Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links, but please note that I’d never put something on here that I wouldn’t highly recommend.

Over the years, I’ve created various blogs and have learned that when bloggers start a blog, there are certain steps to take in a certain order. And, more often than not, most bloggers do them completely out of order. Heck, I’ve done things out of order. In fact, most bloggers do this because they are new to the game. But have no fear, I’ll walk you step by step through the system I’ve used to start a blog and hit the ground running.

1 | Develop Your Idea

Begin sketching out your concept for your blog. I recommend you check out this article to help you narrow your niche. You might think your niche is narrowed and your idea is rock solid, but this activity could help hash out some ideas & make your blog uniquely you so that you shine out amongst the bunch!

2 | Draft 2-3 posts

Start drafting up 2-3 posts. Why? To get used to writing on this topic. How passionate are you about it? How much content can you provide? You’d hate to spend a ton of time setting up a website, only to find you don’t have as much to say about it as you had thought! Plus, it also helps that right when you click “Publish” you already have a few posts ready and lined up to go.

I recommend that you make these what are called “pillar posts.” These are posts that you want your blog to be known for. This article that you are reading, for example, is one of my pillar posts, since my goal is to help people launch and run their blog. This article has some fantastic ideas for pillar content, but some possible ideas are lists, tutorials, and a roundup of resources. Your pillar posts should take some time to draft because you are putting your all into them.

Need help setting up your blog post? I highly recommend my Free Blog Post Planning Guide. It includes a sample outline to follow that can help you get started. Just fill in your info below and I’ll email it to you:

Blog Post Planning Guide

Get access to printables that help walk you through my system for consistently creating and promoting blog content.

3 | Come Up with Domain Ideas

Next you’ll come up with your domain name. I highly recommend this tutorial from the How to Make Money Blog to help you with creating a catchy domain name. Come up with a few ideas–you’ll be checking for their availability in the next step. But don’t purchase one just yet; if you follow my tutorial in the hosting setup in the next step, you’ll get info on how to get a free domain.

 4 | Get Hosting

Next it’s time to get set up with hosting. Basically this is the website that will “house” your website & is how you get your website published on the internet. I have a step-by-step tutorial to walk you through this here.

Setting Up a Blog

5 | Set up Email

Setting up your email isn’t completely necessary right off the bat, but in my opinion, it’s much easier to do at this stage in the process because (a) you are already logged into your hosting account and (b) I recommend setting up your mailing list before your blog launches and you’ll need a business email for that. I was able to get an email address with my domain name through my hosting provider, so you might want to check out that option for a professional-looking email address.

6 | Determine Color Scheme and Fonts

I highly recommend that you narrow down a color scheme and fonts (I walk you step by step through creating a color palette here). One of my favorite branding guides is by Elle & Company–that post includes a number of useful links, from designing a logo to selecting fonts. She has a fantastic article on selecting a color scheme for your website. I initially thought I had all the answers–I picked my favorite bold-colored fonts and initially ignored her warning to have some lighter tones. I soon realized my website looked incredibly harsh! It needed some softer tones mixed in here and there. Aim to have roughly 5-6 colors (selecting 2 dominant colors) and 3 fonts.

FREE Step-by-Step Blog Launch Checklist

If you are starting or re-launching a blog, chances are you might be a little overwhelmed with the process. In this Blog Launch Checklist, I break down everything that you need to do to get your blog running.

7 | Install Theme

Next is the fun part, installing the theme!!! When I taught my college classes, this was the part that students loved the most. But it was also the part that they got stuck on the most because they kept searching for the perfect theme that met all of their unique criteria.

My recommendation is to use the Divi Theme (this tutorial walks you step by step through using it). It allows you to customize exactly how you want your blog to look (and, to be honest, your tastes for a site will change and this theme rolls with those punches!). I also find that this theme is incredibly user-friendly.

8 | Create an About Page

This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how you can help your reader. I’ve given you suggestions on what to include in an about page and you can also check out my step by step tutorial to help you set up an amazing-looking about page.

9 | Create Menu and Any Categories/Pages to Go on Menu

At this point, it’s time to start crafting your menu. The menu appears at the top of your website and features the major links the reader can visit:

How to Start a Blog

As you consider your menu items, remember to not go completely overboard. You don’t want a menu that bleeds over into two lines. Take some time to think about the primary places you want your reader to go. Here are some ideas:

  • About page (I highly recommend this)
  • Blog (this links them to all of your blog posts)
  • Services
  • Recommendations (especially helpful if you are using affiliate links)
  • Popular topics on your blog (this could link the reader to a category focused entirely on one topic)

10 | Design Logo & Favicon

Now you get to put together your logo and favicon! Take into account the colors and fonts you decided on in Step 6. You can always hire someone to design your logo (I like using websites such as Upwork.com). Elle & Company has a fantastic tutorial to walk you through the Do’s and Don’ts of logo design.

The logo also comes in handy as you design your favicon. The favicon is the small box that appears in the tab that your website is in, as shown here:

How to create a favicon

Here’s a tutorial on setting up your favicon.

11 | Design Homepage

54% of your site visitors consider the overall design important for them sticking around (Adobe State of Content). So isn’t it completely worth it to make a great impression? That’s where a fantastic homepage comes in.

54% of your site visitors consider the overall design important to a blog Click To Tweet

Your homepage doesn’t need to be complicated. You’ll see that mine is relatively simple. Here are some options to consider in your homepage:

  • Photo of you or your logo
  • Place to opt into something free (a great way to collect emails so that you can continue the relationship with your readers. This is what I use for my homepage)
  • Link to your blog
  • A variety of places a reader can go based on what they need (I organized this by content, but I’ve seen some wonderful examples of bloggers organizing it based on the key topics or problems their reader needs help with).About page

12 | Create Image Templates

You can save yourself a tremendous amount of time by creating image templates for your various social media posts. My favorite tool for creating images is Canva. Canva has templates for different social media sizes (in other words, you don’t have to go hunt down the dimensions for a Pinterest graphic!). You can also copy images in Canva & all of your designs are saved.

Here are the main image templates I recommend creating:

  • Featured image graphic (this appears at the top of your post. Also, when you share your post on social media, this is the image that is used). My theme has particular dimensions for a featured image, but you could also just do a square image.
  • Pinterest graphic: Longer graphics seem to work best on Pinterest because they catch the reader’s eye
  • Square graphics: Within my blog posts I like to have various square graphics that are easy for me to share on Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Once you create a template, then you only need to tweak a few things each time you post. Below is an excellent example. I have my featured graphic for an article. In Canva, I was able to copy the graphic and then all I needed to do was tweak a few elements (what was on the text, color, etc). It took just a few minutes, rather than me having to create a completely new graphic each time.

Be sure that your templates reflect your brand colors and font style.

13 | Create 2-3 Signup Incentives

Next, think of 2-3 pieces of value that you can offer for free to your readers in exchange for their email. This would obviously be tied to the main concept of your website.

For example, my website is focused on helping new bloggers, so I have a Blog Launch Checklist for my followers to get for free. I also have a Free Blog Post Planning guide to help new and continuing bloggers develop a system for creating and promoting content.

Here are some pieces of content you could provide:

  • Checklists
  • Video tutorials
  • Free webinar
  • Printable
  • Email course

You’ll create a few and begin to see which one performs better. I recommend you create a new initiative once every 1-2 weeks so that you can keep testing and tweaking to see what content your audience likes the most.

Keep creating & testing new opt-in freebies until you find what works Click To Tweet

14 | Set Up Sidebar

The sidebar is the column that appears on the side of your website. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

You don’t have to have a sidebar (some like the clutter-free look), but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to get the reader to check out more resources that you may have for them. Here are some items to include in the Sidebar:

  • Social Media Icons
  • Search Bar
  • Photo of you and brief blurb (with link to your about page)
  • Links to most popular posts or most recent content (photos help)
  • Photo of your free incentives that links to landing pages

I creak down each of this in my step-by-step guide to setting up a sidebar.

15 | Set up Mailing List

THIS STEP is what so many bloggers miss doing immediately. It makes me so incredibly sad because they miss out on building relationships with their early followers. You want to give readers an opportunity to connect with you so that you can continue to deliver great content to them!!

How to Start a Blog

I personally recommend ConvertKit because it allows you to create multiple download incentives for your audience (I find you have to test a few download incentives to see which ones work the best!). You can also create segments for your followers (for example, tag subscribers based on what topics they indicate they are interested or what they have downloaded from you). I also love that ConvertKit allows me to send automated messages to my followers. Whenever someone subscribes to my mailing list, they are subscribed to an email series where I send them some value-rich resources & content.

16 | Set Up Plugins

I like to think of plugins like apps on a phone. Every iPhone starts the same, but people can customize what an iPhone holds by downloading apps. This is how blogs work: you can add various plugins to include certain elements on your website. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Yoast SEO: I have asked many bloggers what their favorite plugin is, and this one always wins. Yoast will read your posts and give you suggestions on how to tweak it to optimize it for SEO (basically it helps your blog post appear higher in search results)
  • Pretty Link: This allows you to shorten website links without going to a website like bit.ly. Instead, the shortened link includes your blog url. This comes in handy when I’m posting to Instagram.
  • Ultimate Social Media Icons: This creates social media icons (Facebook, Instagram, etc) so that my readers can easily connect with me in those places
  • Google Analytics: These analytics are key for your business, and I recommend installing them ASAP so that you can monitor the amazing growth you’ll experience over time with your website.
  • ConvertKit: This plugin allows you to easily add ConvertKit forms to your website (the mailing list service that I highly recommend).

I cover each of these in more detail (with screenshots) in this article about plugins.

17 | Create Landing Pages for Each Incentive

A landing page is essentially a place where your reader can go to learn about the free item you are providing and to allow them to enter their email. I link to my landing page on my Instagram Account, Facebook page, my sidebar, and any point where I’m referencing that particular freebie.

I use the Divi theme to help me create a professional-looking landing page. However, to be honest, I keep mine simple in these early stages. Just a quick 1-2 sentences is just fine. As you begin to figure out what content your audience likes and have a winning freebie to offer them, then at that point you can add more to the page such as testimonials, more screenshots, etc. But our goal right now is to simply get something up there. You can see an example of a simple landing page here.

18 | Publish First Blog Post

Now it’s time to finally publish your first blog post! You’ve already created your drafts–so not let’s polish it up and get it ready to rock and roll!

Do you want a printable checklist for these steps? Fill in your info below and I’ll send one your way!

FREE Step-by-Step Blog Launch Checklist

If you are starting or re-launching a blog, chances are you might be a little overwhelmed with the process. In this Blog Launch Checklist, I break down everything that you need to do to get your blog running.