I know you’re probably ready to start a blog in 2018 and you’re going to make this year count. With more people starting a blog, it only gets more competitive. So what’s still working in 2018?
Let’s dive in.
What to focus on
In this tutorial, I’ll be walking you through how to start a blog and tell you what’s working in 2018. In this article, I’m going dive deeper about:
- How to find your niche
- How to set up your blog on a budget
- Why you shouldn’t spend more than a day designing your blog
- Why you should start your email list from day one
- Know how you’re going to monetize
- Who shouldn’t become a blogger?
How to find your niche
There are usually two types of bloggers that I see around:
- The first type is a blogger who already has a business, but wants to use a blog to grow a more loyal brand following. These people can be small business owners, Etsy sellers, e-commerce stores, or freelancers
- The second type of blogger is usually starting from scratch and has no business, but wants to start a blog and eventually monetize it through digital products, brand sponsorships, affiliate marketing, ads, etc.
In the case of the first blogger, it’s much easier to start and grow a blog because you already have a product, done-for-you service, or coaching program to sell.
The bottom line is, your product or service offer IS your niche and any type of content you create for your blog should help generate excitement for that offer.
When I created my new Trello templates kit product, I had the product idea in mind before I started writing any blog posts for it. You get a slight advantage because you don’t need to waste time writing any blog content that won’t help sell your product.
Now in the case of the second blogger, it becomes a bit more trial and error. I hate to be the one saying this, but you might have to write a bit more to figure out what your audience responds to most if you have no idea.
Despite what you think, picking a niche doesn’t have to be hard. I do believe that you don’t really “find” your niche and even if you do, it’s because you eventually “create” your own niche based on the experiences you have with your current audience.
Once you have your first small gang of people who love following you (even if that’s just 500 people), creating your niche becomes possible.
But before you have a small following, the best way to start is to pick a broader category that appeals to you. Not sure what a “category” is?
If you go on Pinterest and look under “Explore interests”, you’ll see what Pinterest users are interested in.
This is a great way to go about it because if you’re going to start a blog, Pinterest is the quickest way to get traffic to your blog.
But what’s even more interesting is that if you’re going to use Pinterest as your traffic driver, you want to know what types of topics people already search for on Pinterest.
Categories like DIY, crafts, motivational quotes, food, design, health, and fitness are super popular on Pinterest. Since Pinterest is a visual search engine, any visual niche will be quite popular.
Once you have the category chosen, you can begin to brainstorm specifically what you want to write about and be known for.
Don’t be so selective and picky about what to write. See what people are already searching for on Pinterest, write an article and see how popular it is for you. If there’s already a popular article on Pinterest, go ahead and share your perspective on a similar title.
Remember, you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. There are only so many topics in the world and there’s really only a handful of topics that people are interested in again and again.
Officially Start Your Blog: How to set up your WordPress blog
Once you have selected a category and you’re on your way to creating your niche, you can begin to set up your WordPress blog.
First, you’ll need a web hosting service. Some of the best web hosting services can cost up to $30/month, but when you’re starting out, all you need is something basic. I love and recommend Bluehost at $4/month. I still use it. They even have special holiday sales sometimes where you can get a steal for $2.5/month. If you sign up for my email list, you’ll hear more about those deals.
I’m not going to go too deep into how to setup your blog hosting. I have a video tutorial here that walks you through how to choose a Bluehost plan and sign up for an account (5-10 minutes) and how to install WordPress (2 minutes).
Don’t spend so much time on designing your blog
One of the biggest complaints I hear from my readers is, “I already spent 5 days on designing my blog and I still can’t get it right!”
Yo, why is this happening?
So many people try to get their blog on Day One to look like someone else’s blog on Day 500. Most bootstrappers who started a blog didn’t have a professional web designer so their blog’s first design looks DIY-ed.
And that’s completely O-K-A-Y.
Unless you’re a web designer selling your web design skills most people won’t judge you for your design. And for those who do judge you for it probably can’t even create what you just did.
So what’s my secret sauce to this?
Pick a simple theme. I love minimal themes and if you’re serving a U.S. or western audience, simple and minimal is usually the way to go anyway. Make navigation easy, your font readable, and the headings bold.
If you really want a step-by-step, “watch over my shoulder” type tutorial, you can check out my course, Blog Successfully. I teach new bloggers how to start, create, and launch a blog in two short weeks. The design phase should take you no longer than two days — but really, you can figure out the WordPress Customizer in an hour or two.
I’ve started at least four different blogs in the past 10 years. I realized that any project that takes longer than 2 weeks tends to lose momentum.
Create content for Pinterest to get found and ranked
I’m going to group this together because so many people don’t know where to come up with content ideas.
There are generally two ways you can create content:
- Find keywords on Pinterest that you want to rank for and write blog posts around that (e.g., “how to” posts)
- Create content that generates excitement for a product or service you have
Of course, there are other ways you can create content too such as sharing industry trends and such, but for beginners, I really recommend ranking for search instead.
Go to Pinterest and type your keyword into search. More keywords will pop up that you can choose from. Ideally, you want to start with less competitive keywords so you can get ranked for them.
Finally, if you’re using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, don’t write a blog post before researching for keywords.
Grow your email list from day one
Despite what you think, one of the biggest assets you can grow is not your traffic (you’ll need that too, sweetie!), but it’s your email list. Your traffic can be flaky and you can read more about how my traffic was cut in half because of the holiday season. Other changes that are not within your control are social media algorithms.
Good thing for you is that if you’re already writing and creating content for your blog, growing an email isn’t that much harder.
That’s because you can leverage your existing content to grow your list. And you’ll need a few simple things:
- A freebie to entice people to sign up (aka lead magnet)
- An email service provider (Mailerlite is free to use if you really don’t want to spend money on it; otherwise, I love ActiveCampaign for pro bloggers!)
- Create a sign-up form on your blog
Creating a freebie might be an extra step, but it will pay off the long-term when you can reach your subscribers whenever you want.
Last quarter I spent way more time and energy emailing my list and keeping them toasty warm during the holiday season than writing blog posts.
As a result?
Know how you will monetize your blog from day one
Finally, if you’re the second type of blogger that I mentioned above, you want to decide on how you want to monetize your blog from Day One.
I don’t want to be the person who sugarcoats it for you. If you don’t have a service to offer or a product to sell from Day One, it’s going to take a bit of time to earn an income online.
It takes a few months to build up organic traffic because you need to spend time writing blog content, researching Pinterest keywords, creating pins and marketing it.
But I always think you should have the end in mind. And by the “end” I don’t mean the final “end’, but some kind of end goal in mind.
I always think you should start thinking about how you want to monetize before you start. Here are a few ideas:
- Offering a service
- Selling a coaching package
- Selling a few high-priced digital products
- Selling more low-priced digital products
- Selling affiliate products through your blog
For example, I personally don’t like selling digital products that are less than $50 for fear of attracting the wrong type of audience. I’ve heard horror stories of people asking for refunds on a $7 report where the seller over delivered. I know I just don’t want to be dealing with customer support issues on that level every day. (Ugh)
Secondly, for all the marketing materials that you have to create to sell a cheap product, you can probably create a more expensive product. Thirdly, you’ll need a lot more traffic to sell low-priced products and hit that income goal.
If you’re the second type of blogger, I’ll recommend that you start experimenting with affiliate marketing from Day One. If you can sell someone else’s product, it’s much easier to sell your own similar product down the line.
Likewise, if you have trouble selling someone else’s product, maybe that’s not the right product for your audience. (That’s just something to think about; of course, there are exceptions in every situation.)
The truth is, it’s a lot easier to sell someone else’s product because the process of going from conception to research to creation to marketing to selling can take a few months sometimes.
But when you’re starting with just affiliate marketing, all you need are the marketing and selling phases. If you’re interested in starting or upping your affiliate marketing game, check out Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.
When I took her course, I was already making an income through affiliate marketing for my skincare blog. I was skeptical if there’s anything else I need to know about AM. And sure thing, there were some things that fell through the cracks for me!
(I am an affiliate for it, which I know sounds so meta lol)
Eventually, you want to experiment with more than one source of income to see what you love most!
Who is blogging for and not for?
So many people start a blog for the right reasons… and others for the wrong reasons.
So let’s touch base on who blogging is right for:
Blogging is right for you if you love to create free content without feeling like it’s a chore for you.
If you love writing, that’s a plus. For example, I love writing (and that’s how I started writing a blog 10 years ago), but I never wanted to be a journalist or author (and I still don’t today).
Blogging is right for if you’re patient.
Yo, organic traffic takes time! If you’re in a rush, use FB ads. But if you write a blog, I wouldn’t recommend using FB ads until you have a product or service to sell.
Blogging is right for you if you publish consistently.
I feel like a hypocrite saying this because I don’t publish consistently… at least not for this blog. I did so for my former skincare blog. But the truth is, Pinterest is a lot more likely to bring you more traffic if you publish consistently.
Honestly, I hate doing things for search engines, but that’s the price to pay when you’re using FREE organic traffic.
Now blogging isn’t right for you if you’re trying to just make a quick buck, looking for a get rich scheme, or don’t have value to share.
You’re better off not starting a blog if that’s you.
But if you’ve gotten this far down this article, you probably do want to start and launch a blog. If you can’t wait another day to share your passion with the world, I’ve thrown together a roadmap for you.
If that’s you, here are the steps to take:
- Set up your Bluehost account in the next 10 minutes
- Install WordPress with one-click in 2 minutes
- Launch your blog in two weeks without being held hostage by any tech villains using my course, Blog Successfully
Remember, organic traffic TAKES TIME.
And every day that your blog is still an idea and not a reality means it’ll take another day for that traffic to start rolling in and making your first sale.
Download the FREE Blog Launch Checklist so you know exactly what you need to do!
And if you want to get a headstart and get the full “watch over my shoulder” training, Blog Successfully will help you launch your blog in 2 weeks!
Ready to start and launch your own blog with a bang? Did you know that you can:
- Get my roadmap to launching a blog in 2 weeks
- Start and launch your WordPress blog without any tech experience (Don’t wait 6 months to make this happen! So many new bloggers get too caught up in the small stuff.)
- Power-write your first few blog posts and prepare for launch without losing motivation or momentum
- Get your first group of readers (and loyal fans!)
Until next time,
(This page contains affiliate links. This means if you buy through this link, I’ll get a small commission, but rest assured, it won’t cost you anything extra! Any and every product that I promote on this blog is something that I’ve purchased, tried, used, and have seen results from. You don’t have to use this link, but I do appreciate it if you do. If you found this post helpful, it allows me to continue to write more content for you in the future.)