So, how do you start a blog in 2021? Things have changed over the years, but the basics are still the same.
How to Start a Blog in 2021 Guide:
- How to Determine Your Goals for the Blog
- How to Choose a Blog Niche
- Choose Your Blog Name and Secure the Domain
- What is the Foundation for Blogging Success
- How to Choose Hosting for Your Blog
- How to Install WordPress on Bluehost
- How to Customize Your Blog
- Which Critical WordPress Plugins do You Need
- Closing Thoughts & Guidance
Beginners Guide to WordPress Blogging:
PREFACE TO DISCARD OVERWHELM:
Anytime we start something new, it can be overwhelming. You can get stuck on a specific piece of a project until you simply never start. This is what we will avoid here.
Take these action steps before you begin:
- Clear your desk (no more than 6 things total are allowed to be on it).
- Get a notebook and a pen which you will need to answer the below questions.
- Time block 2 hours to work on this without distraction.
- Avoid surfing the internet (if you think of something you need to look up or want to research, write it down and do it later).
- Focus 100% on the questions that will lead you to self-awareness.
- Come up with a deadline and execute.
How to Determine Your Goals for the Blog
There are many different reasons for starting a blog. To avoid wasting precious time, you will want to identify what yours are.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want your blog to BE the BUSINESS?
- Do you want the blog to BE a lead generation tool for your BUSINESS?
- Are you starting the blog as completely a hobby (i.e., Documenting your travels)?
Whatever your blog goal is, the setup is relatively similar and can be done in a step-by-step format.
That said, you need a domain, web hosting (choosing the correct hosting is SUPER important), WordPress plugins, and a content strategy. Suppose you are looking at this for starting a business or growing your business. In that case, I highly recommend reading my article, How to Start a Small Business.
This will help you filter out what is important to you long-term make the necessary mental adjustments upfront. For instance, if you have a family, how much are you willing to work, or is the goal to make a significant amount of money with the least amount of hours to make more time for your family.
You can make $300,000 a year, work 70 hours a week, or make $300,000 and work 20-30 hours a week. A lot depends on what you choose your goals and the tactical steps you commit to achieving them. The reality is that you have one shot at life, time is your MOST valuable resource, so you want to design the life you want to live versus a life you THINK you should live.
In this self-discovery process, you will want to consider:
- Your financial goals
- Do you just want a side income because you love your current job?
- How much do you need to replace your income now?
- How much do you need to replace your income and save 20% more for retirement?
- How much do you need to save to be Financially free?
- Your lifestyle goals
- Do you want to work in a physical office?
- Do you want to be geographically free?
- Would you like to be your own boss?
- How many hours do you genuinely want to work a week (i.e., some people really feel fulfilled working more hours than less, so the question goes both directions)?
- Your family goals
- Assess how many hours minimum does your family duties take up a week?
- How much will that increase or decrease in the next 2-3 years?
- Do you have enough help to reduce the number of hours temporarily while you build the business?
- How much time could you realistically put in without hurting the relationships?
- Your health goal (as none of the above matters if you do not have your health)
- There are 2 ways to tackle this
- Healthy eating (No fad diets that is not sustainable. Instead try daily micro-commitments)
- Exercise (for me, I found jiu-jitsu and fell in love with it, so try to find something that you love to do that you also get good exercise)
- How much time will you devote to healthy eating?
- How much time will you devote to weekly exercise?
Next, you will want to explore the balance between choosing a profitable niche and combining that with pursuing what you are interested in.
How to Choose Your Niche for Your Blog
So much about what you decide in choosing a niche is dependent on the GOALS for your blog.
Passion is good, but it also can be a slippery slope. There is also what I would call DIRECT and INDIRECT passion. Ideally, you would choose a passion that your DIRECT passion has already proven to have made money. One that is evergreen, meaning it will be popular now and in a decade, i.e., Health & Wellness or Travel.
Let me explain. A DIRECT passion would be if you were fully locked into the topic. Direct would lead back to the category or niche itself. If you do not have a DIRECT passion, you can always lean on getting really good at the INDIRECT passion parts.
For example, direct passions could be:
- Health and Fitness
- Nutrition and Wellness
- Personal Finance
An INDIRECT passion would be part of the PROCESS that you may be interested in. This has less to do with the category and much more to do with the SKILLSET MASTERY and process-oriented business pieces.
Examples of indirect passions would be:
- Building the brand regardless of the topic.
- Marketing the brand irrespective of the topic.
- Operations, regardless of the topic.
- Financials, regardless of the topic.
If you can fall in love with the process, or at least as many aspects of the process as possible, you will have a more substantial chance of success.
The ideal situation is finding a DIRECT passion and being excited about mastering the INDIRECT passion pieces of the business.
Choose Your Blog Name and Secure the Domain
I see many make the mistake of just choosing a name randomly without thinking much about it. By going through the process of thinking about your goals and the niche you want to be in, this step will be easier.
If you already have a business and will use the blog for lead generation purposes only, this is far less important.
If you are about to start a blog and want to build it into a money-making machine or even a side income, this step is not negotiable.
Addressing wasting time:
If you spend 40-80 hours a week on this blog and find out 2-3 years down the road that the name was already taken and there is a Trademark ™ on it, you just threw away massive momentum and lots of time and effort.
A legal battle will begin that you will most likely lose. All the hours and the entire business would have to pivot and/or start from scratch or near scratch. There are a few simple fixes to that, which we will discuss soon.
Addressing the creative process:
This process can be more difficult if you don't do the work upfront on your goals and your niche. However, if the pre-work is done, it will allow this part to flow better.
If you have a natural design, creative brand mind, this may not be as difficult for you. But suppose you at all have procrastination tendencies and ADHD like me. In that case, momentum is your friend, and indecision is the enemy.
That said, there are a few different stages to do this process effectively. Most of your time will be spent on researching and refining.
The stages are as follows:
- The first is understanding WHO your target audience is (Remember, this blog is not about you, it is about THEM).
- The second is brainstorming all possibilities without being critical of yourself here (Let your ideas flow without judgment).
- The third is narrowing down your top choices.
- Lastly, taking your top picks and seeing which ones are available for you to move on.
Keep in mind, this is the beginning of the process, so know that if it gets hard, push through until you end up with your name.
So what are some of the roadblocks that you may run across when choosing a name?
- It is already in use or is TOO similar to something that is in use.
- The name has been Trademarked with the US.
- It is too generic of a name to get trademarked easily.
So what can you do to combat these simple mistakes?
- Run a simple Google search.
- Then go to the USPTO website and search to see if it has been Trademarked.
- Next, search the most dominant social media platforms to see if it is in play.
To start a new blog and choose your new blog’s name, you must review a few factors.
When deciding on a name and a domain, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Try to get a .com if possible.
- Make sure it is simple, not too long, easy to type and to remember.
- Have spelling and pronunciation uncomplicated and understandable (imagine spelling it out on the phone when someone asks for your website).
- Not include any numbers or anything that could confuse readers.
- Try to include a keyword that best describes and represent your blog (but it is not needed).
Keep in mind, if you are building a brand, the last thing you want to do is NOT do this research upfront. Think about it; you’ll be spending thousands of hours building your brand. You want to avoid common pitfalls in the beginning that you can.
What is the Foundation for Blogging Success
The foundation for your blogging success is:
- Your personal goals for the blog/business.
- The niche you choose.
- The domain name you will build your blog around.
- The hosting service where your blog will live.
- The basic tech setup.
- Getting started writing to build momentum.
All of these steps are simple to take that will force speed, momentum, and kill in-decision to prevent you from starting.
Critical preface on paralysis analysis: Many people get stopped in their tracks right here and put too much pressure on themselves. In any NEW venture, the MOST critical thing is MOMENTUM. Momentum is super powerful, especially for a creative endeavor.
One of the biggest momentum killers is indecision.
Here is how to overcome that:
- Secure your hosting.
- Choose your domain name.
- Get the basics of the blog set up.
- Begin writing with a goal of 10 articles as your base content strategy (you can keep all the pages private, to begin with, remember it is about momentum, NOT perfection).
So what hosting service should be the cornerstone of your blog? Well, let’s get right into that.
How to Choose Hosting for Your Blog
Every blog or website needs a web host; otherwise, it won’t be accessible on the internet. That choice is significant. A good hosting provider gives you excellent service that is reliable, secure, and plays nice with WordPress.
Personally, I recommend Bluehost. It is an easy option when learning how to start a new blog. Also, most bloggers start out using it and that is the reason why I chose it myself.
Bluehost has many pluses (for example, money-back guarantee, high-speed servers, easy WordPress installation, very low monthly costs, solid customer service, etc.). It is one of the oldest web hosting companies on the internet and highly user-friendly for non-tech people.
Now, I will walk you through a simple hosting plan in a few steps:
- Go to Bluehost.com. You will see the “get started” button on the main page that you have to click on.
- Choose a hosting plan. That will be on the next page. When just starting out, I would suggest going with the cheapest plan (the basic plan).
- Provide your account information.
- Choose an account plan. Here you have to decide which package you will go with. My suggestion is to pick “Prime 36-month price”. That is the cheapest option over time (See below prices for Bluehost).
- Confirm your account and set a password. After successful registration, you have one more step, a critical step, to create your password.
- Log in to your account. It is all done!
Now for the setup!
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost for Your Blog
If you are unfamiliar with WordPress, I will touch on it briefly.
WordPress is essential because it helps you to create, publish, and share web pages. It is a platform that hosts blogs.
WordPress presents a dashboard where you can edit pages, users, comments, etc., and generate, correct, and manage posts.
WordPress offers free plugins, themes, and other modern solutions to improve your new blog.
It is super easy to install. If you are going to use Bluehost, it will take you just a few minutes to install WordPress.
If you are like me and are not very technical, you can tackle this task in a few different ways. The first is to read the help section of Bluehost, and it will walk you through step-by-step.
Secondly, get Bluehost customer service to walk you through it. In my experience, they are top-notch in the customer service department. You can call them directly or jump on a live chat with them and knock this task out in a matter of minutes.
Remember, it is about speed and momentum. So if you are scared of the tech side of it (I am not a tech person in the slightest, and I did it), then just make the call to them once you have successfully logged in to your new hosting account.
How to Customize Your Blog and Choose a Theme
As you can already see, every step is about making smart micro-decisions to set your blog and your business up correctly. These small decisions will keep the momentum moving forward.
Now it is time to choose a theme. Are there free themes, yes. Should you use a free theme, no. There are many reasons why you do not want to just use a free theme. However, the main ones are security, WordPress plugins, and having to do minimal customization.
You want to choose a premium theme that already works well and is widely used.
A WordPress theme. That is an esthetic part as you have to choose, create: your logo, blog’s colors, etc. That visual part is controlled by themes.
This part of work on your blog might be tedious, but embrace it, as it is the foundation of your success. It is a thrilling and gratifying step in the journey of starting a blog.
The initial setup can be confusing for many. I know it was for me. As I was researching, it was apparent that there were many different ways to set this up.
But, I had so many questions about what the best setup is. This can throw many into paralysis analysis.
When you are just starting out, this is an area that you do not want to linger in too long for you to get discouraged. You also just do not want to guess or just do whatever is easiest. You can complicate things later as your blog takes off and you are ready for scale.
For now, keep it simple.
So this is the step by step guide of what I would do if I had to do it over again:
- Purchase the Genesis Framework directly from StudioPress, the creators of it.
- Choose a Premium Theme that runs on the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. This will ensure that you streamline the setup. Buying a StudioPress child theme gives you the peace of mind that it will work well with the Genesis Framework. Besides, the support will be easier as well.
- Look for a simple design and avoid any clutter on your site.
- Make sure the Theme is desktop and mobile-friendly.
- Organize the layout, and make sure that the menu looks good on mobile and desktop devices.
- While creating a blog’s content, use fonts that are easy to read. This is more important than what you think is fancy and cool looking. Remember, it is not about you, it is about THEM.
Now that you have the foundation set up, you will want to make sure that it is as tactically operational as possible.
Which Critical WordPress Plugins do You Need
To add all additional blog functionality, you will want to do this through WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugins are apps, tools with various options that you can download without any coding. Remember, I am not technical, and I set this all up on my own, so you can too.
This is definitely an area of your life where you want to practice MINIMALISM. There are a lot of choices out there. A good rule of thumb is to ONLY install the recommended ones that have a real critical function for the success of your blog.
If you load too many of them, it may affect your website’s speed and functionality, which is the reason to be super selective.
Below are the essential plugins for you to start with so that you do not get overwhelmed:
MonsterInsights: The best Google Analytics plugin in the game. It is easy to use and powerful. It has universal tracking, real-time stats, and a user-friendly Google Analytics dashboard. The page-level analytics are top-notch, which allows you to see your most popular posts, pages, and sections of your site. Also, it has affiliate links and ads tracking, which automatically allows you to track clicks on your affiliate links or banner ads.
Yoast SEO: SEO (Search engine optimization) helps readers find your website/blog in search engines. If you want your blog to be successfully filled with visitors, you must install SEO from day one of your blog.
If you are looking for an easy way to do this, there is really no need to look any further. The free version is very powerful, and once you are ready to take your SEO to the next level, there is a premium version that is dirt cheap for what it offers.
You do not need to master SEO. The good people at Yoast SEO walk you through things step-by-step.
WPForms Lite – It is an easy plugin that allows you to drag and drop contact forms on any page of your blog. You can set up a contact form, feedback, subscription, and payment form in minutes, even if you are not technical.
W3 Total Cache: When you are an Entrepreneur, your end-user is everything. Simple things like webpage load times are super important. People have much smaller attention spans, which are shrinking every day. This plugin will improve your overall site performance and reduce load times.
All In One WP Security: WordPress is very secure. However, you can never be too careful. This is an all-in-one security plugin that adds an extra layer of protection without slowing down your site, and it is 100% free.
All 404 Redirect to Homepage: The last thing you want is broken links giving your end-user a terrible experience and sending them to 404 pages. 404 error pages can hurt your site’s rank in search engines, so you want to fix this ahead of time.
This plugin allows you to automatically send 404 pages back to the homepage, for example. This allows for a much better user experience and ensures you are playing nice with search engines.
Below is a recap of the steps to get you started quickly:
- Get your Bluhost.com hosting account setup.
- Choose your domain name.
- Get your essential plugins established.
- Begin writing your 1st 10 articles.
- Come up with a deadline that you will have the above steps completed.
- AVOID IN-DECISION THE DREAM KILLER.
How to Start a Blog in 2021: Closing Thoughts and Guidance
The thought of starting a blog can be overwhelming at first. However, as you can see, you can simplify the process by taking one small step at a time.
The key is understanding what you have to do and then setting up micro-actions to complete the larger project.
This will eliminate the enemies of overwhelm, indecision, and procrastination. Take it from someone with ADHD and needs extreme external structure to accomplish what I set out to do.
Breaking everything down into smaller, more manageable counterparts and ATTACH deadlines to them will allow you to accomplish more than you ever set possible. Many of you may not struggle with focus, but for my brothers and sisters out there who have ADHD superpowers, this strategy has been gold.
Good luck! Stay consistent! Set a goal for your blog and execute something on it every day!