This guide is the perfect start for beginners and people new to the world of blogging. This guide will teach you in 11 easy steps how to start a blog, purchase and set up your web hosting and by the end of it, you will have a blog on the Internet up and running and will be ready to start earning a profit! Scroll down to finally start your entrepreneurial journey and earn passive income ($2000+ /month) online!
1. My Personal Blogging Story
Hey, welcome to my step-by-step start a blog guide! My name is Osman and I am the founder of CodeofLiving.com! I started my blogging entrepreneurial journey 8 years ago back in 2010 when I was in high school. Back then to me, the Internet was this huge amazing place (it still is!) and like a kid in a candy store I only made my first website “CodeofLiving.com” because I wanted to get a taste of what it felt to be “online.” I still remember asking my Mom to let me use her credit card so I could buy a domain name and some low-cost web hosting I didn’t have any technical know-how or any of experience writing professionally (I was in grade 10!). But I did have a strong curiosity and a desire to follow through on my plan to become the next being thing online (That’s what I told my mom 😉 ).
But guess what happened next? I drew a blank. Almost instantly after the payment went through on my Mom’s credit card. I had a “what have I gotten myself into…” moment. I hit me that I had absolutely NO IDEA how to make a website let alone blog (I didn’t even know what the definition of blogging was back then!). The next 8 months or so were grueling. I worked on my website day and night, experimenting, learning, making adjustments and it was terrible. Back then the learning curve for blogging was very high. Creating a website was a lot more technical and there were a lot fewer resources (or guides like this 😉 ) available online. Nowadays you can set up a blog in 20 minutes with BlueHost but in 2010 when I started it took me almost 6 MONTHS to have a basic website online.
For example, this is was what Codeofliving.com looked like after 6 months. Yes, it’s pretty ugly I know! But I still feel a sense of achievement looking at this:
But long story short looking back at everything it was well worth it. Sure it was tough. Sure I hated the technical bell curve (Thank god for Bluehost web hosting one-click installs). But this struggle got me to where I am now. “2020 Me” is a professional blogger. I have a thriving online business. I make passive online income in the thousands from the comfort of my home office. I’m my boss. And best of all blogging has given me the freedom to travel and experience things a person trapped in the 9 to 5 could never enjoy!
But that’s enough about me. I wanted to share this story to highlight the fact that anyone can become a professional blogger and start earning passive income online. This income below is from one of my “SMALLER” niche blogs. There were times I wouldn’t even visit this blog for 3-4 months at a time but it would continue to churn traffic and earn passive income. Trust me It feels pretty great when you go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning a little bit richer!
So with said, I wanted to share this story to highlight the fact that anyone can become a professional blogger and that no matter where you are in life you can start earning passive income online. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or how much technical background you have or if you type very slowly. If you have a computer and an Internet connection you have the tools to transform your life. I hope you take on this challenge and continue to read below how to start a blog you can live of off :)!
This guide is the perfect start for beginners with no technical know-how and people new to the world of blogging. This guide will walk you step-by-step on how to start a blog and by the end of it, you will have a successful blog on the Internet up and running!
Scroll down to finally start your entrepreneurial journey, start a blog, and earn profit and passive income ($1500+ /month) online!
2. Decide Why You Want To Start A Blog
More than anyone else you need to answer this question for yourself. 🙂 Why do you want to start a blog? Ideas become goals. goals become actions, actions become habits and habits if done right lead to success. If your foundation is not strong you can’t expect real success. I’ve seen many bloggers start blogging for the wrong reasons. What is the real reason why you want to blog? Is it the money? Do you simply enjoy writing? Is it for your resume?
Blogging is a marathon. If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme this isn’t for you. Just like any other business, becoming a successful blogger online requires a long and tough entrepreneurial journey. There will be and ups and downs and a lot of times when you will want to give up. This is where your reason for starting becomes so important. Get in the mindset that you are in it for the long haul. With that out of the way, it’s time to decide on a topic for your new blog.
3. Choose A Topic/Niche For Your Blog
WHY YOU SHOULD FOCUS ON A NICHE – I’m sure you have heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”. In business, if you try to do a lot of different things at once, you will become “average” at a lot of things but will never become an expert at any of them. Unfortunately for all of you who have diverse tastes, in business customers look for companies that 1. provide exceptional value and 2. are the best in comparison to the competition. You can never be the best at something or be considered an expert in a field if you dabble in a lot of different categories.
This same concept applies to your blog. The Internet is so vast with so much information readily available that if you simply start a blog about “everything”, you will never build a successful high traffic blog. Readers on the web look for expertise. There are millions of wikiHow type websites on the web that provide average summary-type information on a lot of different topics but only a handful of websites that dive into particular topics and niches. These niches are where you can make money and find online blogging success. So don’t be greedy! Instead of trying to eat the whole Internet pie focus on a particular sliver and become the absolute best in it. Make it known to the world that, that particular sliver of user traffic and money is yours and yours alone. Become the undisputed expert in that particular category, dominate, and start enjoying the money that starts rolling!
DECIDING ON A PARTICULAR NICHE – Now this is the hard part. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers fail because they chose a blog niche that was either not a good fit or that it didn’t have a lot of growth potential. I know it can seem a bit overwhelming to choose only one topic for your blog but if you follow these three rules you will be okay:
Rule #1 – Be Interested In the Blog Niche (Some Passion)
You can Google “How to pick a blog niche” and you will get thousands of posts about how you need to be passionate about the topic you choose. I feel this advice is a bit outdated. You simply need interest. Passion is a strong word and I know a lot of successful bloggers who didn’t dream, sleep and eat their particular expertise when they started. So keep this as the minimum standard. You must somewhat enjoy the topic. For example, if you have zero interest in golfing don’t start a blog about it!
Rule #2 -Make Sure Enough People Care About Your Blog Niche
Your blog is an “online business” and the number one thing a business must have is the potential for growth. If your niche is something people will not care about in one month, one year or even 5 years, you should look for something else to start your blog about. For example, making your blog about the “London 2012 Summer Olympics” is probably not a great idea. Simply looking at the graph below shows that interest in the 2010 Olympic games peaked in 2012 and have been at almost 0 since then. I highly recommend you do this for your chosen niche as well on Google Trends to get an idea about the public interest in your topic. Google trends is a free tool by Google that shows you how many people are searching for a particular topic.
Rule #3 -Make Sure You Can “Sell Something” In your Niche
Your blog is your online “business”. If you can’t sell something in your niche category you have a big problem. I have seen a lot of entrepreneurs start a blog about an unusual topic and find out 6 months down the line that there are no viable income streams for that particular niche. Now sure every blog or website can put Adsense or Amazon links on their blog to get some PPC (pay-per-click) income. But to have a real consistent income stream you have to either sell your product or make commission being an affiliate for someone else’s product. If your chosen niche doesn’t have room for either of those two things, no matter how small, I would recommend you choose something else.
4. Decide On A Domain Name For Your Blog
DOMAIN NAME (BLOG NAME) – Your business/blog name is EVERYTHING. Your blog name is your brand and it is what will define your blog for the life of your online business. So take some time to brainstorm a good blog name instead of jumping in with two feet. It gets much, much harder to change your blog name in the future and you don’t want to be stuck with a heat of the moment domain name like ZebraToffee.com (edit: haha reading this again this is not that bad 🙂 ) in 5 years when your blog niche is about custom furniture.
A good tool I like using when I want to start a blog and am brainstorming new blog names is Shopify’s Business Name Generator. Sure their goal is to funnel you towards buying a Shopify page but that doesn’t mean it’s still not beneficial ;). You can simply enter two words related to your topic and it will generate thousands of available domain names. Once you like the one you like, write it down (NOTE: Try to stick with .com domain names. They are the most common and are the easiest to remember for your readers). We will use this domain name in step 5 when we set up your web hosting. You can get a free domain from BlueHost when you purchase your web hosting from them!
BRANDING (LOGO DESIGN) – Once you have decided on the name of your blog, your logo is the next most important thing. Think about Nike or Apple. As soon as I mention the company name you can visualize the logo and vice versa. If done right your blog name and blog logo should have a similar effect. Now I know many of you are probably saying “I’m not a graphic designer, I can’t make a logo!” Trust me I was once in the same boat. I made my first logo in MS Paint! It was terrible but it was important in the beginning to make branding for my blog no matter how ugly to begin growing authenticity.
Don’t worry you’ll have opportunities to improve your logo in the future. Plus the tools available today are much better than MS Paint 🙂 I recommend Logomakr.com. They have a great easy-to-use interface which is great for beginners plus its basic version is FREE to use (but it’s more than enough for basic logo design). Here is a quick logo I dished up on LogoMakr for the ZebraToffee.com example I gave above.
5. Purchase Web-Hosting + Start A Blog
When I started blogging this step of getting a functional blog on the Internet took me 6 months! Just thinking about having this virtual website on the Internet used to boggle my mind. Thankfully for you, things have gotten a lot better. Modern-day web-hosting providers handle the majority of the grunt work themselves and getting a bare-bone website live on the Internet has become as easy as clicking your mouse.
There are a whole bunch of options out there when looking for a web host but I prefer BlueHost. Their unique “one-click install” feature makes it extremely easy for beginners to get their website running on an easy-to-use, fast, stable server almost instantly. Follow the following steps to finally get your blog live on the Internet (I’m so excited for you! Looking back 7 years ago this moment was where my life changed!)
Note: while I only recommend services that provide real value to you I need to disclose that I will receive a small compensation if you purchase web hosting from BlueHost. This helps us to write more quality content like this article and help thousands of readers worldwide! 🙂
There are many alternatives available online and I strongly encourage you to explore them. But I still do feel that BlueHost gives you the most bang for your buck and is one of the best options for new bloggers, especially considering the have a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you start a blog but feel you might not be able to commit the time required to transform it into a business, BlueHost lets you back out very easily.
So Let’s get your Web Hosting Setup: Click Here To Navigate to BlueHost!
If you decide to go with Bluehost as your domain and web hosting provider, installing WordPress is very simple. In fact, Bluehost has created a simple video to show you exactly how to do it:
6. Customize & Design Your Blog
Now comes the fun part! WordPress makes it extremely easy to get your blog looking exactly like how you want it. Instead of writing thousands of lines of code like in the old days, WordPress lets you install “themes” which you can then customize and tweak to get the appearance you’re looking for. You can think of themes as templates on which you can start building the design of your blog.
There are thousands of 100% free WordPress themes that are available directly from within WordPress itself. They are perfect for beginners and give you a good taste of what premium themes from professional theme studios like StudioPress look like. While free themes are always a good starting point for new bloggers. I always recommend that as your blog grows you migrate to a professional premium theme. Not just do premium themes make your blog look more authoritative but they also help to get you more traffic as they are better optimized for search engines and social media in comparison to free themes.
I prefer StudioPress for premium themes, you can learn more about them here:
With that said these steps will walk you through step-by-step how to install a FREE theme on your new WordPress Blog directly from your blog backend admin page.
Step 1: Click “Appearance” on the right admin bar
Step 2: Click “Add New” to navigate to the WordPress theme search page!
Step 3: Use the theme explorer to find a theme you like!
You can either sort by Popular, Featured, and Latest or simply use the search bar to look for keywords.
NOTE: I recommend you use the feature filter to precisely find what you’re looking for.
Step 4: Install the Theme
Hover over the theme you like and press “Install” to download the theme to your website server followed by “Activate” to make the theme active on your blog. After this, the “Customize” option will become available to fine-tune your theme.
Step 5: Welcome to the WordPress Theme Customizer
Here you can preview your changes in real-time as you make them using the left settings menu.
Step 6: Drill down into each section to customize the theme to your liking
Here in this image, I clicked “Header Image” and it opened the Header Image submenu allowing me to change the top image on the top of the blog.
7. Enable Google Analytics On Your Blog
Now that you are a professional webmaster it’s important you also have access to professional tools for webmasters! If you start a blog but have no way to track how much traffic you are getting, it’s the equivalent of running a brick and mortar business but deciding not to do any bookkeeping.
Google Analytics is a tracking tool that you can use to see how many users visit your blog. You can view live real-time stats and see how many users are on your blog at any moment in time. While it can be fun to simply look at stats for fun the main function they serve is to tell you where you can improve your blog. Vital statistics like time on site and bounce rate can be very important in optimizing your blog and improving your sales.
Follow these steps to get Google Analytics running on your new blog:
Step 1: Navigate to the Google Analytics Homepage
Step 2: Go to “ADMIN” and add a new account
Fill in all of the required information for your blog and press submit. After submitting you will be given a UA code. Note this code down you will need in it the next steps.
Step 3: After setting up your Google Analytics profile navigate back to your blog admin dashboard
Step 4: Navigate to the Google Analytics Homepage
8. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) + Increase Traffic To Your Blog
What is “Organic Traffic”
Organic traffic (traffic which comes from search engines) is the best type of traffic for your blog. I like to compare organic traffic to “rainwater.” Sure as a farmer you can pump water on your crop but it is a lot cheaper and a lot easier if it simply rains and the water gets into every nook and cranny on its own. Organic traffic is first and foremost FREE traffic. It requires little to no effort on your part to maintain (if you have good content and an optimized blog) and it is consistent. Another bonus of organizing traffic is that it is targeted traffic because search engine algorithms serve results based on precise search queries users make.
Google is the number one site in the world in terms of traffic and it is the world’s largest search engine. If you start a blog and can rank well on Google (be in the top 3 spots on the search results page for a few popular search queries) you can get A LOT of daily traffic to your blog. This process of optimizing your blog to rank well on Google is called SEO or “Search Engine Optimization.” There are lots of techniques out there and there is a whole industry that is built around SEO but honestly do not get too worked up about it. In 2020 search algorithms have gotten a lot smarter compared to say 2007, where simply getting your website link on DMOZ (an online website directory) meant you would rank well on Google.
Set-up Google Search Console
With that said it’s also important that you track and monitor how your blog is behaving and is perceived by search engines. All of the major search engines have made online portals where website owners (webmasters) can check how their blog or website is ranking in SERPs (Search engine result pages) as well as help these search engines crawl their blog or website better. With Google’s online suite being the most popular, I’m going to focus on Google’s “Search Console”.
Google Search Console
Google search console is a tool to view the health of your blog on Google. What I mean by health is how good Google thinks your blog is. In the search console, you can see how many of your pages and posts have been indexed by Google and have been included in Google Search. You can see which search queries your blog ranks for and at what position. You can see crawl stats and more importantly you can see any errors Google finds on your blog. These errors could be broken links or content which is blocked and isn’t crawlable by Google. It is pretty self-explanatory to setup. Simply navigate to SEARCH CONSOLE HOME and follow the on-screen instructions to add your blog!
(TIP: when you get the “verify your website step in Search Console. Instead of doing it manually you can easily verify using Yoast SEO. Explained further below 🙂 )
Set-up The Basic SEO Fundamentals On Your Blog
Your website’s technical health (page speed, usability, security, etc.) plus your on-page content optimization (headings, meta information, etc.) are also very important triggers that Search Engine Algorithms look for when deciding the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking for your blog. Purchasing a good web host for your blog along with installing a good caching WordPress plugin like ‘WP Super Cache’ and a good WordPress security plugin like ‘Wordfence’ takes care of most of the technical side.
But for the on-page content optimization I recommend the following two things to new bloggers:
1. Set-up Clean URLs (Permalinks)
First, you need to activate clean URLs. This will change your blog URLs from www.your-blog.com/?p+123 to something like www.your-blog.com/your-post-name. Search engines like “readable” text in URLs plus this will make your website easier to navigate to users. Follow the instructions below to set up clean URLs:
Step 1: Hover over WordPress Settings and Click “Permalinks”
Step 2: Choose a URL pattern style
I prefer “Post name” or a Custom Structure “/%category%/%postname%/” if you use a lot of categories.
2. Set-Up Yoast SEO
After cleaning your URLs the second thing you need to do is to activate an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO does a great job to automate the entire on-page SEO process. It takes 5 minutes to get everything ready at the start but after that, you can more or less set it and forget it. Follow the instructions below to set up Yoast SEO:
Step 1: Go to “Add New” Plugins on your WordPress Dashboard and search for “Yoast SEO”
Press Install and then activate to get Yoast SEO running on your blog.
Step 2: The Yoast SEO plugin activates
After which a new “SEO” option will become visible on your WordPress admin sidebar. Hover over SEO and click on “Dashboard”.
Step 3: You will now be navigated to the Yoast SEO settings
From here on top click the “General” tab and then click on the “Open the configuration wizard” button.
Step 4: Welcome to the Yoast SEO installation wizard!
The plugin makes it very easy to get your site optimized. You can optionally sign up for their newsletter but press “Next” to start.
Step 5: Choose which environment you are installing Yoast in
If you followed the above steps and are set up on BlueHost the answer is “Production”.
Step 6: Choose your website type
Step 7: Select whether your blog represents a person or a company and enter its name
Step 8: Enter your social profile information
Step 9: Here you can select which posts you want to hide from Google (if any in the first place)
Usually, Yoast’s default settings are fine. Make sure you don’t accidentally hide Posts or Pages.
Step 10: Select whether your blog will have multiple authors or only a single author
Step 11: This is where you can verify your website with Google Search Console
If you haven’t done so already manually, this is pretty self-explanatory. Click the button to request an authorization code and you will be asked to log in. Copy the code it serves after verifying and paste it into the text area in the Yoast wizard. Press “Authenticate” and voila your blog is verified! Make sure to now complete the verification step in Search Console.
Step 12: Name your blog and select a title separator for the posts on your blog
This title will show up in Google Search results and Browser tabs. Ex. If your post title is “100 Awesome Cake Recipes” and your blog name Zebra Toffee; choosing “|” would make your title “100 Awesome Cake Recipes | Zebra Toffee”
Step 13: That’s it! You’re DONE setting up Yoast SEO!
9. Write Amazing Content For Your Blog
Content is king and if you have great content, search engines nowadays are smart enough to recognize it and serve it to their users. Remember search engines are also businesses and they make their money by serving the HIGHEST quality content to users based on their search queries. So make your content stand out! Put a personal spin on your writing and provide more value than all your competitors combined (Fulfill a Real need!).
In 2020 the two tips I can give you about blog content are:
1. Focus on longer posts (2000 words +)
Research shows that longer, detailed posts rank better in search engines and have higher social shareability. They also make you come across as more of an expert compared to a competitor who might write about the same topic in 4 skimpy posts of 500 words.
2. Write consistently
Every day sit down and write something, 100, words, 200 words or even 10,000 words you must get in the habit of regularly creating content. In a world with hundreds of million websites, the thing that separates the successful ones from the failures is the ability to provide fresh, new content to users (Search engine algorithms also take this into account & a blog creating regular new content will rank better than if you start a blog which has gone stale with no updates in 8 years)
10. Establish An Online Social Presence For Your Blog
I remember when I got started as a blogger, social media was treated more or less like a fad in webmaster circles. Sure Facebook and other social networks had begun generating a lot of user traffic but back then nobody really took them seriously let alone totally understood their power and reach. For you starting blogging today in 2020.
I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of social media. Everyone starting from your readers to subscribers, to potential customers. to marketers, all the way up to search engines use social “signals” nowadays to determine the quality of your blog. So much so I feel if a company or blog doesn’t exist on any social media site in today’s competitive digital market, it’s like they don’t exist at all.
So go and make an account on every major Social Network in your companies name. Try to keep the nomenclature and logos consistent across all of your various social media accounts so that you can start building brand awareness. For example, if your profile picture on Twitter is a “Zebra eating a carrot” make sure your Facebook account is also a “Zebra eating a carrot” and so forth 😉
I also suggest you link your blog and your social media accounts together with reciprocal links. So for example on Twitter, put your blog URL in the website section of your profile page, and then on your blog have a section where readers can click and navigate directly to your Twitter Page. I encourage you to do this for all of your blogs social media accounts.
11. Be Consistent In Writing
This is the final step of the guide & is the most important.
You can do every single one of the above steps perfectly but if you are not persistent and don’t give your blog a consistent effort you will NEVER be successful. I have seen so many bloggers crash and burn because they lost their motivation and weren’t persistent enough. All of them started their entrepreneurial journey like absolute rock stars, wth great blog design, great content and great SEO. But three months down the line when their blogs weren’t getting the million visitors a month or the $500 a day income, they dreamed about, they gave up!
Making money from blogging is NOT a get rich scheme If you start a blog don’t just expect the thousands to start pouring in. You have to plan for many sleepless nights, working 60 hours a week and giving your everything to your blog. It is only then that you will have a blogging “breakthrough” as I like to call it where you will see the consistent traffic start trickling in.
If you keep working and keep grinding, with a little help from God, this trickle will transform into and a stream and eventually a full-blown river of traffic. This is why I challenge you to keep at it for at least one year. Sure you might make some mistakes along the way. You might choose a low traffic blog niche or accidentally make some bad SEO mistakes which hurt your SERP ranking (I have made both of these!), but if you’re truly honest with yourself and keep an open mind for one entire year. You WILL see results.
With that said I wish you all the best on your blogging journey!