Follow the step-by-step instructions in this guide to learn how to start a blog the right way. I’ll also include useful tips and tricks to make your new blogging journey stress-free.
How To Start A Blog In 5 Easy Steps
In this comprehensive, step-by-step “How To Start A Blog” guide, I’ll walk you through the following steps in detail so that you can feel empowered and ready to start your blogging adventure with confidence.
- Understand WHY you want to start a blog (don’t skip this step.)
- Select the best blogging platform and hosting option for your personal needs.
- Select the perfect theme and layout for your blog.
- Make sure that you have the add-ons and plugins that you need for a successful blog.
- Write engaging content to keep your readers coming back for more.
There are many fun and exciting reasons to start a blog. To make money, to grow your business, or to teach, educate, and to share your story are the most common reasons that people start a blog. But before you hit “go” and actually start blogging, the first step is to decide WHY want to start a blog in the first place – and how can you do that if you’re not quite sure what a blog is? So, let’s answer that question first…
What Is A Blog?
So what is a blog and how is it different from a website?
A Website Is…
A “website” is merely a group of pages published on the Internet. They are typically grouped on a single domain name like http://bloggingblackbook.com.
Everything you see on the Internet is ‘technically’ a website. Websites can be any size, from a single page to 1000’s of pages. They can be plain text or complex applications.
A Blog Is…
A blog is a specific type of a website usually containing content that is published (or displayed) in chronological order. Blogs were once called “weblogs” for this very reason.
Most blogs today run on the WordPress.org platform, otherwise known as self-hosted WordPress. In simple terms, WordPress is a robust content management system that allows anyone to write and publish content on the Internet – even those who are ‘technology’ challenged. Before WordPress, if you wanted to make a website, you generally had to be a software developer and write your own code.
Why Start A Blog?
There are a million different reasons for starting a blog, and your exact reasons will be unique to your personal goals and desires.
Here are the 3 most common reasons to start a blog:
- Make money online
- Share a story or teach others
- Build brand recognition for a business
Start A Blog To Make Money Online
Making money online is doable and can be profitable. It honestly depends on your personal preference and how hard you are willing to work to be successful. Trust me; the old saying holds true. You don’t know what you don’t know until you get started.
Here are just a few ways you can make money online with your blog.
Direct Advertisers are individuals or companies that will pay you money to advertise their product or service on your website. These advertisements include things like banner ads, text ads, and paid reviews. Once your site is popular enough, you can make a lot of money from direct advertisers.
The simplest way to make money online is with affiliate marketing. You don’t have to have your own product or service to sell. You can just sell someone else’s stuff for a commission. Amazon is one of the easiest to get set up on new blogs when you first start blogging. Other options include ClickBank, JVZoo, and Commission Junction. They are all large networks of products and services that you can promote on your blog to earn commissions.
Google Adsense is what most bloggers think of with they hear about ad networks, but there are MANY others. They are merely companies who connect advertisers with content publishers (bloggers) to place ads on your blog. And these days, it’s tough for a brand new blogger to get approved for Adsense. Your blog needs to be at least 6 months old with lots of valuable content before you even try to apply to Google Adsense.
Create And Sell A Product Or Service
This is the absolute best way to make money online because you get to keep ALL of the profits, so as you read through the rest of this guide, let your brain work on some possible ideas of a product or service to sell on your blog.
Starting A Blog To Share Your Story Or Teach Others
Did you know that many of the most prominent blogs on the Internet started out as a simple way to share a story, share valuable life lessons and tips, or to share years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom? You have much more to share with the world than you may be thinking right now.
Is there something you are really good at doing? Is there something you are utterly awful at doing? Either way, your experiences can help others, or at least make them laugh.
Is there one topic you can talk about for hours and never get bored? Blogging about things you enjoy will make your blog more interesting and let your enthusiasm shine through all that you write.
Have you lived through a trauma or disaster of some sort? Trust me, there are other people out there right now going through that same issue, and you can help them.
Maybe you have been thinking about writing a book? A blog is an excellent way to write it one chapter at a time. You can get all of your thoughts organized as you plan and write your blog posts, and that will make writing the actual book so much easier! Think of your blog as a table of contents for your book… And, did you know that there are tools like Designrr.io that will ‘automagically’ turn your blog into a book? Pretty cool stuff…
Build Brand Recognition For Your Business
A blog is the best way to grow the reach of your business. Blogs are go-to resources for information, solutions, and knowledge on a particular topic – both search engines, and real people LOVE blogs.
A blog allows you to personally address the problems and concerns that your customers have. It’s an easy way to build trust and stay front-of-mind so that when your customers are ready to buy, you are the first business they think of!
Choose A Topic For Your Blog
Don’t make the fatal mistake of moving way too fast, or getting stuck entirely when trying to choose a topic for your blog.
Move too fast, and you’ll end up crashing early… You’ll get bored with your topic, or it will fall out of favor next month. Maybe, the market is too small, and you’ll get no traffic. Or perhaps the market is huge, but everyone in that market wants your product or service for free!
Just as bad is getting completely stuck and never getting your blog off the ground. Here are some tips that will help you select the best topic for your new blog – one that has real staying power!
Personal Passions Vs. Money Makers
The single biggest question I get about choosing a blogging topic is “Should I follow my passions or strictly go for the money?”
My Answer: It needs to be a combination of both.
You’ll want to be passionate about your blogging topic because you’ll spend TONS of time researching and learning about your specific topic, and even more time sharing that information with your audience.
You’ll want to pick a topic that people actually search for – so that you can provide the answer! To be successful, your blog needs followers, and lots of them.
Most people shy away from the competitive niches because they’re afraid of the competition. I say go for it! Find a gap in that niche that no one has filled yet, and fill it.
Maybe you say things a little differently or come from a different background… You have something to add that no one else can. While it may be a little easier to get on the first page of Google for the smaller niche, 1% of 10,000,000 readers is still a more significant following than 100% of 1000 readers.
On that note, one of my personal blogs has gotten more than 1,000,000 views per month without ever having a single page one listing on Google.
Choose A Topic With Staying Power
What this means is that the topic of your blog should have just as much value a year from now as it does today. Yes, your blog can be incredibly popular if you cover celebrity gossip or the current Presidential election, but that means that you have to put out new and exciting content every day and that content will have no value in a few months.
In my opinion, you’ll do much better over the long term if you choose a topic that is more “evergreen” like personal growth, making money, finding love, nutrition, fitness, etc. Those topics never go out of fashion.
Can You Make Money With It?
To make money with your blog, you’ll want to choose a niche where people are willing to spend money. It doesn’t matter how impressive your blog is, if it’s an expense and you don’t make any money from it, you’ll eventually give up and quit.
While, painting on grains of rice is a really cool skill, how many people are really going to pay for it? But, think about weight loss and starting a business… People will hand over their rent money if they think you can help them lose weight or make some cash!
Nothing Is Set In Stone
As you grow and evolve, so will your blog and it’s content – and that’s perfectly OK. Don’t get stuck trying to find the perfect blog topic that you can live with forever! You can always morph your current blog into something new, or even start a brand new blog when you’re ready. I generally have 2-3 blogs going at any given time on different topics.
Pro Tip: Master running one blog before you try to start another one!
Find A Blog Hosting Company
Here’s an analogy… Think about the differences between renting a home and owning a home? This may not seem related to blogging or starting a blog, but it really is a good analogy.
When you rent, you may have a charming space to live in, but it’s not yours. You have no real control or decision making authority over the structure and layout of that home. If you want to add a new fence or build a pool, you have to get permission from the homeowner – and most of the time, the answer will be no.
When you own, you can do whatever you want to the layout and structure of the home because you own it. You can add that fence or build that pool whenever you feel like it – with the proper building permits and HOA approval, but that’s another analogy for a different day. 🙂
The Best Blogging Platform
The first question to answer is: “What blogging platform do I want to use?” I’m going to make that easy for you and tell you that WordPress is the answer to that question. 🙂 But, even with WordPress, the hosting options can get confusing.
Where To Host Your Blog
The second choice you’ll have to make is where to host your WordPress blog.
We’re going to talk about 4 different types of WordPress blog hosting:
- Free WordPress Hosting
- Self-Hosted WordPress
- Managed WordPress Hosting
- Concierge WordPress Hosting
When considering the following options, ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself on the answers:
- What kind of support do I want and need?
- Do I need help with the real techie stuff like server uptime, site speed, and backups?
- Am I comfortable installing WordPress, Themes, and Plugins – and setting all of that up?
- Am I willing to give up control to let someone else handle the techie stuff?
- Do I need help learning ‘how’ to blog – writing, promoting, and making money?
Be honest with yourself and your blogging journey will be a lot more fun and successful!!!
Why Free Blog Hosting Is A Truly Bad Idea And Rarely Ever Free
The most common question asked by potential new bloggers is “How do I starting blogging for free and still make money online?” Honestly, it’s not possible to start a blog for free and make any real money. Sorry.
The old saying “it takes money to make money” is unfortunately true. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but when it comes to blog hosting, you get what you pay for. So, spend the few dollars per month and get high-quality hosting and support. You’ll be glad you did!
Free hosting is like living in government-run project housing. Basically, anyone can live there… But… It’s the projects. Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with WordPress.com – for what they do, it’s excellent! But it still comes with the limitations of ‘free’ blog hosting, and as you’ll see below, it quickly becomes “not free.”
If you want to pay them money, you’ll get more service and support, but then it’s no longer free, it’s now Managed WordPress hosting! More below on why I think that’s almost always the best option…
Pros Of Free Blog Hosting
- Cost – Duh, it’s ‘free’ (but quickly becomes not ‘free’ as you want to add features.)
- Easy To Set Up –there’s nothing to install and no technical configuration is required.
- Easy To Use And Manage – Free services like WordPress.com have a very friendly and easy to use interface (because there are very few customizations you can make.)
Cons Of Free Blog Hosting
- Limited Support – You’ll get little to no real support from free blog hosting companies and good luck teaching yourself “how” to blog.
- No Training – If a free blogging service offers any training at all, it will come with a hefty price tag. Most of the time, it’s just not an option.
- Unwanted Advertising – Many free or discount hosting companies will run their ads on your site. Remember, if it’s free, you’re the customer.
- Poor Site Performance And Limited Bandwidth – Typical free blog hosting plans offer very little space and bandwidth for the money. This means that your site may run slow or go down altogether if you get a traffic spike. If you want high-end performance, ‘free blog hosting’ very quickly becomes ‘paid blog hosting.’
- Portability – Portability is an issue, and if you ever decide to leave, you will likely lose all of the SEO rankings that you’ve worked so hard to build.
- Limited Customization Options – The ability to customize your blog as you grow will be severely limited with a free blog host.
Is Free Blog Hosting For You?
If you seriously have $0 to invest in your blog, then free blog hosting may be your only option. In that case, it’s better to get started than to do nothing. You’ll learn how to blog and whether or not you truly want to be a blogger before investing any money.
If you must go with ‘free’ blog hosting, then I do recommend that you stick with WordPress.com for the simple reason that when you do decide to upgrade to a Managed or Self-Hosted WordPress option, all of your content can go with you unlike some of the other free services – ahem… Blogger which is Googles free blogging service. Stay away from that one. It hasn’t been updated in a while, and there’s a rumor that it will be retired.
Self-Hosted WordPress is on the opposite extreme from free blog hosting. It’s incredibly flexible, and you can do almost anything you want with your blog. But, you have to do everything yourself.
While most traditional web hosting companies support WordPress these days and many of them offer “one-click” installation of WordPress, that’s where it ends. You’ll still need to do ALL of the setup and configuration yourself. I only recommend the self-hosted option for very experienced bloggers who are comfortable with the techie aspects of WordPress.
Pros Of Self-Hosted WordPress
- It’s Free – WordPress is open source, so it’s entirely free to download, install, and customize.
- Easy To Set Up – The user interface is incredibly easy to learn and use.
- Highly Customizable – You have control over every aspect of your blog/website and can set it up to be anything you like from a simple blog, an online store, or even a complex membership site.
- Grows As You Grow – Your blog can grow with you as your business grows – there are currently more than 45,000 plugins in the WordPress repository to do just about anything you want to do with your blog.
- Incredibly Portable – Export or backup your site at the touch of a button.
- Make Money – You can quickly and easily monetize your site in any way you choose.
Cons of Self-Hosted WordPress
- Web Hosting Is Extra – You will need to get your own web hosting account, but most hosting companies offer one-click WordPress installation these days.
- Updates & Backups – You will be responsible for your own updates and backups.
- Premium Themes & Plugins – While the software is free, there is an extra cost for premium plugins and themes.
- Site Speed & SEO – SEO and speed optimization are only available through third-party plugins and services, and you’ll have to figure it out on your own.
- Security – You’re responsible for security updates and patches.
- Limited Support – Support is through the WordPress forums only. If you need more help, you’ll need to reach out to a WordPress expert. However, the WordPress website has tons of articles written specifically for beginner level WordPress users. They have detailed step-by-step guides on how to install WordPress and hundreds of other helpful WordPress tutorials.
Is Self-Hosted WordPress For You?
Self-hosted WordPress is for experienced bloggers who know there way around the technology and don’t mind doing all of the WordPress setup tasks and managing the backend updates themselves.
So if you’re feeling pretty techie, roll up your sleeves and get started! You can download the latest version of WordPress here: https://wordpress.org/download/
Where To Host Your Self-Hosted WordPress Installation
There are literally 1000’s of hosting companies out there, and I’m not going to get into all the detailed comparisons of all the possible options, but I have personally used and can recommend the 3 below. They are all incredibly stable, reliable, and provide excellent customer service.
I’m not a hardcore techie and prefer that someone else manage all of the backend techie stuff for me, so these days I use what’s known as Managed WordPress Hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting is where your hosting company manages all of the technical aspects of WordPress. This includes things like WordPress updates, backups, security, and server management. It takes away all of that techie stuff so that you can focus on your blog and growing your business, but you still get a lot of freedom and flexibility as to how to configure your WordPress installation.
Pros Of Managed WordPress Hosting
- Site Speed And Reliability – The backend servers and network are optimized specifically for WordPress so your site will be blazing fast, even if you get a big traffic spike.
- Enhanced Security – Because WordPress is so popular (they claim that 28% of the web uses WordPress as of the publish date of this guide), they have a giant target on their back for hackers. With managed WordPress Hosting, you will not have to worry about security. They will make sure that your site is totally secure and protected from all those security threats.
- Incredible Support – You will get fantastic support from a team of WordPress experts. Need help installing plugins, changing your theme, or just understanding how WordPress works, they’ve got you covered.
- Daily Backups – No need to worry about backing up your site. They take care of this for you – but you can still do a manual backup anytime you choose.
- Automatic Updates – You also don’t have to worry about WordPress updates and security patches because those are also done automatically.
Cons Of Managed WordPress Hosting
- Cost – Most companies start at around $30 per month for Managed WordPress Hosting. For what you are getting – a team of techie folks at your disposal – it’s not a bad price. But, when you’re just getting starting with a new blogging business, that still feels like a lot.
- Limited To WordPress – Duh… This is ‘WordPress’ hosting… I don’t really think this is a con, but I had to add to the list because it is a limitation.
- Limited Control Over The Technical Details Of Your Blog – That’s the whole point right? Someone else is handling all of the techie stuff. However, where you’re going to feel this is when you find that really cool related posts plugin and come to learn that you cannot install it because it’s on the list of ‘forbidden’ plugins. Now, it’s on that list for a reason, but just keep in mind that with Managed WordPress Hosting, there will be limitations on the plugins and themes that you can add to your blog.
- WordPress Layout And Design – While Managed WordPress Hosting is a step in the right direction, you’ll still have to do all of the layout and design of your blog. This includes things like finding the right theme and necessary plugins, configuring those themes and plugins, finding images for your posts, and handling all of the onsite and in-content SEO optimizations. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could do all of that for you as well so that you can really focus on just growing your business?
Is Managed WordPress Hosting Right For You?
Managed WordPress Hosting is the perfect fit for experienced bloggers who just don’t want to mess with the techie side of things. This will allow you to focus on growing and building your business while someone else manages security, uptime, and site speed.
Concierge WordPress Hosting
This is where I come in… Just imagine all of the benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting, PLUS the added bonus of letting someone else find the right theme and best plugins for your business, configure those themes and plugins, find images for your posts, and handle all of the onsite and in-content SEO optimizations. Wouldn’t that make your life so much easier?
And here’s the real advantage of Concierge Blog Hosting – I WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL, MONEY-MAKING BLOGGER. I will serve as your personal mentor and coach on your blogging journey. You won’t find that anywhere else!
Let me help you so that you can focus your efforts on blogging and growing your business.
7 Tips For Finding The Perfect Domain Name
This is one of the leading places where new bloggers get entirely STUCK! Yes, your domain name is significant, but it’s not the end of the world if you are not able to get the exact domain you want. These 7 tips will help you find the perfect domain name.
I highly recommend GoDaddy as your domain registrar. They get 5 stars across the board, and they even have a really cheap WordPress hosting option (only recommended if you are comfortable with WordPress and OK managing your own plugins and themes.)
Here are 7 tips for finding the perfect domain name.
1. Make sure the domain name is easy to pronounce and spell.
Say the domain name out loud – repeat it 3 times really fast. Did you find yourself stumbling over your words? That means your domain name is too complicated to pronounce and in turn will be difficult to remember accurately.
Make sure your domain name is also easy to spell. Call your 3 closest friends and ask them to spell your domain name. If they struggle, so will your blog followers.
2. Your domain name should short – at least as short a possible.
Shorter is always better. Think of the most popular domains – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter – all of these domains are short and easy to pronounce.
However, it’s getting more and more challenging to find the short domain names – at least without paying a hefty sum of money to purchase them.
The new trend seems to be using misspelled words to get that short domain name – i.e., Toggl, Designrr, etc. I personally don’t recommend it because as much as I love these services, I still can’t spell the domain name correctly! And if a competitor owns a variation of that domain, guess what? Yep, your potential visitors will end up on your competitor’s site instead of yours.
3. Use your primary keywords in the domain.
To me, this is more important than the length of the domain name. The primary purpose of your domain name is to tell your readers and the search engines what your blog is about. You can use your actual name if you’re goal is to build a personal brand, or if you’re creating recipe site, include that in the domain name. E.g. “authenticlatinrecipes.com” – while the name is not short, it’s obvious what the blog is about.
4. “.com” still wins.
There are 100’s of domain extensions today, but “.com” domains are still by far the most common and the most popular.
5. Do not use numbers or hyphens in your domain name.
Technically, you are allowed to use hyphens and numbers in your domain name, but just like misspellings and other domain extensions, they can easily be mistyped or misspelled, so just don’t use them.
6. Make your domain name memorable.
I don’t recommend selecting a domain name like Amazon or Zappos (unless you have an insanely large marketing budget), but it should still be memorable.
Brainstorm a list of ideas and then narrow it down to the top 3-5 options. Send your top choices to your friends and people whose opinion you trust. I also recommend running your thoughts by your target market. Different words and phrases will resonate better with different niches and age groups.
7. Do your market research.
Search for your proposed domain name, and even your new blog’s title on the Internet, social media sites, and in various trademark directories. The last thing you want to do is find that perfect domain name, only to realize in 6 month’s that you’re competing with a major brand.
Get Your Perfect Domain Name Now
Why wait? Get your perfect domain name now, before someone else grabs it – and yes, that actually happens. If you need help choosing a domain name, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to help.
Setup / Customize Your Blog
Once you’ve found a reliable blog hosting company, bought and mapped your domain name, it’s time to get your blog set up so that you can actually start blogging. (Remember, if you get stuck… Free blog setup is included in my Concierge Blogging Service.)
Here are the steps to set up your blog.
The good news is that most hosting companies today provide one-click installation of WordPress, and if you go with Managed or Concierge WordPress hosting, then it’s already done for you.
If you do find yourself in the situation where you need to do it yourself, WordPress provides step-by-step instructions on their website.
Mapping Your Domain
Purchasing a domain name and installing WordPress are only the first steps – and it’s where most people leave you hanging, but I’m not going to do that.
You’ll still need to actually connect your domain to your blog. This is a VERY techie thing for most people, but with some patience, you can get it done.
I’m going to provide instructions for GoDaddy, WP Engine, and CloudFlare because that’s who I use to manage my domains. If you get stuck, just reach out to the respective support teams, and I’m sure they’ll be able to help.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for connecting your GoDaddy Domain to your blog that is hosted on WP Engine using CloudFlare to manage your DNS records. How’s that for a mouthful?!? (This is another thing I do for my Concierge Blogging customers.)
Purchase A Premium WordPress Theme
One of the impressive features of WordPress is that you can completely change the way your blog looks with the click of a button. There’s no need to hire a developer or pay thousands of dollars for a new custom theme design.
Pro Tip #1 – Do not pay your hard earned money for a costly ‘custom’ theme design. It’s just not worth it when there are tons of free and reasonable priced themes in the WordPress repository that will do the job nicely.
While free themes are an inexpensive way to get started, how do know which ones are actually reliable, fast, and well-coded? The last thing you want is a sluggish blog that looks really bad on mobile devices!
My recommendation is that you go with what’s called a Premium WordPress Theme. A Premium WordPress Theme will typically cost you between $35 – $100, but it’s well worth the price because these themes are well-written, look great on all devices, and are supported by qualified developers. Having said that, if money is an issue, go ahead and start with a free theme – I highly recommend the default WordPress theme. They release a new one every year, and you know they will be excellent themes.
Pro Tip #2 – The success of your blog has far more to do with the content that you put into it than it does with the actual theme or design. Don’t make the mistake of putting a fancy design before solid, well-produced content. Start with a clean, simple WordPress theme that allows you to focus on content first.
I personally use and recommend StudioPress Themes because they are high quality and well supported. I’ve worked with the folks at StudioPress for years and know that whatever they put out will be excellent! (This site is using the Smart Passive Income Pro Theme)
Let me know if you need help selecting the best theme for your blog. I’ll be happy to help!
Oh, and by the way…
If you’re one of my Concierge Blogging Customers, you get any of the themes offered by StudioPress Themes at no cost (including the select 3rd party themes provided on their site). Like I said, I’ve been working with them for years. 🙂
Configure Your Theme Settings To Make It Actually Look Like That Beautiful Demo You Saw On The Designer’s Website
Another reason for going with a Premium WordPress Theme is that the designers will provide step-by-step instructions for setting up the theme. If you go with a free WordPress theme, there will be no setup instructions, and you’ll be on your own when it comes to setting up your blog. That’s just a bad idea. I don’t care how awesome the ‘demo’ looks on the designer’s website. When you first activate the theme, it’s going to look like an empty shell, or worse, completely broken! You’ll need to set up all of the widgets and content areas to get even close to the demo.
Every WordPress theme comes with its own set of customization options, so you may install your new theme and find yourself completely stuck with no idea where to go. Having those step-by-step instructions will make the difference between utter frustration and quickly getting your blog set up the way you want.
Again, I recommend starting with a simple, clean theme in the beginning. Once you have at least 20 published posts with images, then you can change to a more complex theme. If you try to do it before then, you’ll just be disappointed when the new theme does not look like you had hoped. :/
Recommended WordPress Plugins That Every Blogger Should Have
The next step is to install the WordPress plugins you’ll need to be a successful blogger. You’ll need plugins to handle things like managing images, SEO optimization, setting up email subscribe forms, and adding social media buttons, just to name a few…
WordPress plugins I use and recommend:
- Advanced Ads
- Easy Affiliate Links
- Google Analytics
- Smush Image Optimization
- Yoast SEO
And, if you’re one of my Concierge Blogging Customers, guess what? I’ll be happy to install and configure all of my recommended WordPress plugins for you – and any other plugins you feel you need to make your blog awesome.
Set Up Your Blog’s Navigation: Categories & Menus
Site structure is essential for SEO. Site structure is how your site is organized and includes things like categories, menus, and tags. Your site structure helps the search engines determine what your site is about and how much traffic to send you.
How do they do this? Well, they start with your top-level menu. I like to call this menu the “Category Menu” as it should contain the top 3-5 categories that you blog about.
What you choose to put in this menu lets Google, and your readers know what your site is about and how to find their way around.
The categories that you choose to put in this menu should be popular search terms with enough traffic to justify using them in your site’s primary navigation – so take some time to do your research!
4 Tips For Setting Up Your Category Menu
- Select the top 3-5 high-level categories that you will use most.
- Use subcategories if you need more than 5 categories.
- Category names should be no more than 1-2 words.
- Include your primary keyword(s) in the category name where it fits – don’t force it!
Sample Category Layout
Here’s a sample category layout for a blog about dogs… because I love dogs 🙂
Here’s the sample category layout…
- Dog Breeds
- German Shepherds
- Dog Food
- Traditional Dog Food (Kibble)
- Raw Diets For Dogs
- Natural Dog Treats
- Dog Training
- New Puppy Training
- Dealing With Aggression
- Leash Training
How To Add Categories To Your WordPress Blog
- From the WordPress dashboard, select Posts > Categories
- Enter the name of the Category (Remeber to keep it short, 1-2 words, because it will be displayed in your top-level “Category Menu”)
- Optionally, enter the Slug (this will be shown in the URL of the category). The slug will be auto-generated for you if you leave it blank – this is my recommendation.
- Optionally, select the Parent Category if this is a Subcategory.
- Enter an optional description for the Category here. NOTE: Most blog themes do not display this information, so I recommend leaving it blank unless you know your theme will show it.
- Click “Add New Category”
Next, we’ll need to add these categories to the Category Menu so they will actually show up on your live site.
How To Add A Menu To Your WordPress Blog
For most themes, you must set up a new menu so that your categories will show up in your site’s navigation.
You’re not just limited to categories in the navigation menus. You can link to posts, pages, archive pages, and even add custom links that will go to any URL you choose to like your Twitter profile.
NOTE: You can only add published posts and pages to your menu. Draft and private pages will not show up and cannot be linked.
Suggested Menu And Navigation Layout
I recommend keeping pages separate from post categories. This is not required, but I have found that it makes things easier to understand for you and your visitors.
- Pages usually contain static content that does not change – Think of your Home, About, and Contact Us pages…
- Categories are used to group and organize your posts. You can think of your category structure as the table of contents for your blog.
Grouping pages and posts in separate menus will make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for.
Here’s how to create and publish the Category Menu. The written steps are immediately below, but I’ve also included a short video after the written steps.
How To Create A Category Menu
- In the WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance > Menus.
- Select “Create A New Menu.”
- Enter “Category Menu” in the Menu Name field.
- Click the “Create Menu” button.
How To Add Categories To The Category Menu
- Select the “Categories” tab.
- Then, select “View All” to bring up a complete list of categories.
- Check the box next to the categories that you want to include in the Category Menu.
- Click the “Add to Menu” button at the bottom of the current tab to add the selected categories to the menu.
When you add categories to the menu, the category/subcategory structure gets lost – very annoying, and I’m hoping WordPress fixes this soon!
But not to worry, it’s easy to get the structure back…
Just drag and drop the individual subcategories toward the right until the dashed line moves into position. Then, ‘drop’ it. You can also reorder the menu items if needed using the same drag-and-drop approach.
Step-By-Step Video: Create The Category Menu
How To Write Your First Blog Post
“How do I write my first post?” and “What should it be about?” are the 2 very common questions I get from brand new bloggers.
The answer, while it may sound too easy, is: Write your “About Me” page first. Seriously, you already know all there is to know about you, so let’s start there.
Write Your “About Me” Page First
This should be easy so don’t make it hard. 🙂
- Introduce yourself.
- Tell your readers why you decided to start blogging.
- Tell them what your blog will be about.
- Let them know what to expect – like how often you will post, and if you’ll include videos or short stories, etc.
- Let your readers know how they can reach you. Include a contact form and links to your social media accounts.
- Include some links to your best posts.
- Lastly, get your readers to opt-in to your email list.
What’s Your Blogging Style?
Are you left-brained, structured, and organized or are you and artsy, creative, and fluid?
You’re “About Me” page lets people get to know you and understand what to expect from you so make sure that you use the same “writing style” here that you will use for the rest of your articles.
Regardless of your writing style, this is my recommended structure for your shorter articles. We’ll get into Cornerstone Content like this article) in another post.
- Use an engaging headline. “About Me” is just so dull!
- Add a short introductory paragraph to let your readers know how much awesomeness they will get from the rest of the article
- Write 3-5 Subheadings that include your main keywords when possible. People like to ‘skim’ when reading online so your subheadings should be a short and engaging summary of the article. If they enjoy your subheadings, they will go back and read the details, but if all they see is a ton of condensed text, your readers will likely just leave.
- Add no more than 2-3 paragraphs under each subheading. This creates lots of visual white space and makes it easier on the eyes when reading on smaller devices. The highly rated Yoast SEO tool recommends no more than 250 words between subheadings.
- Close it out with a summary and strong call to action. Yes, you should have a CTA (call to action) in every post you write including your about page.
This short article template is simple and just works, so use it for every article you write!
Starting a blog is just the first step in becoming a successful blogger. I hope this guide has helped with that part.
Now on to the good stuff…
The theory behind making money online is not complicated. In fact, it’s ridiculously simple.
This is all you need to do…
- Create a blog (we just did that! :))
- Get tons of traffic.
- Grow an email list of loyal subscribers.
- Send relevant offers to your subscribers that they want to buy.
Seriously, that’s the process. I know it’s scary, but I’m here with you at every step!
This is the first article in “How To Start A Blog And Make Money Online” series.
In the meantime, if you need some extra help getting your blog started, take a look at the helpful services I offer just for new bloggers.