So you want to know how to start a profitable blog? When I was growing up, it was often said that everyone had at least one good book inside of them. Nowadays, it seems like everyone has at least one good blog inside of them.
Before we start, let’s get the BS out of the way. Most blogs fail, in fact it's estimated that 95% of blogs haven't been updated in the past 6 months. Unless you have a firm strategy in place it's likely that your blog will go the same way.
Starting A Blog
Starting a blog is just like setting up a small business, you need a good business plan. Without it, your chances of being successful will be slim. It really doesn't take much to start blogging, you could have your first blog post up in an hour from now. Although if you want to be a successful blogger who can tell your boss to stick his job where the sun doesn't shine, then you need a plan and you need to stick to it.
It really doesn't take much to start blogging, you could have your first blog post up in an hour from now. Although if you want to be a successful blogger who can tell your boss to stick his job where the sun doesn't shine, then you need a plan and you need to stick to it.
What Will You Blog About?
You can base your blog around anything you want, there really is no limit. However if you want to be successful, you have to base it around a subject that other people are interested in.
If you are an expert in Roman military sandals AD20 to AD85 then you probably won’t have a large audience. However if you can expand that blog to Roman military history AD20 To AD85, then you broaden your reach. This principle is the same whether you have a food blog, a fashion blog or a business blog.I know a lot of people shy away from topics where there are a lot of preexisting blogs; this is a mistake. Preexisting blogs mean that there is a ready supply of people interested in the topic.
You are reading this blog and there are several million blogs with similar articles. To get read, I just need to (hopefully) make this article better than most of the rest.
When choosing your blog’s topic be aware that you might need other skills above and beyond the ability to write.
If you want to start a fashion blog or a food blog, then you need to be able to take high-quality photographs. Those types of blog live and die on the quality of the photography. Stock photography just isn’t going to be good enough for those fields.
Unless you have a decent digital camera and know how to use it, then I would suggest stay away from these types of blogs.
Who is your target market? What age and gender are they? Can you produce content that they’ll relate to?
How large is that target market? Will you be able to generate at least 10,000 visitors a month? Will the topic scale up?
Do you know how to reach your target market? Where do they hang around online? Do they spend time online?Will your topic have long term appeal?
Where do they hang around online?
Do they spend time online?Will your topic have long term appeal?
Do you still think it will be relevant in 3-5 years?
Is there enough related material to blog about? Can you find 20 things to write about right now? Can you scale that up and add more related content? You’ll need to blog regularly, can you write at least 52 blog posts in the next year?
How will you make your content better than the existing sites? Do you have a unique angle that people will relate to?
Finally, remember a blog is a lot more than an online magazine. You will have to maintain a high quality of content or people won’t return. To make money blogging you need return visitors.
Phew… hope I haven’t put you off!
Part 2: Building A Profitable Blog
Next, you’ll need a few technical skills to set up your blog. The good news is it’s not as daunting as some people make it sound. If you don't want to tackle it yourself, you can always find someone to do the work for you on Upwork or Fiverr. If you have a 13 year old neighbour, give him a call, he'll be able to do it! Many hosting companies will actually set up your blog for you if you ask them.
Compared to a real brick and mortar business, blog start-up costs are minimal. $9 for a domain name and $29 a month for good quality hosting (more on this later!).
You’ll need to choose your domain name and select one of the many blogging platforms. The choice of blogging platform is easy… pick WordPress.
It’s easy to set up and maintain and there is a wealth of help available online. Don't make the mistake of creating a Wordpress.com blog, as that is WordPress' own platform. Instead, you should blog on your own domain using WordPress.org.
[bctt tweet=”Rule #1 Of Online Marketing … Never Build on Rented Land! #digitalmarketing” username=”m_j_thompson”]
Your domain name should be the same as your blog name. The name should be brand-able rather than literal, choose something memorable like dare I say … The Lifestyle Marketer. Check search engines for the most popular blogs in your niche and style your blog's name in a similar manner.
Next, ensure you can buy the domain name, preferably a .com. Also pick up the .org, .net and .co if you can. This stops people from picking them up and using them.
This site was originally a .com but a year ago I had a slight issue. Luckily I had purchased the .co as well and was able to direct the traffic there.
This is a bug bear of mine. If you search for the best hosting you’ll find lots of people promoting Hostgator and Bluehost. Is that because they are good or because their affiliate program pays $125 per sale? I think you'll find it's the latter!
Let’s put it this way, if you were building a business offline, let's say a nice fashion store, would you build it in a ghetto or in a nice part of town?
Go with the best hosting you can afford; hosting isn’t a cost, it’s an investment. If your site takes off, you’ll need good hosting. You'll also need reliable support for when things go wrong. Make sure your hosting is fast as it will help you get better rankings in Google and it will be better for your readers.
This site is hosted on my own server but I now put all my new blogs on a service called WP Engine. Purely for WordPress based sites, WP Engine servers are fast and the support is excellent but it doesn't matter who you go with so long as you get the best hosting you can afford. In that respect buying hosting is like buying a parachute, would you buy a parachute based solely on price?
The look or appearance of your blog is all down to the theme you choose.
DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THIS!
I’ve seen people get everything set up and not go any further because they can’t find the right theme.
Look, you have no traffic yet so nobody cares what your blog looks like. When you do start to get visitors, they will only care about the quality of the content.
Save worrying about how your blog looks until you start getting over 100 people a day. By then you’ll know enough to make informed decisions.
Part 3: Running Your Online Business (it’s more than a blog!)
So now that you have your blog set up, you have to start adding content.
Enter the editorial calendar.
By this point, you should have decided if you are going to write everything on the blog yourself or outsource it.
If it’s a personal branded blog, then you should create the content yourself.
On the other hand if it’s a blog about health and fitness, there is no reason why you shouldn’t outsource some or all of the writing.
I write all the content on this blog because it’s my personal blog. On other blogs in the network, I outsource 100% of the content to people who know about the topics we cover in way more depth than I do.
Use an editorial calendar to plan your content. Any online calendar will do here, you don’t need anything special.
You should know what you are going to be publishing about 6 to 8 weeks in advance; this gives you time to research and plan the content. There is nothing worse than not having any idea what you need to write about on the day you are due to publish. This post has been four weeks in the planning. Because I had that amount of time to think about it, I knew the layout before I even wrote a word.
For your initial launch content, I would suggest the following content plan:
One pillar post for each category you will be writing about. This pillar post should be a long and in-depth piece about the topic you are writing on. If it’s less than about 2000 words, go back to the drawing board. Pillar posts are the main posts in your blog, ones that you can refer to and link back to time and time again.
- At least four supporting posts for each pillar post. These don’t need to be as in-depth but should be around 800 – 1200 words of good quality, informative content.
You should create an in-depth keyword list which contains “topically relevant” words and ensure that you include those keywords in your content when relevant. I like to create a list of at least 100 keywords for each category of my blogs. These keywords then form the basis of my content.
For example, if you had a blog about dog training, then terms like, “clicker training,” “positive reinforcement,” and “dog obedience” would drive the content of the blog.
In the past the biggest barrier to my blogs' success has been not having a firm idea of the content I should be writing because I didn't spend time creating my core keyword list.
At this point, you really shouldn’t be worrying about how to monetize your blog especially if you plan to use display ads like Adsense.
Seriously, until you are getting 500-1000 or so visitors a day, the income from display ads will be minimal and not worth the effort.
I would also recommend that you seriously consider creating your own products. Almost every blog owner I've talked to or interviewed who makes more than $100,000 a year has their own product. Without exception, everyone who makes more than $200,000 a year has multiple products.
How you monetize your blog should be one of the last things you worry about. Without traffic, all monetization is pointless so why not give yourself one less thing to worry about. Focus on getting traffic to your blog before anything else.
When it does become time to monetize your blog, choose carefully. The wrong monetization can kill your blog before it's had a chance to get into its stride. Do you return to a blog that has lots of pop-ups and annoying ads?
To start with, I would recommend focusing on building up a passive income. Passive income is revenue that works without you having to take any action.
A good example of passive income would be affiliate marketing with Clickbank products and Amazon.
In order of priority, this is what I would recommend you focus on when it comes to monetization. Take the time from initial launch until you have steady traffic to learn all you can about each of the following:
- Build an Email List – Without a doubt, this is the best way to monetize your blog, particularly if you can build a good rapport with your subscribers through email.
- Create Your Own Products – If you want your blog to make you the sort of money where you don't need to think twice about major purchases then you need to create your own products.
- Use Affiliate Programs – Find items that your readers can buy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical item like a juicer or a book from Amazon, or a digital product like a guide to jumping higher from Clickbank.
- Create The Right Content – Aim your content at people who are looking to buy. This can really help you sell affiliate products.
- Create a Membership Site – It doesn’t have to be expensive. A simple, cheap membership site where you supply something weekly or monthly for $7 or $9 each month can soon build up into a nice income.
- Display Ads – Good old Adsense and related products. If you have a lot of traffic, ads can be a great way of building up a steady income. In the future when your blog is successful, you should look at creating your own products and promoting them via your blog, but let's get you traffic first shall we?
Promoting Your Blog
Your blog will live and die on how you promote it. It’s a sad fact that 95% of blogs haven’t been updated in the past 120 days. So it’s up to you not to become a statistic.
There are 2 main aspects to promoting your blog. You want search engines to index your blog so you need to:
- Do some basic search engine optimization on-page – make sure search engines understand what your post is about.
- Optimize your site off-page – get links back to your site.
If you have time, check out the Search Engine Optimization Workshop I did recently to learn more.
For every hour you spend writing you probably should spend 2 or 3 promoting your content. The better the promotion, the more traffic you’ll get. Traffic leads to more subscribers and a passive income over time.
The technical term for using good quality content to market our services or products is content marketing.
Rather than repeat what I've written elsewhere, please check out my post on How to Promote a Blog Post. It also comes with a handy infographic you can print out and keep.
Just Do It
I hope this post has inspired you to start blogging. If it has then start now, don't tell yourself that you'll start next week … do it now!
Become a blogger.
It feels great when someone asks you what you do to be able to say, “I am a blogger,” rather than say I'm an “IT Contractor” or “I'm a stay at home Mum.” Guess which reply elicits more questions and gets conversations going?
If you are going to start let us know in the comments and I am always happy to answer any questions you may have… and I always love people who share posts 😉
Come and Join The Free Lifestyle Marketer Facebook Group.