7 Easy Steps To Help You Start A Successful Blog
Have you been thinking about blogging but aren’t sure where to start? If you were to google “how to start a blog” the results you get would be overwhelming. When I started out, I didn’t know where to begin and I honestly became frustrated pretty early on. I wanted to save you some anxiety and share my 7 easy steps to start a successful blog.
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1. Come Up With A Catchy Name
When creating a name for your blog, you want it to be catchy and you want it to represent you or your brand. Grab a notebook and start brainstorming by writing keywords that represent what your blog is about. When I was brainstorming a name for my blog, I started by writing out descriptive words and phrases that represented me. I landed on Glass of Rose because, well…I love wine! You won’t see me at a party or at dinner without a glass of vino in my hand! 🍷
Keep it simple. Many bloggers use their own names and I really like that but my name (Jen Smith) is so basic I knew it wouldn’t be great for SEO. I wanted something different and I felt that Glass of Rose was elegant and represented me and my brand.
Really take the time to think about your blog’s name because it’s going to stick with you. You don’t want to be changing it because it no longer has meaning or is not appropriate for your blog. It’s confusing to your readers and a pain in the tush for you. I’ve done it before and it’s not fun.
2. Write, Write, Write
Write every day. Even if you never post it, it’s great practice and sometimes you come up with great ideas while just freewriting. I like to journal and many times I’ll be writing away and something I write will trigger an idea for the blog. Keep a journal or notebook with you so that when an idea pops into your head, you can quickly jot it down so you don’t forget it!
Freewriting is also a great way to practice writing and find your style. I enjoy reading blogs that are written in a conversational way. Let your personality shine through your writing. I try to write the way I talk to a degree so the reader can capture my personality. At least that’s my goal.
To keep ideas from becoming overwhelming, start with an outline of the main topics you want to cover. This way, you have a broad picture of what the post will be about and you can begin focusing on each topic (or headline) when you write.
When writing posts I like to use Grammarly to help me with spelling and grammar. Grammarly has an extension that you can add to your browser and it automatically checks spelling and grammar so when you misspell something, or your grammar is incorrect, it lets you know. I use the free version which checks basic spelling and grammar, but there are premium plans available that help with clarity, engagement, and delivery.
3. Building Your Blog
There are TONS of website builders out there and you can spend a whole bunch of money just to get started with some of them. If you’re new to blogging and want to start out slow, I recommend trying Blogger or Wix. Both have free or low-cost options to get started and you can try out the features they have available.
The downside to these options is that you don’t have a lot of customization flexibility and you will not be able to monetize your site. So if you’re hoping to get into affiliate marketing or have ads on your site, these options may not be for you.
Personally, I prefer using WordPress for my blog because it has all the flexibility I need. I am able to customize my theme, monetize my site by adding affiliate links and ads (more on that soon), and integrate plugins to help me track insights and keep my website secure. There are so many options with WordPress that I truly feel it’s the best option if you want to be a professional blogger.
NOTE: There are two WordPress “options”: WordPress.com and WordPress.Org. WordPress.com works like Wix or Blogger above and has a free option with limited flexibility. I didn’t mention it above to avoid confusion. For full flexibility, you want to use WordPress.Org. But before you go signing up, see the next topic on domain names and web hosting options because you can get WordPress integrated with your web hosting all at one time and it’s MUCH EASIER.
4. Domain and Hosting
After much research, I figured out that self-hosting was the way to go. You have so much more flexibility and are able to customize your site to make it unique and personal to your style.
I chose Siteground to host my blog and to purchase my domain because they have been highly regarded as the best. They have great customer service (which this non-tech savvy person has used MANY times) and has a better uptime and speed than other hosting providers. Their pricing is transparent so you know what you’re paying for. I’ve used other hosting providers in the past and was just disappointed with the performance.
You can also set up a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. An SSL certificate is important because it protects information shared between computers and adds a level of trust for your readers. You’re not only protecting your reader’s personal information that they may share with your site but you’re also protecting your reputation. Some hosting services charge extra for an SSL certificate but Siteground includes it free.
Siteground offers different types of hosting including web hosting, WooCommerce hosting, Cloud hosting and managed WordPress hosting which is what I use. I loved having everything in one place so that I didn’t have to figure out how to make WordPress work with my hosting service; it was all done for me.
5. Style and Theme
When it comes to the style and theme of your website, which is very personal, you want to first decide what the message is you’re trying to convey. Are you a travel blogger? A food blogger? A lifestyle blogger? Maybe you’re a fashion blogger. Look for other blogs in your niche and get inspiration from them. Obviously, don’t copy someone else’s site but look at their theme, font choices, and color scheme.
Set up a Pinterest Board or a Photoshop inspiration board and begin brainstorming color palettes, fonts and logo ideas. I find that keeping the color scheme to 4 colors or less that are complimentary and soft is the most elegant. When deciding on a font, look for something easy on the eye. I use Quattrocento Sans for the body of my blog but you can google other recommended font options.
WordPress has many free and paid themes you can choose from and I would recommend starting with a free theme to get the feel for the platform. Once you’re comfortable with using WordPress, you can start to look for custom themes that align with your blog style. Great places to find custom themes include Etsy and Creative Market.
Keeping track of content can become stressful and frustrating. When I started my blog, I thought I would just write and post when I felt like it. But I quickly figured out that if I really wanted my blog to be seen and be successful, I had to be more consistent and organized.
I started using Airtable to organize my content. Airtable is a spreadsheet database hybrid that allows you to organize everything. I created spreadsheets that include a content calendar, an expense tracking spreadsheet, a spreadsheet that tracks affiliate information, and contact information. You can create spreadsheets for anything you need to track and it is all in one place. There is a free option or you can sign up for one of Airtable’s premium options that offer more organization options and collaboration abilities.
Below is an example of a content calendar. Airtable has tons of templates that you can use for everything from content calendars as seen below, expense tracking sheets, collaboration spreadsheets and more. Plus, you can create your own spreadsheets and customize them with drop boxes, checkboxes, financial fields and more.
Another tool I use is CoSchedule which is integrated into my WordPress interface. It helps me schedule posts to my other social media platforms including my Facebook page and Twitter. Plus, CoSchedule has a built-in Title Analyzer that helps me create titles that better catch the reader’s attention.
7. Social Media
Once you’ve created your blog you need to promote it. Social media integration is crucial to having a successful blog and I could probably do an entire post on this as well. I chose two main platforms to promote my blog: Pinterest and Instagram.
Let’s talk about Pinterest first. Pinterest acts as a search engine; it’s not just pretty pictures and links to recipes. It is a platform where your blog can be seen and shared over and over again. The key is to pin a MINIMUM of 25-30 pins per day. I know it seems like a lot but it will get your name and your blog out there!
In addition to Pinterest, you want to select another platform to get your content out there. There are many options: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to name a few. I chose Instagram because I like the format, even though I’m not a huge fan of their algorithm. Can we please go back to chronological posting Instagram? 🤣
I mentioned before that when using Pinterest you want to pin 25-30 pins per day. If you were to do that manually it would take FOREVER! It can be done but I don’t have time for that. Instead, I use Tailwind to schedule my pins. I spend about 20-30 minutes to schedule a combination of my own pins and other people’s pins. What’s great is Tailwind also figures out the best time of day to post your pins; IE: when there’s the most traffic.
You can also use Tailwind to schedule Instagram posts and stories! Plus, Tailwind has a Smart Bio feature that allows you to share links within your bio. Smart Bio allows you to share image links using images from your Instagram posts and standard button links. I love being able to customize my bio with a link to all of my favorite things as well as my blog.
I hope that my 7 easy steps to start a successful blog were helpful. When you get your blog up and running, leave a comment here with a link to your blog. I’d love to check it out and show some support!
Be sure to check out my last post 5 Things You Can Do The Night Before To Make The Morning Easy.