10-Point Checklist for Starting a Successful Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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