That feel when you set out to write a quick post on how to start a blog and instead write an over 7,500 word ultimate guide to start a successful blog. 😂 I should probably break this up into several different posts but you know what… I’m gonna leave it like this and see what happens!
Anyway yes, here it is, another post on “how to start a blog” but I promise you this one will be much different than what you’re used to.
I’ve been serious blogging for a couple years now, personal blogging off and on over the last almost 20 years. This post is basically all the stuff I wish I’d known when I first decided to seriously create a website. After learning about all this stuff, I started to realize how all the popular websites I visit regularly were all doing some combination of these things.
So instead of just telling you to sign up for x host and giving you a tutorial to get your blog set up in “just 10 minutes!” or whatever, I’m going to walk you through the process of choosing your purpose, what tech you need and where to get it, how to start getting your first views, and what you should expect from a brand new blog.
Basically all that stuff you don’t learn when you land on a page that helps you setup WordPress on *insert web host here*and then you’re left wondering “now what?” or “why am I not getting thousands of visitors right now?”
What you need to start a successful blog
For each section below, I’ve given a Priority Score for how important it is that you should have that thing, 1 being “you shouldn’t run a blog without it” and 5 being “you don’t have to have this, but it would really help.”
This is quite a lengthy post, so you can also download this post as a PDF to read later. Otherwise, here’s a quick table of contents reference to help you skip around if this isn’t your first time reading this.
A serving purpose
The number one thing that separates “popular blogs” from “not so popular blogs” is this one thing at its core; the purpose of the website. The most popular blogs serve some sort of purpose beyond someone just sharing their life stories.
I’m not saying your life story isn’t important, but rather that you need to find a way to share it that speaks to that little part of us that’s always a bit selfish and mostly cares about how things apply to our lives. People want to be able to connect their own experiences to other things they’re reading.
You should also be forming your posts around what people are searching for rather than just any random idea you come up with. You can still use the idea, but do some research ahead of time to see how people search for that topic and what they really want to know about it. You can do this through keyword research, which I’ll go over later, and simply asking people what they want to know through surveys or in Facebook groups or other social sites.
Once you have an idea of what type of blog you want, you should then come up with a name for it. The best names are unique, easy to spell, and easy to remember. Bonus points if you can come up with an interesting pun or clever way to spin your purpose or mission.
For example, my blog name, Modern Biz Magic, clearly outlines that I’m talking about “modern businesses.” It’s a name that can grow as time changes. “Magic” refers to the Arthur C. Clarke quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” All together, “Modern Biz Magic” conveys the goal behind my website: demystifying the technology used to manage online businesses as well as unique business opportunities made possible by technology.
Even if you’re not great at those sort of names (this is definitely NOT my first blog or blog name), sometimes the best name is simply your own name or just something that clearly states what people should expect on their visit.
Using your own name is great if you plan on being the face of your brand. So for example, personal/lifestyle blogs or portfolio type blogs where your goal is to attract new clients.
A blogging platform is what you use to manage your blog. There are a variety of options available depending on how much you want to spend, how much tech you want to work with, and if you plan on using your blog for commercial purposes.
Free vs Paid
Free blogs are good for those who don’t plan on using their blog commercially. This is for people who just want to start a personal blog or friends and family or to gather their thoughts. Free platforms are often restricted in ways that either make it difficult to customize your site so you can do things like use ads or sponsored content or require you to upgrade to a paid plan to enable monetization.
If you’re unsure what you really want to blog about or feel like you just wanna try it out for a little bit, you may want to stick with a free blog until you’ve decided you do really enjoy blogging. If you know for sure you’re going to commit to this blogging thing, get your own paid space right away.
Having your own website that you control, either managed by the platform or by yourself, will give you access to much greater customization options and monetization. You have much greater freedom in how you present your content, better control over SEO, and will be able to sell your own products or accept sponsored posts on your own terms.
What I don’t recommend is starting a personal blog and “waiting to see if it gets popular” before deciding to get serious about blogging. A blog getting popular just by pure luck is unlikely, especially today when there are so many other bloggers out there. If you want your blog to be popular, work for it from the beginning. If you don’t, then you can just do whatever whenever you like.
Popular Blogging Platforms
WordPress is the most popular website platform out there and is available for free to use on your own server or 100% for free with WordPress.com.
If you’re looking to start a simple personal blog and don’t plan on making money with it, WordPress.com is a good place to start. For commercial websites, you’ll want to go self-hosted instead.
While monetization is possible with WordPress Premium and Business plans, these cost more than the cheapest available self-hosting plans and you’ll be limited to using ads platforms allowed by WordPress.com.
Self-hosted WordPress is a version of WordPress that’s hosted on your own server, which you rent monthly or yearly from a web host. The advantage to this is that you have complete power over customization. That also comes with the responsibility of managing your site and server yourself or paying someone who can.
Usually, this isn’t a huge issue and most web hosts provide the proper support and will help you out. Some hosts are better at that than others. I’ll get into that later in the Web Hosting section of this post, though.
You don’t have to be super tech savvy to run a self-hosted site, but there are some things you can do if you’re worried about running it yourself. Keep regular backups available (your host should have backup capabilities available and up can also use the UpDraft plugin), install a security plugin (I use Wordfence), and try to use as few plugins as possible to keep the chances of one plugin breaking another low.
With all that out of the way, self-hosted WordPress is definitely the way to go if you want to use WordPress. You can monetize whenever you want and it’s much cheaper than upgrading to a business plan on WordPress.com. You’ll also have access to a larger variety of themes and plugins.
Blogger is another popular free option owned by Google. I admit, I don’t really have much personal experience with Blogger recently, but I know it’s more open for theme customization if you know your way around HTML.
Medium works great both as a main blogging platform as well as a place to syndicate content that’s already on your main website. The benefit of using Medium is that there’s already an audience available there. People visit the site with the intention of reading articles. Being active in the community can boost your views really easily.
The best part is that you can also monetize any of your content that qualifies for the Medium Partner Program. When subscribed Medium members engage with your Partner Program enabled content, you earn a portion of their subscription fee. Those who want to be paid purely for writing, Medium may be worth looking into. Since you can add posts from your main blog to Medium as well, any blogger can take advantage of their Partner Program.
Squarespace is a good option if you don’t want to worry about any of the tech or design stuff. Unfortunately, this means your customization options are limited, but Squarespace already has pretty much everything you need to run a blog smoothly and you can still add scripts for important apps (like MiloTree) when you need to.
Squarespace is great for people who don’t want to worry about setting up or maintaining plugins like you have to do with WordPress. Most Squarespace features work simply and don’t require a lot of setup. It integrates with most popular apps and services natively as well as Zapier, so you can connect it to almost anything you like.
Squarespace can also run your online shop if you sign up for their Business plan or one of the online store plans.
I recently discovered Bookmark thanks to a deal on AppSumo. With my AppSumo Briefcase subscription, I’m able to purchase one lifetime deal each month. After checking it out, I knew I had to try it.
Bookmark uses a system called AiDA, Artificial Intelligence Design Assistant, to automatically design your website for you (while you watch!) after answering a few questions to define what your site will be about and some basic design preferences. After settling on a basic design you like, you can then modify the site to better fit your liking.
This is a great option if you like the “it just works” feel of Squarespace, but you want more control over your website’s theme. I found Squarespace’s theming system to be a bit confusing and frustrating when I couldn’t move things to where I wanted them.
Also like Squarespace, if you want to run a storefront, you have to purchase an ecommerce plan.
Your domain name should be the same as or as close to your blog’s name as possible. Typically they’re the same to keep it easy for people to remember, but some people have blog names that are long and don’t work well as a domain.
Another thing to consider is the Top Level Domain, or TLD. A TLD is the part of the domain that comes after the name you pick; .com, .net, or .biz for example. The most widely used is .com, so it makes sense to try to snag the .com version of your domain if possible.
If you can’t, you can try to use other TLDs, but depending on how memorable your name is, people may end up typing in the .com version and get confused as to why they aren’t getting the site they expected. Some people might give up there without ever visiting your actual site. You also want to be aware of other sites that might be using the same name but a different TLD, especially if the .com version is already in use, for the same reason.
One thing that some people do is register the .com version and set up domain forwarding to the actual domain they want people to use. That way, if people do type in the wrong thing, they’ll still be directed to the right website. This is a good option if you really want to use a different TLD but you’re afraid people won’t remember it.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while creating your domain name:
- Keep it as short as possible
- Make it easy to remember
- Use your blog name or something similar
- Try to use .com when possible
- Don’t use hyphens (-)
- Don’t add numbers like you might with a username (like coolblog52)
- Make sure someone isn’t using the same name with a different TLD
Cost: $0-30 per month
Your web host runs the servers where your blog lives. Depending on the platform you pick, you’ll need your own web host or hosting will be provided along with the platform’s monthly fee.
Free Hosted Blogs
Depending on the platform you use, hosting may be already be included in your service. Free blogs such as WordPress.com, Blogger, and Medium are 100% free without having to pay extra for hosting.
The downsides to having a free blog are limited customization, little or no access to monetization, and having to conform to the rules of that platform, which are often more strict than a paid hosting option.
Paid Blogging Platforms
Squarespace and Bookmark are platforms that require you to pay to use them, so you don’t need to purchase any extra hosting. You won’t have any access to edit or modify the platform itself, but lot of people are happy about this because it means they won’t be able to break something and if something does break, it’s 100% up to the company to work out what’s wrong and fix it.
These platforms work with many other services needed to maintain and market your blog, but sometimes restrictions interfere with SEO best practices or creating a specific look that you want for your site.
Finally, there’s self-hosted WordPress, which opens up a lot of doors to a lot of different web hosts. Picking one can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for and there are a lot of hosts out there with shady business or customer service practices.
For a new blogger, I recommend SiteGround. They have the best price for managed WordPress hosting at $3.95 per month for the lowest plan.
When you purchase hosting, buy for as many years as you can when you start out. The introductory prices for most web hosts are only applicable on your first purchase. The typical price for starter hosting packages is around $10-15 at regular price.
With SiteGround, new customers can sign up at $3.95 per month, then it’s $11.95 per month after your initial purchase period is up. You can buy up to 3 years at a time, so it’s worth it to grab those 3 years at $4 if you can afford to.
For more options for hosting your WordPress blog, read this post on the best web hosts for WordPress.
Priority: Email in general – 1, G Suite – 4
Cost: $0-50 per year
Having an email address at your own domain is important to make you seem professional and committed to your brand and also to send mass emails to your subscriber group. Using a free email like Yahoo or Gmail to send mass emails can set off spam filters and most autoresponder services won’t allow you to use them with their service.
Email hosting is usually included with your webhosting, but it’s often not the best experience to use, especially if you’re already used to Gmail. You may also want to use a third party so you can easily keep your email if you ever need to switch web hosts.
One of the best options for this is G Suite. G Suite is pretty much Gmail and other Google apps for your own domain.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but if you like Gmail functionality and want to stick with something you know, try G Suite. It is an extra cost, but that’s up for you to decide if it’s worth it for using a system you’re already familiar with.
Plus, you’ll get to take advantage of other apps and services that connect with Gmail, like Giphy, Sortd, Loom, or Boomerang. There are a lot of different sales, follow up, and organization apps that hook straight into your Gmail account that may be useful as you as a blogger.
Running a blog is a business. Eventually you’ll be contacting other bloggers, potential sponsors, and maybe even customers if you start selling your own products. Gmail apps will come in handy to help you manage your blog’s inbox.
Building your email list is not a step you want to skip. It will be a prime source of immediate traffic whenever you send out a newsletter. You’ll also be able to present special offers to your list.
To run an email list, you’ll need a few things:
- An email address with your own domain. Most email services don’t allow free email addresses to help prevent spammers from signing up.
- A physical address for CAN-SPAM laws. You can use a PO box or a service; Viabox is free.
- A email service provider. I suggest MailerLite since you can have up to 1,000 subscribers for free.
- If you’re using MailerLite, you’ll also need your website to be already launched or have a landing page ready to be set up to collect email addresses to be put on a waitlist. MailerLite manually approves all sites before allowing you to send emails.
- An incentive to join your list, also called an opt-in or lead magnet. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.
Once you have your email list started, don’t feel afraid to email your people. This is one big thing I regret all the time because I’m terrible at this.
This with website, I’m really putting focus on my email list and strategizing towards my weaknesses. To make sure I email people each week, I’ve set up a ton of emails in advance in a really long welcome sequence. I think this works great for me because it means even if I don’t schedule out a weekly email, most people will get something.
MailerLite is a great place to start an email list for free if you’re not really sure you’re into this blogging thing yet. You’ll be able to send regular email broadcasts but also easily set up automations, so you can send out a weekly welcome sequence or a daily email course.
MailerLite is an awesome service, but it does lack some advanced features. like tagging, which makes it easier to send your subscribers the emails they’re really interested in. You can still sort of “tag” your subscribers, but you have to use multiple lists to do so.
One of the best features of MailerLite include their landing page and form builder, which I’ll get to why you need landing pages in a bit. MailerLite has the ability to create some of the most attractive forms and landing pages that I’ve seen in any email service provider.
If you want to take your list to the next level (or just start out on the next level from the beginning) ConvertKit is a good place to start. Like MailerLite, ConvertKit has everything you need to start, promote, and run your email list. They’ve even updated their forms recently so they have some modern looking options available.
I really suggest you start out with ConvertKit if you can afford the $29 per month just so you don’t have to worry about switching later on. ConvertKit has subscriber tagging, which makes it easy to create and send email sequences to your subscribers. You can even set up links within emails that will tag users when they click on them.
Reasons for people to join your email list
Cost: $0-47 per year
Okay, hard truth time!
No one cares about your blog or your email list. Maybe your mom or your best friend, but outside of people you know (and probably inside as well), no one cares.
At least until you give them a reason to.
That’s what lead magnet and content upgrades are all about. As a new blogger, no one wants to join your email list “just because.” They don’t know who you are. You’re not famous. Very few people are going to think “oh let me subscriber to this person I just read one post from.”
Unless it’s a pretty epic post, I guess.
In order to make it an awesome idea for someone to join your email list, you need to give people some sort of incentive to not only make the effort to type their name and email into your form, but also to decide they don’t mind giving it away to you in the first place.
To do this, you need some sort of valuable gift to send them, like a checklist, 5 day email course, or quiz results. Then once you know what you’re going to send them, you also need a way for them to sign up and receive it.
What you use for your lead magnet will depend on what your blog is about. The best lead magnets are focused around pulling people into the goal of your blog.
I wouldn’t want to offer journal pages or a makeup guide, for example. That’s not what my blog is about. If I were to offer a printable, something like an SEO checklist or a list of things to do before you set up your blog would be better options. Those are still in line with the type of things I post about.
Tools to create free downloads
So now that you know WHY creating an incentive is so important, here are a couple tools you can use to create some easily. You can also use some of the graphic editing tools I’ll talk about later in this post.
This is one of my favorite tools because it requires you to do 0 extra work. Post Gopher adds a button to your blog posts that sends your readers a PDF copy of the post once they join your email list.
This works really great paired with long content and in-depth guides because these are things people may want to download to read later.
I don’t think I’ve created a single lead magnet or content upgrade for Blog + Create, but even on a blog with not much traffic that I didn’t work on for almost a year, I racked up over 500 downloads. It could have been a lot more if I’d actually worked on promoting that blog it all that time.
If you’d prefer to create a downloadable PDF yourself, Beacon is an excellent choice! You can create check lists, ebooks, or resource lists really easily using this service. Wherever I want to whip up a resource quickly, I grab this tool.
Beacon also has a WordPress plugin, so it connects right into your blog. You can use it to start creating your lead magnets using your blog posts right from the WordPress backend.
As my use of Post Gopher has shown, people are definitely willing to download blog posts even if you don’t add any extra value to them, but Beacon allows you to add extra pages and info to your blog posts, as well. Pair this with some resources and affiliate links and your download is now a money-making tool!
Cost: $0-29 per month
All right, here’s one of my favorite thing to nerd out about. social media schedulers! I could go on and on about your different options, but I’ll keep it to three for now.
Two of these are good for multiple networks and one is just for Pinterest and Instagram. Since Pinterest is such a huge part of your mid and long term traffic strategy, it’s worth having a dedicated tool to manage it if you can afford to.
Scheduling out your social media is important because it will save you so much time. There’s enough to do with blogging without having to worry about posting a Twitter message every 4 hours.
Set up all your messages for a week or more in advice and let the software take care of it for you. Then you have more time for creating more content and connecting with your audience.
Hootsuite connects to Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can manage each network and connect them to a variety of Hootsuite apps that help you find, create, or track content for each network.
With the free version of Hootsuite you can schedule up to 30 posts at a time. Otherwise, plans start out at $29 per month.
SmarterQueue is centered around resharing previously shared content. You can load everything up, select different images and descriptions to use for each link, and share to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
SmarterQueue isn’t free, but you can use my link to receive an extended free trial of 30 days (normally only 14 days). Plans start at $16 per month if paid annually or $19 monthly.
Tailwind is a scheduler for Pinterest and Instagram. It has some pretty unique features like SmartLoop, which automatically loops content to Pinterest, and the Hashtag Finder, which suggests the best hashtags for your Instagram posts.
Tailwind is also not free, but you can sign up for a free trial and I can give you 1 month free if you’re a new customer. Your trial includes 100 Pinterest Pins per Pinterest account and 30 Instagram posts per Instagram account. You can also use my link to get a $15 credit for Tailwind to use after your trial is over. It will work for either a Pinterest or Instagram plan.
Graphics and other visuals are essential to creating content that’s easy for people enjoy. Besides obvious things like pictures you use in your blog posts, graphics can be used on social media, in videos, and in any downloadable content you may create.
Your options here are make your own graphics or hire someone to make them for you. Fortunately, even if you’re not a designer yourself, there are a variety of apps and services that can help you out.
Cost: Free or $13 per month
Canva is super popular in the blogging world, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it already or you’ll be hearing a lot more about it as you do more research. It allows you to easily create graphics for your blog, social media, or printable downloads with its simple editor.
Canva for Work is a premium version of Canva that allows you to save brand assets like logos and colors and upload custom fonts. You’re also able to make and share templates for others to use. You might not need this at first, but it does help out if you find yourself using Canva a lot.
Canva has an extensive library of templates, stock photos, and design assets that you can use to edit and create unique graphics. You can even do some simple photo editing or add filters to your photos. It’s often the first stop for any blogger who needs to create their own graphics.
Gravit Designer & Gravit Klex
Cost: Free or $99 per year for Pro ($40 on offer as of December 2018)
Gravit Klex is an in-browser design app that’s similar to Canva and Gravit Designer is a good stepping stone between a Canva-like tool and professional tool like Photoshop or Illustrator. These are both free to use, so they’re good options if you’re looking for something free but with more control over design assets. The only downside is that there aren’t as many templates available as there are for Canva.
Gravit Designer runs in your browser and also has a desktop app. If you have the Pro version, you can use it without being connected to the internet.
Cost: $10 per month
Photoshop is a cheaper option than Canva for Work, but due to it’s ability to do just about everything, it’s often confusing for new people to get into.
It’s worth learning some basics for though because then you’ll be able to use the variety of graphic templates available that are only available for Photoshop. Using templates eliminates the need to hire your own graphic designer, at least until you’re in a place in your business where you can afford to hire one.
Cost: Free if you have a phone
I’ve put this as Priority 1-5 because it really depends on what kind of blog you’re doing. If you blog is focused on real life images, like food or fashion, you’re more likely to need your own photos than someone like me who basically only uses screenshots.
Fortunately, there’s no need to go out and buy a big expensive camera before you start blogging. You probably have a photo and video capable camera that fits right in your pocket, your phone!
The most important thing in making any photo look nice is good lighting. As long as your shot has enough light, your photos won’t come out looking grainy. Each newer phone that comes out has better low light camera functionality, so you’ll have more a bit more leeway with lighting the newer your phone is.
Once you’re more settled into blogging, you can make the decision to upgrade to a DSLR or video camera if you want. You may be perfectly fine with continuing to use your phone for your own photos and instead hiring a photographer for big photo shoots. Super exciting, right?
Priority: 1 or 5
Cost: $0-13 per month
How important this is to you also depends on the type of blog you have. If you’ll be taking a lot of your own photos, than a photo editor will be necessary. Many pictures you take will need a little bit of adjustment to brightness or contrast or you may want to add photo filters to give your picture a unique and consistent look across all your posts.
If you’re using your phone as your camera, there are tons of photo editing apps out there for you to play around with to edit photos right on your phone. My favorite free app for editing is called MIX (by Camera360). With MIX, you can edit photos of course but also create your own filters, all on your phone. It’s available both for Android and iPhone.
Another option is the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. This includes Lightroom and Photoshop for just $10 per month (+ applicable taxes). Though these are professional tools, you don’t have to be a pro to use them, nor do you need to know every single function of them to be able to edit photos.
If you do choose to look into using Photoshop or Lightroom, learn the basics of the interface first, then look up tutorials specifically for photo editing. Of the two, Lightroom is probably your best bet for something that’s simple to use.
Photoshop and Lightroom also have a mobile apps, but I personally don’t have much experience with them since when I use these programs, it’s usually on PC.
If you’re not able to take your own photos and your content isn’t dependent on using your own photos, stock photos are available to fill the gap for you. There are many photographer bloggers who create pretty stock photos for you to use on your blog and for your business. There are also websites that collect Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensed photos that can be used for anything (barring the typical no hate, no porn, no misrepresentation clauses as anything else) as well.
Many stock photo blogs have memberships or packages that you can buy along with some free photos you can use to demo their work.
Below are links to some styled stock shops that I love as well as some CC0 stock sites. Be sure to check the licensing for each site so you know what is and isn’t allowed.
- Ivory Mix
- Haute Stock
- SC Stockshop
- Fempreneur Styled Stock
- She Bold Stock
- Styled Stock
- Styled Stock Society
High quality blog posts
Quality is definitely way better than quantity when it comes to blogging. High quality posts get the most long term attention. They’re more likely to be shared by readers and linked in other blog posts. Good blog posts will eventually help promote themselves!
Think about this post for example. Just how much better is it than all those other blog posts you’ve read about starting a blog? How much have you learned from this post compared to those other posts? How likely are you to refer people to this post other another post that only contains the most basic info on how to install WordPress on a certain web host?
Every blog post you write doesn’t need to be 3924083920 words with detailed examples of everything. You should have a few core posts that are packed with information, designed to bring in the most traffic then funnel it out to other related blog posts you have. These are called “cornerstone posts.”
Your cornerstone posts should be centered around popular questions people ask about your topic and link out to other pages on your blog that go into more detail on specific subjects. You should also keep these posts updated so you can add links to new posts or make sure you’re providing the most relevant information.
No traffic is every bloggers nightmare, but many have the wrong idea about getting it. It doesn’t come automatically. You have to work to bring traffic into your blog, especially as a new blogger. No one knows about your blog, so no one will be reading your first posts if you don’t.
This is where most new bloggers get discouraged. They assume just because they set up a website and that they saw someone else say they got 1,000 visits their first day that they will too.
Let me clear something up for you: 1,000 visits your first day is not typical! Especially if you’re doing anything to advertise yourself, and that doesn’t mean you have to spend money on ads either.
Don’t ever let yourself feel bad because your results are different from someone else’s. You have no idea what they’ve done behind the scenes, what contacts they already had, etc.
Instead of just writing and waiting, search out traffic every time you create a post. Use social media and optimize posts for search engines to pick up (SEO). All this can be done organically, which means without having to pay for it (as in not using ads).
Facebook, Pinterest, and Google are three places you can pick up organic traffic and every blogger should take advantage of them. You’ll be able to get immediate as well as long term traffic by mixing these three together.
Facebook is the best for getting traffic immediately after creating a new post or whenever else you want. The trick is to use groups to your advantage, rather than just posting to your own wall or the Facebook page for your blog.
When posting to groups, the best way to get the most interested viewers is to help people out with their questions and use your blog post to provide more information on your answer. Don’t just throw blog post up and expect people to read it (though there are some groups especially for bloggers where you can do this).
I suggest joining a few groups for bloggers and online business owners as well as some more aligned with what you blog about. Become an active member, ask questions, and share your own journey or expertise.
Other people will become more familiar with you and may become new fans or even friends. Eventually you may want to start your own own group and some of these people you’ve connected with may become your first members. Facebook is a really great place to network with people, rather they’re potential fans, customers, or other bloggers you may want to collaborate with.
Notice on Facebook Posts:
When posting links to Facebook, you have to be really careful. If you post too many links in too short of time, Facebook will start automatically deleting your posts with links in them for awhile. To avoid this, I only post 2 link posts every hour or two. I haven’t seen this effect wall posts, but I know for sure it will affect your replies to others’ posts.
Blog Traffic Community
Blog Traffic Community is a network of bloggers who work together to share each other’s blog posts. It works like most Facebook promo day threads, but you don’t have to worry about Facebook’s spam filters deleting your posts.
Pinterest is good to focus on for mid to long term traffic. It takes a bit to get started, but once it does, it’s a huge traffic source for many bloggers. With a good strategy, you can keep your blog posts relevant months or even years after you post them.
It’s best to create a new Pinterest account specifically for your blog, especially if your blog’s content is drastically different from what you normally post, since circulation of your pins depends in part on how your followers engage with them.
Some basic parts of a good Pinterest strategy include:
- have 10-20 personal boards
- name your boards with keywords people will search for, not cutesy names
- consistent, daily pinning
- multiple pins for each post
- a variety of images and descriptions for each post
- spreading out pins leading to one post to multiple boards over multiple days
- using niche specific group boards to increase visibility
To help you manage posting to Pinterest, I highly recommend using a scheduler.
My favorite is Tailwind due to some awesome features like Tribes and SmartLoop. Tribes are groups of Pinterest users who share each others pins and SmartLoop allows you to automatically schedule your popular pins to loop over time, either all year around or between specific dates for holiday or seasonal content.
Another scheduler I’m trying out is SmarterQueue. This is a good option if you need scheduling to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well. SmarterQueue’s ability to rotate images and descriptions automatically is what makes this tool worth looking into for any social media scheduling.
Organic search traffic (non-paid) is the longest to build up but most rewarding. Having your site on the first page of Google for good keywords not only gets tons of traffic, but can also bring in tons of traffic from people specifically looking to spend money. If you have a product or promote products as an affiliate, this is great news for you.
The bad news is that ranking for keywords takes work and time through a process called search engine optimization (SEO). Many new bloggers find it intimidating and just ignore it and hope for the best, other more experienced bloggers are happy with the traffic they’re getting from Pinterest and also ignore it.
And then you have the people who give up quickly after not seeing immediate results. Getting results from SEO takes the most time to build up, especially since things like how many years you’ve had your domain registered are a factor.
There are many layers to SEO, but there are some basic things you can start doing now that will help you even if you never get super technical with it. Keyword research and link building are two ways you can practice on page SEO (the stuff on your website) and off page SEO (stuff on other peoples’ websites).
On Page SEO is usually the easy part since that’s the stuff that you control, but getting other people to link your site for off page SEO is a little bit more work. The most popular way to do this is by guest posting.
Now that you know how you can promote, let’s talk about when and how much you should be promoting.
New bloggers often believe they should be publishing as many posts as they can, thinking that if they just write more, they’ll eventually get readers.This is actually a big mistake. You don’t need more posts, you need more promotion.
If you haven’t yet heard it, I’m telling you right here and now. Most of your efforts with blogging should be focused on promotion rather than creation, especially when you’re first starting out.
The most commonly agreed upon amount is about 80% promotion and 20% creation. So in other words, if you spend 2 days creating something, work on promoting it for to least 8 days.
Build your audience
A new blogger has no audience whatsoever. Your first step is to build one.
You won’t build an audience by continuing to write and publish post after post. You’ll build one by writing a post, including a for people to follow or subscribe to you, then promoting that post everywhere there might be people interested in reading it.
Having a schedule for promotions will give you an orderly way to promote each post you create. Some you’ll be able to automate, like posting to your own social media and Pinterest, and others you’ll need to do by hand, like participating in Facebook group promo days.
Without a schedule, it might be difficult to remember when and where you need to post stuff. I know I have trouble remembering myself. 😂
Create a promotion schedule
So what you should do is have a set of tasks you do immediately after posting, like pinning to your most important Pinterest board, scheduling a newsletter to announce your post, and scheduling other social media posts to go out automatically over the next few weeks.
Next, start promoting in your Facebook groups. Many groups for bloggers have certain promo days, so make sure you know what days those are written down somewhere so you know when to add your posts to those groups.
Other groups allow you to post direct to the group wall on any day. Spread out your wall posts over several days and different times rather than posting to all of them at once. Make a note of days or times when your posts get the most traffic back to your blog so you can post on those days/times again in the future.
Add in any other places you know of to help promote your content. These aren’t the only traffic strategies out there, but they’re probably the easiest for new bloggers to get started with. Good luck!
What to expect as a new blogger
If all this seems like it’s a lot of work, that’s because it is. You can’t set up a popular and profitable blog in just 20 minutes. It’s going to take work to create content, figure out what people want to read, and build up your audience.
While you can create a blog about pretty much anything, the truth is that some topics are more popular than others. You may see one person getting fantastic results right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to replicate their exact results, even if you do the same things that they did.
It’s important to know that’s totally okay. You’re not failing if you don’t have 1,000 visitors after your first month of blogging. That isn’t a typical result. The people who do get 1,000 or more visitors their first month either already have an audience or group they can advertise to or they already know what they’re doing.
Unless they tell you their entire blog-life-history, you have no way knowing what another blogger’s experience is. They could be on their 50th blog (I’m raising my hand because this is meeee). Remember not to compare your own success with someone’s else.
My goal with this post is to give you a better understanding of what tools you need and what step you need to take to create, manage, and grow your own blog. I hope it’s been helpful and hasn’t confused you, but if there is anything you need cleared up, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.
Celebrate your personal wins
Instead of worrying about how much traffic you’re getting and if it’s typical for a blog of a certain age, start accessing what you’ve learned. How have you progressed from 1, 3, or 5 months ago?
- Are you no longer afraid of installing plugins on WordPress?
- Did you finally start sending out email newsletters even though you’ve been building a list for 3 months?
- Have you started plans for creating your first product?
- Did you have make your first affiliate sale?
All of these are amazing accomplishments that if you don’t start your blog and keep it going, you will never achieve. Take advantage of your low traffic months and use them to discover your blogging voice and purpose, if you need to. It’s the perfect time to experiment, become a better writer and content creator, and figure out how to work different tools that will help you in the future.
I’d love to hear from you if you used this guide to build your blog. In fact, we all would!
Please feel free to leave some comments and your URL so myself and others looking to get started can check out what you’ve made.
If you found this post helpful, I’d love it if you shared it with your friends and on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.