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how to start a successful blog by doing things in the right order

Why starting a blog in an hour is the worst thing you can do

Do you want to know why most bloggers quit?

When most bloggers decide to become bloggers they google something like “how to start a blog for beginners”, but what they really mean is “how to start a successful blog and make money”.  Unfortunately, the step by step tutorials beginner bloggers find don’t teach all the steps for being a successful blogger, they just teach how to get a blog online.  This causes most bloggers to understandably assume that getting their blog online is the first step.  But it’s not. 

If you get the step by step order right, you can make your blog successful. You can earn income much quicker and reach the $10 / hour and then the $50 / hour and even the $100+ / hour mark much sooner than most new bloggers do – though still not overnight like some blog posts might promise.  Today, I’m going to teach you how to start a successful blog by doing things in the right order.

How most bloggers start blogging:

You google “how to start a blog” (even though you are really thinking “How can I start a successful blog?”) and find an article titled “How to start a blog in 60 minutes or less“.  Sweet!  you think – I’ve got 60 minutes!  You go through the steps, and at the end of an hour, you are so excited to have a WordPress blog live online.  You immediately start writing blog posts. And you keep writing – at least a post a week, if not more.

But 3-6 months in, you don’t feel successful.  You still don’t have enough traffic to get paid to have ads on your site.  So you enroll in a $200 a course that promises to teach how to get lots of traffic from Pinterest.  You apply what you learn (including paying for Tailwind (affiliate) and SWEET, you get more traffic!

You sign up for Mediavine (a quality ad network), and after a few more months, you are getting paid $300-$600 a month from your ads (if all goes well). But that isn’t as much money as it seems.  You are spending HOURS writing blog posts, pinning things to Pinterest, and engaging on Instagram and Facebook.  You aren’t making more than $2 / hour after hosting fees, Tailwind, the courses you’ve purchased and more.  This certainly doesn’t feel like a successful blog.

It just isn’t worth your time.  All your blog does is take you away from your family without ever really giving anything back.  You could get a job at McDonald’s, working half as many hours and earn the same or more without all the expenses!

Two choices

At this point, you have two choices: either (1) you quit or (2) you spend more money and time learning how to be a blogger who makes an impact and earn income.

If you choose #2, you eventually realize you did everything in the wrong order!  Years ago, I chose #2.  And I want to save you the headache by telling you the secret to how to start a successful blog: Doing things in the right order.

Why starting a blog in 60 minutes is not how to start a successful blog

Getting a blog online is easy – you can do it in 60 minutes-ish with the right tutorial.  But it isn’t how to start a successful blog.  If you want to have an impactful and profitable blog, that is NOT where you should start.  You need the first 7 steps I’m going to walk you through below.

The problem is this:

The 7 steps I’m going to recommend you take before getting your blog online can feel scary – they will likely bring a bunch of not-so-fun stuff to the forefront – things like self-doubt, anxiety, indecision – aka some serious “butterflies.”  If all you do is spend 60 minutes getting a blog online, then you don’t have much to lose if it doesn’t succeed, so that can feel like the safer option.  But that’s the catch – by investing little, it will be easier to give up – more comfortable to say, “well, I guess blogging just isn’t my thing.”

It’s also backward – you need to take these 7 steps FIRST if your blog is to be impactful and profitable.  These 7 steps are the key in “how to start a successful blog.”  If you want to be a hobby blogger – sure, go ahead and start a blog in 60 minutes – start with step #8. But if you want to have a successful blog – which I define as having impact and income, I’ve got a different suggestion for you: BE BRAVE.  

BE Brave!

Decide now that your blog is going to be successful – you are going to have a profound – and broad – impact on others.  You are going to bring income into your home that allows you to make your dreams a reality.  That income will also allow for more freedom – more opportunities to serve and lift and give back.

If you are feeling a tug to share your unique talents with the world – trust it.  God wants your brand of goodness out there, touching people only you can.  I know that as you seek His help, He will support you. Involve Him in each of the following steps and He will show you how to start a successful blog.

It will not be easy.  But you can do hard things.  You can absolutely start a successful blog.

So, start a blog the right way – the successful way.  Start with the intent of having an impact and earning income.  You’ve got this!

You Should Know

I am an affiliate for many of the blogging tools I list below.  This means that if you choose to purchase one of those tools, I will earn a small commission.  This does not result in any increased cost to you.  In fact, it sometimes results in a decreased cost. I choose to be an affiliate only for products I love – products I can answer questions about because I use them regularly.

All affiliate links are clearly marked as such.  If it is not marked as an affiliate link, I am not an affiliate for that company – but I’m recommending them anyway just because I think they will be of value to you.  You can see my full affiliate disclosure here.

Help Others

Do you have a friend that could use this post?  Share it with them!  I call my readers the “Goodness Squad” as we try to make sharing goodness online less complicated and more rewarding. Take just a minute to help a blogger you know grow their income and impact by clicking on a button below!

IMPORTANT: As I’m able to write more articles, each step below will link to an article(s) teaching you exactly how to take that step.  But many of you asked for a general list of the steps for starting a successful blog and I thought it’d be a good idea to start there.  So, here it is!

Step #1: Build your Blogging foundation

A house needs a foundation, or otherwise, it will crumble.  The same is true for your blog if you want it to be a business.  Working through the following steps will allow you to find your motivation (so you can remind yourself WHY you are doing this when it gets tough), and reach the right people (those who will become your raving fans).

Also, and possibly most importantly, it will simplify many decision-making processes as your blog grows.  This makes starting and growing successful blog simpler.  There are 5 steps to setting up a firm foundation for your blog / business.

Your superpower is the unique set of talents and abilities you have that allow you to serve humanity in a way no one else can.  It is not your blog topic.  You could apply your superpower to a variety of topics.  It is something that you love doing and something you find easy to do - so easy that you think it comes naturally to everyone else too.  You may need to enlist the help of a spouse or some dear friends or family members to discover your superpower.

 

Knowing and embracing your superpower is what will make you stand out online.  You don't want to blend in - in fact, if you do blend in online, you won't be successful.

 

My superpowers are teaching, organizing, empathetic listening, and being able to understand tech stuff quickly.

Your blog topic should be three things:

  1. A topic you know a lot about or already spend (or plan to spend) time learning about or doing.  This way, you won't have to spend extra time learning about it to blog about it.
  2. A topic others have problems or concerns with
  3. A topic you can combine with your superpower.

I chose the topic of blogging for my blog because I felt prompted to.  But it also meets these three requirements.  (1).  I know a lot about it b/c I've done it since 2008, (2) there are a lot of people who want to be successful bloggers that can't quite figure it out, (3) organization, teaching skills, tech skills, and listening skills are all helpful as I teach about blogging.

The reason that lots of people can teach about the same topic online and all be successful is because they speak to or help different types of people.  As you blog, it is best if you speak to a very specific sub-set of people.  This is your "audience" and it should be a group of people that you understand and "get."

 

This is what makes someone land on your site and think "THIS is the person I've been looking for to help me _______________"  This is how you build a loyal audience - raving fans that keep coming back for more and more.

 

For example, I teach about blogging tips, but I'm not trying to reach all bloggers.  I want to reach Latter-Day Saint mom with kids at home who want to blog as a business AND spread goodness and light online. 

 

When I write, I'm not talking to men.  I'm not talking to women who just want to blog for fun.  I'm not talking to Buddhists or Catholics.  I'm not talking to  empty-nesters or college kids.  That doesn't mean I don't welcome those people.  I'd love to help anyone spread goodness.  But those are the people I'm best at helping because I understand them.  I understand their world, what keeps them up at night and their dreams.

Answer the following questions:

 

1 - What goal do you have for those that follow you or work with you online in some way?

For example, I have 3 goals for you.  I want you to:

    • Have a positive impact (share goodness and light) online
    • Earn income for your family
    • While still putting your family first

 

2 - How do you want others to describe you?  Choose 5 adjectives.

If you were to tell someone about me, I would want hope you say something along the lines of "You should check out Misty's site.  She is smart, kind, generous, fun and authentic."

 

3 - How do you want people to feel when they interact with you online?  Again choose 5 adjectives.

I want you to leave every interaction with me - on my blog, Instagram, a FB Live, an email I sent ...anywhere - feeling more confident, excited, optimistic, grateful and generous.

 

Now, make sure that every piece of content you create - blog posts, Instagram stories, podcasts, videos - anything help your followers reach your goal(s) for them, see you the way you want to be seen, and feel the way you want them to.  This helps you to be consistent and recognizable wherever you are online.

Blogging - just like any business or hobby - can quickly overtake your life if you aren't careful.  I suggest discussing your priorities with your kids and husband and then writing a "contract" with them of sorts.  Determine things like:

 

Your goals.  What are you hoping to accomplish through this blog.  Do you want to help a certain # of people reach a certain point?  Do you want to earn a certain amount of money?  Are you trying to pay for a vacation this year?  Knowing the answer to these things can help you know what to focus on - what to say no to - and what to say yes to.

 

When you will - and will not - spend time on blogging.  For example, I currently spend Tues - Fri form 9 am - 3:30 pm (I walk the dog on my lunch break), and Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm.  If I'm going to say yes to something that requires me to work outside of these times, we discuss it in family council first.  These hours also change during the summer when my kids are home.

 

What you will / won't say yes to.  For example, I currently say no to any opportunities that require me to travel overnight.

 

Family or church activities that you will never miss.  For example, I  will not miss sports games or drama performances, but as a family we have decided I won't attend field trips.

 

Any other rules or boundaries you need to set up so that you can ensure your family doesn't take a back seat.

Step #2. Claim your online space

Choose a name for your blog that fits what you went over in step #1.  This name will also be your domain (yourdomain.com – mine is designedforgoodness.com). It should be memorable.  If possible it should also indicate your topic, include something your audience might search for on Google, attract your target audience, and fit the adjectives you chose in step 1D. 

This can feel like a tall order, but don’t overthink it.  The actual domain is not the most important piece of your website.  The words you write on your site can clarify why you chose your domain.  The only thing that should be required about your domain is that it be memorable.

Once you have chosen a domain, purchase it.  I suggest getting it at Namecheap (affiliate)as they provide free privacy (no one can look up your contact info using your domain) where many other don’t.  They also offer great support. 

Once you have your domain, claim social media accounts using the same name (or something very close to it if it is not available). Claim everything you think there is even a tiny chance of you ever using – even if you don’t plan to use it now.  Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr etc.  As you progress through the rest of the steps, posts updates on your social media accounts.

Step #3 - Create a place for fans to go

This is a step most “How to start a blog” tutorials miss.  But it is an essential step for a “How to start a successful blog” tutorial.  Before you start telling people about your business, you have to create a place where they can go and give you their email address.  Not immediately building an email list is the #1 mistake – by far – that new bloggers make: They don’t start an email list right away.  I made this mistake back in 2010.

An email list is essential to online marketing success.  You cannot have a successful blog without it.  You’ll hear that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect to make around $38 back on average.  Another fun stat is that you can expect to earn about $1 / month for every person on your email list.  All these numbers are much lower for social media, and with social media, you have a middleman – Instagram or Facebook deciding what to show to your followers. But not with email – there is no middleman.

Even bloggers who understand the importance of an email list will sometimes wait until after they’ve launched their blog to create one.  Waiting is a mistake!  You will have people interested in what you are doing before you officially launch, and you want to be able to contact them when you do launch.  Also, having a list this early allows you to survey them and get to know what they need help with before you spend the time and effort writing blog posts or creating products they won’t use or buy.

The #1 mistake that new bloggers make is not starting an emai list right away.

Misty Marsh - DesignedForGoodness.com Tweet

Step #3A - Get yourself a professional email address

If your blog is to be a business, you need to treat it like one.  Don’t use an email like mybusiness@gmail.com.  You need something like myname@mybusiness.com.  Even if you are comfortable using mybusiness@gmail.com, most email marketing service providers (more on that in step #3B) will require you to have an email address linked to your domain.

Sometimes, your host can help you with this – though I don’t recommend that.  If your host is offering both email and web hosting, they likely aren’t an expert at either.  I use G Suite (affiliate) for my email address.  It allows me to have as many as I want (myname@mybusiness.com and support@mybusiness.com and myassistantsname@gmail.com etc.).  I also love it b/c it is the same inbox you’ll get with ,Gmail and I love Gmail.  But G Suite does cost money ($6 / month in early 2020).  I have heard good things about Zoho, and they allow 1 email address for free.

Step #3B - Sign up for an email Marketing service provider

Once you have a professional email address, you need to sign up for an email marketing service provider.  You can’t legally send emails to lists of people from Gmail or yahoo.  An essential step in starting a successful blog is finding a reliable, robust email marketing provider that knows how to help you start and build a successful blog.

I suggest MailerLite (affiliate), which is free for up to 1000 subscribers or ConvertKit (affiliate), which starts at $29 / month.  ConvertKit is more robust, and I recommend it for more experienced bloggers.  MailerLite will get the job done for new-ish bloggers.  But if you can afford it and don’t want to move over later, go with ConvertKit from the beginning.

Step #3c - Create a Email opt-in landing page

Both ConvertKit and MailerLite will let you create a stand-alone webpage (aka a landing page) where you can invite people to sign up to your email list.

On that page, explain a bit about what you plan to offer and teach.  Highlight the fact that those who join your email list now be your VIPs – the very first people to know when you launch, find out about articles and products (free and paid), and give feedback, so those articles and products meet their needs.

Step #3d - Create a Survey

Both ConvertKit and MailerLite will let you send someone to a different webpage once they have joined your email list.

Use Typeform or Survey Monkey or even Google Forms to create a survey.  This survey is the webpage you should automatically send people to after they join your email list.

On that survey, thank them for joining your list and ask what their biggest problem is with the topic you’ve chosen for your blog.  Tell your new subscriber that you want to create blog posts and products that solve problems for them, but that you need to know what those problems are.  Don’t make them type out an answer – give them a list of choices they can check off.  Then include a section where they can add more details – something like “Anything else I should know?”  This feedback will be crucial as you determine how to start a successful blog in your industry that solves real world problem.

Want more help with your email list? Sign up below!

Step #4. Build a network

Successful bloggers have quality networks of friend and associates to support them.  Rearch for Facebook groups that would have large numbers of your target audience. Join a few.  Read through the posts and comments.  Be helpful when appropriate, but also learn what the most common problems are that people face when it comes to the topic you’ve chosen.

Research other successful bloggers in your industry and find a few you like and trust.  Do anything you can to support and help them.  Share. Comment.  Like.  This can feel counter-intuitive to many, but it is an essential step that many miss.  These bloggers can and should become some of your biggest allys.  Remember steps #1A and #1C?  You might blog on the same topic, but you have different superpowers to offer and different audiences that will resonate with you.  As you help these bloggers now, many of them will pay you back in the future.

Last, research bloggers in industries complimentary to yours.  Find ways to serve and help them as well.

Step #5. Start driving traffic

Start driving traffic to the webpage you built with ConvertKit (affiliate) or MailerLite (affiliate) by mentioning it on social media, telling friends about it and mentioning it in the Facebook groups you joined in step #4 as appropriate – no spam (and make sure it isn’t against the rules of that group). 

Driving traffic before you officially launch will give you someone to launch to and provide you with helpful data as to what your audience wants and needs from you.

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Step #6. Identify a problem

As a successful blogger, your overarching goal should be to help your audience overcome obstacles and problems relating to the topic of your blog.  For now, we want to identify one problem or need that you are confident you can solve.  Here are a few places to look:

  • Consider the goal you wrote down for those who follow you in step #1D.  What problems or obstacles stand in the way of them reaching that goal?
  • Look at the answers to your survey from step #3D. 
  • Think about what you are hearing and learning about in the Facebook groups you joined in step #4.  
  • If you know people in your target audience who need to know more about your topic, ask them what their biggest problems are. 
  • Look at what your competitor’s most successful products are or the questions they get asked on their Facebook pages or Instagram.

Step #6. Identify a SOlution - aka monetize your blog

When you think “how to start a successful blog” you are probably thinking “how to start a blog and make money” right?  No shame.  I want you to make money!  But most new bloggers think ads and sponsored posts are great the only way to do that.  So not true!  For those that have hundreds of thousands of followers, yes, ads and sponsored posts can be lucrative.  But you don’t have hundreds of thousand of followers.  You want to know how to start a successful blog NOW.  You don’t have the time to wait until you’ve built a huge following.

Guess what? The solutions to your audience’s problems are likely something they would be willing to pay for help with.   Look for a solution to the problem(s) you identified in step #5  in a few places:

Option #1 - Recommend An existing product that you love

If there is a product or a few products (physical or digital) that you LOVE and personally use to solve the problem(s) that your audience has, I suggest finding out if the company that offers that product has an affiliate program.  Just  Google “{product name affiliate program},” and you should be able to determine if you can become an affiliate for that product(s).

Being an affiliate means that you recommend a product that is not your own using a link that the company gives you.  If someone clicks on that link and purchases the product, you earn a commission.

Option #2 - Provide a service

If you have an in-demand skill  (like design, video editing, coaching, accounting, photography, etc.) that provides a solution to your audience’s problem, you can offer that.  Selling a service can be an excellent place to start, but understand that it is not scale-able.  You can’t earn passive income with services.  

Option #3 - Create a solution

I think all bloggers should have their products.  When you are just starting it can be quicker and easier to recommend an affiliate product or a service since there is less prep work involved.  But you have the most significant potential for passive income when you have a digital product of your own.  You earn 100% of the profits – not 10%-30% like you would with an affiliate product.  And once you’ve created it, you can sell it again and again without increasing your workload.

Some products you might consider creating are:

eBooks, eCourses, software, stock photography, video intros, music or sound effects, graphics (logos, brushes, illustrations, textures, icons, drawings, sketches, social media templates), cheatsheets, quick start guides, fonts, PowerPoint or Google slides themes, written templates (like for a resume or proposal or email), Lightroom presets, swipe files (a proven formula for something), lesson plans, workbooks, recipe books, software tutorial videos, and more! 

You are only limited by your imagination.  You want to know how to start a successful blog?  Imagine and then create a solution to a problem!

Step #7. Connect your problem and soultion: Create a Funnel

Step #7A - Understand what a marketing funnel is

Creating a marketing funnel is one step that most bloggers wait to do until WAY later, and it costs them valuable time and money. Marketing funnels are essential to understand if you want to understand how to start a successful blog.

You may have heard talk of marketing “funnels” online.  Some people feel like they are just a scheme for making more money.  And honestly?  You will make more money if you use them.  But you will also help more people, and you will help them on a deeper level.  A marketing funnel is just a path with many steps that you walk people through to lead them to a solution to a problem they have.  You identified a problem in step #5 and a solution to that problem in step #6.  Now you need to create a path between the two for your email subscribers.

Each step in a funnel builds on itself.  There will be more people who accomplish step #1 than those who achieve the final step.  The top (first few steps) of the funnel is wider (more people doing them) than the bottom (where only the most committed continue).  

If you were to try to introduce the final step to someone (your solution) with them taking the preceding steps, they would be overwhelmed and likely give up.  But by guiding them one step at a time, you can help them gain confidence in you and themselves.  Typically, the steps at the beginning of the funnel are free solutions, and those at the end are something your followers will purchase.  And they will be more willing to pay you b/c you have helped them for free, and they’ve gotten to know, like and trust you.

As you progress, you may have different levels of free products and different levels of “solutions”  For example, right now I have a $5 / month coaching group as a low level (inexpensive) solution.  Eventually, I will offer small group coaching as a mid-level solution and 1-on-1 coaching as a high-level solution. But the idea is that free or paid; each step will naturally prepare the person in the funnel for the next step. 

Step #7B - Create Your Path

Think through the steps  your subscribers will need to go through in order to move from their problem to a full solution.  Each step can be a small part of that full solution and lead up to it.  Once you have the steps written out, write articles/emails and create any additional tools that would be helpful in accomplishing any of the steps (videos, checklists, cheat sheets, resource lists, quick start guides, quizzes, templates etc.). Yes, this will take a good amount of time, but it will also allow you to start earning income immediately after you start blogging.    And it doesn’t have to be super elaborate at first!

For example, one of the gifts you can get when you sign up for my email list is a list of words to avoid in spam filters.  This is step #1 of my funnel.  The problem I’m hoping to eventually solve for you is ineffective email marketing.  There are steps in between – emails I send that give you more tips for avoiding spam filters and eventually a free ebook that helps you write an email welcome series.  Then, I invite you to join my $5 per month coaching group where you can get your specific email marketing questions answered. This is a very simple, basic funnel.  I will likely add to it over time – more free stuff and more paid stuff (courses maybe?).  But I kept it simple so that I could move forward.  

Remember, done is better than perfect.  You can tweak and improve your funnel later and you will likely create many more in your business as you grow.

Want more help with your funnels and email list? Sign up below!

Step #8. Setup your actual blog

Whoot!  Whoot!  You are now ready to set up your actual website/blog!  Even though getting your blog online should be step #8, most bloggers make this step #1 – but not you!  You are smarter than that.  You know your blog is going somewhere, so you pushed through your self-doubt and took the previous 7 steps seriously.  You know how to start a successful blog.  Way to be brave!

Step #8A. Get your site online

Step #8 is where you need a “how to start a blog in 60 minutes” tutorial!  I will write one soon, I promise.  For now, I’ll keep it short and simple with a simple analogy that will hopefully help you understand what you need to build your website:

  • Your WebHost (aka host) = The plot of land you must purchase before you can build
  • Your Blogging Platform (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) = Your basic house structure (framing, roof, plumbing, etc.)
  • Your Theme = The finish work of your house (the light fixtures, flooring, faucets, etc.)
  • Plugins = Customizations you make to your house structure or finish work
  • Your domain (what you purchased in step #2): Your street address – how others know where to find your website

I highly suggest you choose WordPress as your blogging platform.  I won’t get into all the reasons here, but if you are serious about blogging, it is the best choice.

I strongly suggest you NOT choose Bluehost as your web host – even though you will see others recommending it.  I hate Bluehost – and I don’t ever use the word “hate” lightly.  Instead, I strongly suggest you choose Siteground (affiliate), or Flywheel (affiliate) or WPMUDev (affiliate) for your WebHost instead.  You can learn more about why I feel that way as well as the differences between the 3 hosts I recommend here under the “getting your site online” tab and then the “hosting” tab.

Once you’ve purchased your hosting, contact their support, and they will either walk you through getting your site online or do it for you.  You will need the log-in information for the domain you purchased in step #2.

Your site will come pre-loaded with a default WordPress theme.  I suggest you switch it to the free Astra theme (I explain why in step #8B). You can find a tutorial for installing it HERE.

Step #8B. Install your plugins

While you will likely install more as you grow and learn what your specific needs are, I suggest 3 plugins for all new bloggers.  These will simplify things for you and save you time and money in the long run:

  • Elementor Pro (affiliate) – This will allow you to design your website using a drag and drop interface.  Elementor Pro allows you to customize anything and everything about your theme.  For this reason, it is best to use a very simple theme when using Elementor Pro.  I use the free Astra theme (tutorial for how to install this in step#8A).  If you buy Elementor Pro using my link, let me know, and I’ll give you access to free tutorial videos that walk you through setting up your site with the Astra / Elementor Pro combo.  Note that the free Elementor plugin is NOT enough – it is just a page builder, not a theme builder. 
  • Yoast – the free version.  It will help you get your blog posts to show up in Google search results (aka SEO)
  • Social Warfare (affiliate) – (the paid version) – this will help you control how your content others share your content on social media.
  • Whatever plugin will allow you to connect your website to your Email Marketing Provider.  Here is how to do it with ConvertKit (affiliate) and here is how to do it with MailerLite (affiliate).

You can find a guide on how to install plugins in general here.

You can uninstall (deactivate, then delete) all other plugins that were automatically installed by your host except if they installed one with the actual name of your host in it.  For example, something like “WPMUDev Dashboard.”

If you are nervous about paying for these plugins, I get it – it can be scary to invest money before you’ve made money.  But that is the nature of starting a real business, and remember that you’ve decided your blog is a real business.  You are going to use it to create an impact on others and income for you.  These plugins are worth investing in for this reason.  If you want to read more about why I feel this way, you can do so here: The best blogging tools for new bloggers who want results.

Woman's hands writing

The best blog posts for new bloggers who want results

A List Of The Blogging Tools And Resources I'd Recommend To My Best Friend If She Were Starting A Blog.

Step #9. Design your website

Step #9A. Branding

Branding is critical in starting a successful blog and it has 2 parts: (1) Brand Strategy and (2) Brand Collateral. While you likely didn’t realize it, you created your brand strategy in step #1.  Now, it’s time to create the visual representation of your brand strategy (aka – your brand Collateral).  Your collateral includes things like your colors, fonts, logo, etc.  

You want your brand collateral to fit into your strategy.  The colors and fonts should match the adjectives you chose.  The types of images you choose to use on your website should follow these guidelines as well.

While I believe that paying a branding expert is worth it – I don’t think you should do so yet.  Your brand will grow and change a LOT in your first year as a blogger.  I suggest waiting until year #2 to seek professional branding help.  But doing your own branding can feel overwhelming and look unprofessional. 

So what is the answer?

Sarah Masci has a great program that solves this problem.  It is inexpensive and will help you DIY your professional-looking brand collateral.  You can find the program here: Love Your Logo: Quickstart Logo Design System.

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Step #9B. Design Your Website

Familiarize yourself with WordPress using my tutorials here.  Seriously.  Do it.  You cannot know how to start a successful blog if you don’t know how to use WordPress.  Take the time – I promise that taking the time to understand WordPress now will save you so many headaches in the future.

Once you are familiar with WordPress, it is time to design your website!  Designing your website is fun and exciting!  I highly suggest you use Elementor Pro as it will allow you to create every inch of your website without knowing any code. Again, if you purchase Elementor Pro using my link, let me know, and I will send you tutorials on how to use it.  Take the time to learn how to use this tool well, and you’ll save hundreds or even thousands in developer and designer fees as well as hours of your time as you try to get your site to look just right.

If you need inspiration as you design, check out my Remember when designing to check out my website design inspiration Pinterest board.  And as you design, don’t forget to check the tablet and mobile versions as well.

If you are using Astra and Elementor Pro, I suggest you create the following pieces of your website in the following order. These are the steps I would take each time I designed a new site when I was doing web design.

  • Set up your site defaults – There are the colors, fonts, and general layout of your site that you will find under Appearance – site identity, colors, typography, and layout.
  • Privacy Policy.  This page was likely auto-created for you, but you will need to fill it in with your information.  
  • Affiliate disclosure page.  If you are an affiliate for any company, you need to disclose that. You can view my affiliate disclosure here.  
  • Thank you popup or page that will show up after someone subscribes to your email list
  • Email signup forms.  These might be popups or forms that get embedded in the page depending on what you want to do
  • Post categories.  Create each category and give it a description.  I suggest 4-6 main categories with the rest as subcategories.  You might use these in your menus two steps from now
  • Website Pages – For now, just create them, don’t design them. You need them to exist for the next step.
  • Website menus – typically one main menu and one footer menu though you can have more if you need them.  You will need these as you design your other pages.  Your footer menu should include links to your privacy policy and affiliate disclosure.
  • Header.  Now it’s time to design!  Create the header that will appear at the top of all pages
  • Footer.  Create and design the footer that will appear at the bottom of all pages.
  • Design your pages:
      • Homepage (many bloggers make their blog page their homepage, I don’t suggest it.  Almost everyone who comes to your site will either do so via the homepage or go there eventually – use it to tell people exactly who you are, what you do and who you help)
      • About page
      • Contact page
      • 404 (page not found) page
      • Anything other pages you might need (services, portfolio, etc.
  • Design your templates (templates – theme builder). You will just be setting up the general structure; the actual content will change per post/page.
      • Blog post template
      • Category page template

Step #10 - Write 3-5 Blog Posts

Finally!  You are ready to start blogging!  Happy dance time!

You should complete your first 3-5 blog posts before you officially launch (meaning before you get rid of the landing page you made in step #3C and start directing people to your actual website).

Successful bloggers create what is called “cornerstone content” with their first few blog posts.  These are articles that will be the most important, and the most thorough posts on your website.  The posts you write later on will always link back to one or more of these posts.  This article you are reading right now is a cornerstone content article on my website.  So are the following:

Follow along with “How to write a blog post” to get your posts read by those that need them.  Each time you write a blog post, let those on your email list know.  Ask them for feedback!

Woman's hands writing

How to write a blog post

That Drives Quality Traffic To Your Website

Step #11 - Officially Launch!

You can’t start a successful blog if you don’t tell people about it.  Do something fun when you officially launch.  Give something away (maybe for the first few days or the first 100-ish subscribers).  You might give away a simple digital product or a coupon code for a product (affiliate or your own).  See step #6, option #3 for ideas of digital products you could give away.  

Invite those you have gotten to know in step #4 to share about your launch and giveaway on social media.

Email those on your email list and tell them about your launch.  Invite them to share it on social media as well.

Step #12 - Continue Posting quality content

As a successful blogger, quality over quantity should be your goal when you write blog posts.  The more time you have, the more blog posts you will be able to write, and the quicker your site will grow. But this doesn’t mean you can’t grow your website with just a post or two a month.  

As a mother with kids at home, the time you have may not be as much – or as consistent as you might want it to be, but as you focus on quality content, regular content, you will grow your business.  Don’t post five times in one month and then just once over the next three months.  Aim to post around the same number of times each month.  If you have extra time one week/month to write multiple posts, don’t post them all at once – publish them one at a time in a regular by scheduling them to be published in the future.

Use my How to write a blog post article to make sure each post is high quality and over time you will start to see increased results.  

Step #13 - Expand your funnel

As you increase the content (aka blog posts) on your website, you should also expand your funnel(s).  Add new steps (paid or free) to your existing funnel or create entirely new funnels that solve different products.  This is not just how to start a successful blog, but how to continue to grow it over time.

Conclusion

You now know how to make your blog successful. You know how to start a blog business – not just a hobby blog. This means you can have income and profound impact right away.

Yes, the money you earn, and the impact you have will grow as your email subscribers grow, but you don’t have to wait for some magical number of page views so you can place ads or have sponsored posts.  Your income is in your control, and you can have a more profound impact on the few people who are on your list at first than you would have otherwise. 

Immediate income and more profound impact is the payoff for not just knowing how to start a successful blog, but for actually doing so. Congrats!

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How to start a blog on WordPress step by step in the right order, How to start a blog for beginners and make money,

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