I get a lot of people asking me “how did you start blogging?” and for specific advice on the technical side of things. I'm not so much a technically minded person when it comes to computer stuff, but having spent five years running this site, and working with managing other people's blogs, I think I've gained a bit of knowledge that's at least slightly useful! With enhancements and communications and technology, running a business as a digital nomad has never been easier. So, here's my step by step beginner's guide on how to start a blog if you want to do it as more than a hobby. Running your blog as a business is a great way to live the life of a digital nomad.
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1. Find a Niche
Deciding what your blog is going to be about is probably the most important aspect to starting a blog. Sure, you can just decide to start a blog and then write about whatever you happen to be thinking or interested in at the time, which may certainly change with time, but if you want to reach others and make any kind of name for yourself in the blogging world, having a niche is essential.
I wrote more extensively about how to find a niche here, but basically ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you? What past experiences have you had that inform who you are? Have you made any life decisions that could be considered unconventional?
- What are you interested in? What's your passion, hobby or main focus in life?
- What kind of content isn't out there yet that you want to read?
In answering these questions, what your blog is going be about will start to become clear if it isn't already.
2. Choose and purchase a domain
Keeping your chosen niche in mind, start brainstorming names for your blog. Ask friends for their suggestions, keep a list and give yourself some time to mull them over. The best names should be easy to spell, memorable, invoke your niche clearly and probably no more than three words long. Using your own name can also be a fine idea if you want to base your brand around your own identity.
Once you've got a few good ideas for your blog's name, check whether they already exist and if they're available as domains. Do that here. Going for a .com domain is always the best idea, unless you're running a business local to a particular location, then a country-specific top-level domain will make more sense.
3. Buy reliable hosting
I've heard some horror stories from some bloggers about hosting, as if something goes wrong with your host, and your site goes down, it can seriously affect your business. Basically the data that makes up your site has to exist on a physical hard drive somewhere out in the world, so paying for a reliable host is absolutely worth it. I can highly recommend HostGator for their reliable hosting and helpful support.
4. Download WordPress
WordPress is probably the most powerful and user-friendly content management system (CMS) for bloggers and is compatible with tons of free and paid for themes. At first, I would suggest choosing a free theme directly in WordPress; you can always upgrade to a paid one later. WordPress is super easy to use, and there's loads of information out there on how to make the most of it.
5. Set up your social media profiles
Social media is still a huge part of blogging, and if you want to be able to spread your message, having a presence on various platforms is going to be extremely valuable. Different platforms lend themselves to different types of content: obviously Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for visual media (if you're a makeup artist, recipe blogger or graphic designer, for example), while Twitter is an excellent place to share ideas. Facebook is a bit more of a mixed bag, and arguably the hardest social media platform to break through with, but still useful on a personal basis. You may also wish to consider setting up profiles on YouTube, Reddit, Flickr, Google+ and Myspace depending on the kind of content you're going to promote.
6. Start a mailing list
Whether it's worth doing this step will depend on the purpose of your blog, but some people will encourage you to set up a mailing list right from the start even if you don't have a product to sell, for example. The advantage of having a mailing list for your blog is that it's the best way to share news, deals or offers with your most dedicated readers, and later can potentially be used as a platform for advertising or selling a physical or digital product should you develop one in the future.
Personally, I recommend using MailChimp as it's free for up to 2,000 subscribers, allows for a lot of flexibility and is very easy to use. Just be careful to make sure that your signup process and any newsletters you send out are GDPR compliant!
7. Connect with other bloggers
Finally, if you want what you're writing about or creating with your blog to reach your desired audience, having connections with other bloggers in the same or related niches is indeed very useful. Use Facebook groups to find others writing about similar topics or in your area, or to meet up with as you travel. Many such groups require you to show that you already have a blog in order to be accepted, which is why I put this step at the end.
Having these connections will help you spread your content with new readers and grow your audience. Collaborating with other bloggers can be a great way to do this, such as conducting interviews, hosting collaborative posts, writing guest posts and sharing other blogger's content on social media. I've found that the best way to do this is to invest time in creating personal relationships with bloggers, meeting up in person if possible, or connecting on a one-to-one level online, rather than shooting out mass emails or DMs to as many bloggers as you can. Aim to connect with those that inspire you personally and whose style and content you jive with, and you'll probably make some new friends in the process!
Now, I say finally, but really this is just the beginning of your blogging journey! Once you've gone through all these steps, you still need to start creating, sharing, editing and continually updating content, which is in fact the main (and hard) work of blogging!
Good luck, and happy blogging!