So you’re thinking of starting a blog…. you just have no idea where to start?! I recently attended a workshop on building an online business; I actually learn a lot about building a presence online in general and a lot of the information applied to blogging. I decided to write this post, based on what I learnt, as an easy guide about where to start… Basically, how I would do it, if I were to start again tomorrow…
5 Steps to Start a Blog
- Choose a name and find the url
- Create a WordPress (.org account)
- Pick a hosting company
- Set up Google Analytics
- Create an epic About page
1. Choosing a name and finding the URL
First things, first; what are you going to call your blog?! Just as important though, you want to check if the corresponding URL (domain name) is available for purchase. It’s also worth checking if the social media handles are available too – all of which you can do via…
– The Name App (www.thenameapp.com)
I purchased a .com domain for keep it simpElle as I wanted my blog to be a global site rather than just a UK based blog with a .co.uk. The .com and .co.uk are the only domains with real authority which mostly matters if you are looking to start a business.
2. Choose WordPress (.org) to start a blog
When I first wrote this post my blog was actually hosted on Blogger. I’m sure I had my reasons for choosing Blogger when I started out all those years ago, but should I to choose again, WordPress (.org, not .com) is the way to go. The main reason for this is that YOU own your site! 25% of all websites are created on WP including Beyonce and Marks & Spencer’s For Business. WordPress is fully customisable which in the long term is a great benefit. With such a large community, and 40k+ plug ins available someone will most probably have already thought of what you needed already!
I made the switch myself to Worpress in February 2018 and honestly, it was the best thing I ever did. So many people ask if it helps to increase traffic etc but I couldn’t say. What I do know is it has made my life a lot easier, my blog looks a lot more professional and I’m able to do so much more than I could do when on Blogger.
The process of moving from Blogger to WordPress was a breeze as I used Pipdig to do it all for me. I purchased the migration package around the New Year and it included a free theme. I started off being hosted on SiteGround and never had any issues with them. Although I highly recommend them for your first year of hosting, be aware that they significantly hike up prices for subsequent years. They also provided a FREE email for your site that matches your domain… which can actually be a game changer down the road.
3. Pick your hosting company wisely
Number one tip here is to not buy your hosting through a web designer as they are merely acting as a middle man. This means that should they not pay their bill, your website will go down. It also means they will have a lot of access / control over your site continually.
Ask friends for recommendations and read reviews. A couple that have come recommended to me include United Hosting and Zen Hosting. Your hosting should cost around £4 – £5 per month.
Update 12.6.19: So I switched hosting in February to PipDig and after the whole PipDig fiasco my hosting was then transferred directly to Kualo. So far they have been nothing short of amazing, responding to my queries so damn quick. Today I transferred my domain to them also after my GoDaddy renewal fees seemed to be going through the roof each time! Think I get two email addresses with my Kualo hosting so that is a bonus and they promise not to hike up the prices. Win!
4. Set Up Google Analytics
This is the industry standard for checking your statistics. It’s not all about how many hits you get though. It’s great to be able to know who’s reading your blog – men or women, what age?, where are they located? and even, where do they go after landing on your blog? I’ve found with blogging, you end up getting a huge bounce rate (the % of people who leave your blog after the page they landed on) due to posting a single post at a time. I have used Link Within at the bottom of all my posts which suggests further reading after each post.
5. When I first find a blog, I go straight to the About page
This is what I do. I love to know who it is I am reading about. I think it’s a good idea to add a picture, a little about who you are, what your blog is about and how people can contact you should they wish to share feedback with you or want to work with you! I read somewhere that it’s a PR’s nightmare when they can’t find contact details! Even if you just set up a new email account like [email protected] (this isn’t an actual account by the way so don’t use it!) so you can keep your blog emails separate!
Erm, so all that’s left now is to decide what the hell to write for your first post?! Click here to read mine!
My UK Health & Fitness Blog
If you’ve made it this far already and wondering who I am then this is the section for you. I’m Elle, and I created this blog – keep it simpElle – back in 2012. It’s gone through a few iterations, starting on Blogger and then finally moving to WordPress in 2018, a journey on which I have learnt a lot and am putting into this post.
I’ve been listed in the Top Fitness & Exercise blogs on Vuelio since 2017 and it’s been an absolute honour to be recognised for all the hard work that I have put in. I’m currently at number 5 on the list which has seen me shortlisted for Best Health & Fitness Blog two years in a row now. Fingers crossed I win in 2019. For 2019, I’ve also been shortlisted as Health Blogger of the Year so cross ever more fingers, maybe even some toes for me there!
Making Money From Your Blog
Now, let’s move on to the juicy bit. Back when I started my blog, it was a way to connect with friends near and far. Over time, it became clear that there were ways to make money from blogging which meant you could spend more time creating content because some of your bills were getting paid.
Sponsored posts are a great way to make some money from your blog. There are lots of SEO companies out there who will try and get you to include do follow links in your posts and either not pay you or pay you very little. In the early days it can be super tempting to take any paid work that comes your way but I would urge you not to do that.
Personally, these days I only share sponsored posts that I have written myself on relevant topics that fit my usual content. I reserve guest posting on my blog for contributions that I have requested or from fellow bloggers that I know and trust.
Basically, we all know how we’d rather get a recommendation for something than listen to a sales person or advertising right?! Since day dot, word of mouth has served as the best promotion tool for brands everywhere. So with the rise of technology it should be no surprise that brands would find a way to take word of mouth to the next level… meet affiliate links.
Affiliate links are hard work though; to implement them naturally, keep track of them, update them when items are out of stock or links get broken. I can highly recommend joining the Amazon Affiliate Program, Affiliate Window and RewardStyle.
Advertising is a really polarising topic when it comes to blogs. Typically visitors hate adverts but realistically if we expect free content then we need to remember that people have to pay their bills somehow huh?
I implemented Google Adsense ads pretty early on as I started out on Blogger and figured I might as well have my audience used to adverts from the start. When you read my blog income reports below you will see that I haven’t ever made millions from it but it does cover some of the costs of running the blog, which at the end of the day helps.
Currently, it seems that many bloggers are aiming to reach the stats that will see them accepted on MediaVine. You need to hit 25,000 sessions in 30 days to qualify and although I am nowhere near that right now I will be giving it a good go!! There are a plenty of other advertising platforms you can use but many of them come with bad feedback like slowing down your site speed etc.
Want To Know How Much Money I Made?
I never kept it a secret when I started earning from my blog and often shared income reports and statistics charting my social media growth. Here are a few from back in the day that you can check out:
- Behind The Screen: April 2016 Report & Future Plans
- Behind The Screen: March 2016 Report & The Cost Of Running A Blog
- Behind The Screen: February 2016 Report
- Behind The Screen: January 2016 Report
- Behind The Screen: 2016 Goals & December 2015 Report
- Behind The Screen: October 2015 Report
- Behind The Screen: September 2015 Report
- Behind The Screen: July 2015 Report
- Behind The Screen: May 2015 Report
- Behind The Screen: April 2015 Report
I eventually stopped sharing my income reports back in 2017 when the lines between my day job and blog started to cross over. You can read more about that here.
How To Get Your Blog Noticed
It’s all well and good creating great content and hitting publish, but if no one knows your content is there, they can’t come and read it! There are lots of ways to get your blog content out there… so many that it probably could take up more time than creating the content itself!
Join Communities In Your Niche
These communities could come in all different formats. I created a community for London Bloggers on Facebook a few years ago. We share events, knowledge and generally act as accountability for each other. If you’re based in London make sure you join. Otherwise, do a quick search on Facebook to find your local groups and if you can’t find one, create it! Many communities for bloggers have threads where you can share your posts so hopefully, others will read your content and also share it with their audience if they enjoy it.
I would also recommend that you join some non blogging communities where you can share relevant content when it fits (don’t go spamming people!). I’m in a cycling community for women which is one of my main audiences, in addition to some fitness professional groups and lots of blogging and social media groups.
Be Active On Social Media
Depending on where you think your audience will be it’s a good idea to have a presence on those channels. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. They all have different benefits too…
Twitter – is great for realtime conversations and sharing little nuggets from your thoughts. Outside of this you can set up automation to share your blog posts at certain intervals to get your content out to your audience when they are bored and scrolling. Check out the Revive Old Posts plugin on WordPress.
Instagram – is like a mini blogging platform where you can share images. These days, I don’t blog unless I have something really valuable to share so the day to day stuff can go on Instagram. Instagram doesn’t convert that well for driving traffic to your blog but there is no harm in sharing that you have posted on your blog and directing people to take a look.
Facebook – to me is the most difficult to build an audience (through a page). They severely limit your reach as a page so if you have an engaged community it’s probably a good idea to also create group where you can chat with your audience on a day to day basis.
Pinterest – has been a favourite of mine for years but I only started really leveraging it as a traffic driver since the beginning of 2019. If you’re interested to know more about how Pinterest works and how you can use it to increase your blog traffic check out the posts below:
Start here: 5 Ways To Up Your Pinterest Game Right Now
The Latest on Pinterest: Introducing Story Pins | Their Evolution & How To Drive Traffic To Your Blog
Social media is a big job when it comes to be honest but there are ways you can get around it and make it a little less of a chore. Find out some of the social media hacks I have been using and see if they can work for you too!
Are you thinking of writing a blog?! What would you write about?!
If you’re already in the game, what do you wish you knew before you started blogging?!