Your Ultimate Guide to Starting a Profitable Blog
Bonjour à tous!
So I now have a bit of experience with blogging and a few people have come to me with questions about starting their own blog. For this reason, I decided to write you a step by step article on how to start your very own blog – I hope it helps! I’ve also created a little free PDF to help you out in starting your blogging journey: you can check it out here: Chloe’s Voyage How-to Make a Blog.
Step 1: Choose your niche
I have read so many articles about the importance of choosing your niche and they’re right: you need to choose a narrow enough niche to be known for a certain topic. You need to be able to garner attention in that area.
This may seem daunting at first, but it’s easy if you just start at the beginning. What you’ll need to do is have a little brainstorm. Grab a pen and paper, and write down all of your ideas for your niche.
It’s important that you pick something that you know you’ll want to continue writing about – something you enjoy writing about. It can start being more broad and develop over time into a narrower niche – or the other way around! The best way to go about it is generally starting narrower and broadening a bit once you’ve developed a following.
Don’t panic if you don’t feel like you’ve got it straightaway – your blog is a place that will develop and grow as you do! My niche has changed a little over the past six months. It’s currently a lifestyle blog for Young Women who travel, love fashion and invest in wellness.
You can start with a broad topic that you love and then brainstorm subtopics within that. Here are a couple of beginning points and subtopics you may want to consider:
Luxury, On a Shoestring, as a single Young Woman, as a couple
Themed makeup, Get Ready with Me’s
Fitness, Yoga routines, Dinner Recipes
Step 2: Pick a name
This one is important to think about as well, as you are not going to want to change it after you’ve developed a following. You’ll also want something relatively timeless, as you may want your blog to change as it grows and you don’t want to be hemmed in by a really specific brand name.
A lot of people include their first name within the name so that their audience knows who they are from the get-go. A fun way to go is to list some things or descriptive topics to do with your niche or things you love, and put one of them with your name.
You’ll also want to check names you come up with to see if they’re already being used. You could always use a different ending if a blog with your ideal name already exists with a .com ending, like .com.au or .co.uk. However, its best to have a unique name for your blog (and brand! – think of your blog as your brand – more on this later) for correct recognition and copyright purposes.
Here are a few ideas for inspiring words:
Step 3: Purchase a Host and a Domain
WordPress & Domain Names
When I first started blogging, I signed up for a free WordPress account. Now, this might be a great way for true hobbyists to set up their blogs and create their content – and the system is easy enough to learn. However, any blogger than wants to be taken seriously and eventually seen as a professional NEEDS to ditch that .wordpress.com ending for their site name.
Look at famous bloggers online like inthefrow.com or acupofstyle.com. Do they have needless words in their website name? No. You need something easy to find for viewers and potential readers. And brands seem to take you more seriously if you have invested your money and decided to become, like me, chloesvoyage.com rather than chloesvoyage.wordpress.com. It is cleaner, prettier, shorter and sweeter.
It is easiest to do this from the get-go when you purchase your hosting. I started at WordPress and had to transfer all my content over, plus lose a few followers who didn’t move over to my new site in the process. I think it only cost me about $10 for the year to own the domain name chloesvoyage.com with Siteground. When you go through the process of purchasing your hosting, you will be able to set up your own domain name.
So, how do you do this? That brings us to:
Purchasing your hosting
What I’m about to outline here may seem a bit basic if you already know about it, but I didn’t when I first started out and I would’ve appreciated an explanation so I’m going to give you one.
When you start your website you will need a hosting service to host your actual site. I like to think of it as the foundations of the building that is your website. Following the setup of your foundations, you then install a blogging platform which is like the bricks and mortar. It is through the blogging platform that you create your blog, your content, and all the extra bells and whistles that go into it.
So, which hosting service do I recommend? The one I use, of course! Siteground is fantastic because it has given me all the features I need, and it is super inexpensive to boot! I opted for the StartUp Plan, which gives me 10GB of Web Space, one website, 24/7 support, free app installs, free email accounts, access to cPanel and a free daily backup (just to name a few!). All of that was only $4.95/month. I know that it might seem better to just do it for free, but honestly this will improve your blogger experience immensely. It becomes your site: you can do so much more customisation. Since I have obtained my own site, my traffic has actually increased a LOT as well, which was an extra perk which I believe occurred due to my ability to make my site look exactly as I wanted it to.
You can have a look at the Siteground deals and choose which one you’d like to purchase here.
Step 4: Install WordPress and other handy plugins
This is when we return to the wonders of WordPress. Whilst I don’t recommend going with a free account with WordPress as your host, it is a FANTASTIC blogging platform. As I mentioned before, your blogging platform is like your bricks and mortar.
When you purchase your Siteground website, you should have the option to install which blogging platform you wish to use. I have found WordPress great for a beginner like myself. I also love that a lot of plugins have special setups for WordPress now, which makes it so much easier to install and use them.
Now, if you’re anything like me (and yes, I was a true noob to begin with), you will be asking yourself “what is a plugin?“. Seriously, all the articles I was reading talked about them and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. No one really explained it so I kind of just figured it out myself. However, I am here to offer you an explanation! A plugin is basically a program you can use for your website in order to be able to do certain things with it.
I think that some examples are in order here. I’ve listed some examples of plugins I use below along with what they are for. Also, a side note here: a widget is something that enables a user to perform a function or access a service – basically the side panel of the blog! They are the beautiful potted-plants adorning the front garden of the house and attracting people inside.
- MailChimp – you use this to manage your email lists and create pop-ups or widgets to encourage subscribers to sign up
- Add a Pinterest Follow Button – this is a little obvious, but it allows readers to follow you on Pinterest
- Akismet Anti-Spam – this allows you to block spam comments
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – you can use this to obtain a greater understanding of your audience
- Yoast SEO – As you may have heard, SEO is SUPER important for your blog. (Side Note: SEO is Search Engine Optimisation – you want to be found!). It is actually so much easier to set up than I thought – part of the reason why it took me so long to do so! You can literally just install the plugin and then the SEO on each article is there at the bottom when you edit. How do you install a plugin? Go to Plugins > Add New. Simple!
Step 5: Create Social Media Pages
As you can see in the picture above, many of my widgets are links to my social media pages. Why are social media pages important? You want readers! Whilst a few people might come across you through WordPress reader or from Google Searches (remember that SEO!), a LOT more people will find you through your Social Media. If there’s any chance of you wanting to work with brands in the future, your Social Media pages are where they’ll find you.
There are a few ways to go about your Social Media. I have found that if you try to keep up with 6 or 7 different forms of Social Media on your own as well as living your life you may actually go insane. I’d say that doing that is only really for famous bloggers with the resources to pay employees to assist with this. I think it is best to focus on 1 or 2 Social Media pages, whilst maintaining the others and posting on them when you can.
Which should you focus on? In my opinion, Pinterest and Instagram! Pinterest is a search engine, and an incredibly popular one at that. I have read many a post about how people obtain a LOT of traffic from Pinterest. Instagram is a great website for growing a community and a following. Utilising both of these well should help you to grow your readership.
You’ll want to make sure that your Social Media pages all have the same name (if possible). That way, you are easily findable. You’ll also want to create a similar brand image across all Social Media channels, so people come to recognise you for your brand.
Step 6: Write your first post!
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to write your first post! You may actually want to write a few posts to put up at once so when people arrive at your blog there will be more than one post.
Have fun, write well, and be real. Never underestimate the importance of good grammar and spelling. But also take a little artistic licence now and then – because you can! It’s your blog!
A Note on Monetising
I think it is best to develop your blog and grow an audience before you start to monetise your blog. It makes much more sense this way. For example, if you have installed Google Adsense and display ads on your site, you aren’t going to gain any money from them if no one is visiting your site to click them. Brands are unlikely to be overly interested if you don’t have any traffic.
This article is how to start a profitable blog: how to BUILD a blog that looks and feels professional and will allow you to grow. Once you have grown and developed your site, that is when the profit starts coming in! If you would like to see another article on methods of monetising your blog, let me know in the comments below!
I hope I’ve helped to give you a good starting point through which you can commence your blog and bring all your glorious ideas into fruition! If you want to see some more detailed posts on different aspects of blogging, let me know in the comments below!