Becoming a blogger is a horrible idea and you would do well to just forget about it because it will only lead to pain and misery. ESPECIALLY don’t blog about traveling.
That would be stupid...
Now that I’ve successfully uninspired possible competitors, let me tell you honestly that if you love writing and love any other thing, then writing about that other thing might be an awesome money-maker for you!
This article is going to take a quick and dirty, "everything you need to know" approach to helping you figure out how to become a successful blogger!
What You Need to Become a Successful Blogger:
- A website
- A topic to write about
- A lot of original content on your topic
- A monetization strategy (a way to make money)
Getting a Website
While getting a website becomes easier every day, for the non-tech savvy among you this will likely be the most intimidating part of becoming a successful blogger (I believe in you!).
Picking a Content Management System
The first step to building a website the absolute simplest way possible is to pick a "content management system" (CMS for short). CMS’ are free and easy to use (with a little online training) website builders that give you everything you need to make a robust blog that's every bit as gorgeous as the one you're looking at right now ;).
So which CMS is right for you? There are three widely used ones to pick from: WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet and often seen as the easiest one to get started with.
The downside to WordPress used to be that its simplicity made it so it was the least flexible platform. Over the years though, WordPress has received a lot of updates and is now capable of doing anything you want it to do!
What initially confused me about WordPress years ago (and why it didn't end up being the CMS I got started with) is that when I ran a Google search on it, I was presented with pricing options which made me think that WordPress costed money. As it turned out though, WordPress has a ".com" and a ".org" website. Simply put, the .org site offers free WordPress tools and a more "do it yourself" approach while the .com offers paid tools that are more streamlined.
The link I've provided for WordPress is to the .org site since I'm a pay less, do it yourself kind of guy.
Joomla! is an good CMS that has been called an excellent middle ground between WordPress and Drupal (more on Drupal next). Joomla! is the CMS I got started with and F*ckity bye is proudly powered by it!
If you like what you see here and are interested in learning what Joomla! can do for you, feel free to check it out. The support community for the platform is excellent and I can actually answer questions if you run into snags while using it.
Drupal is… I’ll be honest, I don’t have any experience using Drupal. When I originally started my education in web development, this CMS was pitched to me as the most flexible but also the most difficult to use by far. Me being someone that tends to stray away from any option presented to me as the "most difficult to use by far", I decided to focus my efforts elsewhere.
That’s not to say that you should follow in my difficulty-averse footsteps though. If you’re up for a challenge, you can check out Drupal but just know that some coding knowledge might be helpful.
Learning How to Use Your Content Management System
Once you’ve checked out these three CMS’ and have decided which one you’d like to try your hand at, it’s time to dive in and start learning how to use your system of choice!
Learning something new can get discouraging and I speak from experience when I say I’ve banged my head on my desk a great many times in response to CMS-related frustrations. As with all things though, if you apply yourself and take it slow, you’ll become a master in no time!
If you're looking for a shortcut for your content management system mastery, my favorite resource for learning all technology, business, and most creative related skills is Lynda.com.
Lynda.com has fast-forwarded my tech-savviness light years ahead of what even my college degree in multimedia afforded me. They have incredibly intuitive A-Z courses on just about everything CMS related and offer the quickest way to become an expert on any platform!
The downside to Lynda.com is that it’s a paid service… for most.
If you’re in college then a lot of schools offer you free access with tuition. If you’re not college then there’s also a good chance that your local library offers free access to cardholders. Snoop around and see if you can get yourself free access or otherwise, get their free trial and speed through one of their CMS courses at no charge before your trial period is up.
If Lynda is not for you and you're looking for "no-strings-attached" help on how to use your CMS, a simple Google search of “Getting started with [your CMS' name]” should send you on your way to free video tutorials and blog posts on the subject.
Domains and Web Hosts
After you're all taken care of on the CMS front, the next thing you'll need to look at to figure out how to become a successful blogger is getting a domain name for your blog and a web host.
A domain is your web address: "www.my-web-address-example.com". You’ll need to pick your domain name and buy it before launching your website.
There are a lot of companies that sell domains and every one of them seems to have some loud deal like "BUY A .COM DOMAIN FOR ONLY $0.99!".
Be careful with deals like that since you’ll usually pay $0.99 for the first year and then the domain seller will over-charge you by 1000% to keep your domain with them when it's time to renew.
The best place to buy a domain name, in my opinion, is namecheap.com. It's an honest company with straightforward pricing.
When picking the domain name for your blog, keep your name short and easy to type into a search bar.
After you have your domain name, it will be time to pick a web host.
Metaphorically speaking, web hosts provide a house in cyberspace where your website will live.
So, when people go to your website by typing in its address/domain name into their search bar, that address will take them to your website’s house/web host where they can then access all of your awesome content.
The place where you buy your domain name will always offer web hosting services as well.
While it’s easy to do all your business in one place, something you need to be aware of is that not all houses in cyberspace are built equally… some are pretty ghetto. What that means in non-confusing metaphor speak is that some web hosts will make it so your website runs slow, some web hosts will have annoying pricing schemes, some web hosts are constantly crashing and taking your website down with it, etc.
For that reason, really do your research when it comes to picking a web host. I used "Host Metro" as my web host for a while but didn't like how slow their servers were. I then switched to "Host Gator" which I recommend you try out!
Final Notes on Getting a Website
Once you have a CMS, a domain name and a web host, you'll simply associate your domain name with your web host (attach your website's address to your website's house), install your CMS on your web host, and build your website through your CMS.
Don't worry if that didn't make a lot of sense. All of this should be covered in whatever CMS training you choose to undertake.
Picking a Topic to Write About
Now that we got all of that technical mumbo-jumbo out of the way, the next (and most fun) step to becoming a successful blogger is to pick a topic you’d like to blog about!
There are two methods people use to figure out their topic:
The Passion Method
Write down every topic you might be interested in blogging about and once you've come up with a handful potentials, ask yourself, “Which one of these topics could I see myself having the most fun writing 50, 500-word or longer articles on?”.
Once you have your answer you have your topic!
The Profit Method
This method is the harder of the two by far. The question you want to ask yourself here is, “Which topic fills the biggest unmet need on the internet?” meaning what topic do a lot of people want to read about online that doesn’t have a quality blog already dedicated to it. You also need to ask yourself, "Out of those unmet need topics, which ones have readers who would be willing to spend the most money on products and services?"
The process of answering those questions is referred to as "finding a profitable niche".
Comprehensive resources on finding a profitable niches exist all over the internet so Google, “how to find a profitable niche to blog about” to get started with that.
Final Notes on Picking a Topic to Write About
It's worth your time to consider both methods of finding a good blog topic. Still, my recommendation if you’re just starting out blogging is to go with the Passion Method.
Most people working on their first blogging venture will quit before their website launches because of the amount of work required to get it off the ground. The best way to buck that trend is to put your effort into a topic that excites you, even if it doesn't represent the biggest profit opportunity.
Through your experience working with a topic you're passionate about, I promise that you'll slowly come up with ways to improve your blog and incorporate profit strategies into it that will transform it into a money-maker if that's what you want!
Create Original Content on Your Topic
Once you have a topic and a website to upload blog content to, it’s time to crack the whip on those poor little fingers of yours and start writing stuff!
You should expect to write 50, 500-word or longer quality articles before hoping to find any success with your blog. That figure is pretty arbitrary and I’m not saying you should wait until you have that much content before launching your blog (launch your blog ASAP).
A lot of people create a blog though, wonder why they’re not getting traffic, and quit before they’ve published a significant amount of content.
Remember, the more quality content you have, the higher chance search engines will match people to your blog posts, and the more successful you’ll be.
I know, I know. "Everything you write sucks, you’re not good enough, and your mom should have fed you to the dog when you were an infant".
Now that you’ve gotten all your negative self-talk out of the way, know that nothing is perfect and everything you’ve ever read and enjoyed is a byproduct of writing, publishing, and re-writing (and re-writing, and re-writing).
Your content doesn't need to be flawless the first time you publish it or ever for that matter. Just get your ideas written and online as soon as possible. Then, be prepared to make revisions!
On a final note, if you're looking to really master writing for the web from a format and style perspective, you should read and study the format of successful blogs online and pick up a copy of The Yahoo Style Guide.
Implementing Monetization Strategies
A lot of people blog because they’re passionate about the material they’re writing about. That’s good… But let’s face it:
Blogging a heck of a lot better if all that passion is getting you ALL DAT' PAPER!!! (like money… I’m sorry).
Here are three common ways people monetize their blogs:
Affiliate links are where you link your blog readers to relevant products on another website for a commission.
For example, if I told you to buy this sexy waterproof fanny pack (I do seriously love this fanny pack and never travel anywhere without it) and you clicked on the link and bought it – I’d get a percentage of that sale.
Amazon has a good affiliate program called “Amazon Associates” you can sign up for which enables you to turn any product on their site into an affiliate link you can promote on your blog.
That’s not to say that only big companies like Amazon have affiliate programs! If you find a smaller company that offers products that are highly relevant to your readers, dig around their website to see if they have affiliate opportunities.
It’s common that smaller companies have affiliate programs they don’t openly advertise and it may be that their products even offer higher commissions then what you would get through a larger company's affiliate program. If a company you’re interested in being an affiliate for doesn't advertise a program, send them an email and ask if they have a private program you can be a part of.
You know how this goes... You’re on a website and you see a bunch of little squares trying to sell you different things.
Many websites rely on those little squares or "advertisements" to make money and you can get in on that fun too.
The most streamlined way to start running ads on your blog is to sign up with Google AdSense. After signing up, Google will review your application and if approved, will allow you to put a small block of code on your blog that will then automatically serve ads to your readers. When a user clicks on an ad, you get a commission.
Google can be finicky about what websites they approve for their ads so don’t be surprised if they reject you the first few (hundred) times you apply. Be sure to read their guidelines for ad partners and have at least 20 articles published prior to applying. If you’re having a lot of trouble getting approved by them, Google search “AdSense alternatives” and try to find another agency to pair up with.
Another way to get ads on your site is to go out to companies directly and offer them the opportunity to serve their ads on your blog without a middleman (like Google AdSense).
For example, you can email a company's marketing team, let them know about your blog’s audience and why you feel it’s a good match for their product and then try to sell them real-estate on your blog (a banner for example) where they can run ads on a monthly basis.
Selling Original products
If you’re blogging about cooking and have a custom spatula, pan, branded egg timer, etc. you’d like to sell - do it!
This can be a huge revenue driver for you. It doesn’t even need to be a physical product that you sell!
Maybe you'll write a digital e-book that expands on your website’s content or offer private consultations where people can pay to have you contact them via Skype and walk them through the skills you’re teaching.
Anything you can think of that aligns with your blog’s content and that you can sell as a product or service should be something you consider.
Bottom line - Selling a product or service through your blog is often the difference between making okay money blogging and getting filthy rich. So, start brainstorming products and get selling!
Wrapping Up How to Become a Successful Blogger
If you follow my how to become a successful blogger tips above, you'll have a working blog with awesome content and ways for that content to make you money in place. All you'll need now is to continue publishing content on a regular schedule and to market your blog like crazy (which could easily be a whole additional post on its own).
If for any reason you need help making sense out of this how to become a successful blogger information, you can always drop me a comment in the box below or shoot me an email for help.
The world looks forward to reading your awesome blog posts!
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