How to start a blog for beginners – A guide for creatives
Since this blog is for all the creatives out there and some of you want to start a blog this year, I thought I’d put together a Guide to start a blog. I blogged more or less since 2012 and learned a LOT along the way that I want to teach you. This post has the basics and a lot tips & tools you didn’t know before. And it’s gonna be a long one…that’s the secret code for “Grab a snack!”
Oh and don’t forget to read till the end, because I have a surprise for everyone that wants to start blogging now!
*This post contains affiliate links
How to start a blog – The basics
So how do you start a blog itself? If you want a very good blog you need to plan a bit and invest at least a little bit into a good website and I show you my favorite options that I use or used myself.
Pick a name and a niche
The first two things you need are a name and a niche and this can take some time. If you aren’t very creative you can simply choose your name or your name and something related to the niche you choose. If you blog about food you might call yourself “AnnasFoodFactory” or if you talk a lot about feminine topics you might call yourself “GaiaGirlpower”. It helps to have a word beginning with the same letter as your name as a second word. It just flows better when you say it. I personally named my blog after a nickname I had on social media for years.
You might not know what niche to pick and that’s why I have some ideas for you:
- Plus size fashion
- Vegan food & fitness
- Teaching art (Watercolor, Anatomy,…)
- Recycling & zero waste
- Book reviews
- Journaling & handlettering
- Organization & cleaning
- Finances & saving tips
- Resources for other bloggers
Where to blog
Now you know your niche, but where should you start a blog?
There are 3 big sites that could work for you, one option is free and two options will cost you a bit of money but have more quality.
Blogger is a service made by Google and lets you have an own website. The website name will have a .blogspot in it and the SEO is hard to optimize (which is very important). I used it for multiple years and it is great for everyone that doesn’t want a blog to make money with it. If you wanna test the water you should definitely go with Blogger, but other than that I wouldn’t recommend it if you are serious about building a business with blogging.
Squarespace websites look very sleek and professional and are great if you have more of a business and less of a blog. It can totally work for bloggers, but the SEO here is also hard to optimize. You also need to invest a lot right from the beginning, because you should choose the business option (240 $ /year). It could work very well if you have a product or service based blog. Maybe you are a coach and want to show that on the home page and then lead people to your blog.
The holy grail for bloggers. You have thousands of options for designs, SEO is very easy with plugins and you can choose literally everything with this option. You need a Web Hosting service for this, which costs a bit of money, but in the long run, it is less than Squarespace. I use WordPress for over a year now and while it takes a little longer to get used to it is worth the higher quality. Since this is the only platform where you need to search everything together yourself I’m gonna give you some tips for services and plugins to use down below.
Things you´ll need
There are a lot of things that I personally tested and want to recommend to you in this section. Just click on the names of the services and tools to get to their site.
The first thing you will need is a web hosting service. I personally use Bluehost and never had problems with it, I bought the Standard option for three years and the extra safety option for $0.99 per month.
Friends of mine have a good experience with DreamHost. I would go with the Plus Package since it gives you better safety with malware and has Jetpack Professional in it which is a very good and important WordPress plugin that can make backups if you have Jetpack Professional. It’s a good deal to have that automatically in the hosting package for that price (which costs less in a year than the plugin itself)
Depending on which platform you use or if you want more than one domain you need a domain service. With hosting services like Bluehost you get a .com domain and a lot of subdomains, but if you want more than that you should use GoDaddy. They have tons of cheap domains and a very convenient overview for all of them PLUS emails fitting to the domain. I love their service and many bloggers I know use GoDaddy too.
But how do you make it look good?
Now you have a plan of what you want to do and a website, but you also want a beautiful blog. There are tons of designs that are already free to use on WordPress, but they don’t really look that good or unique. There are three places that I can recommend to you for great and beautiful designs.
This is a little website full of beautiful WordPress designs made by Jennifer. They all look unique and are perfect for all of you that want to build a mailing list or a client base for something like coaching. I personally love the Serendipitous Theme a lot since it would fit pretty much every blog topic and has this cute little newsletter sign up part that you can customize how you want it. These themes also have a lifetime support coming with them, but one little disclaimer: You need to buy the Genesis Framework that the design is built with beforehand. Here is a link to the Genesis Framework by Studiopress.
You might know this site for all their beautiful fonts and stock photography, but they also sell beautiful WordPress themes forever niche you could think of. Always read the description before you buy! Some of them come with a framework and some of them don´t.
My personal favorites are Blush, Blog Boss & Akay but there are so many others that might fit you better. This is just what I prefer and love to look at.
If you really want to invest in a new website to have it go through the roof you can use 99Designs. There you can find a highly professional web designer or start a design contest if you don’t have 100% knowledge of what you want, but what essentials should be in it. If you work with a chosen designer from the beginning you might also come back to him for other Designs. They also do landing pages, merchandise, and product design. It’s straight up heaven if you can invest in it.
Brainstorm blog post ideas
After all of those steps, you are technically ready to start the most professional blog ever. But now you need some blog post ideas to even fill your site with content. My favorite way to get inspired is to search for blog posts in the same niche on Pinterest and look what’s popular. Then I write my own version, give it a twist and try to make it even better.
If you are in a creative rut after all of this I can recommend you the “Break out of a creative rut forever” ebook in my Freebie Library.
If you aren’t signed up for my newsletter for creatives you should do it here:
Tools you (might) need
Now you have some really nice blog post ideas and know how to start a blog on WordPress, but you need great pictures. You can use royalty free pictures (I´m gonna talk about that deeper in my course) but to have a more personalized and unique mood on your website you should take and edit the pictures yourself.
Cameras are an investment, but they are worth it for years. My personal favorites (that I all owned or tested at some point) are the Canon G7x Mark II if you want to have a little camera, Canon Eos 750d if you want a DSLR camera that you will use for years and Canon Eos 70d if you want to invest and also want to use it for filming or with very high-end lenses. My favorite lens for blog photography is the Nifty Fifty – the 50mm 1.8.
Editing is also a very important part of your branding and while there are some free programs that you can use, in the long run, the programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud are the most effective ones. I personally started out with Adobe Lightroom, which is paid once and can be used forever without paying monthly. It can be absolutely enough to have Lightroom for editing blog pictures.
I personally also use Adobe Photoshop a lot for the Graphics on this blog and know a lot of bloggers do all of their work with it too, just because it’s a faster way to do it than with sites like Canva (which I sometimes use for Mini-Ebooks).
As soon as you get better at editing with those programs you obviously want to share them and grow your blog presence in general. And the way to do that is Social Media. Which Social Media channels should you have?
Number one for sharing personal updates and always be up-to-date with your followers is Instagram. It’s the best social media for nearly every niche and is great to connect with other bloggers in your niche. You also should have a Facebook page to connect it to your Instagram page to have a business account with analytics. The only thing I do with my Facebook page at the moment is auto-postings from my Social Media Management Tool.
Number two is Pinterest. It isn’t really a social media and more a visual search engine. But it is great to reach new readers and learn more and more about SEO. I see it as an easier version of Google that is more fun to use. I sometimes just stay up longer to sort Pins into Boards. There are so many interesting facts about Pinterest that I learned through the years and also different strategies. It simply is for everyone in every niche. I also talk much deeper about it in my course if you want to learn more about it without paying hundreds of dollars on big courses or coaching.
My third Social Media that I use more to be personal and less for business and blogging is Twitter. It’s just nice to give little updates on your mood and connect with people over a longer period of time. Some people don’t really get the hang of it so I´m not going to go deeper into it. But it’s great to connect and share more unimportant things.
Extra Resources for blogging
Now you have all the basics that are important to start a blog. But there is a little bit more that makes blogging easier for you. WordPress Plugins are important to make everything flow better and make it easier to share. And I also use a few programs to grow my reach and make higher quality content.
You don’t want to have tons of Plugins. A few good ones are better than a lot of mediocre ones. I didn’t include plugins that help you to verify your website to sites like Pinterest or Google. All of these have free versions, but I recommend paid versions if they make more sense in the long run.
I already talked about SEO and how it is important for Pinterest and to get found on Google. Yoast SEO is a tool that helps you to make the SEO process easier. It shows you what you need to do better in every post and how to do it. A lot of us forget to have a good meta description or alt-tags on our pictures on the blog. This plugin teaches you what that is and how to make it better.
Your blog posts should be easily shareable and this plugin puts a nice pin it button over all the pictures in your content. Since some people don´t have a Pinterest Plugin for their browser it can help a lot to have this installed. If you are on my blog in a browser right now you can hover over the pictures in this post and see the button that fades in.
This is what it sounds like. You obviously want people to write you emails. May it be a reader mail or someone that wants to give you free products. You can see how this plugin looks on my “Contact” site on this blog. It’s very basic, but it does what it needs to do. Everyone should use it in my opinion.
If you are a bit into this technical side of blogging you might know that pictures can make your site load slower and this is bad if you wanna keep people on your site. This plugin compresses your blog pictures without losing quality and makes your blog load faster again. I just found it a few weeks ago and love it so far.
I already mentioned it in the Web Hosting part of this blog post. This plugin gives your blog a better security, makes your blog faster & makes backups. If you don’t use DreamHost you should still go with the Premium version of the plugin. This gives your website a better safety system and ensures backups (which the free version doesn’t have).
This plugin was my lifesaver when it comes to email sign-ups in a blog post. They are compatible with tons of mailing services and have beautiful sign-up forms that you can use. They are fully customizable and are mobile optimized too. I personally would recommend the Gold Option since it has Premium Themes, better analytics and Tracking Pixels (which you should learn more about!). I swear by this tool for building a mailing list.
There are some tools that make my blog work outside of WordPress a lot easier and are key tools to success.
If I wouldn’t use this tool…there would be so many things wrong in my blog posts. English is not my main language and this tool shows me every time what I wrote wrong and what I need to work on. The paid version of Grammarly is definitely worth it since it shows you which sentences could have a better flow if you change them and it generally gives you more statistics for your writing.
You might have heard about this tool on youtube or in another blog post. Trello lets you make boards to organize your ideas and projects. I personally use it for brainstorming ideas and my editorial calendar and plan on using it for more projects in the near future. You can get power-ups for boards for a bit more function and with Trello Gold you can have 3 of them on one board which is perfect if you have a big project like starting a blog in the making. I love the calendar tool the most, but there are dozens of other cool tools I use or want to test.
It´s what it sounds like. It helps you to boost your Pinterest boards and is the most inexpensive tool to grow on Pinterest. I personally suggest to start out with this because you only need to pay 5-10 bucks a month and the first two weeks are free so feel free to click the link and try it out. I personally have good results with it.
This is my holy grail for Pinterest. Tailwind helps you to schedule, share and plan Pins on Pinterest. In this tool, you can be part of Tribes and share their content on your boards and they can share your stuff. This helps a lot if you are in a set niche that you need Pins for. You can test it in a Free Trial and after that, it is only $10 a month. The system is very easy with drag-and-drop schedules and analytics that show you when your audience is the most engaged. I really recommend it.
This is a mailing tool that I plan to change to in the future. Convertkit is an email list service like MailChimp (which is free and great for the start) that makes sense if you have over 1k people on your mailing list. MailChimp is good for the beginning, but this service will be more convenient in the long run. It’s perfect for every content creator out there and has a very detailed system to target the right people with your mail marketing. I really recommend it if you already have a mailing list or know that it will grow fast.
When it goes into making money with your blog it is very important to have the right paperwork. You should always have some kind of contract that´s verified by a lawyer in your country. If you are from the US you are the lucky one here, because The Contract Shop has tons of approved contracts that you can use for the important things in your business. They also have really good workbooks that give you very helpful information.
I also have a freebie for you. You read this whole blog post and you deserve some extra advice on blogging. I created a free mini ebook for you with advice and tips that I learned in my SIX years of blogging. The only thing you need to do is to sign up for my newsletter and follow the link to my freebie library in the mail you get. Sounds great, right? You can sign up here:
There is also a new course out for you! You can learn more about starting a blog in my new course “HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL BLOG” that I put on sale just for you! Instead of $83 it only costs $45 at the moment!
In the course I don’t only tell you more advice about the things I already mentioned. I also talk about how you should use Pinterest in the best way possible and how to make money with a blog. Scroll down to read more about it or click the link to the course.
I know that almost every creative person out there wants to work from home to have more freedom and in this course I teaching you how to start a blog the right way or make your existing blog better and start earning money with it. You don’t only need tools and programs to start a successful blog and stay on top of it. I learned a lot of things the hard way since I started blogging 2012 and I wanna give you everything I learned about blogging in all those years in a compressed form in this course. You will learn how branding works from start to beginning, how to plan blog posts effectively, how SEO on WordPress works, what you should look at once a month in your analytics, how to make money with a blog and so much more.
What you get:
- 7 video modules with tons of information on how to start a blog that´s successful
- A course ebook with even more resources
- 2 Mini-Workbooks for Branding & finding an audience
- The Blog Planner Printable Pack from my Etsy for FREE
- Growing extra section with even more freebies, templates and extra videos
- Email support from me and the chance to see your freebie idea in the freebie section of the course
You probably noticed that I mentioned that this course is growing with time, right? That also means it´s going to be more expensive in the future. Grab it now and get new freebies with time. It´s a win-win situation and I would love to see you in the course. I would love to hear your feedback on it and what I could add to it to be even better.