So you are here, and I assume it’s because you want to know what creating a blog is all about and probably learn how to earn money blogging.
Contrary to many peoples’ thoughts, creating a blog is more than being a good writer. There are so many things you will learn by creating a blog.
Personally, when I started blogging, I was writing on a free WordPress.com site. This was a total upgrade from my hardcopy diaries.
I did not have a specific niche; I was writing on random topics of my day-to-day observation. I was also so much into self-help, which I still am so I would write about different topics on emotions and personal growth.
With wordpress.com, everything is well laid out, and after signing up, you are ready to start writing. Well, that is not the case with a self-hosted site.
I now own a self-hosted site, and I have learned so much over the years from customizing it, adding an ecommerce store, monetizing it, optimizing it for search engines, etc.
This is not to scare you; at the end of this article, you will be able to have your blog up and running. Also, creating a blog is not a one-day event; it is a continuous process if you want to have a successful blog. Before creating a blog, you must answer a few questions to make the right decision.
Learn the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org so you can choose whether you are going for a self-hosted site or a wordpress.com site. As I already mentioned, creating a blog on wordpress.com is straightforward; therefore, in this tutorial, I will focus on creating a self-hosted blog.
Differences between wordpress.com and a self-hosted site.
I will not go into too many details about the differences, but you can read a comprehensive comparison here. However, I will highlight the major wins of a self-hosted site to someone planning on creating a new blog.
A self-hosted (a wordpress.org ) site will be the most favorable if you want to monetize your blog. When you own your blog, you have no limitations on what you do with it. You can sell ad space, do affiliate marketing, or use other methods of monetizing your blog, and the possibilities are endless.
With a free site (wordpress.com), they show ads on your website, but you do not earn revenue from these ads. An upgrade is the only way you can get wordpresss.com to stop showing ads on your site. Also, you can apply for wordads, their advertising program, if you have high traffic on your website, but you still have to share the revenues with wordpress.com.
Planning on creating a blog is like planning on buying a house. Most of the time, you have a rough idea of what you want it to look like. You could draw inspiration from a blog you love reading, your favorite color palette, your personal preference, etc.
As we will look at in detail later in this article, wordpress.org (self-hosted) site allows you to do myriads of customizations from color to the general appearance through themes.
On the contrary, you cannot use custom themes on a wordpress.com site; you will have to upgrade to do that.
Ownership and Freedom
Let’s talk about renting a house and building your own house to make you understand the freedom of a self-hosted site. Which one has more freedom?
It is obviously building or buying your own house. You can change it into whatever you want or use it for whatever purpose you want without anyone questioning you unless you are carrying out illegal activities.
That is the same case as being free compared to a self-hosted site. With a wordpress.com website, they can delete your site at any point if they feel that you are violating their terms of service.
If you are lucky, they will notify you, and you will get some time to migrate your content, but if you are not, you will lose all your content in the process.
On the other hand, with a self-hosted site, you can write whatever you want without violating any terms of service. As long as you do not involve yourself in illegal activities, then you have all the freedom.
Expansion and Range.
Another important thing I would like you to know is that creating a blog is not the end of your blogging career. As you go deeper and deeper into it, just like any other business, you will most likely want to expand your operations. There are many options for expansion, but one of my favorites is creating an eCommerce shop. An eCommerce shop allows you to sell, accept payments, and ship products from your site.
With a self-hosted site, you can easily add an eCommerce plugin and set up a shop. On the other hand, having wordpress.com does not allow you to add an eCommerce shop, therefore, limiting your expansion options.
These are just a few comparisons; now, let’s assume your needs lead you to creating a self-hosted blog; here are six steps to do so.
Pick a domain
Don’t get scared with the technical term domain. A domain is simply what you want to call your blog. For example, in my case, This Perfect Mess is my domain.
However, when you register it, it comes without spaces, so it thisperfectmess.net. There are different available options when it comes to the extension of the domain name. In my case, I use the .net extension.
There are many different available extensions, for example, .com, .co, .org, etc. This gives you more options when it comes to picking a domain.
You cannot use a domain name that already exists, so let’s assume you want to name your blog this perfect mess; that is impossible because I already use that domain.
However, you can make a few changes like changing the extensions, for example, calling it thisperfectmess.org or aperfectmess. Co etc. Simply put, try playing with the extension, adding articles, or changing the name form of your domain name.
How do you tell whether a domain name is available?
I use two methods, either of which will work perfectly. You can use google domain to search whether the domain is available, or you can search whether the domain is available on your web hosting provider.
Once you confirm that your domain is available, you can buy it or use the free ones that come as a part of your hosting plan.
For a start, and if you are on a budget, you can go for the free domain. However, remember that the hosting company owns it, so if your hosting expires and you fail to renew it, you lose the free domain. Usually, they give you a window to renew; if that time lapses, they can sell your domain.
Another downside of using a free domain is the difficulty in migrating it. Let’s say you had your website hosted by Bluehost and want to migrate it to Dreamhost, which I once did. They would sell it to you if you were using their domain; remember, you are at their mercy.
I highly recommend buying your domain from the get-go with these two. The good thing is that domains are cheap; from something as low as $10, you can get a domain for a year. Also, Dreamhost, my hosting provider, is having a sale, and you can purchase a domain for as less as $7 per year.
Avail your blog Online by purchasing web hosting services.
After purchasing the domain, you now need to avail your blog on the internet, which is where hosting your blog comes in. Web hosting services provide “storage” where the information on your blog is stored, retrieved, and available to the users when they search your blog.
When creating a blog, whether you pick to self-host your blog or to have it hosted by someone else makes all the difference, as we already discussed.The company you pick to host your blog is very important since they will determine many things like your site’s speed, backup availability in case something happens, and things like that. Sometimes, getting the best web hosting company can be a steep climb. I tried three before settling for Dreamhost.
Reasons why I love Dreamhost
Available support 24/7. Now you have to understand that I am an accountant by profession. So when I ventured into creating a blog, I had no idea how to go about things, and it was scary if I am honest.
I wanted to do things right, and I am sure you do too. I didn’t quite mess up as much as I anticipated because, as you will realize, creating a blog does not require you to be a master web designer. After all, it is as straightforward as it can get with Dreamhost.
However, knowing that I could type up my concerns in case I got stuck was helpful and gave me a lot of peace of mind and confidence.
Dream Host is easy to use for people creating a blog and managing it for the first time. In addition, they have more features like emails that you will require to be a successful blogger.
Dreamhost also is very reliable, and their speed is worth every coin you pay for hosting. A slow blog will cost you in the long run since you lose readers and conversions and hurt your ranking on the search engine. Once you sign up for web hosting, you will get step-by-step directions on installing WordPress and getting started. If you encounter any problems, feel free to contact me for support.
Customize your blog.
Remember we mentioned customizing? This is painting and designing your house (blog) how you want it to be. From the appearance to the fonts of your blogs, you can change them to suit your style and preference.
You customize your blog by picking a theme from the directorate or purchasing a theme that you feel will suit your needs from third parties.
Once you create your blog into whatever you like, now start writing. Think of what you would like to write about. One of the things I tell people is, do not wait till you are an expert to start. Blogging, just like other careers, requires practice. There are a lot of things that you will learn on the job. So please don’t shy away from starting; it will get better with time.
How do you decide on what to blog about?
Well, this is a good question that people always ask. My answer, though, is that you can blog about everything. The number of people using the internet is increasing daily, so you will have an audience interested in anything you create. You will find your people if you thrive on DIY projects, cooking, gaming, fashion, etc. I cannot give a definite answer on what you can write about, but here are a few things that could guide you on what to blog about.
Area of expertise.
What do you do and know best? What did you study in school? What is that thing that keeps you up late at night reading about? Probably that is the knowledge you should be sharing with the world.
I like writing about how to make money online because I have done that for over six years. I love writing about Finance because I studied accounting at university, so I am interested in anything money. Lately, I love travel blogging because I have been showing my boyfriend around my town, and I have been having a blast doing so.
What do you love to do so much that you can do it for free? Creating a blog allows you to monetize your hobby. For example, if you knit during your free time, you can create a blog about knitting. If you love baking, then come on, show us how to make those yummy desserts.
My shopping girls tell us what to shop for and where to shop it. What I am trying to drive at is that you will have so much fun writing about something you absolutely adore.
The good thing about creating a blog is that you are the boss. It does not restrict what to write about or the tone to use. I have done other freelance writing gigs, but the problem with those is you have to write about the client’s business using the tone and instructions they gave.
On the other hand, creating a blog makes you the boss. Think about that one life experience that changed your life. Maybe a trip to a third-world country showed you a truth that mainstream media never show.
Think about that one time you had a toxic boss, but you could handle them respectfully and even succeed in your career. The thing about experiences, though, is that there is nothing new on the phase of the earth. You might be underrating your experience, but probably some graduate trainee somewhere needs those tips to survive and thrive with a toxic boss.
So what is your story? You can share that in your blog.
It is, however, advisable to have a niche. As we will learn later, a blog is an online portfolio. If you go somewhere, let’s say to a digital marketing job interview, and you need to prove that you know what that is, you can use your blog on your resume as a testimonial.
Therefore, having a niche allows you to establish authority in your area of expertise. This authority comes not only from writing about something but also by narrowing it down to one area, the more you are interested in learning that discipline. Before you know it, you will be an expert.
The content of the blog you create is what will chase your readers or keep them coming back. So when you start writing, make sure you have original content that is well-written and engaging.
Instead of thinking that words are lifeless, think of them as breathing, talking ambassadors of your newly created blog. What tone do you want to maintain throughout your writing? What is your style? How do you ensure that you engage your readers? All that is a part of writing.
In blogging, the longer your content is, the better. No, I do not mean you spam your content with meaningless phrases to achieve long content. Research and develop a well-structured blog post that answers all the questions a reader may be interested in. Break down your contents into small bits. The concentration span of people is short, so make sure they read to the end. Most people skim through your content to know whether it will help to read through it.
Make your headlines catchy and to the point. Break your blog posts into short paragraphs with a lot of white spaces in between. Think about the long terms and conditions you must accept before signing up for something online. How many times did you read them to the end? Probably not even once!
Do you know why people don’t read those terms and conditions? Because no one can stand those one-sentence long paragraphs that lawyers write using jargon no commoner can understand.
Two lessons to pick from those terms and conditions if you want to become a successful blogger:
1.Write short sentences to form short paragraphs and leave white space between your writing.
2. Use simple language unless you create a blog that deals with technical stuff like software engineering and targets people in the same discipline. Otherwise, if you are running a technical blog to educate the general public, break down your jargon into a layman’s language.
Use photos and never plagiarize your content. There is no shortcut to creating a blog; if it were easy, everyone would do it, so do not try to take shortcuts by copying other people’s work. It will eventually cost you all the work.
With photos, try using stock images that are copy-right free. You can make slight changes or design your original graphic designs on Canva.
Edit your work. Creating a blog gives you the freedom to write in your style and voice, simply put, you don’t have a lot of rules to follow. However, don’t mistake this freedom for carelessness. Make sure your content is as error-free as possible, and the way to do that is by editing your work.
I use Grammarly to edit my work. Grammarly is a software that helps check all the spelling errors, punctuation, and sentence constructions mistakes, and it helps highlight possible errors in your content.
You can sign up for Grammarly free, but the paid version offers more solutions. After passing my work through Grammarly, I proofread it. As you will learn, editing software does not correct contextual errors. As long as a word is properly spelled in English, Grammarly tends to miss out on improperly used homophones. So to make sure I catch those, I proofread my work, and I would highly recommend that you do the same.
Promote your blog.
You probably have heard that starting a business and not marketing it is like winking at a girl at night. Well, this is so true for blogging. Creating a blog is not simply setting up something and leaving it to chance that somehow, people will learn about your blog; you have to do marketing.
Here are but a few ways in which you can promote your blog.
Learn search engine optimization.
I cannot stress enough how much SEO is important to bloggers. Let’s assume you are a food blogger and want to create a recipe for making lemonade at home.
You write that with the aim that someone will search things like “how to make lemonades,” “lemonade recipes,” or any other variations to help them know that your blog article is about lemonade recipes, not cocktails recipes.
People can find your article when they search for lemonade recipes by optimizing your article for search engines. Search engine optimization takes many forms, but the basic thing is to get a keyword for your blog article by doing keyword research and then learning how to optimize around that keyword.
Think about someone you watch on youtube time and time again or a blog you have been reading over the years. You will learn that you are loyal to that specific creator because they post often.
This doesn’t mean you spam your blog with a dozen meaningless pieces of content. Researching and writing good content that adds value to readers increases the chances of people coming back or signing up for your blog.
Search engines also prioritize blogs that post regularly compared to those that don’t. Try to post weekly at first. Then as you grow your audience and become confident with blogging, you can increase the number of times you write per week.
Create an email list.
Having an email list is a very crucial part of creating a blog and promoting it. An email list is your blog’s contact. Every person that signs up to your newly created blog receives your notification every time you post a new blog post on your blog.
Also, you can use the email list to market the different digital and physical products to your email contacts if you eventually decide to expand your blogging operation.
Engage with your visitors.
As we already mentioned, creating a blog is like starting a business. Imagine walking to a local shop, let’s say, trying to buy an outfit, and then you try talking to the sellers, and they ignore you completely. Would you still buy from them?
High chances you will walk away and never come back again. That’s the same with your blog readers. Make sure you read and respond to their comments. Let them feel noticed and listened to; that way, they will keep coming back.
You cannot ignore the power of social media in this digital age. Let your social connections know that you have a blog. You can also set your blog articles for AutoShare on your social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I have found Pinterest to be especially helpful. Pinterest, like Google, is a search engine, so if you optimize your pins, Pinterest can drive crazy amounts of traffic to your blog. Also, do not forget to add sharing buttons to your blog to encourage your readers to share it with other people.
Engage with other bloggers.
Reaching out to other bloggers within your niche can help market your blog. For example, reading and leaving a genuinely helpful comment on other people’s blogs is one way to put yourself out there. Most bloggers allow you to add the name of your blog to your name, so it shows when you comment.
Another way you can put yourself out there is by guest posting for other bloggers. You can reach out to people and ask them to write a free article on their site. This puts your name out there and could generate some traffic for your blog.
Monetize your blog.
The last step of creating a blog is looking for ways in which you can make money blogging. As a beginner, when your traffic is still low, you won’t be able to make a full-time income by blogging, but as you keep building your blog, you can monetize the traffic.
However, that doesn’t mean you ignore the little traffic you will have at the beginning. You can still monetize that by selling ad space on Google Adsense with no minimum traffic requirement.
Other ways to make money blogging include becoming an amazon affiliate, selling digital and physical products, writing sponsored articles, etc.
Now that I have taken you through all the six crucial steps in creating a blog, you are ready to start and run your money-making blog. If you encounter any problems, do not hesitate to contact me; I will help you for free!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Blogging.
How do I start blogging?
I have in this article explained the six most important steps to creating a blog and running it successfully. However, if you encounter any problems while setting up your blog, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will help you.
Do I have to be a professional writer to create a blog?
No, creating a blog gives you the freedom to write the topic of your choice in your tone and style. However, there are some basic rules of writing that you have to follow, for example, editing and to proofread your work.
What is the best blogging platform?
In my opinion, wordpress.org is the best blogging platform. Note that there is a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress.org is a self-hosted site, so you can control what you write and how you monetize it. So if you are creating a blog to help you make money, then wordpress.org is the way to go.
How do I get better at writing on my blog?
My answer would be START! Blogging, like any other career, will require a lot of learning on the job to do. Therefore, start writing; as you do so, it will improve with time.
How do I pick a blogging niche?
You can write about anything when you create a blog, but you should narrow it down to a niche. There are a few reasons for this: one, you can establish yourself as an authority in your area, and two, optimizing your whole site for a certain niche is easier.
When deciding which niche to pick, you can look at your interests, expertise, life experiences, or something you are genuinely interested in researching and sharing your findings with others.
How do bloggers make money?
Creating a blog is very lucrative regarding the money you can make and the freedom of working from anywhere. There are several ways of making money blogging. Among them are: selling ads space, affiliate marketing, writing sponsored posts, etc.
How do I increase my blog traffic?
The best and the surest way to get traffic on your blog is to optimize it for search engines. You can get some traffic from your social media too, but that limits you to your followers only and the people they can share with.
I am not saying you ignore marketing your blog on social media; no, not at all. Use your social media as a secondary marketing tool but put a lot of priority on search engine optimization.
I hope this article has helped you get a step ahead in creating a blog and establishing a blogging career. I hope I didn’t miss anything but if I did, let me know in the comments below. I will be sure to answer all your questions.
Also, If you are stuck, I can help you in creating a blog from scratch for free! Contact me for help.