Updated December 27, 2020
How to Start a Blog From Scratch
Starting a blog from scratch can be frustrating, but if done right, it can also be extremely rewarding.
That said, this is how to start a blog from scratch.
Step 1: Decide what your blog is going to be about.
If you have no idea what you’re going to write about, you can’t start a blog. Period.
Figuring out what you’re going to write about is half the battle when starting a blog from scratch. When considering this part of the process, get a pen and paper, and make a list of things that you can see yourself writing about for years to come.
2. Choose a name for your blog.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing your blog name. The first is that you should think long and hard about what you’re naming your new blog. This is because some think that your blog name is a reflection of what your blog is about. So your blog name should relate somehow to it’s topic.
Then there’s the second train of thought that says don’t stress to hard over the name of your blog. As long as you’re not totally embarrassed to tell others what that name is, it’s all good. I’ve seen blogs with some really odd names find crazy success. So don’t lose too much sleep over it.
3. Purchase your domain name and hosting.
Next, you want to purchase the name that you chose for your blog, and hosting.
Because I’m a bit of a control freak, I build all of my blogs myself. I’ve done it more than a few times, so it’s not all that difficult anymore.
I did, however, have a couple of moments of frustration while customizing the theme (and I usually do).
This frustration is par for the course with WordPress.
That said, if you know someone who can build that blog for you, DO THAT. It’s worth every dime if you can afford it.
3. Get an Email Address
When installing WordPress (next step), you’ll be asked for an email address to associate with your new blog.
So if you want a specific email address for your blog, this is the time to get it.
I usually get a separate email address for my blog to keep things organized. This way, everything for this blog/company goes to this email address.
The easiest way to do this, is to get a Gmail address for now. You can always change it later. Your hosting company has domain email that you can get a 2 month free trial for. I always sign up for this when I purchase my domain and hosting because like I said, there’s no cost for two months.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Ok. Once you’ve purchased your domain and hosting, you’re going to install WordPress. I would say that you should decide which platform you’re going to use for your new blog, but I’m assuming that WordPress is already your choice.
Your hosting company will give you instructions on installing WordPress (it’s pretty easy). Take your time, and follow the instructions.
Once you’re finished, you’ll get a link to your new blog that looks like “https://mynewblog.com/wp-admin”.
Step 5: Sign up for newsletter software.
You might think that this is really early in the process to even think about gathering emails for a newsletter, but you would be dead wrong. I always say that you should do this now, so that you don’t write a ton of content, and build an audience without having done it.
They say that “the money’s in the list”, and ‘they’ would be right 🙂
So many new bloggers neglect to start growing an email list! Maybe they think it’s going to be more difficult than it actually is. But regardless, if you don’t start growing your email list from the very beginning, you’re leaving money on the keyboard 😉
I started out using MailChimp for my newsletters because it’s free to send up to something like 2000 emails.
But I’ve had Mailchimp block my emails with no explanation, with one of their suggested options being to “delete the account”, so I don’t use it anymore.
No more Mailchimp for me, and I don’t advise anyone to start using it. Unless of course, you’re willing to start all over again with a new list of subscribers after Mailchimp has locked your account.
I use Mailmunch for my email newsletters, because I’ve found that it’s super easy to navigate, and simple to create newsletter signup forms. MailMunch also has cool templates for newsletters, auto-responders, scheduled sending, etc. and it’s only $9 US a month.
Step 6: Design your newsletter sign up forms.
You want to have your newsletter sign up form(s) ready, so that it’s capturing your first visitors, not starting to capture visitors after visitor #2548.
I created all of the sign-up forms (including the obnoxious one that drops down in your face shortly after you get here) with Mailmunch. I use Picmonkey to design the graphics that accompany the forms (more on Picmonkey below).
Decide where you want your forms to show up on your blog; sidebar, inside your posts, or drop down, which is really hard to miss 🙂
Step 7: Sign up for a Picmonkey account.
I don’t care what kind of blog you’re starting, it’s going to need graphics.
What are graphics?
Graphics are the images that pepper your blog, and they make it much easier to read.
Whether they’re in your posts, your sign up forms, your headings, etc. you’re going to need them…without a doubt.
You could hire someone to design them for you, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a complete waste of good dough. Especially when there are tools like Picmonkey that you can use to design awesome graphics and sites where you can get free images for your blog.
Next, you need to go to Pinterest and create an account for your new blog. Pinterest is actually how you’re going to be getting your first traffic/readers that you aren’t related to 😉
Once you get to Pinterest, the sign-up instructions are pretty straight forward.
Once you’re in, you’ll see text that says “sign up for a business account”. Click on it. Fill in all of the information. Pinterest is going to ask you to “claim your website”. This allows you to pin something called “Rich Pins” which are pins that contain more information than they would if you had a personal account.
Having a Pinterest Business account gives you access to analytics tools and snapshots of how your pins are doing.
Fill out your account profile, including any keywords that accurately describe your blog or business. You’d be surprised at just how many users will find you in search by your blog description.
Step 9: Sign up for Google Analytics.
I use two analytics tools for all of my blogs; Google Analytics (naturally) is the standard, and I think every blogger and their dog uses it.
Google Analytics is great, but it’s so blasted huge that it can be kind of confusing reading all the information it provides.
I also use Statcounter because it’s super simple and straight forward. It’s also free (as is Google Analytics).
Be careful of which analytics tools you use to track your blog traffic, because combining the wrong tools can give you false readings like a bounce rate that’s ridiculously low. I learned this the hard way.
Google Analytics and Statcounter don’t ‘double up’ on visitor counts, so using both of them isn’t going to cause any issues.
Step 10: Get Writing!
It’s time to start writing your first blog post!
Take your time, and come up with some topics that you feel confident writing about. Make it as informative as you can. Think of what parts of that information you would want if you were a newbie trying to learn it.
Next post, we’ll talk about how to use Pinterest to get the first traffic to your new blog.