I started my first blog way back in 2009. And for the first few years, I failed constantly. I would continuously throw up new blogs hoping each time that “this was the one” – The one that would finally be successful and turn into a significant business for me.
Time after time, I failed. I would publish dozens of blogs posts, but get no traffic.
Sometimes, I would rank #1 for my target keywords. But even then… I would only get a few hundred visitors per month. Not bad, but not ENOUGH to call it a successful blog.
A successful blog has tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of visitors every month. By those standards, my blog getting 100 visitors per month total was nothing.
It wasn’t until 2013, four years after I put up my first blog, that I crossed 100K visitors per month with a blog for the first time. By this point, I had put up dozens of different blogs and tried just about every strategy I read about online.
I quit my day job, and tackled blogging full-time. And since then, I’ve been able to apply the same principles and strategies and grow several more blogs past the 100K visitors per month mark.
And in this guide, I’m going to share some of these blogging tips with you.
What qualifies as a successful blog?
Before we dive into the blogging tips, let’s talk about what makes a blog successful. For me, a blog is successful when it crosses its first 10K visitors per month mark. That’s the beginning.
Once it crosses 50K visitors per month, that’s enough growth to monetize it and turn it into a full-time income for you.
Once it crosses 100K visitors per month, that’s when the blog becomes an ultra valuable asset that has the potential to become a 7 figure business.
So yes, for me, it’s all about the traffic numbers. Once you’re able to grow traffic to the blog, you have a lot of options to monetize and make money.
1. Install WordPress.ORG
WordPress.org is the blogging platform I’ve used since my very first blog. It makes starting a blog incredibly easy. Things that used to take days now take minutes.
There are two versions of WordPress. The .COM version and the .ORG version. The .COM version is the free version. Do not choose this one. It may be free, but it comes with its disadvantages. You’ll be restricted to the rules of their platform, and most importantly, you won’t technically own your blog.
You should instead use the .ORG version. This will give you full control and ownership of your blog. To install WordPress.ORG you will need to host your blog on your own hosting plan. Here’s a full tutorial on starting a WordPress blog.
2. Choose the best blog hosting
I’ve written about my most recommended blog hosting in further detail here. If your blog is brand new, get a hosting plan from Bluehost. It’s cheap, reliable, and one of the most popular options out there. They also give you a free domain name when you register.
I started all my new blogs on Bluehost myself. Once they started to grow, I moved them over to a more advanced solution.
3. Install Analytics
It’s important to install analytics software on your blog from day 1. I recommend Google Analytics and Clicky. Here’s the step by step guide on how to install them on your blog.
The only way to know if your blog is growing or not is to check your analytics. It’ll show you how many visitors you got, what they are doing, where they’re coming from, etc.
Additionally, it’s essential you have this information if one day you decide to sell the site. Buyers NEED access to your analytics to check it out before buying. If you don’t have it, it’s going to be a very difficult sell.
4. Write better content, not more content in the beginning
The first 5 articles that you publish on your blog should be ultra high quality. I’m talking about really well-written, in-depth stuff.
This is to set a precedent on your blog. It sets the tone and quality level for the future. You don’t want to slap up 5 mediocre 500-word articles on your blog to start. You can scale up content production later. But the first few should get extra attention and detail.
5. Publishing schedule should match your goal
The amount of content you publish should match your goal with the blog. What’s your definition of a successful blog?
Is it 1000 visitors? 100K visitors? 1M visitors?
If it is 1000 visitors per month you don’t need that much content. A single article targeting a low volume keyword that ranks can get you there.
But if it’s 100K or 1M visitors per month, you need to ramp up your content production and rank for more keywords.
6. Promote your blog (and yourself)
For a brand new blog, if you’re just publishing articles and doing no promotion, you’re not going to get any visitors for a long time.
You might rank for a low competition keyword or two and drive a few visitors to your blog from Google after a few months, but it’s important to focus on growing traffic actively through promotion.
The easiest way to do this is to form relationships with other bloggers in your niche. Reach out to 100 bloggers in your niche and introduce yourself as a fellow blogger in the same niche. These conversations can eventually lead to guest posts, partnerships, and them sharing or linking to your content.
7. Build an email list
If you ask the most successful bloggers what their biggest mistakes were when they were just starting out, it’s that they didn’t build their email list sooner.
An email list allows you to contact your audience whenever you want. It’s a list of people who sign up to hear more from you. Whenever you have a new blog post, it’s an instant way to get eyeballs on your site. This can lead to blog comments, links, and shares to your new content.
It’s also a great way to sell your own products or do affiliate promotions. For example, if you had no email list when you launched your own product, you would have nobody to tell about it. You would have to plaster ads all over your blog and hope that people click through. If you have an email list, all you need to do is send one email and that can translate into hundreds or thousands of visitors on your page instantly.
8. Find your best monetization method
Want to make money blogging? Then you need to have a form of monetization.
There are many different options to choose from: affiliate marketing, selling advertising, selling your own products, or even offering services.
The best method will be different depending on your blog niche. Adsense is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make money with your blog. But for some niches, building an email list and selling your own products can be the quickest way to reach 6-figures in income.
9. Do keyword research
What you don’t want to do is randomly throw up blog post after blog post. You want to approach your content creation with a keyword strategy.
Ranking for keywords on Google is the best way to get free, long-term traffic to your blog. In fact, if you look at all the most successful blogs in the world, you’ll see that they rank for the most and biggest keywords in their niche.
Use KWFinder to find high search volume keywords.
You can also use a tool like SEMrush to see what your competitors are ranking for, then create content around those keywords yourself.
10. Optimize your on-page SEO
On-page SEO is one of the easiest ways to optimize your blog for search engines. The biggest thing you should be paying attention to is your title tag. Optimizing your title tag for your keyword will ultimately help you rank for it.
There are several other things you can do, and you can read all about them here.
11. Build backlinks
Professional SEO’s are usually the best at growing a blog. Why? Because search traffic is the best, most consistent and reliable form of traffic.
Backlinks (links from other websites to your blog) are the #1 factor in getting higher rankings and more search traffic.
One of the best ways to build backlinks is to steal your competitor’s backlinks. Use a tool like Link Miner by Mangools to see all the backlinks that a site has. Simply input a competing website, analyze their backlinks, and you can build them for yourself.
If you’re not familiar with link building, make it a goal to get good at this skill. Start by reading this link building guide.
12. Speed up your blog
Want to speed up your blog by 300% in under 10 minutes without spending a penny? Over the years, I’ve tried a ton of different things to speed up my WordPress blogs.
But nothing was as effective as installing CloudFlare. You can check out this tutorial on how you can do it.
If you haven’t done this already, add this to your “must do” in your to do list. It’s the easiest way to significantly gain performance with your blog.
Site speed is also a ranking factor in Google!
13. Get professional blog photos
Images make your blog look livelier and more professional. They also make your blog posts more engaging.
In the past, it was difficult to find professional looking photos for your blog without paying for them. Today, there are a ton of different websites that offer really great photos you can use for free.
14. Keep your blog design simple and clean
This is especially important for brand new blogs. Keep your blog layout and design super clean and minimal.
Don’t have a sidebar if you have nothing to put in it.
Don’t link to a bunch of irrelevant pages from your navigation menu.
Just link to the essentials and make your content stand out. Use a clean, readable font, and make sure that nothing is clustered.
A clean and minimal blog looks professional even when you don’t have a lot of content.
15. Don’t give up
Blogging is a long-term project. It’s not something you throw up, work on for a few months, then expect to get millions of visitors to your blog.
Sadly, that’s how the majority of people approach it. Instead, you should wait at least 6 months to a year before expecting to see significant results. This is especially true for brand new blogs.
Don’t give up. It’s completely normal to take this long. If you can’t handle that, don’t start at all. It’ll be a waste of a few months for you.
The people who build successful blogs are those that stick with it for longer than a year. I realize it can be tough to stick with something for that long when you’re brand new and don’t know what to expect.
But I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade now. It doesn’t matter your experience or skill level. All blogs take at least 6 months to a year to finally gain traction. It’s just the way it works.
Going in knowing that already can drastically help your confidence and persistence in blogging.
There are a lot of moving parts to starting a successful blog. In the end, the most important part is your content. As a blog, your content is your most valuable asset. Make it a principle to only publish the best, most helpful content around your target keywords.
If you can do that, the other parts will make it easier.
Have other questions about building a successful blog?
If you have any other questions about starting a successful blog, feel free to contact me here and I’ll try to help you out as best I can.