You’re at the point every blogger (including me) was at one time so I’ll give you a few words of encouragement before I give you these tips for new bloggers!
Nobody is born with all the knowledge and skills they need to start a blog. At some point, all the successful bloggers you’ve read about were in the same place as you are now.
The inspirational back stories of those people who have “made it” began when those people made a choice and became new bloggers just like you.
So if you’re just starting out, there is hope for you!
As with starting anything new though, it can seem like there’s a very long road ahead… and to be fair there is! I’ll use a quote (because bloggers love quotes 😉 ) to help you on your way though:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepLaozi
… and each step you take makes your destination closer! So let’s start walking together!
Here are my new blogger tips.
How Do I Start a Blog?
I cover this pretty extensively in another post about how to start a blog, which you should read. This post explains the 16 steps that I took to create SideGains.
It’s quite a long post as it contains detailed tips for new bloggers. As it will take you a while to go through I’ll just summarize it here with bullet points.
As I say though, it’s worth taking some time out to read How to Start a Blog in its entirety when you get a chance.
- Establish a Niche for Your Blog.
- Choose a Domain Name.
- Register a Domain Name.
- Select a Host.
- Configure Your Domain Name.
- Install WordPress.
- Add a WordPress Theme.
- Install WordPress Plugins.
- Implement Google Analytics.
- Set Up Google Search Console.
- Create Social Media Accounts.
- Create Information Pages.
- Write Blog Posts.
- Research Keywords.
- Promote Your Blog.
- Monetize Your Blog.
I mentioned before that these are precisely the steps I took to start SideGains. Some of you will have taken some of these already so they might not all be relevant to you. However, each step is explained clearly and simply in my guide to starting a blog.
Of course some of the steps are more complicated than others, if you don’t consider yourself very technically minded. But I promise you, any new blogger is capable of doing any of the steps I show you.
Can I Start a Blog For Free?
Yes you can! There are many platforms that offer you not only a free blog but free hosting too.
I understand the reasons why you’d want to start a blog with zero costs, but there are benefits for paying for your own host, which you can find out more about here: Can You Start a Blog for Free?
Notwithstanding, if you’re starting out and you don’t want to risk your money, a free CMS hosting package might suit you. If you decide you want to get more from hosting, you can always migrate your site to a paid hosting solution at any time.
There are many free blog hosting services. However, to keep my tips for new bloggers post as short as possible, I’ll focus on three of the most popular ones.
So… you can start a free blog (i.e. the actual blogging tool and hosting) with any of the following websites:
WordPress is one of the most widely used Content Management Systems ( blogging tool) on the Earth with over 70 million users! It is the CMS that drives SideGains, but I use the WordPress software on a host I pay for.
However, WordPress.com offers free use of the software along with free hosting. You don’t get quite the same functionality and benefits as paid hosting, but it’s still a great option if you’re starting out and want to test the waters at no cost.
The WordPress free hosting package gives you 200MB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
Choosing the free hosting option with WordPress.com is a great way to get used to using the WordPress blog tool. It will prepare you for managing your own paid hosting of a WordPress site when you max out your storage and bandwidth.
Even if you use your own paid hosting, the WordPress CMS software to run your blog is still free.
My recommendation for any new blogger is to use WordPress.
You’ve probably seen adverts for Wix.com, so have likely heard the name. Like WordPress.com, Wix.com offers free use of its CMS and free hosting.
The Wix.com free hosting package gives you 500MB of cloud storage and 500MB bandwidth. When your blog outgrows the free specifications, you can then upgrade your package to a paid version.
I’ve never personally used the Wix toolset so can’t comment on how easy it is. However, I do know people that use Wix and they are far less technical than me so I know it’s a user friendly system.
Weebly also advertises extensively so again it’s likely you’ve heard the name. Like WordPress and Wix it’s a big player in the website biz.
The Weebly free site package provides 500MB storage and unlimited bandwidth, so potentially this gives you a permanent solution if you never want to pay for hosting.
I do have experience of using Weebly and while it’s fairly easy to use, I find that it does have some funny ways of handling things.
That said, I have helped two successful businesses that started out using Weebly and have remained with it as their companies have grown. It’s horses for courses I guess!
To sum up, free hosting is a great way to get your skin in the game, but if you’re serious about blogging I’d always recommend paid hosting.
What are the Most Important Tips for New Bloggers?
Don’t Believe the Hype
Selling the blogging dream is very easy because we are all very eager to buy into it.
I’m going to shatter a few illusions here and these are tips new bloggers might not want to hear.
Unless you are committed and put in the hours most people will fail to make money from their blogs (if that’s their aim).
Unfortunately for the majority of people like you and me, there is no shortcut to success or a get-rich-quick secret that guarantees it like some over-hyped bloggers suggest.
Of course some bloggers have become very successful and a few might have done so quite quickly. However, the vast majority of bloggers work long hours over long periods (years not months) to make their blogs work out they way they want them to.
Blogging takes a lot of time… in all senses.
Writing high quality blog posts (i.e. ones that get people coming back to your blog) can take an awfully long time to produce.
I’ve worked on some posts that have taken days to draft, edit, create images and finally publish! This post alone is nearly 3,700 words long and has taken a substantial amount of time to write!
Choose a Topic for Your New Blog that You are Passionate About
Speaking from experience, passion for your subject will get you through trying times. These times might be when you’re not getting much traffic for the effort you’re investing.
Believe me when I tell you that even if you’re passionate about a subject it can be hard to motivate yourself to maintain your effort when you’ve only had 10 visitors in a week.
Be Prepared to Wait Before Getting Traffic from Search Engines
As a new blogger it’s highly unlikely you’ll publish your first post and start to get 1,000 visitors every day… you might even struggle to get a handful of visitors to your blog in the first month.
You’ll have to invest at least six months and commit to making blog posts throughout this period before you get any love from Google. Even then you won’t start getting high traffic volumes unless you promote your blog extremely well.
Learn as much as you can from others… and not just the ones shouting about how much money they’re making.
Another useful tip for new bloggers is use the Internet to find out everything you can about blogging.
Read up on SEO, Social Media promotion, link building, content marketing, PPC advertising and… well, just about anything to do with how to grow your blog as an online business (if that’s your goal).
Following on from this…
Engage with Other Blogs
Get involved with other blogs and be sociable: like, follow and share their social media posts. Visit their blogs and contribute to discussions on their posts via comments.
This is a way to start promoting your own blog, increasing your reach and it can get you traffic.
Make Your Blog Look as Professional as Possible
No-one is going to offer you a job if you turn up for an interview looking like you slept in a bush with some stray dogs. The same goes for your blog.
You might have the best content for your particular niche, but if your blog looks unprofessional you just won’t be credible and people won’t bother to read what you have to say.
You don’t have to make it look like the Ferrari of blogs either. Keep your design simple and clean and it will present well. Take a look at Seth Godin’s blog for an example of professionalism and design simplicity.
Long Form Content Works Better than Short Form Content
Long form posts (I’m sorry to tell new bloggers this tip) in excess of 2,000 words is where you should aim as an average.
Now, I don’t mean to say that every post has to be this length, but you’ll have a better chance of getting search engine love with more in-depth and informative content. You’ll need lots of it too!
However, don’t waffle and make sure you write well-researched and high quality content that gives your visitors value (this is VERY important) .
Use Blog Analysis Tools
My next tip for new bloggers involves understanding how your blog is performing otherwise you’ll be working in the dark.
Analytics tools will help you to understand a whole bunch of things about your blog visitors, how they found you and what they do when they arrive.
If you use hosting with one of the free solutions I mentioned above, you’ll have access to tools that’ll show you limited information about your blog such as number of visits, pages visited and how engaged they are.
However, if you decide to use a paid hosting solution, set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts. These tools are both free and give you all sorts of useful information about how your blog is performing.
Google Search Console will give you feedback about how your blog is indexed in Google and present you with information about any problems.
It’ll also show you information about:
- Keywords people have used to find you in Google searches.
- The position your posts appear in Google search results for those keywords.
- How many times your pages have appeared in searches made.
Read my article about how to set up Google Search Console for your blog.
Google Analytics provides even more granular detail about how your visitors are engaging with your blog and shows you all the different ways (channels) people have found you. It’s a must-have tool that will become your best friend over time.
Both the Search Console and Analytics require a little bit of learning, but over time you’ll get used to them.
Set them both up from day one and they’ll give you vital information about how your blog is growing and help inform your strategy going forward.
Don’t Wait for the Right Time to Start Your New Blog
Perhaps one of the best tips I can give to new bloggers is the right time to start your blog is now. If you think about it too much, consider that it would be better to start next month or wait for the market to be right, you’ll never get started.
When you start a blog, you commit to it. You could spend a bunch of time planning and thinking about the best approach but you’ll just lose time and may never end up getting started.
Although I said earlier that the look and feel needs to be as professional-looking as possible, it doesn’t matter if your blog’s not perfect from the outset. What your site looks like on day one will be very different from how it looks on day 730.
Don’t wait to start a blog… as Nike says, just do it!
How Do I Stay Motivated to Write Blog Posts?
I won’t lie to you… it’s tough.
Starting a blog is a leap of faith. You’ll work hard in the first few months and see little reward for your efforts. Keep in mind that in all likelihood you will not see much traffic to your blog in the first 6 months.
That said, you should see some positive signs if you use the blog analysis tools I spoke of earlier.
It’s very difficult to continue writing long-form blog posts day after day over months to see that your blog visitor numbers are growing far slower than you’d like. Try to remember though that you’re building your blog for the future and not for tomorrow.
Join blogger forums and speak directly with others who’ve been in your position and who can offer you encouragement. You will also find more tips specifically designed to help new bloggers
What Tips Can You Give a New Blogger to Help Write Creatively?
Firstly, practice writing by blogging in your topic niche. Practice is the best thing you can do to improve your writing… I’m not kidding.
Your first blog posts might suck but you will get better over time with practice. Remember, you can always go back to earlier blog posts and edit them to make them better.
Think about your target readers and the problems or needs they might have. Try to imagine the issues they face and how they might want them resolved.
Perhaps creativity is not so much an issue as you’re not writing a book. You need to write in a conversational way as if you’re speaking to a friend: remember you’re trying to build a relationship with your readers so they come back to your blog.
Write about what you know and what you are passionate about. If you have neither of these over time it will show in what you write.
If you’re not at all interested in the subject you’re writing about, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain your efforts for very long. I speak from personal experience here.
Sit down and brain dump a list of as many for blog post titles as you can think of. Don’t think about how good or bad they might actually be or how difficult or easy they’ll be to write. It’s just a list.
Brain dumping blog post titles is a great way to develop more ideas. As you start to build your list you’ll find that other ideas or sub-ideas of the ones you’ve listed will form.
What is the Best Platform to Start a Blog?
I’ve touched on this above when talking about a free blog and free hosting combination. However, if you’re really serious about blogging, in my opinion, you should choose a paid hosting platform and install WordPress onto it.
Why do I advise a paid host? As I mentioned, free hosting has limitations:
- In general you won’t be able to use your own domain name
- Storage and bandwidth are generally limited
- There will likely be adverts placed on your blog that you haven’t put there yourself
- You’ll be restricted on uploading large files such as video or audio
- You may find it difficult to optimize your blog in the way you’d like.
Free hosting might be useful to cut your teeth, but it’s not the best way to go long-term. Most successful bloggers are not running their blogs on a free hosting platform.
WordPress is an incredibly powerful blogging tool that’ll provide everything that you’ll ever need in terms of functionality.
There are thousands of free themes available for you to install on your WordPress blog simply and quickly (themes handle the look, feel and layout of your site).
If you don’t like a particular them you can simply uninstall it and try another! You can install a WordPress theme with the click of a button… it’s that easy.
Additionally, you have the ability to modify any WordPress theme yourself. If you’re confident with PHP and HTML, you’ll be able to customize it in the exact way you want.
WordPress can be further extended easily via free “plugins” that do specific jobs. These jobs might be handling contact forms and optimizing your site for SEO. Installing WordPress plugins (and uninstalling them if you want to change them) is extremely simple.
In terms of choosing a host there are many options… too many to go through in this post!
For SideGains I use (and highly recommend) SiteGround: it’s very reasonably priced and you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Should I Use a Brandable Name that Reflects My Blog?
This depends upon what you want you plan to do. You have a few options for choosing a domain name.
- Brandable names
- Descriptive names
- Your own name
People love brands. Brand names suggest personality or character and can be memorable. However, they don’t necessarily mean anything to anyone until they the brand is established.
A descriptive name tells your what to expect before they visit your blog, unlike brandable names. However, they might not sound as exciting or be as memorable.
Registering your own name as a domain is good for promoting yourself or if you don’t want to blog about a specific niche it means you can be more flexible in what you post about.
When I choose a domain I try to use a combination of brandable and descriptive terms. Hopefully SideGains is an example of this.
If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some sites that can help you choose a domain name:
How Can I Make Money Starting a Blog?
There are numerous ways how to monetize your blog.
Perhaps one of the most simple ways is to start with Google Adsense. Adsense enables bloggers to receive payments for clicks on adverts that Google puts on their pages.
It’s simple to add the code to your blog that Adsense needs to deliver the ads and so it’s good for people starting out. However, you need a lot of traffic to earn good money from Adsense and some ad niches pay more than others.
Some people or businesses might be prepared to buy advertising space on your site. The price they’ll pay will be governed by how popular your blog is and how many visitors you receive on a monthly basis.
Another way to monetize your blog is to sign up to affiliate program. Affiliate programs give you a commission for any visitors you send to their merchants who end up buying something. Check out this list of affiliate programs you can sign up to.
You still need to be getting a lot of traffic to your blog, and conversion rates will be lower than click rates for Adsense. Having said this, affiliate commissions tend to be much higher than Adsense clicks, especially if the affiliate products purchased are high value items.
Your Own Products & Services
Another way to earn money is to create your own products, such as tutorials and eBooks. Additionally, you might sell access to exclusive areas of your site.
These are perhaps the most lucrative ways to monetize your blog since you’ll get to keep all the profits. For most bloggers though this will not be the first thing to target.
Is it Easy to Start a Blog and Earn Money?
In a word, no. I’m sorry to say it but these are honest tips for new bloggers and I don’t want to mislead you.
I’m sorry to be blunt but your ability to earn money from a new blog is directly related to how much traffic you get.
As I’ve already discussed, you simply cannot expect to see much traffic hitting your blog without many months of adding high quality, long form blog posts on a consistent basis.
The gurus who claim it’s easy are either very lucky or are being economical with the truth.
Starting a blog to make money is like starting any business. In order to give yourself a chance to make your blog financially successful, you’ll need to look at this formula:
Success = Talent x Timing x Hard Work
You can earn an income from blogging that’s for sure… but be realistic and set your expectations accordingly or you’ll be disappointed early on and lose motivation.
If you lose motivation and can’t find it again you’ll just give up. If you give up you definitely won’t earn money from your blog.
Is it too Late to Start a Profitable Blog?
It’s never too late!
Of course there are millions of bloggers all over the world writing about every imaginable niche.
However, there are billions of people on Earth that are looking for content so the market is huge…. even in very narrow niches.
Be aware of the competing voices in your niche for sure, but don’t be frightened to add yours.
Commit to writing the best blog posts you can, be consistent and be tenacious.
On top of this, learn all you can about how to promote your blog.
More on this subject: Is Blogging Profitable? 7 Ways Bloggers Monetize
Final Tips for New Bloggers
- Be prepared for the long-haul.
- Don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight.
- Set your expectations correctly and don’t believe the hype.
- You’ll learn a huge amount by just getting started… in two years time you’ll be an expert!
- The fact you’ve started a blog (or are thinking about it) is the first step, so you’re already on the road.
- Learn as much as you can about blogging and promoting your new blog from others.
- Become part of a community (or communities) in which you can help others and ask for help yourself.
- Try not to overthink and get demotivated
Above all new bloggers, don’t give up when the going gets tough: remember the thousand mile journey?
That’s it for now. Good luck!
If you’d like me to provide a specific tip for new bloggers I haven’t covered here, ask me a question in the comments section below and I’ll add it to this post or create a new one if necessary.
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