Starting a blog means making a lot of decisions like: which website host to use, what your niche will be, and when you’ll publish content. Getting started can seem intimidating, so I’ve outlined five steps that’ll help you set up the best blog possible.
After all, you can’t turn anything into a business if you don’t get started!
Table of Contents
1. Find your niche
While this is listed as one of the ten steps to turn your blog into a business, it’s also important to consider this before you get started. When someone clicks on your site from a search engine result, or you’ve referred them to your blog, they should know right away what your blog is about.
When people visit my site, I want them to quickly understand what my blog is about. They’ll realise I offer tips for making money online so you can travel more. If your blog doesn’t have a sense of direction, people will leave. So while you don’t have to be completely sure from the start, you should at least know which genre you want to focus your efforts on.
If you’re not sure how to pick your niche, start by taking a look at your social platforms. What kind of influencers do you follow? What kind of content do you consume? Think about the themes you’re seeing from that content.
If you’re following a lot of travelers who advocate for protecting the environments they travel in, could you also speak on that topic? Can you elaborate on their efforts or bring a new perspective?
But, just because you want to work remotely and travel, doesn’t mean you have to blog about traveling. You can blog about any niche and still use that freedom to travel the world. You can blog about finance, cooking, or start a book club—the possibilities are endless.
Just make sure whichever you choose, that you can offer a unique or new perspective on this topic.
If you’re still unsure, try submitting guest posts for different established blogs. Reach out to people you’d like to work with, and pitch them an article. Not only can you improve your ability to write for a specific audience, but you can also use this as an opportunity to develop your taste for different ways and themes of writing.
Maybe you pitch an article about the best street food to try in India. After you’re done writing it, you realise you’re really into combining food and travel. You’ve gotten experience, an article published, and are now narrowing down your niche, without having to experiment on your own blog just yet.
Even if the piece you submit doesn’t get published, you still get the experience of writing the post (and can use it on your site later!) Reach out to blogs in many different niches, and eventually, you’ll start to understand what you’re passionate about.
And if you do get published, now you’ve already got some credit to your name for when you launch your own blog. And on most sites when they publish your post, they’ll include a link to your blog or social platforms.
2. Pick your website host
What Skills Do You Have or Can You Learn?
After you have a pretty decent idea of what you’ll be writing about, it’s time to decide which website platform you’ll be using. Choosing the right website host the first time is important. Changing hosts later, moving over all of your articles and transferring your domain is a tedious process.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a coding expert to start a stunning blog. There are plenty of options for beginners and more advanced builders, alike.
You should first assess what your skills in web design are. Do you need a drag & drop site, like Squarespace or Wix? Or are you more comfortable adding in plug-ins and some coding, like with WordPress? Every platform comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
You should also determine how important SEO is to you and growing your blog (hint: it’s very important!) WordPress offers great plug-ins that’ll assess your writing and help you improve it for the best chances of being found in search engines; however, WordPress isn’t a drag and drop site, or as intuitive as some other website builders.
If you’re uncertain which platform is right for you, consider watching YouTube tutorials or signing up for free trials. Some website platforms will even let you keep your website for free, using one of their domains. This gives you time to play around with the site and see if it will suit your needs before commiting.
If you’re not looking to launch your site right away, you could also consider learning new skills to be able to use the platform of your choice. Sites like Udemy or Skillshare are a good place to start.
Know Your Budget
The last important thing to consider when picking a website host is your budget. Wix is a great drag and drop option, but their premium plans can be expensive. Squarespace is more affordable, but you don’t have as much design freedom. WordPress is fairly affordable, but you’ll want to have some experience with website building (or have someone set it up for you.)
Whichever route you choose, your website host is one of the most important decisions you can make when starting a blog.
3. Know the name of your blog!
This might seem obvious, but don’t start branding your blog until you’ve checked that your name is available. There is nothing worse than designing your website, getting articles ready, creating social graphics, and then realising your blog name is already taken.
Or, your domain name is available but there aren’t any matching social media handles available!
Before you get too far into starting your blog, check to make sure your domain is available and purchase it. You might also want to check Instagram and any other social media sites you plan on using to make sure your audience will be able to find you easily. Always think about the entire brand.
You don’t have to wait until you settle on a website host provider before buying your domain name, though. I’ve listed choosing your provider first, because a lot of website hosts offer you a free domain for the first year with their paid subscriptions.
Make sure you can find a domain that is either the title of your blog, or closely related. You don’t want someone to accidentally visit a site they think is yours, and lose traffic. You also want to pick a domain that is simple enough to remember, and easy to spell!
4. Plan your schedule and layout
Another thing to consider before starting your blog, is your schedule. Are you going to post once a week? Once a month?
Audiences like and appreciate consistency. Having a schedule going in can help you avoid the last-minute editing and posting. It can also help you organize your site into the categories you want.
And, if you want to send out newsletters and build your email list, it’s important to know what’ll be published on your blog next week and how you’re going to market new posts.
If you want to build a team of writers or eventually hire a VA, scheduling will be essential. With a schedule, everyone knows what’s being published, what they should be working on, and how to market the blog.
You should also think about how you will drive traffic to your site.
Maybe you’re already working with brands on your social media, and you need to consider how to incorporate sponsored posts or ads. Do they have certain requirements on when things need to be posted?
Thinking about your schedule will help you optimise your site from the start. This way when you launch your blog, you’ll already have content scheduled and ready to go. You can also help market the launch of your blog on social media, teasing some of the content you have set to release.
5. Do Your Research
Sites You Like
If you’re stressing about which theme to choose for your blog or how to format it, use the same techniques you used to find your niche.
Look at blogs and sites you already enjoy and frequent. What do these sites do well? What could they do better?
Start making a list of elements you want to include on your blog. Maybe your favourite blogger has a nice grid layout with all his/her posts, or a nice pop-up box for the email subscription list. Keep track of these elements, and use this list when deciding how to build your site.
Model, Don’t Copy
The important thing here is to model, not copy. You don’t want to steal someone’s hard work, nor do you want your site to look like everyone else’s. That WordPress theme may be popular, but is it the best choice to make your platform stand out?