Hello and welcome to mydigitalincome.net 12,000+ words guide on how to start a blog and successfully grow your audience.
If you are looking for actionable information on how to create and manage your blog, you are definitely in the right place!
I am happy you are here because starting your blog and making your way in the digital economy is one of the best decisions you could make, one that has the potential to drastically change your life for the better.
Thousands of ordinary people all over the world have a blog.
Some of them just for fun, others to create a side hustle and earn money on top of their normal day job, others turned it into a real online business that worked as a freedom machine, allowing them to quit their job and live a life on their terms.
No matter the final goal, it all happened for a reason: they got started.
I am sure you are going to find a lot of useful information on starting your blogging journey! Here’s what this guide covers:
Deciding To Start Your Blog
What about you?
Have you just started your first blog or site or thinking about doing so? Do you want to create a side income online but don’t know exactly how to start? Do you feel a little bit confused with all the information out there?
You are not alone! Indeed, most people felt that way when they started, even today’s most successful bloggers.
There is a lot of stuff around the creation of website and your online business. However, despite the fact that starting from zero might seem intimidating and overwhelming, I am here to tell you that today is easier than ever before.
This guide and mydigitalincome.net, together with a number of other valuable websites and services, are tangible examples of how you can cut through the overwhelm and set things right from the beginning.
When you start playing with the idea of your online business and you do a google search about the topics of your interest, you will likely land on all the super-cool-and-amazing-designed websites wondering “how could I ever be able to do that?”
This approach is just WRONG! (and I had that too).
I think that the most useful thing you can do here is to reframe your perspective. As Rome wasn’t built in one day, the same concept applies to those websites and to what you can actually do.
You see, we naturally tend to overestimate what we can do in one week but we massively underestimate what we can do in one year.
If you are at the point that you don’t have a domain name (yourwebsite.com), don’t even worry about how you are going to develop “that amazing website”.
Here are few reasons:
- Your final goal is not to replace that particular website – your goal is to launch your successful online business that serves you creating a better life, instead of competing, all you have to do is create
- You start from zero and you are one – large websites likely have teams of people and collaborators as well as revenues that allow them to invest thousands of dollars. You are just one and you can start almost for free (and that’s 100% fine)
- You can get inspiration – by doing competitor analysis you can model what works and find ideas on how you can develop you online project or you might even collaborate with them
- Over time you can actually get there – as you work on your website, creating more content, driving traffic, managing your partnerships and growing your audience, you can become an authority and enjoy the same level of success
Overall, creating your own website and developing an online project is an exciting journey, a journey that you should definitely start.
Blogging is a low cost, low-risk way to open new doors of opportunity that weren’t previously there before.
There are no reasons to be afraid, you don’t really have any risk and you will learn valuable skills that you can take to any other job even if you want to stop blogging. Skills that are increasingly sought after in today’s job market and can make all the difference.
Starting a blog still works today. It is a flexible solution that you can use to make a lot of money but more than that you can help other people while doing something that you like. It is a great opportunity to live life on your own terms.
While getting a website online is a child’s game, creating an online business that allows you to achieve financial freedom requires a strategy and a result-oriented way of working. That’s the reason why this guide exists.
If you actually get started, learn the strategies, and put in commitment and consistency, the payoff can be just immense.
I think it’s time to begin the journey…
If you are ready to start, CLICK HERE to get 60% off and create your blog on Bluehost for only $3.95/month.
This guide will be progressively updated and expanded over time, make sure to bookmark this page and come back to read whenever you need help on your blogging journey.
Start To Work With The Right Mindset
This guide is all about starting your blog as one of the best and most effective ways to create an online business that generates you passive income.
In order to achieve that freedom potential, you should start to consider the whole project more like a real business instead of just a blog, thinking more like an entrepreneur instead of being the busy writer.
The very first thing to keep in mind is that:
It’s imperative to act accordingly. If it helps you, print this image and stick it next to your computer.
The very first time I created a website, a post, an email … I spent so much time in useless things that didn’t actually led to any result. Looking back, quite frankly, they sucked.
When building your website, do not spend an entire day think about the logo or the fonts to use, just skip that and move on (it would still be useless to spend one month on creating a wonderful website that nobody can find on Google… so don’t concern yourself too much with design stuff).
Go fast, build your first draft and put things out. You always have time to come back and progressively review and improve everything. Furthermore, you actually learn things by doing them and you will get better over time.
What you need to do when you are starting out is to create a minimum viable product (MVP).
In the startup jargon, a minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.
That means that you should keep in mind your final idea as the “general direction” of where you are going, but to work on the most basic and essential version of something that could work.
Every time you start something you can’t know exactly, with 100% precision, what the final outcome will be. That is great news because it opens you up to endless possibilities.
Focus on creating the most basic thing that works (MVP), from then you will be able to do marginal improvements over time.
When talking about your blog, the minimum viable product is a basic website with 3-5 pages and your first pieces of content already published.
To finish this section on the right way to work in order to achieve results, I’d like to remember one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management: the 80/20 Rule.
Also known as the “Pareto Principle”, it originated from the observation of the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto on society and economic activity.
The 80/20 rule states that for many outcomes roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes.
Identify the most important and valuable tasks you can do each day (spoiler: often times they are the hardest and most complex, those that you procrastinate by unconsciously preferring to do everything else) and work on that.
Always keeping these things in mind gives you an unfair advantage.
As you are going to read in this guide, you will see how large part of the traditional advice on starting a blog that tells you to write about your passions and create fantastic content doesn’t really allow you to grow and scale fast (and make money, which is one of your goals since you want to improve your life and gain more freedom).
If you want to create something that makes you money, it’s useful to remember what it means to run a business: running a business is providing a solution to a specific problem at a profit.
With your blog you can provide an enormous value to other people and earn good money precisely because you are able to solve their problems.
The following paragraphs outline the hands-on strategies that you can use to create a blog that is in line with your interests and passions and generates you money.
Stick to that 20% that matters and think like a startupper, results will come at record speed.
Define Your Idea
The first point of the majority of guides on starting a blog that you can find out there is usually “pick your niche and your blog name”.
I think that this approach is the fastest way to get stuck because it immediately puts a lot of pressure on yourself and you simply don’t have any reference to make a good choice (yet). If you don’t have any idea of what’s already there, how can you make a choice?
Yes, you are going to need to identify a niche to create a successful and profitable blog that makes you a lot of money, however, the process should be a lot more enjoyable.
There are two main positions about picking the right niche for your blog:
- Follow your passions
- Select a niche with a proven demand
With the first option, you might select a niche where there is no market (although there are successful blogs on the weirdest topics), you write consistently with a lot of effort but you end up with little results and you ultimately quit.
If you choose the second path and decide to start on something you don’t really care about, at the first sign of hardship you will give up.
In other words, none of them will bring you the results you are looking for.
For example, here is a list of broad topics that are considered profitable (those are not really niches because are still too general):
- Health and Fitness
- Beauty and Fashion
- Home Decor
- DIY and Crafts
- Weight Loss
- Making Money Online
- Relationship Advice
This list doesn’t really give you a hint as to what you should write about.
Generating Your Idea
So, what should you do when you are here that you love the idea of getting started but don’t know exactly what to write about? Sound familiar…?
You might have a million ideas bouncing around your head or maybe you are struggling to come up with just one, either way:
You just start with your idea and explore what’s already there while generating more and more ideas.
At this point in the process, you just need to brainstorm, leaving the idea validation for the next step. You are unique and you know yourself, no one can do that job for you.
Start from the things that you like, the things that you already spend time on, the things you already know, your hobbies, specific skills you have, things that you want in the future but don’t already have… the list is infinite, there is no limit here.
Remember, you don’t need to be the #1 world expert on anything. Besides the fact that most skills are learnable, what you really need at the end of the day is to know something better than other people that might be interested in the same thing.
Another place to start and come up with ideas is to take a look at your house and the objects that around you, your daily life and something that you enjoy or you hate, any problem you can have, blogs you read, stuff that you buy online and offline…
Do not even care about feasibility, what you’ve got to do at this stage is a mind dump to generate ideas and explore the internetto see what you can find and generate even more ideas.
One of the coolest things about Google (and the reason why it is so successful) is the ability of the search engine to provide you results that are extremely relevant to your question.
Begin with your topic idea, make a list of 5-10 keywords (or questions for the search engines) or just start typing on Google.
Let’s say I have an interest and a personal experience in the weight loss space and I am wondering what kind content could I create and what kind of value I can offer.
I can start looking for keywords like: weight loss, how to lose weight, diets, lose weight fast… and open the first results to check out the websites.
Also, take advantage of google suggestions in the search bar…
… and at the bottom of the SERP (Search Engine Result Page)
Another thing you can do is to use answerthepublic, a truly amazing tool.
A quick note: we are not yet in the keyword research process so don’t be too concerned with the specific keywords. What you have to do here is:
- Find great websites related to your topic
- Find other websites and ideas similar to your topic
- Take note of the websites that you find more interesting for what you would like to do (see next paragraph)
Finding Similar Websites
As you start doing this research and you open one website after another, you might fall in love with some of them: you can feel they resonate with you, they are amazingly designed, they seem to have a lot of value and offers and you would like to find other websites similar to that one.
Here’s how. Go to similarweb.com and put the URL of the amazing site you’ve just found to see a number of very interesting data on the website as well as competitor’s data.
For example, if you want sites similar to lifehacker.com, put that in the search box and on the left part of the screen head over to “Competitors”
Similarweb is great, by doing that research you can easily find a lot of good websites of the same kind. ATTENTION: There is a high chance of getting lost in this process… 🙂
Don’t spend too much time on that, you can’t surf the entire internet anyway. You are doing this in order to get clearer about what you could do.
Another thing you can do is to use the SEO tool ahrefs (click here to start a 7-day trial for $7) in order to look for similar websites with a keyword research approach.
You can use the site explorer tool to find similar sites that you were completely unaware of and that are ranking for the same keywords of websites you are interested in (see the paragraph on keyword research).
In order to make this whole thing extremely helpful for all the other steps you have to do in order to launch you online business, you need to be organized in this process.
First, get a piece of paper and as you do your research organize ideas like a mind map, breaking them down in main topics, sub-topics, connections and side notes. You can do multiple drafts.
As you open the websites related to your research, take a look at:
- How they are structured (navigation, menus, look and feel …)
- What are the main categories
- What is the value proposition (what value they offer)
- What products they are selling/recommending
- What kind of name these websites have
- Who is writing and how is the tone of voice
Take notes. Although you don’t need to write everything down, just notice what is successful and what are the value propositions. Clearly identify what the website is about.
Also, keep track of the most significant URLs (only those that are really in line with what you would like to create). You just need a spreadsheet with two columns where you are going to write
- Website URL
This will come in handy once you start the actual keyword research phase.
Do not restrict yourself. It takes some time but it is extremely fun and it is also a journey of discovery.
Just enjoy the process and come up with some good ideas on what your online business could be about.
Idea-Market Match: Choosing A Specific Blog Niche
In this chapter, you are going to learn and understand everything about choosing a profitable blog niche in which you have the potential to generate a lot of money.
While there are blogs about nearly every subject imaginable, it doesn’t mean they’re all good ones and it doesn’t mean that they are profitable (often times the opposite is true).
You can create an online business around your passion with the purpose of doing something you enjoy. However, if you write on a different subject every day based on how you feel in that moment, chances are you are going to have very little following and the dream of making money will never come true.
In order to earn money blogging you need to meet the demand of people, the key to turn your blog into a business is to create a unique value proposition that serves a specific audience.
Why You Need A Niche
A blog niche is the one topic area that you’ll be focusing your content around. This is vitally important for a number of reasons.
Identifying a niche means that you write for a target audience that has specific problems, needs and desires providing a specific solution to those three.
Having a niche is necessary. By consistently writing about one topic, you become an expert in it.
It helps you grow faster and rank higher on Google because if you have a number of posts that analyze the same problem from different angles and discuss the solutions, people assume that you are an expert on the topic.
Google will also start to view you as an expert and your posts rank higher on the result page because Google knows that posts written by experts enhance the user experience since they provide clear and detail answers to the user search intent.
Writing consistently around one single topic proves to people (and to search engines) that “you know what you are talking about”.
Become An Authority
Establishing yourself as an authority in your niche helps you earn money faster because you can offer specific products and services to your audience since they are obviously interested in it!
If you want to lose weight, who do you tend to trust?
- A Blog that regularly publishes posts on Dieting and has an entire section on Exercise
- A Blog that has 7 posts on Travel, 10 posts on Finance and 12 posts on Fitness?
I think you would agree that the first one is better. You naturally perceive a higher ability to solve your problem/desire from the first blog, that is specific on losing weight. The same applies if you are the owner: where do you think you can you make more sales?
Don’t worry, you can still get creative with some of your posts to fully express your personality and they are actually a great way to build a strong connect with your audience. The point is that a blog that only revolves around your personality won’t have a huge market.
The same is true if the niche is just too broad. Since you need a clear understanding of who your target audience is, you need to get very specific.
Take the weight loss example. The “weight loss sector” is massive, people try to lose weight for thousands of different reasons and they have thousands of different backgrounds. What about a website that talks about weight loss for busy moms? You get the point.
The more niched down you are, the more you will be able to create a stronger and deeper connection with your readers creating a truly loyal audience.
Ok, now that you have a general idea on what you could create as your online business and you know the importance of having a niche, let’s move on to see how you can define and select a profitable blog niche.
How To Choose A Profitable Blog Niche
Traditional advice on selecting a blog niche suggests to pick a niche that you are most interested in, “the one that you are passionate about”, make sure that there is some audience interest in it and then start to generate amazing content and maintain a consistent writing schedule.
The idea is that if you are passionate about something, you will follow your passion and enjoy your blogging journey.
Although this makes sense, at least from the writer’s perspective, when it comes to starting a blog in order to make money, this approach is missing the most important part: revenue potential.
If you start with a niche like that, despite you passion, it will be hard to be consistent over time if you don’t make any money, because you need some kind of recognition for your work.
That’s the reason why you should start with monetization in mind from day 1.
So, a profitable niche in which you are going to develop your online business project over time should:
- Be something closely related to what you’re passionate about and have some experience in
- Focus on a problem that’s worldwide and has people ready to pay money for solutions
The second point will make all the difference. When you start your blog to make money you must create content around one topic that is so valuable for your target audience that are willing to pay money to solve their problems.
People spend money on solutions to problems that they really, really want to solve.
The perfect niche is the intersection between
- You – Passion, Knowledge, Experience
- The Market – People willing to spend money to solve their problem
When you are doing your research, look at other blogs in the niche you are looking for, see if they are successful and try to understand how they monetize (if there is an “income reports” section you can get even more information).
Ideally you should find a niche that you are passionate about and that is super profitable. That means that you will have a strong base of readers who are going to love your blog and spend money on it.
What if there are lots of blogs about the topic you are looking for? That’s even better! You know for sure that there is high demand and that should make it easier for you to start monetizing that niche.
Of course, you should not copy other people’s content but don’t concern yourself with modeling what works. Everyone is different, you will always add your personal touch that will resonate extremely well with some people.
Know who you are writing for. That’s the number one reason to understand your niche.
Successful bloggers found their niche, the one that matched their passions, their skills and market demand. Ideally you should understand your audience’s challenges so deeply that you can offer them exactly what they need.
That’s where your passions, knowledge and experience come into play: if you’ve already been in some situations, you can relate well to your audience because you know what if feels like.
This kind of specialization is the factor that allowed many bloggers to achieve incredible results, becoming the best in what they are doing within months (not years).
Don’t be afraid of yourself or afraid to do “something unusual”, you want better results than most people.
Come out! Bring out your passions, place them on the market and make them a magnet for all the people who resonate with you.
The Most Important Thing
When you are starting out, it might be hard to make a choice that is very specific on the niche you are going to write about.
That’s normal and I am here to tell you there’s a little chance you are going to find the perfect niche the very first time while you are still laying the foundations of your online business.
Starting a blog is a journey and you find your style only through practice. While the niche is important for monetization, first and foremost you have to create something.
Remember that when you start from scratch you have the freedom to change direction without any rebranding or major disruption. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
The best and most important thing you can do is to GET STARTED, create your website and start generating content.
Go back to the idea generation process. You already gathered lots of ideas and references on what you would like to develop, you’ve seen the websites, you analyzed what works and you have a mind map and a list of similar projects.
Your ideas are already much clearer than the majority of people starting a blog from zero.
You already know what to write about. Practice is the only way you can figure things out and find your style.
Spending time wondering “what if” won’t get you any result and it’s the biggest mistake you could make, far bigger that writing something that you don’t think is perfect.
What is perfect anyway? In any case, excellence is acquired through practice, so take action and learn along the way. You can change the direction of your project, so don’t be afraid.
Get Your Website Online
The actual process of creating a website can be done in 5 minutes, seriously. In this paragraph you are going to read exactly what to do in order to have your website up and running.
In order to create your website, you need three things:
- A domain name
- A hosting plan
Get excited because you’re about to become a proud website owner! 😎
The domain name is a unique name that identifies your website, like yourwebsite.com or mysupercoolblog.net.
This simple step, deciding your website name, can be one of the hardest parts for many people starting a blog because it’s a creative decision that will last.
You can choose whatever name you want. Try to come up with a unique and memorable name because it’s more likely to stick with visitors and encourage them to return.
Don’t be obsessed about putting a particular keyword in your domain name, in the long-run the SEO results of your website are determined by other factors like traffic, engagement and backlinks.
Consider your future goals too. It’s better to keep the name fairly broad in order to have the freedom to expand and change your target audience without doing major changes or rebranding.
A great idea could be choosing your own name. It gives you more flexibility and you can test and create content on different topics and refine your niche over time as you develop your blog. This is a great choice also if you want to build a personal brand or build upon your professional experience.
You can also use a domain name generator to get some inspiration and combine different words. Keep the name as short as possible and make it memorable.
While you are working in your domain name, you might want to check if it’s available for registration.
To do that, use a tool like instantdomainsearch.com. Look to register a .com or .net domain. Never buy a domain name that’s on sale by some domain squatter.
Work a little bit on that but don’t get crazy. Once you’ve found an available domain name that’s great for your website, you can proceed with the hosting.
Hosting and WordPress
In order to get your website online, you need a hosting company that physically makes your website available to the world, storing your website on their servers.
Hosting is super important for website performance, that’s why you should choose the best web hosting providers that will keep your website running without interruption.
Right now, the best option to start a WordPress blog is to get a hosting plan with Bluehost, one of the most reliable and best performing companies in the hosting industry (and the one that most bloggers use).
Hosting plans generally start at as low as $5/month. You can choose whatever company you want for web hosting, but it’s important to make sure that the company offers SSD storage on their servers, provides a SSL certificate, has 24/7 support and supports an easy installation of WordPress.
Another great company for hosting that I endorse is SiteGround. I’ve been using SiteGround for years on different projects and besides the excellent hosting service, the arguably have the best customer service out there.
At this point in time, I recommend Bluehost because it meets and goes beyond the minimum requirements, supports 1-click WordPress installation and has a very low price to start since it costs only $3.95/month if you use the link on this page.
It’s very easy to set up your website on Bluehost. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how you can do that at record speed.
First, head over to Bluehost.com and click the “Get Started” button to access the discount.
Now you have to choose the plan that better suits your needs. Notice that there are different durations and different services included in every plan. The choice will look like this:
If you are starting from scratch, the basic plan offers everything that you need and includes the domain registration for free for the first year.
You may choose the “choice plus” plan if you are interested in domain privacy (you can also add only this service later for roughly $1/month) or the other services included.
Any of these plans will do well as you’re starting your blog, make your choice and move on to your website details.
Now it’s time to register your domain name. We’ve already covered name selection, type the name that you want to give to your website in the “new domain” section ad continue to create your Bluehost account.
Fill in your account details
And then proceed to the checkout. Here you can decide to lock the price for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years by paying in advance. This is extremely beneficial and it’s an option that many others don’t offer. Typically, when you pay on a monthly basis with other companies you get charged a bit more.
No matter the plan you chose, with Bluehost the price ends up being a great deal to create your website and start your online business.
After you submit your billing informationand purchase the plan, congratulate yourself because you’ve just made one of the biggest moves towards creating your blog!
Now everything is set up for the final step: installing WordPress and creating your website.
If you haven’t already, CLICK HERE to register your domain and hosting plan with Bluehost at the incredibly low price of $3.95/month.
The majority of blogs out there and almost 40% of every internet website run on WordPress.
WordPress is an open-source content management system, a software that makes it easy to manage everything in your website without needing to know how to code.
WordPress makes building a website accessible to anyone and with countless plugins and applications, it provides the flexibility to create any kind of website, not only blogs but also e-commerce, communities and membership websites.
Installing WordPress on a Bluehost hosting plan is very easy since they created a process that allows for one-click installation of WordPress. After you set your password on Bluehost and you click log in, WordPress start installing right away.
Just wait few minutes and it will show a list of themes that you can select to start your blog. I recommend using OceanWP, it’s the one that I use for this blog and I can guarantee you that is extremely rich of functionalities and absolutely the one that works best with Elementor site builder (see the next session of this guide on designing your website).
Once you pick the theme and click “Start Building” you will finally land on your WordPress dashboard. This is where you can add any content or make any changes to your website.
Great! Pat yourself on the back because your website is now live and online! 🚀
You’vejust started your journey and you are officially on the side of website owners! (which brings me back to the emotion of my first site!).
I am not going to explain everything about WordPress here since this is not a full guide on the WordPress dashboard. Start exploring and take some time to familiarize with the admin area. It is very intuitive and over time you will be a WordPress ninja.
On the left side of your dashboard, you see a number of sections with options related to content and website management.
A fundamental part of WordPress is the possibility to install additional plugins. They are pieces of code developed by third parties that extend and expand the functionalities of your website, adding new features the same way you install apps or software on your pc.
Although it’s easy to get lost with plugins, there are few of them that cover necessary functions on your website and that you should have in order to manage your blog in the best way possible.
Here is a list of plugins that I strongly encourage you to add to your WordPress:
- Loginizer – a security plugin that helps you fight against brute force attack by blocking login for the IP after it reaches maximum retries allowed.
- Elementor – the most complete and flexible website builder that allows you to create a beautifully designed website
- Insert Headers and Footers – this simple plugin allows you to insert pieces of codes at the top or at the bottom of every page (necessary to install Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel or other pixels)
- Rank Math SEO – a super useful SEO plugin that makes it easy to optimize your website and your posts for SEO and also provides useful suggestions to create well organized blog posts that will have a higher chance to rank
- Updraft Plus – with this one you can set up an automatic backup of your website to your google drive so that you always have an updated copy of your website if anything goes wrong.
Must Have Tools
Once you created your blog, one of the very first things to do is to get Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Those are tools that you must have to track your website performance and analyze the results of what you are doing.
With Google Analytics you can monitor how many visitors you get, what they do, what page they visit, how much time spend on each page and lots of other interesting numbers. Click here to sign up free to Google Analytics.
Google Search Console allows you to understand and track how your website performs on search engine, how many times your website appears and how many clicks it gets. Click here to sign up free to Google Search Console.
Design and Create Your Blog
Now that you’ve just finished the crucial step of setting up your website on Bluehost, it’s time to design your website and have fun doing that!
The first time I created a website, I didn’t have a clue about how to design pages and what information I could put on them. That’s how I felt:
In my experience, one of the hardest things when you begin is that you have zero content, no website design experience and you sit here watching other beautifully designed and content-rich websites wondering “how will I ever be able to do it?”.
Do you remember the first points of this guide? … Perfection kills results and what you have to create is a minimum viable product. This is one of the sections where is super important to keep that in mind.
While you are designing your website, if you want you can put the “maintenance mode” or “coming soon” mode using a plugin like Under Construction. This isn’t necessary, but is better to activate that if you don’t want people to visit your site while you are designing it for the first time.
The following is practical advice on how to create the first version of your website without getting stuck so that you can launch your blog, a huge milestone in the process of creating a successful online business.
Elementor Website Builder
First things first: if this is your first website, chances are you are not an experienced UX designer. That’s totally fine, we all start from zero, just recognize that and move on without paying too much attention on the little things.
You need to create a minimum viable website in order to launch your blog in the shortest time possible.
Luckily these days you can create an amazing good-looking website even if you have no coding or UX experience thanks to pre-defined templates and drag-and-drop website builders.
And this is where Elementor comes in.
The most important thing here is to not reinvent the wheel. The way you are going to visually build your website is by using a drag and drop site builder called Elementor.
Elementor is arguably the best website WordPress builder, an amazing design platform that offers advanced design solutions that make creating a website extremely easy and enjoyable.
You will never see a single line of code. You directly design the front end of your website while seeing what the final results will look like. In addition, you don’t have to become crazy to adapt your website for tablets and smartphone because you can design using the responsive mode, creating different layouts for different devices in a matter of seconds.
Another great thing about this website builder is that the core of Elementor is FREE and the number of functionalities is really impressive!
You can easily start in 5 minutes after installing WordPress and create a beautiful website, taking advantage of the templates and large number of elements available.
I strongly encourage you to get Elementor PRO because its cost is ridiculous ($49 per year for 1 site, that’s $0.13/day for an amazing site) and unlocks a number of tools and features that sooner or later you are going to need anyway.
The difference here is that it saves you a ton of money compared to creating everything by yourself (you need to code or become crazy with tens of plugins) or using other paid tools.
CLICK HERE to get Elementor Pro or to learn more about Elementor
See by yourself how easy it is to create a well-designed web page with Elementor:
You can find a lot of tutorials on the official Elementor YouTube Channel and just by doing a Google search. I recommend you to check out Ferdy Korpershoek, a guy that really does an amazing job teaching people how to build a website with Elementor.
In Elementor, especially if you opted for Elementor PRO, you can access pre-designed page templates that saves you a lot of time and guarantee results.
Regardless of your choice, when thinking about structuring your website you should start to elaborate your idea creating wireframes.
Wireframing is a crucial part of the UX design process. A wireframe is the concept of the webpage and has the goal to provide a clear overview of the page structure, layout, information architecture, user flow, functionality, and intended behaviors.
This process helps you to know exactly what you are going to put in every page and what the user experience would be.
You can easily start doing that on paper, taking inspiration both from other websites you’ve already identified in the idea generation phase and from wireframe templates that you can find online. Also take a look at this guide to learn more about wireframes.
In order to generate the draft of the first version of your website, it’s good to have an idea of the few basic pages you should have right from the beginning.
Main Pages You Must Have
Regardless of the design, every website needs to show some basic information to the people that come to visit it, like who you are, what the website is about and how to contact you.
Although the pages you should have are quite standard, you can get really creative with the content you write to introduce yourself and your project.
In the case you are starting from scratch, I suggest you to create the pages and write just an introduction without overthinking it too much.
You should get inspiration from other successful sites but, as we said before, if you have zero content and the blog is brand new, you simply can’t have a start here page, or an about page, full of experiences, links, achievements and testimonials. A page like that is built over time and if you don’t get started now you will never arrive there.
For now, just tell people who you are, what they can find on your site and what the project is about.
Here are some tips on what pages you should have and what to write on them:
Put yourself if the shoes of the people that land on the main page of your website for the first time: you need to know in less than 5 seconds what the website is about and “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM).
The home page must show a clear value proposition and then guide the visitor to the most relevant content. Ideally it should have a call to action, what you want your visitor to do.
It should also include relevant content like the most popular blog posts (if you’re just starting, then include the most recent posts) as well as the navigation menu.
Make you home page extremely relevant for the people in your niche.
Start Here Page
Once you got the reader’s attention in the home with a clear value proposition that is relevant for his situation, the start here page is a great way to draw the attention of your first-time readers to you best and most valuable content.
Ask yourself: what do I want first-time readers to learn about when they discover my website
It’s like an expert guide that directs the reader to the best parts of your blog bringing them the most relevant value, that is, showing them how they can solve their problem and fulfill their desire (= you are providing a valuable solution).
The about page helps you introduce yourself, tell people who you are and the reasons you started the blog as well as your why.
When a reader visits your about page, he wants to know the story and journey behind the brand and why they should listen to you.
Do not do a monologue talking only about your blog, you need to relate with your reader creating an emotional connection and adding meaning to what you are doing here.
The contact page should be a really simple one, its purpose is to allow people to get in contact with you. Ideally, a contact page should include a contact form to fill out and some information about the company.
Don’t make it hard for visitors to find your contact form, put the link in the menu or in the footer.
These are the very first pages that you need to launch your blog. In the beginning put the posts (blogroll) in the home page. As you start generating content you can create a specific page called “blog” where people can find all your articles and put only the most popular/relevant in the home pages.
Start Creating Content
So far, you’ve established a domain name, bought a hosting plan, installed WordPress and created the basic framework of your website with the version 1.0 of a cool and modern design. Great!
You are ready to go! Your blogging journey begins … now comes the moment of truth.
What do I write?
Content is anything valuable that you create and share with your audience (niche) that revolves around one topic that your readers can relate to and trust you.
You decided to run a blog because you have an interest in the topic of your project and creating high quality content is what brings you readers and eventually makes you money.
If you don’t already have a well-defined niche and target audience that’s ok, just read the next paragraphs and get started anyway.
Anyhow, you are going to learn and improve as you write more and more posts and you start to get to know your real audience. It’s an ongoing process of learning and discovery.
Prefer quality over quantity and start by creating some great pillar content for your blog. Those posts are meant to get you started in a great way and lay the foundation of your blog success.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
All the initial brainstorming and research on similar websites that you did (you did that, right?) provides you a ton of inspiration for the project you want to develop.
By now, you already have a general idea of what you are going to write about. Here the hours of research and notes really come in handy.
Don’t be scared of the “writers block”, if you free yourself from this idea, the creation of quality content won’t be a problem: there are ideas everywhere, all you have to do is capture them.
Use Google, open the first websites that appear when you search something and make a bullet list of the topics discussed, see also the suggested and related searches.
Go where the people are. Take a look at Quora or Reddit: in Google, type “your keyword + reddit”, for example “weight loss reddit”. Open the discussions, see what people are asking, take note!
Visit the similar sites, what do they write in their posts? What people write in the comments?
Another option is using a blog idea generator like the HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator or Portent. Those are great tools also to generate catchy headlines that invite the reader to discover what’s inside.
The goal here is to create a list of seed keywords that that pretty much cover all the major problems and interests of your niche from multiple angles.
Now, it’s time to define what you should actually write about. If you want people to read what you have to say, you have to create your content with a purpose.
You Must Do Keyword Research
Among the many things a blogger has to do in order to succeed, keyword research is on the top of the list. Here’s why.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines. They’re also known as search queries or “SEO keywords.”
Performing keyword research is the only way to properly figure out what people are typing into search engines!
This can’t be overlooked because you definitely don’t want to put time and effort in creating contents nobody will ever read.
According to a study by ahrefs, 90% of the pages get no organic traffic from Google. It’s like they didn’t exist.
The amount of content that doesn’t get traffic is just insane and you really want to be out of this situation.
There is a number of tools to perform keyword research out there. Start with the list of seed keywords you did before and look for other keywords that target specific needs.
You want to check the monthly search volume, that is how many people are searching for this term each month and if possible, the keyword difficulty, that indicates how hard it is to rank for a specific keyword. Of course, the more people are interested in a specific search, the harder the keyword will be.
Start searching for your keywords and see the results. Ideally your top keywords should have a monthly search volume of 2,000 – 10,000, in this case, the niche might be potentially a profitable one.
On the other hand, if you are having hundreds of thousands of monthly searches, that means that the niche is probably too broad and you need to be more specific and basically you can’t compete with large editorial teams that pump out content on everything under the sun.
Keyword research is just so important and I strongly encourage you to get a keyword research tool as soon as possible. The one that I use and recommend is ahrefs, it’s just amazing how much information and ideas you can get from their platform.
If you are serious about what you are doing, sooner or later you must equip yourself with a keyword tool. For this kind of tools prices generally start from $100/month, you can see the details of the plans here.
Although for starters might seem a bit pricey, just think about how much time you save and how effective you can be thanks to such service. You are about to launch a business; this is an investment and it’s nothing compared to what’s required to start a traditional business.
In the beginning, what you can do to sign up for the $7 one-week ahrefs trial to access the full platform and find the first ideas for your posts. This is a great way to get started, the one that I went through and the one that helped me kickstart my online projects.
You can also do the research and download data in order to have something to work on with a cold mind just to get started.
In the process of doing keyword research, what you are really interested in is understanding the user search intent.
That’s when you are actually relevant to your readers and when you can provide valuable content and solutions. Ask yourself:
- What the user is actually trying to achieve when typing the keyword?
- What he’s looking for?
- What he’s interested in?
- What is his problem?
- What is the solution?
Using ahrefs solves you a ton of problems and is great to brainstorm smart blog post ideas using keyword research.
Here’s how it looks like using an example on weight loss.
You start by going to the Keyword Explorer in order to type the seed keyword you are interested in. Ahrefs allows you to perform a research on different search engines, like Google, YouTube or Amazon.
After you hit search, ahrefs provides you a bunch of information about the keyword “weight loss”. We see immediately that “weight loss” gets a huge number of monthly searches in the United States and all over the world and it’s super hard to rank for.
If you check the first result, it’s from healthline.com, a very large website that throw out content on virtually any health-related topic.
Besides being ultra-competitive, it doesn’t really answer any specific user intent. It might be searched by overweight people, people with medical disease, people that what they actually want is to exercise and lose a couple of pounds … you name it.
On the search suggestions tab, you can look at several searches related to the weight loss topic.
You can notice that niches start to appear. Weight loss pills is a single big topic niched down into the more general “weight loss” topic. The same goes for weight loss surgery or weight loss programs. Weight loss tips is another one, where people are likely looking for information and strategies that they are currently unaware in order to satisfy their intent, that is losing weight.
You could create a blog that provides tips on losing weight in order to provide an answer. But we are still too broad, in order to build trust with your audience and offer true value you need to satisfy a specific demand. Let’s expand a little bit on that.
If you look for the search suggestions for “weight loss tips” you can see how you can be really specific on niches of people with specific needs and desires.
If you are a man that wants to lose weight for whatever reason, who do you tend to relate to and trust: healthline.com or the blogger that treats exclusively man weight loss and went through the actual process of losing weight, maybe while working full time and without any crazy diet? You get the point.
The same if you look-up “how to lose weight” and go to the search suggestions:
Enough on losing weight! (… stop reading and go to exercise!!)
By now I think it’s clear how important keyword research is and how it can help you identify your niche and the content you should write about. Explore a little bit and keep track of the keywords.
Ahrefs and the keyword research approach are also great during the brainstorming phase because you can use the site explorer tool to find similar sites that you were completely unaware of and that are ranking for the same keywords of the websites you are interested in.
You might have a general idea of what you could write, but in order to avoid wasting your time and effort on things nobody cares about, using keyword research you can go to write on what people are looking for without guessing and be super-specific about your niche.
This is completely another way to approach blogging that puts you ahead of other bloggers that don’t really use these techniques.
Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of being specific on a particular need expressed from a specific audience. If you have to remember something from this section, remember this:
Write Your First 5 Pillar Articles
Now that you know how to find exactly what people are looking for in you niche, it’s time to lay the foundations of your blogging business by writing your first pillar articles that provide a solution to the readers search intent.
Pillar articles are usually long form (2,000+ words) tutorial/how to style of posts that have the goal to teach something to your audience. They should be very practical and provide the most relevant information for the people in your niche that are in target with your blog.
These posts describe problems and solutions that are specific to the niche, therefore it’s usually evergreen content that stays relevant through time and offers real value and insight.
They are the initial framework to build other secondary posts around and through interlinking between other posts makes people and search engines to see you as an authority on a specific topic.
A pillar content provides all the information a user is looking for in one place, this leads to increased reading time, more links to this page and long-term benefits in terms of ranking.
Since a pillar article goes above and beyond standard blog posts, it’s ok to put some extra effort to write it.
Examples of pillar articles are:
- The “How-To” Article
- The “Ultimate Guide”
- The Definition Article
- A Resource Page
- A List Article
- A Technical Guide
When you are writing a blog post you are always talking to people, not some mysterious entity.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that the post must always provide value to your readers. Don’t rush to write a large number of low-quality posts because it will make the difference on the long-run.
A reader can tell the quality of the post and the value he or she can get out of it.
Take this guide that you are reading as an example: it’s a 12,000+ words guide, I don’t even know exactly how many days it took me to write it, it provides practical and actionable advice that even people who know nothing about blogging could get started.
I’ve seen guides on starting a blog that basically say “buy a hosting plan, get WordPress, get a free theme, create your first post and you are ready to go!”. I guess you can tell by yourself which one is more valuable to people that want to start a blog.
Write detailed posts that have a purpose, that solve problems for your readers and that makes you an expert in the niche because you clearly show that you care.
Tackle one problem at a time and describe everything in details. When your reader finishes to read, he should feel like he learned something and his life is a little bit better because he should now be able to take what you’ve said and put it into action.
Think about a final call to action for the post, that should be defined before writing, and write your post accordingly. Different calls to action serve different goals, examples are brand awareness, boosting traffic, lead generation and making affiliate commissions.
Keep in mind your unique selling proposition. Even if you are not yet selling something for money, the reader gives you his precious time and attention because you are giving information. Many people cover the same subject, acknowledge that and ask yourself:
- What do readers get when they are reading my blog?
- Why should other people listen to what I’m saying?
- What do I offer that others don’t have?
- How can I add real value to this topic?
A huge factor that makes your blog special, besides rich content, is your personality!
Your unique interpretation of the topic can make all the difference because it builds a relationship with the readers that only you can have.
Describe a concept in your own words, using your own unique story and voice. This helps to build credibility and trust.
Site Map and Editorial Calendar
Start working on your pillar posts and begin to publish as soon as possible. Don’t seek perfection, start to publish and come back later to expand and improve.
Ranking is not immediate, the majority of blog post take months to rank on Google and perform well over time and following consistent updates.
In order to know what you are going to write about, building up on the research you did on similar sites and keyword research, you can do two useful things:
- Plan the map of your site
- Create and editorial calendar
Creating a site map helps you to put things in the right order and gives you a clear view on how you are going to develop your site and what content you are going to produce.
Start with a quick draft of all the pages you want in your website. Think about the main categories and the topic breakdowns.
Organize the overall page structure so that it makes sense to explain the topic and is easy to navigate. This helps to be clear on the purpose of your website and provides a basic roadmap for content creation.
In order to avoid struggling when thinking about your next piece of content, you should definitely create a simple editorial calendar. Plan in advance what you are going to write, you just need a simple document that allows you to know what to wright next.
Don’t worry, you might think you’ll end up without ideas… the truth is that after you do some research you get so many ideas and inspirations that the actual challenge will be to write about everything!
Now that you planned a little bit your content and have an idea both on the first pillar articles and the overall structure of the website, you can create your first blog post.
How To Write A Blog Post
Creating a new blog post in WordPress couldn’t be easier: WordPress dashboard go to Posts > Add New or you just click on the “+” sign on the top of the WordPress dashboard.
Here you can start writing your post, adding images, creating headings and subheadings, links and everything you need to create a great blog post. You can always come back and change things so don’t worry about perfection.
If it’s the first time you are using WordPress, you might feel like you don’t have control over everything. Get familiar, play around, it won’t hurt you.
WordPress is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Since it’s free and roughly one third of all websites are developed using WordPress, if you have questions you won’t have any trouble looking for the solution, just google it!
Here are some tips on how to write a great blog post.
In order to write a post that is easy to read, that provides value to the reader and that is SEO oriented, you should follow a structure.
Every post should have one focus keyword, the keyword you are targeting that matches with a specific user intent and should be included in:
- The title of your post
- The post permanent URL
- The first or second paragraph
- Inside your headings and subheadings
- Throughout the text (but don’t exaggerate)
- In the meta description of your post
The focus keyword should help you generate other related long tail keywords that possibly include the main keyword.
Start creating a post outline with intro, body and conclusion and break down text into paragraphs with headings and subheadings. A suggestion? Start by looking at blog post templates in order to identify what’s the best structure that suits your purpose.
Make sure to always include images and other visual elements in your posts. It’s proven that posts with images get far more views, besides being easier to read, they are also more shareable on socials than posts without images.
How do you find photos and image designs?
In the recent years appeared a number of extremely high-quality websites that offer free stock images and illustrations that you can use in your blog posts completely free. Not only images, you can also find videos, vectors and icons. My favorites are:
Those are three amazing websites where you can find a wealth of curated and high-quality photos for free, they are all user-uploaded and in many cases you don’t even need to attribute the photographer (although is recommended).
If you installed the SEO plugin Rank Math (rankmath.com) it assists you in optimizing your post to receive maximum traffic by giving you strategic recommendations based on your content.
Following recommendations is a great way to create a post that will be completely optimized from a content perspective, thus increasing the likelihood that will be liked by readers and search engines and rank higher on the result page.
Using a structure is a must, but what actually gets the interest of people and delivers value is the content itself. Always, always, always, write something that actually satisfies the reader’s search intent.
Writing becomes easier through practicing. That’s the only way you can improve and become a better blogger and communicator.
Don’t put you down, start creating and putting things out there, don’t wait to “write the perfect blog post” because you cannot know if it’s perfect.
The only way to see if something works, is to publish it and let readers decide.
Traffic and Promotion
Once you started writing your pillar content and began publishing blog posts, the next step is to promote and drive traffic to your blog.
Increasing traffic to your blog is an essential part that will determine the success or “failure” of your blog (…it’s never a failure because in the process you are learning a ton of skills that will serve you no matter what in other situations is life and you can capitalize on the experience or simply analyze what you are doing wrong and improve).
There are five main categories of traffic that your website can receive:
- Organic Traffic – this is the traffic that you get from search engines when your website appears in the most relevant results for the user search query. That’s usually the major source of traffic that websites can have, that’s the reason why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can make all the difference
- Direct Traffic – this traffic is from people that type directly the URL of your website in the URL bar, for this to happen they need to know about your site
- Referral Traffic – is the traffic that comes from other websites linking to your website (backlinks). Other people, known or unknown, can link to your content when they found it valuable, this is one of the major factors that impacts your domain authority
- Social Traffic – as the name suggests, these are the visits that you get from people that come from social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms. This is one of the best ways to generate traffic when you are starting out and to grow your website over time
- Paid Traffic – this is all the traffic that you get when you create paid advertising campaigns like Google Ads, or Facebook Ads. In this case you target specific audiences and you pay on a cost per click basis
Promotion is important. Writing great quality blog posts and sit quietly expecting people to find them is probably a bad idea. You might actually have the best piece of content in your niche, but if you don’t reach readers it won’t go anywhere.
Long story short: you have to actively promote your website.
Don’t do like many new bloggers, don’t make the mistake of giving up shortly after you started.
Start with a realistic expectation: it takes some time.
When you start out, you need a while for SEO to kick in, your content needs to be recognized as relevant and you should start to be seen as an authority in you niche.
Social media is the best place to start because it’s free and it’s where people spend a lot of their time. In the beginning, social media plays a vital role in driving traffic to your site, if you do things well, you can get a ton of traffic.
You can’t be everywhere, on every social platform (unless you want to get crazy). Furthermore, not every platform will give you great results.
One of the best ways to drive consistent traffic to your website, both when you are beginning and when you are growing, is using Pinterest.
The main reason is that Pinterest is a search engine. Unlike posts on Facebook and Instagram, that once they get out from the feeds will never be seen again, on Pinterest people can find all your posts through research, it’s more a long-term traffic strategy.
My suggestion is to start with one platform and master it. What platform? You should choose the one where people in your niche spend most time on and that appeals to the type of content you are going to create.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to promote your blog and grow your audience. It is also called guest posting and it’s the act of writing and publishing content on another blog.
This is one of the most effective way to increase the authority in your niche, increase credibility and awareness, meet other bloggers and create relationships in your niche and get backlinks.
Guest blogging offers mutual benefits for both bloggers and it’s a win-win situation.
Commenting on other blogs or forums helps you a lot to get noticed and to generate traffic back to your website Although this strategy isn’t really scalable, it’s a great way to provide actual value to people in your niche.
Another great strategy to grow your audience is email marketing. This is one of the best ways to create your personal audience and keep readers engaged. Creating a mail list is one of the first things you should do after you launched your blog and getting a great email marketing software will make all the difference.
To recap this section, not all the traffic sources are equal and there are many ways to promote your blog to increase traffic.
The key is to stay consistent and keep publishing. Define your strategy, run it for a while (few months at least) and always come back to evaluate your results.
Blog Monetization Strategy
Making money from blogging is 100% possible and there are literally thousands of ordinary people out there that not only created a side income but literally changed their life (and other people’s lives) with their blogs.
I encourage you to start, but I also encourage you to have realistic expectations: chances are that you won’t get rich overnight.
It takes actual work and time, but after you are on the right track you can start to generate passive income.
Even though you start a blog to make money, when you begin your number one priority should be content and promotion, otherwise your blog is not going to be successful.
First you have to connect with people, offer them valuable content and make a name for yourself, building a brand is super important.
To earn money with your blog you need traffic. Unless you already have a big audience, you need to create your audience first and then you can monetize. To have traffic you need to say something useful that helps people and that they can relate to.
Once you start having a lot of pageviews (in the order of thousands) there are different monetization methods that you can use as a blogger to make money from your website:
- Selling your services – freelancing is the fastest way to make money with your blog although it’s not passive. Whatever skill you have (writing, photography, design, social media manager … virtually any skill can be monetized), you can sell it as a service and use your blog as a platform to find customers. Let people know what you’re good at and advertise it on your blog so they can hire you with a click of a button.
- Affiliate programs – affiliate marketing is one of the top strategies that bloggers use to make money online. When you provide a link to a product (that you are an affiliate for) if someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, the company or the person that offers that service recognizes you a commission at no extra cost to the person who clicked on the link. A lot of the biggest brands have affiliate programs that you can join and start to make money with your blog in a way that is 100% passive.
- Sponsored posts – when a brand or company pays you to write a blog post featuring their product that’s a sponsored post. You can look for brands in your niche that you like and that provide solutions for your audience and write a review post.
- Online courses – together with affiliate marketing, selling your own online courses is one of the major sources of revenue that you can have as a blogger. Once you have a set of skills and experiences that other people want to learn, you can package them into an online course that provides actionable steps and advice making them achieving their results faster compared to learning through trial and error.
- Ad Networks – you can display advertisements on your website and earn money as people click on the advertisements. There are many different ad networks that you can join, like Google Display or Mediavine. In order for ads to work, you need a lot of website visitors because you get paid for the clicks. Be careful with ads because they might ruin the overall user experience and web design, making everything look too cluttered
Recap and Next Steps
You have come to the end! If you have read all the guide congratulations!
As you can see, starting a blog is not rocket science and I strongly encourage you to do so because it’s an exciting journey that teaches you so much and has an unlimited upside.
Many people changed their life for the better with a blog, feeling like they are really creating something while making a side income or replacing their full-time income.
Whatever is your goal, whatever more freedom and money mean to you, a well-run blog has the potential to transform your desire into reality. You can help a lot of people while making a living that gives you a lot of flexibility.
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far:
- Start to work with the right mindset
- Define your ideas and do some research
- Choose a profitable niche for your blog
- Get your website online with Bluehost and WordPress
- Design and create your blog
- Publish your website’s main pages
- Start creating content and write your pillar articles
- Drive traffic to your website through promotion
- Start to monetize your blog
- Keep writing, learning, improving!
Anyone can start a blog and make money from it. In fact, thousands of people started blogs and make nice amounts money blogging.
In order to achieve results consistency is the key.
Managing a successful blog is about publishing great content, offering real value to people and promoting your website well. Sometimes you might feel like you’re getting nowhere. Keep doing your work.
I know that starting a blog can be overwhelming and confusing, that’s kind of natural, but there is a lot of help on the internet and it’s something that anyone can do.
Starting a blog is actually empowering and can be a life-changing decision. Take this path.
You can start on the side while working full time and make the digital economy work for you because it’s a tremendous opportunity.
I hope this guide helped you. I have covered pretty much everything you need to know to create a website and start your blog.
Once you begin publishing, your journey just started. Feel free to bookmark this page and keep coming back to read the parts that you need in order to improve and create.
I will progressively update this post with the latest insights on how you can create and grow your blog and start an online business.
Now you know what to do. The only thing you can do that will make all the difference is just a simple one: GET STARTED.
CLICK HERE to get 60% off and create your blog on Bluehost for only $3.95/month.