How to start a blog and other questions I often get asked on the subject. A bit of background, I started my blogging journey on May 6th 2007 and have blogged consistently ever since. I never dreamt that I would still be at it all these years on. Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs, but even through the rough spots, I managed to put out at least one post a week.

Over the years, there have been a lot of changes. My aim with this post is to help new bloggers figure out the next step on how to start a blog and, for those who have been blogging a while, to up their game.

First thing to do before rushing into starting a blog is to answer the following questions. Your answers will help you choose the best platform for you.

Disclaimer, this post may contain an affiliate link or two. If you are not sure what that means, don’t worry, we will cover it below! Before we get into all that, I want to cover some of the terminology so that you don’t get lost along the way.

  • Domain Name – this is your blog name. Consider this as your shop name. Mine, here is jojoebi.com.
  • Platform – This is what your blog is built on. WordPress.org is the most popular. I have a post here explaining the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com – make sure you pick the right one! You can also use a free blogging platform. 
  • Web Hosting – this is the place where you build your blog. This is like the land you build your shop on. You can rent this space or own it yourself. You can also share the rented space with others. Steer clear of Bluehost, they get recommended often because of the affiliate kickbacks are high, their service is diabolical. If you are paying for hosting, the other thing is to check the pricing. Many have a cheap introductory rate for a year, then increase substantially the following year. Siteground is who I use for all my sites.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. These are the keywords you build each piece of content around. You can not succeed in blogging without understanding SEO. More on that below.
a potted plant next to a notebook with the word Blog written in bold black ink

1. What is the reason you want to start a blog?

This is the biggie because, depending on your answer, will depend on where and how to start a blog. If you just want to write for fun with no intention of monetising your blog and you are on a budget, then you want to look at platforms such as Blogger, Substack and Medium. On the other hand, if you want to start a blog to make money or as a way to reach an audience for your business, then you are better off using something like WordPress (self hosted) or SquareSpace. (read this post first)

2. Is blogging the right medium for me?

These days we have lots of options available and the written word is just one of them. If writing is your thing, then great, but what if you don’t feel very confident with writing? Well, maybe podcasting would be better for you or if you are happy to be on camera, how about vlogging?

A lot of the big names do all three, but know that it is a lot of work and they will have people doing the time-consuming donkeywork that goes on behind the scenes. I would recommend picking one, start with that and building it up before even considering adding anything else into the mix – unless you are in the position to pay someone to do the extra work.

Another thing to consider, if you want to write occasionally and get your ideas out there but don’t want the hassle of building your own blog, you could write for other people. Guest blogging gives you great experience and expertise leverage. 

3. How to start a blog for free?

It is still possible to start a blog for free and if you just want to write with the intention of just showing to friends and family, then this is the way forward. If, on the other hand, you want to get your voice out there, you might want to consider paid options too. 

Blogger (owned by Google9, SubStack and Medium are the big three as far as free platforms go. There are all easy to use, SubStack can be set up in a way so there is a paywall, so you can monetise it if you change your mind further down the line and Medium has a membership option so writers can get paid.

With Blogger, you can also get a free domain name (not recommended). 

woman sat at a desk typing her blog using a lap top. The desk has photos and books for inspiration on how to start a blog

4.  Should I have my own domain name?

Absolutely yes. You want to own your domain name so that if you change hosting or platforms in the future, you can take the domain name with you. Imagine if you built a shop and after a couple of years it was so successful you needed to move to a bigger building but, you can’t take the shop name with you, it has to stay at the original location. The problem is, people know you for the shop name, so if you move and start with a new name, you will need to build that reputation up again – extra work that could have been avoided.

The good news is that generally speaking domain names are inexpensive (unless you are going for a very much sought after name). I pay less that $20 for mine and get them from Namecheap here.

Before you rush off to buy a domain name, check that the social media handles are available too – even if you have no intention of using them, you should grab them anyway.

5. Do I need to know how to code? 

No, most blogging platforms these days have user-friendly interfaces that don’t require coding knowledge.  There may be some customisation options that involve code, but those are usually not essential. I don’t recommend using AI to write your posts, but if you do need some snippets of coding done, AI can do that for you.

6. What should I blog about?  

Choosing a niche (a specific topic area) is important.  It can be something you’re passionate about, knowledgeable about, or that has a potential audience. Assuming you want to build an audience, then having a specific topic will be easier for SEO research and to write about. When a blog is too general, it is difficult to gain any traction with the search engines and that’s where most of your traffic will hopefully come from.

Mostly, choose something that you are passionate about and know other people are interested in too.

7. How often should I post?  

Consistency is key. While the ideal posting frequency depends on your niche and audience, aiming for at least once a week is a good starting point. For a few years, I posted daily, then as my business grew and blogging became more complicated, I cut that back.
The great thing about blogging is that it is easy to bulk, create and batch content. These days I will often sit down and bang out the first drafts of several posts in one go. Then I will take each post, clean it up, make sure it is SEO worthy, add images, Alt Text, and all the extra bells and whistles. Finally, schedule the posts to go out. 

It’s a great system to fit around busy mom’s life!

How to start a blog? A white woman thinking with a notebook and laptop

8. What exactly is SEO and why is it so important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s all about making your blog more visible in search engine results when people search for topics related to your content.

Here’s why SEO is important for bloggers:

  • Higher Visibility & Traffic: The better your SEO, the higher your blog ranks in search results for relevant keywords. This means more people will see your blog and click through to your site, leading to more traffic.
  • Organic vs. Paid Traffic: SEO focuses on organic traffic, which is free traffic from search engines. This is in contrast to paid advertising, where you pay to have your blog shown at the top of search results.
  • Targeted Audience: Effective SEO involves understanding what keywords your target audience is searching for. By incorporating those keywords strategically, you’re more likely to attract readers genuinely interested in your niche.
  • Long-Term Benefits: SEO is an ongoing process, but the benefits can be long-lasting. Once your blog is ranking well for relevant keywords, you can continue to attract consistent traffic without needing to constantly pay for ads.

In a nutshell, SEO helps you get your blog in front of the right people and build a sustainable audience over time. Unless you are intending to pay to drive traffic to your blog, it is absolutely essential to learn about and use SEO in your blogging. I have a tool that I use which has significantly helped me boost my Google rankings. It’s called RankIQ, it is a paid tool but because my site in monetised (with ads, affiliate marketing and my own products) the tool easily pays for itself.

9. Can I make money blogging?

Yes. But… there is always a but! You need to have traffic to make any money. There are several ways to make money from your blog. It is important to remember, though, that people have arrived at your blog because they are looking for an answer. It could be about something they are researching, something they want to learn more about, or they are stuck with a problem.

Ways to make money with your blog:

  • Ads – once you have enough traffic you can apply to an ad network, the amount you will make will depend on the season, number of ads, the amount of traffic, etc.
  • Sponsored Posts – get paid to write or share a pre-written post. You need to be careful with this and understand the rules regarding paid links.
  • Affiliate links – sign up for a product or service you love. They give you a specific link to share. When someone buys through that link, you get a percentage of the sale. This works well for review posts. I have a workshop in Wonder Moms on how to get started with Affiliate marketing.
  • Sell your own products, online courses, digital products, etc. If you are brand new to this world, then you want to get your blog established and consistent organic traffic before starting with all this.

All these take time and all require an audience. Micro niche bloggers can do really well without a vast audience because their audience is looking for something very, very specific. They have often searched for a very niche specific question and if you can answer that with a paid product, there is a high chance they will buy.

a woman drinking a coffee whilst working on her blog about chess

10. How many posts should I start with?

There are different trains of thought regarding this. If I were starting today, I would spend a few weeks getting into a routine of blogging and working on 10 posts, but keep them in draft initially until all 10 are ready to go. I would then start on the next 10. I’d pick a launch date and set the first 10 post to go live and then add a new post each week or whatever the schedule is I intended to keep. 

11. What are the biggest mistakes new bloggers make?

  • Not marketing: Believing that if they put something out there, people will come. They won’t. You have to market and actively get your content in front of other people. SEO, yes, I’m still banging on about that, is super important. Pinterest is also a big driver of traffic for many bloggers. Every niche is different though. For me, I get very little traffic from social media, but some bloggers find that social media can also be a good way to drive traffic.
  • Inconsistent Posting: Regularly publishing fresh content is crucial for building an audience and keeping them engaged. Skipping long stretches between posts can cause readers to lose interest.
  • Neglecting Content Quality: Focusing on quantity over quality can backfire. It’s better to publish well-researched, informative, and engaging content that provides value to your readers.
  • Forgetting About User Experience: Your blog’s design and functionality should be user-friendly. Confusing layouts, slow loading times, and mobile-unfriendliness can drive readers away.
  • Giving Up Too Easily: Building a successful blog takes time and effort. Beginner bloggers who get discouraged by slow growth or lack of immediate results might abandon their blog prematurely.

Wrap Up

If you just want to dabble to see if you like it and have the time to write consistently, go for one of the free platforms (but still invest in your own domain name). If blogging and taking it seriously is something that interests you, we have a blogging workshop available in the Wonder Mom Success Club, along with the necessary support to help you get started. And if you are sure that monetised blogging is in your future and you understand that it does involve work beyond the writing then go for your own hosting (WordPress if you can handle the techie stuff, SquareSpace if you would rather not deal with the tech). 

Be prepared to adapt and change, things are very different now in the blogging world from when I started in 2007. There is a lot to learn, but don’t let that put you off. Google will help you with the information and resources you need. If you are a Wonder Mom, then I am available in the group to answer your questions, etc.

Blogging can be very rewarding. I have met many amazing people through my blog and it opened up a world that I had no idea existed. 

Other Posts You Might Find Helpful: