How to Create a Successful Blog. I just read a post about starting a blog for “under $350”, and was shocked. $350? Who the hell has $350 to start a blog? I know I didn't. I'm going to show you guys how you can create a successful blog for … not $350, not $300, but $30.
Starting a Successful Blog
I'm going to get right to it. The bare bones, that's what we're starting with. You don't need fluff to create a successful blog, so I'm giving it to you straight. This is coming from years of experience, and trial and error. When I started blogging, I had just moved out of the homeless shelter. Shelling out hundreds of dollars – or heck, even one hundred – for a blog venture, well, that's not something I could do. I wasn't even sure of what I was doing, so investing that kind of money would've been crazy. So here I am, to give you what I wish someone had given me when I started blogging.
While signing up for hosting, you need to purchase a domain. Do this at SiteGround. You can purchase a domain from anywhere and still use the hosting from SiteGround, but for simplicity I recommend keeping them both at the same spot. Pro tip: While coming up with your blog name, check across all social media platforms to make sure that name isn't taken yet.
Cost: $15 (for a year)
Sign up for hosting. I recommend SiteGround. There are other hosting companies, but many will charge more – or even worse, make you pay for an entire year up front. Seriously? I don't know if I'm even going to like this blog thing for more than a month (much less a year), and you want me to pay HOW much up front? Yeah, no.
Cost: $5/mo. You can pay $50 for the year, and your start-up costs will be $65 total instead of $30. I budgeted $15 for hosting because I want you to give it at least 3 months, if not 6, before you expect to see a return on it.
Action: Click here to sign up for hosting.
Alternate option: Use this special discount link and get hosting for a year for $40, plus a FREE domain. This saves you quite a bit, but like I said… I don't want you to feel like you HAVE to buy a year of hosting up front. If you aren't ready to make that type of commitment yet, don't. Month to month is fine and it's only $5!
Install WordPress. This is free, and extremely simple to do. Do not pay someone to install WordPress for you. You'll do this in your dashboard with your SiteGround hosting (under cPanel). They have amazing customer service and will walk you through it (or install it for you), for FREE.
Action: Install WordPress
Stock photos give you a leg up on other newbie bloggers from the get-go. When you don't have the time or equipment to create professional photos, use stock photos to start. Guess what? You don't even have to pay for stock photos. I wrote this post for you guys: Where to Find FREE Images for Your Blog.
Pro tip: Take your blog to the next level with paid (but affordable!) stock images like these.
Start a newsletter from the get-go. Even though your mom will probably be the only one reading it, it won't always be that way. Actually, send me a message on Facebook with your blog link and I'll sign up for your newsletter, too! So then you'll at least have two subscribers. Make your cat an email and it brings that number up to 3. Yeah, baby, you're rockin' and rollin' now.
Action: Sign up for MailChimp.
There are tons – and tons! – of editorial calendars out there. I've created a very basic one for you here, but you're welcome to make a copy and change it up. Or simply download a free one from another blogger (look on Pinterest). An editorial calendar will help set your blog up for success from the get go. I haven't ever followed through with using one in the past, which is part of the reason I'm all over the place sometimes. I use one now, and it's my saving grace. If you follow just one piece of advice here, start using an editorial calendar from the beginning. Like literally as soon as you finish signing up for hosting, start your calendar.
Action: Download my editorial calendar example
I'm not going to cover social media in great detail, because really it's a huge topic and that would be crazy. I am going to tell you again – if you're just now setting a blog up, using this post, then join my blog group! It's literally only for newbies and full of helpful tutorials. That's the only way I can truly walk you through everything to do with social media.
After your blog is set up, it's time to create your social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Those are the four I use and recommend.
Next, sign up for HootSuite. They have a free plan, so you can schedule all of your social media posts out. This will save you so much time.
I can also tell you to sign up for my amazing Pinterest Course, but in reality… you're not ready for that yet! Let's chat first.
Action: Set your social media accounts up, sign up for HootSuite.
Success, here I come!
When I say “success” in relation to blogging, I mean you're making money. Obviously that isn't the only way to measure success, but why would you invest money – even $30 – into something if it wasn't going to give you at least that in return?
Success doesn't happen over night, and blogging is a long term income strategy, not a get-rich-quick scheme. With that being said, the amount of money you make relies on the foundation you create for your blog. I have learned a lot over the years but am constantly learning, still. The blogging world never slows down. I know it can be confusing, and sometimes overwhelming. But please, take a step back and breathe! I want you to succeed. I would be happy to help you with your blog, if you just send me a message. I can add you to my blog group (sign up for hosting first, send me your URL via PM), and if you have any questions, I'll walk you through the answers.
Things You Shouldn't Worry About
Alexa ranking. No sponsor worth a damn cares about your Alexa ranking. Alexa is easily manipulated, and is an outdated way of ranking blogs. If a sponsor mentions Alexa, that tells me they're extremely inexperienced. I respond with my other stats – like engagement, social media following, or basically anything that's more important than traffic. When a sponsor knows that you know your stuff, they're going to be more likely to work with you anyway.
Page Rank. Page rank hasn't update in years, so it's not really being used as a way to measure “worth” in most situations. It used to be something I really stressed over, but thankfully I don't have to do that any more!
Fancy designs. You don't need to pay for a designer, or even a theme, to make your blog great. Down the road if you're making some extra dough and want to spend a few hundred on a design, go for it. Paying for that right off the bat is fine, too, but not something you need to worry about.
Traffic. Don't get me wrong, traffic is important in the grand scheme of things when it comes to blogging. But there are several things that are more important than traffic, so don't obsess. It's important to pay attention and track your stats (social media following, traffic, etc), so don't completely ignore it. I just felt it was worth mentioning that you shouldn't obsess over traffic. If you're going to obsess over anything, it should be content creation. I do have a great post to help you get more traffic when you're ready: 99 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic
The Bottom Line
THIRTY dollars, straight up. That is all it takes to get started and cover 3 months of blog expenses. That means I'm expecting you to hustle your ass off and make some money within that 3 months. At the 3 month mark, see if your blog stats are improving or declining each week. Give it another 3 months before freaking out, but by the 6 month mark you can definitely be making money and running a successful, professional blog.
Questions? Leave me a comment! Be sure to attach your email address so I can send you an email answering them.