One of the biggest hurdles in turning your dream in a reality is just getting started, right? It’s fun to plan and scheme and brainstorm, but all of that is wasted if you never actually start. So, today, I’m walking you through that big roadblock so you can start moving forward with your big goals and finally make them real!
This tutorial works whether you’re starting a blog or website, and heads up, I am going to recommend that even if you are just starting a website for your business, you should absolutely have a blog portion on your site. With a blog, you’ll be able to easily create relevant content for your audience that drives traffic to your site for years to come.
Yes, it’s a little more work each month, but in the long run it makes growing your business easier because you’ve got a stream of fresh content that will send you a lot more organic traffic than if you didn’t. Trust me here!
How to Launch a Successful Blog or Website in 10 Easy Steps
Step 1: Find your Niche
First thing’s first, you must find your niche! Whether you’re blogging or starting a business, you need to know exactly who you are talking to. Who are they? How can you help them? Where are they in their lives? Your content or product or service should focus on solving their problems and relieving their pain points. The more you can serve people and help them in the journey, the more successful you will become.
Step 2: Pick a Platform
Whether you’re starting a blog or business, I believe that you should start a blog with WordPress is your best bet. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used as website or blog, or both. And, since I’ve already told you that even businesses need a blog, this should make this step pretty easy!
It’s very easy to use and is set up for SEO out of the box! There is a little bit of a learning curve like any platform, but it’s straightforward and as you grow, this is where you’ll want to be, so just do yourself a favor and start there—less work down the line.
You have lots of options for hosting, so before you go sign up for anything, read the next part!
Step 3: Get Web Hosting
There are a bunch of hosting options out there, and I have a few that I recommend. Both I have used personally and only have good things to say about!
If you are just getting started and don’t want to spend a lot, Bluehost is your best option. It’s incredibly affordable, they give you a free domain name when you sign up and they offer one-click WordPress installation, so you simply fill out a few things and your site is ready in a matter of minutes.
Bluehost is the hosting platform I started on and used for years, eventually as my site traffic and size grew, I outgrew this hosting and moved over to WPEngine with Showit (more on this in a second!).
It’s much more affordable because you are sharing server space with other websites. While your traffic is lower, this is not a big deal, but as it grows, you may eventually outgrow this type of hosting. The good news is that you can switch hosts at a later date pretty easily.
It’s definitely more of an investment, but still very affordable (you can checkout WPEngine pricing here)! From my personal experience, it’s a much better customer experience.
Here you have managed hosting vs. shared hosting. You get a bunch of other perks like:
- 24/7 support
- 10 premium themes
- Free automated migrations
- Daily backups
- Free SSL and SSH
- One-click staging site
Often, you’ll have to pay extra for these things on a shared hosting account, but with a managed account, they’re already included, so there’s another perk for going the managed hosting route. The customer service is also infinitely better!
Lastly, this is what I use! If you choose to use Showit for your blogging platform, it’s powered by WP Engine and WordPress. After years of using WordPress on its own, I switched to Showit because of the design flexibility. I’m a web designer and this drag and drop platform has allowed to finally create exactly what I envisioned without code, and it’s powered by WordPress, so you get all the blogging goodness as well.
Your hosting is set-up with Showit and powered by WPEngine, so you will have no need to set up a WPEngine account as well. It’s all handled behind the scenes by Showit. They’ll also handle a WordPress migration if you’re currently on another host.
Showit’s customer service is the BEST I have encountered and is yet another reason, this one is my top recommendation! Design, functionality and customer service all in one spot!
To Wrap It Up
From my experience, the customer support is infinitely better on managed hosting accounts and overall has been a great experience as my site has grown. You can always start on Bluehost and move your site over later. I also love WPEngine in particular because they partner with my favorite design platform, Showit.
My site is built on Showit and used WPEngine for hosting. I love that I get the design flexibility and creativity from Showit, and the blogging power of WordPress all in one!
With all these options you will have the ability to purchase a premium theme if a free one isn’t doing it for you.
Pick a Domain Name
If you already have one, you can use that, if not, you can get a domain name as well—I recommend Google Domains, Bluehost or GoDaddy. Make sure to get the WHOIS privacy option because it will keep your personal information private.
Step 4: Pick a Design or Theme
Depending on whether you are using WordPress or Showit with WordPress, here are my favorite places to browse for designs.
Step 5: Customize Your Design
Before you launch, you’ll want to make sure you’ve customized your design to fit your aesthetics and suit blog niche. Every theme is different, so make sure to read the instructions on how to customize it. Usually the designer has created a document or video that walks you through customizing it. Some designs might be nearly done for you and all you have to do is swap out copy, images and links!
A few design tips:
- Stick with 3-4 fonts max, make sure they are easy to read!
- Don’t go crazy with colors. At the end of the day, you want your content to stand out, use color to highlight your content, not distract from it.
- White Space is good: it makes the page flow and feel less stuffy
- Use professional imagery—hire someone to take photos for you, or use free stock photos from UnSplash.com
Add and customize all of the pages you need and make it live to the world!
Step 6: Brainstorm Blog Topics
Now that your static pags (think Homepage, About, Contact, Services, Portfolio, etc.) are complete, it’s time to start brainstorming content for your blog. Your blog will be the thing that drives traffic to your site, so don’t overlook this step. With each post, ask yourself, “how can this help solve my niche’s problems?”
Your main goal should be serving your audience, helping them with a problem they have and providing the solution. If you’re sitting there thinking, but I don’t want to give away all my information for free! I feel ya, and you don’t have to, but you still need to provide a lot of value.
The more value you provide upfront, the more likely your audience is to purchase a product or service from you down the line because they trust you! You’ve already proven that you’re capable of helping, so whatever you’re offering as a paid service is going to be top-notch!
I like to use AirTable to brain dump my blog post ideas. Then I’ll go back and add keywords, work on more enticing blog post titles before I write the post.
Step 7: Write your First Post
Now that you’ve got a list, it’s time to write your first post! It can be hard to decide what to start with, but the reality, is that when you first start, your audience will be small, so just start writing and solving problems. You can always republish a popular article as your audience grows.
Make sure you do some keyword research to help your post with ranking, this article below will help!
Write a catchy headline that grabs people’s attention and also tells them exactly what your post is about. Gone are the days of mysterious captions—people want to know exactly what’s in that post! Plus, a well-written headline is better for SEO than something silly.
Step 8: Create an Editorial Calendar
Now that you have all those amazing post ideas, let’s build out an editorial calendar. One of the biggest things that makes bloggers fail, is not posting consistently. Instead of trying to post everyday, choose a cadence that you can actually stick to. Whether that’s once a week or once a month, it doesn’t matter, but stick to it!
An editorial calendar will help you plan and keep on target. These little goals are what helps you get to your big goal. So write it down, treat it like a doctor’s appointment and don’t miss it! If sitting down to write once a week isn’t working for you, set a day to batch write content for the whole month. I find that this works better for me, because once I’m in the zone, I can work quickly and effectively.
In your editorial calendar, include a column for the post idea, the headline, keywords, notes and any affiliate links or products you plan to highlight within there. Sometimes I’ll jot down my main points so I don’t forget them once it comes time to write.
If you’re just getting started, I think posting once a week is a good place to start. Once a month and you won’t build traffic that fast. But, once a week will get more content and keywords out there driving traffic to your site faster.
But, more isn’t always better. I used to write 5 posts a week, and they were typically short and not of much substance. Now, I write once a week and my posts are well-researched, in-depth and really helpful. These posts take longer to write, but they have a much longer lifespan than my quick posts with iPhone photos.
Quality over quantity, friends!
Step 9: Start an Email List
Social media is a great place to share your business, but it’s not the end all be-all. This is an absolute must for all of you starting a blog or business—build your email list from the start!
This list will end up being your best asset because you own it! The people that sign-up for your list are your biggest, most loyal fans and are more likely to purchase something from you than an Instagram follower would be.
My recommendation is Flodesk (get 50% off with my link!). It’s easy to use, has beautiful templates, pretty sign-up forms and is so intuitive!
Step 10: Start Monetizing
I used to think I needed to wait before monetizing, but it’s just not true! So, if you’re wondering how to start a blog and make money, this section is for you!
You can start monetizing from the very beginning. The most common ways to monetize your content online:
- affiliate networks and programs
- ad networks (usually you need 10,000 visitors/month to apply)
- partnerships, this can take time if you’re just getting started
- selling your own products (digital/physical) or services
You can sign up for some affiliate networks and start promoting those immediately, as well as selling your own products or services. Most ad networks require you to reach a certain traffic threshold before applying—more motivation to get that content written and out in the world!
Partnerships may come later as brands typically want to see that you have an engaged audience before they pay you, which is totally understandable.
One thing I really want to everyone to consider is that product or services section. What I love about this is that it’s all you! It can literally be anything—eBooks, guides, courses, 1:1 calls or coaching, group programs, physical products, your services, etc! Get creative!
My suggestion? Try new things—you never know when you’ll stumble across something that does really well and that you really enjoy! The thing I love about digital products, is there’s not a lot of start-up cost, usually the biggest investment is your personal time.
This free guide and checklist is designed for blogs, but will also be super helpful for anyone starting a business website as well! Get it for free here and finally take that big jump to make your dream a reality!