Blogging: The Complete Guide for Beginners (2020)

by Nikita Shevchenko

In this guide, you will learn everything the beginner needs to know about blogging.

So if you wonder how to:

  • Start a successful and profitable blog
  • Optimize your website for blogging
  • Create content that people and Google like
  • Drive traffic to your blog
  • And more

This guide is right for you!

Let’s get started.



Blogging Fundamentals

In this chapter, I am answering the most popular and important questions about blogging.

Specifically, you will find out what blogging is, why it can be beneficial for you or your business, and also the ways to become a great blogger whose pieces of content are truly outstanding.

What is Blogging?

Blogging is the process of self-publishing content on one’s personal website, social media platforms, or other websites on the web.

Blogging can be in different forms such as text, video, images, and so on.

Blogging niches may vary significantly, from personal pet blogs to medical or legal advice sources.

a personal website for blogging

The Differences Between a Blog and a Website

It is very easy to confuse a website and a blog. Especially for those who are new to blogging.

A website is more static. Its content does not change very regularly. In other words, set and forget(for some time).

A blog is a way more active resource where the content gets added on a regular basis.

The table below lists the other major differences.

WebsiteBlog
It usually consists of pages such as homepage, contact, about, services, blog page, etc.
(It may sometimes consist of only one page)
It usually consists of many blog posts and a few pages.
The main purpose of a website is to increase brand awareness and promote company services.The main purpose of a blog is to share valuable content and stimulate brand exposure.
A website is not updated regularly.A blog is updated very regularly.
A website cannot be a part of a blog.
(ex. nikitashevchenko.com)
A blog is often a part of a website and it is located on a blog page.
(ex. nikitashevchenko.com/blog)

Why Is Blogging Important?

Blogging can have a tremendous impact on one’s life, personal and business.

It can help you accomplish multiple goals at once:

  1. Become an Industry Authority
  2. Build an Audience
  3. Become Financially Secure
  • Build Authority. Launching a blog is one of the best decisions you can make for showcasing expertise and experience in your niche. Quality content that provides real value for readers will help anyone achieve expert status. Case studies, industry research, and in-depth articles work exceptionally well.
  • Build an Audience. You can make your brand and business more recognizable by constantly blogging. It will help you grow the audience of regular readers and fans. Blogging will help you build strong relationships with your clients and customers because you will provide true value and solve their problems.
  • Financial Independence. There are thousands of people whose lives have changed dramatically because of blogging. And the good news is that you can be one of them. It can become your additional income source or gradually substitute your main income stream.

How to Become a Good Blogger?

First and foremost, you will need to work really hard.

In fact, you will need to work early in the morning or late at night at first.

That said, blogging is not rocket science you can become really good at this with some amount of practice and dedication.

Let me name a couple of skills that you need to master to become really good at blogging:

  • A Good Grasp of the English Language. This skill lays the foundation for the rest of the list. If you want to succeed in blogging you have to operate the language on a high level.
  • Topic Research. Research is required every time when you want to produce a new piece of content on your blog. You will have to be able to do a competition analysis as well.
  • Content Structure. Good bloggers can structure the content in such a way that it looks very appealing to people and search engines.
  • Marketing & Promotion. Writing good content is not enough nowadays. Top-level bloggers know how to promote their content to larger audiences online.
  • A Basic Level of Design. At the beginning stage, novice bloggers need to learn how to design their blog, create visuals, experiment with fonts, colors, and other design-related stuff.
  • A Basic Level of SEO. To succeed in blogging you will also have to know some basic search engine optimization techniques that will allow your blog and content rank higher in search. After all, if your content does not rank well no one is going to appreciate your hard work.
a good blogger skill set blogging

Now, it’s time to launch your first blog and see what it can bring you.

You just need to follow an easy 5-step process.

How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps

In this chapter, I will show you how to start a blog the right way and without breaking the bank.

Step by step.

The best part is that I will share the exact 5-step process I used to launch this website(and a couple of other blogs).

Let’s do it!

Step 1: Niche Analysis

This is the most important step in blog creation.

If you choose the right niche, the chances for success will increase drammaticaly.

If you pick up the wrong one, you might end up spending countless hours trying to rank your content on Google.

So follow these 3 golden rules when choosing the niche for you blog:

Rule #1: Low-Medium Competition Level

You do not want to pick up a highly-competitive niche for your first blog.

The chances of ranking your content high are close to zero and it will be extremely hard for novice bloggers to compete with giant brands online.

You will get easily discouraged and give up too early.

Among highly-competitive blogging niches are:

  • Finances
  • Health and Fitness
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Lifestyle
  • Productivity
  • Marketing

Note: If you really want to start a blog in one of these niches, you will have to pick up a less general topic within a niche that has a lower competition level.

Rule #2: It should Be Monetizable

No matter how successful your blog is, it should be scalable and monetizable.

In other words, your new blogging business should have a big potential for bringing you a substantial income.

Some blogs with 10k page views a month may earn way more than the blogs with 100k monthly users!

So make sure to pick up the niche that can actually bring you money.

Rule #3: Your Expertise + People’s Demand

Bloggers write a lot!

It would be a bad idea to pick the niche you know nothing about.

Choose a niche that you have some knowledge about and see if it is relevant.

Pro Tip: Use Google search to find other blogs that represent the niche you want to pick. If you can see ads on their pages it means this niche is monetizable.

Always remember this simple rule:

People’s Demand + Your Experience = Profitable Blogging Niche

profitable blogging niche formula

Step 2: Domain Name

Your blog should have a name.

I suggest you use NameCheap (I use it personally) to purchase an affordable domain name for your blog.

1Go to NameCheap and Sign Up

namecheap sighup blogging

2Type in the required domain name and click on the search button.

namecheap available domain name search blogging

Three things to consider when coming up with a domain name:

  1. It should represent your brand
  2. It should be catchy
  3. Ideally, it should include your niche keyword.

Good name: QuickBookSummary.com

Bad name: NonFictionBookSummaries.com

3Go with .com extension

4Click on the “Add to Cart” button and then on “View Cart”.

namecheap add to cart view cart blogging

5Go through a couple of settings, and click on Confirm Order:

namecheap domain purchasing settings blogging
  • Choose a domain registration duration. The longer the period the more credibility you get for your blog from Google.
  • Uncheck WhoisGuard. When this option is checked it sends a strong signal to Google that you have something to hide.

6Fill in personal information and click Continue.

namecheap filling in personal information blogging

7Choose the most convenient payment method and click Continue. 

namecheap domain registration billing options blogging

8Check out with PayPal(in case you choose this option, otherwise do as recommended by NameCheap.)

namecheap check with paypal account blogging

That is it!

Now we need get your blog a reputable and affordable web hosting.

Step 3: Web Hosting

The web hosting we will use is SiteGround.

I host almost all of my blogs on SiteGround.

Ans the reasons are clear:

  • Support – They offer 24/7 live support via phone, email, support ticket, or live chat.
  • Price and Quality – You can get the world’s leading hosting services for as little as 3.95$/month!
  • Speed & Security – Your website will load super fast compared to many other hosts and offer your Fort Knox level security. Security is paramount in blogging.

Now, let’s begin.

1Go to SiteGround and click on Get Started (WordPress Hosting):

siteground wordpress hosting get started blogging

2Choose the StartUp plan:

siteground wordpress hosting plan Startup blogging

It is perfect for new blogs.

However, if you are serious about your new online business you may consider choosing GrowBig or even GoGeek options.

3Check “I already have a domain”, type it in and proceed:

siteground webhosting choose domain blogging

4Fill in the Account and Billing information then click Pay Now:

siteground hosting step 3 review and complete blogging

Note: I have chosen Period for 36 months and always do so. Reason 1: It will cost you much less than billing annually. Reason 2: Same as with the domain registration period, the longer it is the more trustworthiness a new blog receives from Google.

*If you wish to complete your payment via PayPal you may contact the support team, they will help you out.

Now let’s install WordPress on your new blog.

  1. In the “Set up Your Website” section check Start a new website and click on the WordPress logo.
  2. Fill in login details. Go with a very complex Password and an unusual Username for security purposes. Save them somewhere and never lose.
  3. Click Confirm.
  4. In the “Enhance your account” section you may check or uncheck the website scanning option. (Depends on your security preferences)
  5. Click Confirm.
  6. Check the agreement box and click on Complete Setup:
siteground new startup hosting account setup blogging

Now you can Proceed to Customer Area:

domain setup proceed to customer area blogging

Now we may connect your Web Host and Domain Name.

It is super easy.

Step 4: Web Host and Domain Name Connection

1Go back to NameCheap and click on Account-Dashboard. Find your domain name and click on the “Manage” button.

namecheap dashboard manage domain blogging

2Find the Nameservers section(We are gonna change these names).

namecheap custom dns blogging

Note: Make sure you choose “Custom DNS” in the drop-down menu.

3Head over to SiteGround, sign in to your account, then proceed to My Accounts – Go to Cpanel

siteground my accounts go to cpanel blogging

Look at Nameservers section:

siteground cpanel nameservers blogging

4Copy the first name in the Name Servers section, go back to NameCheap Nameservers, and replace the first NameCheap name with the one you copied. Repeat the process with the second name.

The result will be:

namecheap nameservers change blogging

Click Save (The green check mark at the right side).

Now your new blog is live!

Go check your mailbox.

SiteGround team has sent you a message with important information about your new website.

You can access your brand new blog by clicking on the Admin URL.

email with website admin url blogging

Type in your Username and Password when accessing the website:

wordpress login screen blogging

The final step will help you save time and money on your blog design.

I will show you how to make your blog look professional and visually stunning for less than 50$.

Step 5: Blog Design

I assume that you want your blog to be:

  • Visually appealing
  • Secure
  • and Fast

If so, you need to install a premium WordPress theme.

On this blog, I use GeneratePress theme.

It has tons of pre-made design templates you can install on your website effortlessly.

generatepress site library blogging

(I run this blog on the template called Arctic. It has a clean minimalistic layout and it’s optimized for fast loading.)

Here is a step by step process:

1 Install GeneratePress

  • Go to your WordPress Dashboard and login.
login blogging
  • Go to Appearance – Themes.
appearance themes blogging
  • Click the Add New button next to the title.
themes add new blogging
  • Search for GeneratePress.
search for generatepress blogging
  • Install and activate.
install blogging

2 Purchase GP Premium:

  • Go to this page and click on the “Get it now” button.
generatepress purchase button blogging
  • Click on the “Add to Cart” button.
gp add to cart blogging
  • Fill in the billing information and click “Purchase
gp premium billing information blogging
  • Complete the payment either with PayPal or your Credit Card.

3 Download GP Premium:

Right-click the download button (control + click for Mac users), then save the file to your computer. The file will save as gp-premium.zip.

download blogging

4 Add GP Premium to Your Website

  • From your Dashboard, go to Plugins – Add New.
add new blogging
  • Click  Upload Plugin at the top, browse and select the gp-premium.zip file.
upload blogging
  • Click on Install Now.
install gp premium blogging
  • Go to Appearance – GeneratePress.

Find the Site Library element I mentioned earlier and Activate it. You will then be able to choose the website look you prefer and install it with a couple of clicks.

activate site library element blogging
  • Activate your license key

For instructions on activating your license key refer to this article.

And you are all set!

In the next chapter, I will show you how you can optimize your blog for Google.

WordPress SEO for Bloggers

Now, when you have launched your first website it is the right time to optimize it for Google and other search engines.

In this chapter, I will show you the most important WordPress SEO tricks you need to perform in order to lay a solid foundation for your blogging success.

Starting from…

Site Title And Tagline

The Site title often matches your domain name.

So if your domain name is TheBestBlog.com your site title can be The Best Blog.

It should be short and catchy and ideally include the main keyword that represents your blog niche.

website title blogging

The Tagline can be a slogan or a list of benefits your blog brings to people. It should also include the main keyword that represents your blog.

wordpress settings tagline blogging

Set up SEO-Friendly Permalinks

SEO-friendly permalinks are an important part of the website architecture.

They should be short and keyword-optimized. 

Head over to Settings – ​Permalinks​ and choose ​Post Name​. 

dashboard permalinks postname blogging

Save the changes and you are done.

Note:​ Change the permalinks structure only if you have a brand new blog. 

Create Categories

It is a good practice to sort your blog posts by categories.

If your blog is about MMA you can create different categories, such as:

  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • BJJ
  • Wrestling
  • Strength & Conditioning
  • and so on

Go to Post-Categories and fill in the Name and Slug, then click on “Add New Category

creating new category 1 wordpress seo

Don’t forget to post new content under relevant categories. 

Adjust Reading Settings

Head over to Settings-Reading.

Step 1: Choose what your blog’s homepage will display.

The latest blog posts, or a static page.

If you have the main landing page then go with the second option. Otherwise, choose the first one for showing the readers your blog.

Step 2: Set up the number of posts displayed on one page.

I suggest you go with 5-10 posts per page and a Summary option.

adjusting wordpress reading settings wordpress seo

Install RankMath SEO Plugin

SEO plugins will help you optimize your blog for search engines effortlessly.

RankMath plugin allows you to optimize your WordPress website for Google and other search engines.

RankMath’s Setup Wizard helps all bloggers optimize their site by following simple step by step process.

rankmath setup wizard blogging

It also has a super helpful On-Page SEO tool that shows you the exact adjustments you can do to make your blog post rank higher on Google.

rankmath o page seo blogging

And since we started to talk about blog post optimization let’s take a look at the next chapter that will show you how to create content for your new blog.

Creating Content for Your Blog

Content is king. There is no doubt about that.

If you want your blog to be successful you need to constantly produce high-quality content that brings value to your readers.

In this chapter, I have put a clear blueprint that will help you understand the whole process of website content creation.

The content that actually brings value to people.

Let’s dive right it.

do Quick a Quick Market Research

First of all, you should not be afraid of competition.

The presence of competition is a strong indicator that the niche you picked is profitable.

Also, you can learn a lot from you competitors AND get awesome content ideas for your blog.

  • Check your top 5 competitors blogs
  • Find their best articles
  • Analyze them from the reader’s perspective. What would you improve? What would you add or remove?

Set Clear Goals

It is very important to set up a publishing schedule when you do blogging. Publishing frequency is important.

For beginner bloggers I would not recommend publishing too frequently. The burnout will be inevitable.

Publishing too rarely will not get you anywhere soon.

The reasonable goal would be trying to publish 2-3 blog posts weekly.

Create a Blog Post Hit list

A blog post hit list is a list of article topics you plan to publish on your blog.

Ideally, I recommend you come up with 30 topics.

Competitor analysis and niche experience will help you with this process. Normally this process takes about 1 hour.

the article hit list blogging

Create A Content Calendar

The content calendar will help you stay organized avoid procrastination.

It is super important especially at the first stage of your blogging journey since you have many other responsibilities including your main job.

The basic content calendar can look like this:

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
1st Blog PostSocial Media MarketingYouTube Marketing2nd Blog PostQ&As and ForumsSocial Media MarketingContent Ideas Generation

Now, I will show how to write articles that can rank high in search and bring constant traffic to your blog.

Writing a Perfect Blog Post

Statistics can sound overwhelming for beginner bloggers, there are more than 70 million blog posts that are being published every single month. (Source)

What should it tell you?

If you want to stand out and become a really successful blogger in your niche you need to produce killer content. Every blog post should rock!

In this chapter, I will show you exactly how to write perfect posts for your blog.

Let’s begin.

Write an Amazing Headline

Headlines play a huge role in blogging.

You need to write great headlines for your blog posts because they will help you increase website traffic.

Here are simple tricks you can do with your article headlines:

  • Mention a benefit. People should have a clear reason for clicking on the headline.
  • Add a number. Numbers help attract more clicks.
  • Use Parentheses and Brackets. They make your headlines stand out.
  • Make them emotional. Emotions drive more clicks.
a great article headline blogging

Master The Article Introduction

The purpose of the article introduction is to persuade people to read the rest of the article.

There are certain strategies you can use to make your introduction more appealing to your readers.

  • Make it short. No one wants to read the long lead.
  • Make the first sentence count. Start talking to the reader from the very first sentence.
  • List the things people will see in the article. This makes them feel more interested in your content.
nikitashevchenko article introduction blogging

Craft a Great Copy

The article body includes the main content of you blog post.

It is necessary to make it as quality as possible.

Use the following tips:

  • Clear Structure. Use subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists. It helps the reader find relevant information faster.
  • Short paragraphs and sentences. They make the reading process more pleasant. People don’t like to read huge blocks of text.
  • Avoid big words. Write for the 9th graders.
  • Add useful tips and actionable strategies. This practice will elevate content quality and improve the article ranking position.
  • Add images and/or videos. They will increase the time spent on page (dwell time) which is great for SEO.

Writing quality blog posts is one part of the game.

Another one is marketing and promotion..

In the next chapter, I am going to show you how to promote your blog the right way.

Let’s dive in.

Top Blog Promotion Techniques

Crafting awesome articles for your blog is only half the battle.

You need to know how to promote your blog and content.

In this chapter, you will find out a couple of the finest strategies you can use to get your blog recognized and drive serious traffic to it.

Let’s find out what they are.

Utilize Guest Posting

The Bad News – It takes a substantial amount of time to become a recognized blogger in your niche, and drive massive traffic to your blog.

The Good News – Guest posting can speed up the process drammatically!

You can use popular industry blogs with an already-established audience and write quality guest posts for them.

It will bring you:

  1. Traffic
  2. Authority
  3. Backlinks

Every serious blog that accepts guest posts has very strict guest blogging guidelines so make sure your read them very carefully and follow them.

french bulldog guest post guidelines blogging

Participate in Quora and Industry Forums

These places will help you spread an additional word out.

No spam is allowed!

You can become a helpful member at the first place, and only then use these platforms to drive traffic to your own blog.

quora answer by nikitashevchenko blogging

Syndicate Your Content

Content syndication is the practice of publishing already-existing pieces of content on social networks, media platforms, and other websites across the web.

It can be a highly rewarding practice because it will allow you to tap into new audience that never had a chance to see your content before.

Pro Tip: It is possible that the syndicated piece of content may outrank the original blog post. Always link back to the original piece of content from your blog.

This practice can also help you stay away from Google penalties. (Source)

Some of the best places for syndicating your content are:

  • Medium
  • LinkedIn
  • SlideShare
  • Quora
content syndication blogging

This guide would not be complete without a couple of great monetization techniques you can use to earn money from blogging.

It is probably the funnest part because you can reap the rewards of your labor

Monetize Your Blog With These 3 Methods

It would be a true waste of time and resources if you built a popular blog and not monetize it.

This chapter covers three most popular and beginner-friendly blog monetization strategies.

They are ads, affiliate commissions, and personal products.

Let’s get started.

Advertise on your blog

Google Adsense

Google AdSense is an ad program run by Google.

Bloggers can earn money by joining the Google Network and placing ad banners on their websites.

Traffic Requirement: There is no traffic minimum.

Ezoic ads

It is a technology platform for bloggers that improves website ad earnings, site speed, & UX using artificial intelligence to streamline the management of ads.

In other words, this platform will help you earn money blogging.

Traffic Requirement: You need to have at least 10k visits/month to join this platform.

AdThrive

This ad network is one of the highest-paid ad monetization networks out there.

It is even possible to replace(and exceed) your main income stream.

 Traffic Requirement: You need to have at least 100k visits/month to join this platform.

Affiliate marketing

This blog monetization technique is one of my favorites.

The principle is simple:

You earn money by promoting other companies’ products.

The step by step process looks like this:

  1. You join an affiliate program run by a company or an affiliate network.
  2. You get special affiliate links and place them on your blog.
  3. If someone purchases the product after clicking your affiliate link you earn money.

That’s it!

Let me give you an example:

The blog post you are reading now contains a couple of affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase a product you like (web host, domain name, or a premium WordPress theme) I will receive a small commission with no additional cost to you.

Affiliate marketing can bring you really good money but nothing can compare with selling your own products.

Sell Your Own Products

It is the hardest way to earn from blogging but it is also the most profitable one.

You need to create your own products and sell them to your audience.

You can sell many things:

  • Courses
  • eBooks and Audiobooks
  • Physical products
  • Paid memberships
  • Services

The earning potential is virtually limitless.

To help you kickstart your blogging business I have prepared two bonus chapters that compliment the main chapters in this guide.

Bonus Chapter #1: Blog Post Templates

The pre-made blog post templates I included in this bonus chapter will help you scale your content marketing process dramatically.

In fact, they are the biggest single reason why I was able to double the number of articles on my blogs.

And now you can use them too!

Let’s check them out.

The A vs. B Post

This blog post type is very common especially among affiliate marketers.

Basically, your write a review about two different products or services by listing their features, pros and cons.

Feel free to use the template below. I hope it will help you.

the a vs b post template blogging

The Detailed Guide

This kind of article is very popular in blogging.

You pick up a topic and write a comprehensive, in-depth blog post on it.

The template below can be really useful.

the detailed guide post template blogging

The list Post

This is probably the most widely-used article type in blogging.

I am sure you have seen a lot of list posts before.

Now it is time to find out how to write one!

Use this template to optimize the writing process.

the long list post template blogging

The next chapter includes some of the finest blogging tools you can find.

Bonus Chapter #2: 10 Best Blogging Tools

All pro bloggers use special tools that help them optimize their working process and produce content in a more efficient way.

Now you will be able to see the exact tools they are using and put them to work for you!

In this chapter, I have listed the top ten blogging tools that will allow you to beat the competition and thrive.

Let’s see what they are.

  1. RankMath. I have already mentioned this plugin here. It is one of the best SEO and blogging tools that will make your life way easier.
  2. Grammarly. This program will correct your grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.
  3. Canva. You will be able to create stunning images for your blog.
  4. Unsplash. You can download some nice royalty-free images from this website.
  5. Ahrefs. It is one of the best paid tools for blogging and online marketing.
  6. BuzzSumo. This resource makes content marketing and blogging much easier.
  7. Google Analytics. You can track a lot of important website data with this tool.
  8. Similar Web. Find out where the blog traffic comes from.
  9. Google Docs. This blogging tool makes the draft writing process fast and smooth.
  10. Sassy Social Share. Help people share your blog content by installing this lightweight social sharing plugin on your website.

And this is it!

Now you know exactly how to start blogging, succeed, and turn it into a profitable business.


What are you expecting from blogging?

Leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.

Also, add me on LinkedIn or follow me on Instagram, I share some useful stuff there 😉

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