You’ve got something to say.
Whether it’s about what your business is doing, what you’re planning to do or simply review some of the things you’ve been through/used. There’s something you want to share with people that you feel would benefit them.
But… Making a blog is expensive. So, you put it off.
Until now. Because this article is going to show you how to start a blog. A platform where you can share you what you need to say. And it’s not going to be for hundreds of dollars, like many other articles recommend.
You don’t need a fancy theme. Or premium plugins. Or an expensive web developer.
What do you need?
Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to outline here. Read on, learn how to start a blog with $10 in your pocket and something to say.
1. Clarify Your Message
Now this is easily the longest section in this post, but it’s because it is without a doubt the most important factor of your blog’s success.
Knowing your message is key to defining your blog’s purpose and audience. It’s what enables you to reach the people with the problems you want to solve. And incorrectly identifying who needs to hear your message is a guaranteed way to ensure no traction on your blog.
A Common Mistake
This tends to lead to the mistake of diving into blogging and telling potential readers about what they had for breakfast, how their trip to the zoo was and all about their new homemade pasta. While none of these topics alone are ‘bad,’ they appeal to very different audiences.
And it’s hard to make a blog successful without a core identity, message and target audience.
So, unless you’re famous or extremely interesting, you probably want to avoid going down the updates-of-my-life style of blogging. It’s too broad. It’s not valuable enough to share in most cases. And honestly, it’s pretty boring a lot of the time too.
How to Figure out What You Have to Say
Align the topic of your blog around what you’re interested in and where it intersects with helping people. Without passion driving your blog, you’ll quickly be disinterested in what you’re producing and won’t stick at it. Without helping people, they’ll have no reason to be interested.
While your post ideas can come in a variety of different topics – they should all align around this one ‘broader’ topic, to enable you to pick out a target audience that you can help.
An idea is even better if it can fill a hole that’s not currently addressed in the market. While this is not always going to be a possibility – if you can find it, in a way that shows a clear need for it – you could very likely have great success with writing on said topics.
With that said, here’s an exercise to get you from “something to say” to “I know what I want to start blogging about”:
1. Understand what it is you’re passionate about in your message.
Make this as specific as possible. “I want to help people live better lives” is not a passion. It’s a goal. “I want to teach people how to start their own business to improve their lives” is far more specific and identifies a passion in the business/entrepreneur niche.
2. Identify the specifics of how you can help people with your message.
Can you show people how to start a business?
How to come up with a business idea?
How to manage their time to have time for their business?
There’s a lot of facets to starting a business, for our example. And narrowing down which areas you can and can’t help with allows you to specify your niche.
3. Learn who the influencers in your space are.
Knowing who has already captivated your audience provides you with numerous benefits when it comes to establishing your own efforts in the niche. It shows people are interested, and you can learn from the kind of content your influencers are already putting out.
The best way to go about finding your influencers is simply searching for the niche that you’ve identified as your space. For example, if your niche is “indoor gardening” – googling it would immediately identify Planet Natural and Grow a Good Life as influencers in your space.
You would disregard any store or news article results, as while they rank highly – they’re not a blog. And rarely are they dedicated solely to your ‘niche.’ So, their audience isn’t often who you’re looking for.
However, sometimes you won’t be able to find your influencers. If you can’t find any of your influencers, there’s three potential reasons why:
- You’ve incorrectly identified your niche. This is actually pretty likely. To solve this, search some of the problems you want to help address and see how the top results are categorising themselves. This is more than likely your niche.
- You’re the first in your space. It happens, but it’s very rare. Especially now. Unless you’re helping solve incredibly unique issues, like keeping your pet white lion cub’s fur clean, you’re probably just looking in the wrong place.
- Your space has no interest, so everyone else abandoned it. Again, it’s rare but it does happen. When you’re tackling things too specifically, it can alienate a lot of audiences. So remember, no competition doesn’t necessarily mean you’re winning.
4. Replicate their success
So, this might sound like you’re being told to copy them. But you’re not.
The influencers in your space are established. They’ve found something that works for the kind of audience you’re trying to attract. Replicating aspects of what they do, but with your own personal brand voice and topics, is a shortcut to making your own efforts successful too.
The most efficient way to do this is to plug your influencer into BuzzSumo and see what’s working for them. BuzzSumo even shows you what they’ve interpreted the pieces of content to be according to their style guide (e.g. How to or Link post).
However, as a disclaimer, this is not to say you should be a duplicate of what they do. Make everything you do in line with your brand (more on that soon), your message and your ideas. Just be inspired by those already doing well in your space.
Now, that’s a lot on clarifying the message of your blog.
Realistically though, this is the crucial step that determines a blog’s success. There’s a lot more that could be covered in this section too. We don’t want to scare you off though, so this is enough for now.
2. Develop Your Brand
With a clear message in mind, your audience should already be figured out.
You’ve already spent a significant amount of time determining who can benefit from what you have to say. Now just get in their head and figure out what would make you stand out to them.
For example, SmartBlogger is all about making a successful blog. The efficient way.
SmartBlogger’s first way to go about highlighting their brand is the URL. As is most blogs. SmartBlogger tells us that they’re going to be smart about blogging, so if you want to be a smart blogger, you’d be immediately attracted to such a blog.
SmartBlogger then appeals to that brand by making many “cheat sheets,” “quick tips” and “little hacks” that could be associated with being a smart blogger.
Key Takeaway: When it comes to successfully blogging, your brand is the way people read into your blog as opposed to how it looks. The URL, content choices and name are all aspects of this, but bringing it together in a memorable and appealable way is what cements it.
What You Need To Do
- Find a (domain) name that appeals to your audience. It should, succinctly, summarise what your blog is about.
- Choose a colour scheme.
- Get a decent logo. Most blogs just go with the letters associated with their blog’s name. That’s not a bad way to start and can be plenty iconic (McDonalds, anyone?).
- Get a feel for the content you’re going to produce, and how it relates to your brand.
- Use that colour scheme, logo and ‘voice’ of content wherever you produce something online, related to the blog.
3. Choose Where to Host Your Blog
Here comes the ‘hard’ part. Where do you set up your blog?
You could go to WordPress.com right now and get a blog for free. It’d cost you literally nothing and you could still customise it in several memorable ways for an appealing blog.
… But, we don’t recommend that route. In fact, nobody that cares about bloggers recommends that route. For numerous reasons, but to quickly go over a few key ones:
- Digital Sharecropping is always going to be a risk. You don’t want to build your platform on a platform that could up and disappear or claim ownership over your content.
- You don’t get full access to WordPress’ powerful plugins. And when you see the results some plugins can get, you’ll most certainly want them.
- You’ll still need to get a host in future, if your blog proves popular. Free blogs + lots of traffic = poor performance for all.
So, instead of that route – lets get into web hosts instead.
Before you panic, it’s not expensive. Nor is it complicated. Especially not when you’re first starting out. Despite what some people tend to think.
You’re simply purchasing a space of your ‘own’ on the internet, from reliable companies.
Two of the current top affordable web hosts, for bloggers, would be InMotion Hosting and Bluehost. Both offer great deals on first starting up. Plus they have proven track records on offering great WordPress experiences to their users.
InMotion Hosting’s current WordPress Packages.
We could sit and compare the two, but realistically it would be pretty pointless. They both offer the same price ($2.95/month start). They both give you a free domain with your purchase. And they both offer WordPress specific hosting.
Bluehost’s current $2.95 hosting package.
It’s cheap, quality and you get your domain paid for in the cost. These are the only things you really need to care about when it comes to starting out. So, we’d recommend choosing either of the two and getting set up there.
4. Set Up Your Hosting Account
This step is about as intimidating as creating an email account.
Choose your host. Select the package that’s relevant to you, which is likely the $2.95 package for right now. Then fill out the details, which are all self-explanatory.
It’s as simple as that. The technical part is all then handled by your web host.
You may need to install WordPress, if you’ve used Bluehost. However, it really is as simple as hitting a single button on the control panel – which you’ll go straight to once you log in.
Once you’ve got your WordPress package all set up, the next part is equally as simple. You’ll navigate to <yourdomain>.com/wp-admin. And you’ll be faced with the below login. These details would’ve been chosen during your set-up process.
Once you’re logged in, the WordPress dashboard does a great job of explaining things and walking you through what you need to know. Navigate on over to the General settings, fill out the details if they’re incorrect, and that’s about all you need to do!
The rest of the process is all about choices you want to make. If you want to change your theme, your plugins, etc. then there’s plenty of resources available. Two good starting points are WPBeginner and WordPress Support.
5. Start Creating Content
Now it’s time to put everything together. It’s time to start creating content.
In the WordPress dashboard, you just need to navigate to “Posts.” Once there, creating a new post is as simple as hitting “Add New.”
Then, all that’s needed is your creative genius. So, we hope you’re ready for that.
We’ve already gone over how to, and how important, clarifying the purpose of your blog is. However, those same principles need to be applied to your content creation too.
So, here’s a quick rundown of what you should keep in mind for every post:
- Every post should be created with a specific problem you solve in mind.
- Headlines are an art form in themselves, work hard on making yours great!
- Media, like images, break up the monotony. Make good use of them.
- Formatting is important. Walls of text are not inviting nor readable.
- Make it YOURS. Your voice. Your ideas. Your brand. It’s pointless otherwise.
- How to Write a Blog Post – The Ultimate Guide
- How To Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, And Search Results
- 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power
Now, it’s time for you to start your blog. And it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg to do so.
Make it about your message. Solve the problems of your potential audience. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to your influencers, just make sure you’re offering value in return.
See you out there in the blogosphere, we hope!