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10-Point Checklist for Starting a Successful Blog

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Blogging is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get on the internet. It’s also one of the most cost-effective. In short, all you need is a domain name, hosting and a quick install of WordPress and you are potentially on your way to starting a nice little hobby or side business for yourself. Still not sure if a blog is for you? Just check out the many benefits I’ve had since starting this blog back in 2007!

If you get a little lucky and put in the time and effort, you may end up creating a site that could make more money than your full-time job, and allow you to live the “laptop lifestyle”. While this dream is quite a dream for most people, finding success with blogging is definitely possible if you know what to do and look for.

Today we are going to break down a 10-step process for how to start your own blog, while also keeping the goal of making money with your site in mind. More specifically, these ten steps will be covering the foundation process and to make sure you have enough structure in place for long term success. While some of these points may seem basic, they are often overlooked and can lead to further disaster down the road when not set up correctly.

In addition to the many resources that can be found online, you can also check my latest blogging tips course on Udemy, which currently has over 10,000+ students and more than 100+ 5-star reviews. It’s definitely a great kick-start course to help you get your blog headed in the right direction within the next 30 days.

How to Start a Blog

Figure out the point of your blog.

With over a billion active sites on the internet and more than 300 million of them being blogs, it’s safe to say that anything you were thinking about blogging about is probably already being covered. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still start a blog… it simply means you should be thinking about why you are going to create one. Questions to ask yourself are, why are you creating your site, who is your target audience, how do you plan to make money with it and how will you stand out from the crowd. Knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will allow for faster success as you develop your blog.

Unique_Blog_Ideas

Create a persona

Starting a blog is easy, building a brand is not. To follow up on my previous point, with over a billion sites in the world today, you need to have a personal brand or persona for your site that helps it stand out from the crowd. Not only will associating a name and expertise with your site make it more personal, it will also grow your personal brand and reach in the process. If this is something you want to do as a real business and develop into something big, building out an established blog of your own is one of the best ways to do it.

Becoming_a_Top_Blogger

Choose a domain name.

The domain name for your site is how people are going to find you online — it’s essentially real estate on the internet. Just like you have a home address that no one else has, domain names are the same. Once they are gone, they are usually gone for good.

This is why it’s heavily recommended to always try and register and secure your personal name as a domain name (preferably .com). There are likely several other people in the world with the same name as you, and if your name as a domain is still available, go grab it as soon as possible. If you currently have a brand or business name, you should register that as a domain name as well.

Wordpress_and_Coding

Pick a hosting provider.

One of the first things you will need to do to get online, is to setup a web hosting account. For first-time site owners, this might seem quite confusing. All you really need to know is a web host stores your site data online, making it easy for people around the world to access your content. To find a hosting solution,  simply look up hosting reviews online to see what their customers say about them, then sign up for an account. Hosting usually costs less than $10 a month and some will even offer a domain name for free. When looking for a host, try to find one that also offers one-click WordPress installs.

Responsive_Blog_Design

Install a theme.

WordPress is the free software that is used to power the majority of blogs and sites on the internet today. As mentioned, most web hosts now offer the ability to install WordPress on hosting accounts for free. If you can learn how to use Microsoft Word, you should have no problems with WordPress.

One of the many perks of WordPress is not needing to touch any lines of code or programming to design your site. Instead, you can download and install WordPress themes. There are millions of themes to choose from, many of which are free. However, I personally use and recommend MyThemeShop as they have the best premium themes around.

Setting_Your_Blogging_Goals

Optimize your SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and that is how your site will rank in the search results. SEO comes down to many different factors, but site content, structure and linking are three of the most effective factors of it.

Again, WordPress makes the process of SEO on your site quite simple. Refer to this list of SEO tips for beginners to learn more about ranking your site in Google.

Blogging_Research

Write out a list of articles.

With most of your site foundation now in place, it’s time to start thinking about the content you are going to create. One important thing to remember is that longer content is more effective than short content. Many site owners and bloggers get this wrong. They think going live with a new 500+ word article every day will bring them traffic and success, but it won’t. Instead focus on creating a few 1,000+ articles per month, then spending the necessary time to promote each of them effectively.

In reference to what type of content you should be creating for your site, go back to the questions asked at the beginning of this article. Know what your audience wants, and provide it to the in the best way possible. Always put content value and user experience first.

Blog_Content_Writing

Create your first post.

The first post on your site is quite important and not one that should be taken lightly. Way too many bloggers will leave their first post as “Hello Word”, and not leave much content on it. Instead, delete this post and create a detailed 1,000+ word article that will provide value and act as a resource to your article. Even if only a handful of people are coming to your site when it’s soft-launched, you still want them to see something great. This first post should provide text, images, videos and shareable content such as infographics — all with the common goal of providing value and acting as the launchpad article for your site.

Blogging_Schedule

Create an editorial calendar.

If you are already having problems coming up with ideas for content for your site, you may be in trouble. However, remember how it was mentioned earlier that you don’t need to come out with a lot of content… but instead, just long form and great content. This will always be the case with online content.

For bloggers that have what seems like an endless amount of content ideas, setting up or writing out an editorial calendar is a great option. This will allow you to write out what content you want to go live with, and when. This will also help you come up with better ideas and a streaming flow of content so it comes out in the correct order. Along with content creation, make sure to also set up social promotions within your calendar as well.

Outreach_and_Promotion

Outreach and Promotion.

The last step in the foundation process is to make sure you focus on your outreach and promotion. It’s been mentioned several times now, but so many site owners and bloggers keep neglecting it. The success of your site will come down to the content you create and the promotion you put behind it. There is simply way too much content out there already, you need gain new backlinks and site mentions to stand above the crowd.

This can best be accomplished through organic SEO (going after long tail keywords), creating shareable content (like infographics) and contributing to other sites within your niche (through guest blogging).

Start Your Blog Today and Make Money Tomorrow

Yes, starting a blog is extremely cost-effective and easy, but actually making something out of it and earning a few dollars will take some work. Don’t look at the most successful bloggers in the world today and expect to see the same results overnight — or even within your first few months! This is a very competitive space and it takes a lot of time to compete and see growth.

Follow each of the ten steps listed above to build a solid foundation for your blog, which will allow it to continue to grow for many years to come.

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Blogging

Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Going on Right Now!

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Black Friday is always a great time to take advantage of the huge holiday sales rush. Not only is this true with retail locations, it’s also MASSIVE for online businesses and shopping as well.

To provide our audience with a selection of the best Black Friday offers on the market today, we’ve hand selected a few of the best out there. Not only are these tools that are trusted and used by thousands, they are also tools and solutions that we love and personally use daily.

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Discover how to start a profitable online business by mastering affiliate marketing, content creation, social media, paid search & more.

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Blogging.org University has created “The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing & Blogging” to make the concept of creating an online website, blog, brand, or business easy for anyone.

In these video sessions, industry expert Zac Johnson, will walk students through everything they need to know to create a successful and profitable blog online. Such topics include finding that perfect niche market, creating a site from scratch, how to make money with affiliate marketing, and much more!

And of course, all students get lifetime access to all course content, videos, and updates.

Online Coaching with Industry Expert Zac Johnson

Zac Johnson is the Founder of Blogging.org, and has been making money online with content and affiliate marketing for over 20 years now. Having first started making money online back in the mid-to-late 90s, Zac first found affiliate marketing success with Amazon.com, then started building out his own sites and ad campaigns.

Over the past two decade, Zac Johnson has lunched hundreds of websites, thousands of ad campaigns and has also taught his students how to make millions of dollars in the process.

The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing & Blogging” is simply one of the best courses for learning how to create a legitimate and profitable business on the internet, while also being 100% taught through lessons created by Zac Johnson himself.

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Blogging

Quick and Effective Tips to Maximize Speed of your Website or Blog

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Few things are worse than when you click over to a new website or blog, and then it’s loading slow as anything. With everyone having an extremely short attention span, and so many options for other websites and entertainment online, a fast loading website is a must for every blogger, brand, or business on the internet.

There are also many benefits associated with a fast loading site, beyond just user experience. Google is now penalizing sites that take too long to load, and boosting up other sites that a mobile-optimized and running super fast.

Depending on how technical your design or WordPress skills might be, the process of speeding up your site and maximizing it’s optimization might vary. To help with this process, I’ve listed a few of the best working methods below.

Optimize your Homepage to Load Quickly

With the homepage being one of the most vital parts of your website or blog, you should be doing everything possible to make sure it loads quickly. Different things can be done to speed up your homepage such as lowering the number of posts on the main page, minimizing applications and widgets from third-party sites, and also optimizing your images so they are either loading as a smaller sized file or through a CDN service. It’s also a good idea to use an SEO friendly theme or template, as these are more often cleaner with their coding and already optimized right out of the box.

Use an Effective Caching Plugin

If you are using a CMS like WordPress or blogger, then using an effective cashing plugin can contribute nicely in the process of making sure your site is loading as fast as possible. Since caching is an apparatus for a temporary storage of web pages to diminish bandwidth and to improve page loading performance as well, it saves the server’s time to make web pages load faster. Caching plugins are easy to install and use. All you need to do is perform some research online to see which plugin is best for your site, then click a few buttons to have it installed right within WordPress. Once this is done, it’s usually just a matter of copying the account number of your CDN and letting the hosting provider and WordPress plugin do its work.

Use CDN (content delivery network)

We’ve already referenced content delivery networks or CDNs, a few times now. The way these solutions work is that they host a version of your site on their server, and then loads the content from another server that is closest to that individual’s location. More and more site owners and bloggers are using CDNs not only to improve page load speed but to provide users with a great experience to make them stay longer on the website. Also mentioned earlier, this can help with how well a site ranks in Google, while also moving your site above the competition. Moreover, if one of your server locations is overloaded due to huge traffic and visitors, then users can automatically be switched to a new server location to enjoy fast loading website experience.

Improve Your Hosting Plan

If you have a slow loading website or blog, it’s likely due to your hosting plan. If you are pushing a lot of traffic through your site and making money in the process, you should definitely upgrade from a shared server. Shared hosting is often fine for new site owners and bloggers, but as your site gains more attention, backlinks, and traffic, it will also likely be using more server resource. On a shared server, your site is also sharing the server resources with many other sites — sometimes hundreds, or even thousands! Upgrading your hosting plan to a VPS or dedicated hosting package can greatly improve the performance of your site as well. So, if you are still using a cheap web hosting plan with an average price below $5/mo and receiving massive traffic from search engines, then it would be the right time for you to upgrade your hosting plan with a better one to speed up your website loading speed.

Use Optimized Images

Big images take up a lot of space and resources when it comes to loading data from your site. This is especially true with very high-quality images. While these images are going to play a big role in the beauty and engagement on your site, there are still ways to optimize such large images so they load faster and put less stress on your server. There are many plugins are available that can drastically reduce the file size of an image without reducing the quality. Image optimization will not only help you boost website load time but will also save disk space for more files and media. If you really don’t want to overload your website with plugins, then you can also use online image reducer apps and software to optimize image before uploading to the media library of the site.

Minimize HTTP Redirects Requests

How and where content is being loaded on your site can also affect its overall performance. You may need to use redirect requests to redirect the web browser from one URL to another. There are a variety of reasons as to why you might want to do this, such as to specify a new URL location, to track visits and clicks on the site or to connect different elements of the website with each other. Since redirects might be necessary to enhance overall UX of the website, you should only be using the redirect requests that are most important because excessive redirect requests can have an ultimate impact on the loading speed of your website/blog.

Don’t Leave Your Audience Hanging

When browsing the internet, few things are more annoying than accessing a slow loading website. It’s hard enough to get someone to visit your site, let alone stay for a few seconds. Don’t give them a reason to leave right away because your site isn’t loading as fast as it should be.

Follow each of the simple and effective site speed optimization tips above to make sure your site loads as fast as possible, ranks higher than the competition and also doesn’t disappoint your audience when they hit your site.

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Blogging

7 Examples of How to Rank Higher in Google for Your Name

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Your name is important and when someone searches for it online, you want to make sure they find your correct information. This isn’t just about reputation management, it’s also about looking your best and delivering a great first impression.

The key thing to remember here is no matter what someone is searching for online, they are likely going to start with a simple Google search. Since most people share their name with hundreds or even thousands of people in the world, having your content rank for your name might be quite a challenge. This is especially the case if you share a name with a popular celebrity, politician or well-known personality.

The good news is that when it comes to ranking for your name in Google, anything is possible. Implement each of the seven methods below into your content creation and marketing efforts to see your own site and content start ranking higher for your personal name.

Create a Website or Blog with YourName.com

The most effective way to rank in Google for your name is to simply create a website or blog and have the domain as your personal name. ZacJohnson.com is a perfect example of this.

It’s not just about creating a site and putting it out there, it’s also about making sure the site acts as your main hub for everything you do online. This means you should be creating original content for the site, linking to your social media profiles and also referencing back to your site when contributing to other sites or getting quoted/referenced.

zac_johnson_-_Google_Search

Once you have a platform in place, it’s something that will continue grow and develop with your personal brand over time — while also gaining in authority and SEO power as well.

Promote Your Social Profiles

Speaking of social profiles, Google loves to rank sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter right at the top of their search results. Depending on the competition around your name, your social profiles might already be ranking at the top of Google, even above your own websites.

You can see an example of what currently ranks in Google should you search for “Taylor Swift” below.

 taylor_swift_-_Google_Search

With millions of sites and new content pieces covering Taylor Swift every single day, it’s her social profiles (Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) that continue to dominate the search rankings.

This same method works for all names and not just celebrities. If you want your social profiles to rank higher, just keep sending more links to them using a variation of your name as the anchor text.

Boost Profiles and Authority Sites

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, ranking at the top of Google for your name is important if you want to deliver the best and most accurate information. If you are having trouble ranking your own site or want to focus on ranking other high authority content in addition to your own, this is a perfect option to explore.

For example, let’s take a look at Warren Stephens, who is an entrepreneur and has multiple bios and articles written about him online. His Wikipedia profile ranks first, then a bio on Forbes and another based around “Warren Stephens net-worth” on TheRichest. While Wikipedia and Forbes are both mega-huge outlets, TheRichest is still quite powerful to be ranking number three for his name.

Warren_Stephens_-_Google_Search

Celebrity networth sites have quickly been gaining more and more attention lately as they continue to ramp up the number of celebrities, entrepreneurs, and well-known personalities they continue to cover. Even if you don’t think your one of the most famous people in the world, your profile could soon quickly be picked up by their platforms and covered in the media.

Just while doing a quick search through their Google listings I was able to easily find thousands of entrepreneurs including Kevin Harrington and Gary Vaynerchuck.

Celebritynetworth_-_Google_Search

How long before we see these “networth” sites ranking on the first page for many average individuals, YouTube stars and entrepreneurs?

Guest Blogging and Author Profiles on Other Sites

While you might already have a site of your own that is ranking well for your name, it’s always a good idea to try and rank for multiple positions with other relevant content. If you are an expert in your industry, a great way to secure even more page one rankings for your name is to contribute content to other high-authority sites.

We can see this working extremely well for Neil Patel, who is a well-known entrepreneur and marketer through his blogs at QuickSprout.com and NeilPatel.com.

Not only does Neil have his own sites, he is also a contributor to many big media outlets like Entrepreneur.com and HubSpot.com. Doing a quick search for his name in Google will result in not only his main sites and social profiles ranking for his name, but also each of these contributing bios on other sites as well.

neil_patel_-_Google_Search

Once again, a perfect example of how you can deliver a great first impression (and your best content) when someone searches for your name on Google.

Rank with Other Content Sharing Sites

As covered in a few of the examples above, a great way to quickly rank at the top of Google for your name is to do so with other well-established sites. In this example, we are going to look at Jeff Bullas, who is one of the most well-known bloggers and social media influencers in the world today.

His site at JeffBullas.com already ranks number one for his name, then his social profiles follow afterward. However, when you move further down the list you will see his profiles with SlideShare.net and WordPress.com also make it on the first page of Google.

jeff_bullas_-_Google_Search

Even though Slideshare and WordPress.com are two extremely popular sites, not many people consider them when trying to rank for multiple positions for their name. These are definitely two free options everyone should consider when trying to dominate the whole first page of Google for their name.

Do Interviews and Media Outreach

A common theme in this article has been the power of using authority sites and media outlets to quickly rank at the top of Google. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through interviews and getting mentioned or covered by relevant industry sites that rank well.

A quick example of this can be seen if you search for my name in Google. A few years ago I was interviewed for IncomeDiary.com, and that post still ranks extremely well for my name today.

zac_johnson_interview_-_Google_Search

The same holds true for even big name celebrities or entrepreneurs who do interviews or get covered for stories based around their success and fame. If you do a search for “Lori Greiner” of Shark Tank, you will see interview-based stories from BusinessInsider.com, Inc. and Entrepreneur.com all ranking on the first page for her name.

Lori_Greiner_-_Google_Search

Not sure how to get media coverage on sites like Entrepreneur or Inc? Simple… just look for the author bio section in each article. Share their content, build up a relationship and maybe your story is a perfect fit for their next article.

Don’t Forget About the Power of Video

Video is a fascinating beast in itself, yet one that is often overlooked by content creators that mainly focus on “text” based articles.

Here’s two quick things you need to know about video.

  1. People love to share and reference videos
  2. Google loves to rank video since they own YouTube

Now that you know that, you should definitely be using video in your content outreach and SEO practices.

It’s also not just YouTube video that ranks well either. Sites like Vimeo and DailyMotion rank very nicely as well.

Still not sure how effective video ranking can be? Richard Branson is one of the most well-known and successful entrepreneurs in the world, with billions of searches for his name annually. With all of that competition in play, do you think a video would rank for his name on Google? — The answer is yes, and even more surprising… it’s not even a YouTube video!

richard_branson_-_Google_Search

Don’t Just Rank #1 — Rank for All Ten!

The ultimate goal for everyone trying to rank in Google for their name shouldn’t be to just grab that elusive number one position, but instead to rank for multiple (if not all) page one locations.

Run through the above seven working methods again and see what type of content you may already have ranking in Google. It’s much easier to improve your rankings with any existing content that you already have ranking on page 2 or 3 pushed to page 1, versus trying to come up with new and original content of your own.

In the world of SEO and ranking at the top of Google, it’s all about getting your content in the right places and building authority links and references around them

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