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How to Start a Blog in Five Steps:
- Choose your blogging platform and domain.
- Design your blog using a simple theme.
- Modify your blog to define your style.
- Select the best plugins for your blog.
- Write compelling content, start blogging.
So you’re thinking about starting a blog, but you don’t have any idea where to start, right? Guess what—neither did us. We were clueless. When we created this blog a few years ago, we had no idea how to start a blog or how to be a blogger. Heck, we could hardly spell HTML, let alone build a blog.
But good news: it’s easier than you think. We’ve learned a ton of lessons during our ascent to reaching over 20 million people. And now you can learn from our pain and suffering to circumvent much of the tedium involved in setting up a blog.
Here’s how we started our blog, step by step, followed by an instructional video, as well as additional rationale and insights:
Choose your blogging platform and domain. The first thing we did when starting our blog was goes to Bluehost and registers our domain. We didn’t even need to set up WordPress or Get best WordPress Hosting Services WP-Engine, which is the platform we use, since Bluehost does all that for you. Bluehost’s basic price is $2.75 a month, which works for 99% of people (go to this link to receive a 50% discount off the monthly price and a free domain). Then, we did a simple, free, “one-click” install of WordPress through Bluehost. When we had questions we were able to chat with the “live chat” folks at Bluehost for free. They pointed us in the right direction and made starting our own blog super easy.
Design your blog using a simple theme. A good theme gives you the look and feel you want for your blog, allowing you to make a blog that looks exactly how you want it to look. If you’re not a coder (we certainly weren’t), then a theme makes the design work a million times easier. Plus, once you purchase a theme, which are inexpensive for the time they save you, you own it for life. The Minimalists uses the beautiful “true” theme by SPYR, which is available at BYLT. Head on over to BYLT, browse their collection of themes, and find the design that’s right for you.
Modify your blog to define your style. Once we had our domain, blog hosting, WordPress or Get best WordPress Hosting Services WP-Engine , and theme, we spent a lot of time tweaking the theme to get the look and feel we wanted (i.e., making our vision a reality). Then we spent even more time tinkering with the theme and arguing about it and tweaking it some more. Once we had created our blog, we set up a free Feedburner account so people could subscribe to our site via email and RSS subscriptions. And then we established a free Google Analytics account to track our stats. Feedburner and Google Analytics were both easy to sign up for, and we still use both today.
Select the best plugins for your blog. We use only a few plugins on our site, including “Google Analytics for WordPress or Get best WordPress Hosting Services WP-Engine ” and “Yoast SEO”. They take just a few seconds (literally a few seconds, it’s just a click of a button) to install once you’ve started your blog. And if you really want to play around with some cool plugins, check out WPBeginner’s Best WordPress Plugins.
Write compelling content. Last, via WordPress or Get best WordPress Hosting Services WP-Engine , we started writing and uploading the content for our pages: About Page, Contact Page, Start Here Page, Books Page, Tour Page, Archives Page, etc. Next, we designed our logo using free images we found online and text from a regular word-processing program. Then we put a picture of ourselves in the header (this is important because people identify with people, not logos). Finally we started writing new blog posts and publishing them regularly (at least once a week), accompanied by free photos from Unsplash, Pexels, and the Library of Congress. And the rest is history.
- You’ll become a better writer. At its core, writing is communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and compelling others to agree with them. To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer, it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, or an anniversary card for your spouse.
- You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them. Unfortunately, at this point, many will choose not to blog (or write at all) based on the faulty reasoning that they “have nothing to say.” But to that line of thinking I always respond the same way, maybe you just haven’t discovered yet what you have to say.
- You’ll live a more intentional life.Once you start writing about your life and the thoughts that shape it, you’ll begin thinking more intentionally about who you are, who you are becoming, and whether you like what you see or not. And that just may be reason enough to get started.
- You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things.By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most important thoughts. This process of choice helps you develop an eye for meaningful things. And remember that sometimes the most meaningful things appear in the most mundane—but you’ll see what I mean once you get started.
- It’ll lead to healthier life habits.Blogging requires time, devotion, commitment, and discipline. And just to be clear, those are all good things to embrace – they will help you get the most out of your days and life. Since beginning to blog, I have become an early riser, a runner, and can now properly identify my favorite drink at Starbuck’s (Caramel Macchiato). And even if those three habits don’t personally appeal to you, blogging will provide opportunity for new life habits to emerge in yours.
- You’ll meet new people. Whether it is through comments, e-mails, or social media, you may be surprised at how quickly you meet people on-line. And by meet people, I mean legitimately form relationships that seek to serve one another. The blogging community is friendly, encouraging, and genuinely cheering for you to succeed—the only thing missing is you.
- You’ll make some money. You don’t need to make money to enjoy blogging. In fact, sometimes making money from your blog can actually start to distract you from the joy that you found in the first place. That being said, whether you make $20/year or $20,000/year, it’s still pretty nice to have a hobby that actually pays you back.
- You’ll inspire others.Blogging not only changes your life, it also changes the life of the reader. And because blogs are free for the audience and open to the public, on many levels, it is an act of giving. It is a selfless act of serviceto invest your time, energy, and worldview into a piece of writing and then offer it free to anybody who wants to read it. Others will find inspiration in your writing… and that’s a wonderful feeling.
- You’ll become better-rounded in your mindset. After all, blogging is an exercise in give-and-take. One of the greatest differences between blogging and traditional publishing is the opportunity for readers to offer input. As the blog’s writer, you introduce a topic that you feel is significant and meaningful. You take time to lay out a subject in the minds of your readers and offer your thoughts on the topic. Then, the readers get to respond. And often times, their responses in the comment section challenge us to take a new, fresh look at the very topic we thought was so important in the first place.
- it’s free.Your blog can begin today without spending a single penny now (or ever). I use WordPress or Get best WordPress Hosting Services WP-Engine and highly recommend it. With an initial investment of $0, why not give it a shot? Or for just a few dollars/month, you can use your very own domain name. I use and recommend Bluehost.
- You’ll become more comfortable being known.Blogging introduces yourself to the world. It causes you to articulate the life you live and the worldview behind the decisions that you make. Whether you have 1 reader or 10,000, the blogging process opens up your life to those on the outside. It is a good exercise in human-existence to be known by others. Over time, you’ll reveal more and more of yourself to the outside world… and you’ll be excited to find a world that relates to you and enjoys hearing your story.
- It’ll serve as a personal journal. Blogging serves many of the same roles as a personal journal. It trains us to be observant and gives weight to the personal growth that we are experiencing. It trains our minds to track life and articulate the changes we are experiencing. Your blog becomes a digital record of your life that is saved “in the cloud.” As a result, it can never be lost, stolen, or destroyed in a fire.
- You’ll become more confident.Blogging will help you discover more confidence in your life. You will quickly realize that you do live an important life with a unique view and have something to offer others.
- You’ll find a platform to recommend. We all love to recommend something we have found enjoyable or beneficial—whether it is a nice restaurant, a good book, or a new outlook on life. The fullness of joy is not experienced until we have shared that joy with others. A blog provides an opportunity to do that very thing. It provides a platform to share the joy we have experienced and recommend good things we have discovered to others.
- it’s quite a rush with every positive comment. There’s a certain little rush that accompanies the immediate positive feedback that you receive every time a reader posts a comment, shares your writing on Facebook, or tweets it out to their Twitter followers. While walking the fine line between finding encouragement in that feedback and obsessing over it may take some time to get used to, it’s far better to find that line than to never seek it out in the first place.
Remember, you don’t need to blog as a means to get rich or as a means to gather a huge following. You don’t even need to blog as a means to change the Internet… the change that a blog will cause in your life is reason enough.
Thank you for making this one of the most popular posts on the Internet today about the benefits of blogging. In response, I have written a helpful guide to getting started, “A Simple, Helpful Guide to Start Your Own Blog.” If you are interested in starting a blog, you will find the information to be both practical and inspirational.
OK – the first four steps of starting a blog, creating content, finding readers and building engagement with those readers are important foundations that you really do need to get in place before you’ll be able to build long term income for your blog.
There’s no avoiding that what we’ve covered is a lot of work but if you do it well you’ll be setting yourself up well and giving yourself every chance of being able to make money from your blog.
With these foundations in place you’re now ready to start attempting to make money from your blog but you do need to be aware that just because you have set up your blog, have content and have engaged readers that the money won’t just automatically flow.
It takes continued work and experimentation to make money from your blog.
I’ve written many articles here on Prolonger on the topic of making money blogging and will link to some suggested further reading on the topic below but let me share a few introductory words on the topic first.
There are Many Ways to Make Money Blogging
One of the biggest misconceptions that I see bloggers having about monetizing blogs is that they have to do it in one of a handful of ways. The reality is that there are many ways to make money from blogs.
A few years ago I decided to sit down and list all the ways that I saw bloggers making money from their blogs and created this ‘money map’ (click to enlarge).
Note: this money map was updated in September 2016.
As you’ll see there are quite a few options that bloggers have to derive income from their blogs.
Don’t worry though – while this map is quite overwhelming at a first glance there are a few main ‘clusters’ of income streams that you might want to focus upon rather than all the specific ones.
This is where many bloggers start. In many ways this model of making money from blogs is not dissimilar to how a magazine or newspaper sells ads. As your traffic and brand grows you’ll find advertisers will be willing to pay to get exposure to your audience.
While you need decent traffic to do a direct deal with an advertisers there are ad networks (like Google Ad Sense) that act as a middleman and enable smaller publishers to run ads on their blogs. This is where many bloggers start (I did too).
A recent survey of Webgurutech readers found that affiliate promotions was the most common type of income that our readers have.
To put it most simply – affiliate income is when you link to a product that is for sale on another site (take Amazon for example) and if someone follows your link and ends up buying that product you earn a commission on that sale.
There’s more to it than that but this is another great place to start with monetizing your blog as affiliate programs are easy to sign up for and if you have an engaged audience you will find they follow the recommendations that you make on products.
While not something most bloggers do I have noticed an increase in the number of bloggers making money by running events.
These range from big conferences and events like our Prolonger Conference which hosts hundreds of bloggers every year right down to smaller meet-ups for a blogger’s readers where money is made either through charging readers to attend or by finding a sponsor for the event.
Alternatively online events or summits are getting more popular.
- Recurring Income
Another growing category of income that I’m seeing more and more bloggers are experimenting is recurring income streams (sometimes called continuity programs or membership programs).
This is where readers pay a regular recurring amount (usually on a monthly or annual basis) for access to either premium content, a community area, some kind of service, tools, coaching (or some combination of these things).
- Promoting a Business
Many brick and mortar businesses indirectly make money from their blogs by using their blogs to grow their profile and direct readers to their business.
A common way that many bloggers make money is through offering services to their readers. These might be anything from coaching and consulting, to writing or copywriting, to design, training or other freelance services.
While I started out making money from my blogs through advertising and affiliate promotions today my #1 source of income is through selling eBooks and courses on my blogs. These ‘virtual products’ take work to create but have been lucrative for me and many other bloggers.
Products can of course take many forms and income virtual information products like eBooks or courses but also other virtual products like software, reports etc.
The other type of product some bloggers sell is physical products. This is most common when the blogger has a business but sometimes bloggers also create merchandise (T-shirts etc) or other physical products to sell.
Other Income Streams
There are of course other forms of income that bloggers experiment with. Some include asking for donations, syndicating content to other sites and lastly selling their blogs.
Multiple Income Streams
Most full time bloggers make money more than one way and end up with multiple income streams.
Diversifying your income in this way not only is smart and helps you spread the risk from having all your eggs in one basket but it also speeds up the journey to going full time.
I learned this lesson the hard way after having most of my income coming from one source in the early days but after a bit of a bad experience began to diversify my income streams (read about that here) – it was one of the best things I ever did!
Today I make money from around 12 different streams.