What you need to build a successful blogging business
A bit of hard work, some good planning, an understanding of search intent, as well as time with a bit of faith!
The 10 steps to becoming a successful blogger:
- Know why you want to start a blog.
- Pick an evolvable niche.
- Actually, start one!
- Build your site.
- Plan your Keywords for Search Intent.
- Create your content forest.
- Apply SEO, Social media, and marketing techniques.
- Create E-A-T and build your backlinking.
- Monetize your blog effectively.
- Find good teachers!
Luckily, you’re reading this, so you’ve already taken the right first step and we’re going to provide you with insight on how to achieve all of the above and provide you with the tools necessary to begin your journey toward financial freedom and creating your very own successful blog!
You’re going to need:
It’s not gonna be easy but it will be rewarding!
So why should I start a blog?
Secondly, because it’s a lot of fun!
Not only that, but you will get rewarded for adding this value, and not just in monetary ways! You might be filled with doubts and thinking that you don’t have what it takes or maybe that you don’t have enough knowledge and experience to offer, but the moment you realize that blogging is not just about knowledge, but that it’s centered around creating value for others, those doubts will begin to fall away!
So how do I add value to my work?
The value you create comes from the effort you put in to provide people with the answers to their questions. This could come from your knowledge and experience, however, it can also be provided by making an active effort to add to your content. Suddenly it’s not about what you know, but about what you’re willing to put into research and how effectively you answer your reader’s questions.
The quality of your work will only continue to improve as you put your effort in, and in the long run, quality is way better than quantity when it comes to blogging.
But I don’t know enough about anything to write about it?
Even a grandmaster at a craft knew nothing about it at one point! Everyone has to start from somewhere and just because you don’t initially have the knowledge doesn’t mean you can’t acquire it! Besides, it is unlikely that you’ll be picking a niche where you’ll be starting completely from scratch. Most of us start off with something we have a bit of experience with, and it’s that experience that lays the foundation for creating a successful blog!
The things you’ve gone through, the mistakes you’ve made, and the lessons you’ve learned are all able to help other people. By providing relevant information to the questions people ask you are not only offering them a potential solution to their problems but saving them time and money in the process.
The quality of your content and the way it’s presented will determine how much you are valued. All the influence, monetization, and other benefits that come along are merely a consequence of this initial value input.
Becoming a successful blogger can be summarized the continuous process of value creation for others.
Which in exchange rewards you for your efforts
This is why you should really consider learning how to Learn. This is an investment into yourself that carries over to all fields of life and will make the journey ahead of you a lot easier and more fun!
Now that we know why let’s learn how!
Starting is the most important step!
To start a blog you just need to take the words “one day”, flip them around and they become
Making the decision to start this journey will put you miles ahead of every other person that doesn’t bother to try!
This really sucks for them, because they simply don’t realize that blogging can become one of the most rewarding experiences you can do, and not just financially. It will help deepen your understanding of whatever you’re writing about, improving your knowledge, and if you’re doing it right it creates the opportunity to make a difference in many people’s lives.
Like with so many other things once you get started it follows the Pareto principle or as it’s more commonly known the “80/20 rule”. A principle that states 80% of all outcomes are derived from 20% of causes. This is where hard work and perseverance come into effect. It’s the minimum required investment of 20% full focus in time and effort that will allow you to kick back the other 80% of the time and reap your best rewards despite setting a relaxing pace!
The hardest part of blogging is getting started!
Picking your niche
Many people think that picking a niche is the most important part of a blog and that you should be incredibly passionate about what you are planning to write, however, while both niche and passion are important, they are not the most important part of building a successful blog. That position stays with content and the value that you add to your readers and googles number one determining factor :
Relevance to the user’s search query!
Picking a niche is more like picking a theme, and while it can be incredibly lucrative to zone in and specialize on a specific topic, you should also be aware of the potential of trapping yourself within that category. The incredibly successful blogger Adam Enfroy really highlights this issue in his post on the topic of niche selection. Here he explains that the odds of a beginner selecting the perfect niche are infinitesimally small and that a beginner blogger will have more success developing a personal brand and putting their focus on :
This approach shifts the focus from trying to dominate a specific niche to instead creating a sort of interlinked net structure that can covers a wider variety of subjects, products, and services, without breaking out of your theme. We can’t pick your niche for you, but we can give provide you with some questions to ask yourself that will help you make your decision :
If we take Things Learned After Thirty as an example, it classifies as a self-development blog and falls solidly between some of the hardest categories to enter the blogging market, life advice, and growing personal wealth. In the SEO world both fall under YMYL – Your money, your life, and because of the impact this type of advice can have on people, Google places extra care on the quality and trust of the content that they promote to their users within this category. This can make it very hard to create a successful blog within these categories.
Why pick such a difficult niche then? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s partially because while it is harder to get off the ground, it is easier to monetize and your potential for earning is a lot higher than in a smaller niche. The reason it’s so tough is that there isn’t really a ceiling on what people are willing to spend to improve their health or wealth. With this in mind, despite being such a hard niche to enter, it’s by no means it’s impossible. With the right steps, and a lot of added value you can overcome these challenges and stand out even in a tough niche
This is something we will discuss more when we get to content planning and SEO, where we will show you how to outperform your competitors! The best advice I have for you here is to find something that you will enjoy writing about but to not box yourself in too much.
Building your site
Now that you’ve got your niche, we get to the fun part! Actually building your site! A lot of people find this tricky, but luckily there are so many options that it is actually pretty simple to find a solution that works for you! Building your site can be split into two sections: back house and front house.
This is the technical side of things and can be further divided into:
- Registering your domain
- Selecting a good hosting platform
- Setting up a professional e-mail account, linked to your domain
Since your niche is now decided, it’s time to pick a name and register your domain. Next up is selecting a good host to store your data. If you are looking to start a blog then you will likely be using WordPress as a platform, in which case you should consider a standard WordPress option with a Dreamhost account. Picking the right type of hosting from the start will save you a lot of effort in the future. You can check out our article on how to pick the right hosting service for your needs.
We also have an article reviewing the top 15 hosting providers. The important thing here is to select a reliable host that is going to protect your data, the last thing you want is for your site to crash after a few months of work only to find that your service provider hasn’t been following proper backup protocols.
Which can be split into :
- Selecting a website builder
- The visual design of your site
- Configuring plugins
- Basic SEO – This will be an ongoing process as you publish content
This part is a little trickier than the hosting. There are a few options out there for blogs, sites like Wix and Squarespace offer some pretty good easy-to-design solutions, but our pick for running a blog despite the slightly higher technical difficulty is still WordPress is still your best bet.
There are also a couple of options when it comes to the design:
The cost of each is directly related to the amount of effort you put in. Building your own site from scratch is the most technically challenging, but the cheapest. Hiring a web designer can be pricey, but it makes the setup almost effortless. It all comes back to the old anecdote “time is money, money time” analogy.
If you do go for the build-it-yourself option, there are some great tools like Canva for easy design options and Place-it for things like youtube templates. You’ll learn how to use these tools to grow your blog. The beautiful part of a blog is that it doesn’t need to be perfect, you can always come back and improve it at a later stage, but when you are starting out, there are some things you can strive for.
5 goals to achieve when building your site:
Doing it right and striving for these from the start will all save you quite a bit of effort in the future.
Ps. Do you see how adding relevant links to other articles, as well as the effort required to write those provides the reader with more value? The value comes from the way the information is presented as well as how accessible it is to you. This also allows me plenty of opportunity to add in good affiliate products and services that solve my reader’s need, which earns income!
Creating a content forest
As with most successful endeavors in life, blogging is a skill that takes time and effort to improve. In the beginning, you might find yourself wanting to write specific articles that illustrate your outlook on the world. The type that carries out your message. Unfortunately, this is usually not enough to guarantee your project will turn into a successful blog. A successful blog is one with great content that caters to its reader’s needs and can be gauged by its engagement and audience. To get that, initially, we need four things
The Content, Keywords, and SEO optimization, we can help you with, but not the time it takes for your content to index and rank on Google. While there are a few ways to speed it up, usually you will be writing to a ghost town for your first 6-12 months of blogging. This means that during this time you will have almost no views, making it hard to gain feedback on your efforts and making it very easy for new bloggers to get discouraged.
The good news is that after this period, your growth will accelerate rapidly! Additionally, if you have put effort into planning out your content and keywords it becomes really easy to tweak your posts once you start getting that much-desired feedback.
To get us started on the content journey, download our free Content & keyword planner template
A successful blog is one that adds value to its readers and answers their questions, and the more you engage your audience and provide them with the information they seek, the higher the google algorithms will rate your posts and score your website.
To do this we are going to grow you a content forest.
Using the above tool you can plan out your topics and use each category as a check box to ensure that you plan your content in such a way as to cover the topic in depth. I initially recommend starting with 3-4 categories, each with 10-15 posts on the subject. To do this effectively we will further divide our posts into 5 different types :
If you are starting out with a new blog, I recommend planning to publish between 40-60 posts in the first six months. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you break it down to the 180 days that make up the period, you will find that it translates to one post every 3-5 days. Which is actually pretty manageable, especially if you follow what we discuss in this guide.
Relevant content is by far the most important part of your site.
Some of the most important ranking factors Google can be represented by a clever abbreviation – EAT, which stands for:
No amount of SEO or keyword magic is going to make up for a site that does not meet these three standards. If you want to build a successful blog that ranks well, make sure to first write good content for other humans that answers questions and adds. Everything else can be optimized at a later stage to improve its performance. Be sure to check out our post on How to create value and establish EAT with your content.
Keywords & Search Intent
Now that we have looked into planning our posts and learned how to create a dense content forest on the subjects we want to write about, it’s time to look into keywords and search intent. If you want to rank on Google then you need to know what it’s all about.
So what is search intent, and why is it important?
In essence, it’s the question that the end user is posing to Google. If you searched for “how to write a successful blog?” your search intent would be to learn the steps to create a successful blog. If Google was to instead provide you with information on the “10 best cupcake recipes” and other non-related articles, you would very quickly switch to a search engine that better met your needs.
Now that you understand what search intent is, keywords are pretty easy to cover. Keywords are variations of the search terms Google users would enter. This is also why your content is so important! Google wants their customer’s questions answered or they end up losing a customer.
Our Content planner template has a tab dedicated to keywords too :
To use cut out a lot of confusion and use this tool correctly, I find it better to plan my keywords around a category that I cover over multiple posts, this keeps the content more natural, while still covering the topic. The best way I have found to find the right keywords is to follow a few easy steps that generate them organically :
If you follow this strategy, eventually you won’t have just one tree, but the content forest we’ve been talking about. The more you plant and nurture, the denser your forest will become, leaving little room for anything else to grow in your niche.
Remember that as long as your content is high-quality, you can always come back to revisit and revise it as required. Strong roots are what make trees grow into giants.
SEO, Social media, and marketing
We have just covered keywords with the content forest analogy, this is already a large part of SEO. The same principle carries over to our marketing strategy. In today’s world of social media and CPC (cost per click) advertising, you can easily get swept away in the process or develop a form of shiny object syndrome, where you jump from platform to platform trying to get visitors.
It’s here that we would recommend you stop and think about what is important. Unlike online stores or other E-commerce platforms, blogs are predominantly powered by Google search, which rates you on the quality of your content and your ability to satisfy the informational needs of its customers. If you go look at some of the most successful blogs out there you will find that 70-80% of their traffic comes from organic search intent.
This means that all other platforms Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tiktok, and even Youtube only amount to 20-30% of the traffic coming onto your site. This is not to say that these sites cannot be effective forms of marketing, Youtube especially has fantastic potential to draw in more visitors. It is only to point out that you should be asking yourself if the juice is worth the squeeze.
If 80% of your traffic comes from Google, which is strongly content-driven, then spending 50% of your time working on building up other platforms is actually decreasing your efficiency. Until you have some moderate success in your most important marketing field, avoid shiny object syndrome and keep focussing on improving what works! It is much easier to grow your social media accounts once you have a strong basis that is already earning you a stable income.
A backlink is a link from an external website linking to a page on your site. Linking both internally and externally is essential to helping you build a good DR (domain rating) to build credibility with search engines. It is important to remember that here, quality matters more than quantity. Google uses the previously mentioned EAT metrics to determine if you are a good match for a customer’s results.
Let’s say you were the only doctor in a room filled with hundreds of people. Suddenly a new person enters the room looking for medical assistance. While not impossible, it would be very unlikely for them to find you without you identifying them and stepping up, or having to go from person to person and inquire if there is in fact a medical practitioner around. Provided that they didn’t get tired of searching and go look in another building, eventually, they would stumble across a person that knows you’re a doctor, who would introduce them to you.
Now let’s assume there were ten doctors in this room and the person was looking for the best cardiologist among them. This would become a more difficult question to answer. Not only would they still have to go through the process of asking people, but it would be quite unlikely that your average person off the street would know all ten doctors or what they specialize in.
This is Google’s dilemma. They’re stepping in as an intermediary and doing the asking on behalf of the original searcher. The catch is, that just like in real life, every time you have to ask a few hundred people a question, it takes valuable time and search resources. Thus they end up doing what any rational person would do in that situation – Record the original results for a search, and the next time somebody asks that question, they revert back to the results they got in their first poll.
Once they’ve completed their initial survey and established the best results, they keep them in their index and put their focus on other queries, which is why it takes time to rank in google.
Now backlinks are the equivalent of the people in the room that know you, and what you specialize in. So when Google has a user with a question, they go around gathering information from all the sites on their index, but they go a step further too. During their inquest, they use the previously mentioned metric of EAT to refer their customer to the doctor who best meets their needs.
This means that they check the expertise and occupations of the other people in the room. Google also goes a step further and checks its credibility. If they are viewed as unreliable or untrustworthy, they discount their recommendations, and also view the doctor they’ve recommended as sketchy by association.
This is why you should never buy backlinks!
Or try and acquire lots of low-quality backlinks, it will end up harming the credibility of your site over the long term. The guys from Income School speak about this all the time on their youtube channel and teach you to build your links organically by providing the best content to the question asked. This is also the reason you should be careful about which sites you refer people to. If you send people scammy or potentially harmful links, Google will view you as untrustworthy too!
Quality over quantity is the key to successful backlinking
How to monetize your blog effectively
A successful blog that has been set up correctly is a goose that lays golden eggs! The really cool thing about it is that after the initial setup and content creation phase, it switches from active to passive almost instantly! This is why people put so much effort into it. There are also lots of ways to earn money off your content, though for today’s purpose we will be splitting them into the five main revenue streams you can tap into as a blogger, they are :
Excluding ads, the majority of these methods are based on adding value. If you promote shitty products and services or affiliates that rip people off then you likely won’t be in business for very long. Not only does Google frown upon this type of behavior, but people, in general, are able to catch on quite quickly if you are simply trying to shill something on them.
Finding good teachers!
One of the defining characteristics of something manmade is that it is set in duality. If it has an opposite, we as a species have defined it! Up, down. Left, right. Good, evil. On its own, this is an incredibly interesting concept to explore, however, when it comes to creating a successful blog there is a specific duality that we should always keep in mind. This is the duality of Consumer vs Creator.
This leaves us with a bit of a chicken vs egg dilemma. To become an expert at something, you need hours of dedicated study, but also hours of dedicated practice. A successful blogger is a person who has mastered both of these aspects, but this also sets up a potential trap for many of us. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself down more than one or two Youtube rabbit holes while learning something new.
This is the kind where you spend a few days doing a deep dive into a topic to increase your understanding but do not accomplish much toward your actual goals. This is the trap that many of us so easily fall into. While absorbing volumes of information is great for oversight, the simple fact is that while you are consuming you’re not creating.
This is a point that every successful blogger understands as one of the main purposes of a successful blog is to compress information into an understandable format that saves our readers time and effort. It’s the act of value creation, and while you are consuming, you’re not creating. With this we are at the most important part of this section – Find yourself, good teachers!
Don’t drown in an ocean of disinformation, a good teacher that is able to relay to you the information you seek in a condensed, value-packed format is worth its weight in gold! People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on university degrees and online courses for this exact reason.
When it comes to blogging, there are some fantastic teachers out there and I highly recommend checking out :
All three of these creators are fantastic teachers! I have personally learned most of what I have applied on TLAT from them and cannot thank them enough for the information they share so freely! If it is within your budget, I would highly recommend checking out their various products and courses, but even if you can’t, following them on Youtube alone is enough to dramatically increase your chances of success.
Having just covered backlinking, you can see how easy it is to earn backlinks when you’re a good creator. Ricky and Jim really from Income school actually generate most of their backlinks this way and it is a tried and proven strategy.
As this is an instructional post, it’s well worth breaking the fourth wall to point out that should I ever want to reach out to any of these creators, it becomes a lot easier when you have created high-quality content, that happens to positively promote them. Marketing is part of our game and while you never know for certain how your efforts will pay off in the future, a good foundation always helps!
What we’ve learned!
You have everything you need to run a successful blog now, from the timeline to the tools! But you can do it, and if you follow the principles we discussed here and continue to follow the search intent while adding value to your content, you will succeed! Lets recap:
It’s not always an easy journey, but it is fun and rewarding!
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