Whether you are a budding writer or a fledgeling startup, if you want to know how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place. This post is the ultimate starting point, discussing everything from why it’s important to prices, platforms, hosting, posting and more.
How to start a blog
Why should I start a blog?
There are several reasons that people decide to start blogging. For some, it is a way of showcasing their writing talents, for others a way of sharing their life experiences or raising awareness of issues they face. For businesses, it is a great way of attracting and engaging with new and existing customers.
In 2019, 54% of Fortune 500 companies had a corporate blog, with that number growing year on year. Blogs aren’t just a way to sutbly sell your products or services, they are used to display thought leadership. Which is important more than ever in an oversaturated online market post-pandemic.
Which blog platform should I use?
The first thing you need to decide when starting a blog is what platform to use.
The most common platform is WordPress, which is popular for a number of reasons. First of all, it is very easy to use, with a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) enabling users to create and manage posts easily.
Secondly, it is very easy to customise, with a range of third-party plugins, which can add an almost limitless amount of functionality, without the user having to possess any programming knowledge.
Other platforms worth considering include Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.
Should I host my own blog?
Bloggers have the choice of a self-hosted blog on their own domain, e.g. joesblog.com, or a blog that is hosted by their blogging platform of choice, on what is known as a subdomain, e.g. joesblog.wordpress.com.
The advantages of having a self-hosted blog include:
- Recognisable, memorable domain name
- Easily customisable design and features
- More credible and attractive to potential advertisers
The disadvantages of self-hosted blogs are:
- Require a certain amount of technical know-how to set up
- More likely to experience downtime than blogs hosted on a platform
- Cost of domain and hosting
How much does it cost to start a blog?
You can get started without shelling out a penny, only time. Here’s how to start a blog for free. But as mentioned, self-hosted blogs will attract greater visibility but incur costs. Here’s a typical example of the costs involved if you’re wondering how to start a blog UK based or globally:
Hosting – From £0.99/$1.50 a month from a number of providers. Some hosting providers also offer a free domain with packages.
Domain name – Domain sellers typically offer incentives as low as £0.99 on your first year, but be sure to check what the renewal price will be. This can be from around £9.99/$11.99 a year, though it will depend on how competitive your address is. Also bear in mind that different domain endings (e.g. .org, .com, .co.uk, .online) will be cheaper or more expensive.
Blogs hosted on a platform such as WordPress.com are the easy solution for those looking to get started for free, but they do have some limitations:
- Restricted customisation options
- Less memorable than self-hosted blogs
- Less attractive for advertisers/partners than self-hosted blogs
Choosing a subject for your blog
Successful blogs have a clear subject and theme. In most cases, this is a subject that the writer is very familiar with and passionate about. If you’re writing for personal reasons, choosing a subject that you love or have experience in is a great way to ensure that you will have plenty to say and find the motivation to update your blog regularly. You will also gain a loyal following who value your insight and opinion.
If you are blogging for business, perhaps as a freelancer, having a niche and strong brand/tone of voice will help differentiate you as an expert in the broader field of copywriting. Other businesses may decide to narrow the focus of their blog to discussing specific topics, which then link back to their services or products.
Defining the scope of your blog before you start is key to success.
Posting on your blog
When posting on your blog, keep in mind the following golden rules:
- Keep it relevant
- Post regularly but not for the sake of it
- Encourage comments on your blog and social media
- Use a focus keyword per post and ensure this is in the URL, title, heading(s), meta data and at least 1-2 times in the copy
- The longer your posts, the longer the dwell time (so long as your content is engaging!). You also have more content to optimise. Between 400 and 1000 words is a good estimate, so long as your content has a good flow, is insightful and isn’t repetitive.
It’s a good idea to post weekly, this can keep your blog fresh and help you get into a habit. You may want to consider creating an editorial calendar to ensure you have a plan for what to post and when. This will ensure that you post consistently and you don’t miss out on any seasonal events.
Images and formatting
Remember, people skim read online, so be sure to break up your posts with <h2> or <h3> headings/sub-headings and use small and easy to digest paragraphs. Summarise key points using • bullet points and bold/italicize text to add emphasis.
When it comes to knowing how to start a blog for free UK business owners are keen to keep costs low. Therefore, you’ll want to find royalty-free images and other media that you are free to publish. Sites like Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash are good initial sources, or you can use Flickr or Creative Commons.
Some of this media comes with rules and restrictions, which you should check before you publish.
How can I promote my blog?
Having a blog is great, but if you want it to be successful, you are going to have to promote it. The following are some approaches:
Social media – Promoting your posts on Twitter and Facebook with relevant hashtags can help to drive traffic and engage with your audience. Don’t just post it and leave, start a conversation and repost older posts from time to time.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – SEO is the process of optimising your posts so that they appear in searches on Google and other search engines. When writing, consider the words and phrases that people would search for to find your posts. Include these terms in your meta data, header and alt tags and, where relevant, within the copy of your posts. There are several plugins for WordPress (such as Yoast) which can help you with this.
Engage with other bloggers – Guest post on other sites and exchange blog roll links with other bloggers to increase your audience and reach.
How can I make money from my blog?
There are various methods of making money from your blog, these include:
Affiliate marketing – By signing up for an affiliate marketing network, like Awin, you can place links in your posts to products, which will pay a commission to you if the visitor goes on to make a purchase.
Advertising – Placing adverts on your blog is a great way to monetise it. One of the easiest and most popular ways of doing this is by using Google’s AdSense platform, which helps you to display targeted ads to your visitors based on the content of your posts.
Review products/events – Influencers (bloggers who have built an authority) can be given free products, event tickets and cash in exchange for reviews. Sites such as Tomoson can help you to find these opportunities.
Check out our post for more about how to monetise your blog.
A thriving blog is a crucial component of any marketing strategy, particularly now so many consumers are shopping online. A well-written, insightful blog allows you to engage with customers, showcase your knowledge and provide credibility and accountability.