Guide To Starting a Blog in 2023
While the business and technology landscapes have undergone significant changes over the years, blogging remains a vital way to build an online presence, boost brand identity, and share ideas with an audience. According to HubSpot, blogging is the third most common content marketing strategy.
Unlike direct marketing methods, blogging provides a wide range of benefits at little to no cost. A blog can help you convey your point of view in a more personal and impactful way, get a product in front of your target audience, or establish your brand as an authority in a particular niche.
If any of this sounds compelling to you, maybe it’s time to incorporate blogging into your marketing efforts. Explore this tutorial on how to start a blog in 2023.
Why should you start a blog?
A blog can serve as an entry point to connect with a dedicated audience. A sense of trust develops once readers feel your content adds value to their lives. For instance, a blog that features problem-solving content like buyer guides, how-to tutorials, and industry-specific best practices can quickly establish you as a go-to source for valuable insights and life-improving tips. The rapport that you can forge with an engaged readership is long-lasting and integral to the continuing success of your brand.
If you’re selling a product or offering a service, starting a blog should be a top priority. A blog can essentially function as the tip of your sales funnel and serve as a reliable way to generate and convert qualified leads on a consistent basis. Establishing authority in your space is another reason blogging might be a good fit for you. High-quality and consistent content that showcases your expertise will set you apart from competitors and boost your credibility in the space.
It’s also worth noting that the benefits of blogging extend beyond just audience building and the potential to make money online. In fact, starting your own blog can be a big step toward personal development—honing your writing skills and learning about topics that you find exciting.
How to start a blog in 5 easy steps
Once you decide that blogging is something you can commit to, the next step is to take action. Fortunately, setting up a blog is as easy as it is inexpensive, and very little technical know-how is needed to implement a successful content strategy.
Below is a step-by-step guide that will show you how to start a blog in 2021.
1. Find your niche
Finding the right niche is the first step when starting a blog. Connecting with an audience happens when the content is pertinent and relevant to a specific interest. A blog that delves into a myriad of topics and attempts to connect with everyone will never be able to speak to a dedicated and engaged audience.
Unless you want to start a blog for personal use, you should craft a content strategy with a specific audience in mind. This starts with picking a niche. Here are a few practical tips that should help you figure out your niche:
- Pick something you’re passionate about or relates to your business or services. Your personal or business interests should be the first thing you explore when choosing a niche for your blog. Take a mental inventory and write down five or six things that you feel you can build a content strategy around. This simple exercise will help you visualize your overall content strategy.
- Narrow down your focus. Narrowing down your interests is a critical step. Picking a broad topic is only half the battle; it’s the topically related pages that allow you to reach a more targeted audience. Consider which area you have more experience in and plan your content strategy around it.
- Use keyword tools to generate more ideas. If brainstorming doesn’t yield the desired results, you can always rely on advanced keyword research tools. Search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, and Semrush, are a goldmine for finding blog topic ideas, and their data is especially valuable when it comes to assessing the profitability of a given niche.
2. Choose a blog name and register your domain
The name of your blog is the first thing your visitors will notice—and in many cases, that first impression will shape how they perceive your content. This is why you need to pick a memorable blog name that adequately reflects what you’re about and the value you bring to your audience.
Ideally, you should opt for a clear, catchy, and short name that is easy to remember and even easier to brand. Using an alliteration or a clever pun can be an effective way to stand out and grab attention. As a general rule of thumb, avoid names that are too long or have little relevance to your niche.
After picking a name for your blog, the next step is checking the availability of the domain name and registering it through a trusted registrar like GoDaddy. If you feel that a custom domain name is not necessary, you can opt for a free domain name on sites like Blogger, Tumblr, or Weebly. Keep in mind that you can add a new domain any time you choose.
However, the change isn’t without consequences. It can have a negative effect on your blog’s SEO because links to your previous domain will no longer work. This means that search engines won’t be able to rank your content until you transfer your site to the new domain.
3. Choose where to host your blog
The next consideration is figuring out where you want to host your blog. The first option is to integrate it into your main site. Self-hosting gives you full control over the blog and offers you a great degree of flexibility when it comes to its design elements. Additionally, a self-hosted blog allows you to better optimize your content for Google and install premium SEO plugins, which is extremely beneficial for ranking.
The second option is to opt for a third-party platform. Hosting your blog externally saves you the hassle of dealing with the initial setup process and gives you the chance to explore different approaches without incurring any startup expenses. Keep in mind that you can easily switch from the third-party subdomain to a custom domain name whenever you see fit.
There are plenty of blogging platforms that allow you to register your own domain name and host your blog on their servers without going through a web hosting company, like Bluehost or SiteGround. Each platform comes with its own set of pros and cons, so it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with each platform’s core features before making a decision.
Here are some free blogging options:
- Wix. Wix is by far the most intuitive blogging platform that you can use. It features a drag-and-drop builder that eliminates the need for any back-end tinkering and it offers many pre-built layouts and templates that work for most niches. The only inconvenience when using this platform is that once you pick your initial template, it’s not possible to switch to a different one.
- Weebly. Much like Wix, Weebly uses a drag-and-drop system that’s ideal for a new blogger. Its customization options are ample and the proprietary app does a fantastic job of allowing users to manage their sites from any mobile device. A point of concern, however, is the lack of advanced features in Weebly’s built-in photo editor.
- Blogger. Despite losing considerable ground to competitors in recent years, Blogger is still a great option if you want to start a blog. The biggest advantage of using this platform is the seamless Google integration that it provides. Blogger users can export their data with Google Takeout, get a custom domain name through Google Domains, enable Google AdSense monetization, and get valuable insights from Google Analytics. However, the platform lags behind its direct competitors in terms of modern blogging tools and design features.
- WordPress. The free version of WordPress.com boasts most of the high-end features that you would expect from a top blogging platform. The in-house hosting plan offers up to 3 gigabytes of storage space and the free WordPress themes are sleek and functional. And while you don’t have full control over your WordPress website, the platform does offer you decent upgrade options at reasonable pricing. The only downside to managing a WordPress blog is that it comes with a learning curve and it might take a while before you figure out how to get the most out of your WordPress site.
4. Design the theme of your blog
After setting up your site, concentrate your efforts on making your blog look as visually appealing as possible. The look and feel of each page should reflect your brand identity and the overall design should highlight your blog content and present it in an organized manner.
Premium themes are the way to go if you want to enhance both the aesthetics and the functionality of your blog. On top of being more responsive than their free counterparts, premium themes are easy to customize and offer more compatibility options with third-party add-ons, widgets, and plugins.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that small details can significantly improve the look of a site. Selecting the right images, designing an eye-catching header, or simply picking a distinctive color will go a long way in bringing the best out of a blog theme.
If web design isn’t your forte, you can always delegate the task to a professional. Upwork has the largest pool of independent web designers for hire who can help bring your vision to life. If you’re looking for a more specific project (e.g., a custom “Under Construction” design for your homepage), Upwork’s Product Catalog™ will allow you to buy it directly without having to find a freelancer.
Browse & Buy Content Writing services on Project Catalog.
5. Write and publish your first blog post
You found your niche, picked a hosting provider, and designed an appealing site—now it’s time to put your writing abilities to the test and add new content. There are a few best practices that you should adhere to if you want your first post to be an excellent blueprint for future content.
The first thing you need to pay attention to is the structure of the post. Avoid testing your readers’ attention with large blocks of content and keep the paragraphs short and concise. Consider adding a screenshot or stock photos to break up the text. You should make use of headings and subheadings to create a navigable structure for readers and search engines, as well.
Another important consideration is the use of relevant keywords, which can generate organic traffic. However, your main focus should be on providing value, so avoid keyword stuffing and try to incorporate search phrases in a more organic manner.
Avoiding errors and making sure your ideas are logically sequenced are also important considerations to take into account when writing your first blog post—this is where editing and proofreading come in. But as important as these two processes are, they can be fairly tedious and time-consuming. The most practical option is to hire proofreading and editing professionals to help you craft a clear and compelling first blog post.
4 tips for growing your blog
Growing a new blog is a full-time commitment that requires hard work. If you stick to a plan, you may be able to see some results in a few months. The tips below give you an idea of how to achieve sustainable growth for your blog.
1. Develop a consistent editorial calendar
An editorial calendar is paramount when managing a blog. In fact, running a successful blog is not feasible without a visual workflow that keeps track of important variables.
Tools like Google Sheets, Asana, and Trello can help you organize your topic ideas, compile relevant keywords, and maintain a posting schedule. This will allow you to roll out new content in a more streamlined manner.
You can also scale your content. As the world’s leading work marketplace, Upwork can help you hire talented writers in a way that suits your needs.
2. Optimize your blog for search engines
While adding value to your audience should be a priority when writing content, SEO should not be an afterthought. Optimizing your blog with SEO best practices is essential if you want to generate organic traffic.
Here are some on-page search engine optimization aspects to focus on:
- Keyword research
- HTML meta and title tags
- Keyword use inside of subdomains
- Internal and external linking
- Improving page loading speed
- URL optimization
- Long-form blog content
3. Promote your blog
You can’t afford to rest on your laurels after setting up your blog site and putting up a few articles. It’s time to get proactive and start promoting your content to new readers.
Contact other bloggers and see if they’d be interested in content exchange. Find thought leaders in your space and reach out to them via email or LinkedIn to explore guest blogging opportunities.
Current blog traffic can also be leveraged to grow your readership. Building and nurturing an email marketing list of subscribers is particularly effective in turning organic traffic into an engaged audience.
4. Create an engaging social presence
The growth opportunities that social media offers are endless, including large user bases and high audience engagement rates, which is ideal for content promotion.
If you’re using Twitter or Instagram, consider adding relevant hashtags to your tweets or posts. This is a simple way to capture the attention of users who have not yet interacted with your brand or blog. An efficient way to use them is to compile niche-specific hashtags in a document and assign each one to a scheduled tweet.
As the platform with the largest number of active users, Facebook is a no-brainer option for blog promotion. Posting your content in relevant groups and using the Boost feature for each new post can quickly amplify your reach and accelerate audience growth. Combining targeted posting with frequent boosts can quickly create a snowball effect for your traffic.
Get help from the top web designers and writers on Upwork
There are a lot of moving parts at play when you’re trying to start a blog. If this is your first time creating a blogging site, the process might seem overwhelming or time-consuming. Luckily, Upwork can help take some of the work off your shoulders with the largest pool of proven independent web designers and writers. With the right professionals, your blog will be a success in no time.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.