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You’ve decided that you want to start a blog, and you’re excited to create content and share your posts around the Internet. Your mind is spinning with a variety of different topics that you want to talk about. So what do you have to do before you actually launch your blog?
As we go through these steps, I’m talking specifically about starting a blog with the goal of making money. We live in an amazing time where anyone can make money online with hard work, consistency and a plan. You don’t have to be an expert or have a particular degree. You can be a mom, typing away on her computer while bouncing a baby on her lap. I find that so exciting!
So let’s get down to the steps you need to take to start a money making blog.
Step 1: Decide on Your Niche
The first thing that you need to do before launching a blog is to decide on your niche. A niche basically means that you are picking a topic, or set of topics for a specific targeted market. Exactly how niched down you need to be is up to you. You can have a:
- Teaching Blog: You teach people in depth about something very specific. Your posts will generally be longer and educational in nature. An example of this might be a sleep specialist who talks about everything related to promoting amazing sleep in infants and babies.
- Lifestyle Blog: These blogs tend to cover a wide variety of topics. You would talk about things you use in your daily life.
- Niche Blog: This is a blog where you talk to a very specific group of people or interests. Maybe you blog about all things fashion or home organization. All of your blog posts center around your niche topic.
- Journey Blog: This is a blog where you share your journey towards a goal. Examples of this would be weight loss, paying off a large amount of debt, growing a blog from $0 to profitable, etc. People follow along in your journey to watch your progress and learn from what you’re doing.
You may be struggling with what exactly you want to blog about, and believe me, I understand. I consider myself multi passionate and really struggled to choose my niche. Some things you can ask yourself as you decide what to blog about are:
- What do you want to be known for? When people hear your name or your blog’s name, what do they associate with you. For me, I primarily want to be seen as an expert in personal finance to include making money from home, budgeting, and saving money.
- Who do you want to speak to? It’s so much easier to speak directly to a specific group of people rather than shouting out to the masses. You can better tailor your content to the needs of your audience when you know who they are. I gear my content to moms with younger children who either stay-at-home with their kids or would like to. I chose this target market because it’s the one I’m also a part of. It’s easy for me to speak to the challenges this group experiences, because I experience many of the same things on a daily basis.
- What do your closest friends and family come to you for? Do they consider you a subject matter expert in something? This particular question really helped me narrow my focus for this blog.
- Can your topic evolve with you over time as you and your family grow and change? Are you going to want to continue talking about breastfeeding and infant sleep when your kids are in elementary school? It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about these things now, but think about how your blog will evolve over time.
- If you plan to monetize your blog, how are others in your niche making money? If you’re not sure how bloggers actually make money, I wrote a post on all the different ways that you can monetize your blog. Do any of these strategies fit into your blog plan?
Even if you don’t want to choose a narrow, tightly niched topic, I encourage you to pick areas of focus so that you become known for a specific topic or set of related topics.
Step 2: Sign Up for Hosting and Choose Your Domain Name
If you want an in depth tutorial on how to set up a website with WordPress, you can read my step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog from scratch.
Believe me that you CAN start a blog on a budget, but it’s really important that you set it up the right way from the beginning if you want to make money. There are other platforms like Blogger, Squarespace, and Wix, but these don’t allow for the same customization that you’ll find with a WordPress blog. Additionally, since most professional bloggers use WordPress, you’ll find a lot more tutorials and other support to help you along on your journey.
Now that you’ve decided on WordPress, you will need hosting. Hosting is essentially where your blog lives and makes it viewable to others. Before starting this blog, I had two other blogs hosted by another company, and it was a terrible experience. The customer service was horrible, and they were not helpful when I had issues. When I started Let’s Talk Mom Business, I did a lot of research on hosting companies and decided on Siteground. They are reliable, supportive, and easy to use, which is so important when you’re getting started or when problems arise.
If you want to see the exact plan that I chose and why, you can read my tutorial HERE.
When you set up your hosting, you will need to choose a domain name for your site. If you’re anything like me, you may be tempted to get hung up on this part. Don’t let trying to decide on a domain name slow down your blog launch. I promise you that the name of your blog isn’t the most important thing. Just make sure that it’s easy to spell, easy to remember, and not too long.
If you want a little bit of help brainstorming, there are free blog name generators you can play around with. Try a few of these out:
Even if you don’t love anything that these generate, it might give you some ideas.
Step 3: Design Your Website
So now the fun part! I had a ton of fun designing my website, and I’m no graphic designer. I have absolutely zero background in website design, but I was able to create something that I’m really happy with. I KNOW you can do the same!
My biggest warning to you as you get started designing your website is to not let it distract you from the things that will actually make you money blogging. Having a perfect website is not what earns you income. Your primary focus needs to be on content creation and promotion. Web design can always be tweaked and changed down the road. Done is better than perfect!
When you’re ready to design your site, you will need to pick a theme. There are some great free themes if you are trying to get started on a budget. You can simply Google “free WordPress themes” to find one that fits your style. The most important thing is that the theme you choose is mobile-friendly. Most people are looking at blogs on their phones, so it’s imperative that your blog is prepared for this.
If you’re ready to invest in a paid theme, you have a ton of different options. For a previous blog I ran, I switched between Pretty Darn Cute and Restored316. Both had amazing feminine themes and great customer support. To run a theme on your WordPress blog, you will need the Genesis framework along with the child theme you purchase
For Let’s Talk Mom Business, I use Divi by Elegant Themes. I initially purchased the one-year membership so that I could make sure I liked it, but I have since moved on to the lifetime membership. A few of the things that really won me over with Divi include:
- Easy to use drag-and-drop customization
- Great support and tutorials to help you get started
- No need to purchase the Genesis framework in addition to the theme
- You can create your own landing pages for freebies and sales without investing in another paid membership. You can add countdowns, buttons, and other customizations for a professional looking landing page without additional expense.
- Email opt-in with the Bloom Plugin allows you to capture emails anywhere on your site with a professional look. You can easily integrate it to Mailerlite or Mailchimp if you’re using their free plan as you get started.
My main reasons for choosing Divi really came down to the fact that I could customize it, and I didn’t have to invest in other services to make my site look professional as I got started.
Step 4: Choose a Logo and Brand Colors
If you’re looking for a logo, you can create it yourself with programs like Canva or PicMonkey. Your logo doesn’t have to be anything super fancy as you get started. If you want something that looks really professional but doesn’t break the bank, I recommend looking at Creative Market. You can search for logos and even have designers customize one for you.
When it comes time for branding, I recommend spending some time looking at what catches your eye and appeals to you. I’m not a graphic designer, but I spent a lot of time looking at my favorite blogs to see what colors and fonts they were using. I also scrolled through Pinterest and took note of what made me stop scrolling. Did they have things in common?
Once you choose your colors, save the color codes so that you can easily apply your brand colors to anything that you create.
Step 5: Create Pages for Your Blog
You have a lot of freedom with your blog layout and design, but there are a few key pages that you want to have in place before you launch your blog.
Disclosure Page- If you make money from your blog in any form (ie. ads, sponsored posts, affiliate sales, cash or free products, etc.), you need to have a disclosure policy. This disclosure policy tells your readers how your blog makes money and how that compensation impacts your review of a product or service.
Contact Page- A contact page gives your readers and potential sponsors an easy way to get in touch with you. If you go to your dashboard, click “Plugins” and search for a contact form, you’ll find a variety of options. The most common one you’ll see on blogs is the Contact Form 7 plugin.
I also always recommend that you list your direct email address somewhere on your contact page for those who prefer a direct line of communication. I created a professional looking email address (Sarah@letstalkmombusiness.com) using GSuite for $6 per month.
About Me Page- The about me page is one of the most undervalued pages on most blogs. This is the place to let your personality shine and introduce yourself to your readers. In a crowded blogosphere, this is your chance to show how you stand out from those doing something similar to you. Make sure to include:
- Pictures so that your readers get to know the face behind the blog posts.
- Fun facts about you that make you unique and personable. This helps to build relationships with your readers.
- What makes you an authority within your niche. This could be your degree, your life experience, statistics, relatable stories, etc.
- Where to find you on social media. I like to include the platforms that I’m most active on and what to expect when they get there.
- The opportunity to opt-in to your email list.
You can take a look at my about me page to see how I formatted mine and what information I included!
Step 6: Write at Least 5 Pillar Posts
Pillar posts are the core content that will most likely always be relevant. These posts tend to be very well researched, long-form content full of information that people will want to reference again and again. You can format these posts in a few ways that make them easy to read and highly engaging:
- Ultimate Guides | Definitive Guides | How-tos- These posts go in depth on a specific subject matter. Here are a few examples on this blog:
- List Posts- Readers love these posts, because they are really easy to digest and scan quickly. Most blog readers are scanning your posts, so these allow you to easily highlight key points.
- Tool and/or Resource Posts- You can provide an easy to read list of all your best tools and resources. This is also a great place to put your affiliate links to turn it into a money making post.
- Tutorials- Teach your readers how to do something or how to use a specific tool. You can always point people back to these posts as you create relevant content on your page.
Step 7: Create an Opt-in
I recommend creating at least one opt-in before you launch your blog. If you want to start off simple, you can place an opt-in box in your sidebar, but I HIGHLY recommend creating a freebie to offer your target audience in exchange for their email address.
Our inboxes are so flooded with emails and advertisements that most people won’t give you their email address unless you have something of value to offer them. I go into more detail about how to grow your email list even if you’re starting from zero to take the overwhelm out of this topic.
Once you get these things done, you’re ready to launch your blog to the world! I truly feel like getting your blog to this point is the hardest part, and most people quit before they even give blogging a fair shot. So let’s keep the ball rolling!
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