A lot of people are interested in starting a blog, but it can look intimidating at first glance.
There are lots of new terms and phrases to learn and various new platforms to become proficient with.
There is plenty of information available online, but here I will put together a basic step by step guide for anyone considering starting a blog.
For this guide we are going to assume that you already have a topic or niche chosen already.
Step 1 – Choose A Blog Name
The first and most important step is to choose a name for your blog.
The blog name can be related to your topic directly, such as the name for this website “what is affiliate marketing”, or it can be a more branded name.
An example of a branded name website would be Amazon. (The name does not mention it’s topic/niche which is online shopping).
There are merits for both sides of the coin when choosing a name.
Topic Based Name
Obviously a name that is topic/niche based is easy for a customer to remember and what you see is what you get as far as content.
The benefit of this is that such names tend to contain keywords which is a plus in terms of potential search engine results ranking.
Although not as big a factor as it used top be, it certainly does not hurt matters to have keywords in your blog name.
The minus to this aspect is that most of the top keyword rich domains are already owned by someone or are premium domains that can cost thousands of dollars to purchase.
There are also established websites that will already have quite a hold on search engine results due to site age, amount of content, trust and authority.
A branded name also has its plus and minus points.
A branded name can be a lot easier to rank top slot in search engines due to low competition.
If you choose a distinct branded name such as Amazon or Zillow (Real Estate site) then the chances of you having to battle for top slot for that term are small.
The fact that the brand name is usually very distinctive can make it easier for people to remember. (But in some cases they forget or confuse it with another name.)
The flip side of this is that no competition will initially mean low traffic until people actively search for your brand name.
If your name is a distinctive word, or set of words, then the chances of someone randomly typing in those words is minimal to say the least.
Branded name sites typically have to establish their following and reach potential site visitors via social media and online advertising campaigns.
When choosing a name for your blog be sure to have several options and combinations before you set your heart on one name.
I advise this simply because the name may not be available, a very expensive premium domain, or simply has a bad history.
*I will address bad history in another step below.
As I said, have several options or combinations available before progressing to the next step.
Step 2 – Research The Domain Name
In this part of the guide we will look at researching not only the availability of the name on domain registrars, but also on social media platforms.
We will also look at checking on the competition and history of the domain name online.
All of the parts of this step should be completed before purchasing the domain name.
Domain Name Availability.
The first thing you should do is to check the domain availability of your desired blog name.
The domain is the name of your your blog online.
For example, the name of this site is “what is affiliate marketing” and the domain name is “whatisaffiliatemarketing.com”
To find out availability, and to later purchase, you will need to visit an online domain name registrar.
The one I use, and probably the most famous, is GoDaddy.
I personally find them to be very reliable and their customer service to be very good in my experience.
There are plenty of registrars online so feel free to browse online and see which one you prefer.
Simply search for your desired blog name on GoDaddy or wherever and see if it is available.
Try to aim to make the extension “.com”
The extension can also be another variant, such as .org, .net, or a regional based extension such as .co.uk.
The common belief is that .com is usually the best extension to have just because that’s what most people are used to seeing.
But of course, any extension can work, and if your blog is for a business based in a specific region then it may be beneficial to use a relevant extension.
As mentioned earlier, do not purchase the domain until you have completed all of these steps.
If your chosen domain is not available, then check for similar names or other options until you find one you are happy with.
Check Social Media Availability.
The next part of this step is to check to see if the social media i.d.s are available for the name.
How you do this is actually very simple.
Go on to your chosen social media platforms and search for users with that name or anything close.
You can also do this by going on to a search engine such as google and typing the name of the social media platform and then type either user and then name or just the name.
So, if you were looking for this sites account on Twitter in search engines you would type “twitter whatisaffiliatemarketing” and you would find the account.
Do this for your chosen name and see if anyone has the profile name already.
This step is important because you want to have as much control as possible over your names online presence.
If people search for your blogs social media. You want them to find your accounts. Not someone else and their content.
Do not sign up for any social media until you have completed the steps in this guide first.
While you are searching for social accounts on search engines, you should also take time to see who is ranking top currently for the search query most appropriate for your blog.
In other words, type in just your blog name idea into a search engine and see what is coming up on the first page of results.
Take a look at the top 5 results and see what content they have ranking for that search term.
These sites are your direct competition, so it will be a good idea to see what you are up against.
Take a look at what they are talking about on the site and how they have designed the layout etc.
Also take a look at their social media and see how many followers they have and what they are talking about.
This will show you current topics of interest and also the level of interest in your chosen niche.
Also while doing all of the above, take time to see if there is any feedback about your top choice for domain name.
If you have a branded site then most likely there will be nothing, but if you have a keyword type domain in mind, it may have had a previous owner.
The previous owner may have done great things with the domain, not so great things, or nothing at all.
If there is bad feedback, check the dates and also what happened.
Perhaps the previous owner posted misleading or offensive content and people were outraged at the time.
If this is the case then consider the time frame and also what happened, because it may have been a long time ago or actually a storm in a tea cup and nothing too bad.
So long as it is nothing too bad, or too recent, then typically it is not the end of the world.
You can of course just choose another domain name, (this is why I said to wait on buying a domain etc) or you can just pin a blog post at top of your feed.
This blog post would announce the launch of your new site etc and anyone visiting your site would see it was under new ownership.
I always advise doing a little bit of research in order to make sure you start off your new blog without any skeletons in previous domain name owners closets.
Step 3 – Choose A Platform
In this part of the guide we will look at choosing the type of blogging platform you will use.
There are various blogging platforms available and most have both free and paid options.
As you would expect, paying for the service opens up a lot more tools and options not available for free, in most cases.
Some of the platforms also allow you to purchase domain names directly through their service and connect the domain name to your blog with ease due to integrated hosting.
Hosting is where the files for your blog are stored in order for them to be viewed online.
Some people choose to pay for hosting and others use their chosen blog platforms hosting services.
When looking at a blogging platform be sure to have a close look at what options and features they have in comparison to each other.
*I personally host my blogs within my chosen platform which I will go into more detail on below.
There are multiple well known and trusted blogging platform options available.
Here are a few of the most well known.
This site is built using WordPress.
I have tried various platforms and found this to be the one i find to be the best at meeting my requirements.
I like the other platforms and have had no negative experiences with their free trials etc, but found that WordPress was the best option for me.
I purchase my domains through GoDaddy, but my site and hosting are over at a platform I use called Wealthy Affiliate.
This platform is an all in one place for learning online marketing for both blogs and social media.
It also allows me to build my site in WordPress and host it all in one place.
They also have lots of video tutorials and articles about how to use WordPress to set up your site.
If you cant find a video or article to help you they also have a social media community built into the platform that allows you to interact with other users of the platform to ask for help.
What I like about WordPress is it’s flexibility and community support.
There are many useful tools,templates, and modifications available that are updated on a regular basis.
My advice is to take a look around at the various platforms and take advantage of any free trials they may have at the current time.
Try out the tools and see which one is the best fit for you.
Some of you may dislike WordPress and others will love it.
I personally will stay with WordPress unless something groundbreaking appears via another platform.
If you wish to take a look at WordPress for free and check out the Wealthy Affiliate platform at the same time, use the link below.
Step 4 – Layout and Theme
In this step we will look at choosing a layout according to your blogs criteria.
While you are looking around at the various platforms you should take a look at what templates they have available.
Templates, also known as themes, are the general layout of your website.
There are thousands of variants available and some are free and others are not.
The templates can usually be modified and will offer the user options for different layouts and other modifications.
Some platforms will be drag and drop WSYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) type editors and others will require a bit more work to modify the template to your liking.
Again, experiment to see which platforms and templates you like before committing to anything.
When choosing a template you should be looking for such factors as ease of navigation as priority over various bell and whistles.
Don’t get me wrong, some templates that are available are amazing and look awesome.
Bells and whistles make your site look awesome, but does it end up causing slow loading times, especially on mobile.
Sometimes more can be too much.
Aim to have your site look and perform how you want it to, but also bear in mind that people will click off slow loading sites if they take too long to load.
As stated at the beginning of this guide, you should already have a niche chosen for your blog, so take that into consideration when choosing a template.
A template may look cool, but does it fit your niche appearance wise?
If you are planning to be a more picture based blog, then you will consider different template layouts than if you were creating a text dominant blog.
Be sure to look at the features and layout of the templates your are interested in to ensure they are inline with your plans for your blog.
Step 5 – Blog Content Strategy
In this step we will look at planning your content creation and release schedule in advance.
Although it may seem odd to some of you to be planning content and a release schedule in advance of even buying a domain, there is a method to my madness.
One of the things you have to be sure of before committing to a domain name is simply this.
How much content can you truly create and how often?
Starting a blog is fantastic experience and can be very lucrative if successful.
It can be fun to set up the blog, tinker with the layouts, add content, promote it on social media, and see results.
It does however involve a degree of commitment.
Ask yourself this.
How often are you planning to post new content?
Once a day?
Once a week?
Once a month?
Coming up with new content is easy at first, but if you plan to post daily, can you guarantee an average of 30 pieces of content per month for years to come?
This is not to dampen enthusiasm.
Far from it.
This is simply my way of guiding you away from what kills a lot of blogs.
New and shiny syndrome.
When starting a blog, everyone, me included, is eager and enthusiastic about getting content up on their blog.
But, it is tempting, and common, for people to charge in hard in the early days with regards to posting content.
Don’t get me wrong I advise getting at least a few pieces of content on your blog as fast as possible.
In fact the more content you can create with a decent level of frequency, the better it is in my eyes.
It is however, very easy to charge in and post like crazy for a while before hitting a creative wall.
Generally, a lot of blogs post new content several times a week.
According to what projects I’m working on. I may post more frequently or less so.
With this blog for example, I have posted in batches, purely due to working on other projects.
Some of my other projects I work on daily without fail.
You as a beginner, should, in my opinion, give yourself a rough idea of content creation and scheduling by doing the following.
Get a pen and paper, then write down 50 content ideas.
Obviously according to your chosen niche, this may be easier for you than for people with other niches.
But the concept remains.
If you can write down 50 ideas for pieces of content then you would have several months of content for your blog at the rate of 3 pieces per week.
Some niches may enable someone to post multiple pieces of content per day with minimal research. (Perhaps an online shopping deal finder blog)
Others may require time to research, plan, create the content, and therefore would be difficult to post on a daily basis.
Use the exercise above to plan ahead your content ideas and then work out a time frame that you are comfortable with for creation and posting.
If you have 50 ideas and decide to spread that over 3 months, then you have 3 months to come up with another 50 ideas for the following 3 months.
Aim to create content that you think readers in your chosen niche will enjoy and share.
Do not churn out content just for the sake of posting. (This is why I advise the exercise above)
There will always be content that you create which you will like better than other pieces you may have created.
But if you know you have put time and effort into each one rather than rush some out just for the sake of posting.
You will know that you are creating quality content rather than creating rushed content just for the sake of having something to post.
Create content as best as you see for your niche and what readers expect.
Google and other search engines typically now give better rankings to articles of 2500 words on average in length.
(Hence why most of mine are long, but also to cover the topic at hand correctly)
If your niche readers prefer shorter content or picture based content, do not worry about writing long articles as much.
Simply because if that is what your readers expect and what all the competition in your niche is doing, well, why alter something that is already providing results for others?
Of course, always aim to provide the best content you can and try to outdo your competitors.
But do not create needless work for yourself or deter readers who expect content of a smaller size.
Step 6 – Promotion Strategy
In this step we will look at planning your promotion strategy and various social media platforms.
Again you may be wondering why you should consider this before even purchasing a domain.
The reason is, if you research what others are promoting, and what kind of success they are having, it can be influential on your choice of your domain name.
If your choice of domain name can take advantage of an established hashtag on social media, then it would also be beneficial for you take that into consideration.
Also if you research some hashtags related to your domain name and find few or zero results on social media, one of two things is happening.
The hashtag was never really pushed or didn’t take off when attempted by other posters or it could be open and ready for the taking.
Do not be scared to start your own hashtag on social media.
If people start using the hashtag when related to your niche, then guess what?
Any posts you have included the hashtag in, and by default your profile, will be in a lot of peoples social media feeds due to reposts and likes of posts containing your hashtag.
Your profile will lead them to your other posts that link to your blog and also to your blog link in your profile.
You will also attract followers by using hashtags correctly.
With that in consideration I’m sure you can see why I have advised every step of the way to complete all the steps before purchasing a domain for your blog.
When choosing which social media platforms to promote your blog on, you should do some research before getting too invested in a platform.
I did say earlier to make sure you control as many social media platform accounts with your blog name as possible.
This is to try and retain as much control as possible on content that may or may not be beneficial to your blog if someone else controls the accounts.
This is not to say that you need to put work into all of them.
There are far too many social media platforms now for a solitary blogger, or even small team of bloggers, to keep up with.
Under the assumption you are a solitary blogger. I advise actively working on perhaps three platforms.
Some people will disagree on this.
Some will say that you should do as many as you can and others will say you should focus on just one or two max.
I say three simply because if you choose your platform combination carefully they will work in unison to some degree and require less work than you may think.
For example, Let’s say you have a post based social media platform account such as Facebook, a picture based account such as Instagram, and a short post platform like Twitter.
You can write an article and post it to your blog.
You can then write a post on Facebook relating to the article and include a link to the blog post in the Facebook post.
You can then change the blog site link in your Instagram profile to the specific article or even to the Facebook post and post a pic from the article on Instagram.
In the text section attached to the picture post you can then mention the article and tell the reader the link is in your bio.
On Twitter, you can tweet out links directly to both the Facebook post, and the main blog article.
The other aspect is to research how much of your target customers are on this platform.
Any niche can be on almost any platform, but some niches potential customers may be found in more abundance on certain platforms.
For example, a lot of fitness people tend to be found on Instagram more than other platforms.
Although they have multiple platforms, you will notice they seem to focus on Instagram most.
Other niches are found in concentrations on Facebook etc.
So be sure to research if there is an established community on the platform that you can tap into.
You can of course start a niche presence on a platform from scratch, or at least centralize the few current potential customers and build from there.
*This can be done, so do not think that it’s impossible, but it is far beyond the scope of this article to go into detail on.
When you are looking at social media platforms to in order to prioritize which ones you will focus on, take the following into consideration.
What kind of content will you need to produce?
As I mentioned, some platforms are picture based and others are more text based.
We have established above on how it is wise to have a content creation strategy. It will be the same for your social media content.
Sure, on some platforms you can just leave a short post and a link.
But rest assured, the posts that get the most attention contain pictures or video.
Leaving video aside for a moment, pictures, memes, and infographics usually get far more attention than a few short words and a link.
If you wish to capitalize upon this you will need to have pictures,memes, and infographics ready to post to help promote your blog.
This will also require you to have ideas and time to fuel this alongside creating blog content such as articles.
Be sure to take a look at social media posts in your niche to see what kind of posts are performing best via like and share counts.
If you can see that infographics are performing well, then you should really set aside time to create them and capitalize upon the established success on that platform.
Another platform may require your niche to post article type content in order to see success on there.
Take a look and see what you think are the best platforms for your blog niche.
Again I suggest writing down a few ideas using this method.
Look at your previous list of 50 ideas and see how many ideas for social media content you can come up with for each one.
Then note them next to the idea that inspired them on the original 50 list.
This will help you see what kind of cool ideas you have for promotion and also what kind of work load you are up against.
Plus the cool part to me.
Ideas tend to inspire ideas.
The more you do exercises like that, the more ideas you seem to get.
There are plenty of methods available to promote your blog aside from social media.
There is of course search engine ranking results.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of creating content to a criteria based on the current search engine algorithms.
The algorithm is basically the criteria that search engines such as Google use to see which sites and their pages are more relevant to the readers.
The idea behind this is that anyone searching for a specific term is looking for the best and most reliable information available.
Google has a criteria that compares each and every page to each other and the most relevant according to that criteria will be ranked as first on the result page for that search.
This means that the page deemed most relevant will hold the top results which is where the majority of search engine users will click to find the information they requested.
Top results in search engines equals traffic (readers/site visitors) for your blog.
Traffic equals money if your blog is correctly monetized.
It can be your own product, affiliate links, ad revenue, or whatever ways you have monetized your blog.
Traffic equals revenue.
More traffic equals more revenue.
If you have implemented social media accounts, then of course more search engine traffic can equal more people deciding to follow you on social media.
Always add follow and share social media icons on your blog content.
This gives people the opportunity to do exactly that.
Follow you on social media and to share your content with their followers. Which, as I’m sure you have guessed, means more traffic.
We all know what traffic equals don’t we folks?
Search Engine is a very detailed and ever evolving topic. Below I will show you where to learn and stay up to date with this crucial part of blogging.
Do not be afraid to be creative in finding ways to promote your blog!
If you think of an idea that you think may work, then try it!
If it works then great!
If not, no worries, learn from the experience and apply that to your next attempts at promotion.
If you are interested in more ways of promoting your blog then follow this site on social media and stay informed when new information is posted.
(See, I do actually practice what I preach)
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When starting a blog it is important to consider all of these steps before committing to a blog domain and social media accounts.
After doing some research as advised above, you may find a better idea for your blog name or simply tweak it a little and increase your chances of success.
Starting a blog is a fantastic and potentially lucrative venture.
It does take work to start and maintain, but the sense of accomplishment alone is very rewarding once you are established.
Traffic comes over time,so you must be patient and not get disheartened at the beginning.
Blogging is very much a marathon and not a sprint.
Plan ahead, research, and create content with an overall framework in mind.
If you have completed those steps above and feel confident about your choice of blog domain name, have your platform chosen and your social media strategies ready.
It is time to take the plunge and get everything started by buying a domain name.
I wish you the best of luck and hope you find great success!
Hopefully you have enjoyed this article and found some use for the information contained within.
Please consider following on social media and perhaps even sharing this article/site with your followers.
It would be greatly appreciated and I may just return the favor for your blog content along the way.
Visit the Archive for more information on setting up a blog and online marketing topics such as SEO, Social Media, etc.