Ultimate Beginners Guide On How to Start a Blog in 2020 and Make Money Online

Do not wait; the time will never be just right.

Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.

There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.

Napoleon Hill

In this complete guide for starting a blog that will make you money, I’m going going to cover everything that is needed for a successful blog.

With over 500 million blogs today, perhaps you too caught a blogging fever and you’re thinking about starting your own blog.

If you do, then keep reading because I’m going to show you everything that is needed to start a successful blog in 2020.

From the domain name, hosting, building your website and setting it up, to content creation, blog promotion, and monetization.

Everything is here so you don’t want to skip this.

Let’s start.

Choose A Platform For Your Blog

There are a couple of excellent free blogging platforms you can use for blogging like Medium, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Blogger or Google Sites.

These platforms are great places for testing your ideas, but if you are serious about blogging and you want to build an audience and make money online, there is just one blogging platform you should choose and that is self-hosted WordPress.

Around 35% of all websites use WordPress because it’s free and because it offers lots of flexibility with a large number of plugins and designs.

Self-hosted means that you need to purchase a hosting to be able to install WordPress. This will cost you some money but the benefits of having a self-hosted blog are something that free blogging platforms just can’t match.

Choose A Perfect Niche (Topic) For Your Blog

Niche is a general theme or a topic of your blog, the stuff you’ll be writing about all the time.

When choosing your niche you should be looking for something that is your passion or a hobby, but it can also be something that you would like to learn about.

And the best thing is that you don’t have to be an expert to make money within any niche, you will become an expert by researching and writing your posts.

Finding your perfect niche is a balance of three different factors:

  • How passionate you are about that topic? This is something that you should already know.
  • How passionate others are about that topic? Ask yourself are people interested in this topic on a consistent and ongoing basis. Check Google trends to see the interest over time. You don’t want to be in a seasonal niche.
  • Can you make money from that topic? You’re looking for offers already in the market, and not something new. If someone is having a recurring income model on that topic already that’s good news.

Making money online should be fun, and your online business shouldn’t be like a day job. This can be done by choosing a topic that you are passionate about so you can enjoy writing your articles.

Choose A Great Domain Name For Your Blog

People can sometimes try to be a bit too creative when it comes to choosing a domain name for their blog.

Even if it is a way to show your imagination a blog’s name should immediately express the primary purpose of your blog. Otherwise, no one could recognize what your blog is actually about.

Generally, since you should already know what your blog will be about, you should include the main keyword in a domain name and another word that fits your keyword.

From my personal experience, I know that choosing a domain name can take a lot of time. If you feel stuck, or you are just without any ideas for your domain name you can use the Shopify Business Name Generator, or the GoDaddy Domain Name Generator to get some ideas.

There are a couple of methods that work well for choosing your domain name:

  • Address the audience (SmartBlogger.com, ProBlogger.com)
  •  Address the topic (ClickFunnels.com, GrowthHacks.com)
  • Adress the benefit (MakeaLivingWriting.com, BeaBetterHuman.com)

I recommend that you get .com domains because they are simple and professional. Try to avoid any hyphens, symbols or numbers in your domain name.

Ideally, you will get a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan. But if you have to get it somewhere else my recommendation is Namecheap.

Below you can check available domain names.

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Find Reliable And Cheap Hosting Provider That Also Offers A Free Domain

Purchasing domain name and hosting used to be divided into two steps but since today most hosting providers are giving a free domain with their hosting plans it becomes easier and cheaper to get both from the same place.

When it comes to choosing a hosting provider you should pay attention to the three most important things:

  • Speed, because the loading speed of your website is a ranking factor
  • Support, because you’ll want to deal with the problems immediately and you need 24/7 support.
  • Security, and when I say security, I’m not just thinking about malicious attacks but also on SSL certificate, because without an SSL certificate your visitors will get a browser warning that your site is not safe.

But there are also ways to get an SSL certificate for free if the hosting provider doesn’t include one in their hosting plan.

I recommend you to check DreamHost hosting plans if you want fast, reliable and cheap WordPress hosting.

Start a Blog and Make Money Online hosting providers

Other great hosting providers:

Installing WordPress On DreamHost With One-Click Install

Installing WordPress at DreamHost is easy. Just log in to your panel and select One-Click Installs.

From the One-Click-Installs list, choose WordPress, then enter the following:

  • Install to: Choose your domain for installation.

The second textbox is for installing into a subdirectory (if you don’t want to install it in the primary directory).

For example, if you want it installed into example.com/blog select example.com in the first dropdown menu, then type in the word blog in the second textbox.

  • Select Database: Choose the Automatically Create Database because this will create a new database for your site.
  • Click the Install it for me now button and within 15 minutes, you’ll get an email with details for completing the installation.

When WordPress is finally installed on your site, you can log into it at:

example.com/wp-login.php

Customize Your Blog By Installing A Theme And Plugins

Your theme is the design of your website. The purpose of the theme is to help your visitors find the information they are looking for and, at the same time to help you to complete your goals.

Don’t worry about getting a paid theme, you will be completely fine with the free ones.

A plugin is a software that can expand functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites without knowing a single line of code.

Choose A Theme For Your Blog

Ideally, you want a theme that has a design layout that helps you to achieve your goal. Your theme should be looking good and be usable and simple.

So make sure that your theme isn’t too complicated and choose only themes that are optimized for mobile devices.

To pick a theme:

  •  Log in to your WordPress dashboard
  •  Go to Appearance, then click on Themes.
  •  Choose Add New

Now you can search for a theme in a search box and install it, or upload a theme that you downloaded in .zip file.

Here’s how to do it in both cases:

  • Install your theme from the WordPress directory

To install a theme from the WordPress directory just enter the theme’s name or wanted feature and click the Install button.

  • Install your 3rd party WordPress theme

To install 3rd party theme first click on Add New and then:

  •  Click on Choose File and find a theme that you downloaded in .zip format and select it
  •  Click Install Now

After installing your WordPress theme, click on Activate and you’re done.

To see how it looks like from your navigation menu go to Appearance and then:

  • Click on Themes and you will see all your installed themes
  • Find a theme that you want to preview and click the Preview button

After you have installed your theme it’s time to add desired functionalities, and that is done by installing plugins.

Install The Best Plugins For Your Blog

There are some categories of plugins that every website need:

  • SEO plugins (my recommendation is Yoast SEO)
  • Performance plugins (my recommendation is WP Super Cache and Imagify)
  • Security plugins (my recommendation is iThemes Security)
  • Social Share plugins (my recommendation is Social Warfare)

Installation of plugins is simple, just like you did when installing your theme:

  • Go to Appearance and instead of Themes click on Plugins
  • Click on Add New
  • Do the same as you did when installing a theme

When you are done with installing plugins you’ll want to prepare your site for SEO.

Set Up Your Blog And Get It Ready For Search Engines

If you want to have a blog that drives traffic and get to page one of Google, you have to learn SEO (search engine optimization).

There are plenty of SEO guides out there but only a few tell you about the most basic things like how to create a sitemap, and how to get your site indexed.

So here it is.

Create A Sitemap And Submit It To Search Engines

A sitemap helps Google to discover the great content you create. If you installed and activated the Yoast SEO plugin we recommended earlier, creating a sitemap is easy and quick.

In the left side menu of your WordPress dashboard, click SEO and then:

  • Click General
  • Click the Features tab
  • Find XML sitemaps option and make sure the switch is On

There’your XML sitemap, now, you need to submit it to search engines.

But first, you need URL of your sitemap:

  • Click the question mark icon next to XML sitemaps
  • Click the See the XML sitemap link (this will open a sitemap in a new tab in your browser)
  • Copy the URL in the address bar

Now you want to Submit Your Sitemap to Google Search Console, here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Google Search Console and sign in using your Google account
  • Select your site from the left side menu (If you have never used Google Search Console before, you need to click Add property and follow the steps given before you continue)
  • Go to Index, then click the Sitemaps option
  • In the Add a New Sitemap, enter the URL of your sitemap and click Submit

You’ll also want to Submit Your Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools, here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Bing Webmaster Tools (you’ll need to create an account if you don’t have one)
  • Go to My Sites section, and click your website (If you haven’t used Bing Webmaster Tools before, enter your blog’s URL in the Add a Site section and click Add)
  • In the left side menu, click Configure My Site and then click on Sitemaps
  • Enter the URL of your sitemap in the Submit a sitemap section and click Submit

You’re done.

How To Get Your Blog Indexed Fast

After you’ve submitted your sitemap, stay in the Google Search Console because now you’re going to get your blog indexed.

  • Go to URL Inspection and enter URL of your blog and press Enter on your keyboard

This will open a new page that looks like this:

  • Click on Request Indexing and that’s it.

Crafting The Essential Pages Every Website Should Have

When you are just starting a blog, you must know about the essential pages you should create. Blog pages are static and provide information about you, your services, and how to contact you.

Homepage

The Home Page is like your front door. Not every visitor will use it to enter your blog but it’ll probably be one of your most viewed pages. Make sure it delivers the right message.

In WordPress, you have two options:

  1. First, your homepage can be a list of your latest posts.
  2. And second, it can be a static page.

Creating a good static homepage is not easy, but it’s important so make sure you deal with it as soon as possible.

About Page

Even the name of this page is About me, it’s not actually about you. It’s about what are you offering to your readers. They want to know a bit more about you, but mainly they want to know how you are going to help them.

So don’t make this page all about you. Instead, try to answer these questions to craft an ideal About page that will hook your readers before you throw in your personal bio:

  • Why should they read your blog?
  • What will they get from your blog?
  • What types of posts do you publish?
  • How did you get started with your blog?

Also, it’s good to put your call to action in several places within your About Page.

Contact Page

Even if you have your contact information in the footer of your website, you still need a Contact page.  You want to make it easy for them to reach you because it is the best chance to transform a prospect into a customer.

Privacy Policy Page

Your Privacy Policy page refers to how your website collects and uses visitors’ information.

Just search on Google for a Privacy Policy Template, and adapt it to fit your website, or a Privacy Policy Generator, which will create a customized privacy policy page with your website name inserted where it’s needed.

This is the must-have page because Google won’t index your blog without it.

Blog Page

A blog page is just a page where your posts will be published. All you have to do is to create a new page, usually, the title is Blog but you can call it whatever you want, and publish it.

Then go to Appearance and click on Customize.

In the Homepage Settings you can choose your homepage and your blog page.

Choose The Best Email Marketing Provider For Beginners

An effective way to expand the reach of your content is to encourage people to subscribe to your email list.

Ideally, this will lead the people who regularly interact with your content to see it, read it, and share it.

Having an email list also helps you communicate with the same people, over and over, letting you nurture them to become your leads and customers in the future.

As a beginner, you don’t have to worry about being perfect. It’s enough to add simple opt-in forms on your pages for start, and later when you learn more about it, you can set it up for more conversions.

Because the vast majority of the people won’t give you their email address just like that. So, you need to give them a reason.

Lead magnets provide readers a reason to give you their email addresses to you. They give you their email, you give them something useful for free.

Moosend is a great platform for beginners because it’s simple to use and it’s free until you reach 1000 subscribers.

You’ll also get access to all premium features except landing page builder, and that is something that you won’t get anywhere else.

video

Identify Your Targeted Audience

One of the necessary steps for starting a successful blog is to know why and for whom you’re writing the content.

You need to know who your potential audience is and what problems and challenges they want to solve, and the best way to do this is to create an audience persona.

An audience persona is an imaginary and generalized illustration of your ideal audience. This helps you to better understand your audience and make it easier for you to create content for their specific desires, aspects, and problems.

When it comes to blogging, creating an audience persona helps you to understand what kinds of content you should be writing to attract that audience.

You can try Hubspot’s free Persona Generator for a better understanding of how to create your targeted persona.

Create a List Of Content Ideas

You now know who you’re writing for. But how do you start and nurture a blog with content for that targeted audience?

By building a list of evergreen content.

Evergreen content is content that stays useful over time. It’s a high-value content that will be interesting to your audience no matter when they interact with it. It will also make it easier to rank for keywords and to build authority over time.

But how to find ideas for your list of evergreen content?

The answer is something that you might not expect… You steal them. That’s right, you steal them. The trick is to find correct information from trusted sources.

Research, read, and compile. And originality comes from using your own voice, and you improve your voice from writing more and more.

Keywords are important, but not as much as before. For better rankings these days you should concentrate on topics but still use the main keywords in your titles and meta description, and sprinkle them in your posts a couple of times.

For your keyword research, I recommend the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool. The data that is hauled directly from Google’s organic search results and Google Adwords and it is one of the most precise keyword research tools available.

You’ll have to sign up for SEMrush’s free account to use it, and the best thing is that their free account includes many useful tools like backlink audit and backlink builder and site audit tool.

Here’s the Keyword Magic Tool tutorial:

Get Familiar With Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters Content Strategy

This is a content strategy that you employ to organize your content, boost rankings for all linked pages and bring more traffic to your site.

Having in-depth pillar pages surrounded by topic clusters is very effective because, as I said earlier, Google suggests focussing on topics instead focussing on keywords.

The idea is to create a big and powerful piece of content (pillar page) that wraps up all of the questions but doesn’t do it in-depth. Then you start creating blog posts about different topics covered on your pillar page.

Create Content That Gets People To Take Desired Action

Having an idea, turning those ideas into words and writing your first blog post is the fun part.

No matter are you an affiliate marketer or a dog walker, you could have the best website and lots of traffic, but if your visitors aren’t compelled to take the action you want them to take, then it’s all for nothing.

Copywriting is one of the most important skills you can ever learn for your online business, and it’s going to be a vital part of your success.

To become a successful copywriter you have to follow a standard formula that’s been working for years, and still works today. The AIDA formula.

And it all starts with headlines.

Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines

There are two things that we imply when creating content, features, and benefits. Remember this true old saying: Features tell, benefits sell.

Benefits are much more important to your readers then features.

Great headlines ideally have two or three benefits, and almost 99% of great headlines that you can see today are stolen ideas because writers follow a template that’s been working since the beginning of time.

All they have to do is fill in the blanks. You can and should do the same.

Types Of Posts That Works Best

Not every piece of your content should be selling something. Try to have 1 sale post to 2 non-sales posts. Keep in mind that non-selling posts have a purpose too. They are used to attract readers, to keep them longer on your site, and to lead them to a piece of selling content.

Here are 3 types of posts that do well:

  • List posts (3 ways to.. 3 steps to.. The top 10.. Example: The Top 10 Simple Tactics To Drive Targeted Traffic To Your Website)
  • How-to posts (How to do.. How to be.. How to do x without x..Example: How To Drive Traffic To Your Website Without Spending a Dime)
  • Product or service reviews
    There are two types of reviews, straight product reviews, and comparison reviews. Aida doesn’t help here so you have to follow a template that works for reviews.

Single product reviews:

  • 1000 words minimum
  • List Pros and cons
  • Cover features and benefits
  • 2 to 3 calls to action in the content
  • Hyperlink images
  • Conclusion
  • A call to action at the end of the conclusion

Comparison reviews:

  • Longer than 1500 words
  • Pros and cons for both products but one must come as a Winner
  • Cover features and benefits for both products
  • Winning product have to be 2nd one

Tips to follow

  • Short paragraphs, 2 to 3 sentence max
  • Never use long words if short ones can do the job
  • Use images and subheadings to break up the content
  • Use simple words
  • Use Grammarly to fix grammar errors

Promote Your Brand New Blog Like A Boss

When you have just started blogging no one will know you exist. You could have the amazing content but no one’s going to know it’s there.

Unless you promote it.

You want to spend just as much time promoting your posts as you do writing them. Minimum. There is a 20/80 rule, which says that you have to be spending 20% of your time writing content and 80% to promote it.

Here’s a couple of proven ways to promote your content:

Comment Other Relevant Blogs In Your Niche

This is a bit outdated technique but I recommend you to do this because you’ll get backlinks and the bloggers in your niche will hear about you and that will open the doors for some future relationships with those bloggers.

But this won’t work if you just write “great post”. If you’re going to participate, ask a question or add your opinion, and do it like a real person who cares.

Republish Your Posts On Medium And LinkedIn

Don’t worry about getting penalized for duplicate content, search engines are now good at specifying original sources of information and they expect content to be republished on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium.

If your name is assigned to republished posts, the search engines will see the content as authentic.

Reach Out To Bloggers In Your Niche

This is called blogger outreach.

Outreach is a strategy when you reach out to bloggers via email or social media and ask them to share, promote or just look at your blog posts.

This is how to do it properly:

  • Step 1 – Search Google to find and build a list of suitable popular blogs.
  • Step 2 –  Visit the social profiles of bloggers from your list and look at the content they share. You are looking for content that is related to the post you want to promote.
  • Step 3 – When you find what you are looking for then reach out to those bloggers with a personalized email.

To make this strategy work, you must have great content, so put all of your efforts into it. If you’ve done this right, your post will impress them and they’ll share it with their audience.

Share Your Posts On Social Media Platforms

With so many social media platforms it’s hard to be on all of them, and if you try to be everywhere, you’re going to fail. So find just one platform good for your niche and conquer it.

Forget other platforms and focus just on one. Which one it will be, that depends on your niche.

Create Short eBooks And Give Them Away For Free

One of the easiest ways to expand your reach and promote your blog is by giving away free eBooks. Follow these tips for success:

  • Offer real value
  • Create content that is easy to understand
  • Make it short
  • Include images
  • Include a call to action

The eBook builds trust which is an important factor in conversions. Share it on forums, social media and give it to anyone who wants it.

Answer Questions On Quora

Quora is the perfect place for bloggers to showcase their knowledge and expertise. It’s a place where anyone can ask a question and get answers from anyone in the community.

The first step is to go to Quora and create your account if you don’t have one already. Then you should:

  • Search for the topics from your posts trough Quora’s search bar
  • Click on the filter button right under the search button and select Question type and in By Time section select Past Day
  • Click Done

Look for questions that have less than 5 answers and make sure that all your answers end with a link to your post. If you don’t see an opportunity to answer like this then move on to the next question.

Try this for a week or two and see what happens, half an hour per day should be enough.

If you want to make money with your blog you have to choose a way to monetize it. This leads us to the next section of this guide.

Choose The Best Monetization Method For Beginners

There are many ways to monetize your blog, but the best way for a beginner is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and make a commission for every purchase through your affiliate links.

Affiliate marketing is how most of the internet millionaires started their way to wealth.

If you want to choose your own working plan and you like the idea of financial freedom then you are the right person for affiliate marketing. But if you are not ready to work hard and invest your time then you better skip trying this.

This isn’t a get rich fast system and like in any other business, you’ll have to work hard and be smart and consistent if you want to accomplish something and make money with your blog.

Best Online Courses You Can Take To Improve Your Writing Skills And Boost Your Chances For Success

Like with anything else, in order to become better, you should practice and educate yourself. The same goes for writing.

Here’s a couple of great courses that I took myself and recommend it to anyone who wants to become a better writer.

SkillShare’s Blogging Classes

Some of the popular courses are Blogging Basics, Build a Successful Blog in 2019 and Beyond, Blogging for Beginners, and Creating Blog Material Your Readers Actually Want to Read.

These courses offer fun and interactive lessons and set you on the road of becoming a writing wizard.

Writers Den

Freelance Writers Den is an online community where writers learn how to boost their writing skills and grow their earnings fast.

It’s an exclusive community and you have to join their waiting list and wait because they open to the crowd only twice a year, but special offers to their waiting list can sometimes get you in sooner.

Hubspot Academy

HubSpot Academy is an outstanding source for marketers and sales professionals to expand their skills and discover new areas of online business.

Make sure to go through the Business Blogging Course: Attracting and Monetizing an Audience Through Content.

Conclusion

If you think that blogging is a bit outdated now when we have so many social media platforms these days, let me tell you just two interesting facts:

  • Market researchers estimate that over 75% of all Internet users read blogs regularly
  • Content marketing, with blogging included, is a 300 billion dollar industry

So if your goals are to build an audience and make money online, then the obvious answer to the question should you start your own blog is:

Yes, you should start a blog.

Immediately.

That’s it. I showed you the right way to start a blog that will make you money. But what will you do with this new knowledge is up to you.

Do you already have your own blog? What do you think about my guide? Please, tell me in the comments section below. I’ll read and answer every comment.

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Beginners Guide On How to Start a Blog in 2020 and Make Money Online”

  1. Wow, that’s really bad-ass content. I struggled my way when I first started it, had to watch videos after videos to figure out my way. I am bookmarking this site for reference. Really good stuff.

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