Blogging tips for new bloggers to avoid overwhelm and set you up for success from the start. Resources and recommendations I wish I had when I started.
I’m passionate about helping people achieve their dream life. If your dream life includes making money working from home, then you may want to consider blogging for income. It can be super overwhelming though to know where to start.
I started my blog in 2010 (you can read that story here) and I’ve learned the hard way through my mistakes (and celebrated some great victories along the way too). I enjoy earning an income from my piece of the internet and I want to help others succeed and earn an income without having to struggle as much as I did.
So I wanted to pass along 5 simple steps to set your new blog up for success and my recommendations for resources and with the benefit of hindsight, what I’d do now if I could start my blog over again.
1. Decide what you’ll write about (niche blog or lifestyle blog).
Most blogging guides tell you to pick a name first, but how can you pick a name before you decide what your blog will be about? Deciding what to write about may be simple if you’re super passionate about one topic. But it’s a struggle for some. here are some helpful tips when deciding what you want to write about (aka your content).
- If you want to write about just one topic (aka a niche blog -for ex. food, crafts, dogs) brainstorm or mindmap all the possible categories and post ideas you have.
- it’s possible to grow traffic and build Google authority faster since all your posts are related to the one topic
- if you’re super passionate or knowledgeable, it may be fun and easy to come up with new content
- if you’re not super passionate or knowledgeable, coming up with content can be a struggle or limitation to your creativity
- you’re pigeonholed into writing about just that topic so if you want to start blogging about something else, you might have to start a new blog
As a lifestyle blogger, you can write about several topics or whatever you want. Word of caution: pick only 2 or 3 topics at most to focus on.
- you can write about whatever you want.
- traffic growth is harder unless you focus on one topic at a time to build Google authority.
If I had to do it all over again:
I would be more focused and intentional in my blog topics. Over the years, my topics have been all over the place. Right now, I’m most passionate about writing about planning/productivity, books, chronic illness and blogging for income. Still I think that’s too much to maintain 4 topics and show Google that I’m an expert in all of them. If any, I’d love to have a separate book blog with a bookish name which leads me to…
2. Get your own domain name and hosting.
- Choosing a domain name – you want to have a good idea about what you’re blogging about (see step 1) so you can pick a suitable name accordingly
- Take it from me, don’t have an apostrophe in your blog title. Sometimes it’s changed to some funky syntax and “Mom’s” becomes “Mom#?38s” or something bizarre like that because the comment form doesn’t like the apostrophe.
- If you want to make an income from your blog, you need to own your domain name on a self-hosted blog. It’s tempting to start on a free blogger or wordpress platform, but if you want to earn money from affiliates, selling your own products, or ads, you need your own site (preferably on a .com)
- My recommendation: New Blog Hosting* is a small business domain registration & hosting company with excellent, prompt and personal customer service. I can contact the owner directly and receive prompt response and resolution. I use them for both my domain registration and advanced hosting plan.
If I had to do it again:
I would name my blog something related to it’s purpose so it’s clear what my site is about from the name. For example, Travel the World in Books for my book blog cause it’s what I love to read.
3. Decide on a blog framework, theme and content management system.
- I use wordpress.org for my content management system. Others use squarespace and wix but I have no experience with them.
- I’ve heard it said that the blog framework is like the engine on the car while the theme is the paint job and the appearance. I wish I remembered who told me that and I’d give them credit but I don’t know now.
- For the framework, I’ve used no framework, Genesis (paid version) and Kadence (free version) for my blog over the past 10 years. Honestly, I don’t know if Genesis or Kadence helps improve SEO and how Google finds and serves my blog to readers. I do currently use Kadence (free version) as that is what is required to run my current theme.
- Decide the theme. It’s sooo fun choosing the pretty package for your site.
- I’ve gone the DIY route (you can use Kadence to design your site as well). It’s totally doable but it takes a lot of time and then when something doesn’t work, you have to spend more time figuring it out. I am not tech savvy enough, I want to focus my time on content and connecting with readers, so the DIY route was not the best use of my time.
- You can also get a custom made theme for your site. A web designer will make a custom, exclusive theme just for you. Obviously it can be pricey though you will have a one of a kind site.
- My preference is premade themes, it’s the happy middle for a fraction of the cost. I like themes where the web designer has done all the design elements for posts and pages but I can still customize with my font and color choices if I like. This is also a great choice as then you have support from the designer when Google changes requirements or something isn’t working as expected. For an additional fee, designers will install it on your site for you. If you’re a beginner, this is a good thing, but once you start learning the behind the scenes of your site, it is not that difficult to install yourself.
- My recommendation: Restored 316 – I currently use the Willow theme with Kadence and have used Captivating in the past. Their themes are gorgeous and they have great support. They also offer coordinating Canva templates for social media, Pinterest or ebooks too to make it super simple to develop a cohesive brand. If you’re a new blogger, I highly recommend the themes and coordinating templates. I purchased the Farmhouse Pinterest Canva bundle and have my eye on the ebook template too for my next phase of blogging…
4. Decide how you want to earn money blogging.
There are a few ways to earn money blogging, and you’ll probably want to pick a couple revenue streams.
- Ads: content is king. If you just want to write and post blog posts, then ads are your way to go.
- Affiliates: write posts about products you love and earn a small commission if someone purchases the item from your post. Commissions range from 5% to 40% but it depends on the merchant.
- Create and sell your own products, physical or digital
- Provide services
If I had to do it again:
I never have liked ads either as a user or content creator so I’ve only had Google ads on my site for less than 6 months over the course of 10 years. So I’ve earned the majority of my money from affiliate income because I love to gush about planners, blogging resources and books (aka stuff other people created).
But all my time and energy is focused on making other people money and then when those merchants discontinue their affiliate programs or lower affiliates’ commission rates, I lose income. I’ve lost a good chunk of income because of it. I feel like I’m starting from scratch again after 10 years.
In hindsight, I would focus more on creating my own products as then I can both control what I create, directly encourage my customers and keep all the profit. That is the next phase of my blog business, I have tons of ideas and half finished products. It’s time to finish them.
My recommendation: I encourage you to create your own products or offer services as they are more profitable unless you goal is to have a ton of traffic and earn ad income, which can certainly be profitable too. I’d use affiliate and ad income as my backup income source.
5. Start writing content the right way.
Content is king with a blog. You have to want to write. A lot. And provide quality content. And show Google that you are an expert and know what you’re talking about.
Yes, there is a right way to write your posts so that Google finds it.
My recommendation: Purchase this Blog Post Cheat Sheet (and Landing Page Perfection Cheat Sheet) from Learn to Blog. I love a good checklist and Kelli and Crystal from Learn to Blog know how to write blog posts for SEO and so Google can find you out of the millions of other websites. I’m in their paid membership group too and it still all comes back to these checklists. I’ve seen great growth when my blog posts follow this simple cheat sheet (and I follow their advice). If you can only get one, definitely go for the blog post cheat sheet. I also recommend joining their free Facebook group where they go live every week with helpful videos.
Subscribe to my Newsletter and Get Your Free Ultimate Blog Planner Now!
As an added bonus to help you start off great, I’m giving you a free blog planner when you subscribe to my blogging tips and tricks newsletter. When you subscribe and confirm your subscription, the link to the free blog planner and the password to unlock the Exclusive Subscriber Library of planners and printables will be emailed to you.
Please note: you must save a copy of the file to your Google Drive in order to customize the Google Doc for your blogging needs (or save the pdf to your computer for printing). This planner is for personal use only, please do not mass distribute or sell without permission.
Well that’s what you need, my recommendations, resources and hindsight to help you start your blog off on the right foot and setup for income and success. If you have questions be sure to leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to give an answer or point you in the right direction!