When I decided to learn how to start a blog I had no idea where to begin.
Since that day, I can honestly say that starting a blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. What people don’t realize is that it doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive.
In fact, you can have your own blog up and running TODAY by following my simple, easy-to-follow steps. People who follow this guide are typically ready to start blogging within 20-minutes, it really is that easy.
My name is Lewis and for the last 7-years, I have been a full-time blogger. I’ve put this guide together so that more people, just like you, can build their own blog.
This is the guide I wish I had when I first started out. I wasted countless days trying to figure it all out, and I don’t want you to have to do the same. So let’s get to it.
Be sure to bookmark this guide so you can come back to it as we start your blog together.
How to Start a Blog in 8 Easy Steps
1. Choosing a Domain Name
This is the most exciting part…what to name your blog. A Domain name is the website address you type into a web browsers address bar in order to find your blog.
The domain name for this site is cloudincome.com.
Now unless you need to target a specific country such as the UK (.co.uk) or Australia (.com.au) I suggest you go with either a .com, .net or .org domain extension.
It’s also best to go with a ‘brandable’ domain name, one that’s catchy yet describes what your blog is about or perhaps using your own name.
If you need some help coming up with a suitable name for your blog, you can use this free handy tool that generates some great ideas.
Register Your Domain Name With NameCheap
The best domain registrar I have found by far is NameCheap.com. They offer a nice user interface and great domain name prices and unlike some other companies, you don’t get stung when it comes to renewing your domain.
1. Head over to NameCheap.com and enter your desired domain name into the search field and click the search icon.
On the next page, you will see the search results which will advise you if your chosen name is available to register or not. You may find that you need to have a couple of tries if the name you want isn’t available.
When you see the following screen you can now go ahead and register that domain name for yourself.
The green check-mark indicates that your domain name is available to register, now you hit the “Add to Cart” button and follow the checkout steps. The checkout process is just like any other online purchase and NameCheap make it really easy and straightforward so I’ll skip the details in this guide (you really won’t need them!).
Login To NameCheap
Now you’ve registered your domain name and created your NameCheap account, you can log in using the details you provided (check your welcome email if you’re unsure of the email address or password used.
2. Setting Up Web Hosting
This is the second and most important step in setting up your blog. A web host provides storage space for all of your files, images, and content. It allows you to have your blog accessible on the web.
What you need is a hosting company that is well-established and one you can trust and is recommended by others. My personal preference is SiteGround.
I have been with them since the very beginning and they have never let me down. Here are just some of the reasons why I recommend SiteGround for your blog:
Reasons To Choose SiteGround
- Reason 1: Support – They offer 24/7 live support via phone, email, support ticket or live chat.
- Reason 2: User Interface – SiteGround make it easy for beginners with their friendly user interface
- Reason 3: Reliability –The key to a good web host is the ability to keep your blog live 99.9% of the time.
- Reason 4: WordPress – SiteGround is recommended by WordPress themselves and allow you to perform a simple one-click install of the WordPress blogging platform.
- Reason 5: Server Space – SiteGround offers generous storage space, bandwidth, and even domain names, so you can create more than one blog and host it on the same account…saving you money.
- Reason 6: Guarantee – They offer a no questions asked, 30-day money back guarantee.
- Reason 7. Affordability – SiteGround offers a fantastic discount to readers of CloudIncome. Meaning you can get started today from just $3.95 per month.
But don’t just take my word for it. I’ve scoured the major Facebook Groups where the other pro’s hangout to show you what others are using for their blog hosting solution.[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”] [/lgc_column] [lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”] [/lgc_column]
As you can see, I’m not the only one who’s happy with the service SiteGround provide. With great 24/7 customer service, they’re perfect for both new and established bloggers alike.
3. Setting Up Your Blog
The vast majority of people who use this guide are able to create their own blog in less than 16-minutes, with zero additional help.
Now Follow The Steps Below to have a blog set up in under 10-minutes:
1. Either click the orange button above or click here to get your $3.95 per month special rate at SiteGround and click the ‘Get Started’ button on the “StartUp” plan (you can always upgrade at a later date once your blog is more established).
2. On the next screen, you will be asked to choose a domain and have 2-options.
- Register a new domain name
- Enter an existing domain name.
If you’ve completed step 1 above then you already have a domain name, simply choose option 2 and type the domain name into the box as shown below. Finally, click the proceed button to continue to the checkout page.
IMPORTANT: It’s crucial here that you enter the domain name correctly – watch for typos!
3. The checkout page will look like the one below, each section will ask for a few pieces of information in order to get your hosting package site up and running.
- Account Information – Enter you email address & Password (Note these down somewhere safe).
- Client Information – You personal details, name, address & tel number.
- Payment Information – Your credit/debit card billing details and billing address (if different)
- Purchase Information – A confirmation of your hosting plan
- Pay Now – Complete the final steps to set your hosting account live
Grab Your NameServer Details
Having set up your hosting account and logged in, you will be on the SiteGround dashboard page where you can control every aspect of your account. The first thing we want to do is grab our name servers to use with our registrar (NameCheap).
A name server is simply a way to tell the domain name which servers are hosting all of the relevant website files.
You can find your SiteGround name server details by heading to “My Accounts” and browsing to the “Account DNS” section of that page. An example of what you will find can be seen in the image above.
Make a note of the details you see in this section ready to use in the next step.
Update NameCheap Name Server Details
We will now head over to namecheap.com and log into the account we created earlier. You will be taken to the main dashboard and from here we need to view our registered domain names by clicking on “Domain List” in the left navigation menu.
From here you will see the domain name we registered earlier and we need to click “Manage” to go to the settings of the domain.
Finally, we will scroll to the “NAMESERVERS” section, click the dropdown and choose “Custom DNS”.
Now you can enter the name server details provided by SiteGround into the dotted lines. Be sure to click the green check-mark to save the changes.
Now the DNS changes you’ve made (to tell the registrar and web browsers etc who is hosting your website files) they need to propagate, which simply means updating all the technical side of things. This can typically take 24-36 hours but it can happen as quickly as a few hours, it really does depend.
What we can do now whilst we wait, it go ahead and set up our blog.
Installing WordPress With SiteGround
You’ll be glad to hear that the hard and technical parts are now done! From here on out each step is simple and straight-forward as we use ready-made tools to help us get our blog up-and-running.
We can now install our blogging platform of choice…WordPress. Simply click the “Home” menu item, scroll down and click “Install WordPress”
From the “My Accounts” tab of your SiteGround dashboard, locate the auto installers section and click on the WordPress icon.
9. On the next page, click the blue “Install” button to start the automatic WordPress install.
You will be presented with the following screen (click the image to view a larger size). Each element is detailed below.
Complete each section of the form using the guidelines below and using your own information. Remember to jot down your Admin Username & Password for later use.
- Choose Protocol – There are 4 options here (with/without SSL and with/without www.), I recommend you choose the https://www. protocol.
- Choose Domain – You should only have a single domain here unless you’ve added another to SiteGround.
- In directory – This should be left blank to install the WordPress blogging software on our root domain and not in a sub-folder.
- Site Name – Enter your site name here E.g “The Cloud Income Blog”
- Site Description – The description doesn’t need to be too detailed E.g “Making Tech Simple”
- Admin Username – This is the username you will be using to log into your blog (avoid “admin”)
- Admin Password – This is the password you will be using to log into your blog (use this free password generator tool to create something secure).
- Admin Email – Your active email address.
- Select Language – This is preset to English, however, if you speak and write in another language and would prefer WordPress to display that language, select it here.
- Limit Login Attempts -This is an optional plugin SiteGround will install to prevent multiple unsuccessful login attempts from bots and hackers (recommended)
- Classic Editor – WordPress recently released its Gutenberg update which changed the blogging interface dramatically. I suggest you enable this to use the older interface.
- WordPress Starter -Optional extras provided by SiteGround with free themes and plugins designed to help you set up a stylish blog more quickly.
- Install – Once you’re happy with the information entered it’s time to install WordPress.
That’s all there is to it. You’re now the proud owner of a brand new WordPress Blog.
In Step 4, we will take a WordPress crash course where you will learn enough to have your first article/page written and published on the world wide web!
4. WordPress Crash Course
In this step, I will show you how to access your brand new WordPress blog and make some important changes so you can have your very first blog post published to the web in no time. Excited?… You should be!
This Section Contains:
- WordPress Basics
- How To Log Into WordPress
- Pages vs Posts
- Creating and Editing Pages
- Writing Blog Posts
- Adding Images
WordPress is known as a CMS or Content Management System and was specifically designed to make blogging and creating websites easy. Since WordPress now operates over XX% of all websites globally, you can understand why this is our platform of choice.
WordPress.org or WordPress.com
You may have noticed that there are two versions of WordPress available and it can be confusing, so let me break it down for you:
- WordPress.com = Hosted by WordPress and you don’t own the domain name – E.g thegreatblogger.wordpress.com
- WordPress.org = Hosted by your hosting company and you own the domain name and have full control – E.g thegreatblogger.com
Both of the above options are free to use, however since we want to build our blog on a stable platform and have full ownership and control of our domain name and the content we produce, we will be using WordPress.org.
This was automatically installed by SiteGround when you set up your hosting, but I wanted you to understand the difference as it’s a common stumbling block for many new bloggers.
How To Log Into WordPress
The default login URL for any WordPress installation is: https://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php
Simply add /wp-login.php to the end of your domain name in the URL address bar of your browser and you will be prompted with the login window:
Here we will use the username and password we created in Step 2. You should have jotted those down on a notepad or in a text editor, if not you can load up your email account and find the recent email you received which has the title “Enter Title Here”.
Once you have successfully logged in you will find yourself on the WordPress Dashboard…get used to seeing this page, this will be your command center from here on!
Forgotten Your Username or Password?
If you have forgotten your username or your password, simply click the ‘Lost your password?’ text link and the next page will ask you to enter your email address.
Pages vs Posts
WordPress offers 2 ways to add written content to your website in the form of a Page OR a Post and it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Once you get this, you can literally write your first blog entry and hit publish.
A Post is the most commonly used way to add content to a blog, since typically a blog is a chronological list of ‘diary-like’ entries, using Posts allows you to add content to your blog and they will appear in the order you wrote them.
Whilst they can be updated at any time, they will, for the most part, remain static and untouched. They will not appear on your blog as new entries and you should add these to the header/footer of your blog or website.
Creating & Editing Pages
Now that we’ve login in and understand the difference between posts and pages on WordPress, it’s time to create your first page.
From the WordPress dashboard, hover over “Pages” in the left navigation menu and click “Add New”.
The image below shows the main areas of the edit page screen in WordPress.
Whilst your page may look a little different to mine, below I explain the 8 key elements you need to know to get started on your blogging journey. (I’ve blurred out a few things that you definitely won’t have on your page right now to save confusion).
- This is where you add a catchy title
- This is where you set the desired URL for your new page
- The “Add Media” button allows you to upload and insert images
- This is the main blogging section when you write your blog posts/page content
- The ‘Save Draft‘ button does exactly as it says – saves your work for a later date and time
- The ‘Preview‘ button will open your article in a new browser tab so you can see how it looks
- The blue ‘Publish‘ button is the final step when you’re 100% happy with your page/post
- A featured image is used for a more visually appealing intro to your pages/posts
Creating & Editing Posts
This part is going to be really simple, as it’s exactly the same process to create a post as it is to create a page.
From the WordPress dashboard, hover over “Posts” in the left navigation menu and click “Add New”.
Then follow the steps above for creating a new page. Simple.
Adding images into your blog posts and articles is made really simple with WordPress. There are two main ways to go about it:
1. Add Images when editing a Page or Post
If you’re already creating and editing a page/post you can click the “Add Media” button at the top left of the screen which will open up a dialog box when you can either drag and drop your images OR browse your hard drive for a saved image.
2. Add Images via the Media Library
The same can be done using the WordPress Media Library. Any image you upload to your blog will be saved, which makes it useful for finding a previous image or uploading them in bulk.
Once you’ve uploaded your images to your library via either of the above methods, you can insert them into any page/post by placing your cursor where you’d like the image to go, click on the “Add Media” button, select your image and hit the blue “Insert into post” button in the bottom right corner.
There are other settings that go with images, such as setting Alt tags and also resizing images. For now, get used to adding them into the correct location by clicking on them to select, then resizing them to fit.
You can also align them to the left, right or center using the popup menu that appears when you click on an image.
5. WordPress Blog Configuration
This Section Contains:
- Setting Permalinks
- Blog Comments
- Installing Plugins
- Designing Your Blog
- Creating Core Pages
- Creating a Navigation Menu
Setting Up Permalinks
Permalinks control the way your blog displays its URL and pages.
For example, you can have various forms of a permalink:
- Plain – https://cloudincome.com/?p=123
- Day and Name – https://cloudincome.com/2016/07/11/sample-post/
- Month and Name – https://cloudincome.com/2016/07/sample-post/
- Numeric – https://cloudincome.com/archives/123
- Post Name – https://cloudincome.com/sample-post/
- Custom Structure – Choose your own
Head over to Settings > Permalinks to change yours. I recommend using “Post Name” as this is the most search engines friendly and it’s much cleaner to read for us, humans!
Blog commenting is where you visit another blog you like and become a part of the discussion by adding your thoughts at the end of the article. Not all blogs have this option enabled however, it is down to the blog owners discretion.
You can access the comment settings via Settings –> Discussion from your WordPress dashboard.
From this page, you have a number of options when it comes to what you want to allow and disallow on your blog.
Primarily you should pay attention to the first 3 options:
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article – this is a built-in feature of WordPress, it will attempt to notify any other website you link to with a message called a pingback. Which is basically a notification that you’ve linked to their website.
- Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles – As above, however, this time, it is you that will get notifications when another website or blog mentions your website in the form of a link. This is a great feature to use when you first start blogging as it can help build a network of friends in your market.
- Allow people to post comments on new articles – This simply switches on/off the ability for others to comment on your new blog posts. You can override this setting for individual posts, however, the default setting is controlled here.
Imagine if your blog was a car, WordPress Plugins would be the upgraded wheels, sports seats, and racing steering wheel. They basically add functionality to your blog for anything and everything you can imagine.
Want to have a content calendar so you can stick to a schedule? No problem. How about having a little popup message to new visitors? Yep, you can do that too.
To access the Plugins section, head over to Plugins on the left navigation menu of your WordPress dashboard.
The first screen show you the plugins already installed:
If you click the “Add New” button you are taken to a magical world with the entire WordPress plugin directory!
From here you can browse or search for a specific plugin/feature you need.
To install a plugin it couldn’t be simpler…just click the “Install Now” button in the top right corner of each plugin, then click that same button once it reads “Activate”.
If you want to read more about what the plugin does and how it works, you can click the “More Details” link, located just under the “Install Now” button.
Now there are way too many plugins to list here, but there is one plugin that every new blogger should have, and that is JetPack.
Jetpack has a bunch of easy to use features that enable you to blog faster and smarter, such as easily adding images to your blog sidebar, automatically publish your posts to your Facebook page, and it also allows you to see how many people have visited your blog today, this week, month and year.
Here is how to install it: How to Install Jetpack
Designing your WordPress Blog With Themes
Now for the fun part.
Let’s make your blog look how you want it to by using WordPress Themes.
Going back to our car analogy, with your blog being the car, a theme is the awesome metallic paint job.
A theme is simply a “Skin” that makes your site look different. It changes the colors, layout and overall look and feel of your blog. So if you ever find yourself getting a little bored of your existing theme, WordPress gives us the ability to change themes with just a few clicks.
To choose a new theme lets head over to Appearance > Themes > Add New and install a free WordPress theme from the WordPress repository.
I usually choose a theme that looks professional and relevant to my niche. For example, if I was starting a Gaming Blog, I would go for a dark color theme, with perhaps red, black, grey and white as the main colors. Remember, your blog’s design should reflect both you and your personality, but also what the blog is about.
Have a play around with the “Feature Filter” to get even more search options so you can really narrow down the results to just those you really like.
If you’re looking for something a little different, something to make your blog unique and stand out from the crowd then a premium theme is the solution. Here are some options I have personally used:
- The Genesis Framework –This was the first theme/platform that I used and I loved it and still highly recommend it. You’ll also want to look into the available StudioPress Themes.
- Elegant Themes – I think Elegant Themes looks great, is easy to use, and has quite a few different options. It’s also a bit cheaper than the other premium themes listed here. Take a look and see what you think.
- MyThemeShop – They have a TON of options and all of their themes look great. Perfect if you want something you can style exactly how you want it.
Creating Your Core Blog pages
Every blog should have a few specific pages as the bare minimum to get started. This include:
- Home Page
- About Me Page
- Contact Page
Below I will show you how to create these step by step. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated and once you’ve created one page, you will never forget how to do it. WordPress makes it so simple for us again.
How To Create a Home Page
Your home page is typically the root URL of your blog, for example, my homepage is https://cloudincome.com. We create this page so that when a reader is looking to get back to the start or the central hub of our blog, they can do so easily by visiting this page.
Simply follow the steps below:
- Click Pages > Add New
- Give the page a name of “Home”
- Ensure the Permalink is your blog’s root domain (e.g https://myblog.com)
- Click the blue “Publish” button
You do not need to add any content at this time, later I will show you why. For now, we can move onto creating an About Me Page.
How To Create an About Page
This page will require some content, it’s really easy as you will be writing all about…well…YOU!
We go through the same simple steps as before:
- Click Pages > Add New
- Give the page a name of “About Me”
- Change the Permalink to /about (e.g https://myblog.com/about)
- Write a few paragraphs about who you are and what you do
- Click the blue “Publish” button
When writing the about page, stick to my tried and trusted formula below, which includes 3 sections:
- Who Am I
- What This Blog Is About
- How To Contact Me
How To Create a Contact Page
A contact page provides your reader with a way to get in touch with you should they have questions/suggestions or just want to give you praise for having such an awesome blog.
Again, we follow the same steps:
- Click Pages > Add New
- Give the page a name of “Contact Me”
- Change the Permalink to /contact (e.g https://myblog.com/contact)
- Write a short sentence and include your email address
- Click the blue “Publish” button
TOP TIP – I never enter my full email address as this attracts robots that scan blog pages in order to send them SPAM. Instead, what I do is enter my email address like this:
lewis [at] cloudincome dot com
Notice how there is no “@” sign. This is what is used to identify an email address and by leaving it out we prevent those robots from finding us and sending us SPAM.
Simply follow the steps below:
- Head over to freeprivacypolicy.com and fill in the details as required
- Copy the text generated for you
- Head back to your WordPress dashboard
- Click Pages > Add New
- Paste in the text you copied from step 2
Creating a Navigation Menu
Now that we have some pages on your blog, we are going to create a way for our visitors to navigate around out blog. This is called a “Menu” and it is controlled via “Appearance > Menus”
From here you are just a few clicks away from having your very first blog menu set up:
- Click on the “Create a new menu” link
- Enter a “Menu Name”
- From the left section select your pages we have just created by placing a check in the box next to each
- Click the “Add to Menu” button
- Now you can change the order of the menu items and the text that is shown to your visitors.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let us dive right in and learn a little about WordPress and crucially how we can get that first blog post published to the web…!
6. Let’s Start Blogging
Right off the bat, WordPress gives us everything we need to start blogging immediately, after all, it is the most popular blogging platform in the World.
To get started all we need to do is log in to our WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Posts > Add New. Once there you will see this page:
Let’s go through each of those numbered items to get yourself familiar with the blogging interface:
Don’t be alarmed if your’s doesn’t look EXACTLY like this, various plugins can add elements to your blogging page for easy access. However, the main elements we discuss below will remain the same regardless.
- This is where you enter the title for your blog post, make it something catchy and enticing.
- Here you enter the URL for your post
- The “Add Media” button lets you…well add media such as images or videos.
- This is the text window (just above that is the editing bar, where you can make text bold, italic, etc & format your post how you’d like it).
- The Save Draft button is used to save your work so far so you can come back to it another time.
- The Preview button allows you to see how your post will look to your readers (really comes in handy this one!)
- The “Publish” button allows you to publish a blog post so it becomes live on your blog.
- Adding a featured image to make your content ‘pop’ is recommended
So, those are the core sections.
Things To Think About When Blogging
Whilst writing a blog post on WordPress is very simple, there are some other things to think about before you finally hit that Publish button.
Knowing your target market is a must when blogging. It is true that you should write naturally and if you are blogging about your hobby that there’s a good chance you already know who your target market is…just write for yourself.
If however you are writing a business blog and are trying to target your ideal customer, you need to stop and think what it is that would want to read, and how you can best deliver that to them.
One of the biggest overlooked factors when blogging is VALUE.
I see far too many blogs throwing out content like it’s going out of fashion. Some feel the need to publish a post multiple times per day just to keep up with the Jones’. However, I am here to tell you that VALUE and QUALITY beat quantity hands down every time.
So know your target audience, create a persona if it helps you to frame your writing better…and then use that persona by writing content as if it were just you and your ideal reader together, chatting over coffee.
Titles & URL’s
The title of a blog post is by far one of the biggest drivers of clicks to a website. If you can master the art of writing enticing headlines you will be able to grow your visitor base quickly. Take a look at BuzzFeed who have made their name with catchy headlines you just have to click.
People lose themselves for hours at a time on their website and their website, business, and income grew all because of great headlines.
URL’s, on the other hand, are not so great for attracting visitors but they are great for the search engines. You see Google, Yahoo, Bing and all of the other search engines read certain information about your page to determine what that page is about and where it should place you in their search results.
Now the page title is one of those elements, so again not only does your title need to rock, but it should also be search engine friendly. As should the URL.
For example, let’s say I have an article about a Kayak I just purchased. being an outdoors person I have a blog about my outdoor adventures and I want to tell everyone about this great new Kayak, let’s call it the “Kool Kayak 120”.
The chances are there are people search in Google for this product and also combining that search term with other keywords such as “review”.
So, I would craft my article as we discussed earlier, and I would give it a title such as “Is the Kool Kayak 120 The Best Kayak of 2016? – Read My Full Review”
This title contains both words people will be using to search for this product and it’s also enticing to read as I added a question into the title. Kayak lovers will be intrigued and want to see if this Kayak really is the best product of 2016.
Then the URL would be “kool-kayak-120-review”. You see, it’s not too long and it’s easy for the search engines to read and it also tells them what my article is about.
So keep it simple, don’t try to be fancy or clever as that very rarely works and it will be a waste of your time.
the best thing I ever did for my blogging career was to create a content schedule. In the early years, I just blogged whenever I felt like it, however as your blog grows in popularity and you have an audience that anticipates, heck expects content in a timely manner…you have to deliver or you will lose them.
Create a schedule ahead of time makes things easier. You don’t have to come up with ideas on the spot, you always know when and what you’re going to write and you keep your audience happy. It’s a win-win-win.
Here’s what I do:
Create a spreadsheet or a Google doc. Add the columns “Date – Title – Comments – Published”
- Date – this will be the date you will write/publish the content
- Title – this will be your title or even enter a few ideas in here
- Comments – use this to jog your memory about what the blog post will contain
- Published – a simple Y/N field, just enter a “Y” if you’ve published the article
Now, grab your favorite beverage and start jotting down ideas. Don’t assign dates yet, just add ideas into the Title or Comments columns. Keep going until you have 50. Yes, 50.
If that sounds impossible, try these tools to help:
- https://buzzsumo.com/ – enter a blog URL in your niche and see what their most popular topics/titles are
- https://news.google.com/ – enter some keywords from your niche to see what’s happening in the news
Once you have 50 you can then start putting them into some form of order. I try to blog at least 3 times per week, others prefer daily, I would start with a minimum of 2x per week and adjust once you’ve gotten used to it.
A blog with no visitors is no fun, so let’s find out how to get people to our blog and build up an audience shall we…?
7. Marketing Your Blog
There’s not much point in blogging if there is no one to read it right? You may as well just keep a journal. So we need to do something about it. No don’t think that marketing is a dirty word…it’s a necessary step that will take your blog from obscurity and place it in front of the very people you are trying to engage with.
This Section Contains:
This is an obvious place to start. Social media has grown at such a rapid rate over the last decade that we now get our news quicker from our “feed” than we do the television or radio. It’s no wonder it’s so popular, it’s where all of our friends and family hang out and not to mention those cute cat pictures…I digress.
The average Facebook user spends 50-minutes per day (source) on their platform. It is a great way to reach your potential audience and get would out about your blog. You can also create a Facebook “Page” which is similar to your personal profile but for your blog. This will allow you to advertise and/or publish your blogs content to that page which can then be found by people interested in your topic.
Twitter is one of those platforms that works great for some niches and not so great for others. For blogging and marketing, it’s great, for a food blog, not so much. This is because a Food Blog is very visual and despite twitter now allowing images to be attached to your 140 characters it is still very limited.
That said you should always create an account and test it out. If nothing else, by publishing your new post on the platform, each piece you write will get a backlink and some potential traffic over to your site.
Now when we are talking ‘visual’ niches, Pinterest is your go-to social media platform. With over 80% of its user base being Female, if what your writing would appeal to Women then you need to be on Pinterest.
That’s not to say men’s topics don’t do well on Pinterest, they can and do. From Beards to Guns, Motorbikes to DIY. There are so many great boards on Pinterest, just check it out and I guarantee you will find something that interests you.
Good in front of the camera? You should get on YouTube…it’s the 2nd largest search engine, behind Google…and did you know it’s now actually owned by Google?
If your topic is visual and your readers/views would benefit from a video then this is the place to be. You can even earn money by allowing ads to play at the start of your videos…some people earn a lot of money doing this.
You can create a YouTube Channel via your Google Plus page.
Whatever you like to do in your spare time, chances are that someone somewhere has created a forum for everyone who’s into that specific thing to gather together and talk about it.
You can join these forums and get involved talking about what you love and from time to time mention your blog. Don’t overdo it but if you can help someone then it makes sense. Also, many forums allow a ‘signature’ which is placed under each forum post you make, which we can use to showcase your blog.
Visit any other blog in your niche and you will find at the bottom of each article a chance to make a comment. This is to continue the discussion and add helpful tips and advice. You can also use this to market your blog in a non-spammy way.
In the image above we have added 4 pieces of information:
- Our Name
- Our Email
- Our blogs URL
- Our comment
When we submit this comment, our name will appear as the person who made the comment, in this case, John Doe.
Doing this on related blogs in your field will do 2 things:
- People will read your comments and if they find it helpful/entertaining they will click over to your blog
- The search engines such as Google will recognize this as a backlink for your blog (which is kind of a vote of confidence in their eyes and this helps with ranking in their search results)
Building An Email List
One way to ensure you get returning visitors back to your blog is to start an email list. This is a list of email address from people who have decided to “Sign Up” to get updates from you or for a freebie you offer.
In the industry this is known as a “Lead Magnet”, essentially you offer, say “10 Ways You Can Do X” in exchange for their email address, we call this an Opt-In. The more opt-ins you get the larger your list and each time you send out an email to your list a portion of those (typically 20-40% will click over to read your latest blog post or perform whatever action you have asked of them.
Again, we have software to help us with this task which makes it a breeze.
- ConvertKit – The latest and easiest email marketing tool for bloggers. You get unlimited everything and 30-day refund option.
- GetResponse – I have used this tool extensively. They offer a free 30-Day Trial and I use this software on this very site
- MailChimp – Good for beginners as they offer your first 2,000 email subscribers for free
This is one tactic that can explode your blog’s growth and is one I have used for the last few years. Guest Blogging is where you find other related blogs in your niche, build a relationship with the owner and offer to write a blog post for them that they will publish on their blog.
You may think that’s strange, why would you waste your time doing that right? Well, here’s why…
Inside of your blog post, you will also place a link (or 2) that point to certain pages of your own blog. Now, when your article is live, the readers of your new friend’s blog will see what you have to say and also pay a visit to your own blog. Which, when used in conjunction with growing an email list discussed above, is the perfect recipe for growing your blog to 10-20k visitors per month in a matter of just a few months.
8. Make Money Blogging
There are several ways you can make money from your blog. In this step, we will discuss some of the most popular methods to get your creative juice flowing.
This Section Contains:
So let’s kick off with by far the most popular way to monetize a blog…Google Adsense. You have likely seen these ads before and may not have realized that the blog owner will get paid for each time someone clicks on an ad.
Here’s an example of a Google Adsense block being used on a website:
That image highlight with the pink box above is actually a Google Adsense ad. You can tell by the small blue triangle in the top right-hand corner of the “Unchartered 4 image”.
How It Works
Google has a “Paid Ads” option for business owners to market and promote their products and services. You can buy these ad slots and advertise on other websites and even in the Google search results themselves (see image below).
Those two boxes indicate paid ad placements in the Google search results. So yes, you can pay to have your website show up in Google…however it does cost and that will vary depending on the number of people bidding for those ad spots.
So, what Google does is offer a “cost per click” meaning you pay a set amount each time someone sees your ad and clicks on it to direct to your website. This method of advertising is called Google AdWords.
So, we as blog owners can become the middleman. We use Google AdSense to get paid. We install our AdSense code on our blog and whenever someone visits a page on our blog and clicks on that ad, we will get a portion of that click cost, which is typically around 70-75%.
So if Google charges the business owner $1 per click, we’d get 70% of that, so $0.75 for each click. Not too shabby eh!
AdSense works best with sites with a decent volume of traffic. The more traffic the more times your ad blocks are shown.
Affiliate Marketing is similar to Adsense in that we become the middle man between in the customers buying cycle.
For example, let’s say we run a guitar blog and we recommend a cool guitar for beginners. We would join an affiliate network that would provide us with special product links/URL’s that we would place in our article. Now, when someone who is interested in learning how to play the guitar visits our page and clicks on one of those special links (called affiliate links), they are directed over to the product age and with it, our unique ID is tracked by the affiliate network.
If that person decided to purchase said product, we would get a slice of that pie, with what is known as a commission.
Some of the biggest brands in the world offer affiliate accounts, such as:
There are literally hundreds of thousands of businesses offering us the chance to promote their products in exchange for an affiliate commission. This provides us with millions of potential products we can review or recommend.
One of the easiest and best programs to get started with is the Amazon Associates program. They have the largest range of products and do very well at converting a visitor into a buyer, meaning more money for you!
Your Own Product
This is another great option, however, it requires some time and capital investment to get started. Depending on what your blog is about, there could be any number of products you could create and sell to your audience.
Have a blog about growing a beard? How about a beard oil you source from China and brand it with your own name/logo. Or perhaps a Kindle book about how to grow the best beard.
The possibilities with this are endless and you are only limited by your imagination. Have a look at what other blogs in your industry/market are doing o get some ideas, chances are if you are blogging about your hobby or passion, you may have even purchased some of these products in the past.
That wraps up our lesson on how to make money from your blog. Whilst we touched on just 3 ways, there are many more options that are outside the scope of this guide. However, the three methods above are how I got started and how thousands of others are able to fund their lifestyle and more by blogging.
Even if your ambition is to make some extra pocket money on the side of your regular job, making money with your blog IS possible…I admit I was skeptical at first until I tried it. Now I do this for a living, full-time from the comfort of my own home…or more recently the beach in Morocco.
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