I’m so excited for you guys to dive into renowned blogger Rebekah Black’s guest post today! Bekah takes you through the blogging basics with clearly worded, simple steps to get you on track for starting that blog that’s been hovering in the back of your mind! Enjoy!
I’m often asked, “How do you start a blog?” “How do I find what I want to write about?” “How do I become successful at blogging?” “How do I get traffic to my blog?”
As a veteran of my own successful blog I understand how confusing and daunting task of starting a blog can be–but it’s not impossible. I’m going to teach you how to get your blog up and running while answering the most frequently asked questions along the way. Sprinkling you with tips and tricks I have gained over the years, I am confident that you will leave this article encouraged, prepared, and more than ready to start and rock your own blog!
Let’s get started!
First things first.
Before you start your blog, you should probably know what you are going to blog about, right? How do you find what you want to write about? What you are passionate about? What do you like to do?
Maybe you are an avid baker and if so, then you’ve found your niche! A blog on baking where you can share your recipes would be perfect for you. Perhaps you are a writer, then a blog dedicated to your writing, short stories, and writing tips would be a great fit. There are many more ideas and categories that you can blog about like crafting, decorating, DIY, pet care, self-improvement, inspirational, fitness, etc.
You’ve found your passion–but now what?
Once you’ve found your passion, it’s time to find your audience (i.e. the people who will read your blog and hopefully become faithful subscribers). How do you do this? Well, let’s take the example of the baker above. You love to bake but the term ‘bake’ is a very broad term. Yes, you love to bake-but what do you LOVE to bake? What are your health beliefs? In order to narrow down your audience, you need to find a specific group of people to cater to. Let’s take the gluten-free route and you set up a blog catering to the gluten-free baking crowd. There, you’ve found your audience!
This thought process will work for any niche. Simply put on your thinking cap and write out the category you want to write in and then go through and see how you can make it less generalized and more specified.
How do I figure out what to name my blog?
It depends on the niche. If you are doing a cooking blog, maybe something like “Cooking with Cassey”. You can even just use your name! You can be creative with it, ask your family what they think, and ask your friends for input as well. Be intentional with your name and be sure it encompasses your brand but still stays true to your personality.
Once you do this it’s time to find your platform!
Are you ready?
How do I find a host for my blog?
So, you’ve figured out your niche and audience, and the name of your blog but–how do you actually go about making it into a reality? This will take a little doing, but it’s not hard to figure out, I promise. There are all sorts of hosts for blogging and you are going to need one–that is unless you know how to code a website from scratch.
My most frequently asked question in relation to finding a blogging platform is, “Which host should I use for my blog? WordPress.com, WordPress.org, or Blogger?”
Those three tend to be the most popular amongst the blogging community, but that’s not to say there now are a couple others options such as Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. For now, I’m going to walk you through the three most popular.
Generally, as a beginner, you are going to want something easy to set up and has an easy learning curve. As your blog grows, you may want to change the look of your site and add features later on. This is why it’s important to find a web host that will allow you to be flexible now and in the future. So, keep that in mind.
WordPress.org is by far the most popular web hosting service right now and it powers 30% off all websites. It is a self-hosting solution which means that you will have to sign up with a web hosting provider such as one like GoDaddy. WordPress.org is a great option if you want full control of your blog right now and in the future.
- WordPress.org gives you control over every aspect of your website.
- You can grow your blog and add extra features like forums, online store, and paid membership. This makes WordPress the best blogging platform to make money.
- There are thousands of free themes available for WordPress. This allows you to create a beautiful website that stands apart from the crowd.
- You also get access to more than 54,000 free plugins. These plugins are like apps for your WordPress blog that allow you to add features like contact forms, galleries, etc.
- WordPress is search engine friendly. You can easily create SEO friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts. Plus, there are a good number of great SEO plugins for additional features.
- Managing your own website comes with a bit of a learning curve.
- You will have to manage your own backups and security.
- If you are up for a slight challenge, then I’d recommend this platform. If you are new with no previous experience setting up a website–then I’d go with something a little more beginner-friendly.
Now, do not get this one confused with WordPress.org. While they are sister sites, they are not created equal. WordPress offers a basic blog hosting service for free! Which, if you are just looking for a way to share your writing as a hobby, is a great option if you don’t want to funnel a lot of money into your blog. This is the one I currently use, although I do use WordPress.org as well for my author website. Their plans start at only $4 dollars a month for a domain name and a wee bit more control. You can purchase additional options like a custom domain name, more storage, and other premium services.
- No setup required.
- Easy to use and manage.
- It’s completely free if you are happy with a WordPress.com subdomain. Your free website name looks like this: https://example.wordpress.com.
- Limited options to extend your site. You cannot use custom themes and plugins for customizing your blog.
- You cannot run advertisements on your blog. Instead, WordPress.com will show their ads on your free website.
- You do not own your blog, and WordPress.com can suspend your account if they find you are violating their terms of service.
Blogger is a free hosting service provided by Google and is what I started out on before hopping over to WordPress. It’s a quick and easy way to get a site thrown together for non-tech savvy users. All you need is a Google account, which I’m sure, most of you have.
- Blogger is free.
- It’s easy to use and manage without any technical skills.
- Has the added advantage of Google’s robust secure platform and reliability.
- You’re limited to basic blogging tools and can’t add new features as your blog grows in popularity.
- Design options are limited, with fewer templates available. Third-party templates for Blogger are often low quality.
- Blogger does not receive frequent updates or new features.
- Google can suspend your blog at any time, or even cancel the Blogger service altogether. (They have a history of abandoning projects without warning, such as Feedburner.)
- If you want a domain, you will have to go through a third party to get one.
It’s up to you to decide which one would work best for you and your needs. Take your time, do some research, and maybe even check out Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly before making a decision. Remember, this step is important in the future and you will want a site that will grow with you and not hold you back from being the best blogger you can be.
How do I get traffic to my blog?
So, you just started your blog. You’ve figured out hosting options and you’ve even written your first introductory blog post! Yay! I’m so proud of you for getting this far and not giving up. By now, you should have a beautiful blog but–where are the people? I remember this well and to be honest, it’s depressing! You’ve put in all this work only to hear–crickets. What do you do? Where do you turn? Where do you get traffic?
Well, there are a few ways to do this.
1. Comment on other people’s blog.
I learned this one by accident and it was actually fairly simple. I searched out blogs in my niche or near it and–followed them. When I saw a blog post I really related to, I commented and left my link. Now, be careful with this one and be sure you are not just spamming because that won’t get you anywhere. Be kind, leave a thoughtful comment, and discreetly slip in your link. That’s all there is to it.
2. Guest Posting
This may seem a bit daunting, but it’s okay. You’ll be okay. You want the traffic, yes? Well, you are going to have to put yourself out there in order to get it. Find a blog that accepts guest post submissions in your niche. Write a post, edit carefully (you want to come across professional), and then submit and wait. When you do end up getting on a site, make sure you leave your link in your bio so people can check out your blog and give you a follow.
3. Get on social media.
If you are not on social media, well, you are missing a huge helper in getting traffic. Get Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for your blog. You don’t have to use all of those but chose at least two in order to be more effective. I have an Instagram account dedicated to promoting my blog as well as a Twitter. A lot of my traffic comes through social media as well as through guest post redirects. Use social media to your advantage and get some traffic flowing to your blog.
What is the key to a successful blog?
It’s no secret that dead blogs don’t hold an audience–the one thing you need for a successful blog is to write consistently. This is key! I tend to steer clear of blogs that have a post dated three months or even years ago, and the reason for that is because I want new, fresh, and exciting content. To do this, it would be best to create a posting schedule. Take some time to sit down and figure out what would be realistic for you. What is something that you can promise your readers? A new blog post every–week or two weeks? The last one is my personal favorite because it gives me time to research more blog ideas.
How do I find new blog ideas?
I’ve been blogging for a while now and running low on creativity is a blogger’s worst fear. One thing I like to do is–read other people’s blogs! I see what they are writing about and put my own unique spin on it. I read, read, read and it helps to get my mind jogging and the juices flowing. You can also look up blog prompts online, but I haven’t had as much success with that route.
Another thing you can do is ask your followers. If you have a substantial following on Instagram and on your blog, you can ask them “What would you like me to blog about?”
Short, simple, and it gives you a chance to hear what the people following your blog want to hear.
Do I need a logo for my blog?
It’s helpful, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much and blow a ton of money away doing so in the beginning. Why? Because your style may change, your ideas may change, and your blog may evolve to look very different than what it first looked like in the beginning. I would encourage you to find a simple logo, there are several of free logo makers online that you can use until you feel like it would be wise to get one professionally made.
How do I keep from getting discouraged by slow growth?
I’ve been in your shoes before and it’s not fun, but you know what? Rome was not built in a day. America was not built in a day. Slow and steady wins the race as they say and if you are faithful in your work, I promise you will see the benefits. Don’t focus so much on the growth, but on the quality of the content you are posting. That is the most important thing because no one is going to follow poorly crafted content.
Okay, so you are now on your way to starting your own successful blog. You’ve learned how to find your niche, name your blog, how to figure out which hosting platform works best for you, how to get traffic to your site, whether or not you need a logo, and why it’s important to stay consistent.
You’ve got this, and I wish you success with your new blog in the years to come.
Rebekah Black is a young writer from Southern California who is a lover of all things bacon and books. She is the co-founder of The Wilting Rose Project, an online girls’ ministry, a contributor to The Rebelution, Fervr, Top Christian Books, and is a staff writer for TheLife.com. Her love for books borders on an obsession, but she regrets nothing. When she is not reading you’ll most likely find her either playing piano or guitar, working on her next novel, baking up healthy treats for her insanely supportive family, or rooting for her favorite band, BTS. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.