How to Start a Blog: 5 Simple Steps for Freelance Writers

Jackie Pearce

Want to learn how to start a blog?

Although blogs have been around for years, it’s never too late to start one and to begin publishing your writing online.

The fun part…when you learn how to start a blog, you can truly used for anything.

Whether you want to start a business, document a travel journey, practice your writing chops, or anything in between, a blog can give you a platform to do it all.

If you’re looking to learn how to start a blog, you’re going to want to read through this post.

We’re going to give you the first steps to decide what to write about and then get your blog up and running.

1. Decide on a purpose for your blog

When you set out to learn how to start a blog, you might think you should run out and scoop up a domain name.

Stop right there. Before you buy a domain and set up your site, you need to decide why you’re starting a blog in the first place.

Depending on what you want to do with it, it will change how you need to approach it from the beginning. For example:

The side hustle

If you’re approaching a blog with the intent of turning it into a side hustle or business, you’ll need to take things like keyword research and posting schedules far more seriously than if you want to blog for the purpose of practicing your writing or expressing your thoughts.

The niche builder

You’ll want to pick some kind of niche for your blog to fall under if you’re planning to make money from it.

Whether you choose to talk about travel, finances, writing, sports, or whatever you choose, keeping it focused and on topic will help draw in readers.

The freelance-writing lab

Ideally, you’ll get even more specific with your niche so you have a targeted audience to write for. However, if you’re still figuring it out, feel free to give yourself room to test some ideas.

TIP: Keep in mind, as with most of these steps, you can change your mind at any point in time.

If your blog starts as a hobby and you want to turn it into a side hustle, you can do that at any time. You can also change your niche as needed, too. What you initially decide is not set in stone, so don’t put too much pressure on it.

2. Decide what you want to say

Before you go and buy a domain or hosting, you’ll want to outline what you want to say in your blog.

❌ A common mistake writers make when they’re learning how to start a blog is to buy a domain, set up a fancy website, publish a handful of blogs, then quickly run out of ideas.

✅ In order to avoid this mistake, you’ll want to brainstorm topics ahead of time.

If you want to take your blog seriously, you might even invest in a keyword tool or use something such as Google’s Keyword Planner. That way, you can get an idea of what people are searching for in your chosen niche.

TIP: Ideally, you’ll want to map out between 20 and 50 blog post ideas or topics you can write. Depending on how often you publish, that can at least get you a few months to a year’s worth of posts.

You will more than likely come up with new ideas as you write and read other blogs in your niche, but you want to avoid the dreaded “I don’t know what to write about!” feeling.

3. Decide where you’ll set up your blog

While this article won’t get too deep into the technical side of how to start a blog and set it up, we’ll give you an overview of your next steps.

First, you’ll need a domain.

This is where people go to find your blog, such as this site: makealivingwriting.com.

Depending on where you want to set up your site, you might be able to get a free domain if you buy hosting. Otherwise, you might want to use a platform like Godaddy or Namecheap to buy your domain.

Although there are endless platforms to host a blog, we’ll cover some of the most popular ones.

WordPress (both the .com and .org versions)

WordPress is often hailed as the king of online blogging. Most big blogs are on there and it’s one of the top go-to options. There are two different versions of wordpress, the .com and the .org versions.

The .com version is for people who are just dipping their toes into blogging. You can set up a free site or buy a domain (plus hosting), but you’ll still be under a lot of design and advertising restrictions since it is hosted on their platform.

The .org version is for people who have a little more technical chops and are willing to fully commit to owning and operating a blog. You’ll have to buy a domain and a hosting platform elsewhere and then install the .org version into your site. That might sound complicated, but it can be easy if you find a good tutorial.

TIP: For the most part, both options have templates (free and paid) from around the web you can use.

Squarespace

If you do not have a lot of technical knowledge, Squarespace makes setting up a site easy. They have a ton of drag-and-drop options and make setting up a site, along with customizing it, easier than some of the other options out there.

TIP: Squarespace makes it easy to set up a portfolio, Hire Me page, or anything else you might need to accompany your blog.

Wix

While not as popular as the other two, Wix is still a good option for people who just want to dip their toes into blogging. It’s user-friendly, with or without technical knowledge. You can customize the look of it and also do things like embed a store into it.

TIP: Keep in mind, although it can take some effort, you can switch hosts or platforms at any time. Don’t worry too much about picking the “best” one because it might change with time and what you need from your blog.

4. Decide how you’ll grow and market your blog

While we could write a whole book on marketing a blog, we’ll just cover some of the basic things you need to know.

For the most part, there are TWO kinds of traffic to send to your website: organic traffic and paid traffic.

Organic traffic is how people, for lack of a better term, stumble across your blog. Often, they’ll find it through a search engine while they’re looking for answers to their problems online, and one of your posts might come up as a helpful place to answer their query.

Paid traffic is exactly what it sounds like – when you pay sites to send you traffic. Typically, this is in the form of Facebook ads, Google ads, or other places where you can pay to advertise your blog.

TIP: If you don’t have an advertising budget, don’t worry about paid traffic and simply focus on organic traffic. Yes, organic traffic is harder to grow, but if you’re serious about growing your blog you’ll need to learn the basics of how it works.

There is also referral traffic, where you get sent traffic through referrals online such as links in other blogs.

If you’re just starting out, you’re mostly going to focus on organic growth or doing things such as sending your blog out to your network.

5. Decide how you’ll stick with it (when it gets old)

More than anything, the reason blogs don’t grow and become popular is because the writer behind the blog decides to quit writing.

The hardest part is continuing to write even though no one is reading your posts. For the most part, it can take months to get your first organic readers. For quite some time, it feels like you’re writing into the void, wondering if anyone will ever read your blog.

In this case, it’s important to reconnect with why you’re blogging in the first place or to find communities of like-minded writers so you can bond over this shared experience.

There are tons of writing communities online where you can share your blog and connect with people who are going through the same feelings.

Overall, a blog is a wonderful thing to have, no matter what you plan to do with it. You never know what might come from putting your writing out into the world and learning how to start a blog.

Do you write content for your own blog? Tell us about it in the comments.

Jackie Pearce is a freelance writer based in Colorado.

This is an updated post. We update our posts periodically to make sure they have the most relevant and useful information.

10 Comments

  1. Joseph

    This tip is really impactful and encouraging for one who wishes to start blogging.

    Reply
  2. Regina Nyandoro

    Great article with alot of insights. I have a passion of writing inspiration and motivation qoutes. Is this still classified under blogging? I engaged more actively from. Last year December. I want to turn it as monitization platform..kindly i would love your guidance on this.
    Kind regards
    Regina Nyandoro.

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      Regina — I do think there are sites that specialize in motivational quotes — see who ranks for that and look at how they monetize it, I’d say.

      Reply
  3. Katy perry

    Making a living solely via writing is difficult, especially at the start of your career. The fact of freelance writing is that it is difficult to make a living without additional sources of income.

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      Katy (if that is truly your name)… many of us begin freelance writing on the side, and then eventually go full-time. That’s definitely what I did in my first go-round at freelancing. I actually had a script-typing business in L.A., and I just gradually typed less and wrote articles more, until one day I just wrote.

      Reply
  4. Mellisa

    I have just started blogging and I was looking for such an article that will guide me, very helpful Article!! Writing is my passion and blogging will help me to show my articles to a larger audience.

    Reply
  5. Christine Knight

    Thank you for this concise beginner’s guide to blogging! I am just starting out, but I’m so passionate to share what I’ve learned through the last 10 years of my own recovery of adverse childhood experience and cPTSD trauma recovery! You’ve given me direction, thank you!

    Reply
  6. DeAnna

    I’ve been writing my WordPress travel blog since 2011. It was first named- Oh the great places you’ll go. When I started my business, DLS Communicator for Global Good, I renamed the blog to Stories for Global Good. This is my personal blog and I use it as a gathering place for my writing. I also write a variety of content for nonprofits. I use this blog to show potential clients my writing style.

    Reply
  7. Angela L. Dowdy

    THIS article is worth reading multiple times. I began my website about two years ago to focus on travel in the southeastern USA. I love the writing and photography part, but have not yet tried to monetize. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Reply
  8. Sanket Somaiya

    I was always passionate about blogging and have wanted to start my blog since I started freelancing. As a Freelance Finance Writer, I never wanted to start a blog covering any financial or business topics. Because writing the same topics for clients and the same for blogging doesn’t make sense.

    After considering all other aspects, I decided to start a blog on Substack. Now I write about religious wisdom in my blog with the tagline — Make your life better with religious wisdom, history, music & temples’ travel guide.

    What you have written is pretty much matches with many freelance writers. Many start on a solid note but disappear after a while because of running out of ideas. But, if you find an interesting topic to write about, it can last forever.

    Reply

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