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So you want to be a blogger? That’s great! Blogging is simple and fun but not easy. Definitely not easy. Even though you can set up a WordPress blog in less than 10 minutes, it takes countless hours of focus and patience to make things look the way you want.
When I wrote the blog post You Can’t START A Blog In 10 Minutes. Period., I not only wanted to highlight that it’s not easy to start a blog but also wished to create a series of posts to list everything you need to take care of while starting a new WordPress blog.
First things first. What’s your story? Why do you want to start a blog?
Over the years, I have noticed that almost all full-time bloggers have published a “How To Start A Blog In 10 Minutes” kind of tutorial and they make the entire process sound so simple.
Since starting a blog seems easy, almost everyone today wants to have a blog without really thinking about its purpose. In reality, it doesn’t work that way.
So before you do anything else, think about why you want to start a blog.
(Do I see you putting on your thinking cap? :))
Recommended Read: 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog
Before Starting A Blog: What You Need To Know
I know there are hundreds of tutorials out there about how to start a blog in ten minutes. The problem is… all of them eventually talk about how to buy a domain name and web hosting plan, and how to install WordPress. And that’s where it ends.
I’m definitely not here to repeat the same things over and over again. Rather, I would like to show you what goes into starting and running a successful blog. Stay with me…
Blogging is not limited to ‘owning’ a .com or a WordPress blog. If it’s only your hobby or just another means to have an online presence, then yes, managing a blog will be as simple as handling your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
However, if you’re interested in the REAL thing, you must be prepared to accept that managing a ‘real’ blog takes time, effort, patience, and some money too.
And my goal today is to list some of the things you should consider or ponder over before “starting a blog”. Hey, this might not be your ultimate guide but I do believe it can act as a great starting point. So here goes….
A blog can be different things to different people. For some, it is a space to showcase their products/services/portfolio at a professional level. Other may take it up as a hobby, or as a creative outlet for their thoughts and views. Still others may want to establish their personal brand or build their authority in a given field.
So why do you want to start a blog? Think about it. When you have clarity about what you want your blog to do for you, moving forward will become easier.
2. What’s Your Superpower?
I believe your blogging success will depend a lot upon your answer to the simple question — What’s your superpower? And obviously, it’s okay if you don’t have a clear answer when you are getting started. However, you should find out the answer as you move forward.
The reason is pretty simple. There are a gazillion bloggers on the web. So why you? What makes you special? Why should people visit your blog? Why should they subscribe to your blog? Why should they buy your products/services? And so on.
My superpower is ‘RESEARCH’. That’s how I am able to beat my competitors (even the big brands) for my targeted keywords. Since there is a webpage for almost anything on the Internet, do think about how you’re going to compete with other bloggers and big brands.
Recommended Read: How To Write A Good Blog Post | Om Malik
3. Time To Start
It depends. It really depends. You can start a blog in just 10 minutes or it can take several hours to get things done. Because it depends on the features and functions that you require on your WordPress site. And hey, I haven’t even included the time you will have to put into content creation.
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You can easily start a professional WordPress blog for less than $100 since all you require is a domain name (.com), web hosting plan, and a WordPress theme (add an extra $50-100 for a premium WordPress theme).
However, if you are not web savvy, you’ll probably end up spending more. For instance, you may need a backup service if you don’t know how to backup your blog (either manually or using plugins). Again, you may have to spend money on logo design, theme customization, etc.
By the way, if it’s a personal blog or you’re just getting started, it’s advisable NOT to spend hundreds of dollars unless you have a big budget.
5. Domain Name
Perhaps the first step to building an online business is registering a domain name. It’s like incorporating a company when you want to set up a business. The only problem is, it takes a lot of thinking and patience to find a perfect domain name that reflects your personality, business, or both.
A domain name is your identity on the web. So try to find a name that’s unique, memorable, short, readable, and brandable (preferably a .com). You will also have to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with other brand names or trademarks.
Recommended Read: Choosing The Domain Name For Your Blog | ProBlogger
Even though you usually get a free domain name when you sign up for a 12-month web hosting plan, I would recommend purchasing a domain name on your own from any domain registrar company like GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.
Doing so will make it easy to manage all your domain names from a single dashboard (assuming that you will need more domain names in the future).
Moreover, web hosting companies offer the domain name free of cost only for the first year, after which they start charging a premium rate. Also, there’s every chance that you won’t stick with the same web hosting company in the future so it’s always better to purchase your domain names elsewhere and manage them separately.
6. Web Hosting
A website can’t exist without a domain name and web hosting. There are a ton of web hosting companies on the web and countless web hosting comparisons, reviews, coupons, and deals of those hosting companies also exists. And almost all of the bloggers recommends at least one web hosting company of their choice.
The problem is, the web hosting provider recommended by ‘Blogger A’ could be the worst rated hosting company by ‘Blogger B’ or vice versa. Again, a good percentage of the bloggers or the “best web hosting reviews and ratings” are biased.
I would say there’s no such thing as a perfect web hosting company. You need to select a web hosting plan based on your actual requirements and budget. If you are unsure about it then the best thing is to get help from your geeky friend or ask on a web hosting forum.
You can also check out my Web Hosting Handbook to know all (almost) things web hosting. And if you are a beginner and is looking for a web hosting plan then I would recommend a shared hosting plan by A Small Orange (it’s affordable) or InMotion Hosting (it’s my host).
Just in case, Shared Hosting is the most popular — and also the most affordable — web hosting plan. It’s super-easy to manage a shared hosting plan and it’s equally good for beginners as well as experienced webmasters.
Shared hosting basically means that you’re sharing your server (resources as well as the cost) with hundreds (or even thousands) of other websites. And that makes it affordable for everyone.
The majority of websites on the web are actually hosted on a shared hosting plan. It can cost as low as $1 per month to as high as $25 per month depending upon the hosting brand and their resources. If you are new to blogging or have an existing WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com blog that’s not getting a lot of traffic, a shared hosting plan is all that you need.
Also, shared hosting is good for a personal website or a small business website (assuming that you don’t expect too much traffic every single day, and all you need is an online presence plus business email).
And hey, a shared hosting may also be suitable when you need to host multiple websites — as long as you don’t expect hundreds of thousands of visits an hour to each website.
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7. Blogging Platform
WordPress is obviously not the ONLY blogging platform out there. It’s super easy to create a blog on Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, Medium.com, etc. In fact, you can start a blog for FREE on any of these platforms, and you’ll get a blog like example.blogspot.com OR example.tumblr.com OR medium.com/example.
But I wouldn’t recommend any of the above platforms primarily because when you host your blog on any of those platforms, you technically don’t own your blog.
Don’t believe me? Check out Google Shuts Down Popular Blogger John Hempton After Publishing Controversial Post.
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I recommend WordPress and only WordPress. But wait, WordPress has two flavors: WordPress.com and WordPress.org (the self-hosted version of WordPress).
WordPress.org is an open-source blogging software so anyone can download the WordPress software from WordPress.org and install it on their website for FREE. And then you own your blog and manage it.
WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress.org and is owned by Automattic (the company that created WordPress). Since it’s managed by Automattic, you don’t have to worry about upgrades, installation, security, or maintenance.
When you sign up for a free WordPress.com account, your blog address will look like: your-username.wordpress.com, and if you choose the self-hosted version of WordPress (that is, WordPress.org), you can start your blog with a branded address such as your-name.com.
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8. WordPress Theme
Picking a theme/template for your WordPress site is probably the toughest part of setting up a blog. Seriously. You know there are hundreds of thousands of free and paid WordPress themes out there so selecting one from so many themes can be extremely difficult.
The problem with free WordPress themes is that their developers may not update these themes regularly. If the codes of your themes are not up-to-date, it becomes vulnerable to attacks in the future.
The same applies when you buy a premium WordPress theme from an independent theme developer (or freelancer). You may get the theme you really like at first, but eventually, the theme will become outdated.
I personally recommend buying WordPress themes from a premium WordPress theme marketplace because they make sure that their WordPress themes are up-to-date. And that’s why they release new updates regularly and even add additional features when WordPress updates their core software.
Out of the Premium WordPress Theme Marketplaces, my personal favorite is StudioPress.com (oh yeah, I’m using one of their themes) for the following reasons:
StudioPress themes are fast and mobile-friendly.
There are no renewal costs. When you buy a WordPress theme from StudioPress, you can use it on unlimited websites, and you get lifetime updates and support. Most premium WordPress theme marketplaces charge you on an annual basis and they even charge you an additional fee for the developer version.
StudioPress updates their framework regularly and you can update your WordPress site with just one-click.
StudioPress offers hooks and filters so you can add your own codes without touching the PHP files of the original theme.
StudioPress offers a Pro Plus All-Theme Package and it gives you unlimited access to all of their (current as well as future) WordPress themes, plus support and updates.
StudioPress has active Community Forums.
StudioPress developers are everywhere.
There are more reasons to choose a StudioPress theme over other themes. However, the reasons above show why I personally prefer them. :)
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By now, you know that starting a blog is super-easy. However, managing it is a whole different story. There are a lot of aspects to look into like theme & plugin updates, backups, database upgrades, security, etc.
So who’s going to do it? You can either learn all those things and do it yourself (it’s not that difficult!), or you could hire someone to do it for you so that you can focus on content creation.
Outsource what you can’t do by yourself. Or outsource when someone can do it better than you do. Because it’s not a bad idea to hire someone who’s more experienced to get things done as everything depends upon the value of your time.
For instance, you can hire someone to manage the maintenance of your WordPress blog (plugin and theme updates, coding, backups, etc.).
Or if you want to customize your blog the way you want (yes, you can change almost anything and everything on your blog) then you can hire a WordPress developer.
11. What Should You Write About
Well, I think there’s no definite answer to this question as it varies from one blog to another. The clichéd answer would be to write what you’re passionate about.
Honestly, when you’re blogging, you can write about almost anything — the things you like, the things you do not like, what you find interesting, how you feel, and everything else! And eventually, you will find out what you are good at.
And if it’s a niche blog (or you already know the topic that you want to focus on), you can start by evaluating your niche. Find out what your readers want to know, especially the problems they are facing and try to solve them. It also helps to review what your competitors are doing in the same space and try to stand out from them.
Typically, what you’re looking at is why your blog deserves better ranking and how you can add value to it. If you write about topics that excite you, there are chances you will never abandon your blog.
And do remember, you DON’T have to be an expert in a certain space to write about it. But you must be curious about it and must be passionate about what you are doing.
After all, all bloggers are amateurs when they start out… It is their perseverance that takes them from where they are to where they want to be.
12. Niche Blogging
“Niche blogging” is a thing when it comes to blogging and that’s why it’s discussed on every single blogging forum on the web.
Niche blogging is the act of creating a blog with the intent of using it to market to a particular niche market. Niche blogs may appeal to “geographic areas, a specialty industry, ethnic or age groups, or any other particular group of people.”
When you start a niche blog, you can establish yourself as an expert and chances are that others (even the big brands) will link to you. This way, it becomes easier for you to rank for specific keywords in your niche market.
And if you are consistently delivering high-quality content, your readers are more likely to come back (even if you do not update your blog regularly).
Finally, it’s much easier to monetize a niche blog than multi-topic blogs. Niche blogs will have higher click-through rate for ads and affiliate links (provided they’re relevant).
Hence, it is important to figure out your niche before jumping into the blogging arena since your success here depends a lot upon your chosen market.
So do you want to start a niche blog or a diversified blog (like mine)?
13. Single Topic vs. Multi-Topic
I guess this is something you will have to figure out for yourself. As always, I will share a few insights with you.
It is always a good idea to focus on a specific topic (or starting a niche blog). Let’s say you want to start a health blog. My recommendation would be to publish only health related posts or those posts which are relevant to your primary topic in one way or the other.
On the other hand, if you want to cover multiple topics on a regular basis, you should start multiple blogs (each focusing on a specific topic). However, do keep in mind that this may take a lot of effort and money (assuming that you will be hiring writers).
It may not be a good idea to publish random topics on a single blog as it leads to diversified traffic. The best example is my blog. I do not restrict myself to a specific set of topics and I write about things that excite me.
So what’s the problem? Well, for starters, I’m always confused about my upcoming blog post as I have so many topics and categories to choose from. Plus, it makes monetization difficult.
Clearly, if you own a travel blog, you can easily deduce that your blog visitors are those people who are interested in travel-related content and that you should come up with more such content. But when you have a multi-topic blog, it is difficult to predict the nature of your audience or decide which topics to focus on (especially if it’s a single-authored blog).
If you are a solo blogger, it’s not a good idea to start multiple blogs when you are getting started. Instead, you should focus on a single blog and slowly, start more as you go and replicate the success of your first blog.
Remember, if you can make one blog a success, chances are high, you can make multiple blogs successful.
I’m a multi-passionate person, and so when I started my blog, I was equally interested in tech, marketing, and finance topics. I started multiple blogs over the past one decade (to cover all of them individually), and eventually, I had to shut down most of them as it was impossible for me to write and maintain multiple blogs, all on my own. And I didn’t want to outsource content creation either.
14. Single Authored vs. Multi-Authored
Again, this is something you must decide for yourself. Today, most of the blogs that you come across are multi-authored blogs that publish a lot of articles per week/month to attract more traffic.
But if you really pay attention to some of the single-authored blogs, you will notice that they have the best content in their space. That’s why I personally love single-authored blogs unless it’s a mega news blog.
You know, I subscribe to a blog to read the views and opinions of its author, and not those of the numerous staff writers or guest authors.
However, if it’s a news blog, I prefer a multi-author blog as it’s impossible for one person to track and write about what’s happening in any given industry.
If you are running a multi-authored blog, make sure all your blog posts are at par when it comes to quality, and that you prefer quality over quantity. After all, that’s what makes a good blog brilliant!
15. Keyword Research
Are you going to start a niche blog? Then do some keyword research and competitive analysis.
16. Content Strategy
You must think about a content strategy when you are done with keyword research. In other words, create a list of topics that you will be writing about (to target the keywords that you have selected via keyword research).
For generic (and personal) blogs, this may not be required. But if you have a niche blog, you should have a solid content strategy in place as it will help you to keep things simple, and to know what to do next as you move forward.
When I started Minterest, I didn’t have a content strategy so I was publishing posts on random topics. It was only a little later that I started writing blog posts targeting specific keywords, and it worked like a charm!
The blog posts started ranking for my targeted keywords. Next, I began to write a whole series of blog posts (or articles which were related to each other in one way or the other) and this worked too, and I was able to attract a more targeted audience.
The good thing is that when you have a niche blog, it’s pretty easy to come up with a list of topics (provided you know the keywords you want to focus on).
Just a single keyword may be enough to come up with a handful of relevant topics surrounding it, making your content creation more streamlined. You’ll even know what your readers want to read about, which is a great plus.
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17. Brand Name
All set to start a blog? Wait, what about your brand name? :D
We’re living in a world that’s dominated by brands. Everywhere you look, there is a brand vying for your attention. So what do you do?
Of course, you must join the bandwagon with a brand name that showcases your personality, and at the same time – stands out, is memorable, relevant, easy to read and pronounce.
A tagline is not essential but it’s really nice to have a catchy tagline. If you ask me for my favourite tagline, it’s definitely the tagline of the travel blog The Everywhereist — “that’s right. she went there.”
19. Traffic Sources
Traffic sources can be search engines, referral, direct, or even paid. So you have to figure out how you’re going to drive traffic to your blog.
I personally love search engine traffic as it works the best for affiliate marketing. Meanwhile, direct traffic is valuable too as it means you have loyal readers. After all, they are the ones who are going to buy your products and services as they trust you.
Finally, do keep in mind that social media traffic and referral traffic are actually good for advertising income so you must know which avenues to tap in order to leverage the full potential of your online presence.
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20. Online Handle
It’s a good idea to create a unique online handle so that you will stand out from the crowd and will be remembered. So you need to make sure that you are using the same online handle for all your web destinations. For example, my online handle is @maheshone and I use it everywhere and anywhere on the web.
21. Custom Email Address
You will need a custom email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). So think about a good email address. Because I still see a lot of bloggers having an email address email@example.com or even worse a @gmail.com address. It’s awkward. Don’t you think? So create your custom email address and use it from day one.
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22. Reserve Your Space On Social Media
Have you decided your brand name? Go reserve your brand name on all the social media channels out there (even if you don’t need it). It’s called thinking ahead. :)
23. Blogging Frequency
How often are you going to update your blog? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? It’s a good idea to have an editorial calendar so that you will never run out of topic and your blog remains active.
And the disclosure is that I do not have an editorial calendar yet. But I do have my list of topics (and its research stuff) that are to be published on my Evernote.
24. Blog Images
Images make a blog post attractive (provided they are relevant and are of high-quality). So think about your image sources.
You can easily find relevant images on different stock photography websites (free and paid), or image sharing websites (licensed under Creative Commons), or elsewhere.
And if you’re feeling creative, you can even create images by yourself using tools like Canva, Pablo, etc.
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25. Email Newsletter
Organically collected emails are a great treasure. It tells you that people want to read what you have to say. And you should collect emails from day one.
So think about the email marketing software that you would be using. Or you prefer a simple email subscription tool like FeedBurner (the one that I’m using).
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26. Reading List
When you start a blog, you should also have a reading list of your own. Ideally, you should track industry news and read blogs in the same space. It’s also recommended to follow few related blogs so that you will never run out of topic and ideas.
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It is somewhat difficult to build an authority blog when you are just getting started. Sadly, your blog’s success depends a lot upon its authority.
Wait, what the heck is an authority blog? When you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, you become an authority blogger. Simple.
Every single blog starts small and with time, develops some authority for itself. For instance, if your blog is about photography and you offer photography tips, reviews, photos, etc. that no other blog is offering, your blog will surely stand out and will eventually develop some authority.
Once your blog becomes an authority blog in your space, you will find it a whole more lot easier to rank for your keywords than before. A high website authority also means that you can compound your traffic (and income) over time.
Do check out,
On the flipside, it is difficult to build readership and authority when you publish mediocre content, and when your blog is “just another blog” on the web.
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You do not need a perfect blog to get started or a million visits to become a successful blogger. The important thing is to start and that’s half the battle won!
If you have just one reader and your blog changes their life, your blog is big enough. — Darren Rowse
Blogging is an art that must be pursued with perseverance. There’s every chance that you won’t hit your goals (unless you already have a strong strategy) in the first few years of blogging.
But do remember that almost all blogs that you have ever read started ‘small’. Make this your strength!
Have I missed something that we should consider when starting a new blog? If so, do let me know as a comment below!
So what are you waiting for?
Happy Blogging! :)
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