Many people want to start a blog, but knowing where to start often deters people from trying. The most common question people have is “what do I need to start a blog.” While the answer varies a little based on your reason for blogging, there are some basics that apply to everyone.
Choosing What To Blog About
This is the most important thing to consider before starting your own blog. What do you actually want to blog about? A few things to consider before choosing a topic include:
- How much do you know about the topic
- Is anyone else interested in it
- How much could you write about it
- Is it easy to monetize (if that’s your goal)
- How much competition exists
You should choose a topic that you’re passionate about or already know about. This makes it easier to brainstorm topics and write with an authoritative tone. The more you like your topic, the easier it is to connect with your audience.
What Are Your Blogging Plans
The next step is to think about why you want to blog. Do you want to earn extra income or a full-time income? Is it just for fun? Are you trying to drive traffic to a website? If you’re planning to monetize your blog, it’s important to remember that it can take months to start earning any income and over a year to earn more than pocket change.
For details on monetizing your blog, see ProBlogger’s money making mindmap and resource list. While some bloggers earn thousands per month, most earn very little unless they treat it like a full-time job.
Related Read: Start an Online Business in Retirement
Picking A Platform and Host
At the top of your “what do I need to start a blog” list should be picking a platform and host. Your platform is the tool you’ll use for blogging, such as WordPress, while your host stores your files and presents your blog to the world.
- Ease of use
- Learning curve
- Host compatibility
- Integration with other services
Next, you’ll need a host to host your blog. A quick Google search for “web host” will bring up millions of results. While you can start for free with sites, such as WordPress.com, you may find that free options drastically limit how much you can customize your site and how much traffic you can receive. If you choose WordPress for your platform, consider WP Engine for affordable and reliable hosting. When comparing hosts, consider the following:
- Cost (cheaper isn’t always best)
- Available features
- Ease of use
- Reliability and uptime
Choosing Your Domain Name
It might be tempting to save money and go with a sub-domain (yoursite.freehost.com) from a free host, but Google prefers sites with their own domain (yoursite.com). The average cost for a domain name is approximately $10 per year, so it’s not a big investment to boost your Google rank.
Some web hosts include a free domain name, but you can register your domain elsewhere and tie it back to your blog. VeriSign provides a list of accredited registrars to choose from.
Choosing the actual domain name is the hardest part. While .com names are preferred, it’s not a requirement. Ideally, you want a name that describes your site or matches your business name (if you’re starting an online business). For best results, follow the advice of GoDaddy and Moz for picking the right domain name for your needs.
Considering Blog Security
Security isn’t usually on the list of “what do I need to start a blog,” especially for personal blogs. However, malicious ads, vulnerabilities in your host and platform, and bad passwords (mainly for membership based blogs) are just a few potential security problems.
Choosing a host that puts security first is your first step. The next is to consider security plugins. This is one of the reasons WordPress is so popular. There are numerous security plugins to choose from that help you prevent security issues and keep your site safer for visitors. The InfoSec Institute lists some of the top security plugins for WordPress along with additional security tips.
Related Read: 4 Must-Know Cybersecurity Tips
Researching For Blog Performance
Keeping track of your blog’s performance, researching keywords, optimizing your blog, and building links are just some of the things you’ll need to do if you want your blog to succeed. Often times, you’re probably thinking of your blog going viral before you even wonder about what you need to start a blog.
Google Analytics is a great start and it’s highly recommended for any blogger, especially since it’s a powerful free tool. However, having a tool that is designed specifically to help you rank higher in search results is useful too. Consider SEOprofiler as an all-in-one solution to optimize your blog’s performance. The tool also integrates well with Google Analytics.
Creating A Blogging Strategy
Before you ever start a blog, you need to create a blogging strategy. A few things to include in this strategy are:
- Blogging frequency
- Length of posts
- Post promotion
- Guest blogging (good for promotion)
- Types of posts (listicle, tutorial, guides, informative, etc.)
Obviously, the more often you blog, the better chance you have at increasing your traffic. However, high quality, longer posts are better than numerous low quality posts. As marketing expert Neil Patel shows in his own study, simply publishing two quality posts versus one was enough to boost traffic. The key is to post on a regular schedule so readers know when to come back.
Finding New Topics
The final thing you should have on your “what do I need to start a blog” list is a guide for finding new topics. While you might have dozens of ideas right now, you’ll quickly find yourself struggling to come up with enough topics to maintain your blog.
A few ways to generate ideas include:
- Niche forums
- Q&A sites, such as Quora
- Competing blogs (never just copy their content)
- Topic generators (good when you have a keyword in mind)
- Trending news and social media
Now, when you’re ready to start your blog, you’ll be more than prepared and already have everything in place to start creating great content your readers will love.
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