Let’s be honest: Trying to learn how to start a blog for the first time can be a pretty overwhelming process.
The problem isn’t just that there’s a seemingly endless supply of blog-related articles and videos scattered across the vast reaches of the Internet that can take far too long to read through and make sense of. Nor is it simply that some of those articles seem to contradict one another completely.
No, half the problem is that the digital landscape evolves so fast and so frequently that content on blogging best practices, Search Engine Optimization, and successfully monetizing a blog that may have been right on the money a year or two back is now outdated and at odds with today’s standards.
If that’s a problem you’ve been coming across recently, this guide is for you.
My name is Forrest, and over the past few years, I’ve built up a portfolio of content websites from zero to millions of dollars in revenue by consistently staying on top of the latest blogging trends, developments, and best practices.
Below, I’ll talk you through everything you need to know to start a successful blog in 2022, from deciding what to write about, setting up your blogging platform, and even generating income from your new project.
1. Choosing a Blog Niche
Before you think about registering a new blog, the most important thing you’ll need to do is to decide on your niche, and which is the specific topic you’ll create blog content about.
If you’re not concerned with making money from your blog, and your only goal is to write about something you’re already passionate about for the sake of sharing what you love with the world, choosing a niche for your blog is going to be the easiest thing in the world:
Simply go with what you know and love and get started.
However, if your long-term goal is to make money from blogging or develop a large audience, then there’s a little more thought that needs to go into the niche-selection process.
Ultimately, picking a profitable blog niche may present a tricky challenge.
This is especially true when you consider that the things you know about and are passionate about may not be the same things anybody wants to read about, meaning you’ll have a hard time generating income.
It could also be the case that the niche subjects that do generate income and attract large reader bases are ones in which you have little knowledge, skills, or experience. And thus, making it very difficult to write the kind of genuinely informative, authoritative content that is going to draw an audience.
Choosing a Blog Niche: A Few Things to Consider
With those challenges in mind, the real question is, what can you do about it?
I’ve written a complete guide to choosing a blog niche that outlines everything you need to about the process. And if you don’t have time for that right now, here are a few things to consider which should help you pick the perfect topic for your blog:
1. What am I Truly Passionate About?
The emphasis is on the word truly, here.
I’m not talking about passing phases or some new hobby you’re currently super excited about but may get bored of in a few months or a year’s time.
I’m talking about those subjects that really light a fire under you and that you’re going to enjoy writing about for hours at a time, week in, week out, probably for years.
After all, building a successful blog takes many hours and a lot of hard work, and only a genuine passion will help you maintain your momentum and motivation.
2. Are Other People as Passionate About this as I am?
In other words, is there an audience of people out there who would want to consume the kind of niche content I’m planning to create?
There’s a good chance that you already know that there’s an audience for your blog if you’re part of any online communities related to your niche.
If you’re not, you can always search for them.
Check what Facebook groups, Reddit subs, and other online groups exist, how active they are, and to what extent the topics of discussion tally with what you plan to write about.
You can also gauge the interest level in your niche by doing keyword research, but we’ll come back to that shortly.
3. Can I Make Money from this Niche?
To be fair, if you’ve determined that there’s an audience out there for your niche, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to generate at least some income from your blog. Butt what you and I are interested in is how to determine a genuinely profitable blog.
While keyword research and looking up search volumes will help you in this regard, you’ll also want to look at other blogs and websites in your niche. Consider how popular they are and what monetization tools -if any- they use.
Website valuation tools like Worth of Web and even marketplaces such as Flippa can help you discover the estimated value of those websites, which may indicate just how popular your niche is.
2. How to Do Keyword Research?
Whether you’re doing it to determine your niche or develop ideas for blog content, effective keyword research is an essential part of any successful blog project.
In a nutshell, keyword research allows you to see the words and phrases relating to your niche that people look for on search engines like Google. To put it another way, it tells you precisely what people want to read about and what questions they want to be answered so that you can better tailor your content to meet demand.
The best part is that it’s pretty easy to do, thanks to a number of popular keyword research tools.
I’ve put together a guide to the top five best keyword research tools to buy in 2022, but for now, let me show you just how easy it is with a quick demonstration of the tool that ranked number one in that guide, SEMRush:
Head to SEMRush.com and enter a keyword in the box on the homepage. You can then choose your country and hit the start button.
2. Create an Account
You’ll be able to get all the information about the platform’s various account plans in my SEMrush review.
3. View the Keyword Overview
Once you’ve created your account, SEMrush will provide a complete dashboard with everything you need to know about that keyword.
As you’ll see in the image above, this includes the search volume (how many people are searching for that keyword), how difficult it is to rank highly for your keyword, and even the average Cost Per Click (CPC) that advertisers generally pay when their ads are displayed on content relating to that keyword.
Below that, you’ll be able to see thousands of keyword variations, related keywords, and questions people ask, giving you a huge source of ideas for your blog posts.
You’ll also have access to a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis, which shows you the top-ranking blogs for that keyword so that you can see what others are doing and get a better idea of how to compete with them.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can read my complete guide to keyword research here.
3. Coming Up With Blog Name Ideas
Now that you know what your blog is going to be about, it’s time to determine what it’s going to be called.
One question beginner bloggers often ask is whether to name their blog after themselves (johnsmith.com, for example), or come up with a brand name relating to the subject matter (besttraveltips.com, etc).
The answer to this question is that it depends.
You might want to use your name as the name of your blog if you already have some name recognition (for example, if you’re a YouTuber who is now starting a blog) or if you’re already established as an expert in your field. People are going to want to look for content that you specifically make.
However, if you’re just starting, you’ll likely find it more beneficial to develop a relevant name related to your niches like Vegan Baking Recipes, Border Collie World, or Ultra Distance Running Tips.
If you’re struggling with this, here’s a post I wrote to help you come up with blog name ideas.
4. How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Blog?
Whatever name you decide, your next task is to check whether you can register that blog name as a domain name.
If somebody has already registered bordercollieworld.com, for example, then you won’t be able to use it for your blog, which is why it’s a good idea to brainstorm a couple of ideas first.
The easiest way to do this is, of course, to simply type your desired domain into your web browser and see what happens.
If it takes you to an existing website, that tells you that the domain isn’t available. If there’s nothing there, that’s a good sign that you’ll be able to buy that domain.
That said, you may still want to use a tool like Domain.com to confirm that the domain is definitely available, and it isn’t just that somebody else registered the domain but didn’t build a website for it.
Using a Dot Com for Your Domain
Debate rages on in the blogging realm as to whether you should always register a .com domain name for your blog rather than, say, a .org, .net, or another domain extension.
The truth is, the type of Top Level Domain (TLD) you use is unlikely to affect your search ranking and overall performance, but I still recommend .com anyway simply because it’s the most common, widely known, and easiest to remember.
Since most major websites (think Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc.) all end in .com, the majority of internet users are likely to assume that yours does too, so the easier you can make it for them to visit your site without having to remember a different domain, the better.
If you need more help with this, here’s my complete guide to choosing a domain name for your blog.
5. How to Choose a Web Host?
If you’re in the process of buying a domain name, it might be a good idea to buy your web hosting at the same time as many leading hosting companies offer both as a package deal.
What is web hosting, you ask?
To put it simply, when you buy web hosting, you’re essentially buying space on a server which literally “hosts” all the files that make up your website and makes them accessible to Internet users in a fast and secure fashion.
There are a million and one different web hosting companies out there to choose from, though my personal top five favorites include:
I’ve written about exactly why I like these particular companies so much in my guide to the top 7 best WordPress web hosting companies, but if you’re in a rush right now, let me just tell you that the real reason I picked them is that they offer everything bloggers like you and I could want from a web hosting plan, including:
- Affordable pricing with reasonable renewal rates
- Ample storage to host website files
- Lighting fast performance to ensure pages always load quickly
- Minimum 99% uptime to ensure your site is always online
- Solid, robust security to prevent malware, hacking, and other threats
- Ease of use with one-click WordPress installation
- Good to great customer support available when needed.
You’ll find a detailed explanation as to why these factors -and others- are so important in my beginner’s guide to choosing a web host.
6. How to Install WordPress?
With your domain and hosting good to go, it’s time to install WordPress, the free, open-source platform that you’re going to use to create your blog.
Sure, WordPress isn’t the only blogging software or tool out there, but with over 455 million of the world’s websites powered by WordPress and 60% of America’s top 100 countries using it, it’s fair to say that it’s undoubtedly the most popular option for creating a blog that looks good and functions flawlessly.
This popularity is partly down to the almost limitless number of things you can do with this most versatile of blogging platforms. It’s also partly down to its impressive performance compared to other platforms, though mostly, I like to think the reason so many people opt for WordPress is that it’s so easy to set up and use.
I’ve created a detailed WordPress installation tutorial that walks you step-by-step through the process of setting up your blog, but in this guide, we’ll keep things brief with a brief walk-through.
1. Head to Your Web Hosting Account and Select WordPress Installation
Each hosting company might keep their one-click WordPress installation button in different places, but you can usually find it pretty easily in your control panel or dashboard.
2. Enter the Name of Your New Blog
When you’ve done that, click create.
3. Add in Your Credentials
This is the username and password you’ll use to log into your site so that you can edit and update it.
4. Enter Your Domain Name
If you got your domain from the same company as your hosting, this is really straightforward. If you bought your domain name separately from another company, you’d have to link it to your hosting account first.
When you’ve done this and clicked continue, the installation process will occur, and WordPress will be set up in your hosting account.
5. Log Into Your New WordPress Website
You can do this at any time by going to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and entering the username and password you just created.
6. Install a WordPress Theme
WordPress themes can be uploaded to your blog and then customized to create a unique look and feel.
You can choose themes directly from the WordPress theme directory or buy them from third-party sites like ThemeForest and then upload them by going to Appearance – Themes from your WordPress dashboard.
I’ve written a step-by-step tutorial on installing a WordPress theme that you can read here.
7. Install Plugins
Finally, you can install WordPress plugins to provide extra functionality for your website.
Again, you can learn exactly how to do that in this WordPress plugin installation tutorial.
With that done, your new WordPress blog is good to go.
7. How to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas?
Now we get to the really fun stuff:
Coming up with your blog content.
If you did your keyword research earlier, you’ve probably already got many great ideas for topics to write about.
Let’s say, for example, you wanted to create a blog about vegan baking.
You’d type that word into SEMrush or whichever keyword research tool you decide to use, and then you might decide to first look at the keyword variations.
In this example, you’ll see that two of the top three results relate to vegan egg substitutes, while another two of the top six relate to vegan butter substitutes.
So, already, you’ve got several blog post ideas from that one.
You could do a catch-all “Best Vegan Substitutes for Baking” post listing the best egg, butter, and other replacements, before perhaps doing “Top 5 Best Egan Egg/Butter Substitutes” and even reviews of different ingredient substitutes.
If you use your keyword research tool to look up the kind of questions people ask about vegan baking, you’ll again see that people have a lot of questions about ingredients and substitutes. If you’re knowledgeable enough about these subjects, then you’re in a great position to create content that provides the information people are searching for.
Still, keyword research isn’t the only way to source blog post ideas.
You can also use:
1. Google’s People Also Ask
Ever searched for the answer to a question on Google and come across the “People Also Ask” box at the top? That’s showing you the exact kind of questions people have that you could answer through your blog posts.
2. Reddit Subs
There’s a subreddit for just about everything these days. This might be another great place to look at what questions people have about your niche and what kind of topics get the most engagement. Use those to think of ways you could address those topics and questions in your blog posts.
3. Other Social Media and Online Communities
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, StackExchange, Quora, and other online platforms where people are talking about your niche are all a gold mine for blog post ideas.
If all those options aren’t firing your imagination enough, here’s my guide to generating compelling and engaging blog post ideas.
8. How to Create Your Blog Content Strategy And Why You Need One?
So, you’ve done all your research, and you’ve now got a huge list of blog post ideas to get to work on.
Yet before you dive right into those ideas at random, you may find it helpful to devise a proper content marketing strategy and write it down on paper.
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 60% of businesses who write their content strategy down say that it proves to be effective, compared to just 32% of those whose strategy exists purely in their mind.
So far, so good then, but what exactly is a blog content strategy?
To put it in its most basic terms, it’s a living document that outlines exactly what you’re going to do to create your content and build your blog, how you’re going to do it, and, most importantly, why?
This is such an essential part of creating a successful blog that I felt compelled to write this in-depth guide to develop a blog content strategy.
I’d encourage you to read that to get a good understanding of what’s involved, but for brevity’s sake, here are a few of the things you should want to include in your strategy:
1. A Clearly Defined Goal
If you don’t have a goal in mind for your blog, how will you ever know whether or not it’s successful?
Of course, making money might be one of the main reasons for starting a blog, but let’s be honest, there are many other ways to generate income, so why are you really doing this?
- Is it to build a brand?
- Promote your services or products?
- Educate and inform readers on serious issues or campaigns for social change?
Think about not only why you want to do this, but how you’ll know whether you’ve achieved it.
2. A Clearly Defined Audience
- Who is the audience for your blog?
- Where do they hang out?
- What questions do they want to be answered?
- What problems do they have that you’re uniquely placed to solve?
A little bit of market research can go a long way to answering these questions and will make a big difference.
After all, the better you know your audience, the better position you’ll be in to cater to them and get them interested in what you have to say.
3. Decide on Content Types
So, you have a pretty good idea about who you’re going to be creating content for. Now it’s time to determine exactly what type of content they want.
- Is it written in blog posts?
- Videos and podcasts?
- Infographics or other visual media?.
- Does your audience want tutorials?
- Reviews and opinion pieces?
- Case studies?
- News articles?
You may already have a good idea of the type of content you will create based on your research.
If many of the most searched-for keywords in your niche are “How to do X“ type questions, for example, creating tutorial pieces teaching people how to do it sounds like a smart idea.
You might also want to look at what your competitors are doing, and you can even use tools like BuzzSumo to look at their most popular posts as well as searching for the most popular content by keyword.
4. A Content Calendar
Creating a comprehensive content calendar for your blog can be an effective and efficient way to ensure your content is always of the highest quality and published on time.
By scheduling your posts, you give yourself enough time to research, draft, edit, and source any media files, as well as thinking about the most appropriate time to post certain types of content.
Going back to our Vegan Baking Recipes idea, for example, it may be that you have ideas for recipes including summer fruits that you want to schedule for the middle of the year and winter warmers that are better being shared as the year draws to a close.
A good blog content calendar can also prove essential if you’re building your blog in collaboration with others so that everybody knows precisely what they’re supposed to be working on and when.
You could create a calendar using something simple like a spreadsheet, a Google Calendar, or collaborative-working platforms such as Trello.
Alternatively, you could use dedicated content management tools like CoSchedule, Hubspot, or SEMRush’s own marketing calendar.
5. Content Guidelines
Finally, be sure to create some guidelines for your blog and stick to them to ensure consistency across all of your content.
This might include things like:
- The tone of voice (formal, informal, etc.)
- Whether you write in first-person singular (“I,” “me”) or plural (“we,” “us”)
- Post structures
- Media sourcing and formatting
- How you’ll handle internal and external links.
9. How to Promote Your Blog?
With an effective blog content strategy in place, you’ll be building quality posts in no time, but that’s only half the battle when it comes to starting a successful blog.
The truth is that just because your blog exists, there’s no guarantee that anybody is going to know about it and want to check it out.
The good news is that there’s a number of ways that you can do this, many of which require little to no money.
1. Social Media
Just as with your blog itself, it’s going to take time to build up a following on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest, but if you ask me, that’s time well spent.
Creative and strategic use of hashtags and keywords can go a long way to getting those first sets of eyeballs on your content, and if you consistently deliver the goods, that following will start to develop.
2. Guest Posting
Guest posting is exactly what it sounds like:
You post an article as a guest contributor to another blog or website. The idea is that if you contribute a guest blog that provides genuine value to readers of that blog, you’ll begin to develop your reputation as an authoritative voice within your niche, as well as develop mutually beneficial connections with other bloggers and, of course, generating some all-important backlinks to your own website.
3. Encourage Readers to Share Your Content for You
Of course, you’re not the only one who could -or should- be sharing your content on social media.
If your WordPress blog doesn’t already come with social sharing buttons, you’ll find a plethora of plugins out there that will add that functionality for you.
Include them, and encourage your readers to use them to share your content with their networks, ensuring your content reaches a far wider audience than you could alone.
4. Create a Newsletter
Even in an age of social media, PPC advertising, and other digital tools, email marketing remains an effective way of reaching people and generating interest in your blog.
Email marketing tools like MailChimp are among some of the most must-have WordPress plugins for any blogger, making it easy to build up a mailing list and get the word out about each new post.
5. Offline Promotion
Don’t forget about the importance of telling people in your day-to-day life about your new blog too.
Encourage friends and family to check out your blog and share it with their networks.
Get business cards or small flyers printed and hand them out when people ask you about what you do or what you’re interested in.
Take any opportunity to tell people who might be interested in your blog that it’s there and encourage them to sign up.
All these ideas are just for starters. If you’re looking for more suggestions, here’s my bumper guide to the best ways to promote your blog.
10. How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog?
All of the promotional ideas listed above are a great way to start driving traffic to your blog from external sources. Still, there’s a lot you can -and should- be doing with your blog itself to help drive even more traffic and get even more eyeballs on your content.
Fundamentally, this all comes down to learning at least the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), none of which are as complicated nor as technical as they may first sound.
The most important thing to remember here is that driving traffic to your blog isn’t something you only need to think about after you’ve published your content. Rather, it should be something that remains at the forefront of your mind right from the very beginning of the content creation process.
It means keeping in mind crucial tasks such as:
1. Choosing Keywords and Keyword Placements Carefully
All that keyword research you did earlier wasn’t just to help get your creative juices flowing. It helps you to determine exactly the kind of topics that people are going to be compelled to want to visit your blog and read about.
Use one main keyword (along with one or two possible related or alternative keywords) per post, but be careful not to overdo it.
As a general rule, think about including your main keyword in the title of your post, the opening paragraph, at least one or two of your subheadings, and then sparingly and in a natural context within the body of your content.
2. Adding Optimized Visuals
It’s commonly accepted in the blogging world that visual content such as images, infographics, and videos can significantly affect the level of traffic your posts receive.
So use them, and use them well.
When you’re adding visual content to your posts, be sure to ensure they’re properly optimized so that they don’t take a long time to load and slow your whole site down. You can use WordPress plugins such as Optimole or Smush to help with this.
While you’re at it, be sure to include alt tags and other metadata about your images, as these will help with your SEO efforts and help you generate more traffic.
3. Include Post Data
On the subject of metadata, be sure to optimize your post descriptions, titles, slugs (the part of the URL after your main domain), and other essentials. A popular plugin called Yoast SEO will prove invaluable for making this process quick and easy.
All this is just for starters.
If you’re serious about really getting as many people as possible to visit your blog, I’ve written a guide containing everything you need to know about blog traffic generation, which you’ll no doubt find helpful.
11. How to Make Money With a Blog?
If you’ve followed the steps above, your blog will be up and running with great, captivating content that brings in traffic and gets you closer and closer to the goal or objective you set for yourself as part of your blog content strategy.
If your main goal is to generate income from your blog, there are a number of ways to do that.
Again, I recommend you read my detailed guide to monetizing your WordPress blog to really get to grips with all the different options at your disposal, but if you’re looking for a few quick and simple ideas, here’s four of them:
1. Sign up for Adsense
One of the most common blog monetization methods used by countless bloggers is to sign up for an account with Google Adsense.
If your blog is accepted into the Adsense program (and if you’ve created a quality blog using the steps above, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be), then you’ll be able to display ads on your site which Google will pay you for every time a reader clicks on one.
2. Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing for bloggers involves including links to products or services within your posts and getting paid every time a visitor clicks on those links and makes a purchase.
If you’re blogging about marketing, for example, you could sign up as an affiliate for various marketing tools and software platforms and then write about them, including natural, contextual affiliate links which will generate revenue for you when somebody clicks on one.
Referring once again to our old friend, the vegan baking blogger, they might sign up as an affiliate with the Amazon Associates program and link to any baking equipment or products mentioned in their posts that users can buy from Amazon.
3. Sell eBooks and/or courses
Another popular blogging monetization strategy is to create a high-value book or course related to your niche and sell it on your website.
If you go down this route, don’t forget to mention and link to your book/course in your posts and make sure that a Call to Action (CTA) to check out your product is visible in either your main navigation menu or sidebar.
4. Make Yourself Available for Hire
If you can use your blog to establish yourself as an authority on your chosen subject with the skills, expertise, and experience to back it up, then there’s always an opportunity to sell that expertise directly to readers.
This could be in the form of coaching, mentoring, or tutoring someone to do what you write about for themselves (such as coaching someone to create a successful blog), or it could be selling services in which you do the work for them (building their website or blog as a freelancer).
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Blog
Q1. How do I Start a Blog With no Money?
Ans. You can start a blog with no money by using the free version of WordPress at WordPress.com or by using other free platforms like Medium.
Q2. How do Bloggers Get Paid?
Ans. One of the most common ways for bloggers to get paid is to include ads on their website, which pay them a small amount either per click (each time a user clicks on the ads) or per impression (how many times a user sees the ad). Bloggers can also make money by using affiliate links which pay them a small commission every time a user clicks one of those links and buys a product or service.
Q3. What Pages Should a Blog Have?
Q4. How Long Should Blog Posts Be?
Ans. It’s generally accepted in the blogging community that a blog post should be a minimum of 300 words to do well in search, though posts of 1,000 words or more tend to rank better.
How to Start a Blog in 2022: A Final Word of Advice
Throughout this guide, I’ve strived to tell you everything I think you might need to know to start a successful blog in 2022.
Before I go, however, let me give you one final piece of advice:
Whatever your niche, content type, and promotional methods, developing a blog that consistently draws in a decent level of traffic takes time and some serious work.
Sure, there are gurus out there who’ll tell you that they built a six-figure blog in 90 days or make other wild claims, but I’d be willing to bet that they’re either not being entirely truthful or that they somehow got fortunate.
The truth is that even if you plug away at your new blog day in, day out, it’s still going to take time for your posts to start ranking, your audience to build, and your SEO efforts to pay off.
Don’t be discouraged, though.
If you’re prepared to put the work in and stick with it, building a blog can prove to be a hugely satisfying and rewarding experience in so many ways.