Are you looking to start your own blog in 2021? If so, here are some step-by-step instructions and considerations that you’ll need to know to help you make the most of your blog when you finally launch it!
The past years have left an indelible mark on the way we interact and work. Arguably one of the biggest impacts on the latter is the increase in remote work, with some individuals seeking out their own ways to make money without having to rely on traditional full-time employment. As such, one of the most popular methods they may have come across during their search is starting their own blog. But for many, getting started can be the most difficult part of the process.
Your Step-By-Step Guide to Launching a Blog in 2021
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Understanding
- Step 2: Strategy
- Step 3: Blogging Platform
- Step 4: Hosting & Domains
- Step 5: Get Started
Step 1. Understand the Responsibility That Comes With Owning a Blog
There’s a massive appeal to working from home. After all, who doesn’t want to be able to get out of bed, take their time with their day, and work in their pajamas? However, while running a blog is often advertised as being easy or giving you the ability to cultivate true financial freedom and freedom in your day-to-day life, the truth is that running a blog can come with a great deal of responsibility. Here are a few points that you should keep in mind as you continue your own blogging journey.
Owning a Blog Is Very Much Like Owning Your Own Business
Blogging sounds like a fun hobby for those who love to write. For some, this is absolutely true! If you’re just looking to start your own personal blog or create a blog for a specific chapter in your life, you can do so with little stress and for free. In fact, you may want to take a look at our other article on the 10 best free blogging sites that you can use to begin blogging quickly and easily. (You should also keep this resource on hand as many of these free platforms offer paid options for serious bloggers.)
What few people realize, however, is that blogging is a business. You’re responsible for producing all of the content and managing the website, scaling it to the point of monetization, and conducting regular maintenance to make sure that it’s on course. In the beginning, this means dealing with your blog on your own, which requires a lot of hours and energy. Having greater freedom comes later when you can hire other teammates to help you with blog management.
This point isn’t meant to be a deterrent for anyone looking to run their own blog. Starting a blog around a topic you’re passionate about can be very rewarding. However, it’s important to know that it’s not always as easy as other people may hype it up to be. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you can absolutely be successful with your blog!
There Are a Number of Skills You Will Either Need to Learn or Hire Out for
As we’ve spoken about in the past, there are a lot of skills that go into blogging. Beyond writing, you’ll need to learn skills like SEO, networking, and basic HTML or CSS coding, just to name a few (don’t worry, we’ll dive more comprehensively into essential skills later on). As someone who’s running their own blog, having a willingness to learn these skills and the drive to apply them to your own website is an absolute must. If you have a bit of capital coming in or you’re willing to invest more into your blog, you can even hire out this work to those with a track record in that industry. But whether you choose to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, it’s important to know that you’re going to need to tackle more technical work at some point in time.
You’re Financially and Legally Responsible for Your Blog
Unless you’re developing a special business entity for your blog (which may be necessary depending upon where you live and the rules and regulations there) or creating a partnership with another person to start a blog, you’re going to be singularly responsible for the financial demands of your blog, which means that you need to have enough to pay for any work that needs to be done on the site, for your domain name and hosting, for any courses that you choose to take in order to upskill, for any themes or plugins you purchase, and beyond. Make sure that you’re ready for this type of responsibility before you move onto the next steps in this guide.
Another major point of importance for prospective bloggers to remember is that you’re also legally responsible for your blog. For example, if you set up an affiliate account and share links on your website, did you know that you’re legally required to disclose this business relationship? It can be easy to accidentally overlook things that could land you in hot water later on. Make sure to do your due diligence and cover all of your bases long before you get started.
Your Blog Will Only Be As Successful As You Are
While the most successful bloggers are often identified and praised for their work, no one talks about the failures that many others will experience along the way. Put simply, blogging isn’t as easy to do or monetize as it sounds, even though it’s not as heavily discussed. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get from point A to point B with the right hustle. Invest in yourself and your blog to make sure that you’re always improving your writing, marketing skills, and brand. Because your blog is an extension of yourself and the way you view things, it will only be as successful as you are.
You Must Stay Accountable and Motivated to Reach Your Goals
The great thing about remote work like blogging is that you get to do everything from home. The not-so-great thing? You’re your own boss, supervisor, and accountability buddy. While blogging for passion can be your motivation in the beginning, the hard work that goes into it may seem less and less exciting. Unfortunately, if that lack of motivation leaks into your blog, you’ll end up with a project that’s getting nowhere. Make sure to establish intrinsic motivation beforehand and develop processes that keep you on track and focused. Don’t worry if you slip up every now and then. It’s what you do after that counts most!
Blogging isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue your interest in it. Instead, use the points above to buckle down and prepare for the journey. With the right strategy and hustle, you can guide yourself towards creating a blog that brings in the traffic you’re looking for.
Step 2. Create a Comprehensive Blogging Plan and Marketing Strategy Long Before You Get Started
Planning is one of the most essential factors that will contribute to your blog’s overall success. Without a solid plan, you’re going into your blogging journey blind, which can result in timely, costly mistakes that may take quite a bit of time to recover from. The good news? Once you have your plan and have fleshed out the finer details ahead of time, it’s just a matter of execution. Let’s take a look at some of the most important planning elements you should have covered before you move onto the next steps in our guide.
1. Conceptualizing Your Brand
Yes! As a blog, you will have your own recognizable brand. However, brands don’t come out of the blue. Those who create them already have a distinct vision in their mind that they actualize once they start selling their products or services. So, what do you need to do in order to create a strong brand that is sure to thrive from the moment you launch your own blog?
- Come up with your brand name: A great brand name will be memorable, evoke certain feelings within your readers, and be highly recognizable (which will be important as you start developing a positive reputation among readers and those outside of your audience as well). Take your time to figure out what names you love as it’s the name that you’re going to be using for months and years to come.
- Identify your niche: Unless your blog is going to be a catch-all for a wide variety of different topics, you most likely already have an idea as to what your blog will be. Make sure that you identify a niche you want to write about and one that is focused but not so focused that you’ll find yourself unable to expand later or experience issues coming up with enough ideas to keep your blog running. With the right niche and concept, you’ll be prepared to start creating your own content.
- Understand your audience: Who are the people who will be reading your content? What does the audience look like for blogs that will be similar to yours? What type of content within your niche will appeal to your chosen audience? Knowing your audience before you develop your brand will help you retain a clear picture of who you’re writing for, allowing you to build your brand more effectively.
- Conceive your look: One integral part of SEO that surprises many blog owners is your website look and functionality. When your website looks great and is easy to navigate, this contributes to your authority as a brand. Figure out what types of templates and plugins you want to use before you launch your blog. With the right look, you’re off to an excellent start as a prospective brand!
Coming up with your brand concept before launching your blog is extremely important. Leverage the above points to your advantage so you can create a brand that your intended audience will love!
2. Researching Your Business Model
As we stated above, your blog IS a business. It’s an online business. Even if you’re running a blog as a hobby and start making money for it, you are what’s considered to be a sole proprietorship, which may require you to file your business as such. However, it’s important to know the options beyond this. Without the preparation, you may end up facing fines, dealing with tax problems, and encountering other issues that will put you behind in your business goals.
A sole proprietorship is something that you automatically enter into when you start a business but do not formally register it. Generally, it’s best to function as a sole proprietorship when you first start out and want to test your business ideas out first. However, as you grow, having a sole proprietorship means that you are fully personally and financially responsible for your business. Once you reach this point, you might want to move over to a new business structure, such as a limited liability company or LLC. This is one major point of consideration when you form your business.
Some other considerations to make when you’re researching your business model include:
- What will be my “doing business as” (DBA) name? How do I file for a DBA?
- Do I need to register my business with the federal government, state government, or local government? How do I do that?
- Do I need an EIN for my business? How do I get one?
- What licenses or permits, or any, do I need to operate my blog?
- Where can I open up a business bank account so that I can keep my blog income separate from my personal finances? How do I pay myself once I start bringing in money?
Taking the time to do your research so that you experience few hiccups during the process and after your business has started making money. With the right plan, you should have a seamless experience dealing with all of the legal aspects of running your blog. If you run into any areas of concern, you can always hire a lawyer to walk you through the process and ensure that all of your hard work is correct.
3. Developing a Content Marketing Calendar (and Additional Content)
Running your own blog is not something that can be done on the fly. Approaching all of your social media posts, blog posts, and marketing activities on the day of can only cause more stress and make it more difficult to enjoy the benefits your blog has to offer. The key to avoiding burnout and staying on top of your work is to develop a content marketing calendar.
A content marketing calendar will help you see your future content plan at a glance and allow you to schedule your business activities and personal life around your business ideas. A great content calendar will help you:
- Organize your SEO research and content ideas, helping you schedule posts ahead of time to automate the process (keyword research should also be conducted on a specific day so that you have plenty of time to flesh out your ideas).
- Schedule social media posts and ideas ahead of time to boost your audience engagement (here are a few free social media managers that will help you manage all of your accounts in one place).
- Create detailed overviews of affiliate marketing plans, audience engagement strategies, and other ideas that you have so they can be executed flawlessly.
Put simply, a content marketing calendar is designed to make creating content and managing your blog more seamless. Make sure that you have a strong plan (as well as developed content) before you start your blog so that you have a head start.
4. Mapping Out All of the Skills You’ll Need to Acquire As You Move Forward
As your blog continues to grow, you should as well. The problem? Those who start their own blog believe that they can figure out stuff as they go. Then, when they run into an issue that’s too difficult for them to deal with, they either have to try to muscle through resources they come across or find the money they need to hire someone to help them with it. No one wants to be in this position.
Instead, create a list of skills that you want to learn before you start your blog and while you’re growing your blog. Some of the most essential skills to focus on developing include:
- SEO and Digital Marketing (there are numerous free courses about these types of topics on HubSpot Academy, and they offer certificates too)
- Graphic Design (graphics can easily be created on a platform like Canva)
- Basic CSS and HTML Coding (there are plenty of free coding resources out there that you can take advantage of)
- Understanding Google Analytics
- Networking and Developing Business Relationships
- Blogging for an Audience
As you work on your blog, you’ll undoubtedly come across more skills that you wish to learn so that you can enhance the quality of it. However, you can use the above as a starting point to help you work towards the education you need to become the best business owner possible.
Operating a business is hard, but planning beforehand and regularly returning to these plans and goals makes it easier. Make sure to touch upon the main suggestions offered above to create a comprehensive plan that you can use to launch your blog with ease once the time is right!
Step 3: Look for a Blogging Platform That Will Be the Best Fit for Your Needs (Plus Additional Resources)
Finding the right blogging platform seems easy with all of the options out there, but the problem is that, once you’re accustomed to a certain platform, trying to migrate your site from one platform to another means having to deal with design problems, losing important plugins and data, and more.
Although not all websites stay on one platform for the duration of their lives, it’s best to look for a platform that works for you so that you can run your blog without issue until you either feel the need to migrate or simply don’t like the platform you’re working with (which, hopefully, won’t happen to you).
With that in mind, you can get started by looking at some of the main website platforms, which include bluehost, WordPress, and Ghost, just to name a few. While you’re looking for platforms, you should also look for plugins and website templates that you can use to build yourself (just make sure that your chosen plugins and templates are compatible with your chosen website builder). Once you have your platform and all of your additional resources, it’s time to move onto the fourth step.
Step 4: Purchase Your Domain Name and Hosting (Along With Other Tools)
A lot of blogging jargon is introduced when you’re going through the process of setting up your blog, which can be confusing to new users. Fortunately, we’re here to break down these so that you know exactly what to expect. Two of the most confusing terms that are most essential to getting your blog ready to go are the terms “domain name” and “hosting”.
Domain names are easy to understand as they are the names that you look up to navigate to your desired site. Your domain name will typically be your brand name, but there are instances where you may need to move things around because your desired name is already taken. If your domain name is already taken, you can either find a domain name that is close to yours, buy it if it’s up for sale, or decide on a new name altogether if you haven’t already filed your DBA. Registering your domain name is as simple as going to namecheap and buying it, although there are other services available.
So, now we know what a domain name is, but what is hosting? Hosting can be a bit more difficult to understand, so we’re going to break it down into simple terms by comparing it to real estate. Imagine that you’ve found a lovely place to build a home. In order to access this space, you need to purchase it to begin construction. Hosting is very similar to this process. In order to reserve space on the internet to build your website, you need to buy web hosting from a hosting provider. The good news? Hosting is relatively cheap, making it easy for beginner bloggers to afford their new business.
Our Favorite Hosts for Blogging
With your hosting purchased and your domain name registered, we’re ready to move onto the final step!
Step 5: Put Your Blogging Plan to the Test!
If you followed all of the steps above, you will have:
- Come up with an attractive brand that will draw people to your new blog
- Created a comprehensive plan and strategy that will make the first few months of blog operations easier to conduct
- Found a blogging platform that aligns with your needs and wants
- Registered your domain name and purchased hosting so you can build your website
With all of these elements in place, it’s just a matter of putting your blogging plan to the test! As you adjust to new developments and work out the kinks, things will get easier. If you ever get lost, come back to this guide so that you can touch upon some of the main points and readjust your strategy to get better results!