Audio Version [click the globe to change language]
Starting a blog is the start of something big, if you get it right.
Blogging full time and providing for yourself and your family is one of the main outcomes of running a successful blog, and that’s a worthy goal. A successful blog provides you with the means to be your own boss, work in your own time, and do something you really enjoy.
It’s almost like stepping out of the rat-race. And so, it’s hardly surprising then, that so many people start blogs.
Sadly, many of those people give up blogging not long after having started.
And here’s the reason…
There’s a right way and a wrong way to start a blog.
How do I know? because I started half a dozen blogs over the years, before this blog, and all those previous blogs were epic failures.
I was one of those bloggers who gave up. Several times, in fact.
So here’s the deal:
In this post I’m going to cover a bunch of tips, tricks and actionable steps you can follow to start your own blog. These are the things I wish I’d known back when I was starting those other blogs.
I’m going to start by covering the basics and answering some of the most common questions before starting a blog in order to remove the fear and procrastination that some would-be bloggers experience in the beginning.
- 0.1 Becoming a blogger
- 0.2 How can I start blogging and make money quickly?
- 0.3 Choose a good niche
- 0.4 Research your topics and find those with potential search volume
- 1 The 3 keys to get started blogging
- 1.1 Step 1: setting up your blog
- 1.2 Step 2: start publishing content
- 1.3 Step 3: Start Promoting Your Content
- 1.4 Here’s how to quickly check if a username is available on all social networks
- 1.5 What to do if your blogging efforts are not paying off
- 1.6 Should I start a new blog or buy a mature one?
- 1.7 Should I start a blog or is it hard?
- 1.8 Are there risks and legal issues I need to be aware of when blogging?
- 1.9 Do I have to use my real name to blog?
- 1.10 How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Infographic
Becoming a bloggerThe purpose of starting a blog ultimately is to be successful with it. The trick is deciding what that success looks like for you.Click To Tweet
The first important thing that many beginners miss is purpose. You need to have a purpose behind wanting to start a blog.
Below are some reasons for becoming a blogger:
- to make money
- to start blogging again (for example, after a failed previous attempt)
- to get paid (e.g. earn money from sponsors for displaying ads)
- to start getting followers and grow your online presence
- to promote your company or business
whether you want to make money or grow an audience,
This is not a judgemental process: if you want to start a blog to make money, then that’s as good a reason as any. It just helps to have a defined purpose, because that enables you to have direction and work toward a specific outcome.
So while we’re on this subject of money, let’s tackle the question, since it’s probably fair to assume that most if not all blogger want to be able to earn from their blogging efforts.
How can I start blogging and make money quickly?
A blog that makes money is a blog that pays the bills.
Now, to make money from your blog, you must have a blog that gets visits. The more the better. And those visits cannot be fleeting visits, they need to spend some time on your pages, consuming your content.
Therefore, you need to produce decent content. The better your content, the better your on-page time. It’s the basic foundation of a popular blog.
Here are the main points to creating a blog with monetary potential:
- choose a niche that has money to spend and is willing to spend it (e.g. golf)
- choose the right platform (more on this coming up)
- publish great content that generates traffic and engages your audience
- monetize your blog with relevant offers or ads
That’s what it takes to build and grow a blog that pays. How easy or how hard you find this will depend on:
- your topic
- your market
- your competition (i.e. your ability to gain exposure in your market)
- your ability to publish relevant and quality content that engages your audience
- your ability to promote your content well
Choose a good niche
Another factor that’s key in your ability to monetize your blog is the topic of your blog. Some niches are made up of people who don’t spend money, and some are made up of big spenders.
When it comes to your topic, here’s my guide on how to choose a profitable niche.
Research your topics and find those with potential search volume
In order to drive traffic to your blog, there must be a demand (i.e. search volume) for the things you write about.
A big mistake many newbie bloggers make is to write about what they think is cool. This is a recipe for disaster. You must always write about what the audience wants. If that happens to be what you want to write about, then consider that a bonus.
So how do you find topics to write about?
Essentially, this boils down to keyword research. Now, when it comes to keyword research, don’t get too caught up in the numbers, because the fact is that the traffic volumes you see when using keyword tools are estimates, not real numbers.
Google doesn’t make search volumes public, and that means that everybody else is guessing.
The idea with keyword research is to discover topics that people are searching for. You’re not going to know just how many people are searching for any one topic, but you need to make a decision on the data you see (i.e. if the keyword tool shows searches) and go with your gut feeling.
Ultimately, you want to right topics that have potential search volume.
Here’s my guide on keyword research.
Now let’s look at more actionable items you can start with:
The 3 keys to get started blogging
The 3 keys are:
- set up your blog
- start publishing content
- start promoting your content
Those are the key things to getting started. I left monetization out on purpose because that’s not something you normally implement in the beginning.
I’ve also left out mindset stuff, because frankly, I could have come up with 21 keys to getting your blog started. But when you strip away all the noise, those 3 things are the nuts and bolts of it all.
So let’s start looking at each step:
Step 1: setting up your blog
You have 2 choices my friend, when it comes to setting up your new blog:
- the free way
- the self-hosted way
This is where we talk about blogging platforms and hosting. Let’s just agree that WordPress is the platform of choice (trust me on this).
When it comes to the self-hosted solution, here’s what you need:
- A domain name
- WordPress (the best platform for many reasons)
- a good host (here’s my recommended hosting)
- You’ll also want to optimise WordPress to make sure you have a spiffingly fast site
Step 2: start publishing content
How often, I hear you say. Are 30 minutes a day enough? What about 1 hour a day?
What are you, a part-timer?
If you want a successful blog, a blog that can earn you money and pays the bills, then be prepared to publish as often as you can when you’re getting started.
It’s not about time – it’s about content. Do you think it took me only 30 minutes to write this? (I wish!)
That said, don’t beat yourself up if you start to fall behind your schedule. Just get back on the proverbial horse and keep going.
Let me add something here: there isn’t really a magic number when it comes to posting frequency. You can post 3 times a week if that makes you happy, or even once a week. But if you want success fast, then you have to consider the math:
- 3 posts per week x 1 year = 121 posts
- 1 post per day x 1 year = 365 posts
- the more targetted posts you have ranking, the more traffic you have
At this point you need to consider how you define success. What does success look like to you? Is a blog with lots of traffic success? If it is, then accept that the less you post, the longer it will probably take you to generate the level of traffic that you want.
If you know how to research topics and find the right keywords, and are fortunate enough to be targeting searches that do not have lots of competition so that you’re able to rank fast, you could conceivably generate lots of traffic in a short period of time, with a bit of content.
But I’m trying to cater to the masses here. If you’re starting out, and SEO is not your game (yet) then the general rule is going to be the more posts you have, the more potential traffic you’re going to generate, so the more you post, the faster you achieve that.
Now, about the content itself: try to publish good, solid, quality content. I’m sure you noticed that I used 2 related synonyms there, so I really only said one thing: quality. The point I was trying to make is that your content has to feel like good content, or solid, or quality, to you, and then hopefully to your readers.
Just remember that quality is subjective.
But don’t let this stuff overwhelm you. That’s what this guide is for – to cut through the noise.Forget about perfection - you don't plan that, that comes with time and practice.Click To Tweet
Pleasing everybody is impossible, so your best bet is to find the people you can help most. I imagine I pissed a few people off back at the start when I said pretty plainly that if you want to make money blogging quickly you better buy a successful blog or be prepared to work very quickly.
The irony is that that sentence was excellent advice. But it doesn’t sound like a magic button and it doesn’t sound easy. But if you made it this far, then that’s all that matters.
So, to recap: all you can do is do your best and do it consistently, and aim to help your intended audience.
Step 3: Start Promoting Your Content
This is the last piece of the puzzle in terms of getting started along your blogging career.Promotion is key. If your content isn't finding eyeballs, then your blog isn't getting traffic, and that is the lifeline of a blog.Click To Tweet
Now, here’s an interesting point: back in the early days before social media was even a ‘thing’, you would craft content around a topic or keyword and get exposure as a result of that content ranking. In other words, unless you had some SEO sense about you, you were potentially screwed right from the onset.Today, you can publish a piece of content and be clueless about SEO, then promote that content to thousands of people on social media and get a decent amount of traffic to your blog! That's amazing.Click To Tweet
Having been there, ranking pages back when Google wasn’t even around, I’m blown away by the opportunity that this presents. My mum could get traffic to a blog if she wanted to, just by tweeting about her content!
You should embrace this opportunity and leverage the hell out of it.
If you haven’t yet, set up the following:
- any other social network that is relevant right now
And start promoting your content. Find ways to promote yourself without pissing people off. Be cool. Share stuff. Give value. Then promote. But promote value.
Then rinse and repeat. Over and over.
Just remember the formula: start, publish, promote.
Here’s my guide on getting traffic to your blog.
And a quick video to help you with some traffic generation ideas:
Now, when it comes to creating accounts in the different social media platforms, you can spend a long time (like I did) signing up to various and then discovering that your username is not available on one platform.
That’s seriously frustrating. So let me share a tool with you that you can use for free to check your username across multiple social media platforms at once.
Now, once you get started, you will probably have days where you fill with doubt and maybe even regret.
Let’s consider the unthinkable:
What to do if your blogging efforts are not paying off
Define paying off. What did you want your blogging efforts to yield? Get a clear picture of that answer in your mind. What did you actually want to happen.
Then comes the hard questions:
- did you work on it as hard as you possibly could?
- did you give it your all?
- did you publish quality content daily, or frequently enough?
- did you stay up late promoting your content instead of watching tv?
- did you spend time every evening looking for new creative ways to promote your content?
- did you invest in your education and spend time observing and studying successful bloggers in your niche?
I’ve yet to meet somebody who could tick all the boxes and say they truly tried. However, that’s not to say that you can’t throw the towel in if you decide that the topic was not right.
As I mentioned earlier, I gave up on a lot of blogs over the years. But I didn’t give up on myself. I came back. I’m here now, blogging. And kicking you up the butt to get blogging too.
I’m telling you that it’s Ok to fail, but don’t be the person that blames other factors for that failure. I accepted my failures and then got up and tried, and each time I tried harder.
In hindsight, some of the previous blogs I started could have worked. I was simply at stage 1, and I was not putting in the work required.Let me end this by giving you one piece of advise that I think makes a huge difference: choose a topic you enjoy, because that will make your work enjoyable.Click To Tweet
Now, there are countless questions around the topic of starting a blog that are also worth considering.
Let me list a few:
Should I start a new blog or buy a mature one?
Another alternative is not to start a new blog and instead, buy a successful blog that already generates a monthly income. If that sounds like something you want to do, you can try your luck on Flippa.
If you’re blessed with a little more patience, then just focus on building your blog following the above points and have a plan for monetizing your audience when you hit a point where you’re getting traffic.
Should I start a blog or is it hard?
There’s procrastination and fear and confusion all wrapped into that question.
The ‘is it hard’ part of the question sounds like somebody whining before the work has begun. Nobody said creating a successful blog was easy. If you want success, be willing to earn it. Put in the work – whatever it takes – to build a quality blog you can be proud of, and success will come as a byproduct of that.
Are there risks and legal issues I need to be aware of when blogging?
I’ve seen this question more than a few times in forums, so I want to at least acknowledge it.
Is there a risk? Well, it’s not going to explode, so that’s one thing. A risk could be carpal tunnel, I suppose, and eye strain.
But seriously, if you’re talking about incarceration then my first question would be: what on Earth are you planning to blog about!
But I do get that some parts of the world are piss pot crazy, and if you’re in one of them, then I honestly can’t tell you what the risks for you are.
There have been political bloggers who have been ‘done away with’ after blogging about controversial topics and people in power. If that’s the kind of blog you want to run, then there’s no advice I can give you regarding your personal safety.
The legal issues on the other hand are always going to be down to where you are and what’s allowed there (and what isn’t).
As they say in the back-covering community: seek legal advice.
I live in the UK and so far I think we’re good to blog.
Do I have to use my real name to blog?
Another question I sometimes see is whether starting a blog under a pseudonym is OK. Well, you can call yourself whatever you like, of course!
Here’s my infographic showing the process in a nutshell:
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Infographic
How to use this infographic on your own site or blog:
- visit Slideshare by clicking here
- in Slideshare, click on the Share button at the bottom of the infographic to get the embed code, like this:
This post took a long time to type. But I enjoyed the process. I’m also excited at the prospect that you may land on this page and read it, laugh, make some mental notes and feel like you now have the tools to start blogging.
Go for it, my friend. I’m with you.