How to Start a Blog in 2021

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Wondering how to start a blog?

In this guide, I’ll show you how to start a profitable and money-making blog within the next 20 minutes.

I’ve been a professional blogger for more than 8 years and I love the freedom blogging has given me.

I’ve written a detailed article listing the benefits of blogging

How can start a blog help you?

There are basically several reasons why you might need a blog. Some of these reasons are:

Create a second source of income that might eventually replace your day job

  • Become a published author
  • Showcase your crafts
  • Reach a wider audience for your business
  • Get more clients for your services
  • Build an active community around your brand
  • Just write for fun to express yourself

A blog is basically your online home, which you can control as you want. Therefore, if you’re truly serious about establishing an online presence for your business, you need a blog.

You don’t want to put your brand and livelihood in the hands of other people (such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.). They can wake up one day and decide to kick you out. But with a blog, you control it all.

1) Select a niche for your blog

Before starting a blog, the first step is always to choose your niche. Good enough, there are a bunch niches out there you can choose to blog about (food, travel, fashion, fitness, technology, etc.).

But it’s always good to go for a topic that you’re somewhat interested in. And if you’re actually an expert at your chosen niche, that’s even better as it’ll be much easier for you to grow your business with high-quality content.

You’ll want to consider the following questions while choosing a niche:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Are you an expert in something?
  • Is there something new you’re learning and want to write about your process and progress?

For example, if you are a fitness trainer or you’re attending fitness training classes, then it’ll be wise to create a fitness related blog to share your progress and experiences, thereby monetizing the content.

Also, it’s highly advisable to:

  • Create a blog around a topic that has lots of room for discussion: A blog needs a bunch of content to grow and become successful. So, you want to ensure you’ll never run out of ideas to write about on your blog.
  • Create a blog around a topic you enjoy: This isn’t very necessary, but if you are not excited at all about the topic, it’ll be challenging to write about it.
  • Choose a topic that is monetizable and profitable: One of the primary reasons why you’re creating your blog is to make money and probably replace your day job (if you already have one). So, it’s of utmost importance to go for a topic with a sizable audience that is ready and willing to spend money. Remember, if you can’t monetize and make money from your blog, then it has lost its goal.

Overall, the niche you choose to blog about will ultimately determine the success or failure of your blog. So, you want to spend some time here to make it right.

2) Choose a blogging platform

After you’ve decided what niche you want to enter, the next step will be to choose a blogging platform. This will be the home for your blog where all your content will be housed.

Interestingly, there are lots of blogging platforms out there that you can use for your blog. Some of them are easier to use and more flexible, while some come with a bit of a learning curve with limited features.

But among all the blogging platforms in the industry, WordPress (a free open-source) is the one we recommend as it’s used by 98% of the blogs on the web:

WordPress is also the most popularly used blogging platform in 2020, as shown on the screenshot below from Trends Builtwith:

As you can see, WordPress beat the likes of Blogger, Tumblr, Ghost, etc.

Having been in the industry for years, and after trying different blogging platforms, I can tell you that no other CMS (content management system) matches the self-hosted WordPress.

This is primarily because:

  • It’s free to use (but you’ll need your own domain and hosting)
  • It has a vast developer community
  • It’s highly flexible with thousands of free (and premium) plugins and themes
  • It gives you total control of your blog
  • WordPress is being improved and updated regularly

Therefore, I suggest you also use WordPress to create your blog.

3) Choose a domain name

Now that we’ve covered what blogging platform to use for your blog, let’s now go deeper into the technical aspects of creating your blog, starting with:

Your domain name!

Basically, your domain name serves two purposes:

  • It’s the brand of your blog: Your domain name will usually be the same as the name of your blog. So, you have to have that in mind while choosing a domain name as it’s a critical branding decision.
  • It’s the permanent address of your blog on the web: Once your blog is launched, anyone can enter your domain name into their browser and access your blog.

While choosing a domain name, you have to make it simple, catchy, short, and memorable. You don’t want to go for a name that will be difficult to remember or pronounce.

And talking about domain name extension, there are many of them on the internet, including .com, .net, .org, .info, etc. But the .com extension is the commonly used; hence, I’ll advise you to also use it, except it’s not available for the domain name you want.

Once you’ve decided on a domain name, head over to godaddy.com or namecheap.com to register it, however, you can also register it with your chosen hosting company.

That takes us to the next step of the process…

4) Get web hosting account

There are many reputable, reliable, and beginner-friendly web hosting providers on the internet, and HostGator is one of them. And we’re going to be using it for this how to start a blog tutorial.

HostGator offers one of the cheapest web hosting plans in the industry, with their plans starting from Rs.99 per month.

I basically like HostGator because:

  • It’s very affordable
  • It is easy to use and newbie-friendly
  • HostGator hosting offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • You’ll enjoy 24/7 technical support
  • HostGator makes it painless and effortless to start a WordPress blog with just a few clicks
  • You’ll get a 45-Day money-back guarantee from HostGator

Now that you already know why you should choose HostGator, let’s go ahead and buy your hosting account.

To start, visit HostGator homepage and click on the “Get Started Now” button:

Once you click on the “Get Started Now” button, you’ll be taken to a page where you’ll have to select your preferred plan.

HostGator offers 4 hosting plans (Starter, Hatching, Baby, and Business), with each of them having its own features:

Let’s go for their cheapest plan (Starter). Click on it, and you’ll be asked if you already have a domain name:

Click YES if you registered your domain with a 3rd party, or NO if you want to register one with HostGator. I’ll assume you already have a domain name, so let’s click on the YES button.

You’ll see a popup where you’ll enter your domain name. Do that and uncheck all the addons HostGator offers you and click on the “Continue” button:

On the next page, review your order and click on the “Continue” button again if everything looks good:

As you can see, I selected 1-year billing at Rs.199 per month. However, you’ll save up to 30% if you choose their 2-year billing plan, and even more at Rs.99 per month if you go for a 5-year billing. So, you have to choose based on your budget.

Click “Continue” to proceed to the next step, which is to create a HostGator account:

Enter your contact information and click “Next” to enter your user information:

Enter your email and password and then click on the “Create an Account” button to create your hosting account.

On the next page, select your payment method and click on the “Pay Now” button to make your payment.

And that’s it.

Congratulations, you now have a hosting account with HostGator. Let’s now go ahead and install WordPress on your server.

Install WordPress

Clicking on the “Pay Now” button will take straight to a welcome screen like the one below if your payment is successful.

This is your HostGator hosting account dashboard. From there, click on the “Hosting” tab to go to your hosting cPanel, from where you’ll install WordPress.

NOTE: If you closed the tab by accident after making the payment, just visit https://portal.hostgator.com to get back to your account dashboard. You’ll be required to enter your username and password, which will be emailed to you upon successful checkout.

Once on the Hosting panel, scroll down a bit and click on the “Get Started with WordPress Today” link as shown below:

This will take you to a new window. Here, select your domain name and click on the “Next” button.

On the next screen, enter your installation settings, such as your blog title, username, first name, last name, and email address.

You want to use a good username here, as that will be your WordPress login username. It’s also essential to use a correct email address as WordPress will email you login details after the installation.

Finally, check the two boxes you’ll see under the install settings and click on the “Install” button to complete the process.

The process will take a few minutes, and once everything is complete, you’ll get the “Installation Complete” screen as shown below:

Good job!

By now, you should have gotten your welcome email from WordPress. If so, click on the “My Installs” tab as shown above and change your WordPress admin password.

Here’s what the welcome email looks like:

As you can see, the email contains your WordPress admin login details.

Now, let’s quickly login to your WordPress admin dashboard, which is the backend of your site, where you make all the changes on your blog.

Visit the Admin URL in your welcome email to get to the login screen, or just enter yourdomainname.com/wp-admin into your browser to land to the screen below:

Use the username and password you get from the welcome email to log in to your admin dashboard for the first time. You can change the password later.

5) Customize Your Blog

In terms of customizing your blog, you need a theme. A theme is what dictates the look of your blog. Without a WordPress theme, it’ll appear as if your blog is naked.

Every WordPress installation comes with a theme by default, but you will want to choose your own theme to make your blog unique.

The good news, however, is that there are thousands of premium and free WordPress themes out there to choose from, thanks to the popularity of WordPress.

Here are some of the best places to find good WordPress themes:

WordPress.org: This is the main WordPress theme repository where you can find any type of theme you want for free.

GeneratePress: GeneratePress is one of the newest WordPress theme providers in the industry. It has lots of amazing and lightweight themes for any type of blog. And the good thing is that it has both a free and premium version.

StudioPress: StudioPress is also another provider of premium WordPress themes that have been there for years. They’re among the oldest players in the game, and you will also find any type of theme you want.

Astra: Another wonderful theme provider, Astra came into limelight recently with a litany of clean and attractive WordPress themes. Think of lightweight and fast loading themes, and like GeneratePress, there’s also a free and premium version of Astra.

By now, you should have decided on the theme you want to use, so let’s look at how to install it.

How to install a WordPress theme

From your WordPress admin dashboard, go to “Appearance” and select “Themes:”

Then, click on the “Add New” button:

If you choose to use a free theme, just search for the theme you want by name. When you find it, hover your mouse around it and click the “Install” button.

And if you want a premium theme, click on the “Upload Theme” button and upload the ZIP file of the theme from your computer:

Once the theme is installed through any of the methods, click on the “Activate” button to activate and make it live on your site.

That’s it about installing a WordPress theme.

6) Install Plugins

In simple terms, WordPress themes are primarily about appearance, whereas WordPress plugins deal with functionality. They’re used for adding different functionalities to a blog.

Unlike themes that you can only use one at a time, you can use multiple plugins, depending on what you want. But remember, the fewer, the better.

Like WordPress themes, you can also find many free and premium plugins for your site. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Akismet (anti-spam plugin)
  • BackWPup (for backing up your database)
  • W3 Total Cache (Caching plugin for improved speed)
  • Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
  • Yoast SEO (for on-page SEO optimization)
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com (adds different functionalities to your blog)
  • Wordfence Security (for the security of your site)
  • Contact form 7 (for adding simple contact forms)
  • Autoptimize (optimize your database)
  • Broken link checker (As the name suggests)
  • Really simple SSL (Improve your blog’s SSL)
  • Social warfare (for adding social sharing buttons on your blog)

How to install WordPress plugins

From your WordPress admin dashboard, go to “Plugins” and click on the “Add New” button.

For free plugins, search the WordPress plugin directory by name and click on the “Install Now” button once you find a theme you want.

And if you’re installing a premium plugin, just click on the “Upload Plugin” button and upload the ZIP file.

After a plugin is installed, click “Activate” to make it usable. You can also read the plugin’s instructions to learn how it works and how to use it.

7) Write Your First Post

Welcome to the fun part – publishing your first post, which is what we’ve been waiting for.

Publishing a blog post in WordPress is actually one of the easiest parts. Once you’ve written your post and it’s ready to go live, head over to “Posts” in the left navigation menu and click on the “Add New” button.

Once at the WordPress post editor, enter the title of your post at the top, and enter the post text in the editor box provided.

With the formatting toolbar, you can add bold, underline, italics, etc. It’s similar to Microsoft Word. And you can use the “Add Media” button to upload images to your blog post. And the “hyperlink” icon to add both internal and external links to your post.

When you’re done with the post formatting, choose a category for the post or add a new one on the right corner of the editor.

And if you want, you can also add some tags on the right corner to describe your post.

If everything is complete, click on the blue “Publish” button to make your post live.

Congratulations! You just wrote and published your very first blog post.

Conclusion

As you can see, creating a blog is not as difficult as you thought. If you’ve gone through this guide from the beginning, you should be able to start your own blog without any further assistance.

What next?

Decide on what niche you want to go into, brainstorm for a domain name, and head over to HostGator now to get your own hosting account. That’s it!

If you have any questions about how to start your blog, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


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