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I have always loved travelling. From the research to the end product, travelling excites me. I then decided it would be cool if I had a way to help others using the information I gather before, during and after my travels. I was left wondering “How do I start a travel blog from scratch?”. After some due diligence, I decided to give it a go. And, so far, I am loving it.
In just 10 steps, you can learn how to start a blog from scratch as a hobby or starting to make some extra cash from doing something you love! Doesn’t sound too bad huh? It’s by no means as easy as some may think before they get going. But it is however very rewarding and a great way to air your thoughts and experiences.
- Step 1: Find Your Niche
- Step 2: Pick A Good Name
- Step 3: Register Your Website
- Step 4: Install WordPress
- Step 5: Find A Theme
- Step 6: Create A Header
- Step 7: Find Plugins
- Step 8: Write Content
- Step 9: Grow an Audience
- Step 10: Monetize Your Blog
Step 1: Find Your Niche
This is a must before even thinking about the next steps. Pick a topic that interests you. You do not want to start blogging and a few months later you are bored with it.
You need a topic that you will want to write about and readers want to read about. Some of the top blog niches are:
- Health and Fitness
- Business / Marketing
Step 2: Pick A Good Name
Once you have your chosen topic (or topics), you want to come up with a good name. The term “good name” may seem like a vague term. To be honest, it is. However, this is how people are going to reach your site and the reader’s first impression of your website. So, keep it sensible.
You want your name to stand out. Ideally, your name should reflect the content you are going to write about. Come up with a number of ideas at this stage. Check with some people close to you about what they think of the name to get some market research.
Once you have a prioritised list of names, make sure the name is available. Try to avoid any underscores or dashes as this complicates the name as you want it to be easy to remember. Ideally, you want a .com domain as this is most common. However, that’s not overly important.
Another key is to make sure it is available on Social Media. This means you should check that all the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc. handles are all available. This is most likely how you are going to promote your blog so you want it to match (or very similar) to your website.
One final point about picking a name. Make sure it lasts. Try not to include any dates or milestones in the name. This gives your blog some sort of time limit on it before the name makes no sense.
Methodical Wanderer would probably not be my first choice name now. But, at the time, I picked it as it hinted at a travel blog but was vague enough for me to continue with this name for the years to come.
Step 3: Register Your Website
Next, you want to set up hosting. This is probably the most terrifying thing for most people who are looking to get started with blogging. To be honest, there is so much to this that you don’t really need to consider when starting out.
Hosting is effectively where your website is kept on the internet. It is a lot easier to let someone else, a hosting service, look after this. That way, you can focus on the content and look of your site and not maintaining a server.
There are multiple ways to do this, but if you are starting out and wanting to save some cash, I would recommend getting a shared hosting plan from Bluehost. This is a cost-effective way to get your website up and running as soon as possible.
Following my Bluehost link will get you $3.95 (£3.19) per month instead of the regular $7.99 price. I will walk you through the process of setting up a shared hosting plan with Bluehost below.
This also comes with free domain registration. This means you can register your domain/website name and set up your hosting in one place!
Select the plan that you think will suit you best. For most people starting out, you will probably want to take the Basic plan. This offers enough services and support to get one website up and running. One website should keep you more than busy if you are just starting out with blogging.
Once you have selected your plan, enter the domain name (website name) you came up with in step 2 into the box shown below and click next. In my case, this would be entering “methodicalwanderer” into the text box and making sure it is a “.com”. Click Next to continue.
Enter your personal details, before moving onto entering your payment information that you wish to pay with. No payment is taken at this stage. Click Submit to move on to the Summary screen.
You will then be shown a Summary screen. Make sure everything here is as expected, and make sure you haven’t added any extras that you may not want.
I would recommend taking advantage of the reduced hosting price and taking out the 36-month plan. This may seem like an investment, but this will also keep your blog low cost while you build an audience.
If this is all good, continue and complete the purchase.
Congratulation, you now own your first website and domain!
To finish off the admin side of things, you will be asked to create a password. Make it secure, unique and memorable.
Once you have entered you password, click create account. You are now ready to get started with creating and personalising your website.
Step 4: Install WordPress
If you have not heard of WordPress, you will be pleased to know this takes a lot of the hard work away from you and helps you create the perfect website by providing you with a ready-made framework.
Over 30% of websites on the internet are utilising WordPress, so you are not alone.
To get started, log into your Bluehost account.
Give your site a name. This is not overly important and can be anything you want. Enter a slogan for your website. Don’t get caught up at this point as you can change this as you develop your blog. Tick the “Do you want a blog” option. If you are planning to sell any products online, give the other option a tick too.
Click Continue to move on.
The next page is completed based on what you want to do with your new blog. Complete this based on what you think you need. You can always add some plugins (additional features) by yourself when you are up and running.
Once you have completed that page, you will need to pick your first theme. A theme sets your websites layout and colour scheme. It may also provide you with handy extra widgets, like an Instagram feed.
Pick a theme that you like the look of and continue. Don’t worry too much about this as you can change your theme at any time. I will cover more on this in a later step.
Once you have selected a theme, WordPress will begin to install (on the server where your website is located). This will not take too long. Then, hit Start Building to… well… start building and shaping your blog.
Log into Worpress at this point and you will by default have a “coming soon” page as your homepage. If you enter your website into a browser, you will see this. This means you can start messing around with your site now without the testing and changes going public.
On the left, you will see a menu. This is your WordPress menu. This is where you will navigate to customise your theme, create new blogs and pages, and also any general admin.
Step 5: Find A Theme
If you buy a premium theme, it gives your blog a more professional feel to it. Not only does it make your blog look better, but it will also open up more features for you to make your blog stand out.
This is a small investment for the boost it gives your website. The common websites for premium themes that I would recommend are:
- Elegant Themes: Divi blah blah blah.
- Theme Forest: This is a budget-friendly option for a premium theme would.
Alternatively, if you like the theme I am using, have a look at WP Royal Themes. I am currently using Ashe Pro which provides all the basic functionality I need for my site (with help from a few plugins).
Spend some time at this stage becoming familiar with your new theme and customising it to suit what you want.
Step 6: Create A Header
Another key piece to most blogs is the header. Create a header that draws in the reader. This will differentiate you from other readers so make sure it is eye-catching and relevant. This is going to be the first thing the reader sees when they arrive at your website.
I recommend using Canva to create your designs. Canva is free to use and stores your designs to modify at a later date if need be. You can start on a blank canvas or use one of their many ready-made templates as a starting point.
Step 7: Find Plugins
Plugins are additional features that WordPress and your theme do not give you by default; therefore improving the functionality of your blog. A plugin can do anything from making your blog load faster to providing a contact form on your site.
Some essential plugins for bloggers are:
- Yoast SEO: This should be every blogger’s go-to for SEO advice when starting out, and probably THE most important plugin you want to install. Yoast SEO will analyse your pages and posts and make recommendations on how you could improve your content to rank better in search engines.
- Contact Form 7: This is a handy plugin to let your readers contact you. It’s easy to set up and you have a contact page in minutes.
- Site Kit: Site Kit is a plugin by Google which is a great way of accessing the Google Adsense and Google Analytics statistics from your WordPress menu.
- Smush: If you are planning on having lots of images on your blog, you will want to compress them to make your page load as fast as possible. Smush “smushes” your images when you upload them to WordPress.
Step 8: Write Content
First of all you want to make get some static pages set up which will be the foundations of your bog.
Some top pages to get your blog looking great are:
- About Page: Let your readers get to know you. This will let readers know if they want to follow your journey or not.
- Contact Page: Let readers contact you by filling in a form on this page.
From here, you can start writing awesome posts which will begin to create your unique blog content. Although it is a good idea to have a look around for inspiration and ideas from others, you should always try making your blog your own. This is the part some people forget. Although having various plugins and colours etc. can make you stand out, the reason the reader is here is for GOOD content.
If you do not write to an adequate standard, or become an untrustworthy source, people will not come back again and again. However, don’t worry about being the best straight out the blocks. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
Step 9: Grow an Audience
So, you have great content but no one is actually visiting your site? Get on social media and start spreading the word. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are where you want to be pushing your content and growing your fanbase from the very beginning.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the key player in ranking on the first page of a search engine. In short, this means you should be writing your content based on the keywords that the reader will be searching for in the search bar. The Yoast SEO plugin will give you pointers on how to optimise (but not over optimise) your content.
Trying to rank high in Google as a beginner is a pretty tough ask unless you are providing really unique content. Google ranks new websites lower than established websites. So don’t get frustrated if you don’t rank high in the first few months. This may take months to start getting somewhere. The main thing is to keep motivated and keep at it until results begin to show.
Step 10: Monetize Your Blog
Do you want to take your hobby further and turn your blog into a business? Or just potentially earn some additional cash doing something you enjoy? Then you can look at monetizing your blog.
There are many ways to earn income from a blog. A passive way of earning is through the use of advertising. Google AdSense is a good starting point for beginners. Once you have built up the traffic of your blog, you can look at using other companies such as Mediavine which offer more. This method is not very lucrative and will be a slow process for a modest income.
The best way to start earning through your blog is to sign up for affiliate marketing. This means you will get paid a small commission for any purchases your readers make after accessing another product via your blog. For example, if your link to a product on Amazon, you could get some commission for every sale that results from that link.
There are numerous affiliate marketing programs out there so it will all depends on which suits the content of your blog.
You should now have the basic of how to start a successful blog and more than enough to get writing. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!