The thought of owning a blog and making money working from home is something that anyone would find enticing.
The idea of starting a blog is probably something that’s crossed your mind, or maybe you’ve decided that you want to do it after reading my incredible articles.
Trust me, I don’t blame you 🙂
But, before you leap into the fray though, let’s talk about some things that you need to know before you start a blog. If you’re already ready to take the next steps, you can select an option from one of the best free blogging sites or self-hosted options.
These 40 items are more than just pieces of advice – they are nuggets of gold. Do things the right way and your traffic could be spiking, just like this:
Here’s what you’ll learn today:
- A seven day schedule to prepare and launch your blog
- Daily tasks and pieces of knowledge to help you along your journey
- Coverage on everything from blog topics, to plugins and social media
Does your job make you happy? It’s a fair question, and one that many people would answer with a flat out “no.” People think they just have to settle for the job that pays the bills, but blogging can give you a rewarding lifestyle and a massive paycheck that keeps everyone happy.
As a blogger, I, like so many others enjoy these benefits and many more:
You may not be a writer, and you may not know a thing about HTML coding, and you don’t need to. Anyone can blog! Don’t wait though, don’t let this idea fall to the wayside. Instead, find out how to start your blog and absorb these 40 things to know NOW.
Seven days from now, you’re going to be a blogger. Day one begins NOW!
Day One: I’m Going to Start a Blog!
“The longest journey begins with a single step.”
– Lao Tsu
Interesting quote, isn’t it? For you, that single steps begin with the idea of starting a blog suddenly popping into your head.
From there, it grows into a confidence, and from there a willingness.
You have that idea, my blogging powers tell me so. It’s time to find out what you should know and do before you start this blog.
1. Say it!
You’ve thought about making a website, you’ve considered it, but now it’s time to tell the world. So, say it out loud:
“I’m going to start a blog today.”
“I’m going to start a blog today.” [click to tweet]
Saying it out loud makes it a verbal contract.
A contract between you and the world that you can’t break. Take that first step, make your intentions known. That’s the first step.
2. There Are a LOT of Blogs Online!
In 2014 there were over 152 million blogs online. That number didn’t stop there though…
A new blog is created every half a second!
Doing the math, I’m guessing anywhere from four to six blogs went live while you were reading this. You may think this is supposed to discourage you, but it’s not. Competition is part of blogging, sure, but these numbers are supposed to get you pumped.
If there’s millions of blogs out there making money, then this isn’t some hobby as people may think. This is a means of working from home and doing something you love.
3. People Visit Blogs For a Variety of Reasons
Blogs have been used for a variety of things over the years. Originally they were simply online journals, but they’ve evolved to cover a number of topics and purposes:
- Do it yourself guides
- Numbered lists
- Product reviews
- How to start a blog (*wink*)
- Fashion blogs
- Online portfolios
Just about any topic out there has some sort of missing piece where people are asking questions. The answers to those questions lie within the blogs all across the internet. It’s time to make yours one of them.
4. Oh Yeah, You Can Make Money Blogging
When you’re working on your blog, you can be making money with every word you type. No, it doesn’t pay-per-word, but there are plenty of ways to make money blogging. It all comes from having a great set of posts and a stellar blog that fills the void in your topic.
This is just one of many different ways to earn from your blog.
5. Success Comes With Time
Setting up your blog only takes a few minutes, but making money takes a little longer. I think one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you’ll need time and energy invested before you see the money coming in. In other words, don’t let the bad days get you down.
You’ll get where you want to be, you just have to keep up the pace. Between that, and the right use of blogging tools, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
6. Start Networking Immediately
When i say networking, I don’t mean start plugging everything with an internet connection into your router, I mean getting to know people in your field. In business, connections are everything. As the saying goes:
It’s all about who you know.
The same holds true about blogging, except blogging doesn’t require you to be anywhere in particular. Instead you can network by using social sites like LinkedIn or the old fashioned way: commenting on other blogs and emailing their owners.
All it takes a friendly outreach and suddenly you have a valuable resource on your hands. Imagine if one of these people started telling others about your blog. That would be huge!
Day Two: What’s My Topic?
“First: discover who you are. Second: discover your blog. Step three: profit.”
– Matt Banner
Yeah, I quote myself sometimes.
7. Things NOT to do When Choosing Your Blog Topic
Your blog’s topic is a reflection of you and the things you care about. That being said, it’s not a broad topic, it’s more or a narrow concept that you are moving in on to conquer. It’s a careful choice that shouldn’t be made lightly. Here are some things to stay away from when choosing your topic:
- Your blog topic shouldn’t be based on which one makes money consistently.
- Make sure your topic has a following and an audience you can target (in other words, don’t make a blog for the Amish since they don’t use internet).
- Stay away from topics that you don’t know much about.
- Don’t sway from the topic at hand, pick something focused.
How to Choose your Blogging Niche
Try using Buzzsumo for content inspiration. Buzzsumo has to be one of my favorite tools to see what others are writing about, which articles are more successful than others, and who’s sharing those articles with the world.
Head over to Buzzsumo and type in a topic idea in the search bar.
Then, Buzzsumo will show you the top articles written on that topic, sorted by the most shared on social media.
Let’s go one step deeper:
Click “view sharers” to see who the active people are that are sharing content in your niche. These people are more likely to have identically great content shared on their social platforms. Dig into who these people are and see what types of content they share most often.
8. Finding Your Niche
As I mentioned in the previous number, your topic is more than just a broad idea. That’s what you start with: a great idea. From there you narrow it down to a place where other blogs haven’t yet dared to go, but the people demand answers. That place is called a niche.
Your blog’s posts will revolve around this niche and the various questions and answers within it. By doing this, you’ll be providing a new resource for people within that niche and your audience will come from that.
Here’s a great exercise to help you find your niche:
1. Family Business – There’s always a degree of informal training given by your parents. Perhaps they run a business you can help out with. Furthermore, you may even know more about a particular niche if your family has been involved in it.
2. Educational Background – Did you go to school? If so, what did you study? You may have a significant advantage by having an education and focusing on a particular area of study. Say you studied nursing while you were in school, that expertise you learned during those classroom days can give you your first taste of a breakthrough in online marketing.
You can easily share with the world, in your own words, what you know about studying nursing and how you can make an impact with that knowledge (i.e. Making a nurse’s job easier, tips on how to be more hospitable to patients, advice on how to get the best nursing education, etc.).
3. Career Background – You might have some real world experience that you can give a first hand perspective with. Did you install alarm systems in your 20’s? You can start sharing your own personal experiences and in-depth advice because you were physically installing alarms. That insight is invaluable.
9. Do Your Research
Don’t just pick something that sounds good to you. Instead, do some legwork by searching your topic/niche on Google and see what comes up.
Check out popular blogs within that realm and see how well they’re doing. Find out if your choice is something that has potential and interest.
10. Decide on Your Blog’s Purpose
Once you know what you’re talking about, the next step is to elaborate on how you will serve the people in that niche. There are many different things that you can do within your niche including the following:
- Tips and tricks
- Educational topics
- Product Reviews
- A Personal biography
11. Don’t Choose a Topic Because it’s “Trendy”
During your research, you may come across topics that are hot and ranking high. Ask yourself though, are these passing fads or long-term blogging topics?
Understanding the distinction between something that is trending and something that is an ongoing subject. Here are some characteristics of a topic that won’t last:
- It’s tied to a specific event or date
- The topic emerged with a massive following (no growth)
- It achieves widespread mainstream exposure outside the topic
Google trends is a great tool you can use to get a better understanding of trends and fads.
12. Choose a Topic That You’re Passionate About!
Your blog has to revolve around something that you feel strongly about. You need to choose something that instantly makes you want to start talking. Choose something that you love and feel a lot of passion for and it will come through in your writing.
Day Three: Time to Size Up the Competition!
“Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone.”
13. Remember, You Don’t Exist in a Vacuum
As you already know, there are millions of blogs out there. Your blog is not alone in the world wide web. It is one of countless others. Your competition will try to beat you, but they’re not out to see you fail. You need to be able to work with them and possibly for them in guests posts to succeed.
It’s a healthy competition, one that forges new and more innovative blogs, so don’t shut out the other people in your niche.
14. The Competition is NOT Your Enemy
While it’s natural to feel a bit of unbridled rage when you see your competition beating you, understand that they are a useful resource for you. Think of it this way:
- Commenting on other blogs builds your network.
- Guest posts bring new visitors from their site to yours.
- Even without guest posting, they may still link to your site!
15. Remember to Use the Tools You Have
There are numerous blogging tools out there that you can use to make your life easier and your blog more appealing. Some of them are paid, but there are a number of remarkable ones that you can get for free. Tools can do a bunch of different things for you:
- Tell you how many people are visiting your site and how long they’re staying for.
- Analysis of your post’s search engine optimization and structure.
- Buttons that allow people to share your posts on social media.
- Tools for creating unique pictures and graphs.
16. Know Your Competition
Make a spreadsheet during your research and use it to keep a running list of your competition when it comes to blogging. Every once and a while you should revisit these blogs to see what you techniques they’re using and what new topics they’re covering.
17. Start to Learn the Basics of SEO
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a term that probably scares people more than it should. It may sound like something complicated, but it’s really easy to understand. Before you start your blog, try looking at some beginner guides to SEO that can help you understand the fundamentals of it.
Here are some quick tips:
- Choose a “keyword” that will be the basis of your posts.
- Break up paragraphs and use bullet point lists.
- Always include pictures and unique images.
18. Don’t Be Scared to Reach Out to Other Bloggers
I can’t stress this enough.
No matter how big and important they seem, other bloggers will always find time to help the little guys and gals trying to get up off the ground. I pride myself in answering emails and getting tips and help to anyone who needs it when they’re starting a blog.
The bottom line is, if you want something, you’ve GOT to reach out and get it.
Day Four: How am I Going to Do This?
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
19. Being a Writer is Not Required
While you do write as a blogger, you don’t have to be a writer to make it big. Blogging is an expression of you, and it doesn’t work unless you are willing to just let go and be yourself. Your voice and your writing style (as long as it’s readable) is good enough!
Blogs are written in a casual tone that anyone can accomplish. In fact, trying to sound all high and mighty isn’t the right approach. Just be yourself, and you’ll find that it’s more than good enough.
20. Computer Skills Help, But You Don’t Need Them
Most people will assume that blogging requires you to be a computer whiz who knows how to code using HTML, but thanks to a little blogging platform called WordPress, that’s not the case. A platform like that one looks no different than your average word processing program like Microsoft Word.
All of the complicated things behind the scenes are handled without you ever having to type in a piece of code (unless you want to).
21. There Are Plenty of Helping Hands
One example of someone who is always willing to help is the guy who wrote this entire blog and every post on it.
Yep, Matt Banner, that’s me! If you need help or you have questions, I’m always available to help. The same goes for the folks over at Bluehost, the service I recommend and use for my blog’s hosting which keeps me online and live.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need any help. I’ll be sure to get back to you in a timely manner.
22. Don’t Bother With “Free” Blogs
You’ve probably heard of “free” blogs out there like Blogger, Tumblr, and the like. These are small time pursuits that never really pan out. What’s more, they own everything you put on their sites. If they decided to delete it all one day, they absolutely could.
These types of blogs are not for the serious, or even the semi-serious blogging hopefuls. They simply do not have the stability, flexibility, and reliability that a self-hosted blog owned and maintained by YOU does.
23. Don’t Quit Your Job Until Your Up Off the Ground
Can you quit your job in favor of making more money blogging? Yes, absolutely, but it’s not instantaneous.
When you start your blog, don’t just phone your boss and quit. Instead, spend time on it getting things up and off the ground. Once you’re there, start making money and when you see things moving in the right direction, that’s when you ditch the boring job for a lifestyle that can’t be beat.
Just remember to be smart about when you decide to make the leap. Blogs make money, but they need to be known and established first.
24. Pro Tip: Use WordPress
You can open a new tab right now and start searching the corners of the internet for the best blogging platform and I guarantee you that everyone will say it’s WordPress. This program doesn’t cost you a dime, but it will make you a whole lot of them.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this program is used by the top blogs in the world, and for good reason.
Day Five: Wait, I Need a Facebook!
“Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
25. Yes, You Need a Facebook
Some people use it for simple things like checking in on friends, but for bloggers, Facebook is a free marketing tool. Like the quote above says, Facebook is being used as a means of promoting yourself and your brand. It’s an incredible resource that every bloggers needs.
It can also be used to announce new posts, engage with readers, and build a following.
26. Facebook is Just the Beginning
The first social media profile you’ll think of is Facebook, but there are also other profiles that are just as, if not more, important. Bloggers know that they need to have a presence on not just Facebook, but on these sites as well:
- See where your competitors are
One major change in this social media space is the creation of websites based on a specific audience. Social media sites are becoming more focused on things like fitness, and other niches. Look for these sites too for opportunities to connect with your readers.
27. Make Sharing Your Posts and Photos Easy
The way your posts get noticed is through social media, but just posting it yourself isn’t enough. By implementing share buttons on your posts via a plugin on WordPress for example, people can click and share pictures from your blog, and entire articles on their own profiles.
This spreads to other profiles and if you’re lucky it goes viral and it starts showing up on everyone and their grandmother’s profiles.
28. Do You Have a LinkedIn Profile? You will!
LinkedIn is the premiere social media site for professional people looking to connect with others.
For bloggers, it’s a hub of potential connections you can make to other bloggers in your niche. Networking is extremely important, and this site is the perfect place to find the right people and places to network with.
29. Each Post Needs Pictures
Not only are pictures good for your posts in general, but having a special one as your “featured image” allows you to showcase a eye-catching image that stops their routine morning scroll in its tracks.
This tactic is a great way to get more eyes on your content.
30. Pinterest is Growing
With pictures and images being so important, it’s no wonder that a social media site focused on images like Pinterest is growing so rapidly. While sharing whole posts or quotes as tweets is common, a new trend of sharing specific photos from the posts is now made possible through a platform like Pinterest.
Of course, Facebook and Twitter allow pictures, but this is a platform entirely focused on that medium, which makes it unique popular.
Day Six: Uh, What’s a Plugin?
“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
– George Herbert
31. Plugins Are a Feature of WordPress Only
You may have heard me mention something about plugins for blogging a couple of times thus far in this post. These plugins can do everything from adding share buttons, to making things run faster behind the scenes. They come in both free and paid variations. You can only find them on WordPress.
32. Plugins Make Everything Easier
The entire purpose of plugins is to do with a few simple clicks what would normally take pages of coding to accomplish. If your blog is a dish, these plugins are the spices to make it pop. They are fresh, capable, and provide easy access to key features.
33. Yeah, There’s a Plugin For That
Here are some things you may want or need for your blog:
- A system for people to comment on posts
- The ability to monitor hits and traffic
- Help optimizing your posts
- Share buttons for social media.
Guess what? There’s a plugin for that. With over 30,000 plugins in total, WordPress has almost no limit to what it can do.
34. While Some are Free, Some are Paid
An important thing to know is that plugins are both free and paid depending on which ones you’re looking at.
You can get off the ground with some great free plugins, but always keep your eye on the prize. The paid plugins are part of the necessary investments you’ll need to make to get your blog up off the ground.
35. Plugins Make a Good Blog Great
With all of the potential that plugins offer, these things can empower your blog to reach more people and learn more about them. It can also streamline the processes that you use to gain followers and emails.
Day Seven: It’s Time…Your First Post!
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin
36. Length Matters
While it may seem like people have short attention spans, writing short posts is not the way to go. The more words and content you have in there, the better. A focused and powerhouse post of two-thousand words or more will do far better in the rankings than a short five-hundred word post.
37. Follow the Structure
There’s nothing wrong with following the established structure. The perfect blog post needs to following this pattern.
Start with a strong headline, then move into the body of the post and remember to break up the paragraphs in addition to using bullet point lists, bold fonts, and other ways to make it easier to read.
38. Take Your Time With This
Setting up a schedule for posting is extremely important, so before you dive into that aspect of your blog, take some time to polish the first post to a mirror sheen. Don’t put it up until you’re absolutely sure it’s ready to go. Once it’s ready, the schedule begins.
39. Don’t Start Posting Without These Pages
Before the first post even begins coming into existence, you’ll need to make sure some specific pages are up and running on your blog. These pages include the following:
- An “About Me” page
- Contact information
These pages go up and stay up as “pages,” not “posts.” Once these are done, you can get to work on that first post.
40. Remember to Have Fun, and Be Yourself!
When you’re writing, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write in your own voice and just relax and let loose. There isn’t a science to this beyond the structure and punctuation that comes with writing in general. Have fun!
Wrapping it Up
These 40 things to know before you start a blog are crucial in understanding the preparation that leads up to that first post. It’s a lot to take in, so feel free to bookmark this page.
Tell me which tips you liked the most, and add any of your own in the comments below.