Looking for the perfect and overwhelm-free “starting a blog” checklist? This post shows you exactly step by step what you need to do before going live.
If there’s something you are passionate about, and you find yourself reading and talking about it everyday, you could totally start a blog about that topic!
But, starting a blog from zero can be a confusing and overwhelming process. I wished when I started I had a simple guide to show me exactly what really needed to be done.
So, I created one for you with the detailed process I’d follow if I had to start all over again!
This starting a blog checklist will give you the exact same steps and resources that helped me THE MOST, so you can create a jaw-dropping blog today!
Is it worth starting a blog in 2023?
If you’ve googled anything in the last week, that’s proof that blogging is not even close to dead.
When you are searching for something on Google, it will point you to where the best answers are, which in many cases is a blog!
There’s approximately 5.8 billion Google searches per day meaning the potential of reaching people through blogging is MASSIVE. And, unlike social media sites who own your content, on your blog you run the show.
Reasons to start a blog
1. You OWN IT
If you have an Instagram account or Facebook page, you don't really own them, Facebook does. Same situation with Youtube and Youtube channels and they change the algorithms like every 5 minutes! Lol
That’s why having your own blog is the best way to go, then use social media as distribution platforms to drive traffic to your site and let people find the magic you are creating.
2. You can create a legacy
They say that “What you put on the internet stays there forever” which can be bad news and embarrassing sometimes.
But if you look at that in a positive way, it also means that whatever you do has the potential to continue helping people and new generations over and over again.
All the things you share and the people you touch while you are still here in the world are going to be your legacy.
And once you have that in mind you can start creating content intentionally and gift the world with your unique talents in a way nobody else can and that’s freaking amazing!
So, let's bring your A game to the web! Shall we?
Things to know before starting a blog
Just a heads up: starting a blog with the purpose of turning it into a business requires a lot of work, patience, willingness to learn new things and of course, money.
It’s like a baby! But if you put in the work you can harvest rewards beyond your wildest dreams.
You can turn your passion into your paycheck and be a meaningful part of other people's journeys at the same time.
Your soul will literally do a happy dance every time you get a new message from someone saying “This is just what I was looking for!” and how grateful they are for bumping into the knowledge and experiences you share.
That's when you will know all the hard work is starting to pay off 🙂
So, If you’re in for the challenge let’s begin!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase through them, I can receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclosure here.
Starting a blog checklist
1. Decide how do you want to help others (AKA How to select a niche for blogging)
Deciding what to blog about can be challenging, especially if you are a multi-passionate creative like I am.
But, in order to make blogging sustainable you gotta pick something that:
1. You are crazy passionate about
2. Can be profitable
The norm is picking 1 topic (like pets, home decor, etc) so people and search engines like Mr. Google can easily recognize what your blog is about.
But If you have 2 big passions, (maybe one is more profitable than the other) and you find a way to connect them in a unique way, that my dear will make you stand out.
Look at beauty lover Bailey Sarian, who started sharing makeup tutorials but has always been obsessed with true crime stories. So, one day decided to make a video mixing both things and not really knowing how that would turn out…
Boom! “Murder, mistery and makeup” was born, and she has now close to 6 million subscribers and 700 million views on her channel as I write this post.
So, if you are sure about that one topic you want to blog about, that’s great and probably easier. But if you cannot decide and want to have 2 topics (no more of 3 I would say) go for it!
It doesn't have to be a fusion like Bailey, you can also have them as your categories and eventually adjust creating more of what's working and less of what is not.
Regardless of what blog topic you chose, there's one rule that applies to all:
Your success as a content creator will be highly determined by your ability to serve others.
Let that sink for a minute, and then ask yourself.
- What value do I want to bring to the world with my blog?
- What type of people would be happy to find this information?
Blogging for business is always about the reader, NOT you. Having this clear will help you come up with something like this:
‘I help _______ to _______ so they can _______’
For example: I help creative entrepreneurs to make beautiful DIYs and create great content they can monetize with a dash of positive vibes, so they can live the life they dream of by sharing what they love.
Having your blog intention in mind will help you stay on track and get your message out there more clearly.
2. Get your domain name
Now that you know what your blog is going to be about, you can use that information to come up with your domain name.
And here are 2 ways to do that:
OPTION A TO COME UP WITH A DOMAIN NAME: Keywords
Using keywords related to the topic you want to talk about in your blog will help you to get found (hello Google!) and remembered more easily by the people that need to hear your message.
For example a blog about vegan cooking recipes can be: uniqueveganmeals.com
Choosing a name related to your niche can also help if you are feeling shy and want to start blogging anonymously.
When I started my first Youtube channel, I only showed my hands and used captions on the first tutorials because I didn't want to even put my voice out there , so I get it!
OPTION B TO COME UP WITH A DOMAIN NAME: Your Name/Nickname
If you find it hard to find a descriptive word for your topic(s), no worries! You can always use your name, or a nickname like I did.
“Missy Lookss” was my IG handle and many of my friends used to call me by that instead of Lore, so I went with it.
In the end you make the name.
Your content is what will give meaning to whatever domain name you chose, just keep it short, sweet and easy to pronounce.
HOW TO BUY A DOMAIN NAME
Domain name registrations and renewals are done on a yearly basis.
The prices change from provider to provider. For example, I got mine with google domains for $12 usd per year.
But I recently found that namecheap (as you can probably tell by their url) has even cheaper prices!
You can check them out here and use their search bar on the main page to see if your domain name idea is available. Ahh SO exciting!!
P.S. If a domain name you like is available, please do not wait to get it! It sucks to come back weeks later and realize someone else already took it. Yeah, I have been there and it’s such a bummer.
3. Choose a Blogging Platform
If you want to start a blog that makes money, then having a self-hosted blog aka using wordpress.org (NOT wordpress.com) instead of wix, squarespace, blogger etc. is crucial.
Similar to what happens with social media, if you use Blogger or any other “hosted” platform, you don't own your blog, meaning If they want to delete your site for x,y,z reason, they could 🙁
Also, for working with some brands, having a WordPress blog is a requirement. And a Self-hosted website will make you look more professional and give you more freedom along the way.
I know those other platforms look so easy to use, but keep reading because I'll share with you how you can actually turn your WordPress editor into a drag and drop editor that will make creating beautiful content super easy peasy.
4. Get web hosting for your blog
Once you decide to go with WordPress.org, you will need a host to store all the beautiful information you will build on your site.
Bluehost has the best deals for self-hosted websites. I love to do some research before clicking “buy” on anything and this was the most budget friendly alternative I found.
For as low as $2.95 a month you get everything a beginning blogger needs.
The process takes less than 10 minutes, you can do it by opening another window while you follow this tutorial and it looks something like this:
1. Go to bluehost.com
Then just click on the “Get started” button.
2. Choose your plan
I got the basic plan, but if you plan on having more than one site the “choice plus” plan will help you with that.
3. Set up your domain
With Bluehost you can get a free domain name for the first year. After that first year the domain registration renewal costs around $17.99 per year for “.com”.
If you want to save on this first year go for it, but if you want to save on the long run then I would highly recommend to check out the other domain registration options I mentioned earlier.
Still not sure about your domain name? No problem! you can skip this step and click on “I’ll create my domain later”.
4. Fill out your account info
Check all your deets are correct, especially your email address because they will send your login and any other important information there.
5. Select a package
I got the 36 month plan to get the best price offer and didn't select any of the package extras so you probably do not need them either. If you do, you can always get them later.
6. Enter your payment details
You can pay using credit card or PayPal.
7. Create a password and login!
That’s it. You are all set to login and start working on your new blog!! #woohoo
5. Design your website: Choose a WordPress theme
Now is time to make your site look beautiful!
When I started my WordPress journey, I didn’t have a huge budget to hire a web designer, but I knew I wanted to create a gorgeous blog and find a way to make the most of my money… obvi without having to learn how to code or anything like that.
I’m so thankful I found 17th Ave. Designs because I'M SO IN LOVE with my theme! It has all you need to get a blog or even an online shop started while looking so damn pretty and professional.
They have super comprehensive step by step tutorials so you can install it by your own (that's what I did) or also the option to pay an extra for them to install it on your site, so you can save some brain power and do not worry about doing it yourself.
Finding them saved me from wasting hours trying to make a “free” theme look pretty.
I also didn't want to deal with the hassle of switching themes, by upgrading later and having to figure out how to do that without compromising my content. #Ain'tNobodyGotTimeForThat!
If you are serious about blogging, getting a premium theme is a one time investment that will be with you for as many years as you please!
So, definitely get yourself a theme that will make your life easier and your website stunning.
These beauties are worth every penny! I'm using “Mia” but “Charlotte” and “Amelia” are my other two favorites. Click on the image below to check them out!
6. Install vital WordPress plugins
But first, what are Plugins? Basically, WordPress plugins are add-ons / tools that give a new functionality to your site. Like for example, a contact form or a pop up.
If you go with 17th Avenue Designs they will give you a list of plugins to install, so every feature of your theme works beautifully and properly.
Besides that list, here are 5 other plugins that are great (and free!) for any wordpress website:
- Antispam Bee Plugin
To help you block spam comments without captchas or any complicated stuff.
To automatically Backup your files and database backups into the cloud and restore with a single click.
It identifies and blocks malicious traffic, to give your website extra protection from hackers and malware.
To analyze your content and guide you on how to create SEO optimized posts as you go.
To optimize and compress any image you upload to your website without affecting how they look. This will save disk space and help your site load faster which is also good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
You get 100 free credits per month to optimize 100 pics. I installed it when I already had posts up and needed more than that, so got a one time package of 10k credits for $9.99 that will last me for a while! Check it out here.
HOW TO INSTALL A WORDPRESS PLUGIN
It only takes a few clicks! To learn how to install wordpress plugins, check out this super easy guide.
PRO TIP: The less plugins you use the better for your site’s speed, so try to keep them to the minimum and install only the ones you really need.
7. Start creating your blog content
With your blog topic in mind is time to create a master list of content ideas.
The smartest way to do this is by focusing on the topics people in your niche are actively searching for.
How do you do that? I have 3 fave tools that I swore by! They are all free, easy to use and will bring you massive ideas.
In the article: How to create great content I explain step by step how to use them.
Plan your content strategy and blogging agenda
After gathering all those ideas is time to select the ones to work on and start planning your content calendar accordingly.
Focus on quality and not quantity. It’s better to schedule 1 amazing post per month than 8 mediocre ones.
PRO TIP: If you are not sure which ideas will be the best to start with, I HIGHLY recommend you to join the she approach’s challenge “One year of blog content in one month” I learned a TON on how to select champion ideas that'll have higher chances to rank in google faster.
The results? from the 8 posts I’ve optimized using this system (so far!) 5 of them made it to page 1 of Google ranking for different keywords within 1.5 months!
What it tells you is...
That all the efforts you put on writing your posts have solid foundations instead of throwing spaghetti to the wall and hoping something will stick.
You'll know how to confidently create your content with SEO strategies in mind from the beginning! And considering all the value that can bring, the price is honestly a STEAL!
Check all the details about the challenge and join over here.
Start writing your content
Once you decide which posts to start with and when you want to publish them, it is time to get your creative juices flowing!
Here are a few recommendations for this step:
- Write your posts with your ideal reader in mind. What does he/she need?
- Offer as much help as you can, pour your heart out and take pride in your work!
- Start writing your drafts using something like Google docs. It automatically saves what you are doing in the cloud so you don't have to worry about saving it every 5 minutes. You will also have a backup for every post that can be accessed from your phone or computer.
How many blog posts should I have before going live?
Having at least 5 posts is a good start, so people will have some good stuff to read from day 1 and this will make your blog look more established 🙂
8. Format your blog posts on wordpress using a powerful editor
Now, you just have to copy the text from your Google docs draft and paste it on your WordPress editor, then add images and whatever else you need to make you post great.
You can use the basic WordPress editor, but honestly getting an editor like Thrive Architect is LIFE-CHANGING! It will make your life easier and your post prettier and more organized.
As a visual person and someone obsessed with making things look good the WordPress editor can be challenging and confusing.
It shows your work in an abstract way and not how it will actually look when it's published.
(The alignment of the pictures and text distribution is completely different and it was driving me crazy!)
You will find yourself switching between the editor and the “preview” page to see if everything is going the way you want it. That's such a time sucker you don’t need in your life.
Here’s where Thrive Architect’s magic comes in: It turns your basic WordPress editor into a powerful and VISUAL drag and drop editor!
With Thrive Architect you can see how each page looks like while you make edits. It gives you so much freedom to design each post with ease!
Also, they have amazing extra features you cannot find in the regular Wordpress editor and you would need to look for multiple plugins to install in your site in order to get them.
Some of my favorite features included in Thrive Architect are:
- “Social Share” and “Click to tweet” so your readers can share your content with their friends and you can reach more people.
- “Table of contents” so people can check all the points you are gonna talk about and navigate your post with ease.
- “Toggle” to create a good looking FAQS section.
- “Countdown” and “Countdown evergreen” for whenever you want to create a special offer on your products.
Upgrading your WordPress editor to Thrive Architect truly makes it easier for beginning bloggers and non-techies to create beautiful posts.
I regret not getting it sooner! Because, I would have saved so much time and headaches!
You can get access to Thrive Architect as part of Thrive Suite, Check it out here. It’s amazing.
9. Get ready to start collecting emails
“Do something today that your future self will thank you for”… like starting your blog email list.
Just as a “Self-Hosted” Blog, your email list is the other thing that you can solely OWN.
Once you start welcoming people to your site, collecting their emails is what can turn a 1 time visit into a long term relationship with them!
That’s why this is such an important part of your blog launch checklist.
Eventually you can create freebies to incentivize people to join your list, but for now just focus on getting the right email marketing provider for you.
Many of them have free plans and you don't have to pay anything until you reach a certain number of subscribers.
I tried to use Mailchimp but I didn't find it intuitive and the option to segment my subscribers so I can send them emails related to only the category they are interested in (Make, Monetize or Manifest) wasn't available in their free plan so I walked away.
Then I heard about Sendfox, I checked them out and discovered they have everything I needed to start, plus some interesting features like smart pages that look like this!
Their platform is so simple to use and it's free for your first 1000 contacts.
I’m actually on their “Lifetime plan”, which means that with a single payment of $49 (Yep, ONE-TIME payment NOT monthly!) you can have a list of up to 5,000 subscribers and 50k emails sent per month.
If you grow your list further than 5k subscribers, it will only cost $10 usd per extra 1k subs.
This is such a good deal for beginners! You can grab it here, just type “sendfox” on the search bar at the top left corner to see all the deets.
10. Set up your content marketing strategy
Once your beautiful content is ready it’s time to share it with the world!
And there’s a few ways you can start promoting your content once your site goes live.
It all depends on where your ideal reader hangs out, because there is where you want to be bringing answers to their questions through your content.
Pinterest has been great for many different niches to drive traffic to their sites, because unlike Facebook and Instagram this platform is also a search engine and it is link-friendly!
People go to Pinterest to discover new ideas and ways to do things, then by clicking on the images (AKA Pins) they can easily go directly to the website that published it...and that website can be yours!
Keep in mind that it may take a couple months to start seeing traction from your pins (they gotta marinate a lil before the algorithm starts pushing them) so, the sooner you start publishing your pins the better.
To give Pinterest a try, create 5 different pin graphics per blog post and start putting them out there in the Pinterest world. But not all at the same time tho! Leave an interval of at least 7 days before promoting the same URL again so you won't look spammy.
I use Canva pro to create all of my pins, plus any other graphic I make for blog posts, products or content promotion and I LOVE IT.
The free version is pretty great and easy to use, although for a content creator, unlocking the premium features in the PRO version is a game-changer!
Having access to all the pro tools has saved me TONS of time because I no longer need to “hunt” for cute fonts or elements from the free options.
Also it allows you to resize your graphics with a single click! This is super helpful to repurpose your content and promote it on different social media platforms using the most appropriate size for each one.
The best part? You can try Canva pro at NO cost for 30 days here!
11. Legal pages
And here’s the not so fun (but necessary) part of blogging. If you truly want to turn it into a business, you gotta make sure to start blogging legally.
From day ONE you need at least:
2. Disclaimer page
3. Terms and Conditions page
If you can afford working with a lawyer to make custom legal pages for your site that’s freaking amazing and the best way to do it.
The second best (and more affordable) way, is by getting legal templates from a lawyer.
Amira from “A Self Guru” has amazing bundles to fulfill your legal needs.
Plus when you get a template from her you get lifetime updates for any new legal requirements coming in.
To learn more about each template in detail and understand why you need them, check them out here.
Starting a blog checklist wrap up!
I hope all the tips on this checklist for how to start a blog inspire you to start creating your dream website today!
Now the million dollar question may be...
How to succeed in blogging?
1. Start creating content! This is the most important thing. It doesn't have to be perfect, so just do your best and remember you can always go back and optimize it.
As with all things in life: If you start now you’ll begin seeing results one day earlier than if you start tomorrow.
2. Expect a bumpy road. There will be easy times but also challenging ones. Some things won’t work and that’s ok, you just need to grab the lesson and readjust.
Keep your end goal in sight and remember you can master whatever you set your mind to.
3. Design a personal blog strategy that’s sustainable for you! Take some time to reflect on what's working and what brings you the most joy, then do more of that.
Celebrate and take note of each win no matter how small, progress is progress and everything sums up!
4. Don’t stop learning and getting better at your craft. Look after the people you admire and inspire you, get their books, listen to their podcasts or buy their courses.
Investing in yourself not only betters your life, but also the lives of those around you online and offline!
5. And most importantly, as Banksy says: “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit”.
You got this babe!
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Get your free pdf blog checklist and let's start making the magic happen!! It is an editable file, so you can track your progress digitally or print it if you want!
FOCUS ON YOUR PLAN AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD