Basic Blogging Questions
1. What is your niche or passion?
It’s common knowledge amongst the blogging community that you should always blog about something you know or something you’re passionate about. I mostly agree with this…mostly. If you never want to make money blogging then they’re right. Just go on with your passion and forget the rest. You’ll probably find a small following and hopefully have fun. But the reality, if you want to also make money (and possibly a living one day), is that you should blog about something that you know, like and are passionate about THAT IS PROFITABLE at the same time. I blog about many things. This site in particular I blog about expired domains and internet marketing and blogging because I know the subject and it’s also a profitable niche. So, put some serious thought into what you want your blog to be about and also whether or not making money with your blog is a priority.
2. Choosing a domain name
Choosing your domain name is important. The common thing to do is pick a domain name with a relevant keyword for your chosen niche. This is a good rule of thumb to go with. In the end though, it’s not the domain name that will matter as much as the content that you fill the blog with. So, it’s probably smart to go with a niche related word or phrase but don’t lose too much sleep over it.
3. What is hosting and where should you buy it?
So, you’ve chosen your niche and found a good domain name. Now the next course of action is going to be finding a reliable hosting provider. In my experience BlueHost the best and most reputable hosting provider in the industry, but if you are on a budget, see the list of other discount hosts.
4. How do I setup WordPress?
This is not as difficult as you might think. All hosts provide one-click setup tools to get WordPress installed really fast and easy.
5. What should I do first on my new blog?
Simply the first thing you should do on your blog is write-up and ‘About Me’ page. Anonymity is a cool thing to be able to have online but honestly… your readers want to know who you are and why you’re blogging. Even if it’s just a little introduction. After all, there really isn’t a need to write a full on biography.
Blog Design And Optimization
1. Choosing the right WordPress theme.
A blog’s theme is possibly the first key factor that matters to your readers. Especially your first time visitors. It’s going to automatically give them an impression of you and the choices you make as a blogger (namely how your blog looks). There is probably some debate out there about using free themes vs paid themes. My philosophy is this: a free theme is great to start with but as your blog becomes more successful you’re going to want to upgrade to a paid design. A free theme will never be as good as a paid theme. It’s just the nature of the beast. So, early on go ahead and make a careful decision because once your blog is up and running with readers coming and going you’re not going to want to be redesigning the site every other week.
2. Must-have WordPress plugins for your new blog.
If you’ve never heard what a plug-in is, then get used to the term. You’ll be using lots of plug-ins for your blog. A plug-in, in simple terms, is an external code/program that adds a specific function to your website or blog. Plug-ins are extensions onto the WordPress platform and your blog.
An example I could give you right here and now is that little floating bar to the left of this page. It has social buttons and follows you as you scroll up and down. That’s a plug-in called Digg Digg that allows my readers to easily share a post with a social network of their choice.
Because there are a gazillion different plug-ins it’s important to find the right ones.
3. Get Google Analytics ASAP.
Google Analytics is free service from Google that you should definitely get comfortable with if you’re at all interested in knowing your audience, checking the traffic of your blog and getting key performance information and analytics for your website.
4. Setting up Email subscriptions
Regardless of what you are blogging for or about, your ultimate goal of everything you do is the get traffic to your blog and convince your visitors to subscribe and/or follow you.
Most internet marketers choose to use a service called Aweber. I use MailChimp to automate newsletters, emails and worthy affiliate offers to my subscribers.
Google + SEO
1. Submit your new blog to Google.
Despite the fact that others don’t think this is important, I personally find it worth the effort. Google is indexing and dealing with billions and billions of pages, websites, and blogs every single day. Simply submitting your new blog to Google, which takes a minute or two of your time, is a no-brainer. You can do this here.
2. Permalink structure
This is something your average blogger will not even know about (I didn’t for a long long time). After all, it sounds pretty techy right? It’s really not that complicated though. It’s simply the way search engines and people with read/recognize your URLs throughout your website. It can harm your search engine rankings if you don’t deal with how this factor is set-up. A good way to fix this, and many other issues like it, is to get the SEO by Yoast plugin or the All-in-One SEO plugin. It might take a good 20-30minutes to get through all of the steps (not just permalinks) but it’s a one time think and well worth it if you want a better shot at getting on page one of the SERPs.
3. Write for both your readers and for the search engines.
This idea deals with things like post titles, sub-titles, using keywords where appropriate and a slew of other things you can learn over time to help the search engines decided what your articles are about and where they belong in search results.
Most of all though, and the thing that search engines want most, write great content for your readers. As important as things like post title are (and they are), you will always be rewarded for provided value to other people. Don’t underestimate that powerful fact!
4. Create a robot.txt file and a Sitemap… what’s that?
The purpose of making a robots.txt file is to improve your sites indexation by telling the search engines to only index your content pages and to go ahead and ignore other pages (like archives, categories or your admin folders). Not doing so could lead to the problem of duplicate content.
So robots.txt instructs the search engines which parts of your site to exclude from indexing, and a sitemap tells a search engine where you’d like them to go. From the perspective of the search engine a sitemap is useful for getting your site indexed in a more organized, and faster, manner.
If you’re using All-in-One SEO, it contains a Google Sitemaps Generator which you can activate and it will generate an XML-Sitemap supported by most search engines.
Promoting Your New Blog
1. Blog Commenting
What you basically do is find any blog that’s related to your new blog’s niche and try to add something constructive to the comments section of an article. You simply leave your blog’s or a subpage’s URL (note: not all commenting systems allow this but a good deal do) and the idea is that readers on a closely related blog with find your blog as a result.
2. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is another common and old school practice for bloggers. You simply contact another blogger and ask if they’ll let you write a guest post on their blog. If done right with a reputable blog you can see a big increase in your blog traffic and gain more subscribers and emails.
Not to mention that both you and your host will both gain a valuable link to and from your blogs.
3. Social Networking Is Becoming More Important Everyday
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many many many more are driving loads of traffic in ways a search engine just can’t replicate. The idea of mass sharing and viral marketing for your blog posts is enough to turn you into an overnight success, literally. The social networking game can become a big boost for your viewership.
One note about social networking traffic: It’s been proven time and again (I’ve experienced it myself) that social traffic does not convert to sales on your website very well. I won’t go into why because it’s too long a discussion but I thought I’d let you know that you should use social traffic for building your list.
4. Forum Posting
I feel I should mention this even though many forums these days having strict policies about posting links. Depending on your niche though you might have some luck.
One common approach to forum posting marketing is to answer problems that members have. Insert your links in your signature so that whenever someone is interested they can click over to your blog. The catch to get good amounts of traffic is to actually be a valuable member of the forum and not just a spammer (quickest way to get banned).
Making Money With Your Blog
1. Google Adsense
Google Adsense has been and still is the meat and potatoes of making money for most bloggers. It’s a simple plug-n-play advertising program that can easily run on any blog without much effort at all. Although it’s a common blog monetization choice, please keep in mind that without traffic, which is usually low when your blog is brand new, your earnings from Adsense could be pretty low. It’s potential for making you profits relies on a steady (hopefully large) stream of traffic.
2. Affiliate Programs
Although Adsense might be popular, I personally love this option and utilize it in favor of Adsense on a good deal of my blogs (this one included). Simply put, affiliate marketing is referral or commission based sales. You promote someone else’s product on your website and when the reader clicks your promotional link and purchases the product (they MUST purchase) you get a percentage of the sale.
If you’re looking for products and eBooks to sell on commission I would recommend starting with JvZoo or Clickbank for eBooks (Clickbank only sells electronic media products/services). There are a lot of other affiliate networks worth looking into but those are two of the largest and reputable for starters.
3. Sponsored Reviews
If writing is what you love to do (I’m assuming considering you’re going to become a blogger), then it only makes sense that doing a product or service review for someone can be quite lucrative as a source of income. All you need to do is try out and write an honest review for your readers and then get paid for it.
Word of warning though: it can be tempting to take money offers from someone to write a puffy review for their product. If the product sucks though, and you said it was great, you’re in danger of alienating your loyal readership. So, keep that in mind if you go down the sponsored review route.
4. Freelance Services
Depending on your blog’s niche you could easily offer some sort of service to your readers. It could be informational products you created or a product your designed. Lot’s of successful bloggers eventually write eBooks or offer courses in their niche. If you develop a strong following, then discover your audience’s problems and offer a solution in exchange for money. Most are happy to pay for a valuable solution to a problem. Keep that in mind when considering this money making method.
5. On-Site Direct Advertising
Lastly, you could easily sell ad space on-site directly to advertisers. This is often a monetization method that works best after you have an established blog.
Be aware that advertisers are investors who are only willing to spend money on a blog with good traffic and search engine rankings. They may also want to know things like your number of subscribers, traffic stats and other similar metrics to name a few.
- Choose your niche/passion and decide if you can make money as well as provide value to people.
- Pick a domain name and purchase hosting from a reputable company like BlueHost.
- Start working out your blog design and choose either a free theme or paid theme.
- Setup a service like Aweber for email lists and newsletters.
- Optimize your blog for Google (SEO Yoast) and add plugins of your choice (Recommended WP Plugins)
- Promote via blog comments, article marketing, guest blogging, social networks, forums, and writing valuable content.
- Monetize with Google Adsense, Affiliate Marketing, Sponsored Reviews, Freelance Services, or Direct Ads
A Final Word Before You Begin Your Blogging Journey
Setting a blog up is easy for the most part (I hope the above has helped), but what comes next is a whole different ball game. Blogging to success requires a great deal of patience, commitment, passion and a bit of technical know-how to see your blog through the ups and downs. Especially in the early days. It might feel like you are talking to yourself at first (and you probably are) but as time goes by and you stick with it… I promise that will pass.
You’ll begin to get comments, subscribers and maybe build a following on social networks. You’ll find new motivation as your readership increases. You might make some great contacts from other bloggers out there. You will really begin to care (and you should).
I called this article “The Definitive Guide To Starting A New Blog And Making Money With It”. But it’s not really ‘the definitive guide’. Let’s be honest, there is no ‘definitive guide to blogging’. Blogging is something you’ll figure out along the way. The point of this article was to give you a good start. To let you in on some of the prerequisites and know-hows of building a successful blog that I and others sort of had to figure out by trial and error.
So, hopefully I achieved that goal and added some value to your day. Best of luck to all of you in your future blogging adventures!