Blogging is an incredible way to share your opinions with the world and to connect with other people who are interested in the same things you are.
With over 500 million blogs today, perhaps you too caught a blogging fever and you’re thinking about starting your blog.
If you do, I’m here to help!
In this post, I’ll show you how to start a successful blog, step-by-step.
So, if you want to become a blogger and make money online, this is exactly what you need.
1. Have the right mindset
2. Choose the perfect niche
3. Get a great domain name
4. Get reliable and fast hosting
5. Set your blogging goals
6. Identify your targeted audience
7. Plan your content in advance
8. Find keywords
9. Install WordPress and customize it
10. Set up your blog and get it ready for search engines
11. Create the necessary pages
12. Create content
13. Organize your content
14. Promote your content
15. Build an email list
16. Monetize your blog
In case you don’t know much about blogging I believe it’s best to start with some basic blogging FAQs.
There are a couple of excellent free blogging platforms you can use for blogging like Medium, WordPress, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Blogger, or Google Sites.
Those free blogging platforms are great places for testing your ideas, but if you are serious about blogging and you want to build an audience and make money online, there’s just one blogging platform you should choose and that is self-hosted WordPress.
That is also the blogging platform that I recommend.
Around 39% of all websites use WordPress because it’s free and because it offers lots of flexibility with plugins, customizations, and designs.
Self-hosted means that you need to purchase hosting to be able to install WordPress.
This will cost you some money but the benefits of having a self-hosted blog are something that free blogging platforms just can’t match.
Did you know that 34% of bloggers have been blogging for less than one year?
It’s awesome to see how easy it is to start a blog these days, but this statistic also shows that many bloggers can’t manage to keep their blogs up and running for very long.
That is because they get stuck in learning and implementing things that aren’t important for their level.
There are many blogging gurus out there that share tips on how to start a successful blog and none of them will tell you that you should only do actions appropriate for your level, and people like you will follow their advice maybe for a year, and then when they don’t see any progress they eventually give up.
Don’t be one of them.
There are 4 levels of blogging and each level has its main point. I call this a Blogging Pyramid.
- 4th level- Beginner. When you are a beginner your focus is to get knowledge. Only after you get the knowledge you can move up to the next level and become a professional.
- 3rd level- Professional. On this level, your focus is to get results. And again, only after you get results you can move up to the next level and become an expert.
- 2nd level- Expert. Your focus here is to get recognized. After you get recognized you move up to the last level and become a brand.
- 1st level- Brand. When you become a brand your focus is to get scale.
Having the right mindset is crucial and without it, there is no reason to follow any tip from this guide because the wrong mindset leads to failure.
Mindset controls the way you talk to yourself.
As you are thinking about starting a blog your mindset voice can say to you: “I’m not sure I can do it” or “I don’t have what it takes to be successful”.
That is called a fixed mindset.
The growth mindset is when that voice says: “Maybe I can’t do it now but if I put in my time and effort I can do it”.
Are you getting the point here?
Here’s what you can do to switch from fixed to growth mindset.
4 Steps for Changing Your Mindset
Changing that voice in your head is not easy but you can do it. You have to do it if you want to succeed. Just remember that the whole point of this isn’t just to change your thoughts, but your actions as well.
Step #1: Learn to listen to your fixed mindset voice
When you face challenges, that voice might say to you: Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.
What if you fail? People will laugh at you. If you don’t try, you can maintain your dignity.
When you fail at something, the voice might say: This would have been easy if you had talent. I told you it was a risk. Now you’ve shown how limited you are.
When you deal with critique, you might hear yourself say: It’s not my fault. It was someone else’s fault.
Someone might be giving you constructive feedback, but you might be hearing: “I’m disappointed in you. Now I see you are not capable to do this.
Step #2: Understand that you have an option
How you deal with challenges, failures, and critiques is your choice. You can interpret them with a fixed mindset, accepting that you don’t have what it takes.
Or you can interpret them with a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.
Step #3: Talkback to it with a growth mindset voice
When you face a challenge:
The fixed mindset says: Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have what it takes.
The growth mindset answers: I’m not sure I can do it now, but I can learn.
When you fail:
Fixed mindset: This would have been easy if you had what it takes.
Growth mindset: Everybody fails from time to time. With more passion and effort, I can do it.
When you face critique:
Fixed mindset: It’s not my fault. It was someone else’s fault.
Growth mindset: It is my fault. I’ve learned something from it and I can fix it.
Step #4: Take the growth mindset action
With practice, the voice you hear becomes your choice.
Listen to both voices, and practice working with the growth mindset. Discover how you can make it work for you.
The number one reason why you don’t follow your dreams is that you think those dreams are too big and that you are unworthy. But guess what, the truth is that everyone has a gift and most of us are denying it, and confidence in your talents and skills will be your strongest tool.
Remember that you are already an expert when it comes to your unique story and experience. There is no one like you, and your unique story helps you to stand out from others and to attract an audience that can relate to you.
At this point in your blogging journey, you should be focusing on setting the proper foundations for your blog. This part is very important, because in order to be successful you have to start with the basics.
In other words, if you want to build a successful blog, you have to start by laying down the right foundations.
This is not something that you’ll find in most blogging guides out there. They don’t tell you the importance of laying the foundations, they send you straight to the building part. And as a result, a lot of beginning bloggers not getting nearly as far as they could have.
You have to understand that the process of building a successful blog is a sequence of steps that have to be taken in the right order to get your blog to the right level.
Let’s move on to those foundations.
Choosing a Perfect Blogging Niche
Niche is a general theme or a topic of your blog, the stuff you’ll be writing about all the time. So when choosing your niche you should be looking for something that is your passion or a hobby, but it can also be something that you would like to learn about.
And the best thing is that you don’t have to be an expert to be a successful blogger in any niche. You will become an expert by researching and writing your articles.
Your perfect niche is a balance of three different factors:
- How passionate you are about that topic? (This is something that you should already know)
- How passionate others are about that topic? (Ask yourself are people interested in this topic on a consistent and ongoing basis. Check Google trends to see the interest over time. You don’t want to be in a seasonal niche)
- Can you make money from that topic? (Look for offers already in the market, and not something new. If someone is having a recurring income model on that topic already that’s good news)
Blogging should be fun, and your blog shouldn’t be like a day job. This can be done by choosing a topic that you are passionate about so you can enjoy writing your articles.
Choosing a Great Domain Name
Don’t try to be too creative when it comes to choosing a domain name for your blog. Even if it is a way to show your imagination a blog’s name should immediately express the primary purpose of your blog. Otherwise, no one could recognize what your blog is actually about.
Generally, since you should already know what your blog will be about, you should try to include the main keyword in a domain name and another word that fits your keyword.
There are a couple of methods that work well for choosing your domain name and it will be a huge help to express the purpose of your blog:
- Address the audience (examples: smartblogger or problogger).
- Address the topic (examples: clickfunnels or growthhackers).
- Address the benefit ( examples: makealivingwriting or beabetterhuman).
I recommend that you get .com domains because they are simple and professional. Try to avoid any hyphens, symbols, or numbers in your domain name.
Sometimes it can work well for you and you can create a unique brand name, but usually, they don’t t look as solid and decent as you expect it to be.
Ideally, you will get a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan but if the hosting provider of your choice doesn’t offer a free domain, Namecheap is the place to go.
I know from my personal experience that choosing a domain name it can be quite a time-consuming.
If you feel stuck and you run out of ideas for your domain name for your new blog there are two tools that I’m using for myself in these kinds of situations that helped me to generate some fresh ideas.
The first tool is Shopify domain name generator.
To find it you can just click on that link or google search Shopify business name generator and there will be probably a top result with a link to that generator.
The second tool is the GoDaddy domain name generator.
All these tools work in a similar way. You usually have to provide at least one keyword that is related to your niche or a certain word that you really want to have in your domain name.
After you press the generate button it will spit out all sorts of options and all you have to do is just go through the list of those generated domain names until you find something useful.
Purchasing Reliable Hosting
Purchasing a domain name and hosting is divided into two steps but today most hosting providers are giving a free domain with their hosting plans, so it becomes easier and cheaper to get both from the same place.
When it comes to choosing a hosting provider you should pay attention to the three most important things:
- Speed. Because the loading speed of your website is a ranking factor.
- Support. Because you’ll want to deal with the problems immediately and you need 24/7 support.
- Security. And when I say security, I’m not just thinking about malicious attacks but also on SSL certificate, because without it your visitors will get a browser warning that your site is not safe.
One hosting provider that I know that meets all these requirements is InterServer.
No matter if you’re a blogger, small-business owner, web designer, or developer, DreamHost makes it easy to start your online mission the right way, by giving you everything you need to succeed online without breaking the bank.
If you want more cheap options to host your blog check out my post by clicking the link below.
Setting Your Blogging Goals
Setting goals is a critical step if you want to grow your blog, or if you’re starting a new blog and you want to make it successful. You have to know where you’re going, so you can know where you need to go to get the results that you want to achieve. If you don’t set detailed goals, there’s no way to get there.
If you don’t set detailed goals, there’s no way to get there.
What do you want to accomplish?
Write down what you want to accomplish from the methods that you’ll learn reading this or any other guide. And of course, not just learn the methods, but put them into the process and take action and get results.
So what do you want to achieve?
What difficulties do you think you’re going to face to get to where you want to go?
Write them down because they are very important. They aren’t goals. But they are things that might stop you from accomplishing your goals.
Specifying Your Targeted Audience
One of the necessary steps for starting a successful blog is to know why and for whom you’re writing the content. You need to know who your potential audience is and what problems and challenges they want to solve. The best way to do this is to create a targeted persona.
A targeted persona is an imaginary and generalized illustration of your ideal audience. This helps you to better understand your audience and make it easier for you to create content for their specific desires, aspects, and problems. When it comes to blogging, creating a targeted persona helps you to understand what kinds of content you should be writing to attract that audience.
How to Find Your Targeted Persona
You need to think about that personas avatar so you can create your content like you are talking to that particular someone.
First, you have to know your niche. Then you limit it to a sub-niche, which is a minor part of your niche. Now dig deeper into microniche, which is a limited part of the sub-niche. This is where your targeted persona is.
When you find out who is he, you have to find out what he wants. Each person from your audience has problems, and questions about those problems. They need your content to help them to move forward and get results.
So your task is to know their problems and answer their question through your content so they can move forward and get results.
Some Of the Most Common Information About Your Targeted Persona You Should Think About
- Name – Naming your persona helps to be more specific.
- Gender and age – This characterizes your audience demographic which you will know through the market research.
- Location – Where does your target persona live? Do they own a house or they live in an apartment?
- Job information – Specifying this will help you to better think about who you are talking to and more easily understand their wants and needs.
- Goals and motivations – Where they were a couple of years ago? Where are they are now? Where do they see themselves in the next couple of years?
- Pain points – What causes constant pressure in their lives? Which problem is important enough that they will spend money or time to fix it?
- Habits – Where does he or she spend time online? What social media platforms do they use regularly?
You can use Hubspot’s free tool Make My Persona to see how it looks like.
Planning Your Content in Advance
Content planning is the part where you determine what you will do and when. This is where you create topics, choose specific content types and tactics to meet your goals and your audience’s preferences, and then put all of that into your editorial calendar.
When creating your content plan, the first step is to create a list of content ideas.
You’ll want to find topics that are your targeted audience prefers and topics that other bloggers in your niche are linking to.
What you do is to go around the web and check the most popular videos and articles in your niche and write them down. You can use Google Sheets or any other similar tool, or just a pen and paper.
Here’s what I do to find lots of content ideas fast.
How to Find Lots of Content Ideas for Your Audience Fast
First, go to a site called Answer the Public.
This site uses auto-suggest tools from Google and Bing. Just enter your main keywords and wait for the magic to happen.
It shows all the questions related to your keywords, which people are searching online.
Second, go to Amazon and check the books in your niche and try to find their tables of content.
Many of them have a table of content and you’ll be surprised when you see how many content ideas you can find there.
Third, go to Quora. This is a question and answer type of website where you’ll find topics related to your keywords.
Just scroll down through questions that people are asking.
The last thing to use is YouTube. Find top channels in your niche and check the most popular videos to get more ideas.
3 Step Process to Find Popular Topics for Content That Targets Other Bloggers
Here’s the 3 step process for finding topics that other bloggers like to share and link to:
1. Resource Pages
The first step is to find resource pages. In case you didn’t know, resource pages are pages that link to content on other blogs. This is a done for you list of popular topics in your niche.
You can find resource pages on Google with these search strings:
When you find resource pages look for topics that are repeatedly linked. When you find them, write them down.
2. Popular Posts and Pages
The second step is to look for popular posts and pages on top blogs in your niche.
To find popular posts just visit the blogs and try to find their popular post section. Many blogs have it in the sidebar.
To find popular pages you can use an SEO tool like SEMrush or Ubersuggest.
What happens is when you enter a domain of any blog into the SEO tool it will show you the most popular pages and all the keywords they rank for.
Again, look for the topics that are repeatedly coming up again and again. When you find them, put them on your list.
3. Most Shared Topics on Social Media
Step three is to find topics that generate lots of shares on social media.
You can use the tool called BuzzSummo for this. Just enter the broad keyword into the tool and write down a couple of the most interesting topics from the list.
Now when you collect enough ideas pick the best ones and add them to your editorial calendar.
Creating Your Editorial Calendar
After you finish with your keywords it’s time to make your editorial calendar. You can use Google Sheets.
You’ll need to add headlines, keywords, dates of publishing, and a link to your blog post once it’s published. That way you’ll have everything organized in one place for later so you don’t waste much time searching for your old posts.
For everything you are about to do you probably have a plan for how you’re going to do it. And when it comes to successful blogging, planning is the crucial thing to do if you don’t want to get stuck in front of the blank screen wondering what will you write about.
Finding Keywords to Target Within Your Content
If you’ve been reading about blogging, then you already know what keywords are. Keywords are the words and phrases that people are using to find information, resources, or even to find products they are going to purchase.
There are three important purposes for keywords. And most people don’t even realize this.
3 Important Purposes for Keywords
The first one is for pay per click in advertising where people are searching for certain keyword phrases in a search engine. And then you’re showing ads to those users based on what they are searching for. That’s what Google AdWords is all about.
The second important purpose of keywords is for content marketing or search engine optimization.
When you create content, you should create it around a certain keyword phrase which is part of the headline, meta description, introduction, and which is mentioned a few times in the body of your blog post.
Anything you create to get traffic from, have it ranked in Google or any of the search engines, that all comes down to the keyword level and it’s attached to the keywords.
A third purpose is very important, and oftentimes forgotten when it comes to blogging and making money online. And that’s what the market is thinking.
If you keep up with keywords in your niche, they will tell you what they want to buy, what kind of content you should create for them, and what are their problems.
You see, keyword data is very useful.
It will tell you everything you need to know about how to grow your blog. It will tell you how to market to those people, you’ll know what language they speak.
And I don’t mean about English, Italian, or Croatian language.
In every niche, people use their own words and phrases, and names when they talk about specific products or specific things important to them. It’s what they’re interested in.
And if you learn what those things are, you can target them. You can use them in your blog posts, in your ad copy, or on your landing pages.
How to Do Keyword Research
The fact is that most people start their keyword research by entering some random keywords into the tool and choose a keyword from nothing.
This isn’t how you should do your keyword research if you want to get traffic from Google and higher rankings.
Where is the problem?
The keyword selected that way might be on a topic that your audience likes and other bloggers link to. But unless you research popular topics, you won’t know that until you’ve already created and published your content, and by then it’s already too late.
Rather, find the popular topics first and then adjust your keyword research around those topics. That way when you publish your content, you’ll know that people will want to read it and other bloggers will be glad to share your content with their audience and link to it.
But how to choose which keywords to target?
In the last few years targeting long-tail keywords was the winning path to successful blogging.
The argument for this method is that the 7 long-tail keywords are easier to rank for than for 1 main phrase. And if you put the search volume of those 7 long-tail keywords together, they will match the search volume of a single high-volume term.
This sounds great, but in reality, it doesn’t work anymore.
After years of growing blogs by targeting long-tail keywords, Google changes the game with its Panda update. And all those blogs targeting long-tail keywords lost over 50% of their traffic in a short period.
Now the other problem with long-tail keywords is that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm made longtail keywords outdated. Google now understands the intent behind a keyword and they are showing identical results for all long-tail keywords on the same topic.
The long-tail keyword method, now, can weaken your PageRank (blog’s link authority). You need to publish lots of content optimized on a different long-tail keyword and that can damage your SEO.
This can happen because the more content you have on your blog, the more your link authority gets reduced through it.
So what is the solution?
First, what is the medium-tail keyword?
So we have long-tail keywords, which are the phrases consisted of a couple of words like “The Best Running Shoes Under 100$”. These keywords have low search volume, and also low competition.
We have main, one to two-word, high-volume terms that are too competitive like “Affiliate Marketing” or “Blogging”.
Medium-tail keywords are the best of both worlds. Those are the keywords like “Successful Blogging” or “Affiliate Marketing Strategies”.
3 Step Process for Finding Medium-tail Keywords
- Enter your popular focus term into a keyword tool. You can use the Google Keyword Planner or any other tool that you like.
- Sort listed keywords by average monthly searches, with the highest volume keywords on top.
- Choose a medium-tail keyword from the middle of the list.
For example, let’s say that you have a blog about coffee. And you find out that other bloggers in that industry link to content about caffeine-free coffee.
So just enter caffeine-free into the tool. It’s that simple.
So after you sort your list, you’ll see main terms that are impossible for you to rank for at the top of your list. These are keywords like caffeine and coffee.
You’ll have long-tail keywords like “The best caffeine-free coffee cakes” at the bottom of your list.
The middle of the list is mostly made up of medium-tail keywords. These are keywords like “Caffeine-free coffee cake” and “Caffeine-free coffee beans”.
Choose the keyword that is the best fit for the focus topic that you found in your research and don’t worry much about the search volume of the keyword.
Because of Google Hummingbird, when you optimize your page or post for a single medium tail keyword, at the same time you’ll rank for many long-tail keywords too.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are words that are typically found together for a particular topic and are semantically associated with each other.
LSI Keywords are not synonyms, they are phrases that are closely connected to your target keyword.
Today, Google is more focused to better understand the main topic of your article and LSI keywords help search engines to do that.
Google will still scan your page for keywords in your title tag, content, and image alt text but they’ll also scan your page for LSI keywords.
And when they see these LSI keywords in your content, they’ll be sure that your page is about that topic.
You can use a tool called LSIGraph to find those phrases. Just enter your target keyword and the tool will spit out all related phrases you can use in your content.
Google Autocomplete can be also used to find LSI keywords. Just enter your target keyword into Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Bold words are your LSI keywords.
It doesn’t matter where you’ll include them in your content. As long as Google finds these terms anywhere on your page, you’re good.
Tools for Keyword Research
For your keyword research, I recommend Jaaxy.
Jaaxy is the best keyword research tool for bloggers and affiliate marketers. It’s easy to use and helps you find the best profitable, low competition keywords to target within your content.
When you sign up, you’ll get 30 free searches to try the tool before purchase.
Since that is a paid tool, and for many of you paying is not an option here’s the one that you can use for free. 5 free searches per day isn’t much but it’s better than nothing.
The name of this tool is Seobility.
To search for keywords, just enter your focus term or a keyword combination and select the targeted country. Seobility Keyword Tool will deliver several keyword ideas from different categories, including:
- Similar keywords that are related to the term you entered
- Questions related to the keyword that is frequently asked by search engine users
- Related searches that Google displays in its search results
- Autocomplete searches suggested by Google as the term is being typed in
- Related terms from the same broad category as the keyword entered
So far, you learned about the importance of having the right mindset and setting blogging goals.
You have your domain name and hosting, you know what will you write, for whom you’ll write it, and you know which keywords you’ll target in your first set of blog posts.
And now it’s time to install your WordPress blog, customize it, and prepare it for search engines.