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How To Start A Successful Blog In 2020: A Practical Guide

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Like many other people, you’ve probably read some blog posts in your life, have friends that are blog owners and may wonder how do they do it? How do they make money?

If you are looking for a great alternative to escape the 9-5 job and you’re wondering how to get started then this practical guide on how to start a successful blog is for you.

Starting a blog is not a secret and not too complicated. But let me be honest from the start, making it successful takes time, dedication and treating it as a business, even if you’re starting out.

There are many examples of bloggers who have started a blog, and after a few months or years, turned it into their full time business.

The problem, is that in order to start a blog to make money, you need to read. A lot. For many people this is an entirely new world and this may seem overwhelming.

Another thing is that no one really provides all the details, and reveals a true step-by-step process to start a blog the right way.

Or if they provide an advice, it is usually missing some important details that can really make or break your blogging journey.

The other part of that what makes a successful blog is you.

What do I mean is that?

For your blog to be successful and make money, enough to quit your day job, you need to work on it. It is just like any other business.

And in blogging, if you do not put up the necessary work and investment of your time, your blog will be lost in the millions of blogs starting every year and fail.

And I don’t want you to experience that. You can always succeed. Don’t think otherwise.

What it takes, is a decision and persistence to go that route.

Why?

First, because if you do not start to do something TODAY that will benefit you in the long run, when will you?

And what is the price you will pay, for not pursing your goals and dreams?

Think about it – we only live once, right?

So if blogging is your thing, and it is the type of online business you want to start, take action and let’s get started.

This practical guide for starting a blog will provide you step by step, actionable tasks for how to start a blogging business.

That means, picking your blog name, your hosting plan, setting up WordPress, writing your first posts and so on.

So, let’s start planning on how to start a super smashing blog.

Disclaimer: Please note that this post includes affiliate links which may provide a commission to me at no cost to you. However, the links are for the best software and tools, that I personally use, that you need to start a successful blog.

Is it Worth Starting a Blog in 2020?

There are more than 600 blogs out there!

More than 600 blogs in 2020

But if that number scares you, fear not!

40% of People Say They Don't Read Blogs: Here's How You Can Still Get on  Their Radar

60% of all internet users read blogs more than once a week. Some other survey says that the number is closer to 70%.

As we have more than 4.5 billion people with internet access, there’s plenty of room to become a success story and make money blogging. Even in the most competitive niches.

Blogging has grown by 12% since 2015 and the number of bloggers in the USA alone is expected to grow to 31.7 million in 2020.

So, is it worth to start blogging in 2020? The answer is yeah! And it will probably be the same answer in 2021.

Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trustworthy source for gathering online information and this is not going away or going to disappear anytime soon.

How to Start a Successful Blog in 2020?

The process to starting a blog is divided into a few sections or steps (if you will) and it is important to follow each one.

There are a few things that are optional and I will make sure to mention it as I want you to get started as soon as possible.

Starting a blog, just like starting a business, is originated from an idea you have.

That idea needs to be formalized in writing and I suggest (strongly suggest) you go through some planning before launching your new blog in 2020 so you’ll get started the right way.

When you start a new business, you generally start with a business plan and setting up your business long term goals.

Other than creating a plan, which is a more theoretical part of creating your online presence, there is the practical steps all actually owning a website.

When you start blogging, there are a few stages you will be going through as you grow your blog. I have divided it into 4 parts:

1. BUSINESS INFRASTRUCTURE – The set up, or what I like to call the infrastructure of setting up your blog. Your niche, URL, hosting, target audience and you’re building your initial content and SEO strategy.

2. GAINING MOMENTUM – Scaling your content and SEO practice and growing a social media presence

3. MONETIZATION STRATEGIES – The make money part – how are you going to generate money through your blog

4. BUSINESS TOOLS – And last, the tools and resources that you need, to grow your blog as a business.

In this blog post, I will be focusing on the first part of stating a blog, setting up your business Infrastructure.

1. Selecting Your Blog Niche

Many people that want to start a blog a finding it hard to define what they are going to blog about?

What am I going to write about on my blog posts?

What problems am I planning to solve with my blog posts / content?

from Chris Traeger GIFs via Gfycat

After all, if you do not solve your audience problems what would they come back to reading your blog?

There are many types of blogs, ranging from health and fitness, to yoga, to Mediterranean cooking. You can blog about almost anything and you can also make money in almost any niche.

There are more popular niches than others and those tend to be more competitive and you can also find a micro niche blog that makes a ton of money.

Familiarity with what your audience wants to hear and read about is great. If you do not have previous experience in a specific niche, that can also work, as long as you have a passion to make that selection a full time business.

Now, I have seen generic blogs that are successful as well as niche blogs. As long as you always focus on solving your audience problems.

I actually believe that being able to solve your target audience problems is the key, even if you have a general blog.

It is more important than trying to nail a specific niche

When I first started, I didn’t have a clear idea about my blogging niche.

I originally started this blog to document my journey to financial freedom. But my target audience was not really defined. So, I wrote posts on topics that seemed related.

After some time, I realized, I do not really enjoy writing about personal finance, budgeting and frugal living.

I actually started it all wrong. The focus was on me and not on my target audience.

So, today it is exactly the opposite.

If I ask myself today, the question I should have asked in the start which is:

What problems am I planning to solve with my blog posts / content?

Simple.

People that want to start a blog to make money are reading different blog posts from different people on different topics and waste their time trying to implement different strategies.

But what they really want is to have one place that gathers all that information for them and solve most of their questions in an easy-to-understand and practical way.

New bloggers need those practical tips to know what are the next steps to take when they start blogging and what is the best way of doing that.

Basically, I wanted to target me.

And that means, I wanted to target people, that are just tired of their 9-5 job.

They are tired to ask for permission to take a break, go on vacation, find creative excuses when their kids are sick too many times.

And they don’t want to waste their lives, being under stress, especially, when they are doing all that hard work for someone else to reach success. They can lose their job at any moment their boss would decide on.

Those people (me) want to get themselves an alternative.

Something they can do from the comfortable space of their home. Something that will not cost way too much and in the long run can become their full time job.

People that are not giving up on their dreams of living with a flexible schedule, having enough time for the family and just to really enjoy what our precious world have to offer to people that are financially independent.

But, like with any new entrepreneur, they are not really sure how to start a blog and make money online, and they need someone to hold them by the hand and get them to the point where they have a blog setup, they understand what they need to do every day in order to make it work.

That is me.

That’s my struggle and I know exactly what questions I have and that means, what questions my audience may ask in his blogging journey.

The rule of thumb for you to know if you selected the right niche doesn’t have to do with your passions, as many bloggers tell you to, it is to do with the simple fact of the niche monetization potential.

Can you make money with it with your chosen niche?

That means two things:

  1. Are there people looking for that type of information?
  2. Are they willing to spend money on solving their problem?

Let’s provide a simple answer for both of these questions.

1. Draft a List of Keywords

To answer both of these questions you need to start with writing down some keywords that are relevant to the niche.

Let’s say you want to create a blog to help people select the right health insurance plans for them.

You can start with you seed keywords:

  • Health Insurance
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance plan

You can use Google Suggestion to help you build the list of relevant keywords but typing your seed keyword and look at the suggestions provided by Google:

So now you should have additional keywords to work with:

  • How to compare health insurance
  • Best health insurance plan
  • What to look for in a health insurance plan
  • What is open enrollment for health insurance
  • And so on….

2. Are there enough people looking for that information?

Ok you have an initial list of keywords. Now what?

What you want to see if that enough people are looking for it.

You can do this using Google Keyword Planner or you can use a simple extension that shows you the number of searches right on Google search screen as you can see in the image below (on the right side of the screen).

This tool is called Keyword Anywhere and it cost close to nothing. I pay $10 for 100,000 google searches. Very cool!

What I love about it is that it provide search volume, trend and CPC (cost per click) like here:

Or here:

Gather those keywords and examine if enough people are search for it.

Now, not every niche is driving more than 3,000 search a month for keywords. Look at all the relevant keywords in your niche and see what the search volume is.

But search volume is not the only thing to pay attention to.

3. Are those people willing to pay?

How do you know if your chosen niche has any revenue potential? You can take a look on the CPC (Cost per Click) value of those keywords.

When I first started, I picked keywords without even looking into their CPC. I thought this is something that is only relevant for people that want to promote Google Ads.

Are people spending money on those keywords?

If they are not, try to look for a different niche. Or look into more keywords.

You can either Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Anywhere or your select SEO Tool to figure out the CPC value. I use both Keyword Anywhere and Ahrefs.

2. Define your target audience

Ok, so you have selected a niche. It is now time to define your audience.

By now, you have a good idea on who is your audience.

However, I still suggest going through the exercise of defining your audience needs and wants as it will help you define your content strategy for the next few months.

When I started, as you can imagine, I didn’t know what post I should write next. Every time, I did a keyword research from scratch but I didn’t really have any formal plan of what I am trying to achieve.

Don’t repeat my mistake. I wasted a lot of precious time on trying to figure out what to write about. Once I defined my audience, two important things happened in parallel:

  1. I now have a year’s worth of content to write about. I know my audience problems and there is not enough space on the chart to even say how many questions comes new bloggers have to deal with when trying to start a blog as a business.
  2. Equally, if not more important, my blog posts are now addressing my target audience needs and wants in words. Meaning, I am able to connect with my target audience way better and my writing is way more specific. And no, I did not set up a persona as that persona is me.

Defining a persona is an important step in defining your audience. If the niche you’ve picked is not something you are experience with, you’ll need to dig dipper into what your audience really want.

What helped my in this process is a sort of brainstorming exercise. Now it is your time to go through that exercise and identify all the topics and questions that are relevant to the niche you have picked.

1. Ask yourself the right questions

I basically asked my self the following questions:

  1. What’s my audience needs and want to learn?
  2. What are their problems and challenges?
  3. What are their wishes?
  4. If I was reading and following a blog that helps people to start a blog (replace it with your niche), what would make me stay in it and visit it again?
  5. What area of a starting a blog (you can replace it with your niche idea), a new blogger (your audience) needs to know about.
  6. Who will read it? How old they are? Are they married? What are their interests? Do they have a full time or part-time job, or maybe they work from home? Do they have children? So more technical facts rather than emotional triggers.

Write down your answers.

If you are still not sure, or you are not yet that familiar with your audience internal triggers, then to go the next step.

2. Search online for more clues

The internet is full of people asking questions in different places. You can allocate a few hours to search common questions. This is how you do it.

Like many other bloggers are saying, go to Reddit, or Quora to look for your target audience questions online. Search Facebook groups related to your niche.

You can even type your keywords on Pinterest and see the search results you are getting. What are the pin images you see first? What questions do they answer?

Look at Amazon comments if you have picked a niche related to physical products.

Make sure you write all those questions down. They will help you as you start creating your content strategy and plan.

3. Select your Blog Domain Name

Choosing a name for your blog can either be a challenging task or an easy one.

You can choose to blog anonymously and that means, your name will not be part of your blog domain name, or you can choose to go with your own name. Here are some successful blogs that have chosen their own names at their blog domain name:

  • Neil Patel – www.neilpatel.com
  • Adam Enfroy – www.adamenfroy.com

And I also know that there are enough successful blogs with weird names and that’s not what stopped them:

  • Brian Dean – www.backlinko.com (the name is related to Brian’s knowledge in getting backlinks and providing top SEO advice)
  • A Better Lemonade Stand – www.abetterlemonadestand.com (Providing advice on how to build an eCommerce business)
  • Our next lives – www.ournextlives (A blog dedicated to reaching financial freedom)
  • Mr. Money Mustache – www.mrmoneymustache.com (Another blog for how to master personal finance and reach financial freedom)

Now, I know the excitement of starting a new blog. You are so eager to start really quick with your new blog idea. And I also know that there are enough successful blogs with weird names and that’s not what stopped them.

But why even set out with a not-so-pointed name?

Instead of falling into the beginners mistakes, it is better to invest some thought in it and get going properly!

“The name I wanted for the blog is already taken, what should I do?”

In short – keep looking.

It sucks to lock in a name and then find out the domain name is taken. I think every new blogger is familiar with this situation. But there is nothing to do with it other than to let go and move on.

One rule of thumb is to look for .com URL ending instead of any other.

8 Tips For Choosing A Name of Your Blog:

  1. Make sure it is a catchy name – make it easy for your target market to pronounce and to type.
  2. Pick a name that will not limit your writing in the future. Sometimes when you start, you may decide to change your focus audience or to expend your audience instead. Make sure the chosen blog name is flexible to allow this. However, if you are certain and picked your niche, then you can pick a related blog name like Brian Dean with Backlinko.com.
  3. Do not pick a name that’s including any brand name
  4. If you have an idea for a blog name, search for it in Google and in social media sites to see that it not taken already.
  5. Make it short and sweet. You do not want to choose a blog name that is too long for anyone to remember.
  6. Don’t pick a domain name that includes numbers or hyphens.
  7. Who is your target audience? Is it businesses, young people, hipsters, moms, locals, geeks? Can you incorporate it into the name?
  8. Make sure YOU like it

4. Setup you Blog Hosting and Domain Name

Starting a blog, like with any other website for that matter, means it has to be hosted on a server for it to be available online.

When it comes to picking a hosting company, you should know that there are many options available, when prices can range from $3-$1,000 a month.

My advice it to pick a hosting company that is known and trustworthy as the performance of your blog depends heavily on the type of hosting you choose.

If you do not have a blog already, I strongly advise starting with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month. You also get a FREE domain name for the first year!

If you choose to buy a domain name from a company different from your hosting company, you’ll have to have your new domain name pointed to your hosting company. Check with your hosting company for the details you’ll need to provide your domain name company.

Here is a step-by-step guide to set up your hosting plan:

  1. Go to Bluehost

    Click on “Get Started” button
    Get started with Bluehost

  2. Select Hosting Plan

    Choose your hosting plan:

    Select Bluehost hosting plan
    Just note that the “Choice Plus” plan offers a free who.is guard which will hide your domain contact details to the world. It is an affordable way to get started.

  3. Add Your Domain

    Next, you want to add your domain if you already have one.
    Create your domain in Bluehost
    If you do not have a domain name, you can create a new one and get it for free for the first year. If you are not sure what should be your domain name, skip this step and continue reading.

  4. Enter your details

    In this step you should enter your content information. Remember that if you choose the “Choice Plus” you get domain privacy and protection so those details are not exposed to the public.

    Bluehost account information

  5. Select the best hosting plan package

    Below you will see the Package Information step. Here you can choose for how long you want to purchase your hosting plan. You can pick 12, 24 or 36 months.

    Bluehost package information
    The longer you choose your hosting plan, the lower the price you will pay. Also, if you select an annual payment vs. monthly payment, the price will be reduced even further.

    So if you are planning to run your blog for the long term, then going with the 36 months option, would be the best choice to go with.

    You can uncheck Bluehost SEO Tools and SiteLock Security. These are unnecessary and can be replicated with other free WordPress plugins.

  6. Buy it

    Finally, pick your payment option. You can choose to make the payment via credit card or PayPal.

When you are starting a blog, there is no need at the beginning to go with a dedicated server or a VPS hosting. The shared plan would be more than enough for the beginning.

However, as you grow your blog traffic, it would be advised to start exploring a hosting plan that provides better performance for the increased number of visitors.

Look at this comparison for Bluehost hosting plans:

If you do not have a blog already, I strongly advise starting with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month. You also get a FREE domain name for the first year!

5. How to start a blog on WordPress?

There are different blogging platforms out there that you can choose to start your new blog. You can choose between Wix, Blogger, Squarespace, Tumbler and more.

However, most bloggers choose to go with WordPress as it is the easiest one.

Why is WordPress the Best Blogging Platform?

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world and is used to build websites. It can be downloaded for free and is translated into more than 60 languages.

In 2020, over 455 million websites use WordPress.com. That means that the WordPress market share is 35% of all websites in the world!

If you still don’t know what WordPress is then it’s time for you to know.

1. Here are the steps to install WordPress

If you have chosen Bluehost as your blog web hosting, then you don’t need to install anything but:

  1. Log into your new Bluehost account
  1. Select the Hosting menu option and scroll down to Website. You will then see a link to install WordPress
  2. After you have finished installing WordPress and setting up your blog password, it’s time to pick your WordPress theme.

2. Install a WordPress theme

WordPress Themes are design templates which can make your blog look really professional. There are endless of WordPress themes available. Some are free to use and for other you may be required to pay.

At this stage, I wouldn’t spend too much time to investigate the different themes. The aim here is to make progress and not to make perfect 😉

However, at this stage, Bluehost lets you pick a theme of your choice or you can choose to skip this step and start building your blog:

Pick a theme that inspires you or skip this step

3. How to Change Your WordPress Theme?

If you have installed a theme that you do not like or you would like to change your initial WordPress theme selection it is very easy to do.

  1. Log into your WordPress blog. You can do it by going to: YourDomainName.com/wp-admin and entering your username and password.

Once you are logged in, your WordPress Dashboard will look like this:

Click on Appearance on the left side menu and select Themes. You can either add a new theme or search for a theme you like in the search box.

How To Install WordPress Theme - 3 Methods - PixelEmu

You can scroll down and preview as many themes as you want before picking the one you liked for your blog. You can narrow your search results by using the themes filter options:

WordPress.org Theme Feature Filter

Find a theme you loved, just click on installation.

If you still cannot find something that you like, there are plenty of sites like Elegant Themes, WP Royal and many more that offer paid themes you can buy.

When you buy a theme, a zip file is sent to you via email. To install this external theme, all that you have to do is go to “Appearance” – “Themes” and click “Add New,” upload the zip file and click install.

Add a new WordpPress theme

If you do not have a blog already, I strongly advise starting with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month. You also get a FREE domain name for the first year!

Ok, so we are done with some serious steps like:

  1. Choosing your niche
  2. Defining your target audience and their challenges
  3. Selecting your blog domain name
  4. Registering a URL and setup hosting plan
  5. Installing WordPress and set up a WordPress theme

Now, that we have your blog setup it’s time to customize it by adding important WordPress plugins.

As you’ve seen, themes makes you blog look different while plugins add certain functionality that cannot be found in the basic WordPress installation.

To add plugins, just log into your WordPress dashboard and click on Plugins menu:

What is a WordPress Plugin

Which plugins are recommended for you to install ?

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast is one of the most popular plugins for SEO and its FREE version is sufficient enough. It is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible.

The plugin really is for anyone and everyone, no matter how well they understand SEO. Yoast shows you SEO problems that it finds in your Title, content, meta description, internal or external links, images and so on… and all that inside of your own WordPress blog post:

Yoast SEO Recommendations

2. Akismet Anti-Spam

Akismet is used to reduce the number of spam comments on your WordPress blog.

Spam comments can become a big problem for WordPress websites. Once you launch your new blog, you will start noticing an increase in spam comments.

One way to deal with this is by enabling comment moderation on your WordPress blog. However, very soon you will not be able to moderate comments due to high volume of spam.

This is where Akismet comes in, it catches spam comments submitted to your blog and stops them from appearing on your blog.

3. WPForms

This plugin will let you create contact forms within minutes. For example, you contact form, or a survey form or any other form you would like.

4. Easy Table of Content

Adding a table of content to in-depth posts can help your audience navigate through the text.

A table of contents can help search engine bots as well as humans. By clearly labelling the important section names of an article, bots can understand what the article is about and display rich snippets in the search results.

5. Shortcodes Ultimate

Shortcodes ultimate is a great add-on that lets you add visual element to you posts without the need to code anything. It is really handy for people that are lacking the technical skills to customize their posts.

Available shortcodes with shortcodes ultimate

6. ConvertKit (for Lead Generation)

ConvertKit a great tool to create sign up forms, as a popup, embedded in the post and landing pages. It captures your subscribers’ email addresses into an email list.

Thanks to its ease of use, automation and other features, it’s one of the fastest-growing email marketing companies around. They have a FREE plan that includes unlimited landing pages and forms an email broadcast sending to 1000 subscribers. I created my first opt-in form within 1-2 minutes. They really make it easy to set up.

7. UpdraftPlus (for Backups)

UpdraftPlus is a great add-on to make sure your website is being backed up. With just a few clicks, you will be able to back up, clone, or restore your site with zero hassle. You can also set up an automatic backup.

8. WP Rocket (for Site Speed)

WP Rocket is a caching and performance optimization plugin to improve the loading speed of WordPress websites. You can install and configure WP Rocket in less than 3 minutes.

Reducing even a few milliseconds off your loading times could have a positive impact on conversion rates and search engine rankings.

Not plugins, but other important setup:

9. Setup Google Analytics

Obviously, you want to make sure you have Google Analytics installed from day one. It is very easy to do. It will provide you all the data you need on how your audience interacts with your new blog.

Google Analytics is available for free and all you need is a Google or Gmail account to sign up.

10. Setup Search Console

Google Search Console is a must for any business hoping to get more website traffic from search engines.

Once you’re set up, Google Search Console isn’t initially very exciting. You have to wait about a week before any useful data shows up, however something you can do right away is to submit an XML sitemap. This helps Google to find content on your site and index it more quickly.

Before you can submit a sitemap, you will need to create one. If you use Yoast SEO, it will automatically generate a Sitemap XML for your new blog.

Yoast SEO XML sitemap

7. How to structure your blog?

Your blog structure is the navigational menu that dictates the way user search and go through your blog. It is how your blog pages are structured and linked together.

Some bloggers neglect this point but it is actually very important.

There are a few guidelines to make your blog navigation menu which can increase your chances to get some Google love.

  1. All pages should within maximum 4 clicks from the main page of your blog.
  2. All pages should be linked into a menu

Here is a great image from Brian Dean’s blog on the right setup of your navigation menu:

Brian Dean's Website structure illustration

Just make sure not to do this:

Brian Dean's Wrong Website Structure

Think of your navigation menu like a customer journey. Where do you want your audience to start and what is the end goal?

Do you want them to buy something? To subscribe to your newsletter? To promote a course or certain content?

You want to make it very clear for your audience what you are offering and what kind of problems they can solve. If you do it right, and you have great content, they will stay within your site and this will of course increase your Google ranking as they can tell that your audience is happy and content with what you have to offer.

8. How to set up your content strategy?

This is a topic that I believe is challenging for most new bloggers. I remember spending hours thinking of what to write about on my blog posts and then on keyword research to find ideas. Literally, hours.

Since I have started treating my blog as a business and also have a greater understanding of my target market (it’s me, remember?) I have endless of ideas for new blog posts. And I can come up with a new blog post topic right away.

I found a really great system that just makes sense and just works.

If you remember, when we went through the section on defining your target market, I challenged you to ask yourself the following question:

If I was reading and following a blog that helps people to ______________ (replace it with your niche), what would make me stay in it and repeat visiting it?

The thing is, when you start a blog to make money, your focus should always be on solving your audience’s problems.

The way I approached it, is through creating topic cluster and pillar pages.

You see, these days, having  great content and choosing the right keywords are both still very important.

But as you can imagine, there’s so much content on Google and it grows exponentially, so Google now wants to know that you are an authority on your topic. And the best way to demonstrate this authority is to structure your content into pillar pages and topic clusters.

If you are not sure what are topic clusters and pillar pages, let me take a min to explain:

A pillar page is a website page that provides a comprehensive overview on a topic (like the page you are reading now). A topic cluster is a collection of interlinked articles and website pages centered around one umbrella topic.

Pillar page and topics clusters

So if this page, that you are reading now, is about how to start a blog – that’s the pillar page.

The topic cluster pages are other posts that I have created that expends on certain topics raised in the pillar page. For example:

  • How to blog anonymously
  • How to come up with a blog name
  • And so on…

The pillar page links to topic cluster content, and the topic cluster content link to the pillar page. The result is an interconnected content experience that delivers tremendous value to the reader and firmly establishes to Google that you are an authority on the topic.

So if my aim to help someone set up a blog. Even if he is not technical, or his full time job has nothing to do with creativity, marketing or anything to do with that world. He should be able to figure this out by having a central place to get this advice. Remember, I want to keep you reading my blog, right?

So again going back to my example: I started with the word “How to start a blog” – but what is included under this big goal? What are all the elements?

  • technical setup
  • seo
  • content strategy
  • themes
  • plugins
  • social media
  • and so on…

In each one of the categories I asked myself, what were my question when I got started?

It looks like that:

Blog Content ideas

So of the topics in the image about can be linked from the Pillar page and vice versa.

If you are not sure what would be the questions of your target audience, then ask people that are in your target audience. You need to gather as many questions that they may have to build a complete the list and schedule it on a content calendar.

After you have a good list of content ideas you want to schedule them your editorial calendar. I use a simple tools for all my content scheduling and other blog related tasks called Notion.so.

The importance of internal linking

And then of course, another important SEO factor is making sure you are placing internal links from one blog post to other relate blog topics. When you build it as a cluster, those internal inks will be very easy to do.

Your content strategy for starting a blog

The best internal links are those that connect one article to another. This creates a strong internal linking structure, deep within the site.

Create text links using a descriptive anchor text – An anchor text is the word or words that are linked to another page, and they typically appear as blue text to the reader.

So for example, if you want to learn how to use Pinterest to make money – the linked text is called an Anchor text.

How many internal links should you place in one post?

Every time you create a blog post, link to four or more old articles!

What type of content should you focus on creating first?

There are different type of content that drives traffic. The most common ones are:

  • How to guides
  • List (For example, …)
  • Stat pages
  • Case Study
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcast

Think about what format works best for the topics you want to cover.

A great way to know, right away, what type of content will work for the topic you choose is to take your chosen Keyword and look at the top 10 results. What type of content can you see?

Is it a list, or is it a how-to guide?

Look at what Google is already ranking on their first page. If is a how-to guide, then make sure to create a how-to guide that 10X better than that.

Make sure to share your content where your target audience already hangs out. Whether it is YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or just on your blog.

Just remember to always invest in getting organic traffic from Google, and that means to invest in SEO and high quality written content (as Google is mostly a textual search engine):

Google brings the most traffic compared to other channels

How long should you blog posts be?

In recent year the trend of bloggers has been to increase the length of content that they write on blog posts.

What you be your blog post length

If you want your keyword to rank high, one of the factors you should take into about is your content length. It you can create a piece of content that is longer, better quality than your competition, you are already in a better place.

The best tool I have found that lets me optimize my blog post for length, keywords and synonyms is Surfer SEO. Seriously, one of the best discoveries of recent months.

Surfer SEO provide you with all the relavnt synonmns for your focus keyword based on an analysis they make on the top results in Google.

Ut also tells you how many words you need to write, how many images to add, how many headers and so on…. it is really genius.

What should my first blog post be about?

My recommendation is to start by creating your first pillar page. Remember that they need to be better than your competition.

You should focus on creating 5 pillar posts that are going to be your main traffic drivers. They need to be better than your competition.

Tips for best content writing

Writing a great post that get shares and like

A great blog post that will get more traffic to a website should include the following::

  1. It needs to relate to your target audience
  2. Find an interesting headline
  3. Build the structure of the post first – draft our post outline
  4. It needs to be memorable
  5. Providing value to the reader
  6. People can relate to your message
  7. Engaging so they’ll want to continue reading
  8. East to follow and read through
  9. Get personal, share your story
  10. Add images, videos or infographics to convey your message better

Even it you feel it is not perfect or it can be better, you can always edit and adapt it better later.

Create a Content Marketing Calendar

Starting a blog as a business means you have to do some planning in advance to make sure you gain momentum and progress and ultimately achieve your blogging business long term goals.

Now that you have a few topics in mind, you should create a schedule for publishing those blog posts. Whether it is every day, every week or twice a month (or whatever may be your schedule) you should stick to it as Google loves fresh and new content.

Usually in my editorial calendar I collect details for each post:

  1. Publishing date
  2. Focus Keyword
  3. Title
  4. How many words should the post be based on the competition
  5. Type of blog post (How to, list, etc…)
  6. Status (draft, in review, published)

I suggest you first start creating your first pillar page and then continue to creating the cluster blog posts. Rather than just creating a random blog posts.

You can collect any more details that makes sense to you.

How to scale your content writing

It is simple, you have limited time, and you are looking at the list you’ve built and either feel overwhelmed or excited. If you are not comfortable writing it does not mean you cannot have a blog. Writing improves with time, I tell you that from personal experience.

But a great option, for people with some budget aside, and that really want to scale their blogging business is to hire a content writer. A content writer can scale you content marketing strategy and make sure you stick to your editorial calendar.

9. Search for the right keywords to start with

This is KEY!

Search Engine Optimization, or in short SEO, is how to get your website rank is Google so people can see it and read your high quality content. Google has more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithm.

There are some basic rules when it comes to searching for your first keywords.

First, if you are not familiar with SEO, then, keywords are the phrases people type into Google search. You aim with every blog post is to rank for your focus keyword.

You should know that every blog post should target ONE main keyword. But you should then sprinkle the rest of the post with similar phrases.

Let’s say your main keyword is affiliate marketing for beginners

Then you can add synonyms or phrase like: get started with affiliate marketing, affiliate program for beginners, how to start affiliate marketing, become an affiliate marketer and so on….

This is why you need to do a proper keyword research.

Let’s get started and focus on creating a list of keyword ideas.

How to search for your first keywords?

Look into your content marketing ideas list, and think of phrases on how people would look for that content? What would they type in Google?

Write down, or better, type those ideas in Excel or another document.

The idea is to search for keywords with high search volume that not many competitors are targeting so it will be easy to get on the first page of google.

How to find the best keywords for your blog posts

You do not want to waste your time creating new content that no one is searching for.

You can start by going to Google and search for what you think would be the main keyword for your blog niche.

If you then hit the space key, before or after your keyword, Google will suggest more keyword ideas, this is called Google Suggestion.

Google Suggestion with KeywordAnywhere
How to find keywords with Google Suggestion and KeywordAnywhere

Another great way is to use Google Ads. However, as you may have noticed, I use Keywords Anywhere as I get a lot of information on search volume, trend and Cost per Click (CPC) right in there of the search and in Google screen, so I get to be much more efficient.

For example, below you can see that I searched for “How to bake and onion Quiché” but it had no search volume. On the right side, Keyword Anywhere suggests more keyword ideas that I could have added to my list if I had a food blog.

Find additional keywords with KeywordsAnywhere

But like I have said before, you try to rank for your focus keyword, but Google’s algorithm is looking into the text and searched for synonyms so to know what the page is about and if the content matches. Placing additional phrases in your post, will help Google.

Great keywords search tools for FREE

There are other great tools that can help you expend your keywords list – check them out!

1. Exploding Topics

Exploding topics is a great took, that was created by Brian Dean. This tool identifies unique and interesting keywords, sometimes even before they reach their peak. So you can take advantage on those keywords before many other bloggers do.

For example, if you are creating a beauty blog, then you may want to use the term Purito in one of your posts as a focus keyword.

Exploding topics for discovering new keywords

2. Ubersuggest

This tool was created by Neil Patel and it provides you with a free option to search for keywords. It is an SEO took that specializes in generating new keyword ideas.

For example, if we search for Purito you can see:

Ubersuggest

and

Free ubersuggest

What I really like about it, is that if provides very clearly additional information like:

  1. % of organic clicks
  2. Age range of searchers
  3. Keyword ideas with divided into questions, propositions and other types

3. Answer the Public

Answer the public is a keyword tool that visualizes search questions like a mind map. It really helps bloggers find blog post ideas by collecting and categorizing phrases people use in online search.

Anser the public

How to tell which other keywords you should include in your text?

Easy! Remember you can use Keywords Anywhere to look at the keywords used for your competitor’s posts. Just go to Google, type your focus keywords and that are placed on the first page of google.

For example:

Find synonyms for your blog post

You can see a list of the keywords by clicking on the keywords link:

Find competitors keywords using Keyword Anywhere

I always complement this keyword research by using a comprehensive SEO Tool, I personally use Ahrefs.

The reason why I use a professional SEO tool is because it can provide me for information which will be time-consuming to impossible to gather alone.

Now I know, there is a cost associated with having an SEO tool. There are cheaper and great SEO tools out there. If you ask yourself if you should invest in an SEO tool, the answer is YES. As I decided to treat my blog as a business that there are some operation costs to get going and to help me outrank my competition for certain keywords.

How to analyze the keywords you’ve found so far?

The information which is important to look form when deciding if to use a keyword in a post of not is as follows:

Keyword monthly search volume

Should be bigger than 100 or more. I try to target keywords which are above 800. Remember that the number of monthly search volume is the entire traffic for that keyword when the page that is ranked on the 1st place will get 30% of that traffic. Also, different niches have different levels on search volume.

For example, “how to start a blog” more than 130K searches per month. However, “how to grow hydroponic vegetables” gets around 500. But this comparison is not apples to apples. So search within your niche what would be a good number for monthly search volume.

Keyword Difficulty

A keyword difficulty is a measure that lets you estimate how hard or easy it would be for you to rank high in Google. Here is Ahrefs scale:

Ahrefs' keyword difficulty

My recommendation is to go with a Keyword Difficulty that is lower than 30. The number you see in gray is the number of backlinks you need to generate.

Backlinks are other websites linking to your content. So when someone links to a blog post I created, Google sees it as a sign of authority. In other words, if other people think my content is valuable enough to link to, then they probably like what they read, and raises my score in Google’s algorithm to be ranked higher.

Backlinks are super important in your efforts to be ranked higher. It is one of the main two factors that Googles track.

So getting backlinks should be your main focus along with providing with the best content.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a rank that tells us how authoritative is the specific website. The score goes from 0-100 and the higher the number, the higher the authority and that means traffic

The Domain Authority of at least one of the top 10 results is lower than 30. This means you have a chance of ranking high with a new blog.

However, please note that Domain Authority is not provided by Google itself. Every SEO tool has its own calculations and measurements to calculate domain authority and numbers may vary from one tool

The number of backlinks to the page. That provides me an estimate on how many backlinks do I need to get to rank for a specific keyword.

In the top 10 results for your focus keyword has more than 100 backlinks each, it means you’ll have to work to get those backlinks to your new blog post if you want to rank within the top 10.

In there is at least one results with zero backlinks or low number of backlinks then you have a change to rank.

Remember, these are all estimates as Google has many ranking factors.

CPC Value

Cost Per Click (CPC) shows how much advertisers are willing to pay for ad clicks from a keyword.

The CPC value for your selected keyword should be above 0 and depending on the niche, the number can be on the low side on the high one. Here is a chart from SEMrush for 2020:

Top Paying AdSense Keywords and Best Adsense Niches in 2020

Here is a great quote from Ahrefs blog that says: “Just remember that you’re not only looking for “easy to rank for” keywords. You’re looking for those with the highest return on investment.”

Depending on the keyword, even within the same niche or topic, CPC value can change. What do I mean by that?

In the marketing world, there is a term called “Search Intent” which is what the user wants to see when they type a certain keyword.

Let me give you an example.

When someone types in Google “how to back a pie” he may be looking for information, in this case a re. However, “when he types “buy auto insurance” it means he is looking to buy an insurance, so he has a purchase intent. Therefore, this keyword has a higher CPC.

If you want to stand the best chance of ranking, you should create content of the same type of content as you already see ranking on the first page.

How to make your blog post optimized for SEO

There are certain recommendations when it comes to optimizing your blog post for SEO. There are many factors to consider. This is a huge topic by itself and I strongly recommend investing time to learn it.

As most traffic comes from Google, getting in depth information on SEO optimization can really pay out. SEO is the most profitable long term strategy.

The basic guides lines for keyword placements are:

  1. Add your keyword to the beginning of your title. So if your keyword is Pinterest SEO, you want your title to look like: Pinterest SEO can boost your traffic for FREE.
  2. Place your keyword in your meta description. This is the short paragraph that appears below the page name in the search results.
  3. Sprinkle your blog post with the focus keyword but do not exaggerate. You do not want it to look like you are stuffing your blog post with keyword. It should be naturally placed within relevant sentences. Remember you can add synonyms. You focus keyword should appear within the first 100 words of a blog post.

10. Optimize your blog before launch

Let’s summarize what we have done so far and make sure you went through all the steps to launch your blogging business:

  1. Select a blog niche
  2. Define your target audience
  3. Select a blog name
  4. Purchase your domain name and hosting plan
  5. Install a WordPress blog theme
  6. Install recommended WordPress plugins
  7. Create your blog navigation menu
  8. Search and analyze the best keywords to start with

Now you have some additional tasks to complete before you launch your :

  1. Write your first 5-10 posts
  2. Get a business email address (name@yourAdd Google Analytics
  3. Sign up for Google Search Console
  4. Create an email list
  5. Create an opt-in form to subscribe to your newsletter
  6. Add a privacy policy page
  7. Install an SSL Certificate
  8. Create a content marketing calendar for the next 3 months

Those 15 steps are the best and recommended ones to complete before you can hit the publish button your blog.

As the great quote says:

Strive for progress, not perfection” David Perlmutter

What’s Next?

After you’ve launched your business, written a few blog posts (or had your content writer do most of this for you) and generally got some experiance and traffic, it is time to look into the next steps of how to start a successful blog and that means to leverage social media and to start monetizing your blog.

Conclusion

Starting a blog, just like any business, takes hard work and dedication. It does get much easier with time as you start crafting your skills and blogging professionally.

However, there are some other aspects of starting a business that it’s worth to take the time and improve your soft skills.

For example, how you can improve your personal productivity to boost your efficiency, keep planning your blogging journey and having successful mindset and just enjoy the ride.

I wish you the best of success, and I am here for all your questions and comments.


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