Starting a blog can open up lots of opportunities and teach you many valuable skills, and we’d definitely encourage you to give it a shot if you’re curious.
If you want to start a blog but aren’t sure how – you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we are going to share everything we know about creating, growing, and monetizing a successful blog.
Like most blogging guides, we’ll cover basic things like how to choose a topic and set up your website. But this guide also goes way beyond those basics to share a bunch of things I wish I’d known when I started out, including the hard truths that most blogging guides won’t tell you.
Don’t Start a Blog to Get Rich
Before we get into the details of blog creation, we want to make sure you have the right expectations.
If your goal is to get rich, then starting a blog is not the approach to take. You’re much better off working a steady, well-paying job and investing your money in the conventional and proven way.
“But what about all those millionaire bloggers? Why can’t I be like them?” Of course, it’s possible to make a lot of money from a blog. But for every super-successful blog, there are thousands of obscure ones that don’t make a dime (or even lose money).
Now, you certainly can make money from your blog; we’ll show you how in this guide. But you need to realize two things:
- Making money from a blog takes a lot of hard work and patience.
- Even when you manage to make money blogging, it’s unlikely to make you rich.
So, don’t run out and quit your day job because you plan to strike it rich as a blogger. With time and the right approach, it’s possible to earn a full-time income from a blog. But it won’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t expect your blog to make you an overnight millionaire.
How to Choose a Topic for Your Blog
Now that we’ve tempered your expectations, let’s talk about choosing your blog topic. This is the phase where a lot of people get stuck and waste a hefty amount of time.
The good news, however, is that:
- There’s no such thing as the “perfect” blog topic.
- Your topic matters less than you imagine.
A lot of would-be bloggers think they have to find an “original” topic that no one else has written about. This results in hours of Google searches, only to end up feeling defeated because everyone has already written about everything.
Luckily, being original doesn’t matter.
To start, if there are other successful blogs about a topic, that’s a good sign. It means that people care about it; in business terms, there’s a market for the idea.
If no one is writing about something, on the other hand, that likely means it will be difficult to make money from it.
Furthermore, people don’t read one blog over another because of the topic. People read blogs that they connect with (and that are well-written, of course). Your unique voice and perspective will come through no matter what topic you’re writing about.
But even once you’ve gotten over the pressure to be original, choosing a topic can still be a challenge. Here are some guidelines for choosing a successful blog topic:
1. You’re Qualified to Write About the Topic
This should go without saying, but don’t start a blog about something you have no business talking about. For instance, if you’re hoping to start a blog about fixing old cars but have never held a wrench, you should probably pick something else.
But beyond obvious examples like that one, what makes you “qualified” to write about a topic?
In general, you just need to know more about the topic than your readers. You certainly don’t have to be an “expert,” and it’s fine to write about something that you’re learning.
In fact, many of the articles on this blog originated with topics that interested us, such as how to get better sleep or how to make better flashcards.
2. The Topic Interests You
As we’re going to repeat throughout this guide, creating a successful blog takes time. So, you need to pick a topic that you can see yourself writing about for years.
Don’t pick a topic just because it has the potential to make a lot of money or because someone on the internet told you it was a good idea.
3. The Topic Has the Potential to Make Money
Assuming you want to make money from your blog, you need to pick a topic with the potential to make money. This means something that has products/services related to it that you can either create or promote (more on this later).
Arguably, you could sell something related to any topic, but some will be an uphill battle. For instance, while you could create a blog about the best air guitar moves, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to pay for an air guitar book or video course.
This doesn’t mean your blog has to be about dating, day trading, or supplements, however. There are numerous successful and engaging blogs with unique topics that people are genuinely interested about.
How to Name Your Blog
Naming anything is a challenge. In fact, it can be so challenging that there are even entire businesses that help companies create brand names.
When naming your blog, you don’t need to hire professional help. However, you will need to do a bit of brainstorming. The best blog names are:
- Relevant to your topic
- Available as a domain name
That last item is one many people forget. Ideally, the name of your blog should also be its domain name.
To think up blog names, we recommend you use a technique called mind-mapping. Take the topic of your blog, write it on a piece of paper, and draw a circle around it. Then, start thinking of words that relate to the topic. Each time you think of a word, write it down in a smaller circle branching off from the circle containing your topic.
Eventually, you’ll have a bunch of words that you can combine in different ways to create a name. Once you have a few names, you can see if the domain names for them are also available (a process we’ll discuss in the “Get a Domain and Hosting” section).
How to Set Up Your Blog in 7 Steps
Now that you’ve picked a topic, it’s time to create the actual blog. This is the most intimidating step for a lot of people, but relax.
As long as you can read and use the internet, you already have the skills you need to create a blog. Knowing how to code can be helpful down the line, but you don’t need it to get your blog set up.
Here’s an overview of the process:
- Get a domain and hosting
- Install WordPress
- Configure your WordPress settings
- Install recommended plugins
- Choose and install a theme
- Set up your pages
- Write and publish your first post(s)
Seven steps may seem like a lot, but we’ll walk you through it. Follow along carefully, and you won’t have any issues.
Get a Domain and Hosting
To kick this process off, you’ll first get your domain name and hosting.
If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a simple explanation:
- Your domain name is just your URL.
- Your host is the server where your blog will live.
Now, there are a number of ways to host a website. For instance, you could just create a free blog at WordPress.com or Tumblr.
However, if you’re serious about creating a blog that’s more than just a hobby, spend the bit of extra time and money to create a self-hosted blog. It looks far more professional and trustworthy.
You also have complete control with a self-hosted blog, which you’ll appreciate down the line when you want to customize things (or hire a developer to do so).
It used to be that you had to buy your domain name separately from your web hosting. Now, however, you can get them from the same place at the same time. Buying them separately is still an option, but it’s so much easier to get them together.
Note to your wallet
This is the only part of the process that will cost you any money. Good web hosting isn’t free.
However, it doesn’t have to be that costly, either.
There are tons of hosting options — shared hosting, VPS accounts, dedicated servers, etc.
At the end of the day, just follow these easy steps and have fun in the process of putting together your very own blog. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Go ahead and write about things you are passionate about and topics that you think are engaging for your prospective audience.