How to Start a Blog – Everything You Need to Know to be Successful
While blogging continues to grow in popularity, the concept of learning how to start a successful blog is still a bit mysterious to most people. If you’ve considered starting a blog and want to generate income from it, then you can use this comprehensive overview to teach you everything you need to know to be successful.
We know success looks different for everyone, but in today’s post we’ll give you our best tips for starting a blog:
- How to set up your blog (hint: we’ll do it for you for free!).
- How to create blog content that resonates with your audience.
- How to find incredible images for your blog.
- Strategies for growing your blog traffic.
- How to make money blogging.
- Pro tips for a successful blog.
How to set up your blog
While it may look like we know what we’re doing now (we do for the most part, ha!), we’ll admit that the technical aspects of starting a new blog still feel a little daunting. We’ve spent countless hours watching YouTube videos, reading articles, pulling our hair out, and ultimately hiring experts to help with these tasks.
We did learn a whole lot through that process, and in just a second we’ll tell how we can really share that knowledge with you.
But in all honesty, starting a blog really only has four steps:
- Pick a domain name.
- Choose a hosting platform.
- Install WordPress (we like WordPress the best for blogging).
- Choose a design/template and customize it to your liking.
Fortunately, to make this even easier, Bobby put his teacher hat back on to walk you through the entire process of starting a blog, and then he goes one big step farther – setting it up and installing it for you for free with Launch That Blog. That means our team does the hard work so you can focus on content creation.
You’ll only need to pay $2.95 per month for hosting on Bluehost. Launch That Blog comes with so many extras too, so check it out if you’re interested in learning how to start a successful blog.
How to create great content that resonates
Once you have your blog up and running the next hurdle is writing. You may have a bunch of ideas already, but the key here is going to be consistently offering great content, and writer’s block is something that even successful bloggers struggle with.
Find relevant topics to write about
The best way to create relevant content is to think about ways you can answer questions or solve problems for your audience.
Say your blog about parenting and you’re constantly getting DMs about how you make it all look so easy. The reality is that you’ve probably just found a way to make it look easy, so write that post. Your audience will appreciate your honesty and will feel good knowing they’re involved in the process.
You can also research keywords related to your niche and see what topics are trending. There are advanced tools, like Ahrefs, that can help you with this, but doing Google searches will show you which types of posts rank well. Of course, you should never steal content, but you definitely should research it.
Once you have some content live on your blog, you can utilize your analytics to come up with new blog posts. Look at which posts are performing well and work on related topics. An example would be a personal finance blogger seeing a lot of traffic going to post about refinancing student loans. Use that information to create more posts related to student loans. These could be the best student loan refinancing companies, other ways to pay down your student debt, etc.
Make your content is about your audience, not just about you
Of course, your audience will want to get to know you better, but ultimately people want to read content that speaks to experiences in their life. This often comes in the form of actionable advice that is written with the reader’s perspective in mind.
You’ll also want to write as if you are speaking directly to a single reader. This is using the word “you” to put your audience in the article.
Write in a conversational tone to connect with your audience
Blogging is about getting your point across in an entertaining or educational way, meaning it’s usually best if it isn’t formal. That means writing as if you are speaking to a friend.
And while you shouldn’t worry too much about grammar and punctuation, you don’t want to make glaring spelling or grammar mistakes. Using tools like Grammarly can help, and you may eventually decide you’d like to hire an editor once your income grows.
Break up your blog text into digestible blocks
Long sentences and paragraphs can be tedious to read, meaning shorter sentences and paragraphs will better hold your reader's attention.
You can also break up long blocks of text with bulleted or numbered lists, headings, images and video. The goal is to maintain your reader’s interest for as long as possible.
Write better headlines
Think of a headline as a first impression. If it goes well, you might get a second date.
You want to make a reader curious enough to click over for more. To do this, we recommend using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, which is a free tool to help you up your headline game.
How to find incredible images for your blog
As we mentioned earlier, images are a great way to break up a blog post and add interest. For some niches, taking your own photos or hiring a photographer will be necessary, but many blogs can use free stock photos.
You can also use a site like Canva or PicMonkey to add graphics to your images or create Instagram stories, Pinterest pins, etc.
Strategies for growing blog traffic
Understandably, most new bloggers are fixated on growing traffic quickly, and traffic growth is really important if you want to know how to start a successful blog. But, it shouldn’t be your sole focus because without great content, traffic will only do so much.
When you’ve got a steady stream of good content coming in, then there are several ways to grow your traffic – we suggest tackling one or two methods at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Once you have mastered the first methods, give others a try.
Promoting posts on social media
Sharing your work on social media is a no-brainer, and creating social media accounts for your blog is something you should do from the beginning. We suggest creating business accounts instead of solely relying on your personal accounts so that you can gain access to insights and analytics that will help you grow your blog traffic.
To get the most from Pinterest, you will need to create beautiful, eye-catching pins with bold colors and easy to read fonts. Canva is a great place to create your pins for free. You’ll want to add relevant keywords in the descriptions of your images and your boards. Remember, Pinterest is more of a search engine than a social media platform.
Pin frequently and share content from others, not just your own. It can be pretty time consuming to do this manually but there is a tool called Tailwind that can help automate your pinning.
We recommend this course that will give you even more insight into the strategies behind building your traffic through Pinterest.
If there is a blog you read and resonate with, reach out to the blogger and pitch a guest post. It’s beneficial to both of you because it provides free content for them and free promotion for you.
Make sure you are able to backlink to your own site and include your social media info so that their readers can find and follow you.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is optimizing your content in a way that increases the visibility of your site through organic search results. Because search engines, like Google, read through websites and rank them using algorithms, SEO makes your blog content more readable and potentially ranking higher.
SEO can be pretty complex to learn and implement, but there are many simple tips and tricks you can use to get started.
- Research keywords that are relevant to the topic you are writing about and use those throughout the post.
- Add alt tags to any images or media you add to you post, containing the keywords if possible.
- Try to use the relevant keyword in your URL.
- Use headings and subheadings to organize your post.
- Link to reputable publications and resources in your post.
- Link to other related posts from your blog.
- Work to get other sites to backlink to your site. This is another reason guest posting is beneficial. You can also pitch freelance writing opportunities that link back to your content.
- Research the competition. Find sites that come up first in Google search rankings and learn from them. Never copy the posts but look at the structure, the style, the types of media they use, etc.
We know that paid traffic is a little controversial, with some bloggers preferring organic traffic growth. But, paid traffic is one of our favorite ways to grow a blog – it can be inexpensive, highly targeted, and gets results when done well.
Facebook ads are our preferred method of paid traffic because you can put your content in front of people who are already interested in the topics you write about. Making the decision to start buying Facebook ads just three years ago is how Millennial Money Man grew its reach to 2,000,000 readers per year.
While the average cost per click on Facebook is typically much higher, we are able to get blog clicks for as little as 3-5 cents each. We launched our course Facebook Ads for Bloggers to teach bloggers how to get insanely cheap clicks to quickly scale blog traffic and build an email list.
How to make money blogging
Awesome content? Check.
Growing a steady stream of traffic? Check.
Now you’re ready to learn how to make money blogging.
Before we go on, know that blogging isn’t a quick way to make money. It’s actually a pretty slow business model overall – it would be irresponsible of us to not bring this up. It will take a serious amount of work to build, maintain, and grow your blog. The rewards, though? They can be pretty incredible.
A sponsored blog post is when a brand pays a blogger to talk about a product or service, and it isn’t necessary to have a huge following when your audience and platform align well with the brand’s goals.
Another way is to contact brands directly through email or DM. It’s best to only offer just a little bit of your pitch in your intro email, but do make sure to tell them why you are interested in collaborating. Also, ask for a blogger/media contact and then send your actual pitch to that person.
Once your blog grows, brands will start to reach out to you. To make it easy for them to do so, include a “Work With Me” to share your contact information.
Affiliate marketing is one of our favorite ways to make money blogging because it can be a great source of long term passive income once the upfront work is done. If you want to learn how to start a successful blog, affiliate marketing is where you’ll want to work towards.
Affiliate marketing is when a blogger promotes products and services created by other brands. The company gives you a special link to use on your blog when talking about those products, which tracks where new customers are coming from. Then, when someone buys a product through your link, you earn a commission.
It becomes passive because affiliate links allow you to continue making money any time someone reads your posts and buys the product or service you recommend. However, you will still need to maintain your posts and continue driving traffic to your site.
To find potential affiliates, here are several networks to apply to:
Some brands chose to run their own affiliate programs rather than going through a network. So, if there is a brand you’d like to work with that isn’t listed in a network, Google the brand’s name + “affiliate program.” But, you can also try sending them an email or DM to find out if they work with affiliates.
We learned everything we know about affiliate marketing from our good friend Michelle who blogs at Making Sense of Cents. She has an amazing strategy that is earning her six figures a month in blog income, and she shares it in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
You know those ads you see on blogs, the ones that are usually on the sidebar or bottom of the page? That’s display advertising. They’re actually what most bloggers use for monetization in the beginning as they are learning how to start a successful blog.
Basically, you make money when someone clicks on one of those ads. You can start using Google AdSense regardless of how many site visitors you have, but once you have more traffic, you can use platforms like MediaVine and AdThrive.
There is some debate in the blogging community about display ads. Some bloggers think the ads lessen the overall user experience, whereas other bloggers use lots of ads to grow their income. We suggest doing what feels right for you and your blogging brand. You’re building trust with your readers, so pay attention to what they will and won’t want in their experience on your blog.
Freelance work related to your blog
As you launch and maintain your blog, you are going to be learning some valuable skills, and these skills are something you can turn into freelance work for small businesses, other blogs, and social media accounts. You can offer services like copywriting, editing, social media management, photo editing, etc.
We think that freelance work is one of the best ways for how to start a successful blog, because the side hustle aspect means you can scale it as you want, supporting your blog as you go. As your blogging income grows, you can focus on the income streams that are the most lucrative or interesting to you.
Freelancing through your blog is acknowledging that learning how to start a successful blog takes time, and you’ll need to find ways to fund that dream in the meantime.
Creating digital products or services such as e-books or courses
This is obviously an area that we are working to grow, and we’ve been really excited about how it’s been going so far. It’s sharing your knowledge and expertise in an even more in-depth way, and it can also be very lucrative in the long run.
But, it’s really only something you’ll want to do after building trust with your audience. They need to know that you have more to offer than you already are, and by more, we mean something they’d pay for.
Listen to Episode 15 of the Laptop Empires podcast to learn why the first course you create on your blog should be free.
How to start a successful blog – the pro tips
To really make this a more comprehensive guide to how to start a successful blog, we wanted to cover a few more things and questions that didn’t quite fit into the categories we listed above.
Is it too late to start a blog? Is the market too saturated?
It’s definitely not too late to start a blog. While blogging has certainly exploded in recent years, there’s still room for new and fresh perspectives.
Even if there are 1,000 bloggers in your niche already, none of them have the same experiences and personality as you have – leverage that to find your tribe and serve them well.
Learn more at Is Blogging Dead?
How much content do I need to create?
The most important thing for good content is quality, not quantity.
We recommend starting with one blog post per week. This will allow you time to promote your post and engage with your readers. When you decide to add more posts, just make sure you are consistent. So, if you can’t maintain three posts per week, then don’t try to.
How do I deal with haters/trolls/doubters?
You will inevitably run across the occasional negative comment, but don’t let them get to you.
Learning how to start a successful blog means you’ll need to find ways to deal with criticism. You can ignore the negativity, delete comments, block users, or even use the haters to motivate you to grow even more (“hate fuel” as Mike Yanda likes to call it).
Honestly, though, you’re going to find that you have WAY more supporters than doubters, and it’s best to just focus on the 99% of people who like your work and support you.
Start an email list today
Not starting an email list early on is one of the most common regrets you’ll hear from professional bloggers. Seriously, we hear it all the time.
Email converts very well for sales and driving traffic to blogs. So, learning how to grow an email list can make all the difference as you start to promote certain posts with affiliate links, eventually create a product to sell, etc. It’s also just a great place to connect on a more personal level with the readers who love you enough to give you their email address.
The best part? Your email list belongs entirely to you. You aren’t relying on a middle man, like Facebook or Instagram, to bring your readers over. All you have to do is send an email.
Because of how important your list will be, we highly recommend that you learn how to build an email list in the beginning of your blog journey.
We believe that all business owners can benefit from content creation, and we believe there is ample opportunity to build personal brands through blogging in 2019 and beyond.
You can lend your voice, share your passions, and launch a successful blog if you choose. We are here cheering you on and offering our insights. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast and join our email list so we can stay in touch.
We’d love to hear from you! Introduce yourself in the comments below and let us know a bit about yourself and your thoughts on blogging. Have you already started? What niche are you interested in? Is there anything holding you back?