Yay! You have started a blog and are dying to get it out there. You want more traffic and more people to engage with you. You want followers and people to share your words. Maybe you even want to make money. You are ready to have a successful blog.
But you have no idea what to do next. You’ve started this blog, now what?
You know you have to get your blog out there for people to see it, but other then posting it on Facebook a few times you aren’t sure what to do. In fact you are kind of feeling overwhelmed, like a fish out of water.
Who can blame you. Look what has happened to blogging in the last 10 years!
While all the things that are available to us are great, they are also overwhelming! Where do you even start?!
Blogging is like taking a road trip. If you have a goal for a destination you follow a map. The same is true for blogging. You start with your blogging roadmap!
1. Start with a Plan
A lot of people start blogs because they want to help people through their writing. Others start blogs because they want to help people and earn an income online. Whatever your motives are, it is good to start with the end in mind.
Is your goal to make money blogging? It’s okay to say yes! If earning an income from your blog is your goal it is good to know how you will get there. You may not know exactly how you are going to do it now, but it is good to have some ideas on how to make it happen.
When I first started blogging I devoured every single income report I could find. My favorite was Pinch of Yum’s because they live in my area and that inspired me. I like how their income reports started from when that made $21.97 a month all the way up to $92,900.54. I feel like Lindsay and Bjork left a great roadmap of how to earn an income blogging.
But as I read these income reports I realized it wasn’t only about the money. These bloggers had shared what worked and what didn’t. Some left a detailed plan of how to start, grow, and make an income from their blogs. As I read these reports I could see my own plans come together. I realized that yes, I do want to make an income blogging, and I want to leave a roadmap for other women to follow.
If you want to have a successful blog you must have a plan to get there. Look at the people that started from zero and grew their blogs into a success story. Take the time to learn from them. What mistakes did they make? What were their wins? How did they figure this out? To learn from other bloggers’ income reports, check out this income report board on Pinterest. (And don’t forget to pin this post while you are there!)
Then set your goals. Aim to reach the first 100 people with your blog. Set a goal to hit 1,000 pageviews. Then shoot to make your first $100 through affiliate income. Yes you want to reach more people, have more pageviews, and make more money, but you have to crawl before you can walk!
Then celebrate each milestone along the way. Blogging is a journey, not a sprint. When you have a dedicated plan to follow and are consistent with it, you will hit your goals! Make sure to start with the end in mind!
2. Know Your Why
Blogging is incredible! You get to connect with people. You get to help people. You get to have your words, thoughts, and ideas matter to someone. It really is an amazing journey!
But not every path on this journey is smooth. Just like there are highs along the way, there are lows too. Rude comments, lack of traffic, and working many hours for no money is hard. That’s the dark side of blogging.
I don’t mean to be a downer, but I also want to be real with you! It isn’t all a roses and champagne! That’s why you must know your why. Why are you blogging? Who do you want to help?
It has to be more than about the money for it to be worth it. You and your words are worth so much more than money. You are valuable and have a unique perspective that we all need to hear.
What is your why for blogging? Write it down, print it out, and place it by your computer. Heck put it right there on your computer. This will help you keep going when it gets hard!
3. Define Your Niche
Now that you have a plan and know your “why” it is time to figure out your “who.” Who exactly are you writing this blog for?
The number one thing bloggers overlook when they start blogging is defining their niche. We have some blog post ideas, we write, and then hope the magic will happen. We are missing one key ingredient: knowing our niche and what they want to read.
When you know your niche you can write posts they want to read. You can offer freebies they are dying to download. You can offer courses they are happy to buy. The reason knowing your niche is important is because your blog now has a purpose. You have well defined content with a pattern that people want to read.
How do you define your niche? First you go out there and you research them. Learn all you can about their wants, desires, and needs. Then you write about them. You write their story, who they are, and what they want. To help you with this process I have a worksheet inside the Women Winning Online Facebook group you can download called “Know Your Niche.”
4. Clear Blog Categories
Maybe it’s my Type A personality but I like everything to be organized. The same is true for my blog. I learned this tip from Elite Blog Academy and I love it. Organize your blog categories into 3-5 main categories. Then have each category have a few subcategories.
This makes it easier for your niche to find the content they want to read. It makes your site look more put together and not as all over the place. It also encourages people to look through your blog more and get hooked into your content. All this is a win!
How do you come up with your categories? First think about the topics you want to write about. Also take into account the topics your niche wants to learn more about. Then brainstorm some ideas.
For example, I use online marketing as a main topic. Then I include subcategories for email marketing, landing pages, freebies, etc.. The easier you make it for people to find your content the more likely they will stay around and read it. Make it easy for them!
5. The Right WordPress
Now that you have all the pre-work done on your blog it is time to start it, the right way! A lot of bloggers will start out on free platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger. If you are serious about making a go at blogging I would start out with a self-hosted WordPress site.
Don’t let those words scare you away! I can help you with this! Self-hosted means you own your website domain name and your blogging platform. With a self-hosted WordPress site you can add a bunch of plugins to make your blog better. You can also monetize your blog with a self-hosted site.
The reason I suggest you start out self-hosted right away is because it is a pain to move everything from a free site to a paid site when you decide to make the switch. You can’t take your free theme with you and it’s not easy to move all your posts. Plus hosting for the year through SiteGround is only around $47 a year. There aren’t too many businesses you can start for under 50 bucks!
For more on how to start your blog off on the right foot using WordPress check out my tutorial here: http://womenwinningonline.com/startblog/
6. Post Once a Week
There is a myth out there that to grow your blog you must post every day. Or at least 2-3 times a week. That is crazy to me! The only time I can think of that working is if you have a site that is dedicated to deals or coupons. Other than that niche, that is a lot of content to put out there every week!
I actually tried my hand at this on my first blog. I committed for to post every single day in the month of November. I did this to see if I liked blogging or not. The good news is that yes! I fell in love with blogging that month. The bad news is I almost burnt myself out on it.
Then I stumbled on this post on SmartBlogger. In short it said posting every single day on your blog is one of the worst things you can do. First, it pushes all your good content to the bottom and people don’t see it. Second, people do not have the time to consume all that information!
I also learned something from writing a post everyday. My content at the beginning was awesome. In fact some of that content is still getting shared today. But as the month wore on, the content started to go from really great, to mediocre, to blah.
Save yourself some time and commit to posting once per week on your blog. As you will soon learn below, you will have plenty of other things to do for your blog!
7. Start with Email First
When I first started blogging I read two quotes by Amy Porterfield and Pat Flynn, two incredible internet marketers. Both Amy and Pat said the biggest mistake they made when starting their online businesses was not starting an email list right away. They both said they wished they would have done that first because they missed out on a bunch of potential subscribers as their sites grew.
I took their advice to heart and started my email list right away. I lasted for one week on MailChimp before I switched over to ActiveCampaign. I can’t on good faith recommend MailChimp. I know it’s free, but like the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
ActiveCampaign is $9 a month and for that low price you get a ton of features! They have automations set up that will share your freebie for you and help you grow your list. I know this might sound overwhelming, but they have an awesome support team that will walk you through these steps. I am also here to help you!
Starting an email list is the best thing you can do for the future of your blog. I started my list for Women Winning Online the same week I started the blog last year. I have people on that list from February that purchased Find Your Tribe Online when I launched it in August. Email subscribers are just that loyal. Do yourself and your blog a favor and start your list right now!
8. Create an Opt-in Offer
Once you have your email system all set up, you need something to offer people to subscribe to it. All too often I see bloggers make the crucial mistake of asking people to sign up the wrong way. The two common things I see are:1.
- Sign up for my email list and get my posts delivered right to your inbox!
- Sign up for my list to get printables, downloads, and more!
Why don’t these work? Our emails have become a precious commodity. We get so.much.email. We aren’t willing to give out our email to just anyone because we don’t need something else cluttering up our inboxes.
The reason those two “offers” don’t work is because there is nothing in it for the subscriber. Nothing of real value that they can see. For the first one, they think “I don’t need another post in my inbox. If I want to read the blog I will come back and check it out.” Yet they never do because we have short attention spans and even shorter memories.
The second statement doesn’t work because they don’t know what they are getting. Whenever I see this I always wonder “What printable am I getting and what’s the more?” It’s not clear what the value is here so people won’t sign up for your list.
Remember how in step 3 you defined your niche? Go back to that. Go back and look at what your niche is struggling with and what they want to learn more about. Then create a simple worksheet, cheatsheet, or quick tips around a solution for that problem. Give people what they want and they will gladly sign up for your email list!
9. Get a Landing Page
You have a good email service, a freebie that is rocking so now it is time to kick that into overdrive! It’s time to create your first landing page!
What the heck is a landing page? It is one page on your blog that is dedicated to your freebie. It doesn’t have:
- A navigation menu
- Links to other posts
- Links to other pages
It is one page that you use to share about your freebie with a sign up box for people to download it. To see an example check out my Email Worksheet landing page.
Most bloggers are scared to do a landing page. I get it. You are asking people to sign up for your email list without even seeing your blog. What if they don’t sign up for your list and then never get to see the goodness of your blog?
It’s a risk for sure. But you know what’s riskier? Having them go to the home page of your blog and never come back. At least if you capture their email address you can send them blog updates. I also take my email list very personally. To me it’s a way to connect with my followers, help them, and build relationships. I would rather take the risk of having them not sign up, then not come back at all.
To make your life easier use a landing plugin like Thrive Landing Pages to create your first page. They have awesome templates you can use to get up and running quickly. Something that helps me create landing pages really fast is to add in all my information and save it as a template. Then when I want to create a new landing page, I have the bones ready to go!
Use your landing page when you do Facebook promo days, guest posting, and on your social media sites. Create the best freebie you can and then share it like crazy!
10. Get Pinterest Down Pat
Pinterest is a gold mine of traffic for all bloggers. It has become the number one source of traffic for most bloggers out there. If there is one thing I wish I could do over my first year of blogging it would be Pinterest. I didn’t pay enough attention to growing that platform.
My advice to you is get to know everything you can about Pinterest! Devour any blog post you can find on the subject. A few of my favorite resources are my dear friend Suzi Whitford as well as McKinzie Bean, and Elna Cain. They all have great posts on Pinterest and how to grow your traffic using Pinterest.
My personal plan for Pinterest this year looks like this:
- Update my profile to describe who I help.
- Add images to the new slider thing.
- Organize my boards better.
- Delete pins that aren’t performing well.
- Update call-to-actions to my pins.
- Add SEO friendly words to my pins.
- Add infographics to some of my posts.
- Use Tailwind religiously.
- Pin 3 other bloggers’ posts for every 1 post I share of mine.
- Get more active on group boards listed on Find Your Tribe Online.
I have learned that Pinterest isn’t something you can haphazardly do. Like anything else you have to have a strategy to be successful with it. Part of my strategy involves using Tailwind to make my life easier. I love how easy it is to schedule my pins and others with Tailwind. If you haven’t tried Tailwind I highly recommend it. When I started using it, my Pinterest traffic increased by over 35%! As a bonus when you sign up with my link you get a free month to try it out–bonus!
Pinterest is key for any bloggers growth. Focus on a good Pinterest strategy and your blog traffic will grow!
11. Go Find Your People
The number one thing bloggers tell me they want is more traffic. More traffic means more engagement, more pageviews, and more money. Heck yes we want that traffic!
But unlike the Field of Dreams, the saying “If you build it they will come” does not work for blogging. Or any business really. You have to go out there and find your people and get them to come back to your blog.
Like I mentioned above, Pinterest is your best first start to go find your people. Join group boards in your niche and share your pins on those boards every single day. Share other bloggers’ pins to spread the love around.
Next you will want to figure out where your people are hanging out. Are they in Facebook groups? On Instagram or Twitter? On other blogs? Where is the main place your niche is hanging out? Figure that out and then be there and be visible.
Need help finding your people? Did you know that Find Your Tribe Online has 174 Facebook groups and 154 Pinterest group boards that will make it easy to find your people? It’s a resource many have used to triple their traffic in only days!
12. Engage with Your People
Once you know where your people are hanging out, talk to them! Ask them questions about what is going on in their lives. Ask them how you can help them today. Ask them if they could wave a magic wand over something in their lives, what result would they like to see? Ask them questions and take the time to get to know them.
On the flip side also take the time to answer their questions. Look in different Facebook groups and see what questions people are asking. Then go in there and offer your opinions. Take the time to help people for no other reason than to help them.
This is the core of providing value to your niche. Do this and people will flock to you and your blog. When you help people you are investing in them. This investment will build your tribe and grow your blog. Plus it’s just nice to do!
13. Pick One Social Media Site
Raise your hand if you are overwhelmed by all the social media sites out there.
Oh my gosh doesn’t it seem like we add something new every six months to the social media world? Just when you thought you had a handle on your Facebook page, Facebook adds groups and livestreams to their site. Then Periscope comes along and you haven’t even mastered Twitter yet. And why are you getting hits from SumbleUpon? Then there’s Pinterest and Instagram, both a blogger’s best friend.
Plus about 50 more that I am sure I haven’t mentioned. Holy moly! It’s enough to make you dizzy isn’t it?
The problem when we start blogging is we feel like we have to be on all the social media sites to grow our blogs. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
We actually do more damage to ourselves trying to be everywhere all the time. It’s too overwhelming to try to grow your blog and your email list and all your social media sites when you are new. It’s too much.
The best thing you can do for your blog and your sanity, is to grow one social media site at a time. Take a look at my Facebook page for Women Winning Online. It has a really low following. Why? Because I am not focused on growing my Facebook page. I am focused on growing my Facebook group because that is where my people are hanging out.
I have a goal and a plan to take on one social media site at a time. I know that I can’t do it all and do it all well. I would rather grow my blog, my email list, my Facebook group, and Pinterest before I tackle another social media site. Those four things alone are enough to keep me busy for the whole year!
I also know that I can’t focus on growing my social media site by myself. I don’t have the time to constantly be in my group posting information even though I wish I could be! I rely on PostPlanner to help me stay organized and visible online! I can loop my blog posts with PostPlanner and never have to worry about scheduling them to be shared again. It’s great! If you are looking for a social media scheduler this year, check out PostPlanner, and use WWOLOVE to get a 30% discount.
Do yourself, your blog, and your sanity a favor and focus on one social media site. Choose the site where your people are hanging out and do it really well. By staying focused on one site your following and your blog will grow!
14. Send Emails
Remember how you set up your email service, the best opt-in offer, and an awesome landing page? Now that you have started to collect those emails it’s time to actually send emails!
So many bloggers say “Well I can’t send an email to my list yet because there are only 10 people on my list.”
Here’s the thing. Those 10 people don’t know they are only 1 of 10. For all they know you have 300 people on your list. They signed up for your email because they want to get emails from you!
I recommend starting first with a welcome email when people sign up for your freebie. Send out a welcome email and start building a relationship with your subscriber right away.
Then after that work on two things. First a weekly email newsletter. Let people know that you are going to email them once a week. In that email newsletter include exclusive tips you only share with your email subscribers. Share tools that are working for your blog or in your life. People love getting this kind of personal and exclusive content. For more ideas on what to send your email list, check out my email newsletter worksheet!
15. Network with Other Bloggers
Networking with other bloggers is one of the best things you can do for your blog and for yourself. This is a tip that has been around since the beginning days of blogging and one that holds true.
Making blogging friends is great for getting your content shared. You share their posts, they share your posts. It’s a win-win!
But it is also goes much deeper than that! Blogging is not easy work and it can be lonely. Connecting with other bloggers that get it makes it a lot less lonely. Your blogging friends will celebrate your wins with you and pick you up when you are having a rough day. That’s how important it is to network with other bloggers.
So where do you find these bloggers and how do you approach them without sound like a weirdo? Good question! One way is to create a mastermind group of 4-6 bloggers in your niche. Form a small Facebook group and help each other out. This is one way I met a few of my best blogging friends.
Another way is to simply reach out to bloggers that you admire online. Maybe they are in a similar niche as you and you admire the work they are doing. Take a moment and reach out to them on a Facebook message and introduce yourself. It doesn’t have to be weird or awkward because you are paying them a compliment. Ask them more about themselves and why they got into blogging. Let them know you are looking for a few new blogging friends to connect with. Taking these baby steps will help you to build a network of bloggers that you can lift up and vice versa!
16. Guest Post
Guest posting is a long held blogging strategy that still works today! Guest posting on someone else’s site is a great way to get your name out there to a new audience. It also helps build external links back to your blog.
The first thing you want to do when guest posting is look for blogs in a similar niche as yours. For example I blog about the business of blogging so I would look for blogs with similar topics like email marketing, getting blog traffic, and so on.
Another idea would be to look for blogs that are one step off of your main niche. For example, if there was a popular coupon blog that also writes about starting a blog, I could write a post on the top 10 reasons to start a blog today. The readers are used to seeing only coupon posts and might be drawn into blogging posts like these.
The next thing you want to do when you guest post is to look for blogs with a larger audience size than you. You want to look for popular blogs in your niche so you can have a shot at being seen by more people. Guest posting is a win-win because the host blog gets a break from creating content and you get your blog name in front of more people. It’s blogging collaboration at it’s best!
Three more things to consider when you write your guest post are:
1. Write your very best post. You want this post to be so detailed and filled with valuable information. Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect too.
2. When you guest post you usually get a 1-2 sentence bio at the end of your post. Do not, do not, do not use a link and send people back to the home page of your blog. Send them to your landing page to grab that valuable email address!
3. If you can include links or images of your blog in the first two paragraphs of your post do it! This will help drive more traffic to your blog.
Guest posting is an incredible strategy to network with other bloggers and get more eyes on your blog!
17. Get Exposure
I think there is one key to all these 16 steps above. One thing that will set you apart from other bloggers.
You have to go out there and get exposure for your blog. You can’t write and hope people will come to you. The internet is a huge place and it is hard for one blog to stand out. The only way to stand out is to stand up and let people know you are here. Go out there and be consistent with your message. Talk to people, get to know them, help them, and write for them. Work hard and go out there and get exposure for your blog.
Post consistently on your blog, on social media, and in Facebook groups. Be faithful with your email list and send emails to your subscribers. Get to know other bloggers and help them out. Do these things to get exposure for your blog and to help others. This is the roadmap to growing your blog the right way.
The road to creating a successful blog is a long and winding road. It’s a fun road trip but one that’s better if you follow a roadmap. It makes the peaks and valleys so much closer and not as hard.
To recap, here are the things that you should include on your blogging roadmap to make your journey to a successful blog easier:
- Start with a Plan
- Know Your Why
- Define Your Niche
- Clear Blog Categories
- The Right WordPress
- Post Once a Week
- Start with Email First
- Create an Opt-in Offer
- Get a Landing Page
- Get Pinterest Down Pat
- Go Find Your People
- Engage with Your People
- Pick One Social Media Site
- Send Emails
- Network with Other Bloggers
- Guest Post
- Get Exposure
This list is extensive and in and of itself overwhelming. I get it! Take a few moments after you read this to pin it to Pinterest so you can come back to it. My best advice is to go through this one step at a time. Just like you have to take stops along the way on any road trip the same is true for blogging. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your blog won’t be either! Take your time to do each of these steps and you will be rewarded with a successful and thriving blog!