How to Start a Blog in 2020- Ultimate FREE Step By Step Guide for Beginners

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Do you want to make passive income through blogging? Do you want to leave your current job and travel the world without worrying about expenses? Want to build your online business empire? Well, Blogging is one such thing that can facilitate you all of the above things.

Want to know how to start a blog in 2020 but don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry, I will guide you through each step in detail along with pictures so that you can too start your blog within a few minutes.

You may want to start a blog to leave your 9 to 5 job or maybe you want to earn money through blogging and travel the world or maybe you want to do it as a side hustle, the reasons are plenty. Blogging is one such that can make you enough money given that you are willing to be patient and consistent. The best part of blogging is that it is very versatile and accepting. Anyone with a little to no knowledge of internet or high tech tools can also start and succeed at blogging.

how to start a blog

So, you want to start a blog? Great decision! I will help you execute it. But before we proceed ahead, I see it as my responsibility to let you know that if you want to succeed at blogging, you must be willing to be consistent with your work and patient enough to wait for the traffic to arrive. Your traffic won’t skyrocket overnight, which means you won’t earn any revenue for a few months at least.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the main stuff now. For the convenience of beginners, I will follow a step-by-step approach.

How To Start a Blog in Just 10 Steps:

  • Step 1: Choose a Good Niche for your Blog
  • Step 2: Pick a Good Domain Name for your Blog
  • Step 3: Find a Reliable Web Hosting Provider
  • Step 4: Install WordPress using your Hosting account
  • Step 5: Pick an Attention-grabbing-Eye-catchy Theme
  • Step 6: Install some Essential Plugins for your Blog
  • Step 7: Write and Publish Your First Blog Post
  • Step 8: Share your content across Social media
  • Step 9: Maintain your Posting consistency
  • Step 10:  Monetize your Blog

Step 1: Pick a Right Niche for your Blog(Prime ingredient for Success)

target niche

This is the first and foremost step for starting a great money-making blog. I cannot stress enough the importance of a Niche of a blog. The majority of beginners get stuck at this step itself.

Not picking a suitable niche for your blog is the fastest way to lose the game. When you don’t have a defined niche(a defined topic) and write about various unrelated topics, it becomes a difficult task to promote your blog and build a loyal audience.

A whopping 99% of the bloggers quit within 6 months of starting their blog because they choose the wrong niche, a niche for which they aren’t passionate enough to continue writing.

If you are just starting, my advice would be to choose a specific niche and scale on it.

You may think, dude, are you crazy? Won’t limiting my topics hamper the growth of my blog? It seems like the more content you have, the more growth you should achieve. Well, my friend, the reality is quite the opposite. If you have a well-defined niche, you will build a great loyal audience that will come back to your blog time and again.

To make you understand the importance of niche, let’s see some of the blogs which targeted niche from the start and are now worth millions of dollars today.

  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich: The founder of this blog, Ramit Sethi, started it about 11 years ago. He wrote about personal finance and in a matter of a few months, his blog took off. He started getting interviewed on TV and Radio.
growth lab

The above graph is from a blog post Ramit Sethi wrote for Tim Ferriss’ blog. In 2014, Ramit made a whopping $5 million in only one week through his blog.

Backlinko: Internet Marketing expert Brian Dean started his blog Backlinko in 2010. Brian talks only about Backlinks and actionable SEO strategies. Today, Backlinko is one of the most talked-about blogs on the internet.

Smart Passive Income – Patt Flynn started this blog named Smart Passive Income, where he shares strategies to grow your online business. Today it is one of the most successful blogs which is making millions of dollars in revenue.

ShoutMeLoud: Who doesn’t know about ShoutMeLoud? SML is one of the most significant and wholesome blogs out there. It focuses on WordPress, SEO, Blogging, and related categories.

shoutmeloud earnings
Source: Shoutmeloud

As you can see, SML made just $400 in the beginning. But today it’s generating revenue in Millions of dollars, a small part of which comes from Google Adsense.

Conclusion: The above examples highlight how niche is so critical for making a profitable blog. If you want to turn your blog into a profitable money-making business, you need to select a good niche first. There are innumerable profitable niches available to start a blog. But I would suggest you go with niches which you are passionate about so that your interest doesn’t fade away with time.

So, how do you find a perfect niche which can turn profitable in due course of time?

Selecting a Niche

Before you start a blog, you need to focus on a few factors to find a perfect niche. This will generate revenue for you in time. Let us see a Fail-Proof method to pick out a perfect niche for your next blog.

Best Blog nIche Venn Diagram min

A. Passion:

I cannot stress enough the importance of picking up a niche that you are passionate about. If you select a topic that you’re not genuinely interested in, you won’t be able to write a good number of articles per month or year. This will hamper your consistency and eventually, you will lose interest and stop blogging after a while.

B. Traffic:

Selecting a niche according to the competition is important. If you select a low competition niche, then revenue and traffic potential is limited.

If you select a high competition niche, the opportunity of monetization is high, but it will be a difficult task to rank on the search engine page.

So, it is advised to select either a medium competition niche or sub-niche of a high competition niche.

C. Profit:

It is a prime reason why the majority of us create a blog. You need to ask yourself these question while selecting a niche:

  • Can you make money from it?
  • Does it have enough affiliate programs or not?
  • Is it having a good volume of keywords or not?
  • Can you solve peoples’ problems with your niche?

If the answer to the majority of these questions is YES, then you are good to go.

But if you find it complicated then just pick a niche that you know about or are genuinely interested in and start blogging.

If you can’t think of a good niche for your blog, here’s a simple exercise which can help you find out a good topic for you:

blogging png
  • Take out a pen and paper.
  • Write down all the things you know about or are interested in learning. List out at least 5 or more things.
  • Shortlist out of these topics.
  • Lastly, select the one which you like the most.
  • Last but not the least, find a few affiliate programs for that niche.
  • You are all set.

Here is a 5 Step Guide which You Can Use to Find The Perfect Money-Making Niche.

Step 2: Choose a Good Domain for Your Blog

choose domain name

The majority of people waste way too much time deciding a name for their blog. Selecting the website domain is not a very tough task. So, don’t over complicate this step. Your blog’s name doesn’t have to be something cool or unique or different.

If you already decided on your domain name then you can skip this part. If you haven’t then read on, I will help you do it.

I have already wasted like 4 or 5 domains because they didn’t look brandable. I didn’t have sufficient knowledge and kept wasting my money aimlessly( After all we all make a few mistakes, don’t we?). But luckily, you can avoid this rookie mistake.

Tips to find a good Domain name

Keep it Short & Simple –

Try to keep your domain as short and simple as possible. Don’t go for long names. Your domain name must be easy to pronounce and remember. (Jon Morrow changed their domain name to BoostBlogTraffic to SmartBlogger. This blog gets more than 300k visitors each month, which roughly translates to 3.5 Million visitors each year. Insane, right?

Use your Target Keyword –

You can use your target keyword in your domain name. This will not only look professional but will help you in SEO also. For instance, you can consider my blog. My domain name is Blogging Guide 101. I am targeting both keywords i.e. Blogging and guide. Take another example, there’s a site called Free Job Alerts India. This site posts job alerts for Indian users, hence, their domain name is targeting their main keywords.

Don’t Use Numbers –

As a thumb rule, try not to use numbers in your domain because it’s hard to remember numbers. But you can use traditionally accepted notations such as 101. For those who don’t know what does 101 mean, (“one-o-one”) is a topic for beginners in any area. It has all the basic principles and concepts that are expected in a particular field.

Always Use TLD Extension –

If you are targeting a particular country, then’s it’s good to get a TLD for that country. For example, for India, it’s advisable to get a .in domain considering the SEO. But if you are just targeting globally, you should just go for a .com domain.

Also, you can use this tool called Lean Domain search to find good brandable domain names

If you still can’t figure out a name for your blog then you can just start a blog under your name. The plus point of this is that you can write about anything you want without having to worry about the niche.

Choosing a Blogging Platform(Known as Content Management System)

I am not going to take much time here to explain to you which platform is best. There are dozens of free and paid blogging platforms out there including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Ghost, etc. Then there are custom websites that can be made from scratch.

According to me, people waste too much time figuring out the best blogging platform for their blog. If you ask me, I recommend that you use WordPress, without a second thought. It is the easiest CMS of all and it comes with all the features and functionalities you will ever need. And the best part is that it’s FREE.

And if in the future, you want to add some more functionality to your website, say you want to sell ebooks through your blog, you can do it by simply installing a WordPress Plugin. It’s that simple. There are thousands of free WordPress plugins available that can help you add as much functionality to your website as you want.

In this tutorial, I will use WordPress to guide you through.

Step 3: Find a Good Web Hosting Provider

choose web hosting

For making a blog, you need two things- A web-hosting and a domain. Let’s see what do these words mean.

1. Domain name – The domain name is the name of the website which readers types in the browser. For example, Twitter.com or Google.com or BloggingGuide101.com.

You will need to buy a domain name that is spelt similarly to your blog name. (We have already discussed about the domain in the previous part about the Niche).

2. Web Hosting Provider – Websites are just a bunch of files of different types put together to function as a whole. When you open say Google.com in your browser, you are simply downloading the homepage file of Google.

A web hosting is a place where all the files of your blog are stored. Hosting is like the hard disk of a computer, which stores all your data (images, posts, pages, etc. This place is called a server. Web Hosting providers let you lease server space by charging some amount. Without hosting, you cannot make a website.

Also, as a piece of precautionary advice, NEVER go for a WordPress hosting plan offered by any hosting providers. They seem attractive since they cost about a dollar or two, but they are worthless. They never deliver a good performance.

Always go for a good hosting plan from the beginning so that you don’t have to go through the headache od migrating your blog if your hosting provider sucks!

Now, let’s move forward to buying a domain and hosting. Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through the whole process. Just stay with me, it’ll hardly take a few minutes.

Buying a Domain and Hosting from Siteground

I won’t give you a ton of list to choose from, just like other bloggers do since it’s not really worth it. I want to make money from affiliates but not at the loss of others. That’s why I will recommend you only the genuine trusted brands which I use or have used in the past.

So, for hosting, I’d recommend you to go with Siteground.

They have the best support in the market and are perfect for beginners. Their plans are affordable and they provide good performance. If you are just starting out, you will just love their service.

Let see how to Buy a domain and web hosting space from SiteGround. You can pick any other web host of your choice, the steps will be similar. But if you go by my opinion, I highly recommend you to go with SiteGround. Not because I am an affiliate of SG, But they do deliver the best performance. I too migrated from GoDaddy to Siteground due to performance issues. But now I am happy with Siteground.

You can see the lastest Speed Test results of my blog which is hosted on Siteground itself.

Some testimonials from famous personalities:

syed balkhi

SiteGround is a great hosting solution for all your WordPress projects- both new and established ones. The service they provide is stable, secure, and super fast. Thanks to the special tools they’ve developed in house for WordPress users.

– Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Matt Cromwell

I can’t say enough good things about SiteGround. I highly recommend their GoGeek shared hosting platform if you are a developer on a budget but still want advanced features like staging, GitHub integration, and of course the SuperCacher.

– Matt Cromwell

Let’s move ahead.

To get web hosting and domain for your first blog, follow these steps:

Step 1: Visit Siteground Here.

siteground web hosting plans

You can start out with a Startup plan. But if you plan on having multiple sites, then go for a “Grow Big” plan, you can host unlimited websites on it. Try to take an annual plan so that you save a good amount on a discount.

Step 2: Choose a Domain Name

siteground choose domain

Enter the domain name you would like to use for your blog(The whole process of domain selection has been discussed above). Once you have selected a domain name, click the proceed button.

Step 3: Fill In Your Account Information

user details

You have to fill in your information. This will setup your account.

Step 4: Enter Your Credit/Debit Card Information

card details

Fill out your credit/debit card details to complete the purchase.

Step 5: Agree To The Terms & Click The Proceed Button

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You have to confirm there terms and conditions. After that, you have to click on the check-out button. It will take a few minutes to the siteground to process the request.

After a few minutes, your web hosting account and get your domain will get ready. Check your email for important details related to your account and save them for further reference.

Congratulations! You have successfully purchased a hosting and domain for your blog. This brings you one step closer to your blog.

Let’s move on and see how to setup your blog.

Step 4: Set Up WordPress To Make Your Blog Live on the Web

install wordpress

Installing WordPress using Siteground is a piece of cake. Log into your SiteGround account and move to the next step. You will see a screen similar to this:

set up website

Select Start a new website checkbox and then click WordPress.

Now enter admin details for your new WordPress site.

This form will create a new Admin account for your WordPress site. You will use this account to log into WordPress and make changes to your site:

admin details

It is recommend that you write down your accoutn details somewhere and keep them safe.

After fill-out, all the information, click the checkbox next to the terms and conditions. Then click the Complete Setup button. It will take a few minutes for SiteGround to finish setting up your WordPress site.

Now, click on the proceed button to go on customer area:

hosting ready

Now, you can visit the SG admin dashboard to see all the details of your blog.

siteground dashboard

You can now visit your Blog just be typing out it’s address in the address bar. For example: www.yourblog.com. It will open up a WordPress login form.

Enter the login details you chose during the installation and click Log in.

wordpress admin login

It’ll take you to WP admin dashboard which looks something like this:

admin dashboard

That’s it. You just set up your first WordPress site. Remember, this URL:

http://your-blog.com/wp-admin OR you can also use http://your-blog.com/admin

Replace your-blog.com with your blog URL. This URL will help you to directly log in to the admin dashboard.

Step 5: Choose an Eye Catchy theme

change your blog's theme

Now that you have a WordPress site, you need to change the default theme. In blogging, the design of the blog matters because if you don’t have a great design, so you are losing a lot of traffic and audience. Good design and colour scheme help to build more trust towards your readers.

Although the default theme looks good, it’s not optimized for SEO. It’s just a simple theme to get you started. It does not provide good performance and is not customizable.

Your blog’s design needs to grab the user’s attention and concentrate it on your content. If you want your blog to succeed, you will need a good design. Without a good design, no one will pay heed to your content.

You can access thousands of free themes from WordPress theme options. But it is not recommended to go for Free or Premium nulled themes because these are easy to hack and they act like an open security threat to your blog.

I like to use GeneratePress for all my websites. It’s one of the easiest to use WordPress themes and comes with all the features you will ever need.

Most free themes don’t offer any customization options. But with GeneratePress you can change the design of your blog as much as you want. It is still the Fastest WordPress theme out there.

Now, there are a lot of premium theme developers on the market, but I recommend only StudioPress and MyThemeShop. Their themes offer a ton of great customization options.

Some of the themes used by Me:

Astra Pro – Astra Pro is lightweight and easy to customize the theme. This theme is like a generate press, but they have a lot of features that are not available in generate press. You can make your homepage attractive and responsive too with using any page builder like elementor.

Schema Theme – Schema theme is crafted by mythemeshop, and the best part of this theme that’s this is search engine optimized. It is also one of the fastest themes out there.

If you are interested in using free themes, here’s how you can find and use free themes on your blog:

To change your WordPress site’s theme, select the Themes menu from the Appearance menu in the sidebar:

wordpress appearance panel

Now, click the Add New button to find a new theme for your blog:

wordpress themes

Now, scroll down until you find a theme that you like.

Then take your mouse over the theme and click the install button to install the theme.

It will take a few seconds for the theme to install. Once the theme is installed click the Activate button on the theme you installed.

wordpress activate theme

This will activate the theme.

Now, visit your website’s domain name to see what your website looks like.

Well, Installing is a theme was an easy task, wasn’t it?

Now comes the important task of customizing your theme.

Click on appearance ➡ customize, and now you can able to customize your theme. You can use the Live Preview to easily customize it.

Let’s move on to installing some important plugins now. These will help you to manage your blog.

Step 6: Some Essential Plugins for WordPress

essential plugins

WordPress is nothing without its great plugins. It is a critical task to optimize your content, for SEO, Speed, etc. so as to improve user experience. There are thousands of plugins available to help you do that but I have crafted a list.

To install a plugin,

wordpress plugin add
  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Then go to Plugins → Add New
  3. Then upload your plugin zip file and click on the “install now” button.
  4. Or if you are searching from WordPress directory, you can type a name and search for a plugin. Then click install.
  5. After installing, click on the “activate button” to install that particular plugin.

Elementor  – It is a page builder plugin and will allow you to create your dream landing page by just drag and drop. No knowledge of coding is required. And the best part is, it has both Free as well as Paid version. Isn’t that great?

Yoast SEO– Yoast helps you with your website optimization.  It handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content. It has both Free as well as Paid version.

WP Rocket – Speed is one of the most important factors to rank on google. WP rocket helps you to optimize your full website and make it faster. I strongly recommend you to buy this plugin if you are looking for a free alternative then you can go with autoptimize. 

Mailchimp – If you want to collect emails from your readers, then you can try to Mailchimp. It will help you to make popups, newsletter sign up forms, email leads, etc.

UpdraftPlus – Backing up a website is a necessary task. Though if you use siteground, it keeps daily backups. But as a contingency measure, you should use this plugin. Always keep a backed-up version of your full website, so that you don’t have to regret later if something happens to it.

Akismet – This is a great plugin. It will help you to prevent spam on your blog. It blocks comments that look like spam. You choose to automatically block and delete all spam comments.

Jetpack –  It provides a whole lot of functionality. This includes Downtime monitoring, Brute force attack protection, Basic activity log, Unlimited image CDN, Lazy loading images, Site stats, Automated social media posting Etc.

Social Snap Pro – Social Snap gives you the power of social sharing with ease. It includes over 30 social networks & apps to choose from, allowing your visitors to share your content through their favorite app or network. If you need a free alternative then you go for Sassy Social share or Ultimate sharing plugin.

I don’t recommend you go with nulled or cracked plugins because they can be infected with some malware or virus. You can lose all your data because of this.

If you want to do professional blogging and make money out of it, then you ought to think in that direction. Keep the investment mindset and treat your blog like a business. Don’t hesitate from investing on important things.

Step 7: Write and Publish Your First Blog Post

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After you set up all your plugins, move forward to writing your first post. For creating a New blog post, you have to go: Dashboard → Post → Add New.

add new posts

It will take you to a blank area with contains a Title field and a Body field. Here you can write your blog post.

If you are using Classic WordPress editor, you will see a screen like this:

classic min

Else If you are using Block editor, you will see a screen like this:

post layout

There are plenty of customization options available to design and beautify your post. You can use Headings, change text colour, change the background colour, highlight a field, inserts images and videos, embed a file, etc.

If you need more customization options, then you can use page builders such as Elementor PRO. It will help you to create amazing & beautiful content with easy drag and drop. Awesome, isn’t it?

Now, the million dollar question arises, “How to find a topic to write about”?

1. Well, don’t scratch your head, I’ll help you out with that. You need to do some keyword research around your niche. That’s right. You need to use tools that are made specifically for this purpose such as SEMrush or Ubersuggest. They will not only help you to find great keywords but also provide you with good content suggestions.

2. I personally recommend SEMrush since it is the best tool in the market. It may look costly in the beginning but trust me, it’s totally worth it.

3. But if you don’t want to spend money in the beginning, that’s also fine, I’ve got your back. You can use some free tools such as Ubersuggest, Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, etc. The tools will help you only to a certain extent but they will suffice if you are a beginner. Also, if you are just starting out, I would suggest you go with long-tail keywords because they have less competition and hence easier to rank for.

4. Choose a catchy title for your blog post. You can also use listicles to grab attention. For example, you can use titles such as: “10 ways to lose body fat”, “5 ways to make money online”, “7 tips to escape dull routine” etc. You can observe that this subtle combination of words and numbers not only generates curiosity in the visitor but also binds their interest to your post.

5. Do add some images for making your article more comprehensive. You should try to do authoritative writing. What I mean by is that, if you choose to write on any topic, try to in-depth. Make your article as comprehensive and informative as possible. Add as much detail as possible, so that the reader does not have to consult any other source after reading your article. This will not only increase user experience but also inculcate a sense of trust between your blog and the reader.

6. You need to optimize your article for On-page SEO. If you aren’t aware of that term, then you should go ahead and read this article as fast as possible. on-page guide by Neil Patel. He has covered this topic in length.

7. You should try to use words such as “I” and “You”. This will help you to connect more with your readers.

8. If you decide to add images in your blog post, that’s great. But keep in mind that you should always try to use royalty-free images. Do not use copyrighted images without the permission of the author. There are plenty of sites that provide royalty-free images. You can use Unsplash.com or Pexels.com.

So, this sums up the post creating part for you. Keep trying and retrying until you create your dream post.

Now, let’s move ahead to getting people to read your articles.

Step 8: Share your content across Social media

share blog posts on social media

So, after you have created your first post, how do you get people to read it? Your articles won’t be shown on Google Search Results Pages any time soon. It takes anywhere from a few months to a year to get your article on Google SERP. So, what do you do in the meantime?

Waiting out for SERP without taking any action is plain foolish. The least you can do is to share your blog post with all your friends and family. Try to use different social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You can also create some video content and promote your blog via Youtube, Video, and other video services.

You may have understood my point. Promote your blog post as much as possible.

Step 9: Maintain your Posting consistency

maintain consistency and hardwork

This the point which I have been stressing since the beginning of this article. That’s why I have even created this as a separate point. You need to maintain a healthy posting consistency. It varies from one person to another. What works for someone, won’t necessarily work for you. You will have to test and try what works for you. It may be 2 posts a week or 1 post a week, just try it out and maintain it for long.

Don’t post at random instances like if you made a post today and then don’t wait for 2 months to make the next post. That will certainly hamper your growth. You need to keep your readers engaged. Find a healthy posting consistency and stick to it.

Step 10:  Monetize your Blog

earn money from blog

Well, I can’t deny the fact that this is the most awaited and loved part for every one of us out there. How to make money from your blog? How to turn your blog into a passive money-making machine?

Well, to be honest, the answer to those questions can’t be given in one word. Relax! Don’t get anxious. What I meant by the aforementioned statement is that there isn’t just one strategy to earn from your blog. There are plenty of ways by which you can generate healthy revenue and make a living out of your blog. Let’s see what all are your options.

Ways to make Money from your Website

Affiliate Marketing: 

affiliate marketing

This is one of the effective methods for making money online. All you have to do is just promote products on your blog, and if you get a sale of that product, you will get a commission from the product owner. Simple, right? I see this as a prime method for my earnings. My conscience only allows me to promote good and genuine products for fewer commissions than to cheat people with useless products with high commissions. Some people are making millions a month just from Affiliate marketing.

Advertisements: 

ads

This is by far the most common and simple way by which a blog generates revenue. All you have to do is monetize your traffic. Innumerable bloggers are using this to generate massive revenue. The revenue from this method depends on the amount and source of your traffic.

The two leading advertising platforms are – Adsense and Media.net. You can visit them to know more about their programs.

Offering Service: 

seo

If you an authoritative blogger or you are an expert in anything like SEO so you can offer services to your readers. They can directly pay you via different online payment platforms. This is one of the fastest ways to earn money via your blog. You can charge any amount depending upon the difficulty level and nature of the service you provide.

Selling your course or product:

marketing

If you know how to sell anything, then you can just create your way and sell it to your readers. But keep in mind that this might take some time since you will have to build trust with your audience. If you already have a loyal audience, then you can start selling various products such as your digital course or an ebook.

So, these are some of the major ways by which you can make money from your blog. Also, you need to keep in mind that if you want to make money from your blog, then you will have to be patient and consistent. You need to keep creating good content even if you don’t receive any traffic. Keep working hard on your blog, and you will achieve massive growth.

So, What’s Next?

Now that you have started your first blog, you might be thinking “What’s next?” To wrap up, I’d like to sum up a few main points which you need to take care of, after creating your Blog in 2020.

  • The one and the only way to keep your motivation alive is to keep adding great content to your site.
  • Keep writing comprehensive useful content and you will push ranks though Google soon.
  • Keep learning On-page and Off-page SEO.
  • Build your social presence.
  • Stalk your competitors.

Good luck. May the force be with you!

Peace out.

Rajat Kumar Singh
A WordPress Savvy, Engineer, Photographer, and an avid reader. At Blogging Guide 101 we talk about SEO, WordPress, Affiliate Marketing, and everything about making money through blogging. The sole aim of this blog is to help you realize your passive income dream. Along with BG 101, I also maintain my travel blog pilgrimofdelhi.com as well, where I share my travel stories, travel guides, etc.