How to create a successful blog: the complete guide

If you’re wondering “How to start a successful blog?” rest assured that you’ve come to the right place since we’ll give you the answers that you need! How to create a cooking or travel blog? How to set up a fashion or beauty blog? Make yourself comfortable, here is an ad hoc article that will clarify all your doubts.

Together we shall see:

  • what is the definition of the word blog and how it started;
  • tips on how to grow a blog;
  • how to make money with a blog;
  • what to talk about on a blog.

Perhaps you are a company aiming to increase traffic to your site or you are the ultimate expert in a certain field and are eager to share this passion of yours on the web. The fact is that to do all this, you have decided to create a blog.

This is not, however, one of those made as a hobby, thinking I’ll give it a try, if it goes wrong, it doesn’t matter, the important thing is to participate! On the contrary, your goal is to start a successful one, one that attracts interest among readers and also allows you to earn money.

Do you want to learn about the world of blogging? Then I recommend you evaluate the Web Content Manager course.

How to start a successful blog in 9 simple steps

To make a successful blog and earn money from it, you will have to make strategic choices upstream in line with your goals.

The blog died less than a month after its opening. Its creator, a former (in)successful aspiring blogger, makes the sad announcement.

Picture the scene: you have finally set up your personal blog, starting to publish very interesting articles. Time passes but visits are scarce. So you ask yourself “Maybe my articles are uninteresting?” or you start to justify the situation by blaming the cut-throat competition.

As time goes by, seeing the poor results, you get depressed, and you convince yourself it is better to close down, just under a month after opening the blog. The mistake is right here! I will explain why.

Understanding how to set up a blog is not a walk in the park. It is an activity that requires dedication, perseverance, and patience. What is the point of creating a blog? It does not only mean writing articles in the hope that someone will read them. It means first of all defining a concrete strategy with an action plan to ensure success.

“Strategy?! Action plan?! Where do I start?! Helppp!!!” Don’t panic. I have prepared a comprehensive list for you that will help you create a successful blog and develop an ad hoc strategy. Are you curious? Let’s find out together!

But what are the steps to follow? Let us discover them together in detail.

Choosing the CMS

How do you create a blog from scratch? The first step is to choose the CMS (Content Management System) to be used, i.e. the web platform for creating your blog and managing its content.

There are so many free ones out there and many people go for them, captivated by the idea of being able to earn money without spending a penny. Is this really the case? Let us try to clarify.

how to start a successful blog website

Obviously, these web platforms offer many advantages such as:

  • no monetary outlay;
  • the possibility of quick and easy configuration;
  • no technical knowledge or skills are required for their use.

However, not all that glitter is gold. Indeed, with these CMSs:

  • the URL is not customizable;
  • web space is limited;
  • the choice of themes and design is extremely limited;
  • often the platform requires the hosting of advertisements.

It is easy to see that these platforms are perfect for those who want to create a sort of personal online diary in which to tell about themselves and their passions. If, on the other hand, your goal is to earn money and create a free blog, my advice is to start a WordPress blog, the most widely used free CMS in the world.

It is a self-installing and self-configuring software that allows you to create a blog in a few minutes and manage its content in a simple, intuitive way, without any special skills. What is the difference between WordPress and other CMSs and why start a blog with WordPress?

  • is a dynamic system;
  • allows articles to be updated;
  • create your own private domain at a low cost;
  • choose from many free templates;
  • customize themes;
  • create landing pages, sales pages, and registration forms;
  • publish content according to a content plan;
  • insert banners and affiliate links;
  • extend the functionality of WordPress thanks to plug-ins already installed on the platform (plug-ins for statistics, SEO, basic blog security, etc.) and other free ones that can be downloaded and activated directly with a single click (add-ons for e-commerce functions, contact forms, buttons, etc.).

Be careful, however, not to confuse WordPress.org (i.e. the software I just told you about) with WordPress.com (similar to all other free platforms).

add new blog post

If WordPress offers more services than other CMSs and is totally free, why then do not all bloggers use it? Let us also shed light on this point.

To say that WordPress is totally free is not quite correct. In fact, it is only free in the basic version; if you want a domain of your own in which “WordPress” does not appear, if you want more storage capacity, or if you do not want to host advertising imposed by the platform, then you will have to pay a little something.

These are still modest sums compared to the many services made available to you by the platform. If you are a beginner and would like to learn more about WordPress, you might be interested in the WordPress Guide, where you will find all the potential and features of this very useful CMS for creating a blog or a DIY website.

Download the free mini guide to take the first steps!

wordpress specialist mimi guide ebook

The domain to be used

The domain name is the name that will uniquely identify your blog on the web, so I advise you to choose it very carefully, creatively, and originally.

First, when choosing the domain, consider the target audience you will be addressing. Think about how confused readers would be if the domain was VivereperViaggiare.com, but the main topic was fashion (if you are interested in this topic, I recommend our article on how to create a fashion blog). Remember: the domain is of strategic importance as it captures readers attracted by that very name.

Another question to ask yourself before choosing it is: “Do I want to do Personal Branding or Business Branding?”. First, the content will be about you, so it must contain your name or nickname. In the second case, on the other hand, it will be about your company, so it should reflect your company name.

A further element to consider concerns the indication of the name of the CMS within the domain. Unless you are willing to pay to purchase one of your own, the name of the platform used will appear. This constitutes an important economic income for the parent company of the software.

Do you have the right aptitude for writing content for the web? Prove it with a test!

test web content editor

Free or paid hosting?

Hosting is the web space used to physically host the blog. It is important that it has adequate storage capacity, and loading speed and guarantees your constant online presence.

Both free and paid hosting exists. The free ones for creating a corporate blog are not among the best for several reasons:

  • instability/connection problems;
  • reduced storage space;
  • do not guarantee assistance; 
  • a limited number of visits.

Paid hosting is definitely better, as it pays low monthly fees:

  • bypass the problems seen above;
  • guarantee you not only a fast and reliable web space but also the possibility of immediately creating your blog within it. All you have to worry about is signing up for the hosting service, the provider will take care of the rest.

Which WP theme to choose

WordPress offers you numerous free themes from which to choose your online blog design, and if you want something more special or different, you can easily buy more.

Purchasing them is very simple: you simply download them from appropriate sites, as if they were plug-ins, and they are automatically installed on the platform.

Another positive note in favor of WordPress: its themes are responsive, i.e. they adapt in terms of the display to any device, including mobile. Don’t you find this useful, given that nowadays we almost all access the web from smartphones or tablets?

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Identify target audience and tone of voice

The first step is to define your target audience, i.e. all the people or companies you are going to address, who will see in your content (hence in the products/services you offer) the solution to their problems/needs.

“But why define a target group? Isn’t it better to target as many people as possible to have a better chance?”. The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NO! Think about it: lots of users surf the web, but only a very small percentage of them will be interested in your articles.

tone of voice blog

Only with the latter will you be able to establish a lasting relationship based on trust, ensuring their loyalty, regardless of your competitors’ content. If, on the other hand, you do not delimit your niche, you may risk losing your readers at a moment’s notice, thwarting all efforts made up to that point.

So, concretely, how do you create a successful blog and define its target audience? It is very simple. You have to establish the profile of the so-called “buyer personas“, i.e. your typical reader. All you have to do is give him/her your name, age, gender, job, income, family situation, and needs/problems he/she encounters.

find your blog niche

This step is crucial because, depending on the profile of your buyer personas, you can tailor content for them. So each time, before writing articles, repeat these useful steps to create the blog:

  • reread the profile of the typical buyer;
  • ask yourself what problem you want to solve with this article;
  • ask yourself what need you wish to satisfy.

Based on your chosen target audience, you should then use the tone of voice that best suits your audience. The tone of voice means not so much what you say as how you say it. The more you use your readers’ tone of voice, the more “at home” they will feel, and the more you will win their trust and gain authority in their eyes.

Have you ever heard of buyer personas? Do you know why it is essential to profile them in a successful Inbound Marketing strategy? Read the Inbound Marketing Guide on how to create a blog.

Use Lead Magnets

Leads magnets are useful forms for converting blog traffic into prospects (potential customers) by capturing visitor data (e-mail address, personal details, etc.). You may be wondering, what could be the point of collecting such data or information?”.

Well, this is essential data because your blog may be read by a lot of users, but do you know how many will land on it never to return? Hold on to your hat: 90%! And that’s not me saying it, the statistics speak for themselves.

use lead magnets

You can then realize how important it is to collect data from your leads so that you can reach them later and create traffic from nothing: you could for instance launch new products, do surveys, and implement up-sell/cross-sell techniques.

Is all this free? Apparently yes, but in practice no, because in exchange for contacts, you will have to offer them something, e.g. free resources such as free e-books and webinars, promotions, etc.

Choose your topic

What will the blog be about? My advice is to choose a topic that you know well, that you are passionate about, and on which you are constantly updated. This passion of yours will seep through the articles, allowing you to win the trust of those who read.

You could become an industry guru or, a populariser for your audience, an expert blogger, and earn money. Obviously, the topic will have to be of interest, researched on the web, and chosen only after careful research of the market and competitors.

Don’t be frightened if you find that many people have talked about the same topic, it means that that topic is very popular. You can therefore rest assured, you are heading in the right direction to create the blog of your dreams!

choose topic to discuss

Create an editorial plan

After choosing the topic, you will have to create an editorial plan, i.e. a kind of diary in which you plan what to publish and when. What are the benefits of a well-structured PED? It allows you to:

  • always be online with content, not only meeting the expectations of your current readers but also reaching new users;
  • avoid repetition;
  • monitor the performance of published content and modify the schedule if necessary.

Ideally, you should post at least two articles per week for two good reasons:

  • the more you publish, the more likely you are to intercept users on the web and turn them into prospects, by inserting a call to action/opt-in forms that refer to your products/services;
  • Google rewards regularity of publication in favor of indexing your articles.

In short, a well-done editorial plan will be the guide to creating a successful blog!

create editorial plan for blog

In the world of the web, it is not enough to be there, you have to get noticed! There is no point in writing super interesting articles if nobody knows about them.

blog advertisement section

There is no point in making quality content without promoting a blog. Getting noticed is easy and you have plenty of tools at your disposal:

  • SEO: helps you position your articles at the top of the SERP, within the organic section. The results are seen in the medium/long term.
  • SEM: paid advertising to place your articles high in the SERP, above the organic section. This activity gives more immediate results than SEO but is much more expensive.
  • Social networks: they will guarantee a lot of visibility to your content thanks to the shares made.
  • Write guest posts on popular and trafficked blogs: offer content to the hosting platform in exchange for visibility and more trust from Google.
  • Host guest posts written by less popular blogs: in return, they will share their articles among their audience, thus ensuring you more visibility.
  • Publish mention posts: these are posts containing links to the blog or website of influencers who address topics of interest to your buyer personas. These influencers will go on to share your article, granting you visibility among their audience.

In short, there are many strategies to promote a blog. So the choice is yours!

Promoting your blog is essential! Learn how to do it with the best digital marketing tools and strategies

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How do you make money with a blog?

How do you make money with a blog?

You created the blog and started writing content following the strategies I listed in the previous paragraph. In doing so, your traffic grew and you gained a niche of your own. Isn’t there still something missing?

What was your goal? To start a blog and earn money. Is it really possible to write for the web and monetize? Let’s find out together!

Preferred earning methods

Earning from a blog is certainly possible. How? By monetizing your contacts, i.e. converting them into potential customers. This means:

  • induce prospects to buy, if you are a company selling goods or services;
  • entice potential customers to request a quote if you offer consultancy;
  • encourage prospects to make a donation if you are a non-profit organization.

Those just described are called active as opposed to passive forms of gain. The latter can be distinguished into direct and indirect gain.

forms of direct income from blog

Forms of direct gain include:

  • advertising banners: after subscribing to a free advertising platform such as Google Adsense, you will receive an HTML code to insert on the blog. By doing so, advertising banners consistent with that particular article will automatically appear. Every display or click on that banner will secure your earnings. These will be higher the more interesting content the articles offer;
  • selling advertising space: if you have achieved relevant success, you could sell advertising space to other bloggers, giving them visibility. In time, you might even be contacted directly by interested companies;
  • affiliations: simply sign up with affiliate programs such as Amazon, inserting the relevant links in the article. Every purchase made by readers of your blog via those links will guarantee you compensation. It is not trivial to earn money with affiliations, the secret is to make a careful analysis of your audience and your needs;
  • publishing reviews: once you have obtained substantial traffic, some companies may ask you to publish (for a fee) reviews of their products;
  • selling training courses: if you have gained notoriety in that area or consider yourself an expert in the subject, you could sell training courses on your blog. People will pay to learn the tricks of the trade. Also, you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to hold these courses (e.g. for room rental), you can give them via the web by making video calls thanks to the many free apps available online;
  • Indirect payments, on the other hand, occur when you use inbound marketing techniques. You try to attract people to your blog and turn them over time into potential customers to whom you can see something and build a lasting relationship of trust. Or you use the blog as a showcase to make yourself known as a professional, putting the aspect of financial return on the back burner. As time goes by, companies interested in your profession may contact you, offering you a job.

Earning online with a blog: how much is it worth?

“You want to start a blog?! Are you crazy? Didn’t anyone tell you that they are dying!?!”. Many are convinced that the blog is dying because it is overshadowed by social networks. This is not entirely true.

It is not dying at all, but it is transforming into something different. Look for example at how the comments left under articles have shrunk compared to the very long conversations made on social. Despite this, the blog is still one of the most important channels for Inbound Marketing.

This is demonstrated by research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute according to which in 2018, blogging was among the most effective channels for disseminating content in B2C, along with E-Mail Marketing and Social Media.

Moreover, it is among the safest communication channels as it is not tied to specific platforms, unlike activities carried out on social networks.

Most popular blogs made

Curious to know how much a blogger earns? There are many bloggers on the scene who have gained popularity thanks to this platform. Let’s find out together:

  • Aranzulla: founded by Salvatore Aranzulla, under each article you will find comments/shares, with a community that awaits the regular publication of new content. This blog anticipates, intercepts, and answers users” doubts in the IT and technology fields (computers, telephony, Internet).
  • The Blonde Salad: launched by Chiara Ferragni, the most famous digital entrepreneur. Chiara, who has always loved fashion style, posted photos here in which she wore different outfits and talked about her life as a student. She also dispensed fashion advice and did so spontaneously, as a friend would. In 2011, she was honored by Vogue as Blogger of the Moment for exceeding 1 million visits as well as 12 million monthly impressions. The Blonde Salad, which began as a personal diary, has now become a full-fledged editorial and e-commerce project, managed by an editorial team headed by Chiara Ferragni.
  • Federica Piersimoni: founded in 2008 by Federica Piersimoni, it focused exclusively on travel. She later opened a second one in which she also talked about lifestyle and food. Thanks to the blog Federica did personal branding until one day she received an offer to become a partner in a communication agency. Today Federica has realized her professional dream: she works as a social advisor, helping companies to set up ad hoc Influencer Marketing campaigns to achieve their goals.
  • Mangia Vivi Viaggia (Eat Live Travel): a blog started by Gianluca Gotto, a young man from Turin who, after finishing high school, decided to leave his city and travel the world in search of happiness. It took some time, but he finally found it: he managed to turn his love for writing into his dream job, that of web writer, becoming one of the most popular travel bloggers. All this without giving up his passion for travel, which led him to become a digital nomad and earn money working remotely. Subsequently, he came up with the idea of opening “Eat Live Travel” to share his experience together with that many other people who have found happiness through alternative lifestyle choices. Because at the end of the day, the recipe for happiness is really simple: “eat, live, and travel”.
  • Viaggio solo andata (One-way trip): founded by Marco Mignano and Ilaria Cazziol, it is about the long-term journey. It all started when the two young people left their jobs to change their lives. They created this blog to tell about their journey and their path of personal and professional growth. Over time, a community of loyal readers has formed and the blog has become a reference point for many people who decide to embark on a one-way journey. Today Marco and Ilaria work as digital nomads and have become entrepreneurs of themselves thanks to their blog.

As you may have noticed, each of the blogs just described has its own story. All they have in common is the factor that brought them success. Magic recipes? Luck? None of the above. Just a lot of perseverance, persistence, and the ability not to give up, were demonstrated by their founders.

And are you ready to follow their example? Now you also know how to create a successful blog, so don’t keep procrastinating and take action!

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