Do you want to learn how to start a blog?
Do you also want to get a lot of traffic and make money?
This guide will teach you everything you need to know….
I will explain each step in detail in this guide, but first…
What is a Blog?
A blog is a type of website where the articles are shown in the most recent order on the blogs homepage.
A blog is updated regularly and readers are able to leave comments on each article.
Watch these two video to understand what a blog is:
Now that you know what a blog is, lets begin…
STEP #1: Pick a blog topic
Before you start a blog, you need to decide what your blog will be about.
What should your blog be about?
Do you already have a product or service?
If so, your blog should be related to the product or service.
If you do not already have a product or service…
- your blog topic should be something you are very interested in
- you should have the knowledge, experience and expertise in the topic
- the topic should be profitable (if you want to make money blogging)
According to Digital Marketer:
To confidently build a blog around a market you must determine whether,
- The market is big enough
- The market is monetizable
To determine if the market is large enough look for,
- 30,000 Google searches per month
- Active blogs
- Active Facebook Pages
- Active Forums
- Active Email Newsletters
- Active associations
To determine if the market is monetizable look for,
- Direct competition (They are doing exactly what you want to do. This is a good thing.)
- Indirect competition (They are selling to the same market, but don’t sell what you do)
- Affiliate offers (Check Clickbank, Share-A-Sale and Commission Junction for related affiliate offers)
- Advertisers (Where there are well-known advertisers, there is money)
- Gurus (Look for very influential people associated with your market)
- eCommerce Sites (Find sites that are selling products to this market)
For example: Let’s find if Weight Loss is a good topic for your blog
1. Find Google searches per month
Head over to Google Keyword Planner and check the search volume for different keywords people would search for in Google.
Select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.
Now type a keyword related to your blog topic.
And click ‘Get ideas’.
I typed in weight loss…
(make sure your targeting is set to at least United States)
Sort the list of keywords by ‘Avg. monthly searches‘
Now check the search volume for each keyword.
As you can see…
weight loss related keywords get searched a LOT.
What does this mean?
A lot of people want information on weight loss.
This is a good sign.
2. Find active blogs
This is easy to do.
Just search in Google or Buzzsumo with a related keyword and look for active blogs.
I found a few active blogs for the weight loss topic.
3. Find Active Facebook Pages
Once you find active blogs in your topic using Google and Buzzsumo…
check them to find if they have active Facebook pages.
Also check how many people liked their Facebook page.
One of the active blogs I found in the weight loss topic is Authority Nutrition.
They have an active Facebook page (last post was just 27 minutes ago).
Their Facebook page has 1,175,291 Total Page Likes.
Another good sign that weight loss is a good topic for a blog.
4. Find Active Forums
To find active forums in any topic, just google…
your blog topic + forum
weight loss forum
I found multiple forums for the weight loss topic.
5. Find Active Email Newsletters
Once you find active blogs in your topic using Google and Buzzsumo…
check if they are building an email list.
When I visited the Authority Nutrition blog, I got a pop-up offering a free ebook in exchange for my email address.
If they have an email list, they maybe making money by promoting products or services.
6. Find Affiliate offers
Want to find if your blog topic is profitable?
Go to Clickbank marketplace and see if the products in your topic (you can find the categories on the left side) have a high gravity score.
If they have a high gravity score, it means enough people are buying the products in that topic and that topic is profitable.
To find the gravity score, click the category that matches your blogs topic.
You will now find popular products for that category.
To find the gravity score, check the stats for each product. Gravity is shown as ‘Grav’.
Sort results by Gravity and find if the gravity score for the first 5 products in your topic are higher than 30.
Also find how blogs in your topic monetize their blogs.
Do they have ads or are they promoting products and services?
7. Find Advertisers
Want another way to find if your blog topic is profitable?
Search Google for keywords related to your blog topic and look for ads.
If there are lots of ads, its because the advertisers are making money.
Its a good sign that you can build a profitable blog in this topic.
So what did we find?
The Weight loss topic:
- gets a lot of searches
- has active blogs
- has active Facebook pages with a LOT of people who liked it
- has active forums
- has blogs collecting emails
- has lots of affiliate offers (that lots of people are buying)
- has lots of advertisers
This shows that weight loss is a good blog topic that can be very profitable.
Repeat this for your blog topic to find if its good and profitable.
Can you do better than the other blogs in your topic?
Something important that you need to ask yourself before you start a blog in a topic – can you do better than the other blogs in your topic?
Your blog should be unique and stand out from other blogs.
People should have a reason to read your blog instead of others like it.
You need to blog consistently and regularly for years.
You can’t do this if you are not really interested in the topic.
Eventually you will get tired and give up (probably just when you could have had success).
If you decide to start a blog to make money…
choose a topic…
- you are very passionate about
- you have the knowledge and experience in
- that is profitable
If you want to build a profitable blog, you need to choose a profitable topic.
Step #2: Pick a blogging platform
Now that you chose a topic for your blog…
you need to choose a blogging platform.
How to start a blog for free
You can make it your personal blog and have fun with blogging.
But if you are serious about making money blogging…
- you should NOT use a free blogging platform like wordpress.com or blogger.com
- you SHOULD get your own domain name and hosting
Why you shouldn’t create a blog on a free blogging platform
Think about it.
Do you know any popular blog such as
All popular blogs have their own domain name such as popularblog.com
They also have their own hosting.
This gives them full control and without the limitations of the free blog platforms.
Free blog platforms can shut down your blog anytime and many won’t allow you to place ads on your blog.
When I started blogging in 2005, there were a few blogs hosted with Blogspot…
but when their blog became popular, they regretted it…
and later switched to their own domain name and hosting.
When you have your own domain and hosting:
- you have full control
- you have a shorter domain name that’s easier to remember
- people take your blog more seriously
What blogging platform do the popular blogs use?
Not to be confused with WordPress.com
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
With WordPress.com, you can start a free blog after registering.
Your blog URL will be something like yourblog.wordpress.com
With WordPress.org, you can install WordPress on your own domain and hosting.
Your blog URL can be anything you want.
Example – yourblog.com or yoursite.com/blog
Since you are serious about blogging, you need WordPress.org
- use wordpress.org for their blog platform
- have their own domain name
- have their own hosting
If you are serous about blogging and making money with your blog, that is what you should do too.
Why should you pay for domain and hosting?
Why should you pay for domain and hosting when you can start a blog for free on wordpress.com or blogger.com?
- they may not allow you to place ads on your blog
- you will not have complete control over your blog
- they could delete your blog without any warning and all your hard work goes down the drain
- its more professional to have your own domain and hosting
- many who started with a free blog regretted it when their blog became popular and they had to move
Once again, start a free blog only if you are not serious about blogging.
If you are serious about blogging and making money with a blog, get your own Domain and Hosting.
It will give you full control over your blog and you will look more professional.
A domain name and hosting isn’t expensive.
STEP #3: Pick a Web Host
Time to pick a web host…
What is Web Hosting?
In simple words, Web hosting is the service that provides space on the Internet for websites.
It is where you place your Web pages so that they show up on the Internet.
When you make a website and want other people to see it, you will need to upload it with a web hosting service like BlueHost.
How much will Hosting and a domain name cost you?
You can get cheap hosting and a domain name at BlueHost for just around $3.49/month.
Nothing compared to the money you can make with your blog 🙂
Ready to create a blog? First get hosting and a domain name
Let’s get started…
2. Click the green ‘get started now’ button
Note: The image you see above may be different from what you see currently on BlueHost.
3. Select your plan
BlueHost offers 3 plans: Basic, Plus and Pro,
If you are on a low budget, choose the Basic plan.
You can upgrade at any time.
Click the green select button for the plan you want to start your blog with.
STEP #4: Pick a Domain name
Now its time to pick a domain name…
What is a domain name?
To explain in simple words, johntp.com is the domain name of this blog.
If you do not have a domain name yet, enter one on the left:
- enter your domain name
- select .com (or the one you want) from the dropdown
- click the blue next button
Tips for choosing a good Domain Name:
- use .com whenever possible
- be short
- be unique
- be easy to remember
- be easy to spell
- not contain hyphens
- not contain numbers
To learn more, read The 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Names
Do you already have a domain name for your blog? Enter your existing domain on the right.
- enter your existing domain name
- click the blue next button
Enter your account information
Choose an account plan
The more years you pay in advance, the more money you will be able to save.
Once you choose the account plan, you have a few optional things to choose.
I uncheck all of them except for the Domain Privacy Protection. It will help you keep your personal information private.
Note: The Domain Privacy Protection is only available if you entered a new domain name.
Enter your payment information
- Enter your payment information
- select “ to the Terms of Service”
- click the green submit button
You just got your own domain name and hosting 🙂
Now you need to install WordPress so you can begin blogging.
STEP #5: Install WordPress
Time to install WordPress.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free blogging platform that is used by most bloggers with tons of free themes and plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress.
How to install WordPress in seconds
Once you purchase hosting and domain from BlueHost…
Check your email from BlueHost for your login info.
Login to the cpanel to install WordPress (opens in a new tab).
The video below will show you step by step how to install WordPress.
It’s simple and quick 🙂
Click to play the video (only 3 minutes long).
STEP #6: Get your blog ready
Congrats, you just started a blog 🙂
Now its time to get it ready before you write your first blog post.
First, you need to login…
Login to your WordPress blog
Go to http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin to bring up the login screen.
Note: replace “yoursite.com” with your domain name
If you are not sure of your login name or password, check the email that was sent to you from BlueHost that has this information.
Once you login, you will see the WordPress dashboard similar to the below image.
The dashboard shows you things like:
- drafts (your unpublished blog posts)
- recently published blog posts
- recent comments
- the number of published blog posts
- the number of published pages
- the WordPress version you are currently on
- the name of the theme you are currently using
Posts is where you add a new blog post or edit an existing one.
Media is the library of all the images, videos and audio files you uploaded to your blog
Pages is where you add a new page (like an about or contact page) or edit an existing one.
Comments is where you manage the comments left on your blog by your readers
Appearance is where you add a new theme (design). It’s also where you customize your existing theme.
Plugins is where you add new plugins and manage your existing plugins (activate, deactivate, update or delete)
Users is where you add new users and manage your existing users.
Settings is where you change your blog’s title and tagline, edit your email address and manage all of your site’s important settings.
Change your blog design
To change your blogs design, you need to change your WordPress theme.
You can find plenty of free WordPress themes in the WordPress Themes directory but I strongly suggest getting your own theme to stand out from the other blogs in your topic.
You can either make your own like I did or get Premium WordPress Themes from StudioPress.
Make sure your themes are responsive so your blog displays well whether it is viewed on desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
The premium WordPress Themes from StudioPress are responsive, search engine optimized, secure and fast.
StudioPress is built by the Copyblogger team and used and recommended by popular bloggers.
How to find and install a free WordPress theme
Once you have logged into your WordPress blog…
Go to Appearance > Themes
Now you will find all the themes already installed on your WordPress blog.
To find and install new themes, click Add New
Now you will find lots of free themes.
Check out the most popular themes by clicking Popular.
or filter the free themes by feature to find a theme you like.
You can filter themes by color, layout and features (see image below)
Or you can just search for a WordPress theme using search.
Hover over a theme thumbnail with your mouse for the option to preview and install the theme.
When you have found a theme you like, click “Install”.
Now activate the theme to use it.
How to customize your WordPress theme
Now that you found a theme and installed and activated it…
its time to customize it.
Appearance > Customize
You can change things like:
- header image
- background image
Important things to do after installing WordPress
After installing WordPress, you must do these:
1. Remove the default “admin” account
By default WordPress creates the username ‘Admin’ for your blog. This means that if someone finds your password, they will have admin access to your blog free to do anything they want.
Its the same if your username is your name.
Don’t make it easy for hackers. Create a random username like mu3trdf45 with a strong password and give Administrator privileges to that account.
Generate strong passwords with strongpasswordgenerator
If you have posts under the ‘Admin’ username, move them to the new username and delete the Admin username.
2. Change the Permalink Structure
WordPress default permalink structure is not good for SEO.
In other words, the URL for your blog posts (by default) will be something like:
You MUST change this to something that is more friendly to users. Search engines also prefer clean URLs.
Make your URLs short and clean.
Example of a short and clean blog post URL:
To change your WordPress permalink structure:
Go to Settings -> Permalinks, select Post name and click ‘save changes’.
You will need to update the .htaccess file.
Include relevant keywords in your URL when writing a post.
This will help you rank higher in search engines.
When writing a post, just under the post title…WordPress lets you edit the permalink for the post.
Edit your permalink with something short and relevant.
Tip: Unless you have a news blog, don’t use dates in your permalink structure. If your content is timeless you don’t need the dates in your permalink structure.
3. Hide the version of your WordPress blog
By default WordPress displays the version that you are running. If you visit your blog and check the page source you will see a line similar to this
<meta name=”generator” content=”WordPress 3.9.1″ />
Because hackers know the security holes on each WordPress version they can use this against you.
Add the following code to the functions.php file of your theme to hide your WordPress version:
Another place where hackers can find the version of your WordPress blog is the readme file.
Access your server via FTP (you can use FileZilla for this) and delete the file. You may need to delete this file every time you update WordPress.
4. Disable Folder Browsing
Another thing that you should do is disable folder browsing. If you do not disable, people will be able to find a lot of things like what images are in a folder, what WordPress themes and plugins you have installed, etc.
To make your WordPress blog more secure, disable folder browsing by uploading a blank index.html or index.php file inside each folder.
Note: If you are on the latest version of WordPress, then by default you have an index.php file in your WordPress themes and plugins folder.
You can also disable folder browsing by editing the .htaccess file located at the root of your server.
Open and add the following line in your .htaccess file:
5. Add Categories
Add categories for your blog. Remember to keep it neat and not have a lot of them.
6. Add your Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
Add your new site to Google Webmaster Tools and then your sitemap too. Once you add your site, you will be able to find when Googlebot last successfully accessed your home page, web crawl errors, etc.
7. Set preferred domain
Select your site from your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and set your preferred domain (with or without www).
8. Add Google Analytics
Install Google Analytics to find a lot of useful information about your blog like the number of unique visitors a month, the source of traffic and the bounce rate.
Get the code from here and add it to your header.php file of your WordPress Theme.
9. Social share buttons
You can easily place Social share buttons in a floating bar or at the top or bottom of the post with the SumoMe plugin.
This plugin lets you do a lot more than just social share buttons. It helps you build an email list too.
10. Social Networks
Create a page on Facebook and Twitter with your blog name.
Also use Buffer to schedule your social media posts so they don’t show up all together and overwhelm your readers.
11. Time Zone
Under Settings> General, change the time zone to match your countries time zone.
Add these important pages for your blog
How to add a new page in WordPress
Login to your WordPress blog as admin and…
go to Pages > Add New
Create these pages and add them to your blogs menu bar.
1. About Page
An About page is very important, add it and let your readers know what your blog is about, how you can help them and who you are.
Also use it to build your email list (add an email signup form there).
2. Contact Page
Create a page on your blog where your readers can email you. Use it to build a relationship with your readers.
Install a plugin like Contact Form 7 that adds a contact form to your blog so that your readers can get in touch with you.
3. Email capture page
Create a page on your blog offering an ebook or a free email course as a bonus for joining your email list.
The ebook or email course should be related to your blog topic that would help your readers.
4. Start here page
Start here page can be used to guide new visitors to your best blog posts, recommended tools and your free email course or ebook.
Install these WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend the functionality of your WordPress blog.
Before I show you the 5 plugins I use and recommend, here is how to install them…
How to install WordPress plugins
Login to your WordPress blog as admin and…
Go to Plugins > Add New
Search for a plugin by name and click install now.
Now activate the plugin to start using it.
The page also has a link to the popular WordPress plugins.
5 WordPress plugins you must install
These are the 5 WordPress plugins I use and recommend:
1. Yoast SEO
Install the latest version of Yoast SEO and optimize your new WordPress blog for Search Engines like Google and Bing.
It’s the most complete SEO plugin for WordPress that I have found and offers you everything you need to optimize your blog.
It automatically generates XML Sitemaps and has a content analysis functionality.
After installing and activating the plugin, remember to visit the plugin’s settings page to customize it.
The Akismet WordPress plugin protects your blog from comment spam.
It is already available for your freshly installed WordPress blog and only need to be activated from the Plugins page.
3. W3 Total Cache
Install W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin to speed up page loading.
This plugin really helps to load your pages faster and rank higher in Google search engine (because Google loves fast loading sites).
4. WP Smush
Install WP Smush to reduce image file sizes automatically as you upload them for your blog posts.
This helps to load your pages faster and rank higher in Google search engine (because Google loves fast loading sites).
SumoMe provides lots of free tools to grow your website’s traffic.
How to update WordPress Plugins
Login to your WordPress blog as admin and go to Plugins.
This page lists all the installed plugins on your WordPress blog.
If any plugin has a new version available, it will let you know and have an update now link.
Just click the link and enter your FTP credentials to update the plugin.
Tip: Always make sure your WordPress plugins are up to date to avoid any problems.
STEP #7: Start Blogging
Now your blog is ready for you to start blogging 🙂
I will now show you how to write your first blog post.
How to write your first blog post
How to add a new blog post in WordPress
go to Posts > Add New
On the next screen, you will see something similar to this:
The first small text box is where you enter your blog posts headline.
The second bigger text box is where you write your blog post.
How to add images and videos to a post
While writing a post, click the ‘Add Media‘ button.
Now it will show you all the media items like images, audio and video you added to your WordPress blog so far.
To add new media, click the ‘Upload Files’ tab and drag and drop files from your computer to upload.
You can also select files manually from your computer to upload by clicking the ‘Select Files’ button.
After uploading the media file, add the title, caption, alt text, description and alignment and click the ‘Insert into post‘ button.
Where to find free images for your blog
You can find a lot of free images here:
Note: The free images from the above sites are free for personal and commercial use. No attribution required.
How to create your own images for your blog
You do not need to pay for Photoshop.
Canva is a free and easy to use tool to create beautiful and professional images for your blog.
It’s what I use to create images for this blog.
Free online Photo editors
If you have photos you want to
- add borders
Here are the two online photo editors I use and recommend:
How to add sub-headings to a post
Your blog post must never be a huge block of text.
You need to break up your blog posts into smaller sentences and paragraphs.
Also add sub-headings to make your blog post easier to read and scan.
Do not use Heading 1.
It has to be used only once – for your blog post title (by your theme).
Headings within the blog post start with Heading 2.
To add a heading:
Click the right most icon in the toolbar “Toolbar Toggle”
Now select a heading of your choice from the drop down box.
Edit your text
Edit your text to add bold, italics, links and quotes.
Here’s what you need to do:
Bold the important points in your blog post. It helps readers who are scanning your content.
Link to relevant and useful blog posts from other blogs. It helps your readers…
…and you get discovered by other bloggers in your niche.
Quote influencers in your niche and email them to let them know after you publish the blog post. Influencers are more likely to share your blog post when they are quoted or linked to.
And when influencers share your blog post…you get a ton of traffic!
Make use of unordered and numbered lists. It makes your blog post easier to scan and read.
Edit the Permalink
Include relevant keywords in your URL when writing a post.
This will help you rank higher in search engines.
When writing a post, just under the post title…
WordPress lets you edit the permalink for the post.
Edit your permalink with something short and relevant.
Publish your blog post
Whenever you want to save your blog post – click Save Draft
And when you want to publish the blog post for everyone to see – click Publish.
Once your post is published, your new post can be found in the “All Posts” section of the “Posts” tab, so you can edit it any time.
How to schedule a post to auto publish in the future
Scheduling posts is a useful feature of WordPress that I recommend you use.
When you are adding or updating a post, you will find ‘Publish immediately’ under the ‘Save Draft’ button.
Click the edit link next to it and it will let you set a date and time to auto publish on.
How to stick a post to the front page
By default when you publish a new post, it will push the older posts below and they will disappear from the front page when there are more than 10 posts there.
If there is a post you want your readers to see and read, you can make it stick to the front page even when many newer posts are published.
When you are adding or updating a post, you will find “Visibility: Public” under the “Save Draft” button.
Click the edit link next to it and tick ‘Stick this post to the front page‘ and click the OK button.
Make use of the read more tag
By default, WordPress displays entire blog posts on the front page. This is bad for SEO and will make your front page load slower.
When you are adding or updating a post, click the ‘Insert Read More tag’ button on the Toolbar after about two or three paragraphs.
WordPress keyboard shortcuts
Its much more convenient to use the keyboard shortcuts of WordPress when writing than using the toolbar.
Here is a screenshot of the WordPress keyboard shortcuts you can find by clicking on the question mark in the toolbar when writing a post or page (its hidden by default, click the ‘Toolbar Toggle’ button to show it)
Distraction free writing
When writing a post in WordPress, you can remove whats not needed when writing like the menu (left side) and other options (right side) by using the ‘Distraction free writing’ feature of WordPress.
Distraction free writing + F11 (full screen) removes everything on your screen that’s not needed when writing and lets you focus on just writing. This helps me a lot and it should help you too.
The ‘Distraction free writing’ button can be found on the right hand side of the Toolbar, just right under the ‘Visual’ and ‘Text’ tabs.
How to write a good blog post
Before you write a blog post, remember these –
1. simple words – write in a way that anyone can understand easily
2. get to the point – stop wasting your readers time. People don’t have patience, so get to the point.
3. make your posts conversational – use the words “you” and “I” to make your posts conversational, like you are talking to the reader directly. Just you and him/her. This method combined with a useful/educational post will get the reader to like you.
4. detailed posts – consistently writing detailed and helpful articles on a topic will get the reader to trust you and see you as an expert on the topic. Writing detailed posts (more than 2000 words) also increases your blogs traffic both from search engines and social networks because both search engines and people like detailed posts. Detailed posts are more likely to be shared on social networks than shorter posts. Also make it easy to share with easy to find social share buttons (don’t add too many buttons, just Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are enough).
5. good headlines – create good headlines to get people to click and read your posts from search engines and social networks.
Tip: Use H1 tag for the title of the blog post because it helps with SEO. You will have to edit your theme for this.
6. introduction – add introduction to your blog post to hook your readers to read the post
7. short paragraphs and sentences – they are easier to read and understand
8. use bold – bold the important points
9. sub headings – subheadings help people who skim your blog post to easily understand the important points. Use H2 or H3 tags for the subheadings.
10. lists – breaking a long paragraph to lists makes it easier to read
11. images – avoid making post boring (especially when long) by using images. You can find a relevant one in Flickr. Screenshots are helpful in a how-to post.
12. use stats – use stats in your blog posts when possible
13. use videos – these days the more media in your blog post, the better
14. use slideshows – Use when possible
15. links – link to relevant posts (of your blog and other blogs) within each post.
Linking to your other posts of your blog helps readers discover your older posts.
It also makes the post more valuable for readers by linking (when relevant) to helpful blog posts by other bloggers
Linking and sending traffic to other blogs is also a good way to get discovered by other bloggers in your topic and to get them to start reading your blog. If they read your blog and you have built a good relationship with them, there’s a good chance they will link you back and even share your posts on social networks. Both of which helps to rank higher in search engines and get traffic.
Linking to your other posts also helps with SEO but don’t overuse keyword rich anchor texts (the text you link to).
16. conclusion – summarize your post with a conclusion, makes it easy for skimmers too.
17. ask questions – End your blog posts by asking questions to encourage the reader to comment.
Make sure you answer them and keep the conversation going.
Example – “Do you know of any other tips or tricks to add to this blogging guide?”
1. ask people to share the blog post – if you want readers to share your post, just ask them at the end of your post (it will help to get more shares). But do it only for your best posts.
2. quoting – when quoting what a blogger wrote on his or her blog post, only quote a small portion of the post. Instead of quoting the entire blog post or a large potion, link to the post.
10 things that help the reader focus on your content
People who visit your blog are there to read.
So make it easy for them with these tips:
1. don’t make the content area too wide – if the area containing your post is too wide, it makes the paragraphs longer and readers may lose interest in reading. You may want to reduce the width (like this blog).
2. easy to read font – don’t use fancy fonts that makes it hard to read
3. bigger font size – make it easy on the eye and for older people with bigger font size
4. lots of white space – its much easier to read when a page has lots of white space than a post with text all jammed together
5. remove unnecessary stuff – think about everything on your theme. Is there anything you can remove that lets your readers focus on the post?
6. remove unnecessary stuff in the sidebars – helps to load pages faster and makes page look cleaner.
It also helps readers to focus on the post.
Some of the things you may want to remove are recent comments, badges, tag clouds, calendars, archive, ads, widgets, etc
7. remove unnecessary sidebars – do you really need multiple sidebars?
8. remove or minimize the amount of ads – I have tried them all in the past – ads above the fold, ads in between a post and in-text ads.
Above the fold – the portions of a webpage that are visible without scrolling
in-text advertising – In-text advertising is a form of contextual advertising where specific keywords within the text of a web-page are matched with advertising and/or related information units.
Above the fold ads pushes your content below and in-text ads and ads in between a post confuse readers.
Its fine if you want to make money from ads, but you may want to minimize the amount of ads (especially above the fold) to improve the user experience. In the short term you may make money, but in the long term you are probably pissing readers off with the ads.
A better way to make money blogging is by collecting visitors emails, providing value and building relationship with your readers and then promoting useful and relevant products and services that solve a problem for your readers.
Once you collect the emails, you can send them your latest blog posts too. By doing this you convert one time visitors to repeat visitors.
Another reason you need to minimize the amount of ads above the fold is because of the “Page Layout Algorithm” which penalizes sites with lots of ads and not much content above the fold.
9. make your blog load fast – As long as you consistently write useful quality content, have linked to other relevant posts on each of your posts and your pages load quickly, your blog visitors are likely to come back to read more and the chance of them subscribing increases.
Another reason to speed up your pages are both Google and Bing use page loading speed as a ranking factor.
10. make it easy to skim – many don’t read the entire blog post, so you need to make sure they can skim the post and note the important points.
You can do this with lists, sub headers, bold (the important points), shorter sentences and paragraphs and a conclusion
Writing good headlines
Writing good headlines for your blog post is very important because its the first thing people see whether it be on search engines or social networks.
Depending on your headline, people may or may not click through and visit your blog.
That is why you need to read these articles on writing better headlines –
- 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
- Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First
- Writing Headlines That Get Results
- 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines
- Headline Writing 101: How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines That Convert
- 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic]
- The Ultimate Guide To Writing Incredible Headlines
How to become a better writer
You become a better writer by writing and reading.
Graphic by Copyblogger
STEP #8: Build an email list
Before I show you how to promote your blog posts and get traffic…
let me first show you how to optimize your blog for email capture.
Why build an email list?
Want to promote your new blog post? You need an email list.
Want to make money blogging? You need an email list.
Don’t make the mistake of not capturing your blog visitors emails from the beginning of your blog because majority of the visitors who leave your blog never return.
Once you capture emails, you can reach your readers anytime you want. You can use this to promote your blog posts and products/services.
Give more importance in growing your email list than growing your Twitter followers or Facebook fans because Twitter or Facebook may disappear tomorrow but your email list won’t and you are more likely to get way more from your email list than from Twitter or Facebook whether it be clicks or sales.
I highly recommend Aweber to build your email lists.
It blows away its competitors and is used and recommended by popular bloggers who make thousands of dollars every month thanks to it.
Did you know? Majority of visitors who leave your website will never return, so Aweber will be very helpful to capture some of them and bring them back each time you publish a new blog post or notify them of your product.
Don’t make the mistake of delaying building your email list because Aweber is not free. You will make way more than you pay for Aweber if you use it.
How will you make money with your email list?
After you build an email list you will be able to email the people in the list.
You can use this to promote products and services related to your blog that will help your readers.
You can sell anything like an ebook, online course or service.
It can be either your products or you can sell others products for a commission.
Aweber is a good example of a service you can promote. You will get a recurring 30% commission for each person who becomes an Aweber customer after clicking your affiliate link.
What is an affiliate link? An affiliate link is a special URL that contains your ID or username and is used to track how many sales you made so that they can pay you.
Tip: First focus on providing value and building a relationship with the people in your email list. You can do this by writing useful and detailed blog posts and by helping them.
Encourage people in your list to reply to your emails and ask questions.
Promoting products after you build a relationship leads to more sales.
Place multiple Aweber forms on your blog to capture emails.
Good places are your blogs header, just after the blog post and sidebar. You may also collect emails using a popup and offer a free bonus (like an ebook or course) in exchange for the email.
Where to place Aweber forms on your blog to build your email list
Majority of the people who visit your blog land on your blog posts (from search engines, links from other sites, social networks,etc). Those who visit your homepage are mostly regular readers. If they are regular readers, there’s a good chance that they will join your email list.
2. About page
If people like your blog enough to check your about page, there’s a good chance they will join your email list.
3. Top of sidebar
If your blog has a sidebar, place a signup form at the top (above the fold). To get more people to signup, you can offer a bonus with a dollar value like the example below
You can do this easily with Hellobar
5. At the end of your blog post
If someone reads till the end of your blog post, there’s a good chance they enjoyed your post and will join your email list to be notified of newer posts.
6. In between post
People visit your blog to read your post, so their focus will be mainly around that area of your blog. That is why an ad above or in between a post will get the most clicks than an ad placed on the sidebar or footer.
Similarly if you want to build your email list faster, place an email form there.
To get even more people join your email list, offer a bonus – a post specific bonus at the beginning and end of your popular posts.
Brian Dean from Backlinko wrote a detailed post on post specific bonuses. He calls it The Content Upgrade.
7. Menu bar
Your blogs menu probably gets a lot of clicks, so create a page asking to join email list and put it on the menu bar. Again to increase the number of people who signup, you can offer a bonus like an ebook or a free course on a topic that would help your readers.
Popups with email signup forms do well in converting your blog visitors to email subscribers. You will find this used in a lot of blogs.
What makes this even better?
- Offering a bonus like an ebook or course
- making it post specific – popup specific to that post, meaning different bonuses for each post
- displaying the popup when the visitor is about to leave your blog or after about a minute
How do you do all this? Using optinmonster.
Optinmonster lets you target specific pages and posts, and show the popup when the visitor is about to leave your blog.
Did you know? Majority of visitors who leave your website will never return, so optinmonster will be very helpful to capture some of them and bring them back each time you publish a new blog post or notify them of your product.
Encourage readers to ask you questions via email and after helping them, ask them to join your email list. There is a good chance they will join your email list as you took the time to help them.
10. Sticky as user scrolls
You can make the email signup form on your sidebar sticky so that when the visitor scrolls, the signup form sticks. This is especially useful when you write long posts.
11. Lead Box
A LeadBox is a pop-up window that appears when your visitors click on a designated link, image, button or text. This can be done with LeadPages software which can also create mobile responsive landing pages.
Tools that help you build an email list faster
- optinmonster – Best WordPress popup and lead generation plugin. Optinmonster lets you target specific posts (useful to offer different bonuses for each post) and capture email of visitors who are about to leave your blog.
- popup domination – Email capture software
- optinskin – Add gorgeous opt-in forms to your blog in seconds
- hellobar – Hellobar can be used to collect emails from your header even as the visitor scrolls
- leadpages – With leadpages, you can easily create mobile responsive landing pages that collect emails. Among its many features, it has a LeadBox feature which is a pop-up window that appears when your visitors click on a designated link, image, button or text to collect emails.
- scroll box – Scroll Box can slide in from any corner of your website and collect emails.
STEP #9: Increase blog traffic
There are two types of traffic:
free and paid.
How to get paid traffic
You can simple buy paid traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube.
There are obviously many other paid traffic sources, but these are the big ones.
How to get free traffic
The best way to get free traffic is to write epic blog posts and promote them.
The 3 steps to free traffic:
- find the most popular blog posts in your niche
- write better blog posts
- promote the blog posts
1. Find the most popular blog posts in your niche
You can’t just write on any topic you want.
That’s the reason many people do not get any traffic.
If you want serious traffic, write epic blog posts on topics people want to read.
And the best way to find what people like to read?
Find the most popular blog posts in your niche.
You need to find the most shared blog posts
and the most linked to blog posts.
How to find the most shared blog posts on any topic
Head over to BuzzSumo and search on any topic.
Now you will find the most shared blog posts on that topic:
How to find the most linked to blog posts of a blog
Head over to Open Site Explorer and enter a popular blog in your niche
Click “Top Pages” on the left sidebar.
Now you will find the most linked to blog posts for that blog.
2. Write better blog posts
Once you find the most popular blog posts in your niche, pick one and write a better version of it.
Why make it better?
To increase your chance of getting links and social shares from the people who linked to or shared similar blog posts.
Your blog post must be:
- more up to date
- more detailed
- well designed
- longer (at least 3000 words) – longer blog posts gets shared more and ranks higher in Google search engine
3. Promote your blog posts
Once you have chosen a popular blog post and written a better version of it…
its time to promote it!
This is how you get the traffic.
To promote your blog post…
find people who shared and linked to similar blog posts and get them to share and link to your blog post.
By contacting them via email or Twitter and letting them know about your better blog post.
Tip: When you get links from relevant authority sites, your blog post will start ranking high in search engines and bring you traffic for a long time.
How to find people who shared similar blog posts
To find similar blog posts:
search BuzzSumo for that topic.
To find the people who shared the blog post:
click View Sharers
When you click the View Sharers button, you get a list of Twitter accounts who shared the blog post:
How to find people who linked to similar blog posts
Head over to Open Site Explorer and enter the URL of the blog post and click the search button.
Now you will get the list of links.
STEP #10: How to make money with a blog
The most common way bloggers make money is with ads. You can use Google AdSense for this. Place the ad code on your blog and AdSense will display relevant ads. You get paid when a visitor to your blog clicks the ad.
Warning: Do NOT click on your own ads. Google will find it and not allow you to use AdSense again.
Tips to make more money with Google AdSense
- blend the ads – AdSense allows you to customize the colors, so use it to change them to match your blog themes background and link colors. This will get you more visitors to click the ads.
- place the ads above the fold – place your AdSense ad right below your post title to increase CTR (click through rate)
- choose the biggest ad size – AdSense offers different ad sizes, the biggest being Large rectangle (336 x 280). Place Large rectangle below your post title to get the most clicks.
- make the ads more relevant – blog on just one topic to get relevant ads. When I started writing on both technology and blogging on this blog, I started getting ads related to blogging on my tech posts. This reduces the clicks you get as the ads are not relevant and so you make less money.
- increase blog traffic – the more traffic you have = the more clicks you get = the more money you make.
Note: There are many alternatives to Google AdSense, but it is the one most people use.
Other types of ads
- in-text ads – in-text advertising places links directly into the text of the blog post. These can be annoying and confusing to your readers and I do not recommend them. Examples are infolinks and vibrantmedia
- impression based – you get payed for each 1000 pageviews your blog gets. Example: Tribal Fusion
#2 Direct Ads
As long as you have traffic to your blog you can make easy money by placing Adsense ads. But here is the problem, Google takes a cut.
If you have high blog traffic and a brand, you can try finding advertisers by yourself to keep 100% of the money.
How do you find advertisers for your blog?
Easy. Google any keyword related to your blog topic and look for the ads on the right side (and sometimes top). Visit these sites that advertise on Google and contact them letting them know about your blog. Obviously not all of them will be interested in advertising on your blog, but keep trying.
Tip: You could offer them a low starting cost to encourage them to advertise on your blog. Later you can get them to advertise for a few months together for a discount.
#3 Products and Services
This is my favorite way to make money blogging. Why?
- because it can make you way more money than ads
- does not make your blog look ugly with ads
- does not take extra space on your blog
- does not slow down your blog
What are products and services?
A product is something you can sell for a one time payment like a $19 ebook
With SaaS (Software as a service) you get payed every month!
Examples of products you can sell
- video or audio
- WordPress themes
- WordPress plugins
- iOS or Android apps
Examples of SaaS
- Aweber – Email Marketing
- Leadpages – Mobile Responsive Landing Page Generator
- Scribe – Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing
- SEMrush – Competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain
- ViralSweep – Create Sweepstakes and Giveaways
- LinkTrackr – Link Cloaking and Tracking Software
How to make more money with your blog by selling products?
1. build an email list
Offer a free bonus like an ebook or course related to your blog topic in exchange for the readers email. You can also offer bonuses specific to each post (something related to the post).
Majority of the people who leave your blog, never return. By capturing your visitors emails, you can email them anytime you want. You can use this to promote products and services.
2. build know, like and trust
Get your readers to know, like and trust you.
Have an about page showing who you are and how your blog can help them.
Encourage readers to email you for help. Help your readers and build relationship with the people in your list
Offer great value – write detailed blog posts that helps your readers solve a problem
3. show you are an expert
People are more likely to buy stuff from people they know are experts.
So for example, if your blog topic is on weight loss, show how you have helped people lose weight or how you yourself lost weight.
If you teach how to play a guitar, make videos of yourself playing and show off your skill.
4. start by selling a low cost product like a $19 ebook
Find a topic that will benefit your readers and sell an ebook on it for a low price of just $19.
Why? So you can sell more costlier products to those who buy the low cost product. If someone buys a product from you, there’s a good chance that they will buy more products from you.
This is another reason why you need to build your email list with Aweber because it will let you target specific people in your list. Like the people who just bought your product, or clicked on a link in your email, or those who haven’t opened your emails (yes, not everyone in your email list will read all emails you send them).
Aweber also lets you automatically send emails in a sequence (which you just need to write once) to each new email subscriber to your list.
How can you use this?
- to build know, like and trust – to introduce yourself, let them know how you can help them, encourage them to email you for help and build a relationship with the people in your list
- to promote your popular posts
- to get people on your email list to follow you on Twitter and like your Facebook page
- to promote products or services
- for your email course
5. now to really profit from your blog – sell expensive products
Many bloggers sell low cost products and lose the chance to really profit from their blog. Sell multiple expensive products to make more money from your blog. Obviously the products should be worth the price you charge.
How to make an ebook or PDF file?
You can write your ebook using Google docs and download it as PDF
File > Download as > PDF Document (.pdf)
How to choose a profitable topic for your product?
To get an idea what topics are profitable, go to Clickbank marketplace and check the products in your blog topic (you can find the categories on the left side). If they have a high gravity score, it means enough people are buying the products in that topic.
To find the gravity score, check the stats for each product. Gravity is shown as ‘Grav’.
Sort results by Gravity and find the topic of the products with a gravity score of 30 and above.
How to sell a product?
You can sell products using Gumroad.
#4 Affiliate marketing
Making your own products is hard and takes time, instead you can promote others products and earn a commission for each sale.
Promote SaaS to get a recurring commission every month as long as the customer you referred keeps paying.
You can find products to promote from ClickBank.
Go to ClickBank and check the left side for the categories and find your blog topic. Click on the category that matches your blogs topic and you will find popular products to promote. Promote these products to get up to 75% commission per sale.
Another way to find products to promote are from blogs in your topic. Find what products or services these blogs promote. Sometimes these blogs will have products of their own which you can promote for a commission.
You can find blogs in your topic from Alltop. Just visit Alltop and search for your blogs topic.
Amazon has a lot of products you can promote too for a commission. An advantage of Amazon is that you get a commission for each product the person you refer buys from Amazon (even if you did not promote them).
For example, you promote a digital camera on your digital photography blog and the reader clicks the link and buys not just that camera but also lenses, tripod, etc because Amazon recommends them based on the product.
Tip: Make sure to only promote products that are good and related to your blog. Your readers trust is important, do not lose it by promoting just any product.
#5 Membership site (recurring)
This is an attractive business model for bloggers and another one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. You can offer content on your membership site that cannot be found on your blog that require a recurring payment to access.
Lets say you charge $19 a month and get 100 members, that’s $1900 a month. The next month you could get another 100 members which makes it $3800 a month and so on.
If you continue promoting your membership site on your blog and email list, you should keep getting new members and the amount you earn each month from your membership site will keep increasing.
Note: people won’t keep paying forever, so keep promoting your membership site to get new members or find a way to keep the current members.
Tip: To make more money with Membership sites, offer the option to pay for 6 or 12 months with a discount. For example you could offer the option to pay for 12 months with a 20% discount and let them know how much they will save by going for the yearly plan instead of the monthly plan.
WishList Member is a powerful, yet easy to use membership software that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site.
Get people to join your email list with a free or low cost product and offer them multiple expensive products and services to make more money from your blog. Since consulting is one on one, you can charge much higher for it.
Ways to make money blogging
Here’s the mindmap on how bloggers make money (by Darren Rowse)
Click to enlarge to full size.
As you know now, there are many ways to make money blogging.
Tip: Don’t just do one of them, do more than one to make more money. For example you could sell your own products and at the same time promote others products and services for a commission as well. Also make sure that the products and services you promote are related to your blog and useful to your readers.
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