How to Start A Blog That Makes Money
Learn How Niche Content Sites Work
YOUR FIRST STEP:
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NEXT: WHICH ONLINE BUSINESS ROADMAP INTERESTS YOU MOST?
I’ve covered lots of different types of business ventures on this site. I think for anyone starting out, it’s important to know what roadmap options you have ahead of you, after all it's your future. Most importantly to try and focus on the idea that you have the most interest in.
NOW: HOW TO START AN AFFILIATE NICHE BLOG
Learn How To Start A Blog
This might sound like a weird way to make money but it is a legit way to make money online while building a business and controlling your lifestyle.
Blogging is one method that can start the ball rolling for you to take charge of your career and provide the work-life balance you want. It does take time at no point am I suggesting this is a magic pill that cues bad money management, improves health and makes you a squillionaire.
You need to be creative, dedicated and disciplined to complete the work that must be done.
The best part about starting a blog is the learning curve. You don’t need to be a coder or a technical marketer you just need to know how to write and perform basic website edits. I’ve been blogging for a long time and I find it relaxing creating content and writing for specific audiences. Now we covered the process down for a beginner to follow along and understand step by step what’s involved.
No scams or fake claims just legit actionable advice that you can use to grow your new business.
Building Your Online Business Roadmap
- 1 The Research> Keywords > Domain > Market and > Competitor research
- 2 The Website> Buy a Domain > Buy Web Hosting > Setting Up Your Website > Site Architecture
- 3 Keyword Targeting> Keyword Research > Content Planning > How to Use Keywords
- 4 Building Your Blog> Blog Foundations > Blog Site Structure > How Many Blogs > How Bloggers Get Paid > Essential Settings
- 5 Getting Traffic> Owning Your Traffic > Traffic Sources > Whats Next
- 6 Journey Timelines> Average Timelines > Adjustments > Optimisation
1 The Research
Market research is everything. The opportunity qualifier step that makes it all possible. We just need to find a gap in the market that we can happily target to start the journey.
Make your content a priority. The faster you get content published the faster you build momentum.
The Secret To Success
How To Build A Website: Start Here
I have been where you are right now, searching for more than my crumby 9-5 job. Looking to the internet to make money online and work from home in my underpants. When you say it out loud it seems a bit crazy to think that this can be real. For so long I couldn’t talk to my friends about what I do because they didn’t understand. It was also an awkward conversation because I was all in on this but they would rag on me for being in some scheme attached to get rich quick scams.
I recommend starting a blog using WordPress.com. Creating a blog with WordPress is easy and you can get a basic website built in a day or two and fully filled out to start blogging in a week. I suggest making a good blog and not a perfect blog to start with. You can come back and flash the look and feel up later with a premium theme that has high quality features later. My goal for you today is that we throw mud at the wall and see what sticks with a dash of research behind our mud throwing arm :).
Blogging is not a get rich quick scam, it takes months of consistent work and like a garden, it needs to tended to weekly at least at the beginning. When you have some momentum you will start to see how your website can make you money.
The 7 key takeaways of this blog are:
- Research a niche considering the market landscape
- Choosing either a branded or keyword-rich domain name
- Setting up your blog with WordPress
- Choose profitable and highly relevant keywords and search phrases
- Plan and create the content of your website
- Generate website traffic and promote your new business
- Add money-making elements to your website so you get paid
The key takeaways are just an overview of what you need to put in place as foundational measures. There is so much more than you can do but I want you to place most of your focus on the above bullet points. These are your critical triggers that will put money in your pocket and put your website in Google’s index.
One exercise that’s paid off time and time again for me has been putting in a solid couple hours on market research and niche discovery.
BUT… before we select our target niche, we have to understand the WAY niche blog selection works for this TYPE of content rich affiliate blog we’re going to build. If you are reading multiple blogs and trying to figure out the best way to start blogging and make money online, you should factor in search intent as a primary focus. Not many of the start a blog sites you will be reading will give this more than a sentence in passing.
Google has completely changed how the rank and feature content in the last 6 months. The OLD way of building a niche blog was to focus on low competition long tail keywords that could bring in some traffic and start to get the momentum moving so you could get that first $100 in your hand. It WAS easy to rank these blogs and make money blogging.
Today this is much harder. There are affiliate content sites everywhere and now even the large brands are getting on the typical affiliate low competition easy ranking keywords.
The NEW way of building affiliate content blogs is to look at search intent behind the keyword. I also like to look at the big players in the search results and try and mimic some of their authority. This shift in targeting has taken a bit of adjustment but it is what is working here and now.
There are three pathways to take:
- Build a niche blog site with the aim of flipping for x30 multiplier of the revenue
- Build a niche blog to work on as a hobby when you can and enjoy the creative freedom
- Build a niche blog that you can grow into a real business and an authority content site
I don’t recommend one over the other I have a finger in all 3 pies and it really doesn’t matter what path you pick.
I think for anyone wanting to escape the day job you should be thinking about building a business and turning it into an authority content site
Benefits of using this strategy:
1. It’s sustainable and long-term. You don’t need to worry about Google updates destroying your blog traffic overnight. You are building a content asset for the long play.
2. It’s passive once you build authority to the site, especially when using Ezoic advertising. I frequently take a month off and my blog generated income stays the same or even increases. The beauty of Advertising.
3. You build a REAL business. $5-10k/month is a real business. We’re going to be driving a lot of traffic to our niche blog and you have a lot of opportunities to grow this into a full fledged content business
4. You have an amazing valuable content asset. A site making $8k/month can be sold for around $200,000-$260,000. Especially with the type of backlinks and the amount of genuine authority we’re going to be building to our site, that alone makes the domain extremely valuable to potential buyers.
Below we cover my niche market research and how you can take a proven step by step guide to find niches that you can target.
One of the leading indicators in starting a money-making blog is the niche. If you pick an oversaturated niche you will not be successful. If you pick a niche with no competition, that usually means that others could not sustain a business in that niche and the money is not very good. Picking your niche is a key process in building a successful blog.
Choose A Niche:
This will be one of the hardest choices you make when building your blog. Where to start?. I know I’ve built a lot of blogs and this is where I get stuck the most the actual selecting what you be spending the next 6 months building with your blood sweat and tears.
This is also a critical part of starting your blog. Keyword research used to be a very simple process but in recent months the focus has shifted to search intent and user satisfaction.
Every successful website uses several key content pillars that are the main topics and keywords of that website. Your blog won’t be any different. I suggest looking at your competitors and checking how they use content and blogs to see if they have a specific style for content promotion.
What’s Your End Goal?
You must have an end goal in your mind before you start building your blog. You can pray and spray just to get the momentum but in your mind, you must have a goal that you are working towards.
There are a couple of types of websites
- General Barometer site
- Niche site
- Content Factory site
- Authority site
Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. They each have a timeframe they will need to reach a level where you can make money consistently from them. I’ll say this upfront the authority and content factory sites will be the long play for you where you would ultimately want to end up.
I would suggest you think of this path as you would building a real-world physical business. Take it just as serious as YOU CAN flip these websites when they get to a profit and decent size for a large return on investment.
For beginners, I strongly suggest looking at either a general barometer site or a niche-focused site that you can build into something bigger.
Authority & content factory sites will be expensive to build and maintain. Until you have the trust and social proof from your following you just have to build and build. That all adds up.
Smaller niche or general sites can get traction much faster by covering specific topics that appeal to their audiences. The easier way to start and also much cheaper to get started from $80-150 start-up investment.
Your immediate goal is to build something that can generate revenue. Your long term goal should be to build something that you will either retain and maintain as it grows or builds the asset to then be flipped for high revenue multiple figures.
Niche Market Research
Taking the plunge into online marking is a daunting foot the first time you get stuck into it. My first dive into this type of project was a disaster and so was my rebound attempt and the one after that. But the next couple were not so bad they made me some money. What was the difference? I had experience not much but more than before and I improved my market research to allow me a chance.
A chance to be successful is all you need to make your first online dollar. There are broad niches like finance, health, pets and make money online type niches that can stretch far and wide and very very deep.
The first discovery platform you will want to learn from and explore is discoveryahobby.com which lists just about every mainstream hobby known to humankind. Start here and list down a couple of the hobbies that interest you the most.
Here are a few more great topic discovery sources.
1. Udemy – Udemy has high-quality courses on a variety of topics. If people are willing to purchase a course about it, chances are it’s a pretty popular topic. You’ll come up with a lot of great ideas browsing through their courses. Go through different categories and check the topic and subtopic lists to see if there is anything that grabs your attention.
2. About.com – About.com has a huge A-Z list and is just a sprawling blog of interesting stuff. They write about every topic you can think of, and rank for virtually every keyword out there. This list is their A-Z list of all the topics they write about.
3. RedditList – Ever wonder what the hottest trending topics and subreddits are on Reddit? This website shows you in real-time. Although a lot of Reddit's subreddits are not niche-site topics, you’ll often come up with some great ideas browsing what’s trending.
4 StumbleUpon – Great for topic research and discovery. This allows you to take a deep dive into just about any topic on the internet.
5 Amazon – The category list of products that they sell is a great way to see what is actually selling online. Then diving into each category allows you to see what the subcategory is within that top-level category. Amazon also has movers & shakers lists and trending products that you can use to guide you as well.
6. YouTube – Just a giant platform of opportunity. One of my favourite places to find niche ideas is on YouTube and we can help justify our niche by looking at metrics like views, likes and comments. The channel topics you find yourself going to most often is probably going to be a good idea to start your niche blog about since you have an interest in it.
From the list above collect 3-4 categories that interest you. Within those topic categories, you should list out 4 or so subcategories that you will be focusing on for your blog. You don’t need to do the keyword research here but you should do basic top-level keyword research just to cement that you are on the money trail.
When we say the riches are in the niches it’s true, there is money in specific niches. To get this money you would take a seed niche like pets as an example and dive into all the topics that steam from pets.
Off the top of my head I would list out the following:
3 Pygmy Goats
These are four categories within Pets.
Category 1 dogs and 2 cats are quite broad this still is not deep enough to give you a fighting chance. The categories of 3 pygmy goats and 4 snakes now that’s starting to look much better as niche selections.
This might explain it more:
- Broad term
- Category Topic
- Sub Category
Then relate the above to your keywords:
- Indoor snakes
- Indoor snake housing
What you will want to do is find a large broad term with a lot of interest and start drilling down into that to explore categories and the subcategories and eventually find a suitable niche that you can build your new blog around.
If we were to use our snake’s example, we could focus on the houses that indoor snakes live in as our niche. That keeps us focused tightly on our niche. We could take a step back and build our blog around indoor snakes and then include more indoor snake related content and money-making streams.
For this example, let’s keep it super simple.
Our focus topic is Indoor snake houses.
We need to get a feel for what is out there. We need to see several factors to get a feel for the market. This is a basic supply and demand assessment.
1 We need to do some keyword research around what people use to find this niche
2 We need to see what already exists for those search terms
3 We need to see what affiliate programs or products exist that we can promote or sell
4 We need to know search volume and actual click-through rates to estimate earnings
5 We need to review our competition
This is quite niched down so it’s a good example for building targeted niche sites that speak directly to a niche type of audience. For this, you can plan out your topics and your content schedules. I like to whiteboard my user journey and the way that they would search for my keywords. This allows me to take a different look at my customers and how they search. The bonus here is I uncover new search terms, new solutions, new problems and increase my understanding of search intent.
image source: Ahrefs.com
Answering the search intent is one sure-fire way to get people who are interested in your niche on your website. This increases your chances of putting targeted content in front of targeted audiences who have a problem that your content or review answers. This is how the process of traffic works. You have good helpful content that will help people solve problems, the biggest problem people who fail at this have is they can not connect problem and solution via search intent.
When this clicks for you I want to warn you, you may experience an adrenaline boost and start to get a craving for making even more search intent bridges for people to solve problems. I’ll be honest with you that I LOVE the feeling of cracking the bridge of search intent from I have a problem to this guy has the solution.
I’ll show you how to do more in-depth keyword research for your blog further down this guide and tell you what tools to use to get the data on each topic.
Mapping out each main page of your website can be a nerve-wracking exercise but a critical one. Building to complex and you risk confusing not only readers but the Googlebot so I always say keep it super simple.
Our custom domain allows us to have a little creative freedom with our website structure. We will want to have a plan for how we store and serve pages and posts. WordPress is great as a blogging platform and we can customise the WordPress theme to our liking. But the page and navigation structure will need the real focus, this set up the blog for success.
Now if all this is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, I’ve built a training course that explains each pathway that you can take. This explains each roadmap and the use case for getting started with that money-making method.
What will each module include?
- Detailed overview of the pathway
- How much competition to expect
- What the average earnings are per pathway
- How realistic is it that you can do this for a living
I’ve worked in most of these methods and can give you first-hand information, share some failures and some successes so you can have a realistic overview of what you can expect if you want to work online for a career.
The below image helps to showcase some category topics for our niche site. This uses the type of category of web hosting breaking them into 3 main categories. This is how you should think of categorising your website content.
Step 2 The Website
Everything you need to start a blog can be found here. This is a well researched and crafted list of must-haves to start building your freedom. This step in the process will require you to purchase some assets, software and web hosting.
Everything You Need To Start A Blog
Now we will start the setup of your blog. You need a couple of things before you can start your blog and these are unavoidable costs to get started. Selecting the best blogging platform The next step is to find the best-suited blog name for our new content niche site. to find a unique blog name made just for you. I suggest using a custom domain name.
Choose a domain name that makes it easy for people to remember you and for your niche blog to stand out.
Buy a Domain Name:
You need a domain name
The one key thing you will need is a domain name. This is the place people will visit online. I like to build long term brands and not just churn and burn sites. You should always go for a custom domain name and have it somewhat branded. Many new bloggers go for an exact keyword domain name and it can be a roadblock as you try to grow and expand the blog.
There are three schools of thought about this and I’m always testing this for best results.
- Choose a brand name domain
- Choose a partial keyword match domain
- Choose an exact match keyword domain
The brandable domain allows you to build a long term brand and have higher chances of expansion of topics. You will also get a higher payout when and if you decide to flip this site later on.
Partial match domains include a keyword with another word in the domain name. These work well but do put some restrictions on your ability to be relevant for some topics.
Now the exact match keyword in a domain name is a super quick way to rank your site because of domain name relevance. But this will also pigeon hole you to one single topic, ringing true to the naming convention of a True niche site. They talk about 1-3 topics under the main topic.
Where can you buy domains?
I like to split my domains up in a couple of accounts. Always thinking of safety and diversity. For you starting with your first niche website I would suggest using one domain registrar.
I suggest NameSilo.com or NameCheap.com as great choices for registering domains.
Domains range from $7-16 a year for standard domains.
You may be surprised but domain name flipping is an actual business modal that can be quite lucrative. Some domains can retail for thousands and thousands because of the name, perceived value or the age of the domain. I’ll cover this more on the blog for those interested.
Register your domain for 1 or 2 years and I suggest using WHOIS name privacy. This keeps you safe when registering your domain.
Now very important! Save your access details and the domain name particulars and registration expiry dates somewhere safe like your site manager excel sheet or password manager.
I like to use a couple of domain registers for my blogs but for beginners, I suggest using just 1.
I like Namesilo.com and Namecheap.com for buying domains.
Basically, you will create an account and save your info somewhere safe and where you can easily access it later on.
The average cost of a domain ranges between $8-14 per year. Different prices are depending on what extension you choose like .com.au, .io, .net or like me here using a $0.99 domain with a .xyz.
Buy Website Hosting:
You need a hosting account
Every website needs some form of hosting where the website lives. Your domain will connect to the web hosting by adding some connecting ID’s. The hosting account should include a cPanel where you or a developer can set up the website and [email protected] email addresses.
For beginners, this can be very confusing and I’ll be honest it took me a lot of playing around to know what to do in this part of my hosting account. You pay per month for web hosting and blog hosting. This in most circumstances can not be avoided.
Starting a blog has a lot of moving parts but you shouldn’t be overwhelmed, take it step by step. You have no need to rush through this process to create a blog site. Take your time, do it in chunks if that makes it easier.
Hosting is what your domain name will live on top of. The hosting keeps the domain name live on the web. I use self-hosted WordPress blogs to save time and money. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform by far. I think the WordPress dashboard is easy to navigate for a beginner and allows enough visual display that you can pick it up quite fast.
You need website hosting to be the place that powers your domain name. This is where your domain name will live. Hosting plays a part in website performance and below I’ve listed 3 hosting providers for each type of blogger that have a mix of affordability, performance and then mid-tier.
You will be able to make email addresses for your websites in your web host cPanel, create aliases, redirects, set security levels and configure a lot of extra features and layers for your website. This is NOT for beginners to play around with and I would expect beginners to spend a lot of time with tech support at least on their first website setup.
I always create a couple of email address for my niche blog when I build it. Usually, these are like Admin, Sales, Hello and then an actual name like [email protected] for some outreach type tactics later on in the build process.
My suggested hosting providers
- BlueHost for beginners with 1 site starting at $299 monthly
- DreamHost for beginners with 2 sites
- Kinsta for fast load times and scale as you need web hosting.
The average cost of website hosting ranges from $3 to $9 monthly.
For one blog I suggest Blue Host an affordable hosting option.
For really fast hosting and more than 1 website, I like Kinsta web hosting.
The good news is these providers do this full time and have a decent knowledge base and support tutorials for when you do get stuck. We all start somewhere and I’m sure as hell I would have wasted many hours of my first web hosting support person day with my random “I’m stuck” questions. They are your hosting provider and they can help you buy you need to ask.
I install WordPress myself but you may need a bit more help if it's your first time starting a blog.. You can ask your web hosting provider to help you install WordPress for you.
TBC I will create and upload a guide showing you how to do this later. Self-hosted WordPress blogs are easy to use and by far the most popular way to start blogging.
Once this is set up you are all good to go.
Now you can start building your blog.
Setting Everything Up:
Now you need to set up all of the things. I like to do the set up in sections and especially when you dig into the nuts and bolts of building a conversion-focused website it can get techy fast.
To start you should try to complete the following tasks first before moving to site architecture.
Your To-Do List:
- Buy the domain name
- Buy the website hosting
- Add hosting server records to the domain name
- Instal WordPress blog from your cPanel hosting.
- Configure WordPress basic settings
- Add your website theme
- Add your required plugins
Once you have ticked off all of these tasks you can start thinking about building out your site. The key is that the website is live and it’s ready for Google to know it exists.
Once your new website is all set up you are ready to start blogging. The blogs themselves are designed to show up in Google when people search for things like “How to do I set up a WordPress blog?”. This is what this blog is designed to do.
You should aim to have a few articles that help you build your topic relevance on the niche that you are targeting. The aim is to well and truly cover the topic that you are targeting so well that you have a lot of search term variations for that topic. Google will see these articles as helpful information and your website answering the questions related to your target topic, this will help Google categorise you as a good reference for information about that target topic.
My Estimate For How many articles will you need:
- You will want at least 10 articles
- You will want 5 pages at least
- You will need some legal pages
This is a baseline measurement because variables do matter but on a universal estimate, 10 articles should give you some traction around your topic. I’ll show you how we target what search terms and questions so you can get more from your articles later on this article.
Source: Ahrefs – They visually explain it so well.
Creating 10 Articles
Here is where you will be doing a lot of the work. This content is required for you to get any momentum with your blog. I say 10 pages as a start because every niche and SERP is unique, but 10 is a decent baseline measurement for you to cover that topic.
I like to split these into 4 or 5 articles as an informational keyword focused. This helps get the search intent for curious people who want to know more about the topic.
I would strongly suggest targeting 3 or 4 articles on transactional search terms and search intent. This will be more likely visitors to click on the links to your sales offers or promoted products.
For the last 1 or 2 articles I would focus on very long-tail keywords like 4 or 5 word or longer topics. The reason I say this is because these are quite long the search intent is very specific and it’s easier for you to get to page 1 faster for these terms. If you are a beginner this will also give you some confidence seeing your pages listed on Google on page 1 for your new blog. That feeling is amazing when you first see the power of SEO.
Building 5 Pages
Now pages are very different from posts on your website. Think of pages as permanent pages and posts as temporary things.
You can use your websites home page as an actual static or fixed page where you can introduce your website and its key terms and lead-ins to offers or you can use a blogroll as the homepage. I like to use a fixed homepage.
It’s good to have a couple of pages that you can use to funnel your readers.
Basic pages I like to setup:
- Home page
- About page
- Contact page
- Tools or Resources page
- Mega page (like this one)
My mega pages act as a controller page for a collection of topics. Depending on how busy I have been each section on this guide should lead you to a connecting page that is specifically targeting one topic from this guide.
Building Legal Pages
Step 3 Keyword Targeting
We focus on keyword targeting, keyword research and content strategy in this step to give our blog the best chance at success.
Researching & Building Your Keyword Set
Now we have built all the framework for our money-making blog we can start to blog. What we need to do is call on our keyword research from earlier and use the most appropriate keywords or search phrases as our content focuses. We will aim to build out several articles focused on a specific topic.
We will be drawing on our topic and keyword research from Step 1’s market research chapter. Once you have that ready to go you will be doing a little more in depth keyword research to make sure you have search volume per month and website traffic generating topics that will help you make money blogging.
Free keyword research tools
- Google Keyword Planner
- Mangol Tools (limited free searches per day)
Paid keyword research tools
I firmly believe in 2020 and beyond that, there is no universal guide for keyword research. I think it’s better to use a 3 pronged research process to get a clear understanding of what type of keywords, terms and search phrases people will be using.
- Review top Google searches
- Look the relevant niche sites for ideas
- Understand questions people ask around the topics inside the niche
If you can bundle these three questions together to create a keyword set that covers informational and transactional queries.
With the hundreds of keyword research guides available online I just don’t want you to follow blindly because some blogger is trying to make a buck. The way to do research involves doing research and not blindly following numbers provided by the software.
Editor Note: When you nail your keyword targeting most of the heavy lifting is done for you. Its easier to get visibility in search engines with clever keyword research and pages that provide quality information to searchers looking for the topic.
Ok what do we actually do with our keyword and topic lists?
We are looking to qualify our keyword targeting for our blog topics.
Your primary topic and keywords should have a search volume of 2,000 to 8,000 monthly searches. I would avoid targeting keywords that have around 20,000+ search volume to start with. We need to crawl before we walk.
Why over 5k searches/month? Because these are our main, biggest keywords. We want to build our sites in the beginning with the plan to get as much search traffic as possible. If our biggest keywords are only getting 500 searches per month, it’s not worth the effort.
Although I like to go after keywords with over 8,000 searches per month, for a beginner anything from 10,000 and up is fine if you have some momentum behind your blog posts.. We’ll go through how to combine the biggest keywords together and power up your blog posts later in this guide.
Go through this step for all the niche topics you noted down. Not every niche topic will have big keywords that get over 8,000 searches per month.
Next, we have to analyse the competition to see if it’s something we’ll be able to rank our site for.
The considerations you need to have when researching your niche and competition will involve the following elements:
- Your website (authority, number of pages, quality of content, etc);
- Your business goals and objectives (branding, exposure, traffic, leads, sales);
- Your budget, resources and deadlines;
- Your niche or industry and competitive landscape.
This is why I suggest edging on the side of caution when reading random keyword research articles online.
Let’s start a quick competitor research check
First Step: Review Google Search for existing authority sites
The first thing that I do is make sure that the rankings aren’t mission impossible. What do I mean by mission impossible? I mean a search results page with existing authority sites, government pages and official company sites. These are pages that will NEVER be beaten. They’re just the most relevant search for the keyword you chose. End of story.
If you love basketball, something like NBA season reviews might seem like an awesome niche that you’ll enjoy writing about every day. Unfortunately, the NBA’s official pages will never be beaten no matter how many powerful links you build to your page.
Long-tail keywords are going to be dominated by these official sites as well. This will be very hard to beat out the huge authority of the official NBA results.
Most keyword searches aren’t like this, and it takes a little bit of common sense to spot these kinds of results pages. But in the first stage of competition analysis, this is all we’re looking for. If it does look like mission impossible, then I would dump the keyword/niche. If it’s not, then let’s move onto the next step.
Second Step: Domain metrics at a glance
For this step, I like to use one of these chrome extensions to help me overlay the Google SERP with some domain metrics.
- Keyword Surfer (Free)
- Ubersuggest (Free)
Using either of the above extensions I will be able to see the search results and associated domain metrics per listing. This gives me at a glance an idea of how mission impossible the keywords are. I can do this very fast and get really good insights straight away in the SERP.
I look for the power of the domain, the number of links to the page, how much social activity the blog post has and a quick glance at the other metrics. Save your research and add notes to the keywords that you analysed and any notes from step 1 and step 2 so you know what to target and what to avoid.
Step 4 Building Your Blog
Here we build the foundation for greatness. We create the setup, structure and way people navigate and engage with our blog.
Building The Foundations For Your Blog
Now we have built all the framework for our money-making blog we can start to blog. What we need to do is call on our keyword research from earlier and use the most appropriate keywords or search phrases as our content focuses. We will aim to build out several articles focused on a specific topic.
There are three types of pages on websites and each one has its superpower and you need to know when to use each one.
- Pages – more permanent
- Posts – designed as status updates
- Categories – post collections
Pages: You should be building pages that help build your websites knowledge of the niche. Look at my site I’m focusing on online learning so I’m using pages for learning, tools to help do the work and this page that helps you get started.
Posts: These articles, blogs or posts as they are known are best used as status updates but more in-depth. You can build unlimited posts and cover any range of topic. These are great at helping to build out your website as they live mainly on the www.yourwebsite.com/blog/ page. You can use these to fatten out your content around any topic and interlink them to your main pages where you make money.
Categories: These are best used to group collections of posts about a specific topic. Like this blog, I have a category for affiliate marketing, one for sales funnels and more related to each sub-topic within the online marketing niche. These categories help me group a topic. You can use the category hubs to build intent focused content that people want to learn.
You should decide if you will have a static home page (fixed page) for the structure of the home page or use a blogroll that updates with each new post.
Using the page structure setup allows for more of a brand or business feel as you have built out.
The required pages will be:
- Home static page
- About page
- Terms of Service
- Affiliate Disclosure page
You can fatten this up with a contact page, tools or resources page and then adding assorted other hubs like a learning hub or guides etc that will help serve the audience you are attracting.
You can use your niche site like a blogroll where the homepage is a reel of blog posts that is updated every time you post new content. This depends on your business model. I don’t like doing this I would go for a newspaper or magazine-style homepage over blogroll.
Think of your website as a house. You have your four walls that hold up the house but then there are internal walls that connect rooms to other spaces, well your website should follow this building blueprint. Websites use something called a sitemap that helps keep a running log of your pages and posts. This is also what Google’s crawler will follow when it visits your website.
Pillar Keywords are the pillars of my content site strategy
Even if it takes forever to rank #1 for a keyword like “pet snakes” the pillar article will bring in a TON of long-tail traffic. This long tail traffic is very interested in your topic so they are better suited to be reading your pillar content.
This is what I mean when I say authority sites don’t rely on single keywords to determine their success.
I really do not pay so much attention to competition. My goal is the long play I can work on the pillar content over time using the compound effect. Building refining and continuing to add to my pillar content. But remember, you will be creating a valuable long-term authority content site. It may not rank for all of these big keywords right away, but as you continue to build out your blog content and do proper keyword targeting and adding sweet backlinks it will over time
I hope this gives you some clarity of your website should give users an idea of what to do and where to go.
How Many Blogs Should You Have?
You should have at least 10 before you start to see any real traction. Most successful blogs have hundreds of pages that make sure they describe all the relevant category terms they are targeting. You will want to build momentum first then focus on growing and promoting your blog.
One of my goals is to publish content as regular as I can. I may not write every piece of content but the golden rule is once a month as a minimum. The more you publish the more compound effect your content will have on your online visibility. The first step is creating the schedule of content to be produced. Creating an editorial calendar will help put you on a path of productivity in your content production.
This will be a mini business that you are responsible for. Creating a blog comes with a host of responsibilities for you to manage and monetize your blog.
Did you know that some of the larger content blog sites have dedicated teams of full-time content creators, publishers and writers? It is crazy to think that your brand new blog could grow and blossom into a full-fledged content media site that has its own team of content marketers. That right there could be a big picture goal once you pick up the process of managing your niche blog site.
Step 5 Get Traffic
Website traffic is what fuels your success. If you dont have an audience all this work is for nothing. lets get you some traffic.
How We Get Traffic To Our Blog
Let’s take the example of the 2020 coronavirus where millions of people lost their jobs . This happened because the business they worked for didn’t have diversified revenue streams. Why is this relevant? well just as diversified revenue streams is a smart business move the same rule applies to traffic diversification.
You don’t own your Facebook Page
You don’t own your YouTube channel
You are building your castle on someone’s land. This is a problem and one you can fix. Having multiple sources of traffic protects you when something changes from a channel that you don’t control. The first step right away is to control your blogging platform and remove that third party risk.
Here are some ways you can own your traffic source:
- Your email list
- Your students (if you teach online)
There isn’t a lot of other traffic sources that you can own. You can only pay to play or hope that Google, Facebook and the mega powers do not change the rules overnight.
The best traffic sources for affiliate marketing and blogging are:
- Social media
- Google search engine
- Paid advertising
- Solo Ads
Making sure you have a voice on each of these will be how you can generate traffic to your website. There are a lot of advanced strategies around generating traffic and I’ll cover those in future posts. I also have several blogs about email marketing and how to use email marketing for affiliate businesses.
You can once you have the first blog working like clockwork, consider building a second and third niche blog. There are people who were just like you and getting started blogging with one website, but grew that blog into a real business. The big picture is to build and grow a portfolio of niche blog sites.
I start a blog with the thought to flip it or grow it into a keeper for years to come. But the roadmap for the blogs I start depends on how the blog is performing at the 5-8 month mark. If you want to speed up the process you can invest in paid advertising and drive more traffic to your blog site.
Traffic is the lifeblood of the internet and will make or break your success.
This may seem like a lot for you to do, but the reality is that in online marketing you build it at the front end so that it converts and generates revenue on the backend. Right away after every blog post goes live you should have some form of strategy to promote your blog content. The more you promote share and make noise about your content you increase the effects of compounding for your niche website.
If you take your time and build your website with a plan you will succeed it’s just when the site picks up momentum and starts generating revenue. This type of business can be a push-button success but it is so rare in reality, it does take work and so it should. This passive income “thing” exists but only after you put in the hard work upfront.
Step 6 Journey Timelines
Every niche site journey is different but having launched enough to know the average I’ll share my estimations.
What Timelines Can You Expect
There is no goal posts to justify what is goal and what missed the mark. Google changes its indexing standards and the intent factors regulary so we have no solid answers.
The only way to give you some timeframes to help you plan your niche site is to give you my closest estimates. These are useful for content, links and possibly when to leave your day job if you have one.
Niche Site Timeline Overview
➔ First 3 to 6 Months: Building phase where you create content, build the site and create the foundation for future success. You may get some revenue here but not likely.
➔ Next 3 Months: Continue building stick to a routine. Now you should start seeing some revenue trickle in. We should have some organic visibility for our keywords.
➔ Next 6 to 9 Months: Focus solely on content and links. We want to grow the overall size of our site so its showing Google we are active. We will have 2 or more revenue sources.
➔ 16 months to 3years: Alternative traffic sources, lead capture well oiled & we have diversified revenue streams.
➔ 3y+: Well built established site. Here you will be able to leverage affiliations, partnerships and media buys. We should have a lot of momentum now so we can be as aggressive as we want to be or as passive as well.
First 3 to 6 months:
➔ Build & brand out the niche site (This means setup theme, plugins, branding, menus, etc)
➔ Publish all your core money page content (25+ articles for traction)
➔ Publish your supporting blog info content (around 15+ posts)
➔ Create your foundation backlink profile. I usually outsource this to a Fiverr or Legiit gig but these are social profiles, web2.0’s, syndication properties and any quick win guest posts. If you have some Q&A forums that make sense to be active in build those profiles as well.
Next 3 months:
➔ We should be seeing some organic visibility for our keywords and web pages.
➔ Create more content, start growing your category topics and silos.
➔ Build more links. Start some outreach if the site is ready. I'm never rushing this stage because I want traffic and engagement before going to the next gear building links. Great content attracts decent backlinks.
Next 6 to 9 Months
➔ Re-invest revenue as often as possible. We focus on aggressive growth and need capital to do this. The formula is content and links.
◆ Value add lead magnets (Build my list value and repeat $)
➔ Create 2nd revenue method
- ➔ Build the systems. We need to start thinking about scale. Our next point will be building a team so we need SOP’s to create a system for our workers.
- ➔ Increase team by hiring a specialist to take on the work and keep me free for building relationships and deals.
Next 12 months
➔ Work on my brand as a leader in the space this is where I will look for new emerging spaces to create a voice and build an audience. I like to build a month or two of a following and then put a social channel specialist to work on the growth of the followers and posting schedule.
➔ Build a second revenue method like Private agreement affiliate deals, ClickBank, Direct vendor agreement, Email, Tools list or selling sponsored placements etc.
➔ List growth is your priority. Own your traffic and give that priority focus before focusing on third party non-controlled traffic sources.
➔ Build niche relevant relationships. But don't exclude related niche markets and influencers.
After the year mark, I spend a lot of my focus on the conversion elements and content marketing. Taking time to go back in and look at my visitor journey and any funnels and automation I have in place.
For content, I like to review GA and Google Search Console to make sure I am catching all the long-tail keywords I can to make my site footprint as big as Shaquille O'Neal's foot.
While reviewing everything Ill also touch up any email sequences that I built when I started the site so I have the most updated email sequence and content I can.
My aim is to build a seamless transition from my site content to the affiliate promotion I am providing. I really want to make it a no brainer for the reader to click the link to the offer.
After I have a handle on updates and making everything refined I check in on my site care and any technical work to be completed and it's back on the monthly cycle.
If I am flipping the site then I'll make sure all my expenses are tracked, any income is accounted for and all the flip particulars are up to date ready for a quick handover.
Explaining The Money Side
How these niche content sites make money might sound confusing, but really its just smart keyword research, affiliate links, some ad placements and answering peoples questions with your content.
How do Bloggers Get Paid?
The most popular way to make money from blogging is by using affiliate marketing. You start making money by reviewing and recommending products that have helped you in some way. A great example of this is the tools section on this WordPress blog. Ive created a list of the tools and platforms that have helped me save time, money and increased my output.
Some of may preferred money making methods for blogs are:
- Email marketing
- Creating review content
- Promoting my hosting company
- Create a blog about each target category
- Selling domain names
- Lastly Google Adsense.
I used to be very focused on Google Adsense but have since switched to the MediaVine and Ezoic type ad companies. One thing I looked at heavily was buying and selling domain names as my stash of domains grew each month I couldn’t find the time to work on them all so selling domains became a nice addition for making money from my blog.
Affiliate Product Reviews
This is a very popular way to make affiliate commissions. You will join an affiliate program and find a vendor who has products you can get a good commission on and know a bit about and create reviews, best of, roundups and buyers guides. These pages will review a product or several products and rank them as seen below usually in a table.
You can add your affiliate links to these products and make a cut of each sale. You can when you have more traffic negotiate with the vendors directly on paying you to be placed higher on your list, if you have ethical issues with this don't do it. The affiliate product review is a huge commission earner and there are multiple ways to leverage these pages.
How Affiliate Linking Works?
This will be what makes or breaks your success. There are several ways to use affiliate links and depending on your end goals you can select the way that you want to implement it.
Direct linking – you will get your affiliate link and add that to the words you want to link or the post that you are promoting without changing the URL.
example: offerpage.com/ref?ID3487G-taptap this is ugly it can deter people to click on it.
A second consideration is you can not direct link to affiliate offers on most platforms and require a safe neutral page to link in most cases.
Link masking – This is a way that you can take the direct link above and make it click friendly using link shorteners or pretty link generators like Bit.ly etc
example: offerpage.com/ref/?ID3487G-taptap will be changed to bit.ly/sweetmate a cleaner looking URL.
Link cloaking – This is where you the link will be cloaked and hidden to platforms and users.
The best way to use affiliate links to link to bridge page where you can provide some value about the offer you are promoting and then creating a link funnel that no matter where the person clicks they get funnelled to the affiliate offer. This is seen as safe from example Facebook or Pinterest platforms and you don’t risk having your account shut down.
The image below is another way to use affiliate links, what Ive done is add the product image and then linked that image. When you click on that Bootcamp image you will visit the product sales page with my affiliate link. Click the image below and pay attention to what happens to the URL as you open the new browser tab. That's affiliate linking in real life.
Lead Capture Forms
The lead form is not that important for affiliates but I don’t want to tell you to skim over this. The lead capture can be used in so many ways to help build your email list or for selling leads if you go down that route.
Free ebook lead captures still work today!
Using forms to capture emails will significantly help you build that email list. Most use cases are contact or enquiry forms. I suggest also looking at pop up forms, slide-ins and redirect to form pages for building the list.
For readers exploring lead generation as a pathway, the form will be your money maker. I use Gravity Forms for this and Zapier or a native integration to my extension or CRM.
ClickFunnels has a smooth lead capture form flow that passes data to the email sender and CRM.
Don’t overlook lead capture forms for your niche sites. A real successful blog would have a decent-sized email list attached to it, one that has an engaged email list. Just having an email list increases your ability to generate affiliate sales. You can also use the angle of email to promote your blog by email and create a two or three-dimensional successful blog.
Tip: If you work at an agency or you have clients you can use these tips for lead generation for products and services businesses as well.
The Importance of an Email autoresponder
This is the tactic that will be your backend sales machine. You can create a following and this will be how you connect with them and send them promotions where they can purchase based on your recommendation.
You can use whatever you like I prefer an email platform that has a form builder and tagging feature for more advanced control of messaging and campaign management. We have covered a few tools that I have used in the marketing tools page and why I moved to a new email provider.
Here are the most popular email autoresponders:
Every tool has its pro’s and cons but it comes down to what you need from your email tool. Some allow you to build landing pages and build lead forms where others focus more on automating campaigns, sequences, tagging and split testing.
This is how you will communicate with your followers so depending on your current status and following you may need to spend some money to get started. I didn’t realise the importance of building an email list when I was starting I thought it was more of an expense than I cared for and skipped over email marketing totally and what a regret that turned out to be.
I had a cosplay superhero niche site and had a lead form and newsletter setup without connecting any emailer platform and it just didn’t occur to me to check on it but I had over 30k subscribers and had no way to email them promotions or offers. Oh man, what a rookie move.
So really what I want to convey right now as it wasn’t highlighted for me, in the beginning, is building your email list is CRITICAL to your online success. You own it you control it and you can build it. If you take one thing away from this blog I would suggest it's the email list.
Above Image: This is how it all starts. A small trickle of traffic and keyword rankings and then you start to see the momentum. It isnt easy and it doesnt happen overnight. This was a brand new domain setup with 10 pages around a specific niche. This image represents day 24 and is a screenshot of the Google Search Console performance report showing that the impressions have increased overnight.
Below Image: This will be what you want to be aiming for once you get that momentum built up. This is the same tool measuring a different domain that has more content, more age and more traffic. The goal is to create helpful content to get Google & people to read and enjoy your website content.
Next Move Is Yours?
So what next? Well, you have the plan laid out for you above, you can do this alone or you can join a community where you can get help, tips, guides and someone who can help you because they have done this before. I network and can introduce you to other like-minded people who are on the same journey as you.
When you master running one site you can think about starting a second and so on and so on. The goal for you long term should be to have a business built online that functions with your direction, if you can build an empire I support you. But first one thing at a time.
I want you to make your first dollar online because you read this guide.
Thanks for reading.