The key to learning how to make a successful blog is to implement best practices, including choosing a niche, naming your blog, and SEO. A blog is relatively easy to start, and you can do so for as little as $2.59 per month. Also, becoming a successful blogger could translate into a full-time income.
To really scale your blog, you’ll need a web host that provides helpful tools and resources to do so. We recommend DreamHost because of its 100% uptime guarantee and 24/7 access to support when you need it. You can get started for as little as $2.59 per month, too. Visit DreamHost to get started.
The eight steps on how to make a successful blog include:
1. Choose a Niche
Your niche gives readers an idea of what to expect from your blog. For example, a food niche sets the expectation that you’ll post food recipes, techniques, or maybe even all of the delicious eats you’ve had during your travels. No matter which niche you pick, it’s best to avoid veering too far away from it in each blog post. The reason you should stay on topic is that your readers may lose interest if you post something off-topic.
Business niches help others in many different areas, whether it’s in small business, entrepreneurship, or corporations. Topics covered under a business niche include day-to-day operations, marketing, customer experience, and sales. Whatever you cover in your business blog, the more specific you are with your audience, the better.
Your food blog may be as narrow or as wide as you desire. For example, you can write exclusively about keto diet recipes, sous vide recipes, or recipes involving a pressure cooker. A wider niche is baking recipes, since you can write recipes about sweet or savory goods. Successful food blogs typically include detailed, step-by-step instructions with a lot of photos.
A fitness blogger can write about dieting, working out, staying healthy, or even about participating in a fitness competition. Many popular fitness bloggers provide custom workout routines for a fee, which is a service-based way to make money fitness blogging. You don’t necessarily have to be in shape to blog about fitness, either. People enjoy seeing the entire journey, not just your “after” picture.
Writing about parenting can help others feel as though they’re not alone in raising children. Some parenting bloggers provide tips and tricks for helping the baby sleep through the night, fun family activities to do on the weekends, or even about the challenges of single parenting. It’s important to note that what you put on the internet stays there forever, so give a pause before posting anything your child may be embarrassed by in the future.
The world of DIY blogging isn’t just about home improvement. In fact, many bloggers make a great income blogging about DIY crafts. There are even bloggers who specialize in DIY activities for date nights, holidays, and events. You can sell your DIY templates or finished products to your readers, too.
2. Name Your Blog
While you can change the name of your blog down the road, it’s not all that easy to do and you risk sabotaging whatever brand authority you’ve built. It’s best to choose a blog name that grows with you and doesn’t limit you. For example, while you may thoroughly enjoy your life as a blonde foodie right now, hair color is something you might change down the road. Naming your blog The Blonde Foodie may not be the best pick.
Similarly, your life as a lawyer may define who you are right now, and The Lawyer Chronicles might make sense. However, you may decide that you want to make a career change later on. Your blog’s name should encompass who you are, or what your blog is about, but it shouldn’t be limiting.
Best practices for naming your blog include names that are:
- Unique: You might really enjoy reading the blog, The Skinny Confidential, but you shouldn’t then name your own blog something very similar, such as The Fat Confidential or The Skinny Secret. Your blog’s name should be completely unique.
- Consistent: If the name you want to choose for your blog is already used as a username on any of the major social media channels, such as Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, choose another. You want your blog’s social media usernames to be consistent with your blog’s name on each channel.
- Simple: A blog’s name needs to be easy-to-spell. Avoid names such as “Fyt Mombie” as a play on Fit Mom Zombie. While cute, intentionally misspelled and clever names only cause confusion. You shouldn’t have to break down the name for someone.
- Future-minded: A blog name needs room for growth. While you may love your life as a single bachelor, you might end up meeting the love of your life a year from now. This means, “Single Bachelor in NYC” might not be the greatest fit for a blog name. After all, you might move and settle down.
3. Select a Web Host
Although using WordPress.org is free, you’ll still need to pay for hosting. You’ll typically pay a lot less if you pay for a year in advance, but even the month-by-month rate is usually less than $10 per month. For example, DreamHost is $4.95 if you pay monthly; otherwise, it’s $2.59 per month when you pay for an entire year. Another popular blog host is Bluehost.
Most of the major blog hosts offer one-click installation of WordPress. For this reason, we won’t get into the step-by-step installation instructions since you’ll likely never encounter the need for it. Similarly, if you’re using an all-in-one provider such as Squarespace, you don’t need a blog host since it’s both a host and website builder, so you definitely won’t need to install WordPress because you’re not using it.
If you’re starting a brand-new blog, DreamHost is an excellent option. It provides free templates that help you customize the look of your entire blog. Should there ever be any downtime on your blog, you’ll get a credit to your bill because of DreamHost’s 100% uptime guarantee. Packages start at $2.59 per month.
Another really popular option for new bloggers is Bluehost. It doesn’t offer a month-to-month option, but you pay $35.40 per year, which comes out to $2.95 per month. You’ll get a 99.9% uptime guarantee, support via chat, phone, or through a support ticket system. You can get a free domain name and up to five email addresses with its lowest-priced package.
With Squarespace, you get hosting and a website builder in one platform, and you won’t be using WordPress. There’s a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to change the look of your blog without using code such as Java, CSS, or HTML. You can even get started with a free Squarespace plan; otherwise, packages go up to $40 per month if you need an online store with your blog.
4. Install a Theme
A theme is similar to a template that you can customize to change the way that your blog looks and functions. This typically involves changing colors, placement of page elements, and font options. If you’re using Squarespace, you’ll have just a few themes to choose from, but you can purchase themes from online marketplaces such as Etsy. It’s important to note that while it does advertise an actual theme for purchase, the instructions are actually on how to customize a free theme to look like the theme you’re purchasing.
You’ll get the most customization by using WordPress, since you can use HTML, CSS, and Java to radically change the look and feel of your blog. However, you don’t necessarily have to know this coding yourself. There are many different free and premium themes available, and each theme comes with instructions on installing them into your WordPress blog. Not to worry though, it’s just a few clicks of a button to do so.
You can purchase premium themes for as little as 50 cents, and if you want a custom theme you’ll spend thousands of dollars for a web and graphic designer. Most bloggers purchase pre-made themes and then use HTML or CSS to add different elements to their blog.
After finding a theme, you’ll get a zip file containing a compressed version of the data for your theme. You’ll take this zip file and upload it to your administrative panel. To access this, navigate to www.YOURDOMAINNAME.COM/wp-admin. When signed in, click on “appearance” and then “themes” to upload your new theme. Once uploaded, you can customize the theme to fit your blog’s branding.
5. Customize & Optimize Your Blog with Plugins
Becoming a successful blogger doesn’t require a ton of technical expertise. If you’re not keen on HTML, Java, or CSS, you can still customize your blog using plugins. A plugin extends the capabilities of your blog, such as helping reduce spam, improving search engine optimization (SEO), and adding social media share buttons.
Popular blog plugins include:
- Akismet: With Akismet, it will block any known spammers and keywords used in comments that are most likely to be spam. These spammers will instead get sent to the spam folder.
- Social Warfare: You want to make it really easy for readers to share your content. Social Warfare is a plugin that adds social media icons to the side of your blog post for easy sharing.
- Google Analytics by Yoast: You’ll need to know the analytics of your blog if you want to monetize it with partnerships. Google Analytics also helps you figure out what is and isn’t working so you can fine-tune your approach.
- Jetpack: Everyday, blogs receive malicious login attempts. This plugin prevents those, and it also notifies you if your site is down. This way, you can reach out to your blog’s host to rectify any problems.
6. Use Search Engine Best Practices
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of making sure that your blog is well-liked by search engines. When a user googles a particular phrase or keyword, the results that show on the page are SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages. As a blogger, it’s your goal to not only show up on the first page, but to maintain the highest ranking on that page.
Best practices for SEO include:
- Speed: Remove any unnecessary plugins, because those can slow down your page. If your page takes too long to load, a visitor is likely to go straight back to the SERP and choose another link. Google’s algorithm doesn’t like this.
- Length: Your blog posts need to be at least 300 words, and more than 2,000 is better. The reason for this is because Google wants to give the best answers for a search query. Be as thorough as possible in your post—answering the 30-second, 3-minute, and 30-minute reader.
- Meta-descriptions: The meta description is the little summary given on a SERP that tells people what your blog post is about. This meta description needs to be thorough yet succinct.
- Keywords: A keyword is typically what a user puts into a search engine when looking for an answer. An example is, “how to make a successful blog?” Use these keywords in the post title, meta description, and sprinkled throughout the blog post without over-using it.
7. Create a Content Calendar
Also known as an editorial calendar, a content calendar is a great way to plan your upcoming content and keep track of each article in the pipeline. An easy way to do this is to use a free list-making tool such as Trello. This allows you to create a board with several different columns. You should have a column for blog post ideas, content you’ve decided to create, content ready to go live, and the finished and published articles.
The best part about Trello is that you can drag and drop between categories, assign due dates, and even tag team members in each task. This is available both on a desktop as well as a mobile phone. You can even upload a picture, or choose from any number of pictures, to use as the background of your Trello board.
8. Write Your First Blog Post
Your first blog post should provide an introduction to your readers as to what they can expect going forward. You can start with why you’re blogging or what inspired you to start. Or, you can answer the most burning question that people ask you about your niche. For example, if you’re starting a French cooking blog, you can write a detailed post about how to create the perfect croissant on your first try.
From there, every blog post that you write should thoroughly answer a question. A good place to research blog post topics is to see what questions people ask in Facebook groups pertaining to your niche. Similarly, you can use Pinterest to see related keywords. For example, if you type in Pigeon Forge, suggested keywords include “things to do in,” “restaurants,” and “budget.” You could write a blog post on each of these keywords.
How to Monetize Your Blog
After you’ve built your content and focused on providing the best answers to your audience, you might consider starting to monetize your blog. There are many ways to do this—whether it’s through ad networks, working with brands, or selling your own products and services. You’ll want to think about what is in alignment with your blog. You don’t want to partner with a brand that provides farm fresh meat if you’re a vegan blogger, for example.
Ways to monetize your blog include:
- Ads: As a blogger, you can become part of an ad network. Some ad networks require you to have a specific number of visitors per month, however, it’s pretty easy to get started using Google AdSense. You’ll share in the revenue of any purchases made using the ads placed on your blog.
- Sponsorships: Influencer networks provide an enormous list of bloggers and influencers to their clients, which are usually large brands. Bloggers apply for opportunities to work with these brands, and then get paid by the network once the work is complete, typically within 60 days.
- Affiliates: An affiliate receives a commission for generating merchant sales, and sometimes even for getting a click or a lead. Some merchants have in-house affiliate programs, otherwise a blogger can join any number of affiliate marketing programs.
- Products & services: A blogger can sell online courses, in-person workshops, e-books, physical books, and even products such as apparel. Or, service-based products work well, too. These include graphic design, consulting, and coaching.
How to Get Traffic to Your Blog
The success of your blog is often measured not in how much money it makes, but by how much traffic it gets. Although, if you’re creating great content and have a lot of traffic, money isn’t usually too far behind. To get more traffic, you’ll use a combination of ads, guest blogging, internal linking, and social media.
Strategies for getting more page views on your blog include:
- Run ads: For less than $5 per day, you can run ads on any number of social media platforms. You can also run ads on Google.
- Use social media: You should have a presence on all major social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You don’t necessarily have to master all of them, though. Share your blog posts periodically using platform-specific images.
- Guest blog: When you write a guest blog post for another blog, you get to include a link back to your own blog. This not only gets you SEO-friendly backlinks, but readers who like your guest post will likely go to read more of your content on your own blog.
- Link internally: Linking to similar content within an article helps supplement and expand on ideas for your readers. You don’t want to stuff articles full, but sprinkle them throughout your post a few times, depending on how long your content is.
Bottom Line – How to Make a Successful Blog
While overnight success isn’t likely, anyone has the ability to have success with resources and time. It takes creating great content, building an audience, and being consistent to reap the financial rewards of blogging. This process typically takes more than a year to master, and even then you should continue to learn more and implement rapidly.
As your blog grows, you’ll need a reliable web host that can grow with you. We recommend DreamHost because of its 100% uptime guarantee, pre-installation of WordPress, and ability to contact customer support 24/7—which at times is necessary as a blogger. Get started for as little as $2.59 per month.