The 15-point checklist to start a blog (and make serious money) in 2019
It so happens that prospective Bloggers won’t stop asking me how to start a blog. It is easy to conceive the idea of starting a blog but when it is time to deploy, all shades of confusion set in.
How do I start a blog? From where do I even begin the process of starting a blog? What is the first step and then the next? Am I doing this right?
You don’t want to end up launching the blog and getting to realize that you did some things all wrong or you missed some vital steps. I mean, who wants to start something and end up being told that they made very expensive mistakes, especially if some financial investments were involved?
If only they had contracted the right persons or spoke to the right people. If only this, that, that, that and a whole separate list of that’s. It’s a long list of uncertainties. Starting a blog is an entirely new terrain for a lot of people and I understand the concerns.
I understand the concerns because I have been here before, ten years ago. There were so very few resources for me on how to start a blog but I started my blog all by myself. This is to say that it is very easy.
All of the questions you have and more are about to be answered in this comprehensive and detailed checklist on how to start your own blog. The best part is that you can literally use this HOW TO START A BLOG checklist to launch your blog for real.
Like, you read the first point, do it and tick off. Read the sixth point, do it and tick off. It is going to be that hell of a guide for you. So, yea, you are about to launch your blog so very soon.
Guess what, you can be done in 30 minutes! I am not kidding you. If you spend longer than 30 Minutes, I give you one hour max. I know right? It all seemed this was an impossible feat for you.
This is going to be the best resource or guide you will ever find on “how to start your blog” because :
i. It is not a 1000-point list. This is not a shade or anything but I am weary of the checklists on the internet that end up becoming very confusing and pointless. I mean, it is supposed to be an easy guide and we are already talking really technical and unnecessary stuff.
The point here is to get this blog started and be on the journey right away in the quickest time possible. This is supposed to be the aim right? So, yea, I will make sure that this guide is all very useful and devoid of unnecessary stuff.
ii. I will include for you all the necessary resources you need per point to make sure that you have more information on areas that may seem all too new and confusing for you.
I may not want this to be longer than what it should be (because it may turn out a very long article. Note, necessarily long, no garbage), so I will just point you to links and resources on this blog and on other blogs, really great resources.
This is if some things are all so new to you. You will find really great articles to clarify things for you.
If you are however settled and careful to check each step, I can assure you that you need nothing extra, this guide here is all the checklist that you need to start a blog.
- 1 Decide you want to open a blog
- 2 Determine your blogging niche/topic
- 3 Check blogs in your niche
- 4 Write 10 great posts
- 5 Check domain availability
- 6 Buy your domain and hosting
- 7 Install WordPress software
- 8 Set up your WordPress
- 9 Install the necessary WordPress Plugins
- 10 Change your permalink structure
- 11 Write or paste your first post
- 12 Write your about and contact me pages
- 13 Install social media share plugins
- 14 Install Google Analytics
- 15 Spread the word!
- 16 How to make money from your blog
- 17 How to grow your audience on your new blog
Decide you want to open a blog
Of course, the first step. You have to decide that you want to have a blog.
What I have come to realize is that this is one of the most important steps in this checklist (asides the actual hosting purchase, another critical step) because until you make up your mind for real, you are going to keep on procrastinating your blog launch.
In fact, it will be difficult for anyone to even help you start a blog for free. This is all because you are not ready. I wrote a blog post to address this issue. It discusses reasons why you have not been able to come around to start a blog just yet.
So, you decide that you want a blog and define your blogging purpose. Definition will help you pull through blogging challenges that you will, like any other Blogger encounter on your blogging journey.
If you don’t have a tangible reason just yet, you might want to hold up for a while and read this blog post. It will help you introspect and be sure this blogging life is for you.
If you finally, absolutely, decide that you are ready to start a blog and are excited about this jouney already, you can move on to checklist number 2.
Determine your blogging niche/topic
For this, you don’t necessarily have to have just one niche compulsorily. You can write on more than one topics or have a lifestyle or personal blog.
By the way, if you are one who is confused about the difference between a lifestyle blog and a personal blog, I stumbled on this post, it greatly clarifies between the two.
Check here for a more detailed guide on how to choose a blogging niche if you are confused about whether to have one or not.
There is a blogging niche for anyone at all. You can even create your own blogging niche if you never find anyone else talking about what you want to write on your blog, aha.
Different blogging niches you can pick from are:
- Blogging/digital marketing
- Video blogging (Vlogging)
- Product Review
- Health and fitness
- Mom blogging
- Natural hair
Check blogs in your niche
Do a quick tour of blogs in your niche, that way you have a feel of what blogging in your niche looks like. You can also begin to generate blog post ideas. Check this article on how to never run out of blog post ideas, ever.
Checking blogs in your niche is not so as to copy them. This is to help you come up with your own processes, which you will finetune later. Blogging is always evolving, you are evolving as a human being too, so you will always fine tune your processes.
Checking other blogs in your niche will also help to fan the flame that has been ignited by the spark of decision in the first place. Seeing people write their hearts on their own blog will motivate you to write yours too.
Write 10 great posts
Every one will have their own unique processes as they may decide to launch with just one post. I only recommend that you have 10 great and ready posts so that you have your new blog readers are busy loving up on different blog posts.
Check domain availability
Now to the actual opening of your blog, you want to, first of all, be sure that your domain is available.
I have a very comprehensive blog post here on how to choose the perfect domain name for your blog.
I wrote this blog post on domain choosing and the rest because so many Bloggers were buying domain names that just didn’t sound right.
I strongly recommend that you take a look at the article. So, how do you know if your domain is available or not?
How to check domain name availability
- Go to HostGator
- Scroll down to where you have ‘domains’ just above the footer
- Click on ‘register domains’
- A search bar to help you search for domain availability pops up
- Insert your proposed domain names to search
- You can also find prices of different domain names with their extensions
Buy your domain and hosting
Now that you have checked that your domain name is available, the next thing is to buy it. If you want to buy your domain name separately, you can go on ahead. A good place to buy it is at GoDaddy.com
But if you want something easier, simply go on ahead to buy your hosting because you will be prompted to buy your domain name in the process. I find this much easier and straightforward.
A good hosting company to buy your hosting and domain name from is HostGator. I recommend them because they have a very good walkthrough process from start to finish. You can literally get assistance and have things set up for you with so much ease.
As soon as you begin the process, every step of the way is extremely easy, so easy anyone who is smartphone literate can do this.
It is also one of the cheapest with the most quality out there. Speaking of their uptime, it is 24/7/365. Really great hosting to use.
The best part is that if you insert my coupon code ESTHERADENIYI, you get a 60% OFF discount. This to me is really juicy!
Step by step process of buying your domain and hosting
This is a simple step by step walkthrough on how to buy and set up your hosting with HostGator
Step 1: Visit HostGator
Of course, visit HostGator. I already explained why I highly recommend them. They have great user support and customer care and they are super affordable.
If you are a first-time Blogger click on “Get started”!
Step 2: Hosting Plan
Select a hosting plan that fits your needs. (Normally, if you are just starting out I recommend the Hatchling plan but, if you are really serious about this and want more resources & power, go with their Baby or Business plan).
If you only plan on creating 1 website, choose the Hatchling plan. If you have multiple domains and plan on creating multiple websites, go with the Baby plan! Keep in mind, you can always upgrade later on.
Click the “Buy Now!” button and let’s get started!
Step 3: Domain Name
If you don’t have a domain name already, you can buy .com TLD from HostGator for $12.95/yr – 1 year. Go ahead and type a domain name below to see if it’s available.
If you bought from somewhere else or are planning to migrate from Blogger to WordPress, click on “I already own this domain”
Confirm the hosting plan and billing cycle on this step. You can choose 12 months, 24 months or 36 months.
For account creation purposes, enter a Username and Security PIN. Don’t forget to write this information down, you’ll need this later.
Fill out your billing information, this part is very easy.
HostGator very generously gives you free SSL at no extra charge to you. Review the Add-ons below and decide if you want to add additional services.
At this step, don’t forget to insert my coupon code: ESTHERADENIYI for up to 60% off + $4.99 on select domains
Review your order details below and accept the terms.
Congrats, your hosting account has been created! HostGator will send you a welcome email confirming your Hosting plan, Control Panel link, Username, Domain, Password, 1st & 2nd Nameserver connected to your account.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Within the HostGator Customer Portal, visit the “Hosting” tab and find the WordPress Icon “Get Started with WordPress Today” for a 1 click install.
Install WordPress software
If you have multiple domains, make sure you are installing WordPress to your preferred domain name.
Make sure every field gets filled in here. Blog Title, Admin User, First, Last Name, and Admin Email.
Success! WordPress has been installed to your domain. Make sure to write down your username and the password you’ll be needing it on the next step.
Set up your WordPress
Now that WordPress has been installed, let’s log in to the Admin Area so you can start creating the website! In a new tab, type domain.com/wp-admin and login. For example, newblog.com/wp-admin. This will be the easiest way to access your WordPress back end.
Then go ahead to install a theme on your new WordPress blog. You can either pick a theme from WordPress or install a custom theme and begin to design. You can design your blog once and for all and set it up the perfect way or do the bulk of the design, make it neat and continue tweaking and designing until you are thoroughly satisfied with your blog
If you ever have issues getting started with HostGator, just send me an email (email@example.com) or comment below this post. I will jump right in to “save you”. Aha!
You can also use the live chat button on the site, they are very responsive, they will walk you through every step of the set up.
Install the necessary WordPress Plugins
In my post on mistakes WordPress Bloggers make, I mentioned that a lot of people install WordPress Plugins that are extremely irrelevant. The sad part of this is that this will slow down your blog.
A lot of new Bloggers get caught up with trying to design their blogs with some feature they do not already have or trying to improve on the functionality of their blogs in a lot of insane ways. In the process, they install these plugins because they are just a click away.
First things first, delete all the unnecessary plugins that came with your new theme. There will be a couple of plugins you do not need. Deactivating them is not enough, deactivate and then delete.
I would then recommend that you install and activate the following plugins on your new WordPress site:
- Akismet – Akismet will help you get rid of the unnecessary spam comments that flood your blog. Spam comments have nothing to do with the age of your blog. As soon as your blog is up, you have them pouring in. They are mostly from porn and betting sites. Very pesky
- miniOrange 2 Factor Authentication – this is a way to secure your blog. When you install miniOrange 2 Factor Authentication, go to the plugin itself and select the authentication method you wish to configure. Then go to Google Play store on your phone and install Google Authenticator. Enter the soft token from the account in your Google Authenticator App to login and complete setup. Each time you log in, you use the code from your Google Authenticator to verify. This is very important.
- Yoast SEO – This WordPress plugin is extremely important if you are looking to optimize your blog for search engines, which you should. Optimizing your blog for search engines is to make sure that when people type key phrases into Google and you have an optimized post for it on your blog, your blog should show up. This is free organic traffic for you!
- Updraft Plus – after a while, when you have a substantial amount of posts on your blog, there will be a need to back up your blog content in case a glitch ever happens. This is not only limited to blog hacking. You might update your WordPress or a plugin and have some serious issues. All you just have to do is restore your backup. You also have to learn how to regularly back up your blog manually, this blog post addresses that. You can refer to it when you need it.
- Social Warfare – this is a social media plugin. It helps you to share blog posts as soon as you publish. I like it because I have my total social share count reflect.
In my post on common mistakes Bloggers make on WordPress, I mentioned that they forget or never know to change their permalink structure. You should do yours right away to avoid running into complications.
This is how to change the permalink structure of your WordPress blog – login to your WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings, click on Permalinks and then select “Post Name”, then click “Save changes” to save your new permalink settings.
Write or paste your first post
…and other ones. You might want to begin to apply sound SEO strategies right off the bat so that your blog is in great shape right from day one. Click here for a good SEO for beginner Bloggers article.
Write your about and contact me pages
These are super super important. You will be shocked to know how many people actually want to read your about page especially if they are just landing on your page for the first time. Your contact page too, so important.
So many people forget to install a good social media share button until much later. You want your blog to spread farther than you can do by yourself. I already mentioned what I use, you can check out for more others that you like.
Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is very accurate in giving you more correct blog statistics. You can’t rely on your WordPress stats because you don’t have other important metrics like bounce rate, number of pages per sessions etc.
Spread the word!
Tell your friends about the blog and have fun blogging.
If you ever run into any problems starting your blog or feel that you can’t do this on your own still, you can contact me via my email – firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be very glad to walk you through this process step by step until you are very much comfortable. No, there are no hidden charges. You are welcome, lol.
Welcome to the blogging family, we can’t wait to read your blog. Please share your new blog in the comments section too. I am very certain a lot of people would like to check you out.
How to make money from your blog
You have just launched your blog, it is most definitely new. What this means is that you cannot make money from it the conventional way Bloggers like me who have been blogging for so long make money.
So, I won’t come here to dump the same old tales of how to make a blog profitable. I would rather spell things out to you than go in circles.
If you have been blogging for a while now, you can check out these two resources I have on how to make money from a blog:
Listen, one of the surest ways to make money from your blog is to have traffic and loads and loads of it. I mean, if you have traffic in thousands, there’s no beating around the bush. Just signing up for Adsense or any other Ad Networks like Mediavine, Gourmet ads etc will get you your $$$ pouring in, no kidding.
However, because you have just started your blog, you most definitely can’t have that much traffic enough to make money from your blog, so I will create another checklist just below for you to follow step by step so that you are on your way to making some serious money from your blog.
I want to also quickly mention that while you are setting up your blog to make the quick fix money, make sure that you prepare your blog for long term profit making too. You want to have a lot of blog traffic from search engines in the long run so that you can relax and gain traffic while you create content that you love.
This you should do by applying Search Optimization techniques to your blog posts. I do not want to derail or make this blog post too long so you can check out my SEO blog post for beginners. It is very detailed and comprehensive.
If you, however, run into any troubles, just pass a comment under this blog post or shoot me an email.
So, how do you make money from your new blog
Post Quality articles that people need
Remember that I mentioned that it is always good to have 10 blog posts before you share your blog with people? You don’t have to wait to have these 10 before you open your blog. Start your blog already and then begin to fill in with these articles.
These articles should solve the pain point of your reader. It doesn’t matter if you are narrating an experience with your neighbor’s dog. You want to make sure that there is a takeaway, an actionable part, an instruction, information. I hope you understand this?
Say for instance you want to narrate your experience with a stray dog who looked unhealthy, make sure that after you are done, you should give tips on dog care.
If you have decided to narrow to a blogging niche, making money from your blog might be sweeter in that you know the kind of audience you are writing for. Have them in mind as you write your blog post and inform them. Speak to their fears and solve their problems.
Sign up and begin to Pin on Pinterest
Listen, Pinterest is the quickest way to gain blog traffic if you do it well.
A lot of people underate Pinterest and I think that this because they do not know how to use it. It is understandable, Pinterest isn’t set up the way most social media platforms are. Plus, it is not even a social media platform, it is a search engine.
- Open a Pinterest business account
- Fill up your profile and picture
- Claim your website
- Create relevant boards with keyword rich description
- Begin to pin consistently
- Design your own pins (make them really attractive and optimized) and pin
Register for Affiliate Programs
When your traffic begins to pour in from Pinterest, you now have people’s attention. Turn some of the products and services you have mentioned in your insanely quality posts into money.
Sign up for affiliate programs of different kinds. Some of the affiliate programs you can sign up for :
- Share a Sale
- Amazon affiliates
- Max bounty
- Click bank
- Warrior plus
- Konga (if you are Nigerian)
- Jumia (if you are Nigerian)
- CJ Affiliate
You have to register and wait to be approved. As soon as you get an approval email, set up your payment options and everything else.
Look for the product you would like to sell on these platforms and generate your own deep link.
Insert into your post so that people can buy using your link because they are going to buy anyway.
For instance, people (you) are going to sign up for hosting anyway so, they (you) could use my own referral link. Nothing extra is to be paid on their (your) part. I even earn! Win-win.
This is why making money from your blog through affiliate marketing is the easiest if you are just starting out.
If your blog is super niched, you can make money from sponsored posts as a new Blogger. If you noticed, I did not bombard you with different blog monetization strategies because I know that many of them don’t work if you don’t have enough traffic.
Even while I discussed affiliate marketing as a means to earn money from your blog, placement of affiliate images on your sidebar or header did not come up because this depends heavily on traffic.
I made sure to mention deep linking. So, about sponsored posts, if you are in a specific niche, you can earn money from sponsored posts even as a new Blogger.
Say you talk about jewelry, blog about dogs or real estate, food, beauty, hair or finance, it doesn’t matter if you have not been able to build domain authority yet, merchants who are in this industry definitely want to work with you.
Many times they reach out to you for sponsored post placement or a much bigger kind of collaboration. It is usually sweeter to have them reach out to you because they most often than not go through with the sponsorship.
Other times, you may have to reach out to them and tell them how much value you can provide. One way to find brands you can collaborate with is checking out which of them is presently working with which Blogger.
A lot of times, their Blogger outreach manager is overwhelmed with the tedious task of finding Bloggers to work with. You can shoot an email and wait for a response.
Sometimes, initial collaborations may not turn out to be sponsored posts at first, they may have to be free or just involve product exchange. If they are good companies people in your industry talk about, you might want to build your way up by working with them.
This will help to enrich your media kit as you can boast of having worked with a certain kind of brand when you are approaching bigger brands.
A media kit for a Blogger is just like the job seeker’s CV. It is where you state all of your blog stats, audience, and reach, brands you have worked with, what value you can bring to brands etc.
How to grow your audience on your new blog
When you start a blog, you are primarily concerned with setting up and getting posts up on it. Once you are done with figuring out how to use your dashboard mostly, it is time to begin to work your way up to building your audience.
In many cases of making money from a blog, the more blog visits (which is most commonly referred to as blog traffic) you have, the better your chance at making money from your blog.
More blog traffic will help you explore other blog monetization methods like Ad placement by Ad networks, selling direct Ad spaces, collaborating with brands that need a high volume of traffic, the list is endless.
I usually say that making money from a blog has a lot to do with how flexible you are and how smart you are at recognizing opportunities.
So while you are earning money from affiliate marketing and sponsored posts (if you are super niched), you can begin to work on your blog traffic. Let’s discuss briefly how you can begin to drive blog traffic to your new blog.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization which is for short, SEO is simply the process of optimizing your site for visibility and ranking on search engines. There are so many search engines all over the world.
The most popular ones are Google, Bing, and Yandex. You want to make sure that when people type in words or phrases (known as keywords) and click on the search button, your blog shows up if you have an article that satisfies their query.
Search engine optimization is one of the best methods to get blog traffic. The kind of traffic you get from this method is called organic traffic. This type of traffic has always proven to have more quality than the rest because it converts so well.
When people go in search of things on Google, it means that they are really looking for solutions and are in search of answers. When they find them on your blog, they are happy and don’t want to leave.
Therefore, they spend a lot of time on your blog, click on other articles related to what they came to look for and may even subscribe to your blog.
Now, SEO as a means of driving traffic to your new blog is a wide topic somewhat, so I wrote a beginner SEO article for Bloggers. It covers the basics enough to get you started.
I will briefly talk about Pinterest here as a search engine. Pinterest is one of the fastest ways to generate traffic to your new blog.
Pinterest is so good that the number of followers you have doesn’t even matter. All that matters is how consistent and strategic you are on the platform.
I am looking to begin to churn out really great articles on Pinterest and how to drive massive traffic to your blog from the platform.
In the meantime, refer to the procedure for setting an optimized Pinterest account. I mentioned this in the “how to make money from your blog” category.
Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your new blog if you know the ropes. It can be very dicey and I would recommend that you don’t spread yourself too thin on too many social media platforms.
You might want to choose to promote your blog on the social media platform that you enjoy the most. This will help to avoid burnout in the long run.
Facebook and Twitter are very good places to start. If you, however, have a good following on Instagram, I suggest that you look into that too.
Please don’t expect too much from social media traffic because honestly, people never like to leave the platforms they are on. They want to keep scrolling and sorts. It takes a killer blog title to stop them in their tracks to check your blog out.
Instagram is even more difficult because your links are not clickable on the caption. People will have to click on the link in your bio to visit your blog.
Guest posting is a great way to drive traffic to your new blog. This kind of traffic reflects referral traffic in your Google Analytics.
Look for authoritative sites in your niche that you can write for. You should give it your best shot because you have the chance of having these people subscribe to your blog.
You can start with Blogger friends that already have an audience. It helps if they also have a good Domain Authority.
Domain Authority, DA is a 1- 100 point system that measures how well a site is likely to rank on Google. The higher the number on the scale, the better the Domain Authority of the site.
If they have a good DA, it will help you in your SEO efforts on your blog. Try to read up on backlinks.
I am hopeful that this blog post is everything that you need to start a blog and make a lot of money from it.
If this has helped you, I would be very grateful to have you share on social media and pin on your relevant boards.
If you have any questions whatsoever, I would be willing to attend to them whether in the comments section or via my email.
This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will add some extra bucks to my pocket! Thank you for your support!
This post has been included as an entry into a giveaway/sweepstakes.