Blogging is a very popular topic these days, because it makes it easy for ordinary people to share their thoughts online. Here, I will guide you on how to start a blog and make money from it.
Why Start a Blog
A blog is a great marketing tool for businesses, but the popularity of blogging is largely because it also offers ordinary people the opportunity to become stars as well as make a reasonable living from their blogs.
However, beginner bloggers often do not get what it takes to start a blog and make it successful. Some think it’s about publishing a few posts on their blog and seating back for the money to roll in.
Others think it’s all about copying other people’s posts or articles and posting them on their blogs. But, neither of these strategy works, no wonder the mortality rate of blogs is very high.
You do not just start a blog today and start making money immediately. It takes time to build, maintain, and nurture it. This is why it is important to know how to blog.
How to Start a Blog
What follows is a guide of how to start a blog
Step 1: Choose what to Blog about
One of the first decisions you make after deciding you want to start a blog is to figure out what you will blog about. Some new bloggers fall into the trap of writing about everything that comes to mind.
Yes, blogging is about sharing your thoughts, research, and experience, but if you are interested in professional blogging that thought must be targeted at a clearly defined audience.
Remember that one of the goals of professional bloggers is to build a reputation. Certainly, you cannot build a reputation on everything. You need to build a reputation on something. This is why before you start a blog, you have to give a long hard thought on what you want to be blogging about.
Your blog should be about your interest and passion. It should be about a topic you are happy discussing. It should be about something you are passionate about. Passion is very important in blogging because it takes time and energy to build a reputation and make money from blogs and without passion you will certainly give up.
To discover your passion and interests you need to brainstorm. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What topics do you regularly discuss about with your friends?
- What are your hobbies?
- The type of movies do you watch
- What do you spend your money on?
- The types of books and magazines you read?
- What types of websites do you regularly visit?
When picking what to write about, it is very important to choose a niche with a sizable audience. Do not choose a niche that is so unique that you are virtually the only person interested in it.
Step 2: Choose a Blog Platform
A blog platform is an online software that enables you create and maintain a blog. A blogging platform offers you an easy to use interface for posting content to your blog. You can write, format, and edit your posts, as well as add photos and videos to your posts via your blogging platform.
The blog platform also creates an easy interface for customising the look and feel of your blogs. They also offer plug-ins and widgets for extending the functionality of your blog and making it more useful to your readers.
Although, you can switch your platform at anytime, getting it right the first time is very important. Switching blogging platforms may require some technical skills. So, you should take your choice of a blog platform serious.
I should know, because I had to switch this blog to another blogging platform early last year (2016) and had to face a lot of challenges. So, I will advice that before you start a blog, you think long and hard about the blogging platform.
I will advice you to pick WordPress. Yes, WordPress was the blogging platform I switched to last year. I had outgrown Blogger (my former platform) and needed something more flexible and my self-hosted WordPress was it.
WordPress has thousands of plugins that you can use to add lots of functionality to your blog and offers the level of customisation that no other blogging platform offers. In addition, WordPress has a large community of users that can help you with any challenge you may run into.
Note that there are two types of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I am recommending WordPress.org, the self-hosted version. WordPress.com is similar to Blogger and share some of its limitations.
To avoid confusion, the rest of this article will focus on WordPress.org.
Step 3: Choose a Domain Name
The domain name of your blog is its central address on the internet, for example the domain name of this blog is www.naijatechguide.com.
A domain name is another little detail you need to get settled before you start a blog. Here are some tips on how to choose a domain name for your blog:
Choose short memorable domain names – Some of the best domains are short and memorable.
Add your keyword to your domain – If it is possible, add your major keyword to your domain name.
Consider future expansions – When choosing your domain name you need to consider the future expansion for your blog.
Use a popular TLD – Top Level Domains TLDs are letters that end a domain name eg. .com, .org, .net. .com is the most popular top level domain and should be your first choice. You can also try .org and .net in that order.
Avoid using other people’s brand names and registered names – Avoid using business brand names in your domain or registered brand names. This will ensure you do not run into legal trouble tomorrow.
In the same vein, your blog name should be as short as possible, memorable, and avoid using other people’s brand names or registered names.
You have chosen a domain name for your blog, but the domain name does not become yours until you actually register it. Besides the domain you have chosen may have been bought by another person. So, you need to check for availability first.
To register a domain name, you require the services of a domain name registrar. At the website of the domain name registrar you can check for the availability of the domain name you desire and if the domain name is available, you can buy it.
You may also decide to buy your domain name from your hosting company, which I will discuss in the next step. Similarly, you can also decide to host your blog with the domain name registrar.
Step 4: Choose a Web Hosting Company
You have chosen a domain name. Now it is time to host your blog.
A web hosting company is a service that stores the files that make up your blog on servers connected to the internet in such a way that they are accessible to your readers through your domain name.
The articles on your blog as well as the images and other content are all stored for you by the web host. All you need to do is connect your domain name with the web host’s servers and you are good to go.
However, if you buy your domain name directly from your web hosting service, you will not need to connect the two as they will be connected automatically.
However, there are benefits of having a separate domain name and web hosting. A separate setup makes it easier to change to a new hosting service, if the service quality of your current host drops.
One important hosting tip if you plan to start a blog is that some hosting companies will offer you free domain name as part of your hosting plan. This may seem convenient initially, but will make moving your blog hard.
There are lots of hosting companies to choose from. It is best to choose one with a good reputation. I currently use JustHost, HostGator (Click Here), and Tiger Technologies for my websites and they all serve me well. This blog, for example is hosted on Tiger Technologies (Click Here).
I love Tiger Technologies because their server speeds are pretty fast when compared to the average speed of a lot of hosting companies.
Moving my blog from Blogger meant I needed a hosting company that could match the speed of Google servers, Tiger Technologies was the hosting company that came close during my tests.
Other services you should also consider for the web hosting of your blogs include GoDaddy (Click Here) and Bluehost.
The Best Hosting companies offer a user friendly interface for installing WordPress and other blogging platforms you may have chosen. Hosting a blog can cost you between $4 monthly for a small blog to up to $50 monthly for blogs with massive traffic.
Another hosting tip to keep in mind when you plan to start a blog is that the first year of hosting could be discounted. For example, a web hosting company may charge you $2 a month for the first year and $5 or even more on subsequent years.
So, in calculating your cost pay more attention to the real price rather than the discounted price. Discounts can be up to 90% in some cases.
There are thousands of web hosting companies to choose from, which can make things a bit complex when you want to start a blog. Here are some of the web hosting companies I currently use:
|Tiger Technologies||$9.95 to $19.95||20GB to 50GB||Unmetered||Learn More|
|HostGator||$4.95 to $119.99||Unmetered||Unmetered||Learn More|
|GoDaddy||$1.00 to $16.99||30GB Unmetered||Unmetered||Learn More|
|JustHost||$2.65 to $29.99||50GB to Unmetered||Unmetered||Learn More|
Hosting companies offer multiple plans, usually you should start your blog with the entry plan which could cost between $4 and $10 depending on the hosting company. However, it may be better to start your blog with the mid-range plan to give more allowance in case your blog grows fast.
However, no matter the hosting plan you pick, it is important to ensure that the hosting company offers you an easy path to migrate to a higher plan without disrupting traffic to your blogs.
Although most web hosting companies offer monthly payment options for their hosting plans, I will advice you to pay for at least 6 months if you seriously want to start a blog. This is because it takes time to build a successful blog. Paying for just one month at a time makes it easy to give up if things are not going your way the first few weeks.
Making a long term commitment on your hosting can motivate you to push harder through the very trying early stage of blogging.
Step 5: Install WordPress
Now you have an address for your blog and hosting plan to store your content in. You are now going to install the blogging platform that will enable you easily manage your blog.
Remember that in step 2, I recommended that you start your blog with WordPress. I am assuming you took my advice. Installing WordPress is not as tedious as it sounds.
You do not need to download anything neither do you need to upload anything. This is because, the best hosting services already have WordPress on their servers, all you need to do is to press a button to start the process of installation. In less than a minutes you could have WordPress ready to power your blog.
To start a blog on WordPress, just find the appropriate link to click once you are in your user dashboard of your hosting account. If you chose Tiger Technologies as your hosting company, look for the aptly named Install WordPress link. If on the other hand you chose HostGator, you should look for the WordPress Installer.
No matter the hosting company you choose, it will be easy to find the appropriate link or button to initiate the process of installing WordPress.
Once you click on the link or button, you will be required to specify the domain name you want to install WordPress on. During setup, you will also be required to enter your site name as well as the username and password that you will use to log-in to the admin area of your blog. Your email address will also be required.
When choosing your password, make sure you choose something hard to guess. It is also a good idea to avoid using admin as your username.
Installing WordPress is easy and takes less than a minute and in the end you will receive an email with the link to the admin area of your blog where you can now continue building your blog.
Step 6: Design your Blog and start adding Content
With WordPress successfully installed it is now safe to conclude that you are now ready to start a blog.
You should now log-in to the admin area of your blog and begin to tweak the design. The first thing to consider is adjust the permalinks. Go to Settings > Permalinks and choose the post name option.
The next task should be choosing a theme to use for your blog. There are a number of free themes that come with your WordPress installation. Just go to the Appearance > Themes section to pick a theme.
You can also go to sites like ThemeJunkie, ThemeForest, or Mojo Marketplace to buy a more professional looking premium WordPress theme for your blog. A premium WordPress theme can cost between $30 to $50 a pop.
Choose a theme with a responsive design. This ensures your blog adapts to different devices, from mobile phones to full fledged computers.
While having a nice looking blog is great you should not focus so much on looks initially especially at the expense of building content on your site.
While you are designing a great looking blog you should also be adding great content to it. You need to learn how to write good content for your blog.
In case you are wondering what a great content looks like. Here is a brief characteristics of a great content:
- It is useful and have keywords in all the right places
- It must answer a question (or a couple of them)
- A Great Content must be unique
- A Great Content is easy to read and understand
- It includes images when necessary
It is also important to add new content regularly to your blog.
Once you get a number of posts and writings under your belt (say 10 or more), you should then register your blog with search engine webmaster tools (like Google and Bing) and add tracking and analytics code (Google Analytics) to your blog.
The webmaster tools offer useful information about your blog. Make sure you submit an XML sitemap to help search engines index your site faster. Tracking services like Google Analytics provides lots of useful information about your traffic and audience. These will enable you write better content to satisfy them. Do not forget to open social media accounts for your blog.
This article is still a work in progress and will be completed soon
Blogging is easy, putting Ads on your blog is also easy, the hard part is making money from your blog. Now let’s see what you must do to make money from your blog.
What it takes to make money from Blogging
When you decide to start a blog, it is usually about making money. However, for a blog to make money, two ingredients are required. The first is reputation and the second is blog traffic.
To start a blog and make it successful, you need to know how to build your blogging reputation.
You cannot build your blogging reputation by copying other peoples’ work, neither can you build reputation if you are blogging about everything. Your blog must be known for something.
This is why you must take my recommendation in step 1 about how niche blogging is the best way to start a blog seriously. It is easier to build a blogging reputation if you focus in a niche.
Can you define the purpose of your blog in one sentence? If you can’t, then your readers will find it hard categorising it. Building your blogging reputation simply means making it easy for your customers to associate your blog with your content.
So that whenever they think about your niche they think about your blog. For example, if you are blogging about shoes or fashion, having a good reputation means that people looking for shoes or fashion ideas will have your blog on top of their mind as well as recommend it to friends.
The truth is that it takes time and hard work to build a blog reputation. So you need to be passionate about your niche to pull through. It will also take time to make money.
To build a reputation you need to offer unique, relevant, keyword rich, and quality content. You should post something new on your blog every day (or three posts per week), to keep it fresh.
Differentiate yourself from other blogs in your niche. In addition, open social media pages (including Google+) for your blogs and engage with your fans actively.
Make it easy for your readers to engage with you by providing feed subscriptions, social networking shares buttons and like buttons. Building a blogging reputation takes time and hard work, but gradually one day at a time your blog will eventually get there.
As for the second part, which is building traffic, it goes simultaneously with building a blogging reputation. Good content is the greatest asset to invest in when you start a blog. Having unique, well researched, and well written content on your blog will keep readers coming back for more.
Search engines should be top on your traffic building strategy when you start a blog. This is because most people use search engines when looking for information on the internet. So, you need to learn latest SEO strategies and implement them on your blogs. Do not also forget other traffic sources like social media, feeds, blog directories, email lists, etc.
Once you have a reasonable traffic and reputation for your blogs making money becomes easy. You can place your ads on your blogs, sell directly to your visitors, or use advertising networks like Adsense and you will see good results.
So, for beginner bloggers planning to start a blog, my recommendations are simple. Learn how to build reputation and traffic first and keep making money for later. Even if you place 1 million ads on a blog with little traffic, it will make nothing or very little. So, now you know the secret of how to start a blog and make money.