How to Start a Blog: Step-by-Step Instructions
So you don’t have any idea where to start, right? Guess what—neither did I. I was clueless. Literally. When I started JeffBullas.com a few years ago, I had no idea how to start a blog. I could hardly spell HTML, let alone build a successful website and blog.
A quick note before you read the rest of the resources section.
But good news: it’s easier than you think. I’ve learned a ton during my ascent to 4 million readers a year. And now you can learn from my pain and suffering to circumvent much of the tedium involved in creating a successful blog. Here’s how I started my blog, step by step, followed by additional rationale and insights below:
1. Domain and Hosting
The first thing you can do is to go to Bluehost and register your domain. You don’t even need to set up a WordPress page first, since Bluehost does all that for you. Bluehost’s basic price is $3.95 a month, which works for 99% of people (note: readers at jeffbullas.com can use this link receive a 50% discount off the monthly price and a free domain name). Then, you can do a simple install of WordPress through Bluehost. If you have any questions you are able to chat with the “live chat” folks at Bluehost for free; they will point you in the right direction and make the set-up super easy.
2. Market your blog
Launching your blog is one thing but making it visible to the world is another. Let’s have a look at how we can use social media, email, content and search engines to market your cool new blog.
Step 1: Social Media Marketing
So you have your WordPress blog setup now. Time to market it!
Let’s get started with social media marketing
Twitter is often underestimated and you need to use tools to help you reach its potential.
Twitter needs tools to help you manage and control the tweets. These are the tools I use and that I also recommend.
- Socialoomph – Professional Edition: This allows me to do a range of tasks including scheduling, publishing recurring tweets and auto-follow back and that save me about 40 hours a week.
- Hootsuite: This is an essential tool for managing Twitter and other social networks by allowing you and your teams to efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results.
- Tweepi: This is the tool I use to help me build my Twitter followers.
- TwitterCounter: Allows you to see at a glance how many Twitter followers you have added over the last month or even 6 months.
Instagram requires a lot of content and cranking out clever captions and thumb-stopping images regularly are incredibly time-consuming for brands. Thankfully, there’s a popular new trend sweeping Instagram that’s helping save time and resources.
User Generated Content (UGC) is hailed as the most authentic and powerful method of marketing and is predicted to stick around for quite some time.
User Generated Content is any type of digital content that supporting a brand that is created and shared by customers, fans, and influencers – and not the company itself.
Let’s debug one big misconception: You don’t have to set a huge budget to begin acquiring User Generated Content. In fact, there are Influencer Marketplace platforms such as Trend.io that are making it super easy and affordable to collaborate with professional content creators.
Reasons to consider exploring User Generated Content:
- 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand
- 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision.
- 70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy.
- 86% of businesses are utilizing UGC as part of their marketing strategy, of December 2015.
The results are proven, but before you get too excited you should consider that the quality of User Generated Content plays a role in the success of a brand’s marketing goals.
The Trend.io influencer marketplace is making a splash with their unique User Generated Content platform. Their entire influencer community is hand-picked based on the quality of their photography, engagement rates, and the size of their following.
Brands on the Trend.io app are able to sort through applications to select which accounts will best suit their content style.
Rather than paying Instagram influencers to post, the Trend.io influencer marketplace allows brands to exchange products for premium content. Influencers create and share authentic content based on the brand’s guidelines after using the product.
Finding a reliable platform for User Generated Content can be tricky. However, through a friend, I heard about the Trend.io Influencer Marketplace and found that it not only saves me a bunch of time, but has helped me generate engaging and authentic UGC content.
Trend.io is the name of the service and I highly recommend it.
Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. Here are some tools and resources to get you going places.
Heyo’s free contest builder helps you capture emails from Facebook with drag and drop contests you can customize without coding. Typical conversion rates on Heyo contests are 10%-25%. Click here to try it free.
LinkedIn is “the” social network if you are a professional and want to connect to people within your industry or areas of interest. With over 220 million users I also find it an effective traffic driver for my blog with it being the second largest source of traffic after Twitter.
Recently I met an entrepreneur by the name of: Alex Pirouz. I was telling Alex about my blog and how I was looking for new ways to get my message out there. That’s when he started telling me about LinkedIn.
At the time I had heard a lot about LinkedIn but nothing that made me jump out of the chair with excitement. Throughout one of our conversations he broke down for me a 3-step process he had used over the past few years to:
- Get featured in over 50 media publications without sending out a single press release
- Grow his business advisory firms by over 328% by securing joint venture partnerships through LinkedIn
- Generate thousands of leads whilst spending $0 on advertising or marketing
I have arranged with Alex to provide a “FREE” LinkedIn Webinar. You will learn how to grow your network, increase leads and sales.
Find out how to generate more leads in one month than most competitors do in one year! Click here to register
Top Dog Social Media is the blog and the brains behind it is the delightful Melonie Dodaro (who I had the pleasure of spending time with in San Diego recently) and her course on LinkedIn titled “LinkedIn Profit Formula” will help take your LinkedIn skills to the next level. Find out more about it here
According to Reuters, Pinterest has amassed 48.7 million users since its inception three years ago and a study by SimplyMeasured reveals that 69 of the world’s top 100 brands now have Pinterest accounts. Pinterest has been shown to drive more traffic to sites and create more revenue than Facebook.
Pinterest Training and Consulting
Enpreneur Pinterest Services: Tehmina Zaman is the brains behind this Pinterest training. She has made a huge difference to my Pinterest page and knows her “pinning”
ProBlogger: Darren Rowse has been one of the leaders in authentic blogging. Here are 6 Workbooks to get you going both for the beginner, intermediate and the advanced.
- 31 Days to Building a Better Blog
- Blogwise: How to do More with Less
- Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers
- ProBloggers’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business
- The Bloggers Guide to Online Marketing
- ProBloggers Guid to Your First Week of Blogging
Step 2. Email Marketing
If there is one thing you should implement on your blog and website from day one, it is building an email list. You own it and can use it to reach prospects and customers at anytime.
Here are some email marketing platforms that are proven, robust and will increase your marketing effectiveness.
- AWeber: Is the Email marketing and auto-responder that I use for this blog and has a large range of features that can be used by affiliate marketers, bloggers and website owners.
- MailChimp: This is an easy to use email marketing platform that is cost effective and easy to get up and running fast.
- Exact Target: They have many features for the email marketer for the more advanced user. Their platform(s) include not just email but social media marketing tools for Facebook.
Step 3. Content Marketing
Content is the foundation of any online marketing strategy. Learn how to create and market your content to engage with your customers, whether that is articles, , images or videos.
- Content Marketing Institute: Joe Pulizzi has put together a focused resource and blog that will keep you on top of your content marketing needs
- Hubspot: One of the original and still one of the best inbound marketing software providers and blogs on the planet. Their software helps over 9,000 marketers generate traffic leads and manage their online sales funnel. They were one of the primary inspirations for starting my blog.
Step 4. Search Engine Marketing
Getting traffic from Google or other search engines for free is worth gold. Use these resources to identify what keywords and phrases are driving traffic to your blog or website. You can also use them to find the which words you should be using in your content and posts.
More marketing resources
I finally found an agency coaching program that I will put my name on and it is call the Agency Blueprint.
Lee Goff the founder of Digital Business Architects is a seasoned veteran at building agencies. He founded, retired from and eventually sold his digital agency. After the sale of his agency was finalized, he dove head first into coaching other agency owners on how to do exactly what he did, of which was to Work Less and Make More.
Look, when you started your agency were you looking for just another stressful, never-ending job? Or were you looking to create something that would fund the things you wanted… like time to enjoy yourself and family, travel, toys, charities that matter to you and all the rest?
Isn’t it time your agency starts working for YOU, instead of the other way around? Take the proactive step and let’s start the conversation now… you truly have NOTHING to lose and Everything to Gain!
Click Here to learn more about the Agency Blueprint, I highly recommend it!
These two sites are where I go to on a regular basis to keep up to date on SEO.
- Google Analytics: This free tool should be loaded onto every website/blog to measure what phrases that are currently driving traffic to your site.
- Google Adwords Keywords Tool: This free tool from Google helps you determine what keywords potential customers are searching and the demand level for those words.
Copyblogger: They have been a site that I have used for years and read often. The Copyblogger name says it all and it started as website and blog about copywriting. Today it is much more and is a great portal for content marketing, SEO copywriting, Email marketing, Keyword research and Internet marketing in general.
When you have created and packaged your online courses and ebooks you need to get some distribution apart from your own website.
Make money from your blog
- Infolinks: Is one of the largest monetization platforms in the world, helps more than 200,000 publishers worldwide to create additional revenue from their unused ad space, with a suite of advanced ad units powered by real time intent targeting.
- E-Junkie: They provide a shopping cart and secure system to let you sell your downloadable products such as an eBook, software or an online course.
- Clickbank: Helps you monetize your knowledge and audience and is one of the biggest on the planet
- Commission Junction: Another well recognised product distribution network that allows you to reward people for selling your online products
Need help with blog or website design, development or other technical help? Neeed to design and format an eBook then these two sites provide the access to tens of thousand of contractors worldwide that are very cost effective.
General design and development
These are two I have used regularly that are easy to use and very cost effective.
- 99 Designs – This is a great design focused site for logos, web design, business card design, mobile app design and much more.
Virtual assistants and staff
On a visual web having striking images and photos are vital here are 3 sites that I use for finding those images that create a great visual impression.
- Bigstock Photo: This is a paid service but has a huge library with many in high definition.
- Shutterstock: Again you will pay for their images but they have a library of millions of images and photos
- Flickr: This site is where I use to get access to free photos under the creative commons licence that allows you to use photos with attribution
If you want to create great online videos by recording your screen so that you can turn a PowerPoint presentation to a video or walk someone through how to do something online then Camtasia is a great software tool to do that.
It is available for the PC and the Apple Mac
Here are some books that will provide some reading to inspire and educate you along the blogging business journey.
My book “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” and available on Amazon in a Kindle format is a good place to start.
Author: Tim Ferriss
I read this book by Tim Ferriss about 5 years ago when the future promise of the web was starting to become very real as social media took hold. Twitter was just starting and Facebook was getting traction. The book promises to take you from the drudgery of the day job to the dream of doing what you love doing and monetize it on the web.
This book inspired me to start my blog.
Author: Ken Robinson, PhD
This book by Ken Robinson I have read more than once. As I have been a teacher in a previous life, it resonated with me. It provides an inspiring insight into how when finding your passion and combining it with your innate abilities and talents can take a life from drudgery to a masterpiece. He calls this intersection “The Element”.
Included are examples from famous people that have have found the element such as Paul McCartney, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.
Want to learn some of the secrets to take your life to another level?
Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath
This book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is about ideas. If a book inspires you to write a blog post about it, then you know it has touched you. They outline the 6 Principles of “Sticky Ideas” that I now consider when writing or communicating. What are those six principles?
Simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness,credibility, emotions and stories.
If you want to improve your communication skills and make your ideas memorable, then this book should not be ignored.
Author: Stephen King
Stephen King is known more for fiction books than non-fiction. This book is part memoir (for the first 100 pages) and then he reveals in the last 200 pages the basic toolkit for becoming a good or even a great writer.
His passion for writing is obvious and compelling. His life journey is revealing. Three key messages impressed me…the importance of simplicity, starting and persistence. That is just the start of what you will find between its covers.
This book is not just about writing, it is about life.
Authors: Jason Fried and David Hansson
This book is written by Jason Fried and David Hansson who are the founders of 37 Signals which is a very successful software development company (ever heard of the software “Basecamp”). What you find is a lot of ideas to rework your business that they have discovered from personal experience. If you are living in the 21st century and want to know how business is being reinvented that works in a knowledge economy then it is worth reading.
Short punchy chapters packed full of cool ideas and inspiration.
Author: Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek impressed me when I heard him speak. His core message is what makes leaders great and how that leads to companies that succeed and excel. He uses examples (stories) starting with the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs.
Get the “Why” right and then the fun starts. It is also about the art of influence.
7. The New Rules of Marketing & PR “How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly“
Author: David Meerman Scott
I must confess I read it more than twice and hence it has a lot of coffee stains. What I loved about this book was its revelations on how to communicate and market in a digital world. I was tired of the old ways of marketing and selling and David Meerman Scott opened up my eyes to a new paradigm. It is about being authentic and talking plainly. It is also social media 101.
This book preceded the launching of my blog but it is woven into its tapestry.
It should be sitting in your Kindle book list or parked on your shelf after it has been consumed and underlined.
Author: Brendon Burchard
Brendon Burchard is like a “mini me” Tony Robbins. Don’t let that fool you. In this book he reveals how to monetise your knowledge ten different ways and have fun while doing so while adding value to people’s lives.
He provides a glimpse into what he has learned about presenting, writing a book, creating promotional partners (affiliates), promoting seminars, educating online and much more.
If you are a expert or thought leader and you don’t know how to package your ideas and knowledge and sell it, then read this book.
Author: Steven Pressfield
If you want to learn more about the art, the challenges and the processes of the creative sphere then this book is packed full of insights. If you are an artist writer, musician, business person or you are breathing and have a pulse….doesn’t everything involve being creative?…then read this book.
It is about overcoming roadblocks and resistance in life. It is about “doing the work” that is congruent with your purpose and destiny.
Author: Seth Godin
Seth Godin is so visible in the marketing world that he is like a global beacon. I read this book while also reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR. This book flips the model of push marketing to attraction marketing. This book was also instrumental in starting my blogging journey. It is about people giving permission for you to sell to them. I thought that was a cool concept.
Want to see what is important about marketing in a web centric world. Then read this book.
Image by Shutterstock