20 First Steps to Starting a Blog

desk with laptop and accessories

Have you ever thought of creating your own blog? Your own little space on the web, where you get to post about anything you’d like and share your opinion on topics that you are interested in?

If that is the case, then you are certainly not the first one to come up with this idea. There are millions of blogs on the internet, giving people tips about all areas of life.

But how did they start with this? What do you need in order to start your own blog? Because while creating and posting content seems quite manageable, you’d first need to create an entire website yourself. And that could be challenging!

But just like millions of other people have managed to figure out how to do that, so can you! So here are the 20 first steps you should take when starting your own blog.

1. Think about a topic

Of course, before you can start with setting up anything, you will need an idea. What will your blog be about? And what is it that you want to share with people? Blog topics can range from broader themes to something very specific. So what you want to write about is up to you. However make sure you have a clear idea beforehand, as that will for example have an impact on the domain name you end up choosing, as well as your branding.

You can write a blog about basically anything, from surfing to travelling to vegan recipes or gardening. But there are so many different topics to start a blog about!

people at the beach

2. Write some blog posts beforehand

Probably the most important thing you will have to do when starting your own blog is to write content. Once you have an idea of what your blog will be about, make sure to already start writing some blog post drafts. They don’t need to be final versions yet, but it doesn’t hurt to have content pre-written and to already have a list of content ideas.

Because once you set up a domain name for your blog and get hosting for your website, you will start paying for it. So in order to be able to start posting right away when you also start paying, you want to already prepare a bunch of content before you need to pay.

Other then coming up with blog posts draft, you can also aready brainstorm a list of things you want to write about in the future.

3. Decide on a URL

Now that you have a rough idea of what your blog will be about, you probably have already thought of some domain names. Make sure to pick one that is easy to remember and fits with your overall blog theme. You can check out websites, such as Namecheap, where you can purchase domains, to see which domains are still available.

4. Create an email address

And unless you want to receive all your blog emails on your personal email, it would be a good idea to create a separate email address with your domain name. This is the email you can list on your website as well for people to reach out to you and ask questions. Of course, you can also switch to a more professional email later on with @ your domain name rather than just Gmail, but a standard email without paying extra for it will do in the beginning.

Gmail login on phone

5. Buy a domain name and set up hosting

Now it’s time to spend some money. It’s easiest du just purchase a domain and set up hosting at the same company, but if you want to compare prices first then it is also possible to buy these two from two different websites.

You will, however, have to do a lot of research on the different hosting companies, depending on your requirements, how many websites you will have, and what fits your budget.

Some examples of hosting companies are Bluehost or Siteground. I started off with Bluehost, which was okay but not amazing and eventually I switched over to Siteground. I am happy with using Siteground at the moment, but it is quite pricey. However, they do have offers for your first year, so it is also always an option to change your hosting later on.

I recommend watching some tutorials and step by step guides to make sure everything is set up correctly.

6. Write and post a privacy policy

While this is probably the least fun part of setting up a blog, it unfortunately has to be done. So best to get the privacy policy out of the way early enough.

It is important to inform your website users what will be done with their personal data and what tracking tools you use, etc. to comply with GDPR.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to write an entire privacy policy from scratch! Luckily, there are a lot of websites out there, that can help you with this, such as this free privacy policy generator.

privacy sign

7. Cookie banner

Another thing that you have to set up is a cookie banner, informing users of any cookies that will be stored and asking them for consent. You can link from the cookie banner to your newly posted privacy policy. Setting up the banner, however, is much easier than it sounds like. A lot of themes might already include a cookie banner that you can just customize to your liking.

If that is not the case you can easily just search for a cookie banner plug in. There are plenty.

8. Set up a blog theme and website layout

You can of course already buy a paid theme, but there are also great free themes that you can use to begin with. In your WordPress menu, click on Appearance -> Themes -> Add new -> And then browse through the different options.

After choosing a new theme for your website, you can customize your website under Appearance -> Customize. To see what you can do with a specific theme and how to set up your website layout, it is always a good idea to watch some Youtube tutorials to make this process a little easier and less confusing.

9. Set up a contact page

You do want people to be able to contact you if they have any questions, or companies to be able to reach out with business inquiries. So make sure to create a contact page and add it to your menu. Here, you can use a plug in to create a simple contact form, and embed it on your contact page. This should not take you a lot of time to set up, luckily.

10. Upload your first couple of posts

Now that you have your site up and running, you can go ahead and upload a few posts that you have prepared beforehand. Make sure you add some images and have a nice blog post layout that is easy to read.

Make sure you have headings, spaces, and see what blog settings work for you. This will probably take some time, but you will be an expert in successfully posting blog posts in no time.

I would suggest starting with around 4-5 blog posts, so that you have some content on your website, that you can start promoting. You do not need to post them all at the same day of cause. Consistency is key in the future!

11. Add an about me page

You can always make changes to your “About me” page later on, but it is always good to already have a a few sentences written down about yourself and your blog. What is your website about? What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? And what makes you qualified to talk about these topics? Is it a hobby of yours, you work in the field etc.? Be as creative as you want, this page is all about you!

You might also like: 12 Things I wish I knew before I started blogging

12. Create a menu

It is best to start with a simple menu and the easiest way to do that is to just use categories that you have already set up. If you posted some blog posts already you might have put them into seperate categories. Each of these categories can be an item in you menu, and when you click on it one will just see the blog posts that are related to that topic.

In that way you don’t need to create a full new page for each item in your menu. Also make sure to add the Contact page and your About me page that you had already set up to your menu. This should be enough to get you started.

If you have a wordpress page, to edit the menu click on Appearence -> Menus.

13. Download relevant plug-ins

Now you might have already downloaded a plug-in for your cookie banner, but there is a variety of other useful plug-ins out there as well that you might want to use. Such as spam comment blockers, SEO plug-ins, or plug-ins that help you keep you website up to date and running smoothly.

Maybe this blog post about WordPress plug-ins can give you some inspiration.

14. Connect to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free tool to analyse your website performance. You can see where your visitors come from, how long they stay on specific pages, and on which pages they bounce off or perform desired events. And much more.

With this data you can make decisions in the future about what type of content is doing well or which pages you would need to improve. To set up Google Analytics you will need to copy paste a piece of code in the head of your website code. However, this can just as easily be done with the use of a plug-in for example.

Just start setting up the Account and you will find instructions on how to do that within Google Analytics yourself. Or there are plenty of tutorials out there as well.

15. Create a Google Search Console Account

Google Search Console can also provide you with important data. However, rather than website data itself, it can give you more information on your site performance in the search engines. For example, how often your site has been shown in the search engine (impressions), click-throughs from organic traffic, etc. It is also a valuable tool for identifying errors and making sure your website is even indexed.

Google search console account

16. Submit your website to be indexed

Speaking of an indexed website, after you have created and set up a Google Search Console Account, you can submit your site to get indexed. You will need to have an indexed site to start ranking on Google essentially, and it will help you to get approved for ads later on.

To do this select the right property in Google Search Console, add the link you want to get indexed and if the option appears, click on “request indexing.” This will take a while, so now it’s time to wait.

17. Submit a sitemap as well

Submit a site map to make sure that Google doesn’t only crawl a portion of your site, but instead manages to find and index all of your pages. This can also easily be done in Google Search Console. Select Sitemap and enter ‘ sitemap_index.xml‘ behind your URL under add a new sitemap.

18. Set up Social Media Accounts

In the meantime, you want to set up social media accounts for your new website. Think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest for example. While you definitely don’t need to be active on all of them, it can’t hurt to have as many possible options to promote your blog posts later on.

While ranking on Google would be ideal, showing up in search results will take a lot of time, effort and patience. Therefore, you will need some other channels to promote your website on.

Try out everything and figure out for yourself what works best and where you get the most traffic from (this is where Google Analytics comes into place). Then you can decide for yourself what you want to focus on in the future.

19. Apply for Google Adsense

With Adsense, you can place ads on your website and earn money if people click on them or view them often enough. While there are more ad networks that can earn you more money, other than just Adsense, a lot of them have a very high minimum traffic requirement. That is not the case for Google Adsense, which means you can still apply for it even if you do not receive a lot of traffic yet. However, make sure your site is indexed and you already have a couple of blog posts, before you apply.

It can take up to two weeks to get your website approved, After that, you can copy paste the HTML code that you find within Adsense into the side bar of your website or in between text blocks of your blog posts.

If you don’t get approved right away, you can always make changes and apply again later.

ads on billboard

20. Apply for an affiliate network

Other than with ads, most bloggers also make money through affiliate links. How this works, is that you place links to websites, where people can make a purchase. If they do so, you will receive a percentage.

A lot of popular website have their own affiliate networks, such as Amazon, Booking.com, Get Your Guide, etc.

Some of these will come with traffic or conversion requirements, so you will have to see what you can apply for. There are also affiliate networks that offer you a variety of different websites that you can link to, such as Skimlinks, which I have been using for a few years. From here you can link to websites such as Booking. com or Airbnb without joining their specific affiliate programs. They do not have any traffic requirements.

Affiliate links are a great way to earn money from blogging. However, you need to state in each post if you are using affiliate links and you will need to also add a blog about it in your privacy policy. But of course, also make sure to add Google Analytics, Google Ads, etc. to your privacy policy as well.

And this concludes 20 first steps to starting a blog. And while we didn’t go into much detail anywhere, I hope this gave you a first impression of what will be coming your way if you want to start your own blog.

And sadly, there is much more to do than that. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work, but you will see for yourself. But by following all these first steps to starting a blog, you should have a good base to get you started.

Have you started a blog yourself recently? How did it go? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments?

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Steps to starting a new blog
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