Blogging

How to Start a Blog & Make Money

Blogging isn’t something everyone is cut out for. Moreover—most people don’t understand what blogging is—at least not entirely. Learning how to start a blog involves a lot more than setting up WordPress and having a keyboard. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to blog, the type of writing readers expect, and how to make money blogging. Here’s me giving back some of that knowledge.

What is a Blog, Exactly?

Blogging is a term used to describe content-focused websites where first-person perspectives are often used to discuss topics. Blogs are popular choices for review sites, affiliate websites, and even business marketing tools. Blogging can be used to make money or simply as a hobby—the concepts remain mostly the same.

Learning how to start a blog is as simple—or complicated—as you want to make it. I recommend focusing on creating content for 9/10 people. That means don’t get hung up on making everything look just the way you’d like it. User experience is important but you should always prioritize creating content for your audience. If that means hiring someone to design your blog, so be it.

5 Steps to Start Blogging

I’ve distilled the steps required to start a successful blog into a concise list of actions. These are simplified, cover a lot, and should be regarded as allowing for more detailed expansion once you gain a basic understanding. Again, blogging can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.

1. Find a Niche & Keyword Research

keyword research illustration

The term “Niche” is a word to describe a certain interest group within a category. For example; blogging is a niche withing writing. It’s mostly semantics, but that’s the vocabulary most people use when discussing online topics and audience interest groups!

Successful blogs all have, at least, one thing in common: content that attracts the interest of large numbers of readers. In other words, if you don’t write about topics people want to read about then people won’t visit your website. Pretty simple right?

Keyword research is a process by which you can discover topics that users are interested in reading about. You can also discover how many other websites are writing about those topics and how hard it will be for your website to compete with them for readership. That’s called Competitor Analysis and is an important part of keyword research.

Free tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner can help you find topics to write about. Other tools like SemRush can help find even more. Average Monthly Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty are the two numbers you should pay most attention to. These two numbers describe how many people are interested in a topic and how easy your website can appear in search results for that topic.

2. Make A Content Roadmap

blogging content roadmap

Learning how to start a blog is only partly related to setting up websites, finding a web host, and actually writing. The most important aspect, at least in this blogger’s opinion, is to know what you’re going to blog about before you start blogging. That means having a plan.

Step 2 builds on the info you got from Step 1 doing keyword research. Take a handful of popular keywords that you want to blog about and create a series of blog titles. Here’s what you should consider:

  1. Separate Distinct Keywords into Unique Articles
  2. Don’t Create Overlapping Articles for Single Keywords
  3. Create Links Between Related Articles

Three steps may seem too few but trust me: that’s all you need to get started blogging! Having this simple plan will ensure that all the content you create for your blog continues to support your other content. That’s how to build authority for a blog and will ensure each new article works to strengthen the likelihood that your previous articles will rank for your keywords. But what’s ranking mean?

3. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization for blogging infographic

The term “ranking” is used to describe the search engine optimization (SEO) process used to make your blog appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). For example, if you were blogging about computer games you might want your blog to appear to users searching for “Best PC Games” in Google. Taking SEO actions for your website can help.

SEO is a very big field and can get pretty complicated. The basics are pretty simple and easy to apply:

  1. Include main keywords in the opening paragraph
  2. Included related keywords in headings and titles
  3. Don’t have multiple URLs for a single page (setup canonical URLs)
  4. Create quality, original content
  5. Don’t buy cheap SEO services

There’s a lot of technical considerations to make for SEO. Fortunately, blogging platforms like WordPress can handle the majority of that for you automatically! At this point, you can start writing content. You know what to write about and, given a little SEO knowledge: you know how to write it! After you’ve created your content then you can worry about the presentation!

4. Setting Up Your Website

website setup infographic

Setting up a website is another task that can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Unless you’re already familiar with website design, I suggest using the following setup:

  1. WordPress
  2. Premium Theme
  3. Managed WordPress Webhosting

These three products and services will help avoid the majority of technical work required to start blogging. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) built specifically for blogging. As it’s grown, however, WordPress can be used for just about any type of website you can imagine!

WordPress Themes are products that you buy and install (with one click usually) that change the way your website looks and behaves. For example, if you were a Real Estate Agent you could buy a Real Estate WordPress Theme and your website would look similar to other real estate sites—as easy as that!

Web hosting is the service that is required to ensure a website can be accessed by others. It’s essentially a service that rents you a computer in the cloud, on which your website responds to requests from visitors to show them pages.

I won’t dive into the weeds of computer networking or web hosting; it’s boring! Managed WordPress Web Hosting is a service that ensures your blog is fast, always available, and gets quickly fixed anytime something goes wrong. In other words, it lets you focus on creating content and making money!

5. Marketing Your Blog

digital marketing for bloggers illustration

After you have some initial content online you’ll likely hit the first hurdle of blogging: how to get visitors to your blog! Many people put so much energy into creating content and getting their website set up they forget to plan for their initial marketing. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great looking website with great content that no one is visiting.

Learning how to market a blog is no easy task. There’s a lot of options out there including paid advertising, guest posting, forum posting, and even word-of-mouth promotion. The one thing I find true to nearly every blog I’ve started is this: nothing happens overnight. This pitfall is why the earlier steps are so important.

Many bloggers get frustrated and quit at this point. Without a plan, some initial traction, and having to deal with technical details will only magnify such frustration—that’s why steps 1-4 are so important! There are many different ways to market a blog but these are, in my experience, the most effective:

  1. Influencer Marketing
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEO/SEM)
  3. Cost-Per-Click Advertising (CPC)
  4. Guest Posting/Manual Outreach (Backlinks)
  5. Forum Posting

There are no sure-things when it comes to marketing your website. Knowing your options and understanding when and how to apply them effectively is key. In addition to the above marketing options, you also need to consider your website’s brand. This includes how other people and other websites see your blog. Here are some key branding considerations:

  1. Easy to Remember .com Domain Name
  2. Social Media Profiles Linking to Your Website
  3. On-Page SEO With Authorship & Website Information

These steps are simple and will help ensure that search engines know your content was created by you, that your links and content will display well on places like Facebook, and that your blog will stand out in people’s memory!

Get Started!

The steps I’ve outlined here will get you started blogging in no time. They will steer you towards success, help you maximize the impact of your efforts, and help you avoid common mistakes. Staying motivated is another important part of starting a blog. I’ll leave you with this video to help decide whether you really want to start a blog!

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