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How to Write a Performance Review
Employers and employees find value in performance reviews. The feedback can range from guidance to praise, thus allowing for both parties to engage in discussion regarding what’s working and what isn’t. It’s for that reason leaders need to learn how to write a performance review using these guidelines.
Regular Feedback is Critical
While a performance review typically has a bi-annual schedule, that doesn’t mean regular feedback in-between those dates shouldn’t be happening. Therefore, look up how to write a performance review sample, and use that as your springboard for regular feedback. In doing so, your employees are sure they won’t be hearing about their performance during their first review. When looking up how to write a sample performance review, you’ll find that they’re comprised of many fundamental components including communication, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem-solving, accuracy and quality of work, dependability, and attendance, and meeting deadlines.
Utilize the Employee’s Job Description
When you’re unsure where to begin, utilize the employee’s job description as a springboard for their performance evaluation sample. In doing so, you’ll can determine if they satisfied all the requirements and responsibilities of the job description’s listings. You’ll also be able to determine if there were aspects of the job description where they were lacking. Be sure the job description is up-to-date before working on the performance review. That way, you’re sure the position hasn’t undergone any changes since the job description was written.
Use Key Points
When writing the performance review, focus only on key points. For example, if the review is about whether or not the employee is achieving their goals, focus on those key points. Examples of performance goals samples include that the employee must complete a certain level of tasks before being considered for a promotion. Some sample resolutions if the employee is not achieving their goals would include that they would implement a strategy for meeting their goals and then set up another check-in with you to assess their progress.
Request Feedback from Colleagues
When writing the performance review, it’s essential to solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with them. This action is often referred to as obtaining 360-feedback because you’re receiving feedback for the employee from his coworkers, boss, and any other relevant staff. Use of coworker feedback samples includes asking employees what they like or appreciate about their coworker, when they thought their coworker did a great job, or what they would like to see change about a situation.
Keep Track of Performance
When learning how to write performance reviews, keeping track of an employee’s performance is part of achieving that goal. You’ll be working with sample performance comments from other employees, as well as logging their attendance, following policies, how well their meeting deadlines, and if they’re achieving their goals. When working on these tasks, you may need a logbook sample that includes information about their daily job performance. For example, the ledger sheet sample could consist of information about if accidents occurred if it’s a factory or cash overages if you’re in the retail industry. It’s essential to keep policies on-hand, like a cash management policy sample or sample IT policies, for example, to ensure they’re up-to-date and ready to present during the performance review.
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How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors
Note from Jane: This post was first published in 2012. I continue to update and expand it so that it remains relevant for today’s author.
On April 21, I’m offering a live class about blogging strategies that work.
This will be a strange way to begin a guide to blogging, but I want to save you time, trouble, and heartache.
The average author does not benefit much from blogging.jo
Yet blogging continues to interest authors, and be discussed, as a way to market and promote. Why? Because blogging does work, if certain conditions are met. The problem is that few authors meet those conditions. This post will delve into what it means to blog successfully and in a meaningful way for an author’s long-term platform and book marketing efforts.
For clarity: I define “blogging” as publishing material to a site that you own and control—usually your author website. Blogging is sometimes conflated with writing for other websites or blogs, but that’s not what I’m discussing in this post.
Another complication : “Blogging” has become a somewhat dated term. Some people use it to describe a practice that isn’t all that common now: keeping a rather personal “log” or diary of one’s thoughts and experiences. Blogging as discussed here is best described as online writing you do for free, or—better yet—an online content strategy where you create interesting articles, columns, interviews, etc. that get shared on social and discovered through search.
What it takes to become an effective blogger
If you approach blogging as something “lesser than” your book writing or published writing, you’re more likely to fail at it. While blogging can be less formal, less researched, and more geared for online skim-reading or social sharing, to do it well requires the same kind of practice and skill as crafting a novel. You get better at it the more you do it, but I see many authors give up before they’ve put in enough hours to understand the medium.
Furthermore, to stick with blogging long enough for it to pay off, you have to actually enjoy what it means to blog, and how online writing can be different from print.
If you treat the practice seriously, all the content that you generate for your blog can have another life, in another format or within another publication. For example, the best of my blog content is condensed into a book, Publishing 101 . That required a lot of editing and reformulation (online writing can’t be dumped into print without a lot of work), but it reflects the value and depth of what appears on my blog.
Blogging is often straightforward for nonfiction writers, less so for novelists
Nonfiction writers and experts have it easy: their subject matter lends itself to blogging, especially if they’re teaching workshops or regularly interacting with their target readers. Such writers probably know off the top of their head the questions that get asked most frequently, the topics that are most popular, and the problems that surface again and again. This is invaluable starting fodder for a successful blog: knowledge of one’s audience .
Fiction writers can have successful blogs as well, especially if they’re able to focus on a specific topic, theme, or subgenre. But it can be most difficult for unpublished novelists to gain traction with a blog; only after the novelist has built a name for herself does a blog readership tend to develop. With nonfiction authors, the opposite is the case: blogging can help build a platform that leads to a book deal.
This is why advice about blogging can be so contradictory and confusing: much depends on what genre you’re writing in and who you’re writing for.
Consistency is critical for effective blogging
There are two types of consistency: frequency and subject matter.
Frequency: To gain any kind of momentum, you should commit to 2-4 posts a week. Some people may be able to get by on one post a week, but it’s a struggle to gain traction without volume. Ideally, starting out, you should shoot for several times per week. The longer you blog, and the more of an audience you build up, the more you can ease back on frequency.
Subject matter: Think about this in terms of your headlines for your blog posts. If you look at a month’s worth of your blog headlines, they should convey a strong message about what you cover on your blog and who it’s for. A potential reader should be able to easily tell if they’re going to benefit from or enjoy reading your posts on an ongoing basis.
Unfortunately, authors have trouble staying focused and disciplined on one topic or subject matter, often because they get bored or they think readers will get bored. But again, it’s hard to gain traction if you’re switching it up all the time and not consistent in what you offer.
If you’re interested in blogging, but worry about the time commitment, then consider creating a multi-contributor blog, where several authors in the same genre (or targeting similar audiences) band together. That helps reduce the burden as well as increase the size of your audience starting out—since more people will be marketing and promoting the blog.
It takes patience to build a readership unless you’re already well-known
It may take people months before they even become aware that your blog exists. This isn’t necessarily through any fault of your own; there’s an incredible amount of noise around us, and enormous demands on everybody’s attention.
But if you make a continual series of impressions over a long period of time on the same topic, then it starts to click: “Oh, this person is blogging, and they’re regularly covering this topic.” Some writers assume, “Oh, everybody knows I’m blogging because I posted about it,” but no. That’s not the case, and that’s why consistency is so important.
Only about 10% of your readers (or even fewer) will make themselves known to you or engage with you on your blog, so it takes a while before you reach a tipping point, where there’s a concrete indication of growing activity or interest.
What should you blog about?
The chain of events goes something like this:
- An author’s book nears its publication date (or perhaps the author is attempting to secure a traditional book deal). She knows she needs to market and promote the book and/or build a platform.
- She finds (or hears) advice that blogging is a good way to accomplish #1.
- She wonders: What do I blog about?
My unproven theory: We have many authors blogging poorly because of this series of events.
So how does this answer the question, “What do I blog about?”
Well, if you have to ask, maybe you shouldn’t be blogging. In that, my position is somewhat stubbornly Zen: if the action is too forced or contrived, the blog may be doomed from the start. The best bloggers have rarely been told to go do it. It isn’t an activity authors should be dragged into, kicking and screaming. Nor should you feel like it’s a burden to come up with ideas; ideally, your problem is too many ideas.
However, I don’t want to be totally defeatist here! I want to encourage experimentation. If you can approach blogging because it kind of does sound like fun, then let’s spark your imagination as to what you might blog about.
Here are several models to consider, based on how challenging I think they are (assuming you want your blog to “pay off”).
Easy: The literary citizenship model
If you’re not familiar with literary citizenship, you can read more about my views on it here . It basically means celebrating and bringing attention to authors, writing, and books—the things you presumably love and want to support. This model is ideal for unpublished novelists, memoirists, and poets.
Blogging with the intent to promote literary citizenship opens up a lot of post possibilities, including:
- Informal book recommendations or reviews
- Q&As or interviews with people in the community (usually authors)
- “What I’m Reading Now” types of posts and other “media consumption” lists where you talk about what stuff you’re watching, saving, listening to, collecting, etc.
Key benefits: You’re building a great network of contacts as you build some excellent content at your site. Every author loves to get attention (or find a new fan) for their work.
Where the difficulty lies: Lots of literary citizenship activity exists online, in many forms. To get a large readership will require a unique angle or spin—although this is true of any blogging effort.
Easy-Medium: Write for other writers
This is what I do. Many authors have considerable advice and insight for others in the field—and the audience of aspiring writers and established authors is massive. The downside: Connecting with other writers doesn’t necessarily grow your readership; you end up in an echo chamber with other writers.
Key benefits: If you already teach writing or mentor other writers, you probably have some content you can re-purpose to fuel your early blog posts. Initially, you’ll have no shortage of ideas, and your first readers will share your insightful advice on social media and help you build a traffic base.
Where the difficulty lies: In my experience, burn out. After a few years, it’s tough to keep things fresh and interesting. Your readers, as they advance, may also outgrow your blog.
Easy-Medium: Write in your field of expertise
This is the best option for anyone writing and publishing nonfiction. It works beautifully with how-to or prescriptive nonfiction categories, and it can also work with memoir as well. For example, if you’re writing a memoir about addiction or caring for aging parents, your blog can offer information and advice (and stories) for people going through the same thing.
Key benefits: You’ll likely be intimately aware of your readership’s needs and can quickly come up with content that interests them. If you teach or speak, you’ll also have content that can be readily repurposed for a blog.
Where the difficulty lies: Some categories are fiercely competitive, such as travel and cooking. You may have to do some work in coming up with an angle or voice that stands out.
Medium: Behind the scenes
You can write about the research, news stories, or current events that play a role in the construction of your books or other work. You might also develop competitions and events that focus on reader engagement, such as having readers name your novel’s characters, choose the best cover, etc. Presumably, readers will enjoy knowing more about the context and ideas that affect your writing and being involved in your future work.
Key benefits: For most writers, it feels natural to discuss the things that influence their work, and you will likely uncover and engage your most important fans.
Where the difficulty lies: You may run out of material quickly, or not have a very high frequency of posts. Or you may despise the idea of involving readers in your work. For unpublished novelists, this approach is challenging since people aren’t familiar with your work and may not care about your process (yet).
Difficult: Personal essay or daily life
Some writers are successful with informal missives that comment on what’s happening day to day or that reflect on their personal life. This could also involve regular posting of specific media, such as photos or videos.
Key benefits: It can be a good creative outlet or practice, especially if you’re committed to blogging on a schedule. Fans of your work may enjoy the intimacy (though some authors prefer to have an air of mystery).
Where the difficulty lies: Not everyone can write entertainingly about themselves (and some don’t want to). For writers who aren’t yet known, it will be hard (if not impossible) to interest other people in the details of your personal life, unless you’re a superlative writer.
This is not an exhaustive list of what you could blog about, but it gives you an idea of the most common options.
Do think through how can you bring your own voice or perspective to a topic, theme, or subject matter without repeating what’s already out there. This is easier said than done. It took me 18 months to find the right angle—to realize I do best when I focus on business advice and digital media topics for authors.
The most successful blogs have a very focused angle and appeal to a very specific audience. This makes it easier to attract attention and build a community around common interests or perspectives.
No one should blog in a vacuum
Before you start a blog, identify the other key people already blogging in your area—the influencers. Start reading and sharing their content, and comment at their blog. Eventually, if possible, you should guest blog for them. See the other bloggers not as competitors, but as community members who may eventually become supporters of your work. If your blog is high-quality, and generates conversation, they’ll be likely to recommend you or send you traffic. So identify the notable community players, or the people who you’ll want to build relationships with over time.
Choose the right blogging platform
The best platform to use is whatever you use for your author website—do not be tempted to build your blog somewhere else. You want everything under the same umbrella for search engine optimization and long-term marketing strategy. So, for example, if you have an author website on SquareSpace, then start your blog there; don’t start one over at WordPress or Blogspot.
If your website platform does not support blogging, then it may be time to switch platforms. I talk about the basics of author websites here.
If you don’t have an author website, or if you’re doing a multi-contributor blog, then I recommend using WordPress. It’s well-supported, continually developed, and runs about 20% of all websites today. Here’s my step-by-step guide to hosting your own website or blog , which doesn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes.
Before you launch the blog
Before you start, consider the following.
- Blog title and tagline. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, but it should be clear to new visitors what your blog is about and what they’re going to get from it. If your blog title is metaphorical, clever, or not clear about the blog’s subject matter (or if it’s just under your name), add a tagline that tells and sells the angle. Even Michael Hyatt, who is very well-known at this point, has a tagline: “Your Leadership Mentor.”
- Readability. If your blog is meant to primarily be read, then don’t hamper readability by making the text too small, too tight or (worst of the worst) white type on a black background. Be aware that ads or a hard-to-navigate layout can also hamper readability and drive readers elsewhere.
- About page or bio. If your blog content is interesting, people will want to know more about the person behind it. Don’t make them search for this. Create a separate page, and be sure to include a way to contact you.
- Comments. You should develop a policy for how you’ll handle or moderate discussions. Will you approve every comment before it goes live? Will comments be automatically published if they’re not spam? An open commenting policy that doesn’t require sign-in helps you get more comments, but you’ll want to make sure you’re receiving email alerts when new comments are posted, just in case you need to delete anything spammy or inappropriate that gets through. Fortunately, major blog platforms (like WordPress) help you streamline your comment system to automatically eliminate spam activity. If you have any trouble, then install Akismet , the industry-standard plugin to eliminate spammy comments.
How to craft quality posts that get read and shared
Quality can be a squishy term; much depends on what your audience or readership considers “quality” or what kind of content is engaging to them. The better you know your audience, the better your posts will be.
However, here’s how to ensure that your posts are more likely to be engaged with and shared.
- Don’t be afraid of length. For some strange reason, people started thinking that ideal blog posts are 500 words, even less. That’s simply not true. In fact, when it comes to search ranking, Google looks at the substantive nature of the content and will rank your content lower if it appears shallow. Social media is typically better for quick shares, brief commentary, or short statements—or anything that doesn’t merit more than a few hundred words. The most successful posts at this site are regularly longer than 2,000 words. However, the longer the content, the more readable it needs to be, which brings us to the next point.
- Improve scannability. Most people skim online content and make a very quick judgment call as to whether it merits closer attention. If so, your content may be saved for later, or readers will slow down and read the content from beginning to end. To make your content easily scanned, add subheads, plenty of paragraph breaks (one-line paragraphs are acceptable), bulleted lists or numbered lists, bold lead-ins—whatever it takes to make your posts more easy to grasp and see if it’s valuable.
- Add at least one image. You’ll notice that I always begin posts with an image. Psychologically, this typically improves the perceived value of the post—plus these images get pulled and used when the post is shared on social media. It’s OK if the image isn’t directly related to the content; it can be metaphorical, as long as it’s attention-grabbing or colorful. Blending in is the opposite of what you want. (You can find plenty of free-to-use images at VisualHunt .)
- Ask a question at the end. If you want to get people active in the comments, you’ll do better if you end the post on a question, where you ask people to share something specific about their knowledge or experience. Active comments are generally seen as a good thing because it increases the time people spend on your content, which is a signal of engagement for search engines and thus contributes to better search ranking for your blog.
Your post headlines are critical
If people saw only your post headline (e.g., on Twitter), would they feel compelled to click on it? Remember, the headline is often the only thing people see when they’re surfing online and looking at search results, so it’s one of the biggest factors in whether your post gets read. Here are a few considerations:
- Is the headline specific and clear? There’s very little room to be clever, cute, or abstract with blog post headlines. Plus, for search engine optimization, you need to be thinking of keywords that belong in that headline that will help people find your post.
- Is the headline intriguing or provocative? I’m not advocating clickbait headlines, but it doesn’t hurt to create mystery, intrigue, or play on people’s curiosity. You cross the line into clickbait when the headline doesn’t deliver on the promise made, or if the headline is overly sensationalized to get clicks.
- Does the headline offer a benefit? All of us have limited time and energy to consume content online, so we’re always thinking WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?)
Here are some actual blog post headlines that I helped an author improve, to be more specific and attuned to keyword search.
- Original headline: Total Randomness, Mostly Related To Books That Aren’t Mine
- Improved headline: My Summer Reading List: Books I’ve Loved (and Books Still Waiting)
- Original headline: Turn, Turn, Turn
- Improved headline: What If You’re Dreading the Change of Seasons?
- Original headline: Wanna Have Coffee?
- Improved headline: Overcoming the Obstacles That Prevent You From Meditating
Create cornerstone content
Cornerstone content refers to any article, post, or page at your site that draws new readers to your blog consistently, usually through search or by referral from other sites. Cornerstone content often is a comprehensive, definitive piece that tackles a frequently asked question, issue, or problem—or features a very popular author or thing in popular culture that is searched for often.
The cornerstone content on this blog can be seen right under “Most Popular Posts”—each one points to my 101 posts on how to get published.
Sometimes, cornerstone content might be a manifesto or download in PDF form. Chris Guillebeau is well-known for 279 Days to Overnight Success that drew thousands (if not millions) to learn about his blog and his message.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, then this probably comes naturally: Put together a 101 guide, FAQ, or tutorial related to your topic or expertise—something people often ask you about. (My most visited resource on this site is Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published .)
If you’re a novelist, this strategy may take some creative thinking. Consider the following:
- If your book is strongly regional, create an insider’s guide or travel guide to that particular region. Or think about other themes in your work that could inspire something fun: a collection of recipes; a character’s favorite books, movies, or music; or what research and resources were essential for completing your work.
- Create a list of favorite reads by genre/category, by mood, or by occasion. Tie into current events or “look-alike” media whenever you can; for example, if you write romance and you know your readers love The Bachelor , create a list of books that fans of the show would enjoy reading.
- If you have a strong avocational pursuit (or past profession) that influences your novels, create FAQs or guides for the curious.
Having even one piece of cornerstone content greatly reduces your burden to attract readers to your site through brand-new content. If it does its job, the cornerstone piece will bring a steady stream of new readers over a period of weeks and months, some of whom will become loyal followers.
If you’re very serious and strategic about this, I recommend reading How to Increase Website Traffic .
Make it easy to browse and share your posts
Some blogs have such a minimal design that it’s difficult to see the bigger picture of what the blog offers. Even though there are benefits to a minimalist design, I get more engagement by having a sidebar that offers tools to navigate the history of my blog and the hundreds of posts that live here.
- Calendar/archive. People new to your blog may want to dig around in your older posts. Make it easy for them to do so by offering a post calendar or archive.
- Category search. Blog content should be organized into 5-10 different categories that are of high interest to your audience. For example, if people read an interview or book review on your site that interests them, they may want to browse all previous interviews or book reviews. Make this easy by categorizing the posts correctly and making the categories visible with posts.
- Most popular posts. For new readers of your blog, it’s helpful to have a consistent box or sidebar that tells readers what your most popular posts are.
- Sharing functionality. Make it easy for people to share your posts on Facebook, Twitter (or just about anywhere else) by adding sharing buttons to the bottom of your posts. This functionality is usually built-in to most blogs.
Improve your content’s discoverability through search engines (SEO)
Search engine optimization really requires its own post. However, you’ll be doing a good job with your SEO if:
- You use WordPress or Squarespace, which are already optimized for search.
- You make sure each post is categorized and tagged appropriately.
- You think about how readers would search for your content, and incorporate those search keywords into your post headline, post subheads, and more. If your site is self-hosted, then install WordPress SEO by Yoast , which will give you both the tools and education you need to optimize your content for search.
If your site is self-hosted , then you should have Google Analytics installed. If not, get started today—it’s a free service and easy to set up. After Google Analytics has collected at least 1 month of data, take a look at the following:
- How do people find your blog? Through search? Through your social media presence? Through other websites that link to you?
- What search words bring people to your site?
- What pages or posts are most popular on your site?
By knowing the answers to these questions, you can better decide which social media networks are worth your investment of time and energy (at least as far as blog promotion is concerned), who else on the web might be a good partner for you (who is sending you traffic and why?), and what content on your site is worth your time to continue developing (what content will bring you visitors over the long run?).
Create lists or round-ups on a regular basis
A very popular way to make people aware of your blog is to link to others’ blogs. If you can do this in a helpful way, it’s a win for you, for your readers, and for the sites you send traffic to.
In the writing and publishing community, weekly link round-ups are very common. (See Elizabeth Craig for one example.) You can create such lists or round-ups on any theme or category that interests you enough to remain dedicated, enthusiastic, and consistent for the long haul—at least six months to a year, if you want to see a tangible benefit.
Run regular interviews with people who fascinate you
Believe it or not, it’s rare to come across an informed, thoughtful, and careful interviewer and interview series.
Think about themes, hooks, or angles for an interview series on your site, and run them on a regular basis—but only as frequently as you have time to invest in a well-researched and quality interview. Such series also offer you an excellent way to build your network and community relationships, which has a way of paying off in the long run.
Be a guest on other sites
Whenever you guest or appear on other websites, that’s an opportunity to have multiple links back to your own site and social network accounts.
A meaningful guest post means pitching sites that have a bigger audience than you, but they should also have a readership that’s a good match for your work. If you need a strong introduction to guest posting how-to, visit this excellent Copyblogger post. If you’re not the type to write guest posts, then consider proactively offering yourself up to be interviewed as part of other bloggers’ interview series.
Whenever you make an appearance on another site, always promote the interview on your own social networks and create a permanent link to it from your own website.
Above all: You need patience
Here’s what my blog traffic looked like in its early years.
- December 2009. This is when I started using WordPress on this domain. I posted 3-4 times per month.
- Mid-2010. This is when my traffic reached about 100 visits a day.
- January 2011: I began a weekly series at my site, unrelated to writing and publishing, that featured mother-daughter interviews.
- July 2011: This is when I began regularly blogging about writing and publishing at JaneFriedman.com (rather than at Writer’s Digest).
After about two years of consistency, I reached about 60,000 visits per month.
Jane Friedman ( @JaneFriedman ) has nearly 25 years of experience in the media & publishing industry. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet , the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses ( How to Publish Your Book ), she is the author of The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), which received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as Digital Book World and Frankfurt Book Fair, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
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COACHING + PUBLISHING
FORMATTING + DESIGN
How to Start a Blog in 2023: A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide
by Susan Shain | Feb 15, 2021
Have you always wanted to start a blog?
If you’re a writer, it makes perfect sense: You can use a blog to serve as your author platform, market your work or find new freelance writing clients. Blogging is also a great way to experiment with your writing style.
This is the age of content — people are always looking for more to absorb, and your unique voice has a place on the vast, limitless interwebs, too.
How to Start a Blog
Starting a blog can feel overwhelming. But the truth is, it’s doable for anyone with the right guidance.
We’re here to help you navigate every step so you can start a blog stress-free — from choosing your domain name to publishing your first post.
This is a long post, so here’s a quick summary of what we’ll cover:
- Pick a domain name (URL) and see if it’s available (to cut to the chase, check URL availability here )
- Purchase a hosting package and install WordPress
- Choose a theme and blog header
- Write your blog pages
- Install plugins and widgets
- Promotion, including building an email list
Ready to dig in?
Here’s how to start a blog.
1. Pick a domain name (and get it for free)
First things first when you start a blog: choosing a domain name. Where are people going to find you online?
This can be one of the most enjoyable parts of getting started with a blog; it’s such a rush when the URL you want is available and you can buy it right away.
But if your first choice isn’t available, if someone else is already using that URL, it can be stressful to come up with another domain that feels right. After all, this is a permanent home on the Internet you’re creating!
The truth though, is that you can always change this down the line if you decide to go in a different direction with your URL. The most important part isn’t choosing the perfect domain, it’s choosing one and getting started.
One of the best places to start is using a variation of your name. Especially as a writer, because you are your brand. Your name will never go out of style no matter how your interests change over time.
If you’re feeling good about your choice, you can also visit Bluehost directly and purchase your domain there. The company offers a $2.95/month plan for The Write Life readers.
Even if yourname.com isn’t available, you might find it with a different ending, such as yourname.co or yourname.io. If you’re super committed to this whole writing thing, you can also try tacking a “writer” onto the end of your name, as in susanshainwriter.com.
Alternatively, you could opt for a creative blog name — but remember your interests and target audience may change as the years go by. When I started blogging in 2012, I focused solely on adventure travel and named my blog Travel Junkette. After expanding my niche and services, I switched to susanshain.com because my name won’t change, no matter what I’m blogging about.
Although it wasn’t a huge deal, I wish I’d started out using my name as the domain, and would advise you not to make the same mistake I did.
Once you’ve settled on your domain (or domains, if you’re like many of us writerpreneurs!), don’t wait to buy it. Even if you’re not ready to start a blog right now, domains are cheap — and you don’t want to risk losing the one you want.
If you’re really having a hard time picking a URL, review our more detailed post on how to choose a domain name .
Before you actually click “purchase,” though, you might want to read the next step; we’re going to tell you how to get a domain name for free.
2. Purchase a hosting package
Now it’s time to choose a web host.
What’s a web host? Your hosting company does all the technical magic to make sure your site actually appears when people type your domain name into their browser. In other words, it’s pretty important.
While we use MediaTemple to host The Write Life, it’s typically better for blogs with lots of traffic. You probably don’t need that if you’re just starting out, so go with a cheaper option instead.
For a new blog, try Bluehost . It’s used by top bloggers around the world and is known for its customer service and reliability.
The Write Life has a partnership with Bluehost whereby they allow our readers to purchase hosting for $2.95/month. The cool part is that INCLUDES your domain.
Oh, and pro freelancer money tip : Put your purchase (and all the purchases listed in this post) on a business credit card and keep the receipts; as investments in your business, they’re tax-deductible.
3. Install WordPress
We’re almost through with the techy stuff, we promise!
You have several different choices for blogging platforms, but we like WordPress best. Not only is it totally free, but it’s easy to learn, offers a wide variety of themes, and has an online community and abundance of plugins that make blogging accessible to everybody.
You can read comprehensive instructions for installing WordPress on your new blog here. Once you’ve completed that, you can officially log into your blog and start making it look pretty.
4. Put your site in “maintenance mode”
While working on your blog’s appearance, you might want to put up an “under construction” sign to greet visitors.
You don’t want any potential clients or readers to Google your name and find a half-finished site. (You may think you’re going to finish setting up your blog tomorrow, but we all know how writers procrastinate when there are no looming deadlines!)
To set up maintenance mode, just download this plugin . On your maintenance page, you could even include a link to your email newsletter or social media profiles so visitors have an alternate way of getting in touch with you. When you’re ready to share your blog with the world, simply deactivate and delete the plugin.
5. Choose a blog theme
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! Your theme determines what your blog looks like, and you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Yes, there’s a wide range of free themes , but if you’re serious about blogging, the customization and support offered by paid themes can’t be beaten.
Here at The Write Life, we use Genesis , which is one of the most popular premium themes available. Another popular and flexible theme is Thesis . On my first blog, I used Elegant Themes , which has a wide selection of beautiful themes at a reasonable price. All of these themes come with unlimited support — essential when you’re starting a blog.
If you want your blog to be a marketing tool for your writing services, you might look for a theme with a static home page (like mine ). That way, your site will look professional and appealing to everyone — whether they’re there to read your latest post or hire you for a project.
Whatever you do, make sure your theme is “responsive,” which means it automatically adjusts to look good on any device. Since more than half of website visits are made on mobile phones, this is crucial for your blog’s aesthetic.
6. Create a blog header
I think it’s always worth getting a custom header for a new blog.
You can ask your favorite graphic designer, create one with Canva , or order one on Fiverr . I’ve had great luck getting headers and other graphics designed in this online marketplace, where thousands of people offer their services for $5 per gig.
7. Write your blog pages
Though you’re starting a blog and not a static website, you’ll still want a few pages that don’t change. (“Pages” are different from “posts,” which are the daily/weekly/monthly entries you publish on your blog.)
Here are some pages you may want to create:
The about page is frequently touted as one of the most-viewed pages on blogs, so don’t overlook it. Include a professional headshot and brief bio, and explain why you’re blogging and why the reader should care. What makes you an expert? How can you help them?
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through; blogging is a personal affair!
You want your readers to be able to get in touch with you, right? Then you’ll need a contact page.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just tell your readers how best to reach you. Avoid putting your full email address on here, as spambots could get ahold of it. To work around that, you can use a contact form plugin, which we’ll link to below, or simply write something like “yourname AT yoursite DOT com.”
It’s your blog, so flaunt what you’ve got! Show your prospective clients and readers that you deserve their time and attention with examples of your past and present work.
You can see examples of great writer portfolios here; personally, I love Sara Frandina ’s.
Do you have a list of favorite writing tools? Or maybe books that have inspired you? Readers love resources pages, and for bloggers, they can also be a clever way to earn income from affiliate sales .
Check out The Write Life’s resources page for inspiration.
You probably won’t need this at first, but a “start here” page is smart once you have a decent amount of content. It’s a great opportunity to express your mission and highlight your best work, so your readers can see the value of your blog without wading through months or years worth of posts.
Joanna Penn does a good job with hers, encouraging readers to download her ebook and then choose a topic that interests them.
Work with me
If you’re using your new blog to sell your writing services, this page is essential. Be clear about how you can help people and how they can get in touch with you. You could even list packages of different services, like Lisa Rowan does on her site.
Once you’ve set up all your pages, make sure they’re easily accessible from the home page. If they’re not showing up, you may have to adjust your menus .
8. Install plugins
Plugins are great for everybody, especially those of us who are less comfortable with the technical side of things. Think of them as apps for your blog; they’re free tools you can install to do a variety of things.
Though having lots of plugins can undermine the functionality and security of your blog, there are several we recommend everyone look into:
Contact Form 7 : If you want to avoid putting your email address on your contact page, use this plugin, which is frequently updated and receives good reviews.
Hello Bar : Want to get readers to sign up for your free newsletter? Or want to announce the release of your latest book? This plugin allows you to create a banner for the top of your blog.
Mashshare : These share buttons are similar to the ones you see here on The Write Life. Another minimalist option is Simple Share Buttons Adder . It doesn’t matter which plugin you choose; it’s just important to make social sharing easy for your readers.
Google Analytics Dashboard : This plugin tracks the visitors to your site so you can see what people are interested in and how they’re finding you.
Akismet : One of the headaches of blogging is the plethora of spam comments. This plugin will help you reduce the number of spammers that sneak through.
WP Super Cache : Another plugin that’s not sexy, but is important. Caching allows your blog to load faster, pleasing both your readers and Google.
Yoast SEO : This all-in-one SEO plugin helps you optimize your posts so you can get organic traffic from search engines.
9. Install widgets
If your blog has a sidebar, you might want to spruce it up with a few widgets, aka small boxes with different functions. That said, the minimalist look is in — so skip this step if you want to keep your sidebar simple.
Here are some ideas:
You’ve probably seen this on a lot of blogs; it’s a box in the upper right-hand corner welcoming you to the site. Check out The Write Life managing editor Jessica Lawlor’s blog for a good example.
Social media icons
Make it easy for your readers to follow you on social media by including links to your profiles in the sidebar. Your theme will probably include this feature, but if not, here’s a basic tutorial .
Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you might want to highlight your most popular posts in the sidebar, which you can do with a basic text widget. We do this here on The Write Life so you can find our most popular content quickly and easily.
10. Purchase backup software
Don’t overlook this important step just because you don’t have content yet! It’s better to install this software early than to start blogging and forget until it’s too late.
Free options exist, but I’ve never had good luck with them — and for something as important as my entire blog, I don’t mind paying a little extra. (It’s a business write-off, remember?!) Popular backup options include VaultPress , BackupBuddy , and blogVault .
11. Start your email list
I know, I know, you haven’t even started blogging and I already want you to build an email list. Trust me; you’ll be so glad you did.
Alexis Grant , founder of The Write Life, agrees with me. “If I could go back and do one thing differently for my business, it would be starting a newsletter earlier,” she writes. “My email list is THAT important for my business, bringing traffic to my website, buys of my products and opportunities I never could’ve expected.”
Even if you don’t have anything to send, just start collecting email addresses. The best way to entice people to sign up is by offering a free ebook or resource. For a great example, check out The Write Life’s Freelance Writer Pitch Checklist .
My favorite email newsletter platform is Mailchimp . It’s intuitive, fun, and free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
A lot of creatives also use ConvertKit . It also offers a free plan, and some people say it’s easier to use than MailChimp. If you want more options, browse our list of news of tools for building your email list .
Once you’ve created your list, encourage your readers to sign up by adding a subscription box to your sidebar, and maybe even install a plugin like PopupAlly . Or, if you use ConvertKit, they have pop-up options built-in.
If you really want to start a blog, you’re going to need to… start writing your posts .
We recommend creating an editorial calendar, even if you are coordinating with no one other than yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it can even be scribbled out in a notebook.
What’s important is that you plan your posts in advance, so you can keep track of your ideas and stick to a schedule. It’s also a chance to assess and tweak your content strategy. What do you want to write about? How will you draw readers in?
Don’t forget you’re writing for the web, so your style should be different than if you were writing for print. Keep your tone conversational, use “you” phrases to speak to the reader, and break up text with bullet points and sub-headers.
Images are important for grabbing attention and breaking up the text, so find a feature photo on Unsplash or Pexels to make each post shine.
13. Promote, promote, promote
You’re almost there! Now that you’ve started writing, it’s time to get readers. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for many writers, this is the most surprisingly time-consuming aspect of blogging. Though it’d be nice if we could just write (that’s what we love to do, right?), it’s nicer to have people actually read your work.
You can try guest posting on other blogs , reposting on sites like Medium and LinkedIn, or including links when writing responses in forums, Facebook groups, or on Quora. Just make sure you’re adding value — and not spamming people with your URL.
Social media is another great way to get more traffic and grow your author following . Instead of merely tooting your own horn, be sure to interact with editors, writers and bloggers, too.Share their content with your community, comment on their posts and support them when and where you can. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor!
In the end, creating a successful blog is about hard work and consistency. Keep posting helpful and engaging content, optimizing it for SEO , and sharing it with your networks — and you’ll soon see your new blog start to blossom.
Congratulations, you’ve now officially started a blog as a writer. Maybe one day it can become a full book ? Time to get writing!
This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!
This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.
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How to start a writer’s blog (the basics).
By Harry Bingham
Whether you’d like to be traditionally or self-published, this kind of contact between yourself and readers can start with a blog.
Sharing your thoughts and writing life in a blog helps create a connection to readers, whether you’re published now or are hoping to be.
For in-depth social media and blog insights, you may like our self-publishing course content – but , be you published or not, here’s a whistle-stop tour on how to successfully start a writer’s blog for time-pressed writers.
What To Write About In Blog Posts
A few first ideas.
- Opinion post (perhaps wise or poignant, perhaps funny, depending how you write)
- How-to guide (on something you know well)
- Personal anecdotes (sharing stories that serve audiences and serve you)
- Book reviews
- Book giveaways
- Round-ups (e.g. writing or competition news, links, etc.)
Enjoy mind-mapping, as this should be a passion project and unique to you. A blog you love is a blog others will love. (If you’re a planner, you may enjoy creating a blog content calendar, too.)
What Blog Platform To Choose
If you’re an uncertain blogger, try starting a hosted blog. WordPress.com, for instance, is a free platform that makes it easy to transfer to WordPress.org, the latter giving autonomy on domain, design choices, and more. You’ll have the option of upgrading later to a self-hosted site when you feel confident.
Joanna Cannon , for instance, uses WordPress. Squarespace is an alternative blog home, as used by Tor Udall .
If you’re time-pressed, another idea is a micro-blog. Writers like Erin Morgenstern, Rainbow Rowell and Neil Gaiman use Tumblr.
On a hosted site like Tumblr, it’s easy to ‘re-blog’ if you’re on the move. You can re-share social content (bookish images, links, quotes, audio, and video), whilst still linking to original users.
If you know you’ll struggle finding time for posts, Tumblr is a ‘low-maintenance’ choice, and you can buff up less-frequent writings with this sort of re-sharing.
Question how much time you can really commit to a blog, how confident you are, your aims and the content you want to create. Research your options and work from there, as best suits you.
How To Write Blog Content That Sticks
You need writing readers can return to. How will your blog shine out, and how will your posts stick over time?
Creativity on your own time and terms should bring fun and fulfilment, so write posts that bring you to life. Just remember, if you’d like to create engagement and connected readers, everything you post needs justification. What value is it bringing?
If you’re writing for other authors, as an example, why must people with limited writing time stop by to read? Is there timeless advice you’re posting, encouragement you can share, a round-up of quotes, or tips for productivity and self-confidence you can give?
Brainstorm advice, anecdotes, lists and inspiration you can offer. Write for enjoyment, but make it worth a reader’s time stopping by. If your content grips, they’ll linger, feeling more connected to and interested in you and your books.
Look up popular authors’ blogs for ideas.
A Note On Copywriting
You’ll have no in-house editorial team as a blogger, no line- and copy-edits made, just as if you were self-publishing a novel.
As a plus, you can write what you want. As a minus, you can write what you want. Shakespeare’s observed brevity is the soul of wit, so keep sentences clear, concise, and sharp. Use shorter paragraphs, bullet lists and subheadings, remembering people will often read on the move.
Simpler is better in blog copy.
How To Get People To Blog Your Book
Whichever social channels you feel comfortable using (never the ones you don’t), add your blog URL to profiles.
Make use of writers’ and readers’ hashtags like #amwriting, #askagent or #bookstagram if you’re sharing post links on Twitter.
If there are calendar days or months like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), tap into these, schedule thematic blog posts and join the chats. Social media helps feed your blog. (Just don’t spend too long on social media. Keep it to only an hour a day.)
What’ll make readers linger on your blog, though, is still value of content. Once those readers are there, really enjoying your words and your stories, they can enter their emails to subscribe to your feed.
Ultimately, whatever you’re posting should bring readers value and wisdom in some guise. This gets readers to your blog and keeps them there.
Do Writers Need Blogs?
You’ll need a website and social media, online spaces your readers can find you.
A personal blog should display writings, musings, advice, insight into what readers may find in your books. It’s the space you can create meaningful connections with readers. Do share your links on social media with us.
For more free insights, peek at our prose advice , or other writing advice pages to give you ideas. There’s also our self-publishing course with details on arranging blog tours, plus more marketing essentials for self-publishing writers and bloggers.
Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers , providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter . For more writing articles, take a look at our blog page .
About the author
Harry has written a variety of books over the years, notching up multiple six-figure deals and relationships with each of the world’s three largest trade publishers. His work has been critically acclaimed across the globe, has been adapted for TV, and is currently the subject of a major new screen deal. He’s also written non-fiction, short stories, and has worked as ghost/editor on a number of exciting projects. Harry also self-publishes some of his work, and loves doing so. His Fiona Griffiths series in particular has done really well in the US, where it’s been self-published since 2015. View his website , his Amazon profile , his Twitter . He's been reviewed in Kirkus, the Boston Globe , USA Today , The Seattle Times , The Washington Post , Library Journal , Publishers Weekly , CulturMag (Germany), Frankfurter Allgemeine , The Daily Mail , The Sunday Times , The Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , and many other places besides. His work has appeared on TV, via Bonafide . And go take a look at what he thinks about Blick Rothenberg . You might also want to watch our " Blick Rothenberg - The Truth " video, if you want to know how badly an accountancy firm can behave.
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The Every Day Novelist
Oct 13, 2019
If You’re a Fiction Writer, You Absolutely Should Be Blogging
A guide to marketing yourself and your work..
Every fiction writer should be a blogger.
There. I said it.
Here’s the difference blogging made for me: When I sold my first book to a major publisher, I wasn’t blogging, I didn’t have an email list. I believed the narrative that…
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- Blog Tutorial
How to Start A Blog in 2023 Create a Blog in 20 Minutes
Updated January 25th, 2023
Are you looking for an easy guide on how to start a blog ?
The step-by-step guide on this page will show you how to create a blog in 20 minutes with just the most basic computer skills.
After completing this guide you will have a beautiful blog that is ready to share with the world.
This guide is made especially for beginners. I will walk you through each and every step, using plenty of pictures and videos to make it all perfectly clear.
If you get stuck or have questions at any point, simply send me a message and I will do my best to help you out.
My name is Scott Chow, and I am going to show you how to start blogging today. I have been building blogs and websites since 2002. In that time I have launched several of my own blogs, and helped hundreds of others do the same.
I know that starting a blog can seem overwhelming and intimidating. This free guide is all about blogging for beginners , and will teach you how to become a blogger with just the most basic computer skills. So whether you’re 8 or 88, you can create your own blog in 20 minutes.
I am not ashamed to admit that when I was first learning how to build a blog I made a ton of mistakes. You can benefit from more than a decade of my experience so that you don’t repeat these same mistakes when you make your own blog. I created this free guide so that a complete beginner can learn how to blog quickly and easily.
So, just how do you start a blog?
Learn how to create a blog in about 20 minutes following these steps:
How to Start a Blog in 6 Steps
- Pick a blog name. Choose a descriptive name for your blog.
- Get your blog online. Register your blog and get hosting.
- Customize your blog. Choose a free blog design template and tweak it.
- Write & publish your first post. Share your thoughts with the world. The fun part!
- Promote your blog. Get more people to read your blog with the proper marketing.
- Make money blogging. Choose from several options to monetize your blog.
Should you start a blog?
One of the misconceptions about starting a blog is that you need to be a great writer to be successful. Nothing could be further from the truth. People read blog sites to get a personal perspective on things, so most bloggers write in a very informal and conversational style.
And because of the format, many successful bloggers will write about a variety of topics on the same blog.
In addition, you don’t need to be an expert on any of the topics you write about to have a successful blog. For example, visitors to a cooking blog don’t want to read a textbook from a food scientist, they want to hear the experiences of someone who has actually cooked some real meals, mistakes and all.
To be successful as a blogger there is really just one requirement: a passion for your topic.
At its heart, blogging is about sharing your knowledge with the world. Writing about things that you are passionate about makes the process of starting a successful blog so much easier. As long as you are writing about things that you are genuinely interested in, your passion will shine through and keep your visitors interested.
So why would you go to the trouble of blogging? There are a few reasons:
- Share your story. A blog allows you to have a voice and be heard. You can share your story with the entire world if you so choose. One of the most common ways blogs are used are as a diary where the blogger writes about their daily experiences so that friends, family, and others can all be a part of their lives.
- Make money from home. Blogging can be quite lucrative if done correctly. The top bloggers in the world obviously earn quite a bit, but even a part-time blogger can expect to make a nice profit if things are done correctly. The best part about it is that blogging is a form of passive income, since you can spend just a few hours a week writing a piece of content and then continue to profit from it long after the the writing is finished. I go into much more detail on how to blog for money later in this guide.
- Recognition for yourself or your business. No, you probably won’t have paparazzi following you around because of your latest post. But a successful blog makes your idea into a reality, and can gain you a ton of recognition in your respective field. Many bloggers are known as experts just because of their blogs, and some have even gotten book and movie deals based on their blogs.
- Find a community. Blogging at its heart is interactive. You write a post and people comment on it. This is a good way to connect with people who are interested in the same things as you are. Blogging allows you to teach these people based on your experience, and it gives you the opportunity to learn from your readers as well.
Ready to begin? Click here to go to Step #1 of the guide
What is a blog anyway?
In short, a blog is a type of website that focuses mainly on written content , also known as blog posts. In popular culture we most often hear about news blogs or celebrity blog sites, but as you’ll see in this guide, you can start a successful blog on just about any topic imaginable.
Bloggers often write from a personal perspective that allows them to connect directly with their readers. In addition, most blogs also have a “comments” section where visitors can correspond with the blogger. Interacting with your visitors in the comments section helps to further the connection between the blogger and the reader.
This direct connection to the reader is one of the main benefits of starting a blog. This connection allows you to interact and share ideas with other like-minded people. It also allows you to build trust with your readers. Having the trust and loyalty of your readers also opens up the door to making money from your blog, which is something I discuss later in this guide.
The good news is that the internet is exploding with growth right now. More people than ever are online. This explosion in growth means more potential readers for your blog. In short, if you are thinking about starting a blog then there is no better time than right now.
Let’s start your blog!
Step 1: Pick a blog name
If you are not sure what to name your blog, or what topic to blog about, skip to the next section .
If you’ve already got an idea for the name of your blog, you can check to make sure that no one else has already registered it:
See if your blog name is available:
Note: You cannot use any spaces or punctuation other than dashes in a domain name.
If you find that the name you wanted is already taken there are a few things you can do:
- Try a different domain extension. If the .com version is already registered you may still be able to get the .net or .org version of the name.
- Add small words. Words like “a”, “my”, “best”, or “the”. For example, this site is called TheBlogStarter.com instead of BlogStarter.com.
- Add dashes between words. For example, scott-chow.com
How to Choose a Blog Topic & Name
If you don’t have an idea for a name already, the first step is choosing your blog topic.
If you’re not sure what to blog about, there are a few ways to find a good blog topic :
- Life experiences. Everyone has lessons they have learned through life experience. Sharing this knowledge can be incredibly helpful to others in similar situations. For example, I recently helped a woman start her blog about being a fireman’s wife. She has a lot of experience and knowledge to share with others about this topic, and it has helped her connect with others in similar situations. Think about the things you have experienced in life. This could be related to your family (example: a blog about being a stay at home mom), work (a blog about experiences dealing with clients), or other life experiences (a blog about dealing with a troubling time such as a disease or divorce, or about a happy time such as preparing for a wedding or a birth of a child).
- A personal blog. A personal blog is a blog all about you. This will include a variety of topics, from things you do on a daily basis, to random thoughts and musings. This is a great way to share your thoughts with the world without having to stick to just one topic.
- Hobbies & passions. Hobbies or other interests you are passionate about are a great place to start. Cooking, travel, fashion, sports, and cars are all classic examples. But even blogs about more obscure hobbies can be successful, since the your audience is literally anyone in the world with the internet.
Once you have a topic it’s time to choose your blog name, also known as your domain name.
A good blog name should be descriptive so that potential visitors can instantly tell what your blog is about just from the name.
If you are blogging about one specific topic then you will definitely want to include that in some way when you pick a domain name. Try not to get hung-up on just one word though. For example, a cooking blog doesn’t necessarily have to have the word “cooking” in it. The words “food”, “recipes”, and “meals” would also let people know that your blog is about cooking.
If you are planning to create a personal blog where you discuss a variety of topics then I recommend using your name, or some variation of it, since your blog is all about you. For example, I own the blog scottchow.com. You can also add your middle name or middle initial if you find your name is already taken. Or you could use a variation like “Scott Chow Blog” or “Blogging with Scott”.
Can’t decide on a good name for your blog? Contact me and I will help you personally (for free)!
Once you have some name ideas you will need to choose a domain extension . A .com domain extension is the most preferred, but .net or .org work as well. It is also important to note that for the purposes of a blog domain you cannot have any spaces between words. So “Blogging with Scott” becomes bloggingwithscott.com
Step 2: Get your blog online
Now that you’ve got a name picked out it’s time to get your blog online. This might sound hard or technical, but the steps below will walk you right through and make the process easy .
A blog host is a company that stores all of the files for your blog and delivers them to the user when they type in your blog name. You must have a blog host in order to have a blog .
You also need to have the software to build your blog. In this guide I will be showing you how to build a blog using the WordPress blogging software, because it is the most popular, customizable, and easiest to use.
The web host I recommend, and the one I show you how to use in this guide, is BlueHost . I personally use BlueHost and I recommend them for all new bloggers because:
- They will register your custom domain name for free , making sure no one else can take it.
- They have a 30 day money back guarantee if you are unsatisfied for any reason.
- They offer a free, automatic installation of the WordPress blogging software (which I show you how to use in this guide).
- They offer reliable web hosting that has been recommended by WordPress since 2005 and they currently host over 2 million blogs and websites.
- They have helpful 24/7 customer service via phone or web chat.
Use any BlueHost link on this site to get the special discount price of $2.75 per month.
Disclosure: BlueHost compensates The Blog Starter when you purchase through this link , so my services are free of charge to you! In fact, if you have any trouble at all setting up a blog with this tutorial, just contact me and I will do it for you (free!) .
1. Click here to get the special $2.75 per month rate on BlueHost and then click “get started now”.
2. Select your plan. I recommend that beginning bloggers get the basic plan. Click “Select” to choose your plan.
3. Type in your domain name in the left box and then click “next” to start the registration process.
- If you already own a domain name and want to use it for your blog, type your existing domain in the right box and then click “next”. Only use the right box if you have previously paid to register a domain!
4. Fill out your billing details on the registration page.
5. You will also need to choose your hosting package and options.
- Every BlueHost account plan has everything you need to get your blog up and running, including a free custom domain name, easy WordPress installation, web hosting, and custom email addresses (e.g. [email protected]).
- I uncheck the boxes next to the package extras except for “Domain Privacy & Protection” . While not strictly necessary, domain privacy keeps your personal information (name, address, phone, email) hidden from the public database of registered domain owners.
6. You will then need to create your BlueHost account and password.
Once you do that you will be taken to an installation helper. Since you are following this tutorial you can just click “Skip this step” on the next few pages to be taken directly to the dashboard.
7. Install the WordPress blogging platform.
Now the system will install WordPress automatically. Once the install is complete click the “Log into WordPress” button on the top right to be logged-in to the administrator area of your blog.
Having trouble installing your blog? Get help here .
Step 3: Customize your blog
The video above should answer a lot of questions you might have about how to set up a blog and get it customized. Here is a step-by-step break-down of some of things I show in the video.
If you are not already logged-in from the previous step, go to Bluehost.com and click “Login” on the top right to bring up the login screen. You can then login using your domain name and the password you set in the previous step. If you have misplaced your password you can reset it by clicking the “Forgot Password” link.
Once you log-in you will be taken to your BlueHost Portal. From the portal you can click the blue “WordPress” button to be logged-in automatically to your WordPress blog.
Changing your blog design
Once you login you will be in the WordPress dashboard. This is where you can make any changes you want to your blog.
Everyone has a different idea of how they want their blog to look. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can change your entire layout and design with just a few clicks.
In WordPress, blog layouts are known as “Themes”. What is a blog theme? Themes control the entire design of your WordPress blog. To change your theme you are going to click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu.
You will see several free WordPress themes are already installed on your blog: Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Sixteen, etc. These are well-designed, clean-looking themes that can work for just about any type of blog. In fact, many of the world’s top bloggers use one of these themes.
Unless you have a very specific design in mind for your blog, I suggest you use one of these themes to start with . For our example, let’s use the “Twenty Sixteen” WordPress theme. In order to activate the theme on your blog, hover over the theme and click the “Activate” button. That’s it! You have changed the entire design of your blog with just one click!
If you don’t like any of the themes that are already installed you can easily choose from thousands of other free WordPress themes. To install a new WordPress theme, click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu and then click “Add New Theme”.
Once the theme is installed click “Activate” to activate the theme on your blog. To see your new theme in action, go to your blog and take a look!
Changing your theme is the simplest way to customize your WordPress blog, but there are lots of other customizations you can do. Check out my full post on customizing your WordPress blog for an in-depth step-by-step guide . You can also watch the video above to see me completely customize a WordPress blog from scratch.
Step 4: How to write a new blog post & publish it
Now that your blog is up and running it’s time to actually do some blogging! Let’s create your first piece of content.
You are now on the post editor screen. Enter the title of your post in the top box and then begin writing your post in the lower box.
If you would like to add a picture to your post, click on the “Add Image” icon and click “Upload” to upload a picture from your computer. You can make adjustments to the picture size on the next screen. When you are ready click “Insert into post” to add the picture.
Once you have finished your post just click the “Publish” button on the top right side of the screen to publish the new post.
Content That Should be on Your Blog
There are two main types of content your blog should provide: static and dynamic content.
Static Content: Your blog should contain a few necessary pages explicitly designed to provide the visitor with the tools they need. The content on these pages is static, meaning – the content doesn’t change, or at least not very often. These are mainly top-level pages that can be accessed via a menu on your blog.
These static content pages should be in place well before you launch your blog to the world.
Important static pages to include:
- About Me (Us) – This page should include a biographical summary of the author(s) as well as a mission statement. Think about the answers to these questions: How did your passion for the subject matter develop? What do you want to convey to the world? What is your ultimate goal?
- Contact Me (Us) – A contact page provides the visitor a place to reach the author which, in turn, provides the visitor with the reassurance that you are a real and reachable author. You can add your physical address, phone number, and custom email address. Or you can utilize a simple contact form to keep your personal identifying information private. You should put links to all of your social media profiles here as well.
Aside from your blog, which is generally introduced on the home/main page, these two all-important pages should be visible on your top (header) menu and easy to access. You can take a look at the top of this page to see how I have these pages included in the header menu. See this detailed guide to customizing your blog menus if you need help.
Other static pages that are equally as important but less commonly thought of are:
- Disclaimer Page : If you intend to monetize your blog, you must describe the ways you intend to generate income. This is an absolute must-have page that should not be overlooked, as per FTC guidelines. For example, if you are discussing and endorsing a product, and stand to profit by linking to the product, this relationship must be disclosed.
- Terms of Service : If your blog is also running a store or selling services, it is a good idea to have a Terms of Service page to lessen your potential liability.
These required static pages are typically linked to in the footer menu of a blog. They should, at the very least, be visible and accessible from the home page. Again, look at the bottom of this page to see how this looks in practice.
There are other static pages you can choose to include depending on what suits your blog and business. Common static page examples are an advertising page to solicit paid advertisements, a donations page, a resource page to direct visitors to your favorite links within your field, and a page for submitting ideas and content.
Dynamic Content: Your dynamic content is your blog and the most important content you have to offer. This is where you, as the creator, will infuse the blog with your brand of informative content that supplies your audience with knowledgeable tips, facts, opinions, and stories. This is how you engage your visitors and keep them coming back for more.
Your blog content should be regularly submitted at specific intervals. Waiting months to create content will never build a following. Posting content weekly and driving traffic to these posts will help build your brand.
How to write great blog content
Each post should be lengthy, informative, and engaging. It’s not always easy to come up with new blog post ideas on a regular basis and you are free to mix up the tone and even the subject matter to keep things lively and interesting. It’s your space, after all. But there are a few elements that each and every piece of content should endeavor to include.
Define the Content: Create an alluring post title that stimulates curiosity and encourages clicks. Use the first paragraph of your post to clearly define the topic of your article and provide a possible hook to keep the reader reading.
The Longer the Better – But Break It Up : The more information and detail you include, the better. But visitors will begin to skim if the content contains lengthy paragraphs a mile long, and will pop out faster than they came in. Visitors enjoy tidbits. Keep your paragraphs short with spaces in between, use lists and standout quotes, use images, and always include headings and sub-headings so that visitors can find what they’re looking for.
Engage The Reader: At the end of each post, a common tactic used to engage visitors is posing a meaningful question to your audience and asking them to reply in the comments. This simple measure can increase engagement tenfold.
Original Content: Your content should always be original. Never plagiarize – you will eventually be called out on it and could even face consequences. Your content should come from your heart, your brain, your knowledge base, and your experience. You can get topic ideas from others in your field, but make sure the content comes from you.
Original Photos: While it is easy to include stock images from free image sites, it is even better to include your own photos and graphic work. Another idea is to take free images and manipulate them with a free photo editor.
Edit Your Work: Your blog content should be sufficiently edited. Nothing says unprofessional like several typographical and grammatical errors. If you need a few refresher courses in grammar, consider using a writing application.
Publishing Your Blog
Even after you have written a post your blog may still be showing a placeholder page.
When you are ready to make your blog public for the first time, just click “Home” at the top left of the menu in your WordPress dashboard, and then click “Launch with confidence”. Click the blue “Launch your site” button to remove the placeholder page and launch your blog.
Congratulations! You now know how to start your own blog and publish content!
Step 5: Promote your blog
Creating a well-designed blog and writing great content is just the start. In order to get visitors to your blog you will need spend some time promoting it, especially when you first start.
The strategies below will help get your blog in front of more readers. You don’t need to use every strategy – try out a few and see what works well for you.
Alert Your Inner Circle
The very first people who should become aware of your blog are your inner circle. This includes family, friends, and colleagues within your field. Encourage them to become followers, ask them to mention your new blog, and – most importantly – thank them.
Use Social Media
While you don’t want to overdo it, you still want to create accounts with the “biggies” like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. You should post a link to your newest content on your accounts, but you can also post relevant news and links to other sources that your readers may find interesting. Don’t forget to use hashtags and engage with your followers!
One of my favorite ways to get visitors to my blog is to post links on my social accounts, like Facebook and Twitter. This is great, because not only do your friends see the link, but if your friends share the link with their friends it automatically multiplies your visitors. If you have created high-quality content on your blog then social media is a way for your blog to go viral.
Comment on Other Blogs
Find other blogs in your community and engage with them. Using the comment section, introduce yourself and leave engaging and constructive comments. Many will allow you to leave a link to your blog. After creating relationships with prominent bloggers in your community, you will find yourself within their ranks quickly.
Engage with Your Visitors
When your readers leave comments on your posts, always engage with them. Reply to their comments and questions, give them “likes” and affirmations. When it is obvious that the author cares about his/her community and readership, visitors are naturally encouraged to return.
Collaborate with other bloggers
Become enmeshed in your blogging community by collaborating with respected members of your field. Collaborating includes guest posting, promoting each other’s blogs and products, and regularly interacting through comments and social media.
Post content regularly. Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. A good blogger posts at least once per week to start. If you have long lapses between posts, your followers will drop off and your growth will be severely hampered. It’s not easy to post on a schedule, but it’s something you absolutely must stick to.
Create an Email List
In addition to getting new visitors to your blog, you will also want to make sure your current visitors are coming back. This is where email marketing plays a big role. By collecting the email addresses of your visitors (with their permission of course), you can then notify them when you post new content on your blog. This keeps people coming back to your blog, which not only gives you more readers over time, it also allows you to build a closer relationship with your visitors.
Email marketing is too big a topic to cover well here, so I created a separate guide to email marketing for those who are interested (hint: every blogger who wants more readers needs to read this guide).
Optimize your blog for search engines
You want your blog to appear in search results as soon as possible.
Google: Sign up for a Google Webmaster account and open the Search Console . To add your blog, click “Add Property” and follow the steps to add your blog.
Bing: Sign up for a Bing Webmaster account and add your blog.
Submitting your blog is the first step in process known as search engine optimization (SEO).
Keep in mind that with a brand new blog your traffic will be minimal to start with. However, this will change over time as long as you continue to add informative and relevant content on a regular basis.
To optimize this process, each page of your blog should include these fundamental elements:
- Permalinks: Each blog post “slug” is the end portion of the URL. You want to make sure each post has a defined slug and doesn’t end with an article number. You can easily change this in your WordPress dashboard by going to “Settings” -> “Permalinks”. Select the “Post Name” option and click “Save Changes”
There are many more factors relating to consider, such as installing something like the Yoast WordPress plugin , but these are the big ones that will help improve your search rankings sooner rather than later.
For more tips on promoting your blog make sure to check out my in-depth guide to blog promotion .
Step 6: Make money from your blog
Once you have put in the effort of creating great blog content and promoting your blog, making money from your blog is actually the easy part.
Blogs have the potential to be extremely lucrative, but don’t assume that you’re going to start making money in the first week, or even in the first month. It could take six months to a year to start seeing a steady stream of income. Blogging takes work and dedication, but once you develop a large enough audience, there are several methods you can employ to monetize your blog.
Sell advertising space
Once you have a popular blog, advertisers will be hounding you for the opportunity to advertise. The best way to take advantage of this situation is to use Google Adsense. Google finds the advertisers for you and all you have to do is place the Google Adsense code on your blog to start running ads. Google Adsense takes all of the hard work out of the process and just cuts you a check.
I go into the full details of how to set up Google Adsense for your WordPress blog here .
Sell affiliate products
An affiliate program is a commission-based way to advertise. When one of your readers clicks on a link on your blog, they get sent to an advertiser’s site and you earn a commission if they purchase. Affiliate links are a nice way to earn income through the use of product reviews. However, you must remember to disclose that you are an affiliate for the product.
Sell Products and Services
Selling your own products and services directly on your blog is a great way to increase your income. As your blog grows and you begin to see a wide audience, your products and services will begin to sell themselves.
Use the sidebar of your blog to increase the visibility of what you sell using visual images and a link to your storefront page.
Sell digital downloads
Ebooks, video tutorials, and e-courses are the most commonly consumed digital materials sold by bloggers. With little to no overhead and no shipping costs, you can keep the price low and inviting.
If you are extremely knowledgeable in your field, an ebook can practically write itself. Give it a try, you might surprise yourself!
Another way to monetize is by creating membership options on your blog. This allows you to offer members more exclusive content only available with a paid membership. For example, you could offer unlimited downloads of digital goods, free consultations, a private network or forum where community members can mix and mingle, and private content available to members only.
There are many ways a blog can capitalize on popularity and traffic. Choosing the way you monetize from your blog depends on your goals and the purpose of your blog. Those who are selling services, physical goods, and digital goods, for example, may not want to participate in affiliate programs where traffic could be lost to another site.
For more information see my full guide to making money blogging here
Need more help?
I hope this guide has answered any questions you had on how to start your blog, but if any of the steps were unclear to you, you can find a more detailed version of each step by using the menu at the top right of this page (or at the bottom of this page if you’re on a smartphone).
More specific tutorials can be found on my blog page . Here are some of the most popular tutorials from my blog:
- How to add custom logos or images
- How to see how many people are visiting your blog
- How to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
- How to make a website with WordPress
- How to automatically share your new content on Facebook and Twitter
- How to choose the best website builder
- How to link to other sites from your blog
- How to change text size and color
- How to make your blog private
Contact me if you have any issues at all and I will personally respond to your email. The step-by-step guide on this site should give you everything you need to get started, but if you run into some issues, or just want some personalized advice, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. Blogging is my passion, and I would love to talk with you about it!
Still have some unanswered questions about blogging? Below are the most common questions I get about starting a new blog. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, feel free to send me an email via my contact page , or leave a comment below.
Click on a question to read the answer:
What makes a successful blog?
What do you need to start a blog.
Time, passion, and a clear goal.
Blogging is nearly a full-time operation. A successful blogger commits to posting lengthy and detailed content at least weekly. Promoting the blog must also be done regularly across social accounts and through peer interactions.
Equally important is the passion behind your blog. To come up with great content on a regular basis your blog should revolve around a topic that you are obsessed with. You don’t have to be the leading authority on the subject matter. You only need to possess passion, excitement, dedication, and deeply rooted opinions.
What should my blog be about?
Answer these questions: What are you passionate about? What do you think about daily? What topic do you annoy all of your friends, family, and co-workers with on a regular basis? What do you find yourself dreaming about? What do you find yourself constantly researching? What do you read about?
If there is a common denominator in your answers to these questions – THAT is what your blog should be about.
How do I find a profitable niche for my blog?
If you know the general topic for your blog, a simple way of making your niche more profitable is by narrowing the niche to eliminate competition.
How do I name my blog?
This can ultimately be a fun exercise.
As an example, let’s say your blog will be about custom pet gift baskets. In this instance, let’s list all the main words this blog will be about.
Now let’s list some variant synonyms of these words. Use a thesaurus if need be!
Now list nouns and adjectives that apply to you as the creator.
Now start putting words together, introduce new words, and keep playing around until you come up with a name you like!
What do you do if your domain name is taken?
If the domain name you want is taken and the full web address is your trademarked business name, you can assert your trademark rights and privileges and eventually get this domain handed over to you. It is a lengthy process that will involve lawyers and hefty fees, but as long as the name is trademarked by you, you would likely win the domain name.
If your name isn’t trademarked, don’t attempt to buy the .info or .biz variation of the domain. Instead, try a slight variation of the domain name such as adding a dash between words, or inserting the word “the” or other nominal words.
Where is the best place to create a blog?
How much does it cost to start a blog.
You can make a blog for absolutely nothing. It doesn’t cost one red cent.
But let’s be realistic. If you want your blog to be taken seriously, you can’t just get a subdomain from one of the free blogging sites like Blogspot. You’ll want to pick a custom domain name and register it instead. Domain names cost around $15 per year, on average. So now you’re a whopping $15 in the hole.
But the best way to start your blog is through one of the many web hosting companies. The best web hosting choice is a WordPress hosting account through Bluehost which is $2.75 per month and includes free domain name registration, so your total cost for 1 year is just $33.
Do bloggers make money?
Bloggers have the ability to make a full-time income from blogging alone. Some bloggers make hundreds of thousands of dollars. While it isn’t easy to become a highly paid blogger, it is quite possible. As with any business, it takes a lot of hard work and plenty of time.
Many bloggers give up on their project after just a few months. They become discouraged when the money doesn’t come in right away, and it almost never does without an instant and immediate following that comes from being a high profile persona. Therefore, time and patience are needed to reach “influencer” status. Those who make money online are the ones who stick with it.
There are several ways a blogger can earn money:
- Advertisements : As your blog gains traction and brings in a healthy amount of daily visitors, advertisers may pay good money for a well-placed ad on your blog.
- Contextual Ads: With Google Adsense a small piece of code can be placed on your blog that dynamically shows ads related to your content. When one of your readers clicks on an ad the advertiser pays Google, and Google sends you a percentage.
- Affiliate Programs: Affiliate ads are a very popular way to monetize a blog. These ads lead visitors to a product or service on another website. If a sale resulting from a click on your blog is made, you get a commission, and some commissions can be very high. Affiliate programs can be found on individual stores, or on large-scale platforms such as Amazon.
- Sponsored Posts: Advertisers can pay a smaller fee to sponsor individual posts rather than advertising on the entire blog. This is a great method for making money on fledgling blogs.
How do bloggers get paid?
Bloggers are most commonly paid by advertisers. How the blogger is paid varies depending on what type of ads are used.
- CPC: CPC or “Cost Per Click” ads generate revenue simply through clicks. CPC ads are generally highly targeted and rotational. Ads appear on specific blog posts and are related to the content of that post. The number of clicks you generate, which trends upward as your traffic increases, will ultimately determine the amount you are paid.
- Flat Fee: If a blog’s traffic is high, advertisers may pay a monthly flat fee for ad space on the blog’s website. That ad space could appear all over the website, within a section, or just a few pages. The money comes directly from the advertiser.
- Commission : Ads from an affiliate network use affiliate links. These links track visitors that come from your blog to the advertiser’s site. If a purchase is made by a visitor who originated from your blog, you receive a commission.
Should I start my blog on WordPress?
If you’re new to blogging and you don’t have much experience with HTML or coding, then yes – self-hosting a WordPress blog is the best choice for you! When it comes time to choose a blogging platform, the pros turn to WordPress. And even though WordPress is used by millions of smaller blogs, it also powers many of the biggest sites on the internet. In fact, WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) in the world with over 75 million blogs and websites currently using it. And there are many reasons why:
- Easy to Use : WordPress is remarkably easy to use. Theme customizers help to easily design your blog, change colors, and add images. Once your design is complete, all you need to do is write your content. The internal blog editor records your posts and displays them for you.
- Blog Anywhere : As long as you have Internet access, you can edit your WordPress blog and write new posts. WordPress provides you with an administrative backend where you may log in and work on your blog from anywhere in the world using a PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone.
- You Don’t Need To Know How to Code : WordPress gives you easy tools to set up a blog that looks stunning without knowing a single line of HTML code or hiring a web developer. This makes WordPress a great option for those who don’t want to deal with technical issues.
- Built-in SEO : Google favors blogs built with WordPress. The out-of-the-box SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which comes packed with WordPress delivers impressive results over time in search engines. This translates to more readers for your blog.
- Free Themes : The WordPress CMS is connected to a repository where thousands of free themes (blog layouts) are available to browse and upload. Directly from the backend of your blog you can browse a multitude of themes with varying styles and functionality. These free WordPress themes can be installed with one click, and then easily customized by a total beginner.
Is WordPress free?
Yes! A self-hosted WordPress blog is a open-source, which is completely free. And there are two different WordPress options, both free, but COMPLETELY different, which you should be aware of. Choosing between them is one of the most crucial decisions you will make.
WordPress.org : This option is completely, 100% free. WordPress.org is the blog platform I show you how to use in the tutorial on this page. While it is completely free to download, it doesn’t run on its own. You will need a web host (see the step-by-step guide ) and you’ll also need to buy a new domain name. Because you need your own web hosting plan, this option is known as a self-hosted WordPress blog. So while WordPress is technically free, there are fees involved with getting your new self-hosted WordPress blog up and running (less than $3 per month).
How often should I blog?
If your goal is to eventually make money from your blog, you’ll want to start blogging as often as possible – at least once per week. Blogging can be casual if your goal is solely for personal pleasure. But if you’re seeking a large audience and wish to become a leader in your field, blogging weekly is a must.
While frequency is important, it should not come at the expense of quality. Not every piece of content needs be 2,000 words, but all of your posts should be informative and of value to your audience. This is no easy feat. However, if you’re able to stick with blogging on a regular schedule, it will become easier! As with anything else, the more you do it – the more skilled at it you become.
Why do blogs fail?
Almost any blog has the potential to become a success, yet most blogs fail. And there are many reasons why. Here are the most common reasons why a blog fails:
- Giving Up Too Fast – The most common reason why a blog fails is simply that the content creator gives up before his or her blog even has a chance to become recognized. Before you begin a blog, you should realize that most blogs take months and even years to gain traction. It’s quite an investment. If you fail to gain visitors or make money within a month don’t stop! Continue to focus on creating quality content and getting your name out there via social media and networking.
- Intermittent Blogging – When there are long “silent periods” between posts it is difficult to build a solid following. People looking for information on your topic usually want a steady stream of new information to keep them interested. When a blog fails to deliver fresh and updated content people get bored and look elsewhere.
- Poor Content – Some bloggers think they can beat the system with auto-generated content or with duplicate content that is reworded. Readers know fluff when they read it. They know when an article has absolutely no value or when it is simply clickbait. A blog with poor content will never be successful.
- Too Many Ads – Blogs with dozens of ads obscuring most of the content will deter visitors from returning. People don’t come to your blog to be visually harassed by ill-placed, blinking advertisements. They come for information. While ads a good option to monetize, don’t overdo it.
Very helpful! I’ve been wanting to create a billingual blog (french and english) but didn’t know where to start. Thanks for the detailed information 🙂
Thank you Scott for writing an excellent blog…I’ve been researching to see if blogging is something I want to get into…I am at a beginner level. I am looking for some guidance on where to start and your blog appeared. Very informative post. Thanks once again.
Hi Scott. Thanks for the valuable information. I’m concerned about the usage of images/licenses. Can we use creative commons images in our blogs if we are unable to take the photos ourselves? There’s a filter on Google when image searching for “Commercial” and then “Creative Commons” images and wondering which is the safest bet of images to use on a blog. Don’t want to get in trouble!
Yes, I would suggest only using images with a Creative Commons license to avoid any copyright issues. You can easily search for images at search.creativecommons.org
Your tutorials have been really helpful so far in getting my blog up and running. WordPress is tricky without someone to walk you through it. Thanks so much!
Hi Scott. I’ve been thinking about setting up a blog for a while now but didn’t really understand how to go about it. Your guide is really informative and has given me the confidence to give it a go. Thanks a lot 😊
Hi Scott, Thanks for the great info on starting a blog. I am about to set up a blog that will be mostly political commentary. I also have numerous papers and presentations I have written over the years that I would like to post and make accessible to visitors, apart from my periodic blogging. Do you have advice as to how I can upload them on separate pages?
If you have them in PDF format, then I would suggest embedding them into your posts. Here is how to do that: https://www.theblogstarter.com/how-to-embed-pdf-files-in-wordpress-posts/
I just found you on the right time. This is all I needed to start a blog. The very best informative tutorial I have found. Thank you Scott.
Thank you for such helpful content. I’m just starting my blog and your insight is greatly appreciated.
Number one for me in a new blog host is if it has autosave. I currently have a wordpress.com blog which has autosave. But I don’t like the ownership of wordpress.com, so I want to start a new home. Do you know of any blog hosts other than wordpress.com that offer autosave? Thanks, Susan
The process I show in the tutorial on this page will help you start a blog that is self-hosted with BlueHost. It has an autosave feature enabled by default.
I have finally started a food blog and I’m excited to learn more from here.
Thanks so much for this info. I am really wanting to start a blog, but I’m concerned about the legal stuff. How do I make sure I am doing everything legal?
This is wonderful! thank you so much for your helpful advice! I am going to try to do my first blog!
Hey Scott. I always wanted to start a blog but never had a clear idea how to do it. After reading this content, I feel so confident that I would want to start writing now. Thanks a lot.
Glad you found it helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any trouble.
So far Bluehost is good. My friends told me to use them as well. I used another web host before, but now I see that Bluehost is much better than the web hosting I had before.
I just barely created my blog and I would like to make it organize by categories. How do I add that to my blog page? Ex: Place (one category), Family (one category), Home (one category) etc.?
Thank you so much for your insightful post.
When you are in the post editor screen of the WordPress dashboard you will see an option on the right-hand side to choose a category for the post you are writing. You can also create a new category for your post in that same place.
Let me know if you have any trouble finding it.
I had a suggestion (from my vascular surgeon, believe it or not) to start a blog. I imagine a bio theme (70 years). How would I protect the privacy of those I mention?
The simplest way would be to change their names and remove any other personally identifiable information. You may also want to consider the tips here: https://www.theblogstarter.com/how-to-blog-anonymously/
Thank you… I’ve been having a yearning to write. I am not a writer but when I do especially on my social platforms, people frequently comment that they wished I did it more. I’ve recently decided that I want to start blogging and have been doing tons of research. This is by far the best “how to” I’ve come across. Excited to follow theses steps and give it a try. I appreciate your willingness to be available to those of us ready to give it a GO!
Awesome Shauna! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
This is an excellent and very comprehensive tutorial, Scott. One of the best step-by-step how-to’s I’ve seen on the topic. I’ll be recommending it on my newsletter.
Thank you very much Am starting my blog and what I read was helpful thank you
I would like to first of all say thank you for all the wonderful and great information you sent to all of us and this is very useful to me and I will and have been looking at this for a long time now but because of your information I really feel like I’m ready. Unfortunately I have a few very simple questions that you possibly can answer in a second but I need to ask them because of my lack of knowledge. I live in Japan and my blog is meant for Japanese and Europeans and Americans and for everyone really and I will probably be doing some translation at the same time so my question is this. is there a different way to registering a blog in Japan or blogging the rest of the world will my domain name be registered to me even in Japan or other parts of the world. If you have any answers for me please let me know. Yours truly, Yves Gagnon
Domain registration applies worldwide. For example, the domain name for this site (theblogstarter.com) is registered to me and can’t be used by anyone else. No matter where you are in the world, when you go to theblogstarter.com this is the site that comes up. I hope that answers your question.
Thank you so much for your blog. I found your explanations particularly clear, concise, and helpful.
I am setting up a blog right now and chose the plan with the lowest up-front cost.
Should I be concerned that the expiration for my basic web hosting is 12 months? Is there any way to alleviate the issue?
You will have the option to renew before it expires. You can also extend your package for a longer duration at any time from your BlueHost account.
Hi Can you have multiple people belong to one blog And post at any time or is it restricted to a single blogger only, thank you
You can create multiple users for your blog. Just log-in to the WordPress dashboard of your account and then go “Users” on the left sidebar menu. From here you can add new users. You can also give each user different permissions if you so choose. For example, you could be the only administrator of the blog, while still giving other users the permission to write new content.
Hi Scott, can you use the wordpress from your laptop, tablet and phone to write on-the-go?
Yes, you can easily blog from any internet-connected device. For your phone, I would suggest using the WordPress.org app: https://wordpress.org/mobile/
It’s not strictly necessary if you are not collecting any data about your visitors, but it’s so simple to do that I recommend it for all new blogs. From the WordPress dashboard, go to “Tools” on the left sidebar menu and then click on “Prviacy”. This will take you to the privacy page generator and help you add it to your blog.
Very easy indeed. Thanks Scott. As a web designer, I often get asked how to start a blog. I’m definitely bookmarking this for sharing. 🙂
I would like to thank you for the information on your site. You have included a wealth if helpful information. This is my first search for how to start a blog, I have learned a lot from your presentation. I have learned a lot, I’m not sure that a blog is my interest or i need something different. I am 75 years young, and have never met, or talked with anyone who have experienced a lifetime such as I. I would like to get my story out there for entertainment, and comments from others who may be able to relate. Thank You for your very informative information. I assure you that I will come back to your site if I decide a blog would fit my purpose. Thank you very much for the great education you have served me.
A blog sounds the perfect medium for what you want to do. You can easily write your story and have others comment on it.
Let me know if you have any trouble getting started. I would be happy to assist.
Thank you for this very informative blog. When setting up the comments section of my blog, is it necessary to ask for a piece of personal info such as the email of the address of the person making the comment? If I let people comment anonymously, this may encourage more people to comment.
You can set it up either way. You are correct that you will get more comments if you don’t ask for an email address, but you will also get more spam comments as well.
Fantastic, and very help. Thank you for such a great help and guidance. You made something impossible possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for sharing
Can I start a blog with my phone?
Yes, the steps for how to start a blog are the same for phone, tablet, or computer.
Very informative post. I am grad student thinking strongly about starting a blog and wanted to know if you could speak to a respectful posting frequency and how many posts are enough before launching?
Can you point me to some form of blog management information? I am trying to determine if this is something I can commit to.
Thank you in advance
When first starting out I suggest posting once or twice a week. After you have built up a solid readership then you can decrease the posting frequency. Some really popular blogs only post every couple of months.
When you first start a blog I recommend launching it as soon as you finish your first post. This gets you started on growing your readership from day one.
Great synopsis Scott!
Great synopsis of a really BIG subject Scott! Good info for those looking to start blogging.
What an excellent blog… I’ve been researching to see if starting a blog is something I want to get into.. I’m retired and do crafts for friends and family. But ,don’t want to be limited to just blogging about that area. I’m also an author (inspiration-Christian) and wanted to know if you can have sections when establishing a blog?
Yes, the easiest way to do this is to categorize each post. Your post will then automatically go to the correct category page on your blog.
Hi Scott, This is some great help! But I have a question…. If I start a blog is it considered a “side gig”? Or do i have to register a “Business”? How would I report my income?
You can do it either way. Most people just start with it as a side hustle, and then as it grows you can consider setting up a business. It would be best to talk to a tax accountant once you get to that point though.
Hey Scott. I really appreciate the info, however, both you and BlueHost advertise the cost as “monthly.” When I went to sign up, it gave me a total cost which was the total cost for the contract. Before I give my payment information, I’d like to clarify if I’m paying monthly for the service, or if I have to pay a lump sum. Thanks.
Yes, you will pay up front for the full length of your plan. So if you do a 12 month plan then you pay for 12 months up front. You can cancel at anytime and get a pro-rated refund for the unused months on your plan.
Thank you for all of this information. I’m motivated to start blogging. I am confident that things will go smoothly with all the info that you provided.
Thank you Scott. I am so grateful for this enlightening information you have given to me here. I now know how to set up my own blog. But I have a question. Which method of payment does bluehost support when you are paying for the hosting service? And can you choose to pay monthly, or must it be paid yearly? Thanks once again. Please i am expecting your reply.
A one year package is the shortest option. BlueHost accepts credit cards or PayPal. Feel free to contact me if you have any trouble getting started!
Hi, Scott! Wow! I think this just might be what I was looking for. I don’t do social media. No tweeting, no Facebook, none of that…. But, I know many people that do. I think they can help get my blog out into the public. A couple of questions – will the basic set up allow for comments? can I prevent users from leaving comments and delete horrid comments? I am excited and want to be sure I can control some things before I get rolling…. Thanks!!!
Yes, comments are turned-on by default. You have full control over the comments on your blog. For example, you can have comments automatically approved, or you can choose to manually approve only those that you want. Of course, you can also turn-off comments completely if you prefer.
To change your comments setting simply go to your blog dashboard and go to “Settings -> Discussion”
Hi Scott, Thank you. This is very informative. Can you please help me with narrowing down a name and topics please?
Sure, just send me a message through my contact page with more details on the topics you are interested in.
Very informative and easy to follow! I read to the end and then watched video.
Scott thanks, the tutorial was most helpful. It took me a while but I got there in the end. Good stuff. I used the format you show as it seemed good for me.
Hi! Thank you so much for this! Your guide is so thorough that I am working on getting my blog up and running! Quick question: How do you create an email with your domain name? I Googled it, but I don’t see the same options in my side panel. On the WordPress article I read, it says to go to Store > Dashboard > Manage emails, but I don’t see that. Thank you for your help!
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a custom email address for your blog .
Hi. Thanks for the tutorial.
Can you do this whole process for a blog with your smartphone?
Yes, you can do the whole process with your smartphone.
Hi Scott. Thank you so much for this info. I am very eager to make my own blog but really haven’t a clue where to start or what to blog about. Do you have any recommendations on how to figure out my niche? TIA!
The best niche for you is something you have an active interest in. Think of the things you enjoy spending your time doing and/or learning about. Travel, fashion, fitness, and food are all popular topics. Once you figure out what sounds most interesting to you, your job as a blogger is to provide your unique perspective and experience with that topic. For more detailed info check out this post on finding your niche .
Your tutorial was so helpful and you are so easy to follow and you have a very good speaking voice.
Thank you so much for taking the time to have this website, you tube and making yourself available for questions.
Hi Scott Thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I want to do a blog about fitness and health diet recipes but am not an expert or anything it’s just something i do on daily basis and I feel like I want to start blogging about it even though I know there are tons of fitness blogs out there but I know this is me being me and the routines i go through and I want to know what you think about it. Thanks
A blog sounds perfect for your situation. People enjoy learning about things from someone who is actually doing it, not some armchair expert.
Yes, there are a lot of fitness blogs already, but that is only because there are also a ton of people who want to read great fitness and health content!
Best of luck, and let me know if you need any help along the way.
Newbie question: so what’s the difference between a blog and a website?? Some blogs seem to be “embedded” in a website. Should one create a website first? Then how do you connect the two? Thanks ahead.
A blog is a type of website. You are correct, you can have a traditional website and then have a separate section of the site for a blog. If you are looking for a more traditional website you can follow my guide to starting a website here . If you follow the tutorial on this page you will have a blog. No need to create a separate website first.
Fantastic, and very help. Thank you for such a great help and guidance. You made something impossible possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you so much for your blog. I have had so much fun setting mine up and it might never have happened without your blog. I particularly found the video very clear, concise and helpful.
Hey. I want a blog but have so many things it’s like to cover…I need help with a name… Could you help me?
Sure, just send me a message through my contact page with some more details on what your blog will be about.
Hi. I’m thinking I may have signed up for the wrong type of blog. I’ve just created a wordpress.com personal blog site (ancestry). I’m just starting the site but am getting notifications that to use ANY plug-ins I need to upgrade to a business account (yikes not inexpensive!). Should I have signed up for WordPress.org??
Yes, WordPress.org is what you want. Just follow the steps in the tutorial on this page to create a WordPress.org blog using BlueHost.
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Step 1: Get Started >>
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How to Start a Successful Blog in 2023
Learn how to start a blog in less than an hour. Become a blogger today by following the steps we used when starting our blog, which now has reached more than 20 million people and has been seen in the New York Times , TIME magazine, and on the TODAY show.
How to Become a Blogger in 5 Simple Steps
- Choose your blog name and get your blog hosting.
- Start your blog by adding WordPress.
- Pick a simple theme to make your blog your own.
- Add two key blogging plugins to find your readers and track stats.
- Write compelling content to create a blog that your readers love.
Do you want to start a blog fast?
This is a long essay and you may want to start your blog without learning all the details.
This is the first how to quickly start a blog guidepost.
To start a blog fast simply:
- Look for these boxes.
- Follow the brief steps.
- Click the link to jump to the next box.
Click here to go to the first step.
How We Started This Blog
Want to create something meaningful? Why not start a blog? Why not become a blogger? Creating this blog is one of the best decisions Ryan and I ever made. After all, our blog is how we earn a living . More important, it’s how we add value to other people’s lives.
So you’re thinking about starting a blog, but you don’t have any idea where to start, right? Guess what—neither did we! Before we became “The Minimalists,” we wanted to start a blog to communicate our thoughts and express our feelings, but we were overwhelmed with options.
Clueless, confused, and confounded with choices, we had no idea how to start a blog or how to be a blogger. When should we start? How do we register a domain name? What is hosting? Which blogging platform should we use? How do we choose a blog theme? What is a plugin? What should we write about? Heck, we could hardly spell HTML, let alone build a blog!
But good news: it turns out that starting a blog is much easier than you think. We’ve learned a ton of lessons during our ascent to millions of readers, and now you can learn from our pain and suffering to avoid much of the tedium involved in setting up a blog.
How to Become a Blogger: Video Tutorial
If you prefer to watch our process for setting up a blog, we’ve created a step-by-step instructional video, How to Become a Successful Blogger Today , which shows the entire starting-a-blog undertaking. Otherwise, read on.
How to Start a Successful Blog in 5 Steps
While there are other blogging platforms out there like Blogger.com and Tumblr.com, nearly every serious blogger uses a self-hosted WordPress site because of its creative freedom and flexibility.
The Minimalists uses WordPress because it gives us greater control over the look and feel of our blog—more creative control than any other platform. Oh, and WordPress itself is free !
These are the exact steps we took when we created this website. If you follow these five steps, you will learn how to set up a blog in less than one hour.
Step 1 Choose your blog name and get your blog hosting
The first thing we did when starting our blog was go to Bluehost and register our domain, which is free with hosting. We’ll explain hosting in a moment, but let’s talk about your domain name first.
Blogging Quick Start – Step 1
In this first step you will choose your blog name (domain name) and buy your blog hosting.
- Go to Bluehost and click the Get Started Now button.
- Select the Basic plan .
- Pick your domain name and enter it into the New Domain box.
- Create your Bluehost account.
Click here to jump to the next step.
Choose your domain name
Your domain name is an important part of your blog because it creates a first impression—it is the name of your blog. Also known as your URL, your domain is also your address on the web. For example, our domain name is www.theminimalists.com.
So, what do you want to call your blog? Maybe it’s YourName.com. Maybe it’s YourBusinessName.com. Or maybe it’s a creative brand name you thought up. If you’re having a hard time thinking of a good domain name, try Wordoid , a wonderful naming tool that will give you plenty of great options. Just make sure you don’t buy the domain from them since Bluehost will give you a free domain. (If you’ve already purchased a domain elsewhere, that’s okay, too, because Bluehost will make it easy to transfer your existing domain during the setup process.)
Set up blog hosting
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, you’ll need to set up hosting for your blog. While WordPress itself is free (see Step 2 below), you need a reliable place to host your WordPress blog (your blog needs to be on a server somewhere on the Internet).
For hosting, we recommend Bluehost for several reasons:
- We Use Bluehost. We personally use Bluehost to host The Minimalists . If you recommend a company, you better be willing to use their product yourself. We also use them to host several other websites of ours.
- Great Pricing. TheMinimalists.com is a Bluehost affiliate partner, which means that in addition to using their service, we also receive a commission for referring new customers. To be fair, though, we would still use Bluehost even if we weren’t an affiliate—we’ve used them for a long time. Ergo, we don’t recommend Bluehost just because we’re an affiliate (every hosting company offers a similar affiliate program); we recommend Bluehost because they are the best, most reliable option. Plus, because we’re a partner, Bluehost offers a more than 50% discount for The Minimalists readers: only $2.95 a month for the first year.
- Free Domain. When you sign up for hosting, Bluehost will give you a free domain name, which allows you to avoid the upfront and recurring fees associated with purchasing a domain on your own. If you’ve already purchased your own domain name, don’t worry; you can still use your domain with Bluehost (it’s just one extra step).
- Money-Back Guarantee. Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk if you change your mind.
- Reliability. Bluehost’s facilities are world class. They have their own custom-built 20,000-square-foot datacenter with enough backup generators to power a city.
- Friends & Family. Many of our friends and family also use Bluehost to host their blogs.
Now that you’re ready to get started, go to Bluehost and click the Get Started Now button.
Next choose your hosting plan.
You’ll see that prices range from $3 to $6 per month, depending on whether you want a basic, single blog hosting plan or a more robust plan that allows you to create multiple blogs.
Once you select your plan you’ll choose or enter your domain name.
If you don’t own a domain name simply enter your desired blog name into the New Domain box.
If you’ve already own a domain name simply enter that into the I have a domain name box.
Click Next .
Finally create your blogging account.
And click Create your password to complete your blog hosting setup.
Just like that you’ve nearly become a blogger!
How to Start a Blog Ebook
Pressed for time? Learn how we started our successful blog using this free ebook.
Step 2 Start your blog by adding WordPress
Next you will install WordPress, which is free. Don’t let the word “install” intimidate you, though. It’s much easier than it sounds and Bluehost does all the work for you.
Blogging Quick Start – Step 2
Next you’ll install WordPress.
- Click the Log In button.
- Click Skip This Step on the Pick a theme screen.
- WordPress is now installed, click Start Building to go to your dashboard.
To begin simply click Log In .
Bluehost provides several blog design options, but simply scroll to the bottom and click Skip This Step (you’ll see why in a moment).
WordPress is now installed. Simply click Start Building to go to your new blogging dashboard and continue to Step 3.
Step 3 Pick a simple theme to make your blog your own
A theme allows you to pick a design for your blog without the need for coding expertise or design knowledge. In other words, a good theme helps you to design your blog exactly how you want it to look. If you’re not a coder (I’m certainly not a coder), then a theme makes the design work a million times easier.
Blogging Quick Start – Step 3
Next you’ll choose and install your blog’s WordPress theme.
- Go to BYLT .
- Purchase the theme that fits your style (we use the tru Theme).
- Download and save your theme’s .zip file to your Desktop.
- Return to your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes .
- Click Upload and then Upload Theme .
- Click Choose File , select your theme .zip file, and click Install Now .
- Click Activate .
Our blog design is from BYLT, a platform created by our good friends at SPYR. They have several beautiful, simple WordPress themes to choose from, and, in fact, you can purchase the same theme we use if you like.
Simply go to BYLT and find the minimalist WordPress theme that best fits your desired aesthetic. Their themes are feature-rich; plus, once you buy your theme, you will have the same team supporting your work that we trust to support ours.
Once you purchase your theme you’ll be able to download your WordPress theme (a .zip file) from your BYLT Dashboard . Save this file to your Desktop because you’ll need to upload it to WordPress in just a moment.
Remember how easy it was to install WordPress? Well installing your blog theme is just as simple.
First return to your WordPress Dashboard.
You should already be logged in, but whenever you are signed out go to my.bluehost.com , enter your new domain name (or username), your password, and click Submit .
From here, go to My Sites and click on Log in to WordPress .
Next, in your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes .
Next, click the Upload button.
Then, click the Upload Theme button followed by the Choose File button.
Find the .zip file you downloaded from your BYLT Dashboard (this is your theme file) and click Install Now to install your new simple blog design.
Finally, click Activate and your blog theme is installed.
Step 4 Add two key blogging plugins to find your readers and track stats
Plugins are third-party appendages that add additional functionality to your blog.
Blogging Quick Start – Step 4
In the final setup step you’ll install two plugins that will improve your blog’s features.
- In your WordPress Dashboard go to Plugins > Add New .
- Search for Yoast SEO . Click Install Now followed by Activate .
- Click the Add New button to add one more plugin.
- Search for MonsterInsights and click Install Now followed by Activate .
- Click the Launch the Wizard! button to configure MonsterInsights.
It’s best to keep your number of blog plugins to a minimum and install only the best ones, because too many plugins—as well as unreliable plugins—can slow down your site. We use very few plugins at The Minimalists .
In this section you’ll install and activate the following free plugins:
- Yoast SEO is the defacto standard SEO plugin for WordPress. For details and everything you’d ever want to know about WordPress SEO read Yoast’s Definitive SEO Guide .
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights allows you to track your blog’s traffic easily and with lots of interesting data: overall traffic, traffic sources, views per author & category, automatic tracking of outbound clicks and pageviews.
In your WordPress dashboard go to Plugins > Add New .
Search for Yoast SEO .
Then click Install Now followed by Activate and your blog will immediately have improved SEO.
Next search for MonsterInsights .
Then click Install Now followed by Activate .
Next click Launch the Wizard! and follow the steps to complete the MonsterInsights setup.
Finally, so people can receive our blog posts via email, we established a free Feedburner account. For a more feature-rich email-subscription service we recommend ConvertKit (affiliate link). (By the way, if you don’t already, subscribe to The Minimalists’ blog via email .)
Step 5 Write compelling content to create a blog that your readers love
Congratulations! You started a blog, and now it’s time to start blogging. This is where the fun begins.
Now that you have your own blog, you get to make it yours ; you get to turn your vision into a reality.
- Content . Start writing and publishing the content for your basic pages: create an About Page, Contact Page, Start Here Page, and any other page you want in the header of your new blog.
- Photo . Add a photo of yourself (pro tip: you can start with a well-lit selfie, but when you get a chance, get some professional photos taken; they’re well worth the cost because people identify with other people more than they identify with logos).
- Logo . Create a basic logo using a program like InDesign, Photoshop, or a text editor (note: even though we have no design skills, we were able to use Apple’s Pages application to create our simple logo after downloading some free vector art and choosing the typeface that best suited our aesthetic). Or you can hire someone like 99designs or SPYR to design a professional logo.
- Images . Spice up your blog posts with high-quality stock photos and images: Paul Jarvis (free), Unsplash (free), Library of Congress (free), iStock (fee-based), Shutterstock (fee-based).
- Comments . Determine whether or not you want comments on your blog; they are often a useful way to receive feedback and directly engage with your readers.
- Social . Establish a social media presence on Twitter , Facebook , or Instagram (or all three).
- Publish . Start writing new blog posts. Publish at least once a week, especially when first starting a blog, so you can build an audience. Below you’ll also find 20 blogging tips to improve your writing in the How to Blog section, as well as 15 reasons you should start a blog and 3 reasons not to start a blog.
We hope you have loads of fun expressing yourself on your new blog. We’re certain it will be a huge growth experience for you during the coming months. You have now officially become a blogger. Wherever you’re going, make sure you enjoy the journey ahead.
How to Blog: 20 Blogging Tips to Improve Your Writing
We receive many emails asking how to blog, about blog topics, and about creating meaningful content. The bulk of this essay explained how to start a blog, but that’s just the initial step. Now it’s time to start writing and publishing your content.
Here, to answer the frequently asked “How can a beginner start blogging?,” are 20 tips for beginners on how to blog .
- Find Your Niche . You needn’t have a niche, but it helps. When learning how to be a blogger, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re passionate about. Running? Cooking? Being a parent? Have you found your passion? If so, whatever it is, write about that. If not, then you must first find your passion .Note: We generally recommend that people don’t start a blog about minimalism or keto or any other heavily saturated topic. But what we really mean when we say this is: don’t create a blog about something unless you have a unique perspective. If you’ve embraced simple living and have a unique perspective, then by all means have at it.
- Define Your Ideal Readers . Once you’ve found your niche, you need to know who will be reading your blog. For example, we blog about living a meaningful life with less. Thus, our ideal readers are people who are interested in exploring minimalism so they can clear the path toward more meaningful lives.If you want to write about your newborn baby growing up, that’s wonderful: your ideal readers are probably your friends and family. If you want to write about restoring classic cars, that’s cool, too. Tailor your writing to your readers (whether it’s your family or local community or whoever else will read your blog).
- Add Value . Your blog must add value to its readers’ lives. You want to help people solve problems. This is the only way you will get great quality readers to your site (and keep them coming back).Adding value is the only way to get someone’s long-term buy-in. We both learned this after a decade of leading and managing people in the corporate world. With everything you write, it’s worth asking: Is this adding value?
- Be Original . Yes, there are other blogs out there about the same thing you want to write about. Question: So why is your blog different? Answer: Because of you . You are what makes your blog different. It’s about your perspective, your creativity, the value you add.
- Be Interesting . Write interesting blog posts. Especially if you want people to share it with others.
- Be Yourself . Part of being interesting is telling your story. Every person is unique, and your story is an important one. The important part of storytelling, however, is removing the superfluous details that make the story uninteresting. A great storyteller removes 99% of what really happens—the absorptive details—and leaves the interesting 1% for the reader.
- Be Honest . Your blog needs to be authentic—it needs to feel real—if you want people to read it. You can be your blog, or your blog can be you. That is, do you really embody the stuff you write about? If not, people will see through it.”Be the change you want to see in the world,” is the famous Gandhi quote. Perhaps bloggers should build the blog they want to write for the world.
- Transparency . Being transparent is different from being honest. You needn’t share every detail about your life just for the sake of being honest.Always be honest, and be transparent when it adds value to what you’re writing. (Because everything we write must serve the greater good, you won’t ever see pictures of us using the restroom—that’s simply not relevant.)
- Time . Once you’ve learned how to start a blog, you’ll learn that blogging takes a lot of time, especially if you’re as neurotic as we are.That said, once you have your design set up, don’t tweak it too much. Instead, spend the time on your writing.
- Vision . The reason our site design looks good is because we have a great host , we have a great theme , and, most important, we had a vision of how we wanted our blog to look.Once we had the vision, we worked hard to make that vision a reality. (Note: neither of us had any design experience before starting a blog.) It’s hard to create a beautiful blog if you don’t know what you want it to look like.
- Find Your Voice . Over time, good writers discover their voice and their writing tends to develop a certain flow, one that is appealing to their readers. Finding your voice makes your writing feel more alive, more real, more urgent. For additional reading, check out our blog post about Finding Your Voice .
- We Instead of You . Use the first-person plural when possible. Statements of we and our are more powerful than you and your , especially when talking about negative behaviors or tendencies. The first person comes off as far less accusatory. Think of it this way: we’re writing peer-to-peer—we are not gods.
- When to Post . Question: When is the best day and time to publish a blog post? Answer: It doesn’t really matter. We don’t adhere to a particular time-of-day schedule, but we do publish at least once a week because consistency is important. You needn’t get bogged down in the details, though.
- Social Media . Yes, we recommend using Twitter , Facebook , and Instagram to help connect with your audience and other bloggers, but don’t get too caught up in it. Focus on the writing first, social media thereafter.
- Ignore Negative Criticism and Stupidity . Sure, we get a lot of negative comments and stupid questions from ignorant people who aren’t really our readers (“You’re not real minimalists!”).We call these people seagulls : They fly in, crap on your site, and fly away. But we pay them no mind, because we didn’t start our blog for them. Delete their comment and move on.
- Research . Spend time researching what you’re writing about. The reason we are able to use so many helpful, relevant links in our essays is because we put in the time to research our topics.
- Keep It Simple . This is where minimalism can be applied to starting any blog, irrespective of its genre. No need to place superfluous advertisements or widgets all over your site. Stick to the basics and remove anything you don’t need—remove anything that doesn’t add value.
- Picture . Put a picture of yourself on your blog. People like to see the face of the person who’s writing the blog. If two goofy guys from Dayton, Ohio aren’t too afraid to put their pictures on their site, then you have nothing to worry about.
- Comments . If you’re going to have comments on your site, then read The Five Words That Kill Your Blog by Scott Stratten.
- Live Your Life . You’re starting a blog about your life (or about certain aspects of your life, at least), so you still need to live your life. There are things that we always put before blogging: exercise, health, relationships, experiences, personal growth, contribution. Simply put, live a life worth writing about.
15 Reasons You Should Start a Blog
We were inspired to research and write this blog post after reading Joshua Becker’s 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog , in which he discusses 15 great reasons why you should start a blog.
Why is the keyword here. Crucially, Becker writes about the purpose of blogging, not just how to start a blog. That’s what many of these other “blogs about blogging” seem to miss: they miss the purpose— the why behind starting a blog.
Here is a summary of our three favorite reasons from Becker’s list:
- You’ll become a better writer . “At its core, writing is communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and compelling others to agree with them,” writes Becker. “To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer, it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a resume, or an anniversary card for your spouse.” Spot on! Writing blog posts is not only a great way to improve your blog writing, it’s a wonderful chance to improve everything you write—from business emails and text messages to that novel you’ve been dreaming of penning.
- You’ll meet new people . “Whether it be through comments, emails, or social media, you may be surprised at how quickly you meet people online,” writes Becker. That’s true! The Minimalists’ blog is responsible for many of the most important relationships I’ve developed over the past decade—long-term business and personal relationships birthed from this very blog
- You’ll become more confident . “Blogging will help you discover more confidence in your life,” writes Becker. “You will quickly realize that you do live an important life with a unique view and have something to offer others.” So true! Writing helps us better understand the lives we live and the consequences of our actions.
3 Reasons You Should Not Start a Blog
So now you have 15 reasons why you should start a blog, and we’ve shown you how to start a blog, step-by-step, based on our personal experience.
But after giving you those detailed instructions, which could save you hundreds of hours of wasted time, we also want to give you some good reasons why you should not start a blog. (Keep in mind that these reasons are just our opinions, and we do not pretend to offer them up as a collection of empirical blogging maxims.)
- Money . You should not start a blog to make money. We need to get that out of the way first. If your primary objective is to replace your full-time income from blogging, forget about it. It doesn’t work that way.Do you think that Jimi Hendrix picked up his first guitar so he could “supplement his income”? No, he didn’t. Rather, he did it for the love of it, for the joy and fulfillment he received, and the income came thereafter—much later actually.
- Notoriety . Don’t plan on getting “Internet famous” right away. Not every site grows as fast as ours did, but that’s okay. The truth is that we kind of got lucky. We found a great domain name, we cobbled together a logo and site design that people liked, we write fairly well, and our content connected with people in a unique way.We didn’t start this site to become “famous,” though. That’d be ridiculous. We started this site to become bloggers and share a message. Our popularity came as a surprise to us, and it was a result of a little luck and a lot of hard, passionate work.
- Traffic . Not all traffic is good traffic , so don’t worry about getting thousands of readers right away. Spend your time producing meaningful creations and eventually the audience will show up if you are helping people solve problems. In other words, focus on adding value, not increasing traffic.
The funny thing is that all these things can happen. You could make a full-time income from building a blog. We do it, Corbett Barr does it, and so do many others. And you could become an Internet famous blogger like Leo Babauta or Chris Brogan .
But if these are the sole reasons you start blogging, you’ll be miserable because it will seem like a job. And if it feels like a job, you won’t be passionate about it, so you’ll either hate it or fall flat on your face (or both).
Instead, become a blogger and write because you’re passionate about it…
4 Blogging Resources
If you want to learn more about blogging, publishing, writing, and SEO, then check out these additional resources:
- What Kind of Media Counts? (Seth Godin)
- How to Publish an Indie Book (Asymmetrical Press)
- How to Write Better: Online Class (Joshua Fields Millburn)
- Some Funny Thoughts on SEO (Exile Lifestyle)
How to Start a Blog Infographic
FAQs When Starting a Blog
How do bloggers get paid do bloggers make a lot of money are blogs still profitable in 2023, how many hours do bloggers work, is blogging hard to do what do bloggers actually do, what does blog stand for what does blog mean, squarespace vs wordpress: why should i use wordpress instead of squarespace, how do i become a blogger, what’s the difference between a blog and a website, are blogs dead, does anyone read blogs anymore is blogging a waste of time, are blogs still relevant in 2023 is it worth starting a blog in 2023 is it too late to start blogging, should i start a blog or should i start a podcast, do i need a business to start a blog, is blogging a realistic career do careers in blogging have a future is blogging a good career, what has replaced blogging, which blog content is best what should i blog about, what does a good blog look like what is a blog used for what makes a good blog, what makes a blog successful, what kind of blog is most popular which type of blogs are most searched what are popular topics to blog about, how do you start a blog with no money how do you start a blog for free, how often should i blog, what should my first blog post be about, how do you introduce yourself in a blog, why do blogs fail, does bluehost charge monthly or all at once.
- Do you have a question that we didn’t answer?
How to make money blogging is the topic that beginner bloggers tend to be most interested in. At The Minimalists , we earn money in several ways:
- Creations . By building an audience who finds value in our message, we’ve been able to offer our three books and our documentary, Minimalism , to an audience who is willing to support our creative work. Consequently, all three books have been bestsellers and are now translated into more than a dozen languages; and thanks to Netflix, our documentary is available in 190 countries. (For more information about our book-publishing process, read this blog post series: How to Publish an Indie Book .)
- Audience Contributions . Since we refuse to clutter our blog or popular podcast with ads, we depend on audience support to fund production of our podcast. With more than 5,000 supporters on Patreon and many others via PayPal, The Minimalists Podcast is fully funded with audience support, which means we’re able to pay for our podcast producer, filmmaker, and studio space without advertisements on our platforms.
- Speaking . As we built our audience, many organizations, universities, and conferences began contacting us about speaking at their events. At first, we starting speaking for free just to build a name for ourselves. Then, we started charging a few hundred dollars per event. Now, we’re able to charge significantly more money because the demand for our talks is high.So far, The Minimalists have spoken at Harvard, Apple, Google, Allstate, SAP, SXSW, TEDx, and many other organizations. We speak about a wide array of topics, from simple living and “simple work,” to health, relationships, writing, publishing, social media, personal growth, and contribution—and it all started because we started this blog. (Anyone who is interested in hiring us to speak can visit our speaking page for details.)
- Tours . Over the past eight years, The Minimalists, have embarked on eight speaking tours , including 2017’s 50-city “Less Is Now” theater tour, which attracted an average of more than 1,000 people a night, with considerably larger audiences in bigger cities. Our 2014 “Everything That Remains” bookstore tour spanned 119 cities in eight countries and attracted 75,000 attendees.
- Writing Classes . I get countless questions about writing, so I’ve been able to transfer that skillset to help hundreds of students improve their writing over the years. I teach a four-week online writing class designed to improve the writing of people at any skill level—beginner, intermediate, or professional.
- Amazon Links . If The Minimalists recommend a product like this photo scanner , and then a reader purchases that product, we receive a small commission for that sale at no additional cost to our audience. We’re careful about what we recommend, however, because, as minimalists, we want you to consume less and to consume intentionally.
- Affiliate Sales . When we recommend services such as Bluehost and ConvertKit , we receive a referral fee. Once again, though, that’s obviously not why we recommend these services. Virtually every hosting company has an affiliate program, so we think it’s best to recommend the companies we trust.
Through these various means, Ryan and I are able to earn a full-time income through blogging. But it’s worth noting that making money from your blog is not the best place to start.
While there’s nothing wrong with making money—which you can do through affiliate links , advertisements , and your own products and services—the best reason to start blogging is because you have something to express.
If you make money along the way, that’s great. In fact, if you help people solve their problems, you’re all but guaranteed to make money from your blog—eventually. Let’s just remember there are at least four resources that are more important than money: skills, time, energy, and attention.
That said, let’s not kid ourselves by acting as if making money is irrelevant—it’s not. Making money from our blog is simply not the primary driver for our creativity or why we became bloggers. Although people often think of money as the ultimate resource, it is the least important of the five mentioned above.
Money won’t necessarily improve your life, but it will amplify your existing behaviors. If you have bad habits, then more money will make your life considerably worse. And if you’re already a generous person, then more money can help you be more loving, caring, and considerate.
Personally, I write one or two blog posts per week, usually in the evenings, or on weekends, so it doesn’t get in the way of my other activities. That’s the nice thing about blogging: you get to write whenever you want-no one tells you what to do, when to do it, or how much must be done. Within five months of learning how to blog, you’ll find your own rhythm that works for you.
Starting a blog is fun and simple. Using the instructions in this post, you can set up a blog today and start blogging by this evening.
This might sound simplistic, but bloggers write blog posts. Of course, that’s not all we do. Most bloggers I know are passionate about a particular topic-interior design, rock climbing, music reviews-and they use their blog to express their thoughts and opinions about that subject.
Writing a blog does not require a degree or special training. In fact, all you need is a desire to communicate with an audience. If you have that, then starting a blog is ideal for you.
According to Wikipedia , a blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of “discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts).” The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. The short form, “blog,” was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in 1999.
Today, blogs have many shapes and sizes. Many are public journals people use to express their feelings. Others, like this blog, exist to help people think critically and solve problems.
There are blogs that cover nearly every topic, ideology, and interest—from sports and politics to religion and travel and everything in between. Even the world’s largest news organizations—ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, and MSNBC—all have their own blogs.
It feels like we hear about Squarespace on every podcast. But when you compare Squarespace to WordPress, you soon discover that WordPress is superior in several ways.
While Squarespace isn’t a terrible option, it lacks the personal control that’s available with WordPress. This is why every serious blogger I know uses a WordPress blog.
Here are five reasons WordPress is better than Squarespace:
- Design (Themes) . Squarespace provides some beautiful templates, but they’re limited by the number of designs that are available. Since WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform, there’s an ecosystem of tens of thousands of themes ready to satisfy every want and need.While this variety is a benefit, we know full well that too many options can lead to a paradox of choice. This is why we recommend starting with the premium themes designed and supported by our friends at SPYR. We’ve worked with SPYR since the early days of The Minimalists and continue to recommend their products and services. (This is not an affiliate link—SPYR just does great work.)
- You Own Your Content . Owning your content means that you have full control over what you express on your blog—and complete access to take that content and use it anywhere that you wish. To enable the latter, WordPress provides tools to export your data for use on any hosting provider that you choose to use.With Squarespace you can never truly download a complete copy of your server files or database, but with WordPress you can create an exact replica of your blog, at any point in time. This is most valuable for maintaining backups or in case you choose to restart a blog with a new hosting company . With WordPress you have 100% ownership of your content, files, data, and design—and everything can be backed up.
- SEO . Out of the box, both WordPress and Squarespace are search engine friendly. But with a single plugin WordPress elevates your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A plugin we recommend for every blogger is Yoast SEO . This free WordPress plugin allows deep customization of your on-page SEO, but, more impressive, it provides automated content analysis. This helps guide you to improve and optimize your content for better readability and improved reach in search engines.While SEO isn’t everything, we all start our blogs in hopes that people will read what we’ve written. Following proper SEO practices can be a differentiating factor in reaching new people.
- Growth . WordPress is extremely robust and customizable. It allows you to build a blog exactly as you’d like. But what happens as your new blog grows? If you outgrow the off-the-shelf option, maybe it’s time to work with a designer to create a fully custom website that’s tailored to match your brand and image. Since WordPress provides you with complete ownership of the platform, it also provides a designer with the freedom to build and create your blog design without restriction. Nothing is off limits.
The answer is in the question: the only way to become a blogger is to start a blog. This might sound overly simplistic, but that’s because it’s not that complicated. If you follow these steps you’ll become a blogger and start blogging today.
There’s an old truism, “Writers don’t like writing; they like having written.” I think the opposite is true for bloggers: because of the instant gratification of the WordPress “Publish” button, I find that bloggers enjoy writing because they’re constantly sharing that writing with the world.
The barrier to entry is gone, so start blogging if you want to become a blogger. It really is that simple.
While the lines have blurred over the years, the simplest way to put it is that a blog is a type of website, one that catalogues, over time, the personal or professional thoughts and beliefs of a person or organization.
As your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas change, so will your blog. It’s nice to have a time capsule of our thoughts, as they’ve evolved over the past decade.
No, blogs are not “dead.” In fact, blogs are more alive than ever!
As a matter of fact, our blog has grown every year since 2010 and now boasts more than 3.78 million readers and an email list that continues to grow every month.
Millions of people read our blog every year-and our audience continues to grow because, thanks to our blog, new people find our work every day. But it’s not just The Minimalists who are successful. Blogs are popular all over the world, and they are the simplest way to publish content without middlemen or gatekeepers.
Blogging is the opposite of a waste of time. If you have a genuine desire to share your creativity with the world, then it’s one of the best “time investments” you can make. Our blog is simultaneously our practice space-where we share new ideas and writings with the world-as well as an announcement board that keeps our audience abreast of any new developments in the world of minimalism.
Starting a blog is arguably more important than ever. Whether you want to publish your writing, build an audience, open a business, or start a podcast , your blog is the home for your creative projects.
Once you’ve started a blog, you are no longer reliant on other people’s platforms. There’s nothing “wrong” with having an Instagram or TikTok account, but those platforms are ephemeral. If they fall out of relevance, then so do you (remember MySpace). That’s not the case with a blog, though. Because you own your blog, it stays with you no matter where the culture sways.
The best time to start a blog was a decade ago. The second best time is now . If you have an idea you want to share, get started!
You don’t have to pick one over the other. You can start a blog and start a podcast. That’s what we did. After starting our popular blog, which is now read by millions of people, we started a similar podcast, which, at the time of this writing, has more than 100 million downloads. Frankly, our podcast would not have witnessed the same success if we didn’t also have a blog. So if we had to pick one, we’d start a blog. But thankfully, you can choose both if you’re compelled by both creative outlets.
No, you don’t need a business license to start a blog. Even if you start earning money from your blog, you can claim that income on your personal taxes under your name and social security number. It was several years before Ryan and I turned The Minimalists into a limited liability company (LLC).
Blogging is still a career for many people, a great way to make supplemental income for even more people. But Ryan and I don’t look at blogging as a career. Rather, for us, it’s an opportunity to add value to people’s lives. Of course, if you add enough value, income tends to follow. Blogging has also enabled us to showcase our books, podcasts, films, social media, and other projects that add value to our audience.
While new forms of media continue to enter the picture-podcasts, newsletters, social media-nothing replaces having a home for your creative work. The Minimalists have a podcast, an email newsletter, and several social media accounts, but none of them could ever supplant our blog. Instead, we use our blog to point to these additional resources.
We often hear people say that you should blog about what you’re passionate about. That’s great advice if you know what that passion is. Maybe it’s technology, finance, baking, music, or rock climbing. If so, write about that!
If, however, you don’t know what you’re passionate about, don’t worry. Passion isn’t simply stumbled upon; it is cultivated.
Here are six questions to ask yourself to help you determine what you should blog about:
- What are your values? Whatever you write about, you want it to align with your values.
- What excites you? There will always be drudgery, but if you find something that excites you, you will be able to drudge through the drudgery.
- What makes you angry? If you aren’t excited by something, then anger is often a great motivator. If there’s something in the world you want to change, write about that. It will help inform and strengthen your values.
- How can you solve problems? You will feel fulfilled if you can provide solutions to people’s problems. Coincidently, if you write about solving your own problems, that will help other people solve those same problems, too.
- What if money wasn’t important? If money wasn’t a factor, what would you do with your life? Yes, you need to make money, but, just as important, you want to do something meaningful. Write about that.
- Who is the person you want to become? Your writing should help you become the person you aspire to be. Write as if you’re writing to make your future self proud.
A blog is used for two things: to express and to communicate . A good blog is able to marry communicative writing and expressive writing to create blog posts that are informative and entertaining.
When considering how you want to use your blog to communicate and express yourself, ask these questions:
- What message am I attempting to communicate?
- Does the writing express the emotions I want to the reader to feel? What are those emotions?
- Does this sentence serve a purpose?
- Can I cut this line and still preserve my message?
- How can I make this more concise?
- Do I need all these modifiers and qualifiers? (Hint: no!)
- If I killed the first two paragraphs, would this piece be better?
- How could I restructure this sentence/paragraph to make it more climactic?
You get to define what success looks like for your blog. Maybe your goal is to reach a thousand true fans, publish a blog post every day, or build a large audience so that you can sign a book-publishing contract with a major publisher. It is possible to accomplish any of these feats with your blog (I’ve done all three). Blogging has brought me more success than I ever expected: New York Times -bestselling books, millions of readers, international book tours, an Emmy-nominated Netflix film, speaking at Harvard, and much more. None of these achievements fit my original idea of success, but as I added value to an audience, I discovered what was possible.
While it is best to blog about subjects that interest you, these are some of the most searched blog topics:
- Career advice
- Local interests
- Food and beverage
In short, what do you find compelling? Blog about that! Your blog is more likely to become popular if you’re passionate about the topic.
The good news is that starting a blog is free with WordPress. All you need to pay for is hosting, as outlined in the step-by-step instructions above .
There are also other “free” amateur services like Tumblr or Blogger that allow you to start a blog on those company’s platforms. Just be careful, because you may not own your content if you’re posting it on someone else’s website. That’s one of the many reasons why we use WordPress.
When talking to my writing students, I recommend writing every day and publishing a blog post at least once a week. We usually publish two blog posts per week on this blog. Seth Godin blogs every single day.
Whatever you decide, we recommend you stay consistent. Setting a weekly schedule helps you create accountability partners (your readership) so you feel compelled to write even when you don’t want to write.
Avoid grandiosity. Avoid throat clearing. Your first blog post needn’t be a grandiose mission statement. And your first blog post doesn’t have to be a vapid, self-involved introduction to your blog.
Instead, find one thing that interests you today and write about that. Use the prompts in the “What should I blog about” section above.
For reference, you can read the first blog post on this blog, circa 2010: Be on the Mountain .
Don’t worry about introducing yourself in every blog post. Instead, create an “about” page that new readers can reference if they want to learn more about you, your life, and the projects you’re working on. See The Minimalists’ About page as an example. Our friend Derek Sivers also has a wonderful Now page that could work for you.
There are at least three reasons blogs fail:
- Some bloggers have poor expectations. If you start a blog today and expect a million readers overnight, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if your motivation is sincere-if you want to add value to the world-then you’ll find your expectations shift.
- Some bloggers don’t add value. Instead of metrics like subscribers or follower counts, The Minimalists focus on adding value to our audience. If you help people solve problems, the success will spring from that-not the other way around.
- Some bloggers put money first. There’s nothing wrong with earning a living from your blog (we do), but it needn’t be the main objective. Good blogs make money; great blogs make a difference. Said another way: we allow money to have a seat in the car, but it’s never the driver.
Bluehost bills annually, so when you use our link to receive the discounted rate of $2.95 per month you will be billed for the entire first year.
That said, if for any reason you decide that it’s not right for you, Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
More Blogging Questions
Do you have a question about becoming a blogger that isn’t answered above? Tweet to @theminimalists with your question and a link to this essay.
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Blogging For Writers: 12 Top Tips Every Creative Must Know
In this article, I explain how blogging for writers works and provide practical tips for getting started.
Are you struggling to find a direction for your work? Will starting a blog answer these questions and help you become a better writer?
I started blogging in 2013 after I was let go from a dream job that didn’t work out.
Knocked down, discouraged and running out of money, I wanted to set myself a realistic writing challenge: fill my free time and find a job.
That website was a failure because no one found my content helpful (ouch!).
My old website helped me get a writing job as a copywriter, and I learnt many painful lessons from my mistakes (more of those in a moment).
Blogging is the perfect outlet for authors and freelance writers who want to build a platform, share their message with an audience and develop their writing practice.
The internet’s number one blogger, Seth Godin summed it up best in his 5000th blog post :
My biggest surprise? That more people aren’t doing this. Not just every college professor (particularly those in the humanities and business), but everyone hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas. Entrepreneurs. Senior VPs. People who work in non-profits. Frustrated poets and unknown musicians… Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can. Seth Godin
1. Put Your Readers First
2. build up a library of blog topic ideas, 3. write articles based on uncompetitive keywords, 4. tell stories about your work, 5. try guest blogging, 6. acquire some technical skills, 7. create content consistently, 8. build a presence on a blogging platform you control, 9. balance blogging with your creative work, 10. limit time spent on social media, 11. study copywriting, 12. don’t worry about getting paid (at least, not yet), blogging for writers: the final word.
Content marketing rule 101: it’s not about you. It’s about them.
There’s little point publishing post after post about what you had for dinner, your thoughts on the latest Apple product, and why the new Batman vs Superman film is an awful or great idea.
Wait! I’m not a content marketer. Here’s the kicker:
If you’re a blogger, you are.
As a blogger, it’s your job to identify a niche and then commit to creating high-quality content that solves readers’ problems in your niche.
I learnt this lesson the hard way.
Years ago, I wrote posts about home theatre systems, books, and my thoughts on the latest Apple software.
Who reads my boring, meandering content?
Almost no one.
This is one reason why I pulled the plug on my old site.
On Become a Writer Today, I publish articles mostly about the craft alongside some writing apps reviews. I’m committed to publishing content that helps readers (you) succeed.
This is why I ask every new reader: what are you struggling with right now?
Their (your) answers give me focus for my work and makes my posts about them (you).
It’s easy enough to find topics to blog about if you know where to look. You could write about:
- A problem a reader is having
- A lesson you learnt
- A recent case study from a client (if you write non-fiction)
- Your creative process
It’s a mistake to publish articles all about you. Entertain, inform, inspire and educate your readers.
Keep your ideas for blog topics in a personal swipe file, Zettelkästen or Evernote.
When you’re starting out, I recommend aligning your blog topics with a keyword people are searching for but which doesn’t have a lot of commercial intent. That way, you can easily rank without facing stiff competition from more prominent websites.
I use keyword optimisation tools like AHREFS, Clearscope and Marketmuse to find keywords. These tools are pricey for new bloggers. But you can easily research popular keywords and topics using:
- Google AdWords planner
- Google Trends
- Keyword Generator
- Answer the Public
There are over 600 million active blogs in the world today.
Here’s the problem:
As a writer, your website has almost no chance of rising over this noise (sorry!) unless you learn basic online marketing strategies.
Many new writers are uncomfortable with the concept of marketing, but there’s no need to run in the opposite direction.
Marketing is simply a way of telling stories about your work. You can:
- Write quality guest posts for more prominent blogs in your niche (more on that in a moment)
- Build relationships with other bloggers and reach out when you’ve great content to share
- Start an email list and ask your most loyal fans to join it
- Build your personal brand as a writer on social media
- Pay for products or services by more successful writers and marketers and leverage these customer/buyer relationships to skill up
Guest blogging is an excellent way of building a relationship with other top bloggers and finding new readers. A former mentor of mine likened it to opening for the Rolling Stones. People are there to see the main act, but some of them will become fans of your work.
Find a bigger blog in your niche and pitch the site owner with a helpful article that over-delivers. Include a clear call-to-action back to your website. This will grow your readership and domain authority.
Guest blogging will help you learn how bigger sites operate and what type of content to create. It will also help clients find your work.
Want to learn more? Read our guide to guest blogging.
You don’t need to be Bill Gates to learn how to set up a blog and publish your posts. WordPress is free, and it only takes a few hours to learn.
Creating blog posts and running a website isn’t always as simple or straightforward as some make it out to be.
I’ve spent hours figuring out:
- The best hosting provider for a serious blogger
- How to change the look of my WordPress theme of choice using HTML and CSS
- The pros and cons of various WordPress plugins
- Taking SEO courses via LinkedIn Learning and, more recently, Traffic Think Tank
None of these tasks directly connect to writing, and they take up hours each week. But it’s time well spent.
If you feel uncomfortable about this way of working, remember writers who earn a good living work on their craft and their business each day. In the meantime, you can always write on Medium until you figure your niche out.
The internet thrives on content, and that includes blogs. If you want to build a popular website, it’s going to take time and patience. Creating and publishing blog content consistently means you’ll
- Practice writing more
- Learn what readers want and don’t want from great content
- Have more chances for your articles to rank in Google search engine results organically
- Explore your thinking and ideas via different blog topics
- Build up a portfolio of articles to demonstrate to clients
That means creating a self-hosted blog on WordPress and launching it on a domain of your own. That way, you can control your relationship with readers without becoming overly depending on an algorithm.
Publishing articles on blogging platforms like Medium is a good choice if you want to earn a little and build a relationship with readers.
But, your profile and call-to-actions should always lead people back to your website. This approach means clients can find and commission you for freelance writing gigs.
Years ago, I wrote fiction in the morning and non-fiction (i.e. blog posts) at night. These days, I write long-form non-fiction in the morning and work on my websites in the afternoon.
I won’t lie. It’s a difficult balancing act.
I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time on the business side of writing and not enough on creative work.
It helps if you figure out what type of writer you want to become and who your ideal audience is before investing time in blogging.
Then, ask how much time you want to dedicate to this craft. For me, this means publishing multiple high-quality blog post a week and dedicating the rest of my time to creating long-form non-fiction.
Any more than one post a week feels like overkill, and any less feels like taking my foot off the accelerator.
Spending hours tweeting, sharing, liking, pinning content online seems like a productive use of time for bloggers, but all you’re doing is feeding an algorithm and consuming other people’s content.
Plus, these channels’ owners can change the rules, so your content gains more or less attention.
Instead, far better to create content and publish it on a platform on own. After that, by all means, share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
If you’re going to take this craft seriously, write an article or work on blog content for at least thirty minutes each day before logging into your network of choice.
Several years ago, I took a creative writing class during which we practiced crafting long sentences that expand over 5, 10 and even 20 lines.
Blocks of text may look great on paper, but they are terrible to read on-screen.
As a blogger and online writer, it’s your job to learn how to break up your content with white space, lists, and clever formatting tricks.
You’ll also need to learn the basics of copywriting.
Blog like you’re writing literary fiction, and your would-be readers won’t read your content.
Here’s the good news:
Blogging and copywriting are types of writing practice that will help you become a more concise writer who knows how to sell a great idea.
If you’re a writer, you’re in the business of selling ideas.
If you wan to learn more about where to study copywriting, check out our guide to the best writing courses .
If you want to make money from writing, this craft isn’t the shortest and easiest way to get paid.
However, as a writer, you can make money by:
- Selling your books to your audience
- Offering writing and coaching services
- Creating an online course based on your writings
- Becoming an affiliate for products and books you recommend
It’s only worth doing the above after you’ve built an audience for your content.
If you write non-fiction, blogging is an excellent strategy because you can repurpose content from your books as blog posts and vice-versa.
It’s harder to build an online audience for your blog if you only write fiction, but you can still do it. It won’t happen overnight, but you can earn over six and even seven figures from content publishing.
Blogging is a fantastic venue for writers because we can express ourselves for free and practice the art of writing and publishing in public.
We don’t need permission to write or to publish our work.
(I hate asking for permission.)
Taking blogging seriously demands you as a writer pivot from talking about yourself and your ideas towards solving problems for your ideal audience.
You need to get into the ring with your readers, understand their every move before they do, and then provide content that knocks them out.
It’s a challenge, but you’ll succeed if you train like every blog post is a championship fight.
Or as Seth says:
I’ve never once met a successful blogger who questioned the personal value of what she did.
You need to start blogging, but where do you begin?
Pick a topic your readers are interested in. Write about how the topic from the point of view of your expertise. Tell stories and include some real-world examples. Publish this article on Medium. Repeat until you discover what works.
But what if you still need help picking a topic for your blog?
The best blogs focus on their readers and not on the writer. If you’re unsure about how to do this, consider the genre you like to write in. Now produce educational and entertaining content related to this genre. If this approach won’t work, set up a blog in your name but explain how you help readers.
What is Guest Blogging?
Best Landing Page Page Software
Blog to Book
Using Scrivener for Blogging
The Best Writing Apps (includes blogging software)
A 5 Step Guide to The Creative Process: How to Generate Ideas Fast
Top 10 WordPress Themes for Writers
What Is Content Editing?
Best Stock Photo Websites
How To Make Money On Medium
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Bryan Collins runs things around here. He's also a non-fiction writer and author.
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Finding the Best Creative Writing Blogs on the Internet
Regardless how many books I’ve written or sold, if I’m not still educating myself about writing, I’m stagnating.
My late mother taught me the value of life-long learning. Not only was she a piano teacher into her eighties, but she was also a piano student.
One of the most powerful learning tools today is the internet. But you could surf through endless writing blogs before finally finding which are the best for you and worthy of your time.
So I asked my team to research what’s out there, and we’ve compiled a short list to get you started. But you also know how to search by specifying genres and areas of interest, so don’t stop here. Our list is by no means exhaustive, and I haven’t even included all the ones I enjoy.
Here, then, are just suggestions of a few blogs you might want to check out to start your own list of writing resources —and we list them in alphabetical order:
- Become a Writer Today
Through his blog Become a Writer Today , Bryan Collins focuses on the needs of new writers.
A non-fiction writer, blogger, and podcaster, Bryan writes on those genres, as well as on self-publishing . He’s written two 3-book series, “Become a Better Writer Today” and “The Power of Creativity.”
A team of writers cover the business side of writing and such topics as writer’s block , formatting, and best practices.
- The Creative Penn
A New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, Joanna Penn is behind The Creative Penn .
She also writes books for writers—her 21 titles have sold more than a half million copies. She’s a speaker, an entrepreneur, runs Curl Up Press, and has been named one of the top 100 Creative Professionals in the UK.
Joanna’s blog focuses on self-publishing, marketing, and writing. The Creative Penn podcast offers more than 350 episodes on writing.
- Creative Writing Now
Founded by writing teacher Nancy Strauss, Creative Writing Now offers courses, tips , prompts, and information on writing contests. Writing teachers will find lesson plans as well.
DIY MFA serves as a do-it-yourself manual for the equivalent of a Master of Fine Arts in writing without the expense. It centers on writing with focus, reading with purpose, building your writing community, and how to discover the writing tools available online and off.
Founded by author and podcaster Gabriela Pereira, the site posts on everything from playwriting to surviving rejection, travel writing, and many other writing topics. She offers a “ writer igniter ” that generates writing prompts.
- Jane Friedman
A must read for writers and publishers, blogger Jane Friedman is one of the leading voices in the digital age of publishing.
She has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, publishes The Hot Sheet (a newsletter for authors), is a columnist for Publishers Weekly , a professor with The Great Courses ( How to Publish Your Book ), and wrote The Business of Being a Writer .
Jane’s blog offers how-to’s on publishing, writing a book proposal , finding a literary agent , and many other such topics.
- Helping Writers Become Authors
Through her website Helping Writers Become Authors , K.M. Weiland has published more than 1,200 blog posts educating writers on the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of writing and publishing.
She offers a bi-monthly e-letter, a podcast, and a vlog. She writes historical and speculative fiction, as well as how-to books, including Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel .
- Live Write Thrive
Novelist, copyeditor, and writing coach C.S. Lakin created Live Write Thrive to help write your novel with posts like “ The Challenges of Believability in Writing Science Fiction ” and “ The 3 Ways to Show Emotion in Your Characters .”
Bridget and Brendan McNulty and Dagmar Timler co-founded Now Novel , a platform designed to help you craft your story .
The blog offers information for writers at every stage, a character writing hub, productivity tips, and help creating fantasy worlds.
- Pro Writing Aid
Pro Writing Aid is a desktop app you can use with programs like Scrivener , Word, and Google Docs. It catches grammar errors, suggests style changes, and even checks your work for plagiarism.
Their blog covers which writing apps are best, the writing process, blogging and content writing, grammar rules , and business writing.
- Write It Sideways
Founded by Suzannah Windsor, Write It Sideways is for aspiring and emerging writers .
A team of writers answers questions budding writers ask, and blogs on things like writer’s intuition,“Confessions of a Writing Group Virgin,” and “Here’s the Type of Hate Mail Bloggers Get.”
- Writers Helping Writers
Authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi created Writers Helping Writers for new writers, seasoned writers, editors, and writing teachers. The blog offers advice on technique and strategy, as well as “Navigating the Changing Face of Book Promotion with Smart, Effective Strategies” and “ How To Stop Self-Doubt From Holding You Back From Writing .”
- The Write Practice
Joe Bunting started The Write Practice to help writers become better through practice.
He offers writing prompts and provides a platform for fellow writers to offer feedback on what you’ve written.
And of course you’re always welcome to visit me at JerryJenkins.com .
Over the last half century I’ve been an editor, a publisher, a nonfiction author, and a novelist—yet I’m still learning and growing like you. I offer a 20-Step Guide on How to Write a Book , How to Develop a Great Story Idea , Find the Right Writers Group and How to Write Dialogue .
- Time to Get to Work
The best mentoring comes from seasoned writers proven in their fields. So dive into these blog sites and commit to life-long learning.
Are You Making This #1 Amateur Writing Mistake?
Faith-Based Words and Phrases
What You and I Can Learn From Patricia Raybon
Before you go, be sure to grab my FREE guide:
How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps
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Become a Writer Today · The Creative Penn · Creative Writing Now · DIY MFA · Jane Friedman · Helping Writers Become Authors · Live Write Thrive · Now
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