If you’re looking to:
- Set up a new blog from scratch
- Make money blogging
- Access to amazing blogging tools
Then you’ll love the actionable steps in this guide.
Let’s get started.
How to Start a Blog Today: The Definitive Guide (2020)
Learn how to start a blog by following these easy steps:
If you’re looking for an easy, step-by-step beginner’s guide on how to start a blog (and make money) then you’re in the right place.
This is the most comprehensive guide on starting a blog that you will find on the internet.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to set up a blog on WordPress in 7 simple steps.
I have a unique perspective on how to start a blog.
During my time as a professional web developer, I built over 200 blogs for bloggers in all niches.
I’ve seen blogs succeed and fail, and I know what it takes to create a very successful blog. I will teach you how in this guide.
Are you ready to begin?
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind.
Pick your blog’s niche
If you want to start a successful blog, you need to do this:
Pick your blog’s niche.
This step will help you decide on your blog’s niche.
The first thing you must do when you start a blog is to decide on your niche—the topic you will discuss.
Choosing your niche will determine the type of blog posts you write and the audience you are writing for.
Most successful blogs focus on a single niche. To help you decide on your blog’s niche, here are a few popular examples:
- Food and Recipes
- Personal Finance/Investing
- Personal Development
- Entrepreneurship/Side Hustling
- DIY (Do-It-Yourself)
- Natural Living
When you are picking a niche, it’s important to remember that you must be passionate about the topic.
For example, if you know nothing about cooking, it wouldn’t make sense to start a food and recipes blog.
You wouldn’t be able to provide any real value in that niche.
However, if you love going to the gym and taking care of your body, it would make sense for you to start a blog in the fitness niche.
It’s much easier to write about topics that you are passionate about.
Joshua’s Pro TipIf you have to force yourself to research and come up with content ideas that don’t excite you, your blogging journey will end fast.
How can I pick a niche if I don’t know what I’m passionate about?
When I told my wife Courtney that I wanted to start a blog, to be honest with you, I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about.
I actually created a blog before the one you are reading right now—it was a lifestyle blog called Fine Curate.
After a few weeks of blogging about lifestyle things, I became restless.
Courtney and I had a conversation about blogging and if I was happy with the direction things were going. My answer was no.
She then asked me, “what do you want to blog about then?” To which I replied, “I have no idea.”
Then she asked me a question that sparked the birth of the blog you are reading right now—she asked, “what’s something that you can’t stop thinking or talking about? Something that you’d be talking about even without writing blog articles about it?”
Then it all dawned on me. I’m obsessed with everything finance.
I am always discussing finance with my wife.
Making money, saving money, investing money—everything.
So it makes sense for me to blog about money.
That’s my story, and it may or may not help you figure out what you should blog about.
But I’m not going to leave you hanging, here are some more question you can answer that may help you find your blogging niche:
- What’s something that you think or talk about all the time—like, your friends and family tell you to stop talking about that so much?
- What’s the best part of your day?
- Do you have any hobbies that you want to learn? Or hobbies that you are already doing and want to share with others?
- What is a deeply held value of yours?
- What’s one achievement that you’re incredibly proud of that you can share?
- Was there something you loved doing in your childhood that you stopped doing as an adult?
I hope this helps you.
Remember, knowing your niche immediately is not required to start a blog.
You can always come back to this another time.
And if you don’t know what you want to blog about yet, I still recommend you continue reading this guide.
Choose a web host for your blog
This is the most important step when starting a blog.
Choosing a web host.
Luckily for you, I make it easy to get started.
Follow these step-by-step instructions.
The second step in how to start a blog in 2020 is to choose a web host.
You’re going to learn everything you need to know in this step about choosing the best web hosting to start a blog.
And once you’ve got your hosting set up, you’ll be one big step closer to making money blogging.
Let’s jump in!
What is web hosting?
A web host is what allows your blog to be online. If someone types in “www.yourblog.com”, the only reason your blog shows up is because your blog is being hosted by the web host.
Think of web hosting as a home for your blog. When you purchase web hosting, you are buying a space on a server to store all your blogs files and data—everything necessary for your website to work properly.
How much does web hosting cost?
The cost of web hosting can vary. But generally speaking, you can get set up on a great web hosting plan for as low as $5/month. My go-to for high-quality web hosting is Bluehost—more on that soon.
What’s the best web hosting service to start a blog with?
I have built well over 200 blogs during my time as a web developer. 90% of all those blogs were hosted on Bluehost. Bluehost is my personal favorite web host because they are one of the more established web hosting providers on the market. Their platform is user-friendly for beginner bloggers who have little experience using a host.
There are many blogging platforms that you can use to create a blog. However, the most successful blogs use WordPress and host their blog with Bluehost.
WordPress is a free open-source content management system that powers 35% of all websites on the internet. Considering there are 1.3 billion active websites, that’s 455 million WordPress websites.
The combination of Bluehost with WordPress is what you will be using to start your blog.
Before we move on, head over to Bluehost and click the “Get Started” button.Get Started With Bluehost
Step 1: Choose your Bluehost plan
First, you’ll need to select your plan.
I recommend going with the Choice Plus plan.
This plan comes with domain privacy and site backups.
Domain privacy will keep your personal information safe—information such as your home address, full name, phone, and email.
Yes, all of this information is visible by default unless you have domain privacy.
Site backups secure all your hard work with an automatic, daily backup of your site.
Backups are essential to protect your website and all your blog posts.
Click the green “Select” button on the plan of your choice to move on.
As I mentioned above, any of these plans will work to start a blog. However, the Choice Plus works out to be a better deal in the long-run.
You have the option to add domain privacy and site backups as add-ons in the future, but it’s cheaper to select a plan that has those features included.
Step 2: Choose your blogs domain name
Now it’s time to choose your domain name.
You have the option to create a new domain or use one that you already own.
Your domain name is the name of your blog.
For example, mine is joshuamayo.com. Your domain name should be relevant to your blog’s niche, or you can just go with your name like I did.
Type in your domain name in the “Create a new domain” box to check if it’s available.
If your desired domain name is not available, then you may have to get creative.
For example, say your blog name is Travel Save Go. Your domain name might be travelsavego.com, but, if that name isn’t available you might use travelsavegoblog.com instead. You see how the word blog was added?
Once you’ve created your domain name, select the “Next” button.
If you don’t know what your blog’s name will be, then you can skip this step and come back later after you’ve decided—in which case, choose the “I’ll create my domain later” option.
Step 3: Create your Bluehost account
Next, you will need to create your Bluehost account.
You can either sign in with Google or fill out your account information manually.
You must use your primary email because all your receipts and account information is sent to this email.
If you are creating a domain for your blog, you will see it at the top in green.
In our example, it says, “the domain travelsavegoblog.com is available!”
Step 4: Choose the right hosting package
Once you fill out your account information, you will choose your package.
Bluehost offers three packages:
- 1 year
- 2 years
- 3 years
There’s not an option to pay monthly. But this benefits you.
Paying in advance works out to be significantly cheaper than paying for a monthly plan. It’s a great way to get your blog online quickly.
The best package to start your blog with is the Choice Plus 36 Month Price.
You can certainly go with one of the other options. However, the 3-year plan locks you in at the lowest price—you end up saving over 50%.
If you go with the 1-year plan, the price could go up after a year, and you would have to pay more when you renewed.
But with the 3-year plan, you’re locked into the lowest price.
Ultimately, choose the plan that will work best with your budget!
Step 5: Enter your billing information
Great job, you’ve reached the final step! Enter your payment information and check the box to agree on the terms.
Hit submit—you’re done! You just completed a major step in starting a blog.
In the next step, you will choose the theme for your blog.
I will walk you through how to set your theme up.
You’ll also learn about awesome plugins you can use to further improve your blog.Get Started With Bluehost
If you haven’t set up your account with Bluehost yet and want to look at other options, here are a few worth considering.
Best alternative blog hosting platforms worth considering
- Siteground – Siteground is a popular Bluehost alternative for starting a blog. They have many of the same features as Bluehost, including a free SSL certificate, 1-click WordPress installation, and server-side security. What sets Siteground apart is that they offer monthly subscriptions in which you can cancel any time.
- Hostgator – Hostgator is another popular alternative for starting a blog. They also offer a ton of website hosting options including free SSL certificate, easy WordPress installs, and a free domain for a year. I’ve built dozens of blogs using Hostgator.
- WP Engine – WP Engine is a fantastic host option with amazing customer support. You end up paying a higher premium for hosting with WP Engine, but if you want the peace of mind knowing that you have great customer support, then they are a good option for you.
- Cloudways – Cloudways is new to the game, but they offer some of the most advanced cloud hosting. With that said, Cloudways is not meant for beginners or those uncomfortably configuring their own server settings. Instead, bloggers with more experience managing a server will find the control Cloudways give you over your server settings to be helpful.
Choose a theme to design your blog
This is where the fun begins.
This step is where you pick your blog’s new theme.
The theme is what gives your blog it’s unique appearance.
Are you ready to dive in? Let’s begin!
Getting started with WordPress
Before you pick your blog’s new theme, let’s first discuss the platform you’ll be using for your blog—WordPress.
WordPress is the most popular website platform (also known as a CMS or content management system) in the world.
Over 455 million websites are powered by WordPress.
Any successful blogger that you know will 99.9% likely be using WordPress—and so will you.
If you’ve never used WordPress, then you may experience a little friction here.
But don’t worry, I promise it’s not hard.
I’ll walk you through step-by-step how to set up your theme on WordPress.
But first, let’s answer some common questions about WordPress.
What is a CMS (content management system)?
A CMS or content management system is a tool that allows you to build a website or blog without needing to write code. It simply makes it easy for you to build a website. Don’t let the fancy terminology confuse you.
Is WordPress free?
WordPress is 100% free for anyone to use. All you need is a domain name and web hosting. If you haven’t already, take a look at step two of this post on setting up your domain name and web host.
Why should I start a blog on WordPress?
Unlike most blogging platforms, WordPress is free to use and gives you the most flexibility with running your blogging business.
Think about this way—you could use other platforms such as Medium, Blogger, or Tumblr, but blogging on those platforms is like renting a house.
You don’t own the home, you just live in it. You can’t paint the walls, remodel the bathrooms, or rip out the carpet because you don’t own it.
However, if you did own the house, then you could make changes to it. Starting a blog on WordPress is the same way. On WordPress, you own your blog, and you can make any changes that you see fit—including monetizing your content.
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
There is something that needs to be addressed before we move on—the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
They are two very different platforms that share a similar name and the same founder.
WordPress.org is the popular website platform that all successful bloggers use. It’s the platform that you’ve likely been hearing about.
WordPress.com is a website builder and hosting platform created by Matt Mullenweg, the founder of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Out of the two, you want to be using WordPress.org.
If you ever plan on running a successful blog that earns you income, then you have to go with WordPress.org.
If you haven’t already completed step two of this guide, I highly recommend that you go back and go through that section. It walks you through setting up your blog’s domain name and web host.
When you set up your web host, it will (most likely) already have WordPress.org installed on it. The only thing you have to do is pick your theme, which we will go over now.
I know learning how to start a blog can be a massive undertaking, but you are doing fantastic so far! Let’s keep moving.
Choosing a WordPress theme for your blog
It’s time to start talking about the fun stuff of how to start a blog—choosing your blog’s theme!
There are many WordPress themes available—over 31,000 to exact. But only a handful should be considered to be your blog’s theme.
I want to first give you a list of themes that I highly recommend and have used on over 300 websites during my time as a web developer.
Joshua’s Pro TipThese themes all maintain the highest quality code standards and will keep your blog fast, beautiful, and SEO-friendly.
These are the best themes to start a blog. All of them have free versions (except Divi) and can be upgraded for more features at any point.
If you want the most features, then I would recommend going with the paid version of the theme that you choose. If not, the free version will do!
This is what I use here on joshuamayo.com. It’s the fastest theme available on WordPress. GeneratePress has both a free and premium version of the theme, but for the most features, you’ll want to go premium. I use the premium version here on my blog. GeneratePress also has pre-built website templates that you can use to supercharge your blog and get it up and running in no time. Also, their support is incredible, so if any problems should arise, they respond very fast.
I’ve used OceanWP to build hundreds of WordPress websites and blogs. OceanWP has both a free and premium theme option that you can use to start a blog. The theme also has pre-built website templates that allow you to get up and running in under an hour. Like most of the themes on this list, OceanWP is rated as one of the fastest on WordPress.
Hello is a theme built by the team behind the world-famous page builder plugin Elementor. Hello theme is meant to be used with Elementor. Therefore, the theme has zero customization options. Everything is done with Elementor. Doing this keeps the theme super-lightweight. And since Elementor is also a theme builder, it works great with Hello and is a great option to start a blog.
Elementor is not a theme in and of itself. However, it’s a plugin that has a powerful theme builder in it. I’ve used Elementor to build well over 300 websites and blogs in the past. In fact, I have an entire side business selling Elementor templates. See for yourself at ElementorMarket.com. That’s my website and all the templates you see are templates I have built using Elementor and sell to website visitors.
Out of all the themes on this list, with the exception of Elementor, Divi is the most user-friendly and feature-packed. Divi is both a theme and a page builder, so you get a 2-in-1 deal when you use this theme. Another advantage of using Divi is they have phenomenal support and a dedicated support forum for customers—this can be extremely helpful if you are a new blogger trying to start a blog.
Find your own theme
If you prefer to find your own theme to start a blog, then here are the best places to look.
Theme Forest is apart of the Envato network and is home to thousands of WordPress themes. Most of these themes have hundreds of ready-to-use demo websites that are user-friendly and packed with features. You will also find many blog themes designed specifically to be used for blogs.
Install your theme on WordPress
By now you should have decided on a theme you want to use to start a blog.
You will now learn how to install your theme on your WordPress website. If you have done this already, you may skip ahead, otherwise continue reading.
Depending on where you purchased your theme, you should have received a .zip file. This .zip file is what you will use to upload your theme.
Step 1: Log in to your website
Log in to your WordPress website. You can usually do this from your host account, but if not, simply add “/wp-admin” without the quotes to the end of your blog’s domain name.
For example, if your blog’s domain name was travelsavegoblog.com, to log in to your website the URL would look like this “travelsavegoblog.com/wp-admin.”
Your website’s login page will look something like this:
Step 2: Install your theme
After you’ve logged in to your website, you’ll arrive on the dashboard.
On the left sidebar, go to Appearance » Themes.
You will land on a page showing all the default themes currently installed on your site. Ignore these.
Click on the Add New button.
The page will refresh, and you will see a new button for Upload Theme—click this button.
Find the .zip file on your computer that contains your theme. Select that, then click Open.
Then select Install Now.
Finally, click the Activate link.
Depending on the theme, you may have to configure additional options.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully activated your blog’s theme.
Creating the main pages for your blog
You would think that to start a blog, you have to start writing blog posts. And while this is true, there are also other essential pages that every blog should have.
If you want to know how to start a blog, you have to create these foundational pages—they act as a means to further connect with your readers and give them information that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to on a blog post.
Let’s go over each page and discuss why it’s important for your blog.
Creating your blog’s home page
Over the past two years as a professional WordPress developer, I built well over 300 blogs and websites.
While developing those sites, the first page I always started with was—you guessed it, the home page.
When you start a blog, one of the first pages you should create is the home page.
Behind the about page (you’ll learn about that next) the home page is the most important.
Why is the home page important?
It’s the page that many of your visitors will navigate to when they want to learn more about your blog.
You may be asking yourself—what should be on my blog’s home page? That’s what you’re about to learn.
If you look at my home page, you will see that we have links to important areas of our site. For example:
- Blog categories
- About Us
- Main blog page
When you start a blog, your home page should be designed to direct visitors to other areas of your site—this prevents them from leaving your site altogether.
How do I build my blog’s home page?
If you don’t know how to build your home page, it may be best to use a pre-built template.
Creating your blog’s about page
When you start a blog, you must create an about page. As small as it seems, your about page is one of the most important pages on your blog.
What does it take to create a successful about page?
Here are five points to think about when crafting your blog’s about page.
1. What value do you provide for your readers?
Have you ever heard of the phrase “what’s in it for me?” This is the primary question people are asking when they visit your blog’s about page.
Sure, they also want to learn about you. But, their main objective is to find out what they can learn from reading your blog—how your blog can help them.
When you start a blog and write your about page, don’t immediately talk about yourself. Instead, the first thing you should discuss is how your blog can solve their problems—your readers.
When you start a blog, you should always be able to answer this question—what’s in it for me?
2. Who is your blog for?
“Hi, my name is Joshua. I love food, family, and occasional walks in the park. Oh, and the beach.”
If a blog’s about page started off with that sentence, would you be able to decipher what the blog was about and who it was for? Probably not.
How about this:
“Hi, my name is Joshua. I talk a lot about money. In fact, I love talking about making money, saving money, and investing money.”
Would you know based on that introduction what the blog was about and who it was for? Probably. It could use some fine-tuning, but it’s a lot more clear than the first introduction.
Your about page should clearly define what your blog is about and who your it’s for. By doing this, you are capturing the attention of all the right people—the people who actually want to read your content.
3. Why should they listen to you?
This is the point in your about page that you can begin talking about yourself—to begin establishing credibility.
Why should someone listen to your advice? It may help if you answer these questions:
- How did your blog get started?
- Why did you start your blog?
- What types of blog posts do you write?
- Where should they start on your blog?
4. Tell a story or a little about yourself
The final step to creating a successful about page is to tell a story about yourself. Perhaps you don’t have a story, in which case just talk about yourself on a personal level.
Connecting with your readers in this way will help to reinforce their trust for you. People connect with stories and vulnerability, so the more you can be yourself and tell your story, the better.. To help you think of what you can talk about, here are some ideas:
- Talk about something you failed at but learned a valuable lesson from
- Talk about a personal struggle that you overcame
- Talk about a low point in your life and what you learned when you came out of it
You get the point—be vulnerable. Connect with your readers on a personal level and let them see that you are a human as well.
5. Tell your readers where to go next
The final part of your blog’s about page should be you telling your readers where to go next.
If they read your entire about page and made it to the end, they clearly care about what you have to say—don’t leave them hanging!
Here are a few places you can send them:
- Your latest blog post
- Your most popular blog post
- A newsletter signup
- To follow you on social media
We personally give our readers two prompts—to send us a direct message or to read our best content.
Creating your blog’s contact page
When you start a blog, you’ll need to make sure you have an open line of communication between you and the rest of the internet.
Your contact page should include a contact form and any information that will help your readers and advertisers reach out to you.
You certainly wouldn’t want to place this page on the main navigation—that’s precious website real estate being wasted.
Set up your blog’s basic settings
Now it’s time to set up your blog’s basic settings within WordPress.
This may be intimidating at first. But don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through step-by-step.
Also, the more time you spend playing with the various WordPress settings, the more comfortable you will get.
A quick note: if your theme came with a premade demo that you installed, you can skip this part of the guide since most of these settings will be done for you automatically. If you did not install a theme demo, then continue reading.
Step 1: Update site title and tagline
From the left sidebar on the backend of your site, go to Settings » General.
You will see the site title and tagline.
The site title is the name of your blog, such as Joshua Mayo. The tagline is a short description of what your site is about.
By default, the tagline will be ‘Just another WordPress site’. Delete this and replace it with your blog’s tagline.
The tagline can also be left blank.
Save your changes by hitting the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen.
Step 2: Set your blog’s static pages
From the left sidebar on the backend of your site, go to Settings » Reading.
Unless your theme came with a demo that you installed, you will have to manually change what page display’s as your homepage.
By default, the option ‘Your latest posts‘ will be selected. You’ll want to select the option ‘A static page (see below)‘ instead.
Then, click on the ‘Homepage‘ dropdown (depending on your theme, this option may be called Front page) and choose your home page from the list.
Save your changes by hitting the Save Changes button.
Now, when you go to your blog (such as www.yourblog.com) whatever is set as the homepage is what will display.
Step 3: Reset permalinks
From the left sidebar on the backend of your site, go to Settings » Permalinks.
Make sure the ‘Post name‘ option is selected, then hit the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen.
Some hosts, such as Bluehost, will already have the permalinks set correctly.
Step 4: Set your blog’s main menu
The main menu of your blog is what allows visitors to navigate through your site.
Unless your theme came with a demo that you installed, you will have to manually set the main menu.
To do that, from the left sidebar on the backend of your site, go to Appearance » Menus.
Select the pages you want to display on your main menu and then click on the ‘Add to Menu‘ button.
Select the ‘Primary’ option.
This option may be called something else depending on your theme, such as Main menu or something else.
The menu that you mark as the ‘Primary’ menu will be your blog’s main menu.
This can easily be changed in the future by following these same steps.
Essential WordPress plugins you should install when you start a blog
Plugins are an important part of your blog.
Plugins are used to add additional functionality and features to your blog that would otherwise have to be coded manually.
Here’s a list of the best plugins you should use when you start a blog:
Elementor is the most exceptional WordPress page builder plugin ever created. With over 4 million active installs, it’s popular because of it’s powerful, intuitive, user-friendly interface and features.
I personally use Social Warfare here on my site. Social Warfare is a social sharing plugin. There are many social sharing plugins on the market, and I’ve tried most of them. None of them come close to being as sleek and easy-to-use as Social Warfare.
Unless you use a page builder like Elementor which comes with a form builder, you will need to use a form builder plugin. The best WordPress form builder plugin is WPForms. WPForms allows you to create essential website forms such as contact forms, surveys, etc.
Rank Math is a free WordPress SEO plugin that is crucial to use if you plan on ranking your websites on Google or any other search engine. Another popular option is Yoast SEO. Yoast has been around much longer but is not as user-friendly. We use Rank Math because of it’s clean and intuitive interface.
Other essential plugins
- Breeze: Breeze is a WordPress caching plugin. If you aren’t familiar with the term cache, caching is the process of saving data temporarily in a browser so that the information doesn’t have to download every time a page on the website is loaded. In other words, it makes websites significantly faster. Breeze is one of the best caching plugins on the market.
- Wordfence: WordPress websites are targets for malicious attacks, that’s why having the proper security measures in place is imperative. Wordfence is one of the best WordPress security plugins available, and you should install it on just about most WordPress websites.
- EWWW Image Optimizer: Used to compress images that you upload onto your blog. Having optimized images is vital for website speed and ranking on Google.
- wpDiscuz: Although WordPress has a native comment system, it could benefit your blog greatly to replace it. wpDiscuz is a fantastic free alternative that allows your readers to engage and interact with your blog posts better. It’s the comment plugin I use here on my site.
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Write your first blog post
Are you ready to write your first blog post?
If so, this step is for you.
I will walk you through exactly how to write your first blog post.
Congratulations, you made it to the fourth step of how to start a blog in 2020!
By this point, you should have completed the following:
- Picked your blog’s niche (or have a good idea of what it will be)
- Signed up for hosting through Bluehost or one of the alternatives
- Installed your theme and any plugins you will use
If you have not completed those steps, I recommend you go back and do them before continuing.
Don’t worry, I’ll still be here!
Now, before you learn how to actually write your first blog post in WordPress, let’s first discuss how you’ll find new content ideas for your blog posts.
And besides finding fresh content ideas, how do you know your ideas are actually relevant and being searched for on Google?
You don’t want to write blog posts that no one reads, right? You want people to see your posts.
I will teach you my process for finding new content ideas as well as validating them.
Finding fresh content ideas
It’s always good to have a pipeline of fresh content ideas that you can pick and choose from.
This takes a lot of the guesswork out of blogging and allows you to quickly jump into writing your next post.
But, where do you find fresh content ideas?
Most keyword tools are used to check the search volume on a keyword.
But, they can also be used to find new content ideas.
I’ll show you how.
I like to use Ubersuggest. They show you keyword ideas directly below the main keyword you are searching.
For example, if you were searching the keyword christmas gift ideas, Ubersuggest might show you other trending keywords such as Christmas gifts for husband.
You can use these keyword ideas as topics for your next post (or posts).
Now I’ll show you how to use Ubersuggest to find content ideas.
First, go to Ubersuggest.com and type in your keyword idea related to your niche.
Once you click search, you’ll land on a page that looks like this:
Scroll down the page until you see a section called keyword ideas.
This is the goldmine you are looking for.
All of these ideas are popular keywords that people are searching for that you can use for content ideas.
You do this a few times a month and you will have more content ideas than you know what to do with.
In a world of fast technology and instant gratification, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the best ideas come from your head.
Brainstorming is a technique that will never cost you more than your time.
I always use the Notes app on my phone to jot down blog topic ideas that I randomly think about throughout the day.
If you want to brainstorm without being distracted, start intentionally placing yourself in environments where you know you’ll be able to think without distraction.
For you, it may be a coffee shop, while taking a shower, laying in bed at night, or perhaps in your parked car.
See what other bloggers are talking about in your niche
You’ve heard the famous quote, “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
Begin practicing this.
Steve Jobs certainly did.
You think the two products below are similar? This isn’t an accident.
This is not me telling you to go plagiarize.
But, it’s perfectly okay to look at other successful bloggers in your niche to see the types of topics they are discussing.
You can then use these topics for your own posts.
Perhaps you skim through their article and noticed some areas you could improve or expand on.
Maybe you can design your blog post better.
Maybe you can expand on the topic.
Believe it or not, this practice is nothing new. Bloggers do it all the time.
It’s called The Skyscraper Technique.
There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from other bloggers, as long as you aren’t blatantly stealing their content.
Validating your content ideas
You don’t want to spend time writing blog content that no one will see (except maybe your mom).
You want to write about things people are actually searching.
This is where validating your content idea comes into play.
You are trying to see if people are actually searching for your idea.
For example, let’s say you wrote a new post around the keyword fancy dog shoes.
It was the best post ever on fancy dog shoes.
10,000+ words long. Full of helpful images, charts, and infographics. Lots of great examples.
But, only 10 people are searching for fancy dog shoes each month.
Is that enough traffic? The answer is a big no.
If you would have validated your idea first, you wouldn’t have wasted time writing a post that won’t get any traffic.
So, how do you validate your content ideas so you aren’t wasting time?
In the previous section, you learned how to find new content ideas.
Many of these same tools and techniques used to find new content ideas can also be used to validate content ideas.
Let’s go over each one.
Google Autocomplete is a secret weapon that I use all the time.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the name, you’ve definitely used it.
You experience Google Autocomplete every time you search for something, it looks like this:
The suggestions in the red box are coming directly from Google.
These suggestions are what people are searching for the most. And this is your secret weapon.
Say you wanted to validate your content idea for how to make a grilled cheese sandwich in an air fryer.
In the picture above, is that search suggestion showing up in Google Autocomplete? The answer is yes—it’s the second suggestion.
This tells you that people are definitely searching for that topic, and that it’s a valid content idea that you can write about.
Simple enough, right?
Like you just learned in the previous section, keyword tools allow you to check the search volume of any keyword.
In case you didn’t read the previous section, I’ll explain what search volume means one more time.
Search volume is a fancy way of saying ‘how many people are looking this up?’
If the keyword affordable spring outfits has a search volume of 40,000 per month, this simply means 40,000 people are searching that keyword each month.
40,000 searches equal a lot of potential traffic to your blog, right?
When validating your content ideas, you want the search volume for your keyword idea to be relatively high.
So, what should the search volume be for your content idea to be valid?
As a general rule of thumb, I would aim for at least 5,000 searches. You could get away with just a couple thousand, but anything below 2,000 searches per month is pushing it.
Keep in mind that this number depends on your niche.
For example, 5,000 searches for a keyword in the health and fitness niche is tiny and probably not worth pursuing.
But, that same 5,000 searches for a keyword in the gardening niche might be pretty good and worth pursuing.
Now you’ll learn how to use one of my favorite tools, Ubersuggest, to validate your content ideas.
Say you look up the keyword birthday gift ideas using Ubersuggest.
You discover that the search volume is 22,000 for that keyword.
This simply means 22,000 people are searching for that specific keyword in that current month.
The search volume can go up or down throughout the year.
For example, the keyword easter gift ideas might only get a few thousand searches when it’s not near the Easter holiday.
That’s perfectly logical, right? Why would people be searching for Easter gift ideas any time of the year other than around Easter?
The more traffic a keyword has, the more opportunity you have to get a piece of that traffic.
For example, if the keyword best store coffees to cold brew gets 20,000 searches per month, you have the potential to get thousands of visitors to your site if you can rank for that keyword on Google.
And unless blogging is a hobby for you, you really need to focus on keywords that get medium to high traffic.
See if other people are blogging about the idea
Competition is not a bad thing.
Let’s say you came up with a brilliant content idea.
You type it into Google and discover that other bloggers have already written about it.
Don’t be discouraged, this is not a bad thing.
If you have a content idea that other bloggers are already writing about, this simply confirms that your idea is indeed valid.
These other bloggers have already done the heavy lifting for you by researching the keyword to see if it is valid—all you have to do now is write.
However, if you want to rank on Google for that keyword, you will need to write a blog post that is even better than any of your competitions.
Make your blog post on that specific keyword rank better by doing the following:
- Make your blog post longer
- Make it more up-to-date with relevant information or statistics
- Make the design of the blog post better than your competitions
- Make the content more thorough by explaining your points in depth
This is known as The Skyscraper Technique.
In addition to using that technique, remember, you have a unique voice and a perspective that other bloggers don’t have.
This is ultimately how your blog post will stand out.
It’s time to write your first post
Now that you’ve learned how to come up with fresh content ideas and validate them—it’s time to actually begin writing!
Head over to your WordPress website that you set up earlier in steps 2 and 3.
If you have not already set it up, go ahead and do that now.
Then, navigate to Posts » Add New.
You’ll need to hover over the Posts option to see Add New.
You’ll land on a blank post page that looks like this:
The first thing you’ll want to do is add a new title. Click where it says “Add title” and add your title.
Now that you’ve got your title in place, it’s time to begin (officially) writing your blog post!
Click where it says “Start writing or type” and start typing your content out.
Depending on your writing style, you may or may not want to write your blog post directly in WordPress.
Perhaps you want to write the blog content in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, and then transfer it over to WordPress once you’re finished.
There is no right or wrong way.
I’ve tried many things—Google Docs, using apps like Bear and Evernote.
I finally settled on just typing my blog in WordPress itself, and that works for me.
If you are going to type your blog content in WordPress, remember to only hit the Publish button once you are ready to make your post go live.
Otherwise, click the Save Draft button.
Start making money with your blog
Is blogging more than just a hobby for you?
If so, this step is for you!
In this step, you will learn all the major ways to make money from your blog.
Of course, there are many more ways you can make money blogging, but these are the primary ways.
Believe it or not, making money from your blog is actually the easy part when starting a blog.
All it takes is time and effort.
You can’t start a blog, write a couple of posts, and expect to start making a living from your blog immediately.
But, I’m assuming you knew this.
You have to stay consistent for a few months if you want to start seeing your work pay off (sometimes longer).
Joshua’s Pro TipBlogging is a long-term investment. But it can pay off the rest of your life if you are able to see it through.
Let’s dive into several ways you can make money from your blog.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money when you start a blog.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s product.
Here’s how it works.
When you sign up for an affiliate program, you receive a unique tracking link.
For example, here’s my affiliate link for Acorns.
You then use the link within your blog posts, emails, and other places your readers are viewing your content.
When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you earn a set fee or percentage of the total sale.
Some affiliate programs will pay you when someone simply signs up through your link, without even purchasing anything.
To put it simply, you’re getting paid for referring new customers to other companies.
In addition to joining affiliate programs, you can also join affiliate networks.
An affiliate network is basically when a company doesn’t want to manage their affiliate program in-house (or within the company).
They instead partner with an affiliate network, such as Impact, and the affiliate network manages their program for them.
Where can I find affiliate programs?
I usually find affiliate programs by typing the company name into Google, following the words “affiliate program.”
For example, if you wanted to check if MailChimp had an affiliate program, you would type into Google “MailChimp affiliate program.”
Typically, if a company does have an affiliate program, it will show up as one of the top search results
It’s also important to mention that some companies host their affiliate programs inside of affiliate networks. An affiliate network acts as a middleman between companies and affiliate marketers. Instead of the company managing its own affiliate program, an affiliate network manages it.
Placing ads on your blog is one of the most common ways to monetize your content.
When you first start a blog, it’s unlikely to get accepted into most advertising networks.
They want to see that your blog actually has an audience and that you are getting traffic.
Once your blog starts getting traffic, you can sign up for an ad network such as Google Adsense and get paid by placing ads throughout your posts.
How much can I earn from ads on my blog?
How much you can earn from ads on your blog will depend on a few variables.
For example, different ad networks use different metrics by which they decide to pay you.
It will also depend on how much traffic you’re getting.
If you’re only getting about 1,000 monthly visitors to your blog, then you cannot expect to earn a lot in ad revenue.
What are the best ad networks for bloggers to join?
Here’s a list of popular ad networks that you can join:
– Google AdSense
– Propeller Ads
If you have a skill or knowledge in a specific area that others would be willing to pay for—you can monetize your blog by creating online courses.
With this strategy, you don’t even need to have a large amount of traffic.
If people are reading your blog posts and find them valuable (and are willing to part ways with their money), then you can start selling courses almost immediately.
In saying that—it does help if you have more traffic because that gives you more opportunities to sell your course.
I made $10,282 last year from my website ElementorMarket.com selling website templates.
All of that money was earned passively.
I created the templates once and then listed them for sale.
To this day, I wake up in the morning to find emails about items being sold on my website.
I am quite literally making money in my sleep.
This is the advantage of selling digital downloads.
You only have to create the product one time, and it can sell thousands of times over.
You never have to deal with shipping, manufacturing, and all the other headaches that come with selling physical products.
What digital downloads can I sell on my blog?
You can sell virtually anything on your blog—as long as it ties in with your niche. Here are a few examples of popular digital downloads that many bloggers often sell:
- Recipes/Meal plans
- Stock photography
- Graphics & digital art
- Coaching recordings
Other ways to make money with your blog
Other than the ideas listed above, here are different ways you can start a blog and make money:
- Sell physical products
- Sponsored posts
- Create membership content
- Sell your services (as a freelancer)
These are just a few examples of how you can make money blogging.
Figure out what your readers need help with the most, and create a product that solves their problem.
Proven Money Making Strategies Right to Your Inbox
Do you want more money? Are you dreaming about a rich future? Sign up and get access to the tools you need to make your money goals a reality.
Finding free images and design elements for your blog
It’s not enough to have great blog content.
Your blog also has to use plenty of images and have great design elements.
In this step, I will reveal to you all the amazing resources I use almost daily on my blog.
And the best part? Most of them are completely free.
Free blog photo resources
These are the best free blog photo resources on the internet.
I’ve used each one of these photo resources personally.
You won’t find better photos even on paid stock photo websites.
For those who want to start a blog but couldn’t afford to buy stock photos, you don’t have to!
When it comes to free photos you can use to start a blog, Unsplash is the ultimate resource.
I’ve been using Unsplash for the last five years for all my personal projects, as well as the hundreds of blogs and websites I have developed for clients.
You will not find a better place for free stock photos—guaranteed. And yes, they are 100% free to use both personally and commercially.
Rawpixel is my second favorite blog photo resource. They have a massive supply of high-quality (and non-cheesy) stock photos that you can use 100% free.
If you want an even more abundant supply of stock photos, you can pay a few dollars to get their premium subscription, which I personally use.
Rawpixel also has a lot of high-quality mockups, graphics, and Photoshop files that you can download—in addition to the stock photos.
Pexels is another massively popular free stock photo website similar to Unsplash. What’s unique about Pexels is they offer stock videos in addition to stock photos.
This can be extremely beneficial if you need videos. For stock videos, also check out Coverr.co.
Pixabay has over 1.7 million+ high-quality stock images and videos for you to choose from.
Unlike Unsplash, Pixabay is more of a quantity over quality kind of stock photo website.
With over 1.7 million images to choose from, you will find good photos, but you may have to sift through a few pages before you find them.
Other free blog photo resources
In addition to the free blog photo resources above, here are even more:
Free illustration resources
DrawKit is a new tool I recently discovered that I want to share with you.
This is a free website that lets you download illustration kits.
Similar to the illustrations you see here on my blog with the cartoon people.
Humaaans is another fantastic free illustration kit.
What I like about Humaaans is the kit allows you to mix-and-match illustrations.
It’s like building legos.
When you download this kit, it will ask you to enter a suggested price.
If you want to download this kit for free, simply enter $0.
The illustration kits on Designmodo are not free.
However, each kit that is available for sale is very unique in it’s design.
This is the advantage of paying for an illustration kit.
The likelihood of another blog having your same illustrations is rare compared to some of the free options.
Free blog design resources
Canva is an incredible blog design resource that’s been around for almost a decade.
Canva allows you to easily create virtually any kind of graphic—social media posts, Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, blog image designs, anything!
We personally use Canva to create our Pinterest pins.
Flaticon is a site with well over 100,000 icons, and most of them are free.
I’ve been using Flaticon for years now for all my personal projects, as well as the hundreds of blogs and websites I have developed for clients.
In fact, most of the icons being used here on joshuamayo.com are free icons from Flaticon.
Visme is similar to Canva in many aspects, such as being able to create a variety of graphics.
However, Visme excels when it comes to creating infographics.
If you plan to start a blog and utilize infographics, you could certainly use a tool like Photoshop, but Visme will be much better.
Other free blog design resources
In addition to the free blog design resources above, here are even more:
Drive traffic to your blog
This is the final step of this guide.
Do you want to learn how to drive traffic to your blog so that your content is actually seen and read?
If so, this step is for you.
Imagine you put in hundreds of hours to start a blog.
You picked your name, set up your website, wrote several great blog posts, and you’re feeling optimistic.
But wait, no one is coming to your site…
How will people see all the great blog posts you’ve written if they aren’t coming to your website?
Unless you’re okay with only your mom reading your blog, you have to learn how to drive traffic to it.
In this final step of how to start a blog, you will learn how to drive traffic to your blog and become an authority in your niche.
Use social media
Using social media can be a great way to get your blog more traffic.
However, it’s important you know which social media networks to use.
You see, each social media network is different.
For example, Instagram is an image-driven social network, whereas something like Reddit is text-driven.
Content that you post on Reddit will not work the same on Instagram. Generally speaking, this applies to every social media network.
To give you an idea of which social media networks you should use for your blog, here’s a very general list:
- Facebook: Facebook is best for videos and curated content.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is a visual search engine. Visual content works best, such as infographics, step-by-step photo guides, and other visual content usually created using Canva.
- Instagram: Instagram is an image-driven social network. High-resolution images and quotes work best. You can also utilize Instagram Stories.
- Twitter: Twitter is great for sharing news, blog posts, and GIFs.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional network. Recipes and DIY content won’t work well here. Only blogs with professional content such as finance, career, entrepreneurship, and personal development should be using LinkedIn.
- Reddit: Reddit is text-driven, so images won’t work as well here. However, virtually anything can be posted on Reddit, so it doesn’t matter what niche your in, you can utilize Reddit.
Build an email list
Building an email list can be one of your greatest traffic drivers.
It’s the only effective way to notify your readers of the new content you’ve posted.
Let me give you an example from a different social network.
Let’s say you have a YouTube channel with subscribers.
Every time you post a new video, YouTube notifies your subscribers of your new video, which then helps drive views to your video.
Building an email list serves a similar purpose.
Every time you post a new article, you can notify your readers of the new post.
One of the best ways to build and manage an email list is by using a tool like ConvertKit.
ConvertKit allows you to easily integrate email newsletter forms into your blog posts, create landing pages, and send automated emails.
On top of notifying your subscribers of new content, you can also notify them if you create a new course, release a book, or have a product for sale.
However, don’t abuse your email list.
Your readers trust you enough to sign up for your newsletter, don’t just spam them with all the stuff you have for sale.
You want to actually be providing value in your emails the same way you are in your blog posts.
Republish your content on other sites
A great way of driving traffic to your blog is to post your content to other websites.
For example, Medium.
I often compare Medium as the YouTube of blogs.
Anyone can post, and anyone can go onto Medium.com and read those posts.
Medium has a lot of traffic going through their site—why not capture some of it?
Another way you can republish your content is by using Quora.
Quora is a question and answer website that allows anyone to ask questions and anyone to answer those questions.
You can search for specific categories to find questions relevant to your niche.
Then, provide high-quality answers to those questions (always leaving your website link or a way for people to find you).
By doing this, you are establishing yourself as an authority.
Anyone who sees your answer may want to click into your website to see what you’re all about.
Engage with communities in your niche
Engaging with communities in your niche can drive a lot of traffic to your blog—if your engagement is valuable.
Don’t go around spamming your blog links in random Facebook groups without actually providing any real value.
Doing this will either get you blocked from the site or disliked by other bloggers in your niche. Or both.
Instead, engage with communities in your niche by providing real thoughts and comments.
Comment on other posts and add real insights.
Only then do you have a right to ask people to visit your website and follow your content.
Here’s a list of places you can find communities in your niche:
- Facebook Groups
- Subreddits (Specific categories on Reddit)
- LinkedIn Groups
- Other blogs
Search these sites to find communities in your specific niche and begin engaging.
Remember, you need to provide value first before asking for anything in return.
How to Start a Blog in 2020 Final Takeaways
The only thing standing in the way of starting a blog is you.
It’s easy to give excuses as to why you can’t start a blog.
But remember, life is not a lottery ticket.
Success doesn’t come to people by mere chance or luck.
It comes through consistency and dedication.
The time and effort you put into your blog today, tomorrow, a week from now, and a month from now will define what your future success looks like.
And I promise you, it’s all worth it in the long run.
Are you sure you want to wait another year before you go after your dreams? Start now before you change your mind.
Wow! You just made it through the entire guide.
I genuinely hope that you found this guide helpful.
I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments regarding how to start a blog.
I’m also going to include a how to start a blog FAQ right below this.
Take a look there for answers to any questions you might have that I didn’t answer somewhere in this guide.
See you again soon!
How to Start a Blog Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common questions on how to start a blog.
Can you start a blog for free in 2020?
Yes, you can. There are sites such as Medium, Tumblr, and Blogger that allow you to blog completely free. If blogging is only a hobby for you, then these sites will work.
However, if you want to make serious money blogging, you will need to host your own blog using Bluehost or some of the other super affordable options discussed in this guide. If you want to review this part of the guide, click here to return back to choosing a web host for your blog.
How much does it cost to start a blog in 2020?
If you buy at least one cup of coffee from Starbucks each month, it cost about that much or less. If you use Bluehost, you can get started blogging for $3.95/mo.
You could end up paying a few dollars more for a professional blog theme on Theme Forest or the ones we discussed in this guide, but there are free themes you can use to start out.
How do you pick a name for your blog?
When deciding on a name for your blog, there are two things you should consider:
Is the name easy to remember?
Is the name relevant to your niche?
Let me give you an example. Say you started a blog about coffee—you wouldn’t name your coffee blog something like swimandsun.com. What do swimming and sun have to do with coffee? Far as I’m concerned, nothing!
A name like thecoffeelover.com would make sense. It meets both our criteria:
Is the name easy to remember? Yes.
Is the name relevant to your niche? Yes.
When deciding on a name, have fun, and be creative. Depending on your end goal, you can either choose your name as your blog title, or you can come up with something else.
If you want to focus more on building a personal brand for yourself, then choose your name as your blog name.
If you want to start a blog and eventually have other writers writing on your blog, then go with a name other than your personal name—such as thecoffeelover.com.
What do you do if your blog’s domain name is taken?
If you’ve chosen a name for your blog but the domain name is already taken, you will have to get creative.
Let’s use the name thecoffeelover.com as our example. You’ve chosen your blog name to be The Coffee Lover, but that domain name is already taken. What do you do?
The best solution would be finding a variation of the domain name. For example, instead of thecoffeelover.com, try thecoffeeloverblog.com or coffeelover.com. If that still doesn’t work, you may have to come up with a different blog name.
I recommend never using any extensions other than .com. Other domain name extensions like .biz and .xyz come off as being untrustworthy. And domain extensions like .net and .org wouldn’t make sense for your blog.
How much do bloggers make?
Professional bloggers who treat their blogging as a business can earn well over six-figures a year. In fact, there are many bloggers earning over $1 million each year.
In contrast, there are bloggers who do not treat their blog like a business but instead as a hobby. These bloggers are likely not earning more than $1,000 per year if that.
This question is difficult to answer because the answer varies.
If you search this question on Google, you may see some pretty discouraging numbers that make you want to reconsider blogging—ignore these numbers.
If you start a blog and stay consistent and committed to creating highly valuable content, then you will eventually find yourself earning a life-changing income.
I’m not tech-savvy—is starting a blog complicated?
The answer is no, starting a blog is not complicated. With advancements in technology, starting a blog in 2020 has become almost effortless.
For starters, web hosts like Bluehost make hosting your blog easy. The process of getting your blog online using Bluehost is outlined in this guide—click here to return back to choosing a web host for your blog.
Additionally, websites like Theme Forest allow you to purchase affordable blog templates that can get you up and running in under an hour—even if you know nothing about building websites.
If there are any questions that I did not answer on how to start a blog, leave your question below in the comments and I’ll answer it as soon as possible!
Summary of How to Start a Blog in 2020 in 7 Easy Steps
- Pick your blog’s niche
- Choose a web host for your blog
- Choose a theme to design your blog
- Write your first blog post
- Start making money with your blog
- Finding free images and design elements for your blog
- Drive traffic to your blog
So, what are you waiting for? Go start your blog!
And remember to reach out to me personally once you’ve started it, I’d love to take a look at it!