How to Make Money Blogging

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little bit of pocket change to keep this blog up and running when you make a purchase through them.  Thanks as always for your support!

How to Make Money Blogging

Hey gang! I am super-psyched about today’s post because it’s all about how to make money doing what we all love – blogging! The tips I give you today are a combination of things I’ve learned on my own plus tips I’ve picked up from other bloggers along the way.

I only made about $1,000 in my first year blogging and then about $5,000 in my 2nd year. Whatever I’m doing seems to be working, so I’ve captured everything I do into this little post just for you.

By no means am I at the point yet where I can make writing/blogging my full-time income, but I really believe one day in the near future, my blog income will be sufficient enough to support my whole family.

The great thing about blogging is that you can be your own boss, set your own hours, work from anywhere in the world and get paid to do what you love. If all of these things sound amazing to you, then you are in the right place!

Let’s get started…

1. How to get started blogging

This may be a stupid question, but it’s really not if you think about it. Before you can start creating content, developing a following and earning income, you have to set your blog up the right way. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve hopefully read my other posts about how to start a blog.

You can’t focus on earning income in the beginning. The first thing you have to do is decide on a blogging platform. There are several big ones out there, but to me, WordPress is by far the most superior one of them all.  Click here to view my detailed post on how to start a blog.  I also have a free 7-day email course designed to help you start a profitable blog. Both of these tools are great starting points if you’ve never dabbled in the blogging world before.

Once you’ve learned the ins and outs of how to set your blog up, you can get started on your way to creating amazing content!

Make your blog design amazing

With WordPress, there are unlimited options to customize your blog. If you don’t do anything else with your blog’s design, make sure that you don’t use the default WordPress themes. Not only do they point you out as a newby, but they can also make you appear lazy. Thousands of people are already using the default WordPress themes, so why be one of them?

Go the self-hosted route

You may hear “free” vs “self-hosted” a lot when researching WordPress. Here’s the low down – there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is the free version. It’s ok if you are starting out with no intention of growing and monetizing your blog. WordPress.org is the self-hosted route. By self-hosted, I mean you are using WordPress with a web hosting provider from which you have purchased a hosting plan and domain name. If you need a domain name, you can register one right now from NameCheap.com starting at $.88 cents! For web hosting, there’s really no better one in my opinion than SiteGround. I switched to them towards the end of 2017 and have been extremely pleased – both with the price of their service and with their customer service!

Related Post: Why I Moved My Site To SiteGround

WordPress Themes with a bang

2. Drive traffic to your blog

There are so many popular ways to drive traffic to your blog:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • StumbleUpon
  • Flickr
  • SEO
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Instagram
  • Email Marketing

One of the biggest drivers of traffic to my blog is Pinterest. In 2017, I signed up for the unlimited plan with Tailwind. I pin about 100 pins throughout the day. The rule I made up for myself is for every pin I share from my own blog, I repin 3-5 pins from other bloggers.

As you can see from my list above, Pinterest is just one of the many ways you can drive traffic to your blog. My recommendation is not to try everything at the same time. Pick one or two and focus on building a strategy to drive traffic. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to mix it up.

When you are trying to think about the best ways to build traffic, think about the places you go to find traffic. Do you go to forums? Facebook groups? Twitter? Think like your audience!

Related Post: 15 Little Tricks to Get More Blog Traffic

3. Write stellar content

Like I’ve said before, anyone with an internet connection and time can sit down and write a blog post. Not everyone can sit down and write QUALITY blog posts. This is where you come in. Write valuable and shareable content. What are people looking for?  What type of information are they seeking? If you write about things that don’t get a lot of attention, you aren’t going to see much traffic.

If you are planning a blog post about new cars, do a quick search on Google or Pinterest for new cars. Then, you’ll be able to see what readers are looking for when they search for new cars. Are they looking for trucks? Mini vans? Blue cars? Red cars? Cars under $30,000? Do a little keyword research and find ways to insert those keywords into your content.

I highly recommend (and use) Google AdWords

Related Post: How I Write And Publish Quality Blog Posts

4. Don’t write just to write

I can’t stand when bloggers just write a post to write. You know, the ones that have no purpose for the audience other than “hey, look at what I just did!” I often refer to a blogger who only posts about running in marathons. Enough of the bullshit. If you want to chronicle your life like that, get a diary. If you want to serve a purpose and get readers interested, your posts need to accomplish something for THEM, not YOU.

Focus your posts on the needs of your readers 100% of the time, and you will be surprised at the results. Don’t try to shove your personal life down our throats. We already see it every day on social media. Solve a problem. Provide a tip. Write a tutorial. Record a how-to video. You see where I’m going with this?

5. Only promote relevant/high-quality products

Once you sign up for sites like Amazon Affiliate or ShareASale, the temptation is going to be there to sign up for many different programs that promise a good commission. Resist! I make a rule to only promote products that are relevant to my readers, are high-quality or are products that I have used myself. If you promote lingerie on your sports blog, you probably aren’t going to see much commission.

Please, please please do not shove your affiliate links or banner ads down your readers throats. You are trying to build their trust, not turn them away. Find creative ways to integrate your products into your posts. The more you build trust with readers, the more conversions you will see.

Wondering how to make money with affiliate links? Check out this post.

6. Create a Tools/Resources Page

If you don’t already, create a separate page on your blog for tools and resources you use. You can also include products you recommend. This should be a page that is regularly updated as you learn of new products and find better tools to blog. Take a look at my resources page for a good example.

Your resources page should NOT be a page full of affiliate links and ads. While you can include some affiliate links to products you use, make sure you create a good balance. The primary focus of your resources page is to help others – not yourself.  If you run a parenting blog, a list of good parenting tips, books, baby products, etc. is a good idea to start with.

Add to your resources page regularly, and make sure you put a “last updated” date on your post to let your readers know your page is constantly updated.

7. Be yourself

I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read in the past where I could tell the blogger was writing to try to impress someone. My rule of thumb is that I’m no different writing a blog post than when I’m talking to someone. The more truthful and genuine you are, the more your readers are going to trust you and your expertise. After all, you started a blog because you are an expert in some field, right? Let your voice shine and don’t try to be someone you aren’t.

The key to making your connections real with your readers is truly to be real. What they see is what they get. Don’t try to deceive or hide something from your readers. Be honest, forthcoming and be willing to take criticism. You are the voice of your blog, so let that voice speak when you are writing your next blog post.

8. Implement a solid email marketing plan

I don’t care which email marketing tool you use to gather user emails and to send out your newsletters as long as whatever you are doing is consistent. I personally use MailChimp. It’s got great free options until you get a large number of subscribers, and it is very useful if you are trying to create an email course like mine.

Related Post: How to Skyrocket Your Email List in 30 Days

 

Ready to start writing?

You can do it! It’s time to bear down and do the dirty work that will eventually pay off. I hope these tips help steer you in the right direction to better and successful blogging. Don’t forget to share your posts on social media and look for ways to network with other bloggers. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

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How To Start A Blog in 2018

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little bit of pocket change to keep this blog up and running when you make a purchase through them.  Thanks as always for your support!

Web Hosting

Happy New Year to you! I hope that 2017 was a very successful year for you, and that 2018 is even more successful. Are you ready to finally start that blog in 2018? If so, I’ve provided some tips in today’s post that will help drive you to success. Some of these tips come from my post, “How to Start a Blog in 2017” and some are brand new!

Why start a blog?

Before we really dive into the steps on HOW to start a blog, we need to talk about WHY you should start a blog. If you already know why you want to start your blog, you can skip ahead in this blog post. If not, here are several common reasons why people like you start a blog:

  • You want to share information on topics you know a lot about.
  • You want a way to chronicle your life.
  • You are looking to become a better writer and communicator.
  • You want to supplement your income or even make writing a full-time job.

Blogging is fun, but there is a lot of hard work involved in making it succeed. Anyone can sign up for WordPress, find a web host, and post content. Only those who are committed to continual success will find success. If you need any help along the way, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help. 

How to Start Your Blog

  1. Decide which platform to use
  2. Select a web hosting provider and domain name
  3. Set up your blog
  4. Write your first post
  5. Share your post with the world
  6. Monetize your blog
  7. Useful tools and resources

1. Decide which platform to use

There are several well-known and widely-used blogging platforms out there today that will suit your needs. For me, there really isn’t any other choice other than WordPress. WordPress is the standard in the blogging world. Over 80 million bloggers use it today. You can’t go wrong with it!

WordPress can take a little time to figure out how to work, but once you get comfortable with it, there are so many possibilities with it that you won’t want anything else. With thousands of plugins and themes, it really is the best bet for any serious blogger.

You’ll see two types of WordPress sites out there today. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  Wordpress.com is not a self-hosted option, which means you are limited in what you can do and the income you can earn. WordPress.org means you are self-hosted and can do more in terms of options and income.

2. Select a web hosting provider and domain name

If you are looking to make money with your blog, you must go with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Before you can really dive into monetizing your blog, you’ll need your own domain name and a web hosting provider to host your site.

  • Domain Name: The domain name is the URL of your blog. Readers will type your domain name into their browser to get to your site. I highly recommend Namecheap.com for domain names!
  • Web Host: The web host is the company that houses all of your files for your site and displays the site on the web for you. For web hosting, you definitely can’t go wrong with Siteground. If you do sign up with Siteground, they have a very easy WordPress install process.

3. Set up your blog

Here’s where the fun begins! Now that you’ve purchased your domain and hosting accounts, you can dive in and design it to your liking. If you are using WordPress, you have access to thousands of free and premium themes. I highly recommend ThemeIsle for a great selection of themes that will make your blog stand out.

I usually opt for a clean theme that allows me to customize the look to suit my niche. There are some themes that will allow for full customization, while others are limited in the number of features you can customize.

Wordpress Themes

4. Write your first blog post

Now that your blog is ready to go, it’s time to write your first post. I do want to admit that my very first post sucked badly. This is because I had no clue in how to structure a blog post. Now that I’ve done my research on the best ways to structure blog posts, readers have given me positive feedback. My trick in structuring my blog posts is by using an outline. An outline allows you time to think about where you want to place your headers and links, and gives you time to analyze the structure before you write it down. Outlines do take a little extra time, but in my opinion are worth every second because it makes the post much easier to read and follow.

In WordPress, you have the option to save as a draft, which is a great feature if you like to write in pieces and then come back to finish up. There are several other options you’ll want to pay attention to as you are creating your post.

  • Categories – Categories are like the table of contents in a book. Let’s use my site for an example of how categories work. Look to the right of this post into my sidebar. You’ll see a drop down menu called “Categories.” Let’s say you want to see every post I’ve written about sports. I created a “Sports” category and selected it every time I wrote a sports-related blog post. If you select “Sports” from the Category menu, you’ll be presented with any post I’ve written about Sports. Go ahead and try it, but come back to this post!
  • Tags – Tags are more like an index than a table of contents. Tags are keywords that tell the reader what the post is about. Go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post. You’ll see I’ve included several tags that tie to the subject matter of this post. Tags are also a good way to group related posts. Think of them as being just like hashtags on Twitter. If you click on a hashtag in Twitter, you’ll be presented with any posts that include that tag. It’s a great way to read related content.
  • Featured Image – The featured image is the image that will show up at the top of your blog post.  Look at the top of this post. Do you see the very cool image I’ve created for this post?  That’s the featured image.  Whenever you share your post, unless you’ve told WordPress to use a different image, by default, it will use the featured image. I use a creative featured image for every blog post.
  • Sharing –  Under the featured image is an option to select which social media sites you want to share the post to once you’ve hit publish. While you can connect to any service you want, I usually share to the big boys – Facebook and Twitter.
  • Post format – I don’t mess with this feature very much, but can be useful depending on the type of post you are writing. If you are only posting an image or a video, this feature will format the post to that particular medium. Since I primarily post in regular text and images, I leave this setting at “Standard.”

5. Share your post with the world

You’ve spent hours writing and perfecting your post before publishing it. The next step is critical in getting readers to it. I always share my posts through a variety of mediums: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flipboard, etc. I take the extra steps in sharing my new post inside the many Facebook groups in which I participate.  For Pinterest, I highly recommend you try out Tailwind. It is doing wonders for my blog traffic and engagement!

6. Monetize your blog

If you are looking to make income with your blog, and don’t want to rely on Google Adsense, affiliate links are fantastic income producers. If you find the opportunity to incorporate an affiliate link to promote a product that relates to your post, do it. I wrote a very informative post on how to make the most of affiliate links. I recommend checking it out, as well as my post on how to make passive income with affiliate marketing.

7. Useful tools and resources

The following articles are tools and resources to help you in your blogging journey:

That’s it! I hope these tips will help you on your quest to starting and running a very successful blog!

Have fun!

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10 Ways You Are Destroying Your Blog

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission. Thank you for supporting me!

Did you ever think that instead of making your blog sizzle that you are actually hurting it???

Yes, it’s possible. And too many bloggers are guilty of this than you’d think. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Blogging is a huge investment of time, focus, energy, and money. Just like any other business, the more you put into it, the better the output.

Are you guilty of hurting your blog? You may be and not even realize it. Take a look at 10 big ones I’ve identified below and see if you fell victim to any (or all) of them.

10 Ways You Are Destroying Your Blog

1. You picked the wrong niche

If you don’t pick the right niche, you’re in for loads of trouble. Picking a niche where you can be successful is important to do right away. If you start off blogging in a niche you know nothing about, you are going to have a hard time selling confidence to your readers. Trust me when I say you should pin down the right niche well before posting your first piece. It’s so much easier to switch your niche before you’ve purchased a domain name, designed your blog, and written 10+ posts.

When I was thinking about what my niche was going to be, I wrote down topics that interested me. I’m a dad, so naturally writing about my parenting experiences made sense. I also enjoy helping others learn how to blog, so that was another opportunity. If you are a basketball player, does it make sense to start a baseball sports blog? Probably not. Same holds true with any other niche. Don’t dive into a world of unfamiliarity. Stick with what you know and what you are good at. Remember, you are writing for your readers. If you sound like you have no clue what you are talking about, you are going to lose your readers’ trust (and probably see a spike in unsubscribe emails!).

2. You’re too focused on making money

Far too many bloggers only start a blog to make money, but fail to realize that connecting with their readers and instilling value in what they write is what drives more affiliate sales. If you are too focused on banner ads, affiliate links and other monetization tactics, you become less focused on creating high quality content. The advice I always give other bloggers is to establish a readership first, then jump into monetizing.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to want to try to earn money from your blog. Monetizing a blog can be a great way of earning extra income. As a daddy of 4 kids, and a household of 6 people, I’ll take any extra side income I can get. Don’t let the idea of earning money take over. Yes, you should try to monetize with affiliate links, but it should be a background to your main content.

3. You aren’t self-hosted

If you are serious about blogging, and I mean serious enough to want thousands of followers, you must go the self-hosted route. When you don’t have a professional domain name and stick with a free blog URL, you limit yourself and you tarnish your reputation from the start. To be taken seriously, you have to look serious.

Which blog are you going to visit first? www.makemillionsofdollars.com or www.makemillionsofdollars.wordpress.com? Probably the first one, right? Some bloggers have actually argued with me that it doesn’t matter as long as the content is superb. I politely disagree with them that your blog is like your marketing material. Spend the time and money necessary to make it WORK FOR YOU not AGAINST YOU!

4. Your blog’s design sucks

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the overall design of your blog is crucial to its success. If everything isn’t displayed and organized wisely, your readers will become confused. Make sure you have a theme that’s mobile-friendly, and a layout that puts your best foot forward.

Do not use the default WordPress theme. I know it’s simple and already ready for you, but resist the temptation! If you do, you are going to shout to the blogging world that you didn’t take the time to make your blog unique. Need a theme? I highly recommend ThemeIsle.

5. You don’t plan ahead

Are you guilty of this one? I think all bloggers can say that we have sometimes felt rushed to get a post published versus planning ahead to make sure the post will perform well. One way I stopped myself from doing this is by creating an outline for every post. An outline forces me to stop, organize all of those potentially great thoughts in my head, and make my post flow with a great introduction, a sizzling body, and a well-planned call-to-action. If you do this every time, your blog posts will look more organized.

6. You don’t provide any value to your readers

I can sit here and write all day until my hands are numb, but if the content I’m spitting out isn’t helpful or valuable, I’m just wasting everyone’s time. My rule of thumb is that if my post doesn’t teach someone something, or provide valuable information to help them, I don’t post it. I see so many other bloggers just writing to write. That’s fine that you chronicle every freaking marathon you run, but how does that help me?

7. You aren’t using social media to your advantage

Social media is so important to my blog. I depend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to help spread the word about my posts, as well as give my readers an insight to who I am when I’m not blogging. If you aren’t already connecting all of your blog posts to social media, now’s a great time to start. If you are using WordPress, you can connect most of them through your sharing settings.

8. You focus on yourself first

I want to elude back to the blogger that only writes about running marathons. Every time I read one of these posts, I wonder when he/she is going to focus on what their readers want and need. Focusing on yourself makes it very difficult for your readers to become engaged and see value in following you.

You may argue that your blog’s content should be about you, because you are the blogger after all, right? Wrong. If you are trying to gain followers and their trust, you have to focus on their needs. Does this mean you can’t ever write a post about yourself? Of course not, but not every post should focus on you. This post I wrote today focuses on my own experience as a blogger and how that experience can help other bloggers succeed.

9. Your images are low quality

If you aren’t using high quality images on your site today, you are damaging your reputation. Images add so much engagement and value to your site. While there are multiple free stock image sites available, try taking your own pictures to make your site more personal. Images do a great job of driving SEO and also are good ways to break up your content. I’m a visual learner, so if I see a picture that goes along with an idea, I do a better job of making connections and understanding what I’m reading.

10. Your email marketing strategy isn’t working

How many of us can say we are actively emailing our subscribers? If you can’t say it, you are missing out on talking directly to your readers. Use your content marketing system already in place to reach out to your readers and gauge their wants and needs. Selling affiliate products? Email marketing is a great forum to announce a great product you support and use. DON’T use this as an opportunity to spam your readers. Not only will you look spammy, but you’ll lose readers in the process.

Sound off…

What other ways have you found that have been detrimental to your blog? I’d love to add them to this list. Let me know in the comments!

What To Do When You Can’t Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission. Thank you for supporting me!

You really have the itch to write a new blog post and you are in front of your computer ready to go, but there’s one MAJOR problem. Nothing’s coming to mind. Have you ever experienced this? Believe it or not, there are things you can do to keep you completely busy even when you have writer’s block.

Your blog is like a house. It needs maintenance and tender-loving care every once and a while. When you are busy cranking out the blog posts, it’s easy to overlook other tasks necessary to keep your blog running and drawing in traffic. Let’s take a look at some of those things today!

What To Do When You Can't Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

1. Update old blog posts

Hey, some of the crap I wrote years ago is probably outdated. Those posts may still be drawing in some traffic, but the level of engagement has dropped tremendously. A good rule of thumb is to updated your blog posts every 6 months. Chances are, you’ll see increased engagement, and you’ll show your readers you want to keep the information you are sharing to them updated with the latest information.

2. Spend the day promoting across social media

Pick 3 posts you’ve written that 1) you really love and 2) get a lot of traffic. Share these posts across all of your social media accounts. If you participate in Facebook groups, spend time sharing these posts in your groups and engage with other bloggers.

3. Check for and repair broken links

Wait, what? I have good links on my site! No chance they are broken! WRONG! You’d be surprised, especially if you have been blogging for a while, how many links were good at the time you published a post, but have since broken. It happens. There are numerous free websites that will scan your site and report broken links. My favorite site is Dead Link Checker. Simply enter in your site’s URL and in a few minutes you’ll have a list of every broken link. Depending on the number of broken links, this will take some time to clean up, but it’s worth it!  Keep in mind that Dead Link’s free service only checks up to the first 2,000 links, so if you want to check more, you have to sign up for their auto-check service ($110/year)

Broken links not only damage your credibility and reputation as a blogger, but they also damage your site’s rankings in search engines. Trust me, this is a task you’ll want to complete regularly. Again, I shoot for every 6 months, but you can certainly do it on your own schedule.

4. Update your resources page

Please tell me you have a resources page. It’s one of the most critical pages on a blog – especially if you participate in affiliate marketing. I make it a habit to update my resource page every month, because I’m always coming across new products, websites, tools, and resources that I want to share right away.

5. Update your WordPress theme and plugins

New versions of WordPress themes and plugins are released all the time. Important security patches and enhancements can protect your site from vulnerability. Make it a habit to update these items as soon as the new versions are released. You can check for updates through your WordPress dashboard.

6. Backup your site

I hope you have a regular site backup installed on your blog. I can’t imagine what I’d do if nearly 2 years of blogging just disappeared. WordPress blogs can get hacked. It happened to me!  I use a free plugin called Updraft Plus Backup/Restore. There are premium options to this plugin, but the free options are sufficient for what I need. I save one daily backup of my files to Google Drive. Some plugins will save directly to your wp-content folder, but I advise against this in case the folder is unavailable, or is damaged – trust me, it happens!

7. Check your sidebar content

Take a few minutes periodically to check the content in your sidebar. If you have expired ads, remove them or replace them. Not sure what to put in your sidebar? Read my recent post: 8 Things You Should Include In Your Sidebar.

8. Check your comments queue

If you use WordPress, chances are you might have some comments pending your approval. This is a good opportunity to make sure there aren’t any legit comments sitting there. Be careful, as there is almost always going to be at least one spam comment. Delete the spam and approve the legit comments.

9. Update your media kit

By now, as an experienced blogger, you should have a solid media kit. If you have one, but haven’t touched it in months, now’s the perfect time. I strive to update my media kit monthly, but with everything going on at once, sometimes it goes a little longer. By keeping your media kit refreshed, potential customers and partners get your most accurate information.

10. Update your social media profiles

How long has it been since you updated your social media profiles? Bloggers depend on social media to connect with readers and fans, so to have an outdated profile is actually a step backwards towards building credibility. Whatever you put in your social media profiles, make them consistent. You can also take this time to disconnect from any social media accounts you don’t use. Spend time updating only those accounts you post to regularly (and maybe send out a post telling your readers to check out your new profile!).

11. Update your “About Me” page

One of the most important pages on your site is your “About Me” page. Make sure the information in your about me is up to date. Remember, your “About Me” page should be about how you can help your readers – and not your life story. Check out my “About Me” page (and feel free to provide any good or bad feedback….I can take it!).

12. Respond to feedback

Whether it’s an email, comment, social media post, etc., timely responses show your readers how engaged you are in your blog’s success. Take this time to monitor everything you need to respond to, and make sure your responses are valuable to your readers. Did a reader share a great idea with you? Give them credit through a tweet or a Facebook mention.

13. Update your posting schedule

If you don’t have a set schedule, and just post whenever, now’s a great time to create one for your blog and social media accounts. Planning ahead is one thing many of us don’t do very well, but could save us a lot of time in the long run. I know some bloggers who live by their schedules, and would be lost without them. I’m not quite there yet as I blog 2-3 times per week, maybe more, but could benefit from a set schedule. If you have a Pinterest account, there are free scheduling templates out there. Go grab one and put it to use!

14. Scour social media and news sites for ideas

If you’ve done all of the above, why not generate some ideas for new blog posts. One of the ways I do this is to see what’s new on social media and in the news. You’d be surprised as to how many ideas you can get just from one site. If you follow other bloggers, maybe check out what they’ve written about, and write a contradicting post about it, or write a spin-off of their topic. It’s easier to find topics to write about than you think. You just have to put a little effort into it!

15. Write an e-Book

By now, I think I have more than enough content to convert into an e-Book. The good thing about doing this is that you aren’t coming up with new ideas. You are taking your existing ideas and converting them into an easy-to-read eBook. If you have a lot of content, creating several eBooks on different topics can also keep you busy. Make sure to notify your readers on how they can purchase a copy whenever it’s ready. I recommend Blurb to help design your eBook!

Take that, Writer’s Block!

You don’t have to be less productive whenever you have writer’s block. With these 15 ideas, you are sure to stay busy, but at the same time, your blog will continue to stay refreshed, which only adds to its success!

Do you have any other ideas on how to be productive when your brain isn’t?  Share them in the comments!

5 Critical Steps to Follow Before Writing Your First Blog Post

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will earn commission. 

New TLDs as cheap as 88 cents

If you are reading today’s post, you’re probably one of many pondering whether or not starting a blog is a good idea for you. There are many reasons for starting a blog, but I won’t go into those details today. Today, I’m going to talk about 5 critical steps you need to do, and do right, before hitting publish on that first post. It’s tempting to get started right away, and you should, but bear these 5 tips in mind before sharing your content with the world.

5 Critical Steps to Follow Before Writing Your First Blog Post

1. Find your niche and stick with it

Before you start a blog, make sure you have identified a niche that will drive interest and traffic regularly. One mistake some bloggers make is they start writing their blog posts before they have done this step, and they end up writing about anything under the sun. I guess this is ok if you aren’t looking to build a solid audience. If you’re starting a casual blog where you write about whatever you want, that’s fine and dandy, but if you are like most bloggers, earning income and building traffic is critical. Here’s where identifying your niche immediately is important in driving traffic to your blog.

How do you find your niche?

Research other blogs. What makes them tick? How are they soliciting feedback? How are they drawing in readers? I’m definitely NOT saying plagiarize! Researching other blogs can give you good ideas on how you can structure your own blog’s content.

Write about what you know? Do you know a lot about cooking or education? Chances are, you’ll have a lot to say about something you are good at versus writing about cars if you know NOTHING about cars. Write about what you know. Write about your personal experiences. Find ways to make your content and expertise valuable to your readers. Remember, you are writing for your readers first…then yourself.

Do Google searches for topics and keywords that rank high. I know, I know, everyone says keyword research and SEO are both important in driving traffic. This is a true statement. Before you decide on your niche, do research on what other people are searching for in your niche, and cater your blog’s content to addressing those topics.

My rule of thumb: If you have to scratch your head day in and day out to find a suitable post topic, you’ve picked the wrong niche. I can think of tons of topics on blogging I can write about, and I feel like the sky’s the limit for new topics. Another piece of advice is don’t pick a niche that everyone and their mothers write about. If you do, you’ll just be posting into a flooded market. If you want to start a parenting blog, pick topics few parents write about. Make them unique, valuable, and even controversial (whether to or not to vaccinate a child is a great controversial topic, for example, if you are a parenting blogger). If you’re making someone’s skin boil just reading your post title, chances are, they’ll read your post (and probably comment too!)

2. Build a list of potential blog post titles/topics

Hey, when I first started my blog, I had no idea where to start writing. What I found very helpful was to start (and then add to) a list of potential titles and topics I want to write about in future blog posts. Since I regularly have writer’s blog, a list helps me to not have to dig up new titles every time I’m ready to write. The list is readily available for me and I can pick and choose from it to write my next masterpiece of a blog post. Since I write about blogging, I actually published a list of 100 blog post ideas. Every time I write a post from that list, I add the link to the list, which helps keep readers on my site longer. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Plan your blog’s design ahead of time

Ugh, this was a long and painful process for me. I already have OCD, so having to make sure every inch of my blog was perfectly designed really set my OCD into high gear….but….take my advice and plan ahead. I didn’t, the first few times, and it was a long process to get things where I wanted them.

Blog theme advice: I hope you are using WordPress because it is the best. WordPress can be customized to just about any blogger’s liking.  There are thousands of themes for just about any blog type imaginable. A great place to get a solid theme for your WordPress blog is ThemeIsle.

Keep the sidebar neat: Have you ever visited a blog where the entire sidebar was so cluttered you couldn’t find anything? Heck, it doesn’t have to be just blogs that have this problem, but any website for that matter. Keep your sidebar clean, and by clean I don’t mean blank. Put worthwhile information in the sidebar (short bio, social media follow links, blog subscribe button, popular posts, etc) and leave out non-essential information. I know it’s tempting to fill up the sidebar with every widget imaginable, but just remember that the more you add to the sidebar, the slower loading time your site will have. If you are curious as to how fast your site is running right now, WP Engine has a free speed test.

Make it unique: Make your blog’s design unique to you and your blog’s niche. Definitely don’t use the default theme! Just because the template is popular, doesn’t mean it’ll set you apart from other bloggers. Remember, your content is what’s driving readers to your site. So, don’t let them down when they get there. Give them a piece of who you are and what they are getting when they come visit your site. Make subscribing to your blog irresistible.

Your homepage should show your most recent blog posts. There are several ways to organize your homepage. You can either have a static page and direct your traffic to your blog using your site’s menu, or you can have your content be the first thing readers see when they come to your page. My suggestion is to put your content on display right away and to not make your readers hunt for it. Your great content is the reason they’re here, so why hide it? I make it a rule to always put my most recent content on the homepage – no matter what options my theme may give me. Keep in mind this may not be the best option if you run a business (and your blog is one piece of your entire website).

4. Choose the right title and domain name

Nothing was more difficult for me starting my blog than choosing my blog’s title and domain name.  Go Ask Your Daddy wasn’t the first title, nor was it my first niche. When I started blogging at the end of 2015, my blog’s title was The Buzzer Beater Blog. I had originally decided to start a sports blog, but quickly found I didn’t have enough to talk about on a regular basis. So, I changed to Go Ask Your Daddy. It fits because I’m a daddy of 4, it suggests I have the answer, and I liked it!

Domain names are cheap most of the time, but you’ll want to make sure you pick the right one the first time. The best domain names are the same as your blog’s title. Do searches on what’s available (at any web host’s site) before deciding on a title. You want to make sure the domain name you want is available before committing to a title. I highly recommend Namecheap.com for domain name purchase. You can register your domain for as little as $.88.

5. Join Blogging Groups

Oh, how I love all of my Facebook blogging groups!  I have learned so much about blogging and met so many fantastic bloggers. Just as with any profession, networking is key to gaining opportunities. The great thing about blogging groups is that they are full of like-minded bloggers looking to share content, boost traffic, meet others, and learn new techniques. I currently manage my own group, Blogger Share and Promo Group, but am a member in other groups, such as: Grow Your Blog, Bloggers for Bloggers, Bloggers Supporting Each Other, and Bloggers Finally Getting Noticed, among others.

Ready to start your blog? I can help!

Not only do I love blogging, but I love helping people like you start a blog too. Although blogging is a ton of work, it can be fun, rewarding, and fulfilling. I have certainly learned tons about it in my short 2 years of blogging. I have tons more to learn, but that’s okay. Learning is how we improve in anything and blogging isn’t any different.

I’ve written many posts about how to start a blog. My favorite one is How to Start a Money Making Blog.  You can also subscribe to my free 7-day email course, “How to Create a Profitable Blog

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