Starting a Personal Blog in 2020: The Beginner's Guide
It's 2020 and there are over 2 million blog posts written over the course of a single day.
The message here?
If you've decided to start your own personal blog, or you want to revive a blog or website for your business that hasn't been touched in years, you're going to have some legitimate competition.
However, this certainly shouldn't discourage you if you have something that you'd like to be able to say to the blogosphere!
Blogging isn't just fun — it can also be an excellent way to help you build your business and personal brands.
Plus, it can become a surprisingly lucrative career if you stick with it and put in the work required.
But if you're new to the world of blogging, you likely have lots of fundamental questions about how to get started in the first place.
That's what this post is all about.
- 1 Starting a Personal Blog in 2020: The Beginner's Guide
- 1.1 1. Find Your Niche
- 1.2 2. Create a Content Calendar
- 1.3 3. Consider Your Blogging Platform
- 1.4 4. Start Your SEO Research
- 1.5 5. Connect With Other Bloggers
- 1.6 Ready to Start your Personal Blog?
Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about blogging for beginners.
1. Find Your Niche
Step 1 to starting your personal blog is to find your niche.
When you first set out to create your personal blog, you have big dreams.
You want to gain a million followers in a week. You want to be interviewed by your favorite magazines. You want endorsement deals, free products, and the glamorous lifestyle and exclusive invitations that you've seen some of the biggest names in the blogosphere getting.
Unfortunately, it's time to come back down to Earth.
We're not saying that it's not going to happen for you.
Instead, all we're saying is that it's going to take time to build the following you want.
It's also going to take specificity.
Think about what you're the most passionate and informed about in life.
Maybe you're obsessed with all things fashion. Perhaps you want to start a business blog about digital marketing in general. Or maybe you want to do product reviews.
This still isn't specific enough.
When you think fashion, do you mean vintage fashion? High-end couture? Children's fashion? Street style? Or are you interested in the production of clothes themselves?
What does your average reader look like? Where do they live? What sort of style do they have? Who are their favorite designers? How much money do they have to spend on clothing?
For example, maybe your target audience is single females living in New York City who are interested in secondhand fashion, and who have a monthly budget of about $150 to spend on their clothing.
Blogging 101 is all about getting as specific as possible, and writing with a tiny subsection of a market — AKA, your niche — in mind.
This is how you'll be able to build a smaller but loyal, dedicated following.
Then, as your follower count grows, you can expand your personal blog from there.
For a complete step by step guide to finding your niche, please check out the following guide:
How to Find Your Niche: Your Step-By-Step Guide
2. Create a Content Calendar
Step 2 of how to start your personal blog is how to find your personal blog ideas?
When you write your first blog post, we know that you're full of ideas.
You want to give advice, upload tons of photos, introduce yourself, tell your readers what you care about, and more.
In short, you have no problem not only coming up with topic ideas for your personal blog, but you also have plenty of energy, time, and momentum to keep on writing these posts.
That's an awesome feeling.
However, it's one that's not going to last forever.
The reality is that, when it comes to your personal blog, life sometimes gets in the way.
You want to be able to keep a consistent posting schedule and make a commitment to your readers to upload at least three new posts a week.
However, you need to prepare for the eventual reality that sometimes, you're just not going to have those bright ideas — or even feel like writing at all.
This is where creating a content and posting schedule comes into play.
Dedicate a weekend out of each month to coming up with a list of blog topics. Also, take a few pictures that you can space out throughout the month on your blog and social media platforms.
You should even start writing as many of these posts as you can.
Remember, the further ahead you're able to get on your posting schedule, the more likely you'll remain consistent.
When you write that first blog post, don't give away all your secrets just yet.
Entice your readers to keep coming back for more by teasing them with what your next post will be all about.
This will keep you from getting too stressed out by the sometimes tough process of running a personal blog.
For a complete guide on creating a content marketing strategy, please check out:
How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide
3. Consider Your Blogging Platform
Step 3 of how to start my own blog is to consider which blogging platform you will use.
So, you know what the target reader of your personal blog looks like, and you even have an awesome idea for a first blog post.
The only problem?
You don't actually have a blog set up at all.
This is where choosing the right blogging platform comes into play. In a nutshell, this means that you'll need to decide which kind of website will host your website.
Most people choose WordPress because it serves as kind of a blogging platform for beginners and is incredibly easy and intuitive.
WordPress is an open-sourced blogging platform designed to be lightweight and lean, and user-friendly those who are less technical, and even better for those who are.
WordPress allows you to select from a variety of plugins.
Plugins are ways to add and extend to the functionality that already exists in WordPress, and also offer custom functions and features, so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.
An example of a common plugin used on blogs are plugins that provide analytics and data. These plugins will help you with reader analytics so you can determine your most popular content, where your readers are coming from, and a whole lot more. These plugins will also help you with things like your SEO strategy (more on that in a moment.)
When you're choosing a blogging platform, make sure that you limit the number of plugins you use. Too many of them will slow down your blog's loading time and overall speed — a surefire way to lose readers!
Your Layout and Theme
When you're starting your personal blog and selecting your platform, you also need to select the right theme.
This “theme” is a fancy way of referring to your bog's general layout. It includes where past posts are linked to in the sidebar, how they're organized, the general color scheme, and other design options.
You can choose a completely customized option, but especially if you're a beginner, you might want to go with an easier to understand, pre-made option.
Remember, your theme is an extension and expression of your blog. So, make sure that, while you certainly take ease of navigation into account, your selection makes sense with the overall topic at hand!
For a complete rundown of what we believe are the best blogging platforms, check out:
Guide To Choosing Your Blogging Platform
4. Start Your SEO Research
Step 4 of how to start a personal blog is to start your SEO research now!
Far and away, the most important part of your personal blog (at least, when it comes to increasing your clout online and growing your following) is your general SEO strategy.
SEO is short for “search engine optimization.”
In a nutshell, it's all the tiny things you do — from picking the right keywords to ensuring that your blog is mobile-friendly — to make your blog end up as close to the first page of Google search engine results as is possible.
There are quite a few steps to nailing your general SEO strategy, so we'll only cover the most basic ones in this guide.
Choose the Right Keywords
When you're in the process of understanding SEO, one of the first things you'll be able to master is choosing the right keywords.
Keywords are what people type into search engines, like Google, when they're looking for your blog, a product, or a service. These search terms are often short phrases, like “best shoe store Manhattan” or “same-day delivery florist near me.”
When you're selecting the right keywords, it's a lot easier if you use a free keyword finder tool like this one.
Also, make sure that you don't oversaturate your content with keywords.
Not only is this incredibly obvious and boring to your readers, but it also might get you penalized by Google.
Learn more about choosing the right keywords for your blog with our Keyword Research Guide:
Beginner SEO Guide: How to Do Keyword Research
Make it Mobile-Friendly
How do I make my blog mobile friendly?
Since Google and other search engines have recently adopted a mobile-first indexing strategy, it's vital that your blog both loads quickly and is easy to read on mobile devices.
Always test your blog on your own phone to be sure.
If you're not happy with the overall loading time and look, there are a few things you can do to improve.
First of all, get rid of any extra plugins, as we mentioned above.
Then, eliminate large image files and autoplay features — including pop-up ads. You should also keep your actual web address as short and sweet as possible.
Finally, make sure that your buttons are large enough for people to click with their fingers (yes, sometimes SEO really is that simple.)
Try Internal and External Linking
Finally, make sure that you include links to other sources/blogs/journals (external linking) and your own past blog posts (internal linking) in your content.
Above all, do your best to keep this content relevant and as up-to-date as possible.
For example, if you're writing a blog post about the best sales techniques, you might link to a past blog post you wrote about the ten best questions to ask to get to know a prospect.
In terms of an external link, a good option might be a statistic about the average number of pitches it takes to turn a lead into a client.
To learn in more detail about SEO, please take a look at our guide that dives deeper into What is SEO:
What is SEO?
5. Connect With Other Bloggers
Step 5 on how to run a personal blog is to always be sure to connect with other bloggers.
Once you've selected your blogging platform, set up your blog and started blogging, it's time to connect with other people in the blogosphere.
Following them — and linking to their relevant posts on your own blog — will help you to dramatically increase your own following.
But don't just randomly add bloggers to your follow list and walk away.
If you really want to become an expert voice in your industry, then you need to get active when it comes to commenting on other favorite blogs. Not only will this help you to make connections with readers, who will likely enjoy your blog (since they're reading one on a similar topic), it also strengthens your connections with bigger names, so that you can approach them about doing a guest post or linking to your blog in one of their own posts in the future.
Make sure that you include a link to your blog in your comment signature.
This way, readers who will likely want to follow you will be able to find you faster than ever.
Additionally, these clicks help to increase your blog's traffic in general — meaning that you'll rise in the search engine rankings.
In addition to connecting with other bloggers in the comments section, you can also write your own guest posts for more significant, industry-specific sites.
Think about the websites you read every day when you need niche information relating to the topic of your blog.
Can you pitch your own post to them?
Doing so won't just increase your readership. It will also make you one of the authoritative voices within your niche that other bloggers look up to.
Ready to Start your Personal Blog?
We hope that you've found this blogging for beginners guide a helpful start when it comes to creating your own personal blog.
Remember, it's all about taking the time to define your niche market, making a commitment to your content calendar, and getting in touch with other bloggers.
You also need to take the time to brush up on your general digital marketing and SEO skills — something a qualified Chicago SEO company can certainly help you with.
When you're ready to learn even more about how to take your blog to the next level and continue to grow your readership?
Be sure to check back here for more tips and tricks on how to strengthen your brand, make more money blogging, and create more engaging and exciting content.
We can't wait to see where your blog takes you next!
If you haven't read the first post in this series, don't forget to check out:
How to Start a Blog 101
If you are caught up with the first two blogs in the How to Start a Blog series, then let's move to the next:
How to Write an Eye-Catching About Me Page on Your Website or Blog