Starting a blog is still the best way to make money online in the long-term.
It has been by far the most consistent money-maker in the last decade-and-a-half, and it continues to explode.
More companies are realizing the power of having a blog, and they are doubling down on it in the new decade.
And with the tools available everywhere, it couldn’t be any easier to get started and start earning consistently than now.
And if you are at a loss as to how to do it and don’t want to follow old posts, which are not updated to help you get the most in 2020 and beyond, then this article is for you.
You are going to discover how to get started blogging in 2020 from A-Z.
- Choosing The Right Topic – Things To Consider
- Choosing A Domain Name – Tips For Choosing The Perfect Name
- Getting a Web Hosting Plan for Your Blog
- Installing WordPress On Your Host – Why and How
- Installing A Theme and Essential Plugins
- Writing Your First Blog Post
- Promoting Your Blog: How to Get People to Read Your Posts And Follow You
In short, you are in for a treat. So, grab your coffee and let’s get started in your blogging journey.
The first thing you need to think about when starting a blog is what should you blog about.
You can’t blog about every topic that comes to your mind. Blogging is not your life journal.
So what should you consider before choosing your blog topic?
There are 3 things to consider when choosing a topic/niche to focus on:
- Passion – You need to be a little bit passionate about what you are going to blog about. After all, blogging is a long journey, and you will need some time to make it profitable. So, think about hobbies you are doing, the topics you love discussing with others or pages you like on Facebook or follow on Instagram.
- Profitability – You need to monetize your passion to keep it alive. Check other successful blogs in your niche. Are there any magazines? Are there any services you can offer? Are there any affiliate programs or CPA offers? Advertising alone isn’t enough anymore to depend on for a full-time income. I would suggest you to not even consider it, as you won’t earn enough income unless your blog is so big.
- Potential Audience – Having a small number of people who care about your topic isn’t enough to earn a living. And going too broad is a recipe of failure nowadays. Use keyword research tools like SEMrush to help you know the potential audience you can reach.
Here is an example from a wide topic that you could blog about: Career.
But don’t go right away writing about everything related to career. Choose a smaller niche then branch out. In other words, divide and conquer. Divide your topic in small niches, become an expert in one, and then branch out to other niches.
Make use of the halo effect:
When people view someone as an expert on a certain topic, they assume that he is an expert on related topics.
If you want to identify smaller topics, check ‘Phrase Match Keywords’ and ‘Related Keywords’ in SEMrush.
Now let’s see some of the popular blog topic ideas.
Blog Topic Ideas (Click to expand)
- Beauty & Fashion
- Digital Marketing
- Food & Recipes
- Health & Fitness
- Language learning
- Make Money Online
- Motivational & Inspirational
- Personal Development
- Personal Finance
- Special skill
- Web Design & Development
If your topic falls under any of these categories, then move to the next step. :)
You can read more about choosing the right topic and examples of successful blogs in these niches in this post.
After you know your topic, the next step is to choose a domain name which people can use to locate your blog and access your site.
The domain name is usually a huge part of your brand. It is what people think of when they remember your content. Have a strong domain and it can help you grow your brand faster. On the contrary, have a difficult or useless name, and your job will be harder.
So, what should you do to have a powerful domain name?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a step-by-step guide to follow in choosing the right domain name, but I’ll try my best to provide you with tips to help make the process much easier for you and prevent you from choosing the wrong name. Hopefully, you’ll come up with the right one in your hand after reading this post.
Here are some tips for you to choose the right domain name:
- Decide Between Keyword Rich Vs Branded Domain Name: A keyword-rich domain has a higher chance to rank on Google, and visitors know what they are getting when they read the name. However, a branded domain is best to build a brand in the long run. Just don’t make your domain confusing. The best thing to do is to combine both worlds. Think of something like Smart Passive Income. It is a strong keyword-rich domain, but it turned into a powerful brand.
- Make it Easy to Pronounce and Spell – As I said, there is nothing worse than having a confusing name, especially when you are just starting out. Always lean towards easier names.
- Short and Simple Always Wins – Always keep this in mind. It is a follow up to the previous tip. Easier names to remember are always short and simple.
- Go for the .com Extension If Possible – People are used to seeing domain names end with .com. Unless you have a very strong idea of a branded domain with a different extension, then don’t use it.
- Avoid Hyphens and Numbers in your Domain Name – People usually forget hyphens, and it becomes annoying when someone tells others about your hyphenated domain name. People are also used to the fact that domain names are in words, so don’t use numbers.
- Avoid Copyright and Trademark Violation – You don’t want to end up wasting your hard work. Don’t use popular trademarks in your domain. For example, you can’t use the word ‘WordPress’ on your domain name. It is better than having a strong brand and losing it all in the end.
- Singular & Plural – If there might be confusion, buy both and use one as your main brand and redirect the other domain to the main name.
- Availability of Social Names – Social media is essential for the growth of your blog. Having the same name on other social media sites will make your brand unified on different platforms. It might be worth checking before purchasing the domain name. Use this tool to check if your name is available on popular social networks or not.
- Use Your Name as a Domain Name – If you can’t come up with a domain name, you can consider using your name as domain name. It is the easiest way to stand out nowadays. Neil Patel, Seth Godin, and Marie Forleo are good examples to show that your name can be a successful domain name and a brand.
- Use Domain Name Generators – If you are still struggling to find the name, then get some help using a domain name generator. You can’t imagine the number of ideas you can get with a few clicks. Shopify Domain Name Generator, BustAName and Name Bounce are great to get plenty of ideas.
If you want more details about these tips, I wrote a complete post about it which you could check here: 10 Tips for Choosing a Good Domain Name for Your Blog.
But don’t sweat and overthink it. Yes, it is important, but don’t stay in the analysis paralysis state for too long. Pick one and go with it.
Once you have a domain name idea in mind, don’t purchase it yet. First, read through what you need to do.
Once you have a domain name in mind, and you see that it is available, the next step is to get a web hosting.
This is where you are going to host the content of your blog and point your domain names to.
And choosing which web host to go with is another decision that you need to think about. Usually, decision-making is going to depend on your budget.
But if you want the most common web hosting service that new WordPress users most commonly use, that offers you plenty of features for its price, then Bluehost is the way to go. (It’s officially recommended by WordPress.)
It is very simple to use, has more than enough features, not expensive, and most importantly, offers you a free domain name with your host. This is another $15/year saved.
And you get a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.
All you need to do is check out this page with an exclusive offer for RTB readers.
Once you click on the Get Started Now button, you will see different plans you can purchase.
If you are just starting out and only plan to have 1 domain, then choose the basic one.
If you want the extra storage, want to host multiple sites, and want domain privacy, then get the choice plus plan, which I recommend since you can get it for the price of the choice plus plan.
Once you choose the plan you want to go with, simply click on the “Select” green button underneath that plan.
If you own a domain name, enter that domain name in the box on the right. If you don’t have your domain name yet, write the one that you want in the box on the left, then click on Next. Or you can skip it, although I don’t recommend doing so.
In the next page, all you need to do is enter the info requested. Enter basic info like name, email, address, and choose how many years you want to purchase the hosting service. One year is best value when you are just starting out, and you have a limited budget.
Choose from the extras available. Most of them are not necessary. After that, enter your payment details.
It’s a pretty straightforward process.
And you are done.
Now, you have your host and domain name in place. Let’s move on to the next step.
Now that you have your host and your domain name, the next step is to install WordPress.
Why? Simply because it is the best blogging platform available.
Maybe I am biased because I have a blog about WordPress, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
If you’re not aware, 35% of the web is built on WordPress.
There is a reason for that.
It is very simple to get started with WordPress. It is also very flexible, so you can start your blog as you want to suit your needs.
And due to its popularity, thousands of free and paid themes and plugins are available to help you have the blog you want and have the capabilities you need without needing to hire a developer or a designer.
So, without going into more details, I’d recommend you to install WordPress.
And it is very easy to get started with your BlueHost account since you have the 1-click install feature.
Here is what to do:
- Find your BlueHost cPanel account from the emails you received when you registered and logged into it.
- In the website section, select Install WordPress and then click on the install button.
- Choose the email you want to install it to, choose a subfolder if you want to, or leave it blank if you want to install it on the main site, which I do suggest.
- You can edit the name, password, email address and other settings when clicking on the advanced features.
- Check the license agreement box and click on the install now button.
And you are done!
Your site is ready, and a blog page is now installed on it. Here is what to do next.
Once you have WordPress installed, now, you need to get your site ready for users to visit. We will now optimize the look to suit your needs, and have the functionality that you need.
Here is how to install a theme:
- Go to your WordPress Admin page.
- From the menu on the left, go to Appearance > Themes.
- Click on the Add New button.
- Upload the .zip file.
- Click on the Activate button, and you are good to go.
One huge benefit to WordPress is the number of free and paid themes available with different features and different styles, so you are certainly going to find one that you need.
Here are the top 3 themes recommended for almost all blogs:
- GeneratePress – A lightweight theme that is less than 30 Kb to deliver fast load speed. It is optimized for Google, and it’s flexible enough to help you mold it as you want. A free version is available. It costs around 50 bucks to get the premium version, which has more features. It’s already been downloaded over 2.3 million times.
- Astra – Another popular theme that has a powerful free version. It has pre-built demos that you can use and super fast performance. It loads in just 0.5 seconds. It’s highly customizable and integrates well with page builders.
- Schema Theme – Another theme that loads super fast and highly optimized for search engines. Custom options panel is available with MyThemeShop shortcodes and widgets to help you optimize your site with ease. A lite version is available for free as well.
Unless you need specific features, which you can’t get with plugins, then these themes will be the best options to consider.
Now that you have your theme installed, the next part is to have plugins to help you achieve the results that you want with your blog, right?
Here are the top essential plugins that almost every blog should have if you are serious about making money from your blog:
- Rank Math – Competing with Yoast was always going to be a very hard job. RankMath is now considered by many to the top plugin for WordPress SEO. Use it to get higher rankings on Google. Get the free version.
- Ultimate Blocks – We created this plugin to help bloggers to get the most out of the Gutenberg editor and add more blocks that offer features like review, table of contents, tabbed content, call to action, image slider, content filter, testimonial, and others. In short, you will have better content without using any code, or installing multiple plugins. And yes, it is 100% free.
- Social Snap – Social media is an important part of the growth of your blog, and this plugin helps you get the most out of it without much work from your part. You can install different share buttons for different social media sites and place them where you want with the different options available or shortcodes. You can customize it as you want as well. There are more features in the pro version like social login, social auto-poster, boost old posts and social content locker. Free version is more than enough when you are starting out.
- Elementor – If you want a page builder to help you create a page from start to finish and design it as you need without being a designer or touching a line of code, then you need to grab this plugin. The free version blew up fast because of the insane value it delivered. If you need more than the Gutenberg editor, use this plugin and you won’t regret it.
- Thrive Leads – Thrive leads is a premium plugin that is going to help you get more subscribers and leads. Having subscribers is the most important thing to care about. And if you want more subscribers without increasing your traffic, then you need to have this plugin installed. It’s the only premium plugin I recommended for a reason.
These are the top 5 plugins that you need to have on your blog before you start getting more traffic to your site, if you are completely serious about making money from your blog.
Once you have them installed alongside your theme in your WordPress blog, the next step is… Drumroll, please.
The moment you have been waiting for some time has finally come. This is the first thing people are going to see in your blog. :)
So, how to write your first post?
In the menu on the left, go to Posts >> Add New, and you are good to go. Enter the title, write the post and then click on publish, and your first post is published.
But wait a second.
If you came to a blank page and don’t know what to write, here are some things you could include in your post:
- Why did you start the blog? How is it different from other blogs? What do you not like in other blogs that cover the same topic? What topics do they not cover deep enough, and so on? Maybe, make it as simple as just sharing an experiment and documenting your results, just like how Groove did with their blog where they documented how they got to 100 K revenue a month.
- About you – Let people empathize with you. Don’t share much because people are not interested in your story. Share enough info related to your topic, and why they should listen to you specifically.
- Call out your audience – It is great to tell exactly the people who you are targeting, and who would benefit the most from your blog. This will help you build more loyal tribe who are interested in what you share.
- Ask for their help – Since you’ve just started blogging, get them to be part of the process and ask them what they need help with the most and blog about that. This will get them to be more loyal + the data will be very valuable.
- Ask them to follow you on other platforms as well – Great to build your social media following and get people to follow you on your journey.
You don’t need to include all parts. This is just an idea of what to write in your post. Make sure to link to your first post in the comments section, once you publish it to inspire others to get started.
Here are other tips to have in mind when writing for the internet that most new bloggers fall in. Use them in all your posts:
- Make your paragraphs short – You are not writing blocks of essays here. I sometimes write 1-sentence paragraphs.
- Clear and simple language – You are not writing to impress your English teacher. Make it easy to understand what you write.
- Double-check the grammar of your post – Small mistakes make you look less professional.
- Write in your audience’s words, and always speak about them, not you – You are not writing in your diary. It is all about your audience.
And make sure to study the art of writing online as you progress. Check blogs like Copyblogger, Smart Blogger, Problogger and others to improve your skill.
Now that you can write posts in your blog, the audience still have not come. So, what should you do?
Wow, you made a lot to reach this stage. You chose your topic, bought a domain name and host, installed WordPress, searched for the right theme and installed it, installed essential plugins, and wrote your first post.
Take a moment and applaud yourself. You built the foundation for what would come.
The next step is simply to start promoting your blog. This is a continuous process from now on, alongside writing posts.
So, what should you do from now on?
- It all starts with the quality of your content. It doesn’t matter what promotion strategy you are going to use. If your content sucks, nothing is going to save that. So, focus on creating high-quality content.
- Get initial momentum from people you know. Brag about your new site on your personal profile. Email people in your contact list. Message your friends on Facebook and Instagram. Message your connections on Linkedin.
- Have a writing schedule and stick to it. You are still learning a new skill. The only way to learn it is to practice it more. Besides, you need to keep people coming for more content. You don’t need to write daily. One post a week is more than enough.
- It all starts with the topic of your post. Pick the right topic to speak about. Have a unique angle or go deeper than everyone else. Pick topics that are already popular in your niche.
- Make sure your content is optimized for search engines. Rank Math is your friend here. Make sure to optimize your content for search engines using this tool.
- Always share your new content on social media.
- Email your contact list. As I said, your main focus should be on building your contact list. Always email them your content. This will give you an initial spike in traffic.
- Email people you mention in your post and/or tag them on social media. If your content is good, they may tweet it. Don’t be afraid to link to quality resources that cover a certain topic deeper than your post.
- Be active in groups and communities. Don’t just focus on your blog. Give help in other communities or groups whether on Facebook or forums. And promote your blog from time to time without being spammy.
- If you have the budget, boost your posts on social media. It is okay to spend some money on promoting your content if you have the budget to do so.
- Consider guest posting. If you don’t have enough traffic on your site, consider publishing high-quality content on other blogs to get people to know and notice you, then they will follow you on your blog. You can use it to build your credibility in the market as well and build relationships with people who have an audience in your market already.
- Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. Your job is not done once you write a post. You need to be actively promoting your new post. Actually, spend 80% of your time promoting your post and only 20% creating new content.
There isn’t a blueprint to help you with promotion. All you need to do from now on is to experiment. The above tips should help you kickstart your promotion efforts and get some results.
Just stick to your schedule. Publish more quality content. Spend 80% of your efforts on promoting your content and keep trying.
Creating a blog is still a huge process, and committing to making it a successful one is a much longer process.
But now, you know how to get started with the most updated ways to start your blog and get started in shorter time.
What should you do now?
First of all, if you haven’t started your blog yet, what are you waiting for? Read this post from the beginning, and let’s start your journey.
If you’ve already created your blog, make sure to share your first post in the comments section below, and make sure to start enjoying the process.
Yes, it takes time, but it is hugely rewarding once your efforts starts snowballing.
See ya on the other side. :)