If you want to start a blog that earns in 2021, then you need strategy and a step-by-step roadmap.
Table of content (7 steps to succeed)
- #1 Mistake I Must Avoid.
- Find My Positioning or Brand.
- Book My Online Space.
- Install WordPress with One Click.
- Sign Up for Affiliate Programs
- Build My Own List
- Grow My Blog
Blogging is an adventure.
It’s no more slapping some text… and having the Keys to the Kingdom.
So pull up a chair, pour some coffee, and get ready to learn and experience YOUR blogging success.
Make sure you bookmark this page, and come back to it again and again.
Disclaimer: Some of the products I am recommending in this article include affiliate links, which may provide us with a small commission at no cost to you. It’s a way for us to support our website. This article contains all of our best ways to earn money online and includes all the tricks, techniques, along with products and software we recommend. You can read our affiliate disclosure.
First, the bitter truth:
#1 Mistake I avoid
Why do most blogs fail? Because the blogger — the heart of the business — take this as a “hobby”. And that’s the same reason why most businesses fail.
Here’s an example:
And what I’ve figured that most bloggers ask certain patterns of questions which lead to overwhelm.
And then to failure. Whereas successful bloggers ask a completely different set of questions leading to success.
Here’s what I mean.
Questions leading to overwhelm and failure
Many bloggers ask this;
“Is this economy right?”
“I ain’t no writer?”
“Which keywords bring a flood of traffic?”
“I feel like a fraud”
Unexpected questions that bring amazing results
“How do I publish the best content?”
“How do I make small progress today?”
“What if I get free publicity?”
“What if a book publisher or a TV producer wants to connect with me?”
“What if someone from the President’s family sees my work?”
Bottom line: start with a winning mindset. And success is guaranteed. As money is a byproduct.
Consider these success stories:
But, Ain’t Blogging dead in 2021?
Fortunately, the traditional blogging is dead.
By that I mean the online journaling kind of thing where people post random content.
Here I analyzed Google Trends for three terms from 2004.
To the untrained eye it may seem blogs are dying – just like newspapers.
But dive deeper. The personal-journaling kind of blogging (like Tumblr) is a dying trend.
Whereas bloggers who post strategic content are thriving.
- 77% of internet users read blogs.
- Adding a blog to your existing website can increase traffic as much as 434%
- Content Marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
- Users spend 3X more time on blogs than on emails.
I wouldn’t call these numbers to be – a dying medium.
Watch blogging alive and kicking on WordPress.com/activity
Clearly, there is room for more.
Blog like an ‘Artisanal Business’
I learned this from Ramit Sethi, who runs a very successful blog.
You know, whereas blogs built with haphazardly produced content die a quick death.
Artisanal Business – provides value, not just information.
Look at any painter. She leaves no stone unturned to make it the best painting out there. That’s the kind of commitment you inject into your content and blog.
For that kind of consistent commitment, first you must have your why.
Pen down your why? Why you do you want to blog?
As you know, if it’s just about money. It may not last.
I’m NOT saying you won’t reach your goals, but the satisfaction of creating something wonderful might not be there.
For me, it’s about:
- Gaining organic traffic.
- Improving my craft.
- Building business.
- And building my legacy.
STEP#2: Find your positioning or branding to start a blog
At this point, you probably have the right mindset. But the next thing can make or break your blog.
When I work one-on-one, this is the first thing we settle on.
Most people are stuck with two ugly problems
- “I can’t figure out my niche. I’ve no idea.”
- “I’ve got so many ideas. I can’t settle on one thing.”
And those lists of 50 hot niches for 2021 makes it even worse. Earlier, I juggled among 4-5 hot-niches and failed at each one.
Believe it or not, the solution is simple.
It’s not just about your niche. It’s about your story, your branding, your positioning.
This is what separates you from the vast blogosphere.
Story for my blog is simple: “I’m an Indian copywriter, an entrepreneur, and a father.”
And as you know my content has a DIY, fatherly, retro, or artistic taste to it.
With millions of Digital Marketing blogs, I’m a blip on the radar. But this is how I want bots (AI) and humans to understand me.
And this is what we are going to define for you.
- However, separating yourself just for the sake of it doesn’t work.
- Stay true to your personality.
- Move ahead even if things are not perfect.
First, settle on a mega-niche
Simply stated, how would you like to be known? Entrepreneurship is about asking, “What’s missing in this picture?”
And a heck lot of things are missing in these 4 mega-niches.
- Personal Development (PD)
NOTE: Personal Development includes ‘Art & Crafts’, DIY, and anything which involves personal learning or enjoyment.
Two ways to go about selecting your mega-niche:
- Go inside, meditate, and find your calling.
- Or look outside, observe, and find the “problems” you can solve.
That’s it. No need to throw a dart.
Select one. Just one to begin with.
Second, brainstorm a sub-niche
At the outset, I agree it’s difficult.
For now, you can just go with a mega-niche. But sub-niche is about finding a small group of people you can help.
This is especially helpful when you have a product to launch.
If you’re a health coach for busy women executives. Your positioning could be, “I’m a weight loss coach – and I hate gyms.” For men, you could say, “I’m a muscle gain coach. And I hate steroids.”
Again, find the problems you can fix. Money will be a byproduct.
Why write down a blog’s vision and mission
Now, this is really funny. I was talking to a guy and he was changing directions like a rabbit chased by a pack of ferocious dogs.
One day he was a Vegan Coach. Next, he is a Funnel Hacker. Then he wants to be a Pro Copywriter. Finally, he wants to have a Digital Agency.
I see a perfect recipe of FAILURE.
Stay at ONE thing.
Best people recommend you write it down and paste it somewhere you can see daily.
And COMMIT to it.
I keep mine as my desktop background (hint). Now let’s move on to the technical stuff (made easy).
STEP #3: Book my online space
First, own the platform.
NEVER allow others to control your business. This allows growth to depend on you – not others.
Frankly, owning is so cheap. In fact, you can have your domain name for free for a year.
A domain name is basically your website’s name. Mine is MohinishNirwal.com. Always — I repeat – ALWAYS try to pick your name (MyName.com) as a domain.
Advantages of selecting name domain?
- Name inspires trust (which is scarce online).
- You can branch into any niche or sub-niche anytime.
- Your blog has a human face. It’s no more just another “company”.
Checkout if it’s available or try alternate spellings.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
To start a blog, go with .com TLD
Notice how my ‘internet address’ ends with MohinishNirwal.com. It’s called TLDs and they have got 1,584 TLDs! (Like .us, .in .me)
Even though you can go crazy with TLDs… and nobody…
…I mean absolutely – nobody – will ever type your domain in their browser. But even then I recommend going with “.com” TLD simply because this is the most memorable extension.
Plus, the security level of newer extensions might be questionable.
Get your domain (FREE for 1-year)
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through.
When you go to the BlueHost Website and click on the “Domains” link you’ll be asked to pay for it. I searched for my wife domain name — ReenaNirwal. And here’s what happened.
Simply, follow the next step and they’ll eat that cost for you.
Find an online home for your blog
“Hosting.” It’s like your online home.
The words you are reading on your screen were sent to you through my hosting company. I didn’t do anything apart from typing them on my screen.
To start a blog you need a decent host. I’ve got a lot of bad experience with local hosting websites so believe me on this.
There’s no point if your host needs you to become a nerd.
There are dozens of web hosting companies. Some of them are premium and some decent for a start-up blog.
Consider these factors when selecting a web hosting company:
- Good Uptime (at least 99%)
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Good security
- High-speed servers
- 1-Click WordPress Installation
- No Contracts (Money Back Guarantee)
- FREE SSL certificate
- Doesn’t penalize you to grow (Unmetered bandwidth)
- Recommended by WordPress and experts
- BONUS: FREE Domain (works with the one-year hosting plan)
STEP #1: Visit BlueHost Website
Step#2: Click the green ‘Get Started’ button.
Step#3: Choose Your Plan.
You can go with “Choose Plus” because of those four add-ons.
‘Backup’ allows you to sleep well at night knowing if something breaks or you click the wrong button you always have the backup.
Plus, your information like address, email, phone number will always be private.
But if you’re unsure then go for the Basic plan. As you can always upgrade whenever you need more add-ons.
- Sign up for the Bluehost if you’ve not done yet. Now things are getting serious.
Step #4: Enter your Domain or choose “I’ll Create my Domain Later”
Choosing “I’ll create my domain later” allows you to think about your domain name.
On the next screen feed your details, select your package, enter your payment details.
You can also pay with PayPal.
Complete your account set up as prompted. And you’re ready to start blogging.
STEP 4: Install WordPress with one-click
Thumbs up for the great work so far!
Next, a few more buttons to click.
If you’re not tech-savvy, this might seem a bit intimidating. However, if you’ve followed up until this step then this is extremely simple.
WAIT! Escape future blogging troubles
WordPress comes in two different options:
Frankly, I love both. But the best bloggers (LIKE ME) use one.
Don’t confuse between the two:
The bottom line is, WordPress.org gives you greater control and freedom.
You can add a beautiful theme (I use this one), use a beautiful font, or use any custom settings the way you like.
Whereas — behold yourself — WordPress.com has limited features. You must use the themes or add-ons they provide. For these reasons, I feel it should be limited to portfolio websites.
But if you care to start a blog, to grow, and to monetize it then the best option is WordPress.org.
With Bluehost as your hosting platform, you’ll be able to install the right version of WordPress with a click.
After successfully creating your Bluehost account, you will also receive an email guiding you to log in. Proceed ahead.
On the first log in, you get a simple Wizard that you follow to install WordPress on your new website.
If you do not see the wizard, simply navigate to My Sites on the left-hand side of the Bluehost account and choose Create Site to open the wizard.
Enter details like site name and tagline (you can change them later).
Other details include username and password for managing the WordPress blog.
And voila… you’re ready to blog.
Pick the right theme
Now comes one of the most important part.
You can brainstorm and go “Steve Jobs” over the look, feel, and brand of your blog.
But before you go wild, remember one thing.
- Users appreciate beautiful websites… which load fast (or INSTANTLY).
- Some of the best money pulling websites look simple (HINT: Google)
I personally prefer light-weight themes. Because they load extremely fast.
I’ve seen websites taking 10 seconds to load. And they are horribly heavy.
According to one estimate, a delay of one second can cost Amazon $1.6 Billion a year.
Plus, page-speed is important for SEO.
Imagine, advertising… and the page is always loading for many users… This can be extremely expensive.
Because your cost per lead can skyrocket.
One theme that you might want to explore is:
GeneratePress by Tom Usborne
And with over 2.5 million downloads, it’s highly recommended.
- Good for SEO
- Create basic landing pages (see this example)
- Nice support
- Good for single-author blogs.
How to install the GP theme
Once you get the GeneratePress Premium, download the GP Premium Plugin.
Head over to your blog, click Plugins >> Upload Plugin >> Choose File.
Locate the .zip you just downloaded.
Click through the prompts. And done.
Meanwhile, if you want to try any other theme then follow the following process. Otherwise go to the next stage.
How to install any WordPress theme (if you’ve got other theme)
Log in to your WordPress
Hover the cursor on Appearance (on the left-hand side)
Click Add New
Click Add New.
Then Upload Theme >> Choose File.
Locate the .zip theme file. Click through the prompts and done.
When done installing the theme, click on Activate to place it on your site.
PRO TIP: You can also search for free themes inside this functionality. But I’d NOT recommend for many reasons:
- You never know how light or heavy they are.
- Could be broken. Plus, may have security issues.
- Offer limited benefits.
- I tried a few — but got frustrated.
Must-have WordPress plugins
This is a very simple and very important process. Because Plugins make WordPress the most powerful software to run blogs.
If you’ve installed GeneratePress Premium then you know how to install other plugins.
Important plugins to consider
Some are paid.
|Yoast SEO |
|SEO||Handles On-page and technical SEO for organic traffic. Highly recommended. I use Rank Math.|
(Ease of Use: Advanced)
|WP Rocket||(Light-) Speed.||Highly recommended. |
Increases speed, lazy load images, etc.
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|ShortPixel||Image Optimization||Optimize Images and delivers them over the CDN.|
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|GDPR Cookie Consent||Legal stuff||Every site owner ought to pay attention to this especially if your clients are based in the EU.|
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|Easy Table of Contents||Table of Contents.||The easiest way to create ‘Table of Contents’. This gives your readers a glimpse of the page.|
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|Contact page||I use |
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|UpDraftPlus||Back Up||Having an extra back up copy (60 days backup recommend by Sucuri) of your website gives you extra peace of mind.|
(Ease of Use: Intermediate)
|GetResponse||Grow List, Landing pages||You must have an account to use.|
Build your own lists.
Pop-ups. Exit intent.
Landing page. And much more.
(Ease of Use: Beginner)
|WPS Hide Login||Security||Switch your WordPress Admin Login page URL to discourage hackers. You must note down the new login URL otherwise you’ll be locked out.|
Meanwhile, if any of this sounds like rocket science then hire someone from Fiverr for 10 bucks. And it’ll be done.
Although, if you do it once. Then you’ll always be able to handle it with ease – without waiting for anyone to help you out.
Upload your first blog post
You have come a long way. Cheers!
Wait a minute! Should you upload a “POST” or a “PAGE”?
I know that confusion. Let’s deal:
- Used for Static Content (like Contact page, Home, About page, etc.).
- Timeless content
- Email-list will not be auto-updated for new pages.
- Used for Blog posts (Any content post like this page).
- Timed content (date of publish or modification is stamped).
- Email-list will be auto-updated for NEW blog posts (needs RSS set-up or Pabbly).
Create your first draft
Feeling excited? This is the time you have been waiting for.
You can upload your draft in three ways.
The first approach is to click on the “Add a blog post” on the dashboard.
Alternatively, you can click the +New icon at the top or just click the “Post” on the far left.
You’ll land on this editor.
- Carefully craft your title, incorporating the keywords
- Put multi-media content like video, pictures, infographics, checklist, etc.
- Add keywords in the post
- Select the category in which the blog will fall
- Upload and Select a featured image
- ALWAYS “SAVE” YOUR WORK.
- ‘Preview’ your post.
- Once the post is ready, hit “Publish“.
- Promote your blog post.
Now that’s just a beginning. To get the most, use these 2 things:
- Have an editorial calendar that pushes you to publish content regularly.
- Use Copywriting to understand what people need and to make the content stand out.
STEP #5: Sign up for Affiliate Programs
Affiliate Programs (like Amazon, eBay, etc.) allows you to earn commissions from sales you make through your blog. Remember, your users do NOT pay anything extra. It’s the company that pays a fee in the hopes of turning profit when users stick with them.
So always send them the very best leads.
Almost every company has an Affiliate Program (referral or reward program). Examples, Amazon, Airbnb, Adobe, TripAdvisor, eBay.
Having said that, the best way to earn is with your own product. And it doesn’t take much either.
For now, we’ll stick with Affiliate Programs only.
But before you send your affiliate application
- Publish at least 3-5 articles on your blog.
And then my affiliate applications got rejected even though I had some content.
Do NOT feel dejected if your Application is rejected.
I instantly wrote back to gain a better understanding. And immediately sorted things out.
There’re hundreds of affiliate programs. And then you can always join them later.
STEP #6: Build my own list
But here’s some free but useful advice:
Imagine having an email list you can shoot your blog post to or send your product pitches to.
Money is in the list. Said someone rich.
I see a lot of people missing this part. Or even ignoring it.
It’s sad how people ignore this when all you need is ‘1000 True Fans’ to earn money.
And your true fans come to you when you’re starting out.
That’s why email marketing is a priority for every successful blog.
The best way for a beginner is to go with Getresponse.
It gives you the flexibility to
- Send unlimited Emails to your list.
- Create landing pages.
- Install opt-in forms.
- Have a funnel, etc.
- Plus, the 24*7 chat support is a life-saver for beginners.
STEP#7: Grow my blog
Here’s what you’ve accomplished:
- Defined your Niche
- Defined your positioning
- Created a roadmap
- Bought your domain
- Installed WordPress
- Uploaded your first blog
- Signed up for Affiliate Programs
- Built your list
You deserve a virtual pat on your back.
You’ve truly come a long way. And it’s time to grow and scale your blog.
For success, you may want to hire freelancers — but that may require capital. Plus, since I freelance too, I can tell you most people are NOT able to tap into a freelancer’s full power.
Plus, finding the right freelancer is NOT easy.
The initial success of your blog depends a lot on you. The humble Calendar comes to the rescue.
Tap into the power of calendar
The best way to grow your blog is by increasing a few skills like Copywriting, Guest-posting, and Traffic. And you can use the calendar to make progress and then earn money from your blog.
Lastly, understand that blogging is a beautiful way to grow your business, earn clients, gather fans, and make money.
It’s like dating.
It may take some time to succeed. But when you start to see results… you’re going to be on cloud nine.