In this guide, I will show you everything you need to know, from starting your blog to making money.
With over 600 million blogs out there, it’s becoming easy to create a blog but challenging to start a successful blog.
In fact, a high percentage of new bloggers give up after just five months.
So the question is:
How can you start an amazing blog without spending and suffering for months?
Let’s find out!
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: First Steps To Start A Blog
Building a blog is a project.
Like any project, it’s essential to know the best steps to take to achieve your goals efficiently.
But before we go into these steps, it’s necessary to know a few statics about blogging.
Some Blogging Statistics To Consider
Blogging keeps growing every year, creating more opportunities for everybody.
- There are over 600 million blogs on the internet and over 31.7 million in the US only.
- Blogging has grown by 12% since 2015, and 77% of internet users read blogs.
- Over 51% of blog readers shop online.
- In 2013, 1.7 million Americans listed making money as one reason they blog, which shows HUGE opportunities blogging has.
It’s not magic.
Working hard is what leads to success.
Let’s start with probably the first step every future blogger must take.
Step 1. Choose A Blog Niche That Suits You
A niche is what a website/blog talks about, its main topic.
NextWpFocus’s niche is ‘blogging.’
Why should you choose a niche that suits you?
We can mention two reasons.
First, you need a niche that fits you because you have to talk about something you understand and like.
I even prefer to say that you have to be 50-60% expert and 80% passionate about your niche.
The rest will gradually come over time.
The point is that you should write about things you’ve experienced, used, or seen.
Imagine you love reading posts about dogs, and you basically do it every day, but you don’t even have one.
It will be so hard for you to serve your audience correctly.
It will be tough to tell someone to do this or that to their dog if you don’t really understand what it means.
So, even though you are passionate, you don’t have enough experience to bring something new to your audience.
Indeed, having a dog doesn’t make you the best either.
But it gives you a good experience.
It gives you what you need to serve people at a higher level.
The second reason is your niche is what you will write about every day.
So, just imagine yourself writing about something you don’t understand and like.
Imagine the time it will take you to research and write a single post.
Can you handle 100 or 200 blog posts this way?
So, how can you avoid this and choose the right niche then?
1.1 Write Down What You Know And Rank It By Passion, Knowledge, and Experience.
What do I know best? (What is my level of experience?)
Let’s say that you are a brilliant account, but talking about it is boring.
Dad of three children, you love jogging and spending time at the gym.
And you also trade crypto online.
Now that you have your list, specify where you are strong and weak.
Can I bring value?
Can I share my thoughts with people, teach them, and will I love it?
Don’t think about copying content from other websites.
You need to know if what you will share is valuable, and you can do it.
If it’s not valuable enough, then make it 10x better than your competition (I will come back to this point later).
1.2 Research Crucial Facts About Your Niche
Finding your niche isn’t enough.
Researching facts should be the next step.
Here is where you will answer questions like:
- What are the most known or profitable blogs in my niche?
- When did they start, and how do they make money?
- Do they mainly sell products?
- How do users consider their blog content? And so on.
Why is research so important?
Because it’s helpful to know where you are putting your feet.
Remember what I said earlier: creating a blog is a project.
Take this example.
Imagine that you are in the “Health & Fitness” niche.
You don’t think about your competition and just start your blog.
Cool! Your blog is live!
But you forgot one thing:
the main reason you probably created your blog is to make money.
Thus, it doesn’t make sense if you don’t know how competition generates income and how YOU will do that.
Maybe you need to produce $ or $$$$ products.
Or maybe you need to sell other people’s products and gain through affiliate marketing.
If you ignore such crucial facts, you’d very likely give up after just five months.
Your blog will fail, and you will restart from zero.
So, how to avoid that?
1.2.1 Use Detailed To Get Insights Of Your Industry
Scroll down the page and choose the niche (In this example, fitness)
And I get a list of 50 blogs in the fitness niche.
Of course, it is not the only list to consider since “they are ranked based on how many other sites and people are talking about them”.
That’s why you can run a Google search of the top blogs in your niche.
Read the blog posts that have made the list and check their reasons.
Then, analyze each competitor on their own blog this time (date of start, income (if proven), community, resources, content, etc.)
If they sell any product, buy it and see what happens after buying it.
Are there other products they will sell to you?
What kind of products? Online? Physical? Courses, maybe?
This gives you an idea of how your competitors make money.
They make money because people are interested in what they sell and are ready to spend money.
Follow the same process for two or as many blogs as you can.
Step 2. Find Your Domain Name
In simple words, a domain name is what people type in their browser to find your blog or website.
Nextwpfocus.com is my domain name.
It’s generally the same name as the blog name.
Nextwpfocus is what I use in my blog logo, and when I am asked what the name of my blog is, I say “Nextwpfocus.”
Typically, choosing yours should not be a hassle.
The reason is that there is no perfect name or perfect technique to select one.
So do not worry too much!
Now, how to find your domain name?
One technique is to write your niche-relevant keywords such as pet, pets, companion animal, etc.
Then, write down some adjectives or any word you think can help, like adorable, lovely, deep, serious, focus, etc.
Now, play a small game by adding what you like to the terms. You can have:
bravepets.com ; mypetfocus.co ; companimal.com ; ourlifewithpets.co ; etc.
It should be fun and enjoyable, and you’d be surprised when you come up with a great name.
If you think it’s still hard for you, then use a blog name generator.
It’s a tool that suggests names based on the info you enter.
Actually, there are typically dozens of them out there, free and paid.
Businessnamegenerator, for example, is the best free domain name generator I have ever used.
You just enter some details.
You can even apply filters to get more relevant results.
Here you are! Thousands of domain names you can use or modify.
Click one to check availability.
Now that you have your domain name, let’s move on.
Pro tip: If you still have found your domain name, ask your hosting provider to give you a temporary domain name. You can use it till you find yours.
Step 3. Choose Your Blogging Platform
If you are new to blogging, then you probably don’t have a blogging platform yet.
It’s the platform you will use to create and customize your blog.
Of course, choosing the right blogging platform can really save you time and money.
That’s why I highly recommend WordPress as your way to go.
With its straightforward interface, you can easily make your blog the way you want it.
WordPress is so widely used that
- it powers 42.8% of sites on the internet in 2020,
- Over 400 million people visit WordPress sites yearly,
- about 70 million posts are being published on it every month.
And it’s not just about blogs.
Even companies mostly prefer WordPress.
Moreover, the best part is that it’s FREE.
But besides all these statistics, you also get what you can’t find anywhere else.
Things You Get When Creation Your Blog WordPress
There are three important things to mention.
With WordPress, you get:
- Over 7000 Themes (free and paid blog templates) already created for you.
- More than 50,000 plugins: tools to help you design your blog and manage your daily site maintenance.
- Tons of help online, especially on Google and YouTube.
Do you have a problem with your blog?
Just google it. Someone has probably encountered the same issue and found the solution.
You don’t know which tool to use to contact subscribers?
Just type “WordPress email marketing plugins” on Google to get a list.
Oh, one more thing.
With all these themes and plugins, you absolutely don’t need to know how to code.
Actually, everything was done to make your life easier.
So, here is what to keep in mind:
Choose a platform that is easy to use and will save you time and money.
In fact, my blog is using WordPress and I have zero coding knowledge.
It helped me use my money wisely and create my blog myself.
Step 4. Find A Hosting Provider To Put Your Blog On The Internet
A hosting company hosts your site and puts it on the internet.
Without one, you almost can’t do it.
Thus, it is just like the land, WordPress being the house.
But since there are dozens of hosting companies out there, choosing the right one can be tricky.
That’s why, when asked which company to go with, I always recommend Siteground.
Recommended by WordPress and powering over two million sites, it’s one of the leaders in its area.
Siteground meets these three key points I consider to be necessary when choosing your blog.
1. Speed And Servers
The first point is speed.
Nobody wants to use a slow website.
People like pages that load fast so that they can get into the content. But if your site is slow, they will quickly leave.
And the truth is that choosing the wrong host can damage your site speed and give a bad user experience to your readers.
That’s why I chose Siteground.
They provide SSD storage and host your blog on Google Cloud to maximize speed.
Above that, they have three servers to ensure that users access your blog wherever they are located.
2. Customer Service
When a project is new to you, you seek help when you are stuck.
And it’s normal.
As a new blogger, I couldn’t always find all the answers to my questions online.
Sometimes, I had to talk to people directly.
A good hosting provider is the one that will assist you whenever you need support, 24/7.
With Siteground, I received help even before I bought a plan.
Any time I contacted them online, they assisted me quickly.
Moreover, I receive better support ever since I am their customer.
I now experience why Siteground is known for offering the best customer support among all hosting providers.
3. Reasonable Starting And Renewal Prices
One more thing to keep in mind is the price.
You certainly want to spend wisely.
And it’s even better if you get “speed” and “friendly customer service” at a reasonable price.
That’s exactly what Siteground offers.
What Is The Right Hosting Plan For You
It depends on you.
If you have so much money that spending is not a problem, then choose the GoGeek plan.
However, I recommend going with the StartUp Plan
The StartUp plan starts at $6.99/month for a 12-months subscription is cheaper for a more extended subscription.
Finally, you can upgrade your plan for more space and features when you start getting consistent traffic.
The 2 best alternative blog hosting platforms worth considering
I usually recommend two hosting companies when people ask for Siteground alternatives.
Bluehost, for example, is another excellent hosting site recommended by WordPress.
Created in 2002, they are one of the world leaders and power more than 2 million sites worldwide.
Starting at $2.75/month, Bluehost even gives you a free domain name for the first year.
There is also HostGator.
Also founded in 2002, HostGator provides good plans for beginners at affordable prices, like the Starter Plan at $5.95/mo.
Like Bluehost, they grant you free domain registration for the first year.
Plus, you benefit from unlimited storage space for your blog.
These three hosting providers are part of the five best hosting providers for your blog.
So, here you are!
These are the first steps you have to complete before even creating your blog.
It’s essential to know your niche and thoroughly think about it.
Chapter 2: Customize Your New WordPress Blog
Up to now, we’ve only talked about theory.
Now, we will get our hands duty.
We will install our WordPress blog and buy our domain name.
We will also see the best WordPress themes to choose from for your blog and much more.
So, let’s continue with our project.
Step 1. Install WordPress And Have A Look At Your Brand New Blog
In this post, I will host my blog with SiteGround.
Note that the process is almost the same with BlueHost and HostGator.
1.1 Go to Siteground and choose a WordPress hosting
1.2 Choose your hosting plan
1.3 Register your new domain
1.4 Enter your payment information and select the desired extra services
Yay! You’ve installed WordPress.
From here, SiteGround will lead you to your blog.
They will show you where you can use all their features to speed your website and so much more.
They will also show how you can access your WordPress blog.
Step 2: Choose a good theme
Simply put, a theme is a collection of pre-built templates or designs you can use to build your website.
Let’s be honest:
customizing a blog CAN be scary.
You look at your big screen but cannot see where to start.
That’s why a theme is necessary, even though you already know your blog design.
It will help you customize your blog and make it look the way you want it.
But there is a real problem.
The number of existing WordPress themes can make it really hard to select one.
You watch tons of videos where each speaker recommends their preferred themes.
And I am not different.
I also have two themes to recommend as well.
But before that, let me quickly share why I recommend these themes.
1. Prebuilt Websites
Prebuilt websites (templates or demos) help you begin right away.
Some themes have 70+ templates; each design made to inspire you.
So, you will always find a design that meets your needs and saves you a lot of time and money.
2. Page Builder And Features
Since you pay for the theme, the company always makes sure you get simple tools to edit the templates your way.
That’s why they add a compatible Page Builder with many features.
The Page Builder helps you design the menu, footer, widgets, create content, and do so much more.
3. Help And Support
As a valued customer, you receive premium support from their customer service.
Some providers give you access to live chat with the support team, while others respond in less than 24h.
They also produce guides and several tutorial videos to guide you through the different features of the theme.
4. Updates And Security
Since it’s not free, the company works hard to keep its customers happy.
So, you get regular updates to ensure you have the latest tools, features, and security codes.
What Theme Should You Choose To Start Your Blog?
There are two many plugins to mention.
However, when asked which themes I recommend, I always mention Divi and Avada.
I recommend them because I use both of them.
They each meet the four points I mentioned above and constantly add new designs.
Divi and Avada are popular WordPress themes known for their efficiency and ease of use.
Step 3. Install These 8 Necessary WordPress Plugins
What do I mean by necessary?
Because there is no need to install all the plugins when you start creating your blog.
Most of the paid plugins have free versions, and their paid plans are usually yearly.
For instance, if you are currently creating your blog, you probably don’t need an SEO or a Google Analytics plugin now.
Installing plugins at the wrong time will consume your time. And, therefore, it will be a waste of money.
So, what are the necessary plugins to install?
When Customizing Your Blog (Before It Goes Live)
Seedprod: One of the best “Coming Soon” plugins.
It creates a beautiful page people will see when they land on your website under construction.
Elementor: If your theme doesn’t have a page builder, consider installing this plugin.
With Elementor, the best free WordPress Page Builder, you can create a perfect design for any page.
WPForms: It allows you to create forms like a contact form.
UpdraftPlus: You never know what will happen when designing your blog. You can make a mistake and can’t undo it.
UpdraftPlus backs up your site (pages, posts, theme, plugins, etc.) and restores it whenever you want.
Wordfence: A plugin that secures your blog and prevents attacks.
When Creating Content And After
Yoast SEO: You write content for people to read it. And the more people read your content, the better your blog will be.
That’s why you need an SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO helps you write optimized content to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).
WP Rocket: Created to make your WordPress blog load faster.
This cashing plugin accelerates the loading time and allows your users to travel between pages fast.
ExactMetric: Checks the number of users on your site, where they come from, the most read posts, etc.
Bonuses For You
How To Install A WordPress Plugin
In your dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. Research your plugin and click Install.
Click Activate, and your plugin is installed.
Pretty easy, right?
Step 3: Create Relevant Pages For Your Blog
There is no doubt that a site without pages does not make sense.
But simply adding any pages doesn’t make sense either.
That’s why you have to have relevant ones.
A page is a timeless content.
It’s used to share information with your readers, but it’s a piece of content you don’t plan on updating frequently.
An example is the Home page.
Content on this page is probably going to stay relevant in the next two or more years.
And one of the key points to keep in mind when creating your pages is User Experience (UX).
What do you want people to find immediately?
Is it the “about” page? Then put is visible.
Is it the “blog” page? Then put it visible too.
And pages that are visible are primarily those in the website Menu. They are easy to find.
So, here are the relevant pages to include in your blog:
- Home Page: This is the first page one lands on when they enter your site URL in their browser.
- About Page: Talk about yourself here or what people can expect from you. If possible, add your picture to this page
- Blog Page: Here is where you display blog posts, starting from the latest one.
- Contact Page: Let users contact you for help or opportunities.
- Products/Services/Courses: If you think about selling products, this page can describe them.
- Terms & Conditions: Explains to users what they can or can’t do on your blog, what you sell, how to consider your content, etc. Of course, you can add it to the footer.
Chapter 3: Prepare Your Lead Magnet and Build an Email List
What is a lead magnet?
In simple words, a lead magnet is something you give to someone in exchange for their email address.
It can be a free course, a pdf, or anything that can solve the person’s problem.
It has undoubtedly happened to you before.
You are on a website, and you are asked to sign up to get something in return.
But why do website owners do it?
For one reason: Email List.
An email list is a collection of emails you have received through your blog or website.
Let’s see why it’s crucial to have a list.
3 Reasons Why You Should Start A Blog With An Email List
Let’s mention three reasons only, although there are many.
1. It Builds TRUST With Your Readers.
Those that have subscribed took their time to enter their details.
It shows that they like your content and want to receive more from you.
Now, you can give them some best tips or content you may not publish on your blog.
And when you have an announcement, you know who to inform.
Gradually, you are building trust and an ultimate relationship with your subscribers.
2. Subscribers Are Visitors Who Return
Imagine you can email 50 000 subscribers when you publish a new post.
That means about 50 000 users will read that particular post.
But what if you don’t have a list?
You will have to promote it differently or wait for that post to rank well to get some traffic.
It isn’t nice, right?
The goal is always to have enough people on your blog.
One thousand readers shouldn’t be enough for you. Go higher.
3. Money Is in The List
This is the best reason.
Subscribers are the first people to target when you sell a product.
For example, if you create a course with zero subscribers, you have nobody to contact.
You go from “zero body” in the list to building it.
However, the list already provides you people to reach out to. They are leads.
So, you first need a lead magnet to get emails.
Let’s see how to create it.
Step 1. Research What Interests People In Your Niche
Get a list of at least ten competitors (Blogs in the same niche).
On competitors’ sites, check the lead magnets they propose.
Check if the leads solve a pain or a problem people face in your niche.
Write down the headlines they use on the lead magnet and the type of magnet they use.
Is it a pdf, a video, a course, an ebook?
Step 2. Subscribe To Hack Their Process
Knowing what other bloggers offer is not enough.
We also need to know how what they teach behind the magnet.
What do they say, how do they deliver it, do they offer extra stuff?
The goal is to know what other bloggers propose and improve it.
People tend to subscribe when the proposed item solves their problem or gives more knowledge.
Think about the users’ pain.
Heal it by providing a better solution.
Step 3. Create Your Lead Magnet
After you decide on what your niche needs, create a squeeze page.
On the squeeze page, add a form with the lead magnet.
This page only has one ultimate goal: getting leads.
It’s something you give for free.
Then, how to create the lead magnet?
The tool you will use to create the lead magnet hugely depends on what you are offering.
Step 4. Create Your Email List
So you’ve got a subscriber.
It’s time to build more trust with the person since you can now contact them directly.
You can use an email marketing tool like Convertkit.
With this tool, you can write and send emails to subscribers automatically.
For instance, you can set that when someone fills in the form to get the magnet
- they receive the free resource,
- They receive a welcome message,
- And a moment later, a gift or unique content.
You fully control what is sent to subscribers and when; without pressing any button.
That is the email list.
Building an email list is no doubt the best resource for your blog. Never think about waiting for two or three months before you make a lead magnet. Create it when you start a blog.
Chapter 4. Three Ways To Make Money Blogging
Let’s be honest:
the reason the majority of people start a blog is to make some money.
Sure, we also love interacting with people, or we want to help others overcome some situations.
It’s normal, and they deserve respect.
Additionally, making some income will help you serve people at a higher level.
Treat your blog like a business, like a company you are trying to grow.
Set targets, reach them, and be successful.
Never think that you can’t do it. You definitely CAN.
So what are the different ways to do that?
Master Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s products and get a commission in return.
These products can be either physical or virtual/online, and the commission is based on a percentage or an amount you get once a user buys the product through your affiliate link.
Of course, it’s better to sell things that match your niche and audience.
It doesn’t make sense if a dog-related blog sells accounting products.
It’s targeting the wrong people and proves you don’t understand their needs.
Many companies mention their affiliate program on their site and describe the process.
So, check all their requirements before processing.
Affiliate marketing can be a REAL source of income if you take it seriously.
Make Money With Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is about writing for a product on your blog.
You are paid an amount of money to talk about a product or a service offered by someone else.
Remember that you need to write about something relevant to your niche, no matter the amount of money.
Even if you make $2500+ from one single post, your readers must benefit from it first.
Consider Creating Your Own Product
This is the best, in my opinion.
Affiliate Marketing And Sponsored Content are good, but having your own product is excellent.
Again, you can sell physical things, services, or courses.
Let’s say it this way!
With affiliate marketing, you almost don’t control anything.
Whether it pleases you or no, others set the commission you get.
On the other side, you wish brands to contact you for sponsored content.
Sometimes, you can close a good deal, but it doesn’t always happen.
With both ways, you don’t have control.
Nevertheless, with your services, you are in control.
YOU fix the price and plan the whole selling strategy.
And here is an important fact:
No matter how successful you are with sponsored content or affiliate programs, selling your product may be much more profitable.
When you start a blog, think about what type of product you can create.
There are more ways to make money blogging, and a dedicated post will be helpful.
Sadly, there is no magic button. It’s not about betting; it’s about hard work. These four tips are true ways of generating income.
Start a blog and think about how you can make money from the beginning.
Now it's Your Turn
Starting a blog is a fantastic experience.
It’s about implementing the proper steps from choosing the niche to launching it.
Now, I’d like to hear from you.
What is the most challenging part for you?
Is it the email list?
Or maybe you can’t find the nicest domain name.
Either way, let me know your concern in the comment, and I’d be with you.