Creating a blog can be a daunting and overwhelming task – I get it! To help make this process easier for you, I’m sharing my eight-step guide on how to start a successful blog.
We live in a world where you can positively impact lives and make money all while doing something you love in the comfort of your own home. You don’t need thousands of Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers to find success as a blogger. Learning how to start a successful blog could change your life and the lives of others.
With blogging, I’ve found a way to express my creativity, create an income, and most importantly, help thousands of people all over the world. Are you ready to learn to do the same?
Why I started a blog in the first place
I didn’t have a traditional “blogger” journey – whatever that is.
I’m Carley – a self-care coach and author with a strong passion for blogging and creating content. When I started my coaching business in late 2015, I never imagined that blogging would be a part of my business structure. I certainly didn’t think that it’d become a significant part of my income.
Over time, I began to realize that the digital landscape and my client’s needs were shifting. My clients began asking for resources that I trusted (what’s better than sending them a something I created?). Also, they wanted access to online coaching programs when their one-on-one sessions ended.
On top of growing client requests, I had brands I truly loved and trusted reaching out to me to partner as an affiliate. It was starting to become incredibly apparent that it was time to focus my energy and attention on growing a web presence.
A word of advice: social media is a great way to connect with your audience, but it’s rented space. You do not own the content you upload and those platforms could drastically change or vanish at any moment.
Learning how to start a successful blog will not only ensure longevity, but it will also help to diversify your business.
Step 1: Choose your topic and domain name
Choosing your blog topic and the domain name is not the first step that other bloggers recommend, but I believe it’s the most important. Getting clear on what you’re writing about and who you’ll be helping will save you a lot of time in the long run. Plus, you’ll quickly become a go-to resource for a specific topic instead of writing about a bunch of random things – that confuses readers.
Choose your topic
If you’re a coach or professional focused on a specific area, say hormone health, then your topic would be relatively easy to choose. It would make sense for your blog to focus on hormone health and supporting topics.
Read next: Starting a Health and Wellness Blog
If you’re not a coach, consider selecting a topic you are passionate and excited by. This way, you will be able to create content regularly that feels inspiring and useful for others.
Select your domain name
Domain registration is very affordable, and it is also a unique identifier to help people remember your blog. If you have a domain already registered, great – you’re good to go! If not, head over to any domain registrar, see if your desired domain is available, and register it.
Technically, you can run a blog using a temporary domain from services like Tumblr and Blogger, but chances are it will limit your success. These free blogging services are amateur, and this post is for the aspiring professional blogger looking to learn how to build a successful blog.
Personally, I prefer Google Domains.
Step 2: Choose a host
I know, I’m getting the nerdy stuff out of the way but trust me, this is crucial information when learning how to create a blog.
There are several web hosts out there, but to create a successful blog, I want to recommend WPengine. It’s the web host I use now, learning the hard way with other hosts that didn’t work for me. Let my mistakes be your stepping stones.
Why did I choose this host? WPEngine is an awesome, high-performance web host dedicated to WordPress that I highly recommend.
Yes, this WebHost more expensive than other hosts depending on your needs, but there’s a reason. Its performance is one of the fastest I’ve come across. Why is speed important? We’ll get to that soon.
Get started with WPEngine today and save 10% off your first payment or you’ll get 3 months free with an annual plan!
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Step 3: Get to know WordPress
WordPress probably sounds familiar to you at this point, but I recommend becoming best friends with it if you’re serious about creating a successful blog.
Why WordPress? WordPress is a powerful blogging and website platform that can be completely customized and provides a lot more control over the site than other platforms such as Squarespace or Wix.
Here’s why I use WordPress:
- Free, open source platform
- Easy to use, customize and publish posts & pages
- Ability to have more control over SEO (search engine optimization)
- Easy to migrate to other hosts if needed
- Easy content back-up systems
- Ability to build entire sites or multi-sites under one installation
- Custom professional themes
There are plenty of great tutorials on how to use WordPress. I won’t get into it in this post, but here’s one of my favorite resources that covers the basics of WordPress nicely.
Step 4: Choose and install a WordPress theme
WordPress uses themes to control how the site looks on the front-end. The front-end is what you or a visitor sees when visiting a site.
Themes can be created from scratch or purchased from professional theme development companies such as Themeforest. There are literally thousands of themes available to choose from to make your blog the most useful it can be!
You find a theme you like, and that fits your needs, purchase the license, and install it onto your web host. Most of these themes come with options that allow you to change the fonts, colors, icons, etc. so you can customize the look and feel of your blog. You’re now well on your way to creating a blog!
Step 5: Install the essential WordPress plugins
A great benefit to using WordPress is access to thousands of useful plugins. What’s a plugin, you ask? Quite simply, a plugin is an add-on that can enhance your website’s capabilities.
After blogging for a few years, I’ve found some plugins are critical to having a successful blog.
The top plugins I recommend for your website are:
- Akismet is a spam protection plugin. It helps reduce the amount of spam comments on your blog. It’s also free! Get the plugin now.
- Yoast SEO is an amazing plugin that helps with SEO. It offers keyword optimization, readability checks, and schema built in. There is a free and premium version available. Get the plugin now
- Contact Form 7 is a robust plugin that allows you to add contact forms to your website. The plugin makes it super easy to edit the fields, messages and where you want the email to submit to. Get the plugin now
- Fast Velocity Minify is a plugin that reduces the file size of your website files so that they load faster! We already know performance is a valuable thing. Get the plugin now
Step 6: Create content and a publishing schedule
Okay, now onto the more fun and exciting parts about creating a blog! Let’s dive in.
Once the domain is registered and hosting is set up, you’re ready to start blogging!
It might feel tempting to start writing all of your thoughts on your beautiful new site and crank out content. While there’s nothing wrong with that approach, I do recommend having a blogging schedule to stay on track and not get burned out within a few weeks.
Creating a realistic publishing schedule is essential, not only for you but for your audience and for search engines.
My advice is to start slow. Perhaps focus on one really thoughtful and detailed post per week and see how much time that actually takes so you can plan out future posts accordingly.
The key with content is to understand that there is so much content already out there on the internet.
- How will you stand out?
- What makes readers what to read your content?
- Are you speaking directly to your audience and connecting with them on a personal and emotional level?
The above points are important things to think about when creating your content, post schedule, and carving out time for writing in your busy schedule.
Step 7: Monetize your blog for success
Once you’ve completed steps 1-6, I believe you are in the best position to successfully monetize your blog.
Believe it or not, there are several ways to start earning income from all of your hard work creating your blog.
Traditionally, blogs make money through advertising on their site. These blogs have established a specific audience and – believe it or not – can more directly communicate with this audience than the advertiser can.
If you’re interested in advertising on your site, start by enrolling in Google Adsense. Google Adsense is an intelligent digital advertising platform – place a simple code on your website, and dynamic ads will load on the page.
Dynamic ads mean that different advertisements will display on your blog depending on the visitor and their interests – how cool is that!
Affiliate marketing is another way to monetize your blog.
What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is essentially a partnership with an advertiser or company that rewards you with a commission if you facilitate a sale. Your website is what triggered the sale to happen, and companies appreciate your support in the process.
For example, if someone clicks a link on my site to purchase something on another website, I will get rewarded for that sale. The reward is different for all advertisers, but typically can be between 5-20% of the final sale.
Many companies sign up with affiliate networks such as ShareASale, Commission Junction, and Impact Radius looking for publishers (you!) to work with. As a blogger looking to be successful, I highly suggest signing up with these networks and see if there are any companies that you want to partner with based on your blog’s topic and niche.
Also, Amazon has a simple and straightforward affiliate program. You will not only get a commission for the item you linked to and sold but also whatever else is in the user’s cart at checkout.
A few important affiliate marketing tips:
- Link, link, link! For example, if you’re a health coach sharing recipes, you should be linking to the blender, mixer, and ingredients you mentioned in your blog post. Not only is this helpful for your audience because they trust your recommendations, you’re also creating the opportunity for a sale. It truly pains me when I see missed affiliate link opportunities.
- Tell your story with the brand/product/experience. Get personal, vulnerable, and honest about why you chose this brand or company over others. What stood out? Why will your audience not only love it, but how will it improve their life if they decide to purchase?
- Think about what brands you’re already using in your home, at the gym, at work, in your kitchen, etc. and start a list of the products and companies. See if those companies have affiliate programs available by checking the bottom of their website or reaching out directly. Finding companies that organically align with your brand and audience’s needs is a no brainer when it comes to making your blog profitable.
Step 8: WordPress SEO basics and link building
As I mentioned above, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is the process of optimizing your content and website to appear higher in search results.
For example, notice the top three pages that appear when you search in google.
Well, it’s probably no coincidence these pages appear at the top. They are likely to be doing some amount of SEO to secure that position. It turns out that the top three results that appear in a google search get about 95% of the clicks.
For a successful blog, you need to have organic traffic to your posts (social media only goes so far) and SEO can be a key contributor to getting those organic page views and site visits.
Remember when I mentioned speed performance above? Well, speed is an SEO ranking factor that can really boost your organic rankings! Ensure that your site is functioning at optimal speeds by optimizing images, completing necessary plugin updates, and removing content that’s too large.
Fortunately, you can achieve some great SEO results on your posts in WordPress using the Yoast SEO plugin I mentioned above.
Here’s how Yoast SEO works:
- Set a focus Keyword you want to rank for
- Follow the instructions in the plugin on using that keyword
- Try to use variations of the keyword and not “stuff it” everywhere. Learn more about keyword stuffing
- Google is smart and will NOT rank you well if you use the same keyword over and over again
In addition to using Yoast SEO, backlinks play a significant role in SEO. Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. Generally, the more backlinks you have linking back to your site the better.
However, the quality and relevancy of those links matter.
For example, if you’re a health coach and you have several links from established health and wellness professionals, it could really help your organic rankings.
But as a health coach, you wouldn’t necessarily want a bunch of links from a blog about cars and trucks. Although those links won’t necessarily hurt your ranking, they could be seen as irrelevant to the content of your blog.
The idea is that search engines can infer that your site is important because it has more links from other relevant sites, so it is likely to rank it higher in its index.
Getting quality backlinks is not always an easy task. It may take some creativity and patience to achieve them. Here are a few ideas that can work for getting more links to your site:
- Create stunning and engaging content that naturally attracts backlinks (this is the Google-preferred way)
- Trade links with friends in your industry
- Look for broken links on sites that could link to you instead
- Post and comment in online communities that allow links back to your website
Extra tips for a successful blog
Aside from the super technical points, I mentioned above; I want to highlight a few more tips that will distinguish you from an amateur blogger.
- Consider Pinterest for growing your traffic – create beautiful imagery that links back to your site and is essentially dropped into your target audience’s lap
- Track your analytics, like, daily – I use Google Analytics to track who is on my site, for how long, and what content they are engaging with which helps me with my third point…
- Capture email addresses on your popular pages – offer a relevant opt-in or freebie in exchange for your visitor’s email address and get them on your email list
That’s a wrap: remember your blogging goals
You might be a bit surprised to see how technical blogging can be! Yes, this post focuses on learning how to start a successful and profitable blog, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Often we associate success with money, and having a blog that provides a living is truly a fantastic thing. It offers flexibility, unlimited potential, and a creative outlet.
However, it’s the intangible value of blogging that makes it successful. If you seek to help people and to create exciting, useful content that adds value, then you will more than likely become a successful blogger.
Your readers will share your content because they are genuinely inspired and positively affected by your efforts. That will lead to organic growth and even more success – financially, professionally, and emotionally – for you!
Good luck in your blogging journey, and let me know if you have any questions by commenting below!