Last Updated on 29/06/2021 by Edy Ragnoli
A powerful step-by-step guide for beginners (and experts) on how to start a blog and make money online using the best tools and services available on the market.
There are tons of people like you who would like to start a blog and earn money online. Blogging can be a real way to make money from home. In fact, it's the path thousands of aspiring digital nomads take in the hope to make money while they sit on the couch or travel around the world.
On the Internet, there are hundreds of articles about how to start a blog and make money. But there's a problem. They don't always give you the best advice. Most often, authors promote companies and tools they never used. They join affiliate programs and suggest services only to earn commissions but without having any direct experience.
So, how can you learn how to become a successful digital entrepreneur? I wrote this step-by-step guide to teach you how to become a pro blogger earning a six-figure passive income online. It's the result of over ten years of personal experience as an SEO-specialised digital marketer. It will take you by hand through the wonderful world of blogging.
Before continuing, I'd like to dispel a cliché. “Making money with a blog is simple”. But making a living with blogging is very difficult.
In fact, the amount of money bloggers make varies widely. According to a ProBlogger Report, monthly earnings break out as follows:
- Almost 38% of bloggers make less than $10.
- 10% of bloggers earn between $10 and $99.
- 17% of bloggers earn between $100 and $499.
- 7% earn between $500 and $999.
- 9% earn between $1,000 and $9,999.
- 4% earn $10,000 or higher.
Anyone can indeed start a blog without experience. But, as you can see from the chart, only 9% of bloggers earn more than $1,000 a month, and only 4% earn more than $10,000.
So, how can you be part of the 13% of bloggers earning between $1,000 and $50,000 a month? Keep reading to know the answer.
First of all, you need the following three things.
1. Winning attitude. Stop thinking you're just a blogger. Start thinking you're a digital entrepreneur! Most times, people see blogging as a pastime rather than a real job. But if you want to make a living with blogging, you need the correct motivation. Let's make an example.
✘ Negative mindset: “now I open a blog, I write some posts, and then I'll see how it goes”. In 99% of cases, you would fail.
✔ Positive mindset: “I'm a digital entrepreneur. I want to start an online business and make money with blogging”.
2. Discipline. To be successful in any business, you need discipline. It's vital to follow all the steps correctly. Many times, especially if you have no experience, just skipping one step can ruin all the work already done.
3. Constancy. Another fundamental prerequisite is constancy. I don't mean you have to work on your blog for 12 hours a day (some bloggers only dedicate 2 to 3 hours daily). But, anyway, you must curate it regularly. Some daily activities you need to carry out are content writing, email marketing, SEO and social media management.
To start and run a blog successfully, you don't need to know everything from the beginning. Nobody knows it all. So don't worry because you'll learn many things along the way. What matters most for you is having diligence, consistency, and a correct attitude.
Are you ready? Let's get started with this guide. Let's discover how to start a blog and make money online.
Disclaimer: This page includes affiliate links that may earn me a small commission, but there's no cost for you. On the contrary, in some cases, you may get discounts that otherwise you wouldn’t have. In this guide, I describe the best tools that can help you make money blogging. This list is the result of over 12 years of direct experience in digital marketing management. I'll really appreciate it if you use these links as they allow me to run this blog and provide you with free fresh content regularly.
1. Choose Your Blog's Market Niche
Choosing the right market niche for your online business is essential for success. But how can you find the right one? There are two lines of thought among bloggers and digital marketers we can summarise as follow.
1) Choose the market niches that match your passions.
2) Choose the market niche based on marketing factors (audience budget potential, market demand, etc.).
My personal opinion is that the truth lies somewhere in between! Both options are correct and universally valid. Finding a balance between the two will lead you to success.
a) Audience Budget Potential
Without going into too many technical details, for which we should write a separate post, the question to ponder is:
What is the #1 most important factor when choosing your blog niche?
Answer: how much your audience is willing to spend.
You may choose the most beautiful market niche in the world based on your passions and skills. But how much can you earn if your audience can't spend any money (for ex., stay-at-home moms, college students or a few professionals with an average salary)? Your online business won't be profitable or will earn just a few dollars per month or year. In this situation, you will never make a living with blogging.
Here's the secret solution to overcome this problem.
b) Use Your Passion and Professional Leverage to Choose Your Blog Niche
The starting point for developing a successful blog is the intersection of passion, skills, and experience.
After identifying a lucrative audience, you must offer them some value. How can you do that? By discovering what strategic advantages you have over the others.
Everyone can do that, even if you think you don't possess any abilities. The truth is we all have some passions and skills that can let us stand out from the crowd. So, dig deep within yourself to uncover your distinctive factors.
- What is my current level of professional experience?
- What connections do I have in my industry?
- Can I leverage this experience into a profitable blog?
To build a truly successful blog, you need to become an influencer, an authority in your field. To achieve that, step outside of your comfort zone. Leverage your connections, professional experience, and everything at your disposal like never before.
c) Your Niche Needs Market Demand
Once you've identified the potential audience and understood your leverage and passions, you must verify if people are searching for your topics. And last but not least, you need to discover if and how you can monetise those contents.
The two main types of content you can monetise are “best” list posts and “how-to” guides. These two kinds of keywords have the most affiliate marketing revenue potential.
To find the top target keywords, type the words you want to search for in keyword tools such as GrowthBar, Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Ahrefs. You'll receive a list of results with search volumes on the web.
Once you've found the TOP 10 target keywords, you are ready to start your blog / business.
In conclusion, if you develop a blog based only on your passion, you risk creating a non-profitable business. On the other hand, if you consider just the market factors, you can get bored. Eventually, you will abort your blog project due to a lack of motivation.
The secret to a successful blog business is the combination of your passion, skills, market factors, and potential audience.
Tools for Podcaster, Coach, Trainer & Teacher
2. Choose the Domain Name and Hosting Provider
Selecting and purchasing the right domain name and hosting service are the first two steps to start a blog. The former represents your brand, and the latter is your webspace.
Choose your domain name and hosting service carefully. Never underestimate these two elements. I'm going to explain why in the next paragraph. So, keep reading.
1. How To Choose the Right Domain Name
What's a Domain Name?
The domain is your digital address. Therefore, taking the right one can potentially attract new users. But a wrong address, on the contrary, could keep them away. Consequently, you will lose customers before they even see your website.
Technically, the domain name is the part of the web address you read between “HTTPS” (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and the extension (“.com”). For example, my website domain name is “MyExcitingJourney”. Here's a visual layout of a domain name.
Three Top Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
There are many aspects you should consider when choosing a domain name. To make things easier, I condensed them into three tips. Although they are not absolute rules, you can see them as excellent pieces of advice.
- Choose the easiest to remember domain name. The ideal one should be no longer than 8/10 characters. I know, among over 1.8 billion websites online, it's not easy to find interesting domain names available. Most of the times, it's necessary to merge multiple names and “build” a longer domain name (like mine, for example).
- Avoid inserting numbers and dashes. A domain name with numbers is both unattractive for the eye and bad for SEO. Furthermore, if you would like to sell your domain or the whole website/blog in the future, a name with numbers and dashes won't be attractive to potential buyers.
- Select the right domain extension. The best top-level domain extension is the “.com”. It's the first choice for both SEO and memorability. Alternatively, you may choose a country domain extension such as .ca .de and .fr. That's the case when your business or language refers more to a national target audience rather than international. As you can see in the image below, the alternative extensions to the top-level domain (.com) have a much lower average market value (75% to 95% lower)!
Check the Availability of Your Domain Name
If you want more technical information, you can consult the Wikipedia domain name page.
2. How to Choose the Hosting Provider
The hosting provider is the web service provider from which you can buy the domain name and hosting space.
I want to be honest with you. Many bloggers and marketers promote companies only to get a commission. Unlike them, I prefer to promote only the best companies I've personally tested in over 12 years of experience as an SEO-specialized Digital Marketing Manager.
As an SEO manager, I've always been “obsessed” with site speed and performance (page load time). It largely depends on the server. Over the years, I've personally tried at least a dozen hosting providers. Only in 2019, I tested four of them at once.
Do you want to know the result? The average level of hosting providers on the market is very low!
I could count the companies that excel in this sector on the fingers of one hand. One of them is Chemicloud (where I host MyExctingJourney.com).
Here are the three fundamental aspects to consider when choosing the right hosting provider.
1. Server Performance
All hosting providers offer similar services. What makes them better is performance. And this is something that varies widely from company to company.
Chemicloud uses Litespeed servers. They are 5 to 12 times faster than Nginx, and 28 to 84 times faster than Apache, even in combination with caching plugins such as WP Rochet, W3TC, and FCGI.
These are facts, not words! Here, you can find the details about the Litespeed performance tests.
2. Customer Service
Any good hosting provider must have IT engineers who can solve problems every time they occur. Unfortunately, easier said than done. Many times, it's a nightmare. What you get are just sleepless nights, horrible experience, and money loss.
I personally experienced that, in the past, with some hosting providers. But since I moved my websites to ChemiCloud, I can sleep well and tight. Although the company doesn't have a 24/7 chat service, The support tickets are great. The staff reply in about ten minutes (that's almost a real-time response) and always solve my problems. So, I can proudly say ChemiCloud customer service is simply exceptional!
3. Easy and Intuitive Control Panel
For a beginner, using a complex and confusing control panel can be difficult and annoying. It's a kind of a maze where it's not easy to find even the essential services. Once again, ChemiCloud can save your day thanks to its intuitive and simple control panel. It's the best I've ever used so far. It's like gold, especially for absolute beginners.
But don't just listen to my words. Read what all the other users and customers write about ChemiCloud on Trustpilot, the best review site.
On Trustpilot, Chemicloud is the best-reviewed hosting provider with 97% excellent ratings.
Here's, instead, the comparison table between ChemiCloud and its competitors in the same market segment. There's no comparison! ChemiCloud is the winner with the best price-service ratio.
3. How to Buy a Domain Name and Hosting on Chemicloud
How can you purchase your domain name and hosting space on ChemiCloud? Here's a step-by-step guide.
- Go to the ChemiCloud website and select WordPress Hosting.
2. Choose the plan you prefer. WordPress Starter costs $3.95 per month. However, you are required to purchase three years to get a 50% discount. Personally, I recommend buying one year of the WordPress Turbo at $12.95 per month. This plan offers an advanced caching system that makes your website very fast and performing.
3. Now that you selected the best WordPress hosting plan, it's time to choose your domain. Type the name, click “Check” to verify it's available, then “Continue”. Note: the first domain name is free for life!
4. You are now in the Checkout panel that lists the main and additional services. Select the plan duration. Pick the server location closest to where you live. SSL protection is free of charge. You don't need any additional services unless you have special needs. So, you can click “Continue” to move to the next step.
5. On the next page, you can request the Domain privacy protection service. I highly recommend purchasing it. ID privacy protection makes your personal data private. Otherwise, they would appear in the WHOIS register (as required by law), and everybody could see them.
6. You reached the last step. Review your order. Click “Checkout, enter your billing details and pay. That's it!
You've finally purchased your domain name and hosting space. Now get ready to move on to the next step!
3. Install WordPress as Your Blogging Content Management System (CMS)
WordPress is probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) available today. It's an open-source website creation tool written in PHP language and MySQL (its database management system).
But don't worry. You don't need to know any coding to use it, neither PHP nor MySQL. All you have to do is becoming familiar with the user-friendly services and tools you can see on the backend left sidebar.
How to install WordPress on your ChemiCloud hosting space
1) Log in to your cPanel (the cPanel credentials are the same as those for accessing Chemicloud and are provided to you when you register).
2) Scroll down to the Most Popular Apps Installer section. Click the WordPress logo to open the options page. Then, click the Install button.
3) Now it’s time to choose a protocol for your WordPress site.
If you've already installed a Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, then you would use HTTPS. If your site doesn't use any SSL, then HTTP protocol will be just fine.
4) Next, you need to enter the details of your WordPress installation as shown below.
- Choose the domain: select the domain name for your WordPress installation.
- Directory field: you can specify the root folder for your WordPress installation. By default, this field is empty and will install WordPress on your domain.com directly. If, instead, you wish to install it in a subfolder such as “yourdomain.com/blog”, just type “blog” in this field.
- Site Name. Type in the website title that you want to show in any search engine.
- Site Description. Write a short sentence that describes your website. It will appear in any search engine.
- Enable Multisite (WPMU). Activate this option when you want to create a network of websites. Note: in 99% of cases, you won't need this function.
In this area, you need to enter the login details you’d like to use to access your WordPress admin panel. Make sure to use a strong password and a valid email address to which you have access.
I suggest you keep the default advanced options already configured for the database.
In this area, you can also enable auto-updates for your WordPress version, theme and plugins.
5) When ready, scroll down and press Install.
It takes just a few minutes to install WordPress. This message will confirm everything is good: “Congratulation, the software was installed successfully”.
Now you are ready to go. Click the Administrative URL link and get ready to log in with the credentials you previously created.
4. Pick a Lightweight and Powerful WordPress Theme
Where and how to choose your WordPress theme
The theme shapes your blog/website, and choosing the right one is very important for your online business. There are thousands of WordPress themes on the web. Some are free, and many others are Premium, but they cost just a few dollars.
Personally, I always use premium themes, and I suggest you do the same because the free ones often come with many limitations. For example, you may not be able to customise the header and footer – which happens quite frequently – or sometimes, you have limited fonts and colour palettes.
For a good theme, you must go beyond aesthetics and focus on performance. As an SEO manager, I suggest you choose a beautiful yet lightweight theme. A good one must be well-developed with compressed codes because they improve the page load speed and user experience considerably.
Are you wondering how you can know if your WordPress theme is lightweight and has compressed codes? Here's how.
Visit the OceanWP website and pick one template. OceanWP offers some of the lightest and fastest WordPress themes available out there. Compared to its main competitors, GeneratePress and Astra, OceanWP themes are 40% cheaper, more beautiful, and easier to set up, even for beginners.
With OceanWP, you can import any website demo template with a single click (Ocean Extra for free demos or Ocean Pro Demos). Personally, I recommend the Ocean Pro Lifetime version for one site. You can save a lot of money!
Don't you like the OceanWP themes? You can visit ThemeForest, the largest marketplace with over 50,000 WordPress themes available. If you are a beginner, however, don't buy well-known or multipurpose themes such as Avada. They are heavy and sometimes difficult to configure and customise.
A theme I can recommend on ThemeForest is Newspaper. I've developed and managed a viral news blog using this theme for a few years. I can say it's exceptional. Newspaper is lightweight. You can configure the header, footer and sidebar with just a click and choosing among many available configurations. Last but not least, its developer provides an excellent support service.
How to install your theme on WordPress
If you purchased a theme from a developer outside the WordPress directory, you need to upload it before the installation. Doing that is easy. Just follow these simple instructions.
- Download the theme .zip file from the source onto your local computer.
- From your WordPress Administration area, head to Appearance > Themes and click Add New.
3. The Add New theme screen has a new option, Upload Theme.
4. The theme upload form is now open. Click Choose File, select the theme zip file on your computer, and click Install Now.
Once the theme is ready, proceed as follows. 1) Activate it from your admin panel, 2) select the Appearance tab and open the Themes directory, 3) locate the theme, and 4) click Activate.
Great! Your theme is now installed, and you can move on to the next step.
5. Install and Set Up Your WordPress Plugins
Plugins are an essential element of every WordPress site. But what is a WordPress plugin exactly?
A WordPress plugin is, essentially, a piece of code that “plugs” into your standalone WordPress site. More simply, a WordPress plugin is something that adds new WordPress functionality or extends the existing ones.
One of the benefits of WordPress is a large number of developers with thousands of WordPress plugins you can add to your site.
Plugins can do anything from minor tweaks to massive changes to your site. For example, some plugins can turn your WordPress site into a full-featured eCommerce store, social network or forum.
I don't know your specific needs. So, I will focus just on the main plugins everyone should install on a WordPress site.
How to install plugins on WordPress
Installing WordPress plugins is very simple. There are two different methods: one for free plugins and a slightly different one for premium plugins. To know more, read this simple yet excellent guide by Themeisle.
Caching plugins are extensions that allow your website to load pages faster and improve user experience. In short, each webpage you visit involves a request to the server, the processing by that server (including queries on the database), then the sending of a final result from the server to the user's browser.
What you get is your website, complete with all the files and elements that make it what it is. The server has to process all these requests. So, it takes some time before it delivers the complete webpage to the user.
The cache plugin improves page speed by instructing the server to store some files to Disk or RAM. Therefore, it can keep memory and duplicate the same content it served previously. As a result, web pages load much faster, straight from the cache.
If you've purchased your hosting plan on Chemicloud, as I suggested, your website runs on server Litespeed. In this case, the winning combination of caching plugins is Litespeed Cache and Autoptimize. I've tested all the caching plugins in the past. Well, there's nothing better than this combination. Even WP Rocket can't win the battle!
You can find both plugins in the WordPress directory. Just add and activate them.
Your website must be visible and receive organic traffic to get successful. For that, you need an SEO plugin that can optimise your website pages for search engines (SEO techniques). The two best WordPress SEO plugins are AIOSEO and Yoast SEO. They are both very complete and professional. I prefer AIOSEO because it's lighter than Yoast and the premium version is very powerful.
Visual Page Builder plugin
Visual page builders for WordPress are tools that help build websites in record time. Thanks to page builders, you can insert pre-built elements into pages, move them and immediately see how they are displayed.
Thanks to these tools, novice users can build pages and articles on their own by dragging items onto the pages (e.g. carousels, videos, images, columns, portfolios, product galleries, and much more).
The page builder I use and recommend is SiteOrigin. The reasons are always the same. It's the lightest in the category and the easiest to use.
Compared to its competitors, SiteOrigin is a less sophisticated solution and has limited customisation options. But the premium version offers excellent value for money while keeping the website light.
Here's what the page editor looks like with the various blocks.
6. Set Up Your Theme Layout and Brand Identity
After purchasing your hosting space, installing WordPress, the theme and plugins, you need to configure the theme and create your brand identity (logos, favicons, avatars, social covers, etc.) based on the type of business you intend to develop.
How to set up your WordPress theme
What's the best setting for your WordPress theme? There's no definitive answer. There are many factors to consider. It all depends on the type of your online business (blog, corporate website, e-commerce, landing page for coaches or teachers who sell online courses, etc.).
This is a wide subject that would need piles of books. So let's make things easier. Let me give you a piece of precious advice: identify your top 3 competitors as a reference, have a look at their websites and take the best from each of them.
Do you have some technical difficulties? Don't you have time to set up and customise your website by yourself? Go on Fiverr and search for an expert. You'll find hundreds of developers and web designers who can do it for you for a few dollars.
Do you have, instead, serious tech problems? Would you like to create a memorable blog/site? The right platform is Codeable. Here you can find the best WordPress developers in the world. Consider that only 2% of those who apply to be part of the platform pass the test.
Set up your brand identity
Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as colour, design, and logo. It identifies and distinguishes the brand in consumers' minds.
For an online business, brand identity refers to the logo, favicon, avatar, and social media covers. As for the covers, make sure they match your website design and colours. Consistency is essential when you want to convey the right message to your customers.
Aren't you a graphic designer? Delegate some tasks is normal and understandable. Fiverr can save your day again. Go there and contact some professionals. They will do all the hard work for you, and you have your logo or social media cover, based on your needs, for just $25/30.
7. Insert Google Analytics and Search Console Tracking Codes in Your Blog
To track visitors on your website and analyse benchmark data, you need to enter script codes on your website.
For this purpose, these two totally free Google analysis software can help you: Search Console and Analytics. For the installation and configuration, read Hootsuite's step-by-step guide on how to set up Google Analytics. This guide teaches you:
- how to connect Search Console to Analytics;
- how to insert them into Google Tag Manager – as a sort of “matryoshka”;
- how to copy-paste the script into the website.
That's the most professional approach ever.
Note: if you've installed the AIO SEO plugin, as per my advice, you can also enter the Google Tag Manager tracking ID (which has the form GTM-XXXXXX) in AIO SEO following two simple steps as explained HERE. You won't need to install the “Insert Headers and Footers” plugin, as stated in the Hootsuite guide. They are both valid methods, but my suggestion allows you to avoid installing an extra plugin.
8. Set Up Your Blog for Search Engines (SEO Practices)
A permalink is a “permanent hyperlink” to a specific web page. It's a URL consisting of the domain name of your site and the slug. It generally describes the content and represents the final part of the URL.
In this post, the domain name is
while the slug is
Permalinks are “permanent” in nature, but you can edit them if necessary. When you do it the right way, you get several benefits, such as more website traffic and better search engines ranking.
Warning! You must set the permalink structure when the blog/website is new. If you do it on a website that's been online for some time and has many posts/pages, I suggest you contact ClickSoul Media SEO Agency. In fact, changing the permalinks of a site already on the net implies advanced technical knowledge to avoid having 404 error pages and losing the pages positioning achieved up to that moment.
How to optimise your WordPress site's permalinks
The default structure used in WordPress is ?p=<postid>. In terms of SEO, this is certainly not the most effective.
In fact, it contains numbers that have no meaning and value for both the search engines (very attentive!) and users.
Are you still in the process of creating your WordPress site? Here's how you can easily select the proper permalink structure.
Log in to your Dashboard and go to Settings> Permalinks.
Select the /post-name/ structure. This is the most efficient of all.
Note: when you publish an article, you can remove unnecessary words from the slug directly from the right sidebar of WordPress (e.g. articles, conjunctions, and pronouns). In this way, you will shorten the URL without removing the keywords useful for the users and SEO.
Remember that a great slug is made up of three to five keywords.
Setting up the All-in-One SEO Pack on your WordPress site
Here, I will focus just on the main aspects of article optimization.
AIO is simple, intuitive and user-friendly. Even if you don't know how to use it, AIO will guide you through the whole optimisation process. As you can see on the image below, the Meta Title must be 60 characters long the max, while the Meta Description 160.
Note: if you don't enter any data in the relevant fields, AIO will automatically add tags and auto-fill these fields as set by default. For best results, I always recommend you fill in the fields manually.
A focus keyphrase is the main target keyword of your article. Although it can contain several words, don't exaggerate in length. For example, if your article talks about kids Nike shoes, your focus keyphrase would be “kids Nike shoes”.
AIO SEO indicates the level of page optimisation by assigning a score from 0 to 100 (you can see it on the right sidebar). When you optimise the meta title, meta description and focus keyphrase before writing the copy, you can check the score as you write the article in WordPress (or copy and paste it from word). This helps you a lot in drafting the titles and paragraphs in real-time.
This is my score at the time of writing this article.
As for keyword research and content writing on a professional level, I refer you to step n. 10.
9. Choose Your Email Marketing Software & Op-tin Forms
When you want to collect leads, either it's through a serious funnel or not, there are two fundamental tools you always must have at your disposal:
- an opt-in form to capture user emails, and
- an email marketing software for automatic replies and newsletter management.
OptinMonster is the # 1 most powerful conversion optimization toolkit in the world. It provides you with over 100 templates you can easily modify with a drag and drop builder and place everywhere within your blog. It also offers campaigns segmentation based on the target audience, A/B tests, and data analytics for real-time results tracking.
You can use opt-in forms in infinite ways for all types of businesses and in any sector. For instance, you can offer a free guide on your blog, a free exercise on your coaching website, direct discounts to the customers on your e-commerce platform. Examples can be countless, and it's up to your strategy and creativity.
Once you installed OptinMonster, you need to connect it to Constant Contact, the email management software. Constant Contact lets you create, schedule and send personalised email marketing campaigns to each type of user. That's the best way to optimise your time and make your conversions explode!
Would you like comprehensive knowledge and max results? Print and read all the Constant Contact PDF guides.
10. Create Pillar Content for Your Blog
Once you have all installed and set, it's time to start nurturing your blog and make it ready for monetisation with content. It's time you start writing your first articles that will make the pillars of your blog.
As you are a digital entrepreneur and professional, I'm sure you have a lot of ideas. But avoid this mistake: never make them “random”, but choose your topics very carefully.
Here are the three steps to learn how to write good articles and blog posts that will show up on the first page of Google.
1. Find the topics with great interest
To search for the topics and keywords with great interest, you can use Semrush's Topic research and Keyword research. With these powerful tools, you will find, in minutes, the best topics and keywords for your content.
2. Write interesting and valuable content
Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Would you like to position your web pages on the top positions of search engines? You must write compelling and valuable articles. Your content should also contain, when possible, related images, screenshots, and infographics.
I use a pretty simple method. I take my three main competitors as a reference for the same topic. Then, I try doing better than them. I suggest you do the same: write articles with added value for users. Once you finished, read them carefully and ask yourself: ” if I was a user, would I find this article interesting?”
How can you write a good SEO article? You can use Surfer, an excellent SEO software that works with any language. It features a powerful content editor capable of analysing your article in real-time and assigning a content score.
Another fundamental aspect is the content length. Your articles must be at least 2,000 words long or more.
In fact, according to studies conducted by SerpIQ, 2,450 words is the sweet spot.
In September 2016, Backlinko released its own research on that matter. They found that the ideal word count dropped a little bit: “the average word count of a Google first page result was 1,890 words.”
Another study by MOZ discovered that 3,000 to 10,000 word content receives far more social media shares than shorter articles.
In short, there is no doubt. Long content is much more likely to get in the top positions of Google and receive more shares on social networks.
3. Check and correct your texts with Grammarly
Contents full of typos, grammar errors, and hard-to-read sentences are wrong for SEO. On the other hands, readers are still human. They are always in a hurry, they tend to judge quickly, and they are fickle and might never come back again to your website. This kind of content gives a bad user experience that will lead Google to penalise your web page because worthless and not credible.
So, always check your article carefully: 1) read it loudly, 2) ask someone else to read it, and 3) use online proofreading and a spell-check tool such as Grammarly. This is a powerful tool that checks grammar, punctuation, and syntax in real-time. It's useful for non-native English speakers who need quick automatic support.
Grammarly works with four English accents (British, American, Canadian, and Australian). It makes corrections directly in Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft Office, and many other media.
Furthermore, Grammarly offers many more additional features, especially with the Premium and Business version: 1) suggestions, 2) definitions and synonyms, 3) phrasal predictions., 4) tone adjustments, 5) formality level, 6) fluency, 7) plagiarism detection, 8) style guide, and more.
11. Insert Affiliate Links and Display Advertising
We've finally reached the topic you all were waiting for: how to monetise your site/blog.
There are five ways to make money with a blog or website.
- Display advertising
- Sale of services/consultancy
- Private membership areas
- Product sales (e-commerce)
Let's start with the first two website monetisation methods. I analysed the other three ways in the last paragraph about “sales funnel”.
You can find display advertisements on almost every website and social media. They come in many formats, such as push notifications, pop-unders, interstitials, banners, and native advertising.
The most used revenue system is the cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
The best display advertising company is Google Adsense, with millions of advertisers in all sectors. But if you are looking for an alternative with a higher CPM for publishers, I recommend Adcash. And if you run a viral blog or news magazine, Adcash's Native ads is your best choice.
Native ads are a form of online advertising that takes the appearance of your website content and generate interest in the users. In such a way, native ads replicate the same user experience created by your own content. They become part of it and amplify its meaning. Native ads don't interrupt the users' activity. On the contrary, they increase the attention.
Native ads have a better conversion rate. They appear mainly at the end of an article, instead of the “related posts”.
Display ads average CPM is $1,00. So, unless you have millions of views per month, you need more ways of monetisation. That's why most bloggers and marketers use affiliation programmes to make additional money.
In short, affiliations are “business agreements” between you and the companies for which you intend to promote their products/services on your blog in exchange for a commission.
While display advertising pays for impressions, affiliations pay you a commission every time a user clicks on the link and purchases the product/service. That's the most popular methods of payment of affiliation programmes: CPA – cost per acquisition. But other programs may pay per lead (CPL) for free registrations or through Revshare (revenue sharing).
Affiliate programmes CPA can go from 2% all the way up to 70%, depending on the industry and category. E-commerce physical products can earn you from 2% to 10% commission. You will rarely get more than that (for instance, Amazon average commission is 4%). SaaS (Software as a service) companies, selling software or digital services, usually pay much more.
Which affiliate programme is better for you is hard to tell in advance as it depends on your business industry and knowledge. So, consider your sector and research the perfect programme for your specific case.
In essence, affiliations pay much more than display ads. But it's more difficult to promote them. As a blogger or marketer, you need a certain level of credibility and influence to gain users' trust and lead them to click your affiliate links.
Display advertising and affiliations work differently. While display ads generate profit on the number of visitors, affiliate programmes pay on quality. That's why all bloggers and marketers use both of them to monetise their blog/website.
12. Open Social Media Accounts and Start Building Relationships
Social signals (unpaid posts) statistically account for only 5-7% of organic traffic. Despite that, they are still important. So, I strongly suggest you use them for your online business. Here's why.
Social media posts can increase your website traffic. But they also help you build relationships with other bloggers and marketers to carry on link building activities (read the next paragraph).
The social media platform to use depends on your business and inclination. Every situation is different. Let's take as an example the travel blogger category. Jackson Groves of Journey Era uses just Instagram. Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt uses all five major social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube).
To discover the best social media for you, read the excellent Social Media MOZ guide full of tips and infographics.
But there's another aspect you should consider: your time availability. In fact, managing 4 to 5 social media professionally and simultaneously is very time-consuming. Therefore, you need something that can help you optimise your time. The solution is SocialPilot.
SocialPilot is the most complete and powerful tool to manage nine social accounts simultaneously on a single platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, TikTok, VK, LinkedIn, and Google My Business).
- It finds high-performing and searchable video topics.
- It crafts the perfect titles and tags using keyword explorer.
- It runs A/B testing to discover which video convert the most.
Last but not least, use LinkedIn. It was born as a professional portal for job search. But it's now evolved and became a real social media platform with all its characteristics and values. How can LinkedIn help you? It's vital for your link building strategy.
13. Perform Ongoing Guest Post Outreach and Link Building
Link building is the SEO technique that statistically drives more organic traffic to your website. 39% of all traffic comes from link building. When done right, it can rank your website high and then generates hundreds of thousands of visits.
In practice, you need to obtain a lot of high-quality backlinks to your website. Although Google denied any correlation between this and ranking, link building seems to be very effective.
For more information on this topic, the best book you should read now is the Ultimate Guide to Link Building.
So, what is link building exactly and how to do that the right way?
Link building consists of establishing relationships with other bloggers and marketers and then get a link from their site to yours (backlinks) through guest posts.
Here are three recommendations for quality link building:
- Use LinkedIn as a tool to build relationships with bloggers and marketers. Prepare a Pro-forma message and send it to them after you get connected.
- Choose the websites for your guest posts carefully. They must have a MOZ Domain Authority (DA) and a minimum Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) of 35. The score can range from 0 to 100.
- Use only the technique of publishing guest posts. Avoid putting your links in the comments of blogs, forums or directories. They are low-quality activities with little impact on the ranking.
14. Master Your Blog’s Sales Funnel
If you monetise your website only through display ads and affiliations, you may not need it. But a sales funnel is essential when you sell products and services online (digital downloads, online courses, guides, private memberships, etc.). Sales funnels are an effective way to increase sales and earn a decent income.
So, do you sell physical and digital products and services online? Start reading again from step 12 until the end of this article. You'll learn how to build powerful high-converting sales funnels.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Sales funnel is a 5-step strategy that goes from lead generation (users contact acquisition) to conversion (product/service sales).
It takes the term “funnel” because many people enter the first step, and just a few actually reach the final one (purchasing).
When used correctly, newsletters are a kind of sales funnel (at least part of it).
Understanding the Sales Funnel Stages
Sales funnel can vary from business to business. But you can always identify four stages: Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action (AIDA). They represent your prospective customers' mindset.
Here's a brief description.
- Awareness stage: the potential buyers become aware of your product or company. They learn about you through advertising, social media, word of mouth, and so on.
- Interest stage: the potential customers show interest by conducting product research.
- Decision stage: the potential customers review the competitors' solutions and approach the final purchase decision.
- Action stage: the potential customers make the final decision and buy your product or service.
A practical example of a sales funnel
Let's say you are a travel blogger and want to sell a South Africa travel guide. You know your audiences are both men and women ranging from 30 to 50 years old.
- Awareness: you create a Facebook ad to funnel people to your website.
- Interest: you offer something of value (e.g. a free guide) in exchange for lead capture.
- Decision: your content informs your audience and prepares them for a purchase.
- Action: you offer a discount coupon to your leads so they can't resist buying your South Africa travel guide.
How to build a sales funnel
Step 1: Analyse Your Audience’s Behavior
Sign up for a Crazy Egg account and start creating Snapshots. Crazy Egg will create heatmaps, scroll maps, clicks, and other user behaviour visual reports. They will help you monitor users activity on your site and figure out how people engage with it.
Step 2: Capture Your Audience’s Attention
Sales funnel works only if you can attract people into it. It means putting your content in front of your target audience.
To do that, take the organic route and post tons of content across all of your platforms. Diversify with infographics, videos, and other types of content.
If you’re willing to spend more cash, run a few ads. The ideal place to run them depends on where your target audience hangs out. For a B2C business, Facebook ads could be a good solution. For a B2B business, LinkedIn ads might be the right path.
Step 3: Build a Landing Page
Your ads or other content must take your prospects somewhere. Ideally, you want to direct them to a landing page with a can’t-miss offer
Would you like to build a beautiful landing page? Use LeadPages. To know more about how it can help you, watch this demo video or join the dozens of free webinars the company created for you. Alternatively, you can practice using LeadPages free 14-day trial!
Step 4: Create an Email Drip Campaign
Market your product/service to your leads by providing them with great content through email. Do so regularly, but not too frequently. One or two emails per week should suffice.
Step 5: Keep in Touch
Remember your existing customers and continue reaching out to them. Thank them for their purchases, offer additional coupon codes, and involve them in your social media sphere.
Starting a blog and making money online is possible. If you are still a beginner, don't worry. Most successful bloggers (including me) started their online business knowing almost nothing. But they learned many things along the way. And they became successful learning from their mistakes.
I'd like to give you to tips.
- Don't skip any step. You might have the best idea and website in the world, but a single step done wrong can ruin all the work you've already carried out.
- Most people don't want to spend any money. So they tend to use only free tools. Of course, some of them are great but have some limitations. Therefore, I suggest you use just 2 or 3 of them. To become a successful blogger and digital entrepreneur, you need the advanced features only premium tools and services can provide.
Success doesn't come from knowing how to save money, but from knowing how to invest well!
My guide to blogging comes from over 12 years of experience in web marketing. Through it, I'd like to put all my learning at your disposal so that you can take advantage of it. This free guide suggests all the necessary steps and best tools to start an online blog business and lead it to success.
Best Online Business Tools
Develop your business successfully with the best online tools. Discover them all, organised by category and use case: email marketing management, landing page building, podcasts management, webinar hosting, social media management, SEO improvement, sales funnel building, and much more.
I wish you all the best!