So you want to start a blog? Super! Welcome, welcome! There are so many reasons why people are still setting up blogs in 2023. Despite what you may or may not have heard, blogging is not dead. Not by any means. Over the next couple of paragraphs, you will find a checklist for starting a blog in 2023.
Some of these may be affiliate links, which means when you buy something I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you, and it really helps to support me – so thank you!
Reasons to Blog
Let’s go through some of the incredible 2022 statistics from an amazing piece on Ahrefs.
- 77% of Internet users read blogs.
- Roughly 70 million new posts are published on WordPress each month.
- Internet users in the U.S. spend 3X more time on blogs than they do on email.
Think about any search that you have recently conducted on Google, it usually centers around a question.
- What is the currency of Greece?
- Which is the best hair dryer to buy for under $100?
- Why is my cat sad?
And in response to your question, you’ll find hundreds of thousands of answers. And this, my dear friends, is what blogging is all about. We answer people’s questions.
What Blogging Is Not
How often have you come across content that either hasn’t fulfilled the answer to your question, or exactly what you have been looking for? A common misconception is that blogging is like a diary, where you write your innermost thoughts down about XYZ.
Whilst that may have been the case in the early 2000s when LiveJournal and Tumblr were the go-to online journals for angsty teens to confess their love for Nsync and anime (guilty). The space has completely changed over the past decade.
If you want to share your day-to-day routines, thoughts, or opinions there are better channels for you to do that on. Instagram & TikTok are some of the most popular social media platforms to share daily routines that can launch your career into a different kind of stratosphere.
Blogging is not that. If we could condense exactly what blogging is in one sentence it would read something like this:
Blogging helps answer the internet’s problems and suggest tips on how to improve/fix/experience life’s problems and questions.
Why Blogging Is Important in 2023
Nowadays, blogs are at the forefront of information found online. And there are a number of reasons why people continue to enter this space on a daily basis.
In 2021 there was a major Meta outage that took down Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook for several long hours. Millions of people who depend on those services for their businesses, incomes, and livelihoods were impacted by the outage.
It’s extremely rare for the likes of Google to have an outage or time down, so even if social media platforms like the great WhatsApp outage of 2021 happen again, you can rest assured that your blog will keep drawing in traffic.
Questions to Ask before starting A Blog
There are some essential things to ask yourself as you work your way through the checklist for starting a blog. And the key question to ask before you start a blog is:
Q. Who are you setting up your blog for?
- Your answer will depend on you and your needs. Are you setting up a blog for yourself? Are you looking for somewhere to share your thoughts about your personal life or areas of interest?
- Are you starting a blog because you want to share information with the wider community? Do you have knowledge on a particular topic that you feel you could help answer people’s questions? Have you searched on Google for an answer and haven’t found the results that you were looking for?
The answers will of course vary depending on each person. But those drawn to articles like this, usually tend to be in group 2. They want to create content that will help people with advice etc.
Managing Expectations for Starting a Blog
In reality, most people have fantastic ideas when they set up a blog. They’ve been motivated to create something from scratch and that in itself is worth a clap on the back.
Sadly, 99% of people will never make it past the first month of blogging. They get frustrated for a variety of reasons:
- Not seeing immediate results;
- Unable to identify their niche;
- Failing to understand the importance of SEO;
- Got bored with the process;
- Just gave up.
And it’s understandable why a lot of people give up on their blogging dreams. It’s a very slow process. Like incredibly slow. We’re talking between 9 and 24 months before you see any of your hard work actually paying off. And we humans are very impatient creatures.
Especially in the golden age of instant gratification and money-making schemes being presented to us on an almost daily basis. How often have you come across a TikTok video of someone claiming to earn 6-figures from their side hustle of drop-shipping?
If you are looking for a quick return of investment from setting up a blog, you will be sorely disappointed.
What are realistic expectations for starting a blog?
- Time. It’s going to take time. You are going to have to invest time in yourself and the content that you are creating. How much time is completely dependent on your life and what is going on in it.
- Patience. Much like with time, starting a blog from scratch is going to require various levels of patience. Patience for learning a brand new skill. Patience for content creation ideas. Patience for when your theme decides to just stop cooperating with you. Patience for seeing any kind of results. Patience for your first sale/income from ad revenue.
- Money. Earning money is one of the benefits for a lot of people who start a blog. 33% of Bloggers will not earn any money. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case and they all fall into the reasons outlined above. If you are successful with starting a blog and persevere, it is completely possible to earn seriously good money from your blog. But like anything in life, it’s not going to happen overnight.
- Skills. If you decide to start a blog, you are going to learn an amazing new skill set that is transferable to other industries. You will not have wasted your time learning how to set up WordPress, learning SEO, and creating social media content. There are endless skills to be gained from learning how to start a blog and operate it.
Checklist for Starting A Blog Outline
- What is a Niche?
- Purchasing a domain name
- Setting up WordPress
- Selecting a Theme
- Creating a Blog Content Road Map
- Connecting Blog with Google Analytics & Google Search Console
- Social Media
- Email Lists
Blog Checklist #1 What is a Niche?
The majority of people who start a blog have a general idea of what they want to cover. And it’s only after doing a lot of research that they decide on their niche. This is one of the most crucial steps in your checklist for starting a blog.
A niche is defined as “products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.”
An example of a niche would be a blog that focuses on BPA-free water bottles. Or gardening tips for people who live in apartments.
It’s important to know what niche you are focusing on and this is the first step in starting a blog.
- What are you passionate about?
- What interests you about the topic?
- What experience or knowledge do you have about the topic and niche?
- Could you write several dozen articles about the topic?
- Or just one?
Being able to identify from the get-go about your passion/interests and narrowing down what you want to focus on is a winning start.
Blog Checklist #2 Purchasing a Domain Name
What’s in a name? Well, a lot really. According to Mr. Shakespeare, there wasn’t a lot to a name but I disagree. It’s worth putting some thought and consideration into what your blog name is going to be. When you reach this stage of your checklist for starting a blog, it’s worth putting on your thinking hat and writing down some ideas.
I’ve seen numerous examples of blogs that have been successful that were under the couple’s name, ex. Ben & Jennifer’s Guide to Romance, only for the couple to separate years later. Which is incredibly awkward and costly for numerous reasons.
Additionally, if you have a blog named ‘Budgetbeautyblogger.com’ but start promoting luxury branded make-up, your name no longer is relevant as your audience and your content has clearly changed.
And it should go without saying that your name should reflect your niche. If you purchase the domain name davesbbqgrills.com and end up writing content about photography you’ll end up with very confused users.
There’s a lot to be considered when selecting a good brand identifiable name. But if you are struggling with something creative, then play around with a Blog Name Generator that might inspire something.
Where Can I Purchase a Domain Name?
I’ve purchased all my domain names via NameCheap.com and it has always been an incredibly straightforward process.
You can search for your desired name of choice that comes over 400 extensions beyond .com, such as .net, .org, .travel, .vacations etc.
Domain names vary in price, but a good starting price for a domain name should start at $6, and yearly renewal increases by 1/3rd.
Explore with different names and see what’s available. I’ve used the extension .travel at the end of one of my domain names and I love it. See what works for you.
Blog Checklist #3 Web Hosting
When I started my first blog in 2021 I knew nothing about web hosting. And let me tell you how important it is to have a good web hosting service. You’ll see numerous bloggers promoting Bluehost, which is who I went with originally. You’ll see so many bloggers promoting Bluehost because of the fat affiliate cheques that come with sales conversions.
I switched after 6 months of using Bluehost and try to warn any new bloggers out there to avoid their slow hosting speeds.
After asking around in several of the blogging groups, I made the switch to Siteground and haven’t looked back. It now hosts all 5 of my websites and its customer service was extremely helpful in helping me switch over.
I found their hosting rates to be very reasonable. I pay €66 for the entire year to host multiple sites.
Self-hosting is even cheaper, but you do need to be technical in order to do it. I wouldn’t have the foggiest of where to begin.
Blog Checklist #4 Setting up WordPress
Item number 4 on your checklist for starting a blog is setting up WordPress. If you do decide to go with a hosting provider like Siteground, you can easily set up your WordPress via there.
Otherwise set up your WordPress at WordPress.ORG. This is very important to note that you will need to set it up via the .org as it is free and means you can self-host if you so wish. If you sign up with WordPress.com you will have to pay a LOT of money for a domain name and hosting. If you don’t pay anything at wordpress.com you’ll have a website that ends with .wordpress.com – which doesn’t reflect authority or reliability.
WordPress takes some time to figure out. You will need to be patient with all the options and plugins that are needed to run your site. But with time and exploration, you’ll get there. Some of my essential plugins for WordPress are:
- Yoast SEO – A Plugin that helps with SEO.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – Keeps nasty spam away.
- Sitekit by Google – A quick glance at some key figures from Google Analytics.
- Super Page Cache by Cloudflare – Cleans my cache.
Blog Checklist #5 Selecting a Theme
The majority of new bloggers will spend a huge amount of time picking the prettiest or most attractive theme. Do yourself a favor and pick one that is simple and straightforward. This is the biggest tip that I can give you for your checklist for starting a blog – Do not take longer than 1 hour to set this up.
There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t dedicate too much time to picking a theme when you start a new blog.
- Some themes are incredibly heavy on the backend. Which means it can make your site incredibly slow. Slow site = frustrated users who will bounce off the page before its even loaded. The lighter the theme, the better. Trim the fat, if you will.
- No one will see your site for months. Really. Your site will sit on the back pages of Google for a good 9 months. The only people that will be discovering your new site are your mom, best friend, and random bot for the first 6-9 months.
- The Google Sandbox. This is when Google is trying to figure out who you are and what your site is about. Until you pump out a lot of content from your niche, it will keep you hidden away from the front pages of Google for up to 9 months. So if you spend days and weeks on creating a beautiful theme for your site, you are better off using that time writing articles.
Blog Checklist #6 Creating a Blog Content Road Map
Fantastic! You’ve done so well to get this far. Number 6 on your checklist for starting a blog is the most crucial stage of your journey to success. Of course, you can go willy-nilly and start pumping out content with very little direction.
In order to know where you are going, you need to create a blog content road map. This will help you identify the stops on your path to success and SEO-optimized written content.
So what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of creating content for your website that has the potential to rank on the first page of Google.
Let’s say you are writing an article entitled ‘Best Things to Do in Paris’. Your article is going to focus on words/things we associate with Paris. These are called keywords. Some of the keywords for our article on things to do in Paris might include the following;
- Eiffel Tower
- Mona Lisa
- Arc de Triomphe
- Notre Dame
- Sacre Coeur
Google is going to understand that your article on Paris has a heavy focus on things that are generally associated with the French capital city. The more keywords you have in your article, the better.
Choosing the right keyword is incredibly important for SEO and ranking on the 1st page of Google. There are endless amount of resources out there to help gain a better understanding of SEO.
It is the most important and essential part of blogging and once you have a grasp of it, you’ll be soaring to success.
- Passive Income Geek (YouTube)
- Carl Broadbent (YouTube)
- Fatstacks (Blog)
- The Blog Billionaire (Podcast)
Start writing your first pieces of content. You can return to them in 6 months and edit them with all your SEO knowledge.
As part of your roadmap, you will need to figure out what you are going to write about. You’ve decided your niche, you’ve set up your hosting and WordPress and you’re on your way to learning about SEO.
So how are you going to decide on what are the best keywords for your blog? Thankfully there are tools out there that can help with making those decisions.
Where can I find keywords?
KeySearch is a tool that is used by bloggers for finding keywords. It’s straightforward and looks something like this. You put in a term like ‘How to use Keysearch’ and it returns with results. The results indicate that this would be an easy term to rank for on Google and give it a score of ’18’.
What is a score based upon?
The score reflects the difficulty in the competition. A tool called MOZ gives each website a Domain Authority (DA) score. A brand new website has a score of 0. As your site acquires backlinks from other websites and builds content, that score eventually climbs.
It’s very important to pay attention to your competitor’s DA score because if their DAs are too high, it will be very unlikely that you will be able to rank on the first page of Google alongside them.
I searched for the keyword of ‘Hotels in Paris’ and it returned with a difficulty score of 54. Looking at my competition of ‘Hotels.com’, ‘Booking.com’, ‘CNTraveler’ which have DA scores of 86+, it would be almost impossible for me to try and compete with writing a post about this topic.
So instead I try a few other keywords and discover the long-tail keyword ‘Where to stay in Paris on a budget’ yields some decent results. The article that I write will have to be really strong and include some excellent keywords to help me rank alongside my competitors. But it is totally doable.
Blog Checklist #7 Connecting Blog with Google Analytics & Google Search Console
How can you track your success and monitor what keywords are working for your blog? In number 7 of your checklist for starting a blog, there are two tools from Google that do both these tools and they are essential for operating and managing your success.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool to use to check if your articles have been indexed by Google. This is important in the early stages of starting your blog, as you will want to monitor what has been indexed by Google and what is still waiting to be indexed.
Indexing is when Google Bots crawl the internet and discover your content. This can take hours, days or even weeks for your articles to be discovered and indexed. In the early stages of the existence of a blog, it is typical for Google to take a couple of days to weeks to discover your content. You can request Google to find your work earlier by clicking on the ‘Request Indexing’ button.
As you add more and more content to your blog, you will be able to monitor the keywords that your blog is ranking for. We, of course, want our content to be on the first page of Google and typically in the top 3 results.
By keeping an eye on what is working for our blog in terms of keywords, we can adjust our SEO as needed. Typically a post takes 6 months for it to settle on Google, so it’s good to evaluate results every couple of months for each post.
I’ll admit I spend far too much time looking at my Google Analytics account. This is where you can see visitors who come to your blog, what they’re searching for, and how long they spend on your site. This is a really important tool to have in your toolbox and does require time and patience to figure out the beauty of your data.
As the month’s pass and your traffic and page views increase, you can use this data to assess the health of your blog. If traffic is not growing then there are changes that might need to happen on your road map.
Google Analytics is changing as we speak and the current version will be replaced by GA4, which has been a huge adjustment. This has a lot to do with privacy and data laws in the EU, which is great but a touch frustrating for those who have been comfortable with Universal Analytics as they’ve been known.
Connecting your site with Google Search Console and Google Analytics is fairly straightforward and Yoast have a good article on how to connect your WordPress to Google Search Console.
Blog Checklist #8 Social Media
Number 8 on your checklist for starting a blog may be the bane of your existence or something that you look forward to the most. Creating and building your social media strategy is a whole job in itself and is usually outsourced to a Virtual Assistant (VA). Building a community around your brand can be tiresome and difficult and it definitely has been something that I personally have struggled with.
Thankfully there are many tools out there that can help you with creating content that looks professional and can also schedule your content.
The one tool that I absolutely cannot live without is Canva Pro. It is worth every single cent and I use it every single day. I use Canva Pro to create Pins for my Pinterest Boards. I create social media graphics for my Instagram accounts. I create infographics, such as the Road Map above, to insert into my blog. And Canva Pro also helps me schedule content too, which makes my life so much easier.
Blog Checklist #9 Email Lists
Admittedly I was too focused on creating content for my blog rather than building an email list. I started collecting emails 1 year after my blog had been set up and it’s something I wish I had done months earlier.
Number 9 on your checklist for starting a blog shouldn’t be a priority in your first 3 months, but it’s worth building from month 4 onwards. By creating an email list, you will have a list of subscribers to reach out to and connect your content with. You can direct email subscribers to new content that you’ve written and published on your site, helping with page views.
And in the event that it all goes pear-shaped (outage, the site has gone down, moved, etc.), you have a list of subscribers that you can alert to any changes.
I currently use ConvertKit for collecting email addresses and sending out newsletters. One of the benefits is that Convertkit is free for the first 1000 email subscribers. I’ll admit I am not happy with their service and once I do have time I plan on moving to something like MailChimp. But that’s a problem for another day.
Blog Checklist #10 Privacy
In today’s world where we frivolously hand over our data to mega companies to do as they please, it’s important for bloggers to acknowledge that not everyone wants to share their data too.
A major change in data and privacy occurred in 2018 when the European Union (EU) announced the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In essence, it means that everyone is entitled to their data and to understand what their data is being used for.
Anyone in the EU can request that their data be removed from a website, or email list or can request any information that has been collected on their behalf. Anyone visiting your website from within the EU needs to have a pop-up that alerts the user that their data has been collected (via Cookies) and users to opt-out if they wish.
It’s totally understandable why people get hung up on picking the right theme or figuring out what to write about. But the easiest thing that you’ve got to do straight from the get-go is to just start. Write your first 1000-word article. Post it immediately. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Don’t waste time by only posting when you’ve written X amount of articles. Just start.
The world of blogging is not dead. It’s growing, and it’s growing rapidly. Become a part of this amazing experience. Make your mark. You just never quite know how it’s going to turn out. If you enjoyed this post on creating a checklist for starting a blog, leave a comment below on what you thought.