I’ve recently had several requests for advice on starting a blog. My first thought is similar to that of a famous preacher when a young man sought advice about becoming a pastor. He replied: If you can find anything else that would make you happy in life, do that instead.
The inverse as pertains to blogging would be, if there is nothing else that you can do, because the passion to blog is so strong, then get to it.
So what are the baby steps that a beginning blogger should take before they start a blog? Here are twelve.
- Define WHY you want to blog. Are you looking for money; fame; and status? Or do you want to help others? If you main goal is money, fame, and status, you’ll have a difficult time making it through the hard times. If however, you want to help others or are driven by a passion — you might actually earn some money and notoriety — at least among your “tribe.”
- Find a niche: Before you can blog, you need to have a topic that you can divide into several categories. It should be something you are knowledgeable about or something you intend to study. In addition, you should really like the topic. And it must be something that is helpful to others.
- See if anyone is interested in your niche. Talk to your friends; search the Internet; and look at magazines on your topic. If you can’t find anyone interested in your topic, you may want to find a different niche.
- Start a mailing list. By now you should have narrowed down your niche. Before you ever spend a penny on web hosting, domain names, or blogging platforms, start a free mailing list at MailChimp. Your mailing list is the most valuable tool in your blogging business.
- Get subscribers to your mailing list. Remember those friends you talked to in step 3? Ask them to join your list. Send out emails to your friends and family telling them what you are doing. Or better yet: call them on the phone. Ask them (without pressuring them) if you can add them to your list.
- Grow your list to about 100. Before you ever start blogging (which takes an investment to do right) find out if your topic will fly. Get 100 subscribers before you ever think about spending a penny.
- Set up your MailChimp account. This is a little tedious. If you have any questions, use Google. There is so much FREE information available online. But you’ll want to prepare your sign up forms so you can share them on FaceBook and other social media.
- Plan out your first 10 emails. Decide what you will be discussing in your first ten emails. Make a plan. Aim for excellence.
- Write out your first email campaign. Carefully edit your work; read it out loud to see how it flows; have someone else read over it for insight and errors. Listen to what others are saying. They are your audience. You are serving them.
- Find a quality image to add to your campaign. Pixabay offers quality FREE images. It is quick and easy to sign up. If you are a photographer, you can take and use your own images. And you can even upload them on Pixabay to share with others. Your image should match your topic.
- Start sending out email campaigns. Set a schedule to send out emails on a regular basis. Once a week is probably good to start. Once a month would be the bare minimum and three times a week is probably max (for now). Send the campaigns out at the same time and on the same days each week. This builds trusts with your audience and keeps you accountable to your writing schedule.
- Engage your audience. Ask questions of your audience to get them to engage in your topic. An engaged audience is a great sign that your blog will be successful and eventually turn into profit. An unengaged audience shows that you need to hone your skills.
If you can make it through these dozen steps then you probably have what it takes to blog. But if you struggle to make it through these steps, blogging may not be a fit for you.
Let me know where you are in the process. You can leave a comment below.
Also, I’d like to give you a FREE eBook to get you started. It has some great tips for achieving success on your journey.
I have been working on my ReformedHealth.net website for many years. And the biggest obstacle I face is not having enough money to do everything I want to do to make it as awesome as possible.
Last year (2016), my focus was consistency. And I nailed it. I blogged 3 times a week no matter how tired I was the night before. But somewhere in there I lost focus on WHAT I should be blogging about. I started being controlled by the number of posts I needed to put out rather than a goal, purpose, or plan for what I was writing. There was a plan, it just wasn’t getting me where I needed to be to earn enough money to invest back into the blog — so I could do with it what I wanted. In addition, some of my posts were attracting the wrong kind of traffic and followers.
On a positive note, my traffic grew tenfold: from 3000 visitors in a year to 30,000 in a year. Still not enough to achieve the monetization I desired, but enough to give me hope.
So this year, I will focus on growth, completion, and monetization.
- Growth. I want to grow my blog traffic and my email subscriber list. This is going to be difficult because I began with a fatal flaw that I have been trying to correct for sometime — but just have not had the lack of fear to correct. In fact, this one change could cost me ALL my traffic, forcing me to start back at zero. I need to transfer my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I have been geared up for this, but haven’t had the time to take the necessary steps (partially because I had to get a job to support my blogging habit). Site5 is my current host. But I may switch over to BlueHost soon. The only problem is that Site5 bills me by the month. BlueHost requires a big lump sum. It always goes back to the bucks. Since, I may lose my traffic, I need to focus on growing my email list. Presently, I have about 100 subscribers, but would like to grow to at least 1000 this year. (I really need to transfer this site too.)
- Completion. ReformedHealth.net exists to share the Biblical Principles of Wellness so you can gain control of your health and be all that God has designed you to be. It is built on a curriculum developed by my husband in the 90’s after recovering from a devastating illness. He found his path to recovery in the Bible. And I have been working with his curriculum and expanding it and making it available online. I want to complete this task this year. In so doing, I will be poised to get it into book form, which has been my goal from the beginning. I want to have a resource to share with others who are sick and hurting so they can find the hope that my husband found in God’s Word. So one goal this year is finish this project.
- Monetization. Money is an annoying factor — my primary motivation for blogging is not money — but you can’t blog without it. So I need to try harder and work smarter so I can earn an income by my calling. Parts of me want to give everything away for free, my time, my wisdom, and my knowledge. But in so doing, I am not serving my audience as best I could. Without money I cannot provide the excellent quality material that I so desire. In addition, people have a strong tendency to devalue that which is free. So charge it is. There are many ways to do this while still giving away rich content. I must learn and study HOW to monetize and then implement that which I am learning. I just bought the book How to Blog for Profit without Selling your Soul by Ruth Soukup. Her first line of advice was to get the blog off of WordPress.com and onto WordPress.org. So off I go to do just that. Boo hoo.
If you are a start up blogger, mind set is everything. Here is a FREE eBook to get you started with the right mind set:
If you don’t want to be de-indexed from search engines — you’ll need to avoid this HUGE affiliate marketing mistake. Thankfully I caught it before I lost too much traffic.
Thrive Market has been my biggest source of revenue from my Reformed Health website. Learn about Thrive Market here. But recently I noticed that even though I was showing a lot of click throughs in my blog stats, I was NOT registering any clicks on my Thrive Dashboard.
That’s when I noticed that the Thrive Market $100 grocery give-away had EXPIRED! So I clicked on one of the links, and sure enough it was a broken link that went nowhere.
Broken links are big NO NOs in the cyberworld — especially among search engines.
Unfortunately, I had recently changed almost ALL of my Thrive links to the $100 give-away because the landing page was more interactive and engaging. This meant I had a LOT of broken links to deal with. These links had been offline for almost TWO WEEKS! I almost panicked. Instead I cast my cares upon the Lord and sought answers how to resolve the issue in the shortest time possible.
I ran my website through the FREE website Broken Link Checker and found over 800 pages of broken links. This startled me because I have less than 300 pages on my website (but WordPress organizes those 300 pages into around 1500 pages). Then I remembered that I had one Thrive link that appears on almost all my pages — a vertical banner ad in the sidebar of my blog. That was the first link I changed.
Changing that ONE link reduced the broken links to under 100.
Then it was just a matter of changing them one by one until all links were fixed. In the process, I found a dozen or more broken links that were not attached to the Thrive Market.
So, as usual — it turned out to be a blessing is disguise. One broken link is one too many.
Note to self: Run Broken Link Checker monthly or even weekly!
If you are a blogger looking to earn some affiliate commission, make sure to check your links regularly. Also, if you are interested in earning affiliate commissions, check out Thrive Market’s Affiliate Program. It might be a fit for you.
One of my favorite stories is about a doctor who discovered that “cadaveric material” was killing one out of eight new mothers. This Austrian physician from the 1800’s implemented a hand washing routine for his hospitals and clinics and the death rate dropped dramatically. However, “the medical establishment” of the day thought that hand washing was archaic, superstitious, and too time consuming to implement.
As a result, the doctor went insane, only to be vindicated later.
This favorite blog post had only received one view all year. What a big discouragement to me! So I decide to revamp the headline (which I had written years earlier) from Healthy Blood through Cleanliness: The Semmelweis Principle (boring) to Famous Doctor Goes Insane After Cadaver Kills New Mother. And I made a wonderful graphic that went with the title. And I made it long so it could double as a Pinterest pin for all my “blogging buddies” to share. Continue reading
Well, if you think blogging is a quick way to make money — you are wrong. Blogging is hard work that may pay big dividends someday. For me the current dividends are very small — but the reward of sharing what I am passionate about makes it worth while.
Since the money is not rolling in quickly (you’ll remember money is not my primary focus anyway), I had to take a job! Fortunately I think this part time job will help my blogging more than if I spent the time writing. Why? Because now I can pay other people to do what I don’t do well anyway — like graphic design.
I am committed to not going into debt over blogging — so I have not been motivated to purchase services such as logo design etc. However, I knew I needed a logo, and I knew I couldn’t do the work myself. Believe me I tried.
So today I hired a designer from Fiverr to make a logo for my Reformed Health blog. It was only a $6.00 investment. If I like it, I’ll probably order a premium package. This was a big step for me. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
I’ll share it when I do.
Also if you are looking for a logo design — you can get your first one for FREE by Clicking Here. I wish someone had told me about the free offer. I had to pay for my first gig. Don’t make that mistake. Get your $5.00 logo for free now.
Also, I had my first guest post this week by Simple Life Mom. Read it here: The Natural Solution to Toxic Skin Care Products.
Thanks for following me on my journey.
Blog long and prosper.
This is a book review.
From what I have noticed, self-help or self-improvement books have two main qualities:
- They usually have great advice
- They usually are written very simply
Winning Habits: 4 Secrets that Will Change the Rest of your Life by Dick Lyles foots the bill.
It is a good read, but super simple.
For some, simple is good. For others, simple is…well simple.
If you are looking to read a good piece of literature — this book is not it! But if you are looking to gain insights into some work habits that could change your life. Winning Habits accomplishes the goal.
The book is written in story format so the lessons can be cemented into the brain. Here are the four habits, which I will share from memory to demonstrate how easy the book is to understand and implement:
- Be the first on and the last to leave (do more than is expected of you)
- Never trade results for excuses (Nike said it like this: just do it!)
- Solve problems in advance (prepare for the tangents)
- Always make those around you look good (do good unto others always)
I confess, I had to look up number four because I couldn’t remember. While I am sharing these four principles with you — to fully understand what the author means by each and for a plan of implementation — including templates for troubleshooting and problem solving — read the book.
This is perfect reading for a plane trip (which is when I read my copy). It is available for a reasonable price on Amazon (like as low as .04 cents).
See what’s available now.
Dick Lyles is the author of best-selling book “Winning Ways“
Keep reading and keep learning. That’s my tip for success!
If you don’t follow Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, you are making a huge mistake.
Not only does he tell his readers how much money he makes each month (last month he earned 115 thousand and change), but he gives away great content.
And he is letting me share some of it with you!
Of course, he is doing it for a reason: he wants more blog traffic. And he deserves it. Click on the link and check out what he is doing. I am not getting paid in any way to share this. I just think it is great information.