Are you thinking about joining the world of online entrepreneurship, but you’re not sure exactly where to begin? Have you been wondering how to start a WordPress blog or business site but you’re not sure what to do first?
There’s so much freakin’ information out there and so many people trying to sell courses, eBooks, and digital downloads, it can make your head spin!
Well, it’s easier than you think, I promise…
By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to start a WordPress blog you’re passionate about + how to promote it like crazy!
Disclosure: All of the resources below are mentioned to help you start a WordPress blog quickly and easily. This page may contain affiliate links, but I would never recommend a product or service I don’t stand behind 100%!
Even though it’s easy to start a blog, it’s NOT easy to keep it going. The blogging/make-money-online world is full of exaggerations! I learned this the hard way and I want to be upfront and honest from the get-go:
if you’re trying to start a profitable blog, blogging is NOT a get rich quick scheme. You will NOT be an overnight success.
I’m sure you’ve come across the odd blog post with a person claiming they’ll teach you to make a full time income only weeks or even a few months after you start a WordPress blog.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is extremely unlikely.
But here’s the good news: there are some pretty basic blogging rules you can follow that will absolutely set you up for success so you can start a WordPress blog that will be HELLA successful.
Remember, starting your blog properly and treating it like a business from the beginning will fast track your success.
How long does it take to make money from blogging?
Ah, this is the big question everyone wants to know. And, sadly, the answer is not very thrilling.
Blogging takes time. A lot of time.
Even though you CAN start making money from your blog in a few months, it takes most people one year or more to start seeing some real, consistent success.
Before diving into this guide on how to start a WordPress blog, there are some things I recommend to help you get started.
First, you’ll definitely want to grab your FREE toolbox for starting a WordPress blog below. It includes:
-a quick-start blog guide
-a mini blog business plan
-monthly and weekly blogging goals printables
Now, I know there are literally HUNDREDS of articles on this topic because I see them everyday on fellow Blogger’s sites and Pinterest.
But, hey, it’s ok, because each article about starting a blog is unique and takes a different approach to the startup process. And I hope once you have a mega-successful blog, you’ll write one too!
My main focus is centered around people who want to start a blog for profit and live the “entrepreneurial life”.
Here’s what we’re going to cover in this guide:
– blogging truths & myths
– how you can actually make money from a WordPress blog
1: choosing a niche
2: choosing a name for your new blog
3: buying your domain
4: choosing your web host
5: setting up your WordPress blog + website
6: writing blog posts
7: designing killer blog graphics
8: building your email list (yes, you MUST build your list!)
9: promoting your content
We have a TON of information to get through so I recommend grabbing a tea or coffee and getting comfy. By the end of this, you’re going to have an awesome baby blog!
Blogging Truths and Myths: Making money as a blogger
The number one question people always ask when it comes to blogging is,
“Can you ACTUALLY make money blogging?”
Followed by, “HOW do you make money?”, and, of course, “how MUCH money can you make from blogging?“.
The answers are: YES, you can make money, there are MANY WAYS to make money, and, IT DEPENDS. Sorry, not that helpful, I know!
How can you actually monetize a blog?
– having ads on your site (pay per click)
– working with brands and advertising for them as an affiliate
– selling sponsored/guest posts on your site
– developing and selling your own products or services
Which method is the BEST to monetize your blog?
Selling your own products and services.
Hands down. Let me tell you why.
Most methods of monetizing a blog depend on how many followers and pageviews you have, so for new bloggers, it can be really difficult monetizing when they’re still small.
With ads on your site, you may be getting anywhere from a couple cents to a dollar per click. This means you need to have TONS of pageviews to ensure you will have enough visitors that actually click your ads.
Affiliate marketing is definitely a great option for bloggers, but most brands and affiliates are super picky about who they work with. They usually have limits on how many pageviews you need to have or how many social media followers you should have before working with them.
The other tricky thing about affiliate marketing is that you’re advertising for someone else! This means your readers are clicking AWAY from your site and you lose them to another blog or business, which is not ideal.
If you sell your own products or services on your blog then,
A) you don’t need a huge audience to get started, and
B) you have FULL control of what you’re advertising and selling.
No matter which method you choose, as a blogger, your number one goal is to GROW YOUR READERSHIP. Your audience will be the key to everything in your blogging life (according to the almighty blogging equation!)
Successful Blogging Equation
Higher visibility = more readers = more trust & credibility = more subscribers = larger email list = more conversions = $$$$$$$
AND for affiliate marketing:
Higher visibility = higher pageviews = more trust & credibility = affiliate opportunities = marketing opportunities = $$$$$$$
No matter how you square it, the number one key to building a successful blog is growing a loyal and engaged audience.
I know you’re all thinking… “pfffttttt, easier said than done!“. And I agree. 100%. That’s why not everyone has a blog! If it were easy, everyone would be a blogger!
Now that we’ve covered a few basics, let’s get right into it so you can start your brand new WordPress blog today!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 1: How to Choose a Blogging Niche
One of the main things people can get really stuck on (myself included) is choosing a niche.
Either you have so many ideas that you’re having trouble narrowing it down, OR you don’t have enough ideas (or at least not enough information to write 200 blog posts on the subject!).
I wrote a blog post recently about how to choose a blogging niche, and I went into a TON of detail about what I call the 4 P’s: Passion, Purpose, Popularity and Profitability.
When I was starting my first blog a few years ago, my goal was to have a blog that would eventually provide me a steady income so I could pursue my entrepreneurial passions.
After much humming and hawing, I ended up choosing health & fitness as my niche and ran with it (for a few months at least!).
Eventually, I started noticing that I didn’t actually have that much to say! I wasn’t excited to get up and write every morning. I didn’t particularly look forward to sharing my beliefs, opinions and experiences with other people (which is kind of a key thing for bloggers!).
In less than one year, my blog failed.
I was really disappointed with myself.
I thought I wasn’t cut out for blogging and I started to totally lose motivation for the blogging and online entrepreneurial world.
So I went back to the drawing board and honed in on my passion of entrepreneurship.
Did I have all the answer? HELL NO!
Sometimes, I still have no idea what to write about! But the great thing about starting a blog centered around your passion is that you will always be willing to learn.
OK, so fast forward…
You’ve downloaded the ultimate guide to choosing your niche, you’ve picked a topic that you’re stoked to start blogging about, AND you’re confident it’s going to be a huge hit with other people. Awesome!
It’s time to do some fun stuff: let’s choose a name!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 2: Naming Your New Blog
One of the most exciting things when you start a WordPress blog (or any new online business) is coming up with a name!
And when it comes to naming your new blog, there are 2 schools of thought: you can either choose to use your own personal name as a brand OR you can come up with something on your own.
But don’t worry, neither one is going to make or break your blog so don’t stress too much!
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
→ Coming up with a name
If you have a specific idea for your blog and know exactly what you want to focus on, creating a name directly related to your blog is a great idea.
Some really popular blogs have used this method and you can guess what they’re about instantly when you see their names:
Choosing a name related to your niche is a great way for a new blog to attract more visitors because you’re able to make it crystal clear what your blog is about.
Less confusion about your topic means you will be attracting the right people to your site and they will probably be more likely to click on your posts.
→ Branding as Yourself
Tons of bloggers have used this branding strategy including Melyssa Griffin, Amy Lynn Andrews, and Sarah Titus.
It’s a great idea if you want to develop your own products and be the face of your brand. (It’s also really unlikely you’ll run into a blog with the same name or branding!).
Using your own name can also be a way to build up your “digital resume” and instead of locking you into a topic like “Bloggingforbeginners.com” or “PaintingfurnitureDIY.com”, it allows you to expand your blog into different avenues, branding, and ideas in the future.
So, which one is better?!
The truth is, it really doesn’t matter!
Whether you want to use your own name or create a name that represents your blog is completely up to you. Both methods have proven to be successful and if you make a decision and end up wanting to change down the line- no problem!
Many mega successful blogs have done some serious re-branding throughout the years.
Once you’ve selected a kick butt name for your blog, it’s time to buy the domain!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 3: Choosing a domain
So, what is a domain…?
A domain is basically like your “internet phone number”. It’s the fun or memorable address you choose for your own website. You own that name and, for a set period (as long as you continue to renew it), no one else can use it.
Why should you start a WordPress blog instead of using a site like Blogger or Tumbler?
Well, there are a few reasons!
First, when you start a WordPress blog, you actually OWN that domain and blog (plus it’s fully customizable in terms of appearance!). You can add themes, custom coding, eCommerce platforms, and anything else you can think of to build your blog!
WordPress is open source software meaning it’s updated and developed by a huge community of developers.
Extra tip: If you can buy your domain and web hosting together, it will definitely save you a few bucks! This is where Bluehost comes in. For only $3.95/month, you’ll get a free domain, web hosting, and 1-click WordPress installation so your WordPress blog will be up and running in no time!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 4: Choosing a web hosting provider
Hosting is basically a large server where all of your content and data are stored so that it can be accessed on the internet- by anyone, anywhere.
Every domain needs hosting and every WordPress blog or website you visit has a web host out there somewhere!
But, how do you know which web host to choose?!
I did extensive research on web hosting looking at things like website downtime, technical support (and of, course, price), before I finally narrowed it down to Bluehost.
I use Bluehost and I REALLY like them. It only costs $3.95/month and that actually includes your domain name!
They also have super easy WordPress installation and 24/7 support (which is a must!). Starting with Bluehost is a must for any newbie blogger!
OK! You have a domain name and now you’ve secured hosting- congrats!
Now you can actually start building your new WordPress blog.
So far, we’ve only invested a few hours and about $3.95– not too bad for a startup, right?
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 5: Building your new blog!
Now, when we start getting into website setup and design, the easiest way to start building is to download WordPress.
WordPress is easily the most well known and widespread website creation software in the world – and it’s gained this title for a reason!
As we talked about earlier, starting a self-hosted WordPress blog will allow you to completely customize EVERYTHING on your site from themes and appearance to advanced functionalities. Most importantly, there is a TON of support out there in the WordPress community if you need help.
It’s definitely going to be your best bet for starting your new blog!
Setting Up Your Theme
From the dashboard of your WordPress blog, you have the ability to browse through thousands of themes and choose the one that will work best for your blog!
From your WordPress “dashboard” click on “Appearance” and “Themes“. You can browse through newest themes or most popular to see what other people are loving.
When you start a WordPress blog, do you need to buy a theme?
If you’re a new blogger, I’m sure you’ll want to save a few bucks where you can, but (in my opinion) buying your WordPress blog theme is definitely a worthwhile expense.
I used to work with only free themes on WordPress, and once you know your way around, you can definitely make these themes beautiful!
BUT, as a new blogger, you really need to spend your time creating and promoting content, so I caution against fiddling around with free themes when you first start a WordPress blog.
Not to mention, paid themes will normally allow you more customization options and you’ll have more support from the developers should you have any issues.
Themes can range anywhere from $20-$200 depending on what you want and how much you’re able to do yourself!
Where can you find professional themes when you start a WordPress blog?
I wrote a post about it here. Some great websites to check out are Bluchic, Beautiful Dawn and Code + Coconuts.
What the heck is a plugin?
A plugin is a piece of software you download that works with WordPress blogs to optimize certain features on your website.
Whether you want custom social media buttons, different fonts on every page, or you want to start with an awesome landing page, plugins are the way to go!
Check out this post on some must-have plugins for new bloggers!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 6: Writing your blog content
There is always a question of how many posts you need to have when starting a new blog. Some people launch with no posts, and others like to have 50 solid blog posts ready to go.
The answer is: the more, the better!
When I started my blog, I didn’t do a big launch or wait until I had tons of content. I had about 5 blog posts.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve done 20-25 posts because it probably would have kept people on my site longer and grown my email list faster.
So, when you start a WordPress blog, your first focus should be on getting good quality content written and posted!
Aim to write 25 blog posts so when you start marketing your blog, people have some great info to read and a reason to stick around.
→ Foundational VS. Filler Content
When starting a blog, you need to have some “meaty” content to engage your audience right off the bat and give them some great information they can actually use.
These posts will be your “foundational” content and they’ll be the posts that really define your blog, your brand, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Typically, these posts are in the form of informational, instructional or tutorial articles.
Foundational content is also going to help your rankings on Google, so you want to write as much as you possibly can! Try to keep these posts over 2000 words and, ideally, 3000-4000. Google LOVES long-form content and will rank you higher if they see you have tons of relevant information for your readers.
“Filler” content, on the other hand, is a little bit faster and easier to write. These posts can be anywhere from 800-2000 words and this is where you can experiment with different styles of posting, veering away from the traditional “informational” post and trying something like an opinion, experience or a list post.
This writing can give you a boost if you’re getting overwhelmed with writing long-form posts and feel like you need a break!
Out of your first 25 posts, at least 15-20 should be foundational content.
Of course the more foundational content you have the better, but having filler posts is a great way to keep people navigating around your site and it will help you stay on a more consistent posting schedule.
→ Blog Post Frequency
This is a big question among new bloggers, and it’s even debated with seasoned bloggers!
Ok, so how often should you post on your blog?
The truth is, frequency doesn’t matter as much as quality and consistency.
If you want to post 5 times a week, great! But you have to make sure the quality of the posts doesn’t suffer AND that you’re not going to burn out and stop posting all together. This is super disappointing for your audience and definitely won’t help your Google ranking.
This is why most bloggers will aim to post 1-3 times a week.
Posting 1-3 times each week is consistent enough to keep your audience engaged, but not so often that the quality of your content will suffer.
And if you want to post more (or less) than 1-3 times a week, that’s totally fine! Just make sure your posts are well written and researched so people take you seriously and you can gain some traction and credibility.
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 7: Designing your blog graphics
Let’s talk about how to design super professional looking blog graphics. You do NOT have to be an artist to come up with beautiful images for your blog and social media platforms. And, best of all, this can be done for FREE!
I use free stock photos for my images and there are a ton of great websites out there.
One you have your images, the easiest place to do your designing is in Canva. It’s a super simple graphic design site that offers a ton of premium options for free.
Check out my Canva tutorial here.
Of course there are other options for your blog designs like PicMonkey and Adobe, so play around with different ones and see what you’re most comfortable with!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 8: Growing your email list
Every blogger needs to focus on building an email list!
Your email list is the lifeblood of your blogging business. It’s the only thing YOU own and it will never disappear (like social media followers).
The people on your email list have read your content, liked your content (hopefully!), and want to engage with you – that’s huge!
These people will become your tribe, your confidants, your sales funnel, and ultimately, the reason you succeed when you start monetizing and selling your products or services.
Yes, there is tons of email automation software out there to help bloggers, and like most new bloggers, when I started out 3 years ago, my main concern was money. I wanted to spend as little as possible so I used only free list building software.
There’s nothing wrong with using free email software, but as your list grows, you may find you need additional customizations or features that only a paid tool can offer.
Now, I’ve switched to ConvertKit. It has awesome forms you can create in seconds, landing pages, automations and email sequences. But why I really like Convertkit is because they have awesome support.
With ConvertKit, you can go from total newbie to having email opt-ins on your website in a matter of hours.
→ Design a “freebie”
Freebies, or “opt-in incentives”, are SUPER important to give people something in return for their email address.
Some bloggers are still successful by using the “sign up for a newsletter” opt-in, but it’s not the best way to grow an engaged email list (especially when no one knows who the heck you are!).
It’s important to stand out from the competition and offer something extra to your audience!
So what are some examples of freebies?
– bonus blog post/content upgrade on a blog post
– mini course
– access to a resource library
– stock photos
– email challenge
I personally LOVE the resource library idea because you can always add and edit things as you go. If you’re not sure how to set that up, I wrote a blog post on it!
No matter what you choose, make sure your freebie is related to your blog niche so you can start growing a list of people who will be interested in what you offer later!
START A WORDPRESS BLOG STEP 9: Promoting your content
→ Social Media
Advertising your new blog is something you’ll want to start doing right away! One of the best methods to do this is through social media- but not all social media is created equal!
There’s one platform in particular you should get a head-start on (for me, it brings in 80% of my blog traffic!!!).
So what’s the social media site all new bloggers should focus on?
Pinterest is one of the best social media platforms for bloggers for a few reasons.
First, your content has a long lifespan. Unlike Twitter or Instagram where your content is posted and seen for a few minutes afterwards, content posted on Pinterest can go viral days, weeks, or even months later!
This really helps to increase the longevity of your blog posts.
Second, Pinterest works very much like ranking for Google. You don’t need to have a huge following on Pinterest because, unlike other social media sites, it’s not about connecting people, but rather connecting people to great content.
You can rank on Pinterest just like Google by optimizing your pins + boards using keywords.
Anyone using Pinterest can find your pin whether they follow you or not!
If you’re unsure about where to focus your social media energy, you definitely can’t go wrong with Pinterest!
→ How often should you pin?
Well the answer is: pretty often!
I use Tailwind which is a pinning service that does all my pins for me. You schedule exactly what you want to be pinned and Tailwind pins to the boards at the specific times you choose.
Grab a $15 Tailwind credit!
My plan works out to be about $10/month which includes unlimited pins everyday, so I average anywhere from 35-50 pins spanned across the entire day. It saves me a ton of time on Pinterest and is well worth it (especially considering how much of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest!).
You’re all done!
That was a lot of info to digest all at once, but if you’ve made it this far, you now know exactly what you need to do to start a WordPress blog AND how to make it super successful!
Good luck and happy blogging!!!! <3