While most marketing-savvy companies maintain their own blogs, these days it seems like almost everyone has their own blog or website to document their foodie adventures, film recommendations, or dog photos.
That’s not too surprising, considering the fact that blogging can be a very effective way to promote a business, draw attention to your writing, or even make money.
But before you decide to start your own blog, there are a few important things to consider if you want to be successful.
How to Start a Blog
The following is a list of things you should consider before starting a personal blog.
Addressing these questions now will save you a lot of time and potential stress in the long run.
1. Choose a Topic
No matter your reason for starting a blog, you should be passionate about the content you’re producing.
Your love for the subject is important because if you choose to write about something you’re only mildly interested in, the quality of your content and the frequency of your posts will likely decline over time.
Having a thorough knowledge of the subject is also preferable, because readers will want a source that they can depend on. You’ll also need that knowledge to come up with unique ideas for posts each week.
If you want to attract readers and keep them coming back for more, choose a topic that you know you can produce frequent, high-quality content for.
2. Post Frequently and Consistently
You’ll want to post at least several times a week, especially when you’re just starting out.
Hence the need for a topic that excites you—you’ll need to love your topic enough to create new, relevant content quite frequently.
If you’re serious about growing your blog, you’ll also want to make sure that you can make a time commitment.
It’s one thing if you just want to share some pictures of your cats or document your travel adventures for friends and family—but if you really want to grow your following, you’ll have to put in some hard work.
3. Decide If You Need a Pen Name
If you want to make a career out of writing, you’ll likely want credit for the work you’ve done, so writing with a consistent name is important.
But if you’re worried about privacy, you might consider using a pen name. This will allow you to maintain some anonymity while still making it easy for your followers to find your work across multiple platforms.
This is definitely something to consider if your blog deals with sensitive or controversial topics, but this decision is ultimately up to you.
4. Choose a Platform and Web Host
The first technical step in creating your blog is choosing a platform. WordPress is probably the most common, and it offers hundreds of plugins, add-ons, and design options for your blog.
Your next important decision will be whether or not to pay for hosting. While all three options mentioned above offer free plans, if you’re really serious about growing your blog, you’ll probably want the benefits of a paid account.
One of the most appealing perks is getting your own domain name. Whereas with a free account your web address will look something like “www.blogname.wordpress.com”, when you buy a domain name you’ll actually own your blog and can use the more simplified (and attractive) “www.blogname.com” URL format.
In addition, with most free plans you can’t fully monetize your blog, so decide if that’s something you want to pursue when considering your host options.
5. Choose a Blog Name
Choosing the right name for your blog is an art form. You’ll want something that captures the essence of your topic while still being short and simple enough for people to remember.
You’ll want to avoid confusing people or making them wonder what the heck your blog is about. They should get a pretty clear idea from your domain name.
Something catchy or creative always works, but you’ll mostly want to consider the tone and voice you want your blog to carry.
If you’re really having trouble, consider using your own name. Many bloggers have actually become quite successful with self-named blogs.
6. Study SEO
There’s a lot of stuff on the internet—some of it’s good, and some of it’s junk. Regardless, you’re probably going to face some stiff competition, which means you’ll have to work to get your site noticed.
This is where SEO comes in. If you’re completely unfamiliar with the concept, SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and it’s a process for increasing your site’s visibility and traffic.
One way of achieving this is through keyword research. By researching the frequency or popularity of certain search terms, you can help your posts to show up in top search results, thereby boosting your web traffic.
Before starting your blog, ask yourself if you have the time and energy to commit to this kind of work.
You’ll definitely learn a lot in the process, but if you aren’t passionate about your blog, this will be reflected in the results.
7. Consider Monetizing
Once you have enough readers, it might be possible to start turning a profit with your blog.
There are a number of ways to do this, from affiliate marketing and advertisements to even selling your own products and services.
If you want to monetize your blog, start thinking of a strategy early on. It’s probably going to take some time, but as your following grows, so will your profits.
8. Find A Community
Networking definitely matters in the world of blogging. Connecting with other writers and influencers is a great way to exchange ideas and learn new information.
Building connections will also open up more opportunities for promoting and monetizing your blog.
You might consider inviting guest bloggers, or occasionally writing for other blogs. It’s a great way to gain exposure.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog?
However, if you use a free platform, you won’t technically own your site. Instead, you can create a self-hosted WordPress blog.
In this case, your essential costs will include:
- A domain name (which you can get for around $10/year)
- Hosting (costs can vary greatly, but a basic web host can set you back about $50-$70/year.
Total Cost: $60-80/year
Then, of course, there are dozens of optional expenses that you may or may not be interested in, from premium WordPress themes, to email list providers and more.
If you haven’t started one yet, be sure to check out our guide on how to start a website, which includes the most important things you should consider before going live.
How Do Bloggers Get Paid?
There are several ways you can use your blog to make some extra income. However, don’t expect to get rich quick: if you’re serious about turning your blog into a business, it’s going to take time and lots of dedication.
That being said, here are your main ways you can make money blogging:
CPC or CPM Ads
Cost per Click (CPC) ads are banners that are placed in your site’s sidebar or within your content. Every time a reader clicks on that ad, you’ll get paid a small amount.
CPM ads, on the other hand, are ads that pay you a fixed amount based on how many people view the ad on your site.
With Google AdSense, Google chooses ads that are relevant to your site’s content, and you’ll never have to be in direct content with advertisers.
If your site starts to get large amounts of traffic, you might find advertisers approaching you to advertise on your site, or you can contact prospective advertisers yourself. In this way, you’ll be dealing directly with advertisers yourself.
With affiliate links, advertisers will give you links that are unique to certain products or services. That link tracks your affiliate code, and for every product that is sold using your unique link, you’ll receive a commission.
You can include affiliate links directly in your blog’s content, or in banner ads.
Advertising the products of others isn’t your only option for making money on your blog. You can also sell your own products or services, such as ebooks, apps, plugins, online courses, videos, and anything else you can think of that would be useful to your readers.
You can also sell memberships on your blog, such as exclusive access to forums, discussion boards, or exclusive video tutorials—as long as whatever it is is more valuable than what your readers can find for free elsewhere online.
Get Started with Your Blog
Successful blogging isn’t easy, but it is possible and it can certainly pay off in the long run.
Make sure you’re armed with the resources and tools you need to make the most of your efforts. But most importantly, have fun creating content that you’re proud of.
Do you have any tips for starting a blog? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
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