I run a successful news blog in CapeTown (since 2016); I’ve received numerous emails, questions from readers and visitors on the best way to start a news blog. These guide is the best resource tool you need to read to get started in this year 2020 and beyond.
Here’s how to start a news blog:
- Get a befitting name that conform to your personality
- Get and set up hosting for it
- Install WordPress
- Study and learn your WordPress Dashboard
- Purchase, download and install the perfect design ( WordPress themes)
- Get a Logo ( part of your long term plan, trust me, it’s important)
- Install essential plugins ( mentioned and explained below)
- Get the audience, get to work, write, write, write and get serious
- Learn how to make money in this niche
Table of contents
- My experience / Introduction
- 7 Facts You Should Know
Technical Set up
- I mentioned them above, additional details include
- Design set up and configurations
- Site Maintenance ( introduction And Advanced tips)
- Getting SEO done, including Google SERP indexation
Success Tips / Traffic / Promotion
- Use of Social media
- How to effectively use Facebook
- Networking with influencers for massive exposure and popularity
- How to start a news blog and make money
My experience / Introduction
Owning, running and opening a news blog is one of the best things that has ever happened to me; it also helped gave birth to my other niche blogs out there, including this present one, HaceWeb.
Please know and understand that there is a big difference between a blog and running a website in this niche, you can read more about the latter here on how to start and run it.
The difference being that for a blog, it is basically like a library where you share, post and update latest happenings in the world of news to your readers, subscribers and viewers. It is much more of a personal thing where you are the alpha and omega.
So, for a local news blog, your budget is low and you are well able to keep it efficient and of course run it from the comfort of your house/room.
You have to be experienced to run the website version, however, for a blog, you do not have to be a journalist or an experienced media personality in this niche media industry (though, if you are, it is an added advantage and it means you have your target audience already). To be honest with you, most successful blogs out in this niche are people with zero experience in this industry; all what they had is just the passion and zeal to either expose the wrongs in the society/country, share their feelings and/or probably run it as an entertainment or gossip sort of news niche.
There are countless articles and junks on the internet on how to start and run a news blog, however, most of these writers are ordinary writers who do not have a blog that is running in that niche. They can never share and publish what works and what is not working because they are not actually practicing; as the saying goes, ‘you cannot give what you do not have’.
But before then, let me quickly and briefly share with you some vital truths you need to know and swallow:
7 Facts You Should Know
You can only become a fast rising authority if you focus and major on being local. it is all about finding and getting your audience who are getting to stay and stick throughout the duration of your blog’s lifetime. This means you publish news, write stories and trending topics happening in your country, locality, your niche, business, select demography and or community.
This should be your number one objective when starting out. Who is going to be your audience? who do you really want to reach out to?
Once you are clear about your local target of the intended audience, then start publishing what they need and not what you want.
1 out of about 10 blogs die within the first one year, so starting as a local news blog is a test of your resolution, determination and actual passion of seeing it becoming successful. Don’t just become global, do not try to be the CNN or Aljazeera of a news blog. Those companies are running a full scale business and they have the monetary resources to fund it fully.
Remain Focused on a niche
One of the things that will not work for you is trying to be jack of all trade. When starting out, go local on a particular niche or just run pure news portal. The mistakes most new people does is that they tend to make their blog a content farm, a forum and also run it as a news outlet.
Visitors and people to your online news portal need to see it as a credible source. You will need to focus on politics, latest stories, business, metro and entertainment of your local stars etc happening around you and your country.
Be You i.e Find Your Voice
Remember that it is a blog you want to run, whether a political news blog or entertainment etc; you should know that it is not a website. Having known that, your news blog will be respected if you assert authority without fear or being a coward in writing from your heart and attaching your voice of personal instinct to it. In other words. Be real, apply your real personality to the details, be impartial, hit the nail on the head and be frank. This is what will make you standout, this is what will separate you from the thousands of chaffs out there.
If you truly want to make a business out of your blog and want to make it successful, you have three resources you must commit:
- Commit your time
- Commit your money
- Commit your true passion
One particular trait about successful blogs is that they constantly publish articles, stories on a daily basis at a consistent and persistent schedule. You will need to commit meaningful time in getting your news and stories out there.
An adage says ‘you spend money to get money’; this is true if you aim to run it as a business and not just as a hobby. You will spend money getting your domain name, registration on hosting (explained below), social media accounts and scheduling etc.
Passion is everything. Ask yourself if truly you love what you are doing or about to do. Your number one resource is actually your passion.
Blogging to become successful is not easy as some people makes you believe it is, it is pure hard work and if you do not have genuine passion, honestly, you will close shop within one (1) year.
Publish Daily ( know the peak periods)
The art of blogging requires optimal publishing of stories; for a news blog, it is a far more committal practice where you will need to publish at least 20 articles (even more) a day. For best practices that has proven to work very well, the following schedule of publication should be followed.
- You should know the peak period where majority of people are online. The foremost peak period is early morning for a news blog. Therefore, as early as 5-6am; make sure you have published news stories for the entire day for the entire category and set it on scheduled sharing on social media accounts at set time intervals e.g. every 1 hour gap.
- In essence,, your entire blog should contain new posts for that day and you do that first thing in the morning
- After this, you can be publishing new stories throughout the day as you are getting them.
- The second most important peak period is between 5:30 pm to 11pm; this is the busiest peak period and you should get highly engaged around this time.
- Your social media accounts, e.g. twitter (most important for now) and Facebook needs to be busy and you should set the posts to be shared automatically on them at set times.
The next point you need to know before launching out is:
Draw out a plan- short and long term
Ask most successful people and they will tell you about the importance of planning. The same thing applies to this niche if you want to be successful and make money. Do not just see it as a blog for fun because it’s going to cost you money to set up and your time; therefore you need to make short and long term plans. Either of your plans falls into two categories:
- Support for one year
- Helping hand
- Social media accounts
One thing should sink in you right now, forget making money in the first six months. All you will be doing is working, publishing stories and news continuously non-stop till the search engines and your audience starts seeing credibility and authority in the blog. Therefore, you need to have a structure in place that can sustain you financially for one year without depending on the blog at all.
From my own personal experience, I quickly became worn out and fatigue set in my first 4 months of doing everything by myself. As part of your planning, it is advisable you have a helping hand and the best place to get a reliable one when starting out is within you i.e. your family, girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, husband etc. Trust me, you will not regret this step.
Social media Accounts
You are not a super hero that can be everywhere at the same time. Managing Facebook and twitter at set intervals in not easy for any human to handle and that is why the idea of automation comes in. You will need tools that can help you schedule your posts and news to be shared on the social networks at intervals e.g. everything 5 minutes throughout the day. I fully explained this if you scroll down under the promotion and marketing tips.
Get a befitting Name & Domain Name
One of the first things that kills a business is the fact that people or the founders did not really imagine how successful it may turn out to be. In essence, they left out vital information and planning from day one. One of such is the name you will be calling your business entity, in this case, your blog.
I quite understand that you are at a cross-road; you are confused on the name to use and as such, I have penciled down some quick guidelines on picking a successful name that will resonate very well with your long term set objectives and branding opportunities.
Go for a name that stands out, for example, this blog you are currently reading is ‘haceweb’; thats the name of my blog. Both to me and people reading it, I am sure that the name is unique. It is short, unique and has great tendency for a long term advantage, branding and benefits. It is the same name I used on all my social media accounts including twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
That is the same concept you should use in picking a name and it is the same name you will use in registering on the internet, a technical name called domain name registration.
A quick guide to do that is to first of all check for the name you are anticipating in your mind; to do that, go to bluehost checker form below and see if its okay and available. I pray luck should be your friend to see it is available because people are always on the net doing the same thing you are trying to do. so, do not waste time if you get a domain name that is available for you to use, register it quickly.
If you get the domain name registration name successfully, you will be guided on the next step. However, follow me as I explain in full details how to go about everything from A-Z.
Getting the right design first
As a news blog, simplicity of design and clarity of the contents should be the concept behind the design and layout you are going to use and implement. Though, Bluehost will give you some designs ( some ready made template, called WordPress themes) to chose from. I will advise against this because it will not serve the blogging purpose you are aiming for.
Instead of wasting time and your money trying to write and build codes, simply get a premium WordPress theme ( approximately USD35-60), buy and install it on your blog, that is all.
I have listed the following WordPress themes you can use as a news template for your blog. The video that follows next will guide you on the purchase and installation.
For more designs and templates to chose from, see the companies below:
All you have to do is to buy what you desire, then you download them ( it will be in ZIP file format). The next step shows how you are going to install it on the domain name that you have also registered.
Web Hosting of the Domain Name
With this tutorial, you are gradually becoming a web master because of the step by step guidelines I am teaching you. Your journey is actually just starting, registering of the domain name is first, however, without putting the name on the internet and people seeing it, it means it is useless.
This is where you have to host the domain name and that brings us to this next step.
By hosting the name you want to use for your news blog, it means you are part of the world wide web and your blog can be seen and accessed all over the world ( of course, your locality first and foremost).
To get the hosting done is easy, Bluehost will guide you right from the domain name search ( explained above) to the hosting of the domain name. The displayed pictures will guide you also on the brief installation ( and this means anybody, even a newbie can get it all done).
Search for domain name
If successful ( or otherwise), as seen below
With this offer, you will pay approximately USD3 per month
Create your account immediately if available!!
Chose your preferred hosting package
when running a news blog, the secret of getting it becoming successful is your ability to drive traffic ( human visitors) to the blog ( details on this is discussed further below). This is one of the reasons why I am recommending Bluehost hosting company because you can receive thousands and even millions of traffic to your site with a very cheap hosting.
Aside from this, the following are brief reasons why Bluehost is excellent for you as a starter in the news portal niche:
- They offer the cheapest hosting package in the industry ( most other companies charge from around USD25 per month)
- Their infrastructure is strong and they offer latency even when their is unexpected spike in traffic to your blog
- They are reliable and economically friendly ( being around for more than 20 years)
- The domain fee will be waived immediately you register it and also sign up for the hosting.
Setting up the blog ( technical Aspect)
When setting up and launching a news blog, Bluehost makes it easy; the best way I can explain everything to you is by following the images ( pictures) below and also the ensuing video.
From the above explanations, just continue with the hosting registration, you will be prompted to chose a password, just follow the displayed pictorial guideline on the registration/configuration screen.
Pick a design ( or ignore, you are going to use the ready made news template I mentioned earlier above)
Click on start building
You will be brought to the dashboard ( shown above, which is the engine room and brain) of every design, settings and configuration you want to do.
if you click launch, it will take you straight to the ‘nameofyournewsblog.com’ and of course it will be blank. The next steps will teach you how to set up everything and then get started writing.
please note the following important task ( information)
- Check your email, you will be sent your bluehost login details ( keep it safe)
- During the above steps, you will be given your WordPress login details ( WordPress is the software that you will be asked to chose for the installation and set up). When you agree, you will be given your WordPress login and this login is your username and password ( please keep it safe also)
- The username is your email address you used to sign up ( in most cases) and of course, you have to chose your own password)
- You will need your WordPress logins to update your blog, write stories, upload media stuffs, design and configure. However, your Bluehost login is not needed except for when you want to make payment to the company or do something highly technical.
- To access your WordPress dashboard, just go to your browser ( chrome, mozilla, IE etc) and type ‘ yournewsblog.com/wp-admin ( please note, I am using yournewsblog.com as an example for your domain name). Once you click enter, you will be presented with the login box as seen above
- Type your username and password, once successfully login, you will now be shown your dashboard and from here, real work has just started.
Configuration /Plugins Installation
The following are steps you will need to set up your successful news blog;
Install WordPress themes
Login to your dashboard; to do that, type nameofyournewsblog.com/wp-admin and fill in the username and password. It will open and show you the dashboard.
Please remember the news template ( WordPress themes) I mentioned earlier, it is important you buy one of them. After the purchase, download the theme ( in ZIP file) to your computer.
The first step when setting up your blog is to upload and install the template you bought for this purpose. Follow the steps below;
Install The Demo
To make things easier as you are just starting, I usually recommend you install the demo from the template you’ve just uploaded from above. With the demo, you can easily get yourself started and start putting things right by just editing, removing and adding.
To do that, watch the video below:
Step 7 (1)
Do This Immediately
As you are configuring your new news blog ready for stories, there are important configuration settings you need to implement as soon as possible.
- Go to settings, then permalinks; change the default permalink settings to ‘ day and and name’: This is important because you are running a news portal, its important your posts and stories comes with date. It is important hierarchy, and data arrangement.
- Under the same settings, identify ‘reading’ and select ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site’; This step is dangerous but its important as a precaution because you are still setting up the news blog. If you do not, Google and the search engines will crawl and index the blank blog and eventually penalize if the bot discover it is blank or still under construction.
But, do not forget to come back here and remove the ‘check box’ after you have set everything up so that Google and other search engines can index them and your blog can start appearing on Google search result pages.
Step 7 (2)
Install WordPress Plugins
The software used in powering your news blog will not be fully efficient without installing WordPress plugins. With WordPress plugins, you can do almost anything on your news blog, from getting emails from subscribers/visitors to actual selling/buying, selling subscriptions to premium users/readers etc.
However, there are some basic/essential plugins you need to install; the following explanation is essential for your help.
- Yoast SEO: Very important for search engine optimization
- W3 total cache: Without it, your blog will be slow no matter the webhosting you are using. It naturally boost and turbo speed your blog.
- Sumo Me: From my personal opinion, this is the best social media sharing plugin plus it is mobile responsive.
- No follow: Makes outgoing links nofollow
- JetPack: Multipurpose plugin
- Akismet: Stops spams and malicious attempt.
- Yoast Google news Plugin ( important and also search for more of this plugin)
I highly recommend you read how to submit your news blog to Google news feed ( very important)!!
Step 7 (3)
Page set up
Pages are static positions which are not subjected to updates unlike a post where you published stories, news etc. Important pages you need to have includes
- About pages
- DMCA page ( Very important for your news blog )
- Disclosure ( very important)
- Advertisement page
- Contact pages
However, to make it easy and I am also assuming you uploaded the demo from the templates you bought, some of these pages will have been there. All you need to do is to edit and update them. You may also need to delete the ones you do not need.
The following steps are what you will follow to create a new page:
- Click on pages
- Click add page
- Fill in the details required ( as shown above)
- Publish the page
If you do not have a contact page, you can create one by either installing the contact form page plugin or follow the guidelines below.
- Create the contact page as usual (following the above step)
- Install Jetpack plugin, connect it to wordpress.com and activate the Jetpack plugin features ( don’t do anything on wordpress.com you are directed to).
- Go back to your blog, go to jetpack settings and activate the contact, click save and then go back to your newly published contact page.
- follow the screen below
Set up your categories
You need to set up your news blog into categories. Having categories is essential in having an effective, respected news blog. For example, for this kind of niche, the following are important categories:
- Metro ( transportation)
- Entertainment etc.
Creating your news category is easy, see the guidelines below:
- From the left dashboard, locate and click on categories, then click on create new
- Create your category as seen below, then click on publish
So, any story, news, article or specials you want to publish should fall under a particular category.
Setting up your Menu
Without the menu, your news blog will be very difficult to navigate, especially for the visitors and also for search engine crawlers. The image below is an example of what a ‘menu’ looks like.
To set up your menu for your news blog, just watch the video below and study the image below:
If you want to create a news blog, you need to be mindful and decide if you want a 2 layer homepage and also for the post pages. In most cases, it is usually two layer, the main content page and a right hand sidebar which will contain the adverts ( e.g. Google adsense codes and banners), latest posts, subscription forms, social media accounts image links, latest comments etc.
All these is possible by just adjusting the entire template i.e WordPress themes from the widgets.
The image below is the widget:
Getting credible news sources and references
The following are proven tricks I use to get news sources, trending topics and stories from around my locality, community and also around the world.
- Subscribe to latest updates on most companies websites, politician/sport/celebrity websites and press release sections
- Follow most companies, celebrities, politicians, businessmen on their social media accounts. Most of them posts update about life and next line of actions on social media. A very good example is Donald Trump, the present president of USA (he is a twitter addict, www.twitter.com/realdonaldtrump)
- Subscribe to most press releases
- Go to buzzsumo ( https://buzzsumo.com/)to get ideas on latest news and trending stories.
Buzzsumo is the top go to if you are looking for proven story and viral post ideas, I recommend you go the site and play around to get ample ideas of trending stories.
Write, Write And Publish
Without wasting much time, the next step is for you to start writing and publishing those stories and news updates. Doing that is easy, see the video and image guidelines below:
Lots of people complains that their news blog is not getting traffic or noticed; the problem from my experience is that you need to be posting news and stories regularly every 1 hour interval or at least by sharing/re-sharing your news posts on social media every 10 minutes interval!!.
Get registered and set up on Google
It is a beautiful thing when you see that you are nearly about to launch your news blog and make it successful..but… there are two more things you need to do.
- Get your news blog noticed on the search engines, starting with Google search console
- Submit it on Google News
The registration for Google search console ( or Google webmaster) can be viewed through the video below:
Google Indexing your news post
Please go back to your settings and ‘ uncheck the do not index this site’ option ; Please do that now!! After that, from your search console, follow the picture above and click on ‘fetch as Google’. This tool makes it easier and faster for Google to index your blog and posts immediately.
Please, remember to install these plugin, it is very useful for this purpose: ( https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/)
Starting a News blog – Promotion
After your news blog is online and you have started writing/publishing stories and news, it is important you promote them so that people will know about them.
Use Facebook and Twitter
Naked truth: Without Facebook and twitter, your news blog is not going to be successful!!
With that said and done, it is important (not negotiable) you open a Facebook page. To do that,
- Go to Facebook.com, scroll down and click on Page (or rather if you have a Facebook account, you can simply open a Facebook page for your business).
- Create a page for your news website ( remember to use the name of your site, I made mention of this important point earlier)
- Create Facebook Ads to promote your posts
Read Neil Patel: Beginners guide to facebook ads that convert
I personally use twitter and to me, twitter is far more effective than Facebook. I recommend the following guidelines and tools.
Go to www.twitter.com and sign up using the name of your news blog. To grow your followers, I recommend you use the Manageflitter App.
If you grow your follower diligently and non-stop on a daily basis, I will not be surprised if your followers becomes 30,000 in two (2) months
Submit to Press releases
Sign up with the following press releases and submit your news stories there:
Free Press Release sites:
Premium (Paid) Press Release sites:
how to start a successful news blog and make money
The following are proven ways to make money on your news blog:
- Google AdSense
- Direct advertisements
- Press releases