Every month, I get a few emails from readers asking if they should start a blog. There are a few instances when the answer is a resounding, “No.” One of those instances would be if you think blogging is an easy way to get rich quick. But, for many, blogging can be a great opportunity.
I know so many people who have found financial freedom with the help of their blogs. I am one of them. When I started blogging way back in 2009/2010, I was simply looking for a little side project that would, hopefully, eventually earn $1000 per month in passive income. Almost ten years later, this blog has become a full-time job – a GOOD full-time job!
If you aren't afraid of a little hard work or prolonged gratification, this post is for you.
Why Blog? 7 Great Reasons
Here are a few of the reasons why I blog:
1. Create Something You’re Proud Of
There’s just something innately satisfying about creating with your own hands – maybe you can’t build a birdhouse or play a violin. Maybe your accomplishments are more digital. Building a blog is an impressive feat in itself, and worth taking pride in! If you build a blog based on entertainment, feel proud that your readers are coming to you for amusement and relaxation. If you build a blog around an informative topic, you can feel proud that you’re educating your readers on something important. It’s this pride that’ll make you more confident, inspire you again and again to make your blog the best it can be, and even win you clients or writing gigs (if you’re interested in those things).
2. Challenge Yourself
Life’s not always fulfilling when you just keep to the same old, same old and never stretch yourself to accomplish something new. As a blogger, you’ll need to learn many different skills and discover that persistence within yourself to succeed. Tackling these challenges head-on can inspire the passion and determination needed to create a long-lived and thriving blog. Challenge yourself by writing two posts every week, by discovering the best affiliate opportunities for your blog, or by creating a passive income stream. Keep yourself pumped about your blog by regularly refreshing your goals.
3. Strengthen Your Knowledge
Always be learning – it’s one of those things that keeps life interesting. No matter how much you know about your topic when you start your blog, there will always be more to learn. Which is great for your blog’s longevity! As you research and write, you’ll strengthen your knowledge and become an expert on your topic. Not only can you take pride in the knowledge you’ve amassed, but you can parlay your expert status into consultation, teaching, or speaking gigs – all money-making opportunities.
4. Meet Others Like Yourself
One of the best things about pursuing your interests is in making friends along the way – we live in an ever-more-connected world thanks to the Internet, and you can find like-minded souls among your readers and other bloggers in your niche. Your blog can expand your social circle, giving you the opportunities to forge new and fulfilling relationships. Did you ever think you could make friends by blogging? Well, you can – and these contacts can also lead to new and better opportunities as well.
5. You Can Help Others
When you’re well-educated on a topic, why keep that knowledge to yourself? Putting all your know-how out into the world has the power to educate and help other people. Whether you’re blogging about type 2 diabetes and how to manage it, or sharing time hacks with other stay-at-home moms, your blogging has the power to educate, comfort, and/or save other people time, money, sanity – or more. The privilege of helping others is one of the most fulfilling aspects of blogging.
6. Gain Confidence
Blogging can also help build up your confidence! Producing content on a schedule and building an audience can do wonders for you – as you build up your knowledge and become more comfortable in your writing voice, you settle into your authority over your topic. This self-assured quality translates into your writing, inspiring even more confidence in your readers that you really do know your stuff. It’s a positive feedback loop that can win you friends, followers, and even additional professional and money-making opportunities.
7. If You Do It Right, You Can Make Some Money
This is the point many of you have been waiting for, right? Blogging is absolutely something that can be a money-maker for you – if you set it up right. Your blogging income will come from many different streams, and you need to leverage all of them appropriately – you can start by looking for affiliate programs that you are comfortable promoting, and getting an ad service like Google AdSense running right away. Google AdSense displays ads in places you designate on your blog and you can make money off views or clicks, depending on the ad type. You should also start building your mailing list right away so you have a direct line to your readers’ inboxes for future offerings. Don’t forget to create passive income that makes sense in your blog niche – like by offering a book or course that people can buy from you. These are just a few ways you can monetize your blog; they take time to set up, but have the potential to build up into a respectable collective income stream.
How to Start a Blog in 2020
If you are ready to take the plunge, here are a few tips to help you start a blog in 2020.
Five Reasons to Use WordPress
Powering more than 70 million websites and counting, WordPress is the world's leading content management system (CMS). The benefits of WordPress as a CMS have attracted many different organizations and individuals over its long and illustrious operational history. If you're unsure about which CMS you should use, these five reasons may be enough to convince you to choose WordPress.
1. Search engine optimization
Using WordPress makes optimizing your site for search engines much more natural than on other content management systems. The code that WordPress uses has favor among the most prominent search engines for its simple elegance. Using WordPress as your CMS gives your site an excellent platform from which to base your approach to SEO.
The WordPress community has long been concerned with improving the SEO of their sites and so have, over the years, developed an abundance of plugins and add-ons that help users rank more highly in search engine results. It's incredibly easy and efficient to find relevant plugins for your site that will help your SEO, and the impact will be almost instantaneous.
WordPress offers a range of options so that your site doesn't have to look the same as anyone else's. Content management systems with a large user base often struggle to facilitate individuality and creativity in their sites, but WordPress combats this problem by offering a practically infinite number of customization options.
With new plugins and themes created all the time, each one offers the ability to quickly and efficiently change an aspect of your site. With a creative approach to customization, a WordPress user can make their website much more unique and exciting than ones created with other content management systems.
The WordPress developers have devoted a lot of time and effort into making their CMS one of the easiest to use options on the market. Their success has made them the world's most popular content management system. Individuals or organizations with any level of technical ability can quickly learn how to construct and manage a WordPress website.
Contributions to a site's content can be easily delegated between relevant parties, simplifying the management of group projects. The ability of different individuals to be granted access to separate aspects of the CMS allows for efficient and effective website maintenance.
Any ambitious blogger should be thinking about the impacts of their growth. If your website develops as you hope and consistently attracts a large number of new visitors, you need your website's CMS to be able to handle the change. WordPress will always be able to handle increased traffic while enabling you to be able to make any necessary changes as and when you need.
WordPress is the world's most massive CMS, and so you will not find one better positioned to handle any amount of scalability. WordPress will provide your website with the tools and options you need to process any amount of new data efficiently.
It is straightforward to regularly post fresh content with WordPress thanks to its origins as a blogging platform. Search engine rankings are significantly impacted by how consistently a website posts well-written content, so having the option of publishing a blog is hugely beneficial.
Your content has a better chance of reaching a wider audience when published via WordPress as each post can be found by readers who search for the tags you've assigned. The efficient indexing that all WordPress blog posts are subject to dramatically helps your posts get seen by the best and most appropriate audience possible.
A great content management system makes it easy for a user to create a fantastic website. WordPress simplifies the process while still enabling users to create detailed and comprehensive sites.
Hosted vs. Self-Hosted WordPress: Which is Best?
WordPress is fast, easy to use, search engine friendly and doesn't require any HTML or coding knowledge.
Something many webmasters don't realize, however, is that WordPress is available in both hosted and self-hosted versions. While the two versions may appear similar, some stark differences separate them.
WordPress.com offers the hosted version of WordPress. You sign up for an account, choose a plan (free or paid) and begin building your site.
It's called “hosted” WordPress because the WordPress servers host your website's files. You don't have to pay for third-party hosting services, as WordPress stores all of your site's files.
There are five different hosted WordPress plans from which to choose, including:
- Free – with this plan you will have a wordpress.com URL, such as yourname.wordpress.com and access to limited themes.
- Personal ($5/month billed annually) – you will have your own domain name, but still limited customization.
- Premium ($8/month billed annually) – this plan allows for your own domain name, advanced customization, more storage and the ability to add display ads to your site.
- Business ($25/month billed yearly) – you will need this plan to have the ability to add plugins, use Google Analytics, SEO tools and other blogging essentials.
While free hosting may sound enticing, it has some serious drawbacks. Hosted WordPress only has a few hundred themes from which to choose, and they typically don't support those of third-party developers. If you don't see a theme you like, you are pretty much out of luck.
Also, hosted WordPress gives you limited control over customization. It allows you to make small changes to your site's theme, such as changing the background color or menu locations. For more options, such as using your own CSS, you'll need to upgrade to a premium or business account.
If that wasn't bad enough, hosted WordPress displays ads on free accounts. To remove these ads, you'll have to upgrade to a personal, premium, or business account.
Furthermore, WordPress charges for various “upgrades.” To get to a similar level of service offered with self-hosting, you would need to pay $300 per year. And you still won’t have total control over your website.
For these reasons and others, most seasoned webmasters will agree that hosted WordPress is the better option of the two.
As the name suggests, self-hosted WordPress requires you to host your own files. You upload them to a third-party web host. But that's just the tip of the iceberg regarding the differences between hosted and self-hosted WordPress.
With self-hosted WordPress, you have complete control over your site. You can publish what you want when you want. So, while hosted WordPress sites can get shut down at any given notice due to a terms violation, this isn't a problem with self-hosted sites. You even have full FTP access to your site, meaning you can upload, download and edit files directly on the server.
Self-hosted WordPress also has a bigger selection of themes. While there are just a few hundred available for hosted WordPress, self-hosted sites have tens of thousands of choices. In the rare event that you don't see a theme you like, you can always hire a professional web developer to create a new one for you. Furthermore, you can customize self-hosted themes to match your site better.
It's also worth mentioning that self-hosted WordPress offers unrestricted access to plugins. Currently, there are more than 30,000 plugins available from third-party developers. Using these plugins, you can easily add new features and functionality to your site, such as CAPTCHAs for comments, spam detection, browser caching, PHP contact forms and more. You can also use plugins on hosted WordPress, though it's a far more limited selection.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, self-hosted WordPress trumps its hosted counterpart. It's fully customizable, offers more themes and plugins, and you don't have to worry about complying with WordPress.com's terms and conditions.
And once you start having to pay WordPress.com for those upgrades, you can quickly outspend what self-hosting would cost you anyway. Start yourself off on the right foot.
Create a Successful Blog Using WordPress: Step by Step
You can draw a lot of attention to your cause or business by simply starting a blog. It is now the preferred format for presenting content online. If you've been wondering how you can start your own WordPress blog without having to hire someone, follow this step-by-step advice.
Get a Domain Service and Install WordPress
The first step for starting a blog is to choose a domain registration and hosting service. Most of these services provide you with the ability to quickly install a WordPress blog on the domain with a click of a button. This step will take you about an hour to complete.
Bluehost gives you a free domain with purchase. A 12-month contract costs about $60 and breaks down to $4.95 per month. If you choose a 36-month contract, you can go as low as $2.95 per month. You will likely outgrow their service at some point, but moving to a new hosting company isn’t too difficult and this is a low-cost place to test out the waters.
Choose a Theme, Customize It, Add Plugins
After you finish the first step of building your blog, now comes the most time-intensive step. It requires you to choose a visibly appealing theme (some are free, some are paid) and customize it to your liking.
Expect this process to take anywhere from a few days to a week depending on your level of online experience. Many theme authors provide detailed support and guidance for how to complete this process. Once your chosen theme is up and running, add a few useful plugins.
There are three plugins you should have on your site, at a minimum:
- Jetpack (contains a number of useful tools, including traffic statistics).
- An SEO optimization plugin (like Yoast).
- A security plugin to protect your blog from online attacks, malware, and spam comments.
Add Widgets for Promotion
Unless you're blogging purely as a personal diary, you're going to want to promote something to your visitors. Use sidebar widgets to draw attention to the things you're selling, upcoming events, important website landing pages, and the other blog posts that you want people to read. Start with two or three widgets so that you don't overwhelm each page. Adding widgets is very easy, though you may have to know a bit of HTML coding to add links. Set aside an hour or two for this step.
Create a Posting Schedule
The most important step to having a successful blog is continuously adding fresh content. Set a specific number of blog posts that you'll write each week and post them consistently. If you want to grow your blog quickly, commit to writing at least three to five new pieces per week. They must be useful, relevant, and easy to read. This is also a time-intensive step, so you may want to consider hiring an expert to help you write your content.
8 Tips to Get Your New WordPress Website Off to a Great Start
Whether your ultimate goal is to share your opinions, earn some spending cash or create a thriving business, having a WordPress website can be a big help. WordPress is the recognized leader in the blogging business, and the product has already helped millions of ordinary people make the most of their online efforts.
If you want to be one of those WordPress success stories, there are a few things you need to know. WordPress is intuitive end easy to use – that is one of the things that makes it so possible. Even so, there are some best practices every new WordPress user needs to know. Here are a few tips to get your new WordPress website off to the best possible start.
1. Make it look good for your target audience
The design of your WordPress blog will affect how your readers perceive you. That's why it's important to choose a theme that appeals to your audience. WordPress gives you many options when it comes to your blog's appearance.
There are free themes for you to choose from. You don't need to have any design skills. Just search through the theme library and pick one that feels right.
You can also move things to the next level by choosing a premium theme. Even though you'll spend some money, it's worth it. Premium themes usually give you more customization options. If you are a “perfectionist” using a paid theme may be your best choice.
2. Focus on a topic you care about
If you want to attract readers, you need to focus your blog on a single topic. That will make it easier for people to know what your blog is about. You will also spend less time and energy on research.
Choose something that interests you. Think of what you'd enjoy writing about on regular basis. This is especially important if you want to write about your personal life. Focus on a specific area, such as parenthood or your travel experiences. That way readers will know what to expect when they come back to your blog.
3. Let your domain name reflect what your blog is about
If you want to be taken seriously, buy a domain for your WordPress blog. Domains are very cheap and easy to acquire, so there is no excuse not to have one. Besides, without a domain, you'll find it hard to promote your blog on social media.
Write down several possible domain names before you commit. Make sure your domain represents the ideas you want to share. At the same time, don't wait too long. Pick one as soon as you feel it resonates with you. You can always change it later.
Once you've bought your domain, share your blog with your friends on social media. Facebook is a great place to attract your first readers. Feel free to ask people who know you to spread the word as well.
4. Build interest with strong visuals. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but those visuals can be even more valuable online. Tease your readers with powerful visuals, stunning photographs and more.
5. Protect your site. Strong security is a must for WordPress users, so take the time to password protect the admin directory and other critical online infrastructure. The last thing you want is a hack that could compromise your site and destroy your monetization.
6. Create a social media presence. Your personal brand image should encompass your entire online identity, from your Facebook page and Twitter feed to your new WordPress site. Give readers an easy to way move from one to the other by incorporating thumbnails and links into your WordPress site.
7. Write strong content. No matter how great your WordPress website looks, without solid content, it will not long survive. Focus on strong content and update it regularly, so your readers have a reason to come back.
8. Categorize your content. If you add content on a regular basis, and you should, your WordPress website can get pretty crowded. Categorizing your content will make it easier to navigate while still giving readers a choice.
Use these tips as a guide to get going. It's very important that you implement them right away. Taking action is the most important part of starting a blog, so go out there and start writing today.
A Few of My Favorite Blogging Courses
If you are ready to learn more about blogging, here are a few of my favorite courses: