Before you decide to start a blog, I have one question for you. Do you want to learn how to start a blog to write about your passions or to make life-changing money?
If you’re reading this because you’re a hobby blogger and need to fulfill your creative writing urge, that’s admirable, but this article isn’t for you.
However, if you want to make real, life-changing money from a new blog this year, read on.
With four million blog posts published daily, blogging is more competitive now than ever. Many think blogging is too saturated or it’s too late to make money.
The entire reason I created my personal brand blog SocialSpiker.com in 2019 was to prove that you can start blogging now and make a significant income in months, not years.
This will cover how to choose the right niche, generate traffic, and monetize your site in the fastest timeframe possible – all while working full-time.
Today, I will help you learn how to start a blog using the same tactics I used to grow from zero , start making over $35k/month, and quit my full-time job in 6 months.
So why should you follow my blogging advice?
- I launched this blog in January 22019, and in my September Blog Income Report, you can see that I made $35,174.
- This blog hit 150k monthly unique visitors within nine months in the competitive marketing niche.
- I am an affiliate manager turned affiliate marketer – I learned a ton about affiliate marketing and SEO working for high growth SaaS startups.
- This blog currently makes over $20k/month from passive affiliate revenue.
- The blogs I’ve learned from aren’t those of individual bloggers, but the blogs of high growth startups like HubSpot, BigCommerce, G2 Crowd, and others.
- I’ve failed a lot of times in the past and genuinely want you to succeed. So much blogging advice out there is outdated, and 95% of bloggers are still failing – I want to change that.
Let’s get started.
HOW TO START A BLOG IN 9 EASY 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.
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 you fancy, 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 bloggers 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 based on the real primary factors: audience revenue potential, professional leverage, and 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?
In order 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 51-year old American male working in the medical 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:
- 25-50 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.
In fact, this tends to be a common approach most 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 exactly 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 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 out, 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.
3. 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 on Google.
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 bloggers should search for are medium volume, low competition keywords.
For example, let’s take a look at my post on Webinar Software.
- 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.
Pro Tip: 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:
- Google Keyword Planner
WRAPPING UP PICKING YOUR NICHE.
After doing your keyword research, discovering a lucrative audience, 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 definitely 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 Google Docs file.
Here are the sections I used:
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
- 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
That’s it. 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 you rank on Google. 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 domain 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.
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.
That said, some high-quality domains can run you as high as $10,000 to $1MM depending on the perceived value.
2. YOUR PERSONAL NAME AS A DOMAIN NAME?
Many people prefer to use their own 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 Google and other 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 be easy to remember and type. That’s why a dot com extension is an excellent option.
- Do not confuse people with difficult spellings and therefore keep the name that is easy to spell and pronounce.
- Avoid using numbers and hyphens in your domain as it confuses 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, but it might help people identify your blog’s niche right away. Plus, it also helps search engine spiders determine what your blog is all about.
Check out the tools mentioned in this article to generate your own domain – 27 Best Name Generators.
If your preferred domain name is not available, most of the tools mentioned in the article will provide you with alternate suggestions.
4. CHOOSE A WEB HOSTING COMPANY AND REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN.
Every website needs a web host to store it on a server so that people can access it on the internet. Naturally, without a hosting account, your blog won’t be visible on the internet.
The performance of your blog will rely heavily on your web hosting provider. An excellent hosting platform will make your blog available on the internet 24/7 without causing any interruption.
You should choose a host that is reliable, popular and comes at an affordable price. During the starting stage of your blog, you do not need to buy any additional offers.
At this stage, your best option is the beginner hosting plan. However, even when you plan to scale your blog, Bluehost is an ideal option.
- 99% Server Uptime
- The company takes excellent security measures
- High-speed servers
- Have a big name in the industry
- 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 itself
- Low introductory pricing
- Money back guarantee
You can also head to my detailed Bluehost review here: Bluehost Reviews 2019: 11 Reasons To Believe The Hype
Next, register your domain name with Bluehost and choose a web hosting plan that aligns best with your expectations.
Follow this step-by-step guide to register your domain name along with your web hosting plan with Bluehost:
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 domain 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 domain name.
If you have already selected your domain name, then you can register your domain name here. The best part is that with Bluehost, you get your domain name for free for the first year.
If you are still confused and need more time to come up with a more catchy name, you can always choose your domain later.
Next, you will be prompted to create your account – the final step of the process.
STEP#4 ENTER YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS.
Here are the “Account Information” details that you would have 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, and more.
Upon scrolling down, you will 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 offers attractive pricing deals for longer upfront payment. 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 price.
In the screenshot above, you have another section called “Package Extras.”
You can uncheck Codeguard Basic and SiteLock Security.
Finally, pick a payment option. You can choose to make the payment via credit card or PayPal.
STEP#5 YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERED YOUR DOMAIN NAME AND 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.
Now, you need to enter your domain name and create a password for your Bluehost account. The password for your WordPress blog will come later via email.
STEP#7 FINALLY, LOG IN TO BLUEHOST.
Use the password you just set to log in to your account. You can also sign in with Google.
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 a perfect blogging platform.
Your blogging 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 numerous free as well as paid blogging platforms available on the internet.
Have a look at some of the top blogging platforms:
Most people run their blogs on WordPress, which is apparent from the above statistic. Not only is it user-friendly, but it is extremely powerful.
WordPress also offers multiple free plugins, themes, and various ways to modify your blog.
The best part is that you don’t even need to have a technical bone in your body. You can pretty much install it in a couple of steps.
If you are using Bluehost, it gets even better as it provides 1-Click WordPress Installation.
However, before you choose WordPress as your preferred CMS, you have two options: WordPress.com and WordPress.org to choose from.
Here are some of the common differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
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 branding and needs to be something that you own outright. You shouldn’t rely on a subdomain or blog site like Tumblr to host your personal blog.
WordPress.com 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 domain name, you would have to pay an extra amount.
It also comes with limited monetization and analytics options. On top of that, with WordPress.com, you can’t upload plugins and themes from outside WordPress.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, gives you complete freedom to download plugins and themes from different platforms, customize your blog’s design, monetize your blogging efforts, and more.
Naturally, it is 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 a few minutes.
INSTALL WORDPRESS WITH BLUEHOST’S ONE-CLICK INSTALLATION PROCESS.
Bluehost automatically installs WordPress without any effort on your part.
After you are done setting up your account password for Bluehost, you will be prompted to pick some themes.
You will get 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 will be 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 can help you in the process.
Finally, enter your “Site Title” and your “Site Description.”
From here, you will be directed to a page where you will decide the layout of your blog.
This doesn’t even begin to cover the customization capabilities of WordPress. However, this prepares the base of your blog.
From here, spend some time making yourself familiar with all 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 suits your needs the best.
This brings us to our next step.
6. PICK YOUR BLOG’S THEME.
Now that you have a fully functional blog up and running, you need to choose your WordPress theme.
For now, your blog will look something like this:
This is the default WordPress theme, and on the side is the menu that will help you customize the theme.
While it is not the fanciest theme out there, it is still workable. Admittedly, we can do a lot better.
Giving your blog an attractive look without indulging in any coding exercise is important for every new blogger.
Moreover, it is essential to create a look that is practical as well as eye-catching.
Naturally, blogs that are designed in a way that makes it easier for visitors to find information easily tend to get maximum traction.
Blogs and websites designed with clunky and poorly organized layout create difficulty in finding information for readers.
WordPress comes inbuilt with numerous free as well as paid themes you can choose from. You would be surprised to know that WordPress offers more than 3,000 themes for free to its users.
So, as a new blogger, you don’t necessarily have to spend more money to install a paid theme.
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).
Access the page by going to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.
Here, add your WordPress login credentials.
Your WordPress dashboard will look something like this.
It might seem pretty daunting at first, but you will get used to it eventually. Remember, you are going to spend a lot of time here.
Here, you have to click on the “Appearance” option from the sidebar menu.
Next, select the “Themes” option from the ‘Appearance’ section.
To search for the options WordPress offers, click the “Add New” button at the top of the page.
As you can see below, you now have access to thousands of fancy themes that are entirely free of cost.
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 is going to look like:
After you apply the filters, you will be able to narrow down the options according to your preference.
Click on the thumbnails to 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.
Additionally, if you purchased a paid theme from another site, this will be provided to you as a zip file. All that you have to do to install this theme is to click “Add New,” upload the zip file and click install.
Congratulations, you now have a WordPress site with a new theme installed.
Still need web hosting? Try Bluehost and get 63% off your hosting plan with my link below:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT THEME.
- Read the descriptions of the various WordPress themes to get an idea about their functionality and 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. This will make your blog managing the task easier and help you gain massive traffic.
- WordPress also allows users to give ratings to their themes; hence, make sure to check out the reviews & ratings to discern the quality of the theme.
- Before installing a theme, make sure to check its demo or preview to know how it looks in real-time.
The best thing about the theme is that you can change it anytime you want, without disrupting your content.
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 and other websites as well. However, sometimes, they aren’t enough to satisfy the needs of the users and come with limited options.
That said, as a new blogger, you can start your blog with a free theme and then move on to a more personalized option. As long as it loads fast and allows you to start publishing content, there’s no reason not just to get started now and worry about your perfect design later.
Premium themes mostly come in the price range of $30 to $500. Custom themes are designed according to the specific design needs of the website or blog owners. Therefore, these themes come with a hefty price and can range from $500 to $2000, according to the needs of the users.
7. INSTALL YOUR WORDPRESS PLUGINS.
The best thing about WordPress is that its open-source nature allows it to be customized in an endless amount of ways. And it starts with WordPress plugins.
Plugins are a small set of software tools that are used to enhance the functionality of your WordPress site.
You can install many plugins to add additional features to your site without any coding skills.
WordPress literally offers thousands of plugins with different functionalities, including those for email marketing and enhancing the SEO of your site.
However, it is not recommended to install hundreds of plugins on your site as they are bound to slow down your website and create conflict with each other. Moreover, it is quite complex for site owners to manage hundreds of plugin efficiently. If any problem occurs, then it will be difficult for you to find which plugin is creating a problem.
That’s why I curated a list of the 15 best WordPress plugins to help you enhance your new blog (and the 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 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 plugins, 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 Google Docs 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 plugins, and ShortPixel has been the best.
This is one of my favorite affiliate marketing plugins. 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 others.
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 SEO doesn’t really 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.
8. SET UP YOUR SITE’S SEO AND PERMALINK STRUCTURE.
Have a look at the link below:
This 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 is abysmal from the SEO point of view as well.
So, before you get down to 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” structure.
Make sure to save the settings before exiting the page.
In addition, make sure you set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These two tools are 100% necessary and can be easily integrated with the Yoast plugin.
Now you are done with all the bells and whistles. You have purchased a host, set up your domain, installed the WordPress theme of your choice, and optimized your website’s permalinks.
Now, let’s start with the content for your blog.
9. CREATE PILLAR CONTENT FOR YOUR BLOG.
After completing the framework of your blog, it’s time to create content.
The world is your oyster. However, you still have to write content on your selected niche, keeping your target audience in mind.
If you write great content that your audience wants to read, they are likely to keep coming back to your blog.
You need to carefully figure out the topics of your new blog posts and the right way or format and write it.
Remember, 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.
All these additions in a blog make it look more readable and help the readers to pay more attention to your content.
Moreover, it is essential to write engaging content that helps you draw visitors and compel them to take suitable action on your blog.
Even if you create a well-structured and neatly designed blog post, it won’t gain traction if your content is not engaging and valuable for your target audience.
Before creating content for your blog, make sure to put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask yourself these pertinent questions:
- 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?
Right down all the answers to the questions mentioned above. It will help you come up with amazing blog post ideas that will attract your audience and make them convert into your permanent readers.
IMPORTANT TIPS ON CONTENT WRITING.
- Write content for your niche blog by understanding the choice of the potential audience. Your blog posts should always provide value to your readers. Make a clear idea about the content (based on the questions mentioned above) and write down the points that you want to cover. Finally, structure your whole blog post according to predefined points.
- Present your blog content attractively and make it easily accessible to the readers. Make sure both textual and visual content in the blog are of top-notch quality.
- Never make your content commercially focused as it irritates readers. Blogs loaded with too many advertising and promotional links look unattractive to most people. Your audience will only engage with your blog if you provide them with valuable content.
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 out 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, H4 headings
- Double-check for typos and grammatical errors
WRITE YOUR FIRST BLOG POST.
Here’s how to proceed writing 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.
While crafting your blog post, make sure to keep the above tips in mind.
After you are done with your article, make sure to make some optimizations to make it rank higher in search engines.
This can be done easily using the Yoast SEO plugin (what I mentioned before as well).
CREATE PRE-LAUNCH CONTENT.
Pre-launch content includes the content for static pages of the blog, such as About us, Contact, Home Page, and more.
1. ABOUT PAGE.
The About Page of the blog consists of the information about what your blog is all about.
On this page, you can tell your readers about the niche of your blog in detail and also share why you are running this blog.
This section will help you connect with your readers on a personal basis, so make sure to talk about your life in detail.
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
- Your success story
It might be called an About page (or in my case, a “My Story” page), but it doesn’t mean that you will only talk about yourself.
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 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. THE SIDEBAR.
It is a column that appears on the right or the left side of the blog. The sidebar is used to show blog categories, recent posts, ads, etc. A sidebar gives your readers quick access to the essential information.
Apart from the pages mentioned above, you also have to write the title and description of every blog page for SEO.
You need to take care of the four critical settings:
- SEO Title
- Meta Description
- Focus Keyword
Yoast will help you access real-time feedback on how your blog will 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 are good to go, and your blog is likely to perform great 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.
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 Google, 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 of search engines 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 on search engines, generate more traffic, and ultimately, more revenue.
YOU’VE CREATED 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.
To monetize your blog, make sure to go through my guide on How to Make Money Blogging, where I talk about in-depth on how you can scale up your content creation process and earn money with affiliate marketing, courses, a podcast, Google AdSense, selling your own products, and more.
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 profitable WordPress blog today?