When starting a blog, it is hard to narrow down what to focus on, what is most important, what to spend your time on, what to invest in, etc.
There is SO much information out there now in regards to what makes a successful blog, what you should focus on, what courses you need to take, and so on, and so on.
It gets very overwhelming as a brand new blogger who doesn’t know much yet about blogging.
So, today I want to bring you back to the basics. I want to be very real with you and let you know what you REALLY need to do in order to get your blog started and lay the foundation for starting a successful blog or business from day one.
So, in my personal experience, THESE are the things you should invest your time and/or money in as a new blogger looking to grow your blog and eventually earn an income.
Before I get into it, if you do not have your blog set up yet, you should start HERE instead!
*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information you can see my disclosure page HERE.
10 TIPS FOR STARTING A SUCCESSFUL BLOG FROM DAY ONE:
1 | SELF HOSTING
I talk about this often, but honestly having a self hosted blog makes a BIG difference in a variety of areas.
The first area is your website or blog appears more professional when it is self hosted. Having a domain as www.yourblogname.com rather than www.yourblogname.blogspot.com simply appears more professional.
The second reason you want a self hosted blog is because when you self host, your website is 100% YOURS.
If you think about it, compared to starting other businesses that can provide you additional income, blogging is very inexpensive to start. For about $5 per month you can set up a professional, self-hosted blog.
And sure, there are free platforms out there, such as Blogger and WordPress.com, and they are great if you are strictly planning to blog as a hobby – but if you really want to monetize your blog, even down the road, you’ll need to have a dedicated blog that is self-hosted. With a self-hosted blog you are able to control all of the content on your blog and you have complete ownership of it.
That’s why you need a self-hosted blog with WordPress.org (not wordpress.com – the free platform). When you self-host your blog, you have control of the content and your own your site. You’re also able to monetize it – which I know is often the goal for starting a blog!
Trying to go the free route, and using wordpress.com, there will be ads placed on your site that don’t even bring you any income and can make your blog look ugly or clash with your brand. But if you self-host with WordPress.org and a hosting provider like SiteGround, you have control of any advertisements you put on your site, or if you even put any on at all.
Lastly, and this one is a biggie, on the free wordpress.com platform you cannot customize your site, you can’t add plugins to optimize your blog and your site can be taken down at any time if you violate the Terms of Service.
So yes, personally I believe signing up for a self-host blog with WordPress.org and SiteGround is totally worth the $5-$10 dollars per month because it will give you complete control over your content allowing you to grow your blog into a successful one!
2 | CREATING RELEVANT AND INTERLINKING CONTENT
When you have a fairly new blog, something I found helpful was planning 5-6 solid, well written posts that can link into each other. These are often referred to as pillar posts.
So for example, my first few blog posts on this blog were centered around starting and growing a blog. I created one very detailed post with steps on starting a blog, I created a post in regards to launching a successful blog, a post about starting and growing your email list, and a post a post about driving traffic to your blog, and a post about growing your blog with Pinterest.
These are basically in a “road map” format so that readers will want to keep clicking through to the next post. AND all of those posts in some way link to one another.
Having links within your blog posts that bring readers to other relevant posts on your blog, keeps them on your blog longer, and shows them that your blog is helpful, and worth returning to.
3 | AN EASY TO CUSTOMIZE THEME
So there are a large variety of Theme options out there to choose from, but it took me a LONG time to find a theme that I actually LOVE. When you are not super tech-y (like me), having a theme that is user-friendly and easy to customize is key!
There are many free themes out there that are great to use starting out, but often they are very limited in what you are able to change and customize. Personally I think spending a one time fee on a really great theme that is easy to customize is totally worth it.
I use the Tweak Me Theme by NoseGraze, and it has been the easiest theme to change and customize so far. I believe I spent a one time fee of about $60 and it was totally worth it.
4 | STEPPING UP YOUR PINTEREST GAME
Duh. You had to know Pinterest would be on this list. Honestly every blogger talks about Pinterest this and Pinterest that. Well, that is because it is truly THE tool you need to crack to drive traffic to your blog.
Honestly, 90% of my current traffic comes from Pinterest. If you aren’t utilizing Pinterest you need to start! And if you do use Pinterest, you need to make sure your Pinterest Profile is optimized.
I went from 0 to 100k pageviews on Pinterest in less than 2 months and I walk you through my Pinterest Strategy step-by-step in THIS POST.
5 | GROWING YOUR EMAIL LIST FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
So as I new blogger, if you are going to invest in anything, I would recommend it be self hosting and a good email marketing platform. Growing your email list from day one is SO important, especially if your long-term goal is to make an income with your blog. I actually talk all about why having an email list is so critical in this blog post: 5 Reasons Every Blogger Needs An Email List + How to Get Started Building Yours Today!
Creating an email list is the best way to communicate with the people who are interested in your blog and what you have to say. They are letting you into their inbox, so make sure you are using that to your advantage. Create a relationship with your email community, build that trust, and provide them with valuable resources.
These people get to know you and what your all about. By creating that strong relationship, your audience will trust you and your judgement when you recommend an affiliate link, or launch a course, and be more likely to convert into customers.
I personally use ConvertKit for my Email Marketing Platform. For more information on ConvertKit, check out this post: A ConvertKit Tutorial: The Beginners Guide to Email Marketing
6 | CREATE AT LEAST ONE EMAIL OPT-IN
Another thing to focus on is creating at least one really great opt-in to get people to subscribe to your list. You will want to promote it within posts, on your sidebar, or create a landing page specifically to promote it. You can use a free tool like Canva to create documents, ebooks, printables, checklists, etc. or another option is to use the sequence feature in convert kit to create a free email course.
Related Reading: 10 Opt-in Ideas to Explode Your Email List
7 | SEO
With my first blog I did not know anything about SEO and I did nothing to optimize my blog posts for search engines, and I rarely got any traffic from search engines, and almost never ranked in google searches.
Now that I know a bit more about SEO, I realize how much of an impact it can make on your traffic if you make your posts search engine optimized from the very start!
I talk all about the importance of SEO and how you can optimize your blog in this post: Learn SEO: The Beginners Guide to Making Your Blog Search Engine Optimized
8 | AFFILIATE MARKETING
A lot of people think they should wait until they have higher page views before they start using affiliate links, but I would actually say the opposite.
There is no reason you cannot put affiliate links in your blog posts from the beginning. You honestly never know when one of your blog posts will go viral, and if you do not already have your affiliate links within that post, you could be missing out on potential commissions!
Interested in learning more about affiliate marketing? I recommend the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course! It has helped me with my affiliate marketing strategy SO much.
9 | NETWORKING WITH OTHER BLOGGERS
Networking with other bloggers is a great way to gain exposure and traffic to your blog. But, it is also a great way to connect with like-minded people and opens up great opportunities for collaborations and guest posts!
A great way to start networking is by joining Facebook Groups or by commenting on other blogs.
10 | PLANNING AHEAD
Something I learned the hard way is that planning ahead is VERY important for success and staying accountable. At least, that is my personal experience.
When I create a plan for what content I want to post over 1-2 months, I stay focused and on track, and I am not scrambling to come up with blog post ideas. I try to plan my posts so that they connect or relate to other posts on my blog and are easy to interlink, and the way I do that is as I am creating new posts, I jot down ideas that come to mind as I write.
A great example of this is when I was writing my post “7 Thing You Need to Do to Grow Your Traffic”, and one of the 7 points was Learning to Utilize SEO. Rather than into a ton of detail and trying to cover a very broad topic within a subheading, I created a whole other blog post about SEO: “Learn SEO: A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization”. When I finished the SEO post, I went back to my SEO subheading in the original post, and interlinked my new SEO post so that people could click to get more detail about learning SEO.
Another thing to plan ahead is your newsletter topics! You can even go as far as writing a few ahead of time and using the “schedule broadcast” feature in Convertkit. Such a great feature for staying organized and managing your time as a busy blogger! (Get started with Convertkit today and get a free trial!)
So, there you have it! Those are my tips for starting a successful blog from day one. Focusing on these 10 things will help you grow your blog, your traffic, your email list, your community, and even get you started with monetizing your blog!