How to Start a Blog (2020): WordPress Blogging Tips from a Pro
Photo by Fikret tozak
Blogging is one of the best ways to express your thoughts and knowledge out to the world. Ever thought about sharing your life’s story? What about teaching people how to communicate better? Does your business have a product that you would like to teach consumers about? If you answered yes to any of these, starting a blog is the answer for you.
This step by step guide will teach you how to start a blog without making typical beginner mistakes. Save time, money, and energy with these tips from a professional blogger. You will learn from someone else’s mistakes so that you don’t have to make so many of your own. By the end of this guide, you will have all the knowledge you need to create a successful WordPress blog today.
Mistakes to avoid when starting a Blog
1. Where to get ideas to start a blog
Starting a blog can be very exciting. With that excitement comes many rookie mistakes. Many professional bloggers would love to go back in time and avoid some of their setbacks. One such blogger is Cathrin Manning of TheContentBug. She realizes that she had to make her mistakes to get to where she is today. Cathrin learned quite a bit from her mistakes and would do things very differently in 2020. Here is your opportunity to start a blog with successful tips from a professional who already did it.
One of the first mistakes many bloggers make is trying to get their “where to start” ideas from Pinterest. Even though they have some good tips, it is hard to decipher which posts have useful information. Most of the posts have catchy titles like “How to Start a Blog in 15 Minutes” or “How to Make Money Blogging in a Month”.
From a marketing standpoint that is great, but it is not what you need as a beginner. You need a complete process from a successful blogger’s point of view, not generic tips. Here at Dilemmas, we are all about providing a better way to find what you need. We will go through a step by step process, allowing you to start a blog the right way from the start.
The biggest hurdle most people face when starting a blog or any other business is their own procrastination. Don’t fall victim to this disease. The best way to avoid procrastination is to start right now. Take an action toward your blog that is outside of your mind. If you want to be successful, you need to create a habit of keeping promises to yourself. You can do this by actually choosing a blogging site today.
3. Don’t start with a free blog
There are many blogs that recommend you get started with a free or low-cost website such as Wix. We will be the first one to tell you that it isn’t a good idea. Sure, you might get a website up fast and very cheap, but that is only good in the short term. Once you start getting more visitors and avid readers to your blog, you will need to switch to a better platform.
Switching platforms can be a big headache. It could cause you to lose your traffic at a time you should be focusing on growth. It is much better to spend some money upfront and get started with a better platform. Pro bloggers like Cathrin recommend that you do NOT start with a free plan or low-cost plan.
The better platforms are not expensive, so you might as well start on the right foot. Besides all the time you will save not transferring your content to another platform later, you will get many SEO benefits as well. This will allow you to rank your blog higher and to get traffic a lot faster. You don’t want your backlinks and other SEO tactics going to waste, so do NOT start with a free platform.
4. Start with the best blogging platform
Choosing which blogging platform to start with can be quite confusing for a beginner. There are tons to choose from, but Cathrin and other pro bloggers recommend WordPress. WordPress provides bloggers with the customization options and flexibility needed to scale. Other platforms seem easy at first, but later you learn of their limitations.
With WordPress, you have the freedom to do whatever you want with your blog. And when you combine the power of WordPress with a good theme, the SEO benefits are unrivaled. For this reason, the most visited websites in the world use it as their platform of choice.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It allows you to rank higher on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you can make your website rank high on any of these platforms, then you will get more traffic for free. The best way to rank high on SEO is to avoid using blogging platforms that are hard for the web crawlers to read.
Many people try to start their blogs off on the cheap but usually end up coming to WordPress. You can avoid this mistake and save time by choosing the best blogging platform from the start. Read What is WordPress to learn more about WordPress and its benefits.
Now that you know the mistakes to avoid, let’s go over the 7 steps of how to start a blog.
How to start a blog in 8 steps
Step 1: Choose a domain name for your blog
When picking a domain name for your blog, it is better to select a name with intent. Think about the type and the quality of information you’re going to provide to readers. Imagine you are looking to make an authoritative site about the best blogging tips. You look up the domain options with the term “best tips” and see it’s available so you buy it. You will likely regret that decision.
If you enter “best tips” on Google, you will find that most of the results are about sports betting. This will not serve the intent of your blog. A better option is to choose a name that includes a niche term like “blogging expert”. You could also choose a more general term such as “expert tips” since its searches cover many topics.
Make sure your name matches the content you are blogging about. So if you are providing your audience with factual knowledge, pick a name that is professional and exudes confidence. One way to find a name is to use a name generator. Write down 10 to 20 possibilities.
Just remember the name is the identity of your blog and it tells readers how to interact with your site. There is no right or wrong way of choosing a domain name, but you must select a name that resonates with your blog. Don’t overthink this process. Think about a name that you will feel great about in the future and will match your blogging tone.
Step 2: Select the Best Web Hosting Service
To make your website accessible to everyone on the Internet, you need a web hosting service. There are several hosting companies out there, but our job is to help you choose the best ones to start your blog.
The best web hosting services are Hostgator, WP Engine, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and SiteGround. Any of these can do the job of storing your website files on servers that connect your blog to the internet. However, they all have unique features that may be a better fit based on the size and needs of your blog. To make things simple, we will compare the pricing and features of each of these web hosting services.
We always recommend choosing a plan that includes “unlimited websites”. It gives you the flexibility you need to add and change websites without starting all over.
- Hostgator: One of the cheaper shared hosting options and comes with many options. This company was founded back in 2002 and has upwards of 1,000 employees. The most affordable plan starts at $2.75 a month and goes all the way up to $5.95 a month. You can go with the Baby plan to get started, as it comes with a one-click WordPress install, and it also provides you with a free domain.
- The downside is their customer service. Very long wait times. Also, some limitations if you have a bigger website with lots of files.
- Wp Engine: A newer company that was started in 2013, but it’s proliferating. It already has more than 700 employees and does over $100M a year in revenue, which means many people trust this hosting company. The hosting is more expensive than the other options, starting at $25 a month, going all the way up to $241 a month. This is because it is a WordPress Managed hosting solution. This means you don’t have to worry about any of the technical headaches that come with managing everything yourself.
- The $25 a month will allow you to have 25,000 visitors a month, whereas the $241 a month option will allow you to have 400,000 visitors a month. Most hosting platforms allow for unlimited visitors. So if you are just getting started, we recommend you pick a different hosting. This option is really for established businesses that are ready to scale with a team of WordPress experts on their side.
- Bluehost: Started in 2003, this hosting company has around 750 employees. There is a high chance that you have heard of Bluehost since many people promote this platform. Bluehost used to be one of the best web hosting services around. You can start with the basic plan, which is $2.95 a month or get the most expensive plan, which is $13.75 a month. With the basic plan, you get a free domain, and with the expensive plan, you get unlimited domains. Installing WordPress on Bluehost is very easy, as it will guide you through the process. We recommend the basic plan, as it provides you with many features.
- The company was hacked in 2018 and it impacted many people’s websites. Since the hack, some bloggers have moved to other web hosting services.
- GoDaddy: This hosting service is another good and affordable option. GoDaddy was founded in 1997 and has around 5,990 employees. Many bloggers that have used other hosting platforms say GoDaddy has some of the best customer services around. This makes sense since they are doing over 2 billion dollars in yearly revenue. The pricing starts at $4.99 a month for the basic plan, and it goes all the up to $12.99 a month. With both plans, you get a free domain.
- Professional blogger Cathrin started with Bluehost but has changed her blog to GoDaddy. She now recommends them.
- SiteGround: Founded in 2004, it is considered to be a small company with only 500 employees but it is our favorite! The plans for SiteGround start at $3.95 a month and go up to $11.95 a month. Similar to WP Engine, you have a limit to the visitors your website can take. With the basic plan, you can host about 10,000 monthly visitors, and with the most advanced plan, you can host 100,000 monthly visitors. But the good news is, you get free WordPress updates.
- We recommend their Grow Big plan. Their customer service is outstanding and it comes with features like staging and on-demand backups. These features are not available on most of the other web hosting services. Many pro bloggers have moved their sites to SiteGround after starting with other companies. You can start a blog just like the pros with SiteGround.
Step 3: Buy a Domain Name for your Blog
Depending on the web hosting service you choose, there is an option to buy a domain name. If not, I recommend buying your domain name from GoDaddy. In fact, we buy all our domains there because of the extra privacy and security features offered. Having a good domain name is very important, as it helps readers find your blog easier.
This site’s domain name is www.dilemmas.co. Other examples of domain names are www.microsoft.com and www.wordpress.org. So if you followed the first step, you should already have a list of 10-20 possible names for your blog. Enter these into the domain search and see if your favorite is available.
Try for a “.com” first, if it is not available try a “.co” or another option. Just know that the other options are a lot more expensive after the 1st year and not as easy to remember as a “.com” domain name.
Step 4: Install WordPress (Content Management System)
Earlier we explained that WordPress is the best blogging platform. For this reason, your content management system (CMS) should be wordpress.org. Read “What is WordPress” for a deeper dive into everything WordPress. Just know that WordPress is the best option for blogging if you want traffic from search engines.
Now that you have web hosting, you need to connect WordPress. Connecting them is very easy and doesn’t require a lot of effort from your end. In most cases, the hosting platform will guide you through the process step by step.
WordPress will be in the CMS & Site builder section of your hosting provider’s website. Most of the providers we recommended have a one-click install option for WordPress. You can view step-by-step video instructions on how to install WordPress by skipping to the 10:34 mark.
Step 5: Choose a Blog Design
Having an excellent design for your blog is crucial to the success of a blog. In the video, one of Cathrin’s pro blogging tips is to hire a website designer. The main reason is that she made so many mistakes and wasted so much time trying to figure out how to design her blog. But you do not have to make those mistakes, nor do you need to hire a professional web designer.
A high-quality theme is professionally designed to not only look great but also for SEO. Their designs offer great performance, speed, and functionality to increase your blog’s traffic. Many beginners design blogs based on an idea in their heads. But these designs will hinder your goals because you are a blogger, not a web designer. Let the professionals focus on the designing and you focus on the content.
You can do this by getting a WordPress theme that matches your blog’s niche. There are many themes you can pick from, you can start with a paid theme, or you can use free themes. We recommend paid themes since you can get one for less than $100. Here is an example of a premium theme from a quality company. It will provide your blog with a professional look and blazing fast loading speeds for SEO.
Step 6: Find your Why
If you really want to know how to start a blog, you better find your “WHY”. In fact, the author Simon Sinek wrote a great book entitled “Start with Why” for leaders, it is a must-read. It is your reason for deciding to start a blog in the first place and it will be the driving force behind your success. Maybe you think you know what type of content you want to make for your readers, but do you know why?
For instance, let’s assume you are looking to start a blog that is going to be the go-to blog for fitness enthusiasts. You will need to figure out why you are making a blog about fitness. Is it to help people lose weight? Is it to gain notoriety as a thought leader in the fitness world?
Or is it because you have helped a few friends become healthier, it felt good, and now want to do the same for blog readers? You must understand your mission and why you are blogging, only then will you be able to add value to your readers.
Step 7: Choose a Blogging Content Strategy
You can’t add value to your readers if you are not creating good content. If you are going to avoid novice mistakes, you need to know what types of content you will be blogging about. After you figure out your “why”, think about the type of content needed to achieve that goal. You can also study other blogs that are similar to yours and figure out how they are writing their content. There is nothing wrong with modeling success.
Look at their content and then create your own unique version. Study their keywords, SEO techniques, target audience, and blog titles/headlines. Do plenty of research to figure out what type of content you need to start a blog as successful as possible. The time you spend on this strategy will be invaluable later.
It is better to take the time to write one high-quality piece of content a week than seven low-quality posts a week. Blogging is not about quantity; it’s about quality. This is how you start a blog with content that matters to your readers.
Step 8: Make a Content Calendar
If you want to be successful as a blogger, then you need to have a content calendar. It is a blogging process used by the pros and will make your life as a blogger much easier. A content calendar helps you to stay organized with your postings. You can’t expect to write blogs out of thin air and hope they do well.
Blogging takes research to find topics that are trending by your audience. To do that, you need to plan out each blog topic and when you’re going to publish that content on a weekly or a monthly basis. The content calendar provides a level of accountability you need when blogging. Since there is no one there to force you to write regularly, it is easy to make all other tasks in your life urgent. And your blogging falls to the wayside as something important but not urgent.
For this reason, many pro bloggers plan out their postings a month out, make sure you do the same. If you want to make things easy for yourself, you can plan it out weekly. Whatever you do, make sure to take your time and create a content calendar you can stick with.
Be realistic and keep the promises you make to yourself. If you say you are going to write a piece of content every Tuesday, make sure you do it. Don’t make excuses. Write out the titles of the next 4 blog posts on your content calendar and start blogging on those dates!
4 Pro Blogging Tips for a Better Start
You now have most of the information you need on how to start a blog. But we don’t want you to have most, we want you to finish reading this and have everything you need to get started today. We will achieve this by finishing with bonus tips from professional blogger Cathrin. She has 4 bonus tips that she wishes someone had told her before she started her blog, TheContentBug. Use these blogging tips from your virtual mentor and start like a pro.
– Pro Blogging Tip 1: Find your Unique Voice
There are lots of people writing blogs related to your topic, and the way to stand out is to have your own voice. Make sure to put a different spin on your blogging and that you are as genuine as possible. It’s fine to follow trends to get more traffic, but make sure to add your own unique touch.
Readers online are very savvy these days. They can notice the difference between when someone is being real or fake. Whenever you start a blog post, make sure to be original and write in your voice. Don’t overthink it; write the way you would like to write and not try to be someone else you are not. This will allow you to get more readers and build fans based on your personality and uniqueness.
Finding your voice starts with liking who you are. Be confident and find out what others like about you, even if you never valued it yourself. There are billions of people in this world, but there is only one you.
– Pro Blogging Tip 2: Define your Target Audience
When you write a blog post, think about who you are writing it for. For example, if you are writing about health and fitness, then people who want to get in shape will read your blog. But, if you are blogging about bodybuilding, then young men who are 18 to 25 will read your blog.
Many people think only think about their target audience in relation to demographics. This is only partly correct. To truly define your target audience, you need to think of one person. And that is the specific person who would benefit most from your content. Think about someone you know that needs this information, then write it for her. She is your target audience and you can define your target demographics around her.
When Tim Ferriss wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, he wrote it with only 1 or 2 people in mind. He didn’t make it for everyone, he thought of a specific person and gave her the advice she needed. This is why it has been one of the best selling self-help books for over 10 years. Write a blog post to that one person who would love to read your content, and you have found your target audience.
– Pro Blogging Tip 3: Be Consistent
Being consistent with your blogging is essential to starting a successful blog. There will come a time when you start getting unmotivated and things are not going your way. Consistency will be your savior during these times. If you want to be successful, then you will have to fail a couple of times before you get to your end goal. Even when the tough gets going, make sure to stay consistent, and you can still achieve your goals.
The key to being consistent is having and using a content calendar. Make sure you plan out your week or month and try and post at least two to three times a week. Keep your schedule manageable; don’t try to do things you can’t.
Look, the odds of getting millions of visitors to your blog in the first 2 months is unlikely. If you want to be successful with blogging, you will have to be in it for the long haul. Write your best blog posts and give it 100% effort every day. It takes patience but it will increase your odds of not giving up before you make it to the finish line. So keep blogging until you know how to serve your audience so well that they keep coming back for more.
– Pro Blogging Tip 4: Never Give Up
And Cathrin’s final blogging tip is to never ever give up. It’s related to being consistent, but with an extra kick. Consistency is like drinking an energy drink to stay awake during a long road trip. But not giving up, is like actually doing the drive while you are awake and energized. It’s not pulling over to a rest stop then turning back home. Not giving up is what helps you actually finish the trip and see your plan out.
One of the worst things you can do is give up, it is what the masses do and you are not them. So make sure you stay consistent and keep working on your goals until you get them. Don’t let setbacks discourage you, they happen. Things will not go perfectly, so don’t expect them to. But if you are moving forward every day, you will eventually get to your goals. It may not happen the way you originally pictured it and that is ok. Always stay positive and don’t let anything discourage you.
The fact that you read through all this information on how to start a blog says a lot about you. You are different than the majority of people that say they are going to start something but never do. This guide detailed tips on what to avoid on your journey to successful blogging. As well as a better way to get started. Tips such as the best services to use, ideas to consider, and how to overcome obstacles will help you win the race.
Blogging is one of the best ways to reach people online. Put these tips to use and you will see the benefits of using the wisdom of those that have gone before you. Make sure you don’t waste any more time and start a blog on WordPress today! You have the tools to get started, but using them is in your hands.
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