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The Definitive Guide to Starting, Growing and Monetizing a Blog

Note: Like every smart blogger, I use affiliate marketing, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information.

So, you want to become a successful blogger?

It all feels overwhelming, doesn’t it?

I know the feeling all too well….

When I first started my own blog, I was like 16 years old, and I was completely lost. There are so many things that go into creating a successful blog… it made me go insane due to information overload! Just completely overwhelmed…

You might be feeling the same way.

But, don’t worry!

Let me make 1 simple promise:

This guide will be a long one, but when you have been through this entire article and implemented the steps, you WILL have your own blog set up for success!

After going through this guide you will be ready to share your passion with the world. You will also know exactly how to create content for your blog that truly helps your readers. You will know how to get the word out and you will know how to make money blogging.

This is the only beginner’s guide to blogging you will ever need!

It’s as simple as that.

The only thing I ask of you is to put aside your fears and doubt for a couple of moments. When you do so, I will take you by the hand and walk you through every single step you need to take to build a successful blog.

All so that you can earn a living by talking about your passion!

But that’s not all:

Building a successful blog is so much more than getting a domain and installing WordPress. So in this guide I will also cover how to find your audience, how to create content, how to get found in Google, and how to make money blogging!

In short, literally everything you need to know to jumpstart your blog!

Important: I know some people (like myself) hate reading. So, click here and enter your first name and email address to get my free 5-Day Video Course, The Blogger’s Jumpstart. In just 5 days I will show you everything you need to build a successful blog from scratch! Sign up here..

Prefer to read anyway? Let’s dive right in, then!

Table of Contents

Why Do You Want to Start a Blog?

This step is critical, yet it seems almost nobody talks about it.

Blogging is hard work! If people tell you it’s easy to be successful, run!

Let’s talk about your why.

You Start with Why
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Unless you clearly know why you want to build a successful blog, you’re almost certainly going to give up before you see any success. There will be setbacks and moments where you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.

Unless you know why you’re blogging, you’re going to quit…

I don’t want that to happen to you!

In those moments where you’re feeling down and out about the process, it is your dreams and your reasons for blogging that will pull you through.

So just think about your reason(s) for a moment:

Do you want to help people achieve a certain goal?
Do you want to spread awareness of something?
Do you want your blog to provide you with income?
Do you just want to write as a hobby?
Do you find it therapeutic to get your thoughts on (digital) paper?

Is there some other reason why you want to start a blog?

There aren’t any right or wrong answers, just yours.

After answering this question, I recommend writing a short mission statement for your blog.

My personal example:

I want to help inspired men and women turn their passion into a thriving blog so that they can make money by talking about the things they love. It is my goal to make a massive impact to the lives of thousands of creative minds across the world.

What’s yours?

Once you have defined this, I recommend writing it down on paper and hang that piece of paper somewhere you will see it every day. This will serve as a reminder for yourself of why you want to succeed!

Note:

My example above is about other people, but your reasons can be about yourself too. It is a perfectly valid reason to want to earn some money on the side, perhaps to send your kids to college in a few years.

Finding Your Blog’s Niche

Before you get started with blogging, you should know your niche.

A niche is the topic you will be blogging about.

When you are thinking about your niche, you should know the difference between a market and a niche. A market is a broad topic, while a niche is a much more focused subsection of a market.

For example:

Fashion is a market, women’s night clothing could be a niche.

Marketing could be niched down to social media marketing

Health is a huge topic, workout routines for men is a niche.

See the difference?

The 3 Schools of Thought

When it comes to niches, there are 3 schools of thoughts:

  • Focus on a single niche.
  • Target multiple related niches
  • Blog about anything and everything you want.

Each of them has its pros and cons.

Option 1: Focus on a Single Niche

The focus here is rather narrow.

Let’s say you blog about vegan recipes.

Somebody who’s vegan and finds your blog will look at it and is likely to stick around because the blog speaks to them. It’s so specific that all the content is relevant to that reader, so they feel right at home.

The benefit is that it will be easier to build an audience.

Because it is so specific, the right people will want to follow your blog. That same person I mentioned above would subscribe to the vegan blog, but if it was all sorts of recipes, they wouldn’t.

The downside?

If you focus on a specific niche, there will be fewer topics you can cover. You might run out of ideas at some point. It might not be as fun for you either, you have to limit yourself to specific topics.

Option 2: Multiple Related Niches

My blog falls into this category.

I write about multiple topics that go hand in hand.

Some topics I write about are social media marketing, YouTube, writing skills, SEO, and more. I could have picked 1 of these and run a blog about that. There are successful blogs in each category above.

However, multiple niches work.

The reason they work so well is because of the common goal they serve:

If you want to turn your passion into an income stream by becoming a blogger, then you need to have knowledge of each of those topics. They’re all topics you need to learn about (and many will be covered here).

More examples:

Perhaps you want to blog about makeup, but find it too narrow.

You could combine it with fashion for women as it caters to the same person who wants to look beautiful. You could also combine it with personal development and help those people feel more beautiful and confident.

Here’s the golden rule:

If your ideal reader, your avatar (we’ll get into that in the next section) would be interested in all of the niches you write about, it will work. If not, you might want to reconsider.

For example:

Gardening and home improvement could work well together. The reason is that the target audience is interested in improving their living situation.

Gardening and drones would not appeal to the same audience, there is no connection here.

The pros and cons:

It’s mostly pros here. Firstly you give yourself more space and freedom to write about multiple topics. Your readers will still feel like they’re in the right place and thus they will be more likely to stick around.

Option 3: Variety Blog

Some people I talk to just have so many things they would like to write about. From fashion to gaming and from personal development to gardening. The question they usually ask is this:

“Is it possible to start a blog on all topics?

Short answer: Yes.

But, it will be way harder to build an audience this way.

If one day you blog about gardening and the next day you do actually blog about those drones, someone will see your blog and get confused. There is no central topic to it, and most of the time it’s too unrelated for them to follow the blog.

It’s not impossible to be successful this way, but it’s an uphill battle.

One thing I will tell you about this type of blog is that your success depends more on you and your writing style than with the other categories. If you’re going down this road, I would suggest using video to make your personality the star.

Choosing the Right Niche for You

Here’s my number one rule for picking a niche:

You NEED to have a passion for the niche(s) you choose!

The reason for this is similar to the reason you need to know your why:

As a blogger, you will be creating a lot of content around the topic you decide to focus on. You will be writing articles and possibly doing videos about these topics for months and years to come.

If you don’t love it, you will burn yourself out!

Please, do not fall into the trap of choosing a niche because you think there is a lot of money to be made there. When you do it just for the money, you have already lost! Unless you’re extremely disciplined, you will quit way before seeing massive success.

As for the 3 schools of thought:

My personal recommendation would be to go with number 2. This allows a lot of flexibility while also focusing on a specific target audience.

And let’s talk about that target audience now.

Finding Your Avatar

And no, not those blue people from the movie.

When you hear me talk about an avatar, I’m referring to a fictional person that represents your perfect reader. The person that will fall in love with your every word and whose life you can greatly impact for the better.

Why should you create your avatar?

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal reader, and you know their struggles as well as their goals, you know exactly what content to create. It’s as simple as asking yourself 1 question:

What would “avatar name” want?

I’ll walk you through the steps to figuring out who your avatar is. From demographics, to goals, problems, pain points, emotions, and more, all of which are crucial! I’ve also created a worksheet to help with this process, you can download them here.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of work before you have even started your blog.

However, trust me when I say that this will put you on the faster track to success. The better you understand your target audience, the better you will be at creating the right content. While most people blindly create content without really knowing who they write for.

This is your “unfair” advantage.

Understanding Your Avatar

Let’s start with the information you will need to know about your ideal reader:

  • Demographics (age, gender, family, occupation, etc.)
  • Biggest dreams
  • Current goals
  • Reasons for wanting to achieve these goals
  • Problems and obstacles
  • Values and virtues
  • Fears
  • How they will feel when they accomplish their goals

So, why do you need all this information?

Simple:

When you know what your audience wants and you know the obstacles in their way, creating content is easy. You know exactly what to write, because you focus on solving their problems and getting them closer to their goals.

Do you see why we’re going through this before you even create your blog?

Another thing about the list above is that you can speak to people on an emotional level. When you talk about their fears and their reasons why, they feel like you understand them. You’re really there to help, which makes them stick around and follow you.

How to Research Your Audience

So, how do you actually figure all these things out?

There are 3 scenarios:

  • You ARE your avatar
  • You can interview people who could be your avatar
  • Doing research online

Let’s start with the simplest one.

Method 1: You Are Your Avatar

For example:

Let’s say you’re a mother a 2, and you want to write a blog about motherhood and raising children. In that case you already know your ideal readers, because you have been there yourself.

Think about things you wish you knew earlier.
Think about how you feel in certain situations.
Think about the problems you ran into over the years.
Think about what you want to achieve for your children.

I’m sure you see the point.

You have already been in the position your readers are in. So you know like no other what they are going through, how they think, what they want to achieve and the problems they can encounter.

Method 2: Interview People

This is the second-best way.

The third method will give you a good idea of your avatar, but it is often more beneficial to talk to people 1 on 1. The reason is that you can find out about their situation on a way deeper level.

For example:

You want to start a blog about helping people find a job out of college, preparing them for interviews and things like that. However, it has been 30 years since you left college and much has changed since.

So what do you do?

You think for a second and think of your coworker who has been talking about how his daughter was having trouble finding a job. You could tell your coworker what you want to do and ask if you can talk to her to ask her some questions.

Do that with 5-15 people who you think would be a good fit and you’ll have a good idea of their situation.

So, where do you find people to interview?

You might know people who would be a great fit, but when you don’t, you could search in local communities or online. Find relevant communities and just ask. Many people won’t, but some people might be willing to help you out.

2 quick tips if you go this route:

Offer something in return. In our example, while you ask questions about the job search, you can give them some advice or check their resume for them. And if all else fails, you can always offer to pay people to take the interview.

Method 3: Do Research Online

We live in a great time for bloggers!

No matter what topic you want to write about, your ideal readers have already started to congregate in various online communities.

20 years ago finding out information would be incredibly difficult and expensive. Today you could just go to Facebook or Reddit, and type in a keyword related to the topic you blog about. within secnds you’ll have groups where interested people are gathering.

That’s your first step.

Simply join a couple of these groups, that’s it. You don’t have to post anything in these groups, all you have to do is take a couple of minutes every day to read what other people are posting.

Here’s what to look for:

  • What questions do people ask?
  • What problems are people sharing?
  • What solutions do people give them?
  • What are the most popular topics?
  • Are there any blogs/resources that often get shared?

If you do that consistently for a week or 2, you will have a decent idea of what goes on in your target audience’s world. I would however recommend that you keep on doing this kind of listening on an ongoing basis.

And that’s it!

Don’t forget to write down all of your findings so that you can refer to them later. You can create your own document or you can use my Perfect Avatar Creation worksheets.

Choosing the Right Blogging Platform

Unfortunately, I see this way too often:

Someone wants to dive into blogging, and is so excited he/she signs up with the first blogging platform they find…

Often they will find out later that they made the wrong choice, and need to switch over to another platform. Which means they both wasted time, money and now have to go through the hassle of switching.

I don’t want you to fall victim to that.

First I will go over the various platforms that are available to you. Then I will share what platform I recommend you go with depending on your goals and situation.

WordPress.com

WordPress is one of the oldest and most popular blogging platforms.

Their main draw is that it’s a free platform.

However, this comes with its drawbacks. You will have limited options when it comes to using their platform, unless you pay them of course. One of the main restrictions is not being able/allowed to monetize your blog.

On the free version they will have their own ads though (for which you don’t get paid).

Note: Don’t ever pay for any upgrades, it’s not worth it!

The second main downside is that you do NOT own your blog, it belongs to WordPress.

This means that if they think you’re breaking their rules, they can delete your entire blog and all the hard work you’ve done. I know that’s not a risk I would ever want to take.

About the domain name:

It will look something like blogname.wordpress.com, unless you pay for their personal plan, which is way overpriced for what you get.

There are some good things though:

One of the main things that WordPress has going for it is that you have a lot of themes to choose from to customize the look of your blog. No matter the look you want, there will be a theme that fits what you have in mind.

Additionally, this platform isn’t too difficult to use and works pretty well. The servers are stable so you blog will always be up. Depending on the situation it can be a solid pick, despite some of the flaws.

Medium

Medium is a relatively new kid on the block.

One of their biggest draws is also a negative aspect of Medium.

If you have ever been to their site, you know they have a pretty slick, minimalistic design. While it looks great, the negative side is that you’re stuck with that design, you cannot change the look of your blog at all.

With Medium you only have to worry about writing.

Another great thing is the community.

Medium has a lot of curators, who curate articles for various publications on Medium. If one of your articles gets curated, it will be shown on some prominent places on the site. It also might get emailed to users interested in the article’s topic.

That’s some pretty huge exposure!

Another thing to notice:

You do not get your own domain name on Medium, your blog will be medium.com/@blogname.

WordPress.org

Do not confuse this with WordPress.com!

While the .com version refers to the free blogging platform, WordPress.org refers to the blogging software. WordPress is the very best blogging software that is available today, and on top of that, it is free.

There is a caveat of course:

While the software itself is free to use, you do need to get web hosting and a domain name to run your own blog. We call it “self-hosting”. Unlike Medium and WordPress.com, you will have a small investment to get started, but it’s more than worth it!

So, what makes WordPress.org different?

For starters when you get your own hosting you actually DO own your blog, unlike the other platforms. This means you have the highest level of flexibility, which will make it way easier to grow your blog!

Some features that stand out:

  • Instead of yourblog.wordpress.com or Medium.com, you actually get to have your own domain, which looks way more professional.
  • Plugins! I’m extremely excited to tell you more about those in a later section. They will allow you to do all sorts of things that will help your blog grow faster!
  • Even more flexibility than the WordPress.com version. If you can imagine something you want for your site, you can almost certainly do it on WordPress!
  • You actually own your website, meaning it cannot be taken away from you. The exception would be publishing or promoting illegal activities. But I’m sure you’re an awesome, law-abiding citizen. 🙂

Other Blogging Platforms

There are other blogging platforms of course, but none of them are worth getting into to be honest.

Between these 3 you will have everything you could need, for about any situation.

Which Blogging Platform is Best for YOU?

Moving on to the decision phase:

It’s going to depend on the situation, so I’m going over all 3 platforms and tell you under which circumstances I would recommend using it.

WordPress.com

There are a few cases for this one:

  • You are unsure whether blogging is really for you. Because it’s free to get started, you can use this as a “free trial” to see what blogging is like. It’s also relatively easy to switch to self-hosted WordPress later on.
  • If you’re blogging just for yourself or as a hobby. Either when it feels good to get your thoughts on paper and you don’t care who reads it, or you like to write for fun, not caring about growing an audience.
  • Documentation for friends and family, for example, when you go for a long road trip. While you don’t have your own domain name, the yourblog.wordpress.com makes it easy enough for friends and family to remember and follow your journey.

And that’s just about it.

Notice that these are all casual purposes. I would consider WordPress.com a hobby platform, not a platform for serious bloggers.

If your goal is to make money, create a blog for a business or build your professional portfolio, then this is definitely NOT the way to go!

Medium

The main thing about Medium is the built-in discoverability.

Therefore I would recommend it for 3 reasons:

  • When you care about your message getting out. Meaning you have something you really want people to know about and generate awareness. I don’t mean this in a business or professional sense though. An example would be making a case for recycling.
  • I personally use Medium as a secondary blog to syndicate my articles, because of the discoverability. I recommend you to do the same. It’s not my primary blog, just a way to drive more traffic. (Shoutout if you’re reading this on Medium!)
  • You’re a YouTuber, an influencer on Instagram, or similar. Like case number 2, your goal is to “exploit” the traffic Medium has to direct them to the channel of your choice. And even in this case, I would recommend having a self-hosted blog as well.

I like Medium, but I would not recommend it for business blogging, not as your primary blog at least.

The reason why I recommend it only under these conditions is because you’re stuck with their domain and unable to use your own domain. If that would not be the case, I believe Medium would be a viable option when you’re blogging to make money.

WordPress.org (Self Hosted WordPress)

And finally, we have what I consider the very best platform!

Here are the use cases for self-hosted WordPress:

  • You have an existing business and you want to add a blog to promote it. Note: If you have a website already you can install the software on a subsection of your site. It would be yoursite.com/blog (you don’t need a separate site to blog on).
  • If you have a passion that you want to talk about, but you also want to make some money on the side. It’s a side hustle that could replace your job’s income down the line. This is the ONLY platform I would recommend to make money blogging.
  • Even when your (primary) goal isn’t to make money, but you’re serious about blogging, this is the way to go, period! The sheer flexibility and use of plugins will greatly help you in building an audience and get found.
  • You want to build a professional portfolio. Whether you’re an artist, writer, marketer, or anything else really. If you want to have a professional portfolio, you should be on your own domain with a website that brands you.

For the vast majority of people, I would recommend getting your own self hosted blog. Unless you know it’s going to be 100% a hobby project, I’d recommend WordPress.org.

In the next steps, we’ll go over starting a blog using WordPress.

Getting a Domain Name

The first thing you need is a domain name.

Note: I would normally always recommend getting a .com domain as that is THE standard.

Your domain name is going to be the name of your blog, so you should take some time to think about the name you want. While you can technically switch later on, for branding it would be better to make the right choice right away.

So, how do you find the right blog and domain name?

Like many other things, it will depend on your goals:

If you want to brand yourself as an expert in your industry, you can consider simply going for yourname.com. You could combine it with what you will be blogging about. For example, travelwithyourname.com for a travel blog.

The second option is a topic related domain name.

This blog is an example of this. When you read the blog’s name, you instantly know what kind of content you will find here. For my target audience, it means that they know immediately they’re in the right place to learn.

You could also go for more of a brand name.

The names of Google, Amazon, and Apple have nothing to do with what their businesses do, but we all know them. By doing business under these names, and creating outstanding products, they became well-known brands.

One thing to add:

If you look at Microsoft and Tesla for example, they are brand names, but they do have a connection to what they do. Tesla refers to Nikolai Tesla, the inventor of electricity and Microsoft refers to software.

If you can find something that’s memorable, you’re halfway there already!

Registering Your Domain Name

Now there might be a small issue here.

It is possible that the domain name you would like to use already taken. To find out, let’s go ahead and get your domain name registered.

I use Namecheap for all my domains and highly recommend them.

Once you get to their site, you want to type your chosen domain name in the search box and hit enter. If it is available, you can go ahead and add it to your basket and finish the purchase.

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But, what if it isn’t?

If this isn’t the case you have a few options:

Firstly you can think of another name for your blog. Perhaps you can add a word that tells people what your blog is about, or you might be able to come up with something completely different.

For the other method, open up a new tab and go to the domain you like.

If there is an actual website built on the domain, I would recommend going back and looking for another name for your blog.

The reason is simple:

When someone thinks of a website, they always default to the .com version of that website. So when people remember your blog, they will type in the .com. Instead of going to your blog, they will end up on the other website.

However, oftentimes you will find that there is no actual website there. You will see a page like this:

If this is the case you can try 1 of 2 things:

The first thing you could do is to look up the Whois data and send an email to the owner of the domain, asking if you can buy the domain name. A domain name costs about $10/year to register, so you should offer them more than that.

Personally, I wouldn’t go over $50 for a domain name.

The other option is to try and go for the .net, .co or perhaps something like .life or .club. There are many other extensions available for you to use. However, I would only recommend one of them if there is no active site on the .com version of your domain.

Once you’ve found your winner, register it in Namecheap!

Sidenote: Other Domain Options

There is another thing you could use.

There are many different ones available, so you could use one that completes the name of your blog. On top of my head it could be something like pineappl.es.

I’m personally not a huge fan of doing this, but I just wanted to throw it out there as an option.

Getting Your Hosting Set Up

The next step is getting web hosting.

In easy terms, your hosting is the service that makes sure that your blog is online so that people can visit it. Without hosting you’re not going to have a blog.

There are 2 providers I would recommend for hosting:

WPX Hosting and SiteGround.

This blog right here is hosted by WPX, because they are (and have been for a while) the best hosting for WordPress websites.

To put it simply, your blog will load faster, which is important as people will leave if your blog takes too long to load. It is also one of Google’s ranking factors, meaning that, all other things equal, Google will rank the faster site higher.

They also have fantastic customer support and can help you with pretty much any issue.

The only downside, for some people at least, is the price. Their hosting is $25/month (or $20.83/month if you pay for a year upfront). It is more than other providers, but WPX will give you the very best performance money can buy!

I’d say it’s well worth it, especially if you blog to make money.

Click here to sign up for WPX.

SiteGround

SiteGround is a solid hosting provider.

Your site speed and performance will be worse compared to WPX, but it is a good and reliable hosting provider to use.

I have used SiteGround before on previous websites and have been happy about the service. Customer service has always been quick and helpful in resolving any issues.

So that’s the tradeoff:

While the performance is lower in comparison, it is cheaper, with their plans starting at $6.99 (which has to be paid for 1, 2 or 3 years upfront). One caveat is that this is for the first period, after which renewal prices will be roughly double that.

Click here to get started with SiteGround.

Creating Your Blog

Now it’s time to finally get your blog online!

Are you excited?

I am!

Once you have been through this step, you can sit back looking at your screen and smile looking at the foundation that is your own website. Your blog.

So, let’s get started.

The first thing you want to do is to log into your hosting provider to find your nameservers.

If you use WPX, you can find them here:

Where to Find Your Nameservers in WPX Hosting
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Sensitive data from my hosting blurred out.

If you used Siteground as your hosting provider you should be able to find them in inside of your account and/or cpanel. Check out this guide if you can’t find them.

Next, log into your Namecheap account and go to your new domain.

From there find your DNS settings:

Updating Your Nameservers in Namecheap
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Select custom DNS and you will see 2 boxes that say “Nameservers”. Take the addresses provided within WPX or SiteGround and paste them into these boxes.

Once done, click the checkmark.

And that’s all the configuration done within Namecheap!

On WPX go to “hosting” under services and click on the “Install WP” button.

How to Create a WordPress Blog with WPX Hosting
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Afterward, you will be asked to create a username and password. Write these down somewhere as they are what you’ll use to manage your blog. Or use something like LastPass.

Next:

Click on the SSL button and select “Install FREE Certificate”. This will encrypt your website, making it secure. In your browser you’ll see a padlock if a site is secure.

And one final thing:

Go to WPX Cloud from the menu on the left. Once there, enable it for your blog. I’ll save you the details, but this will make your blog load way faster.

For SiteGround:

Go to your Cpanel from your account dashboard and look for the 1-click installer.

From there on, you’re going to select WordPress and follow the instructions to install WordPress.

Congratulations!

It might take a few moments to install, but after that, your first blog is officially online now! You should see the default blog once you type in your domain name. If not, you might need to wait a few hours, as the DNS settings we did in Namecheap can sometimes take a bit longer.

Next up, I will show you everything you need to know to manage and customize your blog!

WordPress Tour

Some people have told me they find WordPress hard to understand and use.

But don’t worry, after this section and the next few you will know exactly where to go and what to do.. Together we will install the essential plugins your blog needs and I’ll show you how to customize your blog’s look.

Additionally, we’ll go over the important settings.

Let’s start with your main dashboard:

Embed not working? Watch on YouTube and click here to subscribe.

Finding and Installing WordPress Themes

As you can see, your blog looks really basic right now.

Let’s fix that, shall we?

As you have seen in the tour above, the way you customize the look of your blog is through themes. Each theme has its own look, which you can then further customize to your liking.

Firstly, you’ll have to look for a theme you like.

There are multiple ways to find themes. Some of these will be paid, but there are plenty of free alternatives as well if you’re short on cash. I’ll show you multiple places that I think have the best themes.

Afterward, I’ll show you how to install them.

Note: I can’t really guide you much in this section. Choosing a theme for your blog is a personal choice, just like decorating your house. The choice ultimately rests with you.

Thrive Theme Builder

This is the theme I use on this blog.

Not only does it do a good job at putting the content on my blog front and center, it is also focused on converting casual readers into email subscribers, so that I can follow up with them and grow my audience.

That’s the main strength and the reason I think it’s well worth the money to invest in the Thrive Theme Builder.

Astra

If I have to describe Astra in 1 word it would be flexibility.

It is a free WordPress theme that is highly customizable, more so than just about any theme I have ever seen. That’s the reason why a lot of bloggers use and recommend the Astra theme.

I’d recommend checking out their starter templates.

These are basically complete themes that have already been built for you using Astra, that you can simply import. It honestly doesn’t get much easier than that.

ThemeForest

This is another popular marketplace for themes.

ThemeForest has a LOT of different themes for sale, so there’s likely something you’ll love there!

Again, I can’t really help you with deciding which one to go for, as it is a personal thing. You know the look you want for your blog better than anyone else.

Installing Themes from the WordPress Directory

This is the final option I’ll give you.

As we have seen in our WordPress tour, WordPress has its own directory with a ton of free themes ready to install with a single click.

In your dashboard go to Appearance -> Themes -> Add New.

Once there I would recommend filtering by the most popular themes, because there are a lot of them. The most popular ones are likely being used a lot for the reason that they’re well designed.

Installing WordPress Themes Manually

If you didn’t get your theme from the WordPress directory, you will have to install it yourself.

Firstly, find your theme and download it. It should be a zip file, and you don’t need to unpack it.

Then go to the themes page within your dashboard.

Click on “Upload” and then select the zip file.

Click on “Install” and you’re basically done. When asked, click on “Activate” and your new theme will instantly be live on your blog!

Customizing Your Theme

Your theme is just the basis.

You can customize just about everything until your blog is exactly to your liking!

Unfortunately, I cannot help you out here, because every theme will have different options and a different dashboard. However, the one thing I can recommend is to check out the documentation. Most plugins will have a file that tells you exactly how to do everything related to the theme.

Once you’re done playing around with your theme, let’s move on!

Installing Essential WordPress Plugins

Yay, we’re at the plugins section!

I’m so excited about this because plugins allow you to do so many different things. They can help you get more shares on social media, collect leads (more on that later), help you rank better on Google, and much more!

Here are the plugins I would recommend you install right away:

Antispam Bee

Unfortunately, this one is required.

Even in 2020, there are a lot of bots that leave comments on blogs. They hope that people will visit the website link they enter, or that it helps them rank better in Google. Hint: It does neither as this method stopped working like 8 years ago.

Anyway, I’m assuming you don’t want to spend your time going through spam comments to check if there are any real comments, right?

You don’t have to.

Let AntiSpam Bee take care of all the nasty spam comments. You can focus on the comments left by actual readers who love your blog posts!

How to Install:

  • Go to the plugins section.
  • Search for Antispam Bee
  • Find it (the one with the superhero bee) and click install

WordFence

Note: On WPX you don’t have to install this one, as security is taken care of for you.

This is a security plugin.

WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform, which makes it a target for hackers.

Hopefully, you followed my advice and set your WordPress username to something that is not “admin”. That step alone will make the chances of your site getting hacked significantly lower already.

WordFence will help out a lot as well!

How to Install

  • Go to the plugins page
  • Search for “WordFence”.
  • Find it and click on “Install”.

Make sure to go through the setup afterward to make sure everything is configured well. They should have a guide with the recommended settings.

Rank Math

Rank Math is currently the best SEO plugin for WordPress.

To put it simply:

This plugin will help you easily configure your blog so that you can rank higher in the search engines. Examples would be taking care of your sitemap and robots.txt file.

Don’t even worry about what those are, Rank Math will take care of it!

It also gives you pointers on how to optimize your articles for search when you’re writing them.

How to Install

  • Go to the plugins page
  • Search for Rank Math
  • Install the one with the picture that says Rank Math, you can’t miss it.

After installing, check out this guide to configure it correctly.

Social Snap

See those social media buttons?

That’s Social Snap at work.

With this plugin you can create all sorts of social share buttons, follow buttons, click to tweet boxes and more. There are many ways for you to use this plugin to get your visitors to share your articles.

Meaning more traffic and new fans for you!

I would highly recommend the plus version to unlock all of the features. Since this plugin will help you get more traffic to your blog from your visitors, I’d say it’s well worth it. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content.

How to Install

  • Buy Social Snap here.
  • Download your plugin.
  • Go to the plugins page.
  • Click on upload and upload the zip file you got.

Alternatively, there is a Lite version available that is free, but with limited features of course. You can find it by searching for “Social Snap” just like you did with the other plugins.

Thrive Leads

Next up, we’ll go into email marketing.

Thrive Leads is a great plugin for creating lead capture forms for your blog. You want people to subscribe so you can stay in touch, and keep them coming back again and again. You can email them your new blog posts, (affiliate) offers and more.

Thrive Leads is the best plugin of its kind.

As a blogger, you should be building your list from day 1 (I’ll show you how later). This plugin is going to help you turn more visitors into subscribers.

How to Install

1. Buy Thrive Leads here, or get Thrive Membership instead, which includes many awesome plugins.

2. Download the plugin in your dashboard.

3. Upload the plugin to WordPress.

Easy Headers and Footers

This is mostly preparation for later on.

As the name suggests, this plugin allows you to easily insert code into the header or the footer of your blog. Unless you know how coding works, I would not recommend adding code to your blog manually, as it might screw things up.

So, why do you need this plugin?

The most important reason is to set up Google Analytics (I’ll show you how later). This will let you track how people find your blog, what your most popular articles are, which marketing channels are working and much more.

Another example could be the Facebook pixel, which greatly helps when you get to the point where you want to advertise on Facebook.

How to Install:

  • Go to your plugins page.
  • Search for Easy Headers & Footers.
  • By now you’re an expert at this! 🙂

Note: Depending on your theme, you may not need this plugin. If your theme has a section to insert header and footer code, use that instead.

And that’s just about it in terms of plugins.

If at any point, you feel like you want to do something specific on your blog, do a quick search on Google. Chances are you’re not the only person who wanted to do it, and someone has created a plugin for it.

Legally Protecting Yourself

This is by far my least favorite aspect of blogging.

However, it is crucial!

Without a doubt, you have heard about the privacy scandals with Facebook, Google and others. Partially because of those, the privacy laws these days are a lot stricter than they used to be a couple of years ago.

As a blogger, you need to protect yourself legally!

You want to avoid getting into legal issues with privacy laws, or the FTC if you do affiliate marketing or sell stuff. There is also the risk of getting sued, which you need to protect yourself against too.

At the least you need:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Disclaimers

Not having those can get you sued!

Legal Pages Meme: If someone could write my legal pages for me, that'd be great!
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Having these is NOT optional, and ignorance is not a legally acceptable excuse!

I’m not telling you that to scare you, but to save you from a lot of potential trouble, costly lawsuits and fines. For example, a violation of the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) can cost $2500 to $7500 per violation!

And that is nothing compared to the European GDPR fines!

So How do You Protect Yourself?

Let me tell you about the biggest mistake you could make:

It might be tempting to go to Google and search for something like “free privacy policy” in order to save money.

However…

While there are sites out there that allow you to generate a privacy policy for free, do not use them! Pretty much all of them have major holes in them. They can give you peace of mind, but you aren’t actually protected!

There are 3 ways to get your blog legally compliant:

  • Hire a lawyer to write these documents for you. This option will fully protect you, but obviously, it will set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
  • The second option is much more affordable, which is getting your legal templates from an actual lawyer. Ones that actually protect you against everything that could possibly go wrong legally.
  • If you’re a lawyer and you have the knowledge to draft them yourself, go for it.

I’ve personally gone for option 2 myself.

The person I would highly recommend for any legal template is Amira Law from A Self Guru. She is a professional lawyer who is now helping bloggers like you and me to protect their blogs legally.

Grab her legal bundle here.

The starter bundle will be enough for you if you’re just starting out, you don’t need the more extensive packages just yet. Once you get into more operations, like selling your own products, it would be wise to upgrade.

Preparing for Launch!

The time is almost upon you…

The time when it’s finally ready for you to go live with your blog and share your passion with the world! However, before you do that, I want to walk you through a few last-minute checks that make sure everything is A-Okay!

Make Sure You Have a Lead Magnet

Let’s talk about email marketing.

As I briefly mentioned before, you want to build an email list to keep people coming back to your blog. Email will also help build a bond between you and your readers, it’s an amazing tool to use!

First, you need an autoresponder, I personally use and recommend ConvertKit.

This is the tool that you will use to collect people’s emails and send emails automagically. Besides your blog itself, your email list will be your most valuable asset.

But, you might wonder:

“Why would anyone actually join my email list? Don’t people already get too much email anyway?”

And you would be correct.

If you put a form on your blog saying “Subscribe to get my future blog posts.” almost nobody will take you up on that offer. So in order to get people to sign up for your email list, you need to give them a more compelling reason.

A lead magnet.

People also like to call it a giveaway, freebie or ethical bribe. The idea is that you’re giving away something that brings tremendous value to your audience for free.

When they see your lead magnet, they should be like “Yes, I need to have this!”.

This solves 2 problems:

  • It gives people a good reason to give you their email address so that you can follow up with them.
  • More importantly, your lead magnet is your chance to impress your reader! Most email people get is spam and absolute garbage! If you bring them value through your emails, they’re gonna want to open yours.

After that you can email them your new blog posts, useful information as well as offers. If and when you decide to create your own products or promote them as an affiliate.

Wanna learn more about writing great emails?

Check out my free email course “7 Days to a Profitable List” and in a week you’ll be an expert in email marketing!

How to Create a Lead Magnet

Here’s the idea for your lead magnet:

You take one problem that your audience is facing and you create a single solution for them. For the delivery you can create a small guide/ebook, a checklist, worksheets, video training, email course, etc.

For example:

As a fitness blogger, you could create a 30 day plan with exercises for each day, turn it into a pdf and that’s your lead magnet. The same could be done for a diet, a 30 day plan for forming new habits, or things like that.

You could send people a (series of) instructional video(s) for playing guitar, training a dog, or anything you can imagine really.

You’ve also seen me advertise a few of my own lead magnets.

First things first:

Put together a list of problems that you can help your audience solve quickly. You want your audience to have a quick win! It shows them that you can help them, because you already did.

That alone will make people want to come back to you and your blog.

Adding Google Analytics & Search Console

These 2 tools help you figure out what’s going on on your blog.

Google Analytics mostly focuses on telling you where people are coming from (social media, Google, other websites, etc.), what pages they visit, from what countries and things like that.

The Search Console mostly focuses on your site’s health and search performance.

Let’s start with Analytics:

As you can see, it doesn’t take long to install Google Analytics.

Next up, is the Google Search Console.

And again, setting this up will only take a few minutes as you can see in the tutorial below. One small favor I would like to ask is that if you want to grow your blog, then subscribe to my channel so that you can get more actionable blogging tips.

Anyway, here’s the video on Verifying Your Site in the Google Search Console:

Boom baby, all done!

Prepare Content for Your Blog

Now here’s a bit of controversy:

Many people in blogging communities recommend launching as soon as you have 1 article written. However, I would say that’s a bad idea and that you should have 3-6 articles when you launch your blog.

Here’s why:

Imagine you’re someone who found one of your articles on social media. The blog looks great, they love the article and would love to learn more. So they click on your home button to find other articles…

And it’s empty, a ghost town!

They’ll be disappointed and probably lose a lot of the trust that you built up.

If you have at least a few articles there, you have another chance to wow them and get your first few fans!

How to Write Epic Content

Speaking of content, let’s talk about how to write great blog posts.

At least the basics, since I could easily write another 10000 words on content creation alone. I’ll save that for another day.

First, let’s start with the elements of great content:

  • Informational
  • Entertaining
  • Inspirational
  • Actionable
  • Includes a call to action
  • Includes visuals

You want to add elements of all 6 to every blog post you write.

Firstly, information should be pretty obvious. People search on Google or go to your blog to learn about something. You need to give them the info they are looking for.

Entertainment to some degree is needed too. It helps keep people engaged. If they’re bored out of their mind, they’re gonna leave your blog. Add stories and metaphors, a joke here and there, and things like that. Just a little bit of entertainment goes a long way in spicing up your articles.

Captain Jack Sparrow Meme: Your Blog readers running away from boring content
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The next two go hand in hand.

Right now, you’re reading this. However, if you don’t implement what I’m teaching here, you’ll never see those results you dream of. That requires action on your end. It is also my job, by making this guide actionable and inspiring you to do it.

For making it actionable:

Don’t just tell people what to do, instead tell them how to do it as well.

Inspiration mainly comes down to knowing your avatar. When you know their goals, and why they want to achieve those, use that to inspire them into action. Stories about how you or others overcame obstacles can show how it’s possible for your reader too.

Let’s talk about something I’ve been doing this entire blogging guide:

As you can see, all of my writing is broken down into small bits of content that are easy to read. On your blog, you want to avoid having large chunks of text as well.

3 or 4 lines per paragraph max.

And some tiny ones too.

This way you avoid overwhelming your reader with large “walls of text” as I like to call them. I immediately leave a site if I see one, without a second thought. Whitespace is your friend!

Moving on:

Another great way to break up your content is by using images. they help make things clearer of course, but they also make the content less dull. Every blog post should have images, period!

Also, consider video.

It is a great tool to set yourself apart from others, with the 1 thing that’s unique to your blog: you.

Additionally, there are people (like myself) that simply hate reading. I find it way easier to write a guide like this one, than to actually have to read one. By embedding videos, you cater to both readers and those who rather watch or listen.

The final element you need is a call to action.

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

The same holds true for your blog as well. You want people to take action, either by sharing your blog post, or by joining your email list.

So, where appropriate, you need to tell people to do so.

You have seen me include multiple calls to action for various lead magnets already in this guide. Whenever I talk about kowing your audience, I always plug my Perfect Avatar Creation worksheets. (get them, if you haven’t already!)

If you don’t tell people to opt in, almost nobody will!

And that’s about it for the content creation part of this beginner’s guide to blogging.

If you want to get more information on content creation and everything else, I would like to invite you to the free video course I have created. I go more into depth on content creation there, including 8 effective types of content every blogger should use.

Check Your Systems

Before launching, make sure that everything is working correctly.

Meaning, go ahead and try opting in to your own email list:

  • Do you get the confirmation email?
  • Are the emails sent in the right order?
  • Do the links to your lead magnet work?
  • Is there anything that feels off?

Try clicking around on your blog for a couple of minutes as well. When you’re doing this make it your goal to try to “break” your blog. In other words to try and cause some sort of problem.

If everything is set up properly there shouldn’t be any, but by throwing everything you can think off at your blog you’re giving it a thorough check.

The Pesky Checkbox

Remember the box that we checked earlier, for allowing your site to be shown in search engines?

Let me tell you a quick story, someone once told me:

They had an established business that was getting a lot of visitors from Google when they decided to redesign their website. Afterward, their Google traffic dropped dramatically and they couldn’t figure out why.

And guess what?

While they were redesigning it, they used that checkbox to make sure people wouldn’t accidentally find their work in progress. And after they fixed that one little checkbox, their search traffic started to recover.

Long story short:

Make sure you allow search engines to show your site.

Social Media Profiles

Starting a blog in 2020 is a lot harder than it used to be.

A couple of years ago there was way less competition. Back then, you could just write and people would find you in Google. Back then it wasn’t hard that hard to get traffic.

People even had the term:

“Build it and they will come”.

While people still use it these days, it does NOT hold true. Not anymore.

So, you need a social presence.

Your best bet of getting your blog rolling the right way is to be omnipresent. Meaning you’re building your blog and brand in many places at once.

Meaning you should be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn (if applicable), Reddit, etc.

These will be outlets to share your content on and engage with people. If your audience is there, so should you.

We’ll talk more about getting traffic in the last section.

For now, at least get your profiles created while trying to keep your brand as similar as possible. Meaning use the same logo/profile pictures, connect your blog to every profile bio, and keep a consistent message.

Tip:

If you have a few bucks to spend, consider running a few campaigns to gain your first handful of followers. There is a huge difference between a page that has 100 followers already versus one that has 2 (hi mom!).

People will be more willing to follow the one with more followers.

It’s the concept of social proof.

Launching Your Blog!

Yes, it’s time.

When you’ve been through everything in this guide so far, you’ve got all the green lights to publish the articles and show the world what your blog is all about!

Your road to start a blog from scratch is over!

Now your journey to going from here to building a hugely popular blog is about to begin. 🙂

I’d say that’s the most fun part.

So let’s continue with the next steps.

Monetizing Your Blog

Now that your blog is online and your first articles are published, let’s talk about monetization.

Right now you’ve got a hobby.

Monetizing your blog allows you to go from a hobby to turning your blog into a side project that earns you money. Ultimately turning it into a full-time gig that is more than able to sustain you.

First, I want you to know your options in terms of monetization.

Affiliate Marketing

This is (in my humble, but accurate opinion) the single best way to monetize a blog!

Here’s how affiliate marketing works:

There are many companies that have great products and need help with reaching new customers. You as a blogger talk about these products on your blog and recommend them to your audience.

Whenever someone goes through your link and buys something, you get a commission.

It’s a win-win-win situation:

  • The company you’re an affiliate for, gets more sales.
  • You guide your readers towards products that will help them reach their goals faster and with more ease than they could without them.
  • And of course, you get paid to help the other 2 parties.

And that’s the great thing.

Littering your blog with ads, which provides a terrible user experience. Affiliate marketing one the other hand, is great for your readers as well.

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Take this guide as an example:

I been giving you all the information you need to start a successful blog. I have also shared the best tools to get the job done.

And yes, I do get a commission when you invest in pretty much any of the tools in this guide. But that’s not my main reason for recommending them. The main one is that I know they will help you, because I’ve used all of them and love them!

And that is how to do affiliate marketing ethically!

Do not just throw products out there on your blog for the sake of getting a commission! If the product isn’t a good fit or the quality is crap, don’t do it! If people have a bad experience with the product, it reflects badly on you as well!

Want to read about it in more detail? Check my in-depth guide here. (tip: hold control when you click to open it in a new tab, so you don’t lose this guide.)

How to Find Affiliate Products to Promote

Now that you know the basics, let’s get you started.

There are 2 ways to find affiliate programs that you can join:

  • Join one of the affiliate networks
  • Find an individual company’s affiliate program

Here’s how I recommend you start:

Create a list of products that you use (in relation to your niche), and only include the ones that you can wholeheartedly recommend.

They can be tools you use (both physical and digital), courses you’ve taken to learn, books, services, etc.

Next:

Once you have a list of products that you use and love yourself, go to Google.

Type in “product name + affiliate program”.

If the company has an affiliate program you should be able to find it that way. If you don’t see a page for it in search, check their website. If they have an affiliate program, it will be somewhere in either the header or footer of their website.

When you find it, go through the process of signing up.

Joining Affiliate Networks

Your second option is joining one or more affiliate networks.

These networks bring companies and affiliates like yourself together.

After you join, you will have access to a database of a lot of products in just about any niche. You can then browse them and when you find one that would be perfect for your audience, you can promote that product.

Here are some of the best affiliate networks for beginners:

These ones should be able to provide you with plenty of great products to promote.

One tip I will give you is to try and vet the products before you start promoting them on your blog. You want to make sure that the quality is good and that it will be a great fit for your audience.

Tip: If you are unable to buy a product yourself to try it out, you could try emailing the vendor. explain that you want to try it out before promoting it to ensure quality. Some of them would be more than happy to help.

How to Promote Affiliate Products Ethically

So, how do you actually promote affiliate products to make money on your blog?

There are a few ways to do so:

  • Inside of helpful blog posts
  • Reviews
  • Product Comparisons
  • Resource Guides

Inside of Blog Posts

This guide would be a great example.

With this kind of content, you want to focus on educating your audience and teaching them how to do something. More often than not, your reader would need certain tools to get the job done or to make it easier.

Those are your opportunities for including affiliate links:

Some examples:

Inside of a guide on creating a vegetable patch, you could include tools that help with creating or maintaining it.

When you create a tutorial on how to apply a certain kind of makeup, you can link people to the actual makeup you’re using.

If you’re creating a 30 plan for losing weight, perhaps there is a service that delivers the ingredients for the recipes that you suggest to people.

See how it works?

You don’t have to be salesy or try to sell people on anything. You’re simply helping them reach a goal and suggesting some of the tools and products that will help them even more.

Reviews & Comparisons

This is a great way to make money!

When people want to buy something, they will often go to Google first to look for a review.

No matter how great the sales page is at promoting the product, it’s still the company talking about their own product. People don’t nearly trust an advertisement as much as they trust a review by someone like you.

And here’s the nice part:

When somebody is searching for a review, they are considering buying the product. So you will usually find that more people buy the product compared to using affiliate links in regular blog posts.

How to do a Good Review Post:

  • You’re writing a review, not an advertisement. Your goal is not to hard-sell the product.
  • Focus your attention on providing your reader with honest information, as well as how you use it.
  • This means listing both the good as well as the bad sides of the product. If you’re creating a review that is completely one-sided, people will trust it way less.
  • Consider turning it into a case study instead. Something like “Product X Review: How I achieved Y in Z Days” makes it way more personal and useful to your reader.

Comparisons work the same way.

People are considering multiple options and rely on you to give them the information they need to make an educated decision.

Just like with a review, you want to give both the strong and weak points of each product. You should be highlighting the differences between the options so that people will know which one is right for them.

Some pointers:

  • There are many things that make you recommend 1 product over the other(s), but the commission should not be one of them!
  • That said, you can be an affiliate for both alternatives.
  • Your recommendation doesn’t have to be in black and white. You could recommend people get A in situation X and product B in situation Y. It helps people make the right choice and builds trust. (notice how I did the same thing with the hosting companies?)

Resource Guides

This is going to depend on your niche.

For example, in the online marketing niche that I’m in, there are many products that make every aspect of marketing easier or more efficient. This makes it hard for newer people, as there are so many options.

Which is what makes a resource guide so effective.

Simply put, it is a list of all the tools that you would recommend to people for your niche.

For example:

On my own resource guide, I go over the tools that people can use to build, grow, and monetize their blog. Neatly sorted by category.

For each of them, I explain what it does, what the use cases are, who should buy it, and how much the product costs. That page is around 15000 words! That’s the extent of the information I give on those products.

When done well this can be one of the most lucrative pages on your blog.

Again, selling is not your main goal.

If it’s a product you believe in, you should give people a nudge in the right direction. However, your main goal should be to educate your reader so that they can make the right choice. Even if it means telling people when the product is not a good fit for them.

Using Ads on Your Blog

Enough about affiliate marketing.

Another way to monetize your blog would be through having ads on your blog.

I’m not a fan of this method for 2 reasons:

  • Having too many ads can annoy your readers and create a worse user experience.
  • The potential earnings are way lower compared to affiliate marketing or selling your own products.

Side note: I recommend Ad Blocker Plus or the Brave browser to get rid of ads.

However, if affiliate marketing is not an option in your niche, then you could try having ads on your blog.

Note:

Some of the better (and higher paying) networks have a minimum traffic requirement.

Here are a few of the best known networks:

  • Google AdSense (Easy to get into but one of the worse programs out there)
  • Monumentric (10k visitors/month requirement)
  • Ezoic (10k visitors/month requirement)
  • MediaVine (50k visitors/month requirement)
  • AdThrive (100k visitors/month and very selective)

Note that I don’t use any of them myself. But I’m hearing pretty active in blogging communities. From what I’ve heard Monumentric, MediaVine and AdThrive would be the best networks to join.

One more thing:

I would recommend NOT joining AdSense.

Many people have had issues with AdSense slowing their blogs down. Additionally, since you would be at less than 10k visitors per month, you will be earning almost nothing from these ads.

I’d recommend focusing on your content and promotion until you can join any of the other networks.

Donations

This is mostly useful for the more creative bloggers.

For example, if you’re creating comics and using your blog to share them, or you’re doing something like short stories or poetry. With blogs like this affiliate marketing is almost impossible.

Donations and ads would be your best bet.

Especially when you’re letting your personality shine through and you let people get to know you. There will be a portion of your readers who are willing to support you financially.

Patreon could be a good place to start.

With this platform, people can pledge a certain amount per month to support you.

What makes this platform great is that you can create tiered rewards for your supporters. You could have exclusive content for people that pledge $5 or more for example, or exclusive access to you at $50. Just to give you an example.

I would highly recommend video blogging in addition to the written word.

Video allows you to build a connection with your viewers in a way that is impossible to do through writing. And when people feel like they know and like you, they would be more open to supporting you.

You may also want to check out Brave Creators, which allows people to donate through cryptocurrency.

Selling Your Own Products & Services

This is one of the best ways to monetize.

However, I do NOT recommend it for bloggers who are just starting out.

The reason is that, while it has the highest earnings potential, it is also by far the most complicated way to monetize a blog.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Create a product. Either a training course, online tool/software, physical product or something else that brings value.
  • Create your own sales pages to sell them.
  • Potentially create even more products as upsells to earn more.
  • Learn copywriting in order to sell your products, or hire a copywriter (which gets really expensive).
  • Take care of the delivery of your products.
  • Take care of customer support.

It quickly gets incredibly complex.

When you do affiliate marketing, everything on the backend is taken care of by the product’s creator. All you focus on is sending people to the product.

I’m not going into product creation here, as it’s too much when getting started.

Just know that it can be an option when you’re further down your journey.

Getting Traffic to Your New Blog

We’re almost at the end of this blogging guide.

However, there is 1 critical element that’s still missing:

Traffic!

It doesn’t matter how good your content it.

It doesn’t matter how much value you provide.

And it doesn’t matter how well you monetize your blog.

If you don’t get any visitors it’s all in vain!

So, I will be sharing some ways to get traffic to your new blog.

Here’s the #1 mistake bloggers make:

Bloggers waiting for traffic
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Just because you publish something, does NOT mean people will swarm your blog to read it! You NEED to promote your content in order to grow, period! If you don’t you’ll end up waiting like the skeleton above.

SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

In the essence it’s fairly straightforward, however, it is pretty hard to master. Explaining everything in detail is a topic for a completely different guide, which I’ll be creating at a later time.

For now I’ll give you the overview so you can get started.

Step 1: Keyword Research

It all starts with keywords.

These are the words and phrases that people type into Google, Bing and other search engines.

You want to show up for these of course.

There are several tools that we can use to figure out which keywords we want to rank for.

A few I use are :

I’ll show you Ubersuggest for now.

The first thing you want to do is start with a broad term related to the topic you want to blog about. As an example, let’s say it’s about “parenting”.

Now here’s the problem:

There are a lot of people that search for parenting. This also means that there are a ton of bloggers and companies that will be targeting this keyword. In other words, as a new blog, your chance of ranking for “parenting” is pretty much 0.

So, let’s go to the “Keyword Ideas” and type your broad search term.

It will look like this:

Ubersuggest keyword ideas
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Your goal is to find what we call long-tail keywords. These are longer variations of the broad search term you started with.

Have a look at “parenting responsibilities”.

As you can see, the search volume is way lower than for “parenting”, but the competition for it is a lot lower as well. Which you can see on the right side of the page.

There are 2 metrics to look at:

  • DS (Domain Score): This is a metric that signals how well established a site is on a score of 1-100. The higher the number, the more authority the site has. You want the scores to be as low as possible.
  • Links: This is the number of other websites that link to the web page that is ranking. The lower this number is, the better it is for you, since getting links greatly helps you rank better.

Here’s what to look for in these scores:

You are looking for sites that rank in the top 10, that either have a very low domain score or almost no links. In an ideal world both of these metrics would be close to 0.

Here’s why:

If a site with a low Domain Score ranks, it means you don’t have to have a high score yourself in order to rank. And when sites rank with little to no links, it means you can outrank them by creating more links yourself.

Look at #3 and #5 in the screenshot above.

As you can see, these pages has almost no links and the domain score is not terribly high. They’re fairly authoritative sites, but it could be way worse.

This means that it’s a good keyword to target.

Note:

You can target 1 mean keyword and additionally target a few others as well.

For example:

Let’s say your target is “parenting responsibilities”. You can work in phrases like “parenting responsibilities for toddlers”, or “parenting responsibilities for fathers”.

Step 2: Optimize Your Blog Post for Search

Now that you know which keywords you want to target, you need to use them in your blog post.

It’s not that difficult to be honest.

These days Google is pretty good at understanding what your blog post is all about.

Therefore you don’t have to go overboard with using the exact phrases over and over again. You can write for your audience while occasionally using your keywords as well as synonyms and related phrases.

Here’s how I recommend you do it:

  • Main keyword in your headline
  • Main keyword in 1 of your subheadings
  • Secondary keywords in subheadings
  • Main and secondary keywords in your text, where it fits naturally
  • Use synonyms and other language that fits (this happens almost automatically)
  • When using images, use your keyword as part of the alt tag.

To continue our example:

Your headline could be something like “Parenting Responsibilities: The 7 Things Every Parent Must Do!”.

Then, you can have subheadings like “Parenting Responsibilities for Fathers”, “Responsibilities for Mothers”, “Parenting Responsibilities for Toddlers” and so on.

Rank Math can guide you with this as well.

Just type your main keyword and your secondary ones as well, and it will give you suggestions of how to optimize your blog post.

Step 3: Building Links

This is an important step, and also the most difficult one.

When 1 site links to another site, it counts as a “vote”. The idea is that the site owner would only link to another site when the content is good enough to send their visitors to.

Therefore, having more links improves your domain score and helps your article rank.

There are a couple of ways to build them.

  • Guest Blogging
  • Broken Link Building
  • Content Syndication
  • Networking

I will cover a few of these below

Niche Communities

Social media is a great way to promote your blog.

However, when you are just starting out there is one obvious problem: You likely don’t have any followers yet.

No sweat though!

With communities like Facebook groups, you don’t need to have your own audience. You can share your blog in these groups or on sites like Reddit.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Find & Vet Relevant Groups

On Facebook, just type in your main blog’s topic.

You will probably get quite a few groups, but not all of these will be a good fit for promoting your blog posts.

You will have to check them to see if they are any good.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Check the rules: Some rules have a strict rule that says that you cannot share any links in the group. If they don’t allow links in main posts and comments, skip the group as posting would just get you banned there.
  • Spam: Some groups are the opposite. When you join a group like that, you will find that almost all the posts are people promoting their content. Also notice that nobody is liking them or leaving comments. These groups will be essentially useless, so find groups with little spam.
  • Engagement: What you want to look for is a healthy community. You want to see plenty of posts with people asking questions (and getting answers). You want to see people sharing their knowledge, and occasionally seeing links is a good sign as well.

If a group meets all 3 criteria, it’s a good target.

Step 2: Engage with the Chosen Communities

Next, you want to actually be a contributing member of the community.

If you jump into a Facebook group and immediately start dropping links to your blog posts, people will recognize you for what you are, a spammer!

Instead, engage with people:

When people ask questions, be one of the people to jump in and to help them out, or share some of your wisdom in your own post. You want to become a familiar name to the regulars and admins.

Step 3: Promote Your Blog Post the Right Way

When you go to share your blog post, there is a wrong and a right way to do it.

The wrong way looks like this:

“Hey, I have just written a blog post about X! Check it out here: [link]!”

So, what’s the issue?

This kind of post is all about you and what you want to get out of it (readers). Even when your content is good, people are going to see this kind of behavior as spamming the group.

Here’s what to do instead:

You provide a ton of value upfront before somebody even clicks on the link to your blog post.

For example:

If your article is about 7 workouts you can do from home, share 3 of them in detail. Tell people how to do them, what they need, etc. This way people are getting wiser as they read your post in the group.

And then drop your link for people to learn about the other 4.

If you do it like this, even the ones that don’t click are learning. You are not just dropping your link, you are giving valuable information to the people in the group. You go from spammer to contributing member.

And that’s just about it!

I’ve written this guide about promoting your blog in Facebook groups that goes into more detail if you want.

Note: You can use the same process on relevant subreddits, LinkedIn groups, Discords, Slack groups, etc.

Quuu Promote

Here’s an amazing tool for social media.

You don’t have your own audience yet. But there are plenty of other bloggers and influencers that do have an audience already. An audience that would be interested in your content.

But, they often have a problem:

They need to constantly create engaging and interesting content for their social media channels. Otherwise, their engagement will drop as people lose interest. Finding an sharing content takes a lot of time of course.

Meet Quuu.

With this tool they get curated pieces of content that they can share on social media with a single click, or even automatically.

And they could be your articles as well!

Here’s how it works:

When you join Quuu Promote, you can submit your articles to the relevant categories.

After that, influencers and other bloggers will be sharing your articles to their audience. So you’re reaching people on social media without having to have your own audience!

How to Get the Most out of Quuu Promote

Now here’s an awesome hack:

As I mentioned above, networking with other bloggers can be a great way to get more backlinks for your blog. And Quuu Promote gives you a great way to kick off the conversation with other bloggers in your space.

Just do this:

Whenever people share your articles, shoot them a quick message to thank them for sharing your content and ask them a question about it.

Ask them for their opinion of your blog post, a related topic, their opinion on the topic in question, if they have any other tips they would have included, etc.

You just want to start to get to know people.

Doing it this way will get you friends in the same niche as you.

They might share more blog posts of yours later. They might even link to them. You can get feedback or discuss tactics, etc.

Of course, be ready to help them as well.

Like any relationship, it’s giving and taking.

Guest Blogging

This is a great way to get links, even though it’s time intensive.

The idea is that you write a blog post, not for your own blog, but for another (bigger) blog.

It’s a win-win situation:

They need to keep on creating great content for their blog, which you will write for them. And in turn you will usually get 1 or a few links inside of the article that go back to your own blog, meaning you get a link and traffic.

Here’s how it works:

First you are going to look for blogs that you can guest post on.

There are a few ways to do so:

  1. Search for things like “write for us” + your niche (and yes write for use should be in the “ “). Other terms would be “guest post” + your niche, “guest blog” + your niche.This method will help you find blogs that have a page with guidelines for people to submit a guest post. If they have a page like this they are 100% open to having guest bloggers.
  2. Find big blogs in your niche and reach out to them asking if you can guest post on their blog. Not everyone will be open to it of course, but some will be. If you search for something like “best niche blogs” (replacing niche with your actual niche).

Next up, you need to read their guidelines if they have them.

In these guidelines, they will tell you exactly how they want you to reach out. They’ll tell you what kind of topics they want content written on and other important information.

After that, you will have to reach out to the blog’s owner or editor.

In your email let them know that you’re interested in writing for them, and I would recommend that you include a few ideas that you could write about. If the blog has guidelines, make sure to meet their criteria.

If accepted, write the article, format it, and submit it.

Try to make it as easy for them as possible to publish your article. I like to write and format my content in WordPress if possible and then copy the HTML code that it creates for the post. That way, it should have the same formatting when they copy it.

And that’s it.

A few guest posts on high traffic and authority blogs will go a long way to improving your traffic and domain authority. Meaning it gets easier to rank your future articles.

Article Syndication

This is a variation of guest blogging.

The difference is that with guest blogging, you write content specifically for the other blog. With article syndication, you publish on your own blog and then ask/allow other bloggers to republish that same article on their blogs.

This of course is quite a bit more difficult to pull off, since the content isn’t unique to them.

When you want to go down this road, I would recommend doing some guest blogging for the blog first. Once you have a bit of a relationship with the owner and your content has done well with their audience before, they’ll be more open.

The other thing you can do is look for site that already republish content.

Similarly to looking for sites that allow guest bloggers, you would use a search query like “originally appeared on” + your niche. This search will find articles that have a byline like This article originally appeared on XYZ.com an is republished here”. These blogs are already open to the idea of having syndicated content.

No need to convince them of the idea, you just need to convince them that your article is worth publishing on their blog.

Then there is another kind of syndication:

There are places where you can syndicate your blog posts yourself.

Some places would be Medium and LinkedIn.

Republishing your articles there will allow you to get more visitors to your blog. this is because these websites already have a lot of visitors. The downside is that the links don’t contribute a lot to SEO.

However, it’s what we call low hanging fruit.

Important: When syndicating you want the other site to use the rel=canonical tag set to the url of your original blog post. Adding this tag tells Google that your version is the original, and should be ranking instead of the copy.

With the Medium importer, this tag will automatically be added.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a hybrid between social media and a search engine.

And it’s great for bloggers!

The reason it works so well for getting traffic to your blog is because people come to Pinterest to find new interesting articles. This is opposed to for example Facebook, where people gather to interact on Facebook.

On Pinterest, they are looking for your content.

Again, I’ll just cover the basics here. A full guide would take way too long for the scope of this guide.

Getting Verified

After creating your profile, you want to turn it into a verified business profile and confirm your website.

Here’s where to find it:

Pinterest Website Claim
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Click on the “Claim” button next to “Websites”.

From there you’re going to select the “Add HTML tag” option and copy the tag.

If you followed this blogging guide, you will have the Rank Math plugin installed. One of their features is that they allow you to easily add the Pinterest code to your blog, without needing any coding knowledge.

Go to:

Rank Math -> General Settings -> Webmaster Tools -> Pinterest Verification ID and paste the tag there.

Bonus Step: If you want to advertise on Pinterest at some point, you should install the Pinterest tag as well. After verifying your site, you will be asked to add the tag to your site. This is easily done in a minute or two:

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Choose the second option.

You’ll see a pop-up. On that pop-up, simply scroll down and click on the “Copy code” button. Then you’re gonna go back to your blog and paste that code either in your “Headers and Footers” plugin or within your theme’s code section if it has one.

And that’s it.

Your Bio

The next step is to write your bio.

Remember to treat Pinterest like a search engine.

Meaning that in your bio you will want to let people know what it is that you do and who you help. Additionally you want to use keywords that relate to your blog.

For example:

I make sure to mention things like blogging, content marketing and social media marketing.

Your Boards

The way Pinterest works is through boards.

If you go to someone’s profile you will see a lot of different boards, and each one should have a different category.

For example:

Let’s say you blog about health. You could create a board for recipes, one for exercise, one for quick health tips, etc. For eachsubtopic on your blog, make one board.

Next up, you need to optimize your boards.

The main keyword for each subtopic should be in the title of the board.

And just like your profile, you want to write a description for each of your boards. Use keywords here as well, so that people can find your boards when they search for relevant keywords.

Tip: Try typing your main keywords into the search bar and look at the suggestions. These are related keywords that you can use in your descriptions.

As the final touch:

For each of your boards, you have the option to set a specific image to be shown when someone visits your profile. Just like a featured image on your blog, this image should get people to click and check out the pins on the board.

Pinning Content

For the next step, you need to pin content to your boards.

Luckily, you don’t have to create all of the content for your boards yourself, you can pin other people’s content as well.

There are 3 ways to go about this:

  • The easiest way is to go to Pinterest and search for your niche. You will see a lot of other people’s pins. You can then easily pin the image to one of your own boards.
  • The next part is to go to blogs that you know and love, and then pin blog posts from those sites.
  • There is this tool called Taillwind Tribes (more on that in a bit). A tribe is a group of other bloggers in a certain niche. The idea is that you pin other people’s images to your boards and in turn will they do the same for you.

I would recommend making sure every one of your boards has at least 20 pins.

From there on you can occasionally pin more pieces of content, both other people’s and your own of course.

Creating Your Own Pins

Whenever you publish a blog post, you should have a featured image already.

This is used for social media.

You should pin that one to your Pinterest boards as well.

On top of that you can go even further and create multiple images that promote the same blog post. You can use a tool like Snappa or Canva. Having multiple pins gives you more opportunities to get your pins discovered.

Spend a bit of time looking around on Pinterest as well.

When you’re there look at pictures that get a lot of likes and repins. If possible try to figure out the similarities between them so that you can make images that are similar.

Tailwind

Tailwind is a scheduling tool for Pinterest.

When you have many boards and need to add fresh content to each of them, Pinterest becomes a time-consuming task!

That’s where Tailwind comes in.

This tool helps you with scheduling your pins days or weeks in advance. It allows you to repin images after a certain period of time, helps you share at the right times for more engagement, and more.

They will save you a lot of time and help you get more views.

And, as I mentioned before, you have access to Tailwind Tribes as well.

After you join a tribe, you will be joining other content creators in your niche. You help them by sharing some of their pins on your boards and they will do the same for you. Obviously, more people pinning your blog posts helps you get more traffic.

Click here to sign up for Tailwind and see the power for yourself.

Next Steps

Congratulations for making it all the way to this final section!

I know it has been a LOT of information to take in. However, if you followed along with this guide, you now have a proper foundation and knowledge to make your blog successful!

Before I send you off, I’ll give you a few tips to move forward.

Continue Learning!

Of course, I couldn’t cover everything in this guide.

Therefore I would highly recommend setting aside some time each day to read up on marketing, writing, SEO, and topics like that. The more you know the better you’ll be at growing your blog.

Try the Zest app for Android and iOS.

It’s an app for your phone that is all about marketing. You choose the subtopics you’re interested in and this app will curate articles for you every single day. It saves you time finding great content manually.

I’d recommend podcasts as well.

The beautiful thing about them is that you can listen to them while you are doing other things. You can’t read an article while you’re driving to work, but you can listen to a podcast.

Here are a few I would suggest:

  • Marketing School
  • Smart Passive Income
  • The Science of Social Media
  • Perpetual Traffic
  • Social Media Marketing Podcast
  • Anything by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Income School

These will give you things to listen to for years!

By the way, if you haven’t already, I would highly recommend subscribing to this blog as well! I will be constantly creating new content to help you grow and monetize the blog you just started.

Continue Getting to Know Your Target Audience

The better you know who you write for, the better you can serve people.

It’s that simple.

So, I would recommend regularly spending time in relevant groups on Facebook and Reddit. They’re goldmines to figure out what your audience needs.

Additionally, if you can get feedback from your readers that helps as well.

Daily Action is Key

This should be obvious.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were successful blogs.

There are some things that you should be doing every single day in order to grow your blog. The more consistent you are at doing this, the better!

Some things include::

  • Answering all comments people leave on your blog and social media
  • Content creation ( you don’t have to publish an article every day, but you should at least work on your content)
  • Content promotion
  • Improving your skills
  • Engaging in communities

I’ve written a full article on your daily to-do list as a blogger, including the how and why to do each of these activities.

So, just curious…

As I would like to get to know my readers, I’d like to ask a question:

You’ve been through this guide to start a blog, so I’m curious what topic are you going to be blogging about? Just leave me a quick comment below, and I’m looking forward to reading your response.

Also, if you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.

I read all comments and will answer your question either directly, or create a future article and video to answer your question.

Launch and Grow a New Blog
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