Unleash the Lead Generation Power of a Blog
Written by Dana Ash-McGinty
Start Your Own Blog, Build Your Brand and Create More Leads!
A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Start a Blog– specifically a WordPress Blog
Glad you made it here! So…you want to know how to start a blog, right? Great idea! Creating a blog should feel AWESOME, not OVERWHELMING.
I spent an unbelievable amount of time learning about blogs when I started my first blog in 2009. Now, I know a ton about creating a blog (and even more about real estate).
I’ll show you the 6 Steps For Creating a Blog.
I promise it’ll be simple, and easy to understand. Oh… and you don’t need to learn any coding. Still with me?
Great! Let’s keep going…
Why Should You Create a Blog?
Let’s break it down.
I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started but, before we jump in, I really want to talk about WHY you should start a blog.
Have you read any blogs lately? Sure you have. Any favorites? I bet you do!
Blogging is one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. This is referred to as “content“.
What is a blogger? It’s YOU sharing your knowledge, thoughts, ideas, and brand on a blog.
Your blog will enable you to “touch” (make contact with) many people– prospective customers and/or clients multiple times to tell your story and deliver your own branded message. (Share your content.)
Your blog will merge your personality with technology. A well written blog has an an eclectic mix of content while reflecting the knowledge, passions, biases, thoughts, and judgments of the writer.
In real estate it’s all about- location, location, location.
On your blog it’s all about- content, content, content. (This is the first step in content marketing.)
See what the experts have to say about content:
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
-Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping
“In a sea of mediocre content, a brave tone can be a big differentiator.”
-Lee Odden, author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers
“If you can take your personality and inject it into the message you share, you’ll be one step ahead in the content marketing game.”
–Jason Miller, Branding/Marketing Expert
The 6 Strategic Benefits of a Blog
- Brand Building and Competitive Differentiation
- Expert Positioning (often creates media opportunities)
- Utilizes SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Direct Communications and Relationship Building
- Vast Niche Marketing Opportunities
- Lead Generation
The key take away is that a blog is a strategic marketing tool that you should be implementing for your brand and in your business. Just remember- regular original content and personality is key!
Blog vs. Website
What’s the difference?
A blog creates a valuable opportunity to connect directly with prospective customers/clients using relevant, frequently updated content.
On the other hand, stand alone websites are typically static (not changing) and impersonal. You’ve seen them, most basic websites are B-O-R-I-N-G! They fail to create a connection and without any updated information, it gives the reader little motivation to return to the website.
Just say NO to BORING websites!
A blog delivering fresh new content on regular intervals will encourage the reader (your audience) to return often. The result creates an opportunity for dialogue, branding, and lead generation.
Sounds good? I hope so.
Ok, we have a lot to cover! Let’s review the 6 steps for creating your blog.
How To Start A Blog in 6 Steps
There’s six main steps to start your blog. If you follow this guide, you’ll have your very own blog set-up in 30 minutes or less.
Step 1 Choose a blogging platform.
Step 2 Find a host.
Step 3 Pick a domain name.
Step 4 Set up your hosting account.
Step 5 Customize your blog.
Step 6 Create a blog post.
The goal of this guide is to help you create your own self-hosted blog.
The goal of your blog is to build your brand, grow your audience, and create a constant flow of targets (opportunities/leads/customers/clients).
I urge you to take the time to thoroughly review this guide. Set aside some time with a coffee or a Diet Cole (hold off on the cocktails for now) and get comfy!
Ok branding genius, let’s get started!
Step 1: Choose a blogging platform
No worries…we’re gonna focus on highly recommended WordPress.
Take a deep breath. Before we start thinking about the design of your new blog (which I will admit is the best part!), we have to discuss blogging platforms.
What is a blogging platform?
A blogging platform is the software or service that you use to publish your content onto the internet.
There are multiple blogging platforms available- Weebly, Blogger, Tumblr, and many, many, more…
WordPress is used by most blogs and websites. With over 90 million active users using WordPress today, this platform is boss! Here’s why:
- FREE to use.
- Super easy to set up.
- Very secure. (WordPress is continuously updating their software.)
- HIGHLY customizable. (There are hundreds of free themes and plugins that add more functionality to your blog.)
While all the blogging platforms will work OK, nothing comes close to matching the flexibility and customization options that WordPress offers. So, we will be going with WordPress!
WordPress has 2 options-
WordPress.com and WordPress.org
The very important one major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is hosting.
Let’s break it down on Who’s Hosting Your Blog?
On WordPress.com, YOU host your own blog.
On WordPress.org, WordPress hosts your blog.
I have one word for you–
Without a doubt, you should self-host your WordPress blog. Hosting is typically only $3-$12 per month. (A very small investment for total control over your content.).
And… Think about this – Do you know any popular blogs using a free blogging platform as part of their domain?
For example- imagine this:
“GeorgetownRealEstate.thereallyfreeblog.com” instead of “GeorgetownRealEstate.com”
“DanaAsh.freeblogonline.com” instead of “DanaAsh.com”
“MiracleCreamProducts.nocostblogonline.com” instead of “MiracleCreamProducts.com”
Free blogging platforms concerns include:
- You don’t have ultimate control over your content – your blogging platform does. At any time and for any reason, a free blogging platform can remove your blog.
- Your web address will be unnecessarily long making it challenging to remember.
- Outside advertisements are permitted on most free blogging platforms, removing any additional monetizing opportunities.
I would suggest starting with a self-hosted WordPress blog from the very beginning. Start from day one. Don’t worry, I will show you how below!
Sidebar: Although we won’t be using Weebly, you may want to take a look at their – The Entrepreneur’s Checklist to Selling Online. Anyways…
Step 2: Find a host.
There’s a lot of choices.
Your web host will store all of the content of your blog and make it visible on-line. Doing a search around the web, you will see that most web hosting is typically $3-$12 per month.
There are tons of web host providers. For approximately the same price, they more or less offer the same service.
Siteground has great performance, is easy to use and is probably the best web host pick for beginners and is recommended for WordPress hosting.
- Premium customer service, reliability and usability
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Custom-built servers to provide the most stable and reliable hosting environment
- Quickly get started with a one-click WordPress install (This is my favorite feature!)
- Expert, in-house technical support provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Unlimited websites, email accounts, and domains – all on one account at an affordable price (Yes, host ALL of your sites with one hosting account!)
- No gimmicks, no contracts, and the option to cancel at any time.
Note: Although I strongly recommend Siteground. It might also be worth taking a look at WP Engine, but feel free to choose another web hosting provider. Just be sure it’s fast, reliable, and offers unlimited storage & bandwidth. (This will help you to avoid problems in the future.)
Step 3: Pick a domain name.
Have any ideas?
Now on to the exciting part, picking your domain name aka web address! This will be where people will find you over and over again. For example Google’s is: Google.com. Your new blog domain name will be YourOwnBlog.com, except you’ll choose what’s going to be behind “YourOwnBlog” (lol). The cost of a domain name is usually less than $20 per year. (Currently, Siteground has domain names for $15.95 with hosting.)
[If you have a real estate related business- you must read: “101+ Smashing Examples For Naming Your Real Estate Blog (or Website)”]
How do I choose a good domain name?
Be sure you choose a domain name that is…
1. Easy to Remember – Don’t choose a name that is tough to spell, very long, or full of dashes.
2. Unique and Descriptive – You want a name that reflects who you are, what you are about and any niche you have. Think branding. Be creative and build a brand you’re excited about!
3. Trustworthy – Domain extensions like “.com”, “.org” or “.net” are very common, with “.com” being the most popular. I highly suggest you choose a “.com” if at all possible. If a “.com” is not available, try “.net”.
Get creative! Spend some time thinking about your blog domain name. Write out several options. Thinking about your business. Your current niche. A niche you want to create. Look at other blogs.
You may need a day or two (or more) before you are confident enough to pull the trigger. That’s ok.
Step 4: Set up your hosting account.
Once on the homepage, choose “WordPress Hosting”.
Step 1 – Choose a Hosting Plan.
SiteGround has three hosting options: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGreek. (The “StartUp” option is perfectly fine for beginners.)
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now. (Choose this one if you’re just getting started! It’s only $4.99/month.)
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the Ultrafast PHP that greatly improves website speed. (I personally have this hosting plan.)
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like more server resources and GIT integration.
Step 2 – Choose a Domain Name.
You can choose to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain. Siteground offers a wide range of domain extensions at awesome prices.
Step 3 – Review options.
You can skip these for now. These are not necessary when just getting started.
Step 4 – Complete the order.
GREAT so far, now be sure to input the remains info. Here are the next steps:
- Add Account Login Information
- Add Contact Information
- Add Payment Information
Step 5 – Install WordPress with One-Click Installation.
Now you will install WordPress. This is will only take minutes with Siteground’s one-click WordPress install. Check out the video below for easy instructions.
The white box after the forward-slash (‘/’) should be left blank. If you add anything — let’s say “WordPress” — your site will be installed to YourOwnBlog.com/WordPress (and you’ll have to type in that full name to access your new blog). If left blank, it’ll be installed straight to your root domain – YourOwnBlog.com (highly recommended option).
Now, you’ll just need to wait a few minutes until WordPress is installed on your domain. You will receive an email notification once it’s done.
Congratulations! You now have your hosting complete!
Step 5: Customize Your Blog.
Let’s get creative!
Log into your new blog. At this stage, you should now have a blank WordPress site installed, along with your admin access username and password written down somewhere.
Start by typing in your new web address (YourOwnBlog.com) to see what your WordPress blog looks like.
Next, log into your admin panel by going to an address: https://YourOwnBlog.com/wp-admin/. (You’ll use the same username and password you chose earlier during the WordPress setup.)
After logging in, you’ll see the welcome page of the admin panel. It should be fairly intuitive after browsing around for a few minutes. All of your major options are located in the right sidebar panel.
You should get familiar with the look and items of the WordPress admin menu.
Here are the various WordPress admin menu items:
- Dashboard – This is the page you see as soon as you log-in to your blog.
- Posts – Here you can create new blog posts to save as a draft or immediately publish.
- Media – A library of all of your uploaded media- images, videos, PDFs, etc.
- Pages – Here you can create new pages to save as a draft or immediately publish.
- Comments – You can see all of your readers comments here.
- Appearance – Allows you to make changes to the look of your blog- themes, colors, fonts, etc.
- Plugins – Here you can add and remove plugins, which add functionality to your blog.
- Users – If you create your content with others, you can add them as users here, so they can add and edit posts. Skip this for now.
- Tools – Additional tools used for publishing posts.
- Settings – Here you can edit your blog’s basic settings.
Let’s take a look at the available “Themes“.
Click the “Appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar, then click “Themes”.
On the next screen, you’ll see several themes already installed. If you don’t like any of those, click the “Add New” button at the top, or the great big “Add New” square to start searching for a theme.
Now, you’ll see tabs where you’ll find featured, popular and brand new themes, as well as a “Feature Filter” and search bar.
When you find a theme you like, click “Install”.
Once the theme has been installed, click “Activate” on the next screen.
You also have the option to purchase a theme- there are lots of great options at StudioPress. But for now, it’s totally reasonable to start with a free WordPress theme.
Now it’s time to create a couple of pages.
You will want to create an About Me and Contact page.
For now, you can keep these pages relatively simple. You can always go back and makes changes to these pages later.
Step 6: Create a blog post.
By now you have fully working WordPress blog on your own domain name. Congratulations – you’ve done a LOT and I’m so happy that you’ve managed to get so far!
Add a New Post
To add a new blog post, click the “Posts” section on the left hand side-menu, then click on “Add New”.
Add the title to your blog post in the top field, and your content goes in the big text box below the title.
Save your draft or publish your content live by using the box menu on the far right of the page. You can even schedule the post to be published later – or make the post private so only friends can see it.
Once published, your new post can be found in the “All Posts” section of the “Posts” tab, so you can edit it at any time.
Adding Headings To Your Blog Post
To add a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.
Try to only use “Heading 1” once within your page (usually at the top), and use “Heading 2” or “Heading 3” for other sections in the copy, as this is better for search engines.
Tip: You can also highlight the text you want to change in your blog post, THEN click on the dropdown menu and select the format you want the text to be in.
You can also bold, italicize, underline and even change the colour of your text in a click or two.
- “B” is for bolding
- “I” is for italics
- “U” is to underline your text
- “A” will open a dropdown menu where you can select font color
As you can see, this is all pretty simple, similar to using Microsoft Word.
Continue to tweak, tweak, tweak your blog. Once you have it the way you want, promote the hell out of it! Let everyone know you have a new blog! Yay!