Here’s all you need to know about starting a blog in 2021
A step-by-step guide on everything you need to know about starting a new blog.
February 23 · 9 min read
For many professionals and small businesses, starting a blog signals their foray into expanding their online presence. A website will only take you so far. Search engines love fresh content — and publishing regular blog posts is a great way to go about it.
Blogging can often be a rewarding experience — sharing relevant, timely info about your industry and expressing expert opinions on various topics relating to your business.
Over time, people start to recognize you as an authority in that field. They trust you, so they’re happy to do business with you and even recommend others.
That’s the power of blogging.
In this article, we look at a step-by-step guide on everything you need to know about starting a new blog — how to start, best blogging platforms, how to make money from it — the whole nine yards!
How do I get started as a blogger?
Whether for personal use or business marketing, the aim of blogging is the same — to inform and educate your target audience, and in so doing, create a massive, loyal following from people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Let’s break down the makings of a truly successful blogger.
The first step to being a blogger is deciding on your online personality. How do you want to come across to your audience? The key is to be relatable. Your readers need to be able to identify with you. When you talk about something, they need to be able to nod their heads like, “yeah, this guy knows what he’s talking about.’
It’s all about the readers. Reading your blog posts means they’re giving you their attention. Respect it.
Identify your why
Why have you decided to start a blog? Is this a personal blog or for your business? What areas would you want to write about? Are you passionate about sharing your knowledge and ideas? Are you looking to attract more customers? Will this be a full-time gig for you or just something on the side?
These are all pertinent questions to ask yourself before becoming a blogger. The simple reality is that there are millions of abandoned blogs out there. There are several reasons for this. The most common is that the bloggers didn’t take the time to identify their why. They just thought it was “a good idea at the time.”
Do your research
Three main things to consider at this stage:
- What kind of crowd are you addressing?
- What are the jargons that are easily thrown around in your industry?
- What value does your blog provide?
Obviously, this is the digital information age, so your blogs must always be factual. The fastest way to kill your new blog is to publish false information, and then it later gets fact-checked only to turn out to be untrue.
As a blogger, you must be one hell of a researcher. Your ability to dig deeper allows you to write more interesting and relevant blog content. The kind that creates loyal followers.
You’ll need to research your competitors too. If you’re looking to make money from your blog, it makes sense to see what kind of blog content your competitors are pushing out, how they address their readers, how often they post, etc. This gives you much valuable insight into how to position yourself as a successful blogger.
Let’s get technical for a bit
The above steps are all about conditioning your mindset and establishing a purpose for and through your blog. With those out of the way, let’s take a look at the technical aspects of starting a new blog.
First, you’ll need a domain name
What name would you like to give your blogging site? Put some thought into your domain name. It should be something that perfectly describes what you’re going to be writing about. For example, the blog site Business Insider talks about business-related topics. It’s short and descriptive — the essential elements of any good domain name.
Another option is to use your name. If this is your blog, then nothing’s stopping you from using your name as the blog domain name. Ideally, you’ll want to already have a sizable following on the web, probably on social media or some other popular online platform.
Of course, if this is a blog for your business, then it will just use the same domain name as your business website.
- Can I get started with a free domain name?
You most certainly can. Many web hosting companies and blogging platforms allow you to start a new blog with a free domain name. However, these are usually branded domains, meaning they would include the hosting provider’s name or the blog platform.
For example, if you wanted a free domain name from Blogger.com, your blog domain name would look something like “blogdomain.blogspot.com.”
Another way to get a free domain name is to sign up for a hosting account. Web hosting deals with where your blog site will be domiciled when publishing it to the web. The hosting company can throw in a free domain name registration along with their hosting plan. You’re going to need hosting anyway, so you might as well get it from the same place you got your domain.
Domain privacy protection
If you’re using your domain (and you should), you definitely need to look into domain privacy protection. This is when your domain ownership information is protected against untoward practices on the internet, such as phishing, identity theft, and so on.
Domain name providers sometimes throw in a free WHOIS guard protection along with your domain name purchase. And even if they don’t, the domain privacy protection only costs a few dollars, usually less than $10 per year.
Choose your blogging platform
Being a successful blogger means choosing the right blogging platform. Now, this can be tricky, especially if you’re starting out since you’re probably on the lookout for a free blog service or at least a really cheap one.
Keep in mind that free blog services often come with attachments, much like getting a free domain name.
In any case, your choice of blogging platform will ultimately come down to either a self-hosted or hosted platform.
- Self-hosted blogging platforms
This just means you have to sort out your web hosting for your blog. These blogging platforms typically come with more customization options, plus the blogging software is usually free or relatively cheap. The tradeoff is that you’ll need to pay for the hosting (monthly or annually), and some initial setup is required.
Some of the most popular self-hosted blogging platforms include WordPress.org, Drupal, Ghost, and Joomla. By far, the most newbie-friendly is WordPress.org. It is an open-source self-hosted CMS (Content Management System) with countless free plugins, widgets, and add-ons. And it’s free to use too.
- Hosted blogging platforms
These are platforms offered by web hosting companies to help you get started with blogging. The web hosting provider takes care of the hosting (probably the new domain name too), and then you install the CMS of your choice.
Some hosting providers allow for easy integrations with various CMSs, so it’s usually just a one-click install process. The most popular web hosting companies for hosted blogging platforms are Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, GoDaddy, and SiteGround. Bluehost remains the go-to choice because of its affordable pricing and wide array of features.
Some hosted blogging platforms are free, like WordPress.com ( hosted alternative to Wordpress.org) and Wix. Other options like Medium and Tumblr are great because they allow you to reach an engaged community comprising users and other bloggers on the platform.
Setting up your blog
We’ve covered the basics of getting your blog name and sorting out the hosting. The next step is setting up your blog. If this is your first time blogging, going for a WordPress site (whether .org or .com) seems the more sensible decision.
WordPress blogs are quite easy to set up and offer lots of customization features to help you design a high-quality blog. There are also hundreds of free WordPress themes and ready-to-use templates. Let’s do a quick step-by-step:
Log in to your WordPress dashboard
Upon signing up for a WordPress site, you’ll have the chance to select your username and password. Type your blog name followed by /wp-admin in the browser. For example, mysite.com/wp-admin.
If you’re going about it through your web hosting account, likely, WordPress has already been installed.
Your WordPress dashboard is essentially the control area of your blog site. Here you can create new posts, upload media files, install plugins, add widgets, and so on.
Install your chosen WordPress theme
The theme you choose will dictate your blog site’s look and functionality, so go for something you can easily customize. You can check out premium themes too, if the free versions don’t quite capture what you’re looking for.
Preview the theme and look at the homepage. It should immediately catch your attention. Customize the theme as you deem necessary. The idea is to capture that balance between design and functionality — nice to look at and fully functional.
Most important WordPress plugins and installations for a new blog
Launching and maintaining a successful blog takes hard work. These plugins, widgets, extensions, and third-party apps help automate many of these tasks, so you have more time to produce great content.
First things first, install your Google Analytics tracking code
This code gives you insight into your blog’s performance — what pages visitors land on the most, what device visitors are using to access your blog site, location and demography of the visitors, e-commerce tracking, bounce rates, and so much more valuable data.
Running a blog successfully means knowing all these metrics and using them to position your site for more success. For instance, if you noticed that a particular blog post is generating lots of traffic, then you could do a sequel to that topic. This allows you to capitalize on their interest to deliver fresh, relevant blog content, which in turn can help you start building a loyal subscriber base.
To add the Google Analytics code, you’ll need to paste the tag before the end </head> tag in the header. This requires some HTML or web development experience, so get a professional to do it if you’re not familiar with the process.
Check out our comprehensive tutorial on how to use Google Analytics.
Other tools include:
- SEO plugin — Search engine optimization is the bedrock of any successful blog. An SEO plugin is basically like an SEO checker for your blog posts. The most popular is the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Contact form plugin — This is for people who want to contact you. WPForms is one of the most popular and free plugin options available when it comes to contact forms.
- Email marketing — As soon as you launch your blog, you want to start building an email list right away. Email marketing is a very powerful tool that can provide you with a steady string of loyal customers. Constant Contact and SendinBlue are great examples of email plugins.
- Backups — You need to backup your site every now and then, just in case you need to restore it for some reason. Plugins like UpdraftPlus and Jetpack Backups do automatic backups for you and save the file outside the website.
- Caching plugin — This plugin is responsible for improving the loading speed of your site. WP Rocket, Comet Cache, and W3 Total Cache are among the most popular caching plugins.
- Firewall and security — No doubt security is a top priority with your blog site. Sucuri, Wordfence Security, Cloudflare, and MaxCDN are great examples of firewall plugins.
- eCommerce — If you want to do some online selling on your site, all you need is the WooCommerce plugin. It transforms your site into a fully-functioning online store.
Writing your first blog post
You’re bubbling with blog post ideas and can’t wait to publish your very first blog. Let’s get to it then. Along the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see the add new function. Clicking this will open a new post — a blank space where you can begin to write.
It has to be great from the get-go
The truth is your ability to create great content consistently is what stands you out as a successful blogger. It is what builds trust and promotes your credibility.
Great content is simply the kind of content that resonates perfectly with your target audience. Your choice of words, how you present your ideas, tone of voice, and ability to cite sources are all tenets of high-quality content.
Add visual content
A blog featured image is a great way to generate viewer interest. You could also throw in infographics, high-quality GIFS, and even videos. Engagement is a key metric when it comes to the success of a blog. Visual content will go a long way in improving engagement rates.
Get the formatting right
Most people are browsing on their mobile devices, so as a general rule, no clunky paragraphs. Avoid writing anything over three or four lines in one paragraph. This way, your readers don’t get greeted with large blocks of text, which can make reading them tedious.
Next, you want to get your HTML headings right. H1 tags are the most important headers — usually reserved for the blog post title. H2 through H6 are mainly for main headings, subheadings, and minor paragraph breakers.
Include a Call to Action
A Call to Action (CTA) dictates the next step you want the reader to do at the end of your blog post. Your CTA will ultimately depend on the type of post. The most common one for blogging sites is to invite readers to become subscribers.
Others include direct calls like “get started now” or “call now,” which are then linked to your site’s contact page.
Publish your blog
It helps to have a checklist to measure the quality of your blog post. Grammar check, plagiarism check, SEO-quality check, cited factual information, good formatting, and so on. If you’re satisfied with what you’ve created, simply hit the publish button, and you’re good to go. If not, you can save it as a draft or automate the posting to be done at a specific date/time.
Congratulations, your first blog post is now live.
Growing your blog
It’s vital to optimize your blog content for Google and other search engines. This begins with conducting keyword research to find suitable keywords. Optimizing these keywords in your content makes it easy for search engines to find the post. Other SEO best practices include:
Optimized meta titles & meta descriptions.
Descriptive ALT tags for images.
Another great way to grow your blog is through social media. You could create snippets (screenshot information linking back to the blog post and post them on your social media pages. You can even share on Facebook groups and online forums. Just make sure what you’re sharing is relevant to the audience. No one likes a spammer.
Building your subscriber base requires tons of hard work, but the reward is well worth the efforts. Email marketing puts your posts directly into your reader’s inbox.
Other online channels
Anywhere you think your content would be relevant, promote your blog there. You could also sponsor local events such as podcasts and webinars to drive up recognition for your blog name.
Network with other successful bloggers
Share ideas, collaborate on posts, write guest posts on one another’s blog sites — networking can go a long way in driving up exposure for your blog.
How does blog monetization work?
Monetization just means transforming your blog into a revenue stream. There are many ways to make money blogging. The most common include:
- Allowing ads on your site — You’d have to sign up for Google AdSense. People who run their ads on your site pay you. Be careful with this method though, as too many ads, especially those that pop up when you land on the page, can make your site look real spammy.
- Affiliate marketing — Affiliate programs require you to market someone else’s products or services on your blog, and you get a commission on every sale. Affiliate marketing is popular in the eCommerce space, especially through Amazon.
- Use your blog to sell something — This could be physical or digital products. For instance, if you sell wearable tech, you could start a blog about smartwatches. When you have a decent enough following, ask them to buy from you. For digital products, you could sell eBooks, tutorials, and online courses.
- Set up a subscription model — This means you’re charging people a fee to access your blog content. This usually works when you have a strong, active community behind your blog. You then charge them recurring membership fees to read your blog.
Ready to get started?
Starting a blog is one of the easiest things you can do online. The hard part is maintaining it and actively growing your reader base. It is important to remember that all the successful bloggers out there today started out as new bloggers. Get started today!
Did you enjoy this guide? Check out our Resource Center for more helpful guides on establishing and expanding your online presence. At B12, we offer everything you need to set up your site within the shortest time possible.