You have thought about doing it for long enough and you’ve finally decided to take the plunge into the murky depths of the blogging waters.
Blogging can be done for blogging’s sake, of course, but if you’re reading this site the chances are that you are hoping to make money from blogging. Here is your 10-step guide to getting your blog started:
Choose your blog’s topics carefully
What is your passion? What do you absolutely, positively love? Don’t pick a topic that you aren’t interested in – you’ll soon become bored and you’ll run out of inspiration to write with. Choose something you enjoy and it will also feel less of a chore and more of a pleasure to maintain and keep going.
Buy your domain name
Don’t choose something that will age or date but something that won’t need updating when circumstances change. You want your blog name to last. For example, if you want to write a blog about your two dogs, don’t call it ‘Mytwodogs.com’ because what it will need updating if you then decide to buy a third dog, or add a cat to the mix. Similarly, don’t choose a super-long-and-lengthy-name-that-nobody-will-remember. Make it relevant, snappy and memorable. There are plenty of domain name providers offering their services but one in particular that we’ve used for years and can recommend is 123-reg.
Once you have bought your domain name it’s time to think about your hosting. Do you want a fully hosted service or do you want a self-hosted blog? Don’t know the difference? A fully hosted service such as Blogspot or WordPress.com will provide you with everything you need to get your blog up and running in no time. However, the host then has pretty much total control of your site and stipulate that certain advertising or content cannot be published on it. That’s not great when you are planning to make money blogging.
We would recommend starting your new site on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform. It means that you’ll have to find a hosting provider (123-reg also offer hosting) to host your site, but you have full control not only of your site but also of your host. If you aren’t happy, you can switch your site to another host provider without losing anything.
Choose your design
What image do you want your site to convey? Do you want cutesy and kitsch or do you want professional? Make sure you consider what content your site will contain and make it relevant.
Do some research and see what kind of site designs you like. Studiopress offers dozens of fully customisable child themes to be used with the Genesis framework, and has been the preferred choice for thousands of site owners (including us!). You can see different site designs before you buy and once bought, you can use the themes over and over without limit on as many sites as you like.
Get started with ads
You don’t need to wait until your site is well established and you have a regular stream of readers to implement your advertising strategy. Now that your site is up and the layout is as you want it you can add a banner ad or two from the beginning. Not only can future potential advertisers see where their ads would be seen but you’ll start earning an income as your site grows. Okay, admittedly it won’t be much but it’ll be something and after all, everyone has to start somewhere, don’t they?!
As a general rule we don’t recommend ad networks, with the only exception being Google Adsense. You might also want to try running an affiliate ad or two. We have worked with several over the years on different sites but the one affiliate network that we’ve had consistently positive results from is Affiliate Window. They have hundreds of advertisers within a range of categories enabling you to find those most relevant to your site and content. Don’t saturate your site with ads though. It’s best to have three or four ads that people can focus on rather than a dozen that will be ignored.
Find your own voice and style and don’t, whatever you do, try to copy anyone else. The key to success is using your own voice. Why try to be a second rate copy of someone else when you are already a perfect, unique you?
Then write some more
Make sure your content is readable and interesting. Readers will come back time and time again to read your unique style of writing and to see what you have to say. Keep content relevant and keep it fresh. Also, make sure you update frequently. You don’t need to post every day, day in and day out, but two or three times a week is recommended.
Build your site’s traffic
A lot of successful bloggers who make money blogging recommend email marketing. As with hosting, we’ve found that a paid-for marketing programme gives better results, more control and offers a better service than those offering marketing for free. You don’t want to spend time building a significant database only to lose it all overnight when free services suddenly disappear. Investing a little money for a lot of peace of mind is well worth it. Aweber offers a great service that we recommend and, although it is paid for, it offers unlimited lists (allowing you to run email marketing for several different sites), unlimited emails, good rates of deliverability and in-depth analytics to name but a few advantages.
Taking time to learn how to best optimise your site for search engines is time well spent. Learning how to use keywords can make all the difference between making money from blogging and not. If you aren’t confident in learning SEO yourself you may want to recruit the help of a company like Assertive Media instead.
Interact and write, then write and interact
Continue to write great quality content for your site regularly, keeping it topical and informative and using your own style and voice. Encourage other bloggers who write about the same topics to visit you by visiting them and leaving comments on their sites. This will build good reciprocal relationships, provide you with a support network and will help build links back to your site which is always a good thing when done properly.
It isn’t impossible to make money blogging but it does take time, effort and commitment to do.
If you are determined enough, you could find yourself making money blogging within your first year. The first thing to do is to start, because if you never try, you’ll never know!
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