How to Start a Blog in 2020? — A Detailed Guide to Successful Blogging
It is the 21st century and making money was never this easy. Forget the days when you had to line up outside offices and walk-in interviews with resumes or lose sleep overrunning complex businesses to earn money. Today, starting your blog is all you need to do to earn money right from the comfort of your home.
Whether it is earning extra money, gaining confidence, building a community or just having some fun, blogs can serve a variety of purposes, depending on your needs. But to most bloggers, blogging is above all a complete source of income and exposure. So how about we learn how to start a great blog in 2020? While success stories of bloggers earning big bucks are a dime s dozen, setting up and maintaining a great and profitable blog going is easier said than done.
While starting a blog in 2020 looks like the easiest task on Earth (and it is if you follow the right steps), many meet failure because they jump the gun or do not follow procedure when setting up the blog.
So, how to start a blog in 2020 that can help you become rich and famous? We got you covered but First, let us look at why you need a blog at all.
Why does You need a blog?
It is 2020 and it seems everyone either has a blog or wants to start one. But why and how did blogging become such a successful global phenomenon?
A blog is essentially a written discussion or information that can be used to interact with others on the world-wide-web. A blog can be about a particular product or company, it can be about cooking, it can be about health and sports, it can be about fashion or travel. In fact, the beauty of a blog is that it can be about anything.
While most blogs started out as single-author blogs producing content on specific issues ranging from women’s health to finance to childcare, the model of multi-author blogs or MABs which employ several authors to curate content for a particular topic or group of topics has now become mainstream. From individual health, lifestyle, fashion, finance and wellness individuals to businesses including media houses and research organizations produce blogs to give increased visibility to blogs.
But, why do people blog? There are several reasons.
One of the most important reasons why people want to learn how to start a blog in 2020 is that it provides them with a platform of exposure and an open field for competition. Since blogs are loved by Google, blog pages are more easily listed on Google search engines that in turn drive organic traffic to content produced on the blog. The advent of social media including microblogging sites like Twitter has helped integrate blogs into the news media cycle, making them an essential part of online information today.
Whether you are an individual who wants to share their ideas or expertise with the world or a business hoping to maximize profits by increasing customer bases, blogs afford the maximum exposure at minimum cost and effort. A good blog has thousands of unique viewers each day.
The second most important reason for starting a blog in 2020 is that it is easy money. Not only does a blog help you engage more audiences or customers with your content but also MAKE MONEY. Blogging can help you earn a full-time living given you are ready to work hard and persevere to make it a prolific and successful blog through methods like advertising, sponsored content, donations, affiliated selling, selling your own products, and much more.
Self-expression and creativity
The third reason why blogging is popular has to do with the mental peace and satisfaction it brings to bloggers. Since blogging is similar to journaling or keeping a diary online, it provides people with a release and a form of communication with the world. It is a great way to pad up your confidence and become a more organized and wholesome person. It is a great form of self-expression as well as an effective means to influence other people or promote content. Products and services. Not just that, it is a great platform to tell stories and inspire millions.
But that means starting a successful blog in 2020 should be easy, right? After all, it’s just finding something you love and writing content about it before putting it on the internet, right? Wrong. There is so much more to setting up a blog and while the process is not hard, it can be tricky as not many know the right method and instructions available online can be confusing rather than helpful.
Today, when more and more blogs are being launched every day not just by individuals but media and industry giants, it becomes important to understand the nitty-gritty of starting a blog in 2020.
In this blog post on ‘How to start a blog in 2020?’, let us look at 10 simple, yet key steps you need to follow to start your own successful blog. Follow them to the T, and you will have an up-and-coming blog ready to hit the internet and impress netizens.
Starting a blog #1 - Pick a niche (Topic)
One of the first things that you need to focus on in order to kickstart your blog is to choose a kick-ass topic or niche that represents your blog and, in extension, you. But while it looks like the easy part, choosing a niche for your blog can be one of the toughest and most time-consuming decisions you make as a new blogger. While the process appears straightforward enough, here are some questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a topic for your blog.
Is the topic something you are an expert in or are passionate about?
If you are, then great. The more knowledge or first-hand experience you have with a topic, the better your blog would be. For example, if your blog is about make-up, it would help if you are truly interested in make-up and the beauty industry and have some real-time experience in the field. If you want to write about travel, being an expert on travel or having traveled extensively would lend your blog more authenticity.
Being an expert in your chosen topic not only allows you to write endless new content on and around the same topic but also lends your blog credibility and accuracy in the eyes of the readers.
Is the topic a popular one?
While expertise in your topic of choice is important, it is also essential to note if the topic is one that people are at all interested in if you want to start a blog in 2020. It is important to make your blog unique in terms of content from others. But choosing extremely specific and esoteric topics that are not very popular among masses may backfire as it may fail to attract traffic - a factor that is very important for the success of your blog, financial or otherwise.
There’s a reason why more and more people take to tried and tested topics such as wellness, health, fitness, beauty, spirituality, art, and areas that have mass followers. The trick is to find a topic within these wider purviews that people might be interested in such as “Make up for Brown Girls” which, despite being within the wider category of beauty, has a more targeted niche.
Choosing esoteric and academic topics like a blog about carburetors or a vlog dedicated to the conservation of ray-finned fishes may find fewer takers on the internet.
Do you enjoy the topic?
Whether an expert or not, it is important for you to really enjoy or like the topic yourself. This is because you will soon be spending large portions of your day researching and writing about your chosen niche and if you don’t like the topic, you may soon get bored or run out of content. And when it comes to the competitive blogging market, frequency and consistency of the content is key to set your blog apart and create a brand identity for itself.
You can run a blog that is popular among others, only if you enjoy the topic yourself and would like to read about the content you are producing.
Did you choose it because others are making money writing about it?
While it is important to constantly scan competition and stay apprised of popular consumption patterns and demands with regard to digital content, originality is still king. Avoid the bandwagon effect by not choosing a topic just because it is a popular one that your other blogger friends or inspirations are writing about.
Choosing extremely popular topics not only makes it difficult for your blog to cut through the clutter but also makes your content open to comparisons with that of an older, experienced blogger. Try to come up with a topic that you think people want to read about instead of the ones that you find others wanting to write about. Talk to people in the field you want to start a blog in and figure out the niches that you can cover that hasn’t already been taken.
Can you make money from this topic?
One of the primary questions when it comes to choosing a topic to start a blog in 2020, nevertheless, is whether the blog can make money. Will people and advertisers pay for the content you want to produce? Is the area of your interest easily monetizable? Picking topics that allow bloggers to give space to advertisers is an important step in this direction.
While the topic of your blog definitely has an impact on the number of advertisers you get. A blog dedicated to gardening would attract a lot of ads from companies that sell gardening products. Similarly, a blog dedicated to pet care or pet-journaling and grooming would get ads from pet-food and pet care companies as well as veterinarians and related businesses.
However, in the end, advertisers are attracted to traffic and will even approach blogs that do not have a topic related to products the company is selling. In the end, what matters is the number of unique page views.
Now, let’s say you have already chosen a topic that you are an expert in and enjoy writing about. What’s next? You need to ensure that the topic is:
- Not too academic - Internet users love relatable content and will not like to read blogs that are too academic, boring or pretentious. Even when they don’t know something, readers don’t like being told what they don’t know. Make sure your topic makes people curious and interested in finding out more instead of making them feel stupid.
- Consistent and focused - One of the most common mistakes rookie bloggers make is to add too much diversity in terms of content for one blog. Make sure that when you choose a topic for a blog to keep it as focused and streamlined as possible. A blog about food may be too general and broad a topic. But a blog about Lebanese or Indian food may attract a more niche audience as well as a more specific brand identity. If the topic is food, ensure you are not writing about hair cleaning products or the best methods to shine a kitchen floor.
- Keyword-friendly - Since a successful blog is all about traffic, it is important that your chosen topic is keyword-friendly. Keywords are essentially the words that are used to search for content on search engines. Ensure the topic you choose keeps generating regular keywords that link to it or related content as only then can your blog get indexed by Google. When the blog is indexed by Google, it gets organic traffic whenever users Google those keywords.
- Has a crisp and memorable blog title - Choosing a name for your blog is also an essential first step when it comes to setting up the blog. A good blog name not only reflects or captures the topic but also your own personality and creativity. Generally, names that are easy to remember and associate with have a higher recall value and can be more successful as blog names. Picking a name is rather an art and more bloggers should spend time choosing the right name for blogs as it is one of the first things about the blog that readers will find out. While judging a blog by its name is as bad as judging a book by its movie poster, it nevertheless goes a long way in establishing your blog in the minds of readers.
Now that you have gone through the above steps and chosen a suitable topic, the next step in the 'how to start your blog in 2020' checklist is creating an account. This step is important because the account or platform you choose will be one of the building blocks of your blog.
Starting a Blog #2 - Choose a platform
Many platforms today provide bloggers with a place to start. Some platforms allow bloggers with a more flexible premise and are easier to use, especially for first-time bloggers. While these are more easily adaptable, other more sophisticated platforms come with limited options and a steeper learning curve.
Some of the most common platforms for blogging include WordPress, Tumbler, Medium, Ghost, Blogger, Movable Type and JUGEM, among others. While all of them are popular, the most trusted and used open-source blogging platform continues to be WordPress, dominating over 84 percent of the blogging market.
While choosing a platform, there are a number of things you must keep in mind.
Try to look for open-source blogging platforms like WordPress that will allow you to freely use the platform without any additional costs. WordPress is one of the most economical in this regard. With a WordPress account, you only need to shell out a nominal monthly sum for hosting and about $10 a year as the price of the COM domain name. Even the latter expense can be avoided.
The best blogging platforms are the ones that offer a great deal of design flexibility and a wide range of premium and free blog themes to choose from. A flexible platform like WordPress allows you to freely tweak the design and outlook of your blog. It also provides you a myriad of selectively curated themes that can help you bring your blog to life. The theme contributes greatly to the personality of your blog and it is important to pick one that matches the style and tone of your content while being attractive to readers.
While choosing a platform, ensure you pick one that has a large online community support system. Irrespective of what you want to do with your blog or what hurdles you face, an active online support and developer community can help you out of the jam in a jiffy. Platforms like WordPress have a well-equipped online community base that caters to the needs of all bloggers on the platform. In fact, just Googling “WordPress help” yields over 500 million results. Such communities are important as they can provide new bloggers with a wide array of assistance and experiential knowledge when it comes to blogging. Not being able to figure out what keywords to use for your blog or how to promote your new brand of hair gel? Just ask the experts.
In today’s world of fast-paced technological advances, it is essential to choose a blogging platform that is regularly updated. While it is important for the content of your blog to be polished and relatable, nobody will read it if the design in glitchy or the page refuses to fit on the screen of the newest device such as a smart-watch.
New updates constantly keep your blogging platform abreast of new technological interventions so that your blog is equally accessible and attractive as well as effective on any device or medium. Sites like WordPress are constantly working on new updates to fix bugs and other issues that bloggers face while using it.
Since blogging is a creative process, it is important for you as a blogger to exercise complete control over your blog. You should be able to control what gets posted, when and how. You get to decide the look and feel of your content and you get to decide your blog’s layout. Picking a platform that allows you the autonomy and control to tweak details and customize your blog as per your own specification is pertinent to running a successful blog.
Choosing the right platform that meets all your blogging needs is important when it comes to starting a blog in 2020 because it sets you off on the right foot. It is important because the platform you choose will dictate a lot of things you can or can't do with the blog. And it will decide how much money you need to shell before you can start making money out of the blog.
Starting a Blog #3 - Choose your blog’s domain
Once you have chosen the topic for your blog and set up an account, the next step is setting up your blog’s domain and picking the right domain name. Many often consider this step to be an unimportant one. How hard can picking a name for your domain be, right? Wrong. Picking the right domain name is essential to the success of your blog as it is the web address that people will search on engines to reach your blog page or website.
Wondering what the difference is between a blog title and a domain name? The blog title is simply the title of your blog. It appears inside your blog and readers can only see it once they have already arrived at the website.
A domain name, on the other hand, is the one that is used to name the website itself. It has to be unique as two domains with the same name cannot exist. Think of it as the address on the internet in which your blog lives, meaning it has to be unique. There are various things that you ought to think about before choosing the domain name for your blog.
At the advent of the world wide web, it was easier to find the right keywords that can be used as crisp and precise names for your domain. For example, if your blog is about butterflies, a simple butterfly.com would probably work. But now, with so much overcrowding of content on the internet, finding the right name that can help your blog rank on Google can be tricky.
One of the most common advice given to bloggers when picking a domain name is to “niche down”, meaning, think about the blog as specifically as possible. While exact-match keywords are a thing of the past, the idea is to come up with a name that is relatable to the topic of your blog. The more relatable a keyword is to the topic, the more easily it would be ranked on Google and show up if someone searches for it or related keywords. If your blog is based on childcare, it makes sense to name your domain in a related category.
Balance it Out
However, following the niche down a path does not mean narrowing the name to such a specific. The idea is to strike the right balance between the broader topic and the specific portion of it that your blog mainly deals with. Finding a name that is too specific can be a problem, because, too niche a name restricts your blog’s rankability on search engines. Additionally, too specific a name also restricts your creativity and diversity in terms of content.
If your blog is named “Dot-Nosed Sharks of New Smyrna Beach”, readers would only expect information about Dot-nosed sharks that swim in New Smyrna Beach on your website. A more relaxed name like “SharksAreUs” allows you to write not just about a particular kind of shark but all kinds of sharks. Your blog thus becomes open to be ranked when anyone searches for sharks or even keywords related to sharks. That is the power of a good domain name and it is an important part of starting a blog in 2020.
No numbers, please!
Avoid using numerics in the website name. If you think about it, no popular website or blog except perhaps 4Chan has a numeric domain name. That’s because numbers are easier to forget or misremember. They are also harder to be ranked on search engines as numbers are not keywords.
Keep it short
Long sentences don’t work as the best domain names. Think of Facebook, YouTube, even WordPress. Most successful domain names are either single or a combination of two words ("Blogging" + "Mindset" = "BloggingMindset").
Anything more than three is a crowd. The shorter and more succinct the name, the higher the chances for it to go viral. Over cluttering a domain name can mean instant death for a young blog even before you can learn how to start a blog in 2020.
Your name as a domain - Good or Bad?
Many bloggers choose to use their own names as the name of the domain. This has both pros and cons.
The con is that is using your own name makes it hard for it to be indexed or ranked on Google as it is unrelated to other search keywords.
The pros, however, is that since it is not related to any keyword, your blog can be about anything! Many bloggers feel the need to constantly change their domain names because they need to constantly update the content and topic of their blog according to changing demands, tastes, and mindsets. If the domain name is based on the blogger’s own name, there’s no need to change the name and still cover a wide range of content. Such domain names, however, work best in case of bloggers who are already famous or have a name on the internet and social media. It is, nevertheless, a great way to achieve quick fame.
Let your creativity fly
Don’t be afraid to brainstorm and let your mind run. Sometimes, the best ideas for domain names come from those random flights of fancy in the bathroom when you were not even seriously thinking about it. Give yourself time, do your research on the topic, do your keyword homework to find out which keywords work best on the topic and then choose correctly. Domain names don’t even have to be real words, they can be made-up words, onomatopoeias, common names, in fact just about anything that can help people recall your blog and your content.
Choose the right extension
One of the most boring yet important aspects of naming your domain is perhaps picking the right extension. Most experts suggest a TLD extension for your domain such as a dot com (.com) extension. This is due largely to the fact that .com’s are globally accessible and popular. Nevertheless, there are several other factors that you should take into consideration when picking an extension.
Firstly, consider the purpose of your blog. While dot coms have wider applicability, online businesses can also choose to opt for .biz extensions as it directly tells your readers that your blog is about selling a product. If your blog or website is about an organization, you can opt for a .org extension.
Niche-specific blogs can choose the .blog extension whereas information specific blogs can pick the .info extension. In the days of blogging’s infancy, several self-blogs or personal blogs that took the shape of journals were published under the .me extension. Nevertheless, most experts agree that .com is the most reliable extension when it comes to running a successful blog in 2020. While it was initially short for “commercial” websites, .coms today have come to cover a wide variety of topics.
Consider the price
While picking the domain name may seem like an exciting part in your journey to setting up the best blog in 2020, an essential factor that you cannot forego considering is the price of the domain name. Domain names have to be bought from a registrar company.
If you choose a .com extension via NameCheap registrar, the domain name will cost you about $10 a year. While the price does not seem to be steep, there are ways to even avoid this nominal annual cost, making your blog even more cost-effective. Enter hosting servers, the next step in your journey to getting your perfect, money-making blog. A good hosting server can remove the cost of the domain name.
Starting a Blog # 4 - Pick a Hosting Server and Domain
Choosing the right hosting server for your blog is probably the most important decision you will make when it comes to setting up your blog. A web hosting server or web host provides blogs and websites with a server on which it can exist on the internet. Much like a domain, no blog or website can exist without a web hosting account.
The relationship between a blogger and a hosting server is like that between two lovers. You want your hosting server to be high-performing, responsive and able to take care of everything while you do your thing at blogging. You want your hosting server to be available at your back and to take care of any and every hitch that your blog or website faces. And hosting servers such as Siteground provide just that — they manage all your web hosting needs.
Web-hosting is basically the leg on which your blog stands. If it is slow or bulky, your blog will be slow and glitchy meaning it will turn readers away. If it is unresponsive or bad at managing your files, you will face issues in the day-to-day running of your blog.
While choosing a hosting server, here are some things you need to consider.
What are your hosting needs?
This means you need to assess the kind of blog you will be running and in turn, the kind of traffic your blog or website will be attracting. Hosting servers have some broad varieties. For high-traffic blogs, dedicated servers are the way to go as they are dedicated to serving the needs of just one blog or website. In the case of new or medium-scale blogs and businesses, shares-hosting can also be a highly viable option. Siteground offers a variety of flexible and cheap managed hosting plans that can help you in the initial days of setting up your blog.
Shared hosting is thus very useful for first-time bloggers as it allows you to share your server with other websites and customers. As the blog or business grows, however, it makes sense to shift to a dedicated server or VPS as shared hosting can mean a division of resources. VPS means Virtual Private Hosting and is the comfortable middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
It is apt for fast-growing blogs that have just stepped out of the “newbie” category and managed to break through the clutter. Essentially, VPS hosting is perfect for mid-level bloggers. Dedicated servers, on the other hand, are designed to withstand heavy traffic loads and are meant for bigger businesses and blogs that see millions of views a day. Dedicated hosting does, however, offer maximum security and server resources to its clients.
Since each plan varies in terms of expense, it makes sense to figure choose a plan according to the blog’s present or immediately expected earnings. And it makes sense to choose a web host that can offer easy transfers from one plan to the other while staying with the same host.
Does the web host meet your website’s security needs?
This is an important question to ask because your blog’s security is possibly one of the most essential features that you need to safeguard. Your blog has to be kept safe from hacking as well as any other forms of online threats, disturbances or attacks. Choosing a server such as Siteground that offers a strong and vast team of experts that keep track of daily software vulnerabilities at a blog/website and server level is the wisest thing to do. A secure website appears more reliable to readers and also reduces your headache.
Is it reliable?
One of the first things to consider when choosing a web hosting server is its reliability and downtime. Is the server providing around-the-clock service? Does it offer a fully integrated and managed hosting? Is it keeping downtime to the minimum? These are the questions you must ask. A good web host such as Siteground can empower bloggers to focus full-time on the core business and on ways to make the blog better instead of wasting time in hosting maintenance. Good web servers offer automatic WordPress updates that can be set as per schedule or even on auto-pilot, as well as features such as static and dynamic cashing, and Memcached.
What additional features does it offer?
Today, a good web host does not provide bloggers just with a server but can fully take a load of website building off the blogger’s shoulders. Not just building and management, modern web hosts that are updated with the highest technology even allows website migration services that help you import content from your blogs or websites if you have any. They also come decked with a variety of WordPress plans that you can choose from according to your blogging needs. Web hosts such as Siteground even take charge of setting up the account and its maintenance including regular updates.
Does it have a good customer support team?
It may seem like a trivial detail but a good customer support team is key to the optimum performance of a web host. A round-the-clock team is essential for addressing every query or hitch that you might face on your website or blog’s server. Companies like Siteground offer dedicated support services with a staff that is top-rated, highly skilled, friendly, fast and available 24x7.
Domain name registration
While registering a domain name and choosing a hosting server are two different things, siteground provides bloggers with domain registration facilities as well. In such cases, the price of the domain name is not charged for the first year separately but subsumed within the overall hosting package. Many bloggers prefer to keep all their blog details and documents in the same place so it makes sense to look for a web host that provides such services. The best domain hosts also provide free migrations and transfers like Siteground.
Starting a Blog #5 - Set Up WordPress account
Now comes the more technical part of your journey to setting up the blog in 2020. Once you are equipped with a blog niche, domain name, and web hosting server, you are ready to set up your Content Management System (CMS) account.
CMS refers to the blogging platform that you use to create, design, customize, store and publish your blog. Since it is the basic building block for your blog, you will have to look for a CMS that is Hardy and powerful, cost-efficient and user-friendly. Too complicated a CMS can often hinder bloggers and end up making their job harder instead of easier.
There are various blogging platforms, both free and paid, available on the internet that allow bloggers the platform to produce their blogs and websites. These include WordPress, Blogger, Ghost, Tumblr, Movable Type, Medium, JUGEM, PageKit, and others. But 95 percent of bloggers prefer WordPress, thanks to its powerful site management, attractive features, and strong support and developers’ community.
In the United States, over 47 percent of total blogs are written and published from a WordPress account. This is because not only is WordPress user-friendly and extremely easy to use, it also comes fully equipped with a multitude of free themes and plugins that can be used to customize your blog according to your own tastes and needs. And the best part? You don't even need to be a technical or computer science expert to figure it out.
In fact, some hosting servers such as SiteGround offer free and simple one-click features that allow the easy set-up of a WordPress Account. All SiteGround plans, for instance, come with automatic WordPress installation, automatic updates, automated migrations, advanced caching and expert WordPress support.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
Now that you know what CMS to choose and how to set up an account, here's an important question we bet you forgot about. Should you choose WordPress.com or WordPress.org for your blog? This decision can make or break your blog's success, and thus, is very important. So, how do you choose the correct option? The answer again lies in the first question you asked yourself when starting out with setting up the blog - what is the purpose of your blog? Is it to make money or just to put your creativity and ideas out there for people to share?
To understand how the purpose of your blog defines the kind of WordPress account that you need, let us first look at the features of WordPress.com:
- It has a free version and paid versions that can cost up to $299 a year.
- It is hosted by WordPress.
- It offers a free subdomain name. You can only get a custom domain name for an extra cost.
- It does not provide any additional maintenance or help to bloggers facing difficulties.
- It is hard to customize and provides limited customizable options to users.
- It does not support eCommerce options on the blog.
- It does not support any forums such as BuddyPress.
- It can be used to host a single site only.
An analysis of the features reveals that blogs run on WordPress.com are good for first-time bloggers and those who wish to build an impressive online resume.
Now, let us look at the features of WordPress.org:
- While WordPrees.com comes with a free version, WordPress.org is totally free & open-source.
- It is a self-hosted service by you, WordPress is not responsible for hosting which means you will have to find a web host, such as siteground. (as discussed in previous steps)
- It allows bloggers to choose custom domain names that can best reflect the brand and your own identity.
- It is maintained by you and not by external parties.
- It comes with a vast range of customizable options and can be easily modified and designed according to need. It is completely customizable.
- It allows eCommerce activities on the blog meaning you can host ads and participate in affiliate selling techniques for your blog to make money.
- It supports BuddyPress and bbPress.
- Unlike WordPress.com, a single WordPress.org account can be used to run multiple sites.
From these points, it becomes clear that if you want to make money from your blog, a WordPress.org account is what you want. It is only with a .org extension that you can monetize your blog and earn money by featuring ads. Businesses and advanced bloggers should opt for the .org version instead of .com.
Moreover, it isn't just superior monetization and analytics options that make WordPress.org better. It is also the option to allow bloggers to customize domain names. Your blog is an extension of your brand and your identity and it should not have to rely on sub-par subdomains that may fail to do justice to your personal identity, meaning you end up with a blog that does not manage to fully capture your brand's essence.
WordPress.com does allow you to customize your domain name but at an extra cost. In comparison, WordPress.org has no hidden or additional costs and it offers all its features for free.
WordPress.org allows you to not only customize domain name but also tweak your blog's design, download themes and plugins even from other platforms and monetize your blog. So choose wisely when it comes to picking the right CMS or blogging account. A clean start without hiccups is essential for starting a blog in 2020.
Starting a Blog #6 - Customize Design and Theme
Now comes the fun part of learning how to start a blog in 2020 - picking a theme and style for your blog.
While naming a blog, finding the right domain name and server and setting up the CMS can be daunting, most bloggers enjoy the custom designing part of starting a blog. That is because it is this step that bloggers get to experiment with their creativity and pick basically decide how the blog would look to the eye. While some may dismiss it as an additional task, the look of your blog decides it's popularity among readers.
Once you have set up your WordPress account, your blog would be given a default theme by WordPress itself. This default theme is usually a simple one that is workable, though not as attractive as it could be. But WordPress lets you choose your own theme and customize your blog's design without you needing any training in coding. You can simply choose from an array of options that WordPress itself offers. Additionally, you can also download themes and custom plugins from external sources in case of a WordPress.org account.
But, picking a theme is not just about availability. Let us look at some of the things you must consider before choosing a theme.
Your blog's niche
The niche and purpose of your blog decide the look and feel of your blog. If your blog is a business blog, it makes sense to choose a theme that matches your blog. If your blog is about a restaurant, pick a theme that is slick. If your blog is about pre-natal care, pick one that has baby colors that can soothe upcoming mothers.
Pick the right features
How many features do you need in your blog? WordPress comes with something called a WordPress Feature Filter that can help you choose from all the features available on the platform. These include translation bars, allowing for flexible headers, custom colors, custom menu, and other features. But picking features also depends on the type of your blog.
If you have a news website, you need the easy translation feature but the same is not applicable for a personal blog. Make sure, however, to pick features as per your blog's needs and Don't overdo it. Too many features and drop-down additions can make your blog look cluttered and may turn away readers who would choose to go to a blog that is easier to navigate.
Don't bloat your theme
One of the biggest problems faced by bloggers when choosing a theme is having too many options to choose from. Since WordPress offers a wide variety of customizable themes and features, it can get hard to pick the right features and bloggers often end up with bloated or cluttered sites. Additional features not only make the page slower to load but may hamper its usability across devices. The features that look and feel great to use on a computer may not appear the same when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. When picking your theme, ensure that the theme you choose works across mediums and a had wider applicability. And remember to not overcrowd.
A highly responsive website or blog is one that works smoothly across devices. While picking a theme, ensure you choose menus and widgets that are responsive. Test out the theme and see how it appears across devices. Features such as flexible images and a fluid site grid can help improve your blog's performance and responsiveness on computers as well as mobile devices. WordPress offers various customization options to increase the site's responsiveness. You may have to look around and try out some features before settling on the ones that fit best.
Choose safety first
Cluttering your blog with a myriad of features is not just an eyesore but can also pose more serious threats to your blog or online business. Fancy features such as music player plugins or gaming options might look cool but such addictions may severely drag down your blog's performance. Additionally, these features are usually created using code found by developers on the internet that could expose security weak spots on your blog, making it easy prey for online threats from hackers. This can be extremely problematic and can mean the end of the road for your blog in case it involves an online store and systems to collect customers’ data such as credit card information.
Clarity is key
The best blogs are ones that have a simple layout and clear information regarding instructions that readers need to follow to get where they want to go. For example, if your blog deals with elaborate hairdos for women, you can make easy sections in your blog that take readers to specific pages that contain posts about wedding hairdos, or office hairstyles or best styling products for a day out on the beach. The language should also be simple to read and follow. A cluttered page is unpleasing to the eye and may turn readers off when before they get to read anything on the blog.
Pay attention to colours and font
You wouldn't believe it but colours and font play a hidden role in attracting readers and retaining them on a blog. Colours are probably one of the first things that readers see when they open your blog. They catch attention and when applied correctly, they even have the ability to build deeper connections with readers and customers. Online marketing is heavily dependent on visual appearance and colours play a huge role in s creating perceptions and retaining attention.
Colours are also important in terms of creating brand recognition. If you have a logo, try choosing theme colours that match the logo. You could also do additional research into colour therapy and choose a palette that better represents the tone and mood of your blog as well as your topic. Blog's targeted specifically at women, for instance, tend to stick to shades of pink, purple and fuschia whereas blogs targeting a wider audience such as an information website would stick more neutral colours or perhaps bold logo colours. If you choose to stick to neutral shades for your blog, don't be afraid to experiment with hits and pops of bright colours here and there.
However, the use of colour should not hamper the blog's readability. Don't use too wide a palette meaning don't use too many colours as that may irritate the eye and also confuse readers and draw focus away from your content.
Fonts are yet another important factor that affects the visual appearance and appeal of your blog. Always choose fonts that offer maximum readability, are easy on the eyes, sophisticated and popular. Don't choose fonts or fonts colours that are harder to read. The entire purpose of a blog is to engage internet users and convert them to prospective regular readers of your blog. Even if your blog is about selling products, it must contain relevant information regarding products and prices.
Arial is one of the most commonly used fonts when it comes to both online and print media. Other fonts like Helvetica, Times New Roman, Verdana, Courier are also widely used. Fonts such as Josefin Slab, Open Sans, Lato, Arvo, Vollkorn and others. Do some research and find out what the popular fonts in your area are.
We use Geomanist font for BloggingMindset, it is a premium font, you can buy it's web license here.
One of the best and popular theme we recommend.
You don't need to stress on finding a perfect theme because we have chosen one for you, it is called Astra.
Astra is a fast, fully customizable & beautiful WordPress theme suitable for blog, personal portfolio, business website and WooCommerce storefront. It is very lightweight (less than 50KB on frontend) and offers unparalleled speed. Built with SEO in mind, Astra comes with Schema.org code integrated and is Native AMP ready so search engines will love your site.
Starting a Blog #7 - Update Plugins for SEO
Plugins are essentially pieces of software that perform a group of specific functions. These can be added to a blog to give it additional functionality and features. The right plugins help your blog run smoothly and allow you to customize it according to your needs. Plugins are usually written in PHP programming language and can seamlessly integrate with WordPress. In fact, it is the ability of WordPress to allow bloggers to extensively customize their blog's using plugins that makes it the most popular CMS. However, with over 56,000 plugins that WordPress itself offers along with the numerous plugins that are available online for download, picking the right plugin or combination of plugins can be tricky.
Here are some things that you need to ensure when choosing the right plugin.
What do you want from the plugin?
The first thing you need to do while choosing plugins is figuring out what it is exactly what you need your plug in to do. You may have seen some interesting and useful features on other websites or you may have specific ideas about features that you think will improve your content can be consumed. Plugins are essentially meant to improve your blog’s performance and allow users to easily navigate through the site. A fun way to figure out which plugins you need is to write down all the features you want for your blog and all the needs you want to fulfill before checking the corresponding plugins.
Is it fast and light?
Is it secure?
While choosing a plugin, be sure to check its security features. A poorly coded plugin can cause serious lapses in a site's security. In fact, almost 22 percent of hackings on WordPress take place due to faulty plugin on a carelessly chosen plugin. Be sure to pick a plugin that is frequently updated as these come with more secure coding that is harder to infiltrate. Always choose the latest or updated version of the plugin on your WordPress account. Checking the changelog of a plugin that is frequently updated can help you see if previous security concerns have been successfully addressed in the update.
Free vs Premium
While a number of free plugins are easily available on the internet and can even provide you with relevant services, experts usually recommend choosing Premium plugins because they are more reliable and more integrated to keep up with updates on WordPress.
This does not mean that free plugins don't work. In fact, some free plugins can give you exactly what you need without causing a dent in your pocket and are great for bloggers who are just starting out and have not yet started making money from the blog. Most free plugins also come with regular updates.
However, if you want high power performance from your plugins and your blog is one that experiences medium to high traffic, premium plugins such as the ones provided by WP Rocket should be considered. WP Rocket provides clients with complete caching plugins that can help the website improve is SEO Optimization.
Unlike free plugins, premium plugins offer full-time support through a dedicated staff and developer team that can tend to all your questions, queries and problems. In the case of free plugins, you can only look for assistance and support on the plugin support forum on WordPress.
Read and compare reviews
A good way to find the best plugins when learning how to start a blog in 2020 is by searching for reviews and testimonials that can attest to the reputation of the plugin developer. WP Rocket, for instance, provides a host of testimonials for each of its features and services on its detailed website. Positive reviews about other products by the developer can also help form your opinion when it comes to picking plugins. Remember, the stronger the reputation of the developer, the more security and responsiveness you can expect from the plugin.
Make sure the plugins you choose are developer-friendly and use clean, commented coding. A developer-friendly plugin would have plenty of hooks for developers to make easy yet advanced customizations.
Once you have chosen the right plugins, you need to ensure that your blog is search engine optimized (SEO). This means that your blog is easily rankable on search engines. While blog posts need to contain the relevant keywords for SEO, the blog itself can be padded with plugins and page caching that can help with SEO.
SEOPress is an SEO plugin for WordPress provider that guarantees to boost a website’s traffic through its very specific services. It is a one-stop-shop for all plugin needs that a website can have including breadcrumbs, schemas, redirections, sitemaps and broken link checkers among others. It ensures every page of the website has unique metadata and can be easily searchable. You can read our SEOpress vs Rank Math comparison here.
WP Rocket provides extensive page caching services that improve SEO and increase conversions. It also provides cachet pre-loading through its crawler which simulates a visit to preload the cache. This also helps in superior indexing on search engines.
The best feature of WordPress is that it is open source and thus can be endlessly customized with additional features and plugins. When it comes to plugins and customization, the sky is the limit. WordPress also offers extensive plugins that offer services like email management that can further enhance the quality of your blog and help you retain a better relationship with your customers.
Here are some of the top plugins that we recommend installing right away.
|SEOPress Pro||One of the best SEO plugins for WordPress.||Click here||Paid||SEO|
|Site Kit by Google||one-stop solution for WordPress users to use everything Google Analytics has to offer to make them successful on the web.||Click here||Free||Analytics|
|Social Snap||Social Sharing Buttons for WordPress.||Click here||Paid||SEO|
|Ninja Tables Pro||Easiest & Fastest Responsive Table Plugin on WordPress.||Click here||Paid||Tool|
|Fluent Forms Pro||Contact Form By is the advanced Contact form plugin with drag and drop, multi column supported form builder plugin||Click here||Paid||Tool|
|Code Snippets||An easy, clean and simple way to run code snippets on your site. No need to edit to your theme's functions.php file again!||Click here||Free||Tool|
|LuckyWP Table of Contents||Creates a table of contents for your posts/pages. Works automatically or manually.||Click here||Free||SEO|
|Pretty Links||Shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from your WordPress website!||Click here||Free||Tool|
|Schema Pro||Integrate Schema.org JSON-LD code in your website and improve SEO.||Paid||SEO|
|Simple History||Plugin that logs various things that occur in WordPress and then presents those events in a very nice GUI.||Click here||Free||Tool|
|WP Rocket||The best WordPress performance plugin.||Paid||Performance|
Starting a Blog #8 - Populate your blog
After setting up the blog, now comes the best part - creating content.
While everything you have learned so far about how to start a blog in 2020 is important aspects of creating your blog from scratch, the most important factor that would determine the success of your blog is content. If your content is not impressive or appealing to readers, no amount of design enhancements, customizations, and SEO tricks can help your blog succeed. These tools can, of course, help you index your content but it is the quality of the content that will decide if people want to read it or not.
Here are some tips for beginners to understand how to create the best content for blogs.
Understand the topic
There is nothing more irritating and off-putting than a half-baked blog. Since blogs are niche-based, it becomes important to do extensive research about the topic you have chosen for your blog before you start learning how to start a blog in 2020. Expert and in-depth knowledge of the topic can help you write posts that are intelligent, informative and accurate.
Spend some time and make notes about possible angles you can take. It helps if you have chosen a topic that isn't too broad or too specific as it allows you some keg room as a writer to create content around a variety of related pegs in the same area. Speak to experts and feature their voices to lend your work credibility. Create a network of backlinking peers in your blog's category that you can cite and in return be cited for higher credibility and visibility.
Decide the purpose of your blog
Is your blog a daily journal? Is it meant to educate or inform certain sections of people? Is it aimed at spreading awareness about actionable things like climate change? Do you want your blog to just entertain audiences? The answers to these questions will define the kind of content strategy you need. A blog about news events would need to be more frequently updated with recent posts. Similarly, blogs related to raising awareness would have to be written in a manner that provokes action from readers. Fashion blogs need to be regularly updated with the latest fashion trends, though posts need not be as frequent.
The type and purpose of your blog will eventually decide if your blog can be written by just one person or requires a larger number of authors to produce content as a coordinated team. While one person can easily maintain a light-traffic blog or personal journal, more extensive blogs often require more than one pair of hands. A multi-author team can ensure your blog is regularly updated with fresh content. It also allows your blog to be rich in terms of depth and perspective as it includes more than one mind.
Choose a content strategy
Having a pre-designed content strategy can be a great asset as it takes away a lot of the daily headaches that bloggers otherwise face in creating content. These are even more important in the case of multi-author blogs. Having a fixed strategy makes sure everyone is on the same page and delivering timely content. Having a fixed strategy also helps bloggers set accountability as well as check if the goals they are setting are achieved within the given frame of time.
In our quest to understand how to start a blog in 2020, we have previously discussed the importance of using the right keywords to help your blog rank better on search engines. This is an important part because no matter how great or quality content you are putting out on your blog, no one will read it if it does not get indexed on Google or show up in people's search results. Keyword research requires detailed analysis and it can be time-consuming.
You can nevertheless rely on a variety of tools like SEMrush or Long Tail Pro to help you search keywords and create a set that is most relevant to your blog. Once you have found the keywords, use them liberally throughout your posts and links as well as at the back-end of your CMS while uploading them. You can read our detailed blog on how to do keyword research in 2020.
Use simple and immersive language
While writing, be careful of the language you are using. Too academics or stoic language and tone may turn off readers, too lax writing may make them not take your blog seriously. Strike the right balance between clean prose and professional tone. However, the target audience is of peak importance when it comes to choosing the language, tone, and style.
If your blog is about finance and targeted at business persons, its language will be very different from one that is about make-up and targeted at teenage girls or boys. Research and read other related blogs to find out the accurate tone you need to follow to make your content ring true. Make sure you use impeccable grammar and run multiple spell checks to maintain error-free posts.
Starting a Blog #9 - Building an email list
Now that your blog is set up and ready to run, you need an audience base. While the traditional way was to just fill your blog with Relevant posts and content and hope for Google to pick it up via SEO, there are other ways to grow audiences and bring new readers to your blog. Building an email list is thus an important last step to starting a blog in 2020.
What does an email list do?
An email list is a list of Netizens who have previously come to your blog and subscribed to your emails. An email list is useful because it allows bloggers, website owners and businesses to constantly stay in touch with their readers and customers and notify them about new posts and products. When it comes to a blog, having an email list ensures your readers never miss any of your posts, and thus, is an important conclusive step when learning how to start a blog in 2020.
Below opt-in form is an example of building an email list, oh and if you haven't subscribed already, please do 😀
There are many organizations such as AWeber and ConvertKit that provide a wide range of mailing list options. An industry veteran, AWeber had over 10,000 clients and us well respected in the industry. It provides extensive features like autoresponse, split-testing, auto imports of contacts and more. It also provides the option of basic marketing automation functionality.
ConvertKit, on the other hand, is a new kid on the block and has already amassed a great reputation. Apart from all the features that AWeber offers, ConvertKit allows bloggers and developers to embed forms on their websites and blogs. Since it is new and comes from experienced developers, ConvertKit is technologically updated to meet all your blog's changing needs.
It comes updated with auto migration and is powered by InfusionSoft which makes it the desired email management service provider around. You can read our detailed Convertkit vs AWeber email marketing comparison here.
Starting a Blog #10 - Monetizing your blog
Now that you have learned how to start a blog in 2020, your blog is ready for use and you also have your mailing list ready, it's time for the best part - making money from the blog. All the steps you followed to get your blog set up and read by viewers means nothing if you fail to create an income out of your blog which will also, in turn, help you keep your blog afloat.
Once you learn how to start a blog in 2020 you will realize how easy it is to make money from the blog. All you need to do is follow some simple steps and voila, you'll be rolling in your not-so-very hard-earned bundles of cash.
How to make money with a blog?
Although setting up and making a blog successful has multiple aspects and time-consuming, bloggers have many options or methods when it comes to making money with their blog.
- CPM or CPC Ads - The best way to monetize your blog is by liberally using CPC and/or CPM ads. Cost per Click or Pay per Click ads are usually banner ads that are placed on your blog's sidebar or between your content. It allows you to earn money each time someone clicks on the ad. Cost per 1000 impressions or CPM ads are more complex. You can earn a fixed amount of money from CPM ads based on the number of views or ad gets and not clicks. A useful tool to use in order to place such ads on your blog is to get Google AdSense. The latter allows you to place banners in your blog and let Google populate it with relevant ads without you having to deal directly with an advertiser.
- Private Ads - Another one way to monetize your blog is through private advertisements. This usually works with brands that already have a certain amount of traffic. With such blogs, bloggers need not go looking for advertiser networks. Instead, advertisers will come to your blog to sell your ads. Selling private ads could be in the form of buttons, banners, and links.
- Sponsored Posts - Yet another way to make money from the blog to write sponsored posts. These posts are paid for by advertisers and may involve writing about the advertising company or their products. There are various creative ways to write sponsored posts in the form of fictionalized stories or in-depth human interest features so that they don't look like ads.
- “Brought to you by” - Write posts that come with title postscripts like "brought to you by" that can contain the name of the brand. These are all ad spaces that the advertiser will pay you for.
- Email Ads - You can also sell ad space from advertisers in the emails sent to contacts on your mailing list.
- Affiliate Marketing - Affiliate marketing is a slightly more complex way to monetize your blog. How does it work? You earn a commission from an advertiser for each sale of the product that comes from your blog. For this, the advertiser provides you with a link or affiliate code that can be used to track the number of sales taking place from your blog. This affiliate link is posted on your blog that allows customers to go to the advertiser's site and browse/buy products.
- eCommerce or Direct Sale - Selling digital products on your blog can also help you earn an extra income. These include apps, plugins, eBooks, themes, online courses or workshops, videos, images and music that others can use in their own content. You can also create digital products based on your users’ and readers’ needs. Don't make the mistake of “assuming” what your readers need or want. It always makes more sense to ask your readers and consult with them about their needs before putting a product out on your blog.
How to Start a Blog in 2020? - Summing Up
Right from picking a topic to setting up the name of your domain, selecting the right hosting server to create the right look, feel and content, setting up a blog may feel like hard work. But in reality, a little guidance is all that you need to start a great blog that takes in millions of readers and in turn thousands of dollars in income. Don't let naysayers bring you down with discouraging advice like "it takes years to make money from a blog". More and more people are turning to digital tools to look up information.
While starting a blog can be a tedious process, this blog has taken you through a detailed, step-by-step journey at the end of which you know all about how to start a blog in 2020.
|Theme||Astra WordPress||Click here|
|SEO Research||Long Tail Pro||Click here|
|Email Marketing||AWeber||Click here|
|Image Optimization||Shortpixel||Click here|
Today, thanks to easy access to the Internet and technology, the world wide web is teeming with opportunities to sell your ideas and products to a curious and increasingly interested audience. And blogs are right on top when it comes to being influencers.
When you follow the right instructions about how to start a blog in 2020, you can get your blog up and running in just a matter of hours and start making money from it right away. So start your own blog now. Happy blogging!