How to Start a Successful Blog (2019)

finding the path in a maze to reach the final objective

This is the beginning of your journey. Your very first step to becoming a professional blogger: Starting a successful blog of your own. In this article, I’m going to guide you through the process of setting up the best foundations for a new blog.

These foundations need to be rock-solid so that you won’t be forced to make frustrating changes down the road.

Making the right choices at the start is also crucial for being able to efficiently monetize your blog as you get more and more traffic and visitors.

So, here we go. This is how to start a successful blog in 2019 and what works just now.

  1. Overcome Fear
  2. Know Yourself
  3. Choose a Blog Topic and a Niche
  4. Start a blog with a reputable hosting
  5. Install WordPress and Customize the Layout
  6. Set up WordPress Correctly
  7. Install The First Essential Plugins and Extensions
  8. Start Blogging
  9. Drive Traffic To Your Blog

You’ll see that the first two steps I included in this tutorial are psychological factors and not technical ones. This is because, unfortunately, nothing is going to happen if either you don’t take this business seriously or lack the right amount of confidence in yourself.

So, let’s move to the very first step, which is not a technical one:

1. The Fear of Starting a Blog

Starting a blog can be quite intimidating. I remember all the feelings I had when I started my first online project.

First of all, there is so much information out there. The internet is full of articles that are even contradicting themselves. How do you set up the website? Where do you start? How do you install WordPress? What do you write about? How do you make money from a blog?..and so on.

With all these premises starting a blog may really seem like a daunting task.

Not only that, but these are only the technical aspects of blogging. Things that you can easily learn and that I will cover completely in this post.

However, there are also psychological factors and fears that owning a blog will inevitably arise.

The feeling that blocked me the most at the beginning was fear of judgment from peers and colleagues. I already made a few websites in the past but the first project I took really seriously is a blog about civil engineering and acoustical design. This is what really kick-started my engineering firm.

Just like me a few years ago, you may feel not up to the task.

However, after a few positive feedbacks things will ease out. You’ll just need to push through at the beginning. So, don’t let these factors scare you off. Trust me on this.

When I decided to start blogging I had ZERO competence on the subject. I was a civil engineer with no business connections, no clients, and a low paying 9-5 job that I just hated.

If you are interested in reading my story visit the about me page.

If there is one thing I learned from my journey is that with the right tools and attitude anybody can really be the master of their success.

As I said this article will show you how to set some really solid foundations for a great blog even if you don’t know anything about HTML or programming.

So, this puts the “right tools” part out of the way; but the attitude is really only up to you.

Building a successful blog is really not rocket science. The internet is full of success stories and everyone can aim for a piece of the cake.

But if you plan to make it your intent must be very serious. Indeed, blogging ain’t a quick scheme for getting rich. If you are not prepared to put in the necessary work I advise you not to continue with this tutorial.

2. Know Yourself

Do you have the necessary drive to push through the inevitable difficulties that you are going to encounter along the way?

When I decided to start “studiotecnicodeda.it”, now “studiosmd.it”, I was very frustrated with my work life. I was prepared to give it my 100% to make it work…and that’s what I did (win or lose)

Making a lot of money was never “my thing”. All I wanted was to get back my freedom. I wanted to be able to decide when and where to work. I wanted to be my own boss…and that’s what I set out to do.

So, why do YOU want to start blogging? What does successful mean to you?

The potential of this activity is just huge:

  • Make money (a lot of it if that’s your thing – some bloggers earn over six figures every month)
  • Promote yourself as an expert
  • Land a better job
  • Help others
  • Share ideas and connect with others
  • Work from home
  • Travel around the world
  • Become famous on the internet

Defining your goal is so powerful as it will give you the necessary drive to overcome all the basic difficulties you’ll inevitably encounter as a new blogger.

Now that you have a defined your goal is just a matter of getting there. Step by step is the way to go. Do something every day that will bring you closer to that goal and you’ll eventually achieve it.

Step number 1 of actually building a blog, which is step number 3 now 🙂 is choosing a blog topic and a niche for your blog.

3. Choose a blog topic and a niche

You have to figure out the subject of your blog. This is important as it may also influence your pick for the domain name, something that we’ll discuss later.

I have a complete blog post that is going to help you at finding the right niche. Give it a read.

4. Starting your blog with a reputable hosting

In order to be found your blog must be “hosted” on servers that keep it accessible 24/7. Although there are some companies that offer this service for free the only viable option to build a successful blog is to choose a reputable provider.

Indeed, choosing the right hosting is a must. If you decide to start with a free solution your domain name, which is usually yoursite.com, would be just plain ugly and pretty unpronounceable, like yoursite.blogspot.com.

It will look and sound very far from being professional. Also, on free blogging platforms such a Blogspot, Myspace, and Wix you would lack all of the necessary tools to grow your blog into a real business.

How are you going to keep investing time in your blog if it’s not making an income?

Note: starting from a free solution and then moving to a professional one as the site grows will also not work well. Having to change a domain name down the line can, in fact, jeopardize your hard-earned traffic even if you correctly redirect the links.

Unfortunately, starting free it’s like wanting to compete in a racetrack with just a bicycle. It just cannot happen. Other professional bloggers would just always be ahead of you no matter what you try.

Also, hosting is very cheap (less than 5$ a month to start an online business is nothing) so make no excuse here.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to use Bluehost for the hosting as it’s a cheap solution that works great.

Other honorable mentions for hosting

You may also take a look at what Justhost has to offer, as it’s also a very reputable hosting company that gets great reviews online. The only other company I trust is Aruba, but their site is only in Italian so is probably not your best bet.

If you want to check out Bluehost’s offer you can take a look at their hosting plan and follow me right along on setting up your blog now.

Choosing the right hosting solution with Bluehost

There is no need to select an advanced solution. The basic plan will suit you very well as it provides you with a free custom domain name and integrated WordPress. That’s everything you need to start and personally, I never felt the need for anything else.

Pick a domain name

The domain name will be the name of your site, mine is getsilasonline.com, but for example, I also own “studiosmd.it”. You should pick wisely as the name is permanent and changing it in the future will be a hassle, especially if you already have started publishing your content.

With Bluehost, you will be asked to choose your domain after having picked the plan. So, Bluehost will only tell you if the domain is free or not and will give you only basic alternatives.

So, a good tool to use to get some ideas is flame domain as it can generate all sorts of new domain names for you. I advise you to spend some time here and find something that fits your taste.

Having an infinite number of possibilities can hinder us from making a decision. However, people will be able to make sense of practically any brand you choose, so take your time but don’t overthink it.

If you need more info on this subject try reading my guide on how to choose the perfect domain name for your blog.

Insert your personal information

choose the domain name

After that you will be asked to put in your personal details and choose a payment method:

insert all your personal informations
choose the basic hosting plan as it will provide you with everything you will ever need.
Choose a payment method

Once you have agreed to Bluehost’s Terms of service just click their green submit button.

You are then going to receive an email with your login credentials.

5. Install WordPress and Customize the Layout

This is very easy as everything is pretty much already set up for you. You just need to access using the password provided and choose a theme for your blog. There is no need to go crazy over this; just choose one as you will be able to change it later once you familiarise with the features of WordPress.

Choose a wordpress theme

Have you chosen the theme? If you still don’t have a clear picture of how your blog should look don’t worry. Indeed, you’ll be able to change the theme and set it up once you do.

This blog runs on the Theme X theme made by Theme.co, but I first launched it on the free Hestia theme.

After that, you only need to click on start building and voilà, you’ll end up in your WordPress’ dashboard. This is what you’ll see:

you are almost done with creating your blog

All you need to do from now is answer a couple of questions and launch the website at the end with just a click of your mouse:

Firstly, you need to select what kind of site to set up. I would go with “business” but I really believe that this choice doesn’t matter at all.

Next, you’ll be asked to define a “Site Title” and “Site Description”. Try to express what your site is about but if you aren’t sure of what to write just yet, you can skip this step. Again, you’ll be able to tweak everything later.

There is only one thing left to do now: Launch your blog!

Today you have officially become the owner of a new blog. So, officially this makes you a blogger. You should feel good about yourself. Remember this date because if you make it you’ll look back at this day as the day that changed your life.

Now, get to work! your blog needs you.

6. Set up WordPress Correctly

WordPress works pretty well just out of the box but there are just a few settings that I really recommend over the other options. You’ll find all of these on the left side of your Dashboard.

  • Under Settings – Writing Settings – Update Services: copy and paste all the URLs of site update services you’ll find at this page in order to notify them of when you publish new content.
  • Under Settings – Reading: make sure that the search engine visibility isn’t checked, this should be the default setting and should always stay like this. Otherwise, you’ll be asking search engines not to index your blog which is the worst thing that can happen.
  • Under Settings – Permalinks: click on Post name so that the URLs of your posts will be easier to read and be better-suited for Search Engine Optimization.
where to click to set up wordpress to show nicer urls for SEO
  • Under Users – Profile insert your personal information. What you type here will show, by default, at the end of your posts.

7. Install The First Essential Plugins and Extensions

WordPress comes packed with a lot of options when it comes to Plugins. From security, SEO, and speed optimization to social sharing, sign up forms and Backup of your precious files, there is a plugin for practically anything you need.

Although you’ll never need most of them I will suggest you the essential ones for your blog.

WordPress comes with a few plugins already installed that you really don’t need. So, I recommend you to start fresh by going in your Dashboard under PluginsInstalled Plugins. On this page select the box next to all the plugins and use the drop down to delete them all.

Now, If you go in your Dashboard under Plugins – Add New you’ll be able to add a complete set of functionalities and extensions to your blog. To do this just search for a keyword, click Install Now, and then Activate.

Yoast-SEO: This one adds a complete set of options that will help you optimize your content for search engine results. Practically any blogger that uses WordPress has this one installed and for good reasons.

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights: To connect your Blog to your Google Analytics account.

Hummingbird: The speed at which your site loads, apart from being one of Google’s ranking factor, is something that will improve the overall user experience. If your site is slow people will just bounce off. In all my tests this is the plugin that gave me the best results as for loading times. This is how Google’s PageSpeed insights rates my blog, which is not bad at all.

shows how the score of pagespeed insights improved with the plugin

Askimet Anti-Spam: Spam comments are really a plague for bloggers. Even new blogs can be flooded with all sorts of garbage comments from people looking to post links on your blogs. Askimet filters all of them out for your review.

Pretty Links: This is great if you plan to make money from your blog with affiliate marketing and by promoting your affiliate links. It allows to keep all your links in one place and to follow Google’s guidelines by marking these links as “no follow”.

Social-Warfare: This one adds social buttons and lets you define how you want your content to be shared on Pinterest, Facebook, and the other most popular social networks.

Amazon Affiliate Link Globalizer: Assuming you’d want to promote some amazon products this plugin will make sure that your visitors are redirected to the correct Amazon store depending on the country they are from.

Another great plugin to install is Grammarly. This is one is a free Chrome extension that instantly scans your text for grammar mistakes while you type. You can install it by going to this page of the Chrome Web Store.

8. Start Blogging

This is where the fun begins: start adding content and capitalize on your efforts. I’ll show you how in the next blog posts. Join the newsletter and follow me to stay updated.

Are you ready for what’s coming next? Ok, then write your first post.

Tip: I know that you might be very tempted to spend a lot of time customizing the looks of your blog. However, I advise you to always start from the content to allow the search engines to crawl and correctly index your website. This is the first thing you should do.

You’ll have plenty of time to tweak your theme, change your logo and add a lot of pictures later.

So, focus on titles and descriptions, write a nice, long post and let the world know of your presence by adding your site to the search engines. To start, use:

Before submitting your site check your WordPress dashboard and make sure to delete the unnecessary Posts, Portfolio Items, and Pages that are unrelated to your blog. If you don’t do this all this “garbage” content is going to be indexed in search results.

9. Drive Traffic To Your Blog

Now that you have started publishing your content you’ll be eager to have people flocking to your blog.

You probably know already that blogs rely mostly on search engines for visibility. Now, what you really need to learn is how to optimize your content to get those same search engines to trust you.

Driving traffic to your blog is a huge topic to cover. However, I’ll tell you what the most important things are so that you can start with the right foot.

  • Write long-form articles. The top results in Google are long, well written and very helpful posts. So, you are not going to get away with anything less, especially since you are new.
  • Write for people and not for yourself. Try to directly answer the questions that people are researching on google. Remember that the site is for your readers. A post on the “10 ways that blogging is going to improve your life” is going to do much better than “Why I think blogging is cool”. In fact, the latter will probably never be found.
  • Make sure to set titles and meta descriptions for your content. The Yoast-SEO plugin will help you do this but remember to always write a description for your images as well.
  • Stick with it. The majority of new blogs fail within the first year because people quit too early. It’s perfectly normal not to see a lot of traffic for the first few months. Your spike in traffic could just be around the corner. So, keep publishing great content and be patient (I know it’s hard but that’s what every successful blogger goes through when starting out)

If you have any question (whatsoever), let me know in the comments. I’m always looking to make my content as useful as it can be. So, if you feel I have missed something just let me know.

How to Start a Successful Blog (2019)
ABOUT

Silas

My name is Silas and I'm an Italian civil engineer with a passion for online marketing. I even got a university degree on the subject, just for the sake of it. Through my wins and failures, I gained valuable info that will help you succeed at blogging. Stay tuned. Leave a comment below and share this post if you liked it.

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