re preparing your images properly, and not violating anyone’s copyright.
There are also blocks for files (like PDFs), videos, quotes and more.
Add a link
To create a link in your post, highlight the text you want to be the link and click the link icon (looks like a chain link) in the formatting options box.
A popup will appear where you can paste the URL of the page you want linked.
If you want the link to open in a new window, click the 3 dots and toggle the switch.
Select the category (or categories) and tag(s)
On the right side of your screen, you’ll have the option to select or add new categories and tags for your post.
Categories are used to define the general topics on your blog and tags are used to drill down a bit further into your content.
Ideally, your blog will only have 5-7 categories so choose them thoughtfully.
Well-chosen and well-used categories can make a reader’s experience on your blog a pleasant. They also provide a basic structure or “outline” for your content.
Tags are more specific — too specific to be categories themselves. Many people don’t use tags (I don’t). If you do, use as many as is necessary to keep your information organized without getting messy.
Once you’re done writing, see what your post will look like by hitting the Preview button in the top right of your screen.
Save, schedule or publish your post
WordPress has an autosave feature which automatically saves your writing every few minutes.
If you’re working on a post that isn’t ready to go live yet, you can keep it in Draft mode and come back to it later. You can see all your drafts by going to Posts > All Posts.
If your post is ready to be published, you can publish it immediately or schedule it to be published at a future day and time.
To publish it immediately, make sure “Immediately” shows next to Publish in the Status & Visibility box. Then hit the Publish button at the top of the screen.
To schedule it to publish later, click “Immediately” next to Publish and choose the day and time you want it to go live. Don’t forget to set your timezone first (Settings > General)! Also, setting the date and time is not enough. You must also click the “Schedule” button at the top of the page.
You have other options in the Status & Visibility box as well. You can make your post public, private or password protected.
Public is normal and makes it available to all. Private keeps it, well, private, allowing access to only site admins and editors. Password protected means anyone who wants to see the post has to type in the password you set before seeing the post.
Step 6: Customize your blog design
Now that you’ve got some content, you may want to change your blog’s design.
In WordPress, this is done by installing a new WordPress theme. Here’s how to choose a WordPress theme (and what I use).
A lot of new bloggers get really excited about all the design options available. There are a lot! However, it’s easy to go overboard.
Less is more. Start with a minimal theme. The more fancy your theme, the more moving parts. The more moving parts, the more there is to break.
That leads me to speed and mobile responsiveness.
Your site should be fast and should work well on all devices, from phones to tablets to desktops. Again, less is more. Fortunately, most reputable themes ensure this from the get-go, but it’s still important to keep tabs on this yourself.
Also when considering a new theme, take note of your blog’s basic elements and where you want them on the page. Do you want a large image on the homepage? No sidebar? A footer? Do you want your posts on the right or the left of the screen? Do you want your main navigation menu at the top of the screen or under your header?
Try to look past colors, fonts and other easily changeable things. If you can find a theme with the elements in the spots you want them to start, it’ll be a lot easier to make the switch.
Where to find a new WordPress theme
I always recommend purchasing a premium theme (I use and recommend Genesis). Premium themes are better maintained, often have helpful documentation or tutorials and usually offer support. Find the theme you want on its own site and purchase it. You’ll be given instructions to download it to your computer after purchase.
You can also find new themes from your WordPress Dashboard by going to Appearance > Themes. Search if you know the name of your desired theme, or click the “Add New” button at the top of the page to browse.
Install your new WordPress theme
Installing a new theme is straightforward.
If you found a theme via your WordPress Dashboard, simply click the Install button.
If you purchased a premium theme elsewhere, it will come packaged in a zip file.
(The zipped file is what you will need for the following step, so if your computer automatically unzips zipped files, locate the zipped version on your computer before moving on.)
In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme. Find the zipped file and upload it.
If you are working with a 2-part system like Genesis, you’ll need to upload both the Genesis Theme Framework and the child theme of your choice. Again, read my post about choosing a theme for an explanation of this preferred type of system. If you try to upload your child theme and you do not have the Genesis Framework installed, it will not work. I recommend you upload the Genesis Theme Framework first, then repeat the process with your child theme.
After your theme is uploaded, activate it. In the case of a 2-part framework like Genesis, you’ll activate the child theme, NOT the Genesis Framework.
To activate a new theme, go to Appearance > Themes. Hover over the theme you want and click Activate.
Customize your theme
Once your theme is activated, go to Appearance > Customize. If the Customizer doesn’t work with your chosen theme, I would not use it as it’s probably not kept updated.
The Customizer will allow you to tweak things like color, fonts, and other things. Options will vary depending on your theme.
Set up widgets & menus
WordPress widgets allow you to easily put chunks of information in your sidebar, footer or other places on your site.
Your options for widgets will depend on the theme you use.
Go to Appearance > Widgets. Drag and drop widgets from the left side of the page to the sidebars and footer on the right side. Use the tiny down arrows to edit the content within. Always save!
Menus are used to put navigation bars on your site. They can also be found by going to Appearance > Menus.
Again, menu options will depend on your theme. If you’re using a premium theme, consult the help documentation for instructions to set your menus up.
Step 7: Get traffic & make money
If you’re still following along, well done! You now have a good handle on the basics of blogging and how to get started.
There are many directions you can go at this point, but the main things to focus on are creating excellent content and building genuine relationships.
Once you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy source of information, others will begin to visit your site.
Once you have a steady flow of traffic, you can brainstorm ways to monetize so you can make money.
Build an email list
Your email list will be an invaluable tool for getting traffic and making money. I recommend you set one up as soon as you’re able.
What’s so great about an email list? It gives you more control.
Armed with your readers’ email addresses, you can go to them when you want to highlight your content or promote a product, instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Tips for getting traffic
I can’t stress enough the power of good content. Excellent content gets suggested by Google, passed around social media and shared by others. Make your blog the best in its class.
Hang out where your target audience hangs out and build relationships, no strings attached. Where do they spend time online? Facebook? Instagram? YouTube? Hang out there too, and make friends.
Don’t be THAT blogger always promoting their own thing. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to mention what you do and where people can find your blog if you think it will be truly helpful to them.
Parting thoughts & next steps
You will feel overwhelmed, especially at the beginning. This is normal.
When it comes to starting a blog, there is a steep learning curve, but don’t give up! Push through! Most of us have been in that very spot too.
If you want some encouragement, read my post 18 Tips for New Bloggers.
- Need help? If you encountered something unexpected during setup, contact Bluehost technical support. Calling is better than live chatting. If you’re in the US, call 844-213-7846. They have access to your account (something I don’t have) and should be able to get you unstuck.Activate your domain. If you chose a new domain on the previous page, check your email inbox to find the appropriate welcome email. Click the button inside to complete the activation process.Finalize your domain. If you opted to use an existing domain or you chose a domain later when you signed up for Bluehost, don’t forget to make sure it’s working properly before you launch your blog. If you’re unsure how to do it, call Bluehost and have them walk you through.Don’t forget to set up an email list. My Email Marketing 101 post will walk you through.Subscribe to the Useletter®. If you want to keep up with what’s going on in blogging and social media, I wade through the internet and find the good stuff, so you don’t have to. It’s completely free. Sign up here.
Activate your domain. If you chose a new domain on the previous page, check your email inbox to find the appropriate welcome email. Click the button inside to complete the activation process.Finalize your domain. If you opted to use an existing domain or you chose a domain later when you signed up for Bluehost, don’t forget to make sure it’s working properly before you launch your blog. If you’re unsure how to do it, call Bluehost and have them walk you through.Don’t forget to set up an email list. My Email Marketing 101 post will walk you through.Subscribe to the Useletter®. If you want to keep up with what’s going on in blogging and social media, I wade through the internet and find the good stuff, so you don’t have to. It’s completely free. Sign up here.
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