If you’re building a personal brand or promoting a business, blogging on WordPress is a good way to drive organic traffic and engagement to your site. But how do you start blogging that makes money and drives business?
Maintaining a WordPress blog involves a lot of hard work.
Setting it up is just the beginning. From there, you establish a personal brand, write to a target audience, then distribute and promote your content (aka marketing).
It is a must to write consistently (how many hours are you willing to spend on blogging every day?) and build relationships with other bloggers and website owners, too.
Ready to take the challenge and commit to your blogging life? Let’s get started!
Setting up your WordPress blog the right way
Get hosting and a domain
Instead of using wordpress.com to create a WordPress blog, buy your own domain and pay for hosting services. This makes your website look more professional, and gives you more control of the back-end, such as:
- Customized look and layout
- Integration with other marketing apps
- Added functionality from plugins
- Analytics and other function that requires coding
You can choose from a range of web hosting providers and see which one meets your budget and expectations. Be careful of biased reviews that are only trying to sell and affiliate product!
I personally use Hostinger and signed up for their Premium plan. I love their customer service, too. Unlike most providers, they’re not hosting a million websites, so you can get support and speed.
It’s also cheap!
A new WordPress setup is like a bare house. You gotta add reinforcements and furniture.
Optimize for speed and install necessary plugins
It’s time to optimize your site for added functionality. This part requires a little tech knowledge, so you might need to do some tech research.
Start by adding plugins. Each plugin allows you to add a function to your website, like include sharing buttons and social icons.
Watch the quick tutorial from WPBeginner below:
Here are some of the essential plugins that I use for my WordPress blog.
Pro tip: Make sure you don’t use too many plugins. They slow down your site, and slow site = poor user experience.
- Contact Form 7. For collecting entries sent through my Contact page
- Imagify. For optimizing uploads and saving space for better speed
- Simple social icons. For my cute social media buttons in the footer
- WP Rocket. For speeding up my WordPress website
- WPBakery Page Builder. For building landing pages and custom page layouts
- wpDiscuz. For my comment section
- Yoast SEO. For changing snippets and meta tags
I have a total of 21 active plugins as of the moment.
Install a WordPress blog theme
I wish I can say that this was the most fun part of setting up my WordPress website, but it’s not.
Choosing a WordPress blog theme was hell. In fact, this section deserves a post of its own – which I will definitely be writing about.
Some problems I encountered with (premium!) WordPress blog themes:
- They slowed down my site to snail-level speeds
- It was extremely hard to customize them – and I already have CSS knowledge to start with!
- My site looked nothing like the demo
- It didn’t align with my *constantly changing* goals and initiatives – my fault, okay?
Just because it’s a paid premium theme doesn’t mean it’s worth the buck.
Anyway, in case you’re wondering, I’m using GeneratePress for my theme. I got sold after watching this video:
At the time, before getting GP, I was having a hard time changing the container width of my blog. I was at the end of my wits when I found out about GP.
And this concludes the section on setting up your WordPress blog. I’ll update you later about the theme part!
How to find your blogging niche
Now here comes the fun part: “What are you going to write about?”
Ideally, you’ll blog about something related to your business or profession.
Then you can start niche blogging for profit.
For example: If you’re a pet groomer, you write about pets. If you’re a programmer, you write about data science and tech trends.
Then hopefully, you attract readers who are potential customers, buyers, or clients (that’s how content marketing works, by the way)
Sounds easy, right?
Important things to consider when choosing a blogging niche
- Search and organic demand. Are people even searching for your topic?
- Blogging ideas. Can you consistently come up with creative content?
- Your commitment to the craft. Can you write extensively on the subject?
- Your unique spin. How can you add your own flair to this popular topic?
- Marketing and promotion. What are the ways you can promote your blog and attract people to read it?
Elna Cain writes about popular niches that make money.
If you’d like to check a longer list, here’s 100+ blog niches that you can choose from.
What blogging challenges did I face when choosing my niche?
Choosing a niche wasn’t as hard as choosing a WordPress theme *lol* but I encountered difficulties along the way such as:
- Aligning my niche with my target audience
- Making sure I have enough knowledge on the subject (when you’re a little manic it feels like you can write about anything and everything)
- Connecting the niche to my personal brand and line of work (like what exactly do I want to get out of this whole blogging thing?)
And that’s why my first few posts were a little “scattered” and lacking a solid direction.
I was writing for a general audience and I wasn’t even sure about the writing voice that will I be using.
And then, from a marketing perspective, you have to think about other things like search demand, on-page, and off-page SEO, and how you’re promoting the blog post.
Which takes us to the next section…
Content planning, writing, and distributing your blog posts
Here comes the never-ending work that you’ll put into blogging.
Ideally, you have 3 phases such as:
- Content planning
- Content writing
- Distribution and promotion
Let’s break it down further.
First, you start by thinking about what it is specifically you’re going to be blogging about.
Don’t start with actual blog post titles right away. Break down your niche into categories first.
For example, I am in the marketing niche, with a focus on content marketing.
So I talk about writing, design, business, and marketing methods: these are my main categories.
Now you’ll want to think about a keyword related to one of your categories, or your focus at the moment.
“What inspires you to write today’s blog post, or plan this week’s series of blog posts?”
I then use Google’s Keyword Planner to come up with viable keywords to focus my writing on.
So today, I wanted to write about “blog” and “personal blogging.” Here’s a screenshot of my keyword research:
Then I use these keywords throughout my post so that people who are looking for information might easily find my post.
And this is just one aspect of content planning.
Keep in mind that there are subtle differences between strategy and plan. A strategy is more of a general overview of how you’re going to do things, while plan includes the specific steps involved.
And if this is making your head spin a little, I want to introduce to you the concept of minimalist content marketing by Brittany Berger.
I met this gal from Twitter and immediately subscribed to her Work Brighter newsletter.
Before this section becomes a blog post of its own, let’s move on to content writing. Yay!
How to write your blog posts like a pro
Let’s say you got your editorial calendar all set, and you have blog post titles to about for the rest of the week or month.
Now it’s time to do some keyboard smashing!
Here’s a couple of things about me that I just wanted to share before anything else:
- I *proudly* know how to touch type and I write fast (I peak at 1000 words per hour)
- I hate planning and could never stick to a content plan (Sorry!)
But when it comes to the act of writing itself, I have a clear cut process.
Before writing about anything, I make sure to have done my research and known about the topic like it’s the back of my hand.
I get knowledge from other blogs, websites, books, personal experiences, and forums.
I create a super detailed outline that includes all topic sections, sub-headings, and general as well as specific ideas per section.
Sometimes I also include other things like:
- Sources to link to
- Champion sentences
- Competitor articles
Outlining is such a vital writing process, that it deserves a post of its own.
But not everybody agrees, especially my friends in the creative writing department:
I actually wrote this post without an outline or plan.
I woke up at 2 am and just decided, “I’m going to write a blog today, let’s do it,” and started typing away.
But I’ve been reading about this whole blogging theory and marketing for months.
And that’s how I word-vomited this entire post.
Editing, adding custom images, and publishing your blog post
After writing your first draft, here are three things that you must do before hitting publish:
- Use Grammarly for spelling and grammar errors
- Check all your links and attachments
- Optimize your use of keywords, tags, and edit your snippets (using the Yoast plugin)
Some bloggers go the extra mile and create custom featured images for their blog posts.
If you want to do that, you can make your life easier by purchasing templates from Creative Market.
Here is an example of a food blogging template:
Impressive, right? Good graphics contribute to how professional your blog looks like. It also helps you establish personal branding, which is my next topic.
Creating a personal brand for your WordPress blog
When I was starting out, I focused on personal branding and making sure that I had a pixel perfect website.
I went as far as buying premium fonts, custom graphics, and brainstorming the perfect brand identity.
In hindsight, I was doing it all wrong.
You’ve read this far. I like that.
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A quick lesson on personal branding
Having a personal brand is not the same as having a logo or using a distinctive color palette.
It’s more about having a combination of the following things:
- Remarkable traits, quirks, and qualities
- A consistent voice that readers can recognize and anticipate
- A universal message embedded in each piece of content that you have in your blog
In case you’re wondering, my personal brand springs from simplicity, minimalism, and authenticity. But I’m also looking for something fresh, spontaneous, yet organized.
That’s why I don’t use too many colors on my website. I want the focus to be the words themselves. After all, I’m branding myself as a writer.
And while I stand by the “bold, clear, and concise” rule, I like to sprinkle a bit of quirkiness here and there. Occasionally I drop metaphors like pineapples on pizza.
When people read my blog posts, I want them to feel like they’re reading something completely different from all the other content out there.
Each of us already has something within ourselves that makes us different.
You just have to find it and turn it into something tangible.
Distributing and promoting your blog like a marketer
It’s time to shine and tell everybody about your blog! Remember, you can’t just publish a post and hope for traffic to follow. This is known as the “publish and pray” technique.
For blogging success, you must actively distribute and promote your content. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Ways to distribute your content online
- Submit your website to the Google Search Console
- Use social bookmarking websites like Pinterest, Pocket, and Mix.
- If you’re on Twitter, use related hashtags when tweeting about your blog post.
- Pin the post to your social media pages
- On Facebook, find related groups and share your blog post.
- Consider syndicating your content to Medium and LinkedIn.
How to promote your blog posts
- Consider paid social media promotions like “boosting” posts and tweets on social media
- Use paid search engine advertising
- Reach out to influencers and ask them to promote your content
- Guest post on other websites and earn links to your website or content
- Reach out to blog owners and ask them to link to your website or blog post
- Reach out to your email list subscribers
It’s also important to engage with other bloggers, comment on related social media articles, and build relationships with people.
That way, you’ll build an online reputation and a trusted website that other people will be happy to share and link to.
Take the next steps
There’s no rush to set up a blog. Each blogger has their own pace – but we all get started somewhere.
Sure, there may be successful bloggers who managed to explode their website in only a few months but keep in mind that they have an audience, capabilities, and connections that are different from yours.
Blogging is, in some way, part of your personal journey.
Even if you’re writing for business, you’ll find a blogging voice and style that resonates with your corporate brand.
It all starts with getting your first post published.
Do you have a blog or are you planning to start one? Share it with me by using the comment section. Thanks!