If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place.
This extremely detailed guide will walk you through every major step, from setting up your website to creating content, growing an audience, and making money. It’s all here.
These are the exact steps I followed to start and grow my blog from zero to more than 500,000 unique monthly readers, all while building a thriving, profitable business on top of it.
I know there’s plenty of blogging advice out there, but my goal here is to provide a comprehensive and actionable guide that will help you finally start building the blog of your dreams by walking you through every single step.
By the end, you’ll not only have a live website up and running—but you’ll have all the tools and strategies you need to make it a success.
There’s a lot of information here, so please feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it in the future!
Why Should You Start A Blog?
Before we get started, let’s talk about why you would want to do this. What exactly do you get out of building a blog?
Well, there are several common motivations:
- To build a business — A blog can be the center of a low-overhead, location-independent, profitable business. Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been cheaper or easier to start your own business.
- To grow an existing business — Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive your business forward, and a blog is a tried and true format. Many of the world’s biggest companies and brands are now using digital content to market their products and services, so you’ll be in great company if you do the same.
- To showcase your expertise — If you want to position yourself as a thought leader or expert, blogging is an excellent way to do it. I know people who have used their blogs as leverage to land jobs, and others who have used them to launch careers in public speaking. And if you have aspirations to publish a book one day, a blog is a great place to start.
- To build valuable relationships — Blogging can help you become an active member of your community and build relationships with people you want to reach. For me personally, blogging has helped me meet so many new friends and connections in the tech and business world. It’s amazing how many people you can meet organically just by becoming an active voice in the community.
- To do work you love — If you’re passionate about your topic, you may find that writing about it is just a lot of fun for its own sake. Even if you don’t consider yourself a great writer, the process of researching, talking to people, and sharing ideas is incredibly fulfilling.
Starting a blog was the best career move I ever made, and I’d love to help you do the same.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Finding Your Niche
Let’s step back for a moment.
Aspiring bloggers often spend way too much time thinking about web hosting, content management systems, themes, plugins, and all the other technical aspects of blogging—without taking time to think about a content strategy.
Don’t get me wrong—all of that stuff is important, and we’re going to cover all of it in this guide. But it’s important to remember that technology is just a tool—it’s not the destination.
Your #1 concern when it comes to starting a blog should be your content. No one is going to read your blog just because you have a cool WordPress theme. Sure, design is important—but your content has to come first.
With that in mind, the first critical decision you’ll need to consider is what to blog about. This is commonly known as your “niche.”
Your niche is defined by a specific topic you want to cover, and/or a specific audience you want to serve.
Why should you choose a niche?
Choosing a niche can be scary.
After all, by doing so, you are intentionally limiting the size of your potential audience.
But the fact is, focusing on a specific topic—or a specific audience—will allow you to position yourself as an authority and grow much more quickly than if you tried to be everything for everyone.
Choosing a niche gives your blog focus. It’s the basis for many of the other decisions you’ll make down the line—from design to content, promotion, and monetization.
How to find your perfect blogging niche
When you choose a niche, you want to find something that’s specific enough for you to carve out an audience for yourself—but broad enough that a large enough audience actually exists.
More importantly, you want something that you’ll be able to write about on a consistent basis—so it should be something you’re particularly passionate or knowledgeable about. An easy test is to ask yourself whether you could write at least 100 blog posts on your topic.
For example, my first successful blog covered technology, with a specific focus on innovation and startup companies. I’ve always liked technology, and I’ve always had entrepreneurial tendencies, so writing about those things was a really natural fit.
If you’re reading this guide, you probably have at least a vague idea of what you want to blog about…
But if you’re unsure, here are a couple of approaches you can use to uncover your perfect niche:
Start with things you’re interested in or passionate about.
When I say that, you may have one or two things that pop into your mind right away—or you may be totally blanking! That’s okay. Give the following exercises a try:
- If you do a lot of online shopping, go to your Amazon order history and take a look at the kinds of things you’re buying on a regular basis.
- If you like to read, take a look at the books you own. You may notice some patterns there.
- If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube, go into your YouTube history and look at the types of videos you’re watching.
- Pay attention to how you spend your time, specifically your free time when you don’t have any set obligations. What do you do for fun?
Once you’ve got some interests and passions in mind, take inventory of your current skills and expertise.
Things you’re already good at or knowledgeable about are excellent candidates for blogging niches. These are the areas where you can provide additional value and perspective where the average person cannot.
Think about your professional background, your education, any certifications you have, your hobbies, your experiences—and try to home in on your unique skills. One of them may end up being your perfect niche.
Side note: If you don’t want to commit to a single topic, you can get similar results by committing to a particular audience with a particular worldview. So instead of writing about one singular topic, you would write about a variety of topics that matter to people who share a certain mindset or worldview. A good example of this would be Maria Popova’s blog Brain Pickings, which covers lots of different topics—but they all fundamentally appeal to curious, creative people who tend to be lifelong learners.
How to tell if your niche will be profitable
Choosing the right niche is especially important if you want to turn your blog into a business.
Not all niches are equally profitable. Some interest ares just don’t have the kind of demand you need to sustain a business.
So before you make any decisions, it’s a good idea to do some research and evaluate the potential upside for each of your options.
Ideally, you want a niche where people are doing business and making money.
Start by looking for other blogs that focus on your niche. Get a feel for how many there are, and see if they’re updated regularly. If you find a lot of active blogs, that’s a good sign. (Don’t worry too much about competition—there’s always room for a new voice and perspective.)
Next, you’ll want to do some window shopping. See how many products and services are being sold in the niche you’re considering. Remember: you want a niche where people are doing business. If there’s a thriving market of products and services, it shouldn’t be too hard to start selling your own products and services—or promoting others as an affiliate.
Along the same lines, see if there are any podcasts, YouTube channels, or other media outlets where people are making a living talking about your topic.
You can also look around for online communities focused on your niche—forums, subreddits, Facebook groups, etc. When you see a lot of people gathering to discuss topics related to your niche, that’s a good sign.
Naming & Branding Your Blog
Once you’ve settled on a niche, your blog is going to need a name.
Some people simply use their personal names—e.g.
yourname.com—while others prefer to create a separate brand name for their blog. This really comes down to your personal preference.
Your personal name is more open-ended and can always evolve with you, but a separate brand is better suited for building a sellable asset that’s larger than yourself. If you think there’s a chance you’ll ever part with your blog, or if you think you may have other contributors in the future, it’s probably best to create a separate brand.
How to come up with a good name for your blog
Naming is hard, and it’s probably my least favorite part of starting a new project.
You obviously want to come up with something you’re happy with—because you’re gonna be stuck with it for a while—but it’s important to realize the name really doesn’t matter all that much. Your content is what matters—everything else is secondary.
With that said, I do want to share some tips to help you think of a good name for your blog:
- Start by making a list of random words related to your topic or niche.
- Run all of those words through Thesaurus.com to get some synonyms, and add those to the list.
- Throw in some other words that aren’t necessarily related to your niche: adjectives, onomatopoeias, words you just happen to like, etc.
- Spend time experimenting with different combinations of words on your list.
You can also take a look at the other blogs in your niche, see what patterns you notice, and draw some inspiration from them.
If you’re really stuck, you can try using a name generator like Wordoid:
Just set a few parameters for the kind of names you’re looking for, and it’ll give you a ton of ideas.
By the way, your blog’s name doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything.
For example, what was a twitter before Twitter? What was a google before Google? It’s up to you to create meaning around your brand.
As you’re brainstorming ideas, you’ll want to check to see whether your favorites are available as domain names. Namechk is a great tool for this:
This site will show you exactly which domains are available for the name you enter, and it’ll also check for the corresponding social media handles, which is really helpful.
How to get a professional logo for your blog
Once you’ve decided on a name, you’ll probably want a logo to represent your brand visually.
If you have design skills, you can of course design your own logo using a program like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or GIMP.
Personally, I’m the world’s okayest logo designer, so these days I prefer to leave that work to the pros.
I’ve had amazing results working with 99designs, where for as little as $299 you can hold a design contest where dozens of designers compete to create a winning logo for you.
The end result is guaranteed to be original and trademarkable with the US Patent and Trademark Office, and if you don’t like any of the submissions, you get your money back.
We held a 99designs contest for our logo here at GigaPress. We received a total of 60 entries and walked away with a fantastic logo:
If $299 is out of your budget, you can also try platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to work with a freelance designer one-on-one. The downside of these platforms is that it’s up to you to filter through potentially hundreds of designers to find the right candidate—and there’s always a risk of trademark infringement and low-quality work.
With that said, I can personally vouch for this Fiverr gig, which produced this logo for me:
If you’re not ready to invest money into a logo just yet, I’d recommend checking out Canva, which offers a number of free logo templates that you can customize and use for your brand.
Setting Up Your Blog
Now it’s time for the fun part, which is actually setting up your website.
This consists of:
- Getting a domain name and hosting package
- Installing WordPress
- Customizing your site
When you set out to start a blog, there’s no shortage of options to use for your content management system—that is, the platform you use to build your website and actually publish content.
You’ve got WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, and so many others…
I’m gonna be straightforward here: WordPress is the best choice for the vast majority of bloggers.
I’ve been using WordPress for over a decade, and I really believe it’s the single best solution for building a blog or website in today’s world.
WordPress itself is free to use (you just need a hosting account), it’s extensible with a world of free themes and plugins, and it doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge to get started. If you can use a computer, you can build a blog with WordPress.
It’s also the most popular content management system in the world, powering more than 32 percent of all sites on the web. No other blogging platform even comes close.
Setting up your hosting account
There are a lot of web hosting companies out there, and choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming. My recommendation for first-time bloggers is Bluehost.
Bluehost is one of the most popular and affordable hosting services in the industry, and it’s the #1 recommended web host on the official WordPress.org website:
If you use the link below, you can get started for a discounted price as low as $2.95 per month—and you’ll get your domain name included for free (normally an extra $15 or so per year). Hard to beat that.
—> Click here to head over to Bluehost and pick your hosting plan:
There are three options: Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus. Which one of these is right for you?
- Basic: If you’re just getting started, this plan will allow you to get up and running at the lowest cost while still providing all the features you need to build a great website. However, it’s important to note that this plan limits you to one website and 50 GB of storage.
- Plus: This plan is for those who want to create multiple sites under a single account. It supports unlimited websites and unlimited storage—which will prove especially helpful for media-heavy websites with a lot of images.
- Choice Plus: This plan also supports unlimited websites and unlimited storage, but it comes with two additional benefits: free domain privacy (so your contact information doesn’t appear in the public records as the owner of your domain name) and free automated backups (to make sure you never lose your work if something ever goes wrong with your site). This plan definitely offers the most value, and with the discount applied, it costs the same as the Plus plan.
🤔 Not sure which plan to choose?
If you want to keep your costs as low as possible and only need to create one website, go with Basic. If you need multiple sites or want the benefits of additional storage, domain privacy, and free automated backups, go with Choice Plus. The discounted prices are actually the same for both Plus and Choice Plus, so there is currently no compelling reason to choose the Plus plan.
Once you select a plan, you’ll be prompted to register a domain name:
Go ahead and enter the name you want, and choose your favorite extension.
I always recommend going with a .COM domain if it’s available, but truthfully the extension doesn’t matter all that much these days. Remember: it’s up to you to create a meaningful and recognizable brand. You can do that with any domain name.
Note: As soon as you register your domain name, it becomes your property, and you can always take it with you should you ever decide to change hosting providers in the future.
The next step is pretty self-explanatory—just enter your contact and payment information to get your account set up:
Which pricing plan is best?
You’ll notice that you have the option of choosing a billing period from 12 to 36 months.
The discounted price will be locked in for whatever period you choose, after which it will return to the normal retail price. The longer the billing period, the more money you’ll save over time. I would strongly recommend going with a longer billing period if you’re comfortable with the upfront cost.
Which “package extras” do you need?
Toward the bottom of the page, Bluehost will offer you some “Package Extras”:
- I recommend adding Domain Privacy, which ensures that spammers, telemarketers, and random Internet crazies can’t look up your contact info and address in the public domain records. When you add the Domain Privacy service, Bluehost will effectively act as your agent, using their address and contact info in the public records for your domain. (This is included for free with the Choice Plus plan.)
- Codeguard Basic can also be a good investment. This is Bluehost’s automated backup and monitoring service. (Also included for free with the Choice Plus plan.)
- Note that the Microsoft 365 Mailbox trial will charge you after 30 days, so unless you want that service and are willing to pay for it, uncheck that box now or remember to cancel before it renews.
- You don’t need to add Bluehost SEO Tools, SSL, or SiteLock Security.
Once you’re satisfied with your options, you can enter your credit card details (or click “more payment options” to pay with PayPal), agree to the terms of service, and click Submit.
After you’ve done this, simply follow the onscreen instructions to create a password for Bluehost and log into your account.
You should also receive an email asking you to click a link to activate your domain name. Make sure you do this!
Setting Up WordPress on Bluehost
This is where things start to get exciting. It’s time to actually get your new blog up and running.
As soon as you complete the signup process, and log into your account you’ll be prompted to create your website:
To get started, click Create your website.
At this point, Bluehost will open a wizard to guide you through some of the initial setup stuff.
I actually recommend skipping all of these steps, as shown below. When asked, be sure to select the Limitless Customization option (this will help you more easily follow the rest of this tutorial):
Once you skip through the wizard, you’ll find yourself in the main Bluehost customer area. From here, click Log into WordPress:
This will open the WordPress dashboard, which is where you’ll manage all aspects of your website, including your blog posts, pages, theme/appearance, and more:
Right away, you may notice that this is a pretty busy interface with lots of things going on.
This is because Bluehost preloads WordPress with a bunch of plugins that you may or may not actually need. Personally, this kind of stresses me out. I prefer to start with a clean slate.
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of WordPress, let’s get rid of all the stuff that’s been preinstalled so we can build our site from scratch.
First, using the left sidebar menu, hover over the Plugins section and click Installed Plugins.
Next, scroll to the list of plugins and use the check box at the top to select all of them. Then use the Bulk actions drop-down menu to select Deactivate, and click Apply.
Right away, your entire interface should look MUCH cleaner, and it’ll be easier to follow along with this and other WordPress tutorials (because now you’re using the standard WordPress dashboard that you’ll see in most screenshots and videos).
Set Your WordPress Password
One more quick step to make your life a bit easier: let’s set a password for your WordPress account.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to log into your website directly, without having to go through Bluehost every time.
Using the left sidebar menu, go to
Users > Profile.
Scroll down and click Set New Password. Then simply enter a new password, and click Update Profile.
Once you’ve done this, you can access your WordPress dashboard by adding
/wp-admin to the end of your domain name, and log in using your email address and the password you just created.
For example, if your domain name was
example.com, you would find your WordPress dashboard at
Before we go any further, let me be the first to congratulate you…
You just took a major first step to starting a blog. You literally have a live website up and running now. Seriously—open up a new tab and type in your domain name. It’s there!
(Note: if you get some kind of error when trying to visit your website or your WordPress dashboard directly, you probably just need to wait a few minutes for your domain name to finish activating. Once again, make sure you’ve verified your email address.)
Next up, we’ll take some time to start customizing your new blog.
Customizing Your Site
From now on, you’ll be managing your site from your WordPress dashboard, which you can find by going to
Go ahead and log in using the username and password you set up earlier.
This is where you’ll do everything from customizing your theme to publishing blog posts.
Remember: you can always access your WordPress dashboard by going to
WordPress is pretty beginner-friendly, but it may take some time before you know exactly where everything is.
Let’s take a tour of the main menu:
You’ll be using this menu a lot to navigate between different admin pages in WordPress.
The first thing you should notice is that the current page, the Dashboard, is highlighted and expanded—and there are a couple of submenu options underneath it. The same is true with the rest of the menu items: just hover your mouse over an option to expand it.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find in the menu:
- Dashboard — This is the main dashboard page and where you’ll automatically land when you log in
- Posts — This is where you’ll manage your blog posts
- Media — This is where you’ll find any photos, videos, or audio that you’ve uploaded to the site
- Pages — Here you can manage your pages, such as your about page and contact page
- Comments — Manage and moderate comments people have left on your blog posts
- Appearance — Manage your themes, install a new theme, or customize your existing theme
- Plugins — Plugins are basically extensions that add various functionality to WordPress. You can install and manage those here.
- Users — Here you can edit your profile or add other users to your site
- Tools — In this menu you’ll find things like import and export tools, which allow you to move content from one site to another
- Settings — This includes all the global settings for WordPress and your site itself, from your site name to your time zone, whether you want to allow comments, and much more—be sure to explore this section and configure it to your liking.
Customize Your Basic Site Settings
Now that your site is up and running, there are a few basic settings you’ll want to customize to your liking.
Start by navigating to
Settings > General in the main WordPress Menu.
On this page, you can change your site title from the default placeholder.
You can also add a short tagline, which may show up in various places on your site. This is optional—you can just delete the placeholder text if you’re unsure.
Finally, be sure to set the timezone to match your local time.
When you’re happy with these settings, scroll down and click Save Changes.
Choosing A WordPress Theme
One of the things I love about WordPress is how easy it is to customize your site and build something truly unique. That’s made possible by themes.
WordPress themes take the content from WordPress (posts, pages, etc.) and display it in a way that looks beautiful and hopefully meets your individual needs.
There are a few ways to get a WordPress theme. You can get a free one from the WordPress.org repository, you can buy one from a third-part seller or marketplace, or if you really want to go crazy, you can create your own or hire a designer to create one for you.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to get a WordPress theme is by installing a free one from the theme repository on WordPress.org:
There are thousands of themes to choose from, and just because they’re free doesn’t necessarily mean they’re inferior to premium themes. Some are definitely better than others, but there’s a nice rating system that should help you identify the best options.
You can actually access the theme repository directly through your own WordPress dashboard. Just go to
Appearance > Themes, and click the “Add New” button.
On this page, you can browse the entire catalog of free themes and install one with a single click.
In addition to the free themes on WordPress.org, there’s a whole world of premium themes that you can buy from third-party sellers and marketplaces.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with free themes—but premium themes as a whole do tend to offer more advanced functionality and higher quality design. On top of that, the purchase price usually includes support and documentation, so if anything goes wrong or if you need help getting set up, you’ve got a lifeline there to help you out.
If you have a little money to invest, a premium WordPress theme can be a great investment.
Here are some of my favorite places to find premium WordPress themes:
- ThemeForest — A huge marketplace where thousands of independent developers sell their themes
- StudioPress — Stylish premium WordPress themes optimized for speed and SEO
- GeneratePress — A versatile, lightweight theme that’s ideal for building a fast, sleek-looking blog
When you purchase a WordPress theme, you’ll be able to download it as a ZIP file. To install it, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to
Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme and upload the file.
Customizing Your Theme
Installing a WordPress theme is just the beginning. You still have to make it your own.
WordPress has a really nice theme customizer where you can edit various parts of your site while viewing a live preview, so you can see the effects of your changes in real time.
To open the customizer, log into your WordPress dashboard and go to
Appearance > Customize.
You’ll definitely want to spend some time tweaking settings in the customizer to make sure everything looks just right.
Using WordPress Plugins
One of the biggest selling points of WordPress is its extensibility. You’re not stuck with the default set of features—your WordPress site is yours to customize, and it’s very easy to customize.
WordPress plugins offer a way to extend the functionality of your website in various ways. They range in their scope from simple things to adding social media buttons to your blog posts to more complex things like turning your site into a full-fledged social network.
Like themes, WordPress has a repository of free plugins, which you can access directly from your dashboard by going to
Plugins > Add New.
Here are some examples:
- WPForms allows you to add custom contact forms to your posts and pages
- Akismet monitors your comments and contact form submissions to protect your site from spam
- Yoast SEO makes it easy to optimize your blog for search engines (check out our WordPress SEO tutorial to learn how to use it)
- WooCommerce brings e-commerce functionality to WordPress, allowing you to build your own online store
- Jetpack by WordPress.com brings a number of WordPress.com features to self-hosted users, including real-time stats, social sharing, security, and backups
These are just a few examples. There are plugins for just about anything you can think of, and most of them are absolutely free.
Planning A Content Strategy For Your Blog
When it comes to starting a blog, content is everything.
I can’t stress this enough: the key to success as a blogger is putting out a consistent stream of high-quality content.
It’s actually a pretty simple formula: the more valuable content you publish, the more opportunities you have to connect with people, grow your audience, and ultimately build a profitable business.
How to write a great blog post
There is no magic formula for the perfect blog post—you’ll have to experiment and see what works for you—but there are a few key points to consider when you’re creating new content.
Think about who you’re trying to reach with your content and what they’re looking for. What do they want to learn? What types of content resonate well with them?
Whenever I write a blog post, I picture one individual person who I feel best represents my audience, and I imagine that I’m writing directly to that person. It keeps me focused on their needs and how I can best serve them.
The Topic & Purpose
This is pretty straightforward: decide what the post is going to cover, and more importantly what its purpose is, and make sure everything else is centered around that.
In general, every piece of content you create should have one core idea or solve one main problem. You never want to try to do too much with a single piece of content. If you try to be everything for everyone, you’re gonna dilute the value and ultimately put off the people who would otherwise be interested.
So start with the problem you want to solve, prepare the solution or whatever message you want to get across, and keep that in mind throughout the writing process to keep you on course.
Just to be clear, it’s okay to dive deep into certain aspects of the problem, so long as they’re relevant. For example, the post you’re reading now is one of the longest posts I’ve ever written—but every single section is focused on teaching you how to start a blog, step by step.
What you don’t want to do is go off on a tangent and start talking about something that doesn’t actually contribute to the value of the post.
One of the most important parts of a good blog post is an effective headline.
The headline is the first thing people see, and its job is to entice people to click through when they see your post on search engines or social media.
When you’re working on a blog post, I recommend starting with a “working title”—just something simple to identify what you’re working on and guide the general idea of the post.
Then, once you’re finished with the content itself, come back to the headline and refine it. Sometimes you may find that you ended up taking a slightly different approach than you originally intended, so it’s usually smart to write the final headline after you’ve written the main content.
Be sure to give your headline the attention it deserves: make it unique and enticing, and make sure it conveys the benefit your post has to offer.
The Opening Paragraph
This is where you have to continue to build interest.
You’ve already captured people with the title, but at this point they’re trying to see if your post is actually worth their time.
So grab their attention with an engaging first line, convince them to stick around, and then follow through with great content.
Make Your Post Easy To Skim
In the twenty-first century, attention spans are shorter than ever. An unfortunate fact for bloggers is that many visitors don’t read our content so much as they scan it.
It’s a good idea to cater to that demographic by formatting your posts and making them easy to skim—while still providing plenty of substance.
This basically just means you don’t want your post to be a giant wall of text. You can use subheadings, images, videos, and bullet-point lists to break up your prose and make it easier to digest.
You can also highlight important points with bold or italicized text.
How Long Is The Ideal Blog Post?
I’ve seen arguments and data on both sides of this debate, so my answer to this question is this: as long as it needs to be.
I’ve written posts under 500 words that went on to generate tens of thousands of page views, simply because they provided value and gave people exactly what they were looking for.
On the other hand, I’ve also had plenty of success with longer content—posts upwards of 3,000 words—because it allows me to dive deeper and offer more value than my competitors.
There is some evidence that Google favors longer content when it comes to search rankings, but it has to be good content. Don’t add fluff to boost your word count like you might on a college paper—just think about how you can pack as much value into your posts as possible.
Include A Call-To-Action
It’s always a good idea to have a call-to-action at the end of your post. This is where you direct the reader to take the next step, whatever that may be.
You could ask them to leave a comment, share the post on social media, join your email list, buy a product, or anything else you’d like them to do.
If they’ve made it to the end of your post, they’re already engaged with your content—so you should take that opportunity to keep them engaged.
How to come up with good content ideas for your blog
The first step to publishing good content consistently is coming up with good ideas consistently. Here are a few tips to do just that:
Consume lots of content
There’s really no such thing as an “original idea.”
What we call new ideas are simply new combinations of existing elements.
When you immerse yourself in those existing elements, you can get the creative juices flowing and jumpstart the ideation process.
Don’t limit yourself to content within your niche. You should definitely be reading other blogs in your space, but also take the time to read books, science, poetry, history, even social media posts. You’ll be surprised how two seemingly unrelated concepts can suddenly click to form an incredible content idea.
Keep an eye on the competition
Pay attention to what other blogs in your niche are doing, and notice what’s working and what’s not.
You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to see the most popular content on any topic or from any competitor, based on social shares and backlinks:
This is a great way to better understand the mindset of your target audience and see what types of content they’re consuming (and sharing). It’s also an opportunity to see where your competitors may be lacking, like topics they’re not covering or areas where you may be able to create something better.
Explore the places where your target audience hangs out online
Look for forums, subreddits, Facebook groups, and other communities focused on your topic. Take a look at what people are posting, and watch for any recurring questions or conversation topics.
You can also browse relevant topics on a Q&A website like Quora to see exactly what questions people are asking about your niche.
Listen to your audience
Always be sure to monitor your comments and social media mentions religiously, looking for repeat questions and other trends that you may be able to use for future content.
You can also just ask people what they want from you, by prompting them to leave a comment, having them fill out a survey, or even interviewing your readers one-on-one.
Nobody knows your audience better than, well, your audience. So ask them about their problems, their struggles, their questions, and even their reading habits if you want to get a closer look into their mind and understand what types of content they like to consume.
Learn from your past content
Build on your most successful content with supplemental material, and use the content that didn’t do so well as a learning experience.
Use Google Analytics to monitor not only your traffic, but also the the demographics of your audience and how they found your blog.
I’ve often found myself ranking on Google for a keyword I hadn’t even considered—and that gives me a better perspective of what my audience is looking for.
17 Types of High-Performing Blog Content
As I’m sure you know, there are many different types of content you can create to serve your audience. To give you some inspiration, here are 20 specific content ideas that you can steal and apply to your own content strategy:
If you’ve been on the Internet at all over the last few years, you know that list posts or “listicles” are massively popular.
And it’s easy to understand why: they’re easy to skim and digest in a world of 140-character attention spans.
But the best list posts go deep. They’re not just bullet-point lists—each list item is formatted as a headline with a more detailed explanation below, often with images and other rich media embedded. When you use this approach, you’re serving the people who just want to skim and the people who want more substance. It’s a win-win.
How-to guides and tutorials are a cornerstone of successful blog content and one of the most straightforward ways to provide value: by teaching people how to do something.
They can be long or short, but a great way to top your competition is to dive deeper and explain each step in more detail than they do.
Well-executed how-to content can be a significant driver of traffic, particularly from search engines where people are actively searching for solutions.
Explainers are another type of informative content. Instead of teaching people how to do something, they explain a particular concept in detail.
For example, you can explain the history of a topic, how something works, or why things are the way they are.
Explainers can perform really well as a response to news or current events. If there’s a story in your space where some of the background or concepts are unclear to the general public, you can add to the conversation with an explainer post.
Checklists are kind of a subcategory of list posts, but they’re a powerful form of content in their own right.
With a checklist, the goal is to create a list of items, products, or actions that are necessary for a particular task or goal.
If you can compile everything people need into a simple, digestible list, you’ll have a highly valuable (and shareable) blog post.
Questions and answers are always a good starting point for content.
There are a couple of ways to handle Q&A: you can write a long post answering a bunch of related questions in one place, or you can write a series of posts, answering a single question in detail with each one.
Personally, I prefer the series approach, if only for the SEO benefit of attracting readers who are searching for the answer to one specific question.
An interview is a great format for just about any topic.
Get in touch with an important figure in your industry, and interview them. Ask open-ended questions and get their insights on the issues your readers care about.
Interviews can work well in text, video, or audio formats. Bonus points if you can do all three.
Profiles are another way to share the stories of people in your industry. When you profile someone, you’ll want to write about who they are, what they do, what experiences they’ve had, and how they got to where they are today. Think of it as a mini-biography.
A good profile usually begins with an interview, but you’ll want to do your own research and scour the web for additional information that may be relevant to tell a complete story.
An expert roundup is a combination of a list post and an interview.
Here’s the idea: reach out to a bunch of experts (by email, DM, etc.) and ask them to answer a single question for you—then compile all of their answers into a post.
Because it’s a single question, even busy people who may not have time for a full interview may be willing to contribute.
At the end, you’ll have a wide range of insights on a single issue, making for a unique, informative resource that’s highly shareable.
People To Follow
This is basically the Who’s Who of your industry—a list of people you feel are worth following, and why.
Start with the person’s name, write up a short blurb about who they are and why they matter, and be sure to include any relevant links like their website or Twitter account.
Reviews are pretty self-explanatory—you take a look at a product or service that’s relevant to your audience and provide an honest review of your thoughts and experiences, breaking down the good and the bad.
The goal of a good review is to inform the reader’s buying decision. You want to give them all the information they need to make an informed choice.
The natural extension of a review is a comparison, where you compare two similar products that are competing in the same market.
You’ll want to go over the details of each product, but focus specifically on the key differences between the two. For example: this pair of headphones has longer battery life, but this other pair offers superior sound quality.
News content is interesting because it usually won’t drive long-term traffic, but it can drive a substantial amount of short-term traffic if you do it well.
There are two distinct approaches that are really effective: be the first, or be the best.
If you’re the first person to cover a story, you’ll naturally get a lot of shares, traffic, and links because you’re the original source. But if you’re not first, you can spend some time offering additional context and analysis that the original source may have neglected.
Thought & Opinion
Your mileage may vary with this one depending on your personal style, but opinion pieces are a great way to go deeper with your content and encourage reader engagement.
Consider an issue that’s important to your audience, and take a side. Elaborate on your position with logical arguments, and help the reader understand your point of view.
Interestingly, controversy is very good for traffic and engagement. I don’t think you should actively seek out controversy, but I will say that any time I’ve taken a stance on a controversial issue, it has generated a lot of buzz.
Now of course, I’m talking about things that pertain to your audience and your industry. Politics, religion, and other heavy, divisive topics are usually a bad idea—unless your blog focuses specifically on one of those things.
Humans are natural storytellers, so stories map pretty well to blog content.
Stories can entertain your readers and deliver your message in a really unique way.
For example, you could tell a story about someone who wanted to do something by failed because they didn’t do X, Y, and Z.
You can also work personal stories from your own life into your blog posts—this can make you more relatable and more human to the people on the other side of the screen.
Statistics & Original Research
Some of my most popular posts have been data-oriented articles with facts and figures surrounding a particular topic. Search engines love this stuff. If you can compile some relevant statistics from various sources and present it in a way that’s valuable to your audience, you should be able to drive a good amount of traffic. (Be sure to give credit where it’s due and cite your sources so people know where you’re getting your information.)
If you want to take facts and statistics to the next level, you can publish original research. By conducting your own studies or surveys and sharing the results, you can become an authoritative source for research in your niche.
Sticking with the theme of research and statistics, infographics are a great way to make complex data easier to digest.
You can create an infographic using data from your own research, which is a great way to complement the article, or you can simply collect relevant data from other sources and visualize it.
If you’re not a designer, I recommend outsourcing the design work on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr.
A case study can be a huge asset if you’re trying to promote a product or service. It essentially tells the story of how you’ve helped a particular customer solve their problems, often with quotes or testimonial from the customer themselves.
Social proof is a powerful factor when it comes to buying decisions, and you can use it to your advantage by publishing a case study.
How often should you post?
It’s an age-old question in the blogging world: how often should you post?
Truthfully, there is no clear-cut answer. It really comes down to your personal style.
If you tend to write long monster posts like this one, it’s going to be hard to publish on a daily or even weekly basis.
But if most of your content consists of short news articles, for example, it’ll be in your interest to post more frequently.
My preference is actually a mix of both: you can write long “pillar” articles, and then supplement them with shorter, more digestible content.
One strategy is to batch produce a few pieces of shorter content, and then publish them over time using the scheduling feature in WordPress. In the meantime, you have a few days or weeks to prepare your longer posts while the short ones trickle out. (Check out the Editorial Calendar plugin to help you visualize your scheduled content.)
If you ever feel the need to choose between quality and quantity, quality is the right choice every time.
Driving Traffic To Your Blog
Once you’ve got a handle on your content strategy, you need to get your content in front of an audience.
This is where a lot of people drop the ball. They start cranking out epic content, but then nobody ever sees it because they don’t do anything to promote it.
It takes time to get the ball rolling after you start a blog, but if you put these strategies into action, you should start seeing traffic in no time.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most websites rely on search engines like Google as a primary driver of traffic. As I’m sure you know from first-hand experience (if not as a publisher then as a user), the difference between appearing on page one and page two can mean a difference between hundreds of thousands or even millions of impressions, page views, and potential leads and sales.
And it’s even competitive on page one. A study by Chitika found that the #1 result on Google gets a whopping 32.5 percent of the traffic, with the second result getting 17.6 percent. And it just declines from there—by the time you get down to the tenth result, you’re only looking at 2.4 percent of the traffic for that particular search term.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why search engine optimization, or SEO, is such a hot topic. If you want to maximize your blog’s visibility in the search results, you need to make sure your site is following all the best practices that Google and other search engines like to see.
To get started, I recommend checking out our WordPress SEO tutorial here.
Strategic Guest Posting
When you’re just getting started, one of the best blog promotion strategies is writing a series of guest posts for other, more influential blogs.
It’s a slow process, but it can pay off big-time by launching your blog into the spotlight and putting you on the map.
There’s an important caveat, though: any guest posts you write have to meet an extremely high standard of quality. If you write a sub-par guest post, it probably won’t get published—but even if it does, you wouldn’t want that to be the public’s first impression of you. So be sure to only offer your best work for guest posts.
When it comes to actually getting published, it’s all about the pitch. Here are a few tips based on my experience as an editor:
- Write a good subject line. When you get hundreds of emails a day, you can’t read all of them. If you can grab my attention, that’s a great start.
- Tell me who you are and get to the point. This should only take a couple of sentences. Briefly tell me who you are, and mention where you’ve been published before (if applicable).
- Include links to articles you’ve written before. These can be on your blog or elsewhere. It helps to get a feel for your style and determine whether you’d be a good fit.
- Share three possible headline ideas and an outline/summary for each one. Offering three separate ideas increases the odds that I’ll love at least one of them.
Aside from guest posts, you can also do other types of strategic collaboration, like making an appearance on a relevant YouTube channel or podcast, being interviewed as an expert, or doing traditional PR. The idea is to become a familiar face in the media world surrounding your particular niche.
Not only are expert roundups a solid blog post format—they’re also an effective way to get leading influencers to share your content.
Again, the idea here is to reach out to a bunch of experts, ask them a single question, and compile all of their answers into one big post.
Then—and this is where it becomes a promotion strategy—send them a link to the post when it goes live. Because they contributed to it, chances are they won’t mind sharing it with their audience.
The same principle apples to the “people to follow” list. In this case, the person didn’t necessarily contribute, but it’s a pleasant surprise to be recognized as one of the top experts in your field, so it’s worth reaching out to those people as well. More than likely, they’ll check it out to see what you said about them—and they may share it with their audience as well.
By the way, when you’re creating this type of content, please don’t just throw a bunch of people into a list because they have a lot of Twitter followers and might end up sharing your post. Choose your candidates based on merit, and make sure the end result is something that actually brings value to your audience.
Social Media Mentions & Snippets
Whenever you mention a person or company in a post, it’s a good idea to tag them when you share the post on social media. They’ll get a notification, and it’s super easy for them to share it or retweet it right away.
You can also use a service like Buffer to queue up a series of social media updates about the same post—but you don’t just want to share the same headline over and over again.
Instead, try sharing bits and pieces of the post. For example, if you did a roundup of 15 experts answering the same question, that gives you 15 excuses to tweet out the same post, tagging each of the experts and quoting their individual responses.
Promote To Your List
This one may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget. When you have a new blog post, the first people to hear about it should be your email subscribers. After all, the people on your email list have specifically requested to hear from you!
Your email list is a free source of on-demand traffic that you actually own. Continuing to send new content to your subscribers is a great way to maintain that relationship, keep them engaged, and hopefully drive profitable action over time.
Here’s a bonus tip: after you send out a new piece of content to your subscribers, wait a couple of days, and then use your email service provider to segment out the people who didn’t open the original message. Then send just those people the exact same message again, using a different subject line. This is a surprisingly effective way to increase your open rate and engage people who may have missed the first email.
Niche communities such as forums, subreddits, and Facebook groups are important places for you as a blogger to be.
On one hand, it allows you to get to know your target audience, which can help you to create better content.
But these places can also serve as distribution channels—if you approach them carefully and respect their rules. Nobody likes the shameless self-promoter who shows up and starts promoting their own stuff without adding any real value to the community, so make sure you know the rules of any community you join—and focus on becoming an active member first.
Public groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are searchable, Reddit has a full list of subreddits here, and you can find forums by googling something like
your topic + forums.
This is a big one. A well-executed giveaway has the potential to skyrocket your blog’s growth, pretty much overnight.
Giveaways generate a ton of buzz because, well, everybody wants free stuff. But if you want to use a giveaway to drive meaningful growth, you have to be very strategic in your approach. Let me explain…
First and foremost, you have to choose a relevant product. This is the most important aspect, and it’s where most people fail.
You see, you can give away just about anything of value, and you’ll get a lot of traffic and a lot of entries—but at the end of the day, if your product isn’t relevant to your blog, all you have is a bunch of untargeted traffic and an audience of people who have no interest in your blog or what you have to offer.
A good product for a giveaway is one that’s highly desired but appeals specifically to your target audience.
These services allow you to collect emails for your list while also tackling one of the big problems with viral giveaways: nobody wants to share a giveaway because the more people who enter, the lower their chances of winning become. But these plugins actually incentivize sharing by giving people additional entries for referring their friends.
For example, you get one entry right away, plus a second entry for sharing on Facebook, another for sharing on Twitter, and so on.
This is a much better system than the traditional one-entry-per-person approach because it helps your giveaway to go viral with very little effort on your part.
All you have to do is get the ball rolling with some early promotion—then the snowball effect takes over as people start entering.
Monetizing Your Blog
So let’s say you’ve started a blog, you’re putting out great content, and you’re growing an audience—how do you turn this thing into a business and start making money?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular revenue models you can use to build a business around your blog, including the pros and cons and how to execute each one successfully.
Advertising is probably the most popular business model in the blogging world—but that doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Things have changed a lot over the years, and the fact is that advertising doesn’t pay as well as it used to. Beyond that, in almost all cases, it negatively impacts the user experience—and by its very nature, it sends people away from your site, which is not an ideal outcome.
With that said, I know advertising is still the most viable option for some topics, and it can generate revenue for you, so I want to share some advice.
There are two models of advertising for bloggers: direct and indirect.
Direct advertising is where you sell ad space directly to a company.
Indirect advertising is where you use a middleman like Google AdSense or some other ad network.
Indirect advertising is a lot easier to set up. You basically just sign up with an ad network, copy some code onto your site, and forget about it.
Direct advertising is more difficult, but it has the potential to bring in a lot more money.
If you want to use an ad network, Google AdSense is the most popular option, and it’ll likely be your best bet. It doesn’t hurt to experiment with other platforms, though; for example, Adversal and Media.net are both display networks similar to AdSense. You can also look into content recommendation or “native” ad networks like Revcontent and Outbrain.
Direct ad sales can be a lot more profitable because you’re working with brands directly with no middleman. To make it work, the first thing you’ll want to do is put together a comprehensive advertising page on your site where companies can see your traffic stats, sponsorship options, and how to contact you. However, unless you have a lot of traffic, most of your sales won’t come from people reaching out to you—you’ll have to put in the time to cold call/email businesses whose target market aligns with your audience.
This is an old video, but it’s still very much relevant:
Like I said, traditional advertising would not be part of my approach today. But given the right audience and the right niche, it can still be profitable.
Affiliate marketing is quite possibly the best way to monetize a blog that doesn’t have an existing business model.
With the proper disclosure and transparency, affiliate marketing can be an honest, lucrative way to simultaneously provide value to your audience and build a business around your content.
Here’s the idea: instead of creating your own product, you promote someone else’s product and earn a commission when members of your audience buy it.
Simple enough, right?
To get started, you would find a reputable product or service that appeals to your target audience, maybe even one you’ve written about in the past—and if it has an affiliate program, sign up.
You’ll be given a unique URL, called an affiliate link or a referral link, that you can share on your blog whenever you mention that particular product. When people click your affiliate link, they’re tracked as a member of your audience—and if they end up buying, you get a commission.
Often affiliate programs will give you some kind of discount code to offer your readers, so the arrangement benefits everyone involved.
This all sounds simple in theory, but so many people experiment with affiliate marketing and never end up making a single dollar.
So how do you actually make it work?
At the end of the day, your success depends on the level of value you can deliver to your audience.
My favorite way to implement affiliate marketing as a business model is this: find out which of the tools or services that you use in your industry have affiliate programs, and sign up. Then, as you’re writing new content—particularly tutorials and how-to guides—recommend the necessary tools and products along the way, using your affiliate link. That way, when people follow your tutorial and purchase those products, you get paid.
Reviews also lend themselves quite well to affiliate marketing.
If you can’t find any companies in your niche with their own affiliate programs, you may want to check out the Amazon Associates program. As an Amazon affiliate, you can promote literally millions of products from a trusted retailer—and you’ll receive a commission even if your readers end up buying a different product.
Now before you start signing up for every affiliate program and covering your blog with affiliate links, it’s important to approach affiliate marketing ethically.
Remember: we want this arrangement to be net-positive for everyone involved.
Be sure to choose your affiliate products carefully. Anything you promote to your audience should be something you genuinely use and endorse yourself.
If you only choose products based on the potential payout, you’re gonna let your audience down—and they’ll remember that you didn’t have their best interest at heart.
On the other hand, if you only recommend reputable products that actually improve your readers’ lives, people will begin to trust you, and your future recommendations will carry that much more weight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that affiliate marketers have an obligation, both ethically and legally, to disclose their affiliate relationships. In other words, your audience needs to know that you earn a commission if they buy—so be sure to include that as well.
On a more technical note, I highly recommend installing the Thirsty Affiliates plugin, which allows you to manage your affiliate links dynamically and easily insert them into your content as you’re writing a post.
A more difficult but potentially more lucrative way to monetize a blog is by selling a product of your own.
If you’re building a blog to promote your existing physical products, then you’re good to go.
If you’re just a blogger looking to create a revenue stream, digital information products may be a good choice.
It’s never been easier to self-publish an ebook on the Amazon Kindle store, or even a physical book with something like CreateSpace.
The same goes for video courses. If you have knowledge or expertise that other people want to attain, your courses can find a home on platforms like Udemy and Skillshare, or you can even sell them on your own website using a WordPress plugin like CoursePress.
Information products offer an incredible opportunity to build a business around your blog. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort that’s required to create something people are willing to pay for.
Depending on your industry and your personal skillset, you could offer other digital products such as software as a service, mobile apps, website templates, WordPress themes, and so on.
A membership site is another popular business model that has the potential to bring in recurring and ever-increasing revenue. It could offer a catalog of courses, an exclusive community, live coaching, or some other ongoing/recurring service.
Membership sites can be a great opportunity, but they’re not as simple as they may seem.
If you want to be successful with this model, you’ll have to focus on providing some kind of unique value prop to differentiate yourself. Why should people join, and perhaps more importantly, why should they stick around for the long run?
Membership sites may also require more upfront work than something like an information product. For example, if you’re offering a catalog of courses, you have to first produce those multiple courses. If you’re offering a private community, you have to seed the community and get some real engagement going as soon as possible.
Don’t get me wrong—if you have your heart set on a membership service, I don’t want to discourage you—often the best opportunities are those with the highest barriers to entry. If you’re up to the challenge and feel you can bring unique value to the table, I say go for it.
You can use a plugin like MemberPress to get the job done.
We live in a world based on systems where everything is expected to be scalable, and everybody is obsessed with the idea of “passive income.”
But the fact is, selling services and doing unscalable things could potentially be the quickest route to profitability for your blog.
The reason is simple: client service businesses have very little overhead and generally require no upfront investment. You basically just say you’re in business, land your first client, and start working.
Building a service business as an extension of your blog is a really smart move—because your blog showcases your expertise and proves that you’re the right person for the job.
You can offer one-on-one coaching, consulting, graphic design, web development, photography, or any other service that you have the skills to provide.
By the way, many people who offer services are afraid of giving away too much with their content. They don’t want to reveal their “secret sauce” because they figure people will just do it themselves.
I say don’t worry about that.
Give away everything you know for the DIY crowd, and plenty of people will still be willing to hire you to do it for them, or to hold their hand through the process.
Ultimately, the more free information you put out there, the more authority and leverage you’ll have as a result.
The Next Steps
At this point, we’ve covered all the essentials of starting a blog.
You have the tools at your disposal, but now it’s up to you to put them into action. You can make plans and toss around ideas all day long, but ultimately the most important variable of success is your execution.
Thanks for taking the time to read this long post! I hope it’s been helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.