A (Realistic) Guide on How to Start a Blog in 2021

Jan 15, 2021

So you're finally ready to start that blog, huh? Congratulations! The start of a year is the perfect time to work on such an exciting project. There might be some skepticism on whether a blog is worth the commitment in 2021 - are they a thing of the past? NOPE. Blogs are consistently relevant and plenty of bloggers make a living off their sites.

If you're interested in starting a blog or need some refresher tips for your existing blog, you're in the right place!

I'm going to break this detailed post down into three sections: Pre-launch, Launch, and Post-Launch. I'll help you through every major step you need to take from brainstorming to creation to maintenance.

Everything mentioned below is 100% based on my experience as a blogger of 13+ years... yeah lol. Any LiveJournal/Xanga alumni here?

Disclaimer: This is a no-BS blogging 101 guide. We're getting you started here. Blogging requires several courses to cover everything but this is a solid starting place.

[Click here to see my companion YouTube video on How to Start a Blog in 2021!]

how to start a blog in 2021 full reference guide
PART I: PRE-LAUNCH
Identify your "why"
What does it mean to identify your "why"? First, ask yourself this simple question: Why am I creating this blog? Write your answer down. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! It's critical to ground your "why" because it brings purpose to your blog. A blog with no purpose is not a blog worth venturing.

Your "why" will also help with future maintenance. Every blogger falls into a rut of not knowing what else to write about. Coming back to your "why" during those times will remind you of your purpose.

Example of a "why": I am creating a blog to inspire my audience with my passion and knowledge of home decor.

Identify your niche
After your "why" comes your niche. Niche is defined as "a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service". In terms of what we're talking about here, it's a very specific breakdown of your "why". Ask yourself these simple questions: What do I want to provide to my audience? What am I trying to achieve? What results do I want? Again, jot down your answers and do not skip. Your niche will be the quintessential guideline for all posts you create.

Tip: If you're having trouble identifying your niche, start with a general topic (i.e. lifestyle, food, fashion) and breakdown what specific subtopics you're most interested in the given topic.

Example of a niche: Sustainable, ethical, vegan-friendly home decor recommendations. (See the progression of "why" to "niche"?)

Build your social media presence
You need to let people know you have a blog, right? This is where social media platforms come in handy for self-promotion. In order to do this you need to build an audience on another platform. You can use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter... anywhere you like! You can use one platform or many. Of course, the more platforms you use the more visibility you'll gain. But don't stretch yourself out, that's unrealistic to maintain.

Your social media audience should be built well before launching your blog. So if you haven't started yet, do that now and come back to this post in a few months when your audience has grown a bit. If you need specific tips on specific platforms, let me know in the comments!
PART II: LAUNCH
Select your platform
It's time to create your blog! To start, you need to select a platform to sign up on. I personally use Blogger, but here's a list of the best platforms:

WordPress.org (the overall best platform)
Wix (very user-friendly)
Blogger (my personal choice)
Squarespace (gorgeous design options)
WordPress.com (completely free version)
Tumblr (the social-media blog)

Decide whether you'll self-host (you should)
You should. It's a must if you plan to be a serious blogger.

This part is where you will need to make investments but it will pay off if you're serious about the work! What will you pay for?

1) a domain (i.e. piesnprose.com instead of piesnprose.blogger.com)
2) a subscription to a hosting service

Domain prices vary, but I personally pay $100 a year for my domain. That's $0.27 a day if you think about it!

Hosting services get a little pricier. But what's a hosting service? It's essentially the "home hub" of your blog. It holds your posts, files, everything. It also provides tools to organize and control your blog efficiently. Customer support is included. So you're paying for a service that will work like a powerhouse for your blog.

Here's a list of the best hosting services:
Bluehost ($) (click here for a discount!)
GoDaddy ($$)

Design!
My personal favorite!!! I love designing a fresh new blog. I could go on and on about it. And I've made plenty of mistakes over the years.

You've probably noticed that successful blogs are consistent and clean and laid out in a purposeful way. Take a look at your favorite blog, for example. See what grabs the eye as soon as you land on the page. Everything you see is purposeful and inviting.

Now if you're anything like me, the endless options of themes! Colors! Fonts! Can be exciting but also overwhelming. Come into this section with an idea already in mind.

Prepare: color palettes, fonts, layout, headers, branding, logos etc.
 
Disclaimer: You do not need to know code! You can purchase a template (depending on the platform). Purchased templates always provide a thorough guide on how to install them. I know this is another cost, but I paid $20 for my theme, I supported a small business, and it's gorgeous... it'll last me several years.
PART III: POST-LAUNCH
Do. Not. Forget. Your. Voice.
Your voice? We love it. We're here for it. And honestly, people won't stick around to read a generic, boring blog post. In 2021, competition is intense as blogging has been around for a long time. Make sure your voice and personality ring throughout your work.

NO, you don't need to have a peppy, full of joy, blissful personality. But your authenticity is what will connect with people. Seriously. Ya'll know you love Daria.

Making mistakes? You're doing it right.
There is not ONE person in this world who started with a perfect blog. No one. Fight me on it. Mistakes will happen and that is okay. Mistakes need to happen, really.

This entire blog post comes from 13+ years of mistakes. You need to make the mistakes in order to learn from them. Take note and move forward. The fear of being perfect will stop you from getting started and there's nothing more detrimental to a blog's success than not starting it at all.

Take my word for it. I started Pies n' Prose in 2017 and only started making real money from it in 2020. Some of my posts still have less than 100 views. I'm not perfect but it's not stopping me.

You're ready.

It's time to get going! You're about to become an official blogger, yay! I'm so excited for you. Feel free to leave your thoughts, blog links, or your own personal experience in the comments. Wishing you the best of luck. Don't forget to watch my companion YouTube video on How to Start a Blog in 2021 for a full experience.



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