Blogging this… Blogging that… everyone is talking about blogging and there is good reason for it — it works!
Before we jump into the 9 step process of how to successfully create a blog that you can actually turn into a legitimate business or even just a side-hobby that generates income on the side, I want you to first forget about everything you’ve even heard about blogging. Scratch that… forget about everything you’ve also learned about blogging as well.
Right now you need to think with a clean slate and apply these lessons as we cover them. Blogging isn’t just about writing about what your passionate about and having your own little space on the internet. No, it’s about WordPress being your content management solution (CMS). Every web site needs content and WordPress is simply the best way to create, manage and grow your content over time.
So forget about what you’ve heard about “blogging” or what you might even think it is. The key takeaway here is that blogging and WordPress are one in the same and that’s what this “How to Create a Blog – 9 Steps to Success” guide is all about.
There are over 300 million blogs in the world today and that means you are going to need to stand out from the crowd and have a purpose if you plan to compete. This is where most bloggers go wrong. Instead of planning ahead before they even start, they simply register a domain name, setup hosting and start creating content… only to find themselves right back where they started six months down the road.
So why do some blogs succeed? Simple… they serve a purpose!
For instance… why are you still reading this blog?
Most people only have an attention span of 3-6 seconds. If you are still ready thing, then you are clearly interested in how to start a blog of your own and maybe even make some money from it in the process.
Enough chit-chat… the rest of what we are going to cover is all about building the foundation for your blog, creating content that provides value and not wasting your time with creating another blog on the internet that serves little to no purpose.
9 Steps to Creating a Successful Blog
Starting a blog is not as simple as “starting a blog”. If you want to create a blog of any real value, you are going to need to treat it like a legitimate business — which means you are going to have plan out your success, what methods you are going to focus on, who your audience is and how you will monetize your content and traffic.
To make this process easier and more seamless, I’ve put together this 9 point checklist to get you on the right path for blogging success.
Researching a Topic
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has one, but only a select few will actually take their idea and put it into action.
The topic and focus of your blog is everything. It’s why you wanted to start a blog in the first place, it’s why people are going to find your site and it’s likely something you will be working on for the next 12-24 months.
With all of that said, you need to spend a serious amount of time one choose your niche before actually going live with your site — especially if you are creating a blog to make money.
To kick things off, let’s first get a few questions out of of the way to set you off in the right direction.
– Are you blogging for fun, business or passion?
– Do you plan on making money with your site?
– How often will you blog and do you have enough to write about?
These three simple questions play a huge impact on the direction of your site, before you even choose a niche.
Now I have few more questions for anyone who said they are interesting in starting a blog for profit?
– What type of content can I create around my possible niche topic that people would pay for?
– Who are the top sites and resources already within this industry?
– How can I create a better resource, experience and purpose to my audience?
– What are the best methods of monetization that go with my site?
– Who is currently advertising in Google in this niche market?
All of these questions are important for you to answer right now, because the last thing you want to do is invest your time and money into a project that has no legs, or even worse… feels like another job!
After finding a topic for your blog, now it’s time to niche that topic down so you can focus on the exact type of content your audience is looking for. At the same time this may allow you to potentially become the authority in that space — which is what many of us are aiming for.
The reason why it’s so important to find a clear and cut niche focus for your site, is that you want your content and audience to be exact. Give your audience what they are looking for, and they will love your content. At the same time it will allow you to focus on premium content instead of trying to push out junk articles everyday for the same of putting something new out.
So what do we mean when we say “niche down”? Simply taking your existing niche and getting a clear and narrow focus.
You want to become the authority within your space, so it’s important not to select a niche or topic that is too generic or wide range.
Niching Down Example:
A perfect example of choosing a niche and breaking it down level by level would be “Basketball” to “Jump Training”. Basketball is extremely generic and when most people are searching for basketball online, they are only looking for scores, news and highlights. This is the exact reason why you see advertisements all over ESPN.com, and not them trying to sell tickets, products or services. With that being said… you much “niche down”.
As you can see in the illustration below, we go from Basketball to Basketball Skills to Basketball Jump Training. “Basketball Skills” was more niche specific, but it was still too wide range. For anyone who is looking for “jump training” online, it’s pretty safe to say they want to learn how to jump higher.
With “Jump Training” as your niche and blog focus, you can then cover all aspects of jump training, such as how to jump higher videos, exercises to jump higher, reviews of jump training shoes and much more. The end result if all of your content being based around “jump training” — which is exactly what your audience is going to be looking for.
Creating an Editorial Calendar
As we continue to mention the importance of your niche and content, it’s also important to plan ahead and make sure you will actually have enough content to write about as well.
The best blogs in the world have a great supply of new content going live everyday. While this isn’t completely necessary, it is important to have an idea of where your blog might be 6, 9, 12 months from now.
With that being said, the last thing you want to do is select a niche and start a blog, only to find yourself without anything to write about after a few weeks.
This is where an editorial calendar can come into play.
You editorial calendar can be a list that you jot down on a piece of paper or even a built in WordPress plugin that can help you organize and plan out your blog content for the coming weeks. No matter what method you choose, knowing where you are headed is the best way to plan for success.
Besides any content topics and ideas that you might already have off the top of your head, you can also do a simple Google Search for your blog topic as well. Scroll to the bottom of the search results and you’ll see a “Searches related to…” which shows even more ideas and relevant searches based on your niche.
From this simple, yet effective data from Google, we can come up with a few more content ideas:
– Best Jump Training Equipment
– Reviews on Different Jump Training Manual
– How to Use Resistance Bands to Jump Higher
Just based off Google Related Searches we could easily come up with many different post ideas. You can also click on each of the recommended searches and go in different directions to get more ideas.
Choosing a Domain Name & Web Host
Once you get through the frustrations of choosing your niche, breaking it down and then seeing if you have enough to content to scale out your blog, then it’s time to get ready for the fun stuff! — which is securing your own domain name and web hosting!
In most cases, a domain name will cost around $10-$20 per year (depending where you register it). Web hosting will run anywhere from a few dollars to $30+ a month as well. If you are starting your first site, there is no need to go crazy with hosting, so I have laid out the best options for you below.
Picking the Best Domain Name
When choosing a domain name for your blog, be sure to follow these key points:
– Always choose a .com, .net or .org domain TLD
– Stay away from numbers and dashes
– Pick something relating to the niche of your site
– Don’t get creative with words (skate vs. sk8 / 4 vs. for)
– Use generic words and not trademarks or brand names
– Make it easy for people to remember and spell
By following these guidelines, you will make it much easier for people to remember your name and find your site online
Setting Up Your Web Hosting
Thinking up a good domain name for your site might actually take you more time than anything else. When it comes time to setup your web hosting and blog, it’s actually quite easy.
I’ve been hosting a bunch of my sites with HostGator for many years now. It’s extremely easy to setup and as a ZacJohnson.com reader, you will also receive 30% off your first month of web hosting. In addition to hosting various sites of mine, HostGator powers of 10 million different sites on the internet.
To get started, simply click on the image above and it will send you to the HostGator site. Once you are there, click “Start Your Site Now” and go with the “Baby Package” and your site will be live in just a few minutes.
As mentioned earlier, WordPress is the CMS (content management system) of choice for nearly all blogs on the internet. Another great advantage to using HostGator for web hosting, is that they offer a one-click installation process for all of their users.
You can also view a complete walkthrough of the wordpress installation process here.
Once Wordpres is installed, you can start creating content for your site, while also customizing how it looks by using WordPress Themes and Plugins.
BONUS: For all new bloggers who sign up through the HostGator link above, I’d love to set you up with a premium theme for your site at no extra cost. This will make your site instantly stand out from the crowd and give it a professional look and feel, without the high costs of paying a designer. This is a $67 value in itself. To get started, sign up for hosting then click here to send me a direct message.
Creating Quality Content
With the pre-planning and technical details out of the way, you can now focus on your content creation.
The success of your blog will be solely reliant on the quality of the content you put out. In short, you need to provide value to the end user and give them exactly what they want (usually based off the search terms you are going after and what they searched for when hitting your site).
Going back to our original concept of creating a site that focused on “jump training”, the content is simple — give people the best details and information on how to jump higher. It’s not just about providing them with the right information, but also how you deliver it as well.
Look at the top ranking sites for search terms you are trying to rank for. If they are only using text, then you should be using text and video. Create even more value by adding video or even designing your own infographics.
Creating content will only get you so far. You will also need to build backlinks and get people to share your content.
In reference to creating great content, here are some tips you should always follow:
– Longer content is usually better. Stick with a minimum of 800-1200 words per article
– Include high quality images to break up content and bring content to life
– Use proper formatting, such as H1, H2 tags, descriptions and shortcodes
– Always include a “call to action” at the end of each post
Follow these key points to not only see much faster results for ranking in the search results, but also for seeing user interaction as well.
As mentioned, getting backlinks to your site is also key. Depending on your niche, guest blogging is still one of the best ways to do this. It’s cost effective, provides real value and also builds your personal brand and authority in the process. It’s still one of my most used marketing and backlink building tactics I use today.
Social Network Coverage
Blogging and WordPress isn’t just great for content creation, it’s also great for interaction and engagement as well.
Not only can people leave comments on your blog and provide you with valuable feedback, they can also share your content with their social followers as well.
The largest blogs in the world today are all using social media to dramatically increase the number of people that are accessing their sites. No longer do you have to wait for the search engines to find and rank your content… there are over 2 billion users across the top social networks just waiting to share your content.
WordPress has thousands of free plugins that you can use for pretty much anything — social sharing being one of them.
When you make it easy for people to share your content, you will see more engagement and social activity.
The floating social bar plugin is a perfect example of how you can add social sharing buttons to the top and bottom of your content posts and increase social sharing instantly. All a user needs to do is click one of these buttons, and your content will then be shared with all of their friends or followers.
In addition to setting up social sharing buttons on your site, you should also create new social profiles for your site on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. This will allow you to build up a loyal following for your blog, while also ranking for your blog name multiple times on the first page of the search results.
Setting Up a Mailing List
The content of site your is extremely important and crucial to the longterm success of your site, however… most people that come to your site are never going to come back.
In fact, 70% of the people that visit your site for the first time will never return. It’s nothing personal or even based on your content… it’s simply a numbers game and that there is just way too many distractions, sites and content out there to choose from.
So how can you keep a much higher percentage of people coming back to your site time and time again? The answer is through a mailing list!
Just like how we setup a domain name and hosting for your blog, we can easily do the same thing with a mailing list.
I’ve been using Aweber as my personal mailing list service for many years now and currently have tens of thousands of emails on my lists with them. If you would like to try them out, it’s only $1 for your first month and you can start adding mailing list subscribe forms to your site in just a few minutes.
After setting up your account, you can walk through the Wizard setup and create your own mailing list form. You can also use Aweber to build your mailing list through powerful popup plugins like OptinMonster.
Product & Service Creation
Probably the most exciting of all, is learning how to monetize your site and audience as your blog continues to grow. There are many different ways to monetize a blog, such as on site advertising, affiliate marketing and even creating your own products or online courses.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve had a lot of experience with online advertising and figuring out the best monetization methods for my exact audience. Here are some of my recommendation monetization methods:
– Google Adsense – Google Adsense is simply the easiest way to make money with a web site or blog. Google makes billions of dollars every year by selling advertising space within the search results (on a keyword and pay per click basis). Google Adsense is based off this same concept, except all advertising is done on your site. To get started, all you need to do is apply for Google Adsense, place a line of code on your site and then Google does the rest! (ad serving, tracking and sending out payments)
– Direct Ad Placements – Google Adsense is great for new site owners that aren’t sure how to sell their own ad space, or for bloggers that simply don’t want to deal with selling ad space. One of the best ways to increase your sites’ revenue is through the use of direct ad placements, which means you can sell banner advertising on a flat monthly basis instead of on a per click basis. With direct ad placements you also earn 100% of the revenue instead of a small percentage.
– Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing has always been one of my favorite ways to generate money online. In short, you will earn a commission by referring users or customers to other web sites when they take an action. For instance, if you mentioned a product on your site and linked with Amazon.com with your affiliate link, you would earn a commission on anyone who went to Amazon as a result of the link on your site and made a purchase. Affiliate marketing is great because there are 1,000s of affiliate programs to choose from and you never have to hold any inventory, deal with customers of process any orders.
– Product Creation – Many people start a blog and end up with a powerful resource that helps thousands of people throughout the course of the year. As more people find this content, their site becomes a well trusted resource for information. Instead of just relying on affiliate programs or Google Adsense to make money, the site can create a product of it’s own and earn a much higher percentage (if not all) per sale.
– Services – Much like product creation, creating your own services is another big step for any successful blogger or brand. Since many bloggers become experts at their blog topic and authorities within their niche, it’s common to see consulting and other services being offered.
No matter what monetization methods you decide to use, always be sure to put their visitor experience and value first. In many cases, it’s best to first focus on gaining a loyal audience and following before implementing any monetization methods on your site. However, every blog should grow their mailing list from day one!
Ready to Start a Profitable Blog Right Now? Let Us Help!
An insane 3,500+ words later and we’ve finally made it to the end of the post — there is simply no better time to start a blog!
It was a lot of content, but it was actually necessary to give every would-be blogger, entrepreneur and site owner a thorough look at the detailed process of creating a blog that will stand the test of time and potentially turn into a full time business.
Unfortunately many of you are going to ready this article and say “Wow, that was great information and told me everything I needed to know!” — only to still sit on the sidelines and not take immediate action! 🙁
As mentioned earlier, I want to make this as easy for you as possible. If you would like to get started with your own WordPress powered blog today, all you need to do is sign up through our HostGator link, and we’ll do the rest!
After your account is setup, simply send us an email and we’ll quickly follow up with you to see which premium WordPress theme would be a great fit for your site, and we’ll also setup the best WordPress plugins for you as well.
How to Make Money Blogging [Infographic]
In addition to the insanely detailed guide provided above, I also wanted to give you a visual summary, which can be seen in the “How to Make Money Blogging: From Start to Business…” infographic below — courtesy of Blogging.org.