Ever thought about how to start a blog and grow into a source of real online income? Of course, you have. That’s why you are here. You have an idea, a topic and you want to share it with the world.
Let me tell you something, you can do it. If I can do it, you can too. Tons of people already have.
Blogging has made many people millionaires. It’s crazy to think how blocks of text and a handful of images can change your life.
No wonder it’s something millions of people think about doing but very few actually ever generate a substantial income from their efforts. That’s because they simply don’t know how to go about it.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of blogging, I want to caution a couple of things. blogging isn’t the easiest way to make money. A lot of people talk about blogging like it’s a magic bullet that’s going to solve all your problems.
That’s not how it works.
There’s a lot of things that go behind in building a successful blog. Blogging requires persistence and dedication to build traffic and an audience. It could take you months or even a year.
Also, if your goal is to make money, and you’re not actually passionate about writing, then you’ve already failed. Writing is hard and if you don’t have a deep-seated passion for it, it will eventually wear you down.
That’s why it’s now more important than ever to start your blog the right way.
This in-depth, step-by-step guide, will give you a solid plan to get your blog off the ground and make you life-changing amounts of money.
Let’s jump in.
Choose Your Blog Niche
First and foremost, let’s talk about why this is important. If you’re trying to help everyone, and you have a broad niche, in the end, you’re not going to help as many people as you’d like to.
You can’t please everyone.
It’s better to be an authority figure on one topic as opposed to trying to spread yourself and cover a lot of different topics.
Letting your potential readers know instantly about your strengths and knowledge on the subject is crucial. As soon as they land on your page, they’ll have a clear idea about what they can expect from you.
CAUTION: There’s a huge chance of failure if you choose the wrong topic.
My advice is to choose a topic you enjoy and you’re genuinely interested in. If you don’t love the topic you’re going to write about, you will run out of ideas soon and it will show in your writing.
I should also mention, to bring in traffic and generate passive income, you need to choose a viable blog topic that has a fighting chance to succeed. That’s the ugly truth.
Not all blog topics are profitable. Some will fail no matter how good you are and how hard you try.
The key is to take your personal interest and find a way to make it profitable.
If you’re still struggling to come up with your blog topic, here are some profitable niches you might be interested in:
- Personal finance
- Online Business
Come Up with a Good Domain Name
One of the most difficult things for bloggers when they start out is coming up with their domain name. Trust me, I’ve been there. It is your brand. It’s how people will remember you. You don’t want to mess it up.
So here’s what you can do. You want to choose something that is easy for people to remember and it’s got to be easy to spell. Don’t get over creative here. Keep it simple so people can easily find your blog.
Your domain should include a keyword that describes your content so that people really know what is it you’re talking about. Take Content Marketing Institute, for example. Is there any doubt about who the site is for? Content Marketers, of course!
You could also choose your own name but that won’t be a good fit for everybody. Because it’s not descriptive and people won’t know what you’re blogging about.
Here are some extra tips you can use when brainstorming your domain name:
- Always choose a .com when possible. It is the standard for blogs, and it’s easier for people to remember.
- Avoid using numbers, hyphens, and homophones. It’s confusing.
- Keep it as short and memorable
- Should be easy to say and understand
- Don’t get too clever
Choose a Blog Host
It’s time to get your blog out in the world. There are several hosting providers out there, and for what they do, they offer good value.
Your new hosting company is where your blog will live. You pay a small fee to store all the files and content associated with your blog.
There are tons of different hosts out there, but the hosting provider I recommend is Hostinger. It’s one of the most affordable shared hosting providers on the market today.
Here are a few of my favourite Hostinger features:
- Different payment options like Visa, Paypal, Mastercard, Discover, Bitcoin, Maestro, American Express, and JCB
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Multilingual customer support
- Easy to use interface
- Free SSL certificates
Your blog needs blogging software. Blogging software allows you to create and manage blog posts.
There’s only one blogging software for this. It’s WordPress. By far the best blogging software out there.
As of 2021, more than 455 million websites use WordPress. It powers 37% of ALL websites.
WordPress offers unlimited plugins, that allows you to customize and modify your website the way you want.
Simply put, you need WordPress.
Even without a technical bone in your body, you can install WordPress on Hostinger in just a few clicks.
Login to your Hostinger account. Once you log in, you’ll see your dashboard.
Click on the manage button, and you will be taken to Hostinger’ hPanel control panel which looks like this:
Scroll down and look for the Auto Installer option.
Under Auto Installer, choose WordPress and continue.
The next step is to fill up a WordPress form which includes:
- Verifying your domain name
- Setting up Administrator Username, Password, and Email for WordPress Dashboard
- Providing a Website Title
- Selecting a relevant language
- Opting-in to always update to the latest available version for automatic updates
After filling in these details, hit the Install button. WordPress will then be installed on your Hostinger account.
Once WordPress is installed, click on the three dots next to your WordPress URL and select Manage. Finally, hit the Edit Website button to access your WordPress Admin area.
Design Your Blog Using a WordPress Theme
In the WordPress world, your theme is the design of your website. It dictates how your blog looks to the world. Also, you won’t need any coding knowledge to do this. Amazing, right?
Pick a theme that fits with your brand, and the experience you want readers to have.
There are tons of theme options out there for you to choose from and most times it can make you dizzy.
So I’ll make this simple for you. The theme I use and recommend is Astra. If you want a free WordPress theme, it doesn’t get better than Astra.
If you are looking to up your blogging game and want a premium blog theme, you can go for the Astra Pro. It offers a solid value.
But remember, you can always switch to a different theme, pick something that will work for you now rather than worrying over the perfect option. Like your blog, your themes are probably going to evolve over time as you figure out what works best for you.
To install themes, hover over the “Appearance” menu in the sidebar and click “Themes.”
Click the “Add New” button to get access to a huge directory of free WordPress themes. Once you’re satisfied with a theme, click the “Install” button. After the installation is complete, click the “Activate” button and you’re all set.
You can also install a WordPress theme you downloaded from a third party.
Click the “Choose File” button. Browse through your device to find the third-party theme you downloaded and select it. Once it’s uploaded, click the “Install Now” button and you’re good to go.
Install WordPress Plugins
One of the best things about WordPress is that it is packed with features. And one of those features is called Plugins. Plugins allow you to add certain features to your blog without having to mess with any code.
But there’s a negative side to it. If you have too many plugins, it could slow down your site speed. And if your blog is slow, Google will rank you lower in search engine results.
So while plugins are great, you might only want to install the ones that you absolutely need.
Here are a few that I use and recommend:
Akismet – Required for every blog, it automatically filters a ton of comment spam which is a problem for every blogger. This is one of the few plugins that I happily pay to upgrade.
Yoast SEO – If you want website traffic, you need Google to love your content. By using Yoast SEO, you can make sure your blog posts are putting their best feet forward.
Social Warfare – Social Warfare help get more eyes on your content by making it easy for your existing readers to share your posts on their social media platforms.
Contact Form 7 – Set up a contact page on your site and then use Contact Form 7 to create a contact form that will email you any time someone fills out the form.
MailChimp for WordPress – If you want your blog to grow, turning blog traffic into leads is a must. MailChimp captures the email addresses of your readers so you can continue to engage with them.
Now that we’ve gone over the types of plugins you need, it’s time to install them.
To install a plugin, hover over the plugins menu on the side and click “Add New.” Search for the plugin you want in the search bar and click the “Install Now” button. Then, hit the “Activate” button once the installation is complete.
Build an Email List
For bloggers, email is still one of the most powerful forms of communicating with their readers. It is the best way to build a relationship with potential customers in an intimate way.
According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 per cent return on investment for businesses in the USA.
Email is also personal and direct. People read emails in the privacy of their inboxes. They can ask you questions directly in private without any hesitation. This helps build trust and connection.
So, if someone subscribed to your email list, they dig you and they mean business. They want to hear more from you.
You might not know this but people spend more time reading email than they do on other channels.
According to research conducted by Radicati, there are about 3.8 billion active email accounts out there. That’s half the population of Earth.
Big-name brands learned this lesson a long time ago, that’s why every smart business in the world has an email list.
You can use MailChimp or ConvertKit, and start collecting emails on your blog so that the list is ready for you as soon as you need.
Once you hit a thousand subscribers, you can either upgrade or switch to a different email marketing service provider.
So what are you waiting for? Build your email list right now.
Write Your First Blog Post
On the technical side, your blog is all set up and ready to go. It’s now time for the fun part – content creation.
Write your first masterpiece. Turn your ideas into words and share them with the world.
To write your first post, hover over to the “Posts” menu on the left and click “Add New”. You will be brought to the WordPress block editor and your screen will look like this:
Click on the + button on top to see WordPress’s Gutenberg blocks, which allow you to add headings, media, quotes, and tons of other features to your blog.
Add your title in the title text box. Once you do that, WordPress will create a permalink based on the keywords used in your title.
After the permalink is created you can start typing the body of your post in the large text area.
If you want to add visuals, click on the blue + sign, and select the “Image” block. Choose “upload”, “select image” or “insert from URL.” and upload your image.
It’s understandable if you are new to WordPress and finding it difficult. But these blocks will get easier the more you use them so don’t worry. You just need a little bit of practice.
Promote Your Blog
You’re a new blogger so no one is going to pay attention to you. You could write some kickass content the world has ever seen, and no one’s going to know it even exists.
Unless you put it right in front of them.
My advice is to spend more time promoting your posts than writing them because, without proper promotion, your blog is virtually invisible.
Here are three effective promotion strategies you could incorporate in your marketing:
Use Social Media
For many bloggers, sharing their content on social media is still an effective way to get more visibility and traffic.
To earn your potential readers trust, maintain a regular presence on your chosen social networks and post consistently. Show up every day. Even if you don’t have a new post, engage with other people by liking and sharing their content.
But not all social channels are the same. You need to vary the message in your social media posts to suit each network.
For example, tools like Blog2Social and Sendible allow you to tailor your posts per network by using a long or short message, adding relevant hashtags or mentions, and selecting a portrait or landscape image.
Sendible also offers content recycling so you can continue to promote your content on a regular basis, as well as a social inbox so you can manage replies and engage with your audience.
Make Friends with the Right People
You can never do everything on your own. We all need support. Even the greatest minds needed support when they first started out.
You might be asking yourself how do I get support? Who’s going to support me?
Well, here’s how you do it.
Make a list of 10 established bloggers in your industry. Make a commitment to read and comment on their posts every day. Leave kind and helpful comments, so other bloggers notice you.
Also, don’t forget to share their content on your social channels. Nothing says “thank you” like sharing a post on LinkedIn or Twitter. Over time, two or three bloggers on your list will start to notice you and may even promote a few of your posts to their audience.
In short, reach out to other bloggers in the hopes of making powerful friends.
Join a Community
One of the best strategies to share your blog and get more exposure is by joining a group of like-minded bloggers. There are many groups on Facebook and LinkedIn dedicated to bloggers.
It will require time and effort, but eventually, you’ll find the right people. These are bloggers that you resonate with and enjoy interacting with. Over time, you’ll become friends with them, and when there is a collaboration opportunity they may ask you to join in.
Please keep in mind that the way to get noticed in these communities you have to provide value and be as helpful as possible. Don’t join a Facebook group and start posting links to all of your content. Instead, answer questions and join in the existing conversations.
Monetize Your Blog
When you’re just starting out as a blogger, your primary focus in the first few months should be on creating intoxicating content and building relationships with other bloggers.
Once you’ve settled in and know the game inside and out, you can consider earning some money with your blog.
Here are five ways you can make money by blogging:
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing is one of the best ways to earn some passive income from your blog. Promote various products and services on your site and earn a commission if a reader clicks on one of your links and makes a purchase.
Use Google Adsense or other ad networks to display ads on your site. In order to earn significant income, your traffic numbers must be high.
3. Freelancing and consulting
You use your blog as a platform to find clients and customers for your own services.
4. Digital Products
The top bloggers make most of their income from selling their own digital products. Digital products include eBooks, courses, printable, paid webinars, and email courses.
5. Sponsored Posts
Partner up with a company and get paid to promote their products. Typically you’re paid on a ‘per post’ basis as opposed to affiliate links, which require you to make a sale in order to get paid.
Starting a blog is easy. But creating one that will be successful requires patience, grit and effort.
Like everything else in life, there will be obstacles and distractions attempting to throw you off tracks but remain focus and stick your guns. I promise you’ll reap the rewards one day.
Remember that you’re speaking to humans. Humans who are just like you and me.
As you continue to consistently create great content, the right people will come to you, listen and convert.