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Starting a blog can be a lucrative way to bring in some extra money, as you’ve probably already guessed. That’s probably what brought you here. You’re probably wondering exactly how to start a blog from scratch that can help you generate an income every month.
Some of the top bloggers earn tens of thousands of dollars a month (and sometimes even more) by using their blog to promote affiliate products, run ads, and sometimes even promote their own products, like eBooks, online courses, and downloadable files.
If you’ve been considering creating a blog, here’s your crash course in how to start and run a successful blog.
You’ll learn how to get started on the technical and creative side of things.
So, if you’re ready to hit the ground running and learn the basics of how to start a blog that can potentially earn you thousands of dollars a month, you’re in the right place.
Here’s how you can start your own blog from scratch using WordPress and a few other tools.
How You Can Start Your Own Blog
1. Choose a Blog Topic & Find a Niche.
Choosing a topic to blog about might be one of hardest things you’ll do up front. You want to find a topic that you’re interested in, but also something that you can make money from — a profitable niche.
Some of the most profitable niches include:
- Health and Fitness
- Personal Finance
- How to Make Money/Generate Wealth
- Personal Development
These are the most popular niches, but they also have a lot of competition.
Choosing a sub-niche can help you differentiate your blog from similar blogs.
2. Pick a Domain Name & Choose a Host.
Choose your domain name wisely. It should be something short, sweet, and easy to remember.
It should also be easy to spell and pronounce.
NameCheap is where I bought my domain name and it only cost $8.88 for a full year.
I recommend using Site Ground to host your site, mainly because it’s simple to use and you can easily integrate your site with WordPress in a matter of minutes.
To do that, sign into your NameCheap account.
Select Domain List from the left sidebar and click the Manage button next to your domain.
Find the Nameservers section and choose your preferred option from the drop-down menu. Then, click on the green checkmark to save your changes.
On Site Ground, you can find your name servers by going to your user area, going to My Accounts, and under the Information & Settings tab, you’ll be able to see them.
3. Download and Install a Theme
You can either use a WordPress theme, or find a theme elsewhere. I recommend Theme Forest because my theme was easy to download and install and they offer up to six months of assistance if you need any help with the process.
The theme I purchased was only $59, but you don’t have to spend that much. In fact, you probably shouldn’t spend more than that on a theme.
There are plenty of themes for less money that could still work for the type of blog you’re going for. It all depends on your topic.
Do your research before buying a theme. Check the reviews and see what issues (if any) other people have had with the theme.
4. Change Your Permalink Settings
After you download and install your theme, you’ll have to change your permalinks once you start editing and replacing the content on the posts that come with the theme.
You can do this after you edit and replace the content on each of your posts. If you’re using WordPress through Site Ground, you can simply go to the document settings on the right hand side of the page and scroll down to the permalink settings.
Choose a permalink name that matches whatever keyword you’re targeting.
Avoid putting numbers or dates in the permalinks, though.
If your post is titled “5 Ways to Market your Blog,” just change the permalink to something like “marketing your blog.”
5. Write Your First Blog Post
Now it’s time to put in the real hard work. Creating your first post might seem daunting, especially if you’re not a writer. And it might seem like it’s going to take forever just to get your blog filled with content.
But don’t let that overwhelm you.
Just take the first step and focus on one thing at a time.
Do your research about the topic and make sure to use reputable sources. Linking to outside (but not competing) sources can help your site gain authority on search engines.
Some of the top bloggers recommend using at least three external links and at least one internal link (although more is okay — just don’t go overboard).
Separate sections into sub-headings to improve readability and break up any long paragraphs — they tend to be hard on the eyes.
You can also use images to break up text. A mix between stock photos and your own images is ideal, but don’t be afraid to start with just stock photos. They’re better than no photos at all.
Once you’re finished writing the article, include a CTA (call to action) at the end that lets your readers know what to do next.
Should they download your ebook? Check out another article on your site? Subscribe to your email list? Leave a comment? Like your post? Share it on social media?
Whatever the case, make sure you use that last bit of space at the bottom to your advantage.
Once you’re done with all of that, it’s time to promote your post.
6. Promote Your Post(s)
There are tons of ways to promote your blog. You’ve just got to find what works for you, rinse and repeat.
Some of the best ways to promote your blog include:
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter)
- Using an email list to grow your audience
- Guest Blogging on other platforms and sites (Medium, Quora, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Posting on forums and message boards for bloggers
Pay attention to which methods are the most successful and focus on those. If you’re getting the most positive feedback on Instagram, you know that’s the channel to focus on. If you’re getting more traffic because of your YouTube videos, then focus on making more videos.
7. Create Your Personalized Email
A personalized email address that ends with @[yoursitename].com is a lot more professional than a Gmail or Yahoo address.
In Site Ground’s cPanel under “email” you can create your own email address. It can be something like info@[yoursitename].com or contact@[yoursitename].com.
If you want to make it easier on yourself when it comes to checking your email, you can always integrate your website email with a Gmail account if you have one.
8. Develop a Long-Term Content Strategy
Developing a long-term content strategy (i.e., creating a content marketing plan) is important if you want to remain consistent in your efforts and really treat your blog like a business.
Because, after all, that’s what it is if you’re trying to make money with it.
Here are some tips for developing your long-term content strategy.
Define Your Goals for Your Blog
So start by defining your goals and asking yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your blog content (what’s your content marketing plan?). Do you want to grow your email list? Drive traffic to get more visitors to your site? Get them to enroll in your online course? Sign up for your webinar?
Figure out what your goals on and then you can start focusing on how you’ll achieve them.
Using SMART goals can help you get specific. SMART goals are:
- Specific – Define the goal as specifically as possible with no ambiguous language. Who will be involved? What do you want to accomplish? Where will it be done? Why are you doing it (reasons/purpose)? What requirements/constraints exist?
- Measurable – How will you track the progress and measure the outcome? How will you know when your goal is accomplished?
- Attainable – Can your goal be reasonably accomplished? How? Make sure your goal is actually attainable and not out of reach.
- Relevant – Will the goal meet your needs? Is it worthwhile? Is each goal consistent with other goals you’ve created? Will each goal fit within your immediate and long-term plans?
- Timely – Write down when (month/day/year) your goal will be accomplished. This can help create a sense of urgency and help you manage your time better so you can achieve your goals.
Define Your Audience
The next thing you’ll need to do is define your audience. Who is your target reader? Who do you want your blog to appeal to? Young moms? Retirees? Pet lovers? The health-conscious?
Get specific about your target audience. Be as detailed as you can and you’ll be much more successful at speaking their language and getting them to know and like your content (and you!).
Here’s an example of a target audience just so you can get an idea of who might fit into yours or what type of audience you’re aiming for.
|Key Demographics Age: 25-50 Gender: 100% Female|
|Key Psychographics: Health nut that loves to eat organic, locally grown food, but doesn’t always get to do that. Loves animals and protecting them in any way she can. Feels loyalty toward brands that have the same or similar values.|
|Challenges: She doesn’t always have the time to prepare healthy foods while running her business and raising a family. She doesn’t always have the budget to purchase foods from high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods.|
|Preferred Channels: Pins healthy food recipes on Pinterest, watches healthy meal prep videos on YouTube, follows health gurus on Instagram.|
|Preferred Content Types: Social media posts, videos, Pins.|
Learn More About Your Audience and Where They Spend Their Time Online
Once you know who your target audience is, you need to start learning more about them and where they spend the majority of their time online.
If you’ve done your homework with defining your target audience, you should already know where your target audience hangs out online.
In the above example, you can see that Jane Doe’s target audience hangs out on Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.
Figure out where your audience spends time online and then tailor your content for those platforms.
Do some market research to determine where your ideal customers are hanging out online.
You can start with a simple profile like the one above, but eventually, you’ll want to get even more specific.
For example, you’ll want to include demographics like location, job title, marital status, industry, and other factors. Under the psychographics category, you’ll want to add factors like interests, belief systems, values, goals, and attitude.
Once you know what qualities your target audience has, you can start creating buyer personas — fictionalized versions of your ideal readers.
You might decide you’re starting a health food blog for Kristen, a 25-30 year old stay-at-home mom from California who loves to cook with organic, locally grown ingredients, but happens to be on a budget because her husband makes less than $50K a year.
Once you’ve created your buyer personas, remember that your goal is to create value for Kristen and your other buyer personas.
So find a way to create content that would appeal to them.
Create Your Content Pillars
Content pillars are the main topics that you always refer back to.
If you’re writing a health blog, your content pillars might look something like this:
- Healthy Food Recipes
- The Basics of Living a Healthy Lifestyle
- Your Take on New Health Trends
- How to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle
For every content pillar, you can write tons of blog posts. Figure out what content pillars would work best for the type of blog you’re creating.
Use the Tools You Need to Make Your Blog Stand Out
When you first start out blogging, things can seem overwhelming, but there are tons of tools that can help you create the blog you’re aiming for — and stay organized and motivated.
For example, just some of the tools include:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools
Headline Creation Tools
- Sharethrough Headline Analyzer
- IsItWP’s Headline Analyzer
- CoSchedule’s Blog Post Headline Analyzer
- Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer
Social Media Tools
Content Promotion Tools
- Google Ads
- Social Media Ad Platforms – Pretty much every social media site allows you to advertise.
- Social Warfare
9. Create (and Commit to) a Regular Publishing Schedule
According to CoSchedule, people who publish consistent content get as much as 30 percent more traffic for every post they publish.
Create a publishing schedule that you can stick to. You don’t have to publish an article or blog post every single day.
You could aim for a few times a week, once a week or even a few times a month.
Whatever kind of schedule you choose, make sure you remain as consistent as possible, especially once you’ve built up an audience because that audience may have come to depend on your content as a trusted source of information.
That means you need to come up with schedule that you can stick to so that you appear professional — like an actual business.
You can bet 100 percent that large companies running their own blogs are publishing regularly. They’ve probably hired a few writers to help ensure they can keep publishing content consistently.
Some companies keep content calendars that help them keep track of which content they plan to publish.
CoSchedule recommends downloading a blog schedule template, a simple Excel spreadsheet that maps out your editorial calendar.
And then defining a blog schedule that’ll help you publish amazing blog posts consistently that help increase your traffic, newsletter subscribers, social media shares, customer conversions, and social media shares.
10. Listen to Your Feedback
After you have your blog up and running and you’re starting to get traffic and comments, pay attention to what your readers are saying and try to incorporate their feedback into the new content that you create.
For example, if people are commenting that they wished you’d covered a certain topic (or expanded on it more) in your latest blog post, go back and add more information to it. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to creating content.
In fact, a lot of bloggers do a content audit regularly to see what content is working for their audience and what content could use more work. Consider doing a content audit on your own blog once you’re established enough and you start getting feedback on it.
You can also gather feedback on your social media pages. See what content is getting the most reach and engagement and you’ll know what kind of content your audience is responding to most.
And once you know that, you can create more of that kind of content to keep your readers engaged and interested in what you’re saying.
Are You Ready to Start Your Own Blog to Generate Passive Income?
Get started using the advice I just gave you and make mama proud. Bookmark this page if you have to. Whatever you do, just make sure you get started. Don’t let another day or week pass by without working on your blogging business.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced while trying to start your blog?
Let me know in the comments.