How To Start a Blog in 5 EASY Steps – [Updated for 2021]
→ a Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners ←
The popularity of starting your own blog has gone viral – it’s more popular than ever, to start a blog, monetize it for making money, as a good side income – OR, maybe even a thriving online business.
You too can create your own blog – and here’s how!
How to Start a Blog (and Make Money) in 5 Easy Steps:
5 Steps Needed to Start a Blog – Table of Contents:
- Find Your Blog’s Domain Name – this will be the name of your blog
- Purchase Your Web Hosting Account – this will be the home for your WordPress blog
- Choose your Theme & Plugins – create the visual design/functionality of your blog
- Get to Know WordPress – we will explore some of the main features of your blog
- Write Your First Blog Post – turn your ideas into shareable blog articles
Ready to Get Started? → Click this Link for a 60% off Discount Coupon for Web Hosting ←
– If you want to skip the Introduction to Blogging, then Click Here to move on to Step 1.
– If you want to learn more about blogging, the different blogging platforms, how to choose a Topic for your blog, choose your domain name, then continue reading.
What is a Blog – AND Why is There So Much Hype Around Blogging?
The word Blog is short for Web Log… it is a website that holds content entries listed in reverse chronological order.
The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17th, 1997. The short form, “blog”, was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999 ~ Wikipedia.
The original idea behind the creation of the WebLog was to create an Online Diary that a person could write daily entries.
The Blogs of today are websites that focus on written content, also known as blog posts. There are many sites in cyberspace that you would have never known are an actual blog.
Bloggers will usually write on a personal level, which will allow them to connect with their readers.
The majority of blogging platforms will have a Comments section where the reader can interact with the writer or other readers of the blog. Interacting with your readers via the comments section will help further your connection with your audience.
This connection with your audience is one of the main benefits to starting a blog. It will allow the site owner to interact and share ideas with other like-minded readers… it will also build a trusting relationship and loyalty from your audience which will open the door for making money from your site.
I’m here to show you that you can start, and have a successful blog on virtually any topic.
Worried that You’re NOT a Techie?
Not a problem!
The majority of bloggers don’t understand the First Byte of programming language. The developers of the blogging platforms know this and have created the CMS (Content Management System) to be super user-friendly.
So user-friendly that my mother, at age 76, used to operate a WordPress-based blog for her Bed and Breakfast, which has since been sold.
What’s the reason I am telling you about my mother’s blog? To let you know how easy it is to operate one.
You see… my mother is the type of person that can open her laptop, turn it on and login to her email account, all without any curse words spoken… well, sometimes.
Starting a Blog can be one of the easiest ways to build your own website – And, it is very quick, easy and inexpensive to set up.
How do I get started?
I know that starting a blog can appear overwhelming and intimidating to say the least, but with today’s computers and the Internet, anything is possible.
Creating your own blog has never been easier, a few clicks of the mouse, minutes later, there’s your website.
Whether you are 12 years old or 82 years young, you can have your own blog up and running in no time. And, I’m here to show you how easy it actually is.
I promise… it will be simple, I hate the Technical Jargon too!
Thoughts on Creating your Brand
One of the misconceptions about having a blog is that you need to be a great writer to be successful.
People scour the Internet in search of blog sites that have a personal perspective about certain subjects, so the majority of bloggers write in a very informal setting, and laid back conversation style of writing.
The other misconception is that you need to be an expert on the topic of your choice in order to have a successful blog. Readers are looking for authenticity in writing styles. They are looking for the person that has been there, done that, mistakes and all.
When it comes to choosing your blog’s niche, there are a few key questions to ask yourself.
Do I Enjoy This Topic?
If you don’t have a love for the subject you choose, it’s going to show in your writing style.
Whatever topic you pick, you will need to have a natural curiosity for it, if not, running out of ideas to write about – is going to become your reality.
Most importantly, you won’t be able to consistently create content that will build your audience.
Do I Have a Passion for This Topic?
Passion is key when it comes to sharing your knowledge with the world. Choosing a topic that you are passionate about makes the process of creating a successful blog, and making some money from it, much easier.
As long as you are writing about topics that you are genuinely interested in, your passion will shine through, and keep your readers interested, which in turn will create a group of loyal followers.
If you want to build your own blog site, you should find the passion that burns within you!
Ask yourself the following questions…
- Can I talk about this topic for years to come?
- Do I feel an excitement about helping people on this subject?
- Is this topic something I think about often?
- Can this blog become my life’s work?
Remember that no idea, no matter how good, is truly unique.
But, you have one thing others don’t have… unique experiences. You also have a voice like no other, along with a personality that will attract others similar to you.
Are There Other Blogs Doing What You Wanna Do?
Of course, there are… one thing to keep in mind is that if there are others out there doing what you want to do, that shows that there is a market for it.
Do a quick Google search and you will probably find a half a million websites using the same topic as you are interested in.
The Blogging Platforms
One of the biggest mistakes the newbie blogger makes is choosing the wrong blogging platform for their site.
If you have an interest in creating your own blog to monetize it and create a passive income, do some freelance work similar to coaching or a virtual assistant, or maybe even turn it into a business to sell your own products, then it makes more sense to use WordPress.org, which is known as self-hosted WordPress.
Why you ask? It’s free, you can install virtually any type of Free Apps, which are called plugins, customize your site design, and most importantly, make money from your blog without any restrictions.
If you have the interest in making some money with your blog, then I would suggest that you Do NOT waste your time with Blogger, Weebly, Wix or WordPress.com.
Remember, you are an Entrepreneur now, a Professional. Act like one and use the software that successful people use, not the cheapy, hobbyist version.
Here’s why… commercial platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com usually begin with a free version and begin to sell you on upgrades, which are very limited.
– In fact, your website’s address name will end up with something ugly and unprofessional like yoursitename.blogger.com or yoursitename.wordpress.com.
– Also, with their platforms, you will only be able to use their small amount of plugins and tools, which are very limiting.
Long story short… If you want to have full control and full functionality of your site, own your own domain name, etc., then stay away from the commercial platforms.
And – this is worth repeating and important to understand – these commercial platforms own your site and control your content. They can choose to change the rules or shut you down at any time.
Being on one of their platforms is similar to renting an apartment compared to owning your own home. With an apartment, you are at the whim of the landlord, compared to owning your own home and being in complete control of what you do with your property.
Obviously, you should own your own blog, so commercial platforms are an absolute NO-GO for launch!
I personally recommend being self-hosted using the FREE software available on WordPress.org.
WordPress is not just your typical blogging tool, it is highly flexible and very easy to use. It does not require any understanding of complex coding or any other scripting knowledge.
Even better… it is an open-source project software, meaning it is completely FREE! It is a non-profit software platform which uses the extension WordPress.org.
As the screenshot below shows, this is the industry standard of today, used by millions.
Image Courtesy of BuiltWith.com
One cool thing about the WordPress platform is that there are 1000’s of mostly Free plugins, offered through WordPress.org. These plugins are not available on the commercial platforms I mentioned above.
To get started, you will just need to pay a few dollars per month for web hosting, but the income that you will generate will eventually make up for any expenses incurred.
Starting your very own WordPress blog is much more simple than you think…
So, lets get started…
Step 1: Finding Your Blog’s Name – Your Domain
Your domain name is what people will type in the browser address bar to get to your website. It’s your website’s address on the internet.
This will become your identity for many years and define your blog and what you stand for.
Although this is an exciting part of the process, don’t spend too much time on your domain name, because you can always change it later.
A couple of things to consider when choosing your domain name… is it brand-able and is it user-friendly? In other words, is it easy to pronounce, remember and spell?
If you are having trouble coming up with a name, you can use the domain name generator tool like NameStation to produce a lot of ideas at once.
Once you find a domain name that interests you, use one of the links below to see if your chosen name is available.
If the name you want to use is available, you can buy it from the registrar, or register it through your web hosting account which will save you some time (recommended).
NOTE: If you buy your domain through a registrar like GoDaddy, you will need to redirect your new domain name to your hosting account, which could take upwards of 24 hours to take place. If you register it with your hosting account, you can begin working on your blog right away.
If your name is not available, use the links above to try and find a variation that works. One thing to keep in mind is to go for a ‘.com‘ extension if you can; and also, do your absolute best to avoid dashes between words in your domain, the search engines don’t like them.
If you still cannot come to terms with a domain name, don’t let that stop you. Find a name that you can be happy with for the moment, then change it down the road when you find your dream name.
If you haven’t already done so, attempt to buy your personal name in a ‘.com‘ extension.
Next Up – Finding a Home for Your Site…
Step 2: Choosing Your WordPress Web Hosting Plan
If you haven’t heard of “Web Hosting” before, it’s a storage space for your website. A Web hosting company is an organization that leases memory space on its servers.
You will be paying a small fee to keep your blog up and running on the Internet.
Keep it simple and cheap. Sign up with shared hosting.
What’s the Most Cost-Effective – Officially Recommended by WordPress.org – with a customer satisfaction rating at 98% – Hosting for WordPress?
They are one of the top recommended WordPress providers by WordPress.org.
- Trained WordPress experts with 24/7 support
- A 30 day money back guarantee
- A FREE SSL (HTTPS) to encrypt your blog (so Google knows it can be trusted)
- DAILY Backups – Your site is backed up daily (so you will never lose any of your data)
- A FREE Content Delivery Network (CDN) so your site loads fast from anywhere in the world ($9.99 month if purchased on your own)
- FREE eMail accounts for your business
I personally use SiteGround, because:
- SiteGround is Engineered for Speed, Built for Security, and Optimized for WordPress
- Your site will run faster than most other hosts (which is a big deal to Google)
- Their support agents are available 24/7 by Phone, Chat or Ticketing support
There are cheaper hosting companies, but they don’t include a FREE CDN, eMail accounts, and daily backups of your site.
And, they ARE NOT known to be as Frustration-Free and Trouble-Free like SiteGround.
Remember the old saying… “You Get What You Pay For!”
If you want to get started now and save BIG on web hosting, you can get it for as little as $6.99 a month, through my partner link below.
To be honest, you really don’t need any fancy web hosting at this stage. Once you have over 10,000 visitors per month, you can consider upgrading, and SiteGround will scale with you.
Once you land on SiteGround’s site – choose your plan
Once you’ve chosen your plan, enter your domain – this is where you can register your domain – as previously mentioned.
Where it says, “I already have a domain,” that means you have it registered (purchased) somewhere else like GoDaddy.com.
Add Your Account Information
Add Your Payment Information
Choose Your Hosting Services Plan – if you decide to change your plan to the next one higher, click the gray button next to the word ‘Startup‘.
Same with the Data Center – choose the one closest to where you live.
For the Extra Services – it’s not necessary, and you can always add it at anytime, down the road, if you choose.
But, if you are up for the most security possible for your site, go for it!
Confirm that you have read the Terms and Conditions – Click PAY NOW!
Now that You Have Your Hosting – It’s Time for the Next Step
Creating Your Blog – Installing WordPress
Time to Install: 5 Minutes
To install WordPress using the SiteGround Wizard, first you will need to access your Customer Area.
After you signed up for your WordPress hosting package you should have received all the necessary information you need to login via the email you typed into the form.
When you login to your Customer Area for the first time, you will see a pop-up asking you if you want to Start a New Website on your account. Select that option and click on the WordPress button.
A new section will appear where you should enter the login information for your new WordPress application.
You will enter your preferred email address, a good username, and a strong password.
NOTE: For security purposes, don’t use ‘admin‘ (which is the default name) as your username. This is a target for hackers. Once you are ready click on the Confirm button.
Next, choose what Enhancements you wish to add to your account – if you want to add any. When you are done with this step – click on the Complete Setup button.
That’s it… you are all set up ready to go with WordPress!
You can now go to the front page of your site by clicking on the ‘Proceed to Customer Area’ button, and check out the newly installed WordPress application.
But… Before You Do!
Did you register your domain name with SiteGround while signing up for Web Hosting? If so, you are good to go, no further steps are needed – Follow the link to move onto Step 3. Choosing a WordPress Theme & Plugins.
If your domain name is registered with another source like GoDaddy.com, you will need to point the Nameservers from your domain registrar to the SiteGround server.
It sounds complicated, but it is super-simple to do.
I’ll use the example for GoDaddy.com.
Virtually any registrar is similar to GoDaddy. If it’s not obvious when you log into another registrar account, you will need to contact their support to help you point your domain to SiteGround.
For now, let’s walk you through pointing your domain for a GoDaddy.com account.
If your domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, head on over there now.
NOTE: If your domain is not registered with them, follow along with the instructions below to get an idea for what you need to do with whomever you have your domain registered with.
Go ahead and log in to GoDaddy…
The first page should be your Products.
Find your domain name and click on the ‘DNS’ button.
The DNS Management page should appear as follows.
What you’ll want to do is to scroll down the page until you see Nameservers.
Click on the Change button.
After clicking on the Change button, you will then need to “Choose your new nameserver type,” by clicking on the drop-down box as indicated by the orange arrow in the image below.
Choose ‘Custom‘ from the drop-down… this will open the following window to where you will add your custom nameservers from SiteGround, as indicated by the arrows at the bottom left.
For your next action, you will want to open a new tab or window and navigate to your SiteGround cPanel. Login to your cPanel which should look similar to the following image.
As you will see when you login to your SiteGround cPanel, the nameservers will be right in front of you as indicated by the orange arrow.
With your mouse, highlight and copy each individual nameserver and paste them in the nameservers box as shown in the above GoDaddy image.
When you are finished adding the nameservers in the box as indicated by the above image, click on the Save button.
It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 24 hours for the Nameservers to find their way to the SiteGround server, but your part is done.
If something unexpected were to happen during your setup with SiteGround, contact their Technical Support (you will need to be logged in to get their help).
Talking to a person by phone would be better than using the chat window, all for the reason that you can have the person on speaker phone walking you through a process.
If you live in the United States, you can call 1.866.605.2484. SiteGround will have access to your account which will help solve any issues you may have.
The Techie Stuff is Over – Time to Be Creative with Your Site…
It’s Time for the Visual Design of your Blog…
Step 3: Choosing a WordPress Theme & Plugins
Now that you’ve got the installation complete, it’s time to start designing the look and feel of your new site.
Let’s start with your WordPress theme…
What’s a WordPress Theme?
If you are not familiar… a WordPress Theme is: a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface design for a Blog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site looks and functions, without modifying the underlying software.
Now, for the non-techie version. A Theme is the “Face” of your blog. It’s the overall, what I call, look and feel of your website. It’s what your visitor’s will first see when they come to your site.
One of the greatest parts of owning a self-hosted WordPress site is that you have full control in virtually every aspect of what you do with your site. You can change what it looks like, how it functions, improve on its performance, or virtually anything else you can imagine.
Here’s one of the main problems with a site that is so versatile… plain and simple, too many choices!
Right now, the subject we are on, is a Theme for your site, and there are thousands upon thousands of them to choose from.
If you were not born with a tech gene, you are going to want to look for a theme that is adaptable and easy to work with… what I call, user-friendly.
Before we begin, let me be clear about one thing… the content that you write on your blog matters more than anything else.
It wouldn’t matter if your site is one of the ugliest on the Internet, if you have great content, you will get repeat visitors.
The opposite is also true… you can have the most beautiful site on the planet, but if the content sucks, your visitors will say to themselves, hmm… beautiful site, then turn tail and run, never to come back.
That said, you have a couple of options when choosing a theme, the Free version or the Paid version.
A Free theme can give you a basic beginning.
A good place to start would be the Free themes that WordPress.org recommends. They have a large collection of themes, with the option to upgrade to the premium, paid version.
For most newbies, this is more than enough to get the ball rolling, especially if money is tight.
If you are like me, you will not want to spend a bunch of time learning one theme, then down the road, deciding to upgrade and having to learn another. I have always been the type of person to find a happy medium, as it’s said.
The Premium WordPress Themes
So… when I first started blogging in 2009, I decided to invest in a premium theme… one that I can learn and grow with.
One of the greatest advantages of owning a premium theme is the support you get, if you need it.
On that note… let’s start with the Simplest Option: Elegant Themes.
The Cost: $89 (87 Themes to choose from plus Marketing plugins, all for the 1 Price)
Here are the Elegant Theme highlights
- Divi Theme, the most popular WordPress Theme on the planet ~ BuiltWith.com
- Divi comes with a visual drag & drop page builder – design anything you can imagine
- Monarch software – a Social Sharing plug-in that’s customizable and looks great
- Bloom software – a simple, yet functional APP for building your email list
- Extensive Library of Video and Written Tutorials for every module of your themes and plugins
- The Divi theme receives regular updates and support, making it easy to stay secure
This may seem like a high cost right now, but the clear advantage of Elegant Theme’s and their Marketing plugins are that they are an ‘All-in-One’ package price.
Elegant Themes, Divi in particular, are the perfect package (The Ultimate Toolkit) to get your online business up and running. It’s the main reason they have become the most popular company building themes on the market, with over 500,000 paying customers, and counting.
If you decide to head on over to check out Divi, be sure to watch the video on the Elegant Themes Home page.
The bottom line:
If you are wanting the most user-friendly solution that will last you for years, and doesn’t require the tech gene, then Elegant Themes are your ticket to Stardom.
You can check them out Here.
Another premium theme supplier that many popular bloggers use and come highly recommended, is StudioPress. Like ElegantThemes, StudioPress themes are professional and designed for speed and beauty as well.
The Free WordPress Themes
Next… let’s walk you through the second option… the Free WordPress.org Themes.
To start, log into your blog if you haven’t done so already.
While in your dashboard, click on the ‘Appearance‘ link, then the ‘Themes‘ link.
Once you get onto the Themes page, click on the ‘Add New‘ button as shown by the arrow.
On this page you will find the Featured themes that WordPress is recommending.
You can click on any preview at any theme, or go one step further and filter your search for a theme to match your certain criteria, by clicking on the link as shown by the orange arrow.
On this next page you can choose different features and layouts to narrow down your search.
Once you’ve check-marked the boxes that you want, click on the Apply Filters button to bring up the available themes with this criteria.
Once your page is brought up, click on any image that suits your fancy to see the available preview.
If you like what you see, and you would like to install this theme, click on the Install button at the upper left corner of the browser window.
To activate the theme you just chose, click on the Appearance link > Themes link.
Once on this page, hover over the image of the theme that you would like to active, and click on the button.
To customize your theme, click on Appearance > Customize. This will bring up a box on your left side with a menu of areas for customizing. Just play around with the different links and it will show a live preview of your changes.
Something to keep in mind… each theme will have different customizing links. If you don’t like what you see, go back to the Add New area in your Themes page and search for other themes to play around with until you find one that you can work with.
Installing WordPress Plugins
Now that you have your theme figured out, it’s time to continue the customization process using WordPress plugins.
A plugin is an Add-On feature for your website that implements code within your blog to create a specific function.
With 50,000+ FREE WordPress plugins available, there are plugins for everything you can imagine, from search engine optimization, to tracking visitors to your site using Google analytics, to contact forms, to collecting emails from your readers.
The problem is, the Internet is littered with articles about “Essential” and “Must-Have” plugins, which can cause overwhelm for the newbie blogger.
When a new blogger is excited about all the options available, they will install TOO MANY plugins, which will slow their new site to a crawl.
So, to help you cut through the Internet overwhelm – here is my list of essential plugins that will cover all the categories needed to help you get your business up and running.
9 Essential WordPress Plugins to Get Your business Up and Running
- Akismet Antispam – Protect Your Site from Spam
- Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Site Security
- W3 Total Cache – Performance Caching
- UpdraftPlus – FULL Site Backup
- MonsterInsights – Google Analytics Dashboard
- WPForms – Contact Form
- SocialWarfare – Social Sharing
- Rank Math SEO – Total Search Engine Optimization
- Thrive Leads – Email List Building
1. Protect Your Blog from Spam (Akismet Anti-Spam)
Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.
You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
2. Firewall & Malware Site Security (Wordfence Security)
Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect WordPress.
Their Threat Defense Feed, arms Wordfence with the newest firewall rules, malware signatures and malicious IP addresses required to keep your website safe.
Rounded out by 2FA and a suite of additional features, Wordfence is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.
- WORDPRESS FIREWALL – Web Application Firewall identifies and blocks malicious traffic. Built and maintained by a large team focused 100% on WordPress security
- WORDPRESS SECURITY SCANNER – Malware scanner checks core files, themes and plugins for malware, bad URLs, backdoors, SEO spam, malicious redirects and code injections
- LOGIN SECURITY – Two-factor authentication (2FA), one of the most secure forms of remote system authentication available via any TOTP-based authenticator app or service
3. WordPress Performance Plugin (W3 Total Cache)
W3 Total Cache (W3TC) improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing load times by leveraging features like content delivery network (CDN) integration and the latest best practices.
W3TC is the only web host agnostic Web Performance Optimization (WPO) framework for WordPress trusted by millions of publishers, web developers, and web hosts worldwide for more than a decade. It is the total performance solution for optimizing your WordPress Website.
Note: If you set up your account with SiteGround, as your web host (as recommended), the W3 Total Cache plugin is not necessary. SiteGround comes with its own caching plugin, and it takes only a few minutes to set it up.
4. Backup Plugin (UpdraftPlus)
UpdraftPlus simplifies backups and restoration. It is the world’s highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin, with over two million currently-active installs.
Backup your files and database into the cloud and restore with a single click!
Backup into the cloud directly to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 (or compatible), UpdraftVault, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, DreamObjects, Openstack Swift, and email.
5. Google Analytics Dashboard (MonsterInsights – Google Analytics Dashboard)
We believe that it’s easy to double your traffic and sales when you know exactly how people find and use your website. MonsterInsights shows you the stats that matter, so you can grow your business with confidence.
MonsterInsights has over 2 million active installs, showing the popularity of this Google Analytics plugin for WordPress.
This free Google Analytics plugin shows you all of your relevant information directly inside your WordPress dashboard.
All you need to do is connect the plugin to your Google Analytics account to find out which articles are grabbing the most attention and how long the reader stays on your site.
Sign up for your free Google Analytics account right here.
6. Contact Form (WPForms Lite)
We believe that you shouldn’t have to hire a developer to create a WordPress contact form. That’s why we built WPForms, a drag & drop WordPress form builder that’s EASY and POWERFUL.
WPForms allows you to create beautiful contact forms, feedback form, subscription forms, payment forms, and other types of forms for your site in minutes, not hours!
7. Social Sharing Plugin (Social Warfare)
Get more social shares which can lead to more website traffic with the best WordPress social sharing plugin! Built by a group of social media marketing experts and world class developers who are obsessed with performance. Learn more at Warfare Plugins.
Most WordPress social sharing plugins slow down your site, are not attractive, and don’t work the way you would hope. Social Warfare share buttons are both lightning fast and beautiful.
Not only will it never slow down your website like other sharing plugins, we give you the most attractive share buttons available that look great no matter what screen size or resolution.
8. BEST WordPress SEO Plugin (Rank Math SEO)
SEO is the most consistent source of traffic for any website. Rank Math was created to help every blog owner get access to the SEO tools they need to improve their SEO and attract more traffic to their website.
For the longest time, I was a die-hard YOAST SEO plugin fan. I recently changed over to Rank Math and am more impressed with it than virtually any plugin I use.
If you happen to use Yoast SEO plugin on your site, Rank Math has a 1-Click import feature. With a single click of your mouse, Rank Math can import all your settings from Yoast SEO & Yoast SEO Premium. The transfer is instant, and you don’t lose any SERP rankings as a result.
Rank Math has an Easy-to-Follow Setup Wizard that practically configures itself. Rank Math features a step-by-step installation and configuration wizard that sets up SEO for WordPress perfectly.
Rank Math has so many powerful features that, if I were to list all the abilities of Rank Math, this page would be another 3 feet long.
Way to many to list – you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
9. Email List Building Plugin (Thrive Leads)
Here Are 4 Big Benefits:
- Design & Deploy – Thrive Leads combines every type of opt-in form you need in one single plugin and gives you a simple drag-and-drop editor to create the perfect design every time
- Advanced Targeting – Get a massive conversion boost by showing relevant, highly targeted offers to your visitors based on posts, categories, tags and more. Build hyper-targeted and profitable lists
- A/B Testing Engine – Thrive Leads comes with a highly advanced but very easy to use A/B testing feature. Easily increase your conversions and use the plugin to automatically increase your conversion rate
- Actionable Reporting & Insights – Thrive Leads gives you a simple overview over the most important metrics. See exactly how your opt-in forms are performing over time and where your most valuable traffic comes from
The Thrive Leads plugin is not free. It costs $67 on its own, or you can choose the $19 per month (paid annually), which would get you immediate access to ALL 10 of their amazing Thrive Themes plugins. It is definitely worth checking into.
If cost is a concern, consider the free version of Sumo, which has some great features, but includes company branding.
Visit the ThriveThemes site to see the forms you have at your disposal.
108,759 – Enthusiastic Users Can’t Be Wrong…
Here are some of the features:
- Drag & Drop Contact Form Builder
- Pre-built Form Templates
- Mobile Ready, SEO Friendly and Optimized for Speed
- All the Fields & Features that You Need to Succeed
- Surveys & Polls
- Membership and Default WordPress Forms
- Easy to Customize and Extend
- Payment Form, Donation Form, Booking Form, and More
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
Now that you have recommended WordPress plugins to get you started – let’s walk you through installing them.
Installing a WordPress plugin is simple.
Under the ‘Plugin‘ tab, click on the link, ‘Add New‘.
Once you get to the ‘Add Plugins‘ page, you will have 2 different options for installing a plugin.
You will either:
- Search for a FREE Plugin – You can enter the name of the plugin you’d like to install in the ‘Search Plugins…‘ field (this will show you FREE Plugins from the WordPress repository), OR…
- Upload a 3rd Party Plugin – You will click the ‘Upload Plugin‘ button if you purchased a 3rd party plugin like ThriveLeads
Option 1 – Searching for a FREE WordPress.org Plugin
Once you’ve entered the name of the plugin you are searching for, the page will refresh itself showing you the plugin, along with other plugins with a similar function.
Next, click on the ‘Install Now‘ button as shown below.
Option 2 – Installing a 3rd Party Plugin
To upload a 3rd party plugin to your WordPress blog, you will need to:
- Click on the ‘Upload Plugin‘ button from the ‘Add Plugins‘ page
- Click on the ‘Choose File‘ button as shown below and grab the file from your computer
- Once your file shows next to the ‘Choose File’ button, click on the ‘Install Now‘ button
Activating Your WordPress Plugin
There will be one more step to get your WordPress plugin to function – you must Activate the plugin.
Whether it’s a FREE WordPress plugin or a 3rd party plugin that you uploaded, the function is the same.
You can activate the plugin directly after you Install it, by clicking on the ‘Activate‘ button as shown below.
If you happen to be on the ‘Installed Plugins‘ page, you can click on the Activate link as shown below.
Step 4: Getting to Know WordPress
During your sign up with SiteGround, you were given a WordPress admin username and password, which you should have also received in an email.
It’s time to log into your WordPress blog and have a look around.
To get to your login page, type ‘YourDomainName.com/wp-admin‘ or just copy and paste the link you received in your email. Of course, changing ‘YourDomainName.com‘ to your blog’s domain name.
Next, you will enter your username and password.
The next screen you see will be your WordPress Dashboard.
This is the control center for your WordPress blog.
On the left of your screen, you will see a black vertical sidebar with many options.
The default color of your dashboard will be a black sidebar… if you want to change the color similar to the screenshot above, click on ‘Users‘ from your sidebar, then ‘Your Profile‘, then click on any of the ‘Admin Color Scheme‘ options to see what is offered.
If you like the color you chose, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘Update Profile‘ button. Wa-La!
If you just can’t wait any longer to see what your site looks like right now, live on the Internet, click on your blog’s name in the upper left hand corner as shown in the screenshot below.
Clicking on this link from your dashboard will give you the finished look of your site. It will be what others see live on the Internet when they enter your domain name or click on a link from a search or elsewhere, like social media.
Right now, your blog looks very plain. Keep in mind that this is the plain Jane, default theme that comes with WordPress, but that will soon change once we install a WordPress theme of your choice in the next step.
To return to your dashboard, click on your blog’s name in the upper left-hand corner and choose Dashboard from the drop-down menu. Pretty simple huh?
NOTE: The black bar you see at the top of your blog will not be seen by your visitor – only by you when you are logged into your dashboard.
For now, let’s talk about some basic WordPress functions, and not worry too much about your design.
If you haven’t gone back to your dashboard already, click on your blog’s Name > Dashboard to navigate back to your control center.
WordPress Posts and Pages
Let’s begin with the meat of your blog… Posts and Pages.
A Post is a blog article which, when you have multiple articles, will be listed in reverse chronological order on your site.
Your posts will usually come with a Date, Comments and Author link directly under the title of your article, which will give your reader some basic information when, and by whom the article was created, and how many comments the article has received.
A Page is static… a few examples would be: About the Author page, Contact Form page, Terms of Service or maybe even your Home page if you choose to set your blog up that way.
If you were to click on the ‘Posts‘ link from the left sidebar of your dashboard, the next page will show a list of Post articles that you have written.
Your list will show the: Title of the Post, the Author, the Category and the Date the article was written, or last modified.
Listed under the ‘Posts‘ link on your sidebar will show: All Posts, Add New, Categories, and Tags.
Add New is self explanatory… Category is just a way of placing your Posts into different subjects, like a folder.
A Tag you can look at as a way of using them as keywords used for topics discussed in a particular post.
NOTE: A Page won’t use Tags or Categories… as mentioned before, a static page will simply have content for informational purposes.
In order to create a Post or Page, simply click on the ‘Add New‘ button at the top or left sidebar. You will then be led to an “Edit” style box where you can add your content, similar to a Word Document.
All of it is pretty self-explanatory… once you’ve written some content, you can click on the ‘Preview‘ button (upper right corner) which will open a new tab so you can see what it would look like as a finished product.
When you want to add an image to your article, place your cursor and click your mouse where you want your image to appear within your article, then click on the ‘Add Media‘ button at the upper left of your Edit box. This will create a Popup window for you to find your image within your computer to add.
If you haven’t finished your article and you want to save it for later, simply click on the ‘Save Draft‘ button.
Your article will not be live on the Internet just yet… if you like what you see, then and only then, will you click on the ‘Publish‘ button.
Clicking on Publish will make it live on the Internet for the World to see, and of course you can always modify and update your article any time you choose.
The ‘Appearance’ Link
This is a menu option that in turn will be one of the most important areas for the design of your blog.
This is where you will upload and customize your blog’s Theme, create menus and many other cool features.
The items under your Appearance Link will vary slightly depending on which theme you choose for your site.
Well, we discussed plugins directly before this Getting to Know WordPress chapter, so you know what that link does…
You already know that plugins are for adding features to your blog, like a Contact page, social media buttons, design features, or search engine optimization tools, so we will stop there and move on to the next section.
The ‘Users’ Link
This is the area that has many different levels of permission for your site. The highest position is the Administrator, which has unlimited access to every part of your blog… that’s YOU!
Let’s say you wanted to have a person design your blog for you. You would add this person giving him certain permissions to modify your site.
If someone if offering to write for your blog, you would add them as a Contributor to start, moving them up the levels to an Author or Editor upon proving themselves.
The ‘Settings’ Link
These are customization features similar to, how many articles you want to show on your front page, etc.
This may seem like a lot, and slightly overwhelming, but once you spend some time playing around in your newly installed blog, it will become second nature, easy and intuitive.
Next, let’s turn your ideas into shareable blog articles!
Step 5: Writing Your First Blog Post
It’s time to start writing blog posts. Taking the ideas from inside your head, and turning them into words on the screen – then sharing them with the world.
The best content will feel personal and approachable, and will feel like it was written just for your reader.
Most Bloggers write informal, in a laid back style of conversation, as if talking to their best friend over coffee.
Your audience will be looking for your authentic self, your own writing style, in your own voice.
You will want your blog, your content, your writing voice and your brand to feel like home to them.
Developing a Content Strategy
It is vitally important to have a content strategy. If there is one thing that matters above all else for keeping your readers engaged and coming back for more is – CONSISTENCY!
Posting every other week, consecutively is better than publishing 2 or 3 articles a week for 1 month straight, then posting nothing for the next couple of months.
If your life is a crazy mess, consider that. If you are a working parent, supporting 3 kids, take that into consideration when creating your content schedule.
Just don’t set yourself up for failure to the point of wanting to quit before you even gain momentum. You will want to choose what works for you and your lifestyle, and is realistic.
Put your thoughts into a content publishing schedule, known as a content calendar.
You can create a content calendar, adding dates for when you will post certain articles. This will help you stay organized and consistent, keeping you on track for the articles you plan to publish on your blog.
You can plan one month at a time, two months ahead, whatever works for you.
To create this publishing schedule, you can use an actual calendar, an app on your phone, or even an excel spreadsheet.
You can always increase the number of articles that you write in a single month, once you’ve proven to yourself that whatever you have chosen, can fit into your current lifestyle.
Coming Up with Post Ideas
Whether you know what topics you want to write about or whether you are still on the fence, one way is to follow the data and do some market research before you dive in headfirst.
Below are a few methods to research ideas – using keywords.
You can use BuzzSumo.com, which is an online tool, to help you find popular posts that have gone viral on social media.
All you need to do is to type in a keyword phrase like ‘Content Marketing’ into the search box and BuzzSumo will spit out similar articles that perform the best.
Another great online tool is Ubersuggest. This is a tool created by the genius mind of Neil Patel.
Similar to BuzzSumo, type in keywords related to what you are searching for and his online App will spit out all sorts of information, to include popular content others have written.
Creating Irresistible Headlines
Your headline represents the culmination of the finest, most attention-grabbing, interest-arousing statements you can muster.
Your headline MUST:
- Stop your readers in their tracks – grab their attention and trigger an emotional reaction that leads them to click on your link
- Be benefit-oriented – make complete sense immediately, and hint at a special something to soon follow
- Let your readers know what your content is about – give a brief statement, using your chosen keyword phrase, letting them know what your article is about
If your readers are not curious or convinced with what is being offered – they will leave.
NOTE: If you make a promise with your headline, make sure you over-deliver with your content.
And, by all means, speak the truth, Do Not lie or mislead with your headline just to get them to click on your link.
Here is a FREE Headline Analyzer tool to help you come up with a strong headline: CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Turn Your Ideas into Shareable Blog Posts
If you haven’t written a blog post before, you will need to become familiar with this form of writing.
Blog posts are supposed to be more personal, as if you are writing to your best friend.
They have their very own format.
- Use a conversational tone
- Have scannable content and is easy to read
- Have short paragraphs
- Have links to other helpful content
- Have images to help tell the story
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
Using a Conversational Tone
Your readers will want to visit your blog for you and your voice. They will want to hear from you as if you are speaking directly to them.
When you write your blog post, for the purpose of a conversational tone, act as if your friend is sitting across the table from you enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
What tone would you use, what would you say to this specific person?
Writing for the Web
Studies have shown that the majority of Internet readers will SKIM articles.
Readers on the Web have so much going on in their lives, that they don’t have much of an attention span.
Because of this, the majority of your readers will skim your article first. If you get their attention with your outline, the chances are good that they will go back to the beginning and read your article.
One way to break your content up for easy skimming would be to use header tags as an outline for your content.
WordPress uses the Header tags to serve as an indicator to the levels of importance of each section of your article.
These HTML header tags, denoted as h1, h2, h3, h4 etc., are an easy way to format your text and organize your page’s structure.
NOTE – Important for WordPress – The H1 Tag is only to be used once in a POST, and is already used by default as the Headline/Title of your Post – DO NOT use an H1 Tag in Your Article’s Content.
The h1 header tag will ultimately be the most responsible reason for a person to visit your article. The h2 header tag will be for subjects that are sub-sections of the h1. The h3 for sub-sections of the h2 tag and so on.
– Format your article with short headlines to create an article storyline.
While you are breaking up your content for the skimming public, be sure to create bulleted and numbered lists to greater emphasize your information.
The whole idea is to remove the blocks of text, giving the skimmers an idea of what your content is about and making it easy for them to read.
Creating Short Paragraphs
Break up your paragraphs into short chunks of information, with no more than 2 to 3 short sentences, and 4 lines of content or less ~ Less is More!
Make it skim-mable, easy to read and absorb.
Use Links within Your Content
Have external links for the reader to click on to learn more, giving the person a choice to absorb more information.
- You can send them to related articles for additional information, like I’ve done with my links
- You can send them to a helpful article on another person’s site
- You can link to resources that will help your readers with solving their problem
NOTE: If you have information on another site you’d like to share, make sure the site you send your reader to is a trusted site, not an unreliable or spam site. Just be careful who you link to.
To avoid any link errors, open the page you want to link to and copy the URL directly from the address line in your browser – then be sure to test it.
Use of Images within Your Content
Be sure to use high-quality images within your content.
You will always want an image towards the top of your posts to give an idea what your content is about.
Many bloggers like to use images to help break up their content, and show information (like a screenshot of Google Analytics).
You will need to decide where you will write your blog post, drafts.
Many bloggers will use Word or Google Docs.
For me, I write all of mine within my WordPress dashboard, this way I can type directly into the Edit box, then click on the preview button to see how it looks live on my site, without it actually being published and live for the public to see.
To start a new post, click on the ‘Add New‘ link under ‘Posts‘.
This will take you to the ‘Add New Post‘ page to where you will create your masterpiece, as shown below.
NOTE: If you are new to WordPress, be sure to have the ‘Visual‘ tab checked to make sure you have all of the elements (Heading tags, Bold, Italizing, Bullet points, etc.), at your disposal.
– The other tab, ‘Text‘ is less, user-friendly for creating a post, you would need to be familiar with basic HTML coding.
One of the best methods to start your draft would be to create an outline. This would essentially be a map of your blog post.
To do this:
- Figure out the headline you’d like to use and write it in the box where it says, ‘Add Title‘
- Think about what you’d like to say – figure out what the point of your blog post is all about
- Write down any Heading and Subheadings to break up your content into the different subjects (creating a storyline for the skimmers).
Once you are done, look over your article to see if the outline tells a story using your subheadings.
Is everything on topic? Does anything need to be rearranged?
Example: If you happen to have a number in your Title, similar to, ‘7 Writing Tactics That Will Engage Your Audience,’ do you actually have 7 subjects (subheadings) in your draft?
In this example, ‘writing tactics’ would be my main keyword phrase. Is your keyword phrase listed in your outline within, at least, one of the Header tags?
If everything is good to go, it’s time to move to the, drafting of your article, phase.
Drafting Your Post
A general outline consists of 3 sections: an introduction, the main points and the conclusion.
Here is a well written article to help you with your blog post: How to Write a Bullet-Proof Blog Post Outline in 5 Minutes
This article breaks down the outline into the main parts. It will show you a step-by-step process that this company uses to craft bulletproof, blog post outlines.
Back to the Outline…
The Title will be the first thing a reader will see on your page, it’s the first impression. However, your title may have gotten their attention, now it’s up to the introduction to do its job and draw the reader in deeper.
Create 1 to 2 sentences to convince your reader to continue reading. Create intrigue that draws the reader in and keeps them engaged, so much so that they’ll want to dive deeper into your article to see what happens next.
- Start with an opening question
- Open with a startling revelation
- Empathize with your reader
If your introduction is weak, it will discourage your reader from continuing on any further.
You could have an amazing blog post, but if the intro doesn’t do its job, they may never find out how incredible your article actually is.
After a compelling introduction, it’s time to work on the main points.
NOTE: If skipping the introduction, until after your draft is complete, is what is going to work for you, go for it. It might actually be easier to introduce your article once all your main points are made – your choice.
Now – for each of your sections, you will want to write down the points that your reader needs to know.
For now, consider this a rough draft, so focus on getting your ideas onto the screen to go back and edit later.
When you have your main points complete, it’s time to wrap up your blog post with a conclusion. The conclusion is a brief way of tying all your content together. This is also where you will add your call-to-action.
What is it that you want your reader to do after reading your post?
Do you want to have your reader:
- Add a comment?
- Share it on social media with their friends?
- Sign up for your eMail newsletter?
- Check out a product?
Think about your article, then choose 1 call-to-action to include at the end of your post. Limit it to only 1, so it makes it easy for your reader to know what to do next.
Edit Your Post
Once you have your rough draft complete, save your work, then stand up, walk away and take a break. It’s time to clear your head and recharge.
When some time has passed and you are ready to edit your article – read your post out loud.
This way, the chances are greater at catching the errors that you’d normally miss simply by reading with your eyes.
Be sure to look for:
- Fluff – As you read aloud, get rid of the extra, unnecessary words.
- Areas that don’t make any sense – Do you need to clarify any of the points you made?
- Repetition – You don’t need to repeat yourself, over and over
- Errors – Watch for grammatical and spelling errors
- Organization – Does your article flow like it should?
Once you’ve made all your changes, guess what time it is?
It’s time to read it out loud again.
You won’t believe how many times I’ve caught myself with additional grammatical errors, misspellings, or areas that don’t make any sense, after my original corrections.
It’s happened on multiple occasions. Even after reading my article out loud for the 3rd or 4th time.
High-quality content is the only way to go. Continue reading it out loud until it sounds like it’s something you can be proud of to publish.
Tip: If it’s possible, have someone else read your article.
Time to Make Your Post Live for the World to See
Before your post can be seen by the public (I know, scary right?), you must publish it within your WordPress blog’s dashboard.
Here are your directions to publish your masterpiece:
NOTE: If you have your rough draft complete, you can skip steps 1 through 3.
- Log into your WordPress account (if you aren’t already there)
- In your WordPress dashboard, under ‘Posts‘ (left side), click on ‘Add New‘
- On the ‘Add New Post‘ page, if you used Word or Google Docs, copy and paste your draft into the edit box – add your Title where it says, ‘Add Title‘
- Make sure your sub-headings are formatted with the H2, H3 or H4 heading tags, instead of just in Bold
- Check your formatting by clicking on the ‘Preview’ button on the right-hand side
- When in the ‘Preview‘ mode, be sure to check any links that you have in your article
- Go back to your Edit area and add any high-quality images you intend to use, within your article (place your cursor where you want the image, then click on the ‘Add Media‘ button
- Be sure to set your ‘Featured Image‘ (right-hand side box)
- Preview your finished article to ensure all images and formatting is correct
- If you are ready to make your post Live for the world to see, click on the ‘Publish‘ button on the right-hand side
- If you want to publish at a later date/time, click on the ‘Edit‘ link next to the ‘Publish Immediately‘ words and set your date and time, then hit schedule
Now that you are up and running, be sure to concentrate on a few things.
#1. Become an Expert at Your Style of Writing
Do you recall what I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter? Most Bloggers write in a very informal, laid back style of conversational writing. Their readers are looking for authenticity in the blogger’s writing styles; the person that has been there, done that.
Be Your Own Voice – Be an Authentic YOU!
#2. Become as Knowledgeable as Possible for Your Chosen Topic
Research, research, research! Do tons and tons of research about your blog niche.
Never stop educating yourself – commit yourself to learning as much as you can about business, marketing, and your craft.
#3. Start Building Relationships with Influential Bloggers
While doing your research, subscribe to at least 10 relevant blogs within your niche, so you can get a sense of what works to run a blog successfully.
At the very least, you should subscribe to their blog’s email list, download anything they are offering, follow their podcast if they have one, along with legally stalking them on their Facebook page, Twitter account or Pinterest, and any other social media sites they hang around on.
Pay close attention to the bloggers that you are subscribed to, not just to their blog posts and their writing style, but also, very importantly, how they write emails to you.
Out of the bloggers that you follow, do you relate with any of their particular writing styles?
When you receive emails, do you notice any special form of writing compared to other blogger’s emails?
Do you like how they approach you in the email, are their emails lengthy, what is their closing style of wording, do they leave links to related articles at the end of the email. What is their call to action – is it, “Click Here to Learn More.” Do you relate to their style?
How do you feel after reading their emails? Do you feel pitched, as if they were trying to sell you something, or did the email come across more like they wanted to help you?
#4. Never, Never, Never Give Up ~ Winston Churchill
Don’t wait for anything, start writing – have fun with it.
Don’t worry about followers and subscribers at this point, just enjoy the ride!
Something to remember – you are a newbie blogger, just enjoy blogging, the subscribers and money will follow.
Don’t ever lose sight of your passion – AND, the reason you started your journey.
The beginning stages of blogging can be difficult at times… it may take you many months or possibly years to become proficient at the art of blogging, so try your best to focus on what matters and what your end goal is.
Remember… this is a marathon, not a sprint!
Good things take time to develop, grow slowly.
Difficulties, failures, and frustrations are going to happen, roll with the punches.
It’s a part of life and certainly a part of business.
Take one baby step at a time, building yourself a solid foundation as you learn… enjoy the journey.
ROADMAP to FREEDOM:
- How to Find Your Niche – Crucial First Step to Make Money Online
- How To Start a Blog in 5 EASY Steps – a Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
- 11 Proven Digital Marketing Strategies to Catapult Your Niche
- Make Money Blogging – 9 Proven Strategies to Monetize Your Blog