Are you thinking about starting a blog to support your business or make money from home? Have you wondered exactly how to start a successful blog or where to blog? It can be an overwhelming task to begin a blog, but there are a multitude of resources from other bloggers that can make learning how to start a successful blog easier. I was hesitant at first, but I’m so glad I took the leap and gave blogging a chance!
If you run a business, then creating a blog can help drive traffic to your site and build supplemental income along the way. It can be a valuable sales and relationship building tool.
If you are thinking about starting a blog for personal use, did you know you can still make money from it? Not only can it be a rewarding hobby, but some personal bloggers even make more than a full-time income doing it!
I had three primary reasons for learning how to start a successful blog:
- I love to write and publishing a blog allows me a frequent outlet for that creative passion.
- I have been served by reading and learning from the blogs of other moms as I walk through the journey of motherhood myself. I want to pass on things I am learning that might serve some other mom out there somewhere who is trying to navigate some of the very same things.
- I want to make money from my blog to support the hobby and contribute to my ability to stay at home with our daughter.
This series of posts, My Blogging Journey, focuses on my third reason – to make money from my blog. It seems fitting to begin the series with a simple outline of how to start a successful blog and set it up as a profitable pursuit. If you are thinking about creating a blog yourself, this is a tutorial on how to get your site up and running. It includes choosing where to blog (or selecting a domain host), wordpress site set-up basics, an overview of basic design needs, and how to get your first post published!
(This post contains does contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission on items or services that I’ve linked to if you purchase them. This helps to support my blogging journey and contribute toward my money-making goals. Please know I will never recommend anything that I don’t truly recommend! Read the full disclosure here.)
Learning how to start a successful blog is not as daunting as you may think! Below are 6 basic steps to get you publishing your first post and confidently entering the expansive blogging world.
How To Start A Successful Blog
1. Create & Buy Your Domain Name
Having a unique domain name is important if you want to start your blog so that it’s postponed to be able to make you money. For example, my domain name is learningmomma.com. It clearly identifies my target audience (mothers) and primary site content. It’s somewhat catchy and easy to remember. I suggest choosing a name that isn’t too long or difficult to spell so that it’s easy for readers to type and recall.
Equally important to determining what you want your blog to be called is figuring out where to blog, or who you want to host your domain name with. You can host your blog free through wordpress or other site managers, but it will be more difficult to link to your posts or establish individual credibility since your URL will then contain the tag of the site manager. If you are truly seeking to learn how to start a successful blog that can make you money, then I highly recommend that you choose a paid hosting service.
There are a lot of affordable web hosting companies out there that you can purchase and host your unique domain with, but I decided to use Bluehost to start mine. I have also heard really great things about SiteGround. (I didn’t realize it when I signed up with them, but Bluehost has a great affiliate program. That means that since I have signed up with Bluehost as an affiliate, I get a commission payment every time someone clicks on my link and signs up to host a domain with them! More on that in my next My Blogging Journey post – but also something to tuck away if you want to make money on your own blog!) As I mentioned Bluehost is not the only option, but they are heavily marketed because of their profitable affiliate program and I have been pleased with them so far. The cost is just $3.95 a month.
To get started setting up a domain with Bluehost:
- Click here and then click “Get Started Now” on the Bluehost home page. After that you will be directed to select your account option. (My site just uses Bluehost’s basic account option right now and I have been happy with it so far, but they also offer a plus and prime alternative.)
- After selecting your account option, type into the new domain box whatever it is you want the web address for your blog to be.
- Click “next” to enter your account information. (Note: Bluehost does charge you a lump fee for however many months you signup to host your site. I chose the 36 month plan to get the lowest monthly rate – and, since I’m in it for the long haul, now I don’t have to worry about payment for my site for another three years. You can choose as little as 12 months to begin with if you desire, but it will be a higher monthly rate.)
- Submit your payment information and your domain will be set-up and active. You will be ready to begin creating your site!
2. Link Your Domain Name To WordPress
You can create an account directly with WordPress and link it back to your new domain name, but Bluehost offers the ability to install WordPress directly from their login page. So on your Bluehost home screen, under the “website” heading, select “Install WordPress.”
From there you can enter the necessary WordPress information to access your site dashboard and begin the formatting of my site.
3. Pick A WordPress Theme For Your Site’s Design
The basic appearance and layout of your site with WordPress is determined by a theme that you select, so before configuring any other site items choose a theme for your blog.
You can find different options for your blog’s theme under the “Appearance” dashboard heading. There are premium themes that you can pay to use, or more basic ones (like mine) that are free to use and configure according to your needs. If my blog becomes profitable enough, at some point I may upgrade to a theme with more features, but for now my site is formatted using the free “Dara By Automattic”.
As you consider which theme to select in the process of learning how to start a successful blog, pay attention to how your theme looks on both a desktop and a mobile device. There is a toggle button for this within the theme selection portion of WordPress. I went through several themes initially that I really liked on desktop, but they didn’t translate well to a mobile device (which I know is where a large volume of readers access content)!
4. Create & Add A Logo To Your Blog
As you start your journey to learn how to start a successful blog, you will find that the branding of your site plays a role in how it is recognized and perceived by your readers. (You can read more about how to brand your site here.) If you are starting a business blog you probably already have a logo that uniquely identifies you, so you are already a step ahead! If you are starting a personal blog, consider what kind of simple design best represents your blog and style. For me it was a simple as a circle with initials inside that is easy to transfer to my blog images and easily recognizable on social media platforms.
If you do not already have a logo for your blog or business, I highly recommend using the free Canva to create one. You can also create a site icon there – which for me is just a single piece of my logo. (The site icon is what shows up in the URL entry box at the top of your web browser whenever your blog’s domain is typed and it sometimes appears when you paste links to your blog in other contexts.) I used Canva to easily create these graphics for my blog and I use it to create almost all of the images I use in my posts!
Below are examples of my logo and site icon created in Canva:
After you create a logo in Canva (or have your own already saved in a picture format) you can simply save it as a JPEG or PNG and upload it into your WordPress site so that it shows up in your header whenever someone visits your page. In WordPress navigate to “Customize” under the “Appearance” tab on the dashboard and selected “Site Identity.” Here you can upload your custom made logo and site icon for your blog. These help to give it a branded and professional appearance.
5. Add Visual Appeal To Your Blog
The visual appeal of a blog is something that you will probably be continually updating and tweaking as you learn how to start a successful blog. However, I recommend playing with several of your theme options to gain an understanding of how to build different pieces of your site and to understand the capabilities of your theme.
After uploading a logo and site icon, your theme may also allow you to add a header and/or background image under the “Appearance” dashboard tab. I added a custom background image that matched the color scheme of my site and tied into my motherhood focus.
Your theme likely will also allow you to configure menu options and sidebar/footer layouts. In my theme these options were found under the “Appearance” title in my dashboard. My main menu was configured using “Menus” under “Appearance” and my sidebar layout and content was added using the “Widgets” option under “Appearance”. With the widgets I added a text box and image for my “About Me” in the sidebar and pulled in a recent post menu for easy access to my most current content. Later I also added advertisements to the sidebar and footer through the widgets option (which you can learn about further in my post on Affiliate Marketing & Ads) and a sign-up box to subscribe to my Learning Momma emails.
There are lots of options to how you can configure your site identity and widgets under the “Appearance” tab. Every theme will also support different visual options. I recommend playing around and trying several until you find what works for your site!
6. Create Your First Post!
To create your first post simply click on the “Posts” tab on your WordPress dashboard screen and select “Add New.” A screen will open that allows you to title your post, add text and pictures, and create a category to apply to it. You can also preview all of your posts using the button on the upper right side of the new post screen before you publish them. This will allow you to see exactly how your post will appear on your site once you publish it.
Don’t be afraid to hit “Publish” on your first post! It can be scary but know that you can always add updates or make changes to it at any time – so you don’t have to have your content perfect to get your blog started!
My first post was just a short “About Me” blurb that can be found here. Since then I’ve published many posts that I’ve gone back to and updated several times as I’ve increased my own knowledge of how to start a successful blog. I’ve also continued to make formatting/visual changes to my site (and probably will still make more over time) and I’ve become more comfortable with how all of the image and menu options function over time. However, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to get my site up and running once I jumped in!
Obviously I didn’t bring any income in just from creating my blog. However, learning how to start a successful blog and setting up the basics like your domain name, hosting, and WordPress design are the first steps toward that goal.
If you want to learn more about how to actually make money from your blog you can read more about how I generate income from my site in my post on affiliate marketing and advertising.
I hope these steps are helpful to you if you are learning how to start a successful blog. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the details and just take one step at a time to build your site. You will learn so much as you go! And you truly don’t need to know all the ins and outs in order to begin your journey.