Have you wondered exactly how to start a blog? The difference in creating a blog and creating a successful blog has to do with the right strategy.
The process for how to start a blog can be overwhelming with so many different resources. The first step is to start treating your blog like a business or you’ll never make money (or get past blogging about your Starbucks pink drink).
Follow these 5 steps on how to start a blog:
- Validate Your Idea
- Create a Scalable Foundation
- Ready, Set, Launch
- Marketing Madness
- Get Paid
1. Validate Your Idea
Before you do anything to start a blog, check your mindset. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Being a single mom entrepreneur is insanely hard (psst that’s me by the way).
Launching a blog will take commitment. You need to show up every day and put effort into your blog if you want to make any real income from it.
Find Your Niche
Now that we got the pep talk out of the way and you’re all in, it’s time to come up with an epic business idea. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this something you are passionate about?
- Are people willing to pay for your product or service?
- How will your blog make money?
- Are you an expert and is this a topic you can teach others about?
If you need help narrowing down your niche start here.
Brainstorm a clear business name that communicates your what your business is all about. You can use your own name too!
I like to make a list of business names and float them by all of my friends. You could even make a poll in your favorite Facebook group asking for votes or recommendations.
Once you’ve decided on your business name make sure nobody else has your domain name – .com is still the most popular and will also serve as your business email address (keep that in mind).
Do a quick check on the latest social media sites for any potential conflicts. The last thing you want is to go through the process of incorporating your business and realize all your social media accounts with that name taken.
Decide a plan of action, one that is reasonable and you can stick with.
Are you going to continue working full time while you work your side hustle? Work while baby naps? Going all in full steam ahead and quit the 9-5? Whichever strategy you decide, consider your ramp-up time.
Have a realistic budget. It is incredibly cheap to start a blog… a domain name is under $10 and hosting you can get for under $4/month with Siteground. Now with that said, you will have other expenses.
Treat your blog like a business. That means, don’t skimp on tools and resources that will save you time and grow your business. We will cover more about these expenses later but being realistic means having more than just the $14 to get your site live.
2. Create a Scalable Foundation
There are three main areas of any business: accounting, operations and marketing/sales. As a small business owner, you’re probably doing all of these jobs (I know I am)! It is so important to have a structure that is scalable for your business.
Setting up your business foundation from the start will save you so much time and money.
Determine the right type of legal entity for your business. Options include Sole Proprietorship, LLC, S. Corp, Inc., among others.
If you decide on a Sole Proprietorship check with your Secretary of State about filing an Assumed Name Certificate (or Doing Business As form) as this may be required. You can do everything yourself by completing the proper forms and sending them to your Secretary of State.
If you need help, MyCompanyWorks is a company that can get everything set up for you in no time for a very reasonable fee.
Then, get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) — also called a Federal Tax Identification Number — it is how the IRS identifies your company.
Domain, Email, and Hosting
Purchase your domain name and set up your business email. I purchased both my domain and hosting through Siteground and my account came with multiple email addresses.
Hosting will depend on what type of site you are going to have. Keep in mind, this really depends on your skill set and what you are using the site for.
I highly recommend using WordPress.org to build your own website and use Siteground for your hosting. This is a somewhat technical route but there are so many themes that are drag and drop to help you. If you’re unsure, you can read this article How to Plan, Design, and Launch a Website in 3 Days.
With SiteGround there are a few different options to choose.
For starters, you can get the $3.95/month StartUp Plan it’s for 1 website, 10,000 page views per month and 10 GB of web space.
The other (secret) reason I love Siteground is that they will set up your WordPress for you if you ask their tech team. They will do a lot of extras you just have to ask.
This is a good time to put some good habits in place for file and task management. I use Google Drive for storing my files and Trello for task management.
How many times have you had to reset your password because you couldn’t remember it? You will have quite a few passwords to keep track of – social media accounts, accounting, hosting, and so on.
I recommend using LastPass. The free version works perfectly fine and you can upgrade at any time later if you want more premium services. I like the interface of this site best compared to other password management sites.
Set Up a Mailbox
It seems this is a step people skip in the process. It is entirely optional, and there is a cost involved, so if you have the strictest budget then you may skip this. However, I do think it’s very important so that’s why I am including it.
The cheapest option is usually a PO Box and that is fine for most communications. I’ve had a PO Box for my business and never had any issues at all.
Though I prefer to have a street address for my mailing address so I use iPostal1 for $9.99/month and they scan and email me copies of the mail I receive.
I encourage you at this point to decide on an accounting system. Since you already have expenses you want to keep track of these and maximize your deductions at tax time (your accountant will thank you for this).
The free option I am using is Wave Apps it works well for what you’ll need to start – a way to track expenses and hopefully income very soon. They offer a host of services for free: Accounting, Invoices, Payments, Payroll, Receipts, etc.
3. Ready, Set, Launch
To me, this is the fun part, making your vision a reality. I’m a huge fan of research. Find several brands and websites that have elements that are done really well. These do not necessarily have to be in your specific niche.
Look for things like use of color and imagery, writing tone, and ease of navigation for websites. Take good notes! I like to take screenshots of certain elements and save them in a folder called Inspiration.
Bring your brand to life with the right fonts, logos, voice, and tone. Build a beautiful brand identity with a brand board, logo, and social media images.
You can consider a brand as the idea or image people have in mind when thinking about a company. It is therefore not just the physical features that create a brand but also the feelings that consumers develop towards the company.
This combination of physical and emotional cues is triggered when exposed to the name, the logo, the visual identity, or even the message communicated.
Before you get your creative juices flowing, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What type of person is going to come to your website?
- What value are you going to offer to your audience?
- When someone is on your site what do you want them to do – i.e. gain knowledge, sign up for an offer, or utilize your services? The answer may be yes to all of these.
These answers should give you some direction on the type of website you need and you can choose a theme to start designing.
ThemeForest has a lot of options and numerous people recommend Divi. You can find themes for $50-$200, will save you a ton of time, and look very professional. A few tips for choosing the right theme:
- Make sure your website theme is mobile responsive. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites.
- Ask people for recommendations on themes they have used and have success with.
- Ones that have great support are very important.
You’ll be doing a ton of writing for your new business. While you’re writing, keep in mind your audience and write for them.
The goal of your content should be to help drive traffic to your website through SEO and, most importantly, solve a problem for your audience.
But you won’t be just writing blog posts. Your brand new website is going to need a strong call to actions and an about page (probably about you) at a minimum.
Don’t be scared to launch your blog with just one blog post. Make a schedule and stick to it. If you get stuck on what to write check out some blogs or businesses you admire and see what they are writing about.
You can get helpful ideas on Pinterest as well.
4. Marketing Madness
In case we aren’t virtual buddies yet, you may not know I spent over a decade working in corporate America as a Vice President of Marketing. But I was burned out on the long hours and always having to answer to someone else.
Here are some serious risk-free ways to explode your business.
Start Building Your Email List First
Yes, day one. Before you even go set up your new business Facebook page or write any more blog posts focus on this critical task. Three reasons you need a list:
- You own it
- Leads to profit
- It’s personal
Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Even with the explosion of new social channels and technology, marketers keep coming back to email.
The reason is clear–for ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.
I use, and love, ConvertKit as my email service provider.
ConvertKit helps you use that list to grow your business through attractive forms, trackable data, and simple but powerful automations. I grow my list by segmenting my subscribers by interests, send an automated email series, or even send a one-off email broadcast to everyone on my list.
If it sounds a little overwhelming don’t stress. Their support is awesome you can even chat with them live they will work through anything with you.
If you’d like to check out ConvertKit for yourself, click here! They have a very reasonable pricing structure that allows you to pay based on your number of subscribers. This is one area I highly encourage you to invest in up front.
If you’re a fresh new blogger keep the opt-in at the top of mind as you are creating your blog posts.
When you create a new post offer a content upgrade – an extra piece of information that you offer to your readers. Think of it as a mini-lead magnet. This is usually related to the post that they have just read.
Here are some ideas for content upgrades:
- Cheat sheets
- Swipe files
- Mini email course
If you have been blogging a while, but haven’t been growing your list, then find your top five blog posts and make a content upgrade for them. You can find this info in your Google Analytics account by looking at a pages report.
You need a way to capture the traffic on your website. There are various options including Sumo and OptinMonster. You can even use the pre-designed forms in ConvertKit.
I also am a huge fan of LeadPages.
If you’re just starting out consider this a splurge. You don’t have to have it right away. The reason I use two is that LeadPages gives me better conversion rates on my pop-up and I use it to create lead pages for my sales funnel.
It’s a good idea to first claim all of your social media channels. You don’t need to be active on all but it’s worth securing the name you want now so your branding is consistent (and someone else doesn’t swoop in and take your name).
It’s better to be present on 1-2 and make an impact versus spreading yourself thin on all of them.
With that, I have to say that Pinterest is a must have no matter what industry your business is in.
I recommend you join Facebook groups within your niche. It offers a collaborative environment with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
Often times groups have a share it days where you can share your latest blog posts or social media sites to help build an audience. I made a Facebook Groups promo spreadsheet – grab it for free.
There are various ways to get traffic to your site and using a combination of many will get the best results. A word of advice, master Pinterest first. Once you have that up and running then move on to layering in other traffic sources like Facebook, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.
Quick tips for getting to most traffic as possible:
- Create evergreen content
- Write catchy titles
- Optimize SEO & keywords
- Tailwind Tribes
- BoardBooster Tribes
5. Get Paid
There are a lot of ways to make money blogging and the reality is that if you just write posts it won’t pay the bills. The main four categories to make money blogging: advertising, affiliate marketing, services, and products.
The goal is to have multiple income streams with your blog.
The first thing that comes to mind is those websites that have annoying sponsored links all over (sidebar, in the post, footer, etc.). This is a form of advertising where you are paid on impressions or click-throughs.
Other ways you can get paid for advertising are through sponsored posts, product reviews, sponsored social content and so on.
I don’t recommend this when you are first starting out. It’s unlikely you will have high enough traffic to make it worth giving up valuable space on your website.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting someone else’s product or service. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale you make.
Wait, that sounds kind of like what you just said not to do in the previous section right? Err kind of but affiliate marketing is different.
Affiliate income is a great passive stream, and I think there are endless ways to incorporate it into your business model. Anytime you send traffic to an affiliate site (through your special link) and someone signs up, or purchases a product, you’re paid a commission.
Offering your services is a great starting point as a core model for income. This includes consulting, coaching, freelancing, graphic design, SEO, speaking, writing, and so on.
I like this method of earning income because you’re probably already doing this somewhere (either at your current job or as a hobby). My point is, there isn’t a huge learning curve. You’re passionate about it and you’re good at it, so it is a win-win.
Products (Physical + Virtual)
Naturally, this is just what it sounds like: you’re selling something (that is not your time) that can be either physical or virtual.
This is my favorite way to make money blogging, and it is one of the fastest ways to ramp up your income.
One of the major benefits of selling your stuff (i.e. your swag, designs, products, e-courses, etc.) is that you have complete freedom over what you produce.
Many products are “set it and forget it” that continue to earn you money over and over. You can reach way more people this way versus say one-on-one coaching.
Don’t be overwhelmed with how to start a blog. Keep blogging – It takes time to build your business. The best thing you can do is keep producing quality content even if you only have a handful of subscribers on your list.