Everything you have to know when you’re starting a blog
From buying a blog domain to your first content [Updated for 2020]
This text was originally published in 2016. A world of changes has passed through the blogging world since then. All those changes have made this marketing channel even more popular among freelancers and alike in terms of making a living from writing. As easy as it sounds, here are several steps to take before you start making money with writing. This is a post about stepping into the realm of blogging and showing you how to make your blog functional whether you are considering selling your words or just want to share your stories with the world. Trends change with time, niches get popular and then fade. Products come and go, BUT blogging fundamentals stay the same. Logistics on how to start a blog stay the same, so I want to give you the core basics on how to launch a blog. I’m covering all the technical details you have to do before you start your blog and giving you a recipe on how to become a blogger. There is no big secret about it – you have to offer value to your audience. Write about topics that interest people, solve their problems with genuine advice, and motivate them to learn more.
Table of Contents:
1. Technical side – making a blog live
1.1 Step one Buy a Domain for your blog
1.2 Step two Get hosting
1.3 Step three Connect blog domain with hosting
1.4 Install blog theme with WordPress
1.5 How to launch your blog without stress
2. How to write a good blog post?
3. How to earn money from your blog
4. How to be a successful blogger?
5. Are you ready to launch your blog?
Technical side – making it live and online
Today we have a practical lesson. It’s time for you to do more than just read my blog posts, I want you to take real action. You can have your own blog set up in less than an hour. And I’m going to make it as easy as possible because there is no secret to how to launch a blog. Instead of taking shortcuts that you will have to fix or alter later, I’m going to take you through the EXACT process I used to set up this very website.
STEP ONE – Buy a Domain for your blog
This means you own the name of your website. For example, I own “servenomaster.com”. I have owned many websites. Some of them I have kept for a decade and some I used for a year or less and dropped when they were no longer profitable. You want to pick a name that you like and that defines who you are and what you want to write about. I have blogged on quite a few domains and used quite a few services before I got where I am today. My very first site was called SmellMyBlog.com. It was great for a fun little blog that I only thought a few people were reading, but when traffic exploded, I realized that I needed to change the name to something more serious. Nobody wants SmellMyBlog to appear on a credit card bill at the end of the month. Now, this step is usually related to choosing your niche as well. Many blogging sites follow brand names of their owners – like Niel Patel. Sadly, my name Jonathan Green is not so uncommon and a simple Google search will provide many results that would be confusing for the user and more difficult for me to differentiate my website. Instead, I went for ServeNoMaster which perfectly describes what we do here. Also, it’s unique.
Have a look at these names:
The Penny Hoarder
It’s perfectly clear what is their target niche. I understand that coming up a blog name that is simple, recognizable and impressive will require a bit of copywriting skills and imagination. Don’t worry. Give it a good ponder, ask your friends, look what other people in your niche are doing. Should your blog name still be blank after this, maybe it would be a good idea to try one of name generators out there. You never know, it just might provide you with an idea.
Now that you have the name, you are ready to buy a domain.
I buy ALL of my domains using NameCheap.com. Their domain base includes thousands of domains, registered or not, which you can search up in finding one for your blog. Simple and easy.
It is tempting to buy your domain and hosting from the same company. This is a really important step because many of the other services will leave you with regret in the long run.
They all try to get you to do this.
GoDaddy is the king of this.
But you should never make this mistake. Why? Because it leaves you vulnerable.
You get hacked once or spammed or a virus injected into your site and many of those companies will freeze your account.
They take your website and they take the NAME.
It can be a nightmare to try and get it back.
So, you need to firewall yourself and ONLY buy a domain from NameCheap. Spend some time coming up with a cool name and grab that domain as soon as you think of it. If you do a search and decide to think about it for a day, the domain might be gone tomorrow. There are many companies that scan the searches and grab any cool names that other people think of.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Grab your domain right now.
Step Two – Get Hosting
Hosting means there is a computer inside a big warehouse somewhere that is always on.
Your website will live on this computer (called a server).
There are literally millions of companies in this game and I’ve been through about a dozen. My first hosting provider turned not so efficient, so I switched to Bluehost because it was even easier to set up, and getting SSL took 5 minutes. Back then SSL started to be an online norm regarding server/user browser security which made my life easier.
Currently, this site is relying on Kinsta hosting with enabled CDN (Content Delivery Network). Basically, we serve static content through CND so our users get served our content faster. How? Depending on their geographic location Kinstas server sends information to them – if, in London, they’ll be served from Paris, not from USA.
Choose your hosting wisely because it will impact website performance, speed, and reliability. This is especially important if you’re planning to have a heavy website – lots of diversified content with heavy images, lots of video/audio, or podcasts. Although there are techniques and plugins to optimize content for website speed and performance, you want your blog foundations to be solid. So, even though servenomaster optimizes pictures and photos with a plugin, we also have enabled Kinsta CDN which serves our end-user with the shortest route to their browser possible reducing site loading considerably.
Step Three – Connect blog domain with hosting
Basically, with this step, you are telling the algorithm how and where to reach your blog content. Entering domain name (address) in the browser leads your users to all the wonderful stuff you wrote. You just have to tell DNS (domain name system) how to translate alphabetic letters in the address to an IP address it can use. I’m going to use BlueHost for example to explain to you how to do this because BlueHost has one of the easiest processes I’ve experienced so far.
First, Get your Nameservers from BlueHost.
- Click on where it says Domain List
2. Choose the domain you want to put your blog on
Click on “Manage Domain” next to the name of that domain
3. Click where it says nameservers.
Make sure it says “Custom DNS”
Then input these 2 answers (they are the most DNS for shared hosting with BlueHost)
Save your changes by clicking the green checkmark and then you’re done!
The beauty of Bluehost is that WordPress is instantly installed via its BlueRock system. As soon as you finish your account creation process, you can start designing your blog.
This is the page you will see.
Step Four – Install WordPress Theme
Chose a Bluehost Certified Theme
This is another step that usually gives people headaches while it’s easy to set up with a little guidance. One of the great things I liked about Bluehost is how EASY they make it to install WordPress.
It’s directly integrated into your hosting, but for most hosts, you will use cPanel to install WordPress. Kinsta offers one-click installs and manual installs. Hopefully, one-click install will be enough for you.
Kinsta One-Click Website Add
To get started, log in to your Admin Dashboard. Select “Sites” in the left navigation and click either of the “Add Site” buttons. The form for adding a new site includes a few options used to customize your site. Here is everything you need to know about them. If you already have a domain you can select “custom domain” and it will use that when creating your WordPress site. You can always add your custom domain after the fact in the MyKinsta dashboard.
Site Title Admin Username Admin Password Admin Email Select a Language Completing the Process
When you’re ready, click on “Add” button. Creating the new site will take a few moments, you will receive a notification via the admin dashboard when it is ready.
cPanel WordPress Theme Install
This example uses Bluehost, but it’s the same for all cPanel hosting. There are a ton of blog options out there, but I’ve only used WordPress for the past seven years. It has never let me down. It’s the most popular platform in the world for a reason. Bluehost considered this process to be a legacy process meaning that most of the users install WordPress through My Sites (Bluerock).
Installing WordPress with Marketplace
- Log in to your Bluehost cPanel account.
- Find the Website section and select Install WordPress.
- Click the Install button.
- Choose the domain name to install it to. In the field next to the domain, you can enter a subfolder such as ‘blog’ or leave it blank if you want the site’s main page to be the blog.
- If necessary, you can edit the email address, username, and password for the new WordPress installation. Click “advanced options” and you can change those settings.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
- Select the Install Now button.
- If you don’t choose a theme here, one will be automatically added for you. You can choose a different theme later on.
There are a couple of key options you’ll want to change as anything you do now is locked in for a long time. Make sure you choose the domain that you want. I prefer to have it WITHOUT the www in front of my domain. You want the directory option to be BLANK. They might try to have you put it in the “wp” directory but that will mess up your website. Put in a cool name and description for your blog. If you can’t think of a great idea right now, that’s ok, these two options are really easy to change later.
You do NOT want your username to be admin. That options the door to your site getting hacked and is a really common mistake for first-time bloggers. Pick anything unique and you want a really strong password.
Your admin email should also be something you keep quiet about. I tend to use an email address that’s separate from the domain. Just use a Hotmail email address or something like that. That way if something happens to your account you can still fix the problem. This might seem like a little overkill, but it protects you from risk by hackers etc in the future.
Step Five – Launch a Blog Without Stress
Once all steps mentioned above are in place, the next screen will show you where you go to log in to your site.
Now that your blog is set up properly you can have a blast without fear.
Write your first blog post and start messing around inside of WordPress. In this moment I strongly recommend having a website backup plan. There is no bigger misconception than “I’m too small to get hurt.”
It’s the unexpected problems that really kick you in the teeth. So, if your security fails you lose the website. There are several ways you can get damaged, the biggest two in my opinion are: 1. Hacking 2. Hosting betrayal – where your host does something to damage your website. When a hacking attack got hundreds of gigs of pornography uploaded to my site, the hosting company tracked this to me. They also cut all access to my website because and I had to fight to get the main files.
Don’t let this happen to you. I did a podcast a while back on backing up website content where you’ll find all about backing up with free tools.
Backup Your Blog Before These FIVE Disasters Strike.
How To Write A Good Blog Post?
Now you’re ready to write something, finally! A general rule of thumb to writing a good post goes in a direction to write what are you interested in, what motivates you and inspires you. There are more than 500 million bogs out there with 2 million posts published every day. Certainly, there is room for more, but how?
Your content has to be something that your audience wants to read which brings you to back to – audience. If you define from the start to whom you are communicating to it will be much easier for you to create content. And sure, probably every topic has been well written about up until now, but trends change and skills like your own writing style and blog angle will always be key differentiating content factors.
The blogs people enjoy visiting regularly become a part of their life. They even buy some products sold on them. These blogs are offering valuable content – content that’s enriching and makes a positive difference in the lives of the readers.
These 11 components are what define good blog posts:
- Unique content
- The right style
- Easy to scan
- The Skyscraper Technique
- Internal links
- In-depth research
- Fitting and captivating images
- Key takeaways
- Call to action
They all seem simple, but don’t let that fool you because when combined together, these elements can unleash incredible power and make your posts magnetic. I explain all the details on how to write a good blog post.
How To Earn Money From Your Blog
You have to understand that posting for fun is one thing, earning money from your writing is another.
There is no need for you to quit your job as soon as your blog is online. However, usually, people who start a blog eventually quit their jobs. There are many options to make serious cash online. The key to success is to take action fast. Like Jim said back in episode 3, the ability to execute is very valuable. Most people can’t execute. We get frozen by too many options. The people who execute always rise to the top. I am always trying to find people with this simple ability to grow my business.
Rather than getting caught up in all the choices, you need to take action immediately. Train yourself to take action to break through paralysis of analysis.
How do bloggers get paid?
One step towards that goal is creating foundational blog content (also known as pillar, flagship, or cornerstone content). Evergreen content that encapsulates a blog’s essence. Essential, basic, and indispensable are keywords that define foundational blog content. As the name implies, foundational blog content is content on which you’ll build the rest of your articles and resources.
When well-crated, foundational blog content can help your site easily rank high in the search engines, gain traction and attract a tsunami of consistent traffic.
Creating this kind of content is a smart SEO strategy because the goal is not just to create content, or even to rank high, but to craft content that speaks to the reader’s concerns.
With this goal in mind, it’s smart to focus on the outcomes or results you’re trying to achieve, not just the format. Focus on crafting content that reflects exactly what your readers expect and you’ll get to the goal of how to become a blogger that earns money.
How To Be A Successful Blogger?
Writing is a profession.
It’s a job.
It is a way to make a living and support your family.
You don’t have to choose just ONE category, there are loads of amazing topics to choose from.
Look at blogging as a book writing smaller brother. As an author, I understand the struggle of finding an exciting niche and come up with fresh ideas. I found it easier when I sum them up in a new year blog post ideas list. Maybe it will work for you too.
Just find the one that gets you the most excited!
Are You Ready To Launch Your Blog?
It takes forever to create content and to distribute it to all your social media platforms. These tasks can be really exhausting that’s why I always repurpose my podcast content and make blog posts out of the episodes. The easiest way is to slice a podcast episode or a YouTube video into meaningful content formats used on social media.
You can let your blog do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
I have used WordPress for all my sites and I absolutely love it because it has tons of plugins for social media sharing that will make your life easier once you launch your blog.
You can use plugins to add powerful features and turn your blog into a cash machine.
Always think of ways to tweak and improve your site and you can stay one step ahead of the competition
Today I share with you six types of plugins that can help you connect your social media presence to your blog. Be careful though, advise with your developer because some plugins don’t work well in combination with other ones. For example, ideally, you should have just one plugin adding meta tags, Blog2Social and RankMath do exactly that.
- Better Click2Tweet
- Social Streams
- Instagram Feed
- Easy Social Share Buttons
- Social Media Widget
- RankMath SEO