This is the ultimate guide to make your first blog running.
So if you want:
To have your own blog.
To start driving visitors.
And start generating sales.
Then you’ll love these actionable tips on how to start your own website
Let’s dive right in.
Well, just follow these 11 very simple steps:
- Choose Your Blog’s Niche.
- Write Down Your Blog’s Goals.
- Pick a Domain Name.
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan and Register Your Domain.
- Install WordPress – Your Blogging Platform
- Pick the Right Theme.
- Install WordPress Plugins.
- Set Up Your Site’s SEO and Permalink Structure.
- Create Content for Your Blog.
- Create a Long Term Content Strategy.
- Perform Ongoing Guest Post Outreach And Link Building.
1. CHOOSE YOUR BLOG’S NICHE.
We all know that your blog needs a niche – whether it’s marketing, cooking, Crossfit exercises, vegan dogsitting, underwater parkour solo dancing – whatever crazy topic, there are an endless amount of things to blog about.
Most bloggers will tell you to start with something that you’re passionate about because it will help you “maintain a consistent writing schedule and push through the hard times when things get difficult.”
They’ll also tell you to choose a niche at the intersection of passion, skills, and experience:
However, this model is flawed because it’s missing one major component: monetization.
I firmly believe that with a blog, money drives passion more than passion drives money.
Let’s say you take this common advice and choose your blog’s niche based on passion, skills, and experience.
In this example, your passion is fitness, your skills are helping people lose weight, and your experience is that you’re a personal trainer focused on high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
So you decide to create a fitness blog specifically designed to help people lose weight with HIIT.
- You write 20 blog posts
- Incorporate exercise videos
- Create Instagram and YouTube channels
- Build an About Me page and FAQ to tell your story
- Add Amazon affiliate links to fitness products
- And build your email list with your lead magnet – The Top 25 HIIT Workouts to Lose 5 Pounds in 7 Days
When a user signs up for the email list, they receive a final email offer on day 7 for a free online personal training consultation, with the end goal of having them become a recurring monthly customer.
This all sounds very exciting. However, I can almost certainly guarantee that this blog will fail.
Monetization wasn’t priority #1 when choosing this niche – it was passions, skills, and experience.
This niche is going to take years to monetize. And when things take years to monetize, the likelihood of quitting is exponentially higher.
Because that’s the myth: it takes years to make money from a blog.
There’s another problem with this strategy, and it comes from human nature: our desire for significance.
Imagine writing about something you’re passionate about earnestly for months, and realizing you still have no following, no traffic, and not a single dime from all your efforts.
Think about it.
Whether an artist, sculptor, graphic designer, director, producer, wannabe Instagram celebrity, or writer, we all want recognition for our work. As social creatures, we need to share the things that we create with other human beings.
Think of a child showing a drawing to one of their parents. Or watching a movie you’ve already seen with a friend because you want to share it with them. Or seeing your name in movie credits. Or finally getting a book published.
We strive for significance and meaning in our lives.
I could blog about my passions, skills, and experience for a while, but if I wasn’t gaining any readership or making any money, I’d quit 100% of the time.
And that’s why 95% of blogs fail – they start with a passion in mind, but don’t know how to treat it like a business from day one.
They write for years, get burned out when they don’t see results, and quit.
So we’re going to flip the script and start your blog like a business from the very beginning.
To do this, we’ll choose your ideal niche not based on passions, but on four primary business factors:
- Audience Revenue Potential
- Affiliate Marketing Potential
- Professional Leverage
- Keyword Research
1. AUDIENCE REVENUE POTENTIAL.
When you’re starting a new blog, the question shouldn’t be, What is my niche? But, Who is my audience and what pain point am I trying to solve?
To offer a valuable product on your blog and make money, you need to solve a pain point that an audience is willing to spend money on.
As a blogger, you need to understand your audience’s challenges deeply so that you can offer them exactly what they want.
And the best place to start is by looking at yourself.
Ask yourself, What audiences am I a part of?
You’re far more likely to understand a specific group’s struggles if you’ve encountered them yourself.
Take my blog, for example.
When I started this blog, I was a 31-year old American male working in the tech industry. I was putting in long hours, sacrificing time with my family and friends, and getting stressed and burned out by the rat race. So I created this blog as a means to an end – a way to make passive income, escape my 9-5 and take back control of my time – and my life.
So my target audience was people similar to me:
- 25-45 years old
- Working 9-5 but want to escape the rat race
- Ready to hustle and put in the work
- Smart and technically savvy
- Want to make passive income through a blog
Understanding your audience is the first step.
The second (and equally important) step is to understand how much your audience is willing to spend to solve their pain points.
This is your audience revenue potential.
This bears repeating: you need to understand your audience AND how much they’re willing to spend to solve their pain points.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to start a blog in the home design niche.
Your blog topics may pull in different readers, including professional interior designers, college design students, and even stay-at-home moms who want the latest home decor inspiration.
To monetize a blog in this niche, let’s say you create a sales funnel:
- You write new content to attract an audience online
- Next, you build a home design lead magnet to get email opt-ins
- Third, you place affiliate links to promote home decor brands
- Finally, you offer a $300 online course titled 10 Expert Interior Designers Share Tips for the Perfect Home
Nothing is wrong with this approach.
This tends to be a common approach most new bloggers take. If you were to put in a few years of content creation and built up your email list enough, I estimate you could start making a passive income in 2-3 years.
However, by changing just one word in your potential niche, you increase your blog’s income potential by 100x.
All you do is change home design to commercial design.
Let me explain.
By adding a B2B component to your blog, you shift part of your audience from individuals to businesses.
Businesses have larger bank accounts and are more likely to pay you without hesitation. Whereas a founder might be more frugal with the business’s account, a middle manager with a budget to spend will not.
The beautiful thing about this approach is that your blog launch and marketing funnel are almost the same for both the “home design” and “commercial design” niches. However, with the B2B niche, you don’t just stop at a $300 course. You get to add the final component of 5-figure online consulting.
Just understanding your audience’s pain points isn’t enough.
To 100x your revenue potential, a portion of your audience needs to be in a lucrative B2B niche and pay a monthly recurring basis.
To recap, when choosing your niche, rather than worrying about getting thousands of passive, low-value site visitors, focus on closing 2-3 high-value clients.
With this approach, I hope you’re beginning to understand why I truly believe you can make $10,000/month in 90 days with a new blog.
These new funds will be used to accelerate your path to passive income, but we’ll leave it at that for now.
2. YOUR NICHE NEEDS AFFILIATE MARKETING POTENTIAL.
Affiliate marketing is my favorite form of blog monetization – it’s the most passive and once you start ranking on search engines you can make money while you sleep.
Affiliate marketing is the act of recommending products and services of other businesses and making a commission on every sale.
Most large companies have affiliate programs you can join. Once you apply and are approved into their programs, you can grab your unique affiliate links to add to your blog, view reporting on clicks/sales, and see any future payouts.
Here are some steps to get started with affiliate marketing:
- Apply to a company’s affiliate program either on their site or in an affiliate network. For this, you’ll need a website and an email address from your domain – not just a Gmail or Yahoo email.
- Once approved, grab your unique affiliate link, and copy/paste it into any piece text on your blog.
When a user clicks that specific link, a cookie is stored in their computer which credits the sale to you based on the cookie duration – typically 30, 60, or 90 days.
Now, when you think of the word blogging, what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s lifestyle blogs writing about what they’ve been purchasing for their family lately. Or a fitness blogger giving you some great advice on how to lose weight. It could even be an interesting person just writing their own personal memoirs.
I want you to forget about these types of blogs.
They may be interesting to read, but they aren’t the niches that will bring you the most revenue.
Instead, consider this simple formula…
- To make a lot of money blogging, you need affiliate income.
- To make affiliate income, you need to rank on search and get web traffic.
- To get web traffic, you need to rank for keywords that drive the most affiliate revenue.
So what are these keywords?
The answer: keywords with the word “best” in them.
Here are some examples:
- In finance, it could be: best credit cards, best auto loans, or best home insurance
- In tech, the keywords could be: best laptop of 2020, best VR headsets, or best Mac accessories
- In marketing (like my blog), it could be: best email marketing software, best web hosting, or best website builder
These “best” keywords are searched by people looking for product reviews.
They want to read a blog with in-depth content on the “best” something before making a purchase (and they aren’t ready to go right to a company’s website and buy something yet.)
Think about it.
If you’re searching for a new laptop, you might type in “best laptop of 2020.”
Google this term right now and look at the top 10 results.
Every single website in the top 10 results is an affiliate. No actual companies selling laptops – no Best Buy, no Walmart, no Dell, no HP – just affiliates recommending laptops.
Now try Googling “best credit cards.” What do you see?
Again, every single top 10 result is an affiliate.
Why do these affiliate sites outrank company sites?
They are all blogs with long-form, in-depth articles that search engines prefer.
What you’ll begin to realize is that most profitable blogs are, in fact, websites making affiliate commissions.
And the truth is, these recommendations are primarily based on how much money the affiliate site is making from their #1 recommendation – not the actual quality of the product or service itself.
Once you grasp this, you’ll begin to see affiliate sites everywhere.
So now when you think of blogging and planning your niche, replicate sites like these:
- Finance: NerdWallet, Fool.com, WalletHub, CardRatings
- Tech: Tom’s Guide, Techradar, Wire Cutter, CNET
- Travel: Nomadic Matt, ThePointsGuy, Expert Vagabond
- Business: The Balance SMB, FitSmallBusiness, FinancesOnline
I think that the most profitable niches right now for new blogs are finance, tech, travel, business, and marketing.
3. USE YOUR PROFESSIONAL LEVERAGE.
After uncovering a lucrative audience to provide value to, the next step is to uncover the strategic advantages you may have over others.
- What is my current level of professional experience?
- What connections do I have in my industry?
- Can I leverage this experience into a profitable blog?
- If I could pitch any website in the world to contribute a guest post, who would choose me from the start?
To build a truly successful blog, you first need to build influence. And to build influence, you need to step outside of your comfort zone and leverage your connections, professional experience, and everything at your disposal like never before.
With a blog, you’ll also be performing a lot of outreach to make new connections. This includes building relationships so you can guest post on authoritative sites in your niche to get relevant, high Domain Authority (DA) backlinks.
And when you’re just starting, you may not have many connections or published content out there. You might say: “Why would anyone feature me?”
This is where leveraging your professional background helps tremendously.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you might have a base of clients, contacts from local meet-up groups, and even know photography influencers that you met in the past. If you can leverage these contacts in the future, you can accelerate the growth of your blog.
Use every advantage you have at your disposal.
4. KEYWORD RESEARCH.
To me, keyword research is the most important step when choosing your blog’s niche.
It’s very simple. Are people searching for the things you want to write about?
It’s a fact: You need to become an expert in keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO) so that your blog can rank and get traffic.
Why? People search Google 63,000 times every second. That’s 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day. Plus, organic traffic can be more valuable than social media traffic because people make high-intent searches online. There are plenty of opportunities out there – you just have to know how to find them.
Another good piece of news is that there are SEO tools to understand all of this search data. With tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, you can view individual keyword metrics, including:
- Monthly search volume: how many times a keyword is searched for in a given month
- Keyword difficulty: on a scale from 0 to 100, how difficult is it to rank for that keyword based on the competition
- The average cost per click (CPC): this is how much the keyword is worth if you were to create a PPC ad for it and pay for the click. It’s a good indicator of the keyword’s value
So what do you look for?
You want to find keywords with high volume and low competition.
Here’s how I rate these competitive metrics.
Monthly Search Volume:
- 0-1,000: Low
- 1,000-5,000: Low/Medium
- 5,000-20,000: Medium
- 20,000-100,000: High
- 100,000+: Very High
- 0-20: Low
- 21-50: Medium
- 51-75: High
- 76+: Very High
On my site, there are two main types of keywords I target when it comes to SEO: super high-volume/high competition and medium volume, low competition.
1. REVENUE DRIVERS: MEDIUM VOLUME, LOW COMPETITION, HIGH CPC KEYWORDS
The first keywords new blogs should search for are medium volume, low competition keywords.
- Target keyword: webinar software
- Monthly search volume: 4,300
- Keyword difficulty: 22
- Average CPC: $25.00
4,300 is not a very high monthly search volume, but since position 1 gets over 33% of traffic, I could expect to get 1,419 visitors/month to my blog for position one on this term.
Plus, with a low keyword difficulty of 22, this term should be relatively easy to rank for (in fact, I got to page 1 just a few days after publishing the blog post).
Finally, with an average CPC of $25, it is a valuable, high-intent search term.
One quick side note on keyword search volume:
While the keyword webinar software gets 4,300 searches per month, there are thousands of potential variations of this keyword – for example, best webinar software, webinar tools, webinar platforms, etc. This post can rank for all of these variations, too, so I typically double or even triple my volume estimates based on the main target keyword.
Using Ahrefs Also Rank for Report, you can view keywords that the top-ranking pages for your target keyword also rank for in the top 100 search results. This allows you to find less obvious keywords that you can also include in your post’s copy and subheadings.
The key to finding relevant keywords from this report to use for your blog is to search with more specific queries. For example, instead of “cooking,” use “vegan recipes.” Or “email marketing services” instead of “marketing.”
How to find this type of keyword for your blog:
Use a tool like Ahrefs and filter the results. Set the monthly search volume filter to a minimum of 1,000 and the Keyword Difficulty filter to a maximum of 10.
What these keywords are good for:
These keywords should make up the bulk of your posts and be the main revenue-drivers for your blog. The key is to find a good amount of long-tail keywords with medium volume and low competition in your niche. If these keywords are preceded by terms like “how to” and “best,” you’re well on your way to finding a profitable niche and solving a pain point.
2. BLOG BUILDERS: SUPER HIGH-VOLUME/HIGH COMPETITION KEYWORDS
The second type of keywords that I target are super high-volume terms that aren’t as easy to monetize but can bring in a lot of traffic.
For example, take my post How to Make Money Online.
- Target keyword: how to make money online
- Monthly search volume: 103,000
- Keyword difficulty: 55
- Average CPC: $2.00
First, this keyword has a 25x higher volume than webinar software. With high volume and all of the potential keyword variations, ranking in the top 5 positions for this term could bring in 30-65,000 visitors/month.
However, this keyword also has a lower search intent than webinar software. With webinar software, we know exactly what the searcher is looking for. With how to make money online, this user could be interested in anything from starting an online business to podcasting or coupon clipping – we just don’t know.
So that’s why it’s average CPC is only $2.00 – it’s vaguer and harder to monetize.
How to find this type of keyword for your blog:
Use a tool like Ahrefs and filter the results. Set the monthly search volume filter to a minimum of 20,000 and the Keyword Difficulty filter to a maximum of 75.
What these keywords are good for:
These keywords should make up 5-10 pillar blog posts that you put a lot of time and effort into. While these high volume keywords won’t generate immediate revenue, they bring in a ton of traffic to your blog and can increase the size of your email list.
3. SUMMING UP KEYWORD RESEARCH
A blog needs a mix of both super high-volume/high competition and medium volume, low competition keywords.
Here are some of the tools you can use for your keyword research:
WRAPPING UP PICKING YOUR NICHE.
After doing your keyword research, discovering a lucrative audience and niche, and planning how to leverage your professional connections, it’s time to get to work.
Let’s start planning your new blog.
2. WRITE DOWN YOUR BLOG’S GOALS.
Everyone knows the famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
This is true when starting a new blog.
After choosing your niche, you need a way to keep track of everything — not just your to-dos and content ideas, but also your goals, ideas, and motivations.
The key during this stage is not to overcomplicate things.
When I was starting this blog, I kept track of everything in one simple document.
YOUR BLOG’S GOALS.
It’s time to think big and write down what you want to accomplish with your blog in the short and long term. These should be SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Here are a few examples from my document when I started planning my blog:
- Write and publish my first five blog posts of 2,000+ words by January 20
- Complete my About Me page by January 25
- Publish five guest posts by February 1
- Get 1,000 blog site visitors/month by February 15
- Get 250 people in my email list by February 15
- Obtain 100 backlinks by March 1
As you can see, these are all short term attainable goals with clear due dates.
YOUR BLOG’S PROFILE.
You need a place to keep track of your random ideas and unique selling points to hone in on your messaging over time.
Sections here may include:
- Your unique value proposition – AKA your one in a million idea
- Your blog’s headline and sub-headline
- What is the problem you solve?
- Your blog’s “elevator pitch” – in 1-2 sentences, how would you easily explain your blog to a stranger?
- Your ideal customer personas
- What are the main categories for your blog?
- Future content ideas with target keywords and search volume
The key is to make this a living document and update however you see fit.
To plan a blog, set some simple goals, and write things down to better hone in on your blog’s message, and understand who your audience is.
3. PICK A DOMAIN NAME.
In the past, I took way too much time on this step. I scoured GoDaddy for weeks trying to find the perfect catchy, niche-specific, short, memorable dot com domain.
While this step is important, it’s probably not as important as you think.
In the past, it was possible to get exact-match keyword domain names like cuttingboards.com to help your search rankings. Today, it’s much more difficult.
While common advice is to “niche down” and choose an ultra-specific name, I recommend you choose a website name that’s broad enough to allow you to pivot if necessary.
If your focus is too narrow and suddenly you lose passion for your niche or run out of topic ideas, you’re stuck with your new domain. However, if you broaden your focus a little bit, you can expand your content and have enough fluidity to maintain consistency, avoid quitting, and better promote your website for the long haul.
In the past, I tried starting online businesses and chose ultra-specific names. When I didn’t see immediate success, I got discouraged and thought, “Well, maybe this niche isn’t for me. I should quit and try something else.”
Here’s what you could do instead: choose a broader name and worry about being specific in your posts and pages.
Here are some other things you need to consider before picking a name for your website.
1. THE PRICE OF THE DOMAIN.
You have to buy your blog’s domain name from a domain registrar company. It should cost you roughly $10/year. If you get started with Bluehost web hosting, you get a free domain name for the first year.
2. YOUR PERSONAL NAME AS A DOMAIN NAME?
Many people prefer to use their names for their blogs (like yours truly here). Personal domains are more flexible than the ones based on any particular niche. Many times, bloggers need to change the name of their blog according to the changing scenario of their blogging niche.
However, if your name is your domain, then there is no need to change it when you want to add more verticals to your niche.
3. DOMAIN EXTENSIONS.
Domains come with different extensions – .com, .us, .guru, .sport, .com, etc.
.us stands for the United States, .guru is used for coaching blogs, and .sport is used for sports blogs.
However, .com is the top-level domain that’s more inclusive and mostly favored by search engines.
Here’s how internet users perceive some of the top-level domains in terms of trustworthiness, on a scale of 1 – 5:
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A DOMAIN NAME:
- Your name should not be too difficult and complex to type. It should also be memorable and aligned with your brand. That’s why a dot com extensions are an excellent option.
- Don’t confuse people with difficult spelling so keep the name easy to spell and pronounce.
- Avoid using numbers and hyphens in your domain as it can confuse people.
- Try to incorporate a keyword that best represents your blog if possible. It’s not as important to have a keyword in your blog name for SEO, but it might help people identify your blog’s niche right away.
If your preferred name isn’t available, most of the tools mentioned in the article above will provide alternate suggestions.
4. CHOOSE A BLOG HOSTING COMPANY AND REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN.
Every website needs a web host to store their site on a server so that people can access it online. Without a hosting account, your blog won’t be visible on the internet.
The performance of your blog relies heavily on your provider, so you should choose the best web hosting you can. A good hosting platform keeps your site up and running without interruption, provides security, and integrates with WordPress.
You should choose a host that is reliable, popular and comes at an affordable price.
At this stage, your best option is a simple shared hosting plan. I recommend Bluehost as the best option this year.
- 99% Server Uptime
- High-end security measures
- High-speed servers
- Easy-to-use dashboard that comes in handy for beginners
- Numerous hosting options to choose from
- 24/7 customer support
- Free SSL certificate
- Easy cPanel dashboard
- 1-click WordPress Installation
- Recommended by WordPress as the host of choice
- Low introductory pricing
- Money-back guarantee
- Only costs $2.95/month (via my Bluehost links on this page)
You can also head to my detailed review here: Bluehost Reviews 2020: 11 Reasons To Believe The Hype
Next, we’ll register your domain and choose a web hosting company to launch your blog.
Follow this step-by-step guide to register your own domain name along with your web hosting plan:
STEP #1: VISIT BLUEHOST.COM.
Click on the “Get Started” CTA button on the homepage.
STEP #2: CHOOSE YOUR WEB HOSTING PLAN.
On the next page, you will see four shared hosting plans.
These plans include Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.
While all these shared hosting plans are perfect for a new blog, I would personally recommend going for the Basic Plan.
For a step up, the Choice Plus Plan offers the Domain Privacy, which will help you protect your information and guard all your confidential details, including full name, email address, residential address, and phone number.
STEP #3: ENTER YOUR DOMAIN NAME.
So, you have already selected your name (as specified in the second step).
Now, after you choose your hosting plan, you will be directed to a new page where you will be asked to enter your custom name.
If you’ve already selected your name, then you can add the information here. And if you need a new one, you get your domain name for free for the first year.
If you need more time to come up with a website name, you can always sign-up and choose your domain later.
Next, you’re prompted to create your account, which is the final step of the process.
STEP #4: ENTER YOUR DETAILS.
Here are the “Account Information” details you need to enter to create your account.
Make sure to enter the correct details, including your first and last name, business name if applicable, country, address, etc.
Upon scrolling down, you’ll see the “Package Information” section.
It includes selecting how long do you want to opt for the plan and how much advance you are willing to pay.
It allows you to pay 12, 24, 36, or 60 months upfront and gives you better pricing for longer terms. If you are sure that you will be running your blog for a long time, then I’d say go with the “Prime 36 Month Price” to get the lowest possible monthly price.
You can also get a low upfront payment by paying annually instead of monthly.
In the screenshot above, there’s another section called “Package Extras.”
You can uncheck Codeguard Basic and SiteLock Security. These are unnecessary and can be replicated with other free WordPress plugins.
Finally, pick your payment option. You can choose to make the payment via credit card or PayPal.
That’s all it takes to sign up!
STEP #5: YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERED YOUR HOSTING PLAN.
Congratulations – you’ve set up your hosting for the first time.
You’re now signed up with Bluehost, which means you’ve completed a vital first step. Let’s continue.
STEP #6: CREATE YOUR ACCOUNT AND SET YOUR PASSWORD.
You’re almost done – after receiving an email to confirm your account, you just need to enter your domain name and create a password for your account.
STEP #7: LOG IN TO YOUR ACCOUNT.
Use the password you just set to log in to your account. You can also sign in with Google if you prefer.
And you’re all set! Now that the web hosting setup is out of the way, it’s time to move on to installing WordPress and getting into your blogging dashboard.
5. INSTALL WORDPRESS AS YOUR BLOGGING CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)
After getting through the first phase of planning your blog and choosing web hosting, the next step is to choose WordPress as your blogging platform.
Your blog platform, also known as a Content Management System (CMS), is where you will be writing, customizing, and publishing your blog posts. Naturally, you are going to need something user-friendly, powerful, and affordable.
There are paid and free blogging platforms available to choose from.
Have a look at some of the top blogging platforms and their usage:
Most people run their blogs on WordPress, which is apparent from the above stats.
WordPress also offers multiple free plugins, themes, and various ways to modify your blog.
You don’t need to have any technical coding knowledge to get started.
With most hosts, you simply use the 1-Click WordPress Installation and you’re in your WordPress dashboard.
However, before you get started, you should know the difference between the .com and .org versions of WordPress.
WORDPRESS.COM VS. WORDPRESS.ORG – WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Here are some of the common differences between the two:
If your eventual goal is to make money through your blog, then think no further before selecting the self-hosted WordPress.org.
A blog is an extension of your personal brand and needs to be something that you own outright. You shouldn’t rely on a subdomain or blog site like Tumblr to host your blog.
The .com version has minimal options and doesn’t allow you to tweak settings or pick a custom domain name. (Eg: yoursite.wordpress.com). If you do want to use a custom name, you would have to pay extra.
It also comes with limited monetization and analytics options. On top of that, with the .com option, you can’t upload plugins and themes from outside of WordPress.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, gives you complete freedom to download tools and themes from different platforms, customize your blog design, monetize your blogging efforts, and more.
Naturally, it’s suggested to use WordPress.org when it comes to starting a blog set up for long term success.
With Bluehost, you can install WordPress and run your own blog in a matter of minutes.
Let’s get started.
INSTALL WORDPRESS WITH THE ONE-CLICK INSTALLATION PROCESS.
Bluehost automatically one-click installs WordPress right from your hosting dashboard.
After you’re done setting up your account password, you’re prompted to pick a theme.
There are plenty of attractive free WordPress themes to choose from, including free blog themes.
However, if you want to pick your theme later, you can skip this step for now by clicking on the “Skip This Step” option at the end of the page.
From here, you’re directed to a new page where you need to click on the “Start Building” option.
Next, select what type of site are you planning to create, and WordPress will help you in the process with prompts. You can also just click “I don’t need help” to go right to your dashboard.
Finally, enter your “Site Title” and your “Site Description.”
From here, you are directed to a page to decide the layout of your blog. You can either create a custom home page with the page editor or simply host your recent blog posts on your homepage.
From here, spend some time making yourself familiar with the functionalities of your new WordPress blog. Make sure to test out all the features and play around with different themes to pick the one that best suits you.
This brings us to our next step – choosing a theme.
6. PICK YOUR BLOG’S THEME.
Now that you have a WordPress account, you need to choose your WordPress theme.
A WordPress theme is a collection of templates, files, and stylesheets that dictate the appearance and design of your WordPress-powered website.
Right now, your blog might look something like this:
This is the default WordPress theme, and on the left side is your appearance customization menu that helps you customize your theme.
While this base theme isn’t the best, it can be used to get familiar with the appearance editor.
In the theme appearance editor, you can edit:
- Site identity – your business name, logo and other navigation items
- Colors – you can choose the colors for fonts, buttons, blocks, and other items
- Menus – you can edit the placement of your menu navigation and which pages to include
- Additional CSS – this is a place where you can place custom CSS instead of messing with your theme editor files
There are some blog design principles to keep in mind.
For example, fonts should be between 14 and 17 points, legible, and easy to read. You should also have menu navigation that looks good on mobile and desktop.
Websites with a poorly organized layout are difficult to navigate and impair your blog’s user experience.
Remember, you don’t necessarily have to spend money to install a paid theme if you find a free one you like. However, make sure it looks nice, loads quickly, and readers can access information easily.
Finally, don’t overdo the design – a blog should be highly-functional and uncomplicated.
INSTALL A NEW THEME FOR YOUR BLOG.
Here’s how you can install a new theme for your WordPress blog:
First, log in to your WordPress account (admin page).
You can always access your WordPress login page by going to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.
Next, add your WordPress login credentials.
Once logged in, your WordPress dashboard looks something like this.
Here, click on the “Appearance” option from the sidebar menu.
Next, select the “Themes” option from the “Appearance” section.
To search for the theme options WordPress offers, click the “Add New” button at the top of the page.
As you can see below, there are a ton of free themes to choose from.
You can scroll down and preview as many themes as you want before picking one for your blog.
You can also filter out the themes based on three categories: “Subject,” “Features,” and “Layout.”
Here’s what the filter option looks like:
Apply the filters narrows down your options. You can then click on a thumbnail and get an instant preview of what your final blog is going to look like.
If you like a particular theme, you can click on the “Install” button.
If you don’t want to use a stock WordPress theme, there are plenty of sites like GeneratePress, StudioPress, and CSSIgniter that offer paid themes you can buy. When you buy a theme, a zip file is sent to you via email.
To install this external theme, all that you have to do is go to “Appearance” – “Themes” and click “Add New,” upload the zip file and click install.
Congratulations, you now have a WordPress site with a new theme installed.
EXTRA TIPS ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT THEME.
- Read the descriptions of the various WordPress themes to get an idea about their features. This will help you get an idea of whether the theme will be compatible with your niche or not.
- Choose a responsive theme that works well on both desktop and mobile devices (most of them are).
- WordPress also allows users to give ratings to their themes – make sure to check out the reviews to get a feel for the quality of the theme.
- Before installing a theme, make sure to check its demo or preview to know what it’s going to look like.
You can also install a large number of WordPress themes from other popular sites, such as:
- Thrive Themes.
- Elegant Themes.
- CSS Igniter.
FREE, PREMIUM, AND CUSTOM THEMES.
There are many free blog themes available on WordPress. However, sometimes these come with limited design options.
That said, you can always start your blog with a free theme and then move on to a more personalized one after your content is up. As long as it loads fast and allows you to start publishing content, there’s no reason not just to get started and worry about your perfect design later.
Premium themes mostly come in the price range of $30 to $500. If you’re looking for a custom-developed theme, you can hire a developer and expect to pay $500-5,000 for your new blog.
Now that your theme is all set, let’s move onto extending the functionality of your blog with WordPress plugins.
7. INSTALL YOUR WORDPRESS PLUGINS.
Since WordPress is open-source, you can customize your site in an endless amount of ways.
And this starts with WordPress plugins.
These are sets of tools that integrate with your website and extend its functionality and feature set.
WordPress offers thousands of plugins with different functions, including everything from email marketing and calendar integration to opt-in forms and SEO tools.
However, it’s not recommended to install hundreds of these tools on your blog as they tend to slow down your site and can conflict with each other during updates.
So what plugins should you add to your blog?
I curated a list of the 15 best ones to help you enhance your new blog (and the exact ones I use):
1. ASSET CLEANUP: PAGE SPEED BOOSTER.
This plugin allows you to remove certain elements of code that aren’t necessary to load on every page. For example, my ecommerce HTML and CSS files were loading on every blog post even though I only needed them on two pages. With this tool, you can easily select which pieces of code to keep and which to remove based on pages, posts, and other types of content.
2. BIGCOMMERCE FOR WORDPRESS.
This is the ecommerce tool that I use to sell my digital products. I tested WooCommerce first, but it installed four extensions, slowed down my site, and had an ugly checkout experience. BigCommerce for WordPress launched in December 2018 and runs via an API – so you handle all of your content in WordPress and your backend ecommerce in BigCommerce.
3. CLASSIC EDITOR.
I’m not a huge fan of the new Gutenberg editor and find the Classic Editor much easier to use and more error-free.
4. EASY TABLE OF CONTENTS.
This plugin allows you to easily add a Table of Contents into any page or post. The plugin will appear underneath your pages/posts, and you can select if every H2, H3, or any other header should be automatically added to the Table of Contents.
Tables of Contents are important for a few reasons: they keep users engaged with the page (by clicking around) and help with user experience. I often have a Table of Contents at the top of my new posts going to each section, then a “Back to Top” link at the bottom of each section so that users can easily go back to the Table of Contents.
5. ELEMENTOR PRO.
Elementor Pro is the best WordPress landing page builder, and it’s the tool I used to create my home page and a few other pages. They have a free version of Elementor, but the Pro version takes it to the next level with much better templates.
You can get started with the free version of Elementor Pro for just $49/year.
6. EXTENDED WIDGET OPTIONS.
Widgets are areas on your WordPress site that aren’t directly pages or posts. For example, sidebars, footers, and homepage sections can be considered widgets. Extended Widget Options allows you to expand the functionality of your widgets to make them more useful.
For example, I use this tool to make some of my sidebar banners sticky so that they scroll down the page with the reader.
7. GDPR COOKIE CONSENT.
8. MAMMOTH .DOCX CONVERTER.
I use this plugin to convert documents into WordPress posts automatically. Since I get a lot of my initial first drafts written for me, I download them as a .docx file and insert them into my posts/pages with this plugin. The Mammoth .docx Converter will appear underneath your posts/pages, and it’s as simple as uploading your file and clicking “Insert into Editor.”
One small detail is that you’ll want to make sure your document’s images have both names and alt text before uploading into WordPress.
OptinMonster is hands down the best email opt-in plugin on the market (and 100% how you joined this list). With the ability to create exit intent, modal popups, in-content opt-ins, and more, they are the reason that my email list is growing by about 60-75 users/day.
While I use their highest tier Growth Plan, you can get started with OptinMonster for just $9/month.
10. SHORTCODES ULTIMATE.
This plugin allows you to create simple blocks of content by adding shortcodes to your site. I primarily use this to insert buttons quickly on my affiliate pages so that readers have very clear calls-to-action. Shortcodes Ultimate will appear in your WordPress page editor as a small button at the top (much like Bold, Paragraph Spacing, etc.), and when you click into it, you select your content block. With buttons, you can preview them in the editor and choose the size, color, style, and more.
11. SHORTPIXEL IMAGE OPTIMIZER.
ShortPixel compresses all of your images so that they are smaller files and your pages load faster. I’ve tested lots of different image compression tools, and ShortPixel has been the best.
This is one of my favorite affiliate marketing tools. ThirstyAffiliates takes your random affiliate links (full of random numbers, letter strings, etc.) and cleans them up so that they look nice. For example, which one looks nicer:
The second one is more clickable, leads to higher conversion rates, and can’t be stolen by malicious hackers.
13. WP LAST MODIFIED INFO.
One factor in search engine rankings is recency of content – especially if you’re in niches with new information coming out. This plugin allows you to easily show the date on every page/post so that search engines understand when it was last modified. For example, with WordPress, it’s easy to show a date, but it will typically show the Publish Date, not the last time you edited it.
By giving search engines an easy way to pull the Modified Date, you will see this date appear in your search results, and may see a rankings boost.
14. WP ROCKET.
You can get started with WP Rocket for $49/year.
15. YOAST SEO.
Yoast doesn’t need an introduction. If you’re not using it, then you’re missing out on a lot of great free features. I use Yoast to manage my sitemap, robots.txt, page titles/meta descriptions, and other add-ons.
Now that we covered the best plugins to install for your blog, let’s move onto some unique settings to pay attention to.
8. SET UP YOUR BLOG’S SEO AND PERMALINK STRUCTURE.
A very important ranking factor is the URLs of your blog posts and pages.
When you add a new page or post, you see the page editor and can choose the URL after dot com. Check out the link below:
This text after the .com is what a permalink looks like.
Permalinks are static hyperlinks that will lead your audience to a specific web page.
By default, your permalink is set to “yourdomainname.com/postID.”
This not only looks unattractive but isn’t the best from an SEO standpoint.
Before you start writing content for your blog, make sure to set a specific permalink structure.
From your WordPress dashboard, go to “Setting” —> “Permalinks.”
You can choose from a couple of options. Most high-ranking blogs follow the “Post name” or “Custom” structures below.
The main thing to know is that every post or page should focus on one target keyword which should be in the area right after the dot com.
For blog posts, this permanent URL is the only thing that needs to remain unchanged. You can change a page or post’s title, meta description, content and headings, but the URL needs to stay the same.
This is because if you get inbound links to this URL, changing it would result in a 404 error and losing that link value.
Finally, make sure to save the settings before exiting the page.
Also, make sure you set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These two tools are 100% necessary to index your blog and monitor your traffic. These can both be easily integrated with the Yoast plugin.
Okay, let’s stop and review where we are right now.
You purchased web hosting, set up your domain, installed your WordPress theme and plugins, and optimized your website’s permalinks for SEO.
Now, it’s time to start creating content for your blog.
9. CREATE PILLAR CONTENT FOR YOUR BLOG.
After completing the framework of your blog, it’s time to create your content.
Remember, this all begins with the keyword research we did above.
Each blog post should focus on one main target keyword which should be included in:
- The blog’s permanent URL.
- The title of your post.
- In the first paragraph.
- In your H2 headings.
- Within the content 5-8 times, depending on the post’s length.
- In your meta description (optional).
Once you have a list of the top 5-10 keywords (topics) you want to cover, it’s a good idea to start writing.
Also, in addition to text, blog posts that have audio, video, photos, and other types of visual content, along with textual content, perform the best.
According to statistics, global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021.
It’s also essential to write engaging content that helps you draw in readers, answer their search intent, and compels them to take action on your blog.
Even if you create a well-written and well-structured blog post, it won’t gain traction if your content isn’t valuable and your keyword strategy isn’t thought out.
Before creating content for your blog, make sure to put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask yourself these pertinent questions:
- What keywords are my readers searching for?
- What would excite and intrigue my potential readers?
- What are the common challenges that my reader face, and how can I address them through my blog?
- What are the underlying character traits of my target audience?
- What would my readers love the most about my niche?
- What would my readers hate the most about my niche?
- What actions do I want them to take that will solve their problems?
Write down your answers to the questions above.
This can help you come up with more blog post ideas. If you already have a blog, you can also survey your email list and ask them what they’d like you to write about. This is a great way to interact with your fans, better understand their struggles, and make them a part of your process.
IMPORTANT TIPS ON CONTENT WRITING.
- Your blog posts should always provide value to your readers. Write with a clear beginning, middle, and end structure. Even the most mundane of topics can be made interesting if you understand story arcs and hero’s journeys.
- Present your blog content attractively and make it easily accessible to the readers. Make sure both textual and visual content in the blog are high-quality.
- Never make your content commercially focused as it irritates readers. Blogs loaded with too much advertising looks unattractive to most people.
- Format your headings correctly with H2 and H3 tags, and use bulleted lists and images to break up long lines of text. No paragraph should be longer than three sentences.
A QUICK CHECKLIST TO CONSIDER BEFORE WRITING YOUR BLOG POSTS.
- Make your blog post conversational to make it engaging connect with your audience
- Make sure your content flows naturally
- Leave substantial white space to make it easy on the eyes
- Add bullet points to help readers skim down the blog without missing anything critical
- Use proper H2, H3, and H4 headings
- Double-check for typos and grammatical errors – I love using Grammarly for this
WRITE YOUR FIRST BLOG POST.
Here’s how to write your first blog post on WordPress:
Click on “Posts” in the left sidebar from your WordPress dashboard.
Now, select the “Add New” button:
Next, you will head to the editor, where you can start writing your first blog post.
While crafting your blog post, make sure to keep the above tips in mind.
The WordPress Editor works a lot like Microsoft Word and lets you do the following:
- Align text left, center, and right.
- Make text bold or italic.
- Highlight text and add links to them. You should also go to your link settings and make any external links open in a new tab – that will keep readers on your blog.
- Add and align images. On most blogs, images should be JPEGs no longer than 800 pixels wide. Any wider and your image file size will slow down your loading times.
- Add categories and tags to posts.
- When you click Save Draft, your blog post will be saved, but not yet published.
- When you click Publish, your blog post will officially be published and appear on your blog archive page.
Make sure to download and install the Yoast plugin too. This allows you to punch in your target keyword and get recommendations on what to do for SEO.
In Yoast, there are four important sections to add:
- Meta Description
- Focus Keyword
Yoast helps you access real-time feedback on how your blog post might perform in terms of organic traffic for a particular keyword.
Try to achieve as many green signals as possible. Once you hit 80% green light, it means you’re good to go, and your blog is likely to perform better when it comes to SEO.
You can even “Preview” your blog before publishing it.
If you are happy with the way your blog post has turned out, then go ahead and publish it.
CREATE PRE-LAUNCH PAGES AND CONTENT.
Pre-launch content includes the content for static pages of the blog, such as About us, Contact, Home Page, and more. The nice thing is that the Page Editor looks exactly the same as the Post Editor.
The only major difference is that pages don’t have categories. However, they can be nested under parent pages to organize things.
Before launching a blog, you should have a few pages in your menu navigation so that readers know what your blog is about.
1. HOME PAGE.
We all know what a home page is – it’s the main URL of your website.
This page shouldn’t include every little detail about your site – its purpose is to sell your unique value proposition in two seconds or less.
If readers hit your home page and don’t know exactly what your site is about, they may leave. A WordPress home page can be edited with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) page builder like the free Elementor plugin.
A good home page contains:
- A slider or hero image with a headline and subheadline
- A small section to tell readers more about what your site is about
- The main call-to-action like an email opt-in or button taking readers to an important page
- Internal links to your important content
There aren’t any rules for home pages, so get acclimated with your landing page builder plugin and have fun with it.
2. ABOUT PAGE.
The About Page of your blog everything about you – who you are, what you stand for, and what your blog is about.
This section will help you connect with your readers on a deeper level so don’t hold back.
Make sure to cover the following in your “About” page:
- Who you are
- What made you start your blog
- Why did you select this particular niche
- What’s your aim with this blog
- Why should people listen to you
- How you dealt with the same struggles your audience has
- Your success story
- A call-to-action
When someone likes your content, they are likely to head to your About page to know more about you. Now, you can either bore them to death or turn them into your loyal fan.
To do this, I have crafted my About page like a story.
I start with how I battled with self-doubt to scaling my blog and turning it into a profitable business.
People don’t want to read about all of your recent professional accomplishments, but want to truly understand who you are. So don’t try to make yourself look good – just write about your life and who you are.
2. THE CONTACT PAGE.
This page is all about sharing contact details with your blog visitors. You can share an email address, phone number, social media links, or a contact form on this page. This will help your readers get in touch with you.
3. WIDGETS – SIDEBARS, FOOTERS, AND BLOCKS.
These aren’t pages. However, your sidebar is a column that can appear on the right or the left side of your blog posts and pages. The sidebar is used to show blog categories, recent posts, ads, opt-in forms, and anything you want all of your readers to see.
This is considered a WordPress widget – and you can find these in your dashboard under Appearance – Widgets. The way I describe widgets is any place on your website that isn’t directly within page or post content.
So for example, your footer is a widget. Your blog sidebar is one as well. Even sections on the home page may be a widget. These are easy to edit and similar to the main page and post editors, just in a different location in your WordPress dashboard.
10. CREATE A LONG TERM CONTENT STRATEGY.
Once you’ve published your first post, here is the strategy I use to get it to rank over time and generate revenue:
- Perform keyword research for high-volume keywords I wanted to rank for
- Create an outline of the post for my content writer
- Obtain the article’s first draft from my writer, edit it, then publish this long-form content. I would do competitive research to see which articles were already ranking well for my target keyword, then make sure my content length was longer and my quality was higher
- Send links to my top ~10 posts via my guest posts and link building outreach
- Once the article began to rank on the first 4-5 pages of search, I updated the content by increasing its length and improving its quality by adding semantic keywords with tools like LSIGraph and Clearscope
- Once the article ranked in the top 2-3 pages, I joined any applicable affiliate programs and added the affiliate links
- To maintain my organic rankings, I updated the content regularly and kept generating inbound links
- Once the article was on the first page and generating affiliate revenue for brands, I reached out to their Affiliate Managers to see if I could increase my commission rates
With this strategy, you’ll start to see your blog posts rank higher, generate more traffic, and ultimately, more revenue.
But jumping into blogging isn’t for everyone – you need to be great at self-promotion.
It is imperative to have a strong content and outreach strategy to create high-quality content and build relationships.
In fact, content marketers with a proper strategy can get 3 times the number of leads as paid advertising.
And according to the Content Marketing Institute, here are some of the steps you should consider while creating your content strategy:
Here are some of the areas you should think about while formulating your long-term content strategy:
1. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.
Identifying the core audience is the first step.
However, for that, you need to divide the market into segments based on behavior, demographics, psychographics, and geography.
If you’re planning to sell something through your blog, it segmenting your audience will also help you differentiate between readers who are buyers, and who are not.
Here’s one way to segment your audience:
You must have a clear idea about the type of audience that is likely to be attracted to your blogs.
However, you can’t afford to work with a target audience as vague as a ‘homemaker in her early 30s.’
You need a more in-depth analysis to arrive at a particular segment. Once you identify the segment, you can do a market analysis to see what they want and need, and how you can add value or solve their problem.
2. SOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE’S PROBLEMS AND PROVIDE VALUE.
Your blog must solve your audience’s pain point. Whether it’s by sending helpful guides to an email list or writing affiliate product reviews, you need to tap into the problems your audiences face – and the keywords they search for.
It bears repeating – you have to understand your audience and then create content to solve their problems.
For example, if your audience primarily consists of podcasters, you should provide content around the best podcast hosting, equipment, and sound recording techniques to be successful.
3. OPTIMIZE YOUR CONTENT.
Ranking in organic search takes time, so don’t be scared to hit the publish button and come back to edit your post later.
I typically publish an article and submit it to Google Search Console.
Next, I’ll go back a week later and add semantic keywords with a tool like MarketMuse or ClearScope. These tools help you understand the keywords that search engine crawlers expect to see on a page.
For example, if your article is titled The 15 Best Beaches in Southern California, search engines expect to scan the page and see contextually relevant keywords like ocean, sand, hotel, surfing, etc. While these aren’t the target keywords people are searching for, they are semantically related to your main topic and help you rank.
It’s also a great idea to add long-tail keywords.
Use a tool like the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find related keywords that are close variations of your target keyword. These should be used in your headings.
For example, if your main keyword is email marketing, other H2 headings that could work in the article might be:
- What Are the Benefits of Email Marketing?
- Email Marketing Tips
- How to Use Email Marketing Software
By targeting one main keyword and close variations, you begin to rank for hundreds, if not thousands of close variations.
No one searches the exact same thing – so you should understand which variations have the highest monthly search volume.
Additionally, these long-tail keywords don’t pose as much competition as their shorter counterparts.
To find appropriate long-tail keywords for free, you can use the Google Keyword Planner.
Let’s assume you want to write a blog on content marketing. Now to find long-tail keywords related to your topic, go to the Keyword Planner.
Type in “content marketing,” and then you’ll get your keyword ideas.
Make sure to look for the keywords that are not only most in-demand but also relevant to your topic and have good volume.
4. SCHEDULING YOUR POSTS.
If you post useful content on your blog, then naturally, your audience would look forward to all your upcoming posts.
If you’re looking at a long term content strategy, ensuring consistency of schedule is important. You need to maintain your blog posting frequency. It can be anything — weekly, twice a week, 3x a week, etc.
For example, if you’re planning to post one new article a week, make sure you check your calendar and follow through.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. That’s why tools like Google Calendar can help you do just that.
Google Calendar helps you make a to-do list so that you never skip your blogging schedule. Moreover, it allows you to add personal goals so that you can keep track of your progress and see what more you are supposed to do.
You should create a roadmap for the entire week or even a few months, depending on your writing frequency. Working backward from there can help you decide precisely which article you need to publish and when. It also helps you avoid missing your deadlines.
5. INCREASE YOUR OUTREACH.
Now, the next step is to market yourself and maximize engagement. The only path to long-term sustainability is continuously building strong relationships with other websites.
You can’t fake authority in your niche.
You need to use different channels and communication methods to make this happen – primarily email and LinkedIn. First, look for high Domain Authority (DA) blogs in your niche. Once you have a list of the sites you want to reach out to, use a tool like Hunter.io to find the right email addresses.
Next, use a standard guest post and link building outreach template to email them. Make sure you personalize the email for every single person, including their first name and some details about them.
Here’s how to do it:
SET YOUR GOALS.
To achieve what you want, you’ve got to set an achievable goal and do everything you can to meet it.
Before you set your goals, ask yourself some questions, including:
- Do you want to make money, or do you want to create awareness?
- Do you want to become famous?
- Do you want to improve your SEO and make your page popular?
There can be many other goals and naturally, the path to every goal is different.
For example, if your goal is to make money, then you need to focus on building your email list and getting traffic to generate affiliate and ad revenue.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.
With the help of tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, it is now possible to unravel and segment subscribers based on factors like their age, gender, buying patterns, browsing history, and more.
UNDERSTAND THE COMPETITOR LANDSCAPE.
With so many blogs out there, any field you choose will be full of competitors. But you can turn that to your advantage.
For example, let’s suppose you run a travel blog. Naturally, the audience of some other travel blog in your vertical is your potential audience as well.
So, you can analyze the type of content your competitors are sharing and the ways they are using to increase their outreach. After analyzing their entire strategy, you can also adopt some of the things you find useful.
Many sites let you see the type of posts your competitors are sharing – and their competitive metrics.
SimilarWeb lets you search for and understand the type of content the audience wants the most and their competitors publish.
But it doesn’t mean that you emulate your competitors blindly.
Instead, spend time answering the following questions:
- What are the gaps that your competitors failed to address?
- How long is their content and can you make it longer?
- How many inbound links are going to the article?
- Do they have interactive media in their posts like videos or infographics?
- What is their Domain Rating?
- Is their post formatted properly?
With these questions answered, you begin to understand what it will take to outrank the competition.
We’ve seen how to identify the topics that interest your audience. But what about the gaps? What about the issues that the audience wants to read about, but there’s no content?
You could login to a Q&A website like Reddit or Quora, where you can see the exact questions that people are asking.
Better yet, use a tool like Ahrefs to view competitor traffic data. You can see which keywords you rank for, which ones competitors rank for (and you don’t), and where there is overlap.
This gap analysis gives you good keywords to target for future posts.
6. ANALYZE YOUR PROGRESS.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. You need metrics to understand if you’re on the right track.
You should take advantage of reporting tools to analyze your blog.
Remember the goals you started at the beginning and focus on creating new posts and getting more links in order to improve your traffic metrics over time.
Creating the right content strategy isn’t an easy job. It includes research, writing, self-promotion, and building relationships. But when you get it right and your traffic starts pouring in, it is all well worth it.
11. PERFORM ONGOING GUEST POST OUTREACH AND LINK BUILDING.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to promote your blog. Blogs have been saying that guest posting is dead for the last 7 years, but it shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s a great way to build authority in your niche, meet other bloggers, founders, and content teams, get backlinks and create lasting relationships.
And link building is another fantastic way to build Domain Authority (DA) and increase your rankings.
This is a hustle and a grind that includes a ton of email outreach.
Here are some of the necessary steps to perform ongoing guest post outreach and link building:
1. OPPORTUNITY HUNTING.
Before going into this exercise thinking about what you’ll get out of it, it’s important to stress that you have to provide value to others.
As a successful blogger, I get hundreds of outreach emails every week asking to guest post on my blog.
The ones that stand out to me are the ones from sites that are providing value to me in return – whether it be a backlink from a separate guest post, a social share, or podcast interview, blogging is a 1:1 exchange.
Your outreach emails need to highlight how you can provide value to the other site.
To get started, you first need to research which sites to reach out to, and who to reach out to.
You can also search for something like “high Domain Authority [niche] sites accepting guest posts.” That will provide a bunch of list articles with good ideas for outreach.
Some websites even have a separate guest posting outreach page containing the guidelines as well as the email address to reach them.
Here’s an example:
Most websites will eventually get back to you, so wait a few days before you start pursuing them again.
Once you have a list of sites, you can look them up on LinkedIn or on their contact page. Then use a tool like Hunter.io to obtain their email addresses.
You can check out my article on guest blogging for sample email outreach templates to use.
2. GUEST POST CONTENT.
What should be the topic of your guest posts? Naturally, it should be relevant to your niche and something similar to what you post on your blog. It should also not yet exist on the other site’s blog and have a decent search volume.
Make sure to check out any editorial guidelines for the guest posting site and follow them closely.
Consider essential things like:
- What level of target audience do they have (beginner or advanced)?
- The type of target audience. For example, is the audience B2B or B2C?
- How long should the article be?
- What’s the type of content they’re looking for? Do they usually post listicles, tutorials, or how-to guides?
Just like with your own blog posts, make sure to offer value and try to pique the interest of the readers.
3. PITCH YOUR GUEST POST IDEA.
If a site’s interested in a guest post from you, you’ll typically have to pitch them a few topic ideas. Again, these should be based on competitive metrics and keyword research.
This process can be time-consuming, but high-quality sites know the difference between a good pitch and a bad one.
4. WRITING THE GUEST POST.
Once you receive the green light to start writing, keep these things in mind:
- Use Google Docs and format your posts properly.
- Follow the editorial guidelines closely.
- Use target keywords for SEO.
- Avoid grammatical mistakes.
- Add links to your website in the content and guest author bio.
I actually outsource the first draft of my guest posts so that I can focus on more outreach and topic pitches. This greatly increases the number of links and guest posts you can get.
Remember, writing keyword-focused, SEO-optimized posts isn’t enough. You need high-quality links to your content from reputable sites.
HOW TO START A BLOG: FAQS.
1. What is a Blog?
A blog is a regularly updated website, run by an individual or group, primarily consisting of written text in an informal, conversational style.
If statistics are anything to go by, in the United States alone, 42.23% of people from the ages of 18 to 49 read blogs.
You can find a blog for any topic you want and it’s a great avenue to increase your subscriber base, connect with new people, and make money online.2. Why Should You Start a Blog?
There are so many reasons to start a blog.
One of the most prominent reasons is to influence and inspire online readers. If you have in-depth knowledge in your field of work and have decent writing chops, then you truly can help others. If you know how to monetize your blog, you can even make a decent passive income.
Blogging can provide you the perfect platform to:
– Develop yourself personally
– Improve your writing
– Build new relationships and network in your field
– Share your knowledge with your audience
– Make a lot of money
Speaking of money – this blog launched in 2019 and now makes over $45k/month.3. How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
When you start a blog, you have the option of using a free or paid blogging platform. Both have their pros and cons.
If you’re a novice and want to try your hand at blogging without paying upfront, Ghost or Blogger are free platforms that let you do just that. However, there are a lot of restrictions with free tools. For example, you won’t have access to better themes, restriction on advertisements, and more.
On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned marketer or even a novice confident enough to start blogging, you could opt for paid platforms.
Website builders like Squarespace and Wix provide excellent paid plans that help you customize your site the way you want without restrictions. Moreover, such platforms allow you to optimize your site for search engines, add advanced features like an online store, drag-and-drop editors, and more.
Here are some of the essential expenses:
– Domain name: It may cost you around $10 per month
– Hosting: Shared hosting cost typically costs $3 – $10 per month. Then there are more advanced options like VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, etc.
– Optional expenses include a premium WordPress theme (costing between $30 – $60), marketing tools, and more.
– If you are considering blogging as a hobby, then it should be free.
– If you aren’t that serious and don’t mind minimal features, then it may cost you about $50-$60 per year.
Now, if you’re planning to invest in additional features to scale up your blog, then it may cost over $400 per year.4. How Do I Get Readers to My Blog?
To get readers to your blog, you have to provide value to your readers.
Here are some steps that’ll help get you there:
– Master SEO – this can’t be understated
– Create catchy headlines – your headline is the first thing someone reads. Help them figure out the benefits by enumerating them. The ideal clickable headline is: Odd number + superlative + target keyword + year
– Publish blog posts consistently as it makes your readers take you more seriously
– Use call-to-action (CTA) buttons and opt-in forms to make your readers act
– Offer incentives to current readers like product discounts and insider knowledge
– Share your posts on social media
Implementing all the steps mentioned above can help you get some initial traction to your blog.5. How Do I Start a Successful Blog?
There are more than 600 million blogs in the US alone. But 95% of them aren’t successful. Many factors set apart successful bloggers from non-successful ones.
Some of the critical factors in starting and running a successful blog are:
– Understanding market viability and audience revenue potential
– Being well versed in digital marketing – you need to have a firm grasp on SEO, keyword research, affiliate marketing, email marketing strategies, etc.
– Being great at self-promotion
– Offering value-based content
– Providing content consistently
– Creating a schedule and sticking to it
– Engaging subscribers proactively and solving their pain points6. Do Bloggers Get Paid?
Yes, they do. Bloggers can get paid exceptionally well. Others make nothing from their blogs.
Breaking it down, bloggers mostly get paid through:
– Affiliate marketing
– Online courses
– Sponsored posts
– Selling products
However, if your blog posts don’t offer much value, it’s difficult to create an income.
Bloggers can get paid via advertisements, affiliate commissions, course or ecommerce sales, and more. The most common metric on how much you get paid in affiliate marketing is EPC (earnings per click).
Another metric is CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). For every 1,000 clicks on the ad, you get paid a fixed amount.
Apart from this, you can also sell products based on your expertise. For example, if you run a travel blog, you could sell brochures on the best tourist destinations. Or if you run a food blog, you could sell e-recipes of your best dishes.
Offer something that is valued by a segment of your audience and bring paid subscriptions to enlist them. The amount could be as low as $5 per month per person. But if you can create the value to attract large volumes, you can start to make a decent income.8. Can You Start a Blog for Free in 2020?
Starting a blog doesn’t have to cost much. You can start a blog with minimal investment and sometimes even for free.
When you start a blog, you need to decide whether you want to self-host it or use a fully-hosted platform. Usually, using a fully-hosted platform costs a small monthly fee. But getting a free platform is easy. Most beginners opt for free, self-hosted platforms, like Tumblr or Blogger.
Here’s a list of some of the best blogging platforms (both paid and unpaid). If you’re serious about blogging, I recommend you go with a paid option.
When you use a free platform, you’ll have to abide by the platform restrictions and will rarely make money. With almost unlimited revenue potential, you should pay to host your blog.9. How Do I Start a Food Blog in 2020?
Food and recipes are one of the most popular things people search for. Since everything is readily available these days, food connoisseurs are willing to try out and experiment with different cuisines and flavors.
Now’s as good a time as any to start your food blog.
Here are some steps to do just that:
– Choose your web hosting company.
– Select a perfect name for your blog that is relevant to your niche.
– Choose the perfect theme for your food blog. The right theme can attract viewers instantly and help you increase your subscriber base.
– Perform keyword research and choose a sub-niche in the food space.
– Start posting and learn how to write recipes in an SEO-friendly manner.
– Get backlinks and guest posts from other food blogs.
– To sustain your blog, you might also want to find out ways to monetize it. Third-party advertisements, affiliate marketing, and selling exclusive recipes are some ways to do that.10. How Do I Start a Travel Blog in 2020?
Traveling is something that most people are passionate about. If you are too, you can start your travel blogging journey and make money from your recommendations.
There are a lot of travel affiliate programs that pay when you recommend anything like hotels, Airbnbs, travel gear, travel insurance, etc.
Here’s how to get started now with a travel blog:
– The first step is to determine the sub-niche of your blog. There are plenty of options, including solo traveling, luxury traveling, budget traveling, family travel, and more.
– The second step is to decide on a name that’ll be an instant hit with your target audience.
– Set up web hosting.
– Get the perfect theme for your travel blog.
– Perform keyword research and choose a sub-niche in the travel space.
– Publish travel articles based on your expertise, and format them for SEO.
– Obtain backlinks and guest posts from other travel blogs.11. How Do I Start a Fashion Blog in 2020?
If you’re interested in the latest styles, starting a fashion blog and tapping into that interest is a great idea.
However, it is a saturated space, which is why you have to make extra efforts to start and grow your fashion blog.
Here’s how you can start your fashion blog:
– Think about what type of fashion you want to talk about in your blog. Fashion can be a broad term, so it’s essential to select a style or niche. For example, do you want to blog about high-fashion or street fashion? Vintage or Gothic?
– Get the perfect name that will hit off instantly with the audience.
– Choose your hosting provider.
– Select the theme that best suits your style and the fashion you want to talk about.
– Create content consistently. Never miss out on blogging.
– Promote it heavily, especially on social media platforms like Instagram.
– Since it’s fashion, you want to give it the maximum exposure you can. Monetize it through social media, podcasts, and advertisements. You need all the attention you can get.12. How Do I Start a Beauty Blog in 2020?
If you have a passion for beauty products and the latest trends, starting a beauty blog could be for you. This type of blog is best paired with a YouTube channel and Instagram account.
Here’s how you can start a beauty blog:
– Think about what you want to talk about in your beauty blog. Oily vs. dry skin? Fair vs. dark complexion? The list is endless, and it’s up to you to decide your focus area.
– Pick your blog’s name. When it comes to beauty, a catchy, memorable name can attract the right audience.
– Again, choose a hosting plan and install a beauty blog theme.
– Do keyword research on the how-to keywords that people are looking for.
– Schedule your articles and make sure to embed YouTube tutorials into your posts.
– Advertise on social media and via email newsletters.
– You can also provide video tutorials and share beauty tips to increase your subscriber base.13. What is WordPress?
WordPress is the simplest way to make web pages and makes up over 30% of the Internet.
WordPress helps you create, publish, and share webpages. It’s also one of the most user-friendly platforms to host blogs. And you only have to pay for the custom name and web hosting.
It is a feature-rich CMS (content management system) that allows bloggers to create, edit, and publish content. It features a dashboard where you can edit posts, media, pages, comments, plugins, themes, users, website settings, and more.14. Should I Use WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
These are two very different platforms.
WordPress.com offers an end-to-end solution to start a simple website for free. You need to sign up, and you are all set to build your website.
WordPress.org is an open-source website platform that can be leveraged only through a paid hosting account.
Here are some key differences between the two platforms to help you make a more informed decision:
.org: It is entirely free to test but to make the website visible and published, you need to buy website hosting and a domain.
.com: You can start a free blog with a WordPress name. To have a custom domain name, you will have to pay at least $4 per month.
.org: Setting up a blog requires some level of technical expertise that includes buying hosting and domain name followed by your integration with your website.
.com: Guides the user in a step-by-step process to make the setup hassle-free.
.org: It offers excellent customization options through more than 7,500 free themes. Users also get to choose thousands of premium themes.
.com: It comes with limited customization options. Free and personal plans offer over 150 themes, and other premium plans offer over 200 paid themes.
.org: You get access to more than 50,000 plugins along with thousands of other third-party apps.
.com: It allows the installation of plugins in only business or ecommerce plans. These plans cost $25 and $45 per month.
Now, it’s up to you to decide which platform aligns the best with your requirements.
YOU’VE STARTED YOUR FIRST BLOG.
As you can see, learning how to start a blog is pretty easy, but you need to consider your options carefully.
Turning your blog into a profitable money-making business requires a smarter approach, SEO mastery, consistency, and hard work.
I have covered pretty much everything you need to know to start your blog. I will continue to update this post over time with the latest blogging techniques.
Now, it’s your turn. Why not start a blog today?