This one ties into the last point. The user experience of any digital space, whether it's your website or an app, can make or break that space's success. In short, visitors won't stick around if your site's user experience is poor. Furthermore, if you don't know who your audience is and what they want, you can't know for sure if your blog's user experience is optimized for them.
Schaefer and Smith state that a blogger does not need to be a good writer in the classic sense of a Pulitzer Prize winner or literary great. Bloggers, they say, must be natural conversationalists – writers and speakers able to get their points across not with jargon or in boardroom speak; but in dialogue that builds rapport, much like what takes place when we sit down to have a drink with a friend. In other words, blogging is not just about text. It is less objective and structured than article or presentation writing. It is more personal, more intimate, because the blog writer is looking to start a relationship founded on their opinions and perspectives.
Allow readers to purchase your own products or donate to your cause through your blog. If you have an online store for selling arts and crafts, or you create T-shirt designs available through a clothing website, provide links to those sites. Including a PayPal button for quick, safe purchases or donations is a common way to monetize creative blogs, or blogs that provide free advice or assistance to those who can't afford it.
Second job, anyone? In America, two-income families are the norm but think of the havoc it wreaks on your daily life. You’re so exhausted by the time you get home from work; you barely have enough time and energy to make dinner and help the kids out with their homework. Even that becomes difficult if you work at more than one place, whether evenings or on weekends.
Unnecessary plugins. Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. You’ll see a list of plugins, all of which I delete (the only plugin I might keep at the beginning is the Bluehost plugin). A plugin must be deactivated before it can be deleted. So, if you hover over a plugin you may have to choose “Deactivate” then repeat the process to see the “Delete” link. As I explain later, plugins can slow your site down and make things glitchy so I use them very sparingly. I only add a plugin when I have a clear reason to do so. I’ll give my plugin recommendations in a bit.
Once you’re up and running with your hosting account, your next step is to install WordPress, the most popular blogging platform, onto your newly-minted blog. This is a rather straightforward process, so don’t be alarmed here. In your Bluehost control panel, you’ll find a simple one-click logo icon with the description “Install WordPress,” that will help guide you along in the process.
Choose your topic. The best blogs focus on topics that you, the blogger, are passionate about. This topic can be anything that you believe you have enough to say about to interest others. It works best if you can find a “niche” that is not being fully exploited. There are several important things to keep in mind when choosing your blog topic:
To make your site safe, all you need to do is turn on the SSL certificate. It controls the data transfer on your site and makes it unreadable to nosy people who might sniff the data from an outside. But before you start worrying that only technicians and internet experts know how to do this, let us show you how you can get a FREE secure connection in just a few steps:
“I signed up about a month ago and set up a page with the help of Jennifer. She responded immediately and helped all the way to my satisfaction. I foolishly tried doing my 2nd site with WordPress/BlueHost on my own and was road-blocked, frustrated, and told that for $80 I could sign up for a training seminar because they “aren’t there to help with design” lol What was I thinking!!
Great article. I recently came into blogging. I hadn’t completed what quantity I had learnt from my initial try. currently, with the new diary, I started a few month alone, I’m seeing a rise in traffic on a daily basis that is kind of stunning and really exciting. therefore I even have been reading everywhere the way to legitimize a diary. Your article is superb and in-depth. Many thanks for sharing. I will be able to definitely take on some of your advice. Cheers Jamie!
Hi Anna! I love that you already know blogging is your calling! You’re totally right that there are many possible directions to go, but you won’t truly know which is the one that will make you most successful until you get out there and try a few things. Also, with practice, you’ll be much more likely to see posts take off. I don’t think you need to be afraid to start, though. As long as you start your blog off the way I’ve outlined in the post, you’re going to have such a great start. This is everything I wish I would have known in my first years of blogging that would have helped me become successful so much faster. You can do it! And I hope you’ll stop by and give me an update about how you’re doing as you do get started :)
I believe you need a combination of a customer nurturing process where you focus on your existing best customers at the same time as you use content and community to spread the word. However in my opinion I think bloggers get the ratio too skewed in the wrong direction, they spend too much time trying to reach new people when there are much bigger gains to be made refining what works already with your nice small tribe of buyers.
If you want to really make money with your blog, you need to create a mailing list using one of the billions of email service providers out there. I use and love ConvertKit, but if you are just getting started and don’t understand sales funnels, sequences, or tagging you might want to start off with something simpler and free. If that is the case go with MailChimp where you get the first 2,000 subscribers free or Mailer Lite.
Ruth Soukup is a writer, blogger, mom of two, and the successful founder of the blog LivingWellSpendingLess.com. Since launching in 2010, Living Well Spending Less has become one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the net, receiving more than one million visitors per month. She is also the founder of the Elite Blog Academy, as well as the author of the bestselling blogging guide How to Blog for Profit (Without Selling Your Soul), and her next book, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life (Zondervan) will be released December 30th, 2014. For more information about Ruth, please visit LivingWellSpendingLess.com.
Hi Yaro, as usual a very strong and detailed post. Yes, nowadays it is very easy to get lost in the jungle of blogs. I think that if you plan to make a business with blogging, like I do, you first have to thoroughly study all the options available. And those options, as you just have mentioned, are ever increasing. Then there are people like me, who are artistic and thus more emotional, but also a bit introvert on the other site. I think the key to online success, or at least partially, is to literally start communicating with your future prospects. In the beginning that’s a bit scary, however I see a pattern emerging here. Talking to your prospects or subscribers is crucial for finding out what your audience is looking for with regard to both content and products. Even if you have a great sales funnel, it’s not of much use if you don’t know your audience well enough. This takes time, not only for yourself, but also for your future followers to accept you as their friend and mentor. It’s not only you who is shy, your audience is too.
Hi Carol, Sorry to hear about your troubles. Did you upload WordPress to Bluehost? If so, what you need to do now is upload a theme. There are free ones that you can use, or you can purchase one from StudioPress (this is what my blog is designed with now), Elegant Themes, or Thesis. I’ve heard the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes is super easy to modify. Don’t give up you can do this — with anything new, there is a learning curve.
If I concentrate only on existing customers I may have lose up many fans who can be my buyers too someday. If they did not buy my products no problem but they can help to spread my blog to others which is also a free advertising. In other words I need to have these sticky communities (regardless if they are buyers or not) to keep my blog active and alive by their comments, suggestions and contributions (in term of free articles).
Life experiences. Everyone has lessons they have learned through life experience. Sharing this knowledge can be incredibly helpful to others in similar situations. For example, I recently helped a woman start her blog about being a fireman’s wife. She has a lot of experience and knowledge to share with others about this topic, and it has helped her connect with others in similar situations.Think about the things you have experienced in life. This could be related to your family (example: a blog about being a stay at home mom), work (a blog about experiences dealing with clients), or other life experiences (a blog about dealing with a troubling time such as a disease or divorce, or about a happy time such as preparing for a wedding or a birth of a child).
Notoriety. Don’t plan on getting “Internet famous” right away. Not every site grows as fast as ours did, but that’s okay. The truth is that we kind of got lucky. We found a great domain name, we cobbled together a logo and site design that people liked, we write fairly well, and our content connects with people in a unique way. We didn’t start this site to become “famous” though. That’d be ridiculous. Our popularity came as a surprise to us, and it was a result of a little luck and a lot of hard, passionate work.
If you just want to earn an income from writing, I would go the freelance route, like what Gina teaches. I can definitely see how it can seem too good to be true, but you have to look at these fields, either blogging or freelance, as a job/business. It’s definitely not a get rich quick thing. Those who become successful work hard, just as anyone in a more conventional job does. What I love about Gina is she is an incredibly hard worker. If you look at her story, she started out in freelance while working full time, so she was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and working weekends so she could grow her income. She was so determined. Her first month she made $805. Amazing!
You have to be careful with statements like it’s just about getting people to give you an email address and that is where the relationship starts – it’s not, the reason why they signed up to your list is where it starts and frames the communication you then continue via the list. You are dealing with the motivation behind why people make decisions and every single point of interaction matters, not just what goes on with the email list.
Great Pricing. TheMinimalists.com is a Bluehost affiliate partner, which means that in addition to using their service, we also receive a commission for referring new customers. To be fair, though, we would still use Bluehost even if we weren’t an affiliate—we’ve used them for a long time. Ergo, we don’t recommend Bluehost just because we’re an affiliate (every hosting company offers a similar affiliate program); we recommend Bluehost because they are the best, most reliable option. Plus, because we’re a partner, Bluehost offers a 50% discount for The Minimalists readers: only $2.75 a month. That’s an outstanding price!
These pages are all pretty standard, but they’re also a great way to have some fun and let your readers get to know you. In fact, I use my About page to not only introduce who I am and tell my story, but also to explain my value proposition (for potential clients looking to hire me as a freelance content marketer) and show off some of my recent achievements.
Learn from other top bloggers: If you don’t feel ready to connect with other bloggers in your space, at least try to learn from what they’re doing. For Silas Moser, one half of Chasing Foxes told me, you should study people who are good at what you’re doing: “Look at what works for them and see how you can use it. So many people told us ‘you could never make money from a blog.’ But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of successful bloggers out there that you can learn from and see what they’ve done and apply that to your niche.”
Hi Jamie, the article is very helpful. I have a question though…I searched several niches on Google Trends. they all show between 75 to 100 searches. That makes it difficult for me to choose. I blog about many things within the lifestyle category. Do I really need to pick a niche? My goal is to be a social media influencer. I’m a practising artist though.
Blogs are wonderful tools to help people establish themselves as experts in a field or niche. We all have some kind of interest and expertise to share with others. If you’re able to produce great content and/or have a unique point of view on the topic, then be assured that your future audience will recognize it and reward you for it. With a bit of effort, you too can become an authority in your area of interest and teach others how to start blogging.
I have a lot of great ideas, but most of them are just thoughts and theories, and it seems that no one would want to read about, even pay for, ideas in which I am not a complete expert on. My greatest talent, perhaps, is being a prolific writer. Otherwise, I’m more of a Cliff Craven I know a lot about some things, and some about a lot of things. How does THIS make MONEY??
Okay, so if that doesn't dissuade you one bit, or you've already made the decision to start a blog, here's what you need to do in a step-by-step format. First, I need to premise this by saying that this post is largely based off of the WordPress blogging platform. It is not a step-by-step configuration guide to WordPress, but it does reference the system often.
One criticism: I bought the print version, and there are a few illustrations there that were obviously done in color for the e-Book version, but they wind up in black-and-white in the print version. Surely it could have been easy enough to change the way these illustrations looked in black and white to optimize it for the print book e.g. using dotted or dashed lines, or more strongly contrasting shades of gray? I felt rather frustrated at that. However, it was the only problem I encountered (it only affects literally a few small things) and it was not a major drawback. I still give the book a full 5 stars, it's still great despite this minor issue.