Last Updated: January 22, 2021
Home » Blog Posts » Blogging

Blogging 101 – How To Start A Successful Blog in 2021

In this Blogging 101 guide you'll discover 17 tips for starting a successful blog in 2021.

Starting a blog is tough - the competition is intense and it's worse now than it was even just 5 years ago. These 17 tips will help you break through the competition and establish a successful blog.

But before we start, I'm going to help you choose a blogging platform.

blogging 101

1. Blogging 101 - Choosing a Blogging Platform

A blogging platform is software or a service that allows you to publish your content to the web.

There are many thing to consider when choosing a blogging platform, such as:

  • ease of use
  • mobile responsiveness
  • whether you can run third party ads
  • integration with google analytics
  • quality of drag and drop editor
  • number and quality of included templates
  • availability of blogging tools and extensions
  • design options
  • integration with third party apps
  • whether or not coding is required
  • ability to export content to another blogging platform
  • whether or not it comes with SEO features
  • whether or not it is beginner-friendly
  • whether it has ecommerce functionality
  • whether it comes with built-in analytics

But in this high-level comparison, I’m going to focus on just five questions:

  1. Does the blogging platform host your blog or do you have to self-host?
  2. Does the platform only offer a sub-domain or can you use your own domain?
  3. Does the platform offer free accounts or paid only?
  4. What will your URL look like?
  5. Will the platform run ads on your blog?

Let's look at 9 different blogging platforms in terms of the above five factors:

  • Wix
  • Tumblr
  • Blogger
  • Typepad
  • Joomla
  • Weebly
  • Squarespace
  • WordPress dot com
  • WordPress dot org

Wix

wix

- Do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes, they host your blog

- Subdomain only?

With a free account you only get a sub-domain. But with a paid plan you can use your own domain

- Free account or paid only?

Wix has both free and paid plans. With the free plan, Wix ads appear on every page and a Wix favicon appears in the URL

- What will your URL look like?

With a free plan, your URL looks like this: www.username.wix.com/sitename

With a paid plan, your website address looks like this: www.yourdomain.com

- Will the platform run ads on your blog?

Yes, Wix runs its own ads on the free account.

Tumblr

blogging 101  - tumblr

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Your blog is hosted on their servers.

- subdomain only?

You can have sub-domain or custom domain

- free account or paid only?

All accounts are free

- what will your URL look like?

Your URL or website address will look like this: yourblog.tumblr.com

Or, if you connect your own domain, it will like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

No, Tumblr doesn't run ads on your blog

Blogger

blogger

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes, Blogger hosts your blog on their servers

- subdomain only?

You can have either a subdomain or you can use your own domain.

- free account or paid only?

All accounts are free

- what will your URL look like?

Your URL will look like this: yourblog.blogspot.com

Or, if you add your own domain, it will look like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

No.

Typepad

blogging 101  - typepad

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes, they host your blog on their servers

- subdomain only?

With all Typepad plans you can register a custom domain name and use it for all blogs in your account

- free account or paid only?

No free plans but all plans have a 14 day free trial

- what will your URL look like?

Your URL will look like this: example.typepad.com

But if you add your own domain, your URL will look like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

No, Typepad does not place advertisements on your website

Joomla

joomla - blogging 101

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Joomla is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) for publishing web content on websites. In terms of the platforms being compared in this article, Joomla is most like WordPress dot org. 

In other words, it is a software designed to be used on your own self-hosted website.

- subdomain only?

When you use Joomla, the domain is entirely yours (i.e. no need for a subdomain sitting on someone else's domain)

- free account or paid only?

Joomla is free to use. It is a content management system (CMS) that is 100% free to install and use on the web host of your choice.

- what will your URL look like?

Your URL will look like this: your domain.com 

The top level domain (e.g. .org, .biz. .me etc) can be any TLD that you choose

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

Nope - the Joomla software sits on your web host account so you control what appears on your blog

Weebly

weebly - blogging 101

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes, Weebly hosts your blog on their servers

- subdomain only?

By default, your URL will be a subdomain of Weebly. But if you have a paid plan, you can use your own domain.

- free account or paid only?

Weebly has a free plan:

  • no custom domain
  • includes most of the features  in the $7 p/month plan

Weebly paid plans:

  • $7 p/month
  • $15 p/month
  • $30 p/month

- what will your URL look like?

On a free plan, your URL will look like this: yourdomain.weebly.com

On a paid plan, you can add your own domain, in which case your URL would look like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

On the free plan, Weebly will insert a ‘Powered by Weebly’ ad at the foot of each blog post.

Squarespace

squarespace

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes - all Squarespace plans include hosting for your site and its content and unlimited bandwidth and storage

- subdomain only?

By default, your blog sits on a Squarespace subdomain. 

But if you own a domain from a third-party provider, you can transfer it to Squarespace.

Alternatively, you can also use domain mapping to map a domain hosted by a third party on to your SquareSpace account. In both cases your URL would end up looking like this: yourdomain.com

- free account or paid only?

There are no free Squarespace plans but all paid plans have a 14 day free trial.

  • Personal - $14 p/month
  • Business - $25 p/month
  • BASIC Commerce - $34 p/month
  • ADVANCED Commerce - $52 p/month

- what will your URL look like?

By default, your URL will look like this: yoursiteid.squarespace.com

If you use your own domain, your website address will look like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

No, Squarespace does not run its own ads on your blog.

WordPress dot com

WordPress dot com

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

Yes, your blog is hosted on their servers

- subdomain only?

The free account comes with a sub-domain.

But you can add a domain to your WordPress.com account for a small annual fee.

  • registering and mapping a new domain to your account = $14.97 per year
  • mapping a domain you already own to your WordPress blog = $9.97 per year

- free account or paid only?

WordPress dot com offers both free and paid accounts.

Free account:

  • max of 3 Gb of storage
  • WordPress dot com displays ads on your blog

Paid Accounts

  • Personal - $5 p/month
  • Premium - $10 p/month
  • Business - $33 p/month
  • eCommerce - $59 p/month

- what will your URL look like?

On the free plan, your URL would look like this: yoursite.wordpress.com

On a paid plan, if you add your own domain, your website address would look like this: yourdomain.com

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

Yes, on the free plan, WP will run ads on your site.

WordPress dot org

- do they host your blog or do you have to self-host?

No - you have to host your website on your own web hosting service. Using WordPress dot org means installing the WordPress blogging platform on your server.

- subdomain only?

When you use WordPress dot org, the domain is entirely yours (i.e. no need for a subdomain sitting on someone else's domain)

- free account or paid only?

WordPress dot org is free to use. It is a content management system (CMS) that is 100% free to install and use on the web host of your choice.

- what will your URL look like?

Your URL will look like this: yourdomain.com 

(Note that the top level domain [e.g. .org, .biz. .me etc] can be any TLD that you choose).

- will the platform run ads on your blog?

No - the WordPress software sits on your web host account and you control what appears on your blog

2. Seventeen Blogging 101 Tips

#1 - Use WordPress

The blogging platform you use is crucial to your success.

WordPress is far and away the most popular blogging platform. In the US 50% of bloggers prefer WordPress over any other platform. According to Code In WP, WordPress now runs a staggering 30% of the Internet.

This means that when you use WordPress you're joining a massive eco-system that has developed more plugins and add-ons than any other platform out there. And most of them are free!

So this is your first Blogging 101 action step: create a self-hosted WordPress website.

#2 - Do Some Blogger Outreach

Blogging 101 tip #2 is 'connect with people'.

Blogging expert Jon Morrow tells the story of how he failed with his first blog. And his second. Finally, he decided to quit blogging altogether.

But before taking down his site, he asked a blogging expert to do a 'post mortem' on his blog site - he wanted to know what he'd done wrong.

The answer, when it came, was simple: "you tried to do it on your own, and that's not how blogging works".

#3 - Brand Your Blog

Visual branding is hugely important in blogging.

Just as you need to find your own niche and your own voice, you also need to find your own visual style - visual elements that your readers come to associate with you and your blog.

Create a visual brand so that when people see one of your blog posts, they'll know its you from the colors, the layout, and the font.

#4 - Learn Copywriting

Copywriting is the art of writing text that pulls your readers in. And on the Internet it's a skill you simply must have. If you don't already have it, you can learn it.

#5 - Learn Email Marketing

Email marketing is the engine house of a successful blog.

Every blogger should be building a list from Day One and learning how to set up email automations and segments based on what your subscribers are interested in, or where they are in the sales funnel.

So start an email list today. Sign up for a free account with ConvertKit, an email marketing service designed specifically for bloggers.

#6 - Do Some Expert Roundup Posts

Expert roundups are the one technique that every blogger (whatever your niche) should focus on.

They quickly get you known by the Influencers in your field and they allow you to tap into massive audiences because the Influencers who share your roundup posts have huge social media followings.

Roundup posts are virtually all I did in my first year of blogging.

#7 - Learn Some Basic Graphic Design

Every blog needs graphic design. It doesn't matter how good your writing is, the appeal of your blog will always be partly visual.

I use Sketchapp to create my blog title graphics and my Infographics and I highly recommend it.

#8 - Do Some Guest Posting

I don't do much guest posting anymore but it was a key strategy in my first year for building confidence, getting myself known and building my list. But it's another  blogging 101 strategy, especially for beginners.

#9 - Do Some Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing where you aim to get endorsements from social media influencers. The focus in Influencer Marketing is changing from 'macro influencers' to 'micro influencers' - people with 1000 to 3000 social media followers.

These influencers know their audience inside out and so if you can collaborate with them, they know exactly how to pitch your offers to their audience.

#10 - Do Some Link Building

In spite of the changes that are sweeping through SEO, link building is still considered one of the top 3 SEO ranking factors in 2021. Simply put, the better your link profile, the higher your blog posts will rank in Google.

Here are some helpful articles:

blogging 101  - guide to email marketing

#11 - Build Your List

An email list is the lifeblood of any blog. Without a list, your blog could disappear with the next major Google algorithm.

List building is about building a community of fans who value your content and will one day purchase your products. This is another key 'blogging 1o1' strategy - it's a must!

#12 - Try Your Hand at Podcasting

Not everyone likes reading. So why not turn your articles into podcasts and reach a completely new audience segment. Or interview experts within your niche.

#13 - Promote Your Blog Post

You should spend at least as much time promoting your blog posts as you do writing them. Some bloggers go further and say you should spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting.

Whatever the ratio, promoting your blog posts is essential. 

repurpose content

#14 - Repurpose Your Content

Your content starts life as a blog post. But if you leave it at that, you're leaving a lot of opportunity on the table. Here are some ways you can take a piece of content and repurpose it into different formats. Each format will appeal to a different audience.

So with this technique you get more mileage out of each piece of content but you also expand your reach.

#16 - Write Better Blog Posts

To succeed in blogging (whatever your niche) you have to stand out from the crowd. And that means you've got to produce unusually good content.

Like anything, it's a skill you can learn. So brushing up on your writing skills is another blogging 101 technique.

#17 - Write List Posts (Listicles)

Blogging 101 tip #17: write 'List Posts'.

List posts are hands down the most popular type of online content. Many bloggers have made their fortunes with this one type of blog post.

Extra Blogging 101 Tip: Do Social Media

Social media is another great way to get your blog noticed. Twitter, in particular, is a fantastic platform for building relationships. Here's a good article on how to use Twitter to connect with your audience and grow a larger following: The Blogger's Guide to Twitter (The Definitive Guide).

Blogging 101: Summing Up

Here again are the 17 tips for starting a successful blog in 2021:

  1. Use WordPress
  2. Do Some Blogger Outreach
  3. Brand Your Blog
  4. Learn Copywriting
  5. Learn Email Marketing
  6. Do Some Expert Roundup Posts
  7. Learn Some Basic Graphic Design
  8. Do Some Guest Posting
  9. Do Some Influencer Marketing
  10. Do Some Link Building
  11. Build Your List
  12. Try Your Hand at Podcasting
  13. Promote Your Blog Post
  14. Repurpose Your Content
  15. Do Some SEO
  16. Write Better Blog Posts
  17. Write List Posts (Listicles)

Rob Powell
Follow Me

4 thoughts on “Blogging 101 – How To Start A Successful Blog in 2021”

  1. Hi incredible resource. I launch my blog FamilyGrowthLife.com. com on 01 October 2017. So this could not have come at a better time. Bookmarking it to use as a handy reference later.

  2. Hi Poovanesh, I’m really glad this was helpful. All the best with your new blog! Best regards, Rob.

  3. I enjoyed this blog post
    I launched my blog last year exactly August 2018 and the real challenge is dedication
    Especially if you have a wife and 2 little kids
    They are sucking your time so I fell like my 1 full year can be squeezed in (I would say) 3 months of work (If I was a single)

    Anyway I enjoy my family life but it comes with a price

  4. Thanks, Sam. It sounds like you’ve put in some hard work – good job. It is hard with family commitments. But well worth it. Keep going! Wishing you all the best, Rob.

Comments are closed.

Share
Tweet
Pin