I’ve organized what I’ve learned about how to start a blog into seven basic steps.
How To Start A Blog
Before launching Veggie Primer in early 2015, I conducted months of research. And I continue to rely on information generously shared by the blogging community, so I figured I should pay it forward. Here is what I’ve learned.
1. Define your objective
Before you start a blog, answer these five questions:
- Why do you want to blog?
(I wanted to blog for a creative outlet and to build my own business.)
- What do you expect to achieve?
(I hoped to generate income while helping people make positive lifestyle changes.)
- What do you want to blog about? Try to narrow your focus and be as specific as possible.
(I wanted to blog about my plant-based lifestyle and my daughter’s food allergies. I narrowed my focus to sharing gluten-free vegan recipes.)
- Will you feel passionate about this topic a year from now?
(I committed to a plant-based lifestyle three years before I launched Veggie Primer. I expect to remain passionate about the topic for the rest of my life!)
- Who is your intended audience?
(I created Veggie Primer for folks who are interested in following a plant-based diet, but don’t particularly like to cook – or don’t have time to cook.)
Once you have identified your audience, try to view your blog from their perspective. How can you best serve their needs?
Success requires hard work. In addition to choosing a subject you can stick with, be sure you enjoy at least most of the tasks associated with blogging.
2. Analyze your skills
Once you define your objective, take stock of your skills. The main competencies related to blogging include:
- Technical – basic computer skills including word processing and photo editing software, blog platform and social media interfaces, and some HTML and CSS
- Content – a talent for developing ideas, writing clearly and concisely in an engaging manner, and creating or acquiring compelling images
- Networking – a knack for building relationships with like-minded folks via social media and other venues
- Marketing – the ability to promote or “sell” your ideas to your intended audience
- Management – the ability to efficiently schedule, prioritize and delegate blogging activities and remain motivated
Consider your strongest and weakest skill sets. Can you improve your skills through training or should you seek assistance? For example, I used lynda.com to learn WordPress. However, I will likely hire a professional coder to make custom changes.
Recommended Skill-building Resources:
3. Choose your platform
Next, select a blogging platform. Which one should you choose? The main differences come down to the control of content, customization, and ease of use. The right match depends on your overall objective.
Here is a quick comparison of some popular options:
I used Blogger for years to casually share my landscape and nature photography. However, I opted for a self-hosted WordPress.org site when I launched Veggie Primer. I wanted more customization and full control of the content. Theoretically, I could have saved money by starting with WordPress.com. But I wanted complete control right from the beginning.
Additionally, consider how well a blogging platform suits your intended audience. For example, according to blog.compete.com, readers of WordPress blogs tend to be interested in personal stories, and their age demographic closely matches internet averages; whereas a younger crowd favors Tumblr.
Popular Blogging Platforms:
4. Choose your host
If you opt for a self-hosted site, you will need a host. Again, your choice depends on your objectives. Many new bloggers begin with a low-cost option and wait until their blog traffic demands a higher-end service.
- 24/7 technical support
- Automated daily backups
- A staging area to test changes to your blog before you go live
- Security from outside threats and malware protection
- Blazingly fast site speed
I considered the return on investment worth the initial cost and it served me well. Less than two months into blogging one of my recipes went viral. I had a huge jump in traffic in a single day. I doubt my site would have been able to keep up if I had gone the cheap route.
- WPengine.com (this is the host I use)
5. Plan your blog architecture
Once you select a platform, plan your blog structure. Here are key points to consider:
- Title – what will you name your blog and how will the name convey your subject?
- Tagline – do you need a subtitle or tagline to clarify your subject further?
- Description – how would you describe your blog in one or two sentences? Develop a concise description – both for your readers and to help you stay focused.
- Homepage – should your homepage serve as a table of contents (static landing page) or always show new content (blog page)? Determine what’s right for you and your readers.
- Categories & Pages – how many pages and categories are needed to organize your content? Explore similar blogs to see how they organize their content.
Next, develop the design and appearance of your site. (This is the fun part!) Unless you are an experienced coder, customize an existing theme to meet your needs. Your options depend on your blogging platform. WordPress offers the widest selection of themes. (The number of choices can be overwhelming!) I recommend the Genesis Framework paired with a child theme by StudioPress. They offer a great selection of highly customizable themes that are mobile responsive.
You may also wish to create a logo. Keep it simple or connect with a professional designer if you don’t have the needed skills.
Recommended WordPress themes:
6. Develop your posting schedule
Opinions differ on how often you should post. Some bloggers recommend posting new content at least three times a week. Others advocate for less frequent, more in-depth posts. But nearly all agree on the importance of quality and consistency.
To determine your ideal posting schedule, consider how much of your time is available. And remember, creating content is only part of the equation. You also need time for continued learning, networking, marketing, etcetera.
Set a schedule that allows you to create remarkable content on a consistent basis. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, or risk burnout. Focus on quality and consistency instead of frequency.
I posted three times a week when I launched Veggie Primer. However, my full-time job made it difficult to maintain this schedule. After several months and I dropped to posting twice a week. When family obligations and work demand even more time, I adjust my posting schedule as needed.
Note, when I change my posting schedule, it’s for an extended period. Maintain a reliable timetable for your readers. Try not to alter your schedule from one week to the next or disappear completely for several weeks.
7. Find a community
My last piece of advice on how to start a blog is to join a community of like-minded folks. Connecting with fellow bloggers will help you continue to grow and learn and feel less isolated. You can share challenges, resources, tips, and marketing strategies.
How do you find a community? Begin by reaching out to bloggers in your niche. Engage in social media and explore discussion forums.
Communities I Rely On:
I hope you found this overview on how to start a blog helpful. Here is a handy infographic you can pin for reference:
Note: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you use the links. I only recommend items/brands I use and trust.