Choosing to blog as a creative outlet or an opportunity to make money is something that I’ve really enjoyed over the years. It started blogging to recap basketball games, then cars, sneakers, and finally to build my personal brand. In between, my content marketing clients use blogging as a part of their strategy to build a strong online presence. Getting started is often the hardest part. You’ve got plenty of potential blogging topics that the internet is waiting to hear about.
The following are actionable steps that you can take today to be blogging tomorrow. There’s even a workbook you can download that’ll keep you on track.
What is blogging?
A ‘blog’ is short for weblog and initially was intended to be like a digital diary. Blogging has evolved to come in all shapes and sizes, covering all topics and have very different intentions. One intention that attracts a lot people to blogging is the ease of getting started and the opportunity to have the blog generate money. No matter why you want to start your blog, it will be best served by having a specific topic catered for a specific reader. This is how there can be so many blogs without identical overlap. Each blogger has a different perspective or spin they can put on a topic and then write it for a particular audience.
5 Steps to Start a Blog: Where do I start?
The blogosphere is so broad, you’ll need to narrow your idea and audience, pick a name that well represents you and your blog’s topic, then getting your website set up.
No matter your topic, these are your first five steps to getting started with blogging. Each of those five steps are covered below and will guide you to start a blog:
Start a Blog, Step 1: Passion x Expertise
There is something magical when your expertise and passion collide. It’s obvious to everyone around you and you become absolutely magnetic. Everyone wants to read what you have to share. It happens in every niche, on every social platform and on the big screen it usually produces the best movies. In blogging, it’s just the same. Your best results will come from the posts that were the easiest for you to write. Why? It most likely was a topic that came from your place where passion and expertise connect.
The quickest way to figure out yours is to make a list and see where there could be connections for your audience. Start with your skills you’ve learned through out your life and career. Then start listing all the things you didn’t want your boss to see while you were working. I’m serious! Those are probably the passions you have. We don’t always wear our heart on our sleeve, but when it’s something we do when we know we shouldn’t – it’s usually important to us. Add to the list all the topics you can read or watch and want more. The content you continue to crave. Write it all down.
Now, not everything is going to be included, and not everything on the list will be things you want to share, but there will be something. Pick a couple of items that you could write about, that your personal experience would add a special or unique perspective and think of who would find it interesting…
Start a Blog, Step 2: Who’s going to read your blog AND get something out of it
Your family and friends will read your blog because they are your family and friends. You want to develop an audience than can turn into a tribe! It starts by understanding yourself and who your blogging will impact. Really make a positive impact for. Usually, your ideal audience is pretty close to yourself. This isn’t to say you aren’t unique, but it’s easier to write for ourselves and relate to those most similar or relatable to ourselves.
Start by looking at your topic. Think about why that topic interests you. Next, think about the benefits you would like to read about. Then think about the types of people who would also like those benefits. This is your audience.
Your audience profile can get much more detail oriented and I challenge you to include as many details as you can think of. Write it all down and have it handy when you’re writing your blog posts. I know it has helped me get past certain roadblocks by thinking about how I would want to hear it if I was my ideal reader.
You can include jokes and references to things in pop culture if you know your audience will catch (and appreciate) the reference. Those little things make all the difference.
Start a Blog, Step 3: Pick a name & get your Blog setup
With your list narrowed down and an audience identified, does a name spring to mind? The reason I ask you this now is your already thinking of keywords. Too often I hear someone come up with a catchy title that doesn’t do anything for their blog. A name doesn’t matter in the big picture (because your content means so much more) but it does help to make a reader feel at home.
Name? Check. Now it’s time to get your website up and running.
I suggest using WordPress for all of your blogging. There are lots of others options, many of which I’ve tried, and I absolutely love WordPress. The many options available to customize your blog make it a perfect solution for any new blogger, regardless of the topic.
You could start with a blog that is hosted by WordPress that is totally free, but it comes with a lot of limitations and I would not suggest starting there. You want to have a self-hosted website and you’ll need a domain and hosting to make it happen. It sounds more complicated than it is, your domain is an address, and your hosting is like renting an apartment or office. It’s where you’ll be “doing your blogging.”
The folks at BlueHost have made it super easy to get started with a self-hosted WordPress blog and they will even go you a free domain! BlueHost is the best place to get the technical stuff handled so you can get blogging!
Once the basics website is live, you start poking around on the WordPress dashboard and you’ll see a lot of options to customize the appearance, add plugins and many different formatting tools.
The most important thing to see is posts – that is where all your blogging will happen! But first, there’s some key pages that every website should have. Get those out of the way first.
Start a Blog, Step 4: Necessary (Non-Blog Post) Pages
I know you’re going to be blogging, but you’re going to need to create a few essential pages on your website to let your readers know what its all about.
- About You
- Start Here
- Contact or Newsletter
These pages are like setting up a foundation. They all encourage a first time reader to learn more about you, your blog and get more involved by opting into your email. As a blogger, your email list is your most valuable asset. Reaching someone in their email inbox is gold! Here’s why each of these pages is important.
About You: This page describes your personal background, story and motivation to start the blog. Your level of information disclosure should be appropriate to what you’re comfortable with, you don’t need to tell the world every little detail through your blog if you don’t want to. Be sure to focus here on the motivation to start the blog. This is where you can connect with readers because usually they faced a similar problem or circumstance that you did. It brought them to the blog, it encouraged you to start a blog, make it a reason to turn a reader into one of your raving fans in your tribe.
Start Here: This page on your blog is designed to be an introduction. Set expectations for what readers can look forward to, express your goals for the blog, and how they can take action. Ultimately, you are here to point readers into the direction of becoming more engaged with you and your blog if they find it valuable. Once you’ve got a bunch of posts on your blog, the start here can also feature your personal favourites, fan favourites or other special posts you would like every person on your site to read.
FAQ: The FAQ is an on-going page that saves you time! FAQ is short for Frequently Asked Questions. Put the answers out there that you would ask about your blog. The answers will put confidence in readers, again, to build a strong relationship. Sometimes you’ll have a good idea of what your audience might be wondering, other times, they will come along the way. When possible use the answers to point someone to a post on the same topic. Like this:
Question: How did you build your website?
Answer: Its a WordPress blog with a custom theme (and a lot of content). You can find the details and more of the tools I use to run my blog on my resources page by clicking here.
Resources: The resources page, which I just linked above, is one of the best ways to leverage your expertise and make money! As you’re writing more and sharing your knowledge, your audience will want to more about products and services you use and recommend for people in a similar position. Remember how you’re focusing on a specific type of person who can relate to you and your content? Guess what? They are already primed to take your advice. When you get to start monetizing your blog, you can use affiliate programs to generate money for your blog. I wrote a post for a friend’s blog on starting out with affiliate programs, check it out when you feel your blog is ready for the next big step!
Contact / Newsletter signup: This is an optional page when you’re starting out, but it will be come essential to build your brand as your blog grows. Your audience will be looking for more! Let them become more engaged and don’t think that its going to be a big headache with lots of inquiries. I recommend you send out your blog posts to your email subscribers as a good first step. As I mentioned above, your email list is gold! I suggest starting to build it now using a free email marketing tool like Mailchimp or Drip. This page doesn’t need to be super fancy, here’s mine (I’d appreciate if you sign up if you like this post). Its basic and it works. In fact, it has the least amount of words of any post or page on my website.
Step 5 to Start a Blog: Blog Post Formula + Create a schedule, stick to it.
Making your blogging part of your normal habit is important.
You can find many great examples of blog posts that can inspire your style and format. Find some top bloggers in your space a see what’s working. Look for the “top posts” on their site and get an idea of why those posts were most popular. There’s no secret here to writing great posts, just remember a few things:
- Write your post knowing what you want the reader to learn or takeaway. Be a positive impact in the lives of your reader.
- Format in a way that makes it easier to read. Use sections, lists, bullet points… Something to break up big blocks of text.
- Add visuals to help make your point and to be appealing when sharing on social media. Nothing fancy, just start using Canva.
- Edit to catch mistakes and improve. Then publish! Think about what someone who enjoyed this post would want to read next… And it starts again 🙂
Having a blogging schedule can help with a couple of things
- reduces writers block
- regularly posting increases your search engine optimization
- improves your writing ability
- creates expectations for your audience
- develops authority in your niche
It can be really difficult and sometimes discouraging to look at another blog that has hundreds of entries when you’re getting started. Don’t worry, just get moving. Content you are creating is about quality over quantity. Your schedule should accurately represent what you can accomplish in a given week. Don’t feel you need to commit to weekly or daily content. If you can post once per month, you’re still being consistent.
Now Go Setup your Blog!
Wow! This post covered a lot! I hope this quick guide and workbook is helpful for you to get your blog started. I encourage everyone to get a blog started, at minimum to showcase what you can do. It is increasingly important to have an accurate representation of yourself online and a blog can make a huge difference.
Let me know the topic you’ve chosen and share your website – keep blogging!