Wondering how to start a blog and make money?
This step-by-step guide will show you how!
Starting a blog was the best decision I ever made for my family and me.
It’s allowed me to be a stay at home mom full-time and work according to my own schedule – I get to work from home and make an online income while taking care of my little girl!
The flexibility and potential of blogging is also unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Bloggers can earn between $500 to $60,000+ a month!
Check out these monthly blogging incomes:
- $60,000 – Lindsay at Pinch of Yum
- $28,117 – Holly at Club Thrifty
- $9,026 – Lena at What Mommy Does
- $3,364 – Meredith at Arts and Classy
As long as you’re willing to make time for your blog and learn a little bit every day, the sky’s the limit!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I could earn a small commission if you use them. This comes at no additional cost to you and all recommendations are based on my own experience.
So, how do you start a successful blog?
I know you’ve read it hundreds of times already – starting a blog is easy.
And you know what, it’s true – buying a domain name and hosting is ridiculously simple.
The challenging part is decision making like:
- knowing which host to go with – spoiler alert: I only recommend one!
- what you need to do immediately after starting your blog
- which tools and resources are actually worth investing in and which ones you should skip
- what types of content will make you money
I update this post frequently and have spent months adding new information – because as I find valuable tools to grow my blog, I want to help you grow yours too!
This comprehensive guide offers an introduction to blogging and includes a downloadable PDF checklist for reference anytime you want to work on your site!
So, let’s get started and learn:
- How to start a blog on Siteground
- How to create your blog in WordPress
- How to find your blogging niche + whether or not you really need one
- How to make money from your blog
- Tips for creating a brand for yourself
- How to launch a successful blog
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How to Start a Blog: Tips & Tricks for a Successful Website Launch in 2020
I’ve had experience with three different hosts and website builders.
So, I can honestly tell you that self-hosting a WordPress blog with Siteground is the only way to go if you want to make money blogging!
Before this, I started blogging with the premium version of Wix and then tried WordPress.com – both platforms were extremely limited when it comes to features and monetization opportunities.
Major brands like Yoast, WPBeginner, and Elementor rely on Siteground hosting for their websites and after hosting my own blog with Siteground for almost two years, I can see why!
Thanks to Siteground, I constantly geek-out about my blog’s incredible performance – it’s fully loaded in just 1.1 seconds which makes it faster than 75% of sites on the web!
When time is money, that’s a big deal – most website users will ditch a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load!
Siteground also offers helpful 24/7 support in the form of live chat or a phone call and for me, this is what makes Siteground the easiest place to start a blog from scratch.
As a once technically challenged mom who referred to social media collectively as Pin-stagram, this gave me serious peace of mind!
1. How to Start a Blog on Siteground
What do I need to start a blog?
We need only two things to get going:
A Blogging Platform:
The service you’ll use to publish your blog content – in this case, WordPress.
Your blog hosting is the space where your website will be stored.
In English, it’s a little space on the internet you’ll rent from our host, SiteGround – kind of like renting an apartment.
Now, let’s choose the right hosting plan to start your new blog.
Using the link above will give you access to a huge Siteground discount – the page you’ll see looks just like this.
Step (1) Choose a Blog Hosting Plan
There are three different SiteGround hosting plans you can choose from: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
I highly recommend the StartUp plan for new bloggers – it’s a great choice that’s budget friendly at $6.99 a month.
The StartUp plan has everything you need to start growing your new blog and when your traffic picks up, it’s really easy to upgrade to a plan that allows for more traffic.
I phoned in to make the change and the whole process took about three minutes – easy peasy!
Step (2) Choosing a Domain Name
After you’ve chosen your plan, you’ll see this page.
It’s time to choose your domain name, blogger!
Your domain name should be the same as your blog name.
For example, my blog is called Nikki Blogs and my domain name is nikkiblogs.com
Buying a Website Domain Name: Tips
Consider the following when naming your new blog:
- Your blog name should be memorable and ideally, two or three words long.
- Choose a .com – it gives your visitors a great first impression before your site has even loaded and it’s easier to remember!
- If you’re already set on what you’ll be blogging about, use a keyword to identify your niche
- don’t use numbers or hyphens – it’s too hard to remember
Blog Name Ideas
Choosing a name for your blog shouldn’t be that difficult but if you’re having trouble deciding on a blog domain name, consider using your own name.
Nine out of 10 people spell my last name wrong! So, I went with Nikki Blogs.
You could do this too – your name plus a verb!
A generic domain name like your own name also gives you an opportunity to showcase more of what makes you special while leaving room to play with in case you change your mind on what you want to blog about later.
When I started blogging, it was about life in Vancouver and raw vegan cooking – clearly, I’ve gone a different route.
You’re not locked down to anything and it’s ok to change your mind later on!
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, plug it into the Please Enter Your Domain field.
Step (3) Fill In Your Account Info
Here comes the easy part!
Fill in your Account and Client Information.
Now, fill in your Payment Information.
Next, confirm your Purchase Information and be sure to choose at least a 12 month term to get your StartUp plan for $6.99 a month!
Now, choose whether or not to add any Extra Services – you don’t necessarily need SG Site Scanner since there are a lot of other free options for security out there but I do recommend and use Domain Privacy personally.
This just keeps your personal information private.
Now, check the box to confirm that you agree to SiteGround’s Terms of Service and click Pay Now to complete your purchase.
Congratulations, you’ve got blog web hosting!
This is the first step in an amazing adventure! Now let’s install WordPress on your blog.
2. How to Create Your Blog in WordPress
You’re now ready to learn how to start customize a blog.
First things first, let’s install WordPress!
Ready for a seriously easy way to create a blog?
Let’s use the Website Setup Wizard to install WordPress!
When you log in to the My Account section of your new WordPress hosting plan for the first time, you’ll see an orange button that reads Set Up Site.
Let’s click it.
Since your blog is brand new, you’ll want to click Select below Start New Website.
Now, let’s click Select below WordPress to install to install it on your new blog.
Now, enter an Email address and Password for your WordPress login – for extra security, choose a username and password that are different than your SiteGround login details!
Next, decide if you want to Add Extras like SG Site Scanner to your website.
Personally, I opted for free security plugins for the first few years of managing my blog! We’ll talk about them more in a bit.
Log in to WordPress
Let’s log in to to your new WordPress Account by clicking the Websites tab from your My Siteground homepage.
Under Website Details you’ll see your domain name.
Click the WP ADMIN button to the right.
Under Action click the right pointing arrow to Log in to Admin Panel.
Enter the WordPress account details we set up a moment ago.
WordPress Tutorial for Beginners
Welcome to your WordPress Dashboard!
This is where you’ll spend most of your time navigating in and out of your Blog Posts as well as setting up your Theme and downloading cool Plugins for your site.
Let’s talk about your WordPress setup and what you should do first!
Change Permalink Settings
Ok, so this isn’t the most exciting part but I promise, it is one of the most important – on my list of things I wish I knew about blogging from the start, this is number one!
On your left sidebar menu, hover over Settings and select Permalinks.
WordPress gives you the opportunity to create a custom URL structure for both your permalinks and archives.
A great starting point would be Post name – using this Permalink structure will make it easy for your viewers to search for your articles when they want to review them and will help you rank in search engines later on!
Delete Default Items
Let’s remove unnecessary posts, widgets, and plugins!
Delete WordPress Posts
To remove posts, click the Posts tab in the left sidebar.
To delete all WordPress posts, click the box beside Title and select Move to Trash from the Bulk Actions menu. Click Apply.
If you’d rather keep a couple while you customize your WordPress theme, you can also delete multiple posts by choosing them individually.
Delete WordPress Plugins
To remove WordPress Plugins, hover over the Plugins tab in the left sidebar of your dashboard and choose Installed Plugins.
Click the box beside Plugin at the top left of your screen. Now, go back and deselect Elementor and SG Optimizer – these plugins are an essential plan of my blogging plan and I think you’ll enjoy them too!
Now, from Bulk Actions, select Deactivate and click Apply.
Once those plugins have been deactivated, you can go ahead and Delete them by once again choosing it from the Bulk Actions menu and clicking Apply.
Delete Meta Widget
From the Dashboard, hover over Appearance and click Widgets. Find the Meta widget box and click Delete.
Install WordPress Plugins
There are a few WordPress plugins that I recommend installing as soon as you get started on WordPress. These ones offer free versions and will give your blog the best start possible:
Optimize your blog for search engines the world’s top SEO plugin around.
Protect your blog with the most popular WordPress Firewall and Security Scanner.
Fight spam comment and emails while protecting your site from publishing malicious content.
To search, install, and activate WordPress plugins, move your cursor over to Plugins and click Add New in the Dashboard menu. Proceed to Install and Activate each one.
Imagine just having to click and drag elements to design your website and post – that is exactly what Elementor is all about!
The free version is an excellent starting point for new website owners and the premium version offers incredible features to grow your business.
Add Pages to Your Blog
To add a New Page, move your cursor over to the menu on the lefthand side of your screen and highlight the Pages link where a tab that reads Add New will appear on the righthand side. Click this button.
In the next screen, add a title to your new page.
The first pages you should create are:
- About me page
- Contact page
To setup your Blog and Home page, highlight Pages from the Dashboard and click All Pages to view them.
Click Edit on the page you want to adjust
Write Your First Blog Post
To write your first blog post, move your cursor to the lefthand menu once again and highlight the the Posts link until the tab that reads Add New appears to the right. Click this link.
Now, see the button that says Edit with Elementor?
Let’s click that!
Elementor is a drag and drop website builder that will simplify your life ten-fold when it comes to writing and formatting a beautiful blog.
To add text, click and drag the Text Editor widget to the Drag widget here section in the middle of your site.
Delete the default text that appears here and start writing your heart out!
Pro Tip: Plan out and write your first ten blog posts before you launch your blog!
This will help you maintain readership by having enough articles for your readers to browse and enough internal links for you to use within your posts.
As bloggers, we want viewers to stay on and return to our sites. Having many well written articles on your blog is one of the best ways you can write a blog people want to read!
Choose a WordPress Blog Theme
To change your blog design, you’ll need to install a new WordPress Theme.
Your WordPress blog theme should mesh well with your niche and branding.
Consider checking out Creative Market or browsing this list of premium feminine WordPress blog themes for new bloggers to find one that fits your style.
Look past the pretty pictures, fonts, etc. and focus on the layout! You’ll be able to change all of that later with Elementor.
Premium themes are usually well maintained and offer helpful tutorials for support.
Once you’ve determined which blog theme you’ll use, you’ll be able to Install it via your WordPress Dashboard.
Your theme will come with installation instructions to guide you through the process.
Note: Free WordPress Themes are available within WordPress itself and are the only free WordPress themes for bloggers I recommend using.
Downloading free WordPress themes online can be dangerous and could put your new blog at risk of malicious code and/or malware.
Only use WordPress Themes from reputable sources!
3. How to Find Your Blog Niche
What should I start a blog about?
Even if you’re starting a lifestyle blog, choosing a blog niche – or at least narrowing down your interests – is still important!
All of your site visitors will not necessarily be interested in reading about all of the topics you are interested in – and blogs with a focus tend to be more successful than those without.
Consider picking topics that are closely related to one another and use them as categories for your blog.
In my case, the three main focuses of my blogging niche are: blogging, social media, and motherhood.
All of these topics are interlinked in the sense that I write about making money online and saving money for moms.
Maybe yours are: cooking, home decor, and parenting!
Want to know if there’s an interest in your topic of choice?
Just run a quick Google on it! Let’s pretend our topic is raw vegan baking.
Turns out there are 53.9 million results for this term!
When choosing your blog niche, consider the following:
- what are you passionate about
- what skill set do you already have
- is there room for growth and profitability
The best blog to write is the one you can maintain!
Ideas on What to Blog About
Through a combination of Google and Pinterest research, I created a mega-list of over 1,000+ popular blogging topic ideas for new bloggers!
This list covers 20 different popular niches but amazing topics that you can rank for starting today.
Use the above ideas to narrow your niches down according to what you enjoy doing and what people want to read about!
It’s the perfect recipe for blogging success from day one 🙂
Are you a mom blogger? Check out these resources just for you:
4. How to Make Money from Your Blog
Some of the most popular methods for blog monetization include:
A business pays commissions to third-party websites for leads or sales.
Sponsored Posts/Brand Partnerships
Sponsors pay a third-party to create/show an ad on their website.
Displaying ads on one’s website where they are paid per view and/or click.
Work as a freelancer offering your skill set or knowledge to create, write, organize, etc.
Selling Digital Products
Offer pre-made products available for purchase/download.
To make money blogging from day one, I utilized affiliate marketing and ads as well as offering services including photography, social media marketing, website design, and freelance writing on my blog.
Read more on blog monetization strategies to see how you can implement them into your blogging business plan.
5. Creating a Brand for Yourself
This is something I consider to be one of the most essential “how to start a blog” tips.
Consider the following when starting your branding process:
How do you want your blog to be perceived?
How do you want to make people feel when they experience your content?
Like a beautiful, cohesive Instagram feed, a blog with clear branding not only makes you look more professional, it builds trust in your audience.
You know who you are and therefore your readers know that they can count on you to deliver consistency.
Start with something as simple as your colour palette:
How many colours will you use?
What are you main colours? What are your accent colours?
What font will you use?
Do you prefer modern and minimalist? Or feminine and flashy?
How do you want your logo to look?
Do you want to have it designed for you or use an app to generate it? Will you have a slogan? I love using unique hand lettered fonts in my branding!
Will you take your own photos or use stock photos?
Start considering some of the basics now and look like a pro from the get-go. Remember, first impressions count!
Here’s 1,000+ free feminine styled stock photos to get you started – you can use these to decorate your blog and create other designs for social media!
Canva is an amazing FREE resource that features excellent tools and templates for all things branding – from logos to blog graphics, Pinterest pins and board covers, Instagram stories, and even highlight covers!
Save your dollars and do your branding and design work with Canva!
A few brand essentials you can start out with include your:
- Blog logo
- Blog banner or header
- Feature image template for your blog posts
- Archive image template for blog posts
Here’s what the Canva workspace looks like and a recent pin I designed using it.
6. How to Launch a Successful Blog
Before you start promoting your blog posts to Pinterest, Instagram, and other Social Media platforms, go over some details.
Do a couple of final edits on your articles to make sure you’re happy with all of the visual and written components!
And once you’ve done the above, you’re ready to launch your blog!
Write at least 10 blog posts before you launch for best results.
Then, choose two social media platforms to focus on.
- Pinterest – this platform catapulted my blog views and is a must have for new bloggers!
- Instagram – I started as an Instagram influencer before I made the switch to full-time blogger
- Facebook – create a Facebook page for your blog and invite your tribe to show you some love!
- Twitter – a fantastic way to promote new blog posts without a visual component!
Once you’re all set up, be sure to sign up for Tailwind, the Pinterest and Instagram scheduling app that will get your content seen by millions.
Since joining Tailwind, I’ve:
- reached 147.6 million accounts on Pinterest
- hit 1 million monthly viewers on Pinterest
- received over 21.3k Pinterest reshares on my content
- received over 24.9k Pinterest pins on my content
- quadrupled my blog traffic
I’ve never paid for ad space on Facebook, Instagram, or Google and have relied solely on this Pinterest Analytics & Marketing Tool for getting my content in front of millions of viewers!
Join my NEW Tailwind tribe to experience a Tailwind Free Trial for 30 days!
How to Start a Blog Checklist for Beginners
This comprehensive start a blog checklist for beginners includes everything you need to do before and after creating your website.
Be sure to pin it on Pinterest and use it as a reference whenever you work on your new blog 🙂
How to Start a Blog: Tips + Common Questions Answered
Some additional questions you might have about how to start a new blog may include:
- What is the difference between a blog and a website?
- Do I need a blog?
- How do you start writing a blog?
We’ll answer all of these questions about blogging and more in the section below!
What is a Blog?
Blog vs Website
A blog is a regularly updated website or web page.
Blogs are typically run by one individual or a small group of people who write about a particular topic and/or related subjects.
Blogs are updated as frequently as multiple times a day whereas websites usually only experience one or a couple of major updates annually.
Think about the last time one of your favourite major brands’ websites was updated.
A blog may be used as an online journal or information website – posts are displayed in reverse chronological order with the latest posts appearing first.
Blogs are written less formally than websites and utilize more of a conversational style.
All blogs are websites but not all websites are blogs!
What is the Purpose of a Blog?
There are so many reasons for starting a blog and we’ll discuss twenty of them in just a moment.
What you might really be wondering though, is how can a blog help my business?
According to HubSpot, companies that have a blog experience better marketing results including:
- 55% more visitors
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
All of these results play an important factor in search engine optimization:
More inbound links = more authority = ranking on search engines = more traffic = more sales!
Why Start a Blog?
Should I start a blog?
Just like you, thousands of others have also pondered on this question at one time or another.
I’m not going to be shy about it – I wanted learn how to start a lifestyle blog and make money so I could stay at home with our little girl full-time. But the incredible part is, blogging means so much more to me now than just income.
Blogging completely changed my life.
I make money from the comfort of my own home (and anywhere in the world), wearing whatever the heck I want, while choosing my own hours, and doing something that I love!
Blogging is a great way to make money at home for moms but it’s also perfect for students and those looking for a more flexible career.
Consider the following reasons for why you should start a blog:
Will I have time to write for my blog?
One of the best yet most simple “how to start a blog” tips you’ll ever receive – invest in an agenda and create a blog schedule! Because, let’s be real here, starting a blog is the easy part.
When you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll also get access to the Pro Blogger Bundle.
I’ll show you exactly how I plan my blog posts and have even included the checklists I use before and after publishing new content.
Plus, you’ll get bonus weekly and editorial calendars as well as a 31 day Instagram post content planner!
You can design a blogging business plan that works for your lifestyle and grow your business in as little as 30 minutes a day!
Anyone can make blogging a career, you just need to think like a successful business owner and plan your days and weeks effectively.
Can I Start a Blog for Free?
Yes, you can – and as a hobby, it’s fine.
You can even start a blog on Instagram.
If you simply want to journal, then WordPress.com is an option for you. However, if you really want to grow and ever plan on monetizing your blog, I would advise against it.
Take it from me, I made the mistake of starting with WordPress.com when I decided that I want to start a blog!
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I first started blogging with Wix and before switching to a Personal WordPress.com account.
WordPress itself is a website building tool – instead of learning any complicated stuff like code or html, you can just start writing blog posts once you purchase hosting.
WordPress.org is where you download and install the free software used to build your site.
You can skip this step though since when you create a WordPress blog on Siteground, you also get easy one-click WordPress installation!
WordPress.com is a managed hosting service that includes the same software and hosting but at a steep price tag of $25 a month for the exact same features you get with a self-hosted blog.
It includes built-in analytics, security, etc. but all of this is free and easy to add onto a self-hosted blog – I’ll even show you how to do it in this guide!
And last but not least, bloggers don’t own their content on WordPress.com – you can read more about this in their TOS here.
Let’s break it down further using the chart below:
Hosted service where you can setup a blog with WordPress software
Must pay for any upgrades
No backend code, database, or file access
Free plans are a subdomain of WordPress.com
Where you can download WordPress software to host on your blog hosting provider of choice
Free due to open-source development
Search and upload plugins to customize your site
Access to all backend code, database, and files
Custom domain name for site’s URL
Siteground makes starting a blog super affordable – you can start a blog now for $6.99 a month.
With a self-hosted blog, you need to do a bit more work upfront but it’ll save you hundreds a year and give you piece of mind.
I wanted a professional domain name, so I also paid the $6 a month to get it not knowing WordPress.org offered far better value, monetization, and customization options.
Instead of $31 a month for hosting and my domain name on WordPress.com, I paid just $8.32 for both when I switched to Siteground and I got a ton of extra features!
I would have probably been lightyears ahead if I just started with self-hosting – doh!
Limitations of WordPress.com
Free blogs, including WordPress.com, are limited and will lack the following:
Professional Domain Name
You must pay to register a new domain – free blog hosting utilizes a domain name that includes a suffix as advertising for your blog host.
So, for instance, my URL on a free WordPress.com site would have been a subdomain of WordPress.com that reads: nikkiblogs.wordpress.com
You get what you pay for… or don’t!
Google Adsense and other advertising programs and not permitted on a WordPress.com blog.
WordPress will show ads on your site but you will not generate any income from them.
You are also not permitted to:
Lack of support
WordPress.com powers 37.5 million sites worldwide – and with a huge portion of that being paying customers, you can image how little support free blog users get!
No plugins and basic features.
To use plugins, SEO tools, and upload WordPress themes on your WordPress.com site, you’ll need to pay for the Business plan – a whopping $25 USD a month!
That’s equivalent to five months of hosting when you self-host your blog with SiteGround.
When you consider the cost of one year on the WordPress.com Business Plan vs WordPress.org self-hosting, that’s $240 USD you’ll save a year plus the headache of transferring your domain later on – it took me one week to complete the process with Siteground’s assistance but some people will pay up to hundreds of dollars for someone to do it for them!
Create a Blog for Free: WordPress
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
When you choose the budget friendly option outlined in this guide, the cost of starting your blog is only $8.32 a month – $6.99 a month for hosting and $1.33 monthly for your unique domain name!
I started with this budget and invest more with each blog traffic increase.
WordPress hosts 1/3 of all sites on the web and is the world’s number one choice for self-hosting blog platforms. WP also powers some very notable brands’ sites including:
WordPress is the Best Place to Start a Blog
A self-hosted WordPress blog is the best blog to start – and in my experience, it’s even better when you pair it with Siteground hosting!
Did you know that 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load?
Don’t jeopardize your business with slow page speeds!
My latest GTmetrix report shows a fully loaded time of 1.1 seconds!
Among other important search engine optimizations, lightning fast load speeds allow me to compete with some pretty big names as well.
As you can see above, I rank second overall on Google but outrank Adobe’s own article on Instagram photo editing with Lightroom.
That’s pretty cool!
I’m a mom with zero programming or coding experience and I do 100% of the work on my blog – no outsourcing, computer whiz husband, or developer needed!
Choosing Siteground hosting for my self-hosted WordPress blog gives me a huge advantage and makes growing my business so much easier!
The WordPress blogging platform it provides is also the ideal choice when it comes to blogging for beginners and is the easiest way to start a blog.
WordPress offers a user friendly design intended for the non-tech saavy blogger – just like me and maybe even you!
Instead of getting frustrated over html and other complicated stuff, you can start sharing the content you want to publish without having to learn any code or other complicated stuff!
With WordPress.org, you get access to:
That’s what you get when you use the world’s number one Content Management System.
Congratulations on starting your own blog – sometimes taking the first step can be the most challenging part! But you did it!! This is your time and it’s going to be amazing!
The possibilities for your blog are endless and you may even surprise yourself when you start to find inspiration for blogging ideas all around you.
To help you get started, check out these blogging ideas to make money and generate site traffic.
For more tips on how to start a lifestyle blog, checkout the blogging category and learn to do it all at your own pace.
Happy blogging, friends!