Is it too late to start a blog?
I get this question a lot. And my answer is always a no.
Certain blogging niches like travel, cooking and fashion have become so saturated that blogging is sometimes seen just as a hobby that doesn’t require much aside from snapping photos and throwing a bunch of text online.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
This stereotype completely misrepresents the hard work that you need to put in to start a a blog and make money as a blogger. You have to create content, grow your audience, and run a website. You have to network and build relationships inside and outside of your industry.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Blogging remains one of the most lucrative ventures when it comes to making passive income. And those who are willing to learn, hustle, and put in all the extra work can reap big financial rewards.
If you have ever looked into how to start a blog, you probably came across countless articles that all gave same dated advice. My post will walk you through all the steps and save you the mistakes that cost me so much time and money.
1. Come up with a name for your blog
Building a blog means building a brand.
Before you start a blog, you need to come up with a compelling name for it. This isn’t something that can be done in 5 minutes, so I encourage you to take a pen and paper and spend some time brainstorming possible names for your website.
Remember that the name of your blog has to reflect your goal, your niche, and your value. Many successful blogs have names that make their topic clear from the get-go. You should do the same!
Here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself:
What does your brand stand for? What do you want to bring into this world? And what are your values and anti-values?
And most importantly, what do you want people to think about when they hear the name of your blog?
Tips for picking a blog name
Choosing a name for your blog is not an easy task.Here are some of the strategies that I used when I was trying to figure out a name for my blog.
Stay away from short-lived names
For example, if you want to start a travel blog, it might not be a good idea to name you blog “’20s on the road.” If you confine yourself to a specific age, time, or geographic area (unless you plan to blog specifically about it), you might have a tough time rebranding your website later on.
The key is to be niche but stay flexible where you can grow your blogging business over time by building on your core content.
Skip popular monikers
Stay away from names that have been used by established, successful bloggers, because there’s little chance that using part of their name ( Wandering, Adventurous, etc.) will help you stand out. Every niche has leading bloggers, and before you start a blog, you should research them.
Niche down as much as you can. The more niche your topic is, the more likely you are going to be seen as an expert in the eyes of Google.
Look for areas that haven’t been covered by other bloggers. However, make sure that the topics you plan to cover still generate enough interest. You can do this by conducting a keyword research. More on this below.
Avoid long names
Make sure your name is no longer than 3-4 words. A lengthy name is more difficult to remember and at some point, you will probably have to abbreviate it.
Check your competition
Before you start a blog, check social media and search engines to make sure that your name hasn’t been used by other bloggers.
2. Choose hosting platform
Next step is to choose a hosting platform for your website. Think of it as a foundation for your house. Similar to a good base for your house, a hosting platform provides you with space online where your website is going to live.
There are several hosting platforms and while they all perform the same basic function, they might differ slightly in terms of customer support and functions.
I use Bluehost for my website. It’s by far one of the best hosting services for beginner bloggers because it provides good customer support 24/7 along with all the tools to get your off the ground. You can make a one-time payment or you can pay monthly.
What’s also cool is that by signing up with Bluehost, you will get your domain for free! All you need to do is to head to the Bluehost home page, hit the get started button, and choose from four different hosting plans.
3. Set up your blog's theme
After you signed up for a hosting platform, you will have to pick your web site’s theme or design. When you start a blog, you don’t typically think about all the technicalities, but the more you work on it, the more you will learn.
For now, don’t fret over your design, because at this point, it’s just going to be a temporary one. Most likely, you will end up changing it up several times as you continue to learn the ropes of blogging and developing your style.
Your next step is to build your blog. While it sounds daunting, it’s a pretty straightforward process.
Hit the button that says start building and when you get the next question, make your website business instead of personal. As a blogger, you will run a business, so a personal blog is not what you want to do here.
The steps involve filling in your website’s title and description. But don’t worry – Even if you still need to think about these things, you can always come back and change them later.
Hit “Yes” when you are asked to launch your website.
Now the exciting part:
Logging into your website.
After you log in, you will see a black panel on the left side that will have all of the vital components of your blog.
Here are some of them:
One of the first things you have to do after you star a blog is writing your first post. Your blog posts are going to be saved and stored under this feature.
When started blogging, I confused pages with posts. Unlike posts that can be moved around your blog, pages are static and are used for grouping articles on the same topic. For example, if you have several articles about a specific destination, it’s better to put them on the same page.
You can customize your website’s menu by adding and removing pages. After you start a blog, create several basic pages in your menu such as About Me, Contact and Home. These are the basic pages that can be found on most blogs.
Here you can moderate your blog’s comments. You should always delete spammy comments that don’t add any value and try to promote other websites.
Plug-ins are features that add functionality to your website. Do you want to add your social media feed or put a pop-up add in your article? There are specific plug-ins for that!
PRO TIP: As soon as you set up your blog, sign up for an email marketing platform so you could start growing your email list from day 1. I use Convertkit for my email list, and really like their service! They offer different plans and excellent customer support so you can always find answers to your questions.
4. Find your perfect theme
After you start a blog and poke around your new website, you get an idea of how things work. Now it’s time to find a theme (or design) for it.
Most beginner bloggers have a limited budget which means they are not ready to shell out a few thousand dollars for a custom theme built specifically for them.
That, however, doesn’t mean that you should settle for an average design for your website.
You only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, and the appearance of your website can make a difference between gaining a new subscriber or not.
Although it might be tempting to choose one of those free WordPress themes, I don’t recommend it because they are not the most aesthetically pleasing.
For as little as $50-70 you can find a good theme on Envato Market, a platform that has a big selection of custom themes. Most of them are very easy to download and install and can be finished in less than 5 minutes.
5. Customize your website
Here comes the fun part.
You know how WordPress works and you just installed your new theme.
It’s time to give your website a touch of personality. Here are a few steps to customize your website and make it look more you.
Select a group of 3-4 colors that you will use throughout the blog. A good blog always has a color-coordinated palette, and you should stay away from throwing in random colors and shades, even if you think it’s going to look cool. Consistency is the key.
Like your blog’s name, your logo should reflect your brand’s identity and mission. If you have a limited budget, you can get a free logo on Canva, a platform that provides graphic design and images.
Most themes come with a set of basic fonts, however, you can also download fonts from other websites such as DaFont.com
Images are crucial for keeping your readers engaged. If you don’t take your photos, I recommend photography websites such as Shutterstock where you can get photos for a monthly fee. You can also look for images on free websites such as Pixabay or Unsplash.
Remember that you can’t go and simply pull images from Google as it might get you into legal trouble for copyright violation.
Plugins will give your website extra functionality. To look for plugins, click Plugins and then Add New. There are plugins for almost every feature from social media to newsletters.
6. Create pages
Creating GOOD content is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a blog.
While there are indeed a gazillion travel blogs out there, only a fraction of them boasts good, detailed content that helps their readers solve problems. Producing high-quality articles takes time, practice, and expertise. Most of the time, your first article is not going to be a masterpiece, and it’s OK.
Blogging is a long-term game, and it takes time to become good at it, so don’t fret it. Instead start looking at established blogs with large audiences and try to learn their best practices by analyzing their content.
To start creating content, you need to create several pages where your content is going to live. On the left panel, click Pages and then Add New in your sidebar. This is how you create a blog post. Don’t confuse pages with posts.
Your pages are located at the top of your main panel and are easily searchable, unlike your blog posts that get buried as you keep writing more content.
Some of the pages that you should have on your website are about me, Contact Page, and several pages that break up your posts by different groups.
7. Write your first blog post
After you set up your pages, it’s time to write your first blog post.
You probably have thousands of ideas and it might be tough to narrow down your focus. Think about your niche and ask whether the post that you want to write is going to fit within that niche.
If you have a tough time coming up with a good idea, you can simply write a short introductory post where you can talk about who you are and what your website is about.
Try to write a detailed, engaging article that will provide valuable information to your readers and solves their problems. But don’t forget to show some personality – It’s what makes you special!
Creating pillar content
After you write your initial few blog posts, I recommend creating your core content.
But what is pillar content?
It is a set of long (1,500+ words) in-depth articles on your top categories. For example, I blog about adventure travel, and some of my core content has to do with national parks and scenic hiking places.
After writing your core content, you can expand on it and create additional articles on related topics. Let’s say you write a detailed article about a national park. After that, you can write a guide on hiking tips, or a detailed guide to camping gear, and interlink those articles.
That’s how you start building your blogging niche and become an authority on your topic.
The more niche and detailed your content is, the more you will look like an expert on your topic in the eyes of Google.
8. Learn SEO
You just wrote your first blog post and you are itching to publish it.
Let’s hit the pause.
The Internet is saturated with the content of all sorts and you will not find a lot of success by writing stuff without purpose and just randomly throwing it online.
Instead, you should think about how to write articles that will rank in Google and that will earn you money in the future.
That’s where SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) comes in.
This scary term stands for a practice of optimizing your content in order to make it rank at the top of the page in Google and other search engines.
While you shouldn’t write for Google, you can’t build a successful blog without following SEO practices. This means that you have to research and include relevant keywords in your articles.
There are several tools for doing keyword research such as SEM Rush or Ahrefs. They are well known in a blogging community, however, they come with a hefty price tag. If you have a limited budget, I recommend using Keysearch, a budget-friendly tool that I use for my blog.
Keep your content updated
Your work doesn’t end when you finish your SEO-optimized post.
You have to track your progress and make edits over time. This will help you stay ahead of your competition. If you don’t edit your blog post over time, you could lose a chunk of traffic.
One of the best tools to monitor your website’s progress is Google Analytics. It will show you how many people visited your website, what their demographics are, how long they stayed on your blog and what articles they’ve read, among other things.
I recommend checking Google Analytics a few days a week to see how your website fares over a while.
9. Find a supportive community
Blogging can feel lonely, especially if you are doing everything by yourself.
That’s why it’s so important to find a community of like-minded bloggers who are on the same or similar level and who can answer your questions and support you when you hit obstacles or run out of inspiration.
After you start a blog, you might feel excited but since blogging is a long-term game, it might take a while to see the results. Sometimes, you could even feel like quitting. A good community will cheer you up when you are down and celebrate with you when you ride a wave of success.
What’s also great about these communities is that you can learn from fellow bloggers and see what works in terms of building their traffic, gaining traction on social media, and other important aspects of blogging such as building email lists.
Social media are great for finding travel blogging groups. You can also create your groups on Facebook or platforms such as Perlu.
10. Create a plan
Blogging without a plan will not get you far.
You have to create a strategy, test what works and what doesn’t and be able to persevere through tough times when your traffic might drop.
Besides guest posting on established websites to build your authority, you should have a schedule and a routine that should help you move forward with your blogging business.
Always remember – quality over quantity. Take time to produce quality content rather than write up thin articles that don’t do your readers any good. Look around and find established bloggers who are known in the community.
Do you see them producing boring, uninspiring click-baity content?
And you shouldn’t be either.
When you start a blog, you have to think long-term, rather than short-term. You have to think beyond getting freebies and sponsorships deals (although they are pretty sweet) and come up with an idea where you want to see your business a year or a few years from now.
I hope I encouraged you to start a blog. While it is quite a bit of work, it’s a lot of fun, and I promise, you will learn a TON along the way!
If you need further help along your journey, make sure to read my post about the best blogging tools that will help you achieve success.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article.