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#1 – What are you passionate about?
Have you ever heard that if you follow your passions you will be successful? Well, its true! You may have many interests like being a foodie, maybe wine is your thing, or even enjoy making beer, or baking desserts. These interests or passions bring out who you are, what your good at, and when we are good at something that also brings a level of confidence that we all need to be successful; especially if your breaking out into a new world of blogging about your interests. That’s what will make it easy for you!
Maybe you work in real estate and you can share your knowledge with so many potential and existing home buyers and even urge some millennials to begin to believe in the “American Dream” again by diving into home ownership. You may be a parent like us (of 3 amazing kids) and have so many experiences that can be shared to existing parents or parents to be. We know that each child is different and each grows differently in each phase of their lives. We just learned that putting our oldest in college this year, that was a whole new experience that is valuable to others who may be going through similar experiences in their lives which draws the reader in.
#2 – Let’s narrow your passions down
Now that you’ve realized that you are so well rounded and have so many strengths, interests, and passions, its time to choose one area to focus on. Here’s the question, can you make money on the topic that you’ve chosen? This part is very important because if this is what will keep you interested along the way of your blogging journey.
Through your research on different blogging topics you will organically become the expert in short order. Remember that you don’t have to be a proven expert as you read this because there is someone out there that know less than you on the topic and what you have to say is valuable!
#3 – Okay, Let’s give your blog a name
I know what you’re thinking, “this name I choose means everything and I have to have just the perfect name”, yes and no. Don’t overthink this, here’s 6 pointers to ensure you have the best domain name for your site:
Keep it Short
Shorter is better. This is more of a challenge as many of the main keywords may have been taken already but there is an opportunity to combine certain keywords that describe your blog topic. Feel free to add keywords to come up with the right combination for your site. Keep it to no more than three words.
Pick 5-10 words or phrases that describe the key topic of your website. Scramble the words into different combinations to create a domain name that is available and sounds good and is memorable. This is the best way to choose the right domain name for your blog! We only have 2 words that describe what we’re about with stayblogging.
If you are personally marketing yourself, then most likely you’ll want to use your full name (johnanderson.com or jillanderson.com). Check to see if it’s available even if you’re not necessarily marketing yourself as you may want to at some point. It may be a good idea to lock it down now and literally claim your name.
Make it easy to type
If you have to spell out your domain name more than once for it to be understood, then it won’t work. Keep the name simple to remember and easy to enter in an address bar or search field. This is where the “KISS Rule” comes into play (Keep It Simple Stupid). The easier it is for someone to type, the easier it will be for your audience to find you.
Choose “.com” first
Did you know that of the entire “interweb” that 75% of all websites are “.com” domains. It’s the easiest to remember and is still the most preferred name choice. If your number one name choice isn’t available, then try your second choice before even considering another extension (.net, .biz, etc.).
No numbers or hyphens
Numbers and hyphens (especially hyphens) cause confusion. Stay away from them at all costs. Even something as clever as it may seem but stay clear of hyphens or numbers.
Check social networks
Before you register your desired domain name, it’s always a good idea to check social networks for the same name. To keep your site name constant and to build your brand, you want a name that is readily available. A good tool is KnowEm to see if certain names are already branded on social media platforms.
This is an easy step that will keep you out of harms way. Simply visit uspto.gov/trademarks and do the search before you register the name as you don’t want to infringe on anyone’s trademark.
#4 – Select a domain hosting
When creating a blog or any website for that matter you must have a domain name and hosting service. We will guide you to the quickest and easiest path. In our experience, we have tried many hosting companies and we highly recommend Bluehost for the level of service and ease of use, plus you get a free domain name with your setup! By all means please do feel free to try other hosting providers for yourself.
What we do like with Bluehost is the reliability, the 1-click installation of WordPress, and a great end user experience which counts a lot when you’re getting started or new to setting up a blog.
Next, once you click “get started now,” you’ll be taken to a page where you can select the hosting plan of your choice. When starting off we usually just begin with the “basic” option and upgrade as our site grows with more traffic. Currently, they are offering a special discount of $3.95/mo. (normally $7.99.mo.) The “plus” and “choice plans” are also good options but we would suggest to start off with the “basic” plan for now until people begin to start flocking to your site, than upgrade at that time.
Okay, remember what we talked about in “#3 – Choose a domain name” from above. This is where you will try all of those different naming choices you’ve come up with. If you’ve already got a domain name, just enter it in and click “Next” in the “I have a domain name” form. If you just are not ready to choose a domain right this time, you can always complete it at a later point when setting up your website.
#5 – Install WordPress
Don’t think of WordPress so much as your blog…it’s actually the software application or framework that allows your site to function as a blog. This is literally as easy as it looks (1-click install). Simply click the “Install WordPress” icon as illustrated below and you’re all set, that was easy!
#6 – Login to your blog and choose a theme
Now that you completed the 1-click installation of WordPress, you’re ready to go. You will login to your WordPress and this is where you can start to build out your site by selecting a theme. There are many free theme templates already loaded that you can get started with as illustrated below.
#7 – Let’s write your first blog post
How exciting! So… why am I terrified? If you’re like us, we wanted to create the very best and most professional blog post known to man. What we’ve learned is just do it and don’t procrastinate over it. It’s so easy to suffer from “paralysis analysis” because your seeking perfection. If you read it later and want to make changes then you can at anytime, we do this all the time.
Whatever you do don’t do this….Your first blog post should never be a “hello world” or “introduction” post because let’s face it, at this time nobody knows who you are yet; I know how rude! Besides your readers will be on your site to read about a specific topic first but they will eventually get to know you and your writing style. Save the introduction of yourself in your “About Me” page. That is where you can share about yourself and what your blog is about.
When you are new and starting off, you won’t have links to your popular posts. You can edit each post or page every few months with your popular posts and any new info you want to add.
So what should your first blog post be about?
Well in steps #1 and #2 we identified your passions and then narrowed them down into a category or niche. Your first blog post should be what is called and Evergreen post. Evergreen content is search-optimized content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers over a long period of time – as implied in the name. You may think that all online content is sustainable but you want it to be relevant long past its publication date, especially with search traffic growing over time.
We suggest launching your blog with a minimum of one blog post published in each category you setup on your site. Don’t have a ton of categories either, keep it simple for navigation purposes so 3-6 categories is ideal and then write at least 5-7 initial posts in each category.
Here’s the recommended article format for best results:
- 500-1,000+ words
- Feature image with text overlay
- 1+ Pinterest images with text overlay
- Internal links
- External links
- Small paragraphs (no more than 4 sentences per paragraph)
- Text broken up with white space, graphics, images, infographics, quotes, etc.
#8 – Give yourself some credit and have a solid “About Me” page
So which page on your site do you think gets the most traffic typically? Yes, the page about you! This is where you get to tell your story while giving the “WIIFM” to your readers (What’s in it for me?). Here are a few ideas to craft your About Me page around:
- Get the attention of your reader
- Be credible in the information you’re sharing
- Your academic or corporate background
- Your own personal experiences and knowledge
- Success with past customers, testimonials
- Social footprint: share how large or something special regarding your social community
- This page should make you likable so add a photo so you become relatable.
- Be human and vulnerable. Have fun and show the many sides of your personality.
- Bring value and solutions to convert them into long term subscribers
After reading your “About Me” page, your reader should have a clear understanding who you are, what you stand for or represent and why they should want to follow you. The steps above will assist you in finding your target audience and your tribe community!
#9 – Spend some time on You, invest in yourself
Just like anything else, the more you practice and learn the better you become at it. This is no different as not only do you need to understand how to get started (and please leave a comment below if we’ve done that for you here) but you also need to treat this like its your business. If you’ve never owned a business before then you don’t know it all coming out of the gates. The good news is there are a ton of resources on the “web” and we personally have learned a tremendous amount on YouTube (especially WordPress videos) and articles.
We too were in your shoes and over time have also invested in ourselves by learning from others. Here are some courses and tutorials that we’ve used and found beneficial in our growth about blogging, making money online, monetization, traffic, and more.
- The Knowtbook by Amy Lynn Andrews
- Traffic Transformation ebook
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course
#10 – Get traffic and promote your blog
Submit your blog’s url to Google and Bing. This is to ensure that your post will be listed on their search pages and its all free! This will be part of your long term organic traffic that will happen over time and not overnight. Having your post indexed on the search engines especially in the beginning, can take months so be patient.
Now that your post is live, it’s time to tell everyone about it! So how do you go about doing that? First, use social media for all of your social platforms as we recommend opening matching accounts in Pinterest and Facebook as your primary accounts for sure. Then add Twitter and YouTube if you plan on having videos as part of your marketing strategy. The sooner the better, since you want to get as many eyes on your post as possible.
Our main social media marketing strategy is Pinterest. We get over half of our traffic from Pinterest alone and it’s free which means your not paying for any pay per click keywords or for any ads. Although they do have an ad campaign that you can pay for if you would like to but its not necessary. Pinterest essentially is a search engine made of “pins” which are images that are “saved” and shared from one board to another. If the graphic on the pin is very pleasing to the eye, it can literally go viral and that’s a lot of free traffic back to your site!
The beauty of Pinterest is that you don’t need to have tons of followers, you just need good looking pins that attract people to them so they keep re-pinning your pins which in turn will drive traffic back to your site. In order to have a steady flow of traffic to your site you need to be consistent in your pinning. This can take some time and we put this on “autopilot” with a tool called Tailwind and would recommend to everyone, no joke!
Tailwind is a Pinterest marketing tool that schedules pins to go out at certain times during the day so you can get traffic around the clock. It can also schedule pins weeks ahead of time, freeing you up from having to be physically active on Pinterest every day, this is a tremendous tool and a must have for any blogger. As illustrated below, it finds the most optimal times based on your audience of when you should receive the most views of your pin, it’s amazing!
Another good way to get traffic is to post your article or blog post on Reddit. This is a very easy way to get traffic to your blog. Create an account with Reddit and pick your category and then click “Post”. Then wait and see how viral your post can become. It doesn’t work as often as Pinterest but when it does, it can get super crazy of how much exposure your post can receive.
Lastly, use social media share buttons on your site and for all of your posts! We cannot emphasize this enough. This is very important since you want to encourage your readers to share your blog post. This is pretty simple too. The easiest way to do this is to use a plugin that adds social media buttons at the top and bottom of your post.
There are plenty of social share plugins out there, but we prefer Social Warfare. You can see them in this post as we like the way the buttons look, because they are not too intrusive, hope you agree too.
#11 – Build your Email List
If you’re objective is to make money with your site, then the first thing to do is to be able to stay in touch with those who visit your site. This usually consists of a signup form either embedded on your page or by a pop up. This is critical because if the reader likes the content, then they most likely will want to stay in touch and hear more about what you have to say.
We held off on starting our email list for the longest time, and we regret that mistake. By holding off, we missed out on the opportunity to convert so many one-time visits into dedicated, long-term readers. What we know now is that our email list is by far our most effective and profitable method of networking with our readers. By the way, nobody can take your email list from you unlike when we rely upon Facebook and all of the other social media platforms….it’s proprietary to you and you alone so DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
So where do I start? There are many email subscription services out there and we have tried multiple over the years and if you’re setting up a blog we narrowed it down to what we feel are the two best for different reasons, MailChimp and Convertkit. Both of these services are phenomenal, they have similar features but at different price points.
Both services are incredibly powerful and have innovative platforms that allow us to send out multiple automated follow-up and marketing email campaigns. Equally they have amazing plugins for WordPress which allows you to customize the opt-in forms. There is a free version of MailChimp and also a paid plan as well which is a great way to start building your email list without any additional initial expenses.
Pricing Plan and Options for MailChimp:
Pricing Plan and Options for Convertkit:
Email Subscription Summary: Hope the table below helps you in making the decision of which email subscription service best fits you and your needs. If you’re just learning and don’t have any subscribers both will work great for you so it may just come down to cost then MailChimp might be best? Some may want the advanced automations that will be more sleek and fancy along with in-depth analytics for each sign up form you have then Convertkit may be the right choice for you.
Our recommendation? Try both! There is nothing wrong with giving the free MailChimp version a shot and testing out the Convertkit. Either way, make this happen for your website!
#12 – Pay it forward
Now that you have gained some experience and you will continue to learn more and more, be sure to help others along the way!
And just like that, you have started your blog…Congratulations! See that wasn’t as difficult as you were thinking was it? Okay, so here’s a recap of the 12 quick steps on how to start a blog:
- #1 – What are you passionate about?
- #2 – Let’s narrow your passions down
- #3 – Okay, Let’s give your blog a name
- #4 – Select a domain hosting
- #5 – Install WordPress
- #6 – Login to your blog and choose a theme
- #7 – Let’s write your first blog post
- #8 – Give yourself some credit and have a solid “About Me” page
- #9 – Spend some time on You, invest in yourself
- #10 – Get traffic and promote your blog
- #11 – Build your Email List
- #12 – Pay it forward