Have you been wondering how you can start a new blog?
You’re already picturing your success, how people will come in waves to visit your website.
You think you can bring some true value to what is already out there online.
You’re also reading about all these people that are earning huge amounts of money out of their blog and you want that too.
Well, say no more!
In this article, I am going to guide you on how you can build a new blog from scratch and how to make it profitable.
This is going to be a very detailed guide, so sit down, grab a cup of coffee and let’s begin!
Before you get started
Having a successful blog is not as easy as it used to be 10 or 15 years ago.
Back in the day, the only things you had to do were to get a domain name, a host, and then you started posting hundreds of short articles with the keyword you wanted to rank for, and that was pretty much it.
Now, things have changed. A lot.
Google is now so full of content that it’s become a lot smarter at ranking pages.
According to Internet Stats, there are almost 2 billion websites on the internet, and the number keeps increasing. Just take a look at how fast the number is growing.
That’s why, before you get started, you must think about different aspects to figure out the best approach to create a successful blog.
First thing first, you need to determine how popular is your niche.
Being in a popular niche is extremely important for your success. You don’t want to spend hundreds of hours creating the best content you can, only to find out later that not that many people are interested in the topic.
Determining how big is your niche is the first indicator of the success you’re going to have.
Ok, so how do you determine how popular is your niche?
Well, for that, you have your best friend online: Google.
To be more precise, I’m talking about the Keyword Planner tool that you can find in Google Ads and Google Trends.
Let me show exactly how to determine the popularity of your niche using these tools.
Using Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords)
In order to use the Keyword Planner, you first need a Google Ads account. If you don’t have it, here is how you can create a new account.
Go to Google Ads page and click on Start now.
If you don’t have a Gmail account, it’s time to create one, and then you can continue with the tutorial. It’s very easy to use and it’s my personal favorite email service.
Fill in your email address and password. Once you log in, Google will ask you what is your primary advertising goal. We don’t want to start a new campaign at this point, so click on Do you have experience with Google Ads?
Now, click on Create an account without a campaign.
Here, you have to select your Billing Country, the Time Zone, and the Money Symbol. Once you fill in those fields, click on Send.
Keep in mind that you can not change these settings later!
After you click send, you are done creating your Google Ads account. Click on Explore Your Account.
Now that we’ve got our Google Ads account ready, it’s time to take advantage of the Keyword Planner tool.
Once you’re in your Google Ads account, look at the top-right corner and click on Tools, then click on Keyword Planner.
Click on FindNew Keywords.
Here, you will have to fill in one or multiple keywords in your niche. For demonstration purposes, let’s search for nutrition. After you typed in your desired keyword, click on Start.
Now, Google Ads will show you how many monthly searches are for that specific keyword. It will also show you how competitive it is and how much you have to pay if you want to have a paid advertising campaign.
On the top left side of your screen, you can select what country and what language you are interested in.
In my example, I chose the United States and English.
Next, you can see your specific keyword and how many monthly searches are for that specific keyword.
But this is where it gets interesting.
In the section below, you have Keyword Suggestions. These are related keywords to the one you’re searching for, and it is an extremely valuable tool.
As you can see, our keyword was nutrition and it has between 10,000 and 100,000 monthly searches in the USA.
Weight loss, on the other hand, has between 100,000 and 1 million monthly searches.
You can see the other suggestions below as well, but I just wanted to give you a quick brief on how to use this tool and how to interpret those numbers.
Using the Keyword Planner tool is very effective when you’re selecting a niche because it gives you an idea of how many people are interested in the topic.
Now, I know it’s not very specific since the difference between 100,000 and 1 million is pretty huge, but you can imagine that this topic is something that a lot of people are interested in.
Also, keep in mind to look at what other keyword suggestions you get, because they can give a broader view of the topic.
Using Google Trends
Our second tool to determine a niche’s popularity is Google Trends.
It’s a tool that’s very easy to use and it’s showing you what people are looking for at the moment around the world.
On the top-right corner of the page, you can select what country you’re targeting, and then simply enter the keyword you’re interested in.
For demonstration purposes, we’ll be searching for dog food.
Entering dog food in the search bar, we get these results.
We targeted the interest in the last 12 months in the USA.
In the graph below, you can see the level of interest in dog food in this period. On the left side of our graph, you can see different numbers: 25, 50, 75, 100.
100 represents the interest at its maximum popularity, and 50 means that the popularity is only half the maximum popularity.
Another cool feature of this tool is that you can actually compare different terms.
For example, let’s compare dog food with cat food.
Click on + Compare and add another term. As I said, I want to compare dog food with cat food, and these are the results I get.
As you can see, I am still targeting the results in the USA over the last 12 months. You can also hover your mouse across the graph to see the exact difference between these two terms.
Seeing these results, dog food is clearly way more popular than cat food.
While using Google Trends will not give you a clear idea of how much popular is a niche, it will show you how people’s interest changed for this topic over a period of time.
You can see how people’s interest changed over the last 15 years, and so I believe this is a very nice tool to determine if your topic is still popular or people have lost their interest a long time ago.
Free vs Paid Blogging
Now that you have completed your research, it is time to choose how you should approach it.
You have two choices: you either do it for free, or you invest some money, depending on your goal and your budget.
I will briefly explain to you what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of these two options, and then we will get our hands dirty and go create our blog.
Personally, I recommend that you go for the paid version and invest some money.
Having your own domain and your own host gives you a lot more freedom, you have access to a lot of premium templates and plugins, and if you run into trouble and something’s not working, you can always contact your hosting provider.
The disadvantage to this is that you don’t know for sure if this is going to work or not, and some people might not afford to throw their money out of the window and later find out that they’re not that into blogging or that they don’t have the time to do this.
That’s why the decision is up to you, but if you are very serious and very determined to be successful, then get your own host and domain name.
How much you are going to spend depends on your goals and your budget.
There are hosting plans that can go to over 300$ per month, and there are cheaper hosting plans that will cost you about $4.
If you are just starting your blog, I recommend that you go for cheaper hosting, because the quality is still incredibly good and you don’t need a very powerful host from the beginning.
The other option you have is to go for a free blogging platform, so if you can’t afford to pay any money at this point, don’t be discouraged. There are still pretty good options out there.
The best free blogging platforms are WordPress.com and Medium.
What I really like about this is that you can write your content on these platforms and publish your content for free, and then, if you notice that your blog is successful and you manage to save some money, you can later buy a domain name and a host and import your existing content.
Choosing a domain name
From this point on, I am going to assume that you decided to spend some money to get your own domain and hosting.
I want you to do exactly what I am doing because that way you can make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Choosing a domain name is a very important step and you must think this very carefully because your domain name is also the name of your business.
There are some guidelines to follow.
First, your domain name needs to be relevant to your niche. If you’re blogging about an amazing workout you came up with and your domain name has the word Barbie in it, you know this can’t be right.
Then, you want to make sure that your domain is easy to remember.
Don’t make it too long, as people will have a hard time remembering it. It’s hard to find available domains of only one word, so go for a domain name of 2, maximum 3 words.
What I recommend you is to brainstorm a list of about 10 possible domain names, send them to some of your friends, and make them choose one.
Do you have a hard time brainstorming name ideas?
There are some websites that can help you with that. My personal favorite is NameMesh.
So go on their website, enter a keyword that you would like to have inside your domain name, and click Generate.
If you don’t like the results you see, go to Google and search for Domain Name Generator. There are multiple websites that do exactly that.
Click on each one of them until you get a result that you are satisfied with. There’s no need to hurry, so take your time, brainstorm the best ideas that come to you or go ask a friend for help.
You also need to be aware that most popular domain names are already owned by someone else, so you either have to find a domain name that’s available or you can choose to ask for the owner to sell the domain.
I recommend you do the first one and try to come up with a new domain.
How do you know if a domain is available or not, and if it is, how do you buy it?
There are two big domain registrars on the internet: GoDaddy and Namecheap.
While many people choose to get their domain from GoDaddy because there is a promotion where you get a domain name for just $1, personally, I highly recommend that you get your domain name from Namecheap.
It may feel like it’s just a matter of personal preference, but I had a domain from both of them, and I had a much easier life with Namecheap.
While it may be very tempting to choose Godaddy for their promotion, they don’t give you a WhoIs Guard for free, but instead, you have to pay about 7$, so that 1$ is suddenly not that appealing.
What is the WhoIs Guard and why would you want it?
Well, the short answer is that it’s a protective measure that will prevent you from getting emails and phone calls from unknown people because it will hide who owns the domain.
The first time I ever bought a domain, I didn’t go for the WhoIs Guard, and I got a lot of phone calls from people asking me all sorts of questions, which was pretty annoying.
On the other hand, if you get your domain from NameCheap, you get the WhoIs Guard for free. If you want to buy a .comdomain, you need to pay around $9 in the first year, including VTA, and then, around 11$ per year.
So let’s see how you can get your domain name.
Go to NameCheap (affiliate link) and enter your domain name.
If you’re lucky and it’s available, you have the option to buy it. For demonstration purposes, I have searched for my own name, and as you can see, it’s available to purchase.
If your domain name is available too, click on Add to cart.
On the right side of your screen, you should see your cart. Click on View Cart.
Then, you should see your cart like this. You have the option to choose for how many years you want to buy this domain. It can go up to 10 years.
Also, you have the free option to activate the Whois Guard, which I recommend that you do if you don’t want everyone to have access to your contact info.
You also have some other options, like having 2 months of free private email or even a host, but we’re not gonna choose any of those, and we will register our domain for only one year.
The reason I’m doing this is that I believe you should not invest too much money right from the start.
Also, if you have some Promo Code, feel free to use it and get a better offer.
If everything is the way you like it, click on Confirm order.
Now, it is time to set up your Namecheap account. Fill in all the fields and then click on Create account and continue.
Fill in your Contact Information. If you’re not registering on behalf of a company, then uncheck the tick mark. Once every field is completed, click on Continue.
Select Whois Contact information.
You can choose to use the default contact for different sections or to add a new contact. In my case, I’m gonna user the user default account contact.
You are also asked if you want to enable the Whois Guard at the time of purchase, which I recommend that you do.
Once you have everything as you want, click Continue.
Now it’s time to complete choose the payment method and complete the details.
Once everything is as it should be, click on Continue.
Now, you can see the order details. Confirm that everything is correct and advance to proceed the payment.
Once your payment is complete, from now on, you are the owner of the domain for however many years you have selected in the beginning.
That’s it. We are done with Namecheap for now, but we will come back later because we will need to point our DNS server to our host. I’ll explain what that means when the time comes.
Choosing a hosting provider
Now that we have our domain, it’s time to get a hosting service.
There is a huge number of hosting providers, but the most popular ones are Bluehost, Siteground and WP Engine.
Bluehost and SiteGround are cheaper and better for new bloggers, and their service is pretty good.
WP Engine (affiliate link) on the other hand, is the best WordPress hosting service there is, but it is a bit more expensive, so if you can’t afford them, I recommend you go for the cheaper, but still top alternative, which is SiteGround.
If you can afford their service though, if you get your host through the link I provided, you get $112 off for the Startup plan or even $928 for the Scale plan.
Among the cheaper hosting services, my personal favorite is Siteground because I believe they provide the best possible quality and, if you ask me, their service is way too cheap compared to what they have to offer.
Their cheapest plan costs around $4 and it’s suitable for around 10,000 monthly views. If you succeed in having more than 10,000 visits monthly, then you can always go for the better plans, but for now, I believe this is the best option you’re gonna get.
The other reason I simply love Siteground is their amazing support. Whatever problem you may have that fits their field, you will always get an answer.
For example, when I first started this website, it was redirecting too many times and Google hated me for this. In fact, sometimes, the page was not even loading at all.
I contacted their 24/7 chat, and 15 minutes later, my problem was gone.
But I’m not here to show you all of the reasons why I believe Siteground is awesome for new bloggers. If you trust me just a little, then follow my advice and choose their service.
Setting up a Siteground hosting
Go to this link (affiliate link) and choose the offer you like the most. Since I want this startup to be as cheap as possible, I am going to pick the StartUp plan, which costs 3.95 € per month.
Once you select your plan, you will two choices: either register a new domain, which is going to cost you $14 or enter a domain you already have.
Since you already bought a domain from Namecheap, now you have to tick the I already have a domain option and enter your domain name then click Proceed.
Complete your account details and payment information.
Once you fill in all the details, before you click to Pay now, Siteground offers you the option to get the SG Site Scanner.
I believe you should get this service because you will be immediately notified if someone hacked your website. It’s gonna cost you around $20, but I believe it’s worth the money.
Once your payment has been processed, you are now logged in your account and can start creating your website.
Now it is time to point our domain to the Siteground server.
Go back to your Namecheap account, click on Account, and then click on Domain List.
Once you can see your domain, click on Manage. Once a new window opens, leave it opened because we will need it in just a moment.
Now that see more details about your domain, you have to go back go Siteground, click on My Accounts and then click on Go to cPanel.
On the top left side of the screen, you should see more information, including Name Servers.
Remember that I told you to leave the window that opened when you clicked Manage on your domain? It is now time to go back on that page and look for NAME SERVERS.
We have 2 fields. In the first one, you’re gonna have to enter the first Name Server that you have on your Siteground cPanel, and on the second one, enter the second Name Server on your Siteground cPanel.
This step is very important, so pay close attention!
Once you have entered your Name Servers from your Siteground cPanel, you have a green check mark to save these changes. Click on that, and now your domain is pointing to your Siteground server.
Note that it will not update automatically, as the transfer takes a few hours to process, to a maximum of 48 hours.
Now it’s time to install WordPress on your hosting account. Log in your Siteground account, click on My Accounts and then click on Go to cPanel.
Once you’re in the cPanel, you should see this menu. Click on WordPress.
After that, click on the drop-down arrow and choose Quick install.
From this point on, you have to choose your username, your admin password, the name of your blog etc. I can’t guide you in here because you need to fill in all your data.
Once your installation is complete, you should see this message. Click on Login, fill in your username and password and let’s begin!
Setting up our blog
Now that we have our blog set up correctly, we can finally start customizing our blog and creating content.
Choosing a template
First thing first, you need to choose a template for your blog.
You have three choices: a free template, a paid one or a completely custom template.
In the beginning, I highly recommend that you go for a paid template, or a free one if you can’t afford it. It should cost you less than $100, and you can even find amazing templates for $40 or so.
Now, I can’t tell you what design to choose for your blog. That is completely up to you and what you like most.
What I can do, though, is show you where you can find amazing templates for a fairly low price.
Elegant Themes provide some amazing templates that you can easily customize.
Their most popular theme, called Divi, allows you to design your blog super easily, simply by dragging and dropping different elements.
As you can see, you need to pay $89 per yearly, of a one-time fee of $249, and you will have access to all their 87 templates, for a lifetime.
The next choice you have is StudioPress. Just like Elegant Themes, they provide many different templates that you can choose from (65, to be more precise).
Their price range from around $60 to $130, but they are totally worth the money.
So go to their website and see if you enjoy one of their templates.
If none of these options is right for you, then I have one final recommendation.
ThemeForest is, by far, the biggest marketplace for website templates. They provide over 44,000 templates for WordPress and other platforms, all available to you for a lower price than Elegant Themes or StudioPress.
You can get a decent looking template for just $29, which is more than ok, considering that most of them have a pretty a pretty good quality.
I highly recommend you take your time to look for the perfect template, because you will not be changing it for a while, so this is a pretty big decision.
If you made your choice and you now have your zip template, it’s time to upload it to your WordPress account.
Go to your Dashboard, and on the left side, hover over Appearance, then click on Themes.
Now, click on Add New.
Click on Upload Theme, then choose the file you want to upload. Once you’ve done that, click on Install Now.
If everything worked out correctly, you should see the following message.
One tip I have for you is to delete ALL of the free templates and other templates that you are not going to use anymore, because it will improve your website speed. Keep only the theme/themes you are currently using or you are planning to use in the future.
Installing important plugins
Once you have installed your template, it is now time to install different plugins that will make your life easier.
In order to install a plugin, once again, go to your Dashboard, hover over Plugins and click on Add New.
The first and most important plugin you need from the beginning is Yoast SEO.
There is a free version of it and also a premium one. In the beginning, the free version is all you need to optimize your website’s SEO.
So, go to Plugins, click on Add New, and search for Yoast.
Once you found Yoast, click on Install Now.
Once the plugin has successfully been installed, you need to click on Activate Now and start configuring it.
If you want to know the perfect settings for Yoast, I recommend you read this article.
Now that you know the process of installing a new plugin, I want you to repeat the exact same steps with the following plugins:
- Akismet Anti-Spam: Helps you get rid of spam comments.
- Contact Form 7: Helps you create an easy contact form for your website, so your audience can get in touch with you.
- WP Super Cache: Makes your website a lot faster, which is a deciding factor in Google Rankings.
- MailChimp for WordPress: MailChimp is a free email service that you can use when you are starting a new blog.
- UpDraft Plus: Helps you create a backup for your website, so if something goes wrong, you can always go back to a previous version of your website.
Remember to activate and to configure all these plugins the way you want them to. There are a lot of articles online, so do a Google search and you’ll see the best settings for each plugin.
These are all free plugins and they will help you have a clean start, where you only have to worry about creating amazing content.
Of course, most plugins also have a paid version, but for now, I think you’re fine with the free version.
Though most plugins I recommended are free, there is one plugin that I highly recommend you spend some money on – Sucuri.
Security is extremely important for your website. If you manage to grow your blog, it’s very likely that some people will try to hack your website.
While they may not be so cheap (the Basic plan costs $200/year), they are by far the most popular security platform online.
Optimizing our settings
There are some settings that we need to take care of right from the beginning. It’s quite easy and they will make a huge difference.
Hover over Settings, then click on General.
There are 2 things to look at.
First, if your blog is a membership website, check the Anyone can register checkmark. If not, uncheck it.
Next, you can choose the Date format, Time format and the day the week starts on. Choose the one that you prefer the most.
Here is what my settings look like.
Next, go to Settings – Discussion.
I recommend you have the exact same settings as I do.
While you may not want to receive an email anytime someone posts a comment, you definitely want to manually approve comments.
There are so many spammers out there and they only want to share some links totally unrelated to the topic of your blog, with no real contribution to the discussion.
Our last section in Settings is also the most important one.
So, go to Settings – Permalink.
You have a few different options, but I highly recommend that you choose the Post name option.
We’re almost finished!
There are 2 more things to take care of.
First, I hope you installed Yoast SEO and followed the tutorial I gave you. If not, scroll top again and look for that link, because Yoast will help you set up the Google Search Console.
This is a crucial tool for your website. It takes care of the indexing of your pages and posts, shows you what links are not working, creates a sitemap for your website, a robots.txt file.
I know these may sound technical right now and you have no idea what they are, but just follow along that tutorial using Yoast and you won’t have to worry about them for a while.
Next, we need to install Google Analytics.
There are many ways to do this, but the easiest one is, as you may guess, with a plugin.
So, once again, go to Plugins – Add New and search for this plugin.
Install it, activate it and configure your Google Analytics account. It is very easy and intuitive to create one.
Now that we have everything set up the proper way, it’s time for your blogging skills to come online.
This is not an article about how to create amazing blog posts, but I do have some tips for you, that I also repeated in some of my previous articles.
First thing first, you need long-form content, of at least 1500 words. You don’t need to post a daily 300 words article, because you won’t stand a chance in ranking higher on Google.
Also, you must create actionable, useful content. People are not going to read your blog if they can’t find a solution to their problem. That’s why you must do everything you can to provide the best quality content you possibly can, that will make your article a “Go-to” solution for any problem people might have.
Last, but not least, you need original content.
Under no circumstance, you should ever copy someone else’s content. What you can do, instead, is to look at their content and think “Hmm, how can I write a better article than this one?”.
Also, try not to repeat the information that 100 other websites before you already shared. They are already ranking for that information, so it’s very tough for you to beat them if you don’t come up with something new.
Having these tips in mind, let’s see how you can create a blog post.
On your top side of your Dashboard, hover over Posts, then click Add New.
Now, we can create our content.
Create a catchy headline that includes your keyword, because it will increase your Click-Through-Rate and you will have better chances to rank higher on Google.
If you want to rank for a specific keyword, you must use it several times in your content.
But, that doesn’t mean that you have to use it unnaturally. Google is smart, and it will figure out what your article is about.
So if you want to rank for hot chocolate, don’t write something like Our hot chocolate is the best hot chocolate you have ever tried. Come see for yourself how good our hot chocolate is and you will never want to buy hot chocolate from another place ever again.
That’s wrong and unprofessional.
Include your keywords naturally, where it makes sense.
Monetizing our blog
After you managed to create some really nice pieces of content and you have a solid audience, it is now time to think about monetizing your blog.
My best choice is affiliate marketing, and you can learn more about that from here.
If you don’t want to try affiliate marketing, here you can find other ways to make money with your blog.
There you have it!
Now that you have your blog set up and running, it’s time for you to develop it.
Remember that it takes time to see real results, but at least you know for sure that you’re off to a great start.
Don’t forget to start monetizing your blog only after you have provided some amazing quality articles and after you have a solid audience.
Leave a comment below and let me know what niche you want to focus on and why.