Welcome to HowToMakeMyBlog.com, your ultimate guide to successfully launching a blog. My name is Marko Saric. Click my name to learn more about me or keep reading to get your blog online quickly.
This guide features a 10-step list of simple, effective and essential actions that you should take to launch a great blog that people want to visit in the year 2015. It is the complete step-by-step guide to start blogging for beginner’s.
If you actually do the work, if you take the recommended steps, you will get some amazing quick wins and the results will be significant.
Each step has a link to a detailed post on the topic for further exploration. Let’s get started with the list of contents.
How To Start A Blog – The Ultimate Guide
This is my 10-step guide to creating a great blog. Follow the recommendations below to get started:
- Choose The Perfect Blog Topic
- Pick A Memorable Domain Name
- Install Your WordPress Blog
- Make Your Blog Look Pretty
- Optimise Your WordPress
- Get Search Engine Friendly
- Create Amazing Content
- Attract Blog Visitors
- Make Money With Your Blog
- Stop Reading! Go And Just Do It!
1. Do the homework first: Choose the perfect topic
Planning is critical to the success of your blog. Spend some time on doing the homework and laying the foundations of your blog by thinking about the questions below:
- Your blog idea is no good unless you find an audience for it. Get to know the audience that you want to target. What are they looking for, what common problems to they have and what questions do they have?
- Most bloggers just write what they want to write but that is the wrong way to look at it. Look at things from the audience point of view and figure out what you can help people with. What is it that you know well and can do better than other people?
- The above helps you clearly define your topic. You should be as specific as possible. What is the purpose of your blog and why should people visit it?
- The common angle of looking at a topic is no longer of any real interest. Spice things up and develop your own style, tone of voice and concept that can help differentiate you from other sites in the field. Add an angle on an angle. Will you be visiting every country in the world? Will you be developing a new start-up every month and teaching people how to do it too?
- What are your goals with the blog? What do you want to achieve by running it? You want to have a nice hobby? Do you want to make friends? Do you want to get a book deal? Speaking arrangements? Make enough money to be able to quit your job? Know why you are starting a blog in order to figure out the focus and the priorities in order to achieve your goals.
Get my detailed advice on choosing your niche topic.
2. Pick a memorable name and domain name
The name of your blog and the domain name it is accessible from are two main things people will notice when getting introduced to your site. In most cases these two will be the same – your blog name will also be your domain name. Aim to pick a name you like and are happy with. This will be a lasting decision that will most probably stay with you for a long time.
Rebranding and changing domain names can be a difficult and time consuming process, which is not something that’s advisable and that you will be able to do frequently. Take some time and decide on a name and domain name that you believe in.
These are the characteristics of a great domain name:
- Short, simple, easy to spell, easy to type and pleasing to the eye.
- Catchy, easy to pronounce, easy to remember and natural in your mouth.
- Appropriate to your topic, reflects on your messaging, but is not so descriptive so it sounds generic.
- Should not feature numbers and hyphens
- Different from your competitors, unique, distinctive and available
- Legally defensible, and not trademarked and copyrighted by another company
Take a look at my complete guide for finding a domain name.
3. Install WordPress and get your blog online
There are so many blogging options for you out there. I use WordPress myself and recommend you do too.
WordPress is the open-source blogging software that is used by majority of biggest bloggers. More than 20% of all the web is hosted on WordPress! Go for the self-hosted version of WordPress as that will give you access to all the features and full flexibility.
WordPress needs a domain name and a web space to work. That’s where you will store your content and files making it all accessible to anyone in the world. For the simplest install process I recommend Bluehost. It is easy to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting, unlimited space and is recommended by WordPress.
Click on the image below to get the domain name purchase and WordPress installation process started:
Need detailed instructions for the installation? See my how to install WordPress.org step-by-step guide.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Plus you do get an exclusive discount as a visit from my blog. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to purchase through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!
4. Branding and design: Make your site look pretty
People don’t have too much patience. You need to make sure you have all the boxes ticked with regards to the usability and design of your site in order to keep them for longer than a couple of seconds. This is why you need to spend some time on the design, branding and the overall user experience. These are the elements you should be looking for:
- Credibility is important. Your site must be trustworthy. Many designs look amateur. By being professional you can give yourself a chance to earn trust of your visitors and make them remember you. In many cases people judge websites based on their first visit on appearance alone. While you should try not to be superficial, it’s simply a part of human nature and you can’t really help it.
- How your site looks is often the first indication to readers of the quality of your content. If your site looks old, too bright, too busy or just messed up then it reflects the care you put into your work. No one will hang around a badly designed page. Get a great design that makes your site pretty. Your site doesn’t have to look like a million bucks right off the bat, but do use a nice looking theme that places content in the center, has a prominent navigation and helps you explain what your site is about. You’ll have plenty of time to fiddle with your site’s look later.
- Beyond the usability you need to think about the user journey with regards to your blogging goals. Make the design, the prominent areas and all the call-to-actions focused on the goal you are trying to achieve. Think of the usability and user-friendliness and remove the unnecessary elements of your design.
- Can your readers easily get from one post to another? Do you have links that take readers deeper and deeper into your archives, encouraging them to stay longer? Is it easy to scroll through your page? If you have multi-part posts is it easy to find each part? Can readers look up specific topics or keywords? By making it easy for readers to use your site and allowing them to naturally flow form one section into another you will keep your readers longer and also increase your traffic to older posts.
- Give people the choice of how they want to hear from you. Make it easy for people to follow you in social media, subscribe to you via email or via messaging tools. Offer something for free when they subscribe. Even better point out how many others are reading your site. The more popular your site is, the more persuasive it becomes automatically as people like to be a part of the crowd and like to follow things that are popular and that other people are following as well.
Here’s my detailed guide on choosing a great design for your blog.
5. Optimise your new WordPress blog
After you have a great design it is important to make sure to tweak few things in the default WordPress installation in order to optimise it and keep your blog safe by following this advice:
- Do not use the generic admin username. Create your own unique username and delete the default admin username. Use a strong password. See full advice on keeping your blog safe and secure.
- In case someone hacks into your site, you may lose all your articles and comments that you have built. Make sure to avoid that and do a regular backup of your content. Use a plugin like this.
- Create an about page where people can learn more about you and contact you through a contact form or email.
- Add Google Analytics code so you can track visitors to your blog and learn how they experience your content. Learn more about visitors stats here.
- Activate Akismet plugin in order to stop all the spam comments. Check here for more ways to fight spam.
- Add extra features and functionality to your site by activating one or more of these 50+ recommended WordPress plugins.
See my detailed guide with 15 to-dos to make your new blog optimised and awesome.
6. Optimise for traffic from search engines
Search engines can send you a lot of traffic so make sure your blog is optimised for them by following this advice:
- Change your permalinks to include your post keywords in your URL’s.
- Build the XML sitemap to allow the search engines to easily find and index your archives. This is how.
- Verify your URL in Search Console and let Google tell you what to improve on your site. See how you use Search Console here.
- Search engines do not like broken links, your visitors do not like them either, make sure to remove all the broken links from your site. Use this plugin.
See detailed advice from Google on how to get your blog on the first page of search results.
7. Publish amazingly good and sticky content
Internet is polluted by bad content. People are tired of it. There is just too much content. Be it mobile apps, YouTube videos or blogs. For you to have any chance of standing out and attracting an audience you do need to offer something different, something better and something special. Go above and beyond the normal article:
- Create a content strategy that focuses on publishing great content. Great content opens doors, establishes your authority and build you an audience. This is not about doing keyword research and publishing content for robots.
- You need to publish content that makes a difference in the lives of real people. For every piece of content that you produce, do your best to make sure that it is the most useful and amazing piece of content on that topic there is.
- Get to the point. Produce the best article that you can, share your experience and know-how. Offer greater detail, something more than the normal. Give more than necessary.
- Answer questions real people have. Everything that happens to you can be made into great content so do not downgrade your own experience. Tell people about your problems and how you have solved them. If you have a good solution to a common problem, someone would want to read it.
- Create lists of amazing tools and resources.
- Teach people something useful. Everyone loves a how-to guide or a tutorial post. From “how to house break your dog” to “how to build a solar powered laptop” people love to learn how to do new things.
- Research what the most socially shared posts on that topic are. Check what the top ranking posts on Google for that topic are. Make something better, more detailed, more useful, easier to understand or easier to implement than the best content that is out there right now.
- One of the issues bloggers struggle with is that their content gets outdated and irrelevant shortly after being published. Make your content timeless, the content that will not be outdated and that will be relevant and useful a year after publishing it.
- Your headlines must be sharp, they must make people curious and prompt them to click. You need to make your headlines irresistible in order to attract attention. See how to write clickable headlines.
- Make your articles scannable by using sub-headings, short paragraphs and bullet points.
- Adding images is the simplest way to grab the attention of your readers. See where to find images here.
- Mention and link to other sites when you write. When you do read a post that inspires you, link to it. There’s a good chance the author monitors their traffic sources and backlinks and will know about the link and pay you a visit.
- Use that great text based post and turn it into a video or an infographic or even a podcast in order to reach a different audience. Learn to reuse your older content. Revisit the articles in your archives, update and upgrade them and get them back into the visitor spotlight.
Take a look at my full guide on publishing immersive content.
8. Attract traffic and build your audience from day 1
- The users have shifted from search to social. They no longer only find information through search engines. A lot of information, including news and recommendations are not distributed and discovered through social channels like Facebook and Twitter. You cannot rely on Google and other search engines for majority of your traffic any longer.
- You must get a social media presence and start networking, engaging and building your following there from day one. Go to Twitter, search for people in your target group, get in touch, connect to them and win them over one by one. See how to get your first 500 Twitter followers.
- On day one you will not have any followers which means that you have to be very aggressive in your social media marketing. Follow other people first, search for people talking about your topic and engage with them, be a constantly active resource and build your followers one by one. Go to forums and other communities where people interested in your topic are. Help them, answer their questions and link to your content for further information where it is relevant.
- At this point your blog will start getting initial traffic to the first high-quality posts you have published. What do you do next? You ramp your promotion up. You need to have a marketing routine that you go through every time after you have published a new piece of content in order to drive traffic to it. This is my routine. Get out there. Find your target audience. Connect with them. Show that you are the expert. Promote your content wherever you can, whenever you can. If you don’t do this not many people will know about you.
- Join Pinterest. Pinterest is a social network based on imagery and can help drive a lot of traffic to your site. Advice on how you can use Pinterest. There’s another social network for sites that have great imagery. Instagram is very popular and can introduce your work to a new and large audience. See here how.
- Comment on other well known and highly trafficked sites and leave a link in your comment back to your own site. Part of your daily marketing could be to comment on 5 new sites a day. Just read a good article you agree with? Just read an article you do not agree with? Comment on it, share your opinion and experience. The comments you write should not be comment SPAM. Read the full post, go through the comments, and then write at-least 3-5 sentences adding the discussion. See how you can write effective comments.
- Go to other big blogs and websites and syndicate your content. Guest post are the single best way to get people to your site without having to spend money on advertising. They allow you to reach new audiences, get new readers, and help rank for specific keywords. Spending time writing a quality guest post will permit you get quality back links to your site which will help you get more traffic in the long run from search engines. When looking for places to guest post try and get out of your niche. Use your experience from what you write about on your site and relate it to another topic. You will reach a much larger audience. See how to do powerful guest posting.
Take a look at my complete guide on attracting the first 500 loyal visitors to your site.
9. It’s time to monetise your blog
- Monetizing your content is important and you have every right to make a few bucks off of it. Just keep the ads to a minimum and don’t push the popups and what not in the faces of your readership.
- If you are planning on making money from your site, know early on how you are going to do it. You don’t necessary need to start the monetization plan right away but just have it in mind so you can position yourself for when you are ready. As long as you keep producing high quality content that solves common problems of real people, the monetization will come in naturally as you start getting traffic.
- If you are looking for advertisers, make sure to have a media kit ready to send them where you inform them about your site, your traffic numbers and other details. If you’re having trouble attracting sponsors, get out there to the relevant companies, get in touch with them and explain how you will help them spread the word about their product and sell more.
- One of the best ways to make money is to integrate affiliate links to useful tools that can help them save time and resolve problems they face. In your content you can teach and instruct people on how best to use the tool. You not only help people with their problems but you also make a commission when they click on your link and buy the product.
Here’s my complete guide with all the options you have for monetising your blog.
10. Stop planning, go do it
- Some newbies fall into the perfectionist trap. They think, plan, dream, design and prepare their projects for a very long time. They sometimes never even go live as there is always something to change, fix and improve before they are ready to go. This is a mistake.
- You should go live as soon as possible, get feedback from real people, and fix and improve things as you go along. In most cases the plan you have in mind will not survive contact with the real world so it is valuable time that you waste by not getting it out to the real people.
- Stop reading and planning, get out there now, publish the best post you can and go promote it to your target group. The key to success is directed action. Take these necessary steps today to achieve success. You can do it. The success will not happen overnight, but if you start your blog now, follow the advice, learn and improve, and stick to it you can make it.
Blogging is a great activity and a great way of reaching and achieving your dreams. Keep working on it, keep learning and improving and you will see your goals and objectives being achieved in the upcoming months.
Inspired to start? Take a look at my guide on installing your WordPress blog in 10 minutes. Happy blogging!