Hold on to your seatbelts because I am about to give you everything you need to start a blog in 2022.
You are probably thinking: “Is this girl crazy, all I need to do is make a blog. It’s not rocket science.”
Well, it may not be rocket science but there sure are a heck of a lot of moving parts to what you would think is a “simple” blog.
Unfortunately, if you do not have the proper information, you will find yourself building your blog for months.
Versus being done in a few weeks.
When I first started out, I would get new information about what I needed to add to my blog every day and it was extremely stressful.
So to help you avoid more headaches, I am going to lay out all of the basics for you to be able to start your blog and get it up in running in no time.
How to Start A Blog The Right Way
Starting a blog can be very intimidating if you have never done it before.
There are a lot of moving parts that you may not even realize exist. My goal is to help you avoid all of the surprises that I got when I first started out.
So here is a list of all of the things that you need to keep in mind to be able to start your blog the right way.
1. Starting Your Blog Brand
Most people will tell you to pick a niche first. But what you really want to do is pick a brand.
Your brand will include your niche.
But why I prefer to choose a brand is because it goes beyond just deciding to make a blog about kitchen sinks as your niche.
You need to think about how you want to represent yourself in the world of kitchen sinks.
Do you want to be a helpful guide?
Or do you want to establish yourself as a major authority from the beginning?
One of my biggest mistakes was picking a niche and not thinking about my brand. My niche is in digital marketing but my brand is now all about helping people grow online.
Having this established will set your whole theme and approach when it comes to writing content and building your blog.
Choosing A Blog and Domain Name
Once you have established a brand, you now have to make an extremely important decision:
What is your blog name?
You definitely want to do this after you pick your brand because the last thing you want is to be in the car niche and have a domain named thechickingwing.com.
Trust me, I have seen mistakes like this several times.
You want to pick a name that will reflect what your brand and niche are about.
I visit several sites every day and you will not believe how many times I have come across a website that has a completely misleading domain name.
If it is, you can either buy your domain now to secure it or you can choose a blog host and get your domain for free for the first year.
More about that later on.
If your name is not available, you don’t need to change it completely. Instead, you can think about adding a dash or another word and see if it is available.
For example, chickensoup.com is unavailable. But thechickensoup.com is open.
Creating A Logo
This is going to be a very fun part of the process if you enjoy designing.
If you do not, however, then this will be a daunting task.
Creating a logo is going to be the hallmark of your brand. It has to be something that you can use everywhere on everything.
Thankfully, if you are just starting out and have no budget then you can do this completely for free. If you know how to use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop then creating a logo will be a breeze for you.
But there are easier options. There are 4 free logo-making sites that I have used in the past:
The first 3 will allow you to enter your brand name and choose certain preferences. Then they will show you some logos that you can choose.
HOWEVER, when it comes to my logo maker of choice, I have to say it is Canva.
Plus, Canva gives you the full rights to use their logos so you won’t have any problem on the legal front.
If you absolutely have no idea what you want for a logo, you may want to consider hiring someone to create it for you.
Either way, you want to make sure that your logo is very versatile and that it can be used with or without a background.
So think in the future: if you wanted to make merch with your logo, will it look good?
Creating Social Media Platforms
When you have settled on a blog and domain name, the next thing to tackle is social media.
Every blogger should have ONE social media platform that they use.
However, you should go on all of the major social media platforms and create an account with your blog name, even if you are not going to use it now.
Someone else will take the handle that you want at some point. So best you grab what you can as soon as you can before it disappears.
Remember, you want to keep everything on-brand so having some form of cohesive brand name on all platforms is the best way to do that.
For example, I made the mistake of NOT creating a Twitter account. Now that I want to start using it, I was stuck with the handle @TheMindedM instead of my full blog name.
Bummer, but it could have been once.
You can use something like Google Keeps to store the emails and passwords that you used for future reference. But please don’t write it fully. Use some form of code that only you will understand.
Once you create the accounts, chose only ONE that you are going to focus on, to begin with. Mark my words, you will spread yourself thin if you are trying to post everywhere.
My platform of choice is Pinterest but I know it’s not for everybody so just choose the one that works the best for you and your content.
2. Getting Your Blog Online
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Here is where the journey really starts to pick up speed!
Once you have your branding and everything down pat, you can start to build your blog.
Now if you are thinking of going on WordPress.com and creating a free account…STOP!
Don’t do it!
One of the fastest ways to kill your blogging journey before it even begins is to put all of your effort into a free blog host.
Trust me, I did it and it set me back years.
Instead, the first thing you are going to do is chose a good place to self-host your blog.
Self-Hosting Your Blog
To help you stand a little bit, hosting is basically a place where you can store your website and domain name on the internet.
This means, however, that you are going to be paying for that space on the internet. Usually, it is just a small fee.
But the main reason you want to pay for this space vs. having it for free is that you will not own your domain name if you don’t pay.
You will always have a .wordpress.com or .blogger.com pasted on the back of your domain name.
This is terrible for your SEO and it will be very hard for you to grow organically if you compared it to having bought your domain name instead.
Not only that but your access to plugins and certain functions are heavily limited and it is almost unrealistic to be able to scale your website on a free platform.
Choosing The Right Host
Whereas hosts like Cloudways that have an amazing hosting platform could cost you $15-$30 dollars a month. But unlike the majority of hosts, they also give you the possibility to pay monthly.
There are several different hosts that you can choose from that are great for websites and small businesses so you won’t be short of options.
Make sure you keep some things in mind when you do make your decision:
- Storage space
- Traffic limits
- Support options
- Ease of use
You can read my guide about hosting providers for bloggers to learn more about which host may be the best for you.
3. Customizing Your Blog
Pat yourself on the back because you did it!
You should be so happy that you have finally made the big leap and bought your domain and hosting.
I don’t think people celebrate this step enough because once you invest your money, that is when it all begins to feel very real.
So now that you have this platform, you can start to finally decorate it to feel like your home.
Choosing A Blog Theme
Now take a deep breath and think because there are literally thousands of themes to chose from.
If options overwhelm you, this could be a problem.
So let me help you with one tip: No matter how beautiful the theme is, never sacrifice looks for speed.
Your theme can be the one thing that can slow down your website heavily.
I personally had to change themes about 3 times before I settled on the one I have now.
Luckily, you can switch themes later on but you want to have a good one to start out with.
To help you make a decision, here are the top 5 free and paid themes when it comes to site speed:
Top 5 Free Themes
Top 5 Paid Themes
Choosing A Theme Builder
Most themes also have themes builders that you can download as well however it is not necessary if you don’t want it.
You also have to be careful because some of these builders are also extremely heavy and can cause your site speed to become a lot slower.
To be honest, you will probably never have a builder that will be lighter or faster than WordPress’s very own Gutenberg but you can find some that come pretty close.
You can even use something like Stackable to add extra features to the Gutenberg builder and make it more personalized.
This is exactly what I did and I haven’t looked back since.
4. Blogging SEO 101
Now that you have everything set up for success, it is time to start creating content.
But since we are getting you set up for success, SEO is going to be your number one priority.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. It is basically a term we use to identify the process of getting your content to rank in a search engine.
Each search engine has its own specific process but the general ideas are the same.
You should probably read my full SEO for beginner guide to learn more about how to optimize your content.
So with that in mind, the first thing you actually want to do is your keyword research and then create your blogging calendar.
These are very important to have before you start writing content.
You will find out why in a minute.
Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO and this will either make you or break you. You basically need to find out what keywords people are looking for.
Keywords are the search terms that people enter into the search engines.
For example, “blogging” is a keyword but this is what we call a competitive keyword. Meaning there are a lot of people that are going to target it. Making it harder for you to rank.
However, “blogging as a side hustle” is also a keyword but it is what we call a long-tail keyword. It is much easier to rank for keywords that are more long-tail.
There are dozens of ways that you could do your keyword research and hundreds of SEO tools that you could use.
However, when you are first starting out, you want to keep things as budget-friendly as possible. So I recommend making use of all the free tools you can.
Free Keyword Research Tools
One great tool that I have used for years that is completely free is Google Keyword Planner that you can get in the Google Ads platform.
With this tool, you can check how competitive the keywords are, how much the CPC is, trends, and even keyword volume.
There are a lot of other great SEO tools that I use for free so you can read more about them on the blog.
How Many Keywords Do You Need?
There is no cap to the number of keywords you need to begin with. What you have to keep in mind is that each keyword should be able to be made into a blog post.
You should always use several keywords throughout your blog post when you can but you should have one that this your focal point.
So to start out and not get overwhelmed, try to gather 30-60 keywords. I know it sounds like a lot but once you get a groove, you will be surprised how many keywords you can find in an hour.
Creating A Blogging Calendar
Once you have gathered your keywords, you can now build a content calendar. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable and get yourself onto some kind of schedule.
You need to be organized if you want to make your blogging journey as easy as possible.
I also recommended that you use something like spreadsheets to make your calendar but you can do whatever suits you.
Here is what my calendar looked like last year:
I am a bit of a need freak so I used different color codes to see what was drafted, edited, scheduled, and posted.
It really made it easier for me to visually keep track of what I was doing. Plus it is super easy to make any changes.
5. Creating Blog Content
Here is where you will finally let your creative juices flow. If you have done your keyword research properly, then this should be a lot easier for you now.
But just having a keyword is not enough, you have to do the research to make good content.
If you happen to be an expert or have a lot of knowledge about the topic that you are writing about, then this part of the process may be very easy and require minimal effort.
If this is not the case, take the time you need to create quality, high-value, and helpful content.
Something that may help you put yourself into your viewer’s shoes is creating an Audience Profile. That way you will understand who you are writing for and what they want from you.
How Long Do Blog Posts Need To Be?
Up until as recently as last year, people thought that you needed to write super long 5000+ word articles to be able to rank faster.
Although that used to be the case, it is not anymore. I have seen articles with under 1000 words rank on the first page of Google.
What you need to focus on is not just the length, but the quality and helpfulness of your article.
With that being said, however, I recommend you write articles that are at least 1500 words. It may sound like a lot, but it is actually very easy to do when you have a good topic to write about.
How Many Articles Should You Have?
When you start your blog, you want to make sure that you create a good seed. If you are familiar with Income School, then you have probably heard this term before.
A seed is basically what your blog is called when it is first planted into the internet. So in this phase, your website or blog should have at least 30 articles that your visitors can read.
This should take you about 2 months to do.
How Often Should You Be Posting?
How many articles you post is going to depend on how much time you have.
With that being said, it is recommended that you post at least 1 article per week.
There are people that do more and also others that do less so it is a very personal choice.
In my case, since I have a full-time job and a youtube channel, I actually post 2 articles a week. I found that it has really helped to build momentum and get the traffic kicking in faster.
If you don’t want to set a weekly goal, you can set a monthly goal instead. So instead of having 1 article per week, you make sure you post 4 articles in a month.
I will say, however, consistency is very important when it comes to the Google algorithm so keep that in mind.
6. Promoting Your Blog Content
Most bloggers will go months without seeing a single visitor and this can be very discouraging.
Matter of fact, a lot of bloggers quit before they even start meeting their goals because they weren’t prepared for the reality that comes with blogging.
We will get into that a bit later.
The important thing is, I don’t want you to quit.
So to get you some initial traffic to your blog, you need to actually share and promote your content.
Posting On Social Media
Social media is a great way to create brand awareness and get some eyes on your content.
Remember what I said earlier, make sure you have one social media platform that you are going to focus on.
If you think your content is for younger people, maybe create a TikTok.
If you have a cooking blog, then you will probably kill it on Pinterest.
Choose your poison, but choose wisely.
Creating An Email List
I bet you were not ready for that, were you?
Yes, if your blog is small, you still need to set up an email list.
Because this is how you are going to be able to find your true ride-or-die viewers. Your email list is your VIP list.
You never know when a blog post you shared on Facebook will go viral. The last thing you want to do is see that thousands of people visited your blog but you missed out on having grown a connection with them.
This is what an email list is for.
Building a connection with the most important viewers and giving them special access to everything you have to offer.
So when you publish a new article, they will be the first people to be able to check it out.
Don’t worry, you have several free email marketing tools that you can use, to begin with.
7. Monetizing Your New Blog
Last but not least, let’s talk money!
Most people who decide to build any kind of online platform hope to be able to monetize it in the future.
So having a clear plan of how you want to start making money from your blog is going to be essential for you as well.
There are 3 main ways that most small blogs monetize their websites:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Joining An Ad Network
- Selling Your Own Products and Services
Now each of these is different and you definitely shouldn’t try to do all three when you are just starting out.
So let’s get into each one of them a little more.
Affiliate Marketing is hands-down the best and easiest way to monetize a new blog. If you don’t know what affiliate marketing is, think of it this way:
You get a special link to a product or service from a company or affiliate marketing marketplace.
Then you share that link with your audience and if someone buys from your link, you get a commission.
You can read more about how to start doing affiliate marketing as a beginner to get a better understanding.
If you have an affiliate link that fits well into your article, you can simply share it in the post.
The great thing with affiliate marketing is that the conversion rate is usually between 1-2%. So for every 100 people who click on your link, you can expect around 1-2 people to purchase.
Not a bad start, if you ask me.
Joining An Ad Network
Being able to join an ad network is a big step for a new blogger. This means that you will be able to start displaying ads on your website and get paid for them.
There is something about having ads on your first website that just makes it feel more legit.
The one that is easiest to start with is Google Adsense.
If you follow Google’s policies, then you should have no problem getting accepted into their ad network.
To be fair, it doesn’t pay as much as other ad platforms but Google is one of the few that accept small blogs.
If you are interested in something more challenging, you can join Ezoic’s ad network (which I am currently a part of).
If you go through their Ezoic Access Now course, pass the tests, and complete the tasks, then you could get accepted to display ads from their network. You can find the whole process for joining Ezoic with a new blog here.
Selling Your Own Products and Services
I put this one last because it should be the last thing that you think about.
The main reason is, creating a product takes time and effort and if you do not have the right amount of traffic yet, you won’t make any sales.
The same goes for having your own services. Unless you are able to establish your portfolio in some way, people may not be ready to trust you enough to pay for your services.
In the beginning, you are actually going to want to make things for free and use them to get people to sign up for your email list.
So why talk about products and services at all?
Because after a few months, you will start to see traffic coming in and at that point, selling something like an ebook or other digital products will be a great way to start making money.
Then the more you grow, you will be able to provide coaching and other services once you’ve established yourself a bit online.
Final Thoughts: The Truth About Blogging
Here is where I am going to spill the tea.
You know how I talked about bloggers quitting too early because they were not prepared.
I am about to prepare you.
When it comes to building a website or blog, be prepared to see absolutely nothing for 6-8 months. Sometimes, even a year.
It sounds harsh, but that is the truth that I WISH someone had told me when I first started out.
All those Pinterest pins and blog posts talking about how someone made $1000 their first month are extreme exceptions to the rule.
A blog is supposed to take a few months to grow because the search engines need that time to figure out where to place you.
So if you have been blogging for 5 months and are only seeing maybe 200 pageviews even though you have 70 articles, that is COMPLETELY NORMAL!
Do not quit.
Give it at least a year or even two years before you decide to throw in the towel and I promise you, you will see a huge change in your progress.