On one hand, starting a blog can be outright one of the most effective ways on the planet of establishing an online presence.
The entire nature of a good blog encourages interaction from readers and creates a presence that people and search engines love.
Blogging can help a person to establish credibility in most industries, in fact many industry experts have become known as such through blogging.
On the other hand, the sad truth is that by percentage, most bloggers create nothing more than a frustrating time-suck.
Do you guys remember the 1986 movie “The Money Pit“? Walter Fielding, played by Tom Hanks, and his wife buy a beautiful mansion at a remarkable price.
It turns out that the Fielding’s beautiful home falls apart, and the Fieldings are forced to spend all of their time and life savings to get the house into decent condition. Here’s a clip from the movie:
We Did it For Love 🙂
I created this article so that you can learn to create a successful blog while avoiding the traps that would make you continually frustrated and lacking in positive results.
Please consider it as a discussion, I will be answering questions in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
I’m going to assume that since you have reached this article, you are interested in starting a blog.
Some of you may have a blog and want to make sure that you haven’t missed any important steps in your blogging journey.
Regardless of your level of knowledge and experience in this arena, I sincerely hope that this article will help you to achieve your goals.
This post is one that may take you a few days to process, so feel free to come back as often as you need to.
Since I originally posted this, I’ve found that many of my readers and students have a hard time understanding some of the simple and powerful keyword strategies that make blogs such powerful marketing tools.
To help create the proper foundation for anyone looking to create a passive income with a blog, I’ve created an email mini-course called “5 Days to Success With Keywords.”
In the course I explain how my blogs make money with keywords and search engine traffic.
I’d strongly encourage you check it out if you’re serious about making low maintenance money online and avoiding the time-wasting mistakes most aspiring internet marketers are suffering through.
Just type your email address into the box below and I’ll send you high value, practical content right away. Enjoy the course…and don’t worry – I’ll never sell, share, or rent your email address. I don’t want anything but the goods in your inbox.
The whole point of creating an article like this is to give you a resource you can use to learn about blogging. That means it will help you to get a blog set up and will show you how you can make money with a blog.
Since most of my business is online, I am asked this question almost daily, “How do people get started on the internet?”
The first section of this enormous article will help you to see why you should be starting a blog if you’re new to internet marketing and why you should consider starting one even if you’re an experienced veteran in the online marketing world.
After we go over why you should consider starting a blog, we’ll go over how to start one that doesn’t become a time sucking money pit.
Why Starting A Blog Is Probably Your Best Option For Online Success
The nature of blogs give you some very specific advantages over other types of sites. To best illustrate what these advantages are, let me explain in detail what a blog actually is.
In the following paragraphs I want to go over important characteristics that make blogs different from other types of sites.
Blogs show the newest addition to the site on the homepage (or blog page). This makes for quite a few specific advantages including:
It’s easier to get search engine traffic from a blog than it is from other types of sites.
Blogs have some very tricky ways to generate search engine traffic that are much harder to accomplish with regular websites.
Here are some characteristics of blogs that help them to rank better in Google and other search engines:
Blogs become communities more easily than other types of sites.
The process of bringing people back to a website again and again is hugely important if you want to make a large amount of money from one site.
Blogs allow for 2-way communication and this makes them more interesting to visitors. They can leave their comments and ask you questions.
Since a person that is interacting is much more likely to come back for another visit, this gives a blog a lot more upside.
When people keep coming back it gives you more and more hits which will turn into more and more ad dollars and/or sales.
So, What Exactly is a Blog?
The word blog is short for weblog. You can think of a blog as a type of website that is very much like a journal that shows the most recent addition on the blog homepage, which is often the homepage of the site.
If you take a look at the blog page of most blogs, you will see the most recent additions to the site there. Each time a blog publishes something new, it’s placed on the blog page so that people can easily find it. This helps people to come back often to check for more material.
You may be getting nervous about the technical aspects of starting a blog. Don’t worry because there are some free software applications that can help you with this process. I will be covering the setup later in the article, so there’s no need to worry about this now.
Is Blogging for You?
No matter how effective a blog can be for establishing an online presence, you will have to decide whether blogging is the right business model for you.
Every business out there requires unique abilities and characteristics and starting a blog isn’t any different.
Many people are attracted to blogging because it’s cheap and still provides a large upside.
The extremely low entrance requirements for the business make it very cost effective, but also attract individuals that lack the persistence, motivation, and ambition to start a blog that can reach a high level of income.
I can tell you that almost every person is capable of starting a blog that makes money, but the amount that a person can make with a blog is determined by many factors including intelligence, passion, like-ability, and more importantly determination and self-belief.
You definitely don’t have to be abnormally intelligent or talented to create a blog that makes money. What you need is to have a lot of persistence and determination.
I’ve personally seen many friends that have the talent to make a full-time living fail at blogging simply because they quit before the fruits of their labors manifested themselves.
I’ve seen other friends that have a lot less talent who have made very nice incomes through blogging simply because of stubborn determination.
Crucial Traits of Successful Bloggers
Some of you may look at those four character traits and wonder if you have enough of them to ever create a successful blog or business for that matter.
I can tell you that there was a time in my life that I struggled in all four of those areas. I consider myself blessed to be able to say that I escaped from that negative cycle and turned myself into a person of confidence, ambition, and motivation.
You are the only one that can ultimately determine if you have what it takes to develop a successful blog.
The best gauge of whether you can do it or not is whether you are willing to develop yourself as a person during the process.
If you’re starting from ground zero, you have a lot to learn. However, there are plenty of resources that can help you during that process.
If you are thinking about starting a blog just to ‘try it out’, save yourself some time right now and don’t do it.
In order to start a blog that won’t be a waste of time, you will need to make up your mind beforehand that you will do whatever it takes to find success, no matter the cost or amount of time required to reach your desired level.
Why Starting a Blog is the Right Way to Start Online
There are literally hundreds of different methods that can be used to make money on the internet. There is e-commerce (selling products), blogging, traditional site operation, email marketing, pay-per-click marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing – the list goes on and on.
When people start learning about the internet and how to profit from it, they often have no idea what to start with.
I can tell you that starting a blog will provide you with a much needed education that will help you in the future no matter what endeavors you take on.
Free, easy to use software will help to simplify this process so that you don’t have to spend months learning all of the technical aspects of e-commerce and other methods for generating online income.
The Enormous Upside Of Blogging
I have to admit that I never would have started a blog myself if I hadn’t recognized the huge amount of upside that blogging provides.
The ability to generate traffic with a blog website is much higher than it is with other types of websites, and this will of course allow the owner to create a substantial income as traffic equals money.
A huge positive to blogging is that some of your marketing is done for you by your blog. When you add a new article to your blog (called a blog post), your blog will notify blog search engines of the new material (called content).
The blog search engines will then create links to your new material so that people who search them will be able to find you.
This action provides for quite a few benefits including an increase in direct traffic from blog search engines, and also a search engine benefit for search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.
The Monetization Potential Of Blogging
‘Monetization’ means making money.
I’ve seen lists that have literally hundreds of different methods that people use to make money with blogs. Instead of providing one of those lists that’s full of mostly useless information, here is a short list of methods that actually work to make great money with blogs that have good traffic:
- Direct Advertising – No matter what industry or topic your blog covers, there will certainly be people and companies that can benefit from advertising on your site – as long as you have traffic. The amount that you can charge will depend entirely on your traffic levels but I can tell you that this can be a very significant method for creating an income. There are bloggers out there that are making over $15,000 per month from this revenue stream alone, and team blogs that do over $100,000 per month in direct ad sales.
- Affiliate Marketing – In order to be truly successful as a blogger that makes money with affiliate marketing, you should recommend products that you really use yourself. After you have people that have subscribed to your site you will be able to develop a reputation as a trusted source for information. If you want to do well with affiliate marketing, never betray that trust. Don’t recommend products that aren’t useful to you and your trustworthiness will benefit both you and the people that read your site. Affiliate marketing is one of the biggest revenue streams I have on my blog, and that is because I would never recommend a product that people can’t benefit from.
- Product Reviews – No matter what your topic is, there will almost always be companies in your industry that will be willing to pay to create buzz for their new products and services. In order to maintain your integrity as a blogger, you will always need to be 100% honest in your reviews. For me, that has meant letting companies know beforehand that there will be both positive and negative points that will be discussed in the review. The positive points will help people the see the benefits of the product, and the negatives will help companies to know what to change.
- Contextual Advertising – Programs like Google Adsense and Media.Net can provide bloggers with a simple way to make money. You can read more about how this program works here: Make Money With Adsense. The basic idea is that Google will allow you to place paid ads on your blog and will pay you when people click on those ads.
- Selling Personal Products And Services – The #1 revenue stream of The Affilirator Program is the sale of our services. We are able to provide people with the help they need to make their businesses grow, and that help is very valuable. If your blog is built around information that can help people to learn something, keep in mind that some people will want and need more help than you can provide on your blog. Some people, (myself included) would rather spend money than time to learn something new.
You can definitely build a blog into a full time income, however this will take time.
The most self-destructive thing you can do is demand immediate, monetary results from your blog. This will only cause you to implode when they don’t come.
The key is to be patient with your blog, while sticking to the success principles that I will outline for you in this post.
The easiest way to turn your blog into a time-sucking money pit is by quitting before you get the results you’re looking for.
Don’t waste months of your life by quitting before you get results.
If you decide that starting a blog is for you, make sure you are 100% committed to seeing it through before you take your first step.
I sincerely hope that by now you believe that by starting a blog, you can create income for yourself. If you don’t, I would recommend working on your self-belief and personal determination.
Step 1: Choosing a Profitable Blog Topic
When the time comes to prepare to start a blog, the first and probably most important step is choosing a topic that can be profitable.
In theory, there are thousands of topics that you could cover with your blog, but some will be much more profitable than others.
Although there are many different profitable topics, most people don’t realize that skills and interests they already have could translate into profitable blogs.
When people talk to me in person about starting a blog, I ask them this series of questions before making any recommendations:
- Where do you work and what do you do?
- What topics are you interested in?
- What magazines and/or books do you like to read?
- What do you do with your free time?
I talk to people all the time that spend hours every day reading about something they’re very interested in without realizing that they already have their topic.
If you are in this boat, I think you probably should blog about that topic, since the interest is already there.
Before making your decision final, I would recommend taking a look at whether you can actually make money with the topic you are considering.
The easiest way to find this out is by looking for a similar, successful blog. If another person or group can make money with a given topic, you can too – as long as you have as much determination as they do.
To make this process a little easier, here are some random ideas that could be turn into profitable blogs:
- Make Money Online
- Investment Strategies
- Real Estate Investing Ideas
- Basic Computer Lessons
- Computer News
- Cell Phone News
- Computer Programming
- Teach People How To Diet
- Celebrity Gossip
- Home Decor
Now I couldn’t possibly cover all of the possibilities for profitable blog ideas.
If you have an idea for a blog, please feel free to use the comments in this post or my contact page. I would be happy to give you feedback about any idea you are able to come up with.
Another interesting metric that can be used to determine whether a blog topic can be profitable is whether or not there are off-line businesses that are profitable in that industry.
Are there off-line businesses that do well in the pet industry? Absolutely.
Are there off-line businesses that do well in the finance industry? Of course.
Are there off-line businesses that do well in the industry you’re considering? If there are, there will probably be online money as well.
Once you have chosen your topic, you will move on to the next stage in the lesson.
Step 2: Choosing a Domain Name
I’ve written countless times on this site about the enormously important selection of your domain name, which is the .com name of your blog website.
In the spirit of being thorough, I would like to discuss this topic further.
I would highly recommend taking at least a week to determine the domain name of your site. This will give you ample time to brainstorm and make an educated decision.
Do not extend this process for more than one week. Procrastination will inhibit your progress and you need to get started as soon as possible.
When choosing a domain name there are a lot of factors to consider.
To help you to make that decision, I would like to address a few of crucial ones here:
In order to create a blog that is highly profitable, you will need to get people to associate your domain name with good knowledge and information in your industry.
This process is called branding and is vital for any good blog.
Using a name that doesn’t relate to your industry makes the process a lot harder.
I have chosen to use my own name for the domain name of my site. It took a lot of extra work to get people to associate my site with internet marketing and if you go this route you will need to plan on putting in the time.
There are plenty of domain name extensions to choose from, including .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, and many more.
I would highly recommend going with a .com extension if you’re starting a blog.
This will make your blog website easier to find and will also help you to get a better price if you were to ever sell your site.
I wouldn’t choose a domain name that had more than three words in it.
Using domain names that have 4+ words will make it harder for people to find and remember your site. Keep the name as simple as possible.
Hyphens and Underscores
When choosing your domain name, stay away from hyphens (dashes) and underscores.
These symbols will make your name much harder to remember and you will always be sending traffic to the non-hyphened or underscored version of your domain name.
I have seen plenty of sites that were able to make it with these symbols in the domain, but why would you want to make it harder for yourself?
As long as a domain is available and doesn’t break any of the above rules, you should add it to your list of possibilities.
After a week you should have plenty of possibilities on your list, and you will then choose the name that you like the best.
Since each of them fits the criteria of a good name, it will come down to personal preference when you make the final decision.
Checking Availability Of Domain Name
Any site that sells domain names will allow you to check a name for its availability.
Any name that is currently registered by another person will come back unavailable. The site that I use to check for the availability of domain names is called Namecheap, but really any domain registrar will do.
Once you have chosen an available name that you want to use for your blog, you will of course register it. I use Namecheap for this as well, it costs under $10 per year to register a domain name there.
Step 3: Setting Up Your Blog
Once you have a domain name, you will then proceed to the setting up of your blog.
This will involve setting up hosting, installing your blog software, and starting to add material to your site.
Web Hosting And Blog Setup
A web host is a server (computer) on the internet that your blog will be stored on.
I use UpCloud+RunCloud for most of my hosting but it’s not the simplest nor the most straightforward to use.
For your first hosting, I'd recommend you go with Hostgator. They have a support number that you can use if something gets messed up.
In another article that I wrote about starting a blog, I have included a walk-through that you can use to get your hosting set up properly. You can find that here: Starting A Blog.
The article also covers the installation of WordPress, which is the blog software that I would highly recommend using.
Step 4: Developing Your Blog
If you followed the instructions properly in the other article I linked to in the last paragraph, you should now have a blog set up.
You still have a long way to go but are off to a great start.
Congratulations, you have just started a new business with a few days work and less than $20 out of pocket.
Giving People What They Want
The biggest piece of advice that I could give anyone that is starting a blog is simple.
Forget about what you want, and start thinking about what other people want.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when starting a blog is believing that people are interested in you personally.
Unless you have off-line celebrity, this will not be the case. If you want your blog to be a business, treat it like a business.
People will read your blog if it takes care of one of their needs.
Please take the time now to think about this concept well. If you owned a restaurant, would you talk to every person that came to the store about how you are frustrated with your husband and kids?
Would you talk to your prospects about how you ate a really crappy pizza last night?
If you would, I would never recommend buying starting a restaurant.
People that visit your blog will be there for one reason – because you provide or claim to provide something that they need or want.
You need to keep this concept fixed in your mind every time you work on your blog.
Forget about yourself and focus on providing people with information they need, or with information they enjoy. Stay on topic, stay on topic, stay on topic.
How Often Should You Post?
This is a highly debatable topic to say the least.
Some people believe that you need to post as much as possible, and other people think that you need to choose quality over quantity. I believe that quality is the most important factor to consider, but I also believe that people will lose interest in you if they have to wait too long for your next post.
If you desire growth for your blog, you will need to post quality articles as much as possible.
If you can’t post a quality article at least three times per week it could take years for your blog to grow to the needed level.
Start by posting 3-7 times per week and focus on providing value. If you have the time and knowledge to post more, by all means do it.
How To Make Your Blog Look Unsuccessful
More often than not, bloggers scream ‘lack of success’ from the mountain tops. They will plaster all over their blogs that the blog is ‘their journey to online success’.
If you are in this boat, I don’t mean to offend you. What I do mean to do is tell you that you are basically telling people that your are not successful right now. You might as well say, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” because that’s exactly what you’re implying.
People are looking for blogs and websites that know what they’re doing so that they can learn.
If you don’t know what you’re doing you will need to learn as quickly as possible. Think of it like a new job – do you know 100% of the ropes on your first day at work?
Let’s say you start working at an electronics and on your first day you don’t have the answers the people are looking for. Does that mean that you’re going to give up?
You might be uncomfortable for a few weeks, but after that you’ll have a better understanding. In the meantime, you’re going to do the best you can with the knowledge you have.
If a person comes in to your shop and wants to buy a cell phone, are you going to tell them that you don’t know anything about cell phones and send them on their way? No, you’re going to do your best to sound professional and knowledgeable right?
No matter what industry you have decided to blog about, people will be evaluating nearly every word you write. Be a professional and people will treat you like one. Be an amateur and people will treat you like one.
Make Your Best Information Easy to Find
I could never stress enough the importance of creating an easy-to-see section that contains your best work.
When a stranger visits your site, they will often click around a little to see if there’s anything that interests them.
If they can easily access your best information, they will come around more often and may even subscribe to your site on the spot.
Step 5: Promoting Your Blog
Once you have created and started to develop your site, you can start promoting it.
Promoting a blog is not an overnight process but it shouldn’t take years either.
If you are promoting correctly, you should be able to see increases in your traffic during each calendar month.
Since every blog is different, it is impossible for me to lay down exact time-lines for blog promotion.
That said, there are certain methods that you should use in the beginning stages of blogging that you probably won’t use in the latter stages, and vice versa.
In order to illustrate these differences, I would like to lay down a simple, estimated time-line that will approximate the process of promoting a blog.
Please understand that this line isn’t meant in any way to be exact. Some of you will implement ideas more quickly than others.
Additionally, some ideas can be integrated more easily in certain industries.
During the first two months you have your blog online, you will have very little leverage.
This means that other bloggers probably won’t really respect you and this means that they will probably not help you much with your promotion.
During this time period, you will also get very little love from search engines like Google, who favor heavily sites with more age and more online presence.
Although these factors are working against you, there are still methods that you can use to promote your blog.
Keep in mind in the beginning that each new visitor is a victory. Each time a site links to you during this time period is a huge success and should be treated as such.
Here are some of the best promotion methods you can use during this low-leverage promotional period:
Commenting On Other Blogs
This promotional method doesn’t provide you with a ton of leverage, but should still be used in the beginning stages of blogging.
Some of the most important links I was able to get from other blogs in the beginning of Snorezing.Com came from people who found me because of a comment I left on their blog.
There is a great post that I read on this subject a while back here: Do You Have A Blog Commenting Strategy?
In order to turn your blog into a credible site sometime in the future, you will need to get to know some of the more prominent and mid-level bloggers in your industry.
While this won’t help you during this time period, it’s a great time to work on building the list of people you know in your industry.
I would start by sending a simple letter of introduction while letting the bloggers know that you would be happy to link to their valuable articles.
Asking them for help or links at this point is almost ridiculous – that will come into play much later down the road.
If you have some regular traffic after your first two months (this amount doesn’t have to be huge), you know that you’re on the right track.
By that time, you should have a few readers that visit regularly.
Since you started from ground zero and haven’t spent any money on promotion, don’t worry if the numbers are small. Later on you will be able to use higher leverage to create bigger promotional opportunities.
If you don’t have any regular readers at this point, it would be wise to figure out why. Either your blog’s content isn’t good enough or you haven’t been promoting enough.
Continuing on without figuring out the problem would be a waste of time. Take an honest look at your site and promotional methods and try to identify areas where you can improve.
By this time you should have some regular readers and hopefully some contacts that will be able to really help you to promote your site.
While this time period will provide you with some additional leverage that you didn’t have during the first two months with your blog, you will still have relatively low leverage compared to what you will have in later time periods.
During this time, Google and other search engines will continue to show you very little love. This is normal and doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong.
As I stated earlier in this lesson, Google favors heavily websites that have more time online and a larger presence.
Even though search engines aren’t going to show you a ton of love during this time period, you should be able to get some search traffic.
You will also start laying the foundation that will lead to the big search traffic that’s down the road.
Additionally, this is a great time period to network with bloggers that are close to your level of success.
Since it really doesn’t do any good to network with sites that aren’t related to yours, take some time to search Google for blogs that cover similar topics.
Here are the promotional methods that I would be using during this time period:
- Aggressive Link Building – While your search traffic probably won’t be spectacular during this time period, you will want to use this time to build links, because that will help you in the future. There are a lot of different methods that you can use for this, but I would focus primarily on Private Blog Networks (PBNs) and emailing other bloggers when you create great content.
- Socializing With Other Bloggers – This includes commenting on other blogs, emailing authors of blogs, and just plain being cool to people.
- Social Media – With the help of some of your friends and contacts, you can start to use social media for traffic during this time. You will need to take some time to research what kinds of content do well on each of the social sites that you decide to use. I would focus primarily on Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Twitter. Your success with social bookmarking and voting will depend heavily on your ability to write interesting content. Don’t get discouraged when you aren’t a smash hit at first. You can and will learn to do well with social media if you keep working at it.
By the end of the first six months your blog is online, you should be able to get a significant amount of repeat traffic.
Again, if the repeat traffic isn’t there you will need to re-evaluate your site.
There’s no reason to keep working the same way if you aren’t getting the results you’re looking for. Make some changes and take a hard look at where you might be going wrong.
After the first six months are over, you will be able to make a lot more progress with your blog. Time will start working in your favor because of a few important factors:
- Google will stop hating you. If your site was placed in Google’s sandbox, it will likely come out at about this time which will mean that you will start getting the Google traffic that you deserve.
- You should have at least some name/brand recognition at this point. If not, you failed during the first two sections of promotion so you will need to start over with the list building and networking.
The use of these two advantages will give you increased leverage as you start this period of promotion.
This will give you more and more ability to create traffic with your promotional efforts. During this time period, these are the methods I would focus on:
- Marketing Your Best Articles – By this point you should have friends and contacts in your industry. You should create mutually beneficial relationships where you help each other to market good articles. You will help your contacts by linking to their good work and they will link to yours.
- Guest Posting – Once you have established somewhat of a name for yourself or for your brand you will be able to approach bigger blogs about becoming a guest poster. As long as you have earned some respect in your industry these bigger blogs will probably be happy to have you. There are plenty of sites that accept guest posting, and many of them have tens of thousands of readers. I’m sure that you can see the value in getting your name in front of that many people.
- Social Media – As long as you continue to provide value to the online communities you are targeting, you will find continued success with social media. You can increase that success by expanding your area of influence and networking.
- Link Building – During this time period you will continue your link building efforts. This will help you to increase your search engine traffic and direct traffic from other sites. You will use basically the same methods I talked about in the previous section.
No matter where you’re starting out, no matter what you currently know, I believe that you can start a profitable blog.
I sincerely hope that this article can help you to get started, while showing you how to avoid the pitfalls that could waste your valuable time.
Top 10 Mistakes You Can Make When Starting A Blog
Some of the best information I’ve read on blogging hasn’t focused on what I should be doing, but instead focuses on what I shouldn’t be doing as a blogger. Here’s a short-list of pitfalls that will waste your time and stunt the growth of your blog:
- Choosing topics that aren’t interesting to you.
- Failure in providing enough value to your target audience.
- Quitting before your traffic comes.
- Failure in learning about search engine optimization techniques.
- Failure to make friends and/or make contact with prominent bloggers in your industry.
- Failure to write with social media success in mind.
- Relying 100% on one monetization source.
- Blogging too much about yourself, thinking that people are interested in you.
- Failure in approaching your blog as a business.
- Failure to believe that your blog will be a success.
In closing, I would like to invite you personally to get started in the world of blogging. I’m here to help you along the way.
If this is something that interests you, do yourself a favor and subscribe to my email newsletter below. I will continue to provide you with the information you need to create a successful blog.