Ohh..hi there, you are actually here…ooo.. This is awkward… So this is actually happening…
So..blogging….you wanna, knew, know, knows, learn, learning do…ummm….(parch parch).
Is it getting hotter here? Maybe I should take off my jacket!
Don’t mind me, I’m just messing with you.
So I have been thinking lately and I figured some of my readers and clients—including you—might be interested in starting a blog. If that’s the case, I might as well tell you how to start one, at least I’ve got that locked down.
This course contains a definitive guide for beginners interested in blogging and starting a blog for themselves—from what a blog is, why you should start a blog in 2020, how to benefit from blogging, what you need to start a blog by yourself in 2020, where and how much to start a blog, as well as other things you need to do to launch a successful blog and have a productive blogging journey.
So if you are interested in starting a blog of your own, buckle up. I’m gonna try to show you how to set up one by yourself.
What is a Blog?
A blog is basically a website that you can use to reflect, share opinions, and discuss various topics in the form of blog posts, sometimes letting readers comment on your posts.
And if you own a blog, you are pretty much gonna be called a “blogger”. Pfft, go figures! But is that a bad thing? On the contrary, as long as you are not selling crack, being stupid, or an ass, then you have got nothing to worry about.
Being a blogger is pretty much amazing, it’s life-changing and in a good way. A blogger is more or less a celebrity, with a lesser spotlight on them, well…. Okay, they are public figures (happy?) to their fans readers.
Aside from the ups and downs of 2020, if you were to start a blog this 2020, it most likely won’t end up being a bad decision. In fact! It might even rank number one on your list of best decisions made in 2020. The beauty of blogging is that you can either start one for free or spend a little money to get something better.
You might be wondering if blogging is for you. To answer that, let’s see why people start their own blogs—and why you should too.
Why should you start a blog in 2020?
Many people start a blog for all kinds of reasons. Here are the top reasons for starting a blog:
- To have fun
- To entertain
- To collect and share your thoughts and experience
- To develop your writing skills
- To network
- To share information
- To teach
- To learn and grow
- To make money
- To offer freelance services
- To build a business
- To build your brand
- To work from home
I believe everybody should write a book. I even have a saying for that;
“At some point in your life, you’ve just gotta write a book to teach others…to pass down knowledge…You might not be able to change the world, but you will be able to change individual worlds”. Pretty cool, eh?
But so also do I believe that everyone should own a blog of some sort—and it’s for the same reason (no, not selling crack, silly): sharing ideas—just as the TEDx *motto is* ideas worth sharing.
Basically the main reason behind writing a book, blogging, or sharing your ideas is to entertain or inform, or both—which “drum roll” is the same reason why you talk to anybody.
A lot of us want to write a book about something, but never get started. But thanks to blogging, you don’t have to wait to write a book to share your ideas!
Blogging has evolved in recent years that you can do that via writing (old fashioned blogging), talking (podcasts), and even videos (vlogging). So you just need to pick what suits your style best. For me, I’m currently the old fashioned writing blogger—but I’m eyeing the others because it seems that’s where the money’s at.
Can you still start a blog in 2020?
Black or White, Introvert or Extrovert, Male or Female, Young or Old, Smart or Not Smart, Professional or Unskilled, Entrepreneur, Employed or Unemployed, Stay at home Dad or Mom, etc; it doesn’t matter who you are—if you love to share information and ideas in the form of writing, illustrations, images, videos or audios, etc—congratulations, you can start a blog in 2020!
There are practically millions of blogs out there; you might think you are too late to have one. But that is not the case. With an increasingly online society, more and more of the mainstream population are browsing the Internet every day and spending at least part of that time reading blogs. What does that mean for you?
It means this is the best time for you to own a blog if you don’t already, and share your ideas, beliefs, knowledge, expertise, advice, experiences, stories, works, books, products, services, etc; because newsflash—there is always room for another new blog, and that also means yours! And your possible audience is pretty big—including the billions of people in the world who currently use the Internet.
Allow me to drive this point home with this hot mind-blowing statement I have been working on right from my mother’s womb. Please read it carefully:
“If there is any right time to start a blog, it’s now!”
Err, maybe not from my mother’s room per se… But you get the idea.
If you are wondering why will anybody give a fvck about what you have to say? Well, because what you have to say, what your point of view or thought is, what is cooking up in your mind, what you want to share, how you want to share it, regarding any topic or area of interests, ONLY YOU can say it the way you can—unless you feel what you have to say doesn’t matter?
Nobody is going to simplify Pythagoreans’ theorem, talk about the kind of mistakes that most newbie graphic designers make, the best way to manage finances, how to take care of babies and kids, the kind of pitfalls in a budding relationship, what could go wrong when you eat beans and boiled eggs in the morning, what could go wrong when you fart in front of your boss, etc—with the same intensity, passion, mindset, and drive that you will do it.
Because you are unique, therefore, what you have to say, how you will say it, from what angle you will say it, your style of saying it, will be unique! It will be mind-blowing!! It will be (wait for it) legendary!!!
And there are so many people out there waiting and counting on you to start a blog, just so you can touch their lives—even in the littlest way imaginable. Hey! Some will even be willing to pay you or donate some money to you for this. No pressure.
Once you’ve published your blog in 2020, it’s out on the Internet for all to see, read, and adore. You now have a virtual place to connect with like-minded people for an open dialogue about your common interests, aesthetics, or style of work. And you get to write or say what you want in an informal tone, as you may have already noticed me doing all through this post.
You might be thinking, ‘But I already do all that on social media, duh. So what’s the big deal?’ Well good for you, but let’s briefly look into both.
Blogging vs Social Media
Okay, this is basically me trying to compare you having your own place (i.e. a blog) over crashing in your friend’s (or even your parent’s) place (i.e. social media). In the latter, you are bound by rules! You don’t have CONTROL.
You might have the illusion of control, but the truth is you have to play by their rules. You eat what you are given, you take permission to do almost anything, like own a pet, throw a party, bring a girl over—I’m sure you get the point. Heck, you could be kicked out anytime (because your friend’s girlfriend says so) and they won’t owe you any explanation.
Social media give you the illusion that you are in control, you share what you want, whenever you want “as long as you are not violating any rules” and accumulate as many friends or followers “as allowed”, you may or may not be allowed to simply change your personal or page name. Get the point?
Your account can get suspended, banned, or deleted along with all those many hard-earned followers and page likes (which some people even buy with money!), and there is nothing you can do anything about it. You may try, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
And God forbid after you spend so much time, energy, and resources to get an established base on a social media platform, and the next thing it becomes the next mySpace or Google plus. Poof! All that gone, into thin air, just like that.
A big mistake people make is to build their hub on a platform that they don’t own, for example, on a Facebook page—Joy Deangdeelert Cho//Joanna Penn.
Note: However, don’t neglect social media, instead use it for what it is, a tool; a tool to source readers to your blog.
How to Benefit from Blogging
Okay, so we’ve talked about why you should start a blog, now. Let’s look into what’s in it for you if you start a blog. What can you benefit from blogging? Why would you spend money on something if you have nothing to gain, no ROI, right?
Apart from the gratification, fame—okay, let’s not get carried away…How about something more subtle, say, popularity…That works right?—and self-fulfilment that you derive from having people read or listen to what you have to say and actually have life-changing impacts on them, however little it may be (I make people laugh with my commentaries and comedy series on this blog), in one way or the other, there are some other benefits.
When you blog about a topic or area of interest, people begin to recognize you and words like reliable, credible, expertise, authority, professional, etc begin to resonate with your persona Congrats, you can hang your superman’s cape now.
Did you know that you could build a sustainable and full-time business out of your blog (like I do with my business blog) by selling your products such as books, courses, clothing line, soaps, swags, etc and/or your services such as freelancing, events management, delivery services, maintenance, consultation, coaching, digital marketing, virtual assistant, etc, or getting paid or earning commissions for promoting and recommending others’. Which is best for you will depend on your blog, your expertise, and your situation.
As of 2020, Jon Morrow makes at least $10,000 for each public speaking gig and makes up to $100,000 monthly thanks to the recognition and sales accrued over time from his blog smartblogger.com, The likes of Linda Ikeji, Uche Eze (BellaNaija), etc built businesses raking millions of nairas off their blogs. Blogs like The Penny Hoarder, Moz, and Lifehacker power businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
There are a handful of people who can make a full-time living blogging, and they work really hard to get there. But if you go into it for that reason alone, readers can sense that you are in it for the stats or the money and you might not make it that far.
However, you must note that starting a blog from scratch is just like starting any other business. Yes, those businesses are wildly different, but the first few years are usually the same story: low income, lots of stress, big learning curve, and even chances of failure.
It takes time (months to years “to lifetime”) to yield “reasonable” income. So it’s best to start with blogging for fun and work up towards earning passive income from your blog. Jon Morrow says it might take 3-6 years to make enough money from blogging to quit your job.
Will you be able to endure the process and slow learning curve? Can you put in your time and efforts, and yes ego in it? You have to ask yourself these questions if you really want to go into blogging because it’s a pretty long and bumpy ride.
Hope I’ve not scared you away?
If you have decided to develop a tough skin and still willing to shoot your shot with blogging, then let’s begin—I know right, with all that is already written, you’d think I should be rounding up, not beginning—pfft! What to do?
What do you need to start a blog by yourself?
As a new time blogger, with a low budget, you are usually advised to set up your blog by yourself. It’s pretty straightforward and by doing it yourself, you get to spend less—$47.40 (about ₦19k) in the case of this tutorial. But if you want something very customized or professional, then you will have to hire someone (like me) to set it up for you for a fee.
Alright, let me quickly tell you what you will need (and do) to set up a blog by yourself.
1. Pick a niche
A niche is a fancy word for what you are blogging about. It is the topic or category or area of interest that you decide to focus your blog on.
To pick a niche, some big names in the game say you should ask yourself, can you write 100 posts on what you want to blog about?
You need to ask yourself are you blogging for passion (like a hobby) or money, or both. Of course, we all like to earn money, most especially money from our passion, but there are some niches that won’t earn you “enough” money. I have two blogs—one for my hobby (to have fun) and the other for business. So, what I blog about on both blogs differ and written in line with the purpose behind them. But hey! I actually want to make money from both blogs. So there is no right or wrong answer.
If you want to start a blog in 2020, you should blog about something you are passionate about. It can be politics, sports, food, stories, poetry, relationship, food, lifestyle, diseases, parenting, business, music, chemistry, physics, even guns, etc. You don’t need to be well-informed or an authority in the topic from start—in the long run, it will grow on you.
2. Choose a blogging platform
You need to get a platform for blogging. There are a lot out there but the most popular ones are probably WordPress and Blogger (BlogSpot). So fvck it! Let’s just roll with it.
The platform you choose mainly depends on if you want a free blog or you are willing to spend some money on it. You need to decide whether you want to be spending a few bucks on your blog or you want to *pretend* you don’t have money and do the whole free blogging thing—which in my opinion is pretty much the same thing as using social media.
Unless you are a child or you are blogging for personal writing, as a hobby, or just for trying out sake’s and you are okay with having sub-domains like .wordpress.com and .blogger.com added to your blog address—meaning you’re not serious about it—then you should consider spending a few bucks on setting up a professional or “reasonable” self-hosted WordPress blog for yourself, with your chosen domain name (e.g. martinswrites.com) and so many potential features.
Otherwise, you are better off using social media. This is because free blogging platforms are just as limiting as social media. The take-home word here is “control”. It’s best to spend a few nairas on owning a professional blog you can control.
You have control when you have a self-hosted WordPress blog and there are very minimal restrictions, such as: don’t trample on someone’s reputation, use someone else’s identity, trademarks, or copyrighted materials without permission, don’t share illicit contents, or do anything illegal, etc. You know, all those legally implicating stuff.
But in most cases, you still get a “pretty please” message to take down that content, after all, it’s your own website! Like your own place, you won’t get kicked out as long as you keep paying your rent.
When you pay for something, the seller is accountable to you, not the other way around as is the case of using a free platform.
Luckily, you can always move to the paid WordPress platform when you have chosen to be serious.
If you’ve chosen to lose some changes from your bank account to start a blog—trust me, you won’t go hungry—then the first thing you want to do is buy a domain and hosting.
3. Buy a domain name and hosting
But what’s a domain and hosting, and what is a self-hosted WordPress blog?
- A domain name simply put is your blog address; it’s the link that is typed into a browser to get to your blog. E.g. martinsblogger.com is my domain name. Basically you will want to go for a dotcom domain name. There are others like .net, .org, .co.uk, etc. Domains names are paid for on a yearly basis.
- A web hosting is a rented space on the internet where your blog content is stored. I like to see it as a folder on a company’s large computer (called a server) where you upload/store all your blog’s content—and pay the registrar a monthly, trimonthly, biannual, or annual fee to keep your folder there.
- WordPress is a CMS software. CMS means “Content Management System”. It’s a powerful, popular, and flexible software for building blogs and websites of all sorts.
- A self-hosted WordPress blog is a blog that has been set up by yourself on a hosting space you bought which is also connected to your domain name. Don’t worry, you will learn that shortly.
Where and How much to start a blog?
The best place where you can get a domain name and hosting to start your blog is Dreamhost. As a starter blogger, it’s advisable to go for their shared hosting or WordPress hosting plans, and the cheapest plan—and adopt the annual payment cycle.
With just approximately $50, you can get a .com domain name and good hosting for your blog from Dreamhost if you opt for their shared starter hosting plan. They are highly recommended among their peers, and their shared starter hosting plan is great for new bloggers.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Dreamhost, and will receive a commission if you sign up through my referral link. This is at no additional cost to you, and you will get great pricing and a free domain name through my link.
==> Click on the Get Started button.
==> Select the Shared Starter plan by clicking the Sign Up Now button below its listed features.
Note: Ensure the blue toggle just below the Choose Your Hosting Plan heading is set at Yearly Plans as in the image below.
==> On the next page, you will notice the total price you are to pay at the right bottom corner of your screen —which is $47.40 (about ₦19,000) only.
==> Chose the Register a new domain option and enter the dotcom domain you have chosen for your blog (e.g. martinswrites.com) in the field provided and click the search icon.
==> Dreamhost will check if the domain name is available (i.e. not already registered by someone else). If it’s still available, a congrats message and an ADD FOR $0.00 button will come up. Click on the button to add your domain name to the order.
==> Next, you will be taken to the final checkout page for account setup and payment.
==> You may notice that the price at the right corner has raised significantly from the $47.40 to $70+. This is because of some automatically added OPTIONAL features. If you scroll down, you will notice ADDITIONAL OPTIONS before the Submit Order button.
As in the image below, simply untick: DreamShield Protection priced at $3.00/mo, DreamHost Email priced at $19.99/yr per mailbox Professional, and the G Suite – Free 30-day trial Starting from $6/mo—they are optional features which means you can do without them unless you are absolutely sure you need them or can afford it. Removing all these will return your order cost back to $47.40.
==> Note: As in the image below, ensure you tick the Pre-install WordPress – Free option. This will ensure Dreamhost automatically install WordPress and have your blog set up for you so you don’t have to do it yourself.
==> You will be required to choose a payment option (Credit card or PayPal) and fill in your billing information. If you select the credit card payment option, you will be required to enter your card details: Name on card, card number, card expiration date, and the 3-digit security or CVV code usually at the back of your card. Cards supported are MasterCard, Visa card, AMEX, and Discover. You can use your Nigerian MasterCard or visa card to make the payment.
Note: If you have any difficulty making international payments, you can acquire Virtual Debit Cards on the internet. A virtual card is a digital debit card that you can top-up/fund—usually a minimum of $10—and use to make payments online. Just like your regular physical card, it has your name, card number, expiry date, and CVV.
By now you may be familiar with Flutterwave. Well, Flutterwave has an app on Google playstore called Barter (Barter by Flutterwave). With the app you can create and fund Virtual cards easily—they usually issue Mastercard and Visa cards. When you download the app, you can fund it using any of your physical Nigerian debit (ATM) card, be it Mastercard, Visa, or Verve. Then you use it to make payments online.
Africa wallet and FxKhudi are also good apps to get virtual cards—but I’m partial to Barter. It’s the oldest in the industry and their dollar-naira rates are cheaper compared to others
==> Apart from entering your card info, you will be required to enter your billing address.
==> Then, enter your signup details: your email, your name, and phone number. You can also signup with Google in a click using the Signup with Google button.
==> Finally, confirm all the information you have provided and click the Submit Order button.
==> Your order will be processed, the equivalent amount for $47.40 deducted from your card, and your account will be created with your login credential sent to your email address.
Note: Usually, Dreamhost keeps a new account under review for 24-48 hours, during which you won’t be able to do anything. But once your account is approved, you will be able to log in and access your Dreamhost hosting dashboard.
==> Now you can access your WordPress blog by clicking the Open WordPress Editor button in the blue Log In to WordPress box.
Cheers! That’s all!! Your blog is successfully created!!! You and your friends can now access it with your domain name.
Note: You can always log in to your blog by adding /wp-login.php or /wp-admin to your domain name. E.g. yourblogname.com/wp-admin.
Now that your blog is ready and working. There are a couple of things—kinda a lot—that you’re gonna be doing before you publish your first blog post. Things like learning how to post, create categories, writing and formatting your posts, setting your blog permalinks, adding plugins, finding a beautiful theme for your blog, setting up an email subscription (newsletters), getting traffic (readers) to your blog, various means to monetize your blog, etc.
I can’t cover all that in this post, but I have written a FREE 7-DAYS EMAIL COURSE on it. This free email course will walk you through 7 day-to-day stages to get you started on the right foot—and after completing it, you will receive some tips, support, and recommendations from time to time from me to help you in your blogging journey. If you subscribe below, you will start receiving them in your inbox.
Here’s the course outline:
Day 1: A welcome email
Day 2: 5 Things to do after installing WordPress
Day 3: How to install plugins and themes
Day 4: How to add content to your blog
Day 5: How to get traffic to your new blog
Day 6: Why you need an email list
Day 7: How to make money from your blog