Have you always wanted to start a blog but don’t know where to begin?
I get it. There is so much information out there and it can get overwhelming. Extremely overwhelming. The great news is that you are in the right place.
I am going to break down the process of how to start a professional blog into 10 super simple steps for you, and I’ll leave the technical jargon behind.
Step One: Picking a Good Travel Blog Name
When it comes to picking a blog name, it is important that you pick a damn good one! One that stands out from the crowd.
One of the first things you should do is write down several ideas or words that come to mind. Think about your niche and what you want to write about, but also allow yourself to dream big.
What I mean by dream big is set yourself up to develop and grow as your blog does, and not restricting yourself in the years to come.
Say for example you are a backpacker and decide to include that in your name but over time your travel style changes. You may have put yourself into a box as your blog clearly states you are all about backpacking, so working with 5-star resorts will be a challenge.
The same goes for if you blog about Australia, so include that in your name. You have basically told the world that your blog is about Australia. What happens if you move to Canada?
Rebranding and redesigning is expensive and time-consuming so make sure you take the time to come up with a name that you love, and that gives you the flexibility to grow with your blog.
When choosing a name, you will also need to make sure the domain and social handles for that name are available.
- Choose a unique and memorable name
- Consider what you want to blog about
- Allow yourself to dream big and avoid putting yourself in a box
- Avoid Clichés
- Confirm that the domain and social handles are available.
Yes, a great name is essential, however, you can’t spend 6 months thinking about it! There comes a point where you just have to make a decision.
To check if a domain is available you can use the Bluehost domain name checker. You don’t need to buy your domain, just make sure it is available. This tool will also suggest other domain names for you.
For access to printable worksheets to help you decide on your name and niche, click here.
Step two: Set up your domain and hosting
After you have decided on a name and checked that your preferred domain (eg. www.yourblogname.com) is available, it is time to set up your hosting.
Web hosting is the service that makes your website available to be viewed by others on the Internet and is something everyone has to do.
Now I know what you might be thinking, why do I have to set up and pay for hosting when there are free options like Squarespace, Blogger etc?
Well, the answer is simple. If you have decided you want to make money from blogging or at some point you think you might, you will need a self-hosted blog. It is best to set your blog up correctly the first time to avoid technical challenges down the road if you do decide to transfer your website.
That is why I recommend setting your hosting up with Bluehost
Bluehost is the #1 most used and trusted hosting network on the internet and is very affordable for new bloggers.
The Perks of Starting a Blog with Bluehost
- FREE Domain
- 24/7 Support
- FREE 30-day Money Back Guarantee
- One Click WordPress Install
Now I know this may sound technical, and maybe it just sounds overwhelming and scary, but I am going to walk you through the process step by step. Bluehost makes it so simple that it is hard to screw it up.
Ready to go? Click here!
Instructions for setting up hosting with Bluehost
- Click here to start setting up hosting and you will be taken to the below screen
- Click Get Started Now
3. Select your plan
4. Choose a domain, either a new domain or one you already own! This should have been decided upon when you selected your blog name. Remember, .com is generally the best option!
5. Enter your personal and package information
6. Enter your payment information and create a password.
And you have successfully set up your hosting, woohoo! Now it is time to install WordPress.
Step 3: Install WordPress
If you, in any way want to monetise your site and create a professional blog, it is essential that you use WordPress. After you create your password, you will be prompted to log in and select a theme. You can then start building your WordPress site.
Finally, you will receive emails from Bluehost with your account and WordPress information.
Welcome to your new blog!! Now it’s time to design!
For a detailed video tutorial on how to install WordPress, sign up for my FREE e-course on How to create a professional blog.
Step 4: Choose a theme and design your blog
Finally, the fun part, making your blog look awesome.
The first step is to pick a theme! What is a theme? It is the template for your website, that looks great and does not require coding.
WordPress has heaps of free themes, however, I recommend spending some money and choosing a mobile-friendly theme you love. A good theme will allow you to easily customise your site and make it look great. You can search for premium themes via WordPress or Theme forest.
So how do you install a theme?
- Go back to your WordPress dashboard.
- Hover over “Appearance” and click on themes.
- Choose and activate a theme, then go to “YourDomainName.com” to see it!
For a detailed video on how to install a WordPress Theme, click here.
Step 5: Install Plugins
Another great way to customise your site is with Plugins. If your theme doesn’t offer a customisation you would like, a plugin usually does.
For example, you can get a plugin to have a Facebook pop up appear or your Instagram appear in your sidebar.
So how do you install a plugin?
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard
- Click Plugins from the side panel
- Click Add New
- Search for a plugin
- Click Download
- Edit settings (where applicable)
Plugins are great, but too many plugins cause too many problems. Here are a few of my basic recommendations:
- Askimet – protects you from spam
- Wordfence – website security
- Jetpack – For website stats
- WP smush – shrinks file sizes
- Yoast – the BEST SEO plugin out there
- W3 Total Cache – will help your site run faster
- Insert Headers and Footers – to quickly add code to the header of your site
- Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken links and notifies you on the dashboard.
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) – Displays Google Analytics Reports in your Dashboard.
- Pinterest Pin It Button – Pins images to Pinterest straight from your blog posts.
- Social Warfare – Used to maximize social shares of your content.
To see a quick video on how to install plugins, sign up for my FREE e-course on How to create a professional blog.
Step 6: Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the industry standard for tracking traffic. Google Analytics tells you how many people visit your site, where they are from, how long they stay, what type of content is the most popular, etc, etc.
The stats you get from Google Analytics are what you will use to pitch to brands and companies.
You will need to sign up for Google Analytics and paste the tracking code into the header of the website. I recommend doing this via the Headers and Footers Plug In that we just installed.
This is an example of what Google Analytics looks like.
For a detailed video tutorial on how to install Google Analytics, sign up for my FREE e-course on How to create a professional blog.
Step 7: Claim your social media handles
When choosing your blog name, you should have already looked into the social media handles to ensure they are available.
I recommend signing up with:
When you start out, it will be essential to only focus on one or two social media channels. If you try to succeed in too many, you may spread yourself to thin and succeed at none. Regardless, you will want to at least set up all your accounts and leave them sitting there for when you do decide to focus on them.
For more information on how to set up your social media accounts, click here.
Step 8: Set up an email list
One of my biggest regrets is not setting up an email list from the start. Your email list will become your greatest asset over time. Conversions via emails are much higher than via social media, and your email list is the one thing you own. It’s yours, unlike social media sites.
Some email services include Mail Chimp and Convert Kit.
You will need to create an account with an email service provider and then create pop-ups and forms to encourage people to sign up for your email list. The best way to do this is by offering incentives for your readers to sign up. For example a free checklist, worksheet, ebook, online course or webinar. These are just a few ideas.
This is an example of the opt-in I use on A Travellers Footsteps.
For a video tutorial on creating an account and building an opt-in, click here.
Step 9: Start writing
The first place to start is with a solid “about me” page. Don’t overthink it. Grab yourself a coffee (or a glass of wine) and write. Don’t worry about mistakes, just write and edit it later! Once you have nailed your about me page, it is time to start on the content.
You should already have a predefined niche, which you decided on when choosing your blog name. Write about topics in your niche. It can take some time to find your voice and unique style. Don’t be afraid, just keep writing and it will come.
Step 10: Publish and start sharing your content with the world
FINALLY, I hear! You can hit the publish button! YAY!
After publishing, it’s time to share your work with the world. You can do this through your social media networks and email list.
I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts in advance, which helps me to stay consistent.
If you want more information about what to do after you hit publish, join my free e-course on How to start a successful blog.
Yay, you made it!
By this point, you must be feeling just about every emotion under the sun. You really do deserve some congratulations because the hardest part is over. And by the hardest part, I mean starting. Starting is the biggest challenge, and now you have overcome that, you are well on your way to success.
Make sure you pin this article for later!