Home » How To Start a Blog in 2021 (Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide)

How To Start a Blog in 2021 (Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide)

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Want to know how to start a blog in 2021? Good. You have come to the right place. Here I will walk you through the process step-by-step to help you start blogging; from choosing a domain name and web hosting, installing WordPress, launching your blog to showing you how to grow your following!

Starting a blog ⇣ can change your life.

It can help you quit your day job and work when you want from wherever you want and on whatever you want.

And that’s just the beginning of the long list of benefits blogging has to offer.

It can help you make a side income or even replace your full-time job.

And it doesn’t take much time or money to maintain and keep a blog running.

how to start a blog

My decision to start blogging came from wanting to make extra money on the side of my day job. I didn’t have a clue what to do, but I decided to just get started, bite the bullet and learn how to start a blog with WordPress and just get posting. I thought, what do I have to lose?

tweet

Click here to jump straight to step #1 and get started now

Unlike when I got started, today it’s easier than ever to start a blog because it used to be a pain having to figure out how to install and set up WordPress, configure web hosting, domain names, and so on.

But here’s the problem:

Starting a blog can still be difficult if you have no idea know what you are supposed to do.

There are so many things to learn including web hosting, WordPress, domain name registration, and more.

In fact, most people get overwhelmed in only the first few steps and give up the whole dream.

When I was starting out, it took me over a month to build my first blog.

But thanks to today’s technology you don’t have to worry about any of the technical details of creating a blog. Because for less than $10 a month you can have your blog installed, configured and ready to go!

And if you spend 45 seconds right now and sign up for a free domain name and blog hosting with Bluehost to get your blog all set up and ready to go, then you’ll be able to take action at every step along the way of this tutorial.

To help you avoid dozens of hours of hair pulling and frustration, I have created this simple step-by-step guide to help you start your blog.

It covers everything from choosing a name to creating content to making money.

If this is the first time you are starting a blog, be sure to bookmark this page (as it's looong and full of information) and come back to it later on or whenever you get stuck.

Because here I’m going to teach you everything you need to know (information I wish I had when I started) when it comes to learning how to start a blog from scratch.

📗 Download this epic 30,000+ word blog post as an ebook

Now, take a deep breath, relax, and let’s get started …

📗 Download this epic 30,000+ word blog post as an ebook

Before I dive into this guide, I think it’s important to address one of the most common questions I get, which is: how much does it cost to start a blog?

Cost of starting, and running, your blog

Most people wrongly assume that it would cost them thousands of dollars to set up a blog.

But they couldn't be more wrong.

Blogging costs grow only when your blog grows.

Starting a blog doesn't have to cost more than $100.

But it all comes down to factors such as your level of experience and how big of an audience your blog has.

If you are just starting out, your blog will have no audience at all unless you are a celebrity in your industry.

For most people who are just starting out, the cost could be broken down as such:

  • Domain Name: $15/year
  • Web Hosting: ~$10/month
  • WordPress Theme: ~$50 (one-time)
If you don't know what these terms mean, don't worry. You will learn all about them in the next sections of this guide.

As you can see in the above breakdown, it doesn't cost more than $100 to start a blog.

Depending on your needs and requirements, it can cost upwards of $1,000. For example, if you wish to hire a web designer to do a custom design for your blog, it will cost you at least $500.

Similarly, if you wish to hire someone (such as a freelance editor or writer) to help you write your blog posts, it will add up to your ongoing costs.

If you are just starting out and are concerned about your budget, it does not have to cost you more than $100.

Remember, this is only the startup cost for your blog.

Once your blog is up and running, it will cost you less than $15 a month to keep it going. That's like 3 cups of coffee a month. I'm sure you can muster up the willpower to give that up.

Now, something you need to remember is that the costs of running your blog will increase as the size of your blog's audience increases.

Here is a rough estimate to keep in mind:

  • Up to 10,000 Readers: ~$15/month
  • 10,001 – 25,000 Readers: $15 – $40/month
  • 25,001 – 50,000 Readers: $50 – $80/month

The running costs of your blog will rise with the size of your audience.

But this rising cost shouldn't worry you because the amount of money you make from your blog will also rise with the size of your audience.

As promised in the introduction, I will also teach how you can make money from your blog in this guide.

1. Pick your blog's name and domain

This is the fun part where you get to choose what you want your blog's name and domain name to be.

Your blog's domain name is the name people type in their browser (such as JohnDoe.com) to open your website/blog.

This is an important step because once your blog starts gaining traction, it can be really difficult to change the name to something different.

So, it's very important that you come up with and choose the best name possible for your blog from the beginning of your blogging journey.

If you are starting a personal blog, you can choose to blog under your own name.

But I don't recommend it as it limits the growth opportunities for your blog.

What do I mean by that?

If you launch a blog called JohnDoe.com, it will be weird and funny for you to allow other people to write for your blog as it is your personal blog.

Another problem is that you won't be able to turn it into a real business if that's what you are hoping for. Selling products on a personal domain name feels a little odd.

If you can't come up with a good name for your blog, then don't blame yourself. It's difficult even for the blogging pros.

There are a few different ways you can come up with a good name for your blog:

What do you want to blog about?

Are you interested in starting a travel blog?
Or do you want to teach guitar lessons online?
Or are you starting your first Cooking blog?

Whatever topic you may choose to blog about is a good contender for inclusion in the name of your blog.

The easiest way to do this is to attach your name at the beginning or end of the topic of your blog. Here are a few examples:

  • TimTravelsTheWorld.com
  • GuitarLessonsWithJohn.com
  • NomadicMatt.com

The last one is a real blog by a travel blogger named Matt.

What is the benefit?

What is the benefit your blogging topic offers?

Reading a blog almost always results in something. It could be information, news, how-to knowledge, or entertainment.

Whatever the benefit your blog offers, play around with a few word combinations that include blog's benefit.

Here are a few examples:

All five of the above examples are real blogs.

If you blog about products, then there are benefits of giving your readers reviews before they buy a product.

Here are a few blogs doing reviews:

What are the components of a good name?

Break down your blogging topic into subtopics and think about what makes up the topic as a whole.

For example, Nat Eliason named his tea blog Cup & Leaf which aptly defines what the blog is about and is a great brand name at the same time.

If you are starting a personal finance blog, then think about what the frequently used personal finance words are such as Balance Sheets, Budgeting, Savings, etc.

Try making a list of words that are associated with your blog's topic. Then, mix and match the words until you come up with something you like.

Still can't come up with a good name?

If you still can't come up with a good name for your blog, here are some name generator tools to help you out:

These domain name generators will help you brainstorm blog names that also have a domain name under the exact same name available.

Some tips on choosing the perfect domain name for your blog:

  • Keep it short and simple: Keep your blog's domain name as short as possible. It should be easy for people to remember and type in their browser.
  • Make it easy to remember: If your name is boring or too long like mine, try thinking of a blog name that's easy to remember and catchy. A good example is NomadicMatt.com. It's a travel blog run by a blogger named Matt.
  • Avoid cool/creative names: Don't try to be cool with your domain name. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have a cool name but that doesn't mean you should try to sound cool in your domain name. If your preferred domain name is not available, don't try to replace letters with numbers and worst of all, don't drop characters. If JohnDoe.com is not available, don't go for JohnDoe.com
  • Go with a .com domain name: Most people simply don't trust your website if it's not a .com domain. Although there are lots of different domain name extensions available such as .io, .co, .online, etc., they just don't carry the same ring as a .com domain. Now, the important thing to remember is that this isn't something to get hung upon. If your favorite domain name's .com version is not available, then feel free to go for some other domain extension. But your first choice should be a .com domain name.

Register your blog's domain name before someone else steals it

Now that you have a name in mind for your blog, it's time to register your domain name before someone else does.

There are a lot of domain registrars out there who offer cheap domain name registration like GoDaddy and Namecheap.

But do you know what beats cheap? A free domain name!

Rather than paying $15 a year to renew your domain, you should buy web hosting from a provider that offers a free domain such as Bluehost.com.

Check out my guide on how to get started with Bluehost and get your blog created.

In the next step, you will learn how to register a domain name for free when buying cheap web hosting.

2. Find a web hosting provider

Every website is hosted on a web server. When you open a website, your browser connects to the webserver it is hosted on and retrieves the page contents of the page you requested.

When you start a blog, you need to buy a website hosting service from a web hosting provider. Web hosting providers simply offer you some space for your website on their server for a small charge.

When someone tries to open your blog, their browser will have to connect with your webserver to download the contents.

In the next section, you will learn what you should look for in a web host:

What to look for in a web host

  • Security – According to Succuri, on average 30,000 websites are hacked every day. And that number is growing every year. If you care about cybersecurity and don't want your website to get hacked, only host your website with established web hosts that have made a name for themselves in the industry.
  • Speed – If the server your website is hosted on sucks, then your website's loading speed will suffer. Remember, no one wants to wait for a website to load. Only host your website with web hosts who optimize their servers for speed.
  • Reliability – If your website's server goes down as soon as someone big in your industry shares your article on Twitter, then you might lose your moment of growth. Established web hosts monitor their web servers 24/7 and fix them as soon as something goes wrong.
  • Ease of use – A good web host should be easy to use and should make it easy to install and get started with WordPress.
  • Support – Unless you like talking to outsourced support representatives in India who take an hour to even understand your problem, go with a web hosting provider who is known for their support team's performance.

Now, I know it's a lot to look at when considering a web hosting provider.

So, to help you avoid the confusion and remove this roadblock on your journey to blogging stardom, I have narrowed the list down to just one web host.

Bluehost.com

bluehost
  • Powering over 2 million websites & blogs.
  • Strong uptime record (+99.99%).
  • Fast average load times.
  • Good, helpful and quick customer support.
  • Recommended by WordPress.org.
  • Your blog comes pre-installed, configured & ready to go.
  • Free domain name is included.
  • Cheap monthly pricing (and a 30 day money back guarantee).
  • For more information read my review of Bluehost.
I highly recommend that you go with Bluehost as your blog's web hosting provider. They are known in the industry for their exceptional support team. You can reach their in-house support team 24/7 via email, phone, and live chat.

Not only that, but their services also are super-reliable and are trusted by some of the most popular bloggers on the planet. Bluehost reportedly hosts over 2 million websites on their servers.

bluehost homepage

Bluehost is also the #1 recommended web host by WordPress.org. (Over 30% of the websites on the Internet run on WordPress.)

The best part about going with Bluehost is that their plans are highly affordable even for people who are just starting out. Their plans start at only $2.95/month. That's one of the best web hosting deals you can get.

The main reason I recommend going with Bluehost is that they recently launched a service called Blue Flash. It's completely free for all new customers.

bluehost blue flash
Blue Flash – Free WordPress expert help & WordPress setup service

Once you start paying for a web hosting plan, Bluehost's team will guide you through the whole process of launching a blog. They will answer any and all questions you might have. They also offer tutorials and information for beginners who are just starting out.

Once you sign up with Bluehost, you can use their free Blue Flash service to set up a blog within seconds that is fully configured.

With Bluehost's Blue Flash service, you can start blogging within minutes without any technical know-how. All you have to do is fill out a few form fields and click a few buttons to have your blog installed and configured in less than 5 minutes.

Bluehost is an excellent web hosting choice, but if you want to research competitors, then here is a great rundown of some of the best alternatives to Bluehost.

3. Choose a blogging software (CMS)

When starting your blog, you will have to decide a blogging software (also called content management system – CMS) for your blog. A CMS is where you manage your website and the content that is displayed on it.

Simply put, the CMS you choose will help you write, draft, and publish blog posts on your blog. A CMS is a bit like Microsoft Word but for publishing content on the Internet.

How your blog works and what it looks like will depend on what CMS software you use to run your blog.

There are literally thousands of CMS software/blogging platforms out there. Some of them are completely free (such as WordPress), others can cost literally thousands of dollars every month.

Although choosing a CMS software may sound like a really difficult task, it's actually not that difficult if you know the pros and cons of the many different platforms available.

If you are just starting out, I recommend not wasting time comparing different blogging platforms. There are too many of them out there and finding the perfect one will take hours of learning how they work.

cms market share

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). WordPress powers 40% of all the websites on the web. And if you limit the data to websites only using a CMS, then WordPress's market share is 64.7%.

I recommend going with WordPress. And there are a lot of reasons for it. Here below I'm going to list the main reasons why you need to start a WordPress blog.

What is WordPress and why it's the best blogging platform

WordPress is a content management system designed to be used by anyone and everyone. To use WordPress, you don't need a Masters Degree in Computer Algorithms.

With WordPress, you can get your blog up and running within minutes.

To run a blog on your domain name, you need to have a CMS installed on your website's server. The CMS then allows you to easily create and manage the content you wish to publish on your website.

A CMS such as WordPress is the pre-condition for your blog to exist.

Unlike most content management systems on the market, WordPress is open-source. That means, you can do whatever you want with it. Most CMS software limits what you can and cannot do.

The best part about choosing WordPress is not that it's completely free but that it's used by over 30% of the websites on the Internet making it one of the most popular blogging software on the Internet.

WordPress is supported and actively developed by a community of programmers and designers.

Now that you know what WordPress is, here are some of the reasons why you should go with WordPress and why I love it:

Made with beginners in mind

WordPress is designed to be used by everyone from beginners to expert programmers. That means it's super easy to use and managing it doesn't require much knowledge.

Not only that, but there's also a ton of information on the Internet about WordPress.

If you have a question about configuring WordPress or customizing it, chances are the question has already been answered a hundred times on the Internet and the answer is just a Google search away.

Security and reliability

WordPress is an open-source software developed by programmers around the world. If the community finds a security loophole in the software, it is fixed within a day or two.

Because WordPress is the most used blogging platform on the Internet, big corporations (e.g. New York Times, BBC America & Sony Music) use it and some of them donate resources to help develop and improve the software.

Extensibility

WordPress community has a lot of plugins to offer that can extend the functionality of your website with just a few clicks.

These plugins can help you do anything you want with your WordPress blog.

Want to add an ecommerce section to your website/blog? Install the free WooCommerce plugin and you can do within a minute or two. (If it's 100% e-commerce then Shopify is the best option).

Need a contact form on your website? Install the free Contact Form 7 plugin and you can do it in a minute.

Even though there are thousands of plugins already available for WordPress, you can always hire a developer to create custom plugins for your website.

WordPress is open-source and allows you to customize its functionality as much as you want.

Why you should self-host WordPress (avoid WordPress.com)

Once you have decided to go with WordPress as your content management system, you have to choose between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

Both are created by the same company called Automattic and both use the same WordPress software.

The difference between the two is that WordPress.org is the site where you can download WordPress and install it on your server.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, allows you to create and host a WordPress blog on the WordPress.com platform. It takes care of web hosting and domain registration.

The reason why I recommend hosting your WordPress blog on your own server (aka self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.org) is that it gives you complete control over your website.

If you host your website with WordPress.com, you will not be allowed to install custom plugins. WordPress.com limits you to only the plugins that are approved by the company.

That means, if a third-party plugin is not approved by the WordPress.com team, you cannot install it and that includes plugins that you create for your website on your own.

wordpress.org vs wordpress.com
WordPress.org:

 

  • Open source and free – you own it!
  • You own your website and all its data (i.e. your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it's against their Terms of Service).
  • Blog design is fully customizable, unlimited plugin options, and no branding whatsoever.
  • You are in total control over your own monetization efforts.
  • Powerful SEO features (so people can find your site on Google).
  • You can start or add an eCommerce store or membership site.
  • Small monthly cost (around $50 – $100/year + web hosting).
WordPress.com:

 

  • Doesn’t let you pick a custom domain name (i.e. will be something like yoursite.wordpress.com).
  • Your site can be deleted at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
  • Has very limited monetization options (you are not allowed place ads on your site).
  • Doesn’t let you upload plugins (for email capture, SEO and other things).
  • Has limited theme support so you’re stuck with very basic designs.
  • You have to pay to remove WordPress branding.
  • Very limited SEO and analytics, i.e. you cannot add Google Analytics.
 

The choice is of course entirely up to you, but if you want to take full advantage of your blog then WordPress.org is the recommended way to go when starting a blog.

Plus, getting cheap blog hosting from Bluehost, you can be up and running with WordPress installed and powering your site in a matter of just a few minutes using their automatic WordPress installation after signing up.

Why you should never host your blog on platforms such as Wix and Squarespace

There are some platforms out there that offer drag-and-drop website builders such as Wix and Squarespace.

Although these platforms are good for beginners, they limit you in a lot of ways and I strongly recommend you to stay away from these.

Why?

Because when you host your website with software such as Wix or Squarespace, you lose control over your website.

If Wix decides that your blog's content doesn't satisfy their policies, they can kick you off their platform and delete your blog without any prior notice. You will lose all your data and content when this happens.

All the platforms including Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace take away control from your hand.

When you go with WordPress, on the other hand, you can customize your website as much as you want and do whatever you want with the software with no restrictions at all.

Platforms like Squarespace and Wix (and Wix competitors) limit what you can do with your website and how much you can extend it. Not to mention, they can delete your blog and all its content any time they want.

This is the same reason why I recommend you to avoid WordPress.com.

If all this sounds too complicated or confusing, simply avoid hosting your website with WordPress.com and go with Bluehost. Their web hosting plans come with WordPress pre-installed, configured and all ready-to-go. Check out my guide on how to get started with Bluehost.

Getting started with WordPress

Want to get going quickly with WordPress but don't really know where to start?

WP101 is one of the most popular WordPress video tutorial sites in the world, and has been widely praised as the gold standard for WordPress video tutorials

WP101 tutorials have helped more than two million beginners around the world learn how to use WordPress to create and manage their own websites.

Here are a couple of video tutorials to help you get started with WordPress:

WP101 provides latest video tutorials to learn and keep updated with WordPress for lifetime with a single one-time purchase fee. Check out WP101 for all latest WordPress video tutorials.

4. How to start a blog (set up your blog with Bluehost)

To get your blog installed and ready to go, you’ll only need two things:

  • Domain name – The web address of your blog (mine is www.launchablog.com).
  • Web hosting – A server to store your blog files and keep it online for others to browse and read at all times.
And as I will show you here below with just a few quick clicks you can purchase and set up both of these things as easy as 1-2-3 with Bluehost.com.

First, it’s time to register a domain name for your blog, select the blogging platform and hosting you’ll be using and in order to get your blog live online.

The combination of domain name and hosting I recommend to all bloggers I know is a blog hosted by Bluehost. They’re super simple to start with and there’s a money-back guarantee in case things don’t go as planned.

bluehost homepage

➡️ Click here to head over to Bluehost.com and click the green “Get Started Now” button.

hosting plans

Next you choose a hosting plan by clicking a green “Select” button. The basic plan is good to begin with, and you can always upgrade later on.

enter domain name

Now it's time to get your domain name.

Register a domain name (free for the first year with Bluehost) or use your own domain name that you have registered someplace else. If you have registered a domain name in the past that you’d like to use for this new blog, enter it in the “I have a domain name” box.

Don't worry, doing so won’t mess it up if it’s currently being used elsewhere. Entering it here is just so that Bluehost can identify your account.

If you're not sure about a domain yet? Just click the “Choose Later!” link at the bottom of the page (it might take a minute for this link to appear), or, hover your mouse over the back button your browser to trigger a popup.

bluehost sign up

Now it's time to sign up for your hosting account. Choose an account plan based on how far in advance you want to pay. Bluehost bills 1, 2, 3 or 5 years upfront.

They do not offer a monthly payment option (hosts that do charge a lot more). As you can see, it works out to be a very reasonable monthly amount. Not bad for your own blog or website, right? It’s a great deal.

Ignore all the extras/add-ons (unless you want to get them).

The total is the amount you’ll pay today. You won’t have to pay again for 12, 24, 36 or 60 months, depending on the package you chose. Remember, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee as well.

Fill in your billing information, select if you'd like to pay with a credit card or PayPal, and confirm that you agree to the fine print and click Submit.

order confirmation

Now you'll be taken to your order confirmation page. After your purchase is complete, you’ll be asked to set a password for your Bluehost hosting account.

create password

Just click the “Create your password” button. You will also be sent an email with the order confirmation, as well as login information.

This is the password to your Bluehost account, not your WordPress blog (you'll get this login information in a later step).

bluehost automatic wordpress install

Next Bluehost will install WordPress and create your blog

Bluehost will create your blog based on your answers (remember you can always make changes later on i.e. there are no right/wrong answers here).

wordpress installation

Bluehost will install recommended WordPress plugins (remember you can always make changes later on i.e. there are no right/wrong answers here).

Install a theme – or choose to do it later. Bluehost gives you the option to pick a free WordPress theme right away. I recommend you click “Skip this step” at the bottom of the screen. Why?

Because many free themes are not kept updated. Outdated themes compromise your blog's security that hackers can exploit. It’s not worth the risk.

The theme that comes pre-installed will be okay for now. I recommend switching to a StudioPress theme later on once you’re all set up and more familiar with WordPress.

bluehost hosting dashboard

Now WordPress is all installed and ready to go, and you'll be taken to your Bluehost hosting dashboard.

This is your blog hosting portal where you can access your WordPress site (direct link to the site and its dashboard). You can also access Bluehost's Marketplace (premium addons and pro services), Email & Office (premium email and productivity tools), Domains (domain name manager) and Advanced settings (cPanel).

wordpress dashboard

Access your Bluehost WordPress dashboard. At the top of the next screen, you’ll see a notification indicating your site is on a temporary domain to start.

This is normal so don’t be alarmed if the domain (or URL) in your browser’s address bar looks funny initially, or doesn’t match the domain you entered above.

If you registered a free domain name at the beginning, it usually takes 2-24 hours for it to become fully registered. When it’s ready, Bluehost will switch it for you automatically.

If you used an existing domain or opted to choose a domain later, you can set it up when you’re ready. (If you’re unsure how to do that, contact Bluehost support, or go here where I'll walk you through the easy steps.)

That's it, you've done it. Give yourself a pat on the back because you now have registered a domain name, got blog hosting and have had your WordPress blog all installed, configured and ready to go!

If you haven't done it already, go and grab your domain name and blog hosting from Bluehost, then come back and let's go through the next steps.

5. Pick a WordPress theme and make your blog your own

Once you have a blog topic in mind, you need to choose a blog design that will look good on your website and match your niche.

Because there are thousands of themes and theme developers out there, I decided to make a list of things you need to look for in a theme:

How to pick the best theme for your blog

Here are some things you need to look for when choosing a theme for your blog:

Beautiful, professional design that complements your blog topic

This is the most important part of choosing a theme for your blog.

studiopress themes

If the design of your blog looks odd or doesn't match your blog's topic, then people will have a hard time trusting you or even take you seriously.

When choosing a theme, look for one that offers a minimal design with little to no distracting elements. You don't want your blog to be cluttered with a thousand different elements.

Going for a theme with a simple, minimal blog design is your best option. It will put your blog's content on the center of the stage and won't distract your readers while they are reading.

Optimized for speed

Most themes come with dozens of features that you will never need. These features affect the speed of your blog. If you want your blog to be fast, only go with themes that are optimized for speed.

fast loading wordpress theme

This rules out most themes available for WordPress as most theme developers don't follow the best practices for designing themes. Even a lot of the themes that say they are optimized for speed will slow down your site in reality.

So, it is highly recommended that you go with a trusted theme developer.

Responsive design

Most themes on the market aren't optimized for mobile devices. They look good on desktops but they break on mobile and tablet devices. If you don't know already, most people who will visit your website will visit it using a mobile phone.

mobile responsive wordpress theme

Over 70% of your visitors will be mobile visitors so it makes perfect sense to look for a theme that offers a responsive design.

As the name suggests, responsive design responds differently to different devices and easily adjusts to all screen sizes making your website look great on all devices.

Looking for a theme that offers a professional design, is mobile responsive, and is optimized for speed sounds like an impossible task.

To make it easy for you, I recommend you to buy themes only from one of these providers:

  • StudioPress – StudioPress offers some of the best themes on the market. Their Genesis Theme framework is used by some of the most popular bloggers on the Internet and offers customization above and beyond what's possible with themes by other developers on the market. Their themes are perfect for bloggers.

     

    This blog is powered by a StudioPress theme (called Maker Pro). Here's why I recommend StudioPress themes.
  • ThemeForest – ThemeForest is a little different than StudioPress. Unlike StudioPress, ThemeForest is a marketplace for WordPress themes. On ThemeForest, you can choose from thousands of different themes developed by thousands of individual theme developers. Although ThemeForest is a marketplace, it doesn't mean they skim on the quality. ThemeForest rigorously checks every theme before offering it on their marketplace.

The reason why I recommend these two is because they have really high standards for all their themes.

When you buy a theme from any of these providers, especially StudioPress, you can rest assured that you are getting the best theme possible for your blog.

I recommend going with a theme that complements your blog's topic. Even if you can't find the perfect theme for your blog's topic, at least go with something that won't look too odd for your blog's topic.

I recommend StudioPress themes

I'm a huge fan of StudioPress, because their themes are built on the Genesis Framework, which makes your site faster, more secure, and more SEO-friendly.

Since 2010, StudioPress has offered world-class themes that excel in both design and infrastructure, and their themes power more than 500k websites and blogs on the Internet.

Head over to the StudioPress website and browse the dozens of Genesis themes to find one that will work well for your specific needs.

studiopress themes

I recommend picking one of the newer themes because they take advantage of all the new features in WordPress, and are more likely to have the one-click demo installer available (more on that here below).

Here I'm showing you how to use the Revolution Pro theme, it's one of the most recently released Genesis themes (and I think it's also one of their best-looking themes).

Installing your theme

After choosing a theme and purchasing it from StudioPress you should have two zip files: one for the Genesis theme framework, and one for your child theme (e.g. Revolution Pro).

installing a theme

In your WordPress website, go to Appearance > Themes and click the “Add New” button at the top:

uploading your theme

Then click the “Upload” button and upload the Genesis zip file. Do the same with your child theme zip file. After uploading your child theme, click “Activate”.

So first you install and activate the Genesis Framework, then you install and activate the child theme. Here are the exact steps:

Step 1: Install the Genesis Framework

 

  • Enter your WordPress dashboard
  • Navigate to Appearance -> Themes
  • Click on the Add New button towards the top of the screen
  • Click on the Upload Theme button towards the top of the screen
  • Click on the Choose File button
  • Select the Genesis zip file from your local machine
  • Click on the Install Now button
  • Then click Activate
Step 2: Install the Genesis child theme

 

  • Enter your WordPress dashboard
  • Navigate to Appearance -> Themes
  • Click on the Add New button towards the top of the screen
  • Click on the Upload Theme button towards the top of the screen
  • Click on the Choose File button
  • Select the child theme zip file from your local computer
  • Click on the Install Now button
  • Then click Activate
 

One-click demo installer

If you bought one of the newer themes, you should now see the screen below. This is the one-click demo install. It will automatically install any plugins used on the demo site, and update the content to exactly match the demo.

one-click demo installer
If you have used WordPress before then you know it can take ages to set up a theme, but with StudioPress one-click demo install functionality installing a new theme reduces the time to load demo content and dependent plugins from hours, days, or weeks to minutes.

These StudioPress themes are confirmed to come with “one-click demo installer” tool:

  • Revolution Pro
  • Monochrome Pro
  • Corporate Pro
  • Hello Pro

That’s it! You should now have a fully functioning WordPress blog that matches the demo site, now you can start customizing your blog’s content.

Obviously you don't have to go with a StudioPress theme. Any WordPress theme will work. The reason I love StudioPress is because their themes are fast loading and SEO friendly. Plus StudioPress's one-click demo installer will make your life a lot easier as it will automatically install any plugins used on the demo site, and update the content to match the theme demo.

6. Essential plugins you need for your WordPress blog

Although WordPress offers a lot of functionality, it lacks some important features. These features can be added through plugins. WordPress lacks these features to keep it lightweight.

Installing a WordPress plugin couldn't get much easier:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard left-hand menu
  2. Go to Plugins -> Add New
  3. Search for the plugin you want to install
  4. Install and activate the plugin
install a wordpress plugin

Here are some essential plugins I recommend you to install on your WordPress blog:

Contact Form 7

contact form 7

Some of your readers will want to contact you after reading your blog and to do that they will need a contact form. This is where Contact Form 7 comes in.

It's a free plugin that helps you easily create a contact page without touching a line of code. You will need this plugin installed on your blog for the next section.

Yoast SEO

yoast seo

If you want Google to display your blog in search results, you will need to optimize it for SEO. Yoast SEO gives you the tools you need to hit the bulls eye with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

If you want to be able to control what your website looks like to Google, you need this SEO plugin.

Sassy Social Share

Sassy Social Share

Social sharing enables your blog visitors to share your content on their social networks. You want to encourage people to share your content with their followers by making it as easy as possible.

Sassy Social Share is an easy to use and lightweight social media WordPress plugin that comes packed with options. It comes with support for all the major social media websites, and you can add buttons in post content as well as a sticky floating social menu.

Backup Buddy

backup buddy

If something happens to your blog, you might lose all your content. If your website gets hacked or if you break something, you might lose all your configuration and all your hard work. This is where Backup Buddy comes to rescue.

It creates regular backups of your WordPress site that you can restore any time you want with just a click. Broke something? Click a button and you get back to an older version of your website.

Backup Buddy is also helpful when you are moving your website from one web host to another. It allows you to easily migrate your site from one server to another without breaking anything with just a few clicks.

Akismet

aksimet

Once your blog starts gaining some traction, you will start receiving a lot of spam in the comments of your blog. Hackers and spammers will leave comments on your blog to get a link back to their website.

Akismet checks your comments for spam and saves you hours every month by getting rid of all the spam.

WP Fastest Cache

wp fastest cache

WP Fastest Cache is a free plugin for WordPress that helps boost the loading speed of your website. It can cut your website's loading time in half if implemented right.

If you want your website to load fast and don't know much about website design, then installing this plugin is your best shot at improving the speed of your website. It's very easy to use and configure. Once you set it up, you never have to look back at it.

If you want a premium caching plugin then WP Rocket is the best caching plugin. Here's my WP Rocket guide on how to optimize the speed performance of your WP site or blog.

WP Smush

wp smush

If the images you upload to your blog aren't optimized for the web, then they will slow down your website. Although you can compress images individually and optimize them for the web, it will save you dozens of hours every month if you simply automate the whole process of optimizing the images.

This is where WP Smush comes to rescue. It compresses and optimizes all the images you upload as you upload them. It will give your site a noticeable boost if your website contains a lot of images. This plugin is especially recommended if your blog is image-heavy such as a Travel Blog.

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

google analytics monster insights

When you run a blog, you need to know how many people are visiting it. Google Analytics is how you do it. It's a free tool by Google that you can install on your website by placing a small JavaScript code snippet.

It allows you to analyze your traffic and improve your website's conversions. Whether you want to increase your website's revenue or just want to know how many people read your last article, you need Google Analytics.

Now, Google Analytics is an advanced tool and it can be really difficult to learn if you are just starting out.

This is where MonsterInsights' plugin comes in. It makes it super easy to understand the data Google Analytics provides directly from your WordPress dashboard.

7. Create your blog’s must-have pages

When you create a blog you won't need a “blog” page. But there are some pages you just have to create on your blog.

must have blog pages

Some for legal reasons and others for making your blog more friendly and likable.

About page

Your about page is where your readers will go if they like your content. If someone likes your blog, they will want to know more about you. The first place they will check is your about page (here is mine).

An about page gives you a chance at building a real connection with your readers by letting them in on your real life.

What you need on your about page:

Your back story (Why you started your blog)

We, humans, love stories. If you want to develop a bond with your readers, you need to tell stories.

The first thing you need in your about is your backstory. The story of why you started your blog. It doesn't have to be as good as Citizen Kane.

Just be open and honest about why you started the blog.

If you were fed up by the lack of any good information on personal finance, then write why you think that is the case.

If you write about self-help and hate everything related to self-help like Mark Manson does, then write about why you think that.

Take a deep breath and start writing why you started your blog.

What you write about on your blog

If you want your readers to keep coming back, then you need to tell them what they should expect to see on your blog. This will tell people whether or not your blog is the right fit for them.

Here are some examples:

  • Short bite-sized tips and tricks on Topic X.
  • Well-researched opinion pieces on Topic X.
  • Interviews with important people in the Topic X industry.
  • Honest reviews of products in the Topic X industry.

What you write about is totally up to you. If you don't want to follow what others in your industry are doing, then you don't have to.

Mentioning what topics you write about on your blog's about page is really important if you want to build a loyal audience.

Why people should read your blog

What do you bring to the table that others in your industry lack?

This doesn't have to be super unique. It just has to be something that not many others in your industry have to offer.

For example, if you are a mommy blogger talking about freelancing while taking care of kids, then you should mention that on your about page.

Do you have some sort of expertise in your topic that others might not have? If so then talk about that.

This includes college degrees about the topic, certifications, worked with someone big in your industry, awards, etc.

If you have a PhD. in computer algorithms and you write a blog about programming, now may be the perfect time to talk about your education.

The goal is to only set you apart from most others in your industry, not all others.

Why should people trust you? (Optional)

If you have been featured on other blogs in your industry or have been interviewed before, this is the time to talk about it.

Have you been featured on sites in your industry?
Have you spoken at a conference in your industry?
Have you been mentioned in a book related to your industry?
Have you written a book?
Are you friends with any of the big players in your industry?

Even if you think it isn't worth mentioning, you should mention as many achievements like these as possible. It will set you up as an expert and people will trust you more because of it.

What your plans are for the blog (Optional)

What are your future plans for your blog?

Write them down even if they seem a little far-fetched.

I am not talking about absurdly impossible goals like “starting a gardening colony on Mars.”

I am talking about goals that might benefit your readers in the future.

Do you want to start a conference about your topic?
Do you want to write a book on your topic?
Do you want to start a training company for your topic?
Do you want to start a yearly meetup community for your topic?

Mention it all on this page. It will not only tell your audience that you are serious with your blog, but it will also put a little healthy pressure on you to do these things in the future.

Drop in your social media profiles

People who visit your blogs' about page want to connect with you and know you better.

What's better than connecting with you on social media?

At the end of your about page is the perfect place for dropping links to your social media profiles.

Services page (Optional)

If you provide some sort of a service related to your blog topic, then it makes sense for you to create a page that details the services that you offer.

If you are a Certified Financial Planner and your blog is about Personal Finance, then it can help you get hundreds of new clients for your freelance business.

Once your blog starts gaining some traction, you will start getting a lot of offers for your services.

Not every person who reads your blog will want to work with you or need your help but 1 in every 10 people who visit your blog might want to work with you.

If you want to grow your business, you need a services page.

Now, you don't have to call it your services page. You can call it “Hire Me” or “Work With Me” or anything else that tells people you offer some sort of services.

What you need on your services page:

What services do you offer

Duh!

It sounds obvious but so many people forget to mention in detail the services they offer as a freelancer or consultant.

If you offer Social Media Management as a service, don't just mention it; write exactly what you offer as a part of this service.

Do you create custom graphics for social media platforms?
Do you offer a free social media audit to every client?

Mention everything you provide as a part of your service.

Client testimonials

If you have any client testimonials from your previous work, be sure to drop those testimonials on this page.

It will help you build trust with your prospective clients and will also make you look more credible.

Previous work (Portfolio)

If you are a graphic designer or a web designer, this is where you should display your previous work.

People who check out your services page are likely in need of your services. Showcasing your previous work shows them that you really can get the job done.

Case studies

If your work requires consulting (SEO, Facebook Ads, Architecture), then you might want to showcase a few case studies on this page.

Every case study should include your process of how you work with a client and what challenges the client was facing and how you helped solve them.

How much you charge (Optional)

If you mention how much you charge for your services, then it will help you filter out any prospective clients who can't afford you.

But doing so will cause problems when increasing your rates. If you charge a fixed hourly or a fixed productized rate, then mention it on your services page.

If you want to be able to increase your price with every new client, then don't mention how much you charge.

The next steps

How do you start working with your clients?

Do you want them to send you a payment in advance before you even start talking?

I recommend placing a contact form at the bottom of your Services page. This makes sure you clients easily understand what the next step to working with you is (i.e. contacting you).

If you need any details from the client, then you can ask them in the form. Contact Form 7, the plugin I asked you to install, allows you to do this.

Contact page

This is an obvious one. You need a way for people to contact you.

The best practice is to create a contact form on the contact page using a plugin such as Contact Form 7.

Using a contact form instead of revealing your email address hides your real email address from spammers and hackers.

Be sure to mention how often you check your email and when they should expect a response.

Your privacy page and other legal pages

WordPress comes with an easy Privacy Policy wizard you can access from Settings > Privacy:

Click the Create Page button at the bottom to create your privacy policy page:

privacy page

WordPress will now guide you through what you should write on that page. It's kind of a privacy policy generator that requires a little bit of input from your end.

If you need help and inspiration, there are a bunch of free plugins that auto-generate policy pages.

Now, this is not legal advice and using a privacy policy generation tool like the one offered by WordPress is not the best practice. But if you are just starting out, it doesn't really matter.

Once your business starts gaining some traction and you start making money, you may want to invest in hiring a lawyer to draw your privacy and terms of service pages.

8. Find your blogging niche (decide what you will blog about)

If you want your blog to be successful, you need to decide a blog topic and stick to it.

It's not that you will not see any success if you blog about anything and everything under the sun but if you want to build an audience and make blogging a career option in your life, you need to choose a singular topic to blog about.

how to find your blogging niche

Blogs about multiple topics are a thing of the past. 10 years ago, maybe, you could have gotten away without choosing a blogging topic. But today, it's not the case.

Do you remember About.com?

Until 5 years ago, every time you searched something on Google, 5 out of 10 times a page on About.com popped up. But it's not the case anymore.

That site is nowhere to be found. They wrote content about anything and everything.

There are some blogs that are famous even though they talk about more than one topic, but they are rare and their success was more dependent on luck than on hard work.

If you want to guarantee your blog's success, you need to pick a topic and stick to it.

Here are some examples of insanely successful blogs that stick to one topic:

  • IWillTeachYouToBeRich.comRamit Sethi‘s blog on personal finance is one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the Internet. The reason for his blog's massive success is that Ramit stuck with a single topic from the beginning.
  • NomadicMatt.com – A travel blog started by a guy named Matt Kepnes. The reason why this blog is one of the top blogs is that he stuck with Travel Blogging from the beginning.
  • Everywhereist.com – Another famous travel blog by Geraldine DeRuiter. Her blog is successful because she stuck with one topic, travel.
When you write to everyone, you're writing to no one. To build an audience for your blog, you need to write to a niche audience that you can build a connection with.

If you don't pick a niche, it will be difficult for you to build an audience and even more difficult to earn money from your blog.

Here are three simple exercises to help you define your goals and find a niche for your blog:

Quick exercise #1: write down your goals

Why do you want to start a blog?

It’s important to set goals for yourself and your blog before you start publishing posts. This way, you will hold yourself accountable and you'll be able to achieve progress.

But to be able to define what your goals are, you need to know the reasons why you are starting a blog in the first place.

Is it to become an industry expert?
Is it to promote yourself, or your products/services?
Is it to connect with people who share your passion and interests?
.. Is it to change the world?

You should write down:

  • How many new people will your blog reach?
  • How often will you be publishing posts?
  • How much money will you make from your blog?
  • How much traffic will your blog attract?

Whatever your goals are, you need to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific.
M – Measurable.
A – Achievable.
R – Relevant.
T – Time-based.

For example:
My goal is to publish 3 new posts per week.
My goal is to get 100 daily visits by the end of this year.
My goal is to make $100 per month.

Go ahead and write down your blogging goals. Be realistic yet ambitious, as you can change and adjust your goals later on.

Quick exercise #2: write down your interests

Make a list of all your hobbies and things you are interested in.

Include everything that you do as a hobby and everything you want to learn one day.

If you want to get better at cooking someday, add it to your list.

If you are good at managing your finance, add personal finance to your list.

If people compliment you on your dressing style, add fashion to your list.

The point of this exercise is to write as many ideas as you can and then choose one from the list.

Write down topics even if you think no one will be interested in them.

If you do something as a hobby, chances are there are a lot of people who like it too.

Quick exercise #3: have a look at AllTop.com

AllTop.com is a collection of one of the most popular websites on the Internet:

Their list includes a lot of different websites in a lot of different categories.

If you don't have a good niche in mind or need some ideas for your list of niches, take a look at the front page of AllTop.com or go through the categories on the top to find niches that might interest you.
alltop

Feel free to open any of the category links that entice you and go through the list of blogs in the category to get some niche ideas.

Now that you have a list of blog topics you are interested in, it is time to answer some tough questions to find the best niche for you.

I recommend making a list of many different niches and then going through the below questions to find the perfect niche:

Do you care about the topic you're blogging about?

If you don't care about the topic, you will give up as soon as it starts to get hard.

The topic doesn't have to be your passion. It can be something you like as a hobby or even something that you want to learn more about.

It is better to write about a topic that you have some interest in than a topic that you have no interest at all even if you think it will pay more.

Most people give up in the first month of starting their blog.

how to start a successful blog

Blogging requires some hard work and if you don't even like the topic you are writing about you will give up really fast.

You will spend a lot of time on this blog especially when it starts gaining some traction. Do you really want to spend time doing something you hate just for money?

Pick a topic that you have some interest in.

Why should other people listen to what you're saying?

Even if you are not an expert on the topic you want to blog about, there has to be a reason why people should listen to you rather than the thousand other bloggers who are talking about the same topic.

The best way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is to bring something unique to the table.

Now, this doesn't have to be something Pulitzer Prize-worthy. It could be something as simple as approaching the topic from a new angle.

For example, if you are an entrepreneur and want to blog about personal finance, you could write articles on personal finance for Entrepreneurs. Or personal finance for mothers if you are a mother yourself.

You can always differentiate yourself by being open about being a beginner on the topic. Everyone else who writes about your topic tries to position themselves as the expert.

But if you openly admit on your blog that you are just sharing what you love, you will easily differentiate yourself.

Why is this a topic that you can add value to?

This is another question you need to answer.

If you are just going to copy everyone else, then there's not much for you to blog about and no incentive for people to choose you over the others.

Going with a niche that you are already an expert in gives you a huge advantage.

If you are a certified financial planner, then it makes more sense for you to start a personal finance blog rather than a blog on gardening that you know next to nothing about.

Now, this doesn't mean that you have to start a blog on a topic that you are an expert at. You just need to be able to add some value to your niche if you want your blog to be really successful.

Most people don't even finish a single book every year. If you read even a few books on your topic, you will differentiate yourself from most of the other bloggers in your niche really fast.

Do people search for and care about your blog topic?

When starting a blog to make money, it's important that you plan ahead and choose a niche that works for you AND it's a niche that is popular and you can monetize.

To stand out, you need to find a niche that's in demand.

Once you have a niche in mind you feel passionate about, you’ll need to find out if there’s an audience out there equally passionate or interested in your topic.

How do you do that?

It’s difficult to know if people will like your topic before you create your blog, but keyword research is a great way to find out how many people are searching for your topic Google.

Tools such as Google AdWords and Google Trends can tell you about search volume (i.e. how many people are searching for your niche on Google)

starting a blog to make money

As you can see above the most searched for blog niches on Google are: fashion blogs (18k searches/mo), food blogs (12k searches/mo) and travel blogs (10k searches/mo).

For keyword research I recommend Ubersuggest. It's a powerful, free keyword research tool that will tell you how many searches a keyword or topic get on Google.

In the next section here below, I will walk you through how you can start a fashion, food or travel blog.

BONUS: Niche blog quickstart kit (travel/food/fashion/beauty blog)

All you need when starting a blog is three things: a domain name, web hosting, and WordPress.

Bluehost does all of that. Their web hosting plans come with a free domain name + WordPress pre-installed, configured and all ready-to-go.

But that's only the beginning. Now that you have created your first blog, you need to make sure the design of your blog complements your blog's topic.

To do this, you need to find a theme that offers a design that matches your blog's topic. You will also need some special plugins depending on what topic you are blogging about.

Because there are thousands of themes and plugins, I decided to make quick start kits for a few popular topics. Below you will find lists of the best themes and necessary plugins for a few different blog topics:

What you need when starting a travel blog

If you are starting a travel blog, then there are a couple of things you need to look for in a theme. The first is that it needs to be optimized for speed.

Because your blog will be image-heavy, it is really important that the theme that you use is optimized for speed otherwise it will slow down your website.

Next, you need to make sure the theme is optimized for image-heavy sites. That means the layout of your theme needs to put emphasis on the images and needs to be optimized to display full-sized images.

Here are a couple of travel themes that fit the bill for you to choose from:

Hobo WordPress theme

hobo travel wordpress theme

Hobo is a responsive travel theme that is easy to customize and looks great on all screen sizes.

It allows you to edit and customize almost all the elements. The best part about this theme is that its layout is really spacious and minimal. It will help you stand out.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • Free WPBakery Page Builder.
  • WooCommerce Ready.
  • Minimal, Clean Design.
  • 750+ customization options.

Vagabonds WordPress theme

vagabonds travel theme

Vagabonds is a beautiful, professional-looking theme that is designed for travel bloggers.

It comes with everything you will need to get your travel blog up and running. It offers a minimal design and great typography styles to set you apart from your competitors. And to help you kick start your blog, it offers many different premade page designs like About, Contact, and other pages.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • Free WPBakery Page Builder.
  • Comes With Premade Page Templates.
  • WooCommerce Ready.

Fishing and Hunting Club WordPress theme

fishing and hunting travel blog theme

Although it's not made for travel blogs, Fishing and Hunting Club is one of the best themes on the market for travel bloggers. If you want to be able to display your travel adventures in a beautiful way, this is the theme for you.

It offers a clean, minimal design with great typography. The typography and design go hand in hand to concentrate the reader's attention on the content.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • Multiple layout options.
  • Support for WPBakery Page Builder.
  • WooCommerce Ready.
  • Clean design.

Additionally, you will need a plugin to compress images that you upload to your blog:

Because your travel blog is going to be image heavy, you need the images to be optimized for the web. You do this by installing this free plugin called Shortpixel Image Optimizer or WP Smush.

Both offer similar functionality and both are free.

What you need when starting a food blog

A food blog will obviously be image-heavy and will require a theme that is optimized for speed. Not only that, but you will also have to look for an image that supports video embeds if you are thinking of embedding YouTube videos.

Finally, your theme's design must be clean enough to not distract the reader while reading the contents of your blog.

Here are some themes for starting a food blog that fulfil the criteria:

Foodie Pro WordPress theme

foodie pro theme

Foodie Pro is a minimal theme that offers a clean layout. It is fully responsive and looks great on all devices. This is a child theme based on Genesis Framework, so you need the StudioPress Genesis Framework to use this theme.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • Clean, minimal design.
  • Support for WooCommerce.

Lahanna WordPress theme

lahanna food theme

Lahanna is a theme designed for Food Bloggers. It's a clean theme that offers a unique professional design that can help set you apart in your niche.

It offers dozens of interactive elements like Timer Links that start a visible timer for the user when they click the link. It also comes with a todo list-style ingredients list with checkboxes.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • Dozens of interactive elements.
  • Beautiful, clean design.
  • Full support for WooCommerce.

Narya WordPress theme

narya food wordpress theme

Narya offers a clean layout that is fully mobile responsive. It comes with a full-screen slider on the homepage. It also offers 6 different layout options for the homepage and blog to choose from.

  • 100% Responsive.
  • 6 different layout options for homepage and blog.
  • Free revolution slider.

You will also need a recipe plugin for your food blog:

WP Recipe Maker makes it easy for you to create and embed recipes in your posts.

wp recipe maker wordpress plugin

It takes care of the technical structural data for SEO and allows you to create recipes without writing a single line of code.

What you need when starting a fashion or beauty blog

When you are starting a blog in the Fashion niche or the Beauty niche, you need to look for a theme that offers a minimal design and is optimized for speed and can handle image-heavy content.

Look for a theme that is “feminine” in nature. It should look minimal and focus the user's attention on the content. Whatever theme you choose, you need to remember that you can always change the colors to fit your style/brand.

For now, all you need to focus on is finding a theme that is clean, minimal, and helps you stand out of the crowd.

To help make it easy for you to make a decision, here are a few themes that are well-suited for a fashion/beauty blog:

S.King WordPress theme

S.King fashion / beauty theme

S.King is a professional looking theme that offers a clean, minimal design.

The best part about this theme is that it easily integrates with most of the popular tools commonly used by professional bloggers such as MailChimp, Visual Composer, Essential Grid, and many more.

This theme's design is fully responsive and looks great on all devices no matter the screen size. If you ever decide to start selling your own products on your website, you can easily do so with this theme as it is fully compatible with WooCommerce.

That means you can start selling anything and everything on your website with minimal effort with a few clicks.

  • 100% mobile responsive.
  • Clean, minimal design.
  • Free drag and drop page builder.

Kloe WordPress theme

kloe fashion / beauty theme

Kloe is a responsive theme for WordPress that is designed for fashion and beauty blogs.

What I love about this theme is that it offers over a dozen different homepage designs to choose from. Whatever your style, this theme can easily match it.

It is fully compatible with WooCommerce, so you can start selling your own products without needing to switch to a new theme. This theme comes with hundreds of customization options and allows you to customize almost all aspects of the design without touching a single line of code.

  • 100% responsive design.
  • Over a dozen homepage blog design options to choose from.
  • Full support for WooCommerce and many other popular plugins.

Audrey WordPress theme

audrey fashion / beauty theme

Audrey is a beautiful theme that is built for websites in the Fashion industry.

Whether you are a blogger or an agency, this theme can be easily customized to suit your blog design needs. It offers a dozen different pre-designed pages that look professional.

This theme is completely mobile responsive and looks great on all screen sizes. It comes with support for all the popular WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce and Visual Composer.

  • Looks great on all screen sizes.
  • Dozens of essential pages like FAQ come pre-designed.
  • Clean, minimal blog design.

Recommended plugins

When running a blog in the fashion/beauty niche, most of your pages will have lots and lots of images on them. If you don't want these images to slow down your website, you need to optimize your images for the web.

I recommend using Shortpixel Image Optimizer or WP Smush.

These plugins will optimize and compress all the images you upload to your website automatically and will also optimize the images that have already been uploaded.

The best part? Both of these plugins are completely free.

9. Where to find free stock photos & other graphics for your Blog

If you want your blog to be successful, you need it to stand out from the crowd. Most niches that are profitable are competitive.

If you want to stack the odds in your favor, you need to make sure your blog isn't forgettable just like all the other blogs in your niche.

The easiest and the fastest way to do this is with the design of your blog. If your blog's design stands out in your niche, your blog will stand out and will be easy to remember for your readers.

Although the theme that you use for your blog is important, it is also important that you make your content visual.

The theme you use on your blog will help your website's overall design to stand out but adding images to your content will help your content to stand out and make it memorable for your readers.

Types of images you'll need to run a blog

Before we dive into the tools and tips about designing images, here are a few types of images you will need for your blog.

lifeofpix

Now, of course, you could hire a designer to design these images for you. But if you are low on budget or are just starting out, I highly recommend getting your hands dirty and learning how to create these graphics on your own.

In the sections that follow, I recommend some sites and tools that help you easily make professional-looking graphics on your own.

Blog Post Thumbnails

This is what people will see on social media when your blog posts are shared. A thumbnail will help you stand out by making your content more visual.

canva blog designs

I highly recommend that you create a blog thumbnail for all your images if you want your blog to stand out.

I recommend Canva for creating blog post images. Check out my guide to using Canva ⇣ where I show you how to create a blog thumbnail image.

Now, some bloggers like to design their blog thumbnails with beautiful typography and icons.

I recommend that if you are just starting out, you should simply upload a stock photo that best represents what your blog is about.

For example, if you are writing an article on “13 Running Tips” just use a stock photo of a person running as your thumbnail.

Once you start to gain some momentum with your blog, you can look into creating custom graphics that help your blog stand out.

Social Media Images

Whether you want to post a quote or a tip for your followers on your social media accounts, you need to make sure it is beautifully designed and helps you stand out.

If you want to build a presence on social media sites for your blog, you will need to post a lot of content.

The easiest way to create content for social media is to create “rich media” content such as images and videos.

Not only are they easy to create but they are also easy to consume and increase the odds of your audience actually consuming your content.

I recommend Canva for creating social media images and banners. Check out my guide to using Canva ⇣ to learn more.

Infographics

Infographics make it easy for you to explain things to your audience. It is much easier to read a beautifully designed graphic than a block of text.

A study from WishPond found that bloggers who use infographics see traffic grow an average of 12% more than those who don't.

Infographics can help you get more shares and keep your audience hooked to the content.

I recommend Canva for creating custom infographics. Check out my guide to using Canva ⇣ to learn more.

A note on licensing and terms of use

Most images on the Internet are protected by copyright law and as such, they cannot be used without permission. Using an image that is not licensed for free, unrestricted use without permission from the author of the image is illegal.

However, there are a lot of free stock photos that you can use without asking the author for permission.

Most of these stock photos are licensed under the CC0 license or are released under the public domain. These images can be used and edited however you like.

Now, keep in mind, you can always buy rights to premium stock photos. Sites mentioned in the coming section allow you to buy rights to stock photos so that you can use them legally.

Note: Before using any image you find on the Internet on your own blog, be sure to check how the image is licensed.

Where to find free stock photos for your blog

Those days are long gone when you needed to pay thousands of dollars to get stock photos. There are a lot of photographers and designers on the Internet who love sharing their creations with others in the community.

These photographers license their images under the Creative Commons Zero license which allows you to use and edit images however you like without asking the author permission.

The following websites all offer images that are free and most of the images offered on these websites are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. But be sure to check the license for each image you download before you start using it.

I have curated a huge list of free stockphoto and videos resources, but here are some of my favorite stock photo websites:

Pixabay

pixabay

Pixabay is home to over a million free stock photos, videos, illustrations, and vectors. Whether you are looking for images for your food blog or a blog about fitness, this site has you covered. They offer dozens of images categories to choose from.

All the images on Pixabay are free and are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. That means, you can download, edit, and use the images on this site however you like.

Pexels

pexels

Pexels offers thousands of beautiful, high-resolution stock photos for free. You can download and use them however you like. Almost all of these images are licensed under a custom license that allows you to use these images for both personal and commercial use.

However, there are a few simple restrictions that you need to keep in mind when using images from this site. You can also find thousands of free videos on this site licensed under the same license as the stock photos.

Pixabay and Pexels are my two go-to sites when I need a high quality (and free) stock photo.

Unsplash

unsplash

Unsplash offers hundreds of thousands of free high-resolution stock photos you can use on your blog without asking the author for permission.

This site offers images under all the categories and industries imaginable. You can find images for all types of blogging niches including health, beauty, fashion, travel, etc.

The search engine on this site allows you to search for images based on tags such as ‘Sad', ‘Interior', ‘Christmas' etc.

Stokpic

stokpic

The team behind Stokpic adds 10 new photos every 2 weeks to the website. Although it may not sound like a lot, you need to keep in mind that this site has been around for a very long time.

This site offers hundreds of free professional-looking images to choose from. If you want premium stock photography for free, the images on this site are the closest you can get to it.

New Old Stock

newoldstock

Looking for old images? New Old Stock may be the perfect choice for you. It offers vintage photos from the public archives. As these images are really old, most of them fall under the public domain and can be used without restriction but it still doesn't hurt to first check the license.

Premium stock photo sites when you want to up your game

If you want to stand out of the competition, you may consider using premium stock photos. These stock photos are shot by professional photographers and are royalty-free. Once you buy a license to a premium stock photo you are free to use it for both personal and commercial uses.

Here are some premium stock photo sites that I recommend:

Adobe Stock

adobe stock photos

Adobe Stock isn't limited to just stock photos. They offer all types of stock assets such as Graphic Design Templates, Videos, Video templates, Vectors and illustrations, and stock photos.

The best part about Adobe Stock is that they offer monthly subscriptions that allow you to download a certain number of images for free every month. Their starting plan at $29/month allows you to download 10 stock photos every month.

Shutterstock

shutterstock

Shutterstock offers all types of stock assets including Video, Images, illustrations, Vectors, Icons, and Music. Whatever creative project you are working on, this site has everything you will need to make your work stand out and look beautiful.

Their monthly plans start at $29/month and allow you to download 10 images every month. They also offer prepaid packages starting at $49 for 5 images.

iStock

istock

iStock has been around for a long time and is now a part of GettyImages. They offer stock assets including images, videos, vectors, and illustrations.

Although they do offer monthly subscription plans, they also allow you to buy credits you can redeem for stock assets on the site.

10. Use Canva to create custom graphics for your blog

Canva is a free tool that allows you to create custom graphics that look professional within minutes instead of hours.

The best part about Canva is that it doesn’t require any specialized knowledge to use.

Whether you are a web designer, graphic designer or a complete novice, Canva is one of the easiest tools for you to create breathtaking designs, artwork and visuals for your blog.

Why I recommend Canva

canva

Canva is a free graphic design tool that is designed for beginners.

Although it is designed with beginners in mind, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be used by professionals.

Canva is making design amazingly simple for everyone, and both professionals and beginners can use it to create amazing graphics within seconds.

The best part about Canva is that it offers hundreds of different templates for many different purposes. Whether you need a thumbnail for your latest blog post or want to design a quote to post on Instagram, Canva has got you covered.

It allows you to choose from hundreds of ready-made templates. And if you are ready to get your hands dirty, you can start from scratch and build something on your own.

I Canva and use it all the time! (FYI most graphics on this blog are created with Canva.) I recommend using this tool to design graphics for your blog because it is both free and very easy to use for beginners.

When you design a graphic on your own, you need to know what size is required for the graphic based on the platform.

For example, the size of graphics required for Instagram is totally different from Facebook and both are totally different from blog thumbnails.

But when you use Canva, you don’t need to worry about it because they offer free templates for all types of designs and these templates are sized based on the platform they are for.

Let’s design a blog thumbnail (AKA how to use Canva)

To create a blog thumbnail, first select the blog banner template from the home screen:

canva guide

Now, choose a template for your blog thumbnail from the left sidebar (unless you want to make one from scratch):

Once the template is loaded click the Text Heading to select it:

Now, click the ungroup button in the top bar to be able to edit the text:

Now, double click the text to edit it and then enter the Title and Subtitle for your post:

Once you are happy with what you see, click the download button to download the graphic file so you can upload it to your blog or to a social network:

download your canva design

And here's a video showing you how to do this:

If you need more help then Canva has an entire section packed with tutorials to help you create blog and social media banners, worksheets, ebook covers, infographics, background images and more. If you prefer videos, check out their YouTube channel.

Now you know more about creating custom images and graphics for your blog, but what about icons?

Use The Noun Project to find icons

When trying to describe something, it is better to show than tell. Thus goes the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

One of the easiest ways to make your blog more visually appealing is to use icons on your blog. You can use icons to describe concepts or to make your headings look more appealing.

Unless you are a designer, you may not be able to create your own icon. To help you cross this obstacle, let me introduce you to The Noun Project:

the noun project

The Noun Project is a curated collection of over 2 million icons that you can download and use on your blog.

Whatever icon you need for your blog, I guarantee you can find it on The Noun Project website.

The best part about Noun Project is that all the icons are available for free if you give credit to the respective creator of the icon.

download free icons

The icons on this site are designed by thousands of individual designers around the world.

Moreover, if you aren’t interested in crediting the author, you can buy a subscription or buy credits you can redeem to download and use icons for royalty-free without crediting the real author.

The Noun Pro subscription costs only $39 per year. If you are ready to up your icons game on your blog, then consider going pro.

BONUS: Outsource your blogging tasks – save time & make more money

Even the blogging pros can’t do it all on their own. Whether you need an expert to get something done or just want to take some load off of your shoulders, you can always turn to the freelance gig economy to help you grow your blog faster.

There are a lot of tasks such as reaching out to other bloggers or creating basic graphics like thumbnails that take a lot of time and aren’t worth YOUR time.

You can, and should if you can, hire other people (a.k.a freelancers) to finish these tasks for you.

Whether you want to just outsource a task that you hate doing or you want to hire a professional who can shine his expertise to help you create the best possible content.

Below you will find my suggestions on where to look for freelancers to outsource parts of your blogging process.

What you can outsource

When it comes to blogging, there’s not much that you can’t outsource to other people. The only limit is how much money you have in your bank account.

Don’t like writing? You can hire a writer who asks you questions and then turns your answers into an article.

Aren’t confident in your grammar skills? You can hire a freelance editor who checks your posts before they are published.

Don't know how to create graphics? You can hire a freelance web designer to create logos, banners, infographics, etc.

You can outsource almost anything you don’t like doing yourself or want to speed up the process of.

Here are some of the things you should consider outsourcing:

Content Writing:

Most people aren’t writers and hate even the thought of writing an article. If you are one of those people, you can hire a writer who writes articles that match your writing tone and voice.

Even if you love writing, it is always a great idea to hire a helping hand to boost your production capabilities.

Graphic Design:

Designing graphics can be fun and can be second nature to some people. But for most of us who aren’t skilled enough, it is a great idea to hire a professional to do it.

A professional graphic designer will help you create anything from a simple Social Media post to a complex infographic that summarizes your blog post.

I recommend Canva. This tool makes it easy to create web designs and graphics. See my guide to using Canva ⇣.

Website Design:

Whether you need a custom design for your about page or want to overhaul your blog’s design, you should consider hiring a professional if your budget allows.

A professional designer will help you develop a design that matches your personal style and can help you stand out from the crowd.

Small Tasks:

You should start outsourcing small tasks that offer a low return on your time investment as soon as possible.

These tasks take up most of your time and suck the fun out of blogging and take your time away from the most important task in your blogging journey, writing articles.

Sites for all your outsourcing needs

Here are three freelance marketplaces I regularly use when I need help:

Fiverr.com

fiverr.com

Fiverr is a freelance marketplace where freelancers from around the world offer services for very cheap prices. If you want to get something done by a professional without breaking the bank, then Fiverr is a great choice.

Although Fiverr is famous for packaged services, you can hire freelancers for custom work by posting a freelance job posting on the website. Once you post a job, freelancers on the website can contact you and send you a proposal.

fiverr orders
As you can see above I use Fiverr a lot. For as little as $5 (i.e. a fiverr) I use it for getting logos made, help with small WordPress development and HTML/CSS code, graphics, design and much more.

Whether you need a graphic designer or you want someone to manage your social media profiles for you, Fiverr has the right freelancers for you.

The best part about Fiverr is the pricing but there are good Fiverr alternatives too. Almost all the categories on the platform have premium-priced services but most services posted by freelancers are priced below the industry standard.

So, if you want to get some work done for cheap, Fiverr is the best option.

Upwork

upwork.com

Upwork is a freelance marketplace where you can post job listings for your freelance jobs. Once you post a job description, hundreds of freelancers from around the world will send you a proposal with a bid.

You can choose to work with any freelancer you want from the ones who sent you a proposal. Upwork allows you to hire people based on the reviews of their past work on the platform. This makes sure that you are only hiring people who are qualified for the job.

The best part about Upwork is that their platform offers everything you need to work with the freelancers you hire. Their platform offers a simple messaging system that allows you to talk to the freelancer whenever you want. Check out these Upwork alternatives.

They also offer an escrow service that adds trust for both parties involved. And the best part is their dispute resolution team that is always there to keep the interests of both the parties safe.

Freelancer.com

freelancer.com

Freelancer is quite similar to Upwork and works the same way. You post a job description and then people send you proposals based on your job requirements. They offer a larger selection of freelancers on their platform and have more registered freelancers than any other platform on the Internet.

They offer almost all the features Upwork has to offer. The main difference between the two platforms is that Freelancers on Freelancer.com charge a little more and are a bit more qualified. If you want the best quality work, go with Freelancer.com.

Sites for hiring virtual assistants (VA's)

Virtual Assistants can help you save hours every day. Small tasks like reaching out to other bloggers or sharing your blog on social media or creating graphics for social media aren’t worth your time.

By outsourcing them, you can free up your time to work on tasks that offer a much better return on your time investment.

Here are some sites and marketplaces where you can hire freelance virtual assistants:

Zirtual

zirtual

Zirtual is a subscription service for hiring and working with virtual assistants. With Zirtual, instead of hiring and working with individual freelancers, you post tasks on the platform and then the platform assigns them to a virtual assistant.

All the virtual assistants on Zirtual are U.S. based and college educated.

The virtual assistants on this platform can do everything from Research to Scheduling to Social Media management. Whether you need someone to research an article or manage your social media campaign, your Zirtual assistant can get it done.

Zirtual charges you based on Hours. Their plans start at $398 per month. Their starting plan offers 12 Hours of Tasks per month and allows one user account. You can contact your assistant via email, SMS or directly via a phone call.

UAssist Me

UAssist Me

UAssist is a subscription service like Zirtual. They offer monthly plans and charge based on hours of work. When you sign up and start your subscription, you will be asked to fill out a job description that describes your ideal virtual assistants. Basically, you need to list your preferences in the skills and software knowledge of the assistant.

The best part about UAssist is that their plans are a bit cheaper than other platforms out there. For $1600 a month, you can get a full-time assistant that is available 6-8 hours every day. The biggest difference between Zirtual and UAssist is that Zirtual only offers U.S. based virtual assistants who are college graduates.

Outsourced Philippines

outsourced philippines

Although hiring people from 3rd world countries like the Philippines and India is always cheaper, you get a cross between quality and cost. Now that’s not to say that overseas assistants are bad. They can get done almost all the tasks that their U.S. counterparts can.

The biggest difference is culture and language barriers. If you hire an assistant from the Philippines on your own, you might struggle to explain what you want them to get done at least in the beginning if not all the time.

This is where a platform like Outsourced Philippines comes to rescue. They allow you to hire and work with qualified and vetted remote workers from the Philippines. This removes the testing and interviewing that is usually required when hiring a virtual assistant from a third-world country.

Sites for outsourcing content writing and creation

Here are some sites and marketplaces where you can hire content writers and editors:

TextBroker

textbroker

TextBroker is a marketplace where you post a requirement and then a freelance writer takes on the job and starts writing your content. The good thing about Textbroker is that it is not a subscription service like a lot of others in the market. There is no contract or subscription and you can stop any time you want.

Their platform offers you access to over 100,000 U.S.-verified authors. Getting content written with TextBroker is as simple as posting a job description and waiting for the completion of your order.

They have over 53 thousand customers and have fulfilled over 10 million content orders. Their pricing goes up with the experience of the authors you work with as it should. They allow you to post an open offer that anyone from their 100,000 authors can apply to.

iWriter

iwriter

iWriter is a platform that is known for producing cheap content. Although they do have some good writers on their platform, most of their content is just good enough. If you want the best quality content possible, then iWriter may not be the best platform for you.

If you want to publish a lot of content on your site at a rapid pace and don’t care much about the quality, then iWriter is the way to go. Their lowest tier writers are available for hire at $3.30 for 500 words. That’s about the lowest you can go in the content writing market.

The best part about this service is that they can help you produce almost any type of content including eBooks, Kindle eBooks, Blog Posts, Articles, Press Releases, etc.

WordAgents

wordagents

Unlike most of the other content writing platforms on the Internet, WordAgents only works with American writers. If you want your content to be written by native English speakers, this is the platform to go with.

Because this platform offers content from American writers, it will cost you a little more to have your content produced on this platform unlike the others on this list. If you are trying to reach a demographic that only responds to content written by native English speakers, then WordAgents might be the best choice for you. They will help you produce lots of content at a fast pace.

Godot Media

godot media

Godot Media offers content writing service on a one-off and subscription basis. If you want to regularly publish quality content on your blog, then their subscription service makes sense for you. With their subscription service, you can get content delivered to your inbox every week.

They have 4 different tiers of writers, Elite, Standard, Premium, and Basic and pricing starts at $1.6 per 100 words. The quality varies between these levels just like it sounds. If you want the best content they have to offer, you can go with the Elite tier. They also offer other services such as Copywriting, eBooks, and Social Media posts. They also do custom work if you want anything done that is not listed.

Check out this article from Authority Hacker where they ordered the same article from 5 different content creation services and benchmarked the results.

Need a custom design for your blog?

If you want to hook people to your content and make sure your readers stick around and come back, you need to make your content more visual. Visual content is not only more digestible than plain text, but it also increases the number of social media shares you get.

99Designs

99designs

99Designs is a design marketplace that allows you to run design contests. Unlike other platforms where you choose a designer, with 99Designs, you can host a contest where designers from around the world on the platform will submit a design.

You can then select and reward the design you like the most. If you want custom creative design, this is the platform for you.

You can submit a design contest for anything including Business Cards, Logos, iOS and Android Apps, Website Mockups, and a lot more. If you want to work with a particular designer on the platform, you can do that too. 99Designs allows you to work with individual designers on the platform as well.

DesignCrowd

designcrowd

DesignCrowd is a platform similar to 99Designs. They allow you to post a design competition where any and all the designers on the platform from around the world can compete. This increases creativity and increases the chances ten-fold of you going home with a design that you really love.

If you are not satisfied with the designs you receive in the competition, you will receive a full refund, so there’s nothing to lose for you. They allow design competitions for all types of designs including Infographics, YouTube Thumbnails, Postcards, Invitation Cards, Logos, Website Mockups, Branding, and anything else you can think of.

Design Pickle

Design Pickle

Design Pickle is a subscription service that offers you unlimited graphic design. For $370 per month, you can get a professional designer dedicated to your account. You can request as many designs as you like and as many revisions as you want. You will receive the source files (PSD, AI) of the design files so you can edit them later on your own if you want.

They offer a one-day turnaround time for most graphics that you submit but it can take a little more time based on the complexity of your graphic design request. What you need to know about this service is that they don’t design complex graphics. If you are looking for someone to design/illustrate a detailed, complex infographic, then this isn’t the right service for you.

They only design simple graphics. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid using this service. Design Pickle is great when you want someone to churn out lots of graphics (such as Blog Thumbnails, Social Media Posts, etc) when the quality is not the most important factor.

Sites for outsourcing SEO

If you want your blog to get free traffic from Google, you need to optimize your site for search engines (aka Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.) Now, SEO is complicated and has a lot of moving parts to it.

If you are just starting out or don’t want to spend hours every day trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, then it makes a lot of sense to outsource your SEO.

OutreachMama

outreach mama seo

OutreachMama offers Blogger Outreach services to business both big and small. Their services help you build links to your website. Whether you just want to promote a piece of content you wrote and gain some backlinks to it or you want a piece of content both written and promoted, their services have got you covered.

OutreachMama also offers a guest posting service. They write and secure a guest post on other websites in your niche. It helps you get more exposure and backlinks that are relevant to your industry. And that’s not all. They offer a lot of other services that will help you in your blogging journey including content writing and creating Skyscraper content.

The Hoth

the hoth seo

The Hoth offers dozens of link building services. Listing them all would require an article in itself. Their services are suitable for both beginners and advanced bloggers. Whether you just need a few links or want to create an advanced link wheel, The Hoth offers services to help you achieve your goals.

The good thing about The Hoth is that they offer both managed and self-serve link building services. If you already know the keywords you want to target and the anchor text you want to use, you can just send it over to them when buying a link building package. On the other hand, you can also buy their managed packages where they audit your site and your requirements and then create a customized plan of attack.

The Hoth offers both Guest Posting Service and Blogger Outreach service to help you gain backlinks to your website. Their blogger outreach service helps you gain links from other blogs in your niche by promoting your blog to them.

With The Hoth, your website is in very good hands. Their company is one of the fastest-growing companies in America and even made it in Inc 5000. They also offer press release services to give you a boost in credibility.

Backlinko

backlinko

Backlinko isn't a service. It's an SEO blog. Backlinko is an amazing free SEO resource where you can access next-level SEO training and link building strategies.

Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, is one of the leading experts on SEO and link building. Backlinko is my go-to resource for actionable SEO and content marketing advice.

11. Develop your blog’s content strategy

Here I'm going to explain why having a keyword strategy is so important, and I'll walk you through some of the tools to help you develop a content strategy for your blog.

What is a Content Strategy And Why You Need It

A content strategy lays out the vision for what you want to achieve with your content marketing/blogging efforts and helps guide the next steps you need to take on a daily basis.

Without a content strategy, you will shooting arrows in the dark trying to hit the bull's eye.

If you want your content to work for you and create the results you want your blog to produce, then you need to have a content strategy in place that helps guide you on your blogging journey.

It will help you make crucial decisions when it comes to content creation. It will also help you decide what writing style you should use and how you should promote your content. The bloggers who succeed in the game know who their ideal reader is.

If you don't have a content strategy, you will waste a lot of time creating and testing to find out what type of content works and what doesn't work for you in your niche.

Define Your Content Goals

When creating new blog content, you need to have a goal in mind.

What are you trying to do with your content? Are you trying to get more clients for your freelance business? Are you trying to get sell more copies of your eBook? Do you want people to book more coaching sessions with you?

Knowing from the start what your goals are with the content you are producing will help you avoid wasting your time on content that doesn't lead to your desired goals.

If you want people to buy more copies of your blog, you can't be writing thought leadership articles in your industry as these will only be read by your competitors. You want to write articles that can reach your target audience.

If you want to promote an affiliate product to your audience, then it makes a lot of sense to write reviews about that product.

Find Out Who Your Target Audience Really Is

This is the mistake I see most bloggers making. They just assume that they are writing to the right audience and that their efforts will attract the right kind of people to their blog. But this couldn't be further from the truth.

If you are not clear from the beginning who your target audience is, then you will keep shooting arrows in the dark trying to brute force your way into hitting the target.

The best way to find out who your audience is and what they like is to write down who your ideal reader is. This will be easier for those who already have some sort of idea of who their ideal reader is.

But for those of you who aren't sure who you should be or are supposed to be writing to, create in your mind an avatar of a person who you want to attract.

And then ask questions to yourself such as:

  • Where does this person hang out on the Internet?
  • What type of content do they prefer? Video? Podcast? Blog?
  • What writing tone will they connect with? Formal or Informal?

Ask as many questions as you can that help you pinpoint who your ideal reader is. This way there will be no surprises in the future when you create content for your blog. You will know exactly what your ideal reader will want to read.

The ideal reader that you write to is who you will attract. So, if you want to attract college students who have recently gotten a job and are in debt, then write down as many details as you can about this person. What do they like? Where do they hang out?

The better you know your ideal reader/target audience, the easier it will be for you to produce content that hits the bull's eye or at least hits the target.

What To Blog About (aka How To Find Blog Post Topics)

Once you know who your target reader is, it is time to find blog post ideas that your ideal reader will be interested in reading.

Here are a few ways to find the best content ideas for your blog:

Use Quora To Quickly Find Burning Questions of Your Niche

If you don't know already, Quora is a Question and Answer website where anyone can ask a question about any topic under the sun and anyone can answer the questions posted on the site.

The reason why Quora tops our list is that it allows you to find the questions people are asking about your niche or inside your niche.

Once you know what questions people are asking, creating content becomes as easy as writing answers to those questions on your blog.

Here's an example of how to use Quora to find content ideas:

Step #1: Enter Your Niche In The Search Box And Select a Topic

quora topics

Step #2: Be Sure To Follow The Topic To Stay Updated With New Questions (Content Ideas):

follow topics on quora

Step #3: Scroll Through The Questions To Find The Ones That You Can Actually Answer:

questions on quora

A lot of questions posted on Quora are either too broad or not something serious like the first question in this screenshot.

Step #4: Make a List of All The Good Questions You Find That You Think You Can Answer On Your Blog:

quora

Pro Tip: When creating content for your blog from questions you found on Quora, be sure to read the answers to the question while you research your article. It will cut the research time in half and may give you some interesting ideas for your blog.

Keyword Research

Keyword Research is the old school method most professional bloggers use to find what keywords (aka search queries) people are using on Google in their niche.

If you want Google to send you free traffic to your blog, you need to make sure that your blog posts contain and target these keywords.

If you want to be on the first page for how to start a beauty blog then you need to create a page/post on your blog with that phrase in the title.

This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and this is how you get traffic from Google.

Now, there's a lot more to SEO than simply finding and targeting keywords with your blog content, this is all you need to know when you are just getting started.

Each keyword that you want to target should have its own post. The more keywords you target on your blog, the more search engine traffic you will receive.

To find keywords to target on your blog, visit Google Keyword Planner. It's a free tool that helps you find keywords you can target through your blog:

Step #1: Choose Find New Keywords Option:

google keyword planner

Step #2: Enter Some Main Keywords of Your Niche And Click Get Started:

Keyword Planner

Step #3: Find Keywords That You Would Like To Target:

keyword research google

On the left of this table, you will see keywords that people are using in your niche and right next to it you will see a rough estimate of how many average monthly searches this keyword gets.

The more searches a keyword gets the harder it becomes to rank on the first page for it.

So, it is easier to rank for a keyword that has only 100 – 500 searches than it is to target a keyword that receives 10k – 50k searches. Make a list of keywords that aren't too competitive.

You might need to scroll down a couple of times before you find any good keywords that you can turn into blog pages or posts.

Answer The Public

Answer the public is a free tool (with a creepy man on the homepage) that helps you find questions people are searching for on Google.

Step #1: Enter Your Main Keyword In The Search Box and Click The Get Questions Button:

answer the public

Step #2: Scroll Down And Click The Data Tab To See The Questions People Are Searching For on Google:

keyword research

Step #3: Compile a List of Questions That You Think You Can Turn Into Blog Posts

A lot of questions that you see in the results won't be something you can turn into a blog post. Pick the keywords that you can and use your content strategy to guide your decisions.

Ubersuggest

Neil Patel's Ubersuggest is a free tool that helps you find long-tail keywords related to your main keyword.

Simply visit the Ubersuggest website and enter your keyword:

ubersuggest

Now, scroll down and click the View All Keywords button at the bottom:

ubersuggest keywords

Now, compile a list of keywords based on the SD metric you see on the right of the table. The lower this metric, the easier it will be for you to rank on Google's first page for the keyword:

free keyword research tool

Check Out Other Blogs In Your Niche

This is one of the easiest ways to find blog post ideas that will work for your blog.

Step #1: Search Top X Blogs On Google:

google search

Step #2: Open Each Blog Individually And Look For a Most Popular Posts Widget In The Sidebar:

popular articles

These are the most popular articles on this blog. That means these articles got the most shares. If you simply write articles on these topics, then you will increase the chances of your content hitting a home run in the first try.

12. Publish and promote your blog posts to get traffic

Most bloggers take the “publish and pray” route to blogging. They think that if they just write great content, then people will come.

They publish new blog articles every week and then just hope that someone will find and read them. These bloggers don't survive in the blogging game in the long term.

“Build it and they will come” doesn't cut it in the blogging game. You have to go where your target readers are to promote your content.

Hitting the publish button in your WordPress post editor is less than half the job. The other half of the job or what we should call the most important part of the job is to go out and promote your content.

The reason why promoting content is more important than writing great content is that even if you are the next Hemingway, what's your content worth if no one can find it?

The key to success (and to make money) with blogging is to promote each and every new post that you publish on your blog.

Bookmark this guide and come back to it every time you publish new content.

Before you can start promoting your new post, you need to make sure it is polished for promotion.

Writing new content is hard work. Once you finish writing a post, the excitement to publish it takes over.

But before you hit the publish button there are a few things you need to take care of.

Here is the checklist I go through before I publish a new blog piece of content:

1. Make Your Headline Descriptive And Catchy

If your blog post's headline doesn't catch the reader's attention, they won't read the rest of the content.

You need to make sure your headline is descriptive and enticing enough for people to want to click.

Here is a simple tool you can use called CoSchedule Headline Analyzer:

headline analyzer

This free tool will analyze and score your headline:

headline analyzer score

If you scroll the page a bit, you will find tips on how you can improve this headline and what it would look like in different places like Google Search results, and Email Subject Line.

2. Proofread And Fix The Mistakes

Once you have finished writing a blog post, make sure to go through it one last time to find any errors and typos you might have left behind.

Finding your own mistakes in your own content that you just finished writing can be a bit difficult.

If you can hire a proofreader, that is the best option to go for. A proofreader didn't write your content so his brain won't ignore your mistakes.

But if you have to do it on your own, here are a few tips to help you find your mistakes:

  • Get Away From Your Blog Post For 24 Hours: If you have just finished writing your blog post, it is still fresh in your mind. If you try to find your mistakes right now, it will be really difficult. Leaving your writing alone for 24 hours clears it out of your mind. The longer you leave it alone before you edit it, the better.
  • Increase The Font Size: Changing how the text looks on your screen will make your brain work harder to read and analyze the text.
  • Read It Out Loud: This method sounds a little bit stupid at first but it can help you find a lot of your mistakes that you would be unable to find if you simply just read your content.
  • Use a Spell Checker: Most spell checkers are unreliable. Sometimes they work wonders, other times they just don't work at all. But be sure to run your content through a spell check.

3. Make Sure Your Blog Post Is Targeting a Single Keyword

If you want to receive free traffic from search engines like Google, then make sure your blog post targets a keyword that people are searching for in your niche.

If you don't know how to find keywords, then check out the previous section on finding content ideas for your blog.

There are a couple of things you need to check for:

  1. Your post should only target a single keyword. If your post is about “Best Keto Diet Books” then don't try to use this same post to target a similar keyword such as “Best Keto Diet Online Courses”
  2. Every post should target at least one and only one keyword.
  3. The slug/URL of your blog post should contain the keyword. If your blog post slug doesn't contain the keyword, click the change slug button right below the Title editor in WordPress post editor.

4. Add Some Images To Make Your Content Visual

If you want to gain a foothold in a competitive, crowded niche, then you need to differentiate your blog from the crowd.

The easiest way to do this is to make your content more visual. It will not only help you stand out from the crowd, but it will also help you hook your readers to the content and make sure they read it.

The best way to create these images for your blog post is using Canva. If you want a tutorial on how it works, check the section at the top on how to use Canva.

Use Canva to create custom graphics that summarize what you are trying to say. You can also use it to create headers for the sections in your blog post.

Even if you can't create custom graphics for your blog post, be sure to add a few free stock photos to the mix.

Check out my list of the top free stock photo at the top of the guide to find the best images for your blog post.

5. Add a Post Thumbnail To Your Blog Post

A Blog Post thumbnail is what people will see when your blog post is shared. The thumbnail will also be visible on the post or page.

I recommend adding a thumbnail to every blog post you publish as it will make your content more visual and help you stand out.

When it comes to creating a Post Thumbnail, you have two options:

  • Create a custom post thumbnail with Canva.
  • Use a free stock photo from a site like Pexels.

If you don't have the time or design knowledge to be able to create a professional graphic with Canva, be sure to at least use a stock photo for your blog post thumbnail.

6. Link To Related Blog Posts On Your Blog

If this is the first post you are publishing, then you can skip this step.

Otherwise, search your blog for a post that is related to the blog post you are about to publish and then put a link to the related blog post somewhere in this blog post.

Linking to your other blog posts will help you get more readers and will increase the value of your website in the eyes of Google.

The longer people stay on your website the better, and adding some internal links in your blog posts is one of the easiest ways to do it.

Backlinks are an essential part of SEO and some would argue the most important part of SEO. Linking out to other pages on your website from one page tells Google the pages are topically related.

Another benefit is that if the page you are linking out from receives a backlink, the page you are linking out to will also benefit from the backlink.

7. Add a Clear Call-To-Action

Adding a call to action to all your blog posts are very important. When someone has just finished reading your blog post, they are very likely to take an action that you suggest.

If you want people to subscribe to your email list or follow you on Twitter, be sure to say that at the end of your blog post.

Each blog post may have different goals that you might want to accomplish with the call to action at the end. If you can't think of anything, simply ask them to share the post with their friends on Facebook or Twitter.

Asking for a share as a call to action at the end of your blog post can dramatically increase the chances of people actually sharing the post.

8. Check Your Links

There are times when you link out to a page on your own website or an external website but the page either isn't working or you linked out to the wrong page.

Before you hit the publish button be sure to open each link and check if it is working.

9. Preview The Post Before You Publish It

There may be times when you publish a post and the formatting may not look as good on the website's design or layout.

Depending on the theme that you are using, some paragraphs or bullet lists or images might look like they are in an odd place due to no fault of your own. Sometimes what you see in the WordPress editor is not what you see on the page.

So, be sure to preview the post before you hit the publish button.

How To Promote Your Content

As I said at the beginning of this section, “publish and pray” doesn't work.

Unless you are a celebrity, you will have to get out of your comfort zone and promote your blog posts. I know it sounds hard but it doesn't take much time and every minute that you invest in it will pay off.

If you want your blog to succeed, you can't take a passive approach to it and wait for luck to work its magic. If you want to increase the chances of your posts getting read and your blog succeeding, you need to promote each and every blog post you write as much as possible.

If you are still thinking that maybe your case will be different and you don't need to spend your time promoting your blog posts, let me break it to you:

According to a study by Ahrefs, 90.88% of pages, incl blog posts, on the internet gets no search traffic from Google. I.e. are invisible.

If you don't want your blog posts and your blog to go unnoticed, promote your blog posts using these tactics:

Social Media

Posting your blog posts on social media seems so simple it's dumb to even talk about it. But you would be surprised to know how many people never share their blog posts on social media.

Some postpone it for the day when they will have thousands of social media followers. Don't be like them.

Every time you publish a blog, be sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and any other platform that you might be present on. It won't give you your lucky break but it will help you build an audience.

Having a social media presence is very important if you want your blog to succeed.

Even if you don't have any followers right now, you need to post on social media regularly to build up your social media presence.

Facebook Groups

There is a Facebook group for everything. Some are private and some are well-kept secrets.

Whatever your niche is, there is probably a group on Facebook that talks about it all day long. There are thousands of groups on Facebook that have thousands and thousands of members. This includes your niche.

What if you could tap into this source and promote your blog post to them?

Well, you can. And it's really easy too.

All you have to do is go to Facebook, search for groups in your niche and then join them.

Here's how you do it:

Step #1: Enter Your Niche In The Search Box and Hit The Search Button

facebook groups

At the top, you will see groups and pages about your niche. Click the See All button on top of the group's container to see all the groups in your niche.

As you can see, they all have at least a thousand members. That's a lot of people you can promote your blog posts to.

Step #2: Join All The Relevant Groups

This step is simple. Just click the Join button.

Most groups will require a group admin to approve you before you can start posting. You will receive a notification when you are approved to post in the group.

When you scroll through this list of groups, don't dismiss the groups that don't have thousands of members.

The groups that don't have many members are usually the most engaged and will respond best to you promoting your content.

Step #3: Build Up Some Equity

When you have just joined a group, don't post your blog links to it right from the get-go. Introduce yourself, answer the questions and get to know the people.

The important thing to remember is that most groups don't like spam, so a good idea is to first add some value to the group by answering questions and then sharing links to your blog posts in the group.

Most groups will ban you if you share your blog posts without adding any value to the group.

Online forums

Forums are much like Facebook groups. Although some people will say that Forums are dying, they couldn't be more wrong. Forums now have fewer members than they used to but they are more engaged than before.

These online communities will not only help you find an audience for your blog, but they will also help you build meaningful connections and learn more about your niche and improve your skills.

The best thing about Forums is that Google trusts them a lot. Most forums on the Internet are old and therefore trusted by Google. They also have a good backlink profile and getting a link from them is as easy as posting a link to your blog.

But the thing to remember about these communities is that they really hate spammers.

If you are thinking about posting links to your blog on the day you join, then it would be better if you didn't join at all. Forums ban users really fast who don't add any value to the discussions going on.

If you want to receive any traffic to your blog from these forums without getting banned, don't forget to build up some relational equity with the other members before you start posting about your blog.

Finding forums is really easy just search for “YOUR NICHE Forums” on Google:

google search results

See that? The first three posts are lists of online forums related to personal finance.

Join all the forums you can find and then try to share your blog posts in the least promotional way possible. Try to sneak your links into relevant discussions where they add some value.

Quora

Quora is a website where anyone can ask a question and virtually anyone including you can answer.

What you need to know about Quora is that it receives millions of free visitors every month from Google and has millions of people who visit their platform every day.

Answering questions on Quora can help you build up your presence on the platform but that's not what this is about. We want to drive traffic from Quora to our blog posts.

And it's easier than it sounds.

All you have to do is answer questions people post and link to blog posts on your blog that is relevant to the question. But don't just simply link out to your blog posts.

The best way to drive traffic to your blog from Quora is to answer half the question in your answer and then leave a link at the bottom of the answer to a blog post on your blog where people can find more information.

Quora allows everyone to answer questions. So, there are a lot of answers to every question on Quora. If you want your answer at the top, you need to write the best answer you can.

Whether or not your answer is displayed on the top depends on a lot of factors including how many upvotes it gets and how many upvotes your previous answers to other questions on the topic have gotten.

Although a way to trick the algorithm hasn't been found, here are some tips on improving your Quora Answers and make sure they stand out:

  • Add some images to your content and make it visual. Visual content gets more upvotes. And more upvotes means your answer is displayed above others.
  • Use better formatting. If your answer looks like a block of text from a thousand-year-old scripture, no one will want to read or upvote it. Make sure you use bullet points, and other formatting options wherever possible.
  • Break down text into smaller chunks. Avoid large paragraphs.
  • Share it as soon as you post it. Getting some upvotes in the first few hours of posting your answer helps increase the chances of it reaching the top.

Here's how to find the best questions to answer:

Step #1: Search Your Blog's Topic:

quora topics

Step #2: Look For Questions Where You Stand a Chance

quora

Most questions will be very broad and will have literally thousands of answers. You don't stand a chance answering these questions and getting many views. I say it not to discourage you.

When you are just starting out, start by answering questions that are a bit more specific and don't have many answers.

Once you have built up your profile, you can start answering broad questions that have lots of answers.

Reddit

Reddit's tagline is that it's the Homepage of the Internet. If you don't know already, Reddit is the home to more than a million online communities.

There's a community on Reddit for literally everything, from Golf to Armed Weapons.

Whatever your niche is, you can easily find dozens subreddit (community) for it on Reddit.

To find subreddits related to your blog's niche, visit Reddit and then enter your niche in the search box and hit enter:

reddit

You will see lots of Reddit communities on the search page:

sub reddits

Do you see how many subscribers each of these subreddits have? Two of them have literally millions.

Subscribe to all of the subreddits you can find that are relevant to your niche.

Reddit is a community just like any other on the Internet.

If you want to promote your blog on Reddit, you have to first add some value to the discussion. If you promote your blog way too much, you stand the chance of getting banned by Reddit.
Redditors, as they are called, don't like self-promotion and they hate marketers.

If you want to get traffic from Reddit, first add value to the community and maybe even share a few blog posts from other blogs that you like.

When you post your link on Reddit, you might receive enough traffic to have your servers go down or you might receive only a few visitors. Reddit's algorithm is a bit odd. Sometimes it will punish you, sometimes it will reward you in unexpected ways.

Blogger Outreach

Blogger Outreach is the oldest trick in the book but no expert blogger likes to talk about it. It's probably because it works so well.

If you want your blog to succeed, you need to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche.

Most of the professional bloggers in your niche who are right now making thousands of dollars from their blogs have built relationships with the other pro bloggers in their niche.

At first building relationships might seem like a really difficult task. But it's not that difficult.

Think of it as making friends but on the Internet.

Once you have relationships with the top bloggers in your niche, every blog post that you write will receive thousands of shares in no time. All you have to do is reach out to them.

Blogger Outreach is simply reaching out to other bloggers and asking them to share your latest blog post with their audience.

Why would they do it?

Because anyone who has a big audience online needs to feed their audience regularly with great content to stay relevant.

If these bloggers in your industry don't want their audience to forget them, they need to post lots and lots of content on Social Media. And there's only enough content a single person or even a team can create.

When you ask them to share your content, granted it's good, you are actually helping them out as much as they are helping you.

Here's how it works:

Step #1: Search For “Top X Bloggers” On Google

google

This is the easiest way to find bloggers in your niche. You can easily find hundreds of bloggers this way. Make a list of all these bloggers.

Step #2: Reach Out To Them

See? I told you it was easy. It's just two simple steps.

Once you have a list of bloggers that you can reach out to, you need to actually contact them and ask for a share.

I recommend sending them an email because it will increase the chances of them reading and responding to it.

To find a blogger's email, just check out their about page and their contact page. Most of the time you will be able to find it quickly. (Alternatively, you can use a tool like hunter.io find almost anyone's email address)

If you can't find their email address, feel free to reach out to them via the contact form on their website.

Here's an example of an outreach email (loads more templates here) that you can send:

Hey [Name]
I just came across your blog [Blog Name]. I love the content.
I recently started my own blog on the topic.
Here's a recent blog post I think you will enjoy:
[Link to your blog post]
Let me know what you think and feel free to share it with your audience if you think they will like it. 🙂
Keep up the good work!
Your new fan,
[Your Name]

Although the above example is an email, it doesn't mean you can only reach out to them via email. It works just as well if you send them this email message as a Direct Message on Twitter on Facebook.

As with anything else in life, you will receive a few rejections and there will be times when you won't receive a response at all.

Remember that you are only trying to build a relationship with these bloggers in your niche. There's no need to push them too much or pressure them into sharing your content.

If you can provide them value first, be sure to do it.

Simply sharing a blog post from their blog and tagging them in it on Twitter or Facebook is a great way to grab their attention before you reach out to them.

13. How to start a blog to make money (Ways to monetize your blog)

There are a lot of ways bloggers make money. Below are some of the most common ways to monetize your blog.

how to make money blogging

Some methods of making money with your blog are easier than others. Some methods will require you to learn a few skills but the payoff will be huge.

The more time and effort you invest in your business, the more money you will make. Your blog is your business. It's an asset.

If you are just starting out, don't worry too much about making money from the get-go, the more time you invest in your blog, the more this asset will grow.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and profitable ways of monetizing a blog.

Affiliate marketing is when you get rewarded for promoting someone else’s product or service. You link to a product or service using an affiliate tracking link. When someone clicks through that link and makes a purchase, then you earn a commission.

There are literally thousands of affiliate programs out there to join. Here are some I recommend:

  • Amazon Associates – Get paid when your blog visitors buy products on Amazon through your affiliate links on your blog.
  • Bluehostis the web host I recommend and they have one of the most popular web hosting company affiliate programs out there.
  • Commission Junction and ShareASale – Huge affiliate marketing networks with thousands of retailers which products and services you can promote on your blog.

Display ads

Displaying ads on your website is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make money with your blog. It is as simple as it sounds. You join an advertising network like Google Adsense and place their JavaScript code on your website where you wish to display the ad.

display ads examples

The amount of money you make from ads will depend on a large number of factors. One of the more important is how much an advertiser is willing to pay for the demographics of your readers. If most of your readers are from 3rd world countries, then don't expect advertisers to pay you top dollars.

The most important factor when it comes to ad revenue is your niche and what you write about.

If you are writing about an industry where it is difficult to get new customers and the value of each customer to businesses is very high, then you can expect to get paid a good amount of money.

There are many different advertising models bloggers can use to generate revenue. Here are just a few:

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Once you place an ad on your website, you will get paid every time someone clicks it. This is called CPC (or cost per click) advertising. This is the model that is the most profitable. You get paid for every single click.

How much you get paid for every click depends on what industry your blog is in. In competitive industries where the cost of acquiring new customers is high, you can expect to get paid high rates.

If your blog is in the insurance industry, you can easily get a $10 – $50 CPC. That means you will receive $10 – $50 per click.

For most other niches with medium demand, you can expect to get a nominal $1 – $2 CPC rate. But if you are in a niche where it is easy to acquire customers or where customers don't spend much money, then you might get paid a much lesser rate.

The amount of money you make from Ads depends on the industry or niche you are in. Some industries pay more, others pay less. That's just how it works and there's nothing you can do about it.

If you are considering CPC advertising, then here are two networks I recommend:

Google Adsense is a publisher advertising platform by Google. It has been around for a very long time and a lot of pro bloggers have made their fortune from this ad network. Because it is a Google company, it is one of the most trusted advertising platforms on the Internet.

They offer a lot of different types of ads including Responsive Ads that adapt to the user's screen size. They let you control what type of ads appear on your website and allow you to disable ads individually if you want. Their ads blend easily with your website's design without ruining the user experience.

Media.net is a giant in the Advertising industry. They have been around for a long time and are one of the most trusted players in the game. They offer many different types of ads including Native Ads, Contextual Ads, and of course, Display Ads. Their ads look great and blend in with your content.

Unlike most ad networks, Media.net displays beautiful ads that not only look great but blend in with your website's content. Before you can start displaying their ads on your website, you need to first fill out an application. This network is of high quality because of its process of elimination through the application form.

Cost Per Mille (Thousand) Views

CPM (or Cost Per Mille) is an advertising model where you get paid for every 1000 ad views. How much you get paid depends on what industry your blog is in. There are a few minor differences between CPC and CPM. And depending on your blog's niche, you might make more money with CPC than with CPM or vice-versa. The trick is to experiment with both types of ads.

BuySellAds is a marketplace that allows you to buy and sell ad space based on impressions. It's a platform that allows bulk buying and selling of ad space impressions. They are trusted by some very big publications including NPR and VentureBeat.

The problem with BuySellAds is that they try to maintain the quality of their marketplace and as such have high standards for the websites and properties they accept. If you want to work with BuySellAds, I recommend only applying once you start gaining some traction.

Direct Selling

Selling ads directly to an advertiser is a great way of generating revenue and keeping a positive cash flow. If you want to get paid in advance for the ads you display on your website, selling your inventory directly is the best way to go.

There are only a few ways to sell your inventory directly. You can either reach out to businesses in your niche and sell them your inventory or you can advertise on your blog that you sell advertising space.

A word of warning about the lesser-known advertising networks

There are a lot of advertising networks out there but here's a word of advice: a lot of them are scams. It's not uncommon to hear bloggers complaining about an ad network that just vanished with thousands of dollars of their earnings.

If you want to go the advertising route, only work with ad networks that are already known and are trusted in the industry. Reading reviews about ad networks before putting their ads on your site is a good precaution.

Sell services

Selling services related to your niche is a great way to make a side income from your blog. Although in the beginning, you will not make much money this way, as your traffic grows you can turn your side hustle into a full-time freelance business. And if your niche is big enough, you might even be able to turn your freelance service into a full-time agency.

When deciding what you can sell to your readers, make a list of things that your readers usually require and then cross off any of the items that you don't feel confident in.

If you run a fitness blog, maybe you can sell a customized diet plan if you are a dietitian or a certified medical practitioner. If you run a personal finance blog, you can offer your personal finance advice as a service.

How To Promote Your Services

Once you have a service in mind that you want to sell to your readers, you will need to promote it to people who read your blog. If no one knows you sell a service, they won't be able to buy it.

Services Page

The easiest place to start is to create a services/hire me page for your blog. You only need a few things on this page. The most important one of all is a list of services you provide and a detailed description of what exactly it is that you offer.

I also recommend writing down how your process works in detail. This will let your clients know what to expect.

Another thing you can add to your services page is a list of case studies or your portfolio. If you are a marketing consultant, people will want to know how you have helped other businesses in the past.

Showcasing a detailed case study of your previous work helps convince prospective customers that you can actually fulfill your service. If you are a web designer or do some sort of visual work like Graphic Design, you may want to showcase your portfolio on this page.

Next, you may want to showcase other businesses in your niche that you have worked with. Most people don't showcase who they have worked with unless they have worked with a big corporation like Microsoft.

But when you are selling a service to a niche, showcasing a list of business however small who you have worked in the past can help build credibility.

Finally, you may wish to list your pricing information on your services page. Most freelancers prefer not to do this so that they can raise their prices with each new customer.

Utilize the sidebar

If you want people to know that you are selling a service, you have to actively promote it. A simple way to do this is to place a banner/graphic on the sidebar of your blog that links to your services page.

It will catch attention and make sure your services page doesn't go unread.

Promote Your Services In Your Blog Posts

Most people hesitate to promote themselves or their services worrying they will come across as spammy or too “salesy”. But that couldn't be far from the truth. When people read your blog regularly, they begin to trust you.

And when they need a service in your niche, there is no one they trust more than they trust you. So, promoting your service in your blog posts where it is appropriate is a great way to land your first few clients.

Information Products

Information Products are nothing new. An information product is something that sells packaged information such as an eBook or an online course.

information products
Most blogging experts rave about information products and call them the best type of product you can promote on your blog.

And there are a couple of reasons for that:

Low Investment

Writing an eBook or creating an online course can take up some time but it doesn't require much money and if you are ready to do some extra work, it doesn't require any money at all. On the other hand, if you decide to create a software product, it will cost you well over thousands of dollars.

Low Maintenance

Once you create an information product, be it an online course or an eBook, there is not much need to keep updating it. You may need to update your course material once every few months but the maintenance cost of an information product is way lower than any other type of product.

Easy To Scale

An information product is a digital product and can be copied as many times as you like. Unlike a physical product, you don't need to wait for a shipment of your product to arrive from another country before you can start selling. You can sell information products to both 100 people and a million people without any increase in the manufacturing cost.

High Profit

Unlike Physical Products or Software Products, there is no maintenance cost or ongoing development cost. Once you create the information product, the costs are over. Everything you make after that is just profit.

If you are just starting out and have never made any money before, I recommend you to start with advertising and then once you have got your feet wet, move to information products.

Now, creating and delivering an information product requires you to learn a lot of different skills and a section in an article can't do it justice. Even writing a whole book won't do the topic of creating and selling courses any justice.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

Coaching

If you run a blog in a niche where Coaching is possible, then coaching your clients can be a very lucrative option for making money with your blog. Your regular readers trust you and want to learn from the experts.

If you know how to coach people in your niche or think that you can learn how to do it, then you should consider coaching people as a way to generate an income from your blog.

How much you can make as a coach will depend on what niche you are in. For example, if you are coaching software developers on creating complex algorithms for their companies, then you can expect to make well over $10,000 per month with even a few clients. But on the other hand, if you are a dating coach catering to college students, then you might not make much money at all.

14. Frequently asked questions about starting a blog

I receive emails from readers of this blog almost every day and I get asked the same questions over and over again. Below I try to answer as many of them as I can.

Note: The above guide that you just read contains all the information you need to start and run a successful blog. If you skip this section or a few questions below, you aren't missing out on any critical information. Feel free to skip the questions you don't understand.

So what is a blog?

The term “blog” was first invented in 1997 by John Barger when he called his Robot Wisdom site a “weblog”.

A blog is very similar to a website. I would say that a blog is a type of website, and the main difference between a website and a blog is that a blog's content (or blog posts) is presented in reverse chronological order (newer content appear first).

Another difference is that blogs are usually updated more often (once a day, once a week, once a month), while a website's content is more ‘static'.

Do I need to be a computer genius to learn how to start a blog?

Most people fear that starting a blog requires specialized knowledge and takes a lot of hard work. If you were to start a blog in 2002, you would need to hire a web developer or know how to write code. But that's no longer the case.

Starting a blog has become so easy that a 10-year-old could do it. WordPress, Content Management System (CMS) software that you used to create your blog, is one of the easiest ones out there. It is designed for beginners.

Learning how to use WordPress is as easy as learning how to post a picture on Instagram.

Granted, the more time you invest in this tool, the more options you will have for what you want your blog and content to look like. But even if you are just starting, you can learn the ropes in only a few minutes.

Set 45 seconds aside right now and sign up for a free domain name and blog hosting with Bluehost to get your own blog all set up and ready to go

If you just want to write blog posts, then you have nothing to fear.

And in the future, if you ever want to do more, it is really easy to add more functionality to WordPress. You just need to install plugins.

What web host should I go with?

There are thousands of web hosts on the Internet. Some are premium and others cost less than a packet of gum. The problem with most web hosts is that they don't offer what they promise.

What does that mean?

Most shared hosting providers who say they offer unlimited bandwidth put an invisible cap on the number of people who can visit your website. If too many people visit your website in a short period of time, the host will suspend your account.

And that's only one of the tricks web hosts use to trick you into paying a year in advance.

If you want the best services and reliability, go with Bluehost. They are the most trusted and the most reliable web host on the Internet. They host websites of some very big, popular bloggers.

The best thing about Bluehost is that their support team is one of the best in the industry. So, if your website ever goes down, you can reach out to the customer support team any time of the day and get help from an expert.

Another great thing about Bluehost is their Blue Flash service, you can start blogging within minutes without any technical know-how. All you have to do is fill a few form fields and click a few buttons to have your blog installed and configured in less than 5 minutes.

There are of course good alternatives to Bluehost. One is SiteGround (my review here). Check out my SiteGround vs Bluehost comparison.

Should I hire a marketing agency to help grow my blog?

Whoa whoa slow down!

Most beginners make the mistake of rushing in and trying to do everything at once.

If this is your first blog, I recommend that you treat it like a side hobby project until you start seeing some traction.

Wasting thousands of dollars a month on marketing isn't worth it if you still haven't figured out how you will make money or that if you can even make money in your blog's niche.

Is a VPS better than Shared Hosting?

Yes but when you are just starting out, I recommend going with a shared hosting company like Bluehost.

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) offers you a virtualized semi-dedicated server for your website. It's like getting a small slice of a bigger pie. Shared hosting offers you a small chunk of a slice of a pie. And a dedicated server is like buying a whole pie.

The bigger slice of the pie you own, the more visitors your website can handle. When you are just starting out, you will receive less than a few thousand visitors a month and as such shared hosting will be all you need. But as your audience grows, your website will require more server resources (a bigger piece of the pie.)

Do I really need to backup my website regularly?

You have heard of Murphy's law right? That is “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.

If you make a change to your website's design and accidentally break something that locks you out of the system, how will you fix it? You would be surprised to know how many times this happens to bloggers.

Or worse, what will you do if your website gets hacked?

All the content that you spent hours creating will be just gone.

This is where regular backups come handy.

Broke your website trying to customize the color settings? Just revert your site to an older backup.

If you want my recommendations for backup plugins, check out the section on recommended plugins.

How do I become a blogger and get paid?

The harsh reality is that most bloggers don’t earn a life-changing income from their blogs. But it is possible, believe me.

Three things need to happen for you to become a blogger and get paid.

First, you need to create a blog (duh!).

Second, you need to monetize your blog, some of the best ways to get paid from blogging are via affiliate marketing, display ads and selling your own physical or digital products.

Third and final (and also the hardest), you need to get visitors/traffic to your blog. Your blog needs traffic and your blog's visitors need to click on ads, sign up via affiliate links, buying your products – because that is how your blog will make money, and for you as a blogger to be paid.

How much money can I realistically make from my blog?

The amount of money you can make with your blog is virtually unlimited. There are bloggers like Ramit Sethi who make millions of dollars in a week every time they launch a new online course.

Then, there are authors like Tim Ferriss, who break the web when they publish their books using blogging.

But I am not a genius like Ramit Sethi or Tim Ferrissyou say.

Now, of course, these can be called outliers, but making thousands of dollars in income from a blog is quite common in the blogging community.

Although you won't make your first million in your first year of blogging, you can turn your blog into a business as it starts to gain some traction and once your blog starts to grow, your income will grow with it.

The amount of money you can make from your blog depends on how good you are at marketing and how much time you invest in it.

Should I start a free blog on platforms like Wix, Weebly, Blogger or SquareSpace?

When starting a blog, you might think about considering starting a free blog on a platform like Wix or Squarespace. There are a lot of blogging platforms on the Internet that allow you to start a blog for free.

Free blogging platforms are good places to test things out, but if your goal is to generate an income from blogging, or eventually build a business around your blog then I recommend you avoid the free blog platforms. Instead go with a company like Bluehost. They'll get your blog installed, configured and all ready-to-go.

Here are some of the reasons why I recommend against it:

  • No customization or difficult to customize: Most free platforms offer little to no customization options. They lock it behind a paywall. If you want to customize more than just the name of your blog, you need to pay up.
  • No support: Blogging platforms won't offer much (if any) support if your website goes down. Most ask you to upgrade your account if you want access to support.
  • They put ads on your blog: It's not rare for free blogging platforms to put ads on your blog. To remove these ads, you will have to upgrade your account.
  • Most require an upgrade if you want to make money: If you want to make money blogging on free platforms, you need to start paying before they allow you to put your own ads on the website.
  • Switching to another platform, later on, will cost lots of money: Once your blog starts to gain some traction, you will want to add more functionality to it or simply have more control over your site. When you move a website from a free platform to WordPress on a shared host, it can cost you a lot of money because you will have to hire a developer to do so.
  • A free blog platform can delete your blog and all its content at any time: A platform that you don't own offers you no virtually no control over your website's data. If you unknowingly violate any of their terms, they can terminate your account and delete your data whenever they want without prior notice.
  • Lack of control: If you ever want to expand your website and maybe add an ecommerce component to it, you won't be able to on a free platform. But with WordPress, it's as easy as clicking a few buttons to install a plugin.

How much time will it take before I start seeing any money from my blog?

Blogging is a difficult job and takes a lot of time. If you want your blog to be successful, you will have to work hard at it for at least a few months. Once your blog starts gaining some traction, it grows like a snowball going downhill.

How fast your blog starts gaining traction depends on how good you are at marketing and promoting your blog. If you are an experienced marketer, you can start making money from your blog within the first week. But if you are just starting out, it can take you well over a few months to start making any money from your blog.

It also depends on how you choose to make money from your blog. If you decide to build an information product, then you will have to first build up an audience and then you will have to invest time and effort into actually creating the information product.

Even if you decide to outsource the creation of your information product to a freelancer, you will still have to wait until the information product is ready for selling.

On the other hand, If you decide to make money through ads, you will have to wait until your website is approved by an Ad Network. Most ad networks reject small websites that don't get much traffic.

So, you will have to first work on your blog before you can even apply to an ad network to make money. If you get rejected by a few ad networks, don't feel bad about it. It happens to all the bloggers.

What if I can't decide what to blog about?

If you can't decide what to blog about, just start blogging about your personal life and your life experiences. Many successful professional bloggers started out this way and now their blogs are successful businesses.

Blogging can be a great way to learn something new or improve your existing skills. If you are a web designer and you blog about web design tricks or tutorials, then you will be able to learn new things and improve your skill even faster. And if you do it right, you might even build an audience for your blog.

Even if your first blog fails, you will have learned how to create a blog and will have to knowledge to make your next blog successful. It is better to fail and learn than to not start at all.

Pages vs Posts, What's the difference?

Inherently, there isn't much of a difference between a post and a page. Technically, posts and pages are both the same thing. The biggest difference between the two is how they are displayed and where they are displayed.

Every post that you publish on your website will be displayed on the blogroll blog page/homepage of your website automatically. On the other hand, pages aren't displayed to the customer unless you link to them.

That means, if you publish a page titled Top Secret Page on your website and then don't link to it from any other pages of your website, then there is no way a user can find it.

When you create a page, you need to link to it from somewhere on your website if you want people to be able to find it. Most of the time you will link out to your pages from the header menu of your website or from the sidebar.

If you are still confused, just follow this convention: How I Created My First Blog Post should be a post and About Me should be a page. Basically use the formats for what they are supposed to be used for.

However, there isn't much difference between how search engines see a page and a post. Google sees both your posts and pages as pages on your website.

So, it really doesn't matter whether you use posts or pages. But I recommend that you keep it simple and use posts and pages how they are meant to be used.

Should I hire a web designer?

If you are taking up blogging as a long term project and don't shy away from some hard work, then hiring a designer might be a good idea for you.

Hiring a designer can help you create a custom design in your niche that is unique and helps you stand out. Working with a designer will make sure your online brand conveys your real identity and style. Although hiring a designer can be a huge advantage in a crowded niche, you need to remember that it can cost you a lot of money.

If you are just starting out and want to learn how to start a blog as a side hobby or aren't sure if you can invest a significant amount of money in web design, then I recommend buying a premium theme instead of hiring a designer.

Free Theme vs Premium Theme, what should I go for?

When you are just starting out, using a free theme on your blog sounds like a good idea but the biggest problem with using free themes is that if and when you switch to a new (premium) theme in the future, you will lose all the customization and it might break how things work on your website.

I love StudioPress themes. Because their themes are secure, fast loading and SEO friendly. Plus StudioPress's one-click demo installer will make your life a lot easier as it will automatically install any plugins used on the demo site, and update the content to match the theme demo.

Here are the biggest differences between a free and a premium theme:

Free Theme:

  • Support: Free themes are usually developed by individual authors who don't have the time to respond to support queries all day long and as such most of them avoid answering support queries at all.
  • Customization Options: Most free themes are developed in a haste and don't offer much (if any) customization options.
  • Security: Authors of free themes can't afford to spend time extensively testing the quality of their themes. And as such their themes may not be as secure as premium themes bought from trusted theme studios.

Premium Theme:

  • Support: When you buy a premium theme from a reputed theme studio, you get support directly from the team that created the theme. Most theme studios offer at least 1 year of free support with their premium themes.
  • Customization Options: Premium themes come with hundreds of options to help you customize almost all aspects of the design of your site. Most premium themes come bundled with premium page builder plugins that allow you to customize the design of your website by clicking a few buttons.
  • Security: Popular theme studios hire the best coders they can and invest in testing their themes for security loopholes. They also try to fix security bugs as soon as they find them.

I recommend that you start with a Premium Theme because when you go with a premium theme, you can rest assured that if anything breaks, you can contact the support team at any time.

What should I do if something breaks?

We all make mistakes. Sometimes your website will break because of some change you made or because of some random event like an update. The first thing to do is search Google for the errors. Most WordPress errors are very easy to solve and don't take much time to fix.

But for some errors, you will have to bring in some professional help because if you are not a web developer, then you might have a hard time fixing errors that appear on your website.

Here are a few places where you can find help:

  • Contact the theme/plugin developer: If the errors you are facing only started appearing after installing a new theme or plugin, the best thing to do is to disable the plugin and look for an alternative to it on Google. If you have purchased the plugin, then you should contact the developer and ask for help. (FYI this is another reason why you should use a premium theme – you get support.
  • WP Curve: is a subscription service that offers to fix all your WordPress problems for a small monthly price. Hiring a developer costs at least 5 times more than getting a WP Curve subscription. They will help fix small issues with your site and make small changes. They allow unlimited small job requests on all their plans.
  • Fiverr: is a marketplace where anyone can offer services. It started out as a platform that provided cheap services for $5 only. Even though Fiverr now allows freelancers to charge way more than just the original $5, you can easily find cheap freelancers on this platform who are ready to fix your problems.
  • Upwork: is where serious business owners go when they need to hire a freelancer. Whether you need a design overhaul or just need your WordPress site fixed, Upwork can help you find the right freelancer on a budget. I guess that's the best part about Upwork.

How much time before the free SEO traffic kicks in?

How much traffic you can receive from Google or any other search engine depends on a lot of factors that are out of your control.

Google is basically a set of computer algorithms that decide what website should be displayed in the top 10 results. Because there are hundreds of algorithms that make up Google and decide the rankings of your website, it is hard to guess when your website will start receiving traffic from Google.

If you are just starting out, it will probably take at least a few months before you see any traffic from search engines. Most websites take at least 6 months before they appear anywhere in Google search results.

This effect is dubbed the Sandbox effect by SEO Experts. But it doesn't mean your website will take 6 months to start getting traffic. Some websites start getting traffic from the second month.

It will also depend on how many backlinks your website has. If your website has no backlinks, then Google will rank it lower than other websites.

When a website links out to your blog, it acts as a trust signal to Google. It is the equivalent of the website telling Google that your website could be trusted.

How to get your domain to work with Bluehost?

Did you choose a new domain when you signed up with Bluehost? If so then check your email inbox to find the domain activation email. Click the button in the email to complete the activation process.

Did you choose to use an existing domain? Go to where the domain is registered (e.g. GoDaddy or Namecheap) and update the nameservers for the domain to:

Name Server 1: ns1.bluehost.com
Name Server 2: ns2.bluehost.com

If you’re unsure how to do it, reach out to Bluehost and have them walk you through how to do this.

Did you choose to get your domain later when you signed up with Bluehost? Then your account was credited for the amount of a free domain name.

bluehost domain setup

When you are ready to get your domain name, simply login to your Bluehost account and go to the “Domains” section and search for the domain you want.

At checkout, the balance will be $0 because the free credit has been automatically applied.

When the domain has been registered it will be listed under the “Domains” section in your account.

In the right-hand side panel of the page under the tab titled “Main” scroll down to “cPanel type” and click “Assign”.

Your blog will now be updated to use a new domain name. However please note that this process can take up to 4 hours.

How to login to WordPress once you have logged out?

To get to your WordPress blog login page, type in your domain name (or temporary domain name) + wp-admin into your web browser.

For example, say your domain name is wordpressblog.org then you would type in https://wordpressblog.org/wp-admin/to get to your WordPress login page.

wordpress login

If you don’t remember your WordPress login username and password, the login details are in the welcome email that was sent to you after you set up your blog. Alternatively, you can also log in to WordPress by first logging into your Bluehost account.

How to get started with WordPress if you're a beginner?

I find that YouTube is an excellent resource for learning WordPress. Bluehost's YouTube channel is jam packed with excellent video tutorials aimed at complete beginners.

how to get started with wordpress

A good alternative is WP101. Their easy to follow WordPress video tutorials have helped more than two million beginners learn how to use WordPress.

How to start a blog: step-by-step?

 
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BONUS: How to start a blog [infographic]

Here's an infographic summarizing how to start a blog (opens in a new window). You can share the infographic on your site using the embed code provided in the box below the image.

how to start a blog - infographic

Wrap up

If you are reading this, then congratulations! 🎉

You are one of the very few people who finish what they start.

Now when you know how to start a blog, you probably have a lot of questions going on in your mind about how you will expand your blog and turn it into a business or whether you should write a book or create an online course.

STOP!

You shouldn't worry about these things, yet.

Right now, all I want you to worry about is setting up your blog with Bluehost.com.

P.S. Black Friday is coming up and you can score yourself good Black Friday web hosting, WordPress and blogging deals.

Take everything one step at a time and you will be a successful blogger in no time.

For now, bookmark 📑 this blog post and come back to it whenever you need to revisit the basics of blogging. And be sure to share this post with your friends. Blogging is better when your friends are in it too. 😄

If you get stuck or have any questions for me about how to start a blog in 2021, just contact me and I will personally respond to your email.

This post contains affiliate links. For more info read my disclosure here

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HOW TO START A BLOG
(TO MAKE MONEY OR JUST FOR FUN)
DOWNLOAD MY FREE 30,000 WORD EBOOK ON 'HOW TO START A BLOG'
Join 1000+ other beginner bloggers and subscribe to my NEWSLETTER for my email updates and get my FREE 30,000-word guide to starting a successful blog.