So we are now into 2018 and you are thinking about starting a blog, but you don’t have any real idea where or how to start a blog, right?
Well, you have come to the right place. The good news is that creating a new blog is not that hard to do.
Yes, there are a few rabbit holes you could go down, but Infobunny has been down them all and is here to make sure that you miss them all and learn from our mistakes.
My How to start a blog 2018 guide is going to fast track you into the world of blogging.
There is a lot to write about here so I will do my best to simplify and break it all down for you. So stick with me to the end. Let’s get started and help you start a blog.
How to start a blog in 2018
There are Free and Paid versions of blogging and if you have read any of my articles on Infobunny then you will know that we love the free route.
We absolutely hate paying for products and services we are told that we need to find out over time that we just don’t.
Keyword research is a great example.
We are told that keyword research is difficult that we need to use this keyword tool or that keyword tool. That we need to be checking search volumes etc.
But it’s not true. In fact, we wrote a complete keyword research guide called Never do keyword research again. Do this instead where we tell you not to invest in keyword tools and planners.
So yes we love the free route
So now it makes sense for us to recommend that you start a blog for free, right?. WRONG.
If you are serious about starting a blog, if you are looking to monetize your blog down the line then you must go the paid for route.
You have to become a self-hosted WordPress blogger. Yes, there are various free options you can use to start a blog and you could make arguments for taking any of those free blogging options.
But there is simply no question that you should go the paid for route and you will find out why as you read on.
And if by the end of this article you still want to start a free blog site then by the end you will know exactly how to start a blog for free.
You will even be given a bunch of free blogging options with my recommendations as to which are the best.
And we can do this because as well as running self-hosted paid for blog sites we also run a number of free blog sites that we use as part of our overall SEO Strategy to help our main paid for sites rank in the SERPS.
And using free options to help boost your main site is something that you should definitely do further down the line.
How to start a blog and make money in 2018 – Self-hosted WordPress
So let’s start with why you should start a self-hosted WordPress blog site.
When we talk about WordPress self-hosted we are talking about the WordPress software that you download from WordPress.org, not to be confused with WordPress.com platform which is Free or it can be a paid for service.
WordPress really is where all the bloggers hang out. As you can see from the image below most start a blog on WordPress. And for good reason.
if you are looking to start a blog then it has to be WordPress self-hosted.
The PROS of starting a Self-hosted WordPress
1/ You are in control
This is a huge reason why you should start self-hosted WordPress blog. You need to be the boss, you need to be in control. It has to be you who has control over what you write and publish.
If you set up a free blog site then it is the platform that is in control. When you sign up you agree to adhere to their terms of service. And when you do you start to limit what you can create. One false move can lead you to be closed down. I know it happened to me a very long time ago. I started out blogging a long time ago now on Blogger with the idea to monetize my site. My niche was passive income and affiliate sites. I blogged for around a year on Blogger and then one morning went to log in and I had a red screen saying that I had been banned.
A year’s worth of work was lost. There is no appeal process. I attempted to get my site back but I never ever got a reply.
You have to be in control. Now, this is more than likely not going to happen to you. But the point is it does.
The world really is your oyster with WordPress. There are literally endless themes that you can use. Almost limitless plugins that are available that allows you to make exactly what you want to create in a blog site
You literally are a kid in a candy store.
Many free blogging sites don’t allow you to monetize, some do but the majority don’t. With WordPress, you can. Everything is an option. Adsense ads, Amazon Affiliates, product sales. You can do it all.
4/ Your Brand
If you are building a brand then you need a home. And you don’t want a brand with someone else’s logos everywhere, it is just not the professional look.
5/ Freedom to grow and expand
As you create you grow. WordPress is easy to expand and change and add to. There is a way to do anything you want. Often at no cost.
The CONS – Self-hosted WordPress
1/ You do need a little technical knowledge
When I started blogging the reason I chose blogger was that at the time it was an easier option to use.
WordPress seemed like a steep learning curve.
However, when I lost my Blogger site the first thing I did was to jump on WordPress because I knew I had to be in controls. and the rest is history.
Losing my blogger site was the best outcome possible and it let me to start a real blog and not to just be playing at blogging.
Don’t fear the technical side when you jump in your find it is not that hard.
If you do have problems then just drop me a message on my Contact Form.
We can even arrange a consultation if you are still struggling where I can give you a guided tour and show you around.
2/ There is probably too much choice.
It can be a bit overwhelming. There are endless themes and plugins.
Start a Blog in just five steps
Here are the 5 steps to start a blog
1/ Choose a domain name, and hosting option.
2/ Design your blog using a simple theme.
3/ Modify your blog to get your desired look and feel.
4/ Select the best plugins for your blog.
5/ Write compelling content that adds value to readers.
Let’s cover each step one by one
Choose a blogging platform, domain name, and hosting option
It has to be WordPress. You can join something like Wix or Squarespace. Wix is the site builder that you see adverts about on Youtube. But all the advertising in the world doesn’t make it better than WordPress and it is not.
There are Free and Premium options but you know what I think about Free and if your gonna pay it will cost you more than self-hosted WordPress.
However, if you do want to do some research on Wix and Wix alternatives then this article would be a great starting point 6 Tools that could be used as an alternative to Wix
Once you have decided that you are a WordPress blogger you need to get some hosting.
Hosting is relatively cheap you literally buy a monthly plan that fits what you do. You’re also going to need a domain name.
The type of domain that you purchase depends on the type of site. If your blog site is location specific then you could get a country related domain name. So if your Uk based like me you could go for a .uk domain.
However, if your blog has global appeal always go for a .com name.
Whenever I start a new blog I always go for a .com domain and if I can’t get the name I want then I work to find a good alternative, but it is always a .com. Remember you can always add additional domains to your site to run alongside a .com domain. Just register them and direct them to the .com.
So because you need hosting and a domain we recommend that you check out BlueHost. Their hosting plans are very competitive and offer great reliability and customer service. You get a Free domain name for your first year which is a good saving to have.
Your hosting plan is also cheaper if you pay annually rather than monthly so that is something to consider.
Their hosting plans start from as little as $3.95 per month
Alternatively, you could go with ResellerClub WordPress Hosting solutions with Automatic Updates, Daily Malware Scanning, and an Intuitive Dashboard.
Download and install WordPress
This is a very simple process with BlueHost
Installing WordPress with Marketplace
- Log in to your Bluehost cPanel account.
- Find the Website section and select Install WordPress.
- Click the Install button.
- Choose the domain name to install it to. In the field next to the domain, you can enter a subfolder such as ‘blog’ or leave it blank if you want the site’s main page to be the blog.
- If necessary, you can edit the email address, username, and password for the new WordPress installation. Click “advanced options” and you can change those settings.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
- Select the Install Now button.
Most of the big hosting companies offer you the ability to download the WordPress software directly onto your hosting from the back office. If you don’t have this functionality you can download the software from WordPress.org .
Design your blog using a simple theme
There are thousands and thousands of themes out there. If you are starting a blog, and just finding your feet then using a free theme is fine. Premium themes, however, offer greater customization and enhanced security features because they are updated more often.
Infobunny runs on the Virtue Premium theme by Kadence which is a premium theme. Kadence Membership is great value for money and offers you access to all their premium themes and additional plugins that they create specifically for their themes.
Theme Forest is another awesome site that you can grab a great inexpensive theme from. The X Theme by Themeco would be a great low-cost choice coming in at just $45. Just search for it on Theme Forest homepage.
One thing to remember when you pick a theme that you want to use is that you make sure that the theme is mobile responsive. If your WordPress theme is mobile responsive then it fits any screen size that it is visible on.
So it will look great on your laptop, on a clients tablet or mobile. Whichever device you use to view your blog you’re going to see a great looking site.
Non-responsive sites will look out of proportion and horrible and Google will even tell you that your blog site is not mobile friendly and that is not going to help your visibility.
You also need to be working with a theme that gets updated regularly to keep in line with security updates and new advancements in WordPress
Modify your blog to get your desired look and feel
It’s time to get creative. Add a logo a header image. Start to set up your blog by just playing with the settings to see what they do.
Select the best plugins for your blog
Once you are happy with the look and feel of your new WordPress blog you can set about adding a few key plugins that you will need.
But a word of warning. Plugins although very valuable can slow your site down. So add them sparingly.
Add only the ones that really benefit your site by adding functionality to your blog along with protection.
You are going to need a good backing up plugin, something to cover your SEO and more.
Here are 10 of the best WordPress plugins that you can add to your newly created blog.
Write compelling content that adds value to readers
It is your content that will make the difference to the question of whether you become a successful blogger or not. But writing Killer Blog Titles and incredible content is not enough to be seen on Google.
You will need to backup your content with some great keyword research so that you are creating content that people are searching for.
Don’t worry if I’m talking another language, it will all become clear. But before you rush off and Google “Keyword Research” first read my Never Do Keyword Research Again blog post. You will be glad that you did.
You are also going to need to backup your content and keyword research with some basic on-page SEO. But don’t worry, I have you covered again with my SEO Guide for 2018
My number 1 tip is although you do need SEO and Keyword research it is not be all and end all. Make sure that your focus remains content related. Everything else is gained as you learn and can be added in. You don’t have to do everything all at once.
I strongly suggest that you find yourself a good blogging mentor who can help and advise you as and when you need them to.
How to generate traffic to your blog
It really does all come down to content. It is well known that long character length content outperforms shorter length content. One 2000+ word article is better value to Google that 3 or 4, 400-word articles.
Make your content long.
You need to then build up a bank of content and be consistent in everything that you do. Keep the post lengths long. Post regularly to keep the spiders on your site. And social share your content to your branded social channels. We recommend that you get yourself a free ViralContentBee account and leverage other VCB members followers.
On days that you are not creating new content refresh and update olde posts. Keep them evergreen, keep Google interested in them.
There are a couple of social sites that we really do recommend that you get involved with that are great at driving traffic to your site.
Pinterest is a must have site. You should be adding rich content (images) to your posts. Make them a feature and make them Pinterest friendly. The tall portrait style of image works incredibly well on Pinterest so go the extra yard and create images for Pinterest.
The second social that we recommend is more of a bookmarking/content curation site and that is StumbleUpon.
Again there is some very valuable traffic to be gained on StumbleUpon
How to monetize your blog
The obvious answer to this is simply to get a Google Adsense account and display ads on your site.
Of course, there are lots of alternatives to Google Adsense Ninja Outreach offers us 10 alternatives to Adsense with their Top Alternatives to Google Adsense – Best Adsense Alternatives article.
As well as running ads on your blog you can also sign up for various affiliate programs.
These work and pay very well depending on your niche.
Shop Style Collective
If your blog is shopping, or you are starting a fashion blog, or setting up a home decor blog then Shop Style Collective is a great option.
There are 1000’s of products that you can add to your blog and your unique affiliate URL will track any sales that you make.
Another useful side of Shop Style Collective is that you are paid for clicks to the product links that you add, regardless of if a sale is made.
This is extremely valuable if you have a big social following, particularly on Pinterest and Twitter.
You are given product images that you can use. Sharing options to send the products directly to your social channels. But in the case of blogging, you could embed (add) the content to your article.
Give the image below a click and see what happens. The product will open in a new browser tab
If you are looking to start a fashion blog or anything product related then you can sign up for a Shop Style Collective Affiliate account
The Amazon Affiliate Program is another really cool way to monetize a new blog.
You can write about and review products. Link visitors to the products with your affiliate URL and when you make a sale you make a commision.
How to start a blog for free
If you are not looking to monetize your blog then you could go the free route when you create your blog. But, I still highly recommend that you go for the paid WordPress option for the reasons stated above.
That being said you could also create free blog sites to support your main blog where you could share cutdowns of the original for traffic. However, you could argue that you are better off just spending your time creating incredible content on your main site. And that is where social blogging sites fit into the blogging scene.
When we talk about free blogging sites we are really talking about sites like Blogger or WordPress.org. These are the platforms that allow you to do a lot of the things you can do with self-hosted with full edit screens that allow you to upload images, add descriptions and alt text. That allows you to add HTML.
They let you pretty much do the same as self-hosted, you just don’t have the array of plugins and add-ons and all the themes to choose from and the customizations you can make. And you have big limitations on your monetization options (check the terms of service) and your domain name will be site related.
You do have the option of buying a domain and associating it to Blogger or WordPress.com but there is a charge and if you are going to do that you may as well go self-hosted as your only one step away from doing so.
And there are just so many benefits.
Blogging Social Sites
A Better option would be to use blogging social sites like Medium or Steemit or you could even go for the questions and answers site Quora. These are all options that I use to back up Infobunnys presence on the web. They are like the conventional free blogging sites but have much more of a social media slant on them.
It’s easier to get views and clicks because you are part of an active blogging community. But with all the benefits come some limitations.
Customization is very limited with these blogging socials. They don’t tend to have extensive visual editors and you need a better understanding of HTML if you want to create something special. You may even need to learn markdown code. Markdown code is basically a stripped down version of HTML.
You definitely need to learn some Markdown skills if you use Steemit. The big pull with Steemit is that your posts are monetized. The whole platform is built on Blockchain and is backed by Steem which is one of the Cryptocurrency on the marking.
If you write good content on Steemit and attract upvotes then you earn Steem and Steem can be converted into $$$. The more influential the member voting the more Steem you can make. You can also earn rewards for engaging with others content. If you are engaging in a blog article that is making money then that reflects well in your curation rewards
Steemit is a blogging social that we are very active on
Wakelet is now also becoming a very good option as a blog
Wakelet is a great content curation site that allows you to create collections of content and there is no reason why a collection cannot be very easily turned into a blog post.
When you want to make a Wakelet blog you just create a collection under your proposed blog title and add your images and text.
Here is an example of a blog that I created on Wakelet called How important are followers on social media?
For more details on Wakelet check out my Wakelet getting started guide
How to start a blog – 10 Reasons why you should consider starting a blog
1/ Market and promote something
Blogging is a great way to help market or promote yourself or your business, product, or service.
This means you can sell something online through your blog or you can use it merely for informative purposes. Point people to your blog URL. Link your blog to your social channels. Let people know where and how they can find you.
2/ Blogging helps people
Many blogs are written to help people who may be going through similar situations that the blogger has experienced. For example, this article is written to help you start a blog, hopefully helping you to miss some of the errors we made when Infobunny was started. Helping people is a great reason to start a blog.
Blogs can cover a whole range of topics from health and fitness to bookkeeping. If you need to read up on something to get help then there will a one or two blogs that can help you with what you need.
3/ To establish yourself as an expert
Blogs can help you establish yourself as an expert just by sharing your knowledge
4/ Become knowledgeable within a niche or topic
If you are interested in a subject then there is nothing better than writing about that topic to help you become knowledgeable about it. Read up on your niche then create something that puts you have learned into practical help for others.
5/ Stay connected to friends or family
Share family news, blog style. Blogging is a great way to create a lifestyle blog that is geared to your own life experiences
6/ Make money
There are just so many ways to make money with your blog. We covered this earlier in our How to monetize your blog section above
7/ To be creative
If your creative then blogging is a great way to share what you do.
8/ Build contacts and a network
By adding a simple contact list to your blog you can quickly and easily create a mailing list
9/ Build an online resume
Nothing speaks louder than having a fully working online blog to show off your skills and talents. Back it up with great social channels and you have a great tool that can influence your prospective employer and customers.
10/ To grow your brand
Your blog is YOU Inc. It’s you or your business on the web. How do you want to be known and seen?
When you start a blog you get the opportunity to portray your online image as you want it to be seen.
If you already have a blog and haven’t really worked on your brand then you can simply adjust what you have created to make it tell your story.
If you still want to start a blog and you want to go the free route then here are some recommendations
There are a few stand out platforms when it comes to starting a free blog. We have already mentioned them above.
It will be no surprise that I would say if you’re starting a free blog then make it a WordPress.com.
It’s the closest platform to my recommendation of going self-hosted WordPress. It is basically the same software. This gives you an advantage later on.
If you find yourself wanting to then move to self-hosted then the transition will be way smoother and you’re going to know exactly how all the features work and can be set up.
You know about plugins and themes already so then choosing the theme you want and how to set it up will be much easier.
If WordPress is not your thing then Googles Blogger remains a solid option. You may need to edit your theme to better optimize for SEO as Blogger themes tend to be a bit older and less current. With that sad Blogger is still part of Google and Google looks after Google.
My 3rd recommendation is Steemit. We touched on Steemit earlier. This is a new breed of blogging site. Your content is monetized from day one.
You can’t do as much with it in a customization way but that could be a good reason for using it
How to start a blog in 2018 – Takeaways
I think you can now tell that I love WordPress. If you are thinking of starting a blog in 2018 then I will push you all day every day to make it a WordPress self-hosted blog. There is just no comparison. between WordPress and the others. The only platform that comes close is WordPress.com which is basically the same as self-hosted but minus all the really cool stuff you can do on self-hosted.
WordPress .com will still cost you money if you want to make it look good. You will be upsold premiums themes. You will then be pushed to get a catchy domain name.
And then when you get somewhere when you start to generate traffic you need to upgrade because you have passed your monthly data allowance or run out of storage space.
You will end up paying more than you would on self-hosted and still not be in charge.
And that brings me to the major point that I made at the start.
You need to be in control of your blog and no one else. It just makes so much sense when you start a blog.
That’s all for now.
I hope you have found my How to start a blog 2018 Guide useful.
If you need any help getting started then leave me a comment below or use the contact form linked in the article.