A Step by Step Guide to How to Start a Blog and Make Money Online.
If you want to learn how to start a blog like a real business owner and not a hobbyist, you’ve come to the right place.
With millions of bloggers out there, a lot of people think that it’s too saturated to make money blogging in 2020.
I created this blog as a case study to prove that you can start blogging right now and make significant money in months, not years.
You just need the right tactics. And you need to scale.
So why should you follow my advice on how to start a blog?
This ultimate guide for beginners will cover how to choose the right niche, launch your site with WordPress, generate traffic, and monetize your site in the fastest timeframe possible – all while working full-time.
Let’s get started.
How to Start a Blog in 11 Easy Steps.
- Choose Your Blog’s Niche.
- Write Down Your Blog’s Goals.
- Pick a Domain Name.
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan and Register Your Domain.
- Install WordPress – Your Blogging Platform
- Pick the Right Theme.
- Install WordPress Plugins.
- Set Up Your Site’s SEO and Permalink Structure.
- Create Content for Your Blog.
- Create a Long Term Content Strategy.
- Perform Ongoing Guest Post Outreach And Link Building.
Before we dive into this step-by-step beginner’s guide on how to start a blog, let’s cover a few basic things.
Why Are You Starting a Blog?
First, you need to know your why.
We all start blogs for different reasons – to make money, to create an audience around a topic we’re passionate about, to build a professional resume, to enhance our writing skills – the list is endless.
But it goes deeper than that.
For example, if you want to learn how to start a blog to make money, it could be for any number of different reasons:
- The ability to increase your nest egg for retirement.
- The dream of quitting your full-time job and saying goodbye to the 9-5 grind.
- Spending more time with your family.
- Saving for an extra vacation every year.
Go deep into your “why statement” to understand not only your goals but also what accomplishing your goals will mean for your life.
For me, I always dreamed of making enough money to avoid the corporate rat race. I dreaded the thought of working for someone else for 30+ years until retirement. Being startled awake to an alarm every morning. Driving to work stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Ultimately, spending nine hours every weekday doing something I didn’t really like.
The first reason I started my blog was time freedom.
The second reason was to prove something to myself – to live up to my own expectations of what my life could be and avoid mediocrity at any cost.
And I tried and failed plenty of times.
It was only when I finally learned enough from a lot of other smart people in my digital marketing career that I found the formula to make it work.
I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know.
So I now want to share with you all the things I didn’t know.
Let’s go to step one.
1. Choose Your Blog’s Niche.
We all know that your blog needs a niche – whether it’s marketing, cooking, Crossfit exercises, vegan dogsitting, underwater parkour solo dancing – whatever crazy blog topic, there are an endless amount of things to blog about.
Most professional bloggers will tell you to start with something that you’re passionate about because it helps you “maintain a consistent writing schedule and push through failure to succeed.”
They’ll also tell you to choose a niche at the intersection of passion, skills, and experience:
However, this model is flawed because it’s missing one major component: monetization.
I firmly believe that with a blog, money drives passion more than passion drives money.
Let’s say you take this common advice and choose your blog’s niche based on passion, skills, and experience.
In this example, your passion is fitness, your skills are helping people lose weight, and your experience is that you’re a personal trainer focused on high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
So you decide to create a fitness blog specifically designed to help people lose weight with HIIT.
- You write 20 blog posts.
- Incorporate exercise videos.
- Create your Instagram and YouTube channels.
- Build an About Me page and FAQ to tell your story.
- Add Amazon affiliate links to fitness products you promote.
- And build your email list with your lead magnet – The Top 25 HIIT Workouts to Lose 5 Pounds in 7 Days.
Then when a user signs up for your email list, they receive a final email offer on day 7 for a free online personal training consultation, with the end goal of having them become a recurring monthly customer.
This all sounds very exciting.
However, I can almost certainly guarantee that this blog will fail.
Monetization wasn’t priority #1 when choosing this niche – it was passions, skills, and experience.
This niche is going to take years to monetize. And when things take years to monetize, the likelihood of quitting becomes exponentially higher.
Because that’s the first myth: it takes years to make money from a blog.
There’s another problem with this strategy, and it comes from human nature: our desire for significance.
Imagine writing about something you’re passionate about earnestly for months, and realizing you still have no following, no traffic, and not a single dime from all your efforts.
Think about it.
Whether someone is an artist, sculptor, graphic designer, director, producer, wannabe Instagram celebrity, or blog writer, we all want recognition for our work. As social creatures, we desire to share the things that we create with other human beings.
Think of a child showing a drawing to one of their parents for recognition. Have you ever watched a movie you’ve already seen with a friend because you wanted to share it with them? Why do people strive to see their names in published works or after a movie as the credits roll?
We strive for significance and meaning in our lives. We want to share our ideas with others and for something to live on after we’re gone.
I could blog about my passions, skills, and experience for a while, but if I wasn’t gaining any readership or making any money, I’d quit 100% of the time.
And that’s why 95% of blogs fail.
Most bloggers start with a passion in mind but don’t know the simple digital marketing tactics to make it work.
Many new bloggers create content for years, get burned out when they don’t see results, and quit.
So we’re going to flip the script and start your blog like a business from the very beginning.
To do this, we’ll choose your ideal niche not based on passions, but on four primary business factors:
- Audience Revenue Potential
- Affiliate Marketing Potential
- Professional Leverage
- Keyword Research
1. Audience Revenue Potential.
When you’re starting a new blog, the most common question is, “What should my niche be?”
The key is to find an area that you understand and solve a pain point for your audience.
However, you not only need to solve a pain point – you need to solve a pain point that an audience is willing to spend money on.
As a blogger, you need to understand your audience’s challenges deeply so that you can offer them exactly what they need.
And the best place to start is by looking at yourself.
Ask yourself, “What audiences am I a part of?”
You’re far more likely to understand a specific group’s struggles if you’ve encountered them yourself.
Take my blog, for example.
When I started this blog, I was a 31-year old American male working in the tech industry. I was putting in long hours, sacrificing time with my family and friends, and getting stressed and burned out by the rat race. So I created this blog as a means to an end – a way to make passive income, escape my 9-5, and take back control of my time – and my life.
So my target audience was people similar to me:
- 25-45 years old.
- Working 9-5 but want to escape the rat race.
- Ready to hustle and put in the work.
- Smart and technically savvy.
- People who want to make passive income through a blog.
Understanding your audience is the first step.
The second (and equally important) step is to understand how much your audience is willing to spend to solve their pain points.
This is your audience revenue potential.
This bears repeating: you need to understand your audience AND how much they’re willing to spend on your solution.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to start a blog about human resources and job tips for Millennials.
Your blog posts may pull in different types of readers, including job seekers, working professionals, and college students.
To monetize a blog in this niche, let’s say you create a sales funnel:
- You write new content to attract an audience online.
- Next, you build a “job interview checklist” lead magnet to generate email opt-ins.
- Third, you place affiliate links to some products you want to promote.
- Finally, you offer a $300 product titled “The Ultimate Job Interview Preparation Online Course.”
Nothing is wrong with this approach.
This tends to be a common approach for most new bloggers. If you were to put in a few years of content creation and built up your email list, I estimate you could start making a passive income in 2-3 years.
However, by slightly altering your potential niche, you increase your blog’s income potential by 100x.
All you do is change your target audience from job seekers to job employers.
Let me explain.
By adding a B2B component to your blog, you shift your audience from individuals to businesses.
Businesses have larger bank accounts and are more likely to pay you without hesitation.
The beautiful thing about this approach is that your blog launch, content, and marketing funnel are pretty much the same. However, with the B2B component, you don’t just stop at a $300 course. You can add the final component of 5-figure online consulting.
Rather than writing a blog post on entry-level interview tips, position yourself as an expert and go after the businesses themselves by offering something like HR audits or onboarding consulting for thousands of dollars per month.
When you’re just starting out and traffic is hard to come by, offering consulting services is a great way to generate more income with less traffic.
It’s simple math: If your new blog has 100 visitors a 2% conversion rate, your two sales should be for thousands, not $19.99.
Instead of focusing on adding affiliate links and ads to your site when you have little traffic, see if you can come up with a high-end consulting offer to build momentum and make money right out of the gate.
Remember, just understanding your audience’s pain points isn’t enough.
To improve your revenue potential, a portion of your audience needs to be in a lucrative B2B niche and pay on a monthly recurring basis.
To recap, when choosing your niche, rather than worrying about getting thousands of passive, low-value site visitors, focus on closing 2-3 high-value clients at the beginning.
With this approach, I hope you’re beginning to understand why I truly believe you can make $10,000/month in 90 days with a new blog.
These new funds will be used to accelerate your path to passive income, but we’ll leave it at that for now.
Let’s move onto something I’m very passionate about – affiliate marketing.
2. Your Niche Needs Affiliate Marketing Potential.
Affiliate marketing is my favorite form of blog monetization. It’s the most passive, and once you start getting traffic, you can make money while you sleep.
Affiliate marketing is the act of recommending products and services of other businesses and making a commission on every sale.
Most large companies have affiliate programs you can join. Once you apply and are approved into their programs, you can grab your unique affiliate links to add to your blog, view reporting on clicks and sales, and see any future payouts you’re scheduled to receive.
Here are some steps to get started with affiliate marketing:
- Apply to a company’s affiliate program either on their site or in an affiliate network. For this, you’ll need a website and an email address from your domain – not just a Gmail or Yahoo email.
- Once approved, grab your unique affiliate link and copy/paste it into any piece of text on your blog.
When a user clicks that specific link, a cookie is stored in their computer, which credits the sale to you based on the cookie duration – typically 30, 60, or 90 days.
Now, when you think of the word blogging, what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s lifestyle blogs writing about what they’ve been purchasing for their family lately. Or a fitness blogger that’s giving you some great advice on how to lose weight. It could even be an interesting person writing their own personal memoirs.
I want you to forget about these types of blogs.
They may be interesting to read, but they aren’t the niches that will bring you the most revenue.
Instead, consider this simple formula.
- To make a lot of money blogging, you need affiliate income.
- To make affiliate income, you need to rank on search and get web traffic.
- To get web traffic, you need to rank for keywords that drive the most affiliate revenue.
So what are these keywords?
The answer: keywords with the word “best” in them.
Here are some examples:
- In finance, it could be the best credit cards, best auto loans, or best home insurance.
- In tech, the keywords could be the best laptop of 2020, best VR headsets, or best Mac accessories.
- In marketing (like my blog), it could be the best email marketing software, best web hosting, or the best website builders.
These “best” keywords are searched by people looking for product reviews.
They want to read a blog with in-depth content on the “best” something before making a purchase (and they aren’t ready to go right to a company’s website and buy something yet.)
Think about it.
If you’re searching for a new laptop, you might type in “best laptop of 2020.”
Google this term right now and look at the top 10 results.
Every single website in the top 10 results is an affiliate. Notice how there are no actual companies selling laptops. There’s no Best Buy, Walmart, Dell, or HP – only affiliates recommending laptops.
Now try Googling “best credit cards.” What do you see?
Again, every single top 10 result is an affiliate blog.
Why do these affiliate sites outrank brands selling the products?
They write long-form, in-depth review articles that search engines prefer.
You’ll begin to realize is that most profitable blogs are, in fact, review websites making affiliate commissions from list posts.
And the truth is, these recommendations are primarily based on how much money the affiliate blog is making from their top recommendations – not the actual quality of the product itself.
Once you grasp this, you’ll begin to see affiliate sites everywhere.
So now when you think of blogging and planning your niche, replicate sites like these:
- Finance: NerdWallet, Fool.com, WalletHub, CardRatings.
- Tech: Tom’s Guide, Techradar, Wire Cutter, CNET.
- Travel: Nomadic Matt, The Points Guy, Expert Vagabond.
- Business: The Balance SMB, FitSmallBusiness, FinancesOnline.
I think that the most profitable niches right now for new blogs are finance, tech, travel, business, and marketing.
We’ll get to keyword research later, but know that your blog should have affiliate marketing revenue potential.
Let’s move onto the next weapon in your blogging arsenal – your professional leverage.
3. Use Your Professional Leverage.
After uncovering a lucrative audience to provide value to, the next step is to uncover the strategic advantages you may have over others.
- What is my current level of professional experience?
- What connections do I have in my industry?
- Can I leverage this experience into a profitable blog?
- If I could pitch any website in the world to contribute a guest post, who would choose me from the start?
To build a truly successful blog, you first need to build influence.
And to build influence, you need to step outside of your comfort zone and leverage your connections, professional experience, and everything at your disposal like never before.
With a blog, you’ll also be performing a lot of outreach to make new connections. This includes building relationships so you can guest post on authoritative sites in your niche to get relevant, high Domain Authority (DA) backlinks.
And when you’re just starting, you may not have many connections or published content out there. You might say: “Why would anyone feature me?”
This is where leveraging your professional background helps tremendously.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you might have a base of clients, contacts from local meet-up groups, and even know photography influencers that you met in the past. If you can leverage these contacts in the future, you can accelerate the growth of your blog.
Use every advantage you have at your disposal. These advantages will help you build early momentum with guest posts, backlinks, and social shares.
Now let’s move onto the final (and most important) factor in choosing your niche.
4. Keyword Research.
To me, keyword research is the most important step when choosing your blog’s niche.
It’s very simple. Are people searching for the things you want to write about?
Every individual blog post needs to focus on one target keyword. And if no one is searching for it, you’ll never get traffic.
It’s a fact: You need to have a basic understanding of keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO) so that your blog can rank and get traffic.
Why? People search Google 63,000 times every second. That’s 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day. Plus, organic traffic can be more valuable than social media traffic because people perform high-intent searches online. There are plenty of opportunities out there – you just have to know how to find them.
Another good piece of news is that there are SEO tools to understand all of this search data. With tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, you can view individual keyword metrics, including:
- Monthly search volume: how many times a keyword is searched for in a given month.
- Keyword difficulty: on a scale from 0 to 100, how difficult is it to rank for that keyword based on the competition.
- The average cost per click (CPC): this is how much the keyword is worth if you were to create a PPC ad for it and pay for the click. It’s a good indicator of the keyword’s value.
So what do you look for?
You want to find keywords with high volume and low competition.
Here’s how I rate these competitive metrics.
Monthly Search Volume:
- 0-1,000: Low
- 1,000-5,000: Low/Medium
- 5,000-20,000: Medium
- 20,000-100,000: High
- 100,000+: Very High
- 0-20: Low
- 21-50: Medium
- 51-75: High
- 76+: Very High
On my site, there are two main types of keywords I target when it comes to SEO: super high-volume/high competition and medium volume, low competition.
1. Revenue Drivers: Medium Volume, Low Competition, High CPC Keywords
The first keywords new blogs should search for are medium volume, low competition keywords.
For example, let’s take a look at my post on Webinar Software. I published this post and became #1 for this keyword within four months, bringing in $10,000+/month in affiliate revenue.
- Target keyword: webinar software
- Monthly search volume: 4,300
- Keyword difficulty: 22
- Average CPC: $25.00
4,300 is not a very high monthly search volume, but since position 1 gets over 33% of traffic, I could expect to get 1,419 visitors/month to my blog for position one on this term.
Plus, with a low keyword difficulty of 22, this term should be relatively easy to rank for (in fact, I got to page 1 just a few days after publishing the blog post).
Finally, with an average CPC of $25, it is a valuable, high-intent search term.
One quick side note on keyword search volume:
While the keyword webinar software gets 4,300 searches per month, there are thousands of potential variations of this keyword – for example, best webinar software, webinar tools, webinar platforms, etc. This post can rank for all of these variations, too, so I typically double or even triple my volume estimates based on the main target keyword.
Using Ahrefs Also Rank for Report, you can view keywords that the top-ranking pages for your target keyword also rank for in the top 100 search results. This allows you to find less obvious keywords that you can also include in your post’s copy and subheadings.
The key to finding relevant keywords from this report to use for your blog is to search with more specific queries. For example, instead of “cooking,” use “vegan recipes.” Or “email marketing services” instead of “marketing.”
How to find this type of keyword for your blog:
Use a tool like Ahrefs and filter the results. Set the monthly search volume filter to a minimum of 1,000 and the Keyword Difficulty filter to a maximum of 10.
What these keywords are good for:
These keywords should make up the bulk of your posts and be the main revenue-drivers for your blog. The key is to find a good amount of long-tail keywords with medium volume and low competition in your niche. If these keywords are preceded by terms like “how to” and “best,” you’re well on your way to finding a profitable niche and solving a pain point.
2. Blog Builders: Super High-Volume/High Competition Keywords
The second type of keywords that I target are super high-volume terms that aren’t as easy to monetize but can bring in a lot of traffic.
For example, take my post How to Make Money Online.
- Target keyword: how to make money online
- Monthly search volume: 103,000
- Keyword difficulty: 55
- Average CPC: $2.00
First, this keyword has a 25x higher volume than webinar software. With high volume and all of the potential keyword variations, ranking in the top 5 positions for this term could bring in 30-65,000 visitors/month.
However, this keyword also has a lower search intent than webinar software. With the keyword webinar software, we know what the searcher wants.
With how to make money online, this user could be interested in anything from starting an online business to podcasting or coupon clipping – we just don’t know.
So that’s why it’s average CPC is only $2.00 – it’s vaguer and harder to monetize.
How to find this type of keyword for your blog:
Use a tool like Ahrefs and filter the results. Set the monthly search volume filter to a minimum of 20,000 and the Keyword Difficulty filter to a maximum of 75.
What these keywords are good for:
These keywords should make up 5-10 pillar blog posts that you put a lot of time and effort into. While these high volume keywords won’t generate immediate revenue, they bring in a ton of traffic to your blog and can increase the size of your email list.
3. Summing Up Keyword Research
A blog needs a mix of both super high-volume/high competition and medium volume, low competition keywords.
Here are some of the tools you can use for your keyword research:
- Google Keyword Planner
Wrapping Up Picking Your Niche.
After doing your keyword research, discovering a lucrative audience and niche, and planning how to leverage your professional connections, it’s time to get to work.
The niche selection section above is longer than most other guides on how to start a blog because early planning is one of the most important keys to blogging success.
Let’s start planning your new blog.
2. Write Down Your Blog’s Goals.
Everyone knows the famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
This is true when starting a new blog.
After choosing your niche, you need a way to keep track of everything — not just your to-dos and content ideas, but also your goals, ideas, and motivations.
The key during this stage is not to overcomplicate things.
When I was starting this blog, I kept track of everything in one simple document.
Your Blog’s Goals.
It’s time to think big and write down what you want to accomplish with your blog in the short and long term. These should be SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Here are a few examples from my document when I started planning my blog:
- Write and publish my first five blog posts of 2,000+ words by January 20
- Complete my About Me page by January 25
- Publish five guest posts by February 1
- Get 1,000 blog site visitors/month by February 15
- Get 250 people in my email list by February 15
- Obtain 100 backlinks by March 1
As you can see, these are all short term attainable goals with clear due dates.
Your Blog’s Profile.
You need a place to keep track of your random ideas and unique selling points to hone in on your messaging over time.
Sections here may include:
- Your unique value proposition – AKA your one in a million idea
- Your blog’s headline and sub-headline
- What is the problem you solve?
- Your blog’s “elevator pitch” – in 1-2 sentences, how would you easily explain your blog to a stranger?
- Your ideal customer personas
- What are the main categories for your blog?
- Future content ideas with target keywords and search volume
The key is to make this a living document and update however you see fit.
To plan a blog, set some simple goals, and write things down to better hone in on your blog’s message, and understand who your audience is. Remember, when learning how to start a blog, you need to plan your niche and goals like a business from day one.
Let’s move onto the next step in setting up your website.
3. Pick a Domain Name.
In the past, I took way too much time on this step. I scoured GoDaddy for weeks trying to find the perfect catchy, niche-specific, short, memorable dot com domain.
While this step is important, it’s probably not as important as you think.
In the past, it was possible to get exact-match keyword domain names like cuttingboards.com to help your search rankings. Today, it’s much more difficult.
While common advice is to “niche down” and choose an ultra-specific name, I recommend you choose a website name that’s broad enough to allow you to pivot if necessary.
If your focus is too narrow and suddenly you lose passion for your niche or run out of topic ideas, you’re stuck with your new domain. However, if you broaden your focus a little bit, you can expand your content and have enough fluidity to maintain consistency, avoid quitting, and better promote your website for the long haul.
In the past, I tried starting online businesses and chose ultra-specific names. When I didn’t see immediate success, I got discouraged and thought, “Well, maybe this niche isn’t for me. I should quit and try something else.”
Here’s what you could do instead: choose a broader name and worry about being specific in your posts and pages.
Here are some other things you need to consider before picking a name for your website.
1. The Price of the Domain.
You have to buy your blog’s domain name from a domain registrar company. It should cost you roughly $10/year. If you get started with Bluehost web hosting, you get a free domain name for the first year.
2. Your Personal Name as a Domain Name?
Many people prefer to use their names for their blogs (like yours truly here). Personal domains are more flexible than the ones based on any particular niche. Many times, bloggers need to change the name of their blog according to the changing scenario of their blogging niche.
However, if your name is your domain, then there is no need to change it when you want to add more verticals to your niche.
3. Domain Extensions.
Domains come with different extensions – .com, .us, .guru, .sport, .com, etc.
.us stands for the United States, .guru is used for coaching blogs, and .sport is used for sports blogs.
However, .com is the top-level domain that’s more inclusive and mostly favored by search engines.
Here’s how internet users perceive some of the top-level domains in terms of trustworthiness, on a scale of 1 – 5:
Other Things to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name:
- Your name should not be too difficult and complex to type. It should also be memorable and aligned with your brand. That’s why a dot com extensions are an excellent option.
- Don’t confuse people with difficult spelling, so keep the name easy to spell and pronounce.
- Avoid using numbers and hyphens in your domain as it can confuse people.
- Try to incorporate a keyword that best represents your blog, if possible. It’s not as important to have a keyword in your blog name for SEO, but it might help people identify your blog’s niche right away.
Check out the tools mentioned in this article to generate your own domain – 27 Best Name Generators.
If your preferred name isn’t available, most of the tools mentioned in the article above will provide alternate suggestions.
4. Choose a Blog Hosting Company and Register Your Domain.
Every website needs a web host to store their site on a server so that people can access it online. Without a hosting account, your blog won’t be visible on the internet.
The performance of your blog relies heavily on your provider, so you should choose the best web hosting you can. A good hosting platform keeps your site up and running without interruption, provides security, and integrates with WordPress.
You should choose a host that is reliable and comes at an affordable price.
At this stage, your best option is a simple shared hosting plan. I recommend Bluehost as the easiest option when learning how to start a blog.
Plus, it has some great features:
- 99% server uptime
- High-end security measures
- High-speed servers
- An easy-to-use dashboard that comes in handy for beginners
- Numerous hosting options to choose from
- 24/7 customer support
- Free SSL certificate
- Easy cPanel dashboard
- 1-click WordPress Installation
- Recommended by WordPress as the host of choice
- Low introductory pricing
- Money-back guarantee
- Only costs $2.95/month (via my links on this page)
Next, we’ll register your domain and choose a web hosting company to launch your blog.
There are a number of different web hosting options available. Below is a short list of hosts I’ve tried over the years and can recommend for beginner bloggers:
Follow this step-by-step guide to register your own domain name along with your web hosting plan:
Step #1: Visit bluehost.com.
Click on the “Get Started” CTA button on the homepage.
Step #2: Choose Your Web Hosting Plan.
On the next page, you will see four shared hosting plans.
These plans include Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.
While all these shared hosting plans are perfect for a new blog, I would personally recommend going for the Basic Plan.
For a step up, the Choice Plus Plan offers the Domain Privacy, which will help you protect your information and guard all your confidential details, including full name, email address, residential address, and phone number.
Step #3: Enter Your Domain Name.
So, you have already selected your name (as specified in the second step).
Now, after you choose your hosting plan, you will be directed to a new page where you will be asked to enter your custom name.
If you’ve already selected your name, then you can add the information here. And if you need a new one, you get your domain name for free for the first year.
If you need more time to come up with a website name, you can always sign-up and choose your domain later.
Next, you’re prompted to create your account, which is the final step of the process.
Step #4: Enter Your Details.
Here are the “Account Information” details you need to enter to create your account.
Make sure to enter the correct details, including your first and last name, business name if applicable, country, address, etc.
Upon scrolling down, you’ll see the “Package Information” section.
It includes selecting how long do you want to opt for the plan and how much advance you are willing to pay.
It allows you to pay 12, 24, 36, or 60 months upfront and gives you better pricing for longer terms. If you are sure that you will be running your blog for a long time, then I’d say go with the “Prime 36 Month Price” to get the lowest possible monthly price.
You can also get a low upfront payment by paying annually instead of monthly.
In the screenshot above, there’s another section called “Package Extras.”
You can uncheck Codeguard Basic and SiteLock Security. These are unnecessary and can be replicated with other free WordPress plugins.
Finally, pick your payment option. You can choose to make the payment via credit card or PayPal.
That’s all it takes to sign up!
Step #5: You have successfully registered your hosting plan.
Congratulations – you’ve set up your hosting for the first time.
You’re now signed up with Bluehost, which means you’ve completed a vital first step in learning how to start a blog.
Step #6: Create your account and set your password.
You’re almost done. After receiving an email to confirm your account, enter your domain name and create a password for your account.
Step #7: Log in to your account.
Use the password you just set to log in to your account. You can also sign in with Google if you prefer.
And you’re all set! Now that the web hosting setup is out of the way, it’s time to move on to installing WordPress and getting into your blogging dashboard.
5. Install WordPress as Your Blogging Content Management System (CMS)
After getting through the first phase of planning your blog and choosing web hosting, the next step is to choose WordPress as your blogging platform.
Your blog platform, also known as a Content Management System (CMS), is where you will be writing, customizing, and publishing your blog posts. Naturally, you are going to need something user-friendly, powerful, and affordable.
There are paid and free blogging platforms available to choose from.
Have a look at some of the top blogging platforms and their usage:
Most people run their blogs on WordPress, which is apparent from the above stats.
WordPress also offers multiple free plugins, themes, and various ways to modify your blog.
You don’t need to have any technical coding knowledge to get started.
With most hosts, you simply use the 1-Click WordPress Installation, and you’re in your WordPress dashboard.
However, before you get started, you should know the difference between the .com and .org versions of WordPress.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – Which one should you choose?
Here are some of the common differences between the two:
If your eventual goal is to make money through your blog, then think no further before selecting the self-hosted WordPress.org.
A blog is an extension of your personal brand and needs to be something that you own outright. You shouldn’t rely on a subdomain or blog site like Tumblr to host your blog.
The .com version has minimal options and doesn’t allow you to tweak settings or pick a custom domain name. (Eg: yoursite.wordpress.com). If you do want to use a custom name, you would have to pay extra.
It also comes with limited monetization and analytics options. On top of that, with the .com option, you can’t upload plugins and themes from outside of WordPress.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, gives you complete freedom to download tools and themes from different platforms, customize your blog design, monetize your blogging efforts, and more.
Naturally, it’s suggested to use WordPress.org when it comes to starting a blog set up for long term success.
With Bluehost, you can install WordPress and run your own blog in a matter of minutes.
Let’s get started.
Install WordPress with the One-Click Installation Process.
Bluehost automatically one-click installs WordPress right from your hosting dashboard.
After you’re done setting up your account password, you’re prompted to pick a theme.
There are plenty of attractive free WordPress themes to choose from, including free blog themes.
However, if you want to pick your theme later, you can skip this step for now by clicking on the “Skip This Step” option at the end of the page.
From here, you’re directed to a new page where you need to click on the “Start Building” option.
Next, select what type of site you plan to create, and WordPress will help you in the process with prompts. You can also just click “I don’t need help” to go right to your dashboard.
Finally, enter your “Site Title” and your “Site Description.”
From here, you are directed to a page to decide the layout of your blog. You can either create a custom home page with the page editor or simply host your recent blog posts on your homepage.
From here, spend some time making yourself familiar with the functionalities of your new WordPress blog. Make sure to test out all the features and play around with different themes to pick the one that best suits you.
This brings us to our next step – choosing a theme.
6. Pick Your Blog’s Theme.
Now that you have a WordPress account, you need to choose your WordPress theme.
A WordPress theme is a collection of templates, files, and stylesheets that dictate the appearance and design of your WordPress-powered website.
Right now, your blog might look something like this:
This is the default WordPress theme, and on the left side is your appearance customization menu that helps you customize your theme.
While this base theme isn’t the best, it can be used to get familiar with the appearance editor.
In the theme appearance editor, you can edit:
- Site identity – your business name, logo and other navigation items.
- Colors – you can choose the colors for fonts, buttons, blocks, and other items.
- Menus – you can edit the placement of your menu navigation and which pages to include.
- Additional CSS – this is a place where you can place custom CSS instead of messing with your theme editor files.
There are some blog design principles to keep in mind.
For example, fonts should be between 14 and 17 points, legible, and easy to read. You should also have menu navigation that looks good on mobile and desktop.
Websites with a poorly organized layout are difficult to navigate and impair your blog’s user experience.
Remember, you don’t necessarily have to spend money to install a paid theme if you find a free one you like. However, make sure it looks nice, loads quickly, and readers can access information easily.
Finally, don’t overdo the design – a blog should be highly-functional and uncomplicated.
Install A New Theme For Your Blog.
Here’s how you can install a new theme for your WordPress blog:
First, log in to your WordPress account (admin page).
You can always access your WordPress login page by going to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.
Next, add your WordPress login credentials.
Once logged in, your WordPress dashboard looks something like this.
Here, click on the “Appearance” option from the sidebar menu.
Next, select the “Themes” option from the “Appearance” section.
To search for the theme options WordPress offers, click the “Add New” button at the top of the page.
As you can see below, there are a ton of free themes to choose from.
You can scroll down and preview as many themes as you want before picking one for your blog.
You can also filter out the themes based on three categories: “Subject,” “Features,” and “Layout.”
Here’s what the filter option looks like:
Apply the filters to narrow down your options. You can then click on a thumbnail and get an instant preview of what your final blog is going to look like.
If you like a particular theme, you can click on the “Install” button.
If you don’t want to use a stock WordPress theme, there are plenty of sites like GeneratePress, StudioPress, and CSSIgniter that offer paid themes you can buy. When you buy a theme, a zip file is sent to you via email.
To install this external theme, all that you have to do is go to “Appearance” – “Themes” and click “Add New,” upload the zip file and click install.
Congratulations, you now have a WordPress site with a new theme installed.
Let’s recap where we are so far in this how to start a blog guide.
- You’ve selected your blog’s niche based on market factors, not passions.
- You know your why statement and wrote down your blog’s goals.
- You’ve chosen your blog’s name and registered it.
- You picked your hosting plan and installed WordPress.
- You installed your theme and have your blog’s framework ready to go.
That’s a lot of progress! We’re about halfway through this guide and the following steps will cover setting up your blog for success and starting your content creation and promotion process.
Let’s continue on.
Extra Tips on Choosing the Right Theme.
- Read the descriptions of the various WordPress themes to get an idea about their features. This will help you get an idea of whether the theme will be compatible with your niche or not.
- Choose a responsive theme that works well on both desktop and mobile devices (most of them are).
- WordPress also allows users to give ratings to their themes – make sure to check out the reviews to get a feel for the quality of the theme.
- Before installing a theme, make sure to check its demo or preview to know what it’s going to look like.
You can also install a large number of WordPress themes from other popular sites, such as:
- Thrive Themes.
- Elegant Themes.
- CSS Igniter.
Free, Premium, and Custom Themes.
There are many free blog themes available on WordPress. However, sometimes these come with limited design options.
That said, you can always start your blog with a free theme and then move on to a more personalized one after your content is up. As long as it loads fast and allows you to start publishing content, there’s no reason not just to get started and worry about your perfect design later.
Premium themes mostly come in the price range of $30 to $500. If you’re looking for a custom-developed theme, you can hire a developer and expect to pay $500-5,000 for your new blog.
Now that your theme is all set let’s move onto extending the functionality of your blog with WordPress plugins.
7. Install Your WordPress Plugins.
Since WordPress is open-source, you can customize your site in an endless amount of ways.
And this starts with WordPress plugins.
These are sets of tools that integrate with your website and extend its functionality and feature set.
WordPress offers thousands of plugins with different functions, including everything from email marketing and calendar integration to opt-in forms and SEO tools. These tools make learning how to start a blog pretty easy, as they perform a lot of cool tasks without needing any coding knowledge.
However, it’s not recommended to install hundreds of these tools on your blog as they tend to slow down your site and can conflict with each other during updates.
Which plugins should you add to your blog?
I curated a list of the 15 best ones to help you enhance your new blog (and the exact ones I use):
This plugin allows you to remove certain elements of code that aren’t necessary to load on every page. For example, my ecommerce HTML and CSS files were loading on every blog post even though I only needed them on two pages. With this tool, you can easily select which pieces of code to keep and which to remove based on pages, posts, and other types of content.
2. BigCommerce for WordPress.
This is the ecommerce tool that I use to sell my digital products. I tested WooCommerce first, but it installed four extensions, slowed down my site, and had an ugly checkout experience. BigCommerce for WordPress launched in December 2018 and runs via an API – so you handle all of your content in WordPress and your backend ecommerce in BigCommerce.
I’m not a huge fan of the new Gutenberg editor and find the Classic Editor much easier to use and more error-free.
This plugin allows you to easily add a Table of Contents into any page or post. The plugin will appear underneath your pages/posts, and you can select if every H2, H3, or any other header should be automatically added to the Table of Contents.
Tables of Contents are important for a few reasons: they keep users engaged with the page (by clicking around) and help with user experience. I often have a Table of Contents at the top of my new posts going to each section, then a “Back to Top” widget in the bottom right corner so that users can easily go back to the Table of Contents.
5. Elementor Pro.
Elementor Pro is the best WordPress landing page builder, and it’s the tool I used to create my home page and a few other pages. They have a free version of Elementor, but the Pro version takes it to the next level with much better templates.
You can get started with the free version of Elementor Pro for just $49/year.
Widgets are areas on your WordPress site that aren’t directly pages or posts. For example, sidebars, footers, and homepage sections can be considered widgets. Extended Widget Options allows you to expand the functionality of your widgets to make them more useful.
For example, I use this tool to make some of my sidebar banners sticky so that they scroll down the page with the reader.
I use this plugin to convert documents into WordPress posts automatically. Since I get a lot of my initial first drafts written for me, I download them as a .docx file and insert them into my posts/pages with this plugin. The Mammoth .docx Converter will appear underneath your posts/pages, and it’s as simple as uploading your file and clicking “Insert into Editor.”
One small detail is that you’ll want to make sure your document’s images have both names and alt text before uploading into WordPress.
OptinMonster is hands down the best email opt-in plugin on the market (and 100% how you joined this list). With the ability to create exit intent, modal popups, in-content opt-ins, and more, they are the reason that my email list is growing by about 60-75 users/day.
While I use their highest tier Growth Plan, you can get started with OptinMonster for just $9/month.
This plugin allows you to create simple blocks of content by adding shortcodes to your site. I primarily use this to insert buttons quickly on my affiliate pages so that readers have very clear calls-to-action. Shortcodes Ultimate will appear in your WordPress page editor as a small button at the top (much like Bold, Paragraph Spacing, etc.), and when you click into it, you select your content block. With buttons, you can preview them in the editor and choose the size, color, style, and more.
11. ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
ShortPixel compresses all of your images so that they are smaller files and your pages load faster. I’ve tested lots of different image compression tools, and ShortPixel has been the best.
This is one of my favorite affiliate marketing tools. ThirstyAffiliates takes your random affiliate links (full of random numbers, letter strings, etc.) and cleans them up so that they look nice. For example, which one looks nicer:
One factor in search engine rankings is recency of content – especially if you’re in niches with new information coming out. This plugin allows you to easily show the date on every page/post so that search engines understand when it was last modified. For example, with WordPress, it’s easy to show a date, but it will typically show the Publish Date, not the last time you edited it.
By giving search engines an easy way to pull the Modified Date, you will see this date appear in your search results, and may see a rankings boost.
14. WP Rocket.
You can get started with WP Rocket for $49/year.
15. Yoast SEO.
Yoast doesn’t need an introduction. If you’re not using it, then you’re missing out on a lot of great free features. I use Yoast to manage my sitemap, robots.txt, page titles/meta descriptions, and other add-ons.
Now that we covered the best plugins to install for your blog let’s move onto some unique settings to pay attention to.
8. Set Up Your Blog’s SEO and Permalink Structure.
A very important ranking factor is the URLs of your blog posts and pages.
When you add a new page or post, you see the page editor and can choose the URL after dot com. Check out the link below:
This text after the .com is what a permalink looks like.
Permalinks are static hyperlinks that will lead your audience to a specific web page.
By default, your permalink is set to “yourdomainname.com/postID.”
This not only looks unattractive but isn’t the best from an SEO standpoint.
Before you start writing content for your blog, make sure to set a specific permalink structure.
From your WordPress dashboard, go to “Setting” —> “Permalinks.”
You can choose from a couple of options. Most high-ranking blogs follow the “Post name” or “Custom” structures below.
The main thing to know is that every post or page should focus on one target keyword, which should be in the area right after the dot com.
For blog posts, this permanent URL is the only thing that needs to remain unchanged. You can change a page or post’s title, meta description, content, and headings, but the URL needs to stay the same.
This is because if you get inbound links to this URL, changing it would result in a 404 error and losing that link value.
Finally, make sure to save the settings before exiting the page.
Also, make sure you set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These two tools are 100% necessary to index your blog and monitor your traffic. These can both be easily integrated with the Yoast plugin.
We’ve made a ton of progress so far in this guide.
You’ve learned all the technical set up of how to start a blog and have a functioning site inside of WordPress.
Now, it’s time to start creating content for your blog.
9. Create Pillar Content for Your Blog.
After completing the framework of your blog, it’s time to start writing your blog posts.
While you don’t have to be a professional writer to learn how to start a blog, it’s important to understand basic sentence structure and proper grammar. You also want to make sure that you know how to write for the web. For example, short paragraphs, bullet points, and images help break up long, monotonous blocks of text and keep readers engaged.
Remember, this content creation process all begins with the keyword research we did above.
How to Add Keywords into Your Blog Posts.
Each blog post should focus on one main target keyword, and here’s where it should be included:
- Put the keyword in your blog’s permanent URL.
- Include the keyword in the title of your post.
- Add your keyword to the first or second paragraph.
- Include the keyword inside of your headings.
- Add the keyword throughout your paragraph text. A good rule of thumb is to use a 1% keyword density so that your keyword is included once for every 100 words. If your blog post is really long, this may be too many times. Use your best judgment and don’t keyword stuff.
- Add it to your meta description (optional).
You’ll see in my example below, the target keyword is in the title, URL, and first paragraph.
Once you have a list of the top 5-10 keywords (topics) you want to cover, it’s time to start writing.
Remember, in addition to text, blog posts that have audio, video, photos, infographics, and other types of visual content perform the best and keep readers engaged.
It’s also essential to write content that answers a reader’s search intent and compels them to take action on your blog.
Writing Blog Posts that Match Search Intent.
When planning your content strategy, think about what your reader actually wants when they are performing an online search for your target keyword.
For example, let’s say your target keyword is “How to Get Rid of Pimples.”
When you search for this term, you’ll see that a lot of blog posts feature titles including extra terms like Fast, Overnight, Quickly, and Home Remedies.
This shows that most people that want to get rid of pimples want them gone as quickly and discreetly as possible. And Google’s PageRank is pushing these articles to the top.
What does this mean for your content strategy?
You should get right to the point and offer a list of the best ways to get rid of pimples fast.
Don’t write a long post about “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Pimples.” And don’t start your post with the heading “What Are Pimples?” like many SEOs did in the past.
Instead, match search intent and provide the solution your readers are actually looking for by understanding the meaning behind their search.
This is accomplished by looking at which extra terms are included in currently ranking content’s title tags.
Now that we’ve covered where to include your keywords and how to match search intent, let’s go over some extra tips before you start writing.
Extra Tips On Content Writing.
- Your blog posts should always provide value to your readers. Write with a clear beginning, middle, and end outline structure. Even the most mundane of topics can be made interesting if you understand story arcs and hero’s journeys.
- Present your blog content attractively and make it easily accessible to the readers. Make sure both textual and visual content in the blog are high-quality.
- Never make your content too commercially focused as it irritates readers. Blogs loaded with too many ads looks unattractive to most people.
- Format your headings correctly with H2 and H3 tags, and use bulleted lists and images to break up long lines of text. No paragraph should be longer than 3-4 sentences.
- Make your blog post conversational to build a connection with your audience.
- Use 14-17 point fonts and make sure there is enough white space to keep your blog posts easy on the eyes.
- Add bullet points to help readers skim down the blog without missing anything critical.
- Double-check for typos and grammatical errors. I personally love using Grammarly for this.
When you’re learning how to start a blog, there are a ton of different content strategies, but this guide just covered the basics.
It’s Time to Write Your First Blog Post.
Here’s how to write your first blog post inside of WordPress:
Click on “Posts” in the left sidebar from your WordPress dashboard.
Now, select the “Add New” button:
Next, you will head to the editor, where you can start writing your first blog post.
While crafting your blog post, make sure to keep the above tips in mind.
The WordPress Editor works a lot like Microsoft Word and lets you do the following:
- Align text left, center, and right.
- Make text bold or italic.
- Highlight text and add links to them. You should also go to your link settings and make any external links open in a new tab – that will keep readers on your blog.
- Add and align images. On most blogs, images should be JPEGs no longer than 800 pixels wide. Any wider and your image file size will slow down your loading times.
- Add categories and tags to posts.
- When you click Save Draft, your blog post will be saved, but not yet published.
- When you click Publish, your blog post will officially be published and appear on your blog archive page.
Make sure to download and install the Yoast plugin too. This allows you to punch in your target keyword and get recommendations on what to do for SEO.
In Yoast, there are four important sections to add:
- Meta Description
- Focus Keyword
Yoast helps you access real-time feedback on how your blog post might perform in terms of organic traffic for a particular keyword.
Try to achieve as many green signals as possible. Once you hit 80% green light, it means you’re good to go, and your blog is likely to perform better when it comes to SEO.
You can even “Preview” your blog post before publishing it.
If you’re happy with the way your blog post turned out, go ahead and click the Publish button to officially publish it.
Make sure to go to your blog post URL and double-check to make sure the formatting and content look great. Also, make sure that there are no typos or grammatical errors.
Once you’re finished with your first blog post, you can go to Google Search Console, enter the new URL, and submit it so that it can be indexed.
Congrats, you just published your first blog post!
Next, we’re going to discuss the other important pages that blogs should have, including a Home Page, About Page, and Contact Page.
Create Your Pre-Launch Pages.
Pre-launch content includes the content for static pages of your blog, such as the Home Page, About Us, Contact, and more. The nice thing is that the WordPress Page Editor looks and acts almost exactly the same as the Post Editor.
The only major difference is that pages don’t have blog post categories and tags.
Before launching a blog, you should have a few pages in your blog’s top menu navigation so that readers quickly understand what your blog is about and where to find important information.
1. Home Page.
We all know what a home page is – it’s the main URL of your website.
This page shouldn’t include every little detail about your site – its purpose is to sell your unique value proposition in two seconds or less.
If a reader hits your home page and doesn’t quickly understand what your site is about, they may bounce and never return.
A WordPress home page can be edited with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) page builder like the free Elementor plugin. This tool allows you to drag-and-drop content blocks, including text, images, videos, color blocks, and more.
If you’re just learning how to start a blog, keep in mind that a good home page should contain:
- A slider or hero image with a headline and subheadline.
- A small section to tell readers more about what your blog is about.
- The main call-to-action button taking readers to an important page, post, or email opt-in form.
- Internal links pointing to your important content to make it easy for readers to navigate around your site.
There aren’t any rules for home pages, so get acclimated with your landing page builder plugin and have fun with it.
2. About Page.
The About Page of your blog should cover everything about you – who you are, what you stand for, and what your blog is about.
This section will help you connect with your readers on a deeper level, so don’t hold back.
Make sure to cover the following in your “About” Page:
- Who you are.
- What made you decide to start your blog.
- Your expertise or background to build trust with your readers.
- The pain point you’re solving and how you’ve dealt with the same struggles as your audience.
- Your success story.
- A call-to-action.
When someone visits your site and really likes your content, they are likely to head to your About Page to know more about you.
To keep readers engaged, I crafted my About page like a story.
I start with how I battled self-doubt to scaling my blog and turning it into a profitable business.
People don’t necessarily want to read about all of your recent professional accomplishments.
This isn’t the time to brag about yourself, but to allow people to understand who you truly are.
And make sure to research other About Pages from blogs in your niche to get ideas and inspiration. While this is often an overlooked page and doesn’t generate direct revenue, it builds credibility and helps you connect with your audience.
Next, let’s move onto the Contact Page.
2. The Contact Page.
This page is all about sharing contact details with your blog visitors so they can reach you. You can share an email address, phone number, social media links, and a contact form on this page. Only include what you’re comfortable providing to the general public.
3. Widgets – Sidebars, Footers, and Blocks.
These aren’t pages. However, your sidebar is a column that can appear on the right or the left side of your blog posts and pages. The sidebar is used to show blog categories, recent posts, ads, opt-in forms, and anything you want all of your readers to see.
This is considered a WordPress widget – and you can find these in your dashboard under Appearance – Widgets. The way I describe widgets is any place on your website that isn’t directly within page or post content.
So, for example, your footer is a widget. Your blog sidebar is a widget. Even sections on your home page may be widgets. These are easy to edit and similar to the main page and post editors, just in a different location in your WordPress dashboard.
We’ve covered a tremendous amount in this guide so far.
You’ve grasped a lot of concepts on how to start a blog and your posts and pages are published and ready to go. Congrats!
Now that we have a good understanding of these principles, it’s time to create a long term content plan.
10. Create a Long Term Content Strategy.
Once you’ve published your first post, your work isn’t done. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Most blog posts take months to rank on Google and perform well only after making consistent updates.
Here is the strategy I use to scale my content creation, get my posts to rank over time, and start generating revenue:
- I perform keyword research for the high-volume keyword I wanted to rank for.
- Next, I create an outline of the post and send it to my content writer. I also make sure to tell my writer how long the post should be based on competitor research.
- Once my article’s first draft is complete, I edit and publish it right away. Don’t hesitate here – it takes time to get traffic to new posts anyway.
- After performing some link building efforts I outline in this guide below and the article begins to rank on the first 3-5 pages of search results, I update the content by increasing its length and improving its quality. This is done by adding semantic keywords related to my main keyword.
- Once the article ranks in the top 2-3 pages of search results, I join any applicable affiliate programs and add my affiliate links.
- Next, to maintain my organic rankings, I update the content regularly and continue to generate inbound backlinks.
- Finally, once the article gets to the first page and starts generating affiliate revenue for brands, I reached out to individual Affiliate Managers to see if I can get a commission increase.
This is a great way to plan your long term content strategy and publish more blog posts in less time.
With this strategy, you’ll start to see your blog posts rank higher, and generate more traffic and revenue.
But simply writing great content isn’t enough.
It’s imperative to have both a strong content strategy, as well as a great outreach strategy to build relationships.
Here are some other things to think about when formulating your long-term content strategy:
1. Remember to Solve Your Audience’s Problems and Provide Value.
Your blog must solve your audience’s pain point. Whether it’s by sending helpful guides to an email list or writing affiliate product reviews, you need to tap into the problems your audiences face – and the keywords they search for.
It bears repeating – you have to understand your audience and then create content to solve their problems.
For example, if your audience primarily consists of podcasters, you should provide content around the best podcast hosting, equipment, and sound recording techniques to be successful.
2. Optimize Your Content.
Ranking in organic search takes time, so don’t be scared to hit the publish button and come back to edit your post later.
I typically publish an article and submit it to Google Search Console.
Next, I’ll go back a week later and add semantic keywords with a tool like MarketMuse or ClearScope. These tools help you understand the keywords that search engine crawlers expect to see on a page.
For example, if your article is titled The 15 Best Beaches in Southern California, search engines expect to scan the page and see contextually relevant keywords like ocean, sand, hotel, surfing, etc.
While these aren’t the target keywords people are searching for, they are semantically related to your main topic and help you rank.
It’s also a great idea to add long-tail keywords.
Use a tool like the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find related keywords that are close variations of your target keyword. These should be used in your headings.
For example, if your main keyword is email marketing, other H2 headings that could work in the article might be:
- What Are the Benefits of Email Marketing?
- Email Marketing Tips.
- How to Use Email Marketing Software.
By targeting one main keyword and close variations, you begin to rank for hundreds, if not thousands of close variations.
No one searches the exact same thing – so you should understand which variations have the highest monthly search volume.
Additionally, these long-tail keywords don’t pose as much competition as their shorter counterparts.
To find appropriate long-tail keywords for free, you can use the Google Keyword Planner.
Let’s assume you want to write a blog on content marketing. Now to find long-tail keywords related to your topic, go to the Keyword Planner.
Type in “content marketing,” and then you’ll get your keyword ideas.
Make sure to look for the keywords that are not only most in-demand but also relevant to your topic and have good volume.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to use Google Keyword Planner to help you get maximum traffic.
3. Tips to Schedule Your Blog Posts.
If you’re planning a long term content calendar, maintaining a consistent schedule is important. You need to keep up with a posting frequency and stick to it.
For example, if you’re planning to post one new article per week, make sure you check your content calendar and follow through.
You should create a roadmap for the entire week or even a few months, depending on your writing frequency. Working backward from there can help you decide which article you need to publish and when. It also helps you avoid missing your deadlines.
You can keep track of this inside of a simple spreadsheet with columns for your future posts, including:
- Target keyword.
- Blog post title.
- Monthly search volume.
- Word count.
4. Understand the Competitor Landscape.
With so many blogs out there, any field you choose will be full of competitors. But you can turn that to your advantage.
For example, let’s suppose you run a travel blog. Naturally, the audience of some other travel blog in your vertical is your potential audience as well.
So, you can analyze the type of content your competitors are sharing and the ways they are using to increase their outreach. After analyzing their entire strategy, you can also adopt some of the things you find useful.
Many sites let you see the type of posts your competitors are sharing – and their competitive metrics.
A great example is SimilarWeb.
SimilarWeb lets you search for and understand the type of content the audience wants the most and their competitors publish.
But it doesn’t mean that you emulate your competitors blindly.
Instead, spend time answering the following questions:
- What are the gaps that your competitors failed to address?
- How long is their content, and can you make it longer?
- How many inbound links go to the article?
- Do they have interactive media in their posts like videos or infographics?
- What is their Domain Rating?
- Is their post formatted properly?
With these questions answered, you begin to understand what it will take to outrank the competition.
We’ve seen how to identify the topics that interest your audience. But what about the gaps? What about the issues that the audience wants to read about, but there’s no content?
You could log in to a Q&A website like Reddit or Quora, where you can see the exact questions that people are asking.
Better yet, use a tool like Ahrefs to view competitor traffic data. You can see which keywords you rank for, which ones competitors rank for (and you don’t), and where there is overlap.
This gap analysis gives you good keywords to target for future posts.
5. Analyzing Your Content’s Traffic Metrics.
You absolutely need to use analytics tools to analyze your content’s performance.
Tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs do this well. Since Google Analytics should already be installed on your blog, you can go to your GA dashboard to view metrics like site visitors, average time on page, total page views, and tons of other interesting stats. You can view traffic to individual blog posts over any time period and compare it to previous periods to see if your traffic is increasing or decreasing.
Additionally, Ahrefs is the best SEO tool to track your blog post’s rankings and inbound links. You can view the individual keywords you’re ranking for and what position you’re in, which sites are linking to you, and a lot more.
Overall, creating the right content strategy isn’t an easy task.
It includes research, writing, self-promotion, building relationships, and analyzing data.
But when you get it right, and your traffic starts pouring in, it’s well worth it.
11. Perform Ongoing Guest Post Outreach And Link Building.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to promote your blog. Blogs have been saying that guest posting is dead for the last seven years, but it shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s a great way to build authority in your niche, meet other bloggers, founders, and content teams, get backlinks and create lasting relationships.
And link building is another fantastic way to build Domain Authority (DA) and increase your rankings.
This is a hustle and a grind that includes a ton of email outreach.
Here are some of the necessary steps to perform ongoing guest post outreach and link building:
1. Finding Guest Posting Opportunities.
Don’t think about the benefits you’ll get first – it’s important to stress that you have to provide value to others.
As a successful blogger, I get hundreds of outreach emails every week asking to guest post on my blog.
The ones that stand out to me are the ones from sites that are providing value to me in return – whether it be a backlink from a separate guest post, a social share, or podcast interview, blogging is a 1:1 exchange.
Your outreach emails need to highlight how you can provide value to the other site.
To get started, you first need to research which sites to reach out to, and who to reach out to.
You can leverage the following sites and networks to connect with bloggers in your niche and find appropriate resources for guest post outreach and link-building:
Make sure to use a tool like Moz Link Explorer to check the backlink profile and Domain Authority of the websites first. The higher the DA, the higher the backlink value.
You can also search for something like “high Domain Authority [niche] sites accepting guest posts.” That will provide a bunch of list articles with good ideas for outreach.
Some websites even have a separate guest posting outreach page containing the guidelines as well as the email address to reach them.
Here’s an example:
Most websites will eventually get back to you, so wait a few days before you start pursuing them again.
Once you have a list of sites, you can look them up on LinkedIn or on their contact page. Then use a tool like Hunter.io to obtain their email addresses.
2. Planning Your Guest Post Content.
What should be the topic of your guest posts? Naturally, it should be relevant to your niche and something similar to what you post on your blog. It should also not yet exist on the other site’s blog and have a decent search volume.
Make sure to check out any editorial guidelines for the guest posting site and follow them closely.
Consider essential things like:
- What level of target audience do they have (beginner or advanced)?
- The type of target audience. For example, is the audience B2B or B2C?
- How long should the article be?
- What’s the type of content they’re looking for? Do they usually post listicles, tutorials, or how-to guides?
Just like with your own blog posts, make sure to offer value and try to pique the interest of the readers. Most blogs that accept guest posts can also provide content guidelines so that you know the exact format and length required.
3. Pitching Your Guest Post Idea.
If a site’s interested in a guest post from you, you’ll typically have to pitch them a few blog post ideas. Again, these should be based on competitive metrics and keyword research.
This process can be time-consuming, but high-quality sites know the difference between a good pitch and a bad one.
Look for topics that their audience will enjoy and don’t yet exist on their site yet. Bonus points if you do research and find topics with high search volume and that their competitors rank for.
4. Writing the Guest Post.
Once your topic is approved and you receive the green light to start writing, keep these things in mind:
- Use Google Docs and format your posts properly.
- Follow the editorial guidelines closely.
- Use target keywords for SEO.
- Avoid grammatical mistakes.
- Add links to your website in the content and guest author bio.
- Include images if necessary.
- Submit the post in a timely manner – most blogs expect a completed post within 2-3 weeks.
Remember, in your overall content strategy, keyword-focused, SEO-optimized blog posts aren’t enough. You also need high-quality links to your content from reputable sites in the form of guest posts.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that may provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.