Many people wonder how to start a blog, and feel it is a mystery that only those with great knowledge and deep pockets can reveal. That’s just not true.

First, let’s talk about what a blog is, exactly. It used to be that you would start a blog to write about your passion – be it food, travel, checkers, gaming, or whatever it is you do or read about in your free time.

Now, a blog is the lifeline of your communication. New blog content tells the search engines that your website is updated and fresh, it provides a link-back opportunity for email newsletter campaigns, serves timely content to blog subscribers, sends new content to social media, provides link-back opportunities on forums, and, basically, gives people one more reason to come back to your website.

If you do it right, it is the most affordable, easiest, marketing powerhouse in your arsenal.

Now I’m going to show you how to start a blog.

Why NOT Start A Blog?

When I asked friends on Facebook, here are the responses I got:

“Time, money and knowledge”. I’m about to wipe those excuses out for you.

How to Start a Blog

As a business owner for years, I have learned how to prioritize spending, getting the most “bang” for my buck. I’ve built commercial, non-profit, recreational, and personal web sites, and just can’t seem to get away from it. Now it’s time to give back. Here, I’m going to give you my best stuff –

Get Blogging In 10 Steps

What results do you want: sales, subscribers, affiliate link usage, etc.?
If you don’t already have a website at all, brainstorm 20-30 keyword ideas then research your ideas on Google AdWords to identify your top 10, in order of importance.Identify your #1 main keyword. Set up a account and use their Keyword Planner to find something that has a lot of traffic and medium to low competition. To find the Keywords Tool, then click on “Keyword Planner.” The goal is to select a “focus keyword” that you can also use as your “username.” That focus keyword phrase should make it obvious to the reader what they will find on your site. The focus keyword and username is what you will use throughout your marketing, so put plenty of consideration into the process. Related article: What Is A Keyword Phrase And How Do I Get One?.
Your domain name should be 15 characters or less and use your focus keyword. You can buy one, but you do not need to purchase a domain name if you use a free blog service and are willing to have a sub-directory domain name from the provider.
Set up your website on a hosting service. We use SiteGround for many reasons, but mainly because it is very WordPress friendly and the service is the best we’ve found. If you want a WordPress website, make very sure that the host is WordPress /PHP friendly. Again, if you use a free blogging service, they will host it for free.
Select a template for your website / blog. Free templates are simple and easy to use, but usually not as versatile and pretty as premium templates. If you purchase a template, installation is very easy; there is an “upload template” option in the area where you select templates.
They are free and a robust set of website tracking tools. It is likely much more than you’ll track, but they do the basics very well, such as data showing website traffic and the source from where your visitors came. Integrating Google Webmaster Tools also helps with optimizing your site for search-ability.
(Optional) You can optimize your website and/or each blog post with affiliate links. Be sure that you include notices letting your visitors know that affiliate links are on the page.
Create and Work Your Marketing System: use social media, email marketing, live marketing, print marketing, pay per click, and other methods to drive traffic to your blog.
Plan for ongoing content creation. This is where your blog comes in. Create a schedule and stick to the schedule. I started an Editorial Calendar that lists the topics for the next 52 weeks. This helps me as I sit down to write blog posts I’ve scheduled; if you are like me and have a tough time sitting down and writing, it is a huge help to at least have the topic you’ll be writing about all ready to go.
Include links and lead capture tools to meet the goals you originally set. Be sure to continually MEASURE those results and make adjustments as needed.

Limited Funds? Need A Free Marketing Boost?

As an entrepreneur, I share your desire to do a lot with limited resources, and this is an area with which I have a great deal of experience.

Please note that blog and website building services vary widely, and there are many advantages to actually paying for website hosting and domain name (as opposed to using a free blog or website service).

Another very inexpensive cost is if you want to buy a domain name (ex. www.yoursite.com), which is much less expensive than paying for website hosting, then can have your domain name point to your website. This is usually very simple to do, and most web hosts, and even free blogging services, sell domain names for a very low fee.

But, let’s face it, when we’re starting out, it’s really nice to have it all for free – just to get things rolling.

There are many free blogging resources, including WordPress.com, Tumblr, and Wix.

However, it really isn’t that expensive to build your own, custom, modern website. As much as I hate to part with money, I always opt for a self-hosted WordPress website.

Here are approximate numbers based on what we pay for a brand, new website:

Estimate Costs of A New Custom Website

Domain Name:   $8.00 – $23.00 for the first year with (bill annually / NameCheap is who we use)

Web Hosing: $80-200 for the first year with SiteGround (bill annually)

Premium Template: $50-60 from Themeforest (one time)

Optional: Stock Images and Videos – I subscribe to iStock for $40 / month and get a lot of free to use images from other sites

Optional: Get a PowerSite for $975 – one time cost and you own the content!

Affiliate links are used on this page. We only link to companies we highly recommend, and appreciate we can make a few bucks when you decide you love them too.

Featured image by Hillary, used under Creative Commons 2.0