Blogging + WordPress is a powerful internet weapon. There is so much you can do in real time to create something of value. Over the last 5 years or so, blogging has become the “thing” to do; it’s relatively easy, quick and therapeutic. There are thousands of blogs continuing to pop up each day with no end in sight. Some sites get lost in internet space while others drive huge amounts of traffic making the owner very happy in the pockets. Creating a successful blog isn’t going to happen overnight, it may take several months or even years to get to the elite status. This step by step guide comes directly from my personal experience over the last 5 years. This is only a guide to success, the real success will come from you’re dedication and willingness to work hard every day.
1. Find The Right Topic
Finding what to blog about is very crucial to your success in the future. To blog about a topic you have no interest in is a big no, no! When you write about something you have zero passion for, you will most likely give up before you see any results. Instead, think of a hobby or something you like to do outside of work. For example, web design is my hobby and it doesn’t feel like work, I love it. I continue to write and take time on my posts because it’s fun! If you think your topic is to broad use Google’s keywords tool to find a phrase to build your niche upon.
2. Register Domain Name
Now that you have found a topic, your next step is to register your own domain name. You can use free hosting on WordPress but you will have a unprofessional name like “themetoday.wordpress.com” You don’t want this if you plan on becoming a successful Blogger, don’t limit yourself to free hosting.
GoDaddy and NameCheap are some of the more reputable domain registrars around. Both are cheap, easy and reliable.
A domain is very important for your identity. Brainstorm possible domain names and write them all down on a piece of paper. Afterwards, go to your preferred registrar to see if they have been taken. You’re bound to come up with one that hasn’t been registered yet.
Things to avoid when choosing a domain name:
- Avoid commonly misspelled words
- Avoid using hyphens between words
- Avoid using any extension other than .com (.net would be the next best solution)
3. Choose a Host
A host is like the house for your site. You need it to be solid, secure and affordable. A great hosting company will let you create content without having to troubleshoot your site. I’ve recently moved to a new host and so far I’ve been very happy with Host Gator. This is the hosting company I highly recommend you use. Not only do they have one of the best prices but they are reliable and customer focused. I have several domain names using their Baby Plan for only $7.95 per month!
A lot of hosts, including Host Gator, these days have “one-click installs”, this will make your life easier when you are ready to upload WordPress. As the name suggests, you just click and the host will automatically install a fresh version of WordPress.
4. Upload WordPress
As I mentioned above, most hosts have one-click installs for WordPress. I’m going to show you how to do this through Host Gator. Other hosts will be similar to this.
Login to your CPanel and scroll down to “Software/Services”, then click on “QuickInstall.”
You will then be directed to where you will installing the popular blogging platforms.
After you click on “WordPress,” you will be see info on the WP version and a brief explanation of WP.
After you click “Continue” you will be directed to the last step and you need to pick your URL, enter an email and blog title, then you’re site will have a clean version of WP installed!
5. Find and Upload a Premium Theme
Now that the install is complete, you need to login and upload a new theme. I highly suggest you go with a premium theme. They are well built, seo friendly, have awesome features and have a professional look that you can customize if needed. Visit my resource page or check out some collections like this one to help you find a great theme.
Premium Theme Sites:
Premium theme posts to check out:
When planning your website’s design, take into account easy accesibility for your readers who may not be internet savvy.
6. Customize and Add Necessary Plugins
The great thing about buying a premium theme is that you can customize with a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP. Some of the themes make it easy to edit through the WP Dashboard! WordPress makes it very easy to install plugins and widgets, I explain the difference between the two here. You can find tons of free tutorials on how to customize your theme.
In this post I’ve outlined 10 crucial plugins that you will want to install on your site. The newer versions of WP allow you to easily upload new plugins just by clicking on “install” under the Plugins section.
7. Create Pages (about, contact, etc.)
Creating pages such as an About page is very important to the success of your blog. Readers want to know who is behind the great content. With a brief bio and what the site is about will make your blog/brand more personable. I suggest uploading a photo of yourself to make it even more intimate. Darren Rowse of Problogger quickly highlights some keys, check out his post here.
SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization and it can be a tricky subject. Many SEO “experts” can go back and forth for what practices are the best and what are not. Luckily, WP makes it easy and you can simply download the All in One SEO Pack. From here you can easily enter info such as meta tags, keywords, site description and more to make your blog more search friendly.
My words of advice for SEO: “I believe the best SEO for you blog is to create valuable content without worrying about SEO.”
Should you monetize before you have a steady stream of visitors? I say yes, then your original readers will know what to expect. In addition, making money from a blog is rewarding and you need to pay the bills! I realize the cost of running a blog is minimal (under $10 per month) but making money from your site is not greedy. You take the time to provide quality content so why should you not be compensated properly. There are hundreds of ways to monetize a blog.
Check out these posts on how to monetize a blog:
- 30 Real Ways to Making Money Blogging (via Blogussion)
- My Top 7 Blog Monetization Methods (via Entrepreneurs-Journey)
- 101 Ways to Monetize Your Website or Blog (via Vandelay Design)
- 28 Ways to Make Money with Your Website (via Daily Blog Tips)
10. Create Pillar Content & Top Lists
What is pillar content? Simply stated, it’s a timeless (tutorials, stories, bios, etc.) article that you can reference to time and again. It’s important to set a good foundation for your blog content. A great way to achieve this is by creating pillar content. One of the main types of articles are tutorials where you provide insight and value on how to do something. Someone 5 years from now can visit the article and find it useful. If you have good, quality foundation articles, other sites will be more likely to link to you, doesn’t need updating, search engines will pick up on it. I suggest having at least 5 pillar articles before you market your blog.
In the design community, top lists are very popular. Top lists are collections on a certain niche. For example, Forbes has the “400 Richest Americans,” or Designm.ag has “50 Excellent Designer Portfolio Sites.” There are thousands of top-something lists popping up every day. Why is it so beneficial to have lists? They are quick reads, they provide inspiration and often linked to the most. Having a top list won’t kill your blog but it will help to promote it.
11. Setup Content Schedule
How often you should post articles on your blog is a personal preference. Some say the more the better, some agree that quality over quantity is the key. The real important thing is to be consistent and have a weekly schedule. I like to post on the site Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Another great feature of WordPress is timestamping. You can schedule your posts to publish live by setting a certain date. Sometimes I write a few posts in one sitting and set them to publish throughout the week.
12. Write the Content
quality over quantity
When your a Blogger the content of the blog matters the most. So, take your time with your work and publish quality articles. Some people can get away with short posts, but make sure they are insightful. A perfect example of this is a Seth Godin, he publishes great, short, easy to read content on his blog. If you are starting out, I would suggest writing content that looks like you took your time to do. I mean, some heavy articles where you go in great depth to talk about a subject and you leave the reader bookmarking your stuff.
13. Become Social and Be Proud Of Your Blog
This is the best and most cost effective form of marketing in today’s internet world. The key to making money and a name for yourself or blog is traffic. Without traffic, you have zero reputation, zero revenue and are providing no value. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Stumbleupon…what do they all have in common? Potential customers with zero dollars out of your pocket. A great way to advertise a young blog is to become friendly using sites such as Twitter.
Twitter has become a great marketing tool for Blogger’s. You can receive instant traffic from the social site. A tactic that works well in the Twitter world is finding a respected member in your niche and adding their friends in hopes of those people following you. It’s an easy way to gain followers without spending money on services that promise to bring you thousands of irrelevant followers. Once you do this, tweet your own articles and retweet articles you find interesting.
In order to grow your blog to the “success” level, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. You need to constantly analyze your blog and adjust accordingly. For example, if you notice, through Google Analytics, that a post is getting some exposure it’s smart to monetize it more than other posts.
15. Don’t Give Up!
Blogging won’t make you a millionaire tomorrow. You can’t just set it and forget and watch your Paypal account explode. There are so many misconceptions about blogging being easy money. I’m here to tell you that it’s hard work and that’s why most blogs become extinct after a few months. If you ask any successful blogger, they will tell you that it was hard work and patience that allowed them to eventually reap the rewards. The great thing about blogging is that we are all on an even playing field. You can compete as long as you have dedication and a laptop!