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. 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 to do more than just register for a free blogging site and write 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., www.yourblog.com). While you can get a free subdomain (e.g., yourblog.wordpress.com), those looking to build a professional blog should build a professional blog that uses their own domain name.
- Content management system (CMS): 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 content management systems such as WordPress and drag-and-drop site builders such as Squarespace.
- Web hosting (if using WordPress): If you’re looking to set up your blog using WordPress, then you’ll need to get a web hosting plan in order for your blog to be available on the web.
- 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 to write posts. This is because these have more built-in tools and in case you lose Wi-Fi, you won’t lose your work.
- 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 generation 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.
- Social media: Most bloggers use social media, whether that’s Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube, to gain traffic to their blog and to get more followers. Social media proves to be a good way to build a blog readership for free. Learn more about how to use Pinterest to grow your blog.
- Keyword research tool: If you want your blog posts to get found in search results, then you’re going to need to do some keyword research. Tools such as Ubersuggest and SEMrush make it easy to find keywords, helping you to write content that can get found.
There are hundreds of different tools bloggers use, and every blogger will find certain tools 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.
Follow along with our blog checklist!
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, but 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 most popular blogging platforms include:
Best Blogging Platforms: WordPress vs Site Builders
WordPress is the world’s leading CMS, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best platform for every blogger. In the past, site builders such as Squarespace and Wix weren’t designed to get found in search engines, so it therefore became the rule of thumb to always use WordPress. However, site builders are now designed to get found in search. Not only that, but they’re designed to make it easier to get found in search. Site builders are also far easier to use, and therefore help a lot of bloggers more easily get to blogging.
That said, if you want an easy way of setting up a blog, we recommend using a site builder such as Squarespace. It gives you a headache-free way of building a professional website—you know, the type of website others spend thousands paying a web designer for. It also comes with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help you build your site to get found in search.
If you’re adamant about using WordPress, get the step-by-step instructions on how to make a WordPress website.
2. Create an Account & Choose a Plan
Next, navigate to Squarespace or the platform of your choice and sign up for an account. With Squarespace plans (starting at $10 per month), 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, and 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 or 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 or remove pages (e.g., 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 that 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 Blog Content
Blogs are all about content, and so you will need to build out blog content, or posts. To add a new blog post, go to “Pages” from the Squarespace editor dashboard > click the “+” icon next to “Main Navigation” > select “Blog” from the options menu. After adding a blog to your Squarespace site, learn how to create an effective blog content marketing strategy.
Pro tip: Stay ahead of your content calendar by using the option to schedule blog posts to automatically publish at a certain date and time. After publishing posts, use the built-in tool to push your blog posts to your social media accounts for added exposure.
6. Publish Your Blog
Once you have customized your site and created some content, it’s time to make your blog live. To do this, go to the “Home Menu” and click “Settings.” From there, 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.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog?
Those looking to build a blog for professional use should use their own custom domain as 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 (approximately $12 per year), web hosting (approximately $3 per month), premium theme (approximately $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 that 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 (approximately $15 per month) 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 schedulers, 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 your readership 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, however, 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 of how to make money blogging.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is WordPress the best for blogging?
WordPress is commonly regarded as the best platform for blogging. However, its vast popularity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best blogging platform for you. WordPress is not the most user-friendly platform to build a blog with, so if you don’t have the time to learn the platform or if you don’t have the technical aptitude to do so, consider using a different platform. For more information, check out the best blogging sites.
What’s the best web host for a blog?
The best web hosts are those that make it easy for you to connect your blog, provide fast and reliable hosting, and are affordable. The overall best web hosts include Bluehost for ultra-low pricing on long-term plans, DreamHost for reliable, commitment-free hosting, HostGator for an affordable hosting option with unlimited storage, and GoDaddy for those looking for an easy way of building a blog. Learn more about the best web hosting companies.
Is Squarespace good for blogging?
Squarespace is generally regarded as a good platform for blogging. It’s best for bloggers who are not necessarily tech-savvy and don’t have the time to learn WordPress. On top of being a very easy-to-use blogging platform, it also has built-in SEO tools to help you more easily create blog posts that can get found in search. For many bloggers, this means they can spend more time writing blog posts and generating traffic, instead of spending time building their site.
Will a blog help my website?
Many businesses use a blog for content marketing purposes, which is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that can help drive traffic to your small business website. Since a blog consists of many posts, it helps a business build more web content. In return, a website is more likely to be found in search engines for a number of different keywords.