Category Archives for "How To’s"

September 12, 2016

How To Start A Successful Blog: What I’ve Learned Over The Years

When it comes to starting a successful blog experience is everything. I have never seen someone start a blog without any experience and find success quickly. All of the bloggers that I know, who had no experience blogging, started off on the wrong foot. They made a lot of mistakes right off the bat that really affected how well their blog did for months and sometimes even years. I know that sounds like a lot of wasted time, and it is, but it’s also a valuable teaching tool that you can’t get without making the mistakes. And I’ve learned a lot!

I wish I had found a post like this on how to start a successful blog. I was led in all kinds of unhelpful directions in the beginning, and I started a few blogs that did so poorly is was embarrassing. None of them are around anymore because the damage was too much to fix. But, you can benefit from my mistakes! Following are my biggest tips on how to start a successful blog, including some actions to take starting today.

Know Exactly What You Want To Blog About

I’m assuming because you are reading this, you have an incline around what you want topic you want to blog about. If you are not clear, that’s your first step in the process.

This is probably the biggest tip I can give you on how to start a successful blog. Why? A successful blog comes from a clear intent with a clear mission, and you need to know what your blog is based around in order to do that.

One thing I’ve learned is that the most successful blogs are built around a tighter niche. Yes, broad topics, such as relationships or education can do well, but it often takes a lot more work. More targeted topics, such as ‘attracting women’ or ‘online education’ seems to do better in the search engines, and it definitely helps people understand what your blog is about and decide whether they are interested in it or not.

Remember, someone will find your blog because they are interested in the article that you posted or the social media profile they found you on, and if they see a ton of stuff not related to what they are interested in, they will click off and never come back. People don’t have the time to figure you out. Instead, they will just move on.

Going to YouTube and watching videos is a great way to understand what a target niche is. Most of the vloggers base their channels around one or two things. It may be beauty, family, relationships, news, YouTuber gossip, productivity, or their personal life. They make it very clear what they are going to vlog about, and because of that you can easily decide if you want to subscribe to them or not.

Think about making it as clear as vloggers do with your blog. Create a homepage that lets visitors understand who you are and what your blog is about. Let them know what they can expect to see. When you do that, you create much more interest in your blog and have an easier time connecting with your audience.

Also, when it’s clear what topic your blog is about, advertisers will have an easier time deciding if they want to advertise on your blog.

For instance, part of making money from your blog is working with companies on brand deals. If a company sees that your blog is a good fit for their product, then you will have a high chance of getting a deal with them. But, if they can’t figure out what your blog is really about, and there are too many topics that don’t relate to their product, they might be unwilling to work with you.

Action to take: Get clear on your niche topic. If you want to blog about more than one topic, that’s fine. But build separate blogs on each topic to help visitors understand what your blogs are about, and to help you make the most out of your blog.

Have You Built Your Social Profiles?

I know that you came to this article on how to start a successful blog and probably expected to see more talk building an actual blog, but this is the stuff that I know is important to have set up before you even begin to set up your blog. As I said, I wish someone would have told me this stuff when I first started because I would have found success much quicker with my blogs.

First, decide which social media site will be best for your topic. If you are building a blog focused on your personal life, then Facebook would be the best platform for you. If you are starting a food blog, Pinterest and Facebook would both be valuable to you, but especially Pinterest.

Pinterest would be great for any food, family, beauty, home, or hobby blog. You can entice people to your blog through your pictures, and if you have some great pictures, you could get a lot of traffic to your blog from Pinterest.

For instance, Pinch of Yum, a popular food blog that makes thousands of dollars a month, sees Pinterest as their second highest traffic source. Google’s search engine brings them the most, but in their last income report, there was less than a 10% difference between the two. Without Pinterest, they would be down over 620 thousand visits! Facebook brought them in over 100 thousand referrals.

Because they are active on both social media sites, they can take advantage of that traffic and convert them into loyal followers on social media that see their new posts and interact with them easily. That’s over 700 thousand potential connections made for their blog. Is that a good enough reason to use the right social media?

The thing to remember is that you want your social media profiles to be clear in purpose too. They should reflect your blog’s topic so that people know what they see on your social media profile is what they will see on your blog. In other words, if they like you on social media, they should like your blog!

The first thing to focus on with social media is building relationships. You don’t need to share your blog in the beginning. You need to establish yourself as somewhat of an authority on the topic you are focused on. The more you tweet, share, or post information on your blog’s topic, the more connections you will make and authority you will build.

And do NOT spam people. Nobody will respond to you if you are constantly sending them messages to buy something from you. Nobody will respond to you if you are constantly sending them messages that having nothing to do with them or their relationship with you. The focus of social media should be to help other people and interact with them. That will help you build a successful profile, which will help you build a successful blog.

Action to take: Pick at least one social network that would work well for your blog’s topic and sign up to it and fill in your profile, including pictures. Then start interacting with other people, making connections, and posting relevant stuff.

Pick A Good Domain Name

At first, I thought your domain name – the address where people will find your blog – had to be keyword rich. In other words, if you wanted to blog about cookies, you should include ‘cookies’ in your domain name. Now, I know a successful domain name is one that describes the essence of you and your blog and is easy to remember.

The best thing to do is brainstorm words that fit your blog. For example, a food blog may use the words:

– Delicious
– Tasty
– Vegan
– Vegetarian
– Crockpot
– Eating
– Lunch

Combining words, such as Delicious Lunch, can help you come up with a domain name that describes your blog. You should use the domain name as the title of your blog (like pinch of yum) so that people can search for your blog by title and know when they’ve reached it by the URL they see. So, pick something that makes sense, stands out, and is easy to remember!

Then, head to a place like Bluehost to see if your domain name is available. Just remember to put your words together. For example, instead of delicious lunch type in deliciouslunch.

Once you find an available domain name, get it into your cart. I’ve seen domain names disappear very quickly, and I’ve kicked myself a few times over a missed name. You don’t want that to happen so grab a hold of it while you can.

Action to take: Brainstorm words related to your topic and combine them to form ideas for your blog’s domain name and title. When you get really excited about a name, you will know that it is the perfect one. Go out and see if it’s available and if it is, get it in your cart! If not, keep brainstorming.

Pick A Reputable Hosting Company

When I first started, I picked the cheapest hosting that nobody else was blogging on. I don’t know what I was thinking about (I guess that it was cheap), but it held me back from blogging success for months.

The hosting site I used was hard to figure out, didn’t host WordPress, and made my life difficult. I spent more time trying to figure out how to style my blog and make my blog work than I did actually blogging. It was such a waste of time.

The right hosting company should make things as easy as possible.

– You should be able to install WordPress easily on your domain name.
– You should be able to ask questions and get answers easily.
– You should be able to easily access your files, hosting account, and anything else you need to access.
– You should be guaranteed a lot of uptime (time your blog is live for people to see) so that your blog doesn’t go down and miss valuable traffic.

It doesn’t matter so much about bonuses that they offer, such as $100 in advertising credits. (That’s what got me!) It more matters that they are a reputable business who guarantees your blog will stay up and that you can easily do whatever you want to do with it.

I recommend Bluehost or something similar.

Note: While some people have had success on a free blogging platform like blogger, I only recommend doing that if you are an author or well-known public figure that has a business outside of blogging. If you want to start a blog that successfully makes you money and helps you stand out, you will want to have full control over what you post on it, which means you will need to pay for hosting and use WordPress as your blogging platform. Free platforms dictate what you can and cannot do with your blog, and they can shut you down at any time if you go against their rules, which means all of your hard work will be lost. Believe me, I’ve been on blogger, had a blog that was getting a lot of traffic, and then they shut me down because it was focused on relationship topics that they deemed too risque.

Action to take: Research hosting companies and pick one that resonates with you. Look for uptime, customer service, and ability to host WordPress.

Build A Strategy For Your Blog

Lastly, make a plan for your blog. This is something you need to do if you want the most success you can have.

I’ve blogged aimlessly, not having a strategy or an end goal. Do you know what that did? It made it really hard to find any type of success. Without knowing what I wanted to accomplish with my blog, I didn’t know what topics to blog about, how often to post, how to build a funnel of posts that led people to something (such as a sale!), or how to build my blog on solid topics that gathered long-term interest.

A blogging strategy will help you increase your leads and visitors. And that will help you have much more success.

The first thing you need is a goal for your blog and then a strategy to go along with it. For instance:

– Do you want to make money from affiliate marketing? What type of products are you going to promote? What do they require in a blog?

– Do you want to build a killer list that you can market to? How are you going to build that list? What will get people interested enough to sign up?

– Do you want to get brand deals with big companies? How are you going to make yourself seem like an authority that could review their products? Do you need to do a lot of reviews or a lot of tutorials?

The next thing you need to decide is how you are going to stand out in the blogging crowd. Pay attention because this is a HUGE tip on how to start a successful blog!

If you are offering the same thing everyone else in your niche is offering, then people won’t feel a need to follow your blog. But, if you are unique in some way, and can offer them something that other bloggers can, they will feel like they MUST follow your blog.

I’ve found the best thing to do is be yourself. You are already unique, so you can use that to your advantage. Use a unique voice (your voice!), use unique pictures (your pictures!), use unique stories (your stories!), and if you have a unique approach to your topic, make that the focal point of your mission statement.

For instance, if you are someone who wants to talk about dating, and you also enjoy psychology, then your blog can approach dating from a psychological level. That would make it stand out among all of the other relationship blogs out there. Or, if you are a man who used to be a player but now wants to help women find a meaningful relationship, then you can blog from the point of view of an ex-player.

Use your experience and interests to make your blog unique, even if it is based on the same topic as a million other blogs out there.

Action to take: Build your blog strategy. Decide what you want to accomplish with your blog and build a plan to accomplish it. Do this before you even start posting. In fact, build a posting schedule with specific topics as part of your blogging strategy so that you can talk about things that help you get your blog to where you want it to be.

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May 9, 2016

5 Easy Steps To Install WordPress Through Bluehost



If you have web hosting with Bluehost, and you want to use the best blogging platform around, then you want to take advantage of Bluehost WordPress Installation. Installing WordPress with Bluehost only takes a few minutes to do, and you can be up and creating your new site on WordPress within less than an hour. Yes, that’s how easy it is to do! Bluehost and WordPress both want you to make sure that you can get up and blogging quickly, so they make their services extremely user-friendly for your convenience.

Can You Install WordPress Without A Hosting Site?

I just want to clear one thing up, because I used to be confused about it. A lot of people think that they can install WordPress to their domain without Bluehost or another hosting site plan. However, WordPress is software, and it requires a server with MySQL and PHP. In short, you need a server and a database to install the WordPress files and bring your WordPress site to life, which is where installing the Bluehost WordPress application comes in.

Why Should You Use Bluehost For Your WordPress Site?

Simply put, Bluehost is trusted and hosts more WordPress sites than any other hosting site out there. It is the recommended hosting company by WordPress. It is also the best hosting solution for WordPress for the price, especially for the shared hosting price.

The chances are good that you are taking advantage of their shared hosting plan. That simply means that the Bluehost WordPress site will be on the same server as other sites. While that may sound unattractive, it really is the cheapest option if you are just starting out a blog and don’t have a lot of demand when it comes to processing power. Shared hosting is really all you need. As your blog’s success grows, you may need to get dedicated hosting, but for now – it will not be an issue at all.

Many people have experienced the headache of having bad hosting for their WordPress site and being forced to look for another hosting site that could cater to their needs better. And, a lot of those people end up on Bluehost rather than start on it. So, in short, this tutorial will assume that you already have Bluehost hosting and have a domain name set up on it.

5 Easy Steps To Install WordPress Through Bluehost

You will only need to be walked through this process once. It is so easy that you will never forget how to do it after this point.

Step 1: Login To Your cPanel

A cPanel is simply a place in your account that allows you to manage many different aspects of your hosting account. While Bluehost’s cPanel has a little bit of a customized look and has a Mojo Marketplace, it really is exactly the same as most other cPanels you will find on different hosting companies. This makes it easy to understand and navigate any cPanel once you get used to it.

You can access applications, such as WordPress here, and you can get access to your files and email accounts. While it may not feel like you are going to be in your cPanel often, because you will be doing most of your stuff from your WordPress account that you sign into off of Bluehost, I’ve had to come here to fix files when I’ve downloaded a bad plugin or had a problem with an update. At the time, I hadn’t familiarized myself with the cPanel, and it caused me a lot of stress to try to figure out what I was doing on top of the stress of my site being affected negatively by the problem I was having. So, I highly recommend going through your cPanel and learning as much as you can about it and even learning about the files of your WordPress site.

To access your cPanel, login to your Bluehost account with your username and password. Click on the ‘Hosting’ tab at the top of the screen inside your account. You will see a list under ‘Hosting’, and you want to click on cPanel at this point. After that, you will find yourself in your cPanel.

Step 2: Install WordPress

Now that you are in your cPanel, you can install WordPress. What you are going to do is connect your domain to the WordPress application and having it hosted on Bluehost. You are simply connecting a line between the three so that you can use your hosting, with a specific domain, to host a WordPress blog.

In your cPanel, you will see a heading called ‘Website’.’ Under that click on ‘Install WordPress’. You will be taken to a new screen where you will be able to click on ‘Install’ or ‘Import’.

The import button would only be used if you had a WordPress site through another hosting company, and you have downloaded all the WordPress files to your computer and want to import them into your new WordPress site hosted by Bluehost. Or, you would want to import your files back if you had downloaded your WordPress files and uninstalled WordPress from your domain name at some point on Bluehost.

You will also notice that they will install WordPress for you for a price. You are more than capable of installing WordPress yourself, so don’t worry about the ‘recommended’ that they put behind ‘let us do it for you’. I’ve found that you will learn as you go with WordPress, and with just a little bit of information, everyone is capable of installing and managing and troubleshooting their WordPress site. There is so much information on the Internet that all it takes is some interest and research to find out what you need to find out.

Click on ‘Install’ and you will be taken to another page where you need to select the domain that you want WordPress to install to.

© Saniphoto | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Note: As an alternative from doing the above, in your cPanel, you can navigate to ‘Mojo Marketplace’ and click on ‘One-Click Installs’. This will take you to a list of applications that you can quickly install, including WordPress. Click on ‘WordPress’ and then ‘Install’ and then choose the domain you want to install WordPress on.

You can leave the ‘directory’ blank if you are planning on making your new WordPress site strictly about business or blogging. If you were, for example, creating a site that was going to be geared towards a forum, and wanted the main URL, such as http://mysite.com, to be directed to the forum, then you may want to enter ‘blog’ into the directory path. By creating a blog directory, that is where WordPress will live, and you will be able to send people to http://mysite.com/blog to view your WordPress blog and http://mysite.com to check out the forum once you install a forum application. Alternatively, you can leave the ‘directory’ blank to make your homepage your WordPress site and then create a new directory called ‘forum’ when you install a forum app on your domain. If this doesn’t make any sense right now, it will if you start adding more applications to your domain name, so don’t worry about it right now. It’s not essential to know this stuff to install WordPress. Moreover, you can always uninstall WordPress later and fix where your domain name is pointing to. For now, simply leave the directory blank so you can get yourself up and running with WordPress.

Bluehost will check the domain, which could take a few minutes. This is normal, and it just means that they are checking for other installs on the domain and whether or not it is possible to install WordPress on that domain. The chances are high that everything will go through fine, and you will be able to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Fill In Your Details

Next, you are going to fill in the details for your new Bluehost WordPress site. You will see a page that says ‘Last step, you are almost there!’ and then has a ‘show advanced options’ checkbox. Check that box and it will expand to show you the fields for Site Name, Admin Username, and Admin Password. You will notice that there is already information there, and you can keep it if you want to. You will still be able to install WordPress. But, I recommend you change the information to suit you.
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February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 5

Step 15: Create A Monetization Strategy

There are a few different things you can do to make money from your blog. Because you are just starting out, the following two monetization strategies are most important.

1. Email Marketing

The biggest thing you need to start doing now is to create an email list. An email list is a collection of emails from people who are interested in your blog and want to hear more from you. If you’ve ever signed up to hear more about someone’s blog, then you are on their email list. It is the best way to stay connected with readers and build trust, which will help you with whatever goals you have in the future.

For instance, if you are blogging to make money, then having people who have talked to you and trust you will help you convert them into sales. People don’t trust some random person on the Internet, but they will trust someone who they feel they know, and that’s where email marketing comes in.

Also, if you don’t capture reader’s emails, then you may never see them again. They may stop on your site, have some interest, click off, and forget about you as they go about their busy lives. With emails, you can remind them that you are around and regain their interest time and time again.

Because you are learning how to start a blog, and probably don’t have a ton of subscribers, this won’t cost anything for right now. You can sign up to MailChimp.com and use the service for free until you hit 2,000 subscribers! And, you can send out 12,000 emails a month for free! It is extremely user-friendly to create a list for your blog, build a subscription box, and collect emails. (Note: You may want to download a plugin that creates pretty opt-in boxes, such as ‘Optin Forms’.)

The main rules of sending out emails to a list include:

– Offer value that you don’t offer on your blog, such as free reports on a subject of interest.
– Don’t send out too often or people will get annoyed. The general rule is 1 to 2 emails a week.
– Put blog updates in your email with a link to the new post so that people can come take a look on your blog.
– Make it more about content than making money. The goal is to build trust that will help you earn money with a few emails.

2. Reviews

In step 14 we talked about having reviews as part of your content strategy. Well, here’s another good reason to have them. They can earn you money for a long time to come!

Here’s a little secret. The people with the biggest email lists can often make the biggest money. When a launch comes out for a product, and they have the potential to earn huge commissions as an affiliate for the product, all they have to do is email their list about the product and watch the sales roll in. However, not everyone on their list automatically goes and buys the product. Some people want to learn more about it, so they look for reviews online. If you have a good review about the product, they may be convinced to buy it and click through your affiliate link instead of the person who sent them the email, which means you get credited for the sale.

I know this firsthand because I have reviews on some big products that earn incredible amounts of money when the product has an affiliate contest, not just from my list, but from my reviews as well.

The trick – as I said with the content strategy, is to get an actual copy of the product and then give a real review. If you like it, great! Point out the great things about it. It will promote trust from your readers, even if they just came to your site for the first time. Most people have a built-in spam detector and can see that your review is not spam. If you don’t like it, great! You can warn people how unhelpful the product is, gain their trust, and get them to come back to you for another review on a product that doesn’t suck.

Once your blog builds up some steam, you can use other monetization strategies, such as:

– Ads for products you are an affiliate for, including Amazon.
– Google AdSense, which earns you some money every time someone clicks on the ad.
– Selling merchandise.

But, for now, focus on collecting emails and writing some killer reviews on products that will still be relevant years from now. The effort will pay off big time!

Step 16: Focus On Traffic Generation

You want people to read your blog, right? Then you need traffic! Unfortunately, even though it seems like there are millions of people on the Internet (and there are), you won’t get traffic to your blog unless you put yourself out there.
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February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 4

Step 12: Add Plugins To Your Blog

Before you even start blogging, there are a few plugins that you are going to want to add. Plugins are bits of code that give you more power and function with your blog. They can help you manipulate the way your theme looks, save you time, get better results out of your efforts, and speed up your website, among many other things.

How To Install A Plugin

In your dashboard, click on ‘Plugins’. You will see a list of your current plugins, which should include things like ‘Welcome to WordPress’ and ‘Akismet’. You can create an Akismet account by clicking on ‘Activate’ below it and following the instructions. This plugin can help you to fight spam comments, which is something you will want when your blog starts to get traffic.

If you want, you can delete the other plugins. Or, keep them, activate them, and see what they are all about.

To find a new plugin, click on the ‘Add New’ button at the top of your screen beside the word Plugins, and you will be taken to a page with a bunch of different plugin options. You can learn about each plugin by clicking on ‘More Details’, and if you ever see a plugin you want, you can click on ‘Install Now’ to add it to your personal plugin collection.

Caution: The more plugins you add, the slower your site can get as it has to load up the stuff needed for that plugin, so make sure you really need it first. Also, check out how many installs it has received and the reviews before you install. I’ve had new plugins crash my whole site where I was unable to get into my dashboard at all. I had to go in the backend, through GoDaddy, and delete the plugin that I added to fix my site. Hopefully that won’t happen to you, but remember that your files are all being held on GoDaddy in your hosting account, including the files for the blog posts, pictures, and plugins that you add, so you can always go there and delete something that messes up your blog.

6 Crucial Plugins To Add To Your WordPress Blog

I’ve found that the following plugins are always ones that I’ve needed and seen other bloggers recommend, so I highly recommend them on how to start a blog that contains some recommended functions. To find and install these plugins, type their name into the ‘search plugins’ search area and hit enter, click on ‘Install Now’ when you find the plugin, and then click on ‘Activate Plugin’ when it has been successfully installed.

1. Yoast SEO

Optimizing your site can help you get ranked higher in the search engines, which essentially means free traffic! It’s what you should be aiming for, and while there are many different aspects that help make your site search engine friendly, on-page optimization is important.

This plugin does the hard work for you. At the bottom of every draft post you create, this plugin allows you to type in the focus keyword your article is based around and then gives you an analysis of what you should do to tweak your page for better search engine optimization.

You can also edit what title and post description you want to show up in the search engine results. Go to Google and search for your blog’s topic, and you will see what other people are using in their description. You can create more interesting titles and descriptions by using this plugin.

Lastly, you can type in what title, description, and picture you want to show up on Facebook, which further allows you to make your content attractive to people on Facebook. That’s important! The more interesting it is, the more likely people will click through when you or someone else shares your article on Facebook.

After you install this plugin, you will see a ‘Y SEO’ in your dashboard. Click on it and you will see that there is a general, titles & metas, social, XML sitemaps, advanced, tools, and search console.

Besides using the plugin inside your posts, the most important things to do include:

– Go into the ‘Titles & Metas’ and then ‘Homepage’ tab, and create a description for your homepage (what your site is about).

– Get familiar with the ‘Social’ area so that when you create a social profile, you can just come back and plug it in.

– Click on XML sitemaps so you know where to find your sitemap.

– Go into Advanced and check off ‘Enable Breadcrumbs’.

2. Compress JPEG & PNG Images

If you are going to blog, then adding images will be something you do. It helps the posts stand out and breaks up the text for easier reading. But, the more pictures you add, the slower your site can become. And the bigger the picture, the slower the post will load.
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February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 3

Step 8: Setting Up The Basics In Your WordPress Site

Now that you have WordPress installed, it’s time to set it up to work for you. In case you haven’t already, sign in. Your sign in page will be your domain name followed by wp-login. For example, bythebook.com/wp-login.

You are going to do everything from your dashboard, so you will get familiar with it before too long. In addition, there are some helpful guides inside of your dashboard that will teach you how to do things on your WordPress site, but there are some things that I always do first that make a difference.

First, navigate down to ‘Settings’ and click on it. You will see the ‘General’ aspect of the settings brought up first. Fill all that information in, including your site title (name of your blog) and a tagline (what your blog is going to be about).

All the rest of the general section is pretty self-explanatory, however, you don’t need to let other people register for your site. For now, you are just blogging on it. You may want to allow registration later on, if you were to allow people to contribute their own articles or help you edit your articles, but for now, just leave that checkbox blank. Click on ‘Save Changes’ when you are done.

Next, go into the ‘Reading’ section of your settings. This is where you can tailor what your site looks like a bit.

For instance, you can choose to have your latest posts as your homepage, or you can choose to create a page that will act as your homepage. Blog pages are going to be determined by the categories and tags you choose, so make sure that you include at least 10 posts to show, and about the same for syndication feeds.

Also, choose to show a summary of each article, not the full text. You can change that later, but I find it looks better. And, make sure you leave the ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site’ blank! You want to be found, especially if you are trying to make money.

Next, go into the ‘Discussion’ section under your settings. The most important thing to do is go down to ‘Comment Moderation’ and make sure that in the section ‘Hold a comment in the queue if it contains…’ and put a 1 in the box. Spam and links go together. So, this will help you avoid getting a bunch of spam comments approved on your site, which is not good for your site.

You may also want to go to ‘Email me whenever’ and uncheck those two boxes. You don’t want your email filling up with notifications, and if you are going to be blogging a lot, you will see those comments anyway. Make sure you click on ‘Save Changes’ before you move on.

Lastly, go into ‘Permalinks’ section under ‘Settings’ and choose the ‘Post Name’ setting for your posts. This will ensure that when you write a post, the post will be something like ‘bythebooks.com/how-to-start-a-blog’ as opposed to ‘bythebooks.com/p-22’. It just gives more meaning to the post for readers.

Next, click on ‘Users’ and then click on ‘Your Profile’. Here you can set up the color scheme of your dashboard and fill out your profile information.

The nickname you choose will appear as the author name in your posts. So, pick something that you want people to see.

Also, when you fill out the ‘biographical info’, that information will show up under your posts on themes that include a bio, so make sure it sounds good!

You should also pick a profile picture. That way, when you comment on other blogs with the email your blog is associated with, your picture will show up and make your comments look more valid. It’s easy to set up on Gravatar, just follow the sign-up process and use the same email you have on your new blog. Click on ‘Save Changes’ before you leave this page.

Next, click on posts. You will see there is a ‘Hello World!’ post. You can click on it to check it out, but I suggest just hovering over it and clicking on ‘trash’. You’ll start blogging later, so you don’t need to save this.

Lastly, click on comments and delete the comment that is there from ‘Mr WordPress’. It is just there to show you what a comment in your dashboard looks like and how to manage it, and currently it is approved, which you don’t want. So, hover your mouse over the comment and click on ‘Trash’ or select the comment with the checkbox and then click on the dropdown box ‘Bulk Actions’ and select ‘Move To Trash’.

Step 9: Choosing A Theme

When it comes to how to start a blog, this step can take days and weeks for some people, while for others it takes minutes. Your theme is the framework for what your blog will look like. It gives your blog the style that you want and helps you add elements that want. In other words, your theme is important, and once you start searching through themes, you’ll see how hard it is to pick one!

Right now you have the standard theme for WordPress. It’s a default theme. You can keep it, but you can change it also. There is so much you can do with a theme that will give you more control over your colors, widgets, and other options.

Picking A Free Theme

If you click on the ‘Appearance’ tab in your dashboard, you will see the theme you have installed as it will say ‘Active’ on it. There may be a few other themes from WordPress in your theme section too.

You can browse through a ton of different free WordPress themes by clicking on ‘Add New’. You can browse through ‘featured’ or ‘popular’ or whatever you want. You can search with the filter option and look for a color and layout that you want.
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February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 2

Step 5: Pick Your Domain Name And Register It

Now you should have a good idea of what topic you want to create your blog around. The next step on how to start a blog is picking a domain name that will match your blog and stick out in your reader’s minds.

If you are going to start a blog just for ranting or promoting yourself, then you can sign up to a free blogging site, such as blogger.com. All you have to do is sign up and follow the steps by plugging in the title you want and the web address you want (generally same as the title). Your domain will be a sub-domain on the site, which means you will have .blogspot behind your domain name. For instance, if you pick ‘bythebook’ it will look like ‘bythebook.blogspot.com’.

Everything is very self-explanatory on free blogs. You can create a new blog post and start blogging with minutes of signing up. The advantage of signing up to a site like Blogger is that you will get noticed quickly by other people on the free site. The disadvantage is that you have no control over your site. There are rules. You can’t put up certain ads and posts that you can on your own purchased domain name, and if you do, you can easily be reported as trying to spam other people, which will cause you to be taken down and all your hard work go to waste.

This guide is about how to start a blog by registering a domain name and getting your site hosted so that you can have the freedom to do what you want. So, let’s talk about how to do that.

Picking A Domain Name

Your domain name will be the web address that people find your blog at, like xxtxe.com. There are different sites that help you find and register your domain name, including Namecheap.com and Register.com, but I prefer GoDaddy.com, so that is what I will refer to in this guide.

Keep in mind that all domain name registration sites are very user-friendly, so if you decide to use another site to register your domain name, they will walk you through it step-by-step. And you can always contact their support system if you need help. But, generally, you won’t need to do that. It’s really easy.

You will notice that when you get to the homepage on GoDaddy.com, there is already a tool to help you search through the available domains. All you have to do is type is the domain name you want and click on ‘Search Domain’ to see if it is available. Type out the name you want all in one word (because that’s how domain names work). For example, ‘bythebook’ instead of ‘by the book’. You will be notified if the domain is available for purchase, how much it costs, and what alternatives you can choose.

When Your Domain Name Is Already Registered

If you type in something and find that it is taken, you can add a hyphen into the search to see if that is available. For instance, instead of ‘bythebook’ you can look for ‘bythe-book’, which as of this guide is available.

There is a lot of debate as to whether or not hyphens are appropriate. I’ve found that they don’t hurt the site too much in terms of SEO. I’ve been ranked quickly in Google with hyphenated domain names.

The only problem is that people don’t naturally put hyphens in their search, which means if they remember your blog title as ‘By The Book’ then they will search for that title, and if they see ‘bythebook.com’ they will likely click on it is opposed to ‘bythe-book.com’ until they get to know that your domain has a hyphen in it. But, once they know, or have your site bookmarked, it won’t matter anymore.

Should You Pick A .Com or .Net?

The last thing you will notice is that you can pick a bunch of extensions for your domain name. Extensions just help keep domain names organized on the Internet, so this is really just about preference and what you want to tell your readers.

For instance, if you are in Canada, you may want to pick the extension .ca to let your readers know that you are in Canada and resonate more with Canadians. However, you really only need to do that if you are a business in Canada. As a blogger, most people don’t care where you are from.

You can also pick .guru to let people know that you are an expert in your blog’s topic. Guru is a popular buzzword when people are looking for experts, so it could help you stand out.

And, if you can’t find the domain name you want with the extension .com, then you can pick .net.

However, I would recommend sticking with .com if you can find the domain name you want with it. People remember it, and it is the most widely recognized.

Rules For Picking A Domain Name

You know what you want to focus your blog around. You know what type of audience you want to cater to. So, pick a name that the audience will resonate with that describes what your blog is about.

Some experts will tell you to put a keyword in your domain name. For instance, if you are going to write about cooking, then they would recommend choosing something like ‘wildcooking.com’. But I have found that this is an old rule to go by, and it doesn’t help you get more readers or rank higher or anything else.

Therefore, pick a domain name that describes your blog and resonates with your readers. Something catchy. Something they will remember. Something that reminds them of what your blog is about.

I’ve found the best blogs have a catchy name that you can’t forget, such as pinchofyum.com, which is a blog that is all about cooking. The domain name indicates that it is a recipe site where you are going to learn how to make things that taste great. It’s hard to forget, easy to type in, and just sounds neat.

Remember, whatever domain name you choose can be your blog title too. It makes it easier for readers to find it later on.

And if you are trying to get yourself known, then create a domain name around your name. For instance, johndoe.com. This will guarantee that when people search for you, your website is the first one that comes up. This works well if you plan to create a business later on. For example, if you want to become a writer, then using your name for your domain name and blog title will ensure people can find you and your books.

But, for the most part, picking a unique domain name is important. Make sure it hits all the things on the following checklist.

– Easy to remember
– Relatable to your topic
– Unique
– Not too long

To Be Private Or Not
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February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 1

If you want to start a blog, you could be up and running within less than a day. But, speaking from experience, it is very important to take some time to start your blog properly. If you do, then you will have much more success, much quicker. If you don’t, your blog could end up being seen by only a handful of people, and unless you want it that way, that will be very disappointing.

This step-by-step guide is assuming that you want to learn how to start a blog that attracts people to it, which requires a little bit of work. So please don’t rush through any of the following steps. Take your time and get each step right before you move on to the next one.

Step 1: Define Your Blogging Goals

It’s important to define your intention behind your blog so you can figure out all the rest of the steps properly. Let me say first that if your goal is to cheat and lie and try to scam people from their money, you are going to fail. It’s better to waste your time doing something else, because you will be spotted quickly by the search engines as a spammer and you won’t be trusted by the people you try to scam. Yes, you may make a few dollars here and there, but in the end, you will lose everything. So don’t even bother.

Following are the most common blogging goals. Figure out what you intend to focus on because in later steps you will need an answer.

1. Make An Income

Do you want to make an income off your blog? If so, do you want to earn a part-time or full-time income from it? Get clear on that, because it will determine how much you need to work.

Contrary to popular belief, blogging requires work, just like any other job. Unlike any other job, the earning potential is limitless.

If you put some serious work into your blog, you will increase your earnings every single year. There may be some months where you don’t earn as much as other months, but when it comes to yearly income, it will increase if you are persistent on your blog.

You can make money on your blog from many different sources. We will talk about that in a later step, but for now here are a few avenues.

– Affiliate marketing
– EBook creation
– Product creation
– Brand deals
– Advertising

Make an income goal for the year. For the first year, it can be $1,000 to $50,000 or anywhere below or over. Don’t worry about making it too high. A higher goal will help you work harder towards it, and if you don’t reach it, you can always extend the amount of time you have to reach it once you get a feel for your blog. If you want this to be your full-time job, shoot for a number that you would really like to start making per year.

2. Support Your Business

If you are starting a blog to support a business you have, then you are making a great decision. Most people have become accustomed to look for business blogs, and if you have one, you are going to provide much more value than simply listing out what you have for sale on a website.

You can also start a blog to support a future business you are planning to create. As you go through the motions of setting up that business, blogging will help you build an audience. The blog will help you connect with potential customers, gain their interest, gain their trust, and eventually make sales off them.

Whether you already have a business or are creating one, a blog is a great investment.

3. Become Part Of A Community

Blogging may just be a habit you want to pursue so that you can share what you know with the world, and that’s totally cool! You will find many other people who are blogging for the sake of sharing their knowledge, artwork, interests, theories, and rants. You can be one of them and enjoy the interaction that comes from connecting with like-minded people.

4. Improve Your Writing Skills

Blogging is a great way to improve your writing skills. Not only will creating blog posts help you become more creative with your writing, but you will get LOTS of critique from people, and you can use it to write better and improve your grammar and spelling.

In addition, I know some people who had a dream to write books, but didn’t have the confidence to go out and do it, so they started a blog to test the waters. Some found that they enjoyed writing and some found that they hated it. Either way, it was an interesting way to make sure before they put themselves out there or wasted too much time.

Step 2: Define Your Audience

The goal of a blog is to get people to read it, whether you want to make money, get your business out there, or just get your opinion out there. An audience will help you feel like your efforts are paying off, and if you are trying to make money, an audience will help you do that!

Defining your audience now will help you in later steps, such as deciding what content you want to write and where you want your presence to be, so it is an important part of how to start a blog.

Who do you want your blog to reach? And, do you want to ensure that it doesn’t tick people off?

For example, Thug Kitchen uses a lot of profanity in their writing, even though they are writing about vegan recipes! It’s safe to say that there are some people who are going to be offended by this type of writing, so Thug Kitchen has to be aware that their audience is going to be vegans (or people trying to eat healthier) that don’t mind swearing (and there is a lot of it!), probably between the ages of 18-40. What is great about their blog, is that unlike many vegan blogs, theirs appeals to men and women instead of just women, so they technically can draw in a bigger crowd than a blogger who is just blogging about vegan cupcakes and how awesome their new cookware is.

So, some things to consider are:

– Do you want to attract people who like you? Or maybe they should kind of hate you? (You can create a huge blog either way.)
– Do you want to attract a certain age group?
– Do you want to attract people from a certain location?
– Do you want to attract women or men?
– Do you want to attract a personal growth crowd or a crowd that likes to complain?

Choose the type of people you would like to write to and talk to. You will find that reflecting on your audience will help you determine what kind of blog you really want to create, what type of name you want, what type of style you want, and so much more.

Step 3: Plan Your Schedule

Blogging takes time, and not everyone has the kind of time needed to blog full-time. It’s important you be realistic about how much time you can spend on your blog. You’ll find the time goes by fast, so you want to give yourself as much time as possible to do what you need to do.

Plan out your schedule for blogging. Having a schedule will keep you on track and help you avoid putting stuff off until later. Maybe you can do a few hours each evening and dedicate 8 or more hours on the weekend. Or, maybe you have all day and every day to blog, in which case I suggest doing at least 8 hours a day if you want to earn some decent money.

Blogging is not just about writing posts. It requires research, socialization, and education, so you need to make sure you have some time to do all those things.

The most important thing on the blog is content creation. We will talk about that more later, but I would say that this takes up about 80% of your time. Content creation includes researching content, writing, looking for quotes, looking for pictures, looking for videos, organizing posts, and proofreading.

The other 20% is interacting with other bloggers and interested readers, and promoting your content. (That’s what works for me. You may find that you only need about 70% of your time to devote to writing posts, but I feel pretty confident with the 80-20 rule here.)

Therefore, if you have 26 hours in the week to blog, plan to dedicate about 21 hours to creating content and 5 hours to interacting and promoting the content.

Step 4: Pick Your Topic

Alright, this is the part of how to start a blog where we have some fun and get inspired. Here you are going to pick your topic. Your topic is the specific area of a niche that you want to talk about. It could be vegan cooking, quilting, salsa dancing, making money through blogging, or building muscle.

You can pick a broad topic, such as cooking in general, and then create your blog about many different aspects of cooking, such as vegan cooking, baking, vegetarian cooking, barbecuing, and anything else you enjoy, but there are a few downsides to a broad topic.

– It’s not as easy to attract an interested audience who bookmark your blog as something unique that they can’t find elsewhere
– It’s not as attractive to certain marketers looking for a specific type of site to put their ads on
– It can be hard to gain focus on what content you should write because there are too many choices
– It can be hard to fill up the categories on the blog (vegan, baking, barbecuing, etc.) because you can only write so many posts at a time

But, there are some upsides too, such as:

– A ton of choices to write about if you can’t think of something on one topic
– Can link to a variety of products or sites where you can make money from
– Attract a wide variety of readers

The bottom line is that I’ve seen successful sites with a broad topic and a specific topic, and I’ve also seen failures in both categories too. If you can’t choose, I strongly suggest making your blog about a specific topic because it is easier to make it interesting for a specific audience.

For example, I look for specific things, such as vegan cooking or training your Miniature Pinscher, as opposed to cooking or training a dog. If I land on a page that has too much information, I click off and try to make my search even more relevant. Most people work that way, so if you can be specific, you will have an easier time attracting people who are interested.

The chances are good that you already have an idea of what you want to blog about, but there are some other important things to consider.

1. Are You Knowledgeable About The Topic?

Believe me, if you choose a topic you know nothing about, simply because you think it will bring you in some money, you are going to be in trouble. It may work out for a few weeks, but after a while, it will become more like a chore to write about and talk about something you don’t know anything about. Unless you are trying to get an education on something, write about something you have a lot of knowledgeable about already, and you can improve your insight on the topic with the foundational knowledge already in place.

Also, if you choose something you are knowledgeable about, then you are going to build your credibility and have an easier time standing out as an authority on the subject. People are looking for answers, not just a light read. They want to know how, why, who, where, when, and what. If you are knowledgeable, you can answer those questions and offer a ton of value to interested people!

2. Are You Passionate About The Topic?

If you choose a niche and topic you could care less about, you will not stick with it! It’s just like any habit that you don’t really want to do, you will drop it once the novelty of it has worn off.

It will become tiring to talk to people about the subject. It will be exhausting to try and explain things to people who read your blog. And, it will be annoying to interact with people who don’t interest you. This guarantees that you will not have success no matter what your blogging goals are, so make sure that you have some passion towards what you want to talk about. Make sure you could write about it for years.

3. Do People Want To Read About This Topic?

This is fairly easy, because there are bound to be people out there interested in what you want to talk about. However, if you want to make money from your blog, then you will want to appeal to more than just a couple of people. Therefore, if you are passionate about taxidermy, you may not attract as many people to your blog as if you were passionate about being a vegan.

You can check out your interests in Google Trends. It gives you an indication of how popular your interest has been since a certain date (the default is 2004-present for me). What’s beautiful is that if you are stuck on what niche you want to create your blog on, you can compare different search terms to see what is gaining popularity, what is losing popularity, and what is maintaining popularity.

For instance, go to Google Trends and plug in the search terms:

– Kim Kardashian
– Taxidermy
– Vegan
– Donald Trump

You should see that vegan is constantly growing while Donald Trump has spiked recently thanks to the election. Obviously starting a blog about Donald Trump would work for this moment, but you have to think about the longevity of your blog too. If he doesn’t succeed, the interest in him will die out, and you will lose readers. Of course, Kim Kardashian may be a better bet since she seems to always be in the spotlight. And vegan would be the best bet. There’s no chance of it dying out and it is steadily gaining popularity.

Don’t take this too seriously, though, or you could find yourself pulled into a topic that you are not really passionate about. If there is something that you want to write about, and you think it can stand the test of time (interest for the long run), but you don’t see much interest in it, then you may want to go for it anyway. If you can make the blog unique or interesting enough, then you will earn yourself some loyal followers of people who are interested in the topic and people who are curious about the topic.

4. Can You Make It Unique And Stand Out?

Some people will tell you that there are too many fitness blogs or gadget blogs or making money online blogs, but if you want to write about one of those things, and have a passion to do so, then you can absolutely create a blog around that topic. The trick is to find a unique angle.

For instance, we mentioned Thug Kitchen. They use swear words and straight talk to make themselves stand out. They just wrote a book called, ‘Eat Like You Give A F*ck’ and as someone who owns it, I can tell you that every recipe contains the type of language you would expect from them.

Another vegan blogger focuses mostly on Indian vegan food. Her book, ‘Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen’ stands out in the vegan section of the bookstore, and her blog stands out among vegan blogs.

If you want to blog about vegan food, what uniqueness can you bring to the table? Maybe you grow your own food. Maybe you have some unique hacks in the kitchen that makes vegan cooking easy or more tasty. Find your angle and go for it!

Read the second part of How to Start A Blog below:

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 2