How to Start a Blog: A Simple Guide to Quitting Your Job & Living Happily
Updated: February 23, 2019
So you're wondering how to start a blog?
Note: If you have no idea what a blog is then check out what is a blog?
It's an excellent question and I wish the answer was easy. If it was as simple as a 5-step process then I would just mail you a postcard with the details and you could get started right away but it isn't that simple.
Wait, wait, I'm kind of lying. Creating a blog is really easy especially with technology today. Most web hosts (what the heck is that?!) have one-click installs of blogging software that will allow you to get started in minutes.
However, I'm not just talking about installing a blog. I'm talking about how do you start a blog that allows you to wave your boss goodbye and do things when you want to do them?
That's the kind of blog you want and that's what this post is going to talk about.
This blog post is going to go beyond the basic how to start a blog garbage and dig deeper into what makes a blog successful.
So buckle up buttercup. Let's go.
First, if you aren't sure what a blog is then check out what is a blog?
Now that you have that covered you need to ask yourself why blogging is so successful for some people.
I know, you came here to learn how to start a blog but trust me on this one. This is where you want to start so you don't waste your time with things.
Everyday people experience problems and they are constantly looking for solutions to these problems.
One of the first places they go to find solutions is online.
When they find a solution they are happy. When they don't find a solution they keep on looking.
Blogs work really well because they are easy to set up and allow anyone to get content online that helps people solve problems.
As you help more and more people solve problems you begin to build up an audience and with this audience, you can start to make money because these people trust you.
Some people refer to this audience as your tribe and it's one of the best things about blogging.
Wouldn't it be great to know that if you need to make some extra money, you could simply email your audience with an offer and watch the money roll in?
Trust me, it's awesome.
So at it's most basic level blogging allows you to create a problem-solving platform for a specific audience. Some people have no problem paying for solutions and you don't mind making money.
This is what makes blogging work so well for a lot of people and this is why you should start a blog.
How to Start a Blog That Allows You to Quit Your Job
If you're literally just looking up how to set up a blog then all you need to do is go to SiteGround, sign up for an account that runs you about $3.95 a month and follow the instructions to easily set up WordPress.
However, starting a blog is really more than that. It's like saying you're going to write a book and all I say is that you just need to get a pen, a piece of paper, and start writing.
You know it takes more than that.
I know it takes more than that.
So let's talk about the more.
They Are More Important Than You
Here is a hard fact to swallow.
Your audience is more important than you.
What I mean by that is the needs of your audience are going to outweigh the needs that you have. You might want to follow your passion. You might want to make an impact on the world. You might want to make a million dollars.
Your audience doesn't care about that.
They care about their problems and their problems only.
You might think they are selfish but they aren't. They just don't know anything about you.
You need to establish some type of relationship with them first before they care anything about you.
And that's okay.
Understanding this will help to separate you from the rest of the bloggers that are trying to start a blog and failing.
The reason why understanding this is important is because it will dictate the direction of your blog.
Let's say you want to start a blog talking about how you can do more for your community. That's a great blog to help other people but it isn't going to be a blog that will make you money.
If you simply want to help people and don't care about the money you really don't need to read this post anymore. Start up your blog and start posting links to activist Facebook groups.
However, if you do want to make money with your blog then you need to consider the problems that your audience might be facing.
Because people are going to be searching for solutions and if they don't find it on your blog they will find it somewhere else.
The basic question you need to ask yourself when thinking about a blog is will I be writing about solutions that a lot of people care about?
That's the difference between bloggers that get a lot of traffic and make a lot of money versus those that are struggling to get 100 people a month to their blog.
It's not about being this ultra unique voice with a perspective that nobody has ever offered. It's about solving a problem. Once you know you can solve a problem then you can focus on sprinkling your own magic on top of it.
You're reading this blog post because your problem is you aren't sure how to start a blog. This blog post is solving that problem. That makes this blog post valuable.
Focus on your audience's needs and the rest will slowly take care of itself.
The Money Niches
I address this in more detail in another blog post on Obstacle.co called 7 Blog Niches That Get Good Traffic and Make Good Money so I won't go too deep in this blog post.
The fact of the matter is there are some blog niches that seem to be made for making money.
This doesn't mean that there aren't other blog niches that you can't make money in but if you look at the most successful independent (I'm not talking Huffington Post or Buzzfeed) bloggers, they all fall into one of these niches:
- How to make money
- Personal finance
- Health and fitness
- Beauty and fashion
- Personal development
You might think this is limiting but it's really not. Each one of these niches is extremely broad. Hell, Lifestyle is so broad it should probably be narrowed down into 37 different sub-niches.
The reason why these niches work so well is that they focus on problems that people are searching for every single day.
In the Personal Finance niche, people are always looking for ways to save money and live frugally so if you start writing about that then you know there is an audience out there waiting to find you.
I only start blogs in these niches. There is no point in me trying to be cute and start a blog in any other niche. I'm here to build businesses not add more hobbies to my life.
Once you've chosen a niche how do you choose a specific topic? Don't worry, I got you covered in this post titled How to Choose a Blog Topic That Makes Money.
Do You Need to Niche Down?
This is the general advice that the big bloggers tell you to do. You need to niche down to be successful!
While this advice is solid advice I wouldn't follow it if you're just starting off. Niching down too early can trap you into a corner writing about stuff that you aren't quite sure will gain traction.
Instead, cast a wide net and as you get people to your blog you'll start to find the topics that really resonate with them. Then over time, you can start to niche down.
It doesn't make sense to do that before you have data on your side.
Every penny that I earn starts with my blogs. I've put together a free 12-day blogging bootcamp for you that goes through every step that I take to build a successful blog.
Now that you understand the value of picking a niche and a topic it's time to do some research. I know, I know, you just want to start a damn blog but trust me, all of this is going to help you out.
Figuring Out What Your Audience Wants
This is what kills me about beginning bloggers. They will start their blog and then write whatever topics come up in their mind thinking that is what their audience wants.
It's a waste of time.
Don't do that.
There are tools out there that will tell you EXACTLY what your audience wants so why not use them?
My favorite tool to accomplish this is Pinterest.
Because I only work with blog within the 7 niches that I spoke about before Pinterest is an amazing tool for understanding what my audience is looking for.
All I need to do is search for specific topics and then take note of the pins with the most repins.
Let's look at an example.
I'm going to start a parenting blog. Sure I could think of some blog posts that I hope will do well with my audience or I could simply go to Pinterest to find out what has already done well.
So I simply type in baby in the search box and this is what I see:
Right away I see the most popular searches are:
- baby shower ideas
- baby room ideas
- baby shower games
- baby names
That means I write these posts:
- 37 baby shower ideas
- 19 things for your baby room
- 12 baby shower games that don't suck
- 99 baby names nobody else uses
I could continue even further like how to find a baby name that your child's future friends won't make fun of.
Let's actually select the baby shower ideas suggested topic to see what comes up.
Boom! Found me a great post idea in the very first row. Check it out:
With over 6,000 repins, 25+ Popular Baby Shower Prizes is a hit blog post idea. What I would do next is write my own variation on that blog post idea. I don't need to click the pin to see the blog post because I'm going to create my own version. It might only have 13 prizes or it might have 79. Either way, I know it's a post topic that will resonate with my audience.
Does it mean it will be successful? Not at all but the odds of it being successful are much higher than due to the fact that I already see that it works well.
This technique is what Brian Dean refers to as the Skyscraper Technique.
You might be thinking that you want to be a unique snowflake in the blogging world and let me tell you right now everything is a remix.
What will make your blog posts unique is your viewpoint and your voice. It doesn't matter if you're addressing the same topics that other bloggers are addressing. Your viewpoint will make your blog post unique.
This is officially the 13,872nd blog post title How to Start a Blog on the Internet. But I bet you've never read one like this before.
You have to ask yourself are you trying to increase your chances of building an awesome audience or are you trying to prove that you can do things the difficult way so at your high school reunion people will applaud when you walk into the gym?
Screw the applause. Go for the traffic and money.
Now that you have a nice list of blog post ideas you should start writing. You don't need a blog to start writing. Just open up whatever text editor/word processor you like to use and go to town.
The idea here is that you need to get into the habit of writing. You might find out quickly that you hate blogging and it's better to find that out now than it is after you've invested money in all of the blogging tools.
Once you've written 3 blog posts (that's it) you can move on to the next step.
Finding a Domain Name
It's crazy that we haven't even gotten to blog hosting yet, right?
Anyways, you don't want to buy blog hosting (we'll talk about that shortly) and have no idea what you're going to call your blog.
There is no tried and true method for finding a great domain name. My blog domains are all over the place. Some are relevant to the topic and some are just cool names.
- Obstacle.co (make money blogging)
- Struggle.co (personal finance)
- Thrive/Strive (health and fitness)
- Keto Bootstrap (diet)
- Living the Hype (men's lifestyle)
Out of those 5 domain names, only one is even close to the topic it discusses.
I tend to think of words that are used within a topic and then try to play domains off of those. Using a thesaurus is always a big help.
I also like to use a tool called Namevine. It's a site that offers further suggestions of available domain names.
Once you've found a domain name you like you can either purchase it from a dedicated service that specializes in domain registration like Hover (what I use for my domains) or you can register it when you sign up for SiteGround.
Choose a Web Host
Before we talk about what you should be looking for in a web host let's talk about why you even need a web host.
If you're going to start a blog you should be using WordPress (.org not .com).
Because you are going to want flexibility in the future and WordPress has the world's largest blog ecosystem meaning there are an unlimited number of themes and plugins to help you get the blog that you want.
It's also important to use WordPress because you want to control the land you build on. What I mean by this is that if you decide to use some other type of service you're at the whim of the provider. What happens if they decide to shut down? Then you're screwed.
Because WordPress is open source software and you host it on your own (self-hosted with web hosting) even if the company behind WordPress disappeared tomorrow it wouldn't affect your blog.
With all of that being said it is time to choose a web host.
A web host is simply a company that has servers that host websites. They are not created equal.
Most of them are cheap and they all have WordPress available. What you want from your web host provider is a stress-free experience.
Things can happen at any time with your blog and when they do, you want to know that you can easily get in contact with another human being. You also want to know that you probably don't have to worry about your blog crashing or anything like that. I mean it's possible because anything is possible but you want a web host provider that has a good track record of keeping sites online.
That is why I always recommend SiteGround. You can get started with them for pretty cheap, just $3.95 a month if you pay for a full year. That's a small investment to make for your new blog business.
SiteGround is known across the industry as having great customer service and this is possible because they are an independent company.
Some of the other web host providers that bloggers recommend are part of a larger corporation that doesn't focus on customer service. I won't call out the names but if you do the research you can find them.
Once you sign up with SiteGround you can follow the easy steps to getting Wordpress up and running. It's so easy I'm not even going to show you fancy images or give you a tutorial.
Install a Theme
WordPress comes with a couple of themes by default but you're going to want something special.
Fortunately for you, your options are endless.
If you're looking for a feminine theme then I recommend checking out [eafl id="32" name="Beautiful Dawn Designs" text="Beautiful Dawn Designs"].
Another great place to find WordPress themes is on [eafl id="35" name="Creative Market" text="Creative Market"].
There isn't one particular theme that I can say you must choose. Simply think about the experience you want to offer your audience along with what kind of design you like.
WordPress is super flexible because of plugins. Seriously, there is probably a plugin for anything that you can think of.
Because everybody has different needs with their blog there isn't a definitive list of plugins that everyone should have installed. However, the one that I will always recommend, no matter what type of blog you're creating is Yoast SEO.
It's a free plugin that helps you with your SEO.
If you're using SiteGround as your web host provider you won't need to worry about installing a caching plugin since they use their own fancy one (how cool is that). If you aren't using SiteGround and your web host doesn't automatically install some type of caching plugin then you will want to install either WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
Think About SEO
SEO is search engine optimization and it's a crazy deep topic. It can be pretty intimidating for people just getting started but if you're going to be a successful blogger then you need to have a basic understanding of SEO and make sure you get your WordPress blog setup properly to handle it.
Don't worry, I have you covered in my post WordPress SEO: The Definitive Guide for Bloggers.
Publish Your Blog Posts
Now you can publish your blog posts.
You did write those 3 posts like I told you to do right? If so then you can publish them.
You might be freaking out and thinking that your blog isn't ready and that's okay. Nobody knows that your blog exists so publishing the posts isn't going to harm anybody.
By publishing the posts you get to see your blog live and make the changes you want.
With the posts published you need to get back to writing.
Some bloggers launch (meaning they actually start sharing the link to their blog) with everybody when they only have one blog post.
Why is this a problem?
Well, it's a problem for a couple of reasons:
- What if people want to read more? They can't because there is nothing there.
- When you promote one post are you just going to continue promoting it for a couple of weeks until you get the next post published?
Ideally, you want to have a decent size library of content (10+ posts) for your audience when your blog launches. This shouldn't be too hard since you have a list of awesome posts to write.
It now just becomes a matter of writing the posts.
Create an Email Opt-in and Choose an Email Service Provider
The most important asset that you will have is your mailing list.
If you really want to make good money blogging then you need to have a mailing list and you need to be in contact with that mailing list frequently.
How do you get people to sign up for your mailing list? You create an email opt-in. Something enticing that makes them want to exchange their email to receive it.
For example, I created a free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp that people can take. They sign up, get an awesome series of emails and I get their email address.
Sidenote: Sign up for that Bootcamp. It's great.
I actually use both depending on my blogs' needs.
You have most of the basics in place so you can start to share your blog link with the world.
When it comes to launching your blog I am going to tell you a little secret.
You're the only person that will care about the launch.
After you launch your blog you'll quickly discover that the work has just begun. There is a lot more to do.
Now, you need to start bringing in traffic. For that I suggest you read How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog: A Guide to Reaching More People.
If you've followed all of the steps in this post then I must offer you a huge congratulation.
As you can see, starting a blog is a lot more involved than just pressing a button. While you do need to put in some initial work this work is going to lay a solid foundation for the future.
The purpose of this post isn't to make you feel overwhelmed but to show you the steps that I take with all of my blogs so that I don't have to go back and fix things up later.
If you want to read even more insight into starting a blog then check out my free guide The DTC Business Framework.