Friday, January 15, 2021



Thinking About Starting a Blog in 2021?

thinking about starting your own blog?
Not sure if it's worth it or where to start?

7 reasons why starting a blog could be
the BEST decision you ever make:

  • the UNLIMITED potential to make money
  • anyone can do it - no tech knowledge required
  • Create a new business
  • allow you to express yourself to the world
  • share your passion, expertise and knowledge
  • create an audience
  • help others and change the world for the better

If you’re thinking about starting a blog but you’re just not quite sure what the next step is? Don’t sweat it! I was in exactly the same position but, without too much thought, a little research and zero technical knowledge about how to set up a website but a determination to learn… I jumped right in!

And now I’m here to tell you that anyone can start a successful blog and make money from it at the same time as doing what they love. The biggest challenge for me was procrastinating – thinking way too much about the challenges, rather than the self-belief to get going. So if any of the following emotions chime with you then maybe it’s time to think about giving blogging a go for yourself!

  • tired of stressful work, lacking motivation from your job
  • wish you could make your own money
  • struggling with debt and bills
  • not interested in work
  • unable to enjoy living in the present because of financial and work pressures

This list described my life to a T. Eat, sleep, work, rinse and repeat but then I discovered the power of passive income and blogging.

To many people blogging is still something that tech-heads or hobbyists do. But it can be so much more. You can make a career out of it, one where you decide how much money you make, how much you work, or don’t work, and what kind of work you do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not plain sailing all the way. But if you want to make anything from $10,000 per month to over a million dollars per month then…. depending on how you go about it I’m here to tell you blogging has the potential to make it happen.

This is the definitive guide to getting your blog started, how you can make money blogging, and each individual step you need to take to get started.

Today I am going to teach you the step by step process for setting up a blog, and trust me, it’s so easy there is nothing to worry about. We will cover the latest strategies, tips and trends, and step by step instructions to create your blog online.

For anybody worried it might be super complicated and technical… I have one thing to say… It’s so simple.

The best bit? You don’t need any coding knowledge. I set up this site with close to zero knowledge about HTML. And even if you do run into any technical difficulties as long as you have chosen a great hosting companies like the one I use, GreenGeeks, then they will have friendly staff on hand to answer any questions and help you sort out any glitches. When I first started out I dropped the team over at GreenGeeks, my hosting provider, so many messages that I got to know them on a first name basis!

They were fantastic and they will help you work out any issues.

Disclaimer: if you take out GreenGeeks hosting, and I think you should because it rocks! Or if you buy something else via this site we may receive an affiliate commission.

It's what helps to keep the site going and it's a great way to monetise your site too; more about that below.  Setting up the foundations for you blog is so easy that you can actually set up your blogging site in the time it takes to have a cup of tea!

Who Am I?

To be honest, I’m no special expert or life guru – but 17 years of work finally motivated me to try something different.

In my first job in London as an Ad Exec on a national breakfast television programme I used to look out across the city from the 17th floor of my office building on a beautiful summers day and think… is this it?

I soon realised that if I stayed in an office for the rest of my life I would always be chained to the desk; even the coolest office in the world is an unnatural environment for a human being. No amount of table football is going to change that.

Discovering the power of passive income and blogging allowed me to take control of my life, walk out of the office for good and spend my time, and my life, doing what I love. I’m here to tell you that you can do the same. So without further ado….

- how to use this guide -

This is a comprehensive guide covers all aspects of setting up your own blog. It’s a big, in-depth guide so feel free to bookmark it now to keep it handy and come back to it when you need to refer or read each section.

Because you might be further along in your journey, or at the very start, I’ve split it up into sections so that you can jump around via the blue links and see the content that’s more relevant to you.

Click on the buttons below to jump to that section and then click the ‘back to contents’ links at the bottom of each section to jump back here, or if your going through the tech stuff click on ‘back to easy-guide overview’ links. Happy blogging!

GUIDE CONTENTS:

 SECTION 1: PICK A NICHE ▶︎ 
what’s your motivation to make money and how to identify a niche

SECTION 2: SHOW ME THE MONEY ▶︎
how you can make money blogging

SECTION 3: THE 7 EASY STEPS ▶︎  
the practical stuff to starting your blog

SECTION 4: CHOOSING A HOST ▶︎ 
welcome to the rest of your blogging life

BONUS SECTION: TOP TIPS + TOOLS ▶︎ 
the most useful blogging advice, tools and tips to know

click on the buttons below to jump to a section:

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.

~ Richard Bach

1: PICK A NICHE

What’s Your Motivation To Create A Blog?

The reason motivation is so important is because why you actually want to write a blog should be closely linked to the niche you want to write about. Why? Because, for example, I know that unless I actually want to write about a specific topic it’s going to have to be within a subject that motivates and interests me. 

TOP TIP: Be flexible when deciding your niche. When I started this blog it was supposed to be solely about meditation. But I soon realised that actually I was just as interested in the financial freedom that allowed me the opportunity to pursue personal freedom in my life.

And in many ways this was more important to me. Because until I had the free time to do what i wanted to do, I would never literally have any time to deeply explore the topic of meditation. The idea of freedom from the traditional idea of ‘work’, or working in an office, and the ability to use that freedom to follow your dreams.

For me having freedom from a job that ties you down in so many different ways was another version of being able to live more mindfully and so Live in the Beat’s new identity was born! Remember the first niche you choose might not always be the one you stick with but a good way of finding out what you might really love to blog about is to ask what motivates you.

Choosing A Niche That Keeps You (And Your Readers) Interested

Whilst it’s important that you choose a topic you find interested, it has to be balanced against something that your potential readers will also be interested in. This is usually know as User Intent.

Think about how you use Google. Most people search Google for the answer to a problem. Their ‘intent’ is to find a solution:

  • Food blogs provide delicious healthy eating tips and recipes 
  • Fitness blogs motivate you to get fit and work out
  • Personal finance blogs help you learn how to manage your money and get out of debt

Your blog should be no different. A successful blog is one that helps its readers solve a problem, no matter how small.

It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before because you will be organising the information and presenting it to the world in your own unique style.  The world is awash with information, what the internet, and your readers, are looking for is personable, easy-to-understand bloggers, writers and authors who they can actually relate to.  

So if you want to change the world and make loads of money then that’s a great motivation to have. Just make your niche is narrowed down into a clear and specific subject. The niche for this blog is money and freedom (one niche) and food (another niche).   You can blog about more than one niche but try not to cast your net too wide as it will be difficult to develop a good body of content in so many different topics. 

Passion or Money?

I want to let you into a little secret: they are not mutually exclusive.

Saying that money is more important than happiness is a bit like saying your arm is more important than your leg. It’s not a binary choice.

Changing the world, monetising content and making money from your blog at the same time as writing about something you are passionate about is one of the best reasons to create a successful blog.

Why? Because if you’re creating an online business in any sector the ultimate test of your products, services and site will be whether or not your readers are willing to exchange monetary value for the information they have found in your blog.

In other words will a reader of your blog pay for a product or service bought from, or recommended by, your blog? If yes, then you have struck internet-gold and proven to the world the measure of your blogs success. However, with money in mind you might be tempted to go for the most profitable niches but remember to balance the desire to make money against a subject that will keep you motivated and interested.

Ask yourself are you still going to be interested in writing about this topic a year or two down the line. 

I love personal freedom (who doesn’t?). For me, this means writing about it is something I could easily do for the rest of my life. It just so happens that in our world we essentially need to ‘buy’ our freedom, if that includes freedom from work.

So a ‘sub-niche’ (and a requriement for my version of freedom) is to concentrate on ways of earning money outside of a traditional 9 to 5 job.

You’ll find a lot of my posts are about money because that generally eqautes to freedom, financially at least. Eqaully you don’t want to blog about a niche that is so niche it’s difficult to monetise content on your blog. 

Niches That Will Make Money

Let’s take a look at some of my favourite blogs that also happen to operate in hugely profitable niches.

Bear in mind this is not an exhaustive list, just a list of the other bloggers I follow – if your not familiar with the blogging landscape then this is potentially a good place to start if you’re looking for some inspiration. 

Food and Lifestyle

Environment and Sustainability

Blogs About Blogging

You might want to start a blog to support your real-world business, express your thoughts as a writer or campaign for a higher awareness around the environment like this blog that I created about the natural world.

Whatever Niche You Settle On, Always Remember This One Key Rule:

Your blog must help your readers. You must always keep in mind the user intent and the problem you are solving for your readers.

Think about how you use Google, why you read blogs and what kind of information you are actually looking for. 9 times out of 10 you are not looking for an update on someone else’s life. You want specific information to help you fix a specific problem.

Gone are the days when people randomly surf the net. That might happen on social media but randomly looking at websites and blogs, it just doesn’t happen. Take it out of the eqaution and make sure your blog adds value, provides useful information and can act as a resource that helps people and, in return, makes money at the same time. 

And to make sure your committed to your blog you’re going to want to choose a topic you love to write about!

Although setting up a blog can be done in less than 30 minutes, maintaining it, adding content and growing your readership is something that does take time so it needs to be a topic that you finding interesting. Personal finance and freedom is a massively important topic for me because, as a subject, I don’t think it’s taught properly in school. And it’s the one subject that can dramatically change your life forever.

Make sure you take your time to properly figure this part out, because if you find the right blogging niche and stay committed it has the potential to change your life. 

NEXT STEPS

  • Figure out your motivation to create a blog. How will it keep you committed and how interested are you in the topic? Grab a notebook and write everything down that interests you and take an afternoon out to brainstorm a whole list of potential topics. Choose something that will keep you as interested now… and also in 5 years time! 
  • Pick a niche that is not only interesting to you but also interesting and useful to your readers. Make your blogging journey easy and pick something that your readers will find interesting. That’s the lifeblood of any blog. It’s important to choose a niche but don’t make it so niche that the potential audience is tiny. Remember the golden rule of blogging, which is people will your blog to find a solution to their problem. Make sure your providing the best solution you can. 
  • Choose a niche that will make money. Blogging to make money is the best way to ensure that your blog is adding value to the internet and the lives of your readers. And there is nothing wrong with focussing on that, in fact it will ensure your blog remain relevant. Take a look at the successful blogs below to research the approach they take and how they help to answer their reader’s problems. 

SAVE THE PLANET ▶︎ CHOOSE CARBON NEGATIVE HOSTING

I use GreenGeeks because of their top class customer service and green credentials.They are carbon negative and help to reduce carbon in the environment by being 300% carbon neutral.

back to contents ▲

2. show me the money

Can You Make Money Blogging?

Absolutely! Bloggers have been making money pretty much since the dawn of the internet. And the financial ecosystem and opportunities in which bloggers can and do make money have become ever more varied year on year.

So what are the key ways that bloggers make money?

  • Use Affiliate Marketing to Refer Customers to Companies - this is when you receive a commission for sending customers over to another company to buy their product or service. 
  • Sell Digital Products that you have created on Your Blog
  • Sell Memberships to your Membership Site
  • Add Banner Ads to Your Blog With Google AdSense or Mediavine
  • Create an Online Store to Sell Physical Products
  • Create Sponsored Content by Working With Brands
  • Charge for Guest Blog Posts for Other Sites and Blogs
 

These are just some of the ways in which you can monetize your blog.

It’s worth exploring each of these methods in more detail to figure out the best way that they can contribute to the bottom line of your site. And if you keep in mind the ways in which you can make money blogging then over time you’ll be able to tailor content and ensure that it serves the needs of your audience best.

The greatest way to check whether or not your blog is adding value to people’s lives is to see whether or not they are willing to buy something as a result of the content on your blog.

A note on ads: If you want to run ads on your blog your’e going to have to build up a signifcant following first so that it’s an attractive deal for advertisers.

Just bear in mind that ads will change the look and feel of your blog and you have no creative control over what kind of content is played out via the ads. MediaVine is a company that works to ensure ads are relevant and relatable to the content produced on the blogs it works with.  But increasingly a significant proportion of blogger income is made up of affiliate commissions. 

Affiliate marketing is the perfect way to monetise your blog because you get to choose the products or services that you work with. You can make sure that you only select products that are closely aligned with the content on your blog which makes for a smoother reader experience.  We’ve all experienced the ads flashing around websites, getting in the way and generally making a nuisance of themselves. As a content creator you want to make the experience of accessing your blog as seamless as possible. 

So when you are thinking about monetising your blog and how to make money blogging it’s important that you look at things from the perspective of your reader and make sure that the monetisation methods you choose do not disturb their experience as they navigate your blog. It’s also worth making sure you focus on the content you’re producing, to begin with.

Your blog needs to add value to your reader’s lives in some way. Remember they are inputting a search term in Google in order to meet the needs of that search. If your readers feel that they are getting lost in monetisation content than they won’t stick around. But before you get onto monetising your blog you need to create your blog first!

Creating a successful blog is about adding value to the online experience of your readers and you can create value for your blog as summarised in the visual I created below. Follow my 7 easy steps in the next section and you’ll have your blog set up in no time at all.

NEXT STEPS

  • Start researching all the different methods of monetising your blog. Think about the different ways that you can monetise your blog and what might be suitable for you. Do you want display ads? Or would you rather focus on affiliate marketing, or a mix of both? 
  • Plan your content based on how well it adds value to your readers. And think about the ways that services and products you’ve used might benefit them. Creating a community online via your blog is one of the best ways to create trust so that readers see you as an authority when you provide recommendations, or your own products in order to monetise your blog. 

back to contents ▲

3. Technical Guide in 7 steps

7 Easy Steps to Starting Your Blog

In the time it takes to have a shower you could have your blog up and running. Starting a blog is simple, straightforward and easy to do (if you follow the detailed steps below) but producing consistent, high-quality content takes time, effort, dedication and commitment. But trust me, it has the potential to change your life.

So let’s great straight to it. Here are the 7 easy steps you need to follow in order to set up your blog.

Y can click on each step to go right to that section and jump back using the ‘back to overview’ links, or you can read through the whole post in one go (about a 5-minute read).

Step 1: Identify your Niche, Focus and Goals 
back to easy-steps overview

We’ve gone through in a lot of detail how important it is to identify a niche that you’re passionate about and one that helps people. Now it’s time to put pen, or fingers to keyboard.

Write down the aim of your blog? Identify your niche, the focus of your blog and what goals you are going to set out for yourself in the first year. Include monetisation goals.

Finding your passion, discovering your voice and writing what you know about is essential but this won’t stand the test of time unless you figure out a way to make your blog profitable.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you are the most articulate or expressive writer. Your skills will develop over time and, if you find the topic interesting, then you’ll continue to develop content. However, the best and only way to develop your blog is to write. Once you start putting your thoughts down you’ll begin to get a clearer picture of what your blog might look like.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

Louis L’Amour

If you are unsure about how your blog will take shape try not to worry too much because you might find it difficult to visualise until you start creating it. I know I did!

A good place to start is by researching the other bloggers online who you really like and think about what it is that set’s them apart, so go through the list of bloggers above. Build up a database of bloggers in your niche that you admire and respect and start researching the topics that they write about.

Think of them as your mentors. You might end up writing about similar topics, but your spin on it will be unique and your content will be yours.

You can research the most shared articles on any blog by using BuzzSumo – just type in the domain to see what topics and posts are most popular.

Top Tip: I set up several blogs about mindfulness, nutrition, yoga and even blogging. But I was only thinking about ways to monetise those blogs. None of those topics are bad topics to choose, personally, I just wasn’t passionate enough to be able to write about them everyday.

Money, Freedom and Food on the other hand….

My point is that you might not discover you’re niche the first time round. Keep an open mind, try to look at things objectively but bear in mind your own interest and passionate for the subject and when you find it you’ll know because you’ll want to wake up in the morning and get started.

Step 2: Choose a Domain Name 
back to easy-steps overview

Your domain name will be the name of your blog. For example LIVEINTHEBEAT is the domain name of this blog.

Choosing a domain name will feel like one of the most important things you do for your blog, after all it’s giving a name to your creation and something that you want to be memorable.

How do you choose a domain name?

  • Make it relatable to your niche and easy to remember. My blog was initially supposed to be about mindfulness and living in the moment, hence live in the beat. When I realised that I was more interested in the things that allowed you the freedom to live in the moment I changed the focus of the blog
  • Keep is short! A good rule of thumb is to keep it to four syllables or less. It sounds better than “tomsblogaboutlivinginthemoment.com” and it’s easy to remember.
  • Keep it easy to spell. If your using more than one word, and there’s a good chance that you will be, than make sure the words you use in your domain name are easy to spell. That will help avoid errors when people are trying to search for your blog.

Try not to get too hung up on your domain name over and above these 3 points. If you can find something that’s relatable, short and easy to spell than your doing well!

Take a few days to think about what your domain could be. You might be surprised to see where the inspiration comes from. I read an article online in which Goldie Hawn gave me the inspiration for my domain name. She said:

“Why not just live in the moment, especially if it has a good beat?”

And I really liked that approach to life. So I registered the domain Liveinthebeat.com and my blog was born, kind of.

If you’ve got a domain name in mind head over to GreenGeeks and click on the GET STARTED NOW green button. You’ll be able to search for your domain in the following screen:

Dreaming up new domain names can be fun. It could be a play on your name, a play on a phrase, the creation of a new word or the repurposing of an old one (Uber, Instagram for exampole). It could be the initials of a few words. And don’t worry if your first attempt doesn’t sound quite right. I registered a ton of domains before I settled on liveinthebeat.com.

 

The more you brainstorm, the closer you will get to your perfect result.

You will sometimes see popular domain names that are available with astronomical prices against them. I would caution against paying huge amounts in order to purchase your perfect domain. There are still tons of short domain names available out there, you just have to use your imagination and try until you find the one that’s right for you.

Whatever it is, make it personal and descriptive of the purpose of your blog.

You do not want your readers to land on your blog without a clear indication of what the site is about. But you know that already… and listen, don’t worry if it’s not too unique or isn’t the perfect domain. After all, there’s like a billion websites out there already.

Chances of you reinventing the wheel in terms of your domain name are pretty slim. If you are passionate and you enjoy talking about what you do, you’ll stick at it and that will shine through.

Domain Privacy Protection

As you go through the process of registering your domain name with GreenGeeks you will be asked if you want to purchase Domain Privacy Protection.  Every website in the world has it’s owners contact details attached to it.

This means that anyone in the world can find your contact details on the WHOIS Database, which is a huge database of all the websites in the world and the people who own them – UNLESS you purchase Domain Privacy Protection.

Domain Privacy Protection is about $10 per year and I really recommend it. If, like me, you initially try to save money by not purchasing it you may end up inundated by emails and phone calls from people who want to design your website for you. We all get enough junk email without adding to the pile. So avoid the cold-calls and protect your privacy. 

If You Already Have A Domain Name, Point Your Domain To Your Hosting Account (Once Opened)

Once you have registered your domain name once you open your GreenGeeks hosting account you will need to point your domain name to your hosting account so that your website is served up when someone types in your web address.

This is a very simple process, however, if you get stuck at any point just drop your hosting provider a line – they will be only too happy to help: Locate your web-hosts DNS (Domain Name Server) settings. Usually, this will look like n21.example.com or ns2.example.com and your hosting provider will be able to confirm these details to you. Login into your domain name registrar account and update your DNS settings.

Once logged in navigate to the Domain Name Server settings and input the details from Step 1. Sit back and wait for the changes to take effect. This can sometimes take 2 hours or less, but usually, it takes anywhere up to 42-78 hours to take effect.

SAVE THE PLANET ▶︎ CHOOSE CARBON NEGATIVE HOSTING

I use GreenGeeks because of their top class customer service and green credentials.They are carbon negative and help to reduce carbon in the environment by being 300% carbon neutral.

Step 3: Open a Hosting Account with GreenGeeks
back to easy-steps overview

Now you will need to open a hosting account. 

I recommend GreenGeeks because I have used a number of different hosting providers and in my experience GreenGeeks has provided the best value for money, the best customer service and has a beneficial impact on the environment, which is definitely a priority for me. 

Your free to choose your preferred hosting provider and I go over the importance of choosing the right hosting provider in section 5 and the kind of variation in services, prices and tech that’s on offer.

Right now though let’s work through the practical steps.

► head over to greengeeks and click "get started now"

► select your plan (from $2.95 per month) + ID Protect for WHOIS Privacy

► complete payment information

GreenGeeks is a fantastic hosting provider. 

Once you have processed your order you will be able to login in to the GreenGeeks server. From this dashboard you can manage your domains or log into your control panel, also known as cPanel. 

In your cPanel there will be a number of icons, abit like apps in the appstore, listed which will help you to control various functions within your website. For now you want to locate the WordPress app which will, after a couple of clicks, enable you to install WordPress on your blog.

If you run into any difficulties just hit the “Request Support” button and the lovely support team will jump into help you out. 

To summarise here’s some of the key stats about the benefits of GreenGeeks hosting and if you’re asking yourself why I’ve only refferred to WordPress in terms of blogging platforms we’ll cover that in section 4. 

  • VALUE HOSTING from $3.95 per month
  • WordPress hosting platform
  • 1-Click App Installer
  • PowerCacher Included
  • Standard Performance
  • 300% Offset with Renewable Energy
  • Unlimited Data Transfer

Step 4: Install WordPress
back to easy-steps overview

Ok, but why WordPress?

It wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration to call WordPress the mother of blogs.

WordPress is the platform that your blog will use. Your host provides the hardware (the physical computer servers that your blog is stored on), but WordPress provides the software (the programming) that powers your blog.

WordPress currently powers 33.4% of the internet, holding a significant market share which jumps to 60% of all CMS (Content Managed System) sites or the type of sites that are managed by you or me (i.e. blogs) . The software itself is free, you just pay for the hosting and domain name. If your a blogger, or you intend to create any kind of website, you should use WordPress. Why? Because it offers the highest degree of flexibility in adapting the look and functionality of your site.

Percentage of CMS websites powered by WordPress
  • WordPress.com – a free, basic version of WordPress that doesn’t require a host
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • SqaureSpace

But WordPress provides the most flexibility and the most functionality out of all of these options. All good website hosts offer a version of the “One-click instal” for WordPress.

Always Use WordPress as your self hosted blog platform. Although there are dozens of blogging platforms out there, WordPress is the only one that truly gives you control. You have your own URL and are entirely in charge of the look and feel of your blog, via the many thousands and thousands of customisable themes available online.

Remember you don’t need to pay anything for this process; it and the WordPress software is completely FREE (you only pay for domain registration and hosting and privacy if you select that).

Navigate to your Control Panel, commonly identified as cpanel in your hosting account (it’s a button listed next to your website domain name).

TOP TIP: This is a great tip for those who want to quickly navigate around hosting accounts (and any webpage in general). You can often be faced with a wall of information about different tools and functionality when you log in to a hosting provider – hit Command (and) F simultaneously on your MacBook’s keyboard, or Control and F on a PC. This will show a search bar at the top of the page which you can use to locate any item on the page, such as a Cpanel!

And from the Cpanel you will be able to initiate the WordPress one-click instal. To summarise those steps simply:

  • Sign in to your renewable-powered hosting account with GreenGeeks
  • Head over to your control panel (Cpanel) by clicking into it from your hosting account page
  • Locate the WordPress or “W” logo. Or a button that states “One-click WordPress instal” – It might look like the WordPress button below.
  • Click “instal now”, sit back and relax as your hosting provider finds and instals the necessary files and databases to create your brand new site

Some hosting providers will have WordPress located in a section called the Softaculous Apps Installer section:

Click New Install, make sure your domain is selected and complete your user account details (these are the details you will use to access the backend of your site).

In the installation process you will need to:

  • select the correct domain
  • add site settings
  • create your admin login (to login to the backend of your blog and publish posts etc)
  • add an existing contact email address (later you can change this to an email that includes your domain (i.e. not gmail or outlook)

Make sure your login details are not easy to guess; this is the number one defence against hackings gaining access to your blog.

Set any other settings as per your requirements, choose a theme you like the look of and hit install.

Themes create the look and feel of your website. As this is such an important topic we’ll go into more detail about themes in Section 5. For the moment choose one that looks good and we’ll come back to themes when we’re ready to style your site.

TOP TIP: If you get into any difficulties GreenGeeks have a fantastic technical support team who are always on hand 24/7 ready to help. Unlike other hosts I haven’t experienced a wait time in their chat responses. Click on Request Support Pin, as shown below, in your GreenGeeks dashboard. Think of them as the IT Department!

Once you have installed WordPress you will be able to log in to the backend of your website. This is where you will input the account details you just created. The URL for that is http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin

And you are ready to publish!

TOP TIP: Once you are published you can start exploring the various ways to make money blogging and it will be tempting to get publishing straight away but it’s really important that you build up an initial body of content to begin within in order to make your site look complete. I recommend between 20-50 blog posts.

You’ve done the easy bit, like I said in the time it takes to have a shower. Now it’s time for the real fun to begin.

 

Step 5: Design and Customise your Blog using a No-coding-Required theme from ELEGANT THEMES
back to easy-steps overview

What is a theme and why do you need one?

Your theme controls the look and style of your site. Its the stylistic coding that influences everything you see from your fonts, to your colours, your layouts and functionality.

Think of a theme a bit like an expensive coat, or a suit, or anything that you like to wear. The quality of clothing usually depends on how much you choose to spend, and it’s the same with WordPress themes.

When you first set up your WordPress blog you will have chosen a free theme; there’s nothing wrong with that at all and you can find some beautiful themes. They are a great way to set up your blog and test the functionality of WordPress, especially if you are logging in for the first time.

You can navigate to Appearance ▶︎ Add new ▶︎ Select and theme, install and activate.

You can then choose your theme, activate and start publishing. However, if you want your website to look really good and have the functionality of a no-coding-required theme that simply makes life easier than you are going to want to make a bit of an investment.

Remember once you start adding content everything will be displayed through the filter of your chosen theme. So you want to make a good choice that enable you to update the look and feel of your blog easily; and for the best WordPress themes that requires a purchase.

Why pay for a WordPress theme?

When you buy a premium WordPress theme you get exactly that! A premium product supported by strong customer service. You don’t get any customer service when you use a free theme and, unless you have good coding knowledge, that probably isn’t the best route for you.

Divi WordPress ThemeBecause I’m a bit lazy I like to research the most popular options in the WordPress theme world and see what works best. And what is most popular, because if a theme has been downloaded millions of times the world over, then you can be pretty sure that its a good, well resourced, popular theme.

Elegant Themes have created the world’s mort popular WordPress DIVI theme:

Why Elegant Themes Are No 1 For Blog Design

The reason why? The customisation options for this theme are limitless. You can pretty much design any type of website you like… all without any coding knowledge required.

This suits me down to the ground because I love to design, but I am not a coder in the slightest.

In fact I have been so impressed with Elegant Theme’s Divi WordPress Theme, I wrote a full review which you can check out here by clicking on the banner to the right:

Installing Your Theme

Once you have bought the DIVI theme from Elegant Themes you will be able to download the theme files to your computer.

Follow these steps to get your no-coding-required theme up and running on your blog:

  1. download the theme files from your Elegant Themes account and zip/compress them on your computer
  2. navigate to your blog dashboard ▶︎ appearance ▶︎ and click the ‘add new’ button
  3. click ‘upload theme’ and select your theme’s zipped folder

You can read my review, here on the right, before making up your mind and come back to this guide. 

But if you want to try it on a live website head over via this link and you can literally start editing the Elegant Themes Demo Page.

The main product from Elegant Themes is their DIVI All-in-one theme. This is supported by a number of different plugins and access to the supplementary theme, EXTRA.

It’s up to you which theme you choose but the DIVI theme from Elegant Themes will enable you to achieve any look and style of website you choose. This is essential when we take into account the fact that your blog needs to be mobile responsive (most blog visits happen on mobile) and also 

Take the time to consider which theme is right for you and if you decide to start designing your Elegant Themes blog then head over to the sign up page:

Step 6: Create your Blog’s core Pages, Menus and Branding
back to easy-steps overview

This is the step that is the most challenging, enjoyable, creative, difficult, interesting part of the process.

You are adding your own unique voice to the world wide web. You’re creating content that will be of value to other people and you are setting yourself apart from the crowd.

You will need to think about your tone of voice, your perspective on your choice blogging topic and how you can add value to the swirling mass of information that is the internet. 

It’s also the step where most people give up. It requires determination, consistency, effort and hard work. And that can be difficult if you have a job, your studying, or your blog is taking a while to get off the ground.

Before you get straight to publishing content it’s important to review the basic pages that make up the content of your blog.

The Difference Between a Page and a Post

WordPress posts have an official publish date and are displayed by date on your site’s blog page. When you post a blog you will be using a post. You can enable comments to have more interaction with your readers and posts can generally be pinned and shared to social media accounts.

WordPress pages do not have a publish date and are meant for static, timeless content. Two common examples of content that should be a page are your site’s “Contact” or “About” pages but all of the menu linked pages on this blog are static pages – that’s because I want them to be timeless pages that either provide useful info or links to other posts. 

Most blogs and websites have the following universal characteristics and follow some of these steps in setting up their presence:

  • add an ABOUT page
  • add a top menu: this usually covers the main sections of your site or blog
  • add a footer menu: this might include pages such as any disclosures or terms and conditions
  • add a front or home page: this is the landing page that visitors will see when they type in your URL
  • Set a site title and tagline

There are some universal strategies you can adopt to help you stay committed and to help you progress your blog:

  • Stay committed by setting yourself a regular blog schedule. With any blog it’s a good idea to create a work-plan in Google Sheets or Excel. Take the time to research blog post titles with category suggestions, links to research and suggested dates for publication. Don’t forget it can take time to pull together a well-crafted blog post, so you need to ensure that you set aside enough time to do this work. 
  • Write great content that adds value. And remember to always ask yourself why would your reader want to read your blog; what added value are you creating. In world of online blogging the key to creating a successful blog is to make sure that you create useful content for your readers.
  • Figure out who the experts are in your niche. And follow them. Sign up to their email lists and read their blogs. Chances are that they have been doing it a lot longer than you and if they are an established authority they will know what works. Learn from the best!
  • Get Creative. Show your design skills (see below), make sure that your message is conveyed clearly and concisely and in a way that is useful and relevant to your readers.
  • Have Fun! You have to enjoy what you do because that’s the only way that you will stay committed and don’t be afraid to inject some of that humour and fun into your blog. The reason why blogging is such a popular pastime on the internet is that it brings the human element into topics, subjects and conversations that might otherwise be too formal or commercialised.
 

Step 7: Create and Design Amazing, Strategic Content that Helps your Readers
back to easy-steps overview

By now you should be well aware that the key to creating amazing, strategic content that helps your readers is to well, help your readers!

That means in-depth well-researched posts and guides that help to address specific problems, like creating a 10,000 word+ guide about how to start a blog for example. Now where can I find a really good guide about that…

One of the best ways to plan, and track, the posts you create is to plan your content in a forward planning and research spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel that enables you to see what other leading-bloggers-in-their-field are doing and you can use it to take inspiration from them. Your content needs to be as good as the best bloggers out there and remember that your not reinventing the wheel, you’re creating useful, valuable content with your perspective on it. 

You must never copy content or use images without explicit permission or licensing, but if you can develop your own expressive voice online, whilst adding value to your readers experience than you will have hit the sweet spot in terms of a blog that adds value and creates value.

Content is king, or Queen, as they say but nonetheless there are some universal design principles that you should try to include so that your readers journey, whilst reading your blog, is as seamless as possible.  

Design Principle #1 – Keep Your Blog Design Clean and User-Friendly 

When your thinking about the look and feel of your blog research the sites that you like most. Build up a list, subscribe to their email opt-ins and start to think about how you can creatively set your website apart from the crowd. If you build up a large internet following and your keen to make money blogging then you may be tempted to cover your site in ads. But there is a good chance this will ruin the look and feel of your blog. So tread cautiously and stay true to your own style as that will be what attracted readers to you in the first place.

You might want to start thinking stylistically about some characteristics that your site or blog will have. What could the branding look like? What colours could you use?

You might prefer a clean-cut, image free site like Zen Habits; Or the image friendly, food-friendly (now I’m hungry) blog from Deliciously Ella:

 

Whichever approach you choose you should try to keep your blog clean and clutter-free.

Make your post header catchy and relevant and keep your blog design fresh and appealing.

A key component of making your blog look professional is to pay for a professional theme. Your WordPress theme is simply the template that you use. A bit like the foundations of a house. You can still style your blog in any way you wish, but using a good, solid, professional theme will help you to build a strong site that stands the test of time.

A great theme provider is Elegant Themes and I can guarantee that you will be able to design any type of website you want. The important point to stress is that you will need to pay for your WordPress theme because if you use a free, or very cheap, theme then it will inevitably look very cheap. If your blog looks amateur visitors will assume it is amateur and will click away in seconds, prioritising those blogs that offer a professional look with good quality content.

Always remember that every-time someone searches on Google they are looking for the answer to a question or for information that is relevant to their search. It’s Google’s job to make sure that the most relevant results towards answering that search query are served up in order of relevance and its the job of your blog to ensure that the information and content provided goes as far as it can towards meeting the needs of that search.

Do not be afraid of white space in your blog. It contributes towards the clean feeling and shows your reader when sections of your blog begin and end. Keeping your content and white space balanced avoids things looking over cluttered. Check through your posts for readability.

It goes without saying that you should try to ensure your blog posts have zero spelling or grammatical errors in (though as far as I’m concerned this is an ideal and not always a reality as I just so happen to be the world’s worst proof reader). For the most part, you should try to ensure good grammar and punctuation. This is the only way you are communicating with your readers so you want to ensure they understand what you have to say.

To make your posts more readable your text can include:

  • Headers to separate out sections of content
  • Short and concise paragraphs separated by lines of space
  • Using lists to break up your content
  • Using the quotation function within WordPress to highlight prominent of important quotes within the content
  • Using different font sizes (sparingly!) in the same way that a newspaper article might print the first paragraph of a story in a larger font

Think carefully about your menus and navigation tabs.

What are the most important categories for your blog? Y

ou might want to separate these items into individual menu headings so that readers can clearly navigate their way around your blog. You can organise your menus to show the header categories with sub-menus to show sub-categories.

Remember to keep the content clear and concise and within the standard of your blog design. Including information about you and your journey on your site.

Even if your blog is related to a topic that doesn’t require your personal information your readers will still be interested in your personal history and will always want to know who you are, why you set up the blog and a little bit about your own journey.

It’s useful, it can be inspiring and it’s a very human trait. For anyone who is less than an extroverted person (myself included) this can seem a little daunting but whatever you have experienced in the past, remember people are coming to your blog for a very particular reason, a reason which is hopefully connected to your own motivation for setting up the blog in the first place.

And if you can provide an answer, some help, support or guidance to meet that reason then they will be extremely grateful. Do not be reluctant to present yourself to the world. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s.

Design Principle #2 – Use a Mobile Responsive Theme 

But what exactly is a Mobile Responsive Theme? Essentially it means a WordPress theme that can be viewed on mobile without looking clunky, or messed up. Trust me this can be difficult to get right. 

The reason you should use a mobile responsive theme is because the number of internet connections made by mobile now vastly outnumber those made by a computer.  And if you want to be accessible to all, to make money blogging and relevant then making sure your blog is easily accessible by mobile is a great idea. 

One of the easiest ways to ensure your WordPress theme is mobile responsive air to use a theme that has in-built mobile responsiveness. As we highlighted before Elegant Themes has created the DIVI theme which is an all-in-one package and includes full mobile responsive functionality. As one of the most user-friendly, versatile, flexible theme on the planet today the DIVI theme is also entirely mobile responsive. That’s why their Divi theme is the Number 1 selling theme available. 

Design Principle #3 – Be Simple In Your Design, Concise In Your Message

Simplicity is beauty when it comes to blog design.  If you don’t believe me head over to Google. Lot of white space there. Check our Apple or take a look at Uber.  These sites all have one thing in common: simplicity is at the heart of their design. It’s the design ethic of the times and if you want your blog to look appealing, up to date with the current trends and stylish than keep simplicity in mind when you are designing your site. In terms of your posts, conciseness doesn’t necessarily mean short. As you can see this guide extends to many thousands of words.  Conciseness is the ability to ensure every sentence has meaning and context.

Length is not the measure of conciseness. Value is. I’m sure I could go back through this guide and do a good chunk of editing, but when it comes to the longer posts or guides that you write you want to make sure that every sentence is useful, every sentence is concise, has meaning and is of value, such as emphasising a point – like this sentence! Here’s some quick tips to try and pull into your writing style (I’m still working on mine!):

  • keep your point in mind
  • say what you mean, and mean what you say
  • don’t waffle
  • is this sentence adding value or wasting time?

Your writing style will evolve over time. Keep in mind an analytical sensibility so that when you are reading other blogs in your niche you can create your own awareness around what works and what doesn’t.

NEXT STEPS

  • Work through the 7 easy steps taking your time to work through each stage. Make sure you choose the right domain name and select a niche that will keep you and your readers engaged.
  • Invest in your blogging journey and yourself by choosing good quality hosting and a premium theme to help your blog look professional when it’s ready to launch.
  • Customise your theme and start creating a style that will be consistent through-out your blog
  • Get blogging! and write epic, amazing, well-thought out and structured content that will add value and be the information that your readers are looking for when they come to your blog.

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4. choose a responsible host

I’ve already talked hosting within this guide but I believe choosing a responsible host is worth emphasising simply because we are facing a climate emergency and we all need to work together and make better choices to help us deal with that.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the The Internet’s Secret Environment Problem & its Destructive Impact

Yup. Your blog could be contributing to the destruction of the natural environment. Why? Because hosting providers utilise massive warehouses full of server towers of computers which need to be kept in huge air-conditioned rooms in order to work (you’ve seen this kind of thing in the films).

So what can us budding bloggers do about it?

You may have possibly noticed that GreenGeeks has been referenced through-out this guide.

And there’s good reason for that. 

GreenGeeks is a fantastic hosting provider. 

I have used a number of hosting providers in the past and I’ve found that customer service and technical support was lacking. I think sometimes the bigger host struggle to keep up with demand, so they scale up their operations and the support agents aren’t always full able to answer any queries.

That’s not been the case with GreenGeeks – their customer service and technical support has been spot on and I’ve never encountered wait-times longer than a couple of minutes. In contrast to the other big providers like Bluehost and GoDaddy, I’ve found hosting with GreenGeeks much easier. 

The Internet is One of the World’s Largest Polluters

And will soon eclipse all other industries in terms of its carbon output.

Do you want your blog to be part of an online infrastructure that’s destroying the natural world?

I hope not!

There are two simple priorities that I have when it comes to select hosting:

  1. My hosting provider must be powered by renewable energy that doesn’t harm the environment
  2. The customer and technical support must be excellent

GreenGeeks meets these two requirements and in fact is carbon negative – this means they end up purchasing 3 times the amount of renewable energy they need and they put it back into the grid, so that other people and organisations use that energy instead of carbon emitting fossil fuels. 

You don’t have to choose GreenGeeks has your hosting provider but I can tell you that my experience with them has been a good one and I can feel happy and relaxed posting away and knowing at the same time my blog is helping to reduce carbon emissions around the globe. 

SAVE THE PLANET ▶︎ CHOOSE CARBON NEGATIVE HOSTING

I use GreenGeeks because of their top class customer service and green credentials.They are carbon negative and help to reduce carbon in the environment by being 300% carbon neutral.

But if you want something with even more power that provides a total ‘concierge’ style service than you can choose from a number of premium hosting providers. 

Kinsta is a premium hosting company that provides a concierge-style service towards its customers. And it comes at a price. Their starter package is $30 per month but if you are time-poor and need solid IT support then Kinsta will provide it.

As specialists in WordPress hosting Kinsta will provide a top-quality product for those seeking to establish a strong online presence. With a customer churn of an industry-beating 4% it’s clear that a whopping 96% Kinsta customers are happy with their hosting.

To give you a quick useful overview I’ve created a summary table below:

KINSTA

Hosting
  • PREMIUM HOSTING from $30 per month
  • Fully managed WordPress hosting platform
  • Fast websites: Speed obsessive architecture
  • High-security network
  • Top tech with next-generation infrastructure
  • Powered by Google Cloud Platform and 22 global data centres.
  • FREE site migrations

Kinsta is also powered from renewable sources which means it does not depend on the climate-changing, fossil-fuelled power stations that so many big hosting companies rely on.

Kinsta is a great hosting provider especially for those looking for a premium service. With speed-obsessed architecture and a high-security network, serving up your site in a secure way, Kinsta provides a technological platform that will give you peace of mind your website is being well-catered for.

using renewable energy to power your blogBoth of these site hosts have so many great benefits (Great 24/7 customer service, free domain, free SSL security certificates). But the question for you is whether or not you are looking for a premium service which caters for all needs such as Kinsta or whether your already a confident user of WordPress in which case GreenGeeks might be the choice for you.

The most important aspect for across both these site hosts is that RENEWABLE ENERGY powers them. For GreenGeeks their servers are powered by a 300% renewable. This means GreenGeeks replaces 3x the amount of energy they consume from the grid in the form of renewable energy credits, whilst Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform, which is fully renewable and also adds an additional layer of security by ensuring your website is always accessible and always online.

It’s such a simple choice to make. And one that still provides you with the same great choices you would get from any other hosting provider.

SECTION 4 TAKEAWAYS

  • Choose an Environmentally Responsible Host by selecting one that doesn’t power its servers with carbon polluting energy.
  • Think of your Hosting Provider as the IT Department: technical teams will support you with any hosting-related query and, so long as you choose a good host, they should provide a solid and responsive service. 

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5. unlock bonus tools

I created this guide to help anyone who wants to start a blog but is unsure of how to go about doing it. I’ve aimed to cover all the technical steps and the essentials to getting your blog up and running.

Blogging is such huge topic it would be impossible to cover everything in one guide.

Although this guide runs to over 10,000 words it’s just the tip of the ice-berg. But I don’t want to overwhelm you in one go. Which is why I am breaking down the topics into bitesize chunks, including additional guides that will cover the following topics (if there’s anything else that you would find useful please let me know in the comments section):

▶︎ Creating Social and Shareable Content that Helps Yours Readers

▶︎ Designing Eye-catching Pins for PINTEREST and the Secret Strategies for Pinterest Success

▶︎ Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Why It’s Still the Holy Grail for Blog Traffic

▶︎ Money, Money, Money: the Best, and Easiest Ways to Make Money On Your Blog

I’ll add these guides as resources below as I create them, in the meantime the essential tools for a new blog are detailed below – these will help your new blog realise it’s full potential. Before we go over them it’s worth addressing a key question that every new blogger will ask themselves.

Do You Need to Invest Money in Your Blogging Journey?

Yes.

The longer answer is that you can find everything you need to know about blogging online for free, but it will take you forever and a day.

You can use a free WordPress theme and learn how to code, you can figure out how to make money from your blog by trial and error but it will take a long, long time especially when there are experts out there willing to teach you everything you need to know if you are willing to make an investment in your blogging future. 

When I started I tried to go down the free route. But I knew I didn’t have all the answers and trying to figure them out would take more time than I had available.

I developed a database of blogger’s that I trusted and most of them are listed at the top of this guide.  When I saw the courses, tools, products and resources that were commonly used by all the most successful bloggers I began to see that investing in these tools might enable be to achieve the same levels of success.

Some of these tools are free, some of them are a little expensive but I want you to think about your reasons for starting a blog. If you started it to make money and change your life than it’s very likely that the knowledge you gain from the tools below will help you to produce a successful blog that will recoup your investment many times over. 

We all spend money on expensive products be it the latest iPhone, Laptop or Car. But if your willing to learn from the experts than I reckon one of the best ways you can spend money is by investing in yourself. 

Unlock Your Blog’s Full Potential With These Tools and Resources

- hosting -

SAVE THE PLANET ▶︎ CHOOSE CARBON NEGATIVE HOSTING

I use GreenGeeks because of their top class customer service and green credentials.They are carbon negative and help to reduce carbon in the environment by being 300% carbon neutral.

- wordpress all-in-one theme -

DIVI from ELEGANT THEMES

DIVI is the #1 Selling WordPress Theme. That's because DIVI comes with a built-in drag & drop builder that you can use to create any type of layout.

20 pre-made DIVI layouts are also available to powerfully jump start your new blog. It's the most popular WordPress theme on the market. Get started with DIVI today!

- BLOGGING COURSES -

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE BLOGGING FRAMEWORK AVAILABLE

The most powerful lesson I took away from the Blog Simple Framework was learning how to understand the psychology of a blog reader and also that of a blogger.

This led to a total 180 degree turnabout in my approach. With 13 individual courses investing in this framework will teach you how to be successful at blogging and give you all the tools to get started.

- PREMIUM STOCK IMAGES -

DEPOSIT PHOTOS SUBSCRIPTION

For premium photos and images of an exceptionally high quality subscribe to Deposit Photos below. Make your blog stand out from the crowd with better images.

Deposit Photos is the best value premium photo subscription available.

- FREE STOCK IMAGES -

An image has the power of a thousand words. 

But when it comes to paying for the images you use on your blog it pays to be strategic. 

Let me explain. The free stock image websites listed below operate on a Wikipedia-style model. That means that users of the websites (i.e. amateur photographers) provide the images that are available on these sites for license-free download. 

What this means is that when you search for ‘beautiful sunset’ than you will find thousands of these images on the free image sites because everyone and his grandma loves to take a picture of a beautiful sunset and share it with the world. And we appreciate them for it.

But if you need something a little more specific, such as ‘thoughtful man looking upwards’ which can be a great type of image to use on a Pinterest pin for example, then for a decent quality image your going to need to licence it through a site like Shutterstock – these kind of images are just not freely available, at least not at a high level of quality.  

Shutterstock can be expensive so pick your images carefully and, because it operates as a monthly subscription make sure you switch your subscription off when you no longer need it.

For everything else, check out the sites below:

Good for Video ▶︎

Good for Music ▶︎

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can blogging really change your life?

At the start of this guide I gave you 7 reasons why starting a blog could be the best decision you make. 

But really there’s just one reason that really matters and that’s the freedom to choose what you do with your life. Because everything else that you want to do is only possible when you have freedom from work, freedom from worries about money and freedom from being tied to a specific desk, building or location day after day.

If you want more time, money and freedom blogging can help you get there.

I spent years of my life head down, clocking into the office, sitting in pointless meetings, staring out of the window, doing endless administration and experiencing the effects of other people’s stresses and bad management practices. I was unfit and unhappy.

When I left the world of the office all of those stresses washed off me like water off a ducks back. It was like waking up from a bad dream. 

Imagine discovering the power of passive income, creating a blog that makes money for you whilst you sleep and waking up knowing that, as you turn your laptop on and make yourself a cup of tea, you are richer than you were yesterday. If you have the desire to live life on your own terms, are willing to learn and know exactly how you’d spend your days then blogging is for you.

Whether you want to walk to the beat of your own drum or work through the checklist of other people’s expectation really comes down to choice. Sometimes the pull of conformity is so strong that it can be difficult to take a chance, make the leap and jump into the unknown.

But then again, will anything new ever happen unless you take a chance, make the leap and jump into the unknown?

the greatest journeys start with the smallest steps

Starting a blog is the first step on a journey that could change your life forever.

Like all great journeys it will call for hard work, effort and patience.  There may be times when you want to throw in the towel and give it up, but if you believe in yourself and your dreams then you will have the perseverance to succeed. I know, because I failed many times and just kept going. And if I can do it, you can too.

I really hope this guide has helped demystify some of the processes around setting up your own blog and also inspired you to start a journey that could change your life.

If you’ve found this guide useful I would REALLY APPRECIATE it if you pinned it on PINTEREST to share with anyone of your friends or family who might also be interested in setting up a blog or website or even just so you can keep it handy as a reference to come back to. 

▶︎▶︎ PIN IT FOR LATER  ▶︎▶︎

I’m working to create a whole bunch of guides to really support you on your blogging journey.
In the meantime check out my other posts and guides below.

And most of all, the one thing that you should never, ever forget is to…

Have Fun Blogging!