This is a definitive guide on how to start a successful blog. In this guide, you will learn how to start your own blog and make extra money from home.
So if you want to learn the most recent way of how to start a successful blog in 2020, this will be your only ultimate guide.
Just briefly, here’s what I’ll cover in today’s post:
- An introduction on how to start a successful blog
- Choosing your niche and blog domain name
- How to choose the best hosting service
- Designing your blog to make it user-friendly
- How to create your main blog pages
- Your blog SEO
- How to write and publish your first blog post
- Promote your personal blog
- How to make money blogging
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t incur any additional costs if you click through those links and purchase anything with them, but I’ll earn a small commission, though.
Note: This post is 10,500+ words long. If you find it too long, feel free to save it on Pocket, or bookmark it and read it later.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Chapter 1: Introduction on How to Start a Successful Blog
You probably landed on this page because you want to start a successful blog and make money.
Denzil has started four blogs, which have all failed, and can you guess why?
He heeded the “expert” advice to start a blog focused on QUANTITY content.
You see, that was in the past when you could churn out short pieces, fill keywords, and then publish.
Today, Google has users at heart. Google cares about both you and me, and it’s ready to synthesize the best of information for both of us.
Henneke, the founder of Enchanting Marketing, says that you need to start a blog considering two approaches.
The first one is to get your blog ranked high by the masters – search engines like Google.
And the second one is to create remarkable content that wins you a gazillion of fans.
So your blog needs to be a library and, at the same time, a magazine. A library has every book you’d want to read, and your blog should do the same. A magazine, on the other hand, has fresh, exciting stories quite often. Your blog should be ready to feed readers with such fresh content regularly.
That’s the approach I want you to take, even as you prepare to start a successful blog to generate extra money online.
How to Start a Successful Blog FAQs
1. What does blog stand for?
If you’re antsy or expect me to write a two-line meaning of a blog, pardon me for today because I need to give you an exodus of how the whole story of a blog came to light. So what is a blog and how does it work?
In 1994, Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College, created his first blog named Links.net. During this time, Links.net was far from being called a blog, but rather a homepage.
Then in 1997, the word “weblog” came about from the renowned blogger, Jorn Barger. According to Jorn Barger, the weblog was to help him log the web while browsing the internet. Later in 1999, Peter Meholz shortened the word “weblog” to “blog.”
From this short chronology, you can learn that a blog was a personal journal where one could share his or her information and thoughts in chronological order – in such a way that new posts were seen first.
Today, a blog is an updated website with frequently updated content written in a conversational and informal tone. Usually, blogs attract readers, build trust, and make extra money online.
2. Can I make money from a blog? Why do people blog?
Today, a ton of people prefer to work from home and earn some extra money online. Fortunately, blogging is one of the work from home side hustles you can dive into RIGHT NOW.
And the good news is that blogging doesn’t require huge startup capital like other business ventures. You can even start with some of the free blogging platforms. The best of all is that you can choose to either blog part-time or full-time.
With as low as $3.95/ month, you can start a blog with Bluehost, have more time with your family, and make extra money on the side or full-time.
That said, there are a couple of people making money from blogging. For example, Elna Cain of Twins Mommy, who teaches moms how to increase their blog traffic, is doing quite well with her blog. Elna has a ton of money making online courses – from writing your way to $1k to Ready Set Blog Traffic.
So yes, you can make money from a blog.
3. Can I start a blog without technical experience?
There are no techie skills required to start a blog. If you choose to get your hosting from Bluehost, you won’t experience any hassle setting up your blog because customer support will walk you through the entire process.
Additionally, I created this guide on how to start a blog purposely for you; to make things pretty simple; because I know there are many things in your head right now. So I’ll try my best to keep things straightforward and to the point.
4. Is blogging still relevant in 2020?
Do people still read blogs? Is blogging still relevant in 2020?
New bloggers (those aspiring to start) have asked these questions, and I’m guessing you are asking the same.
Now, the short answer is yes; you should start a blog. But let’s dig in deep and see why:
There are a total of 4.84 billion active internet users. Out of this number, seventy-seven percent of them read blogs, according to Statista.
Additionally, B2B companies with blogs get sixty-seven percent more leads than more companies.
That said, there are significant opportunities you are missing out on if you don’t have a blog.
And you could leverage these opportunities by starting a blog today if you want to make extra money online. So should I start a blog? Yes, you should.
How much does it cost to start a blog
This is basically the amount it will cost you to start you own blog. Bluehost has plans that start as low as $3.95, which means that you will pay roughly $71 if you are getting started with the basic plan and only going for the one-year package.
Chapter 2: Choosing Your Niche, and Blog Domain Name
Having a specific niche can be of significance to your blog. However, you don’t need to be a techie to come up with an idea – your idea should, therefore, be one of its kind.
Sure, you have unique experiences. Your voice is an exception. And maybe, you have a high-spirited personality that will surely attract tons of fans to your blog.
Meanwhile, there are two primary questions you need to ask yourself before choosing the right niche for your blog.
1. Am I Passionate About this Topic?
Let’s face it – the biggest mistake you can ever make is to start a blog when you don’t even love what you’re blogging about. The zeal towards the topic will automatically show in your writing.
As such, you need to develop an undying passion for whatever topic you pick. Most importantly, be someone who is naturally curious so you won’t run out of ideas.
If that doesn’t help, reflect on some of the topics you can offer quick solutions and be significant on that. Perhaps, you’re an expert at solving relationship blocks or even providing guidelines on healthy living. You name it.
2. Are there others who are passionate about the same topic?
You probably feel like the only teenager who’s fascinated with football. Unsurprisingly, there are tons of people out there.
By doing a quick Google search, you’ll find thousands of people with the same interests. And, this leaves you wondering whether or not your idea is out of the ordinary.
Choosing a specific niche while avoiding generic terms is a good bet. Let’s say you love cooking, adopting a more specific topic like “cuisine,” will help you stand out from the others.
That said, how do you identify the right niche for your blog?
How to choose the right blogging niche or topic
Curious about the biggest problem with blogging?
Most bloggers spend a lot of time creating blogs that have zero chances of succeeding. As such, they lose hope only to start over again and invest years, creating another one that fails.
Wrong choice of a blogging niche.
However, it is worth noting that the rules differ when starting a blog. First, do you find the topic interesting? Is it fun? These are the essential questions you need to ask yourself before making a step.
But if you aim to start a blog that attracts massive traffic…
A blog that will generate a significant passive income…
Choosing the right blog topic is a good bet. You can do this by outlining a list of topics that’s within your interests.
This might include your hobbies or even niches you probably think are highly profitable to a blog.
Meanwhile, you should be able to answer the questions below to help you choose the right blog niche idea:
- Is there any blogs on this niche that have a Facebook page with 10,000+ followers?
- Are there any existing blogs on this niche that have a Twitter handle with more than 50,000 followers?
- Is there any books available on Amazon with 30+ reviews on this blog topic?
- Does Google provide ads for phrases and words related to this niche?
- Does Google Planner tool attract more than 100k searches on concepts associated with this niche?
The above questions will help you leverage the existing audience for your blog topic. But why is this essential anyway?
While most bloggers try to be unique, they tend to attract new audiences where they assume no competition exists.
Heck! How is this even possible? The chances are that your online presence will remain anonymous if there are no competitors to connect to you.
You probably don’t want that. Remember, the more the competition in the blogging industry, the easier it is for a beginner to strive into that blogging space.
So, be simple. Don’t try to be eccentric because it won’t land you anywhere close to success.
That said, your blog topic’s choice should be one that renowned blogs are already fighting for the audience’s attention.
How to choose a domain name
Here we are again – time to choose a domain name and a topic for your upcoming blog.
The name of your blog often grabs readers’ attention. Therefore, your blog’s domain name should give a clear representation of the topics you’ll be blogging. It could be your name, a business name, or even a creative combination of words. You know best.
Now imagine this:
You’re flipping through the internet, and you come across a blog post dropline that grabs your attention.
Probably a friend on Facebook shared the post with you, or it just appeared on your Google search, or perhaps it relates to the article you’re reading.
Even so, you still click on the link, and immediately you start to wonder whether you should continue browsing through the post. Well, if you find it relevant, the chances are that you’ll keep reading the post.
Not only that, but you may as well be prompted to check the web design, the domain name, and yes, other posts that seem to have generated a bunch of comments.
Some domain names will, of course, tell what the website is all about. Generallifehacks.com, for example, represents the ideas or skills that enhance productivity and efficiency in all walks of life.
How about Yourpassionmatters.com? Of course, it’s for people who are passion-driven in whatever they do.
These will help you leverage on whether to stay or leave the site. Therefore, the right choice of a domain name will keep visitors glued to your blog.
Meanwhile, choosing a perfect domain name can be a daunting prospect, especially if the one you had in mind has been taken already.
However, to save you this hassle, I’ve outlined three distinct methods to help you find the right domain name for your blog:
- Name the audience: Mentioning your audience in the domain itself is a plus. Such include SmartBlogger.com, InnovativeWriters.com.
- Name the topic: If you aim to focus on a specific niche, choose a domain name that best describes it. GeneralLifeHacks.com is a good example.
- State the benefit: Why should your audience stick around? The answer to this question can translate to a perfect domain that stands out. For instance, HowToMakeaLivingOnline.com tells more about the name.
With the above strategies, choosing the right domain for your blog is a no brainer. You may alternatively use a blog name generator tool if you find them a hassle.
What if I can’t think of a niche or topic today?
Are you still confused about what topics to blog? That’s okay – you may still start a blog. No one is perfect at the beginning of any journey; therefore, getting started right away is the ultimate guide to finding clarity.
Spending much time trying to recollect ideas is less of digging a ditch for yourself. You’ll garner insights as time goes by.
What should I do if my desired domain name is already taken?
You shouldn’t cough up your dreams if your desired domain name is already taken. Some hosting companies, such as Bluehost, will let you choose your preferred domain name later only when you start a blog with them. Therefore, you have more time to reorganize yourself as you think about your blog’s domain name.
Can I change my blog name later?
Oh, yes, you can. You have the flexibility of changing your blog’s name later if you don’t like the current one. All you need to do is to purchase a new domain name and have it set up. Meanwhile, don’t let this procedure hold back because you can always change the name of your blog in the future.
Chapter 3: Choose a Web Hosting Company
I’m assuming you are all set to have a blog.
In this section, I will be walking you through how you can choose your web hosting service provider, step-by-step.
What is web hosting?
Like I mentioned in this post, hosting is like your home, where people can pay you visits. In other words, web hosting is a service that allows people to visit and read from your website. This service includes keeping all your web files and making sure that they are secure.
How much does web hosting cost?
Fortunately, web hosting services do not cost much these days. Today, you can secure your website hosting from as low as $3.95/ month from a reputable hosting provider like Bluehost.
And because web hosting is critical for your blog, choosing the right web host provider is crucial, and that’s why I’d happily recommend Bluehost any day. It’s what I’m using on this blog you’re reading from today.
What’s the best WordPress hosting service to use?
There are a ton of web hosting providers, including Bluehost, SiteGround, Namecheap (though it is known as a domain registrar), Hostgator, Eco Web Host, among others.
But I recommend Bluehost because it’s what I use on this blog, and so far, I love it. At no particular time has this blog ever experienced downtime.
Additionally, this domain name you are reading from (yourpassionmatters.com) was secured for FREE when I purchased my hosting from Bluehost.
The best of all is that Bluehost customer support is top-notch and always ready to help whenever you have any issues. They helped me with technical problems when I first purchased hosting from them.
So, yes, I recommend Bluehost and you can secure your hosting from them today from here. (This is an affiliate link, and I’ll earn a commission if you purchase your hosting using this link. All the same, you’ll get a discount when you use my link).
I’m guessing you have made up your mind to go with Bluehost, so without further ado, let’s dive in and secure our web host, shall we?
Step 1: Go to the Bluehost website and choose a plan
The first step in setting up your website is to go to Bluehost and choose your hosting plan/ package. You are free to choose any plan you wish, but it would be a good idea to go with the Choice Plan, which will cost you $5.95/ month for your first two or three years, depending on what you choose.
If you are just getting started and have a limited budget to work with, feel free to choose the basic plan and later upgrade because Bluehost allows you to upgrade once your blog has taken off. All you will have to do when you want to upgrade is to contact the customer support via live chat or email, and they will help you upgrade.
Step 2: Choose a domain name
Once you have chosen your hosting plan, you should be directed to a page where you will enter your domain name. On this page, you need to input your preferred domain (Bluehost offers a free domain name) – the best name you’d like to name your blog. For example, my domain name is yourpassionmatters.com.
Now, in some cases, your preferred domain name could be unavailable because someone else owns it. You have two options – to either brainstorm another domain name or skip this step and have your blog set up first then think of another domain name later using Namecheap, GoDaddy domain registrar.
The image below shows where to insert your domain name if you already have one in mind. And as I said, if your domain name is already picked by someone else, skip this step because you can choose another domain name after setting up your blog with Bluehost.
Step 3: Create a Bluehost account
The next step is to create your Bluehost account. This will be the account you will use anytime you want to access your cPanel area. Enter your details, such as your name, email address, phone number, city, state, and other information required in the image below. Make sure that you enter your best email address in this section because it is the email Bluehost will use to send you your login credentials.
Step 4: Choose your hosting plan
In this step, you will be prompted to choose your package, depending on how long you want to pay upfront. Take note that Bluehost offers up to 3 years upfront payment – that’s 36 months, and it comes with a considerable discount.
This will depend on your budget. I suggest that you choose the three-year plan by clicking on the “get started now” button, but don’t get overwhelmed if all you can afford for a start is just one year. As I said earlier, you can always upgrade. For example, I started by paying for one year but later upgraded to 3 years. Also, Bluehost has a money-back guarantee, so you can opt out before the period ends.
Step 5: Decide on what addons you want to keep
In my experience setting up several sites, I feel you don’t need any of the addons. The reason is that they will hike your billing when it’s time to renew your package (after one, two, or three years) depending on the plan you chose.
When setting up this blog, I skipped all the addons, and I can confidently say that I didn’t experienced any challenge in my first year. But if you must choose an addon, I recommend that you go with the Bluehost SEO Tools that will enable you to access some of the crucial SEO tools for your blog.
Bluehost will offer you the domain privacy and the code guard essential addons for FREE. So you may only choose other addons that you feel are quite important to you. But I insist that you don’t need any of these.
Step 6: Key in your billing info
Once you have selected the addons you want to keep, it’s time to key in your billing information. Enter your credit card details and click on the “Submit” button.
You have completed the first critical step in starting your blog. The next stage is to install your WordPress account, design it, and get your blog running. And of course, you don’t have to worry because I’ll walk you through all these steps.
Step 7: Install WordPress on Bluehost with One-Click
Upon signing up, Bluehost automatically installs WordPress on your domain name. Using your Bluehost account, click on the ‘My Sites’ tab to login to your WordPress site.
Alternatively, select the ‘Log in to WordPress’ option, which will redirect you to the WordPress admin section.
With Bluehost packages except for the basic plan, you have the flexibility of hosting unlimited sites.
Click on the ‘Create Site’ option under the ‘My Sites’ tab to get started.
You’ll be prompted to provide your site title along with a tagline (optional), after which you can launch the Bluehost WordPress installation guide.
To continue, select the ‘Next’ button to choose a domain name for your website. If you already have one, proceed to the dropdown menu and choose your own domain name.
And because you can launch unlimited sites with Bluehost plans, feel free to add new domain names whenever you want. Simply select your preferred domain name from the ‘Domains’ page on your hosting dashboard.
Once you’ve selected your domain name, you may now let Bluehost do the rest. The installer will help you install the essential plugins for your website. Click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed.
Not only that, but the installer will also launch your WordPress website in a few. If the entire process is a success, you’ll receive an email from WordPress, which you’ll be required to click on the link to login to your WordPress account.
Congratulations, you have installed WordPress on your Bluehost hosting account. That wasn’t too bad, right?
What is WordPress?
I’m guessing you must have heard a lot about WordPress lately. So, what is WordPress anyway?
WordPress is a renowned Content Management System (CMS) across the globe, and as such, several bloggers are using it daily. According to recent research on blogging statistics, more than sixty percent of blogs operate on this CMS, including popular websites such as Forbes, Thought Catalog, NBC, New York Observer, TechCrunch, among others.
What is a content management system?
A Content Management System (CMS) is a platform that lets you write, design, and publish your blog posts. WordPress, however, provides a more straightforward interface that’s easy to integrate. Also, you have the flexibility to organize your content using the custom design themes.
Is it a good idea to start my blog on WordPress, and is it free?
While there are tons of CMS options worldwide, WordPress is still an exception. As such, I highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress because it’s the most viable CMS with long-term access.
And yes, it’s a free CMS and a good option for those who are just starting a blog. All you need is a web hosting plan to set things afloat.
What’s more, unlimited flexibility, power, and long-term access are all you want in a CMS, and WordPress offers precisely that.
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
It is worth noting that WordPress comes in two distinct platforms – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The name is almost similar, but a significant difference exists between these two:
- It is a free CMS that offers you a free blog with hefty restrictions.
- It doesn’t allow a custom domain name. (i.e., yoursite.wordpress.com)
- Offers limited marketing options – you can’t promote your ads.
- Doesn’t let you install plugins for scheduling emails, among others.
- It has restricted theme support, which makes site customization a challenge.
- In case you want to rebrand your domain name from WordPress ( i.e., yoursite.com,) you’ll have to incur additional charges.
- Restricted SEO and site analytics.
- Fully custom-built design, unlimited plugin options, and no branding come in handy.
- Because it’s SEO friendly, the SEO features are excellent enough to enhance your availability on Google searches.
- You have the flexibility to launch or add an eCommerce store as a monetization option.
- The monthly hosting charges are affordable.
While it’s your prerequisite, WordPress.org is a good bet if you want to monetize your blog and eventually earn a decent passive income from it. It provides straightforward guidelines on sites set up for those who are just starting a blog while keeping your website updated at all times.
Log into your WordPress dashboard
In your preferred browser, head on to your WordPress login URL and attach /wp-admin ( or /login or /wp-login or/ admin) to the end of your domain name.
The links above will redirect you to your WordPress login page, after which you’ll be prompted to:
- Input the username and password you had previously created.
- Click Log In.
Head on to your dashboard and start customizing your WordPress site.
Chapter 4: Design Your Blog Using a Theme (+Plugins)
When getting started with your blog, it might not be a good idea to invest in a paid WordPress theme because the chances are that you have a limited budget. Plus, you would want to see what ROI your blog generates before investing.
There are very many free themes you can choose for your WordPress blog. You will find some of them on your WordPress account, and you can use them with just a simple click. I recommend that you choose the Astra free theme because it offers a ton of cool features.
Astra premium theme has been proven to be the fastest WordPress theme, and if you are looking forward to investing a lot in SEO, this WordPress theme is your perfect match. Astra also has a paid version of the theme – Astra Pro, which costs $41.
To install a theme on your WordPress blog, go to your WordPress admin area >> Appearance >> Themes >> Add New Theme (you can either import a theme you already downloaded from WordPress.org directory).
How to Activate a WordPress Theme
Once you have installed a free WordPress theme or a premium theme, you need to activate it. Of course, there will be options to either activate or preview your theme.
You can always preview to see if it’s what you wanted and then activate. To choose a theme and enable it, go to Appearance (located on the left side of your WordPress admin area) >> Choose Themes >> Activate.
And that’s it.
Why your blog design is so critical
I included this subhead because I love designs and can’t read from a blog with a poor design.
So if you don’t care about how your blog looks, you will likely lose a ton of readers.
A research done by the University of Basel and Google, it was found out that readers judge the look of your website after every 0.05 – 0.02 of a second.
In other words, it will take readers quite a little time to decide whether or not they will trust your blog and probably return to read from it.
The bottom line is that good design builds trust and readers view you as someone who cares about them. So I advise that you go for a good design. You can hire a web designer on Fiverr to help you out.
Install WordPress plugins
There are many WordPress plugins and blogging tools, but as a beginner, you only need a few of them for a start. Later on, you can get additional plugins, depending on your needs. For now, these are the plugins you need:
- Yoast SEO Plugin: Yoast is a WordPress plugin that allows bloggers to optimize their content – headlines, snippets, meta descriptions, image alt, etc.to make it easier for search engines to crawl your website.
- WPForms: Readers or visitors may want to get in touch with you, and the easiest way is to include contact forms onto any of your pages. WPForms is a WordPress plugin that enables bloggers to include these forms with ease.
- Google Analytics Dashboard: It’s essential to track your blog’s analytics directly from Google. Google Analytics allows you to view your blog analytics data directly from your WordPress dashboard using this plugin.
- WP Rocket: I first learned this WordPress plugin when I hired my designer to customize my theme. This plugin allows you to clear the cache and reduce the sizes of your files so that your site loads faster.
- Insert Headers and Footers: I’m not a techie, so I find it hard to edit my theme area. That’s why I downloaded the Insert Headers and Footer to help me add shortcodes without the help of a WordPress developer.
Essential blog settings
Your website’s permalink is critical, and that is why you need to customize it to look more appealing for the search engines. I recommend that you set yours to domain.com/post-name. To do this, go to Settings >>Permalinks. Fortunately, websites hosted by Bluehost will come with this setting, so you don’t have to change it. But you should confirm to ensure it’s correct.
2. Your blog homepage
It would be best if you choose what you will include in your homepage. I have seen other bloggers who set their homepage as static, but I love to customize mine, so I can at least introduce visitors to my blog and capture a few emails. However, it’s up to you to choose what works best for you. To change your homepage settings, go to Settings >>Reading.
3. Change the default URL of your blog
When I started this blog, I didn’t know about this setting, so I happily submitted my sitemaps to the Google Search Console without changing it. When you first set up your blog, you won’t have the “www” before your blog URL. So if you need to add it, go to Settings >>General and change. So instead of your blog URL looking like this (https://yourdomain.com), you will change it to (https://www.yourdomain.com.)
Chapter 5: Create Your Main Blog Pages
You don’t just blog without creating some of your most valuable pages, such as the blog about me page, and the blog contact me page. This section will focus entirely on how you can create these pages and dive deep to give insight into what you need to include in these pages.
1. The blog about me page
One of the pages visitors head to is your blog about me page. They want to know more about you or find out what your blog is all about. This is your only chance to convert your visitors to loyal followers who will form part of your marketing army. So how should you write your about me page? Below are questions to guide you:
What value will your readers get from your blog?
Most bloggers make the mistake of talking about themselves. But what you must know is that very few people care about who you are. Instead, they value what’s in it for them. So make it clear who your audience is and what value you have for them. In my blog about me page, I tell my audience how I began my freelance writing career and how I managed to beat all odds. I also encourage them that they can even succeed in freelance writing and that they should keep going.
Why should your audience trust you?
It would be best if you made it clear to your visitors why they should trust you. For example, you can include a short story of how unique you are. You can talk about the odds you overcame to reach where you are. This helps your visitors connect with you and feel secure that they have connected with the right person who understands their pain points.
Additionally, it would help if you mentioned what your blog is about. For example, I cover everything that can earn your money from home. This way, visitors can quickly determine whether this blog is for them or look for another if their interests are not covered. Finally, don’t be scared to get personal because people connect better with personal stories.
What should your visitors do next?
You can write the most appealing about me page, but you will lose it all if you don’t tell your visitors what they can do next. Do you want your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, get a download, or do you want your readers to follow you on social media? It is important to tell them exactly what action you want them to take.
It is essential to make your call-to-action brief and to the point. Additionally, don’t ask too much. These are visitors probably knowing you for the first time, so you don’t want to overwhelm them on the first day. Therefore, it would be best to encourage your readers to reach out to you if they need any help.
2. The contact me page
Another significant page on your blog is the contact me page. The chances are that people will want to contact you to inquire about something or reach out regarding a contract.
However, you may also want to reconsider why you’d expose your contact information out there. Remember, there are spam emails that arrive in people’s inboxes, and you’d want to avoid these emails.
So that is why you may only need a simple contact form, which you can create with the WPForms we had talked about in the must-have WordPress plugins.
You may limit the number of emails you receive by including a Frequently Asked Questions section within your contact page. This will help people find answers to the questions they might have.
On my contact me page, I have included both my email and the contact form built by the WPForm plugin. While putting your email out there is dangerous, I can easily mark any spam email and immediately send them to the trash.
Chapter 6: Your Blog SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Truth be told. If you are serious about making money blogging, then you have to optimize your site for search engines, and there’s no shortcut – you just have to learn SEO (even the basics will help.)
So in this section, I will dwell on what you need to do before launching your new site. And I’m not going to dive so much in-depth because I know SEO is quite broad, and we can’t discuss it in a single blog post.
Therefore, allow me only to cover the basics of SEO for a new blog. Here we go.
Make it easy for Google to crawl your site
It would be best if you made sure that search engines like Google and Bing can find your site, so be sure that to do the following:
On the left side of your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings >> Reading >> make sure that “Discourage the search engines from indexing site” is unmarked.
Find your XML sitemaps and submit them for indexing
Before anything, you need to know what a sitemap is. A sitemap is a file containing your website pages information and the relationship that exists between them. This information allows Google to find all the necessary details to crawl and index your site. In other words, this information helps Google discover the fantastic content you publish because, at the moment, your blog is still new, with no backlinks pointing at it.
You remember, I recommended the Yoast WordPress plugin. If you installed it, creating your XML sitemaps is easy peasy. To generate your XML sitemaps, follow these instructions below:
- On the left side of your WordPress dashboard, hover to SEO >> General >> Features >> XML sitemaps (make sure it is on) >> Click the “?” sign
Now that you have your XML sitemaps, it’s time to submit them to Google. When you click the “?”, you should be able to see this hyperlinked text “See the XML sitemap.” Click on it, and it should open in a new tab.
Now that you have all your sitemaps, you need to submit them to Google search console one by one. So this is what you should do:
Log into your Google search console account. If you haven’t created your Google search console, please watch this tutorial. If you already have a Google search console account, please follow these instructions:
Go to Google search console >> Sign in to your Google search console >> Select your website (if you haven’t added your website, you’ll need to click the “Add Property“). There’s an HTML code you’ll have to copy, then paste it on the Script header section using the Insert Headers and Footer plugin you installed.
Once that is done, on the left side on your Google search console, under index, click on “Sitemaps” From here, you can copy and paste each of the sitemaps one by one on the “Add a new sitemap” section.
Chapter 7: Writing Your First Post and Publishing
Once you have your SEO sorted, you now need to start creating your first blog post. It is important to note that the format of a blog is most similar to that of an article. But before anything, you need to make sure that you come up with blog topic ideas that your visitors and readers will love. So how do you do that?
There are many ways you can brainstorm blog ideas. Let’s go through a few of them.
Use tools to brainstorm blog post ideas
There are many tools you can use to discover blog post ideas. Most of them are paid, but I will also include a free tool you can use. I have used Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and BuzzSumo to generate awesome blog topic ideas. Both Ahrefs and BuzzSumo are paid, though you can use BuzzSumo on a free plan with limited functionalities.
Ubersuggest, on the other hand, will give you almost the same features you may need. It used to be free until more features were added. Today, you will have to subscribe to get more of the tool. However, the free version of the tool can still offer much more than you may need.
To get started, head over to Ubersuggest, search “Ubersuggest” on Google and click on the first search result you get. Once you are on the page, enter a competitor’s URL. On the left side of the page, hover to “Top Pages.”
Next, click on “View All” and the dropdown should give you a list of keywords. Now, you should not randomly pick any keyword. Remember, your blog is still useful with no backlinks, and therefore, you only need to choose keywords with a lower SEO difficulty.
The SEO difficulty is in the last column. I recommend that you choose any of the keywords that range from a keyword difficulty between 0-15. These are keywords that will need an average of 10 backlinks to rank on the first page.
It’s essential to be organized, so you’d want to create a spreadsheet and jot down your keyword research. You can then research more related keywords related to your primary or target keyword on Ubersuggest.
Instead of going to the “Top Pages” section, go to the “Keyword Ideas” section and enter your primary keyword (in this case, “what is affiliate marketing.”) Once that is done, filter your results and set your SEO difficulty appropriately. Caution: Don’t go for keywords with higher SEO difficulty. (Take a look at this screenshot below)
How to write catchy headlines
Content marketing has changed, and that is why your titles matter. So you need to come up with titles that people can click. So what are some of the elements of a good headline?
Elements of a Good Headline
1.Includes the primary keyword
Titles are essential because they help Google understand what your content is all about and index it appropriately.
That is why you should include the primary or target keyword on your headline. If better, let it be the first part of your headline.
But what are keywords?
Keywords are specific terms that readers type in on Google to get accurate information about a particular topic. For example, if someone searches the phrase “how to become a freelance writer,” that’s a keyword.
Primary keywords are these same terms people type into Google to look for specific information. What makes primary keywords different is that they are the target keyword people are aiming to rank for.
So, where should you include your primary keyword within the article?
- At the beginning of your title – “Freelance Writing: The Ultimate Guide.”
- In between – “15 Writing Tools That’ll Make You a Better Writer.” (marked in red is the primary keyword.)
I encourage you to use the first option, but only if your blog post is 2,000+ words. This is because it would not make sense to call content below 2,000 words an ultimate guide.
Also, you can always change the second part of your keyword (the ultimate guide) to either “the definitive guide, step by step guide, a beginner’s guide,” depending on the topic.
2. Include benefit to the reader
For readers to click your title, you need to include a benefit that will lure them to click through your content. You need to answer the question, “what’s in it for the reader?”
It is essential to take note that there are two types of benefits you can include in your headline – the explicit benefit and the implied benefit.
With an explicit benefit, you state the benefit clearly in the heading without hiding anything. In contrast, an implied benefit is hidden, and probably, someone must read to know what the benefit is.
- Example of explicit benefit – “8 Blogging Tools That’ll Save You Time and Money.”
- Example of implied benefit – “Ghostwriting: The Ultimate Guide.” (the ultimate guide is the explicit benefit in this case.)
3. Include Click-Through Rate Boosters
Click-through rate boosters are the elements that you add to a headline to help attract more clicks. And there are two ways you can do this.
First, you can include numbers, percentages, years to attract more click-throughs to your piece of content.
For example, “How to Start Blogging in 2020,” “We Analyzed 10 Million Blogs: Here’s What We Found out.” “56% of Freelancers are Earning This Much.”
The second way to include click-through rate boosters is by adding parentheticals.
For example, “How to Write a Pitch (with examples),” Education System in Singapore (+new changes.)“
Note: You don’t have to use the three techniques in your headline – one or two of the methods is just enough.
How to write the perfect intro
There are two tactics I have tested and proven. Again, you don’t have to use both in your articles. You can always choose one, but make sure not to use both.
One technique is best for blogs that need engagements, such as comments and social shares, while the other is best when your primary goal is to create SEO engineered content.
So what are these two techniques of writing the perfect intros?
1.The Mind Reading Game Formula
If you have read most blogs, you can attest that their intros guessed almost all your pain points. You probably felt like they got all the information about you.
And yes, that is right. These are writers who have carefully researched the audience and know what they are going through.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to read minds like those bloggers you admire.
That said, you need to research your audience and know the following:
- What thoughts your readers/ audience have
- How do they feel about the topic you want to write about?
Once you have these, look for suitable examples that will resonate with your audience.
Take a look at this blog post I wrote for my client about “How to Write for Blogs.”
You’re at the beach, staring at the glistering ocean, the sea breeze tousling your hair, listening to the slow, but the steady pattern of the tides.
The environment is serene. Perfect for thinking.
And so you’re organizing your thoughts with one hand while using the other to sip Sangria.
You are a freelance blog writer. You are paid to write for blogs, and it’s work you can do from any part of the world.
This week you are at the beach. Next week you will be visiting the mountains, and you’ll probably be watching the El Classico at the Santiago Bernabeu the following week.
From this example, you can see that I understand my audience. I know what’s going through their minds, and I know what kind of life they are hoping for. This is the same thing I want you to do. It doesn’t matter what industry you are writing for – whether personal finance or health, you can still pull the magic.
2.The PBC Formula
This is a straightforward formula. I derived it from Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, and it works pretty well.
That said, the PBC formula takes three steps:
- Give a preview of your post/ content/ article
- States the benefits your post has to offer
- Then finally include with a call-to-action
This is a definitive guide on how to become a ghostwriter. In this guide, you will learn all that it takes to be a ghostwriter and make money freelance writing. – the preview.
So if you are looking forward to starting a freelance writing business as a ghostwriter, this will be your ultimate guide.
Just briefly, this guide will cover – The benefits.
- What is a ghostwriter
- Why should you become a ghostwriter
- How much do ghostwriters make
- What do ghostwriters get paid
- Become a ghostwriter
- How to market yourself as a ghostwriter
- Ghostwriter jobs
Let’s cut to the chase. – call-to-action
What Your Body Should Include
You have done most of the job, written your title, the perfect introduction, but it doesn’t end there. You still need to keep your blog visitor reading. But how can you do that?
1.Use surprise subheads
The internet is filled with a lot of spin content.
That’s why you should grab this opportunity and come out original with surprise subheads – contrary to what people always find across the internet. For example, “Trying to Make Your eBook too Valuable” as captured from the SmartBlogger post “How to Write an Ebook.”
This subhead (Trying to Make Your eBook too Valuable) will be surprising to many because everyone expects their eBooks to be valuable to make more sales.
2. Generate Curiosity
Curiosity killed the cat, but it can help if you want to keep your readers glued throughout your post. For example, “The One-Second Tweak I Made Generated Got Me Tripple My Traffic.” “This One Conversation Changed My Life.” “The PBC Formula.”
Personality is another way to spike your writing. With this, you need to speak out your mind and don’t mind what people will say or how people will think of you. A good example is Jorden Roper of Creative Revolt.
Jordan Roper doesn’t like the idea of freelance writers working on Upwork, and she criticizes the platform because she feels that writers are not getting paid what they deserve. In one of her statements, she says,
Don’t fuck with content mills because I don’t fuck with them either.
This will spike different opinions because there are a ton of other freelance writers who find Upwork resourceful.
How to Write the Compelling Wrap Up
One of the worst mistakes most writers make is to write good content then leave their readers wondering what they should do next.
It doesn’t matter whether you have the best content out there if it can’t prompt readers to take action.
So that is why I thought I’d share with you some of the ways you can end your writing with a compelling close.
1.Remind your readers where they started
Definitive or ultimate guides are quite long, and that’s why it is essential to remind your readers where they started, so they can connect to how the post is ending.
With this technique, you can quickly remind the readers of the primary goal; why you wrote the post or why they landed on the post.
In the beginning, you were looking forward to knowing how you can become a writer. Having tackled the ways to become a freelance writer, you’re now just a step to becoming a reputable freelance writer.
2. Show your readers the way forward
Most readers will go through the content and then leave your blog without knowing what exactly they should do next. This isn’t good and should not happen. Remember, your primary aim was to help your reader achieve a specific goal. And this is what should happen in the end.
Therefore, end your piece with a clear call-to-action. Tell your readers what next they should do. Tell them to take action by implementing the ideas they discovered. Give a soft warning about what will happen if they don’t take action.
It’s now your turn. If you badly want to become a freelance writer, you must implement all these steps, one-by-one. Most aspiring freelance writers fail because they read such valuable tips, then fail to implement them. So take action today.
3. Give readers a glimpse of the future
Another way to end your blog content is to give your readers a glimpse of the future; what will happen if they implement all the steps you have covered? This is because most people may only take action if there’s the hope of something better to come. Otherwise, many will read then end up closing the tab.
So show your readers what their life will look like if they invest their time to implement the ideas they have at hand. For example, in the case of How to Become a ghostwriter, you can conclude with something like:
I can see you are at the beach, typing with one hand while sipping lemonade with the other. You just completed one of your ghostwriting projects and sent your invoice. This is the life of a ghostwriter.
Chapter 8: Promote Your Blog/ Blog Posts
We are this far, and I’m glad you are still around. Your first blog post, second, and third are complete. Your blog is still new with no backlinks, so you need to promote your blog content with every resource available. So how do you promote your blog the right way?
1. Leverage social platforms
Social media platforms come in handy, especially during your first months of blogging. Get people to know your blog. But before you do that, you need to choose the best social media platforms, where you are sure your audience is spending most of their time.
Facebook remains one of my best social media platforms. It gives me the freedom to join Facebook groups, create my own Facebook group, and create a Facebook page. When I share my content through these platforms, I’m sure of getting a ton of traffic to my blog.
However, you need to make sure that you don’t spam people, especially in the Facebook groups you join. Read the group’s rules and make sure that you follow them to a tee. Don’t promote anything, unless it’s a promotion day, which should only be done on a thread post.
That said, check out some of the Facebook I recommend from this post. They are super helpful, and you can grow as a blogger or writer within no time.
Twitter is also great to connect with influencers and push your content out there. However, it can be quite challenging to get traction on Twitter, especially if you have no considerable amount of followers or don’t know how to connect with top industry leaders.
Twitter needs you to be proactive, share only great content to your audience. Don’t be self-centered, but show love to your followers and your mentors over there. If you find useful content, retweet and keep the convo going.
If you publish a new post, make sure you tweet it. You never know, some influencers could retweet your post with their larger audience if it’s super valuable. With that, only aim to create actionable and useful pieces of content.
I tried Pinterest with my first blogs but didn’t get traction because I didn’t know the ins and out of this growing visual platform. I’m glad that I now know how the platform works, and I’m not making the same mistakes I made earlier.
Pinterest is best if you create a Pinterest Business account instead of a personal account. With a Pinterest Business account, you will link your business profile with your website, which is excellent if you want to drive a ton of traffic back to your site.
It is also important to note that Pinterest works pretty well with Tailwind and Tribes. Tailwind will help you schedule your pins without spending too much time planning them manually. Additionally, the Tribes enables you to reach a broader audience who are ready to repin your pins.
I usually find it very relaxing to schedule pins for one or two weeks, then have time to work on my blog posts and clients’ work. To get started with Pinterest, click here. Below is also a video that can walk you through the entire process.
Other social media platforms:
2. Pick and grow your email list
Email marketing is part and parcel of a blogging career. In fact, before you think of starting a blog, you need to figure out how you can build an email list using pop-ups, freebies, etc. An email list is a list containing the contact information of your followers.
There are many ways to collect contact information from those interested in what you offer. But one thing for sure is that you will need an email marketing company to safely store your subscribers’ information.
There are a ton of email marketing services out there, so you should choose only the email marketing service that can meet your needs. I recently created a post review between Aweber and MailChimp, and you can have a look.
There are also a couple of other email marketing services that work pretty well. You can use GetResponse, Constant Contact, Aweber, ConvertKit, among others. A word of caution, though, make sure you have scripted a list of priorities before choosing an email marketing service. This will help you filter out the best email marketing service that can meet your needs.
How to promote your content with your email list
Once you publish a new blog post, make sure that your content reaches as many people as possible. The first thing I usually think of is my email list because they are my best friends, seriously.
Without an email list, you are almost no business. That’s why some blog posts put it that your subscribers are the lifeblood of any business.
So depending on the email marketing service you use, create a short email letting people know about your new post and how they can access it. I have found short emails of less than three paragraphs work well.
Creating a super long email when all you need is for your subscribers to click and read your post is a bad idea. Go straight to the point and make it clear to them what you want them to do. Also, I have realized that including a button works great.
Guest blogging is one of the ways to promote your blog and get backlinks to your site. According to Google, backlinks play a huge role in determining your ranking. In fact, many SEO tools like Ahrefs and Ubersuggest include how many links you will need to rank for a specific keyword, and this is pretty helpful because you can use this information to create and promote your content appropriately.
Guest blogging has become a nightmare over the years, and this is because most blogs no longer need contributors or are just trying to avoid crappy writers. But there’s still hope. In this post, I have explained in detail how you can write a magazine pitch that wins your guest posts.
Chapter 9: How to Make Money Blogging for Beginners
The chances are that you want to start a blog because you want to earn a side income. And that’s right; you need to make a side income after putting all your efforts into creating a blog. And there’s no need to fret because I will walk you through some of the ways you can make money blogging. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Promote your freelance services
Freelancing is now a big hit, and most people are quitting their traditional jobs to get the freelancing share of income. According to qz, America now has more than 56.7 million freelancers, which could be one of the reasons why America has a steady economy.
According to LMS, there were 4.77 million freelancers in Britain, and this number grew every year. Additionally, simplybusiness gives some of the freelancers’ spots in the United Kingdom. Take a look at the screenshot below:
In other words, freelancing is lucrative. It gives you the flexibility and the financial freedom you have always wanted. You don’t have to wake up every morning, get stuck in a traffic jam, then leave your workplace wasted and wiped.
That said, you can promote some of the remote work you offer. Wondering some of the freelancing services you can provide right away? Here’s a quick list to help you decide what you can start contributing as a freelancer:
- Ghostwriting services
- VA services
- Graphic design
- Web development services
- Content marketing strategy
- Keyword research, etc.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging. Of course, you will invest in some time and money, but you will enjoy the fruits of your hard work later.
However, many bloggers seem not to do affiliate marketing the right way. They throw in some poor regurgitated content, then pray and hope people will buy through their links.
Psychology proves it’s way more natural to promote a product or service you genuinely love and use. This is because you will, in most cases, have all the information you need to market a product or service.
Now that you have a blog, you need to make sure you only choose products and services that directly relate to your blog niche. For example, I only promote blogging tools because my blog focuses on work from home ideas.
If you are a home improvement blogger, you’d want to promote home improvement tools, especially on Amazon. If you are a parenting blogger, you may want only to promote children’s stuff or parenting stuff that will help them raise children better.
Once you have chosen what products or services you want to promote, make sure you create high-quality content that will offer help to your readers, even as you develop these products and services. Remember, you will only convince someone to buy if they adequately understand what they are buying.
That out of the way, you need to know some of the affiliate programs available to you as a blogger and sign up asap:
- AWIN Global Affiliate Marketing Network
- Ultimate Bundles
- CJ Affiliate
- Creative Market
- Shopstyle Collective
- Impact Radius
- Liquid Web
3. Sponsored content
Sponsored content may not be the best to discuss in this blogging for dummies guide, but you will need it in the future when your blog starts to receive a ton of traffic.
Most companies suck at marketing, and they are ready to broker a deal with a professional blogger if their blog receives a ton of traffic. They may want you to help them put their content in front of your audience.
Sponsored content is when a company approaches you to promote their offer or content to your readers at a fee. Such projects usually command very high rates because you will be allowing them to sell to your audience.
To start sponsoring content, you will need to grow your blog and make sure it receives considerable traffic before you can begin attracting companies who want you to promote their offers or content.
4. Create and sell online courses
The invention of the internet is the best since sliced bread because it allows you to sell anything. You must not have degrees to create and sell online courses. You can teach based on your skills or experiences. So there’s nobody that can be locked out from this online money stream.
There are several online teaching platforms you can use to create and sell your online courses. You can use Udemy, SkillShare, Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, LearnDash, Podia, Learnworlds, among others.
Once you have your courses, you can promote them on your blog by including banners, inserting links to your course landing page, or add them on your blog footer like I have included mine. Check the screenshot below to see it:
5. Start an online store
You can also make money blogging by starting an online store. An online store allows you to sell your products on your website using WooCommerce plugins or by using ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify.
Some people opt to have their own products on their websites, but this could cost you more when designing your website. You will need a savvy web developer to come up with a user-friendly WooCommerce website. Check out this post I wrote on how to start a dropshipping business.
If you choose to sell your own products on another platform, such as Shopify, you can still promote your online store within your blog through blog posts, banners, and including your online store on your blog service page.
There are more ways you can make money with your blog. For example, you can promote sponsored podcasts on your blog, sell advertisement renting space, make money through Google Adsense on your widgets section, and many more. Just make sure that you have a list of priorities outlined before you start monetizing your blog.
How to Start a Successful Blog – It’s Possible
Blogging remains one of the best ways you can make money from home. If done right, you can move from a paycheck to paycheck life, travel the world, and have more time with your family.
It’s everyone’s wish to earn passive income, and you have to make your wishes come true. Fortunately, you have only one way to make all your dreams come true.
To take action now and start creating your blog.
You must not postpone anymore, and don’t let your muse go down the toilet. Hold tight and do this right away. There’s no other time you can do this, if not now.
And of course, I’d want to extend my help to YOU, so that I see you through this. It’s a little weird, but I want nothing but to see you succeed with your blog.
It’s now your turn, do you want to start your blog now and need help? Is there something that’s not clear to you and needs clarifications before you can dip in your feet?
I’m here to help. Just leave me a quick comment, and I’ll be happy to help.