This site uses affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you use my links and make a purchase without incurring additional fee yourself. Many thanks for supporting this website. Please see my legal page for more details.
Congratulations for taking this first step towards running a successful blog! 👏
Throughout the next 5 days, we are going to address all the fiddly blog setup issues so you are free to get back to the fun stuff – creating content!
What to expect
The next 5 days will look a little like this
- Creating your ideal reader avatar
- Deciding on a niche
- Choosing a blog name
- Understanding self-hosted vs hosted websites.
- How to set up hosting (video demo)
- How to set up WordPress (video demo)
- How to set up a theme and home page (video demo)
- How to get an SSL certificate (video demo)
- How to choose the right theme (essentially your blog design)
- How to install and activate plugins (video demo)
- Which plugins are a necessity and which are nice to have
- How to set up Google Analytics (video demo)
- How to set up Google search console (video demo)
- How to get a domain email and link it to your Gmail account (video demo)
- How top set up Rankmath SEO plugin
- How to set up SG Optimizer to keep your site fast.
- How to write an about me page
- How to set up a contact form (video demo)
- Set up your categories
- Set up a menu
- Add social media channels
- Start planning your blog pillar content
Day One – Let’s Go!
- Creating your ideal reader avatar
- Deciding on a niche
- Choosing a blog name
- Understanding self-hosted vs hosted websites.
1. Decide on your objective
The first thing you need to decide is what you want to get out of blogging.
Is it purely a hobby? Perhaps a side hustle? A potential new career?
If there is any chance at all that you will one day want to monetise your website, then you need to set it up right from the first day.
That doesn’t mean you need to get everything right first time around – trust me, I didn’t! But there are a few things you need to get in place to save yourself from gigantic headaches down the road.
One of those things is hosting.
2. Choose whether to have a hosted or self-hosted website
Think of blog hosting a little like renting a home.
If you rent, there are limitations on what you can do with your home. You can’t decorate the way you like, or move a lodger in the make more cash. There’s the possibility the landlord will sell the property and you will lose your home.
However, if you own that home, you can do with it what you like. Decorate in all the rainbow colours, move that lodger in, put those pictures on the wall. All in the knowledge that you own that space and no one can take it from you.
Hosting is very similar. If you go self-hosted, you own your little space on the internet. You can grow and monetise your website in any way you see fit and you do not risk losing your blog overnight which happened to me.
I had a blog I kept purely as a hobby for the 2 years I lived in Australia. I chose a platform called TravelPod. A few years later, Travelpod shut down and removed, along with all that content I had lovingly created.
Fortunately, I realised in time and managed to turn my blog into a coffee table book. But I could have missed that email and my stories would be lost forever.
The benefits of a self-hosted website
- More professional looking URL eg yourblog.com rather than yourblog.wordpress.com
- More security – your blog wont risk being removed from the internet
- More customisation options e.g. themes.
- Access to thousands of plugins which add functionality to your site.
- More monetisation opportunities e.g. you can’t run paid ads on hosted websites and you may be restricted with affiliate links too.
- Self-hosted websites perform better on search engines like Google
WordPress.com vs Worrdpress.org
You may hear bloggers recommending WordPress for hosting your site. I do too. But here is where it gets confusing…
There are two types of WordPress website
Self-hosted (like owning a home, you own your site) = WordPress.org
Hosted (like renting a home, you won’t own your site) = WordPress.com
Both are free but to register with WordPress.org, you will need to purchase hosting (your little space on the internet where you can build your home/blog.)
So to set up a self-hosted website with WordPress, you would purchase your hosting first. They will offer you the option to install WordPress for free once you are set up.
It does cost a little more to have a self-hosted website but it’s very affordable – a few dollars a month – and it will help you to have more security and control over the site you create. If you want to monetise your webiste, hosting will be essential.
You can switch later down the line but it’s a massive headache that you will want to avoid.
This course will focus on setting up a self-hosted website with Siteground.
You can opt for a different host, that’s fine. The video demos will still be helpful but they are going to help you most if you opt for Siteground.
Siteground is the hosting company I recommend to all beginners and is the host I personally use.
Your host will manage all the technical behind-the-scenes aspects and so the host you choose can significantly impact on your site loading speed.
Therefore, you need a host which runs fast websites. Slow websites frustrate readers so they navigate away quickly which tells Google your website isn’t very good and it will start showing your blog to potential readers less and less.
Siteground is an excellent hosting company which runs fast websites. They also offer great customer service so if you need help with your website, you can access the 24/7 chat helpline and have an expert offer advice in minutes.
They are also very affordable.
There are slightly cheaper options like Bluehsot or Hostgator. However, these hosts are renowned for runnign slow websites and I’ve certainly heard that customer service wasn’t up to scratch.
Therefore Siteground offers the best balance between speed vs customer service vs cost.
Okay, so now you hopefully understand why you need a self-hosted website and you have given your end-goal some consideration. Let’s talk about your blog topic shall we?!
Choosing your blog niche
First, remind yourself about your big picture.
Which of these messages aligns best with your objectives?
- I want to start a blog as a side hustle and earn some income
- I want to run a blog as a business one day
- I have an important message I want to get into the world
- I know I can help …. people and a blog is a great way to reach lots of people
- I want to run a blog as a portfolio to help me get other freelance opportunities
- I want to run a blog as a creative outlet but it would be nice to make money one day too…
If income comes into it at all, then you’re going to want to consider choosing a niche that has good money-making potential.
When considering income potential consider this. People pay money for one of 4 reasons
- Something that makes them healthier
- Something that makes them happier
- Something that makes them richer or saves them money
- Something that saves them time
Therefore if your niche addresses one or more of these concerns, there is potential to earn money.
The following are considered lucrative niches:
- Personal finance
- Heath and fitness
That doesn’t mean you can’t make money outside of these niches. But these are niches were bloggers are succeeding in running full-time businesses via their blogs.
To help you choose the right niche, ask yourself the following questions:
- What topics do I have a lot of experience or expertise with?
- Who can I help the most?
- What topic could I write about regularly without getting bored or running out of ideas?
- Can I see myself still writing about this topic in 5 years time?
Narrowing down your niche
Whilst a ‘food’ is technically a niche, it’s a very broad one.
Blogs tend to be more successful when they niche down as much as possible. So rather than a blog about food, it could be a blog about vegan food, feeding a family on a budget or navigating nutrition for fussy children. The opportunities are endless.
The more focussed you get, the easier it will be for search engines like Google to understand your website and see you as an expert. This means higher search rankings and more blog traffic.
It also means that your ideal readers will find it easier to connect with you and are more likely to hang around on your site longer or follow you on social media/sign up for your newsletter.
It can be difficult to narrow down your niche and many beginner bloggers don’t want to niche down because they think it will become boring writing about one thing. But trust me, if you want success quickly, you need to niche down.
You will occasionally find super successful lifestyle blogs but many have been established many years ago and have huge social media followings (like hundreds of thousands of followers.) The blogosphere is a much more competitive place these days and niching down helps you stay ahead of the competition.
Understanding your ideal reader avatar
In order to help you decide what to call your blog, what content to create or even what subjects to write about, spend some time deciding who is your ideal reader avatar.
Your ideal reader is someone who you can help.
Perhaps it’s someone who is in the position you were in a few years back?
For example, if you are a solo travel blogger, your ideal reader may be someone who has an adventurous personality but who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to travel solo and are looking to you for advice.
If you blog about nutritious family meals, maybe your ideal reader is a frazzled Mum of 3 children under 10, stressed out because she’s busy juggling all the things and feeling like she’s not meeting her families nutritional needs.
Once you have nailed your ideal reader avatar, creating content will become much easier. You should try to imagine that avatar every time you create new content for your blog.
Questions to ask yourself to define your ideal reader avatar
- How old are they?
- Are they married, single, divorced? Do they have a family?
- Where do they live?
- What social channels do they hang out on?
- What matters to them?
- What do they enjoy?
- What do they NOT enjoy?
- What goals do they have?
- What roadblocks are stopping them from achieving those goals?
- What problems do they have which you can help solve with either your knowledge or recommendations?
Some of my students have even gone as far as naming their avatars and drawing a picture of them which helps keep them front of mind!
Deciding on a blog name
Blog names need to be
- easy to spell
Ideally it would be obvious from the blog name exactly what the blog is about.
Even better if you can squeeze some keywords in there.
A keyword is a short phrase that you want to rank for on search engines like Google. We use something called SEO (or search engine optimisation) to help us achieve this. Essentially, that means leaving clues for search engines to help them understand our websites and help us to rank for keywords.
If you can get a common keyword associated with the topic you intend to write about into the title, this will help you to rank better for related keywords down the track.
For example, I write about earning passive income. So my website is Passive income Superstars. This will help me rank for keywords or phrases like ‘what is passive income’ or ‘passive income blog.’ Anyone searching these terms are my ideal audience so it is helping me to reach the people who will gain the most from reading my blog.
Getting a keyword in the title is not essential but if you can find a way, it will no doubt help you down the track.
I would recommend you avoid using your name or anything too personal to you if you can. If you ever decide to sell your blog, a very personal blog name will make your blog worth less as whoever acquires your blog will likely have to rebrand and in doing so, will lose some blog traffic.
Even if you can’t ever envisage running a professional blog let alone one which people would pay for, it’s worth thinking about the bigger picture. Selling blogs can be very lucrative and you never know what life holds in store.
If you’re really stuck for ideas for what to name your blog, try out this blog name generator. Some of the ideas will be instant rejects but you might get some fun inspiration from it!
I recommend creating a shortlist of names, checking if they are available and then asking some friends and family for feedback on your shortlist.
You don’t need to purchase your domain name just yet – you’ll be able to do that when you get your hosting tomorrow!
Okay, so hopefully you now have a better idea of your blog goals and objectives?
Have a think about blog names and ask some friends for feedback as tomorrow we are going to be moving on to setting up your website so you will need to choose a domain name before then!