How to Start a Blog – The Definitive Guide (Step by Step 2017)

Written by Umer Iftikhar
Confused about ‘How to Start a Blog‘?
Honestly speaking, do you think a piece of content with a bunch of images can do wonders?
Matter of fact is thousands of people are now starting a blog every single day to live a stress-free life and enjoy full time with family.
When I wanted to start my own blog ‘Bloggingceo.com”, I had no idea where and which step I should take first.
I searched a couple of articles and found only basic information.
In fact, at one place I was stuck (like you are at the moment). Because with a bunch of information reading out here and there (at different blog posts), I was confused as to what I should do now after setting things up. What’s next?
Technical Resources Required:
Technically we need three things to start a successful blog.
Don’t be worried. By the end of this article, you will be able to not only start your own blog, but you will also have a complete step by step process to make it successful by driving traffic and monetizing it.I have written this guide while covering each and every step you need at the moment and I am sure by reading this whole article, you will surely have everything you need.
I have written this guide while covering each and every step you need at the moment and I am sure by reading this whole article, you will surely have everything you need.

Let’s have a look at the table of content as what information you are going to discover today.

How to Start a Blog

The question how can I start Blogging must be confusing right? It is quite easy enough. There is nothing to be a technical person or a computer expert. In fact, we need some core competencies. We need to be a creative person who can think out of the box.
  • A solution provider who can solve problems.
  • A passionate person who take things seriously.
  • A challenger who can challenge the world alone.
A Goal of Money Making Blog:
In the end, we need to keep in mind that we are here to survive. We have bills to pay. We have to live with a family. If you have goals to accomplish, you can become a better blogger than anyone else.

Secret #1: Affiliate is The Key to Success

Ever thought why people are spending too much time on writing blog posts? They are making huge money from visitors.
Let me tell you.
The most popular platform is Amazon and people write a complete buying guide on specific products. We call such blog a niche specific blog or a niche site.
Now think, you have written a piece of content on some products. A person visits your blog, explores it and picks the best product you have recommended, he will go to Amazon site from your link and will surely buy that product, and hence you get a certain amount of commission from Amazon.
It’s very simple, and we call it affiliate marketing.
The huge money is inside affiliate.
Though there are countless of ways, you can make money with your blog by advertising, selling your products or selling services. But the most important and quite powerful way is the affiliate.
Affiliate income may range from $1 to $100+ per sale.
Anyways let’s jump into steps we need to know now. I am sure you have done with understanding the important things that I have discussed above, and I have entertained and encouraged you well, and you are excited to explore more 😉
Let’s do it:

Step 1: Think Out of The Box (Choosing Niche):

It is time to think and decide what type of blog you are going to create.
Think what is your passion and is super easy for you?
Let me clear it. The other will tell you to be very passionate about your topic that you want to choose. In fact, I agree.
But here comes the secret. Would you go for a topic that has a huge money or go with your passion?
Don’t be confused. The money is in your passion.
For example, I love smartphones. I recently bought brand new iPhone SE. I have a passion of searching for latest smartphones, gadgets and keen interest to know what is best one.
There may be more people like me, right?
Now let me give you the idea how you can turn your passion into money.
Here I searched for “best iPhone se case” and I got few results. Out of the results, I visited a blog ‘digitaltrends.com’ since it was giving me to go through with 25 ideas.
Since there are other results as well but why I picked this one? Because here I got a couple of choices to decide, which case to buy?
Why I Chose The Second?
Take a moment here and think how you can write stuff? I didn’t go to other sites but the one who was giving an in-depth overview of what I was searching. So this also covers the perfect example of what to target and how to target inside your niche.
But here comes the point how will I generate income? Now look the site I visited is giving ideas about best iPhone cases and I can quickly go through with the link provided inside the content.
Once I click this button, The Amazon site will open, and when I make any purchase, the site owner who referred will get a certain amount of commission, and this is how the whole system is working.
Here comes another Secret.

Secret #2: Here is Your Niche – Pick Any

What if I tell you an interesting way to find the niche for your blog? Sounds Interesting? Let’s do it.
Go to Amazon.com and mouse-over to “Departments.”
Amazon Logo is the property of Amazon Inc and used for informational purposes only.
Now when you click on departments, you will see something like this.
Wow! Over Hundreds of categories, you can find here and decide what topic you should choose for your blog. There is no limit of ideas here. You can decide whatever you like. Each category has a great potential.
However the general niche topics mostly bloggers refer are:
  • Food.
  • Travel.
  • Sports.
  • Entertainment.
  • News.
But still, you should go with what you can do best.

Step 2: Choose the Best Blogging Platform (WordPress)

blogging-platformThis will be your final decision which will impact on everything. The worst decision will be a headache in future. Everybody looks for free stuff.
But seriously if you want to start a blog for free, then blogging is not for you. Since free has no value and a business can’t be built on free pillars.
Such platforms come with other problems too – like
  • No Advertisements: You can’t make any money with your blog since free platforms don’t allow.
  • Less Control: Even you don’t have complete control over your content. No backups, no support and they can delete everything without warning and without informing.
  • Non-Professional: Would you want to have your credibility to be damaged here? Remember you get fruit when you seed right. Free platforms always represent their brand. For example bloggingceo.blogspot.com. Why would I want to serve here ‘blogspot’? Of course, I want my credibility; therefore, I would always go with my brand which is bloggingceo.com
    In fact, here I would recommend always going with the brand. Build a brand you like, build a trust so that people will know more about you. Have a control over what you do.
In fact, here I would recommend always going with the brand. Build a brand you like, build a trust so that people will know more about you. Have a control over what you do.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org:

WordPress.com is a platform where you can start a blog for free.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted WordPress blogging platform which you can use for free but at your domain name.
Confused? WordPress has always been free to use, but there is a little difference I would mention here.
  • Hosted WordPress Blogs: The one which is created under wordpress.com and is free.
  • Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs: The one which is created using the WordPress software under your domain name. For Example bloggingceo.com

Why WordPress?

With Over 74.6 Million sites covering 27% of the internet world wide web, it has been the best. No word to describe its simplicity and power to design any blog or a professional look website. The reason I recommend:
  • Secured: It is the most stable platform than any other. NASA, Technorati, Mashable and even more authority sites use this.
  • Updating: It’s always updating it’s interface, security, codes and design to give us a user-friendly environment to work.
  • Tweakable: It is super easy to use. We get lots of free themes and plugins to use to tweak our blog the way we want. Use of contact form and creating sliders, menus and widgets are super easy.
Even the blog you are reading at this time is made up with WordPress. What if I show you one of my Amazon affiliate site here which is also made up with the same platform? Have a look:
I am sorry for the name which I can’t disclose at the moment. But subscribe to my mailing list right now, and I will send you updates with complete strategy when I hit six figures on this site.
I am sure you have now a crystal clear option to chose the platform for your first blog. Let’s jump to another step.

Step 3: Choose Best Domain and Host:

The confusion may be here what, who and why to chose a host?
Let me clear it in an easy way. As we discussed above self-hosted blog and a clean Web URL, for that purpose, we need only two things.
  1. Domain: It is a name or your internet address which people will like to enter into browser address bar. For example, when you want to go to Google Search Engine, you just type Google.com which is an address to visit Google’s Site. In the same way, Bloggingceo.com is my site. Now you understand what domain is. It is your blog name which will allow people to access your site again and again. It usually costs nothing more than a cup of coffee which is $9 to $12 only. I always buy domains from Namecheap which are more cheaper. However, I will show you how to pick the domain name for FREE. Follow the guide.
  2. Web Hosting: We need a web host which allows us to keep our website files, images and videos. Without a host, we can’t find our blog on the internet since we would not have a place to keep its data. Also, it’s the host that puts our site on the web so everyone can visit it. Treat it like a folder on your Mac. Web Hosting usually costs $2-9 per month. But wait here, let me show you a cheaper one which is not only reliable but most trusted by WordPress.

Which Host is better then?

It’s an interesting question here since newbie including me when I started, I had some bad experience with some local host, and I completely lost my first blog. I was getting around 500 visitors per day that time, and even I had no idea about marketing 😉
Anyways, there are just a few things we need to keep in mind while choosing a host.
  • Speed: Matters a lot. Google and all other search engines love speedy websites/blogs. Would you want your visitors to go away even before your site opens? Your site must provide the response in seconds (Not more than 2 seconds).
  • Uptime: The host must maintain 100% uptime. Would you want your site to be down for a single second? Of course not. Always look for 100%.
  • 24/7 Support: Necessary! Technically there can be any issue at any time. No matter for any problem. At least you must be provided full support right? Choose the one who provides full-time support to every single question you ask for anything.
There are many host providers so how can you pick the right one? Let me help you out here.

Bluehost – A Top Host Provider Referred by WordPress:

There is nothing that matches the quality to Bluehost. Now Why I am saying this? Since I have been a user of Bluehost and the site you are reading is hosted by them.
  • Over 2 million websites use Bluehost today.
  • Offers $150 Free Advertising Credit right in your Control Panel
  • Great support and Uptime
  • 1-Click Installation Services
Last but not least, it is one of the companies that has been referred by WordPress.
Check here. There are many other too, but none matches the quality of Bluehost.
Personally, whenever I had any issue with changing username, payment methods and moving from another host, they took me online and helped me out quickly. The live support is just awesome.

Pick a Domain Name and Setup Your Blog Now:

Here we need few things to keep in our mind before we register our domain name, not more than few points to consider.
  • Choose a .com domain name which is easy to remember.
  • Never use dashes in your name something like www.blogging-ceo.com which is not even hard enough to remember/call but also a non-professional as well.
  • Your name should reflect your brand or product.
Important Tips:
If you are starting some niche specific blog, I would suggest doing proper research.
  • Check your competitors first what names they have used. In my case, I wanted to write more stuff on Blogging, so I chose the word ‘Blogging’ in my domain with a supporting word of ‘CEO.’
  • If you are creating a general blog, like travel, food, life, etc. You can choose your name as well just like mine www.umeriftikhar.com.
Further, you can also check a whole in-depth, detailed post I have written to find a domain name which will be easy enough to understand before you pick a unique and eye-catching name.

Complete Your Registration First:

Mouse over to green button ‘get started now.’
Choose ‘Basic’ plan. Since you are starting, it is more than enough. You can always upgrade later when you start getting traffic. Bluehost will scale you quickly.
Enter your unique words here at ‘new domain.’ Here is how you can get a domain for absolutely free. Or if you have already bought from Namecheap, enter at ‘I have a domain name.’
Now you need to put all your information here.
After you have put your complete information, scroll down a little, and here you can see all other information such Account plan, Hosting, Setup and other fees.
But hold on here. Wait for few seconds, and you will see a popup offering you discount up to 65%.
Just click on ‘claim savings,’ and you will see updated price information as below.
Bingo! That’s a huge saving. $95.40 isn’t bad enough to start your first blog which is not more than a cell phone you will change every next month.
Now put your credit card information, click on ‘submit’ and complete your registration.
Note: You can also pay with ‘Paypal’ for which you can click on ‘more payment option’ right above at credit card information.

Install WordPress Blog Now:

Installation is quite easy. It will take you only a few minutes to setup your first blog. Just log on to your new Bluehost Account and click on ‘WordPress Tools,’ then click on ‘New Install.’ Choose Domain without ‘www,’ leave ‘Path’ blank and fill other information.
CAUTION: This is important, and most new bloggers make this mistake. Never put easy to guess username and password. Always use the hard one.
Once you click on ‘Install WordpPress.’ Your installation will begin, and you will receive a successful message like below.
You see how easy it is to install WordPress on your very first blog? No matter now how many blogs you create. The process remains same.
Now login to your ‘WordPress Dashboard’ by putting this URL into the address bar. ‘yourdomain.com/wp-admin.’
Replace ‘yourdomain.com’ with yours. Enter your username and password and login.

Setup Your Professional Email Address:

Here at the moment, I suggest you create your professional email address since we are going to use this email with multiple sign ups at different services later. So it is better to setup right now.
Log on to Your Bluehost Control Panel and click on ‘Email’ button then ‘Email Manager.’
Here you need to click on ‘Create a New Email.’
Now finally put a username, secure password and click on ‘create & finish.’
Once you are done, you can check your email here at login page of Bluehost.

Step 4: Tweak Your Blog Now:

Here comes the main important step that everyone must be curious to know. We need of course a beautiful layout with a bunch of amazing tools that can take our blog to the next level.
So let’s get started.

Getting Familiar:

After successfully login, you can see your dashboard which will look something like below. If you are new to WordPress, check out how it looks.

Understand the Basics:

Let me give you an overview of what options are there and what functions they got.
  1. Dashboard: Quickly provides you with an overview of the recent post, comments, activity and upcoming new with more sections later added when a new theme or plugin is installed.
  2. Posts: Allows you to create a new post, make categories, add tags, and view all previous activities of them.
  3. Media: Any image, audio, and video posted, can be found here. It’s a library to all these.
  4. Pages: Allows creating pages like ‘About,’ ‘Terms,’ ‘Contact’ or more. Add new pages or edit old ones.
  5. Comments: The beauty of a blog is your readers can send you comments on blog posts you create. You can check them here, approve, deny, edit or reply.
  6. Appearance: Quickly install a new theme, change the current layout, add widgets, make menus easily or modify your current theme codes. Don’t worry I am going to show you step by step how you can do all these later here.
  7. Plugins: A beautiful area that tweaks your blog to next level. Add new plugin like SEO, Social or anything you like.
  8. Users: Want to add new users to your site? Probably a new admin who will manage your blog. You can control all this here. User Roles are ‘Administrator’, ‘Contributor’, ‘Editor’, ‘Author’ and ‘Subscriber’. You can also edit your profile from here.
  9. Tools: Here you can import and export your WordPress blog settings, this is mostly used in the transfer or with some plugins configuration.
  10. Settings: It has everything like setting up site structure, title and most importantly how you want your blog to behave. Don’t worry it is very simple and I will show you what settings we need to do.
Now let’s do some basic configuration to our blog.

Add New Categories:

It is quite simple. Why we need them? These are useful when we create posts. We have to tell in which category we have written the post so that our user can quickly navigate the topic inside the standard category.
Let’s say. My blog is about Football; I will have categories like below.
  • Dribbling
  • Skills
  • Long Shots
  • Short Shots
Here is how you can add a category. Later I will tell you how to select it while posting. Stay with me here.
Mouse over to ‘Post’ and click on ‘Categories.’
Now just put a name, give a slug (same as name), write few words about what’s it all about and click on ‘Add New Category.’

Update Your User Profile:

Here comes another interesting thing. You can just present yourself in your blog. A simple biodata appears at every post you create.
Here is what you can do, mouse over to ‘Users’ and click on ‘Your Profile.’
Here you can see First, Last and Nickname, update them and select which format you want to show publicly.
names-in-wordpressNow you can add additional information about yourself in ‘Biographical Info’ area.
After when you have added your personal information, hit ‘Update Profile’ at the bottom.

Display Your Pic in WordPress:

There is no way in WordPress you can add your profile pic. But there is an easy way.
  • Gravatar makes it easy for you. Here is what you need to do.
  • Remember we created an email address using Bluehost account above?
  • Register with the same email at WordPress.com
  • Log on to Gravatar.com
  • Under My Gravatar tab, click on ‘Add New Image’ and upload your pic, crop and then finish it.
  • Once you add a pic, you can see a message asking to rate your pic. Use ‘G’ rated one like below.
Now once you have done all these, go back to your profile in WordPress and use the same email you have used at wordpress.com. Your pic will appear as mine 😉

Setup Permalink Structure for Optimization:

By default Permalink structure is in ugly value. We can set it up to look more professional and clean. Read more about permalinks.
To set it up, navigate to ‘Settings’ and ‘Permalinks.’
Choose ‘Post Name’ and hit ‘Save Changes.’

Tweaking Blog Design with Themes:

Mainly in WordPress, Blog is created using a theme. We have a bunch of Themes available for free to use in WordPress. However here I would like to discuss something important.

Secret #3: Theme Plays a Vital Role

The design is everything. No matter you have quality content on your blog. But if your design is poor, you might get the attention of your visitors.
Here are some key points we need to consider while choosing a theme:
  • User Friendly
  • Fast in Loading
  • SEO Friendly
  • Responsive
  • Up to Date
  • Ads Widgets Optimized
I would like to add here. If you want to build a business online or you are serious about your blog, always go for Paid themes. Why?
Free themes usually don’t get updates. Why would a developer upgrade an item for free since he is getting nothing from it?
I always go with paid themes and using voice theme purchased from Themeforest on Blogging CEO.
You can also check a list of best WordPress themes.

How to Install a Theme:

Mouse over to ‘Appearance’ from the sidebar and click on ‘Themes.’
Now click on ‘Add New’ from the top.
Hold on a second! There are two things we can do here.
  1. If you have purchased a theme, we will upload it.
  2. But for some reason (low budget) or you are just starting, it’s ok to start with free one. Later we can upgrade.
Let me show you both way.

To Install Free One:

Here once you click on ‘Add New,’ you can browse some ‘Featured’ themes available on the same page. Check out which you like the most. Mouse over to that and you will see a button of ‘Install.’
There are only a few. But you can explore to 1,000+ free designs from here. Just click on ‘Feature Filter’ and select what kind of design you are interested.
You will have amazing results. Click on ‘Apply Filters’ to see and then choose which layout is suitable for you.
In my case, I like ‘eMag.’ Mouse over to layout you like and click on ‘Install.’
Next, you will see an option to ‘Activate’ in the same place where ‘Install’ was written before. ‘Activate’ theme, and you are done here installing a new free theme.
Congratulations! We have successfully installed a free theme.

To Install Paid One:

Installing paid theme isn’t hard. Once you have purchased a theme from Themeforest or MyThemeShop or Magazine3, all you have to do is to mouse over to ‘Appearance,’ then click on ‘Themes’ and then ‘Add New.’ After it, we need to click on ‘Upload Theme.’ Now ‘Choose File’ and then ‘Install Now.’
Once you install it, click on ‘Activate’ and congratulations as now you have a paid theme installed.
Here I used Voice as I told before, the same theme I am using on this blog.

What Else You Need:

Well at this point since we are just new here and we need to configure here lots of things. But here our blog will look ugly if we don’t have some basic designs like ‘Logo.’

Add a Logo:

If you don’t have a logo at this stage, don’t worry. Get the one at Fiverr for as cheap as $5. But I can also help you in that, and I have a professional team who design stunning and beautiful logos or big brands. Do contact me.
However adding a logo can be different in all themes. Since every theme has its functions/options that display as developers want.
Also sometimes, theme options come under ‘Appearance’ or separately like I have below which I got after installing ‘Voice.’
Here is what you need to do. Mouse over to ‘Themes Options,’ Select ‘Header Styling,’ Click on ‘Upload,’ chose your logo file, upload it and finally click on ‘Save Changes.’
At this time, you don’t need to be worried about how your blog looks. Just stay with me and let me configure some more settings for you. Once you complete all steps, you will be happy.

Configuring Plugins to Supercharge:

Here comes the most important part that you must look carefully. Plugins help in adding additional features like having contact forms, increasing site speed, securing WordPress blog, social integrity and most importantly optimization for better search engine traffic.
CAUTION: I advise you to please check and review the plugin before you use them. Some plugins developer may harm your blogs. However, don’t worry about which plugin to chose. Let me share them all with you.

Most Important Plugins:

Here I am sharing the most relevant yet useful Plugins you should use, and of course, I am using too.
  1. Yoast SEO: All in one SEO Solution plugin for WordPress that gives valuable analysis, optimization tips, XML sitemap settings, Webmaster Tools functionality and much more.
  2. BulletProof Security: Ultimate Plugin that provides incredible security to your WordPress blog from hackers.
  3. Contact Form 7: Very simple, easy and flexible contact form generator plugin.
  4. Jetpack: Connects self-hosted blog to wordpress.com to use useful features. In fact, it comes up with one in all complete solution, for optimization, security, analytics and more. Read More
  5. Shortcodes Ultimate: Supercharge posts with unique, useful and unusual designs and layout. Help to embed eye-catching notes, points, highlighter, divider, etc.
  6. Social Pug: Helps to add decorative social sharing buttons to posts and pages.
  7. WP-Sweep: A very helpful to optimize our database and contribute reducing unwanted, additional and useless tables and information. Such as revisions, trashed comments, duplicate items, etc.
  8. Pretty Link Lite: Amazingly converts affiliates links into nice links and allows tracking (important for affiliate links).
  9. Wp Subscribe Pro (Paid): Simple and Powerful to collect emails subscription at your blog. It also supports all the main Emails List Providers like Aweber, Mailchimp, GetResponse, etc.
  10. WP Rocket (Paid): Want to speed up time load? Check out my Blog Load Time here. I am using the same plugin to optimize speed.
  11. Imagify: Reduces image file sizes without losing quality to make images open faster.
I am using all these plugins for my every single blog that I own since these are the best plugins I found ever. Don’t worry here at all. I will be sharing how to configure them on the same page easily.

How to Install a Plugin:

I will be showing you by installing a plugin as well as setting up some of them to help you understand more. It’s also going to be helpful for you to optimize more to avoid any mistake in future.
To install, navigate your mouse on ‘Plugins’ and click on ‘Add New.’
I will be installing here ‘Yoast SEO’ and later will show you the configuration part of it. Rest of the plugins I am sure you can easily install. Let’s begin.
Search for ‘Yoast SEO’ in the search bar. Now click on ‘Install Now’ as you can see below.
After installing, click on ‘Activate.’
Now you can apply the same process for every plugin I have shared above. These plugins will not only make your blog faster and secured but also more optimized.

Upload a Plugin File to Install (Manually)

If you have purchased a paid plugin or you have downloaded from wordpress.org, the process is also easy to install.
Just Mouse over to ‘Plugins’ and then ‘Add New.’ Now ‘Upload Plugin’ and ‘Choose File’ and finally click on ‘Install Now.’
After installation, activate the plugin, and you’re done.
How easy it was, wasn’t it? Here I installed ‘Content Locker‘ from ‘MyThemeShop.’

Yoast Optimization for Search Engine Optimization:

Here is the most important part because we are going to setup the basic settings for SEO. I will be skipping the additional options but will completely focus on the main things that we must configure right now before we continue doing anything else.
Ready? Alright! Mouse over to ‘SEO’ from the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. Click on ‘Dashboard’ here.
First, you should be enabling all advanced features. Click on ‘Features,’ under this tab, and you need to set ‘Advanced settings pages’ as ‘Enabled’ to unlock more advanced features of the ‘Yoast.’ Click on ‘Save Changes’ in the last.
After that, you need to open ‘Your Info.’ Put all your information in mine below.
If you choose,
  • Company: Put your Blog Name (probably your domain name)
  • Person: Put Your Name.

Connect & Verify Webmaster Tools:

I am now going to join my blog with Google Search Console which helps a site to reach its goals regarding getting index. I can also get the following features/information.
  • Keywords I am ranking.
  • Keywords Position in Google Search Engine.
  • Backlinks from Other Sites.
  • Setting up Targeted Country in which I want to rank.
Let’s connect your blog now. Under ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab click on ‘Google Search Console.’ Here you will be asked to log into your Google Account. You can use ‘Gmail, YouTube or Google Doc’ account to login. Once you are logged in, do the following.
Chose ‘Alternate methods,’ then ‘HTML tag’ and copy the alphanumeric code that you can see after content as shown in the pic below.
Now copy the same code in ‘Google Search Console’ column under ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab and click ‘Save Changes.’
Now go back to Console page and click on ‘Verify.’
In next you will see a congratulations page.
Important: There are two versions of a domain name. One comes up with ‘www’ and other without it. I added with ‘www’ and you need to add without ‘www’ also. You can now add this property by going to the front page of Google Search Console.

Setting Up Title & Meta:

We need to put Title and Meta Description.
By doing so, we are telling search engines which title to index and what setting to grab for posts, media, pages, categories, archive and other.
The title for Homepage:
First of all, Mouse over ‘SEO’ from sidebar again and go to ‘Title & Meta.’ Now under ‘Homepage’ Tab, give your blog a title and description that will be shown in search results.
Search engines will show results like this.

Link up Social Links:

I will also tell you some important things about social media and its importance later in this post. At this time, if you already know about social media like the Facebook page, Twitter Profile, Pinterest, Google+ and other relevant platforms, make profiles/pages on each platform and link them up here same like below.
Mouse over to ‘SEO’ and then ‘Social.’ Put all your social links and finally ‘Save Changes.’
As a result of this search engines will better know which is your official profile/pages.

Setup & Submit XML Sitemap:

We have almost done, and this is last setting here we need to do at this time. Mouse over again to ‘SEO’ and chose ‘XML Sitemap.’ Under the ‘Taxonomies’ tab, select everything to ‘Not in sitemap’ and ‘Save Changes.’
Finally, jump to ‘General’ tab and click ‘Save Changes.’
We also need to submit the same sitemap in Google Search Console. Copy your XML Sitemap link and open Search Console.
Open search console and click on your website link.
Now click ‘Sitemaps’.
Finally, put the link that we copied and remove your blog name from there so that only ‘sitemap_index.xml’ should be written there.
I have almost told everything regarding the basic setup for this plugin we need at this time. Later I will explain how we can get benefit from Yoast when we write a blog post.

Secure Your WordPress Blog Now:

No doubt WordPress itself is a secured platform since big giants are using. But still we need to secure it more a bit later from our side. Why?
Hackers are smart enough. Some of our files are accessible publicly such as ‘Wp-Admin’ folder. If we don’t allow access, how can we even sign into our dashboard? So alteration is possible.e.
But most importantly we can disallow hackers to get access to such folder easily via ‘Bulletproof’ plugin. Also, more folders can easily be hacked, or due to our less knowledge our .htaccess file may be less secured.
But Bulletproof can take care of everything. Install ‘Bulletproof’ via ‘Plugins. Now open ‘htaccess Core’ under ‘BPS Security’ from the sidebar.
Here you just need to ‘Activate’ where ever it asks. BPS will do the rest, and you have to do nothing here.

Connect WordPress.com for Advanced Features.

Although we are using the self-hosted platform, we can still get many features of WordPress.com here using Jetpack. Just install it and activate.
Remember we created an account at WordPress.com? We are going to use same for sure.
Mouse over to ‘Jetpack’ from the sidebar and click on ‘Connect Jetpack’. Sign in if you are not.
If you are signed in, the page will look like this. Click ‘Approve’.
Here you need to choose ‘Free’ services since they are enough to get advanced features.
And you’re done here. Just ‘Activate Recommended Features.’
Furthermore, you can navigate to ‘Settings’ under ‘Jetpack’ and check out more features.

Speed Up Your Blog Now:

Speed matters a lot as I have told above. To simply increase my blog speed I have used the one and only cache plugin that I have found more reliable and more advanced than any other which is only Wp Rocket.
Although it is a paid plugin and you can skip it at the moment. But if I were at your place, I wouldn’t hesitate in spending few more bucks for my blog that I want to make successful.
Once you have purchased, upload plugin files and mouse over to ‘Settings’ from the left sidebar and choose ‘Wp Rocket.’
Here for the ‘Basic Options,’ check these settings as I have shown below.
Aren’t you be interested in knowing my blog speed at the moment, right? Let’s check.

How to Create Menus:

You should have a clear and proper navigation. To add menus, mouseover to ‘Appearance’ and click on ‘Menus’.
First ‘ Create a new menu,’ name it ‘Header Menu,’ put ‘Categories’ or pages in ‘Menu Structure Area’. Finally, select ‘Main Navigation’ and hit save.

Step 5: How to Create Pages

We also need to build some additional informative pages to our blog such as ‘About,’ ‘Terms,’ ‘Privacy Policy’ or a ‘Contact Page’.
To quickly create a page, mouse over to ‘Pages’ and click ‘Add New’.
Put your title, add some paragraph and hit ‘Publish’.
Don’t you want to create a form and use it here? So your visitors may directly submit that form and get interaction with you? Let’s see how to do that.

Create a Contact Page:

A contact page is necessary for every blogger. Since your audience wants to connect with you and send individual messages, suggestion or they may be interested in any service you are offering?
So, you must create a contact page where they can easily get in touch with you.
To do it, install ‘Contact Form 7‘ plugin the same way I have explained. Later mouse over to ‘Contact’ from the left sidebar and click on ‘Add New’.
Give a title and click on ‘Mail’ tab next.
Under ‘Mail’ tab, use your professional email address of your domain and ‘Save’ form.
After saving, you will see code that you need to put under a page where you want to take submissions from the audience. Copy this code now.
Now open ‘Contact Page’ under pages that we created above and put the same code and then hit ‘Update.’
The tweaking part is enough here. I am sure you can create a beautiful blog at the moment with some nice informative pages and with an excellent theme and plugins. Congratulations.

Step 6: Write Your First Blog Post:

Here comes the most important step even if I say it is the only thing which is dependent on whole work we have done so far, probably I may not be wrong.
In fact, our article speaks what we are. That is the most important element of a blog that differentiates us from other.
Before I continue teaching you how accurately you can create or write your first blog post, let me tell you the way to find what topics you should write. I mean how exactly you can find potential topics in your niche.
Well! Let me tell you the easiest way to find thousands of blog posts ideas you can quickly make and start writing right now.
Here again, I would say, there is no boundary in any niche. There are thousands of questions being asked by many people online.

Secret #4: Thousands of Article Ideas:

I like Quora in this case. It is question/answer website. Quickly let’s dig into it here.
As I supposed earlier, my niche is ‘iPhone’. Here I will write in the search bar at Quora ‘iPhone 7’ to see what questions people have asked.
I clicked on first one ‘Topic: iPhone 7’. Later I saw a question someone asked which I am sharing here.
By observing this question, I can analyze that people are interested in knowing ‘best iPhone apps’. So I searched for this keyword at Semrush and found that this keyword has a high potential.
I selected targeted country to ‘US’ and found that this topic is being searched 14,800 times with CPC (Cost Per Click, advertisers are paying approx. $5 per click or this keyword) of $5.
Obviously, it’s a great keyword. But furthermore not only I can write for only this broad topic, but also I can quickly get other topics by clicking on ‘Phrase Match’ next to ‘Overview’.
Now I can quickly list down some of my next topic ideas. I can write for each category about apps like for:
  • Email
  • Free Music
  • Games
  • Camera
My topics would be like ’10 Best Email Apps for iPhone’ also ’15 Best Camera Apps for iPhone 7′ and so on.
The more I search on Quora, the more I can have fresh ideas of my topics.
That is the quickest and easiest way to find what blog post you should write and what people are looking.

Need More? Brainstorm Topics:

I find it a stupid question people ask what to write?
It all depends on your passion. Why do I emphasize the word ‘passion’? Because when you are crazy about something, you are crazy for it and want to get each and everything about your passion.
Let’s say; I am a huge fan of ‘WWE,’ I know when new shows are coming, also I have the idea which is the best wrestler, having a lot more information about who has been in ‘hall of fame’ and which was the best fight ever of ‘Undertaker.’
If I am not wrong, it was ‘Undertaker VS Yokozuna Casket Match’ 😉
You see why I have so many ideas about ‘WWE’? It’s because there has been no single night gone without watching it.
So, it’s easy enough to find what topic can be hot in your niche. Therefore I would say, always work according to your passion.

Few More Tips to Analyze:

Think what excitements your readers want.
  • Example: At WWE audience look for brutal actions of ‘The Shield’ and funny performances by ‘Dean Ambrose’.
Research what discussion they are looking.
  • Example: Who will be the next ‘World Heavyweight Champion’?
Feel what your readers love within your niche.
  • Example: Goldberg returned and defeated Brock Lesnar in 1 minute 24 seconds.
Focus on Trending.
  • Example: Who will face Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33?
I hope you got the idea. Now let’s move into creating your first post.

Add New Post:

To write a new article, mouseover to ‘Post’ and click on ‘Add New Post.’
Here you will be brought to the editor area where you can start adding your new article. It is very simple just like ‘Microsoft Word’.

Write Title:

At first, enter the title of your topic you are writing about and edit your permalink with your focused keyword like mine.
Tips: Write a catchy title that attracts your readers. Also, edit the permalink and put your main focused keyword here or with some additional words like ‘Keyword+2017’ or ‘Keyword+secrets’. It can be anything you want and you think would best describe your topic.

Start Writing & Formatting:

Now add your text in the body area. You can do some formatting as well such as making some text bold and adding some headings.
You can format some texts to heading by selecting them and clicking on ‘Paragraph’ then choosing the heading level such as ‘heading 1 to 6.’
Important Advice: Write more than 2,000 words of the article since every competitor is now focusing long and detailed topic.
In fact, all Search Engines now display the best possible results at top 10, and of course, once you have a good content with unusual and useful information, you are going to get highest ranking for maximum search terms quickly without any marketing 😉

Add a Link:

It is that obvious sometimes we have to give reference to other sources such as I have given above. Linking is also a major factor for SEO (later in this post I will explain). We can create a link to a text such as ‘click here’ or any text you want to be linked.
Now select some text and click on ‘Link Option’ from the toolbar.
Now click on ‘Link Option’.
Put your link and chose ‘Open link in a new tab’ and you’re done here.
Advice: Don’t link to unauthentic articles. Only link to proper and useful resources.

Add Image:

Content looks more professional and exciting when we see some visual stuff like pictures/infographics.
To add a picture, click ‘Add Media’ and upload a new image here. You can either upload or drag and drop your image here.
Important: Don’t forget to put ‘Alt Text’ which is a major ranking factor in Image SEO. Also, you can resize your image or link it to external sources like we do for texts.

Optimize Your Article with Yoast:

Once you have completed writing your article, you need to check few important things under Yoast SEO plugin which explain what significant On-Page SEO factors you have completed or missed.
Here you need to put these four elements:
  • SEO Title.
  • Slug.
  • Meta Description.
  • Focus Keyword.
These elements will be determined, and you can see a preview as for how Search Engines will treat it. You can find these options at the bottom of your article area.
Now the plugin will automatically determine which factor you have missed so you can quickly get an idea what’s left. Try to get as many green signals as much as you can. If you don’t get it all, don’t worry. 70 to 80 percent is good enough.

Add Category & Featured Image:

You should be now selecting your right category from the sidebar and add a featured image.
To choose a category, check the right sidebar and choose the right one.
Featured image is a thumbnail which appears in archives, front page or sidebar. To add a thumbnail/featured image, check the right sidebar and click on ‘Set featured image.’
The process is same as we did while adding a media (image).
Once you have uploaded a thumbnail, click on ‘Set featured image.’
Finally, you can hit ‘Publish’ button to quickly make your article live on the internet. Also, you can check a ‘Preview’ here and if you find everything perfect then makes it go.
I congratulate you for your first blog. You have done it all alone yourself. The blog is perfect, optimized and good looking. You must be feeling good at this moment 🙂
But before that, do consider what I am going to tell you right now.

Important Writing Tips:

You are speaking of the world and want engagement with your readers; you should be focusing to deliver the best to your audience so you can build a trust.
I have seen many bloggers only focusing on the look and forget about stuff they provide (content).
Look, and design does matter, but if you are selling a crap under a gift paper, it won’t make someone happy.
Here are few quick tips to consider while writing a piece of content:
  • Don’t copy others. Be yourself.
  • Write more than 1,000 words. The ideal would be more than 2,000 words.
  • Content should be in conversational tone.
  • Focus more on formatting.
  • The Content looks more perfect and eye catching with sub headings and bullet points.
  • Content must be grammatical errors free.
Congratulations once again. But wait! We need more things to learn here. What about marketing?

Step 7: Search Engine Optimization

Everything depends upon SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
It is only marketing. It is in short simply the optimization of Blog and Content to get a higher ranking.
Ever wondered when you search for anything, 90% are the chances you visit one of the pages that you can see at first page of Google or Bing?
Why are these pages ranking at the top? The answer is simple. They do SEO. They market their content more than anyone else, and hence they get higher ranking in search results.
Let me define it in more simple way.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to optimize your blog, and it’s content in such a way that it gets the higher ranking position in search results for specific search terms (keywords or phrases).
Before I continue, let me show results of the blog you are reading at this time. I am talking about ‘BloggingCEO’ 🙂
The Result from Google Analytics:
I also use Statcounter for Traffic Analysis. Here is the result:
For complete SEO analysis and other things like Traffic cost, top keywords, and other SEO factors, I use Semrush. Here I got it:
You see, most of the traffic of this blog comes from Search Engine which is free and organic traffic. I have to do nothing to drive these visitors except SEO.
The process of optimization started when we optimized Yoast Plugin and did some settings for homepages such as Blog Title and Meta description etc..
Let me share more elements that you must focus on for great results.

On-Page SEO:

The process of optimizing the inside of a blog is on-page. There is nothing to be worried about it.
In fact, it is the fun part here, and I enjoy doing it. Since the better on-page we focus, the higher ranking we are going to get.
It starts with setting up Title and ends with optimizing content.
Elements that we focus under this branch are:

Title & Meta:

We have already set it up for the blog at the first stage while setting up Yoast Plugin. Now write a Catchy title and a description.

Important Pages:

Such as creating about us, terms, privacy policy, contact us and other necessary pages you want.

Keyword Research:

Here comes the most important and surprising part which is especially relevant to content writing. The process to find keywords is same as I told above while searching for new topic ideas. Apply the same procedure here.
There are two kinds.
  • Informative: When these types of keywords are searched, the person is seeking some knowledge. The best example is the same topic you are reading at the moment. Did you come here to learn about starting a blog right?
  • Buying: It is obvious now that the person is looking to buy something. Best example is ‘Best iPhone Cases.’
While do consider these points when choosing the right keyword.
  • Start targeting 500 to 1,000 monthly searches keywords, since they are easy to rank.
  • Use Semrush to determine monthly searches and CPC.
  • Always consider more than $1 CPC keywords.
  • Look for related keywords.
  • Do check out top 10 sites ranking in the search engine to determine their writing style and the content they are providing, because you need to do better than those top Giants.

Keyword Density:

You must focus keyword density a lot since spamming is hated everywhere. The more you repeat your targeted keywords in your content, the more it will lose its worth.
Always write real and original content that flows naturally since repetition of any word is considered as spam.
In my case, I keep it below %1 for every single word in my article.
How can you check?
I always check at Seobook. Copy your article and paste it under ‘Plain Text’ tab like below.
After submitting you will be shown your results like below.
Once identified, decrease repeated words. As I told I keep it to maximum 1% for every word.

Internal Linking:

While writing, you should be linking to other articles you have written with targeted keywords. The best practice you can observe is the way Wikipedia gives reference to its other pages.
Important: Do not link more than three posts in one article.

Image Optimization:

Remember I told above? The Alt tag is an essential element and plays a vital role in image optimization. Never forget to put alt tag.


In the latest algorithm of Google and other Search Engines, speed plays a significant role in ranking. The faster your blog loads up, the higher ranking you are going to enjoy.
I have already discussed above optimizing speed.

Off-Page SEO:

It’s in simple words,
Marketing of your blog/website is called Off-Page SEO.
The key element in this branch is ‘Backlink.’ The more backlinks you have, the more are the chances of getting your keywords ranked in, the higher position.
I am skipping the detail here since I am sharing the other reliable resource to learn more about it.
Harsh Agrawal of ShoutMeLoud has done an excellent job in defining this term. Read out here.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has done a fantastic job in discovering untapped backlinks resources. Read it out here.
I have not discussed since these two sources are enough to let you understand Off-Page SEO altogether.
Remember: The process of SEO takes time, and results do not usually come in a week or month. It takes a little time like more than a month. Because your blog is new and it takes the time to outrank other big brands who have been working earlier than you.
Let’s move out to next step.

Step 8: Social Media Marketing (Secret #5)

I promised to tell you the secret to getting free traffic. Finally here comes the action to enjoy free traffic.
The procedure is quite simple. Since the revolution of Social Media has taken next level in the world. Every single person is using social networking sites.
Hence we can extract our targeted audience using these social sites.
What’s the Secret here?
You know about Hashtags?
It makes easier to find our targeted content in social media. How to find? Such as at Twitter I am looking for ‘Blogging’ tweets. I would write a phrase with ‘#’ like ‘#blogging.’
Here I can engage with as many people as I can since these people are mainly talking about ‘Blogging’ and are my targeted audience.
What I have to do is to just interact with them by personal messages, retweeting, etc.
The same pattern applies to every social media platform.
Once I have a huge following, I can simply share my blog post links, and hence I get free traffic that is not only targeted but also it brings huge impact in search rankings.

Social Sites to Focus:

These are major sites I have been using over the time and getting amazing results.
  • Google+: Create a Google Plus page and promote your content.
  • Facebook: A Facebook fan page brings massive traffic. Create a page, get as many likes. Also, spend some bucks in developing your page if needed.
  • Twitter (Secret #6): It has an enormous impact on SEO as well. Tweets get higher ranking in Google. The more you utilize this platform, the more benefits you will get.
  • Pinterest (Secret #7): Another social media site for a boost in ranking. Create a board and submit images with a link back to your article and enjoy tons of free traffic.
  • YouTube & Vimeo: Create a video and upload to these platforms and put a backlink as well as earn free traffic.
IMPORTANT: Use Twitter and Pinterest more since these two social sites give huge impact in ranking.
Although it also takes a little time but, believe me, this can bring more results initially than search engines. If you target it will, you are going to enjoy a lot.
We have also got the more social sites, but above are best and bring impressive results.

Step 9: Make Money from Blogging

Alright! We have come to the level where we need bounties of our hard work. We have started a blog that is getting good traffic, social signals and search preferences.
Now we need to make money from it.
There are countless of ways we can adopt to make money from blogs. However, I would discuss few here.

Affiliate Marketing:

I have explained how affiliate marketing works in first Secret heading. That is the most reliable source and generates higher revenues. You can join Amazon Associate Program and start making money by reviewing different products, or you can join other affiliate networks and sites who offer affiliation.

Contextual & Banner Ads:

Graphics or textual advertisement displayed on a website in the form of banner or links. The best networks are Google AdsenseBuySellAds (My Top Preference), AdclerkInfolinks and more.

Sell Services:

You can also choose to sell your services. For example, I am offering Web Development services in one of my blogs; you can also do the same depending on your niche and skills.

Sell E-Books:

Another great source of income. Create a well informative PDF E-Book and sell it. Mostly bloggers have reported huge impact on their monthly revenue by selling small yet informative e-books.
Here I would say again; there are countless of ways to make money via blogging. All we have to do is to work smart and take benefits.

Other Resources I am Using:

Finally, I have taught you a complete step by step guide to starting a blog with some of the secrets. Using the same guide not only you can start today, but also you have the complete procedure to follow from starting to making money journey.
However, I am using few more tools and resources that I would like to mention here.

Email Management:

Thunderbird: To manage my professional domain email. Since by default webmail needs to be opened via browser and I don’t like any of its interfaces. Therefore I am using Thunderbird which is not only comfortable but also very user-friendly.
To set it up, Download and install and then click ‘Email.’
Now ‘Skip this and use my existing email.’
Sign in to your email now.
Chose ‘IMAP’ and click ‘Done.’
You can now use your email at the desktop and reply to everyone using Thunderbird. Easy isn’t it?

Backup Solutions:

Quick Overview of Blogging Tools:

Alright! I know lots of fun and information I have explained above. Let’s have a brief overview of tools that I mentioned above so that you can have access to them quickly.
However, you can always check to my ‘Blogging Tools’ page where I have mentioned all necessary resources.


Wow! 9,500+ words about how to start a blog. I hope I have explained each and everything very well.
I am sure you have already created since starting a blog is affordable and to be successful, you need hard work, motivation, dedication and of course creativity.
It may take few months, but the result will be higher than your expectations.
You are speaking of the world and with humans. Be creative and share your experience and thoughts with the world.
The money will follow you.
Enjoyed reading? Just a little bit more. Share it with your friends.

About the author

Umer Iftikhar

My name is Umer Iftikhar, the owner of this blog (BloggingCEO.com). I am a Web Developer, Blogger, Freelancer, Affiliate Marketer, Internet Entrepreneur and of-course a Lovable, Respectful and Helpful guy. Catch me on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter :)
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