No matter where you land online, if you search for “how to start a successful blog” or “how to create a successful website,” you will surely end up reading a it-is-super-easy-to-get-rich-online kind of blog post. Or in other words, a scheme that will supposedly make you rich while you read. The type of article that will make you sign up for an expensive seminar, which should somehow make you a baller on a yacht overnight.
But if you tried some of the steps mentioned inside these articles. Paid for seminars and ultimate handbooks – like me when I was a teenager – you probably noticed something. Something quite bizarre and extraordinary: That, despite the efforts you put after reading the post, book, whatever you’re somehow still not insanely rich and famous; That, things didn’t go as planned; That, you’re still living with your parents, unfortunately, not on a freaking island drinking pina coladas like supposedly the author does.
So, to rescue you from the nights spent sleeping on the couch inside your parent’s basement, I’ve prepared an extraordinarily long blog post about starting a successful website. And no, I didn’t write 2500+ words to bore you to death – though, running a business is kind of boring, especially online. I did it because maintaining a website, any type of site for that matter, takes a lot of time and success is often not guaranteed.
I also did it because it bugs me when I see articles that promise easy-peasy success online but in reality, things are quite different. Yeah, if what mentioned in these get-rich-fast articles was true, everyone in the world was going to be astonishingly rich, living the dream, but as you know, the majority of people are far from rich. OK, let’s not drag this any longer. Here are 374 easy steps for online domination a.k.a. how to start a blog:
Step 1: Actually Want to Start a Blog
Starting a blog, a website, a small e-commerce store is easy. You just register a domain with one of the hosting providers and you’re halfway there (more about that later). What’s important in the online business industry though, it’s not starting, it’s staying in business. And staying in business is highly influenced by your desire to keep pushing.
If you read somewhere that having a website is cool and you decided to start one just because it’s a trendy thing, you most probably won’t get far. Maintaining a blog is hard work. It’s like nurturing a baby: you need to take care of it daily.
If you’re not absolutely certain that sitting behind a laptop for a couple of hours per day is something you can bear with, do something else instead. Go grab a beer.
If you are ready, though: have no friends, a partner, you hate your 9 to five job, you dream about posting pictures of you working in exotic places. You’re born entrepreneur my internet friend. Just keep reading till the end…
Steps 2-37: Make a Hell Of a Research
Here’s how most people start their online ventures: “I’ve watched all Garry V videos about hustle and I pumped; I bought the new MacBook Pro; Ordered the newest self-help books from Amazon + took a shower.”
Hold your horses amigo. Don’t buy anything yet.
Before you post your first Instagram photo of your laptop with a cup of coffee on the side with the caption “I make my own rules #livingthedream #winning,” do some research of the market you’re going to enter. See what the others are doing.
Understand how websites work. Load similar sites of what you’re thinking of doing. See what people are selling. Take a week and do just that. Only when you start having dreams about sites, the only thing you do is talk about is sites, every thought you have is about sites, only then you can move to the next few steps.
Steps 38-59: Create a Draft
No, don’t just write one draft. Write till you’re out of paper.
If you’re thinking, “Come on. Do I really need to write? Is this really important? I don’t even own a pen!”
To address your whining, I’ll put it this way: 90% of the sites created are abandoned only after a few weeks time. The other 9.99% fail miserably after a few years or less.1 There are several reasons for the high percentage of failures: 1) Easy and inexpensive to start a website; 2) Lack of long-term commitment; 3) The person who started had no idea what he was doing, thus wasted his time (a.k.a didn’t prepare a draft).
In conclusion, fail on paper before you fuck up for real. Write in details what you’re going to sell; What are you going to write about; What type of people you’re going to help; Even how do you want your site to look. Make a sketch of your site and how you want your menus. Write it all down. No matter where it is, you can use a napkin. The idea is to outline your desires. Basically, create a future vision for your project which you can later follow.2
Steps 60-65: Get the Essentials
Here’s the section where I’ll include the steps most sorry-ass sites write about. “The 5 easy steps.” Let’s get on with them:
Get a hosting: To have a site. You’ll need a hosting provider. It’s a yearly fee. I recommend using SiteGround for both your hosting and for your domain name.
Install WordPress: Installing WordPress is easy. There are tons of articles that will help you with the process. I recommend checking this one, here.
Design the site: You’ll need a WordPress theme to make your site look better than the default installation. I’m using Zeen WordPress theme. Although it’s a paid theme and kind of complicated to setup, it’s beautiful. If you’re just starting and you want something simple and free, I’ll suggest downloading OceanWP.
Install the plugins you’ll need: Adding more functionality to your WordPress site is done via plugins. The following article will help you get started with the essentials: LINK.
Important note: Paying for hosting and for a domain name is mandatory if you’re serious about your online business. Yet, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a theme or premium plugins initially. You can start with free plugins and buy only when it’s absolutely necessary. There are hundreds of free resources for WordPress sites that are more than enough for people starting. Ping me in the comments (or contact me) if you want more info about these free resources.
Steps 66-70: Add a few Necessary Pages
Being different online is kind of mandatory if you want to gain more followers. Yet, some things you need to copy. People are used to seeing pages like an about page, contact us page, privacy and similar. You need them because people will look for them.
The About Us page, for example, is an important section of your site. That’s the place online where you can share your mission with the world as an online creator.
Once you have the necessary pages on your site, add media files and pictures of the people behind it. This will not only make navigating on your site easier, but it will also build trust in the eyes of the people stumbling on your blog online. Make your site look personal. Trustworthy.
Once you have the main pages published, just make sure they’re loading properly.
OK, that’s all. Now, you can get a cup of coffee, sit and wait for the orders to pile up. Also, you can finally add in your Twitter bio that you’re an entrepreneur.
“Really? Is this all?”
That’s only the appetizer. Actually, it’s even before the appetizer. You just went to the store and purchased the groceries for the meal. Now you need to actually prepare a meal. Or in other words, roll up for your sleeves lad. Lock the dog, sharpen the saw, and get ready for some real hard work.
Steps 71-102: Write Your First 30 Blog Posts
It’s called blogging for a reason.
Blogs thrive when they’re regularly updated with new information. Each blog post is an opportunity for you to reach more people who will supposedly spend their hard-earned cash to buy your online course, product, or whatever you’re selling. Just make sure it’s worth it. Otherwise, negative reviews and refunds will get you out of business. And not only. As a creator, you have responsibility for the people reading your stuff. Make sure what you put in the online space is helpful for those who grant you with their attention and money.
Now, back to our writing.
Think of your site as a house in the middle of nowhere. Each new blog post is like a new route to your house. More routes mean more people visiting, thus potentially more sales of what you’re selling. The better the article, the shorter the path to your site. Meaning, easier for the people reading to understand the core idea of what you have to offer and potentially buy from you.
If you’re naturally good with words, you don’t have to worry about a thing. However, if you associate English and writing with a crucifixion, screaming teachers, parents beating you for all of your F’s, we might have a problem. Yet, there are alternatives:
Get better through trial and error: You read, write, you suck initially but you get better at it. Downside: It takes time;
Outsource: If you absolutely hate writing – the sole thought of writing gives you a headache – you can hire someone to do the job for you. Downside: It costs money;
Audio and video: Podcasts and vlogging are quite popular these days. Actually, a lot of the new “entrepreneurs” choose podcasting over blogging to build their personal brands. Some even say that soon audio is going to turn blogging to dust. I personally believe that the two can coexist. Yet, both audio and video are great alternatives. So, if you can’t write, talk and record yourself while doing it. It’s strange initially but you’ll get better over time.
Steps 103-125: Despite the Zero Progress, Don’t Give Up
Take a short break from your new online venture. Stop listening to what others are saying about their success. Meet with people who are also trying to make it by blogging. Share your grief with them.
Success online it’s not easy. A feeling of weary will surely catch up with you and try to bring you down. Convince yourself that what you’re doing is worth it.
Steps 126-137: Consider Quitting
Regardless of what other online gurus feed your mind with, on some occasions, shutting the project is the best thing you can do. It’s a hard decision to make, especially if you spent months on the project.
However, if you’re a couple of years in the “business” and you don’t see any sign of progress, it’s probably best to abandon ship and do something else. Learn from your mistakes and start again. Don’t fall into the trap that you should keep going no matter what, sometimes it’s best to quit. The sooner you realize this, the better.
Steps 138-157: Figure Out How To Block All The Distractions
Often progress is slow not because the market is stagnant. Rather, because we’re not doing enough to attract more customers.
It’s easy to get distracted while you’re sitting behind your laptop throughout the day. Social media and inspirational slogans can easily eat all of your time, leaving you with good intentions only.
If you’re serious about your business, you need to show it. You need to set some boundaries while you’re working on your site. The online space is flooded with tips and articles about productivity and life-hacking. I’ve written a couple of articles myself, here, here, and here. Yet, the best advice I can give you is rather common: block social media. Yep, this simple act will grant you with the time you think you don’t have. If you don’t feel savage enough to quit, unfollow your friends. This way, you won’t see anything inside your news feed, thus get back to work.
Steps 158-358: Write 200 Blog Posts
Or in other words, build a writing habit.
A blog is about blog posts. And blogs posts are composed of written words. As mentioned, the more articles you have, the more people will be able to find you online.
Ask any writer online and he’ll tell you the same thing about success online. That good things come to those who write, regularly.3
Your first 30 posts will surely suck. The other 30 will be bearable and slowly over time, things will get slightly better. The more you write and publish content on your site, the better you will get.
However, don’t assume that a 200-word article will do the job. The main goal of each post should be to help people. To educate. To be useful for the person reading. This type of content takes time to be produced, but it’s worth it.
Steps 359-374: Offer Something Extra
Do you know what will happen after you publish 200 (good and useful) posts? Well, except that you will need a new keyboard, you’ll also have an audience of people reading your stuff regularly. The latter, of course, if you did a good job with the writing. And do you know what regular readers want? They want more!
If people trust you. If they consider you an expert in the field, they will gladly support your cause by buying whatever you have to offer. Such people will buy basically everything you create because it’s created by you.
At that point, you’ll have yourself a successful blog. In most of the cases, the whole process mentioned above might take a couple of years – 2 or even more. That’s why a lot of people quit. They are not up for the challenge.
But if you endure through all the setbacks and sustain your sanity regardless of all the times you cry alone in your room, you keep writing apart from the doubt you feel deep down, you will succeed. It’s not guaranteed, but you have a better chance of winning than anyone else starting if you continue pushing no matter how hard it is.
Some Closing Thoughts
If you come across sites which explain that you can create a successful blog in just 5 steps you better run. Hit the “X” and move on with your life. Setting up a site in 5 steps is absolutely doable. But making it a successful one is a whole different story.
As you can imagine, no matter you like it or not, it doesn’t end with the above mentioned 374 steps. If people start noticing you, more things will pile up on your to-do list. At that point, though, you’ll be probably making a living from your site, which will inevitably mean that you’ll need more time to maintain it.
That’s why it’s essential to start a blog about something you adore. Because otherwise, you might end up chained to a lifestyle you can’t bare.
So, to end this agonizingly long post, let me ask you this: “What you can regularly share with the world that will make you, and the people reading, happy?”
Yep, only around 0,01% of the sites created endure long enough to see some cash.