How to Start a Successful Blog

This post contains affiliate links. Please see full disclosure statement here.

Welcome, friend! Today I want to share with you a bit about why I started my blog and all the things I wish I had known going in. Keep reading if you’re interested in getting some tips on how you can start your own successful blog for very little money and cut out a bunch of the guesswork from the very start!

My Why

Writing is something I have always enjoyed. And like many things in life, I didn’t realize just how much I enjoyed it until I didn’t have to do it anymore. From grade school through grad school, I had been prompted to read, review, and write words that challenged me to become more discerning about the world around me. And while there were many times I loathed the deadlines that came with those assignments, I almost always loved the opportunities they presented. When I finished my master’s program, I felt like I had only scraped the surface when it came to using my words to unpack the ideologies that would inevitably govern the rest of my life.

One evening, I was reading a devotional, and I found myself admiring the art with which the author engaged her readers with stories and so vividly illustrated the connections between those stories, the scripture, and the indignations we experience in our daily lives. And then that tiny, timid voice inside my head said, “I think I can do that too.” And here we are.

My Message to You

Blogging, or writing in any form, really, isn’t for everyone. But for those who do love to write and feel they have a knack for it, I would argue that fear is the number one factor keeping them from doing it on a public platform. I know it was for me. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, imposter syndrome – it’s all very real. I still struggle with each of those things every day, and I am the farthest thing from an expert, but what keeps me going is this:

Words are powerful. And when we stop to consider how empty life would be without their existence, we quickly realize that it was the curiosity and courage of those that came before us that taught us everything we’ve come to know about ourselves. What if they had kept quiet and hoarded their evergreen wisdom out of fear that someone would disapprove? 

I say all that to say this: You have a voice, an important one. And as one of my favorite authors likes to say, “There’s still room at the table.”

So, won’t you join me?

Blogging might be for you if you…

  • Like to write
  • Enjoy helping people and want to build a community
  • Want the flexibility of working when and where you want
  • Are willing to learn new things

If any or all of those apply to you, here’s what you need to do:

Identify Your Purpose

One of the most important things you can do when starting a blog is to begin with the end in mind. Meaning, you should ask yourself what you want the end result of your blog to be. Money or pleasure? 

If you’re simply looking to use your blog as a journal or a way to share your heart and mind with close family and friends, then that’s wonderful, but the rest of this post will likely not apply to you. There are plenty of free website building platforms easily discovered with a quick Google search that will tell you what you need to know. However, if your goal is to build an online community and make some money along the way, you will need to take some very specific steps when choosing your blogging platform and finding the right self-hosting service for your website. I’m going to walk you through that.

What does it mean to be self-hosted?

Self-hosted means that you own your website and all of its content.  This is different than when you blog on a free platform like Blogger, as those sites don’t give you full control over your blog. As a result, you will be extremely limited in your ability to customize your blog and use it to make money.

If you want to make money blogging, you need to be self-hosted. It’s as simple as that.

My recommended provider for self-hosting is Bluehost. Bluehost will host your site for as little as $3.95 a month. Take it from me, this is where you want to start. I took the long way around and only learned about self-hosting with Bluehost after I had a paid for a full-blown business plan with wordpress.com.  A post like this could have me saved me several hundred dollars if I had only done my research before jumping in.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m going to tell you exactly how to start your self-hosted WordPress site using Bluehost’s services, but first, let’s go over a few more things that will help you get off on the right foot.

Finding Your Niche

Bloggers generally identify with a specific niche. Some of the most popular are lifestyle, fitness, food, money, travel, and parenting. Odds are, since you’re even considering this, you already have a niche in mind. Just remember that you’re going to be spending a lot of time researching and writing about whatever topic you pursue. You need to love it and be good at it. You don’t have to be a glorified expert or have a PhD, but you need to have real life experience in the area you’re blogging about if you want others to follow your work. If you can offer something that helps them solve a problem, they are more likely to keep coming back.

Choosing a Name for Your Blog

Once you decide what niche your blog will belong to, it’s time to come up with a name for your site. This can be something clever or practical, sentimental or straight-forward, but it needs to be something you identify with and can build a brand around.

For example, I knew I wanted to talk about an assortment of lifestyle topics on my blog but that the bulk of my posts would be centered around personal development. I wish I could say I took a more practical approach to naming my blog, but the truth is, I was going through a particularly tough time in my life, and the message God laid on my heart was that “All of life’s storms are survived by sunshine.” I knew I wanted to share that mantra with others and that writing was a way I could do that. So, again, here we are.

Hopefully, when you find the right name, you’ll just know. But don’t get discouraged if you have to go back to the drawing board a couple of times. Finding a domain (website) that hasn’t already been claimed can be very frustrating. Be patient and get creative. You’ll get there.

 

Getting Hosting for Your Blog

A website host supports your blog so that it can be released out into the web and run successfully around the clock. Bluehost is what I use for my site and is also the hosting provider most recommended by WordPress. Plus, if you’re going to go with Bluehost for hosting like I did, then your domain name is actually free. It’s included in the $3.95 plan from Bluehost!

You can click any of the Bluehost links throughout this page to get started, and here’s what you can excpect to see: 

Remember, you want a “.com” address. Meaning, if you want the blog name bloggirl.com and it’s already taken, you’ll see that you can buy bloggirl.net or bloggirl.me instead. I know it’s tempting, but DO NOT do that. Keep searching until you find a name that you love that is available as a “.com” site.

Installing WordPress

Bluehost makes installing WordPress for your blog super easy. If you need help getting set up, you can give Bluehost a call and they will walk you through the process.

So, you have a blog. Woohoo! Now what?

Choose a Theme

Now you have a blog, but it’s an empty blog, so you need to choose a theme. A theme determines what your site looks like and makes it possible for people to actually see content instead of a blank screen when they come to your website address.

Installing a theme requires minimal knowledge on your part. Basically, theme files contain a ton of detailed coding that will tell your site to display a certain way. You can demo several free themes through your WordPress dashboard, or you can browse the internet for paid themes that may give your site a more customized look.

Start Writing

Now you’re ready to start writing and publishing content.

You can find your WordPress dashboard by going to www.[yourblogaddresshere].com/admin.

Congratulations, friend! You are officially on your way to starting a successful blog! I wish you the very best of luck and life in this new adventure!

Until next time,

Catie