Disclosure: I may be compensated via the links clicked in this article. The opinions expressed are my own and stand by my recommendations. Please read my disclaimer for more info.
Starting a blog is one of the best online businesses you can create today. It’s cheaper than ever to start a blog.
You can set one up for less than the cost of a Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappuccino. You can be up and running in literally less than 30 minutes.
Yet there’s a dizzying array of options, not to mention technical jargon that may sound like a foreign language. Fortunately, I’ve been through this before and can help you.
You see, I’ve owned a web hosting company for over 20 years and developed websites for more than 25 years.
So I might know a thing or two about creating a blog.
I’ve helped Fortune 500 companies such as Chase, IBM, Minolta, GM, Comedy Central, LensCrafters, and Nielsen. BUT I’ve also helped thousands of individuals build a blog… just like you!
Starting a blog is a great because:
- Start as a side hustle — You can easily begin after work part-time and eventually create a full-time business.
- You can work anywhere and at any time — You can work from home or can work anywhere there’s you have an Internet connection.
- The world is your audience — Unlike a brick and mortar business, you can literally make money blogging while you are sleeping, and your customers can be anywhere in the world.
- Cannot be shut down — Unlike social media, which you don’t control, you own a blog and can never be shut down. There are countless stories of social media stars on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media networks getting their account deactivated. Overnight their business is gone and lost everything that was built.
I also know how to create a profitable blog, since I sold mine for $6 million.
Yes, you can make a lot of money blogging. But first things first. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s talk about the first step in your journey, and that’s starting a blog with this free guide.
How to Start a Blog TL;DR
I created this simple guide from my years of experience and formatted it so anyone can understand. Here’s a summarized version:
This how-to can’t cover every aspect of what it takes to create a successful blog, but at least I will get you started on the right path. I have many other articles on my blog to keep you on this path.
Taking that first step is critical (be it losing weight, starting a business, or learning a new language). See yourself with the end result of achieving your dreams. You can do this. It is possible.
So let’s start your journey and create your blog today!
Step 1 – Pick Your Niche
In starting a blog, you have to figure out the topic. In my opinion, picking what to focus on is the hardest part of creating your blog.
If you’re even reading this, I’m assuming you at least have some idea.
Otherwise, why are you here, right? I’m also assuming most of you reading you want to make money blogging. You want to start a side hustle.
But even if you’re just doing this for fun or for another personal reason, what I’m going to tell you will still apply.
However, keep in mind blogging isn’t a business unto itself. A blog is a means to an end, not the end. You’re creating a blog to let the world know your expertise in whatever niche you choose.
If you’re creating a business blog, my first suggestion to you stay close to that niche. Don’t veer too far off that topic. So no stories about your cat on your fitness blog unless you’re somehow teaching cats to get buff.
No products found.
It’s a Transformational Journey
The most popular topics for blogs involve transformation.
You’re writing to tell your story and help others learn how they can transform from where they currently are to your end result.
Typically, these topics include:
- Health and Fitness
- Money and Finance (my previous business)
- Love and Relationships
You can also choose to write about business-to-business related topics, but from my experience, most consumer-based blogs do better. They also tend to be more interesting than a post on some new widget from ACME Inc. that is 2 mm smaller and lighter than before.
How Do You Know You Have a Great Niche?
As in the 1967 movie The Graduate (yeah, I know the movie is old), it’s one word. But no, it’s not “plastics.”
If you’re doing research on your topic and find little to no competition, that’s a bad sign. Google is your friend, and success leaves clues. Use the search engines to tell you what’s popular.
It’s time to do some market research. Using Google Search is a great sign to see if anyone is already writing about the niche you may want to enter. It doesn’t cost you anything to do this, and you can immediately figure out who’s your competition.
Gone are the days of looking for that unique business idea that never been done before. If there are no other businesses in that space, it’s for a good reason. You won’t be able to make money from it.
While possible, rarely today will you find an untapped niche.
What you need to do is find a niche that is moderate to very popular and execute better than the competing blogs.
- Be better at writing content.
- Be better at promoting your blog.
- Be better at monetizing your blog.
- Be better at building an audience.
- Be better with your blog’s graphic design.
- Add value where others are not.
When I started my blog, Investor Junkie, there were already many other investment blogs. In fact, I had a previous business partner tell me it was a horrible idea to start another investment blog.
His answer was, “There are already too many blogs.”
The fact was, all those other sites stunk. I knew I could execute better than them, and I did. It allowed me to sell my blog 8 years later.
The competition spoke in technical terms that the average Joe or Jane couldn’t understand. So I created a website that could speak to that audience and educate them on the new investment services available.
Now that you have your niche sorted out, next up is to host your blog.
Step 2 – Pick Your Domain Name
What’s in a blog name?
Think of it as your calling card. It’s the modern “phone number” on the internet. No one in the world will have the same one as you have (ie. YourBlog.com).
So make it count. Pick one that’s reflective of you and your ideas. It could be your own name (like this very website, LarryLudwig.com).
Domain names can be your company name (like mcdonalds.com). Or it could be some made-up name unique to any language.
It’s your choice!
Being creative and unique is key. You can use my tool below to begin your search.
If you are unsure of a domain name, the easiest one to create is your personal name.
Domain Name Search
Get a domain name free with a Bluehost hosting plan.
Enter without an extension (ie .com) to search multiple top-level names.
Domain Name Tips
- Avoid Niche-Specific Names – Create a generic domain name that can fix multiple sub-niches in your category than very specific (ie. bestwifirouters.com)
- Short and Sweet – Avoid AVeryLongNameThatNoOneCanRemember.com
- Avoid Hyphens and Underscores – Don’t buy domains with hyphens or underscores for your main address. However, I do recommend buying these in addition to your non-hyphenated version so no one else steals your traffic.
- Go for the .com Extension if possible – There are many other extensions (such as .co, .net, .info, etc.). Avoid them like the plague if possible for your domain, since they may confuse inexperienced internet users.
- No Spaces Allowed – You can’t have a space.
- Easy to Spell – Is that with one “L” or two? People are horrible spellers; make sure your it’s simple to spell.
- Easy to Remember – The domain should be catchy and something that others will remember.
- Can the Domain Mean Something Else? – Therapistinabox.com (Therapist In A Box) isn’t a good name.
Bad Domain Names
There is an old marketing story that involves the Chevy Nova automobile. The rumor goes General Motors introduced the popular U.S. vehicle in Mexico but couldn’t understand why the sales were so bad.
They didn’t realize that “no va” in Spanish means “no go”!
Don’t be like GM and get a domain name that can have alternative meanings.
Here’s a list of domains you do NOT want to emulate.
- Itscrap.com – IT Scrap
- Whorepresents.com – Who Represents
- Penisland.net – Pen Island
- Expertsexchange.com – Experts Exchange
- Speedofart.com – Speed Of Art
- Nobjs.org – North Of Boston Jewish Singles
- Gotahoenorth.com – Go Tahoe North
- Lesbocages.com – Les Bocages
- Americanscrapmetal.com – American Scrap Metal
- Masterbaitonline.com – Master Bait Online
- Therapistinabox.com – Therapist In a Box
- Teacherstalking.org – Teachers Talking
- Childrenswear.co.uk – Children’s Wear
Get your mind out of the gutter if you think these stood for other names. This is why you must be careful in your selection.
If you found that perfect name and want to create a business around it, check it’s not already trademarked. Just because the domain is available doesn’t mean someone hasn’t already trademarked the name. If your business is based in the U.S., use the trademark search database.
It used to matter to Google what the domain name was for a topic. So if you wanted to write a blog about bowling balls you would have done best buying a domain name with those two words in it (i.e., bowlingballs.com). You also would have automatically ranked higher for the term “bowling balls.” Today, not so much.
So while it would make sense to buy one related to the topic you picked, you no longer have to pick one to rank in a Google search. You could just as easily use some made-up name.
Step 3 – Get Web Hosting
“Wait…You mean I should pay for hosting?!”
There are many free blogging options, and they’re fine… if you aren’t a business. But using one of these suggests you aren’t professional. It’s pretty much the same as putting an AOL email address on the side of your business van. Don’t do it! Don’t be Karl.
With free blogging services you can’t:
- Use your own domain.
- Run ad banners and limited how you can money.
- Look professional to your visitors.
- Get search traffic because Google won’t see it as a trusted source (most critical).
Successful bloggers never use free blog options.
As I said at the beginning of this how-to, blogging costs about the same as going to Starbucks once per month. Skip that cup of coffee and invest in your business instead!
When I first started over 20 years ago, it would have easily cost hundreds per month, taken hours to set up, and required you to be a computer whizkid.
You can be on your way in under 30 minutes.
Let’s now discuss the basic concepts.
How To Think of Web Hosting?
The best analogy is to think of a domain name as a phone number, and web hosting is renting an apartment. You can rent a basic studio apartment in the city, but you can also rent a five-bedroom mansion out in the countryside with three acres of property.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend going with the studio apartment.
It’s going to be a little cramped, but you’ll save more money. This is called shared web hosting.
Why I Recommend Bluehost
For the beginning blogger, there are many hosting companies to choose from.
Bluehost is a leader in shared web hosting.
They have been around since 2003 and host over 2 million websites.
Bluehost offers these features:
- FREE Domain Name
- FREE SSL Certificate (otherwise known as https://)
- 24/7 Support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
To get started follow the steps below.
First Select Your Bluehost Plan
The first step is picking your Bluehost hosting plan. Starting with the Basic plan is more than enough to get started blogging so select that option.
Next Select Your Domain Name (optional)
The next step is entering your domain name for your account. If you have an existing domain name, you add it to your account.
After all that I’ve mentioned and you still can’t think of a good domain name yet? Don’t get hung up on it. You can get your free Bluehost domain name at any time after your order hosting.
More importantly, if you do have a domain name in mind go with it for now…even if it’s not the perhaps the best name. You are best to start with any domain and if you have to you can always change to another one later. You are best to take action than stand there like a deer in headlights.
In your new business venture, the goal is to keep moving forward. Don’t strive to be perfect, but build something that is “good enough”. To be honest most people won’t type in your domain name anyways but will be via search or links from other sites.
Then Complete Order
The last and final step is to complete your oder with Bluehost. To get the best deal out of Bluehost select the 36-month plan. It’s completely optional, but that will get you the cheapest deal. Keep mind with Bluehost you can:
- Cancel at anytime in the first 30 days
- Makes you more committed in creating your blog.
In the ‘Package Extras’ section make sure your options appear the same way.
- Domain Privacy + Protection (checked) — This will hide your address and your email from spamming your email and home address (which is a very common thing). If you skipped the previous step you will not see this option.
- Codeguard Basic (unchecked) — While you should back up your site, I recommend better options.
- SiteLock Security – Essential (unchecked) — You don’t need this option when starting out.
Step 4 – Setup Your Blog
This is the step most get confused and get stuck on.
In order to create content, you first need software on your web host that allows you to easily make new blog posts.
In internet-speak, software used to create and manage content is called CMS (content management systems). There are hundreds of free and commercial CMS programs. The problem is, which one should you choose?
From over my 25 years of web development experience, I recommend using WordPress. According to Built With, WordPress is 93% of all blogs out there. So it’s obvious WordPress is the best choice..
Bluehost is recommended by the creators of WordPress.
The problem there’s many things you need to do before you can start blogging. For someone who’s never done this before it can take days to figure things out. So I’ve figured to help with this pain point and do all of this for you at no extra charge.
You’ll have tools to get up and running no time and get the help from me.
All you have to do is pay for Bluehost web hosting via my link.
I’m sure you are now thinking… “Ok Larry, what’s the catch?”
No this isn’t a scam. By signing up using one of the links on the page, I get a commission. In the return, I’m giving back by helping you get set up at no additional cost.
No need to figure out which theme to choose or plugins to use.
After you place your Bluehost order, I give you access to my free course.
All you need to do is use use my signup form.
NOTE: You must order from my Bluehost link to get my free bonuses. If you order from another source, I will not install your blog for free.
Step 5 – Create Your First Blog Post
After I get your blog setup you are ready to rock and roll.
The last and most important step. Start writing! You’ve gotten this far. Take action and create some posts on your blog.
Blog posts are how Google finds about your blog and it’s content. Search engines like Google account for 60-80% of all traffic to a blog post. So it’s important you write content and on a consistent basis.
What specific content you should write is a whole different subject that I won’t cover here.
Like any new venture, this is a long game. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see instant results. I wouldn’t expect real results for the first two or three months until you get in your groove.
- Write to your audience’s needs, not yours (however, they might be the same).
- Research popular search terms.
- Write on a regular basis. Start off with a goal. I recommend a new post once a week.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Write epic posts that have at least 2,000 words of in-depth insight, rather than a whole bunch of useless 400-word articles.
- Promote. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Post on social media, figure out SEO for bloggers and create a mailing list so your readers can receive updates.
If you made it till the end, you are one of the selected few. You have completed the first step in a journey that can be life-changing for you.
You can continue by:
- Join my Facebook Group (Ready, Set… Blog!) — Talk to me and other experts about blogging.
- Take my SEO for Writers course — You need to be found in Google my course can help you with that.
- Find out how to make money blogging.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
I do not recommend using the free services. They are too limited in functionality, will have ad banners where the host makes money and limit the type of content you can create.
I recommend you purchase other WordPress plugins and services. I detail all of the expenses in the article How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog.
How do bloggers get paid?
How much money can you make from a blog?
Is blogging worth it in 2021?
A blog (with email) should be your main hub where you create content.
Yes you should also use social media, but keep in mind you do not own social media you are only renting. You will always own a blog and have control over it.