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This guide was created to show you how to create a successful blog in 2019. You see a lot of blogs talking about how you can have a blog up and running in as little as 15 minutes. The truth in this statement is that you can sign up for hosting and get a theme installed very quickly, but laying the foundation for a successful blog takes a little bit more careful planning and time.
If you’re like me when I was starting out, you may be hesitant to pour a lot of money into a blog before you know if you’ll ever see a dime. It’s so important to lay a solid foundation for your blog, but my huge goal is to help you prioritize where to invest your money for the biggest return.
At the end of the day, having the fanciest blog or the most unique graphics are far less important than the amount of ACTION you take towards reaching your goals. Content and serving your audience will always win over a beautiful blog.
I’m sure your mind is spinning with where to start and what to invest in versus what you can do for free. I hope this guide helps you get started!
Ultimate Guide to Starting a Successful Blog in 2019
1) Figure Out Your Niche
This was one of the hardest things for me personally, because I consider myself multi-passionate. I feel like there are several topics that I can talk about extensively, but they don’t all fit together well for a single blog. So, some things to think about:
–Are you passionate enough about the topic to write and speak about it for years? I used to be really passionate about breastfeeding, but I have to say that I would have a hard time talking about it now since it hasn’t been part of my life for several years.
–Is it a topic you could monetize? It’s possible to monetize most anything, but there are definitely niches that make it easier. Blogging for fun is great, but if you want to earn an income from your blog you have to begin thinking about a monetization strategy. This could include sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, providing services, selling product or services, or advertisements. You can learn more about this topic in my post about how bloggers make money.
-Are you filling a need or solving a problem? There are thousands of blogs in basically every niche, so you want to figure out how you will separate yourself from the crowd. Niching down to a VERY specific group and branding yourself are huge in helping you grow your business. It makes it easier to speak directly to your target audience and prospective customers. I chose to niche down to moms for both of my blogs, because I felt like I related to the struggles mothers face much better than those without children. It helps me target specific pain points when I’m creating content and products.
2) Choose + Register a Domain Name
This is the part that can be both fun and challenging. This step is literally where I get stuck every single time, and I end up just picking something and moving forward while doubting my choice. I don’t recommend slowing down your blog creation process getting stuck on a name, so these are some of the techniques I use when I start a blog:
- Think about common words associated with your niche
- Keep it simple and easy to spell
- As friends and family for ideas
- Use blog name generators
- Use your name if it’s available
- Check social media handles to make sure they are free- you may also get ideas based on others’ Instagram handles.
You can choose to register your domain name with the hosting company that you choose in the next step, but I recommend registering your name with a different company. It costs about $10-15 to register your domain name separate from your hosting, but it’s becoming an industry standard to do so. Basically you’re not relying on one company for everything related to your blog. If you ever had issues with your hosting, for example, you would have full control over your domain name separately.
I have registered my domains at a few different companies, but I would now recommend Namecheap. As my domains expire, I’ve been switching them over to Namecheap for renewal. Their platform is easy to use, and their customer service is excellent.
So before we move on to choosing hosting, get your domain name registered!
3) Purchase Blog Hosting + Set Up WordPress
The number one question I hear from people just starting out is if they can get started on a free platform like WordPress.COM instead of paying a self-hosted site with WordPress.ORG. You might be thinking that the names look the same, so how different can they be? Trust me when I tell you that the options and limitations to each are VERY different. If you’re serious about starting a successful blog, choosing hosting with WordPress.ORG is a no-brainer.
If you’re planning to monetize your blog at some point, I highly recommend going with WordPress.org from day 1. The number of plug-ins, widgets, themes, ad-ons, and e-commerce solutions are endless. These things will help you to create a site that’s highly functional and grows with you.
Now that you’ve decided to create a self-hosted blog, let’s talk about what hosting company to choose. This is one of the more important decisions that you will make, because your hosting company is where all of your important files for your blog are kept. If a problem comes up, they’re the ones you rely on to respond quickly and fix it. If your hosting company has a problem or is unresponsive, you have a big problem.
I have been with 3 different hosting companies, so I’ve gotten a taste of the good and the bad. I hands-down recommend hosting your blog with Siteground. The StartUp or the GrowBig plan are perfect for independent bloggers. I personally chose the GrowBig plan so that I could host multiple domains under one hosting plan. If you are just starting out and want to spend as little as possible, the StartUp plan is a great option.
I am going to walk you through the set up process with Siteground step-by-step below. If you choose to go with a different host, just skip the steps below and move on to the WordPress Dashboard section.
Setting Up A Site With Siteground
4) Now Start Building Your Blog
I chose to go with Siteground as my hosting company. I have used 2 other companies in the past, and I was not satisfied with them at all. When you go through my link you’ll get 60% off!
Siteground has been an amazing host for both of my blogs, and their customer service cannot be beat. A bit more on why I chose Siteground:
- You always talk to a human when you contact customer service.
- They’re customer support is available 24/7. So if you’re up working on your blog at 4am because your baby won’t sleep, they can help as needed.
- They offer technical support if you are having a challenge with WordPress.
- They do daily backups of your blog for FREE
- They have an annual uptime of 99.99%, which means they are only down for approximately 5 minutes per year.
- They offer the SuperCacher for FREE, which is huge as most hosting companies do not.This helps your site load faster, helps you rank higher in Google, and your site can handle an unexpected viral post (which we all hope for!).
+ Choose a Plan—I chose the GrowBig plan since I run multiple blogs. You’ll also have multiple domains if you plan to sell products or courses. If you’re on a bootstrap budget as a beginning blogger, the StartUp plan is a great way to try out blogging.
+ Choose Your Domain- If you haven’t purchased your domain through another site, now’s the time to officially decide.
+ Extra Services- If you purchased a domain prior to this, you wouldn’t buy it here. I highly recommend domain privacy or your telephone number and address will be public information and you WILL get spammed (I learned this the HARD way).
Big Timesaving Tip!! If you don’t want to go through the following steps to set up install WordPress, just click on the Live Chat button and let the Siteground team do the work. This process takes about 10-15 minutes on the phone, but a customer service rep will get it up and running for you.
5) Install WordPress
If you decided NOT to go with the Live Chat set up option, this part is for you.
+Click the “My Accounts” tab and click on the red ‘Go to cPanel’ button.
+Click on the blue “Wordpress Installer” button under the WordPress Tools section.
+Click on the blue “Install” button.
Fill out all of the necessary information. Feel free to send me a message if you need help or clarification going through this.
6) Log in to Your Blog
Navigate to http://www.YOURNEWDOMAIN.com/wp-admin and enter the username and password that you chose in the previous step.
You have the option to install your theme here if you have already purchased one. If you have not purchased one or plan to use a free theme, you will leave this blank and can install a theme at a later date.
7) Install Your Theme
If you didn’t have a theme to install in the previous step, now’s the time to begin searching. There are several free options that may work for your brand. If you’d like something different, I recommend:
- Divi from Elegant Themes– I use and love this theme on Let’s Talk Mom Business. It’s totally customizable drag and drop website design. It also has a lot of customizable features that other services charge for like A/B testing and countdown timers.
- Pretty Darn Cute– She creates amazing feminine themes. I used “Pretty Chic” on a previous blog that I ran.
- Restored 316 Designs– This is another place where I have purchased a feminine theme in the past, and the customer service is amazing.
The biggest thing is to ensure that the theme you choose, whether free or paid, is mobile-friendly. I haven’t run across a paid version that isn’t, but you will see free themes that are not mobile-friendly on occasion.
If you’d like some tips on how to decide, shoot me a message so we can chat about it!
8) Set Up Your Social Media Handles
Even if you don’t want to start posting, you want to set up your social media handles so that no one else takes the name you want.
9) Write Your First Blog Posts
- An About Me Page
- Take a good picture or headshot –this can be used across all platforms related to your blog for consistency.
- Links to Social Media Pages- I like the Social Warfare plug-in for easy post sharing.
- Contact Page—I like to include a contact form and my direct email address.
- 5+ Pillar Posts – This is longer content that is highly valuable and won’t need a lot of updating over the years.
Congratulations! You have your blog up and you’re ready to get going towards meeting your goals. Now’s the time to write high-value posts and begin promoting your blog.
Other Posts You Might Like:
- My Favorite Free or Inexpensive Blogging Tools and Resources
- 7 Things You Need to do Before Your Blog Launches
- How to Make Money Blogging: 7 Monetization Strategies
- SEO Basics for New Mom Bloggers
- Why You Need an Email List and How to Start Building One from Day 1
- 7 Must Dos Before Hitting Publish on Your Post