Have you been thinking about starting a blog, but are unsure of how to get started? I know that the process can feel overwhelming, so I’ve found that it helps to make a “starting a blog checklist” and focus on one item at a time. Breaking down a large task into smaller, easy to complete pieces is a key to success.
Below are the items for you to complete before you launch your blog. If you already have a blog, run through this list to make sure that you’ve completed each essential item. Keep in mind that this is a basic guide to help you get launched quickly and manage the process of getting started. There are SO MANY more advanced things you can to to customize your blog, market yourself, and make money blogging that I will address in other posts. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed with all the options. Just focus on the essential tasks for now, and your new blog will be up and running in no time! This post may contain affiliate links; however I only promote products I love, from companies I trust.
What Are You Going To Blog About?
Select your niche and the topics that you are knowledgeable about. Remember, you want to provide value to your readers so think about what would interest them. You also want to select a topic that really interests you since you will be taking the time to research and write about it.
Name Your Blog
Is your blog URL going to be your personal name or a business name? Remember to make it something that is easy to spell, easy to remember, and not too similar to any other existing sites.
Purchase Your Domain and Web Hosting
Once you’ve decided on your blog name, head over to Bluehost or Siteground to purchase your domain (this is the “www” website address) and your web hosting. Click here to view my easy step-by-step guide for getting this step done in under 15 minutes.
Use the handy Domain Name Checker below to see if the domain name you want is available. Keep searching until you find the perfect name for your site!
Install WordPress and Select Your Theme
Wordpress is your blogging platform, and your theme is how it looks. This step is also included in my easy step-by-step guide post.
Optional: Purchase a WordPress Theme
Yes, there are tons of free themes out there, but I highly suggest you purchase one from the start. The professional themes give you more customization options so you can personalize your blog and make it unique. Nobody wants a generic looking blog. My favorite themes are from Restored 316 Designs, Studio Press, Angie Makes, and Elegant Themes.
Customize Your Theme
This is my favorite step! Make your blog “look” the way you want it to. Change your colors, fonts, upload your logo, install a few plugins, and play around with all of the settings. You also want to set up your main menu (navigation bar). (Read my related blog post: Ten Things Every Blog Should Include)
Optional: Purchase Stock Photos
Don’t underestimate the power of nice photography. Great photos grab the viewer’s attention and keep them interested in your blog post. Keep your photography style consistent, and either take your own photos, or purchase stock photos. My absolute favorite stock photos are from Haute Stock, SC Stockshop, and Twigy Posts. (Read my related blog posts: Why I Use Stock Photos and Why Photos Are So Important For Your Brand)
Install Google Analytics
Don’t skip this step! Google Analytics is completely free and it gives you powerful information about how many visitors your blog has, where the traffic is coming from, what pages are the most popular, and so much more valuable insight. Install this before your site launches, so you can keep track of visitors and page views starting on day one.
Add Pages To Your Blog
“Pages” are the static pages that are always on your blog, such as your Home page, About page, and Contact page. When you are on your WordPress Dashboard, go to “Pages” > “Add New” on the left hand side of your screen.
Write A Blog Post
I know this is what you’ve been waiting for! It’s up to you how many posts you want to have on your blog before you officially launch it. I had six blog posts and all of my pages set up on this site before I went live, but that was just personal preference. To start writing your blog posts, go to “Posts” > “Add New” on the left hand side of your screen.
Set Up Your Social Media Pages
Hint: make sure your blog name is available as a username on all of the social media sites so you can have the same username across all platforms. This helps your readers find you easily. Get all of your pages set up with a nice cover photo, profile picture and description, and post a few items that relate to your blog topic. It’s nice to already have a few posts on your page before you start following anyone so people know what your pages are about.
Start following other people on social media that are in the same niche as you, or other bloggers in general. You can also join a few blogging related Facebook Groups (which are so helpful!).
Set Up Your Email
For a more professional look, set up your email with Bluehost on your Control Panel so it is the same as your domain name. For example “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Avoid using a personal email account for your blog, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo.
Optional: Set Up A PayPal Account
If you plan on monetizing your blog (see below), most networks will pay you via PayPal and will require your PayPal email address when you sign up.
Optional: Sign Up For Affiliate Programs
If you want to monetize your blog, sign up for various affiliate marketing programs and ad networks. My favorites are Skimlinks, Viglink, Shareasale, and Amazon Associates. (Read my related blog post: Make Money With Just One WordPress Plugin)
Remember to focus on one step at a time. I am a “big picture” person so I like to know the whole process ahead of time, but I like to get one task done before moving on to the next one. Once you have your blog set up, be sure to check out my recommended list of blogging tools and must-have products. Bookmark this page and use it as a reference to the best blogging tools out there, as i continually keep it updated.