So you’ve found your niche, you know what you’re going to blog about, who will want to read it, and how you will find these readers and now it’s time to actually build your blog. The good news is that it is easier than ever for anyone to build a professional blog—no coding or web design experience necessary, and we’ll show you how in just a few simple steps.
What Do I Need to Start a Blog?
To start a professional blog you will need more than to just register for a free blogging site and a couple of posts. Those looking to build a professional blog that can be monetized will need to build a blog website, which requires a domain name (e.g., www.yourblog.com), web hosting or a plan with an all-in-one-site builder (i.e., Squarespace), a marketing plan, a contact list, and a number of marketing tools such as those for lead generation, and email marketing.
Here are the things you need to start a blog:
- Domain name: A domain name is the web address, or URL, of a website (i.e., www.yourblog.com). While you can get a free subdomain (i.e., yourblog.wordpress.com), those looking to build a professional blog should build a professional blog that uses their own domain name.
- Website: A blog is a website, and so, of course, you will need a website in order to build a blog. There are a number of platforms available, from blogging-specific sites such as Medium or Tumblr, content management systems such as WordPress, and drag-and-drop site builders such as Squarespace or Weebly.
- Word processor: While you will be able to write blog posts directly on your site, many still opt to use a word processor such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word to write posts. This is because these have more built-in tools such as spell check and they can be used with tools such as Grammarly, to even further check your writing for errors.
- Marketing plan: When building a blog, you will want to have a plan of action as to how you will market your blog, gain readers, and keep readers. You don’t have to be in marketing to create a marketing plan, but you do need to have a good idea of how you will grow your blog.
- Lead Gen Tools: Contact lists are key for bloggers and a leading way to build a contact list is through lead generation tools such as Leadpages. It’s a tool that integrates with your website to give bloggers a way of more effectively turning site visitors into leads or contacts.
- Contact list: The majority of bloggers will not have a contact list when they are just first starting their blog, but it is something to keep in mind and plan to create. Learn how to build your contact list.
- Email marketing platform: The purpose of having a contact list is to have a way to communicate with your contacts, and a good way of doing just that is with an email marketing platform such as MailChimp. It enables bloggers to send out mass emails and schedule emails, helping to save bloggers a lot of time.
- Content calendar: Bloggers will generally create a volume of content and then schedule it to post and many use content calendars to plan and manage posts.
There are hundreds of different tools bloggers use and every blogger will find certain tools to work best for them, their budget, and expertise level. Ultimately, you should choose tools and platforms that make your life easier and your blogging more efficient.
How to Build a Blog in 6 Steps
Building a blog does not need to be difficult. With the help of some great platforms and tools, nearly anyone can build their own blog without any technical expertise or web design experience. Once you know what you will blog about (your niche) and how you plan to reach readers, you will choose which blogging platform to use. From there, get a domain name and web hosting, choose a template, customize it, create content, and publish your blog.
To make this easy, we’ve created a simple checklist you can use as you get started.
Here’s how to build a blog in six easy steps:
1. Choose a Blogging Platform
The first step in building a blog is choosing which platform to use. There are a number of options available, however, for those looking to build a professional blog, we recommend using WordPress.org or a site builder such as Squarespace. Both offer comprehensive blogging features that can grow with your blog. The easiest of the two is Squarespace, and for that reason, we’re going to show you how to build a blog with Squarespace.
The best blogging platforms give you a good way of connecting with others in an easy and affordable way. There are a number of quality blogging platforms available, and which is the best for you will depend on your blogging needs, budget, and goals, but the overall best include WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Medium, Tumblr, Squarespace, and Weebly.
2. Create an Account & Choose a Plan
Next, navigate to Squarespace or the platform of your choice and signup for an account. With Squarespace plans (starting at $10/mo.), everything you need to build and manage a professional blog is included such as a drag-and-drop site builder, web hosting, a free domain name, and a free SSL certificate. Those creating a WordPress blog will need to get web hosting and a domain name, which you can get both for as little as $2.95 per month with Bluehost.
3. Choose a Template or Theme
A website template serves as the base of your site, which you will customize to make it your own. It’s important to take your time choosing a template (or theme). Be sure to choose one that matches the overall aesthetic you’re going for and one that requires the least amount of customizations to match how you want your site to look when completed. When you’ve found your template, hover over it and click to get started with that template.
4. Customize Your Site
After selecting your template, it’s time to start customizing it and making it your own. To do this in Squarespace, hover over page elements you wish to change such as images, text, and buttons. Use the left-hand menu to add/remove pages, update design, and schedule posts (through the “Blog” page).
Here are five things to do when first building your blog:
- Add site title (the name of your blog)
- Add your logo
- Add/remove pages (i.e., blog, about, and contact)
- Add blog posts to your “Blogs” page
- Add social links
Keep in mind that while Squarespace is regarded as one of the easiest to use site builders, it still takes a bit of time to get used to using the platform. Squarespace offers users a comprehensive help center which includes a vast amount of educational resources to help new users learn how to use it and design professional-quality sites and blogs.
5. Build out Content
Blogs are all about content, and so you will need to build out blog content, or posts. Bloggers are generally advised to write posts using a word processor such as Google Docs because it comes with better spell-check tools and the ability to integrate Grammarly. Beyond writing blog posts, a good habit to get into is to write posts in advance, organize them with a content calendar, and schedule them. This helps ensure you always have new content.
💡 Tip: Squarespace allows you to schedule blog posts to automatically publish at a certain date and time.
6. Publish Your Blog
Once you have customized your site and created some content, it’s time to go ahead and make your blog live. To do this, go to the “Home Menu” and click “Settings.” From settings, click “Site Availability,” and then select “Public” and click “Save.” If you have not already purchased a premium plan, you will need to go ahead and do so in order to make your site public.
➡️ Next steps: Congrats on launching your blog! Now, it’s time to start promoting it. Learn more about how to gain exposure with blog outreach.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
Those looking to build a blog for professional use should use their own custom domain opposed to using a free subdomain over platforms such as WordPress and Medium (e.g., blog.wordpress.com). A self-hosted blog will involve a few costs such as a domain name (~$12/yr.), web hosting (~$3/mo.), premium theme (~$30), and marketing tools. Overall, building a blog is generally affordable and one can be built for under $100.
Here are six costs involved with starting and building a blog for professional use:
- Custom domain name: Around $12 to $15 per year with a domain name registrar or free with many web hosting plans such as those from Bluehost.
- Web hosting: Those building a blog with WordPress will need to get web hosting to connect their own custom domain name and be available online. Web hosting costs around $3 to $10 per month. Another option is to use a site builder such as Squarespace which makes it easy to build a site and includes hosting.
- Lead generation tools: There are a number of lead generation tools such as Leadpages, which are used to build contact lists which bloggers use to communicate with readers. Plans start at $25 per month and Leadpages offers a 14-day free trial.
- Email marketing platforms: To uphold readership, bloggers use email as a way to market their blog and promote new content. The best way to send mass emails to large contact lists is with email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, which has a free plan and premium plans starting at $10 per month.
- Content ideation tools: A challenge all bloggers face is coming up not only with blog post ideas, but ones that actually interest a large number of people. Before pouring your heart and soul into a post that may be a total flop, check tools such as BuzzSumo to confirm whether or not readers are interested in the topics you’re thinking about writing.
- Social media tools: For blogs to be successful and gain a large readership, people need to first find it. A leading way bloggers gain readers is through social media, and so it’s important to use social media as a marketing tool. Make your life easier by using a social media planner tool such as Buffer (~$15/mo.) to schedule and automate posts.
Those just building their first blog may want to consider holding off on some of the more sophisticated blogging tools such as Leadpages and content schedules, and instead plan to invest that money (and time) into marketing their blog. The reason being is that the blogging space is very competitive and it can be difficult to drive traffic to your blog when no one knows of it yet. So, investing in blog marketing will help you gain exposure and make a successful blog.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
There can be a lot of money to be made with a blog and we’ve all heard that bloggers can easily generate a monthly residual income of around $500 to $2,000. Top bloggers often earn well into six-figures. The most common ways bloggers make money is through ads, affiliate marketing, paid mentions, cross-selling your brand, and selling digital products or services. To maximize blog revenue, many bloggers utilize multiple revenue channels.
Here are the five most common ways bloggers make money:
- Ads on page: Traditionally, the most common way to monetize a blog was by placing ads across webpages. Bloggers get paid to display ads with platforms such as Google AdSense.
- Affiliate marketing: Mentioning certain products and brands? With affiliate marketing programs you can get a commission for every sale your blog brings to that brand.
- Paid mentions: Highly successful blogs with large readerships may get paid by brands to write about them. It’s a form of influencer marketing, where you (as a blogger) are promoting products and influencing them to make a purchase.
- Cross-sell your brand: Many brands create their own blog in order to promote and cross-sell their brand. For example, a company that sells at-home fitness programs may create a fitness blog in order to connect with its target audience and promote its program.
- Sell digital products: Another way to monetize a blog is by selling digital products, such as an online course, e-book, graphics, or even things such as photo presets and WordPress themes.
Keep in mind, how much a blog makes is directly correlated with its traffic volume (the number of monthly readers it has) and the quality of those readers. For example, it doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 monthly readers if you’re using affiliate marketing and none of your readers are influenced by you to make a purchase. The ideal combination for blogging is having a high number of quality readers who trust you and the advice that you provide.
Looking to build a blog that will generate money? Get the complete breakdown on how to make money blogging.
Bottom Line – How to Build a Blog
It’s easier than ever to build a blog thanks to a number of platforms that eliminate the need to have any technical experience. You can build a blog in just six simple steps: choose your blogging platform, create an account, choose a template, customize the template and build out pages, create content, and publish it.
Those without web design experience looking to build a profitable blog are advised to use a drag-and-drop site builder such as Squarespace. It not only makes building a blog a breeze but with plans starting at $10 per month, it’s also an affordable way of building and managing a blog that saves you time, allowing you to focus on creating great content, and building your audience.