How to Start a Blog in 2021: The Ultimate Guide
This post was last updated on November 17, 2021.
If you’re wondering how to create a blog, you’ve come to the right place. As a blogger myself, I can tell you it’s a rewarding way to hone your writing skills, explore new ideas, and build an online presence that revolves around your passions and expertise. You’ll get the chance to inspire, educate, and entertain your readers - and as your blog grows, you can even start making money and turn it into a full-time job.
In other words, blogging is the first step toward finally pursuing your dream job or favorite hobby, so you really can’t go wrong. While starting a blog might seem daunting, I’m going to walk you through every step to make it as smooth as possible. The process is actually quite easy, and you’ll have your blog up and running before you know it.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll find all the guidance and tools you’ll need to start a blog. You’ll learn how to get your website off the ground, write your first blog post and draw in loyal readers. Sounds exciting? Let’s dive in.
How to start a blog
Choose a blogging platform. Use a platform that offers customizable templates.
Pick a hosting platform. Consider a platform with good bandwidth, uptime and customer support.
Find the right niche. Narrow down your theme and have a specific audience in mind.
Select a blog name and domain. Choose a descriptive name that peaks readers’ interests.
Set up and design your blog. Include imagery and effects that reflect your theme.
Brainstorm blog topics. Write down all your ideas before narrowing down topic selections.
Write your first blog post. Engage your audience with a killer title and use headers to make the content skimmable.
Create an editorial calendar. Create a calendar to help you publish consistently and hold yourself accountable.
Promote your blog. Use marketing strategies to expand your reach.
Make money blogging. Take advantage of opportunities to monetize your blog.
In this complete A to Z tutorial, we’ll cover everything from choosing your blogging platform to making money from your written work. With a little bit of guidance, you can get your blog online in 30 minutes or less.
This is going to be the most comprehensive advice you’ll find on building a blog from scratch. If you want to start a blog fast, though, feel free to use the numbered steps above as a quick cheat sheet. You can go directly to the step you need the most help with, or grab a cup of coffee and read it all the way through.
What is a blog?
While a blog can encompass an entire website or simply be its own section of a website, this is a place to share content about a topic you’re passionate about. A blog will typically include both written and visual elements published in an easy-to-read, article format so visitors can swiftly browse and find what they’re looking for. And with over 31.7 million blogs in the US alone, you can literally find blogs about every subject out there, from home renovation to baking to local business marketing strategies. Once you’ve established a community of readers, the possibilities are truly endless.
Why start a blog?
People start blogs for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
Share your ideas with the world. Sometimes you just want to be heard and get your ideas out into the universe. This is where a blog can help - it’s a form of communication and space that’s entirely your own. You can use your creativity and passion to create a space customized exactly to your liking where you can share your ideas, expertise and experiences.
Promote a product or service. Small business owners will often use a blog as a form of content marketing. Written content can be a strategic way to engage potential customers to help them feel more connected to a product or service you’re trying to sell.
Earn revenue. Blogging can be lucrative with time and continued effort. The best way to see the monetary fruits of your labor is by posting quality content regularly that draws in new readers and brings more traffic to your website. This will help your blog gain advertisers and can also boost your status as an online influencer, which can open up the door for affiliate marketing.
Build an online community. Thanks to the internet, we no longer need to live in the same city, state or even country to feel connected to others. A blog creates a space to share your story, ideas and start conversations with people all over the world with mutual interests. A blog typically has a comments section where your readers can speak with you directly, allowing you to engage in conversation and build relationships.
Now that you have a better understanding of the reasons behind starting a blog, let's explore the steps you need to take to create one, from ideation to publication.
01. Choose a blogging platform
The first step in starting a blog is to select a blogging platform for publishing your content. A quick Google search will show you that there are several different sites available that suit bloggers from all industries. I recommend Wix because it’s a good all-around blogging platform that satisfies most needs.
Wix’s blogging platform is fairly straightforward to get the hang of, and it offers a variety of attractive design options and templates to work with. In addition, it comes with features to analyze your blog’s performance and monetize your content, which will come in handy as you build your readership.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
When researching how to start a blog, one of the biggest questions people have is how much it costs. On many platforms, starting a blog is completely free.
You can decide at any point whether you’d like to upgrade to a variety of different plans, depending on your budget and needs.
02. Pick a hosting platform
Once you select your preferred blogging platform, you’ll need to choose a hosting platform. A blog, like other types of websites, requires a host. This essentially stores websites on a server under a unique address so that visitors can easily reach them.
On some blogging platforms, hosting is already included, so you won’t need to find a separate web host. In that case, you can skip this step and move to Step 3.
With other website builders, such as WordPress, you will need to find and pay for a separate hosting platform. Some popular options include:
If you’re not sure which hosting platform to choose, take into account these factors:
Uptime: The amount of time that the server hosting your website is up and running. A strong uptime rate (99.95% or above) is a good indication that the host’s servers perform well.
Bandwidth: The amount of data your website can transfer to visitors over a certain period of time. This factor is based on the size of your website pages as well as the amount of traffic you expect. This quick bandwidth calculator can help you determine your site’s bandwidth.
Customer support: Customer service you can contact in the event something goes wrong. Ideally, your hosting provider should offer an online help center, offer callbacks and respond to questions and concerns on social media.
Once you’ve chosen your blogging platform and hosting provider, you can start coming up with your blog idea.
Don’t worry about picking and registering your domain name just yet - we’ll walk through that process together in Step 4.
03. Find the right niche
Let’s move away from the technical and dive into the more theoretical. Take a step back and think about the main element that will form the foundation of your blog, from its URL and domain name to its content and design: your blog’s niche. What, exactly, do you want your blog to be about?
There is virtually no limit when it comes to your choice of subjects. The most crucial thing is that you select a specific topic area that will be the central focus of your entire blog.
Possible blog types range from fashion blogs to marketing blogs to food blogs. Because there are lots of other blogs focusing on the same subjects, you’ll need a way to stand out while still writing about what you love.
Here are three simple steps for choosing the perfect blog niche - one that not only is in line with your passions, but one that you can also monetize and grow:
Narrow down your interests
Research your audience
Check if it’s profitable
Narrow down your interests
When you start a blog, think long term. To motivate yourself to blog regularly, you’ll need to write about something you’re genuinely interested in. If you choose a topic solely on the basis of its being popular or profitable, your efforts will peter out pretty quickly.
If you aren’t sure right off the bat what you should be blogging about, that’s okay. Begin with a simple brainstorming session about subjects you like. What do you get excited talking about? What are you eager to learn more about?
Now, write down the first 5-10 interests that come to mind. For the sake of example, let’s say:
Next, think about your more specific interests within these subject areas and add them to your list. Your additions might look something like this:
Backpacking in Southeast Asia
Indie rock music
Hiking in the Rockies
Don’t worry about these niches being perfect just yet. You’ll research them more thoroughly in the next steps.
Research your audience
The next step of starting a blog is to learn which topics people are interested in reading about. If your blog gains traction, you can eventually start making money from it and become a full-time blogger.
You can determine the demand for any given niche with a bit of market research. Begin by taking a look at Google Trends, which shows you how many people are searching for a particular topic. The more searches a topic gets, the more public demand it has.
For instance, let’s type “vegan recipes” into Google Trends. In the image below, you’ll see that there’s a relatively stable level of interest in this topic, so it’s a good candidate for a blog niche.
“Paleo recipes,” on the other hand, has a much lower degree of interest. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea - some bloggers prefer to write for a more specific crowd if they have a unique specialty - but it does mean there are fewer people interested in that particular subject area.
If Google Trends reveals that interest in a subject area is either very low or declining, then that topic is unlikely to gain traction.
Check if it’s profitable
Whether you run a personal blog or a professional one, it’s a good idea to check whether your niche is profitable. Even if you’re starting out as a hobby blogger, you’ll want to think about future monetization options in the event that your blogging efforts evolve into a career.
There are multiple ways to earn money as a blogger, but one of the most common methods is affiliate marketing. As an affiliate, you’ll work together with a specific company, providing a link to their products within your blog, and earning a commission for any sale made through your site.
Considering whether you could blog as an affiliate is a good way to figure out if your niche is profitable. Think about the kinds of “best of” or “how to” posts you might write - for instance, “Best kitchen appliances for easy cooking” or “How to make carrot cake in 10 minutes.” In both instances, you could include an affiliate link to your favorite food processor or electric mixer and make money for each purchase made through your blog.
You don’t need to plan out your money-making strategy just yet, but thinking generally about profitable opportunities can help you choose a niche. For now, focus on starting your blog - we’ll talk more about making money blogging in Step 10.
04. Select a blog name and domain
As you think about how to start a blog, the question of what to name it is probably lurking somewhere in the back of your mind.
There are three main routes you can go with your blog's name. These include:
Your first and last name
The name of your business (if you have one)
A creative new name
When choosing your blog’s name, you should also think about the personality you want it to reflect. Should it be formal and professional? Sweet and romantic? Edgy and offbeat? If you’re stuck on names for your blog, this blog name generator is a helpful source of inspiration.
Once you decide, you should also go ahead and choose your domain name. Also referred to as a URL, a domain is a site’s address on the web (this website’s domain name, for example, is www.wix.com). Typically, your domain name will be the same as, or at least influenced by, the name of your blog.
05. Set up and design your blog
Choose a blog template
Decide which pages to include
Get indexed on search engines
Create a blog logo
At this point, you’ve chosen a blogging and hosting platform, domain name and blog niche. You’re now equipped with all the basics for setting up your blog. Here's how to optimize your blog design:
Choose a blog template
The first part of setup is selecting a template. Like your blog’s name, its look and feel will be an important part of its personality.
The most efficient way to get your blog up and running is to choose a pre-designed blog template. Afterwards, you can customize it based on your preferences.
Be sure to pick one that conveys your blog’s subject area. There are website templates for bloggers of any genre, whether you’re a food blogger, photography blogger or business blogger. As you browse, think about the mood you want your website to communicate, for example. whether it’s classic, modern, rugged or minimalist.
You should also take that into account as you further personalize the template with your preferred colors. Color psychology plays a huge role in forming your audience’s impression of your blog. As you choose a color palette, keep in mind the feelings and attitudes that different colors evoke. Blue, for instance, tends to evoke dependability and trust, while yellow evokes energy and joy.
If you’re unsure of which templates to choose, these blog examples serve as a helpful source of design inspiration.
Decide which pages to include
Once you’ve chosen a template, think about which pages to include. Most blogs include more than just a section to display their posts. They might also include an online store, as in the image below, or a contact page.
Here's an overview of the different options:
01 - Contact page: This is a place to put your email address so that fans and potential business partners can reach out to you. You can also include a contact form so that people can send a message directly through your site.
02 - About page: This tells visitors who you are, what you do, and why you do it, providing some context behind your blog and humanizing your content.
03 - Online store: You’ll also want to add a separate online store page if you’re thinking of selling items related to your blog. You can call this page “Products” or “Shop.”
If you want to beef up your blog with even more pages, a Tutorials page, Now Trending page or Author’s Pick page are all popular options.
Furthermore, some blogs opt to place their posts directly on the homepage, while others keep their homepages and blog pages separate. If you do this, make sure to include a navigation menu so that visitors can easily access your blog as well as any other pages.
There’s no right or wrong way to set up a blog, so play around with different options to see what best suits your style and personality. Keep in mind that you can always add or remove pages over time as your blog evolves.
Get indexed on search engines
Another part of starting a blog is making sure it’s visible on Google and other search engines. This is crucial if you want your content to pop up in search results, so you’ll want to take care of this step right away.