Running a blog Fundamentals – What To Know Earlier than Diving In
You’re ready to join the world of blogging! You have something to say to the world and you’re sure you’re at least as qualified as most bloggers out there. But you have no idea where to start.
The overwhelming majority of bloggers are right where you are. They want to share ideas and information, they want to write, but the technical aspects of using the internet as the venue presents a barrier, and they can’t see the path around it.
Today, I’m going to show you that path — the path from having no presence on the internet at all to creating your first blog post in WordPress. From zero to 60 (or at least 30) in just about a week. See what’s really involved. Then just follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way!
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Starting At The Beginning
Contents in this chapter:
What Is A Blog? Blog Definition
You’ve probably heard the word hundreds, if not thousands of times, and became curious as to what a blog is.
Dictionary.com defines a blog as…
a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.
In short, a blog is a place where somebody can openly and freely share their opinions and thoughts on a topic. The people who share these thoughts are called “bloggers”.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and I could go into a long-winded explanation about how a blog works, but I’m a visual guy so press play on the video below. This is one of my favorite explainer videos, which will quickly explain what blogs are and how they work.
Evolution of Blogging
In today’s world, blogging is huge. Chances are, you likely know a person or two that owns and operates their own blog. You probably even know somebody who quit their full time job to blog full time.
That’s today, but would you be surprised if I told you that blogs have not always been around?
We’re all familiar with the rise of the internet in the early 90’s. As the dotcom boom took shape, so did technology and the widespread adoption of the internet. As time went on, the internet became more popular, technology advanced, computer prices dropped, and before long it seemed like nearly everybody was on the internet.
During this time, blogging became more mainstream, and with the rise of platforms like Blogger and Tumblr, starting a blog was easier than ever. These platforms made it easy for people to express their thoughts and views and then share them with their readers.
In 2003, Google acquired Blogger, the easiest of all the blogging platforms to use. That acquisition sent blogging really mainstream, with more people than ever creating their own. Years later, WordPress also went mainstream, and that platform is now what powers many of the world’s websites.
Suggested Reading: Evolution Of Blogging, Broken Down Year-By-Year
Aside from personal blogs being easy to operate, they are also stepping in to fill the void that traditional media outlets are shifting away from.
Did you hear that global publishing empire, News Corporation, plans to charge for online subscriptions to their newspapers? You probably already know that they’re owned by media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, with newspapers like The New York Post, The Times in Britain, and The Australian.
Huge changes are happening in the publishing and business worlds and Murdoch says:
We intend to charge for all our news Web sites. If we’re successful, we’ll be followed by all media.
So why is this good for bloggers? If established sites charge for their information, I think individual bloggers will become more influential because:
- There will be more blog readers: for example, many people won’t want to pay to read the news and the search engines won’t rank information that’s hidden in subscriptions sites.
- Blogs can can offer similar, or better, information free.
- Blogs offer a sense of community, interaction, and the a exchange of ideas that both readers and writers enjoy.
As you can see, time has treated bloggers well, and it appears that there is no better time than now to jump into the game. Which brings us to my next point, why you might want to jump in.
Why People Blog
The power is slipping away from many large news agencies and businesses who don’t understand, or are scared of, the Internet. So individuals now have an opportunity to carve out a niche for themselves through blogging, and compete on a level footing with the big guys.
Blogging, if done well, can give you a chance to supplement your existing income, grow your business and even become a full-time blogger.
Take Perez Hilton. The website he launched in 2004 is now one of the leading sites worldwide for celebrity news. For a gossip columnist with pink hair, having his website named one of the ’50 most powerful blogs’ by the UK’s conservative Observer newspaper is quite a feat.
Now Hilton is lining up TV shows, books and even a record label, just because of one small website he started five years ago. Love him or loathe him, the man with a passion for celebrity trivia is a serious source of inspiration for bloggers.
According to the biography on Hilton’s website, he’s even been named one of the 15 most influential Hispanics in the US.
Pros of Blogging For Business Owners
Some bloggers, like Perez Hilton, now make their living from blogging. You probably shouldn’t expect that kind of success to begin with, but there’s no reason you can’t try. Most professional bloggers say when they started, they never expected their blog to become so successful. If they succeeded others will too.
Take me, for example. Back in 2014, I started a blog about my experiences driving with rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. I started the blog as a hobby because I thought it was helpful and fun to share with other drivers the lessons I learned in my own drives. However, the site quickly got traction, and as it grew, I realized that I could turn what was a small side hobby into a full time job.
After spending the next two years working on the blog in my free time, I eventually made the decision to leave my full time job and work on the site full time. Since then, I’ve launched a career starting, buying, growing, and selling websites in many different niches and verticals, including this site.
For SMEs, blogging offers several advantages. Many business owners will benefit from using a blog to sell more of their products or services, whether your ultimate goal is to blog full-time or not.
A good blog can grow your business and increase your income. Smart blogging can lead you to become influential with the people you most want to influence ~ your customers.
4 Reasons To Blog
- To establish a rapport and build relationships with your existing and potential customers.
- To improving your search engine ranking and reach more potential customers, which, if your website is well-designed, will translate into more business.
- To ensure you’re the first company people think of when they need your products or services.
- To showcase your expertise, professionalism and willingness to help.
Still Not Convinced About Blogging?
Blogging has negative connotations. The main comments I get from people, who don’t read blogs yet anyway, is that blogging is a waste of time. I disagree. I think setting up an effective blog can make a big difference to businesses of all sizes.
Blogging, if done correctly, can drive tremendous results for the person running the site.
Let’s take the real estate industry as an example. In my area, perhaps due to the slow housing market, real estate companies are spending more money on glossy print publications, and claiming that people prefer to look for houses in print, not online.
In my experience, people are going online more and more to look for everything, from music to houses and from motivational tips to financial success. But because most big real estate agencies where I live aren’t using the Internet to their advantage, there’s the possibility for a blogger to clean up.
The same may be true for your business, and if so I hope it’s you who cleans up. If you’ve got a good knowledge of your industry, average marketing skills and an interest in Internet marketing, you’ll probably do well.
Do You Want Blogging Success? Are You Ready To Invest Yourself?
If you answered yes to these two questions then please read on.
Starting a blog can seem overwhelming at first. There’s so much to learn, with an encyclopedia of knowledge on this website alone.
After all, you first have to learn the basics, then figure out how to actually build it, then after that is done you’ll need to grow your audience, and then after you’ve done that you STILL need to learn how to monetize it.
But don’t be scared by what you don’t know. I am here to help.
This website exists for the sole purpose of helping you get started blogging, and then succeed once you dive in.
I was once in your shoes, believe it or not. I spent years, and many long nights, reading everything I could about blogging. Those years of learning have led to this site, on which I’ll teach you the basics of blogging, walking you through how to start, grow, and monetize your blog, every step of the way.
You can learn how to blog well, and the information you need is readily available for you on this blog, in books and through workshops. Start your blog small and have fun learning how to improve it as you go along.
Four Steps To Get Started Blogging
- Prove your investment: Be prepared to invest 10-40 hours of your time to set up your blog with your branding, and get to know your way round your blogging software. Or consider paying an expert to set up a blog for you for $1000-2000, so you can concentrate on creating content.
- Get writing: Just start brainstorming for ideas and writing useful and positive articles. Once you start writing on one topic sometimes you’ll slip off on a tangent and discover another subject worth sharing.
- Spread the word: Email your existing clients, leads, friends and relatives and tell them about your new blog. Add your website and blog address to all your new print materials and your email signature.
- Ask for feedback: Get people to tell you what they like and don’t like about your blog. When you’ve got a new website or blog, you’re constantly tweaking it and striving to improve it. That’s perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Expect it to take a while to be perfect and congratulate yourself on having started your blog.
Final Inspiration To Get Blogging Or Stick With It
Ten years ago the idea that someone like Perez Hilton could become a competitor for big news sites like CNN would have been ludicrous. The blogging game has only just got started and if you don’t play you won’t win.
There’s room for plenty more successful blogs out there. I like to think there’s a special need for more female bloggers, but whatever your gender, the publishing and business worlds are being shaken up. Now is the ideal time to get your foot in the door.
So, ladies and gentlemen, pick your niche, start writing and make your voice heard. There’s never been a better time for blogging. With a good blog at the very least, you’ll grow your business and who knows, maybe you will even go onto become a professional blogger.
Contents in this chapter:
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Now that you know why people blog, you’re probably curious to know whether or not it’s possible to actually make money on your blog. Let me tell you, from personal experience, that there is.
Like I mentioned above, a few years ago I left my full time job to make money blogging online. Becoming a full time bloggers isn’t easy, and it takes hard work, but if you gain a loyal following and build something that people want to read and come back to consistently, you can monetize that traffic and it becomes worthwhile if you do it correctly.
There are many different ways for bloggers to make money. They can sell ad space on the site, sell physical or digital products to readers, or promote consulting services that people might want to hire them for.
Or, my favorite, companies will pay bloggers to recommend their products and services to a blogger’s audience, who then gets a payout from that transaction for making the referral. This is called affiliate marketing, and is one of the most powerful ways to leverage a blogger’s audience.
There are plenty of other creative ways for bloggers to make money, but these are the most common. I personally use every one of these, and have made a full time living doing this.
It’s powerful, it’s effective, and it’s the way the future of marketing is moving.
How Much Do Bloggers Make?
The top earning blogs in the world are generating millions of dollars every month. However, blogging is not just about million dollar blogs… actually the majority of blogs on the internet don’t make more than $2,000 per year.
Understanding how these blogs make money, what the end goal for their sites are and how they turn their content into a business is what’s most important for bloggers of all niches and sizes to understand.
Breaking Down the Different Types of Bloggers in the Blogosphere
There are well over 100 million blogs in the world today and thousands of new content pieces and articles are going live every hour. This means you are up against a world of competition when you start a blog, so it’s extremely important for you to quickly discover what type of blogger you are going to be and where you would like to be six months to a year from now.
Which of these blogger types would you fall into?
- The Part-Time Professional
- The Hobbyist
- The Full-Time Professional
- The Corporate
- The Entrepreneur
For you visual folks out there, I put together an image that explains blogging basics for each of these categories.
The Five Types Of Bloggers
Still not sure where you fit into the blogging mix? Be sure to check out our Meet The Bloggers Interview Series, where we interview over a hundred of the most successful blogging experts in the world.
How Much Are Bloggers Earning with their Blogs?
As mentioned, most blogs simply don’t make enough money to be considered a full time job or a legitimate source of income. Stats show that only 14% of bloggers are actually earning any money through their blog at all.
This could be for a number of reasons, such as blogs being for non-profit, a hobby or the blogger simply has no idea how to get started or isn’t getting enough traffic to their sites.
Let’s take a look at this breakdown of how much bloggers are actually earning with their blogs:
- $24,086 is the average annual earnings
- $33,557 average annual earnings for corporate bloggers
- $1,000/year is what the average blogger earns when they are getting paid to post content to their site.
Most common ways to generate revenue:
- Display ads
- Affiliate marketing links
- Search ads
However, for those blogs that are generating revenue off their content and traffic, there are many different methods for them to choose from.
How much bloggers are earning
The most popular blog monetization methods are through Google Adsense, direct banner advertising and affiliate marketing.
The good news is that these monetization methods scale across all niches and platforms, which means anyone with a blog and a loyal audience can start generating revenue with their blog as long as they put in the time and effort.
A perfect example of a blog that went from nothing to making over a million dollars per year, is PerezHilton.com.
If you take a look at the site you will notice that there is a lot of banner advertising on the site. Perez could be monetizing his traffic through various different methods such as trying to sell his own products or merchandise, but instead the focus is on paid banner advertising.
When visiting their site, be sure to scroll down and see how many different ad placements are located throughout the site. Banner ad sales for PerezHilton can easily top over $45,000 per month for a single ad campaign.
Like I mentioned before, bloggers are coming up with new and creative ways to monetize their content and traffic all the time. The key is to get creative and think outside the box, and then money will follow.
Top Earning Blogs on the Internet
When you think of blogging, you probably don’t think of names like Huffington Post, Mashable and TechCrunch… but they are blogs and they are all running off the WordPress platform.
With that being said, not only are these legitimate blogs, but they are making millions of dollars per year through the use of their content and growing audience.
The top 10 highest earning blogs
Of course this is just a small sampling of the many blogs out there that are making money. I could probably add another ten to the list that I know are generating over $100,000 a month easily. But that’s a whole different topic for our Blog Monetization page.
Blogging is All About Content Value… Not Content Creation
By now it should be fairly evident that power and influence comes with blogging. But… if you aren’t creating the right content for your audience, what’s the point?
This is one of the biggest struggles for bloggers and brands around the world today. Most are just pushing out content for the sake of going live with new content — which doesn’t help with the end goal of a blog… which is to provide value and direction for an audience.
With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, there isn’t a need for more content — we simply need better content. The more time you spend on planning out and promoting your content, the more likely you are to find success in the world of blogging.
That is why, in my mind, the most important step in starting a blog (aside from learning blogging basics) is to take a laser-focused approach to figure out what you are going to be writing about, and then be crystal-clear about who your audience is and the value you are going to provide them.
The best way to approach content writing and blogging is to first understand who your audience is, what they want and how you can provide it to them. Your end goal is to create content that not only provides value to their audience… but also helps grow the brand and business in the process.
Consider each of the example niches below to get your creativity flowing. Of course, you can brainstorm your own ideas, but here are a few to get you started.
Example Group 1
The first group I want to call attention to is the lifestyle category. This category is made up of things that people are most often passionate about, and are highly skilled at.
This category lends itself to heavy social media promotion since the content oftentimes resonates with large audiences, especially in the form of tutorials and unique takes on topics that bloggers can offer.
We all know that friend that is an incredible cook. Well, what if she shared her guacamole recipe with the world? People would probably make it, then share that recipe with their friends. Starting to see how this works?
These are easy niches to get started in because things like food, beauty, or fitness are things people spend a lot of time doing, so there’s a lot to share!
Example Group 2
The next niche is more broad than the one above. In niches like personal, travel, or business blogging, the scope of what you write about is much less focused and much more general.
For example, if you were to create a personal blog, you could talk about life lessons, share stories from your dating life, offer advice about how you are efficient at work, you could review books you’ve read, or provide really any other information that you find interesting and that you think your audience would like.
I have some good friends that have turned a personal or travel blog into a passive income machine that practically prints money passively – all by simply writing about what they found interesting.
Example Group 3
Another type of niche that is popular among bloggers is one that is highly specific to either very small or large audiences. These are sometimes referred to as “micro niches”.
The idea behind micro niches is to get incredibly specific with the site’s topic, focusing on a very small niche that people are heavily invested in. Think of it like a Subreddit that is its own blog that doesn’t live on Reddit.
The audience of this type of niche is highly engaged, incredibly passionate about the topic, and will likely either contribute to the blog themselves, or at a minimum be highly engaged in commenting and sharing content.
Pets is probably the best example. If you’ve ever seen a blog all about corgis, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, I suggest you do a quick Google search for “corgi blog” and then read the comments below the posts. Do that and you’ll get the idea pretty quickly.
We’ve covered the majority of the most important blogging basics, but there’s one more thing we haven’t talked about yet – the blog platforms that allow you to actually start and launch a blog.
Different Types Of Blogging Platforms
Introduction To Blogging Platforms
When starting your first blog, you need to consider the very best blog hosting platform for you.
The hosting platform, or Content Management System (CMS), is what actually handles and stores all of the content you write. Your ideas and content won’t come into fruition if you don’t have a blog hosting platform that will help you bring them to life.
Your blog hosting platform of choice, however, depends on your needs and what you want to achieve as a blogger. Each platform offers something different from each other. Also, how comfortable you are with your chosen blog platform also plays a vital role in your decision.
For newbie bloggers, your choice of a blog hosting platform now will dictate the future of your blog. You can change the platform later on but it’s better to choose the right one as early as today to save you time from migrating your blog to a different platform.
Let’s take a look at how to choose the best blog hosting platform you must use for your blog by determining the different factors and choices at play to help you make an informed decision.
What Is The Best Blog Hosting Platform?
To establish the foundation of the article, we need to define what we mean by blog hosting platform.
There is a difference between a blog hosting platform and a blog platform.
A blog platform refers to sites that let you create an account to set up your blog there.
Examples of blogging platforms are WordPress.com, Medium, Tumblr, and others. There are also website builders like Weebly and Wix that use the drag-and-drop builder to help you create beautiful sites with no coding or design experience. You can sign up to these blog platforms for free but you can also upgrade your subscription to enjoy premium features.
With blog platforms, all you need to worry about is creating your content. After signing up for an account, you can customize the look and feel of your blog and publish content right away. You don’t have to concern yourself with the technical details of your blog, making blogging platforms perfect for beginners.
The disadvantage with blog platforms is their limitations. You can only customize your blog as much as the system allows you to. While this wouldn’t be an issue from the start, there’s a chance you may outgrow blogging platforms and look for more versatile platforms that let you tweak your blog from the ground up.
- Oftentimes free
- Very little technical knowledge required to get started
- Great for hobbyist bloggers not looking to make money
- Limited customization and functionality
- Blogging platform controls domain and url
Blog Hosting Platforms Are Different, Too
A blog hosting platform refers to web hosting services where you can set up and install your chosen blog platform.
The blogging platforms above do not require you to set them up with a web host. The ones that work best with web hosting providers are self-hosted blogging platforms like WordPress.org, Drupal, Joomla, and others.
There are different types of web hosting to choose from for your website. For newbie bloggers, shared hosting is the best choice for them right now because it is most affordable. This hosting type lets you set up your blog with other websites in the same server.
The caveat with shared hosting is that you share server resources. If a blog in the shared hosting is attracting the most traffic, most of the resources in the server will work for that blog, leaving your blog with little to work with.
However, unless your blog is attracting thousands of views a day, this shouldn’t be an issue right now. Also, you can upgrade your hosting plan to accommodate the needs of your blog.
That said, web hosting requires you to sign up for a monthly or annual subscription. The price of each web host depends on the features available. Once you have chosen your web hosting provider, you still need to install and set up your blog yourself.
- High level of customization and functionality
- Pre-made themes and plugins make design and adding new features easy
- Infinitely expandable. Some of the largest websites in the world run on these platforms
- These platforms cost money to run
- Technical knowledge is required to start and run this type of blog
Are Blogging Platforms Better Than Self-Hosted Ones?
As you can see, there are lots of factors coming into play when choosing a blog hosting platform. You manage the technical side of your blog and not just the writing and promoting of the posts. Beginners might find the process too intimidating and would take the easier route of signing up to sites like Medium and setting up their blog there.
However, the biggest advantage of web hosting platforms is the customization.
There’s so much you can do with a self-hosted blog. You can use plugins and add-ons to supercharge your blog and help you increase social shares, email subscribers, and traffic, things that aren’t available from website builders and other blog platforms.
In hindsight, blog platforms are easier to use but limits your blog from achieving more. Self-hosted blogs are much trickier to manage but the limit to how much you can achieve with it is endless!
My Take On Which Is The Best Blog Hosting Platform
Personally, I highly recommend you as newbie bloggers to set up a self-hosted blog.
It’s not as convenient compared to website builders as you need to teach yourself how to install and set up your blog from your hosting’s control panel.
However, most web hosting platform provide tons of support on how you can install your blog from their servers. We have a step-by-step guie to starting a blog, which also walks you through this process. You can even pay a little extra for managed WordPress hosting, where somebody else managed the hosting for you.
Therefore, getting your self-hosted blog up and running shouldn’t be a problem.
Recap: Types Of Blogging Platforms
1. WordPress.com Blog
2. WordPress.org Blog
3. Wix Blog
4. Squarespace Blog
5. Joomla Blog
6. Other Types Of Blogs
For your self-hosted blog, there are lots of choices for you. Personally, I suggest that you use WordPress. BloggingTips.com runs on WordPress, and if you like its look and feel, then you’ll definitely enjoy using this platform.
There are good reasons over 76 million websites run on WordPress. The ease of use, the available resources to help you build a beautiful site, and the tools you can use to supercharge your blog should convince you to use WordPress over others. Also, WordPress is a very SEO-friendly platform and makes people find your site on search engines much easier.
When choosing your blog hosting, you need to do your research. There are lots of hosting providers in the market and it will be impossible for you to pick one immediately.
However, to get you started, choose a provider that offers shared or WordPress hosting. They are cheap and affordable enough to help you set up a blog at minimum costs. Namecheap and SiteGround are web hosting providers that offer these hosting types to great effect.