How To Start A Blog With No Experience in 2021
So you have decided that you want to start a blog!
Well done- you have made a great decision. Starting a blog can be a very rewarding experience for anyone looking to grow their online presence and make an impact talking about topics that they are passionate about.
The good news is that you do not need to have a lot of experience to be able to start a blog and become a successful blogger.
After reading this step-by-step guide, you will walk away with all the information and resources necessary to take your blog from idea to reality in just a few hours.
My hope is that this post will be your one-stop resource to take you step by step through the often complicated task of starting a blog from scratch.
This is the guide I wish I had 5 years ago when I started a blog with no experience.
I spent many long nights frantically googling and searching the internet for information on anything and everything I could get my hands on about how to start a blog. I spent hours reading articles that made no sense (umm hello technical jargon). So I am determined to make this process as easy as possible for you.
While I promise to simplify things, I feel like I should warn you that this is going to be a detailed post- get your notepad ready. After reading this, you should feel confident knowing everything you need to do from now until you hit publish on your first blog post.
HOW TO START A BLOG in 2021
Before we get started picking out brand colors and web page designs, I want you to spend some time thinking about yourself. Yes, YOU!
Step 1- Lay The Right Foundation
The foundation of a great blog is the purpose behind the blog.
I want you to spend some time thinking about exactly why you are planning on starting a blog and what you are going to be talking about on your blog.
Have you heard anyone talk about the term blogging niche?
This is something that I want you to think about. And think about it seriously. Having a solid niche is even more important than choosing the right platform or colours for your blog. Getting this out of the way FIRST will make all of the following steps so much easier, so I urge you to take some time thinking about this.
If you have never heard of a niche before, here is the official definition.
- A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted (Merriam-Webster)
- A specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service (Google Dictionary)
Still confused right?
To be honest, there is no real definition out there for what a niche is. Most people would agree that your niche is in essence a very specific problem that you help solve. Because let’s face it, if you are going to be putting a blog out there in the midst of the millions of other blogs, you need to make sure that you are solving a problem for someone. Without this, your chances of standing out and making an impact (and income) online are slim.
To help you further, here is the formula I came up with for what a niche is.
Niche = Who you help + What you help them with + How you help them
When I first got started with blogging, I used to think travel was a niche.
Well it depends on who you ask, but I would define travel as a category.
An example of a niche blog would be a blog with tips for travelling with kids.
You see how that is a lot more specific than just saying that you are starting a travel blog?
Who you would help– Probably the parents who are searching for tips
What you help them with– Figure out how to travel with kids
How you help them– This could be through product reviews, posts, videos
I know that it probably sounds more appealing to blog about everything that you love (I felt the same way too).
But I want to encourage you to stick to one niche and be specific so that you can stand out and develop yourself as an authority in that field. You can always expand what you post about later.
As a new blogger, you have a better chance of standing out if you start off with a well-defined niche. This will help you to build a reputation as opposed to being known as a Jack of all trades.
These are the benefits of niche blogging:
- It helps you to standout in an already crowded market (less competition)
- You get known as the go-to person for that niche (expert status)
- It narrows down what you will post about (makes choosing blog topics easier)
- When it comes time to monetize, you can provide products specifically for your target audience (so much easier to sell)
- Better engagement with your audience
Wheww that was a lot… but so important to get right so I made sure to put that first.
Read this post if you would like to learn more on how to define your Niche.
Step 2- Lets Get Techie
As much as I want to make this post as simple and user friendly as possible, you cannot start a blog and ignore the techie parts.
In order to make this straight forward, I will only mention the parts that are absolutely necessary for you to know. (NO FLUFF here)
Now that you have a good idea of what you are going to be blogging about, you are going to have to choose your domain name.
Domain Name: The term used to describe the website address. For instance Facebook’s domain name is www.facebook.com
When choosing a domain name, it is important to choose something that is unique and reflects what your blog will be about. You also want to choose something that you will be happy with years later.
You can use this free tool- Bust A Name to help you if you’re stuck. Just type in some keywords and it will come up with possible combinations using these words.
When thinking of your name, here are some things to consider
- Should be related to your niche- so when someone comes on the blog they know what to expect based on your domain name
- Easy to spell/ not longer than 16 letters
- Should be memorable
You will have to pay to register the domain. This will typically cost anywhere from $10-15 per year.
You can get your domain for just 99 cents per year at Namecheap
Choose Your Blogging Platform
If you are ready to take blogging seriously, I want you to know that you will have to spend a little bit of money upfront to get things set up.
There are a lot of free blogging platforms out there, but if you are looking to monetize in the future, you will not be able to do so if you have not properly invested in the right foundation. You may eventually end up spending more money and definitely more time migrating your information if you decide to make a switch later.
So I STRONGLY suggest choosing either Worpress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) OR Squarespace as your blogging platforms. These are the two that I have seen a lot of the professional bloggers using.
I am currently using WordPress.org for this blog.
Web Hosting: A business that provides the technology and services needed for your web page to be seen on the internet.
Your hosting is the area on the internet that your blog lives. If you are choosing to use a free platform like wordpress.com or blogger.com, your blog is hosted on those sites.
All of the different hosting service company vary and offer different features and price points.
If you would like to review and compare some of the most common hosting services and their offers, you can do that here.
Remember that all of the reviews you will find online are based on individual opinion. What works for one person may not work for you.
This website is hosted on Bluehost and that is what I personally would recommend. Their support is very straightforward and I was able to set everything up within minutes, When you set up your website with Bluehost, you can actually get your domain for free which is a benefit.
Extra benefit for you reading this is that if you sign up using this link, you get a 50% DISCOUNT on the monthly price.
Step 3 The Design
Now for the part, I am sure you have been waiting for! We are going to talk about the design and aesthetic component of your blog.
Setting up the blog can be both the best and the worst part of starting a blog (depending on how you look at it).
It’s also a part that people get stuck and feel like giving up.
Before you throw in the towel, remember that the first design that you pick for your blog does not have to be the final design.
The important thing is to take action and keep going- even if it doesn’t look perfect.
That being said, first impressions are everything. When it comes to blogging, you want to try to make a good first impression with a clean and pleasing design.
Your design sets the tone for your audience and is what will determine whether they click away or spend some time reviewing your content. No one will stick around to read your wonderful blog posts if the site is poorly designed.
Instead of spending lots of money on a web designer, you can use blogging themes.
A Theme is a template that you can download to your website. It determines how your
website will look.
Here are my recommendations for the best places to get great WordPress themes.
I would highly recommend getting a premium theme.
When I first started blogging, I spent hours looking for the best-looking free theme because I was desperate to save money. I ended up wasting a year blogging on a platform that I was not confident showing off (sigh).
Do not just pick a design based on your preferences alone.
The colors and design that you chose should be influenced by your niche. You want to think about your ideal customer and imagine what they are like.
What kind of colors and feelings do you think they would resonate with?
Really dig in and try to understand your audience so that you can fine-tune the appearance of the blog to meet their needs.
How to install a paid (premium) theme
When you purchase a premium theme, you’ll receive a zip file which contains the files for your theme.
To install it, log into your WordPress dashboard and select
Appearance > Themes > Add Themes
You can see in the image above that the theme I have installed on this blog is the Harlowe Theme which was purchased from Creative Market.
The next step is to upload the theme to the blog.
Premium themes come with instructions for how to customize the pages to your preference. Follow those instructions to upload all the pages and customize them for your new blog.
Step 4 – Install Plugins To Your Blog
If you decide to use wordpress to build your blog (like I have), you will need to install plugins.
A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website.
When you first start your WordPress site, it has little to no functionality. The plugins are what make your site complete.
Adding plugins are really easy.
From your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins, select Add New.
Search for the plugin that you would like to use on your blog.
These are some of my favorite FREE plugins that I would recommend starting off with.
1. Yoast SEO– This is a great plugin for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
2. Social Feed– I use this to add my Instagram feed to my blog
3. Woocomerce– You can use this plugin if you would like to add an e-commerce store to your blog.
4. Easy Google Fonts– This can be used if you would like to customize your fonts.
5. Easy Table of Contents– This plugin can be used to add a table of contents box to your blog post. This is especially useful if you have really long blog posts as your audience can find the section that they are looking for much easier.
6. MonsterInsights– This plugin connects with Google Analytics and allows you to track how much traffic your blog gets.
7. WP-Optimize– A plugin to help improve the speed and performance of your WordPress site.
8. Sassy Social Share: This is a plugin used to add social sharing icons to your blog posts so people can share your posts on social media.
Step 5 – Create Your Blog Categories
Choose the main topics that you will be interested in talking about. I would recommend sticking with 5 or fewer categories when you are just starting out. If you have too much, it can be a bit overwhelming to tackle.
Also, there will always be that one category that doesn’t get as much love as the others.
Limiting the number of categories, helps you push out more content for each category.
Step 6 – Write 5- 10 blog posts (Pillar Content)
I always advise that you write about 5-10 posts before you tell the world about your blog.
Write these posts before you launch, so that when you eventually launch, you have content ready for your audience when they first land on your site.
The more posts the better.
These initial blog posts should be well written and search engine optimized to attract the first influx of visitors to your blog.
They should also help people to have an understanding of what to expect from future posts.
The more content you are able to write before you launch, the better as it will also help you to stay consistent in the first few weeks.
Say you write 10 posts, you can release 5 with your blog launch, then release 1 post every week over the next month, while you get into the swing of things and work on future blog posts.
Pro Tip: Plan your content ahead of time so that you can stay consistent.
By writing these posts in advance, you can also determine whether you actually like talking about your chosen topic.
If you have a hard time sitting down to write 5 posts, you may have a hard time finding the motivation to write future posts. If that is the case, it may be a good idea to choose a different niche to focus on.
Step 7- Sign up for an E-mail Marketing Service
An email marketing service is a must if you are starting your blog.
Even if you do not have a service or product to sell, it helps to start collecting emails right away so that when you are ready to launch, you have people to sell to. It is your way of communicating and connecting with your audience on a deeper level. Sure you have your social media platforms, but if something happens and these platforms go down, you need to have a way to connect with your audience.
In my research, I have found ConvertKit to be a favourite amongst the more established bloggers. It comes with a higher price tag, but the features that it offers are superb.
Price was a huge factor for me, so I actually went with Flodesk. It is a new email marketing system that allows you to send out really pretty emails to your subscriber.
The other unique feature of Flodesk is the fact that the price is locked in no matter how big your email list gets.
In fact, if you sign up using the link below, you get 50% off your monthly fee ($19 per month).
SIGN UP TO FLODESK
Of course, there are also free email marketing options that you can take advantage of. When I did my first blog, I used MailChimp and I loved the fact that it integrated seamlessly with WordPress- no additional coding required.
MailChimp is FREE for the first 1000 subscribers!
I know that I just listed out a lot of names for you, but I do not want you to get stuck on choosing an email platform.
ALL of the options above offer free trials. They are easy to set up and if you do not like it, you can always move to a different platform.
Step 8 – Create A Lead Magnet
A Lead Magnet is something that you create as an incentive for someone to sign up for your mailing list. Some examples of lead magnets include resource page for all of your most used resources, a free course or free eBook, worksheets. The goal is to think of something enticing for your ideal customer. Provide it to them for free (in exchange for their email 😉 )
When I first started my blog, I think I created my first lead magnet about a year into my blogging journey. It really served no purpose and was quite random now I think of it. You want to be strategic when creating your lead magnet. If you have an idea of a product/ service you would like to offer down the line, create a freebie that is related to this.
For instance, if you already know that you want to sell a course on email marketing. Your freebie could be a snippet of the course. Or it could be a template for a email welcome series. If a reader opts in, you know that you have someone who it somewhat interested in that paid product down the line.
Make sure to serve and nurture the relationships of those on your email list. Offer more in value than you expect to receive. When done right, do you see the power of strategic email marketing?
There you have it. I hope this acts as a guide to help you as you start and set up your blog. I know that it is a daunting process, but you have to start by putting one foot in front of the other. If you are reading this, I am confident that your start will be much easier than mine was.
If you have any questions at all about any of the steps mentioned above, feel free to contact me- I am more than happy to help ?
Also, if you have recently started your blog, leave a link in the comment section.. I would love to meet you!