How to Create a Blog

Are you interested in creating a blog? It can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a lot of online experience. Fear not, though, as I have put together this handy step-by-step guide to help you out. Having created a number of blogs over the years, I promise you that it is a lot easier than you may think, regardless of your skillset.

written by

James Examply

last updated

June 18, 2020

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Why Should You Start a Blog?

Blogging has come a very long way over the years. In the beginning, people blogged purely to share their opinions and thoughts. It was a great way for them to review their favourite books or to tell everyone about their most-loved fashion trends! Today, though, blogging is much more than a medium for sharing a personal opinion. A lot of businesses around the world are using blogs in order to generate new leads, establish their authority in the industry, and expand their reach. So, let’s take a look at some of the different reasons why you may want to start a blog.

Blogging

Establish yourself as an authority

Blogging can help you to show yourself as an authority in a certain subject or industry. This is important for entrepreneurs, job seekers, and business owners. Let’s say you have a personal training business. You can use your blog to display your knowledge, which will help you to establish yourself as one of the best personal trainers in your area. I would advise doing a lot of content that has recommendations and tips for your audience, so they will consider your blog the go-to source when it comes to anything relating to your niche. 

Make money blogging

Of course, one of the main reasons why people start blogging is simple: to make money! I don’t blame you! Your blog can be a semi-passive source of income. This means you can earn money from your blog even when you’re not actively updating it.

There are a lot of different ways that blogs can be used in order to make money…

  • Creating a product and selling it via your blog. 
  • You can also make the most of affiliate marketing. This means that you will refer products to your audience and then whenever they make a purchase, you will generate revenue. Amazon has a popular affiliate program if you’re looking for a good place to start. 
  • One of the main ways that people make revenue via their blog is through advertising. You can sell advertising space on your blog, and this is something that can result in a steady stream of income. 

Another way that you can make money through blogging is by offering guest posting services. This is when advertisers and marketing businesses are going to pay you money in order to post content on your blog, which will include links to another site. This is to help build the authority of the company linked within the post, helping them to develop a better search engine presence.

Quick Tip!

While charging for guest blogs is a great way to make money, be picky with what you accept. If your blog is about crafts and you post a piece on personal injury law, it could hurt your search engine ranking. Relevancy is important!

Personal blogging 

Of course, a lot of people still want to start a blog so that they can express their opinion and/or document everything they do. It becomes a journal for them. This is a good way of connecting with like-minded people in your community. It is also an effective way of letting friends and family know what you have been up to if you live far away and don’t see them a lot.

What Is Your Blogging Niche Going to Be?

When you start a blog, it is vital for you to consider what niche you’re going to focus on. Remember; blogging is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. You need to think about the long-term. After all, when things get tough, it is your passion that is going to see you through. Therefore, it is critical to choose a niche that excites you and that you want to write about. There are three things I would recommend you consider in order to determine the right niche for you.

Purpose

Firstly, we have the purpose of your blog. What caused you to want to start a blog in the first place? For example, if making money is the driving factor, you are going to need to make sure that the niche you choose is not too narrow. You need something that has a high traffic volume if you’re going to be able to monetise your blog successfully. 

Traffic volume

Next, we have traffic volume! You need to choose a blog that other people are going to be interested in. Are people searching for the sort of information that you are going to be sharing?

Passion

Last but not least, passion is everything when you’re choosing a blog to write about! Although I like to eat cakes, I wouldn’t be able to write about them. Why? I’m not passionate about baking or ingredients. I’d quickly run out of ideas and inspiration, and I wouldn’t have the heart to see the blog through. Now, building a website is a different matter altogether. I could talk about this all day. It’s my passion. It excites me, which is why I will never tire of writing about it. What’s your passion

Quick Tip!

Your passion doesn’t have to be your line of work. You could be passionate about a certain TV show or type of workout!

Selecting The Right Blogging Platform

Now that you’ve got an idea for your blog, you need to decide on the best blogging platform. Unfortunately, there’s no single blogging solution that is the best. It’s about figuring out what is going to be right for you. Again, I would recommend considering three important things here…

The purpose of your blog

It is vital to make sure that the blogging platform you select aligns with your goals. Some blogging platforms are better for business blogs while others are more suitable for journal-style blogs.

Monetisation 

Are you looking to make money from your blog? If so, you will definitely need to consider this when you are choosing a blogging platform. After all, some don’t allow you to monetise your blog with ads. This is usually the case for free blogging platforms. Take WordPress.com as a prime example. This is undoubtedly the most popular blogging platform. However, if you use the free version of WordPress.com, you are not going to be able to monetise your blog. You are typically going to need to use a paid blogging platform if you’re to maximize your profits through advertising. 

Usability

The third factor I would recommend considering is the usability of the blogging platform. How easy is it for you to use? If you’re tech-savvy, you may not be too concerned with this. However, if you’re a beginner, you will want something that does not have as much of a learning curve! 

The Most Popular Blogging Platforms

There are many different blogging platforms available today, so I’ve decided to give you my thoughts on some of the best ones.

Before we get into these blogging platforms, I need to clarify one thing: there are two different types of WordPress blogging solutions. You have WordPress.com, which is the one I briefly mentioned earlier, which doesn’t allow ads on the free version. You then have WordPress.org, which gives you full control. They are both owned by the same company, but they’re two different publishing platforms entirely.

Now that has been cleared up, let’s get into the different options out there…

1. WordPress.org

WordPress.org Pros:

  • Huge developer community with lots of support options
  • Social media and search engine friendly
  • It’s cost-effective
  • Great range of mobile responsive themes
  • Over 54,000 extensions, apps, and plug-ins for full customisation
  • Extremely flexible platform; have complete control over your blog

WordPress.org Cons:

  • Back-ups, performance, and security are your responsibility
  • A little bit of a learning curve if you are a beginner

Who is WordPress recommended for?

  • Business blogs
  • Online businesses
  • Professional bloggers who want complete site control

There really is only one place to start when it comes to blogging, and this is WordPress. If you check out the blog post I recently wrote on CMS market share, you will see that WordPress really does dominate the lion share of the industry. At the same time, though, this doesn’t mean WordPress.org is going to be the right solution for you. Remember what I said; think monetisation, blog purpose, and usability when determining what’s going to be right for you.

WordPress.org provides a lot of the same features as the WordPress.com version, yet it also offers a number of other customisation options. I’ve put together a great guide on WordPress customisation, should you need a helping hand. WordPress.org is ideal if you want to be able to monetize your website with no restrictions, monitor blog traffic through Google Analytics, and have complete control over the customisation of your blog.

It is also open-source, which means it is free to use. Do note, though, that you’re going to need to pay for hosting and a domain name. If you want a premium theme, this will also come at as a cost, as do premium plug-ins, which can improve the flexibility of your blog.

Check out my WordPress tutorial

2. WordPress.com

WordPress.com Pros:

  • Dedicated support
  • You don’t need to worry about site maintenance
  • Built-in community functions are great
  • The interface is incredibly easy-to-use, providing a seamless experience
  • Set-up is a breeze thanks to the installation wizard
  • Hosting is included

WordPress.com Cons:

  • The free account includes ads and branding
  • Access to third-party themes and plugins is only available with Business plans
  • Very few customisation options
  • The free version is very limited

Who is WordPress.com recommended for?

  • Non-dynamic websites
  • Beginners
  • Hobby bloggers

WordPress.com is one of the most popular free blogging platforms used today. A lot of people like using WordPress.com because it is free to create a blog and it is very simple to use. One of the biggest issues, though, is that editing HTML, plugins, and custom themes are not available with this version of WordPress. So, if you want more flexibility and customisation options, you’re going to want to choose the other version of WordPress. However, if you’re looking for something simple to get started with, you may prefer this version.

3. Weebly

Weebly Pros:

  • Integrates with Google Analytics
  • Powerful SEO features
  • Good selection of mobile apps
  • Easy to use, with a great drag-and-drop blog building tool

Weebly Cons:

  • The free plan comes with a Weebly subdomain and branding
  • Exporting sites is a challenge
  • A small number of third-party integrations
  • Few integrated features

Who is Weebly recommended for?

  • Portfolio websites
  • Business websites in need of a blog
  • Beginners without much technical skill

Weebly is a great platform if you’re looking to create a blog for your business website. It has drag-and-drop options for those who want to make simple changes without any coding, as well as a broad range of easy-to-use features. 

In terms of pricing, there is a free account available, though it includes Weebly branding and a subdomain, as well as only having 500MB of storage available. Because of this, I would recommend going for one of the paid options if you do decide that Weebly is the one for you.

4. Squarespace

Squarespace logo

Squarespace Pros:

  • 24/7 support
  • Ecommerce functionality
  • SSL encryption is built-in
  • Great selection of professional design templates
  • Custom domain and hosting included
  • Easy to use and very beginner-friendly

Squarespace Cons:

  • Personal plan only allows for a limited number of contributors and pages
  • Limited third-party integrations
  • You are limited to only using the features that come with Squarespace

Who is Squarespace recommended for?

  • Portfolio websites
  • Ecommerce stores
  • Business owners
  • Hobby bloggers and professional bloggers

If you are looking for plenty of customisation options without needing to use coding, Squarespace is certainly worth considering. If you are creating a blog for your business, I think you’ll enjoy the analytics dashboard and the fact you can easily expand your services with Squarespace.

In terms of pricing, Squarespace uses a subscription model. You can read my complete review on Squarespace here for a full overview of the different packages and prices.

5. Wix

Wix Pros:

  • A lot of stock images for you to select from
  • Unique AI feature so you can design your blog automatically
  • Endless design options
  • Easy and quick to set up, with hosting included
  • A lot of templates and third-party apps
  • No coding needed and the interface is easy-to-use

Wix Cons:

  • You can’t migrate your website to a different host
  • Once you have chosen a template and made your website live, you can’t change it
  • A limited number of free apps
  • Free Wix account comes with Wix branding and has limited capabilities

Who is Wix recommended for?

  • Businesses in need of a blog to go with their website
  • People that have little to no development experience
  • Musicians, artists, and other creative types

Wix.com is a website building platform that is mainly for building websites, yet it is still suitable for starting a blog. In fact, you can read my Wix review in full if you want to find out more. One of the things I love the most about Wix is that the sites are all responsive, meaning your blog can easily be viewed on a tablet, PC, or smartphone. Wix also offers a good level of support.

In terms of cost, you can get a free account with Wix. However, this is going to be limited in terms of the functions you can use and you’ll have Wix branding everywhere, so I would recommend going for one of their paid plans if you do choose Wix. 

6. Joomla

Joomla

Joomla Pros:

  • Lots of extensions available for more blog features and functionality
  • Easy to make design changes
  • Plenty of professional-looking templates
  • Very flexible and suitable for a lot of website types

Joomla Cons:

  • Back-ups, performance, and security are your responsibility
  • Requires some CSS and HTML coding knowledge
  • Not beginner-friendly

Who is Joomla recommended for?

  • Online stores
  • Big, dynamic blogs
  • Business websites
  • Users who are technically advanced

Joomla is a great platform for bloggers, yet it is not just a publishing solution; it is a full content management system. One thing I definitely like about Joomla is the wide selection of content options that are available.

As Joomla is an open-source content management system, no cost is required. Nevertheless, you will still need to buy a domain name and hosting. 

7. Drupal

Drupal Pros:

  • Core multilingual site support
  • Great taxonomy system for handling tons of data
  • Built-in access control system so you can manage user permissions
  • Custom content types for added flexibility
  • Access to tons of free features and modules
  • Great for building advanced, feature-rich websites

Drupal Cons:

  • You need to add some modules in order to get rid of the Drupal out-of-the-box feel
  • Technical expertise is definitely going to be needed for installation
  • This is not a beginner-friendly platform, so if you’re just starting out, you’ll probably find another platform easier to use

Who is Drupal recommended for?

  • Editors
  • Designers
  • Developers
  • Anyone with time and patience on their side to learn about the platform

Last but not least, we have Drupal! Drupal is a complete content management system. This means that you can manage all of your online presence, not just your blogs. You will need to find your own host if you choose Drupal. It is also a platform that’s not ideally suited to beginners, as there is a lot to learn. 

Drupal is an open-source platform, meaning you’re not going to need to spend a penny in order to use it.

The Technical Side of Creating a Blog

You will be pleased to know that starting a blog isn’t rocket science. All you need is the right set of tools and a little bit of know-how, and you’re good to go! 

You may have noticed that I mentioned a few of the blogging platforms discussed above require you to have your own web host. You will also need to choose a domain name for your blog as well. These are two of the main areas that I am going to cover when it comes to the technical side of starting your blog.

Choosing a Domain Name

Firstly, let’s take a look at how to select a domain name. It does not cost a lot to do register a domain name, and the process is very easy. However, I’d highly recommend you select a domain name for your site that is going to be easy to type and remember. Your domain name is basically your blog’s address on the Internet, like Wikipedia.com or Twitter.com.

Site123 add domain

Here are some of my suggestions on what to consider when selecting a domain name for your blog…

Choose a brandable domain name

The first thing you need to do is make sure the name you choose for your blog can be branded effectively. Stuffing your domain with keywords is no longer the way to go. Yes, including keywords can still have a positive effect; I’m certainly not against it! However, don’t simply stuff in as many keywords as you can. Instead, make sure you opt for something that is easy to remember and good for branding.

Select the best domain extension

There is no point in trying to get cute with your domain extension by picking something unusual. Think about it: when you go to type a website URL, do you find yourself automatically typing .com sometimes? This is because .com domains are so popular that we automatically think of them. So, I would certainly recommend .com or .co.uk as the best place to start. If these extensions are not available, the next best options are .org and .net. Don’t go for something completely out of the box. It very rarely works!

Setting up Web Hosting

Hostinger

Once you have purchased your domain name, the next thing you need to do is set up web hosting. This is the account whereby all of the files and content relating to your blog are stored. You can’t have a blog without a web host. Think of it like your online house: whenever someone wants to visit you, they will be directed to your web host via your domain name, and then they will be able to see all of the things you have stored in your online home. There are lots of great web hosts out there at the moment. Some of my personal favourites include SiteGround, Hostinger, BlueHost, and iPage. 

Essential Plug-Ins for Your Blog

There are some really great plug-ins available for blogs. I’m going to reveal some of my favourites below. However, do remember that some blogging platforms won’t enable you to use external plug-ins, and so these plug-ins aren’t going to be available on all platforms. You need to keep this in mind when selecting your blogging platform and thinking about what plug-ins you’re going to use. 

Yoast SEO

Yoast

There is only one place to begin when it comes to plug-ins for bloggers in my opinion, and this is with Yoast SEO. This is one of the most used plug-ins for SEO. It is updated on a regular basis to ensure that it is compatible with the latest algorithms from Google, and this is what makes it so powerful. There are a lot of features that can help you to blog more effectively as well. Your content will have a Flesch Reading Ease score, so you can figure out whether any parts need to be changed in order to read better. There is also a traffic light system that ranks your content based on how well optimised it is, as well as making recommendations for improvements. 

What are some of the best features of Yoast SEO?

  • Readability Check from Flesch Reading Score
  • Content Insights to check the match for chosen keywords
  • No duplicate content thanks to the use of canonical URLs
  • Complete control over breadcrumbs for setting primary post categories
  • Keyword optimisation for synonyms and related keywords

Akismet

Akismet

Akismet is another type of plug-in that I highly recommend. Spam is a nightmare for any site, contaminating your backend files and your blog. Akismet is a plug-in that is here to make sure that this does not happen. It will examine all of your contact form submissions and comments to ensure that any harmful content is located. 

What are some of the best features of Akismet?

  • Fast performance, which will save you a lot of time
  • Discard feature that will block out the worst spam and save storage
  • Moderators can view a number of spam comments from each user
  • You get a status history for every comment so you can see where the spam was located
  • Extremely easy backup and restore process 

Jetpack

Jetpack

Another app that I rate highly for bloggers is Jetpack. This helps in brute force attack protection, malware scanning, and spam filtering. It is great for protecting your website from unwanted intrusions. You can also get emails and push notifications regarding any website downtime. If you manage a number of blog sites, you are also going to find Jetpack helpful, as you can monitor statistics and website data from one source.

What are some of the best features of Jetpack?

  • You can manage a number of websites from one dashboard
  • Exceptional security
  • SEO tools for WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, and Google
  • Improved and quicker mobile experience thanks to lazy image loading
  • Powerful customisation tools for your site design

Promoting Your Blog

You could have the most stylish blog on the web, with the most interesting content, but if no one reads it, what’s the point? Just because you create incredible content does not mean that traffic is going to magically appear. You need to know how to promote your blog effectively. Let me take you through some of the steps you should follow to promote your blog…

Create pillar content

The first thing you need to do is create some pillar content for your website. You can’t focus on promoting your site until you have done this. After all, no one is going to stick around if your website does not provide any sort of value. 

Pillar content refers to a series of blog posts that represent your best work. This does not merely need to be written content. It could include videos and infographics as well.

The main reason why pillar content matters is because it can bring in a rush of new backlinks and visitors. Plus, your audience is going to be much more likely to explore your blog and promote your content, as pillar content is your best work and so it should offer heaps of value. Another great thing about pillar content is that it will continue to attract more traffic long after it was first posted. 

What sort of blog posts act as great pillar content?

  • Controversial subjects
  • Latest industry news
  • Listicles
  • How-to guides and tutorials 

Quick Tip!

Have a publishing schedule, and stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to creating a successful blog.

SEO

You can grow site traffic by focusing on search engine optimisation. This involves using a number of different off-site and on-site SEO tactics to try and get your blog posts to rank as high as possible in the search engine result pages. There are a number of key elements when it comes to SEO for your blog. This includes…

Google
  • Keyword research – This is one of the most critical elements of SEO. It helps you to understand what sort of things your audience is searching for on Google. There are some great tools out there for you to help with keyword research, including SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner.
  • On-page SEO – You need to ensure that the web pages on your site are optimised for search engines. You can use an SEO plug-in to help with this. You should also add internal links to all of your posts, as well as alt tags to your images.
  • Link building – This is a key factor with regards to the way Google ranks web pages. There are a number of approaches you can use in order to get links back to your website. This includes publishing high-quality guest articles on reputable sites in your niche, publishing interviews, reaching out to likely linkers, and creating shareable infographics. 

Blog commenting

It is also a good idea to make sure you are present in your niche’s online community. I would advise actively commenting on popular blog posts in your niche and get involved in different conversations that are going on. If the blog you are commenting on allows backlinks, make sure your name is linked directly to your blog.

Social media marketing

When it comes to reliable traffic sources to your blog, social media is right up there. I would always recommend just starting out with one or two platforms. A lot of bloggers make the error of trying to get established on as many social media platforms as possible. However, if you do this, you are going to find it impossible to keep up a consistent and effective social media presence on all of these platforms. This is why I think it is a good idea to start with one or two, to begin with. You can conduct research to find out what social media platforms your audience is using the most frequently, and then you can focus on these. 

Email outreach and marketing

Another form of marketing you can use in order to get your blog out there is email outreach. There are a few different ways that email outreach helps you to promote your blog. This includes offering guest posts on popular blogs, getting press mentions, and driving traffic and backlinks. This is the easiest way for you to make a personal connection with influencers in your niche.  You can also send out email newsletters to connect with your audience and to encourage them to continue to visit your website. 

Monetising Your Blog

Earlier in the guide, I mentioned that a lot of people start blogging because they want to make money. I am sure some of you were itching at the bit for more details on how to do this. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. 

But first, let me stress this: blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, it takes quite a bit of time and persistence in order to see returns, so do keep this in mind.

So, how can you make money from your blog?

Advertising

The easiest way to make money from your blog is through advertising. You can begin by using Google AdSense in order to display ads on your blog. This is basically Google’s advertising network. You don’t need to have a lot of traffic to get started, so you can get involved pretty quickly with this.

You can also decide to sell ads on your site directly to businesses. This is not something you are probably going to be able to do right away. However, once your blog starts to attract more numbers, this is an avenue of ad revenue that is worth exploring. 

Quick Tip!

I would recommend downloading the AdSanity plug-in. You can use this to manage your ads easily and boost revenue.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is another great option if you are looking to make money from your blog. This is when someone clicks on a product link via your website, and then you receive a commission for this.

 There are a lot of different affiliate marketing programs out there you can join, yet Amazon is the most popular. Of course, there is no limit to the different affiliate marketing programs you can get involved with. 

The key is to make sure you recommend products that are actually related to your blog and that make sense to your audience. Otherwise, why would they want to purchase them? 

Guest posting

Another way to make money through your blog is to charge people to guest post on your website. This is when other businesses and bloggers post content on your website in order to promote their own products and services. 

You can charge them for the privilege of doing so. Of course, the better your website and the higher domain ranking you have, the more you will be able to charge for this.

Quick Tip!

Don’t allow just anyone to post on your website. Yes, you may make money now, but it can hurt your profit overall. Irrelevant blog posts can hurt your DR.

Selling products and services

Another option is to sell products and services via your blog in order to make money. From eBooks to online training sources; there are many different options. With the right strategy, it is certainly possible for you to make a full-time income by selling products on your blog, whether digital products or physical ones.

Summary

So there you have it: my full guide on how to create a blog! I hope you have found this helpful on your quest to create the perfect blog, whether this is a personal blog, business blog, or any other type of venture. Good luck and don’t forget to share your creations with me; I’d love to see them!

Frequently Asked...

I would recommend creating blog posts that serve your main goals. Show your personality and write as you talk. I’d also recommend starting with very specific working titles so that you don’t lose focus.

The average time it takes for a blog to get traction is between three and six months. However, this depends on many factors, such as the quality of your blog, your SEO strategy, and how often you post. Make sure you get those analytics installed so you can see how your blog is performing and make the necessary changes. 

This depends on the sort of blog you are creating. I would recommend making sure you publish at least three times per week. Consistency is key, though, so don’t post ten times one week and then only one time the following week.

Yes; they most certainly do! And to be honest, I think it is going to stay this way for a long time. However, we are constantly changing the way that we consume content, and because of this, I would always recommend that you stay up to date with everything that is going on in the industry so you can make sure your blog is always relevant and engaging. 

You can monetise any sort of blog today with the right strategy. However, some blogs that do particularly well include DIY/craft, finance, food, pets, and health and fitness blogs.

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