How to Start a Successful Blog: The Ultimate Guide

How to start a blog

Starting a blog (and website) is a great way to grow your online audience.

This guide will show you exactly how to start your own blog from scratch.

While covering beginner mistakes...

...and providing solutions so your blog is started on the path to success.

Sound good?

Let's get started:

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Introduction - Should You Start a Blog?

Today you're going to learn:

How to launch your own successful blog from scratch.

In ONLY 3 simple steps.

In fact:

These are the same steps I used to create a blog that generates over $10,106 per month.

Aaron Ward blog income example of $10,106.24

You can apply these same steps to launching your own successful and profitable blog today.

Awesome right?!

Bloggers like Pat Flynn used the same steps to create his blog that makes over $100,000 per month.

Pat Flynn's blog income reports

Here's the kicker though:

I don't want you wasting your time.

Because...

...well...

...blogging isn't cut out for everyone.

In full transparency:

Creating a blog is really fun and a great way to learn about online marketing and develop valuable skills all while making an impactful and fulfilling business.

However:

Creating a blog IS NOT going to be some overnight, week or even a few months $0 to $10,000 success.

It can take years to achieve this type of income.

For example:

It took my blog 2 years to pass $1,000 in monthly revenue.

Aaron Ward's blog income over time

The same concept applies for extremely successful bloggers.

For example:

It took Ben and Jeff, who run BreakingTheOnePercent.com, a WHOLE YEAR before they made $1,000 in a month.

Breakingtheonepercent's blog revenue over time
Credit: Breaking The One Percent's revenue over time

This is their blogs revenue growth broken down:

  • Blog Launch: February 2015: $0
  • March 2015: $0
  • April 2015: $0
  • May 2015: $0
  • June 2015: $0
  • July 2015: $0
  • August 2015: $0
  • September 2015: $0
  • October 2015: $0
  • November 2015: $0
  • December 2015: $0
  • January 2016: $0
  • February 2016: $0
  • March 2016: $0
  • April 2016: $0
  • First Income: May 2016: $0.29
  • June 2016: $17
  • July 2016: $29
  • August 2016: $1,162
  • September 2016: $1,082
  • October 2016: $723
  • November 2016: $929
  • First $1,000: December 2016: $1,744

And this is the reality of how most blogs work.

Profitable blogs = time, dedication and commitment to the process.

Don't let this discourage you though.

If you follow this guide, you can achieve this and get there quicker as it's designed to help you avoid very common beginner mistakes.

At the end of the day:

Blogging is NOT for the lazy-minded, you will need to put in the work and time just like everyone else who is now a successful blogger.

Blog launch success is 92.5% for motivated entrepreneurs

Are You Ready to Launch Your Blog?

If you've never made a blog (or website) before...

...or already have a blog but find it's not working out.

This guide is going to be perfect for you.

Because:

You will discover the 3 steps you need to use, which GUARANTEE that your blog will be successful, impactful and profitable.

Let's get started:

Foundations: The Big Picture of Launching a Successful Blog

In this chapter:

You'll be introduced to the 3 steps to launching your blog from scratch.

The 3 steps to launching a successful blog are simple

When it's all said and done:

Creating a blog is easy.

I'm here to make sure you start on the right path, so that you set up a blog with the correct foundations in place.

So that when it comes time for you to create content, grow your blog traffic and even monetize your blog...

...it's going to work and be easy for you.

Step 1 - Pick Your Blogs Niche

Step 2 - Pick your domain name and register it

Step 3 - Create your website using a builder

Step #1

Step 1: Finding a Profitable Niche for Your Blog

Already have a business?

If you are making a blog for your current business or already have an audience on another platform, such as YouTube...

Your niche will be what you have built your business around.

For example:

If you sell car wrapping services your blogs niche would be Car Wrapping.

Feel free to skip this section if you already have a niche.

For this step your going to find a niche that is:

  1. Good (people are interested in it)
  2. And Profitable

The niche you pick will be what your blog is focused on.

Here's the thing:

Your blog is a tool to help your audience with their problems.

You help people through creating content (blog posts) such as:

  • Written guides
  • Sharing tips or case studies
  • Video tutorials
  • And so on...

So firstly:

What is a Niche?

A niche is simply the topic your blog is focused on.

In other words:

It is "a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service."

For example:

A specialized segment of Interior Design would be Interior Design for Small Apartments.

For example, Living in a shoebox blogs about Small Apartments AND they don't go off-topic. Their content ONLY talks about Small Apartment related things because that is their niche:

Living in a shoebox blogs about interior design for small appartments

So the niche that you pick for your blog...

...needs to be something your confident with, as you will need to create content for your blog that is focused around the topic.

Keep this in mind when picking a niche.

What Great Niches Have in Common

A profitable niche consists of 3 things:

  • It's a topic you're interested in
  • You already have skills and knowledge in the topic
  • It's evergreen (always relevant and not a trend)

More importantly:

A great blog is created for a very specific audience.

This means the niche you pick SHOULD NOT be broad.

You want to go sub-niche.

A sub-niche is simply a smaller segment of the market. So for example weight loss is a big, general, market rather than a niche. Weight loss for women is more niche but still quite broad. Weight loss for women who've recently given birth is a sub-niche. — Nichehacks.com

Or in other words:

You want to specialize in a specific topic and target a specific audience.

Pat Flynn (of smartpassiveincome.com):

"The riches are in the niches".

For example:

Let's say you want to launch a blog all about traveling.

This is TOO BROAD.

There problem is that there are many parts to traveling:

Traveling has lot's of different categories which you can blog about

It's going to be very hard to serve everyone, especially when you are a one-person-show.

Instead:

You want to target a specific audience and sub-niche.

Firstly:

Doing so will help you establish yourself as an authority for niche as all your content will be centered around it.

Which can result in people sharing your blog with others who want to learn about that specific niche. You'll become to go-to person for that specific market and audience.

And secondly:

It's going to make it easier to sell products and services, as you'll know exactly who your audience is and what they want or need help with.

So instead of picking traveling...

...you would go "sub-niche" and create a blog on Airbnb hosting for example.

You can then say "I'm going to target Real Estate investors who want to host their properties on Airbnb".

Do you see how that niche is specific and could help a targeted audience who would be searching for information and even products on that topic?

For example:

Rowan Clifford actually DOES THIS and runs a blog that targets people who are hosting their properties on Airbnb and helps them earn more with less effort:

Airbnb smart blogs about how to make more money with less time on Airbnb

Now:

Let's look at how you can pick your blogs niche!

Tip #1: Use Your Interests

Your interests should be the primary influence of your blogs niche.

Grab a piece of paper.

And ask yourself:

"What interests do I have which I can I help others with?".

Beginners typically make the mistake of Googling for profitable niche ideas and picking something they have no existing skills or knowledge in.

Asking this question will bring up ideas of what your blogs niche can be.

Now something to mention:

Your blog is designed to help people — you learn't this before — so circle ideas that you would like to help people with (mainly beginners).

This will be a great start:

As it will help you launch a blog that will ultimately help your audience with their problems.

Tip #2: Deploy Your Skills and Knowledge

What skills do you have?

What have you dedicated your own time into learning and trying to master?

You don't need a PhD, Degree or Qualification for the niche you want to blog about.

This is because:

Your audience will primarily be beginners...

...as they're the most interested in learning and getting their problems solved.

For example:

Courtney Carver helps beginners to live a more minimalist life to have more space, moneys, better health and less stress.

Courtney Carver helps beginners to live a more minimalist life to have more space, moneys, better health and less stress.
I know what you're thinking...

You may think that you don't have any skills or value.

Or you may say that "I don't have anything I can teach or help others about".

This is known as imposter syndrome, where you doubt your accomplishments.

Look at yourself from a third person view.

What would other people want you to help them with?

Ask your friends or family.

Your skills can be simple things too:

Such as fixing bikes, repairing clothing, home DIY or painting teapots.

People are always discovering niches and wanting to learn from others who have experience. Be that person who can help them!

Another question you can ask yourself is:

"What am I already being paid to do?".

Make it easy on yourself — if you're being paid to do something it's most likely that you have skills and knowledge in that niche.

And guess what:

Others want to learn those skills so they can make money doing it too.

Tip #3: Pick a Evergreen Niche

Finally when picking a niche:

You want the niche to be evergreen.

Evergreen means the niche will be relevant in 100 or more years.

As long as the world doesn't get invaded by aliens.

Stay away from trends such as hoover-boards, fidget spinners and so on...

Hoverboard trend going down over time

Instead ask yourself:

"Will people still be interested in this niche 100 years from now?"

Because:

You want this blog to last while your alive right?

Don't forget to do your research

Use Google to see if blogs and businesses already exist in your niche.

Write down (using Google Documents) of brands, blogs, YouTube channels and websites that already exist so you can always easily go back to them.

Look at product reviews and comments to start understanding your audiences problems.

This will help you understand your niche and create better content to help your audience.

Still Stuck on Picking a Niche? 

Use these tools to research and find topics people are interested in.

Udemy.com

Using Udemy's categories will open you up to various blog niche ideas.

I recommend using the popular topics to find sub-niches.

Discovering blog niche ideas on Udemy using the categories

Amazon.com

Take a look at the departments Amazon has.

This will give you ideas of different possible niches you could create a blog and business around.

Keep in mind:

These department niches are broad and you will still want to specialize into something more specific in that niche.

Discovering blog niche ideas on Amazon using the departments

Step 2.1 - Picking Your Blogs Name

It's time to name your blog.

Which will serve as your businesses name too.

Here's some tips when you pick a name:

Tip #1: Use Your Personal Name

Firstly:

Humans remember real worlds over made up words.

Secondly:

Humans remember peoples names even better.

It's how we are socially engineered.

In addition:

If you use your personal name for your business and blog, it adds A LOT of trust and credibility to your overall brand.

Because:

Let's be real...

No one would be stupid enough to put their name and face on a bad product or false information.

Tip #2: Use a Name Related to Your Niche

If using your personal name isn't something you're comfortable with.

Use a name that represents what your blog will be out.

The niche you picked.

For example:

Backlinko.com is a blog about SEO.

In SEO (search engine optimization) you create backlinks so the blogs name is relevant.

Backlinko blogs about SEO tips

Another example is SmartPassiveIncome.com, a blog about making money online passively by Pat Flynn.

SmartPassiveIncome blogs about how to create an online business

And Icelandic Mountain Guides takes the same route using mountainguides.is.

Icelandic Mountain Guides blogs about hiking in Iceland

Tip #3: Helpful Naming Resources and Tools

If you're like me:

And love using tools to help you.

Then check out my list of tools for generating brand/business names.

I've only listed tools that show domains at the same time, to save you from finding out later your awesome name is taken.

Shopify Business Name Generator

Click here to use the tool.

Type in a keyword and see what's available!

Shopify Business Name Generator gives you business name ideas

DomainWheel

Click here to use the tool.

Another great tool that gets name ideas in front of you which also has the domain name available (important for the next step).

Domain wheel helps you find blog names that have the URL available

Tip #4: Humanize Your Brand (and Blog)

If you want to:

Grow quickly and establish trust with your audience fast.

You want to use a human name (your name or alias name) and face with your brand.

So even if you use a niche name...

...such as Backlinko.com did.

You want to put a human face and name to it.

As you can see:

Brian Dean is the human-face behind Backlinko and makes this very clear on his website:

Backlinko makes it clear to visitors that it is run by Brian Dean

This is CRITICAL to building a successful blog that grows quickly and generates profit off the ground.

Why?

Because it adds a LOT OF TRUST.

And makes it easier for you to connect with your audience and customers.

Surveys show that people want to know who they're getting information from and feel more comfortable purchasing from a business when they know who is behind it.

People want a human face behind a brand as it makes them trust the products more

Think of it like this:

Your blog will have free content for your audience to consume (blog posts).

Your visitors will know it's made by you because:

  1. Your name and face will be on your website and content
  2. And your "About Me" page will let them know who runs the site

This let's your audience build a relationship with you.

Resulting in more trust as you serve them and help them with problems they have through your free content.

So when you say "Hey I have a product (or service) you might be interested in"...

...It's going to be a no-brainer for them to want to purchase it.

As they know WHO made it and already LOVE your free content because it's helped them.

This is power of using a human-brand!

Step 2.2 - Registering Your Blogs Domain Name

It's time to register and purchase your blogs domain name (the URL).

This will be the website address for your blog (and in the end your website), such as yourname.com.

Step 1: Check the URL Availability

Head on over to namecheap.com

And type in the URL you want to purchase.

Search for your blogs domain name using Namecheap

You'll see the results:

Use Namecheap to purchase your blogs domain name

You can add it to your cart if the URL/domain you want is available.

Otherwise:

Step 2: Pick Your Domain Extension

I recommend you use one of the following domain extensions:

.com — the best option as most people remember .com domains and are familiar with what .com means on marketing material (whereas .store or .blog isn't as easy to understand that it's a domain URL)

.net — your second best option, it's universal and also well remembered

If your URL is not available you have two options:

  1. Make an offer to the current domain owner and negotiate a price (if they want to sell it)
  2. Look at getting a new name or adding an extra word (prefix or suffix) such as media, official, blog, the, real an so on... for example my first domain was aaronwardmedia.com and later on I purchased my domain aaronward.com of the owner at that time

Step 3: Purchase Your Domain

Once you've found the winner.

Click on View Cart:

(You don't need to add anything from the Frequently bought together options).

Step 4: Your Domain Settings

Firstly, you want to turn on AUTO-RENEW for your domain Registration.

This will ensure no one can ever steal your domain once it expires after the 1-year period.

Turn on Namecheaps Domain Registration AUTO-RENEW option

Then you want to turn on the free WhoisGuard 1-Year Protection:

Turn on Namecheaps free WhoisGuard protection

Also, turn on the AUTO-RENEW option as it's a free option for lifetime:

Enable the Free WhoisGuard AUTO-RENEW option

This will protect your information from being publicly available online.

For example:

If someone looked up who owns yourdomain.com it will show your address, phone number, name and so on...

WhoisGuard replaces that information with Namecheaps contact information instead.

For example, here's the information of my website aaronward.com being hidden:

Example of aaronward.com whois information replaced with Namecheap

Step 5: Choose Optional Upgrades

Now the only upgrade you will want to consider is the 'Add Professional Gmail to your domain'.

So optionally, click on add G-Suite:

Optionally add the Gmail suite to your domain to have yourname@yourdomain.com

This will let you create a custom email address with yourname@yourdomain.com that you can access using the gmail website.

This is a great idea if you want to look more professional and be taken more seriously — as nothing screams amateur than yourname123@gmail.com.

Don't worry about any of the other upgrades. They are included for free with the website builder you will be using.

Step 6: Purchase Your New Domain!

Complete your purchase.

Confirm your Namecheap order to purchase your blogs domain

There's nothing more you need to do for now, but you will eventually need to change your domains DNS settings to connect your website to the domain itself.

Step 3 - Creating Your Custom Blog

For this final step you'll learn how to create a website.

Which will include a blog too.

To do this:

You'll be using a website builder so that you don't have to spend hours learning how to code and host a website.

Instead, a website builder does this all for you — the design, hosting and management!

Now there are lots of options to build websites and blogs.

You have:

  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • Webly
  • Blogger
  • And so on...

Here's the thing:

If you want to build a website you have full control over...

...you want to use Webflow.

Part 1: Sign Up for a Free Webflow Account

Webflow is a all-in-one tool to build websites from scratch.

You won't need to write a line of code as it's all done drag-and-drop style (what you see is what you get / WYSIWYG).

Even better:

It let's you build a website exactly the way you want it to look.

This means you are NOT restricted to a theme.

Instead, you can add elements to your website where you want them.

For example, you could add a section that lists your best guides for new visitors to your website to get started instantly (just like I have done on my home page):

Webflow let's you design pages the way you want, for example you can add guides to your home page to help new visitors get started

And because it's so awesome...

...check out their advert which explains their tool:

Keep in mind this ad is 3+ years old and the tool has been updated a lot...

To get started with Webflow:

Head on over to webflow.com and create a free account.

Part 2: Learn How to Use Webflow

Webflow has an incredible learning resource.

It's called Webflow University.

This is the #1 way to learn how to use Webflow.

If you're a complete beginner I recommend you start off with the Webflow 101 Crash Course, which can be found inside the Webflow University.

Start with the Webflow 101 Crash course to get comfortable using Webflow

It's going to take you some time to learn how to build your website and make it the way you want it to look.

It's part of the process.

So while you're diving into the awesome Webflow learning resources...

...I wanted to share some of my own tips and tricks:

Webflow Tips and Tricks

After using Webflow for over a year.

I want to share with you my tips to help you create a website successfully and effectively.

Let's jump in:

Use a Template if You're a Beginner

If you don't want to not worry about creating a custom design:

Use a Webflow template.

Sure it'll cost you a bit of cash, but think of the hours it'll save you.

With each template you still have full control over your websites look and design, which other website builders don't allow you to do.

You can see the Webflow templates here.

Make sure to select the Blog Category to ensure your template has a built in blog for you!

Use the Webflow Templates to quickly create a blog

You can also use my 100% free blog template.

You will need to create a Webflow Account first and then click clone to have this website template in your own projects.

Get Aaron's free Webflow Blog Template for your website

Gather Design Inspiration

Creating a website without any reference is very hard.

Use websites such as Dribbble.com and Behance.net to gather:

  • design inspiration
  • colors
  • fonts
  • layout ideas

And then replicate the parts of these websites you like on to your own website.

Use Dribbble.com for design inspiration, color pallets and font ideas

Don't Focus on the Small Things

When you first launch a blog you don't need anything fancy.

You just need a website that is functional.

Wasting time on "is this colour right" or "I should add an animation effect to this" isn't going to matter in the beginning.

Instead just launch your blog.

So you can start creating content.

And start learning about your audience.

Then later on you can adapt your websites design to reflect your audiences needs.

Learn to Use a Design Tool

Eventually you'll need to create graphics for your website and blog.

So:

Start learning a professional design tool such as the Adobe Creative Suite which includes Photoshop and Illustrator.

It's what all the top content creators and bloggers use.

So you might as well join the train.

If this option is too expensive for you, look into using either:

  1. Canva — Free online design tool (but very limited)
  2. Affinity Designer — One time fee (photoshop + illustrator combined)

Enjoy the process!

Don't let creating a website demotivate you.

There are going to be times where nothing makes sense.

Use the Webflow forums and University for help.

Overall, creating a website and blog is a lot of fun.

Just remember to focus on launching a site that is functional first, then create awesome content and then finally update your site to look better in time...

...or just use a template so it already looks good :)

NEW FREE TRAINING

The 7 Secret Steps To Building a 6 Figure Online Course (From Scratch)

Click here to learn how

What's Your Next Step?

How will you go about creating your blog? Let me know in the comments.

Will you be picking your niche, or registering your domain name, or perhaps designing your website with Weflow?

Let me know.

Want free blog training?

Join our free Blog Starter mini-course that shows you how to do all the steps we've talked about, with live video tutorials.

Click here to join the free training.