The corporate world is a rat race. You struggle to climb higher - a spot which comes with increased pay and increased responsibility. The dream of creative people is to exit this unending battle, to a life free of looming deadlines and boardroom meetings. The creative lot tends to latch onto any means of self-expression.

Thanks to the internet, that freedom is not far-fetched anymore. You can easily become a nomad in the digital world and earn reasonable income in the process, irrespective of where in the world you reside. A good number of those who succeed opt to start a blog. Blogging gives you flexible working hours, unlike a 9-to-5 job, but it is not a pushover if you want to make it a means of livelihood.

If you are new to blogging, you will need a step-by-step guide to help you set up on your own and establish yourself. This guide is not meant to motivate anyone to pick blogging as a means of income. It is meant for someone who very much plans to start a blog, but needs direction.

This guide is suitable for those who are searching for answers on how to setup a blog and how to sustain blogging. It is for those who believe that there is a reward for hard work. If you are looking for a Ponzi get-rich-quick scheme, you may need to look somewhere else. Creating a blog may seem way too easy, but in order to monetize it successfully, you need to do it right and establish yourself as a blogger. And once established, you need to work on sustaining it. This guide is sure to provide you with all the answers you need.

Getting started

The very first step is to identify a topic for your blog. Neil Patel, who gets up to 4.5 million page views per year, advises that the topic of your blog should be something that resonates with your interest. If you choose a topic just because you want to make money, you risk burning out in the process. You don’t have to be a professional or some authority on the topic of your choice. As long as it is something that doesn’t bore you, it will be easy for you to sustain. There is a long list of topics you can choose from and they are as follows: politics, entertainment, product reviews, recipes, family, parenthood, gaming, education, music, beginner’s guide to any topic, health, life experiences, celebrities, sports, history, humor, activism, myths and so on.

Choosing a good domain name

Your domain handle can be your personal name or a generic name. It is up to you to decide if you want to build a brand on your name, or something else. Competitive domain names with .com extensions are hardly available. You should realize that over 486 domain extensions are available for you to make your choice from. A good domain name should be short, easy to type, easy to pronounce, and should not have numbers, hyphens or special characters.

Selecting a platform for your blog

Blogging platforms are softwares that allow you to publish your blog posts. Some are free, while you have to pay for others. Free blogging platforms usually have a number of limitations, including long web addresses, restriction of ads, shutting you down indiscriminately and being in control of your content etc. The major blogging platforms available today include Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org, Blogger, Wix, Tumblr, Joomla, Ghost, Weebly, Typepad, Magneto and so on. Neil Patel has explained the pros and cons of each of the platforms in one of his posts.

Figuring out a reliable & cheap web hosting company

Reliable and cheap rarely go together when you are searching for a web hosting company. If you have enough money to spend, this should not be a problem. Server response time and server up-time are some of the key issues you should look out for when choosing a web hosting company. Some of the highly recommended cheap and reliable web hosting companies are Inmotion HostingBluehostA2 HostingDreamHost, and HostGator.

Setting up WordPress for your domain or blog

The details of installing WordPress have been detailed on WordPress.org, but you will find a more concise version with reduced installation time on TipsandTricks. When you are using some hosts, you will find the option to install WordPress with a click on your cPanel.

Deciding on a suitable WordPress plugin

You can use plugins to improve your blogging efficiency and there are myriads of them to choose from. If you intend using your blog to generate income, installing WordPress SEO by Yoast and All in One SEO Pack is inevitable. Other great plugins for various other purposes can be found on TipsandTricks.

Creating your first blog post

Creating a post is simple. Login into your WordPress (or the platform you have chosen to blog with) and click on - Add New from the Post menu (this may differ depending on your blogging platform. Choose a title for your post (make it something nice and catchy), post the content in the body and select appropriate tags, file it into the right category and hit the “Publish” button. Other important tips on editing posts can be found here.

Adding picture to your blog post

The saying 'A picture is worth more than a thousand words' has not lost its relevance. An image can be valuable for SEO purposes, and can better illustrate your point. With meta tags and keywords, an image can boost your ranking on search engines. You can upload an image to a post the old-fashioned way using FTP or the “Add Media” option on your dashboard.

Keeping your blog up-to-date with interesting content

Starting a blog is one-half of the journey; sustaining it and furnishing it with interesting content is the other half - and such is the unending journey. The moment you stop updating your blog or churning out interesting content, your viewership begins to decline. Alternating the type of articles you post can help you to maintain your audience.

Getting your blog established

For you to make money from your blog, you need to get it established. There are certain aspects that you need to keep focus on to get your blog established. The first is creating good traffic. The second is maintaining reputation. Scraping articles from other websites and heaping them on your own will not bring you success. According to TipsandTricks, it is better to write a quality article of 500 words than to invest $500 on your blog. Building a reputation is easier if you focus on a niche. Then, to build good traffic, especially in this era, you need a good social media presence.

Optimizing your blog

If your blog takes forever to load, you risk losing your audience. You can measure the performance of your site using tools from Google such as PageSpeed Insights or observe it manually using a stopwatch. The smaller your page size, the better it will perform. This may mean taking out unnecessary images and videos. Other basic tips on optimizing your website can be found here.

Securing your blog from attackers

The database of your blog can be destroyed by people using malicious content. To keep your blog safe, you need to secure all entry points with a strong password. Never use the password generated by WordPress. Also, try to use different passwords for different entry points so that it becomes harder for hackers to crack. A captcha added to your login page can exclude bot/script from gaining access to your website content. Keep your WordPress updated, because the moment a new version is released, the security information of the previous version is made public.

Marketing strategies to improve your blog income

Relying on organic traffic to make money may not get you to the millionaire status as fast as you want. You can take your fate in your hands by using marketing strategies like PPC, social media marketing, Adsense and email marketing, or by running ad campaigns. TipsandTricks has listed and detailed some of the marketing strategies you can implement on your blog.

You cannot run a blog without expecting negative comments. Resist the urge to reply to negative comments immediately. Do not outright ignore them, nor delete them, because it may invite more outcries from unsatisfied readers. Just take a couple of hours, and think it through. If it is an error that the reader pointed out, crosscheck the facts and if you are wrong, own up. Apologize for the mistake in the comment section or as an addendum to the main text. To further enhance your blogging experience, you might need some tools which can be found here.

What have been the major hiccups preventing you from starting a blog of your own? Has this post been helpful in resolving them? Let us know about your experience of blogging in the comments section below. And if you have any queries, we would be glad to assist!

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Posted 7 August, 2017

EdwardSuez

Sales & Marketing Guru

Edward is the Sales & Marketing Correspondent for Freelancer.com. He is currently based in Sydney, and is a self-confessed ice-cream fan.

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