Want to start a blog?
Do you want to offer blogging as a service as a Virtual Assistant?
Or do you simply want to find out how to make money from your blog?
Then you are in the right place.
This is a great guide if you are a complete newbie.
Let's start with:
A blog is a website or web page that is regularly updated.
It is usually written in an informal or conversational style.
Is it easy to start a blog?
Yes, all you require is the right blogging platform and the appropriate content.
Blogs cover subjects as diverse as marketing and product reviews to baking bread and living healthily.
There’s been a huge growth in this area, especially when you consider that the first blog was created only as recently as 1994.
What are the steps to start a blog?
Step 1 – Selecting a subject for your blog
What do you want to achieve from the blog?
Do you want to make money?
Do you want to tell the world about your latest hobby on your blog?
Perhaps you want to a start a blog because you love politics and want to give the world your opinion.
What to blog about?
Finding a subject to write about is the first thing you need to consider when starting a blog.
If you want it to work, you need to:
- Have a clear idea what and why you want to write or start a blog.
- Choose something that solves a problem. You don't necessarily have to be passionate about the subject. People will listen if you are solving a problem they have.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have great digital or even writing skills. All these things can be learned as you go along or outsourced to someone else.
I found that one niche blog subject I chose, which was more my husbands passion, fixed gear bikes received really targeted traffic. This is quite a narrow topic but it did well until I neglected it!
Some Topic Ideas to Blog about to Make Money
- Making money online
- Working from home
- Health and fitness, well being, losing weight, gaining muscle, running
- Hobbies - sewing, knitting, crocheting - great subjects for YouTube videos
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding, bringing up children
Step 2 – Choose the blogging platform to start a blog on
Option 1: You can set up a blog for free
You can set up a blog for free on:
By far the biggest blogging platform online is WordPress which accounts for nearly half the blogging market.
The next most popular is Blogger with Tumblr not far behind. They all have their pros and cons but each is easy to set up and start a blog.
This difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org always confuses me!
So just in case it confuses you:
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDPRESS.COM AND WORDPRESS.ORG
WordPress.com hosts your blog for you so you don't need to purchase hosting or a domain name
WordPress.org is the free WordPress software that you can download and install on your own hosting server
The pros and cons of a free blog
Pros of a free blog
- Best of all it's FREE
- No technical knowledge required
- Easy to set up
- Can test whether blogging is for you
- Can use as a linking tool to another site
Cons of a free blog
- Limited monetization options
- Difficult to move over to a WordPress hosted option
- You do not own the blog
- Very limited design options
- Limited functionality
- The blog name will include the site's name e.g. I set up a blogger account years ago and the url is http://hotvirtualassistance.blogspot.co.uk.
Who should set up a free blog:
A hobbyist - if you just want to write about a subject you are passionate about and do not want to make money from it.
Someone who can't afford to pay for a domain or hosting.
If you want to test whether you have the motivation to keep writing but remember if you want to move these articles it can be time consuming.
Option 2: A paid option
You will need to buy:
- domain name (website name)
- hosting package (where your website and articles will be stored).
The pros and cons of a paid (hosted) blog
Pros of a hosted blog
- You can choose how to monetize your blog
- You own the blog
- Multitude of design templates
- Almost unlimited funtionality
- Easier for others to share your content
- You can choose the blog/website name
Cons of a hosted blog
- The cost of a monthly or yearly subscription
- Slightly more technical
- Difficult to get traffic
Who should set up a paid blog:
A business or virtual assistant who wants to promote their goods or services.
A person wanting to make money from their blog or site.
Anyone serious about blogging.
What blogging platform to start a blog on:
The most popular blogging platform is WordPress. The software you install on your server is known as a Content Management System.
There are others including Joomla and Drupal. However, WordPress is the most popular so we will be discussing WordPress from here on in.
Only follow the next steps for the paid option.
Step 3 – Choose a domain name
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the name that you choose to call your blog/website.
Here are three considerations:
Is it catchy?
Try to think of a name that is easy to remember, some 'catchy' names I have seen for Virtual Assistant sites include Nu-type, AssistU, etc. My advice is to ask your family and friends about your choice to get a different perspective on your name choice.
In addition it should also be easy to spell, say and write.
Does it reflect the business you are in and the type of person you are?
Advice that I ignored for my business domain was to actually put my service in my name e.g. Chris's Virtual Assistance. I went for Help on Tap and then chose www.hotva.co.uk for my domain name.
It is or was believed that Google's ranking factors takes into consideration whether the keyword is in the website name.
For example: If someone is looking for a virtual assistant then a website with virtual assistant in the website site will appear higher up. But there are so many other factors that Google takes into consideration.
If your site is a business website with a blog decide what image you would like to project and whether your advertising, documentation, and stationery will be effective with this name as its 'banner'.
Is it legal?
It is important that the name you choose is not unlawful and does not contain certain words and descriptions that are restricted.
If you are based in the UK there are restrictions named under the Business Names Act 1985 including such names as English, Group, Trust, Royal, etc. You will need to check these out.
You must also ensure the name you have chosen doesn't already exist.
Before selecting it check it's also available on Twitter and Facebook.
You can choose to buy your domain separately to ensure you get the domain name you really want. Then at a later date you can choose where to host it. I have used namecheap.com and 123.reg.
The better option is to go for a hosting company that offers a free domain and we will discuss this is in Step 4.
Take your time deciding on a domain name
Ask what people think on forums etc.
How much will a domain cost?
It all depends on the name but I personally wouldn't pay anymore than $20 per year. Some hosting companies offer a free domain with hosting packages.
Step 4 – Choose a hosting company
Choosing a hosting company where your blog is stored is important.
This can be a minefield and confusing. There are so many hosting companies out there.
A hosting company that is relatively cheap and offers a free domain name is Bluehost.
Step 5 – Install WordPress
Your hosting company will more than likely offer a one click install of WordPress which makes it so simple. Bluehost is a one click installation. Check out the screenshots below to see how easy it is to install.
Select install WordPress
Click on the Install Button
Select the domain that you want to install WordPress on
Add the site name and update the Admin Username and Password - then Install Now
It's as simple as that!
Step 6 – Choose a design
Gosh there's so much choice for designing a WordPress blog. WordPress.org has so many free WordPress themes for you to choose from.
There are also so many Premium WordPress themes but these cost money.
Designers are creating WordPress themes to specific needs.
For instance, if you want to offer painting services then you can purchase a theme designed around this such as the painting WordPress theme below:
Themeforest have over 40,000 themes and website templates. They are definitely worth checking out.
If you have any questions please ask them below and I will try to answer them.
I hope this beginners guide to start a blog has been helpful.
Good Luck with setting up your blog and check the next post on how to make money from your blog.