It was 2008…
I was unemployed, recently divorced, and searching for a passion project that had escaped me for my 50+ years on this planet.
Jump forward to today and my website, that you are on right now, has had over 16 million readers.
I don’t say that to brag. I say that because perhaps the craziest thing about this whole journey is that I wasn’t a “writer” in the traditional sense, and from a technical perspective I didn’t know the first thing about how to start a blog.
I used a spare $10 to start a blog and ended up growing it into something that others took notice of. I learnt about how to do all of that along the way. From defining my message, buying a domain name, figuring out this whole hosting business, growing a social media following, and eventually finding a way to make some money from the whole thing.
In the beginning the one thing that held me back from starting was the fear of not knowing how or where to start. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of failure.
Today I want to help you overcome all of those things. Firstly, if I’m good enough to get started then so are you. If I can make this happen then so can you. If I can overcome the challenges of being unemployed and divorced to build something of note, then so can you.
So what about the fear of not knowing where to start?
That’s what the rest of this blog post is all about. I want to teach you how to start a blog from scratch and discover the passion that will empower your life with the greatest gift of all – choice.
Let’s dive into it.
Why should you start a blog in the first place?
People start blogs for all sorts of reasons…
To educate, to have a voice, to make money. It’s important to understand your driving force. The reason you start is the reason you will keep going. The reason you will get up every morning at 4am while everyone else is happily sleeping, to write your next inspired piece of content.
For me it was about the power of the social web. My blog was a publishing machine that gave me a voice to the masses, it gave my audience a voice, it helped the little guy get noticed in a world of inflated egos and celebrity clickbait headlines.
Blogging helped me make some noise and leave a little dent on this universe.
But it’s also more than that. Above all else, blogging is a platform for self development.
It drives you to:
- Learn by doing
- Document your knowledge
- Embrace a life discipline
- Network and connect with a global audience
It won’t happen overnight, but all of this is within your reach if you just start.
How To Start A Blog In Any Niche With No Technical Experience And (Almost) No Money
So if you are ready and willing to get started, here’s a shortcut to my 7-step success formula.
Step 1 – Find your passion and write a mission statement
Your passion closely aligns to your “why” for starting a blog in the first place.
This will act as a guiding light to keep you on track. Keep you energized. Keep you turning up every day when it all feels too hard.
What is it that makes you tick? What do you love? What topics inspire you and help you write with ease?
Finding your passion is an essential part of sustaining a blog in the long term. It will help you find like-minded people who are excited about the same things as you, and it will motivate you to push that little bit harder when it feels like your wheels are spinning.
You want to be able to define your passion in a succinct mission statement – 20 words or less. For me, it is all about winning at business and life in a digital world. What is it for you?
One approach you can take to defining your blog’s mission statement is with Porter Gale’s 4-steps:
- Make a list of your interests and passions
- Discover the sweet spot at the intersection
- Describe your tone – Witty, Irreverent, Inspirational etc
- Write the mission statement that distills your passions
For you this might be obvious, it may be subconscious, or it could be buried deep down within. Either way you need to find it and document it. Post it on your wall. Read it every day.
It will keep you on track.
Step 2 – Discover your tribe
Traffic, shares, open rates, click throughs… all of it means nothing if you can’t connect with the human on the other side of the technology.
The most successful bloggers find a way to connect on a very personal level with their audience. I call this your tribe.
Your tribe are the people who turn up day after day, waiting for your next piece of blogging wisdom.
You don’t pay for them to turn up (at least you don’t have to). Instead they turn up because they share your passion. They crave a sense of community and association with the other people in your tribe. They want to comment, share and interact with you.
Without a tribe your blog will die a slow death.
So how do you find your tribe and engage with them online?
Here are some tips:
- Understand their fears, dreams, problems and challenges – write about them
- Where do they hangout online? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else? – be there consistently
- Who else do they respect in your niche? – align yourself to these people
- What other publications do they read? – write for them
Your tribe members share your passion, and your goal is to turn your blog into a community for these individuals to connect. You will be forever relevant in your niche if you can achieve this.
Step 3 – Develop a memorable brand
I wanted to stand out, so I got a friend to create a caricature of my head…
How will you stand out?
Your blog’s name and brand is more than just a URL. It says something about you and your passion. You need to find something that is memorable, catchy, but also meaningful and congruent to your tribe.
Here are some tips for developing a memorable brand:
- Brainstorm 10 alternatives.
- Test them with your potential tribe.
- Buy your domain name… right here, right now.
- Get a logo designed. It’s easy on a site like UpWork.
- Create consistent and memorable images for free with a tool like Canva.
- Use your new branding elements everywhere… literally.
Step 4 – Choose a web host
Ok so you know your passion, and you have a pretty good idea about where your tribe are hanging out online. Now it’s time to actually get your blog up and running.
This is the technical stuff, but I will try to make it is simple as possible for you.
You can get a blog up and running in a few simple clicks using WordPress.com – but I wouldn’t recommend going down that path.
When I first started that’s how I did it, and as my traffic grew it got to a point where I needed to do a massive site migration. Big headache.
To save yourself the same issues I would recommend going for a self-hosted website.
In the simplest language possible, every website on the internet needs a web host. It’s a place where all of your data, content and blog posts are stored for safekeeping.
If you choose to get a self-hosted solution your hosting provider can grow with you, and you won’t have to deal with slow load times or website down time in the future.
“That sounds kind of expensive!”
Managing a self-hosted website used to be expensive and reserved for web developers or techies who could code their way to success. But hosting solutions such as Bluehost have made it affordable and accessible for anyone and everyone.
I use Bluehost here at vincentgoh.com and they have handled our rapid traffic growth extremely well. The cool thing for you is that as a long-term customer, Bluehost have given me an awesome discount to pass on to my tribe members (that’s you).
Sign up today for the special price of $2.95 per month. You can’t even buy a coffee for that price where I live!
Step 5 – Setup your hosting account
Once you pick a web host, it’s time to get set up so you can start blogging.
I find it easiest to learn with screenshots, so let me show you exactly how to get your blog started using Bluehost.
Jump across to the Bluehost home page and click “get started now”.
From there, choose your plan.
Next, you’ll have to pick a domain name. If you didn’t buy a domain name when you were developing your brand identity, they will let you do it during the signup process. There are a couple of steps at this stage, but they will guide you every step of the way.
If the domain you select is free, then you can move onto the signup process where you will provide the rest of your contact information, confirm your choice of hosting package, and finally enter your payment details.
The final step of the signup process is to pick a password.
And that’s it, your Bluehost account is set up and good to go. The whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 6 – Pick a blogging platform
Once your hosting account is setup, the next step is to pick a blogging platform. (We’re almost there I promise!)
There are a lot of options out there, from Blogger to Tumblr, SquareSpace and several more.
I started out on WordPress.org and it has grown with my site, so that’s what I recommend you use to get started.
But it’s not just me who thinks WordPress is a great option… 25% of all websites online are built on the WordPress platform, and it is uniquely designed for bloggers.
To get started with WordPress, login to your Bluehost account and look for the “Install WordPress” icon in your home dashboard:
You will then be prompted to choose a domain to install WordPress on – you will most likely just have the one, so choose that from the drop down menu.
Next, fill in your site information in the form provided. The key information they are looking for at this point is your “Site Name”, which you can choose yourself, as well as an email address, username and password for the primary contact for the site – that’s you!
Let Bluehost do its magic for a few moments and you will see a message on your screen that says “Your installation was successful”.
Now you can go to your WordPress installation at the URL ‘yourdomainname.com/wp-login’ and use your login details to access behind-the-curtains of your new blog!
The look and feel of your WordPress site will automatically go to one of the default themes. You can get started blogging with this look straight away, or choose to upgrade your look with a premium theme available in your Bluehost account.
Step 7 – Create compelling content
Now you have your website all setup and ready to go, your excuses are quickly running out!
It’s time to start blogging.
The best bloggers… The ones that make a name for themselves in this noisy world. The ones who build a tribe of thousands of dedicated fans. The ones that make a living out of their passions. They all have one thing in common.
They publish great content consistently, time and time again.
So what is great content? What makes a blog post compelling?
Here’s a quick checklist:
- It has a headline that induces a click
- It tells a story that naturally flows from the headline
- It’s jam packed full of visual cues and diverse media
- It’s easy to scan with bullet points, sub-headers and smart formatting throughout
- It focuses on one key point, and the whole article builds a powerful case for that point
- It encourages reader’s to take an action – share it on social media, comment, sign up for your mailing list – something to progress your relationship
You started reading this post wanting to know how to start a blog…
Well, what are you waiting for?
You’ve got the tips, tools, and tactics to make it happen. The only thing holding you back is yourself. Your fears. Your internal dialogue.
So overcome those fears of failure and make it happen. If I can, then you can too.
Ready to get started?
All it takes is the price of a coffee.