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So, you want to learn how to start a profitable blog in 2021?
Well, firstly I want to congratulate you because that’s an incredible idea!
In this mighty post, I’m not only going to tell you how to start your blog. But, I’ll also be spilling the beans with some of the juicy blogging secrets other successful bloggers don’t want you to know.
Why? Because I want you to succeed. I want your blog to do amazingly well.
Blogging was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s given me independence, financial freedom and, above all, it’s given me so much time back!
I want that for you too.
I want you to be writing about your passions and earning an income online from it.
It will take some work and consistency but you can run a wildly successful blog and I’ll show you how.
We’re going to be covering an awful lot here. But, don’t worry. You can go at your own pace if you’re stuck for time.
To sweeten the deal and to thank you for being here with me, I’m even throwing in some completely FREE goodies too.
So, if this sounds exciting and you’re pumped to finally launch your blog that’s been on the backburner.
Let’s get started!
But before we do, why not start a blog with my FREE mini course? It’s delivered in video with worksheets!
Sign up below:
Firstly, let’s answer an important question…is blogging dead?!
One of the most common misconceptions about blogging is that it’s old school and a thing of the past.
People imagine these old dusty computers, floppy disks and creating terribly garish neon sites about Pokemon on Maxpages…or is that just me?!
I digress…with so many people using platforms on social media these days (cough, TikTok). What’s the point in running a blog anymore?
No one reads blogs anymore, right? Throw it in the trash. Blogging is dead!
Well, actually, that’s completely wrong.
The truth is, when I first started my travel blog four years ago people said that blogging was dead then.
In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s been articles by the media saying that blogging is dead for well over a decade now.
It’s a pretty boring broken record and…spoiler alert, it’s all lies.
How do I know that? Well, you only have to look at search engine data to know that blog content is still high in demand.
For example, did you know that Google receives 3.5 billion searches every day?
That’s over 1.2 trillion searches every single year and it’s continuing to grow year on year.
Ergo, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that’s A LOT of people looking for information on the internet all around the world.
With the possibilities then of blog traffic being pretty much infinite. I’d say that blogging is very much alive and well today.
It’s different than what it used to be and it changes, like social media platforms change.
All blogging requires is a little bit of strategy to get your blog content at the top of search engines so that all those people can find your blog posts.
Why start a blog in 2021 anyway?!
Another common misconception about blogging is that social media is king when it comes to earning money online.
Why should you start a blog now when you can post on Instagram every day?
Can’t you earn income and get opportunities by having a large social media following?
I WaNt To Be An InStAgRaM InFluEncEr!
Of course you can do it this way and there are plenty of influencers who do and are killing it in the game.
But, the thing is. Putting all your eggs into one basket by running your business on one social media platform is a huge risk.
Even those influencers at the very top know that there is a risk that one day their business will go down the toilet.
So, that’s why you’ll find they have multiple income streams and other platforms to fall back on.
The truth is, social media platforms are not evergreen platforms
They’re fickle and at any moment they can pull the rug under your feet.
That fear and scarcity is a huge money maker. I mean, look at how many courses there are about ‘beating the algorithm’ and ‘shadow banning’ these days.
But, I’d say save your money and invest it in a website.
In reality, despite your social media page containing all your content.
You don’t own your Instagram account. Not really.
If Instagram or Facebook were to go bust tomorrow. Where would that leave your business?
Your audience and potential clients or customers would be gone in an instant. Along with all your income streams.
You own your blog and email list
When you start a blog and build an email list, they are yours entirely. You own your blog and email list. It’s never going away.
Another great thing about starting a blog is that you control the algorithm of your website.
You control who gets to see your content.
If you send out an email to your mailing list, you know for a fact that it’s going to reach 100% of your audience.
Not the 5-10% that social media limit your organic reach too…on a good day!
You won’t have to pay for advertising to ensure that your content is seen either. You get it out there for free.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Don’t make the same mistake I did
When I first started my blog, I made the fatal mistake of putting all my time into growing my Instagram account.
I would spend hours every day on the platform believing that one day brands would contact me and pay me to post.
But, the thing is, that day never really came.
I put hours of sweat equity into Instagram and got very little out of it. Next to no blog traffic, even with the swipe up link and very little income.
It was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my blogging journey.
I didn’t realise I could start getting traffic and earning money from my blog on day one.
Now, I don’t even use social media hardly and still continue to grow my traffic and earn a living.
Looking back, I wish I had worked on my blog from the start.
I should have spent my time on a strategy for driving traffic, building my email list and income.
It would have saved me so much time and eliminated any doubt that making an icome online was possible!
It’s more important than ever to start a blog in 2021
That’s why I believe it’s super important to start a blog in 2021 even if you plan on using social media as well.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to build authority in your niche and promote your business.
But it shouldn’t be your only platform.
You own your blog, you control who sees the content and you can make money with it right away.
And also, one last thing. Possibly, the most important thing is…
Blogging is fun!
You get to make money writing about what you love. Plus, you get to make friends with other bloggers who do the same things you do!
What could be better than that?
How to start a profitable blog in 2021
By now you’re probably thinking, I’m sold! Just tell me how to actually do the thing..
So, let’s get onto the actual doing…Here’s how to start a profitable blog in 2021.
First up, sign up for my FREE mini course!
Shameless plug, I know.
But, I can’t exactly write a whole post about how to start a blog when I have an entire mini masterclass on doing just that!
My mini course is called The Blog Launch and it kind of does what it says on the tin.
It’s a tiny but mighty course that will help you get your blog launched in just four steps!
So, in under one hour you’ll have your brand new shiny blog set up on WordPress! Cool, huh?
Plus, if you sign up to my course, it’s going to feel like Christmas as you’ll get lots of FREE bonuses too.
- A FREE 12-month blog planner to plan your first year of blogging
- A BONUS Blog Essentials Handbook with all the checklists you could ever need in setting up your WordPress site
- Plus, instant access to my Freebie Vault which is packed full of exclusive blogging goodies like ebooks, worksheets and templates!
You’re probably thinking though, what’s the catch?
There is no catch!
No gotchas. No price tags. Not even an upsell. Just a freebie from me to you.
Why? Because I feel that passionately about making sure you have a blog set up and you’re not relying on social media to build your business.
Seriously, I’ll be stood on my soapbox shouting about it until the end of time.
It’s a freebie so there’s no commitment.
You can always unsub if you don’t like my teaching style. Hey, I get it, learning is different for everyone.
If you’re interested and ready to get your blog on the road, sign up for ‘The Blog Launch’ below!
1. Choose Your Niche
Second order of business, let’s discuss something called a niche.
Whether you pronounce it ‘Neesh’ or ‘nitch’ – your blog needs one.
Especially now, with thousands of blogs being created every single day.
There is lots of competition out there and so narrowing down your blog topic is important if you want to drive traffic.
Finding a niche will also help you with your branding, knowing who your ideal audience member is and it can even help you determine the name for your blog!
Read more: How to Choose Your Blog Niche in 5 Easy Steps with a FREE cheatsheet!
So, what is a niche?
A niche by dictionary definition means;
‘a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.’ or ‘Denoting products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.’
The key word here is specialised.
In plain speaking, when it comes to blogging, it means choosing a specialised subject matter that you are knowledgeable in that will help your blog stand out from the competition!
Why is a niche so important?
There are approximately 500 million blogs out there in the world today. Also, 1.7 billion websites in existence!
So, when it comes to your blog, niching down your subject matter is really important and it can make or break your blogging success.
When your blog specialises in a certain subject, it can really help you stand out from the crowd and it’s easier to build authority in that particular niche.
This is simply as you’ll have more posts about it than anyone else!
Another thing is that Google loves to know what your site is all about.
So, if your site writes about everything under the sun. They are also not going to know what sort of audience or traffic to send your way.
See your blog like a boutique that specialises in a certain subject. Not a Wallmart that has everything.
Beyond all the traffic and Google benefits. The most important thing about choosing a niche is knowing who your ideal reader is.
Most of the time, your audience will visit your site to answer a question of theirs or solve a pain point.
So, choosing a niche can also help you identify your ideal reader and how you can help them.
Knowing your ideal reader through your niche
A lot of blogging is about solving problems and answering questions.
As a rather apt example, you’re visiting this blog post as you want to know how to start a profitable blog 2021!
So, if my post solves your issue for you, that’s my job done.
My job as a blogger is to get you from A-B. To solve your issue as quickly as possible.
In technical terms, this blog post is ‘transformative content’.
To be even more freaky, I knew who you were before you came onto my page.
Because I found my niche before I set up this blog and I knew how to target you as a my ideal reader. Plus, I performed SEO research.
You’re somebody, I predict female, who is looking to start a blog and get help with blogging!
I know it sounds crazy. But, I’m not a fortune teller.
I also don’t have some FBI level stalker skills.
The truth is, it came from doing a blog niche exercise that I call ‘The Niche Formula’.
It’s a 5-step process to help you identify your blog niche and your ideal reader.
When you know who your ideal reader will be, you’ll be able to speak to them like you’ve read their minds.
So, your engagement will be higher, traffic will flow, Google will love you etc..
Interested in knowing your blog niche? Click here to download the ‘Niche Formula Worksheet’.
2. Choose a Blog Name
The reason why I’ve put choosing a name after your niche is because you want your blog name to be relevant to your purpose.
There’s a saying we have in the UK – ‘does what it says on the tin’.
The ideal situation with a blog name is that it reflects your blogs content.
This blog name will potentially be your company name, website domain name and will be the first thing a person sees before they’ve even started reading your content.
You also don’t want to be changing your blog name a year down the road.
But, I know that it can be hard to know what to name your blog.
I would definitely urge you to spend time on choosing your blog name but don’t worry too much about it.
Here are some of my top tips for choosing a blog name:
Is it simple and easy to remember?
Don’t make your domain name too long!
Iloveicingcupcakesdaily.com does what it says on the tin, but it’s far too long.
You need a blog name that is around three words maximum.
So, think of one that sticks and is easy to remember.
Does it box you in?
On that note, it’s important to think about the long term of your domain.
For example, picking a backpacking name like ‘Backpacker Sophie’ could mean that you limit yourself to just backpacking.
Or something like ‘Barista Betty’ – What happens if you’re no longer a barista?
You also don’t want to pick a location or age specific domain.
There’s no point in having a blog called travelasiawithannie.com if you’re going to leave Asia.
Or, for a travel in your 20s blog, the blog would have a shelf life.
When you turn 30, do you just stop writing?
3. Let’s discuss hosting and domains
So, you’ve chosen your blogs name. Great.
Now, it’s the time to choose a platform to start your blog with.
In order to start a profitable blog in 2021, you’ll need to get familiar with terms like hosting and domains.
Hosting vs. Domains
So, if you’ve never set up a website or blog before. You’re probably not familiar with terms like domain and website hosting.
And that’s completely fine.
But, if you want to start a blog, you’ll need to be familiar with these terms when setting it all up.
So, let’s go through them now.
Don’t worry if you’re not very techy.
I’m going to try and explain them as best I can;
A domain is your website address or URL (www.blogbizacademy.com).
This is what your reader will enter into the search bar of their browser.
For example, if your website was a house, your URL would be your address.
Hosting is where your website files and content are stored.
Although people can find your website on browsers and from search engines, your hosting platform is where your website lives.
Your server is essentially your websites house.
So, what’s the difference?
Although a domain and hosting work together in order for people to see your website. They are entirely different services.
For example, you can buy your domain from one company and your hosting from another one.
Or, you can buy your domain and hosting from the same company. It’s all down to personal preference.
But, wait, I have to pay to start a blog? I thought it was free?!
I think it’s high time to discuss free blogging platforms vs. going self-hosted.
Having a free platform to start your blog may seem a great option. I mean, it’s free right?
IF iT’S fReE, iT’s Me!
But there are many complications to having your blog on a free platform like…
- Free platforms use their own domains for example blogbizacademy.wix.com. and having a domain name like blogbizacademy.blog.com will not rank high in search results
- You cannot embed Google Adsense links or affiliate links onto free hosting sites. That means it can’t make passive income
- All the images and posts are on the free platforms server. So, if you wanted to transfer your site over to a self-hosted domain after the long term this can be complicated and may cost a lot of money to hire a developer to help etc.
- You have far less control on your site
I would always suggest to go self-hosted straight away and launch your blog with WordPress. There are countless benefits in doing so.
WordPress is the worlds most popular blogging platform and for good reason.
It’s open source and you can pretty much do and create anything with it!
Plus, your website will be truly your own.
Although there is a small initial cost to set up your blog and go self-hosted. It will be far easier to make money straight away and it will pay for itself in no time.
3a. Optional step – Buy your domain
A great thing about going self-hosted is that you will have your own domain.
Although you will need hosting to run your blog. Your domain is something entirely separate.
A domain is the address of your website. For example, http://www.blogbizacademy.com is my domain.
Now, the .com or .org part is called a TLD (top level domain) and you can get these in all sorts of different combinations.
For example, they even have .pizza and .tv to buy as a domain now.
A .com TLD is always more expensive as these are the most popular.
But, when I say ‘more expensive’, I mean around $16 for an entire year, haha! It will be one of the smallest investments for your blog.
Important: You don’t have to buy a domain separately if you do not wish too. The amazing entry level hosting choices I recommend below include a domain for FREE with your package. Head there now.
Here are a few tips when buying a domain:
Is it available for purchase?
So, you’ve noted down all names you could think of and you’ve finally decided on the perfect blog name!
It’s catchy, reflects your blog…awesome.
There’s just one important thing. Is it available for purchase?!
This can be the real kicker if it’s taken already.
If it’s not available don’t let it get you down. Go back to the drawing board and try again.
You don’t want to pick a name that’s too similar to another brand already ranking on search engines. It’s important to pick a unique name.
If you’re struggling, just leave it for now. You can always buy hosting today and choose your domain later!
Check if your domain is available now on Namecheap.
Warning: Don’t pick a domain with a hyphen in the middle just to get around it. e.g. blog-bizacademy.com. These have a tendency to rank negatively in search engines as a lot of spam sites use hyphens and Google are trying to weed these out.
Are your social media handles also free?
The next thing you want to check is whether the social media handles corresponding to your domain are free as well.
Although this isn’t as important as your domain, social media is a big part of building a brand and getting the word out there about your site!
I would use a website like Namecheckr to check this.
This brings up whether the domain name is free but also if the handles are free for all social media outlets out there.
Some you never knew existed!
4. Which host do you choose?
Okay, so now let’s look at some beginner blog hosting options.
So, what are you best options when choosing a self-hosted WordPress platform as a beginner blogger?
Well, there are plenty of platforms to choose from but there are only two that I would personally recommend if you’re just starting out.
They would be either Bluehost or Siteground.
Both offer competitive prices for their shared WordPress hosting.
It will be completely down to personal preference and your budget on which one you choose.
So, I’ll go through each of them below.
Bluehost is probably my preferred option to advertise to new bloggers.
Why? Because their rates are incredibly cheap and you get a lot for your money.
With their basic set up plan, Bluehost offers you;
- Hosting at £2.96 / $4.15 a month (36 month term)
- A FREE domain (website address) for your first year of blogging
- A FREE SSL Certificate – so you’re blog is secure and ranks higher in search engines
- A 1-Click WordPress Install (that we’ll cover in the tutorial below)
- 24/7 Support!
That’s around the same price as your morning coffee at work for a whole month of blogging hosting and services. You can’t really get better than that!
I personally really rate Bluehost for new beginners and have been hosted by them myself.
Buy your hosting with Bluehost for just £2.96 a month
When my blog traffic began to grow, I decided to move my hosting over to Siteground. I absolutely love them!
They are a better fit for medium size bloggers. But, if you’re just starting out, you may wish to set up your site on the platform and upgrade your plan as you go.
If not, you can always migrate over to them with their FREE WordPress migration service.
Although not as cheap as Bluehost, Siteground has award-winning support and speedy servers;
With their basic set up plan, ‘StartUp’ , Siteground offers you;
- Hosting at £5.99 / $8 a month
- 10 GB of webspace on a shared server
- A FREE SSL Certificate – so you’re blog is secure and ranks higher in search engines
- A 1-Click WordPress Install
- 24/7 Support!
Buy your hosting with Siteground for just £5.99 a month
Are these hosting plans my only choices?
Of course, there are plenty of other companies and WordPress hosting plans out there.
But, Bluehost and Siteground are highly recommended hosting platforms for blogging beginners.
They are both incredibly cheap and also provide great service. They have everything you would need when you’re just starting out.
Once your traffic progresses, you can always move to another hosting platform or upgrade your plan.
5. Let’s set up hosting on WordPress – step-by-step!
So, once you’ve clicked on one of the above links and are ready to purchase your hosting plan, make sure to follow this walkthrough.
I’ll take you through detailed, step-by-step instructions of the hosting process with Bluehost.
We’ll learn how to set up your blog on WordPress in just one click!
The whole process only takes around 5-10 minutes to set up and it’s really easy.
I’m going to go through a walkthrough on Bluehost. So, make sure to click on this link here and we’ll start!
Step 1 – Start out on the homepage
So, once you have clicked on the referral link above, you’ll be taken to the Bluehost website which looks like this.
You’ll need to click on the ‘Get Started’ link.
Step 2 – Pick your pricing plan
Once you’ve clicked on the ‘Get Started’ button, you’ll be taken to their pricing plan page.
Here, you can choose the option that’s best for you.
You can always buy the basic plan today and then scale later on:
Step 3 – Choose your domain
Once you’ve selected the price plan that suits you, go ahead and click on the ‘select’ button.
Then, you’ll then be asked to choose your domain.
You’ll be able to search to see if the name you want is available.
If this sounds like too much right now. Just click on the link ‘I’ll create my domain later’, then you can continue with the set up.
Step 4 – Create your account
Now you’ll need to create your account with Bluehost.
You can now sign in with Google to make this process quicker.
Or, fill in your personal information through the form and choose a package that’s right for you.
Choosing a month by month plan may be good in the short term, but choosing a long term plan means that you get more savings.
Plus, you can lock in that price of £2.96 per month for longer (3 years!).
See it like a day out or weekend away.. but for a whole 3 years of blogging services!
Under the details form, you’ll then pay for your package via a secure checkout.
Step 5 – Create a password
Once, you’ve paid for your hosting package. You’re nearly all set up!
You’ll be required to set up a strong password for your Bluehost account.
Warning: this will be your WordPress password as well as your Bluehost login.
So, choose a strong password with capital letters, special characters and numbers.
Store it somewhere or make a note of it – you dont want lose it later!
Step 6 – Choose a theme
Next, you can pick a theme from the free options that Bluehost provides.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be permanent. You can switch themes at any time.
There are countless free themes via WordPress as well you can choose from. I’ll be recommending some themes later on in this post.
Personally, if this is going to be your business, I would invest in a premium theme for your site. These will make your site look more professional.
Step 7 – Install WordPress with 1-click
Once you’ve chosen a theme, it’s time to install WordPress. This is WordPress.org.
With Bluehost, you can install WordPress in seconds with their 1-Click WordPress install feature!
Just click on the ‘Start building’ button to install WordPress.
Step 8 – Say ‘Hi’ to your new WordPress Dashboard!
So, once you’ve done that you’ll now see your shiny WordPress dashboard woohoo!
Bluehost will ask you to answer some questions. Firstly, if you want a business or personal site.
As you want to start a blog that can start making money, I would definitely click on ‘Business’ as the site you would like to set up.
If you don’t want to do this, click ‘Personal’.
Step 9 – Click Launch!
Then, you’ll need to click launch on the next screen.
You’ll be taken to the next screen asking you to name your site.
The first box will be your blog name, for example mine is ‘BlogBiz Academy’.
Next you’ll need to think of a tagline. Don’t stress too much about this and just put what you feel for now.
This can always be changed at any time as you develop your blog and grow;
Click the launch button again and, there you have it.
Congratulations – you now officially have your very own WordPress site!
6. WordPress Bootcamp
So, now you should have your WordPress site set up and ready to go.
You may have started clicking around the WordPress dashboard and you’re wondering how everything works.
Well, not to worry.
By the end of this section, you’ll be able to expertly navigate your way around the dashboard and have your blogging essentials all set up.
Say hello to your WordPress Dashboard
The WordPress dashboard can look a little confusing at first. But don’t worry.
I’m going to give you a little summary of the most important parts you need to use now;
- Dashboard – This is the first thing you see when you log in. This whole dashboard can be customised as to what you want to see with summaries of site stats, comments you’ve received etc.
- Posts – here you can see all your posts, add a new post and more
- Media – your media library, this is where you add photos, videos and files too!
- Pages – pages are different to blog posts, these are your ‘Home’, ‘About me’ or ‘Contact’ pages
- Comments – To see all the comments that have been left on your blog
- Appearance – A place to access your themes, adjust menus, widgets etc.
- Tools – for backing up your site
- Settings – to control general, writing, reading settings but most of this is done through your theme options.
A great resource for learning about WordPress is WPforbeginners.
They have helpful guides and video tutorials to help you out.
Choosing a theme
So, now we have looked around our WordPress dashboard. Check.
It’s now time to pick and choose a theme to make our blog look pretty.
What is a WordPress theme?
A WordPress theme is essentially a programme you can buy and install that helps you customise your site and make it look beautiful.
Personally, I would highly recommend you investing in a premium WordPress theme from the beginning.
These themes can cost as little as $2 but this is a one time fee and usually, any updates come free with your fee.
I’d say budget around $50-$100 for your WordPress theme.
Check out some themes on Themeforest here
Questions to ask when choosing a WordPress theme
- Check the theme and how it will affect loading speed on your site. You can use copy the theme demo link and paste it into http://www.gtmetrix.com to see if it’s a fast theme. You’re looking for a Green A! You don’t want a slow site as Google marks you down for that
- Can the theme work on a tablet, mobile and computer – is it fully responsive?
- How much coding experience will you need? Is there a support team that could help you if you have any issues? Your host can’t help you with theme issues or coding.
- How much control do you have with the theme? Plugins can always be installed but really you want a theme that can do everything for you included in the price.
- Is it a secure theme? Does the brand have a good reputation? Is the theme regularly updated?
Recommended WordPress themes
I have had my fair share of bad experiences with WordPress themes.
Firstly, I made the mistake of not going through the checklist above and answering those important questions.
My first ever theme I went with was Avada and it was painfully slow due to bloated code. Later, I switched to Pipdig and there was a security breach!
So, now I’m really careful when choosing a theme.
For my BlogBiz Academy theme, I chose Bluchic.
I absolutely love their feminine designs and it had everything I needed for a service based website.
They are also built on WordPress and all you need is install the FREE version of the Elementor plugin.
I found other feminine theme companies required you to purchase other frameworks like Genesis. So, Bluchic really is just a one time payment for install.
And if you decided to make another website, you can use the same theme for FREE. Most themes run on a one time licence.
They have beautiful made up pages as well as sales funnel templates and it all comes with excellent customer support.
Bluchic really is such a time saver and your site will look gorgeous too!
Click here to buy a theme with Bluchic
My travel blog is built on the Flatsome Theme. This is the number one WooCommerce theme on Envato Themes.
Although my blog is not a shop, the theme works just as well for a blog!
The reason why I love Flatsome is because they have a super easy platform for creating pages. You need absolutely no coding knowledge to build your site.
They are also known for their amazing coding that is streamlined for speed.
A faster loading website means you’ll rank higher on search engines so it’s really important.
It also costs around $50 and you get six months of support with it.
Click here to buy the Flatsome Theme
Designing your website branding & creating graphics
Now the theme only gives you the options in how to customise.
Next is choosing your logo, branding colours and how you want your site to look!
Choose a colour scheme that reflects who you are. But also make it beautiful!
People like to visit beautiful sites and will return to your blog if they think it looks good.
My favourite tool for designing blog graphics is Canva.
It’s a completely free design tool that I used to create my logo and graphics. I also use it on a daily basis to create Pinterest pins, social media posts etc.
It’s the best tool out there if you want to easily create beautiful graphics for free that will keep your branding colours consistent.
I’ve recently upgraded to Canva Pro and I am loving it!
You can easily resize any document with the Pro version so it fits on any social media platform. Plus, you get transparent backgrounds on your images, videos etc.
You can try Canva Pro on a FREE trial for 30 days.
So, now you have your site and picked a theme.
You’ll need to install some plugins that will help your blog run smoothly.
What is a WordPress plugin?
A WordPress plugin is a free or premium tool (that costs money) that is a software made of code that can be added to a WordPress site.
For example, there are plugins that make your site run faster, plugins to help your site from getting hacked and to limit the amount of spam you receive.
How to install a plugin
On your WordPress dashboard head to the Plugin option.
Click on this and select the button ‘Add New’.
Then you can search for plugins.
There’s a huge database but only install what you really need.
Plugins slow down your site and could conflict causing your site to go down.
This happened to me A LOT when I first started blogging and I kept having to go into the backend files of my site.
It’s not great and can be very frustrating.
So, now I just stick with the basics and limit my plugins to the essentials!
Important free Plugins to install
- Jetpack – a popular plugin that will speed up your website. It will also allow social sharing options for your site.
- Akismet – this automatically deletes spam comments for you. You’d be surprised how many you get without this plugin.
- Wordfence Security – This helps to block IP addresses that are trying to hack into your site. Even with little to no following, people will try to hack you. I get around 20 attempts a day but Wordfence helps me. Cyber crime is a common threat, don’t let your new shiny blog be hacked!
- Shortpixel – Big images slow your site down. Make sure you install this to automatically compress them and speed up your website loading time.
- Yoast SEO – An important plugin to ensure you’re on the right track to getting your page found in Google. This plugin isn’t the be all and end all of figuring out SEO but it’s a great start and can be used as a handy checklist while writing your blog post to help you.
- Updraft Plus (free version) – If you’re site gets hacked or if you have a coding conflict, you’ll need a back up copy of your WordPress site. You don’t want to lose all your hard work! Your host should keep backup versions of your site for you. But, if not, UpdraftPlus will keep backups so you can restore your website. It doesn’t take long and is priceless for peace of mind!
What you need in your blog sidebar
A blog side bar is an important feature of your website that shouldn’t be overlooked.
When a user visits your website from a social media platform or a search engine. The first thing they will probably see is your sidebar content.
So, we need to make sure that it contains all the information you want users to see with relevant links.
Where to find and set up your blog sidebar
You can set up your sidebar by going to the WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets and look for your ‘Right Sidebar’.
You can build your sidebar by adding a series of ‘Widgets’.
A WordPress widget is essentially blocks of content that you can add to your sidebar, header and footer etc.
Most themes will come loaded with their own Widgets but many of the free themes have standard ones too.
You can add a Widget by clicking on that Widget Option > Add to Sidebar.
What I recommend putting in your sidebar
- An Author Bio – Most people have a title at the top with their name e.g.’ Hi, I’m Sophie’, a profile photo and a short bio. This can be about who you are or what your website talks about. Make this snappy and add a ‘Read More’ link to your About Page
- Your Social Links – You can add a section for your social media icons, add your social links if you have them
- A Search Bar – This is essential. If a user wants to explore your content, make it easier for them with a search bar
- Sign up form – This is where our mailing list module comes in handy! You can embed your sign up form in your search bar to encourage users to sign up to your newsletter!
Later, when you have posted some blog content, you can put links to popular posts in your sidebar too.
But, for now, lets just set up the essentials.
Important pages to create
Your WordPress site comes with two types of content. These are Pages and Posts.
Pages are static content pieces on your website that are not part of your normal blog content or schedule.
It’s important to set your new blog up with some essential pages before you share your blog content or create blog posts.
Here’s the essential pages you should set up for your blog;
- About me page – this is the first thing that a person will probably read after they have found your site. Include everything about you and make your personality shine!
- Contact page – this can just be a form (by WP Forms plugin) if you don’t want to disclose your email address publicly
- Blog page – this will be a page of your blog posts! You can set this up as an archive via Dashboard > Posts Page > Blog.
- Legal Disclaimer page – if you intend to start making money from your blog you’ll need a disclaimer to let your users know how you make money from your blog. This is necessary and not having one could get you in trouble with your affiliate partner (i.e. Amazon affiliates). Some affiliate partners will give you the wording you need, others do not. When you join a new affiliate, always remember to update this page!
Then you can put your most important pages in a Menu for your blog header.
You can build your Menu by going to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Menus.
7. How to write Blog Posts
So, now we’ve now launched your blog and covered just about everything on WordPress.
We can finally start writing blog posts!
What makes an engaging blog post?
When writing blog content, it can feel a bit like broadcasting. Similar to talking on a radio.
You write posts for your blog and the person on the other end of their screen consumes your content.
But, you can never really know if the person on the other end is engaged in your post.
Sometimes you may get a comment in response. But, most of the time, people will read your post and bounce off when they’ve got what they needed.
That’s totally fine. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to blogging.
But, it’s really important that when writing a blog post you’re considering your reader on the other end.
You need to ensure that when you’re writing your posts you have your ideal reader in mind and helping them.
You can refer to your niche formula worksheet on Day 2 of the course. This would be your ideal reader!
What we want is for your reader to carry on reading until the end of your post and then click around your website to find more. Even better, if they sign up to your email list and then share your content to social media.
That’s how you know you’re writing great blog content.
Although it would be nice to think that readers of your blog read every single post until the very end. That’s not always the case.
If your post is not engaging, doesn’t make a good first impression, is badly organised or doesn’t quite hit the mark with the information they need. Your reader will scarper and never return to your blog!
So, to avoid this happening, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Some tips when writing blog posts to make them more engaging
- Tell your story – A big part of branding is referring to your own experiences. These are stories that your audience can relate to.
- Make your writing informal – writing for blog posts is not like writing a book or essay. It’s meant to be informal. The way I see it, it’s like having a conversation with a good friend. Write your post as if you’re having a conversation with them. A big tip is to read your post out loud.
- Break the fourth wall – Are you asking relatable questions and putting yourself in your audiences shoes? These things can engage your audience straight away. It’s like you’ve read their minds and they will be excited to keep scrolling!
- Make your post valuable – You need a good balance between personal story telling and providing value to your audience with information. I like to mix the two!
- Does it have a variety of media – There are plenty of ways to deliver your content along with your amazing writing and stand out from the competition. You can simply insert photos but you can also include videos, infographics and even freebies for content upgrades.
- Make your post transformative – Does this post get your reader from A to B? For example, if their question is ‘How to Make an Amazing Email Signature’ by the end of your post, will they have an email signature at the end of it?
- And, please, please, please. Break up your text with headings and line breaks.
Remember, your first few posts are not going to be perfect. That’s totally fine.
When I look back at my first blog posts, I cringe. They’re so bad!
But, the only way to practice you’re blog writing skills is to keep doing it consistently.
The key is to just start. You can always go back and improve your old posts later.
Overtime, you’ll find your unique blogging voice and it will flow naturally.
The types of blog posts you need to write first
If you already have your niche defined, it’s quite easy to know what your blog posts will be talking about.
But, it can be hard to decide what your very first posts should be.
It’s important to not overthink them, the key is to take action.
When writing blog posts, there are 4 main types of posts that you should be writing in order build your blog traffic, email list and income.
- An authority building post – this is a blog post about a topic in your chosen subject. Writing more posts in your niche helps build your authority and means you can rank in search engines easier. This, along with the right SEO strategy that we’ll cover below.
- A post with a content upgrade/freebie – If you write a blog post, you may wish to create a content upgrade or a freebie along with it. Your user will then sign up to your mailing list to receive your freebie. These incentives help build your email list. You could even use the same freebie on a couple of posts or all your posts if it’s relevant.
- An affiliate post – These are blog posts that contain affiliate links. You could write a post about a particular affilate product or list a range of products in a list. These will help your strategy to make passive income!
I recommend having at least 3-5 blog posts published before you launch/share your blog.
Some will say share with just one but first impressions are important. If they find you have just one post, they won’t look around.
Later, once you’ve built up some content, you may wish to write a pillar post or cornerstone content.
What is a pillar post?
A pillar post gets it’s name from the fact it acts as a pillar for your blog.
These are evergreen and they are usually huge, meaty posts that establish authority in your subject.
They are typically well over 3,000 words long, have media, infographics and videos. Plus, they have links to the rest of your blog content.
You can write a detailed blog post in your subject or a round up post. It’s up to you.
You can mark if your blog post is a pillar/cornerstone content in the Yoast SEO plugin.
In your WordPress Gutenberg editor, click on the Yoast logo and then head to ‘Cornerstone Content’.
Check the toggle to mark the post as a pillar post!
8. How to get traffic to your blog
You could write the most exciting blog post in the entire word. Or, you could write a really detailed, mammoth pillar post in your niche.
But, if no-one is looking for that information or you haven’t performed some basic keyword research. You’ll just get crickets.
No one will find your amazing content and you won’t make income and no blogger wants that!
So, before you write your post you have to make sure that;
1. People are looking for the posts you’re going to write
2. What sort of competition you’ll be facing when writing that post.
Now, bloggers aren’t mind readers. We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what post that will be.
The secret sauce is bloggers implement an SEO strategy as part of their blog writing process.
A basic overview of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is one of the most important things you can invest in learning about for your blog.
Mastering this could mean floods of traffic from Google.
The more people that visit your site, the more you become an authority, rank higher in search engines. Then, that traffic can increase income.
To understand SEO you need to put yourself in Google’s shoes.
Google are the number one search engine because you get a accurate, quick search result for whatever you’re looking for.
Google do not want their users to have a bad experience. So, they only show relevant quality content in relation to a search.
They wouldn’t be popular if let’s say you put in the search bar ‘banana muffin recipe’ and you got results for ‘how to make a cherry bakewell’!
Google has ‘search spiders’ (a real term FYI!) that they send out to ‘crawl’ through your site.
They check for loads of things like:
- How many words are in your article?
- Is the content relevant?
- Is the font size big enough?
- Are you using headers correctly to break up your content? (one H1 tag, H2 tags)
- Are there pictures?
- Do you have a table of contents?
They also search for a thing called a Keyword. You can pick a keyword and slot it in your Yoast plugin at the bottom of your blog posts. This could be ‘things to do in Paris’ or ‘weekend in Dublin’.
What you’re doing with this is basically telling Google ‘Hey, I have a post about a weekend in Dublin’ – look at me!
If Google thinks you’re a good fit and you’re content is good quality, it will rank you higher in the search results.
But, there’s only one thing. You could have the most relevant blog post in the entire world, but be beaten by other blogs and websites that have stronger DA’s (domain authorities).
For example, Tripadvisor always beats blogs (most of the time) as it has a DA of 98.
So, you need to invest in a keyword tool to understand your competition.
What you’re looking for is high volume, low competition keywords.
I like to use Keysearch to find those keywords. It’s a small investment every month but it’s low cost and has similar features to other SEO tools that cost hundreds a month!
How to use Pinterest for blog traffic
Beyond SEO, Pinterest is a massive game changer in getting traffic to your site. A good chunk of my blog traffic is thanks to Pinterest.
It’s not really a social media platform, it’s actually a search engine!
A search engine which is made up of people uploading new pins they’ve created and pinning existing pins to boards.
The great news is you can create beautiful pins using Canva which represent your blog post and post them on Pinterest.
You can set up a business account and ‘rich pins’ to automatically send people to your site when they click on your pin.
A tool I would recommend investing in for your Pinterest strategy is Tailwind.
Tailwind is an Pinterest automation tool that allows you to pin on Pinterest without actually being on the platform.
This is especially useful if your audience is in a different timezone. It can pin while you sleep!
You can sign up to Tailwind for free and are allowed up to 100 free pins!
These don’t have a time limit but once you’ve used up your 100 pins it costs $10 a month. It’s totally worth the cost to build an audience and drive some serious traffic to your site.
Pinterest is not about the number of followers you have, it’s the reach! Some people have a low following and reach millions of people! This reach means more traffic. Tailwind helps with this.
Track your traffic with Google Analytics
So, once you’re driving traffic to your blog. You’re going to want to track all that progress somewhere!
Well you could start a spreadsheet or use the Jetpack statistics. But, I would always recommend installing Google Analytics.
The reason being is that gives you so much more information than the regular WordPress stats!
It can tell you:
- Where your users are from
- What devices they are using – perfect for improving your mobile content!
- How many sessions you’ve had – to apply for ad networks
- Lots more details about how many page views and users you have had – as they are not the same!
Honestly, you don’t want to miss out on this great tool.
So, I would set it up straight away as it will keep that data for the lifespan of your blog.
You can refer to it at any time and manipulate the data in any way you choose!
Read my complete guide on how to set up Google Analytics on your blog here with a FREE cheat manual
9. Set up your mailing list
When I first set up my blog, I really didn’t get the memo about mailing lists.
Why couldn’t I just contact my readers from my Gmail. Why did I have to use a platform in order to collect emails?
Now, looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking!
Could you imagine the upkeep of keeping track all those emails in a spreadsheet?
Also, I think my Gmail would breakdown if I tried to send hundreds of emails out, all at once.
No, it’s far easier and more convenient to use a mailing list platform in order to collect emails and manage subscribers.
It requires very little effort from you as your platform will collect them on auto-pilot from your website. Then, they store them for you in a secure place.
Plus, you can contact thousands of people in your audience by email with just a touch of a button.
Your email list is the most important thing you own as part of running a website.
The people that signed up to your list are your loyal fans and also your potential customers.
So, you need to keep in touch with them often and form a strong connection.
Imagine your email list is like a good friend. You need to keep in touch with your friends to keep them, right?
That’s why you need a platform that makes it really easy to keep in touch with your list.
How to create a blog mailing list
I used to use Mailchimp as my mailing list platform. But, I’m now a Convertkit Convert, ha.
Not only is it so simple to set up pretty forms and landing pages, I can also group my contacts by tags.
So, I could message all my subsribers at once. But, I can also email just a portion of my email list with a specific message.
This is so useful when it comes to opt-in freebies.
It’s all done on automatically so they will send your freebies to your audience without you being involved, even while you sleep!
You can try out ConvertKit for FREE up to 1000 subscribers. Then, once you max out the free plan you can upgrade to their Creator services.
10. How blogs make money
Now, you’re probably dying to ask the all important question. How do blogs actually make money?
Well, it’s not like a traditional 9-5 where you work at an office or shop to gain an hourly wage.
You don’t have to be sat at your computer for 8 hours a day working on your blog to gain your money.
Although most bloggers do.. I mean the posts have to be written somehow.
But, blogs mainly make money through passive income streams.
So, what do we mean by passive income?
Passive income means that you’re not actively involved in attaining or maintaining that income.
Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work on your blog in order to make money.
It just means that you’ll be putting in the effort upfront and then gaining a passive income from it afterwards on auto-pilot.
It means that you can make an income at any time of the day, anywhere in the world… even when you’re sleeping or sipping cocktails on the beach!
I have to admit, this took me a long time to get my head around when I first started making an income online.
It felt like I was doing something a little taboo.
I’d always been used to earning an hourly wage, so making money without working actively for it felt a little wrong to me.
But, it was just a different way of earning than I was used to.
Once, I got used to the fact I’d be working beforehand in order to make money later down the line, my mindset changed entirely.
What’s even better is that I am still earning an income every month today from blog posts I wrote over two years ago!
How to make passive income with a blog
So, what type of passive income streams can you implement with a blog in order to make money online?
Here are just a few examples you can implement in every type of blog;
- Affiliate Links – You can advertise products on your blog and post an affiliate link on your blog. Once a reader clicks on that link and buys the product, you earn a small percentage commission at no further cost to them. Although small, together all your affiliate streams can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars every month.
- Display Advertising – You can sign up to an advertising network and run display ads on your blog posts. You then earn by the number of impressions on those ads. The more traffic to your blog, the more you earn! Imagine if you go viral?
- Digital products – You can create your own digital products to sell like printables, eBooks and courses to advertise to your readers. As these are your products, you control the percentage of your earnings. You can start selling straight away with platforms like SendOwl.
Is is just passive income you can make with a blog?
Of course, there are plenty of active income streams you can implement as well as part of your income strategy.
Many bloggers get paid for sponsored posts, brand collaborations and even ambassadorships.
But, passive income streams are definitely ones you want to work on.
They will be your bread and butter.
The income that comes through, without fail, every single month.
It’s not a scam, it really is all possible with running your business online!
11. Get organised
Wow, that was a lot to go through.
But, now you’re all set up with your blog – it’s time to put all these strategies in place.
It can be tempting to jump head first into blogging and do ALL the things in this list.
But, I would strongly recommend that you take it one step at a time.
Go all in on writing blog posts first, get your groundwork set up, then tackle the next thing.
Make a plan by scheduling your actions for each month. Write down your goals and what blog posts you plan to write.
Then, have a few extra tasks sprinkled in like joining a new platform, adding a new affiliate link or promoting a particular post.
Don’t get overworked by doing all the things straight off the bat.
It’s important to have a strategy when it comes to blogging.
If not, you’ll feel unorganised and overwhelmed and we don’t want that!
Because I know what it’s like when you’re just starting out. I’ve create a 12 month strategy especially for you.
It’s something that you can start using today…!
Download my FREE 12-month blog planner
I know how hard it can be when you’re just starting out with a blog. There is so much to remember and it’s hard to get a proven strategy for growth.
That’s why I created this 12 month blog planner.
There are 28 beautiful pages in this planner that are designed to help you take consistent action with your blog.
It is filled with recommended tools, checklists and 12 monthly pages that have actionable tips to follow!
This will help you to effortlessly follow a proven blog strategy that brings traffic to your blog. But, also grows your email list and will help you make passive income.
You don’t want to miss out on this incredible gift and it’s completely free.
I can’t wait to hear all about your blogging successes in a years time.
12. Last but by no means least, condition your mind for success
When you start a blog, often we become solopreneurs! So, keeping a positive mindset is crucial to ensure success.
Your mind and the way you think plays a huge role in whether your business and blog will succeed or not.
Of course, you can follow all the proven strategies in the world but if you’re not confident you can execute them, it’s not going to work.
I know for me, I start to spiral when I consume too much social media content. It doesn’t help me with my blog growth.
Our blogs are passion projects and we’re fortunate to write about what we love. But, that doesn’t mean that every day is perfect.
There will be days where you struggle or get stuck. But, taking action to switch your mindset is crucial to get unstuck.
You will have to be your biggest cheerleader!
In the wise words of Harry Potter;
“Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more: believing in yourself.”
I’m not one for cheese but I believe you can do this!
So, that’s how to start a profitable blog in 2021!
But, you’re probably wondering – what next?
Well, there are plenty of resources available to you on BlogBiz Academy. So, feel free to look around the site and devour them all.
Once again, I have a FREE mini course you can opt-in for here.
Or, you can sign up for my Freebie Vault!
This is an awesome private resource library that’s filled with exclusive workbooks, courses and templates.
Thanks for reading and good luck! You can do this!